Posts Tagged ‘David’

2 Samuel 23:8-39 (Part 1 of 2)
David’s Elite Warriors

Have you ever been part of a championship team in your life? One of the greatest teams that I was ever a part of was when I was only 12 years old. I was living in Anderson, SC at the time as my dad served as associate pastor at a large church in that city, Trinity United Methodist Church. It was there that I found my championship team. Even though it is now 44 years later, I still remember those days of our 12 & Under church league basketball team. We were a team that started slowly because many of us had never played together before. My friend Eddie Younts and I were the most skilled players of the team but the rest of the team was pretty good but none of them were the go-to guys when we needed a basket. Each player had his role and each accepted that. But those first two games of the year we got skunked pretty badly in both because we all didn’t play as a team but by that third game we started to get and we only lost one more game during the regular season and we ended up being the second seed in the season ending tournament. We blistered our first two opponents pretty badly in the tournament and then came the team we had lost twice to during the regular season, Boulevard Baptist Church. We were by far the best teams in our league and that championship game was one to remember for us as 11 and 12 year olds.

We played so well in that championship game as a team. Even our center who was just a gangly tall kid became a force on the inside with rebounds. Eddie and I played our best games each. No look passes to each other, communicating with our eyes on offense and defense. It was our finest moment as a team in the biggest game. We won that game by 5 and we celebrated as if we had won the national championship in college basketball. It was an awesome highlight moment. Those moments where you just truly connect with the people you have been through the battles with. There’s that soul connection when you are a team that just gets each other. You love them. You would take a bullet for them. And now that I think back on it, the one thing that distinguished us was our coach, Coach Middleton. He was a mild-mannered church member but he ended up molding us into a team that together was far beyond what we were individually.

He was tough on us from the beginning. He worked us to death on ball skills and defense when we would rather be running and shooting. He would run us to death at some point during practice with suicide drills (for the uninformed, suicide drills are where you run from one end of the court to the other, touch the end line with your hand and run back to the other end of the court and touch the other end line with your hand – repeatedly). If one of us would not follow directions, the whole team would do suicide drills. He expected a lot of these rag tag bunch of 11 and 12 year olds. He actually taught plays for us to run on offense and defensive sets to be in on that side of the court. He treated us like we were adults and expected us to pick up all the details. His practices were some of the toughest things I have ever been through (including high school football practices). But though he was tough on us, he praised us when we did things right and began to work as a team. As the season progressed, we fell in line behind his leadership. We loved that man. We would have took a bullet for him. I have never seen a grown man tear up as much as he did when the final seconds of that championship game ticked off. He was a proud father figure to a bunch of kids that were highly individual when we met him in those first December practices, but who he molded into a band of brothers by that early March championship game. Even all these years later, I still remember the toughness he instilled in us. I still remember that “band of brothers” feeling he produced in us. It still is a fond memory of a time in my life that I occasionally revisit with vivid memory when the thought crosses my mind.

That was the thought that came to mind when I read about David’s mighty warriors this morning in 2 Samuel 23:8-39. That thought being about how great leadership takes individuals and makes them into a great team together:

8 These are the names of David’s mightiest warriors. The first was Jashobeam the Hacmonite,[a] who was leader of the Three[b]—the three mightiest warriors among David’s men. He once used his spear to kill 800 enemy warriors in a single battle.[c]

9 Next in rank among the Three was Eleazar son of Dodai, a descendant of Ahoah. Once Eleazar and David stood together against the Philistines when the entire Israelite army had fled. 10 He killed Philistines until his hand was too tired to lift his sword, and the Lord gave him a great victory that day. The rest of the army did not return until it was time to collect the plunder!

11 Next in rank was Shammah son of Agee from Harar. One time the Philistines gathered at Lehi and attacked the Israelites in a field full of lentils. The Israelite army fled, 12 but Shammah[d] held his ground in the middle of the field and beat back the Philistines. So the Lord brought about a great victory.

13 Once during the harvest, when David was at the cave of Adullam, the Philistine army was camped in the valley of Rephaim. The Three (who were among the Thirty—an elite group among David’s fighting men) went down to meet him there. 14 David was staying in the stronghold at the time, and a Philistine detachment had occupied the town of Bethlehem.

15 David remarked longingly to his men, “Oh, how I would love some of that good water from the well by the gate in Bethlehem.” 16 So the Three broke through the Philistine lines, drew some water from the well by the gate in Bethlehem, and brought it back to David. But he refused to drink it. Instead, he poured it out as an offering to the Lord. 17 “The Lord forbid that I should drink this!” he exclaimed. “This water is as precious as the blood of these men[e] who risked their lives to bring it to me.” So David did not drink it. These are examples of the exploits of the Three.

18 Abishai son of Zeruiah, the brother of Joab, was the leader of the Thirty.[f] He once used his spear to kill 300 enemy warriors in a single battle. It was by such feats that he became as famous as the Three. 19 Abishai was the most famous of the Thirty[g] and was their commander, though he was not one of the Three.

20 There was also Benaiah son of Jehoiada, a valiant warrior[h] from Kabzeel. He did many heroic deeds, which included killing two champions[i] of Moab. Another time, on a snowy day, he chased a lion down into a pit and killed it. 21 Once, armed only with a club, he killed an imposing Egyptian warrior who was armed with a spear. Benaiah wrenched the spear from the Egyptian’s hand and killed him with it. 22 Deeds like these made Benaiah as famous as the Three mightiest warriors. 23 He was more honored than the other members of the Thirty, though he was not one of the Three. And David made him captain of his bodyguard.

24 Other members of the Thirty included:

Asahel, Joab’s brother;
Elhanan son of Dodo from Bethlehem;
25
Shammah from Harod;
Elika from Harod;
26
Helez from Pelon[j];
Ira son of Ikkesh from Tekoa;
27
Abiezer from Anathoth;
Sibbecai[k] from Hushah;
28
Zalmon from Ahoah;
Maharai from Netophah;
29
Heled[l] son of Baanah from Netophah;
Ithai[m] son of Ribai from Gibeah (in the land of Benjamin);
30
Benaiah from Pirathon;
Hurai[n] from Nahale-gaash[o];
31
Abi-albon from Arabah;
Azmaveth from Bahurim;
32
Eliahba from Shaalbon;
the sons of Jashen;
Jonathan 33 son of Shagee[p] from Harar;
Ahiam son of Sharar from Harar;
34
Eliphelet son of Ahasbai from Maacah;
Eliam son of Ahithophel from Giloh;
35
Hezro from Carmel;
Paarai from Arba;
36
Igal son of Nathan from Zobah;
Bani from Gad;
37
Zelek from Ammon;
Naharai from Beeroth, the armor bearer of Joab son of Zeruiah;
38
Ira from Jattir;
Gareb from Jattir;
39
Uriah the Hittite.

There were thirty-seven in all.

In this passage, we see how these verses tell of the exploits that the special corps of David’s army carried out (they were the Army Special Forces, the Navy SEALS, the Marines Force Recon, the Air Force Special Ops teams of their day). There were two groups of elite men: The Three and The Thirty. To become a member of such a group, a man had to show unparalleled courage in battle as well as wisdom in leadership. “The Three” was the most elite group. The list of “The Thirty” actually contains 37 names but mentions some warriors known to be dead from our readings of the biblical texts (Uriah is an example – he was one of “The Thirty” who was purposely deserted on the battlefield by order David so that he would be killed in action – the whole Bathsheba incident). Thus, the list contains the original member’s name plus his later replacement.

Although David makes major blunders in leadership during his time as a military leader and then as king, one way to understand his successes is to notice the kind of men who followed him. During the time Saul was hunting him, David gradually built a fighting fore of several hundred men. Some were relatives, others were outcasts from society, many were in trouble with the law, but they all had one trait in common – complete devotion to David. Their achievements made them famous. Scripture gives us the impression that these men were motivated to greatness by the personal qualities of their leader, David. David inspired them to achieve beyond their goals and meet their true potential. Likewise, the leaders we follow and the causes to which we commit ourselves will affect our lives. David’s effectiveness was clearly connected to his awareness of God’s leading. He was a good leader when he followed the leadership of God. When David was in alignment with God, he was able to take a rag-tag bunch of misfits and turn them into an elite fighting force.

In just the same way, Coach Middleton did the same for us. We were a bunch of middle class, bratty 11 and 12 year olds that thought we knew it all and thought we the Julius Ervings of that time period. Jordan had not come along yet so Julius Erving (Dr. J.) was the man in the NBA. We thought too that we were little versions of the great stars of college basketball of the time. He shattered that idea quickly and if we were going to be on his team we were going to play like a team. It was kind of like Remember the Titans where they went to summer camp and the coach built a team in the two a days of a hot August in Virginia. You have break the individual so that you can build a team. Coach Middleton built us into a team because we knew he put us through all that for a reason and eventually we saw the results on the court and we began to be willing to follow him through fire. Great leaders expect excellence and draw it out of you. Great leaders develop a team first attitude and make you believe in one another and seek the best for each other. Lessons learned under Coach Middleton resonate to this day in my life.

In just the same way, Jesus did the same for his elite three (John, James, and Peter) and overall, The Twelve. He takes a rag-tag bunch of guys from all different walks of life and he invests in them. He’s tough on them. But he invests his heart in them. He prepares them for the day when he will no longer be with them. He instills in them the lessons of the kingdom and sends the Holy Spirit upon them and molds them into a force that the world has never seen before or since. These disciples of Jesus Christ literally changed the course of human history. They were so passionate about their leader that they spread Christianity from Jerusalem to the far reaches of India in one direction and to Spain in the other direction and down into North Africa within the first 100 years after Jesus’ death and resurrection. Talk about your championship teams molded by a great leader!

Jesus can do the same thing for you and me. He can take you and me as maybe a highly self-centered person, maybe a social outcast, maybe a troublemaker, maybe a _______ (fill-in the blank), and make us into a redeemed child of God. Through salvation in Him, we go from someone destined for trouble and to hell into a person made holy, clean, and useful to the kingdom, part of the kingdom team. So, if you think that your past disqualifies you from being useful to the kingdom, just think of the fact that Jesus turned some salty fishermen, a tax collector, and rebel against Roman occupation, and generally just a rag-tag bunch of average guys into world changers. They were not the religious elite of their day. They were just common folk with nasty, dirty lives that would be embarrassing and condemning before God and molded them into the greatest evangelists that the world has ever known. You, too, can become part of Jesus’ championship team just by submitting your life to His leadership and giving Him complete allegiance in every aspect of your life.

Then, you will be part of the greatest team…Jesus’ team. The work is hard. The rewards in this lifetime may be few, but together we are a team of Christ followers who will follow Him through the fires of this life because He inspires us to do great things for the kingdom that we could never do on our own.

Amen and Amen.

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2 Samuel 19:1-14 (Part 1 of 3)
Joab Rebukes the King

I am now in the beginnings of the third semester of my doctoral program. I had to take spring semester 2018 off due to the job change and move to Illinois. But I am back at it again now. We have four semesters of course work to do in the program before candidates can begin their dissertation process. So, after this semester, I will be ¾ of the way through the course work. This semester, the course is Missions & Evangelism. One of the seven books I have to read this semester (already have two of them read and now have begun the third), Becoming A Contagious Church, had a profound statement in it very early on in the book. It kind of kicked me in the pants as a pastor. At pp.16-17 of this book, the author, Mark Mittleberg, states the following:

“We talk a good game but our actions speak louder than our words. According to a recent survey, a mere 14% of pastors claim that their churches are heavily involved in evangelism. Do we really care about lost people? Are we convinced that everyone we know, without exception, needs to find the forgiveness, friendship, life and leadership Jesus offers? Do we truly believe in hell and that our friends and family members will end up there if they don’t trust in Christ before they die? Doe we REALLY believe that? If so, are we willing to stretch and take risks to warn them? Are we willing to invest the time and energy in developing churches that will attract, challenge, and teach them to step across the line of faith?

Jesus commanded us to become contagious Christians and to build contagious churches that will do whatever is necessary with the guidance and power of the Holy Spirit to bring more and more people to Christ…Evangelism is the primary reason we are left on this planet.”

Early on in this book, Mittleberg shoots straight with us about why most churches today are stagnant, declining, or only growing through “transfer growth” (taking members from other churches). Very few churches are actively drawing in unchurched or dechurched. It is because we no longer place an emphasis on personal evangelism. We cannot become contagious churches if we do not personally become contagious Christians, Mittleberg later says. Talk about a kick in the pants. No holes barred, unadulterated truth. And the real kicker in his early statements in this book is that he says that the fault lays at the feet of the leaders of churches. If we do not live lives that are marked by personal evangelism, then, then, then, how can we expect our people to see personal evangelism as a priority. It’s just that simple. People follow the example set by their leaders. Simply by the nature of my position as a pastor at my church, though I am an administrative pastor, that sets the bar higher for me just as it does for the two other staff pastors and our senior pastor. Just as at any church, the pastoral leadership must lead the way by example when it comes to evangelism.

Bam! In yo face, Mark! There’s no saying that it’s not my job or that it is not my giftedness. The Great Commission (Matthew 28:19-20) is an unqualified imperative statement. Implied in the version of the verb to go is that is collective plural “you”. If it was a full sentence instead of the elliptical sentence it is, it would say, “You go and make disciples!”. It is the collective plural you in the present tense. We all are ordered to go and make disciples. Not just those who are gifted at sharing the gospel. We all must go. In the present tense, it means now. Now, we must all go. It is inherent in all Christ followers from this command that we share the gospel now.

Sadly, as Mittleberg says and it is so true, most of us Christ followers live in a cocoon of all Christian friends. We have no friends in our social circles outside the fellowship of our churches often. How many friends do you have that are not Christians? How many friends to you have that are unchurched and unsaved? I know the answer for me is a very precious few. Talk about a book that is a convictor of the Christian soul and one that does it early on in the book and in the bluntest way possible. Sometimes, we need to hear the truth because otherwise we would not deal with it.

This time, it was a book. But there are times when we need to hear the truth from a live person. Sometimes, it’s uncomfortable but necessary. Do you have a friend or family member or someone at your work that has the guts to tell you the truth when you need to hear it?

David got the truth from one of his employees in this passage – the straight on truth. Let’s read the passage, 2 Samuel 19:1-14, now and see how Joab lays it on David:

Chapter 19
1 Word soon reached Joab that the king was weeping and mourning for Absalom. 2 As all the people heard of the king’s deep grief for his son, the joy of that day’s victory was turned into deep sadness. 3 They crept back into the town that day as though they were ashamed and had deserted in battle. 4 The king covered his face with his hands and kept on crying, “O my son Absalom! O Absalom, my son, my son!”

5 Then Joab went to the king’s room and said to him, “We saved your life today and the lives of your sons, your daughters, and your wives and concubines. Yet you act like this, making us feel ashamed of ourselves. 6 You seem to love those who hate you and hate those who love you. You have made it clear today that your commanders and troops mean nothing to you. It seems that if Absalom had lived and all of us had died, you would be pleased. 7 Now go out there and congratulate your troops, for I swear by the Lord that if you don’t go out, not a single one of them will remain here tonight. Then you will be worse off than ever before.”

8 So the king went out and took his seat at the town gate, and as the news spread throughout the town that he was there, everyone went to him.

Meanwhile, the Israelites who had supported Absalom fled to their homes. 9 And throughout all the tribes of Israel there was much discussion and argument going on. The people were saying, “The king rescued us from our enemies and saved us from the Philistines, but Absalom chased him out of the country. 10 Now Absalom, whom we anointed to rule over us, is dead. Why not ask David to come back and be our king again?”

11 Then King David sent Zadok and Abiathar, the priests, to say to the elders of Judah, “Why are you the last ones to welcome back the king into his palace? For I have heard that all Israel is ready. 12 You are my relatives, my own tribe, my own flesh and blood! So why are you the last ones to welcome back the king?” 13 And David told them to tell Amasa, “Since you are my own flesh and blood, like Joab, may God strike me and even kill me if I do not appoint you as commander of my army in his place.”

14 Then Amasa[b] convinced all the men of Judah, and they responded unanimously. They sent word to the king, “Return to us, and bring back all who are with you.”

In this passage, we see that, at times, we must share the hard truth with those people we have relationships with, whether it be with family, with work associates or superiors, or with friends. Joab knew he was risking the king’s displeasure by confronting him, but David was so caught up in his own grief that he could not see what it was doing to the morale of the nation. Joab told David that there would be dreadful consequences if he did not commend his troops for their victory. There are times in our lives where we need someone in our lives to give us the cold, hard truth.

Just like Mark Mittleberg laid it on me in his book, Becoming A Contagious Church. As a pastor, if I expect results in evangelism from our people, then, I have got to live the evangelistic lifestyle in front of them. I have to break out of my cocoon (though it was not intentionally formed) of Christ follower only friends and acquaintances. As a pastor or a heavily involved member of a church, you can easily find yourself with Christian only friends. It’s easy to get into the rut of not venturing outside these circles. We need a kick in the butt as leaders to be intentional about seeking out opportunities to connect with unchurched people in our midst. We need to seek opportunities with our neighbors who we know are not saved and try to interact with them, gain an entry into their lives, make relationships with them, and earn the right to speak into their lives. We must have urgency about seeking out those who do not know Jesus just in our own neighborhoods. We cannot expect our church members to do it if we are not modeling it ourselves. Man, it is so easy to get so focused on the busy-ness of church that we can forget that evangelism is why we, ourselves, are working for the church. If someone had not shared the gospel with us, we would not be where we are.

Just as Joab tells David that he needs to get off his pity pot and start leading the nation again. His got so wrapped up in his own life issues that he had forgotten how to be king. He needed a kick in the butt from Joab to say, “hey buddy, I know you are hurting but you got a country to lead!” We all need reminding sometimes of what is important, what our duties are, what responsibilities we have. We need those people in our lives that will shoot straight with us.

Amen and Amen.

2 Samuel 16:1-4
David and Ziba

This passage is one of those you just want to shake David and say “Yo! Dude! Wake up! Why can’t you see that this dude is lying to you to get what he wants!” But David just accepts what he has to say and promises him the moon and stars, so to speak. David does not even think of the fact that Mephibosheth was most likely the most loyal person to David ever. It was customary that when a ruler was defeated that his family would be killed as well so that there would be no lineage of that ruler left to reclaim the throne. However, we find in 2 Samuel 4 that Mephibosheth survives.

Mephibosheth had grown and had a son of his own when King David inquired of his whereabouts. King David and Jonathan had been very close friends and became as brothers. Because of their relationship and an oath David made to Jonathan (1 Samuel 20:15-16, 42), he wanted to honor it by finding and caring for Mephibosheth.One of Saul’s servants was questioned and told King David of the young man’s location. Mephibosheth was summoned to appear before the King. Though afraid, Mephibosheth came not knowing if he would be killed or what might happen to him. He was a cripple, had lost his heritage, and lived in a desolate place named Lo Debar. Translated, the name literally means “land of nothing”. Mephibosheth had been reduced to having nothing.

2 Samuel 9 describes the meeting of Mephibosheth and King David. The young man humbly bowed and David told him to not be afraid. “I will surely show you kindness for the sake of your father Jonathan. I will restore to you all the land that belonged to your grandfather Saul and you will always eat at my table” (2 Samuel 9:7). Mephibosheth bowed and asked why David would “notice a dead dog like me?” in verse 8. Mephibosheth was made the promise that he would be honored with restoration of profits from his grandfather’s wealth and would always eat at the King’s table. This was despite Mephibosheth’s low self-worth, physical handicap, and shame brought to him by his grandfather’s sins, defeat and resulting suicide.

David had shown him great kindness (because of no other reason than he was Jonathan’s son) to take him into the royal household after Mephibosheth’s dad and grandpa died in battle. Being a crippled person in ancient Middle Eastern culture would have meant that, without family, he would have had to resort to begging on street corners and at the entrances to public gathering places such as government buildings, etc. His existence would have been miserable. But by the grace of David wishing to honor the memory of his best friend, Jonathan, Mephibosheth was given a place of honor within David’s palace. He was taken care of and treated with the utmost respect. His life turned out to be far better than it could have been had David not taken him in. You don’t think that Mephibosheth was eternally loyal to David as a result?

So, it simply boggles the mind that David did not ask any questions in this situation. It is probably pretty certain that Mephibosheth over the demonstrated his loyalty to David over the years. But here, David was just so easy to believe what Ziba was saying about Mephibosheth.

That then is the thing that has troubled me since yesterday morning when I first read this passage. What is it that God is trying to teach us in this passage? There is no wasted passage in the Bible. Each passage has something to teach us when we really study a passage. Sometimes, at a surface level reading, we may think of certain passages as throw-away. You know like filler in between important sequences. Like a commercial in strategically placed places in the flow of a movie on television. Strategically placed commercials in a movie give you a break between the heavy action or heavy issue parts of movie where you can catch your breath. It can even be a bathroom break. When we read the Bible at just a surface level some passages just seem like that – you know when you can say I read the Bible in 90 days or something where you speed through it but not really understand or delve into what you are reading. Not that there is anything wrong with a 90 day crash course in reading the Bible from beginning to end (often we need to do that just as a discipline development technique). At a surface level, this seems like a commercial break between the intense passages of 2 Samuel. But when you want to read deep in a passage, this passage kind of stumps you. What is that nugget that God wants us to see? What is that universal truth that God pours out in this passage to help us become more Christ-like.

So, let’s read this passage together and try to figure out what is that single truth that comes out of this passage that God wants us to learn:

Chapter 16
1 When David had gone a little beyond the summit of the Mount of Olives, Ziba, the servant of Mephibosheth,[a] was waiting there for him. He had two donkeys loaded with 200 loaves of bread, 100 clusters of raisins, 100 bunches of summer fruit, and a wineskin full of wine.

2 “What are these for?” the king asked Ziba.

Ziba replied, “The donkeys are for the king’s people to ride on, and the bread and summer fruit are for the young men to eat. The wine is for those who become exhausted in the wilderness.”

3 “And where is Mephibosheth, Saul’s grandson?” the king asked him.

“He stayed in Jerusalem,” Ziba replied. “He said, ‘Today I will get back the kingdom of my grandfather Saul.’”

4 “In that case,” the king told Ziba, “I give you everything Mephibosheth owns.”

“I bow before you,” Ziba replied. “May I always be pleasing to you, my lord the king.”

In this passage, we have to remember who Mephibosheth was. Mephibosheth was the son of Jonathan, who was the son of King Saul and a special friend of King David. When Mephibosheth was five years old, his father Jonathan was killed in battle. Fearing that the Philistines would seek to take the life of the young boy, a nurse fled with him to Gibeah, the royal residence, but in her haste she dropped him and both of his feet were crippled (2 Samuel 4:4). He was carried to the land of Gilead, where he found refuge in the house of Machir, son of Ammiel, at Lo-debar.

Some years later, when King David had conquered all of Israel’s enemies, he remembered the family of his friend Jonathan (2 Samuel 9:1), and, wishing to display his loving loyalty to Jonathan by ministering to his family, David found out that Mephibosheth was residing in the house of Machir. So he sent royal messengers there, and brought Mephibosheth and his infant son Micah to Jerusalem, where they resided from that point on (2 Samuel 9).

Later, when David invited the Mephibosheth to be part of his court, he entrusted the family property to a steward, Ziba. In this situation, it is more than likely than Ziba was lying in hopes of receiving a reward from David. What blows our mind here is that David believed Ziba’s charge against Mephibosheth without checking into the story or even being skeptical. Once again from David, we learn a lesson in what NOT to do. We cannot be hasty to accept someone’s condemnation of another, especially when the accuser may profit from the other’s downfall. David should have been skeptical of Ziba’s comments (especially knowing the relationship he had with Jonathan’s son and checked the story for himself before he made a snap judgment.

So, I think the issue boils down to one word – discernment. Ziba is doing and saying all the right things here. He is making himself available to the king – bring him transportation, food, etc. In this passage he is making himself look awesomely before the king. However, he is doing it at the expense of others, particularly someone he works closely with and serves – Mephibosheth. We all know or have known someone like this that we have worked with whether it be in volunteer situations or in your office or factory where you work for compensation. There is always that one person that is the slick talking politician type. The one who does whatever it takes to gain the confidence of the boss, CEO, or whatever the head of the organization or department is called. They say all the right things. They are usually very quick thinkers and convert thoughts to speech quickly. They are the ones that will subtly subdue others with their words and slick speech to the point that you admire them. We all know the type. The kind of person that would throw you under the bus and have very beautiful flowery language that almost sounds spiritual as to the justifications for their actions. Discernment is called for with such types of people.

That’s where David fails here. He does utilize discernment and he ends up putting himself in a bad situation. Ultimately, he must fulfill a promise that he should have never made. He should have remembered the loyalty of Mephibosheth and how it did not square with what Ziba was saying. When we hear something about a friend, a co-worker, another volunteer, another church member, another anyone that does not square with what we know about that person, then, we have a duty not to automatically accept the negative words of another person. We must say stop right there. We must say I need to check this out with the person you are talking about. If it is true, I will believe what you are saying. However, right now, I just cannot square what you are saying with what I know about that person. Man, would that stop some gossip in this world! Man, would that stop some organizational politicking in this world!

Discernment is a gift from God. It allows us to see things as they really are rather than what others may want to paint them as being. God is a God of order and unity so we must use the discernment He gives us that bring about discord and disorder. Discernment helps us question things when they are inconsistent with what we know to be true. Discernment helps us apply God’s Word to everyday situations. Discernment helps us to pray to God to reveal the truth to us in controversial situations. Discernment helps us not to jump of the slick politician type’s bandwagon to quickly so as to allow true colors to be revealed. Discernment helps us to remember that we are not here to please people but rather to please God. Discernment helps us to keep the truths of God in the center of everything we do. Discernment helps us to divide popularity seeking from true loyalty. Discernment helps us divide truth from error.

Discernment is a gift from God that David does not seem to have anymore. The whole Bathsheba/Uriah incident seems to have so occupied his mind, heart and soul that he can’t even think straight anymore. When you take David’s life as a whole, he lasting memory is that he was a wise king and a great king but wow in this sequence of his life, his sins have him so wracked with guilt that he just does not display the normal qualities of the godly man that he is. He could have used some discernment before the whole Bathsheba/Uriah incident and maybe he would not be in the position that he is in right now – fleeing from Jerusalem and believing the worst about a dear friend.

Discernment. So that’s the thing we learn from this transitional passage between two heavy hitting sequences of David’s life. Discernment. And you know it leads us to the point that discernment comes from prayer. Discernment comes from God just as wisdom does. Thus, we must ask God to grant it to us through constant prayer. God’s Word provides this gift as well. Watching the completely flawed individuals here in the Bible teaches us about what to do and what not to do. Discernment comes from God. Let us pray for it and cultivate through constant study of God’s Word.
Amen and Amen.

2 Samuel 13:1-22
The Rape of Tamar

It’s all too common: More than 31 percent of women in the United States have been physically abused by an intimate partner at some point in their lives, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. According to a recent article at CNN.com, A new survey of college students, one of the largest ever focusing on sexual assault and sexual misconduct, has reignited the debate over just how big a problem sexual assault on campus really is. Among female college students, 23% said they experienced some form of unwanted sexual contact — ranging from kissing to touching to rape, carried out by force or threat of force, or while they were incapacitated because of alcohol and drugs, according to the new survey by the Association of American Universities (AAU). Nearly 11% said the unwanted contact included penetration or oral sex.

These alarming statistics bring us to one of those passages in the Bible that we often do not want to deal with as Christians – 2 Samuel 13:1-22. Non-believers will point to this passage and say that the Bible condones violence against women. And how do we respond to that? The Old Testament is full of incidences of immoral and reprehensible behavior that we must learn from. The Old Testament is humanity often at its worst and pointing us to the need we have of Jesus Christ.

In this passage, we see the ugly side of men. Not just in ancient history but also in modern society as the previously noted statistics prove. This passage is ugly, nasty, raw and hard to deal with. It is incest. It is lust. It is rape. And it is worst of all cover-up. There is no social justice for Tamar. She is raped by her half-brother. And she is told to keep it quiet and there would be family justice at some point. The men in this sad tale are reprehensible. Jonadab, the male cousin of Amnon, who gives the advice to Amnon on how get Tamar alone with him. Amnon, the epitome of spoiled brat (similar to college boys who rape girls at college and get away with it) creates this whole mess with his unrestrained sexual desires and being a prince with no checks and balances. Absalom, telling Tamar not to worry about it and that he will handle it. David, the king, who does absolutely nothing! David the ultimate authority this side of heaven for the people of Israel does nothing about the rape of his daughter. This passage thus is one of those that rarely gets preached on, rarely gets written about, but in the light of the statistics on unwanted sexual contact for women in this country. It is one whose time has come. We must preach on it. We must teach on it. We must examine ourselves as Christ followers because we as Christ followers in His church are not immune to this issue that can have deafening effect on our witness to the world around us.

In a recent article in Church Leaders, the online magazine, J.D. Greear, the recently elected president of the Southern Baptist Convention speaks out on the issue. Pastor Greear is pastor of The Summit Church in Durham, NC, a widely renowned author and leadership expert and one of the more popular and respected megachurch pastors around. His election to the SBC presidency signals a changing of the guard toward a younger generation of pastoral leadership in the SBC. He was elected amidst a firestorm within the convention concerning the president of one of the flagship seminaries of the SBC, Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. Prominent Southern Baptist leader Paige Patterson has been removed from his job as president of Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary amid an evangelical #MeToo moment: a massive backlash from women upset over comments he made in the past that are newly perceived as sexist and demeaning. In the article, Greear begins addressing the issue of how the church, not just the SBC, has handled sexual abuse in the past when he says:

I have begun to hear more and more from many of my sisters in Christ (and some brothers) who have been championing this cause for much longer than a few weeks. Hearing their stories and sensing their passion, I am realizing that we need to be more humble and sober than this. Our awakening to the issue of abuse, even if just to new nuances of the issue, means that we were previously asleep. And as we struggled to learn how to care for the vulnerable well, people were suffering. The church’s clumsiness has often meant that the suffering of others was longer in duration and deeper in impact than it should have been.
Is it better to wake up late than never at all? Absolutely. But I believe we are only beginning to see how profound this “lateness” is, and how damaging its consequences.

So to my sisters:
• who talked to a pastor and received counsel not to report abuse to the authorities
who were advised to return home without your safety being a first priority
• who were raped or otherwise assaulted, and upon confiding in your church leaders, were doubted or cross-examined more than cared for
• who have had to endure objectification or crude humor in sermons and, therefore, had such speech validated in your Christian community
• who were made to think men’s purity was more a byproduct of your modesty than the responsibility of your brother’s in Christ maturity
• who wondered why these issues were not addressed in a more direct way before recent weeks

I believe you deserve to hear your brothers in Christ, particularly those of us called into pastoral ministry, say:

“We are sorry and we should have heard you before now. We know our deafness has added to your suffering. For many that suffering was direct, as it put you in unsafe or abusive contexts. For others, that suffering was indirect, as we allowed a toxic culture to grow up in our churches, one in which you were not as safe and valued as your should have been. You deserved better.”

It is late. But it needs to be said.

Return with me, if you will, to Tamar’s story. Tamar, the young royal princess, wears a distinctive robe, “a sign of favor and special affection.” She lives in a world where her powerful father and brothers hold sway over her, but have responsibility to protect her. Tamar has abundant privilege, yet little power. Tamar is obedient, trusting, and kind. When her father instructs her to help her ailing half-brother, Amnon, she goes and cooks for him. When Amnon bids her to bring food to his room, dutifully she goes, unaware that he has schemed and lied in order to get her alone, because he is obsessed with desire for her (2 Samuel 13:7-11). So, let us now take time to read the ugliness of this passage. It is not for the faint of heart. It is a raw passage but a timely one. Let us read it now together:

Chapter 13
1 Now David’s son Absalom had a beautiful sister named Tamar. And Amnon, her half brother, fell desperately in love with her. 2 Amnon became so obsessed with Tamar that he became ill. She was a virgin, and Amnon thought he could never have her.

3 But Amnon had a very crafty friend—his cousin Jonadab. He was the son of David’s brother Shimea.[a] 4 One day Jonadab said to Amnon, “What’s the trouble? Why should the son of a king look so dejected morning after morning?”

So Amnon told him, “I am in love with Tamar, my brother Absalom’s sister.”

5 “Well,” Jonadab said, “I’ll tell you what to do. Go back to bed and pretend you are ill. When your father comes to see you, ask him to let Tamar come and prepare some food for you. Tell him you’ll feel better if she prepares it as you watch and feeds you with her own hands.”

6 So Amnon lay down and pretended to be sick. And when the king came to see him, Amnon asked him, “Please let my sister Tamar come and cook my favorite dish[b] as I watch. Then I can eat it from her own hands.” 7 So David agreed and sent Tamar to Amnon’s house to prepare some food for him.

8 When Tamar arrived at Amnon’s house, she went to the place where he was lying down so he could watch her mix some dough. Then she baked his favorite dish for him. 9 But when she set the serving tray before him, he refused to eat. “Everyone get out of here,” Amnon told his servants. So they all left.

10 Then he said to Tamar, “Now bring the food into my bedroom and feed it to me here.” So Tamar took his favorite dish to him. 11 But as she was feeding him, he grabbed her and demanded, “Come to bed with me, my darling sister.”

12 “No, my brother!” she cried. “Don’t be foolish! Don’t do this to me! Such wicked things aren’t done in Israel. 13 Where could I go in my shame? And you would be called one of the greatest fools in Israel. Please, just speak to the king about it, and he will let you marry me.”

14 But Amnon wouldn’t listen to her, and since he was stronger than she was, he raped her. 15 Then suddenly Amnon’s love turned to hate, and he hated her even more than he had loved her. “Get out of here!” he snarled at her.

16 “No, no!” Tamar cried. “Sending me away now is worse than what you’ve already done to me.”

But Amnon wouldn’t listen to her. 17 He shouted for his servant and demanded, “Throw this woman out, and lock the door behind her!”

18 So the servant put her out and locked the door behind her. She was wearing a long, beautiful robe,[c] as was the custom in those days for the king’s virgin daughters. 19 But now Tamar tore her robe and put ashes on her head. And then, with her face in her hands, she went away crying.

20 Her brother Absalom saw her and asked, “Is it true that Amnon has been with you? Well, my sister, keep quiet for now, since he’s your brother. Don’t you worry about it.” So Tamar lived as a desolate woman in her brother Absalom’s house.

21 When King David heard what had happened, he was very angry.[d] 22 And though Absalom never spoke to Amnon about this, he hated Amnon deeply because of what he had done to his sister.

Here in this passage, we see that love and lust are very different. After Amnon raped his half sister, his so called love for her turned to hatred. Although he claimed to be in love he was actually overcome by lust. Love is patient. Lust requires immediate satisfaction. Love is kind. Lust is harsh. Love does not demand its own way. Lust does. Love does not delight in evil. Lust does. And most of all love protects. Lust does not.

As men of faith, we must take our role as the leaders of the home and the church seriously. We must stand against anything that threatens and does not protect the women we love and the women in our church. As men of faith, we should not shrink from the difficult truth of this pervasive injustice that affects our communities. We should seek to confront the reality of the broken world in which we participate and pray for opportunities to be part of Christ’s redemptive work of healing and justice. One humble beginning may simply be greater honesty about what we are witnessing — in our communities, the news, and, sometimes, even in Christ’s own church. Confrontation with evil does not come easily. Mournfully, there was no justice in this life for Tamar. The unresolved pathos of her story transcends millennia to startle us awake. If we long for a just ending to this story, there really is not one. Sure, Absalom kills Amnon, but it is two years later and there is no justice in the murder. There was no public trial. There was no national recognition that there was a rape in the royal household. It was all covered up. Tamar was never comforted or counseled that we can see. The only thing that is said is that she “lived as a desolate woman in her brother Absalom’s house.” Is that justice? Is that the signal we send to women today in the church?

Maybe, that is the point of the inclusion of this ugly story! Maybe, it is supposed to be a warning sign to us (if we do not ignore this passage altogether). In this time of history in which we live, we have abundant opportunities to begin writing the just and godly narrative in our own churches and communities. The work of justice and healing begs to be embraced. This passage speaks a truth we are reluctant to hear. May our response to it, and to every Tamar we meet, be holy and just.

To us as men in the church, we always think so fondly of the fact that God through Paul instructs women to submit to their husbands. However, we often forget the remainder of the passage where we, as Christ following men, are called to love our wives (and by extension women in general) as Christ loves His church. That’s a pretty tall order. Much higher than our women submitting to our leadership. We are called to be love our wives (and by extension all women) to the point of laying down our lives sacrificially for them. We are called to love and protect. We are called to provide safe environments in which God’s most lovely and tender creatures can flourish. We are not called to dominate them. We are called to protect them from all evil as Christ does for his church. We are not called to forceable make them do whatever we please. We are called to be willing to take a bullet for them. We are called to not to demean them. We are called to exalt them. We are called to lead them with their best interest at heart. We are called to be their spiritual leaders and not lead them astray with our own ideas of sexuality and servitude. We are to lead them in such a way that they are perfectly willing to submit to our leadership because they know that we would lay down our lives to protect them and provide for them.

This passage is raw and real. This passage must be read. This passage is current and timely. This passage is a wake up call. This passage holds the mirror to not just ancient Israelite society but it is recognition that not much has changed in 3,000 years since the reign of David. God calls us men to a higher calling. Christ following men must set the example to the women in our midst in our churches and to the society in general. Women do not deserve the fate of Tamar. The change starts with us – as the men who follow Jesus Christ as their Savior and Lord.

Amen and Amen.

2 Samuel 6:17-23
David Returns Home

One of the things that was so sad, now looking back, about the aftermath of my first marriage was how hatred and bitterness consumed the life of my first wife. She became so obsessed with getting even with me for ending the marriage (which was filled with the serious issues of her drug abuse, her possessive nature, her inability to maintain a job, and then the escalating terrorism of violence between us as I sought to end the marriage). After we separated, there were the constant harassing phone calls, the stalking, the love then hate all in the same conversation, it was her obsession to brow-beat me into submission and coming back to her. It was a time in which I lived in a “def-con 3” (to use the military term) mentality, always aware, senses heightened, always ready for a confrontation. She became so obsessed with destroying me that she lost friends over it. She ended up living with her second husband in their own secluded world in which they were right and everybody else was wrong. It was sad to watch bitterness take control of her life. I think the bitterness in her life which, in effect, became her god is what led her to die at the early of 55 almost 3 years ago now.

So, when I read about Michal’s reaction to David here in this passage, I thought of my first wife. If I was having too much fun after our separation and divorce, she would find something wrong with it and work whatever it was around to the fact that I had destroyed the family. No matter what it was, she could work that trail of anything that I did back to me destroying the family. In this passage, I see that same type of bitterness in Michal. What had changed since we saw when she met David in 1 Samuel to now. There had been a lot of water under the bridge I guess. But the bitterness over David dancing is just a tip of the iceberg. There must have been this smoldering bitterness within Michal where she got to the point that anything David did was wrong. No wonder he did not want to be with her as the end of the passage indicates. The bitterness of Michal drove David away. Let us read this passage, 2 Samuel 6:17-23, now together:

17 They brought the Ark of the Lord and set it in its place inside the special tent David had prepared for it. And David sacrificed burnt offerings and peace offerings to the Lord. 18 When he had finished his sacrifices, David blessed the people in the name of the Lord of Heaven’s Armies. 19 Then he gave to every Israelite man and woman in the crowd a loaf of bread, a cake of dates,[g] and a cake of raisins. Then all the people returned to their homes.

20 When David returned home to bless his own family, Michal, the daughter of Saul, came out to meet him. She said in disgust, “How distinguished the king of Israel looked today, shamelessly exposing himself to the servant girls like any vulgar person might do!”

21 David retorted to Michal, “I was dancing before the Lord, who chose me above your father and all his family! He appointed me as the leader of Israel, the people of the Lord, so I celebrate before the Lord. 22 Yes, and I am willing to look even more foolish than this, even to be humiliated in my own eyes! But those servant girls you mentioned will indeed think I am distinguished!” 23 So Michal, the daughter of Saul, remained childless throughout her entire life.

In this passage, we must take particular notice that here, even though it has been established in both 1 and 2 Samuel that Michal was David’s wife, she is noted as being the daughter of Saul. Is that not an interesting literary twist? Is it possible that the author was pointing out to the reader how similar her attitude in this passage is to that of her father, Saul? I think so. Her contempt for David could not have simply been set off by David’s grand entrance into Jerusalem with the ark. It must have been already smoldering. By the way David reacts to her, this may have been just the most recent confrontation between the two. Who knows? Scripture is not clear on this point. Perhaps, she thought it was undignified to be so concerned with public worship at a time when David needed to be working to ensure the stability of his now united kingdom. Maybe, she thought it was undignified for a king to display such emotion in front of his subjects. Or, even, she may have resented David taking her away from Palti. Further, this resentment may have been the result of seeing that during her time with Palti that David had taken other wives and concubines. Whatever the reason, this contempt she felt toward her husband escalated into a difficult confrontation. As a result of this confrontation, it appears that she fell out of favor with David and he did not have intimate relations with her for the rest of her life. Feelings of bitterness and resentment that go unchecked will destroy a relationship. Deal with your feelings before they escalate into open confrontation.

Sure, David probably contributed to Michal’s bitterness. No one gets bitter toward another person for no reason. But we must deal with bitterness in constructive ways. We cannot let our bitterness become our god and let it consume us to the point that it is all we can focus on. Once we make bitterness our god, it doesn’t matter if a person is contrite and humble before us and tries to make things right, the bitter person will still hold the original offense in front of the other person forever. There is no forgiveness in the bitter person. To forgive would mean to release the bitterness. Often people like having the pain of bitterness because it is the only thing that they have left. Bitterness has caused them to isolate themselves from others. Bitterness has taken over their life.

Thus, I think the takeaway from my own experience with my first wife and with the example of Michal here is that we must learn to forgive others or bitterness will become our god. Bitterness is never satisfied with any type of compensation or acts of contriteness by the offending person. Bitterness is always hungry. Bitterness consumes everything you feed it. Help us to be a people that forgives those who have offended us – even if they never apologize, but especially if they do. Help us to release the persons who have hurt us to you, oh Lord. Help us to not stay in the state of bitterness but to release it to you and move across the bridge into the state of living beyond bitterness. Help us also to see when we have hurt others and try to make things right with that person. Help us to try to reconcile such relationships. Help us to also love that person even if they refuse to forgive us for the things that we have done to hurt them. Help us to pray for those who have hurt us and for those that we have hurt. Help us to release these things to you and leave them there at your altar.

Amen and Amen.

2 Samuel 1:17-27 (Part 1 of 2)
David’s Song for Saul and Jonathan

Love you enemies. Lay down your life for those who hate and despise you. For all those that still despise him still and point to his moral failures as a man, there is no modern day man that I think epitomizes the ideal of loving those who hate as Martin Luther King, Jr. And, yes, there are those who are disappointed in how the victories for the oppressed have turned into a sense of entitlement among some of those he was trying to help as we continue to walk into the 21st century. And, yes, some have made it today as though we can no longer have real honest discussions about race relations for fear of being labeling racist if you push back against the ideals held dear by those he tried to help. There’s no denying in this age of polarization of ideals that the pace of social change is in some cases being ramrodded down our throats without discussion or glacially slow in others. Dr. King would be saddened by the lack of compromise for the purpose of progress in today’s world of political correctness where we are so afraid to speak out without causing a firestorm of bad press. Lost is the art of winning one battle and then the next that Dr. King lived out.

However, even with his failings as a man, I love the preacher in Dr. King. I love how he used the universal truths about love, life and liberty that come from God’s Word to change the world. I love the fact that he espoused loving your enemies. I loved his sermon/speeches. The man could preach. And he backed up his speeches with action. He was willing to love his enemies in the face of repeated hatred. He was willing to love his enemies in the face of repeated violence against himself and against those who had aligned themselves in the fight for basic civil rights of blacks in the South and for all those who were similarly oppressed. He was willing to sit down and have discussions with those who hated him. He sought social justice when everybody wished he would just leave it alone cause it was too hard. He spoke beautifully, eloquently, and logically about the wrongs against the oppressed in the South. No one could argue the logic and rightness of his cause. He was a preacher first and foremost. He loved God’s Word. His sermons and his writings are an amazing testament to a man, who like David had his moral failures, but a man who sought after God’s heart. When people pushed and pushed him to react with violence to the violence perpetrated against blacks demonstrating for their rights in the South. He reacted with non-violence. He often walked his people into situations where they all knew violence would be received to point out that his was an objective of love. He simply wanted America to live out the biblical ideals upon which it was supposedly founded. There were those such as Malcolm X and the Black Panther Movement that agreed with Dr. King’s movement but disagreed with the methods. They wanted violence for violence. However, these valid movements never advanced the cause of oppressed Southern blacks as much as Dr. King’s movement did. And oh how I can sit and listen to Dr. King’s speeches and sermons. Quite the preacher he was. His words can take you places and inspire you. There is no better speech that he gave than the March on Washington Speech. I never tire of the passage of that speech where he says:

I say to you today, my friends, so even though we face the difficulties of today and tomorrow, I still have a dream. It is a dream deeply rooted in the American dream. I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed, “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal.” I have a dream that one day on the red hills of Georgia, sons of former slaves and the sons of former slaveowners will be able to sit down together at the table of brotherhood. I have a dream that one day even the state of Mississippi, a state sweltering with the heat of injustice, sweltering with the heat of oppression, will be transformed into an oasis of freedom and justice. I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.

I HAVE A DREAM TODAY!

I have a dream that one day down in Alabama — with its vicious racists, with its Governor having his lips dripping with the words of interposition and nullification — one day right there in Alabama, little black boys and black girls will be able to join hands with little white boys and white girls as sisters and brothers.

I HAVE A DREAM TODAY!

I have a dream that one day every valley shall be exalted, and every hill and mountain shall be made low. The rough places will be plain and the crooked places will be made straight, “and the glory of the Lord shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together.”

This is our hope. This is the faith that I go back to the South with. With this faith we will be able to hew out of the mountain of despair a stone of hope. With this faith we will be able to transform the jangling discords of our nation into a beautiful symphony of brother-hood.

Oh man. That section of the speech gives me chills every time I read it or every time I see the black & white video from back in August 1963 of Dr. King uttering these words for the first time. This is the ideal. To love your enemies in the face of hatred such that one day they can through love no longer hate you. This is what Dr. King fought for. Love changes things. Not hate. Non-violence conquers violence. Violence only begets violence. Love is what changes things. Love wins.

That ideal of Dr. King. That which he was willing to die for – loving your enemies – and did is what I thought of this morning as I read this beautiful song of honor by David in 2 Samuel 1:17-27. What can inspire us more than David’s words here or Dr. King’s words above. Love wins. Hate loses. Now, let us read through this passage today (for the first of two blogs on this passage):

17 Then David composed a funeral song for Saul and Jonathan, 18 and he commanded that it be taught to the people of Judah. It is known as the Song of the Bow, and it is recorded in The Book of Jashar.[a]

19
Your pride and joy, O Israel, lies dead on the hills!
Oh, how the mighty heroes have fallen!
20
Don’t announce the news in Gath,
don’t proclaim it in the streets of Ashkelon,
or the daughters of the Philistines will rejoice
and the pagans will laugh in triumph.

21
O mountains of Gilboa,
let there be no dew or rain upon you,
nor fruitful fields producing offerings of grain.[b]
For there the shield of the mighty heroes was defiled;
the shield of Saul will no longer be anointed with oil.
22
The bow of Jonathan was powerful,
and the sword of Saul did its mighty work.
They shed the blood of their enemies
and pierced the bodies of mighty heroes.

23
How beloved and gracious were Saul and Jonathan!
They were together in life and in death.
They were swifter than eagles,
stronger than lions.
24
O women of Israel, weep for Saul,
for he dressed you in luxurious scarlet clothing,
in garments decorated with gold.

25
Oh, how the mighty heroes have fallen in battle!
Jonathan lies dead on the hills.
26
How I weep for you, my brother Jonathan!
Oh, how much I loved you!
And your love for me was deep,
deeper than the love of women!

27
Oh, how the mighty heroes have fallen!
Stripped of their weapons, they lie dead.

In this passage, we remember that Saul had caused much trouble for David, but when he died, David actually composed a song in memory of the king. Even though when translated to English the words do not flow very well but in Hebrew this is beautifully flowing song. David was a talented musician. He played the harp. He brought music into the worship services of the Temple. He wrote many of the Psalms (though we simply read them now and think of how beautiful they are even in translated English) which were used in the worship services in the Temple. He, as we know from 1 Samuel, played music in the court of King Saul – sometimes even as spears were thrown at him. He had every reason to hate Saul but he chose not to. He composes a song of lament and honor toward the man that wanted him dead. He chose to look for the good that Saul had done as king and to ignore the times of when Saul had attacked him. It takes courage and a humble heart to lay aside hatred and hurt and to respect the positive side of another person, especially an enemy.

Father in heaven, let us return to the ideals of Dr. King as he laid them out. Love wins. Communication wins. Ignorance and lack of communication loses. Hate loses. We do not stand on the throat of those who disagree with us. We convince them not of our ideals but of those in God’s Word. We convince them through love of the universal truths of God. We seek restoration and unity. Dr. King had the example of David right here in this passage. Man, could David have gone off and been bitter for wasting years of his life running from Saul. However, David never lost sight of the fact that Saul was a child of God and the anointed king of Israel. He chose to honor the man who hated him. He chose to honor the man who hated him enough to want to kill him. He chose to love the man who through a spear at him.

Father, that is your dream for us. That we see each other as valuable in God’s sight even when what that other person is saying makes my skin crawl and my blood boil. That we see each other as worthy of love because God loves us even when we are dead wrong about something. That we sit down and communicate with each other. That we sit down in love and honor and respect for one another such that love wins and hate loses. Jesus Christ did know less for us. He died for us when we show our contempt for Him when we live lives that are in opposition to His Word. Jesus died for us. Even in His own physical time of torment on earth, He could have down of the cross and took vengeance on those who were perpetrating violence against His body. However, He humbly took it all in love. His love for His enemies is our example. He knew the greater ideal was for them to come to know God and be reconciled to Him. We should see our enemies in the same way.

I have a dream that one day we will all be sitting at the banquet table of our Lord. I will be sitting beside those who have persecuted me, hated me, despised me, and we will be praising Jesus Christ together. If that happens then love will have won.

Amen and Amen.

Luke 3:25-38 — Oh here we go again, you might say to yourself, when you read this passage. Another biblical genealogy. The Old Testament frequently gives us these genealogies. But, this time it’s in the New Testament. Why does Luke wait til three and half chapters into his book to give us this genealogy and why does he give it to us at all?

You know, as I do these daily devotionals as we walk through entire books of the Bible, before I write what’s on my heart, I typically do a little research just to make sure that what’s on my heart is true to the meaning of the passage that I am writing about. Usually, there is a wealth of research out there online to rely upon. However, today, I find very little on this passage. It is a genealogy after all. Even the most avid readers of the Bible will admit to skipping over genealogies in the Bible. Long lines of who begat who with names that are difficult to pronounce. We often either skip through the begatting and move on to the next passage that to us has some meat to it. However, this is the Word of God, and if you are walking through entire books of the Bible, like we do here, then you have to deal with the tough passages. That’s where we are today. This is the Word of God and we must deal with it. 2 Timothy 3:16 tells us that all Scripture is God-breath and is useful for instruction. So, there is a point to these genealogies in the Bible and we must figure out what this genealogy in Luke 3 is teaching us.

First, it is interesting that the genealogy here is traced down through Jesus’ earthly mother, Mary. In a society that had a very low view of the legal status of women, it is almost radical that Luke would trace Jesus’ genealogy through his mother. Luke is admitting that Joseph was not the biological father of Jesus. Tracing his lineage through Joseph would be one of adoption rather than biology. However, the genealogy is biological through Mary. She physically gave birth to Jesus. As you see throughout Luke, he gives numerous mentions of women. As he researched his gospel, he found that Jesus himself elevated the stature of women and they played prominent roles in his ministry. Luke, as a physician, saw women as equals with men. To him, there was nothing in particular about men that gave them greater stature in the world. Thus, it is not surprising that Luke had the revolutionary idea of listing this genealogy as traced through Jesus’ mother rather than the normal way of tracing genealogies through fathers. To those who think that the Bible puts down women, just continue reading the gospel of Luke. Here, you will find that in Jesus’ ministry, women were important. They found more freedom and worth in the Jesus movement than in society in general. So, let no one tell you that Christianity oppresses women. They have played central roles in the faith from the beginning.

The second thing that is interesting here in this genealogy is the difference and similarities between it and the genealogy of Matthew 1. Matthew was writing for a mainly Jewish audience and his intent and purpose was to show the Jews that Jesus was indeed the Messiah. His genealogy’s purpose was to show Jesus’ Jewishness. He wanted to prove that Jesus was of royal descent and was fulfillment of the promises made to David. He need go no further then with his genealogy than back to David. Here, with Luke, you can see the difference. Luke traces Jesus’ genealogy to David and then goes on all the way back to Adam. Why did he do this? Luke wrote to a mainly non-Jewish Greek audience. The point in the genealogy is that Jesus was for everyone not just the Jews. He traced Jesus back to the first man — the one from whom all people were physically fathered. In this subtlety, Luke is allowing his readers to identify with Jesus not as someone from that highly religious and quirky people called the Jews but as everyman Jesus, everyday Jesus. Jesus is all inclusive. No one is excluded from His grace. The only requirement is that you have a pulse and believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God who died for your sins. Grace knows no race. Grace knows no national origin. Grace knows no gender. Grace knows no ethnicity. Grace is available to all through Jesus Christ. It does not matter who you are or where you’re from, Jesus has enough grace for you. That’s what this genealogy does. It confirms the message that Jesus is for every man, woman, and child. He is not the exclusive realm of a certain few.

The final thing that this passage tells us is that Jesus was real. He had family roots here on earth. Reading this genealogy you find that Mary came from a long line of the “Who’s Who” from the Bible. This is the family into which Jesus was born. It means that He was real. He was a member of a family. He probably celebrated birthdays, weddings, and other family events. He also probably wept at funerals of members of His extended earthly family who had passed away. He existed in family life for 30 years before He began His ministry. He knows of family life. He knows of the human existence in a fallen world. We know that Jesus existed in history because of the extrabiblical references to his ministry. But, this genealogy tells us that Jesus was not only a real guy that made his mark on human history but we know that He was part of a family. He knows of human existence. He knows family. Thus, He knows you. God was careful to show these names of these people who are part of Jesus’ family as a reminder to us that everyone has a name and every name is important. Jesus knows you. Jesus knows your hurts, habits and hangups. Jesus knows what you are going through. He just wants you to come to Him and ask Him to be your Savior so that your name came be added to Jesus’ family genealogy. He wants you to have your name listed in His book of life. He wants you to be part of His family. He wants you to be co-heirs of the Father’s promises with Him. He wants you in His genealogy.

Father, thank you for sending Jesus into the world through the womb of Mary. Jesus understands the human existence. He was part of a human family. His genealogy proves that He had a human existence and that He knows of the dangers, toils, and snares of human life. This passage also tells me too that Jesus is not the exclusive club that some may make Him out to be, He is for everyone. His grace extends to all. Thank you Father for showing us through this simple often overlooked way, a genealogy. Thank you for showing us that women are just as important to you as men are. It also validates that Jesus is for everyone. His grace extends to all. Thank you Father for sending your Son to be grace for all. All we have to do is believe on His Name. Amen.