I've mentioned enemies before, and I hope none of you think I have a paranoia complex. When I say "enemies," I simply mean anyone who has knowingly done you harm, especially someone who's not a stranger, and should have your welfare in mind. Perhaps "enemy" seems too harsh a term, but I like calling a spade a spade.
I'm reading along in I Samuel these days. David had some enemies. And although I hate constantly to read my own troubles into the Scriptures, sometimes one can hardly help seeing similarities, however small. David had plenty of pagan enemies, people who were set against God's people. Goliath was the biggest of the Philistines.
But David had a worse, more insidious enemy. Saul was his own king, an Israelite, one of God's people, a man chosen and anointed by God. God had put him in leadership, upon the people's demand for a king. God's spirit had occasionally fallen on Saul in mighty ways, and he had even prophesied. Originally, he was a humble man, not seeking advancement for himself. (I Sam. 10: 6-11, 21-22, 11:6) But Saul also disobeyed God, ignored His commandments, and eventually became proud, self-serving and violent. When David, a godly, humble man, comes within Saul's sphere, he becomes David's enemy.
The interesting thing to notice is this: how does David handle this life-threatening enemy, within God's people? A man in authority over him? A man originally anointed by God, but from whom God's favor has left? A man who is repeatedly filled with "an evil spirit from God"? (18:10, 19:9) If Saul is such an enemy, a man rejected by God, why not storm in on him as David did Goliath, and kill him immediately? God gives David opportunity to do this, but David will not harm Saul. Samuel has already anointed David secretly as the next king, yet even that great prophet will not act to remove Saul from power, nor to advance David. Both the godly men "lay low," and wait for God to act, and allow the violent man to proceed. Why?
The psalm of David that accompanies these chapters is Psalm 11. (Adam put together a chronological reading of the Bible for our church, and I love having psalms knitted in with the history they were meant to describe.) Examining Psalm 11 gives insight into David's thinking, during these dark days with Saul as his enemy:
1. He trusts God to protect him. He's not afraid of this enemy among God's people.
2. He calls Saul wicked. He's not afraid to call wickedness what it is, even among God's people, even among those over him.
3. He worries for God's people, when their leadership is so corrupt. This is a valid concern, and shows David's love for God's people.
4. However, he reminds himself Who is in charge -- God rules, and He sees it all.
5. David realizes he's being tested by God, when God allows leaders in the church (well, Israel) to oppress him. He's being tested to determine how he will respond.
6. Who will vindicate David? God will. He will punish the wicked, trap them in snares, give them pain and trouble. That's not David's job.
So David does not act against Saul. And you -- you pastor, or church member -- when someone in the church tries to harm you, and you agonize that such wickedness could exist within her four walls, remember, this is not Goliath. Tread gently in God's church. You are being tested. Leave it to God. His vindication is best. Meanwhile, examine yourself; David certainly did. Be sure of your own righteousness in the situation; David even says to God, "Vindicate me, O LORD, according to my righteousness and my integrity that is in me." (Ps. 7:8) That's a man who has dug out his own soul, and is certain of his rightness in all matters in which he is accused.
If you haven't yet faced an enemy within the church, you're blessed. Most people who've done "church work," have. David gives us such guidance in how to meet these enemies in a godly way. It's not easy! But it does develop character that's pleasing to God