Imagine the scene, a gloomy cave in the middle of nowhere, and a power player desperate to relieve himself. Maybe he ate the wrong things the night before, or the wrong combination of things. Something like that. Anyway he’s in a hurry so he leaves his bodyguards behind hurries in and crouches undignified. As he sighs with relief he hears the suggestion of a shuffle from somewhere at the back of the cave. He freezes. Was that an animal or is this what he’s always feared, caught out in the dark by the enemy he’s pursuing? Has the cat become the mouse? The predator the prey? Will he be found sprawled in the dust, his clothes a bundled smear of blood and mess? There’s a cough and a footfall, he expects to feel the point of a spear, his own discarded spear perhaps, needling the flesh in the back of his neck. Expects a triumphant sneer of a voice.
‘Gotcha,’ it might say, ‘now it’s your turn to cower and tremble. Your turn to wonder if this is your last moment. You’ve done enough damage to me. It’s over. You’re over. Tonight the world will know what a loser you are. You will be a public fool. A soon-to-be-forgotten laughingstock.’
He might say all this, the dark figure in the back of the cave, might threaten retribution and public shaming and cancelling of this king forever. But he doesn’t. No. In fact Saul never hears anything until he has finished up, tidied himself and stumbled back outside to his men. Then, eventually, a patient rebel emerges from the shadows and calls to him. Holding a slice of hacked robe in his grubby hand. A symbol perhaps of the kingdom that Saul will one day lose.
‘I could have made a mess of you,’ David calls to him, waving the cloth. ‘This could have been your head I’m holding. Just as I did to Goliath. But no. I don’t want that. I don’t want payback, I want a better way forward Saul. I don’t want to lash out at you, don’t want to publicly embarrass you. You and I both know we have our faults. I want another way forward. Another solution. Throwing poison at each other will just destroy us both. That’s why I did nothing. Except trim your pride. We both need forgiveness, both need help. Let’s start again. Please.’
The king looks at the young soul rebel. He looks small there, talking peace. No longer a threat. Saul thinks, wonders, weighs up his options…
Drawing on 1 Samuel 24 v 1-15