There are days where it seems clear what you should do. An opportunity arises and it’s your chance to make things right. Yet your conscience gives you pause and causes you to hesitate to act — to seize the moment and take justice into your own hands. This is the situation David faced when he is suddenly given an opportunity to kill the man who has sought to take his life.
After David is anointed by Samuel (1 Samuel 16:12-13), particularly after he kills Goliath, Saul becomes jealous of David. Chapter after chapter in 1 Samuel we read about how Saul sought to kill David, pursuing him with his men. David is constantly frustrated by the injustice of it all. He has only sought to serve God and do the right thing, but his life is constantly threatened by Saul’s jealousy. David told his brother-in-law and friend Jonathan, “What have I done? What is my iniquity? And what is my sin before your father, that he is seeking my life? (1 Samuel 20:1).”
David is constantly on the run, hiding as Saul pursues him. At one point he and his men are hiding deep in a cave when “Saul went in to relieve himself (1 Samuel 24:3).” Saul does not know that David and his men are hiding in the cave. This is David’s chance to put an end to Saul’s senseless pursuit of him. He can kill him and stop the injustice. “The men of David said to him, “Behold, this is the day of which the LORD said to you, ‘Behold; I am about to give your enemy into your hand, and you shall do to him as it seems good to you (4).”
What would you do? It appears God has delivered your enemy to you. Your close associates encourage you to take him out, pointing out that God must have given you this moment. It seems obvious what you should do. However, David shows us that we should question our motives. His conscience bothers him so he cuts off the edge of Saul’s robe. He told his men, “Far be it from me because of the LORD that I should do this thing to my lord, the LORD’S anointed, to stretch out my hand against him, since he is the LORD’S anointed (6).”
The result is that Saul leaves the cave untouched and unaware of the presence of David and his men. David then confronts Saul outside the cave. “Behold, this day your eyes have seen that the LORD had given you today into my hand in the cave, and some said to kill you, but my eye had pity on you; and I said, ‘I will not stretch out my hand against my lord, for he is the LORD’S anointed (10).’” Then Saul showed him the piece of robe he cut off. The result is that Saul is humbled. He responded to David, “You are more righteous than I; for you have dealt well with me, while I have dealt wickedly with you (17).”
The result of David questioning his motives is that it fulfilled a greater purpose. It exposed the injustice against David and showed his willingness to put God ahead of his own desires. It’s a good lesson for us to question our motives even when it appears obvious what we should do.
© 2022, CGThelen
The righteous man will be glad in the LORD and will take refuge in Him; And all the upright in heart will glory. – Psalm 64:10 (NASB)