Jude is the 3-year-old son of the caretakers at church. He’s as wide-eyed, tow headed, and openhearted as they come. Jude loves to turn over rocks to see what lives under them.
I’ve struggled to appreciate his bug-hunting, as I’m continually replacing the upturned rocks I find, like those on the stone path to the front door or bordering the hydrangeas.
But Jude knows nothing of my labors as yardman. Jude simply loves finding bugs.
So when he gave me a prized rock from the churchyard, I knew it was an honor. His presentation–the shy smile, the shiny eyes with two hands–told me the whole story: I’m loved.
Jude’s rock sits on my porch to remind me that what matters most isn’t tidy. It also reminds me that love is a super power, because Jude’s love changed me. Rather than feel annoyed, the last time I replaced those rocks, I laughed.
This is something like the love in 2 Samuel.
2 Samuel 22
In David’s own words, he tells the story of his rescue from “death traps” and “devil waters” in this chapter. The short story is that David prayed when he was in trouble and God responded.
David’s writing is full of imagery and action. He shows us God “wrapped in a trenchcoat of black rain-clouds,” letting loose his hurricane anger and shaking the earth because David was in danger, 2 Sa 22:2-16, MSG.
That was when God reached down “from sky to sea” and pulled David out of the “ocean of hate” and “enemy chaos” he was drowning in, and stood David in “a wide-open field,” safe and sound, 2 Sa 22:17-20, MSG.
What’s more, David was enabled to beat his enemies with God’s help. Time after time, God empowered him to do what he couldn’t do without him–to win.
God armed David with strength, and then “aimed me in the right direction. Now I run like a deer; I’m king of the mountain…You cleared the ground under me so my footing was firm; when I chased my enemies, I caught them…” 2 Sa 22:33-37. MSG.
Was it because David was righteous that God rescued him?
David confesses that he wasn’t. He needed to repent and clean up his act, and when he did, “God rewrote the text of my life when I opened the book of my heart to his eyes,” 2 Sa 22:21-25, MSG (see end for *note about the NIV).
David wasn’t perfect. He did a lot of things that grieved God. But he didn’t let shame and sorrow swallow him up or harden him. He didn’t turn away from God and try to put himself back together when he messed up. He kept bringing his heart to God, and God kept putting him together, “God made my life complete when I placed all the pieces before him,” 2 Sa 22:21-24, MSG.
All of this is good news for me this morning, but the part that touches me most is this, “…he rescued me because he delighted in me,” 2 Sa 22:20, NIV.
It wasn’t because David deserved it that God helped him. It was because of God’s delight in him. It was because of who God was, not because of who David was. It was because of God’s undeserved love.
The goal of the Christian life isn’t to be good enough to deserve God’s love. The goal is to enjoy God and his delight in us. We can never be good enough to deserve it, but we can enjoy it just as we are.
David enjoyed God’s delight. He got lost in the wonder of God as he praised him all over this chapter, “God is bedrock under my feet, the castle in which I live, my rescuing knight,” 2 Sa 22:2, MSG. God is the Hero David worships.
The only basis we have for a relationship with God is the same one David had: God chooses to love us. God calls us beloved. And it’s soul-stirring, heart-pounding news for sure, because who can ever be good enough to deserve God’s love?
And the good news is, I don’t have to be.
This is what I’m looking for when I read God’s words–the ones that remind me how much I’m loved, just because, 2 Sa 22:20, NIV; 51, MSG.
God, I keep wanting to be the hero of my own story. I want to be good enough to deserve you. I want to prove how much I love you. And I think, deep down, I want to beat everyone else while I’m doing it. It’s an ugly business when I scratch below the surface.
But I see a glimpse of your love this morning in David’s story, and I’m in awe of it. I want to enjoy your delight and sincerely worship, where I don’t strive for glory but am lost in your wonder.
Please forgive me, even now, for wanting to write about this well, wanting to look like I get it more than I really want you. Shake me loose from faking it.
More shaking comes next.
The apostles heard a strong wind of “gale force” and saw flames of fire when the Spirit fell on them at Pentecost. They spoke in languages they hadn’t known before this. People who witnessed it were astonished. Some said they were drunk, Ac 2:1-13, MSG.
But Peter explained, pointing to God’s word and saying that what was happening fulfilled ancient prophecies. And he told the saving story of Jesus, praising God and drawing unbelievers to him as he did it, Ac 2:14-37.
It was a big deal when the Spirit came. Folks noticed. There were unmistakable things to see and hear, feel and say. When the Spirit moved in God’s people, others paid attention and wanted in.
Those who joined up met together daily, prayed and ate, praised and worshipped. And they shared everything they had with one another. It had to be a shocking thing to hear about, let alone experience, Ac 2:43-47.
The Spirit’s impact on us should look like this. It should be obvious. It should point others to Jesus. It should produce love in us so that our words and wallets are influenced.
Undeserved love transforms, and it comes up again next.
David’s heart “leapt for joy” when it was time to worship with God’s people, and he doesn’t sugarcoat it. He admits it’s a struggle when he admonishes us three times to “get along” and to “live in peace!”
David knows that peace between believers doesn’t come easy. But he’s willing to seek it for the sake of his family and friends and for the sake of God’s reputation, Ps 122:1, 6-9, MSG, NIV.
And he says making peace is for our sake, too. Thanking God and finding peace together as we do it, marks us as God’s people–loyal subjects of the Prince of Peace and lovers of Jesus: “To give thanks in the name of God–this is what it means to be Israel,” Ps 122:4, MSG.
Wrapping up, I see that…
God’s undeserved act of love was sending his Son, Jesus.
Jesus’s undeserved act of love was carrying out God’s plan to rescue us.
Spirit’s undeserved act of love is sharing his power with us, the same power that raised Jesus.
Empowered by God’s Spirit, our undeserved acts of love help bring peace between us.
Undeserved love transforms us because it depends on God to be the Hero. And it calls us into worship. This is what enjoying God’s delight is all about.
Only God’s love changes us.
I’ve got Jude’s rock to remind me.
2 Samuel 22, Acts 2, and Psalm 122 are selected for today in The One Year Bible.
*Note: while the NIV translation seems to suggest the opposite interpretation of 2 Sa 22:21-25–that it was because of David’s righteousness that God helped him–in the context of the entire chapter, it’s clear that David’s focus is on God and his goodness, not on David’s.