There were many different reactions to the claims of Christ. Some were convinced, some contrary, some confused, and others hostile. Not much has changed today.
2 Samuel 17 & 18
2 Samuel 17 & 18:
A man’s pride will bring him low
Here we have the death of Absalom as God puts down the rebellion against David. Absalom got his head caught in a great oak tree as he passed under it on his mule. Many believe that it was his beautiful flowing hair that got caught in the tree. Remember that his hair had been a source of great pride to him. So much so that when he was forced to cut it once a year, he even weighed what he cut off (2 Sam. 14.26). Proverbs 29.23 says, “A man’s pride will bring him low, but the humble in spirit will retain honor.”
But Absalom’s hair was only an outward manifestation of a bigger issue with pride. It was pride that made him think he could take matters into his own hands by killing his half brother Ammon and then rebelling against his father. And while David certainly had responsibility in the state of affairs that led to this rebellion and heartache, he ultimately trusted God’s sovereignty and trusted Him to work it out as He saw fit.
How unconfessed sin affects your prayers
Verse 18, “If I regard iniquity in my heart, The Lord will not hear.” Sin that is not confessed and repented of, will hinder our prayers! It’s not enough to “admit” we have sin. Repentance means a change of heart that leads to a change in actions!
Cities without walls
Verse 32, “He who is slow to anger is better than the mighty, and he who rules his spirit than he who takes a city.” Proverbs 25.28 says, “Whoever has no rule over his own spirit is like a city broken down, without walls.”
In the ancient world, there was no “9-1-1” to call. Part of their natural defenses involved building walls around their cities where they could dwell with greater safety. These two proverbs taken together teach us that when we give in to our emotions and let them rule our lives, we are open to an enemy coming in and conquering us. Enemies like sinful anger, unforgiveness and bitterness can do more destruction that any human enemy ever could. On the other hand, one who controls the passion of anger and other strong emotions and deals with them biblically has greater strength than any military leader.
Reactions to the claims of Christ
John MacArthur points out in his Daily Bible that this passage “catalogues the different reactions of people to Jesus’ claims.” We still see the same categories today.
First those who are “convinced” of the truthfulness of His claims—faithful believers. Verses 40-41a, “Therefore many from the crowd, when they heard this saying, said, ‘Truly this is the Prophet.’ Others said, ‘This is the Christ.'” Part of the meaning of the words “faith” and “faithful” includes the idea of “unquestioning belief or loyalty.”
Second, the “contrary,” those who find something wrong with everything. Verses 41b-42, “But some said, ‘Will the Christ come out of Galilee? Has not the Scripture said that the Christ comes from the seed of David and from the town of Bethlehem, where David was?'”
“Contrary” people are still around. “All the pastor wants is your money.” “Churches are full of hypocrites.” “The Bible was just written by a bunch of men.” And the list goes on.
Third, the “hostile,” we’ve all met them, they don’t just not believe or not agree with you, they are prepared to go on the attack where the things of God are concerned. Verse 44, “Now some of them wanted to take Him …” There is a move today in our country, and it’s growing stronger, to make speaking biblical truth a crime. There are those, for instance, who would love to see anyone who speaks out against homosexuality or abortion arrested for what they consider hate crimes.
Fourth, the “confused,” verses 45-46, “Then the officers came to the chief priests and Pharisees, who said to them, ‘Why have you not brought Him?’ The officers answered, ‘No man ever spoke like this Man!'” These men had been sent to arrest him, but when they went they didn’t know what to do because they saw something about him they didn’t understand. The Pharisees challenged them by saying, “Are you also deceived?”
Many people are confused today. They’ve seen just enough truth to think there might be something to it, but have not made the choice to believe. Often these people fear man more than God. They may be afraid to speak up or seek out the truth because of what people will think. Proverbs 29.25 says, “The fear of man brings a snare, but whoever trusts in the LORD shall be safe.”
There is a fifth group, too, the “religious authorities,” we might call them the “religious establishment.” These people are often more concerned about maintaining their position and authority than in being a true follower of Christ or in seeking biblical truth. These people respond in the complete opposite way from John the Baptist, who said, “He must increase, but I must decrease” (Jn. 3.30).
What about you? Questions to ponder or journal:
So where are you? I assume you are part of the “convinced,” but how well is your life reflecting that fact? Are you demonstrating unquestioning belief in and unswerving loyalty to your King? Or do you do so only at church where it’s convenient and won’t upset anyone?
Or are you confused, contrary, even hostile to the things of God?
Lord, help us to respond to Your claims, Your Word, Your grace in a way that would be pleasing to You and bring glory to Your Name … in the name of Your Son … amen.