Bible reading for September 23.
2 Samuel 19.
'And the king said to Shimei, 'You shall not die.' And the king gave him his oath." (2 Samuel 19:23)
RETURN AND FORGIVENESS. For once, Joab gives good advice to David, to honor those who stood by him (vv 1-8). King David begins his journey back to Jerusalem (vv 9-15). Along the way he shows mercy to Shimei (vv 16-23), and divides property between Mephibosheth and Ziba (vv 24-30). Since it was a case of he said / he said, could David ever know the real story? The king honors the kindness of Barzillai by taking Chimham into royal service (vv 31-40). There is, and will be, continuing animosity between the southern tribes (Judah and Benjamin) and the northern tribes (Israel)(vv 41-43). But David is magnanimous in receiving his place back from the hands of many of those who rejected him. If ever he could have been bitter toward the people it could have been at this time. His heart is inclined, however, to reconciliation and the restoration of the nation.
RECONCILIATION. This chapter is an example of the reconciliation that God gives through his Son. The importance of forgiveness and reconciled relationships is seen throughout Scripture (Matt 5:9, 10; 6:12; Eph 5:32). We ourselves should realize that we have spurned God and rejected Christ's rightful reign over us. But when we return in faith and repentance, he welcomes us and restores us to himself (Luke 15:20-24; 2 Cor 5:18-19). How vital it is that we also show a willingness to restore other broken relationships, to forgive and be forgiven, and to begin anew. It is to let God be the judge of the wrongs done. Someone once said that "forgiveness is me giving up my right to hurt you for hurting me." Have you been reconciled to the Lord? Are you forgiving others and seeking to do whatever is in your power to restore broken relationships?
2 Corinthians 12.
"But he said to me, 'My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.' Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me." (2 Corinthians 12:9)
WEAKNESS AND POWER. Paul is continuing the defense of his apostolic authority (see previous posts). He appeals to his care for the Corinthian believers, and to his character, motivation, and labors on their behalf. In this chapter he speaks again of his love for them (v 15), but first he makes clear that his calling is supernatural, coming from God, who chooses to reveal himself as he wills. The miraculous signs of an apostle accompanied Paul's ministry (v 12; cf Rom 15:19; Heb 2:3-4). Even his weaknesses were an occasion to showcase the power of God. Paul does not say what the "thorn in the flesh" was. Perhaps it was a chronic eye problem (Gal 4:13, 15; 6:11) or an especially intense opposition from Satan, but we do not know for sure. But Paul is content to be weak, trusting that Christ's power might be more clearly seen (cf 1 Cor 2:3-5).
REFLECT. Kintsugi [see photo] is "the Japanese art of repairing broken pottery by mending the areas of breakage with lacquer dusted or mixed with powdered gold, silver, or platinum. As a philosophy, it treats breakage and repair as part of the history of an object, rather than something to disguise" (Wikipedia). The broken pottery is made stronger, more valuable, and more beautiful by this repair -- the precious metal used to hold the vessel together is not hidden but open for all to see. As Christians we may be frustrated with our limitations in serving the Lord. It may be past failures, poor health, recurring depression, poverty, the lack of strength or talents, or being unknown or rejected by others. Do you ever chafe at these weaknesses and limitations? Do you feel powerless? How can we get to the place where, like Paul, we can boast all the more gladly of our weaknesses?
Image credit: Tea bowl repaired in the Kintsugi method; Wikimedia photo, public domain. 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.