July 12, 2015

Misread and misrepresented

1 Samuel 20:1–21:15, 1 Peter 1:1–12, Psalm 121:1–122:9

Last week a Christian friend said that the Bible can be used to justify any sin. Instead of viewing Scripture as being totally open about the depravity of humanity, some think that its record of including ungodly behavior gives them license to do it too.

For instance, Abraham told Sarah to say something that was not totally true. Does that make it okay to lie? David arranged the death of Bathsheba’s husband. Does that make adultery and murder okay?

Some people also read sin into situations where it does not exist. That is, because a situation in the Bible is beyond their imagination or experience, they assume there is something wrong with it. The best example of that is the bond between David and Saul’s son Jonathan.

Jonathan was the assumed heir of the throne, but he knew that God appointed David as the next king. The usual response would have been jealousy on Jonathan’s part, but this young man desired the will of God and deeply cared about the one who would be the next king. He was not only respectful toward David, when his father attacked him, David knew he could safely talk to Jonathan.

“David fled from Naioth in Ramah and came and said before Jonathan, ‘What have I done? What is my guilt? And what is my sin before your father, that he seeks my life?’” (1 Samuel 20:1)

Soon after that, Jonathan made a covenant with the house of David, saying, “May the Lord take vengeance on David’s enemies.” And Jonathan made David swear again by his love for him, for he loved him as he loved his own soul. (1 Samuel 20:16–17)

Jonathan also said to David, “Go in peace, because we have sworn both of us in the name of the Lord, saying, ‘The Lord shall be between me and you, and between my offspring and your offspring, forever.’ ” And he rose and departed, and Jonathan went into the city. (1 Samuel 20:42)

In today’s world, male friendships are sometimes suspected of being something different from friendships. Some men avoid getting close to other men for fear of being misunderstood. Worse, some also read something into this story of David and Jonathan that does not fit the character and descriptions of these two men, perhaps to accuse them of evil, but more often to justify themselves or the sinful behavior of others. Enough said.

The NT reading speaks of those who know and love Jesus Christ and the great mercy of God that has “caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you, who by God’s power are being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials, so that the tested genuineness of your faith—more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire—may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ. Though you have not seen him, you love him. Though you do not now see him, you believe in him and rejoice with joy that is inexpressible and filled with glory, obtaining the outcome of your faith, the salvation of your souls.” (1 Peter 1:3–9)

Christians are imperfect and not sinless. This is why we need Jesus. This is why we call on Him to keep us from ruining our lives. His Word promises that He “will keep you from all evil; he will keep your life. The Lord will keep your going out and your coming in from this time forth and forevermore.” (Psalm 121:7–8)

I’m grateful for the saving and keeping power of God. People will misunderstand what God’s people do and what our lives are about. Through the centuries, we have been falsely accused and persecuted. But the Lord keeps us and gives us eternal life, not because of what we are or do, but because Jesus bore our sin on Himself. He is our gracious Savior who loves Abraham and David and even me. Because of what He did for us and because of who He is, even our grossest sins cannot separate us from His love. 

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