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1 Samuel 24-26: The Good Hands of God Print E-mail
1 Samuel
Sunday, 02 July 2017
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Every July 4th, the citizens of America celebrate their freedom and independence. They chose this day because it is when ďThe Declaration of IndependenceĒ was signed in 1776. This document was written to proclaim our independence from Great Britain. The final line reads: ďAnd for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes and our sacred Honor.Ē The writers and signers knew that such a declaration was treason, but they believed it to be the right action to take and they moved forward ďwith a firm reliance on the protection of divine Providence.Ē They believed that if they were in fact doing the right thing, then the Lord would see it through to the end. They entrusted themselves to the good hands of God.

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Of course, they were not the first to trust in Godís sovereign protection. In our chapters this morning from 1 Samuel we see David refusing to take matters into his own hands because he trusts that the Lord will bring about His purposes. Over and over again we hear David talking about not using his hands against Saul, the one who was trying to kill him. Why did he refuse to do this? David believed that he could trust in Godís good hands to bring about His promises, specifically His promise to make him king. In our time together this morning, I just want us to consider Davidís trust in Godís good hands.
David entrusts himself to God by not killing Saul (ch. 24)

1 Samuel 23 ends with Saul being distracted from his pursuit of David by the Philistines. Apparently the distraction did not last very long. As soon as he got back from dealing with Israelís enemies, he turned his attention back to David. He gets word of where David is hiding out and takes three thousand men to hunt him down. Yet, something providential happens. Saul just so happens to go and use the bathroom in the very cave that David and his men are hiding. The men see this as a sign. Look at verse 4a. They believe that God has arranged these circumstances so that David can kill Saul and take the kingdom for himself. But that is not what David does. Look at verses 4b-7. David cut off the edge of Saulís robe, which would have been an act of rebellion against the king. He was sorry for that and told his men that he would not kill Saul because he was the Lordís anointed as the king of Israel. He tells them that he will not put out his hand against Saul and he convinces them not to hurt him as well.
After Saul leaves the cave, David decides to confront him. Look at verses 8-15. David uses this episode to prove to Saul that he is not trying to kill him. He tells him repeatedly that his hand shall not be against you. David trusts that the Lord will give him the kingdom and that he must not take it from Saul by force. To harm the Lordís anointed would be sin for David and he refuses to act in such a sinful away against Saul. The king is amazed at Davidís kindness. Look at verses 17-21. David is waiting on the Lord to keep His promise to make him king. He refuses to take matters into his own hand and even wicked Saul recognizes how righteous he is. Amazingly, Saul acknowledges that David will one day be king and he asks him to spare his family, a promise that David will eventually keep.
David entrusts himself to God by not taking vengeance on Nabal (ch. 25)

After we are told of Samuelís death in 25:1, a sad day for all of Israel, the scene switches to Davidís encounter with mismatched couple. The writer tells us that the man is very wealthy with many sheeps and goats. Yet, his character is lacking. Look at verse 3. Nabalís wife, Abigail, is clearly being contrasted with her husband. While he is foolish and badly behaved, she is discerning and beautiful. All of this is the backdrop to their encounter with David.
David and his men have been running and hiding from Saul for a while now. When they get desperate for food and provisions, David decides to ask Nabal for some help since he is wealthy and his men have protected him in the past. But Nabal refuses to help. Look at verses 10-11. David had helped Nabal but he was not about to return the favor. So David decided to take him out. Look at verse 13. David is set on vengeance and Nabal is in serious trouble.
But someone intervenes. Look at verse 14. The servant tells Abigail that Nabal refused to help Davidís men even though they had helped him. He criticizes his master and warns Abigail, knowing that speaking to Nabal will be fruitless. And Abigail acts. She prepares food and provisions for Davidís men and sends them ahead of her. Then she sets out to go and speak with David. Look at verses 23-31. Abigail delivers a powerful plea to David to spare Nabalís life, not because her husband is deserving but because it would be wrong for David to take vengeance with his own hands. And David agrees. Look at verses 32-33. David thanks Abigail and praises the Lord for keeping him from using his own hands to seek vengeance. Now we must note that David needed help to trust the Lord in this instance. If left to himself, he would have killed Nabal and all his men. But when he heard the words of Abigail, he realized that he was wrong. The Lord used her to keep David from trusting in himself, just as the Lord uses others in our lives to do the same. Sometimes we just need a discerning friend to remind us to trust the Lord!
How does this encounter play out? David listens to Abigailís plea and she returns to her husband. When she tells him what has happened between her and David, we are told that his heart died within him, possibly referring to him having a stroke. Then the writer adds: And about ten days later the Lord struck Nabal, and he died. David praises God for his justice and goes on to take Abigail to be his wife, a proposal that she humble accepts. Instead of taking matters into his own hand, David entrusted himself to the Lord and God proved to be faithful.
David entrusts himself to God by not killing Saul, again (ch. 26)

The story in chapter 26 seems like a repeat of chapter 24, so much so that some believe that they are just retellings of the same story. Yet, that doesnít make sense when you actually read the accounts. Yes, there are many similarities, but there are marked differences as well.
It begins in the same way with Saul pursuing David in one of his hideouts. But this time Saul doesnít stumble into Davidís cave. Rather, David finds out where Saul is sleeping and decides to see if he can get into the camp. Look at how the story plays out in verses 6-8. Again, David is tempted to take matters into his own hand and take out Saul. But David refuses. Look at verses 9-11. David trusts that the Lord will deal with Saul, as He had dealt with Nabal. David does not know how God will handle the situation, but he trusts in the Lord nevertheless. Of course you might be wondering: ĎHow in the world did they get to the king without being heard or spotted?í Look at verse 12. Still doubt the Lordís control over all things? He is protecting David and continuing to bring about His plans and His purposes.
After they get a safe distance away, David decides to confront Saul again. Only this time he begins with Abner, the one who was supposed to be protecting Saul. He chastises him and the whole army for not protecting their king. Then he speaks with Saul. Look at verse 18. David again proclaims his innocence before Saul. He could have killed Saul easily, but he refused. He would not lift up his hand against the Lordís anointed. The king once again feigns repentance and tells David that he is sorry. David responds in verses 22-24. Look at those with me. David understands that God had given him this opportunity to take matters into his own hand. God had given David another chance to take the kingdom from Saul. But David trusted that the Lord would deal with Saul because it was not right for him to harm the Lordís anointed. He believed that God would deliver him from his enemies and make him the king of Israel. He entrusted himself to the Lordís good hands.

Are you in good hands this morning? I cannot ask that question without thinking of a particular insurance company (that shall not be named). Their commercials stress all of the terrible things that can happen in life and then leave you with that question: are you in good hands? David believed that he was. He entrusted his life and circumstances to the Lord. He knew that God would give him the kingdom and he knew that that meant the death of Saul. But he also knew that it was wrong for him to kill him, so he refused to harm the Lordís anointed. He trusted in Godís good hands. His greater Son would do the same. When Jesus lived on the earth, Satan tempted Him to forego the plans of the Father, skip the cross with its suffering and shame, and just enjoy the kingdoms of this earth. But Jesus wouldnít go for it. He would only serve and obey His Father, even though that meant His death on a cross for our sins. He entrusted Himself to God, which is why He prayed when He was breathing His last: ĎFather, into your hands I commit my spirit!í (Luke 23:46). Jesus believed in the Fatherís plan. He knew that it was the only way to redeem sinful people to Himself. He trusted the Father and gave His life for our sins at the cross. And the Father rewarded Him by raising Him from the dead on the third day, proving that the Father is worthy of our trust and obedience. The good hands of God has made a way for us to be forgiven and conformed into the image of Jesus. It is not an easy or comfortable path. Sometimes it can feel like we are on the run, hiding out in caves. But we can trust the Lordís plan, even when obedience is hard. He will see us through. And if He has promised us that we will reign with Him forever through faith in Jesus, then we can trust Him to bring that about, no matter what is happening in our lives. With the Lord, you are always in good hands. Amen.

~ William Marshall ~

Last Updated ( Thursday, 13 July 2017 )

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