Day 121: An Eternal Hope

2 Samuel 19-20; Luke 20:27-47

Key Verses

2 Samuel 19:1-4
It was told Joab, “Behold, the king is weeping and mourning for Absalom.” So the victory that day was turned into mourning for all the people, for the people heard that day, “The king is grieving for his son.” And the people stole into the city that day as people steal in who are ashamed when they flee in battle. The king covered his face, and the king cried with a loud voice, “O my son Absalom, O Absalom, my son, my son!”

The bible is definitely not escape literature! On the contrary, it painstakingly characterizes the dark and light of real life… 2 Samuel is real life at its grittiest. We see David go from valiant to broken and his kingdom go from strong to divided. Today’s reading starts with an undercurrent of rivalry between Israel (the northern tribes) and Judah to the south… and ends with the gory details of Joab murdering Amasa.

This is the world we live in. A world filled with terrorist bombers and extreme poverty. A world where governments murder refugees and starvation abounds. It’s ugly. The bible doesn’t ignore the harsh reality of life in this world.

But in the midst of the ugliness, Jesus offers hope.

Today’s reading from Luke 20 finds Jesus in the middle of Passion Week. The religious leaders are trying to trap him into incriminating himself. They think they are so clever, but it’s impossible to outwit Jesus! And right in the middle of Jesus’ answer to the Sadducees is a nugget of hope!

Jesus teaches that the Patriarchs of the faith – Abraham, Isaac, and David – are not dead – but alive with God, “for they cannot die anymore, because they are equal to angels and are sons of God, being sons of the resurrection (Luke 20:36).

This world is not our final destination! Just like Abraham, Isaac, and David, we are bound for resurrection after death – so that we might live in the new heaven and the new earth in perfect communion with God.

In other words, we need an eternal perspective to persevere through the mire of this life. Our eyes must be focused on the future – where there will be no more pain and no more sorrow and no more death… only life eternal that will never be marred by sin!

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Day 120: Our Only Hope

2 Samuel 17-18; Psalm 63

Key Verses

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

Psalm 63:6-8
…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.

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.

Day 119: No Escape

2 Samuel 15-16; Psalm 3

Key Verses

Psalm 3:5-6
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.

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.

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 lusted over Bathsheba. Prophesy is always understood best through the eyes of hindsight. Read again Nathan’s prophesy to David from 2 Samuel 12. God’s word is powerful and true!

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)

What do we learn about God from this portion of Scripture?

In spite of our sin, God is gracious. God does not take the kingship away from David and continues to work on his behalf. God even chooses Solomon, the son of Bathsheba, to succeed David as King – preserving David’s family line in the kingship of Israel.

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 108: David and his ragamuffin band

1 Samuel 22:1-5; Psalm 57; Psalm 142; Luke 15

Key Verses

Psalm 57:1
Be merciful to me, O God, be merciful to me,
for in you my soul takes refuge;
in the shadow of your wings I will take refuge,
till the storms of destruction pass by.

Luke 15:10
“Just so, I tell you, there is joy before the angels of God over one sinner who repents.”

In today’s reading from 1 Samuel, David narrowly escaped the Philistine city of Gath and found refuge in a cave. Just think how far David has fallen… The son-in-law of the King is now living in a cave. Listen to his heart cry out to the Lord…

Attend to my cry,
for I am brought very low!
Deliver me from my persecutors,
for they are too strong for me!
Bring me out of prison,
that I may give thanks to your name! (Psalm 142:6-7).

But David is not alone in the cave. On the contrary, the outcasts of society have gathered to him…

And everyone who was in distress, and everyone who was in debt, and everyone who was bitter in soul, gathered to him. And he became commander over them (1 Samuel 22:2).

This picture of the anointed king surrounded by outcasts reminds me of Jesus. And it correlates beautifully with Jesus’ teaching found in Luke 15.

Who matters to God? The sinner who repents! God will leave 99 righteous to find one lost soul. Jesus says in Luke 15:7, “there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who need no repentance.”

And then he tells the well-known story of the prodigal son. You remember the story? How the younger brother squanders his inheritance and returns to his father a humbled man. The father throws him a huge party to celebrate his return while the faithful, older brother is indignant and sulks over the fact that his father never threw him a party.

How many times have you heard it asked, “Do you identify more with the older or younger brother?” That’s an interesting question since they were both sinners in need of repentance. The difference is that the older brother was blind to his self-righteous sin – whereas the younger brother was very much aware of his sin.

Another question might be, “Do you identify with the outcasts that gathered to David in the cave?” Do you know what it feels like to be in distress, in debt, or bitter in soul? I do. Jesus beckons us to come. And as we gather around the Savior, no one can stand – for we know we are sinful. We know we don’t deserve the kindness He offers. And heaven rejoices, for a sinner has repented.

Day 107: David on the Run

1 Samuel 21; Psalm 56; Psalm 34

Key Verses

Psalm 56:3-4
When I am afraid,
I put my trust in you.
In God, whose word I praise,
in God I trust; I shall not be afraid.
What can flesh do to me?

Psalm 34:4; 18
I sought the Lord, and he answered me
and delivered me from all my fears.
The Lord is near to the brokenhearted
and saves the crushed in spirit.

David’s life has taken such a drastic turn. He is now fleeing for his life! Where does he run first? He runs to the house of the Lord. He flees to the priestly city of Nob. There he seeks provision from the priest, Ahimelech. Jesus speaks of this scene in Matthew 11 when the Pharisees accuse him and his disciples of working to glean wheat on the Sabbath…

He said to them, “Have you not read what David did when he was hungry, and those who were with him: how he entered the house of God and ate the bread of the Presence, which it was not lawful for him to eat nor for those who were with him, but only for the priests? And if you had known what this means, ‘I desire mercy, and not sacrifice,’ you would not have condemned the guiltless. For the Son of Man is lord of the Sabbath.” (Matthew 11: 3-4; 7)

Do Jesus’ words sound familiar? They are similar to Samuel’s judgment of Saul in Chapter 15…

“Has the Lord as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices,
as in obeying the voice of the Lord?
Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice,
and to listen than the fat of rams. (1 Samuel 15:22)

David understands that compassion and mercy are more important than the ceremonial law. He ‘gets’ that his life is more important than the symbolic meaning of the bread of presence. Ahimelech, the priest, gets it too. God cares about the heart – not outward conformity.

We can see into the heart of David by reading Psalms 56 & 34. Both of these Psalms were written in response to David’s foolish decision to go to the Philistine city, Gath. Gath was the home of Goliath! Did David really think he could find refuge there???!!! Despite David’s rash judgment, his heart remained focused on his God…

Where do you run when your life seems out of control? What do you look to for comfort? David ran straight to the house of God! God is the refuge for the humble. The broken will find rest in His presence. Seek Him in His sanctuary. He longs to cover you with His peace!

Day 121: An Eternal Hope

2 Samuel 19-20; Luke 20:27-47

The bible is definitely not escape literature! On the contrary, it painstakingly characterizes the dark and light of real life… 2 Samuel is real life at its grittiest. We see David go from valiant to broken and his kingdom go from strong to divided. Today’s reading starts with an undercurrent of rivalry between Israel (the northern tribes) and Judah to the south… and ends with the gory details of Joab murdering Amasa.

This is the world we live in. A world filled with terrorist bombers and extreme poverty. A world where governments murder refugees and starvation abounds. It’s ugly. The bible doesn’t ignore the harsh reality of life in this world.

But in the midst of the ugliness, Jesus offers hope.

Today’s reading from Luke 20 finds Jesus in the middle of Passion Week – and the religious leaders are trying to trap him into saying something to incriminate himself. They think they are so clever, but it’s impossible to outwit Jesus! And right in the middle of Jesus’ answer to the Sadducees is a nugget of hope!

Jesus teaches that the Patriarchs of the faith – Abraham, Isaac and David – are not dead – but alive with God, “for they cannot die anymore, because they are equal to angels and are sons of God, being sons of the resurrection (Luke 20:36).

This world is not our final destination! Just like Abraham, Isaac and David, we are bound for resurrection after death – so that we might live in the new heaven and the new earth in perfect communion with God.

In other words, we need an eternal perspective to persevere through the mire of this life. Our eyes must be focused to the future – where there will be no more pain and no more sorrow and no more death… only life eternal that will never be marred by sin!

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).

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 108: David and his ragamuffin band

1 Samuel 22:1-5; Psalm 57; Psalm 142; Luke 15

David has narrowly escaped the Philistine city of Gath and has found refuge in a cave. Just think how far David has fallen… The son-in-law of the King is now living in a cave. Listen to his heart cry out to the Lord…

Be merciful to me, O God, be merciful to me,
for in you my soul takes refuge;
in the shadow of your wings I will take refuge,
till the storms of destruction pass by (Psalm 57:1).

Attend to my cry,
for I am brought very low!
Deliver me from my persecutors,
for they are too strong for me!
Bring me out of prison,
that I may give thanks to your name! (Psalm 142:6-7).

But David is not alone in the cave. On the contrary, the outcasts of society have gathered to him…

And everyone who was in distress, and everyone who was in debt, and everyone who was bitter in soul, gathered to him. And he became commander over them (1 Samuel 22:2).

This picture of the anointed king surrounded by outcasts reminds me of Jesus. And it correlates beautifully with Jesus’ teaching found in Luke 15.

Who matters to God? The sinner who repents! God will leave 99 righteous to find one lost soul. Jesus says, “there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who need no repentance.”

And then he tells the well-known story of the prodigal son. You remember the story? How the younger brother squanders his inheritance and returns to his father a humbled man. The father throws him a huge party to celebrate his return while the faithful, older brother is indignant and sulks over the fact that his father never threw him a party.

How many times have you heard it asked, “Do you identify more with the older or younger brother?” That’s an interesting question since they are both sinners in need of repentance. The difference is that the older brother is blind to his self-righteous sin – whereas the younger brother is very much aware of his sin.

Another question might be, “Do you identify with the outcasts that gathered to David in the cave?” Do you know what it feels like to be in distress, in debt, or bitter in soul? I do. Jesus beckons us to come. And as we gather around the Savior, no one can stand – for we know we are sinful. We know we don’t deserve the kindness He offers. And heaven rejoices, for a sinner has repented.

Day 107: David on the run

1 Samuel 21; Psalm 56; Psalm 34

David’s life has taken such a drastic turn. He is now fleeing for his life! Where does he run first? He runs to the house of the Lord. He flees to the priestly city of Nob. There he seeks provision from the priest, Ahimelech. Jesus speaks of this scene in Matthew 11 when the Pharisees accuse him and his disciples of working to glean wheat on the Sabbath…

He said to them,“Have you not read what David did when he was hungry, and those who were with him: how he entered the house of God and ate the bread of the Presence, which it was not lawful for him to eat nor for those who were with him, but only for the priests? And if you had known what this means, ‘I desire mercy, and not sacrifice,’ you would not have condemned the guiltless. For the Son of Man is lord of the Sabbath.” (Matthew 11: 3-4; 7)

Do Jesus’ words sound familiar? They are similar to Samuel’s judgment of Saul in Chapter 15…

“Has the Lord as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices,
as in obeying the voice of the Lord?
Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice,
and to listen than the fat of rams. (1 Samuel 15:22)

David understands that compassion and mercy are more important than the ceremonial law. He ‘gets’ that his life is more important than the symbolic meaning of the bread of presence. Ahimelech, the priest, gets it too. God cares about the heart – not outward conformity.

We can see into the heart of David by reading Psalms 56 & 34. Both of these Psalms were written in response to David’s foolish decision to go to the Philistine city, Gath. Gath was the home of Goliath! Did David really think he could find refuge there???!!! Despite David’s rash judgment, his heart remained focused on his God…

When I am afraid,
I put my trust in you.
In God, whose word I praise,
in God I trust; I shall not be afraid.
What can flesh do to me? (Psalm 56:3-4)

I sought the Lord, and he answered me
and delivered me from all my fears.
The Lord is near to the brokenhearted
and saves the crushed in spirit (Psalm 34:4; 18).

Where do you run when your life seems out of control? What do you look to for comfort? David ran straight to the house of God! God is the refuge for the humble. The broken will find rest in His presence. Seek Him in His sanctuary. He longs to cover you with His peace!