Day 120: Our only hope

2 Samuel 17-18; Psalm 63

O God, you are my God; earnestly I seek you;
my soul thirsts for you;
my flesh faints for you (Psalm 63:1)

There are times in life when it is so hard and the pain is so overwhelming, that God is the only sure hope in your life. When David wrote Psalm 63, he needed relief from the relentlessness of his circumstances. Many scholars believe he wrote this Psalm in the midst of fleeing from Absalom. Whether or not this is the case, Psalm 63 depicts a desperateness that would have characterized David during this time in his life.

These chapters in 2 Samuel illustrate God’s gracious provision for David. David was so broken that he truly did not have the means to help himself. God provided a spy network of faithful allies to warn David of Absalom’s plans. And God strengthened David’s army’s resolve to protect him from being killed in battle. Even Joab, David’s commander, understood better than David, the threat that Absalom posed and killed Absalom in spite of David’s fatherly wishes.

Do you see David’s complete brokenness? I sense that he knows that his sin has caused all of this turmoil – and the weight of the burden has become too much. David’s grief at the end of Chapter 18 is magnified by the unresolved nature of his relationship with Absalom. David had no chance to make things right with his son. The regret is all-consuming.

Even in such dark and difficult circumstances, we have a hope to which we can cling. David knew this Hope and I believe this Hope carried him through his darkest nights.

…when I remember you upon my bed,
and meditate on you in the watches of the night;
for you have been my help,
and in the shadow of your wings I will sing for joy.
My soul clings to you;
your right hand upholds me (Psalm 63:6-8).

Advertisements

Day 119: No escape

2 Samuel 15-16; Psalm 3

Why have you despised the word of the Lord, to do what is evil in his sight? You have struck down Uriah the Hittite with the sword and have taken his wife to be your wife and have killed him with the sword of the Ammonites. Now therefore the sword shall never depart from your house, because you have despised me and have taken the wife of Uriah the Hittite to be your wife.’ Thus says the Lord, ‘Behold, I will raise up evil against you out of your own house. And I will take your wives before your eyes and give them to your neighbor, and he shall lie with your wives in the sight of this sun. For you did it secretly, but I will do this thing before all Israel and before the sun.’” (2 Samuel 12:9-12)

David has become a broken man. He is broken by his own sin and the turmoil of his family. He is broken by the treachery of his son, Absalom. His brokenness has made him tired, and he doesn’t fight against his circumstances but accepts them from God’s hand.

I lay down and slept;
I woke again, for the Lord sustained me.
I will not be afraid of many thousands of people
who have set themselves against me all around (Psalm 3:5-6).

At the end of today’s reading, we see Nathan’s prophesy fulfilled as Absalom sets up a tent on the roof of David’s house and sleeps with David’s concubines. You never know… it might have been the same roof from which David saw Bathsheba and lusted in his heart…

What do we learn from these chapters?

In spite of our sin, God is gracious. God does not take the kingship away from David and continues to work on his behalf. And as I mentioned yesterday – God even chooses Solomon, the son of Bathsheba, to succeed David as King.

But. David can not escape from the consequences of his sin. These consequences are severe and it is hard to read about the mighty David being so defeated by the far-reaching effects of his sin.

Sin is serious. Deadly serious, in fact. We need to be rescued from its grasp. We need Jesus.

Day 118: The odious heart

2 Samuel 13-14; Luke 20:1-26

We are seeing Nathan’s prophesy of division within David’s house unfold in today’s reading from 2nd Samuel. What strikes me as most odious from these chapters is not the incest, rape and murder… And those things are odious! But it is David’s gross lack of judgment.

  • A wise father should have known better than to send Tamar to her half-brother’s house.
  • A just leader should have punished the eldest son’s crimes of rape and incest instead of showing favoritism by doing nothing.
  • And the King of Israel should have either executed or pardoned Absalom for murder. David’s half-hearted treatment of Absalom allows the ugliness to fester… as we’ll see in tomorrow’s reading.

David’s spiritual apathy is disheartening. Especially considering how closely he walked with God in his wilderness days. This description of David’s family combined with Jesus’ teaching from Luke 20… well, they remind me that the human heart is desperate and needs rescuing  Whether we are actively rebellious or just apathetically indifferent toward God – both are despicable. And both require a Savior. Jesus has opened the door to mercy – but only the penitent may enter.

O God, help me to be humbly reliant upon your grace – and show mercy to this sinful heart.

Day 117: Sin, Repentance and Grace

2 Samuel 10-12; Psalm 51

Chapter 10 begins the war against the Ammonites. And nestled in this story of war… is David’s great sin.

It is obvious from 11:1 that David was lounging at home when he should have been at war with Joab (the commander of his army). Verse 2 even begins, “David arose from his couch…” This is a very different David than the one that was fleeing from Saul and scrounging for food with his vagabond army in the wilderness. David has grown accustomed to leisure and luxury. Not only has he become lazy physically, but the ease of his life has lulled him to sleep spiritually as well.

This is the only explanation for how David, a man after God’s own heart, could have slipped so far away from God’s ways that he would covet, commit adultery – and then cover it all up with murder.

When Nathan confronts David with his gross sin, David repents. Psalm 51 is David’s cry for mercy…

For I know my transgressions,
and my sin is ever before me.
Against you, you only, have I sinned
and done what is evil in your sight (Psalm 51:3-4).

God is gracious to David, and spares his life. But there will be consequences. Horrible consequences that we will read over the next few days.

Mysteriously, God brings good out of the ashes… through Solomon – son of Bathsheba and in the family line of Christ – he will be the King of Israel at its height!

Day 116: The glory days!

2 Samuel 7-9; Psalm 60

The Davidic Covenant. It is the promise that God will establish David’s throne forever. It does not replace the Abrahamic covenant – but only clarifies it!

“Thus says the Lord of hosts, I took you from the pasture, from following the sheep, that you should be prince over my people Israel. And I have been with you wherever you went and have cut off all your enemies from before you. And I will make for you a great name, like the name of the great ones of the earth. And I will appoint a place for my people Israel and will plant them, so that they may dwell in their own place and be disturbed no more. …I will raise up your offspring after you, who shall come from your body, and I will establish his kingdom. He shall build a house for my name, and I will establish the throne of his kingdom forever.

And your house and your kingdom shall be made sure forever before me. Your throne shall be established forever (2 Samuel 7:8-10; 12-13; 16).

David’s response to God’s promises was overwhelming gratitude. David’s prayer recorded in the last half of Chapter 7 is a model of humility and praise. And then we read of the glory of David’s reign…. Chapter 8 chronicles his victories in battle (and we surmise from Psalm 60 that David never presumed upon the Lord’s blessing – but stayed humble and dependent on His help). Chapter 9 describes his respect for Saul’s house as he treats Jonathan’s son as his own.

This is the epitome of godly leadership. David’s attributes of complete dependence on God plus true humility somehow combine to create a fierce warrior and a just leader. His person has been remarkable so far, but, unfortunately, we are about to see a sad turn in David.

Remember how God used the crucible of hardship to mold David’s character? Now that David is enjoying the benefits of blessing, he will be tempted to fall – and fall he does. But we’ll talk about that tomorrow!

Day 115: The Triumphant Entries!

2 Samuel 4-6; Luke 19:28-48

We read of two triumphant entries…

David, the King of Israel, bringing the ark of God and the blessing of God’s presence into Jerusalem.
Jesus, the King, arriving on a colt… God, in human form, coming to Jerusalem.

David, leading the celebration and Michal disdaining him.
The disciples rejoicing and praising God with a loud voice and the Pharisees rebuking them.

What does David say to Michal? “It was before the Lord… I will celebrate before the Lord.”
And what was Jesus’ response to the Pharisees? “I tell you, if these were silent, the very stones would cry out.”

The Jerusalem that Jesus comes to is very different from David’s new Jerusalem. It is worn and has lost its first love. Jesus weeps over the blindness of his people and purges the temple of its atrocities.

But.

There will be a third triumphant entry. I believe these two will pale in comparison… as the sky is filled with his glory and we see Jesus on a white horse brandishing his sword – and we will fall – and worship – and know the depth of his grace toward us, we sinners.

“Hosanna to the Son of David! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord! Hosanna in the highest!” (Matthew 21:9)

Day 114: The patience to wait wisely

2 Samuel 1-3; Luke 19:1-28

If I were living in David’s story, I think I would have expected to be anointed King over all of Israel after Saul’s death. Wouldn’t you? But no… The commander of Saul’s army, Abner, anoints Saul’s son, Ish-bosheth, and made him King of every part of Israel- except Judah.

But thankfully, David isn’t me! Instead of presuming, he inquires of the Lord. And the Lord directs him and his family to Hebron. There, he is anointed King of Judah – and must wait (again) to inherit the throne over all of Israel.

In today’s New Testament reading, Luke records Jesus’ last parables before he enters Jerusalem. Interestingly, Jesus teaches that the Kingdom will not come quickly – but that we will have to wait for his return and subsequent establishing of His Kingdom. In the interim, we are to be wise stewards of the resources and gifts God gives to us. In other words, we need to inquire of the Lord for every decision!

We have much to learn from David’s patience as he waits for God’s promises to be fulfilled. He is wise with God’s gifts and he never moves without asking the Lord what he should do. I long to be as faithful as David!

Lord, help me to follow you carefully with a whole heart – not wanting to move without your help and guidance. Give me patience and encouragement as I wait for your Kingdom. I love you, Lord. Amen.

Day 113: The prerequisite for Kingship

1 Samuel 30-31; Luke 18:18-43

The author, throughout 1 Samuel, has purposed to contrast David and Saul. Saul was self-reliant, outwardly religious, inwardly tormented and absolutely paranoid. Whereas David was constantly seeking the will of the Lord, inwardly devoted and humbled by his circumstances.

In these final two chapters we see the epitome of contrast. David, first returns to his temporary home in Philistia to find it raided. His first action is to inquire of the Lord. He then leads his men to overcome the raiders, and they discover that the bandits had also raided parts of Judah. David, in kingly fashion, defeats the raiders and leaves with great spoil. He justly divides the spoil among his men and with the cities of Judah. David is ready for the kingship. He is a seasoned warrior, humbled by difficulty. He’s learned patience and discipline. And in the journey, he’s become an exemplary leader.

Then we read of Saul in battle against the Philistines. First his sons die, and then Saul is wounded in battle. He doesn’t even receive the honor of dying at his enemies’ hand, but must take his own life. Finally, Saul is dead, and David is poised to take the throne.

David has endured in a way worthy to be in the lineage of Christ. He will be a godly king because of his suffering.

In Luke, Jesus is about to enter Jerusalem. He predicts his suffering and death to the disciples, but they do not accept his words.

They do not understand that suffering is God’s prerequisite for Kingship!

Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing (James 1:2-4).

Day 112: The ways of the Kingdom

1 Samuel 27-29; Luke 18:1-17

David aligning with the Philistines… Saul seeking out a medium… The spirit of Samuel predicting Saul’s death… and David escaping the dilemma of fighting against his countrymen.

It’s all very exciting. And filled with irony and poor decisions from both David and Saul.

I believe David has lost hope to be king. Why else would he prepare to go to battle with the Philistines against Israel. If David had entered the battle on either side, the result would have been disastrous. But God, in his sovereignty, used the Philistine lords to prevent David from entering the battle. God has used all of David’s hardship to prepare him for the throne. He is a seasoned warrior in a humble position. He is ready.

Jesus’ teachings in the beginning of Luke are some of my favorites. The parable of the persistent widow encourages me to persevere in prayer. The parable of the Pharisee and tax collector reminds me of God’s disdain for self-righteousness and love for the sinner. And Jesus’ care for the children show me that God values the small and insignificant of this world.

It all reminds me of a scene from The Hobbit. I think Gandalf’s words epitomize the way of God’s Kingdom!

Day 111: How long, O Lord?

1 Samuel 25-26; Luke 17:20-37

I wonder how many years have passed since Samuel anointed the little shepherd, David, to be King of Israel… I’m sure it seems like a lifetime to David, and now that Samuel has died, I wonder if David doubted if God would ever make him king…

For David is still leading his ragamuffin crew from wilderness, to mountain, to cave back to wilderness. I imagine he’s becoming weary of his flight. But when given the opportunity to take Saul’s life for a second time – David trusts and obeys his God – and in so doing chooses God’s difficult path to the throne instead of the easy shortcut. But I’m sure he’s wondering… How long, O Lord?

I resemble that statement! Sometimes I doubt whether God really does have a hope and a purpose for my family as I trudge through the daily-ness of caring for a disabled child. I read today’s passage in Luke that describes Jesus’ return to establish His Kingdom on earth and I cry out… How long, O Lord? How. Long.

But like David, we are given a choice. There are always easier paths before us. Following God is a hard road – full of sacrifice and ‘character building.’ How do we find the strength to persevere?

David looked forward to God’s promise of kingship. We look forward to God’s promise of His Kingdom – where there will be no more pain. and no more tears. Until that day comes, I will look to God for the strength to press onward – and as I do, He surprises me with joy along the way.

Behold, God is my helper;
the Lord is the upholder of my life (Psalm 54:4).