Peter Misselbrook's Blog
May 14 2019 - 2 Samuel 19:1-15 – David returns to Jerusalem

King David's distress over the death of his son Absalom meant that, "for the whole army the victory that day was turned into mourning… The men stole into the city that day as men steal in who are ashamed when they flee from battle" (vv. 2-3). Joab, the commander of David's army and the man who had thrust javelins into Absalom's helpless body, was angered by David's behaviour. Going into the king's house he told David, "Today you have humiliated all your men, who have just saved your life and the lives of your sons and daughters and the lives of your wives and concubines. You love those who hate you and hate those who love you" (vv. 5-6). He warned David that if he did not change his behaviour he would lose the support of the army who had fought for him and that, "this will be worse for you than all the calamities that have come on you from your youth till now" (v. 8). So David left off his mourning, took his customary seat in the city gateway and recaptured the hearts of the people.

But the crisis was not yet over since the nation remained divided; some had supported Absalom as king while others remembered how David had defeated their enemies the Philistines and wanted him as their king. There seems already to be the suggestion of division between the northern tribes of Israel and the tribe of Judah to which David belonged. We shall see how this division becomes a complete split when David's grandson, Rehoboam, became king. It is the men of Judah who welcomed David back into Jerusalem as king.

Jesus also has loved those who hated him – though he never hates those who love him. He died for us while we were sinners and rebels against him. He once told a parable about a man who travelled to a far country to receive a kingdom for himself. Many of the citizens of the kingdom over which he was to be king said, "We do not want this man to reign over us" (Luke 19:14). The key question for us is whether we will embrace Jesus, David's greater Son as our king. He died for us but is risen and ascended to glory; he is seated on his throne at the right hand of God. Has he captured our hearts to own him as our Saviour and king?

Jesus is King and I will extol him,
give him the glory, and honour his name.
He reigns on high, enthroned in the heavens,
Word of the Father, exalted for us.

We have a hope that is steadfast and certain,
gone through the curtain and touching the throne.
We have a priest who is there interceding,
pouring his grace on our lives day by day.

We come to him our priest and apostle,
clothed in his glory and bearing his name,
laying our lives with gladness before him,
filled with his Spirit we worship the King.

O Holy One, our hearts do adore you,
thrilled with your goodness we give you our praise.
Angels in light with worship surround him,
Jesus, our Saviour, for ever the same.    [Wendy Churchill]

Father God, we gladly own Jesus as our Saviour and our King. Help us gladly to live under his gracious rule and to encourage others to bow the knee to him and welcome him as Lord.

May 14 2013 - John 7:53-8:20 – Go … and leave your life of sin

John 7:53-8:11 presents us with some interesting issues. The earliest manuscripts and other ancient witnesses do not include these verses at all. A few manuscripts include this passage, with some variations, after John 7:36, John 21:25 or even Luke 24:53. Is the passage genuine?

The story has the ring of truth. It reflects the character of the Lord Jesus that we see portrayed elsewhere in the Gospels and contrasts starkly with the strong discipline that developed in the church during the first few centuries – it is unlikely to have been ‘made up’. It may well have circulated as an isolated story of Jesus before eventually being incorporated into John’s Gospel. Let’s see how it fits within John’s message.

John tells us that Jesus came not to condemn the world but that the world through him might be saved. This is certainly illustrated in the account of the woman taken in adultery. The Jewish leaders sought to undermine Jesus’ authority with the people by forcing him either to contradict the Law of Moses or to condemn this woman. Jesus responded by saying that someone without sin should throw the first stone at her. At this, all of the accusers slipped away and Jesus was left alone with the woman. None of that crowd had the moral right to condemn the woman: Jesus alone had that right for he was the only one without sin. He refused to condemn her, saying rather that she should go on her way but leave her life of sin (John 8:11).

Jesus’ refusal to condemn does not mean he turns a blind eye to our wrongdoing. On the contrary, Jesus offers costly forgiveness – it took him to the cross. And with the offer of such forgiveness he calls us to live a new life; “Go now and leave your life of sin”.

This theme is picked up in the verses that now follow this story. Jesus speaks of himself as the light of the world – he is the light that shines in the darkness. It’s a light that gives us no place to hide – it shows us up for who and what we are – and yet it does not condemn; Jesus says, “I pass judgment on no one” (8:15). He draws us out of the darkness to walk in the light of his presence.

Jesus says that those who follow him will not walk in darkness but will have the light of life. He reveals something of the light and beauty of the world to come, a world that will be filled with the light of the glory of God and of the Lamb. Something of the character of that world also marks the lives of those who follow him. More than that, it will shine from their lives; they also are the light of the world (Matthew 5:14), for they have the light of life.

To follow Jesus is to walk as he walked. Our lives are to be marked by the compassion that characterised his life; avoiding harsh and quick judgments upon others while never condoning wrongdoing. We need to learn the habits of those who walk in the light of Christ.

Heavenly Father, I bless you for the light that has come into the world in the Lord Jesus. Help me to walk in the light as I follow him. Help me to leave behind all that displeases you, whether obvious wrongdoing like that of the woman taken in adultery, or the smug self-righteousness of the Pharisees. Fill me with the light of the presence of the living Saviour. May his Spirit shine through me to draw others out of darkness into light.

Peter Misselbrook