Picking Our Battles

Yesterday in Men’s Bible Study we looked at the two opportunities David had to take the life of Saul. In both cases he didn’t do it. And not only that, he also prevented his men from taking out Saul. Now they were just as much as at risk as David. They were running for their lives just as he was. But David, as a leader, was able to convince and persuade them not take the life of the man who wanted him dead. Not only was he an outstanding leader, but they knew he had his reasons. And they respected those reasons.

David was no fool. He didn’t trust Saul. He knew better. But that’s not to say David didn’t still try to restore the relationship and do what was right. Perhaps that’s why the men followed David, even though he proposed the harder road of letting Saul live and dealing with the consequences. A good example of David’s character is seen the second time around, after David has snuck out of the camp with a spear and a water jug that were right by Saul. He calls out to Abner, commander of Saul’s forces. He rebukes Abner for letting his guard down. Had it been an enemy and not David, Saul would have been killed. Saul overhears the conversation (as David was shouting from across the way) and comes out and David has something very interesting to say to him:

“The LORD will repay each man for his righteousness and his faithfulness; for the LORD delivered you into my hand today, but I refused to stretch out my hand against the LORD’S anointed. – 1 Samuel 26:23, NASB

David could have taken Saul’s life. He recognizes that God had given Saul into his hand. It was his choice. And this meant David could have killed Saul and been fine with God. But while God presented David with the choice, in David’s heart, the better one was to leave Saul alive. After all, he was God’s anointed (so was David). God had set him apart. Though Saul had shown himself to be less than holy in his actions, that didn’t matter to David. He was still set apart by God and David wouldn’t raise a hand to harm him. How could he make such a choice? Interestingly, the answer is found in the conversation with Abishai, David’s man who was with him and who wanted to take Saul’s life. David said to him:

David also said, “As the LORD lives, surely the LORD will strike him, or his day will come that he dies, or he will go down into battle and perish. – 1 Samuel 26:10, NASB

David was relying on God to provide the vengeance. It wasn’t David’s place. While God gave him the opportunity, David realized God was the only one who could administer justice perfectly. So he chose not to kill Saul. This reminds me of the following situation:

When they came to Capernaum, those who collected the two-drachma tax came to Peter and said, “Does your teacher not pay the two-drachma tax?”

He said, “Yes.” And when he came into the house, Jesus spoke to him first, saying, “What do you think, Simon? From whom do the kings of the earth collect customs or poll-tax, from their sons or from strangers?”

When Peter said, “From strangers,” Jesus said to him, “Then the sons are exempt.

“However, so that we do not offend them, go to the sea and throw in a hook, and take the first fish that comes up; and when you open its mouth, you will find a shekel. Take that and give it to them for you and Me.”

– Matthew 17:24-27, NASB

It’s interesting because that Jesus chose not to fight this battle. And it’s also interesting as to why He doesn’t fight it. He chooses not to offend. But ultimately, He’s also teaching a lesson of God’s provision. Jesus gives Peter very specific instructions on how to come by the tax money. And of course, God provided.

One of the things we talked about yesterday is sometimes God gives us a choice. Sometimes we can take care of a situation within our own power. David certainly could have. And I’m sure Jesus and Peter would have found a way if it was absolutely necessary. But in both cases, the battle wasn’t fought. Both men chose to rely on God to deliver the answer. They stood on their faith, not on their own ability.

I think that’s an important lesson for us, too. We need to rely on God more, even if it’s within our capacity to solve. The thing we have to be careful of is not relying on our own strength all the time but rather trusting God to solve it in a better way. But we also have to be careful not erring the other way where we sit back and say, “God will take care of it,” when God is saying, “You’re absolutely right. I’m asking you to step up.” How do we know the right way to go? We pray. We seek the counsel of other godly men and women. We seek the answer in the Scriptures. And we take a careful look at our circumstances. God will provide the answer as to how to proceed. We just have to be ready to hear it. And sometimes it means sitting on our hands and letting God work, even though we could do it ourselves. But if we do, what we may find is that when God handles it, He does so in a way that goes completely beyond our abilities. And as a result, we see a greater blessing than if we had just gone and taken care of it. Are you fighting battles today that God will fight for you? If so, even if you can win them on your own, let go and let God.

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