Sunday, January 20, 2008

David and Saul

I know, I've neglected this blog. Frankly, it's because I'm so angry with my enemies that I don't want to pray for them. I don't want to forgive them. I want them to suffer. I want God to smite them.

The other night, as I'm trying to deal with this root of bitterness in my soul, my friend and I talked about some of the hurt and she said, "you know, I've been thinking in terms of this anger and I realized that the person I'm angry with is Saul and I'm David."

Quick cliff notes version: Saul was annointed King of Israel. He sinned in the eyes of the Lord and the Lord took away his favor, transferring it to David. When Saul realizes that David's favor has grown, Saul does what anyone (okay maybe it's just me) would do, he tries to kill David. Numerous times. David never harms Saul. In fact, he's presented with multiple opportunities to harm Saul, chooses not to, and then demonstrates this to Saul. Does Saul stop trying to kill him? Nope. In all this, David never sins against Saul. He never repays Saul's evil with evil. And when Saul dies, David avenges Saul's death. Throughout this whole trial, David remains true in his faith and honors God with his behavior towards Saul.

Since she told me this, I've been reading the story. Trying to see what wisdom I can gain for dealing with my Sauls. As we all know, I'd just as soon kill the people who irritate me. But that's not how God wants us to deal with it.

This morning, when I opened my Bible, what popped out at me was "it is mine to avenge," says the Lord. Funny. I highlighted that in high school. Funny how Deut 32:35 is quoted twice in the New Testament.

We want so badly to avenge the wrongs done to us. Particularly when the person so deserves it. When they have truly wronged us. When others agree we've been wronged. But that's not our job.

Tonight, I talked with a friend who's dealing with some icky stuff. A good friend of hers is doing some bad things to her, lying, and causing hurt in her life. As we struggled through it, talking about it, God put something on my heart. That the person doing these bad things needs Jesus desperately. She doesn't know real love, let alone unconditional love, and she's substituting these machinations and plots for something that will fill the empty space in her heart. But it will never work. Only God will do.

Saul thought that power would fill the hole in his heart. He thought that destroying David would give him more power and finally give him the fulfillment he desired. Not only did Saul never gain what he'd hoped, but he lost everything, including the closeness he'd once shared with the Lord. David remained focused on being faithful. Yes, as we know from the continuation of the story of his life, he did a lot of other things wrong. But he is known for being a man after God's heart. That, my friends, is what we need to be.

Just as there will always be Judases, there will always be Sauls. Someone who's always trying to tear us down to build themselves up. We have a choice in how we respond. We have a choice to repay in kind or allow the Lord to avenge. It can be pretty hard. I wonder if David thought, even for an instant, that his life would be a thousand times easier if he just killed Saul rather than cutting off a piece of his cloak and behaved honorably? Because I often think about it for longer than a second.

There's a lot of ugliness in my heart. And I know that the only way I will defeat it is if I remain focused on God and his Word. Saul? God will take care of him. And since he's God, I figure he can probably do a better job than I. That whole smiting thing, you know.

I keep thinking about my friend and her situation. It's tempting to pray for the whole smiting thing, because I think that would be pretty cool. But Jesus holds us to a higher standard. And mostly, I pray that she'll be able to see him for he really is. To accept unconditional love and to realize that He is all she needs.

Now if I can just figure out how to get there with all of my other Sauls.


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