“…my hand shall not be against you.”– 1 Samuel 24:11
It would seem that the suggestion of withdrawing from an enemy has become synonymous with defeat. The Christian who takes this approach is labeled as faithless and, for some reason, has made enemies in his own camp. It is unfortunate, however, that Christians do not employ this tactic more often. When Daniel heard of the decree written against him, “he went home” (Daniel 6:10). Jesus Himself often withdrew from the opposition because it was not His appointed time. David here departed from Saul, although they both knew God appointed David the next king of Israel.
Our mighty men of the Bible were men who often retreated to prayer. It is in the prayer closet that battles are fought and won. There is an understanding that “prayer arouses mighty position in the heavenly realm.” This is the knowledge that king David received when inquiring of God when to go to battle against the Philistines. It was that heart of prayer that caused him to be troubled after he cut off Saul’s robe. In his humility before God, he was able to declare, “The Lord forbid that I should do this thing to my master, the Lord’s anointed, to stretch out my hand against him, seeing he is the anointed of the Lord” (1 Samuel 24:6). David even restrained his men from going into battle incorrectly. He was undoubtedly an example of a good shepherd leading the sheep.
Although given opportunity, David would not take the battle into his own hands. He understood that the worst calamity in his life “is the wisest and the kindest thing that could happen” if God ordains it. It is inevitable then that “When a man’s ways please the Lord, he makes even his enemies to be at peace with him (Proverbs 16:7). For we see that Saul knew David spared his life. Although he had become an enemy, Saul thanked and blessed David for restraint. May we often retreat in prayer to size up the enemy and ensure God is leading us in the battles of life.
“David had won many battles, but one of his greatest victories occurred in that cave when he restrained himself and his men from killing Saul. ‘He who is slow to anger is better than the mighty, and he who rules his spirit than he who takes a city’ (Proverbs 16:32)”– Warren Wiersbe