The books of 1 and 2 Samuel are concerned with David’s ascension to the throne of Israel. The writer wants Israel to know that the great king, the man after God’s heart, didn’t come into power through coercion, duplicity, or coup. He waited on God. He put his trust in Yahweh to bring him to the throne when the time was right. To prove this point, he shows that David had the opportunity (not once, but twice), to take Saul’s life, but refused to do so (1 Samuel 24,26).
In making the case for David, these narratives also provide us with some insight into something all believers struggle with at some time—decision making. They are helpful because they show us that circumstances are not always the only thing to consider when we’re trying to think things through and make a good decision.
On both occasions that David has the opportunity to take Saul’s life, his companions urge him to do so.
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. (1 Samuel 24:4)
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.” 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 my spear; I won’t strike him twice,” (1 Samuel 26:8).
Notice that in both cases, David’s companions have argued that the circumstances alone should dictate David’s decision. Their thinking goes something like this:
- The circumstances are favorable for us to bring about the death of Saul.
- God has brought these circumstances.
- Therefore, we should kill Saul.
The premises are true, but the conclusion is erroneous. David reminds them that Saul is still God’s anointed (24:6,26:9,11). He goes on to say that, “the LORD himself will strike him; either his time will come and he will die, or he will go into battle and perish,” (26:10). David did the same thing Jesus did when Satan told Him if He would throw Himself down from the temple the angels would save Him and He would prove His Sonship—he appealed to something outside his circumstances to clarify the meaning of them. For Jesus, it was the Scripture that told Him not to be presumptuous in testing God. For David, it was the recognition that God had made Saul king and God would end his reign when the time was right.
Circumstances are like moods—sometimes you go with them and sometimes you don’t, but it is always prudent to look past them for truths that will help us to understand how to make sense of our circumstances as David and David’s Lord did. We shouldn’t be ruled by them and we must be very careful before we conclude that God is telling us something through them.