“Power is when we have every justification to kill, and we don’t,” Oskar Schindler described to Amon Goeth in the movie Schindler’s List.
“You think that’s power?” the hardened Jewish labor camp commandante asked.
“That’s what the Emperor said,” Schindler answered back. “A man steals something, he’s brought in before the Emperor, he throws himself down on the ground. He begs for his life, he knows he’s going to die. And the Emperor…pardons him. This worthless man, he lets him go.”
“I think you are drunk.”
“That’s power, Amon. That is power.”
Join me today as we take a closer look at real power.
INSIGHTS AND EXPLANATIONS
1 Chronicles 19:1-21:30. Chapter 19 parallels 2 Samuel 10, chapter 20 parallels 2 Samuel 11, 12:15-22, and chapter 21 parallels 2 Samuel 24.
During this period of David’s life, the Chronicler retells the stories of David’s successes, but overlooks David’s shortcomings. At this point in David’s reign, he committed adultery with Bathsheba and strategized Uriah’s death. However, this sordid story is ignored.
How should we respond to this? We must remember that the Chronicles were written as a commentary on causes behind Israel’s successes and failures. Because David owned up to his sin and repented, it didn’t directly cause the kingdom to fall. It faltered, but it didn’t fall.
However, when it comes to the census, the Chronicler does reveal David’s poor judgment—and it definitely affected the kingdom of Israel. Scholars believe the reason this story is also included is because it explains the background of the location of the temple.
So why was it wrong for David to take a census? Scholars aren’t sure, but the New Bible Commentary speculates:
Perhaps as this one was a military list, David’s motives were wrong. Chronicles often makes the point that Israel’s real security lay in trust in its God, not in the size of its army (e.g. 2 Chronicles 14:11; 16:8).
Scholars also explain that Araunah, whose land is used for the site of the tabernacle, wasn’t even an Israelite. He was a Jebusite who lived in Jerusalem. Although likely a pagan, he recognized God’s hand on David and Israel, as well as the presence of the death angel. Consider this: the temple of Yahweh was located on land previously owned by a pagan gentile as the result of King David’s sin.
What does this mean?
I’d be curious to read your responses, but this fact tells me the foundation of God’s work in the world was (and still is) to reach the whole world, not just insiders. Also, it tells me that God is in the business of redeeming our sin.
Romans 2:25-3:8. Continuing his assault on the sensibilities of every good, religious person, Paul now sets his sights on circumcision. Circumcision singled out every good Jew from the run-of-the-mill Gentile. Paul then says in Romans 2:29, “A man is a Jew if he is one inwardly; and circumcision is circumcision of the heart, by the Spirit, not by the written code.”
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THE CONVERSATION CONTINUES
If you haven’t joined the conversation, it isn’t too late to start. Over the last couple of weeks, we’ve had some great conversations about our daily readings. If you’re interested, either contribute to today’s conversation or check out the last ten days’ postings—or both!
THE WORD MADE FRESH
As I mentioned last weekend, every year my wife and I spend a week on a houseboat on Lake Powell with another couple and members of their family. One night on the boat last week, the husband and I reflected on a common experience that had been equally painful to both of us.
Suddenly, I felt some unexpected energy rise up within me. Wow—I’m still angry about the offense, I reflected to myself.
So, reading through Proverbs 19:11 today sent me deeper into reflection:
A man’s wisdom gives him patience;
it is to his glory to overlook an offense.
It is to my glory to overlook an offense!
Interestingly enough, throughout Scripture we read that God deserves (and requires) all our glory. But if we want to look like God—if we want a taste of his glory—we’ll overlook an offense.
So how do we do this? The keyword in that last phrase is “overlook.” When I overlook something, I act as if I’d never seen it. In the context of forgiveness, it means treating the offending party as if they’d never committed a trespass.
But deeper still, overlooking an offense must mean more than just glossing over an offense. It means living as if the offense had never occurred. It even goes so far as treating the offending party the same way as before.
This is why overlooking an offense is our glory: God overlooks our offenses in the same way. He loves us after our offense against him the same as before. He treats us the same as before. He accepts us the same way as before. When we yield our lives to God through his son Jesus and confess our need for his all-forgiving pardon, he pardons us.
Do you want a share in God’s glory? Then overlook your offenses.
- What spoke to you in today’s reading?
- What significance do you find in knowing that the temple was constructed on land previously owned by a pagan Gentile and resulting from King David’s sin?
- What offenses are hard for you to overlook? Why?
- What offenses have you committed that you’re thankful God has chosen to overlook?
- What does this tell you about God?
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Michael co-pastors The Neighborhood Church with Eugene Scott in Littleton, Colorado.