For as punishment is to the evil act, so is reward to a good act. Now no evil deed is unpunished by God the just judge. Therefore no good deed is unrewarded, and so every good deed merits some good.

St. Thomas Aquinas, “Summa Theologica”

“No good deed goes unpunished” is something I think we’ve all heard at one time or another, and its origin might be found as a distortion of St. Thomas Aquinas’ quote above from Summa Theologica where Aquinas is addressing the question of “Whether works done without charity merit any, at least temporal, good?” Aquinas declares that any good deed done without love merits no reward, but evil deeds do require punishment. I was thinking about the notion of good deeds and punishment today when I read this verse from 1 Samuel 23:12.

Again David asked, “Will the citizens of Keilah surrender me and my men to Saul?”

And the Lord said, “They will.”

1 Samuel 23:12 (NIV)

When the town of Keilah was under attack by Philistine forces, King Saul did nothing to aid them. However, David heard about the problem, inquired of the Lord as to whether he should go, and then went on the word from the Lord. David wiped out the Philistine forces, and when Saul heard about it, he thought it an opportune time to capture David since “David has imprisoned himself by entering a town with gates and bars” (1 Samuel 23:7 NIV).

Now David had heard that Saul was planning to go to Keilah to destroy the town because David was there, so he asked the Lord for confirmation (cf. 1 Samuel 23:10).

Will the citizens of Keilah surrender me to him? Will Saul come down, as your servant has heard? Lord, God of Israel, tell your servant.”

And the Lord said, “He will.”

1 Samuel 23:11 (NIV)

Although the Lord gave David a clear answer, David asked him again if the people of Keilah would surrender him and his men to Saul. I wondered why David asked God this question a second time. We know that David had asked the Lord about going to Keilah twice too. He asked the second time because his men were afraid of going, so David, a compassionate man, asked God a second time if they should go to Keilah. However, it’s not clear why David asked God a second time about the people of Keilah. However, I have an idea as to why he asked.

David was shocked that the people he came to save would turn him over to a king who didn’t come to save them. Ironically, Saul had no problem mustering forces to go to Keilah to destroy it and take out David, but when it came to doing his job as king, he would have let the entire town die at the hands of their enemies. It was obvious that these people meant nothing to Saul, but they would have turned David over to him to save their own lives, and from my understanding of the text, it still looks like Saul was going to destroy the town anyway.

If David sought the favor of men rather than God, I could see him thinking, “No good deed goes unpunished.” However, David sought God’s will for his life and trusted in the Lord. Although he might have been shocked that the people of Keilah would turn him over to Saul, I think his concern was more for his men and the town being destroyed than it was his own life.

This is where we need our hearts to be. We need to be concerned about the things of God rather than people. We need to be motivated out of love for God and to help other people. When we are motivated by love, then we have received all the rewards we need.

In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.

Matthew 5:16 (NIV)

I pray that you rejoice in this day that the Lord has made! Thanks for stopping by!

Do you know God? God knows you, and he loves you. He sees you as significant because you are. No one is insignificant to Him. He’s with you today, and he wants you to know him. Jesus died for your sins and mine so we could be free of guilt, be free from death, and live eternally with him. Eternal salvation is just a prayer away.

Pray this prayer with me to accept the gift of salvation today:

Lord Jesus, forgive me for all my sins. I repent from my ways. Wash me in your blood and cleanse me from all unrighteousness. I believe that you died on the cross, were buried, and on the third day, God the Father raised you from the dead. Right now, Lord Jesus, I open the door to my heart, and I receive you into my heart as my Lord and personal Savior. Amen.

If you prayed that prayer, then congratulations! You are on the first step of a brand new life. Allow me to be the first to welcome you to my family, the family of God. There are abundant resources available online for new Christians. You can visit here for more information on what to do next. You can also leave me a comment, and I’ll do my best to help you on the next step of this incredible journey.


Aquinas, T. (n.d.). Summa Theologica. Christian Classics Ethereal Library. Retrieved April 20, 2022, from