His Justice

gavel

2 Samuel 16:12 “Perhaps the LORD will see my affliction and restore goodness to me instead of Shimei’s curses today.”

I had never taken a collection from the poor at one of our chapel times, except for this once. But the need was great and they were no less excited about the opportunity than I was. It was to purchase some property beside us for the future of a long term drug/alcohol rehab center. The city owned the property and was selling it by a sealed bid process.  We turned our bid in and learned there was another bidder! The day came when the bids were opened and we celebrated to learn that we had out-bid our competitor by 7000 dollars. But a few weeks later, a letter arrived in the mail from the city manager stating they were rescinding the sale of the property.  Without going into all the details, my discovery of the specifics left me to believe that the fiasco was the epitome of corrupt politics.

It was one of the most difficult times for me in ministry.  I felt unwanted, disliked and unheard. I came close to hiring a legal team in Kansas City to sue the city. I wanted justice.

Does anything rouse us more than being picked on when we’re the underdog and have done nothing wrong? It may be the greatest fuel for revolt. It’s the reason Peter picked up the sword on the night of Jesus’ arrest.  It was the reason James and John wanted to call down fire from heaven. And I’m sure there was something in David that day as he was being cursed by Shimei that wanted to yell, “Off with his head!”

We all want justice. But whose justice is it?

We’ve all experienced times when we’re the underdog, unjustly persecuted, a victim of someone else’s sin. And in those moments, it’s easy for us to begin layering on the armor of a prosecutor, and then the layer of a defense attorney and finally the layer of judge. But consider that the Holy Spirit does a better job of conviction that any prosecutor, Jesus does a better job of interceding than any defense attorney and our Father in heaven, the author of justice, is a more perfect judge in every situation.

It’s His Justice.

David’s action in this passage teaches us; He is the One to turn to in the midst of persecution, betrayal and defeat. We, too, should say “Perhaps the Lord will see my affliction and restore goodness to me instead.”

David is a great model of a guy who never tried to work it out on his own.  If he was up against a giant, he trusted God. If he was surrounded by enemies, he cried out to God. If he was guilty, he repented to God.  And in this case, he was cursed and afflicted, but instead of retaliating, he waited on God.  What a model of God-dependence. Let’s model it, too.

The Promise and the Kiss

gullibility

2 Samuel 15:6 Absalom did this to all the Israelites who came to the king for a settlement. So Absalom stole the hearts of the men of Israel.

I was young in ministry, in the first few years, when a well-dressed articulate guy pulled up in what I think was a Lamborghini. Whatever it was it had doors that raised overhead and an engine that sounded like those doors might double as wings. He seemed interested in my ministry, asked a lot of questions and then told me of his NASA-level entrepreneurial exploits that had landed him millions. He said he wanted to give me one of those millions. So I listened. Okay, I actually did more than listen. I met with him… a few times over a number of days. Admittedly, my attention was on this guy more than it should have been. Ended up he was a liar. And one might also consider him a thief. He certainly stole my attention.

Absolam did the same. He promised to distribute settlements to all those who were in want. He made a promise and he stole their attention.

But he did more than just that. He kissed them and stole their hearts.

Sounds like some politicians, yes? They promise what you hope for and tell you what you wish. It’s the promise and the kiss.

From his stump he cries, “Great people of the state of Missouri, listen to me! Your hard work built this state! Your character has made it strong! Your love for God and your commitment to your families is an example and an inspiration to this nation! (kiss). You deserve better schools, better roads, and a better economy! And when you elect me this next term, I promise…”

The kiss. The promise.

The deceitful duo in masquerade to steal your heart. And Oh! How many hearts have been stolen by elected officials in this very way preying on millions with misguided hopes and misunderstandings of justice.

It’s not just bad government and corrupt politicians in bondage to power. It’s the corrupt businessman who promises more than his product can deliver and makes you feel like a winner for wanting it. It’s the ministry leader who pedals numbers that insinuate great success while he makes you feel like a saint when you give (and like something else when you don’t.)

And consider Satan.

Didn’t he try the same tactic? After 40 days of fasting, the Devil tempted Jesus with that old “kiss and promise” trick.

“You’re the Christ. You can turn stone into bread. You’re the son of God. You command the Angels. (kiss) And if you worship me, I promise I’ll give you all the kingdoms of the world.”

The kiss. The promise.

How can the Christian guard his heart against such trickery? Before you cast your vote or pledge your allegiance, consider less the promise and the kiss but rather put Christ’s selfless attention on those parties involved that might suffer collaterally from actions based in such selfish motive. An Irish economist, George Bernard Shaw said, “A government with a policy to rob Peter to pay Paul can be assured of the support of Paul.” Maybe. Unless Paul loves Peter.

Along those lines, it is fair to ask if those who pledged their allegiance to Absalom would have done so if they had foreseen what would be written about the effect of their decisions just 24 verses later:

David was climbing the slope of the Mount of Olives, weeping as he ascended. His head was covered, and he was walking barefoot. Each of the people with him covered their heads and went up, weeping as they ascended.

Thousands of years ago, Evil used Absalom to steal hearts. The tactics used then are still used today. Beware of his promise and his kiss; those feel goods and false hopes. The Devil wants to steal your heart and the only way to surely safeguard it from such plunder is to give it to Jesus.

Merciful Justice

gods justice

2 Samuel 14:14 We will certainly die and be like water poured out on the ground, which can’t be recovered. But God would not take away a life; He would devise plans so that the one banished from Him does not remain banished.

At one time or another, we’ve all heard or maybe even said, “He’ll get what he deserves.” The phrase is common because of an instinctual expectation for fairness in life, for justice. You do well, you deserve good. You do poorly, you deserve less. This sense of justice is reinforced at a young age. Do well in school, get an A. Do poorly, get an F. Behave and get a gold star. Misbehave and lose your recess. Even as adults, when we excel at our work, we get a raise. Laziness results in demotion or job loss. Of course, mostly we think of justice in a criminal context. Do what’s right, stay free. Do what’s wrong and lose your freedom or even your life.

In a way, it’s black and white, logic based and almost mathematic. Personally, I like that, probably too much. I think David liked it, too.

His son Absalom had killed Amnon, his brother, and the king had banished him for it. It was just. And king David stood on that even when his heart yearned for Absalom. Justice must be done. Joab noted the king’s sorrowful disposition and called for a very intelligent woman who visited the king and successfully convinced him to change his mind.  She said to David,

“He (God) would devise plans so that the one banished from Him does not remain banished.”

Some versions read, “He plots so that the one who is cast out will be cast out no longer.”

Consider that God’s justice is different than man’s.  Punishment equitable to the crime is just in our minds, but God is interested in seeing the prisoner, the outcast and the banished set free and then reconciled to right standing. In fact, He’s more than interested. He’s devising ways to get it done.

Maybe God’s justice includes mercy and even grace.

Mercy is not black and white or logic based at all! And grace? It even goes beyond mercy! Mercy cancels the sentence and relents from punishment, but grace goes even further, extending a hand of help and the hope of restoration to one who deserves only the rod.

I pray that we partner with God in his plot to bring us and others closer to Him, but I also pray for myself, that I would adopt a new sense of justice; one that is never void of mercy and grace.