David Spares Saul Again
26 Then the Ziphites came to Saul at Gibeah, saying, “Is not David hiding himself on the hill of Hachilah, which is on the east of Jeshimon?” So Saul arose and went down to the wilderness of Ziph with three thousand chosen men of Israel to seek David in the wilderness of Ziph. And Saul encamped on the hill of Hachilah, which is beside the road on the east of Jeshimon. But David remained in the wilderness. When he saw that Saul came after him into the wilderness, David sent out spies and learned that Saul had indeed come. Then David rose and came to the place where Saul had encamped. And David saw the place where Saul lay, with Abner the son of Ner, the commander of his army. Saul was lying within the encampment, while the army was encamped around him.
Then David said to Ahimelech the Hittite, and to Joab’s brother Abishai the son of Zeruiah, “Who will go down with me into the camp to Saul?” And Abishai said, “I will go down with you.” So David and Abishai went to the army by night. And there lay Saul sleeping within the encampment, with his spear stuck in the ground at his head, and Abner and the army lay around him. Then Abishai said to David, “God has given your enemy into your hand this day. Now please let me pin him to the earth with one stroke of the spear, and I will not strike him twice.” But David said to Abishai, “Do not destroy him, for who can put out his hand against the LORD’s anointed and be guiltless?” And David said, “As the LORD lives, the LORD will strike him, or his day will come to die, or he will go down into battle and perish. The LORD forbid that I should put out my hand against the LORD’s anointed. But take now the spear that is at his head and the jar of water, and let us go.” So David took the spear and the jar of water from Saul’s head, and they went away. No man saw it or knew it, nor did any awake, for they were all asleep, because a deep sleep from the LORD had fallen upon them.
Then David went over to the other side and stood far off on the top of the hill, with a great space between them. And David called to the army, and to Abner the son of Ner, saying, “Will you not answer, Abner?” Then Abner answered, “Who are you who calls to the king?” And David said to Abner, “Are you not a man? Who is like you in Israel? Why then have you not kept watch over your lord the king? For one of the people came in to destroy the king your lord. This thing that you have done is not good. As the LORD lives, you deserve to die, because you have not kept watch over your lord, the LORD’s anointed. And now see where the king’s spear is and the jar of water that was at his head.”
Saul recognized David’s voice and said, “Is this your voice, my son David?” And David said, “It is my voice, my lord, O king.” And he said, “Why does my lord pursue after his servant? For what have I done? What evil is on my hands? Now therefore let my lord the king hear the words of his servant. If it is the LORD who has stirred you up against me, may he accept an offering, but if it is men, may they be cursed before the LORD, for they have driven me out this day that I should have no share in the heritage of the LORD, saying, ‘Go, serve other gods.’ Now therefore, let not my blood fall to the earth away from the presence of the LORD, for the king of Israel has come out to seek a single flea like one who hunts a partridge in the mountains.”
Then Saul said, “I have sinned. Return, my son David, for I will no more do you harm, because my life was precious in your eyes this day. Behold, I have acted foolishly, and have made a great mistake.” And David answered and said, “Here is the spear, O king! Let one of the young men come over and take it. The LORD rewards every man for his righteousness and his faithfulness, for the LORD gave you into my hand today, and I would not put out my hand against the LORD’s anointed. Behold, as your life was precious this day in my sight, so may my life be precious in the sight of the LORD, and may he deliver me out of all tribulation.” Then Saul said to David, “Blessed be you, my son David! You will do many things and will succeed in them.” So David went his way, and Saul returned to his place.
1 Samuel 26 Commentary
by Hank Workman
Same story, different day.
Let’s see, Saul makes a promise to not pursue David. Saul breaks the promise and takes 3000 men to hunt him down and kill him. God reveals to David of Saul’s whereabouts. David crawls into the camp and takes something of Saul. David lets it be known of how he’s shown grace once again to this madman king and spared his life. Saul says he’s sinned and promises not to do this again.
Same story – different day.
It’s insane when you look at it this way. But Saul is like a bad penny; he just keeps showing up and doing ridiculous things. The hand of God being lifted from him is certainly shown. He’s digging his own grave though among his people at the irrationality of his behavior. But something else is taking place as well. David is showing grace over and over again. No doubt the people of Israel would have heard of these antics of Saul and David’s response. The respect for this future king was continuing to be set among their hearts as Saul’s was diminishing. He consistently did the right thing.
We all have these same scenarios. Many times we face people that are difficult and taxing who come in and out of our lives like the blowing of the wind. All too often it feels like the same story, different day. And it’s frustrating and at times absolutely irritating. But what we are doing is making a statement in our response to the watchers of our lives. This is why it’s so important to be in step with the Spirit of God with every decision and hardship we face. This is why we must rely on His guidance and not our own desire to be free from the situation.
God would deal with Saul in his timing. And it would be a pretty bitter end when all was said and done. David trusted God in the monotony and didn’t deviate from the Word of God when it came to dealing with this situation. God would honor that and He will honor you as you do the same.
1 Samuel 26 Commentary
by Brad Boyles
If there was ever a justifiable moment for David to end Saul’s life, this was it. Saul had repented of his wrongdoing back when David had his first opportunity to kill Saul in 1 Samuel 24. That repentance has proven to be false, or short-lived at best. Once again David finds Saul in a vulnerable position. However, this time is even more tempting given the circumstances of how Saul is sleeping.
The spear he thrust at David several chapters back is planted in the ground right next to Saul’s head. Abishai not only points out the spear but formulates an arrangement convenient for David. He offers to put the spear through Saul’s head himself. For David, the timing seemed perfect. Saul was unrepentant and had proven he was not interested in following the Lord. He was in a deep sleep and completely vulnerable to a clean strike. David doesn’t even have to pull to trigger. All he had to do was give the command for Abishai to end Saul’s life. He could just say he didn’t kill Saul since he wasn’t actually the one to do it.
Have you ever justified a decision that goes against your convictions? I have. I would bet if we’re honest, we all have.
David could have murdered Saul and a large percentage of his friends and acquaintances would have approved. In God’s Kingdom, does a majority approval justify a decision? David could have murdered Saul because he deserved it. In God’s Kingdom, does the fact that someone has earned judgment mean we are the people to execute it? David could have even threatened Saul, holding the spear to his neck and making him vow to never chase him again. Why didn’t he? Because in God’s Kingdom, his servants obey.
David had a conviction. Whether that message came directly from the Lord or it was simply obedience to the law makes no difference. God had placed in David’s heart a line that was not to be crossed. So, in a situation where it looked like God was actually handing Saul over, David stood firm on his conviction. This kind of radical obedience is a direct contrast to the way Saul behaved for much of his life. Just chapters prior, Saul believed that when David was trapped, the Lord had “handed him over” to be killed.
We must be careful of fake spiritualization. Stamping the Lord’s Name on a decision, any decision, without the Holy Spirit’s approval (personally or through the Word) is incredibly dangerous ground. Stamping His Name on a decision that violates His Will already spoken in the Scriptures is willingly sinful.
I will throw out one more point for consideration. The young Abishai learned an incredible lesson that day. He saw the tangible Kingdom of God worked out in the attitude and behavior of David. He saw love and grace conquer sin and vengeance. Who are those that are watching our behavior and being drawn toward the Kingdom of God?
“We are not at liberty to cast ourselves down from the mountain, unless it is clearly God’s will. In David’s case, there was sufficient reason for this adventure; first, that Saul might be warned once more; and second, that the integrity of the young outlaw might be established.”F.B. Meyer
David illustrates incredible discernment and obedience, but it was not because he was following the rules. David obeyed because he loved God. Saul demonstrated his lack of love for God. That is what many fail to understand.