“Bitterness is like drinking poison and waiting for the other person to die.”
Are you bitter? Yeah, you? Is there someone who hurt you or did you wrong, and you have found it hard to forgive and forget what they did? Maybe you have tried, but it seems like you cannot let go because they hurt you so bad.
In his book, Soul Detox, Craig Groeschel writes one of the most powerful sections about bitterness and resentment. In this chapter, he tells the story of a young lady who discovered her husband was secretly looking at pornography. Upon discovery, the wife was deeply hurt, and the husband truly desirous to change. He took steps in the right direction, but the hurt he caused was deep. She was all consumed with anger and bitterness toward him for the hurt and pain he caused her. No matter what steps he took, she felt she could never truly forgive him. She grew more and more resentful, and it consumed her.
One day, she finally determined to get back at him once and for all. She went to a bar, hooked up with a guy, and had a one night stand with a stranger. Her intentions for this reckless and self-destructing behavior were to destroy her unfaithful husband. She was understandably hurt by his sinful and selfish actions, but her bitterness was self-defeating and in the end destroyed her. She inflicted pain on him, no doubt, but only at the cost of losing everything herself.
In the book of 1 Samuel, we find this same reckless bitterness in the life of Saul. The life of Saul is full of anger troubles, as we find him often troubled with an evil spirit. The wrath he possesses for David is so much greater than anything he has ever expressed in the past. He seems all consumed with the death of David. He is jealous, paranoid, and wild in his pursuit of David’s destruction.
Although there are many examples of Saul going to extremes to get to David, none is as shocking as his slaughter of eighty five priest. Ahimelech, the priest, aided David by giving him bread and a sword. The priest had no clue that David was fleeing from Saul, and had no reason to suspect David had nefarious purposes (because he didn’t). For all Ahimelech knew, David was on a mission from Saul. David had always and only been faithful to the king, and Ahimelech even testified to this truth when accused of treason.
Saul, filled with bitterness, commands one of the most heinous crimes to be committed. Eighty five unarmed, defenseless, priest are ordered to be executed for no reason. Even the foot soldiers of Saul had more sense than to lay a hand on God’s men, and flatly refused to kill them. A pagan man, Doeg and Edomite (the Edomites were enemies of Israel) jumped at the opportunity, and murdered the priest in cold blood. Saul, looking on, commanded and consented to their deaths because of his bitterness.
Saul’s all-consuming bitterness took him places he never thought he would go, and drove him crazy. He was so filled with wrath, anger, and envy that he couldn’t clearly see where his resentment was taking him. He had drunk the poison, and was waiting for David to die.
Are you bitter? Who has hurt you, and it is painful to even think of them now? You are likely thinking of a name and an event(s) right now. How did they hurt you? What makes you so angry at them? What causes you to feel you could never forgive them?
I think you know that you ought to forgive, and you maybe have even tried before in the past. But, every time you think about them it seems you can’t help it, and the bitterness comes rushing back in.
You may even be thinking right now, “you don’t know how bad they hurt me”, “you don’t know what they did or you wouldn’t be prescribing forgiveness”.
The truth is, I don’t know what you went through, and I will never fully understand the pain it caused you. I would never try to minimize the pain you have suffered or the wrong committed against you. I do what you to understand though, that unforgiveness and bitterness is only going to destroy you in the end.
Forgiveness has more to do with you than it does with the one you are forgiving. You are releasing the bitterness, resentment, and anger toward them, and turning it over to the Lord. If you don’t feel you can, read the story of Christ crucifixion again and you will see what true forgiveness looks like. Jesus, our perfect example, shows how to forgive enemies, and do good to them who do wrong to us. I also encourage you to read the chapter in Soul Detox about bitterness and forgiveness… it is a worthwhile read.
Today make the choice to forgive. If you have been bitter and angry toward someone, first go to the Lord and then go to the person. Get things right, and forgive. You will be amazed at the burden lifted when bitterness is removed from your life.
Daily Scripture Reading
1 Samuel 21 - 24
1 Samuel 23:14
“And David abode in the wilderness in strong holds, and remained in a mountain in the wilderness of Ziph. And Saul sought him every day, but God delivered him not into his hand.”