I have always appreciated the life of David. One facet of my admiration for this man is the way that he handled his enemies. Although far from perfect, David’s life is littered with moments where he “took the high road” in his interactions with enemies. I think you and I have much to learn when we consider how David handled these conflicts.
In 1 Samuel 24, King Saul and 3,000 soldiers chased David and his 600 men down into the Wilderness of En Gedi, a region loaded with caves perfect for hiding. It is in one of these caves we get a glimpse of David’s honor. David unknowingly stepped into the very cave Saul and his men were hiding in. David spared his life, cutting the corner of his robe in the process, and then stepped out of the cave in an attempt at reconciliation. Here are some lessons to glean.
Don’t take matters into your own hand. David’s men actually told him that God had given him this opportunity to kill Saul. When enemies and difficult people arrive there will inevitably be people around you who fill your mind with thoughts of revenge. David rejected this garbage and was determined to let God defend him.
Have a sensitive conscience and be innocent.
David did, however, cut the corner of Saul’s robe. This is obviously not as bad as cutting Saul’s throat, but David was still broken over his actions. It is important for us, especially when enemies arise, to have a tender conscience that is unwilling to even speak an ill word.
Try to reconcile.
This is, of course, not always possible, but David at least made an attempt to come out of the cave and reconcile with Saul. It should be noted that David could have easily remained in the cave and let Saul move on with his soldiers. Instead he came out of the cave to make things right. As much as is possible with us, we should strive to reconcile with those we are at odds with.
Recognize that God is shaping you.
Repeatedly in the passage David refers to Saul as “the anointed of the LORD.” He meant this in the sense that Saul was still the anointed king of Israel. When enemies arise for us, however, I think we can see them as anointed by God to help shape us and mold us. I know many people who been positively shaped by their enemies just as much as they have been by their friends.
Be as humble as you can.
When David approached Saul he referred to himself as a dog and as a flea. He was using the lowest in the animal kingdom in reference to himself. His posture, his words, and his attitude all expressed great humility. When dealing with an enemy it is good not to approach them with great pride and arrogance, but with the humility of Christ.
Give it to God.
David ended his pleading by saying that the Lord would judge between him and Saul. This is a wonderful thing to recognize in dealing with an enemy. Ultimately, the ball is in God’s court. Commit it into His hands. Trust that He will judge the situation in the right way and in the right time.
In watching David I am reminded that these are simple lessons, but not easy lessons. Let us stand reminded. We need the grace and strength of God’s Holy Spirit in order to find the ability to respond this way in the face of our enemies. The fruit of the Spirit is love, so let us give ourselves to prayer, the word, and fellowship with God so that his Spirit has opportunity to work deep within our hearts.