Psalm 119:25–32; 2 Samuel 8,9; John 7:45–52

Psalm 119:25–32: Each eight verse stanza of this endless psalm is a variation on a theme: how God’s word brings our psalmist life: “The way of Your decrees let me grasp,/ that I may dwell on your wonders.” (27) And to be denied understanding God’s word is the source of pain: “My being dissolves in anguish./ Sustain me as befits Your word.” (28)

For the psalmist, it is God’s word that keeps him on the straight and narrow and thereby hopefully brings peace and grace: “The way of lies remove from me,/ and in Your teaching grant me grace.” (29) Reflect for a moment on the enormous contrast—and gift we have—of Jesus Christ as our source of grace. Here, in the Old Covenant, there is only searching the scriptures: “The way of trust I have chosen./ Your laws I have set before me.” (30) It is only by strict adherence to the Law that brings freedom from societal disgrace and disgrace before God himself: “I have clung to Your precepts./ O Lord, do not shame me.” (31)

But yet. There is some modicum of comfort in knowing God’s word: “On the way of Your commands I run,/ for You make my heart capacious.” (32) We Christians have the benefit of grace through Jesus Christ, as well the understanding—and yes, peace—that studying God’s word brings as the guidepost for living a reflective and upright life.

2 Samuel 8,9: David is the very definition of warrior-king and the battles between Israel and its neighbors continue unabated as David builds an empire.

  • David attacked the Philistines and subdued them” (8:1)
  • He also defeated the Moabites.” (2)
  • David also struck down King Hadadezer son of Rehob of Zobah.” (3)

Our authors are quick to note that “The Lord gave victory to David wherever he went.” (6) And in the process, he is building great wealth for Israel. When “King Toi of Hamath heard that David had defeated the whole army of Hadadezer” (9) hears of David’s conquest he basically rushes to become David’s vassal before David turns Israel’s strength against Hamath and “brought with him articles of silver, gold, and bronze.” (10) God remains at the center of David’s life and rather than hoard this wealth, the king dedicates it “to the Lord, together with the silver and gold that he dedicated from all the nations he subdued, from Edom, Moab, the Ammonites, the Philistines, Amalek, and from the spoil of King Hadadezer son of Rehob of Zobah.” (8:11, 12)

Chapter nine shifts our focus from David’s conquests as warrior to his domestic kindnesses. He asks his servant, Ziba, “Is there anyone remaining of the house of Saul to whom I may show the kindness of God?” (9:3) Ziba replies that the only one remaining is Mephibosheth, Jonathan’s crippled son.

Mephibosheth is brought before David who tells him not to be afraid and that “I will restore to you all the land of your grandfather Saul, and you yourself shall eat at my table always.” (9:7) He then commissions Ziba who has “fifteen sons and twenty servants” (10) to become Meph’s servants and “till the land for him, and shall bring in the produce, so that your master’s grandson may have food to eat.” (10)

In these two chapters we come to understand that in following God, David enjoys unrivaled power but [unlike too many politicians today] he does not become a narcissist, thinking the world is centered around him. Rather, because he is a God-follower, he cares for those who otherwise would be ignored. No wonder the prophets speak of a Messiah with davidic qualities.

John 7:45–52: The Pharisees, who have sent the temple police to arrest this blasphemer, Jesus, are more than a little annoyed when they come back empty-handed. They accuse the police, “Surely you have not been deceived too, have you?” (47), noting that neither the temple authorities nor the Pharisees believe this Jesus guy. In a gesture strikingly similar to the wholesale dismissal of poor and uneducated Americans who do not appreciate the glories of progressivism, the Pharisees sniff, “this crowd, which does not know the law—they are accursed.” (49) Haughty attitudes abound down through history!

However, Nicodemus reminds his colleagues “Our law does not judge people without first giving them a hearing to find out what they are doing, does it?” (51) The Pharisees are not open to an honest discussion but have dismissed Jesus solely on the grounds he comes from Galilee. They tell Nicodemus that if you “Search [the scriptures] and you will see that no prophet is to arise from Galilee.” (52) As far as they are concerned, the case is closed.

This attitude is exactly like many in positions of authority today who will not listen to someone because they’ve prejudged that person. He or she is from the wrong demographic and therefore has nothing worthwhile to say. No wonder Jesus constantly reminds us to listen. Listening is not the strong suit of the Pharisees, nor is it the strong suit of too many in power today, including a certain president, who believe they know everything and that further information or examination is unnecessary.

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