Chapter 5 - Examples of Righteousness

Examples of Righteousness Arising from Adversity

In scripture and in our own lives we find
instances of righteous choices creating

Scripture contains numerous examples of righteousness that arose from adversity.

Righteousness Created in the Life of David

In the history of Saul and David we see that God is not a deliverer. On the contrary, God was the direct cause of serious adversity in the life of David. But to understand why God did this, one must understand that God’s purpose was not to cause David distress, but to provide David with the opportunity to become a bearer of righteousness and so to be forged into the greatest king that Israel had ever known until Christ.1

After David killed Goliath, King Saul noticed him and gave him a position as a military leader.2 In this capacity, David led several successful battles against the Philistines. And these successes resulted in a significant acclaim for David by the Israelites.

One day David returned from battle and he was greeted with acclamations and a song that indicated that the people had more regard for him than for Saul. Saul became aware of this song and became angry. So here was a young champion creating a name for himself that exceeded that of the king.3 It is not difficult to understand why Saul became defensive: Saul’s position of political power was threatened.

God sent an evil spirit to prompt Saul to seek David’s life.4 As a result of the influence of this evil spirit, Saul picked up a spear and threw it directly at David attempting to kill him, but David was quick and dodged the spear.5 Saul attempted to kill David twelve times and failed in every attempt.6 David’s life was preserved and David remained in Saul’s court.

Saul faced David’s perceived threat and he had to make a choice. Would he preserve David for the good of the country or kill him for the good of himself? Saul chose kill him for the good of himself and in doing so he defined himself.7 Saul’s choice was an expression of what he loved: power. The promptings of an evil spirit did not alter that; they simply brought it out.

Although God had sent the evil spirit, He did not initiate the sin of Saul.8 Saul was tempted as we all are and he made his choice by himself. He alone produced the sin when he made a free choice to ignore the sixth commandment9 and engage in an act that resulted in his own spiritual death.10 Nor did God tempt Saul to sin by sending the evil spirit because God neither sins, nor causes sin nor does He tempt anyone to sin.11 The evil spirit was not a temptation; the preservation of political power by means of murder was the temptation. The evil spirit was no more definitive than an internal conflict that any of us may encounter. Although God does not tempt, He does harden hearts so that the nature of that heart may be expressed and disclosed for what it is.12 It was Saul, therefore, who is responsible, whether his heart was hardened or not.

What did David do as a result of Saul’s attempted murder? David made the opposite choice. David chose not to retaliate and the result was that Saul was placed in a position of having to honor David. Saul sent David away by placing him in command of a force of 1000 soldiers elsewhere.13 But David behaved himself wisely in all his ways,14 and this resulted in more acclaim.

Saul wished to consolidate his power, and God sent another second evil spirit and Saul attempted to murder David again.15 David was forced to flee into exile.16

What were David’s thoughts when he fled? His whole life was serving as an Israelite commander. And now he was banished. Why had God forsaken him? Samuel had promised David the throne17 but now it seemed that God had abandoned him.

David had to face his own doubts somewhere in the dusty backcountry of Israel. In the shadow of a mountain or perhaps in the silence of a darkened cave the doubts and questions must have come to him. What good are God’s promises now, David? Why serve such a God? When the end comes you will curse God and die…and that will be soon now. Perhaps it was in the dark before the dawn that the intended explanation passed through his thoughts like a raven over a blackened moon, “Come now, David, be reasonable. There is no God.”

But David did not waiver, and Saul continued to pursue David and found him at Engedi. But before Saul could attack, David sneaked up behind Saul and cut off a piece of his clothing.18 He later approached Saul and informed him that he could have killed him but chose not to.19 David stated “…the Lord avenge me of thee; but mine hand shall not be upon thee.”20 David made his choice and he stuck with it.

Like an uncut diamond in a muddy stream, David’s true character began to take on a light of its own. David was a man who feared God and had the faith to obey Him at any cost. And David would not waiver, even if it could mean his own death.21

David reasoned correctly that it was God Himself who had placed Saul on the throne of Israel and David would wait until God removed him. David’s faith became more substantial at every test and every difficult choice he made brought his relationship with his Creator one step closer.22

David had been tested with adversity and had emerged a finer man as a result of it. But without the tests, David could never have made the choices he made and he would not have become the person that he became. Without the adversity imposed upon David by Saul, David would have been just another name for Bible students to try to remember.

David did not always make the best choices in his life. But most of his choices were good ones23 and the right choices that David made were dear to the heart of God.

I have found David the son of Jessie, a man after Mine own heart24

In spite of David’s sins of murder and adultery, he was still a man after God’s own heart. Why? God obviously did not love David because of what David did. God loved David because David loved Him:

I will love thee, oh Lord, my strength. The Lord is my rock, and my fortress, and my deliverer; my God, my strength, in whom I will trust; my buckler [shield], and the horn of my salvation, and my high tower. I will call upon the Lord who is worthy to be praised25

And God loved David because David loved scripture, which is God’s Word:

Oh how I love Thy law! It is my meditation all the day.26

And God’s Word is the expression of who God is:

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God and the Word was God.27

So what was the secret to David’s success? Love for God expressed through obedience was David’s secret. David loved God.

Righteousness Created in the Life of Joseph

The scriptures tell us that there was a man named Jacob who found favor with God. God renamed him and called him Israel.28 Israel had twelve sons.29 Each of these sons was a patriarch of one of the twelve tribes of Israel and descendants of these men live in Israel today. However, they may well not have prospered as they did if it were not for one of them: Joseph.

Somewhere in the desolation of the southern area of what is now Israel, eleven of them were camped. They, like us, saw themselves as being placed on the crest of a wave of time and for them, the future was, as for us, next month. They all knew the old story of their grandfather Abraham. It was said that God had visited him and told him that his seed would be as the sands of the sea. But every family has its traditions, and nothing significant was happening to them.

Their 17 year old little brother appeared in the distance and they began to discuss their dislike for him. The discussion hatched into a plan to dispose of him permanently and tell their father Jacob that he had been killed by a wild beast. They seized Joseph and were ready to kill him when they saw an approaching caravan of Ishmaelites (predecessors of today’s Muslims) and decided instead to profit by selling him into slavery instead of killing him.30 So, Joseph went down to Egypt as a slave.

He was purchased by the household of Potifer, who was one of Pharaoh’s officials. While in charge of Potifer’s household, Potifer’s wife attempted to seduce him and when Joseph refused, she lied about him and had him thrown into prison where remained for an unspecified number of years.31

While in prison he became known as one who could interpret dreams. Pharaoh heard of him and called him to interpret his dream of seven fat cows and seven lean ones. Joseph correctly interpreted Pharaoh’s dream to be prophetic of seven fat years and seven years starvation. Pharaoh placed Joseph in charge of Egypt’s grain and Joseph, relying on Pharaoh’s prophetic dream, saved Egypt from famine.32

Thereafter, Joseph’s brothers began to feel the effect of the famine in Israel and went to Egypt for grain. Thus the very brothers who had sold Joseph into slavery now came to him for grain. But they thought they were speaking to an Egyptian and had no idea that they were actually speaking to Joseph. And at that point Joseph could have done whatever he wished with them because Joseph’s power was second only to that of Pharaoh.

But Joseph did not harm them. He gave them the food they needed and they returned to Jacob, their father. Thereafter, the entire family went to Egypt to get grain and to see Joseph.

God had used the sins of the brothers to preserve the family and created character in Joseph that was strong enough to forgive from his heart.

Love Expressed by Obedience

Love expressed by obedience was the key for both David and Joseph.

Neither David nor Joseph could not look behind the events of their lives and see the extent to which they had been orchestrated by the Creator for a purpose. They stood, as we do, upon the crest of the wave of time. The only true reality for them was the present. The future for them was, as it is for us, the next day, or month or years. They could not see how their present difficulties would work to the benefit of both him and God, but they did. And so it is with us.33

In the midst of their trials, they found that stubborn obedience to scripture was a light to their lives and that light was the means by which they eventually profited from the adversity that they faced.34

What is this secret to knowing God and discovering wisdom and peace in the midst of tragedy? It is no secret. It is spelled out clearly in the text of scripture. First, one must love Him35 and second, one must obey Him.36 The combination of these two is a yielded obediencean obedience from the heart. This is how we express our reverence and our love to our Creator.

Love without expression is an illusion. It is friend in need who never helps or a lover who never touches. It is faith without works.37

Obedience without love is more or less a transaction. It is something given for something else in return. It is a sale. Obedience to God without love is legalism; it is the purchase of God’s favor by doing something. But God is not for sale. He gives everything but sells nothing.

So neither love alone nor works alone accomplishes anything. But love for God expressed by obedience is everything because it is love in action. Love in action is the interface between man and God because it is real love and real love is what God is.38

Scripture tells us clearly that God’s presence comes to us through love expressed by obedience, but love is first.

1. 2 Samuel 7:17 “And thine house and thy kingdom shall be established forever before thee; thy throne shall be established forever.”

2. 1 Samuel 17, 18

3. 1 Samuel 18:7 “and the women answered one another as they played, and said, Saul hath slain his thousands and David his ten thousands, and Saul was very wroth…”

4. 1 Samuel 18:10 “And it came to pass on the morrow, that the evil spirit from God came upon Saul...” The NASV renders this passage as follows, “Now it came about on the next day that an evil spirit from God came mightily upon Saul, and he raved in the midst of the house, while David was playing the harp with his hand, as usual; and a spear was in Saul’s hand. And Saul hurled the spear for he thought, “I will pin David to the wall.” But David escaped from his presence twice.”

5. 1 Samuel 18:11 “And Saul cast the javelin; for he said, I will smite David even to the wall with it. And David avoided out of his presence twice. And Saul was afraid of David because the Lord was with him, and was departed from Saul.”

6. See 1 Samuel 18:30 - 19:24

7. Exodus 20:13 “Thou shalt not kill.”

8. Deuteronomy 32:4 “All His ways are right.” Job 34:12 “Surely God will not act wickedly, and the Almighty will not pervert justice.”

9. Exodus 20:13

10. Ezekiel 18:20 “The soul that sinneth, it shall surely die.”; Romans 6:23 “For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.”

11. James 1:13 “…God cannot be tempted with evil, neither tempteth He any man; but every man is tempted when he is drawn away of his own lust…”

12. Romans 9:18 “...He will have mercy on whom He will have mercy and whom He will He hardeneth.”

13. 1 Samuel 18:13 “[Because Saul was afraid of David], Saul removed him from him, and made him his captain over a thousand and he went out and came in before the people.”

14. 1 Samuel 18:14 “… David behaved himself wisely in all his ways.”

15. 1 Samuel 19:9,10 “And the evil spirit from the Lord was upon Saul, as he sat in his house with his javelin in his hand: and David played with his hand. And Saul sought to smite David even to the wall with the javelin; but he slipped away…”

16. 1 Samuel 19:23 “So Michal let David down through a window: and he went, and fled, and escaped.”

17. 1 Samuel 16:13”Then Samuel took the horn of oil, and anointed him in the midst of his brethren: and the Spirit of the Lord came upon David from that day forward.”

18. 1 Samuel 24:4.

19. 1 Samuel 24:10.

20. 1 Samuel 24:12.

21. 1 Samuel 16:12 (Here Samuel anointed David king in Saul’s place).

22. Hebrews 11:6 “But without faith it is impossible to please Him; for he that cometh to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of them that diligently seek Him.”

23. 1 Kings 15:5 “... David did that which was right in the eyes of the LORD, and turned not aside from any thing that He commanded him all the days of his life, save in the matter of Uriah the Hittite

24. Acts 13:22

25. Psalm 18:15

26. Psalm 119.97

27. John 1:1

28. Genesis 35:10

29. Second Chronicles 2:1 “These were the sons of Israel: Reuben, Simeon, Levi, Judah, Issachar, Zebulun, Dan, Joseph, Benjamin, Naphtali, Gad and Asher..”

30. Genesis 37

31. Genesis 39

32. Genesis 41

33. Romans 8:28 “And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.”

34. Psalm 119:105 “Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path.”

35. Psalm 18:1,2 “I will love thee, O Lord, my strength. The Lord is my rock, and my fortress, and my deliverer; my God, my strength, in whom I will trust; my buckler, and the horn of my salvation, and my high tower.:.

36. Psalm 119:97,98 “O how love I thy law! it is my meditation all the day. Thou through thy commandments hast made me wiser than mine enemies: for they are ever with me.”

37. James 2:20 “But wilt thou know, O vain man, that faith without works is dead?”

38. First John 4:8 “God is love [agape].”