August 12

His Word Trumps Circumstances

I Samuel 24:2-7 Then Saul…went to seek David and his men…. So he came to…where there was a cave; and Saul went in to attend to his needs. (David and his men were staying in the recesses of the cave.) Then the men of David said to him, “This is the day of which the LORD said to you, ‘Behold, I will deliver your enemy into your hand, that you may do to him as it seems good to you.’” And David arose and secretly cut off a corner of Saul’s robe. 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.”

What a set-up for David! King Saul had been trying to kill him for years. One day David and his men were in the far recesses of a cave when in comes King Saul to relieve himself. Surely God had delivered Saul into David’s hand! At least that is what his men told him: “This is the day….”

Wasn’t it providence that brought Saul into that cave that day? Couldn’t we conclude that God was delivering Saul into David’s hand? Wouldn’t it be just and right for David to defend himself by dispatching Saul right now; after all, Saul had attempted to kill David in the past, and was in the middle of a scouting expedition to kill him even now. And hadn’t the prophet Samuel already anointed David as the future king? Getting rid of the man trying to kill him would be justified by nearly everyone, and would have the added advantage of “moving things forward” in David’s ascent to the throne.

But there was something more powerful than logic, or legal justifications, or even the appearance of an “open door” or circumstances that have all lined up. It was the simple word of God. Without going into a complicated word study, “the Lord’s anointed” at this point in time referred to the king or a patriarch. David recognized that Saul, in spite of his actions, was chosen by God in his role as Israel’s king, and that he, David, had no right to injure him. No action by Saul, no set of circumstances could persuade David to violate a law of God that he had so deeply internalized. He was even “troubled” by having cut off a corner of Saul’s robe!

The reality of the situation was not that Saul was being delivered to David, his eventual successor. That’s what his followers wrongly thought. The reality was that God was testing David’s heart, and he passed the test. We see the same principle expressed later in I Samuel 26, 2 Samuel 1 and many psalms written by David. Perhaps part of David’s great success as a king hunted by so many for so long was his own respect for God’s law.

It’s easy to be deceived by circumstances that appear to our benefit. But God’s word always trumps our circumstances. Whether it’s one of the 10 Commandments or simply the demands of love, we can walk in the wisdom of God when we live by His word. Circumstances can confuse. God’s word is, instead, “a lamp unto our feet” (Psalm 119:105), making our path clear through any set of circumstances.

Prayer: Father, I am easily swayed at times by circumstances. Help me to live by Your word and the principles I find there. May I have Your word deeply in my heart, like David, that I may not sin against You (Psalm 119:111).