188. OPPORTUNITY TO REJOICE OR A REASON TO TREMBLE?
(The Information & Edification Series – Batch 4)
Today, I read Obadiah, a one chapter book in the Bible and some verses there reminded me of some other scriptures in the Bible along a similar theme. Let’s take a look at these scriptures:
In Jeremiah 50: 6-13 and 51:1-6, through his Prophet, God spoke of the Israelites, his special chosen people and of their enemies the Babylonians and Chaldeans. He stated:
- “My people hath been lost sheep: their shepherds have caused them to go astray, they have turned them away on the mountains: they have gone from mountain to hill, they have forgotten their restingplace. ALL THAT FOUND THEM HAVE DEVOURED THEM: AND THEIR ADVERSARIES SAID, WE OFFEND NOT, BECAUSE THEY HAVE SINNED AGAINST THE LORD, THE HABITATION OF JUSTICE, EVEN THE LORD, THE HOPE OF THEIR FATHERS.
- Remove out of the midst of Babylon, and go forth out of the land of the Chaldeans, and be as the he goats before the flocks. For, lo, I will raise and cause to come up against Babylon an assembly of great nations from the north country: and they shall set themselves in array against her; from thence she shall be taken: their arrows shall be as of a mighty expert man; none shall return in vain. And Chaldea shall be a spoil: all that spoil her shall be satisfied, saith the Lord. BECAUSE YE WERE GLAD, BECAUSE YE REJOICED, O YE DESTROYERS OF MINE HERITAGE, because ye are grown fat as the heifer at grass, and bellow as bulls;
- Your mother shall be sore confounded; she that bare you shall be ashamed: behold, the hindermost of the nations shall be a wilderness, a dry land, and a desert. Because of the wrath of the Lord it shall not be inhabited, but it shall be wholly desolate: every one that goeth by Babylon shall be astonished, and hiss at all her plagues…
- Thus saith the Lord; Behold, I will raise up against Babylon, and against them that dwell in the midst of them that rise up against me, a destroying wind; And will send unto Babylon fanners, that shall fan her, and shall empty her land: for in the day of trouble they shall be against her round about. Against him that bendeth let the archer bend his bow, and against him that lifteth himself up in his brigandine: and spare ye not her young men; destroy ye utterly all her host. Thus the slain shall fall in the land of the Chaldeans, and they that are thrust through in her streets. FOR ISRAEL HATH NOT BEEN FORSAKEN, NOR JUDAH OF HIS GOD, OF THE LORD OF HOSTS; THOUGH THEIR LAND WAS FILLED WITH SIN AGAINST THE HOLY ONE OF ISRAEL. Flee out of the midst of Babylon, and deliver every man his soul: be not cut off in her iniquity; FOR THIS IS THE TIME OF THE LORD’S VENGEANCE; HE WILL RENDER UNTO HER A RECOMPENCE.”
In Zechariah 1:14-17, another of God’s Prophets, in speaking of the Word of the Lord that came to him, stated:
- “Then the angel of the Lord answered and said, O Lord of hosts, how long wilt thou not have mercy on Jerusalem and on the cities of Judah, against which thou hast had indignation these threescore and ten years? And the Lord answered the angel that talked with me with good words and comfortable words. So the angel that communed with me said unto me, Cry thou, saying, THUS SAITH THE LORD OF HOSTS; I AM JEALOUS FOR JERUSALEM AND FOR ZION WITH A GREAT JEALOUSY. AND I AM VERY SORE DISPLEASED WITH THE HEATHEN THAT ARE AT EASE; FOR I WAS BUT A LITTLE DISPLEASED, AND THEY HELPED FORWARD THE AFFLICTION. THEREFORE THUS SAITH THE LORD; I AM RETURNED TO JERUSALEM WITH MERCIES: MY HOUSE SHALL BE BUILT IN IT, SAITH THE LORD OF HOSTS, A LINE SHALL BE STRETCHED FORTH UPON JERUSALEM. Cry yet, saying, Thus saith the Lord of hosts; My cities through prosperity shall YET be spread abroad; and the Lord shall YET comfort Zion, and shall YET choose Jerusalem.”
In Micah 7:7-11, Micah stated:
- “Therefore I will look unto the Lord; I will wait for the God of my salvation: my God will hear me. REJOICE NOT AGAINST ME, O MINE ENEMY: WHEN I FALL, I SHALL ARISE; WHEN I SIT IN DARKNESS, THE LORD SHALL BE A LIGHT UNTO ME. I WILL BEAR THE INDIGNATION OF THE LORD, BECAUSE I HAVE SINNED AGAINST HIM, UNTIL HE PLEAD MY CAUSE, AND EXECUTE JUDGMENT FOR ME: HE WILL BRING ME FORTH TO THE LIGHT, AND I SHALL BEHOLD HIS RIGHTEOUSNESS.
- THEN SHE THAT IS MINE ENEMY SHALL SEE IT, AND SHAME SHALL COVER HER WHICH SAID UNTO ME, WHERE IS THE LORD THY GOD? mine eyes shall behold her: now shall she be trodden down as the mire of the streets. In the day that thy walls are to be built, in that day shall the decree be far removed.”
In Jeremiah 30:10-18, God also stated through his Prophet:
- “THEREFORE FEAR THOU NOT, O MY SERVANT JACOB, SAITH THE LORD; NEITHER BE DISMAYED, O ISRAEL: FOR LO, I WILL SAVE THEE FROM AFAR, AND THY SEED FROM THE LAND OF THEIR CAPTIVITY; AND JACOB SHALL RETURN, AND SHALL BE IN REST, AND BE QUIET, AND NONE SHALL MAKE HIM AFRAID. For I am with thee, saith the Lord, to save thee: though I make a full end of all nations whither I have scattered thee, yet I will not make a full end of thee: BUT I WILL CORRECT THEE IN MEASURE, AND WILL NOT LEAVE THEE ALTOGETHER UNPUNISHED.
- For thus saith the Lord, Thy bruise is incurable, and thy wound is grievous.There is none to plead thy cause, that thou mayest be bound up: thou hast no healing medicines. All thy lovers have forgotten thee; they seek thee not; FOR I HAVE WOUNDED THEE WITH THE WOUND OF AN ENEMY, WITH THE CHASTISEMENT OF A CRUEL ONE, FOR THE MULTITUDE OF THINE INIQUITY; BECAUSE THY SINS WERE INCREASED. Why criest thou for thine affliction? thy sorrow is incurable for the multitude of thine iniquity: because thy sins were increased, I have done these things unto thee.
- THEREFORE ALL THEY THAT DEVOUR THEE SHALL BE DEVOURED; AND ALL THINE ADVERSARIES, EVERY ONE OF THEM, SHALL GO INTO CAPTIVITY; AND THEY THAT SPOIL THEE SHALL BE A SPOIL, AND ALL THAT PREY UPON THEE WILL I GIVE A PREY. FOR I WILL RESTORE HEALTH UNTO THEE, AND I WILL HEAL THEE OF THY WOUNDS, SAITH THE LORD; BECAUSE THEY CALLED THEE AN OUTCAST, SAYING, THIS IS ZION, WHOM NO MAN SEEKETH AFTER.
- Thus saith the Lord; Behold, I will bring again the captivity of Jacob’s tents, and have mercy on his dwellingplaces; and the city SHALL be builded upon her own heap, and the palace SHALL remain after the manner thereof.”
In Ezekiel 35:1-15, God spoke through his Prophet of the people of Mount Seir, who hated and were envious of God’s people the Israelites and had come to the conclusion that God had abandoned them. They, seeing the Israelites in their vulnerability, saw an opportunity to destroy and have a field day with them and so, believing that they had licence to do and speak as they pleased, they moved in literally for the kill. Yet, they had a rude awakening coming because those Israelites were still God’s people! He took all that they had said and done against the children of Israel PERSONALLY and planned to take vengeance. He stated:
- “BEHOLD, O MOUNT SEIR, I AM AGAINST THEE, AND I WILL STRETCH OUT MINE HAND AGAINST THEE, AND I WILL MAKE THEE MOST DESOLATE. I WILL LAY THY CITIES WASTE, AND THOU SHALT BE DESOLATE, AND THOU SHALT KNOW THAT I AM THE LORD. BECAUSE THOU HAST HAD A PERPETUAL HATRED, AND HAST SHED THE BLOOD OF THE CHILDREN OF ISRAEL BY THE FORCE OF THE SWORD IN THE TIME OF THEIR CALAMITY, IN THE TIME THAT THEIR INIQUITY HAD AN END:
- THEREFORE, AS I LIVE, SAITH THE LORD GOD, I WILL PREPARE THEE UNTO BLOOD, AND BLOOD SHALL PURSUE THEE: Since thou hast not hated blood, even blood shall pursue thee. Thus will I make mount Seir most desolate, and cut off from it him that passeth out and him that returneth. And I will fill his mountains with his slain men: in thy hills, and in thy valleys, and in all thy rivers, shall they fall that are slain with the sword. I will make thee perpetual desolations, and thy cities shall not return: and ye shall know that I am the Lord. BECAUSE THOU HAST SAID, THESE TWO NATIONS AND THESE TWO COUNTRIES SHALL BE MINE, AND WE WILL POSSESS IT; WHEREAS THE LORD WAS THERE:
- THEREFORE, AS I LIVE, SAITH THE LORD GOD, I WILL EVEN DO ACCORDING TO THINE ANGER, AND ACCORDING TO THINE ENVY WHICH THOU HAST USED OUT OF THY HATRED AGAINST THEM; and I will make myself known among them, when I have judged thee. AND THOU SHALT KNOW THAT I AM THE LORD, AND THAT I HAVE HEARD ALL THY BLASPHEMIES WHICH THOU HAST SPOKEN AGAINST THE MOUNTAINS OF ISRAEL, SAYING, THEY ARE LAID DESOLATE, THEY ARE GIVEN US TO CONSUME. THUS WITH YOUR MOUTH YE HAVE BOASTED AGAINST ME, AND MULTIPLIED YOUR WORDS AGAINST ME: I HAVE HEARD THEM.
- Thus saith the Lord God; When the whole earth rejoiceth, I will make thee desolate. AS THOU DIDST REJOICE AT THE INHERITANCE OF THE HOUSE OF ISRAEL, BECAUSE IT WAS DESOLATE, SO WILL I DO UNTO THEE: THOU SHALT DE DESOLATE, O MOUNT SEIR, AND ALL IDUMEA, EVEN ALL OF IT: and they shall KNOW that I am the Lord.”
In Ezekiel 36: 2-11, God further told his children the Israelites, through his Prophet:
- Thus saith the Lord God; BECAUSE THE ENEMY HATH SAID AGAINST YOU, AHA, even the ancient high places are ours in possession: Therefore prophesy and say, Thus saith the Lord God; BECAUSE THEY HAVE MADE YOU DESOLATE, AND SWALLOWED YOU UP ON EVERY SIDE, that ye might be a possession unto the residue of the heathen, AND YE ARE TAKEN UP IN THE LIPS OF TALKERS, AND ARE AN INFAMY OF THE PEOPLE: THEREFORE, YE MOUNTAINS OF ISRAEL, HEAR THE WORD OF THE LORD GOD; Thus saith the Lord God to the mountains, and to the hills, to the rivers, and to the valleys, to the desolate wastes, and to the cities that are forsaken, which became a prey and derision to the residue of the heathen that are round about; THEREFORE, THUS SAITH THE LORD GOD; SURELY IN THE FIRE OF MY JEALOUSY HAVE I SPOKEN AGAINST THE RESIDUE OF THE HEATHEN, AND AGAINST ALL IDUMEA, WHICH HAVE APPOINTED MY LAND INTO THEIR POSSESSION WITH THE JOY OF ALL THEIR HEART, WITH DESPITEFUL MINDS, TO CAST IT OUT FOR A PREY.
- Prophesy therefore concerning the land of Israel, and say unto the mountains, and to the hills, to the rivers, and to the valleys, Thus saith the Lord God; BEHOLD, I HAVE SPOKEN IN MY JEALOUSY AND IN MY FURY, BECAUSE YE HAVE BORNE THE SHAME OF THE HEATHEN: THEREFORE THUS SAITH THE LORD GOD; I HAVE LIFTED UP MINE HAND, SURELY THE HEATHEN THAT ARE ABOUT YOU, THEY SHALL BEAR THEIR SHAME. But ye, O mountains of Israel, ye shall shoot forth your branches, and yield your fruit to my people of Israel; for they are at hand to come. For, BEHOLD, I AM FOR YOU, AND I WILL TURN UNTO YOU, AND YE SHALL BE TILLED AND SOWN: And I will multiply men upon you, all the house of Israel, even all of it: and the cities SHALL be inhabited, and the wastes SHALL be builded: And I will multiply upon you man and beast; and they shall increase and bring fruit: and I will settle you after your old estates, and will do better unto you than at your beginnings: and ye shall know that I am the Lord.”
Finally, in Obadiah 8-18, God spoke through the vision that Obadiah received of two (2) sets of people: Esau’s descendants (otherwise known as the Edomites) and the descendants of Jacob his twin brother, the Israelites. God spoke of how Esau’s descendants, although related by blood to Jacob’s descendants, had added to the suffering of Jacob’s descendants instead of helping them and how they had joined with their enemies and exploited them, when they were going through their afflictions. God was not at all pleased and stated that all that Esau’s descendants had done, would be requited to them.
- “Shall I not in that day, saith the Lord, even destroy the wise men out of Edom, and understanding out of the mount of Esau? And thy mighty men, O Teman, shall be dismayed, to the end that every one of the mount of Esau may be cut off by slaughter. FOR THY VIOLENCE AGAINST THY BROTHER JACOB, SHAME SHALL COVER THEE, AND THOU SHALT BE CUT OFF FOR EVER.
- In the day that THOU STOODEST ON THE OTHER SIDE, in the day that the strangers carried away captive his forces, and foreigners entered into his gates, and cast lots upon Jerusalem, EVEN THOU WAST ONE OF THEM.
- BUT THOU SHOULDEST NOT HAVE LOOKED ON THE DAY OF THY BROTHER IN THE DAY THAT HE BECAME A STRANGER; NEITHER SHOULDEST THOU HAVE REJOICED OVER THE CHILDREN OF JUDAH IN THE DAY OF THEIR DESTRUCTION; NEITHER SHOULDEST THOU HAVE SPOKEN PROUDLY IN THE DAY OF DISTRESS.
- THOU SHOULDEST NOT HAVE ENTERED INTO THE GATE OF MY PEOPLE IN THE DAY OF THEIR CALAMITY; YEA THOU SHOULDEST NOT HAVE LOOKED ON THEIR AFFLICTION IN THE DAY OF THEIR CALAMITY, NOR HAVE LAID HANDS ON THEIR SUBSTANCE IN THE DAY OF THEIR CALAMITY. NEITHER SHOULDEST THOU HAVE STOOD IN THE CROSSWAY, TO CUT OFF THOSE OF HIS THAT DID ESCAPE; NEITHER SHOULDEST THOU HAVE DELIVERED UP THOSE OF HIS THAT DID REMAIN IN THE DAY OF DISTRESS.
- For the day of the Lord is near upon all the heathen: AS THOU HAST DONE, IT SHALL BE DONE UNTO THEE: THY REWARD SHALL RETURN UPON THINE OWN HEAD. For as ye have drunk upon my holy mountain, so shall all the heathen drink continually, yea, they shall drink, and they shall swallow down, and they shall be as though they had not been.
- BUT UPON MOUNT ZION SHALL BE DELIVERANCE, AND THERE SHALL BE HOLINESS, AND THE HOUSE OF JACOB SHALL POSSESS THEIR POSSESSIONS. And the house of Jacob shall be a fire, and the house of Joseph a flame, and the house of Esau for stubble, and they shall kindle in them, and devour them; and there shall not be any remaining of the house of Esau; for the Lord hath spoken it.”
LESSONS FOR US TODAY
What can we learn from the above scriptures? I would say that there is much to be gleaned.
Firstly, it is clear that when God’s people sin, he does not give them a free pass. He chastens or punishes them, sometimes severely and sometimes for prolonged periods of time.
Secondly, people have a tendency (mainly the ungodly but sometimes, sadly, even some fellow brothers and sisters in the faith), to rejoice when they see a Christian down, hurting, going through adversity or being chastened by God, sometimes in embarrassing and humiliating ways. They see God’s chastening hand upon them or whatever they may be going through, as licence to speak freely with their mouths to badmouth them, hurl insults at them, attack them, put them down and further add to their pain. They feel glad about what they are going through and think to themselves that it serves them right because for one reason or another, they just never liked them or don’t think that they should have any mercy from the Lord (although ironically, they need the same mercy daily) or because they never truly forgave them for some wrong they perceived that they had done to them or to a loved one.
Yet, despite such festivity, these people forget or perhaps do not know, that God does not usually intend to chasten his children permanently. Hebrews 12:10-11 states that he does it for his children’s benefit, so that they would be partakers of his holiness and that after the chastening, it would yield the peaceable fruit of righteousness unto those which are thereby exercised.
In light of this, when it comes to the punishing of his children, although well deserved, God usually has an expiry date in mind, to the disappointment of many who have come to expect or would rather see otherwise.
In this regard, it is important to note two (2) very sobering truths:
God NEVER stopped loving the child being chastened, NEVER forsook him or her during the period of chastening and NEVER stopped accepting responsibility for him or her, as his own. In short, that child was and is STILL accepted in the beloved.
God chastening his children, does not give others or people in general, a free pass to harass them, to insult them, to treat them like dirt, to drag their name in the mud, to rejoice, whether without or secretly within and to add to their affliction. In fact, God knowing the hearts of all men, he keeps a PERFECT RECORD of those who rejoiced in his child’s pain and discomfort, some going so far as to forward the affliction (as the ungodly once did to the Israelites), meaning, add more pain maliciously, through jeering, gossiping, badmouthing, insulting and meting out bad and contemptuous treatment.
Needless to say, as the scriptures above attest, the Lord does not take it lightly when his children, under punishment from him or going through some kind of adversity or affliction for whatever reason, are further put to grief by the wicked actions of others. Believe it or not, there are some that will see you down and instead of giving you a helping hand or trying to find out from you directly about what you’re going through and what has happened, will use their feet or whatever they can find, to kick you down even further.
Yet, when the chastening period is over (and sometimes even before), as the scriptures attest, God has a tendency to go after such people, to settle the score. His child need not fight or fuss, although the pain from the added affliction can be almost unbearable. As he or she sits still though and commits everything to the one who judges righteously, the Lord exacts vengeance because vengeance is his and nobody else’s. In short, God takes these attacks, borne out of hearts of malice, personally.
His Word in Romans 12:14-19 tells us:
- “Bless them which persecute you: bless, and curse not. Rejoice with them that do rejoice, and weep with them that weep….Recompense to no man evil for evil. Provide things honest in the sight of all men. If it be possible, as much as lieth in you, live peaceably with all men. Dearly beloved, avenge not yourselves, but rather give place unto wrath: for it is written, Vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord. For we know him that hath said, Vengeance belongeth unto me, I will recompense, saith the Lord. And again, The Lord shall judge his people.”
I know that God exacts vengeance because all of the scriptures above confirm that this is so and also because I have been guilty of finding entertainment in the pain and suffering of others and gossiping about them, including God’s children and have been whipped severely for my wrong.
I now know to tread cautiously, especially when it comes to God’s children, for, like me, they are specially loved. If they are being chastened, I must pray for them and help them where possible, not rejoice, spread their business, badmouth them, jump to conclusions about them without all the facts, think the worst and try my very best to bring their name into disrepute.
God loves his children much more than I think we can possibly conceive or imagine. Having seen him in operation, I have learned that, when his children are under the rod or facing adversity after adversity, even if it is for a fault (and sometimes it isn’t), then God wants me, as a Christian, not to gloat self-righteously, contemptuously and condescendingly, not to go run my mouth to discuss their business with others (sometimes even with the unsaved), not to secretly rejoice, feel satisfied or even blatantly go after them, to drive the dagger deeper in than where it has already been lodged. God wants me to pray for that person, to help him or her where I can, to try in love to understand his or her problem and if that person has sinned, to restore such an one in the spirit of meekness, considering myself, lest I also be tempted (Galatians 6:1).
For, apart from the fact that God wants his children to grow up, to put away pettiness, drama, conflict, competitiveness, childishness, malice, pride and unforgiveness, he takes attacks against his children (even the ones that he is chastening or has chastened) very seriously and he usually metes out punishment to those who considered their plight to be entertainment or added to their pain, hurt and discomfort.
Proverbs 17:5 reminds us, “He who is glad at calamity shall not be unpunished.” In light of this and the preceding scriptures, if you tend to delight in the pain and suffering of others and love to use this as an opportunity to be malicious, to speak evil about them, to snicker, spread their business with evil intent (sometimes under the guise of piousness) and to put them down, then, if any of those persons that you have ridiculed, insulted or attacked BELONG TO GOD, I have one question for you:
Whatever he or she may be going through, whatever may have caused it or why God may have allowed the suffering, having had your fill at his or her expense and taken much delight in the painful situation, KNOWING WHO GOD IS are that person’s problems really an opportunity for you to rejoice or your behaviour a reason to tremble?
(Written on 09th July, 2021, added to thereafter)
Today, the very next day after I had written the above Article, a verse in the book of Lamentations came to mind and so I turned to that book. In that book, the children of Judah were being afflicted sorely by God because of their sins against him. The words in that book therefore mainly describe the pain and suffering that they went through as a result of their own disobedience but it also captures the above theme perfectly.
For, while describing their ordeal, they make mention of their enemies, the people who saw their adversity as an opportunity to rejoice and do wickedly. In their pain, they cried out to God, acknowledging that they were justly being punished for their wrong but knowing that they still belonged to him, that he still loved them and how he tended to be displeased when their adversaries exploited their grief or added to their affliction, in their prayer, they also asked God to take note of what their adversaries were doing, how they were treating them when down and that he would exact HIS vengeance upon them.
In Chapter 1 and Chapter 3 of the book of Lamentations therefore, the following statements were made:
- How doth the city sit solitary, that was full of people! how is she become as a widow! she that was great among the nations, and princess among the provinces, how is she become tributary! She weepeth sore in the night, and her tears are on her cheeks: among all her lovers she hath none to comfort her: ALL HER FRIENDS HAVE DEALT TREACHEROUSLY WITH HER, THEY ARE BECOME HER ENEMIES. Judah is gone into captivity because of affliction, and because of great servitude: she dwelleth among the heathen, she findeth no rest: all her persecutors overtook her between the straits.
- The ways of Zion do mourn, because none come to the solemn feasts: all her gates are desolate: her priests sigh, her virgins are afflicted, and she is in bitterness. HER ADVERSARIES ARE THE CHIEF, HER ENEMIES PROSPER; FOR THE LORD HATH AFFLICTED HER FOR THE MULTITUDE OF HER TRANSGRESSIONS: her children are gone into captivity before the enemy...
- Jerusalem remembered in the days of her affliction and of her miseries all her pleasant things that she had in the days of old, when her people fell into the hand of the enemy, and NONE DID HELP HER: THE ADVERSARIES SAW HER, AND DID MOCK at her sabbaths…O Lord, behold my affliction: FOR THE ENEMY HATH MAGNIFIED HIMSELF. THE ADVERSARY HATH SPREAD OUT HIS HAND UPON ALL HER PLEASANT THINGS… IS IT NOTHING TO YOU, ALL YE THAT PASS BY?…
- For these things I weep; mine eye, mine eye runneth down with water, because the comforter that should relieve my soul is far from me: my children are desolate, BECAUSE THE ENEMY PREVAILED. Zion spreadeth forth her hands, and THERE IS NONE TO COMFORT HER: the Lord hath commanded concerning Jacob, that his adversaries should be round about him: Jerusalem is as a menstruous woman among them.
- The Lord is righteous; for I have rebelled against his commandment…Behold, O Lord; for I am in distress: my bowels are troubled; mine heart is turned within me; for I have grievously rebelled: abroad the sword bereaveth, at home there is as death. They have heard that I sigh: there is none to comfort me: all mine enemies have heard of my trouble; THEY ARE GLAD THAT THOU HAST DONE IT: thou wilt bring the day that thou hast called, AND THEY SHALL BE LIKE UNTO ME. LET ALL THEIR WICKEDNESS COME BEFORE THEE; AND DO UNTO THEM, AS THOU HAST DONE UNTO ME FOR ALL MY TRANSGRESSIONS: for my sighs are many, and my heart is faint...
- I am the man that hath seen affliction by the rod of his wrath. He hath led me, and brought me into darkness, but not into light. Surely against me is he turned; he turneth his hand against me all the day. My flesh and my skin hath he made old; he hath broken my bones. He hath builded against me, and compassed me with gall and travail. He hath set me in dark places, as they that be dead of old. He hath hedged me about, that I cannot get out: he hath made my chain heavy. Also when I cry and shout, he shutteth out my prayer. He hath inclosed my ways with hewn stone, he hath made my paths crooked. He was unto me as a bear lying in wait, and as a lion in secret places. He hath turned aside my ways, and pulled me in pieces: he hath made me desolate. He hath bent his bow, and set me as a mark for the arrow. He hath caused the arrows of his quiver to enter into my reins.
- I WAS A DERISION TO ALL MY PEOPLE; AND THEIR SONG ALL THE DAY. He hath filled me with bitterness, he hath made me drunken with wormwood. He hath also broken my teeth with gravel stones, he hath covered me with ashes. And thou hast removed my soul far off from peace: I forgat prosperity. And I said, My strength and my hope is perished from the Lord: Remembering mine affliction and my misery, the wormwood and the gall. My soul hath them still in remembrance, and is humbled in me…
- It is good for a man that he bear the yoke in his youth. He sitteth alone and keepeth silence, because he hath borne it upon him. He putteth his mouth in the dust; if so be there may be hope…FOR THE LORD WILL NOT CAST OFF FOR EVER: BUT THOUGH HE CAUSE GRIEF, YET WILL HE HAVE COMPASSION ACCORDING TO THE MULTITUDE OF HIS MERCIES. For he doth not afflict willingly nor grieve the children of men…
- Wherefore doth a living man complain, a man for the punishment of his sins? Let us search and try our ways, and turn again to the Lord. Let us lift up our heart with our hands unto God in the heavens. We have transgressed and have rebelled: thou hast not pardoned. Thou hast covered with anger, and persecuted us: thou hast slain, thou hast not pitied. Thou hast covered thyself with a cloud, that our prayer should not pass through. Thou hast made us as the offscouring and refuse in the midst of the people. ALL OUR ENEMIES HAVE OPENED THEIR MOUTHS AGAINST US … Mine eye trickleth down, and ceaseth not, without any intermission. TILL THE LORD LOOK DOWN, AND BEHOLD FROM HEAVEN…
- MINE ENEMIES CHASED ME SORE, LIKE A BIRD WITHOUT CAUSE. They have cut off my life in the dungeon, and cast a stone upon me. Waters flowed over mine head; then I said, I am cut off.
- I CALLED UPON THY NAME, O LORD, OUT OF THE LOW DUNGEON. THOU HAST HEARD MY VOICE: hide not thine ear at my breathing, at my cry. THOU DREWEST NEAR IN THE DAY THAT I CALLED UPON THEE: THOUS SAIDST, FEAR NOT.
- O LORD, THOU HAST PLEADED THE CAUSES OF MY SOUL; THOU HAST REDEEMED MY LIFE. O LORD, THOU HAST SEEN MY WRONG: JUDGE THOU MY CAUSE, THOU HAST SEEN ALL THEIR VENGEANCE AND ALL THEIR IMAGINATIONS AGAINST ME. THOU HAST HEARD THEIR REPROACH, O LORD, AND ALL THEIR IMAGINATIONS AGAINST ME; THE LIPS OF THOSE THAT ROSE UP AGAINST ME, AND THEIR DEVICE AGAINST ME ALL THE DAY. BEHOLD THEIR SITTING DOWN, AND THEIR RISING UP; I AM THEIR MUSICK. RENDER UNTO THEM A RECOMPENCE, O LORD, ACCORDING TO THE WORK OF THEIR HANDS. GIVE THEM SORROW OF HEART, THY CURSE UNTO THEM. PERSECUTE AND DESTROY THEM IN ANGER FROM UNDER THE HEAVENS OF THE LORD.”
The last portion of scripture above, where God’s people called out to him desperately from the low dungeon of life’s circumstances, remind me of Samson and David. Despite the fact that God’s people had sinned and found themselves where they did because of it, they knew they still belonged to God, that he still loved them and that he was a God that would still go after those who had rejoiced and were exploiting their suffering with HIS vengeance. For, his punishing his children did not give their adversaries a free pass, a licence or the liberty to further oppress them, so as to add insult to their injury.
In the case of Samson, although he had sinned grievously against the Lord and ended up where he did as a result, when his eyes had been put out, him captured and his enemies assembled together to rejoice over his capture, he prayed repentantly to God from that low place and asked him for his help.
In Judges 16:28, while captured, his eyes put out, ashamed before his enemies and them having gathered to mock him, it reads:
- “And Samson called unto the Lord, and said, O Lord God, remember me, I pray thee, and strengthen me, I pray thee, only this once, O God, THAT I MAY BE AT ONCE AVENGED OF THE PHILISTINES FOR MY TWO EYES.”
Despite all that he had done and where he had found himself, God STILL heard his child and answered his prayer in that moment. Indeed, Samson prayed because he still had relationship with God and knew something of his character. God was a God that was faithful to those with whom he had covenant, even when they had been foolish. Indeed, even if all were to turn their backs mercilessly on them in their time of affliction, God would still be merciful and receive the prayer of his penitent children.
Although Samson died, God granted his request, resulting in the death of many of his enemies, the Philistines and the fulfillment of God’s purpose for his life.
In the case of David, he prayed to God in Psalm 41:4-13, when he was being chastened for his sin and his adversaries (one of whom had previously been his friend), took delight in his adversity. He prayed:
- “I said, Lord, be merciful unto me: heal my soul; for I have sinned against thee. Mine enemies speak evil of me, When shall he die, and his name perish? And if he come to see me, he speaketh vanity: his heart gathereth iniquity to itself; when he goeth abroad, he telleth it. All that hate me whisper together against me: against me do they devise my hurt. An evil disease, say they, cleaveth fast unto him: and now that he lieth he shall rise up no more. Yea, mine own familiar friend, in whom I trusted, which did eat of my bread, hath lifted up his heel against me. BUT THOU O LORD, BE MERCIFUL UNTO ME, AND RAISE ME UP, THAT I MAY REQUITE THEM. BY THIS I KNOW THAT THOU FAVOUREST ME, BECAUSE MINE ENEMY DOTH NOT TRIUMPH OVER ME. And as for me, thou upholdest me in mine integrity, and settest me before thy face for ever. Blessed be the Lord God of Israel from everlasting, and to everlasting. Amen, and Amen.”
God did favour David by not allowing his enemies to triumph over him because David did not succumb to his illness at that point. Although many obviously thought that that would be the end of his story, God defeated those wicked expectations and he lived on to give praises and thanks to God and to do great exploits. See, although David did sin and God punished him for it, he was a man after God’s own heart, dearly beloved of him and this had not changed. No doubt, God dealt with those who had positioned themselves as his enemies in his valley season and knowing God’s character, it would not have been a pretty sight.
The God of the scriptures is the same God today. He has not changed. He still goes after those who come up against his children wickedly, even when those children are being chastened by him for their sins. He goes after the ungodly who oppressed them mercilessly and he also metes out chastening to those who, within his household of faith and therefore Christians as well, chose, in one way or another, to add to the sufferings of their fellow sister or brother. Worse yet if that brother or sister was suffering for right and for taking a stand for Jesus and suffered as a result. As we saw with Job in the Bible, when his friends mistakenly, presumptuously, judgmentally and self-righteously jumped to the conclusion that he was going through adversity because he had sinned against God and without all the facts and spoke to him accordingly, God was not at all pleased.
In Job 42:7-8, after God had turned things around in Job’s life and restored him, it states:
- “And it was so, that after the Lord had spoken these words unto Job, the Lord said to Eliphaz the Temanite, My wrath is kindled against thee, and against thy two friends: for ye have not spoken of me the thing that is right, as my servant Job hath. Therefore take unto you now seven bullocks and seven rams, and go to my servant Job, and offer up for yourselves a burnt offering; and my servant Job shall pray for you: for him will I accept: lest I deal with you after your folly, in that ye have not spoken of me the thing which is right, like my servant Job.”
(Addendum written on 10th July, 2021)
Dear Reader, if you found the above Article to be convicting, informative, interesting or edifying, you may also be interested in reading the following:
- Note 15 – ‘Why The Enemy’s Attack Is My Cue To Sing’
- Note 21 – ‘Dear Follow Saints’
- Note 55 – ‘Self-inflicted Wounds?’
- Note 59 – ‘I Will Trust God With My Enemies’
- Note 61 – ‘Are You Putting Yourself In The Line Of Fire?’
- Note 122 – ‘The Woman Who Wanted A Baby – Key Points From Hannah’s Story’
- Note 171 – ‘Dear Peninnah…’
- Note 174 – ‘Grace & Glory – The Lord Will Help Me’
- Note 176 – ‘How You Gonna Curse Who God Has Blessed?’
Additionally, under the ‘BROKEN Daughters’ Page:
Note 28 – ‘It’s Not A Big Deal…Or Is It?’
Additionally, under the ‘SINGLE Daughters’ Page:
- Note 46 – ‘The Sins Of The Tongue’
- Note 47 – ‘The Sins Of The Tongue (Reloaded)’
- Note 48 – ‘Taming The Tongue – What The Bible Says About Gossip’