Occasionally, loyalty is mentioned in a positive way—even in an age of “tell-all” books—but overall it seems not to be regarded as highly as it was in decades past. Its value is stated in a negative way in Proverbs 17:13: “Whoever rewards evil for good, evil will not depart from his house.” The meaning is that God expects a person to deal kindly in return to the one who has practiced kindness toward him. A person may have unselfishly helped another with his time or money; it is not appropriate for that kind-hearted soul who sowed generosity to reap abuse. The ungrateful person will suffer as a result of it.
Several instances of this principle come to mind. David and his men had served as a wall to Nabal’s servants by night and day, according to one of his own servants (1 Sam. 25:16). David kept him safe, but did Nabal return even so much as an ounce of gratitude? No. He rebuffed and repudiated David outright and refused to donate any share of the harvest to his benefactor. His house would have suffered evil immediately had Abigail, Nabal the fool’s wise wife, not intervened. Due to her earnest efforts to keep her house from being harmed, only her husband died after God struck him.
David himself was not so fortunate when he rewarded faithfulness and loyalty with cruelty. Actually, David repaid both the goodness of God and the conscientious Uriah with evil. Uriah was such a faithful soldier that he refused, during a time of war, to return home and enjoy marital privileges while his fellow-soldiers were fighting for the kingdom. Therefore, David sent a message with Uriah to his commander, Joab, which turned out to be his own death sentence. David repaid evil for good because he desired Uriah’s wife. He also ignored the goodness of God who had given the king so much. Nathan, who rebuked David, said that by this action he despised the Lord. Although Proverbs 17:13 had not yet been written, Nathan informed David that the sword would never depart from his house (2 Sam. 12:8-10).
The history of David’s sons is indeed tragic. One (Amnon) forced himself upon his sister and was subsequently killed by their brother (Absalom). Then he eventually led a civil war against his own father David but was killed, much to the king’s sorrow. Another son (Adonijah) was put to death when Solomon began to reign because he wanted the kingdom for himself. Solomon observed firsthand the fulfillment of evil not departing from David’s house. Proverbs are sayings that are generally true; some exceptions might exist, but do we really want to take the chance on having to pay the price for disloyalty?