WEEK 39, Day 5, Friday, 30 September 2022


Observations from today’s readings and today’s S-WOD, Friday, 30 September 2022:

2 Samuel 4:1-6 — When we partner with the ungodly, we set ourselves up for pain and destruction.

2 Samuel 4:10-12 — …when one told me, ‘Behold, Saul is dead,’ and thought he was bringing good news, I seized him and killed him at Ziklag, which was the reward I gave him for his news.  How much more, when wicked men have killed a righteous man in his own house on his bed, shall I not now require his blood at your hand and destroy you from the earth?”  And David commanded his young men, and they killed them and cut off their hands and feet and hanged them beside the pool at Hebron. But they took the head of Ish-bosheth and buried it in the tomb of Abner at Hebron.

“What kind of king should rule in Israel?  That is one of the pressing questions in 1 and 2 Samuel, and the answer comes through the contrast between David and Saul.  The true king of Israel will not take the law of God into his own hands and obey it only insofar as he sees fit.  Instead, the true king of Israel will obey the Lord’s commandments, trusting in God for victory (1 Sam. 13:8–15; 15:1–30; 17:1–54).  The true king of Israel will not seize the throne by taking advantage of his predecessor in moments of weakness, but he will wait for the Lord to deliver it into his hands (chs. 24; 26).  The true king of Israel will not look to necromancers for guidance but will attend to the lawful means of discerning God’s will (chs. 28; 30).  The true king of Israel will honor his promise not to harm those whom he has lawfully sworn to protect (2 Sam. 3:26–39).

Today’s passage shows that the true king of Israel will pursue justice for those are killed unlawfully.  We read in 2 Samuel 4 about the end of Ish-bosheth, the son of Saul whom Abner had made king over the northern tribes of Israel (2:8–11).  The first thing to notice is how weak Saul’s descendants were at this point.  Ish-bosheth lost his courage when he heard about the death of Abner, who was apparently the true power behind the son of Saul (4:1).  The text also mentions Mephibosheth, the son of Jonathan and grandson of Saul.  He was crippled in his feet (v. 4).  Essentially, no one was left to challenge David for the throne of Israel.  All potential rivals were effectively powerless.

This made what Baanah and Rechab did to Ish-bosheth all the more cold-blooded.  Saul’s former captains entered the home of Ish-bosheth while he was resting and murdered him, bringing his head to David (vv. 2–3, 5–8).  Clearly, they thought that they would get a reward from David for killing his enemy (v. 8).  However, these foolish men did not understand that David did not see Saul’s house as his enemy.  Moreover, Ish-bosheth had done nothing worthy of death.  So David repaid their murder with capital punishment, which is the penalty required by the Mosaic law (vv. 9–12; Gen. 9:6; Num. 35:31).

Note also that Baanah and Rechab appealed to the will of God to justify their act (2 Sam. 4:8).  They used the name of the Lord to try to show the righteousness of a cause that God never gave them.  It is a great sin indeed to claim divine warrant for something God has not commissioned.  May we never claim the Lord’s will for our actions except when it is clearly revealed in Scripture.

Matthew Henry warns us about those who ‘under color of religion, murder princes, break solemn contracts, lay countries waste, hate their brethren, and cast them out.’  The murderers of Ish-bosheth used the pretense of service to the king to do great evil. Let us not use the pretense of service to Christ to justify acts of evil, thinking that good ends justify evil means.” (Ligonier Ministries)

Hebrews 12:1-4 –Run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.  Consider him who endured from sinners such hostility against himself, so that you may not grow weary or fainthearted. In your struggle against sin you have not yet resisted to the point of shedding your blood.

Sin is compared to extra weight carried by an endurance runner – it sucks the strength out of you and makes you a loser.  Abandoning sin and worldly distraction is an act of faith by someone focused on Jesus.  A follower of Jesus is ready to suffer and has no shame.  A faithful Christian is a runner ready to win the endurance race of life.

From Henry T. Blackaby — Sin is our most persistent, determined, and pernicious enemy.  Sin seeks to rob us of every good thing God has designed for us.  Paul tells us that sin brings death (Rom. 7:11).  Yet it is very subtle.  Sin creeps into our lives when and where we least expect it.  It packages itself so attractively that we are lulled into thinking that it cannot really harm us (2 Cor. 11:14-15).  Sin stealthily and relentlessly entangles our lives.  We will never be able to run the race marked out for us as long as we are entrapped in sin.  We free ourselves from sin’s only if we recognize it for what it is.  If we call sin a “mistake,” a “bad habit,” or a “weakness,” we will never escape its grasp.  We must not blame our sins on others.  We must not allow pride to convince us it is too humiliating to admit the sin in our lives.  Sin can blind us to its presence.  It does not always command our attention but rather, it subtly and pervasively robs us of the spiritual power and victory that could be ours.  The good news is that there is no extent to which sin can entangle us that God’s grace does not abound still more to free us (Rom. 5:20).  Has sin robbed your joy?  Has it prevented you from being the best husband, wife, son, daughter, or friend you could be?  Is it keeping you from spiritual maturity?  If you have become entangled with sin, God can release you immediately, no matter how desperately entangled you may have become!

Do you have godly joy?  Joy (not happiness or pleasure) enabled Jesus to endure the cross.  The author of Hebrews reminds us that our struggles against the temptations of sin are nothing compared to what Jesus joyfully suffered on our behalf.  If we are struggling to resist sin, we have a joy problem which is, at its roots, a love problem. John said, “For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments.  And his commandments are not burdensome.” (1 John 5:3)  If we find His commandment s to be burdensome, we need to examine the condition of our heart.

Hebrews 12:6 – For the Lord disciplines the one he loves, and chastises every son whom he receives.

From Henry T. Blackaby — There is a tendency among Christians to view anything unpleasant that happens to them as the result of “spiritual warfare.”  When a difficulty arises, many immediately ask God to remove their distress.  The problem is that their predicament may have nothing to do with Satan or with spiritual warfare.  It may appear far more glorious for us to explain our hardships as Satan’s determined attacks against us, rather than admitting that we are merely reaping what we have sown and are being disciplined by our heavenly Father (Gal. 6:7).  What is often mistaken as Satan’s attack may actually be chastisement from our loving Father.  If you have neglected your role as spiritual teacher to your children, God may allow them to fall into sin.  If you have been dishonest at work, God may correct you by letting you face the consequences.  It would be foolish to pray that God would ease your discomfort.  God is disciplining you in order to gain your attention and bring necessary change to your life.  How tragic never to make the connection between your problems and God’s discipline.  God’s discipline will not help you if you dismiss it as Satan’s doing or spiritual warfare.  Not every hardship you face is the chastisement of God, but Scripture indicates that God will discipline you.  If you misunderstand God’s chastening, you may actually blame Him for not answering your prayers or failing to protect you from Satan.  Meanwhile, God is warning you of the danger you face because of your sin.  Are there difficult circumstances in your life?  Could it be the discipline of God? God, whose nature is perfect love, will correct you because He has your ultimate good in His heart.

Hebrews 12:7 — It is for discipline that you have to endure.  God is treating you as sons.  For what son is there whom his father does not discipline?

The Bible gives you a completely different perspective on suffering and says that we should be thankful for it.  Let the suffering God is allowing you to endure teach you and grow you to be more like Jesus.

Hebrews 12:8 – If you are left without discipline, in which all have participated, then you are illegitimate children and not sons.

Some who claim to be followers of Christ are illegitimate.  How they treat those who mistreat them is the proof of their faith.

Hebrews 12:10, 11 – He disciplines us for our good, that we may share his holiness.  For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.

God intends for your suffering to build you up in holiness and righteousness, but not everyone is willing to be trained by the pain of suffering.

Hebrews 12:12, 13 – Therefore lift your drooping hands and strengthen your weak knees, and make straight paths for your feet, so that what is lame may not be put out of joint but rather be healed.

No more pity parties.  Quit whining and focusing on how hard your life is.  Toughen up and stop complaining about what God has allowed to happen to you. Get moving, and start serving God.

Hebrews 12:14 — Strive for peace with everyone, and for the holiness without which no one will see the Lord.

“Strive” is a powerful word that implies maximum effort.  How badly do you want to see the LORD?  God wants you to work hard to get along with those who are hard to get along with and to seek holiness that you would truly fellowship with Jesus, truly know Him.

Hebrews 12:15 – See to it that no one fails to obtain the grace of God; that no “root of bitterness” springs up and causes trouble, and by it many become defiled. 

From Henry T. Blackaby — Bitterness has a tenacious way of taking root deep within the soul and resisting all efforts to weed it out.  Bitterness occurs for many reasons.  It might come from deep hurts you received as a child, hurts you cannot forget.  Time, rather than diminishing the hurt, only seems to sharpen the pain.  Bitterness can result from the hurtful words of a friend or coworker.  Often the person who hurt you is unaware of the extent of your bitterness.  You find yourself rehearsing the offense over and over again, each time driving the root of bitterness deeper within your soul.  Bitterness can derive from a sense of being unjustly treated.  Bitterness is easy to justify.  You can get so used to a bitter heart that you are even comfortable with it, but it will destroy you.  Only God is fully aware of its destructive potential.  There is nothing so deeply imbedded in your heart that God’s grace cannot reach down and remove it.  No area in your life is so painful that God’s grace cannot bring total healing.  No offense committed against you is so heinous that God’s love cannot enable you to forgive.  When you allow bitterness to grow in your life, you reject the grace of God that can free you.  If you are honest before God, you will admit the bitterness and allow God to forgive you.  Bitterness enslaves you, but God is prepared to remove your bitterness and replace it with His peace and joy.

Compare Hebrews 12:16 with Proverbs 25:28

“Cross” Fit S-WOD (Spiritual Workout of the Day) – 30 September 2022:  Practice suffering and enduring maltreatment, returning only forgiveness and love as an act of worship and love for Jesus.  Allow suffering to further conform you to the image of Jesus Christ. (Hebrews 12)

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