"But David said to Abishai, “Do not destroy him; for who can stretch out his hand against the LORD’s anointed, and be guiltless?” 10 David said furthermore, “As the LORD lives, the LORD shall strike him, or his day shall come to die, or he shall go out to battle and perish. 11 The LORD forbid that I should stretch out my hand against the LORD’s anointed. But please, take now the spear and the jug of water that are by his head, and let us go.” " 1 Samuel 26:9-11
I was reading the accounts of David and Saul yesterday in 1 Samuel, and every time I read there, I kind of shake my head and wish that Saul would wake up and see that David is not trying to kill him. Even though David has been anointed as the next king, once Saul is gone, he is patient to wait until the right time for him to be king. David is patient, and is more than willing to wait until God's perfect time for him to be king. Twice in the span of a few chapters we see David get close enough to catch Saul completely off guard and kill him right then and there. And yet he doesn't. David could make a choice and alter future events, but instead, he chooses to let God decide when Saul's end has come. David waits on God's perfect timing. What a lesson right there!
In the verses I posted above, David is in position for the second time to kill Saul, and his assistant is encouraging him to do so. Instead, David makes the choice to stay his hand and leave Saul in God's hands. And that is where my thoughts are this morning. David respects Saul as king, and loves God so much, that he chooses to not lift a hand against Saul. This is a huge lesson for the church- for the body of Christ- because it seems like every other day I am hearing or reading or seeing negative words against various pastors, churches, ministers, evangelists, and on and on and on. Why? Because we're so quick to be judge and jury in every single situation.
Right now there is a huge worldly influence on people in general to judge others. There are dozens of TV shows in our country and across the globe in different countries, where we, the viewer at home, get to call in a vote at the end of the show and judge the contestants for various talents, deeds, or appearances. We're encouraged to judge, and then send someone home. That very judging we do in the evenings while we watch silly television shows carries right on over into our everyday life without our even knowing it. We look at the mom we pass with eight kids in tow- many of them crying- and we think in our mind that she should have stopped having a kids a few kids back. Or we see how that new family at church dresses each week, and we wonder when someone is going to tell them that our church is not a suit-and-tie type of church. Or in the cases I mention before, a pastor says something from the pulpit one Sunday, and one person may not agree or questions some of the things said. And before long, that person is spreading the word through the community that this pastor is listening to the devil and is spreading false doctrines and lies. It's sickening, really.
And then we go back to David. Who wouldn't lift a hand against his beloved king. Even though he knew that God had anointed him the next king, and even though this man who slept on the ground before him was trying to kill him, he stayed his hand and left him in the hands of God.
You know, there's obviously situations around the world where a pastor or leader is truly shepherding his flock down a wrong path, and I'm not speaking to those situations. In those situations, I trust that God will speak to the hearts of the elders of that community to do something, or that God himself will intervene. But what I'm talking about this morning are the slanders and lies that are spread because one person was uncomfortable and decided to pass judgement right then and there. Whether we're talking about a pastor, leader, or another family down the block. Sometimes it's those neighborhood situations that are worse. Neighborhood gossip can be as hurtful and damaging as being slayed by a sword.
We need to follow David's example and choose to not judge. We need to choose the path of mercy, and leave them in the hands of the Lord. And we need to ask God to open our eyes to those situations where we are passing judgement without even realizing it. Maybe you're at soccer practice, and you see a family arrive where the kids are poorly dressed and they have equipment missing. You look casually at moms harried face and lean over to your friend and casually suggest that mom get a new alarm clock and learn to dress her children appropriately. You wonder where the dad is, and the conversation steers to wondering if he was out late drinking and is too sick today to make it to the practice. You've judged this poor family right then and there, and the conversation you had with your friend was overheard, and before you know it the whole group is shunning this family because they think the dad is an alcoholic and mom is lazy. And maybe he beats his family too? See, just like that, judgement has taken place- a harmful judgement. If you saw the reality of the situation, you would see that this woman's sister had gone into premature labor overnight, and this woman was at the hospital all night long at her sisters side- only leaving when her husband showed up at the hospital in the morning, kids in tow, to relieve her so that she could take the kids to practice. Daddy dressed the children like dads will sometimes, haphazard and not really caring if the shorts and t-shirts matched. This woman is on the verge of tears, thinking of her sister in bed and that unborn niece or nephew in peril. What this woman needs is a friend and some prayer, and we're too busy passing judgement on their appearance to see that she needs some love and care.
Jesus himself tells us not to judge one another.
"Judge not, that you be not judged." Matthew 7:1
May God open our eyes in this year ahead. May He forgive us for the judgements of the past, and may He open our eyes to the truth of the situations around us. May He help us to eschew the ways of the world, and the judging one another that is so rampant today. And instead, may He fill us with love and compassion for one another.