1. "Then said Abishai to David, ‘God has given your enemy into your hands this day. Now therefore let me smite him to the earth at once with one stroke of the spear.'"
I Samuel 26: 8, Amplified Bible
2. "David said to Abishai, ‘Do not destroy him; for who can raise his hand against the Lord's anointed and be guiltless.'"
I Samuel 26: 9
"Revenge Versus Forgiveness"
"(She) that cannot forgive others breaks the bridge over which (she) must pass (herself); for every (person) has need to be forgiven."
What in my life do I need to be forgiven for?
Is there someone I need to offer my forgiveness to?
Have I forgiven myself for the things God has forgiven me for?
"Humanity is never so beautiful as when praying for forgiveness or else forgiving another."
Jean Paul Richter
"Nothing in this lost world bears the impress of the Son of God so surely as forgiveness."
There is a beautiful African proverb which says, "The one who forgives, ends the quarrel." It is with this thought that we look at the two sides of David's life, where revenge and forgiveness collide.
After David's success in killing the giant Goliath, he was invited to serve in King Saul's court as a musician and even a warrior. David was heralded as a grand person and brought a soothing spirit into the presence of King Saul, whom we find was subject to wild outbursts of rage. Saul even went so far as to heave a spear in David's direction. Finally, afraid for his life, David fled to the desert and mountains where he lived the life of a vagabond -- fighting off thieves, wild animals and anyone else who proved to be a threat.
It was in this environment where we find David running into the hostile Nabal. Revenge against Nabal's insults motivated David to threaten not only to kill Nabal, but his household, as well. Thanks to the prevailing kindness and sensible nature of Abigail, David was convinced to step back, take a deep breath, and let God handle the crisis.
But don't think for a moment that once we traverse a challenge in our lives it will never rear its ugly head again. Temptations aren't one time occurrences. They are like fleas -- they multiply as fast as they can. In David's life, the temptation to take revenge confronted him many times, especially when it came to taking revenge against his most aggressive enemy -- King Saul.
Our texts from I Samuel 26 relate to only one of several occasions when David could easily have killed King Saul.
In this particular situation, a sleeping King Saul, according to David's sidekick, Abishai, had been given into David's hands by God. In other words, Abishai, one of God's children, an Israelite, was urging David to take on King Saul. He went so far as to tell David that God had put King Saul into David's hands. And this is something you and I need to take note of. Just because someone calls themselves "Christian" doesn't mean everything that comes out of their mouths is "Christ-like!" Too frequently I hear words spoken by "Christians" in public life that are offensive and in some cases, downright lies. As in the case with Abishai, we need more Davids who have learned from their heavenly Father that if we want people to admire our Father in heaven, we need to act admirably on His behalf on earth.
Thankfully, David didn't follow Abishai's advice and let him kill the enemy. Instead David informed Abishai not to lift his hand against God's anointed. And then further over in II Samuel 2: 5-7 (Amplified Bible), after King Saul and his sons had been killed in a battle with the Philistines, we find these words spoken by David to the men of Jabesh-gilead who buried King Saul: "May the Lord bless you because you showed kindness and loyalty to Saul your king and buried him. And now may the Lord show loving-kindness and faithfulness to you. I also will do well by you because you have done this. So now, let your hands be strengthened and be valiant, for your master Saul is dead."
Let's not forget -- these were words spoken by David about his enemy. Truly, an example of a forgiving heart versus a revengeful heart.
I love what David said would happen to those who showed forgiveness and love rather than revenge. He stated they would be blessed with heaven's loving-kindness and God's faithfulness. Their hands would be strengthened and they would be valiant. The author William Temple observed: "Only petition in the Lord's Prayer that has a condition attached to it, is the petition for forgiveness." But let us not be so small in our thinking to believe we forgive only so we will be forgiven. That's not the lesson we learn from David's life. When we forgive, we have strength that comes into everything we touch. We are showered with God's faithfulness. Heaven's loving-kindness infuses our lives or as one person said, "Forgiveness is the key to our happiness."
Revenge versus forgiveness. As the Apostle Paul advised his Christian friends in Colossia, "Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you" (Colossians 3: 13 NIV). This is a lot different advice than David received from Abishai. However, it is the only advice that will lead to a life of joy and peace. As an unknown author wrote, "A person's ability to forgive is in proportion to the greatness of (her) soul."
"When you forgive, you in no way change the past -- but, you sure do change the future."
"The quality of mercy is not strained,
it droppeth as the gentle rain from heaven
upon the place beneath;
it is twice blest;
It blesseth him (her) that gives;
and him (her) that takes."
The Merchant of Venice
"O Lord Your tenderness
Melting all my bitterness,
O Lord, I receive Your love.
O Lord, Your loveliness
changing all my ugliness,
O Lord, I receive Your love,
O Lord, I receive Your love."
Dorothy Valcarcel, Author
When A Woman Meets Jesus
P.S. My book, When A Woman Meets Jesus is available where Christian books are sold. They can also be purchased through Paypal at www.transformationgarden.com or by calling our office toll-free at 1-888-397-4348.
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