Spy vs. Spy

(Today's post by Adam Cooper)

1 Samuel 27,28

For some reason when I read the stories of Saul and David I get this mental image of the old Spy vs. Spy cartoon. The “black” spy would always come up to the “white” spy and attempt to make nice while holding a bomb or other device behind his back and smirking evilly. Saul reminds me of the “black” spy coming up to David and apologizing for his wrongdoing and the whole time knowing in his mind that he will kill David at the first chance he gets.

As we join David in 1 Samuel 27 he has gone to live among the Philistines because like the “white” spy he knows he cannot trust Saul to stop trying to kill him. David has been forced to live among his sworn enemies but he does so in a way that allows him to continue destroying the Philistines while living among them and gaining their trust. For lack of a better analogy he is a double agent living among and being trusted by his enemy while he continues to decimate them covertly. David is so convincing in this role that he is even accepted by the Philistine king AND made his bodyguard as they go up for war. It is the Philistine buildup to this war that leads us into 1 Samuel 28.

Saul had relied on God and Samuel for so long that he had banished the seers and mediums because they were considered unclean and were forbidden under Jewish law. Leviticus 19:31, ” 'Do not turn to mediums or seek out spiritists, for you will be defiled by them. I am the LORD your God.” However, at the doorstep of war with the Philistines and no help from God, Saul is led to seek out a medium that could bring forward the spirit of Samuel to advise him on God’s plan for Israel. Samuel’s spirit advised Saul that Israel and he would both fall that day.

When these words were first read I can imagine that the clear delineation of Saul and David as the two extremes a person can have with God was very telling. David continually upholds the will of the Lord and seeks out His guidance and wisdom in all things and Saul continues to move further and further from God by using deception, murder, and now resorting to consulting the dead in opposition to Jewish law. It seems that this is a story of extremes and when these words were first read I can see it having great impact on society; people telling their children about the great David and how he resisted the temptations of evil to persevere over the evil Saul who had been so overcome by jealousy and deception and murder that he had fallen to great depths which led to his death and undoing.

I can also see some common Biblical themes within this story. Saul, once the Lord’s anointed, has fallen to great depths as a despot king because he chose to defy God. He knows that God has left him but he continues to pursue the Lord’s chosen, knowing that victory will never be his because David is the new anointed that has been sent. David has lived a life of persecution by this evil king and has had to continue running for his life even though he knows that the Lord has already chosen him and the kingdom is his. Does anyone see any parallels besides me? Satan was once the Lord’s anointed, the highest among God’s protectors, who chose to defy God and fell. Jesus came to live a life among man, tempted and persecuted and eventually sacrificed to bring about victory over Satan; a victory that Satan still does not recognize and because of that he continues to pursue the Lord’s children.

But what does this mean to us? How do we fit into the mold of Saul or David? How does this story affect how we live our life?

I believe the first thing that should be taken from this story is perseverance in doing the will of the Lord. David was anointed and he knew that the Lord was with him. But he did not take this “status” and use it to gain the kingdom before it was his time. I believe in our own lives we must remember to be like David. We continue to abide with God and do His will and we will be fine. Also like David we will face persecution and challenges that we must remain steadfast and focused through and not allow ourselves to be tempted by the quick out. There were at least two times that David could have killed Saul and been done with him but he continued on God’s path for himself even though it meant hardship.

A second thing we should take from this story is that we must always remember that it is never too late to turn back to God. I would like to think that if Saul had truthfully and faithfully turned back to God then he would have been redeemed. However, he only chose to turn to God when things were bad and he never did so in a way that was sincere to God. There are many Christians out there who see God as their sounding post. They go through the motions without any sincere meaning. Then when things go wrong and they do not get the response they feel they deserve from God they question Him and His goodness. 1 John 5:14-15, “This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us. And if we know that he hears us–whatever we ask–we know that we have what we asked of him.” If we ask in accordance with HIS WILL we can have confidence that He hears us. David did His will, Saul did not.

As we take this information today and process it for what to do in our own lives it is important to remember that we should always live our lives in accordance with God’s will. It is by grace we are saved through faith and it is a gift for us to be a child of God blessed and able to accomplish His will for us on this Earth.

  • Do you know people who are like Saul? Giving you what you expect to your face while at the same time holding the figurative knife behind their back waiting for you to slip up?
  • Do you continue to live according to God’s will in spite of the available “easy-outs”?
  • How would you respond if someone you loved and trusted spiritually suddenly turned on you like Saul did on David?
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  • David sees two different occasions where one could discern that God has let everything fall into place where he can now be King..just like he’s been told he would be. Now axe the guy!

    But David doesn’t.

    Oh how hard it is to discern the will of God sometimes.

    Circumstances LOOKED like they were lined up in David’s favor. But he was CONSTANTLY seeking the Lord’s direction. And never had the “go-ahead” in his spirit to act on the axing.

    We can look back now and see that David did the right thing.

    I want to hear God clearly..through the truth of His Word..through the influence of other Believers..through the affirmation of the Holy Spirit ALL while seeking Him constantly. That is quite a challenge today.

  • Gloria

    I enjoy reading your post, and your personal insight. I was thinking when I read scripture last night, good grief he did it again, why? The “why’s” is what always get me, however through life and trials, I am “slowly” learning not to question the “why’s” and know God is in control, and He is whom I need to cling too daily.

  • James Rooks

    The part that gets me the most is probably David patiently following God’s timing even if at the time it was to his detriment.

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