Bible reading for September 18.
2 Samuel 14.
"Now Joab the son of Zeruiah knew that the king's heart went out to Absalom." (2 Samuel 14:1)
CONFLICTED. Joab is imitating Nathan the prophet (12:1-7), but his counsel was not good. David's dilemma was the result of a long period of neglecting the counsel of God: as king he was not to take multiple wives (he did). He could not have known his children well. As king he should have vindicated his daughter Tamar and brought Amnon to justice (he did not). He is obviously conflicted about Absalom. Does he love his children more than God? Was he over-indulgent or absent as a father, neglecting the godly discipline they needed? Even with the return of Absalom, David is compromising and not dealing with things.
NICE HAIR. Absalom is a train wreck about to happen. He is winsome, charismatic, handsome. When his long locks were cut once a year, his hair weighed five pounds. He'll soon rank high in the polls and win the hearts of the people. But he is cruel and destructive, seen not only in the murder of Amnon but also in setting Joab's field on fire. He's a bad apple and will soon cause his father much more heartbreak. No one can hurt us like family.
REFLECT. Sometimes our biggest family problems are of our own making, the result of long periods neglecting the counsel of God. We must ask ourselves, where am I neglecting God's will in order to indulge my family? Am I a good disciplinarian like our Father in heaven? Do I embrace the truth that love + discipline = "the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it" (Heb 12:11)? Our goal should be to love God by loving our children, and vice versa, to love our children by loving God first.
2 Corinthians 7.
"I am acting with great boldness toward you; I have great pride in you; I am filled with comfort. In all our affliction, I am overflowing with joy." (2 Corinthian 7:4)
PAUL'S HEART. From time to time people have said to me, "I love Jesus, but I don't really like the Apostle Paul." This, of course, is dealing with caricatures. People read a few things Paul wrote and think, well, he's the brainy theologian who wrote Romans. Or, he's just a rabbi who hated women. Yet, there was probably no one in all of history who was more Christ-like than Paul. The Apostle Paul loved his Lord Jesus supremely and served his people with zeal and passion. He yearned for people to know the Lord and to grow in the Lord. We catch a glimpse of his heart in this chapter. He's emotionally connected to these people: "I rejoice, because I have perfect confidence in you" (v 16).
GODLY GRIEF. As we saw in today's reading in 2 Samuel above, love means that we care enough to confront. We love God by loving others, and we love others by loving God first. There is a place for reproof in the Christian life, and there is a place for sadness when we realize our sin: "For godly grief produces a repentance that leads to salvation without regret, whereas worldly grief produces death" (v 10). The difference for the Christian is, reproof leads us to confess our sin to the Lord and to know his abundant forgiveness. The sadness we may feel at our failures before the Lord is not the final goal. Turning around is the goal. Returning to the Lord is the goal. Knowing afresh his forgiveness, his love, his life, and his good salvation is the goal.
REFLECT. We must ask ourselves from time to time, what am I sad about? Is it leading me to the Lord or to despair? Faith makes the difference. If I am suffering the reproof of the Lord (or of his church), then I should look up and realize this truth: "...he disciplines us for our good, that we may share his holiness. For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it" (Hebrews 12:9-11).
Image credit: photo by Joshua Earle on Unsplash. We are following the Robert Murray M'Cheyne (RMM) two-year reading schedule, as arranged by D. A. Carson. Scripture quotations, unless otherwise noted, are from The ESV® Bible (The Holy Bible, English Standard Version®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved. The NET Bible is a free, online resource, and a ministry of bible.org.