David was a complex individual with a personality that gives us great insight into the heart of one who struggles with life’s problems … not much unlike each of us. We see extremes in his character: David was strong yet tender; David was gentle but he was a warrior; and David was driven yet he was submissive. The extremes we see in his personality help us to find ways in which we can identify with him – a perfect example of a heart following hard after the heart of God.
David had been on the run from Saul and his men for what must have seemed to be a lifetime. Although he was still young, he was forced to elude the king’s tyrannical pursuit of David – a pursuit rooted in jealousy and selfishness, a pursuit which helps us see the depth of devotion to God in the heart of this shepherd/king.
At one point, David got close enough to him to put an end to it once and for all. Instead, however, he only cut off a corner of Saul’s robe so Saul would know he had been there and spared his life. However, once he had done this, David’s conscience was pricked with gilt for having cut off the portion of Saul’s robe. “… He said to his men, ‘The Lord forbid that I should do such a thing to my master, the Lord’s anointed, or lift my hand against him; for he is the anointed of the Lord’” (1 Samuel 24:6). He rebuked his men and refused to allow them to attack Saul, left the cave, and went on his way.
After all that David had been through, it might be hard to understand why he felt so guilty for entertaining the thought of killing Saul or for cutting off a corner of Saul’s robe. It doesn’t seem right that his heart should have been pricked with remorse and guilt for approaching the king in such a way. Saul’s repeated offenses against David seemed so much worse. Why was David’s conscience immediately stricken with conviction?
We tend to view sin in relative terms. But David teaches us an important lesson here … one that should stir in our hearts from this day forward:
David’s standard for measuring sin was not the wickedness of Saul, it was the holiness of God.
When we stop comparing one sin against the other to determine which is more or less “sinful” and begin considering our sin compared to the holiness of God, we will be overcome with Godly sorrow and moved to repentance. David was immediately remorseful for his sin, as trivial as it may have seemed, and he repented. But don’t think for one minute that his tender conscience meant he was weak and ignorant. More times than one he exercised wisdom that still baffles the mind of men. The difference between David and Saul was that David’s heart was fixed on serving the Lord, pleasing Him, and growing in relationship with Him. Saul, on the other hand, was burning with jealousy and rage.
Let’s all learn from David today. Stop comparing one sin against another sin, one sinner against another sinner, etc., and begin considering our own sin in comparison to the holiness of God. With sin its rightful perspective, we will learn to walk close to God with a tender conscience and a heart genuinely sorrowful for sin against our Most Holy God.
Father, too many times I have wrongfully assumed my sin as being not as great as others because it seemed “small” in my sight, but I have failed to compare my sin to You. Lord, Your holiness makes my sin grotesque and wicked and evil and I need Your forgiveness. Oh Lord, I long to have a heart that is pure, a conscience that is tender, and a life that reflects Your holiness and righteousness. Order my steps in Your Word, dear Lord. Lead me and guide me every day. In Jesus’ precious name and for His glory, Amen and Amen.
© Jan Ross
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