Daily Office Readings for Wednesday of Proper 12: Year 1
“Today I am powerless, even though anointed king; these men, the sons of Zeruiah, are too violent for me. The Lord pay back the one who does wickedly in accordance with his wickedness:” (2nd Samuel 3:39)
David is sad that Abner, whom he sent away in peace, has been killed out of revenge. David articulates his limitations. He is the King of Israel, he doesn’t have to acknowledge his weakness, but he does.
David has shown that he can be a man of violence when necessary. But he maintains that he is not an intentionally an evil man. I will reserve judgment about that. After all, he will, in the future, have one of his subordinate leaders killed in order that he might have his wife, but that’s later. Right now, he says something I want to ponder; and that is, “These men, the sons of Zeruiah, are too violent for me.”
I see or hear of mean and evil people on the news almost every day that are too violent for me. And while I often reject Psalms, or parts of Psalms which contain words of vindictiveness, I do ponder about David’s words asking God to “Pay back the one who does wickedly in accordance with his wickedness;” I guess it stands to reason that the author of the Psalms would utter these words of payback, or revenge.
The problem I have with revenge is that it produces what I call “consequential behavior.” Consequential behavior is the behavior we do, or not do, based on what the community will do to us if discovered. I would much rather people have a change of heart and behave in such a way as they themselves would want to be treated. The old eye for an eye does not work. It operates from a hate brought about because of the love we had for the one injured, mistreated or killed. However, I will agree with David that God can deal with people according to their deeds, that is, according with their wickedness. I will admit that I believe some people are unfortunately bent on being bad.
I believe the preferred way to deal with all people is to appeal to their goodness. The goodness of some people is deeper inside them than others. It can be hard, but rewarding work to dig out the goodness in them. True sorrow and the accompanying repentance is worth the effort required of counseling. The search for the elusive goodness in some people may be too difficult for the novice counselor or family member. However, prayer to God from the love you have for them, also works.
Let us live to love, rather than just live to live, listening to what the Spirit is saying to, and through the saints of God, while pondering anew what the Almighty can do. John