“Did you think that the missionary path was all glory? Then you have not read of God’s greatest Messenger to earth, who sat and wept of Jerusalem, crying out, ‘I would…but ye would not.’”

Isobel Kuhn

TODAY’S READING: 2 Samuel 8–9; 1 Chronicles 18

Chronicles is the G-rated version of David’s life. Written by priests who were concerned to show David in the best possible light, Chronicles makes no mention of Bathsheba, the civil war with Absalom, or the fact that David slaughtered two thirds of the Moabite army he captured (2 Sam. 8:2). The record of David’s life in 1 and 2 Samuel is for the more mature reader. David came to the throne when the nation was in jeopardy. Saul’s son Ishbosheth was an uninspiring ruler, cowed by the Philistines who incidentally thought they had David in their back pocket. David disabused them of that notion in quick succession driving the Philistines from Israel (2 Sam. 5), defeating Ammon across the Jordan, Edom to the southeast, and the Aramean (Syrian) kingdoms who stretched from Damascus to beyond the Euphrates. “In typical fashion, though, the biblical history pays scant attention to such feats of arms. Instead, the text focuses on David’s behavior while his armies were off at war—especially on his affair with Bathsheba. This incident and its aftermath forms the heart of what is called the ‘Succession Document’ (2 Sam. 9–1 Kin. 2).”[1] God’s glory among the nations is so easily sullied by our moral laxity at home. May Jesus help us to do nothing, at home or abroad, to divert attention from His mighty deeds among the nations. For if we do, God’s glory will be forgotten and our scandals will get the press.

David’s legacy does include many intentional acts of glorifying Jehovah. He took the shields of gold that belonged to the Syrian kings, the silver and bronze, and dedicated them to the Lord “along with the silver and gold that he had dedicated from all the nations which he had subdued” (2 Sam. 8:11). While David was intentional in not taking what was God’s (gold or glory), he stumbled at taking what belonged to man (i.e. the wife of one of his mighty men). In missionary endeavor we must be doubly on guard for the thief within us all. We tend to be more vigilant to not take credit for what God has done and less careful to give credit to our brothers and sisters for what they have done. Mark the missionaries who never talk of their exploits and always praise their colleagues—they are missionaries after God’s own heart. Remember, the chief sign of a glory thief is to talk much of oneself.

When David’s heart was right, the Lord preserved him wherever he went. In Christ’s service, in missionary labor, it is not centrally about place or location but about God’s glory.  Obviously, we as the body of Christ have the stewardship responsibility to identify the places where the gospel has not gone and focus our attention there. But the accompanying reality is that there are many such places and God is with us wherever as long as He is glorified. Our identity is not inextricably bound to one location or one role. We can lead or follow, remain for forty years in a remote village, or move twelve times in our lifetime of service. What matters is that wherever we go God is glorified; and thus, He preserves us wherever we go. If we are determined to glorify God in the wherever, He will use the whatever for His purposes. He will use us and win victories for us whatever the changing assignment.

Preservation does not mean missions is risk-free or cost-free. Preservation means God’s glory is maintained and His gospel advances no matter the cost. We can’t historically make a case for the total immunity from pain for God’s messengers—the ledger tells the opposite story. What we can know for sure is that when we live in God’s holiness (public and private) and when we glorify Him wherever we go in whatever missional assignment, He wins souls to Himself for His own glory—but there is always risk and cost to the messenger. Mephibosheth mentioned his “dead dog” status when told of David’s proffered kindness (2 Sam. 9:8). Dogs were despised and dead dogs were beyond disgusting. Mephibosheth was indirectly saying: “There is a cost to associate with me. I’m socially despised and disgusting. To honor me is to share in my shame.” This is what makes David’s kindness a missionary lesson. It’s a disgusting shame for the God of glory to come to earth. It’s a disgusting shame for the incarnate Lord to eat with tax collectors, to be loved by prostitutes, and to hang out with Roman soldiers. But that’s what missionaries do. They go to Java and hang out with militant Muslims for the global glory of Jesus.

[1] The Chronological Study Bible. Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 2008. 375.

Prayer Focus: Indonesia (234 UPGs)

Today’s Unreached People Group: Java Pesisir Lor
Population: 36,175,000
Language: Javanese
Primary Religion: Islam
Evangelical: 0.01%
Estimated Workers Needed: 724

[Source: Joshua Project]

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