Love Your Enemies

David was a good king…

He was a real man with real weaknesses and real sinful tendencies. But, what makes a king a good king is fairness, justice, and, in this case, allegiance to YHWH. The man to rule over Israel would have to be a man whose heart is seeking for YHWH and whose life is exhibiting that pursuit. Since David was a good king, and since Israel had been ruled by Saul for so many years, there were people in the nation who did not follow him nor did they hide their animosity toward David. In his dire moments, David could be found in prayer. A series of prayers for David is contained in what are called “Imprecatory Psalms” as found in Psalms 7, 35, 58, 59, 69, 83, 109, 137 & 139 respectively. These Psalms were composed by David as a result of the effect of the enemies of David pursuing him in order to destroy him personally and as king of Israel. They are very informative to read and demand careful study.

 

However, contrary to popular opinion, the heart of David in these Psalms is not brash anger and a wish for personal vengeance. The heart of David is illustrated in Psalm 35:11-16:

 

11 Malicious witnesses rise up;

They ask me of things that I do not know.

12 They repay me evil for good,

To the bereavement of my soul.

13 But as for me, when they were sick, my clothing was sackcloth;

I humbled my soul with fasting,

And my prayer kept returning to my bosom.

14 I went about as though it were my friend or brother;

I bowed down mourning, as one who sorrows for a mother.

15 But at my stumbling they rejoiced and gathered themselves together;

The smiters whom I did not know gathered together against me,

They slandered me without ceasing.

16 Like godless jesters at a feast,

They gnashed at me with their teeth.

 

Do you see his motives and heart here? They wished for David’s destruction and rejoiced at his stumbling as if David were some stage-play actor. But this was no play. While David’s heart was filled with pain, sorrow, and extreme prayer, their hearts were filled with sneering, slander, and malice. Wbut notice David’s attitude in vv. 13-14:

 

“When they were sick, my clothing was sackcloth; I humbled my soul with fasting, and my prayer kept returning to my bosom. I went about as though it were my friend or brother; I bowed down mourning, as one who sorrows for a mother.”

 

While they were sneering and hoping for David’s anxiety to mount, he was looking upon them as friend, mother, and brother.  Why? How could David be like this in the face of such lying, slander, and deception? I don’t know the history behind this Psalm. However, I don’t need to in order to catch the point that the Holy Spirit is making through the life of this normal man. Once again, David is still leading his rag-tag nobodies through the countryside in pursuit of the kingdom. In this case, it is people like me who hope for the same eternal kingdom promised to David and his Son, Jesus Christ, but know we don’t deserve to enter in.

 

The answer to the reason why David could look upon his adversaries with such affection and love, even while pronouncing just vengeance from God upon them, is because he knows that ultimately these men, and himself as well, will be presented before a holy God who sees the heart and will judge righteously. Here is what David said in Psalm 7:

 

Psalm 7:3–5

3 O Lord my God, if I have done this,

If there is injustice in my hands,

4 If I have rewarded evil to my friend,

Or have plundered him who without cause was my adversary,

5 Let the enemy pursue my soul and overtake it;

And let him trample my life down to the ground

And lay my glory in the dust.

Selah.

 

In other words, David’s fear of God, who can cast both body and soul into hell (Matthew 10:28), was far greater than his fear of man. As such, then, if there is cause in His eyes for such actions against him, then God will be right in sending this group of adversaries against him and he will surrender. He deserves it. But if not, God will still judge righteously. Either way, the judgment is the Lord’s.

Listen to Luke’s record of the crucifixion of Jesus Christ:

Luke 23:33–37

33 When they came to the place called The Skull, there they crucified Him and the criminals, one on the right and the other on the left.

34 But Jesus was saying, “Father, forgive them; for they do not know what they are doing.” And they cast lots, dividing up His garments among themselves.

35 And the people stood by, looking on. And even the rulers were sneering at Him, saying, “He saved others; let Him save Himself if this is the Christ of God, His Chosen One.”

36 The soldiers also mocked Him, coming up to Him, offering Him sour wine,

37 and saying, “If You are the King of the Jews, save Yourself!”

 

In this you can see the same spirit as His father David. “Father, forgive them; for they do not know what they are doing.” As the sneers and mockery mounts, Jesus prayed for their redemption. Why? Because, by their actions it is evident that they needed it. No one can treat God in this manner and still claim a right relationship with Him. Jesus’ example strikes me as the same as David’s. Jesus had taught months earlier:

 

Matthew 12:30–32

30 “He who is not with Me is against Me; and he who does not gather with Me scatters.

31 “Therefore I say to you, any sin and blasphemy shall be forgiven people, but blasphemy against the Spirit shall not be forgiven.

32 “Whoever speaks a word against the Son of Man, it shall be forgiven him; but whoever speaks against the Holy Spirit, it shall not be forgiven him, either in this age or in the age to come.

 

The people gathered around Jesus, primarily Roman soldiers and onlookers, were being prayed for even though they blasphemed Him. Much like David’s pain at the illness of his enemies, Jesus also looked upon these blind persecutors with pity and love. The compassion here is beyond human ability. Although there are similar circumstances, Jesus’ travail and pain were infinitely greater since the Father Himself even dismissed Himself from His Son for a time:

 

Matthew 27:45–46

45 Now from the sixth hour darkness fell upon all the land until the ninth hour.

46 About the ninth hour Jesus cried out with a loud voice, saying, “Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani?”that is, “My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?”

 

Jesus taught a righteousness that exceeded the external righteousness of the religious leaders of Judaism of the day. While they were busy arranging their appearance to keep in line with the hypocritical religion they had constructed before the masses, Jesus was walking in a true righteousness that comes only from God, the righteousness of God Himself. That righteousness includes how to treat those who mistreat you, even maliciously.

Jesus taught:

Matthew 5:43–48

43 “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’

44 “But I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you,

45 so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven; for He causes His sun to rise on theevil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous.

46 “For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same?

47 “If you greet only your brothers, what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same?

48 “Therefore you are to be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.

 

To be perfect as God is to treat those who persecute you with love and prayer-nothing more. God did that. Jesus Christ loved His enemies and prayed for them, didn’t He? He held to His righteousness until the end. His perseverance and endurance with righteousness is most evident in the response of His lips and actions to those who crucified Him. Incredible.

As I close this little lesson, I want to say, I pray for those who have demonstrated a level of animosity towards my ministry. I love them and will continue to love them. I have prayed for them. I do not wish hardship on them, calamity, nor alienation from God. God is judge and He will judge righteously. May God be glorified.