Observations from today’s readings and today’s S-WOD, Thursday, 29 September 2022:
2 Samuel 3:14-16 — “Then David sent messengers to Ish-bosheth, Saul’s son, saying, ‘Give me my wife Michal, for whom I paid the bridal price of a hundred foreskins of the Philistines.’ And Ish-bosheth sent and took her from her husband Paltiel the son of Laish. But her husband went with her, weeping after her all the way to Bahurim. Then Abner said to him, ‘Go, return.’ And he returned.”
Today continues the theme of denying self and taking up your personal cross daily for sake of the Gospel. Unfortunately, David gives us an example of how NOT to display the grace of God:
Background: The story of David and Michal begins in 1 Samuel 18 when king Saul promised Michal in marriage to David as a prize for an attack against the Philistines (1 Samuel 18:24-27). David defeated the Philistines in battle, and Michal was given to him as a wife. However, shortly after that, king Saul, who sought to kill David out of jealousy, gave Michal to another man, Paltiel son of Laish. David spent many years running from Saul and over the years had other wives and children. However, when Saul died and David prepared to step into his rightful position as king, he orders that Michal be brought back to him forcibly, apparently without her desire or consent and with no regard for Paltiel who truly loved Michal and was devastated by David’s actions.
David pursued his own rights without consideration of the collateral damage inflicted upon others. David’s actions were not motivated by love but rather by pride. He demanded his rights (which also served to legitimize his claim to the throne) at the expense of compassion and grace. David broke a man’s heart to get what he wanted, and consequently, he never again had the respect or love of Michal.
- 1 Corinthians 10:11 — “Now these things happened to them as an example, but they were written down for our instruction, on whom the end of the ages has come.”
David’s story, along with all the other Old Testament stories, were recorded for our instruction, providing both positive examples and, in this case, negative examples. How do you think David could have handled this differently?
Much of the Christian life, is surrendering our rights for the sake of grace — denying self, taking up the cross (accepting persecution for the sake of grace), and truly following the selfless, sacrificial example of Jesus.
- 1 Corinthians 10:24 — “Let no one seek his own good, but the good of his neighbor.”
- 1 Corinthians 10:32, 33 — “Give no offense…. please everyone…. not seeking [your] own advantage, but that of many, that they may be saved.”
Don’t let your behavior stand in the way of the message of Christ. Beyond our actions, our motive must always be love. Doing the right things with the wrong motives is sin for you.
Hebrews 11:5 – By faith Enoch was taken up so that he should not see death, and he was not found, because God had taken him. Now before he was taken he was commended as having pleased God.
“Your relationship with God is largely determined by your faith. When you come to Him, you must believe that He exists and that He is exactly who He has revealed Himself to be in Scriptures. You must also believe that He will respond to you when you earnestly seek Him. Without this kind of faith, you cannot please God. Regardless of the morality of your life, the good works you perform, the words you speak, or the sacrifices you make for His sake, if you do not have faith, you will not please Him. It can be tempting to substitute religious activity for faith in God. Christians may claim they are being “good stewards” of their resources when, in fact, they are wanting to walk by sight rather than by faith (Heb. 11:1). They may refuse to do what God tells them unless they can see all the resources in place first.
You may say, “I love God, but I just have difficulty trusting Him.” Then you are not pleasing to Him. You cannot struggle at the core of your relationship with God and still enjoy a vibrant fellowship with Him! Faith does not eliminate problems. Faith keeps you in a trusting relationship with God in the midst of your problems. Faith has to do with your relationship with God, not your circumstances. Some may say, “I’m not much of a person of faith. I am more of a practical person!” Yet you will never do anything more practical than to place your trust in the Lord! Nothing is more secure or certain than that which you entrust to God.” (Henry T. Blackaby)
Hebrews 11 lists Gideon, Jephthah, and Samson in the “Hall of Fame of Faith,” as men who “were made strong out of weakness (Hebrews 11:34).” These were all men who had been uniquely and mightily empowered by God but let pride, lust, and self-centeredness get the best of them. They failed to guard their hearts – “Keep your heart with all vigilance, for from it flow the springs of life (Proverbs 4:23).”
An uninspired book written by men for the sake of a false religion would have made these “heroes” out to be both mighty and noble in character, men who through their merit and great works achieved their salvation before God. However, the inspired word of God intentionally reveals the truth of these men, the truth of our sinful condition, the truth of God’s holiness, mercy, grace, love and righteousness, the truth of our total insufficiency and reliance on God’s mercy and grace, and the truth of our need to walk by the Spirit in obedience and not by the flesh. Judges also reveals the reality of spiritual decline among an unrepentant people who attempt to define ethics for themselves and do what is “right in their own eyes” rather than holding to God’s standard – things erode from bad to worse over time.
Samson was set apart as a Nazarite (Numbers 6) for a great mission, and he was mightily empowered by God for God’s purposes. However, although empowered by the Spirit, Samson did not walk by the Spirit but rather walked in the flesh, (Galatians 5:16-26) recklessly pursuing self-gratification, never asking God, “What is to be [my] manner of life, and what is [my] mission (Hebrews 13:12)?” He stubbornly and irrationally pursued his own passions.
Notice in our readings today that, while his parents had personal, powerful encounters with God, there is no recorded dialogue between Samson and God, no prayer life, no concern for God’s word. It wouldn’t be long before Samson broke every vow of the Nazarite and committed many other sins too. And it would appear his parents had no influence over him.
In today’s readings, he marries a Philistine woman (forbidden by God in Deuteronomy 7) because he was attracted to her (Judges 14:3). He eats honey out of the carcass of a dead lion, even offering honey to his parents, blatantly defying the Nazarite requirement not to touch the dead, and he is driven by fits of rage and “hot anger” (see Galatians 5:20). Though God would still accomplish His purposes through Samson, despite Samson’s blatant infidelity, the consequences of Samson’s behavior would be needlessly devastating to him and to others around him. Already, Samson has lost his first wife — “And Samson’s wife was given to his companion, who had been his best man (Judges 14:20).”
What can be confusing in our readings is the fact that Samson’s improper marriage was “from the Lord” (Judges 14:4) and that despite Samson’s incredible sin, the Spirit continued to empower him. Is God condoning or overlooking sin? Did God intend for Samson to sin? No. The Bible is clear that “God cannot be tempted with evil, and He Himself tempts no one.” (James 1:13) Also, “Do not be deceived: God is not mocked, for whatever one sows, that will he also reap.” (Galatians 6:7) God used the truth of Samson’s bad character and the inevitable fruit of Samson’s blatant disregard for God’s commands and God’s call on his life to reveal truth and expose sin. Notice that when the Spirit empowers Samson it is either to protect Samson or to bring destruction upon the Philistines, not to enable sin. As we shall see, God doesn’t overlook Samson’s sin at all – Samson will soon be driven to his knees; but God doesn’t abandon Samson either, not because of Samson’s fidelity (which is non-existent) but because of God’s fidelity. The truth can be revealed through people in a positive way or a negative way; either way, God is glorified. I pray that we will walk by the Spirit, not by the flesh, that the Truth will be revealed to a watching world through our lives in a very positive way. If you are a Christian, you have been saved by grace through faith in Jesus, not by your works and good deeds; so you have no reason to boast in your own merit. However, to enjoy the gift which you have received through Jesus, you must “abide” in Him by loving Him, obeying Him, and bearing the fruit of His Spirit in your life. (See John 15 and 1 John 3, 4) Don’t deny the Spirit, quench the Spirit, grieve the Spirit, or get out of step with the Spirit by treating God’s grace carelessly.
“Cross” Fit S-WOD (Spiritual Workout of the Day) – 29 September 2022: Today, pray that God will reveal to you where compromise might be robbing you of God’s blessings, hindering your joy in Him, and hindering your witness to others.