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God’s Word for You

1 Chronicles 12:23-24,38 Our crosses

by Pastor Timothy Smith on Thursday, December 7, 2023

23 These are the numbers of the men armed for war who came to David at Hebron to turn the kingdom of Saul over to David, according to the word of the LORD: 24 men of Judah, carrying shield and spear—6,800 armed for battle…
38 All these fighting men came to Hebron in their ranks. They came to Hebron fully determined to make David king over all Israel. All the rest of the Israelites were also of one mind to make David king.

Our writer shows the strength of David’s army when he became king. Saul had more than 300,000 warriors available. It was an army about half the size of the one Moses brought out of Egypt, but nevertheless a third of a million warriors is an impressive number for an army. The troops from Judah were nearly seven thousand, but many tribes brought quite a few more. Perhaps the number of the men of Judah here does not include the Judahites who were already allied with David before he became king.

The gathering of the warriors of David has an impact on his reign, of course. This was the army with which he fought the Ammonites, the Philistines, and others. But they were not conscripted. They came because David was their king. They came because they wanted David to be their king. And they came because David, their king, wanted their service.

This is how Jesus gathered his disciples. They came in crowds (Mark 10:1) because they recognized that what he said and did was from God (Mark 2:12; John 3:2). They each came wondering if he was truly the promised Christ, the Messiah (John 4:29). But they came because Jesus wanted them to follow him. He invited them. “Come, follow me,” he said, again and again (Matthew 4:19, 8:22, 9:9, 19:21). He warned that it would not be easy, and that it would mean great trouble. “If anyone wants to come and follow me, he must disown himself and pick up his cross and then follow me” (Matthew 16:24).

Both tasks, the soldier and the disciple, are matters of sanctification. That is to say, they are tasks and good works we take up in life to serve God. We have already discussed being a soldier, a parent, a worker of usual jobs. What about being a true disciple of Jesus Christ? What about picking up one’s cross?

The cross is one of two important means of living and furthering the sanctified life (the other is prayer). “The cross,” wrote Professor Hoenecke, “is a means of furthering sanctification in that it serves both to take off the old Adam and to put on the new man.”

Certainly everything the Christian suffers in life on account of Jesus and his name is to be called a cross (Matthew 10:37-39, 19:29). But other sufferings can also properly be called crosses, whatever misfortunes and afflictions, family troubles, health troubles, accidents, attacks, sorrow, grief, and other things. “All of the afflictions of the pious come under the name of cross, because through them we are conformed to Christ crucified, and by his cross Christ sanctified and consecrated all our sufferings so that they are beneficial to us” (Johann Quenstedt, 1617-1688).

The Bible tells us that the cross of the Christian is profitable to us because it weakens the person’s service to sin. Peter says: “The one who has suffered in the flesh is done with sin” (1 Peter 4:1). When we live in this mindset, we will no longer live here on earth for the sake of human desires, but for the will of God. And again, “God our Father disciplines us for our good, that we may share in his holiness” (Hebrews 12:10).

David’s soldiers were happily in the service of their king. They were not guilty of being David’s enemies, and yet they suffered in David’s service. Many of them were injured, and perhaps as many as were injured and bled also bled and died. There is an analogy here between such men, and Christ himself, and then with Christians who are not warriors in the army of David’s Israel. For Christ who is the sinless Son of God did not need to suffer or be punished or corrected for anything at all, and yet he chose to suffer, to bear his cross, and to die, all in his state of humiliation. “When they were ill, I humbled myself” (Psalm 35:13). “He humbled himself and became obedient to death—even death on a cross!” (Philippians 2:8). Now, we who put our faith in Christ are justified by faith (Romans 3:28), and being justified, we are at peace with God (Romans 5:1). This means that God does not count our sins against us but counts us as free of sin and forgiven for Christ’s sake. Therefore, we ought not to have to carry suffering as a cross for the sake of the word. But we, too, are in a state of humiliation and thus we still suffer for many reasons. “Therefore, all suffering (for the Christian) is to be called a cross, when it does not belong to us by law but is imposed on us by our Father’s paternal grace, so that we may conform to our Lord. The greatest comfort for all suffering is that it is to be a beneficial cross.”

Let us be of one mind to worship Christ as our King, to serve him with all our lives and deeds, and to praise him in every way here in this world until we can praise him again in the next.

In Christ,
Pastor Timothy Smith

Pastor Tim Smith
About Pastor Timothy Smith
Pastor Smith serves St. Paul’s Lutheran Church in New Ulm, Minnesota. To receive God’s Word for You via e-mail, please visit the St. Paul’s Lutheran Church website.


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