My women's group is studying the life of David and right now we've settled in the latter part of 1 Samuel.
At this point, David is in his early to mid-20s and he is being hotly pursued by his former father-in-law, who happens to be the first king of Israel. King Saul knows David will eventually be replacing him and has repeatedly try to kill David. In addition, King Saul has already slaughtered several in his wake in his anger against David and has even made attempts on his own son's life. David is trying to keep a cool head by clinging to his faith in God. It's a bit hard to do when he's on the run and living in caves along the way.
In 1 Samuel 24, David has the chance to kill King Saul, who happens in the very cave David and his ragtag army are hidden in. David gets so close to King Saul, he actually can cut off a corner of Saul's robe (v. 4) without the king noticing. Moments later David is convicted by the Holy Spirit and decides to do something about it. Out of his respect for the Lord, he restrains from acting on his own frustration, tells his men to stand down and humbly confronts the murderous king outside the cave.
What led me to write this piece today is the Holy Spirit's conviction in my own spirit about revenge.
Acting out in the spirit of revenge can get your emotions in high gear and cause you to do something with reverberating consequences. I know from personal experience. It nearly cost me my job and severely punished my reputation.
Scripture says only God has the right to judge and there is a time for every activity and every deed (Ecclesiastes 3:17). 1 Peter 3:9 says do not repay evil with evil or insult with insult.
Beth Moore writes "No doubt the time will come when you will face a window of opportunity to get back at a person who has wronged you. The only way to get through a window God doesn't open is to break it yourself. This is one window sure to leave you injured. Don't do it."
I was left emotionally and spiritually injured after breaking that window. The jagged cuts to my soul caused wounds that have yet to be stitched or healed. If I had exercised restraint in that moment, well, all I can say is I wouldn't have suffered so. I brought it on myself and disgraced my Lord in the process. It is only by His mercy that I stand here today.
Let me quote once more from Beth Moore's workbook "David: Seeking a Heart Like His": "If you are willing to honor a person out of respect for God, you can be assured that God will honor you. Several times I've been required to honor a person out of honor to God. The temptation to lash out was almost unbearable at times, but the Holy Spirit was always in me, promoting the restraint of God out of respect for God."
That phrase — honor a person out of honor to God — speaks volumes.
In the human eye David had every right to strike down King Saul. But the Lord was using the whole debacle to build David's character. Holding back from acting out showed great obedience and God blessed David for that.
Maybe you have a Saul in your midst whom you'd sorely like to pay back for the wrongs he (or she) has done against you. Please take a breath and re-focus on the Lord whom you've committed to serve. Realize that He may be trying to teach you how to face adversity, to learn how to trust Him or to follow His lead. It isn't easy when evil is out to get you but the ultimate reward to eternally walk with our Lord in heaven is so much greater!
Just Hold On, written by Ruth Ann Replogle and published every Friday in the Enid News & Eagle, is based on her belief in Hebrews 4:14.