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Let me fall into the hand of the Lord, and not fall into the hand of man (2 Sam 24: 14)

Pope Shenouda III | 3 October 2009

1- David and three options for punishment:
King David sinned by numbering the people, so God the prophet came to him to tell him of the punishment of his act. God said, “Thus says the Lord: I offer you three things; choose one of them for yourself: shall seven years of famine come to you in your land? Or shall you flee three months before your enemies, while they pursue you? Or shall you there be three days plague in your hand?”
David, though wise, was very distressed, and said his famous words, “Please let me fall into the hand of the Lord, for His mercies are great; but do not let me fall into the hand of man.”
2- Falling into the hands of one’s brethren:
How hard to fall in the hand of someone who destroys mercilessly! It is an everyday story since the beginning of the human history
The first one to make an assault upon his brother was Cain who attacked and killed his brother Abel.
Cain was impudent enough to say boldly to God, “Am I my brother’s keeper?” But afterwards he became terrified, and said, “I shall be a fugitive and a vagabond on the earth…anyone who finds me will kill me.” (Cen 4: 14)
Jacob also lived in terror because of Easu his brother
Jacob was terrified because Esau said in his heart, “I will kill my brother Jacob.” So, in spite of the many vision and promises from God, Jacob cried to Him, “ Deliver me, I pray, from the hand of my brother…Easu; for I fear him, lest he come and attack me and the mother with the children.” And when he saw his brother he bowed himself to the ground seven times until he came near to him, and he made his two wives and his children bow down to propitiate him (Gen 27: 41; 32: 11; 33: 3).
Jacob had fallen into the hand of God, wrestled with Him, and prevailed; he received promises, saw visions and angles, but was after all terrified and bowed to the ground before his brother. He sent his servants with presents before him to appease him, and cried out to God that He might deliver him from his brother’s hand!
True indeed, to fall into the hand of the Lord is much better than to fall into the hand of man because the Lord’s mercies are great!
See also how Joseph was treated by his brothers:
When he fell into their hands they laid their hands upon him as beasts on a prey; they cast into a pit, then brought him out and sold him as a slave. But when he fell into the hand of the Lord, He protected him, saved him of all evil and made him rule over Egypt. It is a repeated story which reminds me of the words of an Arab poet who said,
The wolf howled, with its howl pleased was I.
But man shouted,
I was about to fly.
3- The woman caught in the very act.
When that sinful woman fell into the hands of godly people who were supposed to be merciful, she was exposed and insulted by them. They brought her to the Lord Christ asking Him if she should be stoned according to the Law of Moses. They tried to justify their cruelty by a verse from the law!
Those filthy sinners, who were like her subject to death, asked for her death! When she fell into the hand of the Lord who is holy and hates even the smell of death, He delivered her from their hands and put them all to shame.
He said to them, “He who is without sin among you, let him throw a stone at her first.” So they all went out leaving the woman in the hand of the Lord humiliated before Him. And with deep compassion upon her, He asked her where her accusers were and whether no one of them had condemned her. And saying that there was name, the Lord said to her, “Neither do I condemn you; go and sin no more.” (Jn 8: 3-11)
How amazing that, on the other hand, some sinners like herself ask for her to be stoned! Indeed, to fall into the hand of God is better than to fall into the hand of man, because God’s mercies are great!
4- A brother angry because of his brother’s return:
When the lost son fell in the hand of the father, he was treated very gently.
 When the son asked for his portion of inheritance, the father did not blame him, but gave him his portion though he knew that his son will waste it with prodigal living. He let him go to a far country and do what he willed, even to break his father’s commands!
When that son returned because of hunger and need, the father did not treat him badly or wait for him in the house until he come and knock the door in humiliation. On the contrary, when he was still a great way off, his father saw him and had compassion, and ran and fell on his neck and kissed him (Lk  15: 20).
He did that before even hearing a word of apology.
Such compassion made him unable to say the words he intended to say, “Make me like one of your hired servants.” This is not all, because the father also put on him the best robe, and put a ring on his hand and sandals on his feet, and killed the fatted calf, and made a great banquet for him.
Amidst all this, we find no punishment at all inflicted upon the lost son for what he had done, not even a word of blame or reproach, but compassion all along.
But see what happened when he fell into the hand of his brother; how dreadful! The elder brother got angry and would not go in until the father came out and pleaded with him.
He did not care for the feelings of his brother nor for his humiliation.
He spoiled the party, roused the father against his brother, and accused his brother of the most dreadful accusations. He said to the father, “as soon as this son of yours came, who has devoured you livelihood with harlots…”He did say “my brother”, and he accused him of things not mentioned in the Scripture (for the scripture said only that he wasted his possessions with prodigal living)!
  All his words revealed selfishness, for he considered the joy for his brother’s return was injustice and it treatment for him! It is true indeed what David said, “let me fall into the hand of the Lord, for His mercies are great; but do not let me fall into the hand of man.”
5- In the hands of Christ, and in the hands of the Pharisee:
The sinful woman who washed the Lord’s feet with her tears and wiped them with her hair, fell in the hands of Simon the Pharisee. In his arrogance he looked to her with disgust, and suspected Christ, saying in his heart, “if He were a prophet, He would know who and what manner of woman this is…for she is a sinner.” (Lk 7: 39)
Such was the behaviour of that Pharisee who himself had similar faults!
He did not receive the Lord well as a good host. He did not kiss Him, nor gave water for His feet nor oil for His head. He was indebted to the Lord, the same as the woman was.
When that woman fell into the hands of the Lord, He saved her from the condemnation of the Pharisee, and reprimanded him for her sake. Furthermore, He forgave her and praised her love, saying, “You faith has saved you. Go in peace.”
6- You do not know what manner of spirit you are of:
The same applies to the father apostles. For when a village of the Samaritans refuse to receive the Lord because He had set His face to go to Jerusalem, His disciples were vexed. And James and John said to the Lord, “do You want us to command fire to come down from heaven and consume them…?” (Lk 9: 45) When that village fell in the hands of the disciples, they wanted it to be consumed. But our good and compassionate God rebuked His two disciples, and said, “You do not know what manner of spirit you are of.
For the Son of Man did not come to destroy men’s lives but to save them.”
Blessed indeed are You, O Lord are compassionate even upon those who reject You. Let me fall into Your hand, not into the hand of man, because Your mercies are great.
Even the children, who fell into the hands of Your apostles and they rebuked them, were received by You, and You said, “Let the little children came to Me, and do not forbid them; for of such is the kingdom of heaven.”(Mt 19: 14). Likewise, the two blind men who kept crying out for mercy and Your apostles kept them away, those You drew near and healed them.
7- All those who fell into Your hands:
All the abandoned, the despised, and the outcast found compassion with You, who are good and compassionate.
The man born blind, whom they cast, was found by Jesus out of the synagogue and was called by Him to faith.
The tax—collectors, who were abandoned by the leaders of the people, You made one of them an apostle, You accepted Zacchaeus their chief, and You preferred a tax—collector to the Pharisee.
You accepted the Samaritans and showed the preference of the Good Samaritan to the priest and to the Levite.
You accepted the Gentiles, and declared that You did not find such faith in all Israel.
Blessed are You, O Lord, in Your compassion upon anyone exposed to the cruelty of his brother.     
 

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