David Spares Saul

Open Your Bible

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

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.

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59 thoughts on "David Spares Saul"

  1. Kristen Clegs says:

    What always pierces me from this passage is David’s choice to wait on God. God had promised that he would be king, he was already anointed king, and he had just acted as a king should in defending Keilah when Saul was too distracted with tracking him down. He could have helped along the fulfillment of God’s promise, could have ensured his own security.
    Contrast to Abraham. God made promises to Abraham too: offspring as the sand of the sea – a son. Years passed and save got tired of waiting for God to fulfill His promise. He saw an opportunity to help things along and took it. But by doing so, he stepped outside God’s parameters for marriage and morality, he chose not to wait on the Lord, and he marred God’s perfect plan.
    What a good warning to me to check my motives and my course, to not manage situations in my own wisdom, and, like David, stand back and say: “The battle is the Lord’s.”

    1. Kristen Clegs says:

      *Abe got tired…

    2. Myra C says:

      Kristen, that’s so good!!! Thank you for that

  2. Lana says:

    Timely. Timely. Timely. This devotional was an answer to my prayers. I’m so happy God delayed my reading because this is just the morning I needed this most. Thank you, SRT and all my sisters in the community.

  3. Lindsey says:

    Praise God that he is our defender. Even so, it’s difficult reading this in light of the current events in America surrounding the “alt-right” movement and the doctrine they are proclaiming. I’m wrestling with how Christians can stand with the oppressed today? What does it look like for Jesus followers to “cut off the corner of the robe” trusting that God has won the ultimate battle? How do we be David’s in the presence of a life-threatening Saul without passively standing by?

    1. Littleamore says:

      It’s not the object that is the battle (Saul/alt-right)… it’s how we act upon perception. The only reality is that by which God has already been victorious over. I believe God created us to care for what we can control on this earth. It’s our choice then to believe. What we believe and focus on is our choice. But he will always draw our attention back to him. He gave us each a fingerprint, where we place it and how we spend our energy with the life he’s given us is our blessing. Because nothing exists, no action can come without him coming first in our battles. So ask yourself does alt-right a reality, or is it the perception that someone is trying to impose on me. And if alt-right is not the battle what is. Maybe it’s succumbing to labels, not working on or developing the community in front of us. People only put labels on things they don’t understand because separating themselves and isolating themselves is easier than having to accept other personalities and struggles. At the end of the day what you read is just my perception. You decide what speaks to you and what you consume. God defines your worth and where you’re home remains.

    2. Lana says:

      I think I understand what Littleamore is saying here and I too believe much of our reality is what we choose to focus on. With that said, when Jesus saw a crowd of people looking to stone a woman for her sins, he did not ignore it. He actively stood up for the woman. He reminded the crowd of her humanity. He reminded them of their own individual humanity. Jesus was not a pacifist. Jesus fought with love. This is how you fight injustice. David did it when he approached Saul from the cave and Jesus did it all his life. You are kindly reminding people of your own humanity and the humanity of others. You are not judging them. You are reminding them with firm love asking for God’s guidance and a miracle as you speak.

  4. Anon says:

    https://youtu.be/ghhoNOT6xi4 (Sermon of The Winning Hand)