|Volume 22 Number 5 May 2020||
The author of the Truth for Today Commentary on the Book of Isaiah made a strongly thoughtful statement on the numerous prophecies of God’s judgment on nations other than Israel and Judah. He wrote, “We must look closely to see the practical value of these predictions for the twenty-first century reader. How can they help us? …As we read them, let us watch for pictures of God’s nature, depictions of His mercy, implications of His involvement in the lives of all people, and the declarations of His Lordship over His creation.”
Adam and Eve were the first of God’s creation to feel the full weight of His lordship. After their disobedience in eating of the forbidden fruit, Genesis 3:22-24 reads, “Then the LORD God said, ‘Behold, the man has become like one of Us, to know good and evil. And now, lest he put out his hand and take also of the tree of life, and eat, and live forever’— therefore the LORD God sent him out of the garden of Eden, to till the ground from which he was taken. So He drove out the man; and He placed cherubim at the east of the garden of Eden, and a flaming sword which turned every way, to guard the way to the tree of life.” God’s irrevocable lordship was declared.
When men began to multiply on the earth, the LORD saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intent of the thought of his heart was only evil continually. The earth also was corrupt and filled with violence. God declared His lordship to Noah. Genesis 6:13 reads, “And God said to Noah, ‘The end of all flesh has come before Me, for the earth is filled with violence through them; and behold, I will destroy them with the earth.’” Genesis 7:1 reads, “Then the LORD said to Noah, ‘Come into the ark, you and all your household, because I have seen that you are righteous before Me in this generation.” Noah followed God’s instructions precisely in building the ark, as well as in getting all the animals and his family in the ark. In Genesis 7:4, God said, “For after seven more days I will cause it to rain on the earth forty days and forty nights, and I will destroy from the face of the earth all living things that I have made.” Before He shut them in the ark, God made the final declaration of His irrevocable lordship.
Genesis 11:1 says, “Now the whole earth had one language and one speech.” Can we imagine that? Had God provided exactly what they needed to succeed in being able to communicate with one another? Just think! It truly could not have been any better than having no language barriers! Then, man decided that he knew better than God. Verse 4 reads, “And they said, ‘Come, let us build ourselves a city, and a tower whose top is in the heavens; let us make a name for ourselves, lest we be scattered abroad over the face of the whole earth.” Hence, the LORD came down to see the city and tower they had built. The LORD said indeed the people were one and they all had one language and they had begun to build a city and tower, now nothing that they proposed to do would be withheld from them. In verses 7-9 God said, “‘Come, let Us go down and there confuse their language, that they may not understand one another’s speech.’ So the LORD scattered them abroad from there over the face of all the earth, and they ceased building the city. Therefore its name is called Babel, because there the LORD confused the language of all the earth; and from there the LORD scattered them abroad over the face of all the earth.” God once again declared His irrevocable lordship over all His creation.
God’s priest Eli had two sons, Hophni and Phinehas, who were corrupt and disobedient to God and their father Eli. 1 Samuel 2:22-25 says:
Now Eli was very old; and he heard everything his sons did to all Israel, and how they lay with the women who assembled at the door of the tabernacle of meeting. So he said to them, “Why do you do such things? For I hear of your evil dealings from all the people. No, my sons! For it is not a good report that I hear. You make the LORD’s people transgress. If one man sins against another, God will judge him. But if a man sins against the LORD, who will intercede for him?” Nevertheless they did not heed the voice of their father, because the LORD desired to kill them.
A man of God came to Eli with an extremely harsh chastisement and the most difficult questions. Eli was asked didn’t God clearly reveal Himself to the house of his father when he was in Egypt in Pharaoh’s house? Didn’t God choose him out of all the tribes of Israel to be His priest? Didn’t God give the house of his father all the offerings of the children of Israel by fire? The most stinging question of all comes in 1 Samuel 2:29, which reads, “Why do you kick at My sacrifice and My offering which I have commanded in My dwelling place, and honor your sons more than Me, to make yourselves fat with the best of all the offerings of Israel My people?”
The stunning consequences of this flagrant rebellion and disobedience are seen in verses 30 to 35.
Therefore, the LORD God of Israel says: “I said indeed that your house and the house of your father would walk before Me forever.” But now the LORD says, “Far be it from Me, for those who honor Me I will honor, and those who despise Me shall be lightly esteemed. Behold the days are coming that I will cut off your strength and the strength of your father’s house, so that there will not be an old man in your house forever…And all of the descendants of your house shall die in the flower of their age. Now this shall be a sign to you that will come upon your two sons, on Hophni and Phinehas: in one day they shall die, both of them. Then I will raise up for Myself a faithful priest who shall do according to what is in My heart and in My mind. I will build him a sure house, and he shall walk before My anointed forever.”
God again declared His irrevocable lordship over all His creation.
The children of Israel demanded that they have a king so that they would be like all the nations around them. This thing displeased Samuel, and so he prayed to the LORD. “And the LORD said to Samuel, ‘Heed the voice of the people in all that they say to you; for they have not rejected you, but they have rejected Me, that I should not reign over them’” (1 Samuel 8:7).
At Saul’s coronation, Samuel laid out to the people God’s expectations in asking for an earthly king. He says to them in 1 Samuel 12:14-15, “If you fear the LORD and serve Him and obey His voice, and do not rebel against the commandment of the LORD, then both you and the king who reigns over you will continue following the LORD your God. However, if you do not obey the voice of the LORD, but rebel against the commandment of the LORD, then the hand of the LORD will be against you, as it was against your fathers.” In verses 16-18, Samuel profoundly gained the people’s attention. “Now therefore, stand and see this great thing which the LORD will do before your eyes: Is today not the wheat harvest? I will call to the LORD and He will send thunder and rain, that you may perceive and see that your wickedness is great, which you have done in the sight of the LORD, in asking a king for yourselves. So Samuel called to the LORD, and the LORD sent thunder and rain that day; and all the people greatly feared the LORD and Samuel.”
So, the people asked Samuel to pray for them that they would not die because they had added to all their sins the evil of asking a king for themselves. Samuel told them not to turn aside from following the LORD, but to serve Him with all their heart. Samuel went on to say in verses 21-22, “And do not turn aside; for then you would go after empty things which cannot profit or deliver, for they are nothing. For the LORD will not forsake His people, because it has pleased the LORD to make you His people.”
Samuel’s faithful obedience in his response to the people asking him to pray for them is noteworthy in 1 Samuel 12:23. “Moreover, as for me, far be it from me that I should sin against the LORD in ceasing to pray for you, but I will teach you the good and the right way.” Verses 24 and 25 conclude Samuel’s admonitions to the people in asking for a king. “Only fear the LORD, and serve Him in truth with all your heart; for consider what great things He has done for you. But if you still do wickedly, you shall be swept away, both you and your king.” Sadly, that happened as Samuel said. King Saul was swept away; first he made an unlawful sacrifice, and then he failed to obey God’s explicit commandment (1 Kings 13; 15). He died a tragic suicide (1 Samuel 31).
David succeeded Saul as king, and Scripture describes him “as the man after God’s own heart” (1 Samuel 13:14). Second Samuel 11:1 says, “It happened in the spring of the year, at the time when kings go out to battle, that David sent Joab and his servants with him, and all Israel… But David remained at Jerusalem.” David was walking on the roof of the king’s house and saw a very beautiful woman bathing. He sent and inquired about the woman, and he was told that she was Bathsheba, the wife of Uriah the Hittite. When David was told this was a married woman, that should have stopped any ungodly thoughts he was entertaining. It did not, though, and he sent for her and slept with her. Later, she sent word that she was pregnant. David sent for Uriah to come home. Verse 7 reads, “When Uriah had come to him, David asked how Joab was doing, and how the people were doing, and how the war prospered.” At this point in this sinful saga, the height of David’s hypocrisy was staggering! David sent Uriah down to his house, but he did not go. Verse 9 reads, “But Uriah slept at the door of the king’s house with all the servants of his lord, and did not go down to this house.”
“So when they told David, saying, ‘Uriah did not go down to his house,’ David said to Uriah, ‘Did you not come from a journey? Why did you not go down to your house’”? (1 Samuel 12:10). Uriah’s response of integrity, the uncompromising adherence to ethical and moral principles, can be modeled until the Lord returns! Verse 11 reads, “And Uriah said to David, ‘The ark and Israel and Judah are dwelling in tents and my lord Joab and the servants of my lord are encamped in the open fields. Shall I then go to my house to eat and drink, and to lie with my wife? As you live and as your soul lives, I will not do this thing.”
Therefore, David told Uriah to wait there that day and the next before he would let him depart. David called Uriah; he ate and drank before him and made him drunk. At evening Uriah went out to lie on his bed with the servants, but he did not go down to his house. Verses 14-15 read, “In the morning it happened that David wrote a letter to Joab and sent it by the hand of Uriah. And he wrote in the letter saying, ‘Set Uriah in the forefront of the hottest battle, and retreat from him, that he may be struck down and die.’” Joab did precisely as he was commanded and sent word to David that Uriah was dead. David’s response in verse 25 was as callous as it gets! “Then David said to the messenger, ‘Thus you shall say to Joab: Do not let this thing be evil in your sight, for the sword devours one as well as another. Strengthen your attack against the city, and overthrow it. So encourage him.’”
When Bathsheba heard that her husband was dead, she mourned for him. Verse 27 reads, “And when her mourning was over, David sent and brought her to his house, and she became his wife and bore him a son. But the thing that David had done displeased the LORD.”
Then, David began reaping what he had sown and felt the full weight of God’s declaration of His lordship. God sent His prophet Nathan to David to tell him about himself. Nathan told David about a rich man who had exceeding flocks and herds and about a poor man who had nothing except one little ewe lamb. A traveler came to the rich man, who refused to take from his own flock, but took the poor man’s lamb and prepared it for the man who had come to him. David was furious and said to Nathan, “As the LORD lives, the man who has done this shall surely die! And he shall restore fourfold for the lamb, because he did this thing and because he had no pity” (2 Samuel 12:5-6).
Then Nathan said to David, “You are the man!” Thus says the LORD God of Israel: “I anointed you king over Israel, and I delivered you from the hand of Saul. I gave you your master’s house and your master’s wives into your keeping, and gave you the house of Israel and Judah. And if that had been too little, I also would have given you much more! Why have you despised the commandment of the LORD, to do evil in His sight? You have killed Uriah the Hittite with the sword; you have taken his wife to be your wife… Now therefore, the sword shall never depart from your house, because you have despised Me, and have taken the wife of Uriah the Hittite to be your wife… I will raise up adversity against you from your own house; and I will take your wives before your eyes and give them to your neighbor, and he shall lie with your wives in the sight of the sun. For you did it secretly, but I will do this thing before all Israel before the sun.” (2 Samuel 12:7-12)
In 2 Samuel 12:13-15, David acknowledged his sin. “So David said to Nathan, ‘I have sinned against the LORD.’ And Nathan said to David, ‘The LORD has also put away your sin; you shall not die. However, because by this deed you have given great occasion to the enemies of the LORD to blaspheme, the child also who is born to you shall surely die.’”
All that God said came to pass. Bathsheba gave birth to a son who became ill. David pleaded with God; he fasted and lay on the ground until the seventh day when the child died. God had said the sword would never depart from David’s house, and it did not. There was hatred, strife, incest, rape, fornication, murder and even a conspiracy to overthrow David as king. The man after God’s own heart came to fully understand God’s declaration of His lordship is irrevocable.
Have we learned the lesson that God is God and He is working out His perfect purpose as He declares His lordship in our personal lives? “The more we can learn from the past, the less pain we pay for our necessary lessons” (The Practical Plan of Proverbs Choosing Life’s Best by Lottie Beth Hobbs). “For whatever things were written before were written for our learning, that we through the patience and comfort of the Scriptures might have hope” (Romans 15:4).