Do not take revenge, my friends, but leave room for God's wrath, for it is written: "It is mine to avenge; I will repay," says the Lord. Romans 12:19When was the last time someone did something to you, said something about you, treated you unfairly or was unkind? How did you respond? Did you lash out? Did you return evil words or actions for their words or actions? Did you allow yourself to get drug down into the mud with them until you both were covered from head to toe?
In 1 Samuel 24 we find that King Saul is desperately pursuing David. He wants him dead! Saul is being driven by his own passions and evil desires. He is far from the man he used to be. Far from the Spirit of God. We find that Saul has taken 3000 chosen men and they are tracking David down. In pursuit, King Saul went into the cave where David and his men were hiding to relieve himself. David crept up unnoticed and cut off a corner of Saul's robe.
Immediately, David was "conscience-stricken". The Holy Spirit got hold of David's heart, preventing him from doing anything further. Why? Because even though Saul was walking in rebellion, he was still the anointed King of Israel.
It's hard when someone we love, someone we trust, someone in authority over us treats us unfairly or betrays us. In my flesh, I'll tell you the truth, the first thing I want to do is get even. Make them pay for what they have done. Give them a taste of their own medicine. But that's not what David did. David's heart was pricked by the Holy Spirit and he was called to give grace where grace wasn't deserved. Isn't that what God has done for me?
David had the opportunity to end this drama once and for all and take his place as King over Israel. And yet, he showed great restraint. David respected God and desired to honor Him more than he desired revenge. What he did was out of respect for God and respect for the role of the King of Israel, not Saul. God's cause, God's timing, God's will, God's plan required David to be obedient and allow God to remove Saul from his place of leadership. It was God who would establish David as the next King of Israel, not David.
David did not excuse or absolve Saul for his sins against David, but instead said, "May the Lord judge between you and me. And may the Lord avenge the wrongs you have done to me, but my hand will not touch you." David chose to allow "God to be God" over his circumstances and not to take matters into his own hands. He was willing to submit to the Holy Spirit of God. He yielded his will to God's will and trusted that God was at work in both of their lives.
What will you do with the person who has hurt you? What will you say to them? How will you move forward from here?
- Listen to the Holy Spirit when he "pricks your heart". David found himself suddenly aware that his actions were displeasing to God.
- Change your behavior. When David's heart was pricked, he immediately stopped what he was doing. He did no harm to Saul.
- Exercise Restraint. David had the perfect opportunity to exact revenge, but he didn't do it. Instead he turned Saul over to the Lord. He allowed God to deal justly with Saul, in His timing not David's.
- Honor God with your actions. Beth Moore said, "If you are willing to honor a person our of respect for God, you can be assured that God will honor you."