1 Samuel 26:1-25 – Love Wins In The End

Posted: April 13, 2018 in 09-1 Samuel

1 Samuel 26:1-25
David Spares Saul Again

“I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.” Martin Luther King uttered these beautiful words during his speech at The March on Washington for Jobs & Freedom on August 28, 1963. Dr. King, though an imperfect sinner just as you and I were, was an amazing man who fought the good fight against institutional racism in our country. There were those in his day in the fight for equality that wanted a course of violent reaction of meeting violence against blacks with violence against whites. Dr. King, however, chose to meet violence with peace, hate with love, and division with unity. His speech that day, laced with biblical references, called for love to reign such that one day black and white children in Mississippi, Alabama and other Southern states could sit down together as friends and not as enemies, a day when black men and white women could sit at the same lunch counter, a day when color was not a consideration for who you could be seen with or hang out with.

All of his protests against institutionalized racism were peaceful. The violence always came from the white establishment. Sure, there were those such as Malcolm X and the Black Panthers that wanted an all out retaliatory race war in the South as payback by blacks for centuries of oppression there. However, it was Martin Luther King’s voice of peace that still resonates today. Dr. King would have been appalled at the looting and rioting of recent years after decisions by courts that were not to the liking of minorities here in the 21st century. His reaction would have been one of peace and to work for real long-term solutions to the problem. Instead of destroying the surface, he would dig down to the root of the problem and begin work on that which would change what happens at the surface. Destroying the weed by cutting off the surface of it will not get rid of the weed. Only when we dig below ground level and dig out the roots of the weed, can we eradicate the weed altogether.

Violence always begets violence. Violence never brings the victory desired. It simply steles the resolve of the combatants involved. My brother and I were often violent with each other as boys are when growing up together and particularly when they are only 18 months apart in age. My brother and I were so competitive about everything. We had to win no matter what against each other. When we were younger in our pre-teen days, it would always lead to some type of altercation. Some were just one blow. Some were all out fights. We had a couple of doozies over the years – one where I knocked one of his teeth loose, another where I hit him so hard in his private parts that it’s a wonder that he was able to have kids. All of that jealousy-inspired violence as small children and preteens led to distrust between us, to protecting our turf between us, to not wanting to be around each other more than we had to between us. Even though the violence stopped as we grew into teenagers, we still did not like each other much as teens not only because we were so different from each other but because of the history of jealousy and the fights. It was not until we grew into adulthood and away from home that we began to close all the wounds and to forgive. I love my brother and we have forgiven each other for the history but the history is still there. It effects our relationship to this day in only a latent sort of way, but it’s still there. I love my brother and would run to South Carolina in a moment’s notice if he needed me now. But I can still see some of our childhood fights in my mind right now as if they occurred yesterday. Violence is a stain that cannot be erased. We can forgive, but the scars remain.

Just as it is with institutional racism. Dr. King worked long and hard to eradicate it. Though the institutional versions of racism may be gone from our society, the scars and memories of racism plague our country to this day. There is a basic distrust in general (though there are many great friendships between blacks and whites) between the races even to this day even though great strides in race relations have been gained because of the work of men like Dr. King and by whites who had the guts to stand up and say that this ends here. The scars remain. The distrust causes racism to flare up into boiling points still even now. Will we ever get to the point that the history of institutional racism and taught generational racism will be gone forever? Or will the stain of the history of violence and hatred be passed on continually and perpetually? Will we always have to pay for the past in the relationships between blacks and whites?

The state of race relations and the state of my relationship with brother were what came to mind this morning as I read how David spared Saul’s life once again. David had every right by human standards just to take vengeance on Saul as he slept. But he didn’t! There is a lesson about the price of violence and hatred in this passage that is so spot-on for us in today’s world. Let us read this passage/chapter together, 1 Samuel 26, right now:

Chapter 26

1 Now some men from Ziph came to Saul at Gibeah to tell him, “David is hiding on the hill of Hakilah, which overlooks Jeshimon.”

2 So Saul took 3,000 of Israel’s elite troops and went to hunt him down in the wilderness of Ziph. 3 Saul camped along the road beside the hill of Hakilah, near Jeshimon, where David was hiding. When David learned that Saul had come after him into the wilderness, 4 he sent out spies to verify the report of Saul’s arrival.

5 David slipped over to Saul’s camp one night to look around. Saul and Abner son of Ner, the commander of his army, were sleeping inside a ring formed by the slumbering warriors. 6 “Who will volunteer to go in there with me?” David asked Ahimelech the Hittite and Abishai son of Zeruiah, Joab’s brother.

“I’ll go with you,” Abishai replied. 7 So David and Abishai went right into Saul’s camp and found him asleep, with his spear stuck in the ground beside his head. Abner and the soldiers were lying asleep around him.

8 “God has surely handed your enemy over to you this time!” Abishai whispered to David. “Let me pin him to the ground with one thrust of the spear; I won’t need to strike twice!”

9 “No!” David said. “Don’t kill him. For who can remain innocent after attacking the Lord’s anointed one? 10 Surely the Lord will strike Saul down someday, or he will die of old age or in battle. 11 The Lord forbid that I should kill the one he has anointed! But take his spear and that jug of water beside his head, and then let’s get out of here!”

12 So David took the spear and jug of water that were near Saul’s head. Then he and Abishai got away without anyone seeing them or even waking up, because the Lord had put Saul’s men into a deep sleep.

13 David climbed the hill opposite the camp until he was at a safe distance. 14 Then he shouted down to the soldiers and to Abner son of Ner, “Wake up, Abner!”

“Who is it?” Abner demanded.

15 “Well, Abner, you’re a great man, aren’t you?” David taunted. “Where in all Israel is there anyone as mighty? So why haven’t you guarded your master the king when someone came to kill him? 16 This isn’t good at all! I swear by the Lord that you and your men deserve to die, because you failed to protect your master, the Lord’s anointed! Look around! Where are the king’s spear and the jug of water that were beside his head?”

17 Saul recognized David’s voice and called out, “Is that you, my son David?”

And David replied, “Yes, my lord the king. 18 Why are you chasing me? What have I done? What is my crime? 19 But now let my lord the king listen to his servant. If the Lord has stirred you up against me, then let him accept my offering. But if this is simply a human scheme, then may those involved be cursed by the Lord. For they have driven me from my home, so I can no longer live among the Lord’s people, and they have said, ‘Go, worship pagan gods.’ 20 Must I die on foreign soil, far from the presence of the Lord? Why has the king of Israel come out to search for a single flea? Why does he hunt me down like a partridge on the mountains?”

21 Then Saul confessed, “I have sinned. Come back home, my son, and I will no longer try to harm you, for you valued my life today. I have been a fool and very, very wrong.”

22 “Here is your spear, O king,” David replied. “Let one of your young men come over and get it. 23 The Lord gives his own reward for doing good and for being loyal, and I refused to kill you even when the Lord placed you in my power, for you are the Lord’s anointed one. 24 Now may the Lord value my life, even as I have valued yours today. May he rescue me from all my troubles.”

25 And Saul said to David, “Blessings on you, my son David. You will do many heroic deeds, and you will surely succeed.” Then David went away, and Saul returned home.

In this passage, we see that we must ask the question, “Why did David refuse to kill Saul?” God had placed Saul in power and had not yet removed him. David did not want to run ahead of God’s timing. We are in similar situations when we have leaders in church or business or government who are unfaithful or incompetent. It may be easy for us to criticize or move against a leader oblivious to God’s hidden purpose and timing. Determining not to do wrong, David left Saul’s destiny in God’s hands. While we should not ignore sin or sit back and allow evil or injustice to stand, neither should we take actions that are against God’s commands. We should work for righteousness while trusting God with the outcome.

Why is it that we honor Dr. King? He was no great warrior. He did not call for an all out civil war between blacks and whites in the South and elsewhere. He called for change in people from the inside out. He called people to stop the violence and hatred even when you don’t trust the other person to stop. We must begin with the resolve that the violence ends with me. To not respond to violence with violence. He called for non-violent change. He called for returning violence with non-violence. His call for peaceful protest changed the world’s view of institutional racism in the South. He brought light to injustice with non-violent reaction to violence. He called his people to be lambs amongst the wolves. He knew that love would when in the end. It may take generations upon generations. It may take a long, long time. But getting at the root of the weed make take longer but it wins in the end when trying to get rid of the weed. Love wins in the end. Not violence. Love means having scars but loving despite the distrust caused by the scars.

Why do my brother and I have a good relationship now? We both had to stand down. We both had to say the violence ends with me. We both had to trust each other when our guts screamed not to. We both had to drop the rock in our hand and extend the hand of friendship. Who did it first I do not know! Maybe, we just got tired of fighting. Maybe, we gave the other some help when they needed it most and that changed everything. Yes, my brother and I have scars of the history of jealousy and violence between us but we love each other now because love wins in the end, not violence, not hatred. Sure, my brother and I have those memories of the ugliness of the dark side of relationship that are as fresh today as they were when we were kids and preteens and teenagers, but we chose to stand down, but we choose to drop the club in our hands. We choose to value the relationship that we cannot change. We are brothers and nothing will change that. We are forever tied to one another as brothers. We must value that. We must love that. Love wins in the end.

Why did David not take his vengeance on Saul when he had this second opportunity to do? Why didn’t he? Man, wouldn’t you have done so against a man that was using the full force of the Israelite monarchy to kill you? He chose not to kill. He honored his king. He knew that killing Saul might satisfy his inner demon of lust for revenge but that it would lead to all out civil war. It would have led to the weakening of Israel into two factions – a house divided will fall in on itself. David knew that violence would only beget more violence. He knew that the violent act would led to generational hatred that would be passed on from generation to generation. He knew that if he let Saul live, Saul would eventually die and that he would become king as the Lord had promised. He saw that love would win in the end.

Is there someone in your life with whom you have a need to forgive? Is there someone in your life where you are holding a club in your hand ready to take up vengeance against? Think of Jesus Christ on the cross. He could have easily come down from the cross and took His vengeance on those that put Him there, but He didn’t. Love wins in the end. Who remembers the names of the men who put Jesus on the cross? Everyone remembers Jesus because he chose love over violence. He chose forgiveness over hatred. He was love. He won in the end. Jesus is our example of choosing to love in the face of hatred. Drop the club in your hand. Love wins in the end. Pray for your enemies. Love when violence is called for. Forgive when unforgiveness is called for. Then, we are like Jesus. We are like David. Love wins in the end.

Amen and Amen.

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