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“The Colour Of Conviction.”
“David’s men said to him, ‘This is the day about which the LORD said to you, “I will give your enemy into your hand, and you can do to him whatever seems appropriate to you.”’ So David got up and quietly cut off an edge of Saul’s robe. Afterward David’s conscience bothered him because he had cut off an edge of Saul’s robe.” 1Samuel 24:4-5. NET.
How can such a seemingly little thing create so much regret? We have all been there! Maybe you said or did something – something that perhaps was going to set the wheels into motion which can never be reversed – words that can never be unsaid or actions that cannot be undone - and suddenly you’re second guessing yourself with regret. We all know what that is like to some extent. That’s not an uncommon thing. You have done something for which afterwards you have been deeply convicted with remorse; almost as though your heart is being ripped out of you. I know I have.
Picture this; David has been on the run from King Saul, when on this particular day, Saul is within a whisker of capturing David. All this chasing thru the wilderness for days on end still requires a man – even a king – to answer that call of nature that waits for no-one! I can imagine poor old Saul desperately looking this way and that for a suitable place to go and relieve himself in private, when up above him he spots a cave. He calls his men to a stop, he dismounts from his trusty steed, and he hastens up a steep rocky slope to the cave, into which he quickly retreats. But what he doesn’t realise is that hiding in this very cave is David, and at least a part of his rebel crew. Now, I’m not too sure who to feel more sorry for here; Saul, who is about to be placed in an embarrassingly compromised position where all his private business is about to become somewhat public, or David and his men, who now find them themselves in a very sticky situation!
But it is here when David’s men see his chance. “Dave, here’s your big opportunity! God has brought your enemy straight to you! He’s fair game! We’ve actually caught him with his pants down! Go for it!” In fact, their words, “you can do to him whatever seems appropriate to you” are very fitting words. You see, that is our natural inclination. We have this natural inclination towards doing what we feel justified to do. And sometimes, as David’s men urged, that inclination can be based on a false premise that your actions are even permitted by God…even when it’s wrong, or not the wisest thing to do.
David could’ve felt justified at running his knife across Saul’s throat, if he really wanted to. Saul had been relentless in hunting David down like a dirty dog, treating him like he was a criminal, even though David had done nothing but faithfully serve Saul, Israel and God! But Saul had become consumed with a crazy jealousy which brought them now to this very point.
“Go ahead, do whatever seems appropriate to you.” David’s men are like that proverbial little devil sitting on his shoulders, whispering enticingly into his ear. And you know something, David nearly fell for it. While Saul was busily occupied, David silently crept up behind him and, with his razor-sharp dagger, simply sliced a corner off Saul’s robe, and then snuck back to his men in the dark shadows. Saul didn’t know a thing! Perhaps he was too busy talking to himself on the toilet, or distracted flicking thru Facebook!
Having finished his business, Saul went back to his men, waiting down the bottom of the canyon. But as Saul mounted his horse, David’s conscience mounted within him. I find it interesting how various translations put v5.
- “But it came about afterward that David’s conscience bothered him because he had cut off the edge of Saul’s robe.” NASB.
- “…David was conscience-stricken...” NIV.
- “…David's heart struck him...” ESV.
- “…David’s heart troubled him...” NKJV.
David was convicted! He was overcome with diss-ease! Why?
- Because he killed the king? No.
- Because he inflicted even a small wound? Wrong again.
- Because he let his big chance against huge injustice slip?
No, none of those things. He was kicking himself for daring to dishonour God’s king. He cut the corner off the man’s robe! He was gutted that he did what seemed appropriate to himself, rather than do what was appropriate in God’s eyes.
I wonder how often we are guilty of simply doing what seems appropriate for ourselves.
- Have you ever been “bothered” by your conscience?
- Have you been “conscience-stricken?”
- Has your heart ever “struck” you?
- Have you ever been “troubled” by your heart?
Have you known that pang of conviction in your heart as you have lashed out in attack and kicked back out of anger….or even crept out of the shadows and cut the corner off a robe because of some injustice that has come against you? Can I say simply this? Thank God for that trouble in your heart.
That perhaps sounds strange, but it is better than having no conscience at all. Why would you thank God for a bothered conscience? Simply this; it tells you that, like David, you are sensitive to God’s voice within. Yes, you may have done what seems appropriate to you to begin with, but God’s voice speaks, and you have heard Him. His loving correction is the colour of conviction.
And like David did in the following verses, when you hear His voice sitting on your shoulder, whispering into your ear, and feeling it burning in your heart, you too can do what God leads you to do to make your wrong right, and to fix things up. David left the safety of the cave, revealed himself to the very king who is hunting for his head, and bowed before him!
Perhaps the bothered conscience is God prompting you to leave your safe cave and make things right today.
“Afterward David’s conscience bothered him because he had cut off an edge of Saul’s robe.” 1Samuel 24:4-5. NET.