DAVID SPARES SAUL'S LIFE
Luke 6:27, ESV
But I say to you who hear, Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you,
1 SAMUEL 22:1-4, NIrV
1 David left Gath and escaped to the cave of Adullam. His brothers and the other members of his family heard about it. So they went down to join him there. 2 Everyone who was in trouble or owed money or was unhappy gathered around him. He became their commander. About 400 men were with him.
3 From there David went to Mizpah in Moab. He spoke to the king of Moab. He said, “Please let my father and mother come and stay with you. Let them stay until I learn what God will do for me.” 4 So David left his parents with the king of Moab. They stayed with him as long as David was in his usual place of safety.
Saul was insanely jealous of his servant David. The king of Israel had tried to kill him at least four times! No longer safe at home, David escaped to hide in a cave. His brothers and parents joined him there, knowing Saul would probably want them dead, too. Before long, others began showing up at David’s cave base. These were men who’d fallen into various kinds of trouble. So David took this collection of 400 outcasts and turned them into his own special fighting force! Saul spent the next few years hunting him. As David fled from city to city, these misfits followed their leader wherever he went.
+ Why was David hiding in a cave?
+ Where did David take his parents to keep them safe? (vs. 3-4)
1 SAMUEL 23:1-14, NIrV
1 David was told, “The Philistines are fighting against the town of Keilah. They are stealing grain from the threshing floors.” 2 So he asked the Lord for advice. He said, “Should I go and attack those Philistines?”
The Lord answered him, “Go and attack them. Save Keilah.”
3 But David’s men said to him, “We’re afraid here in Judah. Suppose we go to Keilah and fight against the Philistine army. Then we’ll be even more afraid.”
4 Once again David asked the Lord what he should do. The Lord answered him, “Go down to Keilah. I am going to hand the Philistines over to you.” 5 So David and his men went to Keilah. They fought against the Philistines and carried off their livestock. David wounded and killed large numbers of Philistines. And he saved the people of Keilah. 6 Abiathar, the son of Ahimelek, had brought down the sacred linen apron with him from Nob. He did it when he ran away to David at Keilah.
7 Saul was told that David had gone to Keilah. He said, “God has handed him over to me. David has trapped himself by entering a town that has gates with metal bars.” 8 So Saul brought together all his soldiers to go to battle. He ordered them to go down to Keilah. He told them to surround David and his men. He told them to get ready to attack them.
9 David learned that Saul was planning to attack him. So he said to Abiathar the priest, “Bring the linen apron.” 10 Then David said, “Lord, you are the God of Israel. I know for sure that Saul plans to come to Keilah. He plans to destroy the town because of me. 11 Will the citizens of Keilah hand me over to him? Will Saul come down here, as I’ve heard he would? Lord, you are the God of Israel. Please answer me.”
The Lord said, “He will come down.”
12 Again David asked, “Will the citizens of Keilah hand me and my men over to Saul?”
And the Lord said, “They will.”
13 So David and his men left Keilah. The total number of them was about 600. They kept moving from place to place. Saul was told that David had escaped from Keilah. So he didn’t go there.
14 Sometimes David stayed in places of safety in the desert. At other times he stayed in the hills of the Desert of Ziph. Day after day Saul looked for him. But God didn’t hand David over to him.
David may have been on the run from Saul, but he was not afraid of a battle! When the city of Keilah was attacked by the Philistines, David asked God what he should do. God replied, “Save them,” so David sprang into action! Soon, the news of David’s victory reached Saul. The jealous king planned to surround Keilah until they handed David over. Now, if you thought the people of Keilah would help David because he helped them, you’d be wrong! David asked God, “Are they going to surrender me to Saul?” When God said, “Yes, they will,” David and his men left Keilah to seek a new hideout.
+ How could God know that the people of Keilah would surrender David to Saul?
+ David started with 400 fighting men. How many did he have now? (vs. 13)
1 SAMUEL 24:1-7, NIrV
1 Saul returned from chasing the Philistines. Then he was told, “David is in the Desert of En Gedi.” 2 So Saul took 3,000 of the best soldiers from the whole nation of Israel. He started out to look for David and his men. He planned to look near the Rocky Cliffs of the Wild Goats.
3 He came to some sheep pens along the way. A cave was there. Saul went in to go to the toilet. David and his men were far back in the cave. 4 David’s men said, “This is the day the Lord told you about. He said to you, ‘I will hand your enemy over to you. Then you can deal with him as you want to.’ ” So David came up close to Saul without being seen. He cut off a corner of Saul’s robe.
4 Later, David felt sorry that he had cut off a corner of Saul’s robe. 6 He said to his men, “May the Lord keep me from doing a thing like that again to my master. He is the Lord’s anointed king. So I promise that I will never lay my hand on him. The Lord has anointed him.” 7 David said that to correct his men. He wanted them to know that they should never suggest harming the king. He didn’t allow them to attack Saul. So Saul left the cave and went on his way.
Saul had been hunting David for years. But on this day, David finally had his chance for revenge! Saul left to use the bathroom in the same dark cave that David and his men were already hiding in. If David wanted, he could easily sneak up and kill the man who had tried to kill him countless times. But as he stood there, inches from his enemy, David didn’t strike. Instead, he cut off a piece of Saul’s robe. Even though he was David’s enemy, Saul was still the man God anointed to be king of Israel. David pledged to never kill God’s anointed king, and he ordered his men to make the same promise!
+ Why didn’t David kill King Saul when he had the chance? (vs. 6)
+ Why do you think David cut off a piece of Saul’s robe?
1 SAMUEL 24:8-11, 16-22, NIRV
8 Then David went out of the cave. He called out to Saul, “King Saul! My master!” When Saul looked behind him, David bowed down. He lay down flat with his face toward the ground. 9 He said to Saul, “Why do you listen when men say, ‘David is trying to harm you’? 10 This day you have seen with your own eyes how the Lord handed you over to me in the cave. Some of my men begged me to kill you. But I didn’t. I said, ‘I will never lay my hand on my master. He is the Lord’s anointed king.’ 11 Look, my father! Look at this piece of your robe in my hand! I cut off the corner of your robe. But I didn’t kill you. See, there is nothing in my hand that shows I am guilty of doing anything wrong. I haven’t turned against you. I haven’t done anything to harm you. But you are hunting me down. You want to kill me.
16 When David finished speaking, Saul asked him a question. He said, “My son David, is that your voice?” And Saul wept out loud. 17 “You are a better person than I am,” he said. “You have treated me well. But I’ve treated you badly. 18 You have just now told me about the good things you did to me. The Lord handed me over to you. But you didn’t kill me. 19 Suppose a man finds his enemy. He doesn’t let him get away without harming him. May the Lord reward you with many good things. May he do it because of the way you treated me today. 20 I know for sure that you will be king. I know that the kingdom of Israel will be made secure under your control. 21 Now make a promise in the name of the Lord. Promise me that you won’t kill the children of my family. Also promise me that you won’t wipe out my name from my family line.”
22 So David made that promise to Saul. Then Saul returned home. But David and his men went up to his usual place of safety.
Why had Saul tried to kill David so many times? Jealousy! Saul was afraid David would snatch his kingdom away from him. That wasn’t true, and now David was able to prove it! From a safe distance, he showed Saul the piece of robe he’d cut off in the cave. Saul had a chilling thought: “If David was close enough to cut my robe, that means he was also close enough to cut me!” Saul knew he’d been spared from death by the man he thought was his enemy. So the jealous king returned home. However, if you thought this kind deed changed Saul’s mind about hunting David, you’d better think again!
+ What did Saul do when he learned David had spared his life? (vs. 16)
+ How was David more righteous than Saul? (vs. 17)
1 SAMUEL 26:1-12, NIRV
1 Some people from Ziph went to Saul at Gibeah. They said, “David is hiding on the hill of Hakilah. It faces Jeshimon.”
2 So Saul went down to the Desert of Ziph. He took 3,000 of the best soldiers in Israel with him. They went to the desert to look for David. 3 Saul set up his camp beside the road. It was on the hill of Hakilah facing Jeshimon. But David stayed in the desert. He saw that Saul had followed him there. 4 So he sent out scouts. From them he learned that Saul had arrived.
5 Then David started out. He went to the place where Saul had camped. He saw where Saul and Abner were lying down. Saul was lying inside the camp. The army was camped all around him. Abner was commander of the army. He was the son of Ner.
6 Then David spoke to Ahimelek, the Hittite. He also spoke to Joab’s brother Abishai, the son of Zeruiah. He asked them, “Who will go down with me into the camp to Saul?”
“I’ll go with you,” said Abishai.
7 So that night David and Abishai went into the camp. They found Saul lying asleep inside the camp. His spear was stuck in the ground near his head. Abner and the soldiers were lying asleep around him.
8 Abishai said to David, “Today God has handed your enemy over to you. So let me pin him to the ground. I can do it with one jab of the spear. I won’t even have to strike him twice.”
9 But David said to Abishai, “Don’t destroy him! No one can do any harm to the Lord’s anointed king and not be guilty. 10 You can be sure that the Lord lives,” he said. “And you can be just as sure that the Lord himself will strike Saul down. Perhaps he’ll die a natural death. Or perhaps he’ll go into battle and be killed. 11 May the Lord keep me from doing anything to harm his anointed king. Now get the spear and water jug that are near his head. Then let’s leave.”
12 So David took the spear and water jug that were near Saul’s head. Then he and Abishai left. No one saw them. No one knew about what they had done. In fact, no one even woke up. Everyone was sleeping. That’s because the Lord had put them into a deep sleep.
After David spared his life in the cave, it looked like Saul would end his jealous chase. However, here we find Saul again, back on the hunt! And once again, God gave David the perfect opportunity to destroy the man who was trying to destroy him. As they neared Saul’s camp, David’s men saw what God had done: caused all of Saul’s soldiers to fall into an incredibly deep sleep. With no one awake to watch, David’s men snuck within inches of the sleeping Saul. But again, David refused to kill God’s anointed king. Instead, he grabbed Saul’s own spear and water jar, then tiptoed out of the camp.
+ How was David able to sneak into Saul’s camp without being seen? (vs. 12)
+ Why do you think David took Saul’s spear and water jar?
1 SAMUEL 26:13-22, 25, NIRV
13 David went across to the other side of the valley. He stood on top of a hill far away from Saul’s camp. There was a wide space between them. 14 He called out to the army and to Abner, the son of Ner. He said, “Abner! Aren’t you going to answer me?”
Abner replied, “Who is calling out to the king?”
15 David said, “You are a great soldier, aren’t you? There isn’t anyone else like you in Israel. So why didn’t you guard the king? He’s your master, isn’t he? Someone came into the camp to destroy him. 16 You didn’t guard him. And that isn’t good. You can be sure that the Lord lives. And you can be just as sure that you and your men must die. That’s because you didn’t guard your master. He’s the Lord’s anointed king. Look around you. Where are the king’s spear and water jug that were near his head?”
17 Saul recognized David’s voice. He said, “My son David, is that your voice?”
David replied, “Yes it is, King Saul, my master.” 18 He continued, “Why are you chasing me? What evil thing have I done? What am I guilty of? 19 King Saul, please listen to what I’m saying. Was it the Lord who made you angry with me? If it was, may he accept my offering. Was it people who made you angry at me? If it was, may the Lord see them cursed. They have driven me today from my share of the Lord’s land. By doing that, they might as well have said, ‘Go and serve other gods.’ 20 Don’t spill my blood on the ground far away from where the Lord lives. King Saul, you have come out to look for nothing but a flea. It’s as if you were hunting a partridge in the mountains.”
21 Then Saul said, “I have sinned. My son David, come back. Today you thought my life was very special. So I won’t try to harm you again. I’ve really acted like a foolish person. I’ve made a huge mistake.”
22 “Here’s your spear,” David answered. “Send one of your young men over to get it.
25 Then Saul said to David, “May the Lord bless you, David my son. You will do great things. You will also have great success.”
So David went on his way. And Saul returned home.
Imagine you are a hunter. And for years and years, you’ve been hunting one special deer. He’s got the biggest antlers you’ve ever seen! You follow him from place to place, you bring lots of other hunters with you, and still, he always finds a way to escape.
Now pretend you wake up one morning and, lo and behold, there’s the deer you’ve been tracking, standing on top of a hill a little ways away. You reach for your trusty hunting rifle and realize it’s missing. Taking a second look, you see something so strange, you can hardly believe your eyes: the deer has your gun!
That’s a bit like the situation Saul found himself in when he woke up. He had been tracking and hunting David like an animal for years. Yet somehow, David always managed to escape. On this particular morning, Saul woke up to the sound of David’s voice. The man he’d wanted dead for years was standing off on a hill. And what was David holding in his hand? Saul’s own spear and his personal water jug!
Saul had placed those items next to him as he slept the previous night. If David had them now, that meant he’d been right next to Saul as he snored the night away. Once again, David had been close enough to kill Saul in his sleep. But obviously, David hadn’t done such a thing because Saul was still breathing!
David had now had a chance to kill Saul two times: once in a dark cave and another as Saul slept. And both times, even though Saul didn’t deserve it, David let him live. Saul was a man who often changed his mind and broke his promises. However, shortly after this incredible act of kindness, Saul finally called off his David hunt for good.
David’s kindness to his enemy, Saul, reminds us a lot of how David’s many-times-great grandson Jesus treated his enemies. In Romans 5:10, we learn about God’s enemies – us! We were sinners, disobeyers of God’s word. And our sin had earned us the punishment of forever death. Like David had the opportunity to strike down his enemy, Jesus could have struck down all of us sinners!
But just two verses before the one that tells us we were God’s enemies, it also tells us what Jesus did for his enemies: he died to save them! After David’s incredible act of kindness, Saul called off the hunt for David. So what should we do after Jesus’ super incredible act of kindness? It’s simple. Believe the good news that Jesus died for our sins and rose from the dead, and then follow him as our king for the rest of our lives!
+ What promise did Saul make to David after he spared his life? (vs. 21)
+ What did Jesus do for his enemies?