Observations from today’s readings and today’s S-WOD, Wednesday, 12 October 2022:
2 Samuel 16:3 — And the king said, “And where is your master’s son?” Ziba said to the king, “Behold, he remains in Jerusalem, for he said, ‘Today the house of Israel will give me back the kingdom of my father.’”
Not everyone will return your mercy, grace, and kindness. Don’t be surprised, discouraged, or disheartened; just do what you know you are supposed to do.
2 Samuel 16:12 –It may be that the LORD will look on the wrong done to me, and that the LORD will repay me with good for his cursing today.
How you respond to people who hurt you reveals what you really believe about God’s Sovereignty and justice and how much you really value God’s love, mercy, and grace upon which you rely. Jesus said we reveal His love in us and our love for Him when we love our enemies –
- Luke 6:27-36 — But I say to you who hear, Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who abuse you. To one who strikes you on the cheek, offer the other also, and from one who takes away your cloak do not withhold your tunic either. Give to everyone who begs from you, and from one who takes away your goods do not demand them back. And as you wish that others would do to you, do so to them. If you love those who love you, what benefit is that to you? For even sinners love those who love them. And if you do good to those who do good to you, what benefit is that to you? For even sinners do the same. And if you lend to those from whom you expect to receive, what credit is that to you? Even sinners lend to sinners, to get back the same amount. But love your enemies, and do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return, and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High, for he is kind to the ungrateful and the evil. Be merciful, even as your Father is merciful.
- Luke 7:47 — Therefore I tell you, her sins, which are many, are forgiven—for she loved much. But he who is forgiven little, loves little.”
- Matthew 6:12 — …and forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors….
- Colossians 3:13b — …as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive.
- 1 John 4:16 — So we have come to know and to believe the love that God has for us. God is love, and whoever abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him.
- 1 John 4:12 — No one has ever seen God; if we love one another, God abides in us and his love is perfected in us.
In our readings today, David is fleeing Jerusalem in complete public humiliation due to his own son’s conspiracy against him, resulting from David’s failures as a husband, father, and leader – “…weeping as he went, barefoot and with his head covered. And all the people who were with him covered their heads, and they went up, weeping as they went.” (2 Samuel 15:30) Then, at perhaps the lowest point in his life, it gets worse:
“There came out a man of the family of the house of Saul, whose name was Shimei, the son of Gera, and as he came he cursed continually. And he threw stones at David and at all the servants of King David, and all the people and all the mighty men were on his right hand and on his left. And Shimei said as he cursed, ‘Get out, get out, you man of blood, you worthless man! The Lord has avenged on you all the blood of the house of Saul, in whose place you have reigned, and the Lord has given the kingdom into the hand of your son Absalom. See, your evil is on you, for you are a man of blood.” (2 Samuel 16:5-8)
How would you have responded to Shimei’s taunts, cursing and literal stone throwing? Perhaps your inclination would have been much like David’s men — “Why should this dead dog curse my lord the king? Let me go over and take off his head.” (2 Samuel 16:9) However, David’s response in his humility is much different – “If he is cursing because the Lord has said to him, ‘Curse David,’ who then shall say, ‘Why have you done so?’’ And David said to Abishai and to all his servants, ‘Behold, my own son seeks my life; how much more now may this Benjaminite! Leave him alone, and let him curse, for the Lord has told him to. It may be that the Lord will look on the wrong done to me, and that the Lord will repay me with good for his cursing today.” (2 Samuel 16:10-12)
Consider the difference between David’s response to Shimei and David’s previous response to Nabal in 1 Samuel 25 — “Every man strap on his sword!… God do so to the enemies of David and more also, if by morning I leave so much as one male of all who belong to him.” David previously responded to Nabal’s insults with hot-headed pride, but now David’s pride has been replaced with humility, and on this occasion, David’s response reflects the Beatitudes and resembles a more Christ-like reaction to persecution. Here, David acknowledges the Sovereignty of God in every situation and recognizes His complete dependence on God’s mercy and grace. In his lowly state, David pens Psalm 3 – “O Lord, how many are my foes! Many are rising against me; many are saying of my soul, ‘There is no salvation for him in God.’ But you, O Lord, are a shield about me, my glory, and the lifter of my head.” (Psalm 3:1-3) Humbly trusting in God, David doesn’t seek vengeance —
- Romans 12:17-21 — Repay no one evil for evil, but give thought to do what is honorable in the sight of all. If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all. Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.” To the contrary, “if your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink; for by so doing you will heap burning coals on his head.” Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.
- Hebrews 10:30 — For we know him who said, “Vengeance is mine; I will repay.” And again, “The Lord will judge his people.”
- 1 Thessalonians 5:15 — See that no one repays anyone evil for evil, but always seek to do good to one another and to everyone.
Pride straps on the sword, but humility and faith forgive, trust in God’s provision, and overcome evil with good. Has God placed any Shimeis in your life? Do you respond to them in pride or in humble, gracious faith? Can you see your experiences through the lenses of the Cross and Romans 8:28-29?
Unfortunately, the story of David and Shimei doesn’t end with David’s positive example in today’s readings. We will see in our future readings that David eventually directs his son Solomon to kill Shimei for what Shimei did to him — “And there is also with you Shimei the son of Gera, the Benjaminite from Bahurim, who cursed me with a grievous curse on the day when I went to Mahanaim. But when he came down to meet me at the Jordan, I swore to him by the Lord, saying, ‘I will not put you to death with the sword.’ Now therefore do not hold him guiltless, for you are a wise man. You will know what you ought to do to him, and you shall bring his gray head down with blood to Sheol.” (2 Kings 2:8, 9) David harbored resentment for the rest of his life, resentment which led to death.
Have you ever offered forgiveness but inwardly harbored resentment? Where resentment remains, pride remains, and pride hurts, destroys, and grieves the Holy Spirit (Ephesians 4:30; 1 Thessalonians 5:19; Galatians 5:25). In David’s case, he not only held on to his resentment but passed the consequences on to the next generation. If your forgiveness is limited or superficial, if you refuse to give grace to those who offend you, you have lost sight of the grace upon which your salvation rests, and you have made light of Christ’s sacrifice. You have become self-righteous, forgetting that apart from the grace of Christ and His righteousness credited to you, you are morally and spiritually bankrupt (Matthew 5:3). You will only truly forgive when you are truly amazed by the grace you have received through Christ, when you truly appreciate His love for you which went to the cross on your behalf though you did nothing to deserve such love and didn’t even want it, while you were still at enmity with the Almighty. You won’t fully and joyfully forgive from the depths of your heart until the love of Christ compels you (2 Corinthians 5:14-16). You won’t truly forgive others until you love Jesus so much that you care about others the way He does, until you are overwhelmed by the fact that He loves your offenders so much, He went the cross for them too. You won’t truly forgive others until you are willing to take up your cross (in your relationships) in love (love for God and for your offenders) in the hope that your offenders will come to know Jesus better (Luke 9:23; 2 Corinthians 5:18-19).
- 2 Corinthians 5:14-16 — For the love of Christ controls us, because we have concluded this: that one has died for all, therefore all have died; and he died for all, that those who live might no longer live for themselves but for him who for their sake died and was raised. From now on, therefore, we regard no one according to the flesh.
- Luke 9:23 — And he said to all, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me.”
- 2 Corinthians 5:18-21 — All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation; that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation. Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us. We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.
It is one thing to forgive someone outwardly for your moral credit (“I did the right thing, and I feel good about myself, and I surely earned God’s favor….”), and it is quite another thing to truly forgive someone from your heart for their credit and for God’s glory (“I want to show this person the love of Christ so they will come to know the Savior I know the way I know Him…. Forgive this person, Lord, for he doesn’t know what he is doing.”). Forgiveness for your credit may appear humble and righteous, but it is prideful and self-serving; it is the sort of superficial self-righteousness Jesus condemned in the Pharisees. Forgiveness for the sole benefit of the recipient, at your complete expense, to God’s glory is loving and genuine.
You may be struggling to forgive someone and may be praying for the ability to forgive the way God called you too – “Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.” (Ephesians 4:32) If we are to learn how to forgive as Jesus did, we must consider what inspired Him to forgive as He did. How could Jesus wash the feet of the disciples (an act of humble servitude) knowing they would all abandon Him at his darkest hour and knowing one of them would turn Him in to the authorities to be crucified? Well, John 13 tells us that Jesus faced his offenders with the assurance that “the Father had given all things into his hands, and that he had come from God and was going back to God.” (John 13:3) We often have a hard time forgiving because we feel like we need to defend our rights or may fear losing something important to us, tangible or intangible. However, Jesus responded to His offenders with sacrificial love, in part, because His confidence rested upon the immeasurable riches and security He had in the Father. Likewise, we can respond to those who offend us with sacrificial kindness and forgiveness because of the riches and security we have in Christ. It is far easier to truly forgive when you realize you have nothing to lose and everything to gain –
- Romans 8:31-39 — What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things? Who shall bring any charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies. Who is to condemn? Christ Jesus is the one who died—more than that, who was raised—who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us. Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword? As it is written, “For your sake we are being killed all the day long; we are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered.” No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.
“… [Forgive] as God in Christ forgave you…. Take up [your] cross daily and follow [Jesus].” If we are to love and forgive like Jesus, we must “[look] 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.” (Hebrew 12:2) Jesus’ love for the Father and for those who the Father loved was so great, the joy of reuniting others with His Father overpowered the shame of being wrongly accused, cursed, abused, and even executed. In fact, suffering for the sake of the Father and for sinners was His “joy” and His goal (“set before Him”). To truly forgive, we must truly love, and to truly love, we must abide (remain, live) in God who is Love, who is the source of all love. Apart from Christ there is no real love, no real forgiveness. If you are struggling with forgiveness in any way, draw nearer to Jesus until loving and forgiving your enemies becomes your joy and ambition.
- 1 John 4:12, 16 — No one has ever seen God; if we love one another, God abides in us and his love is perfected in us…. So we have come to know and to believe the love that God has for us. God is love, and whoever abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him.
- Colossians 3:12-15 — Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony. And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful.
- Philippians 2:1-11 — So if there is any encouragement in Christ, any comfort from love, any participation in the Spirit, any affection and sympathy, complete my joy by being of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind. Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.
2 Samuel 16:20 — “Then Absalom said to Ahithophel, ‘Give your counsel. What shall we do?’”
Absalom trusted in the counsel of a godless man rather than seeking counsel from God. Ahithophel counseled Absalom to sin greatly.
1 Peter 2:2, 3 — Like newborn infants, long for the pure spiritual milk, that by it you may grow up into salvation— if indeed you have tasted that the Lord is good.
A real encounter with God leaves you craving more, never fully satisfied.
1 Peter 2:5, 6 — You yourselves like living stones are being built up as a spiritual house, to be a holy priesthood. Behold, I am laying in Zion a stone, a cornerstone chosen and precious.
You are a stone that can’t fulfill its purpose unless it is connected and oriented to the Cornerstone (Jesus) and unless it is also connected tightly to the other stones (fellow Christians). There is no space between temple stones, and they each have their own unique place, support one another, and make each other strong, secure, immovable. The isolated Christian who is not united with the church family, the body of Christ, is not fulfilling his/her purpose and is not properly connected with the Cornerstone of Jesus, regardless of what he/she might think. We learn to love Jesus more and more primarily through strong, tight connections with family and the church body. No temple stone is independently special but rather gains value with the others. Every stone in the temple has its unique position, and they are all required for the integrity of the building. A stone that is missing or out of place is a sore sight to the Architect.
Paul uses another analogy, the human body, to describe how essential it is for us to be fully united with fellow Christians – “For just as the body is one and has many members, and all the members of the body, though many, are one body, so it is with Christ…. The eye cannot say to the hand, ‘I have no need of you,’ nor again the head to the feet, ‘I have no need of you.’” (1 Corinthians 12:12, 21) What a gory and shocking scene it would be to discover a dismembered human body. Yet, many are not horrified to see Christians disconnected from their local church.
Some Christians don’t attend church or hardly participate in church community because they don’t like some of the people in the church, perhaps considering them to be hypocritical, unloving, or perhaps simply immature. However Paul explains that even these challenging people are vital to the health of the body – “The parts of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable, and on those parts of the body that we think less honorable we bestow the greater honor, and our unpresentable parts are treated with greater modesty, which our more presentable parts do not require. But God has so composed the body, giving greater honor to the part that lacked it, that there may be no division in the body, but that the members may have the same care for one another. If one member suffers, all suffer together; if one member is honored, all rejoice together.” (1 Corinthians 12:22-26) The church body not only helps protect us from ourselves, but it also teaches us how to love those who are hard to love, to grow in Christ-like love – “For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same?” (Matthew 5:46) When we share the love of Christ with those within our church community who “need it,” we not only have the opportunity to help them grow, we will also likely discover that we were the ones who needed to grow in the love of Christ all along and that God was using everyone in the body to develop us.
- John 17:22, 23 — The glory that you have given me I have given to them, that they may be one even as we are one, I in them and you in me, that they may become perfectly one, so that the world may know that you sent me and loved them even as you loved me.
Unity is only possible when all of the stones are aligned with and connected to the Cornerstone, Jesus. Today, many people seek unity — unity in principles, ideas, culture, creed, nationality, etc., in order to achieve peace, but true unity can only be achieved around the Person of Jesus Christ (see John 17), and apart from Jesus, there can be no peace.
1 Peter 2:8 — They stumble because they disobey the word.
Don’t let anyone tell you that obedience to the word has been nullified by grace. Grace doesn’t cancel God’s word but rather empowers you, for the first time, to truly obey it in love rather than seeking to justify yourself through prideful obedience or self-justified disobedience. In fact, if you pursue obedience pridefully, you have already disobeyed the Great Commandment and the First Commandment.
1 Peter 2:9 — But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light. Once you were not a people, but now you are God’s people; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.
You are a priest on earth. Are you a good priest, or do you still think that is someone else’s job? Priests may benefit from more education, but seminary is not a prerequisite to fulfill your calling from God.
The Bible redefines race. Do you see yourself as part of the Christian race? Do you see yourself as a priest? Do you, first and foremost, identify yourself as part of the ‘holy nation’? Do you see your primary calling on earth as proclaiming “the excellencies of him who called you out of the darkness into his marvelous light”? Are you united with the people of God? Do you see Christians as ‘your people’, regardless of man-made social stratifications? If not, why not? God has called you to “seek first the Kingdom.” God’s Kingdom is now. Today, in Jeremiah, God says, “Let not the wise man boast in his wisdom, let not the mighty man boast in his might, let not the rich man boast in his riches, but let him who boasts boast in this, that he understands and knows me, that I am the Lord who practices steadfast love, justice, and righteousness in the earth. For in these things I delight, declares the Lord.” (Jeremiah 9:23) Likewise, Jesus said, “And this is eternal life, that they know you the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent.” (John 17:3) Do you not understand that eternal life does not start when you die but rather started the moment you first knew Jesus? Do you not understand that the Kingdom of God is, in part, His people on earth awaiting for the triumphant return of Jesus from the Kingdom of Heaven to reign on a new earth with his servants?
- 2 Peter 3:13 — But according to his promise we are waiting for new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells.
- Revelation 21:1-4 — Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more. And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God. He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.”
- 2 Timothy 2:12 — if we endure, we will also reign with him; if we deny him, he also will deny us;
- Revelation 20:6 — Blessed and holy is the one who shares in the first resurrection! Over such the second death has no power, but they will be priests of God and of Christ, and they will reign with him for a thousand years.
“If you are a Christian, you are a priest, chosen by God. As a member of the royal priesthood you have constant access to the King. If there is ever a need in your life, you don’t have to find an intermediary or enlist another priest in order to gain a hearing from the King. Your position as a royal priest allows you direct access. This privilege describes your position as a priest. However, priests also have a function. It is the responsibility of a priest to work within a priesthood. Scripture does not promote the practice of individual priests, each with a separate ministry. Rather, priests function together (Lev. 9:1). An unbiblical sense of individualism can isolate you from functioning within God’s royal priesthood as He intended. The priest represents God to the people, but he also takes the people’s concerns to God. Is there someone around you who desperately needs the intercession of one of God’s priests? Perhaps someone will only come to know God by seeing Him in your life. Our world hungers for an expression of Christ as He really is, living out His life through His people. It is dangerous to put our job above our calling by God. We are called to be priests first, and to hold a job second. When we get these out of order, everyone around us is denied access to the Father through us. God may have called you into a secular job as a vocation, but more importantly He has appointed you to be one of His royal priests.” (Henry T. Blackaby)
1 Pet 2:10-12 — But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light. Once you were not a people, but now you are God’s people…. Beloved, I urge you as sojourners and exiles to abstain from the passions of the flesh, which wage war against your soul. Keep your conduct among the Gentiles honorable, so that when they speak against you as evildoers, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day of visitation.
Again, our nationality is Christian; our race is Christian. Our national mission is the proclaim Christ. We are strangers and ambassadors to earthy kingdoms.
How you act either brings credit to God or discredits God. How terrible is it to misrepresent the God you were made to serve and to reveal to others?
1 Peter 2:17 — “Honor everyone.”
Honor who? Everyone. This is not hard to understand.
1 Peter 2:19 — For this is a gracious thing, when, mindful of God, one endures sorrows while suffering unjustly.
When we suffer maltreatment from the unjust, we demonstrate the grace of God which is the foundation of our salvation. Don’t resent persecution but consider it an act of worship and an opportunity to fellowship with Jesus.
1 Peter 2:22-24 — He committed no sin, neither was deceit found in his mouth. When he was reviled, he did not revile in return; when he suffered, he did not threaten, but continued entrusting himself to him who judges justly. He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. By his wounds you have been healed.
Jesus said that if we truly wanted to know Him, to “come after” Him, we must deny self, take up our cross daily, and follow Him. This means we remain pure and obedient through life’s trials, and that we trust God with our fate through persecution, retuning only love, mercy, and grace to those who mistreat us, always pointing the offender to Jesus. Your goal for an offensive person is to show them Jesus with true love in your heart. Jesus is our example, and we must always remember as we are being persecuted that Jesus died on a cross for us though we did not deserve and though we had not even repented yet but rather remained in our sin. It is one thing for someone to dishonor you; it is quite another thing for you to dishonor the Creator of the Universe, the LORD Almighty, something you have done time and time again and continue to do. Jesus died on a cross for you. Are you more deserving of justice than Jesus? How can you demand justice for yourself while relying on mercy and grace from God? Think deeply on this today, and “live” by grace by showing grace.
“Cross” Fit S-WOD (Spiritual Workout of the Day) – 12 October 2022:
Pray that God will reveal to you where you still might be holding on to some resentment, and pray that God will give you such an appreciation for His grace that you will be compelled to truly forgive as you have been forgiven. If you need to forgive or to seek forgiveness from someone, settle the issue today without delay –
- Matthew 6:14-15 — For if you forgive others their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you, but if you do not forgive others their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.
- Matthew 5:23-26 — So if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there before the altar and go. First be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift. Come to terms quickly with your accuser while you are going with him to court, lest your accuser hand you over to the judge, and the judge to the guard, and you be put in prison. Truly, I say to you, you will never get out until you have paid the last penny.
Also, strengthen your bonds with your Cornerstone and fellow ‘temple stones,’ the people of your spiritual nation. Remember Jesus’ prayer to the Father for you – “…that they may be one even as we are one, I in them and you in me, that they may become perfectly one, so that the world may know that you sent me and loved them even as you loved me.” (John 17:22, 23)