1 Sam 24:1-4.
When Saul returned from following the Philistines, he was told, “Behold, David is in the wilderness of Engedi.” 2 Then Saul took three thousand chosen men out of all Israel and went to seek David and his men in front of the Wildgoats’ Rocks. 3 And he came to the sheepfolds by the way, where there was a cave, and Saul went in to relieve himself. Now David and his men were sitting in the innermost parts of the cave. 4 And the men of David said to him, “Here is the day of which the Lord said to you, ‘Behold, I will give your enemy into your hand, and you shall do to him as it shall seem good to you.’” Then David arose and stealthily cut off a corner of Saul’s robe.
Saul goes into a cave by himself to go to the bathroom; and who happens to be in the back of the cave? David. Here was his chance to kill Saul! Even his men are chanting, “do it – do it – do it.”
And nobody would have blamed David if he would have just taken his sword and plunged it into Saul’s back.
Surely this was a sign that God had delivered Saul into David’s hands, right?
David drew his sword, but he didn’t stab Saul in the back.
Instead, he sliced off a piece of Saul’s robe, then returned to his place in the cave. Saul didn’t feel a thing. Why did David do that? Well, he had a tremendous respect for the office of the King even if he didn’t have much respect for the king himself. Because no matter how low Saul stooped, he was still the king and should be respected. And so this then immediately makes David feel guilty….
v5-7 5 And afterward David’s heart struck him, because he had cut off a corner of Saul’s robe. 6 He said to his men, “The Lord forbid that I should do this thing to my lord, the Lord’s anointed, to put out my hand against him, seeing he is the Lord’s anointed.” 7 So David persuaded his men with these words and did not permit them to attack Saul. And Saul rose up and left the cave and went on his way.
He knew what he had done was done initially out of anger and bitterness, and afterward, he was disturbed with himself for allowing his anger and bitterness to gain control over him, even for a moment. David had such a desire to honor God with his life that he felt remorse because he allowed sin to lead him to do something he knew was not right, no matter what everyone else thought.
We said earlier that David is walking the line between being an Outlaw and a Hero. And part of what makes him a hero and as the Bible says, “A man after God’s own heart” is shown here in this moment.
David clearly has reason to be upset with Saul, his action would even be justified, but rather than take revenge, rather than hurt, David chose a different route.
Handling mistreatment in a godly way doesn’t come naturally. That’s why Jesus’ instruction to do unto others as you would have them do unto you, not as they do to you, is so revolutionary. Rare is the person who will not retaliate. After Saul left the cave and went his way, David also went out of the cave and he calls out to Saul.
1 Samuel 24:8-15
8 Afterward David also arose and went out of the cave, and called after Saul, “My lord the king!” And when Saul looked behind him, David bowed with his face to the earth and paid homage. 9 And David said to Saul, “Why do you listen to the words of men who say, ‘Behold, David seeks your harm’?10 Behold, this day your eyes have seen how the Lord gave you today into my hand in the cave. And some told me to kill you, but I spared you. I said, ‘I will not put out my hand against my lord, for he is the Lord’s anointed.’ 11 See, my father, see the corner of your robe in my hand. For by the fact that I cut off the corner of your robe and did not kill you, you may know and see that there is no wrong or treason in my hands. I have not sinned against you, though you hunt my life to take it. 12 May the Lord judge between me and you, may the Lord avenge me against you, but my hand shall not be against you. 13 As the proverb of the ancients says, ‘Out of the wicked comes wickedness.’ But my hand shall not be against you. 14 After whom has the king of Israel come out? After whom do you pursue? After a dead dog! After a flea! 15 May the Lord therefore be judge and give sentence between me and you, and see to it and plead my cause and deliver me from your hand.”
David says “stop listening to your poor advisors and see the evidence in my hands.”
I think David was tired of living in fear, tired of hiding, tired of being in a cave. David chose the higher road and stepped out to face Saul directly and he said, “this feud between us ends today – either with our friendship – or my death.”
And I think, sometimes we have to do that. I think one of the best ways to deal with people who have hurt us or done something wrong to us is to go and talk to them. Rip off the Band-Aid – get it over with – step out of the cave – turn from the path of the outlaw and be the hero.
And listen, you may not convince them they’re wrong, but you can be sure that they understand all the facts. But our tendency is to say, “Oh just leave it alone. It’ll eventually all work out.” But David didn’t leave it all alone, did he?
He said, “King Saul, you don’t have the facts straight. I am not trying to kill you and I am not trying to take over your position as King. People are telling you lies about me. Why do you listen to them? Let me prove it. If I was going to kill you, I would have back there in that cave. But I didn’t”
In Matthew 18:15 Jesus says, “If your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault, between you and him alone. If he listens to you, you have gained your brother.”
But most of the time instead of confronting our fears, we go to everyone else instead and we let everyone else know what a low life the other person is, and the nerve the person must have to do what they did.
You know we’ve been saying that Jesus life and ministry mirrors David’s in a lot of ways. And Jesus was a hero. He was sinless, completely pure and totally innocent of the lies people told about him. And yet when he was insulted, beaten, abused and put to death he never retaliated. He once taught that if someone strikes you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also. And we know from Peter that what Jesus taught is exactly how he lived.
1 Peter 2:21-23 says
For to this you have been called, because Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example, so that you might follow in his steps. 22 He committed no sin, neither was deceit found in his mouth. 23 When he was reviled, he did not revile in return; when he suffered, he did not threaten, but continued entrusting himself to him who judges justly.
What do you do with the person at work who manipulates situations to make themselves look good at your expense? What do you do with the family member who has said some really hurtful and untrue things about you? How about the supposed friend who borrowed money from you, promised to pay you back, but you haven’t seen a dime of it? Or the person who in their own anger has hit you and hurt you? How do you treat a spouse who walked out on you, leaving you alone to deal with the kids? How do you respond to the parent who has verbally, emotionally, physically or even sexually abused you?
When someone hurts you or does something to you that you know is wrong, the natural feeling is to want to get even. Our human nature is crying out for retaliation and revenge.
So knowing how to deal with those feeling is crucial.