Observations from today’s readings and today’s S-WOD, Sunday, 20 November 2022:
2 kings 9:22 – And when Joram saw Jehu, he said, “Is it peace, Jehu?” He answered, “What peace can there be, so long as the whorings and the sorceries of your mother Jezebel are so many?”
“Justice, it seems, has fallen on hard times in our day. According to divine revelation, the principle of retribution should govern how crime is punished (Ex. 21:23–25). However, more often than not, rehabilitation is the primary driver of the modern criminal justice system. Attempts to rehabilitate offenders are often prized above ensuring that they receive a just punishment for their crimes. Our modern culture is so averse to biblical justice that many people have trouble with the Old Testament. Retributive justice appears again and again in the history of old covenant Israel.
We see this in today’s passage. King Joram (or Jehoram) of Israel, the son of Ahab, had been injured in a battle against Syria and had gone to the city of Jezreel so that he could recover (2 Kings 9:14–15; see 3:1). Jehu, seeing an opportunity to fulfill his calling to put an end to Ahab’s line and become king of Israel, told his army not to announce in Jezreel that he had been anointed king in place of Joram, and he set out for Jezreel (9:13–16). Seeing Jehu’s approach, Joram sent emissaries to find out if Jehu was coming in peace, but they joined Jehu when they learned he would attack Joram (vv. 17–20).
Finally, Joram himself went to meet Jehu, along with his friend and ally King Ahaziah of Judah (v. 21; not the same Ahaziah as the earlier king of Israel described in ch. 1). King Ahaziah had been visiting Joram at Jezreel (9:16), and the king of Israel wanted help in case Jehu was against him. So, Ahaziah and Joram met Jehu at Naboth’s vineyard, where years earlier Elijah had predicted that Ahab’s line would end and that Ahab’s son would be killed at the very place Ahab and Jezebel stole from Naboth, whom Jezebel had murdered (1 Kings 21:1–24). At that place, Joram was killed for “the whorings and the sorceries of… Jezebel”—a reference to Jezebel’s leading Israel away from the Lord and into idolatry and the dark arts of sorcery (2 Kings 9:21–26; see Deut. 18:10; Ezek. 16:1–58; Hos. 1:2–3). Then, Jehu killed King Ahaziah of Judah, another idolater (2 Kings 9:27–29; see 8:25–27). Finally, Jehu executed Jezebel, fulfilling Elijah’s prophecy about her (9:30–37; see 1 Kings 21:23).
Many modern people might be horrified at all this bloodshed, but what happened to Joram of Israel, Ahaziah of Judah, and Jezebel was just. All of them had committed capital crimes such as idolatry and murder (Gen. 9:6; Deut. 13; 18:9–14). They were repaid what they deserved. They received retributive justice.
Matthew Henry comments on today’s passage that we must “see the end of pride and cruelty, and say, The Lord is righteous.” It is good and right when criminals receive the punishment they deserve. We must not let our empathy for them keep us from pursuing justice when it is right to do so. We can even forgive them, but that does not mean that we ignore the demands of justice.” (Ligonier Ministries)
Psalm 134:1 – “Come, bless the Lord, all you servants of the Lord, who stand by night in the house of the Lord!”
God seeks worshippers whose worship never stops, who worship in spirit and in truth 34/7, 365. Even still, make sure you go to church today.
Psalm 134:3 – May the LORD bless you from Zion, he who made heaven and earth!
Listen to this short devotional from David Platt on Psalm 134:3 — https://radical.net/podcasts/pray-the-word/the-lords-blessing-psalm-1343/#:~:text=Psalm%20134%3A3%20Finds%20Joy,all%20of%20these%20different%20things.
Psalm 135:1, 5 – Praise the Lord!… For I know that the Lord is great.
The more you really understand how great God is, the more you will genuinely desire to praise 35:6 — Him. If your worship and praise are flat, return to the knowledge of the greatness, love, mercy, and grace of God.
Psalm 135:6 – Whatever the LORD pleases, he does, in heaven and on earth, in the seas and all deeps.
“The psalm begins by calling us to praise the Lord: Praise the Lord. Praise the name of the Lord. Then, starting in verse 3 the psalmist gives us reasons for why we should feel praise rising in our hearts toward God. It says, for example (verse 3), “Praise the Lord, for the Lord is good.” The list of reasons for praise goes on until it comes to verse 6, and this is the verse I want to focus on: “Whatever the Lord pleases he does, in heaven and on earth, in the seas and all deeps. ‘
Psalm 115:3 says the same thing: “Our God is in the heavens; he does whatever he pleases. Always Free, Never Constrained.” This verse teaches that whenever God acts, he acts in a way that pleases Him. God is never constrained to do a thing that he despises. He is never backed into a corner where his only recourse is to do something he hates to do. He does whatever he pleases. And therefore, in some sense, he has pleasure in all that he does.
These texts and many others should lead us to bow before God and praise his sovereign freedom — that in some sense at least he always acts in freedom, according to his own “good pleasure,” following the dictates of his own delights.
God never becomes the victim of circumstance. He is never forced into a situation where he must do something in which he cannot rejoice. He is not mocked. He is not trapped or cornered or coerced.
Even at the one point in history where he did what in one sense was the hardest thing for God to do, “not spare his own Son” (Romans 8:32), God was free and doing what pleased him. Paul says that the self-sacrifice of Jesus in death was “a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God” (Ephesians 5:2). The greatest sin and the greatest death and the hardest act of God was pleasing to the Father.
And on his way to Calvary Jesus himself had legions at his disposal. “No one takes my life from me; I lay it down of my own accord” — of his own good pleasure, for the joy that is set before him. At the one point in the history of the universe where Jesus looked trapped, he was totally in charge doing precisely what he pleased — dying to justify the ungodly like you and me.
So let us stand in awe and wonder. And let us tremble that not only our praises of God’s sovereignty but also our salvation through the death of Christ for us, hang on this: “Our God is in heaven; he does whatever he pleases.”
Proverbs 20:1 — Wine is a mocker, strong drink a brawler, and whoever is led astray by it is not wise.
The Bible does not forbid the drinking of alcohol, just drinking in excess. However, the Bible gives us a higher calling to “walk” in love and not to do anything that would cause another to stumble — “If your brother is grieved by what you eat, you are no longer walking in love…. For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking but of righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit…. it is wrong for anyone to make another stumble…. (Romans 14:13-23).” America has an alcohol problem, and many people around you struggle with alcohol. Is your employment of your freedom to drink alcohol normalizing or promoting a behavior that leads others astray? Yes, you are your brother’s keeper.
Proverbs 20:3 — It is an honor for a man to keep aloof from strife, but every fool will be quarreling.
Don’t be a fool and get involved in quarrelling. Have you ever, through sound wisdom and gifted speech convinced a fool of anything? Fools are people who refuse to hear and learn, who are controlled by emotions and passion. Stay away from pointless arguments that only distract people from the Gospel. You are an ambassador for Christ, not for good ideas, current standards of morality, social customs, or politics. Proclaim Jesus and stay above the fray.
Proverbs 20:5 — The purpose in a man’s heart is like deep water, but a man of understanding will draw it out.
Understand what a person really cares about, what is at the center of his life, and what is the primary source of his motivation, and you can predict very accurately what he will say and do. And you can discern if the path he is on is taking him to where he really needs to go, which is closer to Jesus. Most people are unconsciously and subtly deceptive (to themselves and others) in their words and behavior, saying, displaying, and often doing things that they don’t really mean — smiling when inside they are upset, asking others how they are doing when really they don’t care, saying they want to do something when they really don’t, or saying they don’t want to do something when they really do. Many communicate deception because in their hearts they believe the truth is unacceptable. It takes patient discernment to see beyond the façade or masks people wear to understand the deep waters of a person’s heart, and ultimately, only the Holy Spirit can show you something about a person that is impossible for you to see through human discernment. So, the first step is to pray for Holy Spirit enabled discernment and to love others enough to move past the superficial.
Proverbs 20:24 – A man’s steps are from the Lord; how then can man understand his way?
You really have no idea what God has in store for you, but you know that His plan for you is perfect, motivated by His perfect love, and greater than you could possibly imagine. Trust, obey, and have peace.
“Cross” Fit S-WOD (Spiritual Workout of the Day) – 20 November 2022: Make your list of how God has blessed you in your life, and share it with others today.