Romans, David, and Love for Enemies

The Death of Absalom, Gustav Dore

This week I read our Old Testament passages first before moving into the New, so by the time I read Romans, parts of 2 Samuel kept coming to mind. One part especially struck me from Romans 12 in the way we are to relate to our enemies.

David was by no means a perfect man, but he did display character unlike those around him. Starting back in 1 Samuel David has had many enemies, such as Saul, Abner, and Absalom. To these so-called enemies, David showed great respect and grace. In chapter 19 he is criticized for showing too much grief at the death of Absalom, who was his son, and his military commander complains and says David loves those who hate him.

But Romans 12 teaches us to bless those who persecute us and not to repay evil with evil. We are to love those who hate us. This certainly must be one of the most difficult commands placed upon us. We wish it could just stop at not repaying evil with evil. Couldn’t we just turn the other cheek and move along? Can’t I just walk away? To most such actions are commendable. But we’re called to do more.

It is too easy to support and encourage a perspective that views others as enemies (and not in a way to help target who we should love). We want a foil, a villain, an antagonist–someone or something to compare ourselves to and come out looking good. We’d rather demonize the enemy than sacrifice for their sake and show them love. This is not the way of the Christian.

Christ shows us a greater way, “Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.” When we were enemies, God showed his love for us in sending Jesus Christ.

We won’t be able to match his demonstration of love, but one simple way we could start is to hold our tongues when it comes to labeling others as ‘enemy.’

Whose Orders Do We Follow?

There is a soldier under the command of David who has gone out seeking to fight back against the opposing forces under Absalom. As he leaves he hears David mention that Absalom is to be protected. So when this soldier finds Absalom trapped and vulnerable to attack, he passes over him. When he gets back to his superior, Joab, and has an exchange that goes like this:

2 Samuel 18

And Absalom happened to meet the servants of David. Absalom was riding on his mule, and the mule went under the thick branches of a great oak, and his head caught fast in the oak, and he was suspended between heaven and earth, while the mule that was under him went on. 10 And a certain man saw it and told Joab, “Behold, I saw Absalom hanging in an oak.” 11 Joab said to the man who told him, “What, you saw him! Why then did you not strike him there to the ground? I would have been glad to give you ten pieces of silver and a belt.” 12 But the man said to Joab, “Even if I felt in my hand the weight of a thousand pieces of silver, I would not reach out my hand against the king’s son, for in our hearing the king commanded you and Abishai and Ittai, ‘For my sake protect the young man Absalom.’ 13 On the other hand, if I had dealt treacherously against his life (and there is nothing hidden from the king), then you yourself would have stood aloof.”

This soldier stands between two commands from two commanders. Even though he must have felt pressure to kill the enemy of David, he was more compelled to be obedient to him. He stands up to Joab, disregards his offers of money, and even draws to his attention the fact that David gave his command to protect Absalom in the presence of Joab.

At times we may stand between two opposing commands, but we should follow the lead of this unnamed man. Even in his dangerous position, he heeds the higher calling. We should recognize that the orders of our higher commander, of our Lord, should be what we obey over and sometimes against all other authorities.

Chronology of David

Having been through two books that follow much of David’s life, I wanted to find a resource that helped to take all the information and organize it. So I found this brief chronology of his life, and I think it should help. It’ll also come in handy once we get to 1 & 2 Kings and 1 & 2 Chronicles next quarter.*

Found at riverwoodchurchofchrist.org taken from the work of William H. Gross. Click for full-size.

*We go through Kings and Chronicles in what I’ll be calling the History Blitz… It’ll be a bit crazy.

Year in the Bible, Quarter 2, Week 8

It seems like so long ago we read about people like Noah and were reading some of the gospels of the New Testament. But then I look at a calendar. It hasn’t been all that long–only a matter of months. We began Year in the Bible back in March, and late March at that. It’s exciting to look back and think about all we’ve been able to read and all that we’ve learned from God through the scripture.

We’ve done so much and we’re not even halfway!

As I write that sentence, I realize some may interpret it negatively, as some sort of depressing statement of fact. We’re only halfway? We still have to so far to go? Sure, you could read it like that. But I read it in light of that first paragraph. I feel like I’ve learned so much and the experience has been great and if God can do so much with just these last several months, what will he do with the whole year?

So I say again, with excitement, we’re not even halfway!

For this week though we’re more than halfway through both 2 Samuel and Romans. It’s a lighter week as we finish off with a shorter section from the Old and we keep our pace with Romans. We’ve had sermons the last few weeks going along with readings from Romans and I hope that has helped those who have had the chance to be there in worship.

Enjoy this last week of familiar readings since next week we shift gears and begin into the Minor Prophets and go from a couple months of reading Paul to to reading the letters of Peter.

One more note, as I mentioned last week the focus passage for week 8 covers readings from week 7. Sorry for my confusing actions. I just wanted to reiterate that point so you don’t pull it up and think you’re going crazy. It’s me.

Making progress through Samuel and Romans

So we’ve finished the first half of 2 Samuel and it has read much like a soap opera. We have David’s contested rise to power, political maneuvers, adultery, murder, and high risk confrontations. And that’s just the first half. Hope you enjoy the second.

Prophet Nathan rebukes David for adultery with Bathsheba, Julius Schnorr von Carolsfeld

I wanted to talk more about Nathan’s rebuke of David this past week, but I made a bit of a mistake. In writing a focus passage for next week, I misread the chapter breakdowns and focused in on chapter 12, which actually falls during this week. So week 8 of Year in the Bible will have a focus passage from week 7. My apologies. At least it will be easy to make sure you’ve read that part.

As I had mentioned yesterday, I’d love to hear any feedback about what we’ve been reading. Romans is a long letter that we’ll be finishing next week, but 1 & 2 Samuel taken together is another long block of that goes together. Given that we’ve spent so much time in them, I’d love to hear what is standing out most to you. Each week’s focus passage begins by asking what stands out to you. So I’m asking that in regards to four weeks. What has jumped out from Paul’s letter? What are you learning from 1 & 2 Samuel and seeing David become king? Whether you want to send me a reference to a verse, a few sentences, or a long essay as an answer, I’m open to it all.

I hope as you read you are taking something away from it.

Undignified Worship

In chapter six of 2 Samuel David celebrates “with all his might” as he dances before God. There is plenty to say about this passage, such as the energy we should devote to the worship of God or the importance of spouses to share certain commitments and priorities, which is not the case in David’s wife, who criticizes her husband for such an act.

But instead of that, I’ll take it mainly as an excuse to post another video from David Crowder – Undignified. It’s taken from 2 Samuel 6:22. David’s wife, Michal, communicates her displeasure that her husband is dancing around in his underwear looking foolish. Michal actually despises David in her heart for doing so. In response David doesn’t apologize for such an action instead says that he “will become even more undignified than this” (2 Sam 6:22a NIV).

We don’t worship God because it looks good. David finds joy in God and cannot rejoice reservedly. He has to worship with all his might as he dances before God. If that means he finds himself contemptible, so be it. He’ll become even more undignified if that’s what it takes to worship God.