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A Matter of Trust

1 Samuel 24:1-4a 

"Now it came about when Saul returned from pursuing the Philistines, he was told, saying, 'Behold, David is in the wilderness of Engedi.' [2] Then Saul took three thousand chosen men from all Israel, and went to seek David and his men in front of the Rocks of the Wild Goats. [3] And he came to the sheepfolds on the way, where there was a cave; and Saul went in to relieve himself. Now David and his men were sitting in the inner recesses of the cave. [4] And 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.''"
 

When he woke up this morning, David had no idea that he would be facing a life-defining decision, but that's exactly what the day would bring. After returning from chasing their enemy the Philistines, Saul got an intelligence report on the whereabouts of his other enemy-David. The report must have been accurate, because Saul wound up in the very cave where David was hiding. Saul was in a compromising position and David had a grand opportunity to kill him, and frankly, I don't think anyone would have blamed him if he did. Saul hadn't treated David right.

The mistreatment certainly wasn't deserved. David had done nothing except try to serve his king. When he offered to fight Goliath, it wasn't because he was seeking for fame or trying to upstage Saul, it was because the Sprit of the Lord was upon him and he couldn't stand listening to anyone, let alone this uncircumcised Philistine mocking the armies of the Living God. When he refused to wear Saul's armor, it wasn't because David wasn't gracious; it was that he knew he couldn't fight the kind of battle he knew how to fight while wearing it. From every indication, Saul was as happy as everyone else when David was victorious against Goliath. Because of his military prowess, David became a commander in Saul's army and repeatedly led his men to victory against Saul's enemies. 

David jumped whenever Saul needed him. Saul had terrible mood swings and when he was being tormented, David would play the harp to soothe his soul. Beyond his musical duties, David worked hard to protect Saul and was willing to lay down his life for him if necessary. David was always humble in Saul's presence. When Saul offered his oldest daughter in marriage to David, David refused because he did not count his family worthy for such an honor. Yet, even with David acting honorably toward Saul, Saul constantly mistreated David.

Saul's problem with David grew out of jealousy because of the people's affection for David. "Saul has killed his thousands," they said, "David his ten thousands." I want to underscore the point that David had not done anything wrong toward Saul-Saul was totally out of line in his behavior toward David. He was wrong when he threw the spear at him. He was wrong when he plotted to have him killed so he could provide a dowry for his daughter's hand. He was wrong when he sent his goons over to his house to kill him in his own daughter's bed. He was wrong when he hunted him down like a rabid dog after David fled for his life. Wrong, wrong, wrong-Saul was completely wrong.

But, he was the king. He was God's anointed. So what should David do? A few weeks ago we saw Saul's son and daughter sabotage Saul's efforts to kill David. Both of them took David's side over the own fathers. Saul was so angry at his son's actions that he threw his spear at him, trying to knock him down. During that discussion, the scale tipped a bit toward the side of dishonoring someone in authority. When we're living in the shades of gray, it isn't always easy to choose between two right things or two wrong things. Both of Saul's children were instruments of God to preserve David's life. Now should David, in the spirit of preserving his own life take matters into his own hand and strike Saul down? His advisors told him too, they said that God had delivered Saul into his hand. Will he preserve his own life by taking the life of his king?

Let's return to the text to see what David did. [4b] "Then David arose and cut off the edge of Saul's robe secretly. [5] And it came about afterward that David's conscience bothered him because he had cut off the edge of Saul's robe. [6] So he said to 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.' [7] And David persuaded his men with these words and did not allow them to rise up against Saul. And Saul arose, left the cave, and went on his way. 

[8] Now afterward David arose and went out of the cave and called after Saul, saying, 'My lord the king!' And when Saul looked behind him, David bowed with his face to the ground and prostrated himself. [9] And David said to Saul, 'Why do you listen to the words of men, saying, 'Behold, David seeks to harm you'? [10] 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.' [11] 'Now, my father, see! Indeed, see the edge of your robe in my hand! For in that I cut off the edge of your robe and did not kill you, know and perceive that there is no evil or rebellion in my hands, and I have not sinned against you, though you are lying in wait for my life to take it.'" (1 Samuel 24:4b-11)

David would not strike the King and do him any harm, even when he would have been justified in doing so, simply because Saul was God's anointed. Instead of taking matters into his own hands, David chose to trust in Deut. 32:35 which says, "'Vengeance is Mine, and retribution, In due time their foot will slip; For the day of their calamity is near, And the impending things are hastening upon them.'" The prophet Nahum would later write, "A jealous and avenging God is the Lord; The Lord is avenging and wrathful. The Lord takes vengeance on His adversaries, And He reserves wrath for His enemies." (Nahum 1:2 NASB) David understood that God would take vengeance on his behalf. David chose to trust in God to take care of him while he remained beyond reproach.

Saul promised that he would never try to harm David again, but once again, he went back on his word. David snuck into David's camp and took Saul's spear and water bottle that were by his head while he slept. After he was a safe distance away, David awoke the camp and held up what he'd taken and once again proclaimed that he could have killed the king but didn't. David upbraided Saul's army for not protecting him properly and asked Saul to send a messenger to come and get his belongings and take them back to him.

Again Saul promised never to harm David, but David had learned not to count on Saul's promises any longer, so he feld to Gath with those loyal to him and his family. 1 Samuel 27:4 says, "Now it was told Saul that David had fled to Gath, so he no longer searched for him." (NASB)

Effectively, David is in a self-imposed exile to preserve his life and the life of his king. David would live in the land of his enemies-the Philistines for over a year, waiting for God to take His vengeance on Saul.

And that's where our story ends today. We'll take up from here in a couple of weeks to discover what happens to Saul and to David.

David had a clear choice in this text. He could try to right the wrong that Saul was doing to him, or he could choose to trust in God to avenge him. David chose the high road. He left Saul in God's hand. He refused to raise his hand against God's anointed, because he knew that ultimately if he did, he would be raising his hand against God. If we believe that God establishes authority, we can also believe he can bring about its fall. David knew he could trust God to handle the situation.

In the end, it all boils down to trust. David trusted God with the good times and the bad. He believed his God would deliver him. Do you? Do you serve a God who can? Is your God able to deliver you? Are you able to trust in Him? Or do you feel the need to look out for number 1? Its all a matter of trust.  

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