Love Your Neighbor (Saul and David)


(3 minute read)

Israel's monarchy hits a rough patch fairly quickly. King Saul presumptively oversteps to do the job only the priest is supposed to do. For this, God regrets and rejects him as king. In his place, God anoints David, a young shepherd boy, to one day replace him. In an ironic twist, David is brought into Saul’s service, and his music is the only thing that calms Saul’s manic moods. Saul’s son Jonathan becomes David’s closest friend, and David marries Saul’s daughter Michal. Though David shows Saul only the deference and love of a son to a father, Saul is quickly filled with envy and fear of David, whose fame and strength threatens him. On multiple occasions, Saul tries to kill David with a spear.

For years, Saul hunts David, keeping him on the run. Even fearing for his life, David maintains honor and grace for the one seeking to kill him. David refuses on at least two occasions to kill Saul and end it all, calling him his “father” and saying “I will not raise my hand against my lord; for he is the Lord’s anointed" (2 Samuel 24:10). The heart of David tests the limits of our ability to show mercy. He does not justify or pity or defend himself. He does not play the victim. Even when it seems he has every right to strike back, he continuously forgives and surrenders his entitlement to "justice." This long-suffering forgiveness is at the heart of the Gospel. Jesus compares the Kingdom of Heaven to a king indiscriminately canceling the debts of his servants. We are forgiven in Christ, so we forgive all.

David wrote many psalms while he was pursued by Saul (e.g. 18, 52, 54, 57, and 59). One challenging thing about these poems is that David’s words don’t seem to align with his actions in the story. He expresses outrage and calls for vengeance, but when the time comes, he shows mercy and grace. Pray through one of these psalms, processing any similar feelings of bitterness and self-justification in your own heart. Surrender them to God and pray for the same heart of David to forgive and love your enemies. Your enemies may even be like Saul, broken and lashing out from a place of insecurity and fear.

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Tomorrow on the Daily Connection: Who Is My Neighbor?

About the Author

Nick Chambers is the Director of Spiritual Formation at Calvary UMC