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1 Samuel 24:1-22

RESPONDING PROPERLY TO YOUR ENEMIES

Intro:  Our studies have followed David from the sheepfolds of Judea to the battle fields of Israel.  We have watched a boy mature into a man.  We have watched David kill a giant, win the hearts of a nation, and we have seen him develop into a man of God.  We have watched David as he climbed to the pinnacle of success and we have seen him fall into the depths of despair.  We have seen him receive the love of many and the hatred of a few.  It has been a blessing and a challenge to look into the life of David thus far.

      Today, we find the sweet singer of Israel living in a cave.  He is there because God has been systematically removing every single support from underneath David’s life.  God has been teaching David the difficult lesson that only God is worthy to be leaned upon.  While David is in that cave, he is presented with an opportunity that many men would have died for.  David is presented with the opportunity to exact revenge upon his greatest enemy. 

      While David and his men hide in that cave, the providence of God brings King Saul into the same cave at the same time.  David has the perfect opportunity to kill Saul, claim the throne and elevate himself all the way to the very top.  But, David does not do what most people would have done in that situation.  Instead of reacting with hatred, revenge and murder; David displays, love, grace, compassion and forgiveness.  In this little glimpse into the life of David, we are allowed to see the real heart of this man.  Here, it is easy to see why the Lord called David, “A man after Mine Own heart.”

      As we consider the verses of this chapter today, we often find ourselves in the same place in which David found himself.  Someone will wrong us or do something against us.  We will be offended and hurt by their actions.  Then, somewhere down the road, the opportunity will present itself for us to “get even.”  We will have the chance to get our pound of flesh.  What we do at that moment defines us!  What we do when that opportunity for revenge presents itself reveals the true nature of our heart!

      Like it or not, we all have encounters with others that do not go well.  We all find ourselves hurt at times.  When we hurt, we want the one who hurt us to feel pain as well. But, I believe that David’s life offers us some insight into what to do during the times of our lives when we have been hurt by others.  I want to look at these verses today and preach for a few minutes on the thought Responding Properly To Your Enemies.  Allow me to make a few observations from this text today.

  I.  v. 1-2               THE INJURIES OF DAVID’S LIFE

A.  He Was A Hated Man – Looking at 1 Samuel 18:9, 15, 17, 21, and 26, it is clear that Saul hated David.  He hated David because David was everything that Saul himself was not.  He hated David because he walked with the Lord.  He hated David because God was blessing David.  He hated David because David was accepted and Saul was rejected.  He hated David and he was determined to see David put death, 1 Sam. 23:14.  Saul was consumed by jealousy and hatred.  They were literally eating him alive!

            Here is the thing to note: David was hated, not for evil in his life, but because his life was pleasing to the Lord!  You see, David had never wronged Saul, but Saul was after David anyway. It is inevitable that some people will be against you as you go through life.  Just be sure they are against you for doing right, and not for doing wrong, Matt. 5:11-12; 1 Pet. 4:14-15.  Sometimes people are against us for good reason!  Sometimes, they are right and we are wrong!  If people are to find fault with us, let it not be because we are stubborn, hateful and mean; rather let is be because we are holy, decent and good!

B.  He Was A Hunted Man – When Saul heard where David was hiding, Saul pulled out all the stops to find him and kill him.  There was once when Saul almost had David trapped, 1 Sam. 23:25-28, but God intervened and spare David.  Then, when Saul located David again, he sent an army of 3000 against an army of 600, 23:13.  Saul was doing everything in his power to take David down and prevent him from becoming the next king of Israel.

            If we were honest today, we would admit that there are times when we feel like we are being hunted by those who dislike us.  It seems that our enemies are pursuing us and are looking for every possible was to destroy us and defeat us. 

            Of course, Jesus said that it would be this way, Luke 17:1; 2 Tim. 3:12.  He reminded us that we are no better than He is, John 15:20.  As we move through this life, there will be times of disagreement and times when we are injured and hurt by those around us.  It is an inevitable part of life!

            Who among us has not been hurt by the words or deeds of others?  I would venture to say that none of us has gotten this far in life and not been offended.  Injuries will come and hurts will happen; but they should never be allowed to derail or define or lives.  It is possible to overcome the evil others do to us and it is possible to rise above it and get passed it by the help of the Lord!

     

 II.  v. 3-4               THE ILLUSIONS OF DAVID’S LIFE

(Ill. Put yourself in David’s place for just a moment.  You are being hunted and hounded without a cause.  A person you have done nothing against is after you.  They are doing everything in their power to destroy your name and take your life.  Then you are presented an opportunity to even the score.  You are given the perfect chance to right all your wrongs.  You are given the chance to take down your enemy on a silver platter.  All you have to do is take that opportunity and your enemy falls and you win.  They are shattered and defeated and you are victorious. They are humiliated and you are exalted.  What do you do when that opportunity presents itself?

      If you are living with illusions about what is right and what is wrong you exact your revenge; you take your pound of flesh and you walk away, congratulating yourself on having destroyed your enemy.  However, if you see things through the eyes of God, you might do something entirely different.  Let’s look at the illusions of life David had to overcome when a golden opportunity for revenge presented itself.)

A.  The Illusion Of Reputation – When Saul wandered into that cave where David and his men were hiding, and he laid down and went to sleep, David was presented with what appeared to be a golden opportunity.  Here was his chance to get even.  Here was his opportunity to even the score.  Here was his opportunity to take by force everything God had promised him and everything Saul was denying him.  All of David’s men even challenged him to take his sword and kill Saul, v. 4, 10.

            To these men, David was a hero!  If he failed to kill his enemy when he was given the chance, would he not look like a coward in their eyes?  There was the subtle temptation to get even and to protect his reputation.

     

      (Note: How many times have we succumbed to this subtle temptation?  How many times have we retaliated against someone who hurt us in an effort to protect our reputation?  We do not want others to think that we were weak.  We want the respect of those around us, so we lash out when we have the chance, thinking it makes us look big to those around us.  My friends, I don’t want to hurt you, but when you think that way, you are living an illusion!  You never look more childish and more petty than when you take your revenge just to save face before others.  Look at the example of Jesus and learn a valuable lesson – Isa. 53:7; Matt. 26:53; Luke 23:34; 1 Pet. 2:23.  Our reputation means nothing!  Our opportunities to display the spirit of Jesus Christ mean everything!)

 

B.  The Illusion Of Revenge – Surely as David watched Saul enter that cave and go to sleep, thoughts of revenge like great, poisonous serpents coiled themselves within David’s heart.  Surely the flesh said, “Now is your chance!  Get him David!  Take your dagger and end this persecution.  No one has more of a right than you do.  Kill him and be free.  Kill him and be king!”  So, David slips over to where Saul lies sleeping.  David has a knife in his hand.  He has the opportunity to end it all.  Surely, he must have entertained thoughts of revenge in that moment.  He has been presented with the dream scenario.  No one would blame him if he killed the mad tyrant, in fact, most people would have applauded him for it!  What to do?

 

      (Note: Now, put yourself in David’s place.  You have been wronged by someone.  They have hurt you deeply.  Then, you are given the perfect opportunity to get even.  The chance to get your pound of flesh is handed to you on a silver platter.  What do you do in that moment?  Do you take the chance and destroy your enemy?  Do you take the opportunity to “get even?”  What do you do?

            The flesh says, “Get them.  They deserve it.  Tear them down and make them hurt like they have made you hurt.”  The world says, “Well, they did you dirty, get even with them.  In fact, don’t stop with getting even.  Hurt them worse than they have hurt you.” When that moment comes and it will; what you do depends on who you are listening to.  The flesh and the world are like David’s men.  They cry out for revenge.  However, God has a different view of this matter.  Listen to what He says about it: Romans 12:19-21, “Dearly beloved, avenge not yourselves, but rather give place unto wrath: for it is written, Vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord.  Therefore if thine enemy hunger, feed him; if he thirst, give him drink: for in so doing thou shalt heap coals of fire on his head.  Be not overcome of evil, but overcome evil with good.”  That is not the way of the world, but it is the will of God.

            You see, the idea of revenge is merely an illusion.  You can never “get even” with anyone.  It is impossible to balance the scales of hurt.  The only possible way to come out on top is to learn to respond to hurt with a godly attitude.  In the rest of this passage, David shows us how to respond correctly to those who injure us.

 

III.  v. 5-22             THE INTEGRITY OF DAVID’S LIFE

A.  v. 5-7  The Integrity Of His Character – When David had the chance to kill Saul and exact his revenge; he refused to do it.  Instead, David cut off a small piece of Saul’s robe.  And, as soon as he did it, he knew he had been wrong.  You see, even though David could not respect Saul the man; he still respected the office of Saul the King.  He tells his men about this and stops them from harming Saul as well.

            David immediately knew that his thoughts of revenge and his desire to get even were not from the Lord.  He knew that taking matters into his own hands would not be pleasing to the Lord.  David knew that matters like the hurts of life and the feelings of revenge are matters best left in the hand of God.  David knew that he did not have the right to play judge and jury in the life of Saul.

 

      (Note: Did you ever stop to consider the fact that when we take matters into our own hands and try to get even with others, we are actually taking the place of God?  When we set ourselves up as another person’s judge and jury and we determine their punishment, we have overstepped our boundaries.

            A person who walks with integrity understands the truth that none of us are perfect.  He understands that we all fall short; we all sin; we all are guilty of hurting others.  He knows that, ultimately, we all must give an account to God.  Therefore, he leaves the matters of judgment and justice in the hands of the Lord.  Even if we cannot respect another person because of how they act and what they have done to us; we should at least recognize the fact that they will have to answer to God and not to us, Rom. 14:4; 12.)

 

      (Note: David’s reaction is worthy of note here.  Instead of rejoicing in taking a small measure of revenge against Saul, David is shattered because he has touched the Lord’s anointed.  David’s heart is so tender that even the small thing that he did brings conviction and condemnation.

            Let me just say that I find it amazing that some people who call themselves Christians are able to hurt others with their words and deeds like they do.  Someone who can say and do hurtful things to others is either out of God’s will, or they are lost!  When our hearts are right with the Lord, even the slightest wrongs will cause of pain and they will have to be dealt with!  When you are right with the Lord, you won’t be able to get away with anything!)

 

B.  v. 8-15  The Integrity Of His Confrontation – When Saul leaves the cave, David follows him and sets the record straight.  In these verses, David follows clear, biblical principles that teach us how we should react when we are wronged by others. Look at what he did:

      1.  v. 8 David took the first step.

      2.  v. 8 David humbled himself before Saul.

      3.  v. 8 David honored his Saul.

      4.  v. 9-11 David spoke the absolute truth concerning the

            situation.

      5.  v. 9-11 David declared his own guilt.

      6.  v. 12-13 David committed himself to doing the right thing.

      7.  v. 12-15 David placed his case in the hand of the Judge of the universe.

 

(Note: as we listen to David speak; we are given a clear picture of how all believers should respond in times of personal hurt.  There is too much here for us to consider every detail, but there are lessons here that need to be gleaned!

1.  We should not wait for the other person to make the first step – Luke 17:3-5; Matt. 18:15-17.  In my opinion, it is far better to deal with hurts between yourself and the lord, but if you cannot get past it, you are commanded to go to the offending person and get it settled.

2.  We must remain humble and we must honor the offending party.

3.  We should confess our own guilt in the situation

4.  We must extend absolute forgiveness to the offending party – Eph. 4:32; Matt. 18:21-22; Matt. 6:12, 14-15.  (Ill. The clear illustration in Matt. 18:23-35.)

 

      (Ill. Thomas A. Edison was working on a crazy contraption called a "light bulb" and it took a whole team of men 24 straight hours to put just one together. The story goes that when Edison was finished with one light bulb, he gave it to a young boy helper, who nervously carried it up the stairs. Step by step he cautiously watched his hands, obviously frightened of dropping such a priceless piece of work. You've probably guessed what happened by now; the poor young fellow droped the bulb at the top of the stairs. It took the entire team of men twenty-four more hours to make another bulb. Finally, tired and ready for a break, Edison was ready to have his bulb carried up the stairs. He gave it to the same young boy who dropped the first one.

            That is what true forgiveness is all about!  It is coming to the place where we trust the offending person once again!)

 

5.  We must commit ourselves to doing the right thing, regardless of what anyone else does.  Just as surely as the offending person will face the Lord in judgment, so will we!

6.  Ultimately, we must place our case in the hands of God and leave it with Him.  If we carry around all the hurts and pains of this life, they will destroy us and eat us alive!  Do not allow the things others have done to you ruin your life!

7.  This is not easy, but it is the will of the Lord!)

 

(Note: If you are the offending party, however, there is a word for you too. The Bible is clear regarding your responsibility, Matt. 5:23-24.  You should never allow your pride to stand in the way of unity within the body of Christ!)

 

C.  v. 16-22 The Integrity Of His Consolation – David’s grace in this situation touched the hard heart of King Saul.  God used the actions of David to bring about peace that day.  David got what he was after, not because he took matters into his own hands and set things right, but because he placed things in the hand of the Lord and demonstrated grace instead of bitterness.

 

      (Note: Here is the bottom line, when we live the right kind of life and practice grace and forgiveness, God will take the pains of life and transform them into avenues of peace for His glory, Pro. 16:7.)

 

      (Ill. Abraham Lincoln was once being criticized for his attitude towards his enemies. "Why do you try to make friends with them?” a colleague asked. "You should try to destroy them." “Am I not destroying my enemies," the President asked gently, "when I make them my friends?"

 

Conc: In his book. Lee: The Last Years, Charles Bracelen Flood reports that after the Civil War, Robert E. Lee visited a Kentucky lady who took him to the remains of a grand old tree in front of her house. There she bitterly cried that its limbs and trunk had been destroyed by Federal artillery fire. She looked to Lee for a word condemning the North or at least sympathizing with her loss. After a brief silence, Lee said, "Cut it down, my dear Madam, and forget it." It is better to forgive the injustices of the past than to allow them to remain, let bitterness take root and poison the rest of our life.

      There are some people in this very room who need to cut down some old mangled tress from your past and forget them.  Today is a challenge from the Lord for each of us to let go of all our thoughts of vengeance and to extend grace to those who may be against us.

      Here is the invitation: If you are dealing with a hurt, get it to the Lord tonight.  Lay it down at His feet and forgive it and forget it.  If you cannot do that, go to the person who has hurt you and get it settled.  Do it for your yourself, for your church and do it for the glory of God.

      If you have hurt others and you know it, do the right thing and go to them and make it right.  Even old demon-possessed Saul was able to confess his fault, 1 Sam. 24:17.  Surely, you can do the same thing!

      If the Lord has used this passage to speak to your heart; you need to do the things He is telling you to do today!  Let’s listen to His voice and honor Him by our obedience!

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