By this point, David has been fleeing from Saul - driven in exile from his wife, friends and home - for years. Running from city to city, valley to valley and cave to damp, smelly cave, he has always been one step ahead of the murderous king. During all that time, neither has laid eyes on the other and they play this protracted game of cat and mouse.
Then, one morning, David’s men sound the alarm. Saul’s men, 3,000 elite troops, had been sighted at the entrance to the valley. Rushing, David and his men hunker down in a cave. Everyone is quiet - they are outnumbered, and if discovered there is no escape from their hiding place. Time moves slowly as they wait and see if they’ve been found.
Suddenly they hear a noise. A figure walks into the cave. As they see who it is, their hearts plummet into their stomachs - they’ve been found! It's over! Men quietly reach for their swords and whisper prayers as they steel themselves for their fatal last stand. But then… Saul turns the other way. No men follow him in! Instead of ordering a massacre the King… well, the King starts going to the bathroom.
King Saul was alone.
David had a decision to make. His enemy, this man who had betrayed him, hunted him and chased him around Judea for years, was at his mercy. David just had to say a word - slit one throat - and this long nightmare would have all been over. After all, that’s definitely what Saul would have done if their roles were reversed.
But David refuses. He refuses to order the murder of his King. He refuses to take revenge - to pay back evil with evil - and instead does the harder, right thing.
Like David - well, maybe not exactly like David - we have people who treat us unfairly. Perhaps your parent or teacher raises their voice when they shouldn’t have. Maybe a “friend” gossips about you behind your back, spreading a secret they had sworn to keep quiet. Your story might be a great deal worse than these, and someone has done something truly horrible to you in your past.
When we are wronged by others, it is tempting to give into revenge - to pay them back in kind. We begin to look for opportunities to slide in the knife with a well-timed insult, a refused favor, or a juicy bit of gossip we can spread about them. This desire for revenge is perfectly natural, but profoundly wrong. Christ calls us instead to “love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your Father who is in heaven.” (Matt. 5:44-45 NIV) Like David, we are called to show kindness and, yes, even love to those who show us hatred.
How do you respond when someone treats you badly? Do you rush to retaliate? Do you look for ways to repay them in kind? Ask God to help you to let go of your grudges, and instead look for ways to show His love to those who have done you wrong.