Observations from today’s readings and today’s S-WOD, Saturday, 19 May 18:
1. 2 Samuel 9:8 — “What is your servant, that you should show regard for a dead dog such as I?” The appropriate response to grace is humility.
2. Today in 2 Samuel 10, David sends a delegation to king Hanun to console him concerning the recent death of his father. Hanun, the young, inexperienced, poorly advised king of the Ammonites misinterprets David’s gesture of kindness, believing it to be a trick, and responds by publicly humiliating and dishonoring David’s envoys. The result is a pointless war between the Israelites, Ammonites and Syrians where over 40,000 people needlessly die. It is not at all hard to understand why Hanun acted the way he did: sending spies as envoys is a common tactic, and David’s modus operandus included this sort of deception. Remember in 1 Samuel 27, king Achish trusted David while David was secretly massacring villages within his land, leaving “neither man nor woman alive to bring news to Gath.” (1 Samuel 27:11) During the death of a king and the subsequent transition to new leadership, a kingdom is very vulnerable, and Hanun surely felt insecure and defensive. A wiser David would have recognized the sensitivity of the situation and would have dealt with Hanun more carefully; but David, rather than considering Hanun’s perspective, assumed that Hanun would see things from his perspective, a big mistake we often make in our relationships. Hanun on the other hand reacted to David’s poorly timed gesture rashly, likely due to his insecurity as a new king. Insecurity makes people defensive and often causes them to assume the worst in others. Insecurity can destroy relationships. Hanun did one of the worse things someone can do in a relationship, he belittled, embarrassed, humiliated and dishonored David and his men. He robbed them of their dignity. In this case, neither party had the maturity, self-confidence, or moral courage to seek forgiveness and reconciliation. It continued to escalate into great destruction. The first rule in relationships is to seek first to understand rather than be understood. We must be sensitive to the vulnerabilities and insecurities of others. If we have offended someone, we must quickly seek forgiveness, restitution and reconciliation, even if the other party is not wholly innocent. If we have been offended, we must quickly forgive and seek reconciliation. “If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all.” (Romans 12:18) “ Aim for restoration, comfort one another, agree with one another, live in peace; and the God of love and peace will be with you.” (2 Corinthians 13:11) Finally, we must NEVER dishonor or humiliate another person, but rather treat all people with dignity and respect.
3. 2 Samuel 10:5 — “When it was told David, he sent to meet them, for the men were greatly ashamed. And the king said, ‘Remain at Jericho until your beards have grown and then return.’” Good leaders protect the dignity of others.
4. 2 Samuel 10:6, 7 — “When the Ammonites saw that they had become a stench to David, the Ammonites sent and hired the Syrians of Beth-rehob, and the Syrians of Zobah, 20,000 foot soldiers, and the king of Maacah with 1,000 men, and the men of Tob, 12,000 men. And when David heard of it, he sent Joab and all the host of the mighty men.” Misunderstandings can escalate into tremendous destruction. “The beginning of strife is like letting out water, so quit before the quarrel breaks out.” (Proverbs 17:14)
5. 2 Samuel 10:9-15 — Joab used the tactics of interior lines, forming a defensive circle in order to quickly maneuver within his interior to mass his forces against the more dispersed, thinner lines of his adversaries. He also exploited the weakness that forces of an alliance have in their inability to effectively reinforce one another. Much later in history, Napoleon would gain great success from implementation of these same tactics. Simply stated, Joab was good at what he did, and God used Joab’s talents for God’s purposes. God calls us to be excellent at whatever we put our hands to, and He will likewise use our talents for His purposes. When our talents bring us victories, make sure you give God all the glory. It is a terrible thing to try to share God’s glory.
6. 2 Samuel 10:18 — “David killed of the Syrians the men of 700 chariots, and 40,000 horsemen, and wounded Shobach the commander of their army, so that he died there.” All this and much more because Hanun humiliated David’s servants. Don’t miss the lessons in this powerful story, which has been recorded in the bible for you – “Now these things happened to them as an example, but they were written down for our instruction.” (1 Corinthians 10:11)
7. Proverbs 19:2 — “Desire without knowledge is not good, and whoever makes haste with his feet misses his way.” Think before you act.
8. Proverbs 19:3 — “When a man’s folly brings his way to ruin, his heart rages against the LORD.” Don’t blame God for your poor decisions and self-induced problems. Rather turn to God in repentance, and walk in obedience.
9. Proverbs 19:6, 7 – “Many seek the favor of a generous man, and everyone is a friend to a man who gives gifts. All a poor man’s brothers hate him; how much more do his friends go far from him!” People often approach friendship selfishly, choosing friends based on what the friend can do for them. People often approach their relationship with God the same way. How would you be treated by your friends if you had nothing left to offer them (including emotional benefits)? How would you treat a friend who could no longer offer you anything, not even the benefit of encouragement? How much does the quality of your relationship with God depend upon His blessings upon you? If God removed the blessings, would you love Him just the same?
10. Proverbs 19:11 — “Good sense makes one slow to anger, and it is his glory to overlook an offense.” When offended, are you glorious or inglorious, sensible or senseless?
11. Proverbs 19:21 — “Many are the plans in the mind of a man, but it is the purpose of the Lord that will stand.” Such an important verse! Isaiah 55:8, 9 says, “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.” The key to life success and fulfillment is to align our thoughts and ways with God’s thoughts and ways, but contrary to popular secular humanist teachings which have crept into even much modern theology, we cannot do this on intellect alone. A better education won’t do it. “The natural person does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are folly to him, and he is not able to understand them because they are spiritually discerned.” (1 Corinthians 2:14) The key is to truly “know” Jesus, which was His final recorded prayer for us recorded in John 17 – “’For who has understood the mind of the Lord so as to instruct him?’ But we have the mind of Christ.” (1 Corinthians 2:16) This is your goal in life. Know Jesus and make Him known.
12. Proverbs 19:21 — Trust the LORD with all of your circumstances. Focus on walking in obedience and faith rather than worrying about what is going to happen next. Faith is trusting God now, enough to obey at the moment of decision; hope is trusting God with the future.
13. Proverbs 19:24 – “The sluggard buries his hand in the dish and will not even bring it back to his mouth.” Knowledge without action is worthless. True theology is not conceptual but rather applied. There may be much about the Bible you don’t understand, but if you apply what you do understand, you will have a tremendous impact on the world for God’s glory. Start with unconditional forgiving and giving and see what happens.
14. Psalm 58:3-6, 10 — “Even from birth the wicked go astray, from the womb they are wayward and speak lies. Their venom is like the venom of a snake, like that of a cobra that has stopped its ears, that will not heed the tune of the charmer, however skillful the enchanter may be…. Break the teeth in their mouths, O God…. The righteous will be glad when they are avenged.” The Bible says that we are all born sinners, trapped in sin; in fact, dead in sin, powerless to escape sin and to have spiritual life. There is no human remedy to sin, and no amount of education or social engineering can solve our sin problem. Will power can’t overcome sin, nor can laws. Only God can free us from sin and give us spiritual life and salvation through His Son, Jesus Christ. We can only be saved by faith in Jesus Christ, not by any human action and not through any other religion. None of us deserved salvation, but God gave it freely, while we were still sinners. So, isn’t it ironic that while living in a state of grace, totally reliant on God’s mercy, we demand justice be imparted on those who have offended us or hurt us? We proclaim mercy while demanding personal justice – how can this be? When we start to mistake righteous through Christ for self-righteousness, we have a serious problem. Key to love, faithfulness, forgiveness and compassion is having a right perspective on the condition from which we have been saved and the love we have received from the God who saves us.
– “I tell you, her many sins have been forgiven – for she loved much. But he who has been forgiven little loves little (Luke 7:47).”
– “If anyone returns evil for good, evil will not depart from his house. The beginning of strife is like letting out water, so quit before the quarrel breaks out (Proverbs 17:13, 14).”
“Cross” Fit S-WOD (Spiritual Workout of the Day) – 19 May: As you walk in the freedom and confidence of grace today, freely give grace to others today as an act of faith, gratitude, and worship. Deny self, take up your cross, and follow Jesus in spirit AND in truth. Practically apply your theology. Fully accept your life mission as Christ’s Ambassador and as His reconciler. It takes faith to freely forgive and freely give to others who don’t deserve it; it takes a humble spirit that appreciates having received the unmerited gift of eternal life through Jesus. As you respond to circumstances and to other people today, consider your perspective – who is Jesus really to you? How you respond reveals what you truly believe to be true.