I hope you are reading your Bible steadily through the summer. I hope you don’t miss a day. “On his law he meditates day and night” (Psalms 1:2). I pray that there are times when it tastes so good, you slow down and steep your heart in it. Today was an especially rich day for me.
I was reading in four parts of the Bible—not for any preparation, but just to feed my soul. In every text another text came to mind that made each clearer. And that blew some fog away so I could see and enjoy God more fully.
1. Why did Saul die?
- “Saul took his own sword and fell upon it.” (1 Chronicles 10:4)
- “So Saul died for his breach of faith. He broke faith with the Lord in that he did not keep the command of the Lord, and also consulted a medium.” (1 Chronicles 10:13)
- “The Lord put him to death.” (1 Chronicles 10:14)
One reason Saul died is that he committed suicide. Another is that he broke faith with the Lord much earlier. Another is that God put him to death. None of these excludes the others. To say God is the decisive actor does not mean Saul did not act. To say there are physical causes for a death (suicide) does not mean there were not moral causes (infidelity).
To say that Saul brought his demise on himself (by infidelity and suicide) does not mean God did not bring it on him. We would be unfaithful to Scripture if all we said was that the reason Saul died was the natural consequence of his own behavior. We must also say, “The Lord put him to death.”
There was real punishment, not just impersonal, natural consequences. God is personal. God put him to death. There was punishment by a judge and executioner. There was wrath. The Bible is designed to make sure we do not turn death and hell into impersonal consequences. “The Lord put him to death.”
Therefore, I was sobered this morning. I trembled in my spirit. I bowed to God’s right and authority to give and take life. I reverenced him. Blessed be the name of the Lord.
2. Who will benefit from promises made to David?
- “I will make a horn to sprout for David; I have prepared a lamp for my anointed. His enemies I will clothe with shame, but on him his crown will shine.” (Psalms 132:17–18)
- “Come, everyone who thirsts, come to the waters; and he who has no money, come, buy and eat!... And I will make with you an everlasting covenant, my steadfast, sure love for David.” (Isaiah 55:1, 3)
Whoever comes to God through Jesus Christ, his Son, thirsting for what he is, rather than depending on who we are or what we do, God will make with that one a covenant.
What covenant? A covenant defined and secured by God’s “sure love for David.” I take that to mean that I am included in the Davidic covenant. What David gets I will get in Christ Jesus.
And what does that include? A horn will sprout for me. That is, great strength will fight for me and protect me. There will be a God-prepared lamp for me. That is, light will surround me and darkness will not overcome me. There will be a crown for me. That is, I will reign with the Son of David and sit with him on his throne. “The one who conquers, I will grant him to sit with me on my throne” (Revelation 3:21).
It is an astonishing thing that I will benefit from the promises made to David. God means for me to be astonished. He means for me to leave my devotions astonished at the power and authority and surety with which I am loved by God.
3. Do everything in the name of Jesus.
- “Whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus.” (Colossians 3:17)
- “The seventy-two returned with joy, saying, ‘Lord, even the demons are subject to us in your name!’” (Luke 10:17)
Do everything with a sense of dependence on the power and authority of the Lord Jesus. Do everything with a view to Jesus being honored in it. Do everything with a view to others being helped by Jesus in it.
Can Jesus be any more pervasive than this in our lives—that we do everything in his name?
4. Who forgives whom first?
- “Forgive us our sins, for we ourselves forgive everyone who is indebted to us.” (Luke 11:4)
- “As the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive.” (Colossians 3:13)
When Jesus teaches us to pray that God forgive us “for we ourselves forgive,” he is not saying that the first move in forgiveness was our move. Rather it goes like this: God forgave us when we believed in Christ (Acts 10:43). Then, from this broken, joyful, grateful, hopeful, experience of being forgiven, we offer forgiveness to others. This signifies that we have been savingly forgiven. That is, our forgiving others shows that we have faith; we are united to Christ; we are indwelt by the Spirit.
But we still sin (1 John 1:8, 10). So we still turn to God for fresh applications of the work of Christ on our behalf—fresh applications of forgiveness. We cannot do this with any confidence, if we are harboring an unforgiving spirit (Matthew 18:23–35). That’s why Jesus says we ask for forgiveness because we are forgiving. This is like saying: “Father, continue to extend to me the mercies purchased by Christ because by these mercies I forsake vengeance and extend to others what you have extended to me.”
O, how sweet is the word of God! I looked out my window into the bright morning and said: I love you, God. I love you, Lord Jesus. I love your word. O what a privilege to know you and to have your word. Please keep me faithful to it. In Jesus’ name. Amen