David’s men said to him, “This is the day about which the Lord said to you, ‘I will give your enemy into your hand, and you can do to him whatever seems appropriate to you.’” So David got up and quietly cut off an edge of Saul’s robe.

[1 Sam 24:4 NET]

So far as we know, the Lord had not said this at all. The men put their own interpretation on the opportunity, and called it providential. We are all too apt to interpret providences in accordance with our own wishes. When we are desiring to be led in a certain manner, and there is one way we desire very much to take–we are quite sure to find providences that seem to favor our preference.

But opportunity does not always indicate duty. When the merchant by mistake gives back a dollar too much change, there is an opportunity to make a dollar; but who will say that we ought to accept it? When you find in trouble, one who has done you a wrong, there is an opportunity to have revenge. But does the opportunity justify retaliation? The duty in the former case is honesty, arid in the latter is the showing of love to an enemy.

In reading providences, we must remember that no opportunity to do anything in itself wrong–is ever to be regarded as a divine leading. It is a sin to take revenge, no matter how much our enemy deserves punishment, or how good a chance we have for punishing him. It is a sin to steal, even though an opportunity makes it very easy to do it. God leads us by his providence–but never into sin!

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