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8 Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.

Phil 4:8 (KJV)


This is a fairly well known verse that deals with not dwelling on things that are, in a general term, bad. If God didn't want us to think of bad things, why did He put seemingly useless bad things in His Bible? 2nd Samuel 16:20-22 seems to not have a point except for showing how wicked Absalom is. Surely we get the idea that he was really bad because of the way he overthrew his father's kingdom and tried to kill him; is there a different point of this passage?

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I like your question based on Philippians 4:8 and 2 Samuel 16:20-22, but I feel that the title is misleading and too general. You should really put the verses in the title, because the title, as it stands now, seems to be too generic/broad. You may also want to narrow your scoping to a specific denomination, or you may ask this same question on the Hermeneutics.SE. :) –  Anonymous Apr 5 at 20:40

2 Answers 2

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The call to think about good things is not a proposal of turning a blind eye to the wickedness of men but to see it under the light of the gospel which makes even darkness praise God's grace. It may be worth noting that the exhortation starts with thinking about what is 'true'. This in practical terms means think about whatever is in the Bible, including all the dark and evil things that it exposes under its marvelous light. The difference though is that the scripture does not dwell on evil in and of itself as men do because we have a wicked curiosity in evil, rather through the truth the scripture unveils a clear picture if the evil of men as part of a grand scheme of saving them through the gospel. This means that the 'truth' includes making known sin and through the law. For unless a man knows the wickedness of human nature and includes himself in that wickedness he will have no interest in the gospel, for it is the sick that need a doctor not the healthy:

On hearing this, Jesus said to them, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.” (Mark 2:17, NIV)

One can see the gospel rests upon a knowledge of evil and on the sense of guilt and condemnation produced from that offers forgiveness and eternal life. This essentially paints the order: it is 'truth' to see our great sins, it is 'honest' to admit them and yearn for help, it is 'just' to know that we deserve eternal punishment. Furthermore it is a revealed 'justice' previously unknown to the church God would punish his own Son that we might be made righteous through grace. The righteousness revealed in the gospel is 'pure' and 'lovely' and of a very 'good report'. Those who believe it not only see the virtue of God's love but love one another and praise God for the endless favor he has freely given the elect forever to the praise of his grace. So we see all these things are reasonable and in accordance with both the horror of sin and death manifest and condemned by God's law as well as the meek and mild savior who presented himself as a sacrifice to atone and satisfy that law in order to present a redeemed people bathed in love and the glory of God's grace for all of creation to stand in awe of now and forever more. The little stories of various people and their sins throughout the bible are a very important part of the glorious truth which it developed until the full glory of the gospel was made known.

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Absalom's rebellion was but a small part of the big picture; How would God would deal with David because of his sins. The stories of the bible that show wickedness are presented as examples, of which we may encounter and have to overcome. The context of Philippians 4;8 is the previous verse.

Philippians 4;7

And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.

Philippians 4;8

Finally brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.

These are qualities of Jesus, we are to imitate his character and follow in his footsteps.

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