Jesus also, that he might sanctify the people with his own blood, suffered outside the gate. Therefore, let us go forth to him outside the camp, bearing his reproach. For we have no continuing city here, but we seek one to come.
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Part Two: A Savior
“The rod of the wicked shall not rest upon the lot of the righteous,
lest the righteous put forth their hands unto iniquity.”
The last half of the verse above tells us that the reason God does not allow the wicked to have control over the lives of the righteous is so that the righteous will not “put forth their hands unto iniquity.” One would think that the righteous would never “put forth their hands to iniquity”, no matter what the situation. God knows better. He knows our fabric, and the limits of our faith. As mere mortals, we have no strength. Paul confessed as much in Romans 5:6, when he said, “When we were yet without strength, Christ died for the ungodly.”
Every one of God’s children can be put into situations that are too much for our faith. Realizing this, Solomon’s wise friend Agur pleaded with God not to make him destitute in this world, lest he resort to stealing in order to survive (Prov. 30:8—9). Agur understood human nature, in general, but only God knows the limits of faith in each one of us, and He will never allow the wicked to put any of His children in a situation that they are unable to overcome (1Cor. 10:13). That is what David meant when he sang, “The rod of the wicked will not rest upon the lot of the righteous.”
If a child of God ever does find himself in a situation that is too difficult for him to overcome, God always makes a way for him to escape. David’s story gives us two examples of this. In both cases God miraculously made a way for David to escape “putting forth his hand to iniquity”.
In the first instance, young David was on the run from the mad king of Israel, King Saul. Those who were also fleeing from the law gathered to David, so that in time, he had a force of hundreds of desperate men, men who for one reason or another could not return to society. These desperados looked to David as their leader, and all the time they were hiding with David from the law, David refrained those men from stealing the sheep or cattle from nearby landowners, and in fact, protected those landowners from thieves. On one occasion, David and his band grew low on food supplies, and David sent messengers to a local wealthy landowner named Nabal to humbly ask for a little help. But Nabal treated David’s messengers with great contempt and sent them away with nothing.
David himself would have overlooked this cruelty and trusted God, but not the band of renegades that were with him. They wanted vengeance, and David’s faith was overwhelmed by the power of their wrath. He found himself leading them to Nabal’s property to plunder it, and in all likelihood, to kill Nabal. This was not what was in David’s heart. David had a heart for God, but this situation was one of life and death for all of David’s men, and David lacked the spiritual strength to turn the tide of his followers’ fury. He needed God to save him from doing what he was about to do. And God sent Abigail, Nabal’s godly wife, to do it.
Abigail, upon hearing how Nabal had treated David’s messengers, knew what David’s men would probably do next, and she commanded her servants to gather food quickly, and in abundance. Then she hurriedly led those servants out to meet David with the food she had gathered. When David, with his little army behind him, met Abigail, she fell at his feet and begged him to receive her gifts. But more importantly, she offered David and his comrades some very wise counsel, warning David that if he avenged himself instead of trusting God to avenge him, his heart would be troubled for the rest of his life. David rejoiced at Abigail’s coming and sincerely thanked her for rescuing him from what he had been about to do. Later, by the way, after God did avenge David and killed Nabal, David took Abigail as his wife. He obviously wanted such a wise counselor to stay close to him.
In another instance, when the rod of the wicked rested on David’s lot, he found himself traveling with the Philistines to do battle against Israel. David saw no way out. He did not want to fight against king Saul; he loved him. And David loved Saul’s son Jonathan even more. But what else could he do in the situation he was in? He was trapped. But God again made a way. He turned the hearts of the Philistine generals against David as they traveled toward the battle, and they demanded that the Philistine king order David and his men to leave the army at once. David protested, but the king insisted, and so, David once again was saved from sin by the God he trusted.
Jesus’ title, “Savior” means everything for us. He saved us in the sense of rescuing us from sin. He is saving us in the sense of keeping us from sin by his power as we walk through this life. And he will save us from eternal damnation at the Final Judgment. But another part of his being a Savior to us is his power to keep “the rod of the wicked from resting on our lot”, lest we turn to some form of iniquity. He will not allow any situation to arise in our lives than we are unable to bear. He is good. His mercy is above the clouds. And his love not only covers a multitude of sin; it keeps us from situations that would compel us to commit sin. There is no excuse for sin for those who are in Christ because he is so great a Savior. We face only the trials that we can overcome because he is a faithful watchman over our souls.