“...that I may gain Christ and be found in him...”—Philippians 3:8-9, NIV1984

Sunday, June 24, 2012

David and Saul


6 As they were coming home, when David returned from striking down the Philistine, the women came out of all the cities of Israel, singing and dancing, to meet King Saul, with tambourines, with songs of joy, and with musical instruments. 7 And the women sang to one another as they celebrated, “Saul has struck down his thousands, and David his ten thousands.” 8 And Saul was very angry, and this saying displeased him. He said, “They have ascribed to David ten thousands, and to me they have ascribed thousands, and what more can he have but the kingdom?” 9 And Saul eyed David from that day on.—1 Samuel 18:6-9, ESV 
Little did David know about hundreds of years later when one of his descendants, Jesus, would be hated and persecuted for no righteous reason, but for jealousy. Fools hate and persecute because they are influenced by the devil. They do not know what they are doing (see Luke 23:34). They are influenced by an unseen force that is much more powerful than the visible world. That is why Paul wrote (Ephesians 6:12, ESV), “For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places.”

Still, we see that David, and later Jesus, respond to such hatred and persecution with mercy, grace, and compassion. They loved their enemies (see Luke 6 and Romans 12). While David certainly committed his share of wicked deeds (polygamy, adultery, murder), ultimately we see that his heart truly sought after God (see Acts 13:22). He had two opportunities to kill his enemy Saul, yet he spared his life, understanding that vengeance belongs to God alone.

While loving our enemies is difficult, I have found that the best way for me to love them and have a heart of compassion towards them is to figure out how I can bless them in words and deed. I have to realize that they are harassed and helpless, under the influence of many kinds of evil forces in the world. They need the grace and mercy of God to transform their hearts, just like I need God’s grace and mercy to transform me into an obedient and loving son of God. And only God knows what blessings will come from our obedience, but often kindness is what leads people to repentance (see Romans 2:4).