“Now it happened afterward that David's heart troubled him because he had cut Saul's robe. And he said to his men, ‘The Lord forbid that I should do this thing to my master, the Lord's anointed, to stretch out my hand against him, seeing he is the anointed of the Lord’" (1 Samuel 24:5-6).
As David continues to flee from Saul’s jealous rage, David hides out in a cave in the Wilderness of En Gedi (1 Samuel 24:1). Saul pursues David to this area, but is unaware that David and his men are hidden in the cave. He goes to “attend to his needs” (i.e. “goes to the bathroom”) in the cave. This presents a “perfect opportunity” for David to kill Saul and for David to relieve himself of this continual threat that Saul has posed on his life (1 Samuel 24:2-3). David’s men strongly encourage him to take advantage of this opportunity and kill Saul. Although David has the opportunity to kill Saul, he only cuts off a corner of Saul’s robe (1 Samuel 24:4).
However, as the opening verses above indicate, as soon as David did this his heart troubled him. He realizes he had stretched his hand against God’s anointed. He acknowledges that he had thoughts of trying to execute vengeance against King Saul. Saul had been anointed by God to be king over Israel. After having cut off the corner of Saul’s robe, David conscience bothered him because he felt it was God’s place to execute vengeance, not his (1 Samuel 24:5-6).
David will have additional opportunities to kill Saul (e.g. 1 Samuel 26:1-25), but he restrains himself from doing so. He turns to God to look for justice for himself against King Saul. On a later occasion David will say regarding seeking vengeance on Saul, “"As the Lord lives, the Lord shall strike him, or his day shall come to die, or he shall go out to battle and perish. The Lord forbid that I should stretch out my hand against the Lord's anointed…” (I Samuel 26:10-11). David knew that somehow, someway, God would see that David was given justice against Saul. However, David would not allow himself to raise his hand against the one whom God had anointed.
What would I have done if I were in David’s shoes? I admit it would be a strong temptation to want to avenge myself against this madman chasing me all over the country even though God had anointed him to be king! I would have a strong desire to want to put an end to Saul’s continually creating havoc in my life!
Do you ever struggle with thoughts of vengeance? It is difficult to watch some of the events in the world and see all the injustice that happens and not want to step in and destroy those who cause these things to happen. For example, it is difficult to hear of a child being abused and not have thoughts of vengeance of wanting to kill the person who is causing the abuse. However, is it my place to exact vengeance?
I rejoice that God doesn’t expect me to execute vengeance. He expects me to commit vengeance to him. Today, I will strive to guard my heart from the temptation to execute vengeance on my enemies!
“Repay no one evil for evil. Have regard for good things in the sight of all men. If it is possible, as much as depends on you, live peaceably with all men. Beloved, do not avenge yourselves, but rather give place to wrath; for it is written, ‘Vengeance is Mine, I will repay,’ says the Lord. Therefore ‘If your enemy is hungry, feed him; If he is thirsty, give him a drink; For in so doing you will heap coals of fire on his head.’ Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good” (Romans 12:17-21).