Read 1 Samuel 26:1–16
The Ziphites went to Saul at Gibeah and said, “Is not David hiding on the hill of Hakilah, which faces Jeshimon?”
2 So Saul went down to the Desert of Ziph, with his three thousand select Israelite troops, to search there for David. 3 Saul made his camp beside the road on the hill of Hakilah facing Jeshimon, but David stayed in the wilderness. When he saw that Saul had followed him there, 4 he sent out scouts and learned that Saul had definitely arrived.
5 Then David set out and went to the place where Saul had camped. He saw where Saul and Abner son of Ner, the commander of the army, had lain down. Saul was lying inside the camp, with the army encamped around him.
6 David then asked Ahimelek the Hittite and Abishai son of Zeruiah, Joab’s brother, “Who will go down into the camp with me to Saul?”
“I’ll go with you,” said Abishai.
7 So David and Abishai went to the army by night, and there was Saul, lying asleep inside the camp with his spear stuck in the ground near his head. Abner and the soldiers were lying around him.
8 Abishai said to David, “Today God has delivered your enemy into your hands. Now let me pin him to the ground with one thrust of the spear; I won’t strike him twice.”
9 But David said to Abishai, “Don’t destroy him! Who can lay a hand on the Lord’s anointed and be guiltless? 10 As surely as the Lord lives,” he said, “the Lord himself will strike him, or his time will come and he will die, or he will go into battle and perish. 11 But the Lord forbid that I should lay a hand on the Lord’s anointed. Now get the spear and water jug that are near his head, and let’s go.”
12 So David took the spear and water jug near Saul’s head, and they left. No one saw or knew about it, nor did anyone wake up. They were all sleeping, because the Lord had put them into a deep sleep.
13 Then David crossed over to the other side and stood on top of the hill some distance away; there was a wide space between them. 14 He called out to the army and to Abner son of Ner, “Aren’t you going to answer me, Abner?”
Abner replied, “Who are you who calls to the king?”
15 David said, “You’re a man, aren’t you? And who is like you in Israel? Why didn’t you guard your lord the king? Someone came to destroy your lord the king. 16 What you have done is not good. As surely as the Lord lives, you and your men must die, because you did not guard your master, the Lord’s anointed. Look around you. Where are the king’s spear and water jug that were near his head?”
New International Version (NIV)
Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
“O fill me with thy fullness, Lord, until my very heart overflow; In kindling thought and glowing word, thy love to tell, thy praise to show” (Frances R Havergal, 1836–1879).
Saul leads 3,000 chosen men in hot pursuit of David. Accompanied by his nephew, the violence-loving Abishai, David takes the initiative by sneaking into Saul’s camp and finding that Saul, Abner (Saul’s bodyguard and battle general) and the whole army are asleep. Stating that “today God has delivered your enemy into your hands” (8), Abishai even offers to kill Saul on David’s behalf. What a great temptation for David! This could be a God-given opportunity to snatch Saul’s throne; and someone else is willing to do his dirty work! However, David does not see this opportunity as evidence of God’s will. Not only does he restrain himself
(10,11), but he also prohibits Abishai from harming Saul (9).
Ever since Adam and Eve, humankind has desired to play God and take control. However, David thrice exercises considerable self-control, refusing to play God. First, we have seen him sparing Saul’s life in the cave (1 Sam. 24:3–7). Then he refrains himself from killing Nabal after listening to Abigail’s plea (1 Sam. 25:34,35). Now David lets God take full control by again sparing Saul’s life (10,11).
David is a secure person because he looks to God for his strength. He respects Saul as “the Lord’s anointed” (9,11,16,23) and is determined not to raise his hand against him. By contrast, Saul’s insecurity has driven him to pursue David—who, after all, is also God’s anointed. Having witnessed Nabal stricken by God (1 Sam. 25:36–39), David has no doubt that Saul’s life should be in God’s hands-whether he gets stricken by God, dies naturally or perishes in battle (10). The narrator tells us that the supernatural sleep falling on the whole camp of Saul has come from God (12). Nothing is more secure than divine providence, which has kept Saul and Abner safe despite the opportunity for David to destroy them. Let us allow God to take full control of our lives.
What temptations are you facing today? Pray against them and recommit yourself to God.