Good Deeds, Harsh Words
Sovereign Lord, where there is war and strife in the world today, I pray that You will spread Your peace.
Read 2 SAMUEL 19:31-43
 Barzillai the Gileadite also came down from Rogelim to cross the Jordan with the king and to send him on his way from there.  Now Barzillai was a very old man, eighty years of age. He had provided for the king during his stay in Mahanaim, for he was a very wealthy man.  The king said to Barzillai, “Cross over with me and stay with me in Jerusalem, and I will provide for you.”  But Barzillai answered the king, “How many more years will I live, that I should go up to Jerusalem with the king?  I am now eighty years old. Can I tell the difference between what is good and what is not? Can your servant taste what he eats and drinks? Can I still hear the voices of men and women singers? Why should your servant be an added burden to my lord the king?  Your servant will cross over the Jordan with the king for a short distance, but why should the king reward me in this way?  Let your servant return, that I may die in my own town near the tomb of my father and mother. But here is your servant Kimham. Let him cross over with my lord the king. Do for him whatever pleases you.”  The king said, “Kimham shall cross over with me, and I will do for him whatever pleases you. And anything you desire from me I will do for you.”  So all the people crossed the Jordan, and then the king crossed over. The king kissed Barzillai and gave him his blessing, and Barzillai returned to his home.  When the king crossed over to Gilgal, Kimham crossed with him. All the troops of Judah and half the troops of Israel had taken the king over.  Soon all the men of Israel were coming to the king and saying to him, “Why did our brothers, the men of Judah, steal the king away and bring him and his household across the Jordan, together with all his men?”  All the men of Judah answered the men of Israel, “We did this because the king is closely related to us. Why are you angry about it? Have we eaten any of the king’s provisions? Have we taken anything for ourselves?”  Then the men of Israel answered the men of Judah, “We have ten shares in the king; and besides, we have a greater claim on David than you have. So why do you treat us with contempt? Were we not the first to speak of bringing back our king?” But the men of Judah responded even more harshly than the men of Israel. Scripture taken from the Holy Bible, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 International Bible Society. All rights reserved throughout the world. Used by permission of International Bible Society.
ReflectWhat conflict do you see brewing here?
Sharing fellowship with other Christians in our church is a beautiful thing. It is also a hard one. Sharing our lives with others is never easy. Noble aims and loving ideals soon clash with the reality of stubbornness, selfishness, jealousy and rivalryﾗand the others aren’t perfect either! As David seeks to reunite his kingdom after the rebellion, acting generously and rewarding faithfulness (31-39; see also 17:27-29), the people find it hard to pull together.
The petty arguments used by the men of Israel and Judah would be laughable if they were not so destructive. Yet, the same things lie behind the disunity of so much of the Church today: claims that one group is acting in an underhand manner (41), arguing about who is more in the right (42,43) and the desire to be the ones who shine. Paul reminds us that being right is not the final test of a people in touch with God: “Love does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud ﾅ it is not self-seeking ﾅ it keeps no record of wrongs” (1 Cor. 13:4, 5). Whether between tribes of Israel, Christian groups or individuals, these are important principles for living as the people of God.
Are my “rights” stopping me treating others lovingly? How can I impede, or can facilitate, great unity in my church?
Lord Jesus, I know You desire unity and love among Your followers. May I be one who always promotes that.
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