Blessed be your discretion, and blessed be you, who have kept me this day from bloodguilt and from avenging myself with my own hand! (1 Samuel 25:33 ESV)
In 1 Samuel 25, David and his men request food for a feast from a wealthy man who has plenty to spare. They have watched over his sheep and shepherds and kept them from harm for some time. But the man refuses them and instead insults them. This angers David and he sets of to kill on the men of his household. But Abigail, his wife, intercedes by bringing food and wise words to David. She reminds David of how the Lord has kept him thus far from bloodguilt and urges him not to do this deed, though the man deserves it, in order that bloodguilt not be on his hands. David listens and restrains his hand and thanks her for restraining him with her wisdom. This lesson is not far from David’s mind as he finds himself in the next chapter with an opportunity to kill King Saul who is in the midst of trying to kill David. Saul is encamped with his army all around him, sleeping at night. David and Abishai, one of his men, sneak through to Saul and could easily kill Saul there and then. But David refuses and also restrains Abishai’s hand. He will not take revenge for himself but is content to leave it to the Lord.
So David and Abishai went to the army by night. And there lay Saul sleeping within the encampment, with his spear stuck in the ground at his head, and Abner and the army lay around him. Then said Abishai to David, “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.” But David said to Abishai, “Do not destroy him, for who can put out his hand against the Lord’s anointed and be guiltless?” 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. (1 Samuel 26:7-10 ESV)
How is David able to leave it like that? Only if he knows that God is truly a just God can he let it go. This is what he acknowledges in his rationale for leaving Saul alive. He trusts instead for God to take care of it, acknowledging that God’s justice is better than his own. How much we need to learn this lesson today! Not so much to refrain from killing people but from harboring bitterness in our hearts as our own form of punishing them, or gossiping about them, or pushing them away. We find ways of exercising vengeance instead of handing it over to the Lord. Paul writes to the Romans,
Repay no one evil for evil, but give thought to do what is honorable in the sight of all. If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all. 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.” (Ro 12:17-19)
Do you trust the Lord’s justice?
Chronological Reading Plan plus Psalms: 1 Sa 25-27, Ps 104