Observations from today’s readings and today’s S-WOD, Saturday, 24 December 2022:
1 Chronicles 19:3 — “Do you think, because David has sent comforters to you, that he is honoring your father? Have not his servants come to you to search and to overthrow and to spy out the land?” So Hanun took David’s servants and shaved them and cut off their garments in the middle, at their hips, and sent them away….
We can misinterpret others’ motives and actions when we view them from a position of fear, doubt, and our own sinful motives, and this may cause us to act sinfully towards them – needless quarrels start that can be very destructive. Love calls us to give others the benefit of the doubt when acts of kindness are offered. Remember, only God truly knows the heart of another person. Be careful not to assume the worse of others.
Let’s review our discussion on this account which we read previously 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 before seeking to 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.
1 Chronicles 19:6 – When the Ammonites saw that they had become a stench to David, Hanun and the Ammonites sent 1,000 talents of silver to hire chariots and horsemen from Mesopotamia, from Aram-maacah, and from Zobah.
It is far easier to admit you are wrong and apologize than to try to defend your defenseless position. Demonstrate humility and settle matters quickly before they escalate out of control. “The beginning of strife is like letting out water, so quit before the quarrel breaks out.” (Proverbs 17:14)
1 Chronicles 19:13 — Be strong, and let us use our strength for our people and for the cities of our God, and may the Lord do what seems good to him.
God wants you to be strong, powerful, and successful, but not for yourself, but rather for others. Great strength is found in the spirit of a person fighting for God, family, friends, and those in need. Victory is always in the hands of the LORD. Who would want to fight against Him? If what you are fighting for is not from God, you are fighting in vain.
1 Chronicles 19:15 – And when the Ammonites saw that the Syrians fled, they likewise fled before Abishai, Joab’s brother, and entered the city. Then Joab came to Jerusalem.
Fear can be very contagious, even among God’s people.
Psalm 147:1 — Praise the LORD! For it is good to sing praises to our God; for it is pleasant, and a song of praise is fitting.
Singing praises to God is a healthy habit you should develop. Learn Christian songs to sing to yourself throughout the day to keep your spirits up and to keep you focused.
Psalm 147:6, 11 – The Lord lifts up the humble; he casts the wicked to the ground…. but the Lord takes pleasure in those who fear him, in those who hope in his steadfast love.
The Lord blessed the humble and curses the prideful. The world honors the prideful and views humility as weakness.
The wicked are those who have not humbled themselves before the Lord, surrendering to His rule and His sovereignty over their lives – the wicked are in rebellion.
“Rebellion is the inborn tendency to give in to the lies of autonomy, self-sufficiency, and self-focus. It results in a habitual violation of God-given boundaries. Autonomy says, ‘I have the right to do what I want when I want to do it.’ Self-sufficiency says, ‘I have everything I need in myself, so I don’t need to depend on or submit to anyone.’ Self-focus says, ‘I am the center of the world. It is my right to live for myself and to do only what brings me happiness.’ These are the lies of the Garden, the same lies Satan has whispered in generation after generation of willing ears. They deny our basic makeup as human beings. We were not created to be autonomous. We were designed to be in daily submission to God and to live for His glory. Living outside this design will never work. Independence, self-sufficiency and self-absorption lead us to think of ourselves first and to climb over the fences between ourselves and our desires. We want control and hate being controlled. We want to make up the rules and change theme whenever it suites us. Essentially we want to be God, ruling the world according to our will. No matter what else we are rebelling against, our rebellion is ultimately directed at God. We refuse to recognize His authority, robbing him of his glory and usurping his right to rule.” (Paul David Tripp)
We want a Savior, but we often don’t want a Lord and Savior. However, to love Him is to fear Him and to obey Him. One is impossible without the other.
Psalm 147:20 — They do not know his rules.
The rules in the Bible are not merely a list of dos and don’ts intended to control your behavior. They are intended to help you understand the ways of God, to help you develop the mind of Christ, to help convict you of sin, to help you appreciate the grace and mercy you have received, to change your heart, and to draw you closer and closer to Jesus. God intends for us to follow His commands, but he doesn’t want just your duty, but rather your heart. God wants us to truly love Him to the point where the rules become a non-issue because you naturally obey. Jesus was the model of obedience to the rules, and Jesus said, that He did not come to abolish the law, but rather to fulfill it. Pure love obeys naturally without the need of rules. You don’t need a law to tell you to do what you love doing or not to do what you hate doing. If your heart is right, the rules are not needed, but where your heart is not right, the rules become a needed guide and control to keep you from sinning.
God expects all nations to obey His rules, and He punishes those who don’t.
Proverbs 24:10 — If you faint in the day of adversity, your strength is small.
Strength is developed over time when you don’t need it but revealed when you do need it. If you didn’t invest in your strength during peace, you won’t have it when you need it in crisis. When your faith is tested, then you will reveal how much you have invested in personal spiritual development.
Proverbs 24:11, 12 — Rescue those who are being taken away to death; hold back those who are stumbling to the slaughter. If you say, “Behold, we did not know this,” does not he who weighs the heart perceive it? Does not he who keeps watch over your soul know it, and will he not repay man according to his work?
God has given you the responsibility to intervene in the lives of those around you to help keep them from the destructiveness of sin. If you do nothing, God will hold you accountable.
Proverbs 24:16 — …for the righteous falls seven times and rises again, but the wicked stumble in times of calamity.
The righteous fall too, but their response glorifies God by revealing His strength in them.
Proverbs 24:17, 18 — Do not rejoice when your enemy falls, and let not your heart be glad when he stumbles, lest the Lord see it and be displeased, and turn away his anger from him.
If want those who in some way offend you to “get what’s coming to them,” you have lost sight of the grace you have received and have made the Cross a small thing; you have denied your mission of reconciliation; and you have placed yourself in opposition to God.
Proverbs 24:19 — Fret not yourself because of evildoers, and be not envious of the wicked.
From the beginning of the Bible through the end, God warns us not to be concerned by or enamored with the ungodly — treat people with the respect that they deserve, but fear and respect God first and foremost.
Proverbs 24:21, 22 — My son, fear the Lord and the king, and do not join with those who do otherwise, for disaster will arise suddenly from them, and who knows the ruin that will come from them both?
God expects you to obey the law, unless that law would cause you to disobey Him.
Proverbs 24:24, 25 — Whoever says to the wicked, “You are in the right,” will be cursed by peoples, abhorred by nations, but those who rebuke the wicked will have delight, and a good blessing will come upon them.
Do not compromise the truth simply to get along with others. Be willing to rebuke those who are wrong.
Proverbs 24:26 — Whoever gives an honest answer kisses the lips.
The loving thing to do is to tell the truth in love — this is “true love”.
Proverbs 24:27 – Prepare your work outside; get everything ready for yourself in the field, and after that build your house.
A biblical principle is to do the hard thing first. Always do what you have to do before what you want to do. This is a good rule to live by and helps avoid procrastination. Have you ever considered procrastination is unbiblical?
Proverbs 24:29 — Do not say, “I will do to him as he has done to me; I will pay the man back for what he has done.”
Leave your personal justice to God. Be a minister of mercy and grace. As the recipient of mercy and grace, you have no right to do otherwise. Civic justice is another matter.
Proverbs 24:32 — Then I saw and considered it; I looked and received instruction.
Be wise enough to learn from the mistakes of others rather than having to learn the hard way from your own bad decisions. Wisdom, in part, is understanding what you haven’t personally experienced.
“Cross” Fit S-WOD (Spiritual Workout of the Day) – 24 December 2022: Humbly obey God’s word today, and consider deeply where obedience was difficult for you and why. Consider this verse: “For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments. And his commandments are not burdensome.” (1 John 5:3) Discern where you are still not perfected in love, where obedience remains a burden rather than a joy, and pray that God will help you surrender more and more to His love. Love makes obedience easy and joyful. Is that your experience with forgiveness, giving, and suffering?