It should not come as a surprise to know the author of 1 Samuel intends for you to make comparisons between Saul and David the most poignant of these contrasts being 1 Samuel 28 and 30. Notice, both men are faced with a crucial battle. They both have made a series of decisions on their own which have put them in this difficult situation. They need answers. They need direction, desperately.
Saul seeks out a witch for he says, “God is departed from me, and answereth me no more…therefore I have called thee, that thou mayest make known unto me what I shall do” (1 Samuel 28:15). All the other times the Lord told him what to do, he rebelled. Now he wants to know what to do, but he can’t get an answer. Samuel puts it bluntly when he scolds Saul, “Wherefore then dost thou ask of me, seeing the Lord is departed from thee, and is become thine enemy? For the Lord hath rent the kingdom out of thine hand…because thou obeyedst not the voice of the Lord” (1 Samuel 28:16–18).
David is desperate while his men conspire to stone him. David cries out to the Lord and “encouraged himself in the Lord his God” (1 Samuel 30:6). Saul melts to the floor in anguish. David pours his heart out in repentance and then requests the Lord’s instructions with the intentions to obey completely. One received forgiveness and direction. The other writhed in his miserable rejection.
There is a vital lesson we must learn from these two men. No one is perfect, but a lesson we learned earlier in David’s life is that “the Lord seeth not as man seeth; for man looketh on the outward appearance, but the Lord looketh on the heart” (1 Samuel 16:7).
Recently, I was listening to a podcast, and the interviewee was speaking about hiring great potential on your team. He said, “Even a donkey can only pretend to be a thoroughbred for so long.” You may try to maintain the appearances of godliness, but God knows your heart. When it comes to obedience, God knows your track record. You say, “Surely the darkness shall cover me,” but “the eyes of the Lord are in every place, Beholding the evil and the good” (Psalm 139:11; Proverbs 15:3). He searches the heart “even to give every man according to his ways, and according to the fruit of his doings…Neither is there any creature that is not manifest in his sight: but all things are naked and opened unto the eyes of him with whom we have to do…Therefore judge nothing before the time, until the Lord come, who both will bring to light the hidden things of darkness, and will make manifest the counsels of the hearts” (Jeremiah 17:10; Hebrews 4:13; 1 Corinthians 4:5)
Those who live like David—who are ready to repent and obey—are the ones who will one day “have praise of God.”