The Good Eye – David and Saul

The Good Eye – David and Saul

The Good Eye – David and Saul.

David lived from around 1040 to 970 BC.  He may be the most famous character in the Hebrew Bible, with the possible exception of Moses. We certainly know more about him than any other biblical character. He was hand-picked by God to be anointed as King while still a young shepherd boy. He succeeded in slaying the giant Goliath while a young man, already a formidable warrior. He was a skilled musician sent to comfort the troubled, depressed King Saul. He was a fugitive running for his life as King Saul turned the tables and tried to kill him in rage and jealousy. He was finally confirmed King of Israel after Saul died. He ruled as King until his son Solomon takes the throne. David wasn’t shy, he tended to be extreme and blatant in his actions. He wore his heart on his sleeve, and the Bible doesn’t try to hide any of his flaws or weak moments. It appears that David was a man of big appetites… God, war, women. He was utterly devoted to God, but he made big mistakes. He took another man’s wife in an act of adultery, and had that woman’s husband killed, for which David paid dearly. Whenever he fell into sin, he confessed, asked forgiveness, faced the consequences, and tried to learn from his mistakes. He rarely repeated his moral blunders. He was a great king, for instance, but he was a terrible parent. His family life was in shambles, but his nation was in great shape. Because of his many psalms, we know he was a man who rejoiced, lamented, prophesied, praised, wept, raged, questioned, trusted, and revealed himself to be a thoroughly complex person who experienced deep emotions and profound insights. Obviously, David was supremely gifted in many ways. He was a great King in many ways, but he had too much blood on his hands from all those wars he waged. Most important of all, David’s  family tree produced Jesus, the Messiah, who was a direct descendant of David. David was a forefather of the Lord.

Even if David was “a man after God’s own heart” (1 Samuel 13:14), he proved to be quite a complicated character. On the one hand, David was famous for being the fiercest of warriors. In fact, for that reason, God didn’t allow David to build the Temple. On the other hand, David at times proved to be a prime example of someone with a “good eye.” He was someone with a supremely generous spirit when it was called for. We see his magnanimous heart in his Psalm 35:11-14, when he mourned and fasted for his mortal enemies. “Malicious witnesses come forward, asking me things about which I know nothing. They repay me evil for good; it makes me feel desolate as a parent bereaved. But I, when they were ill, wore sackcloth; I put myself out and fasted; I behaved as I would for my friend or my brother; I bent down in sorrow as if mourning my mother.” 

David demonstrated a good eye, a generous heart, when he on two different occasions spared his enemy Saul’s life, when he could have just as easily have killed him. In 1 Samuel 24, David finds himself on the run from Saul, and he is hiding in the very same cave Saul was relieving himself. While Saul was taking care of business in the darkness of the cave, David silently snuck up to Saul and cut off a small portion of the corner of Saul’s robe. Later, David held up that piece of robe to show Saul that he could have been killed in that vulnerable position, but that David decided not to do so. David declared to Saul, “I will not stretch out my hand against you! My hand shall not be against you!” (1 Sam. 24:10, 12). David had such great integrity before the Lord that he maintained a great respect for the position Saul held as the Lord’s anointed king. David was determined not to harm someone whom God had placed on the throne. David had the patience, faith and kindness needed to wait until God Himself removed Saul asking.

But it wasn’t long before David once again spared Saul’s life. This time Saul took 3,000 of his men to chase and capture David. David spied out where Saul was encamped, and he snuck into Saul’s tent while Saul was asleep. David took Saul’s spear and his jug of water that were right next to Saul’s head. David then went to a hilltop that was sufficiently distant from Saul’s camp, and he yelled out to Saul that he held Saul’s very spear and jug of water. So, for the second time, Saul saw firsthand that when he was vulnerable, David spared his life. “The Lord delivered you into my hand today, but I would not stretch out my hand against the Lord’s anointed. And indeed, as your life was valued much this day in my eyes, so let my life be valued much in the eyes of the Lord.” (1 Sam. 26:23-24). Once again, we see the magnanimous heart of David in action.