Thursday, February 8, 2024

Murder, Betrayal, and Bitter Water

Suggested Reading: Numbers 5:11-31

My wife and I used to enjoy watching a weekly television Dramedy (Dramatic Comedy) called Castle. Rick Castle, the main character of the show, is a mystery novelist who has gotten permission to shadow and work with the city’s leading homicide detective, Kate Beckett, as research for his books. Castle is always throwing up wild stories about how a particular person might be responsible for the murder of the week, but there is a pesky little thing called evidence that they still have to find before they can charge anyone. No matter how much sense the story makes, if Castle and Beckett can’t find evidence to support the story, they have to let it go and look for other leads.  Sometimes, they encounter someone they just know has to be guilty but never discover any evidence and, of course, someone else ends up being the killer.

While we applaud the detective work of real police officers who search for evidence and while we often pride ourselves on an American legal system in which everyone is presumed innocent until proven guilty by the evidence, far too often we do just the opposite in our personal lives. Quite often, we hear a rumor or a story from someone and believe it, even about people who are close to us, without any evidence whatsoever. Sometimes, we even look for evidence and, unable to find any, we continue to believe these stories.

In the book of Numbers, God gave his people an example of how to deal with just such an occurrence within their marriages. When, a husband suspected his wife had been unfaithful but had no proof of her infidelity, he was supposed to bring her before the priest and the priest would give her some water, mixed with a little dust and shavings (from an oath which would be written on leather and then scraped into the water). With the water in hand, she would have to make an oath of innocence, paired with a curse if she lied, and the priest would require the woman to drink the bitter water that brings a curse, and it will enter her and cause bitter suffering (Number 5:24, HCSB). If the woman was innocent, nothing would happen. But if she was guilty of infidelity, she was supposed to be caused great pain and become barren, but there was nothing in the  water that would itself cause pain and barrenness. In other words, the husband would secure a vow of innocence from his wife, turn the issue over to God, and then let it go, trusting God to deal with his wife if she was guilty.

When we face similar circumstances in life, when we suspect someone of betraying us or doing something behind our back, we ought to take a very similar approach to things. Ask the person, maybe even add the insecure, “Do you promise you didn’t do this?” And if they deny it, turn the situation over to God and allow God to deal with it. Life contains too many real betrayals and back-stabbings to worry, fret, and obsess about the ones we can’t prove actually happened. Continuing to obsess about betrayals for which we have no proof only serves to drive us crazy.

If you suspect someone has betrayed you or done something behind your back, or if you have heard a rumor about someone but you don’t have any proof, step up and ask them about it. But then be willing to trust God to deal with them if they lie to you. Suspicions without proof are not worth destroying a relationship, especially because you might be wrong. 

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