murder

2 Samuel 3, Ezekiel 12

Today’s OT18 readings are 2 Samuel 3 and Ezekiel 12.

This devotional is about 2 Samuel 3.

David was a killer; a “man of blood” as some translations call him in 1 Chronicles 28:3. But look how horrified he was when Joab killled Abner here in 2 Samuel 3. He called on God to bring a perpetual curse on Joab’s family as a consequence of Joab’s sin (v. 29). He mourned the death of Abner, attending his funeral, crying for him, singing a lament for him (vv. 31-34), and fasting to demonstrate his mourning over Abner’s death (v. 35). Why would David, who killed so many people himself, be so horrified by the death of Abner?

The answer is that David’s killing was done in defense of his nation Israel. The Philistines, David’s most frequent opponent, were attacking Israel. Israel was not the aggressor in these situations; it was the victim of the aggression of its neighbors. While it is true that Israel attacked the nations living in Canaan, God made it clear that the command to attack them was not only to fulfill the Abrahamic covenant but also to punish these nations for their own sins (see Deut 9:5, 18:12). Just as God later used the Assyrians and Babylonians to judge Israel for her sins, he used the Israelites in the days of Joshua to punish the Canaanites for their sins. Having taken the land that God promised to them, Israel focused on settling and developing the promised land, not building an empire through never-ending attacks on other nations. War and the killing that it requires, the killing that David did, was done in defense, not because David was a bloodthirsty man.

Our nation’s leaders should consider the ethics of war. American foreign policy in the past few decades has involved attacking other nations that have not attacked us. While this might seem like a smart idea tactically, it is not morally justified. It is, in fact, murder on a large scale. There is a time for “just war” but the just ones in any war are those who are seeking to defend their people and property. Human life is sacred, as David’s response to Abner’s death demonstrates. Since it is sacred, one should never attack another nation or person. Neither you nor I should ever take another person’s life unless that person has attacked us first with potentially deadly force. David’s response to Joab’s murderous attack on Abner shows that he understood the difference between defeating an enemy who has attacked you and getting revenge on someone through murder.

For much more on this, here is an article to read and consider: http://americanvision.org/9926/bahnsen-war/ or you can listen to a radio interview here that covers many of the same points biblically: https://huffduffer.com/jonesay/345975

Exodus 1, Job 18, Psalm 49

Today we’re scheduled to read Exodus 1, Job 18, and Psalm 49.

This devotional is about Exodus 1.

Mary Doogan of Glasgow, Scotland recently retired after 30 years as a midwife. During her career, she helped women deliver 5000 babies. Her retirement, however, was not something she celebrated. It was forced by the hospital where she worked which required her and other midwives to supervise abortions. The hospital did not require her to perform the abortion, but it insisted that she supervise others who aborted unborn babies. As a practicing Catholic, Mary felt like supervising abortions made her as guilty as “the driver of the getaway car in an armed robbery.” Although Mary fought legally for the right to follow her conscience, she lost. Having exhausted every means of following her conscience and keeping her job, she felt she had no choice but to retire.

I heard about Mary’s story a few days ago and immediately thought of Exodus 1. While the midwives in Exodus were not forced to perform abortions, they were required to kill Jewish baby boys once they had been delivered. Pharaoh had political and national motives for requiring the midwives to do this. He was concerned that the population explosion among the Jews would cause them to overwhelm the Egyptians. (v. 10).

The midwives disobeyed Pharaoh’s orders. They “feared God and did not do what the king of Egypt had told them to do; they let the boys live.” Although they were dishonest in the reason they gave Pharaoh (v. 18), verse 20 told us that “God was kind to the midwives and the people increased and became even more numerous. And because the midwives feared God, he gave them families of their own.”

Was it wrong for the midwives to lie to Pharaoh? No. It is never wrong to use deception to stop someone’s evil plans. God’s blessing on the midwives shows that he was pleased by their moral choices. They did not use deception to take advantage of someone else for their own gain or to avoid accountability for their sin. Their deception was a sincere attempt to obey God rather than a human authority who was living in defiance to God’s moral laws for his own selfish, sinful purposes.

I hope you and I are never put in position where we are legally ordered to do something that is wrong. But, if we are, may we have the same faith these midwives had, obeying God and trusting him, instead of allowing fear to coerce us into doing wrong.

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-5373943/Catholic-midwife-ousted-refusing-oversee-abortions.html

2 Samuel 3, 1 Corinthians 14, Ezekiel 12, Psalm 51

If you’re following the schedule, you should read these chapters today: 2 Samuel 3, 1 Corinthians 14, Ezekiel 12, Psalm 51. Click on any of those references to see all the passages in one long page on BibleGateway. If you can't do all the readings today, read 2 Samuel 3.

David was a killer; a “man of blood” as some translations call him in 1 Chronicles 28:3. But look how horrified he was when Joab killed Abner here in 2 Samuel 3. David called on God to bring a perpetual curse on Joab’s family as a consequence of Joab’s sin (v. 29). He mourned the death of Abner, attending his funeral, crying for him, singing a lament for him (vv. 31-34), and fasting to demonstrate his horror over Abner’s unjust death (v. 35). Why would David, who killed so many people himself, be so horrified by the death of Abner? 

The answer is that David’s killing was done in defense of his nation Israel. The Philistines, David’s most frequent opponent, attacked Israel repeatedly. Israel was not the aggressor in these situations; it was the victim of the aggression of its neighbors. It is true that during Joshua's conquest Israel attacked the nations living in Canaan. However, God made it clear that the command to attack them was not only to fulfill his promise of this land to Abraham but also to punish these nations for their own sins (see Deut 9:5, 18:12). Just as God later used the Assyrians and Babylonians to judge Israel for her sins, he used the Israelites in the days of Joshua to punish the Canaanites for their sins. Having taken the land that God promised to them, Israel focused on settling and developing the promised land, not building an empire through never-ending attacks on other nations. War and the killing that it requires, the killing that David did, was done in defense, not because David was a bloodthirsty man.

Our nation’s leaders should consider the ethics of war. War is murderous unless it is done in self-defense to a direct attack. But American foreign policy in the past few decades has involved attacking other nations that have not attacked us. While this might seem like a smart idea tactically, it is not morally justified. It is, in fact, murder on a large scale. There is a time for “just war” but the "just" nation in any war is the one seeking to defend its people and property. Human life is sacred, as David’s response to Abner’s death demonstrates. Since human life  is sacred, one should never attack another nation or person; neither you nor I should ever take another person’s life unless that person has attacked us first with potentially deadly force. David’s response to Joab’s murderous attack on Abner shows that he understood the difference between defeating an enemy who has attacked you and getting revenge on someone through murder.

For much more on this, here is an article to read and consider: http://americanvision.org/9926/bahnsen-war/.  Or you can listen to a radio interview here that covers many of the same points biblically: https://huffduffer.com/jonesay/345975 

Now for your thoughts: What stood out in your Bible reading for today? What questions do you have about what you read? What are your thoughts about what I wrote above? Post them in the comments below or on our Facebook page. And, feel free to answer and interact with the questions and comments of others. Have a great day; we'll talk scripture again tomorrow.

Numbers 35, Psalm 79, Isaiah 27, 1 John 5

If you’re following the schedule, you should read these chapters today: Numbers 35, Psalm 79, Isaiah 27, 1 John 5. Click on any of those references to see all the passages in one long page on BibleGateway. If you can't do all the readings today, read Numbers 35.

Murder is one of the world’s oldest sins and, despite its antiquity, it remains as gruesome and painful for the survivors as it was when Cain killed Abel. Revenge is a natural reaction for the survivors of the one who was murdered, but sometimes people die due to accidents or negligence. What is the just response in these cases? On one hand, the family of the one who died is still deprived of his or her life, so does it really matter whether their loved one was killed intentionally or unintentionally?

God says yes, it does matter. He designated cities of refuge for those who killed someone unintentionally (vv. 6-13). This would keep the land of Israel from being dominated by violence and bloodshed anytime someone died under suspicious circumstances. But for those who committed murder—they killed because they intended to kill (v. 20: “with malice aforethought”)—the Bible prescribes capital punishment as the appropriate means of justice (v. 16b, 17b, 18b, 19b, 21b: “the murderer is to be put to death”). 

Although many Christians are proponents of capital punishment, too many of us miss the limits the Bible puts on it. Verse 30 of our text says, “Anyone who kills a person is to be put to death as a murderer only on the testimony of witnesses. But no one is to be put to death on the testimony of only one witness.” This is a very high standard of proof. Often there are no witnesses at all to murder. If one person witnessed the murder, Moses’ law did not permit him to be executed. A situation where two or more people witnessed a murder is highly unusual, yet that’s the standard of evidence the Old Testament law required before capital punishment could be administered. This is because human life is special; as people, we bear the image of God and have eternal souls. It is deeply evil to take another person’s life but to do it as punishment without a strong standard of proof is reckless and often unjust. The Innocence Project has exonerated many people who were unjustly executed or wrongly convicted of murder. This, as well as today’s passage here in Numbers 35, should teach us that capital punishment needs to be reformed here in America. While I believe that modern evidence like DNA matching or video surveillance can and should replace the standard 2 or more eyewitnesses required in this passage, the point of the eyewitnesses was to establish absolute proof of guilt before taking a man’s life. If you support the death penalty from biblical conviction—and I do—your biblical conviction should also insist that anyone who is executed must have been convicted based on near certainty, not just “beyond a reasonable doubt.” To take an innocent human life in punishment is just as murderous and evil in God’s sight as first degree murder is.

Now for your thoughts: What stood out in your Bible reading for today? What questions do you have about what you read? What are your thoughts about what I wrote above? Post them in the comments below or on our Facebook page. And, feel free to answer and interact with the questions and comments of others. Have a great day; we'll talk scripture again tomorrow.