Let’s turn now in our Bibles to I Samuel, chapter 22, as we follow David in his flight from Saul. In chapter 21, David had fled to the Philistine king of Achish, who was king over the city of Gath (one of the five major Philistine cities). David, perhaps, thought that he would not be recognized or known. But some of the people came to the king and said, “Isn’t this the David of whom the women sing: he has killed his tens of thousands?” And so, David, realizing that he had been recognized, feigned madness. He began to scream incoherently, began to act like he was trying to climb up the walls, began to just spit and let it run down his beard so that the king said, “What have I to do with a mad man? Get him out of here;” and figured that David was insane. And so, David escaped from Gath and from the presence of king Achish.
David therefore departed from there, [that is, from Gath and from king Achish] and he escaped to the cave Adullam: and when his brethren and all of his father’s house heard it, they went down there to him.
Adullam is in the valley of Elah, upwards from the area where David killed the giant. It is between Gath and Bethlehem. And so, he’s not far from Bethlehem. His father, his family, come there to the cave Adullam to meet David. At this point, Saul is irrational. And his anger, totally unprovoked against David, could at any time spread beyond David to his family. And so David’s family gather with him.
Now also at this time, Bethlehem was occupied by the Philistines. So Saul was beginning to lose it all around. The Philistines were moving in to areas of the kingdom.
You remember, shortly after this, that one of David’s cousins broke through the ranks of the Philistines into the city of Bethlehem to get David a drink of water because he expressed his desire, “Oh if I could only have a drink of water from the well at Bethlehem.” And so, some of his cousins, brave kind of guys, broke through the ranks of the Philistines to get David a drink of water out of the well there in Bethlehem. And, of course, David, you remember, poured it out on the ground and said, ‘hey, I can’t drink this water: it was too costly. It cost some Philistines their lives, and you guys put your lives in jeopardy.’ So he gave it to the LORD: ‘This is too great for me to drink, LORD: [you have it.]’
So, probably to escape from the Philistines, and also because their lives were threatened by Saul, his family: his father’s house, his mom and dad, his brothers, his uncles, cousins — came to him there in the cave of Adullam.
And every one that was in distress, every one that was in debt, and every one that was discontented, gathered themselves unto him; and he became a captain over them: and there were with him about four hundred men.
So, there began to gather around David a group of men that ultimately would become David’s mighty men. Men that would ultimately share the kingdom with David. Interesting, these men were, first of all, “distressed, they were in debt, and they were discontent.” The LORD, today, is gathering men around Him. Men who, for the most part, are distressed with the conditions of the world in which they live. And I’ll tell you, as I look around, I’m distressed at what I see. Newspapers distress me, TV news broadcasts distress me, news magazines distress me. I read them, but they distress me. (You know, you can’t just put your head in the sand and hope that everything will go away: you’ve got to be knowledgeable.) But my! What pain. We are living in distressful times, or, in extremely stressful times that cause distress.
“Those that were in debt:” recognizing my debt to the LORD. Oh, how I owe Him. I owe Him my life. One time David wrote, “Let all of Israel say, if it were not for the LORD, we would have been totally swallowed up by our enemies.” If it were not for the LORD, I don’t know where I would be tonight. Surely I would be totally lost: hopeless, if I existed at all. I owe everything to Him.
“Those that were in debt, and those that were discontent
Saul was a tyrant, Saul had become a madman: moods of deep melancholy, vicious temper. He was getting dangerous. His tyranny was such as he was beginning to destroy the innocent. And so, those that were really upset with the way the kingdom was going, they gathered to David and they began to form this core group that would one day reign with David when he took over the kingdom. Even as Jesus has gathered together His core group, who one day will reign with Him over the kingdom when He sits upon the throne of David and rules the world.
David went from Adullam the cave there to Mizpeh of Moab: [now, this is across the area of the great African, Syro-African rift: the dead sea area] to Moab [on the other side:] and he said to the king of Moab, Let my father and my mother, I pray thee, come forth, and be with you, till I know what God will do for me.
David’s future was uncertain. He did not want to expose his mother and father, who were probably at this point, quite elderly; he did not want to expose them to the hazards that he knew he was going to be facing as he was going to be living a very rugged life there in the wilderness, running from Saul, seeking to hide and to escape from Saul. And so he came to the king of Moab. Now, the fact that his great grandmother was a Moabite probably helped in the relationship. And he came to the king, and asked him to ‘please take care of his mom and dad, let them live there in peace and safety of Moab, away from Saul,’ until David found out just what God’s will was for him, what God was going to do.
And he brought them before the king of Moab: and they dwelt with him all of the while that David was in the hold. [Or, in the area of the wilderness, fleeing from Saul.] And the prophet Gad said unto David, Don’t abide in the hold; depart, and get into the land of Judah. Then David departed, and came into the forest of Hareth. [And this is the area that was just east of Hebron, and a wilderness area where David camped with his men.] And when Saul heard that David was discovered, and the men that were with him, (now Saul was staying in Gibeah under a tree in Ramah, having his spear in his hand, and all of his servants were standing around him;) when Saul said unto his servants that stood about him, Hear now, ye Benjamites; will the son of Jesse give every one of you fields and vineyards, and make all of you captains of thousands, and captains of hundreds; all of you have conspired against me, there is none that shows me that my son has made a league with the son of Jesse,–
Evidently, Saul found out the bond that existed, and he knew of the bond that existed between Jonathan and David. He accused Jonathan of this love for David. Remember last week, he tried to kill his own son, Jonathan, when Jonathan spoke up for David. Now he is accusing all of these men around him. He’s there with his men, they’re standing around him, and in his madness he begins to accuse all of them of a conspiracy against him.
Now, he had, no doubt, begun to show favoritism to the Benjamites, for he himself was of the tribe of Benjamin. And so, David, being from the tribe of Judah: he is saying, ‘Look, if the throne goes from Benjamin to Judah, you Benjamites aren’t going to be able to have all of the perks, and the things I’ve been doing for you. They won’t give you the vineyards, they won’t make you the captains.’ And so, he was definitely showing favoritism towards his own tribe, the tribe of Benjamin. Which, of course, would alienate the other tribes from him. And so he accuses them all of conspiracy: “You haven’t told me that even my own son is in league with David.”
And there is none of you that is sorry for me, or shows to me that my son has stirred up my servant against me, to lie in wait, as at this day? [So, he is accusing Jonathan, actually, of stirring up David to kill him. And, ‘You don’t feel sorry for me.’ And he’s just putting on this sad scene.] Then Doeg the Edomite, who was over [the herdsmen] the servants of Saul, said, I saw the son of Jesse coming to Nob, to Ahimelech the son of Ahitub. And he inquired of the LORD for him, and gave him victuals, and gave him the sword of Goliath the Philistine. Then the king sent to call Ahimelech the priest, the son of Ahitub, and all of his father’s house, the priests that were there in Nob: and they came all of them to the king. And Saul said, Hear now, thou son of Ahitub. And he answered, Here I am, my lord. [Ahitub was, of course, the son of Eli the priest. And so the line of Eli is about to be cut off.] Saul said unto him, Why have you conspired against me, with the son of Jesse, and you have given him bread, and a sword, and have inquired of God for him, that he should rise against me, to lie in wait, as at this day?
Now, Saul was paranoid: he thought that David was out to kill him. Someone said, ‘Well, you know, David’s going to get you, man.’ And he really felt that David was out to kill him, and he became very paranoid about this. And you remember that when David was fleeing from Saul, he came to Ahimelech and asked for the bread, the shewbread, he took it for himself and his men. He said, “Do you have a sword here?” He said, “The only sword I have is [Goliath’s].” David says, “That’s a great one: I’ll take that.” And he took the sword of Goliath. Well, this guy Doeg, was there. He saw David. Now Doeg is telling Saul what Ahimelech had done for David.
Nob was only about three miles from Ramah. So, he sent over to bring Ahimelech, ‘Come on over here.’ And he is now accusing Ahimelech of being in a conspiracy with David to get his life.
Ahimelech said to him, Who is so faithful among all of your servants as David, who is your own son in law, and who goes at your bidding, and is honorable in your house? [“You don’t have, Saul, a more faithful servant than David. You don’t have a more honorable man. David is obedient, he is loyal.” And Ahimelech is standing up for David. He said,] Did I then begin to inquire of God for him? be it far from me: don’t let the king impute unto me things that are false, nor to the house of my father: for I didn’t know anything about this, any less or more. [“I mean, I don’t know anything about it. I don’t know what you’re talking about, man. I’m not in any conspiracy: and David surely is one of the most faithful, honorable men in your whole house.”] And the king said, [in his madness and in his rage] You will surely die, Ahimelech, you, and all of your father’s house. And the king said to the footmen [that is, his bodyguards that were standing with him] —
Now the bodyguards, they were called footmen, because whenever the king would go in his chariot, these guys would run alongside the chariot. So these guys were really marathon men, they were in tremendous shape because they would run for miles alongside of the king’s chariot. But they were the secret service, they were the bodyguards. They were there to protect the king. So he turned to these footmen, and he ordered them to kill the priests of the LORD, because he said, ‘Their hand is with David. And because they knew when he fled, and they didn’t show it to me.’ But these men were afraid to put their hand against the priest of God.
So the king said to Doeg, Turn thou, and fall on the priests. And Doeg the Edomite turned, and fell upon the priests, and killed that day eighty five persons that wore the linen ephod. [And the linen ephod, of course, was the sign of the priesthood.] And Nob, the city of the priests, he smote with the edge of the sword, both men and women, children and nursing children, the oxen, the asses, the sheep, with the edge of the sword. [He went and just wiped out the city of Nob, the priestly city; all the families, all of the wives, the children, the babies: he killed them all, with their animals. Vicious, heartless, insane: such the condition of Saul at this point.] The sons of Ahimelech the son of Ahitub, named Abiathar, he only escaped, and he fled after David. And Abiathar shewed David that Saul had slain the LORD’s priests. And David said unto Abiathar, I knew it that day, when Doeg the Edomite was there, that he would surely tell Saul: and now I have occasioned the death of all the persons of your father’s house. Stay with me, don’t be afraid: for the one that is seeking my life is seeking your life: but with me you will be safe.
So, one of the boys escaped, Abiathar: came to David, reported what Saul had done, and David’s sensitive conscience: he took the blame for it. He said, “I knew it that day, when I saw Doeg there, that he would surely tell Saul: and now I’m responsible for the death.” So, ‘hey, stick with me: you’ll be safe because the guy that’s looking to kill me is looking to kill you.’ So, ‘stay with us, and we’ll hang together.’ Matter of speech.
Then they told David, saying, Behold, the Philistines are fighting against Keilah, and they are robbing the threshingfloors.
Now, during the time of harvest, they would harvest the grain, the threshingfloors, on a flat rock; and usually on a hillside or down a valley where there was a draw so that the wind would draw down the valley. They needed the wind for the threshing because they had these flat boards with these stones embedded in them, and they would rub those over the grain, or they would walk on the grain, or trample it to knock the husk off. And then they would throw the grain in the air, and as they would throw the grain in the air, the gust of breeze, the wind; [they would wait for the wind to really blow], they would throw the grain up in the air, and the husk would blow away, and the grain would fall back down on the flat rock. And then they would keep the grain in piles, there around the flat rock, until they had finished threshing, and then they would put it in their barns, wherever they would keep their grains: in the silos. Now, while it was being stacked in these piles, it was unprotected there in the threshingfloors. And that’s when the Philistines chose to attack them, and to rip off these beautiful piles of grain that had just been threshed. And so they came, and they began to harass the people of Keilah, and robbed them from their threshingfloors.
And David therefore Inquired of the LORD, saying, Shall I go and smite these Philistines?
Now, Keilah was only about 4 miles from the cave of Adullam where David was hiding. And so it was just a short distance away. He got word that the Philistines are down there harassing the people, and David inquired of the LORD; probably through Abiathar, because when Abiathar came, he brought the ephod with him: the instrument by which the Urim and the Thummim, the instruments by which they sought the wisdom of God. And so, David had the priest with him, and he inquired of the LORD, no doubt, through Abiathar, “Shall I go down and smite the Philistines?”
And the LORD said unto David, Go, and smite the Philistines, and save Keilah. And so David told his men. [That they were to go and smite them.] And David’s men said to him, [verse 3] Behold, we’re afraid here in Judah: how much more then if we come to Keilah against the armies of the Philistines? [‘Hey man, we’re not ready for this. We’re hiding from Saul; we’re afraid here in Judah. We’re not ready to tackle those Philistines, to go into the Philistine country.] So David inquired of the LORD again. [‘LORD, are you really sure?’] And the LORD answered him and said, Arise, go down to Keilah; for I will deliver the Philistines into your hand. So David and his men went to Keilah, fought with the Philistines, and they recaptured the cattle, and they smote them with a great slaughter. So David saved the inhabitants of Keilah. It came to pass, when Abiathar the son of Ahimelech fled to David to Keilah, that he came down with the ephod in his hand. And so it was told Saul that David was come to Keilah. And Saul said, God has delivered him into my hand; for now he is shut in, by entering into a town that has gates and bars. [‘Now I can capture him. God has delivered him into my hands. He’s in a city with gates and bars, and thus, I can capture David now.’] So Saul called all of the people together to war, to go down to Keilah, to siege it [to set a siege against it] and against David and his men. And David knew that Saul secretly practiced mischief against him; and he said to Abiathar the priest, Bring hither the ephod. And David said, O LORD God of Israel, your servant has certainly heard that Saul seeks to come to Keilah, to destroy the city for my sake. Will the men of Keilah deliver me up into his hand? will Saul come down, as your servant has heard? O LORD God of Israel, I beseech thee, [‘I beg thee’] tell thy servant. And the LORD said, He will come down. And David said, Will the men of Keilah deliver me and my men into the hand of Saul? And the LORD said, They will deliver thee.
It is interesting, that if you had been the one who had delivered the people, the inhabitants of the city, from their enemy who was harassing them, you would think, “Well, surely the people will appreciate what I have done and they will help protect me.” It is quite possible that you would think, ‘There’s no need to even pray about this. It’s quite obvious what the answer is; I don’t have to ask the LORD about this situation.’ And you know, that’s always a dangerous assumption to make. It’s always wise to seek the council of God even when things seem to be quite obvious. The Bible says, “If in all of your ways you acknowledge him, he will direct your paths.” But you got to seek, you have got to acknowledge. And it is always dangerous when we presume the answer and we don’t seek the guidance and the wisdom of God. David could easily have assumed that ‘these people are so appreciative, they’ll help me.’ And so he is begging God: ‘Well, my life is on the line, God. Answer me, please, answer me on this issue. Is Saul really coming here?’ The LORD said, “Yes, Saul is coming.” ‘Well, LORD, will these men then turn me over?’ “Yes, they will.” And so he was guided by the LORD; God gave him the answers he needed. And as the result, David was able to escape from the hand of Saul.
David and his men, which were now about six hundred, —
Remember, back in the last chapter, verse 2, there was only 400. The ranks of David are growing rapidly, his popularity is increasing. There’s more people who are distressed, in debt, and discontent; and they’re gathering together as David’s popularity and army begins to grow.
And he went whithersoever they could go. And it was told Saul that David had escaped from Keilah; and so Saul called off the attack. And David stayed in the wilderness in the strong holds, and he remained in the mountain in the wilderness of Ziph. [Which is in the area, again, eastward from Hebron towards the dead sea: a very barren area.] And Saul sought him every day, but God did not deliver David into Saul’s hand. And when David saw that Saul was come out to seek his life: and he was in the wilderness of Ziph in a wood. Jonathan Saul’s son arose, and went to David into the wood, and strengthened his hand in God. [So Jonathan heard that David was there, and Jonathan slipped out and came to David.] And he said to David, Fear not: for the hand of Saul my father shall not find you; and you shall be king over Israel, and I shall be next unto thee; and that also Saul my father knows.
By this time, Saul had figured things out. God had said to Saul through the prophet Samuel, ‘Because you have rejected God from reigning over you, God has rejected you from reigning over his people. He’s going to take the kingdom from you and give it to a man who he pleases. A man of his choice.’ Saul knew that his days were numbered as king. God had ordained another man, and by now he had figured out, ‘David’s the man.’ And that is why he’s intending to kill David, he’s trying to thwart the plan of God. He’s trying to keep God’s plan from being inaugurated, actually. By killing David, he figures he can maybe hold on to the throne. Jonathan, though he is the son of Saul– and if the kingdom then went to the family, would have been the heir apparent to the throne, –realizes that David is to be the king. And Jonathan is saying, ‘David, I’ll be next to you.’ He is advocating his position willingly to David because of the love that these fellows have for each other.
And so the two of them made the covenant before the LORD: and David remained there in the wood, and Jonathan went back to his house. And then came up the Ziphites to Saul to Gibeah, and they said, Does not David hide himself with us in the strong holds in the wood, in the hill of Hachilah, which is on the south of Jeshimon? [And so, they are telling Saul where David is. Rats.] Now therefore, O king, come down according to all the desire of your soul to come down; and our part shall be to deliver him into the king’s hand. [‘Come on down, we’ll deliver him- king, into your hand.’] And Saul [this hypocrite] said, Blessed be ye of the LORD; [not so. If you listen to David’s prayers: ‘LORD, cut off their noses. Wipe them out, LORD: those that hate me without a cause.’] Blessed be ye of the LORD; for you have had compassion on me. [Sick, sick.] Go, I pray you, prepare yet, and know and see his place where his haunt is, and who has seen him there: for it is told me that he is a very subtle man. [You know, ‘he’s clever. So, spy him out now.’] Therefore, take knowledge of all of the lurking places where he hides himself, and come again to me with certainty, and I will go with you: and it shall come to pass, if he be in the land, that I will search him out throughout all the thousands of Judah. So they arose, and went to Ziph before Saul: but David and his men were in the wilderness of Maon, [so David had already moved on to a little bit further south into the area of Maon] in the plain that is south of Jeshimon. And Saul also and his men went to seek him. And they told David: wherefore he came down into a rock, and he abode in the wilderness of Maon. And when Saul heard that, he pursued after David in the wilderness of Maon. And Saul went on this side of the mountain, and David and his men on that side of the mountain: and David made haste to get away for the fear of Saul; for Saul and his men had encircled David and his men round about to take them.
Now, in this area where David was hiding: was this steep, steep ravine that you just couldn’t get across. The only way to get to David–here was Saul, they probably were in sight of each other, Saul on this mountain, David on this mountain –but between them, this steep, deep ravine, and the only way Saul could get there would be to go around the ravine one way or the other; which would, of course, give David time to escape. So, what Saul was doing was breaking his troops into two companies to go around both sides and to encircle David. And David was in a trap. Saul had pretty much circled him in at this point.
But there came a messenger unto Saul, saying, Hurry, come; for the Philistines have invaded the land. Wherefore Saul returned from pursuing David, and went against the Philistines: therefore they called the place [the cliff of division.] And David went from there, and he dwelt in the strong holds in Engedi.
Now he’s heading on down toward the dead sea in that wilderness area of Engedi. But David was providentially saved by God by the attack of the Philistines, and Saul had to go. Saul had him trapped, and then Saul had to leave him in order to protect the people from the Philistines.
So it came to pass, when Saul was returned from following the Philistines, it was told him, saying, Behold, David is in the wilderness of Engedi. Then Saul took three thousand chosen men out of all of Israel, and went to seek David and his men upon the rocks of the wild goats. And he came to the sheepcotes by the way, where was a cave; and Saul went in to cover his feet: [that is, to go to sleep, to take a nap] and David and his men remained in the sides of the cave.
Now, David and his men were hiding in this cave and Saul came to that very cave and went in to rest, to sleep. Now, those caves, looking into them, it is pitch black. You come out of the sun and into those caves, and it’s just pitch black so that you can’t see five feet ahead of you trying to look into the cave. But inside of the cave, where you are in the dark and your eyes are accustomed to the darkness, looking out, you can see anything that’s going on. So, here were David and his men perched back in the cave, and who should come into the cave, but Saul? And he lies down, and he goes to sleep.
And the men of David said unto him, Behold the day which the LORD said to you, That, I will deliver your enemy into your hand, that you may do to him as what seems good to you. [‘Hey David, this is it man. God’s placed him in your hand so you can wipe him out.’] So David arose, [at the instigating and the encouragement of the men] and he cut off the skirt of Saul’s robe privately. [He just carefully cut off the skirt of Saul’s robe.] And it came to pass afterwards, that David got convicted, [‘I shouldn’t have done that, that’s not right’] because he had cut off Saul’s skirt. [He’s sensitive. He’s got a sensitive conscience, and got convicted for it.] And he said unto his men, The LORD forbid that I should do this thing unto my master, the LORD’s anointed, to stretch forth my hand against him, seeing he is the anointed of the LORD.
David had tremendous respect for Saul even though the anointing of God had departed from Saul. God had ordained that David be anointed king: Samuel had come with the anointing oil, anointed David; and yet, the fact that this man had once had the anointing of God upon his life, David would not touch him. Tremendous respect for the anointing of God.
So David stayed his servants with these words, [and the word in the Hebrew is quite strong: he actually “restrained, and with difficulty, he restrained” his servants. They wanted to wipe Saul out, but he would not allow them to rise against Saul. They were ready to do Saul in right there.] But Saul rose up out of the cave, and went on his way. So David also arose afterward, and he went out of the cave, and he cried after Saul, saying, My lord the king. And when Saul looked behind him, David stooped with his face to the earth, and bowed himself. [And so, here’s David, still respecting and honoring Saul: calling him, “my lord the king,” and then doing obeisance, bowing himself before him.] And David said to Saul, Why have you listened to men’s words, who say, Behold, David is seeking to hurt you? Behold, this day your eyes have seen how the LORD delivered you today into my hand in the cave: and some of those that were with me were urging me to kill you: but my eyes spared you; and I said, I will not put forth my hand against my lord; for he is the LORD’s anointed. Moreover, my father, [and calling Saul, respectfully, his father. Not ‘father in law,’ but a term of respect: ‘I am the son, I am inferior; you are the elder, my father.’] see, yes, see the skirt of your robe in my hand: for in that I cut off your skirt of your robe, I did not kill you, know this and see that there is neither evil nor transgression in my hand, I have not sinned against you; and yet you are hunting my soul to take it. [‘You’re trying to kill me.’] The LORD then judge between me and you, and the LORD avenge me of thee: but my hand shall not be upon thee.
Here is tremendous wisdom on David’s part, and it shows the spiritual character of David: ‘I’m not going to touch you; if God wants to do it, that’s His business, but I’m not going to take God’s business into my hands. The LORD judge between us. If the LORD wants to smite you, that’s His business, but I’m not going to smite you.’
And David was willing to wait for God’s purposes to be worked out by God. It’s a lesson that we often stumble at: understanding and knowing the purposes of God. I feel that it is my duty to plunge in and help God do His business. “Doesn’t God want this done?” ‘Of course he does.’ “Then let’s get in and help God out, because, how can He do it without our help,” you know?
And so we find that this mistake was made by Abraham: ‘doesn’t God want Abraham to have a son?’ Of course he does. ‘Well, then take Hagar, the handmaid of Sarai and have a son. Help God out, Abraham, because it’s obvious that Sarai’s not going to have a son. She would have had one by now. Help God out!’ So Abraham made the mistake of trying to help God out, and it’s been a costly mistake.
Later on, Jacob sought to help God out. ‘Doesn’t God want Jacob to receive the blessing, and the birthright, and that the nation would come through Jacob?’ Yes. ‘Well, then let’s deceive the old man: he’s blind, he can’t see, so tie a little goats’ skin on your arm, and on your neck, and rub some dirt on you so you smell rather dirty, and go into the old man with the barbecued goat (which he can’t tell the difference between that, and the wild venison that he is wanting), and get the blessing. After all, doesn’t God want you to?’ Yeah but, God would do it, but you think you have got to help God out. He can’t do it. Yes, God can do it without your help.
And so often we just mess things up when we try to help. And my reason for trying is that somehow I feel that God can’t do His business unless I help Him. David did not make that mistake: ‘Hey, if God wants to depose you and put me on the throne, God can do that. I’m not going to step in and do that. I’m not going to try and help God out. I’m not going to lay my hand against you. God can avenge me, but I’m not going to try to avenge myself.’ And then he quotes an ancient proverb:
Wickedness proceeds from the wicked: [‘but Saul, I’m not wicked. I don’t have wicked intentions against you’] my hand will not be upon you. [‘I’m not going to lay my hand on you.’ Then he said–] After whom is the king of Israel come out? [‘I mean, here you’ve come out with three thousand choice men, who have you come out after?’] you’ve come out after a dog– [‘I mean, I’m a nothing, man. In fact, less:’] you’ve come out after a flea– [..on the dog. And so, David speaks of himself as just a flea. And here: all of this fuss, and hullabaloo after pursuing after a flea.] The LORD therefore be the judge, and judge between me and you, and see, and plead my cause, and deliver me out of your hand. [And so, David placed his case completely with the LORD: “May the LORD plead my cause, [and may the LORD be my defense,] may the LORD deliver me out of your hand.” And David is just pouring his heart out to Saul in this impassioned speech to him.] And it came to pass, when David had finished speaking these words to Saul, that Saul said, Is this thy voice, my son David? And Saul lifted up his voice, and wept. [The guy is really bonkers. I mean, he’s gone. David makes this impassioned plea, and Saul realizes, ‘Hey, he could have done me in.’ “Is this the voice of my son, David?..” Boo, hoo, hoo: poor guy.] And he said to David, You are more righteous than I: for you have rewarded me good, whereas I have rewarded you evil. And you have shewed this day how that you have dealt well with me: forasmuch as when the LORD had delivered me into your hand, you did not kill me. For if a man finds his enemy, will he let him go away well? wherefore the LORD reward thee good for what you have done for me today. And now, behold, I know well that you will surely be the king, and that the kingdom of Israel shall be established in your hand. Swear now therefore unto me by the LORD, that you will not cut off my seed after me, and that you will not destroy my name out of my father’s house. And David sware unto Saul. And Saul went home; but David and his men got up unto the hold.
Now, do you suppose that he lived happily ever after? Don’t kid yourself: this guy’s crazy. Saul has this moment of emotion, but you know, emotions are usually not that deep. We seem to put a lot of credence upon emotions. We see a person crying, we think, “Oh my, he’s really touched. Look, he’s crying.” It could be he’s ticked: he’s really crying. God wants to deal with the issues of your heart. It’s more important that there come the changes in your life, not just crying about a situation. Not just being moved in a moment of emotion. ‘My life’s just been spared,’ you know. ‘And I’m emotional, I’m touched: this guy has made an impassioned speech.’ But if your life isn’t changed, the weeping, the emotions, they mean nothing. You may kneel before God, and just really cry over the sense of the guilt of your sin, “God, I’m sorry.” And you may weep, and people think, ‘Oh my, isn’t that glorious? Look, praise the LORD! That guy’s really repenting,’ and all. It isn’t necessarily repentance. It’s not repentance unless you go out and change.
You know, if you cry, and you say, “God, I’m guilty. LORD, I’m so sorry. Oh, I shouldn’t have done that, LORD. I know I’m wrong. Oh God, please forgive me.” You’re crying before the LORD, and God’s word promises forgiveness. So you get up and say, “Oh, thank you LORD for your forgiveness,” and then you go back out and do the very same thing. There wasn’t true repentance. Repentance means change. So Saul did not repent, there was no change. In his heart there was still this jealousy, there was still this intent of evil, there was still the intention of killing David. That had not changed. For a moment there was a reprieve as Saul had this emotional experience, but it didn’t last.
And so, in just a few chapters we find the same scene repeated where Saul is pursuing, again, after David: endeavoring to kill him. The same old thing, no change. Just an emotional experience, no change.
May God help us in our relating to God, and when God’s Spirit is really dealing with our hearts, and making us face the truth, and when we see the truth and we are convicted with the truth that we see, and we ask God for forgiveness, that there is a true work deeper than just the emotions; but there is a true work of God wrought within our spirit that will bring a change in our lives, in our actions. The Bible says, “Bring forth fruit meet to repentance.” It literally means, ‘bring forth fruit,’ or ‘display fruit that shows that there is a change.’
This is a problem that we see a lot of times in marriages. You know, the wife says, “I’ve had enough of that. I’m not going to take any more. I’m going home to mama,” and she leaves. And the guy calls up and says, “I’m sorry honey, I was a fool. I’m so sorry: please forgive me. Come on home, I’ll be different; I’ll change.” And she comes home, and he’s made the bed, and he’s got flowers on the table, and he’s so sweetsy sweetsy for a few days. And then he’s back to the same old thing: coming in, plopping down in a chair, watching TV, and, ‘don’t bother me. Get the kids out of here.’ And he’s back to the same old thing, you know.
And so, she takes it again for awhile, and then finally says, “I’ve had it, I’m sick of you. Can’t stand the way you treat me, like I’m a nothing. I’m going home to mama.” And so she leaves again; and he calls up and he cries, he comes over, he brings flowers, he sends telegrams. The plane flies over the top of the house that says, “I love you, Lucy.” ‘I’m a different man, really. I’m changed. I was a fool, I realize it.’ And he cries. She goes back. All is sweetsy sweetsy for a few days, and then back to the same old routine. I mean, it’s a pattern. It’s a pattern.
This time she says, “No way. Forget it, man. It’s all over. I’m through.” So then he comes down here, and he says, “Romaine, call my wife. Please! Tell her, tell her, Romaine, that I’m changed.” You ask Romaine. It happens everyday. “Call her up, she’ll listen to you. She won’t even talk to me, she hangs up when I call her.” Of course! She’s heard the same garbage too many times. There hasn’t been a true repentance.
Now she wants a running record: “I’m not going to just come back. You show that you have changed. Keep your job. Pay the rent. Show that there is some changes, show that you’re going to be a responsible man. Prove it.” ‘Oh, come back, and I will.’ “No, no. I want a running record now. I want to see a track record. I want to see that you hold on to the job for more than three months, and I want to see that there is really some stability there. I want to see real evidence of the change.”
That’s what the LORD is asking for, evidence of the change. Not just the tears. The Bible says, “Rend your heart, and not your garments.” You see, the emotional thing: when something went wrong in those days, to really show great grief, or tremendous emotion, you’d take your robe and just rip it. And that would be a sign of, ‘Oh, man. This guy’s really ripped, he’s upset. He’s really hurting,’ you know. And that was their way of showing this deep emotion, and all. And the LORD says, ‘Hey, don’t tear your robe, tear your heart. I want to see your heart torn before Me, not your robes. Rend your heart, and not your garments.’ God is interested in what is going on in your heart.
With Saul, it was all surface. Unfortunately, it didn’t go deeper than the surface. There wasn’t a real repentance, there wasn’t a change of the heart. And thus, the problem was only postponed; but it’s going to rise again. And so with you: if there isn’t a work of God’s Spirit within your heart, and the change within your heart, you’re only postponing the problem. It’s going to rise again, it’s going to be there. You have got to have that work of God’s Spirit in the change of your heart to really bring about the changes that God wants in your life. It’s not just, “I’m sorry that I did it.” It’s, “I’m so sorry, I will never do it again.” That’s the change that God wants. And only God can affect those changes in our lives and only as we yield ourselves unto God, and to that work of His Spirit within our hearts: “Oh God, change my heart, change my attitude.” And the changed heart and attitude will bring the change of actions.
But it doesn’t work the other way. You can’t change your heart by changing your actions. You can change your actions, but that will only be temporary. What’s in your heart will come out again. It’s the heart that God is interested in. “My son, give me your heart. Because out of the heart, come the issues of life.” Let’s learn from the tragedy of Saul.
Father, teach us, we pray. Help us, we pray. Let our hearts be open before You, that You might work in our hearts, Oh God, to bring to pass the lasting changes in our lives. And as Your Spirit works within our hearts, may, then, our lives, our actions, be molded and conformed into that pattern set by Jesus Christ: that we would be like Thee, Oh LORD. In Jesus’ name. Amen.
May the LORD richly bless you, as you continue to study His Word.
Edited & Highlighted from “The Word For Today” Transcription, Pastor Chuck Smith, Tape #7087