Monday Musings for May 15, 2017

Good morning, Musers,

How dare God kill David's child... but let David live!

That is both the title and the essence of today’s question… so you can see where we’re going. Our questioner is pining for the “good old days” — like in the Old Testament where they had God’s law… and where they strictly enforced things like “an eye for an eye — a tooth for a tooth” … and I will confess, in a world where no one will admit to doing anything wrong… or even that wrong exists… that sounds refreshing!

But the problem with any trips back to “the good old days” … is that the good old days never existed! At best, they exist as sanitized memories… but at worst…  mere caricatures of history. So let me ask you: Do you think the law of God worked that way? Do you think the Jewish rulers were running around plucking out eyes and knocking out teeth as a swift (and virtually automatic) response to crime? Or did caution… and dare I say, mercy… find its way into the process?

I think the latter. But today’s questioner wonders why King David was able to murder Uriah… and getting caught at it, no less! … yet not be put to death for that sin. He says that since the law was clear on what the punishment should be for this type of crime, the fact that God did not strike David down means that there is something wrong with the Scripture.

But he also thinks that David’s newborn son was punished instead of David… which electrifies the issue… because, if you ever want to stack the deck of public opinion against God, talk about the times that children died on his watch — let alone at his hand (as occurred in this case) … and even a mature believer will swallow hard.

But when it comes to “doing” the law… and I think this applies to back then as well as to now… we tend to err on the side of caution. But this means that phrases like “swift justice” or “a speedy trial” have no feet. But why is that? After all, we have these laws… so why not get out there and convict some of these people! Let’s get them off the streets… and I mean pronto!

Well… it’s not that easy. The American criminal law system is built upon caution. We assume that people are innocent until they are proven guilty. But we will do well to note that the Old Testament law required that there be credible witnesses, too… so, nothing was automatic. Both systems exercise caution when deciding a person’s future. So, although it is critical to have our facts straight, we must also keep our purposes in view: what are we trying to accomplish in our management of crime? Do we want to destroy criminals or restore them? … because, the jails are filling up either way… and we have a captive audience, so to speak.

God, however, is rich in mercy… but here’s the thing: mercy is only for the guilty… and we have this world where people refuse to admit guilt! So — and pleas notwithstanding — what would we be swift to in our quest for speedy justice? To destruction? … because if not, we need to take a breath.

I’m glad God dragged his feet when it came to me... and every Christian should likewise rejoice. But we should rejoice for each other, too — and this includes rejoicing for David… even at his worst! We should see him as if we were looking at ourselves in the mirror: he sinned, he was punished and God restored him. All sin is loathsome to God… not just murder. And besides… crafting souls takes time.

Enjoy the musing.

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