As you hike up to David Falls in En Gedi, Israel, past the same caves and cliffs that David, Saul and countless others have hiked past, it isn’t hard to imagine how David hid from Saul. What is hard to imagine is how they came to be in the same cave, close enough to harm one another.
1st Samuel, chapter 24, tells us that Saul, alone and without protection, enters the same cave where David is hiding. Despite the urging of his men, David does not kill the unsuspecting Saul; instead he cuts a corner from Saul’s cloak, and while even that act causes guilty feelings, by not harming Saul he stays in God’s will, and is content to wait for God’s timing in his life.
1st Samuel 24: 4 – 6
“Now’s your opportunity!” David’s men whispered to him. “Today the Lord is telling you, ‘I will certainly put your enemy into your power, to do with as you wish.’” So David crept forward and cut off a piece of the hem of Saul’s robe. But then David’s conscience began bothering him because he had cut Saul’s robe. “The Lord knows I shouldn’t have done that to my lord the king,” he said to his men. “The Lord forbid that I should do this to my lord the king and attack the Lord’s anointed one, for the Lord himself has chosen him.” 1 Samuel 24: 4 – 6 (NLT)
God’s Timing Versus Man’s Timing
The Bible tells us that for most of his life, David was a humble man, a seeker of God. He was content to let God be God. He understood that God’s will and plan is perfect. David certainly wasn’t against fighting, we know he led a fighting force, battling the Philistines, killing Goliath and other enemies of the Israelites, but he chose not to take this opportunity to harm Saul, a man who was obsessed with the demise of David. On this day, David understood that God was in charge. Too often we take matters into our own hands instead of trusting God. So, how should we know when to act and when not to act?
First, does the opportunity square with God’s word? David was well-versed in the scriptures and commandments, he studied God’s word diligently, valued God’s instructions and applied them to his life. Participating in Bible Studies and attending worship regularly will give us the tools we need to apply God’s Word to our decisions.
Second, take time to pray, most opportunities don’t need to be taken right away, so talk to God and ask Him to make it clear whether it’s your will or His will. David was constantly in contact with God. The Psalms are jam-packed with conversations between David and God. In the Psalms we see how to talk with God about everything in our lives.
Third, what do your Godly friends say? That particular day, David was without his close Godly companions like Jonathan. The men with him were probably not those he counted among his Godly friends, and they simply jumped at the chance without any thought of how assassinating Saul would affect David’s future reign as king. In that culture, Saul’s family would have plotted constantly against David’s court and family. Had David been able to ask his friend Jonathan, he would have been given advice that was in line with God’s Word.
Think It Through
Fourth, think through the long-range consequences. We need to deliberately set Godly boundaries for ourselves, boundaries that are there for the duration. Early on in his conflict with Saul, David had set an absolute boundary of not harming God’s chosen one. As King, David would have never been able to unite the 12 tribes into one nation if he had killed Saul. For most of his life, David chose to seek God’s face, to be the man that God wanted him to be, a man after God’s own heart with clean hands to do His work.
Seeing Is Believing
In the caves of En Gedi, David totally relied on God and put his faith into action. As you hike past those cliffs and caves, the Biblical accounts of David and his faith in God becomes a real thing, not just a “feel-good” story.
No matter how hard we try, we cannot accurately visualize what the places in the Bible look like. The “Kidron Valley” brings to mind the large valleys in Central California. The Bible accounts Jesus walking up to Jerusalem for feast days makes us think of the Rocky Mountains. Nothing could be farther from the truth in either case! Although it is “up” to Jerusalem, it isn’t the Rockies, and the Kidron Valley could fit in one Napa Valley vineyard. According to many, 83% of us learn through sight and it is remarkable what happens to your study of God’s word once you have set eyes on His Holy Land.