A Cry For Justice

Awakening the Evangelical Church to Domestic Violence and Abuse in its Midst

Forgiveness with Boundaries – David and King Saul (by Joe Pote)

Here is a segment of Joe Pote’s post Forgiveness with Boundaries, from his blog Redeemed.

It’s an excellent biblical example of how forgiveness need not entail reconciliation with the person who has hurt you, especially if that person is still likely to be dangerous.


Then Saul said, “I have sinned. Return, my son David, for I will not harm you again because my life was precious in your sight this day. Behold, I have played the fool and have committed a serious error.” (1 Sam 26:21)

Saul expressed words of repentance, confessed his sin, declared his love for David, asked David to return with him, and promised not to harm him again.

David replied, “Behold the spear of the king! Now let one of the young men come over and take it. The Lord will repay each man for his righteousness and his faithfulness; for the Lord delivered you into my hand today, but I refused to stretch out my hand against the Lord’s anointed. Now behold, as your life was highly valued in my sight this day, so may my life be highly valued in the sight of the Lord, and may He deliver me from all distress.”

David responded with forgiveness.  Although Saul had repeatedly attempted to kill him, David was quick to forgive.  He declared his love for Saul, returned Saul’s weapon to him, and did not seek vengeance against Saul.

But look at what David did not do…

So David went on his way, and Saul returned to his place.

Confession and forgiveness were followed not by reconciliation, but, rather, by each going their own way.


Read the full post on Joe’s blog here.   I’m also adding this link to our resources page.


  1. Joey

    Love seeing this…Forgiveness does NOT include putting yourself right back into the situation God just delivered you from. Forgiveness is giving up the the anger, hurt and resentment to God and letting Him lead you to the next step! Amen and amen!!

    • joepote01

      “Forgiveness does NOT include putting yourself right back into the situation God just delivered you from.”

      Exactly, Joey! Thank you, for the perspective!

  2. speakingtruthinlove
  3. Bev

    Thank you, Joe for sharing and Barbara for posting it here. This is not a Scripture I had thought of concerning this issue!!!

    • The bit I hadn’t realised was how David got someone else to take Saul’s sword back to him. He didn’t let himself get within throwing distance of his enemy. Don’t you love Scripture! It keeps showing us more and more…

    • joepote01

      Bev, I have really enjoyed, lately, going back through some of the Bible stories I learned as a child, and finding new truths. God gives us so many sound examples in scripture!

  4. Belle

    What a clear picture of forgiveness that story presents!

    • joepote01

      Yes, David so clearly forgave, yet so clearly did not trust or reconcile with Saul!

  5. joepote01

    Thanks for the reblogs,, Barbara and Speakingtruthinlove!

  6. Lisa Lord

    It is good to rightly divide God’s WORD. So many times we can mean well in saying “FORGIVE” the offender and be reconciled without seeing true heart repentance on the part of the offender (Abuser). I don’t think I want to reconcile with a rattlesnake that has bit me over and over again. All of us are sinners in need of God’s Grace and Mercy. Abusers can change if they are held accountable. Most churches are in the dark about handling abuse in a healthy God honoring way. I appreciate your comments about forgiving without being reconciled to someone that has not proven themselves to be truly changed from the inside – out.

    • joepote01Joe Pote

      Yes, in the case of deep wounds or repeated violations of covenant vows, reconciliation is not possible without true repentance on the part of the offender.

      Thank you, Lisa!

  7. Anonymous

    I recently read the following quote by Leslie VernIck: “God calls us to unconditional love, unconditional forgiveness and unconditional kindness, but He never asks us to have unconditional relationship or unconditional reconciliation with someone, especially when they are abusive and unrepentant towards us.”

    • joepote01

      What a great quote! Thanks for sharing, Anon!

    • Anonymous

      You have no idea how badly I needed to hear this right now, today! Thank you for sharing this! God’s timing is perfect.

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