the Week of Proper 20 / Ordinary 25
Charles Spurgeon's "Morning & Evening"
“Overcome evil with good.”
1 Samuel 24:1-7 , 1 Samuel 24:17-19
1 Samuel 24:1
Everybody was ready to act as a spy upon David. The saints of God are always watched by the world, and this should make them all the more careful in their conduct.
1 Samuel 24:2
Though signally disappointed on former occasions, the envious king must needs be at his cruel work again. No matter where David might conceal himself or how quiet he might remain, Saul would not let him alone. Envy can never be quiet till it has glutted its revenge.
1 Samuel 24:3
These vast cavernous places could within their dark recesses conceal vast numbers so completely, that an individual might come and go, and never know of their presence.
1 Samuel 24:1
Our best friends will mislead us if we let them. In this case, with the best intentions, David’s followers urged him on to murder, but grace restrained his hand.
1 Samuel 24:4 , 1 Samuel 24:5
Good men tremble at doing little wrongs, where others delight in committing great crimes.
1 Samuel 24:7
Dr. Kitto, in his Daily Bible Illustrations, forcibly describes the scene, and that which followed it: “Although under the influence of the master-hand which held back the fierce outlaws, Saul was suffered to escape unscathed from that dangerous cave, David was willing to secure some evidence of the fact that Saul’s life had been in his power. He therefore approached him softly as he slept, and cut off the skirt of his robe. No sooner, however, did Saul arise and leave the cavern, and his men begin to laugh at the ridiculous figure the sovereign presented in his skirtless robe, than David’s heart smote him for the indignity he had been instrumental in inflicting on the royal person. Yielding to the impulse of the moment which again was right, though it might have been in common calculation, most dangerous, he went boldly forth to the entrance of the cave, and called to the king as he descended into the valley, ’My lord, the king!’ Well did the king know that voice. A thunderclap could not have struck him more. He looked up, and David bowed himself very low, in becoming obeisance to his king. He spoke. In a few rapid and strong words, he told what had happened he described the urgency he had resisted he held up the skirt in proof how completely had been in his hand the life he spared saying, ‘I have not sinned against thee; yet thou huntest my life to take it. The Lord judge between me and thee; and the Lord avenge me of thee: but mine hand shall not be upon thee.’ Behold, now that stern heart is melted. The hard wintry frosts thaw fast before the kindly warmth of his generous nature. Saul weeps; the hot tears the blessed tears, fall once more from those eyes, dry too long.”
Dear Saviour, should our foes defame,
Or brethren faithless prove
Then, through thy grace, be this our aim,
To conquer them by love.
Kept peaceful in the midst of strife,
Forgiving and forgiven;
O may we lead the pilgrim’s life,
And follow thee to heaven!
“I will sing and give praise.”
David was ever ready to express his gratitude, and when he had escaped from Saul, he took care to praise the Lord with a new song. He then wrote Psalms 57
which is entitled
To the chief musician, Al-Taschith, Michtam of David, when he fled from Saul in the cave
Al-taschith signifies “destroy not,” probably in allusion to his refusing to destroy Saul.
One would have thought he would have said, “My heart is fluttered;” but no, he is calm, firm, happy, resolute, established. When the central axle is secure, the whole wheel is right. If our great bower anchor holds, the ship cannot drive “O God, my heart is fixed.” I am resolved to trust thee, to serve thee, and to praise thee. Twice does he declare this to the glory of God who thus comforts the souls of his servants. It is surely well with each one of us if our once roving heart is now firmly fixed upon God and the proclamation of his glory. “I will sing and give praise.” Vocally and instrumentally will I celebrate thy worship. With lip and with heart will I ascribe honour to thee. Satan shall not stop me, nor Saul, nor the Philistines. I will make Adullam ring with music, and all the caverns thereof echo with joyous song.
It is as if he had said, “Let the noblest powers of my nature bestir themselves: the intellect which conceives thought, the tongue which expresses it, and the vivid imagination which beautifies it let all be on the alert now that the hour for praise has come.
‘Awake, psaltery and harp.’ Let all the music with which I am familiar be well attuned for the hallowed service of praise. ‘I myself will awake early.’ I will gladden the dawn with my joyous music. No sleepy verses and weary notes shall be heard from me; I will thoroughly arouse myself for this high employ.”
When we are at our best we fall far short of the Lord’s deserts; let us, therefore, make sure that what we bring him is the noblest production of our powers. If it be marred with infirmity, let it not be deteriorated by indolence. Three times the psalmist calls upon himself to awake. Do we need so much arousing, and for such work? Then let us bestir ourselves, for the engagement is too honourable and too important to be left undone, or to be done in a slovenly manner.
Right up from man’s low estate to heaven’s loftiness mercy reaches. Imagination fails to guess the height of heaven, and even thus the riches of God’s mercy exceed our highest thoughts. The psalmist as he sat at the cave’s mouth, and looked up to the firmament, rejoiced that God’s goodness is vaster, and more sublime than even the vaulted skies.
A grand chorus: let us take it up with all our hearts, and lovingly adore the all glorious Lord.
My heart is fix’d, my song shall raise
Immortal honours to thy name;
Awake my tongue, to sound his praise,
My tongue, the glory of my frame.
Be thou exalted, O my God,
Above the heavens, where angels dwell;
Thy power on earth be known abroad,
And land to land thy wonders tell.