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From Eternity Past

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    Chapter 65—The Largeheartedness of David

    This chapter is based on 1 Samuel 22:20-23; 23 to 27.

    “One of the sons of Ahimelech the son of Ahitub, named Abiathar, ... escaped, and fled after David. And Abiathar showed David that Saul had slain the Lord's priests. And David said unto Abiathar, I knew it that day, when Doeg the Edomite was there, that he would surely tell Saul: I have occasioned the death of all the persons of thy father's house. Abide thou with me, fear not: for he that seeketh my life seeketh thy life: but with me thou shalt be in safeguard.”EP 480.1

    Still hunted by the king, David's brave band repaired to the wilderness of Ziph. At this time, when there were so few bright spots in the path of David, he received an unexpected visit from Jonathan. These two friends related their varied experiences, and Jonathan strengthened the heart of David, saying, “Fear not: for the hand of Saul my father shall not find thee; and thou shalt be king over Israel, and I shall be next unto thee; and that also Saul my father knoweth.” The hunted fugitive was greatly encouraged. “And they two made a covenant before the Lord: and David abode in the wood, and Jonathan went to his house.”EP 480.2

    The Ziphites sent word to Saul in Gibeah that they knew where David was hiding and they would guide the king to his retreat. But David, warned of their intentions, changed his position, seeking refuge in the mountains between Maon and the Dead Sea.EP 480.3

    Again word was sent to Saul, “Behold, David is in the wilderness of Engedi. Then Saul took three thousand men chosen out of all Israel, and went to seek David and his men upon the rocks of the wild goats.” David had only six hundred men in his company. In a secluded cave the son of Jesse waited for the guidance of God as to what should be done.EP 480.4

    As Saul was pressing his way up the mountains, he entered alone the very cavern in which David and his band were hidden. When David's men saw this they urged their leader to kill Saul. The king was now in their power—certain evidence that God Himself had delivered the enemy into their hand, that they might destroy him. David was tempted to take this view of the matter, but the voice of conscience spoke to him. “Touch not the anointed of the Lord.”EP 481.1

    David's men reminded their commander of the words of God, “Behold, I will deliver thine enemy into thine hand, that thou mayest do to him as it shall seem good unto thee. Then David arose, and cut off the skirt of Saul's robe privily.”EP 481.2

    Saul rose up and went out of the cave to continue his search, when a voice fell upon his startled ears, “My lord the king.” Who was addressing him? The son of Jesse, the man he had so long desired to kill. David bowed, then addressed Saul: “Behold, this day thine eyes have seen how that the Lord hath delivered thee today into mine hand in the cave: and some bade me kill thee; but mine eye spared thee; and I said, I will not put forth mine hand against my lord; for he is the Lord's anointed. Moreover, my father, see, yea, see the skirt of thy robe in my hand: for in that I cut off the skirt of thy robe, and killed thee not, know thou and see that there is neither evil nor transgression in mine hand, and I have not sinned against thee; yet thou huntest my soul to take it.”EP 481.3

    Saul was deeply moved as he realized how completely he had been in the power of the man whose life he sought. With softened spirit, he exclaimed, “Is this thy voice, my son David? And Saul lifted up his voice, and wept.” Then he declared to David: “Thou art more righteous than I: for thou hast rewarded me good, whereas I have rewarded thee evil... . For if a man find his enemy, will he let him go well away? wherefore the Lord reward thee good for that thou hast done unto me this day. And now, behold, I know well that thou shalt surely be king, and that the kingdom of Israel shall be established in thine hand.” And David made a covenant with Saul that he would not cut off his name.EP 481.4

    David could put no confidence in the assurances of the king, so when Saul returned home, he remained in the mountains.EP 482.1

    After evil-minded men do and say wicked things against the Lord's servants, the Spirit of the Lord strives with them, and sometimes they humble their hearts before those they have sought to destroy. But as they again open the door to the evil one, the old enmity is awakened and they return to the same work they repented of. Satan can use such souls with far greater power than before, because they have sinned against greater light.EP 482.2

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