Have you ever been in a situation where it would be be easier to do one thing, and most people would agree with you, and you could even find Biblical support for that direction, but you know in your heart it’s not the right way to do things? I’m sure we’ve all been there. But even though we know something isn’t the right direction, it’s awful tempting to do it anyway, especially if it means things are easier on us or if it involves our safety. It takes a lot of courage to make that harder choice. But this is what God would have us do.
The men of David said to him, “Behold, this is the day of which the LORD said to you, ‘Behold; I am about to give your enemy into your hand, and you shall do to him as it seems good to you.'” Then David arose and cut off the edge of Saul’s robe secretly. It came about afterward that David’s conscience bothered him because he had cut off the edge of Saul’s robe. So he said to his men, “Far be it from me because of the LORD that I should do this thing to my lord, the LORD’S anointed, to stretch out my hand against him, since he is the LORD’S anointed.” – 1 Samuel 25:4-6, NASB
David was running for his life. His men were running right along side of him. If Saul died, then Jonathan would likely be the one the people would try and make king. Except Jonathan already knew David was to be king and would have seen to it that David was crowned. Logically, Saul had declared himself David’s enemy and it would be well within the expectations of war for David to take Saul by surprise and slay him. There is Biblical precedent for this. Abraham attacked in the night to free Lot. Gideon launched his strike in the darkness, too. But David held back. He did not kill Saul. He even felt guilty for snipping off a piece of Saul’s robe. After all, he could have just as easily struck Saul down, and he knew it.
So David and Abishai came to the people by night, and behold, Saul lay sleeping inside the circle of the camp with his spear stuck in the ground at his head; and Abner and the people were lying around him. Then Abishai said to David, “Today God has delivered your enemy into your hand; now therefore, please let me strike him with the spear to the ground with one stroke, and I will not strike him the second time.” But David said to Abishai, “Do not destroy him, for who can stretch out his hand against the LORD’S anointed and be without guilt?” – 1 Samuel 26:7-9, NASB
A second opportunity presented itself. Some would take this is as a sign that they chose wrongly the first time. But not David. He knew the direction he needed to go. So he turned down the opportunity yet again. Yes, it meant he put his own safety second. And yes, it meant he put the safety of his men second, too. But he did it because he knew in his heart what God would have him do.
I said earlier that it required incredible courage, and it did. It meant having to face his men and saying, “I know this would be easier for all of us, but I know God wants us to leave Saul alone.” And that’s what he had to do. And that’s what he did. It also meant he had to keep running. It meant facing the reality that he would remain in danger. But by faith he chose not to harm Saul. He knew because of what God had already said, he was going to be okay. We can take a similar approach. As a Christian, I know what is to come is better than what is here right now. I know that I’m here because I still have a job to do. Hard or not, I need to make the decision God would have me make. I need to shoulder the responsibility He asks me to carry. I may desire something else, but what God desires is most important. After all, if we want to talk about shouldering loads, He shouldered my sins upon His own frame. What could He ask of me which could compare to that?
I know this is easier said than done. I’ve struggled with the hard decision, too, and sometimes I have knowingly chosen wrongly. Sometimes I have put my own comfort ahead of the right choice. But as I mature in years and as my faith in Christ has deepened, I have come to better understand that there’s more risk in the “easy’ choice than there ever is in the hard one. Consider for a second if David had raised his hand against Saul. Remember that Jonathan wasn’t Saul’s only son. There were two others (1 Samuel 31:2). Plus there were Saul loyalists. By taking out Saul, how many might have risen up against David? In Saul David only had to face one enemy and one army. Had he slain Saul, who knows how many there would have been? And it’s considerations like these that help me more and more to put my desires aside and make what appears to be the harder choice.