Forgiveness, Hell, Justice, Old Testament, Salvation, Sin, Sunday School

Follow Up Week ~ Sunday School Lesson ~ 6-1-14

sunday school

These are my notes from my ladies’ Sunday School class this morning. I’ll be posting the notes from my class here each week. Click here for last week’s lesson.

Through the Bible in 2014 ~ Week 22 ~ May 25-31
Psalm 131, 138-139, 143-145, 127, 111-118, 37, 71-72, 94, 119:1-88; 1 Chronicles 26-29; 1 Kings 1-4; 2 Chronicles 1

Follow Up Week

Last week, we had a lot of great questions that I didn’t feel we had the opportunity to discuss thoroughly enough. This week we’re going to take an in depth look at three of those questions.

Follow Up: Zeruiah
Last week, we saw David repeatedly refer to Joab and Abishai as “sons of Zeruiah,” and a question arose as to what he meant by that. Was it an insult? An identifier? Here, briefly, is some clarifying information:

Zeruiah was David’s sister (1 Chronicles 2:15-16). Her sons were Abishai– one of the chiefs of David’s mighty men (1 Chronicles 11:20), Joab– commander of  David’s army, and Asahel (Asahel was murdered by Abner, commander of Saul’s army (2 Samuel 2:8), at the battle of Gibeon (2 Samuel 2:18-24). Abishai and Joab later took revenge on Abner for killing their brother (2 Samuel 3:24-30).)



Abishai, Joab, and Asahel were brothers and also David’s nephews. Therefore, calling them “sons of Zeruiah” may have had one of several meanings:

1. “Sons of Zeruiah” was just another way of saying “my nephews.” It is possible that this was to distinguish them from other men close to David who had the same names. (For example, in this week’s reading, we saw a man named Shimei (1 Kings 1:8, 4:18) who was a different person from the Shimei we studied about last week.) Adding such an identifier to someone’s name was common in biblical times before surnames were in general use (eg. Joshua son of Nun, Joseph of Arimathea, Jesus of Nazareth, etc.)

2. It is possible David had a close relationship with Zeruiah and had great respect for her. Perhaps when David called his nephews “sons of Zeruiah” he was reminding them to live up to their mother’s good character.

3. It is possible David had a contentious relationship with his sister and had little respect for her. Perhaps when David called his nephews “sonsof Zeruiah” when annoyed with them, he was implicitly saying, “What else can you expect when they had a mother like that?”

Since the Bible provides very little information on Zeruiah, we can’t definitively say why David would use this phrase; we can only speculate. Click here for more information on Zeruiah.


scales of justice

Follow Up: Shimei, David, and Solomon
Last week, we studied the story of Shemei cursing David, and David’s subsequent sparing of his life (2 Samuel 16, 19). This week, we saw the death of David and Solomon’s accession to the throne (1 Kings 1-2). We also saw David, from his deathbed, give instructions to Solomon regarding Shimei, and we saw how Solomon carried them out (1 Kings 2). Was David sinning by going back on his word to Shimei? Let’s take a look.

Two Different Justice Systems
In order to understand the dynamics of the situation between Shimei and David and Shimei and Solomon, we first have to step outside our 21st century United States understanding of “the justice system” and step back in time into the Old Testament monarchial justice system.

The American System:
In the American justice system, justice supersedes leadership and is a separate entity from leadership. We have the judicial branch of government (courts, judges, jails, lawyers, etc.) and the executive branch of government (the President, state governors, etc.). They each have their own powers and responsibilities, and, for the most part, are separate from, and not dependent on, one another. For example, if someone is acquitted of a crime during one person’s presidency, he cannot later be convicted of that same crime solely because someone else becomes President and thinks he should be convicted. (Obviously, there are exceptions and corruptions to this system, but, generally speaking, in a nutshell, this is how it is supposed to work.)

Old Testament Israel’s System: 
In Israel (and other monarchial or dictatorial nations), there was no separation of powers. Legislative (making the laws), judicial, and executive powers all resided in one man: the king. And, the rules could change every time a new king took over. Your verdict, conviction, and sentence lasted only as long as the reign of the king who handed them down unless the next king chose to honor those decisions. This is one of the reasons the death penalty and maiming (cutting off someone’s had for stealing, for example) were more prevalent during those times. If you were the king and wanted to make sure someone was punished long term and that your verdict would not be overturned, death or maiming were your main options.

Shimei’s Sentence (1 Kings 2:8-9, 2 Samuel 19:23, 1 Kings 2:36-46)
As we saw in this week’s reading in 1 Kings 2:8-9, David did not put Shimei to death himself or during his own reign. Additionally, because of the way Israel’s justice system worked, it would have been impossible for David to swear to Shimei that he would never be put to death, because David had no control over what the next king would do. David’s oath was only good for the duration of his own reign. Thus, he did not break the oath he made to Shimei in 2 Samuel 19:23.

David did, however, take full advantage of Israel’s system of justice, the fact that Solomon had made no such oath to Shimei and the fact that Solomon was his son and would be likely to do as he asked. In 1 Kings 2:8-9, David didn’t come right out and tell Solomon to execute Shimei, but he hinted pretty strongly at it.

Solomon, perhaps wishing to honor the spirit of David’s oath to Shimei in 2 Samuel 19, while still carrying out David’s desire in 1 Kings 2 that Shimei be punished, did not condemn Shimei to immediate death, but, rather, put him under “house arrest” (1 Kings 2:36-37). Shimei could not leave Jerusalem or he would be executed, but as long as he stayed in Jerusalem, he was free to live his life as he wished. Shimei agreed to this (2:38) and made an oath to the Lord that he would obey (2:43). Shimei could have lived out the rest of his life peacefully in Jerusalem if he had just abided by the rules of his sentence. He broke the rules; he knew the consequences (2:39-46).



Follow Up: Can a Christian be forgiven for a sin he commits on his deathbed and doesn’t have the opportunity to repent for before dying? Will he go to hell for this? 
This question arose last week as we briefly touched on David’s deathbed instructions to Solomon regarding Shimei. Although it doesn’t appear that David was actually sinning in that particular case, this question is a very good one that I wanted to address more fully because it has application for all of us since we all sin and will all die one day. In order to answer this question, we need to take a look at several things regarding sin, forgiveness, and salvation.

The soteriology of the question (John 10:26-29, Romans 8:1-2, 33-39, 1 John 2:1-2) 
Soteriology is the field of theological study that deals with salvation: what it is, what it isn’t, and how it happens. We know that in order for a person to be saved and spend eternity in Heaven he must turn from his sin (repent), and place his faith in the death, burial, and resurrection of Christ on his behalf as payment for his sin.

John tells us that, for those who have truly been born again, no one is able to snatch them out of Christ’s or the Father’s hand. This includes Satan. Romans tells us (8:33-34) no one has the authority to condemn or to bring charges against God’s elect, because God is the one who has justified them and He has already said there is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus (8:1-2). Satan no longer has the authority even if we sin, to drag us off to hell, and God has promised that he will not condemn us to hell if we are in Christ. And if/when we do sin, 1 John tells us that Christ has already stepped in between us and the wrath of God as our advocate, offering His righteousness on our behalf.

Bottom line: If you have truly been born again, God’s got you and there’s not anyone or anything that has the authority to change that.

The hamartiology of the question (Hebrews 10:11-14): 
Hamartiology is the study of sin. We sin before we’re Christians. We sin after we’re Christians. We will never be completely free from temptation and the effects of sin this side of Heaven. The truth is, unless you are capable of knowing every single sin in your life (Remember all those sins you committed when you were three? Neither do I.) and you die immediately after repenting of the last one, you’re going to die with unconfessed sin in your life. That’s pretty much every Christian. We sin so much that there are sins we don’t even realize or remember we’ve committed. How can you repent of something you’re not even aware of? So, no, a true Christian will not go to hell for failing to repent of an individual sin committed right before death.

As the old hymn says, “Jesus paid it ALL.” Hebrews tells us that Jesus died “once for all”– one time to pay for all sin, from the creation of the world until its destruction at the end of time. When we come to Christ for salvation, while we may repent of individual sins that are heavy on our hearts, what we are really doing is confessing that we are, and repenting for being, a sinner. If we had to repent of every individual sin no one could ever be saved because no one could remember all the sins he’s ever committed. For those who are in Christ, every sin in our entire lives, from birth to death, is forgiven.

Daily repentance and forgiveness:
So, if the sins we have forgotten about, and the sins we aren’t aware of, and the sins we don’t have a chance to repent for before dying are all forgiven anyway, why is any other sin any different? Why do we need to repent of our sin and ask for forgiveness every day when we pray?

Obedience (Matthew 6:12):
We do it out of obedience. Jesus tells us in the Lord’s Prayer to daily ask God to forgive us for sinning. So, we do.

Awareness and thankfulness (Psalm 32:1-2)
When we spend time in prayer daily repenting of our sin it reminds us of the greatness of God and His grace in forgiving our sin. It humbles us by reminding us of the great cost of our sin. It reassures us of God’s love and mercy towards us. It gives us an opportunity to give Him praise and thanks for forgiving us.

Restored relationship (1 John 1:6-9)
When we have unconfessed sin in our lives, it creates a rift (of our own making) between us and God. When we confess our sin to God and ask Him to cleanse us from it, that sin is no longer a hindrance to clean, unfettered communion with God.

If we say we have fellowship with him while we walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth. But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin. If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

Gospel, Old Testament, Salvation, Sin, Sunday School, Types and Shadows

Boldly Approaching the Throne: Shimei ~ Sunday School Lesson ~ 5-25-14

sunday school

These are my notes from my ladies’ Sunday School class this morning. I’ll be posting the notes from my class here each week. Click here for last week’s lesson.

Through the Bible in 2014 ~ Week 21 ~ May 18-24
1 Chronicles 21-22, 2 Samuel 19-24, Psalm 26, 40-42, 57-58, 61-62, 64, 5, 38, 95, 97-99, 30, 108-110
Boldly Approaching the Throne: Shimei

As we read last week in 2 Samuel 12, while David repented of his sin with Bathsheba and God forgave him and did not punish him with death, there were still many consequences that naturally followed as a result of his sin. God said to David in 12:11, “Behold, I will raise up evil against you out of your own house.” We have seen that vividly fulfilled through the actions of two of his sons: Amnon, who raped his sister Tamar, and Absalom, who murdered Amnon and then attempted a coup. In chapters 13-19, we saw Absalom endear himself to the people and begin trying to take David’s throne by force. David gathered those who were loyal to him and fled Jerusalem. Finally, Joab, commander of the army, killed Absalom, and David returned to Jerusalem and was restored to the kingship. Today, we are taking a look at Shimei, the two very different ways he approached the throne (David), and the types and shadows in his story that show us Jesus and ourselves.

2 Samuel 16:5-13

The First Bold Approach: Curses!
Shimei was a member of Saul’s extended family. Even though Saul had repented to David a few times, he was ultimately David’s enemy. Saul had tried to murder David several times, and David had spent years on the run from him. Shemei took this family enmity upon himself and also considered David to be an enemy of Israel since David had taken Saul’s place as king, and because of the sins Shemei perceived David to have committed.

Notice that, while some of the things Shemei said were swearing-294391_640 (1)accurate [“you are a man of blood” (7-8- God Himself had said this. It was the reason He gave for David not building the temple. But God was referring to David being a warrior, not a murderer, as Shemei implied.), “the Lord has avenged you” (8- probably referring to the deaths of Abner, Ishbosheth, and Uriah- we know that what was happening was due to the Bathsheba incident), and “the Lord has given the kingdom into the hand of your son Absalom” (8- they didn’t yet know that this was only true temporarily)], the way and context in which he said these things was twisted, and didn’t correctly represent everything that had happened.

It’s not a coincidence that Shimei was throwing rocks at David and his men (sometimes you’re in danger just because of who you’re hanging around with!), nor were the rocks primarily a weapon of convenience. David was guilty of adultery and murder. What was the penalty for these crimes? Death. How was it usually carried out? Stoning.

Shemei only spoke and acted only from his own viewpoint and opinions. Though he claimed to understand what God was doing with David, Shimei did not know God and never brought out what God had said in His word about David rightfully being king, or God’s forgiveness, or God’s rejection of Saul. In Shemei’s eyes, he was right and David was wrong. As a result, he rejected and rebelled against David. It was treason– a crime, ironically, worthy of the death penalty.

Son of David
Can you think of another King, established by God, who was rejected and cursed by His enemies–enemies who thought they knew what God was really up to? How about Jesus? Let’s take a look at some of the things in this story that foreshadow the life of Christ.

v.5- Who’s your daddy? (John 8:44)
Shimei was of the house of the enemy, Saul, who had tried numerous times to murder David. When the Pharisees were plotting to kill Jesus, He said to them, “You are of your father the devil, and your will is to do your father’s desires. He was a murderer from the beginning,”

v. 5-8- Haters gonna hate (Isaiah 53:3, Matthew 27:38-44)
Shemei cursed David continually and leveled false and twisted accusations against David. Isaiah tells us, Jesus “was despised and rejected by men.” We see throughout the gospels that the Pharisees ignored what Scripture said about the Messiah and falsely accused Jesus of things like breaking the Sabbath, breaking Levitical laws (such as touching lepers and dead bodies), and blasphemy (claiming to be God). Finally, at the cross, we see them (much like Shimei did to David) hurling abuse at Jesus.

v. 6-
Shemei attempted to execute David for a capital crime. The Pharisees, via the Roman government, executed Jesus for a capital crime (blasphemy). Interesting fact: if it had not been against Roman law for the Jews to execute criminals themselves, Jesus would have been executed by stoning. The important difference to remember here between David and Jesus is that David was guilty. Jesus was not.

fog-258224_640Left and Right (Luke 23:33, John 15:18-20)
Shimei was not just trying to execute David, but also the criminals (in his eyes – guilty by association) on his right and on his left. Jesus was executed between two criminals, “one on His right, and one on his left.

We can also look at David’s mighty men as Jesus’ disciples, and, by extension, us. As I mentioned earlier, sometimes you can be in danger just because of who you hang out with, and Jesus made this clear in John 15. He said that if the world hates us or persecutes us to remember that it is because of Him.

v.9-10- Off with his head (John 18:10)
Abishai wanted to take off the head of David’s enemy. Peter, less of a swordsman than Abishai, I’m sure, attempted to take off the head of one of Jesus’ enemies. Neither David nor Jesus allowed his enemy to be beheaded.

v. 10-11- God’s will (Isaiah 53:10, Matthew 26:39, Galatians 3:13)
David wasn’t sure whether or not God was cursing him through Shimei. Jesus knew “it was the will of the Lord to crush him; he has put him to grief.” When Jesus asked in the garden for God to “let this cup pass” from Him, God said no. “Cursed is everyone who hangs on a tree,” Galatians tells us. It was God’s will for Christ to be cursed for us.

v. 12- The reward (Philippians 2:8-10)
David hoped God (lit.) “will look upon my affliction” and repay him with good for this cursing. God did repay Jesus with good for being cursed on the tree of Calvary for our sake:

And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

v. 13- Forbearance (Isaiah 53:7)
David did not retaliate or even speak to Shimei, but bore his cursing patiently as he walked along the road. Jesus did the same with those who lashed out at Him as He walked the road to the cross:

“He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth; like a lamb that is led to the slaughter, and like a sheep that before its shearers is silent, so he opened not his mouth.”

v.14- Crossing over Jordan (Luke 23:43)
The Jordan River was the last hurdle the Israelites had to conquer before entering the Promised Land. “Crossing over Jordan” is often used as a metaphor in songs (especially spirituals, e.g. “Wayfaring Stranger”) for dying. After David’s “near death experience” he wearily came to the Jordan and refreshed himself. King Jesus reached the “Jordan” weary from the cross, and “refreshed Himself” later that day in Paradise.

She-you, She-me, Shemei
If David represents Jesus in this story, who does Shimei represent? Us. Before we were saved, we were Shemei, born into the house of the enemy. We only saw things from our own sinful perspective. Even though we might have thought we had this God thing all figured out, we didn’t know Him and were unable to see or understand His ways. While we might not ever have literally said anything bad about the Lord as Shimei did with David, our sin rained curses down on Christ and made false accusations against Him. We lived our lives in rebellion against, and rejection of, the King. It was treason– a crime worthy of the eternal death penalty. But Jesus, in His kindness, mercy, and grace, bore it patiently and did not strike back at us.

2 Samuel 19:16-17a, 18b-23

The Second Bold Approach: Taking His Life in His Hands
The first time Shimei approached David, it was in arrogance and self-righteousness. This time, he humbles himself. The first time he approached David, Shimei didn’t see him as king. This time, Shimei knows David is the king. Shimei knows all about a king’s power, the power over life and death. Shimei isn’t throwing stones now; he’s throwing himself at David’s feet. He isn’t cursing; he’s repenting. Pleading, even. “Please don’t hold me guilty. Please don’t take what I did and said to heart.” He’s no longer accusing David of sin, he’s confessing and taking responsibility for his own sin without making excuses. All he can hope for is David’s mercy.

Abishai is right in wanting to put Shimei to death. He deserves it. The law demands it. Abishai knows it. David knows it. Shimei knows it. But even though Shimei– the one worthy of death—had tried to kill David (whom God had said would not die 12:13)—David extends mercy, grace, and pardon to him. David knows he’s king and knows the extent of his power, and he uses that power to forgive.

David and Shimei, Jesus and Me
As with Shimei, God awakens us to the fact that we have sinned against an all powerful King, the holy God of the universe. Now we know He’s the King. We know about God’s power—the power over life and death, and eternal life and death. Instead of approaching Him in arrogance and self-prayerrighteousness as Shimei did with David at first, we humble ourselves. We throw ourselves at Christ’s feet in repentance. “Please don’t hold me guilty. Please don’t take what I did and said to heart.” We confess our sin and take responsibility for it with no excuses. All we can hope for is Christ’s mercy. We deserve death. God’s law demands it. We know it, and God knows it. But even though we—the ones worthy of death—put Jesus on the cross with our sin, He extends mercy, grace, and pardon to us. Jesus knows He’s the King and knows the extent of His power, and He uses that power to forgive.