History almost repeated itself on this second occasion in which Saul’s life is spared by David who he is seeking to kill. For a second time the Ziphites played the role of betrayers and informers and told of David’s whereabouts. Saul immediately set out with 3000 men to search for David but he was one jump ahead. (1 Samuel 26:1-4)
What follows has featured in Sunday school stories and sermons for hundreds of years. David enters Saul’s camp, goes right into its heart where Saul is asleep surrounded by his soldiers.
So David took the spear and the jar of water from Saul’s head, and they went away. No man saw it or knew it, nor did any awake, for they were all asleep, because a deep sleep from the LORD had fallen upon them. 1 Samuel 26:12
Abishai, quite understandably in the circumstances, thought if they could get into the King’s tent then this was a God given opportunity. Let’s get rid of the man once and for all.
Then Abishai said to David, “God has given your enemy into your hand this day. Now please let me pin him to the earth with one stroke of the spear, and I will not strike him twice.” 1 Samuel 26:8
But David will not touch the anointed King of Israel
And David said, “As the LORD lives, the LORD will strike him, or his day will come to die, or he will go down into battle and perish. 1 Samuel 26:10
I am so impressed with David. Rather than destroy his enemy he protects him. The story does go on, but it’s Jesus’ simple statement “love your enemies” (Math 5:44) that got to me. Life moves so fast and time seems to speed along so days become weeks and weeks become months. All of us have been hurt at sometime by an action or a word. Some of those things we carry, remembering them in our sleep or when we reflect. Those hurts can affect our emotions and behaviour and create a wall of defence.
As I have said previously God has stopped the World and the Church and given us an opportunity to put some things right
Jesus said I say to you, love your enemies, and pray for those who persecute you.
Prayer for your enemies is one of the deepest forms of love, because it means that you have to really want that something good happens to them. You might do nice things for your enemy without any genuine desire that things go well with them. But prayer for them is in the presence of God who knows your heart, and prayer is interceding with God on their behalf. It may be for their conversion. It may be for their repentance. It may be that they would be awakened to the hostility in their hearts. It may be that they will be stopped in their downward spiral of sin. But the prayer Jesus has in mind here is always for their good. It may be just that God would bless them and do them good.
This is what Jesus did as he hung on the cross:
Father, forgive them; for they do not know what they are doing. Luke 23:34
And it’s what Stephen did as he was being stoned:
Falling on his knees, he cried out with a loud voice, “Lord, do not hold this sin against them! Acts 7:60
How can we do this? Where does the ability to love like this come from? Just think how amazing this is when it appears in the real world, oh and the church!
Part of the answer is found in this:
Blessed are you when men cast insults at you, and persecute you, and say all kinds of evil against you falsely, on account of Me. Rejoice, and be glad, for your reward in heaven is great, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you. Matthew 5:11-12
Another is found here:
Then Peter came up and said to him, “Lord, how often will my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? As many as seven times?” Jesus said to him, “I do not say to you seven times, but seventy-seven times. Matthew 18:21-22
Forgiving others is counter-intuitive to human nature. It doesn’t seem to make sense. King Louis XII of France spoke for us all when he said, “Nothing smells so sweet as the dead body of your enemy!”
This is a huge subject but just one point
Paul said in Ephesians 4 we are to forgive as God in Christ forgave us. The word “as” points to two things. We are to forgive because God forgave us. But we are also to forgive as or like or in the same manner that he forgave us. So, how did God in Christ forgive us? God in Christ forgave us by absorbing in himself the destructive and painful consequences of our sin against him. God forgave us in Christ by cancelling the debt we owed him. That is to say, we are no longer held liable for our sins or in any way made to pay for them.
The way we cancel the debt of one who has sinned against us is by promising not to bring it up to the offender, to others, or to ourselves. We joyfully resolve never to throw the sin back into the face of the one who committed it. We promise never to hold it over their head, using it to manipulate. And we promise never to bring it up to others in an attempt to justify ourselves or to undermine their reputation.
We ourselves choose not to hold on to it any longer, to not allow it to form our lives and decisions, we release it.
So why not take some deliberate actions today to forgive and love.