A few months ago, I learnt on social media that a lady, the wife of a husband and a mother of kids, had died due to physical abuse from the man that was supposed to love her like Christ loved the church and give himself for her (Ephesians 5:25-28), who instead made her give her life for herself. I shared a post on Facebook a few weeks after the event briefly describing what I believe is a Biblical answer to those suffering abuse – physical, emotional or verbal, from their spouse and whose lives are in danger.
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This post is a fuller version of what I shared on Facebook. Now, I strongly believe that the Bible, GOD’s Word, has the answer to EVERY situation you and I might find ourselves in this life. It may not be there in black and white, explicitly applicable to your situation, but looking with the heart of Christ, with a mind to really know what GOD says about the situation, opens your eyes to see the other colours HE has written your answers in.
My parallel to the case of abuse is that of the relationship between David and king Saul. To get the full story, I suggest you read 1 Samuel 16 – 2 Samuel 1 but I’ll do my best to point out the main bits in this post. 1 Samuel 16 introduces David to us as the youngest of Jesse’s sons of the tribe of Judah, who is anointed king over Israel in the presence of his brothers and in the second half of the chapter, relocates to Saul’s palace as his good CV (verse 18) went ahead of him to make him Saul’s harpist to refresh his soul. Saul sends word to Jesse for permission for David (meaning ‘beloved’) to stand before him – Saul “loved him greatly” (verse 21). This can be seen as a parallel to the wedding ceremony of a man and wife.
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Fast forward to chapter 17 where David kills Goliath and Saul gets jealous because the women were singing more highly of David’s accomplishments than of Saul’s in chapter 18 and “Saul eyed David from that day and forward” – 18:9. There is always a point in a relationship where things start going south. Heed this point carefully as the season may have changed for the worse, more so if nothing is done to restore peace.
Saul’s envy of David escalated into him trying to pin David down to the wall with a javelin twice – 18:11; using his elder daughter Merab as bait with a dowry of 100 Philistines’ foreskins – 18:17-27; using another daughter Michal – 19:11-17; and the chase continues till chapter 27. During the chase, Jonathan, Saul’s son tried to convince David his father didn’t have it in for him but he was proved wrong and even though David returned to the palace area, he did not last there (chapter 20). This can be seen as a parallel to when 3rd parties to a relationship try to restore the abused to the abuser without first ensuring the abuser has truly repented before GOD. No matter how well-meaning the heart of the 3rd party, be extra careful, even when they love you like Jonathan loved David – like he loved his own soul (1 Samuel 18:1-4). Remember you’re the 1st or 2nd party!
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David was in charge of Saul’s army – that’s almost as good as being Vice or Assistant or Deputy-King, probably a higher position than Saul’s wife(-ves), but he escaped and ran for his dear life when he knew his life was in danger. He even went to live in the enemies’ camp for some time. So if you’re facing abuse, run for your life, married or in a relationship. If in a relationship, quit! Your Heavenly FATHER does not abuse you, why should you accept abuse from a lesser being – human?
In 1 Samuel 22:3-4, David took care of his parents who were probably part of his responsibility now and kept them away from the dangerous reach of Saul in Mizpeh of Moab. Please do the same with your children or those under your care, because whether or not they are experiencing the abuse directly, they are still under the influence of the abuser and you don’t want them being in that sort of environment, thinking that’s how relationships work. No, sir!
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David never took vengeance on Saul even when according to his men, “GOD had delivered Saul into his hands” (1 Samuel 24 & 26). He mourned the death of Saul, even killing the person that put the finishing touch to Saul’s death (2 Samuel 1). He never took matters to his own hands; he trusted GOD to do the needful. Now I’m not saying you should wish your abuser death, but just leave them in GOD’s hands and save yourself and those you can.
David went to dwell with prophet Samuel (1 Samuel 19:18). Surround yourself with the right people who would give you godly advice not those who would want to take advantage of your situation.
Also, Saul was afraid of David (1 Samuel 18:12) – don’t be surprised if your abuser is afraid of something he/she sees in you that undermines their identity in some way and so to keep you under their feet, lashes out in abuse. Again, escape for your life!
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Bottomline, when the one who’s supposed to ‘love you greatly’, starts eye-ing you and feels the need to destroy you in whatever form, please do yourself a big favour and move out. Imagine if David stayed because he was more impressed with or had his identity in being Saul’s armour bearer or son-in-law than in saving his life, a good portion of the Psalms we now pray and worship with would not be there, nor would we have had David’s life as an example of a GOD-worshipper.
Being in a relationship or marriage is not by force. Marriage is not meant to make you a martyr. I haven’t seen that anywhere in my Bible. Remember Proverbs 21:9 says it’s “better to dwell in a corner of the housetop, than with a contentious woman.”