It’s a done deal that David is to be the next king of Israel. He is a man after God’s “own heart” (1 Samuel 13:14). No less than Samuel the prophet showed up at his house to anoint him. It doesn’t get any more definite than that!
Of course the current king, Saul, is none too happy about this turn of events. Indeed, the final days of his reign are devoted to trying to kill David, but God will not allow this to happen (23:14). In fact, David and Abishai steal into king’s camp one night while everyone is asleep and stand over Saul. With 3,000 soldiers surrounding him you would think that this would be impossible but God has put everyone into a deep sleep (26:12). Abishai wants David’s permission to kill the Saul. His thought process goes something like this:
- You have been chosen by God and anointed to be the next king of Israel.
- Saul is opposing the Lord by trying to kill you.
- Not only has God delivered you from Saul—He has delivered Saul to you.
In short, he’s telling David it’s a God thing. And he’s totally convinced that it is. And it must be admitted, the circumstantial evidence points toward that conclusion. There’s just one problem.
It isn’t a God thing.
We learn from this that just because someone says or thinks it is a God thing doesn’t make it so. Someone sells their house and declares God’s hand was in it. Another finds something on sale at the store and says the same thing. Everything from sports performances to finding parking spots are spoken of as a God thing.
It needs to be noted that the intent to recognize God is good. There’s much that’s noble and needed in such an attitude. Yet at the same time, we do no one any favors if our conclusions are lacking in discernment and God isn’t involved in the manner we say He is. It’s like the toddler who calls every adult male “Daddy!” The motive may be pure, but the results leave a lot to be desired.
Essentially there are two things lacking when we indiscriminately attribute things to God. Just as calling every adult male your dad trivializes your actual father, attributing everything to God trivializes His actual deeds. The other shortcoming concerns our knowledge, or more to the point, our lack of it. While we might be tempted like Abishai to think we have a complete understanding of a situation, the truth is we seldom do. And to act as if we do is not only presumptuous but (as in Abishai’s case), could have devastating consequences.
David wisely rejects Abishai’s counsel by pointing out that Saul’s fate is in God’s hands, not theirs (v. 10). Of course, he’s right in not taking Saul’s life and he’s right that not long afterwards the king meets his death on the battlefield (31:1-6).I wonder if Abishai took this to heart and was more careful in his words?