1 Samuel 24:1-6; 25:32-34; 26:9-11
When someone cuts you off in traffic, what do you want to do? When you get passed over for a job that you worked hard to get and for which you were perfectly qualified, how do you feel? When someone hurts your child, what do you want to do?
Do you know why many movies are popular? They are popular because the bad guy gets it in the end. We love to see justice served. In the late 80’s Tom Selleck starred in a movie called An Innocent Man. A couple of crooked cops busted into his house by mistake, thinking that it was a drug house. They shot and wounded him in the process. Rather than admitting their mistake, they planted drugs in his house and arrested him. He was convicted and did hard time in prison. It was difficult to watch this movie because he did not deserve the terrible things that happened to him in prison. When he was released he found those crooked cops and “set the record straight” on their heads.
The crowd cheered with every blow he railed on the heads of those wicked men. Why? Because, in our natural selves, we demand vengeance! We can’t stand injustice. This fact makes today’s lesson a very difficult pill to swallow. Why would it have been wrong for David to kill Saul in the cave? Why would it have been wrong for David to teach Nabal a lesson? Why would it have been wrong for the spear to have been thrust through Saul’s body? After all, hadn’t David already been anointed as king? Wasn’t it just a matter of time before he would take Saul’s place anyway? Wouldn’t killing Saul just speed up the process and help God out?
There are two reasons why it would have been wrong for David to have done these things and why it would be wrong for us to seek vengeance:
- Repaying evil for evil makes you evil. Had David wreaked havoc on Nabal’s estate, how would it have been any different from Nabal.
- It’s a matter of control. The motive behind vengeance is to make someone pay for what they have taken from us. We want the perpetrator to suffer so that we can regain control over the things that were taken away from us. Here’s the problem. Nothing really belongs to us. We don’t even belong to ourselves. Everything is God’s. There is only one person in the universe that has the right to be upset with people who take things away—God. Why do we get upset when someone cuts us off in traffic? Because we believe that it is our space. Why are we upset when someone hurts our child? Because we think it is our child. Wrong. Our space, our children, our reputation, our money, all of it belongs to God. If God wants to pay someone back for doing something to His stuff that is in your care, then that is His prerogative. But, if He doesn’t, then He doesn’t have to.
Who are you mad at today? With whom do you have a serious bone to pick? How much energy are you spending on this issue? If you do “get back” at that person, will it really make things better? Will hurting that person’s reputation really restore yours? Will chopping that guys head off really bring back your child? Let it go. God knows the situation. He will settle the real score, in His time. Take all that energy and focus it on deepening your relationship with God. Let His Spirit fill you up and wash out all that bitterness and vengeful feeling. When you start letting go of this and letting God fill you up, then you will begin to realize what Jesus meant when He instructed His followers to love their enemies and pray for those who persecute them. We can be like David and say,
“Far be it from me to hurt God’s anointed. It is God’s Kingdom, and when He wants me to take the throne, then I will, but I will never force my own hand.”