Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Moses and David Blessed Their Enemies

But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you. (Matthew 5:44)
We have seen how Joseph blessed his enemies. Now let’s take a look at how Moses blessed his enemies. After the tenth and final plague, the death of the firstborn, hit all of Egypt, including Pharaoh’s house, Pharaoh called for Moses:
Then he called for Moses and Aaron by night, and said, “rise, go out from among my people, both you and the children of Israel. And go, serve the Lord as you have said. Also take your flocks and your herds, as you have said, and be gone; and bless me also.” (Exodus 12:31-32)
The Hebrew people have always been a people of blessing. Even in their captivity, they did not forget how to bless. Apparently, this was not lost on Pharaoh. When he decided to let the children of Israel go, he had finally had enough of the plagues, so he begged a blessing from Moses.

Cecil B. DeMille never showed it in The Ten Commandments, but can you picture Moses (Charlton Heston) placing his hands on Pharaoh’s (Yul Brynner) bald pate, and speaking a blessing over him? Of course, Pharaoh changed his mind, and soon the chase was on (a really dumb move on Pharaoh’s part).

David also blessed his enemies, and he details it for us in the Psalms.
Fierce witness rise up;
  They ask me things that I do no know.
They reward me evil for good,
  To the sorrow of my soul.
But as for me, when they were sick,
  My clothing was sackcloth;
I humbled myself with fasting;
  And my prayer would return to my own heart.
I paced about as though he were my friend or brother;
  I bowed down heavily, as one who mourns for his mother.
(Psalm 35:11-14)
When David’s enemies were sick, he did not triumph over them. Rather, he went into mourning for them, grieving over their distress. He fasted, and bowed his head in intense prayer for their recovery. He responded to the news of their pain as if they had been his friend or brother, or even his own mother. This was no affectation, but a sincere expression of concern.

David thus loved his enemies and blessed them, even though they did not return the favor. For in the next verses we read:
But in my adversity they rejoiced
  And gathered together;
Attackers gathered against me,
  And I did not know it;
  They tore at me and did not cease;
With ungodly mockers at feasts
  They gnashed at me with their teeth.
(Psalm 35:15-16)
This was certainly not the first time David prayed for his enemies and had it thrown back in his face. But that did not change his ways. Saul tried to kill him, but when he had a chance to kill Saul, he refused. Even so, Saul did not relent. Absalom instigated a rebellion and tried to overthrow him, but David wept bitterly at his demise.

David was a skillful warrior and king, but at heart, he was still a shepherd, and so he blessed. This is instructive for us, especially considering that it comes to us from one whom God called “a man after My own heart, who will do all My will” (Acts 13:22).

Now, we might look at the examples of Moses and David (and Joseph; see Joseph Blessed His Enemies) and think, “Yeah, but they were holy men of God.” But consider what Jesus had to say about that:
For I say to you, among those born of women there is not a greater prophet than John the Baptist; but he who is least in the kingdom of God is greater than he. (Luke 7:28)
John the Baptist was the last prophet of the Old Testament era. No one was greater than he — not Joseph, not Moses, not David. And yet, even the one who is least in the kingdom of God is greater than he. If you know the Lord Jesus Christ, you are in the kingdom of God, and therefore, greater than John the Baptist. You have the stuff to do what they all did, because it is not longer about you, but about God in you.

If Joseph, Moses and David could all forgive and bless their enemies, so can all those who belong to the Lord Jesus Christ. Not only is it possible, it is God’s way for you and me.