Upon Saul’s having proved that he wasn’t worthy of being anointed by God for the kingship of Israel, he still clung to that position in his unrighteousness. Disobedience to God took Saul down the path of greater disobedience. He did what was right in his own eyes, but little of it was Godly in any way. Once he strayed from doing what was right, it became easier for him to continue doing what was wrong. The voice of Saul’s conscience – placed in him by the Holy Spirit of God – became dulled. That connection with the ways of God was severed over time, and wickedness inevitably ensued. This is what happened with Saul.
When God’s Spirit departed from Saul, an evil spirit took His place. Instead of listening to what Yahweh desired, Saul heard the demonic voice and obeyed it. That voice whispered in his ear that David was against him and desired to usurp the kingship from him. In reality, of course, Saul’s position had already been stripped by the Lord. Still, God’s plans for David hadn’t yet come to fruition, and He allowed Saul to remain as king. During this time, with the urging of the evil spirit oppressing him, Saul purposed to chase down David to kill him.
Scripture describes numerous encounters the two men had as Saul attempted to eliminate the one he viewed as his rival and the absolute threat to his kingdom. Through it all, God protected David. In the process, God also gave David the opportunity to prove his allegiance to His ways, and he came through them with flying colors.
In one such instance, Saul went into a cave to relieve himself. By **coincidence** David and his men happened to be hiding in the depths of that very cave. David’s men urged him to take advantage of the situation by killing Saul, so as to be done with all that they’d been enduring. Instead, David cut off a piece of Saul’s robe. When Saul departed the cave, David followed him. At a distance he revealed to Saul, by showing him this piece of his robe, how he easily could have killed him.
David had an unusual – to us – perspective. Since God had initially anointed Saul, it was up to Him to remove him. David had likewise received God’s anointing, but his belief was that since Saul remained as king, it wasn’t his place to kill him. However, David also knew that Saul wasn’t operating under the good graces of God. In the exchange after David took the piece of the robe, he quoted a saying in 1 Samuel 24:13 that applied to the situation:
“As the proverb of the ancients says, ‘Out of the wicked comes wickedness.’ But my hand shall not be against you.”
This wasn’t a proverb that David penned, but we see the general principle in many other verses of Scripture. Proverbs 6:12-15 says:
A worthless person, a wicked man,
goes about with crooked speech,
winks with his eyes, signals with his feet,
points with his finger,
with perverted heart devises evil,
continually sowing discord;
therefore calamity will come upon him suddenly;
in a moment he will be broken beyond healing.
Psalm 34:21 tells us:
Affliction will slay the wicked, and those who hate the righteous will be condemned.
Wickedness begets wickedness. David understood this. He knew that God would judge between him and Saul. His job was to walk in the ways of the Lord – in righteousness. Calamity would come upon Saul in God’s timing.
In the verbal exchange between them, the Spirit of truth came over Saul and he declared what he had denied for so long. 1 Samuel 24:20 records his acknowledgement of what was inevitable:
“And now, behold, I know that you shall surely be king, and that the kingdom of Israel shall be established in your hand.”
Righteousness will always prevail because it is God’s nature for it to do so. It may appear as if wickedness will rule the day, but God’s intent will inevitably come to pass. The timing for God to prevail over evil isn’t usually that which we desire, but it’s always for the good. David knew this, and he lived it.
We would do well to absorb this lesson from David. These latter days in which we’re living are exceptionally trying. We see the condition of man’s heart with the evil that has resulted in the world, and it grieves us. But God will prevail. His timing is perfect.
Our task is to follow hard after the Lord – even as David did – and He will deliver us when that perfect timing is realized.