“Strike him,” Abishai whispered into his ear.
David stiffened and quickly scanned the sleeping soldiers that surrounded them. No one stirred. He listened a few seconds more and then slowly exhaled.
He glanced down at the man who had been pursuing him, forcing him to live in caves, ever on the run. He simply lay there sleeping. David wondered at the last time he had seen Saul looking so peaceful.
Abishai pulled up Saul's spear from where it had been stuck into the ground. He rolled the shaft back and forth in his palms a few times as he eyed the sleeping king. He leaned into David's ear again. This time he whispered, “Look! God has delivered your enemy into your hand.” Gripping the spear and pointing the tip downwards, he continued, “Give me your leave, and I will pin his head to the earth!”It could be all over. He would finally be king. “No,” David said, “bring his spear and that water jug by his head.” Then the two men crept silently out of the camp.
King Saul twice finds himself unknowingly at David's mercy. While pursuing David through the mountains, Saul one day retreats into a cave to relieve himself. Hidden deeper in the cave are David and his army. The men encourage David to seize the opportunity to strike Saul dead, but David will only cut off the corner of his garment. Then some time later, David and Abishai sneak into the camp of Israel. As they stand over the sleeping king, Abishai offers to strike Saul dead. Instead David is content to steal the water jar and spear that were lying by Saul's head.
David had been forced to live and hide in the wilderness because Saul saw him as an enemy and a threat. Yet, all that time, he was God's anointed. He knew that God would one day make him king. So when these two opportunities arose, those around him tempted David by saying, “Look! God has given you your enemy! All you have been promised will finally be yours!” But David would not kill Saul. He knew that there were no shortcuts to the throne.
The Bible records for us that Jesus, after his baptism by John, retreated alone into the desert. There he fasted for forty days before being tempted by Satan. The Devil took him to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and said, “All these I will give you, if you will fall down and worship me!” No suffering! No humiliation! No cross!
But Jesus would not take short cuts. Just as David suffered before finally being raised up to the throne, Jesus too had to follow the path laid out for him by his Father. Writing to the Philippians, Paul says, “He humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee shall bow.” And one day we shall.