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  • Writer's pictureThe Hermit of Antipolo

Saul and David (Holy Warriors Part 61)

Today’s readings:

1 Samuel 18:6-19:7

Psalm 56:2-14

Mark 3:7-12

Today we have the tale of two warriors, Saul and David. Saul was the first king of Israel, and David succeeded him. From them we learn how to act, or not act, as holy warriors.

David had killed Goliath and given Israel the victory, and later on he successfully carried out military missions. The people extolled him, with the women singing, “Saul has slain his thousands, David his tens of thousands.” (1 Sm 18:7). What was Saul’s reaction? “Saul was very angry and resentful of the song” (1 Sm 18:8a). “From that day on, Saul kept a jealous eye on David.” (1 Sm 18:9). He even wanted to kill him.

What lessons for holy warriors can we learn?

First, God chooses and anoints his warriors, and grants them divine favor, enabling them to successfully carry out His will. Such warriors are destined for greatness. But if warriors act contrary to their call, they fall in disfavor with God, and the consequences are severe. “The next day an evil spirit from God rushed upon Saul, and he raged in his house.” (1 Sm 18:10a). Now no evil can come from God, who is all holy. What then does this mean? “The spirit of the Lord had departed from Saul, and he was tormented by an evil spirit from the Lord.” (1 Sm 16:14). This refers to the change in God’s relationship with Saul. Saul lost divine favor. The language about evil from God just highlights the big change, from being anointed to being dis-anointed.

Second, holy warriors are part of the one army of God. There is no room for resentment and jealousy if someone else is doing better than we are. In fact, we should rejoice if we have outstanding comrades-in-arms, who can be more effective than we are. When we look at our subordinates, we should look to them not only following in our footsteps, but exceeding us and excelling even more. This continually builds up the strength of the army.

Third, holy warriors serve God and not anyone else. We certainly do not serve ourselves, looking to protect and enhance our own position and power. And since we serve God and not those humans over us, we do not act in accordance with whether we are favored or not favored by our leaders. Saul was trying to kill David, either directly by his own hand or by means of his enemies in battle, and David knew this, because Jonathan told his so (1 Sm 19:2). Saul even offered his daughter Merob to David in marriage but then reneged on this and gave Merob to someone else. But “David served him as before.” (1 Sm 19:7b). Brethren will fail us, but we just look always to God, and continue to act as holy warriors. Reacting negatively to such brethren can bring us to disfavor with God, while simply continuing to do His will will cause blessings upon us. “The Philistine chiefs continued to make forays, but each time they took the field, David was more successful against them than any of Saul’s other officers, and his name was held in great esteem.” (1 Sm 18:30).

But at times the assaults against us, either from the enemy outside or within, might just seem too much to bear. How are we as holy warriors to cope?

One, again we look only to God. “Have mercy on me, God, for I am treated harshly; attackers press me all the day.” (Ps 56:2). God is merciful. And we must know that God is concerned for us and values our struggles and suffering. “My wanderings you have noted; are my tears not stored in your flask, recorded in your book?” (Ps 56:9). It is such comfort to know that God knows, that God is concerned, and that surely God will care for and sustain us. As David says, “This I know: God is on my side.” (Ps 56:10b). Wow. With God with me, who can be against me?!

Two, we may naturally experience fear, but we put our trust in God. “O Most High, when I am afraid, in you I place my trust.” (Ps 56:3c-4). We must be assured by His promises, to be with us always and keep us secure in His love and care. “I praise the word of God; I trust in God, I do not fear. What can mere flesh do to me?” (Ps 56:5).

Three, we are not to hate our enemies and exact vengeance on them, but leave them to the justice of God. “They are evil; watch them, God! Cast the nations down in your anger!” (Ps 56:8). With our brethren, we must be careful not to easily take offense, or be resentful, or be envious. Otherwise we end up contributing to the strife and division within the army.

We have our afflictions, but we do have the One who was afflicted for our sakes, and who brings healing to us in all our troubles. “He had cured many and, as a result, those who had diseases were pressing upon him to touch him.” (Mk 3:10). Let us continually press upon Jesus and touch him, to allow him to touch our hearts and keep us on the right track.

Then we continue to plod onward. We are privileged to be called as holy warriors. Let us fulfill what we have committed to do for our God. “I have made vows to you, God; with offerings I will fulfill them” (Ps 56:13).

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