August 3, 2011 Devotion Sharing

Submitted by James Chao, Gracepoint San Diego

1 Samuel 24:1-15
Reflect on David’s amazing self-restraint here.  What non-negotiable principle must David have already adopted to be able to make such a quick and firm decision at a time when circumstances and the advice of his men seemed to all point in one direction? By this point, David has already been on the run for a while, and just running from place to place looking for safety, even traveling to foreign countries and having to act like a madman before his enemies. In his desperate moments, I wonder if David ever imagined what he would do if he was ever given such an opportunity to seize Saul. What would he do? Would he take full advantage of the situation, getting rid of Saul forever and not having to be on the run anymore? Or perhaps force Saul to abdicate the kingship and send him faraway into exile? Whatever his thoughts were, David must’ve also considered who Saul was in the eyes of God, and fundamentally David recognized that regardless of all that Saul has done to him, Saul was nevertheless chosen by God and anointed by God’s prophet. Perhaps even as David wrestled to trust in God’s promise to him and saw his own life through God’s eyes, he saw Saul through God’s eyes as well. And, out of respect for God, David would not lay his hands upon Saul. This must’ve been something that David wrestled with during his time on the run, because otherwise it would’ve been near impossible for him to exercise such incredible self-restraint given such a tempting opportunity to get back at his enemy.

What spiritual and ethical non-negotiables have I adopted to guide me during pressing times when persuasive-sounding arguments and opportune circumstances can conspire to lead me astray? From David’s example, I really see the power of committing to those important non-negotiables before the hard times and the struggles come, as the act of committing to that non-negotiable becomes a source of strength to remain true to one’s conviction when those situations come. In my own life, one that I adopted for myself was always to be there for the weekly prayer meetings. This was just a basic commitment and nothing too impressive, as even as a young Christian my leaders and this is pretty much something our whole church does together. But I remember a time when work was really busy, and I found myself having to stay late at work for weeks and basically spending whatever free time I had to meet the crazy deadlines. There were times when, instead of going to prayer meeting, I just felt like I wanted to stay at work and get as much work done as possible and not having to stay so late today. It seemed okay to just excuse myself, since work was objectively really busy, and it’s not like I was skipping prayer meeting for a trivial reason. But still in the end, just the sheer fact that our whole church is together at prayer meeting and I didn’t want to start a habit of skipping prayer meeting, I got myself to leave my work and go, even though it might mean that I’d have to come back after to finish up my work. Sometimes it was painful thinking that I’d have to come back after or stay late, but more often than not I’d find myself glad to have escaped from being consumed only by stress and deadlines and work and being able to lift my thoughts to God and reconnect with him through prayer and feel that jolt of being rejuvenated even as I head back to the office after. In the end, it’s not like it took that much time, but the overall experience of going through small decisions like that during that period did help me to learn to prioritize my spiritual commitments over work and strengthened my own identity as a person not enslaved by his circumstances but as someone who is devoted first to God.



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