For today, One Year Bible Online links here.
The writer points out the danger of angering those who rule, and the advantages to be gained by currying their favor. This is presented as neither a good thing nor a bad thing. The writer just tells us that it is something that is.
The more faithfully we follow God’s decrees the more we can rely on Him to rescue us from the trouble which comes our way. This is definitely true, but another way of looking at it is this: the more faithfully we follow God’s decrees the more we have set things up for trouble to pass us by. I was struggling this morning with what to write today, as the psalmist repeats several of the themes which he has already covered in this rather long psalm. Then I realized that he had expanded on a theme he had only touched on in passing earlier.
We start following God’s commands because of our fear of the Lord. As time goes by, we continue to follow His decrees to ever greater degree as we realize the benefits we receive from doing so. Finally, we begin to seek ever more knowledge of God’s instructions and to adhere more closely to them because of the joy we get from doing so and the love we have for them. The more we follow God’s instructions, the more we come to love His instruction.
I have always empathized with Thomas in this passage. The few accounts we have of Thomas in the Gospels all sound like things I might do, especially here. I, too, sought proof of the Resurrection, my skeptical nature made me question it (although I must add that my sinful nature encouraged me to demand a high level of proof). I, also, admire Thomas’ unwillingness to accept the miracle of the Resurrection on someone else’s word.
For me there are two important reasons for John to include the account of Thomas’ doubt. The first is to show us that not all of the disciples just credulously accepted the accounts others made of their encounters with the resurrected Jesus and got caught up in the idea. At least one of them was skeptical of Jesus’ resurrection in the face of the enthusiasm about it from the others. The second is to show us that we should be skeptical of accounts of miraculous events. We should be careful not to get fooled by charlatans who pull off what appear to be miracles in order to mislead the gullible.
In this story we see David’s men refuse to allow him to follow the disastrous course of action which Hushai had advised Absalom to follow. David wanted to lead his men to battle against Absalom’s army, but they insisted that he remain within the city. Their reasoning was that no matter how many of them were killed, as long as David was alive so was their cause. More importantly, no matter how successful they were on the battlefield, if David was killed in battle, their cause was lost. Their logic was born out by the fact that the battle itself was indecisive, but David’s men were victorious because Absalom became caught up in a tree and was slain by Joab.