Surrender to Sovereignty
The scene is a crowded courtroom. The occasion is a
divorce trial. On one side stands the husband; on the other, the wife. Tension
fills the air. One party has deceived, disappointed, and rejected the other.
Now the tables are turned. A few, well-chosen words from an articulate attorney
and he or she can ruin the reputation of the one who has caused so much grief.
A voice in their heart says. “It’s time to even the score.” Revenge at last!
Or the scene is the boardroom of a large
corporation. There sits a young executive who has been trampled on by so many
others as they made their way up the corporate ladder. The footprints of his
peers have made a path through his life. Now he has the upper hand. With
one penetrating statement he can end their careers and assure his own.
Something says to him: “Go for it!” Revenge at last!
Your competitor has belittled you (and your
product) and made a mockery of advertising integrity. Now he’s made a
serious mistake in merchandising, and if you just play his game, and
strike quickly, you can finish him off. Revenge at last!!
That bully in school who has made life so miserable
for your children has been apprehended for a minor infraction of the rules, and
he’s now at your mercy. You can deal with the issue at hand, and be just, or
you can literally ruin his life. A voice within you whispers, “He deserves
whatever he gets.” Revenge at last!
Your political rival just slipped and made a
statement that, properly used against him, could create a huge question mark
about his integrity and poison the mind of thousands against him. You can let
your life speak for itself, or you can do to him what he’s done to you. “Why
not,” you argue, “an eye for an eye.” Revenge at last!
The quest for revenge; how sweet it is to so many!
For there rests deeply within the soul of the natural man (even the cultured,
the peace-loving, the even-tempered natural man) that innate response that
justifies anger (as long as its in response to anger).
...that justifies sarcasm, as long as it’s in response to sarcasm.
...that justifies even physical hurt as long as
it’s in response to physical hurt.
...that seemingly built-in mechanism that gives man
the right to strike back...as long as someone else strikes first...
...and the courtrooms of history echo over and over
the refrain...”Vengeance is yours! Do what you must!” to the one who dared to
But the Word of God indicates there is a better
way! (A much better way in fact.) It is not natural; therefore, it has to be
super-natural. (But the fact that it is not natural does not keep it from being
It is that “better” way that we address in this
study as we continue our journey through the pages of Scripture seeking to
unravel the mystery and validate the history of this Living Legend we’ve come
to know as “David”.
Our excursion takes us into the wilderness of
Engedi for that long awaited confrontation between Saul and David; a
confrontation that seemed to be inevitable. We begin by setting the scene;
taking up where we left off in our last study. In 1 Samuel, chapter 23, verse
one. David, you remember, has been trapped in a mire of problems and
persecution since that eventful day in the valley of Elab when he, by faith,
saved the day for an entire nation by believing his God was bigger than an overgrown
He became the national hero! (To everyone that is,
but King Saul.) For Saul, upon hearing a new song on the Hebrew Hit Parade went
into a paranoid panic. The song was this: “Saul has slain his thousands; but
David has slain his tens of thousands.” That somewhat unfavorable comparison
between our insecure King and his ultimate replacement has set in motion a
reign of terror that has resulted in David’s becoming a fugitive in the very
land in which he has been anointed as King, and 21 attempts will have been made
on David’s life before this incredible series of injustices has run its course.
David, with the dubious distinction of being the
commander of a band of rebels, malcontents, an dissidents, now numbering a
meager 600 men, was being hounded once again. The footsteps of our mad monarch
are not far behind. So the battle goes on: Let’s read beginning with verse 1 of
1 Samuel 23:
1 Then they told David saying, “Behold, the
Philistines are fighting against Keilah, and are plundering the threshing
2 So David inquired of the Lord, saying, “Shall I
go and attack these Philistines:” And the Lord said to David, “Go and attack
the Philistines, and deliver Keilah.”
You would think David had enough problems of his
own without taking on the Philistines in a seemingly unnecessary struggle, and
sheer reasoning uncovers several reasons for David to avoid this particular
1- It would needlessly expose his position to Saul.
He had been in hiding for weeks; now an open battle with the Philistines would
bring him out in the open and reveal to his real enemy both his location and
the number of his troops.
2- It could further diminish the ranks of his
questionable entourage of unwilling warriors (he couldn’t afford to lose a
3- It would possibly allow Saul to catch him
exhausted at the end of the conflict, making him easy prey for his enemy, ripe
target for “all the king’s men”.
Another good reason not to fight the Philistines at
this juncture is found here.
3 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 ranks
of the Philistines.”
So reason number 4: His men had developed a yellow
streak that made their enthusiastic entrance into the fray a virtual
On the flip side, there was only one reason TO
fight the Philistines with all those strikes against them.
2 And the Lord said to David, “Go and attack the
Philistines, and deliver Keilah.”
Beloved, the Word of God plus nothing is all the
reason you’ll ever need to make a decision. Even one that appears to go
against all of the reasoning the world has to offer. God said Go! So David
went. It was that simple. Now David did a wise thing when he realized the odds
were so against him. Verse 4 tells us about it:
4 Then David inquired of the Lord once more. And
the Lord answered him and said, “Arise go down to Keilah, for I will give the
Philistines into your hand.”
He went back to the Word of God for confirmation.
Having received that, once more by faith, David walked into the arena of what
appeared to be certain defeat in the Name of his God.
5 So David and his men went to Keilah and fought
with the Philistines; and he led away their livestock and struck them with a
great slaughter. Thus David delivered the inhabitants of Keilah.
It’s interesting to note that David was constantly
battling the same enemy. The setting was often different, but the conflict was
ever the same. You may feel the same way. You may feel that much of your
Christian life, the warfare in your life has been centered around one
particular spiritual problem. Others may not be bothered by it. You meanwhile,
may not be bothered with some of the things that trouble them. Take heart!
David fought the same foe again and again. It was his particular obvious
enemy. The key is, that in the Spirit, he was continually the victor. It wasn’t
a one-time conquest; it was a continuous conflict, with continuing victories.
That pattern ought not to be unfamiliar to most of us as Christians.
Sure enough, Saul read the Keilah Gazette on Monday
morning, and sees front page photos of David and his ranks of rejects disposing
of the pesty Philistines and says, “Aha! Now I know where the enemy is...” And
Saul, once more yielding to a presumptuous spirit, utters these ridiculous
7 When it was told to Saul that David had come to
Keilah, Saul said, “God has delivered him into my hand, for he shut himself in
by entering a city with double gates and bars.”
Saul succumbed to the peril of presumption. He
presumed that, because David and his men were now in the city of Keilah, a city
enclosed by walls and gates, that was a sign that “God had delivered David into
his hands.” Do you see the pattern and the problem? Believers reading the will
of God by viewing their circumstances through the eyes of their selfish wants,
rather than through the clear Word of God. He took a simple fact and
misappropriated it by assuming that God was arranging life for his convenience.
How often we look so hard for something to confirm
our prejudices, rather than sticking to the principles of the Word. In our
marriages or in our jobs, or in our finances, we’ll make wrong choices and then
give God the blame, as though He “so arranged the circumstances” it had to be
of Him. I think the correct theological phrase is “horsefeathers”.
Saul presumed that because David was in a tight
place, it must have been by divine appointment so Saul could get what he
wanted...David’s head on a platter. That kind of presumption was wrong for
Saul; and it’s wrong for us.
So the word gets to David that Saul has learned of his whereabouts and
is on the six o’clock flight to Keilah. Unlike Saul, David presumes nothing.
Instead, he goes to inquire of the Lord:
10 Then David said, “O Lord God of Israel, thy
servant has heard for certain that Saul is seeking to come to Keilah to destroy
the city on my account.
11 Will the men of Keilah surrender me into his
hand? Will Saul come down just as thy servant has heard? O Lord God of Israel,
I pray, tell thy servant.” And the Lord said, “He will come down.”
12 Then David said, “Will the men of Keilah
surrender me and my men into the hand of Saul?” And the Lord said, “They will
One interesting thing about God’s dealings with his
children that isn’t always true of our dealings with one another is this: God
always tells it like it is. There are no sugar coated promises that won’t
come true, just to keep us from worrying. We have an honest God who gives
honest answers. He doesn’t promise something just to make us like Him. He
promises certain blessings; He promises certain consequences. He tells us the
rain will fall on the just and the unjust alike. God tells it like it is. The Bible
tells it like it is. God told David the truth. If you stay there, Saul will
descend, and those fine-feathered friends in Keilah, whom who just delivered
from the Philistines hordes will turn on you and turn you over to the invading
So David and his troops had a twelve second meeting
and determined their stay in this lovely city needed to come to an abrupt end.
Not that they weren’t enjoying the sights, mind you. It was just that the
anticipation of assassination was not acceptable. So David and his 600 assorted
soldiers took the next Greyhound out of town, and got off in the wilderness of
Ziph. It was time to retreat, retrench, and rest. The interesting thing was
that “The angel of the Lord was encamped round about David, delivering him” for
we read in verse 14:
And Saul sought him everyday, but God did not
deliver him into his hand.
Saul was powerless to touch David unless God
permitted it. Don’t ever forget that. Then in verses 16-18, God, knowing David
is growing a bit weary of the warfare, sends Jonathan to encourage his heart in
the Lord. Three things are interesting about this:
1) God knows exactly when our hearts need an
2) Nothing changes the perspective of someone who
is caught in the midst of a struggle quite like someone who comes alongside,
and just quietly encourages you.
3) And isn’t it interesting, that while Saul had
been hunting David for months with no success, Jonathan finds him with no
problem at all.
Oh, the wonderful plan of God to build up his
children. Jonathan’s warning was “Do not be afraid”, and David apparently
gained new confidence.
Have you ever considered the fact that God may be
calling you to a ministry of encouragement? It doesn’t take a degree to
do it. It only takes love. What you do is this:
You walk alongside someone who is hurting or
fearful or lonely; and you put your arm around them, and quietly (maybe even
without their realizing you have done it), you lift the focus of their
perspective off of the circumstances (which they cannot change) to their
wonderful God (who will never leave them or forsake them). Without either
sermons or sandpaper, you will have reminded them that the battle is not
theirs, it’s God’s. You will not have scolded them for their fear. You will
have given them a substitute for their fear: faith. And you will have done it
in such love that their spirits will soar back into the heavenlies even though
the circumstances that so surround them will not have changed at all.
It’s called the ministry of encouragement. It is
the bond of friendship in the Spirit of love. It’s something you can begin
doing this afternoon. And there is an amazing tool that God has placed in your
home to assist you in your ministry. It’s called the telephone. By simply
picking it up, dialing the appropriate number, and telling someone that you
love them, and that you understand, your ministry has taken its first important
steps. Try it. It worked for Jonathan. It’ll work for you.
Now in verses 19-29 we read of the “beginning of
the end.” The Ziphites send a team of traitors to Saul and tell him that his
archenemy, our hero the harpist, is hiding in the countryside of Ziph, and if
Saul will just send a few troops to find him, they’ll gladly surrender the giant
slayer into his hands. Saul puts on his robes of self-righteousness and again
assumes that it is God who has brought him this telegram of truth.
21 And Saul said, “May you be blessed of the Lord;
for you have had compassion on ME.” (Oh, brother.)
So Saul sends them back as spies to scope out
exactly where David and his menagerie of military misfits is hiding. David
hears about it, and he moves into the caves near Maon. Saul finds out and
Soon Saul descends to just across the mountain from
where David is hiding, and an immediate military confrontation appears to be
26 Saul and his men were surrounding David and his
men to seize them.
We don’t know what was going through David’s mind
at this time. If it had been me, I probably would have been angry at God for
having sent Jonathan with false hopes of deliverance, if God was going to allow
me to be clobbered after all. David, however, was probably resting in God as
At any rate, this was neither the time nor the
place where God intended the two to meet. So just at the last minute, Saul gets
word that the Philistines were taking advantage of the fact that they were
gone, and were invading their territory. So Saul and his tenacious troops make
a U-turn and head back to defend their home base, leaving David to escape once
28 So Saul returned from pursuing David, and went
to meet the Philistines; therefore they called that the rock of escape.
29 And David went up from there and stayed in the
strongholds of Engedi.
So the scene is set for the final conflict. Now it
would appear to be time for the score to be settled. Chapter 24 begins like
1 Now it came about when Saul returned from
pursuing the Philistines, he was told, saying, “Behold David is in the
wilderness of Engedi.”
2 Then Saul took three thousand chosen men from all
Israel, and went to seek David and his men in front of the rocks of the wild
3 And he came to the sheepfolds on the way, where
there was a cave; and Saul went in...Now David and his men were sitting in the
inner recesses of the (that) cave.
Here at last, we have David’s opportunity for
revenge. Here comes King Saul with 3,000 warriors trying to hunt down David and
his 600 corps of rebels. Saul stops at the cave and enters. David and his men
are huddled inside hiding. Now instead of 5 to 1 against, the odds are 600 to
one in David’s favor.
Had I been David, what would have been running
through the computer of my mind would have been the weeks of running, the
humiliation, the danger, the loneliness, the persecution, the by now 20 or so
attempts on my life by this madman from whom the Spirit of the Lord had
obviously departed. I would have been praying for an opportunity for revenge. I
would have construed this to be just that.
Now in verses 4 and 5, we see David’s encouragement
And the men of David said to him, “Behold this is
the day of which the Lord said to you, ‘Behold, I am about to give your enemy
into your hand,’ and you shall do to him as it seems good to you.” Then David
arose and cut off the edge of Saul’s robe secretly.
You’re probably saying, “Wow, what a vicious thing
to do.” This guy has been chasing David all over the countryside trying to end
his stay on planet earth, and here’s David with his big chance; and what does
he do? He cuts off the edge of Saul’s robe, without Saul even knowing it. All
this in spite of the encouragement he is receiving from his troops to sever
Saul’s head from his neck, as they remind David that God has given him the
freedom to do to Saul whatever he thinks best.
In the next few verses, we’re going to see David’s
alternative to revenge. It is a full 180 degrees from the world’s approach to
the problem. We’re also going to look at David’s spirit and see what attitudes
and character qualities surface as his moment of truth emerges, and he has in
his power the opportunity to retaliate. Let’s watch closely.
In verse 5, David has second thoughts about what
he’s done. You say, well, at last, he’s come to his senses. He wishes he’d
taken a revolver and had target practice using his wild eyed pursuer as the
target, right? Wrong!
Instead, David is grieved in his spirit that he has
so much as intended harm to God’s King. Listen:
6 So he said to his men, “Far be it from me because
of the Lord that I should do this thing to my Lord, the Lord’s anointed, to
stretch out my hand against him, since he is the Lord’s anointed.”
Look at the sensitivity of this man of God. So
attuned to God’s mind is He, that the fact that he even THOUGHT of harming
God’s chosen was more than he could bear. The fact that God’s anointed wanted
to plant him six feet underground had no bearing on it. David was dead
to self. His sole desire was to do the will of God.
Now look at his courage. He not only is grieved
that he has done this, but he turns to his band of 600 wild eyed castoffs and
persuades them to leave the King alone, too. They were, no doubt, for the most
part, unbelievers, and here they were, battle scarred and weary of running from
a mad king they had never even met. Now their chance comes to become free of
his oppression, and their leader is asking forgiveness for having cut off the
edge of the guy’s robe. But the verse reads:
7 And David persuaded his men with these words and did not allow them
to rise up against Saul. And Saul arose, left the cave, and went on his way.
That took courage. If ever a leader risked mutiny
for the sake of righteousness, David just did it. It would not have been
surprising to see those 600 of society’s castoff kill Saul and then turn on
David, or at least leave him disgust. But so great was their respect for him,
and so great was his courage in the face of danger, that he was going to do
what was right, regardless of the consequences, that his men agreed, probably
in amazement at themselves, to go along with David, and let the king go free.
Now look at David’s humility,
8 Now afterwards, David arose and went out of the
cave and called after Saul, saying, “My Lord the King!” And when Saul looked behind
him David bowed with his face to the ground and prostrated himself.
9 And David said to Saul, “Why do you listen to the
words of men, saying, Behold, David seeks to harm you?
10 Behold, this day your eyes have seen that the
Lord had given you today into my hand in the cave, and some said to kill you,
but my eye had pity on you; and I said I will not stretch my hand against my
Lord, for He is the Lord’s anointed.
11 Now my father, see! Indeed, see the edge of your
robe in my hand! For in that I cut off the edge of your robe and did not kill
you. Know and perceive that there is not evil or rebellion in MY hands, and I
have not sinned against you, though you are lying in wait for MY life to take
12 May the Lord judge between you and me, and may
the Lord avenge me on you; but my hand shall not be against you.
13 As the Proverb of the ancients says, ‘Out of the
wicked comes forth wickedness’; but my hand shall not be against you.”
Now I will make no efforts to speak for you; but I
must honestly speak for myself and say I am utterly amazed that anyone could
suffer at the hands of another what David has suffered at the hands of Saul,
then have a chance to kill him, and not only refuse to do so, but then follow
him outside and bow down before him and honor him, and humble himself before
him as David has done.
I couldn’t handle that. But the difference is,
David is a man after God’s own heart. In David’s mind, Goliath wasn’t David’s
problem, he was God’s. The Philistines weren’t David’s problem, they were God’s.
And even Saul wasn’t David’s problem, Saul was God’s problem. David’s problem
was only to properly demonstrate God’s attitude even when revenge seemed
appropriate. If he should suffer for it, that too, was God’s problem, and he
was willing to do so. The issue was not the consequences. The issue was doing
the right thing regardless of the consequences.
David humbles himself, but even as he bows to the
ground, he stands ten feet tall; for he says to his pursuer, “This matter that
stands between you and me is God’s to judge, not mine”. So you have wronged me,
God is my judge. He’ll take care of the results. If you need to be punished,
God will punish you. My job is not to judge you, but to respect you for the
office you hold. God’s job it is to deal with you for all you’ve done...and God
is faithful. Verse 15 reiterates it:
15 The Lord therefore be judge between you and me;
and may He see and plead my cause, and deliver me from your hand.
You say, that isn’t normal. You’re wrong. When God lives in a man, that’s
normal. It isn’t natural; it’s super-natural, but it’s normal.
Now look at Saul’s response:
16 Now it came about when David had finished
speaking these words to Saul, that Saul lifted up his voice and wept.
17 And he said to David, “You are more righteous
than I for you have dealt well with me, while I have dealt wickedly with you.
18 And you have declared today that you have done
good to me, that the Lord delivered me into your hand and you did not kill me.
19 If a man finds his enemy, will he let him go
away safely? May the Lord therefore reward you with good in return for what you
have done to me this day.
20 And now, behold, I know that you shall surely be
King and that the kingdom of Israel shall be established in your hand.
21 So now swear now to me by the Lord that you will
not cut off my descendants after me, and that you not destroy my name from my
22 And David swore to Saul. And Saul went to his
home, but David and his men went up to the stronghold.
What you have just witnessed is the opposite of
revenge. It is surrender to the sovereignty of God at a time when revenge seems to be justified.
There is no earthly explanation for it; it is a divine act performed in a human
body. It is godliness in the flesh.
Even here, Saul’s response was far from perfect. He
did not take David back home and restore him to his wife. He did not grant
asylum to his 600 so called warriors. He did not offer to make restitution for
all the grief and loss he had caused David. Instead, he asks David for a
concession. Since David was going to be King, Saul wanted to beg for a little
mercy while David was in a merciful mood. Then he leaves him and his troops in
the wilderness and goes back to the palace to enjoy whatever was left of his
What a guy! He was moved emotionally by what David
did. But he still did not really repent. He was convinced he was wrong, and
that David was God’s anointed; but he was not moved to do anything he didn’t
have to do, or offer anything to David he didn’t have to offer. Even in his
best moment ever, Saul did not have the mind of God.
But Saul is not the issue. It isn’t HIS life we’re
studying at this stage; it’s David’s. And David’s response even now is so
incredibly god-like, we cannot even grasp what it must be like to behave that
The life we are looking at is the life of a man
after God’s own heart. A man, who having faced danger and destruction for weeks
on end at the hand of a jealous, mad king, now having the opportunity to even
the score, falls on his face and honors his pursuer, and quietly gives the
matter of evening the score to a just and holy God. The question we must answer
is: Was he simply an oversensitive saint who was called by God for a specific
purpose? Was it only because he was responding to one in authority? Or is this
kind of behavior the will of God for believers today?
The issue at stake is the sovereignty of God, and
the place of revenge in the life of the Christian. Back to the opening
illustrations: The divorce trial in a courtroom. One party has been grievously
wronged, and he or she has their chance at last.
That corporate executive who has been so abused at
the hands of his colleagues; now he has a chance for revenge.
Then there was that businessman whose competitor
had tried to put him out of business and who has the table turned.
That parent with an opportunity to scar the life of
a child who has scarred the life of their’s.
And that politician whose opponent has made a
practice of character assassination, but who now has slipped on the banana peel
of self-destruction and is but waiting for the knife to fall.
By man’s reasoning, these are all
justifiable times for revenge. The “innocent” party has been totally wronged,
and judgment time has arrived. The question is: Has God given his children the
right to strike back when wounded or not?
We’re not, incidentally, dealing with national
principles. Even while David was exercising personal restraint in his dealings
with Saul, he was slaying Philistines right and left. The Philistines were a
national enemy of God’s people, and war was a part and parcel of God’s plan for
protecting His people. This is not a lesson on pacifism. Far from it.
The issue here is PERSONAL VENGEANCE. The act of
responding to evil with evil. The right to retaliate when a Believer is wronged
by another (whether or not the other is a believer.)
Question: Is this a constant principle throughout Scripture? Does it work in a
world that is bent on revenge? In a world that strangely enough, with Satan at
the helm, has reversed the principle, justifying personal revenge, and
condemning national retaliation, through a systematic misuse of the Scriptures,
infusing them with humanistic principles that defy the precepts of God?
Answer: The Bible is clear. The right to retaliate does not belong to the
Christian. It belongs to God. What David was doing was demonstrating God’s
protection for God’s child who is in the process of doing God’s will in total
opposition to the mind of man. Leviticus 19:18 says it clearly:
You shall not take vengeance, nor bear any grudge
against the sons of your people, but you shall love your neighbor as yourself.
I am the Lord.
Proverbs 20:22 is specific. It says:
Do not say I will repay evil. Wait for the Lord and
He will save you.
Proverbs 24:29 Do not say thus I shall do to him as
he had done to me. I will render to the man according to his work.
Psalm 94:1 adds the reason. We seek vengeance
because we do not trust the sovereignty of God. The Psalmist answers with these
1 O Lord God of vengeance, God of vengeance, shine
7 They have said, ‘The Lord does not see, nor does
the God of Jacob pay heed.”
9 He who planted the ear, does he not hear? He who
formed the eye, does he not see?
10 He who chastens the nations, will HE not rebuke;
even He who teaches man knowledge?
These passages solidify the precept, but in Romans,
chapter 12, we get our best explanation of the how and the why of it all.
Please turn to Romans 12,
1 I urge you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of
God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God,
which is your spiritual service of worship. (The King James says your
2 And be not conformed to this world, but be
transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what the will of
God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect.
16 Be of the same mind, one toward another, do not
be haughty in mind...
17 NEVER PAY BACK EVIL FOR EVIL TO ANYONE. Respect
what is right in the sight of all men.
18 If possible, SO FAR AS IT DEPENDS ON YOU, be at
peace with all men.
19 NEVER TAKE YOUR OWN REVENGE, BELOVED, BUT LEAVE
ROOM FOR THE WRATH OF GOD, for it is written, vengeance is mine, I will repay,
says the Lord.
20 But if your enemy is hungry, feed him, and if he
is thirsty, give him a drink; for in so doing you will heap burning coals upon
21 Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil
Let’s glean the principles from the passage:
Principle #1- The basic issue is Lordship.
You have traded your right to retaliate. “You are not your own, you’ve
been bought with a price.” Your job is, as an act of worship, to give your
entire being with all its rights back to God. This is the only reasonable thing
to do, Paul says, in the light of the cost involved in your salvation.
Principle #2- Having done that, your specific task
is to reject all forms of conformity to the world system.
Principle #3- You do that by saturating your
life with the Word of God, renewing your mind, by replacing the world’s
concepts with the Word’s precepts.
Principle #4- Your objective in being
different is to demonstrate the will of God to the world. It is
different, decidedly different, but it is good, and acceptable, and perfect.
It’s total opposition to the world’s ways that calls attention to the fact that
it is perfect.
Principle #5- With that in mind, God has invoked a
spiritual law that is diametrically opposed to man’s law. It says this: NEVER
(THAT APPARENTLY MEANS NEVER) PAY BACK EVIL FOR EVIL! (You say, of course, that
depends on who is involved.) Negative! The verse goes on to say, “NEVER PAY
BACK EVIL FOR EVIL...TO ANY ONE! (Regardless of what they’ve done.)
Principle #6- That means (19) that the right to
revenge has been removed from your list of acceptable responses, regardless
of the occasion; regardless of the opponent.
Principle #7- The reason is given in verse 19, “LEAVE
ROOM FOR THE WRATH OF GOD.” When you take matters into your hands,
you take matters out of God’s hands, and deny him the privilege of using that
situation to glorify Himself. So everytime you retaliate, you thwart God’s
will, you steal God’s glory, and you violate God’s plan for your life.
Principle #8- God has given you a written guarantee
that He will see to it that the books are balanced. “I WILL REPAY, SAITH
THE LORD.” Maybe not your way; maybe not according to YOUR
timetable; maybe not even for you to ever see...(it may be better that
you don’t). But God has guaranteed you that he will be responsible.
Principle #9- God has, instead, given you
another job to do, every single time vengeance seems to be appropriate. If
someone has harmed you, rather than retaliate, meet a need in their life. If
they’re hungry, feed them; if they’re thirsty, give them a cup of cold water.
Luke chapter six, verses 27 and 28 in fact, gives you four specific things to
do for those whose behavior calls for revenge. Remember? A) - You love them;
B) - You pray for them; C) - You bless them (that is, you ask for
God’s best for them); D) - You do good to them...you meet their needs in
a spirit of love.
You say, “That’s not natural!” Exactly. It is
supernatural! So by your responding in exactly the opposite way from what
the world would, the world is awakened to something or should we not say someone
in your life who has lifted you into a totally different realm of
existence...out of darkness..into light.
Principle #10- The final statement, then that
Romans 12 makes is this: Don’t ever let evil overcome you, causing you to
retaliate; and don’t simply respond by NOT retaliating. Overcome evil with
good. Find a way to demonstrate love in a real and practical way to the very
person who is chasing you into the caves of life; throwing at you the spears of
life; taking from you the pleasures of life; the very person who may be
maligning your reputation and seeking your very destruction.
I don’t know who that might be in your life. In
David’s life it was Saul. Whoever it might be, either today or in the future,
the living legend of David speaks to us without apology or compromise: the
right to revenge is not ours. It belongs exclusively to God. We only have the
right to repay evil with love; to return blessings for cursings, leaving the results,
the ultimate balancing of the books, to God, who will in the meantime, through
our supernatural godly responses, draw men and women to Himself.
If you are involved right now, either outwardly in
a conflict, or inwardly in an internal battle of bitterness, and you are
struggling with the problem of retaliation; the right to revenge; to get what’s
yours at the expense of those who have made what’s yours, theirs...I beg you,
in the name of Jesus Christ, the one who has called you to commit your bodies,
as living sacrifices, holy, acceptable to God,...to go home today, and get
alone with God and release that person and that situation into the hands of the
Holy God whose very name is perfect righteousness. He will take total
responsibility both for exercising judgment and for executing revenge. Then
take a piece of paper, and make a list of the tangible ways you can love,
bless, pray for and minister to those very people towards whom you were
You will experience the lifting of an unbelievable
burden from your shoulders, a burden God never intended you to carry.
You will have surrendered to the sovereignty of
God, and accepted His alternative to revenge. In response, He will fill you
with His love, and free you, with His love, to overcome evil with good.
To Him, be praise and honor and glory forever.