Revenge or Reconciliation

Today’s reading:  1 Samuel 24, Psalm 25

Chapter 24 of 1 Samuel opens with Saul and three thousand troops headed out to search for David. Ever since David killed Goliath in Chapter 17, women began to praise David more than Saul, and Saul was enraged with jealousy.  He was desperately trying to track down and get rid of David.  Hence, David was running for his life.

The plot became more interesting in verse 3 when Saul entered the cave in which David was hiding. He didn’t know David was in there, he was simply answering “the call of nature” and needed a semi-private place to go to the bathroom.  In short, this was David’s perfect opportunity.  God seemingly delivered Saul right into his hands.  Instead of running away, David could have gone on the offensive, taken out Saul, and claimed the throne that was coming to him anyway, right?

Have you ever found yourself in a similar situation? I’ll be honest, I can’t identify exactly.  I’ve never been in such a desperate situation where I had to run and/or hide from someone who was literally trying to kill me.  I have, however, been in situations where people were jealous.  Where others didn’t like me or what I stood for and, as a result, tried to harm me.  In most of these cases, I’ve had to make a choice between getting revenge and pursuing reconciliation.  My heart often wanted revenge while my head always knew reconciliation was the right choice.

Let’s take a closer look at how David worked through this this situation. We know he went on to be the greatest King God’s people ever had.  The Bible refers to him as “a man after God’s own heart”.  Because he sought reconciliation instead of revenge, he produced a completely unexpected outcome in this situation.

  • David made every effort to show mercy to his enemy (1 Samuel 24: 7-11) – In this case, David respected Saul’s position of power. Although Saul was trying to kill him, David knew it wasn’t right to take the life of another, especially God’s anointed King. He didn’t harm Saul, nor would he let any of his men harm Saul even though the opportunity was right in front of them.
  • David made every effort to communicate and build understanding with his enemy (1 Samuel 24:12-15) – By revealing the piece of robe he cut off, David helped Saul understand the opportunity he had to kill him. He went on to clearly profess his commitment to God’s authority, and allowed God to judge the situation.
  • David made every effort to be reconciled with his enemy (1 Samuel 24:16-22) – When Saul realized David’s genuine intent to make good from Saul’s evil actions, he asked David to have mercy on his family and descendants. David promised to honor Saul’s request, even after what Saul had done to him. In 2 Samuel 9, we will see David’s follow through on this promise when he invited Mephibosheth, Saul’s grandson, to live in his palace.

Will you take a few minutes to reflect on David’s approach and his commitment to honor his promises? He humbled himself, returned good for evil, turned hate into honor, and glorified God through a hopeless situation.  This is an example worth following.

“But I say to you who hear, Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you,  bless those who curse you, pray for those who abuse you (Luke 6:27-28).