Week 21: Fall and Rise

by Justin Lau

We talk about the rise and fall of kings, the natural trajectory of many a ruler throughout history. This week’s reading contains an interesting parallel between David in 2 Samuel and Jesus in Mark: a hopeless fall, followed by a victorious rise.

David’s son, Absalom, usurps the throne, and you know it’s serious when David has to up and flee to save his life. Can you imagine how heartbroken he must have been? How betrayed he felt, how hopeless it seemed? This wasn’t how things were meant to play out!

Jesus, similarly, finds himself betrayed, abandoned and sentenced to death. He is falsely condemned, flogged, spat on, mocked, taunted. He quotes Psalm 22, crying out in desperation: ‘My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?’ (Mark 15:34) All is lost.

What marvels me is their ultimate trust in God, even in—especially in—the face of insults and hardships. Even when Jesus is mocked, he keeps quiet. Even when David is cursed, he doesn’t retaliate, instead saying, ‘Let him alone, and let him curse; […] It may be that the LORD will look on my distress…’ (2 Sam. 16:11–12) What restraint! Instead of taking matters into their own hands, they entrust everything to God.

They were right to do so. All is not lost. David regains the throne; Jesus is resurrected. But their righteousness doesn’t stop there—they exemplify such mercy to their enemies. David forgives Shimei who cursed him. Jesus forgives all those (including us) who mocked and crucified Him.

What a convicting challenge! We often struggle to love our enemies, let alone our own brothers and sisters in Christ. 1 John continually emphasises that if we do not love our brothers or sisters, we are ‘murderers’ (3:15) and ‘still in the darkness.’ (2:9) Ouch.

Brothers and sisters, we must take God’s commandment to love one another seriously. Let us follow the example of David and Jesus, to show love, mercy and forgiveness even in—especially in!—the face of insults and hardships.

Qs

  • How do you instinctively respond to insults, difficulties and/or hardships?
  • How easy/difficult is it for you to trust in God when things seem hopeless?
  • Does forgiveness come naturally to you? Do you forgive only those you like?
  • Is there anyone you haven’t shown love and mercy to and need to reconcile with?