• GIVE
Fairfax Presbyterian Church logo
Henry Brinton, July 5 2021

Summer Study 10: Daily Wisdom

July 5

1 Samuel 24:1-15  

Winning Isn’t Everything

When have you shown restraint in order to make a point? 

“We have raised generations that define their identity by what they accomplish on the field,” said Rachel Denhollander to Christianity Today. She is the attorney, author, advocate and educator who was internationally recognized as the first woman to speak out about — and pursue criminal charges against — USA Gymnastics team doctor Larry Nassar. She said, “That's created a culture that prioritizes winning above everything else.” 

David was a great warrior, but he did not value winning above all else. When King Saul and three thousand of his men were chasing David through the En-gedi wilderness, David and his soldiers took refuge in a cave. Coincidentally, Saul entered that same cave to “use the restroom” (1 Samuel 24: 3).

David could have easily killed Saul while the king was relieving himself. In fact, David’s soldiers reminded him that the Lord had promised, “I will hand your enemy over to you, and you can do to him whatever you think best” (verse 4). But instead of attacking Saul, David snuck up and cut off a corner of Saul’s robe.

When Saul left the cave, David went out and yelled, “My master the king!” (verse 8). Saul turned around and saw David bowing down with respect. Then David said to Saul, “Why do you listen when people say, ‘David wants to ruin you’? Look! Today your own eyes have seen that the Lord handed you over to me in the cave. But I refused to kill you” (verses 9 and 10). Then David held up the piece of Saul’s robe.

David was sending the message that he was not guilty of rebellion, and that Saul should not be pursuing him. “Evil deeds come from evildoers!” said David, quoting an old proverb (verse 13). He wanted the king to know that since he refused to commit an evil act, he was not an evildoer.

Many people would have taken the opportunity to score a victory by killing Saul. They would have bragged about what they accomplished in a time of deadly competition. But David saw that winning was not as important as revealing the truth about his relationship with Saul. He wanted the king to know that he respected him, and that he saw him as God’s anointed king.

“What is my identity?” asks Rachel Denhollander. “And how am I defining success? Those concepts are really very intertwined. And all of us are on a search for the answers.” David knew his identity as a person of integrity. For him, success was defined by sending an honorable and positive message, not by winning a bloody contest. 

Assist me, Lord, in showing strength through restraint and positive messages. Amen.

Written by

Henry Brinton


Previous Summer Study 9: Daily Wisdom
Next Summer Study 11: Daily Wisdom