Scripture reading – 1 Samuel 26

1 Samuel 26 presented David with a second opportunity to kill his enemy, the king of Israel. The first opportunity had risen when Saul unwittingly entered a cave where David and his men had retreated (1 Samuel 24:3-7). On that occasion, David reasoned that despite his flaws and failures, Saul was “the anointed of the LORD,” and he would not harm him.

Again, in 1 Samuel 26, the king’s life was in David’s hand. Yet, he refused the appeal of his servants to slay him and said it would be a severe sin to stretch “forth his hand against the LORD’s anointed” (1 Samuel 26:9-24). 

The Occasion


David was Betrayed by the Ziphites (1 Samuel 26:1)

David had returned to Judah and sought safety among his kinsmen. Yet, for a second time, the Ziphites, a family of the tribe of Judah, betrayed his hiding place to Saul (1 Samuel 26:1). Whether out of fear or in seeking the king’s favor, the treachery of David’s tribesmen was especially egregious.

Saul Breached His Peace with David, Who Ventured Into the King’s Stronghold (1 Samuel 24:2-16)

Having learned of David’s location, Saul betrayed his covenant with him (1 Samuel 24:17-22) and mobilized three thousand soldiers to pursue and kill him (1 Samuel 26:2-5).  When David confirmed Saul’s encampment, he sought a companion who would accompany him into his enemy’s camp while he slept (1 Samuel 26:4-6).

David and Abishai, his trusted cohort, slipped into Saul’s camp and stole away with the king’s spear and his cruse of water (1 Samuel 26:12). Then David ascended a hill overlooking Israel’s encampment. From a safe distance, he awoke Saul’s army and taunted Abner, the king’s general, for he had failed to protect Saul from harm (1 Samuel 26:13-16).

Saul recognized David’s Voice Who Then Reasoned with the King (1 Samuel 26:17-20)

“Saul knew David’s voice, and said, Is this thy voice, my son David?” (1 Samuel 26:17) Though the king had made himself an enemy, David nevertheless honored him and said, “It is my voice, my lord, O king” (1 Samuel 26:17b). Rather than hurl an accusation at the king, David asked, “Wherefore doth my lord thus pursue after his servant? for what have I done? or what evil is in mine hand?” (1 Samuel 26:17-18) David appealed to the king and questioned why he believed the evil reports of other men. He asserted that wicked men had turned the king’s heart against him (1 Samuel 26:20).

Saul’s Confession (1 Samuel 26:21-25)

Saul confessed he had indeed “played the fool, and have erred exceedingly” (1 Samuel 26:21). David then presented Saul’s spear to prove he might have taken the king’s life (1 Samuel 26:22) but determined he “would not stretch forth [his] hand against the Lord’s anointed” (1 Samuel 26:23).

David had exhibited integrity toward the king, and Saul acknowledged his testimony and said: “Blessed be thou, my son David: thou shalt both do great things, and also shalt still prevail” (1 Samuel 26:25). The two men parted, and “David went on his way, and Saul returned to his place” (1 Samuel 26:25).

Closing thoughts:

Integrity is a rare virtue, and there are few whose lives are guided by righteous principles. David was such a man, and he was, in the LORD’s words, “a man after His own heart” (1 Samuel 13:14). He was not a perfect man (as we will see in 1 Samuel 27); however, He loved the LORD. From His youth, he proved to be an honorable son, a loyal friend, and a faithful servant.

Heroic in his deeds and humble in his walk, David was a man of integrity.

Copyright © 2023 – Travis D. Smith

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