A Word From Grace: Monday Edition - The Truly Good King

1 & 2 Samuel frequently contrasts bad King Saul and good King David. One area of contrast between the two kings is in how they go about seeking God. Both kings are said to “inquire of God,” but each king has very different motives for doing so. Saul’s motivations were clearly selfish. He sought God’s blessing on what he already wanted to do. If God had a different plan, Saul did what he wanted to anyway. The result? Heaps of trouble for him and those in his kingdom (frequent defeat at the hands of their enemies). So consistent was Saul’s disobedience that eventually his kingdom was taken from him and, “when Saul inquired of the Lord, the Lord did not answer him” (1 Sam. 28:6). Clearly a consistent attitude of rebellion without repentance has serious consequences.

Saul’s shortcomings point to Israel’s need for a good and godly king. Enter David on the scene. David is a huge step up from King Saul. David inquired of the Lord more frequently than did Saul and, more importantly, David obeyed… At least most of the time. You see, even mighty King David was far from perfect (think Bathsheba and Uriah). Just like Saul, David’s selfishness landed him in trouble (e.g., his kids rebel against him and each other, abusing one another and trying to usurp the kingdom). David repented of his sin, thus staying in relationship with God, yet still his kingdom eventually fell.

What do we learn from this? First, we learn the truth of Isaiah 53:6, “All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned –every one– to his own way.” Even King David fell short! And we are no different. We tend to be more Saul-like in how we seek God. Often, we want him to bless our plans. But, even when we genuinely want to please God, like David, we still fall short. Left to our own devices our plans and our ability to follow God’s plans amount to nothing (John 15:5). Second, we see that we need a different kind of king. David gave Israel a taste of what a godly king was like, but the image was still blurry.

Jesus stepped onto the pages of history to clarify the picture. Only in Christ do we find the example of a human (for Jesus was truly human) who perfectly obeyed God. Jesus said, “I have come down from heaven, not to do my own will but the will of him who sent me” (John 6:38). Paul says of Jesus that “being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross” (Phil 2:8). Only Jesus qualifies as a truly good king.

How does this help us? Like Israel, we’re in need of a godly King. All other kings and kingdoms eventually fall. Only Jesus and his kingdom are different. On the cross, Jesus defeated the powers of sin and death and, through his resurrection, ascended to the throne to serve as the one true perfect king. This is the gospel! As a result, Jesus invites us to be his subjects, offering us forgiveness for our sin. To top it all off, Jesus promised to put his Spirit in his followers, empowering them to hear his voice and obey his commands. Those who make Jesus their only king get to take part in his eternal kingdom that is currently at work redeeming this broken world.

Application – First, choose to make Jesus your king! Then, like David did imperfectly and Jesus did perfectly, inquire of the Lord in every situation. And not just the big life decisions (e.g., where to go school, what career path to pursue, who to marry, where to live, etc.), but moment-by-moment and day-by-day. Finally, rather than seeking an answer that advances your own agenda, seek to advance the only eternal kingdom. Ask God, “how can I best advance your kingdom in this situation?”

God Bless,
Pastor Sean

Sean's Picks

One of my favorite Christian voices right now is Skye Jethani an Alliance pastor in Wheaton, IL. I highly recommend his stuff, but I want to highlight a couple things in particular.
  • The Divine Commodity - Through Scripture, history, engaging narrative, and the inspiring art of Vincent van Gogh, this book explores spiritual practices that liberate our imaginations to live as Christ's people in a consumer culture opposed to the values of his kingdom.
  • With God Daily - Five days a week, Skye emails an excellent devotional. His current series focuses on the current COVID-19 situation and how God can use it in the life of believers and of the church.

Missions Spotlight: Erica Blickens

Prayer Requests From Erica
  • There have now been 3 reported cases of coronavirus in Moz, and I’m fairly certain it’s going to get worse before it gets better.
  • The attacks in the north of Mozambique are escalating. I think that’s the biggest prayer request I have for now... Please pray for our friends in this captured town and all the Christians in danger of their lives right now. Here’s an article about it:
“The insurgents attacked by land and sea before dawn yesterday and overran the town and its military base, according to security sources and the official news agency AIM. It reported the spokesperson for the General Command of the Mozambican police, Orlando Mudumane, as telling reporters in Maputo yesterday that the terrorists had attacked the barracks of the defence forces, where they had hoisted their flag.

Mudumane said the insurgents had thrown up barricades on the main roads leading into the town, which they fully controlled.

The town is in Mozambique’s northernmost Cabo Delgado province, about 200km north of the larger port town of Pemba and close to the Tanzanian border. Hundreds of soldiers and civilians have been killed in scores of attacks by the jihadist insurgency which began in October 2017.

A security source said some insurgents had arrived in two speedboats to attack Mocimboa da Praia from the east while others attacked by land, overwhelming the army.
“The waterborne assault was conducted by an outside element… experienced fighters… could be from Somalia/Tanzania,” the source said.

But some security sources described those responsible for Monday’s attack on Mocimboa da Praia as “ISCAP” – the Islamic State Central African Province. This is believed to be affiliated to Islamic State in Somalia. Exactly what its links are to the wider Islamic State terror group is unclear.

There were fears on Monday for the fate of Christians in particular in the town as the insurgents were said to have been roaming the streets, hunting for them. In previous attacks in the countryside of Mozambique’s northernmost Cabo Delgado province, the insurgents have beheaded and maimed scores of civilians and government soldiers, showing the characteristic brutality of Islamic State insurgents in the Middle East.

 “Just got word from people hiding outside town there, word is that insurgents still in control, asking for Muslims to go to pray at mosque and looking for Christians,” a local citizen texted to a security specialist based in Mozambique.

The specialist was told the government army was holding a position to the north of Mocimboa da Praia along the R762 road and hoping that army reinforcements being sent from Pemba would arrive in time to fend off any insurgent attack on their position.

AIM reported the electronic version of the independent daily O Pais, as saying the insurgent attack had begun shortly before dawn, at around 4am. It said O Pais had quoted eyewitnesses as saying the shooting began in the Pamunda neighbourhood, and then spread out across the town, which was then virtually under siege.

 “Other sources say that some of the attackers came by boat, and occupied the Milamba neighbourhood.  One eyewitness said, ‘They came before dawn in boats. Then they began to shoot. They passed by my house heading towards the centre of the town. They were praying and carrying black flags, written in Arabic’.

AIM added that O Pais had reported that some of those who came by sea had returned to their boats and left the area after the attack.

A security source said the jihadist capture of Mocimboa da Praia – if they held it – would be a significant victory for them and a substantial loss for the government forces.  Even if surrendered, the capture of the town was a huge symbolic victory for the insurgents.

“It’s quite a big town. Not only is it incredibly strategic, it’s symbolic as well. It’s got a port, an airport and it’s on the road to Palma [where the burgeoning natural gas industry is based.]” Oil companies were using it to bring in containers on barges to be moved to their installations, he said.”

Please please pray for the Christians who they will torture and kill.
A second town (Quissanga) was taken this morning.
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