Vengeance versus Blessing
2 Samuel 3:1–4:12; 1 Peter 3:8–22; Psalm 135:1–21
Comparing the passages of 2 Sam 3:1–4:12 and 1 Pet 3:8–22 teaches us that all Scripture can be used for instruction: Some passages provide wisdom on how to become more like Christ, while others are best regarded as “things not to do.”
Peter’s first letter tells us, “be harmonious, sympathetic, showing mutual affection, compassionate, humble, not repaying evil for evil or insult for insult, but [instead] blessing others, because for this reason you were called, so that you could inherit a blessing” (1 Pet 3:8–9). We can find the same lesson, told a different way, in 2 Sam 3:1–4:12. The violence of the war between David and Saul’s houses vividly portrays how acts of vengeance rob us of harmony and blessing.
Some passages in the Bible are beautiful, while others are barbaric. Both teach us we’re not meant to live in vengeance, like the houses of David and Saul. While we realize these individuals often acted against God’s will, we should still recognize their love for God (when it’s present) and their desire to follow Him (when it appears authentic) and live in those ways. Jesus is the only leader in the Bible we can look to as a supreme example of righteousness. Every other person in the Bible is flawed in their humanity, but that gives us hope: God can use us, like He used them—despite their mistakes.
If we could live up to Peter’s ideals of living in harmony and showing sympathy to others, the world would certainly be a better place, but we can’t do so without depending on God. In the midst of chaos, or when we give in to ego, it’s hard to live the way we should, even when we are people of faith. But when we learn to follow God in being compassionate, humble, and a blessing to people, we create opportunity for Him to bring harmony and sympathy. If David and Saul’s men had put vengeance aside to seek God, their story would certainly have been less barbaric and far more beautiful.
How can you incorporate humility, compassion, and the practice of blessing into your life?
John D. Barry
Barry, J. D., & Kruyswijk, R. (2012). Connect the Testaments: A One-Year Daily Devotional with Bible Reading Plan. Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press.