You love those who hate you and hate those who love you! For you have made it clear today that the commanders and soldiers mean nothing to you. I know today that if Absalom were alive and all of us were dead, it would have pleased you!
I. THOSE DO SO WHO LOVE ERROR AND HATE THE TRUTH. For truth is one of our best friends, error one of our worst enemies. Moral and religious truth especially is life, health, guidance, happiness, to the soul; it leads to God and goodness and heaven. But error in such matters is death, disease, delusion; producing false peace and leading to destruction. Yet men often love the errors which favour what they are inclined to, and hate the truth which shows them their duties, sins, and dangers. They "love darkness rather than light, because their deeds are evil" (John 3:19). "Fools hate knowledge" (Proverbs 1:22). Hence they love false teachers and hate the true. "I hate him," said Ahab of Micaiah, "for he doth not prophesy good concerning me, but evil" (1 Kings 22:8).
II. THOSE WHO LOVE THEIR LOWER RATHER THAN THEIR HIGHER SELF. Our lower nature is good in itself, but is very prone to run to excess, and become evil. Then, from a friend, it is transformed into an enemy. Our higher nature is a friend, especially when informed and directed by the Holy Spirit. Man's worth and blessedness depend on his obeying the latter and subduing the former. Too often, however, he takes the opposite course, yielding himself to the government of the flesh, and resisting the promptings of the spirit.
III. THOSE WHO LOVE THE WICKED AND HATE THE GOOD. Associating with the former and finding pleasure in their practices, but avoiding the society of the latter; loving flatterers, and hating faithful reprovers and advisers. Ungodly and unholy men are necessarily, though it may be unconsciously and unintentionally, the enemies of the souls of those whom they influence, whether by conversation or example; and the more attractive they are, so much the more dangerous. "Evil company doth corrupt good manners" (1 Corinthians 15:33, Revised Version).
IV. THOSE WHO DELIGHT IN BAD BOOKS, AND DISLIKE AND NEGLECT GOOD ONES. Good books are good friends, promoting in us that which is good. The Bible is the best of books. Bad books, books which suggest and foster evil, are enemies; and the more they interest their readers, the more they injure them. Yet many delight in them, and dislike the books which would profit them.
V. THOSE, IN A WORD, WHO LOVE, IF NOT SATAN, HIS WAYS, AND LIVE IN ENMITY WITH GOD AND CHRIST. Satan is our chief enemy, the head and ruler of all other spiritual foes. He seeks our ruin by manifold devices, and, so that we serve him, is quite content that we should do so in the fashion we most approve. We may join which company of his servants - the coarser or the more refined, the open or the secret - we may prefer. But to follow him in any way is, in effect, to love our worst enemy. Christ, on the other hand, and God in him, is our best Friend, who loves us most truly and most wisely, who has made greater sacrifices for us than any other can make, who has done for us what no other can do, who proffers us blessings beyond the power of any other to confer, who exalts those who love him to a position of honour and happiness to which no other can raise their friends, and lives on to bless them when others die and pass away. To reject him, to refuse him the love, allegiance, and obedience which he claims, is, in effect, to hate the Friend who is most of all needed by us, and most worthy to be loved with all the power of loving which our hearts possess. Let those to whom these representations apply reflect on the sin and folly of which they are guilty; the incalculable good they are losing; the incalculable evils they are choosing. Their eyes will at length be opened; may it be in time! - G.W.
And the words of the men of Judah were fiercer than the words of the men of Israel.
I. THE HISTORY OF RELIGIOUS DISSENSION IS A LONG AND A SAD ONE. There is a monotonous iteration about it which makes one almost despair of human nature, did we not know that freedom of the will, liberty of opinion, and individuality ill all its waywardness, are signs, however perverted they may be, of man's pre-eminence in creation as made in the image and likeness of God, Who wills and no man lets Him, Who moves unfettered by necessity, and untrammelled by restraint. It is easy enough to arrange, in order, and in beauty artificial flowers, with all their semblance of life and brilliancy of colour. The real flowers bend their heads, and snap and fall and hang down; but they have this virtue, that they are alive, they are fragrant, they are tinged with that living colour which no art can give. Puppets offer no resistance; they stand where they are placed; they are absolutely at the disposal of the hand which orders them. But puppets cannot think, cannot resist, cannot organise movement, or march to victory. No, in spite of its waywardness, its readiness to yield to temptation, its pettiness of jealousy, its infirmity of purpose, we would not part with our freedom of the will. There is no struggle which appears to men so much as a struggle for liberty. We all of us passionately cry out, Persuade me if you can, but you shall never drive me. We will yield to arguments, but not to force. You cannot drive a man with a stick, nor convince him by violence. Men must have arguments, and not blows, because man is free. It is a sad spectacle to be forced to regard in Holy Scripture that which at first sight seems to be the utter failure of the purpose of God, through the pettiness and infirmity of human nature. Guard, I beseech you, against the controversial spirit. It has been well said by the late Bishop Morley that the temper which prefers to denounce sin rather than faithfully and Weekly endeavours to increase holiness in oneself and others; which rather likes railing at want of discipline, than sets itself in gentleness and prayer to bring about the restoration of it, is nearly connected with the feebleness of moral fibre. Certainly a great deal of personal self-indulgence is apt to hide itself (even from its own eyes) under the cloak of a burning and railing zeal for discipline, and personal weakness to find a kind of factitious strength in the complaints of the unholiness of others. Guard against the controversial spirit. It more than anything else serves to damage the sensitiveness of the soul. Look at that poor woman of Samaria, in the Gospel, bow nearly she lost the supreme opportunity of her life. Jesus meets her in her sensual, unspiritual condition; He brushes past her unmannerly roughness, her churlish discourtesy, and He speaks to her with that home-thrust of love on which her salvation depended — "Go, call thy husband, anal come hither." You notice how she avoided it. Like the cuttle-fish which tries to escape from its antagonist by the inky stream which it leaves behind it, she tries to get away in the obscuring flood of controversy. "Sir," she said, "I perceive that thou art a prophet." Controversy is a dangerous exercise, and, like one of the big guns which our modern military science has produced, may sometimes crumble to pieces the fort from which it is fired if unprepared for the weight of its discharge, and damage those who use it.
II. But while we deplore — as deplore we must — the divisions of Israel and Judah, the divisions which rend the seamless robe of Christ, we must not forget, at the same time, that as God can use the fierceness and the passions of men, so He can OVERRULE FOR GOOD "OUR UNHAPPY DIVISIONS." Nay, we may go further and say that, bad as they are, divisions are not all bad; and sad as it is, disunion is no ground for despair. "Peace with honour," if you like, but a disastrous war is better than an unworthy peace. The presence of controversy, and even the sad spectacle of division, does bear witness to the intense importance of Truth. Is it worth while, the sceptic asks with a sneer, to convulse the Church for a dipththong? "Yes," we answer, emphatically, "Yes," if it means that it is to be an open question whether the Church believes our Blessed Lord to be of the same substance of the Father, or only of like substance. Can anything be more trivial, says the superficial observer, than the addition of one short clause to the Creed, as a cause of separation between Eastern and Western Christendom? Not at all, if it bears witness to the fact that no addition must be made to the Creed of Christendom without the sanction and consent of the whole Church. The great importance of truth must come before everything else. There are words of our Blessed Lord which are a strange comment on the angelic song which blazed across the Heaven on the first Christmas Eve: "Glory to God in the highest," sang the angels, "and on earth peace, goodwill towards men." And shepherds heard it on the peaceful upland in all the pastoral simplicity of idyllic calm. But, as our Blessed Lord sat on the Mount of Olives, where the sun was setting blood-red behind doomed Jerusalem, where the air was full of judgment and of gloom, within three days of Good Friday, He said: "Ye shall be betrayed both by parents, and brethren, and kinsfolk, and friends, and some of you will they cause to be put to death, and ye shall be hated of all men for My Name's sake, but he that shall endure unto the end shall be saved." It is possible that we shall often find principles inconvenient things.
II. CONTROVERSY IS A BLINDING, MADDENING THING. Yet even dissension has its uses. It is better than apathy, and it witnesses to the eternal force of truth. But, nevertheless, he who would use the weapons of controversy aright, whether in attack or defence, must look to it that he wears the right equipment, or he will find himself injured by the very force of the weapons which he was trying to wield.
(W. E. E. Newbolt, M. A.)
PeopleAbiathar, Abishai, Absalom, Amasa, Barzillai, Benjamin, Benjamites, Chimham, David, Gera, Israelites, Joab, Joseph, Mephibosheth, Saul, Shimei, Zadok, Zeruiah, Ziba
PlacesBahurim, Gilgal, Jerusalem, Jordan River, Mahanaim, Rogelim
TopicsAbsalom, Ab'salom, Alive, Anything, Captains, Clear, Commanders, Dead, Dear, Declared, Died, Enemies, Friends, Hast, Hate, Hated, Haters, Hatest, Hating, Love, Lovest, Loving, Mean, Nothing, Nought, Perceive, Pleased, Princes, Regardest, Seems, Servants, Shown, To-day
Outline1. Joab causes the king to cease his mourning
9. The Israelites are earnest to bring the king back
11. David sends to the priest to incite them of Judah
18. Shimei is pardoned
24. Mephibosheth excused
32. Barzillai dismissed, and Chimham his son taken into the king's family
41. The Israelites expostulate with Judah for bringing home the king without them
Dictionary of Bible Themes2 Samuel 19:1-7
LibraryNational Sorrows and National Lessons
On the illness or the Prince of Wales. Chapel Royal, St James's, December 17th, 1871. 2 Sam. xix. 14. "He bowed the heart of all the men of Judah, even as the heart of one man." No circumstances can be more different, thank God, than those under which the heart of the men of Judah was bowed when their king commander appealed to them, and those which have, in the last few days, bowed the heart of this nation as the heart of one man. But the feeling called out in each case was the same--Loyalty, …
Charles Kingsley—All Saints' Day and Other Sermons
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