In 2 Samuel 4, two Israelite men kill Saul’s son, king Ish-Bosheth. These two men (Rechab and Baanah) then brought Ish-Bosheth’s head to David. They said that this was God’s vengeance against Saul for trying to kill David. David disagreed. When he answered them, David opened with these words: “As surely as the Lord lives, who has delivered me out of every trouble….” (2 Sam. 4:9b NIV). There’s more to the story for sure – go and read it when you get a moment.
From the context of David’s answer it seems like he is telling Rechab and Baanah that he didn’t need or want them to murder Ish-Bosheth. David knew God was his deliverer, not men. David also knew that vengeance belonged to God, not men. In fact, David’s son Solomon later commented on these concepts in Proverbs 20:22: Don’t say, “I will get even for this wrong.” Wait for the Lord to handle the matter (NLT). Speaking of vengeance, I like how Charles Bridges commented on this verse in Proverbs:
Vengeance belongs to God. Nobody else is fit to wield this. God is omniscient; our knowledge is at most partial. God’s judgment is perfect, while we are blinded by our prejudices and evil desires. We so often long to take revenge on people. Even when we are restrained from doing this, we continue to burn with rage within ourselves. At best we are reluctantly obedient. We rarely display the victory demonstrated by godly people who overcome evil with good.
What is the remedy for this? In humility and faith we must lay this matter before the Lord. Put it in his hands. Wait for the Lord, and he will deliver you. Revenge rises in our hearts only because we have no faith. For if we believed that God would take up our cause, would we not leave everything in his hands? “Let it be sufficient for you that you possess your own soul patiently and know that all wrongs will be righted one day. God will set everything straight in the end, but that day has yet to come” (Bishop Sanderson).
Covenant Presbyterian Church (OPC)
Hammond, WI, 54015