While David was in the wilderness of Ziph, to his great surprise, he heard that King Saul was coming after him again. He could hardly believe his ears, after what had happened before in the wilderness of En-gedi at the cave0, where he had spared Saul's life when he had the power to kill him!
This David had done to show the king how he had no intention of ever harming him.
David had thought that from then on there would be no more trouble between them, yet here was Saul pursuing him again as he had done so many times before.
But this time, to make quite sure the story was true, "David ... sent out spies, and understood that Saul was come in deed."
Saddened by the news, David wrote the beautiful prayer now found in the 54th Psalm: "Save me, O God, by Thy name, and judge me by Thy strength. Hear my prayer, O God; give ear to the words of my mouth. ... Behold, God is mine Helper: the Lord is with them that uphold my soul."
This time David and his men did not flee. Instead, in the dead of night, they crept toward the place where Saul and his soldiers were encamped. Closer and closer they moved until they could make out the very place where Saul and Abner, his chief captain, were sleeping.
Saul, they noticed, was in the center of the camp, in the midst of the baggage. Abner was near him, while the rest of the soldiers lay on the ground all around them.
Everyone was fast asleep, "because a deep sleep from the Lord had fallen upon them." Not a sound was to be heard save the snoring of some of the soldiers, and the occasional bray of a donkey.
Suddenly David whispered to two of his bravest men, "Who will go down with me to Saul to the camp?"
"I will," said Abishai.
Without a thought of the terrible risk they were taking, the two brave men crept forward. What if a dog should bark? What if a sentinel should see and wake the camp? They would not stand a chance!
They slipped carefully into the camp of the enemy until at last they found Saul, sound asleep. Beside him was his spear, stuck in the ground, near his pillow, and a cruse of water beside it.
As Abishai looked down at the man who had given David and his men so much trouble, he longed to kill him then and there. "Let me smite him, I pray thee, with the spear even to the earth at once," he whispered to David, "and I will not smite him the second time."
But David would not let him do it. "Destroy him not," he said, "for who can stretch forth his hand against the Lord's anointed, and be guiltless? ... As the Lord liveth, the Lord shall smite him; or his day shall come to die; or he shall descend into battle, and perish."
So once more he showed his faith that God knew best how to deal with Saul.
Then, with the same trace of mischief which he had shown in the cave when he cut off part of Saul's garment, he whispered to Abishai, "Take thou now the spear that is at his bolster and the cruse of water, and let us go."
As silently as they had come, the two men crept out of the camp.
"Then David went over to the other side, and stood on the top of an hill afar off; a great space being between them."
It must have been very early in the morning, for when he shouted nobody answered. Everybody in the camp was still asleep.
Then he called again, across the valley, at the top of his voice, "Answerest thou not, Abner?"
Abner got up, very much out of sorts.
"Who art thou that criest to the king?" he roared.
"Art not thou a valiant man?" taunted David. "And who is like thee in Israel? wherefore hast thou not kept thy lord the king? ... Now see where the king's spear is, and thy cruse of water that was at his bolster. As the Lord liveth ye are worthy to die, because ye have not kept your master, the Lord's anointed."
"Who is it?" Abner muttered, still waking. "What's he talking about?"
But Saul knew David's voice, and called back, "Is this thy voice, my son David?"
"It is my voice, my lord, O king," he said.
Then again David asked the question he had asked so many times before, "What have I done? Or what evil is in mine hand?"
When Saul saw his spear and the cruse of water in David's hands, and realised that David must have been by his bed that night, he said, "I have sinned: return, my son David: for I will no more do thee harm, because my soul was precious in thine eyes this day: behold, I have played the fool, and have erred exceedingly."
That was the truest thing Saul ever said. The pity was, he said it too late.
David, as ready as ever to forgive, called back, "'Behold the king's spear!' and let one of the young men come over and fetch it." The king was grateful. "Blessed be thou, my son David," he said. "Thou shalt both do great things, and also shalt still prevail."
Only the Love of God is strong enough to have done that. But it showed David's true desire to have peace with his king. And through this daring demonstration of love came the happy end to a long quarrel.
David and his men went to Gath, and Saul "sought no more again for him."
King David was not by any means a perfect man, in fact, he was at times one of the World's worst sinners, but he was also one of the greatest saints. Because he'd been forgiven for so much, it became easier to have compassion & forgiveness for others.
That's why David said of the Lord, "Thy gentleness hath made me great." (Psalm18:35)
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