Read: 1 Samuel 24
Focus: 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. 1 Samuel 24:19 – 20
The story of David and Saul is fascinating to me. It is a story in which Saul was chosen by God and anointed to be Israel’s first king. As a great warrior, Saul originally furthered God’s mission, but he eventually allowed pride to take over his heart, and he chose to disobey God (1 Samuel 15).
Even though based on outward appearances, it appeared that there weren’t any consequences for Saul’s pride and his disobedience, in reality, we are told that the Lord ripped the kingdom from Saul at that time. We can see the consequences as we continue to read about Saul through the next chapters of 1 Samuel. In 1 Samuel 16, we read of Saul being tormented by depression and fear. In 1 Samuel 17, we read of Saul and his troops being “terrified and deeply shaken” by Goliath and the Philistine army. Before David’s arrival on the scene, it looks like Saul and his troops are about to be crushed; I can just picture them cowering in fear from the physically imposing Goliath and the Philistine troops. As Goliath mocks Saul and God, Saul is powerless in his fear to defend the name of God. However, it wasn’t God’s plan that Israel be crushed there, so God brought David on the scene. After David killed Goliath, God raised David up to be the mightiest warrior in Israel. You would think that Saul would be happy that he had such a powerful warrior on his side, but that’s not how it works when we let pride take over our lives as Saul did. Instead, Saul listened to the whisperings of the enemy and allowed the cancerous tendrils of pride to seep deeply into his heart and mind, and he grew bitterly jealous of David. In 1 Samuel 18 – 19, we see how jealous and demented Saul’s pride had made him as he schemes again and again to have David killed. Saul used his own daughter as a ploy to try to have David murdered. However, God was with David, and Saul’s plans failed. Over the years, David and Jonathan, Saul’s son, had grown to love each other greatly; the Bible states that they were as bothers and loved each other as much as each loved himself. David married Saul’s daughter, Michal, and both Michal and Jonathan at various times work to save David from their father. Saul’s pride and jealousy had grown so irrational that they even led Saul to try to kill his own son over fear of David escaping another of his traps (1 Samuel 20). Jonathan helped David escape Saul again, and we see the next several chapters detailing, among other events, an 8 year time period where Saul is chasing and trying to kill David. The map available here shows Saul’s pursuit of David based on the events recorded in 1 Samuel 21 – 31: Saul Hunts for David Map.
In today’s reading, David has been on the run from Saul for four years. Put yourself in David’s perspective – someone whom you thought of as a father has been crazily pursuing you wanting to kill you for four long years. You haven’t done anything to warrant this betrayal; as a matter of fact, you fought for him. During this long chase, you haven’t seen your family, you’ve been separated from your best friends. You had to pretend you were crazy to survive while on the run (1 Samuel 21). Meals and shelter are day to day – you are relying on the Lord for every bit of your provision. All of sudden the very one who has made your life a living hell places himself in the most vulnerable position right in front of you. Your own men, who have also been harried by Saul, are telling you this is a gift from God Himself – how could Saul have been delivered to you like this unless it was from the Lord; rid yourself and us from this menace. Can you understand the temptation; can you almost feel how Satan is using a situation and pretending it to be from God to tempt David to violate what the Holy Spirit is telling him is wrong? David is able to get so close that he cuts a piece of Saul’s robe off with his knife without Saul even knowing. This is it! This is David’s chance to end his running. This is his chance to seize the crown that God has promised him. He’s waited so long, endured so much; David has it within his own grasp to do it through his own power. He just needs to act, and can doing it really be a sin since God put Saul in this position? Doesn’t Saul deserve this? Doesn’t David deserve this? Life has been so unfair, and here’s David’s chance to get his. All he has to do is follow his pride…
But David doesn’t. Instead he chooses to be humble. The Holy Spirit was whispering to David that these temptations were prideful and weren’t God’s way. God’s way was to remain humble and trust the Lord. Vengeance is the Lord’s to give. What Paul wrote in Romans 12:19 applies to all followers of God from David to us: Dear friends, never take revenge. Leave that to the righteous anger of God. For the Scriptures say, “I will take revenge; I will pay them back,” says the LORD.
In 1 Samuel 24:15, David responds with great humility: “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!”
Personally, this message resonates with me; I need to be reminded of it. I would bet others can relate. There are situations where I have been wronged in ways that I see as exceedingly unfair. I am tempted to lash out verbally, to destroy with words, as David was tempted to lash out physically. I have opportunities to ruin a tormentor’s reputation with well-placed (truthful but hurtful) tidbits in the right ears. However, I hear the Holy Spirit whispering, warning to leave revenge to the Lord and to trust God to meet my needs rather than worrying about what others are thinking. And I thank God that He doesn’t leave me to my own prideful nature. Because Jesus Christ shed His blood for me on the cross, I have the Holy Spirit residing in me. Because of Him, I have hope for a future much better than I can imagine; any earthly falsehoods someone can spread or pain I experience here pale next to that hope – just as David had hope of the crown He was promised by God, we as followers of Christ have hope of life everlasting with the Lord.
I’ll finish with two quotes from C.S. Lewis’ book Mere Christianity on pride, which he labeled the great sin, and humility:
The vice I am talking of is Pride or Self-Conceit: and the virtue opposite to it, in Christian morals, is called Humility.
… [A]ccording to Christian teachers, the essential vice, the utmost evil, is Pride. Unchastity, anger, greed, drunkenness, and all that, are mere flea bites in comparison: it was through Pride that the devil became the devil: Pride leads to every other vice: it is the complete anti-God state of mind…
… it is Pride which has been the chief cause of misery in every nation and every family since the world began.
… [P]ride gets no pleasure out of having something, only out of having more of it than the next man… It is the comparison that makes you proud: the pleasure of being above the rest. Once the element of competition is gone, pride is gone.
True humility is not thinking less of yourself; it is thinking of yourself less.
Prayer: Lord, thank You again and again that You provide so many lessons that speak directly to me in Your Word. I confess my pride to you. Thank You for Your Spirit living in me, guiding me to choose You and Your way over my pride. Please continue to be patient with me, to convict me, and to help me resist the temptation of pride. In Jesus Name… Amen