1 Samuel 26:1-13 Divine Opportunity Not Necessarily Signals Divine Mandate

1 Samuel 26:1-13

1 Now some men from Ziph came to Saul at Gibeah to tell him, “David is hiding on the hill of Hakilah, which overlooks Jeshimon.” 2 So Saul took 3,000 of Israel’s elite troops and went to hunt him down in the wilderness of Ziph. 3 Saul camped along the road beside the hill of Hakilah, near Jeshimon, where David was hiding. When David learned that Saul had come after him into the wilderness, 4 he sent out spies to verify the report of Saul’s arrival.

5 David slipped over to Saul’s camp one night to look around. Saul and Abner son of Ner, the commander of his army, were sleeping inside a ring formed by the slumbering warriors. 6 “Who will volunteer to go in there with me?” David asked Ahimelech the Hittite and Abishai son of Zeruiah, Joab’s brother. “I’ll go with you,” Abishai replied. 7 So David and Abishai went right into Saul’s camp and found him asleep, with his spear stuck in the ground beside his head. Abner and the soldiers were lying asleep around him. 8 “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!” 9 “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! But take his spear and that jug of water beside his head, and then let’s get out of here!” 12 So David took the spear and jug of water that were near Saul’s head. Then he and Abishai got away without anyone seeing them or even waking up, because the Lord had put Saul’s men into a deep sleep. 13 David climbed the hill opposite the camp until he was at a safe distance.


Saul continues to seek out David, even though he was spared by David the first time. Dismissing it as just mere bad luck, he sets off with another 3000 elite soldiers expecting a direct confrontation with David’s men only to be summarily humiliated again. The challenge facing David this time is even greater as the opportunity to kill Saul presents itself the second time. David is confronted again with the question: does divine opportunity imply divine mandate to commit murder? Everyday, opportunities would come and go, but our spirit must constantly be attuned to His will.


David is hiding on the hill of Hakilah, which overlooks Jeshimon – Encouraged by the near success of his earlier attempt to apprehend David in the wilderness of Moan, Saul responds to new information concerning the hideout of David, only this time to fall prey again to the mercy of David. David, having sent out his own spies to look out for Saul and pays a visit to Saul’s camp when night falls. Accompanied by Abishai, David goes pass the non-existent sentries into the heart of camp and found him asleep, with his spear stuck in the ground beside his head. Abner and the soldiers were lying asleep around him.

God has surely handed your enemy over to you this time! – Abishai, convinced by the unfettered access as a divine opportunity verbalized the temptation, “God has surely handed your enemy over to you this time! He infers this opportunity that presents itself the second time signals divine mandate to kill Saul. And he offers to do the dirty work of killing Saul for David. Encouraged by the lesson of the Nabal episode, David is even more resolved within himself never to take matters into his own hand. Determined to let God have His way concerning Saul, David says, “The Lord forbid that I should kill the one he has anointed!

Because the Lord had put Saul’s men into a deep sleep – Once before Saul had been immobilized by a supernatural influence when he had gone in search of David (see 1 Samuel 19:23). Now a supernatural sleep grips his entire camp giving David unfettered access to Saul. God has once again shown His faithful protection over His anointed one.


We must not interpret divine opportunity as divine permission to fulfill our own desires. In whatever situations or opportunities that may play into our favor, they do not necessarily signal divine permission to follow our heart’s desires. The mind that is not subject to God’s laws is inclined to see things in favor of his own desires. Hence, in such situations, we need to pay special attention to the voice of the Spirit while denying our fleshly instincts. While Abishai interprets the opportunity as a mandate to kill Saul, David sees it as yet another opportunity to warn Saul of God’s impending judgment. Hence, when things seem to go according to our desires, all the more we have to be aware of the posture of our heart. Jesus teaches in one of His parables,

The land of a rich man produced plentifully, and he thought to himself, “What shall I do, for I have nowhere to store my crops?” And he said, “I will do this: I will tear down my barns and build larger ones, and there I will store all my grain and my goods.… But God said to him, “Fool! This night your soul is required of you, and the things you have prepared, whose will they be?” So is the one who lays up treasure for himself and is not rich toward God. Luke 12:16-21.

The rich man, while reaping the opportunities of a fertile land could not contain his lust. Whilst opportunities and the power to create wealth comes from God, He does not condone indulgence and greed. Wealth and opportunities must lead to greater good, not selfish greed. Hence, when opportunity strikes and our fleshly desires are set aflame, we must never pass up on His still small voice. As the story develops, the opportunities that are meant for good become a snare that led to his demise.


Do you find listening to God a challenge when certain situations present itself? How would you deal with such situations?

Do not respond with your natural instinct, but take time to wait upon His instructions. When the fleshly haste dissipates, you will surely hear His still clear voice.

Dear Lord, I understand that not all opportunities signals divine permission. While you have given me material blessings and spiritual gifts, my heart remains steadfast towards your truth. Help me and strengthen me by your Spirit so that I may not sin against you. In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen.

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