A Study in Contrast
Last week in our blog we were considering King Asa and what happened when his nation was attacked by the nation of Israel and how he had turned to the king of Syria for help rather than calling on the Lord, as he had previously done. We see in verses 7 –9 of 2 Chronicles 16 the prophet Hanani confronting him for his sinful choice. We read the words of Asa’s response beginning in verse 10, “Asa was angry with the seer because of this; he was so enraged that he put him in prison. At the same time, Asa brutally oppressed some of the people. The events of Asa’s reign, from the beginning to end, are written in the book of Kings of Judah and Israel. In the 39th year of his reign, Asa was afflicted with a disease in his feet. Though his disease was severe, even in his illness he did not seek help from the Lord, but only from the physicians. Then in the 41st year of his reign Asa died and rested with his fathers”, (2 Chron. 16:10-13 NIV). God has never accepted the idea that “the ends justify the means”. When Asa hired King Ben-Hadad to attack Israel, a plan that worked quite well, by the way, he was completely out of the will of God. Instead of simply trusting in the Lord as he had done during the Cushite invasion two chapters earlier, he made his own plan. When he was confronted by the prophet Hanani, he rejected this correction and refused to admit his sin against God. In fact, he threw the prophet in jail and oppressed the people.
Sin really has an amazing way of blinding us to its effects on our life. Asa’s greatest mistake was his failure at missing what God could have done in his life if he had just humbled himself and confessed his sin. His pride ruined a very healthy and godly reign that he had established in following the Lord. What’s more, he didn’t even call out to the Lord even when his foot disease got worse and worse, instead, he trusted in his doctors who were of no help at all. I wonder does his prideful arrogance sound familiar? Can you identify failures in your own life that you continue to rationalize rather than simply admit them to God and accept His forgiveness?
What a contrast we see in King David’s life when he is confronted by the prophet Nathan in 2 Samuel 12. David had sinned grievously against the Lord in his adultery with Bathsheba and working out the murder of Uriah. When Nathan confronts him with a story about a poor man’s only sheep that a rich man stole to feed a visitor, David goes into a rage and demands that this man be put to death (read 2 Samuel 12: 1-6). In verse seven Nathan says to King David, “You are the man!” He then delineates what’s going to happen in David’s life as a result of his sin. David responded very differently than Asa did when he was confronted by the prophet Hanani. He didn’t get angry or imprisoned Nathan or try to justify his actions, he simply stated in verse 13, “I have sinned against the Lord”. I’ve always considered Nathan’s actions very courageous in going before the king and confronting him about his horrible sin. He was really taking matters into his own hands, but he knew the Lord was in it. What he did not know is how David would react. Because David reacted with godly repentance (as seen in Psalms 32,38 and 51) God forgives his sin and restores him into fellowship. Not only did God restore fellowship with David, but He allowed him to continue to reign and rule over the nation of Israel.
It is so critically important how we respond when we are confronted with our sin. Neither Asa nor David was sinless before a holy God, but God’s continued use of them for the furtherance of His work and will be totally based on how they responded when they were confronted in their sin. All of us have this huge tendency to lie to ourselves as it relates to our behavior and the choice of our secret sins. Jeremiah nailed it when he said, “The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can understand it?” (Jer.17:9 NIV). God still provides safeguards against self-deception – first of all, the Word of God, when it is read on a daily basis, should be a mirror that reflects back to us the spiritual needs that we have in our lives. We should not read it as we would a textbook to see if we could pass a test, but rather as a love letter allowing God to speak into our hearts and lives. The second thing I believe each of us is in need of is true friends who know us well enough to call us to task when they see us straying from the Lord. God has also given us His Holy Spirit for the purpose of convicting and drawing us back into a relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ.
It is critically important that we have people in our lives who care enough about us to confront us when they see us going in the wrong direction. I pointed out that David had people in his life who did confront him when he was going in the wrong direction, but we don’t read of anyone in Solomon’s life who had the same authority. That’s why Solomon, though he was at one time the wisest man ever to live, descended into a very evil spiral of sin. But how do we respond when someone calls out something they see in our lives? When you are confronted by someone who cares about you and loves you do you respond more like David or like Asa? Sometimes it’s totally appropriate to take a step back and pray that the Holy Spirit would help us process what we have been confronted with. Remember that the Holy Spirit is given to guide us into God’s truth. I hope my heart will be more like David’s heart in the future when I’m confronted about sin issues in my life. Whose heart would you rather have? David’s or Asa’s? Your future service for Jesus Christ may depend on your answer.
In Christ’s love,
Pastor Rich Sivo