David and Saul make for a good study in character development. What does God desire our character to be like? What characteristics draw people to one person, and away from another? Both men were chosen by God to rule Israel from a meek beginning. While some characteristics are common in the two, some differences are seen.
One stark difference can be drawn from verse 1. Saul was hunting David down not because David was an enemy of Israel. Truthfully, David was a great asset to Israel and Saul’s reign. No, David was not Israel’s enemy nor was he Saul’s enemy. However, Saul had a misguided belief that David was his enemy.
Saul’s character was focused on self; what was good for Saul. David’s character was focused on others, what was good for Israel. This is why good fighting men deserted Saul and the comfort of home in Israel to join David who lived in the rugged semi-desert city just outside of Israel’s territory in David’s time.
David’s character is seen in the way he dealt with the Benjamites who came to him (16-18). Saul was of the tribe of Benjamin. Naturally, David would be skeptical about the intention of a group of fighting Benjamites arriving at his refuge city. David did the attack them. Nor did he turn them away. Rather, David accepted them trusting that the God of their fathers knew their intentions and would deal with them (17). This took faith in God which strengthens a person’s courage.
The character that God looks for is one that trusts and loves him. A character that does so is one who is after God’s own heart. They want to be like Christ who is the exact representation of God’s being. A character that trusts God overcomes fear with faith. They have peace of mind because their thoughts are not on themselves but on God and others. Do I rely on God, or myself?