Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Yahweh Judge, Yahweh Avenge

1 Samuel 24:1-22
Yahweh Be Judge
March 9, 2014
Lynchburg, Virginia

         Saul continues his pursuit of David. David’s men encourage David to capitalize and Saul’s mistake as an opportunity born from God. David will not raise his hand against the Lord’s anointed.
         David acknowledges that God provided him the opportunity to kill Saul. But the opportunity was not so that David would kill Saul but rather so that David would reveal himself kingly, granting mercy and not returning evil for evil.
         The only way that David can do this is that he does not allow himself to grow bitter, seeking vengeance. He truly desires Saul to be blessed but Saul will not do that which is right. But David does not take the chance to begin doing wrong. He does right and he lets God deal with Saul.

And it came to pass, when Saul was returned from following the Philistines, that it was told him, saying, Behold, David is in the wilderness of Engedi. 
Engedi is a stronghold in the land of Judah. It is not far from the rock of Masada, a famous stronghold that provided Jews protection after Jerusalem fell in 70 A.D.

2 Then Saul took three thousand chosen men out of all Israel, and went to seek David and his men upon the rocks of the wild goats. 
Saul is now leading a large army after David.
The wild goat mentioned here is an ibex. They still flourish in this area. This fact reveals how treacherous the terrain is.

3 And he came to the sheepcotes by the way, where was a cave; and Saul went in to cover his feet: and David and his men remained in the sides of the cave. 
Saul went in to the cave most likely to take a nap. Some commentators think to cover his feet is a euphemism to mean go to the bathroom.

4 And the men of David said unto him, Behold the day of which the LORD said unto thee, Behold, I will deliver thine enemy into thine hand, that thou mayest do to him as it shall seem good unto thee.
David is egged on by his men to read this situation as God’s providence to kill Saul. He is tempted. David’s men have a good point. Saul is being delivered into David’s hand. Saul has been performing poorly as a king. Samuel has already anointed David. Jonathan has passed on the natural right to replace his father as king and he has placed his stamp of approval on David. Saul, himself, knows that David is to replace him as king. Given all of these arguments, David was likely to agree that this is the opportune moment to take Saul out.

Then David arose, and cut off the skirt of Saul’s robe privily.  5 And it came to pass afterward, that David’s heart smote him, because he had cut off Saul’s skirt.
David is very strong and very determined to do that which is right. This kind of determination can only be accomplished by deciding the issue before there is an opportunity to sin. The arguments for David to kill Saul are strong. In the midst of the temptation, these arguments look even stronger. If David had waited until now to decide what the Lord’s will was, no doubt, he would have sided with his men and killed Saul.
It seems clear that David had already decided that he would not raise his hand against Saul no matter what circumstances arose. He was clear on the Lord’s will and the Lord’s will was that David should not kill Saul.
David would not kill Saul, even if Saul was trying to kill David. David would not kill Saul, even if Saul stumbled into his presence unprotected. David would not kill Saul even if all of David’s men strove to convince him that it was right, that it was God’s will, that it was just. Because David had decided this ahead of time, the temptation to kill Saul was not overpowering. He could resist the temptation precisely because he was not making up his mind in the middle of the temptation what the Lord’s will actually was. He had made up his mind when his mind was clear. All he had to do was to remember what he had already decided.
This is an important point in resisting temptations.
David had such scruples about harming Saul, that he even felt guilty about simply cutting off a piece of his robe. It is true that David can use this fact to show Saul that he had not intended to kill him. The cut robe was proof that David did not want to cut off Saul’s head. However, there is another meaning in a cut robe. The robe is the symbol of power and authority. Saul’s robe was the robe of the king. David felt that he had stolen part of Saul’s authority. This rightly pricked his conscience.

 6 And he said unto his men, The LORD forbid that I should do this thing unto my master, the LORD’S anointed, to stretch forth mine hand against him, seeing he is the anointed of the LORD.  7 So David stayed his servants with these words, and suffered them not to rise against Saul. But Saul rose up out of the cave, and went on his way. 
David refused to raise his hand against Saul. This way, he set a good example for his men for his future administration. If David refused to raise his hand against Saul, then perhaps his men will refuse to raise their hands against him. This remains true for the most part. Unfortunately for David, he did raise as good of sons as Saul did. Saul’s son was faithful to him. David’s sons were not. But David’s men were mostly loyal.
David had some work to do to keep his men from killing Saul. He must threaten them with the wrath of Yahweh. David revealed what it meant to love one’s enemies. David returned a blessing for Saul’s curses.

8 David also arose afterward, and went out of the cave, and cried after Saul, saying, My lord the king. And when Saul looked behind him, David stooped with his face to the earth, and bowed himself.
David let Saul escape then he call him, “My lord, the king.” David has not failed to honor Saul again and again. When Saul looked back at David, David prostrated himself before Saul in an extreme display of humility.

9   And David said to Saul, Wherefore hearest thou men’s words, saying, Behold, David seeketh thy hurt? 
David appeals to Saul to listen to his good reasons of his loyalty over against the voices that are in Saul’s ears. There are men of cunning seeking Saul’s favor that repeatedly lie to Saul about David. They malign David’s character in words but David’s actions speak louder than words.

10 Behold, this day thine eyes have seen how that the LORD had delivered thee to day into mine hand in the cave: and some bade me kill thee: but mine eye spared thee; and I said, I will not put forth mine hand against my lord; for he is the LORD’S anointed. 
David agrees with the fact that God’s Providence had delivered Saul into David’s hand. But David did not take this divine providence as license to kill Saul. On the contrary, he took as Divine Providence to prove to Saul about his true intentions. David is merciful though Saul is not.
David admits that his own men counseled him to kill Saul. Saul could have seized on this as further reason to pursue David. But Saul knew that David’s men had justification for counseling David to take the opportunity. Saul’s wickedness is coming back on his own head.

11 Moreover, my father, see, yea, see the skirt of thy robe in my hand: for in that I cut off the skirt of thy robe, and killed thee not, know thou and see that there is neither evil nor transgression in mine hand, and I have not sinned against thee; yet thou huntest my soul to take it. 
David calls Saul, my father. Saul has proved himself a wicked father, one who seeks the destruction of his own son. But David does not return evil for evil. He continually honors his father, Saul. He appeals to the heart of a father.  This has some temporary restraining effect on Saul.

12 The LORD judge between me and thee, and the LORD avenge me of thee: but mine hand shall not be upon thee.  13 As saith the proverb of the ancients, Wickedness proceedeth from the wicked: but mine hand shall not be upon thee. 
David leaves the outcome up to God. He will not avenge himself but he leaves vengeance up to God. This should have made Saul more afraid of  God than of David. But it seems not to have had this effect. He relents for a time but Saul no longer fears God.
David’s statement places a burden on Saul. Wickedness is not proceeding from David. But there is still wickedness going forth. David’s words are meant to convict Saul and they work.  David is doing the work of a faithful preacher.

14 After whom is the king of Israel come out? after whom dost thou pursue? after a dead dog, after a flea. 
David underestimates his own value. He calls himself a dead dog and a flea. This is not true. David is far from dead and lives to show himself nothing less than a lion. But this statement is instructive of David’s view of himself. In his own eyes, compared to Saul, he is nothing more than a dead dog or a flea. He is inconsequential compared to the king of Israel. This attitude is just the qualification David needs to be king.

15 The LORD therefore be judge, and judge between me and thee, and see, and plead my cause, and deliver me out of thine hand.
David repeats the phrase, Yahweh judge between me and thee. David values himself as a dead dog or a flea. But David’s valuation is not as important as God’s valuation. God will put the value on David and He will defend His treasure.
         David also reveals his great faith. Though Saul is the king and has an army at his disposal, God is much stronger than Saul. This makes David dangerous. He is not afraid of Saul because he knows that God’s will will be done.

16  And it came to pass, when David had made an end of speaking these words unto Saul, that Saul said, Is this thy voice, my son David? And Saul lifted up his voice, and wept. 
Saul is made sorrowful. He can be made to feel remorse and shame. Unfortunately, it does not result in repentance. He relents but does not repent. He stops his evil against David for a brief period of time but Saul’s heart of wickedness is not turned back to God.

17 And he said to David, Thou art more righteous than I: for thou hast rewarded me good, whereas I have rewarded thee evil.  18 And thou hast shewed this day how that thou hast dealt well with me: forasmuch as when the LORD had delivered me into thine hand, thou killedst me not. 
Saul merely repeats what has happened. He does reflect on it to full repentance. He points out that David returns blessing for cursing, whereas Saul rewards good with evil. He acknowledges the fact that David could have killed him but did not.

19 For if a man find his enemy, will he let him go well away? wherefore the LORD reward thee good for that thou hast done unto me this day. 
David is Saul’s enemy but Saul is not David’s enemy. If Saul were David’s enemy, he would have killed him as he killed the Philistines. But David spares Saul, calls him father and bows before him. David shows Saul that he loves and honors him. This is not the behavior of an enemy.
Saul, on the other hand, sees David as an enemy. He is willing to pursue and kill David, no matter what arguments are brought up against the wisdom of doing so. He has an idea in his head and he cannot get it out, “David is my enemy and must be killed.”
Saul speaks a blessing on David but it does not come across as heartfelt. He knows that God will reward David. He is more stating a fact than pronouncing a blessing.

20 And now, behold, I know well that thou shalt surely be king, and that the kingdom of Israel shall be established in thine hand. 
Saul reiterates what Jonathan has said, that David will be established as king. Keep in mind that these facts as presented to Saul by God and admitted before David do not keep Saul from fighting against God. Even after admitting this, Saul still seeks to resist the decree of God. It is a fool’s errand.

21 Swear now therefore unto me by the LORD, that thou wilt not cut off my seed after me, and that thou wilt not destroy my name out of my father’s house.  22 And David sware unto Saul. And Saul went home; but David and his men gat them up unto the hold.
Saul does the unthinkable. In the midst of trying to murder David, he asks David for a blessing. What is more absurd is that David readily grants the request. David grants this blessing but he knows that Saul has not relented. Saul will take the blessing and be glad for God to hold David to his promise. But Saul is unwilling to submit to God. He is a double-minded, two-tongued man. David granted the blessing and then got himself to safety.

No Root of bitterness
Heb. 12:14-17 Follow peace with all men, and holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord:  15 Looking diligently lest any man fail of the grace of God; lest any root of bitterness springing up trouble you, and thereby many be defiled;  16 Lest there be any fornicator, or profane person, as Esau, who for one morsel of meat sold his birthright.  17 For ye know how that afterward, when he would have inherited the blessing, he was rejected: for he found no place of repentance, though he sought it carefully with tears.
The Bible teaches us that God chastises us because He loves us. He disciplines us so that we will love and obey Him. One of the ways He disciplines us is through difficult people and circumstances. In these circumstances, we are tempted to grow bitter. He warns us that this is what happened to Esau. I might add Judas. I might add Saul. These men grew bitter and then ended up denying the Lord that bought them.
The warning for us is clear. Do not be bitter. See the chance to be bitter as an opportunity to love like God loves. David loved his enemy but Saul grew bitter.
Who is in your life that you are tempted to be bitter towards? Did a parent treat you unfairly? Did a schoolfellow spread rumors about you? Did your brother cheat you out of reward? Do you think that God has let you down in some way? There are many reasons one can give for being bitter. It is easy to justify yourself in this because there are real abuses. People really have hurt you. People really have let you down. But what will you do with it? Will you forgive and move on? Or, will you sharpen your memory with rehearsals of the wrongs?
Be like David. Trust that these troubles come from God for your good. Deal with Him and let God deal with those who have troubled you. But as for you, bless and do not curse. Do not let root of bitterness cling to your heart.

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