“You are to follow no man further than he follows Christ.” –John Collins
Enemies and adversaries, do you have them? They might be found at the workplace, in disgruntled associates or in a boss whose attitude has soured. They might be found in our own families when intentions are misunderstood or words are hastily spoken. They might even be in our churches. In any case and no matter where the place, God has instructed us in the manner in which we are to respond.
The fruit of David’s prayer found in Psalm 7 reflects an ethic more fully demonstrated in the gospel. He is beset by adversaries and seeks the counsel of God by first examining his own heart:
O Lord my God, if I have done this,
if there is wrong in my hands,
if I have repaid my friend with evil
or plundered my enemy without cause,
let the enemy pursue my soul and overtake it,
and let him trample my life to the ground
and lay my glory in the dust. (Psalm 7:3-5, ESV)
David knows the justice of God is not like the world’s idea of justice. Divine justice is meted out by God. It is his to possess and distribute. The loathing world says, “Destroy your enemies.” But the living Word says, “Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.” (Matthew 5:44)
This radical idea of love for our enemies demonstrates to the world our gospel temperament. As William Secker writes, “To do evil for good, is human corruption; to do good for good, is civil retribution; but to do good for evil, is Christian perfection.” [Charles H. Spurgeon, Treasury of David, 73.] We are on the fast track to Christian maturity when we begin to return good for evil. The apostle Paul recognized this truth and wrote to the Romans, “Repay no one evil for evil, but give thought to do what is honorable in the sight of all. If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all. Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, ‘Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.’ To the contrary, ‘if your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink; for by so doing you will heap burning coals on his head.’ Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.” (Romans 12:17-21, ESV) David also practiced this ‘love your enemies’ principle.
David had the opportunity to strike his enemy Saul. King Saul and his army had just been pursuing the Philistines but then turned their attention to David. Although David could have easily killed Saul in the cave of En Gedi (1 Samuel 24) he chose not to. Saul, after learning of David’s merciful treatment of him, confessed, “You are more righteous than I. You have treated me well, but I have treated you badly.” (1 Sam. 24:17) Today, may not only your friends but also your adversaries, make the same declaration! Have a blessed week and we will see you on Sunday.
Love in Christ,