Now the Lord raised up an adversary against Solomon, Hadad the Edomite; he was a descendant of the king in Edom. And God raised up another adversary against him, Rezon the son of Eliadah, who had fled from his lord, Hadadezer king of Zobah.
In his book Pain: The Tool of the Wounded Surgeon, Philip Yancey reminds us that pain can serve a definite purpose in our lives. He cites Dr. Paul Brand, one of the world's foremost experts on leprosy, who worked on the mission field with lepers for years. Dr. Brand observed that "leprosy patients lose their fingers and toes, not because the disease causes decay, but precisely because they lack pain sensations. Nothing warns them when water is too hot or a hammer handle is splintered. Accidental self-abuse destroys their bodies." They need pain to alert them to danger.
God uses distressing situations much the same way. Solomon needed to be alerted to his headlong rush into sin, so God used pain. To inflict that pain, God raised up adversaries who would harass and torment this sin-numbed king until he would turn and repent. God did not plague Solomon in order to punish him but to keep him from the destruction of sin.
The Lord uses this same approach with us today. When one of His children becomes desensitized to sin, God allows painful circumstances to intervene sometimes by way of an adversary. The writer of Hebrews says, "Now no chastening seems to be joyful for the present, but grievous; nevertheless, afterward it yields the peaceable fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it" (12:11). Adversaries can be the hand of God's blessing in disguise.
If you have an adversary, treat him or her as a God-given gift. Ask the Lord to reveal to you what issues He would have you be aware of through the chastising ministry of this individual. Take heed to your adversary, and let God protect you from self-destruction. See your adversary as God's means of sensitizing you to danger and defeat.
A good adversary is as valuable as a good friend.