So Saul was grateful that David spared his life and they all lived happily after. Well… not quite! I am not sure how David knew that Saul could not be trusted after the cave debacle, but two chapters later he was still hiding (1 Samuel 26). This time with an even better opportunity to end Saul’s madness.

David’s friend Abishai knew that David would keep his word to spare Saul and his family, so he offered to help. “‘God has surely handed your enemy over to you this time!’ Abishai whispered to David. ‘Let me pin him to the ground with one thrust of the spear; I won’t need to strike twice!’” (1 Samuel 26:8, NLT). There would be no blood on David’s hands. Abishai would take the fall if it came to that. And everybody would be rid of a lunatic! Problem solved. But no, David trusted God once again. “‘No!’ David said. ‘Don’t kill him. For who can remain innocent after attacking the Lord’s anointed one? 10 Surely the Lord will strike Saul down someday, or he will die of old age or in battle. 11 The Lord forbid that I should kill the one he has anointed!’” (v. 9-11).

If David had to analyze all the complicated aspects of his relationship with Saul, self-preservation would have been the way to go. Talk about a toxic relationship! It was an entanglement of jealousy, pride, and guilt. That is what sin does, it entangles. It complicates our lives in ways that keep us from seeing God’s love. But when we manage to break free from our sins and complications, we find God’s way. “Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us” (Hebrews 12:1, NIV).

Today we learn an important truth about mercy. No matter how many times David had to face Saul, it was not about him. It was about God’s right to choose his anointed. Just as it is not about us. Only when we take the focus off ourselves are we able to obey God. It changes the logic. What looks like a sacrificial act of kindness to another person is not about the one on the receiving end at all! What they have done or failed to do is irrelevant. God’s word is clear. “No, O people, the Lord has told you what is good, and this is what he requires of you: to do what is right, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God” (Micah 6:8, NLT). It is as simple as that.

How does it change your view of mercy when you take human complications out of the picture? Is it easier to consider mercy when you realize that it is not about you?

Let us please God by showing mercy to others. And let us enjoy the full blessings He intends for us. “Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy” (Matthew 5:7, NLT).

Scripture readings:

1 Samuel 26:1-25

Micah 6:8

Hebrews 12:1-3

Matthew 5:3-12