2 Samuel 3:1, 36-37 The war between the house of Saul and the house of David lasted a long time. David grew stronger and stronger, while the house of Saul grew weaker and weaker. … … All the people took note [of David’s merciful, forgiving attitude and actions toward those who had opposed him] and were pleased; indeed, everything the king did pleased them. So on that day all the people and all Israel knew that the king had no part in the murder of Abner son of Ner.
Verse 1 is a good reminder for us of what it means to have steadfast PATIENCE and TRUST in the outworking of God’s providence in our lives.
David had been given a sure and certain promise that he would become King over all God’s people, Israel (1 Samuel 16:11-13), and that from him would come the true Anointed One (Hebrew, ‘Messiah’; Greek ‘Christ’) whose Kingdom would last FOREVER (Psalm 145:13).
David had had several God-given opportunities to take matters into his own hands and to speed up the process of fulfilling God’s promise by killing Saul. But instead he left it all in the LORD’s sovereign hands, always doing what was right, just and merciful and leaving the consequences to God. The early years of David’s reign were especially difficult for him. After Saul and Jonathan had died in battle, and the appropriate process of mourning had been fulfilled, the people of David’s own tribe, Judah, readily proclaimed him as their new King. But among the other tribes old scores had to be settled, outstanding ‘pay-backs’ had to be ‘honoured’, and even the matter of Saul’s promise of his daughter, Michal, to David remained to be fulfilled (13-16).
It would be another seven and a half years before David would be acknowledged as King over ALL Israel (2:11; 5:5). The complex political intrigue and vicious fratricide during this period is perhaps difficult for us to get our heads around, although events in the Middle East and Afghanistan give us a clearer picture of the reality of a culture of tribalism and revenge, and of the significant difference the message of Jesus has made to our thinking! It is in this regard that David stands out as the one who FORESHADOWED the promised TRUE King of Peace. In all his dealings with Saul and the various tribal leaders, David had always set a very clear example of the practical outworking of the principle God established with Moses: “It is mine to avenge; I will repay” (Deuteronomy 32:35), and that Paul reinforced with other similar Scriptural injunctions in Romans 12:9-21.
It is the example Jesus set throughout his own ministry and that finally took him to the cross. It is the example Peter impressed on the infant Church as it faced intense persecution (eg 1 Peter 2:20-25; 4:12-19). Our inbuilt godly desire for justice, combined with our inbuilt sinful desire for revenge on those who wrong us, make it very challenging for us to apply consistently this principle of loving our enemies and leaving revenge (the application of justice) entirely in the Lord’s hands. But, difficult as it is, it is not a challenge we have the option to decline.