One of the persons, in the Bible, who I have a deep admiration for, is David. We all know the story of how David went from being a shepherd boy to king but many of us missed some of the small details that he went through to get there and even what he did, once he got there. In this post, I want to examine a story that has fascinated me in recent times. This is a story of relentless persecution and a forgiveness and mercy that healed all involved.
Many times when we mention forgiveness, we pull on the analogy of Christ’s forgiveness of our sins, yet there are men who had displayed measures of forgiveness that are truly admirable. The books of Samuel tell the stories of how King Saul persecuted David when he realised the glory of God that shined on David. The books tell of the many instances when Saul does everything in his power to kill David or cause him ill-will. These attempts included:
- Throwing javelins at David while he played the harp to calm the evil spirit that had overtaken Saul.
- Sending David on dangerous missions in the hope that he would be killed.
- Giving David’s wife, his daughter Michal to another man after his threats to David’s life forced David to go on the run.
- Setting out with his soldiers to find and kill David.
Despite these attempts by Saul, David’s reactions are very surprising! He does not retaliate. In fact, when he comes in contact with Saul’s sleeping body on two separate occasions, instead of striking him a death blow, many would have said he deserved, David displays mercy. It was not up to him to kill the Lord’s anointed. He even felt guilty for cutting off a bit of Saul’s skirt which he used to prove to Saul that he didn’t seek his hurt.
David’s remarkable mercy continues even after Saul dies. When he discovers the man who had dealt Saul the death blow, David punishes him with death. Still, David is not satisfied! His final act ends with him ensuring that Mephibosheth, Saul’s lame grandson is cared for for live and has a place at the king’s table for the rest of his days. Now that is mercy and forgiveness! It is no wonder God considered David “a man after His own heart.”
Reflecting on David story has made me realize that there is so much more I can do as an individual. There is so much more we can all do. Sometimes, I struggle with unforgiveness or I deem a slight as necessitating retaliation. These are moments when I should take a page out of David’s book. When I think about it, I also realized something. When you extend forgiveness or mercy to one who seems to hurt you, it confuses the individual. They don’t know how to react to your goodwill. Think about it, when Saul realized that David could have killed him but chose not to, he felt ashamed and acknowledged that he had been the one to do David a disservice.
While you join me in extending forgiveness that heals? Let us extend forgiveness and mercy to the ones we find it hardest to give it! Let’s stretch that compassion muscle!