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12

Sneak Attack

Key References: 1 Samuel 24; Patriarchs and Prophets, chap. 65, pp. 660-663; The Bible Story (1994), vol. 4, pp. 38-40; Our Beliefs, nos. 22, 11, 8.

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“Show proper respect to everyone, love the family of believers, fear God, honor the emperor” (1 Peter 2:17).

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We are respectful and considerate of others, regardless of how they treat us.

Have you ever been bullied? Is there someone who is always picking on you? Did you ever try to get even?

For months David and his band of men hid from King Saul. Life wasn’t boring. They had saved a border town from the Philistines. Jonathan had visited them. But mostly they just moved about, one step ahead of the spies who kept telling Saul where they were.

King Saul knew that David had been chosen by God to be the next king. But he was still trying to kill David. He wanted his own family to rule Israel. Once again someone sent a message to Saul to tell him where David was. This time, the message said, David and his men were in the wilderness of Engedi.

Saul took 3,000 men and went after David again. While trudging up a mountainside on his evil quest, Saul decided to stop for a few minutes, so he turned off the path toward a cave.

David had also received a message. He knew that Saul was after him again. David and his men had hidden in a cave. Caves were good places to hide. They were cool and usually off ered a supply of water. The men had to be very careful, though. It was possible to get trapped in the back of a cave. But God had protected them so far.

Suddenly the cave entrance got darker. A lone man entered. David’s men nearest the cave entrance quickly passed the word. Then another message was passed back. The lone man was King Saul. David’s men tried to convince him that King Saul was now in his hands. This was David’s chance to overtake his enemy and occupy the throne of Israel. David looked toward the entrance to the cave, where the king was. But he knew that it was not all right to hurt the king.

Yet David decided to see how close he could get to the king. Creeping quietly forward, David got next to King Saul. Quietly he reached out and cut a piece of cloth from the bottom of the king’s robe. Then, turning, he slowly crept back to his waiting men. They all waited quietly until King Saul got up and went out of the cave.

“Look what I did!” David cried out when the king was out of earshot.

“I ruined the king’s robe! I shouldn’t have been even that disrespectful!” he continued.

His men looked at him in amazement. What was he talking about! King Saul was trying to kill David, and here he was upset because he had ruined the king’s coat. As much as they loved and admired their leader, David’s men couldn’t always understand him.

David hurried to the entrance to the cave and called out after the retreating king.

“My lord the king!”

King Saul slowly turned around. He could see a young man kneeling down with his face on the ground. David continued to talk.

“Why do you listen when men say, ‘David is bent on harming you’? This day you have seen with your own eyes how the Lord delivered you into my hands in the cave. Some urged me to kill you, but I spared you; I said, ‘I will not lay my hand on my lord, because he is the Lord’s anointed’ ” (1 Samuel 24:9, 10). David slowly raised one arm up in the air. A piece of cloth fl uttered between his fingers.

“See this piece of your robe? I got close enough to you to cut it from your hem.” The king looked around at the bottom of his robe. Sure enough, there was a jagged edge where a piece had been cut out. He looked back up the hill at David. For a little while his heart was touched, and he realized that he had been unfair to David.

“I know you will be king someday,” Saul called back up the hill to David. “You are more righteous than I am. Who has ever heard of someone letting their enemy get away, as you did today?” There was a catch in Saul’s voice as he thought of what might have happened.

“Promise me, though,” Saul persisted, “that you will be kind to my family when you become king.” But he needn’t have mentioned it. Before him knelt a young man who knew how to treat others with consideration and respect regardless of how they treated him.