The book of 1 Samuel reads like a modern-day drama or soap opera. It is filled with intrigue, action, war, deception, villains, heroes, and all the elements required for an attention-grabbing story. When 1 Samuel opens, the nation of Israel did not have a king like the nations surrounding them. God would raise up and appoint judges to lead the people as was needed from time-to-time. However, the people took note of the nations around them and longed for a king (1 Samuel 8). The Israelites asked Samuel to appoint a king over them and God gave them a king like the one they wanted. King Saul dishonored the Lord and his punishment was that God would not allow Saul's lineage to maintain the kingship of Israel (1 Samuel 13). Samuel goes on to anoint David as next king over Israel and David enters the service of Saul in order to soothe Saul by the playing of the harp (1 Samuel 16). David goes on to kill Goliath, but the praise David received from the people of Israel became a point of contention with Saul. While David would escape, Saul tried to kill David; David would then spend the next portion of his life evading Saul's attempts to hunt him down throughout the land of Israel. 1 Samuel 26 records one of the times Saul went out to search for David. David and his men were hiding in the hill of Hakilah and Saul, upon discovering this information, went to look for David with an army of 3,000 men. Saul's army encamped near David's position. David and Abishai went into Saul's camp while everyone was asleep and walked throughout the camp until they were standing next to Saul's sleeping body. Abishai wanted to kill Saul in his sleep but David refused to allow such action. David said, "Don't destroy him…The Lord himself will strike him; either his time will come and he will die, or he will go into battle and perish. But the Lord forbid that I should lay a hand on the Lord's anointed" (1 Samuel 26:9-11).
David would not allow his man to kill King Saul even though King Saul was on a mission to take the life of David and all who supported him. Take yourself for a moment and try to put yourself in the mindset of Abishai. Abishai was a part of David's army that spent their days avoiding Saul because Saul wanted David dead. They went from place to place, hiding spot to hiding spot, to keep themselves alive until Saul died and David could then be king. No doubt that was a heavy burden; no doubt David's men would have seized any opportunity to eliminate the very reason they were fleeing—Saul. If you spent your days hiding from a crazy person who wanted you dead, you might be just like Abishai after a while. After all, once Saul was dead, David and his men could return to their homes and families, life could be peaceful again, and David would be king. But, David would not allow his man to take the life of Saul because David knew that Saul's life was not his to take, it was God's life to take when He saw fit. Yes, David was the next to take the throne over Israel. Yes, David would be king the moment Saul was dead. And, yes, the kingship was rightfully David's. However, it was not David's position to circumvent God's timing of Saul's death so he (David) could take his position as king more quickly. David was aware that Saul was the appointed king and when God was ready to remove Saul from that position, God would do the removing.
There is something to be said about David's choice to leave Saul alive. There is also something to be said about David understanding that God was in control and had a plan for David to attain his rightful place as king over Israel. Some might argue that David had every right to take Saul's life, but David's refusal to kill Saul speaks to David's patience to allow God's timing to come to pass as God saw fit. As someone who has a relationship with God through the sacrifice of Jesus Christ, there is a lesson to be learned about David refusing to take matters into his own hands and surrendering to God's timing. Often believers try to speed-up what God is doing and by doing so miss the valuable lessons that God is trying to teach. Moreover, by attempting to circumvent God's timing one is actually showing how much he/she does not trust that God is going to deliver upon His promises; taking matters into your own hands in order to bring about something God has not given to you shows a lack of faith in God's provision. Adopt the principle of David in 1 Samuel 26, let God move and work according to His timing and trust that He will lead you in His perfect timing even when His timing seems to defy earthly wisdom.
James Christopher Powell has served as assistant minister in Northwest Florida for ten years.
He studies at The Baptist College of Florida where he is working on a Master's degree in Christians Studies.
He married his wife Jennifer in March 2014.