Lessons from divine judgment (Wis 12:19-12:22)

“Through such works,

You have taught your people.

The righteous man must be kind.

You filled your children with good hope.

Because you give repentance for sins.

If you punish with such great care,

If you punish with such great indulgence,

The enemies of your servants,

As well as those deserving of death,

You grant them time to give up their wickedness.

You grant them the opportunity to give up their wickedness.

With what strictness

You have judged your children.

Our ancestors gave oaths.

They gave covenants full of good promises!

While chastening us,

You scourge our enemies

Ten thousand times more.

Thus when we judge,

We may meditate upon your goodness.

When we are judged,

We may expect mercy.”

We have to learn something from the actions of God. We learn that the righteous person (τὸν δίκαιον) must be kind (φιλάνθρωπον), just like God. We need to have hope for repentance (μετάνοιαν) just like our sons or children (τοὺς υἱούς σου), when we punish them with care and indulgence. Our enemies deserve death, but we should grant them an opportunity in a time and place (χρόνους καὶ τόπον) to give up their wickedness, just like our children. Our ancestors gave oaths, promises, and covenants. Thus God punishes us, but he punishes our enemies 10,000 times more. When we judge others, we should remember the goodness of God. When we are judged, we expect mercy (ἔλεος).

The flight of King Ben-hadad (1 Kings 20:30-20:34)

“King Ben-hadad also fled. He entered the city to hide. His servants said to him. ‘Look, we have heard that the kings of the house of Israel are merciful kings. Let us put sackcloth around our waists and ropes on our heads. We will go out to the king of Israel. Perhaps he will spare your life.’ So they tied sackcloth around their waists. They put ropes on their heads. They went to the king of Israel and said. ‘Your servant Ben-hadad says. ‘Please let me live.’ King Ahab said. ‘Is he still live? He is my brother.’ Now the men were watching for an omen. They quickly took it up from him and said. ‘Yes, Ben-hadad is your brother.’ Then he said. ‘Go and bring him.’ Then King Ben-hadad came out to him. He had him come up into the chariot. King Ben-hadad said to him. ‘I will restore the towns that my father took from your father. You may establish bazaars for yourself in Damascus, as my father did in Samaria.’ King Ahab of Israel said. ‘I will let you go on these terms.’ So he made a treaty with him and let him go.”

King Ben-hadad fled into the city to hide. His servants or advisors came up with a plan because they heard the kings of Israel were merciful. They put on sackcloth and ropes as if they were in mourning. They then went to King Ahab of Israel to ask him to let their king live. King Ahab asked if he was still alive since they were like brothers. Then he called King Ben-hadad to his chariot and they struck a treaty. King Ben-hadad would return all the towns that his father had taken from Israel. He also agreed to have a bazaar in Damascus as there was one in Samaria. With that King Ahab let King Ben-hadad go free.