Jesus Understands

King David’s relationship with the LORD and position in God’s kingdom entitled him to constant protection from his enemies. David prayed, “Let them be ashamed and confounded that seek after my soul: Let them be turned backward, and put to confusion, that desire my hurt” (Psalm 70:2). Although  David had many enemies on earth, he also had spiritual enemies because of the work he was doing to establish God’s eternal kingdom and the birth of his Messiah.

The word translated hurt, ra‘ (rah) which means bad or evil (7451) is derived from the word ra‘a‘ (raw – ah´) which also means evil, but is properly translated as to spoil, literally by breaking into pieces and figuratively to make or be good for nothing (7489). Satan did not want David to establish and unify God’s kingdom on earth because it was his territory so to speak. After he enticed Eve to sin in the Garden of Eden, Satan was given temporary reign over the earth until the Messiah came and overpowered him.

The word ra‘ combines together in one the wicked deed and its consequences. It generally indicates the rough exterior of wrongdoing as a breach of harmony, and as breaking up what is good and desirable in man and in society. While the prominent characteristic of the godly is lovingkindness (2617), one of the most marked features of the ungodly man is that his course is an injury to both himself and to everyone around him (7451).

Part of life on earth is the inevitability of being hurt. Because Satan is alive and well on planet earth, there is no way to escape evil. Peter said, “Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour” (1 Peter 5:8).

David said in Psalm 69, “Because for thy sake I have borne reproach; shame hath covered my face” (Psalm 69:7). David may have felt like he had a target on his back because of the frequency of his troubling situations. No doubt he was a marked man and Satan was behind most of David’s trials and tribulations. In spite of the difficulty David experienced, David knew that God loved him and was aware of everything that happened to him.

David said, “Thou hast known my reproach, and my shame, and my dishonor: Mine adversaries are all before thee. Reproach hath broken my heart; and I am full of heaviness: And I looked for some to take pity, but there was none” (Psalm 69:19-20). The word translated reproach, cherpâh (kher – paw´) means disgrace (2761) and is derived from the word châraph (khaw – raf´) which means to pull off and by implication “to expose (as by stripping)” (2778).

I think one of the most disgraceful things that can happen to a person is to be raped. There is something about being stripped of your clothes that makes you feel vulnerable and at the mercy of your attacker. In the gospel of John, it says that “the soldiers, when they had crucified Jesus, took his garments” (John 19:23). The Greek word translated took, lambano is sometimes used to denote the violent act of seizing or removing something. In essence, what this verse is stating is that Jesus was stripped of his clothing after he was nailed to the cross. He experienced the humiliation of being exposed publicly. He was taunted and insulted and made to feel worthless in the eyes of his followers.

When David said, “Thou hast known my reproach, and my shame, and my dishonor” (Psalm 69:19), he was probably talking about the LORD seeing what was going on in his life. Today we know that Jesus had a similar experience and could relate to David based on his own reproach, shame, and dishonor. It is possible that David was writing prophetically when he said, “Reproach hath broken my heart; and I am full of heaviness” (Psalm 69:20) because in Psalm 69:21 it says, “They gave me gall for my meat; and in my thirst they gave me vinegar to drink,” something that Jesus experienced when he was on the cross.

People that have not been raped or experienced any other kind of reproach or type of dishonor may wonder why Jesus died on a cross. For those of us that have experienced rape, we know that he died such a death so that he could understand our pain and suffering in a more intimate and personal way. Because I know that Jesus understands what I went through, being raped doesn’t hurt quite so much.

You can go your own way

Being strong can be a Catch 22 of sorts because it’s both a help and a hindrance when it comes to walking with the Lord. To be effective as Christians, we must learn to depend on the Lord, but we must also be able to stand on our own two feet and not cower when we are attacked by our enemy the devil.

The Lord knows our weaknesses and does not expect us to do everything right. In fact, he plans for us to make mistakes and will always be able to account for the choices we make when it comes to accomplishing his will in our lives.

So then, does it really matter if we choose to go to the left instead of the right when we come to a crossroad in our life? Yes, if you would like to avoid some of the pain and suffering you experience in your life. Some people like to travel the hard road and enjoy having challenges on a regular basis. Other people like to take things easy and become discouraged when things get too difficult. Although I hate to admit it, I seem to be one of those people that can’t stand the easy life. If I’m not facing a challenge, I think there is something wrong with me. Getting into trouble is not second nature to me, it’s the only way I know how to handle things. I guess you could say I’m just naturally rebellious and believe me, I know a lot about pain and suffering.

“And it came to pass, when Israel was strong that they put the Canaanites to tribute, and did not utterly drive them out” (Judges 1:28). The word strong here is probably referring to moral strength or courage, but because the Israelites were disobeying God by not driving out their enemies, you could say they were a little to strong, maybe even cocky or as my grandmother used to say, getting a little too big for their own britches. They thought they could handle being the task masters for a change and wanted to make slaves of the Canaanites the way they had been in Egypt. It was a bad decision, one they would regret eventually, but I’m sure it seemed like a good idea at the time and can relate to their desire to turn the tables and try to even the score.

The most prominent role God has in the universe is creator. It is of course a critical role because if he hadn’t been able to create things, then our world wouldn’t exist and there would be no life as we know it today. I think the role of creator overshadows most of God’s other roles, but by far the role that does not get the attention it deserves is fixer or re-creator. I believe God loves to fix things and that may be why he designed man with a sin nature.

In Joshua 5:9 there is recorded a significant milestone in the development of the nation of Israel that may not seem important unless you look at it from the perspective of fixing a problem. The problem was that after spending hundreds of years in Egypt and becoming slaves to Pharaoh, the Israelites had developed an attitude of reproach toward themselves, they knew that things weren’t right, but they felt helpless and unable to change because they has spent so much time living in a dysfunctional state.

It is natural to feel reproach when things are not right in our lives and because we are created in God’s image, we have a tendency to try and fix things when we feel reproach, but we do not have the same ability God does to make things right. It is like a five year old child that wants to make his own breakfast. When the toast gets burned, he tries to scrape the black stuff off, but it just doesn’t taste right after being burned. In Joshua 5:9 it says, “And the LORD said unto Joshua, This day have I rolled the reproach of Egypt from off you.” The use of the words rolled away indicate there is some kind of process involved in removing their reproach, but it doesn’t make sense that God would literally roll away their reproach, so he must be speaking figuratively and is using terminology that will trigger their understanding of what has happened to them. What I believe the LORD was alluding to here was the Israelites reproach being like a large stone that needs to be rolled off the opening of a cistern so that fresh water can be accessed.

Cisterns were very common during the time when the Israelites were settling in Canaan. It was  standard practice to cover the cisterns with large stones that made it difficult to access the water because it was a valuable commodity and in high demand in areas where there was not much rainfall. As in the instance when Jacob rolled the stone from the well’s mouth so that Rachel could water her father’s flock, it was “a feat of unusual strength for one man, because the stone was large” (Note on Gen 29:10, KJV). When an angel of the LORD came up from Gilgal to confront the Israelites, he reminds them that God had done his part by bringing them out of Egypt into the Promised Land, but they had not done their part, which was to drive out the inhabitants of Canaan, “but ye have not obeyed my voice: why have you done this?” (Judges 2:2).

After I became a Christian, God cleansed me of all my sins an through the blood of Jesus Christ made me perfectly righteous and pure in his sight. All the bad things that had happened in my life up to that point were wiped away from his memory and I had a clean slate in regards to my right standing with him. But, the things that had happened were not wiped from my memory. In fact, it seemed like all the bad things I had done and that had been done to me were more prominent in my memory and I was suddenly aware of what a wretched sinner I was. So, instead of starting a new life and believing that God wanted to bless me, I compromised and got pregnant when I was not married.

“They ceased not from their own doings, nor from their stubborn way” (Judges 2:19). The word translated stubborn in Judges 2:19 is derived from the word qâshâh (kaw – shaw´) which means to be dense, tough or severe. “This word marks the restlessness, impatience, petulance, and irritability with which Pharaoh’s course of action was characterized while he was resisting the urgent appeals of both Moses and his own people” (7185). After entering the Promised Land, the Israelites began to act like Pharaoh. As they had once been abused and forced into slave labor, they began to do the same thing to their enemies in Canaan.

I’m not sure why victims take on the characteristics of their abusers, but I think it may be a sort of coping mechanism that helps them to function during times of stress. Because I was raped at a young age, I never had a chance to experience normal sexual behavior. Whenever I was in a situation where I felt someone was attracted to me sexually, my defenses would be triggered and I would immediately take on the role of the aggressor so that I didn’t feel vulnerable and overcome by fear.

When I got married, I was not able to respond to my husband the way a woman normally would. Our sex life was completely dysfunctional and it was one of the reasons our marriage failed. I really feel that the reason I didn’t change in this area after I became a Christian is because I was stubborn. I was harboring resentment over being raped and thought my behavior was justified. Now that I have been divorced almost 13 years, I can see that I was only hurting myself by being stubborn and wish that I had been able to overcome my fear and recover from the abuse I experienced.

One of the key principles that is emphasized throughout the Bible is sowing and reaping. When we continue in our “own doings” for long periods of time, we will eventually receive a return for our labor and from my own experience I can say the result is not worth the effort.

Roll away the stone

An experience of powerlessness can have a lasting effect. The years the Israelites spent as slaves in Egypt left them with a sense of reproach or disgrace. The Hebrew word translated reproach in Joshua 5:9, cherpâh (kher – paw′) is derived from the word châraph (khaw – raf′) which means “to pull off, to expose (as by stripping)” (2778).

There are several aspects of being raped that can leave the victim with a sense of shame or disgrace, but the one thing that makes the victim feel powerless more than anything else is being forced to take her clothes off. A sense of reproach or shame is being forced upon her so that the perpetrator can feel in control and dominant in the situation.

I think it’s interesting that when God addresses the Israelites’ reproach, he says, “This day have I rolled away the reproach of Egypt from off you” (Joshua 5:9). It almost sounds like the reproach is a large stone that has been attached to the Israelites’ backs. The mental image of rolling something off of them definitely gives the impression of a weight or burden being removed and freedom of movement being restored.

One of Jesus’ well know miracles is raising Lazarus from the dead. In the account recorded in John chapter 11, Jesus says to Martha, Lazarus’ sister, ” I am the resurrection, and the life: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live” (John 11:25). Before he restores Lazarus’ life, Jesus commands that the stone covering the tomb be moved out of the way. Since Jesus was able to raise Lazarus from the dead, he could have brought his body out of the grave without the stone being moved, but the point I think Jesus was trying to make was that the grave would have to be spoiled for Lazarus to be truly free from the power the grave had over his body.

The desire I had that caused me to attempt suicide did not go away because I survived. A few weeks later when I was examined by a psychologist, I was asked if I thought I would try again. I answered yes. Many years later I was put on suicide watch by my doctor after finding out that my husband was having an affair. It wasn’t until I made a conscious decision a few years ago to abstain from all sexual activity that I was finally set free from the reproach that I had been carrying with me since I was raped at the age of 14.