Today's Lectionary Text
1 Samuel 24
When Saul returned from following the Philistines, he was told, “David is in the wilderness of En-gedi.” Then Saul took three thousand chosen men out of all Israel, and went to look for David and his men in the direction of the Rocks of the Wild Goats. He came to the sheepfolds beside the road, where there was a cave; and Saul went in to relieve himself. Now David and his men were sitting in the innermost parts of the cave. The men of David said to him, “Here is the day of which the Lord said to you, ‘I will give your enemy into your hand, and you shall do to him as it seems good to you.’” Then David went and stealthily cut off a corner of Saul’s cloak. Afterward David was stricken to the heart because he had cut off a corner of Saul’s cloak. He said to his men, “The Lord forbid that I should do this thing to my lord, the Lord’s anointed, to raise my hand against him; for he is the Lord’s anointed.” So David scolded his men severely and did not permit them to attack Saul. Then Saul got up and left the cave, and went on his way.
Afterwards David also rose up and went out of the cave and called after Saul, “My lord the king!” When Saul looked behind him, David bowed with his face to the ground, and did obeisance. David said to Saul, “Why do you listen to the words of those who say, ‘David seeks to do you harm’? This very day your eyes have seen how the Lord gave you into my hand in the cave; and some urged me to kill you, but I spared you. I said, ‘I will not raise my hand against my lord; for he is the Lord’s anointed.’ See, my father, see the corner of your cloak in my hand; for by the fact that I cut off the corner of your cloak, and did not kill you, you may know for certain that there is no wrong or treason in my hands. I have not sinned against you, though you are hunting me to take my life. May the Lord judge between me and you! May the Lord avenge me on you; but my hand shall not be against you. As the ancient proverb says, ‘Out of the wicked comes forth wickedness’; but my hand shall not be against you. Against whom has the king of Israel come out? Whom do you pursue? A dead dog? A single flea? May the Lord therefore be judge, and give sentence between me and you. May he see to it, and plead my cause, and vindicate me against you.”
When David had finished speaking these words to Saul, Saul said, “Is this your voice, my son David?” Saul lifted up his voice and wept. He said to David, “You are more righteous than I; for you have repaid me good, whereas I have repaid you evil. Today you have explained how you have dealt well with me, in that you did not kill me when the Lordput me into your hands. For who has ever found an enemy, and sent the enemy safely away? So may the Lord reward you with good for what you have done to me this day. Now I know that you shall surely be king, and that the kingdom of Israel shall be established in your hand. Swear to me therefore by the Lord that you will not cut off my descendants after me, and that you will not wipe out my name from my father’s house.” So David swore this to Saul. Then Saul went home; but David and his men went up to the stronghold.
Have you ever been encouraged to take an action where you would be getting even for a wrong done to you by another person? I suppose most of us have. And we may have succumbed to the temptation to do something in response to the other person’s action.
Years ago, when I was a senior in high school and played on the football team, our team thought the game was not being called fairly. I played guard and my friend Joe played tackle on the same side of the line. We had a weaker defensive tackle and linebacker playing across from us. We had the backfield judge right behind the two defensive players. Joe and I talked about taking both of our respective defensive player and block them into the referee. When the correct play was called Joe and I blocked our men right over top of the referee. At the time it felt good to have gotten even with the referee and we laughed and joked about what we had done. However, the referee was very slow to get up we knew we had done the wrong thing in hitting the referee the way we did.
In our reading from 1 Samuel there is an event when David could have killed Saul, David chose a nobler act:
“24 When Saul returned from following the Philistines, he was told, “Behold, David is in the wilderness of En-ge′di.” 2 Then Saul took three thousand chosen men out of all Israel and went to seek David and his men in front of the Wildgoats’ Rocks. 3 And he came to the sheepfolds by the way, where there was a cave; and Saul went in to relieve himself. Now David and his men were sitting in the innermost parts of the cave. 4 And the men of David said to him, “Here is the day of which the Lord said to you, ‘Behold, I will give your enemy into your hand, and you shall do to him as it shall seem good to you.’” Then David arose and stealthily cut off the skirt of Saul’s robe. 5 And afterward David’s heart smote him, because he had cut off Saul’s skirt. 6 He said to his men, “The Lord forbid that I should do this thing to my lord, the Lord’s anointed, to put forth my hand against him, seeing he is the Lord’s anointed.” 7 So David persuaded his men with these words, and did not permit them to attack Saul. And Saul rose up and left the cave and went upon his way.” (RSV)
Fifty-two years later I wish Joe and I had chosen the nobler action and not taken-out the referee. Maybe there is something in each of our lives, when we would have been better-off choosing another action.
-Rev. D. R. “Buck” Linton-Hendrick,
Retired Clergy and Pastor in Nebraska at
Prayer for Reflection
Dear Lord God, I have at times done things my way and later found I was wrong please forgive me and help me to live a more Christian way. In Jesus name. Amen!
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