I Samuel 26 David, Saul, And Providence – Again.
For whatever reason, David decided that he would spy out the camp of Saul. Abishai should be commended for volunteering to go with him, but David had to even keep him from killing Saul. David continued to respect the official office that Saul occupied, if not the occupant of it. David was convinced that the LORD would take care of Saul, either directly or indirectly through providence (v. 10). David was able to prove once again that he had the opportunity to kill Saul but he didn’t – Saul once again had to acknowledge this. David pinned the blame where it belonged – Abner was supposed to guard the king and he failed. David essentially said that if the LORD had raised up Saul to pursue David then David would acquiesce in the LORD’s mercy, but if it came strictly from human motivation then “may they be cursed before the LORD,” because contrary to David’s wish, and due to no fault of his own, he had been excommunicated from the covenant community (v. 19).
David referred to himself as a flee, a nobody. So why were they pursuing a nobody? Only with this confession of humility on David’s part does Saul confess that he has sinned. So only when David assures him that he had no intention of assassinating him does he repent. However, what Saul meant is best understood by what follows, not that he was guilty of breaking God’s law by seeking to murder an innocent man, but that David outplayed him. “Indeed I have played the fool and erred exceedingly.” (v. 21) David knew that his confession was just one of regret at being outplayed, so instead of going to Saul he instructs Saul to send a young man to come retrieve his spear (v. 22). Again we see David’s underlying conviction in the sovereign justice of Yahweh. “May the LORD repay every man for his righteousness and his faithfulness” (v. 23). The LORD had delivered Saul into David’s hand, but David committed himself to the LORD to deliver him out of tribulation, and Saul’s own words witness to his belief that David would ultimately prevail (vv. 24-25).