Friday, May 28, 2010

May 28

OT: 2 Samuel 13:1-39

Well, that was cheery.

Today, David's son, Amnon, raped his sister, Tamar. Two years later, he is killed by Absalom.

Because I have heard this story several times, and because I am apparently a weirdo, my main focus was on the application of the Law to this situation. Did Tamar scream? It's not conclusive, but I am going to give it a "yes." She definitely protested. So...shouldn't Amnon now be forced to marry her? I think that's how the Law went. But apparently, he wasn't. And in fact, it doesn't seem like much of anything happened to him up until Absalom killed him. I am especially perplexed by David's reaction. The text says that David was "furious," but what did he do (21)? Apparently, his reaction involved words, since it is contrasted with Absalom's silence on the matter (22). Hmph. I really wish we could have gotten more on David's reaction. Regardless, it seems like a similar scenario to Joab's murder of Abner. David is not much on administering consequences to those closest to him. Saul, Joab, Amnon, and Absalom have all pretty much done as they have pleased with no repercussions from David.

NT: John 17:1-26

Jesus' prayer has some interesting language regarding salvation. In it, Jesus says of Himself, "For you granted him authority over all people that he might give eternal life to all those you have given him" (2). A few verses later, he says, "I have revealed you to those whom you gave me out of the world. They were yours; you gave them to me and they have obeyed your word" (6). Of these people, Jesus later says, "I pray for them. I am not praying for the world, but for those you have given me, for they are yours" (9). That last verse seems to clearly state that God did not give all people to Jesus, but just some. And so Jesus is not praying for all those other people who were not given to Him by God. These verses raise more questions about the idea of predestination and the fact that it is God who determines who is saved and who is not. Does anyone have any thoughts on this? I always find the idea of predestination anathema to themes of choice and the need for obedience that are found throughout Scripture. I must say, though, that there are also quite a few verses that strongly support Calvin's theory.

I think this passage is where we get the idea of "in the world, but not of the world." I think people apply that phrase in different ways, but my take on it is that we are "in the world" strictly in terms of physical location. Like, we're not in heaven, or in a distant galaxy. We are here on earth. But we are not "of" the world any more than Jesus was "of" the world (14). Thus, we should not be more "a part" of the world than Jesus was. Now, what does that mean, exactly? I have no idea. I do think that my interpretation of the concept is more radical than some, but I can't say that I am living it out, exactly. That's mainly because I don't really know how to live it out.

Lastly, I would be interested to know what others think about this little observation of mine. Twice in this prayer, Jesus asks for the believers to be one, as He and God are one (11, 21). In verse 11, Jesus prays that for the current disciples, and in verse 21, He prays it for all future generations. In verse 23, he also asks that God would bring all Christians into complete unity (23). So let me ask you: Did God answer that prayer? Based on my understanding of church history from Acts up until today, I would have to say no. Believers today are just as fragmented as the Corinthians were, when Paul pleaded with them to be united in Christ (I Cor. 1:10-13). So let's think about that. God did not give Jesus what He asked for. So...what makes us think He will give us what we ask for? Why did Jesus say that? God didn't even do that for Jesus, and yet Jesus says that God will do that for us? I am not trying to be blasphemous regarding Scripture; I just truly do not understand this. Furthermore, I have never heard a satisfactory explanation, so I've got to assume that it is a stumper for many people.

Psalm 119: 81-96

Interspersed among verses declaring his love and devotion toward God's word, we get little pictures of the psalmist in trouble. In today's stanzas, the theme of the psalmist's suffering is particularly prevalent. I think that it is interesting that personal suffering is so strongly linked to devotion to Scripture. I guess that is one of the benefits of suffering; it drives you to God's Word.

I was both intrigued and confused by verse 96: "To all perfection I see a limit; but your commands are boundless." What does he mean there? How can there be a limit to perfection?

Proverbs 16:6-7

"When a man's ways are pleasing to the Lord, he makes even his enemies live at peace with him" (7). That is a neat verse. The Bible makes it clear that, as Christians, we will have enemies. This verse, however, shows that our lives shouldn't be filled with rancor, even in the presence of our enemies.

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