Summary: Revenge is a subtle temptation but we can see how we can submit to God’s will, instead of succumbing to it.
GETTING EVEN - ISN’T EVEN
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Revenge: It may be one of life’s most subtle temptation. All of us probably at one time or another have wanted to get even for being mistreated. Maybe it was because an employer promised you something and never came through. Maybe a mate walked out on you when you needed him or her the most. Maybe it was a parent who failed you or someone in the Church who hurt you or has not appreciated your efforts. And now you are waiting for the chance to get even or your seething inside because you are holding a grudge. I suspect in an audience this size that there are several of you right now that are struggling with revenge. And your ability or inability to handle this temptation will speak volumes about your character and if you are a Christian, it’s a good measure as to how far you’ve grown in your Christian walk.
Most of our culture today doesn’t recognize it as revenge. It is called "my rights." Or in our more educated moments we call it "justified retaliation." We’ve got a moral obligation to rectify this situation and it is the American way- "I don’t get mad - I just get even." But whatever we call it, God calls it revenge. And His feelings toward personal vengeance are anything but ambivalent. God very clearly commands us through the Bible that if there is to be any "getting even", we are to leave for Him to do. Why is God so adamant about resisting this temptation? Because He knows what it does to us and others. He knows the resentment that poisons us and the pain we inflict upon others by getting even is never in anyone’s best interest.
But how do we resist? Especially when the feelings are so strong within us? Well, in our passage today this subtle temptation even reaches into a life as exemplary as David’s. And from his excellent example of submitting to God’s will, instead of taking revenge, we can see at least 3 principles to put into practice.
I. REALIZE THE NATURAL TEMPTATION: Vss:1-4
First, let’s realize that it is a natural temptation to want to get back at someone who mistreats us. David was wronged by his superior, King Saul. Even though David had been a devoted servant, Saul became so intensely jealous of him, that he plotted to kill him. At first he just put him in the front lines of the battle. He gave David the most difficult assignments hoping that he would become a casualty of war. But when David continually came home as the conquering hero, Saul became so outraged that once he actually threw a spear at his young musician in an attempt to kill him. David side stepped the spear and just excused Saul on the basis of his mental illness. But Saul would not give up and he sends an army of soldiers out after David to do him in once and for all. And David becomes a fugitive, he’s on the run for the next 8 years.
Now, if there was ever someone who you would think would not be mistreated it was David. He had been anointed by God’s own prophet Samuel to be King. He had courageously displayed his faith in fighting Goliath, he had humbly submitted to his temporary position as court musician, why would God allow him to be so abused? I think each of us needs to realize that God has never promised that devotion to God is some magical potion that will exempt us from suffering. Jesus, the Son of God, said in Jn. 6:33 "While you are in this world you will have trouble." We live in a fallen and sinful world and trouble will come. So David, a man after God’s own heart, is hunted down like an animal by Saul’s troops.
Just think how angry and how resentful David must have felt. Everything that had been precious to him had been stripped away because of Saul. He is no longer able to freely be with his family, in the 25th chapter we see that Michal, Saul’s daughter that he had given to David as his wife for killing Goliath, has been given to another man; his prominent place in the palace, his friendship with Saul’s son Jonathan, everything is gone. He had nothing to lean on except God. Now, in chapter 22 we learn that while David is at a stronghold that God sends several people out to minister to him. First came his family and then a bunch of outcasts. 22:2 says, "Then everyone who was in trouble, in debt, or bitter about life joined him, and he became their commander."(GW) And a total of 600 men, these mavericks, joined David out in the wilderness and David took these nobodies and formed them into an elite guerrilla fighting group. In fact, some of these became his cabinet when he took the throne.