“My master will not have on his conscience the staggering burden of needless bloodshed or of having avenged himself.
(1Sam 25:31 NIV)
In this whole section of David on the run, there are continual references to vengeance and bloodshed, like they are the same. It makes me think about Jesus and the things He said about taking revenge and loving our enemies, and I see that He wasn’t coming up with some new idea. Add into that stuff from Divine Conspiracy about correcting people and man, you take away a lot of work that a lot of people like to do. Leave vengeance and correction up to God? I think some people wouldn’t even know what to do with their lives if they let go of the need to avenge and correct others!
Especially in many cultures of the world where Christ-Apprenticeship is absent, vengeance rules the day. I had a friend say to me one day, “The way we do things, is if someone does something to you, you do something worse to them or they will do it again.” I asked him where it stopped. Won’t they just do something back to you again that is worse? He said that when you do something back, you do it so they won’t do anything back to you.
The final outcome was that we drove together back to his house, and he yelled at the guy in public for striking his son. I guess that public rebuke was enough because everything was over after that. I say everything was over, not settled, because peace wasn’t made between my friend and his neighbor that struck his son, and I’m not sure anyone learned what God’s best way of handling the situation was.
My friend had upon himself the “Staggering burden of having avenged himself.” I wonder if we left his house that day wondering if his kids were safe from the abusive neighbor. I wonder if he had peace that the problems were solved. I know sometimes my wife and I talk and I can’t explain myself at all. I feel like I’m the worst communicator in the world (prospective employers, please skip that last line) but then the next day she’ll have a quiet time and come back and tell me all the stuff I was trying to say, and she has some deep and wonderful revelation about it all.
Maybe that’s the best thing about God’s vengeance vs. Man’s vengeance. Man’s vengeance hurts and inflicts, God’s vengeance heals and delivers.