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reward

Rise up, O Lord, confront them, bring them down; rescue me from the wicked by your sword. O Lord, by your hand save me from such men, from men of this world whose reward is in this life.       Psalm 17: 13-14 [written by King David of Israel and Judah, BC 1010-970]

 

The unfolding enquiry into Haut de la Garenne seems to have many strands. The desperate plight of the weak and helpless is the one that causes anger to rise and demands justice - for them. Then there is the realisation that the culture of half a century and more ago towards the disciplining of children was very different. 

Other strands are becoming prominent and even submerging the careful investigations and march of justice. It seems that revenge agendas, understandable in those who have been hurt, are taking opportunity when it serves. And unconnected third parties may, wittingly or unwittingly, be adopting a judicial and punishment role through "naming and shaming".

It is these ancillary issues - revenge and wielding justice without trial - that may yet be the most hurtful, whether to perpetrators present or to alleged perpetrators past.

Interesting, then, that highly successful King David, upwards of 3,000 years ago, should have such insight as to write the single sentence above as part of a petition - a petition to "the Lord". "The Lord" was used as a substitute for the name of God  because that name, YHWH, meaning "I AM WHO I AM", was too holy to be articulated. 

The petition is interesting because this powerful King asked "the Lord" to confront his enemies. He asked "the Lord" to bring them down. He asked for rescue "by your sword, O Lord". And he asked for "your hand", the hand of the "I AM", to save him.

Not for David the personal pursuit of his enemies. When given opportunity, he did not use his sword against another man (Saul) who was obsessed with the desire to kill David and had made several attempts on his life. He wept inconsolably over the death of his own son, Absalom, who had formed an army devoted to his, David's, overthrow and murder.

There's something in David's one request (above) that explains his position. Do you see how he described the men who had devoted themselves to his destruction? Yes: "men of this world, whose reward is in this life."

King David saw what others did not see. His vicious enemies were not to be touched by him - they had no reward beyond this life. Only the Lord God Almighty had the authority and knowledge to deal them righteously. And David knew that the Lord was well able to deal with them.

Many of us in Jersey have enemies - and, often rightly but often wrongly too, they pursue us. Perhaps their conduct also is strongly influenced by the fact that their only reward is in this life

When "Jersey-2008-and-the-next-few-years" or even "Jersey-2035" is "all there is", nothing else, the culture forms itself around that ideology. And behaviour follows suit.

King David's greater descendant, Jesus of Nazareth, by his teaching and by his rising from the dead (AD 33, Jerusalem), confirmed that this life is not "all there is". 

The obtaining at all costs of “reward” in this life, in the absence of anything else beyond, is a major motivator. It applies in Jersey in 2008. It applied within the dark past of Haut de la Garenne. It has applied throughout the era of humankind on earth.

So ... King David knew differently: reward in this life is not "all there is". That radically altered his behaviour. But does it alter us today - whether Christians or non-Christians?

 
The Bible insists that God is entirely just, and that therefore ultimately justice will be done, and will be seen to be done.' (D A Carson)
 
‘If God were not willing through Jesus Christ to forgive sin heaven would be empty.' (Anon.)
 
Richard Syvret

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