The Book of 1 Samuel

Coming to terms with your pride

1 Samuel 26:1-12 4/19/15 SCC



The Ziphites are relentless about exposing David 1

1. Now, once again, we find the Ziphites betraying David to Saul v 1. When the Ziphites come to Saul, he is at home in Gibeah, having given up the pursuit of David, at least for a time. But with the arrival of these helpful informers, Saul is once again prompted to pursue David v 2 These Ziphites, descendants of Caleb and thus of Judah, are fellow-Judahites with David, and yet they betray their future king to a Benjamite like Saul. You may have your detractors for any reason.

Saul is relentless in pursuing David 3

2. Saul returns to the wilderness of Ziph, accompanied by 3,000 of his best soldiers. Saul pitches camp on the hill of Hachilah, close to the road. David remains in the more remote part of the wilderness v 3. This time things are going to be a lot different than the last time these two men met in this place.

David will have a second opportunity to apply his Faith 4-5

The first time David was seeking to retreat, while Saul was advancing. Now it is Saul whose soldiers are camped and David who is taking the initiative v 4. Davidís spies locate Saulís camp and inform David, who approaches with his men v 5. David looks down on Saulís camp and sees Saul asleep in the center of the camp. Next to Saul lies his uncle and commander of the army, Abner.



Davidís plan is to expose Saulís defenses 6-9

1. Two men seem to be near David, Ahimelech the Hittite and Abishai v 6. David speaks to these two men, requesting that one of them go with him down to Saulís camp. Abishai volunteers. Knowing from the incident in the cave that David is squeamish about killing Saul, Abishai whispers to David, ďGod has delivered Saul into your hand today. Now, then, let me finish Saul off with his own spear. It will only take one blow, I assure youĒ v 7-8. David forbids Abishai to kill Saul for essentially the same reasons he verbalized in the cave in chapter 24. No one can lift his hand against the Lordís anointed without incurring guilt v 9.

David displays Saulís vulnerability 10-12

2. In verse 10, David goes beyond what he has said before. ďAs surely as God lives, He will be the one to remove SaulĒ. David does not know how, but after his experience with Nabal and Abigail, he knows that God can accomplish His will in any number of ways. He could strike Saul dead, Saul could die naturally, or he might be killed in battle but in each case, it will not be by Davidís hand, nor by the hand of any of his men. David has come for Saulís spear and water container, and that is all v 11. So he takes them instructing Abishai to come along with him v 12. Whether they knew it or not, the author of our text informs us that this was not just a stroke of good luck, or even a good military maneuver. God had miraculously put these 3,000 men to sleep.



David challenges Abner who was responsible for Saulís safety 13-15

1. David waits to call out until he has crossed over what seems to be a valley v 13. Then, standing far from Saulís reach on top of a mountain, David cries out to the people in general and to Abner in particular v 14. The soldiers of Saul are apparently awakened by the sound of Davidís voice. Not seeing who is calling out, Abner does not recognize Davidís voice v 15. David indicts the entire group for not properly protecting their king. And for this, David insists that their failure should cost them their lives. We can begin to grasp the reasons behind Davidís perplexing invasion of Saulís camp. David did not go down to Saulís camp as a kind of spur-of-the-moment prank. He had a plan, which had worked out just as he had expected.

David taunts Saulís army to humiliate them 16

2. David informs them they have failed their most important duty Ėprotecting their king v 16. David claims a would-be killer successfully penetrated their defenses and reached their king, fully intending to do him harm. David is right! While David did not approach Saul to kill him, this was surely Abishaiís intention. The only reason Abishai did not kill King Saul was that David stopped him. If any doubted one had come this close to Saul, look for the kingís spear and water jug. David has the spear, and he has made his point. As commander-in-chief of Saulís forces, Abner is responsible for this serious breach of security, which endangered the life of the king. It was on his watch that Saulís life was endangered but every one of the 3,000 soldiers is guilty of a most unpardonable sin.



David challenges Saulís relentless pursuit 17-18

1. Saul overhears the conversation between Abner and a distant voice. Saul knows that voice; it is the voice of none other than David v 17. He has already heard enough to soften him. ďIs this your voice, my son David David acknowledges that it is indeed he. From here, David takes the lead, inquiring of Saul why he is pursuing him once again v 18. He asks Saul what evil deed he has done to necessitate such action on Saulís part. There is, of course, no good answer.

David argues two possibilities for Saulís pursuit of him v 19

On the one hand, it is possible that David has truly sinned, and that the Lord has stirred Saul up to deal with this evil v 19a. If this is the case, Saul need only tell David what his sin is, and then David can obtain atonement for this sin by offering a sacrifice. If this is the case, there is no need for Saul to pursue and punish David, since God has forgiven him.

On the other hand, if David is innocent, then there must be those who have wrongly accused David before Saul by characterizing him as a dangerous criminal, worthy of death v 19b. If this second possibility is true, then such false accusers are under a curse before the Lord. To force David to flee from the land of Israel was to force him to flee from the place where God dwelt in a special way; it was to force him to leave the place where God had provided for men to worship Him. Thus, to force one to flee from Israel was as much as to say, ďGo, serve other gods.Ē

David pleads with Saul to stop the pursuit 20

David pleads with Saul that his blood not be shed outside of the land, away from the presence of the Lord. There is no need for Saul to pursue him so vigorously. Searching for David is like searching for a single flea, like hunting a partridge in the mountains. It is a whole lot of work with very little benefit. Let the king forsake his pursuit and cease listening to those who pit him against David.



Saul confesses his utter foolishness and error 21

1. Saul recognizes his own sin in his dealings with David v 21. But the most significant word is ďreturnĒ. Has Saul been a part of the sin of driving David out of the land, away from the opportunity to worship his God? Then he would now confess his sin, and give up his pursuit of David so that he may safely ďreturnĒ to the place of worship. Because David regards Saulís life as precious, Saul promises to regard Davidís life as precious. Saul confesses that he has sinned, and that in his sin, he has been guilty of the very serious error to which David refers.

Davidís point is made and he pleads again for Saul to stop his pursuit 22-25

2. David does not presume to keep the symbol of authority that belongs to Saul, and so he calls for one of Saulís men to fetch it v 22. David returned Saulís spear to him the symbol of the right to rule. He felt confident that God would repay each of them eventually, and he determined to wait for Him to do so v 23. David acknowledged that the Lord was his real deliverer v 24. Saul could have overwhelmed Davidís smaller band of followers. Instead he departed with a prophetic declaration of Davidís final success v 25. Saulís final words are a pronouncement of blessing on David, with the assurance that he will accomplish great things and that, in the end, David will prevail v 25. With these words, the two men part company for the last time. The text does not record another meeting of David and Saul before Saul died. Saul returns to his place, but David goes on his way. David knows better than to think Saulís repentance will last.


So What?

1. Godís agenda is to teach you to live by faith and he will do so even if repeatedly irritating situations are necessary to motivate us.

2. God uses these repeatedly irksome situations to prompt us to trust Him rather than act on our own sinful decision.

3. We can create a response that is consistent with reliance upon the will of God rather than my own sinful agenda.

4. What God seems to be looking for is a response that applies His point of view to our situation.

5. When we honor Godís perspective we can expect the results to be life-giving and fruitful.