Evil Do, Evil Be
Merciful Father, I pray that You will cleanse my heart and spirit from sin as I come before You now.
Read 1 Samuel 24:1-22
 After Saul returned from pursuing the Philistines, he was told, “David is in the Desert of En Gedi.”  So Saul took three thousand chosen men from all Israel and set out to look for David and his men near the Crags of the Wild Goats.  He came to the sheep pens along the way; a cave was there, and Saul went in to relieve himself. David and his men were far back in the cave.  The men said, “This is the day the LORD spoke of when he said to you, ‘I will give your enemy into your hands for you to deal with as you wish.'” Then David crept up unnoticed and cut off a corner of Saul’s robe.  Afterward, David was conscience-stricken for having cut off a corner of his robe.  He said to his men, “The LORD forbid that I should do such a thing to my master, the LORD’s anointed, or lift my hand against him; for he is the anointed of the LORD.”  With these words David rebuked his men and did not allow them to attack Saul. And Saul left the cave and went his way.  Then David went out of the cave and called out to Saul, “My lord the king!” When Saul looked behind him, David bowed down and prostrated himself with his face to the ground.  He said to Saul, “Why do you listen when men say, ‘David is bent on harming you’?  This day you have seen with your own eyes how the LORD delivered you into my hands in the cave. Some urged me to kill you, but I spared you; I said, ‘I will not lift my hand against my master, because he is the LORD’s anointed.’  See, my father, look at this piece of your robe in my hand! I cut off the corner of your robe but did not kill you. Now understand and recognize that I am not guilty of wrongdoing or rebellion. I have not wronged you, but you are hunting me down to take my life.  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.  As the old saying goes, ‘From evildoers come evil deeds,’ so my hand will not touch you.  “Against whom has the king of Israel come out? Whom are you pursuing? A dead dog? A flea?  May the LORD be our judge and decide between us. May he consider my cause and uphold it; may he vindicate me by delivering me from your hand.”  When David finished saying this, Saul asked, “Is that your voice, David my son?” And he wept aloud.  “You are more righteous than I,” he said. “You have treated me well, but I have treated you badly.  You have just now told me of the good you did to me; the LORD delivered me into your hands, but you did not kill me.  When a man finds his enemy, does he let him get away unharmed? May the LORD reward you well for the way you treated me today.  I know that you will surely be king and that the kingdom of Israel will be established in your hands.  Now swear to me by the LORD that you will not cut off my descendants or wipe out my name from my father’s family.”  So David gave his oath to Saul. Then Saul returned home, but David and his men went up to the stronghold. Scripture taken from the Holy Bible, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 International Bible Society. All rights reserved throughout the world. Used by permission of International Bible Society.
ReflectWhat prevented David from killing Saul?
God’s humor is at play here! Tension is high as Saul pursues David. He stops to relieve himself in the very cave David has hidden in—and misses him! But David is well aware of Saul’s presence.
A common defense at the school I work in is: “They did it to me first.” Bad behavior is justified because of the other person’s actions. Essentially a similar decision is being contemplated here. But David chooses differently. And that is so powerful!
While clearly aware of Saul’s deadly intentions, David refuses his men’s urgings to kill Saul. David will not allow Saul’s bad behavior to dictate his own standards. Instead David’s actions are dictated by his honor of God. They demonstrate his beliefs and, consequently, his identity as God’s servant.
Retaliation is increasingly accepted in human behavior and even excused in law. However, when we retaliate, we demonstrate a heart that is far from God. As God’s people we cannot afford to let the worst of another’s behavior dictate our behavior and identity. Our choices are to reflect God to those around us (see 1 John 3:7,8).
Reflect on how your identity as God’s servant influences your behavior. What difference has it made in your choices recently?
Lord, I am Your child. Help me always to reflect that in the choices I make and the way I act.