What ‘powerful’ chapters we have today. Firstly David, humbled by the consequences of his sin flees from Jerusalem. He refuses to take any action against the one who curses him. He says of Shimei, “Let him curse, for the LORD has told him to. It may be that the LORD will look on the wrong done to me, and that the LORD will repay me with good for his cursing today” (2 Samuel 16:11,12).

Then we read Jeremiah; the prophet is not suffering because of sin but because of the reactions to the messages of condemnation from the LORD he brought to the ungodly leaders of an utterly godless nation. At first he laments, “I have become a laughingstock all the day, everyone mocks me” (20:7). He tries not to preach God’s message of warning and denunciation any more, but then says, “I am weary with holding it in, and I cannot” (verse 9).

Then he appeals to God, “O LORD of hosts, who tests the righteous, who sees the heart and mind, let me see your vengeance upon them, for to you I have committed my cause” (verse 12). What a severe test he was undergoing. We recall the point Paul makes in writing to the Corinthians, “God is faithful and he will not let you be tempted (or tested) beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it” (1 Corinthians 10:13). David was escaping physically, but in the process he was re-connecting with his God.

Our New Testament reading provides us with two of the most meaningful chapters in the Bible, Romans 5 & 6; they tell us how “Christ died for the ungodly … perhaps for a good person one would even dare to die – but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (5:6-8).

Dare we remain separate from God, refusing to take on the name of His Son through baptism? And if we have taken on his name and stumble, as David did, what heart searching should follow. It is essential that we are conscious of the wonder of God’s mercy and grace, as now seen in David’s attitudes. Let us sense with Jeremiah, how God “sees the heart and mind” and “tests the righteous” and then, as Paul writes (6:17,18) “become obedient from the heart to the standard of teaching to which you were committed, and, having been set free from sin, have become slaves to righteousness”. Never were human slaves rewarded as God’s slaves will be!