OVERCOMING EVIL WITH GOOD – 1 Samuel 23:24                                              

"And he (Saul) said to David, "You are a better man than I am, for you have repaid me good for evil." 1 Samuel 24:17

1 Sam. 23: 1-4- David teaches us to constantly ask the Lord for direction and not just in our quiet times. After he heard from the Lord his men did not want to obey so David wisely asked the Lord again to make sure he heard correctly. Feedback from people can be part of the process of hearing rightly from the Lord. (See Gen. 21: 8-13) The second time he prayed, the Lord even promised them victory. "Should not a people inquire of their God?" (Isaiah 8:19; also see Matt. 7:7-8; James 4:2-3) Yes, and all the time. God speaks to His people. (John 10:27)

Here David was up to his neck in trouble fleeing from Saul to save his life and yet he is willing to serve his country and fellow Israelites with such a small army. In contrast Saul's sinful anger in chasing after David put his country at risk.

1 Sam. 23: 7-12 – No good deed will go unpunished. Can you believe the people whom David just rescued would turn him over to Saul?  Betrayal! So David prays again and the Lord speaks this time through the Urim and Thummim  (v.9) and warns David of their betrayal and they escaped.

Now the Ziphites inform Saul about David's hiding places and just as Saul and his army were closing in there is word that the Philistines are attacking and they have to leave their pursuit to fight the Philistines. Sounds like God set this one up.

1 Sam. 24: 1-4 – This is such an amusing incident as Saul goes in a cave to "relieve himself" (cover his feet -KJV) he happens into the very cave where David and some of his men are. David literally caught Saul with his pants down but to his credit he did not kill him. His men tried to convince David that God had set this whole thing up but David later rebuked them. David was even conscience stricken for cutting off part of Saul's robe. A tender conscience before God is a great deterrent for sin. (1 Tim 1:18-19)

David demonstrates a great respect for authority whereas Saul was just the opposite and thus God removed him as King. "He said to his men, "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." (1 Sam. 24:6) This is a big issue with God as seen throughout Scripture. We are called to submit to human God-ordained authority in many ways and places: To government – Romans 13: 1-7; wives to husbands – Eph. 5:22-24; children to parents – Eph 6: 1-3; in business – employees to employer – Eph. 6: 4-8; with spiritual leaders in the Body of Christ – Heb. 13:17 . The flesh hates authority as seen in Romans 8: 7-8.

"Now I want you to realize that the head of every man is Christ, and the head of the woman is man, and the head of Christ is God." (1 Cor. 11:3) Jesus always submitted to His Father's will/authority. "Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus: Who, being in very nature God,  did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made himself nothing,  taking the very nature of a servant,  being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death- even death on a cross!"  (Phil. 2: 5-8) There is a pattern in the Trinity of unity, diversity, equality and leadership and submission that is the source of true Biblical authority for spiritual leaders. Thus we must be under God's authority through God-ordained leaders or we cannot exercise spiritual authority ourselves. Leaders who have trouble submitting to authority will usually have trouble exercising spiritual authority. (E.g., King Saul) Yet spiritual authority is necessary to accomplish God's purposes for those we influence. (See my June 2003 newsletter)

In Christ and through Him we have the power to forgive even our worst enemy as modeled by David. .He forgave the man who was trying to murder him. "Because he (Jesus) himself suffered when he was tempted, he is able to help those who are being tempted." (Heb. 2:18) Temptation in itself is painful and our Lord, Who never sinned, felt the pain of temptation many times and far greater temptation than we will ever experience. Thus He both sympathizes with us (Heb. 4:14-16) and brings us victory in temptation as we call on Him for deliverance.

"Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everybody. If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. Do not take revenge, my friends, but leave room for God's wrath, for it is written: "It is mine to avenge; I will repay," says the Lord. On the contrary: "If your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink.  In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head."  Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good." (Romans 12: 17-21) Spiritually, those who seek revenge are the conquered and those who forgive are the conquerors.       


"Should not a people inquire of their God?" (Isaiah 8:19; also see Matt. 7:7-8; James 4:2-3) Yes, and all the time. God speaks to His people. (John 10:27) Do you personally hear from God? Discuss your answer.

Do you feel you respect and submit to God-ordained authority as seen in Scripture and modeled by the Lord Jesus Himself? Do you believe that submission is the way to receive God's spiritual power for influencing others? Discuss your answer. (See Phil 2: 5-11)

Have you ever had to forgive an enemy? Do you know that God can empower you to not only forgive him/her but also do good to them? "But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you." (Matt. 5:44)

Is there someone you need to forgive?

"Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says. Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like a man who looks at his face in a mirror and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like. But the man who looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues to do this, not forgetting what he has heard, but doing it-he will be blessed in what he does." (James 1:22-25) It is in doing God's Word, not in just hearing it, that we are blessed. What action will you take to apply these truths to your life?

Scripture memory verse: "And he (Saul) said to David, "You are a better man than I am, for you have repaid me good for evil." 1 Samuel 24:17

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