We’re still looking at the adversity David faced in spite of doing nothing to cause any of it. Having already survived multiple attempts by Saul to kill him, David is nowhere near having to watch his back around the king, who was also his father-in-law. When Saul’s son Jonathan tells David that Saul is up to his old tricks again, David cries out in exasperation, “‘What have I done?’ he exclaimed. ‘What is my crime? How have I offended your father that he is so determined to kill me?’” (I Samuel 20:1b, NLT).
Things got so bad that David and the men who had remained faithful to him were hiding in a cave. And this is where David finally got his opportunity to get even. Here’s what went down:
“Saul… was told that David had gone into the wilderness of En-gedi. So Saul chose 3,000 elite troops from all Israel and went to search for David and his men… Saul went into a cave to relieve himself. But as it happened, David and his men were hiding farther back in that very cave!” (I Samuel 24:1b-2a, 3b).
“‘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” (I Samuel 24:4).
David had the chance of a lifetime right in front of him. And he had encouragers among his men who were telling him that God had to have orchestrated this turn of events. So with his supporters urging him on, David snipped off a piece of the king’s robe.
Bet that made him feel powerful, don’t you? No, instead “David’s conscience began bothering him… ‘The Lord knows I shouldn’t have done that to my lord the king,’ he said to his men. So David restrained his men and did not let them kill Saul” (I Samuel 24:5b, 6a, 7).
The very man whom the Bible says “remained David’s enemy for the rest of his life” (I Samuel 18:29b) was protected from harm by David. And David knew that, were the situation reversed, Saul wouldn’t have hesitated to kill him.
Why was David so merciful? Because he listened to the Holy Spirit’s guidance and had better sense than to take matters into his own hands. And so should you.
Our Creator reminds us in Deuteronomy 32:35: “I will take revenge; I will pay them back. In due time their feet will slip. Their day of disaster will arrive, and their destiny will overtake them.”
“In due time.” In God’s time. Not ours. Be careful not to mistake a test for an opportunity. David passed; will you?
Copyright © 2012
Judy Woodward Bates