Leave It Up to God

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1 Samuel 26:1-25 (David spares Saul again)

INTRODUCTION: Our message series is on David and Saul, and today we come to the last of three chapters where David spares the lives of evil men. In chapter 24 David spared Saul’s life. In chapter 25 David spared Nabal. And now in chapter 26 David spares Saul again!

Chapters 24 and 26 are very similar stories, but they have a different focus. We saw that the focus in chapter 24 was on returning good for evil. The focus here in chapter 26 is on leaving it up to God. In between these two episodes, in chapter 25, David learned from his incident with Nabal not to be rash and not to take things into his own hands. (Read 1 Samuel 26:7-11 and pray)

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When we last left David and Saul in chapter 24, David had spared Saul’s life, and in return Saul had promised not to pursue David any longer. Unfortunately, it was only a momentary repentance on Saul’s part, because when we come to chapter 26, Saul is back to hunting David again. You would think this would give David even more reason to take revenge on his enemy, but David has learned some important lessons from his near disaster with Nabal in chapter 25.

There’s a decision each of us needs to make when it comes to personal revenge. Will I leave it up to God? Or will I take things into my own hands? David has a new attitude when it comes to revenge, and we can learn from his attitude. Whenever you are tempted to take things into your own hands, leave it up to God instead.

Instead of seeking personal revenge, you should leave it up to God by demonstrating three important areas of trust: 1) Trust God to make things right. 2) Trust God to protect you. And 3) Trust God to reward you. In our passage today, we find David demonstrating all three of these areas of trust when it comes to his relationship with Saul.

I. Trust God to make things right (1-11)

So, how do you leave things up to God? First, trust God to make things right. That means you need to watch out for temptation, and remember it’s God’s job to decide, not yours.

   A. Watch out for temptation (1-7)
      – Matthew 26:41

You need to watch out for temptation, because you can’t trust God to make things right if you insist on doing things wrong. Look at 1 Samuel 26:1-7:

The Ziphites went to Saul at Gibeah and said, “Is not David hiding on the hill of Hakilah, which faces Jeshimon?” 2 So Saul went down to the Desert of Ziph, with his three thousand chosen men of Israel, to search there for David. 3 Saul made his camp beside the road on the hill of Hakilah facing Jeshimon, but David stayed in the desert. When he saw that Saul had followed him there, 4 he sent out scouts and learned that Saul had definitely arrived.

5 Then David set out and went to the place where Saul had camped. He saw where Saul and Abner son of Ner, the commander of the army, had lain down. Saul was lying inside the camp, with the army encamped around him.

6 David then asked Ahimelech the Hittite and Abishai son of Zeruiah, Joab’s brother, “Who will go down into the camp with me to Saul?” “I’ll go with you,” said Abishai. 7 So David and Abishai went to the army by night, and there was Saul, lying asleep inside the camp with his spear stuck in the ground near his head. Abner and the soldiers were lying around him. (1 Samuel 26:1-7)

This passage is full of temptations. Saul had promised to leave David alone, but then the Ziphites come to him again with information about David’s whereabouts. The temptation is too great, and so Saul is back to his old tricks and off pursing David in the wilderness again.

David faces temptations in this passage, too. David learns that Saul is back. He scouts out the area and secretly approaches Saul’s camp. He sees where King Saul and Abner, the commander of the army, are sleeping in the middle of the camp. David decides to go down into the enemy camp, and Abishai volunteers to go with him.

Abishai is David’s nephew (1 Chronicles 2:16). He is one of three brothers – Abishai, Joab and Asahel – all sons of David’s sister Zeruiah. All three have a much bigger part to play in the book of 2 Samuel, and the phrase “the sons of Zeruiah” has a prominent role in 2 Samuel.

David and Abishai sneak through the sleeping soldiers and come to Saul who is lying asleep inside the camp with his spear stuck in the ground near his head. And so, David has yet another opportunity to kill his enemy, Saul, who lies defenseless before him.

The Bible doesn’t tell us why David decided to sneak into the enemy camp at night, but now that David stands before a sleeping Saul with a spear stuck in the ground at his head, he is definitely facing a new temptation. It would be so easy to kill Saul here.

Part of trusting God to make things right is to watch out for temptation. Jesus told his disciples in Matthew 26:41: “Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation.” (Matthew 26:41) Once again, you can’t trust God to make things right if you insist on doing things wrong! When it comes to seeking personal revenge, the Bible tells us we need to watch out for temptation.

   B. Remember it’s God’s job to decide, not yours (8-11)
      – Romans 12:19

You need to watch out for temptation, and you need to remember it’s God’s job to decide, not yours. Look at 1 Samuel 26:8-11:

Abishai said to David, “Today God has delivered your enemy into your hands. Now let me pin him to the ground with one thrust of my spear; I won’t strike him twice.” 9 But David said to Abishai, “Don’t destroy him! Who can lay a hand on the Lord’s anointed and be guiltless? 10 As surely as the Lord lives,” he said, “the Lord himself will strike him; either his time will come and he will die, or he will go into battle and perish. 11 But the Lord forbid that I should lay a hand on the Lord’s anointed. Now get the spear and water jug that are near his head, and let’s go.” (1 Samuel 26:8-11)

Abishai asks David for permission to kill Saul right then and there, but David tells him no. David gives him two reasons. 1) Saul is the Lord’s anointed king. 2) God himself will strike Saul. Either Saul’s time will come and he will die, or he will go into battle and perish. God made Saul king, and David knows it’s God’s job to decide how and when to remove Saul from office.

David has learned from his whole episode with Nabal back in chapter 25 to trust God with the timing and the details. It would not only be wrong to kill Saul, but David also sees it as totally unnecessary. It’s not his job. God’s got this. David has learned his lesson from the episode with Nabal, and this time he’s going to leave it up to God.

David tells Abishai to grab Saul’s spear and water jug, and together they retreat from the enemy camp. I’m sure Abishai was frustrated with David’s decision. He was convinced that God had given them this opportunity to kill Saul, not to show mercy to him. Abishai probably got a t-shirt printed up after this incident saying, “I snuck into the enemy’s camp, and all I got was this lousy spear and water jug!”

But David is absolutely right here. When we studied chapter 24 we looked at Romans 12:19 which says: “Do not take revenge, my friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: ‘It is mine to avenge; I will repay,’ says the Lord.” (Romans 12:19) Leave room for God’s wrath. Leave room for God’s work. Leave it up to God.

How do you leave it up to God? First, trust God to make things right. Watch out for temptation. Remember that it’s God’s job to decide, not yours.

II. Trust God to protect you (12-20)

Secondly, trust God to protect you. Trust in God, not people. And commit your way to the Lord.

   A. Trust in God, not people (12-16)
      – Psalm 146:3-4

Make sure you trust in God, not people. Look at 1 Samuel 26:12-16:

So David took the spear and water jug near Saul’s head, and they left. No one saw or knew about it, nor did anyone wake up. They were all sleeping, because the Lord had put them into a deep sleep. 13 Then David crossed over to the other side and stood on top of the hill some distance away; there was a wide space between them. 14 He called out to the army and to Abner son of Ner, “Aren’t you going to answer me, Abner?”

Abner replied, “Who are you who calls to the king?” 15 David said, “You’re a man, aren’t you? And who is like you in Israel? Why didn’t you guard your lord the king? Someone came to destroy your lord the king. 16 What you have done is not good. As surely as the Lord lives, you and your men deserve to die, because you did not guard your master, the Lord’s anointed. Look around you. Where are the king’s spear and water jug that were near his head?” (1 Samuel 26:12-16)

David takes Saul’s spear and water jug, and he and Abishai leave the camp together. They make it in and out of the camp without waking anyone up, not so much because they are expert camp invaders, but because God is watching out for them. God is protecting them. God has put the soldiers into a deep sleep so that no one wakes up.

Once they are safely out of the camp, David calls out to the army and especially to Abner, the commander of the army. He rebukes Abner for not watching out for the king and directs his attention to the missing spear and water jug that had been near Saul’s head.

The point here is to trust God, not people. Think about it. David and Abishai were alone in the midst of three thousand enemy soldiers, but they were perfectly safe because God was protecting them. On the other hand, Saul was being protected by Abner and three thousand soldiers, and he was completely defenseless.

Psalm 146 says: “Do not put your trust in princes, in mortal men, who cannot save. When their spirit departs, they return to the ground; on that very day their plans come to nothing.” (Psalm 146:3-4) People will let you down, but God will never forsake you. Trust in God, not people.

   B. Commit your way to the Lord (17-20)
      – Psalm 37:5-6

Trust in God, and commit your way to the Lord. Look at 1 Samuel 26:17-20:

Saul recognized David’s voice and said, “Is that your voice, David my son?” David replied, “Yes it is, my lord the king.” 18 And he added, “Why is my lord pursuing his servant? What have I done, and what wrong am I guilty of? 19 Now let my lord the king listen to his servant’s words. If the Lord has incited you against me, then may he accept an offering. If, however, men have done it, may they be cursed before the Lord! They have now driven me from my share in the Lord’s inheritance and have said, ‘Go, serve other gods.’ 20 Now do not let my blood fall to the ground far from the presence of the Lord. The king of Israel has come out to look for a flea—as one hunts a partridge in the mountains.” (1 Samuel 26:17-20)

Saul recognizes David’s voice and calls out to him. And David responds by committing his way to the Lord. If God has told Saul to go after him, then David will make an offering. But if men have done it, then may they be cursed before the Lord. David says they have driven him away from his inheritance. They have encouraged him to serve other gods. The Lord’s inheritance here refers to the covenant community living in Israel. David has been driven from his people and driven from the land. He has been driven to other lands where he could have been tempted to serve foreign gods.

So, either God has told Saul to come after David, or wicked men have done it. Either way, David commits his way to the Lord. He puts himself and his future in God’s hands. Psalm 37 says: “Commit your way to the Lord; trust in him and he will do this: He will make your righteousness shine like the dawn, the justice of your cause like the noonday sun.” (Psalm 37:5-6)

Do you want to leave it up to God? Then trust God to protect you. Trust in God, not people. Commit your way to the Lord.

III. Trust God to reward you (21-25)

How do you leave it up to God? 1) Trust God to make things right. 2) Trust God to protect you. And 3) Trust God to reward you.

   A. God rewards all those who do right (21-24)
      – Hebrews 6:10

The Bible tells us God rewards all those who do right. Look at 1 Samuel 26:21-24:

Then Saul said, “I have sinned. Come back, David my son. Because you considered my life precious today, I will not try to harm you again. Surely I have acted like a fool and have erred greatly.”

“Here is the king’s spear,” David answered. “Let one of your young men come over and get it. 23 The Lord rewards every man for his righteousness and faithfulness. The Lord delivered you into my hands today, but I would not lay a hand on the Lord’s anointed. 24 As surely as I valued your life today, so may the Lord value my life and deliver me from all trouble.” (1 Samuel 26:21-24)

For the second time Saul repents of his sin and promises David he will not harm him. David tells Saul to send one of his young men to come over and get the spear. And then David proclaims that the Lord rewards every man for his righteousness and faithfulness. David has been righteous and faithful by not laying a hand on the Lord’s anointed. As surely as David valued Saul’s life today, David expects the Lord to value his own life and deliver him from trouble.

God rewards all those who do right. Hebrews 6:10 says: “God is not unjust; he will not forget your work and the love you have shown him as you have helped his people and continue to help them.” (Hebrews 6:10)

   B. God can make even your enemies be at peace with you (25)
      – Proverbs 16:7

God rewards all those who do right. And God can make even your enemies be at peace with you. Look at 1 Samuel 26:25:

Then Saul said to David, “May you be blessed, my son David; you will do great things and surely triumph.” So David went on his way, and Saul returned home. (1 Samuel 26:25)

Saul gets the last word here, speaking words of peace and blessing upon David. Then David goes his way, and Saul returns home. This is the last time David and Saul meet.

Proverbs 16:7 says: “When a man’s ways are pleasing to the Lord, he makes even his enemies live at peace with him.” (Proverbs 16:7) God rewards all those who do right. And God can make even your enemies be at peace with you.

CONCLUSION: How do you leave it up to God? By demonstrating three important areas of trust. 1) Trust God to make things right. 2) Trust God to protect you. And 3) Trust God to reward you.

When we take matters into our own hands, we show that we do not really trust God. We try to do God’s job for him. We forfeit God’s protection on our life, and we lose out on our reward. We also prolong the conflict and miss out on the opportunity for God to make our enemies live at peace with us. Whenever you are tempted to seek personal revenge, leave it up to God instead.

In fact, that’s a good rule for all of life. Leave it up to God. Trust him. Trust him with your salvation. Trust him with your family. Trust him with your future. Trust him with your work. Trust him with your day.

Romans 8:32 says: “He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all – how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things?” (Romans 8:32) God sent Jesus to die on the cross for your sins. I think you can trust him with everything else, too.

There’s a great sign that some people post on their refrigerator to see each morning when they get up. Perhaps you want to get a copy and put it on yours, too. It goes like this:

“Good morning! This is God. I will be handling all your problems today. I will not need your help. So relax, and have a great day!”

God is sovereign. God is in control. God is large and in charge. Life goes better when you leave it up to God.

© Ray Fowler

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By Ray Fowler. © Ray Fowler. Website: http://www.rayfowler.org

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