Chapter 24 contains another fundamental attitude to possess in following God: if you want to honor God then do what he’s told you to do no matter what others say. We saw the reverse behavior earlier in the book when Saul chose to not obey God concerning the Amalekites.
In our story today Saul entered a cave to “relieve himself” where David and his men were hiding. It seemed to be an opportunity sent from heaven. David’s men insisted that he take advantage of the moment to kill the king and solve everyone’s problems. But David’s response was:
“It would be unthinkable for me to raise my hand against His Majesty, the LORD’s anointed king, since he is the LORD’s anointed.” So David stopped his men by saying this to them and didn’t let them attack Saul. 1 Samuel 24:6,7
Doing the Unthinkable
David said that killing Saul was “unthinkable.” There are certain deeds that are unthinkable. Deeds that should never be considered so that when the “perfect” circumstances develop, the ones that all point to the “obvious” conclusion… so much that you don’t have to think or pray about it… that you will never commit the deed because it is unthinkable. It is unallowable and off limits to you. End of discussion.
We tend to leave our options open. We want everything to be negotiable…just in case. But we would be much better off if we took the time, in advance, to develop a list of “unthinkables:” things we will never do no matter how “perfect” or “obvious” the circumstances are in the moment.
Treating Others Well
As the chapter closes out, Saul comments to David:
“You are more righteous than I. You treated me well while I treated you badly.” 1 Samuel 24:17
You treated me well while I treated you badly. Such a simple principle. That’s what God did with us, right? The apostle Paul said, “While we were yet sinners, Christ died for the ungodly.”
Thomas Merton said:
Our job is to love others without stopping to inquire whether or not they are worthy.
But sinful people like to fight evil with evil. We think that when someone mistreats us, we have the right to wave all decency and stoop to their level; we are no longer obligated to the ethical limits that God has given us. We get a free pass. David knew better.
This story reminds us that choice is the essence of character. Who you are when your circumstances are favorable doesn’t tell us who you really are; it’s when the pressure is on and temptation confronts you full throttle that reveals your true self.
I hope you’ll remember David’s response to Saul as you face your temptations today.
Prayer: Father, help me to stand in the face of temptation like David did. Help me to not waver; justifying what I want, only to regret it later. Help me to prepare in advance for temptation so my choice, and character, are predetermined. Amen.