Then David sang this lament over Saul and his son Jonathan – 2 Sam. 1:17
In the passage we just read we see that David “laments” over the deaths of both his friend Jonathan and his wannabe murderer Saul. He didn’t rejoice, he didn’t gloat, and he didn’t express relief or shout “Hallelujah! God has triumphed over mine enemies!” when he heard the news of Saul. Instead, David laments. Furthermore, David says not to speak of the deaths of Saul and Jonathan in the city of Gath or the streets of Ashkelon, for he didn’t want those cities to rejoice in their deaths. He was, even after they were gone, protecting their memory. Today we’d have it tweeted and on Facebook while the bodies are still warm. Many of us have a long ways to go before we have the character of David.
Are we ready to see God’s hand shaping us in the way we are treated? Can we look to God in the midst of our injustice and say to Him, “What Christ-like trait are you trying to teach me?” Or do we just cry and moan about how unfair life is and if people who call themselves good Christian people would just learn to behave then my life would be easier?
Saul hated David. Saul chased, defrauded and attempted to kill David on more than one occasion. David lived all those years in the wilderness surrounded with and directed by the hatred of Saul. Danger, loneliness, loss and hardship were in David’s life because of Saul. But there was something deeper going on here. Saul was God’s anointed. Saul was God’s choice to be king when the people called for one. God knew what Saul was going to do to David, but still He anointed Saul to be king of Israel.
Saul made life difficult for David, but it didn’t destroy David. If David had allowed Saul’s hate to determine his life he would have been destroyed. I’m not saying he would have gone to hell. I’m saying he would have destroyed the potential that God created in David. If David had allowed Saul’s hatred to determine his life he would have been destroyed, cramped and constricted by vengeance. Eugene Peterson says, “When he was being chased down by Saul, he prayed his distress and anger and left it with God, Saul’s sufficient judge. Saul’s hate, instead of narrowing David and reducing him, in fact provided conditions in which he became large, expansive, and generous.”
When people hate you, work against you, look to take vengeance upon you, disregard and defraud you, do you think God is caught off guard? How often do we feel slighted, cheated and gossiped about so that our reputations are harmed and we feel we must inform God of the situation, as if He doesn’t know? God knows, and I want to offer you this thought: He is using these situations to mold you into the person you need to be. He wants to use these situations to expand you and teach you to be generous and Christ-like.
This is what I call the gift of our enemies. It is only through the difficult, pressure-filled and heated moments of life that we know whether we really have God as our complete Lord or if He is only there as a convenience to us, a type of cosmic blessing machine.
David, instead of lamenting how he was treated by Saul, remembers him as God’s anointed and the person who helped shape David into the man he became. We like to admire the beauty of a gold ring and the shiny luminescence of a fine diamond. But the gold has been melted down so the impurities can be lifted from it and the diamond, once a lump of coal, endured tremendous pressure over a long period of time, only to be placed in the hands of a master jeweler to be chiseled and shaped into a gem to be admired. We tend to forget that the superior strength of a fine sword only comes through the frequent baptism of intense heat and the repeated submission of hammer blows.
Are you grateful for the gifts your enemies have given you? Can you thank God that you are now stronger because your enemies have strengthened you in ways you never knew were possible? Can you lament when those who gave you the most difficulty are no longer with us? Instead of crying out to God for the way you’ve been persecuted, can you thank God for loving you enough to help you become a shining diamond or a fine sword in His hand? You can if you are willing to accept the gifts of your enemies.