He approached the oblivious monarch, knife in hand. This was finally his chance to end this madness. But before plunging the blade into his back, the king-to-be paused and realized the man in front of him wasn’t just any old king: this was God’s king.

I wonder what it must have been like to be hunted like wild game by the man you had saved. Without David, Saul’s reign would have ended when Goliath of Gath threatened to make slaves out of the Israelites unless someone defeated him in a one-on-one battle. In modern vernacular, the name Goliath is used to characterize a seemingly unstoppable force or one’s greatest personal struggle. As the shepherd boy with five stones and no armor proved, Goliaths aren’t defeated by normal human means.

After Goliath’s death, Israel enjoyed a steady rise in power. At first Saul gave David his due. However, as David’s popularity increased, Saul started to view the young man as a threat to his throne. One day, after a victorious battle, women began dancing and singing in the streets. “Saul has slain thousands, and David his tens of thousands.”

At first Saul’s plots to put an end to David were subtle. He even used his daughter’s hand in marriage as a method to have David destroyed by the Philistines. But as David’s popularity grew, Saul’s tactics became more overt. After David was nearly hit by a flying spear, he knew it was time to run.

What followed was a tactical game of cat and mouse that pitted Saul and his men against David and his loyal followers. One day, however, the roles were suddenly reversed.

Letting down his guard, Saul slipped into a cave without his bodyguards. Unbeknown to the king, David and his men were already hiding in the crevice. This was David’s chance to end the madness once and for all. But as he snuck up behind Saul, another thought entered his mind. How could I kill the man God Himself had anointed as king over Israel?

David had every reason to kill Saul. First of all, Saul was trying to kill him; that’s self-defense. Furthermore, after being anointed by the prophet Samuel, David was the rightful king of Israel; Saul had blown his chance. And as evidenced by the women fawning over him after battles won, the people clearly would have followed David.

Yet, although David could have easily justified the murder, he merely cut off a piece of Saul’s robe to show the hardened king that he’d mercifully spared his life.

Yes, David would become king. But he wanted it to be on God’s terms, not his.

Let God Make It Happen
I’m struck by the significance of this story found in 1 Samuel 24, especially compared to other “heroes” of the Bible. Take Jacob, for instance. God also promised Jacob a great position. He, not his older brother, would be the leader of their family. But when Jacob became fearful that God was not going to live up to His word, he took matters into his own hands and deceived his father. Although Jacob ultimately succeeded in life, deception followed him at every turn.

Jacob tried to gain his blessing through deception; David waited for God to fulfill His promise.

As humans, our tendency can be to try to run ahead and claim that which, to us, is rightfully ours. But like David, the man after God’s own heart, we are called to humble ourselves and let God do His thing in His time.

“Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time” (1 Peter 5:6).

Has God promised you something? Maybe a new position at work, or that breakthrough for which you’ve been longing. Don’t step out of bounds by trying to directly or subtly fulfill God’s word for Him.

No matter how easy it is to justify taking matters into your own hands, let the One who made the promise be the One who fulfills it.

Jimmy Phillips (jimmyphillips15@gmail.com) writes from Bakersfield, California, where he is electronic media coordinator for San Joaquin Community Hospital. Visit his Web site at introducingthewhy.com. This article was publishced June 13, 2013.


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