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The Word in the World

The Bible Reading Club: The Word and the World – Dancing on the grave of your enemy? (2 Samuel 1:17)

Today’s Reading: 1 Samuel 31 – 2 Samuel 4

Today’s Reflection: 2 Samuel 1:17

And David lamented with this lamentation over Saul and Jonathan his son.

The 2011 NBA Finals wrapped up this weekend, and the most interesting part of the story is that there has been much more cheering over LeBron James and the Miami Heat losing the championship than over Dirk Nowitzki and the Dallas Mavericks winning it. LeBron James decision to announce his move to Miami in an ESPN prime time special, and the lavish press conference boasting that bringing James, Dwayne Wade and Chris Bosh to Miami would produce a multi-championship-winning basketball ‘dynasty’, instantly made the Heat the much-hated villains of the past NBA season.  They overcame a wobbly start to have a great season record and had a terrific post-season, eliminating highly touted teams like the Boston Celtics and the Chicago Bulls.  But given the media scrutiny and the simmering resentments they have inflamed, their inability to go all the way and win a championship means their season is now regarded as a failure.  And this failure has resulted in an unusual amount of schadenfreude—a German word defined as ‘pleasure derived from the misfortunes of others’, or literally ‘shameful joy’.  It seems a great many people just love to hate the Miami Heat.

King Saul spent his last days trying to kill David and prevent him from taking the throne from him.  Forcing David to run from his family, from his country, even to seek shelter in the land of Israel’s enemies the Philistines, Saul had made life for David dangerous and  miserable.  When word came to him that Saul had been killed, David had every reason to rejoice, or at least to be relived.  Instead, David mourned.  The Bible says he ‘lamented’, a great wailing cry, like that of a widow over a lost spouse, or a parent over a lost child.  David grieved over his enemy—the man who hurled spears at him and hunted him like a dog—as he might have grieved the death of his very own father.

Again, the man after God’s own heart teaches us an important lesson.  Though we ought to seek God’s deliverance from our enemies, God does not desire us to hate anyone, including our enemies.  For God sent His son to die for us while we were still sinners—and thus were enemies of God (Romans 5:10).  God’s desire is to save everyone, even those we consider to be our enemies.  God can’t use us to help save them if in our hearts we’re ready to celebrate their destruction or take delight in their failures.

So before you dance on the grave of your enemies—whether literally or figuratively—imagine where you would be if God had regarded you that way while you were still His enemy.

Luke 6:32-36 – 32) “If you love those who love you, what benefit is that to you? For even sinners love those who love them. 33) And if you do good to those who do good to you, what benefit is that to you? For even sinners do the same. 34) And if you lend to those from whom you expect to receive, what credit is that to you? Even sinners lend to sinners, to get back the same amount. 35) But love your enemies, and do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return, and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High, for he is kind to the ungrateful and the evil. 36) Be merciful, even as your Father is merciful.

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