So often in our lives, we struggle with hearing God’s voice in our lives. God speaks to us and leads us in many ways. He may do so through the people around us giving us advice that comes from him. He may do so through our circumstances, bringing opportunities into our lives. He may do so through books we read or podcasts we hear. Or he may do it through his still, small voice. But the main way he leads us is through his Word. And whenever you feel like he’s speaking to you through one of these other ways, you should always test it by his Word. Because God doesn’t contradict himself, and he won’t tell you to do something that is contrary to his Word.
That’s what David had to deal with in this passage. Here were David and his men huddling in fear in a cave. They see Saul and his men just outside the cave, and they’re probably thinking, “This is it. We’re dead. Saul knows we’re here. We’re trapped. What are we going to do?”
But instead of Saul’s entire army approaching the cave, only Saul does. And to their shock and perhaps amusement, Saul starts to “relieve” himself.
As they’re watching this, David’s men say to David,
This is the day the Lord spoke of when he said to you, ‘I will give your enemy into your hands for you to deal with as you wish.’ (verse 4)
What were they talking about? Did God really say that to David? We certainly don’t see it anywhere in the Bible. It could be they interpreted Samuel’s prophesy that he would be king to mean that David would kill Saul.
Or, it could be that they were saying, as the alternative reading in the NIV puts it,
Today, the Lord is saying, ‘I will give your enemy into your hands for you to deal with as you wish.’
In other words, “Hey! This is an opportunity from God! He’s giving you the chance to kill your enemy here and now!”
What must have been running through David’s mind in that moment?
“Yeah! This must be from God. He led Saul straight to me. I can put an end to this!”
So at the urging of his men, he crept up to Saul. But even as he did so, his conscience started to strike him. And so instead of killing Saul, David cut off a corner of his robe. But even that caused David’s conscience to prick him.
He went back to his men and said,
The Lord forbid that I should do such a thing to my master, the Lord’s anointed, or lift my hand against him; for he is the anointed of the Lord. (6)
And he spared Saul’s life.
Here it seemed that God was leading David by circumstance. That God was giving him a chance to kill Saul. All of David’s men agreed. “God’s telling you to kill Saul!”
But David refused. Why? Because it went against what he knew God had commanded the people. First, “You shall not murder.” And second, because Saul was the anointed king, David was to honor him as such.
How often do we mistake our will for God’s? How often do we misinterpret our circumstances to mean God wants us to do something?
How can it happen? It can happen if we are ignorant of what God has already said in his Word. Do you want to know God’s will in your life? Do you feel God is directing you to do a certain action? Then compare what you’re feeling or what you’re hearing to what God has already said. If it matches, then move forward. If it doesn’t, then know that it’s not God’s leading. It’s just someone’s opinion. Or coincidence. Or perhaps, God is testing you to see if you will truly obey him in everything.
But whatever the case may be, let us be like David and ask, “Did God really say that?” And let us test all things, holding fast to what is good. (I Thessalonians 5:21)