A disturbed conscience is a gift of grace. It draws our attention to the fact that we have made a faithless or rash decision and provides us with an opportunity to correct course. A disturbed conscience reveals when our attitudes or actions are not corresponding with faith in Christ. Instead, they are erupting from a distorted belief that we know best. Our preferences, expectations, and agendas are being elevated above the will and ways of God.
Ignoring the gift of a disturbed conscience is dangerous. Over time, it may harden and callous until all sensitivity is lost. To avoid such a dehumanizing outcome, we must learn to acknowledge when we are wrong, God is right, and resolve to act in accordance with what we believe.
This is what David does in 1 Samuel 24. At first glance, cutting a portion of King Saul’s robe off as he slept may not seem like a big deal. However, this gesture signified that the kingdom of Israel was being torn away from Saul. The fact that David’s hand tore the robe suggests that he sought to seize the kingdom from Saul in that moment even though God had already promised to give it to him. Rather than waiting on the Lord’s timing and trusting the Lord’s will, David subtly seeks to expedite his journey to the throne. But, his conscience would not let him go any further.
He then models how we might respond to a disturbed conscience with a humble confession that leads to lasting change. Interestingly, it appears as though Saul’s conscience is bothered by David’s example. Although Saul recognizes David’s act as righteous, he himself does not follow suit in humility and recourse. Future passages reveal that Saul ignored the gift of a disturbed conscience and that would result in devasting consequences.
- A Disturbed Conscience (vv. 1-7a)
- A Humble Confession (vv. 7b-15)
- A Righteousness Confirmed (vv. 16-22)