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Bitter or Better?

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Today’s Bible reading: 2 Samuel 1-2:11; John 12:20-50; Psalm 118:19-29; Proverbs 15:27-28

David receives the news of the death of Saul and Jonathan (2 Samuel 1:4) from an Amalekite who is lying about having killed Saul himself. This man expected a reward from David and he brings “proof” that he killed Saul in the form of Saul’s crown which he really just picked up from the battlefield.

Sadly this lie costs this man his life (2 Samuel 1:15) – more proof that sin doesn’t pay.

David had been running from Saul for years. His life was a mess. He could have easily rejoiced at the news of Saul’s death. But instead he mourned for Saul, Jonathan, and the entire nation of Israel (2 Samuel 1:12).

For the most part David handled these difficult years well. Whereas Saul chose to become bitter, David chose to become better. Here we see that we can choose how we are going to react to any given situation. David’s song of lament shows that he kept his heart from hating Saul (2 Samuel 1:19-27). As we learned in Proverbs 4:23, we must guard our heart above all else because everything we are flows from it.

David then does the right thing and seeks guidance from God (2 Samuel 2:1). Considering he had turned his back on Israel, this may not have been the best time to return home. So David seeks God’s direction. Here we see David being aware that this is a very vulnerable time for both him and Israel. He acts appropriately by being aware of the feelings of others.

In 2 Samuel 2:4 the people come to him and make him king over Judah. But there is a problem. Abner, Saul’s cousin, makes Ishbosheth, Saul’s son, king over the rest of Israel (2 Samuel 2:8-9).

David could easily have charged back into Israel and declared himself king. After all, God had anointed him future king of Israel some 20 years earlier. But instead he waits on God’s timing. God had made a promise. And David was spiritually strong enough to believe God and wait on His perfect timing.

It’s interesting how Jesus refers to His upcoming crucifixion as “being glorified” (John 12:23). The world would look at this event as a humiliating ending for Jesus. But He knew what it was really all about – bringing eternal life to those who believe (John 12:24).

If we love this world and the things it has to offer we will be blind to our need for Jesus and will therefore fail to obtain eternal life. The only way to eternal life is to disregard this life (John 12:25).

In John 12:27 we see a very human side of Jesus. The cross is rapidly approaching. He knows that and He is getting nervous about it. He thinks about asking God to stop it from happening. But He knows that the cross was the very reason He was sent to earth. He will choose to obey God.

The crowd can’t understand how the Messiah, which is who Jesus claimed to be, could die (John 12:34). Apparently they had not been taught well in the synagogue. Here we see the importance of 1) attending a good church that teaches the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth, and 2) studying the Bible for ourselves.

There are many churches that pick and choose which Biblical passages they will teach. They select the ones that already fit their pre-existing beliefs. Catholics choose passages that seem to imply we can earn our way to heaven. Others ignore passages that state that homosexuality is a sin. Any church that does not teach the entire Bible as being 100% true and 100% the word of God should be avoided.

Notice how “most” of the people did not believe in Jesus (John 12:37) but “many” did (John 12:42). But those who did were afraid to admit it because they were worried about retribution. I think the United States is the same way today. Jesus’ name is reviled by many, including our government. It is becoming more difficult to openly profess faith in Christ without some backlash. This can be intimidating. But we need to continue to tell others about Jesus so that they can believe and be saved. It’s not about us. It’s about them.

Jesus makes it very clear that He is accepting of all people – He did not come into the world to judge it but to save it (John 12:47). Jesus isn’t going to condemn anyone for being a sinner. He is going to welcome each and every one who believes.

Psalm 118:29 reminds us that we give thanks to God for one reason – because He is good. Everything God allows in our lives is for our own benefit. He loves us and always will.

One characteristic of a godly person is to think carefully before speaking (Proverbs 15:28). We are all tempted to repay evil words in kind. But its best to repay evil with love as both Paul (Romans 12:21) and Peter (1 Peter 3:9) remind us.

Comments? Questions? I’d love to hear from you. Please feel free to contact me about this post


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