“May the LORD judge between you and me,
and may the LORD avenge me on you;
but my hand shall not be against you.”
(1 Samuel 24:12 NASB).
Everyone gets hurt. If you haven’t been hurt yet, just keep breathing … it will happen.
Once hurt, you must decide how you will respond. And you really have only two choices—to forgive or to take revenge.
Revenge has many forms. You can withdraw, ignore, retaliate with words or actions, gossip and slander to tear someone down, and on and on.
But what you’re saying is this: “You’ve hurt me; therefore, I’m going to take this matter into my hands and hurt you back.”
A Courtroom Transfer
For innocent David, who had every human right to strike out against a man who was chasing him down like a dog, we would think retaliation reasonable. Saul was king, and his jealousy was driving him to try to destroy young David, whom God had anointed as Saul’s successor in time.
David had an opportunity to kill Saul while he was sleeping, but he chose not to do so. In fact, even after he merely cut off the edge of Saul’s robe, his heart was disturbed.
It came about afterward that David’s conscience bothered him because he had cut off the edge of Saul’s robe. 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” (1 Samuel 24:5-6).
David trusted the sovereignty of God. God said you shouldn’t strike out against His anointed man, and David chose to do what God instructed and leave the results of his case in God’s courtroom.
God is big, and David transferred the issue from his courtroom to God’s, believing that He could fully and faithfully accomplish whatever was needed. This transfer is called forgiveness.
The Deadly Danger of Unforgiveness
If we fail to forgive, seeking instead to retaliate, the “correcting” of the one who offended us is now in our hands. And we’re terribly deficient in our ability to accomplish the right results.
In fact, we can do great harm both to others and ourselves. Often our efforts put us in the prison of unforgiveness and bitterness.
Paul would emphasize this same truth in Romans 12:17-19:
Never pay back evil for evil to anyone. Respect what is right in the sight of all men. If possible, so far as it depends on you, be at peace with all men. 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.
God, the Avenger
Leaving an issue in the hands of God is a faith step. It is believing that God is big enough to take care of you and correct others when needed.
God may direct you to confront others at times. But this spiritual confrontation cannot be accomplished rightly until you have first forgiven.
Are you still holding a sword in your hand, against anyone? If so, relax your hand and release the sword. Trust that God is big enough to take care of those who have hurt you.
Leave your case in the heavenly courtroom where it belongs. Only then will you be able to obey the higher kingdom law Jesus gave us to love our enemies, and only then will God begin to do what He needs to do in the lives of those who have hurt you.
Father, You modeled forgiveness perfectly. While being reviled, You did not revile in return; while suffering, You uttered no threats, but kept entrusting Yourself to Him who judges righteously (1 Peter 2:23). You live in us. Help us to rely on Your grace to forgive and even love those who have hurt us. Let Your perfect love be shed abroad in our hearts and flow through us mightily. Help us to forgive the small hurts as well as the large. And may the power of forgiveness show the watching world Your power in us.