Brutal and kind… in one person…

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2 Samuel 8:1 Some time afterward, David attacked the Philistines and subdued them; David took Metheg-ammah out of the hand of the Philistines. 2 He also defeated the Moabites and, making them lie down on the ground, measured them off with a cord; he measured two lengths of cord for those who were to be put to death, and one length for those who were to be spared. And the Moabites became servants to David and brought tribute… 9:6 Mephibosheth son of Jonathan son of Saul came to David, and fell on his face and did obeisance. David said, “Mephibosheth!” He answered, “I am your servant.” 7 David said to him, “Do not be afraid, for I will show you kindness for the sake of your father Jonathan; I will restore to you all the land of your grandfather Saul, and you yourself shall eat at my table always.”

This passage is from two different chapters of 2 Samuel. Chapter 8 (black letters) illustrates the brutal nature of David’s wars in which many thousands of people and thousands of animals were put to death. Read verse 2 above. Wow. But then there’s the passage from chapter 9 (blue letters) in which David shows mercy to one of his deceased friend’s sons – Mephibosheth. What a contrast. It’s as if David is two different persons – at once brutal and yet also kind.

I expect some people might say the same of me. I can be very different depending on the situation. It’s not a bad thing necessarily, as I expect many people are like this. But it’s jarring to read about the contrast in someone else. This morning I’m wondering how people closest to me experience me. Do I seem like Jekyll and Hyde to others? What about you? How do different people experience you?

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