“For if a man find his enemy, will he let him go well away? wherefore the Lord reward thee good for that thou hast done unto me this day.”
(1 Samuel 24:19)
How do we deal with our enemies? Sometimes this can be a difficult task.
The Word is rich with instructions and many a command concerning this issue. I’m sure everyone of us know the passage about loving our enemies:
“Ye have heard that it hath been said, Thou shalt love thy neighbour, and hate thine enemy. But I say unto you, love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you; that ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven: for He maketh His sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust. For if ye love them which love you, what reward have ye? do not even the publicans the same?” (Matthew 5:43-46). King David faced this issue as well. Let’s look at his story, shall we?
David was hunted down by Saul as if he was his mortal enemy. Saul didn’t have cause against David except for his calling by God to be the next king of Israel. His jealousy fueled a frenzy of time, energy, and expense to destroy David. Twice in the Bible, David had the opportunity to kill Saul; but he didn’t, because Saul was anointed by God. What can we learn from David about how to deal with our enemies?
#1) Refuse to let your friends or family incite you toward evil action ~
“And the men of David said unto him, Behold the day of which the Lord said unto thee, Behold, I will deliver thine enemy into thine hand, that thou mayest do to him as it shall seem good unto thee. Then David arose, and cut off the skirt of Saul’s robe privily.” (1 Samuel 24:4)
We have to continue to rise above the popular voices of revenge. Our example of being Christ-like in our attitudes toward our enemies is a witness to those who don’t know the Lord. We are instructed to love without exception. There are no ifs, ands, or buts ….
#2) Repent for the times you’ve failed to act in an honorable manner ~
“And it came to pass afterward, that David’s heart smote him, because he had cut off Saul’s skirt.” (1 Samuel 24:5)
David’s heart was grieved, and he felt bad for how he had acted. Many of us have engaged in futile arguments, angry disputes, and even acted out rashly with those who’ve set themselves as our enemies. Because of the Holy Ghost’s conviction, we feel the remorse and repent when we’ve acted out of our flesh instead of in the Spirit ….
#3) Take advantage of opportunities to seek peace if possible ~
“And David said to Saul, Wherefore hearest thou men’s words, saying, Behold, David seeketh thy hurt? Behold, this day thine eyes have seen how that the Lord had delivered thee today into mine hand in the cave: and some bade me kill thee: but mine eye spared thee; and I said, I will not put forth mine hand against my lord; for he is the Lord’s anointed.”
(1 Samuel 24:9-10)
Not everyone will want to seek peace with us; however, as mature believers of Jesus Christ, we can still hold out the olive branch. Our responsibility isn’t to change their hearts but to keep our hearts soft toward peace. And often the most peaceable gesture is to apologize, even if we had no wrongdoing. When we humble ourselves, the Lord will lift us up and exalt us in due time (Luke 14:10).
#4) Resist the temptation to return evil for evil ~
“And he said to David, Thou art more righteous than I: for thou hast rewarded me good, whereas I have rewarded thee evil.” (1 Samuel 24:17)
There may be opportunities for us to give back to our enemies the same pain they’ve given us. Yet, our example is Jesus, Who refused to pay back His accusers and instead gave up His life for all people. As it is written: “Be not overcome of evil, but overcome evil with good.”
#5) Trust in God to deal with your enemies ~
“So David took the spear and the cruse of water from Saul’s bolster; and they gat them away, and no man saw it, nor knew it, neither awaked: for they were all asleep; because a deep sleep from the Lord was fallen upon them.” (1 Samuel 26:12)
Many times we get frustrated because we want God to settle everything right away. However, our God is rich in mercy and seeks that even our enemies come to know Jesus. Therefore, as much as it grieves us, we must put on the mind of Christ and pray for those who have harmed us; whether it be spoken evil against us, cursed us out, stole from us, or physically tried to harmed us. Still, we need to pray blessing on them, and for them, as well as seek to forgive them, for without forgiveness where would we ourselves stand?
“For if ye forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you: but if ye forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.”
That is pretty intense right there. Think about it a moment ….. if we hold anger and unforgiveness in our hearts against those who have harmed us; no matter how justified we feel about it, we do not ourselves get to walk away “scott-free”, so to speak, and just let God deal with them. We are dealt with just as harshly …. Scary thought ……
“Bless them which persecute you: bless, and curse not. Rejoice with them that do rejoice, and weep with them that weep. Be of the same mind one toward another. Mind not high things, but condescend to men of low estate. Be not wise in your own conceits. Recompense to no man evil for evil. Provide things honest in the sight of all men. If it be possible, as much as lieth in you, live peaceably with all men.
Dearly beloved, avenge not yourselves, but rather give place unto wrath: for it is written, Vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord. Therefore if thine enemy hunger, feed him; if he thirst, give him drink: for in so doing thou shalt heap coals of fire on his head.
Be not overcome of evil, but overcome evil with good.” (Roman 12:14-21).
Let us pray ~
Loving Father, I thank You for the example of Jesus Who cried, Father forgive … while suffering on the cross. Help me to be one that freely and willingly prays forgiveness over those who are my enemies, and those who for whatever reason dislike or try to harm me.
Lord I thank You that even the people in our lives who despise and ill-use us have a divine purpose in Your perfect plan, in that it drives us back into Your arms of love, so that we may lift them up to Your throne of grace in prayer, asking for their forgiveness and salvation and releasing in us any pent-up hatred or bitterness that is so damaging to our souls and well-being. Lord give me the grace to show them the love of Christ in my actions and attitudes towards them. Keep my thoughts from becoming resentful or seeking revenge, but rather release in my heart the peace that only comes from casting all my cares on You, and grace not only to truly forgive, but also to bless those who persecute me, for in so doing I see a dim reflection of Your enormous grace towards me for which I praise and thank You. And just as You have called us to pray for all those that seek to do us harm, and not to heap up unforgiveness or resentments in our heart, so Lord I want to bring before You all those people in my life who have become enemies of my soul, and ask for Your grace, favour and forgiveness to be poured out on them; and Lord, I pray that You would convict each one of their need of Jesus as their Saviour.
Lord I know that it is not Your will that anyone should perish but that all should come to salvation in Jesus Christ, so I bring all those people in my life that have sought to do me evil or inflicted harm on me, whether intentionally or unwittingly to Your merciful throne of grace to plead forgiveness and to ask mercy on their soul Lord, for Your holy names sake, I pray that You would draw close to each. Open their eyes to the truth of the gospel of grace I pray, and bring each one into a saving faith on the Lord Jesus and draw them with Your cords of loving forgiveness into Your family. Lord we lay before Your throne of grace the many individuals and groups that openly seek to kill and persecute our Christian brothers and sisters, and we pray for each one and lay each soul at Your feet also, asking for Your mercy to rest on each of them. Look down in pity on those who are openly aggressive toward Christians for they have been blinded to the truth of the glorious gospel of Christ Jesus our Lord. Open their eyes we pray and bring them to a saving faith in Jesus we pray.
I ask Your blessing and mercy on each one for I too was once a stranger to the truth and at enmity against You, but You lifted me up out of the miry clay and set my feet on the rock of my salvation, and just as wretched as I was; through Your mercy and grace and the precious blood of Jesus, I was forgiven, saved and my life changed and transformed by the power of the Holy Ghost, which persuaded me to know there is no one who is beyond Your grace and mercy, and no one is irredeemable. Give me a heart of love towards those who have hurt me personally and give me a heart of forgiveness and prayer for all those who have yet to come to know You. I bring all these prayers and petitions before You Father in Jesus name, Amen …..