April 17 | Daily Devotion

Lectio Continua: a continuous reading of every verse

Lectio Semi-continua: shorter reading selections from the passages

Lectio Divina

“May the Lord judge between you and me. And may the Lord avenge the wrongs you have done to me, but my hand will not touch you.” ~David to King Saul, 1 Samuel 24:12

David flees from the king to save his own life, and some 600 men, including a prophet and a priest, join him in exile (1 Sam. 23:13). This band of brothers is comprised entirely of outcasts under King Saul’s administration so each man has a bone to pick with the king. However, David does not seek retribution.

David’s warrior band proves as difficult to find in Israel’s wilderness as Osama bin Laden once was in the mountains of Afghanistan. The leader knows the country well, and he is both crafty and unafraid (1 Sam. 23:22). He hides when he needs to and uses a sword when he must. However, when David has the opportunity to take the life of the arrogant king who seeks him, he does not do it. His restraint offers a glimpse into his heart. David believes that just as God anointed Saul as king so God will remove him from the throne. The matter does not rest in any man’s hands, not even the man who is anointed to take Saul’s place. “May the Lord judge between you and me,” David says to Saul in 1 Samuel 24:12 (paraphrase). In other words, David does not raise his sword against a sworn enemy because he believes that justice belongs to the Lord!

If we’re being honest, patience and restraint probably aren’t the first two reactions we have when someone wrongs us. They are, however, the reactions we’re called to choose! Striking out against those who do us harm is a clear indication that we do not trust God to follow through on His promise to enact justice and vengeance (Deut. 32:35, see also Romans 12:17-21). Vengeance belongs to the Lord. He is the judge, and He will judge!

That being said, trusting God for justice does not mean we must trust those who wrong us! David was not naïve. He graciously accepted Saul’s emotional apology, but he did not return with him. People are sinners, a fact we do well to remember, but given the opportunity, we should be kind to our enemies in both word and deed and leave justice in God’s hands. It is freeing to stop trying to get even and to be able to say with conviction, “May the Lord judge between me and the person who has wronged me.” Doing the Judge’s job, exacting vengeance on others, not only dishonors Him, it also wastes your effort and energy. May God help us to refuse to do what feels good in the moment in favor of doing what is right, waiting on His good timing.

Lectio Divina is written by F. Lionel Young III, who serves as the senior pastor of Calvary Church in Valparaiso, Indiana. He is the author of A New Kind of Missionary, a popular introduction to global Christianity.