Bible reading Matthew 5:1-16.
In the Living Bible version of Psalm 85:8-9 we read:
“I am listening carefully to all the Lord is saying—for He speaks peace to His people, His saints, if they will only stop their sinning. Surely His salvation is near to those who reverence Him; our land will be filled with His glory”.
One very important thing God is often speaking about in the Bible is ‘peace’. Are we listening?
The Hebrew ‘shalom’ translated ‘peace’ has a deep and all-inclusive meaning, something like ‘perfect wholeness’, ‘total wellbeing’. It carries over into the frequently used Arabic greeting, ‘salaam’. ‘As-Salaam-Alaikum’, the Arabic greeting meaning ‘Peace be unto you’, was the standard salutation among members of the Nation of Islam. It is still widely used today in and beyond the Moslem communities of Sudan and South Sudan.
I wonder what most nations of the world would give for true peace, wholeness and wellbeing between all of their different people-groups? I believe a good understanding of how God wants us to see all the other people He has put around us, can help us be the kind of peacemakers our Lord Jesus spoke about in His sermon on the mount:
“Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God”, Matthew 5:9.
The Greek eirenopoios simply means the two small words that make it up, ‘peace – to make’. This includes working to reconcile, with ongoing living peaceably.
At one of the churches I attend our weekly service begins with this prayer:
“Almighty God, grant to your people love for all the things which You command and desire for all that You promise, in order that, in the middle of the many changes in our world, our hearts may be securely fixed where true joys are to be found”.
This is a good goal to adopt. We must always want what God wants – nothing more, nothing less. Of course it is a challenge to want nothing else except what God wants. Before we do anything else, elections, referendums (my Brenda prefers ‘referenda’), resettlements, career choosing, community projects, marriage, etc., let us start with God central in our minds.
God, Who is our Saviour
The Bible begins with God. “In the beginning God”, Genesis 1:1. It may sound strange to say this, but I believe we must learn to think of God as He really is! Too often our routine and unchallenged thoughts limit our vision and appreciation of Who God actually is. Even as Christian leaders, we must spend longer meditating on this wonderful God, Who is our Saviour, 2 Timothy 2:8, Isaiah 46:8-10.
A few years ago I heard from friends of the burning of half a village in Atar, Jonglei State, on New Year’s eve, during what was described as “ethnic unrest”. Sadly this is one of many such reports. It gives rise to the question:
How should we as Christians respond to ethnic unrest?
Here are a few ideas:
1. Remember that God is still the Creator and the Ruler of this world and of local events
Consider these words of God from Isaiah. “Who is my equal? Lift up your eyes and look to the heavens. Who created these?” “Do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed for I am your God”. “I am the Lord, and there is no other. I bring prosperity and create disaster; I the Lord do all these things”. (from Isaiah 40:25-26; 41:10; 45:5-7).
God wants us to think of Him every night when we see the millions of stars. Think that He is in charge of all events – even the ones where we are treated badly. He brings all the people He wants to within our orbit of life.
As the roadside ladies carefully weave their mats and baskets for sale at the market, so God is able to weave all the events of life into His lovingly successful plan for our lives, and the lives of those other people we can touch, Romans 8:28, 37-39. Strong Christians believe and live by this.
2. Remember how our Lord Jesus said we must view and treat all other human beings
Every person born has the image of God, Genesis 1:26-27. Therefore our traditional enemies, as well as our friends, have the likeness of God put into them by our mutual Creator. The world may want us to see another tribe or people group as our enemy. But our Lord Jesus said: “You have heard that it was said, “Love your neighbour and hate your enemy”. But I tell you, “Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you””. “You have heard that it was said, “An eye for an eye, and tooth for tooth”. But I tell you, “Do not resist an evil person”. (from Matthew 5:38-48).
Jesus wants us to show our Christianity by responding in a positively Christian way to the hatred and disrespect we sometimes receive. Our Lord demonstrated His own response as He chose to allow Himself to be nailed to a cross and judicially murdered, by the very human beings whom He had come to rescue for heaven! Jesus’ submission to God’s will bought salvation for us! Matthew 26:39. From apparent disaster came eternal triumph! We must let God be God.
In the parable of the Good Samaritan, see Luke 10:25-37, Jesus taught we must do good, even to those who are our traditional enemies.
I am not saying it is easy to do this, but I am saying this is the right way to live. If our tribal or national leaders tell us to do something which is against what the Bible tells Christians to do, then we must choose to follow Christ and stand against the flow of public opinion. By doing so we must also accept any consequences which may follow, Matthew 5:10-12; Matthew 6:31-33.
3. Remember the Kingdom of God transcends tribalism, nationalism, and even Christian denominationalism.
At Rome in Paul’s time, the Roman Christians were judging one another concerning their outward ritual observances for their faith. They would split off from one another saying something like, “If you do that in your service I cannot be with you”. The teacher’s response was to see the bigger picture: “the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking, but of righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit”, Romans 14:13-23 (italics mine).
When we think we are wronged, if we respond the Christian way God will bless us with such peace and joy in our hearts. It will be a good witness to those who mistreat us. (See for example, Peter and John in Acts 4:1-31; Paul and Silas in Acts 16:22-32).
In Corinth the Christians were divided over which leader to follow, 1 Corinthians 1:10-12. Paul’s teaching emphasised the cross of Jesus Christ. Fellowship around the cross of Christ, and everything seen and unseen that happened at Calvary, is the uniting factor of all true Christianity, 1:18, 1:23-25. It is much more important than tribe, language or social standing.
James was concerned that rich people were given privileged places in Christian worship while the poor were deprived. He rebuked the leaders saying that, “God has chosen those who are poor … to be rich in faith and to inherit the kingdom He promised to those who love Him”, James 2:1-8. How rich in faith are you? (am I?).
Peter encouraged Christians to live outstandingly different Christ-like lives in the middle of a community who lived otherwise. He urged resistance to communal pressures, the cultivation of good deeds to all regardless of colour, tribe, religion, plus submission to God and human authority where possible, 1 Peter 2:11-17. It is helpful to remember that He said our actions will always speak more loudly than our words.
I finish this section with a reminder that even if you think you (or your people) cannot live this way – God says that, with His help, you (and your people) can! Fellow disciples – live on!
Being a Christian with tribal and family loyalties.
About three years ago I read a book called “Looking for a Leader”. In my own devotions I like to work through every Bible book in turn, reading the Scripture passage, noting my own ideas from it, before comparing them with a chapter of the commentary. I mark the date in the Bible index when I do this. I am now in my fourth time of having my personal walk with God this way.
In 1 Samuel 13:2-3 and 14:1-46 Jonathan is seen fighting and defeating the Philistines. The people could see God was with Jonathan, giving him victories. Jonathan was a man of faith, 14:6. He was also the son of King Saul. Humanly speaking, Jonathan would inherit the kingdom when his father died. This was the tradition and custom. It was right and proper. Everyone would reasonably expect that to happen.
But God had other plans in mind! To follow God Jonathan must go against national and family traditions. In 1 Samuel 15 we read how the Lord rejects Saul as king, “because he has turned away from Me and has not carried out My instructions”, verses 10, 23, and 16:1. So Jonathan would not take his throne.
In 1 Samuel 16 God helps Samuel the prophet to anoint His chosen king. We are reminded in this story that “Man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart”, verse7. We already know that “the Lord has sought out a man after His own heart”, 13:14. Now we discover this man is David, the youngest son of Jesse, 16:11-13. And because it is David – by definition, it is not Jonathan! God breaks family and national traditions to ensure His man is in the right place at the right time. The right man for any position is always God’s man, and not necessarily the expected man. Nepotism or favouritism have no place in the Christian’s life or values.
It may be expected that Jonathan would be angry that his right to be king had been taken away. A natural human reaction would have been for him to resent David and make him a despised personal enemy. Yet the Bible tells us that Jonathan “became one in spirit with David, and he loved him as himself”, 18:1.
Jonathan and David make a brotherly pact, 1 Samuel 18:1-4. Giving away his robes and weapons was symbolic of “all that could have been his on the throne”. The two men wait for
God’s time to bring into reality the promised kingdom of David. For Jonathan that meant going more and more into
disobedience to his human father, and to the expectations of his royal household, 19:1-8; 20:1-42. His own life was put at risk by his actions. He was always prepared to die, 14:43. He risked his own life again and again for the sake of his friend David, 20:30-34. Notice (for our own encouragement) that God preserves him for as long as He plans to use him. We are all indestructible until God’s time for us to leave this earth. Jonathan eventually dies in battle, 31:2.
David’s moving lament for his friend can be read in 2 Samuel 1:19-27. It may well have been first sung at an event like Sudanese tribal gatherings to mourn the death of family members and friends over several days. Nothing bad is said even of his enemy, Saul.
Jonathan is “a model of loyalty to truth and friendship, as well as … peace-making which is the role of the sons of God”. Perhaps he can inspire us to stand up for Jesus Christ and His expectations of us, where it is necessary against sectarian tribal divisions or inflexibly restrictive family traditions and even ‘foreign’ cultural differences?
As Christians we are all given the priority of standing up for the cross of Jesus Christ. Paul was never “ashamed of the gospel”, Romans 1:16. To him the cross was the power of God – even if it was foolishness and a stumbling block to other people, 1 Corinthians 1:18, 23-24. His handwritten prayer was this:
“May I never boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, through which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world”, Galatians 6:11,14.
Verses 12-13 show that Paul was not interested in outward appearances. He followed the advice of God in his heart – his heart which was crucified to worldly temptations and alive only to Christian discipleship. Since being born again he was a Christian first, Acts 9:1-22. He was a Christian before his nationality, before his family, before his tribe, before his earlier education and even his life’s experience. Before his previous religion, before anyone or anything else Paul was determined to live as a Christian.
Jonathan chose to give over his rights and help make David king. Jesus Christ chose to live and to die by the way of the cross. They both knew the seed (of their old lives) must die in order to bear much fruit for God and His kingdom, John 12:23-26. Who is seen to be the King and Ruler of your life?
What is God calling us to do in these times of decision for our countries of Sudan and South Sudan? I pray God will raise up men and women of gracious faith. Christian people who will stand firmly but gently on the side of Jesus Christ. People who will attract others to our faith by our love for all others, our respect for those different from us and our Christlikeness in any and every circumstance, Christian people who will be selfless, because to us all, Jesus Christ is everything.
See all people, love them and forgive them
“Walwal-tung”. I learned this Nuer greeting so I could use it at the start of one sermon I preached to a packed out Khartoum Evangelical Church back in 2002. I wrote it into the front of the Bible I still use today. People loved it when I tried to speak (although badly!) in their language. I also remember the tasty asseeda porridge they shared with me for breakfast. The great pastor Gabriel I knew from there is now in glory! I am sure we will meet again one day.
All people are created in the image of God. This is clearly taught in Scripture, Genesis 1:26-27. We are all in the shape, form or pattern of God. “…(humankind) is the image and glory of God”, 1 Corinthians 11:7.
1. Every person matters to God
Since every individual is an “image” of God, each person matters. If you looked into the clean shiny porridge spoon you would see an upside-down reflection of yourself. However, it would not be crystal clear, like it would be in a good mirror. The spoon image would be blurred, scratched, deformed in small or big ways. Similarly, the people around us have become poor reflections of the God whose model they were made from. We are no different. Sin stains us all. Humanity’s fall into sin has meant that none of us is perfectly what God made us to be. We must remember this when we are tempted to hate other tribal groups or despise different ethnicities of people who have varied culture to ours.
2. See people the way God does
As Christians we must “put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge in the image of its Creator”, Colossians 3:10. Even when our human brothers, sisters, cousins, or
even our children are screaming for vengeance following the awful events of war, (and justice may seem to demand some action), as Christians we must choose God’s view of “our enemies”. If God took an attitude of revenge out on us, we would all be on the road to an everlasting hell. We have all wronged Him so much.
3. Love your enemies
“Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be sons of your Father in heaven”, our Lord Jesus said in Matthew 5:44-45. When we die and arrive in eternity, our heaven or hell destination will not depend on our earthly tribe. Dinka, Moro, Nubian, Arab, English, will not matter at all. The only thing that will matter is have we become more and more like our Father who is in heaven? Are we like Jesus who was God in human form and Who became our Saviour?
4. Forgive whoever sins against you
“For if you forgive men when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins”, Matthew 6:14-15.
The above four choices are yours to make. Will you choose to be Christian in how you deal with all other people from today onwards?
To make one’s own peace and be reconciled
In the English dictionary ‘peace’ has at least twelve meanings. Six of them are: “the state existing during the absence of war”, “a treaty marking the end of a war”, “a state of harmony between people or groups, freedom from strife”, “law and order within a state; the absence of violence or other disturbance”, “a state of stillness or serenity”, “a state of harmony and friendship”.
Three English phrases also merit thought: “peace of mind – meaning the absence of worry or anxiety”; “to make one’s peace with – meaning, to be reconciled with”; and “to hold or keep one’s peace – meaning to keep silent”.
As mentioned at the start of this chapter, in Arabic (and for Ethiopians, Israelis, etc.) salaam/salom/shalom is a frequently heard greeting meaning peace, completeness, well-being, welfare and health. It is a kind of blessing.
South Sudanese President Salva Kiir, in what I thought was a useful speech opening the extraordinary convention for the SPLM, listed things that must be dealt with before any lasting peace could grow:
1. there must be an accounting for past crimes
2. people must take their responsibility for violations past and future
3. there must be reconciliation between individual people and groups
4. forgiveness must be genuinely offered and accepted. 
He makes four good points, but only after December 2013 had seen the start of a violent civil war! Let’s pause and pray for a peace with no breakdowns, in effect for a long, long time, in all of South Sudan, Sudan and all the surrounding countries.
As governments and opposition groups, in South Sudan, Sudan and elsewhere, seek to talk to each other about peace in their countries Christians do well to understand:
Something of the Bible’s teaching about ‘peace’
Of 249 times the word “peace” is used in the Bible (in the NIV Anglicised translations of 1979/2011) I have selected twelve as special to our thinking for this chapter. Please read the Bible passages as they are referred to:
May God bless you with peace
1. This is at the end of one of the earliest priestly blessings commanded by God, Numbers 6:22-27. “The Lord turn His face toward you and give you peace”, Numbers 6:26. As we have seen the Hebrew word “shalom” means completeness and wholeness. This blessing was commanded by God. We do well to remember we can always pray for peace, for ourselves and for our country. The influence of prayer
reaches far beyond any vote, democracy or autocracy. May God give us peace right now.
Fear God by seeking peace
2. The writer is teaching about living by the fear of the Lord, Psalm 34:9. He says we must control our own tongues, vs13, live the right way not the wrong way, vs14a, and “seek peace and pursue it”, Psalm 34:14b. The whole Psalm is about living to praise God and taking “refuge” in Him. A refuge is a place of safety from danger and threats. We are all to work hard to try and achieve peace. Each individual’s efforts count in the collective push for peace. Many bricks, each in its proper shape and place, can make one outstanding building.
Learn to trust God-given peace of mind and heart
3. All of Psalm 119 is about the value of the Bible for life. Before his recent retirement a friend of mine was working on literacy and biblical literacy for the Otuho and Lopit while his wife worked in Arabi Junuub. There is still a lot of effort being put into translating the Bible into the local languages of Sudan and South Sudan. Why? Because Christians need to know how to live Christianly. One of the many benefits from knowing God’s word well is “peace”, a deep inner peace whatever is going on around you. “Great peace have they who love your law, and nothing can make them stumble”, Psalm 119:165. Peace of mind and heart is given to those who love God’s law and live it out. This is both worship and witness
Live with the Prince of Peace
4. This is a prophecy of a coming King, much greater than any seen before. It looks ahead to our Lord Jesus – but without naming Him. The world-governing Child has four names here, the last one being “Prince of Peace”, Isaiah 9:6. Unusually, almost every on-line Bible version I checked out have these words exactly the same (46 out of 49). One essential characteristic of Jesus the coming King is that He will be, “Prince of Peace”. Prince, Hebrew sar, means “head, official, captain”. We must allow ourselves to be led by Jesus in our work for peace. If we do not, we cannot say He is our Lord. When we do not follow Him we will not have His peace in heart or mind.
As one of God’s chosen, keep receiving God’s peace
5. When the angels worshipfully announced the Incarnate God the Son’s arrival on earth, they said, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to men on whom His favour rests”, Luke 2:14. The Greek word eirene means peace, unity, concord, an agreement to join together as one. For God there was no bombing of, or shooting at, or trying to starve and relocate His enemies! Rather, He organised face to face talks with humanity in Jesus the Christ. Even though this led to His (human) death, through that very death He was working out His purpose of salvation for many people. We know God’s peace because we are saved by His free and undeserved grace and Holy Spirit rebirth. Nobody can save themselves by ever being good enough. The bottom line of our salvation is God’s choice of us. And notice that those given peace with God have the only basis for reconciliation with all other people (who are, please remember, also created in God’s image).
Make peace among all your people
6. These words from our Lord Jesus are very familiar to Christians involved in various peace processes. “Blessed are the peacemakers for they will be called sons of God”, Matthew 5:9. In Scripture the only other use of this word, ‘peace-makers’ eirenopoieo, is Colossians 1:20, where it describes the reconciliation of all heavenly and earthly things to God through the blood Jesus shed as He died on the cross. Surely we learn from this that living as a peacemaker is a costly style of life.
In the news we hear a lot about ‘peacekeepers’ but little about ‘peacemakers’. The word is not even in the MacMillan School Dictionary I often use! It is in my big dictionary and is defined as, “A person who establishes peace, especially between others”. Our Lord taught His true followers to be eleven things at the beginning of His sermon on the mount, Matthew 5:1-16. Number seven is to be a person who causes quiet calm in everyone’s lives by avoiding all verbal strife and actual fighting, that is a peacemaker.
Accept the ‘non- worldly’ peace your Saviour offers
7. This again is a word from Jesus. He was with His close disciples just before His arrest and crucifixion. John chapters 13-17 are called ‘the upper room discourse’ because of the verbal and visual teaching Jesus gives. In John 14:27 He is seeking to encourage His followers to receive peace of mind and heart as a gift from Himself, see vs1, 27. God the Holy Spirit will live in all disciples, giving a totally different inner peace
from anything else offered by this world. Notice carefully our Lord Jesus says, “My peace I give you”, John 14:27. (italics mine). The peace our Lord Jesus had Himself all through His earthly life, even when confronting the big challenges He faced in three and a half years of public ministry, that peace can be our peace. Ask your Father in heaven and you will receive it here on earth. Remember, God loves and so He gives.
God-given graceful peace is not a tense peace
8. We could put 19 references here as it is the traditional greeting the early Christians have used in their Bible writings. “Grace and peace to you from God our Father and from the Lord Jesus Christ”, Romans 1:7. The greeting is a kind of prayer or blessing: ‘have wholeness, freedom from disturbance, tranquillity, peace with God, peace with people, peace within your own heart and mind’. This is a gracious gift from our great God. Walk around today thinking that everybody you see, hear or read about, is someone with whom you can be at peace. See them through your prayer even if this is not the usual way for you. The local imams, political leaders, military people, neighbours at home and work, colleagues, family and tribal relations, tradespeople, shopkeepers, everyone at your local church, etc. Why not speak a Christian blessing on them, face to face or secretly? Live as God’s representative where He has placed you – witness where you are. God does not do accidents! J.
We are where we are deliberately. Like a soccer player places the ball on the penalty spot to shoot at goal, let God ‘kick’ you into Christian action. Place yourself on the spot for Him to use!
Give peace your best chance
9. “If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone”, Romans 12:18. In this chapter Paul begins with a call to live sacrificial lives, being Christians in a non-Christian world, vs1-2. We are all to use the gifts God has given us, vs3-8. We are to live with visible integrity, vs9-17, including reacting Christianly and not hastily to direct persecution, vs14,17. Verses 19-21 outline how all these can be done in order to “overcome evil with good”, vs21b. “Paul recognises that it is not always possible to live at peace with everyone (12:18) because this does not always depend on us. But believers should not be the ones responsible for any lack of peace in their communities or in any of their relationships with unbelievers”. All Christians are to love peace and work for peace, individually and collectively. It is always our responsibility.
Give God a chance to peacefully work what He wants
10. Please read this carefully. “Then Herod went from Judea to Caesarea and stayed there. He had been quarrelling with the people of Tyre and Sidon; they now joined together and sought an audience with him. After securing the support of Blastus, a trusted personal servant of the king, they asked for peace, because they depended on the king’s country for their food supply”.
“On the appointed day Herod, wearing his royal robes, sat on his throne and delivered a public address to the people. They shouted, ‘This is the voice of a god, not of a man.’ Immediately, because Herod did not give praise to God, an angel of the Lord struck him down, and he was eaten by worms and died”.
“But the word of God continued to spread and flourish. When Barnabas and Saul had finished their mission, they returned from Jerusalem, taking with them John, also called Mark”, Acts 12:19b-25 (italics mine).
At first this may seem an odd Bible passage to include in our list of twelve out of 249. But think for a minute. We know that “a severe famine” spread over the entire Roman world, see Acts 11:28. It was probably this that made the people of Tyre and Sidon sue for peace with their enemy Herod, vs20. They would rather be at peace with full stomachs than starving while at war, or at least in unrest. This gives us an example of God using severe economic times to further His purpose of spreading the gospel of our Lord Jesus far and wide. God used the occasion to eliminate Herod, an opponent of the gospel, Acts 12:1-4, 12:21-23. No man is greater than God. God also encouraged the mission of the Christian gospel, vs24, into all the world, Acts 1:8, 8:1, 11:19-21, 13:1-3.
Thank God, use and enjoy peacetime
11. I notice here that when the earliest churches “enjoyed a time of peace” they were “strengthened; and encouraged by the Holy Spirit, grew in numbers, living in the fear of the Lord”, Acts 9:31.
Please do not make the mistake of thinking that the arrival of peace where you are will, by itself, lead to a vibrant and growing Christian church in Sudan and South Sudan. It will not happen automatically. All believers in our churches will need to continuously ‘be being filled’ with the Holy Spirit because this is what fuels our Christlike living. All believers in our churches will need to be aware every moment of every day of the Holy God Almighty whom we serve. That is what it means to fear Him, to respect Him and live to honour Him.
A prayer for our ‘peace-rule’ calling
12. I will quote these verses as a concluding prayer for this chapter. “Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful. Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom, and as you sing psalms, hymns and spiritual songs with gratitude in your hearts to God. And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him”, Colossians 3:15-17.
1. Make a list of the main hindrances to peace in your world. Think nationally, or in your community, or local church, etc.
2. In this chapter I suggest how ‘we as Christians (should) respond to ethnic unrest’. Which of the three do you think is the most important, and why?
3. Which of the three do you think is the most neglected in our Christian communities? Suggest ways this can be rectified.
4. Considering Matthew 5:38-48 and Matthew 5:10-12, discuss how a Christian may have to pay the price to live the Christian way – perhaps against the majority. Give examples where you can.
5. In this chapter section ‘See all people, love them and forgive them’, I list four ways we can live ‘in God’s image’. Read the four Bible passages quoted and put each heading into your own words, capturing both the meaning of the text and its application to life in your context. Don’t make the sentences too long!
6. Our Lord Jesus came with the gift of peace. “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to men on whom His favour rests”, Luke 2:14. Suggest ways we can live to help others know the blessing of God’s peace.
End notes:  ccnmtl.columbia.edu/projects/mmt/mxp/notes/5140.html Columbia University  W.E.Vine Complete Expository Dictionary of Old Testament and New Testament words (Thomas Nelson: Nashville, TN) 1996.  Common Worship Holy Communion The Archbishop’s Council, 2000. Partly quoted.  The orbit of a particular person, group, or institution is the area over which they have influence. Our reach, our range, our scope. www.collinsdictionary.com  Adapted from my Encouragement No.4 Ethnic Unrest January 2010.  John Woodhouse 1 Samuel Looking for a Leader (Wheaton, Illinois: Crossway books) 2008.  Nepotism is the unfair use of power in order to get jobs or other benefits for your family or friends. www.collinsdictionary.com  Please be aware that some try to twist this verse into supporting homosexual relationships. This is not possible, especially as verse 16 uses the same words saying, “all Israel loved David”! Beware false teachers, 2 Peter 2:1-3.  Gbile Akanni African Bible Commentary (Nairobi: Word Alive Publishers) 2006, 1 Samuel.  Gbile Akanni African Bible Commentary (Nairobi: Word Alive Publishers) 2006, 1 Samuel .  The Illustrated Bible Dictionary (Leicester: Inter-Varsity Press), 1998 edition, p.808.  Adapted from my Encouragement No.10 Being a Christian with tribal and family loyalties, July 2010.  Expanded from My Life Alongside God’s Word (WeeFour publications: Redruth, Cornwall, England) September 2014, chapter 25, See People, Love and Forgive.  English Dictionary (HarperCollins: Glasgow) 1994.  7th January 2016 in Juba, www.sudantribune.com.  Young’s Analytical Concordance to the Holy Bible (KJV edition) (Lutterworth: London) 1879.  English Dictionary (HarperCollins: Glasgow) 1994.  1 Corinthians 1:3; 2 Corinthians 1:2; Galatians 1:3; Ephesians 1:2; Philippians 1:2; Colossians 1:2; 1 Thessalonians 1:1; 2 Thessalonians 1:2; 1 Timothy 1:2; 2 Timothy 1:2; Titus 1:4; Philemon 3; 1 Peter 1:2; 2 Peter 1:2; 2 John 1:3; 3 John 1:4; Jude 1:2; Revelation 1:4.  David M. Kasali (DRC), Africa Bible Commentary (Word Alive: Nairobi) 2006, page 1370.  Adapted from my Encouragement No.40 To make one’s own peace and be reconciled February 2016.