Revenge. I know I shouldn’t think this, but it’s a word that sounds so sweet.
It’s the only thought that keeps me calm when someone or something infuriates me. Revenge on that annoying kid at work. Revenge on the politicians that ignore human rights. Revenge on that one girl for making me feel inferior.
I don’t even follow through on the revenge! It’s just the thought that keeps me sane. And if, for some reason, I get to see whoever wronged me getting their just desserts? It’s a delicious bonus.
And that’s just me and my first world problems! Imagine if someone had tried to kill you, chased you from your home, and stood in the way of everything that was supposed to be yours!
Revenge would be the first thought on your mind.
But, for some reason, in 2 Samuel 1, when we catch up with David, to whom all of the above really did happen—revenge is the exact opposite of what he has in mind.
And it’s strange because revenge, or at least schadenfreude, was practically delivered to David on a silver platter.
A soldier visits David with the news we witnessed in 1 Samuel 31: Saul is dead. But then the messenger adds a little bit of spice: he pretends that he was the one who killed Saul.
It’s almost a smart move, because what better way to endear yourself to the man you’re pretty sure is the next king of Israel? Look at me, I’m the one who killed your enemy!
Unfortunately, this carefully laid plan backfires. David is angry. Disappointed, even. He orders the man be put to death for striking down a king whom God had anointed.
This is David, the guy Saul hated, the guy Saul almost killed several times! How is he not at least the tiniest bit gleeful that Saul got what was coming to him?
And lest we think David was acting for the sake of optics, he takes it all a step further:
He mourns Saul. He sings about him and his impressive reign. David puts Saul to rest as if he was as beloved to him as Jonathan was.
“I will take away your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh.”
What could this be but the work of God? What kind of power could soften David’s heart except for supernatural power?
Because what was going on in David’s heart was unheard of. He had been deeply wronged by Saul, but he was so trusting of God and caught up in His love that everything that had happened, all the pain and loss and fear—it was as if it disappeared.
Because it had. God had taken it. And in its place, God had given David peace that passed all understanding. God was pointing David to the future.
I want that. I want that power, I want that peace, I want that calm in the face of evil. I want that trust, that faith that everything is in God’s hands.
Thankfully, God doesn’t gatekeep anything. All of that is freely given to us when we believe in God, accept Him, and choose to follow Him.
Transformation takes place. The old passes away. The new rushes in. Our hearts are softened from stone to flesh.
And the things of this earth, revenge and anger and all the like, grow strangely dim in the light of His glory and grace.
What do you think? What kinds of things are in your heart that you want God to soften, to remove?