Category Archives: 2017 – July/Aug

The Kindness of David — Jake Sutton

No one owes you anything. You also owe no one anything. Let us be honest with each other for a moment and come to the realization that there is no earthly reason for any of us to do any good whatsoever.

Yet we as members of the body of Christ don’t live by earthly tutelage. The readers who see my words in this article most likely  “live by the Spirit” (Gal. 5:25). Thus we understand that goodness first originated from God and His marvelous benevolence (Mk. 10:18). David the psalmist wrote, “Thou art good, and doest good; teach me thy statutes” (Psa. 119:68). It is from this verse and others like it that we examine the obedient faith of one soul who accepted such statues and applied it to his own life, even in darker days. Thus we know, as God’s elect, that we are very much in debt to every man in bestowing the good news of Christ (1 Cor. 9:19). Going back to our initial thought of goodness, may we make some observations.

Goodness Is The Fruit Of God

I grew up in the North Georgia foothills in the city of Adairsville. The Cherokee natives called it Oothcalooga.  They deemed it very prosperous to grow crops of all sorts because the ground was so fertile. Altitude-wise, Adairsville is the lowest point between Chattanooga and Atlanta. If there were such a thing as the “middle of town” we would be it. Horticultural folks will tell you that this would be a wonderful place for one to grow crops. The Cherokee didn’t know the altitude factor, but the “fruit” of the land bore witness to that fact. My point is this: goodness is the “fruit” from which we ascertain God’s benevolence.

Outside of Christianity, there are what the world will call “good ole Joe’s,” people who were in a good moral climate and go around doing good deeds. The reason for this is because the world is so permeated with the effects and influence of the Gospel. Most folks know the “Golden Rule” but they don’t trace it to our Lord’s words in Luke 6:31. They are good folks but biblically do not know our Lord. As the Holy Spirit would say, they “aren’t known of God” (Gal. 4:9) because they haven’t come to obedient faith of the knowledge of God (2 Cor. 10:5).

Kindness is something every person can observe from God’s creation (Rom. 1:19-23) and those created in His image (Gen. 1:26). We can clearly see His consistent love in making a world and her inhabitants live and have their being by the word of His power (Heb. 1:3). God has providentially loved us and shows unending kindness and not one honest person will deny that fact. With that in mind, we cannot be excused from exercising kindness to our fellow man in any regard. Even if you withhold a physical blessing from a man who will not work (2 Thess. 3:10), you are still to do so with kindness. Keeping their souls salvation in mind, we are commanded to deal with them in meekness (Gal. 6:1).

David showed us this in his treatment with the house of Saul during David’s reign as Israel’s earthly king. David asked the question in 2 Samuel 9:1: “…Is there yet any that is left of the house of Saul, that I may show him kindness for Jonathan’s sake?” With that question, you and I are reminded of the love that David had for Jonathan and that Jonathan had for David. These men had an affection for each other that was deeply rooted in trust and honor. It was evident that this was the case because it was custom for the king of a new dynasty to massacre those in cohort with the previous. However, David was the game changer and didn’t follow the custom of man; he followed the custom of God. Not only for the Lord’s sake did he do this, but also for Jonathan’s. David took an oath and made a covenant on behalf of Jonathan’s family, that he wouldn’t allow them to be absent from the kindness the two had for each other (1 Sam. 20:14-15).

Cripple Over Crown

Our text of 2 Samuel goes on to show that there was one soul left unblessed who was of the house of Jonathan, Mephibosheth. This would turn out to be Jonathan’s son who became a paralytic by accident (2 Sam. 4:4). For the faithful today, we have mighty men and women who are battle tested in the fires of spiritual war and we have a code of honor and trust with them like David and Jonathan. We consider those whom we can trust the best of friends; even their children are considered our own. An adopted nephew of David, Mephibosheth unfairly suffered physically because of the sin of Saul. David could have ended this poor soul’s life by living in the statutes of man, but chose rather to do favor to the cripple over his own crown.

David was simply reciprocating the kindness showed to him by God.  What a wonderful example to behold!  Are we not blessed with all spiritual blessings in Christ?  Yes (Eph. 1:3).  Are we as New Testament Christians crowned as priests and kings?  Yes (Rev. 1:6).  But just as Moses said to the children of Israel, we must not forget that we were once strangers (Ex. 22:21) and are to treat the people “without the camp” with kindness.  The first lesson to see here is that we were all spiritual Mephibosheths before coming to Christ.  And like Mephibosheth (2 Sam. 9:6), all we can do is pour out our soul and pledge allegiance to Christ by calling Him Lord (Acts 22:16) and giving our service to Him (Rom. 12:1). Recognizing we have nothing to offer for the Lord by merit, we are spiritually crippled (Matt. 5:3). Yet after dying in the waters of baptism, we rise to that newness of life (Rom. 6:4).  Like David, we bless others with the divine kindness bestowed to us. Who are we to withhold that from the world? May we never choose the decor of our own crown over the spiritual cripples in our lives.

Humiliation Over Honor

May we also like David suffer worldly humiliation for the cause of Christ. David had every worldly right and physical stature to walk into a room with a lame and defenseless man and slaughter the final member of the house of Saul for his own honor. Bystanders within and without the camp of Christ will speak with disgust over you showing kindness to the undesirables of the world. May we keep in mind that “all who live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution” (2 Tim. 3:12). The source of that persecution isn’t limited to our heathen friends but also includes members of the body. Some will gather their circles together and humiliate you and your name because you, like David, want to show the kindness of God to the weak of the world (2 Sam. 9:3).

Notice to where David gives credit the idea of kindness: the God of heaven! Take comfort in knowing that God will always give honor to His faithful ones and never to the proud ones (Matt. 6:1). Rest assured, those of us like David, when we take the worldly “low road” please know that  God considers it the “holy road.” Make no mistake about it. “The Lord knows them that are his” (2 Tim. 2:19). 

Jake preaches at the Moultrie congregation in Moultrie, GA.

 

 

 

 

The Cursing Benjamite — Dale Barger

It is quite interesting to consider the events which God preserved in His inspired Word. When you reflect on the many possible events throughout history, no doubt there are many happenings that have been lost to the annuals of time. However, God saw fit to preserve certain events in explicit detail even to the conversations that transpired. These have been preserved so that Christians can learn how God expects us to conduct ourselves in this life.

One such peculiar event is the interaction between King David and Shimei (2 Sam. 16:5-13; 19:15-23). David had been driven from Jerusalem by the attempt of Absalom to usurp the throne. As he reached Bahurim he encountered Shimei, a relative of Saul, who confronted him with cursing and false accusations. This event provides many lessons to Christians who seek to serve God acceptably.

Lesson #1:  Recklessness in Anger. Shimei approached the king and his mighty men in an aggressive fashion (2 Sam 16:5-7). Casting stones and cursing the king in the presence of his mighty men is foolish indeed….especially when you reflect upon these battle tested men and their accomplishments (cf. 2 Sam 23:8-39). Abishai, mentioned in verse 18 of that passage, was noted for having slain 300 men with the spear. Abishai desired to execute Shimei for his cursing. Shimei endangered his own life by foolish actions in anger.

Anger causes one to act foolishly. The wise man stated, “He that is soon angry dealeth foolishly…” (Prov. 14:17). Actions in anger are not what God desires to see of His children. James states, “For the wrath of man worketh not the righteousness of God” (James 1:20). How dangerous do our actions become when we lash out in anger? One often does things that harm others, damages our relationships and damages our reputation as well as the reputation of others. If you were to reflect on your life, how many times have you acted righteously when you were angry? We say and do things in anger that is contrary to the will of God. This event displays for us the folly of anger.

Lesson #2: We Are Not Alone. During this confrontation, David was probably at a very low emotional state. He was driven from his home by his own son who sought his life (2 Sam. 16:11). David had also left some of his family as well as some of his servants behind at Jerusalem. David perhaps thought that there was no one left one his side. The words of Abishai prove that he was still loyal to David. He was willing to eliminate the threat of Shimei against his king.

As Christians, we sometimes feel that we are alone. It may be an emotional time for us when things aren’t going our way. We need to be reminded that we have the family of God, the body of Christ with us on our side. Paul speaks of the body being many members yet one body (1 Cor 12:14). He further speaks how that all members of the body rejoice and all suffer together (1 Cor 12:26-27). Other passages likewise speak of multiple pieces making up the whole body (c.f. Eph. 4:16). These verses encourage Christians to realize that we are not alone. We have those on our side to help us when we are low and to strengthen when we are weak.

Lesson #3: Do Not Retaliate. How hard must it have been for King David to leave his capital city! His own son was seeking to depose him. How emotional David must have felt! Yet, David did not allow his emotions to cause him to act hastily. He could have easily commanded his mighty men to eliminate Shimei, which Abishai was desirous to do. However, he felt that this may have been a punishment sent from God. Notice David’s words: “What have I to do with you, ye sons of Zeruiah? So let him curse, because the LORD hath said unto him, Curse David. Who shall then say, Wherefore hast thou done so?” (2 Sam. 16:10). David was not going to stand and fight against God.  He realized the wastefulness of such an attempt. Had this cursing been from the Lord, David would have been fighting against God in retaliating against Shimei.

During the infancy of the Lord’s church conflict arose. As the council was seeking advice, a wise counselor told the Sanhedrin it was not possible to overthrow the work of God (Acts 5:34-39). If the church was a work of God they would be better not opposing the Lord.

David also was not going to retaliate against Shimei in hope that God would reward him (2 Sam 16:12). Even when things aren’t going our way it is never right to take our vengeance on others. Christian conduct demands a higher moral code. Paul taught, “If it be possible, as much as lieth in you, live peaceably with all men. Dearly beloved, avenge not yourselves, but rather give place unto wrath: for it is written, Vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord. Therefore if thine enemy hunger, feed him; if he thirst, give him drink: for in so doing thou shalt heap coals of fire on his head. Be not overcome of evil, but overcome evil with good” (Rom. 12:18-21). It may be a difficult thing to do; things may not be going well that day. However, David gives us a tremendous lesson in not seeking vengeance against our adversaries in this episode.

Lesson #4: Time for Humility. After David’s forces eliminated the threat of Absalom and even Absalom himself (cf. 2 Sam 18-1-17), David was called again to Jerusalem to sit on the throne. As David was returning, Shimei “hasted and came down with the men of Judah to meet king David” (2 Sam 19:16). Shimei approached the king with a different attitude and conduct in this meeting than previously. He realized the danger his conduct had placed him in and now sought forgiveness for his treachery. The record indicates that Shimei “fell down before the king as he was come over Jordan” (2 Sam 19:18). He wanted David to know that he felt differently and desired forgiveness. Shimei confessed, “Let not my lord impute iniquity unto me, neither do thou remember that which thy servant did perversely the day that my lord the king went out of Jerusalem, that the king should take it to his heart. For thy servant doth know that I have sinned: therefore, behold, I am come the first this day of all the house of Joseph to go down to meet my lord the king” (2 Sam. 19:19-20).

The confession of sin can be a difficult thing to do for those guilty of such prideful and arrogant actions as this man. However, he humbled himself before the king and his life was spared at this moment. Abishai however,  continued to plead with David that he should be executed for his sin of cursing the Lord’s anointed (2 Sam. 19:21).

Lesson #5: Time for Judgment.  Shimei was not punished by David at this time. David would not have that joyous occasion marred by the execution of Shimei. However, Shimei was not guiltless and would eventually be held accountable for his wickedness. As David was instructing Solomon of affairs concerning his kingdom, David gave Solomon notice of dealing with Shimei (1 Kings 2:8-9). As Abishai had pointed out Shimei was guilty of cursing the Lord’s anointed, David. Punishment was therefore in order. Solomon would place Shimei under restrictions which he would eventually violate and lead to his punishment.

As Christians, we learn from this that there are consequences for our actions. This makes the earlier discussion in this study so important. Just because emotions are high does not excuse our deeds of foolishness. We must ever be cautious to live according to the law of God. We will stand before God to give account of even the idle words that have been said (cf. Matt. 12:36-37).  If one speaks against the Lord’s Anointed, Jesus (Luke 4:18; Acts 10:38) and does not seek His forgiveness, he too will one day see punishment.

These lessons and a host of others can be gleaned from this episode between King David and Shimei. One thing is certain.  Mankind still faces the same struggles. We still fight the same urges. We still possess the same spirit as those who lived hundreds and thousands of years before our time. It is no wonder why God chose to preserve events such as this for our learning, “that we through patience and comfort of the Scriptures might have hope” (Rom. 15:4) and learn to live acceptably unto Him. 

Dale is a 2009 graduate of the Tri-Cities School of Preaching in Elizabethton, TN.  He preaches for the Wheeler Hill Church of Christ in Pikeville, TN.  Dale and his wife Lydia have three daughters.

 

 

Faith Shown In The Elah Valley — Jon Mitchell

The sun shines down on the valley of Elah.  The giant walks tall and proud close to the brook which meanders its way through the valley just north of Shochoh and northwest of Hebron.  Goliath stands at about nine and a half feet in height, the modern equivalent of the biblical record of “six cubits and a span” (1 Sam. 17:4).  James Coffman’s commentary on 1 Samuel cites John Willis’ estimation of the actual weight of Goliath’s armor.  With the bronze helmet on his head, the coat of bronze mail weighing “five thousand shekels” (17:5) or 125 pounds, the bronze armor on his legs, and the bronze javelin slung between his shoulders with a shaft “like a weaver’s beam” estimated to weigh 17 pounds and the head of the spear weighing in at “six hundred shekels of iron” (17:7) or 18 pounds, Coffman and Willis estimate that Goliath’s armor “probably weighed in the neighborhood of 200 pounds!”  It is definitely a physically formidable soldier who can fight so effectively while wearing such weight so as to be the champion of an entire army, which is exactly who Goliath was according to the inspired writer (17:4).  A champion soldier of the Philistines.  A confident killer.  A warrior who has successfully defied the entire army of Israel and struck great fear in their hearts (17:8-11, 23-24).

Facing him across the brook is the youngest of eight sons of an Ephrathite of Bethlehem in Judah, a patriarch named Jesse (17:12-14).  The king of the Israelites, Saul, correctly recognizes this youngest son of Jesse to be “but a youth” (17:33), a na`ar in Hebrew, a child, a lad, nothing but an adolescent boy of no older than twenty.  Unlike three of his older brothers, this boy is no soldier (17:13-14), a fact not lost on his oldest brother Eliab who incorrectly thinks his little brother to be a foolish lark only interested in seeing a battle (17:28).  The boy is likely tall in stature like his king, considering that he was able to fit into the king’s armor when it was offered to him.  Yet he is still no soldier, at least not a full-time, professional military man who is fully trained to fight; he is not even ready or able to successfully test out Saul’s armor (17:38-39).  Rather, he is a shepherd boy used to carrying a staff, shepherd’s pouch, and sling (17:40).  The only reason he came to the Elah valley this day is because he is his father’s errand boy, sent to bring food to his brothers and their commander and  then immediately return home with some token from them (17:17-18).  The boy’s name is David.

If you spent any decent amount of time in Sunday School as a child, you know what happens next.  The shepherd boy chooses five smooth stones from the brook and puts them into his pouch.  Sling in hand, he approaches the Philistine giant (17:40).  Goliath approaches David disdainfully, mocking the boy and cursing him by his gods, promising to use his carcass to feed the birds and animals (17:41-44).  David replies, “You come to me with a sword and with a spear and with a javelin, but I come to you in the name of the Lord of hosts, the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defied.  This day the Lord will deliver you into my hand, and I will strike you down and cut off your head.  And I will give the dead bodies of the host of the Philistines this day to the birds of the air and to the wild beasts of the earth, that all the earth may know that there is a God in Israel, and that all this assembly may know that the Lord saves not with sword and spear.  For the battle is the Lord’s, and he will give you into our hand” (17:45-47).

The two approach each other, David running quickly toward the battle line to meet Goliath while taking a stone from his bag, slinging it, and striking the Philistine on his forehead.   “The stone sank into his forehead,” killing him (17:49-50).  David then cuts off the giant’s head with Goliath’s own sword (17:50-51).  Seeing their champion dead, the Philistine army flees and is pursued by the Israelites “as far as Gath and the gates of Ekron” (17:52), both of which were important cities in the Philistines’ own country.

The Hebrew writer would later allude to David while writing of the faith of the people we read about in the Old Testament (Heb. 11:32).  When he wrote that “through faith” David and others were able to “escape the edge of the sword” (11:33), he might have had the encounter with Goliath on his mind.  This would be with good reason, for it certainly would require an enormous amount of faith in God to prompt anyone to go up against an immensely strong nine-foot-tall giant who “has been a man of war from his youth” (1 Sam. 17:33).  What was it that made David’s faith in God so strong?

Past Experiences

When Saul protested David’s intention to fight the giant, saying, “You are not able to go against this Philistine to fight with him, for you are but a youth, and he has been a man of war from his youth” (17:33), David replied that he had successfully killed both lions and bears as a shepherd defending his sheep (17:34-36).  Killing a hungry bear or lion is no small feat.  Both animals have been known to easily kill hunters who were likely stronger and more experienced than David.

David knew this.  He understood that it was not his own might and prowess that had delivered him from death from these predators.   Perhaps God had earlier bestowed upon David supernatural strength after his anointing when “the Spirit of the Lord rushed upon” him, similar to what the Lord had given Samson (16:13; cf. Judg. 14:6).  Another possibility would be that God had providentially cared for David while he was fighting these beasts.  Regardless of the methods used, David was confident enough of the Lord’s involvement in his deliverance from death to say to Saul, “The Lord who delivered me from the paw of the lion and from the paw of the bear will deliver me from the hand of this Philistine” (17:37).  He likewise told Goliath, shortly before he killed him, that “…the Lord will deliver you into my hand…” (17:46).

How could David have been so confident that God would protect him from death?  It was because he had remembered God’s promises.

God’s Promises

At some earlier point in time, Samuel had been sent by the Almighty to Jesse’s home because, as God told Samuel, “I have provided for myself a king among his sons” to replace Saul (1 Sam. 16:1).  After having had all of David’s older brothers pass by him and being told by Jehovah that none of them were His anointed, Samuel had asked Jesse if there were more sons available and was told that David, the youngest, was keeping the sheep (16:6-11).  After sending for him, the Lord told Samuel upon David’s arrival, “Arise, anoint him for this is he,” and Samuel did so (16:12-13).  From that day forward, the Spirit of the Lord was with David (16:13).

Thus, it is reasonable to conclude that David knew that he was God’s chosen anointed to replace Saul at some point.  Either Samuel had told him, or the Holy Spirit had somehow promised him that he would one day be king.  David therefore trusted God to keep his promise, so much so that he was willing to fight the giant Philistine while knowing that God would deliver him.

I am reminded of Abraham, whose faith in God was tested in a similar fashion at least three times. God had promised him that he would make of Abraham a great nation and would give the land of Canaan to offspring he had yet to produce (Gen. 12:2, 7).  Yet, Abraham’s faith in God at that time, while strong enough to obey His directive to leave his country and strike out for parts unknown (12:1ff; cf. Heb. 11:8), still faltered when he traveled to Egypt.  Rather than trust that God would keep him safe because He had promised him future offspring, he persuaded Sarah to lie in an effort to keep him from being killed by the Egyptians (12:10-20).  He did something similar later with Abimelech (20:1-18), again showing that his faith in God had faltered.  Yet when God told him later to sacrifice his son Isaac as a test of his faith, Abraham unhesitatingly did so to the point where God had to stop him from killing his son (22:1-19).  He went through with it even though at that point Isaac had yet to marry Rebekah, produce more offspring, and thus bring God’s promise closer to fulfillment.  The Hebrew writer attributes Abraham’s willingness to obey what to any parent would  be an extremely difficult and agonizing command to faith that God would keep His promise to give Abraham more offspring through Isaac, a faith so strong and deep that he surmised that God would resurrect Isaac from the dead after the sacrifice (Heb. 11:17-19).  Clearly, Abraham’s faith in the promises of God, while in many ways already strong, had grown even stronger!

David undoubtedly had a similar faith in the promise that God would one day make him king of Israel, and his faith in that promise motivated him to defend the honor of God against those like Goliath who would oppose Him.  This was also a reason behind David’s decision to face the giant.

Righteous Indignation

Goliath had “defied the armies of the living God” (1 Sam. 17:26), and thus had defied God Himself (17:45), much like Saul of Tarsus would later persecute Christ by persecuting His followers (Acts 9:1, 4-5).  The Philistine did this repeatedly, morning and night, for forty days (17:16).  The Targum, a collection of uninspired Jewish commentaries of the Old Testament, records the Israelite tradition that Goliath claimed to have been among the Philistines who had captured the ark of the covenant and had personally killed the priests Hophni and Phinehas, the sons of Eli (cf. 4:10-11).  If true, then the pagan giant had a history of openly opposing and showing contempt towards Jehovah God.

Upon arriving at the Elah valley, David heard Goliath’s blasphemous challenge for the first time (17:23-25).  His immediate response was to ask the soldiers around him, “What shall be done for the man who kills this Philistine and takes away the reproach from Israel?  For who is this uncircumcised Philistine, that he should defy the armies of the living God?” (17:26)  This earned a rebuke from his oldest brother Eliab, but his indignation over Goliath’s insults remained undeterred (17:28-30).  His angry rebuttal of the Philistine’s blasphemy reached the ears of Saul, who sent for David and was told by the young man, “Let no man’s heart fail because of (Goliath).  Your servant will go and fight with this Philistine” (17:31-32).

Lessons For Christians Today

This account of David’s encounter with Goliath is recorded in the Old Testament for a reason (Prov. 30:5).  God inspired the apostle Paul to inform Christians that what was written in the Old Testament was written to instruct and encourage us, give us hope, serve as an example to us, admonish us, teach us, reprove us, correct us, and train us to be righteous so that we may be complete and equipped for every good work (Rom. 15:4; 1 Cor. 10:11; 2 Tim. 3:16-17).  Such is the case when we see the faith in God David displayed in the Elah valley that day and choose to compare it to our own faith.

We sing a spiritual song called Count Your Many Blessings.  The lesson behind the hymn is to remind us of our past experiences with Jehovah and all He has done for us, just as David had remembered how God had delivered him from predators.  Do we regularly remember with gratitude all the wonderful things which God has done in our lives?  “Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights…” (Ja. 1:17).  Everything we have comes from God (John 3:27), not the least of which is an undeserved salvation from eternity in hell!  (Rom. 6:23; Tit. 2:11)  Do we take such blessings for granted and rarely remember their Source, or do we continually offer our heart-felt gratitude to Him in prayer (Col. 4:2)?  Our honest answer to this question has a direct impact on the strength of our faith and our resulting willingness to obey God, no matter the perceived cost.

Just as David had faith in God’s promise to make him king, do we trust in God’s promises to us?  He has promised eternal life to all who obey Him (Heb. 5:9) and eternal condemnation to those who do not (2 Thess. 1:7-9).  How strong is our faith in those promises?  Satan wants to play the same trick on us that he successfully played on Eve: to trick us into believing that God doesn’t mean what He says (Gen. 3:1-5).  That’s why Christians who have been taught the will of God sin, you know.  Our faith is weak during those times.  We know what the Bible promises, but we deceive ourselves that God will make an exception on our part because He wants our immediate and temporal satisfaction which would come from “the passing pleasures of sin” to be fulfilled.  Thus, we would obey God only when convenient rather than choosing to risk the sacrifice of even our lives as David’s faith prompted him to do.

Finally, let us consider what easily arouses our anger and indignation.  James said that man’s anger does not produce God’s righteousness (Ja. 1:20).  Does God get angry over the same things which infuriate us?  Many typically get upset when our own honor is insulted and we don’t get our way, and tend to only shrug with mild irritation at best when we see the sin of others or our own.  Yet David was angry because he saw Goliath defying God and was motivated to defend his Lord.  Are we like him?

Think on these things, my friends.  Let David’s example motivate us to deeper faith and service!

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