(1 Samuel 22) The Portrait Hall: The Broken and the ‘Breaker’
In this split portrait a contrast of two men could not be clearer. On the one hand, David was being restored to the Lord and returning to his senses after a long time of fear and torment that led to poor choices and lies. This portrait marks a time of repentance and change for him. On the other hand, King Saul became more threatened and irrational, refusing to repent and soften before the Lord that placed him in power. The contrast is great and the choice could not be clearer, harden and fight God or soften and follow Him!
Key Principle: Our life is about choices. When the choices are wrong, confession and change is the key to restoration!
King Saul fed his pain with more bad choices. He did not stop and repent and come close to the Lord. Instead he found himself:
- Believing false assumptions: Saul heard about David and the men gathered to him (22:6) as he sat at Gibeah clutching his spear. He began to openly question the loyalty of the subjects by his side, openly assuming those who were following David were bribed by promises (22:7).
- Making false accusations: Saul moved from speculation about how David got a following to open accusations of disloyalty for not disclosing Jonathon’s alliance with David (that every indication in the text was they did not know – 22:8a). Saul even indicated that Jonathan was the one that set Saul up (8b)!
- Dwelling in self pity: Saul wanted the pity of his compatriots, though his life was surely much better than any of the listeners (22:8b)!
- Listening to wrong counselors: Doeg offered true words but they were clearly in the context of an out of control and paranoid king. Doeg makes special mention of the sword that David was given, and the “salt” was poured into the wound when he mentioned “Goliath” – a source of jealousy in the past! (22:9-10)
- Acting Rashly with Injustice: Saul brought in the priests of Nob to answer for their aid to David. They had no way to know that David was not telling them the truth! Yet, the men paid with their lives (22:11-16).
- Failing to heed moral barriers: The men around King Saul knew that killing the priests was wrong, yet their reticence was not heeded by Saul. Instead, he sought someone that was willing to deaden any pricking of the conscience, and Doeg killed 85 priests, and then turned to Nob to kill their families indiscriminately. (22:17-19).
On the other hand, David had made his share of mistakes, and had turned back to the Lord. Surrounded by men that could have pulled him further from God (22:2), he decided to cease striving and turn his face back to the Lord. He found himself:
- Protecting those around him: This was not easy! Included in this group were no doubt bitter brothers whose life and career was severely interrupted by their younger brother’s fallout with the king (22:1 and 3a)!
- Seeking God’s direction: (22:3b): We observed in our last study that David wrote a song to the Lord at this point (Psalm 34) and restarted a heart of praise. He was not sure of his future, but he was sure that God was going to reveal it to him.
- Obeying God’s Word: He listened to the words of God’s prophet (22:4-5) and moved ahead in obedience!
- Taking Personal Responsibility: David didn’t skirt his personal responsibility for the lies that cost the priests and their families their lives. He owned up and then took steps to protect others that needed protection! (22:21-23).
Remember, our life is about choices. When the choices are wrong, confession and change is the key to restoration!