1 Samuel 24:4-6 GNB. “They said to him, ‘This is your chance! The Lord has told you that he would put your enemy in your power and you could do to him whatever you wanted to.’ David crept over and cut off a piece of Saul’s robe without Saul’s knowing it. But then David’s conscience began to hurt, and he said to his men, ‘May the Lord keep me from doing any harm to my master, whom the Lord chose as king! I must not harm him in the least, because he is the king chosen by the Lord!’ So David convinced his men that they should not attack Saul.”
Deuteronomy 30 (MSG) Here’s what will happen. While you’re out among the nations where God has dispersed you and the blessings and curses come in just the way I have set them before you, and you and your children take them seriously and come back to God, your God, and obey him with your whole heart and soul according to everything that I command you today, God, your God, will restore everything you lost; he’ll have compassion on you; he’ll come back and pick up the pieces from all the places where you were scattered.
The stories here are for you to find a story you can put yourself into. Pray that God will show you the meaning for you in particular. Use your own name. Read it in several versions over and over until the meaning for you becomes clear. Different survivors of abuse will see the stories differently. I think that is why the story is there in the Bible – to be read and applied to individuals for their particular situation.
Isaiah 4:2-6 (MSG) “And that’s when God’s Branch will sprout green and lush. The produce of the country will give Israel’s survivors something to be proud of again. Oh, they’ll hold their heads high! Everyone left behind in Zion, all the discards and rejects in Jerusalem, will be reclassified as ‘holy’ – alive and therefore precious. God will give Zion’s women a good bath. He’ll scrub the bloodstained city of its violence and brutality, purge the place with a firestorm of judgment.
An abusive individual sometimes seeks commitment from a partner within a few weeks or days of meeting. He comes on strong and gives the impression that she is the only one who can help him; that he needs her; and that without her he is nothing.
She has probably been hurt in former relationships, or does not feel that she is good enough to be loved for who she is. She has low self-esteem. She finds it difficult to protect herself and feels that if a man pays her intense attention she should give in to his demands because he might be her last or only chance for an intimate relationship or marriage.
What does it mean to pour coals of fire on our enemy's head? How do we do it? What are the effects of following this biblical instruction? How are God and we benefited? What are the coals of fire?
One has a right to be angry at the harm done by the evil others do. Channeling that anger into something positive is the challenge. We all must find a way to direct that anger into good. I truly believe that is what the Bible means by heaping coals of fire on your enemy's head.
Traditionally, a man (father) was considered the “bread winner” for his family. He was the financial manager for the home as well as in business affairs. His role was to make sure that his family received the best he could offer with his income. However, today a working woman can have responsibility for her financial affairs and enjoy a comfortable or affluent lifestyle whether or not she is married or single.
She is barely out of her teens. She grew up in Christian home where it was her responsibility to “make the family look good.” For most of her young life she endured physical, emotional, sexual and religious abuse. When she got the chance she ran away and married a “Christian” old enough to be her father. He forced her to obey him and prevented her from using contraceptives.
She sat in front of me, a beautiful, blue-eye brunette. She said that she was being verbally abused by her husband of ten years, who was a successful psychiatrist. He called her names, and told her that he was so stupid she did not have enough sense to form an opinion about anything. For many years she took the verbal abuse because she thought she deserved it, after all she had only finished high school and he was a doctor.
In this hostile world we live in, finding a safe environment is not always easy. Many have to live in such bad environments and the only alternative is not one we want to consider.
So how do we live? I'm learning this now. When we take vows of "for better or worse" little do we know what the worse might come to be.
Pam worked in a Christian institution for almost 30 years. During most of those years she was battered by her Christian husband. She sought help from church members, but they would not believe her "stories." She eventually confided in her pastor. He encouraged her to stay in the relationship for "the Lord’s sake." When she told me her story, her arm was in a cast. Her husband was still abusing her.