We typically think of David as the anointed shepherd boy who defeated the Philistine giant. Or, if not that, we move quickly to the thought of David as the King of Israel, a man after God’s own heart. Or, if you’re really showing off, you might even think of David as the prolific psalmist.
However you think of David, you probably don’t immediately think of him hunkered down in a cave, fleeing for his life from the man who originally employed David into his service as a source of calm and comfort.
And yet, here we are in 1 Samuel 24. For context, Saul had grown to despise David. His jealousy raged against David as the anointed-king-in-waiting. He wanted David dead, evidenced by multiple attempts to make David into a piece of wall art with his spear.
But it’s here in 1 Samuel 24 that David is finally presented with an opportunity to rid himself of the man who had brought much difficulty upon his life. Part of us wants David to go ahead and take care of the problem. Would you blame him? At the very least, you could argue on the grounds of self-defense that David would’ve been justified in doing so.
But, instead, David spares the life of his enemy–certainly not because there was anything good in his enemy but because of a righteousness that was in David (1 Samuel 24:17).
All of this kind of reminds me of another story, a bigger story. The one where God spares the lives of his enemies (Romans 5:10)–certainly not because there was anything good in them but because of the righteousness that was given to them on the account of his son (2 Corinthians 5:21).
As it turns out, David really was a man after God’s own heart.