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David and Saul

David and Saul

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Published by glennpease
i Sam. xxiv. 1-22.
i Sam. xxiv. 1-22.

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Published by: glennpease on Aug 24, 2012
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DAVID AD SAULBY GEORGE H. MORRISOPassage to be read : i Sam. xxiv. 1-22.DAVID and his band were wandering amonor thehigh cliffs that look down on the Dead Sea, whenthis most touching incident occurred. In thelimestone crags of the district there are many caves,some of them ample enough in their recesses to shelterlarge bodies of men. A traveller indeed tells us that inone of them, which lies some twenty miles from En-gedi,no fewer than thirty thousand people once hid them-selves to escape the suffocating blast of the simoom. Tothis day, too, around the mouth of these caves, hundredsof the sheepcotes mentioned in the chapter may be seen.Loose stones are piled up around the entrance of thecave till a rough wall is formed in a semicircle ; this isthen covered with thorns as a protection against ma-rauders and wild beasts, and during times of storm, or bynight, the sheep find safe housing in the cavern. It hasbeen noted, further, that these caverns are dark as mid-night. One can see oiitzvard clearly, but to see four pacesinward is impossible, and all that must be borne in mindif we would wish to realise our chapter. Let the youngfolk, also, be interested in En-gedi — the old Hazezon-tamar where the Amorites dwelt (Gen. xiv. 7). I wonderif they could find the verse which says, 'My beloved isunto me as a cluster of samphire in the vineyards of En-morning] DAVID AD SAUL 173gedi.' And though there are no vines at En-gedi now, Ihave read that in the stirring times of the Crusades, thebest vineyards in Palestine were found there. Such isthe scene and setting of this peerless incident.
 
T this neighbourhood, then, Saul is pursuing David,guided by the highlanders from Ziph (xxiii. 19).And one day, tired with his morning's march in therough country, the king withdraws for a short rest in oneof the dark caves on the hill-side. There he lies downto sleep, with his royal cloak lightly thrown across hisfeet, and he little dreams that in the side-hollows andchambers of his resting-place David and his men arehidden. There is no mistaking the rank of the intruder.His towering height would betray him in an instant, if his jewelled armour and the deference of his retinuefailed to do it. The sleeper is Saul. God has deliveredthe arch-enemy into the hands of justice. There runs awhisper through the dark vaults and passages that thegreat hour of David's life is come — and perhaps for amoment David thinks the same. One stroke withGoliath's sword — and he is king. But a glance at thesleeper's face revives the past, obliterates the bittermemories of wrong, recalls the hour when he first stood,a ruddy shepherd-lad, in the presence of the Lord'sanointed. He cannot kill him. His tender and gallantheart forbids the murder. ' The Lord forbid that Ishould do this thing unto my master, the Lord'sanointed.' Then he stoops down, over the heart thathates him so, and with a deft stroke severs the goldenfringe of the royal cloak. What means that stirring andquick breathing round the cave ? It is David's followerseager to rise and slay. But David stays them — crushesthem down, the word is ; and Saul rises up out of thecave and goes his way. David was never more truly aking than when he refused, in En-gedi, to grasp thecrown. And then how David goes out and cries on Saul,174 DAVID AD SAUL [24TH SUDAYand how Saul's heart is moved, even to tears — all thatforms the unequalled close of an unequalled chapter.
 
1V[ O W there are three great lessons for us here, and thefirst is the unexpectedness of temptation. I am certainthat when David rose that morning he little thoughtwhat midday had in store for him. If you had told himthat before the sun had westered, the life of Saul wouldbe lying at his mercy, he would have held it as an idletale. Swiftly and unexpectedly, without a hint or warn-ing of any kind, he was face to face with terrible tempta-tion ; and it is one of the great devices of the tempterstill, that he tries to take us captive by surprise. Drum-mond tells how once he was present at a students' duelin Germany, and he observed that one of the two com-batants had only a single form of stroke — downwardsfrom the head. But suddenly, at the thirteenth round,his eye flashed, and with a rapid movement he changedhis stroke, and brought his sword upwards, cleaving thechin of his opponent. How did it happen .? It was thesudden change of direction ; and temptation veers un-expectedly like that.'T^HE next lesson is that near cuts are not God's. Davidhad been anointed by Samuel and had received thepromise of the kingdom. You can understand then whata short and certain road to sovereignty offered itself tohim as he stooped down over the sleeping king. ButDavid felt (and I think he was the only one in the cavewho felt it) that that road was not a highway of Jehovah.Such near cuts to his destiny were not of God. Do younot think that our Lord felt that too? It was a shortand easy way to universal kingship that Satan offeredHim, when he showed Him all the kingdoms of theworld. But Jesus, whose glorious destiny was to beuniversal king, scorned, as a temptation, that near road,and took the long and sorrowful way to it by Calvary.And we are tempted in the same way still. When wethink we can attain to Christian character without thesteady growth and progress of the years ; or when in

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