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By: Larry Shaffer
This is July, 1997 at the Oakland A’s gala for Special Olympics. We were guests of Buddy Groom, Oakland A’s pitcher and his wife Angela, former Dallas Cowboy’s cheerleader. Then there was just plain Leigh and I hangin’ with the athletes and stars. Buddy and Angela are wonderful Christian couple from Waxahachie, TX.
2 Samuel 1
First Samuel ended with Saul’s sons being slain by the Philistines, including the beloved Jonathan. Saul was trapped in battle and fell on his sword before the Philistines reached him. Saul is dead. The end of a tragic life! Saul’s life was a life of potential; a life of opportunity; a life unfulfilled. Nevertheless, he was God’s anointed and despite his many sins, God used him. We know from many of David’s Psalms that God used Saul to humble David and forge a spirit of utter dependency upon God within David. Saul caused David much pain, both physically and emotionally, but David would not harm a hair on Saul’s head because Saul was God’s Anointed. Thousands of years later, the Apostle Paul would write, “Never pay back evil for evil to anyone….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 12:17-20.
2 Samuel begins with David returning from a different battle where, unlike Saul’s armies, he was victorious over the Amalekites. A man approached David hoping to ingratiate himself to David. He fell on his face before the new king. When David inquired, “how did things go in the battle with the Philistines?” The man, an Amalekite, replied, “Many have fallen and Saul and Jonathon are dead.” David asked, “how did this happen?” The man lied and claimed that he happened upon Saul in battle with the enemies closing in. He claimed that Saul told the man to kill him and prevent the shame of Saul’s being murdered by his enemies. So he told David he killed him and took Saul’s crown and bracelet and presented them to David. (In reality, he must have come upon Saul immediately after Saul had killed himself and he seized an opportunity). David mourned and wept the death of his dear friend, Jonathon, and the Lord’s anointed, Saul. Then to the shock of the Amalekite man, who thought he was endearing himself to David by killing David’s enemy, David said “how is it that you were not afraid to stretch out your hand to destroy the Lord’s anointed?” And David had him struck down and killed.
To Avenge or not Avenge?
How different does the world view defending ourselves with revenge against personal enemies than does a man of God? What strikes me is the contrast between two people, David and the Amalekite, regarding how they view the purposes of God, the Sovereignty of God and the sense of revenge vs. forgiveness. The man assumed, being his nature, that David longed for Saul to be struck down. After all, Saul was the one who hated him and publicly vowed to kill him. Why would the Amalekite think otherwise? David, on the other hand, understood that God’s ways are not our ways and that God’s purposes transcend our finite perspectives. He understood that God was more offended by Saul than he was himself and God will not be mocked. Therefore, in God’s own time and in God’s own way, He will deal with Saul accordingly. How foolish we are to think that we know better than God. How foolish we are to think that God is slow, unfair, lacking in action and that he is dishonoring us by letting our enemies (seemingly) rise above us. We say we believe in God, have faith in God, trust in God…but when it comes to revenge, we often don’t. Renew our minds, dear Lord, to view our difficulties and trials through your eyes with a vision toward your purposes and your plan. Renew our minds so that we don’t act like everyone else. We are different. Our faith and trust is in You! You Lord are our protector and revenge is yours and not ours. Amen