There are many similarities between the events in this chapter and those in chapter 24. David remains in hiding in the wilderness and the people in the region betray David to Saul. Saul comes out with his army in pursuit of David. His army camps close by to where David and his men are hiding.
After arriving at their destination, Saul and his men bed down for the night. Saul sleeps in the center of the camp surrounded by his men and I assume they are watched over by lookouts. A direct attack by David’s entire band of men should be easily rejected and Saul’s life preserved given this arrangement. However, God has another plan.
David picks one of his men and the two of them find their way into and through Saul’s camp until they come to where Saul is sleeping. Once again, the man with David asks David’s permission to kill Saul and David refuses to grant it. The two remove Saul’s water pitcher and spear and return to a hillside a safe distance away.
David begins his dialogue with Saul by calling out to Saul’s army commander, Abner. David accuses Abner of dereliction of duty, but Abner does not have a chance to respond when Saul recognizes David’s voice. This story does not contain the same level of tension that exists in the incident in the cave in chapter 24. Saul immediately recognizes his sin in pursuing David and the futility of fighting God. David returns Saul’s pitcher and spear, and Saul withdraws with his men and returns home.
“Here is the king’s spear,” David answered. “Let one of your young men come over and get it. 23 The LORD rewards everyone for their righteousness and faithfulness. The LORD delivered you into my hands today, but I would not lay a hand on the LORD’s anointed. 24 As surely as I valued your life today, so may the LORD value my life and deliver me from all trouble.” 25 Then Saul said to David, “May you be blessed, David my son; you will do great things and surely triumph.” So David went on his way, and Saul returned home.1 Samuel 26:22-25 NIV
What about us?
Have you ever been rebuked by God? Have you ever been determined to accomplish something you knew was wrong and been prevented from completing what you started? How do we respond to a rebuke from God? I hope we respond with gratitude. Whoever delivers the rebuke and stops us in our tracks has saved us from the consequences of our intended sin. Humility will help us receive a rebuke with grace and thankfulness. Pride will drive us to reject the rebuke and possibly develop even greater animosity toward the rebuker than we initially had toward the person we were attempting to harm.
If you need to give a rebuke look to David’s example. He approaches Saul with kindness and confidence. His actions result in no harm to Saul and his words are few and true. All these things increase the possibility that Saul will hear and repent of his intent. Recognize that the relationship may never be restored but saving someone you love is worth that risk.