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Inconvenient Obedience



Ben Stuart shows the difference between grasping at power at all costs and trusting God to give you power in His own way and timing. In both circumstances, it comes down to obedience. Through looking at Saul and David, Ben Stuart teaches what God desires in our hearts.

Key Takeaway

The Lord has taken care of you and the The Lord will take care of you. Let Him work it out in His Will and His Way. You may not understand the mystery of providence, but that doesn't release you from obedience. Don't do evil in the name of good. Trust Him.

1) 1 Samuel 22- The selfishness of Saul at Nob and the selflessness of David at Keilah. It's a dangerous thing for an insecure person to have power.

Saul complains about his tribe. Victimhood doesn't look good on anyone. Whining is anti-worship. It's saying that God can't be trusted, and we think we can do better.

Saul conspires to go after David. He does this because he has surrounded himself with a bunch of "friends" that justified him doing whatever he wanted to do. Beware of yes-men. They are a sign of insecure leadership.

Saul kills the priests at Nob because they helped David. He obliterated the entire population of a group of people that honored the Lord. The irony is that he did not do this to the Amalekites when the Lord had directed him to because he wanted what he thought was best for himself. (1 Samuel 15). Saul wants power, and if honoring God gets in the way, he blows God off.

David, on the other hand, is selfless and helps defend Keilah at the Lord's request.

Kingly character uses power to save those in need.

Inconvenient obedience is better than convenient disobedience. He and his men go in to fight and then leave, traveling in the wilderness, where Jonathan encourages David in the Lord.

Saul is a destroyer. David is a rescuer. Saul complains he has no knowledge. David receives knowledge from God. Saul has a yes-man in Doeg. David has a true friend in Jonathan, who points him to God.

2) 1 Samuel 24. Seizing power in an ungodly way is wrong. We do right to wait on the Lord.

How do you know the difference between providence and temptation? Perceived providence never overrides the revealed obedience.

David has the opportunity to kill Saul but is convicted, so he only cuts off a corner of his robe with his sword. A sword is meant to signify death...but that would mean David would have to murder Saul. We can't deny the explicit text of Scripture and say, "Well, the ends justify the means." No, there needs to be integrity and honor in the process as well as the end product.

David instead spares Saul's life and then shows Saul what he had done, explaining that he was never his enemy.

An ounce of truth beats a ton of presumption.

Saul then confesses that David is better than he. Kingly character is hard to deny. People will rage against it because it feels like condemnation to them, but they can't deny that the kingly character comes from a different place.

The robe holds special significance as it works its way through 1 Samuel. Hannah knits robes for Samuel as God was reestablishing His prophets, which Samuel was one of the greatest. (1 Samuel 2:19) Saul rips Samuel's robe after he sinned, representing the kingdom being taken from Saul. (1 Samuel 15:27-28) Jonathan, knowing the kingdom will not be passed to him, gives his own robe to David, who will succeed as king. (1 Samuel 18:4) So David knows that when he takes his sword to cut Saul's robe, it's a symbol of death coming to Saul's authority.

3) 1 Samuel 25- David is in danger of looking like Saul.

When David asks Nabal to share in the festivities after all the good they have done for him, Nabal is selfish with his power. David becomes irrational and quickly forms a band of men to go and take revenge on Nabal. Nabal means fool, and his wife, Abigail, knows this, so she puts her own life on the line to save the lives of all involved by stepping in between judgment and ignorance. Abigail approaches David humbly and reminds him of all the ways the Lord has been with him.

The "bundle" references how the shepherd would count tiny rocks into a bundle to keep track of their sheep. It is a picture of the Lord being David's shepherd. He is taking care of him, and there is no reason to stoop to the level of his enemy. She, knowing of David's heroics, speaks of God hurling his enemies away like a sling. She was reminding him that he overcame Goliath and he was going to get past Saul, so it's not wise to have the blood of a fool on his hands.

God will accomplish His purposes in His Will and His Way. Do not do evil in the name of good. Trust God.

David has the humility to listen to Abigail. He thanks her for her wisdom and discernment. When Abigail tells Nabal what happened, the Bible describes his heart becoming like a stone, and he dies. Why would 1 Samuel 25:37 specify his "heart became like a stone"? The Lord is pointing out to David that what he was going to try and fix on his own and therefore compromise his integrity was a stone and He hurled Nabal out like a sling. We need to trust God and stop trying to work salvation by our own hand.


"Judge not the Lord by feeble sense, but trust Him for His grace. Behind a frowning providence He hides a smiling face."

William Cooper

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Scripture References

  • 1 Samuel 22-26
  • 1 Samuel 15
Ben Stuart Ben Stuart is the pastor of Passion City Church D.C. Prior to joining Passion City Church, Ben served as the executive director of Breakaway Ministries on the campus of Texas A&M. He also earned a master’s degree in historical theology from Dallas Theological Seminary. He and his wife, Donna, live to inspire and equip people to walk with God for a lifetime.