2 Samuel 21 & Galatians 1

2 Samuel 21

    Now there was a famine in the days of David for three years, year after year. And David sought the face of the LORD. And the LORD said, “There is bloodguilt on Saul and on his house, because he put the Gibeonites to death.” So the king called the Gibeonites and spoke to them. Now the Gibeonites were not of the people of Israel but of the remnant of the Amorites. Although the people of Israel had sworn to spare them, Saul had sought to strike them down in his zeal for the people of Israel and Judah. And David said to the Gibeonites, “What shall I do for you? And how shall I make atonement, that you may bless the heritage of the LORD?” The Gibeonites said to him, “It is not a matter of silver or gold between us and Saul or his house; neither is it for us to put any man to death in Israel.” And he said, “What do you say that I shall do for you?” They said to the king, “The man who consumed us and planned to destroy us, so that we should have no place in all the territory of Israel, let seven of his sons be given to us, so that we may hang them before the LORD at Gibeah of Saul, the chosen of the LORD.” And the king said, “I will give them.”

    But the king spared Mephibosheth, the son of Saul's son Jonathan, because of the oath of the LORD that was between them, between David and Jonathan the son of Saul. The king took the two sons of Rizpah the daughter of Aiah, whom she bore to Saul, Armoni and Mephibosheth; and the five sons of Merab the daughter of Saul, whom she bore to Adriel the son of Barzillai the Meholathite; and he gave them into the hands of the Gibeonites, and they hanged them on the mountain before the LORD, and the seven of them perished together. They were put to death in the first days of harvest, at the beginning of barley harvest.

    Then Rizpah the daughter of Aiah took sackcloth and spread it for herself on the rock, from the beginning of harvest until rain fell upon them from the heavens. And she did not allow the birds of the air to come upon them by day, or the beasts of the field by night. When David was told what Rizpah the daughter of Aiah, the concubine of Saul, had done, David went and took the bones of Saul and the bones of his son Jonathan from the men of Jabesh-gilead, who had stolen them from the public square of Beth-shan, where the Philistines had hanged them, on the day the Philistines killed Saul on Gilboa. And he brought up from there the bones of Saul and the bones of his son Jonathan; and they gathered the bones of those who were hanged. And they buried the bones of Saul and his son Jonathan in the land of Benjamin in Zela, in the tomb of Kish his father. And they did all that the king commanded. And after that God responded to the plea for the land.

    There was war again between the Philistines and Israel, and David went down together with his servants, and they fought against the Philistines. And David grew weary. And Ishbi-benob, one of the descendants of the giants, whose spear weighed three hundred shekels of bronze, and who was armed with a new sword, thought to kill David. But Abishai the son of Zeruiah came to his aid and attacked the Philistine and killed him. Then David's men swore to him, “You shall no longer go out with us to battle, lest you quench the lamp of Israel.”

    After this there was again war with the Philistines at Gob. Then Sibbecai the Hushathite struck down Saph, who was one of the descendants of the giants. And there was again war with the Philistines at Gob, and Elhanan the son of Jaare-oregim, the Bethlehemite, struck down Goliath the Gittite, the shaft of whose spear was like a weaver's beam. And there was again war at Gath, where there was a man of great stature, who had six fingers on each hand, and six toes on each foot, twenty-four in number, and he also was descended from the giants. And when he taunted Israel, Jonathan the son of Shimei, David's brother, struck him down. These four were descended from the giants in Gath, and they fell by the hand of David and by the hand of his servants.

(2 Samuel 21 ESV)

Galatians 1

    Paul, an apostle—not from men nor through man, but through Jesus Christ and God the Father, who raised him from the dead—and all the brothers who are with me,

    To the churches of Galatia:

    Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ, who gave himself for our sins to deliver us from the present evil age, according to the will of our God and Father, to whom be the glory forever and ever. Amen.

    I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting him who called you in the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel—not that there is another one, but there are some who trouble you and want to distort the gospel of Christ. But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach to you a gospel contrary to the one we preached to you, let him be accursed. As we have said before, so now I say again: If anyone is preaching to you a gospel contrary to the one you received, let him be accursed.

    For am I now seeking the approval of man, or of God? Or am I trying to please man? If I were still trying to please man, I would not be a servant of Christ.

    For I would have you know, brothers, that the gospel that was preached by me is not man's gospel. For I did not receive it from any man, nor was I taught it, but I received it through a revelation of Jesus Christ. For you have heard of my former life in Judaism, how I persecuted the church of God violently and tried to destroy it. And I was advancing in Judaism beyond many of my own age among my people, so extremely zealous was I for the traditions of my fathers. But when he who had set me apart before I was born, and who called me by his grace, was pleased to reveal his Son to me, in order that I might preach him among the Gentiles, I did not immediately consult with anyone; nor did I go up to Jerusalem to those who were apostles before me, but I went away into Arabia, and returned again to Damascus.

    Then after three years I went up to Jerusalem to visit Cephas and remained with him fifteen days. But I saw none of the other apostles except James the Lord's brother. (In what I am writing to you, before God, I do not lie!) Then I went into the regions of Syria and Cilicia. And I was still unknown in person to the churches of Judea that are in Christ. They only were hearing it said, “He who used to persecute us is now preaching the faith he once tried to destroy.” And they glorified God because of me.

(Galatians 1 ESV)

Something to Consider

Galatians 1: Paul’s personal testimony provides his critics with powerful evidence concerning the authority of his message. But perhaps more importantly, Paul’s testimony also provides us with a powerful example concerning the nature of his message as well. In hearing his testimony, we can make three strong observations about the nature of the gospel message that he preached. 

Christ isn’t calling us into a religion.

Throughout this letter, we come to realize that those who are distorting the gospel are those who are teaching that salvation is found in Christ and moral obedience to the Old Testament Laws. But here Paul is saying, “Listen, I’ve been there done that. I was at the top of all religious schooling. I was rigorously upholding all the religious traditions. I was even passionately persecuting those who seemed to be compromising the customs of our religion. It doesn’t work. You cannot please God through your religious performance. Instead, I’ve met a Man who has called me out of religion. He’s made it plain to me that salvation is by God’s grace through faith alone. Not faith plus religion.”

How is Christ able to call us out of religion and call us by grace instead? 

Because Christ fulfilled all the requirements of religion for us. It’s just like He said in Matthew 5, “I haven’t come to abolish the religious requirements. I’ve come to fulfill them.” Christ has fulfilled religion and replaced it with Himself. 

Christ isn’t calling us based on our resume.

Paul had been devoting his life to fighting against the same gospel he was now preaching. He rejected Christ because He felt like everything about Him was a lie and even worse was blasphemy. He was hunting and killing Christians. Paul’s resume wasn’t necessarily Christ-worthy, and yet Christ still chose to call him by His grace and use Him for His purposes. God doesn’t love us because we’ve done anything worthy of His love. We do not and can not earn God’s love and acceptance. God loves us simply because He freely chooses to love us. 

How is Christ able to secure this kind of love for us who don’t deserve it?

Because at the cross, Christ replaced our resume with His own. He took on our record of imperfections and sin and substituted it with His own record of perfection and righteousness. Christ secures God’s love for us by making us worthy of such love.

Christ is calling us into a relationship.

Paul’s big argument is that his message about Christ is not something that he was simply taught or learned. It was revealed to him by Christ Himself. It went beyond an intellectual understanding of Christ, and was something he actually experienced. 

Christ has called us to more than just an intellectual understanding of who He is. There’s an experiential aspect to true Christian faith. There’s a personal sense and experience of a real relationship with Christ. A true Christian experiences his theology. He experiences what He believes to be true about God. And the true Christian knows that with this experience comes the responsibility to reveal Christ to others as well. 

Christ calls us out of religious performance, Christ makes us worthy of this calling and Christ calls us into a relationship with God. This is the heart of what it means to be a Christian, and this is the very essence of Paul’s gospel message. This is a message from God, not simply a message of men. When we embrace this truth about God, we embrace a new relationship with the God who has revealed this truth about Himself.