Lessons from the Life of David – Developing Character

January 27 – February 2

Key Text

“He that is slow to anger is better than the mighty; and he that ruleth his spirit than he that taketh a city” (Proverbs 16:32).

Study Help: Conflict and Courage, 168–170; The Ministry of Healing, 485–487.


“No form of vice has a more baleful effect upon the character than has human passion not under the control of the Holy Spirit. No other victory we can gain will be so precious as the victory gained over self.’’ The Ministry of Healing, 485.



  • What kind of reception did David meet at Keilah, Ziph, and Maon? 1Samuel 23:1, 2, 5, 9–15, 19, 20, 24, 25.
  •  What happened between David and Saul in the cave of Engedi? 1 Samuel 23:29; 24:1–6.

 Note: “David had only six hundred men in his company, while Saul advanced against him with an army of three thousand. In a secluded cave the son of Jesse and his men waited for the guidance of God as to what should be done. As Saul was pressing his way up the mountains, he turned aside, and entered, alone, the very cavern in which David and his band were hidden. When David’s men saw this they urged their leader to kill Saul. The fact that the king was now in their power was interpreted by them as certain evidence that God Himself had delivered the enemy into their hand, that they might destroy him. David was tempted to take this view of the matter; but the voice of conscience spoke to him, saying, ‘Touch not the anointed of the Lord.’

“David’s men were still unwilling to leave Saul in peace, and they reminded their commander of the words of God, ‘Behold, I will deliver thine enemy into thine hand, that thou mayest do to him as it shall seem good unto thee. Then David arose, and cut off the skirt of Saul’s robe privily’ (1 Samuel 24:4). But his conscience smote him afterward, because he had even marred the garment of the king.” Patriarchs and Prophets, 661.



  • What can we learn from David’s act of merciful restraint toward Saul? Proverbs 16:32; Romans 12:19–21.

Note: “The conduct of David toward Saul has a lesson. By command of God, Saul had been anointed as king over Israel. Because of his disobedience the Lord declared that the kingdom should be taken from him; and yet how tender and courteous and forbearing was the conduct of David toward him!” The Ministry of Healing, 484.

“The course of David made it manifest that he had a Ruler whom he obeyed. He could not permit his natural passions to gain the victory over him; for he knew that he that ruleth his own spirit, is greater than he who taketh a city. If he had been led and controlled by human feelings, he would have reasoned that the Lord had brought his enemy under his power in order that he might slay him, and take the government of Israel upon himself. Saul’s mind was in such a condition that his authority was not respected, and the people were becoming irreligious and demoralized. Yet the fact that Saul had been divinely chosen king of Israel kept him in safety, for David conscientiously served God, and he would not in any wise harm the anointed of the Lord.” “Ellen G. White Comments,” The Seventh-day Adventist Bible Commentary, vol. 2, 1021.

  • How did David appeal to the heart of Saul? 1 Samuel 24:7–15.



  • What should we learn from the caution with which David accepted Saul’s apparently warm response to his mercy? 1 Samuel 24:16–22; Matthew 10:16.

Note: “When Saul heard the words of David he was humbled, and could not but admit their truthfulness. His feelings were deeply moved as he realized how completely he had been in the power of the man whose life he sought. …

“Knowing what he did of Saul’s past course, David could put no confidence in the assurances of the king, nor hope that his penitent condition would long continue. So when Saul returned to his home David remained in the strongholds of the mountains.

“The enmity that is cherished toward the servants of God by those who have yielded to the power of Satan changes at times to a feeling of reconciliation and favor, but the change does not always prove to be lasting.” Patriarchs and Prophets, 662.

  • What occurred at a time when Israel seemed to be most in need of guidance and security? 1 Samuel 25:1, first part.

 Note: “It was when the nation was racked with internal strife, when the calm, God-fearing counsel of Samuel seemed to be most needed, that God gave His aged servant rest. Bitter were the reflections of the people as they looked upon his quiet resting place, and remembered their folly in rejecting him as their ruler; for he had had so close a connection with Heaven that he seemed to bind all Israel to the throne of Jehovah. It was Samuel who had taught them to love and obey God; but now that he was dead, the people felt that they were left to the mercies of a king who was joined to Satan, and who would divorce the people from God and heaven.” Patriarchs and Prophets, 664.



  • Where did David flee following the death of Samuel, and what was on his heart there? 1 Samuel 25:1, last part; Psalms 120:1, 2; 121:1, 2, 7, 8.

 Note: “David took the opportunity to seek a place of greater security; so he fled to the wilderness of Paran. It was here that he composed the one hundred and twentieth and twenty-first psalms.” Patriarchs and Prophets, 664.

  • How was David’s normally kind, gentlemanly spirit put to the test in Paran? 1 Samuel 25:5–12.

Note: “David and his men had been like a wall of protection to the shepherds and flocks of Nabal; and now this rich man was asked to furnish from his abundance some relief to the necessities of those who had done him such valuable service. David and his men might have helped themselves from the flocks and herds, but they did not. They behaved themselves in an honest way. Their kindness, however, was lost upon Nabal.” Patriarchs and Prophets, 665.



  • What was David’s reaction to Nabal’s ingratitude? How did Abigail respond? 1 Samuel 25:13–18; 23–28.

Note: “He [David] commanded his men to equip themselves for an encounter; for he had determined to punish the man who had denied him what was his right, and had added insult to injury. This impulsive movement was more in harmony with the character of Saul than with that of David, but the son of Jesse had yet to learn of patience in the school of affliction.” Patriarchs and Prophets, 665.

“The piety of Abigail, like the fragrance of a flower, breathed out all unconsciously in face and word and action. The Spirit of the Son of God was abiding in her soul. Her speech, seasoned with grace, and full of kindness and peace, shed a heavenly influence. Better impulses came to David, and he trembled as he thought what might have been the consequences of his rash purpose. ‘Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God’ (Matthew 5:9). Would that there were many more like this woman of Israel, who would soothe the irritated feelings, prevent rash impulses, and quell great evils by words of calm and well-directed wisdom.

“A consecrated Christian life is ever shedding light and comfort and peace. It is characterized by purity, tact, simplicity, and usefulness. It is controlled by that unselfish love that sanctifies the influence. It is full of Christ, and leaves a track of light wherever its possessor may go.” lbid., 667.

  • What was the effect of Abigail’s response? 1 Samuel 25:32–35, 38–42; Psalm 141:5.

Note: “Abigail was a wise reprover and counselor. David’s passion died away under the power of her influence and reasoning. He was convinced that he had taken an unwise course and had lost control of his own spirit. …

“There are many who, when they are reproved, think it praiseworthy if they receive the rebuke without becoming impatient; but how few take reproof with gratitude of heart and bless those who seek to save them from pursuing an evil course.’’ Patriarchs and Prophets, 667.

“David had taken an oath that Nabal and his household should perish; but now he saw that it was not only wrong to make such a vow, but it would be wrong to keep it.” The Signs of the Times, October 26, 1888.

“David afterward married Abigail. He was already the husband of one wife, but the custom of the nations of his time had perverted his judgment and influenced his actions. Even great and good men have erred in following the practices of the world. The bitter result of marrying many wives was sorely felt throughout all the life of David.” Patriarchs and Prophets, 668.



1     How were David’s men tempters to him in the cave of Engedi?

2    Knowing that apostate Adventists are soon to become the bitterest enemies of God’s people (Testimonies, vol. 5, 463), what should we learn from the noble attitude of David toward Saul?

3    What crisis in Adventism occurred at Sister White’s death?

4    Contrast the attitude of Nabal with that of his wife.

5    Like David, how are we tested in areas in which we may think we are already strong?