Who says the Bible is boring? David, hiding in a cave with his men, is astounded when Saul chooses that very spot for a private potty break. Saul, the man who is determined to hunt David to the death, is alone and at David’s mercy.
But that’s just it: David had mercy. He did “cut off a piece of the hem of Saul’s robe” (I Samuel 24:4b); but he immediately realized he’d let his men wrongfully influence him and he repented of his deed and “restrained his men and did not let them kill Saul” (I Samuel 24:7).
So what happened next? “After Saul had left the cave and gone on his way, David came out and shouted after him, ‘My lord the king!’ And when Saul looked around, David bowed low before him” (I Samuel 24:8). Why was David shouting? Because he wasn’t stupid – he didn’t call out until Saul was a good distance away.
“Then he shouted to Saul, ‘Why do you listen to the people who say I am trying to harm you? 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.’ 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” (I Samuel 24:9-10).
David “bowed low” in honor of the man who was trying to kill him? No, he bowed to the one whom God had allowed to be in authority. Folks, there’s a huge lesson here. Whether we agree or disagree with our country’s, state’s, county’s, city’s – and, dare I say, churches’ – leaders, we should have as much sense as David and realize that they wouldn’t be in those positions had God Almighty not allowed them to be. We are to respect the position, even if we have no reason whatsoever to respect the person; and we are to respect the person because of his or her position.
Likewise, Exodus 20:12a gives us the fifth commandment: “Honor your father and mother.” Whether your parents are completely deserving or undeserving of your respect, you’re to give it because God says to.
David showed proper honor to King Saul even though he knew that he’d been chosen to replace Saul at God’s appointed time. And he closes his words to Saul on this occasion with a statement we can all learn from when it comes to dealing with our adversaries:
“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. As that old proverb says, ‘From evil people come evil deeds.’ So you can be sure I will never harm you. 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!” (I Samuel 24:12-13, 15).
Let “the Lord judge between” you and your enemies. Let the Lord mete out the punishment. But you make a commitment to “never harm” anyone through your thoughts, words or actions.
Copyright © 2012
Judy Woodward Bates