I have a very dear friend whose husband was abandoned by his father as a child. Throughout his life, his father would drift in and out bringing his drama and baggage with him. The father wasn’t a pleasant person and it would have been very easy, even completely justified, for my friend’s husband to cut his father out of his life.
Instead, the man chose to shower his father with kindness. When the man was old and dying, my friend was impressed by the remarkable tenderness that her husband showed his father, who certainly had done nothing to deserve it and would never be able to repay.
When others noticed the man’s behavior toward his father they were often shocked, even confused at the grace and mercy he was able to show and would sometimes ask him why he did it. The man simply shrugged and said, “He’s my dad. The Bible tells me to honor my father.”
That kind of love is impossible to manufacture, it has to spring from our love for God and His love for us.
Something similar is recorded in the book of Second Samuel. After fifteen long years of running for his life, multiple assassination attempts, barely scraping together basic food and shelter in order to survive, David learned that his nemesis, King Saul, had died in battle.
We might expect that David would feel great relief, even rejoice over the fact that this man who had done him so much harm was dead. That’s not what David did. David mourned.
I don’t know why exactly David mourned for Saul, the Bible doesn’t specifically say. But I wonder if what David was mourning was what might have been for Saul. Perhaps David was able to feel pity for the great fall from grace.
Saul had taken everything from David; his family, his wife, his freedom. Like my friend’s husband, he had every right to be bitter, but that bitterness would have shackled him forever. Both of these great men chose a better path. They chose to forgive and show grace to the men who had wronged them and when they did, they were truly free.