The ancient practice of non-retaliation

If we recognize that only God is truly able to judge others, we relieve ourselves of that burden and responsibility.

Matthew 5:39 – “But I tell you, don’t resist an evildoer. On the contrary, if anyone slaps you on your right cheek, turn the other to him also.

While many people claim that Yeshua began a revolutionary concept of non-retaliation in his day, it was actually a godly principle from ancient times, evidenced by the narrative of Scripture.

1 Samuel 24:12-13 – “May Yahweh judge between me and you, and may Yahweh take vengeance on you for me, but my hand will never be against you. “As the old proverb says, ‘Wickedness comes from wicked people.’ My hand will never be against you.

As David was confronted with the continuing persecution of Saul, he makes the commitment that he would never do Saul harm as Saul was attempting to do to him, since Saul is God’s anointed ruler. David fulfilled that commitment.

What I find fascinating from an historical perspective is that David quoted “an old proverb” regarding how wickedness in action stems from those who are wicked. As far as we know, this is not a quote from Moses or any biblical writer prior to David, but it was a quote that had become common enough to be routinely mentioned as proverbial within that culture. This idea of non-retaliation appears to be very ancient, indeed.

Ironically, or perhaps because of David’s parenting influence, his son Solomon would become associated with thousands of proverbs. Likely influenced by that same godly motivation of his father, Solomon would ultimately pen the following proverb:

Proverbs 24:29 – Don’t say, “I’ll do to him what he did to me; I’ll repay the man for what he has done.”

This is a line of thinking carried all the way down to New Testament writers. Even beyond the life and teaching of Yeshua, the apostle Paul expands on this perspective that was modeled by his Lord and Master and the ancient forefathers.

Romans 12:17-19 – Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Give careful thought to do what is honorable in everyone’s eyes. If possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. Friends, do not avenge yourselves; instead, leave room for God’s wrath, because it is written, Vengeance belongs to me; I will repay, says Yahweh.

That vengeance belongs to God is a statement that is an echo of David’s words to Saul. If we recognize that only God is truly able to judge others, we relieve ourselves of that burden and responsibility, and allow him to do whatever is appropriate in regard to our situation. This takes a strong measure of faith on our part, as we may have an opportunity to “right” a wrong, or provide a retaliatory measure of what we would consider justice.

By staying our hand and allowing God to work, we may endure injustice for the moment but in the process God can be glorified. When others see that we are willing to suffer an injustice at the hands of others and yet not retaliate, we provide a strong witness to our faith that God is in control and that only he is the true judge.

When we choose to forego those opportunities and instead trust God for ultimate judgment, we also demonstrate our like-minded discipleship and faithfulness to our Lord and Messiah and can rightfully assume our place in a long line of historical and spiritual ancestors before us.


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Yahweh the King

Yahweh has always been, and always will be, the rightful king of his people.

Yahweh said to Samuel, “Listen to the voice of the people in all that they tell you; for they have not rejected you, but they have rejected me as the king over them.

1 Samuel 8:7

The political kingship of Israel began with a rejection of Yahweh as their king.

Then all the elders of Israel gathered themselves together and came to Samuel to Ramah. They said to him, “Behold, you are old, and your sons don’t walk in your ways. Now make us a king to judge us like all the nations.” But the thing displeased Samuel when they said, “Give us a king to judge us.” Samuel prayed to Yahweh. Yahweh said to Samuel, “Listen to the voice of the people in all that they tell you; for they have not rejected you, but they have rejected me as the king over them.

1 Samuel 8:4-7

Even when presented with all of the tyrannous things a national king would do: the taxes, the conscription, the giving over of land, children, and slaves to the service of the king, the people would not relent.

Yahweh told Samuel that their desire for a political king, and their forsaking of Samuel as judge over them, was akin to their idolatry.

According to all the works which they have done since the day that I brought them up out of Egypt even to this day, in that they have forsaken me and served other gods, so they also do to you.

1 Samuel 8:8

Throughout their tumultuous political kingdom, Yahweh still had plans to use Israel’s national kingdom as an object lesson for all time. Although Saul had originally been God’s choice for ruler, Saul became corrupt and demonstrated he was not obedient whole-heartedly to the torah, or instruction, of God. So instead, God raised up David as a man after his own heart to firmly establish the kingdom.

While David was originally rejected by the people of Israel, through him and his son Solomon, the pinnacle of the earthly, political kingdom of God was reached. The corrupted initial kingdom was replaced with a king who was yielded to Yahweh and who ruled wisely as God’s faithful representative with the wisdom of God.

Just like the kingdom of David and Solomon, God always had plans to consummate his rulership over his people with a representative who would honor and represent him whole-heartedly. The coming of a Messiah, a son of David, an anointed one (i.e., a king), was foretold through the prophets and longed for by the Israelites who suffered under each rebellious king and through exile in foreign lands.

Yeshua arrived into a world of immense national and political corruption, just like the conditions of the kingdom of Saul. However, just like the house of David, Yeshua demonstrated through his faithfulness that he was truly anointed of God, and the rightful king of God’s people.

True to form and the cyclical pattern of torah, Israel rejected God’s anointed king (for that is what the word “Christ” means). But God’s plan to go full circle back to his own rulership over his people was not yet complete. Through the demonstration of his power and through the resurrection of Yeshua, Yahweh maintained a rightful ruler of his people, one who would oversee the affairs of his kingdom as if he himself were king. Through his Messiah, his anointed king, the rightful rulership and all honor would ultimately return to Yahweh himself.

Then the end comes, when he (Messiah) will deliver up the Kingdom to God the Father, when he will have abolished all rule and all authority and power. …When all things have been subjected to him, then the Son will also himself be subjected to him who subjected all things to him, that God may be all in all.

1 Corinthians 15:24, 28

Through the faithfulness of his Messiah, Yahweh remains as rightful king over his people for all time, and is worthy of all honor and praise.

If you enjoy these daily blog posts, be sure to visit the growing archive of the Core of the Bible podcast. Each week we take a more in-depth look at one of the various topics presented in the daily blog. You can view the podcast archive here. Questions or comments? Feel free to email me directly at coreofthebible@gmail.com.