The Proper Attitude Towards an Enemy’s Defeat

unhorsedLife is an adventure. Christians believe that the best adventure comes from following God’s plan. Not all adventures are good. Some end in misery and defeat. However, an adventure with God will be a good adventure. The short term (this life) may not look all that appealing, but the long term (eternity with Him) is unimaginably good. As with any adventure, though, we will come across folks who choose to be our enemies. Note how I put that. They choose to be our enemies. We should not be looking to make enemies.

Why do they choose to be our enemies? It really doesn’t matter. You simply trying to live a life that is pleasing to God will generate you a whole host of earthly enemies. Sometimes they will prevail (always in the short term) and sometimes we will. When we prevail over an enemy, what should our attitude be? Is there an issue with rejoicing in God’s greatness? Surely not, because He is deserving of all praise. How should we react other than that?

“You mountains of Gilboa,
let there be no dew or rain upon you,
nor fields of offerings!
For there the shield of the mighty was defiled,
the shield of Saul, not anointed with oil.

– 2 Samuel 1:21, ESV

Saul tried to kill David. Even after David let him go and Saul promised not to go after him any more, Saul broke that promise to David. Then, to make matters worse, Saul was unprepared for the outbreak of war with the Philistines, probably because he was too busy chasing David. He had to hurriedly march to the fight and it didn’t just cost him his own life, but the lives of his sons, including Jonathan. One can only wonder how differently that battle would have been if Saul had David and David’s troops to fight alongside the rest of the Israelites. So not only did Saul try to kill David, but Saul’s foolishness ended up getting David’s best friend killed, too. If that isn’t an enemy, I don’t know what is.

Look how David responded. Did he jump up and down and shout, “I’m glad Saul’s dead?” Quite the contrary. David cursed the ground where Saul fell. Why? David saw Saul as God’s anointed. He was, in fact, anointed by God to be king. Though God had passed the mantle onto David, David recognized that God had chosen Saul. David would not raise up his hand against one of God’s anointed. There’s a lesson to be learned here.

In every day life, we don’t know whom God will call and whom He won’t. We have no idea. The person who belligerently opposes us today could have a saving experience tomorrow. The one who causes us great harm and seeks to ruin us could be the one God redeems years down the road. We just don’t know. Even those who might fall and die opposing us still belong in the hands of God, not us. We are reminded that revenge isn’t for us. Love, forgiveness, and a helping hand towards our enemy, well, those things are.

In other words, our reaction when an enemy is defeated isn’t to be one of great rejoicing that our enemy has suffered. It doesn’t matter how deserving we think he or she is. After all, would we desire Christ apply the same standard to us? Rather, an enemy’s suffering should be cause for lament in us. This is especially true if an enemy’s life extinguishes in the process. If that enemy does not know Christ, there is no salvation. If we believe in a real heaven and hell, that should cause us to shudder and quake. We should desire that fate on no one. Therefore, let us react like David did upon Saul’s death: let us be saddened by an enemy’s defeat. Let us lift up our enemies, especially if they are alive. Let us call upon on the name of the Lord on their behalf, that they might be saved.

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