The tug-of-war between King Saul and King-to-be David lasted a number of years. The man who could have been Saul’s Number One and led Saul to victory over the enemies of Israel was instead hunted by Saul. In many respects, Saul felt betrayed by David and probably God. David, on the other hand, definitely felt betrayed by Saul.
Saul wasn’t betrayed by David or God. Instead, Saul failed God and himself. Saul tried to maintain his place and power, but the “weight” of God was against it. It was only a matter of time. What is interesting about this story is that God had removed his blessing from Saul, yet David still called Saul God’s Anointed. David still respected the original anointing despite the situation.
Many people would not have blamed David if he had chosen to kill Saul. In that era, it would have been expected and often viewed as “right”. Still, David chose not to. This is one of those stories that people point to as supporting David’s righteousness (relatively). We need to view it as an appropriate response to betrayal.
Robbers, thieves, murderers, and rebels hid in caves. The dead were put into caves. David may be viewed as a rebel who hid in a cave. However, unlike the kings of the earth and others who hid in caves to hide from God (Revelation), David hid to avoid Saul so as to live. The kings and rulers of the earth hid in the caves to die. It was as if they assumed by dying they would escape the wrath they knew was coming their way.
Just like Saul, the kings and rulers of the earth were betrayed by themselves. The whole reason they wanted to hide in caves and die was that they had not fallen to their knees before the King of Creation. Yet, the King of Creation is not God of the dead. The King of Creation is God of the Living.
Taking this in a creative (liberty) direction, David is often considered a prefigure of Jesus. Therefore, Jesus cuts off a corner of our garments of worldly wealth. He then lets us walk out of the cave of our own demise. He then presents us with proof of his grace. How do we respond?
1) Interacting with people and having a relationship with them, probably means that if there is not actual betrayal, we may feel like it. Compare Saul’s, David’s, and Jesus’ responses to betrayal.
2) When it comes to betrayal, far too often we look at the other before we look at ourselves. Think of a time you felt betrayed. How did you contribute to the situation?
3) Betrayal and grace. Knowing that betrayal (or at least the feeling of it) will occur, how can we develop patterns of grace? How can we be better at not causing others to not feel betrayed by us?