The following is an excerpt from the Summer 2016 issue of Explore the Bible: Adults, a 13-week study of the Book of 1 Samuel. Explore the Bible is a book-by-book group Bible study that encourages participants to let the Word dwell in them and challenges them to live it out in their own context. Preview one month free at lifeway.com/explorethebible.
Respect for Authority
Because Saul was obsessed with killing David, David was forced to go into hiding. He and his supporters hid in caves, lived in foreign lands, and did whatever was necessary to survive. From David’s perspective the situation must have been confusing. He was minding his own business when Samuel anointed him as king. He was defending God’s honor when he defeated Goliath. He was serving his king when God blessed him with military success. God gave him victories and popularity. So why was he on the run?
David’s story illustrates a common misunderstanding. When good things happen, people see them as signs of God’s approval. When bad things happen, people see them as signs of God’s disapproval. That theory is disproved throughout the Bible. Hebrews 11 recounts the stories of multiple people whom God approved for their faith, yet they went through difficult times. Difficulty isn’t necessarily a sign of God’s disapproval. In fact, God uses difficulty to mature His people.
While hiding in a cave near En-gedi, David was presented with an opportunity to kill Saul, end the persecution, and seize the throne for himself (see 1 Sam. 24:1-7). But he refused to do so. He would wait for God to remove Saul in His timing.
A second opportunity to kill Saul presented itself in the Wilderness of Ziph (see 1 Sam. 26:7-8). David’s spies reported that Saul had come. When David and Abishai entered Saul’s camp, Saul and his men were in a deep sleep brought on by the Lord. David and Abishai were able to move about freely without detection. When they came to the place where Saul was sleeping, they saw his spear stuck in the ground by his head. The spear was Saul’s weapon of choice and a symbol of his royal position. Anxious to get rid of Saul, Abishai wanted to kill him with his own spear.
Again, David refused to kill Saul. He could have assumed these opportunities were his reward for righteous living. After all, logic says, “God is pleased with you. Take your reward.” But faith says, “God’s blessings won’t compromise God’s principles. Circumstances don’t indicate God’s favor or disapproval. God is your reward.” David responded in faith and refused to harm Saul.
“Don’t destroy him, for who can lift a hand against the LORD’s anointed and be blameless?” David added, “As the LORD lives, the LORD will certainly strike him down: either his day will come and he will die, or he will go into battle and perish. However, because of the LORD, I will never lift my hand against the LORD’s anointed” (1 Sam. 26:9-11).
Saul was the sovereign king, and David was his loyal subject. Even though Saul’s kingdom was doomed, it wasn’t David’s place to take matters into his own hands. God’s ultimate plan didn’t require David’s involvement. It wasn’t his place to punish the Lord’s servant. While Abishai was willing to kill Saul, David recognized that God had a better way. If David and his men took matters into their own hands, they would be acting against the Lord’s anointed. In exercising restraint toward one of the Lord’s leaders, David would let God handle the situation in His timing and according to His sovereign purposes.
Excerpted from Explore the Bible: Adults, Eric Geiger, general editor © 2016 Lifeway Press®. Used by permission.
Scripture quotations are taken from the Holman Christian Standard Bible®, Copyright © 1999, 2000, 2002, 2003, 2009 by Holman Bible Publishers®. Used by permission.