I was reading 2nd Samuel 1 tonight as I was waiting around to call my mom at a time when she could actually talk. It wasn’t really one of those passages I would specifically pick out to read like I sometimes do. Actually, I don’t know if I have ever really READ that passage. Sure I’ve “read” it in my high school Bible classes, but it isn’t the same as actually READING it. Thinking deeply about it. Allowing God to speak to me through the words on the page.
If you have never read 2nd Samuel 1, it’s actually kind of sad. It’s the part in David’s story where he learns of the death of King Saul along with his son and David’s best friend, Jonathan. Not exactly something I enjoy reading about. The Israelites were once again fighting the Philistines. Apparently it wasn’t going so well for them because they begin to flee the battleground. Saul is badly wounded by Philistine archers and not wanting to be taken into enemy hands, he kills himself by falling on his own sword. Except he doesn’t die right away. A young man finds Saul on Mount Gilboa and after Saul personally asks the young man to finish him off, the man kills him. He then makes his way toward where David is camped. When the young man tells David of Saul and Jonathan’s death, he immediately begins to mourn them. Did you get that? He mourns Saul’s death. Of course he mourns Jonathan’s death too. He was his best friend so no duh he would be heartbroken about that. But did you get that? David literally mourns the death of Saul. After all Saul has done to David and as many times as he has tried to kill him, instead of being relieved that Saul would never again hunt for him with intentions to kill, he wept over his death. David loved Saul. No matter what Saul did to David, David still loved him. Several times he spared Saul’s life when he had the chance to take it. David understood what it meant to love his enemy. Although Saul had been a friend of David at one point, that changed when Saul knew David would take over as king. Yet despite everything, David never stopped loving Saul.
I would love to be able to say that I love my enemies the way David did Saul, but is that really true? If one of them died today, would I mourn his death or would I rejoice that he could no longer make my life miserable? I hope that if that ever happens to you or me, we will be able to truly admit the first. Do we really love our enemies the way God has commanded us to? It doesn’t matter who it is or just how bad they have treated you or I. We are called to one: forgive them for it and two: to love them despite it, even if they are repeat offenders.
This past year has been extremely hard for me to love my enemies. From having the worst roommates I could imagine and a brother who seems to literally hate me to dealing with youth ministers and fellow employees at the camp I worked at who constantly belittle me and are just plain mean it has been a constant struggle. I’ve had to remind myself daily of God’s commandment to love them. On several occasions I have needed to turn my cheek as well as practice self-control because of the way I have been treated. It has been hard to love them despite their actions toward me. I would have much rather just let them have it sometimes. But in my journey to become more like Christ, I have realized that loving my enemies even when it seems to be the one thing I want to do has literally made me more like Him. Of course it is a constant struggle, but it is getting easier to be able to forgive them and rejoice for them when something good happens to them as well as pray for them when things don’t go right for them. So my question is, are you loving your neighbor? If you are like me it is definitely not easy, but it is commanded that we do so. I challenge you to forgive the person in your life who has harmed you. I challenge you to pray for him often and more than anything else, love him because you never know what can come of it. Maybe your love is exactly what he needs to realize how he has been acting. Maybe your love is what will turn him around and cause him to look into Christianity. Who knows, the possibilities are endless. So forgive, even when it’s hard and love, even when you are not loved in return. Because through loving the unlovable, you are daily becoming more like your Savior. The one who loved you even when you despised Him.