Peace

1 Kings 2:44-46 “The king also said to Shimei, ‘You know in your own heart all the harm that you did to David my father. So the Lord will bring back your harm on your own head. But King Solomon shall be blessed, and the throne of David shall be established before the Lord forever.’ Then the king commanded Benaiah the son of Jehoiada, and he went out and struck him down, and he died. So the kingdom was established in the hand of Solomon.”

One of the almost universal longings of human beings is the desire for peace. Would you agree? For those of us who were around in the 1960’s at the time of the Vietnam War we remember that thousands who were calling for “Peace not War.” The sentiment was everywhere as people carried their signs. More recently, we have the horrible memories of 9/11. Who wouldn’t want peace in place of that? Then we have all the uproar that has accompanied the Covid pandemic, with continual conflicts over such things as masks, vaccines, shutdowns, and the like. Related to this is what seems like unprecedented political unrest in our country today. So, if so many people want peace, why is it so elusive?

The short answer to this is “sin” and all the selfishness that is a part of it. People say they want peace, but the true test of this desire is what happens when someone else’s desires conflict with our own. The result is anything but peace, whether it be on the interpersonal, international, or any level in between where there is more than one person involved. We see it in families, marriages, the streets of our cities, and all across the world. And so we see the continual need for those who are commissioned to “keep the peace,” e.g., the police, and “peace keeping” armies in international affairs. And it’s always been that way. One such ancient example is provided to us in the passage above from 1 Kings.

It’s taken from the account of the transition from David’s kingship to his son Solomon’s. Interestingly, Solomon was chosen by God to build the temple. It was David who originally desired this, but God said “You may not build a house for my name, for you are a man of war and have shed blood (1 Chronicles 28:3).” So, Solomon, a name that means “Peace,” was given the task. That’s why it’s so shocking that as Solomon begins his reign, his first actions are filled with bloodshed. David had advised Solomon as he began his reign that there were some people within the kingdom who were not to be trusted. Among them were Joab, the commander of David’s army, and Shimei, who much earlier in David’s reign had grievously cursed David because Shimei was loyal to Israel’s former king Saul and his family. Later Joab defected to Adonijah, who tried to usurp the throne from Solomon, and although Shimei had at one time sought forgiveness from David, it was a shallow sentiment and his heart had never really changed. So David warns Solomon that if he wanted peace in his kingdom, he would have to crush all internal dissent. This he does by putting Joab and Shimei, as well as Adonijah to death.

So what does this have to do with you and me. Well, we too are part of a kingdom, whether we recognize it or not. It’s the kingdom of the King of Kings. But just as in Solomon’s day, there are those in that kingdom that are loyal to the king and those who are not. In fact, everyone begins their life as a rebel against this greatest King. It’s called being at enmity with Him (Romans 8:7). It’s the condition of being self-centered. We want our way and we don’t want anyone getting in the way of it, including God. It’s a condition of our natural wicked hearts, and “’There is no peace,’ says the Lord, ‘for the wicked’ (Isaiah 48:22).”

So, is there any remedy? Can there be any peace? Well, one remedy is for God, like Solomon, to crush all rebellion. In fact, at the end of the age, that’s exactly what will be done. Jesus described it this way in Matthew 13:41-42: “The Son of Man will send his angels, and they will gather out of his kingdom all causes of sin and all law-breakers, and throw them into the fiery furnace. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.” And since we are all law-breakers, since we have all sinned and fallen short of the glory of God, is that it? Is there no other way?

Gloriously, until that time, there is. But just as the peace in Solomon’s kingdom was established by bloodshed, peace in the heavenly kingdom has been established by bloodshed as well. But in this case, it isn’t the bloodshed of the rebels. Rather, this bloodshed is the blood that was shed by the King Himself. Romans 5:1-11 explains it this way: “Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. Through him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God . . . For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. For one will scarcely die for a righteous person—though perhaps for a good person one would dare even to die— but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Since, therefore, we have now been justified by his blood, much more shall we be saved by him from the wrath of God. For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, now that we are reconciled, shall we be saved by his life. More than that, we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation.”

It’s such a marvelous truth, that we can have peace with God through the blood that was shed by our Lord Jesus Christ. And the truth is that it is only when we have peace with God that true peace is possible elsewhere in our lives. It is as we recognize the magnificent sacrifice that our King has made for us that we are motivated by gratitude to demonstrate peace in our relationships with others, be that within our marriage, with our children, with our neighbors, in our communities, or at any other level. It’s even true about being at peace with ourself. And so the admonition from the apostle Paul to those who, like him, have obtained peace with God, “If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all (Romans 12:18).”

So, does that describe you? Are you among those of whom King Jesus can say, “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God (Matthew 5:9)”? If not, there is only one reason, and that is that you are living life at enmity with God. And though you may carry a sign “Peace not war,” it is the sentiment written on your heart that is the truth of the matter.

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