Summary: Exposition of 1 Sam. 24
How to Defeat Your Enemies
A reporter was interviewing an man on his 100th birthday, and asked, “What are you most proud of?” “Well,” said the old man, pondering the question, “I don’t have an enemy in the world.” “That’s quite an achievement!” said the reporter. “Yep,” added the old man, “I’ve outlived every last one of them.”
Not many of us get through life without collecting an enemy or two. You try your best to get along with everybody, but some people just won’t cooperate. Misunderstandings, miscommunications, and bad blood can put us at odds with others. Some people just plain don’t like you, and what’s more, they never will like you. You might not be too crazy about them, either, but somehow you have to face the fact that even good people have enemies.
Friends come and go, but enemies accumulate.- Chuck Swindoll
How do you deal with your enemies? How can you handle someone who is out to get you, who would like nothing better than to get the best of you? This morning, I want to share with you a shocking secret, one that you might not expect to find in the Bible- I want to talk to you about how to defeat your enemies. I want to show you how to get the best of those who hate you, how to leave them speechless, how to send them packing. This secret unfolds in the story of a confrontation between two enemies: David and King Saul, found in 1 Sam. 24.
I. TAKE EVERY OPPORTUNITY TO SHOW YOUR ENEMY MERCY (v. 1-8)
When World War I broke out, the War Ministry in London telegraphed a coded message to one of the British outposts in Africa which read: “War declared. Arrest all enemy aliens in your district.” The War Ministry received this reply: “Have arrested ten Germans, six Belgians, four Frenchman, two Italians, three Austrians, and an American. Please advise immediately who we’re at war with.”
The war here is between the forces of King Saul and David, Saul’s son-in-law. Saul is one of those enemies that just doesn’t give up. He almost got David back in chapter 23, but an attack by the Philistines sent him running home to defend his kingdom. As soon as that threat is taken care of, he regroups to pursue David. He tracks him to an area known as En Gedi= rocks of the wild goats, meaning rocks only a goat could navigate. He doesn’t know it, but he’s closer to David and his men than he realizes. Now prepare yourself: this story gets a little graphic here, but God tells it like it is, so I will too. Saul and his men arrive at some sheep pens near a cave, and Saul has to stop. Why? In v. 3 the KJV says he has to cover his feet. The NKJV =attend to his needs. Both of these are polite ways of saying that the King had to go to the bathroom, and since Port-O-Potties had not been invented yet, a cave was as good a place as anyplace. As Saul enters the cave to do his business, we find out that David and his men are already in the cave, keeping just out of sight in the darkness.
Do you get the picture? King Saul, going to the bathroom, surrounded in the darkness by his enemy’s army. Let’s just say this is not a good position for Saul to be in.
David’s men see a perfect chance to solve the Saul problem. Quietly, oh so slowly, David creeps up to Saul, who is totally unaware of what is happening. David takes out his knife, raises it, and then—cuts off a corner of Saul’s robe. Wait a minute! David’s men whisper that’s not exactly what we had in mind! Let us get that close and we’ll take care of him for good! But David feels guilty even for cutting of the piece of cloth. This man is God’s chosen king! Nobody has the right to disgrace him, much less kill him. Nobody touches the king! David shows mercy to Saul not just for Saul’s sake, but for God’s sake. David defeats his enemy not through murder, but through mercy. Would Saul show mercy to David? No, but that just shows the difference between a man after God’s own heart and a man who has turned his back on God.
This is how you defeat your enemy- when he/she is at their weakest, most vulnerable moment- when they are helpless and unaware, when you have the opportunity to take revenge, to make them pay- show them mercy. Spare them; save them; forgive them. Why?
First of all, Jesus commands you to:
Luke 6:27 “But I say to you who hear: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you…