TITLE: THE WAGES OF SIN IS DEATH
Subtitle: You Reap What You Sow
All of us are acquainted with the concept of working and receiving wages for that work. Once we have expended the labor, we rightly expect to be paid the agreed amount for services rendered. Those who farm for a living plant their fields in the spring and expect to reap their crops in the fall. If they planted wheat, they certainly will not be planning to harvest corn! No, planting wheat yields more wheat. It is this concept of planting and harvesting that we find in Galatians 6, verses 7 and 8:
"Do not be deceived and deluded and misled; God will not allow Himself to be sneered at—scorned, disdained or mocked [by mere pretensions or professions, or His precepts being set aside].—He inevitably deludes himself who attempts to delude God. For whatever a man sows, that and that only is what he will reap. For he who sows to his own flesh (lower nature, sensuality) will from the flesh reap decay and ruin and destruction; but he who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap life eternal" (Parallel Bible, KJV/Amplified Bible Commentary).
This idea is further amplified in Romans 6:23:
"For the wages which sin pays is death; but the [bountiful] free gift of God is eternal life through (in union with) Jesus Christ our Lord" (Parallel Bible, KJV/Amplified Bible Commentary).
In the Old Testament Book of Second Samuel there is an incident recorded which is a vivid illustration of these principles. We begin our reading in verse 5:
"When King David came to Bahurim, a man of the family of the house of Saul, Shimei son of Gera, came out and cursed continually as he came. And he cast stones at David, and at all the servants of King David; and all the people and all the mighty men were on his right hand and on his left. Shimei said as he cursed, Get out, get out, you man of blood, you base fellow! The Lord has avenged upon you all the blood of the house of Saul, in whose stead you have reigned; and the Lord has delivered the kingdom into the hand of Absalom your son. Behold, the calamity is upon you, because you are a bloody man! Then said [David’s nephew] Abishai son of Zeruiah to the king, Why should this dead dog curse my lord the king? Let me go over and take off his head. The king said, What have I to do with you, you sons of Zeruiah? If he is cursing because the Lord said to him, Curse David, who then shall ask, Why have you done so? And David said to Abishai, and to all his servants, Behold, my son, who was born to me, seeks my life. With how much more reason now may this Benjamite do it? Let him alone, and let him curse; for the Lord has bidden him do it. It may be that the Lord will look on the iniquity done me, and will recompense me good for his cursing this day. So David and his men went by the road, and Shimei went along on the hillside opposite David, and cursed as he went, and threw stones and dust at him. And the king, and all the people who were with him, came [to the Jordan] weary, and he refreshed himself there" ( 2 Samuel 16:5-14, Parallel Bible, KJV/Amplified Bible Commentary).
The background behind this portion of Scripture in 2 Samuel is that David’s son Absalom was rebellious and had worked behind David’s back to "win the hearts of the men of Israel". Once he was sure that he had enough power, Absalom staged a palace coup and overthrew his father, who then escaped for his life—along with the rest of his family and those who remained loyal to him. This incident, in itself, was a time of reaping for David because of his terrible sin with Bathsheba, the wife of Uriah the Hittite. God gave David "enough rope to hang himself" in that He waited for him to repent of his sin, but when he did not—Nathan the prophet was sent to confront him and announce that God was going to punish the sin. David immediately confessed his guilt and asked for forgiveness—which God granted. But "the wages of sin is death" and God took the baby boy that was born of the illicit affair. David was also told that "the sword would never depart from his house"—and as long as he lived, he would continue to experience one problem after another! The Biblical record of his life reveals that God’s judgment upon this sin was carried out to the fullest—both in David’s own life and that of his family. When we consider David’s relationship with God and remember that God referred to him as "a man after mine own heart" (1 Samuel 13:14 and Acts 13:22)—we should have a greater appreciation of the fact that sin has consequences and we cannot escape just because we are members of God’s family.
We also see a further amplification of this principle where the man Shimei is concerned. He was of the tribe of Benjamin—the same tribe as King Saul—and was convinced that David had played a part in Saul’s downfall. That is why he accused David of being a "bloody man"—figuratively having the former king’s blood on his hands. Of course David was completely innocent of this, but Shimei is glad to see him having to run for his life and uses the opportunity to curse him and tell him what he thinks of him. In doing so, he appears to be either insane or extremely brave because David is a great warrior and probably had his sword close by. Not only that, he is surrounded by several of his generals—his "mighty men"—and a small army who have come along to protect him. As they proceed on their way, Shimei continues to follow along throwing stones and dust at them, cursing all the while—just having himself a fine temper tantrum! Abishai, David’s nephew and personal body-guard, soon asked if the king wanted him to relieve Shimei of his head! What does this man mean by cursing Israel’s king—God’s anointed? Even if the charges that David had conspired against Saul were true (and they certainly were not), he had not shed any of Saul’s blood. Quite the contrary, he had several opportunities to kill him and humanly speaking, would have been justified in doing so because Saul had definitely tried to kill David. But David refused to kill him because Saul was, at that time, king of Israel.
Another interesting aspect of this story is that in Exodus 22:28, God had expressly forbidden what Shimei was doing! The verse says in part, "Thou shalt not…curse the ruler of thy people" (KJV). Instant retribution would have been understandable, but because of being under God’s judgment for his own sin David told Abishai to "back off". His attitude toward himself was that he "had it coming" and was probably being punished by God. That being the case, he would take it like a man. Shimei may have viewed David’s lack of action to be cowardice, but at any rate he made maximum use of the opportunity and probably felt pretty smug in that he had gotten away with it. Or had he?
In the meantime Absalom’s treachery runs its course and, during a battle, he is pulled off of his mule by getting his head and hair caught in the fork of a tree limb—where he is found and murdered by Joab, David’s general. David had given the order that Absalom be taken alive and done no harm, but Joab took it upon himself to kill him when he had the chance. David’s heart is broken by the news of his son’s death and he mourns for him, even though Absalom had been a wicked and deceitful person. As far as we know, Joab was not specifically reprimanded by David for killing Absalom, but he was also guilty of killing two other men: Abner and Amasa—both captains in Israel’s army. Perhaps Joab, like Shimei, thought that he was free and clear.
After Absalom’s death (2 Samuel 19:16-23)—even while David is on his way back to resume leadership in Jerusalem—Shimei and 1000 men of the tribe of Benjamin with him, hastily come to meet David at the River Jordan in order to apologize for his earlier actions. It is obvious to Shimei that he is in big trouble because David is king once again and the situation is completely different now! However, David is in a good mood because of his reversal of fortune and he gave his word to Shimei that he would not kill him.
David resumed his leadership of Israel and reigned until he became too old to do so. When the time came that his successor needed to be designated, he named Solomon because God had already chosen him (1 Chronicles 22:6-10) from among the many sons of David. Then, in First Kings chapter two we find where David, just prior to his death, is giving his personal charge to the young man Solomon. In verses one and two, he tells Solomon that he (David) is about to die—"to go the way of all the earth"—therefore he (Solomon) must be strong and show himself to be a man. In verses three and four, he cautions Solomon to obey God and to walk in His statutes and commandments, so that he might prosper. Then in verse 5, David makes it known to Solomon that there was some unfinished business that needed to be taken care of. He says to Solomon, "You know what Joab did to me and to the two captains, Abner and Amasa!" What did Joab do to David? He intentionally disregarded David’s orders concerning his son and killed him. He then had the audacity to chide David for what he considered to be shameless behavior on his part in mourning for Absalom (2 Samuel 19:5-6)! David, in verse 6, advises Solomon to use his own judgment where Joab was concerned, but not to let "his hoary (white) head go to the grave in peace". In verse 7 Solomon is instructed to show kindness to the "sons of Barzillai the Gileadite" by allowing them to eat at the king’s table—that is, to provide for them. Their father Barzillai showed great kindness to David while he was in hiding from Absalom and his army. Finally, in verses 8 and 9 David instructs Solomon again to use his wisdom where Shimei is concerned and "do not hold him guiltless". His white head should be put in the grave by spilling his blood. Both Joab and Shimei are now old men and have probably long since put out of their minds any thoughts of retribution from David, but "the wages of sin is death". David makes sure that they pay with their lives and God makes sure they pay with their souls.
Very soon after Solomon is crowned as the new king, he gives the order that Joab be executed and Benaiah, the son of Jehoiada, is assigned the task (1 Kings 2:26-46). Someone must have overheard the king’s order, because the news reached Joab before Benaiah did. In a desperate attempt to save his life, Joab ran to the tabernacle and caught hold of "the horns of the altar" (horn-like projections on the sides of the brazen altar). This was thought to be a place of refuge and that no one would dare to avenge themselves there because of its central position in their system of worship. When Benaiah found Joab, he called him out of the tabernacle enclosure, but Joab refused and said that he would die there. Again, this was a calculated move on the part of Joab, because he thought that he would be safe as long as he stayed where he was. Benaiah then went back to the king and told him about the situation. Without hesitation, Solomon gave the order that Joab be granted his request—he would in fact die there! So Benaiah went back, killed Joab, and buried him—just as he had been ordered to do. Mission number one accomplished.
Solomon then turns to the man Shimei and decides to handle his case in a different manner. It would appear from the king’s actions that he wanted to ensure that no one could accuse him, or his father David, of any impropriety because of David’s oath that he would not kill Shimei. We see Solomon’s wisdom displayed in that he makes an arbitrary decree that Shimei build himself a house in Jerusalem and stay there, effectively putting himself under house arrest! He is told in no uncertain terms that if he ever strays outside the city limits, he will be put to death. Judging from his response, it seems that Shimei was expecting some sort of revenge from Solomon and he is relieved by what appears to be a "slap on the wrist". In verse 39 we are told that Shimei was a model citizen for three years, but when two of his servants ran away and took refuge with the Philistines at Gath—he had a momentary lapse of judgment, pursued them, and brought them back. Perhaps Shimei thought that he could get away with it—why, after three long years who would even be looking? Certainly God saw to it that someone was looking and they brought word to Solomon about Shimei’s little trip. Shortly thereafter Shimei was called before the king and reminded of his earlier agreement to abide by the king’s command and the consequences if he did not. Furthermore, Solomon explained to him, you must remember all of the wickedness that you did to my father David! About this time Shimei gets the big picture and he knows that it’s all over. Benaiah is again commanded to execute the king’s decree and justice is swiftly carried out. Final mission accomplished.
Some has said that "God’s mill runs slowly, but it grinds exceedingly fine!" The principle of sowing and reaping is timeless and we must always bear that in mind. Rather than sowing to the flesh—living for self and the pleasures of this life—we should learn from these biblical principles and sow the seeds of righteousness.
If you have accepted Jesus Christ as your personal Savior, but have been very lukewarm in your spiritual walk with Him, you need to immediately ask Him for forgiveness and for renewal. He will instantly forgive you, and fill your heart with the joy of the Holy Spirit. Then, you need to begin a daily walk of prayer and personal Bible Study.
If you have never accepted Jesus Christ as Savior, but have come to realize His reality and the approaching End of the Age, and want to accept His FREE Gift of Eternal Life, you can also do so now, in the privacy of your home. Once you accept Him as Savior, you are spiritually Born Again, and are as assured of Heaven as if you were already there. Then, you can rest assured that the Kingdom of Antichrist will not touch you spiritually. If you would like to become Born Again, turn to our Salvation Page now.
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