The Value of Resisting Payback
“Then Saul took three thousand chosen men from all Israel and went to seek David and his men in front of the Rocks of the Wild Goats… ‘Far be it from me because of the Lord that I should do this thing to my lord, the Lord’s anointed, to stretch out my hand against him, since he is the Lord’s anointed.’ David persuaded his men with these words and did not allow them to rise up against Saul. And Saul arose, left the cave, and went on his way.”-1 Samuel 24: 2-7
Why do we feel the need to repay people for the wrong they do to us? I know it’s our sinful nature, but I feel like more and more people are striving to make sure that the person who wronged them will be punished.
The sad thing is, the person who wronged them may not have wronged them, but there is perceived wrongdoing, which means they should be held accountable.
Christians seem to be pretty fond of doing this too. They enjoy the idea of “Karma”, which is fundamentally wrong anyway when it comes to our faith, but that’s another post altogether.
Many Christians like to believe that what comes around goes around and, if they have anything to do with it, the “come around” will happen as quickly as possible. They might ruin someone else’s character, make inflammatory statement about someone, point out flaws, and much more. Their reasoning, “Well, that person did the same thing to me. So they deserve to get what they get!”
The question that must be asked at this point, “HOW IS THAT EVEN REMOTELY CHRIST-LIKE?”
When we begin to feel the need copay someone back for wrongdoing or be mean to someone because they were mean to us, perhaps we should look at David’s story above.
David was a foreshadowing of the Messiah to come. He was a flawed human being, but God chose him specifically to lead His people. Saul was the king at the time David showed up on the scene and he became terribly insecure over David and plotted to kill him.
In 1 Samuel 24, Saul hears David was in the wilderness and decided to go after him. They wound up at the same caves David and his men were in, but they had no idea. When David found out, he had his men hide. The men wanted David to sneak up on Saul and kill him.
Check out David’s reply:
“Far be it from me because of the Lord that I should do this thing to my lord, the Lord’s anointed, to stretch out my hand against him, since he is the Lord’s anointed.”
Now, remember, David was chosen by God and was told he would be the king. He had to wait for Saul to die. This was his opportunity to take him out, I mean, Saul was trying to kill him, so it was justifiable right?
God had anointed Saul when the people chose him to be king. God was working on ending Saul’s kingdom, but He was waiting for David to be ready.
At this point, David refrained from getting payback for the pain, heartache, and struggle that Saul had put him through. In fact, what he does after this conversation is astounding.
When Saul leaves the cave, David comes out and says,
“May the Lord judge between you and me, and may the Lord avenge me on you; but my hand shall not be against you. As the proverb of the ancients says, ‘Out of the wicked comes forth wickedness’; but my hand shall not be against you.” (v. 12-13)
All the judgment and wrath will come from the Lord and David is suggesting that God will take care of him and his life. No matter what, he would not stoop to his level and try t take his life.
David lived to honor God. When given the opportunity to take judgment into his own hands, he stepped away and allowed God to be in authority, not his emotions.
There are three things we can learn from David’s actions, especially when it comes to the idea of payback:
- Honor the Lord’s process: God has bigger plans than what we can see. When we jump into trying to get payback or ruining the character of another, we instantly try to play God. We must wait for God’s process to play out.
- Honor God’s Authority: David acknowledged that the Lord would judge between he and Saul. He told Saul that he would not be violent towards him because that is up to God. David respected the authority of the Lord and would not try to overtake that role.
- Wickedness Cannot Beget Wickedness: David knew if he were to kill Saul, he would be just as wicked as Saul. He could not do that. He had to step back and let Saul escape. It was not the right way for David to defeat him, so, he let him go. We all need to learn how to refrain from being just as wicked as the person who we want to ruin. Their wickedness does not give us freedom to be wicked.
God’s authority has put people into roles and positions in this world that might not seem right. He has given people success who do not deserve it. We might not understand why, it might not be up to us to understand, but it is up to us to rest in God’s promises. We need to trust His authority and live by the way He calls us to live.
God will judge the wicked and the good, and each will be held accountable for their actions.
May we see that payback is wicked. Hateful words towards others and acts of violence in order to “give them what they deserve” is not a teaching of Jesus, so we should make sure to strive for being His disciples.
May we always strive to point towards the glory of the Lord and not the glory of watching another person fall.
Peace and blessings friends.