Focal Passage: 1 Samuel
Fortunately for me, my
parents used very clean language.
I would have known
As a child I listened
intently to their speech, believing that if they ever slipped up and “cursed,”
then I would have license to do the same.
The logic is questionable to
be sure, but then again, my adolescent brain was often more concerned with what
I could get away with rather than what would edify my character.
In any event, I gauged a lot
(but not all) of my behavior on the basis of what my mother and father
When we read of David’s
fight with the Amalekites in 1 Samuel, our knee-jerk reaction may be to deem
his battle a justifiable “rescue mission,” and then keep reading.
Yet we should not gloss over
the fact that David’s life story includes a lot more fighting!
Furthermore, we should not
assume that because David fought his enemies, we automatically have license to
fight those who wrong us.
Consider last month’s
reading from Ecclesiastes 3.
Just because there is a
“time to kill” (v. 3) and a “time for war” (v. 8) does not mean the author is
These “times” are
descriptive, not prescriptive; they remind us how the world is, not necessarily
how the world should be.
David did fight on numerous
occasions, but we must be careful not to use his actions as blind justification
for the battles we long to wage.
If you read the entire
chapter of 1 Samuel 30 you’ll notice that before David sought out the Amalekite
marauders, he sought out God.
David first asked if he
should pursue the raiders, and secondly if his pursuit would be successful. God
gives him the go-ahead on both counts (v. 8).
Instead of side-stepping God
and charging into the Amalekite camp “swords a blazing,” David seeks the Lord’s
Here his actions give us
more pause than permission.
How do we discern when it is
acceptable to fight?
Is fighting acceptable when
we are on a “rescue mission” like David, or when we are provoked, or when we
have simply exhausted every other option?
Or does the way of Christ
demand that we suffer violence and gross injustice by “turning the other
These are difficult
questions, and the Bible doesn’t provide easy answers. Perhaps it is here that we should
take our cue from David.
Are we, like
David, willing to take time and ask God’s permission before retaliating
against our enemies?
If so, I suspect we’ll be
surprised how few times God gives us a “yes.”