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Realizing the presence, promise, and power of the Kingdom of God.

Escaping the Rat Race

Life isn't a competition.

2 Samuel 8:9–18

When Toi king of Hamath heard that David had defeated all the army of Hadadezer, then Toi sent Joram his son to King David, to greet him and bless him, because he had fought against Hadadezer and defeated him (for Hadadezer had been at war with Toi); and Joram brought with him articles of silver, articles of gold, and articles of bronze. King David also dedicated these to the LORD, along with the silver and gold that he had dedicated from all the nations which he had subdued— from Syria, from Moab, from the people of Ammon, from the Philistines, from Amalek, and from the spoil of Hadadezer the son of Rehob, king of Zobah.

And David made himself a name when he returned from killing eighteen thousand Syrians in the Valley of Salt. He also put garrisons in Edom; throughout all Edom he put garrisons, and all the Edomites became David’s servants. And the LORD preserved David wherever he went.

So David reigned over all Israel; and David administered judgment and justice to all his people. Joab the son of Zeruiah was over the army; Jehoshaphat the son of Ahilud was recorder; Zadok the son of Ahitub and Ahimelech the son of Abiathar were the priests; Seraiah was the scribe; Benaiah the son of Jehoiada was over both the Cherethites and the Pelethites; and David’s sons were chief ministers.

The peace that followed David’s great victories yields many side benefits.  Toi king of Hamath is thrilled to see his adversary crushed, so he brings great treasure to David.

That treasure, along with the spoils David hauled away back in verses seven and eight, will be useful in the construction of the temple.

Another side benefit is that David made himself a name. That had a lot to do with keeping the peace, but it also set up his administration. The list of his “cabinet” at the end shows a well-functioning administration.

David’s under-control ego gives him an essential skill—the ability to delegate.

David has escaped the rat race. He doesn’t see his life as part of a competition. He’s just trying to do the right thing by seeking and following the LORD’s will. That’s challenging, but one kind of stress is eliminated.

There’s a lesson in that. The gospel has a feature we rarely talk about—it’s relaxed. It’s not competitive. We’re all part of a team and we already know who the captain is, so we don’t have to worry about that.

The other thing we don’t have to worry about is our mess-ups. They happen all too often, and they cause us pain, but they’re not the end of the world. Paul explains this brilliantly in his epistle to the Romans.

O wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death? I thank God—through Jesus Christ our Lord!

So then, with the mind I myself serve the law of God, but with the flesh the law of sin. — Romans 7:24–25

Mike Slay

As a mathematician, inventor, and ruling elder in the Presbyterian Church in America, Mike Slay brings an analytical, conversational, and even whimsical approach to the daily study of God's Word.

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