Friday, November 11, 2016

Difficult Choices

Friday, November 11, 2016
There was a famine during David’s reign that lasted for three years, so David asked the Lord about it.  And the Lord said, “The famine has come because Saul and his family are guilty of murdering the Gibeonites.”  So the king summoned the Gibeonites.  They were not part of Israel but were all that was left of the nation of the Amorites.  The people of Israel had sworn not to kill them, but Saul, in his zeal for Israel and Judah, had tried to wipe them out.  David asked them, “What can I do for you?  How can I make amends so that you will bless the Lord’s people again?”  “Well, money can’t settle this matter between us and the family of Saul,” the Gibeonites replied.  “Neither can we demand the life of anyone in Israel.”  “What can I do then?” David asked.  “Just tell me and I will do it for you.”  Then they replied, “It was Saul who planned to destroy us, to keep us from having any place at all in the territory of Israel.  So let seven of Saul’s sons be handed over to us, and we will execute them before the Lord at Gibeon, on the mountain of the Lord.”  “All right,” the king said, “I will do it.”  The king spared Jonathan’s son Mephibosheth, who was Saul’s grandson, because of the oath David and Jonathan had sworn before the Lord.  But he gave them Saul’s two sons Armoni and Mephibosheth, whose mother was Rizpah daughter of Aiah.  He also gave them the five sons of Saul’s daughter Merab, the wife of Adriel son of Barzillai from Meholah.  The men of Gibeon executed them on the mountain before the Lord.  So all seven of them died together at the beginning of the barley harvest.  
2 Samuel 21:1-9(NLT)
I do not question the truthfulness of Scripture simply because of passages like this one.  The truth, whole truth and nothing but the truth is always truth; sometimes not pretty!
But I often question my interpretation of Scripture because of passages like this one.  How can you know what is in the mind of God when He is good with having seven children of a king put to death because their father/grandfather sinned? 
And did God bring the famine in the land in the first place?  That famine certainly killed many more innocents than a few grandchildren.  And what kind of choice was it that David offered to the Gibeonites?  And were they not taking revenge – which is supposed to be God’s prerogative alone?  Did nobody, including God, understand that none of this is fair?  This seems so contradictory to everything I know Scripture says about the nature of God.  Where does that leave me?
Well, when you’ve asked the questions about the elephant in the room, what next?  Well, you ask those questions about yourself too.  For instance, what about the short-cuts you’ve taken to get where you are.  Were you always fair?  Did you never take advantage?  Did you never even hope for revenge?  No, your hands are not clean, so it’s impossible to judge God or anyone else’s motives.
So what then?  In a phrase:  beg for wisdom!
If you need wisdom, ask our generous God, and he will give it to you. He will not rebuke you for asking.  James 1:5(NLT)
Indeed I have asked God to give me wisdom about many things. And I have asked God for understanding about this case of David’s offer to compensate the Gibeonites because of the monstrous actions of their former king, Saul.  I’m still not settled about why, and I know that will be something the Lord answers in His own time, or it will be something I’ll ask Him when I get to see Him face to face. 
But for the meantime I will take lessons from such perplexing conundrums.  And the main lesson I see in this event is that repentance in the midst of crisis can bring more heartache and tougher choices than you ever imagined. 
Coming face to face with your own sin will do that!  It's part of the cost of choosing to rebel against God's way.
And the corollary lesson is that it is best to not turn away; face your own sins and follow-through with obeying God!  There’s no other way to deal with sin than to confess it and stand at the mercy seat of God’s forgiveness.

For You Today

You don’t have to understand everything God does; simply trust that He is good.
You chew on that as you hit the Rocky Road…have a blessed day!

[i] Title image: Ian Paterson, via Wikimedia Commons

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