Repaying Evil with Blessing
Read 1 Samuel 24 and 1 Peter 3:9
"You are more righteous than I; for you have dealt well with me, while I have dealt wickedly with you."
If there was ever a person who had justification for striking back at his enemy, it was David. Being driven by blind jealousy, Saul became obsessed with killing David. Even though David had repeatedly demonstrated his unwavering loyalty to Saul, Saul still turned against him. When David received help from the priests at Nob, Saul responded by massacring them even though they had been innocent of any insurrection. When his own son, Jonathan, tried to reason with him, Saul responded by attempting to kill Jonathan.
To David's companions, the appearance of a defenseless Saul in a cave where they were hiding seems to be a divinely given opportunity to end the blood-feud once for all. They encourage David to strike Saul with a sword and end the threat. However, instead of doing so, David merely snuck up and cut the corner off of Saul's robe. But even then, his minor act of defiance pricked his conscience, for it was a strike against the divinely appointed king.
After Saul left the cave, David then calls out to Saul and affirms his loyalty to him. Instead of using this as an opportunity to exact revenge against Saul, David uses the event as an opportunity to demonstrate his commitment to Saul
In this event, we find an essential principle to govern our reactions towards those with whom we have a conflict. When relationships become strained because of past grievances and disagreements, we can either look for opportunities to get even, or we can look for opportunities to seek restoration. While David's companions chose the former, David chose the latter, and, in the end, even Saul affirmed David's righteousness.
Peter makes this same point when he states that we are not to return "evil for evil or insult for insult, but giving a blessing instead; for you were called for the purpose that you might inherit a blessing" (1 Peter 3:9). When relationships are strained, and we feel slighted because of their actions and words, it is easy to respond with an insult. But God calls us to a higher standard. Not only does he challenge us to avoid responding with hostility, but he also challenges us to do the very opposite, to seek to bless them instead. To bless someone is to speak well of them, to desire to bring salvation to them, and pray that they will enjoy the favor of God. When we respond by seeking the other's blessing, then we will find that we are blessed.
Everyone one of us will have conflict and difficult relationships with someone at some point in our life. It is part of being human. We have different opinions, desires, and perspectives that result in conflict. It is also part of being in a fallen world where we become driven by our selfish desires and pride. This issue is not will we encounter conflicts with others—we will. The issue is how will we respond. Will we respond by seeking our justification and demanding our rights or will we respond by setting aside what we desire and seek what is best for the other? In an age of political division, instead of seeking to separate ourselves from those with whom we disagree, look for ways to encourage and bless them. When we do this then we will enjoy God's blessing upon us.