Today’s reading started out with David feeling called to go fight in a city called Keilah that was currently under attack in order to save the city. Before going, scripture tells us he “inquired of the Lord”. He wanted to make sure he heard God before taking action. The application tells us that he listened and then went forward with what the Lord told him to do. David and his men go and save Keilah as God had told him to. Saul heard about this and saw it as an opportunity to catch David. But, David escapes Keilah with his men and while Saul is in pursuit of him, guess who comes and meets David to encourages him? Jonathan, David’s dear friend, if you remember him from earlier in our reading, who happens to be Saul’s son. He tells him “Don’t be afraid. My father Saul will not lay a hand on you. You will be king over Israel, and I will be second to you. Even my father Saul knows this.” (23:17) After saying goodbye once again – our application says, “this may have been the last time David and Jonathan were together- a group called the Ziphites rat out where David is hiding to Saul. As Saul was closing in on David, a messenger told Saul that the Philistines were attacking the land, so Saul stopped chasing David to go fight the Philistines off, but that’s not the end. After fighting, he finds out where David is again and pursues him. Saul ends up finding a cave and based on what I researched it sounds like he was in there alone to sleep while his men stayed outside. Turns out, this is the same cave David and his men were in. David snuck up on him and cut off a corner of Saul’s robe. Scripture then tells us “David was conscience stricken” and although his men were telling David to attack and kill Saul, that this was his moment, David still respected him since he was the anointed king from God, yes, even despite Saul trying to kill him. Saul gets up and leaves and David follows him out!!! He calls out to him to get his attention and then tells him about how he is innocent and asks why Saul is trying to kill him in the first place and that’s where today’s verse comes in. David tells him how he had the chance to kill him, but he spared his life and that God is the ultimate judge. It ends with what seems like the end of this chase of Saul going after David because Saul is basically shocked that David spared him and admits that he will be the next king and they made an oath that once David is king that he will keep Saul’s family line protected.
Today’s verse shows us that we can count on God to judge when our flesh tells us to take revenge. “May the Lord judge between you and me. And may the Lord avenge the wrongs you have done to me, but my hand will not touch you.” (1 Samuel 24:12) David had a chance to end his fear, to end the chase, but he knew that if he killed Saul that it would be going against God’s will and he would be starting his kingship off on the wrong foot. So, he chose to let God be the judge, to let the Lord deal with the wrong that Saul had done and with a promise that he wouldn’t harm Saul. For us the situations we face are probably most likely not this intense, but we do deal with anger and the desire to be right and defend ourselves and even be justified in that anger. There in the midst of our anger, just like everything else, God is with us and wants to take it for us. He knows what anger can do and lead to, so instead of sinning in it, He wants us to give it to Him. Have you ever tried to give it over to God when you were angry? It is hard! But, have you ever done it and it worked? Anger is an emotion He gave us, but it’s in our sinfulness that we act on it. Doesn’t it feel like in our anger that our body is screaming back at us to defend ourselves and to justify that we are right in whatever it is? That’s our flesh, not God. Here, God tells us to let him be the judge, that the Lord will take whatever wronged you into his own hands, so in turn we do not need to seek defense. I don’t know about you, but I am guilty of wanting to jump to defense when I’m feeling “attacked”. These are the types of things we need planted in our hearts so in situations where anger arises, we can be certain that God wants to take it off our hands and into his own.
What’s a time recently that you got angry? How did you handle it? Once you “cooled down”, how did you feel about your response? If it was one you weren’t proud of, look back at it and try to see if there was a moment where God tried to talk to you and tell you “no” but you moved forward in anger. What would you have done differently?
Heavenly father, thank you for your word, for today’s reading, we saw what it looks like to be certain we hear you before we act. We saw how your will is better than what our flesh tells us is better. Through David we saw that you are the ultimate judge, that we don’t need to judge on our own behalf; that you God will make all the wrongs right and because of that, our hands are free for you to take it on for us. When anger arises, help us to fight our flesh, to hand it over to you and not rush to defense or take judgement upon ourselves, that we can come under the control of the Holy Spirit and let you take over the situation. We desire to be like David, to face those who are in opposition with us in such a peaceful way, the way you would face them. Help us to be more like you and less like our flesh, for you Lord, are our defender. In your name mighty name we pray, AMEN!