Saturday, March 17, 2018

Man's wrath turned inside-out

Image: Pixabay
TODAY’S SPECIAL: Judges 19-21; Psalm 76

TO CHEW ON: “Surely the wrath of man shall praise You;
With the remainder of wrath You shall gird Yourself” - Psalm 76:10

As we read the last horrible chapters of Judges, we find our selves saddened, even repulsed. Israel has degenerated into violence, civil war, and chaos.But the last verse in the book gives us a clue to how this dreadful state might be setting them up for change: “In those days there was no king in Israel; everyone did what was right in his own eyes” Judges 21:26.

The “wrath of man” and its consequences were preparing Israel for a king. Samuel warned them it was not the best option. A king, he cautioned, would be the type of ruler to claim their sons for his army, their daughters as his perfumers, cooks, and bakers. He would manage their farms, seize their land for his servants, help himself to their best servants and livestock, and tax them to boot - 1 Samuel 8:10-18.

But this development would also lead to their second king—David—who was the ancestor of Jesus, the Messiah. And so the wrath of man was turned around to give praise to God.

This is one of God’s characteristic ways of working. He did something similar:
  • When Pharaoh refused to let the Israelites leave Egypt - Exodus 14:14.
  • When David’s son Absalom, in his attempt to wrest the throne from his father, chose the advice of Hushai (his father’s secret ally) over Ahithophel - 2 Samuel 7:14. (God’s control in this is expressed in the words of another of David’s sons—Solomon: “A man’s heart plans his way, / But the Lord directs his steps” - Psalm 16:9).
  • When God spoke to Israel’s prophets explaining international events before they happened:
- Concerning Assyria and its King Sennacherib - Isaiah 37:29
- Concerning an Israelite king, a puppet of Babylon, who secretly broke a covenant - Ezekiel 17:20.
- Concerning Pharaoh, king of Egypt - Ezekiel 29:4.
- Concerning Babylon and Egypt - Ezekiel 20:24.
(… the above illustrative of another of Solomon’s proverbs: “The king’s heart is in the hand of the Lord, / Like the rivers of water; He turns it wherever He wishes” - Proverbs 21:1).
  • When Jesus’ life was preserved until “His hour” had come - John 8:20.

God will continue to work this way. An example is predicted in Revelation, when God will cause unity among 10 kingdoms to accomplish His purpose: “For God has put it into their hearts to fulfill His purpose to be of one mind and to give their kingdom to the beast until the works of God are fulfilled” - Revelation 17:17.

We, with our limited vision are easily flummoxed by what is happening in our world’s halls of power. Often it looks like God and the causes of His kingdom are losing. But the story is not over. The Bible assures us that God is in control, no matter how things may look when we’re in the middle of them.

PRAYER: Dear Father, when I am troubled by apparent Kingdom of God setbacks, buoy my faith as I recall Your ability to turn man’s wrath around to praise You. Amen.


Unless otherwise noted all Scripture quotations are taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

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