2 SAMUEL 3
Sometimes it’s difficult to make a statement about God from a chapter in the Bible that doesn’t really mention God at all. However, in this particular chapter, one of the small (and often overlooked) events really stood out to me, and I realized it was a great opportunity to draw a contrast between our type of "justice" and God’s justice.
"David sent messengers to Ish-Bosheth son of Saul, demanding, 'Give me my wife Michal, whom I betrothed to myself for the price of a hundred Philistine foreskins.' So Ish-Bosheth gave orders and had her taken away from her husband Paltiel son of Laish. Her husband, however, went with her, weeping behind her all the way to Bahurim. Then Abner said to him, 'Go back home!' So he went back." (vs 14-16)
Do you ever remember hearing about Paltiel son of Laish before? This poor guy gets one teeny mention in Scripture, but what a sad story he headlines! When I read this part of 2 Samuel 3, it almost broke my heart. I envisioned this poor man, totally in love with his wife, weeping all along the journey, knowing that he has no choice but to obey the order of the king.
Is this justice? David had, indeed, been betrothed to Michal, and Saul had done the wrong thing by taking her away from David and giving her to Paltiel. However, so many years had gone by since that injustice—and David had obviously moved on. This chapter alone chronicled the six sons that were born to him by six different wives. David apparently had no problem finding women.
So, for me, the question is: did Saul’s injustice to David warrant David’s injustice to Paltiel? Could we say that justice was served in this situation? Is this God’s kind of justice?
I can’t say that I have an answer for those questions. I do believe that David didn’t do the right thing by taking Michal away from her husband, but I can’t say that I know what would have been a just outcome for David—since Saul had done the wrong thing to him. But I feel quite confident in saying that I don’t believe this is how God would have achieved justice in this situation. I say that because I don’t believe that God’s justice is retributive, but restorative. I don’t think His brand of justice would have benefited one man at the expense of another.
Often, we describe "justice" as having a retributive component, because that’s mostly what we’re confined to in our sinful context. But God has ways of restoring what has been taken from us that involve nothing but good for everyone involved. I don’t know how He does that, and I can’t say that I know what that would or should look like in every situation...but I do know that God’s justice is different from ours. For He is equally concerned with all affected parties.