Bible Readings for September 2nd
In 1 Samuel 24, David had his first opportunity to strike down Saul when Saul relieved himself in the cave where David had been hiding. There, David refused to reach out his hand against Saul, since Saul was Yahweh’s anointed king (1 Sam. 24:6). Here again in 1 Samuel 26, David does not take the opportunity to strike down Saul while Saul and his men are under a deep sleep from Yahweh (1 Sam. 26:12). In today’s meditation, we will consider these stories not from David’s perspective but from Saul’s.
First, David’s mercy toward Saul brings Saul to sorrowful repentance in both stories as he considers David’s righteousness in light of his own unrighteousness. So, in 1 Samuel 24:17, Saul freely confessed to David, “You are more righteous than I, for you have repaid me good, whereas I have repaid you evil.” Then, in today’s reading, Saul confesses again, “I have sinned….Behold, I have acted foolishly, and have made a great mistake” (1 Sam. 26:21). David continues to fear that Saul might seek to kill him (1 Sam. 27:1), but Saul never again seeks an opportunity against David (cf. 1 Sam. 27:4).
Second, these two events confirm Saul’s deepest fears: that David would become king over Israel. In 1 Samuel 24:20, Saul had said, “And now, behold, I know that you shall surely be king, and that the kingdom of Israel shall be established in your hand.” Now, in 1 Samuel 26:25, Saul says, “Blessed be you, my son David! You will do many things and will succeed in them.” Rather than despairing, Saul asks David to swear that he will not destroy the rest of Saul’s offspring when he takes the throne: “Swear to me therefore by the LORD that you will not cut off my offspring after me, and that you will not destroy my name out of my father’s house” (1 Sam. 24:21).
The tragedy here is that, while Saul has knowledge of the fact that Yahweh has chosen David as king, and while Saul gives intellectual assent to that idea, he continues to rebel against Yahweh and Yahweh’s anointed. Theologians have helpfully explained that saving faith requires more than knowledge and intellectual assent, but also trust.1 In other words, it is not enough to know and to assent to the idea that Jesus came to save sinners in general; I must actually trust that Jesus came to save me. Without trust, a person’s faith is not saving faith.
Do you know the gospel and assent to its truths intellectually? If so, do you also trust that Jesus Christ came, lived, died, and rose from the dead for you? Do not follow in the faithless footsteps of Saul—believe trustingly on the Lord Jesus Christ, and you will be saved (Acts 16:31).
1 In Latin, notitia (knowledge), assensus (assent), and fiducia (trust). See, e.g., R. C. Sproul, “3 Distinctive Aspects of Biblical Faith,” July 31, 2013, http://www.ligonier.org/blog/what-faith/. Accessed July 20, 2015.
Scripture quotations are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a division of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.