The Use of Old Testament Scripture (IV)
Billy W. Moore
Principles of Righteousness Exemplified
We know the power of example. In the classroom when a new rule is given, whether it is in Math or English, an example of that rule is cited to help the student grasp the rule and see its application. In his wisdom God has provided examples of rules he has given. Regarding the principles of righteousness, which should be seen in our lives, which should be added to our faith, God, has exemplified them through Bible characters. One great use of the Old Testament is to study the lives of its characters and see in action the principles, which God expects to be found in our lives.
"God resisteth the proud, but giveth grace unto the humble." (Jas. 4:6) "Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, that he may exalt you in due time." (1 Peter 5:6) "A proud look" God hates (Prov. 6: 16-17), and a haughty spirit is not in his favor (Matt. 18:4). We are to serve our God with humility of mind. Men allow many things to cause them to be proud. Among those things wealth, good looks, position, fame and power are perhaps the leaders. God wanted to show all mankind that a man could serve him humbly even if be were wealthy, popular and powerful. Thus, he has told us much of a man, who in his youth was a man after Gods own heart: David.
David was a mere shepherd boy, "of a beautiful countenance, and goodly to look to" and quite accomplished with his harp when the Lord chose him to become the second king of Israel. He was anointed by Samuel the prophet (1 Sam. 16:12-13), and "the Spirit of the Lord came upon David from that day forward." The shepherd knew that God was with him, for when he kept his fathers sheep, there came a lion, and a bear, and took a lamb out of the flock: and David said, "I went out after him, and smote him, and delivered it out of his mouth: and when he arose against me, I caught him by his beard, and smote him, and slew him." Later when he volunteered to go forth to meet the giant of the Philistines he related this incident to Saul, king of Israel, who thought David was too young and inexperienced to go forth to meet Goliath, and he was careful to say, "The Lord that delivered me out of the paw of the lion, and out of the paw of the bear, he will deliver me out of the hand of this Philistine." (1Sam. 17:37) This is humility. It was God who had done it, not young David. He was not of the disposition to boast to his friends, to show off the carcass of the lion and the bear, thus proclaiming his great feat. When he went forth to meet Goliath he went with humility. When the giant saw a mere lad coming to meet him, he mocked him. But David said, "Thou comest to me with a sword, and with a spear, and with a shield: but I come to thee in the name of the Lord of hosts, the God of the armies of Israel, whom thou hast defied. This day will the Lord deliver thee into mine hand. . . that all the earth may know that there is a God in Israel." (1Sam. 17:45-46)
Later David became the greatest man in the army of Israel, and ultimately the king of that great people. But in spite of his handsome physique, his popularity and fame, his position of power and tremendous wealth, David maintained his humility. God is showing us that nothing should destroy this most desirable trait. That we need not become proud because of our accomplishments, or wealth or beauty, but should ever humble ourselves under the mighty hand of God.
But once Davids humility failed him. He had looked upon a beautiful young woman as she bathed, and he desired to have her. She was married but her husband, Uriah, was away in the army of Israel which was under Davids command. David committed adultery with this woman. Later when he learned that she was with child, he had her husband put in the forefront of the hottest battle that he may be killed, then David took his wife for himself. The Prophet Nathan was sent to rebuke David for his sin. As he stood before the king he said: "Thus saith the Lord God of Israel, I anointed thee king over Israel, and I delivered thee out of the hand of Saul; and I gave thee thy masters house, and thy masters wives into thy bosom, and gave thee the house of Israel and of Judah; and if that had been too little, I would moreover have given unto thee such and such things. Wherefore hast thou despised the commandment of the Lord, to do evil in his sight?" (2 Sam. 12:1-9) Yes, Davids humility had failed him. He had used his position and power to take another mans wife, and to have a man killed. Indeed, he confessed his sin unto God, but he was punished for having committed it.
If you would see humility at its best, never failing, never faltering, then look to Jesus, the Son of God. "Who, being in the form of God thought it not robbery to be equal with God: but made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: and being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross." (Phil. 2:5-8) He never used his position, his popularity or his power to personal gain. His place of power never caused him to lose his humility. May God help us to humble ourselves under his mighty hand of power.
How often have we seen people who began to serve God, then turned back to the ways of the world. The hardships of being a true servant were too great, the cost more than they were willing to pay. Paul said, "Therefore, my beloved brethren, be ye stedfast, unmoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labour is not in vain in the Lord." (1Cor. 15:58) Peter said, "Add to your faith virtue knowledge . . . temperance ... patience. (2 Peter 1:5-6) Surely we recognize the need of patience, and that God expects us to acquire it.
Do you know what patience is? Patience is steadfastness. Patience is "stick-ability." It is staying with the job, not turning back. There lived a man long ago who displayed such patience in his life that God in his wisdom has provided an account of that mans life, that men of all ages to follow might see how patience can prevail in ones life. Of course I speak of Job. James said, "For ye have heard of the patience of Job, and have seen the end of the Lord; that the Lord is very pitiful, and of tender mercy." (James 5: 11) Indeed, God sets Job forth as an example of patience. When I learn that God expects me to add patience to my faith, and tells me that I have a need of patience, I can study the life of Job and better understand what patience is and the effect it has on ones life.
Job was a man who feared God. He was blessed with seven sons and three daughters, and with great herds of sheep, camels, oxen and asses. Truly, he was the greatest of all the men of the east. But in a single day all his herds were taken by his enemies, and a great wind destroyed the house where all his children were eating and they were killed. Job worshipped God and said, "Naked came I out of my mothers womb, and naked shall I return thither: the Lord gave, and the Lord hath taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord." (Job 1: 20-22) Later Job was afflicted with "sore boils from the sole of his foot unto his crown." His wife said unto him. "Dost thou still retain thine integrity? Curse God, and die." But he said, "Thou speakest as one of the foolish women speaketh. What? Shall we receive good at the hand of God, and shall we not receive evil? In all this did not Job sin with his lips." (Job. 2:7-10) Jobs friends came to him telling him that these calamities were all his fault, that he had sinned and God was punishing him for those sins. Then Job made a statement that shows his faith and patience: "Though he slays me, yet will I trust him." (Job 13:15) He would trust in God and keep on doing his will even though God should slay him. He believed that should God slay him it would be for some reason that God would know, therefore he would die rather than curse God. Jobs patience was rewarded. "The Lord blessed the latter end of Job more than his beginning." (Job 42:12) He had seven other sons and three more daughters, who were the fairest in all the land. His herds became greater than they had been before. After his great tribulation be lived one hundred and forty years, and saw his sons, and his sons sons, even four generations. It pays to serve God with patience!
Is it any wonder that God has held forth the patriarch Job as an example of patience? If he could endure the loss of physical things, of family, the suffering and pain of sore boils, and the contempt of friends, and still serve God, then surely we should learn that it is within man to endure whatever sacrifices need be made that he may serve God with patience unto the end. Jesus said, "Be thou faithful unto death, and I will give thee a crown of life." (Rev. 2: 10) May we learn that "the trying of your faith worketh patience. But let patience have her perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing." (James 1:3-4) "For we have need of patience." (Heb. 10:3)
But you can see a perfect example of patience in the life of our Lord and Savior. He was patient even unto the giving of himself for us. Job said he would serve God even though God should slay him, and no doubt he would have. We know that our Lord did serve God even to the giving of himself for the sins of the world. There was no thought of giving up, no turning back, but always "let thy will be done."
Yes, my friend, the Old Testament has its proper place and use. If you have failed to use it to see the principles of righteousness exemplified, then you have missed one of its truly great uses. When Paul said, "Whatsoever things were written aforetime were written for our learning," he spoke a great truth. How I love to read its pages, how I thrill at its stories, how it carries us back through the ages and allows us to relive those thrilling heart touching scenes, and through its many characters see the qualities God wants us to mold into our character as we seek to live for him who died for us. Thank God for the Old Testament Scripture. Do not fail to become acquainted with it. It is written for our learning.
TRUTH MAGAZINE XVII: 4, pp. 9-11