On Monday of this week, a disgruntled man in my city shot and killed his employers–a husband and wife–before taking his life. Apparently, he was upset over the changes in the way monthly bonuses were distributed.
Now there’s a constructive way to express your feelings and a destructive way. Unfortunately, Robert Montgomery chose the destructive way.
But on a lesser scale, at various times in our lives all of us have worked for an employer who has caused us a great deal of grief or pain. And at times, most of us have had an opportunity to get back at the person.
How do we respond?
Please join me today as we read about one man’s response.
INSIGHTS AND EXPLANATIONS
1 Samuel 26:1-28:25. It’s déjà vu all over again. For a second time, David is given an opportunity to slay his pursuer…and he refuses. While Saul admits his fault in expending so much energy to kill David, the next king of Israel realizes that he needs to move out of the country to preserve his life. Ironically, David moves to Gath—the home of his former opponent Goliath.
Moving to Philistia—Israel’s most ardent enemy—must have been the death of a dream for David. Living in exile, he knew he had no guarantees that he would ever return. Achish, the king of Gath certainly thought so.
And how do we explain David’s ruthless killing? The New Bible Commentary explains, “Basically, it is showing how desperate David’s situation was—a situation which had been created by Saul.”
Eventually, Achish tells (not asks) David that they will be fighting Israel together. This places David in a quandary. He doesn’t want to hurt the people he loves—but also, if he fights for Philistia, he may be alienating himself from the people he desired to someday rule. If he refused to fight for Achish, he could be accused of being a traitor.
John 11:1-54. Although Jesus loved Lazarus, he stayed where he was for two more days before visiting his dear friend. The story of Jesus raising Lazarus from the dead reminds me that while God procrastinates, he’s still always on time.
Every time I read this story, I’m struck by how clued out his disciples were. They failed to understand Jesus (see verses 12-14), and then our friend doubting Thomas made a fatalistic comment that all of them were about to die.
Then, Martha told Jesus, “If you had been here, my brother would not have died.”
After that, Mary told him, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died.”
No wonder Jesus wept.
This whole story definitely foreshadows Jesus resurrection from the dead (it even includes a cave with a stone rolled in front of it). Caiaphas also comments, “You do not realize that it is better for you that one man die for the people than that the whole nation perish.”
And Jesus did die, so we wouldn’t perish.
Psalm 117:1-2. The is the shortest psalm in the whole book. But by no means is it insignificant.
By encouraging all the nations and all the peoples to praise the Lord, it implied that someday their faith would move beyond the bounds of Israel. In fact, Paul quoted this passage in Romans 15:11 to show that Jesus is the messiah of the whole world.
Proverbs 15:22. “Plans fail for lack of counsel, but with many advisers they succeed.” This proverb offers us advice that is often left unheeded. Probably the worst decisions I’ve ever made were done in haste…and by myself. “Counsel” doesn’t mean allowing people to say their peace before doing what you were going to do anyway. It means listening.
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THE WORD MADE FRESH
Imagine being pursued by 3,000 soldiers. How would you escape? Then imagine hiking into the middle of your pursuers’ camp while they’re sleeping. If you’re discovered, you’re toast! But that’s what David did.
He tiptoes into the camp with Abishai and once again, sees Saul in a vulnerable position. The king is asleep on the ground with his sword stuck in the ground next to his head. Both men could quickly kill the king and run out of the camp before they’re discovered.
What would you do?
Here’s what David said,
But David said to Abishai, “Don’t destroy him! Who can lay a hand on the Lord’s anointed and be guiltless? As surely as the Lord lives,” he said, “the Lord himself will strike him; either his time will come and he will die, or he will go into battle and perish. But the Lord forbid that I should lay a hand on the Lord’s anointed. Now get the spear and water jug that are near his head, and let’s go.”
At different times in my life, I’ve had the opportunity to pick up a spear (figuratively) and thrust it into the side of a less-than-honorable superior. David faced the opportunity—twice—yet refused.
If David had killed Saul, he could have brought his endless running to an end.
He would have been able to sleep at night without jumping out of his bed whenever he heard a noise outside.
He could have quickly become king of Israel.
Today’s reading is a window into a man after God’s heart.
What strikes me (pardon the pun) about David, is that he understood God is bigger than his problem. If God had wanted Saul’s reign to end, he would have to end it himself. And he did.
It seems to me the issue here involves authority and rebellion. Since Adam and Eve’s decision to eat the forbidden fruit in the garden of Eden, God has worked to establish order in his creation. We read in 1 Samuel 15:23 that rebellion is like the sin of divination.
If we truly believe God is sovereign, then we’ll trust that he appoints the people who rule over us. Of course, that doesn’t mean we should live fatalistically nor does it mean that we shouldn’t protest decisions that violate our beliefs or our conscience. But undermining the people in authority over us isn’t our job–it’s God’s.
And you know, there’s an element of comfort in knowing that God is in control. We don’t need to pick up a spear–or a gun–in order to take matters into our hands.
The matter’s already in God’s.
- What spoke to you in today’s reading?
- Describe a time when a dream died, and Jesus brought it back to life.
- How have you experienced Jesus as the resurrection and the life?
- How do you need Jesus to be your resurrection and life?
- If you were in David’s shoes, what would you have done? Why?
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Michael co-pastors The Neighborhood Church in Littleton, Colorado.