Day 16

David Spares Saul

from the 1 & 2 Samuel reading plan

1 Samuel 23:1-29, 1 Samuel 24:1-22, Psalm 54:1-7, John 19:10-11

BY Guest Writer

Scripture Reading: 1 Samuel 23:1-29, 1 Samuel 24:1-22, Psalm 54:1-7, John 19:10-11

When righteous young David has the chance to take out paranoid, egotistical, narcissistic Saul twice and doesn’t do it, part of me wants to throw my hands up in frustration. That’s not how the story should go! The hero is supposed to seize his opportunity to conquer his enemy, then ride off into the sunset as the credits roll.

Instead, David’s anti-climactic showdown with Saul reminds us who the real Hero is. In 1 Samuel 24, David and a small army of followers are on the run. Saul and an army of 3,000 soldiers are hunting David with the goal to kill him.  

In an ironic, almost comical twist, the paranoid king decides to relieve himself in the very cave where David and his men were hiding. If I’d been in David’s squad, I would’ve joined their rallying cry.

“Look, this is the day the Lᴏʀᴅ told you about: ‘I will hand your enemy over to you so you can do to him whatever you desire’” (1 Samuel 24:4).

Take your shot! He’s got it coming! Eliminate the threat! Instead, David sneaks up behind his archenemy and cuts off the corner of his robe.

Wait. What?

David had already been anointed king, and clearly, Saul was no good for God’s people—his thirst for David’s blood was insatiable. So why then, does David opt to take a piece of Saul’s robe, as opposed to a piece of the man himself?

How could David be so bridled in the face of an enemy so bent on his destruction? It wasn’t that David didn’t crave relief from his enemy. He hadn’t assumed a position of defeat. He knew the battle ultimately belonged to the Lord.

At the mouth of the cave, David said these words to Saul:

“May the Lᴏʀᴅ judge between me and you, and may the Lᴏʀᴅ take vengeance on you for me, but my hand will never be against you” (1 Samuel 24:12).

We don’t have to seek revenge or take out our enemies. David’s defender is our defender. When we find ourselves face to face with a threat, our Father’s advice is to respond with kindness and let Him do what He will (Proverbs 25:21-22).

David’s restraint helps us grasp the big picture. If we widen the lens, we can see that the Lord has disarmed our ultimate enemy. God alone is the ultimate Authority and Judge in this world and the world to come (John 19:10-11).

So we don’t have to head into every fight with fists clenched. We don’t have to be the judge and jury in our search for justice. David’s defender is fighting for us. He is our helper, the sustainer of our lives, and our rescuer in every situation (Psalm 54:4,7). The battle belongs to the Lord!


Erin Davis is an author, blogger, and speaker who loves to see women of all ages run to the deep well of God’s Word. When she’s not writing, you can find Erin chasing chickens and children on her small farm in the Midwest.

Post Comments (59)

59 thoughts on "David Spares Saul"

  1. Amy says:

    It’s amazing that God woke me up this morning to his word and I read this passage about David sparing Saul. I later then opened She Reads Truth app and found today was the same assigned passage to read. Wow. I suppose I really needed to get this message in my heart today. We all are Gods anointed and it’s important that we don’t take our angry out on them and allow God to bring the ultimate correction. We are called to live most of all. Yes, there are times we will share our feelings or bring correction from Gods word but we are not to attack our brother and sister in Christ, if even if they are our family member or spouse.

  2. Karen From Virginia says:

    It’s a life long battle of trust to realize that God is the God who sees. He is faithful and merciful. So many things I’ve tried to make happen or were in angst over and all along the Lord was wanting me to rest in Him, His timing, His ways.
    Even this week as I walk through grief, I’m seeing His sovereignty that this is the time. This is not random. Learning to rest in His goodness.

  3. Jordan says:

    How comforting is it to know that it is not my jobs to judge? It’s not my job to carry out revenge either. This is something I 100% struggle with because I struggle with low self esteem. Sometimes, everything can look like an attack and I am quick to defend myself – hurting others more than I think that they’ve tried to hurt me. I don’t have the confidence to be vulnerable like David, but that is my prayer today. I want to be confident in my vulnerability, while submitting my hurt to the Lord to handle. He will fight my battles better than I ever could!

    1. Emily B. says:

      Amen! You can let it get and be confident in how God will fight and resolve things for you. :)

  4. Brenna says:

    I was struck by chapter 23 this morning – how often does David inquire of God before making a decision or taking an action? 4 times. David went before God to seek guidance 4 times. And each time God answered. Such a comfort to remember God hears us!

    1. Gina Glennon says:

      Yes, I too thought of that and how I need to seek after God more quickly than I do as life confronts me.

  5. Gretchen says:

    This was such a blessing to me today. I was raised to have a deep sense of justice and fairness and I constantly find my heart at odds in a world that is neither just or fair. I often wish to set things right and make people see their errors although I know it’s not my place and that it reflects my pride. The scriptures and devotional today were a really well placed reminder that God is just and the justifier of all. I am reading a book on spiritual humility and this tied in so well. Davids incredibly humble response was actually what God used to finally make Saul walk away from this unjust battle. It wasn’t Davids power or might, he humbly submitted those to the Lord and then God was able to work through him. I know that is a lesson God wants to teach me in this season of my life. God can do more through me when I am humbled before Him than I can ever accomplish in my own wisdom. Thank you for this picture today.

    1. Kristen says:

      Hi! What is the name of the book?

      1. Laura says:

        I need to know the name of this book too!

      2. Gretchen says:

        It’s called, “humility” by Andrew Murray

    2. Becky says:

      What is the book on spiritual humility?

      1. Gretchen says:

        It’s Titled: “humility” by Andrew Murray

  6. Katalina says:

    I can’t tell you how much I would’ve wanted to read this devotional years ago when I was going through some rough times. Through break ups and “friendships,” my mother would ALWAYS tell me exactly what Erin mentions in her devotional. These are the words of my grandmother who passed them down to my mother who has now passed them on to me. “There is a God in Heaven who sees it all. I have nothing to worry about.” This is one of the greatest lessons that both my grandmother and mother have taught me. God is always watching and He is nothing but fair. I am a living testament as much as they are that God does not let those who hurt or betray us walk away with a free pass. He is fair, He is Justice and He is my Defender ❤️

    1. Melinda says:

      Your words resonated with me right now. Thanks so much to you, your mom and grandmother:)

  7. Caroline says:

    I’m so thankful that we can enter our battles knowing the victory has already won and been paid for and that he fights them with us and for us, although I still think that means we have a relevant role in it all as well.

  8. Laura says:

    This morning the phrases “So David inquired of the Lord” (23:2), “David inquired of the Lord again,” (23:4), and his questions in 23:12-13 stand out to me. David is seeking the Lord, questioning Him, and waiting for a response BEFORE acting. Such a HUGE difference from Saul who would sacrifice/pray after he was in a sticky situation. May I learn to wait to hear the Lord’s voice before acting.

    1. Emily B. says:

      Yes! Thank you for pointing that out!

    2. Meagan says:

      Laura, that is so true. We are often so quick to only inquire of the Lord once and then go off and do whatever we see fit for that moment. David sought after the Lord, questioned Him multiple times, and waited before acting. This is a great reminder to me that no matter how quickly I want answers I need to wait on the Lord no matter how long it takes and in turn will be blessed by that decision.

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