Posted by: Bill Hornbeck | May 27, 2015

“That is, it is not the children of the flesh who are children of God, but the children of the promise are regarded as descendants.”

Today’s devotion comes from 2 Samuel Chapter 18.  Here is a link to this chapter –

I quote only the following verses.

“6 Then the people went out into the field against Israel, and the battle took place in the forest of Ephraim.  7 The people of Israel were defeated there before the servants of David, and the slaughter there that day was great, 20,000 men.  8 For the battle there was spread over the whole countryside, and the forest devoured more people that day than the sword devoured.

9 Now Absalom happened to meet the servants of David.  For Absalom was riding on his mule, and the mule went under the thick branches of a great oak.  And his head caught fast in the oak, so he was left hanging between heaven and earth, while the mule that was under him kept going.  10 When a certain man saw it, he told Joab and said, “Behold, I saw Absalom hanging in an oak.”  11 Then Joab said to the man who had told him, “Now behold, you saw him!  Why then did you not strike him there to the ground?  And I would have given you ten pieces of silver and a belt.”  12 The man said to Joab, “Even if I should receive a thousand pieces of silver in my hand, I would not put out my hand against the king’s son;  for in our hearing the king charged you and Abishai and Ittai, saying, ‘Protect for me the young man Absalom!’  13 Otherwise, if I had dealt treacherously against his life (and there is nothing hidden from the king), then you yourself would have stood aloof.”  14 Then Joab said, “I will not waste time here with you.”  So he took three spears in his hand and thrust them through the heart of Absalom while he was yet alive in the midst of the oak.  15 And ten young men who carried Joab’s armor gathered around and struck Absalom and killed him.

33 The king was deeply moved and went up to the chamber over the gate and wept.  And thus he said as he walked, “O my son Absalom, my son, my son Absalom!  Would I had died instead of you, O Absalom, my son, my son!”  2 Samuel Chapter 18:  Verses 6-15 and 33.


Although God had ordained the death of Absalom, and although Absalom tried so hard to kill David, we see how deeply David grieved for the death of his son Absalom.

We are reminded of similar emotions from Paul in Romans Chapter 9.

“I am telling the truth in Christ, I am not lying, my conscience testifies with me in the Holy Spirit, that I have great sorrow and unceasing grief in my heart.  For I could wish that I myself were accursed, separated from Christ for the sake of my brethren, my kinsmen according to the flesh, who are Israelites, to whom belongs the adoption as sons, and the glory and the covenants and the giving of the Law and the temple service and the promises, whose are the fathers, and from whom is the Christ according to the flesh, who is over all, God blessed forever.  Amen.

But it is not as though the word of God has failed.  For they are not all Israel who are descended from Israel;  nor are they all children because they are Abraham’s descendants, but:  “through Isaac your descendants will be named.”  That is, it is not the children of the flesh who are children of God, but the children of the promise are regarded as descendants.”  Romans 9:1-8.

Our affections are naturally inclined to our children and other relatives.  We even try to fit our theology according to these affections.

The Protestant Reformed Churches also struggled with this issue.  A substantial part of those churches wanted to stretch God’s covenant blessings over all of their baptized children, rather than just acknowledging that God’s covenant blessings were only over the unconditional elect.  In effect, this substantial part formed their theology to be “conditional”.

But, at an eventual substantial membership loss, the Protestant Reformed Churches firmly repudiated this substantial part in its “Declaration of Principles” adopted by its Synod in 1951:

“A. We repudiate:

1. The teaching:

a. That the promise of the covenant is conditional and for all that are baptized.

b. That we may presuppose that all the children that are baptized are regenerated, for we know on the basis of Scripture, as well as in the light of all history and experience, that the contrary is true.”

The Protestant Reformed Churches further provided this summary in its “Declaration of Principles”:

“This article very clearly teaches:

1. That all the covenant blessings are for the elect alone.

2. That God’s promise is unconditionally for them only:  for God cannot promise what was not objectively permitted by Christ.

3. That the promise of God bestows the objective right of salvation not upon all the children that are born under the historical dispensation of the covenant, that is, not upon all that are baptized, but only upon the spiritual seed.” 

David, Paul, the Protestant Reformed churches, and we are eventually forced to realize that Scripture keeps coming back to “Unconditional Election”, the “U” of “TULIP’ the Five Points of Calvinism, the Reformed Doctrine of Salvation.

“For He says to Moses, “I will have mercy on whom I have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion.”  So then it does not depend on the man who wills or the man who runs, but on God who has mercy.   For the Scripture says to Pharaoh, “For this very purpose I raised you up, to demonstrate My power in you, and that My name might be proclaimed throughout the whole earth.”  So then He has mercy on whom He desires, and He hardens whom He desires.”  Romans 9:15-18.


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