Vengeance is God’s Business (1 Samuel 21-24)

Daily reading assignment: 1 Samuel 21-24

1 Samuel 21 – David’s Flight into the Wilderness

Convinced Saul would not rest until he is dead, David fled Jerusalem and passed through the village of Nob, a Levite city, where he sought bread from Ahimelech, the high priest (21:1). The presence of the high priest and the reference to “shew bread” seem to indicate the tabernacle was at Nob at that time (21:6). Ahimelech was afraid, perhaps not so much of David, but because he feared what mission David, the son-in-law of the king, might be on that would bring him to that place.

While we might deliberate the reason or rightness of David deceiving the high priest (21:2), we must reason David’s purpose might have been to protect Ahimelech by communicating to him as little as possible of his own circumstances.

“Doeg, an Edomite” was witness to David’s conversation with the high priest who supplied him with food and the sword of Goliath (21:7-9).

1 Samuel 22 – Saul’s Boundless Fury

Encamped in the wilderness, David feared for his parents’ safety and invited them to join him in Adullam (22:1) and then relocated them to “Mizpeh of Moab” (remember, David’s great-grandmother Ruth was a Moabite – 1 Samuel 22:3-4; Ruth 4:18-22).

Perhaps viewed as a rebel by some, unsavory characters were the first men to join David; “every one that was in distress…in debt…discontented, gathered themselves unto him; and he [David] became a captain over them: and there were with him about four hundred men” (1 Samuel 22:2).

Evidencing the spiritual decline and desperation of a troubled soul, Saul accused Ahimelech the high priest of conspiring against him, and commanded he be put to death (22:9-16). When the king’s soldiers refused to obey his egregious order to slay the priests (22:16-17), Saul turned to “Doeg, the Edomite” who slew eighty-five priests and all that inhabited Nob (22:18-19).

Only Abiathar son of Ahimelech, escaped the slaughter, and he sought refuge with David (22:20-23).

1 Samuel 23 – David Seeks the LORD

The LORD gave David a great victory over the Philistines (23:1-6) and Saul sought occasion to pursue his enemy, eager to entrap and destroy him (23:7-8).

Abiathar, the son of the high priest had escaped with an “ephod” which was a “breastplate of judgment” bearing two stones, Urim and Thummim (Numbers 27:21). David called for Abiathar and sought the LORD’S will (23:9-12). When God revealed that he and his men were in danger, David fled to the “wilderness of Ziph” (23:13-14) where he would be betrayed twice by the Ziphites (1 Samuel 23:19; 26:1).

Continually stalked by an enemy who vowed to kill him, David and his band of six hundred men sought shelter in an oasis named Engedi (23:29), a beautiful retreat in the midst of limestone mountains where periodic rainfalls had carved out hundreds of caves. Located in southern Israel and overlooking the western shore of the Dead Sea, Engedi was the perfect hiding place for David (1 Samuel 23:29) until Saul learned he was hiding in its rocky crags (24:1).

1 Samuel 24 – Conjoined Evil Twins: Envy and Revenge

It has been said that revenge is “Life’s most subtle temptation.”  Like conjoined twins, revenge and envy have been the plague of man since Cain slew his brother Abel (Genesis 4). Envy and bitterness fester and when we are unsuspecting, raise their ugly venomous heads into acts of vengeance that can crush dreams, ruin friendships, and destroy lives, marriages and families.

David is a man on the run and has fallen from national hero to a cave-dwelling fugitive. Learning David and his men were retreated to Engedi, Saul chose 3,000 men and set out to find and destroy David and his men once and for all (1 Samuel 24:1-3).

While Saul’s army encamped in the valley, David and his men withdrew and took shelter in the darkness of a large cave overlooking his enemy. Providentially, Saul retreated to a cave to relieve himself and in effect, turned David’s cave hideout into a “royal privy” (24:3).  With guards standing outside the cave, the king had unknowingly retreated into his enemy’s den not realizing an audience of hundreds of men were lurking in the darkness.

David’s men urged him to strike a mortal blow to his enemy (24:4) and were stunned when he refused (24:7).  Indeed, David’s heart was so tender that the mere act of cutting off a section of Saul’s robe troubled him (24:5).

Why?  Why was David troubled for having cut a strip of cloth off the king’s robe?  He was troubled because his heart was tender. He realized, as long as he was king, Saul was God’s anointed (24:6).

Vengeance is God’s business. (24:8-12)

Lesson – If you want to know the character of a man, observe his actions when his enemy is vulnerable. 

Romans 12:19 – “Dearly beloved, avenge not yourselves, but rather give place unto wrath: for it is written, Vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord.”

Warning: Revenge is the course sin takes when anger and bitterness rule the heart.

Ephesians 4:31-32 – “Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamour, and evil speaking, be put away from you, with all malice: 32 And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you.”

Copyright 2020 – Travis D. Smith