Today’s selected reading continues in the Old Testament book of First Samuel which describes the narrative of the lives of Samuel the prophet of God, Saul the king of Israel, and David who would become the next king of Israel. More specifically, today’s passage is found in chapters twenty-four through twenty-six of this Old Testament book. When you come to this particular portion of Scripture you will find three distinct scenarios and situations which I am convinced tested every fiber of David’s compassion, as well as whether or not he would become a man of bitterness, resentment and offense. If and as you read the words which are written and recorded within these chapters you will find David being tested to see whether or not he would not only harbor a grudge, as well as whether or not he would harbor any bitterness, animosity, anger and malice within his heart. Upon reading these chapters you will find three distinct accounts where David’s resolve to move beyond bitterness, to move beyond offense, and to move beyond harboring any ill feelings and malice toward others is put to the test. Within these three chapters you will find two encounters with Saul king of Israel who was still in hot pursuit of David and still desired to strike him down, as well as another encounter with one by the name of Nabal. If there is one thing I can’t help but recognize and understand concerning these chapters and passages, it’s the awesome and tremendous opportunities the LORD gives us to demonstrate whether or not we can and will be those who will harbor bitterness, offense, and even grudges toward and against others. In all reality, I would dare label these chapters “The Grudge Chapters,” for within the language that is contained therein we find David having two opportunities to strike down Saul king of Israel—once while Saul went to relieve himself, and a second time when Saul was sleeping. I have to admit that the words which are found within these chapters are truly remarkable when you take the time to think about and consider them, for they bring us face to face with what type of man and/or what type of woman we are going to be. There is not a doubt in my mind that when we read the words which are found within this passage of Scripture—these three chapters found within the Old Testament book of First Samuel—we are confronted with the LORD watching to see just what type of man David would be, as well as what type of king he would be. How David handled and how David responded during these moments in his life would determine and dictate how he would rule and reign as king, and who and what he would be when he indeed sat upon the throne. The words and language that is found within these chapters bring us face to face with the awesome and tremendous reality of just what type of man David would be, and how the LORD would watch and behold how David would treat both Saul king of Israel, as well as Nabal of Carmel.
As we have already witnessed and beheld within the life of David we have watched as not only did he dodge those spears and javelins which were hurled at him, but he made the decision not to pick them up and hurl them back at Saul. David could have very easily dodged those spears that were hurled at him, and then picked them up and hurled them back at Saul. One question I can’t help but ask was whether or not it was just one spear which Saul initially and originally hurled at David, or whether it was more than one spear. If and as you continue reading the narrative of Saul and David you will find it written how when Saul pursued David, he still had a spear in his hand. What’s more, is that in one of these three chapters before us today we find and read how Saul had his spear and water jar at his head. The more you study this particular portion of Saul’s life the more you will find that the spear seemed to be one of his closest companions and friends—one that would always be with him. It’s quite interesting to think that there were two specific times when David played the harp in the company and presence of Saul that he had a spear in his hand, and that on two of those occasions he actually took the spear and hurled it at David intending on pinning him to the wall. This particular narrative of David’s life is quite interesting when you take the time to think about and consider it, for it was a time when David would have to choose and determine what type of man he was going to be—whether or not he would be a man who would pick up the spears and hurl them back at Saul, or whether he would not only dodge the spears, but also leave the spears behind. Pause for a moment and consider the tremendous amount of strength it would take to not only dodge the spears, but also to leave the spears behind, and to choose not to pick them up and hurl them back at the one who threw them at you. Perhaps the best question that should be asked at this juncture is what type of man and/or woman you have been and want to be, as you will be faced with the decision whether or not you will leave the spears behind, or whether or not you will pick up the spears and hurl them back at the one who hurled them at you.
I sit here today, and I can’t help but be reminded of the words which the apostle Paul wrote in the twelfth chapter of the epistle which was written and sent unto the saints which were at Rome, as well as the words which Jesus who is both Christ and Lord spoke in His famous Sermon on the Mount. If you take the time to read the words which are found within these chapters you will quickly encounter and come face to face with language that describes how we are to handle and deal with those who not only mistreat us, but also those who might utterly and completely despise us. The words which are found within the fifth chapter of the New Testament gospel narrative of Matthew, as well as the words which are found in the twelfth chapter of the New Testament epistle written unto the Romans are such that bring us face to face with the truly wonderful reality of who and what type of men and women we will choose to be—particularly and especially in light of how we treat and handle our enemies and adversaries. Do you want to know what truly amazes me about the words which Jesus the Christ spoke when delivering His Sermon on the Mount? It’s that when delivering and preaching this Sermon on the Mount He acknowledged the fact that in this life we would and could indeed have enemies, and in the midst of having those enemies we must choose how we will treat and respond to them. If there are two things Jesus made absolutely clear when speaking unto His disciples and those which followed Him, it is not only that we must prepared to be hated, but also in this life we can and will experience trials, troubles, suffering and affliction. What we must recognize and understand concerning this life is that not only can and not only will we experience various trials and troubles, but we can and will also be hated by all men for the sake of the name of Jesus the Christ. When speaking unto all those who would hear and listen to the words which Jesus spoke while delivering the Sermon on the Mount, it’s worth noting that he did in fact acknowledge that there would be those within our lives which might very well rise up in opposition toward and against us, and we will be faced with the decision on how we are going to respond and react to those individuals. Before we return to the narrative of David as he was fleeing from the murderous hands and threat of Saul king of Israel, I feel it absolutely necessary and imperative to call your attention to the words of the apostle Paul, as well as the words of Jesus the Christ. Consider if you will the words which Jesus the Christ spoke in His famous Sermon on the Mount, as well as the words which the apostle Paul wrote in the epistle which was sent unto the saints and Christians which were at Rome:
“Ye have heard that it hath been said, An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth: but I say unto you, That ye resist not evil: but whosoever shall smite thee on thy right cheek, turn to him the other also. And if any man will sue thee at the law, and take away thy coat, let him have thy cloke also. And whosoever shall compel thee to go a mile, go with him twain. Give to him that as Keith of thee, and from him that would borrow of thee turn not thou away. Ye have heard that it hath been said, Thou shalt love thy neighbour, and hate thine enemy. But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you; that ye Kmart be the children of your Father which is in heaven: for he make th his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sense that rain on the just and on the unjust. For if ye love them which love you, what reward have ye? Do not even the publicans the same? And if ye salute your brethren only, what do ye more than others? Do not even the publicans? Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect” (Matthew 5:38-48).
“Let love be without dissimulation. Abhor that which is evil; cleave to that which is good. Be kindly affectioned one to another with brotherly love; in honour preferring one another; not flosthful in business; fervent in spirit; serving the LORD; rejoicing in hope; patient in tribulation; continuing instant in prayer; distributing to the necessity of saints; given to hospitality. Bless them which persecute you: bless, and curse not. Rejoice with them that do rejoice, and weep with them that weep. Be of the same mind one toward another. Mind not high things, but condescend to men of low estate. Be not wise in your own conceits. Recompense to no man evil for evil. Provide things honest in the sight of all men. If it be possible, as much as lieth in you, live peaceably with all men. Dearly beloved, avenge not yourselves, but rather give place unto wrath: for it is written, Vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the LORD. Therefore if thine enemy hunger, feed him; if he thirst, give him drink: for in so doing thou shalt heap coals of fire on his head. Be no overcome of evil, but overcome evil with good” (Romans 12:9-21).
If there is one thing that so amazes me about the life of David before he would become the next is that there were specific times within his life when he would be forced to choose what type of man he would be—whether or not he would be a man who would harbor grudges, bitterness and offense, or whether he would be a man who would let go and let God do what only He can do, and what He does best. This is perhaps one of the single greatest realities we must consider as it pertains to our own lives, for we must daily and continually make a choice concerning what type of man or woman we are going to be and whether or not we are going to be one who holds on to grudges and holds on to offenses, or whether we are willing to let go and let God do what only He can do. It’s worth noting and pointing out within the life of David that his training would begin with his ability to dodge those spears that were hurled at him. The narrative of David’s life on the run would begin in the palace of Saul as he faithfully played the harp in his presence. On two different and two separate occasions David would be in the house of Saul playing the harp as he normally would, and it would during those times Saul would have a spear in his hand. On both occasions, however, Saul would take the spear that was in his hand and would hurl it toward David intending on pinning him to the wall and striking him dead. What we must recognize and understand is that not only did David dodge both attempts to kill him with spears, but David also chose to flee from the presence of Saul and leave the spears behind. LEAVING THE SPEARS BEHIND! Pause for a moment and ask yourself whether or not you are willing to do this—whether or not you are willing to not only dodge the spears, but also leave the spears behind. There are many times when we might make sure that the spears don’t strike us, however, once the spears have missed their mark we take the opportunity to pick those spears up and hurl them back at the one who sought to do us harm. It’s one thing to avoid getting hit and struck by spears, and most of us might be very good at making sure we aren’t hit and struck by them. There are most of us who take as much precaution not to get hit and wounded by spears as we do ensuring we aren’t hit by moving cars, or busses, or trains which pass by on the tracks. There are many of us who diligently strive to avoid getting hit by and hit with spears, yet that’s as far as our goes. Once we have dodged the spears which have been thrown at us, and once the spears are either wrested in the wall or lying motionless on the ground, we pick those spears up and hurl them back at that one or those individuals who have hurled them against us. There is not a doubt in my mind that one of the greatest tests we can and will ever face is not how well we dodge spears that have been thrown at us, but rather how quickly and how fast we flee from those spears which have been thrown at us.
FLEEING FROM SPEARS! LEAVING JAVELINS BEHIND! The narrative of David and Saul is one that is quite telling when you take the time to think about it, for it points to and reveals the absolute necessity that not only is it necessary to move out of the way of spears that are hurled at and hurled against us, but it also necessary—perhaps even more necessary—to flee from the spears once they have missed their intended mark, and once they lie motionless on the ground, or stuck in a wall. Think about how incredibly easy it would have been for David to pick up the spear, take one long and hard look at Saul, and hurl the spear back at him. In all reality, I would dare say that David would not have missed if he had indeed made the decision to hurl the spear back at Saul. There is not a doubt in my mind that David knew all too well that he could have picked up the spear, held it securely in his hand, and hurled it and Saul, and it would have struck its intended mark. I am firmly convinced that David knew he could have slain Saul on those two occasions when he first had to dodge the spears which were thrown at him, and then made the decision to flee from and leave those spears behind. There is not a doubt in my mind that perhaps one of the greatest needs within the church and house of the living God are those who are not only able to dodge spears when they are thrown at them, but also choose to flee from the spears and leave them behind. I am convinced that David fled more from the presence of the spears than he did Saul, for David didn’t really strike me as one who was fearful of much. The more I read and study the life of David the more I can’t help but think about and consider the fact that he was not one that was readily and easily given over to fear, so when I read how he fled from the presence of Saul after he had just hurled spears at him, I would dare say that he was fleeing more from himself than he was from the presence of Saul. FLEEING FROM SPEARS & FLEEING FROM YOURSELF! I am completely and utterly convinced that when David fled from the presence of Saul and from the spears which he had hurled at and against him, he wasn’t merely fleeing from the presence of Saul, as much as he was fleeing from himself. I am completely and utterly convinced that it would have been incredibly easy for David to pick up one of those spears and hurl it back at Saul, and undoubtedly he wouldn’t have missed. There is not a doubt in my mind that David knew altogether he could have picked up one of those two spears and hurled it at Saul, and he wouldn’t have missed his intended target. Pause for a moment and consider what the scene would and could have looked like had David chosen to pick up the spear and hurl it back at Saul there in the palace of the king. What would and what could the narrative of David looked like had he chosen to take at least one of the two spears and hurl it back at this king who had clearly and undeniably gone mad?
If you study the Old Testament book of Genesis you will encounter the narrative of Joseph, and you will find that after he had been promoted within his master’s house his master’s wife began taking notice of him, and began also making advances toward him. If you read and consider the narrative of Joseph you will find that each and every time Potiphar’s wife tried coming on to and making an advance to him, he refused. Eventually and ultimately there would come a day when it would simply be Joseph and his master’s wife alone in the house, and she would make one more pass at him. This time would be altogether different, for when he refused her she grabbed hold of his robe and held on to it. Joseph fled from Potiphar’s wife leaving his robe behind and leaving this woman feeling scorned, rejected and dejected. Of course we know the story and how Joseph was accused of attempting to seduce the wife of Potiphar, and was put in prison where he would remain for two full years. I can’t help but see a striking similarity between the narrative of Joseph and the narrative of David, for although their situations and circumstances were different, they would both have to flee from a moment of temptation that had they given into it would have dramatically altered the course of their lives. Joseph fled when Potiphar’s wife made an advance at him and laid hold of his robe, and David fled when Saul hurled not one, but two spears at him. In both the narrative of David, as well as the narrative of Joseph I would dare say that they did more than flee from the other person in the story, but rather they both fled from themselves. There is not a doubt in my mind that when and as we read the words which are found within these passages of Scripture we find two men who not only fled during a moment of temptation, but they also fled from more than simply that which would seek to tempt them. I firmly believe and am convinced that both David and Joseph fled from themselves, and what they both knew they were capable of. Joseph undoubtedly knew what he was capable of with Potiphar’s wife, and David undoubtedly knew what he was capable of with a spear in his hand, and both sought to run from themselves and what they knew they were capable of.
When I write and speak of David running from himself—that which I am referring to, and that which I am speaking about is David recognizing and understanding that he was a man of war, and that he could have very easily taken the spear and hurled it back at Saul. I believe David knew he could have picked up the spear, hurled it at Saul, and could very easily have struck him down with that spear. When David chose to flee from the spear rather than picking it up, there is not a doubt in my mind that David believed with everything inside of him that the only option for him was to flee from the spear. I do not believe for one moment that David fled from Saul himself, but in fleeing from the presence of Saul, he was fleeing from something more sinister that was at work and in motion at that time. In all reality, we must recognize and understand that when Saul hurled spears at David on two different occasions, and when David not only dodged those spears, but also left the spears behind in that place, he was choosing to flee and run from the temptation to pick up the spears and hurl them back at Saul king of Israel. I believe that when David fled from the presence of Saul, he did not do so out of and from a place of fear, but did so in order that he might flee from the temptation of what he knew he could do with the spear. Please do not miss and please do not lose sight of this absolutely incredible and astonishing reality, for to do so would be to miss out on something truly remarkable—not only within the life of David, but also within your own life. You and I have both been given chances and opportunities when we have had to make a decision and choose whether or not we were going to flee from the spears and leave them behind, or whether we would remain in the place of the spear, pick it up, and hurl them back at the one who sought to do us harm and damage. There have been times within our lives when others—perhaps even those who have been closest to us—have hurled spears at us in order that they might strike us down and in order that they might slay us, and we have had to make a decision whether or not we are going to leave those spears behind and flee from the place of spear. I absolutely love that not only did David dodge the spears, for he refused to be struck down by them, but he also chose to leave the spears behind. What’s more, is that I don’t believe for one moment that it would have been a difficult decision for David to flee from the spears and flee from the place of offense, bitterness and offense, for he knew that it was not wise for him to remain in the place of the spear, and even in the place of the madness of the king.
With all of this being said there is not a doubt in my mind that when David made the decision to flee from the spear and to flee from the place of the spear, that which he was doing was fleeing from the place of bitterness and fleeing from the place of offense within his own heart and soul. Even more than this, I would dare say that had David made the decision to pick up the spear and hurl it back at Saul he would have done more than pick up the physical spear, for he would have made the decision to pick up that which accompanies the spear—namely, offense, bitterness, resentment, anger, hatred, malice, and the like. YOU BECOME WHAT YOU PICK UP! YOU BECOME WHAT YOU CHOOSE TO LAY HOLD OF! It was true the spears were hurled at David by Saul from a place of offense, resentment, intimidation, fear, and anger—this much is obvious, and this much is undeniable. With that being said, we must recognize and understand that had David chosen to remain in the place of the spear and pick them up, he would have been picking up the bitterness and offense that comes with the spear. I can’t help but think about what it might have been like for David to pick up the spear, hold it in his hand, look at the spear, and look at Saul, and in that moment decide what to do with the spear. I am convinced that whether or not David made the decision to simply pick up the spear and let it go, or whether he chose to pick up the spear and hurl it back at Saul, he would have been picking up more than simply the spear itself. I am absolutely and completely convinced that had David chosen to remain behind and pick up the spear, he would have picked up the offense, picked up the bitterness and picked up the resentment that was directly associated with the spear. I would dare say that had David made the decision to pick up the spear that had been hurled at him he would have made the decision pick up everything that is directly attached to the spear. The danger with the spears which were hurled at David was that which was hurled with them—that which could not be seen with the natural eye. When Saul threw those spears at David, he was hurling at him more than simply a physical spear, but was hurling at him all the bitterness, all the resentment, all the anger, all the hostility, all the malice he had within his heart.
As I sit here today and think about and consider the narrative of David and having spears thrown at him by Saul—not once, but twice—I can’t help but think about and consider the absolutely amazing truth that David not only fled from himself, but David also made the decision not to pick up that which was directly connected and directly associated with the spears. I can’t help but wonder if David made a split second decision within his heart and soul whether or not he would choose to pick up that which was directly linked and directly connected with the spears. I can’t help but wonder if David did not think within himself and within his heart and soul that he would and could not pick up all the emotions, all the feelings, and all the thoughts that were directly associated and connected with the spear. David could have very easily picked up the spears that were hurled at him, and he could have very easily hurled those spears back at Saul, but I am convinced that had he picked up the spears he would have chosen to pick up the bitterness, he would have chosen to pick up the offense, and he would have chosen to pick up the resentment that was associated with it. What’s more, is that had David chosen to not only pick up the spear, but also hurl it back at Saul, he would have made the decision within his heart and soul to be and become a man who would hurl insults, hurl bitterness, hurl offense, hurl anger, hurl resentment and the like at those who attempted to strike him down and kill him. Oh, one of the most subtle temptations within our lives is the temptation to pick up the bitterness, pick up the offense, pick up the anger and hatred that is hurled at us, and to hurl it back at those who had hurled it at us. Moreover, it might very well be said that perhaps we would not have hurled it back at those who hurled it against us in the first place, but hurled it against others who perhaps did not do the same thing to us, but have done something that offended us. Had David picked up the spear and hurled it back at Saul, I would dare say that he would have set himself on a dark and dangerous path of hurling everything that came with the spears, and everything that came with the acts of throwing the spears. I would dare say that had David made the decision to pick up the spears and hurl them back at Saul, he would have been positioning himself to hurl insults, bitterness, rage, offense, anger, malice and the like at others who might have wronged and sinned against him. David could have very easily picked up the spears that were hurled at him, and he could have very easily have thrown it at Saul, however, the underlying danger in doing so would be that once you throw one spear, it’s hard to stop throwing spears. All it takes is hurling spears once, and the hook and snare is set within your heart and soul to develop a particular skill set in throwing and hurling spears at others when they have wronged and offended you.
What I find to be so absolutely captivating when reading the narrative of David and Saul is how much the spear is mentioned—not only the two times Saul hurled a spear at David, as well as the one time he hurled the spear at his own son Jonathan, but also how Saul continued to have that spear in his hand when pursuing David, and even had it by his head while sleeping in the midst of his camp. Do you want to know what the danger is with being a spear thrower? The danger of being a spear thrower is the same danger that Jesus declared unto the apostle Peter in the garden of Gethsemane when He declared that those who live by the sword will also die by the sword. The problem with being a spear thrower is that once you throw a spear once, it’s incredibly easy to throw a second spear. If and as you study the life of Saul you will notice that he not only threw that first spear at David, but he also threw a second spear at David, and would even throw a spear at his own son Jonathan. All in all, Saul would throw two spears at his son in law, and one spear at his own biological son. The problem with being a spear thrower is that when you throw one spear you open yourself to throwing the spear again, and if you should happen to throw a spear again, you will find yourself beginning to live by the spear—even guarding the spear. As you read the narrative of Saul and David you will find that when Saul pursued David he did so with a spear in hand—perhaps even the same spear which he had hurled at David twice, and which he hurled at Jonathan once. What’s more, is that as you come to the chapters which are before us today you will find that when Saul and his men pursued David yet once more, Saul had his spear with him, and had the spear by his head—perhaps for ease of use and ease of access. I would dare say that Saul was not willing to let the spear out of his sight, and brought the spear with him to finish that which he attempted in his own house and palace. The inherent danger with being a spear thrower is that you not only pick up everything that is directly connected to the spear, but you also begin living by the spear as the spear becomes a part of you, and even becomes a close companion. I would dare say that for Saul—the spear that was in his hand that very first time he attempted to strike David down with it would be a continual companion for him, and would accompany him on his journeys and endeavors—particularly and especially when pursuing and hunting David. In fact, I would dare say that each time Saul left to set out in pursuit of David he made sure to have his spear in his hand, and with him at all times in order that he might use it to strike David down with it. If there is one thing we must recognize and understand concerning being a spear thrower, it’s that throwing the spear opens your heart and your soul to everything that comes with it—all the emotions, all the thoughts, all the feelings, and everything that is needed to set one on edge and cause one to become mad. Saul threw that first spear at David, and I am convinced that each time he threw the spear it became easier and easier—so much so that he would even throw the spear at his own son Jonathan. In all reality, I would dare say that Saul didn’t even have to think twice about throwing the spear at his own son, for being a spear thrower had become second nature to him.
The more you read the narrative of Saul and David the more you will encounter the truth that spear throwers essentially give themselves over to all the raw emotions, thoughts and feelings that initially caused them to throw the spears in the first place. It would be incredibly easy to simply point to the fact that Saul threw the spear because of the evil spirit that tormented him, but we must remember that both times he threw spears at David was while he was playing the harp in his presence. More often than not when David played the harp in his presence the evil spirit would leave Saul, and a relative peace and calm would come upon him. It’s interesting to note that in both cases Saul hurled the spear at David it was while he was playing the harp, and we also learn and discover that Saul began setting his eye on David and became his enemy and adversary quickly. I am absolutely and completely convinced that when Saul threw those spears at David he did so having been completely and utterly caught up in the raw emotions that were directly connected to his animosity, hatred, anger and resentment towards David. Each time Saul threw the spear at David it was due to all those thoughts, emotions and feelings that were raging inside his heart, his soul and his mind, and even when he threw the spear at his son Jonathan, it was largely due to his belief in his own mind that his son was conspiring together with David. It is absolutely imperative that we recognize and understand the tremendous reality that this particular point during David’s life began with not one, but two spears being thrown at him—spears that would play a critical and crucial part in the continued drama and saga that has to do with Saul and David. As you continue reading the words which are written and recorded within the narrative of Saul and David you will find that not only did Saul continue to have his spear in hand, but he also had the spear next to him when he was fast asleep in the midst of the camp. The spear would play a tremendous role in the chapters that we have before us, for in the final chapter of today’s passage we find David and Abishai going down into the midst of the camp of Saul—not to strike down Saul and put him to death, but rather to help illustrate the fact that there was no malice, no anger, no hatred, no resentment within the heart of David toward Saul. David would ask both Abimelech and Abishai which one of them would be willing to come down with him into the midst of Saul’s camp, and it was Abishai who readily agreed to go with David into the midst of the camp, and it was there where David would not only see the spear next to Saul—perhaps the same spear that was thrust at him two times—but also have the opportunity to seize the spear.
SEIZING THE SPEAR, CUTTING THE SKIRT! SEIZING THE SPEAR AND CUTTING THE GARMENT! THE GRUDGE CHAPTERS: SEIZING THE SPEAR AND CUTTING THE GARMENT! THE TEMPTATION FOR A GRUDGE! THE TEMPTATION OF BITTERNESS! THE TEMPTATION FOR REVENGE! It’s quite unique and astounding to think about and consider the tremendous reality that within these chapters before us today we find language and words that continue to describe David on the run from Saul. When the twenty-fourth chapter of the Old Testament book of First Samuel opens up and begins, it does describing how Saul had finished pursuing and following the Philistines. You will recall in the previous chapter how Saul and his army of three thousand men were pursuing David and his men, and might have overtaken them were it not receiving word that the Philistines had invaded the land. Knowing that he would need to guard and protect the nation and land of Israel Saul abandoned his pursuit of David in order that he might engage the Philistines and drive them out of the land of Israel. The final verse of the twenty-third chapter describes how David dwelt in the strongholds at En-Gedi, while the opening verses of the twenty-fourth chapter describe how when Saul returned from following the Philistines, he returned home and was greeted with the message that David was in the wilderness of En-Gedi. Upon hearing the location of David, Saul again took three thousand chosen men out of all Israel, and went to seek David and his men upon the rocks of the wild goats. This first of three chapters which are before us are actually quite unique and remarkable when you take the time to think about and consider it, for as I wrote and mentioned earlier on in the beginning of this writing—these chapters might very well be described as “the grudge chapters.” Please note and please understand that this is no way suggests the fact that David harbored a grudge toward and against Saul, but rather that David had two opportunities to strike down Saul and once and for all put an end to his flight and his running to escape the murderous threat and hand of this mad king. I call these chapters “the grudge chapters” because within them we find David having two opportunities to strike Saul dead, and in the twenty-fourth and twenty-sixth chapter we se both of those opportunities. As you read the opening words of this particular chapter you will find that when Saul and his three thousand men went to pursue David in the wilderness of En-Gedi, he came to the sheepcotes by the way where there was a cave. Scripture describes how Saul went into the cave to cover his feet, and also how David and his men were in the same cave in the sides of the cave. What makes this even more intriguing is when you consider the fact that David’s men began speaking unto him concerning this day being the day of which the LORD spoke unto concerning His delivering unto David his enemy.
What so intrigues and fascinates me about this particular chapter is that upon hearing the words which his men spoke unto him, David came up to Saul secretly and privately without being detected or noticed, and cut off a corner of his skirt. It’s worth noting that if David was able to cut off a portion of Saul’s garment, he was close enough to where he could have indeed killed him. We must recognize and understand that when David cut off a portion of Saul’s garment he could have very easily taken the sword that was in his hand, or even the knife that was in his hand and used it to once and for all strike down this mad king. Scripture records how instead of killing Saul there in the cave David cut off a corner of his garment and returned unto his men. What makes this even more captivating is when you think about and consider the fact that immediately after David had cut off a portion of Saul’s garment his heart smote him, because of what he had done. Responding to his heart and what his heart was speaking to him, David declared unto his men that the LORD forbid that he should do such a thing unto his master, the LORD’s anointed, to stretch forth his hand against him. The words which David spoke unto his men are actually worth making note of, for even though Saul was pursuing David with reckless abandon, David recognized and understood that he was still the LORD’s anointed, and that he was still that one whom the LORD had chosen as king over the nation and people of Israel. It’s quite astonishing to think about the fact that David merely cut off a corner of Saul’s robe, and his heart immediately smote him over what he had done. Please don’t miss and please don’t lose sight of this absolutely and incredibly powerful truth, for David viewed his action as an assault and attack on the king, and was convicted because of and by what he had done. David merely cut off a portion of the robe of Saul’s garment, and immediately his heart smote him within himself, and he was dealt with the conviction over what he had done. Taking this a step further, David approached Saul the king of Israel after his men had spoken unto him and almost encouraged him concerning this moment and this opportunity, for it was almost as if the LORD had given Saul—that perceived enemy of David—into his hands to do that which he seemed fit. Even with David hearing the words of his men, however—instead of striking Saul dead, and instead of finally ending this mad game of chase and run, he merely cut off a corner and portion of Saul’s robe.
I once heard a popular contemporary preacher preach a message about this particular time during David’s life, and the title of the sermon this preacher preached was simply “Cutting Corners.” The underlying premise of this message was that David’s cutting off a corner of Saul’s garment and robe could have been perceived as cutting corners in order to somehow sidestep the process and path which the living God had for David to become king of Israel. This particular preacher used this passage to illustrate the reality that David’s cutting off a corner of Saul’s garment was symbolic of those who try and make attempts to cut corners to try and fulfill and accomplish that which the living God has purposed and destined for them. David’s cutting off a corner of Saul’s garment, and a portion of Saul’s robe was symbolic of those who seek to sidestep and somehow skirt around the path and process the LORD has for them concerning that which they have been called to do, and that which the LORD has purposed and planned for them. IT’s actually quite unique and intriguing to think about and consider this reality, for there are those who would seek to cut corners in order that they might sidestep the path and process the living God has for them within their lives. While in my apartment yesterday I noticed cracks in the ceiling, and immediately began to wonder what could have possibly caused cracks to form in this building that is less than five years old. I immediately began thinking and wondering within myself whether or not while building these apartments and building these structures the construction workers and companies cut corners in order that they might get the building constructed on time to meet a deadline. I have long noticed how incredibly thin the walls and ceilings are, and how you hear absolutely everything—not only on either side of you, but also above you. For the longest time I couldn’t help but wonder if when these buildings were built, they were built by men who perhaps might have cut corners in the process. Please note that this in no way proves they cut corners, nor is even a statement that they did or would do such a thing. There is absolutely no way for me to make such a statement, and I fully recognize this reality. With this being said, however, I am convinced there are men and women who seem to always look for opportunities to cut corners within their hearts and lives in order that they might somehow get where they are going that much sooner and that much quicker. If you’ve ever traveled to a certain place with someone who either lives there, or is familiar with how to get there you might have encounter them speaking unto you that they knew a shortcut to get you there that much faster. Heeding their words and their advice you follow their guidance and their direction, and use their shortcut in order that you might get where you’re going that much quicker and that much sooner.
If there is one thing I can’t help but think about and consider when reading this particular narrative found in the twenty-fourth chapter of the Old Testament book of First Samuel, it’s that David could have very easily have struck down Saul who was the king of Israel. David could have plunged a sword into his side, or his back, or his stomach and put an end to all the running, fleeing and hiding. David could have very easily have taken a knife or sword and easily slit the throat of Saul king of Israel and left him there to die in a pool of his own blood. The truth of the matter is that even though David could have very easily struck down Saul king of Israel, he instead chose to cut off a corner of his robe. What’s more, is that after David cut off this portion of Saul’s garment, his heart smote him within himself, and he was convicted by what he had done since Saul was still and was indeed the anointed of the LORD. It’s worth noting that David immediately cried out to Saul and bowed himself to the ground in humility before him, and demonstrated that he could have very easily have struck him down and killed him, but instead merely cut off a portion of his robe and garment. Holding up a piece of Saul’s garment and robe before this mad king would have been proof enough for Saul that David could very well have struck him down and killed him—especially when Saul looked at his garment and noticed a piece of it missing. It’s necessary for us to think about and consider the words which are written in this passage of Scripture, for they bring us face to face with David who was confronted with whether or not he would raise and lift up his hand against the anointed of the LORD to strike him down. David would not strike Saul down, however, he would cut off a piece of his garment and a piece of his robe, and it was that small and seemingly insignificant act that smote David within his heart and soul, and brought tremendous conviction to him. Pause for a moment and think about the fact that had David lifted up his hand to strike down Saul king of Israel, his heart most certainly would have smote him, for if his heart smote him after cutting off a piece of Saul’s garment—imagine how much more his heart would have smote him had he raised his hand against the king of Israel. What I can’t help but wonder is what would the perception of David have been among the people of Israel if not only had David struck down Saul, but also news of David’s actions reached the furthest corners of Israel. What would and what could the people of Israel have thought within their hearts and within their minds upon hearing news that their king was dead, and that David was the one responsible for striking down Saul in the wilderness of En-Gedi. It’s quite interesting to think about and consider the fact that David could have very easily and very quickly put Saul to death, and he could have seized and taken the throne by force and by bloodshed, and yet the truth of the matter is that David would and could not strike Saul down, and instead merely cut off a corner of his garment.
In the twenty-sixth chapter of this same Old Testament book you will find Saul and his men once more pursuing David and his men, and how David spoke unto two of his men—Ahimilch the Hittite, and Abishai the son of Zeruiah, brother to Joab—asking them which one of them would be willing to go down with him to Saul in the midst of the camp. Immediately and almost without hesitation Abishai spoke up in the company and presence of David and declared that he would go down with David unto Saul in the midst of the camp. Within this chapter and passage of Scripture you will find that David and Abishai went down unto the camp of Saul by night, and came upon Saul sleeping within the trench with his spear stuck in the ground at his bolster. As you read the words which are written and recorded within this passage of Scripture you will find that upon seeing Saul lying there sleeping, and upon seeing his spear at his side, Abishai spoke unto David and almost asked for permission to strike down Saul there in the midst of the camp. Abishai spoke unto David and asked for permission to strike down Saul with his spear, and smite him with the spear unto the earth once, and that he would not have to do it a second time. David immediately responded unto Abishai and instructed him not to lift up his hand against Saul, for he was still the anointed of the LORD, and was still God’s chosen vessel to be king over the nation and people of Israel. Instead of striking down Saul with his own spear, David instead instructed Abishai to lay hold of his spear which was by his side, and the cruse of water which was by his person, and arise and go. The twelfth verse of this chapter describes how David took the spear and the cruse of water from Saul’s bolster, and got themselves away from Saul and his men without anyone noticing they were even there because of a deep sleep the LORD had put on them. Please don’t miss the tremendous significance and importance of this, for imagine what this scene was like as David held in his hand the very spear of Saul—perhaps even the spear which Saul had hurled at David on two separate occasions. Pause and consider the tremendous fact that David could have very easily and very quickly taken the spear of Saul and struck him down with his own spear, and yet instead of striking him down with the spear, David instead laid hold of and seized the spear. Oh I can’t help but wonder what went through the heart and mind of David when he was faced with laying hold of the spear and using it to strike down Saul with it. I can’t help but wonder what thoughts went through the heart and mind of David as he saw that spear by Saul’s side and whether or not he remembered those times when Saul hurled that spear—or perhaps a similar spear—against him to strike him down on two separate occasions.
Oh, what do you do when you come face to face with instrument which your enemy used to assault and attack you, and you not only have the opportunity to lay hold of it, but you also have the opportunity to use it against your enemy? How do you respond when you come face to face with that which was and that which had been used against you, and you have the opportunity to repay that one who sought harm against you? David came down unto Saul in the camp, and saw his spear there by his side, and even when Abishai asked for permission to take the spear and strike down Saul that night, David would not allow Abishai to engage in such an action against the anointed of the LORD. Despite the fact that it would again have been very easy for David to strike down Saul with his own spear, he deliberately and intentionally chose not to strike Saul down, and instead lay hold and grab the spear that was by Saul’s side. Pause for a moment and think about this reality, for I mentioned earlier on that Saul had hurled a spear—perhaps this very spear—at David on two separate occasions. On both occasions—not only did David dodge the spear and get himself away from being struck down by them, but he also fled from the place of the spear. I mentioned earlier how David could have very easily taken the spear which Saul had hurled at him, and could have hurled it back at Saul, or even taken the spear and run Saul through with it. Instead of picking up and laying hold of the spear which Saul hurled at him, David instead chose to leave the spear behind. David would and could not pick up the spear which Saul had hurled at him and thrown it back at him. David was unwilling to lay hold of the spear which Saul had hurled at him, for David knew that he would be picking up more than simply the spear, for he would have been picking up the bitterness, the offense, the grudge, the anger, the hatred and malice that was directly connected and associated with the spear. David would choose to leave the spear behind and flee from the presence of Saul, and what’s more, is the fact that I would dare say that David fled from more than simply the presence of Saul, but actually fled from himself and what he knew he was capable of. When David fled from the person and presence of Saul, I am convinced that he not only fled from the spear which Saul had hurled at him, and not only fled from the opportunity to pick it up, but David also fled from the opportunity to hurl the spear back at Saul. IT would have been very easy for David to pick up the spear and hurl it back at Saul, and yet David chose to leave the spear alone and leave the spear behind him. David would and could not pick up and lay hold of the spear and hurl it back at Saul, for once you pick up and lay hold of the spear, and once you hurl the spear the first time it becomes very easy to hurl the spear a second time, and even a third time and beyond. David knew and understood that by hurling the spear against Saul that first time, he would be opening himself to perhaps a lifetime of not only hurling spears, but also avenging himself agains this enemies and taking matters into his own hands.
On this particular occasion David could have taken and laid hold of the spear which was hurled at him—not once, but twice—and David could have used that spear to strike Saul dead in the midst of the camp. David could have very easily have taken the spear and thrust it through Saul’s heart, thus putting an end to Saul; or, David could have allowed Abishai to lay hold of the spear and use it to strike down Saul king of Israel that night in the midst of the camp. Instead of allowing Abishai to strike down Saul, and instead of laying hold of the spear himself to strike down Saul, David would spare Saul’s life once more, and would allow him to live and remain in the earth. What I so absolutely love and appreciate about the words which are written and recorded within this passage of Scripture is that David had clear and ready access to Saul’s spear, and could have very easily have taken it and thrust Saul through, and yet while it is true that he did lay hold off the spear to use it an illustration of his innocence before Saul, he would not use it to strike Saul dead. Please don’t miss and lose sight of this absolutely incredible and tremendous reality, for it brings us face to face with the awesome reality that there are those who use the spears in their hands to strike down others, and there are others who lay hold of the spears to demonstrate their innocence before the ones who would strike them down or do damage unto them. David laid hold of the spear of Saul, however, he would not lay hold of it to use it against Saul to strike him down dead, but rather to profess his innocence before Saul, and to demonstrate the fact that he could have very easily have struck him down dead when the opportunity had arisen. I absolutely love how David had full and easy access to Saul’s spear, and he could have taken that spear and thrust it into Saul, and yet instead of laying hold of the spear to thrust it at Saul, or run Saul through with it, David instead laid hold of it and got him a safe distance away in order that he might once more reveal unto Saul how he could have easily struck him down and killed him, but chose not to do so because there was no malice, no hatred, no bitterness, no resentment or offense within his heart. Saul hurled the spear at David as a demonstration of bitterness and offense unto David, and David would use the spear to demonstrate unto Saul that he harbored no malice or hatred toward and against him, and that he was innocent before him, and sought no harm or evil against him. Oh please don’t miss and please don’t lose sight of this absolutely incredible and tremendous reality, for to do so would be to miss out on the absolutely incredible and astonishing reality that just as David was—we are faced with those moments within our lives when we will have to make a decision whether or not we will pick up the spears which have been hurled at us and throw them back at those who sought to bring us harm. What’s more, is we will have to make a decision whether or not we will strike down those who have wronged us if the opportunity arises, or whether we will choose to say no to cutting corners and taking matters into our own hands. We will be presented with the tremendous opportunity to choose what type of man and what type of woman we are willing to be, and whether or not we will be men and women of offenses and grudges, or whether we will be men and women of humility and compassion—even and especially toward those who might very well have sought us harm.