Vengeance Anyone?

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Do you know what stands out to me the most about David’s story in the Bible? It’s not that he was a man after God’s heart, which most assuredly inspires me. It’s not that he ultimately repented and was forgiven for his sin of staying home from war to have an illicit affair and arrange for the killing of his lover’s husband, though I most certainly am inspired by his repentance and God’s mercy on him. What stands out above all else in David’s story is something entirely else.

David was persecuted beyond measure by King Saul, and then had incredible opportunities to take vengeance on his arch enemy. Over and again, David was virtually killed by King Saul. He was under such persecution, and his life at such great risk, of King Saul that David could not live any semblance of a normal, peaceful life. He was constantly on the run. He constantly had to seek desperate measures to so much as survive. And after all the torment and torture and cruelty David endured because of King Saul, he was given several opportunities to seek not just any old kind of revenge – but to literally kill King Saul in revenge and to protect his own life.

Do you know what David did? He refused to kill King Saul because he chose to honor God’s command to not touch God’s anointed, i.e. King Saul. He chose to honor God. And not only did he refuse to kill King Saul when he had the opportunity, he ultimately spoke kind and gracious words about King Saul. Did David who would become King David lead a perfect life? Of course not. Anyone who knows his story knows that he did not. But not only did he repent from his sexual immorality, but in the case of his interactions with King Saul he chose obedience to God over what his flesh so easily could have tried to justify and then do. But he left King Saul in the hands of the Lord. King Saul ultimately died a gruesome death. And David was made King David. God honored David’s obedience. And God took care of David’s enemy.

The Bible teaches that vengeance belongs to God, yet how many of us when it comes to our enemies truly choose to love them, to forgive them, and to leave them in the hands of  the Lord? One of my favorite psalms reminds me to not get myself upset over evildoers. They are not my responsibility. Nor are they yours. They are God’s.

My responsibility – and yours – is to love, to forgive, and to hand our enemies over to the Lord.

READING:

Never take your own revenge, beloved, but leave room for the wrath of God, for it is written, “VENGEANCE IS MINE, I WILL REPAY,” says the Lord. Romans 12:19 NASB underlining added

 “The men of David said to him, “Behold, this is the day of which the Lord said to you, ‘Behold; I am about to give your enemy into your hand, and you shall do to him as it seems good [b]to you.’” Then David arose and cut off the edge of Saul’s robe secretly.It came about afterward that David’s [c]conscience bothered him because he had cut off the edge of Saul’s robe. So he said to his men, “Far be it from me because of the Lord that I should do this thing to my lord, the Lord’s anointed, to stretch out my hand against him, since he is the Lord’s anointed. David [d]persuaded his men with these words and did not allow them to rise up against Saul. And Saul arose, [e]left the cave, and went on his way. 1 Samuel 24-4-7 NASB underlining added

The LORD forbid that I should put out my hand against the LORD’s anointed. But take now the spear that is at his head and the jar of water, and let us go.” 1 Samuel 26:11 ESV

“The LORD therefore be judge and decide between you and me; and may He see and plead my cause and deliver me from your hand.”

      16When David had finished speaking these words to Saul, Saul said, “Is this your voice, my son David?” Then Saul lifted up his voice and wept. 17He said to David, “You are more righteous than I; for you have dealt well with me, while I have dealt wickedly with you. 18“You have declared today that you have done good to me, that the LORD delivered me into your hand and yet you did not kill me. 19“For if a man finds his enemy, will he let him go away safely? May the LORD therefore reward you with good in return for what you have done to me this day. 20“Now, behold, I know that you will surely be king, and that the kingdom of Israel will be established in your hand. 21“So now swear to me by the LORD that you will not cut off my descendants after me and that you will not destroy my name from my father’s household.”22David swore to Saul. And Saul went to his home, but David and his men went up to the stronghold. 1 Samuel 24:15-22 underlining added

PSALM 37

Do not fret because of evildoers,
            Be not envious toward wrongdoers.

      2For they will wither quickly like the grass
            And fade like the green herb.
      3Trust in the LORD and do good;
            Dwell in the land and cultivate faithfulness.
      4Delight yourself in the LORD;
            And He will give you the desires of your heart.
      5Commit your way to the LORD,
            Trust also in Him, and He will do it.
      6He will bring forth your righteousness as the light
            And your judgment as the noonday.
      7Rest in the LORD and wait patiently for Him;
            Do not fret because of him who prospers in his way,
            Because of the man who carries out wicked schemes.
      8Cease from anger and forsake wrath;
            Do not fret; it leads only to evildoing.
      9For evildoers will be cut off,
            But those who wait for the LORD, they will inherit the land.
      10Yet a little while and the wicked man will be no more;
            And you will look carefully for his place and he will not be there.
      11But the humble will inherit the land
            And will delight themselves in abundant prosperity.
      12The wicked plots against the righteous
            And gnashes at him with his teeth.
      13The Lord laughs at him,
            For He sees his day is coming.
      14The wicked have drawn the sword and bent their bow
            To cast down the afflicted and the needy,
            To slay those who are upright in conduct.
      15Their sword will enter their own heart,
            And their bows will be broken.
      16Better is the little of the righteous
            Than the abundance of many wicked.
      17For the arms of the wicked will be broken,
            But the LORD sustains the righteous.
      18The LORD knows the days of the blameless,
            And their inheritance will be forever.
      19They will not be ashamed in the time of evil,
            And in the days of famine they will have abundance.
      20But the wicked will perish;
            And the enemies of the LORD will be like the glory of the pastures,
            They vanish—like smoke they vanish away.
      21The wicked borrows and does not pay back,
            But the righteous is gracious and gives.
      22For those blessed by Him will inherit the land,
            But those cursed by Him will be cut off.
      23The steps of a man are established by the LORD,
            And He delights in his way.
      24When he falls, he will not be hurled headlong,
            Because the LORD is the One who holds his hand.
      25I have been young and now I am old,
            Yet I have not seen the righteous forsaken
            Or his descendants begging bread.
      26All day long he is gracious and lends,
            And his descendants are a blessing.
      27Depart from evil and do good,
            So you will abide forever.
      28For the LORD loves justice
            And does not forsake His godly ones;
            They are preserved forever,
            But the descendants of the wicked will be cut off.
      29The righteous will inherit the land
            And dwell in it forever.
      30The mouth of the righteous utters wisdom,
            And his tongue speaks justice.
      31The law of his God is in his heart;
            His steps do not slip.
      32The wicked spies upon the righteous
            And seeks to kill him.
      33The LORD will not leave him in his hand
            Or let him be condemned when he is judged.
      34Wait for the LORD and keep His way,
            And He will exalt you to inherit the land;
            When the wicked are cut off, you will see it.
      35I have seen a wicked, violent man
            Spreading himself like a luxuriant tree in its native soil.
      36Then he passed away, and lo, he was no more;
            I sought for him, but he could not be found.
      37Mark the blameless man, and behold the upright;
            For the man of peace will have a posterity.
      38But transgressors will be altogether destroyed;
            The posterity of the wicked will be cut off.
      39But the salvation of the righteous is from the LORD;
            He is their strength in time of trouble.
      40The LORD helps them and delivers them;
            He delivers them from the wicked and saves them,
            Because they take refuge in Him. 
Psalm 37 NASB underlining added
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