Christ’s invitation to earn blessing through human service is open to all irrespective of any past misdeed. We learn from David-Bathsheba relationship that earned blessing and incurred punishment are parallel promises from God. They can coexist, do not offset each other, and are fulfilled at his choosing. David incurred severe punishment from seducing Bathsheba into adultery, murdering her husband to cover up the affair, and overall for covetousness. The punishment was fulfilled but did not interfere with David’s earned blessing: an inheritance from God’s promise to Abraham to father the ancestral lineage of the Messiah and a direct promise to David that his offspring will succeed him as king of Israel. Both promises were fulfilled through Solomon, a son to David-Bathsheba marriage.
David’s interactions with Bathsheba resulted in both severe punishment and fulfillment of previously earned blessing for David. As we discuss in a previous bible study under Seduction Covetousness Displeases God, David’s sin in the affair with Bathsheba consists of seduction, adultery, murder, and covetousness. He incurred severe punishment from the sin as Prophet Nathan announced to him: the child of the affair will die, a person close to David will sleep with his wives in broad daylight, and calamity will befall him from his household. All the promises were fulfilled.
However, as events representing fulfillment of the punishment unfolded in his life; other events that represent fulfillment of David’s earned blessing occurred in parallel and unaffected by the punishment. First, he inherited blessing from God’s promise to Abraham that was passed to David through several generations via his grandfather Obed and father Jesse. Second, God promised David directly that his offspring will succeed him as king of Israel: “When your days are over and you rest with your ancestors, I will raise up your offspring to succeed you, your own flesh and blood, and I will establish his kingdom” [2 Samuel 7:12]. God fulfilled both promises through Solomon, a son of David and Bathsheba conceived after their marriage.
The blessings did not buy him out of the punishment, nor did the punishment diminish his blessing in any way.
Christ uses the parable of the Sower to explain that God grants opportunities to every person to know him and grow, flourish, and bear fruit in him. Furthermore, he uses the parable to warn that a person may fail to accomplish the goal of flourishing and bearing fruit in God because of personal habits and environmental influence.
He identifies three potential causes of failure as poor understanding and assimilation of the message, inadequate connection to spiritual nourishment, and inability to withstand enemy competition. In this discussion of the parable of the Sower, we focus on the approach to guarding against and rising above the potential causes of failure. We discuss our understanding of the potential failures and identify various things we can do to avoid them, in order to attain maturity in God and live the life that he created in us. Also, we recall information from previous bible studies to discuss the meaning of bearing fruit in God.
This is the second of a two-part study from the genealogy of Jesus, to examine the lives of a number of individuals that would have been considered unsuitable based on ordinary standards of current society. Because God selected each of them to be part of the lineage of Christ, we can draw lessons from their lives regarding his purpose for human interactions and relationships. We select four persons—Perez, Boaz, Obed, and Solomon—because the bible provides additional information to enable an understanding of their lives and, potentially, their inclusion in the genealogy. We discussed Perez and Boaz in Part 1. This session looks at Obed and Solomon.
PEREZ, SON OF JUDAH We learned in Part 1 that Perez was a fulfillment of God’s blessing for Judah that was passed to him from Abraham through Isaac and Jacob. Furthermore, Judah earned blessing by offering to sacrifice himself for his junior brother Benjamin. We noted he may have also incurred punishment later for marrying a Canaanite or going to bed with a woman he thought was a prostitute that turned out to be his daughter-in-law. However, any punishment he incurred had no effect on his blessing. The blessing was fulfilled in Perez, a grandfather along the lineage of Christ.
BOAZ, SON OF SALMON AND RAHAB Also, we learned that Boaz was a fulfillment of God’s blessing for Rahab, the prostitute that harbored two Israeli spies in Jericho. Rahab earned blessing because she feared God and protected people she believed were on a mission for him notwithstanding their mission included spying on her people. Any punishment she incurred for prostitution had no effect on her blessing. The blessing was fulfilled in Boaz, a grandfather along the lineage of Christ.
This is the second of a two-part discussion of the Christian basis for and approach to mediation. The first part focused on the city clerk in Ephesus defusing a mob by understanding the facts of their grievance and using the facts to lead them to realize that the gathering was unnecessary and could violate the anti-riot ordinance. We learned from the event that a key aspect of mediation is to assess the facts and use them to guide the disputants to a peaceful understanding. Also, a mediation should identify the available options for ending the dispute and potential consequences of continuing with it.
In this final installment of the discussion, we examine two cases that highlight potential difficulties with assessing the facts and presenting them to the disputants. In a case mediated by Solomon, there was no independent witness to verify conflicting accounts of the facts by the disputants. In contrast, the facts were clearly identified at the outset for the second case; however, the mediator needed special communication strategy to present the facts to the disputant in a way that defined a path to resolution. The cases help illustrate special skills that a mediator may need in searching for an acceptable resolution of a conflict.
You may have at times needed to mediate in a dispute between two parties, calm down a crowd, or help an individual resolve an internal conflict. The bible provides guidance on conducting mediation, through several successful examples. We discuss a few of the examples to understand what they did and from them learn how to prepare for, and the approach to conducting, a mediation.
The first example comes from a city clerk defusing a mob in Ephesus during Paul’s mission with Silas. A large crowd had gathered in the city theater and threatened to riot. The city clerk calmed and dispersed the crowd by explaining the facts in a way to convince them the riot was not necessary. We will also look at King Solomon’s mediation of a dispute between two ladies over a baby and commander Joab helping King David resolve an internal dispute between David the father and David the king. We use these examples to learn the Christian basis for, and approach to, mediation. The study is presented in two sessions. This session focuses on using the Scriptures (e.g., Christ’s teaching on seeking peace and Paul’s letters to the Romans and Galatians) to understand the city clerk’s successful mediation in Ephesus.
Well into his reign as king of Israel, Solomon worshiped God with great reverence. He wrote three thousand proverbs and a thousand and five songs for worship. He built a magnificent temple and dedicated it with worship and a classic prayer that could serve as devotional reading in most circumstances [1 Kings 8:22–54]. But by the end of his reign he had turned away from God, led astray by worshiping with several of his seven hundred wives and three hundred concubines.
Solomon respected and admired his father David and was humble toward the task of being king of Israel. Therefore, when he was presented an opportunity to ask anything from God, all he wanted was a wise and discerning heart to recognize right from wrong and govern effectively. God granted his request and, in addition, gave him extraordinary wealth and honor, so that “in your lifetime you will have no equal among kings” [1 Kings 3:13]. His determination to work close to God in order to govern Israel effectively was motivated by his respect and admiration for his father.
Most people likely will not seek to overturn a will of God that is identified specifically and clear to the human eye. But he often works differently, identifying his will to us through basic principles of human interaction that are discussed in various ways in the bible. For example, if you want something so much that you are willing to disregard parental or other established authority or procedure in order to satisfy your desire, you need to stop and think again because you could be seeking to overturn the will of God. He defined our relationship with parental authority through the 5th commandment [Exodus 20:12] and other established authority through Paul’s letter to the Romans [Romans 13:1–7]. Established procedures, at times referred to as due process, define how we should interact with the authority, such that circumventing an established procedure invariably implies disrespecting the authority.
Any blessing earned by a person remains effective until fulfilled at its time. Also, any incurred punishment, unless forgiven, remains effective until fulfilled at its time. Earned blessing and incurred punishment are parallel promises. There is no trade-off of one against the other.
We learn this through this week’s bible study on interactions between David and Bathsheba. King David had an affair with Bathsheba, Uriah’s wife, while Uriah was at the war front fighting for Israel. She became pregnant from the affair. David tried to cover up the affair, first by attempting to trick Uriah into sleeping with his wife. When he realized Uriah would not fall for the trick, David ordered that he be over-exposed at the war front so he would be killed by the enemy. The plot was successful. Uriah was killed in the battle. David married Bathsheba thereafter and she gave birth to a son from the affair. But God was not deceived.