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Sierra Pines Church

12 Ways to Turn Your Pain into Praise

Sapphires from Psalms

Better Than Jewels

 

In my counseling office, I encounter a lot of folks who fail to forgive those who have offended them because they have the mistaken notion that forgiveness requires forgetting the offence. For folks who have been deeply wounded, that seems like too much to ask. What a relief it was for me to find out that forgetting wasn’t part of the deal.

The Bible lets us know that in an excerpt from the life of David, who was called a man after God’s own heart. The scene opens in 1 Samuel 24 with David on the run from Saul. In times past Saul had been like a father to David, but now because of petty jealousy, Saul was trying to kill him. While David was on the run more and more misfits joined him.  He and six hundred men were hiding in the goat caves of En Gedi. 

Saul, hot on David’s trail, went into the cave to relieve himself. (It’s right there in verse three; you can read it for yourself.)  David’s men informed him, “God had delivered your enemy into our hands for you to deal with as you wish.” David crept up unnoticed and sliced a piece off the hem of Saul’s garment. Then David felt conscience-stricken and realized he could not kill Saul, God’s anointed King of Israel.

I can see it in my head now. Saul saunters out of the cave. David and his men file out after him. Please indulge my “Newtonian Paraphrase.”

“Yo, Saul.  Does this look familiar to you?”  I hear David shouting.  “I could have slit your throat. I was this close,” he confesses, holding up the piece of cloth. “But I didn’t think it would be pleasing to the Lord.” Then David heads into an impassioned speech wherein he even refers to Saul as “father.” You can imagine the confusion and frustration filling the fugitive’s head. God as my witness, Saul, I don’t know what your beef is with me. I killed a giant for you, fought valiantly beside you. I even played my harp to calm your frazzled soul.  In verse 11-12 he states, “I have not wronged you but you are hunting me down to take my life. 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.” 

Saul responds, “You’re right; I’m wrong. You’re good; I’m bad.”

The life-changing truth of this passage, found in the last verse of the chapter, is a so subtle it could almost slip past you if you aren’t paying attention.  The final sentence in 1 Samuel 24: 22 reads, “Then Saul returned home, but David and his men went up to the stronghold.”

David didn’t say, “It’s all good, Saul. Let’s just forget about all your abuse and go back to the palace. We’ll and hunt and fish together. I’ll play my harp for you and everything will be hunky dory. David knew that Saul’s heart hadn’t changed. I believe that God Himself imparted that wisdom to his servant David, and, sure enough, two chapters later Saul is trying to kill David again.

David didn’t slaughter his offender even when he had the opportunity and the encouragement from his troops. He didn’t let hatred for Saul consume him to the point that he constructed a voodoo doll of Saul to stab every time he felt vindictive.  But neither did he rush back to the palace and set himself up to be disappointed again by his jealous father figure, Saul. I find it interesting that the NIV uses the word “stronghold” to describe the Crags of En Gedi. I believe those caves were as much of an emotional stronghold for David as they were a physical one.       

We see that it isn’t forgive and forget. It’s forgive and set boundaries. Setting boundaries requires that we maintain a healthy distance from our offenders and spend time with the Lord.  He will either give us strength to speak up to bullies or thick skin to ignore them. Like David, we retreat to our stronghold, distance from the damage, and invest in the empowerment we get from seeking God. In 2 Peter 2:22, states, “A dog will return to its own vomit.” We just don’t have to be there when it does!    

I pray this new insight will give you courage on your journey to forgive.

Check out the recent post on out Facebook page “Forgiving God?” https://www.facebook.com/answersfrommomanddad

And watch for Chicken Soup for the Soul: The Forgiveness Fix, due out November 6 with two of my stories about how God helped me to forgive.

 

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