When You Find Yourself Within Striking Distance of Justice


 

    In I Samuel 26 we find David in an interesting situation.  He has been running and running for his life from a man he deeply cares for and who, I believe, felt like a father to him.  His heart has been misunderstood.  His influence has been seen as a threat.  All the ways he worked so hard and sacrificed so much to do the right thing has left him exhausted and hiding for his life in a cave.  Oh and God had set his feet on this path and told him that he would someday be king. 
Oh really?  King of the dark cave?  Woo hoo.  Sign me up.  

 

    Have you ever felt like the king or queen of the dark cave?  
 

    You clearly heard the Lord tell you to do something, you obeyed and yet right at this moment that part of your life seems to be wrecked instead of #blessed.  You were convinced that you knew what God was doing and then God zigged when you thought he was zagging.  You sacrificed pure-heartedly for something and were left holding the bag AND the blame. 
You were faithful yet called the opposite.     

    Circumstances like these are a string of hits: they frustrate us with the injustice of it all, they make us feel alone and misunderstood, they make us ask questions of God’s goodness or our own ability to hear Him, and they make us just plain weary-physically and mentally.  I admit that I daydream of the conversations I could have where I am able to set everything right with my carefully crafted words like when Nathan the prophet told David, “You’re the dirty rotten baby lamb stealer!”(my paraphrase-see 2 Sam 12).  Anyone else have daydream vengeance internal monologues?  Nope just me?  Anywho…
 

    So we find the good-hearted, chosen of God, obedient David hiding in a dark cave.  David likely is quite tired, grieved in his soul, lonely, betrayed, sad and maybe having some internal monologues of his own.  He’s probably not at his best.  We see from the Psalms that David turns to God with all this and asks many times for help.    

    And then…there is a moment where God delivers Saul to David.  David was able to get within striking distance of Saul because “the Lord had put [him] into a deep sleep.”  And you know what I personally would have thought there?  God handed him over to me so I can stop this garbage.  Yay God!  David’s man Abishai was in full support of ending Saul with one blow in his sleep and if that’s how it would have played out I wouldn’t have thought twice about it (hello enneagram 8’s.  I see you.).  It seemed like God gave David a chance to vindicate himself.  To set the scales right and repay the evil done.  I would have at least thought it was a chance to lay him out in front of others, parade his record of wrongs and maybe publicly throw him in jail for being a huge jerk.
 

    Have you ever actually been within striking distance of justice? 

In a providential moment you can become the hero.  You can reveal the truth, you can bury someone in their own rubbish.  You can vindicate yourself.  You can deliver the death blow-you can almost hear, “finish him” ringing in your ears…   

    In a beautiful plot twist, David keeps his friends from harming Saul.  Instead they take a few things Saul was sleeping near to prove that David was able to get that close.  Instead of a death blow, David has a conversation.  Instead of ending a life, David tries to breathe life into the lungs of a dead relationship.  Instead of justice for himself, David creates room for the Kingdom of God which is spacious enough for justice for all.  Instead of assuming that the Lord was letting him take charge of his destiny, he assumed that the Lord was faithful and would see his promises through Himself: “The Lord rewards every man for his righteousness and faithfulness.  The Lord delivered you into my hands today, but I would not lay a hand on the Lord’s anointed.  As surely as I valued your life today, so may the Lord value my life and deliver me from all trouble.”1 Sam 26:23-24.  This from David who is tired and heartsick and has been living in a cave. 
He probably entertained other scenarios because he was human after all.
         

    But David realized he was not the hero of the story, God was.   
 

    He realized that taking matters into his own hands in this instance may free him from a momentary trouble, but letting the Lord handle it would deliver him from ALL TROUBLE.  How much trouble has the Lord wanted to deliver us from if we would trust him from the cave when our foe is in a deep sleep and we are tired of the constant dumpster fire that we didn’t light? 
All trouble. 
    How much more powerful is the peace of the Lord invited into a space, a relationship, a misunderstanding, than the well-deserved death blow in a fight?  An olive branch that brings hope of redemption than a spear through a heart?  Binding wounds and being an instrument in healing rather than creating wounds. Letting the words of the Lord flow from out of our heart, to our lips, over others, rather than letting our carefully crafted opinions fly.  One way may create a temporary form of justice, but the other invites the Lord to cover the tab.  It sees the Lord as the hero of the story instead of ourselves.  It remembers God as just and faithful even when and if we find ourselves in the cave.  

    Will it cost us something?  Absolutely.  Sometimes our foe lives to attack again or wrongs never feel like they are righted like we would have planned.  Our reputation isn’t vindicated. We didn’t get the last word.  It costs us our short game and puts our feet firmly into the long one.   

    What it really costs us though is our pride, our hero complex, our thinking that we know the whole story and we are the center of it, our hostility, our offense, our stabby internal monologues, our sleepless nights trying to sort it out-it will cost us those too as we hand them over to the Lord’s grace. In turn we will see the Lord deliver us from ALL TROUBLE.  We will be invited into God’s Kingdom plan to do good things.  It asks, “Who is the hero of this story?  Me or God?  Who’s kingdom does this interaction build?  Mine or the Lord’s”. We will be givers and receivers of His grace and mercy, even if we don’t understand it, instead of givers and receivers of wrath, even if we don’t understand it.  Make no mistake, we choose one or the other.  I would much rather fire off grace and mercy with my tiny limited view of reality than wrath.    

    You know what turns away wrath?  A kind answer (Proverbs 15:1).  It turns it away and sends it out the door.  Bye.  David gave Saul a kind answer in their dialogue and Saul apologized and went home.  Of course, that wasn’t the end of the story and Saul comes back (spoilers) but that’s also not the end of the story.  David becomes king the right way, through God’s hand not his own (yay, hero of the story?) But wait, there’s more: Through David’s line the true hero of the story that brings the Kingdom of God to Earth, Jesus Christ, is born to save us ALL from the wrath we deserve.  In the timeline of the Kingdom, David’s kind answer turned away wrath FOREVER through Jesus.  David made space in humility for the Lord to do Kingdom of Heaven type work instead of merely providing justice in the moment.  When he chose that, God invited David to be a part of the eternal story of salvation from wrath for all mankind… not just a small personal victory for David’s small personal kingdom.  When you seek God’s kingdom even if it is at the cost of your own, he will write you into a story that’s bigger than yourself.  “All these things will be added unto you.”  

    I would rather be invited into God’s kingdom work to set the world right forever, than take my chance at striking a blow to make my kingdom feel right for a moment.  We have a choice if decisions in these moments reflect the eternity we want to build or reflect our temporary hurt.  “…each one should be careful how he builds.  For no one can lay any foundation other than the one already laid, which is Jesus Christ.  If any man builds on this foundation using gold, silver, costly stones, wood, hay or straw, his work will be shown for what it is, because the Day will bring it to light.  It will be revealed with fire, and the fire will test the quality of each man’s work.  If what he has built survives, he will receive his reward.  If it is burned up, he will suffer loss; he himself will be saved, but only as one escaping through the flames.” (I Cor 3:10b-15).  Acting on my own justice scale, opinions, emotional reaction may make me feel like I have momentarily escaped the flame.  However, when I have a chance at my own personal justice and I breathe the life of the Kingdom of God over it instead, I am inviting eternal change.  It’s just the very very long game and it’s so hard to have the patience and love for it.  We need to ask the Lord to supernaturally provide these things before we engage and He will absolutely give them to us.      

    May we be people who use our striking distance to reach out our hand to pull others towards the Kingdom of Jesus.

Comments

Such a good reminder!

Especially during these times, I needed to be reminded that it isn't up to me to set things right. God will do that way better than I ever could. Such good writing makes this meditation easy to read and enter into. Thank you!

Bless you, sister! Thanks

Bless you, sister! Thanks for reading and for the encouragement. God is certainly working on my heart in this and I’m glad sharing it was meaningful.

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