Summary: A look at the issue of forgiving others through the example of David and King Saul. David had every right to kill Saul, instead he trusted God to deal fairly with him.
Forgiveness - David and Saul
By Brad Dyrness
The story of kings David and Saul is a case study in forgiveness. Few places in the Bible, with the exception of God’s forgiveness to us through Jesus Christ, do we find such a living example.
The story starts out with Saul – chosen by God to fulfill the people’s desire to have a king like all the other nations. Saul had self-esteem issues from the very beginning. They found him hiding in the luggage.
Even though he was tall, dark and handsome, and most of the people shouted “Long live the king!”, there were some who didn’t think he was the right guy for the job.
Saul had a temper, which early on was used to give him passion for what the Lord had called him to do. He also had a soft side and held no animosity towards those who questioned his leadership.
As time and circumstances went on, Saul began to show his weaknesses. He often went by his own agenda and didn’t fully seek the Lord’s direction. He had trouble waiting for the Lord’s timing, too. Saul began to put himself above the Lord and made decrees without the Lord’s counsel.
One day, while they were in the midst of a battle, Saul commanded them not to eat. This weakened the soldiers and his own son, Jonathan, ate some honey. Saul was willing to kill him over it, but the men would not allow it.
Saul did see some great days as a king, though. Even then he did not follow the Lord’s leading and, eventually, found himself on the outs with God and rejected by Him.
Later, only offering lip service to God, Saul disobeyed a direct command and pretended to follow God, but did so only as a show! He and Samuel’s conversation went like this:
1 Sam. 15:21-22 - The soldiers took sheep and cattle from the plunder, the best of what was devoted to God, in order to sacrifice them to the LORD your God at Gilgal. (rather than killing them as the Lord commanded.)But Samuel replied: “Does the LORD delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices as much as in obeying the voice of the LORD? To obey is better than sacrifice…”
That was the end for Saul, though he remained king for several more years. God was already making other plans.
Samuel was sent, by the Lord, on a dangerous mission - to find a replacement while Saul is still in power. Samuel feared for his life.
You no doubt have heard this part of the story. Samuel picked David, the youngest of Jesse’s boys, and anointed him as the next king. 1 Sam 16 says, From that day on the Spirit of the LORD came upon David in power.
While Saul doesn’t know about God’s choice of David, he’s having a rough time. He is dealing with what many people believe is depression. He also has a GIANT named Goliath breathing threats down on him.
David deals with the giant and, by no fault or encouragement of his own, develops a following which shout things like:
“Saul has slain his thousands, and David his tens of thousands.”
This doesn’t sit well with Saul; jealousy nearly makes him sick. He takes a spear and flings it at David while David was playing the harp for him.
Saul feared David and sent him out to battle with only a few men. But even with those few men, David had great success. All of Israel and Judah loved David.
David eventually married Saul’s daughter. Jonathon, Saul’s son, warns David. Saul tries to kill him with a spear again, but David, with the help of his wife, escapes.
Jonathon is nearly killed for asking about David and David has to go into hiding. Without food and a place to call home, David wanders the wilderness. He has to pretend he’s insane to protect himself. Saul kills 85 priests and their families who helped David.
David goes on the run again and is hiding in the wilderness from Saul’s wrath.
Then the opportunity arises for David to do something about his situation. While Saul was occupied with something else, David crept up on him and cut the corner of his robe off. He could have killed him, but David refuses. Even cutting his robe made David feel guilty.
Then David says, in 1 Samuel 24:12, May the Lord judge between you and me. And may the Lord avenge the wrongs you have done to me, but my hand will not touch you.
Later Saul gives David’s wife to another man and David has another chance to kill Saul… Saul apologizes again. 1 Sam 26:21 - I have sinned…
1 Sam 30:6 - David was greatly distressed because the men were talking of stoning him; after their families were taken captive.