I’ve been following the One Year Bible schedule for my daily readings. Each day a selection from the Old Testament, the New Testament, Psalms, and Proverbs provides balance while covering the entire Bible in a year’s time. Often the juxtaposition of texts provides interesting perspectives from passages that I would seldom have considered together.
Earlier this month, the scheduled selections were 1 Samuel 24-25, John 10:22-42, Psalm 116, and Proverbs 15:20-21. In my notes for the day, I titled it, “Deeds Tell the Story.”
David showed by his actions that he has no evil intentions toward Saul. He even regretted cutting off the hem of the king’s robe. But as Saul left the cave and David called to him, he held up the piece of garment sliced with a knife that could have ended the king’s life.
One can imagine the king examining his robe. It dawns on him that David had been within striking distance inside the cave. He must have felt anger that the hunter became the hunted. And then relief that his prey did not have his evil heart.
David drove that very point home: “As that old proverb says, ‘From evil comes evil deeds.’ So you can be sure I will never harm you” (1 Samuel 24:13 NLT).
Abigail’s deeds showed her to be a “sensible woman” (1 Samuel 25:3). While her husband Nabal responded foolishly to David’s overtures, she took the initiative to avoid disaster and earned David’s gratitude and, later, accepted his offer of marriage.
Indeed, deeds tell the story. In his “Character Counts,” Michael Josephson answered a reader who wrote that prisoners had character but merely made a few mistakes. He responded by saying that one’s deeds revealed character. Josephson was right.
When people insisted that Jesus speak plainly if he was the Messiah, he affirmed that his deeds told the story. “The proof is the work I do in my Father’s name” (John 10:25). These good works showed that he did them at his Father’s direction (v. 32).
The deeds of ours which tell the story are prayer for deliverance when facing danger (Psalm 116:1-2), walking in the Lord’s presence during our time on earth (v. 9), praising him for his deliverance (v. 12-13), and keeping promises and vows made to the Lord (v. 14-19).
Deeds tell the story so powerfully that even children are known to be sensible or foolish (Proverbs 15:20). You can tell a sensible person because he “stays on the right path” (v. 21).
DETAILS – Figurative language
The Bible makes powerful use of figurative language. In today’s reading, Abigail tells David he will be “safe in the care of the Lord your God, secure in his treasure pouch” (1 Samuel 25:29 NLT). However one translates “treasure pouch,” the idea of David being protected and secure is clear. But his enemies will “disappear like stones shot from a sling.” What a striking contrast!
In the same chapter, the writer says that Nabal’s “heart died within him and he became a stone” (1 Samuel 25:37). The NLT understands that he “had a stroke, and he lay on his bed paralyzed” (see also NET). The metaphor appears to be the immobility of a stone; hence, these versions seem to be correct. We say that “I slept like a rock,” meaning, apparently, that we didn’t stir during the night. In Nabal’s case, it was not sleep but physical incapacity.
Jesus also used metaphor in powerful ways to describe himself and his task. Apparently, the limits of language caused him to mix metaphors. In yesterday’s reading, he declares himself to be both the gate and the shepherd (Jn 10:9, 11). As shepherd, he describes his sacrifice (10:11, 15), the intimacy between himself and his followers (v. 14), the unity that he would bring about between Jew and Gentile (v. 16), and the security of those who follow his voice (v. 27-29).
As Jesus was set apart and sent into the world (John 10:36), so are his followers. Our holiness (separateness) is not only from the evils of the world, but for the saving of souls in the world.
What will the deeds I do today say about my character? What can I do today to show that I act “at my Father’s direction”?
Lord, your intentions always became righteous actions. Good intentions aren’t enough. Make my deeds concrete, sensible, and holy, to the glory of your name. Because Jesus acted. Amen.
The deeds of David, Abigail, and Jesus tell the story of their character. Our deeds do, too.