Please Note: Due to problems with the recorder, this lesson does not have an audio file.
In our last lesson we left David in the cave of Adullam in 1 Samuel 22. David is running for his life as Saul is trying to find David and kill him. In the cave, David’s family comes to him as well as about 400 other men who were desperate, in debt, or discontent. David is moving through the wilderness, never staying in one place, trying to avoid capture from Saul’s men. Notice in 1 Samuel 24 how serious Saul is in trying to find David. “So Saul took 3000 of Israel’s choice men and went to look for David and his men…” (24:2).
An interesting situation arises. Saul needs to go to the bathroom and so he enters a cave, since they are in the wilderness looking for David. But Saul happens to enter the cave where David and his men are hiding. Now the text literally says that Saul was “covering his feet.” Obviously, this is an opportunity for David to get rid of this threat. David’s men tell him, “Look, this is the day the Lord told you about: ‘I will hand your enemy over to you so you can do to him whatever you desire.'” So David gets up and secretly cuts off the corner of Saul’s robe, which has likely been set aside while Saul is going to the bathroom. Now, what would you do to the person who had been trying to kill you, though you were innocent? Would you listen to your men who tell you this is God giving you an opportunity to get rid of evil Saul? Can you believe that David’s conscience bothers him after cutting Saul’s robe and he tells his men not to raise their hands against Saul! David cannot raise his hand against the Lord’s anointed. David now confronts Saul, which we will read in verses 8-22.
David makes his plea to Saul that he has no intention of killing Saul. Proof is the corner of his robe, where David could have killed Saul. With this Saul realizes that David has returned good toward him for the evil that he was intending for David. David also swears to Saul that he will not destroy Saul’s descendants once David becomes king over Israel.
Now we would like to think that everything now is well and good and everyone lived happily ever after. Unfortunately, this is not the case. Not long after this we read about Saul coming after David again, which is recorded in 1 Samuel 26. Saul is searching for David with 3000 men again. One night, Saul is sleeping inside the inner circle of the camp with his spear next to his head. Abishai tells David that the Lord had given Saul into his hands. “Let me thrust the spear through him into the ground just once. I won’t have to strike him twice!” (26:8). Now, Saul is a liar. Saul said that he would no longer chase after David, but now David is on the run again. Would you now take the opportunity to kill Saul, who has gone back on his word? Again, you are innocent and you are the next anointed king. You have been driven out of Israel. You are living in caves. You are on the run for your life as a fugitive king. What would you do here?
But David will not strike down the Lord’s anointed even though Saul is trying to kill him. David takes Saul’s spear and water jug, which were by Saul’s head, instead. Once they sneak out of the camp, they call out to Saul’s captain, Abner. David tells Abner that he has failed in protecting the Lord’s anointed. Saul recognizes that David has spared his life again and tells David that he will no longer seek after his life.
A Person After God’s Own Heart
Could we do this? I strongly believe that this is one of the characteristics that leads to God declaring David to be a person after God’s own heart. Who are you willing to impart grace to? I dare say that we would not impart grace to any person who treated us in the manner that Saul treated David. Perhaps we could extend grace to a family member. We have difficulty extending grace to our friends for minor offenses. We blow out family members and friends over petty issues. It is hard to think that we would extend grace to those who give us grief. Even worse, would we extend grace to those who are multiple offenders? Saul repeatedly came after David’s life. However, David would not raise his hand against the Lord’s anointed.
Look how gracious David is toward Saul! It is not just simply that David does not kill Saul. Read again 1 Samuel 24:8: Afterward David also arose and went out of the cave, and called after Saul, “My lord the king!” And when Saul looked behind him, David bowed with his face to the earth and paid homage. David continues to treat Saul as the king. David offers Saul honorable words. David also pays homage by bowing down before Saul.
We also see that David never reacted against Saul. David did not do something out the heat of the moment. David did not act out of anger. David did not allow himself to be carried away by his emotions. David was not going to take matters into his own hands, but left things in God’s hands. Notice again 1 Samuel 26:10: As the LORD lives, the LORD will certainly strike him down: either his day will come and he will die, or he will go into battle and perish. However, because of the LORD, I will never lift my hand against the LORD’S anointed. This is a great statement of trust in the Lord to take care of the matter in David’s life. David makes this point to Saul also in 1 Samuel 24:15: May the LORD therefore be judge and give sentence between me and you, and see to it and plead my cause and deliver me from your hand.
David showed grace by (1) not killing Saul, (2) showing honor to Saul, and (3) never reacting against Saul.
Our Call To Gracious Living
We are called to exhibit gracious living toward others as David did toward Saul. For this is a gracious thing, when, mindful of God, one endures sorrows while suffering unjustly. For what credit is it if, when you sin and are beaten for it, you endure? But if when you do good and suffer for it you endure, this is a gracious thing in the sight of God. (1 Peter 2:19-20; ESV)
Notice that gracious living is doing good while enduring suffering. The reason we do not want to do this is because what we are receiving is undeserved. We are being mistreated and this person does not deserve our kindness. But this is the very definition of grace. Grace is showing kindness and favor toward someone who does not deserve that goodness. This is exactly the point that Peter is making. It is grace exhibited when we endure sorrows while suffering unjustly. It is grace on display when we do good while suffering for it.
This gracious living is described in detail by Paul in Romans 12:17-21:
Repay no one evil for evil, but give thought to do what is honorable in the sight of all. If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all. Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.” To the contrary, “if your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink; for by so doing you will heap burning coals on his head.” Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good. (ESV)
See how grace is pictured as doing good rather than repaying evil! Grace is not reactionary. Grace does not explode on another person, even when we think we are being treated badly. Gracious living hangs upon the knowledge that God is going to judge and repay. When someone does evil toward you, respond with a righteous act. What a different world this would be if we would do good for every evil act that was done against us. This is the example of Jesus who responded with good for evil acts done against him.
Consider also that gracious living also includes gracious speech. Let your speech always be with grace, as though seasoned with salt, so that you will know how you should respond to each person (Colossians 4:6). Now we may have a better idea what it means for our speech to always be with grace. Gracious speech is how we are to respond to each person. We are not simply gracious in our words with people who are gracious in their words to us. We have to remain calm and speak good even while others are speaking evil.
How To Be Gracious
- Realize that grace is not about pretending the fault did not take place or ignoring sin. Gracious living does not mean that the offense did not occur against us. In fact, we are commanded to go to a person when someone sins against us. The scriptures we read earlier did not instruct us to pretend that the sorrows did not happen. Rather, Peter admits that we are enduring sorrows and are suffering. Therefore, forgiveness and grace is not about pretending like the offenses did not happen. God never declares that he acts like our sins never happened. Our offenses did happen and that is why we need a Savior. God is not simply ignoring our transgressions like an unjust judge. Wrong has been committed. The question is what are we going to do about it.
- Grace does not negate the natural consequences for actions. I think this is often misunderstood when we talk about grace and forgiveness. Just because I have obtained the grace of God does not mean that I will not endure the natural consequences for my sins. If I commit adultery against my wife, I may receive grace from God and be forgiven, but that does not mean that she will not divorce me because of my actions. God may forgive me for drinking, but that does not mean I will not suffer from alcoholism. Our decisions carry natural consequences that will not be avoided even though we find grace.
- Grace is to move on and not think about the offense any longer. I want to see how this fits in with the previous two points. Gracious living is not pretending that someone did not harm us. God does not pretend that we did not sin. We did sin. Gracious living does not negate the natural consequences. But gracious living does mean that we do not dwell on the offense and we move forward. God does not dwell on our sin, but we move forward in our relationship with Him. Similarly, I have used this example many times. If you steal my wallet, I can be gracious to you. But I am going to hide my valuables next time you are at my house. I am living graciously because I did not steal your wallet. I am living graciously because I am not exacting retribution against you. I am having you in my house again. But the natural consequence is not removed and I am going to hide my wallet next time. If you say something hurtful, the relationship is damaged. That is not going to change. Gracious living is not speaking hurtful things back or slandering. Gracious living does not retaliate or react. We are simply going to move on. I am not going to be consumed by wrath or bitterness.
David did not pretend what Saul did had not happened. Rather, he acted graciously. David also realized that Saul was going to reap what he was sowing with his actions. But he still showed Saul honor. David still did not kill Saul.
A concept we must always keep in mind is that we have been given grace from God. Therefore, we need to give grace to others. God has been gracious to us, and we must be gracious to others. Be gracious in our actions and be gracious in our speech. Do a good thing to the person who causes you harm. You will really throw the person off and you will be pleasing to the Lord in doing so.