READ: 1 Samuel 24-26
THINK: Can you picture yourself making the same choices that David made in chapter 24 and then again in chapter 26? I wish I could, but I’m honestly not sure that I would have shown the same level of restraint, especially the second time around. I mean, it’s pretty incredible when you think about it. David had never been anything but kind to Saul. He came and basically saved Saul’s bacon by taking out Goliath for him when it technically should have been Saul’s job. Then he continued to fight for Saul and work as a musician in Saul’s court. He even married Saul’s daughter. But when Saul learned that David, and not his own lineage, had been chosen by God to be Israel’s next king, he decided to kill him. And he was so driven by this thought that he tried to spear him not once but twice while David was playing the harp for him to cheer him up! Seriously. And then he kept on trying to hunt David down. But when the opportunity was sitting right there in front of him to take Saul’s life, David chose twice to make a very public display of his unwillingness to do that. And that’s not normal.
What’s normal is to wait for any opportunity, even the slightest chance, to humiliate and shame our enemies and to win a fight against them and then seize it immediately. That, I think, is our natural reaction as human beings. I know this to be true from both personal experience and from watching a three year-old, who does things he shouldn’t do every day of his life, jump at the chance to tattle on his 11 month-old sister every time she unknowingly steps even an inch out of line. We are so concerned with our own glory and so obsessed with our own image that we are willing to trample others, especially those who have wronged or opposed us in the past, if we believe that bringing them down will in any way enhance or elevate us. Doing anything else almost seems counterintuitive to us.
But David spared Saul’s life. Even thought Saul had wronged him and violated him and been and enemy to him. And I think there is so much to be gained from following David’s example here. The sad reality of our broken world is that there will always be people who oppose us and seek to tear us down and destroy us. Jesus promised us that if we follow him with our whole hearts then the world will hate us as it hated him. And, if you’re wired like me, this is a difficult reality to deal with. I relate powerfully to Michael Scott, the boss from the TV show The Office, when he says, “Do I need to be liked? No. I like to be liked; I want to be liked; I have to be liked. But I don’t have a need to be liked…like my need to be praised.” It is hard to deal with people who set themselves up against us. But they will always be there. And we can choose to seek revenge and vengeance and victory on our own. Or, we can model Christ and follow David’s example and show even our enemies a huge amount of love, honor, and respect and trust God to take care of the rest. Both options are on the table. Which will you choose?
PRAY: Confess the times where you have not acted like David did in your dealings with others. Confess the bitterness and anger in your heart to those in your world who oppose and oppress you. Turn the situation over to God and trust that his justice will always prevail.