Bible reading for September 22.
2 Samuel 18.
"And the king was deeply moved and went up to the chamber over the gate and wept. And as he went, he said, 'O my son Absalom, my son, my son Absalom! Would I had died instead of you, O Absalom, my son, my son!'" (2 Samuel 18:33)
ABSALOM DIES. The conspiracy fails, Absalom's army falls to David's, and Absalom is caught by his head (or long hair) in a tree: "...suspended between heaven and earth..." (v 9). It was a humiliating death as he hung there and was speared multiple times. There is much tension in this story between the gentleness David desires for his son and the judgment Joab inflicts. The characters in this story vacillate between the bad news of the loss of David's son and the good news that the insurrection was over. It was the most emotionally wrenching time of David's life.
REFLECT. I cannot say with certainty that this event is a "type", that is, a divinely-intended prophetic foreshadowing of NT truths. Yet still, it is a remarkable illustration of both the heart of David and the limits of his kingly power. David loved his son and was gentle to a fault with him. He could not control him, change him, nor take his place in judgment, though he wanted to. David himself was complicit in the sins of Absalom. It is a sad picture. But we can rejoice that there is the greater Son of David, Jesus, who was "lifted up from the earth" (John 12:32). We have a wholly innocent substitute in our King who died "instead of" us (v 33), bringing together heaven and earth. We like Absalom are rebels toward God's kingdom, and deserve such judgment as Absalom received. But unlike David, our Lord Jesus has the power to call us, control us, and change us, as well as take our place in judgment upon the tree of Calvary. And so we sing...
Bearing shame and scoffing rude, in my place condemned he stood,
sealed my pardon with his blood: Hallelujah, what a Savior!
Lifted up was He to die; "It is finished" was his cry;
now in heaven exalted high: Hallelujah, what a Savior!
--"Man of Sorrows, what a name," words by Philip Bliss (1875)
2 Corinthians 11.
"But I am afraid that as the serpent deceived Eve by his cunning, your thoughts will be led astray from a sincere and pure devotion to Christ." (2 Corinthians 11:3)
DIVINE JEALOUSY. Paul is continuing to defend his apostolic calling (see yesterday's post). He shares what his motivation is (vv 1-15) and how he has suffered on behalf of the gospel (vv 16-33). One reason the Corinthians looked down on Paul was that he was self-supporting. He did not charge for his teaching, unlike the professional teachers of his day. He had a blue-collar day job, and he received charitable gifts from other churches supporting the advance of the gospel. Paul was motivated by "divine jealousy" (v 2). He was called to protect God's people from seduction. The Corinthians were tolerant toward false teaching (v 4) and listened to others who claimed to be apostles (vv 5, 13). Perhaps these were early proto-Gnostics, who tried to fuse Greek philosophy or Jewish fables with the gospel. They were impressive, apparently. Paul, on the other hand, was unashamed of his suffering for the gospel.
REFLECT. Paul's ministry as an apostle becomes an example for pastors, elders, and teachers in the local church (Acts 20:26-32). Specifically, note the part about teaching and defending truth. Sometimes we think that pastors and elders are primarily to be caring, supportive, available, and affirming. That would be sufficient... if there was no devil around. Among the greatest dangers that God's people face are the lies that seduce them through false teaching. Sometimes it's from cults. Sometimes it's from popular preachers. Sometimes it's the lies our culture believes and promotes. A good shepherd carries a rod (to beat the predators) and a staff (to snag wandering sheep)(Psalm 23:4). Are you praying for your church leaders, that they would be bold to speak truth and to confront error?
Image credit: photo of a wolf in Germany, by Chris Ensminger 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. One recommended resource is NETBible.org, a ministry of bible.org.