Calvary Road Baptist Church

“ON BEING AN APPEALING CHRISTIAN” Part 4

 

 

Though in this series of messages “On Being An Appealing Christian” I have sought to address the spiritual realities of dealing with both converted and unconverted people, I think it best to introduce this evening’s two case histories with some remarks about the person to whom the appeal is addressed. If you are dealing with a spiritually mature Christian, you are halfway home when it comes to making an appeal. This goes without saying. However, it is appropriate to reflect on the character of those you must deal with from time to time who are intransigent. An intransigent person is someone who refuses to compromise, who refuses to come to an agreement, who refuses to reconcile.[1]

It has been my observation over the last 30+ years of gospel ministry that such a person as that quite frequently thinks of himself as wise. Such people place great store in their ability to make decisions, and once they arrive at a position they tend to be rigidly inflexible in their determination to get their way, no matter who suffers or how foolish they appear to other people. Of course, God’s Word provides wonderful insight into the kind of person you are dealing with in such a case as this. Of particular interest to us is James 3.13-18, where valuable insights into behavior can be found:

 

13     Who is a wise man and endued with knowledge among you? let him shew out of a good conversation his works with meekness of wisdom.

14     But if ye have bitter envying and strife in your hearts, glory not, and lie not against the truth.

15     This wisdom descendeth not from above, but is earthly, sensual, devilish.

16     For where envying and strife is, there is confusion and every evil work.

17     But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, and easy to be intreated, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality, and without hypocrisy.

18     And the fruit of righteousness is sown in peace of them that make peace.

 

This passage very effectively contrasts wisdom that is spiritual, that is God-given, with the so-called wisdom, which is so obviously earthbound, and not from God. The wisdom that does not descend from above is characterized by bitter envying and strife in the heart and lying against the truth, verse 14, and is labeled as being earthly, sensual, and devilish in verse 15. However, it is spiritual wisdom that I want to focus your attention on in particular, found in verses 17-18. Real wisdom, we see here, is pure, peaceable, gentle, easy to be entreated, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality, and without hypocrisy. The characteristic that you most want to see, then, when you would make an appeal to someone in authority over you, is that attribute of real wisdom referred to by James as “easy to be entreated.” The phrase translates a very interesting word that is found nowhere else in the Greek New Testament. It is a word that, and refers to someone who is easily persuaded, willing to yield, compliant.[2] Before you think godly wisdom is wimpy and soft, keep in mind that this wisdom is what commended Joseph to Pharaoh[3], and Solomon to his father David[4] and Hiram[5], the king of Tyre. As well, we know the Lord Jesus Christ was wise[6], and the Apostle Paul was wise.[7] Therefore, it is both commendable and manly to have such strength of personality and courage of conviction that you are eager to entertain the appeals of a subordinate, a child, a spouse, or anyone who seeks to persuade you in a God-honoring and credible fashion.

Sadly, however, most of those you need to appeal to are not wise. Not being wise, neither are they easily entreated, because their concern is primarily to get their way rather than to do right, and to gratify their lusts instead of providing leadership that honors God. However, all is not lost. No reason to become overly discouraged. Though we voice our appeals to people, we do not look to people for satisfaction or relief. We look to God. As the psalmist wrote, “I will lift up mine eyes unto the hills, from whence cometh my help.”[8] We look to God, you see, since it is in Proverbs 21.1 that we read, “The king’s heart is in the hand of the LORD, as the rivers of water: he turneth it whithersoever he will.”

This evening we examine two appeals by women to oriental despots, men who had the absolute power of life and death over their subjects. If you have any appreciation of the danger these women faced as they skillfully presented their appeals, then you will realize that they displayed admirable courage and intelligence.

Last week we considered the appeal of Ruth to Boaz. Tonight the appeal of Bathsheba to David and the appeal of Esther to Ahasuerus.

 

Second, after the case of Ruth appealing to Boaz, there is Bathsheba’s appeal to David

 

At the point we look into their lives, they have been married a long time, their surviving son is grown, and King David is old and near death. God previously revealed to him that Solomon, his son by Bathsheba, is to be his heir to the throne of Israel. However, a son by a different wife is plotting to usurp the throne, meaning that Bathsheba’s life, David’s life, Solomon’s life, and all who are their allies in the palace are potentially in great danger. In First Kings 1.1-40, we see how Bathsheba appeals to her aged husband, the king of Israel, to do the right thing and ensure that God’s choice to be king of Israel actually succeeds him:

 

1      Now king David was old and stricken in years; and they covered him with clothes, but he gat no heat.

2      Wherefore his servants said unto him, Let there be sought for my lord the king a young virgin: and let her stand before the king, and let her cherish him, and let her lie in thy bosom, that my lord the king may get heat.

3      So they sought for a fair damsel throughout all the coasts of Israel, and found Abishag a Shunammite, and brought her to the king.

4      And the damsel was very fair, and cherished the king, and ministered to him: but the king knew her not.

5      Then Adonijah the son of Haggith exalted himself, saying, I will be king: and he prepared him chariots and horsemen, and fifty men to run before him.

6      And his father had not displeased him at any time in saying, Why hast thou done so? and he also was a very goodly man; and his mother bare him after Absalom.

7      And he conferred with Joab the son of Zeruiah, and with Abiathar the priest: and they following Adonijah helped him.

8      But Zadok the priest, and Benaiah the son of Jehoiada, and Nathan the prophet, and Shimei, and Rei, and the mighty men which belonged to David, were not with Adonijah.

9      And Adonijah slew sheep and oxen and fat cattle by the stone of Zoheleth, which is by Enrogel, and called all his brethren the king’s sons, and all the men of Judah the king's servants:

10     But Nathan the prophet, and Benaiah, and the mighty men, and Solomon his brother, he called not.

11     Wherefore Nathan spake unto Bathsheba the mother of Solomon, saying, Hast thou not heard that Adonijah the son of Haggith doth reign, and David our lord knoweth it not?

12     Now therefore come, let me, I pray thee, give thee counsel, that thou mayest save thine own life, and the life of thy son Solomon.

13     Go and get thee in unto king David, and say unto him, Didst not thou, my lord, O king, swear unto thine handmaid, saying, Assuredly Solomon thy son shall reign after me, and he shall sit upon my throne? why then doth Adonijah reign?

14     Behold, while thou yet talkest there with the king, I also will come in after thee, and confirm thy words.

15     And Bathsheba went in unto the king into the chamber: and the king was very old; and Abishag the Shunammite ministered unto the king.

16     And Bathsheba bowed, and did obeisance unto the king. And the king said, What wouldest thou?

17     And she said unto him, My lord, thou swarest by the LORD thy God unto thine handmaid, saying, Assuredly Solomon thy son shall reign after me, and he shall sit upon my throne.

18     And now, behold, Adonijah reigneth; and now, my lord the king, thou knowest it not:

19     And he hath slain oxen and fat cattle and sheep in abundance, and hath called all the sons of the king, and Abiathar the priest, and Joab the captain of the host: but Solomon thy servant hath he not called.

20     And thou, my lord, O king, the eyes of all Israel are upon thee, that thou shouldest tell them who shall sit on the throne of my lord the king after him.

21     Otherwise it shall come to pass, when my lord the king shall sleep with his fathers, that I and my son Solomon shall be counted offenders.

22     And, lo, while she yet talked with the king, Nathan the prophet also came in.

23     And they told the king, saying, Behold Nathan the prophet. And when he was come in before the king, he bowed himself before the king with his face to the ground.

24     And Nathan said, My lord, O king, hast thou said, Adonijah shall reign after me, and he shall sit upon my throne?

25     For he is gone down this day, and hath slain oxen and fat cattle and sheep in abundance, and hath called all the king’s sons, and the captains of the host, and Abiathar the priest; and, behold, they eat and drink before him, and say, God save king Adonijah.

26     But me, even me thy servant, and Zadok the priest, and Benaiah the son of Jehoiada, and thy servant Solomon, hath he not called.

27     Is this thing done by my lord the king, and thou hast not shewed it unto thy servant, who should sit on the throne of my lord the king after him?

28     Then king David answered and said, Call me Bathsheba. And she came into the king’s presence, and stood before the king.

29     And the king sware, and said, As the LORD liveth, that hath redeemed my soul out of all distress,

30     Even as I sware unto thee by the LORD God of Israel, saying, Assuredly Solomon thy son shall reign after me, and he shall sit upon my throne in my stead; even so will I certainly do this day.

31     Then Bathsheba bowed with her face to the earth, and did reverence to the king, and said, Let my lord king David live for ever.

32     And king David said, Call me Zadok the priest, and Nathan the prophet, and Benaiah the son of Jehoiada. And they came before the king.

33     The king also said unto them, Take with you the servants of your lord, and cause Solomon my son to ride upon mine own mule, and bring him down to Gihon:

34     And let Zadok the priest and Nathan the prophet anoint him there king over Israel: and blow ye with the trumpet, and say, God save king Solomon.

35     Then ye shall come up after him, that he may come and sit upon my throne; for he shall be king in my stead: and I have appointed him to be ruler over Israel and over Judah.

36     And Benaiah the son of Jehoiada answered the king, and said, Amen: the LORD God of my lord the king say so too.

37     As the LORD hath been with my lord the king, even so be he with Solomon, and make his throne greater than the throne of my lord king David.

38     So Zadok the priest, and Nathan the prophet, and Benaiah the son of Jehoiada, and the Cherethites, and the Pelethites, went down, and caused Solomon to ride upon king David’s mule, and brought him to Gihon.

39     And Zadok the priest took an horn of oil out of the tabernacle, and anointed Solomon. And they blew the trumpet; and all the people said, God save king Solomon.

40     And all the people came up after him, and the people piped with pipes, and rejoiced with great joy, so that the earth rent with the sound of them.

 

David had previously acknowledged Solomon to be God’s choice as his successor to the throne. However, taking advantage of the disorientation caused by his father’s advanced years and senility, Adonijah plotted to usurp the throne. David seemed to go along with it all, yielding to energy and assertiveness as the aged sometimes do, even though Adonijah’s ascension to the throne would certainly mean death for Bathsheba, Solomon, and the prophet Nathan. Being aware of the impending tragedy and looming danger, the prophet Nathan counseled Bathsheba to appeal to David, and then confirmed her words in David’s presence. Thus, we have an example in which God’s man counsels a godly wife regarding a Biblical appeal to her husband.

This should serve to illustrate the fact that although a wife should appeal to her husband, to ensure that the requirements for an appropriate appeal are met, there are times when help and confirmation are needed from others with wisdom and experience.

May I remind you to be careful to recognize that this was not a case of manipulation. Rather, this was a case of carefully planned persuasion for the purpose of enabling a feeble old man to carry out something he had already purposed to do, but had not yet made arrangements to do. How tragic it would have been for David to know the will of God regarding his successor and to die without the issue being settled. This intricately orchestrated appeal very likely averted a civil war.

On several occasions I urged my own aged grandparents to make arrangements for the disposal of their 180 acre farm before they passed away, to eliminate the likely court battle that I suspected one of their three children would instigate. Sadly, they did not follow my advice. After my grandfather died, and after my grandmother became very frail, my mom discovered on one of her trips to Texas that her older brother and sister had pressured their mother during their visits to her to change her will about fifteen times in a period of six months. Thus, what Bathsheba’s appeal worked to avert in King David’s situation is a scenario that plays out countless times in other people’s lives. Sadly, there was no one around my grandparents who had the wisdom or the standing to appeal to them. By the time my grandmother died the farm was long gone, with nothing to leave any of her kids or grandchildren.

Did Bathsheba have a right standing with David? The prophet Nathan thought so. Although he was also on good terms with David, he recognized that Bathsheba’s standing with her husband was far better, so Nathan appealed to Bathsheba to appeal to David! First Kings 1.11-12:

 

11     Wherefore Nathan spake unto Bathsheba the mother of Solomon, saying, Hast thou not heard that Adonijah the son of Haggith doth reign, and David our lord knoweth it not?

12     Now therefore come, let me, I pray thee, give thee counsel, that thou mayest save thine own life, and the life of thy son Solomon.

 

Did the right basis exist for making the appeal to David regarding their son? Absolutely. The basis of her appeal to install Solomon as king is David’s own statement that it was his intention, First Kings 1.13: “Go and get thee in unto king David, and say unto him, Didst not thou, my lord, O king, swear unto thine handmaid, saying, Assuredly Solomon thy son shall reign after me, and he shall sit upon my throne? why then doth Adonijah reign?” And when the appeal was made David verified that very thing, First Kings 1.29-30:

 

29     And the king sware, and said, As the LORD liveth, that hath redeemed my soul out of all distress,

30     Even as I sware unto thee by the LORD God of Israel, saying, Assuredly Solomon thy son shall reign after me, and he shall sit upon my throne in my stead; even so will I certainly do this day.

 

How about right timing? That David is on his death bed, that Solomon’s half-brother Adonijah is plotting an overthrow that would end in her son’s death, suggests that the timing was now or never for Bathsheba. The prophet Nathan realized that it was time to act. Sometimes, rarely, you have no choice but to appeal right now. Is the information right? Is the attitude right? Are the words right? Is the response right? Considering the fact that they would have all died had things gone wrong and Adonijah had become king, it seems that the hand of God was on Bathsheba to appeal to her husband, and on Nathan to give Bathsheba wise counsel to do everything in precisely the right manner. Information, attitude, words, everything, was just right. As you read on, you will see how it worked out to Solomon’s favor.

 

We next consider Esther’s appeal to Ahasuerus

 

For background, the book of Esther records events that took place after Judah, the southern kingdom, was taken into Babylonian captivity, after Babylon had in turn been defeated by the Medo-Persian Empire, but before the return to the Promised Land by the Jews had taken place. Additionally, it should be remembered that the book of Esther is the only Old Testament book in which there is no reference made to God by direct reference.

What we have in the book of Esther is an account of God’s faithfulness in preserving His people, even when they are not obedient, not devout, and have no apparent concern for the God of Israel. Contrary to popular opinion, there is absolutely no evidence in this book of the Bible that the young heroine, Esther, is a particularly godly woman. On the contrary, being able to conceal her Jewish identity probably reveals that she was not particularly spiritual or as courageous as Daniel had been. As well, coming in first in a contest of beautiful women to become the king’s next wife suggests that she might not have been all that virtuous.

Still, Esther is a wonderful example in God’s Word of how a woman can persuade a man to do the right thing. Her appeal resulted, humanly speaking, in saving her nation from annihilation, at great risk to her own life. How so? In a number of ways, not the least of which is the fact that history records her husband as being the man known to secular history as Xerxes I, who would die at the hand of an assassin less than ten years after these events took place. History also records him as being extraordinarily temperamental, unpredictable, and ruthless.

On one occasion, an elderly man approached Ahasuerus and asked if his oldest son could be excused from a military campaign in exchange for a large contribution to defray the expenses of the campaign. The king’s response was to take the son and have him cut in two before the horrified father, and march the army between the halves.

On another occasion, Ahasuerus is said to have taken a chain into the water on the shore of the Mediterranean Sea and punishing the Sea by lashing it with the chain for storming and ruining his attempt to invade Greece using his powerful fleet of ships. No wonder Esther feared approaching him. Her appeal is an amazing study of how to apply the principles of how to convince one in authority to do right, even when the person appealed to is bizarre and unreasonable by reason of being temperamental.

Our case study begins when a highly placed official named Haman maneuvered the king into ordering all Jews in the empire killed because they, well, they just did not fit in. When Esther’s uncle Mordecai discovered Haman’s plot against the Jewish people, he had to devise a plan to rescue his people. Hard to do since it was law that once a Persian king issued an edict it could not be reversed.

So, here is what happened. Mordecai sent word by means of a go-between to Esther that she had to talk to the king. However, Esther was afraid, Esther 4.10-11:

 

10     Again Esther spake unto Hatach, and gave him commandment unto Mordecai;

11     All the king’s servants, and the people of the king’s provinces, do know, that whosoever, whether man or woman, shall come unto the king into the inner court, who is not called, there is one law of his to put him to death, except such to whom the king shall hold out the golden sceptre, that he may live: but I have not been called to come in unto the king these thirty days.

 

When Esther’s fear and reluctance to approach her husband the king was relayed to Mordecai, he sent a message back to her that persuaded Esther in a way that was definitely not an appeal. He threatened her:

 

12     And they told to Mordecai Esther’s words.

13     Then Mordecai commanded to answer Esther, Think not with thyself that thou shalt escape in the king’s house, more than all the Jews.

14     For if thou altogether holdest thy peace at this time, then shall there enlargement and deliverance arise to the Jews from another place; but thou and thy father’s house shall be destroyed: and who knoweth whether thou art come to the kingdom for such a time as this?

 

Mordecai reminds Esther that she is not safe, even in the palace, and that not only she, but also her entire family, is in danger. His remarks in verse 14 seem to suggest his confidence that the Jewish people will be delivered somehow, and how does Esther know whether she has come to her present position for such a time as this? What follows is one of the most masterful appeals imaginable. In Esther 5.1-4, we read of Esther approaching the king and being allowed to live, a remarkable feat in itself. When able to, she then invited her husband the king and the evil Haman to a dinner party that evening, cleverly acting so as not to reveal to either man her intentions. The king was overtaken with anticipation and excitement as he looked forward to Esther’s surprise:

 

1      Now it came to pass on the third day, that Esther put on her royal apparel, and stood in the inner court of the king’s house, over against the king’s house: and the king sat upon his royal throne in the royal house, over against the gate of the house.

2      And it was so, when the king saw Esther the queen standing in the court, that she obtained favour in his sight: and the king held out to Esther the golden sceptre that was in his hand. So Esther drew near, and touched the top of the sceptre.

3      Then said the king unto her, What wilt thou, queen Esther? and what is thy request? it shall be even given thee to the half of the kingdom.

4      And Esther answered, If it seem good unto the king, let the king and Haman come this day unto the banquet that I have prepared for him.

 

At the banquet, the king asked her what she wanted, and again told her he would give her anything, even to half the kingdom. Showing her mastery of the situation, in Esther 5.5-8, she heightened their anticipation even more by inviting them to yet another banquet to be held the next day. Esther is literally creating the proper timing for her appeal by using feminine wiles.

 

5      Then the king said, Cause Haman to make haste, that he may do as Esther hath said. So the king and Haman came to the banquet that Esther had prepared.

6      And the king said unto Esther at the banquet of wine, What is thy petition? and it shall be granted thee: and what is thy request? even to the half of the kingdom it shall be performed.

7      Then answered Esther, and said, My petition and my request is;

8      If I have found favour in the sight of the king, and if it please the king to grant my petition, and to perform my request, let the king and Haman come to the banquet that I shall prepare for them, and I will do to morrow as the king hath said.

 

Think of what Esther is doing here. She enters the royal throne room at great risk to make an appeal that the king attend a banquet. When that appeal is granted and he attends the banquet, she makes another appeal to attend a second banquet. Notice that in each appeal she deftly includes Haman on her guest list. As we read Esther 7.1-4, recognize that it is actually in this third appeal that Esther admits to being Jewish and tells of an evil plot against her people, pointing out that Haman, the third person at the banquet, is the perpetrator. The rest, as they say, is history.

 

1      So the king and Haman came to banquet with Esther the queen.

2      And the king said again unto Esther on the second day at the banquet of wine, What is thy petition, queen Esther? and it shall be granted thee: and what is thy request? and it shall be performed, even to the half of the kingdom.

3      Then Esther the queen answered and said, If I have found favour in thy sight, O king, and if it please the king, let my life be given me at my petition, and my people at my request:

4      For we are sold, I and my people, to be destroyed, to be slain, and to perish. But if we had been sold for bondmen and bondwomen, I had held my tongue, although the enemy could not countervail the king’s damage.

 

When asked by her husband the king who this enemy is, Esther points the finger of accusation at the third guest at the banquet, Haman. Esther 7.5-6:

 

5      Then the king Ahasuerus answered and said unto Esther the queen, Who is he, and where is he, that durst presume in his heart to do so?

6      And Esther said, The adversary and enemy is this wicked Haman. Then Haman was afraid before the king and the queen.

 

When the king stepped out of the room Haman, rushing toward Esther to plead for mercy, accidentally stumbles and falls on her just as the king comes back. It looks like Haman is attacking or being forward with the king’s wife. So, his fate is sealed, Esther’s request is granted, the Jewish people are delivered, and to this day religious Jews commemorate the event with the feast of Purim.

If you will read Esther chapter 6 as a family when you get home, you will see some details that I have not touched on concerning Esther’s appeal. I left those details out because they were providential events that could only be arranged by God, things that were unknown to Esther. However, it is often the case that God works behind the scenes in ways unknown to the person who prayerfully makes the appeal that helps to make the appeal process useful in turning the heart of the king, or the boss, or the spouse, or the dad.

We have reviewed the appeals of three woman who had profound influence with men of great power and authority. These were men whose rise to their stations in life, humanly speaking, no doubt left them pretty tough and relentless. Boaz lived during a hard time and was probably a hard man. David and Ahasuerus were both absolute monarchs, with the power of life and death. Yet in all three cases we have seen a woman, using wisdom, make an appeal that was responded to favorably.

Do not forget, by the way, that each of the women had someone older and wiser to counsel them. Naomi advised Ruth, Nathan advised Bathsheba, and Mordecai advised Esther. Even an old man can show a young woman how to use feminine wiles to influence a powerful and obstinate man.

 

It may be that you cannot imagine yourself appealing to an authority figure the way Ruth did, the way Bathsheba did, and the way Esther did. I completely understand your concerns. After all, our culture has little respect for authority, in general, and one result of that disrespect has been the tragic loss of the skills associated with making appropriate appeals to someone occupying a position of power or authority.

It may also be that you occupy a position of authority in the lives of other people, and you have made up your mind that you will never be manipulated by women the way those three men were manipulated. Let me remind you, first, that those three women manipulated no one. In each instance, their appeal was of profound benefit to the authority figure they appealed to. Boaz got a wife and child and David got a throne for his son Solomon. Ahasuerus got rid of a dangerously manipulative bureaucrat who had tricked him into signing a death warrant for the Jewish population of his empire, and probably extended his life by removing the man who might have next plotted his death as he had plotted the extermination of the Jews.

I have been the pastor of this church for approaching 23 years. During that time, I have made some good decisions as well as some appalling decisions. One of the best decisions I have ever made, and one that I cannot imagine a wise man ever regretting, was the decision to eagerly receive every attempt to appeal to me. The only time I will not entertain an appeal is if the timing is horrible or if the spirit is bad, such as when someone is disrespectful or intentionally conceals information that is pertinent to the appeal.

Let me encourage you to diligently apply yourself to being in right relation to those with authority over you, so that when (notice I did not say if) they display an error in judgment you will be able to help that person out by making a God-honoring appeal that will help that person, as well as being of benefit to your Christian life.



[1] Webster’s New Universal Unabridged Dictionary, (New York: Barnes & Noble Books, 1996), page 963.

[2] Fritz Rienecker & Cleon Rogers, Linguistic Key To The Greek New Testament, (Grand Rapids, MI: Regency Reference Library, 1980), page 735.

[3] Genesis 41.39

[4] 1 Kings 2.1, 9

[5] 1 King 5.7

[6] Luke 2.52; 1 Corinthians 1.30

[7] 1 Corinthians 3.10

[8] Psalm 121.1



Would you like to contact Dr. Waldrip about this sermon? Please contact him by clicking on the link below. Please do not change the subject within your email message. Thank you.

pastor@calvaryroadbaptist.org