CHARACTER… the dictionary says its the ‘account of the qualities or peculiarities of a person or thing’. From a biblical standpoint, we speak of character of righteous men and women, who do what is right…for the right reason.
God has determined what is and is not permissible for our lives. HIS code of behavior does not shift with the cultures. His never changes.
To be a person of character, we must FIRST submit ourselves to God’s code of behavior. We have to agree with Him that His ways are right, whether we understand, don’t understand or misunderstand! His ways have to be our ways! And THEN we have to follow His ways….because it is right.
David had character. While we were in Israel, we got the chance to go to En Gedi. I was so thankful for the handbook that one of the team members, Susan, put together for us, because before we left, I couldn’t remember the real significance for this place….so I looked it up…
En Gedi is on the western shore of the Dead Sea. The mountains are limestone and have many caves and caverns. This would have been a good place to hide if you were running from the law..and here we find David and his men…
1 Samuel 24:1-7 “When Saul came back after dealing with the Philistines, he was told, “David is now in the wilderness of En Gedi.” Saul took three companies – the best he could find in all Israel – and set out in search of David and his men in the region of Wild Goat Rocks. He came to some sheep pens along the road. There was a cave there and Saul went in to relieve himself. David and his men were huddled far back in the same cave. David’s men whispered to him, “Can you believe it? This is the day God was talking about when He said, “I’ll put your enemy in your hands. You can do whatever you want with him.” Quiet as a cat, David crept up and cut off a piece of Saul’s royal robe. Immediately, he felt guilty. He said to his men, “God Forbid that I should have done this to my master, God’s anointed, that I should so much as raise a finger against him. He’s God’s anointed!” David held his men in check with these words and wouldn’t let them pounce on Saul. Saul got up, left the cave, and went on down the road.”
Wow! David is in the cave with about 600 of his men and Saul picks that particular cave to relieve himself? (when you gotta go, you gotta go!) David’s men are saying, “FINALLY! GET HIM!”
But David (the little jokester) decides to creep up and cut off a chunk of his robe. I don’t know if he was snickering to himself, or what exactly he was thinking but as soon as he did it…..he wished he hadn’t. His conscience got the better of him and he knew it was wrong. It was wrong because it made the king look bad. It was wrong because showed a lack of respect. It was wrong because it wasn’t David’s place to get even and it was wrong because Saul was still God’s appointed. This was practically vandalism….it was an attack on Saul and an attack on Saul’s right to be king.
Ultimately we have no control over life. We wish we did…but we have no control over people that talk or treat us unfairly. But we DO have control over how we respond! So we know what David could have done, and what he didn’t do. He had the chance to kill Saul, but he didn’t take it.
1 Samuel 24:8-15 “Then David stood at the mouth of the cave and called to Saul, ‘My master! My King!’ Saul looked back. David fell to his knees and bowed in reverence. He called out, “Why do you listen to those who say, ‘David is out to get you’? This very day with your very own eyes you have seen that just now in the cave God put you in my hands. My men wanted me to kill you, but I wouldn’t do it. I told them that I won’t lift a finger against my master – he’s God’s anointed. Oh my father, look at this, look at this piece that I cut from your robe. I could have cut you – killed you! – but I didn’t. Look at the evidence! I’m not against you. I’m no rebel. I haven’t sinned against you, and yet you’re hunting me down to kill me. Let’s decide which of us is in the right. God may avenge me, but it is in His hands, not mine. An old proverb says, “Evil deeds come from evil people.’ So be assured that my hand won’t touch you.”
First of all, David didn’t seek revenge because he respected Saul’s authority over him. It wasn’t because Saul didn’t treat him right, but that he deserved respect because of his position. When my son, Bret, was in the marine corp, I’m sure there were many times he didn’t want to salute his commanding officer….but he did. Because of his position.
Second, David didn’t seek revenge because he was willing to let God absolve him. In verse 15, David says that he will let God judge between the two of them. By the way…..God is waaay better at it than we are.
And thirdly, David didn’t seek revenge because he wasn’t going to stoop to Saul’s level. Remember in verse 13 where he quotes a proverb? “Evil deeds come from evil people”….ouch….Revenge gets you dirty and makes you go over the hurt again and again.
David had character. D.L. Moody says, “Character is what a man is in the dark.” That’s what I want….