The Lord render to every man his righteousness and his faithfulness: for the Lord delivered thee into my hand to day, but I would not stretch forth mine hand against the Lord’s anointed. — 1 Samuel 26:23
One time, our family had the opportunity to observe a glassblower at work. She was shaping a vase, which was mounted on a tube so she could put it into the furnace for heating. Repeatedly she placed the vase in the furnace, then took it out and shaped it by rolling it against newspapers that she held in her gloved hand. The glass was so hot that the newspapers charred.
When the artist was satisfied with the vase, she prepared to remove it from the tube. She said that this was one of the most critical points of the whole process. The vase was heated again and then cooled to a particular temperature. Next she gave a sharp blow at the exact point of the mounting. She told us that sometimes a vase breaks under the sharp blow, and then all her labor is wasted.
Watching the glassblower was an object lesson in how God works on us. He may allow us to be heated in the furnace of affliction — financial problems, stresses, difficult relationships, loss of a loved one — so that we can be shaped as He desires. If God in His infinite wisdom allows a “sharp blow” as a test, we do not want to “shatter” at that moment.
God had been shaping David in the furnace of affliction. He had been running and hiding from Saul for a number of years. At the time of our text, David experienced a sharp blow — a test of his integrity. When he had the opportunity to take his enemy’s life, David did not shatter. He knew that God had appointed Saul to be king and that, in His own time, God would work out every detail. His respect for God’s anointed led David to act honorably.
God can help us behave honorably also when a sharp blow comes to us. We cannot survive in our own strength, but by God’s strength we can be victorious.
Saul had ample warnings to change from his murderous ways. On an earlier occasion, after David had spared his life, he seemed to have repented and had promised to leave David alone, but that resolve was not genuine. Evil had taken root in Saul’s life and was firmly in control of him. With 3,000 men, Saul resumed his hot pursuit of David.
This pursuit of David was encouraged by the tale-bearing Ziphites. They betrayed David’s location to Saul as a means of obtaining favor from him. The Ziphites had two distinct reasons why they should not have done this. They were related to Caleb, one of Israel’s founding spiritual giants, though they shared none of his spiritual valor. Secondly, like David, they were members of the tribe of Judah. They had every reason to be loyal, but they went in the opposite direction, jeopardizing the life of a man of God. Still, the Lord’s hand of protection was on David, and all their efforts were futile.
David had a strategic need to know Saul’s location so he could stay ahead of him. Through his network of spies, David kept abreast of Saul’s exact location and the strength of the army with him. Verse 12 mentions that a “deep sleep from the Lord was fallen upon them.” God’s hand was clearly protecting David.
This was the second distinct time that David had the opportunity to take Saul’s life if he had wanted to do so. The first time is noted in chapter 24 where we see that the locations, David’s companions, the items removed from Saul, and the verbal exchanges between David and Saul were all different.
Abner was the captain of Saul’s army and also his cousin (1 Samuel 14:50). Abishai was David’s nephew. “Sleeping within the trench” means that Saul was in the camp and the baggage and wagons were around the outside.
On this occasion, as in the first, David’s men urged him to take Saul’s life. David’s refusal was based on his reverence for God and the fact that Saul had been appointed by God. David had learned to discern and respect anything that had God’s signature on it, and God had directed Samuel to anoint Saul as king. David knew that even when Saul had forfeited his kingship, respect for God’s appointment was still needed.
Taking Saul’s water jug and spear proved that David had been right beside him, and also that he had no intention of taking Saul’s life. The spear was a king’s symbol of authority. The ensuing dialog between Saul and David was their last.
David knew that in spite of his words, Saul could not be trusted, so he went again to Philistia. The Philistines had five major cities and five co-rulers. Achish was the ruler of Gath, and he allowed David to move to Ziklag. From there, David and his men made guerrilla-type attacks that benefited and helped both the Philistines and the Israelites. It is possible that the group of people with David may have numbered as many as two or three thousand.
(Hannah’s Bible Outlines - Used by permission per WORDsearch)
II. The reign of Saul
B. The decline of King Saul and the rise of David
2. David in exile from Saul
m. His flight in the wilderness of Ziph (26:1-25)
(1) The Ziphites again inform on David (26:1-5)
(2) David again spares Saul (26:6-12)
(3) David’s words to Abner (26:13-16)
(4) David’s words to Saul (26:17-20)
(5) Saul’s reply (26:21-25)
n. His flight to Philistia
(1) His stay in Gath (27:1-4)
(2) His residence at Ziklag (27:5-7)
(3) His deception (27:8-12)
A deep respect for God and His actions and timing can help us stay right in our hearts. God may be working on us today, but He will bring us through if we honor Him.