What is truth….?

14 06 2011

DAY ONE HUNDRED AND FORTY NINE : 1 Samuel 24 v. 1 – 25 v. 44; John 18 v. 25 – 40; Psalm 68 v. 15 – 20

1 SAMUEL
David Spares Saul’s Life – Having sorted out the Philistines, Saul returns to chasing David, now in En Gedi (Saul takes 3,000 men with him to the ‘Wild Goats Crags’. When Saul goes into a cave to ‘relieve himself’, he doesn’t realise that David and his men were deeper in that cave, and had the chance to capture Saul. Indeed, David’s men encouraged him, claiming it was the day the Lord had promised to deliver his enemy into his hands. All David could bring himself to do was to sneak up and, unnoticed, snip off a corner of Saul’s robe.
Even that action pricked David’s conscience, and he confesses to his men :
‘The Lord forbid that I should do such a thing to my master, the Lord’s anointed, or lift my hand against him; for he is the anointed of the Lord.’
Saul leaves the cave unharmed.
David shouts after him, so that Saul can see how close he had been. David bows down and prostrates himself before the king.
Then David gives an impassioned speech about how he would never harm Saul, and can’t understand why Saul wants to kill him.
Saul responds by calling David ‘my son’, weeping aloud and proclaiming his own guilt and unrighteousness – he knows that David is to be king, and good one at that, ‘establishing the kingdom of Israel’. He asks David to be kind to his family. David makes an oath before Saul, before Saul heads off home.

David acts with such integrity, when the opportunity arises for him to seriously harm Saul, the one who is pursuing him fiercely. Makes me question
how I might act when there’s an opportunity for me to ‘get my own back’? Can I remember the example David sets, and let God do the ‘vindicating’.
Also…
be careful where you go to relieve yourself……

David, Nabal and Abigail – Chapter 25 recounts the death of Samuel, and all Israel mourns. He is buried at Ramah.
David and his men move down into the Desert of Maon, and David sends messengers to the wealthy Nabal and his wife Abigail. Nabal had many sheep and goats and it was shearing time. David’s message was of his protection over Nabal, and his care for Nabal’s shepherds, ‘therefore be favourable towards my young men, since we come at a festive time. Please give your servants and your son, David, whatever you can find for them’.
Nabal is discourteous and rude, sending the messengers away empty-handed.
David gets his men ready with swords, to sort Nabal out !!
Meanwhile Abigail is horrified at the way her husband has treated David and his men, so she prepares a bounty of goodies for David and his men, rounding up the donkeys and laying all sorts of gifts (like the sound of 200 cakes of pressed figs) on them, and Abigail goes out to meet David with all these gifts.
David had just said, ‘May God deal with David, be it ever so severely, if by morning I leave alive one male of all who belong to him!’, when Abigail and her donkeys turn up. She bows down and remains face down, she give her impassioned speech, to save the lives of her family, and offers David all these gifts. Throughout her speech she refers to David as her Lord (already seeing him in his kingly position), and she persuades David not to go down the path of wrongdoing, of bloodshed.
David heeds her warnings, and gratefully accepts her gifts.
‘Praise be to the Lord, the God of Israel, who has sent you today to meet me….if you had not come quickly to meet me, not one male belonging to Nabal would have been left alive by daybreak’.

Truly, Abigail spared Nabal’s life (she has grown accustomed to his foolish ways), but within days he is dead (of a heart-attack), and David is free of the guilt of bloodshed. Abigail seems as concerned about David’s integrity as her husband’s well-being.

David asks Abigail (previously described as intelligent and beautiful woman) to be his wife. She says yes, readies her donkey (…loving all the donkeys in this chapter…), and rides off into the sunset to share David with his other wives – Ahinoam and Michal (though we read that Saul had given his daughter, Michal, to someone else now…Paltiel of Gallim…can’t keep up with this !)

Abigail is a real hero in this story, acting to save her family, despite her foolish husband, and ending up married to the future king !
Abigail’s name means ‘My Father Redeems’….I love this story of her bravery, and of salvation (cp the book of Esther). 

JOHN
Peter’s Second and Third Denials – given further opportunity to identify himself as one of Jesus’ followers, but too afraid of the repercussions, Peter denies being one of His disciples, and then of being with Him in the olive grove (accused by a relative of the man who’d lost his ear through Peter striking out).
‘At that moment a cock began to crow.’

Jesus’ warning earlier was now fulfilled, and undoubtedly, it crushed Peter’s spirit.

Jesus Before Pilate – Jesus is led from Caiaphas to the palace of the Roman governor, Pilate. It’s early morning (well, the cock has just crowed). Pilate comes out to the Jews and asks what charges they bring against Jesus. He suggests they try Him by their own laws. They clearly want Jesus ‘executed’ and it isn’t within their remit to end His life.
Pilate take a moment to weigh it all up.
He takes Jesus into his palace and asks Him directly if He claims to be King of the Jews.
Jesus asks Pilate if that’s his own question or someone elses ? (i.e. whose hands is Pilate playing into?)
When Pilate asks what Jesus has been doing to attract such opposition, He replies,
‘My kingdom is not of this world…but from another place’ (hence there is no-one to fight for Jesus’ freedom at this moment).

Pilate states, then, that Jesus is a King…which He confirms : ‘for this reason I came into the world, to testify to the truth.’
Pilate asks the profound question
‘WHAT IS TRUTH?’
(Jesus provided a clue to His answer, by saying on another occasion, ‘I am the way, the truth and the life’ – Jn 14)

Pilate is realising he’s caught up in something he’d like to be free of, so he goes out to the Jews and says he finds no fault in Jesus, no basis for a charge. However, he offers to release a prisoner at this Passover time (as is his custom), and offers to release Jesus, ‘the king of the Jews’. The crowd, however, shout for the release of the bandit, Barabbas….

The characters around Jesus at this point are portrayed as fear-filled (Peter) and manipulated (Pilate) –
Jesus is the one who stands strong through all of this.
The quest for TRUTH is never-ending, but Jesus is the embodiment of truth – in his prologue, John described Jesus as ‘full of grace and truth’, and Jesus talks of the coming pentecost as the arrival of His Spirit – the Spirit of truth, who will guide us into all truth.
It is Jesus’ presence within us, by His Spirit, which will reveal and lead us in the Truth.
And the Truth will set us free !

PSALM
‘The mountains of Bashan are majestic mountains….
The chariots of God are tens of thousands….
When You ascended on high, You led captives in Your train….
Praise be to the Lord, to God our Saviour, who daily bears our burdens…
OUR GOD IS A GOD WHO SAVES; FROM THE SOVEREIGN LORD COMES ESCAPE FROM DEATH’

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