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The Lord as the Defender of the Cause of the Righteous

October 7, 2009

Daily Bible reading: 1 Samuel 21 – 31, and Psalms 7, 27, 31, 34, 52, 56, 120, 140-142, 17, 35, 54, 63

I love the Old Testament!  It is so honest.  It is so clear to me that I am reading truth because there is no one who would record some of these things about themselves and their own people unless it were true.  I find the honesty and bluntness so refreshing.  I find comfort in seeing and understanding that even great men of God stumble and fall badly.

Today I am reminded that even one of the greatest men in the Bible, David, the “man after God’s own heart”, was just that . . . a man.  He wasn’t perfect and he needed to grow, mature, and become more sanctified everyday, just like I do.

In the passage from 1 Samuel that I read today I was amazed by the humility and trust in the Lord that David displayed.  I was also surprised to see that even David waffled in his faith and trust in God to deliver him and defend him.

Saul has been driven mad by jealousy (and an evil spirit) and is hunting David down to kill him.  David has been completely faithful to Saul and never wronged him.  The prophet Samuel (now dead) had prophesied to both Saul and David that God had taken the kingdom away from Saul and given it to David.  And yet David does not try to harm Saul when he gets the chance.  Twice God delivered Saul into David’s hands.  Twice David had mercy and refused to harm him saying:

“The LORD forbid that I should do such a thing to my master, the LORD’s anointed, or lift my hand against him; for he is the anointed of the LORD.” ~ 1 Sam 24:6

In my opinion (and that of David’s men) he was perfectly within his rights to kill Saul.  David had been anointed by God to be king and Saul was trying to kill him.  And yet, David trusted that God would defend his cause.  He knew that when the time came God would judge Saul and hand the kingdom over to him.  He trusted the Lord to uphold his cause because he was righteous.

“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.  As the old saying goes, ‘From evildoers come evil deeds,’ so my hand will not touch you.” ~ 1 Sam 24:12-13

And again the second time . . .

“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

What faith.  What trust.  And God did just that, he judged Saul by the hands of the Philistines and caused Saul to take his own life.  He protected David from the guilt of seeking revenge or for taking the life of God’s anointed.  David expresses this theme throughout his psalms.   One example is Psalms 63:

“Because you are my help, I sing in the shadow of your wings.  My soul clings to you; your right hand upholds me.  They who seek my life will be destroyed; they will go down to the depths of the earth. They will be given over to the sword and become food for jackals.  But the king will rejoice in God; all who swear by God’s name will praise him, while the mouths of liars will be silenced.”  ~ Psalm 63:7-11

But even though David knew and believed this, he still occasionally struggled to believe it in practice.  In fact, immediately after he uttered those words to Saul and left him the second time, the Bible records that he had doubt:

“But David thought to himself, “One of these days I will be destroyed by the hand of Saul. The best thing I can do is to escape to the land of the Philistines. Then Saul will give up searching for me anywhere in Israel, and I will slip out of his hand.” ~ 1 Sam 27:1

He did what he planned and went to live in the land of the Philistines.  This was not what God had planned and judgment fell on him and his men because of this.  In chapter 30 while David is away from the town they were living in, the Amalekites raided the town and captured all the women and children, including David’s two wives.  The Bible doesn’t record what was done to the captives, but I can only imagine that the women weren’t treated well.  This was a tough punishment that would not have occurred if David had not fled to the land of the Philistines.  However, God had mercy on David and allowed him to overtake the Amalekites and rescue those who were captured.

Another place in this passage of the bible that we see David falter in his reliance on God to defend his cause is in 1 Sam 25.  David sends his men to the evil man named Nabel and requests that he refresh his men.  David expected that Nabel would be grateful to him for protecting his sheep and shepherds while they freely graised in the land David was in control of.  David had been good to Nabel and his people.  However Nabel responded harshly and refused any assistance.  This greatly angered David, and he set out in route to kill Nabel and all the men of his family.

In his anger, David forgot that it is God who upholds his cause.  He does not need to defend his honor or take vengeance on those who mistreat him.  Fortunately for David, God protected him from sinning by shedding Nabel’s blood.  He moved the heart of Nabel’s wife (Abigail) to bring gifts and ask forgiveness for how her husband had treated David.  Instead, God carried out his vengeance on Nabel himself.  Ten days later God struck him dead.  The Lord says:

“Vengeance is mine; I will repay.” And again,  “The Lord will judge his people.” ~ Heb 10:30

How often do we fail to trust that God is our defender?  I know that I am so guilty of this.  I am so quick to plead my case and defend myself to others when I am falsely accused of something.  This is human nature.  When I feel my rights have been violated or I have been dealt with unfairly, my first response is to lash back and rally others to my defense.  This is not the biblical pattern that we are to emulate.

“But I say to you who hear, Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who abuse you.” ~ Luke 6:27-28

“To this you were called, because Christ suffered for you, leaving you an example, that you should follow in his steps.  “He committed no sin, and no deceit was found in his mouth.” When they hurled their insults at him, he did not retaliate; when he suffered, he made no threats. Instead, he entrusted himself to him who judges justly.” ~ 1 Pet 2:21-23

“The very fact that you have lawsuits among you means you have been completely defeated already. Why not rather be wronged? Why not rather be cheated?” 1 Cor 6:7

A.W. Tozer said:

“If you insist upon defending yourself, God will let you do it. But if you turn the defense of yourself over to God, He will defend you. He told Moses once in Exodus 23, “I will be an enemy unto thine enemies, an adversary to thine adversaries.”  A long time ago the Lord and I,” says Tozer, “went through the 23rd chapter of Exodus together. He gave it to me. For thirty years now it has been a source of untold blessing to my life. I don’t have to fight. The Lord does the fighting for me, and He’ll do the same for you. He will be an enemy to your enemy and an adversary to your adversary. And you’ll never need to defend yourself.”

Wow!  That is so profound.  I never have to defend myself?  Elisabeth Elliot (wife of martyred missionary Jim Elliot) said:

“Now what do we defend? Well, we defend our talents, we defend our service, and particularly we defend our reputation. Your reputation is what people think you are. If a story gets out about you, the big temptation is to try to run it down. But you know running down the source of a story is hopeless task–absolutely hopeless. It’s like trying to find the bird after you’ve found the feather on your lawn . . . You can’t do it!

If you’ll turn yourself wholly over to God, He will defend you completely and see to it that no one will harm you. “No weapon that is formed against you shall prosper,” He says, “and every tongue that shall rise against you in judgment thou shalt condemn.”

I want to clarify that I am not advocating passifism or saying it is wrong to defend yourself if you are physically attacked by someone.  By no means.  I have been trained in martial-arts and I served in the military.  So did David.  He killed Goliath and countless Philistines.  There was even a song in the bible about how he killed tens of thousands. Is it an exaggeration, perhaps, but obviously he had no qualms about fighting when necessary.   If you are attacked I believe you have the right and responsibility to defend yourself from your attacker.  If you are a husband and father I believe you have the responsibility of protecting and defending your family.  God has entrusted them to you.  In fact it was God who affirmed that David should peruse the Amalekites, kill them, and rescue his family.  However, it is God who ultimately protects and supports us.

What I am talking about is defending our name, reputation, rights, title, position, status, and cause.  For most of us these are the real issues we are confronted with on a daily basis.  We do not defend these things.  God does as we obediently follow Him.

If you are being mistreated by others, perhaps God is allowing it for a time to teach you something or to help you die to your reputation.  If you are being discriminated against, persecuted, slandered, made fun of, ridiculed, or harassed you need to remember that everything that happens to you as a follower of Jesus Christ is filtered by God.  God is allowing it in order to accomplish His purpose.  And, remember that His purpose is always good for you, all the time!

“And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them.” ~ Rom 8:28

What freedom there is in this reality!  God, please continue to teach me what You want me to learn about how You defend the cause of the righteous.  May I learn to rest in you and take everything to you in prayer.  May I learn to endure suffering, accusations, and hardship like a good soldier, trusting you to only allow what will bring good and defend me from those who wish me ill.

2 Comments leave one →
  1. October 7, 2009 11:16 am

    Well said ““But I say to you who hear, Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who abuse you.” ~ Luke 6:27-28” Nice blog

  2. Joyce McWhirter permalink
    December 20, 2009 6:24 pm

    Love it! Very well written and biblically sound. I remember my encounters in the Nancy episode of my life. God does defend us when we trust in him. PTL!

    Proud of you, Son.

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