The first few lessons of this unit will explore the situation Israel found herself as she waited in limbo between her two kings: Saul and David. Both were anointed by God, but one had the gift of faith – and it was his most precious gift.
Last week we left off with David and Saul parting ways on good terms. Then David went to a familiar place of shelter…near the Ziphites. And if you’ll recall, the Ziphites excelled at stirring up trouble – and I think they had greedy motives. They re-stirred the pot, so-to-speak, by going to Saul and telling him where David and his men were sheltered because they wanted Abigail’s stuff.
15 Such “wisdom” does not come down from heaven but is earthly, unspiritual, demonic. 16 For where you have envy and selfish ambition, there you find disorder and every evil practice. James 3:15-16 niv 2011
The Ziphites’ wisdom (or their knowledge of where David was living) was earthly, unspiritual and demonic. They came to Saul knowing full well that it would stir him up against David again. Telling Saul of David’s whereabouts will no doubt cause disorder. Their selfish ambition plunged them head-long into a coalition of premeditated attempted murder. At this point, their personal desires negated obedience to their own Law. They’re Israelites, of the tribe of Judah. What happened to thou shalt not kill? And they know that Saul wants to kill David. Their ambition appears very much to be getting rid of David so that they could have easy access to Abigail’s possessions. With David out of the way they could overcome her household of servants and take whatever they wanted.
But let’s read the rest of the account:
3 Saul made his camp beside the road on the hill of Hakilah facing Jeshimon, but David stayed in the wilderness. When he saw that Saul had followed him there, 4 he sent out scouts and learned that Saul had definitely arrived.
5 Then David set out and went to the place where Saul had camped. He saw where Saul and Abner son of Ner, the commander of the army, had lain down. Saul was lying inside the camp, with the army encamped around him.
6 David then asked Ahimelek the Hittite and Abishai son of Zeruiah, Joab’s brother, “Who will go down into the camp with me to Saul?”
“I’ll go with you,” said Abishai.
7 So David and Abishai went to the army by night, and there was Saul, lying asleep inside the camp with his spear stuck in the ground near his head. Abner and the soldiers were lying around him.
8 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 the spear; I won’t strike him twice.”
9 But David said to Abishai, “Don’t destroy him! Who can lay a hand on the Lord’s anointed and be guiltless? 10 As surely as the Lord lives,” he said, “the Lord himself will strike him, or his time will come and he will die, or he will go into battle and perish. 11 But the Lord forbid that I should lay a hand on the Lord’s anointed. Now get the spear and water jug that are near his head, and let’s go.” 1st Samuel 26:3-11 niv 2011
Abishai, one of the 3 sons of David’s sister, Zeruiah, is a determined and gifted warrior – but void of compassion, and apparently hard-hearted to the things of God. David reminds him, as he did the men at En Gedi, that they cannot lay a hand on the Lord’s anointed. Whatever unrighteousness Saul has displayed, David is confident that God will take care of it. This is a statement of faith on David’s part.
When we are under intense attack – especially the attacks of family and/or friends – it’s hard to hold back on the destruction of the offending party. And if you wind up with the upper hand against the offending party it’s nearly impossible to keep from pinning them to the ground.
Years ago my husband Jim and I were involved in an altercation with people with whom we were very close to. They said and did some very deceitful, and, resultantly, painful things. Jim and I sort of retreated to our corner, praying and contemplating this situation. We didn’t know how to react, or what to respond with so we “went dark” so to speak. As the months passed, horrible truths came to light about these people who’d offended us. Now we had the upper hand and could retaliate. We could really do some damage, and boy did we ever want that. The problem was, we knew good and well that one of the offenders was anointed. God, in His Divine Wisdom and Grace, would not allow us to destroy this character. Was it easy to walk away from the opportunity? Some yes, but a lot no. God did make a way out of the temptation to destroy this joker, just as He’s promised in His Word: 13 No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it. 1st Corinthians 10:13 niv 2011
Continuing with David,
12 So David took the spear and water jug near Saul’s head, and they left. No one saw or knew about it, nor did anyone wake up. They were all sleeping, because the Lord had put them into a deep sleep.
13 Then David crossed over to the other side and stood on top of the hill some distance away; there was a wide space between them. 14 He called out to the army and to Abner son of Ner, “Aren’t you going to answer me, Abner?”
Abner replied, “Who are you who calls to the king?”
15 David said, “You’re a man, aren’t you? And who is like you in Israel? Why didn’t you guard your lord the king? Someone came to destroy your lord the king. 16 What you have done is not good. As surely as the Lord lives, you and your men must die, because you did not guard your master, the Lord’s anointed. Look around you. Where are the king’s spear and water jug that were near his head?”
17 Saul recognized David’s voice and said, “Is that your voice, David my son?” 1st Samuel 26:12-17 niv 2011
Amazingly, Saul’s cold heart melts at the sound of David’s voice! I think it’s because David’s mouth is full of truth. He’s not just hurling back insults at Saul – he’s telling it flat out like it is.
David replied, “Yes it is, my lord the king.” 18 And he added, “Why is my lord pursuing his servant? What have I done, and what wrong am I guilty of? 19 Now let my lord the king listen to his servant’s words. If the Lord has incited you against me, then may he accept an offering. If, however, people have done it, may they be cursed before the Lord! 1st Samuel 26:17-19 niv 2011
David knew it was the Ziphites who’d roiled Saul up against him – and he reveals his thoughts in one of the few psalms that we can place in a particular time period. Remember, the Ziphites have ratted out David twice now.
Psalm 54 niv 2011 Pay particular attention to what David notes in the subscript:
For the director of music. With stringed instruments. A maskil of David. [maskil means instructive poem] When the Ziphites had gone to Saul and said, “Is not David hiding among us?”
1 Save me, O God, by your name;
vindicate me by your might.
2 Hear my prayer, O God;
listen to the words of my mouth.
3 Arrogant foes are attacking me;
ruthless people are trying to kill me—
people without regard for God.
4 Surely God is my help;
the Lord is the one who sustains me.
5 Let evil recoil on those who slander me;
in your faithfulness destroy them.
6 I will sacrifice a freewill offering to you;
I will praise your name, Lord, for it is good.
7 You have delivered me from all my troubles,
and my eyes have looked in triumph on my foes.
These are the words of a faithful man. He knows where his protection and blessing is coming from. He’s so certain of God’s power in his life that he says to Saul: If … people have [incited you against me], may they be cursed before the Lord! (See 1st Samuel 26:19) David writes in his psalm, at verse 5: Let evil recoil on those who slander me; in your faithfulness destroy them.
But, then David says to Saul:
They have driven me today from my share in the Lord’s inheritance and have said, ‘Go, serve other gods.’ 1st Samuel 26:19 niv 2011
In his passion, David reveals a slight crack in his armor. He’s blaming the Ziphites for driving him out of Judah, so we know he’s getting ready to bale. When David says: ‘Go, serve other gods,’ he’s talking about living in Philistine territory,
David’s faith suddenly falters – which is what can happen when we endure an exceptionally extended time of trial and attack. And there is nothing more brutal than having to suffer that attack at the hands of our family – whether it be church family or biological family. This particular type of trial that David has suffered for years now is finally getting the best of him.
Join us next week as we continue the account of Saul’s new pursuit of David, Between Two Kings Part 1C.
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