David Spared Saul

6 “The Lord knows I shouldn’t have done that to my lord the king,” he said to his men. “The Lord forbid that I should do this to my lord the king and attack the Lord’s anointed one, for the Lord himself has chosen him.”
7 So David restrained his men and did not let them kill Saul.
1 Samuel 24:6-7 (NLT)

In the previous article, we have seen how David bounced back from being a fugitive to a folk hero. He was down for a moment but he always bounced back. Why? He was a king in the inside. The difference between winners and losers is the attitude inside them. When a loser loses, he loses. However, when a winner loses, he will eventually win back. Winners cannot help but win.

In David’s case, he was already a king inside him. Even though he was running and hiding like a fugitive, he could still attract hundreds of men to follow him. When the nearby town faced attacks, David’s immediate reaction was to help them as though he was their king. He was behaving like a king even before he was officially crowned as one. This tells us that every blessing of God begins spiritually.

The ultimate failure of socialism lies in its assumption that riches are only external. In a socialist’s mind, the rich oppress the poor. Their solution to end poverty is simple, take the money from the rich and give to the poor. Everyone will live happily ever after. However the facts say otherwise. The largest communist country in the world has become capitalist. Countries that adopt socialist welfare system have to impose high taxes on their wealthy citizens. Such taxes will only hinder their drive to achieve or simply drives them away.

The world has realized that giving money to the poor will not end poverty. Once the poor have finished spending their money, they will be poor again because poverty is inside them. Prosperity must begin from the inside. We have to be spiritually prosperous before we can be physically prosperous. David was such a man.

So, David became a hero again. Unfortunately, the news of his achievement had reached the king. This incident had exposed his location. King Saul mobilized his army to attack David.

8 So Saul mobilized his entire army to march to Keilah and besiege David and his men.
1 Samuel 23:8 (NLT)

The king’s army could not have marched in secret. The news of the army marching toward Keilah had reached David. David still had one advantage. When he first escaped, he took along a priest and the ephod with him. The ephod was the equivalent of a mobile phone to God. It was used to seek God’s directions. So, David used it to seek further directions from God.

9 But David learned of Saul’s plan and told Abiathar the priest to bring the ephod and ask the Lord what he should do.
10 Then David prayed, “O Lord, God of Israel, I have heard that Saul is planning to come and destroy Keilah because I am here.
11 Will the leaders of Keilah betray me to him? And will Saul actually come as I have heard? O Lord, God of Israel, please tell me.” And the Lord said, “He will come.”
12 Again David asked, “Will the leaders of Keilah betray me and my men to Saul?” And the Lord replied, “Yes, they will betray you.”
1 Samuel 23:9-12 (NLT)

He had 2 bad news. First, King Saul will come to capture him. Secondly, the leaders of Keilah will betray him to save their lives. So, the only way out was to leave the city and hide in the wilderness. Meanwhile, Saul arrived and started to hunt for David.

Both teams played cat and mouse game. There was a break in the middle of the game when the Philistines made trouble at the borders. So, King Saul stopped the hunt to deal with the problem. However after he settled the Philistines problem, he was back to hunt for David again.

One day, as Saul was relieving himself in a cave, he stumbled into David’s ambush. It was David’s opportunity to kill Saul to solve his problem.

4 “Now’s your opportunity!” David’s men whispered to him. “Today the Lord is telling you, ‘I will certainly put your enemy into your power, to do with as you wish.’” So David crept forward and cut off a piece of the hem of Saul’s robe.
5 But then David’s conscience began bothering him because he had cut Saul’s robe.
6 “The Lord knows I shouldn’t have done that to my lord the king,” he said to his men. “The Lord forbid that I should do this to my lord the king and attack the Lord’s anointed one, for the Lord himself has chosen him.”
7 So David restrained his men and did not let them kill Saul.
1 Samuel 24:5-7 (NLT)

However, David refused to kill Saul. In his mind Saul was still the king, anointed by God. When David was first anointed by Samuel, the prophet never mentioned the word “king”. At that time, no one on earth except Samuel and Saul knew that God had chosen another king to replace Saul. So, David believed that killing Saul would be dishonoring God.

How was he going to solve his problems if he did not kill Saul and seize his kingdom? Obviously, David must have believed that God will make a way. His faith was fully in God’s faithfulness to him. He trusted God to deliver him even if he did not kill Saul. This is faith.

David called out to Saul.

8 David came out and shouted after him, “My lord the king!” And when Saul looked around, David bowed low before him.
9 Then he shouted to Saul, “Why do you listen to the people who say I am trying to harm you?
10 This very day you can see with your own eyes it isn’t true. For the Lord placed you at my mercy back there in the cave. Some of my men told me to kill you, but I spared you. For I said, ‘I will never harm the king—he is the Lord’s anointed one.’
11 Look, my father, at what I have in my hand. It is a piece of the hem of your robe! I cut it off, but I didn’t kill you. This proves that I am not trying to harm you and that I have not sinned against you, even though you have been hunting for me to kill me.
12 “May the Lord judge between us. Perhaps the Lord will punish you for what you are trying to do to me, but I will never harm you.
13 As that old proverb says, ‘From evil people come evil deeds.’ So you can be sure I will never harm you. 14 Who is the king of Israel trying to catch anyway? Should he spend his time chasing one who is as worthless as a dead dog or a single flea?
15 May the Lord therefore judge which of us is right and punish the guilty one. He is my advocate, and he will rescue me from your power!”
1 Samuel 24:8-15 (NLT)

His logic was perfect. The piece of Saul’s robe in David’s hand had proven that David had never intended to seize Saul’s throne. The entire speech above has shown that Saul was totally wrong. As a result, Saul regretted his actions.

16 When David had finished speaking, Saul called back, “Is that really you, my son David?” Then he began to cry.
17 And he said to David, “You are a better man than I am, for you have repaid me good for evil.
18 Yes, you have been amazingly kind to me today, for when the Lord put me in a place where you could have killed me, you didn’t do it.
19 Who else would let his enemy get away when he had him in his power? May the Lord reward you well for the kindness you have shown me today.
20 And now I realize that you are surely going to be king, and that the kingdom of Israel will flourish under your rule.
21 Now swear to me by the Lord that when that happens you will not kill my family and destroy my line of descendants!”
1 Samuel 24:16-21 (NLT)

In his repentance, Saul had mentioned something very interesting. Saul first got jealous and wanted to kill David because of the latter’s military success. He suspected David was the one God had chosen to replace him because of the military success. In Verse 20, Saul was convinced that David would be the new king anointed by God. Why? David showed him mercy. He even wanted David to swear that his family would not be harmed when David took the throne.

This is the power of mercy. David’s mercy toward Saul had overcome Saul’s determination to kill him. The world sees mercy as a weakness but God sees it as strength. When we are acting in mercy, we are acting in the power of God. No other power is greater.

What is mercy in the first place? It is the willingness in not returning evil for evil. Saul had been trying to use any means to kill David but when he fell into the hands of David, David spared him. David could have killed Saul but he didn’t. Saul recognized that as God’s anointing on David. Saul pleaded David not to harm his family when he become king.

The lesson for us here is we should not be ashamed to show mercy to those who have wronged us. Mercy is a powerful force from God. There will definitely be people who will take advantage of your mercy. In situations like this, let God deal with them. Those who take advantage and abuse your mercy had placed themselves as the enemies of God. Don’t feel angry with them, fell sorry instead. Being the enemy of God is not an enviable position.

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