NT Connect: Matthew 5:43-4
Weekly Reading: 1 Samuel 28-31; 2 Samuel 1
Love Your Enemies
This week we read about the final days of Saul’s life, which culminates with a passionate (and maybe a little surprising) lament written by David.
“Saul and Jonathan, beloved and pleasant in their life, and in their death they were not parted; They were swifter than eagles, they were stronger than lions. O daughters of Israel, weep over Saul, who clothed you luxuriously in scarlet, who put ornaments of gold on your apparel” (2 Samuel 1:23-24 NASB)
David describes Saul as beloved and pleasant, mighty and bestowing. This was the same Saul who had been relentlessly hunting David for years of his life. Not only did David forsake on numerous occasions the chance to kill Saul and take his rightful place on the throne, but now we see him honor Saul’s legacy with a prestigious lament intended to be passed down for generations to come. Would not the normal reaction be to rejoice over the death of an enemy?What motivated David to show Saul such reverence, even in his death? Perhaps, David knew that our attitudes and actions towards others hinge not on their own merit, but on God’s grace. David trusted that God was in control and that he could show respect, regardless of the circumstances.
Jesus teaches in Matthew 5:43-48 that we are to love our enemies and pray for those who persecute us in order to reflect our heavenly Father who “causes His sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous.” (Matthew 5:45 NASB) If God himself shows kindness to those who are his enemies, who am I to withhold kindness from any fellow image-bearer? Who am I to decide who deserves His love and who doesn’t? After all, we ourselves were once enemies of God, and yet he lovingly reconciled us to himself through the death of his Son Jesus Christ. (Romans 5:10)
David had every “right,” by the world’s standards, to avenge himself and to slander Saul’s name in his death. Yet David laid down his rights and humbled himself, in order that he might show honor to the Lord’s anointed king of Israel. We, too, can show honor to those who are our enemies by laying down our “right to be right” and allowing the love of God to compel us (2 Corinthians 5:14) towards self-control of our words, actions, and attitudes.