Here’s David, Saul’s son-in-law, being hunted down by Saul and his men. David, instead of taking the “opportunity” laid before him, sees it for what it is: a test to see if he will harm God’s appointed leader before the Lord’s own timing for David to replace him.
Saul, grateful that David didn’t kill him when he had the chance, “began to cry. And he said to David, ‘You are a better man than I am, for you have repaid me good for evil. 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. 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. And now I realize that you are surely going to be king, and that the kingdom of Israel will flourish under your rule” (I Samuel 24:16b-20, NLT).
Saul was momentarily grateful, but it wasn’t long before he was once again seeking to take David’s life. Even before the incident in the cave, Saul had made a sort of “black ops” attempt on David:
“Saul sent troops to watch David’s house. They were told to kill David when he came out the next morning. But Michal, David’s wife, warned him… So she helped him climb out through a window, and he fled and escaped” (I Samuel 19:11a, 12).
“So David escaped and went to Ramah to see Samuel, and he told him all that Saul had done to him. Then Samuel took David with him to live at Naioth. When the report reached Saul that David was at Naioth in Ramah, he sent troops to capture him. But when they arrived and saw Samuel leading a group of prophets who were prophesying, the Spirit of God came upon Saul’s men, and they also began to prophesy. When Saul heard what had happened, he sent other troops, but they, too, prophesied! The same thing happened a third time. Finally, Saul himself went… But on the way to Naioth in Ramah the Spirit of God came even upon Saul, and he, too, began to prophesy” (I Samuel 19:18-22a, 23a).
Remember, prior to Christ’s resurrection, the Holy Spirit didn’t indwell believers. He had been with Saul as God’s chosen leader, but First Samuel 16:14a tells us that “The Spirit of the Lord had left Saul.” Samuel had told him: “Since you have rejected the Lord’s command, He has rejected you as king of Israel” (I Samuel 15:26b).
And who had God chosen to replace Saul? David. And nothing – not Saul, his army or anything else – was going to stop God’s plan from being fulfilled.
When Saul’s men and even Saul “began to prophesy,” what were they proclaiming? Scripture doesn’t tell us, but I firmly believe that Saul and his men were proclaiming the very same thing that Samuel and the other true prophets were proclaiming: the sovereignty of God and his choice of David as king.
Many may turn their backs on God, but His plans will succeed through those willing to obey Him. The Bible reminds us that believers and unbelievers will one day confess the truth. Saul, unwilling and disobedient, did just that.
“Before Me every knee will bow; by Me every tongue will swear” (Isaiah 45:23b, NIV).
Copyright © 2012
Judy Woodward Bates