Week of May 27
by Skip Heitzig
The wilderness of En Gedi is a place we always take our tour groups when we visit Israel. It’s a desolate place near the Dead Sea, but a short distance up a narrow canyon there’s a stream and a waterfall, and it’s very beautiful. There are also a lot of caves in the area. One of these caves was the scene of an event that showed what a godly man David the shepherd was.
In 1 Samuel 24, King Saul was hunting David to kill him. He entered a cave at En Gedi to relieve himself, little knowing that David and his men were hiding in that very cave. This was David’s golden opportunity. He could have rationalized, “Here’s Saul, who tried to pin me to the wall with a spear, who used his own daughter to entrap me, who sent me out to the Philistines in the hope I’d be killed. And now he’s all alone, in a very vulnerable spot.”
To David’s men, it was a providential event. They wanted him to take his revenge. They thought, “Surely this is from God,” and they urged him to kill Saul (see v. 4). They were interpreting something as a sign which wasn’t a sign. They were wrong.
David, on the other hand, thought, “The Lord forbid that I should do this thing to my master, the Lord’s anointed, to stretch out my hand against him” (v. 6). Rather than killing Saul, he sneaked up and cut off a piece of his robe. And he showed it to Saul later to demonstrate that he meant him no harm.
I don’t know about you, but I find that revenge is always easy to rationalize. Revenge seeks to “give someone what they deserve,” to “even the score.” It’s very tempting, but it’s the philosophy of the carnal person, not the spiritual person. That attitude beats in the heart of the world.
God’s attitude is different:“You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you, that you may be sons of your Father in heaven” (Matthew 5:43-45).
Read this story to see how David handled this test with respect, honesty and integrity. David showed love to his enemy, and God honored him for it.
“When a man’s ways please the Lord, He makes even his enemies to be at peace with him” (Proverbs 16:7).
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