Whatever the circumstance, each of us chooses how we will respond. We can respond in anger or we can respond in humility. Our response can inflame a tense situation or it can restore calm. We can use our words to bring peace or bring chaos. We can make excuses or face the truth of our part in the situation.
It’s our choice.
Too many times I haven’t taken the time to consider the best way to respond in each circumstance that presented itself. I’ve excused my behavior often with words like, “It’s his fault. He’s just a big dodo bird.” “If she wasn’t so annoying I wouldn’t get mad.” “It isn’t fair. Why do I have to say I’m sorry first?” And no. These are not just phrases from my younger days. Unfortunately.
I’ve been hurt by harsh words and intentional slights, as I’m sure most of you have. And that’s where we go back to the fact how we respond is our choice. We can respond in kind, inflicting as much or more pain as was inflicted upon us, or respond as Scripture points out we should respond. In love, patience, kindness, gentleness…
Today I’m looking at the relationship between Saul and David to see what we can learn from how David choose to respond.
After King Saul threw a spear at David’s head one too many times, David fled into the night to escape the madness. For over ten years, David ran and Saul pursued. Saul’s men and resources certainly could have been used in better ways. Like fighting the Philistines instead of spending energy chasing a loyal subject all around Israel and slaughtering innocent priests.
Many of David’s psalms were written during this time of pursuit. Even though David called upon God to deal swiftly with his enemies, when it came to Saul, David himself never lifted his hand against the man. He mourned deeply when Saul died and instructed the nation to mourn as well.
There are two incidences during David’s time on the run where he had the opportunity to kill Saul and didn’t. One involved a piece of cloth cut from the corner of Saul’s robe. (1 Samuel 24) The other a spear and water jug. (1 Samuel 26) Both times David showed restraint. He had the upper hand but refused to take advantage of the situation. He could have pressed his advantage, proven himself superior, and scored points with his men. Still, he took the higher ground and responded in humility and love.
Although we may not be presented with opportunities to physically harm our enemy, I believe it’s safe to say we’ve been presented with times to choose whether or not we harm someone just as surely with our careless words. As with David, just because we have the opportunity to do harm doesn’t mean we should.
It’s easy to take offense and seek revenge when others attack us. Are you kidding me? That’s usually our primary desire. Instead of striking out, we can pause, keep our eyes focused on Jesus, and pray for the strength to respond in humility and love. It’s our choice.
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But then a black mood from God settled over Saul and took control of him. He was sitting at home, his spear in his hand, while David was playing music. Suddenly, Saul tried to skewer David with his spear, but David ducked. The spear stuck in the wall and David got away. It was night.
1 Samuel 19:9-10 (MSG)
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I wish you well.
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