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The Power of Loyalty

 

1 Samuel 24:20-22; 26:1-2, 7-12, 21-25
Bible Studies for Life, Jul 25

 

Truth really IS stranger than fiction. Our lesson this week is one of suspense, danger, and hilarity all wrapped together to demonstrate the value of loyalty. This would make a great action-comedy movie! The abysmal absence of genuine loyalty in our modern culture, however, is no laughing matter. The principles of loyalty clearly revealed through David’s words and actions give us a timely model to emulate.

During this awkward time, two were anointed king, but only one was appointed king – Saul. Samuel forecast to Saul that the kingdom would be taken out of his hands and given to another (13:14; 15:26). Saul correctly discerned that it would be David (24:20) and a unique exchange took place between the “two anointed kings” in some bizarre circumstances.

Imagine David’s men seeing Saul and his 3,000 choice warriors coming toward them while hidden in the En Gedi caves. Tension must have been thick when all of a sudden Saul walks right into the cave where David and his men were hiding. When Saul’s purpose for coming into the cave alone was understood, there was immediate “relief” for both Saul and David’s men! David’s response at this moment has become the most powerful display of loyalty in the Old Testament. Four characteristics of loyalty can be drawn from this week’s Bible Study.

 

Loyalty Supersedes Popular Opinion (24:3-9)

David’s men had obviously heard a prophecy the Lord gave to David. “Behold I will deliver your enemy into your hand, that you may do to him as it seems good (4).” David’s men interpreted the “good” part of the prophecy as to rid Israel from Saul! David had to restrain his men and keep them from taking the life of the king (7). David had unswerving loyalty to Saul’s God-given authority, and he knew that to follow the course of consensus polity would be just as evil as what Saul was doing to him.

David also pointed out to Saul that he had been listening to the voice of popular opinion as well! David said, “Why do you listen to the words of men who say, ‘Indeed David seeks your harm (9)?’” The scuttlebutt could not have been further from the truth! Whereas David is the epitome of loyalty and did NOT listen to popular opinion, Saul is the antithesis and did. Although David did not agree with the direction Saul was going in he did NOT undermine Saul’s authority. THAT is the true test of loyalty!

 

Loyalty Risks Personal Security (24:20-22)!

Once David cut the hem of Saul’s robe, (a hilarious story!) he could have waited until Saul and his army were well out of range before revealing himself. The action to step out within an archer’s shot put him and his men in grave danger, but the purity of his intentions and his deep loyalty gave him the courage to risk personal safety.

His apparent impulsiveness paid off as Saul begged, “Swear that you will not cut off my descendents after me (21),” the realization that David would indeed be granted the kingdom. Saul was keenly aware that David risked everything with this stunt when he acknowledged, “You are more righteous than I (17).”

 

Loyalty Exposes God’s Sovereignty (26:1-2, 7-12)

After the “cave incident,” you would think Saul realized what a stellar, loyal servant David was to him, but unfortunately his memory was short lived. Once again Saul and his 3,000 sought diligently to kill David (2). This time Saul and his men all fell asleep and David took his spear and jug of water that was beside Saul’s head.

Again, we have a physiological situation that we can’t ignore! We have to use the bathroom and we have to go to sleep eventually. These are routine exercises that we all engage in, yet God used these natural settings to reveal His supernatural purposes.

David’s loyalty allows us to peer into the mundane “business” of life and see the Eternal God and His sovereignty in action. God prompted Saul to choose that one, single cave to relief himself. God allowed that one particular night to give especially heavy sleep for Saul and his men. In both circumstances David had to restrain his men from taking Saul’s life, and both times David exclaimed, “I will not lift my hand against the Lord’s anointed (24:10; 26:11).”

This repeated statement exposed David’s trust in the sovereignty of Almighty God and His ability to work even through lousy leaders. How arrogant we are when we oust leaders for reasons other than moral failure without seeking God’s direction and allowing HIM to remove that leader in His method and timing!

 

Loyalty Reveals Disloyalty (26:21-25)

Light always penetrates darkness and reveals what is hidden. David’s loyalty revealed Saul’s disloyalty. Saul finally said, “I have sinned…I will harm you no more, because my life was more precious in your eyes this day. Indeed, I have played the fool and erred exceedingly (21).” Saul came face to face with his own foolishness, all brought to light from David’s loyalty. It had a profound effect on Saul’s life, genuinely changing his actions from that point forward. David gave a beautiful blessing in verses 23-24, an Old Testament take on the ‘sowing and reaping’ principle.

Our modern culture scoffs at loyalty. One characteristic of the “Gen-X” demographic is a distrust of orthodox traditions and institutions. The sad truth is this lack of loyalty will only have the same consequences in this generation that Saul had in his – whatever you hold most dear will be ripped from your hands (in Saul’s case, the entire kingdom).

The realization of the sin may be too late to recapture what is lost. Yes, grace is sufficient, but true grace leads to holiness and righteousness, not more disloyalty!