49. The Lord’s Anointed (1)

Meditations in 1 Samuel  49. The Lord’s Anointed (1)

1 Sam 24:6,7    He said to his men, “The LORD forbid that I should do such a thing to my master, the LORD’s anointed, or lift my hand against him; for he is the anointed of the LORD.” With these words David rebuked his men and did not allow them to attack Saul. And Saul left the cave and went his way.

We come to the first of two similar events in which David displays a remarkable attitude towards authority and conveys, I believe, a very significant lesson to us. To see and understand this we have to note the circumstances: After Saul returned from pursuing the Philistines, he was told, “David is in the Desert of En Gedi.” So Saul took three thousand chosen men from all Israel and set out to look for David and his men near the Crags of the Wild Goats.” (v.1,2)  This simply follows on from the passage we have previously considered where David was only saved from being caught by Sauk by news brought to Saul that the Philistines were attacking the land and he needed to go and deal with them.

We then come to a very human account: “He came to the sheep pens along the way; a cave was there, and Saul went in to relieve himself. David and his men were far back in the cave. “ (v.3) There is obviously a very large cave where David and his men take shelter when Saul turns up with his army, quite unaware that they are there. In what follows this would appear to take a little time and it may be that Saul has hung his robe over a rock and then gone a little further into one of the niches in the cave to do what he needs to do. David’s men see this as an opportunity to kill Saul and do away with their problems: “The men said, “This is the day the LORD spoke of when he said to you, `I will give your enemy into your hands for you to deal with as you wish.’ “ (v.4a) Now David won’t go this far but, perhaps provoked by his men, he sneaks up quietly and cuts a portion off the bottom of Saul’s robe and creeps back into the inner recesses of the cave again: “Then David crept up unnoticed and cut off a corner of Saul’s robe.” (v.4b)

But then we find a remarkable response in David to what he has just done: “Afterward, David was conscience-stricken for having cut off a corner of his robe.” (v.5) and he explains what he feels to his men: “He said to his men, “The LORD forbid that I should do such a thing to my master, the LORD’s anointed, or lift my hand against him; for he is the anointed of the LORD.” (v.6) Now in this, this man after God’s own heart states a principle which he will expand upon later when a similar thing happens. He sees Saul as the Lord’s anointed and as such he will not do anything at all against him, either to harm him or demean him.  We might say, well God has rejected Saul but as far as David is concerned the Lord anointed Saul to be king and until the Lord changes that, that is how it is; he will not lift a hand against him.

I believe this can be translated into a principle by which the man or woman of God has to abide by: where God has raised up an authority, it is for God to remove it, not us. This should not be taken to extremes to say we should not vote a politician out of office, but that we should respect the office, even if the man or woman gives us cause to question them. When it comes to spiritual leadership although I am sure that not all that purports to be spiritual leadership in the church actually is, where it is clear that God has raised up a spiritual leader, we should heed David’s lesson. We may have questions over a man’s ministry or his lifestyle but that allows us no leeway to gossip about him or her behind their back, or even start a campaign to bring them down. Our call is to respect them and pray for them and we rob ourselves of the Lord’s blessing if we harbour wrong attitudes towards our leaders.  I have known instances of those who had problems with their fathers as children and who have therefore grown up with wrong attitudes towards men and towards authority generally. If we recognise that has been our experience, unless we receive counsel and help, we remain in a very vulnerable position where the enemy can cause immense upset in us and in the church generally.

So we find, “With these words David rebuked his men and did not allow them to attack Saul. And Saul left the cave and went his way. “ (v.7) But David doesn’t leave it there, he lets Saul know what has happened: “Then David went out of the cave and called out to Saul, “My lord the king!” When Saul looked behind him, David bowed down and prostrated himself with his face to the ground. He said to Saul, “Why do you listen when men say, `David is bent on harming you’? This day you have seen with your own eyes how the LORD delivered you into my hands in the cave. Some urged me to kill you, but I spared you; I said, `I will not lift my hand against my master, because he is the LORD’s anointed.’” (v.8-10) There he reiterates this principle yet again – I will not lift my hand against the Lord’s anointed.

He continues, See, my father, look at this piece of your robe in my hand! I cut off the corner of your robe but did not kill you. Now understand and recognize that I am not guilty of wrongdoing or rebellion. I have not wronged you, but you are hunting me down to take my life. 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. As the old saying goes, `From evildoers come evil deeds,’ so my hand will not touch you.” Against whom has the king of Israel come out? Whom are you pursuing? A dead dog? A flea? May the LORD be our judge and decide between us. May he consider my cause and uphold it; may he vindicate me by delivering me from your hand.” (v.11-15) He explains his stance more fully and receives a positive response from Saul (v.16-21)

His words and his attitude have convicted Saul. If we come with gentleness and humility to express our concerns to those who worry us in spiritual authority, then we can leave it in the Lord’s hands to convict them and bring change. If they will not change, then we leave them to Him to deal with them. He will hold them accountable. Rest in that. Failure to rest in that reveals things in you that need to change.

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