1 Samuel 24 | Romans 12:16
Do Something! …Or not?
“Doing nothing.” Sounds like the top of your spring break to-do list, doesn’t it? It also sounds kind of lazy…maybe irresponsible.
In the 1990s there was a popular TV sit-com (“situational comedy”) that described itself as “a show about nothing.” But, like our topic, there was more to it than that. You see, the show was about a group of irresponsible friends living on their own in New York City. And that something has been the premise for countless hours of television and movies.
What we’re talking about here, though, is the opposite of irresponsible. We’re talking about doing nothing against your enemy (or rival, etc.), even when presented with a golden opportunity. There is no better example of an opportunity like this than David’s, when he found himself alone in a dark cave with an unsuspecting King Saul–the same man who was actively hunting him and his cohorts, with the intent of annihilation.
So Saul chose 3,000 elite troops from all Israel and went to search for David and his men near the rocks of the wild goats.1 Samuel 24:2 NLT
It must be extremely frightening to be the target of a king and a 3,000 man army. David and his crew had to have been terrified by the prospect of getting ambushed. Then suddenly, they caught a break…
King Saul took a rest stop in the same cave where David and his men were holed up! Here was the king himself, unarmed and without his thousands-strong entourage.
“Now’s your opportunity!” David’s men whispered to him. “Today the Lord is telling you, ‘I will certainly put your enemy into your power, to do with as you wish.’” So David crept forward and cut off a piece of the hem of Saul’s robe.1 Samuel 24:4 NLT
But David didn’t attack King Saul. Instead, he just cut off a corner of the king’s robe. Here David had this amazing opportunity to put an end to the man who was hunting them all, and he decided…to do nothing?!
He said to his men, “The Lord forbid that I should do this to my lord the king. I shouldn’t attack the Lord’s anointed one, for the Lord himself has chosen him.” So David restrained his men and did not let them kill Saul.
1 Samuel 24:6-7 NLT
If you were with David, wouldn’t you at least ask for a vote? “Mr. David, sir, some of us were talking, and we think it might be a good idea to at least take Saul prisoner. You know, so we won’t have to worry about his 3,000 men killing us or anything.”
But David’s conscience told him otherwise. He knew that it was not his place to take revenge; it was God’s. And it was not weakness that had him do nothing against Saul–on the contrary, it probably took a lot of strength to restrain his men. In fact, it was the strongest choice he could have made.
If you find yourself in a situation like David’s–facing the unique opportunity to drop your enemy in their tracks, think about what David did. And consider these words from the Apostle Paul.
Never pay back evil with more evil. Do things in such a way that everyone can see you are honorable.
Romans 12:17 NLT
Questions for Group Discussion
- Why was David’s decision to do nothing to Saul the stronger one?
- Have you had an opportunity like David’s? Have you ever had the opportunity to stick it to your enemy or rival just lobbed into your lap?
- Is it always the stronger choice to do nothing? Aren’t there times when actually doing something might be better?
Challenge: For Example
It’s easy to speak in abstract terms. Let’s firm this idea up a bit.
Your challenge is to provide a real-life instance of this concept of strong inaction–besides the one in 1 Samuel 24. For example, in chess, it is often advisable not to capture a piece that has just taken one of yours, because it slows the progression of your offensive tactics.
- Find an example like the one above.
- Expound on it, explaining it in one paragraph.
- Write or print it on good looking paper with nice-looking lettering.
- Frame it and hang it somewhere to remind you.