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Rightly Understanding God’s Word: Whole-Book Context (Part 1 of 2), by Craig S. Keener

James is calling us to keep peace with one another. And if he calls the oppressed not to seek to kill their oppressors, how much more does he summon all of us to love and remain gentle toward those closest to us, even those who are unkind to us? “Resisting the devil” may involve more work than some people think!

3. David’s Judgment in 2 Samuel 12:11

Sometimes we think that David’s punishment ended with his son’s death (12:18). But because David was a leader in God’s household, his behavior affected many others and required strict judgment (12:14); God takes sin very seriously, especially when it leads others to misunderstand his holiness. In 12:11, Nathan prophesies against David judgment from within his household, including the rape of some his wives (as he committed immorality with another man’s wife) by a friend of his, in public. This prophecy provides almost an outline for the rest of 2 Samuel!

In chapter 13, David’s son Amnon rapes his half-sister Tamar. Tamar’s full brother Absalom avenges his sister’s honor by killing Amnon—who also happens to be the brother immediately his elder, meaning that—if Chileab is uninvolved in politics (he is nowhere mentioned)—Absalom is also next in line for the throne by birthright (2 Sam 3:2-3). Absalom returns from exile (ch. 14), and then leads a revolt that nearly destroyed David and his allies (chs. 15-18)—and broke his father’s heart. Absalom slept with his father’s concubines in the sight of Israel (16:21), despite the fact that this was against the law (Lev 20:11). Once this revolt was quelled and David returned to Jerusalem in peace (ch. 19), he had to deal with another revolt in the wake of the previous one, by a Benjamite usurper (ch. 20). By the opening of 1 Kings, the son immediately younger than Absalom is plotting to seize the throne (1 Kgs 1). Though forgiven by God and restored to his throne, David suffered the consequences of his pattern of sin for the rest of his life. This story provides a harsh warning for spiritual leaders today who forget their responsibility to live holy lives.

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Category: Biblical Studies, Winter 2004

About the Author: Craig S. Keener, Ph.D. (Duke University), is F. M. and Ada Thompson Professor of Biblical Studies at Asbury Theological Seminary in Wilmore, Kentucky. He is author of many books, including Miracles: The Credibility of the New Testament Accounts (Baker Academic, 2011), the bestselling IVP Bible Background Commentary: New Testament, The Historical Jesus of the Gospels, Gift and Giver: The Holy Spirit for Today, and commentaries on Acts, Matthew, John, Romans, 1-2 Corinthians, and Revelation. In addition to having written more than seventy academic articles, several booklets and more than 150 popular-level articles, Craig is is the New Testament editor (and author of most New Testament notes) for the The NIV Cultural Backgrounds Study Bible. He is married to Dr. Médine Moussounga Keener, who is from the Republic of Congo, and together they have worked for ethnic reconciliation in North America and Africa. Craig and Médine wrote Impossible Love: The True Story of an African Civil War, Miracles and Hope against All Odds (Chosen, 2016) to share their story. sites.google.com/site/drckeener

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