There is a long story in the Bible about the plight of David, chosen by God to be the next king of Israel, being ruthlessly pursued by the King Israel had hand-selected for the job, Saul. If you have ever read the accounts, you know the history reflects Israel seeing all the surrounding nations with kings ruling over their countries. They want to have the same - so they insist to God his rule is not enough - they want a man to stand as king. Although God discourages them from doing this, he allows it. They appoint Saul - a good man at first, but he was out of his mind at times - a character trait no one wants in their king. God works behind the scenes to raise up the one he will anoint to replace Saul - David. Until such time as Saul is ready to step-down from his throne, David must serve Saul. His service starts in the courts of his throne-room, playing his harp to soothe the king. It is this very service which has him right in the place where some wonder if God knew what he was doing when he placed David there! Saul had a problem with anger, jealousy, and was probably a little unbalanced in his mental health. He has fits of rage, seeking to kill David, although David does nothing to deserve this treatment. I wonder how we respond in similar situations? When we don't deserve the treatment we are receiving, is our attitude one of continued service, or do we strike out in like manner as to what we have been receiving?
When David had finished saying all this, Saul said, “Can this be the voice of my son David?” and he wept in loud sobs. “You’re the one in the right, not me,” he continued. “You’ve heaped good on me; I’ve dumped evil on you. And now you’ve done it again—treated me generously. God put me in your hands and you didn’t kill me. Why? When a man meets his enemy, does he send him down the road with a blessing? (I Samuel 24:16-19 MSG)
Skipping ahead in our story, we find David has to eventually flee from the rage of Saul - amassing a small army of men as he does. He hides out in the wilderness lands surrounding Israel, often in obscure places like mountain caves or hidden valleys. Yet, Saul's determination to find David and see him "done in" never seems to wane. He has many informants in the region - men set on telling the King where David's men have been spotted. In the midst of what Saul saw as nothing more than David escaping his death, David is actually learning much about the enemies of Israel, often taking them on when they did such things as attacking the grain stores of Israel. So, even in David's supposed "hiding out", he was still serving Israel - and the one who wanted him dead.
There comes a day when God appeared to have delivered Saul into David's hands. Saul is alone, unguarded by his military men, needing a few moments of privacy to relieve himself in the shelter of one of the caves David and his men were secretly hidden away in. Saul does not realize how close he comes to losing his life at the hand of one who we would probably think justified in taking this action since Saul had done everything he could to take David's life on countless occasions. Yet, David merely cuts the hem of the King's robe. Here we see something quite different between the two men - one is out for blood without a cause, the other is out to reveal the power of God to restrain the natural emotions of a man.
Our story continues with Saul beginning to go on his way, still unaware of just how close he was to his undoing. As he is a short distance outside of the cave, David calls to him. Here we find David, exposed to potential harm - for there was no other way out for him, but into the path of his pursuers. He stands boldly, declaring to Saul how close Saul had been to his death...BUT he walks free because David chose to serve God's plan and not his own. There is something quite profound in this revelation we should not miss. When God has a plan, we may want to "work the plan" a little differently than he has planned it, but there is nothing good which will come from our "meddling" with God's plan.
Does anyone see the irony in this story? David is a mere teenager at the time, revealing much more maturity and common sense than his elder king, Saul. He had more emotional balance, as well. To me, this bespeaks the power of God in a life to "center" it and give it this balance. Saul probably knew God, but David "lived" God. He communed regularly with God, listened to God's teaching, took God's leading. It is one thing to "know", quite another to "live".
The story takes a turn at this point, as Saul is caught off-guard by the maturity of David - his restraint, the level of submission he had for the one many would have labeled as his enemy. Here is where we come to our passage today - Saul's confession of sorts. The observations of Saul are priceless - "You have heaped blessings on me, treated me generously, good has come to me today". David received nothing but evil at the hand of Saul - he returns nothing but goodness, generosity, and blessing. Maybe he had already been taught the lesson Paul taught so many years later, "But if your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him drink; for by so doing you will heap burning coals upon his head." (Romans 12:20 AMP)
David recognized there was a timing and a purpose to all God allowed in his life. We often don't appreciate these two aspects of events as well as we should, do we? We question the timing and we balk at the purpose. Look at what finally spoke to the heart of Saul - wasn't it David's submission to God's timing and his purpose in his life? Saul saw the grace of God manifest in David's life - by his actions of constantly returning to play the soothing songs, and ultimately in sparing the King's life when it was clearly within his hands to have taken it. He recognized something in David which bespeaks the grace of God - generosity, blessing, mercy.
Don't ever be discouraged by the enemies you face - you may just be the instrument of God's grace who will speak into their lives! Just sayin!