Among his deliverances, we notice two surprises. First, David does not take vengeance on Saul in the cave in 1 Samuel 24. According to many, it seems like he has every reason to kill him in the darkness of the cave: “Here is the day of which the LORD said to you, ‘Behold, I will give your enemy into your hand, and you shall do to him as it shall seem good to you’” (1 Samuel 24:4). Yahweh has told you precisely about this day, and He has given you permission to kill him! And we can
conjure up many more reasons to justify that action: “Saul’s reign has become
diabolical.” “He reigns in pride and for his own benefit; he doesn’t think about Israel’s good.” “Here you can avenge the destruction of the priestly city of Nob.” “Hasn’t Yahweh anointed you?” “Hasn’t He abandoned Saul?” “Look here, David; Yahweh has handed him over to you!”
But there is one inconvenience. More than an inconvenience, it is sin, an act of rebellion against Yahweh: “The LORD forbid that I should do this thing to my lord, the LORD’s anointed, to put out my hand against him, seeing he is the LORD’s anointed” (1 Samuel 24:6). He says Yahweh’s name three times in one verse because he recognizes against whom he would commit that action.
Although most of us never will have to decide between killing or not killing another person, I cannot help but think of how many times this same kind of temptation presents itself to Christians. An impressive “opportunity” appears (or
rather, “temptation”) to take advantage of some benefit, refund or favor from the government, to earn money quickly and easily, to get an unexpected reimbursement, to enjoy an illicit pleasure secretly, to take a decisive step forward in our careers or in our studies. And it has fallen into our hands so easily that we are convinced that it is God’s plan for us!
But it requires only one inconvenience… or rather, act of rebellion. You must
present a false document (or bear false witness); or you must tell a lie (just one!); or you must take something that is not yours; or you must pretend something is true when it really isn’t; you must deceive another; you must cover up a key part of the truth… And while we consider doing it, we can make a long list of people – even
Christians!– who will tell us, “Do it! Everyone does it. Don’t you see that God is rewarding you for your patience and faithfulness to Him? Look at how God wants to bless you…”
Thanks be to God for those who, like David, recognize Yahweh’s dominion even despite having to relate to unjust leaders, governors, supervisors and teachers, those who see against whom they really rebel when they follow the path of unrighteousness solely to promote their own interests. David will not be a king
like Saul; he values the just dominion of Yahweh more than he values his own
interests. Therefore he is satisfied in sparing Saul’s life and saying, “May the LORD judge between me and you, may the LORD avenge me against you, but my hand shall not be against you” (1 Samuel 24:12).
And therefore it is so surprising to see David’s reaction in 1 Samuel 25. It is as if David has forgotten righteousness from the previous chapter. He is going to make Nabal and all his hacienda pay for his offense: “Who is David? Who is the son of Jesse? There are many servants these days who are breaking away from their
masters. Shall I take my bread and my water and my meat that I have killed for my shearers and give it to men who come from I don’t know where?” (1 Samuel 25:10-11) Praise God for His protection of His anointed one again, this time in the
form of Abigail, Nabal’s wife: “When the LORD has done to my lord according to
all the good that he has spoken concerning you and has appointed you prince over
Israel, my lord shall have no cause for grief or pangs of conscience for having shed blood without cause or for my lord taking vengeance himself” (1 Samuel 25:30-31). May David esteem Yahweh’s just dominion more than vengeance, more than unjust violence, more than the fulfillment of his own interests. May Nabal’s hacienda not become David’s version of the city of Nob.
Thank you, Heavenly Father, for the times you have protected us from our own propensity to sin.