Many in our world today say that God is either aloof or vindictive. Those who say he’s vindictive have the image of a petty God firing off lighting bolts at those who don’t pray just the right way. Yet reality often has a way or surprising us.
In 2 Samuel 24 God gives King David the opportunity to choose which judgment he would receive for acting in a sinful manner. He could choose a judgment from nature, a judgment from man, or a judgment from God.
David chose to be judged by God. But, why?
Listen to David’s own words: “Let us now fall into the hand of the LORD for His mercies are great, but do not let me fall into the hand of man.” (2 Sam 24:14) So who do you see as the lenient one…God or your fellows around you? Put differently, from whom have you received more mercy throughout your life? An honest answer to this question just might open our eyes to the fact that God exemplifies mercy and not just judgment. God is fair, yes, but he is also merciful.
The plain fact is that we will all mess up from time to time. The great truth is that mercy is to be found in God and his son Jesus Christ. The next time you find yourself needing to work through the results of a foolish act, take David’s advice and seek God’s judgment rather than human judgment…it just might save your life.
- How have you experienced the mercy of God in your life?
- Do you know someone (or were you someone) who believes that God is vindictive? What are some of the reasons this person offers to substantiate their claim? Are they valid? Why or why not?
Have you ever cried out to God in the midst of difficulty? What did you ask God to do? In Psalm chapter 3 King David was so distraught he did not even know what to ask for, he left that up for God to decide. So how did God respond to David during one of the most difficult moments of his life? God gave him rest. God gave him the peace needed to have a good night sleep. Our God is big and powerful. Yet He is wise and caring as well. God knows what we need even when we don’t. The hope of peace enough to sleep amidst the most difficult moments of our lives should come as welcome news. When the cancer has returned…when there is no explanation for the cause of the car accident…when he’s not coming home and this time he means it…God is big enough to give those of us who have broken hearts rest. The next time you face a difficult far bigger than you ever expected allow your eyes to turn to Psalm 3 and be reminded that God is big enough to handle whatever you are facing.
- Why is it hard to rest during a difficult or tragic season of our life?
- Have you ever experienced rest from the hand of God? What happened? How did it help?
Dust off your resume and take a peek at your “skills”. Do you have what it takes to be successful? Before you answer that question ponder the fate of the half-tribe of Manasseh in 1 Chronicles 5:23-26.
The Bible tells us that they were numerous and that at the helm were 7 qualified men. These men, the Bible tells us, where brave warriors. They were famous. They were the heads of their families. It would certainly seem as though they had the right skills for success. Yet, there was one problem. The Bible tells us that they were “unfaithful to the God of their fathers and served other gods.” This ultimately led to the exile of the entire tribe.
So come back to your resume for a moment. Are you developing your skills at the price of turning your back on God? If you truly want to be successful pursue righteousness. Make sure your relationship with God is firm. Only when we stand in right relationship with God will we find the true purpose of our skill set. Skills are important, but living in right relationship with God is what really matters.
1. What are some ways we can make sure that we are focusing on what really matters in our life on a daily basis?
2. What are some examples, Biblical or modern, of individuals who put God before their own “skill” and experienced success?
3. What are some examples, Biblical or modern, of individuals who did not put God before their own “skill” and experienced failure?
Many names found in the Bible bear testimony to the powerful work of God in that place. Yet the naming of the spring En Hakkore in Judges 15 is not one of these times.
En Hakkore is a Hebrew phrase “the spring of the caller” or “the spring of the namer”. As the story goes Samson had just fought with a thousand Philistines with the jawbone of a donkey being his only weapon. After gaining the victory he cries out to God because of His great thirst. Judges 15:19 tells us that in response to Samson’s cry God “opened up a hollow place in Lehi, and water came out of it.” Only after Samson refreshed himself did he name the spring. Look again at the title Samson gave to the spring…the spring of the one who calls. Or if I can modernize it a bit for us…the spring I called for and got because I asked. Samson was more interested in taking credit for getting God to do what He wanted than he was interested in thanking God for what God had given to him in his time of need.
Before you start harping on Samson stop and consider…do you have an En Hakkore sitting around in your past? When God uses you to accomplish something for the His kingdom are you quick to give Him the credit or do you start spinning a tale of epic adventure that casts yourself as the main character and relegates God into the background?
Today let seek to be men and women who give God the glory for all that he does instead of taking credit for things which we could never do in our own strength.
- Can you think of an En Hakkore moment in your life? What happened?
- What are some ways we can “rename” those events in our past in order to give the glory to God?
- What are some ways we can avoid naming events in our past after ourselves instead of giving God the glory?
I once read the story of a couple that had recently become new parents. In their joy to celebrate the birth of their baby they threw a grand party for all of their friends. As the guests started arriving the couple collected their coats and placed them on their bed as a convenience to the guests. After awhile people started asking about the baby, after all the party was for the child. In a moment of horror the new parents realized that they had left the baby on their bed. They rushed in only to find a tragedy. Their newborn lay smothered underneath all the coats on their bed. Forgetfulness can be deadly. In Deuteronomy 8 Moses warns of the dire consequences the people of Israel would face if they forgot the reality that it was God who had brought them out of Egypt and into the Promised Land. Those of us who follow Jesus Christ need to exercise equal caution. If we forget that it is Jesus Christ who saved us and not we ourselves we just might end up despising his gift of the cross…and that’s dangerous.
- What are some ways that you keep the Word of God in front of you as an individual or a family?