Summary: David, Pt. 8 of 15
GONE WITH THE WIND (2 SAM. 1)
In the summer of 2003 cyclist Lance Armstrong’s attempt to equal Miguel Indurain’s record of five successive Tour de France wins nearly came to a crashing halt. With fourteen stages completed and six stages to go, Armstrong’s lead was in jeopardy when he fell off his bicycle after the handlebars were clipped by a spectator’s bag.
Hot on Armstrong’s heels was Jan Ullrich, the 1997 winner and four-time Tour runner-up, who had the opportunity to slice into Armstrong’s small lead of 15 seconds over him at the day’s start, but to the gasps and admiration of the crowd, Ullrich did a most shocking and unselfish thing when Armstrong tumbled. The German refused to speed off, but slowed down to allow the American to pick up and catch up.
Ullrich observed an unwritten sportsmanship rule in cycling and incidentally repaid an old debt to Armstrong. The two were involved in a similar incident in their 2001 duel, when Armstrong waited for his rival Ullrich to recover.
At the three-week, 2,100 miles Tour event, if a leader needs a bathroom break, the cyclists would slow down, make room and quit racing until the leader is back.
Ullrich said, “Of course, I would wait. If I have won this race by taking advantage of someone’s bad luck, then the race was not worth winning. I have never in my life attacked someone who had crashed. That’s not the way I race.” (Los Angeles Times 7/23/03 “In Cycling, Winning with Honor Means Everything.”)
Saul’s death was a break, as well as a blow, to David and his men, but celebration was not allowed, thanksgiving was not offered, and hugs, smiles, and laughter were frowned upon. They did not feel vindicated or triumphant at Saul’s death. Instead, they were stunned, speechless, and sad.
Why is gloating or rejoicing over your enemy or rival’s misfortune or mistakes dishonorable and unpleasing to God? Why does condoning sin an act of self-condemnation?
The Enemy of Your Enemy is Not Your Buddy; He’s a Backstabber
1:1 After the death of Saul, David returned from defeating the Amalekites and stayed in Ziklag two days. 2 On the third day a man arrived from Saul’s camp, with his clothes torn and with dust on his head. When he came to David, he fell to the ground to pay him honor. 3 “Where have you come from?” David asked him. He answered, “I have escaped from the Israelite camp.” 4 “What happened?” David asked. “Tell me.” He said, “The men fled from the battle. Many of them fell and died. And Saul and his son Jonathan are dead.” 5 Then David said to the young man who brought him the report, “How do you know that Saul and his son Jonathan are dead?” 6 “I happened to be on Mount Gilboa,” the young man said, “and there was Saul, leaning on his spear, with the chariots and riders almost upon him. 7 When he turned around and saw me, he called out to me, and I said, ’What can I do?’ 8 “He asked me, ’Who are you?’ “’An Amalekite,’ I answered. 9 “Then he said to me, ’Stand over me and kill me! I am in the throes of death, but I’m still alive.’ 10 “So I stood over him and killed him, because I knew that after he had fallen he could not survive. And I took the crown that was on his head and the band on his arm and have brought them here to my lord.”
A certain Duke of Milan was so hated for his unbearable cruelty that everybody prayed day and night for something bad to happen to him. Someone noticed that every day at sunrise a decrepit old woman entered a church and prayed to God that he gave the Duke health and long life. The Duke, hearing about this and knowing very well that he did not deserve that for his virtue, sent for the old woman and asked her why she prayed to God for him every day.
“I admit,” she said, “that I have done this until now for good reasons. This is because I was a young girl and the Milanese have a very cruel lord, and I wished that he should fall from power and die. After he died he was succeeded by another who was no better than he, wherefore I believed once more that it would be to our advantage if he were killed.
“Now you are our third lord, and you are more wicked and cruel than the first two. I fear, therefore, that after your death you will be succeeded by someone worse than you are; and so I never stop praying God to let you live for a long time.” The tyrant was too ashamed to put to death that little woman who was so bold.” (Paul Lee Tan, 7,700 Illustrations (Garland: Assurance Publishers, 1979), # 3214)