Tuesday, May 01, 2012
THE NATION GOD BLESSES
"So David reigned over all Israel, administering justice and righteousness for all his people." (1 Chronicles 18:14 HCSB)
I grew up in a nation where Bibles were distributed in schools, where I could ride my bicycle anywhere in the neighborhood--even at night--without fear. I lived under a government where a morning prayer was permitted to be offered by the principal on the school loudspeaker, where morality was promoted, and I had no concept what abortion, homosexuality or atheism were. As a child, I never heard adults use profanity, and if a kid said a "dirty" word, they were marched to the principal's office and their rear ends were lit up with a big wooden paddle. Their parents didn't sue the school for abuse, but spanked the child again for getting spanked. Virtually every kid I knew went to church. It was Ozzie and Harriet, Ward and June Cleaver--we lived in Mayberry. For communists to be in our government, as they are today, was unthinkable--they were out to destroy us (they still are).
The nation was far from perfect. Racial discrimination and the Red Menace were perils within and without. In the third grade, I was sitting in class in the afternoon when I learned that President Kennedy had been assassinated. Camelot was gone.
Doubtless there was wickedness--but we called it that. Our TV pictures were black and white--and that's how most saw the world. Morality was black and white, good and evil, right and wrong.
America became the most blessed nation on earth. We have been blessed because we have been "bless-able." His favor on a people is conditional--depending on their submission to His laws.
David understood this. His governance was marked by godliness, and insofar as righteousness prevailed, reward from heaven was bestowed. When the nation departed from God's standards, Divine discipline was meted out.
The nation God blesses is described in 1 Chronicles 18.
We see DAVID'S SUCCESS: HIS ACCOMPLISHMENTS in verses 1-6.
"After this, David defeated the Philistines, subdued them, and took Gath and its villages from Philistine control. He also defeated the Moabites, and they became David's subjects and brought tribute.
David also defeated King Hadadezer of Zobah at Hamath when he went to establish his control at the Euphrates River. David captured 1,000 chariots, 7,000 horsemen, and 20,000 foot soldiers from him, hamstrung all the horses, and kept 100 chariots.
When the Arameans of Damascus came to assist King Hadadezer of Zobah, David struck down 22,000 Aramean men. Then he placed garrisons in Aram of Damascus, and the Arameans became David's subjects and brought tribute. The Lord made David victorious wherever he went." (1 Chronicles 18:1-6 HCSB)
David's victories were rooted in his virtues, which God blessed. It wasn't the might of the military, but the power of God that brought triumph. Israel's army was usually outnumbered. Then, as now, they were encircled by foes. Yet, with the Lord's blessing, they were victorious on the battlefield. While we appreciate our heroic men and women of our armed forces, we must be reminded the success of our armies rests ultimately not with generals and weaponry, but with God. The decisive factor is not whether God is on our side--but, are we on His?
In this chapter, we also note DAVID'S STEWARDSHIP: HIS ATTAINMENTS in verses 7-13.
"David took the gold shields carried by Hadadezer's officers and brought them to Jerusalem. From Tibhath and Cun, Hadadezer's cities, David also took huge quantities of bronze, from which Solomon made the bronze reservoir, the pillars, and the bronze articles.
When King Tou of Hamath heard that David had defeated the entire army of King Hadadezer of Zobah, he sent his son Hadoram to King David to greet him and to congratulate him because David had fought against Hadadezer and defeated him, for Tou and Hadadezer had fought many wars. [Hadoram brought] all kinds of gold, silver, and bronze items. King David also dedicated these to the Lord, along with the silver and gold he had carried off from all the nations-from Edom, Moab, the Ammonites, the Philistines, and the Amalekites.
Abishai son of Zeruiah struck down 18,000 Edomites in the Valley of Salt. He put garrisons in Edom, and all the Edomites were subject to David. The Lord made David victorious wherever he went." (1 Chronicles 18:7-13 HCSB)
"To the victor goes the spoils," so the old saying goes. Thus, we see David attaining great wealth from his conquests. The thing is, they weren't his victories--they were the Lord's! The king acknowledges this--that all he had comes from God and he is responsible to be a steward of God's treasure. When a nation becomes consumed with consumerism, when every desire is to be indulged without any gratitude to God and generosity toward others, that nation has thumbed its nose at the Benefactor. Of course, a lavish lifestyle might continue to be funded with debt--until a day of reckoning comes. Then the poverty of our souls will be mirrored by the bankruptcy of our economy.
We also observe DAVID'S SOVEREIGNTY: HIS ADMINISTRATION in verses 14-17.
"So David reigned over all Israel, administering justice and righteousness for all his people.
Joab son of Zeruiah was over the army; Jehoshaphat son of Ahilud was court historian; Zadok son of Ahitub and Ahimelech son of Abiathar were priests; Shavsha was court secretary; Benaiah son of Jehoiada was over the Cherethites and the Pelethites; and David's sons were the chief officials at the king's side." (1 Chronicles 18:14-17 HCSB)
Justice and righteousness were the hallmarks of his administration. That is a nation that God blesses. "Righteousness exalts a nation, but sin is a disgrace to any people." (Proverbs 14:34 HCSB) That is the timeless truth. The psalmist (perhaps David) wrote, "Happy is the nation whose God is Yahweh--the people He has chosen to be His own possession!" (Psalm 33:12 HCSB) While a king--or President--cannot ensure the obedience of the citizens to God's principles, they can set the tone for the moral climate of a country. This should give us grave concern as we see what has become of the leadership in government.
Mayberry may never be again. Camelot won't reappear--it really never was. We're not going back to black and white television.
We must go back to black and white morality, if we would have the blessing of God. There are no perfect Presidents and nations. There are no sinless preachers and churches. But, we need to have a fundamental recognition of right and wrong and a focused orientation toward God and His standards. Only then can we be the nation God blesses.