26 June – 2 July 2016.
When people do horrible things to us, straightaway we start to think how we can get back at them. How can we make them suffer for hurting us so badly? Sometimes people even think that taking revenge is what God wants them to do. After all, Moses tells the Israelites that justice means taking an eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth. So when others hurt us, we feel like it’s now our right to do something bad to them, even to destroy them. But this way of revenge only leads to disaster.
Proverbs 24:29 tells us instead: “Do not say, ‘I’ll do to them as they have done to me; I’ll pay them back for what they did.’” And of course Jesus himself condemns this way of revenge too. When others hurt us, Jesus commands us to pray for them, not to demand our right to go hurt them back!
In 1 Samuel 26, we see that David understood this really well. Saul had been terribly unfair to David. And so when David and his men sneak into Saul’s camp, Abishai tells David that now he has his chance to get back at Saul and kill him. But David knows that just because Saul treated him badly, that doesn’t give him the right to kill Saul. That would make David just as evil as Saul.
Sadly it’s not always easy for us or our leaders to act in such righteous ways. Because the Israelites knew what a terrible person Saul was, we can imagine them being angry to hear that David wasted this chance to kill their evil king. And when we suffer, our friends also often come to us and encourage us to take revenge against those who hurt us. Like Abishai, they encourage us to hit back. So it can be hard for us not to listen to those voices.
That’s why David is such a great leader and example for us. He doesn’t give in to the temptation to take revenge, and he bravely stands up against the voices of his own friends when they push him to do something wrong. I really hope we can all be as strong as David, and leave the way of revenge far behind us.
Pastor Stephen Lakkis