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forgiveness Psalms restoration Uncategorized

After Cuts Become Scars

Neal Pollard

David was broken and battered by sin. He would feel its effects from his public life to his private life for the rest of his life. In the aftermath of his actions with Bathsheba and the subsequent cover-up, the wounds of sin left visible scars. Nathan’s accusing words perhaps ringing in his ears, he sits down to pen by inspiration the haunting, but hopeful, 51st Psalm. We often dwell more on the first part, the multifaceted description of sin and the more beautiful pictures of forgiveness. But, to me, the most beautiful part of the psalm is when David starts using the word “then.”

Satan would love for sin to defeat us. He would like the guilt to overwhelm us, to keep us from the restoration David longs for here. David is speaking prospectively, asking for a clean heart, renewed spirit, spiritual fellowship, joy and sustenance from God. But, he asks for it for a purpose. In doing so, he shows us what God wants to do with us and for us after our “cuts” become “scars.”

After the cuts become scars…

REACH OUT TO THE LOST (Psalm 51:13). On the other side of repentance, David was anxious to help others reeling from their spiritual wounds. As we overcome through God’s help, we can be a tool in His hand to relate to and rescue others struggling just like we did. It would be far better to have never gone down the road of sin, but having truly come back we can understand the desperate, dark place transgressors are walking. 

BE A FAITHFUL WORSHIPPER (Psalm 51:14). David, the master musician, had lost his song in the far country. He yearned for joyful song. Worship loses its power and purity in our lives when we are living in darkness. We feel hypocritical and empty, just going through the motions. But, back in His glorious light, we can experience that lifted up feeling once more. David shows us the blessing of restoration, a spirit renewed to enjoy further renewal in faithful worship.

GIVE GOD SACRIFICES (Psalm 51:15-17). David mentions the sacrifice of praise, a broken spirit, a broken and a contrite heart. It is obvious, from context, that these sacrifices would reveal themselves in his service to God and to others. This is not merely guilt-driven service, an effort to make amends for the evil influence of his sin. Having been made whole, David has a clarity of purpose that appreciates better what God wants from him. We can be fruitful and useful to Him, scars and all. 

ACCEPT GOD’S DELIGHT (Psalm 51:18-19). How many times did David relive those moments from the rooftop to the prophet’s visit? How often did he wish he could just go back and undo it all? How long did he wrestle with accepting God’s forgiveness and wondering if God could take him back? He shows an appreciation for the prospect of God’s delight. He rightly feels responsible for others, and he wants to lead them to do what’s right. But, I love what he anticipates. He knows God will be delighted with the offering.  Did you know that? Did you know that God can delight in you again, when you bring him your sin-scarred life and offer your righteous sacrifices? He doesn’t want to discard you. He wants to delight in you!

It must have continued to be hard for David. He had reminders everywhere. He could not undo his past. But, he did the right thing. Having dealt with his past, he focused on the present and looked to the future. That’s what God wants us to do after our cuts become scars!

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Old Testament prophet Uncategorized

THE NON-LITERARY PROPHETS: GAD

Neal Pollard

There are several prophets whose writings, by the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, make up part of the Old Testament canon. We often refer to them as the Major Prophets (Isaiah-Daniel) and the Minor Prophets (Hosea-Malachi). In addition, there is a biblical sense in which the remaining Old Testament writers would be rightly called prophets (from Moses to Samuel, but also including those who lived thereafter as they wrote by inspiration). Then, there are prophets whose labors are recorded by these writing prophets. Some we know very well: Elijah, Elisha, and Micaiah, for example. But, there are others whose works either take up less space in the inspired canon or whose work is lesser known. Let us look more deeply at some of these other, more unsung heroes, starting with the prophet Gad.

His Background

Nothing is said about where Gad is from, but it’s an educated guess to say it might be the tribe of Gad or perhaps he was from the Valley of Gad (cf. 2 Sam. 24:5). However, without that fact disclosed, that’s a mere conjecture. We do not know when he began his work as prophet, but the first mention of him is during Saul’s relentless hunt for David (1 Sam. 22:5). 

His Service

He is referred to as “David’s seer,” sometimes alongside Nathan his prophet and Samuel his seer (1 Chron. 29:29; 2 Chron. 29:25). He was quite a versatile man of God, a fact succinctly and well put by J.R. Dummalow: “He became the king’s seer after David was king (2S 24:11); he rebuked David for the sin of numbering Israel; and after David’s death, he wrote a history of that monarch’s reign (1C 29:29)” (193). So, he had the courage to rebuke the king when it was warranted, though his loyalty to him seems very clear. He appears to have been God’s man most of all.

His Value

  • His work was respected. When he told David to leave the stronghold, David did it (1 Sam. 22:5). David pleaded with Gad after the king had sinned (2 Sam. 24:14). He listened to Gad’s instructions for how to show fruits of repentance (2 Sam. 24:18ff). The respect was not derived from his wealth, power, education, looks, or worldly influence. The text does not even mention them. It was the work and the way Gad conducted it. So, the respect people have for us should come from the same place it did for Gad. We shouldn’t have to command or demand it. As we follow God faithfully, others will follow us (cf. 1 Cor. 11:1). 
  • His work was God-ordained. Gad’s authority derived from its source. He spoke in the name of the Lord (1 Chron. 21:19). He spoke with a “thus says the Lord” (1 Chron. 21:11). He spoke, “just as the Lord had commanded” (2 Sam. 24:19). God’s messengers’ clout and credibility is intrinsically connected to its God-ordained nature!
  • His work was versatile. He helped to strengthen the worship of God’s people (2 Chron. 29:25). He preached (2 Sam. 24:19). He ministered (2 Sam. 24:11ff). He wrote (1 Chron. 29:29). He was multi-talented, and he used his resources to God’s glory. That’s the challenge for us today (cf. Mat. 25:14-30), to use all God gives us to promote His work.
luca-giordano-king-david-reproached-by-the-prophet-gad
Oil painting of the depiction of Gad addressing David (Luca Giordano, Italian, 1634-1705)