"For thou art an holy people unto the LORD thy God, and the LORD hath chosen thee to be a peculiar people unto himself, above all the nations that are upon the earth." ~ Deuteronomy14:2

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Raising the Standard: Alertness Is Anticipating The Actions Of Those Who Seek To Harm Us

"A prudent man forseeth the evil, and hideth himself: but the simple pass on, and are punished." ~ Proverbs 22:3 Scripture defines a simple person as one who is not aware of wrong steps of action or the consequences that follow. A wise person is one who foresees the evil and prepares himself for it, but the simple go blindly on and suffer the consequences (Proverbs 22:3). In order to be alert to those who seek out our harm, we must be aware of the predictable responses of human nature. We must also know how to apply the principles of Scripture to practical situations. Scripture provides the tragic account of a beautiful girl who was obedient but not alert. Nor did she have an understanding of spiritual truth that was required to protect herself from the treacherous scheming of a wicked young man. People may have hidden motives in seeking assistance. Scripture records a tragic example. A young man requested the help of a beautiful girl. She discovered too late that the one whom she tried to help was motivated by evil desires. Who was she? Tamar.
How Does Scripture Illustrate The Need For Alertness In Anticipating The Actions Of Those Who Seek To Harm Us?
The first signal of danger came in the form of an unusual request. It was given to a beautiful young princess by her father, the king. The request was for her to go to the home of a half brother and bake some cakes for him while he watched her. She could hardly have imagined the danger which this invitation held. Only keen alertness could protect her from the treachery she faced. She dressed in royal apparel and followed the instructions given her by her father. He, too, was unaware of the evil motives of this son. When she arrived at his home, she should have detected a second sign of danger. He watched her with lustful eyes as she prepared to bake the cakes for him. The third warning signal came when he ordered all the servants to leave the room. The two were left alone. There was no righteous reason for him to require everyone to leave. The next request was also inappropriate and should have signaled a flashing red light of danger to this attractive girl. He asked her to bring the cakes she had baked to his bedchamber. When she followed this instruction, she suddenly realized that this man was more sick in morals than in body, but it was too late. He grabbed her and demanded that she become immoral with him. At that moment, only one thing could save her. God had provided clear instructions for what a girl should do if morally attacked. She should cry out to God. Her loud cries would have brought the servants to her rescue. And even more important, by crying out to God she would have prompted a fear of God in this wicked young man. Instead, she tried to reason with him. To her own sorrow, she learned the futility of trying to reason with lust. She also learned what happens when lust is fulfilled --- it turns to hatred. The hatred he now felt for her was greater than the lust that had prompted his vile scheme. After morally attacking her, this wicked young man ordered her to be put out of his house. The door was bolted behind her. By doing so he rejected all further responsibility for her or for his actions. She tore her clothes, threw dust upon her head, and wept as she walked back to her home. The brother of this beautiful princess learned what her half brother had done, and he vowed revenge. Two years later he killed her attacker. Tamar learned that it is not always possible to anticipate the actions of those who seek to harm us. It is for this reason that we must be alert to the wisdom of Scripture and the godly teaching of parents. The girl's father was King David. Years earlier he had faced treacherous enemies who planned to harm him. He escaped death by crying out to God in Psalm 56:9, "When I cry unto thee, then shall my enemies turn back. This I know for God is for me." (From 2 Samuel 13)
Was Tamar Responsible For Amnon's Lustful Desires?
There is not a shred of evidence with which to charge Tamar in tempting her half-brother to his disgraceful act. On the contrary, we read that "Amnon thought it had for him to do anything to her." (21 Samuel 13:2) The proper conduct of Tamar presented such a barrier to satisfying Amnon's lusts that only the "very subtle" Jonadab was able to devise a solution (2 Samuel 13:2-5). As one of the king's daughters who wore the customary long-sleeved robe, Tamar's dress would have been impeccably modest (cf. 2 Samuel 13:12). It is no wonder that "Absalom hated Amnon, because he had forced his sister, Tamar." (2 Samuel 13:22)
Why Was Tamar So Grieved When Amnon Sent Her Away?
After Amnon satisfied his lust, we read that he "hated her exceedingly, so that the hatred wherewith he hated her was greater than the love wherewith he had loved her." (2 Samuel 13:15) Then he told her to leave. When she protested, he had his servant put her out "and bolt the door after her." (2 Samuel 13:17) By this action Amnon falsely accused her of seduction, and this disgrace was even worse than the other. Hence her protest, "This evil in sending me away is greater than the other that thou didst unto me." (2 Samuel 13:16) Had she cried out, Amnon could have been tried for forcible rape as well as incest. With no witnesses, Amnon was free from prosecution and was now trying to save his name at the expense of his sister's (cf. Numbers 35:30; John 8:10).
Could Tamar Have Anticipated And avoided This Disaster By Being More Alert?
When Absalom saw his weeping sister with ashes on her head and a torn dress, all symbols of great distress, he was without doubt as to the cause (2 Samuel 13:19-20). Surely he had been aware of this potential danger. When her father asked her to fulfill Amnon's unusual request, Tamar could have invited her brother Absalom along for protection. When Amnon sent his servants out of the house and invited Tamar into his chamber (2 Samuel 13:9-10), she could have left Amnon's meal there and made her exit with the other men. When Amnon "would not harken unto her voice" (2 Samuel 13:14), she could have cried out for help. Since she was in the heavily populated city of Jerusalem, there is no question that she would have been heard (cf. Deuteronomy 22:24). The pheasant lives in areas where the ground is moist and fertile. Soils of high productivity which produce large amounts of grain also house or propagate large harvests of pheasant. The beautiful ring necked pheasant is omnivorous, feeding on both animal and vegetable substance. Early in its life the young chick's diet is almost exclusively insects. Leading the list of these insects and larvae are crickets and grasshoppers. As the chick matures, it consumes more ripening grain until that becomes the mainstay of its diet.
How Does The Pheasant Illustrate Alertness By Anticipating The Actions Of Those Who Seek To Harm It?
The wiliest, trickiest, most cunning, shrewd and unpredictable critter a hunter and his dog ever had to contend with --- that's the pheasant! There is no trick the bird doesn't know and no limit to what it will do. It executes each elusive maneuver with finesse and ease. Like magic, it seems, the bird can disappear. Every hunter who has pursued this crafty creature can chuckle and tell you one or more stories of how this bird eluded his most sophisticated strategy. Quick on its feet, it can easily outdistance a man. The pheasant will elude a hunter by weaving in and out of corn rows or hedgerows, running well ahead or doubling behind the unsuspecting hunter. With head and tail low to the ground, it sneaks inconspicuously through the low grass. If it sees an opening and an opportunity for a getaway, it lunges forward with head and tail high in the air, running like a racehorse at full gait. At other times, when expedient, a pheasant just sits and waits for the hunter to pass by within feet of it. If for some reason, and it seldom happens, it finds itself cornered, it will explode with a burst of wings straight up into the air. It does this with such a commotion that even an experienced hunter becomes unnerved.
Waking before daybreak, two eager hunters prepared for what they hoped would be a productive day. Each year a friend of theirs made his farm available to them, and the past had always brought good hunting success. This year might be a little different, though. They hadn't been able to come on opening day and the season had begun a week ago. The birds would be skittish and hard to find due to the hunting pressure they had already experienced for a week. The hunters were hopeful, though, that this handicap would be overcome by the keen nose of their year old dog --- a German short haired pointer. During the summer they had occasionally taken the dog to a nearby field to develop its tracking and retrieving abilities. They had been encouraged by its progress, but it was still only a year old and would have to be watched closely. By this time of the year the farmer had plowed all of his fields under except one. This was the field they tackled first since the brush and stalks provided likely cover for pheasant. Before they had a chance to scale the fence, their inexperienced dog slipped underneath the barbed wire and was immediately on the fresh scent of a bird. It was a small field --- no larger than a few acres --- and in no time the dog had chased through the stalks to the other side where it flushed up too cock pheasants, well out of range of the eager hunters' guns. The dog stood gazing as they flew away but quickly forgot them when its keen nose caught the scent of a rabbit. Soon it was off and running again --- past the field, over the hill and out of sight. Frustrated and discouraged the hunters decided to search the field anyway hoping that a bird might still be in hiding. Systematically they strode back and forth and decided to try another spot. After unloading their guns, one hunter gave his weapon to the other to hold while he climbed the fence. As he reached to get a good grip, an explosion of feathers shot up in front of him --- a beautiful cock pheasant. All they could do was look, laugh at their plight and admire the bird. If the hunters didn't know better, they would almost have thought that the pheasant anticipated their actions --- right down to the point of waiting for them to unload their guns --- before it took off.

1 comment:

Glissade said...

You share some very beautiful things in here . . . keep up the great work.