Tag Archives: vengeance

Don’t Get Even, Get Mad

Have you ever taken a close look at the word revenge? Probably not. I didn’t until today. Let me show you what lies hidden in the word: revenge. Revenge is all about getting even. Some people take revenge in overt ways; others choose the passive aggressive route. Nevertheless, it’s still revenge.

But what if I told you that you’re better off getting mad than getting even, what would you say?

Please join us in today’s daily Bible conversation.

TODAY’S READING

Nehemiah 12:27-13:31
1 Corinthians 11:1-16
Psalm 35:1-16
Proverbs 21:17-18

INSIGHTS AND EXPLANATIONS

Nehemiah 12:27-13:31. Here are a few thoughts that struck me while reading:

  1. By restoring the role of the choirs in daily worship, Nehemiah was trying to lead Judah back to the worship practices that had died out in the days of David and Solomon 500 years before.
  2. We read that Nehemiah returned to Persia, probably in order to return to his important duties as cupbearer to the king. Think about it: Nehemiah was one of Jerusalem’s greatest leaders, but he never made it his home. From afar, he realized the importance of this great city.
  3. After Nehemiah left Jerusalem, it again began to disintegrate. Such is the nature of society and the human heart. We need strong leaders who will prevent the gravitational pull of spiritual disintegration.

1 Corinthians 11:1-16. This is one of those passages that gives pastors a great deal of heartburn. While it may seem that Paul is disregarding the role of women in worship, the Bible Background Commentary explains:

Women did not lead prayers in most synagogues, and Jewish tradition tended to play down Old Testament prophetesses; Paul’s churches allow considerably more freedom for women’s ministry.

Some religious traditions look to this passage as a reason to insist that women wear a head covering in worship. Theories about the interpretation of this passage abound.

Psalm 35:1-16. In this psalm, David writes about an unknown enemy. To my knowledge, David never names his enemies in his psalms. He may come across as vengeful (“may ruin overtake them by surprise” verse 8), but David knows he is safe to share his true feelings with God, even his anger.

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THE WORD MADE FRESH

A characteristic of David that continues to surface as we read through the Bible is his trust in God. This great warrior knew how to rely on God to fight his battles.

In Psalm 35, he cries out to God regarding the injustices he was experiencing. Men were intent on killing him. People he had helped at an earlier time turned their backs on him. David had every reason to get even, but instead he brought his anger to God.

In the midst of his rage, he says, “Who is like you, O Lord? You rescue the poor from those too strong for them, the poor and needy from those who rob them.”

God is our rescuer! Sometimes, the greatest act of faith we can take is to do nothing to defend ourselves and let God take control.

Twice, David had the opportunity to kill King Saul who was hotly pursuing him. Yet he refused because he believed God would deal with his evil pursuer.

“Conventional” wisdom says “don’t get mad, get even.” David, however, chose something much better: “don’t get even, get mad.” Rather than vent his frustrations on the people around him, David chose to vent his feelings toward God.

He can handle it.

CONVERSATION STARTERS

  1. What spoke to you in today’s reading?
  2. Do you tend to get even rather than get mad or do you tend to get mad rather than get even (according to the definition in this post)? Why?

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www.bibleconversation.com

Michael co-pastors The Neighborhood Church with Eugene Scott in Littleton, Colorado.

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Put…the gun…down.

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.

TODAY’S READING

1 Samuel 26:1-28:25
John 11:1-54
Psalm 117:1-2
Proverbs 15:22-23

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.

If you’ve found A Daily Bible Conversation helpful, share it with your friends! Forward your daily email or send them a link to the website: http://www.bibleconversation.com.

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.

CONVERSATION STARTERS

  1. What spoke to you in today’s reading?
  2. Describe a time when a dream died, and Jesus brought it back to life.
  3. How have you experienced Jesus as the resurrection and the life?
  4. How do you need Jesus to be your resurrection and life?
  5. If you were in David’s shoes, what would you have done? Why?

If you’re reading this blog on FaceBook and you’d like to join the conversation, click here.

www.bibleconversation.com

Michael co-pastors The Neighborhood Church in Littleton, Colorado.

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