Big Spring Herald - - RELIGION -

Amost in­ter­est­ing ti­tle is as­cribed to God by Sa­muel - “The strength of Is­rael” (2 Sa­muel 15:29). Com­men­ta­tors dif­fer widely in their view of its sig­nif­i­cance in this pas­sage. Some of the sug­ges­tions are “The Glory of Is­rael,” “He that gives vic­tory to Is­rael” and the Change­less One of Is­rael.” The last is a ren­der­ing in keep­ing with the thought of du­ra­tion, which is one of the mean­ings of the word. The con­text is the story of Saul’s dis­obe­di­ence in the divine com­mand in spar­ing Agag, and the con­se­quent re­buke by Sa­muel, and in­ti­ma­tion that “the Lord hath rent the king­dom of Is­rael from thee...” Sa­muel pro­ceeds to em­pha­size the ir­re­vo­ca­bil­ity of this judg­ment for “Strength (or chang­less One) of Is­rael will not lie or re­pent...”He is the Eter­nal, the Change­less One. He knows the end from the be­gin­ning; but in the out­work­ing of His eter­nal pur­pose He some­times ap­pears, ac­cord­ing to our hu­man judg­ment to re­pent or change His mind. It is not He who changes but men. He does not deal with any as with au­toma­tions, but ac­cord­ing to their re­sponse to His pur­poses and grace. Saul had his op­por­tu­nity and failed, but He was not de­nied his op­por­tu­nity be­cause God foreknew that he would fail. Be­cause of that fail­ure, how­ever, God “re­pented” that He had set Saul up to be king. He with­drew the high priv­i­lege He had con­ferred upon Saul, but did not “lie or re­pent” in do­ing so. Some­thing of the sor­row of God in the de­fec­tions of

His chil­dren is con­veyed by the word-- a sor­row nonethe­less real be­cause the de­fec­tions are fore­seen and fore­known.

This is an­other of the sev­eral ti­tles which ex­press the sever­ity and good­ness of God qs com­ple­men­tary as­pects of His Char­ac­ter. How com­fort­ing it is to know that the Eter­nal is the Change­less One! But to the way­ward, like Saul, it is an awe­some re­al­iza­tion that He knows be­fore­hand the out­come of all our de­ci­sions and do­ings and has de­ter­mined our des­tiny ac­cord­ingly. Yet in His sever­ity there is good­ness, for all- like Saul- have their op­por­tu­nity. No one is pre­des­tined by God to re­jec­tion. But HE IS NEVER TAKEN BY SUR­PRISE; NEVER CAUSED TO “RE­PENT” AS MAN DOES. HIS TEN­DER GRACE IS RE­VEALED IN THAT HE SEEMS TO RE­PENT. He truly sor­rows in our fail­ings and fail­ures. But even divine grace has its lim­its. There is no es­cape. It is a judg­ment in ac­cord with His Char­ac­ter as the Change­less One. Stern qs that word may seem to the guilty, it is nev­er­the­less the foun­da­tion of eter­nal se­cu­rity; for if His judg­ments were sub­ject to a whim, or to any of the con­sid­er­a­tions which sway our hu­man re­ac­tions to facts and sit­u­a­tions, then we could never be sure of our stand­ing be­fore God. But James de­clared long af­ter­wards, with Him is “no vari­able­ness, nei­ther shad­ows of turn­ing.” De­spite its con­text of judg­ment, there­fore, this ti­tle ha qs its deep­est note the com­fort and as­sur­ance of those who “trust and obey.”

The Lord our Strength.

I pray you have a good week. Un­til next time...

Ralph an­deR­Son

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