Read: 1 Samuel 25-31
The book of 1 Samuel ends with the tragic death of Israel's first king. Tormented by jealousy, Saul seeks comfort from the Medium of En-Dor. Samuel, the prophet, has died; David's fame and popularity is on the rise; and his grief takes the form of desperation as he watches everything he has loved and built slip through his fingers. He grasps for connection, for hope - for anything that will make the ache within his heart go away.
And then...the Philistines attack.
"...And the Philistines overtook Saul and his sons, and the Philistines struck down Jonathan and Abinadab and Malchi-shua, the sons of Saul. The battle pressed hard against Saul, and the archers found him, and he was badly wounded by the archers. Then Saul said to his armor-bearer, “Draw your sword, and thrust me through with it, lest these uncircumcised come and thrust me through, and mistreat me.” But his armor-bearer would not, for he feared greatly. Therefore Saul took his own sword and fell upon it. And when his armor-bearer saw that Saul was dead, he also fell upon his sword and died with him. Thus Saul died, and his three sons, and his armor-bearer, and all his men, on the same day together..." - 1 Sam. 31: 1-6
"Thus Saul died..." I read these words and my heart broke. What a tragic end to a tragic life. I read them and I think, "No one would have faulted David for rejoicing at the news of Saul's death. For thirteen years, Saul had pursued David mercilessly with the intent to kill him. He was anything but kind. No one would have judged David for being at least a little thankful that Saul's jealous rage had closed out its final chapter. Most would have understood and some, very possibly, would have joined in his revelry!"
But David doesn't rejoice. David weeps. 2 Samuel 1:17 tells us that he takes up a "lament" for Saul and his sons. He tells the leaders of the land to teach it to the people and have them join in "lamenting" their fallen king. In the sorrowful song, David sings of Saul's honor. He speaks highly of him, complimenting his strength and might. Nothing within the song speaks of his obsession to "get even" with David, his torturous anger, or the heated chase that had happened for years between them. David does not bring up anything of the past that would harm Saul's reputation. He just...mourns his loss and honors his memory - becoming yet again, an example to us of undeserved forgiveness and undeserved grace.
"The LORD is compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, abounding in love. He will not always accuse, nor will he harbor his anger forever; he does not treat us as our sins deserve or repay us according to our iniquities. For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is his love for those who fear him; as far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us. - Ps. 103:9-12
In Matthew 10 verse 8, Jesus tells his disciples, "Freely you have received, freely give." The word "freely" in the original Greek means "undeservedly." Placed within this verse, it reads this way: "Undeservedly you have received, now undeservedly give." Even when they haven't done anything to earn it and even before they could do anything to deserve it - even then, freely give.
A few months ago, I found myself completely captured by the words of Jesus in the book of John: "Love one another as I have loved you." I started to ask myself hard questions like, "What would it really look like to live this verse out?" And this question led to harder ones.
"What does His love even look like?"
"How does He show me His love?"
"Do I do the same for others?"
"How can I live this out?"
What started as a simple question became a journal entry pages long - a list of ways God shows me He loves me every single day. And I was undone by the list. I had done nothing to deserve all the love he had bestowed (and still does!) upon me. I looked at the list and began to actively seek out ways I could love people like Christ had loved me, fully knowing that doing so meant that I couldn't pick and choose who deserved it. David felt Saul worthy of it - even after all he had done. And..."while we were yet sinners," Christ thought we were too. So, it wasn't my job to ask who deserved it. My job was to simply give it away. Undeservedly.
I'd love to say it was easy, but it wasn't. It still isn't, but I am determined to walk this out. And I know it starts with remembering - I don't deserve it either. My desire to be a David must begin with acknowledging that I have also been a Saul. I have "sinned and fallen short of the glory of God (Rom. 3:23)." And it is by GRACE - undeserved - that I have been saved! Freely I received! Now, Lord - help me to freely give!
Are there people in your life that you have deemed "unlovable" or "unforgiveable?"
Are there people in your life you feel are "undeserving" of grace and kindness? Why?
Are you gracious? Are you a good forgiver? If not, why not?
Do you tend to be someone who holds grudges? What are some steps you could take to grow in this area?
Make a list of ways that God has expressed His love towards you. Highlight ones that you feel the Lord challenge you to grow in. Ask Him to help you to love others the way He has loved you.