The ABC’s of Wisdom: Building Character with Solomon - Patience
The Waiting Game
Better a patient man than a warrior, a man who controls his temper than one who takes a city.
Regarding this verse, John Phillips points out the difference between Joab and David. As David’s chief general, Joab knew how to take a city. In many ways he was the General Patton of the Old Testament. He knew how to fight and he knew how to win. He wasn’t afraid to attack, even if the odds were stacked against him. After all, he earned his spurs (so to speak) by taking the Jebusite fortress, which not even Joshua could conquer. He did it by climbing up the rock-hewn passage from which the Jebusites drew their water supply (see 2 Samuel 5:6-8). Joab knew how to take a city.
But in every way David was a greater man. When provoked by Saul again and again, he refused to retaliate. When he had a chance to kill Saul in the cave near En Gedi (1 Samuel 24), he refused, saying he could not touch the Lord’s anointed. He proclaimed his own innocence and then declared, “May the Lord judge between you and me. And may the Lord avenge the wrongs you have done to me, but my hand will not touch you” (v.12).
There are two interesting facts here: The first is that David was not shy about pointing out the truth. He plainly said that Saul had wronged him. Sometimes in our hurry to reconcile we overlook the fact that wrong has been done. It’s rarely true that “we’re both right and we’re both wrong.” That implies a kind of neutrality that cancels the need to make moral judgments. Such a position is useful only for those who live in a fantasy world. Saul was wrong. David knew he was wrong-and he plainly said so.
There is a second helpful fact here. David understood something many of us never grasp. When it comes to revenge, God is much better at it than we are. That’s because He looks down from heaven and sees all sides of every issue. He knows who is right and He knows who is wrong. So often our perspective is clouded and our judgment faulty. We see our side and only our side. But God knows. And He will not forget to avenge the wrongs done to His children.
David understood that God was ready, willing, and able to take care of him. And whenever God got ready, Saul would be out of the way and David would ascend to the throne. If God wanted Saul removed, there were ten thousand ways He could do it. God didn’t need David’s help. Even when David was clearly the better man, even when Saul had gone nuts, even when God had rejected Saul, He still didn’t need David’s help.
How many sins are committed because we are in a hurry, because under pressure we give in to our passions, because in the crunch we cut corners we would never cut otherwise. How many stupid decisions we make because we aren’t willing to wait for God.
I take great personal comfort in this-that God is not so unjust as to forget His children. And when we suffer for doing what is right, God sees and He remembers. That’s a promise you can take to the bank.
Lord God, when I am tempted to take matters into my own hands, remind me to wait lest by my impatience I spoil Your work on my behalf. Amen.
Someone has called waiting the hardest discipline of the Christian life. Do you agree?
In what areas of your life are you currently waiting for God to work? Why is it especially important to wait for God when our friends turn against us?
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