1 Samuel 24 • God's Ways vs. Man's Ways


Saul and David are contrasts of a person whose spiritual walk is declining versus one on the incline.

Saul’s Life To Date

David’s Life To Date

From 1 Samuel 16 we learn that not everyone KNOWS that David is anointed king and has received the Spirit of the Lord from the start. He does not immediately claim or assume the throne but allows God to control all of the timing and events that will do so.

There is the example of Saul – someone doing things in his own way believing that the titles and authority God gave Him were tacit approval that anything he did was “God’s way” and “right” – and David, who never assumed that God’s appointments were the “end” of needing to rely completely on God for everything in every way.

Read verses 1-3

Q: First Saul pursues the “real” enemy – the Philistines – and then David, a fellow countryman and “enemy” only in the mind of Saul. What does this say about Saul’s spiritual condition?

A: Saul can’t tell the difference between his enemies and his supporters; he sees everyone the same, commonly united against him and him alone. Saul has set himself as the center of all things displacing God’s authority in his life.

Q: This is subtle, but how might we tell from these verses – and other interactions between David and Saul – that this is NOT an opportunity provided by God for David to assume the throne for which he was anointed many years previous?

A: When enemies are delivered into someone’s hands by God, Scripture generally states so specifically. There’s nothing indicating that Saul has been given “by the hand of God” to David as is documented in many other places in Scripture.

Read verses 4-7

Q: Old Testament trivia for $1,000, Alex: What Scripture is being quoted by David’s men, “…Behold, this is the day of which the Lord said to you, ‘Behold; I am about to give your enemy into your hand, and you shall do to him as it seems good to you.’”?

A: There is no such Scripture.

Q: What explanation is there for this?

A: One possibility is that it may not have been captured in the books that make up the Old Testament canon but was nonetheless uttered by an authority of the day. For instance, a prophet such as Samuel may have been used by God to make this statement but the statement itself was not written down for posterity. It’s highly unlikely that these are NOT the words of God since such misrepresentations are annotated as being false.

Q: Taken that these are the exact words of God to David, what is the obvious mistake the men are making regarding this promise?

A: They are assuming there’s only ONE proper interpretation to “…and you shall do to him as it seems good to you…”, that this means David should kill Saul. David demonstrates a superior interpretation, that in David’s hand an opportunity to preach God’s Word, love and opportunity for repentance will result – not death as final judgment.

Q: What direct evidence in v.5 validates the inferences made in the previous points?

A: “…David’s conscience bothered him…” He didn’t fully subscribe to his men’s interpretation of God’s Word – and therefore only cut off a piece of Saul’s robe rather than take Saul’s life – but he didn’t completely refute them either by setting them straight.

Q: Therefore, what is the significance of David’s statement in v.6?

A: It’s the correct interpretation of events in relation to God’s Word. David recognizes that the circumstances are NOT the fulfillment of God’s Word as quoted by others and that God has not yet changed the order of things.

Point #1: Are we to simply accept a course of action because someone qualifies it by quoting Scripture? Do we test these things even when provided by those closest to us who have our best intentions at heart?

Point #2: Consider the possible applications of this example in your own life. Have you ever ASSUMED that because of circumstances that “this must be from God”? Do you “inquire of the Lord” or check in with Him to discern if this is what HE wants and how HE wants to do it, even when all conditions seem to be primed? Is there a danger to ONLY inquiring of God when things look “bad” instead of inquiring regardless of the situation?

Read verses 8-15

Q: What is indicated in v.8 that shows David is speaking sincerely?

A: “…David bowed with his face to the ground and prostrated himself.” David did not act like someone who had Saul in the palm of his hand and is now lording it over him.

Q: What is slightly ironic in David’s point in v.9, “…Why do you listen to the words of men…”?

A: David has just had this struggle with his own men. Just as David’s own self-examination has brought him back to the Lord, so he encourages Saul to do the same, to first seek God’s counsel at the expense of his men’s and even his own.

Q: Summarize David’s case to Saul.

A: Men’s words don’t match my actions.

Q: What are the 3 things according to v.11 that David believes he is being falsely accused of?

A: Evil, rebellion, sin.

Q: What do these roughly correspond to and what kind of portrait do they attempt to paint?

A: Corruption of the heart, mind, and soul. They attempt to portray someone that is not merely “unfriendly” or “argumentative” but completely obsessed in being one’s mortal enemy.

Q: What is David’s example in v.12 and 15?

A: He will allow God to be sovereign over all things. Even though David has been anointed the next king of Israel and everyone sees God working at every turn in David’s life, David will not ASSUME to take any action on his own EVEN when he’s 100% in the right. Judgment is always in God’s hands to be carried out in His time and way.

Point: David’s example to Saul, Saul’s men, and David’s own men is a far more powerful tool for God’s kingdom than summary execution at what seems to be the opportune time. Have we considered that allowing God to bring all things to finality provides the opportunity for our enemies to repent, to be informed as to spiritual consequences?

Read verses 16-19

Q: What is the result of David’s example?

A: Saul’s repentance and admission of God’s sovereignty to himself and to all that are present who had also misinterpreted God’s Word and the circumstances.

Read verses 20-22

Q: What is similar in Saul’s statement to David’s actions and statements overall in this encounter?

A: Saul acknowledges that God’s will and power are at work not only in the current situation but in the ultimate goal of being replaced by David. Essentially, just as David has been an example to men on both sides that the time and place of David’s ascension to the throne is not now and still yet to come, so Saul is an example of the same to all men present on both sides.


Q: Ever heard the saying, “If it looks like a duck, and it acts like a duck, and it walks like a duck, and it quacks like a duck, it MUST be a duck?” How does that apply here?

A: Never assume a conclusion based on your own perception without first inquiring of the Lord to allow Him to confirm, “It’s a duck” or not.

Q: What might be more important than “final judgment” or obtaining justice for personal wrongs?

A: The opportunity to provide sinners another chance to turn to God, even if it’s less than satisfactory for ourselves personally.

As mentioned at the outset of this study, although David was anointed by God through Samuel to become the next king, David was not immediately given the throne. He allowed God to control the timing and degree of all circumstances so that David matured from a shepherd boy that had no following, to a mighty man of God that steadily gained the support and recognition of everyone he was to rule:

Q: How do we accomplish all the great things we’re called in Christ to do?

A: Obey Him personally, let our witness of Him to others be more of a concern than His promises fulfilled in us personally, seek His will regardless of the circumstances, all Him to accomplish everything in His time and way.