2 Samuel 8:1-18 – What If There Is A Real Cost to Following Christ?: When Being A Christ Follower Clashes With Culture

Posted: June 9, 2018 in 10-2 Samuel
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2 Samuel 8:1-18
David’s Military Victories

In today’s passage, David is gaining in popularity among the people. They just loved him for all the military victories and acclaim that he was bringing to the nation of Israel. David’s following of God here was pretty easy. Doing God’s will is fun and easy when it gains you acclaim and popularity amidst the culture in which you live, right? It’s a sweet spot to be in, for sure! But was that acclaim, that acceptance what motivated David? Being accepted by the culture, was that what motivated David? Although David was a man occasionally susceptible to personal pride that led him to do things that hurt his kingship severely, for the most part, David was a “man after God’s own heart” (1 Samuel 13:14, Acts 13:22). After thinking about what motivated David throughout his days is a question that I think we must ask ourselves today as well. What motivates us to follow Jesus Christ? Is for the acclaim that it can bring us within Christian circles like David here who is gaining great popularity among his people? Or do we follow Jesus Christ even when it makes us unpopular and we are all alone as a result? What’s our motivation?

In this day in which we live it is becoming increasingly more difficult to stand on your Christian convictions. The biblical values upon which we stand are no longer the norm. In fact, biblical values often stand in direct opposition to the common values of society. We are certainly in opposition to the prevailing values of society today when it comes to sexual relationships. Our society today condones serial heterosexuality (having sex with as many partners as possible in one lifetime) and it condones homosexuality as right and normal and a brand of sexuality that should be supported and even encouraged. We are often in opposition to the prevailing values of society in other areas of life as well such as the common belief that all roads lead to heaven and as long as you believe in something as a guide to your life’s values that you will experience a nirvana-like afterlife. You name it, we as Christ followers are now more often than not seen as old-fashioned, restrictive, and closed-minded. We are seen as in opposition to all “the progress” that society is making toward an egalitarian society where everything is acceptable.

The Christian church and Christ followers are at a crossroads here in the first quarter of the 21st century. We must decide if we want to ride along with society or return to the days where persecution of Christians was a common thing in the centuries before Christianity became an institution condoned by the Roman Empire. Do we have the guts now to stand on biblical values when it is in direct opposition to the prevailing sentiments in society? How Christian will most of us be when it is no longer neutral or to our advantage to say, “I’m a Christ follower!”? How many of us will be willing to publicly attend church if we were to be arrested or lose our jobs if seen there? How far are you and I willing to take this Christ follower thing? Are you willing to die for Jesus Christ? Are you willing to be imprisoned because you believe in Jesus Christ? Are you willing to be tortured for not renouncing the name of Jesus Christ? We can say that it will never happen here, but right now if you think that you are like the frog in a pot of hot water where the heat is ever so slowly being turned up. The frog will stay in the water with the slow increase in temperature to the point that the water is boiling and he dies. Right now, we are seeing the beginnings of persecution in the United States for those who have values different from the political correctness of our age.

Just think of all the people that have lost their careers, have been publicly vilified in the press and social media, just because they came out in opposition to alternative sexual lifestyles. Just think of the firestorm that was created nationally and internationally when the State of North Carolina passed “bathroom bill” which was to counteract the ordinance passed by the City of Charlotte that said a person could use whatever public restroom that they identified with rather than what their anatomy indicated. North Carolina had concerts, conventions, and even businesses that pulled out of the state because of the firestorm over the prohibitive law passed at the state level to counteract a city level ordinance. The people of North Carolina were branded as backwards and homophobic for allowing such a law to be passed. The pressure was intense. It went as far as the Atlantic Coast Conference (a collegiate athletic conference) whose headquarters from its inception in 1953 has been in Greensboro, NC saying that it would pull all of its championship games and/or tournaments from the state until North Carolina buckled. Everybody jumped on the bandwagon to condemn North Carolina. Entertainers who had been to the state numerous times over their careers all of a sudden withdrew concerts. It was the classic case of joining the crowd regardless of whether you had any skin in the game or not. Now, of course, it led North Carolina to ultimately rescind the law and people think North Carolina is OK again.

What is the next thing that Christians will have to endure as the heat in the pot slowly rises? Are you and I going to be quiet and say when we gather with our fellow Christ followers that the world is no longer the place it once was for us, but as soon as we step into society, we get quiet or we ultimately conform our beliefs to that of society just so we won’t have to suffer the fate of the State of North Carolina over “the bathroom bill”. What’s the next thing? I see it coming now and it is illegal immigration. I see Facebook posts condemning Christians for supporting the position of the Trump Administration of enforcing immigration laws even if it means the separating of families. The issue is one that brings out emotions of the highest order just as the North Carolina “bathroom bill” did.

So, what does the Bible say about those who enter a country illegally? What should be the Christian response to illegal aliens or illegal immigrants and toward those who condone illegal immigration? What about the kids of immigrants who entered this country in a manner that is against the long-established laws of the land? Should they have to pay for the illegal activities of their parents just as with any other crime committed in our country? Do we want to be seen as being OK with separating families (even though it happens daily with social services departments around the country)? This is the next hot-button issue for the culture. What is your position? Have you consulted God’s Word or would you rather just not be one of the people being vilified in the press and just go along with the prevailing sentiment of the culture?

Christians are struggling with this issue and we must consult God’s Word on it before we join the crowd or stand against it. We must understand what God’s Word says about the laws of the lands in which we live. We must understand what God’s Word says about when we can deviate from the law of the land. We must understand what God’s Word says about compassion and mercy and land in the place that is fully biblical in our response. It is the next battlefield where we must choose.

It is the next battlefield where we must study God’s Word and respond in the way that God desires for us even if that position might well be in opposition to the culture. We must study God’s Word now and pray for the Holy Spirit to enlighten us as to what our proper response might be to this 21st century American issue. What will you and I do this time if the Holy Spirit leads us to a conclusion that is in opposition to the prevailing sentiment of society. Will we be the frog in the pot of water where the temporary is rising ever so slowly and just go along, say nothing, and just try to get along? Or will we act on the conclusion that the Holy Spirit leads us toward even if it means that we are publicly vilified for having an opposing opinion to the culture’s desires?

That’s the thing that I thought of this morning – how the days are coming when we must decide to honor God or honor society. In this passage, we see that David was becoming increasingly popular with the people of Israel. However, they were enamored with his success. David was not doing things to be popular with the people though. He was doing what he did to satisfy and please God. That’s the point of my blog this morning – will we have what it takes when we have to decide whether to please God or please the culture? Let’s read the passage, 2 Samuel 8:1-18, now:

Chapter 8

1After this, David defeated and subdued the Philistines by conquering Gath, their largest town.[a] 2 David also conquered the land of Moab. He made the people lie down on the ground in a row, and he measured them off in groups with a length of rope. He measured off two groups to be executed for every one group to be spared. The Moabites who were spared became David’s subjects and paid him tribute money.

3 David also destroyed the forces of Hadadezer son of Rehob, king of Zobah, when Hadadezer marched out to strengthen his control along the Euphrates River. 4 David captured 1,000 chariots, 7,000 charioteers,[b] and 20,000 foot soldiers. He crippled all the chariot horses except enough for 100 chariots.

5 When Arameans from Damascus arrived to help King Hadadezer, David killed 22,000 of them. 6 Then he placed several army garrisons in Damascus, the Aramean capital, and the Arameans became David’s subjects and paid him tribute money. So the Lord made David victorious wherever he went.

7 David brought the gold shields of Hadadezer’s officers to Jerusalem, 8 along with a large amount of bronze from Hadadezer’s towns of Tebah[c] and Berothai.

9 When King Toi of Hamath heard that David had destroyed the entire army of Hadadezer, 10 he sent his son Joram to congratulate King David for his successful campaign. Hadadezer and Toi had been enemies and were often at war. Joram presented David with many gifts of silver, gold, and bronze.

11 King David dedicated all these gifts to the Lord, as he did with the silver and gold from the other nations he had defeated— 12 from Edom,[d] Moab, Ammon, Philistia, and Amalek—and from Hadadezer son of Rehob, king of Zobah.

13 So David became even more famous when he returned from destroying 18,000 Edomites[e] in the Valley of Salt. 14 He placed army garrisons throughout Edom, and all the Edomites became David’s subjects. In fact, the Lord made David victorious wherever he went.

15 So David reigned over all Israel and did what was just and right for all his people. 16 Joab son of Zeruiah was commander of the army. Jehoshaphat son of Ahilud was the royal historian. 17 Zadok son of Ahitub and Ahimelech son of Abiathar were the priests. Seraiah was the court secretary. 18 Benaiah son of Jehoiada was captain of the king’s bodyguard.[f] And David’s sons served as priestly leaders.[g]

In this passage, David pleased the people not because he tried to please them. They were enamored with the results of his military campaigns. However, David’s purpose was not necessarily to please the people but rather pleasing God. Often, those who try hardest to become popular never make it. From David, we learn that we should never devise ways to become accepted and popular in the public eye. Instead, we should strive to do what is right and what is honoring to God.

Lord, help us to be a people that takes the pulse of the Bible as our guide to respond to the world around us rather than taking the pulse of culture. Let us seek your approval and your smile toward us rather than trying to fit in to the culture. May we try to please you only. May we be a people that will take pleasing you as our main priority even if what we do in that regard is in opposition to the culture. Help us not to cave into the culture even if it means that we will be vilified, persecuted or even killed for it.

Amen and Amen.

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