Look at this little face.

Jonah for blogIt breaks my heart to discipline the owner of that little face.  Our son, Jonah, has a personality that matches his smile: charming, sweet, and just a little mischievous.

Yet, when he decides to step outside the boundaries Patty and I have established, we are not parenting well if we don’t discipline.  Should we forgo punishment, he’s left with two conclusions.  First, this boundary isn’t really “the edge”.  Second, he can be unruly.   His mother and I are not willing to accept either conclusion.

We’ve all seen what happens when these two conclusions of a child actually match reality.  And we’ve probably seen what happens to those children when they grow up as adults with those conclusions.  Therefore, we expect parents to do something when they are young.

Should we be surprised when our Heavenly Father does something too?

The Psalmist, Ethan, picks up in Psalm 89:38-45: 

But you have rejected, you have spurned,
you have been very angry with your anointed one.
You have renounced the covenant with your servant
and have defiled his crown in the dust.
You have broken through all his walls
and reduced his strongholds to ruins.
All who pass by have plundered him;
he has become the scorn of his neighbors.
You have exalted the right hand of his foes;
you have made all his enemies rejoice.
Indeed, you have turned back the edge of his sword
and have not supported him in battle.
You have put an end to his splendor
and cast his throne to the ground.
You have cut short the days of his youth;
you have covered him with a mantle of shame.

We may not know the exact historical context of this complaint (probably the fall of Jerusalem in 587 B.C. to Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon), but we do know this: this believer in the Lord feels like God has thrown away His covenant with David by siding with their enemies.  In light of what we discovered two weeks ago (the preceding verses) about God’s covenants, this is a pretty BIG problem for the author and us.

If God loved David so much, why did his house, throne, and crown get thrown aside in humiliation and conquest?  This is crucial, dear Christian, that you understand this answer!

The terms of the covenant God made with David made the Lord’s actions completely within His rights—it was the only just thing God could do.  It was the same Lord declaring blessings for the lineage of David also declaring punishment if his lineage turned away from their commitments to the covenant.

Through the prophet Nathan, the Lord told David, “I will be his father, and he will be my son. When he does wrong, I will punish him with a rod wielded by men, with floggings inflicted by human hands.  But my love will never be taken away from him, as I took it away from Saul, whom I removed from before you” (2 Samuel 7:14–15).

Likewise, we’re reminded in the New Testament in Hebrews 12:7, “Endure hardship as discipline; God is treating you as his children. For what children are not disciplined by their father?”

In that same passage in Hebrews, we’re taught that if we’re not disciplined, we’re not really children of God.

I recognize that this may not rank up there with my most highly ranked posts but I believe it’s critical to my mainly American audience.

As those who have been bought by the blood of Jesus Christ, we are freed from sin to leave that life and pursue Him in freedom and life.  Should we choose to return to the vomit of our former lives, we will be whipped by a loving Father who wants far better for us than we feel we deserve.

My brother or sister in Christ, the punishment you might be going through is not a sign of God’s abandonment.  On the contrary, He’s validating you as His child.  Learn the lesson He’s teaching you this time and don’t step in the same poop twice.