Do not say, “I will repay evil”; Wait for the Lord, and He will save you. Proverbs 20:22
Revenge is something that is very dangerous. We are told by today's proverb not to say that we ourselves will repay the evil done to us. Instead we are to wait for the Lord to be the One who saves us. There are two interesting examples of this - and Solomon was well aware of both of them. These two examples were Saul and David. They were the opposite ends of this issue of taking our own vengeance and repaying the evil done to us. They are also the difference between blessing and destruction.
Saul started out his career being wise in this way. When he became king some scoffed at him - and did not bring him any kind of present - on a day when presents were in order. Shortly after this God allowed a situation where Saul proved his worth - and showed that he indeed was fit and called to be king. When some wanted to bring vengeance on these men who rebuffed Solomon, his response was wise. He said that no one was going to be put to death, because God was gracious and had been good to His people. Thus Solomon allowed the Lord to defend him. But later in life Saul no longer followed the Lord - and began to be rebellious to God's purposes. When he faced a supposed wrong by the priests of the Lord - he reacted violently. Even though the priests acted without any knowledge of any kind of rebellion, Saul had the entire city, men, women, and children put to death. Thus was his reign marred by a continual desire to repay any suspected slight or evil done to him.
David was much different. He was wronged repeatedly by Saul and by those who followed him. Yet twice David rejected the opportunity to kill Saul - even when God put the opporutnity to do so. He saw Saul as God's annointed and therefore a man to be honored. His statement to the men with him who desired to put Saul to death was that God would be the One to bring Saul down - but David would not take his own vengeance and repay the evils done to him. David was blessed greatly because of this -a nd God greatly prospered his kingdom. God also blessed David with deliverance after deliverance.
Saul . . . he experienced something much diffferent than David. Saul went crazy - he was mad - he lost his mind. This is what happens to us when we think we have to defend ourselves against every slight and every evil done to us. This is a responsibility and a weight on our minds that we cannot carry. Soon the world itself is against us - and everyone and everything is suspect. This will make you lose your mind - just like Saul did. The way to peace is through forgiveness.
When we choose to forgive the evils done to us we are blessed. We are adopting the mind and heart of God, Who chose to forgive even though it cost His Son His life to do so. Our minds, when we forgive, are loosed from the constant torture of remembering the wrongs done to us. They are set free from bitterness which will consume our sanity like a dry forest is consumed by a fire driven by dry winds. We are free to give all our slights to God and allow Him Who sits on the throne to determine how to measure out justice and righteousness. Since there is only one ultimate throne in this universe - with only One Who sits upon it - truly, only He can mete out perfect justice. We are liberated from decisions taht are beyond our ability to make.
As long as we live in a fallen world there are going to be slights, problems, evils, and injustices that come our way. The wisdom that God offers to us today recognizes these things and gives us a way to deal with them without losing our minds. In the process we are protected from the deeper damage these things can do to us - and we are given the glorious priviledge of forgiving others - which is when we reflect both His character and His glory most.
“Blessed is the man who listens to me, Watching daily at my gates, Waiting at my doorposts.” Proverbs 8:34
Wisdom had regaled us with tales of creation and what it was like to watch and be a participant in the very creation of all that God has made. We have seen from Wisdom's statements and from an examination of the world around us, that we can trust Wisdom and what God says to us through His Word. Now we hear Wisdom calling us to be a listener - to be one who watches and waits for what God has to say to us. Just as God has been true about His creation of this world - so He is now calling us to listen to what He has to say to us about life itself - and how to live it.
Blessed is the man who listens to me. This is God's promise of happiness for those who listen - who heed what He has do say. The word for blessed means one who is happy. The happiness experienced is not a transitory happiness based on getting our own way and living for what we want to live for day to day. It is a happiness at a much deeper level - more than happiness. This is about a deep-seated joy that comes from knowing and walking with God. It comes from knowing Him - and knowing His blessing in our lives. But this blessing is conditional - it is for those who listen to Him. We need to open our ears and more than that, our hearts, to what God desires for us. There needs to be more than basic hearing. Let me explain with a less than gracious example from my own experience.
I am a guy - which usually means there are times I have "listening" issues. My wife is very gracious in spite of my listening disorder. There are times when she is talking to me (come to think of it - I also have four daughters who struggle with this "lack" of mine as well) that she will pause and ask me if I am listening to her. My response is to repeat the last sentence she has just said. This is not amusing to her at all. She did not ask if I heard words that she was saying to me - she wanted to know if I actually listened to her. This, my dear fellow males, means was I listening for the purpose of furthering our relationship. Was I listening so as to hear more than just words - was I hearing her heart. If I had honestly answered that question I would have had to say no. I was not listening - I heard some stuff - but I was not really hearing with understanding. I was not hearing to have a relationship. To put it in a way that maybe we can understand - I was not truly "getting her." That would have required listening. It would have required zeroing in on what she was saying with an intent to know what she said, why she said it, and respond in an intelligent and caring way that expressed that I loved her . . . more than the football game that I was currently watching. (Wow - that was far more cathartic than I thought.)
God wants us to LISTEN to Him. He wants us to do two things each day. First He wants us to be "watching at His gates." The "gate" was the place where important decisions were made. This was serious stuff - because it was at the gate that the wisest and most influential men gathered. God wants us to listen and watch for the really important stuff in life. We need to watch for Him - because He will give us guidance on the major decisions and major life choices that we face each day. But he also calls for us to be "waiting at His doorposts." What a wonderful picture that this is. The doorposts referred to the opening of the house. This speaks of two things. First it speaks of intimacy - of a relationship where we can talk about everything in life. God tells fathers to talk to their children in this way. He wants us to speak to our kids when we get up and go to sleep each day. He wants us to talk to them about Him when we go out and come in. He also wants us to write on our very doorposts the Word of God - so that is what we see when we go out and come in. This is every day life - and the wonderful blessing of having a friend with whom we can talk when we are going through our day.
The second thing this points to is redemption. We wait for God at the doorposts of our house. This was the place where every year the Jewish family would put blood for the Passover. This blood was left on the doorposts overnight. Over time the obedient Jewish family would wind up with permanent blood stains on their door frame. But oh what a wonderful picture this is of how we wait for God. Wisdom reminds us that we are God's people. We are bought with a price - and we are redeemed. When we wait for Him here - we experience intimacy - but we also are reminded that we are intimate because we are redeemed.
Wisdom calls us to walk with and know God. This is done in every area of our lives. It is in the big stuff - and in the little stuff. It is in the huge decisions that will direct our lives - but it is also in the little decisions that set the daily course of where we will walk today. The thing wisdom asks of us is that we listen. That does not mean being able to quote Bible verses by rote - but not really know what they mean. Listening means coming before God and hearing Him with a bent to know His heart. When we do that - we will see that this is the true way to a deep abiding happiness that will last throughout a lifetime.