Why me?

kitten

2 Samuel 22:20

He brought me out to a spacious place;
He rescued me because He delighted in me.

It’s likely right now that Jordan is working out the last minute details of a rescue. One of their pilots is being held by the Islamic terrorist group ISIS and they’ve agreed to a “prisoner” trade to ensure his release. Who’s the swap? A woman who shares responsibility for the death of more than 60 people. They must really want their pilot back!  A Japanese man is also being held by this hostage group. How can they rescue him? 200 million, says ISIS.  Sounds like these rescues can be very costly. Some even claim we lost six of our own soldiers in an attempt to rescue Bergdahl.

So why the rescue?

My son recently dropped his new iPhone in the surf. I’m sure he did everything he could to rescue his phone from the salt water before he laid it to rest.  Why? It was valuable to him because it was useful, full of information that he’d plugged into it. Could that be part of the thrust to rescue a soldier? After all, they’ve put a lot information and training resource into a pilot.

Contrarily, I saw a video yesterday of a fireman rescuing a kitten. No significant investment had been made in the kitten and it was of no utility to the owner, but anyone who watched the video with half a heart would feel sorry for this limp kitten being resuscitated.  Is it because we feel sorry for a person that we desire his rescue?

Value or Pity.  I suppose both could play a part in rescue.

In this chapter, David describes his own rescue. The exact circumstances are not discussed, so the reader is left unsure if he’s recalling a time when he was chased by Saul or maybe when he was in the thick of it with the Philistines. Whatever the predicament, he poetically paints it as certain peril. He describes death, destruction and Sheol as enormous waves that overwhelm him, a torrential current against which he cannot fight, ropes that bind him rendering his effort useless and as a trap that will swallow his life to the grave.

“I called to the LORD in my distress;
I called to my God.
From His temple He heard my voice,
and my cry for help reached His ears.”

Yes. God rescued him. Because He was valuable to him? Because He felt sorry for him? No. It was neither value or pity that moved the heart of the Lord on David’s behalf. Rather, as David points out, because “He delighted in me.”

How important it is for us to understand that God rescued us from the grip of death and hell because He delighted in us!

You know those Christians who try to do every good thing under the sun but never seem content or at peace? Maybe they think they were rescued because of their utility, because God had a plan and a purpose for their lives. I suppose if I believed that, I, too, would base my existence on fulfilling the plan, on being useful.

On the other hand, you’ve probably met a Christian who does very little to expand the Kingdom believing God could never really use him. Could his conversion be based in pity? That maybe God just felt sorry for His condition and like the fireman who did his job, rescued the kitten and then left the scene, God too has done His job and then left the scene. This poor theology leaves the Christian impotent, meandering through life with a “Thanks for the rescue, God. Hope to see you when I die” apathy.

God has rescued us because He first delighted in us. Does He have a plan and a purpose for us? Certainly. Does He feel sorrow or pain when we’re sorrowful and in pain? Yes. Jesus wept. But our rescue wasn’t based in our value or His pity, but rather His delight and understanding that is the beginning of a fruitful and adventurous life based in relationship with your maker.

Prayerful Inquiry

inquiry

2 Samuel 21:1a  During David’s reign there was a famine for three successive years, so David inquired of the LORD.

I have dealt with a great variety of people over the years. Some were very good listeners, slow to speak, wise and insightful.  Others were mentally impaired, slow to process and slow to respond.  There’s a big difference between patience and retardation, but sometimes they can look the same. In this instance, I might put David in the retarded group. Three years of famine and then he inquires of the Lord? If this was a case of patience, I sure wouldn’t describe it as commendable.

Sometimes we just forget to talk to God about the famine in our life – that thing that’s been broken, the relationship that still hurts, the job your sure you shouldn’t be in.  When something’s not working right, how long do you wait? Three years?

Many times I’ve been under a car, banging my knuckles, straining my neck and exasperating myself trying to fix it, whatever “it” is. In retrospect, I’m amazed how often I wait until I’m at my end before I ask for God’s help. It seems David did the same. Three years of famine before he inquired of the Lord!

But don’t you think he had prayed about it? Scripture eludes to this. In verse 14, after David has been obedient, it reads, “After this, God answered prayer for the land.” Yes, I imagine David had prayed during the three years of famine, but the prayers hadn’t been answered!  Why?

Because he didn’t know what he needed to do. He hadn’t prayerfully inquired. There’s a difference in these Hebrew words, “prayer” (atar) in vs. 14 meaning to entreat or supplicate and “inquire” (baqas) in vs. 1 meaning to seek or examine.

Many times we pray, entreating God to intervene, telling God what He knows, reminding Him what He’s written, claiming in faith what we think we need or rebuking with authority the problem we can’t seem to solve. Prayer, prayer and prayer. But where’s the examination or the prayerful inquiry? Had David simply inquired of the Lord in the beginning, I’m sure God would have told him that the famine was the result of a broken promise to the Gideonite people and David would have promptly brought justice to the situation and two years of famine could have been avoided.

How many years has the same flaw been plaguing your character or the same problem been living in your household. What is the stronghold or infirmity that doesn’t seem to give way no matter how much you pray? Maybe you have the cart before the horse. Next time you meet God about it, consider inquiring before proclaiming.

Mortally Wounded

mortally wounded

2 Samuel 20:10 Amasa was not on guard against the sword in Joab’s hand, and Joab stabbed him in the stomach with it and spilled his intestines out on the ground. Joab did not stab him again for Amasa was dead. Joab and his brother Abishai pursued Sheba son of Bichri.
He may have been dead, but he sure didn’t look like it. Verse 12 says he was “writhing in his blood” in the middle of the road. I imagine he was also hollering a few choice words about Joab or maybe uselessly pleading for help. One man finally drug him out of the middle of the road he was such a distraction.

So why does scripture say Amasa was dead? Because he was mortally wounded. There was no saving Amasa. Even if he could have gathered all his bowel together and stitched that which needed stitched, infection would eventually set in, sepsis and then death. Amasa was a dead man and Joab knew it. Apart from a physician with a new medical bag of tricks, it was hopeless.

So it is today. People live on with deep injuries caused by horrific abuse, neglect and trauma; injuries that have given way to an infection of despair and poverty to which the soul will eventually succumb.  Those people are in our city, sometimes our own neighbors, writhing in pain and anguish, mortally wounded with no hope. How do we handle it? Unfortunately, too often like they handled Amasa, searching for ways to remove the unsightly distraction from our visual field, from our road through life. Before Christ, I understand why the passerby might have simply tossed alms to the sick and impoverished man to quiet him or maybe provide some short-lived relief before he perishes. But today? We have a new physician with a medical bag full of hope, healing and abundant life.

Had an ambulance and advanced medical care been available for Amasa, I’m sure someone would have made the call for help. Today, the mortally wounded on our road through life aren’t human distractions. They’re resurrection opportunities. Don’t pass them by. Rather consider that in this era of Christ’s promise and power, there may be no reason to consider “mortally wounded” anything but an oxymoron.