1 Samuel 24:2 Saul took three thousand able young men from all Israel and set out to look for David.
The king of Israel considered David public enemy number one, and was using his army to track him down. David often hid in caves, but God was his ultimate refuge. The Lord is a refuge for the oppressed (Psalm 9:9). Keep me safe, my God, for in you I take refuge (Psalm 16:1). [M]y God is my rock, in whom I take refuge (Psalm 18:2), he wrote. When we are threatened on every side, God alone can keep us safe.
A soldier was running for his life when he ducked inside a cave that had a very small opening. Then he watched a spider spin its web across it. Minutes later the enemy arrived, but seeing the web, concluded that no one was in the cave. The soldier later wrote these words: With God, a spider’s web is like a wall; without God, a wall is like a spider’s web. God alone is our ultimate refuge.
1 Samuel 24:3 [Saul] came to the sheep pens along the way; a cave was there, and Saul went in to relieve himself.
Saul did not know that David and his men were hiding in the back of the cave. It seemed like God had brought this about so David could kill the one who was trying to kill him. But David refused to kill Saul because he respected Saul’s authority. The Lord forbid that I should do such a thing to my master, the Lord’s anointed, or lay my hand on him; for he is the anointed of the Lord (1 Samuel 24:6), he said.
Since God made Saul the king of Israel, David was determined to submit to his authority until God chose to remove him. This same attitude was taught by the Apostle Paul. Let everyone be subject to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established (Romans 13:1). In a world that despises authorities, Christians should respect them, as though they were appointed by God.
1 Samuel 24:4 Then David crept up unnoticed and cut off a corner of Saul’s robe.
As Saul was relieving himself, David snuck up behind him, and cut off a piece of his clothing. After Saul left the cave (and was far enough away) David called to him saying, Why do you listen when men say, David is bent on harming you? This day you have seen with your own eyes how the Lord delivered you into my hands (1 Samuel 24:9-10).
Then he showed Saul the piece of his robe, and Saul realized that David could have killed him. He was so overcome that he wept aloud and said, You are more righteous than I . . . . You have treated me well, but I have treated you badly . . . . I know that you will surely be king and that the kingdom of Israel will be established in your hands (1 Samuel 24:17-21).
But tears of remorse and regret are not always tears of repentance. Saul appeared to be repentant, but his future actions would show that he was not. Repentance is a change of mind that leads to a change of direction. If Saul had truly repented, he would have given his throne to David, and David would have given him a place of honor. That is how it works for those who believe in Jesus Christ. We give him the throne of our hearts, and he gives us a place of honor in his glorious kingdom. Who could wish for anything more?
1 Samuel 25:2 A certain man in Maon, who had property there at Carmel, was very wealthy. He had a thousand goats and three thousand sheep, which he was shearing in Carmel.
The man’s name was Nabal, and he is described as surly and mean. These are the two words that God used to summarize his character. Not everyone is equally nice, but Nabal was truly awful. For whatever reason, he decided to treat others badly.
This is the opposite of what Christ demands since he taught us to love everyone, even our enemies (Matthew 5:44). And the Lord’s servant must not be quarrelsome but must be kind to everyone (2 Timothy 2:24), wrote Paul. But Nabal was not the Lord’s servant. He was surely and mean.
1 Samuel 25:4 While David was in the wilderness, he heard that Nabal was shearing sheep.
Nabal had thousands of sheep, and their wool was worth a fortune. David and his men had protected the sheep, and also the shepherds, so they had a right to share in Nabal’s abundance. David sent some of his men to ask for a portion, but true to character, Nabal treated them badly. Why should I take my bread and water, and the meat I have slaughtered . . . and give it to men coming from who knows where? (1 Samuel 25:11), he said.
The reason Nabal was surly and mean was because of his love for money–a root of all kinds of evil (1 Timothy 6:10), wrote Paul. People who love money often treat others badly in order to have more money. Nabal was well served by David and his men, but instead of sharing his wealth, he sent them away empty-handed. This would not end well for Nabal.
Reflection and Review
Why is God described as a refuge?
How should Christians view those who are in authority?
What is the difference between regret and repentance?