Todays readings … 2 Samuel 14, Jeremiah 18, Romans 1&2
What a challenging set of readings we have today, powerful lessons as to the wise way to live before God can be drawn from all 3 of them. Our chapter 14 in the 2nd book of Samuel provides us with the lesson “the LORD looks on the heart” as we saw in the 1st book of Samuel16 v.7] when the prophet was sent to anoint one of the sons of Jesse as the next king. In Samuel’s 2nd book we again have a lesson as to how appearances are deceiving – viewing from the human perspective. In ch.14 today we read how “in all Israel there was no one so much to be praised for his handsome appearance as Absalom. From the sole of his foot to the crown of his head there was no blemish in him.” [v.25]
The lesson for us should be obvious – what is the “appearance” God looks for? In his final letter, his 2nd to Timothy, Paul gave him – and us – some invaluable advice – and a prophecy about “the last days” – our days! We are to “understand this” wrote Paul, “that in the last days there will come times of difficulty. For people will be lovers of self” [3 v.1,2] Absalom was any outstanding example of this, no doubt enjoying the praise “for his handsome appearance.”
Let us take to heart the warnings of Paul about conditions in the last days. He predicted that people will be “lovers of money, proud …. swollen with conceit, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God,” Paul said theywould have “the appearance of godliness, but denying its power.”[v.5] As with Absalom, appearances are attractive – but deceiving.
Let us make sure our “appearance” in words and deeds is genuine – then it will be “praised” by our Lord when he returns. The words of Jesus to the “scribes and Pharisees” we read a few days ago are most appropriate as a warning to us. You “outwardly appear righteous to others, but within you are full of hypocrisy” [Matt. 23 v.28] Let us never cease trying to be genuinely righteous. A final thought today comes from our readings chapter 1 in Romans. “… the righteousness of God is revealed from faith for faith, as it is written, “The righteous shall live by faith” [v.17] and we show faith by our actions – not just words.