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May the LORD be our judge and decide between us. May he consider my cause and uphold it; may he vindicate me by delivering me from your hand.

1 Samuel 24:15

David held up a piece of King Saul’s robe as he shouted the words from verse 15. Moments before, Saul had been unguarded and vulnerable in a cave where David and his men had been hiding. Saul was at David’s mercy, and David had mercy. Instead of killing the king, David sliced off a corner of the royal robe. He spared the king’s life out of deliberate trust in God. He refused to take the throne by force. He didn’t want to be king unless God placed him in that position.

Perhaps the hardest work we can do during worship is the work of forgiveness. Anytime we are faced with the opportunity for revenge, we have also been given the opportunity to release. And there’s nothing like the quietness and reflection of worship to bring to mind offenses, hurts, anger and unsettled issues in our lives. Jesus described just such a situation in Matthew 5:23 - 25. Worship is on hold until we release those we need to forgive.

David transformed a tense moment of temptation into an act of worship by sparing Saul’s life and publicly announcing his ongoing trust in God. He released Saul to God’s judgment by not taking revenge. His was costly worship. David demonstrated that he was a man after God’s heart by his persistence in trusting God, even when that trust put his own life at risk.

Forgiveness may not be risky for us, but it will be hard work. We don’t forgive easily, especially if our cause is just. But, like David, we demonstrate our understanding of the depth of God’s forgiveness of us by the way we go about forgiving others. Worship includes receiving and giving forgiveness. We certainly need God’s help to do both.

Lord, help me release those I struggle to forgive …
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