Feeding our enemies into submission instead of starving them into submission is an unusual procedure and is not in harmony with the human heart, which says, If thine enemy hunger, starve him. This is the practice in time of war. Apparent victories have been gained in this way, but the fact is, no permanent victory has ever been won by the starvation method.
It is human to love our friends and hate our enemies. But hate always begets hate. Jesus said, "I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you" (Matt. 5:44). This is God's method.
The greatest victory ever won in this world was won on the day of Christ's crucifixion, when He offered the prayer, "Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do" (Luke 23:34). Christ's death appeared to be a defeat, but it was not so in fact, for through His death He destroyed "him that had the power of death, that is, the devil" (Heb. 2:14). Satan, the one who inspired wicked men to put to death the Son of God, sealed his own doom on that day. And the time is coming when all created beings will acknowledge that what seemed to be a defeat for the cause of God was in reality a victory.
When the hosts of Syria came to war against Israel they were stricken with blindness, and led by the man of God to Samaria. The king of Israel, seeing that they were in his power, said to Elisha, "My father, shall I smite them? shall I smite them?" This was the most natural thing to do under the circumstances, for they were the enemies of Israel. But the prophet said, "Thou shalt not smite them. . . . Set bread and water before them, that they may eat and drink, and go to their master." The king of Israel did as he was commanded. "He prepared great provision for them; and when they had eaten and drunk, he sent them away, and they went to their master." This was a real victory, for it had the effect of subduing the host of Syria, and we read, "So the bands of Syria came no more into the land of Israel" (2 Kings 6:8-23). They fed their enemies into submission.
When David was chosen of God to be king of Israel, Saul, who was jealous of him, pursued him for years, intending to kill him. Twice during this time Saul fell into the hands of David. His men regarded this as an act of Providence and urged David to kill him. But David, we are told, showed kindness to Saul, and refused to harm him because he was God's anointed. When David heard of the death of Saul on the field of battle, he did not manifest any pleasure at the removal of his enemy. The Scriptures say, "They mourned, and wept, and fasted until even, for Saul, and for Jonathan" (2 Sam. 1:12).
After Saul's death, war continued and David took the defensive. And "There was long war between the house of Saul and the house of David: but David waxed stronger and stronger, and the house of Saul waxed weaker and weaker" (2 Sam. 3:1). The God of Israel was with David and gave him the victory. After the house of Saul had almost disappeared, David said, "Is there not yet any of the house of Saul, that I may shew the kindness of God unto him?" (2 Sam. 9:3). One was found and to him David said, "Fear not: for I will surely shew thee kindness . . . and I will restore thee all the land of Saul thy father" (verse 7).
When David, heartbroken and barefooted, was fleeing from Jerusalem, pursued by his enemies, "a man of the family of the house of Saul, whose name was Shimei . . . came forth, and cursed still as he came. And he cast stones at David, and at all the servants of king David. . . . And thus said Shimei when he cursed, Come out, come out, thou bloody man, and thou man of Belial" (2 Sam. 16:5-7). Abishai, one of David's servants, said, "Let me go over, I pray thee, and take off his head. And the king said, What have I to do with you, ye sons of Zeruiah? so let him curse. ... It may be .. . that the Lord will requite me good for his cursing this day" (verses 9-12).
When the kingdom was fully restored to David, this man, Shimei, was the first one of his enemies to fall down before him and acknowledge his sin. He said, "Let not my lord impute iniquity unto me, neither do thou remember that which thy servant did perversely the day that my lord the king went out of Jerusalem, that the king should take it to his heart. For thy servant doth know that I have sinned: therefore, behold, I am come the first this day of all the house of Joseph to go down to meet my lord the king" (2 Sam. 19:19, 20).
Abishai said, Shall not Shimei be put to death for this, because he cursed the Lord's anointed?. . . The king said unto Shimei, Thou shalt not die" (verse 21-23). There was no hate in the heart of David. He loved his most bitter enemy. He overcame evil with goodness. In this he was a representative of Him whose dying words concerning His enemies were, "Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do."
Can we who are living in the last days of earth's history do less? If we do have enemies, let us love them into the message and eventually into the fold of God.