July 13, 2015

Responding to mistreatment

1 Samuel 22:1–23:29, 1 Peter 1:13–19, Psalm 123:1–124:8

What is a Christian supposed to do when someone in authority is determined to put them down? David was to be the next king, but before he could take the throne, Saul was still the king. And Saul determined that David had to be killed.

As soon as David knew it, he escaped to the cave of Adullam. “And when his brothers and all his father’s house heard it, they went down there to him. And everyone who was in distress, and everyone who was in debt, and everyone who was bitter in soul, gathered to him. And he became commander over them. And there were with him about four hundred men.” (1 Samuel 22:1–2)

As a signpost pointing to Jesus Christ, I find this interesting that David should be surrounded by a motley crew. Not only did he have the king out for his head, but he had to keep under control the distress, burdens, and bitterness of those who followed him. In this, David models the Messiah.

He also sought the direction of God, and when it came, he did what He was told. For instance, the prophet Gad said to him, “Do not remain in the stronghold; depart, and go into the land of Judah.” So David departed and went into the forest of Hereth. (1 Samuel 22:5) God’s spokesperson gave God’s Word and David didn’t argue or present any strategy of his own. He simply obeyed. Here he also models Jesus Christ.

David also cared for other people whom Saul attacked because of him. Saul killed an entire group of priests because one of them gave David food. David did not retaliate, but he did say to the priest who escaped, “I knew on that day, when Doeg the Edomite was there, that he would surely tell Saul. I have occasioned the death of all the persons of your father’s house. Stay with me; do not be afraid, for he who seeks my life seeks your life. With me you shall be in safekeeping.” (1 Samuel 22:22–23)

Most of all, David carried on as a commander of the kings army, always seeking the Lord’s will about what to do next. Obviously, he could not ask Saul. He prayed, “Shall I go and attack these Philistines?” And the Lord said to David, “Go and attack the Philistines and save Keilah.” But David’s men said to him, “Behold, we are afraid here in Judah; how much more then if we go to Keilah against the armies of the Philistines?” Then David inquired of the Lord again. And the Lord answered him, “Arise, go down to Keilah, for I will give the Philistines into your hand.” (1 Samuel 23:2–4)

Even though David would rescue the citizens of Keilah, he knew that Saul was plotting harm against him. Again, he sought the will of God. “O Lord, the God of Israel, your servant has surely heard that Saul seeks to come to Keilah, to destroy the city on my account. Will the men of Keilah surrender me into his hand? Will Saul come down, as your servant has heard? O Lord, the God of Israel, please tell your servant.” And the Lord said, “He will come down.” (1 Samuel 23:9–11)

The NT reading gives further instruction for Christians under fire. Peter wrote, “Therefore, preparing your minds for action, and being sober-minded, set your hope fully on the grace that will be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ. As obedient children, do not be conformed to the passions of your former ignorance, but as he who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct. (1 Peter 1:13–15)

From David’s experience, the following principles that can be applied when someone wants to put me down: 

-          Keep my passions and problems under control by relying on the Lord.
-          Seek God’s direction for everything.
-          Do what He says without question or argument.
-          Do not retaliate.
-          Don’t forget to be merciful toward others who are in the same predicament.
-          Don’t be surprised if those I serve also turn against me.
-          And keep reading the psalms. These are such a comfort when being mistreated...

“Have mercy upon us, O Lord, have mercy upon us, for we have had more than enough of contempt. Our soul has had more than enough of the scorn of those who are at ease, of the contempt of the proud . . . We have escaped like a bird from the snare of the fowlers; the snare is broken, and we have escaped! Our help is in the name of the Lord, who made heaven and earth.” (Psalm 123:3–4, 124:7–8)

No comments: