WORD STUDY – FOR THE SAKE OF
I Kings 11:13: “Howbeit I will not rend away all the kingdom; [but] will give one tribe to thy son for David my servant’s sake, and for Jerusalem’s sake which I have chosen.”
I remember an orthodox rabbi once telling me: “You Christians, you just don’t understand the heart of David.” You know, he is right. To really understand the heart of David we need to know something about the heart of God. For the most part Christians seem to spend a lot of time on evangelism, church growth and how to get things from God that they spend so little time in trying to understand God’s heart, let alone the heart of David.
I am beginning to research a possible book on the heart of David and my research has taken me to this verse which raises an interesting question. God is speaking to David’s son Solomon who is about to face a civil war and indeed after his death a civil war does take place and the nation is divided. God is prophesying this split and note what he says: “(I) will give one tribe to thy son for David my servant’s sake,” I mean David is forty years in the grave, enjoying his heavenly reward, what does he care if the nation is split or not? It is not his concern anymore. I know, God is speaking of honoring David’s legacy.
Does a person really care about a legacy after he is gone? I mean I have a number of books that are out there and I am making arrangements for someone to take over the management of the books and royalties and to make sure the books stay on the market after I join David in his heavenly home. But you know what? The only reason I want my books to continue is to keep the message of God’s love going, but as far as a legacy goes? Who cares? I am going to be up there with the greats like Moses, Elijah, David and multitudes of others who have left a legacy. Is it going to matter to me if someone remembers this Chaim Bentorah fellow? Not this old boy, I am going to be involved in much better things like sharing with the angelic host the many faithful things God had done for me while I lived on this planet.
So for me, I don’t understand this “for David my servant’s sake.” In my thinking David is so preoccupied with being wrapped in the love of God right now that he doesn’t care on whit whether people today on earth are saying: “Oy, what great man David was, come come let us honor him.”
My father told the story when he served in World War II. During the Battle of the Bulge word went out that they army was looking for volunteers to join the airborne group to parachute out over Belgium for a strategic battle. My father was all fired up and went to volunteer. He went to his CO who was a very practical down to earth Jewish man who looked at my father and asked: “Floyd, now why would you want to go over there and do something like that? You will just get yourself killed and the people back home will forget about you and life will go on without you.” My father said his CO talked him out of it. He realized he rather enjoy his legacy while he was alive.
The key here is the Hebrew word used for the sake of. This is the word lema’an from the root word ma’an which really meanson account of, or because of. For the sake of is also a use and is the rendering of practically every modern English translation. Yet, that rendering suggest that God is seeking a legacy for David. Poor David, he worked so hard for his kingdom, surely God did not want him to be disappointed so He preserved one tribe. However, if we render this as on account of David, then we have an entirely different picture. Here is God preserving a kingdom for the children of David and those loyal to him because of David’s faithfulness to God.
Moses pleaded with God on the mountaintop to spare the nation of Israel after their sin with the golden calf and God said that for ma’an or Moses’s sake he would spare them. I have known Godly, praying parents who prayed and fasted for a wayward child. I believe ma’an for their sake God kept his hand of protection on that child during their wayward days. There were likely times the enemy could have taken their child’s life but ma’an because of the faithful parents, that child soon came back safely home to God.
You see, if a person just rejects God and goes off on their own way, God cannot continue to keep His hand of protection on them, it would violate man’s free will. Yet if there is a parent, sibling or friend standing in the gap for that person, praying for that person God can say: “Ma’an, because of you or for your sake, I will protect them until they choose to return to me.
Perhaps you have had this experience when you wake up in the middle of the night or just out of nowhere you feel led to pray for someone you never met. Sometimes I just don’t know the person’s name but I can see them in my mind and heart and I don’t know how to pray for them but I do pray for them in my spirit and let my spirit speak the utterances. Because I know that God wants to do something in that person’s life but he needs a ma’an to stand in the gap so he can say; “Ma’an, for your sake I can do something because you asked.”