Living as One Who is Forgiven–King David and the Apostle Paul
“These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation [trials and sorrows], but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.” John 16:33
A certainty of life is that we will face many trials and temptations until the Second Coming of Jesus Christ. The life of a believer in God is one of many hardships. Humanity may go through hard times, but biblical stories give us hope because God always brings victory to those who love Him.
There are two men of God in the Bible who experienced the duress of extreme persecution in their earthly lives, King David and the Apostle Paul.
The shepherd boy David began his struggles when he fought off predatory animals to save his sheep. His brothers were jealous when he was anointed by the prophet Samuel to replace King Saul. Once David killed Goliath, Saul became jealous after hearing the song, “…Saul has slain his thousands, and David his tens of thousands” (1 Samuel 18:7). King Saul abused his power and started persecuting David–“Then Saul sent the messengers back to see David, saying, ‘bring him up to me in the bed, that I may kill him” 1 Samuel 19:15.
Once David became king, the men in his palace who were supposed to be loyal to him possessed murderous hatred in their hearts. David openly expressed his dilemma to God: “I am yours; rescue me! For I have worked hard at obeying your commandments. Though the wicked hide along the way to kill me, I will quietly keep my mind on your laws” (Psalm 119:94-95).
In 2 Corinthians chapter 2, the Apostle Paul gives his account of suffering persecution for Christ.
Three times I was beaten with rods; once I was stoned; three times I was shipwrecked; a night and a day I have been in the deep; in journeys often, in perils of waters, in perils of robbers, in perils of my own countrymen, in perils of the Gentiles, in perils in the city, in perils in the wilderness, in perils in the sea, in perils among false brethren; in weariness and toil, in sleeplessness often, in hunger and thirst, in fastings often, in cold and nakedness—besides the other things, what comes upon me daily: my deep concern for all the churches (2 Corinthians 2:25-28).
In the New Living Translation Bible of verse 28, we are given a clearer understanding of Paul’s acknowledgment of his ongoing burdens: “Then, besides all this, I have the daily burden of my concern for all the churches” (2 corinthians 2:28).
Both David and Paul suffered lengthy persecution. Yet there is a significant contrast in their reactions to suffering. Throughout the book of Psalms, David mentions the torment of living with enemies who plotted to kill him. His prayers for God’s Divine Intervention are filled with uncontrollable emotions. “The proud have dug pits for me; I am Yours, save me; Do not leave me to my oppressors; Hold me up and I shall be safe.” [Excerpts from Psalm chapter 119].
Although the Apostle Paul was disciplined with his emotions, he also admits to feeling overwhelmed, “Who is weak without my feeling that weakness? Who is led astray, and I do not burn with anger?” (2 Corinthians 11:29). Yet, he also proclaims God’s Divine Intervention: “When I was in Damascus, the governor under King Aretas kept guards at the city gates to catch me. I had to be lowered in a basket through a window in the city wall to escape from him (2 Corinthians 11:32-33).
It may appear that the apostle Paul possessed greater spiritual strength. Yet, we must remind ourselves that David lived with enemies in his home throughout his reign as king. David not only suffered persecution from disloyal men who served him, but his wayward son Absalom sought to kill his father, and another of his sons, the wicked Adonijah briefly proclaimed himself king of Israel during the terminal illness of his father David. Living with enemies in one’s home requires much courage!
We cannot compare the life of one believer to another. Both men lived with continuous hardships, yet, God prevailed and proved throughout their lives that He loved them.
David’s end of life: “So he died in a good old age, full of days and riches and honor, and Solomon his son reigned in his place” (1 Chronicles 29:28). God anointed David and spoke His words to him as evidenced by the book of Psalms.
Paul’s end of life: The apostle Paul was imprisoned for many years and then beheaded by Nero. Still, God used him to write the Pauline Epistles: The books written by Paul: Romans, 1 and 2 Corinthians, Galatians, Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians, 1 and 2 Thessalonians, 1 and 2 Timothy, Titus, Philemon, and Hebrews. The letters of Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians, Philemon, and the book of Hebrews were written while he was incarcerated.
Jesus spoke to Saul of Tarsus and when He converted him, Saul was given a new name, Paul. Forever grateful, the anointed apostle Paul acknowledged his acceptance of martyrdom: “But I will rejoice even if I lose my life, pouring it out like a drink [liquid] offering to God, just like your faithful service is an offering to God. And I want all of you to share that joy (Philippians 2:17).
As created beings, whether we die of old age or by becoming a martyr is not our decision to make. God remains in control of our lives even until our last breath of life. Our focus should not be on the manner in which we die, our focus must be on how we live our earthly lives–striving for holiness and righteousness.
Yes, we will suffer, because Christ suffered. Always put God first, by striving to have a steadfast relationship with Jesus Christ. Every day, live as one who has been forgiven by the blood of Jesus Christ.
God’s Promise: I will never leave you or forsake you. Amen.
Prayer: Thank You, Heavenly Father for Your love, grace, and mercies. In Jesus’ name, Amen.