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1 Samuel 24:17a, 1112, 1622 comment (0)

October 23, 2008

By Doug Wilson

Related Scripture: 1 Samuel 24:17a, 1112, 1622

Explore the Bible
Associate Professor of Christian Studies, School of Christian Studies, University of Mobile

1 Samuel 24:1–7a, 11–12, 16–22

Conformity often occurs unnoticed. The people of Israel conformed themselves to look like the people around them, to fit in. Paul warned the church at Rome not to be conformed to the world (Rom. 12:2) yet also wrote that God is using our circumstances to conform us into the image of Christ (Rom. 8:28–29).
In this lesson, King Saul and king-to-be David are faced with decisions to conform to God’s will. David must show restraint against a madman who seeks to destroy him. Saul must come to the realization that his pursuit is in vain, since God has ordained for David to succeed him. As we look at this passage, let us consider applying these principles to our lives.

Respect God-ordained Leaders (1–7a)
An army of 3,000 men pursued David. In desperation, David hid in a cave to avoid capture and execution. Who could have predicted that Saul would enter that specific cave or that David would be able to approach him by stealth?

Saul was dealing with spiritual issues that led him on this murderous rampage, yet David continued to recognize him as the king whom God ordained to lead Israel. Out of obedience to God, he showed honor to his king.

In the aftermath of Sept. 11, I met a former leader for whom I never had respect based on his personal activities while in public office. Upon meeting him, I spoke but refused to greet him with the customary title he might expect.

After this incident, the Lord rebuked me, reminding me that Romans 13 clearly instructs Christians to give honor to whom honor is due. While I did not respect the character of the man, I still had an obligation to respect the office he once held.

Accept God’s Judgments (11–12)
Men’s judgments are often arbitrary, based on a variety of temporal factors. By contrast, God’s judgments are always just, based on the immutable nature and character of God Himself. When an individual, a family, a church or a nation strays from the absolute standards of God, each faces God’s judgment.

As David made himself known to Saul, he showed respect, calling him father. He demonstrated to the king that he intended to do him no harm though he was in a position to do so.

David was also willing to ask for God to be arbiter between these two men. Both of them were fully aware that David was not pursuing Saul, and they knew what the judgment would be.

Maintain Godly Character (16–19)
Saul was everything the people wanted in a king — visually. He was tall and handsome. People liked to be around him, except when he was trying to kill them.

By contrast, David was a ruddy shepherd who was easily passed over in a crowd. But David had a trustworthy character. Both instances when he could have killed Saul, he refrained from doing so. Though the king meant to kill him, David chose to spare his life. Character matters.

Wait on God’s Timing (20–22)

“God’s timing is always perfect.” That is one of my favorite quotes from the autobiography of George Muller, who established orphanages to care for thousands of English children. Time after time, God demonstrated His faithfulness to provide for Muller’s needs as he waited upon the Lord. Whether the need was workers, housing or food for the orphans, God continually provided for that ministry.

Saul recognized that his days as king were numbered. He also knew that David would succeed him. David had known this since the time Samuel had anointed him, but even at this juncture, he had to wait. The day was coming when he would become king, just not yet. David recognized that God works out His purposes in His own timing.
“Wait expectantly for Him” (Ps. 37:7).

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