The Love of God and our Feelings

Here we are at the end of our blog series on Psalm 45.  I hope it’s blessed you.  If you haven’t, be sure to read those because they’ve been leading us to this point.  We just found out that because of the love of King Jesus for us, His Bride, we are adorned.  We are completely majestic.

Do you believe that?  I struggle to sometimes.  Many times, I feel like I’m being tolerated by Jesus instead of being his beautiful Bride that causes His pupils to dilate.  But, friend, THAT IS THE TRUTH!  He’s not just putting up with us.  He’s enamored with us!

You may not feel completely majestic.  Sometimes is so hard just to lift you eyes off of your own SHAME, SCARS, WHAT YOU’VE DONE, WHAT’S BEEN DONE TO YOU to see the love in the eyes of your King.  He’s taken all of that on himself. See what the King says about you in Song of Songs. Listen, Christ says this about YOU:

SoS 4.7, 9

You are altogether beautiful, my love;
    there is no flaw in you.

You have captivated my heart, my sister, my bride;
    you have captivated my heart with one glance of your eyes,

The King doesn’t rescue the street girl so that she can just have a clean, well-provided room in his castle.  NO. He rescues her so that he may never be parted from her again. He desires you. He longs to have you with him.

13 All glorious is the princess in her chamber, with robes interwoven with gold.
14     In many-colored robes she is led to the king,
 with her virgin companions following behind her.
15 With joy and gladness they are led along
    as they enter the palace of the king.

And she doesn’t just want his stuff, remember, she wants HIM!  The Christian doesn’t just want forgiveness or righteousness or to get out of Hell free.  NO NO NO!  WE WANT GOD.  WE DELIGHT IN GOD. WE NEVER WANT TO BE PARTED FROM GOD. HE IS OUR BELOVED, THE LOVER OF OUR SOULS.  HEAVEN, WHATEVER BLESSINGS IT MIGHT HOLD, WITHOUT JESUS, WOULD BE NO PARADISE AT ALL.

He wants us, His Bride, and we want Him!  And because of this marriage, the Sons of Korah, our authors, now speak to the King again:

16 In place of your fathers shall be your sons;
    you will make them princes in all the earth.

What are they saying?  Basically: You and your bride will bear fruit together.  Friends, you were meant to be united with Christ so that HE MIGHT MAKE YOU FRUITFUL.  In fact, this is why creation exists. Jonathan Edwards put it this way:

“The spouse of the Son of God, the Lamb’s wife…is that for which all of the universe was made.” and “God created the world for His Son, that He might prepare a bride for Him to bestow His love upon; so that the mutual joys between this bride and bridegroom are the purpose of the creation.”

Do you believe that?!?!?!  That Jesus might enjoy you!  That the Father might call you to be the Bride who will be joy to His Son!  THAT is the purpose for which the world was created.  Oh, how weak is our faith.  Oh, how hard it can be to believe, and therefore feel this passion of Jesus.

And the Sons of Korah, these men delivered from death, out of the very pit of the earth…men who love the King, who BOIL OVER with affection for Christ, end their song this way:

17 I will cause your name to be remembered in all generations; therefore nations will praise you forever and ever.

This love they feel for the King will fill the earth!  They will declare this love for ALL who will come to the King, for all the people that God will bring to be a part of the Bride of Christ, His Church!  And that’s evangelism.  Not a grit your teeth and just share.  Not a fearful thing.  But a joyous recounting of how your King found you in the gutter and now calls you magnificent!  It’s not a chore or a duty, but a delight to speak of your lover, your treasure!  I pray that you would believe it and that you’d feel it, because Jesus does.  He’s overwhelmed with affection for His Bride – and that’s you.

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Church, get ready to blush…

In our previous posts we’ve seen

  1. The Sons of Korah (SoK), men who deserved death but had reserved mercy wrote Psalm 45 a song to the King
  2. Deep affection that was being communicated to the King, in fact, it is a love song, with words that only a lover would use.
  3. That the King in the Psalm is Jesus and he’s described as smelling like an altar, temple, incense, and dead body.
  4. That King Jesus astonishes us with His, beauty, grace, and power.

Now, the Sons of Korah are about to change the subject…but not really.  This still has everything to do with the goodness of the King, but now we get to see what His goodness is after – what his beauty and grace are seeking to accomplish.

This King that smells like salvation, who loves righteousness and hates evil, and lays his life down…He’s done it all to win a people, more specifically, to win a Bride.  THE KING IS GETTING MARRIED

8 your robes are all fragrant with myrrh and aloes and cassia.
 From ivory palaces stringed instruments make you glad;
9 daughters of kings are among your ladies of honor; 
 at your right hand stands the queen in gold of Ophir.

Who is the bride of King Jesus.  It’s the people of God. It’s the Church…it’s us.  This is consistent throughout the entire Bible. Here are a couple of examples.

JEREMIAH 31.31-32

31 “Behold, the days are coming when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and the house of Judah, 32 not like the covenant that I made with their fathers on the day when I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt, my covenant that they broke, though I was their husband, declares the Lord.

ISAIAH 54.5

For your Maker is your husband,
 the Lord of hosts is his name;
and the Holy One of Israel is your Redeemer,
 the God of the whole earth he is called.

ISAIAH 62.5

5 As a young man marries a young woman,
 so will your Builder marry you;
as a bridegroom rejoices over his bride,
 so will your God rejoice over you.

EPHESIANS 5.32

32 This mystery is profound, and I am saying that it refers to Christ and the church.

Back here in Psalm 45, in verse 10, speaking to the Queen to be, the Sons of Korah say this:

10 Hear, O daughter, and consider, and incline your ear:
 forget your people and your father’s house,

God first called his people to himself in GENESIS 12.1.  He calls Abraham and his descendants, Israel, to be his people.  What’s he say there? Leave your country, your people, and your father’s house.  When he calls a people, he calls them away from who they were and what they were IN ORDER TO be with him.  Now, notice this summons:

HEAR, CONSIDER, INCLINE

Notice the repetition.  Hear, Consider, Incline your ear. The Sons of Korah are trying to get her attention – YOUR attention.

Let me ask you: have you left your life without God in order to do life with God?  Have you given up control of your life so that you might have Jesus as King? Or are you clinging to your control, your pretend gods, your sin?  Hear, Consider, Listen. Leave that life and believe in Jesus. Take him as your own.

Now, look at VERSE 11: FOR ME, THIS IS THE CLIMAX!  Why would you ever want to leave your old life?

11     and the king will desire your beauty.

HE DESIRES YOU…LITERALLY this phrase means he “GREATLY DESIRES/YEARNS FOR/CRAVES YOUR BEAUTY”

WOW!  He desires to be with you.  Not like, for instance Zeus or Allah or Shivah – these gods all need something from you.  It was thought that if all of Greece stopped believing in the gods of Greece, that would cease to exist.  The Greek gods desired their people, in a way, and that is NOT at all how Jesus desires you.

In his book, The Freedom of a Christian, Martin Luther compares salvation, the Christian teaching of justification by grace through faith, to a marriage between a great King and His bride, a woman of ill repute, a harlot.  For the rest of this post, I’m really going to be leaning on Luther as well as Michael Reeves.

The Great King doesn’t need this woman, but his massive heart is turned to her, he has compassion on her, and his chooses her to be with him as his very bride.

Now, if that’s happened, what does she want of him?  He’s been the first man to ever really love her.  The first man that was safe for her.  To see her and love her for her own sake.  He’s rescued her.  He’s provided for her – safety, sustenance, and affection. What do you think she wants from him?  Gold? A Palace? or…Him? That’s exactly right, her response to his unbelievable love is that she adores him.

11     and the king will desire your beauty.
 Since he is your lord, bow to him.

The word for BOW there is actually the word for Worship.  Jesus loves you, desires you, has set his affection on you, and in response, you worship him.  You adore him. This is exactly what happens in the Song of Songs…the bride of the King says:

SONG OF SONGS 5.16

   he is altogether lovely.
This is my beloved, this is my friend,

You see, he moved first…he came to her and set his delight on her…that’s grace.  She couldn’t make herself a queen. Acting more queenly wouldn’t do it. Sipping tea with the pinky out.  That doesn’t make you a queen. She could dress up in a queen’s dress, but she still wouldn’t be one. What’s the only way to become a queen?

Only by His word, only when he looks at her and makes his vows.  “I take you as my bride.”

And in THAT MOMENT, she is queen.  And when she speaks un-queenly, that won’t change the fact that she is the queen.  When she stumbles over her new queenly robes, that doesn’t change the fact that she is queen.  By His Word, because of His great love, she has BEEN MADE queen. But that’s not all…

He also clothes her, or said another way, He makes her beautiful!

13 All glorious is the princess in her chamber, with robes interwoven with gold.
14 In many-colored robes she is led to the king,



“All glorious,” it could also be translated Completely Majestic.  He clothes her with beauty. Specifically, with his very own goodness, his very own righteousness.

We call this the Great Exchange.  When he says, “All that I am is yours and all that I have I give to you.”  All my love, my blessing, my righteousness. They are yours.

And she says to him, “All that I am is yours and all that I have I give you.”  All my brokenness, shame, sin, regrets, and debt.

And he took all of that from her and paid it in full on the Cross, dying the death she should have died so that he might be with her forever.  And he clothes her with his righteousness.

ISAIAH 61.10

I delight greatly in the Lord;
    my soul rejoices in my God.
For he has clothed me with garments of salvation
    and arrayed me in a robe of his righteousness,
as a bridegroom adorns his head like a priest,
    and as a bride adorns herself with her jewels.

Now, you may not feel beautiful, and adorned.  I get that.  So please be sure to come back for the next, and final, post in this series on Psalm 45!

Marvelous Grace & Beautiful Wrath

In our previous posts we’ve seen

  1. The Sons of Korah (SoK), men who deserved death but had reserved mercy wrote Psalm 45 a song to the King
  2. Deep affection that was being communicated to the King, in fact, it is a love song, with words that only a lover would use.
  3. That the King in the Psalm is Jesus and he’s described as smelling like an altar, temple, incense, and dead body.

Now we want to look more deeply at WHY the Sons of Korah are so crazy about Jesus.  Let’s start back in Verse 2.

2 You are the most handsome of the sons of men;
 grace is poured upon your lips;
 therefore God has blessed you forever.

That first line is striking.  Dudes don’t describe other dudes that way any more.  Is that manhood?  YES, this is absolutely the MOST MASCULINE inclination you could ever have.  This is no mere mancrush! The SoK aren’t just praising him for a great fastball, big biceps, or an impressive intellect.

Friends, this is serious.  Right now, how do you feel about Jesus.  When Bible translators throughout the centuries have tried to capture this in English language, they’ve really struggled!  Our language can’t capture the height of beauty that is being communicated.

  • KJV – Thou art fairer than the children of men
  • Chaldee – Thy beauty, O King Messiah, is above that of the sons of men
  • Mudge – Thou art wonderfully fair beyond the sons of men
  • Alexander – Beautiful, beautiful art thou above the sons of men
  • ESV – You are the most handsome of the sons of men
  • NASB – You are fairer than the sons of men

Those last two, newer translations really seem to fall flat, don’t that.  Now, when William Plummer, 19th century scholar, tried to capture the point of this passage, listen to what he said:

In true religion, everything turns on our views of Christ, v.2.  What do we think of him?  Is he in our opinion and thinking incomparable?  Do we regard him as “fairer than the children of men?”  Is he, or is he not the chiefest among ten thousand and altogether lovely?  If you don’t love him, if you don’t admire him, if you wouldn’t, in a fair trial, die for him, you are not his. Luke xiv. 26, 27, 33.

So again: How do you feel about Jesus?  Don’t tell me you’re just not an emotional person.  I use to say that…I invented that. Let’s not fool ourselves.  How we feel about Jesus is a striking indicator of the reality and quality of our faith.

So, what was it about Jesus that the SoK wanted to highlight?

GRACE

Grace was on his lips!  Grace! He came to us with grace.  We are so broken, but he has healing.  We are vicious to each other, but he’s tender.  We get angry, defensive, and mean at the drop of a hat, but he is patient.  Notice what the Gospels say:

And all spoke well of him and marveled at the gracious words that were coming from his mouth.  LUKE 4.22

And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth, for the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. JOHN 1.14, 17

He wasn’t just being nice…he was bringing the very goodness of God, the word and presence of God to us.  He was the very embodiment of the grace of God.  The kindness and tender compassion of God.

Children ran to him, prostitutes found him to be the safest place they’ve ever known, people wanted to be with him.  They all found in him the answers to their deepest longings: how can I be right with God?  How can I know peace?  How can I have God as my very own?

But, it gets better There’s more good news.  He brings grace, but he also came with a Sword…wait, what?!

3 Gird your sword on your thigh, O mighty one, 
in your splendor and majesty! 4 In your majesty ride out victoriously
 for the cause of truth and meekness and righteousness;
 let your right hand teach you awesome deeds!
 5 Your arrows are sharp
 in the heart of the king’s enemies;
 the peoples fall under you.

So, they also praise the King because he comes with a sword.  Does that seem shocking to you? I think part of the reason we find that shocking is because we continue to say things like: “God is loving, but he’s also just.”  As if those things are opposed to each other. Or “God is merciful, but he’s also holy.” Statements like that show how far from the Bible we’ve strayed.

God’s love is not opposed to his holiness, justice, or wrath.  No, God IS LOVE. This is 1 John 4.16. This is what he is like at his core.  In fact, John says if you don’t love, it’s certain that you don’t even know God because to know Him changes you and makes you loving.  God is love, at his core, and so EVERYTHING he does flows out of that, even wrath

God’s wrath isn’t opposed to his love.  No, Michael Reeves says it this way: wrath is what happens when a loving God encounters evil.  Wrath is the loving response to evil.  And we actually know this instinctively…

Imagine going outside in a few minutes and as you step out the door you see a man abusing a little child.   How would you respond?  How OUGHT you respond. What would loving behavior look like?  If you see it and turn a blind eye to it – you are not loving.  If you see it and say, “well, we all have our struggles” then you are not loving. Love would do everything it could to bring an end to evil.  It will judge it. And it will bring holy consequences against it. The King has a sword…hallelujah.

Let’s look a little more closely at this loving war that the King is waging:

4 In your majesty ride out victoriously
 for the cause of truth and meekness and righteousness;
 let your right hand teach you awesome deeds!



What would you ride in the Ancient Near East?  A motorcycle? A segway? No, a chariot, and this king rides to victory on a chariot of truth, meekness, and righteousness.  He goes to war against evil by means of truth, meekness, and righteousness.  This is a different sort of King altogether.  He’s not a dictator simply hellbent on maintaining control.  He’s not Allah simply looking to make the world submit.

This King is the truth.

He is meek.

He is our righteousness.

What does he smell like? He smells like salvation for sinners!

The Psalm is about to change gears.  We’re about to find out something exciting:  The King is getting married!

Psalm 45 – The Love of Christ for His Bride the Church

I had the privilege to preach at my church twice this summer.  The first sermon was the last in a series on the Royal Psalms.  I was given Psalm 45.  After reading the title to this post, you may be thinking, “How can Psalm 45 be about Jesus and His love for the Church?”  Well, for a full answer, you’ll need to watch/listen to the sermon.  I’d love to hear your thoughts on it.  You can comment below or email me at razorbackschell (at) gmail.com.

Let me just say that preparing for it was such a blessing for me.  It felt like I was just sitting in the warmth of Jesus’ sunshine!  I hope it blessed you.

http://www.mercyview.com/resources/sermons/?enmse=1&enmse_spid=17&enmse_mid=373

2 Writers/Speakers Who Are Influencing Me

OK, I felt compelled to write this entry for two reasons. First, to point you to a few wonderful folks that have had a lot of influence on me of late, whether authors, bloggers, speakers, etc. Second, I almost feel like I need to do this as a sort of disclaimer! Some of these folks have so shaped my thinking that I can hardly look at any issue without their influence being apparent (at least to me), even when I’m talking about issues that I haven’t heard them address specifically. So, this serves sort of as a blanket footnote or acknowledgment. I do try to cite them when I quote directly or when I’m sharing something that has come straight from them in one way or another, but I may miss one here or there. And, honestly, again, I see their influence in almost every post, even when I’m not quoting them, so much of the good in my writing and none of the bad can be attributed to them.

So, read them, listen to them, enjoy them…better yet, enjoy the Jesus they have helped me learn to enjoy!

Image result for michael reevesMichael Reeves is the principal of Union, a ministry based in Oxford, England that is doing fantastic work. Seriously, you need to check them out. Mike has, first and foremost, helped me think about God. If I am ever trying to clarify who God is in order to help us understand anything else rightly, it’s primarily due to Mike’s influence. If I’m writing about the Trinity, God’s Glory, the Reformation (and Reformed Theology), Church History, or the Difference Jesus makes, he’s had a huge role in that. I know Mike slightly, mostly through his works, but looking forward to getting to know him more in the days/years ahead. Check out his resources at http://www.uniontheology.org and books at Amazon.

Image result for glen scrivenerGlen Scrivener is an evangelist based in Eastbourne, England. He leads a ministry called Speak Life. I love how they are working to help the church be more winsome and more Biblical in their evangelism. Glen, like Mike, has had a great impact on me in learning to clarify who God is and who He is not, and enjoying Him. He’s also been a major encouragement in my grasping how much the Old Testament is all about Jesus, and the Word exists to help us encounter Jesus! I love his Youtube journey through the Bible called Reading Between the Lines. Finally, he’s helped me continue to clarify my understanding of mission and what it is God is doing in the world. He blogs at christthetruth.net.

So, if I’m talking about those issues…even if I’m not quoting these 2 men, you can bet that they have significantly influenced what you’re hearing. Which means that you should be really be reading what they are writing and listening to what they are teaching instead of me. But if you want to keep hanging out around here, you are very welcome!

God’s Reign as Self-Sacrifice?

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I decided to insert one extra post in this series.  Just in case you’re not convinced that self-sacrifice is the mark of God’s character, and therefore his dominion and rule, I want to look at one more scene.  Actually, it’s one scene in two passages.  First, let’s look at Revelation 5.1-5

5 Then I saw in the right hand of him who was seated on the throne a scroll written within and on the back, sealed with seven seals.And I saw a mighty angel proclaiming with a loud voice, “Who is worthy to open the scroll and break its seals?” And no one in heaven or on earth or under the earth was able to open the scroll or to look into it, and I began to weep loudly because no one was found worthy to open the scroll or to look into it. And one of the elders said to me, “Weep no more; behold, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has conquered, so that he can open the scroll and its seven seals.”

So, what’s happening here?  Well, we’re looking for a King.  We’re looking for someone who has authority to unroll the rest of history.  Particularly, someone who can usher in the New Creation.  The 7 seals do point to perfection, but primarily because of the first use of 7 in the Bible, the perfect creation in Genesis 1 where, through his Word, God transforms a chaotic void into a very good creation! The person we’re looking for can bring in, by their authority, the perfect New Creation.

Luckily, a worthy one appears.  The Lion of Judah (kingship is promised to Judah’s descendant forever in Gen 49.8-12),  who also happens to be the Root of David (the coming, promised Davidic King!) has conquered!  So, He can open the seals, He can rule the rest of history!

Where do I get that idea of authority or ruling?  Well, besides the reference to Judah and David, we’ll see it in this passage in a moment, but let’s look at another passage that is recording this same scene – Daniel 7.

“As I looked, thrones were placed, and the Ancient of Days took his seat; and the books were opened.

13 “I saw in the night visions, and behold, with the clouds of heaven
there came one like a son of man,
and he came to the Ancient of Days
and was presented before him.
14 And to him was given dominion
and glory and a kingdom,
that all peoples, nations, and languages
should serve him;
his dominion is an everlasting dominion,
which shall not pass away,
and his kingdom one
that shall not be destroyed.

Look at that.  We have the same heavenly throneroom.  We have one seated on the throne, and we have books (SCROLLS of course).  And in each, one approaches the throne, but in this Daniel passage we see what is given over to Him…Dominion, Glory, Kingdom!!!  The right to rule all things forever!

Now, as we look back at Revelation 5, we’ll get a little more detail to round out our picture.  Particularly, WHY IS THIS LION-KING, THIS SON OF MAN FIT TO BE KING FOREVER?  Look at this!

5:6 And between the throne and the four living creatures and among the elders I saw a Lamb standing, as though it had been slain (sphadzo). And he went and took the scroll from the right hand of him who was seated on the throne. And when he had taken the scroll, the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders fell down before the Lamb, each holding a harp, and golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of the saints. And they sang a new song, saying,

“Worthy are you to take the scroll
and to open its seals,
for you were slain (sphadzo), and by your blood you ransomed people for God
from every tribe and language and people and nation,
10 and you have made them a kingdom and priests to our God,
and they shall reign on the earth.”

Wow!  You are worthy FOR YOU WERE SLAIN!!!  Because you gave your life as a sacrifice!  To redeem the lost.  You gave your life for theirs!

Friends, why is Jesus so utterly worthy of dominion and a kingdom?  Why is He worthy to unfold the rest of history, to bring the New Creation in?  My life for yours!  That’s what makes Him the perfect King!  And of course he’d rule this way because He is the image of the Invisible God…this is who He has always been and always will be!  Or as Hebrews 2.9 puts it:

But we see him who for a little while was made lower than the angels, namely Jesus, crowned with glory and honor because of the suffering of death, so that by the grace of God he might taste death for everyone.

Absalom as anti-Christ

Remember, two posts back we saw that because God’s VERY NATURE is self-giving, self-sharing, self-sacrificing, that is also how He rules…it captures the nature of His dominion.  We saw last post that David demonstrates this in his self-sacrificing behavior in the David and Goliath story (of course, he does a bad job of this in the whole Uriah and Bathsheba incident).  In this current post, we want to learn the same lesson, but in another way.  Instead of seeing the glory of Jesus’ self-giving dominion through a positive example, we’re going to see his glory through a negative example.

I looked online for a good picture of Absalom and found one…

blood sucking vampire

Oh wait, is that not Absalom? Let me search again…ah, that’s better.

Let’s turn to 2 Samuel 14 to meet this handsome devil. At this point, David is King on the throne over all of Israel. Absalom is his oldest son. David had two older sons, but both are now dead.

Before we dig in, you need to know that the Bible spends 7 chapters on Absalom. From 13-19. SEVEN chapters! As we look at this story, be sure to ask yourself, “Why does God spend so much time telling us Absalom’s story?” I’m going to argue because he wants a very detailed picture of earthly kingship to contrast with His Kingship. So, let’s look at Absalom.

David was described as a man after God’s own heart. What about Absalom?  In 14.25-26, here’s what we read: 25 Now in all Israel there was no one so much to be praised for his handsome appearance as Absalom. From the sole of his foot to the crown of his head there was no blemish in him. 26 And when he cut the hair of his head (for at the end of every year he used to cut it; when it was heavy on him, he cut it), he weighed the hair of his head, two hundred shekels by the king’s weight.

Now, you may be thinking, “Schell, it’s not a sin to be good looking.” But, there is a heavy emphasis on the external with Absalom. Contrasted with the earliest descriptions of David, all of a sudden, this description is quite chilling.  Remember, the Lord said to Samuel, “Don’t look at the outside!”

We also see another glimpse of his heart if we skip to chapter 18, verse 18, which reads “Now Absalom in his lifetime had taken and set up for himself the pillar that is in the King’s Valley, for he said, “I have no son to keep my name in remembrance.” He called the pillar after his own name, and it is called Absalom’s monument to this day.” Anytime anyone in the Bible starts to worry about their own name, trouble is close behind. You may remember at the tower of Babel, God has just told the people to spread out, to fill the earth, and the people gather together and say, “Let us build ourselves a city with a tower that reaches to heaven so that we may make a name for ourselves and not be scattered over the face of the whole earth.”

This is worrisome behavior, but where we really see what’s in his heart is in chapters 15-18 where he plots to overthrow and kill his father, David. Starting in Chapter 15, we’re just going to do a fly over to catch the highlights of this story while really looking at Absalom.

  • He provided himself with a Chariot (15.1).  This is an act of claiming the throne.  One of his brothers will do this later in the book.
  • Set self up as judge, threw David under the bus (15.2-4).  David was judging the people’s cases, but Absalom told them otherwise.
  • Stole the hearts of the people (15.5-6)
  • Rebellion: Has himself declared king.  “ABSOLOM IS KING IN HEBRON” (15.10)
  • Tricked many into joining his side (15.11)
  • Even made sacrifices (15.12), almost as if to say, “Well, the king of Israel needs Yahweh’s approval, so I’m going to at least fake it.”
  • David is forced to flee for his life  (15.13-14).
  • Sleep with David’s concubines (16.21-22) to bring shame on them and ridicule to David.
  • Seeks the life of his FATHER (17.1-4, 18.3).

Now, you know why I confused Absalom with a blood sucking vampire!  Finally, in the midst of the battle, Absalom’s hair gets caught in a tree (18.9) OH, THAT HAIR, that beautiful hair, that luscious hair, a physical expression of the glory that Absalom hungered for was his downfall.  And, in short, he is speared by Joab and his men and thrown into a pit. (18.14-17)

What does all this tell us about JESUS?  Well, we saw in David’s faith in God, a picture of Jesus’, who is God the Son, trust in God the Father. David is a positive picture. And Absalom is a negative picture. To see Jesus’ in contrast to Absalom, look at Philippians 2.5-11.

Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, 10 so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, 11 and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

Notice first that Jesus was exalted to his throne only AFTER trusting His father and saving His people.  BECAUSE (Therefore in v. 9) He was self-giving (vv. 5-8), He is fit to be King (vv. 9-10).

HOW MUCH MORE DIFFERENT COULD JESUS BE FROM ABSOLOM?  Let’s look at three ways.

First is how they relate to their fathers.

David flees Absolom

Absalom slept with his father’s concubines to bring shame on David, to show his contempt for David, and ultimately, he wanted to kill David.  He wanted glory and dominion for himself.

Not my will, but yours be done, Father

Jesus said things like “I’ve come to do the will of my Father. My food is to do the Father’s will. Father, not my will, but yours be done.”  He wanted to give glory to the Father.  He wanted to bring men and women to the Father!

What about in this area of glory and name?

Absalom riding through Jerusalem to be seen

Absalom didn’t just want glory in this life, seen in buying a chariot and riding through town to be seen and admired by everyone, but sets up a monument to himself so that even when he’s dead, people will think about him. He tries to build himself up.

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Washing the feet of His disciples

Jesus emptied himself. He left the glories of Heaven to come to earth. Jesus humbled himself to death on a cross. Literally emptied himself, pouring out his blood to save sinners.  He was the greatest SERVANT of all.

What about their judgments?  Both Hung on a Tree, buried in a pit/tomb.

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Absalom’s Death

Absalom, full of himself, is ensnared, literally, by his pride.  His life said, “everyone’s life for mine”.  Jesus’ act of supreme sacrifice declared, “MY LIFE FOR YOURS” from start to finish.  Absalom was speared through for his own sin.  Jesus was speared for our sin.  Absalom hung on a tree because of his treachery.  Jesus hung on a tree to forgive our treachery.  Absalom got what he deserved.  Jesus got what we deserved.  His life for ours.

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Jesus, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sins of the world!

So, Absalom helps us see the glory of Christ, precisely because he is nothing like our Jesus.  From the core of his being to the way he rules, our God is a self-giving, self-sharing God, and that is how Jesus came and how He continues to rule!

King David – A Jesus-like Savior

David is appointed King, that is chosen by God, and then anointed King. This happens in 1 Samuel, chapter 16. It’ll be several years before he actually is enthroned as king. He’s chosen and anointed, but only after trusting the Lord and saving God’s people, will he be enthroned. And that’s the story we want to look at in chapter 17, just one chapter later, where David saves God’s people.

David is anointed and in the very next chapter, we get to see his SHINING MOMENT as the anointed one (echoes of “Messiah” should be ringing in our ears), even though he’s not yet taken the throne.

We’ve said in the last post that Biblical Kingship is all about my life for yours.  How do we see MY LIFE FOR YOURS in the story of David and Goliath? Most of us know the story…especially the ending of the story.  SPOILER ALERT: David wins. And we often think about this story and we try to place ourselves in it, and inevitably, we put ourselves in David’s shoes. Glen Scrivener (whose unpacking of this story is fantastic here) catalogues a list of sermon titles based on this story, things like: Defeat the Giants in our lives, The five smooth stones of the Christian life, pebble power.  But a major point of the story is this: you’re not David. Instead, you NEED a David.

The whole story is set up by Goliath’s challenge. He says, pick one of your warriors to fight me. If he wins, you all win. If I win, we all win. This is a practice commonly called champion warfare, in which the hopes of the entire army rest on one, individual champion, one warrior.  I doesn’t matter how strong, hopeful, skillful, worried, scared, weak the rest of the army is…it only matters what their champion is able to do. In fact, the Israelites seemed to be on the verge of surrender or desertion.

11 When Saul and all Israel heard these words of the Philistine, they were dismayed and greatly afraid.

24 All the men of Israel, when they saw the man, fled from him and were much afraid.

For 40 Days, Israel was waiting for a savior to defeat Goliath

They need a hero! Saul was meant to be their champion, their king, but he was just as scared as everyone else.  So what does David do? He steps in and says, “Let no man’s heart fail because of him (Goliath). Your servant will go and fight with this Philistine.” Essentially, he’s saying, “my life for yours.” I’ll fight on your behalf.  Do not be afraid.  I’ll put myself in danger for you.  And he learned this as a shepherd.  Look at verse 34f.

“Your servant used to keep sheep for his father. And when there came a lion, or a bear, and took a lamb from the flock, 35 I went after him and struck him and delivered it out of his mouth. And if he arose against me, I caught him by his beard and struck him and killed him. 36 Your servant has struck down both lions and bears, and this uncircumcised Philistine shall be like one of them, for he has defied the armies of the living God.”

Question: “What makes you a qualified savior, David?”

Answer: “I know how to lay down my life for another.”

This story isn’t about Joe Plumber taking on big pharma. It’s not about the Loser University defeating Champ State at football. If you and I are anyone in the story, it’s not David…it’s the helpless soldiers standing around on the brink of despair. They could not save themselves, they needed a savior. It’s not a story about an underdog, it’s THE Story of divine rescue, by faith alone, by God’s grace alone. It’s a picture of our anointed King Jesus, sacrificing himself, to defeat Satan, Sin, and Death for us. Or as Scrivener says, “We don’t do it for Jesus, Jesus already did it for us”

So David was appointed by God and anointed by God, but only after saving God’s people is he enthroned. Does that sound familiar?

What is Jesus’ Kingdom like?

The Kingdom of God has been a topic of interest since I become a believer.  In seminary, my studies in Biblical Theology afforded me the chance to really dig in on some aspects of it.  I remember reading George Ladd for the first time and realizing that the word “kingdom” in both Hebrew and Greek could mean a place (England), a people (the English), or the reign of the King (During Henry VIII’s Kingdom, the Reformation began in England), with the latter being the primary use when discussing God’s Kingdom – it’s about HIS REIGN.  That was mind blowing for me.

One thing we did not discuss as much was the nature of the Kingdom flowing out of the nature of the King.  We did discuss what God’s consummated reign my look like, but we failed to connect it to the very character of our God-King himself.  The reign of God is the way it is because that is what GOD HIMSELF is like!  That’s something that has been of interest to me recently.  So, in this and the next 3 posts, I’m going to unpack what that means for us.

I heard Glen Scrivener tell a story once about Tom Wright.  Tom Wright was a chaplain at Merton College, which is a part of Oxford University from 1975-1978. One of the rules at the time was that every student had to meet with the chaplain at least once. As you can imagine, that was often quite uncomfortable for the majority of students who self-identified as agnostic or atheist. Often a student would say, “I have to meet with you, but I don’t believe in God.”

Eventually, Wright grew curious, and started responding, “That’s interesting.  Which one? Which God don’t you believe in?” Taken aback the students would think for a moment and then describe the god in which they didn’t believe. After they shared, Wright, with relief in his voice, would say, “Oh, that’s fantastic, I don’t believe in that god either.”

It was fascinating how close the descriptions all seemed to be. They used different words, but all were essentially in agreement on the key content of who this god was. They spoke of a god that was more like…

  • A cosmic hall monitor, the govenator, dishing out divine decrees simply to flex his muscles.
  • He’s a withdrawn, fickle, and impersonal deity, looking for whom he might smite with a great smiting…smoting…let’s go with smiting?
  • He’s what James Torrence called “a contract god.” If you want his blessing, or at least for him not to wipe you off the face of the earth, you better perform.

What they all have in common is that these are all descriptions of POWER. That’s what comes to mind. A Lord, that is, a King, that is all power and little of anything else.

Well, no wonder they didn’t want a god like that.  Michael Reeves says “you don’t love a god like that. You might be grateful that he doesn’t kill you, but you’ll never love him.  that this sort of god is like a cosmic speed camera.  He may let you off with a warning, for which you may be grateful, but he’s never won your heart.”

AND THESE DESCRIPTIONS COULDN’T BE FURTHER FROM THE GOD OF THE BIBLEWhat we’ll see instead is that God’s kingship, his dominion, even when he gives law (because he does that), but everything he does, every part of his kingship – it flows from a completely different fountain. At the heart of God’s dominion is this principle: MY LIFE FOR YOURS.

Think of it like this: What was God doing before Creation? Jesus said a few very interesting things. In his prayer in John 17.5, he talks about the glory that he and the Father shared together before the world existed (17.5). In verse 24, he says to the Father, “you loved me before the foundation of the world.”  From all eternity past, we see fellowshipping together, sharing together, giving to each other.  I’ve heard one preacher say this: “There are no mirrors in the Trinity.” Jesus isn’t checking himself out making sure he looks as good as the Father. The Holy Spirit isn’t worried that the Son is receiving more glory…NO, they are enjoying each other, giving to each other. And that is the heart of God’s Kingship.  Self-giving, self-deferring, sacrificial love is THE mark of a real king because that’s the marker of the real God.

But that’s nowhere near what most people think, even Christians, when they consider that God is King, God is ruler.  God’s Kingship is this: MY LIFE FOR YOURS.  Or we might say from our perspective “His life for ours,” “THE KING’S LIFE FOR MINE.” That is what Biblical Kingship should look like, because that’s what God’s rule looks like.

So, let’s look at this MY LIFE FOR YOURS kingship in Scripture. We’re going to see that this is what good earthly rule looks like, but we’re also gonna see WAAAAAAAY more that it’s all here to point us to His rule, to our good King – King Jesus. We will see, in the end, that our God isn’t a cosmic traffic camera, willing to give us a free pass in return for good behavior and a little gratitude. No, He means to win our hearts. To WIN OUR HEARTS.

So, in the next post, we’ll look at King David and how God’s character shaped his reign.  The following post, we’ll look at Absalom, David’s son, as a negative example of what we’re talking about.  Finally, we’ll look to Christ, and ask about how we ought to respond. These two earthly kings are going to help us see Jesus more clearly and that His reign flows directly out of His heart!