Imperfectly Acceptable

“All right,” David replied, “but I will not negotiate with you unless you bring back my wife Michal, Saul’s daughter, when you come” (2 Samuel 3:13)

When it is first read, it seems like a love story. It might not have been.

David had been at war with King Saul (2 Samuel 3:1). After Saul’s death, his field commander Abner decided to switch sides and support David’s claim to the throne (2 Samuel 3:8-10). “Make a solemn pact with me,” Abner said, “and I will help turn over all of Israel to you” (2 Samuel 3:12). David agreed, but on one condition: “Bring back my wife Michal” (2 Samuel 3:13).

Michal was Saul’s daughter. Saul had originally given her to David as his wife, but later had given her in marriage to another man, Palti, when David fled (1 Samuel 18:27, 1 Samuel 25:44).

It’s possible that there was no romance here. Michal might have been valuable to David for other reasons. Some commentators cite that a reunion with her positioned him as Saul’s legitimate son-in-law and strengthened his claim to the throne. Palti wept for Michal as she was dragged back to David (2 Samuel 3:16).

We often think of David as a man after God’s own heart who was kind to the disabled and the elderly (1 Samuel 13:14; 2 Samuel 9:1-13) and as someone who spared his enemy’s life when it was his to take (1 Samuel 24:1-22).

So what are we to make of David’s life? “The story of David is not a story of what God wants us to be,” Eugene Peterson says, “but a story of God working with the raw material of our lives as he finds us.” David’s life is a reminder that God takes and uses sinful, imperfect people.

It isn’t so much that David wanted his first wife back but that Saul thought it perfectly acceptable to give her to someone else in the first place. This was in direct violation of the Mosaic law, and technically Michal was committing adultery by going to the second man. Since David never divorced her, she was playing wife with Palti while she was still legally married to David. This combined with the snotty attitude she had when the Ark was brought back (she scorned David for dancing in front of the commoners) was enough to earn her the ultimate female curse in Israeli culture: childlessness.

Feeling too sinful to be accepted by God? Feeling too imperfect? God’s grace will take you as you are—imperfectly acceptable.

The Power of Loving Unconditionally

Colossians 3:21

By expressing unconditional love, parents are empowered to raise their children to be confident adults. When we accept each child’s unique nature, we lay a foundation for good self-esteem. Often, we unintentionally inflict damage on a young one’s ego by confusing actions with personhood—a child might hear criticism as “I’m bad” rather than “my behavior was wrong.” Children need parental guidance and discipline, but these must be wrapped in actions and language that convey love.

The alternative—correction aimed at making a child into the adult Mom or Dad desires (instead of the one God intends)—promotes a rebellious spirit. Think of the popular child-rearing axiom “Pick your battles” in these terms: “Pick the battles that affect the child’s soul.” Passing fads and weird clothing or hair choices are not worthy battles, whereas issues related to honesty, integrity, and obedience call for a parent’s guidance.

The result of unconditional love and its by-products—self-esteem and obedience—is that children build good relationships. They will be prepared to accept others with the same attitude their parents showed them. This is important because a wounded child will one day struggle to express wholehearted love to a marriage partner or to receive it in return.

Conveying acceptance to a child doesn’t cost money, but it does take time. Parents love their kids through actions and attitudes—namely, taking an interest in a child’s activities, listening intently, and offering encouragement and praise. Do your kids know you love them?

O How He Loves You and Me

“That ye . . . may be able to comprehend with all saints what is the breadth, and length, and depth, and height; And to know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge, that ye might be filled with all the fulness of God.” (Ephesians 3:17-19)

The theme of the inspiring hymn “O the Deep, Deep Love of Jesus” is the infinite love Christ displayed for us through His gracious life, sacrificial death, and victorious resurrection from the grave, followed by His present ministry on our behalf.

O the deep, deep love of Jesus, spread His praise from shore to shore!
How He loveth, ever loveth, changeth never, nevermore!
How He watches o’er His loved ones, died to call them all His own;
How for them He intercedeth, watcheth o’er them from the throne!

His love cannot be earned but was freely extended to us. Even greater than that, it was given when we were sinners by choice and nature. “God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8).

His love for us never fails and never changes: “Jesus Christ the same yesterday, and today, and forever” (Hebrews 13:8). He was willing to die so that our death penalty would be paid and to adopt us into His family. Even now He rejoices over us. “The LORD thy God in the midst of thee is mighty; he will save, he will rejoice over thee with joy; he will rest in his love, he will joy over thee with singing” (Zephaniah 3:17).

He now oversees us from His place at the right hand of His Father, making intercession for us. “Wherefore he is able also to save them to the uttermost that come unto God by him, seeing he ever liveth to make intercession for them” (Hebrews 7:25). Such love is deep indeed. JDM

DOWNLOAD O the Deep, Deep Love of Jesus sheet music

The Lord God is a sun and shield, the Lord will give grace and glory

The Lord God is a sun and shield: the Lord will give grace and glory; no good thing will He with-hold from them that walk uprightly.—Psalm 84:11.

JUST to trust Him, this is all!
Then the day will surely be
Peaceful, whatsoe’er befall,
Bright and blessed, calm and free.

WHAT we should do is really, very often, to be still. And if we want something to make us more active and energetic, watchful and holy, I know but one thought, that is faith,—faith producing love. More trust and confidence and joy in God would be the secret—the only true or successful secret-of more goodness. And this should come quietly and calmly, not in great effort; this kingdom of God has come not with observation. Rest and quiet growth are what you want. JAMES HINTON.

Open wide every avenue of your being to receive the blessed influences your Divine Husbandman may bring to bear upon you. Bask in the sunshine of His love. Drink in of the waters of His goodness. Keep your face upturned to Him. You need make no efforts to grow. But let your efforts instead be all concentrated on this, that you abide in the Vine. HANNAH WHITALL SMITH.

Dost thou believe on the Son of God?

Dost thou believe on the Son of God? John 9:35

Who is he, Lord, that I might believe on him?

The brightness of his glory, and the express image of his person. — The blessed and only Potentate, the King of kings, and Lord of lords; who only hath immortality, dwelling in the light which no man can approach unto; whom no man hath seen, nor can see: to whom be honour and power everlasting. Amen. — I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the ending, saith the Lord, which is, and which was, and which is to come, the Almighty.

Lord, I believe. — I know whom I have believed, and am persuaded that he is able to keep that which I have committed unto him against that day.

Behold, I lay in Sion a chief corner stone, elect, precious: and he that believeth on him shall not be confounded. Unto you therefore which believe he is precious.

John 9:36. Hebrews 1:3. 1 Timothy 6:15,16. Revelation 1:8. John 9:38. 2 Timothy 1:12. 1 Peter 2:6,7.

Abide in me, and I in you

Abide in me, and I in you. John 15:4

I am crucified with Christ; nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.

I know that in me (that is, in my flesh,) dwelleth no good thing: for to will is present with me; but how to perform that which is good I find not. O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death? I thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord. — If Christ be in you, the body is dead because of sin, but the Spirit is life because of righteousness. —If ye continue in the faith grounded and settled, and be not moved away from the hope of the gospel, which ye have heard.

Little children, abide in him; that, when he shall appear, we may have confidence, and not be ashamed before him at his coming. — He that saith he abideth in him ought himself also so to walk, even as he walked.

Galatians 2:20. Romans 7:18,24,25. Romans 8:10. Colossians 1:23. 1 John 2:28. 1 John 2:6.