“The LORD rewards every man for his righteousness and his faithfulness, for the LORD gave you into my hand today, and I would not put out my hand against the LORD’s anointed. Behold, as your life was precious this day in my sight, so may my life be precious in the sight of the LORD, and may he deliver me out of all tribulation.” 1 Samuel 26:23-24
So often when we do the right thing, we seek the approval of others and expect to be treated in kind. But David doesn’t say that here. He doesn’t ask to be rewarded by Saul for sparing his life. He doesn’t say, “as your life was precious this day in my sight, so may my life be precious in your sight,” seeking to be welcomed back into the favor of the king of Israel. No, David looks to the Lord for his reward. He desires that his life be precious in the sight of God, that deliverance come from Him, believing fully in His faithfulness to see and to honor the righteousness of His servant.
Twice now in this recorded history, David has spared the life of King Saul. Both times, David’s men encouraged him to take the life of this man who was seeking to kill him, saying that God had delivered him into David’s hand. Because it clearly looked that way. Yet David was immovable in his respect for the one God had anointed to be king over His people. Even though the Lord’s hand had turned against Saul, David would not dishonor him. “He said to his men, ‘The LORD forbid that I should do this thing to my lord, the LORD’s anointed, to put out my hand against him, seeing he is the LORD’s anointed.’” (1 Samuel 24:6). “But David said to Abishai, ‘Do not destroy him, for who can put out his hand against the LORD’s anointed and be guiltless?’” (1 Samuel 26:9).
David is showing grace here. He is honoring Saul and not anticipating that honor to be returned. He seems entirely set on his God to show him honor and favor, to deliver him. Despite the turn of events that gave David the perfect opportunity to take Saul’s life, he was sensitive enough to the Spirit of God, intent enough on honoring the Lord above all else and seeking to be faithful regardless of shifting circumstances, that he was not swayed in his resolve.
Isn’t this the calling on our hearts as well? Isn’t this how we are able to show grace, to forgive, to honor, to be kind to those who don’t remotely seem to deserve it? We look to Christ and see His humility. We set our hearts and minds on our God and believe that He will reward our faithfulness to Him as it is shown in our behavior, thoughts, and words to those around us. “Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor…Repay no one evil for evil, but give thought to do what is honorable in the sight of all. If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all…Owe no one anything, except to love each other, for the one who loves another has fulfilled the law” (Romans 12:10, 17-18; 13:8). “But love your enemies, and do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return, and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High, for he is kind to the ungrateful and the evil. Be merciful, even as your Father is merciful” (Luke 6:35-36).