Picture this: You’ve just proven your innocence beyond the shadow of a doubt towards one who repeatedly insists that you are full of guilt and malice for them. They even weep at their own blind, hateful , and unprompted malice towards you. But, a few short weeks or months go by and they’re at it again – accusing you falsely, pursuing you as you mind your own business, and seeking your very life. What do you do?
Well, if you’re anything like David, you take a principle precept from medical ethics called, “primum non nocere,” meaning, “first, do no harm,” and you run you with it.
In 1 Samuel 26:1-5, we find that Saul was again searching for David, seeking his life. David had just previously proved his obvious innocence with the cutting of Saul’s robe and Saul had just wept over his own guilt! So much for genuine repentance! Anyway, David was still living in the wilderness and trusting God alone to inaugurate him as king as he had promised. Saul can’t seem to find David anywhere, but David knows exactly where Saul is. Let’s see how David uses his God-given advantages over Saul.
Then David said to Ahimelech the Hittite, and to Joab’s brother Abishai the son of Zeruiah, “Who will go down with me into the camp to Saul?” And Abishai said, “I will go down with you.” 7 So David and Abishai went to the army by night. And there lay Saul sleeping within the encampment, with his spear stuck in the ground at his head, and Abner and the army lay around him. 8 Then Abishai said to David, “God has given your enemy into your hand this day. Now please let me pin him to the earth with one stroke of the spear, and I will not strike him twice.” 9 But David said to Abishai, “Do not destroy him, for who can put out his hand against the Lord’s anointed and be guiltless?” 10 And David said, “As the Lord lives, the Lord will strike him, or his day will come to die, or he will go down into battle and perish. 11 The Lord forbid that I should put out my hand against the Lord’s anointed. But take now the spear that is at his head and the jar of water, and let us go.” 12 So David took the spear and the jar of water from Saul’s head, and they went away. No man saw it or knew it, nor did any awake, for they were all asleep, because a deep sleep from the Lord had fallen upon them. ~1 Samuel 26:6-12
Clearly, David has the upper hand here. More accurately, he has God’s hand. He is not afraid to act in self-defense. David chooses one man to accompany him and they go to Saul’s camp. God causes a deep sleep to come over Saul and all his men and David is given yet another opportunity to murder Saul and end this unfair personal conquest against himself. But David remains innocent. He honors conscience above self-interest and he lets God decide when vengeance and relief should come for him.
David does no harm.
He steals Saul’s spear and his water jug and he leaves.
Some seasons find the Enemy pursuing us relentlessly and for no apparent reason. Day and night find us under attack. Nevertheless, if our trust is stayed upon Our God, we always have the upper hand – God’s hand – even if externals appear otherwise. Let us remember that God has said “It is mine to avenge; I will repay.” Let us value innocence over safety and conscience over self-interest as David did. Let us do no harm, save proving our own lack of hostility for the guilty. Let us not see the long, lonely wilderness as a hopeless place of despair, but a land of great opportunity and personal growth. Amen.