Many times in life, circumstances can bring opportunities our way. This could be a new job opportunity, a relocation opportunity, a relationship opportunity or maybe even an opportunity to go the route of vocational ministry. The question sometimes we need to ask ourselves: could the opportunity be a test from the Lord? We see in 1 Samuel 24 and 26, David had two great opportunities to eliminate Saul so that he wouldn’t have to run any longer.
In Chapter 24 Saul and three thousand men are pursuing David and his men. Saul decides to go into a cave to relieve himself. Of all the caves he chooses, the one he enters is where David and some of his men are hiding. While Saul is taking care of business David cuts off a piece of his robe. What is very interesting is that David’s conscience bothers him. In verse 4, David’s men tell him that “the Lord has delivered your enemy into your hand”. David disagrees and says the following in verse 6, “Far be it from me because of the Lord that I should do this thing to my lord, the Lord’s anointed, to stretch out my hand against him, since he is the Lord’s anointed.” David persuades his men and does not allow them to strike Saul when they had the opportunity.
The second instance occurs in Chapter 26. Saul is once again pursuing David in the hill of Hachilah. David decides to go with Abishai and check things out at Saul’s camp. We see throughout David’s life that Abishai was close to David, watching out for him. He was one of David’s right hand guys. Once again David had the opportunity to kill Saul. Saul’s men were in a deep sleep and Abishai said to David, “Today God has delivered your enemy into your hand; now therefore, please let me strike him with the spear to the ground with one stroke, and I will not strike him the second time.” When I read this account, I think how easy it would have been for David to think to himself, “God must want me to kill him, here is the second opportunity to do so!” But David again tells Abishai that he will not strike down the Lord’s anointed.
I speculate there may be a couple of reasons why David would not strike down Saul.
The first observation is that David had great respect for Saul’s God-given position of authority as king. Even though Saul had deteriorated into an evil man this didn’t change David’s attitude about respecting authority. David calls him lord and bows down to him even when he is on the run for his life. Our nation could learn a lot from how David acted. In our country today, if we don’t like a politician or anyone in a position of authority, we don’t treat him with the respect demanded of God’s established authority.
The second observation is David trusted in the sovereignty of God. He knew one day he would be king, but he wanted God to decide the timing. In verse 10 of Chapter 26 David says to Abishai, “As the Lord lives, surely the Lord will strike him, or his day will come that he dies, or he will go down into battle and perish.” He deferred to God’s sovereign hand to decide when this would occur. Many times in the Psalms David writes about waiting on the Lord. I am guessing this is one of the circumstances that taught him to practice “waiting”.
I also believe David decided he would not kill Saul before the opportunities to kill him were presented and that is why he didn’t waver. Deciding our actions before the circumstance comes is how we gain victory. Such is a man deciding no matter what, he will never cheat on his wife. So if the opportunity/temptation ever comes, the decision has already been made, there is no wavering. If a person has a heart for obedience, 1 Cor. 10:13 promises us that God will provide the way of escape. For David’s circumstance, the way of escape was sparing his enemy’s life.
Isaiah 55: 8 “For My thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways My ways,” declares the Lord. May we pray for God to help us see things as He sees them so we can discern an opportunity from a test.