Is not this laid up in store with me,
sealed up in my treasuries?
35 Vengeance is mine, and recompense,
for the time when their foot shall slip;
for the day of their calamity is at hand,
and their doom comes swiftly.’
36 For the Lord will vindicate his people
and have compassion on his servants,
when he sees that their power is gone
and there is none remaining, bond or free.
And Leviticus 19:15-18 commands us,
You shall do no injustice in court. You shall not be partial to the poor or defer to the great, but in righteousness shall you judge your neighbor. 16 You shall not go around as a slanderer among your people, and you shall not stand up against the life of your neighbor: I am the LORD.
17 You shall not hate your brother in your heart, but you shall reason frankly with your neighbor, lest you incur sin because of him. 18 You shall not take vengeance or bear a grudge against the sons of your own people, but you shall love your neighbor as yourself: I am the LORD.
It takes a great deal of faith in God not to hurt the people who hurt us, not to take vengeance on people who attack us, and not to hate the people who hate us. But David was a man after God’s own heart who did all the will of God. He trusted and loved the LORD, He knew God well enough to know that he would rather please his Lord than please himself or people. We begin today in 1 Samuel 26. David once again was given an opportunity to kill Saul who had again come after David in Ziph with 3,000 men. Saul and his men were encamped and asleep. Saul was in the center of the army, surrounded by soldiers and sleeping next to Abner, the commander of the army. Saul trusted his life to his men and to Abner. But David saw them all asleep. He asked two of his men Ahimelech the Hittite, and Joab's brother Abishai and aksed them to enter the encampment with him. Abishai went with him. Abishai was a courageous and mighty military man in his own right. The daughter of David’s sister Zeruiah, he alone was brave enough to trust God and follow David into the camp. He had the command of one of the three divisions of David's army at the battle with Absalom ( 2 Samuel 18:2 2 Samuel 18:5 2 Samuel 18:12 ). He defeated and killed the Philistine giant Ishbi-benob, who threatened David's life (2 Samuel 21:15-17 ). He was the chief of the second rank of the three "mighties" ( 2 Samuel 23:18 2 Samuel 23:19 ; 1 Chronicles 11:20 1 Chronicles 11:21 ); and on one occasion killed 300 men with his own spear ( 2 Samuel 23:18). He followed David as David followed the LORD and seeing all David did gave him faith in God.
The two men entered the army’s camp. They could be captured or killed, especially since the army’s sole reason for being there was to kill David. But no one stirred, no one was awake guarding the king. David and Abishai went directly to the sleeping Saul whose spear was in the ground at his head along with his jar of water. Abishai said, “God has given your enemy into your hand this day. Now please let me pin him to the earth with one stroke of the spear, and I will not strike him twice.” (Verse 8). Verses 9-12 record David’s response,
But David said to Abishai, “Do not destroy him, for who can put out his hand against the Lord's anointed and be guiltless?” 10 And David said, “As the Lord lives, the Lord will strike him, or his day will come to die, or he will go down into battle and perish. 11 The Lord forbid that I should put out my hand against the Lord's anointed. But take now the spear that is at his head and the jar of water, and let us go.” 12 So David took the spear and the jar of water from Saul's head, and they went away. No man saw it or knew it, nor did any awake, for they were all asleep, because a deep sleep from the Lord had fallen upon them.
David could have been murdered as Saul so deeply desired, but he trusted God to protect him and God did. David refused to sin against Saul though he desired Saul to pay for his sins. God honored David’s faith and obedience and protected the man by putting the entire army into a deep sleep. David went to a place outside the camp and called to Abner who should have been alert in protection of the king. Now awake the commander, army, and king were shown the spear and water jar David had taken. It was proved that though he could easily have killed Saul, David had spared his life again. David was hurt that he had been vanquished to serve other gods, though he refused to serve them and to serve other armies. David was innocent yet he was pursued as guilty.
Saul was once again convicted of his guilt in chasing this man who had once been so trusted and loved by him. Their exchange is recorded in verses 21-25.
Then Saul said, “I have sinned. Return, my son David, for I will no more do you harm, because my life was precious in your eyes this day. Behold, I have acted foolishly, and have made a great mistake.” 22 And David answered and said, “Here is the spear, O king! Let one of the young men come over and take it. 23 The Lord rewards every man for his righteousness and his faithfulness, for the Lord gave you into my hand today, and I would not put out my hand against the Lord's anointed. 24 Behold, as your life was precious this day in my sight, so may my life be precious in the sight of the Lord, and may he deliver me out of all tribulation.” 25 Then Saul said to David, “Blessed be you, my son David! You will do many things and will succeed in them.” So David went his way, and Saul returned to his place.
Saul once again swore he would not pursue David any longer. But David’s response showed he did not have to trust Saul, he trusted the Lord. Saul could keep trying to kill him, but David trusted justice to God not Saul.
1 Samuel 27 records that David left his beloved Israel and went to Philistia to escape Saul’s unyielding pursuit. He found favor with Achish who gave him a home in Ziklag, a home that remained the property of Judah’s kings. Verses 8-9 record some of David’s actions for Achish.
Now David and his men went up and made raids against the Geshurites,the Girzites, and the Amalekites, for these were the inhabitants of the land from of old, as far as Shur, to the land of Egypt. 9 And David would strike the land and would leave neither man nor woman alive, but would take away the sheep, the oxen, the donkeys, the camels, and the garments, and come back to Achish.
David battled and killed the people Saul was rejected for sparing (1 Samuel 15). He made the Achish think he had utterly turned his back on Israel and Achish trusted David enough to bring him to war with him and let him be his personal bodyguard.
Saul meantime had been unable to hear any word from the LORD and knew a battle with the Philistines was coming. So although he knew it was a sin and had banned any necromancers and mediums form Israel he sought a witch and had her raise Samuel from his rest to implore of him what the battle would bring. 1 Samuel 28:16-19 records the ghost of Samuel’s response.
And Samuel said, “Why then do you ask me, since the Lord has turned from you and become your enemy? 17 The Lord has done to you as he spoke by me, for the Lord has torn the kingdom out of your hand and given it to your neighbor, David.18 Because you did not obey the voice of the Lord and did not carry out his fierce wrath against Amalek, therefore the Lord has done this thing to you this day. 19 Moreover, the Lord will give Israel also with you into the hand of the Philistines, and tomorrow you and your sons shall be with me. The Lord will give the army of Israel also into the hand of the Philistines.”
David was about to go to that same battle but as we find out in 1 Samuel 29, the Philistines would not allow this devoted Israelite to fight with them against Israel. David was not safe in Israel and could not fight for Philistia. In 1 Samuel 30 he returned to Ziklag to find it had been burned to the ground and his wives captured by the Amalekites. I can imagine how frustrated and angry David was. I am sure he wanted to take his anger out on the Philistines, Amalekites, and Saul. But instead he turned to God and asked his will. Verses 7-10 record it.
And David said to Abiathar the priest, the son of Ahimelech, “Bring me the ephod.” So Abiathar brought the ephod to David. 8 And David inquired of the Lord, “Shall I pursue after this band? Shall I overtake them?” He answered him, “Pursue, for you shall surely overtake and shall surely rescue.” 9 So David set out, and the six hundred men who were with him, and they came to the brook Besor, where those who were left behind stayed. 10 But David pursued, he and four hundred men. Two hundred stayed behind, who were too exhausted to cross the brook Besor.
They came upon an Egyptian servant of an Amalekite who fed them, confessed to all the Amalekites had done and led David to the camp. Verses 16-20 read,
And when he had taken him down, behold, they were spread abroad over all the land, eating and drinking and dancing, because of all the great spoil they had taken from the land of the Philistines and from the land of Judah.17 And David struck them down from twilight until the evening of the next day, and not a man of them escaped, except four hundred young men, who mounted camels and fled. 18 David recovered all that the Amalekites had taken, and David rescued his two wives. 19 Nothing was missing, whether small or great, sons or daughters, spoil or anything that had been taken. David brought back all. 20 David also captured all the flocks and herds, and the people drove the livestock before him, and said, “This is David's spoil.”
David and his men came back with all their possessions and more and when they came upon the two hundred who had not joined in the battle some of the 400 did not want to give them their possessions or any of the spoil. That would be the natural response of most of us. “You didn’t fight, you didn’t help. You lose out.” It seemed like the right payback for the 200 who were too exhausted to fight. But David was a man after God’s own heart and he said, “You shall not do so, my brothers, with what the Lord has given us. He has preserved us and given into our hand the band that came against us. Who would listen to you in this matter? For as his share is who goes down into the battle, so shall his share be who stays by the baggage. They shall share alike.” And he made it a statute and a rule for Israel from that day forward to this day. (Verses 23-25). David even sent part of the spoils to the elders of Judah, whom he still loved and honored as friends.
1 Samuel 31 records what happened to Saul and his sons fighting the Phillistines. Verses 1-7 read,
Now the Philistines were fighting against Israel, and the men of Israel fled before the Philistines and fell slainon Mount Gilboa. 2 And the Philistines overtook Saul and his sons, and the Philistines struck down Jonathan and Abinadab and Malchi-shua, the sons of Saul. 3 The battle pressed hard against Saul, and the archers found him, and he was badly wounded by the archers. 4 Then Saul said to his armor-bearer, “Draw your sword, and thrust me through with it, lest these uncircumcised come and thrust me through, and mistreat me.” But his armor-bearer would not, for he feared greatly. Therefore Saul took his own sword and fell upon it. 5 And when his armor-bearer saw that Saul was dead, he also fell upon his sword and died with him. 6 Thus Saul died, and his three sons, and his armor-bearer, and all his men, on the same day together. 7 And when the men of Israel who were on the other side of the valley and those beyond the Jordan saw that the men of Israel had fled and that Saul and his sons were dead, they abandoned their cities and fled. And the Philistines came and lived in them.
David did not have to lift a finger to harm Saul. Saul’s own avarice and pride killed him. The Lord had avenged David and David never had to sin against Saul, show him hate, or even be unkind for God to justify him. 2 Samuel 1 records David’s reaction to Saul and Jonathan’s death. He did not rejoice, he lamented. He mourned his friend and he mourned the king, God’s anointed.
Believer, you do not ever have to worry about taking vengeance against the wrongs done to you. Every person on the face of the earth from the beginning of creation to the end of this earth will face Justice. He will either pay for his sins by his own blood or Jesus will have paid with His. We do not have to seek vengeance. We trust and love God. We seek God, His will, His kingdom, His heart, and to know Him. We have a different view of our enemies. In Matthew 5:35-45 Jesus said,
“You have heard that it was said, ‘An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.’ 39 But I say to you, Do not resist the one who is evil. But if anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also. 40 And if anyone would sue you and take your tunic, let him have your cloak as well. 41 And if anyone forces you to go one mile, go with him two miles. 42 Give to the one who begs from you, and do not refuse the one who would borrow from you. 43 “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ 44 But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, 45 so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven. For he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust.”
Paul echoes Jesus’ sentiment in Romans 12:14-20,
Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse them. 15 Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep. 16 Live in harmony with one another. Do not be haughty, but associate with the lowly. Never be wise in your own sight. 17 Repay no one evil for evil, but give thought to do what is honorable in the sight of all. 18 If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all. 19 Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.” 20 To the contrary, “if your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink; for by so doing you will heap burning coals on his head.” 21 Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.