Archive for March, 2016

Hand of Jesus4

THE HANDS OF GRACE

The world is changed by the HANDS of the Lord,

Which reach out from the handbook of ages,

Where Hands of His grace have planned and penned the stages

For undeserving hands in need of life restored,

The hand-wrought work of God; unearned reward,

Handpicked, and free at last from sins cruel wages.

Yet mishandled grace has smudged most its pages.

 

THE HANDS OF MAN 

So God’s pure hands now hold a two-edged sword,

While sinful, errant hands hold nought but shame,

In need of His abiding, guiding hand.

With things so out of hand, we must share blame.

We take the law into our hands and stand

Doomed, death’s wages play our hand a losing game,

As hands rebel against His Holy Name

 

THE HANDS OF GOD

Did God throw up His hands at my offence?

Or wash His hands of me until I die?

Or did He force His hand upon me to comply?

In Satan’s hands, my life will not make sense,

God acts with heavy hand and moral sense.

On one hand, He condemns with just resolve.

On the other hand, His love wants to absolve

 

THE HANDS OF SALVATION

I forced God’s hand to judge me. No defence.

The hands of Jesus have for me made room.

Those hands that flung the stars and worlds in space

Became the tiny hands in Mary’s womb.

Hands-on hands, rough and calloused found their place.

Soon nail pierced hands would rise up from the tomb

Those Hands which long to craft my life in grace.

 

His gentle hands restore sight with one touch,

Hands that heal the wounds and scars we bear,

Hands that soften hardened hearts heal with loving care,  

Those hands that feed five thousand offer much,

Servant hands that wash disciple’s feet. Such

Loving hands bless children with a prayer.

His hands broke bread and gave us wine to share,

Hands that wrenched the victory from the devils clutch.

 

Yet Judas would such blameless hands betray

And hand Him up to hands of sinful men,

His hands abandoned, as we turned away.

Pilot would such faultless hands condemn.

He tried to wash his hands of guilt that day,

And blood is also on our hands as it was then.

 

The crowd forced Pilot’s hand to crucify.

The hands of Jesus bore His Cross and our travails.

And into open hands, we drove those cruel nails.

He knew firsthand that He would have to die,

Sin handled, “It is finished” was His cry.

Into His Father’s hands, His spirit sails,

And though His hands are still, His love prevails.  

 

Salvation, paid in full, His hands supply,

He won hands down the victory over death,

And on the day I handed Him my sin,

He handed me forgiveness, peace within.

My hands received new life from Spirit breath.

 

So touch His nail scarred hands, be born again,

Those hands that offer love of unplumbed depth.

He takes your hand, the journey can begin.

 

THE HANDS OF FAITH

The hands of faith are my hands reaching out,

And Jesus is on hand to hear my prayer.

He wants all hands on board, He’s just and fair.

He waits for hands of faith that will not doubt,

Clean hands and hearts of those who are devout.

For faith is not a ‘hand-me-down’ we wear,

Not second hand but born from choice and prayer.

We take hands off, He turns our life about,

 

The clock hands say the day is almost spent.

Salvation is at hand, the time is near.

Faith takes the hand of God with full intent,

Surrendered hands and hearts and ears to hear.

So with clean hands and heart make the ascent

In His eternal hands, there is no fear.

 

THE HANDS OF JESUS

Fingers that flung worlds and stars in space

Became the tiny fingers formed in Mary’s womb,

Then craftsman’s hands, all calloused, shaping wood and stone,

Hands to feed five thousand, and defy the storm,

Hands that seek God’s will to make our hearts His throne.

Hands betrayed, abandoned, lashed and bound,

Forsaken hands, abused and battered, have borne

The sinners price in full. Yes, He alone

Reached out His hands to us, and we are found

And known

So today, as we pray, could you open your hands in front of you and open your heart to Him.

Dear Lord Jesus, I admit to You that I have sin on my hands, and I ask for Your forgiveness, for clean hands and a new start. I believe that when Your hands were nailed to the Cross You died for my sins and rose from the dead.

I hand over my life to You and invite You to come into my heart and life.

Take my hand of faith because I want to trust and follow You as my Lord and Saviour.

I accept the gift of eternal life that you hand to me,

I pray this prayer knowing that now I am in Your hands. Thankyou for welcoming me into Your family.   

In Jesus Name,

Amen.

If you prayed that prayer and meant it, then Jesus will give You a hand in living life to the full, as God intended. And please e-mail me if I can help you live your life for Him.

Pastor Ross

 

These are the hands of Alf Bourne, a 97 year old volunteer Chaplain. Photo by Ross Cochrane using Paint.net

HANDS

The Bible is our HANDBOOK for Salvation

I got to thinking about the Bible being a HAND book. And it struck me that there are a lot of hands that are in its pages.

What are the hands of the handbook of the bible that speak about Easter.

  1. HANDS OF GRACE

The hands of Grace are the hands of God handing us His gift. The Bible says that God hands us the gift of heaven on a platter. We don’t have to work for it with our hands, earn it and we don’t deserve it. It’s given to us by grace as a gift from His hand. “The gift of God is eternal life”

Ephesians 2:8-9 (NLT) says “Salvation is not a reward for the good things we have done” by our hands, “so none of us can boast about it.” 

Eternal life is God’s handiwork, handmade for us, and we are handpicked to receive it.

But there’s a problem taking this gift in hand.

What’s the problem?

The problem is to do with the hands of man

  1. THE HANDS OF MAN

The trouble is that God’s hands are pure, sinless hands.

But the hands of people in the world are sinful hands.

“All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.”

God sought to give the first man and woman, Adam and Eve, a guiding hand

But when Adam and Eve sinned, things got out of hand. They took the law into our own hands rather than live as God intended.

God’s hands are too pure to put up with our sin.

We became enemies of God, and those with sinful hands cannot go to heaven because the “wages of sin is death.”

How could God hand us His love when we turned our hands against Him.

What could be done?

Did God throw up his hands because the situation seemed hopeless? No.

Did He force his hand upon us and make us comply with His will? No.

He had a plan. He wrote it in his handbook and written in His own hand, He tells us about …

  1. THE HANDS OF GOD
  • On one hand – God hates sin and must condemn those who sin.
  • On the other hand – God loves you and me and wants to save us from the hands of the evil one, from condemnation, from going to hell, from a life that is less than He intended.

Make no mistake, God acts with a heavy hand towards our sin. Because of the sin on our hands, it looked like the entire human race was destined to go to hell.

You see, we forced God’s hand and compelled Him to judge our sin. But fortunately, God knew how to handle the problem of sin.

That’s where Jesus’ hands come into the story.

Let’s look at what the handbook says about…

  1. THE HANDS OF JESUS.

Jesus also wanted to have a hand in the human race.

The hands of Jesus that created the world became the tiny hands formed in Mary’s womb. He became a human being and lived among us.

He wants to have a hand in your life and my life today because Jesus is a hands-on kind of person

The rough, calloused craftsman’s hands of a village carpenter, working hands that gripped lumber with bare-handed fingers, removed splinters, shaped timber and sanded the rough edges are the hands that want to shape and craft our lives today.

Those strong, calloused but gentle hands that could restore sight to the blind with a touch, bring life to the dead, heal deformed hands, and lift those who were lame up from the dust are the same hands that want to heal the wounded places in our lives.

The same compassionate, helping hands that took five loaves and two fish and fed the five thousand; the same servant hands that washed His disciple’s feet; the same loving hands that prayed for little children and blessed them want to touch and change your life forever today.

But what has all this got to do with God’s problem at hand? If we are still condemned by God, how did Jesus’ hands change things?

Well, here’s what happened.

Jesus had the same clean, sinless, pure hands of God

The handbook of the bible says in 1 John 3:5 (NLT) “there is no sin in Him.”

Judas had the blood of Jesus on his hands, but even Judas said, “I have betrayed Innocent blood.”

Pilot declared “I find no fault in Him”

Why is this important?

Only clean, sinless hands can do what Jesus did for us.

Here’s what He did.

It was the time of the Passover and Jesus hands took up bread and wine and told His followers that it was a perpetual picture of His coming sacrifice. On Good Friday, many celebrate communion and remember His words, “Do this in remembrance of Me”.

Why did He say that?

Because He knew that His hands were hands that would be betrayed, abandoned, lashed and bound.

The Handbook says The Son of Man was betrayed into the hands of sinful men. 

Jesus was handed over to the religious leaders and then they handed Him up to be judged by Pilate.

Pilate sought to take his hands-off and to distance himself from judging Jesus.

But the crowds forced his hand and cried out “Crucify Him”.

He didn’t want to have Jesus blood on his hands so he tried to wash his hands of it.

But they took Jesus away to be crucified and the hands of Jesus carried His own Cross.

When the Romans crucified Jesus, they drove nails into His hands. He died for us and paid the price for our sin.

Jesus knew firsthand what it was like to suffer and die. In Luke 23:46 (NLT) it says that on the Cross, “Jesus shouted, “Father, I entrust My spirit into Your hands!” And with those words He breathed His last.” 

They were crucified hands.

The sinners price was borne by those hands in full. “The wages of sin were paid.”

On that day, we handed over our sin and He handed over His forgiveness and we are made right with God. He bore our sin and paid the price of death which leaves our hands free to receive God’s gift of heaven.

He won the victory over sin and death hands down.

But all that will mean nothing to you and me without

  1. THE HANDS OF FAITH

The hands of faith are our hands reaching out to Jesus

Jesus is always on hand to hear our prayer of faith.

That’s what happened with Thomas.

Ten days after the resurrection, Jesus said to Thomas: John 20:27-29 (NLT) “Put your finger here, and look at My hands. Put your hand into the wound in My side. Don’t be faithless any longer. Believe!” “My Lord and my God!” Thomas exclaimed. Then Jesus told him, “You believe because you have seen Me. Blessed are those who believe without seeing Me.” 

Jesus wants all hands on board 2 Peter 3:9 (NLT) says that God “… is being patient for your sake. He does not want anyone to be destroyed, but wants everyone to repent”.

Faith is not a hand-me-down commodity from Christian parents. Every person must make their own choice. It can’t be second hand.

Faith is our choice. We have a free hand. God won’t force your hand.

Faith is getting our hands off the controls of our life and putting our lives in His hands. He will take you by the hand and lead and nurture you in your faith.

In fact, you can do this today if you want to.

The bible says today is the day of salvation. Now is the time. The time is at hand. The hand of the clock is moving. We can’t hold back time.

The question is, will you take hold of His hand today.

Faith is shaking hands with God and getting right with Him.

Faith is putting our hands up and surrendering our lives to Christ.

Faith is raising your hand and saying, Here I am Lord, take me in Your loving hands.

For those who believe in Him, in John 10:28-29 (NLT) He says, “I give them eternal life, and they will never perish. My Father has given them to Me, and He is more powerful than anyone else. No one can snatch them from THE FATHER’S HAND.”

When we are in the hands of God anything is possible.

THE HANDS OF JESUS

Fingers that flung worlds and stars in space

Became the tiny fingers formed in Mary’s womb,

Then craftsman’s hands, all calloused, shaping wood and stone,

Hands to feed five thousand, and defy the storm,

Hands that seek God’s will to make our hearts His throne.

Hands betrayed, abandoned, lashed and bound,

Forsaken hands, abused and battered, have borne

The sinners price in full. Yes, He alone

Reached out His hands to us, and we are found

And known

So today, as we pray, could you just open your hands in front of you and open your heart to Him.

Dear Lord Jesus,

I know that I am a sinner.

I have sinful hands, and I ask for Your forgiveness.

I believe You died for my sins and rose from the dead.

I turn from my sins

and hand over my life to You

I invite You to come into my heart and life.

Take my hand.

I want to trust and follow You

as my Lord and Saviour.

I accept the gift of eternal life

That you hand me

In Your Name.

If you prayed that prayer and meant it, then Jesus will give You a hand in living life to the full, as God intended. Amen.

 

 

Bible 9.jpg

Matthew 18:1-2 – I AM THE GREATEST – part 2

“Perhaps it will be Peter? He has the greatest leadership skills of us all. He was on the mountain.”

“No, I don’t think so. Peter is too unpredictable. One minute Jesus is pleased with him for seeing things from heaven’s perspective and gives him the keys to the authority of heaven (Matthew 16:18) and then the next He rebukes him for seeing things from a human point of view and says ‘Get away from Me, Satan! You are a dangerous trap to Me’ (Matthew 16:23). He’s not the greatest leader. He’s too unstable. Better James or John. They were on the mountain too.”  

“Why ask?” My voice startles them in the shadows of the morning. They didn’t see me here, reading.

“What do you mean?” Who is this guy?

“Why would you ask this question about who is greatest and why argue over it? What prompts you to be talking about being great? Is it your pride or is it your interest in what will happen when Jesus dies or leaves? Are you wondering who will lead you?”

“Who are you?”

“I am just a curious onlooker. But tell me, is your argument about being the greatest prompted by who is spiritual enough to perform miracles or by who would best lead you in overthrowing the Roman government?”

“What are you talking about? Why are you so interested?” Is this guy a Roman spy?

“I’m sitting here reading about your conversation and I’ve got to tell you, it seems a little out there, guys. Random. What’s going on with this ‘Who is the greatest?’ thing? It’s obviously important to you. It’s just that you come across as being so competitive? You seem to raise this topic time and time again” (Matthew 18:3-4; 20:20-28; 23:8-11; Mark. 9:34-37; Luke 9:46-48; 22:24-27).

“You’ve read about us? Where?”

“I’m reading about you now and I need to know if there are degrees of greatness in God’s kingdom? Are you speaking about greatness in the kingdom of God, like having great authority here and now or do you want it in heaven? You seem to assume that there are degrees of greatness (Matthew 18:1). It seems Jesus does too but He looks at it differently.”

“How do you know what Jesus thinks?”

“I’ve been reading ahead, but what I would really like to know is, are you preparing for a takeover of the Roman empire? Do you expect the Messiah to lead you in a revolt? Are you are looking for positions of authority in the new government? Is that the sort of greatness you are after?”

Stunned silence. He must be a Roman spy.

“Do you know what I mean, like who is going to be the commander of His army, who will have the authority to order all the rest around? I’m just saying this because you need to know that it doesn’t work out like that. The Bible maps it out differently.”

“What are you talking about?”

“Well, Romans 12:10 (NLT) says ‘Love each other with genuine affection, and take delight in honouring each other.’ You don’t exactly appear to be honouring each other by arguing over who will be greatest. A lot of people have judged you over this, and I can’t help defend you if I can’t figure you out. I need to know.”

“I’m sorry but what makes you think that our conversation is any of your business.”

“Of course it’s my business. You see, I know that you will turn the world upside down with your influence. What I read about you today helps to change my life. The Lord is continuing to change me as I am open to what He is saying through you. You really are great, but is it your influence that is the greatness you have in mind or do you just come to understand that later?”

“I’m sorry, but we don’t understand anything you are saying.”

“No, it’s me that doesn’t understand you. It’s this argument you were having just now. Are you genuinely inquiring, and putting forth your preferences about who should succeed Jesus, and getting ready to vote, like a democracy? Are you looking to the frontrunners in a presidential race like Peter, James and John or are you all planning to run for office as well?”

“Democracy? Voting? Frontrunners? Presidential race?”

“You do get it that Jesus is going to die, right? You seem reluctant to talk about it, but are you arguing about who will lead you when this happens? (Matthew 17:22). So tell me, is that what this argument is all about or what?”

Bewilderment. Is he going to murder Jesus?

“Come on guys. Don’t go all quiet on me. I know that Jesus told you that He is going to die. I read it in Mark 9:31-32 (NLT). Jesus told you that ‘The Son of Man is going to be betrayed into the hands of His enemies. He will be killed, but three days later He will rise from the dead.’ You remember. You didn’t understand what He was saying, and were afraid to ask Him what He meant.”

“How do you know these things?”

“I’ve been reading about you up until now and also a little ahead. By the way, later, James and John, you are going to request that you have the two highest places in the kingdom, using your Mum as a go-between (Matthew 20:20) and the rest of you will get a little annoyed.”

They look at James and John who look embarrassed. James thinks It sounds like a good idea.

“Come on guys. I just want to know. Be fair. I don’t have a lot of time. I’ve got to go to work, soon. Are you concerned about approval; being acknowledged and admired? Or is it about position, status, prominence, authority and power? Or perhaps it’s wealth?”

“You can’t just presume to read our minds and judge us.”

“I’ve got to tell you, a lot of people think that you are just being selfish and ambitious, proud and competitive and even jealous of each other. In my time, we had this guy called Mohammed Ali. He was a boxer. He used to say, ‘I am the greatest’ and some people pulled him up for bragging and his lack of humility. He would say, ‘It’s not bragging when you can back it up. It’s hard to be humble when you’re this great.”

“Mohammed Ali? I’m sorry, sir, we’ve got to go. The Master is calling us.”

“So He is. Can I catch up with you later?” They do not reply.

Jesus sits down (Mark 9:35 NLT), calls the twelve disciples over to Him, and just as I get ready to close the pages, He invites me as well (and you).

“Before you face the traffic on the way to work,” He says, “I want you to consider something. You have been asking all the wrong questions this morning.”

“But Lord, there is so much speculation about this passage. I just want to get to the facts about what your disciples are thinking when they argue about greatness.”

“None of that is important. Their thoughts are not yours to know. What you need to know is that I have destined you for greatness.”

My heart misses a beat. “Me, Lord. You have got to be kidding?”

“There’s something I want you to think about today, and we will talk more about it when next we meet.”

“Yes, Lord?”

“It is this.” He looks around the whole group. “Whoever wants to be first must take last place and be the servant of everyone else.” 

As I head towards the door, I know that the traffic will be building up and I need to get going or I’ll be late to work.

“Yes Lord, I will think about this. Thanks. I love You. See you soon.” Giving Him a wave, I look back one last time. He is calling a child into their midst, and then I am immersed into the day.

Fist Grunge.jpg

Matthew 18:1 – I AM THE GREATEST

“About this time, after they arrive at Capernaum, the disciples come to Jesus and ask, ‘Who is greatest in the Kingdom of Heaven?’” (Matthew 18:1 and Mark 9:33-35)

Strange, because about this time in Rome they are deciding who is the greatest in a circle crudely marked in a very earthly kingdom.

Some wrap hard leather thongs around their fists and determine to swing with wild abandon until none are left. One smaller man, Archeus adds metal studs to the thongs. As they are led into the Amphitheatre, he is determined to weave and duck the frantic throws and wait to deliver his cutting body blows, scratching and elbowing his way to the finish.

The spectators roar their approval as they enter. Who will be the greatest in this fight to the death, the greatest slave, the greatest trained performer, the most valuable commodity of the day, the one left standing? The marked circle on the floor of the arena will soon be spattered with blood, a brutal ring of death.

There are no rules, other than to stay in the ring. No referee, no rounds, no throwing in the towel. Just a punishing and chaotic series of punching, headbutting, eye-gouging, chokes, and brutally hard throws. If a man goes down or is unconscious for a moment, he will not be shown mercy. There will be no fighters left alive but one, the greatest of all.

After the observances, the fight begins. Archeus does his best to block an opponent’s blows. He desperately wants to run from the ring but the armed gladiators are waiting for such a foolish move. I must be more strategic, slipping, bobbing, countering and angling, finding my targets on the body, weakening my opponents by degrees.

Few are in any way sophisticated with their approach. Their only objective; assaulting their assailants to do serious and permanent bodily harm. Whoever will be greatest will be damaged, but still standing.

Time is embodied in the frenzied Melee of bodies until now only three remain standing. Briefly, they are aware of each other before the two larger men fight. As they struggle with each other, Archeus takes his opportunity to weaken each man with forceful blows to their backs, trying to trip them up, pushing, biting and butting, hitting them with his elbows, and ramming them with his shoulder, striking wildly at times, but he avoids them trying to knee him, kick him or knock him down.

One man succumbs to a massive blow to his head and sinks to the ground. Surprised that he is still alive, Archeus turns to face his final challenge, Gallus, a giant of a man, and he feels the burden of his survival beginning to shift, heavy with fear and sweat. Gallus begins to circle around Archeus, catching his breath. The man he knocked to the ground is regaining consciousness, staggering to his feet and moving unnoticed behind Archeus. Charging towards Archeus, Gallus is screaming as he comes with the anticipation of victory.

Deftly sinking down between his legs, Archeus avoids his blow and hoists the man’s legs with all his strength. The momentum spears Gallus in a high arc towards the ground, but before he does, he crashes heavily into the barely revived man, head to head, with such a violent crunch that it leaves both men unconscious.

There is no prize but a garland, just promoters badgering his owner, and bets on the outcome being finalised. Spectators lose a lot of money gambling over who will be the best fighter of all. None expected it would be Archeus, and he doesn’t recall the acclaim.

Neither does Archeus remember being carried back and laid on a table. A young servant boy is saying “You are the greatest!” as he pours ointment on his wounds, bandages his bleeding hands and washes his face.

“I am not the greatest” he contradicts in an agonising whisper and is greeted with a momentary silence.

“What do you mean you’re not the greatest? You have “Style”. You jabbed your way around the outside, you slugged away at their defences until they were too tired to go on. You are the greatest fighter I have ever seen.”

“I am not the greatest….”

His comment is ignored. “You used strategy and control and method and skill. You were so fast out there.”

“I was only fighting to stay alive.”

“And you did! You got up close and kicked them. You had power and ability out there and waited for the advantage. You were quick and you avoided Dagri’s headlocks. You looked for their mistakes and used it against them.

I couldn’t believe it when you blocked Ansgar and got him off guard and landed that scorching blow to him with your elbow. He didn’t know what happened. Perfect timing. You predicted their punches with the precision of a true gladiator. You are the greatest!”

“You don’t understand…”

“What’s to understand? I saw you out there. You wore them down. They thought you were too small to worry about so they thought they could ignore you. You won without even getting hit. You outmaneuvered them all.”

“I did get hit. I think I have a few broken ribs and ….”

“Did you see Gallus? He had a powerful punch but you weren’t intimidated by his size at all.”

“I was intimidated. I was desperate. I couldn’t get away.”

“But you are fast. I wish I was like you. You are the greatest!”

“I’m not the greatest!” Archeus shouted, “Don’t you see. Brutality doesn’t determine greatness. Being great is not fighting each other to the death. It is letting someone live life to the full. Being the greatest is not some dictatorial tyrant ruling over us. You want to be like me. I want to be like you, boy. If only we could all be like you. The only way to be truly great is to serve others. You are the greatest of all.”

Miles away in Capernaum, Jesus sits down, calls the twelve disciples over to Him, and brings a child into their midst “Whoever wants to be greatest must take the least place and be the servant of everyone else” (Mark 9:35 NLT).

THE HANDS OF JESUS

Posted: March 4, 2016 in Easter, Hands of Jesus
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Hand of Jesus4.jpg

THE HANDS OF JESUS

© by Ross Cochrane

Fingers that flung worlds and stars in space

Became the tiny fingers formed in Mary’s womb,

Then craftsman’s hands, all calloused, shaping wood and stone,

Hands to feed five thousand, and defy the storm,

Hands that seek God’s will to make our hearts His throne.

Hands betrayed, abandoned, lashed and bound,

Forsaken hands, abused and battered, have borne

The sinners price in full. Yes, He alone

Reached out His hands to us, and we are found

And known

 

WHEN THE WOLF HOWLS

Dagger for When the Wolf Howls 

© by Ross Cochrane

Chapter 76

It was some time later that David walked in the King’s Valley and touched the stone that reminded him of his son. It now lies under the rubble of years, but once it stood tall and stark against the sky for all to see. It was called Absalom’s monument because Absalom built it on his way back from Hebron after being declared king. It stood as a reminder to the people of Israel of a handsome young man who hated the authority of his own father, and held bitterness in his heart until it erupted like a cancerous growth and consumed him. It served as a reminder of God’s grace rejected.

Absalom, your pride blinded you, thought David, and now all I have left of you is this symbol of rebellious futility. How easy it is for someone like you to look on the outward appearance. If only you had known that God looks always on the heart.

You were like me in so many ways at various times in my own life; deceptive, stubborn and selfish, but I did not know that you would hold such deep hurt inside for so long against me. Your unrepented sin has festered into the poison of bitterness against the Lord’s anointed, and you have caused me grief I can barely carry.

At this same spot in the King’s Valley Abraham had once met with the king of Sodom: the man of God and a king of Godlessness. Perhaps it is appropriate you chose to build your monument here.

The lion of Judah and the wolf. As king David touched the monument it was as if this man after God’s own heart was touching the stony surface of Absalom’s heart. It seemed that God wept with him for his son and perhaps for all those with a spirit such as this.

 Dagger for When the Wolf Howls

Joab looked at the carvings on the hilt of the Canaanite dagger in his hand. Dedicated to the gods of war as it came from a Philistine kiln, it had once belonged to his brother, Asahel. It had been used by men with vengeance in their hearts to commit murder. The very shape of vengeance, thought Joab, cold, hard and razor sharp. On the handle was a carving of a lion and wolf in mortal combat. In the hands of avenging predators, it had already lain Absalom, Abner and Amnon in their graves.

Amasa, the new general of king David’s army was not on guard as Joab greeted him.

Dagger for When the Wolf Howls

Postscript

Sitting in his favourite chair and looking back over the years that had transpired, he reflected upon David and the Son of David. He had experienced personally the incredible power of the forgiveness of Christ which stood in such stark contrast to the destructive power of bitterness and selfish ambition of Absalom, Joab, Ahithophel, Judas and so many others since king David.

Inspired by the Holy Spirit, he instructed his amanuensis to write words of eternal significance to the Hebrew Church. Such impact they have had upon my life already, he thought, even now as I write them to you who have ears to hear what the Spirit of God is saying to the Church of the living God.

His loud clear, sonorous voice repeated the words that came from heaven’s throne, as his amanuensis inscribed the parchment, in flawless script with his stylus.

“Obey your leaders, and submit yourselves to their authority; for they keep watch as shepherds over your souls, and they will one day give an account to God. Let them do this work to which God has called them with joy and not grief, for this would be very unprofitable for you.”

WHEN THE WOLF HOWLS

 Dagger for When the Wolf Howls

© by Ross Cochrane

Chapter 75

No-one dared to stop Joab. The door was nearly unhinged as he thrust it open and roared at David with the gravelly voice more like that of a war-cry, “Today you have covered this city with shame. Everywhere I go the faces of the warriors who saved your life and the lives of your family are filled with a sense of regret. Your sons and daughters, your wives and your concubines are alive today because of them but it seems that you love your enemies who hate you and use you, and you hate those who proved their love by killing your enemies. I don’t understand you at all. You have shown today that those who serve you mean nothing to you. If Absalom were alive today and all of us were dead, maybe then you would be pleased.”

“Don’t be ridiculous. How am I supposed to feel about the death of my son? What do you expect of me?”

“I expect you to go out to your servants who fought hard to save you today and have some kind things to say to them, instead of heaping guilt upon them. I swear by the Lord, if you do not go out to them now there will not be one man left to stand with you by the time this night is through. You don’t seem to realise that if they leave you now this could be the worst thing that has ever happened to you.”

“All right, Joab! Leave me!” It seemed that the spirit of Absalom still had the power to wrest a kingdom from David’s hand, this time by using his grief.

David came to his senses and despite the ache in his heart, he went out and sat between the inner and outer gate of the city. The news travelled quickly and everyone came to see their king and to share their victory with him.

Many people were already making their way back to Jerusalem. Absalom was dead. They wondered what the future held for them but they could do no more than to return to their homes.

Dagger for When the Wolf Howls

Zadok and Abiathar wasted little time with preliminary greetings but said, “King David has sent word to us. He has told us to speak with you. His message is, ‘Why is it that you are the last to bring your king back to Jerusalem and to his palace. All of Israel waits for you. You are my brothers; bone of my bone and flesh of my flesh. Why then should you be the last ones to take action?’” Relief swept across the elder’s faces as sat together at the gate of Jerusalem, except for Amasa, Shimei and Mephibosheth who were among them.

Zadok continued, “King David also says to you, Amasa, ‘You are my own flesh and blood, my nephew. May God deal with me severely if I do not appoint you to be commander of the army in place of Joab.’” David intended to replace Joab because he had disobeyed him concerning his son, but to place such trust in the man who led the opposing army against him was almost more than these men could comprehend.

Humbly, Amasa gave voice to their thoughts. “What kind of king could forgive in such a way as this? King David bears no malice. He truly is a man after God’s own heart.”

“Perhaps he will find it in his heart to forgive me also.” said Shimei.

A message was sent to the king immediately, inviting him to return.

There were no stones in Shimei’s hands this time as he met king David at the Jordan. “Forgive me, my lord. Please do not remember the wrong I did to you when you left Jerusalem. Please don’t take these things to heart. I know that I have sinned. That’s why I am here. I wanted to be the first to meet with my lord the king.”

Abishai had no sympathy. He said, “This scoundrel deserves to die! He has cursed the Lord’s anointed! What reason do we have for not putting him to death, my lord? What would you have me do with him?”

David spoke directly and firmly to Abishai, “You have also opposed me when you all disobeyed me concerning Absalom. Perhaps the question you should be asking is what will I do with you? Let me make it quite clear that it is not a good idea for you sons of Zeruiah to make mention of the death sentence concerning those who have cursed the Lord’s anointed.”

Looking out at a sea of serious faces, David smiled and said, “Why should any man be put to death in Israel today? This is a day to celebrate! This day I am king over Israel!” There was much cheering and a shout went up that seemed to echo in eternity and down the corridors of time, “Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!”

The king crossed the Jordan with his people. David forgave those who had opposed him such as Amasa, acknowledged those who were disabled such as Mephibosheth, and honoured those who were old like Barzillai, the man who had provided for him in Manahaim.

“Such a king as David will rule with justice.” Barzillai said to his old friend Obed-edom, “It seems that as our king returns, the very presence of God is also returning to Jerusalem with him.”