Good morning! The stories in today’s Daily Bible passage (1 Samuel 24-26) emphasize David’s righteousness as he seeks to follow his calling to leadership in Israel, and yet not overthrow God’s previously anointed king, Saul. These stories about David’s sound, faithful heart both reflect and further establish his reputation as the greatest leader Israel ever had, even in light of his many later flaws.
David has a perfect opportunity to kill Saul in 1 Samuel 24, but he will not seize it. David’s mercy even when he is right behind a solitary and unsuspecting Saul magnifies the difference between the two leaders. Saul fights for himself and chases down the son-in-law he imagines has slighted him, yet David relies on God to fight the battle, choosing instead to “turn the other cheek”. David is even penitent that he cut off part of the king’s robe as a sign of Saul’s vulnerability—that’s how righteous and forbearing David is. David then shows himself to the king and reveals that he spared Saul’s life, trying to convince the man that David has no intention of assassinating God’s anointed. Saul is transformed (for the moment) by the gesture, commends David’s righteousness and declares that David will succeed him as king. He asks for David’s mercy on Saul’s descendants and returns home to Jerusalem. As rarely happens in the Bible, especially in fights between powerful men over the throne, peaceful restraint wins this day.
Yet David is not always so magnanimous—he has an ego streak in him as well. Chapter 26 describes how David was scorned by wealthy Nabal, whose many animals David has responsibly protected and not poached in the wilderness. In revenge David determines to take out all the men of Nabal’s household, but quick-thinking Abigail saves the day. She uses both meek speech and abundant gifts to change David’s intention. Abigail persuades David that he needn’t jump to the defense of his offended pride, and Nabal dies of divine causes within two weeks. Abigail’s valor wins David’s heart, and she consents to marry him. The moral of this story is that leaders need not selfishly seek their own protection or defense; God will protect them and vindicate their honor in due time. All turns out better for David when he sensibly heeds the wisdom of a woman and doesn’t gratify the vengeful instincts of his heart.
1 Samuel 26 gives us yet another story of David’s righteous restraint. He and an associate creep into Saul’s camp of three thousand warriors, but David refuses to strike the sleeping king or the commander of his army. Like the earlier cut of the king’s cloak, David takes the king’s spear and water-jar to show his proximity, but leaves the man unharmed. Once a safe distance away, David calls to awaken the king’s camp and reveal what he has done. Here what Saul said earlier to David in private is declared in the ears of all. Saul admits his fault, declares David blessed and commends his future. Again David escapes and Saul returns to Jerusalem.
There are enough similarities between chapters 24 and 26 to make me wonder if they are variants of the same event that happened in the Wilderness of Ziph. Taken together though, they underline all the more how respectfully David regards the throne and God’s anointed. The story of Abigail’s intervention between the two episodes shows David’s ability to learn from his near-mistakes, a trait he loses later on when the power of the throne goes to his head. Happy reading!
Please join discussion of this passage at the Daily Bible Facebook group, or comment below. The passage for tomorrow is 1 Samuel 27-31. Thanks for reading!