I am finding my study of II Samuel to be a fruitful blessing and the more I dig into it the more I am amazed at how relevant and timely it is for us in the midst of this Covid-19 pandemic. In fact, so much so that I realized the end of this chapter which I was going to skip is also timely, so we will take that up next week. I hope you will read and pray over and meditate on this chapter and what God would say to us through it.
History shows us nearly every generation has its defining tragedy, some event that defines and exposes and shapes a nations character and conduct. Just the last century reveals several. The 9/11 Twin Towers terrorist attack, Sept. 11, 2001. The Vietnam War, 60s-70s. The assassination of JFK, November 1963. WWII The Stock Market crash and Great Depression, 1929. The sinking of the Titanic April 14, 1912. Along with events like those, there have also been countless plagues and epidemics. Again, just in the last century there has been the swine flu, the bird flu, Ebola, and the great Spanish flu pandemic of 1918, to which news reports have made many references. As I said last week epidemics and pandemics are not unprecedented. There have been countless plagues and pestilences all through human history. In fact, I dare say there has never been a hundred-year span of time without at least one. Biblical history bears this out. In the Bible the words plague, and pestilence occur over 130 times. The first time is in Genesis 12 when God afflicted Pharaoh’s house with great plagues because he had taken Sarai, Abram’s wife, into his palace, not knowing she was married. Then of course there were the ten great plagues that were visited on another Pharaoh many years later in Egypt, by Moses (Exodus 7-11). The tenth one killed a member of every Egyptian household.
Character of kindness. I generally make it a practice not to use Greek or Hebrew words in my sermons but there is a word in Hebrew that is so rich in meaning it’s hard to translate into English and so a variety of words are used to try to capture the depth of this one word. The Hebrew word is hesed. It’s the word in Micah 6:8, to do justice and love hesed and walk humbly with your God. It’s the word in Psalm 23, surely goodness and hesed shall follow me all the days of my life. In Psalm 136 it says 26 times the steadfast hesed of the Lord endures forever. Kindness, mercy, love, compassion. But it’s deeper. It’s covenant kindness, covenant love, the steadfast, unchangeable, unconditional loving kindness of God. God’s love and kindness and mercy and goodness blend together in the hesed of God. We are recipients of it even when life is hard, especially when life is hard.