Beware Working Salvation Yourself

1 Samuel 24:12 – May the Lord judge between me and you, may the Lord avenge me against you, but my hand shall not be against you.

1 Samuel 25:30-33 – 30 And when the Lord has done to my lord according to all the good that he has spoken concerning you and has appointed you prince over Israel, 31 my lord shall have no cause of grief or pangs of conscience for having shed blood without cause or for my lord working salvation himself. And when the Lord has dealt well with my lord, then remember your servant.”
32 And David said to Abigail, “Blessed be the Lord, the God of Israel, who sent you this day to meet me! 33 Blessed be your discretion, and blessed be you, who have kept me this day from bloodguilt and from working salvation with my own hand!

In 1 Samuel 24 and 25, David is in two very different situations with one similar temptation. In chapter 24, David has the opportunity to kill King Saul, the man who has been chasing him down to take David’s life (a scene which has a similar event repeated in chapter 26). In chapter 25, David has the opportunity to strike against Nabal for the insult done him and his men. In both instances, God prevents David from taking matters into his own hands, from working salvation himself.

Notice, as you consider these two situations, David could have easily justified his actions. And, from the way that God has recorded these events, David’s self-justification would have been wrong. David could have argued that Samuel had anointed him as king over Israel, and here God had given him the kingdom if only he would end Saul’s life. In chapter 25, David easily could have rationalized that Nabal had earned what he would receive from David.

But, in both of these instances, God had another lesson to teach us. God intended to put David on the throne in his own timing. God intended to provide for David’s men through the wisdom and kindness of Abigail. Had David stretched out his hand and attacked in either situation, David would have failed to see the salvation that the Lord intended to provide. More than this, David would have found himself guilty of attacking a man still called the Lord’s anointed in the case of Saul or simply of lowering himself to do violence to a fool in the case of Nabal. Either way, David would not have been guiltless.

There are both practical and spiritual lessons here for us. On the practical side, we must realize that God is active in our lives. God is able to work to defend our reputations or right many a wrong done against us without us having to take matters into our own hands. When we are insulted, especially in a meaningless arena like social media, we do not have to rise to our own defense at every provocation. Often times it is better for us to turn the other cheek and allow others to speak out in our defense. God has ways of accomplishing his will that can keep us from stooping to the level of those who would sin against us.

In a spiritual sense, there is a depiction of the gospel in both chapters. The wording in both instances has to do with salvation. The lesson to learn is that, ultimately, David must not try to work his own salvation. With New Testament eyes, we can see that we cannot try to work our own salvation lest we miss out on salvation. Christ has done the only work that can be done to save our souls. Attempting to earn any part of salvation negates your participation in true saving faith via God’s grace in Christ.