It has been said that people would pay more to save the body than to save the soul, but they would pay more to get even than for anything else. This is especially so when the cost of litigation is greater than any possible return, in which case vengeance becomes the obvious motive. Our Lord Himself hates sin (Heb 1:9), but He loves the soul of the sinner (Jud 22-23) and He does not allow Christians the sensual joy of vengeance (Rom 12:19). Not only are we not to take vengeance, we are not to even hate a brother (Mat 5:22). In this article, we shall discuss the contrasting examples of Saul and David and consider how hatred led to the downfall of Saul, and how David prevented hatred from consuming him.
The condition of hatred
One who hates is a child of the devil (1Jo 3:10), because he does the desires of the devil (Joh 8:44). He is in darkness (1Jo 2:9-11), seeing that his lack of brotherly kindness causes him to suffer from spiritual myopia and amnesia (2Pe 1:7-9). Saul did the desires of the devil when he disobeyed God in offering a burnt offering instead of waiting for Samuel (1Sa 13:11-13), and sparing Agag and the best of the things instead of destroying them utterly (1Sa 15:20-23). Do we also want to become a pawn of the devil because of hatred?
One who hates is a murderer (1Jo 3:15), because murder proceeds out of the heart (Mat 15:19). He will not have eternal life (1Jo 3:15), seeing that his hatred will hinder him from inheriting the kingdom of God (Gal 5:20-21). Saul tried to pursue and murder David on numerous occasions (1Sa 18:11,25; 19:1,10,11; 20:31; 23:8.25; 26:3). Do we also seek to destroy a person because of hatred?
One who hates is a liar (1Jo 4:20), because one who knows God will keep His commandment to love one another (1Jo 2:4 c.f. 1Jo 4:8). He will be punished in hell (Rev 21:8), seeing that he will not receive forgiveness from God for his unforgiving attitude (Mar 11:25-26) Saul lied to David when he promised to enrich David with great riches, give David his daughter in marriage, and to exempt David’s house from taxes in Israel (1Sa 17:25), but instead he turned David into a fugitive (1Sa 24:14; 26:20), gave Merab to Adriel (1Sa 18:19) and Michal to Palti (1Sa 25:44), and forced David’s parents into exile in Moab (1Sa 22:4). Do we also lie about our love for God because of hatred?
The conquest of hatred
Firstly, we need to first guard our heart against hatred, because out of it spring the issues of life (Pro 4:23). David was a man after God’s own heard (Act 13:22), having a heart of mercy and compassion like God (Mic 7:18-19). Do we also guard our hearts against bitterness, wrath, anger, clamour, evil speaking, and malice (Eph 4:31-32)?
Secondly, we need to meditate on the good of others, so that the God of peace will be with us (Php 4:8-9). David saw Saul as his master and the Lord’s anointed (1Sa 24:6), his lord the king (1Sa 24:8), and his father (1Sa 24:11). Do we also see our brethren as God’s elect (Rom 8:33)?
Thirdly, we need to resolve conflicts quickly and do all that is in our power to live peaceably with all men, because vengeance belongs to God (Rom 12:19). David extended an olive branch to Saul, causing him to be ashamed and winning his respect (1Sa 24:16-20; 26:21-25). Do we also proactively resolve conflicts with our brethren (Mat 5:23-26; 18:15-17)?
Fourthly, we need to love, bless, do good, and pray for our enemies, so that we will be perfect just as our Father is perfect (Mat 5:44,48). 2. David fasted, prayed, and mourned for his enemies when they were sick (Psa 35:13-14). Do we also rejoice and weep with brethren even if they do not get along with us (Rom 12:15)?
Hatred causes one not just to hurt himself, but also those around him. It caused Saul to attempt to kill the 3 most important men in his life – his son-in-law David (1Sa 19:11), his mentor Samuel (1Sa 16:2), even his son Jonathan (1Sa 20:33). How has our hatred affected ourselves and our loved ones? Is getting even so important to us regardless of the hurt caused to God, the church, even our families? Brethren, all that we do for God is negated if we do not have love (1Co 13:1-3). Let us not allow bitterness to take root in us and hinder us from entering heaven (Heb 12:15).