Perhaps you have asked this question at some point. Most likely you have. Well, this question was asked a couple times last week, and as I thought about it more, I had to come back to it this week. Forgiveness is tough. No matter how you slice or dice it, it is not easy. To answer the question though I had to come back to Matthew 18 where Peter asks our Savior, "Lord, who many times could my brother sin against me and I forgive him? As many as seven times?" Peters question sounded very familiar when I re-read it. The problem I find in both of the questions is that they both focus on a limit of forgiveness. Aren't we glad that Jesus didn't put a limit on what He did on the cross? What a sobering thought! The parable that follows Peters questions goes to explain how great a debt that humanity owed that was paid by Jesus Christ, and how silly it is for us to not forgive such small infractions against us. After teaching last week and preparing for the weeks ahead I am starting to see how big of a role forgiveness should play in all of our relationships.
After bringing the topic of forgiveness back to the surface we went through a great story found in 1 Samuel 18-20. In this story, although the word "friend" is never used, we see a very deep friendship between Jonathan and David. There is so much in these three chapters but I wanted to tell the whole story for just one reason, that being chapter 24. Before I get to chapter 24, here is the brief overview I gave of the three chapters.
- Jonathan and Davids friendship is shown by Jonathan giving David his military tunic, sword, bow, and his belt.
- David is victorious in battle, so much that when he returns woman from Israel sing a song going like this "And the women answered [one another] as they played, and said, Saul hath slain his thousands, and David his ten thousands."
- King Saul grows very bitter towards David and attempts to murder him by thawing his spear. (attempt #1) Yes, you have to keep tract of the murder attempts.
- David marries King Saul's Daughter Michal.
- King Saul decrees that David should be killed. (attempt #2)
- Jonathan goes before his father King Saul on behalf of David.
- King Saul says he will not lift his hand against David.
- King Saul again throws his spear at David. (attempt #3)
- David flees from his home and wife to save his life.
- David returns to his friend Jonathan to see if Saul is still angry and murderous.
- Jonathan comes up with a plan to tell David whether he needs to flee again or if it safe for David to stay.
- King Saul still holds bitterness in his life towards David, and Jonathan tells David the news.
- David leaves behind his wife, job, friends, and home to save his life. And is on the run till we see an end to the story in chapter 24.
In the chapters following the story here, we see David on the run and many more attempts to murder him from King Saul. Chapter 24 starts out with what seems to be a break in the action. Saul has to use the bathroom and so he goes into a cave to relieve himself. The catch is that David and his men are in the back of that cave. Davids men try to convince him that this is the time that he should kill Saul, but instead David cuts a piece of Saul's robe off and goes back to the back of the cave. After Saul is done and leaves the cave, David goes out of the cave and calls out to Saul. What happens next is the answer to the question raised by our grow last week, and Peter in Matthew 28. David walks out of the cave and calls to Saul and proceeds to show him the opportunity he had to kill him yet he spared his life. David doesn't say that Saul was warranted in him actions towards him, but says that God will have the vengeance on him, Saul listens and weeps in sorrow. He tells David of how righteous he is for denying the opportunity to kill Saul.
Now this seems like a crazy story, but it shows how intense forgiveness should be. Saul had tried to kill David many times and David had to leave everything behind so that he could live, and David has the chance to kill Saul, he says no. Whatever your friends have done against you, Im sure it has not reached this magnitude. Think about the great hatred David could have had towards Saul, but yet he forgave him and gave the whole situation to God. What an amazing story of forgiveness! After reading Matthew 28 and then this story, I was so convicted of how much i have lacked a forgiving spirit, and how much I personally need to grow in this area. There is no better way to live than how Jesus, and we see his example in Colossians 3:12.
" Therefore, as [the] elect of God, holy and beloved, put on tender mercies, kindness, humility, meekness, longsuffering;bearing with one another, and forgiving one another, if anyone has a complaint against another; even as Christ forgave you, so you also [must do]."