“And David said, ‘As The Lord lives, the Lord will strike him or his day will come to die, or he will go down into battle and perish. The Lord forbid that I should put out my hand against the Lord’s anointed, but take now the spear that is at his head and the jar of water and let us go.”
-1 Samuel 26:10–11
This is yet another instance in 1 Samuel of David sparing Saul’s life of a moment where David could have taken Saul’s life and eventually stepped into what he already knew was going to be his role as king, but he doesn’t. He says, “As the Lord lives, the Lord will remove him in his timing.” When David says, “The Lord forbid I should take things into my own hands and harm the Lord’s anointed, the one that God has set up in this place of authority at this time.”
As David considers his life and his leadership, he refuses to harm the one whom God has put as an authority over him, even when that authority is working to kill him at that moment.
And there’s so much to consider as we think about these opportunities that David had to usurp the throne, to take the throne that was going to belong to him to take Saul’s life. But the picture we see in this story and the instance before this is a picture of patient trust in God. As David considers his life and his leadership, he refuses to harm the one whom God has put as an authority over him, even when that authority is working to kill him at that moment. David responds with patient trust in God.
I think about reading Romans recently and having a conversation with my family during family worship about the end of Romans chapter 12, when verse 19 says, “Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, ‘Vengeance is mine. I will repay’ says the Lord.” To the contrary, “If your enemy is hungry, feed him. If he is thirsty, give him something to drink, for by so doing you will heap burning coals on his head. Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.”
I think that’s the picture we see playing out here in 1 Samuel. Obviously what Saul is doing is evil, but what David refuses to do is to let another person’s evil lead him to then do evil. And how tempted we all are when are wronged, when other people, when someone else works evil against us to respond with evil instead of overcoming evil with good. That’s Romans 12:21 and trusting God, leaving it to God and his judgment to depose leaders, to raise up leaders. “Vengeance is mine. I will repay” says the Lord. He is judge and he will rule justly. And we can trust in His justice.
And so we pray based on 1 Samuel 26 and Romans 12, God help us to live today every day with patient trust in you. God, we pray for wisdom to discern what you are leading us to do. We know all throughout your word you don’t lead us to just live passive lives, where we don’t take any action. We just sit back completely, God. We know that you’ve called us to walk humbly with you and to boldly proclaim the gospel and lead others to you and love others.
But that’s O God, where we need your help. Help us to know how best to love our enemies. Help us to know how best to respond in the face of evil. God help us to reflect your love. Help us to reflect trust in your justice. And God help us to live with patient trust in you and with otherworldly love for every single person around us, particularly those who might work against us or might be our enemies in different ways. God, we know this is all over your word. Jesus, you make it clear, love your enemies. Pray for those who persecute you.
God, we pray for our brothers and sisters in persecuted parts of the world whether it’s Afghanistan, whether it’s in North Korea, Somalia. God, in places where there are authorities in place and they are persecuting Christians. God, we pray that you would give them grace and know how best to love their enemies and pray for those who persecute them, and how best to respond and trust in you.
God, we pray for their faith in you and God we pray that for our own lives as well. God help us. Help us to glorify you by overcoming evil with good today, tomorrow, each day in our lives. We pray this according to Romans 12, 1 Samuel 26:10-11 in Jesus’ name. Amen.