Have you heard the expression, “Cowboy Up”? It usually means something like, “Tough it out” or “Be a man” or “Grin and Bear it”. It has to do with standing up for yourself and pulling yourself up by your own bootstraps. Dusty jeans, dirty boots, sweat, aching muscles, and getting back up. There was even a movie entitled “Cowboy Up”, released ten years ago, starring Kiefer Sutherland and centered around professional bull riding.
Have you ever said something like this, “When they come at me like _______, I can’t help it. I have to say_________. I’ve got to be honest, right? It is the most natural thing in the world to respond in kind, to speak the way we’ve been spoken to. It seems fair. It’s almost like the Golden Rule, right?
King Saul was chasing David through the desert. David used to work for him and Saul liked him, right up to the point when he realized that David had been anointed by God to be the next king. That can certainly be a downer in a working relationship!
David, always a strong and charismatic leader, soon had 600 men gathered around him as he stayed one step ahead of Saul.
In this story, Saul was pursuing David with 3000 to David’s 600. After moving through some pretty rough country, Saul tired and went into a large cave to rest. What he didn’t know was that David had chosen that very cave to hide in! He and his 600 were lining the walls of the cave in the darkness. As Saul dropped off to sleep, David’s men told him, “See, this is clearly a sign from God. He has put Saul into your hands!” David crept up to Saul and cut off a corner of Saul’s robe.
Then, his conscience kicked in. “I never should have touched the king. He was anointed by God as well!” He did nothing to harm Saul and prevented his men from acting as well.
When Saul awoke, minutes or hours later, we don’t know, he left the cave only to hear a familiar voice behind him calling his name and proclaiming innocence.
When David finished saying this, Saul asked, “Is that your voice, David my son?” And he wept aloud. “You are more righteous than I,” he said. “You have treated me well, but I have treated you badly. You have just now told me of the good you did to me; the LORD delivered me into your hands, but you did not kill me. When a man finds his enemy, does he let him get away unharmed? May the LORD reward you well for the way you treated me today. I know that you will surely be king and that the kingdom of Israel will be established in your hands. Now swear to me by the LORD that you will not cut off my descendants or wipe out my name from my father’s family.” 1 Samuel 24
Interesting! Looks like there’s been a little power shift. What an admission for Saul, David’s mortal enemy, to make!
It was the power of God in David that kept him from killing the very one who was trying to end his own life. He was able to take the high road and lead his men to do the same.
You might be faced with challenges or temptations that are more than you can handle at this very moment. God is anxiously waiting to see what you will do. Will you turn to Him for strength? God loves it when I pray, “I can’t do this by myself. I need You!” He is waiting for the chance to power you to speak and act, not in the way that seems natural to us, but in His way. That’s the way to get real power in your life, power to do things that you never would be able to do on your own. Don’t Cowboy Up, Pray Up!
adapted from devotional shared at CBMC 7/23/09 and family August 2010.