Forgiving those who have offended you
By Brenda Thomas
There is much to be said on the subject of forgiveness but I would like to take a moment and share with you something that I believe the Lord has taught me recently.
I have been reading about the life of King David. He was the second king of Israel and God called him a man after his own heart. This has always intrigued me because what does it mean to have a heart that sought the same things that God does? How does that translate to us today in our daily lives?
I feel I need to give you a bit of back history on King David, he was a shepherd boy when God had Samuel the priest anoint him as king over Israel. It was not until many years later that he finally stepped into the full role as King of Israel.
When he was anointed King over Israel, there was another king that was ruling at the time and his name was Saul. He had sinned and displeased God, but God had not taken him off of the throne immediately, as there were things that needed to play out before King Saul would eventually die and no longer rule.
One of the important things that happened during this time of David being anointed as the new king and Saul still being king was that God was training David's heart. He was refining his character and establishing him as a man who would truly have a heart that was soft and surrendered to God.
How you may wonder, "Was God doing this?" Well King Saul hated David and became very jealous of him, because he knew that God no longer supported his reign as the king of Israel. This jealousy in Saul drove him to hunt down David in order to kill him. David did not understand what was going on or even why he had gone from a boy playing the harp in King Saul's house to becoming a hunted man.
Sometimes we can feel like someone who is hunted by someone who offends us, either deliberately or unintentionally. We can feel bewildered that they would even treat us in such a manner and their betrayal and the offense that can linger is often toxic to us, unless we know how to deal with it.
During this time David wrote many of the Psalms that we have the privilege of reading today. In them he pours out his heart to God expressing his confusion, anger, angst and sometimes even hopelessness at being a hunted man. He no longer had a stable home, regular food, predictability, and security. Instead he now had six hundred men who were low life's, guns for hire and the disenfranchised who were his companions on the run from King Saul.
David had the chance to kill King Saul twice but he refused to lay a hand on God's anointed King, even though he was also anointed to be king and Saul no longer had the blessing of the Lord upon him.
David knew that it was not acceptable to harm the king in any way. Even when he heard of the king's death he wept and mourned for him and had the man killed who had brought him the news.
Now in our flesh, our natural man, we might be thinking, "Hold on a moment, this guy was hunting him down, trying to kill him at every turn." King Saul even gave David's wife away to another man to spite him. We would think that David had every right to be angry, upset, offended and even hold a grudge against Saul for all that he did to him while he was alive.
What happened though was actually the opposite. God had placed His Holy Spirit within David which enabled him to act in a way that would be contrary to what our natural instincts would want to do.
I would like you to read the following passage of scripture that gives us some insight into what true forgiveness looks like in the life a believer that has been filled with the Spirit of the Holy God.
2 Samuel 9:1-13
David asked, "Is there anyone still left of the house of Saul to whom I can show kindness for Jonathan's sake?" Now there was a servant of Saul's household named Ziba. They summoned him to appear before David, and the king said to him, "Are you Ziba?" "At your service," he replied. The king asked, "Is there no one still alive from the house of Saul to whom I can show God's kindness?" Ziba answered the king, "There is still a son of Jonathan; he is lame in both feet."
Where is he?" the king asked. Ziba answered, "He is at the house of Makir son of Ammiel in Lo Debar." So King David had him brought from Lo Debar, from the house of Makir son of Ammiel. When Mephibosheth son of Jonathan, the son of Saul, came to David, he bowed down to pay him honor. David said, "Mephibosheth!" "At your service," he replied. "Don't be afraid," David said to him, "for I will surely show you kindness for the sake of your father Jonathan. I will restore to you all the land that belonged to your grandfather Saul, and you will always eat at my table." Mephibosheth bowed down and said, "What is your servant, that you should notice a dead dog like me?" Then the king summoned Ziba, Saul's steward, and said to him, "I have given your master's grandson everything that belonged to Saul and his family. You and your sons and your servants are to farm the land for him and bring in the crops, so that your master's grandson may be provided for. And Mephibosheth, grandson of your master, will always eat at my table." (Now Ziba had fifteen sons and twenty servants.) Then Ziba said to the king, "Your servant will do whatever my lord the king commands his servant to do." So Mephibosheth ate at David's table like one of the king's sons. Mephibosheth had a young son named Mika, and all the members of Ziba's household were servants of Mephibosheth. And Mephibosheth lived in Jerusalem, because he always ate at the king's table; he was lame in both feet.
As you can see by this passage of scripture, David did not go and retaliate against Saul and his family once he had become king. Instead David looked for a way to show love and kindness to Saul's family.
Jonathan, Saul's son, and David were like brothers, therefore he looked for someone in their family to extend that kindness to, and when he found out that Jonathan's son was still alive, not only did he give him all of Saul's land back, but insisted that he live in Jerusalem and eat at his table daily.
This is a sign of true forgiveness, not allowing the offense against him to rule him. King David extended love, mercy, generosity and kindness to the family of Saul. Jonathan's son had no way to pay back the kindness that was extended to him, he could not even walk and that is the beauty of forgiveness... that the mercy extended is way bigger than what could ever be paid back.
Now I don't know about you, but as I read this I thought to myself of my own paltry attempts at extending what I thought was forgiveness to another person. I had to admit that it fell far short of King David's example to us and even the example that God gives us through Jesus Christ.
I have at times, rehearsed over and over again the offense as it had played out against me. I would even think of ways that I could have said or done something to put in a little jab into the other person. The reality however is that God is a God of forgiveness and love and tells us that if we will not forgive others he will not forgive us.
God offers us forgiveness for our sins and attaches no strings to it. Yes he does desire that we learn to walk in relationship with him and we obey what he has set out for us, but we do that because we are thankful and grateful for the love and forgiveness that he has extended to us.
Remember this, God never carries the offense of our sin in his heart but instead extends love, mercy, forgiveness, love, His own Spirit and His love to us. Just like David did in the above passage of scripture.
I don't know about you, but I realized that I needed to go back to God and ask him to forgive me for my poor attempts at forgiveness and ask him to help me to truly lovingly, extend forgiveness and mercy to the people around me that offend me.
I know that I will not always get it right, but now that I am aware of this great example, I can pray and ask the Lord for his strength to do the same when the need arises.