The parable of the Good Samaritan provides an example of a call to compassion and explains that such a call presents opportunity to recognize a neighbor and demonstrate love of neighbor: care about the neighbor in need, commit to providing goods or service to address the need, and persevere in seeking to alleviate the need. God uses such interactions to direct human service to points of need and fulfill his purpose for provider-receiver relationships among people.
The parable of the Good Samaritan explains potential human behavior in a call to compassion. Potential response to such a call could consist of outright refusal, thus declining the responsibilities; or accepting the call and completing the responsibilities. Furthermore, the parable uses the events of a call to compassion to define love, neighbor, and “love your neighbor” in the context of recognizing another person’s need and accepting and completing responsibility to alleviate the need. Also, the parable defines need and needy in relation to a call to compassion.
We discuss the parable of the Good Samaritan and the explanations of human behavior provided in the parable to further understand what God expects from a person he calls to provide goods or service to alleviate the need of another.
Samson-Delilah interactions provide important principles for a man or woman seeking marital love and wondering whether to press on or withdraw from a proposed relationship. Samson was determined to win Delilah’s love despite confronting strong negative indications against a marital relationship with her. All she wanted was to spy on him for enemies that sought to neutralize his leadership of Israel. He ignored the danger signs against seeking her love, because he thought he could win her over by giving in without compromising his core belief. He eventually succumbed, broke his covenant with God, but did not win Delilah’s love.
Samson was born in covenant that endowed him with special capabilities and specific mission to begin delivery of Israel from Philistines. He was dedicated to God and to the mission from conception. As a symbol of his commitment, his hair would not be shaved or cut [Judges 13:5]: “For behold, you shall conceive and bear a son. And no razor shall come upon his head, for the child shall be a Nazirite to God from the womb; and he shall begin to deliver Israel out of the hand of the Philistines.” He grew up with extraordinary strength that struck fear on the Philistines. He could stand up to them, was always successful against them, and was promising as leader to free Israel from Philistine rule. The Philistine rulers had no answer to him.
Then they saw an opportunity. Samson loved a Philistine woman named Delilah that did not love him. The Philistine rulers persuaded Delilah to pretend to be interested in him so she could gain access to spy on him. They would pay her handsomely for information that enabled them subdue Samson and end his leadership of Israel [Judges 16:5]: “The rulers of the Philistines went to her and said, ‘See if you can lure him into showing you the secret of his great strength and how we can overpower him so we may tie him up and subdue him. Each one of us will give you eleven hundred shekels of silver.’”
Although Samson had sufficient information to understand the woman was spying on him, he continued to seek her love, trying to deceive her by giving in somewhat without revealing the secret that she wanted. However, she eventually wore him down: “With such nagging she prodded him day after day until he was sick to death of it” [Judges 16:16]. He succumbed and revealed the secret of his extraordinary strength. Delilah took advantage as soon as she could [Judges 16:19]: “After putting him to sleep on her lap, she called for someone to shave off the seven braids of his hair, and so began to subdue him. And his strength left him.”
Jacob became a polygamist by responding to circumstances that arose before him regarding marriage and marital relationships. His marriages sowed seeds for family expansion but also of discord that threatened healthy interactions within his family. Thus, Jacob’s polygamy formed the foundation for fulfillment of God’s promise but also exposed features of such family structure to enable an understanding of the issues of polygamy applicable to present day husband-wife interactions and relationships.
Interactions within Jacob’s family provide opportunity to understand various issues of polygamy. Jacob found himself a polygamist by responding from the heart to circumstances before him regarding marriage and marital relationships. He loved one woman, his uncle’s daughter Rachel, and worked hard to fulfill his part of an agreement to satisfy the dowry requirements by serving her father Laban for seven years as a shepherd. However, on the wedding day he was deceived into wedding her senior sister Leah. He remained determined to marry Rachel. The girls’ father appealed to him to complete the wedding process with Leah and marry Rachel as well thereafter. Jacob accepted. He fulfilled his dream of marrying the woman he loved but also honored her senior sister’s right to wed first. He accomplished these by marrying both sisters, the older before the younger.
Later, as Rachel’s hope of having a child with Jacob began to fade, she offered her maid Bilhah to Jacob: “Here is my maid Bilhah; go in to her, and she will bear a child on my knees, that I also may have children by her” [Genesis 30:3]. Jacob accepted and had two male children with Bilhah. Leah became jealous of Rachel’s success with Bilhah and offered her maid Zilpah to Jacob. He accepted the offer as well. The two maids became his wives in addition to Leah and Rachel. He married Leah, Rachel, and Bilhah because of his love for Rachel. He married Zilpah to extend to Leah the same opportunity that he extended to Rachel.
Thus, he became a husband of four wives because of responding positively to circumstances that arose in his relationship with Rachel. He became an incidental polygamist, thus sowing seeds for the family expansion that God promised his grandfather Abraham. Furthermore, his polygamy sowed seeds of family discord that initially threatened to derail fulfillment of God’s promise of prosperity but ultimately became a vehicle to convey fulfillment of the promise. Thus, Jacob’s polygamy formed the foundation for fulfillment of God’s promise to Abraham but also exposed features of polygamous relationships to enable an understanding of the issues of polygamy applicable to present day husband-wife relationships.
We discuss Jacob’s polygamy in a two-part study. First, in the current study, we examine his becoming a polygamist by responding positively to circumstances that arose before him regarding marriage and marital relationships. Also, we examine how his polygamy sowed seeds for family expansion as well as seeds of discord that threatened healthy interactions within the family. In the second part, we examine the unhealthy family interactions and relationships that resulted from his polygamy and triggered events that initially threatened the family but ultimately led the family to multiply and prosper.
Mary and Joseph interactions during the childhood of Jesus illustrate unity in understanding and performing parenting responsibilities. Their overnight escape to Egypt, return to Israel several years later, and diversion to Galilee instead of Judea were each based on revelations Joseph received in a dream and communicated to his wife. Other examples include their consistent annual trip to Jerusalem to participate in Passover festival for at least twelve years as the child developed. Their love for each other and love of God led to unity in parenting applicable today to other kinds of husband-wife ministry.
In the first of this two-part study on Mary and Joseph as a couple (Love Prepares Home for God’s Intervention), we noted that they relied on their love for each other to deal with human challenges they faced as part of their call to become parents of the Messiah. We concluded that love prepared their heart to receive and execute the call and may well have been the reason they were chosen.
In this second part of the study, we discuss another benefit of their love, that is, unity in understanding and performing parenting responsibilities. Examples illustrating their “unity in parenting” are evident in two sets of events that occurred during the childhood of Jesus. One set was in connection with the flight to Egypt and back to Israel. The other is in relation to their annual participation in the Passover festival. In all the events, their love for each other and love of God led to consistent understanding of their parenting roles and performing their responsibilities based on the understanding.
Their interactions can be understood better by considering parenting as a husband-wife ministry. God called Mary and Joseph to the ministry of parenting the Messiah. Initially, Mary was the primary (or “first primary”) in the ministry and Joseph was the supporter (or “second primary”). Mary’s responsibility at the initial stage was to carry the pregnancy and Joseph’s was to support her wholeheartedly so together they nurtured the unborn child through birth. However, their roles switched after the child was born.
God recognized Joseph as the family leader, communicated child care instructions to him, and thereby charged him with leading the husband-wife team to implement the instructions. They remained united in implementing the instructions, completing each task successfully without any indication of disagreement. Also, their performance indicates they communicated effectively to determine steps toward completing the instructions. Love of each other and love of God led to effective communication, understanding their responsibilities, and performing the responsibilities to accomplish the objective.
If parenting is a husband-wife ministry, then other kinds of husband-wife ministry can benefit from the parenting experience of Mary and Joseph. In every case, unity in ministry based on love of each other and love of God will lead to understanding and recognizing responsibilities and performing them seamlessly to accomplish the objectives of the ministry. Furthermore, we note their unity in parenting led to fulfilling God’s purpose for the child as prophesied through the Scriptures: “Out of Egypt I called My Son” [Matthew 2:15] and “He shall be called a Nazarene” [Matthew 2:23]. In the same way, unity in ministry will lead to a husband-wife team fulfilling God’s purpose for their ministry.
Marital Commitment Founded on Love
Mary and Joseph relied on love to deal with human challenges they faced as part of their call to become parents of the Messiah. Mary was concerned about potential effects of the pregnancy on her relationship with Joseph. She surrendered her concerns to God. Joseph, on his part, was aware of Mary’s extraneous pregnancy but determined to protect her from public disgrace in the event of terminating the engagement in obedience to Jewish law. However, God sent him an angel to explain Mary’s pregnancy. Their love for each other prepared their heart to receive and execute their unique call and may well have been the reason they were chosen.
This study focuses on Mary and Joseph as a couple, using events from their life to seek better understanding of God’s purpose for husband-wife interactions and relationships. They were engaged to be married when God called them to host the Messiah as his human parents. They prevailed over the human challenges of their call because of strong marital commitment founded on love and relying on the faith of God to overcome difficulties.
The call came to Mary first. Angel Gabriel appeared to her in the town of Nazareth and informed her in a live human conversation that she will conceive of the Messiah through the power of the Holy Spirit. Her request for clarification reveals she was concerned about potential effects on her human relationships, especially with her fiancé Joseph. In her loyalty to human commitments, she asked for human understanding. However, after the angel explained the conception will be through the power of God, whereby “nothing will be impossible” [Luke 1:37], she obeyed and submitted her concerns wholeheartedly to God.
Joseph received his call as he considered his options for responding to his fiancée’s inexplicable pregnancy. He was loyal to a Jewish law that required him to terminate the engagement. However, he was concerned about her and wanted to protect her from public disgrace. Then an angel of God informed him in a dream that “what is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit” [Matthew 1:20]. Furthermore, the angel informed Joseph he will be the human father of the Son of God that was conceived in Mary. The dream was sufficient for Joseph. He took Mary home to be his wife.
Through the concern she raised with the angel, Mary showed her love for Joseph and commitment to their engagement. Joseph, on his part, showed his love by seeking to protect Mary even if he had to obey the Jewish law. Both surrendered their concerns to God in complete obedience as soon as they recognized the call. Their love for each other determined their choices in a difficult challenge. Their faith of God gave them peace that their concerns will be resolved right. We discuss the events of their call to reach a conclusion that they were chosen because of their love for each other.
David and Abigail discovered love through mutual admiration of shared core values. They met as Abigail sought to mediate an escalating dispute between David and her husband. She recognized David as a leader and future king of Israel with God-fearing reputation and mediated the dispute by appealing to his Godliness. She prayed he would avoid any blemish that could constitute a guilt on his conscience. Thus, she sought to preserve his reputation that she and others admired. David appreciated and admired her for understanding and respecting his virtues and principles. Their mutual admiration of shared values became foundation for love and marriage.
The biblical account of interactions among Abigail, Nabal, and David begins with a quarrel between Nabal and David that threatened to escalate into David attacking and destroying Nabal’s household. However, Nabal’s wife Abigail intervened and mediated the dispute successfully. She used her understanding and respect for David’s Godliness and his mission in Israel to redirect him from seeking vengeance against Nabal. David appreciated Abigail: “…for your good judgment and for keeping me from bloodshed this day and from avenging myself with my own hands” [1 Samuel 25:33]. Further, he thanked God for placing her in position to redirect him from anger: “Praise be to the Lord, the God of Israel, who has sent you today to meet me” [1 Samuel 25:32].
This encounter between Abigail and David formed the foundation for them to fall in love. They later got married when Abigail became available to remarry after Nabal died. Therefore, we study their encounter as a biblical example of successful courtship.
Abigail’s entreaty to David was motivated by needing to save her household from potential attack by David and his men. She sought to dissuade him from the attack by appealing to his reputation as a God-fearing man and future king of Israel. Her appeal struck a chord of appreciation and admiration in David: he appreciated her as an “angel” that God placed in his path to redirect him from anger and admired her for recognizing, understanding, and respecting his core virtues and principles. He had taken leave of his values to seek retribution against Nabal, but she called him back by reminding him that his reputation as a child of God and future king of Israel is inconsistent with “the staggering burden of needless bloodshed” or self vengeance [1 Samuel 25:31].
Let’s recall that Abigail went to David to mediate an escalating dispute between him and her husband. The mediation was successful [1 Samuel 25:35]: “Then David accepted from her hand what she had brought him and said, ‘Go home in peace. I have heard your words and granted your request.’” Thereafter, Abigail returned to her home and husband while David and his men returned to their base. However, the mediation process established mutual admiration and respect between Abigail and David. After Nabal died, David proposed marriage to Abigail and she accepted. In this bible study, we examine what happened in the mediation that became the foundation for love and marriage of Abigail and David.
Empowered through Love
Blessing from Hannah-Elkanah Interactions
Elkanah’s interactions with childless wife Hannah empowered her with belief in herself, husband’s love and care, and understanding she could represent the family as led from the heart. Her husband’s love despite apparent barrenness may have contributed to motivating her to seek a child from God. She sought as led from the heart without reservation, found Prophet Samuel as her first child, and enough more children to confirm she was never barren. Her husband supported and stood by her as they fulfilled her vow and received abundant blessing for themselves and humanity.
Hannah and Elkanah interactions leading to the birth and dedication of Samuel provide a message on spousal empowerment through love. Elkanah assigned each of his two wives responsibility to manage the affairs of her sub-family under his care and supervision. When the weight of her apparent barrenness appeared overwhelming for Hannah, Elkanah tried to comfort her by promising to love and care for her enough to make up for childlessness. His show of love in these circumstances may have contributed to motivating her to seek a child from God. Bitter from childlessness, she prayed boldly, without reservation, and vowed to dedicate the child, if God should grant her prayer, to a lifetime of selfless service in the House of God.
Elkanah could have taken advantage of the prevailing law of the land, the Law of Moses, to overturn the vow if he so wished. Instead, he stood by his wife as they fulfilled the vow exactly as she made it.
Their child from the vow was highly favored by God and people: “And the child Samuel grew in stature, and in favor both with the Lord and men” [1 Samuel 2:26]. He became a prophet at an early age, led Israel spiritually and politically through several decades, thus establishing a link to later generations starting with David that led to fulfillment of the Messiah promise. Furthermore, the couple had more children through Hannah despite her early temporary barrenness. Her husband’s love empowered Hannah with belief in herself, husband’s support, and understanding she could represent the family as led from the heart.
Bridging Over Potential Dispute
Lessons from Isaac-Rebekah Interactions
Rebekah avoided potential dispute with husband Isaac while getting him to implement a course of action she believed in for their family. In one case, she redirected him to implement God’s instruction regarding relationships among their children by taking advantage of his failing site. In another case, she secured Isaac’s approval of Jacob fleeing to Haran, using a concern they shared to bridge over potential disagreement regarding her immediate concern of fratricide among their children.
Interactions between Isaac and Rebekah indicate unwavering commitment to their marriage and acceptance of Isaac as leader in family affairs. Evidence for their marital commitment arises from the fact they lived for twenty years without a child but did not seek alternative solutions to childlessness. Instead, they prayed and believed God will give them children through the marriage. He did. Regarding the acceptance of Isaac as family leader, the evidence can be derived from two key events that we discuss in more detail presently.
However, in contrast with what we learned from the Shunammite couple, where family leadership was shared between the man and his wife through an informal division of responsibilities, Isaac’s leadership of family affairs appears total and unyielding with little if any room for Rebekah’s choice. His style of family leadership, though probably in keeping with customary practice, resulted in the unpleasant situation of his wife Rebekah deceiving him in order to implement an instruction from God regarding important family relationships. Additionally, at least one other significant event in their life shows Rebekah concealing a point of disagreement from her husband in order to arrive at a resolution acceptable to both of them. She bridged over potential dispute by focusing on a concern they shared.
We can learn from Isaac-Rebekah interactions that God may assign to a husband or his wife the responsibility to lead an aspect of family life. For example, as we discuss in more detail presently, God assigned to Rebekah the responsibility to safeguard and see to the implementation of his choice for the propagation of family inheritance.
Irrespective of whether God calls the husband or his wife, the guiding principles are the same. As we discuss in a previous bible study under Right Heart for Strategic Alliance, God expects the husband and wife to work together to accomplish the assigned objectives.
The Shunammite Couple lived according to this principle as we saw in a previous study. They shared family leadership amicably and assisted each other to accomplish family goals. God blessed them abundantly. In contrast, Isaac-Rebekah interactions provide an example of potential dispute due to unyielding family leadership by the husband. However, Rebekah devised ways to bridge over the potential dispute. In one case, she redirected her husband to implement God’s instruction regarding relationships among their children, by taking advantage of his failing site. In another, she secured Isaac’s approval of Jacob fleeing to Haran by presenting a concern they shared, thus bridging over potential disagreement regarding possible fratricide among their children
Christ used the parable of the Good Samaritan to teach us about love, compassion, and neighbor. As we discussed in several previous bible studies such as at This_Link, God creates every person to be his provider assistant. He assigns responsibilities to each of us as his provider assistant through a call to compassion.
Christ uses the parable of the Good Samaritan to describe potential circumstances of a call to compassion and what is expected of the provider assistant. Also, he uses the parable to underscore our freedom of choice to respond to a call to compassion by providing the needed service or to disobey by declining the call. Of course, there are rewards for obedience and punishment for disobedience that we will discuss in a future bible study.
In this bible study, we focus on Christ’s teaching through the parable of the Good Samaritan. We learn the meaning of a call to compassion, what is expected of the chosen provider assistant, and who is a neighbor. We also learn about the manifestation of love through compassion. In fact, one could say that Christ defined love through the parable. At the very least, he defined compassion as an effective manifestation of love. We discuss the meaning of compassion and its relationship with love. A call to compassion is an opportunity to perform our function (fulfill the purpose of our creation) as a channel for God’s compassion. Although he can do things for people in a supernatural way, he often prefers to use a natural approach by channeling his compassion through a human provider assistant. The parable of the Good Samaritan illustrates typical interactions between the service receiver and the provider assistant in a call to compassion.
Apostle Paul in Galatians 5:22-23 describes the image of God (fruits of the spirit) as love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. This list describes how people feel about you when you interact with them or they observe your interactions with other people. Your attitude conveys the image of God if you come across as attentive with an intent to understand other people’s feelings and needs; you are truthful and your statements are based on your best understanding; you don’t suddenly explode into anger; people don’t have to be perfect in interacting with you, because you will reasonably grant them another chance if they make a mistake.