Forgiveness Among The Goats
Some of our band of Holy Land pilgrims will be leaving us today, but others of us will be journeying a bit longer, and one of the places we'll be visiting today is En Gedi National Park.
En Gedi is a beautiful and historic park with a great hike that leads you to the spring-fed David's Waterfall. The waterfall is so named because of this story from 1 Samuel chapter 24 where a disturbed King Saul is chasing David into the wilderness near the Dead Sea.
24 After Saul returned from pursuing the Philistines, he was told, “David is in the Desert of En Gedi.” 2 So Saul took three thousand able young men from all Israel and set out to look for David and his men near the Crags of the Wild Goats.
Can I tell you that the descendants of the wild goats that are mentioned here are still roaming around En Gedi. You can see them all over the place when you visit. Let's continue the story, though:
3 He came to the sheep pens along the way; a cave was there, and Saul went in to relieve himself. David and his men were far back in the cave. 4 The men said, “This is the day the Lord spoke of when he said[b] to you, ‘I will give your enemy into your hands for you to deal with as you wish.’” Then David crept up unnoticed and cut off a corner of Saul’s robe.
David later waits until Saul is down the hill safely away from the spring and the cave, and he then calls out to Saul, telling him that he could have killed him, but spared his life. Saul weeps and repents of chasing David, but he soon breaks his promises and resumes seeking to end David's life.
In this story, David shows remarkable restraint not to harm "the Lord's anointed." He shows mercy to his enemy, and even makes himself vulnerable in order to do so. Against the advice of his men, David opens himself up for attack as he reaches out in peace to Saul.
Jesus commanded his followers to forgive those who persecuted them, to love their enemies, to turn the other cheek when they've been struck. In order to do all of these things, we have to be vulnerable, and trust that God will keep us in God's hands as we forgive.
May you find the power to forgive even those who have wounded you deeply. May you set them free by laying down your own weapons and seeking no vengeance or retribution. May you find freedom in your forgiving. And may the grace and peace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you now and always. Amen.