Have you ever been in a situation where you were hurt or embarrassed and you said to yourself, “I’ll show them.”? I have on many occasions. I can remember thinking something along the lines of, “If I win the award, that will teach them.” Or “People will take me seriously if ….” It’s seems odd to me that as I write this, I cannot remember any of the offenses that caused me to have those thoughts, but I clearly recall thinking them. I hope, and pray, that my lack of recall stems from truly forgiving those who hurt me.
As I read Psalm 109 this morning, I felt like David was expressing this same basic sentiment. He begins Psalm 109 by calling on the Lord to come to his defense. “O God, whom I praise, do not remain silent.” (Psalm 109:1). David spend the next several verses laying out his complaint to the Lord:
- “they have spoken against me with lying tongues” (v. 2)
- “they attack me without cause” (v. 3)
- “they accuse me” (v. 4)
- “they repay me evil for good, and hatred for friendship” (v. 5)
David then clearly and specifically asked God to destroy his enemies. He asks that God cut his enemy’s life short, leaving his wife and children with no means of support, so that they have to take to the streets as beggars. He furthers requests that no one show kindness to this family and that the family name be blotted out.
David then reminds the Lord that David was not the only one his enemy treated badly. “For he never thought of doing a kindness, but hounded to death the poor and the needy and the brokenhearted.” (v. 16)
Does David’s complaint sound familiar? If we are honest, we all have to admit that we have made, or at least thought, similar statements. “He’s the meanest man I have ever met.” “She never has a nice word to say about anyone.” “He would step on his own mother if it would help his reach his goal.”
There will always be mean people in this world, and when we encounter them, we often wish evil on them, as David did. Or we hope to show them up. If we can play fair and still win, that will really show them. Or if God blesses us mightily, they will wish they had been nicer, fairer, kinder. This sentiment is expressed by David near the end of this psalm.
In verse 21, David writes “But you, O Sovereign Lord, deal well with me for your name’s sake; out of the goodness of your love, deliver me.” He goes on to say, “Let them know that it is your hand, that you, O Lord, have done it. They may curse, but you will bless; when they attack, they will be put to shame, but your servant will rejoice. My accusers will be clothed with disgrace and wrapped in shame as in a cloak. (Psalm 109: 27 – 29)
If David, a man after God’s own heart, wanted to show up his enemies and disgrace them, we cannot hope to feel less animosity toward our enemies. The desire to show up one’s enemies and force them to realize that God is blessing you is a natural one. However, like David, we need to remember that if God answers our prayer as we desire, it is for His sake and for His glory that He does so. David reminded God that since David is his servant, God is glorified when David prospers.
We should also remember that David’s son Solomon advised treating our enemies with kindness. “If your enemy is hungry, give him food to eat; if he is thirsty, give him water to drink. In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head, and the Lord will reward you.” (Proverbs 25:22) Solomon is reminding us that although we may pray for God to embarrass our enemies and show them up by blessing us, we are still to treat our enemies fairly. And Jesus taught us to “Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.” (Matthew 5:44) Justice is to be left to the Lord.
So, the next time you feel like showing up your enemy, maybe you should stop and pray for him. Ask God what kindnesses He would have you show him. You may be heaping burning coals on his head, but you may also open his eyes to the love of the Lord, and in doing so, your enemy may become your brother in Christ.
What situations have occurred in your life where you really wanted God to honor you in a way that would show up your enemies and make them take notice that God had blessed you?
How have you ‘heaped burning coals’ on your enemy’s head?