The Life of Godliness.
1 Samuel 19-20, Romans 12
Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse them. Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep. Live in harmony with one another. – Romans 12:14-16 ESV
Saul despised David. He hated him so much that he wanted him dead. He even attempted to kill David himself by tossing a spear at him. On several different occasions Saul tried to arrange David’s death. But God intervened and protected His anointed one. David was to be the new king of Israel, and there was nothing Saul could do about it. And while the primary character in this portion of 1 Samuel seems to be Saul, the actions and attitude of David make him the real protagonist of the story. He is completely innocent of wrong-doing, and yet Saul wants him dead. David has done nothing wrong. In fact, he has been a faithful servant of Saul, having killed Goliath and then successfully leading military campaigns against the Philistines. David has served in Saul’s household. He has married Saul’s daughter, Michel. He has become the best fried on Saul’s son, Jonathan. But in spite all of this, Saul seeks to take David’s life.
What does this passage reveal about God?
As in any story where injustice seems to take place, the first question most of us ask is, “Why?” Why is David having to go through all of this? What has he done to deserve such treatment? Where is God in all of this? But the truth is, God is all throughout this story. He is clearly in charge of all the events taking place. He anointed David while Saul was still on the throne. He knew Saul would react negatively and violently. God was behind David’s military successes. He gave David his musical abilities and military acumen. When Saul sent messengers to find David and bring him back for execution, God caused those men to be filled with His Spirit and prophesy instead. Three different times Saul sent messengers to do his evil bidding, and three times God intervened, miraculously altering the agenda of the Saul and the intent of his messengers. Even when Saul himself attempted to go and get David, God stepped in, causing Saul to strip himself of his clothes and prophesy. God humbled and humiliated the king, clearly showing that He was in control of the situation. He had already stripped Saul of his kingship and was showing that his days of rule were coming to an end.
What does this passage reveal about man?
But one of the most amazing things about this story is the reaction of David. Yes, he is shocked and surprised. He can’t understand why Saul is treating him the way he is. And while the passage doesn’t reveal David’s inward thoughts, he had to be wondering why God had anointed him king, only to let him die at the hands of Saul before he could ever sit of the throne of Israel. Nothing about this whole affair would have made sense to him. One moment he was serving in the palace of the king, the next he was running for his life. But nowhere does David express anger at Saul. He does not shake his fist at God or demand Him to explain himself. He simply says, “But truly, as the Lord lives and as your soul lives, there is but a step between me and death” (1 Samuel 20:3 ESV).
Over in Romans 12, Paul writes the Christians living in Rome, instructing them regarding the manner in which they are to live together. “Let love be genuine. Abhor what is evil; hold fast to what is good. Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor. Do not be slothful in zeal, be fervent in spirit,serve the Lord. Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer” (Romans 12:9-12 ESV). He goes on to write, “Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse them. Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep. Live in harmony with one another. Do not be haughty, but associate with the lowly. Never be wise in your own sight. 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, ‘f 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” (Romans 12:14-21 ESV). These words could easily be applied to David. In spite of all that was happening to him, David continued to love Saul. Rather than seek vengeance or try to defend himself, he tried to do the honorable thing. He desired to live in harmony with Saul. He could have rationalized that he was the rightful king of Israel, having been anointed by the prophet of God. It would have been easy to justify taking matters into his own hands and turning his anger against Saul, even attempting to kill him in order to protect himself. But David did the right thing. He did the godly thing. He didn’t try to repay evil for evil. He didn’t attempt to avenge himself. And he was going to learn to rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation and constant in prayer.
How would I apply what I’ve read to my own life?
David didn’t necessarily understand or even like his circumstances. Having some hurl a spear at your head is not exactly a pleasant experience. Having to run for your life is not what most of us would consider an attractive proposition. The next years of David’s life would be filled with difficulty and a constant temptation to question the will and love of God. He would spend years in forced exile, with a bounty on his head. But in spite of his circumstances, David would continue to trust God and honor Saul as king. Little did he know, but he was in God’s school of leadership, where he would learn to become the king he had already been anointed to be. David was not yet ready for the throne. He had much to learn about being a king. He had much to learn about himself and God. But even in the early days of his life as a falsely accused fugitive, David exhibited a heart for godliness. He revealed that he wanted to do the right thing. He exhibited why God had called him “a man after my own heart.” That is the kind of man I want to be. That is the kind of man Paul describes in Romans 12. He reminds us to “present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which your spiritual worship” (Romans 12:1 ESV). We are not to be conformed to this world. But are to “be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect” (Romans 12:2 ESV). We are to live lives of godliness, exhibiting a heart for the things of God and a willingness to accept all things as having come through the hands of God.
Father, I want my life to be marked by godliness. Help me to see that my circumstances are not what dictate my godliness, but my heart in the midst of them. I want to learn to trust You more. I want to rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation and constant in prayer. I want to bless those who persecute me, and live in harmony with all men. Rather than be overcome with evil, I want to overcome evil with good. Amen
Grow Pastor & Minister to Men