Under the Tamarisk Tree

And the Philistines overtook Saul and his sons, and the Philistines struck down Jonathan and Abinadab and Malchi-shua, the sons of Saul… Saul died, and his three sons, and his armor-bearer, and all his men, on the same day together. And when the men of Israel who were on the other side of the valley and those beyond the Jordan saw that the men of Israel had fled and that Saul and his sons were dead, they abandoned their cities and fled. And the Philistines came and lived in them. The next day, when the Philistines came to strip the slain, they found Saul and his three sons fallen on Mount Gilboa. So they cut off his head and stripped off his armor and sent messengers throughout the land of the Philistines, to carry the good news to the house of their idols and to the people. They put his armor in the temple of Ashtaroth, and they fastened his body to the wall of Beth-shan. But when the inhabitants of Jabesh-gilead heard what the Philistines had done to Saul, all the valiant men arose and went all night and took the body of Saul and the bodies of his sons from the wall of Beth-shan, and they came to Jabesh and burned them there. And they took their bones and buried them under the tamarisk tree in Jabesh and fasted seven days.” 1 Samuel 31:2,6-13

When these noble Israelites buried Saul and his sons, they were putting to rest what had been to them the hope of Israel. They had insisted on having a king, so they could be like all the other nations, and God granted them one, declaring they had rejected God Himself, and warning them of a king’s over-reach into their lives. Saul had not lived up to their expectations, and they were burying the failure of their own choices, man’s ways. It was a sober day of sorrow, and would be a new beginning. (1 Samuel 8:5-20)

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Jesus offers us the same opportunity, at Calvary’s tree. With Him we can bury our failures, our disappointments, our choices that have brought pain and far-reaching consequences, scars that heal but leave marks nevertheless. With Him we can put to rest long-held bitterness, resentment, coveting, unmet longings, sorrows, and worry over situations that cannot change. We can rise and, like those from Jabesh-gilead, boldly and deliberately take what needs to be left behind and put away forever, and head to the tamarisk tree of the cross, and dig. And from there we can rise to newness of life, to all God has for us from now on. (Galatians 2:20; Philippians 3:13-14)

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What attitudes, regretted actions, sin habits burden like dead weight today? Naming these, confessing them, and carrying them to bury once for all under the tamarisk tree of Jesus’s cross will bring freedom and new flourishing. “We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life.” (Romans 6:4)

Lord God, help me identify what You want to put away from me forever. May I boldly come to Your throne of grace and be rid of these once for all. (Psalm 51:2,7; Hebrews 4:16)

 

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