Tag Archives: 2 Samuel

Through the Bible, April 7

Reading: No Scheduled Reading

Thoughts and Reflections: this is the catch up day for the first week of April (1-7). In addition, here are some points to ponder based on this week’s readings.

  1. One of the many evidences for the divine origin of Scripture is how it handles its heroes. This is not an obvious point to most of us, but the contrast with how other ancient records deal with their champions is striking.  The Bible is very forthright about the weaknesses and failings even of those whom we are to otherwise admire and emulate.  Nowhere is this any more evident than with David.  The Bible is very honest and even handed in its presentation of both heroes and villains.
  2. Related to the point above is the fact that throughout Scripture the fact is reiterated that God can and does use weak and faulty people. That is not intended in any way to excuse or rationalize those failings, rather it is to show that God can also use and work through us; ones whose faults and weaknesses with which we are quite familiar
  3. When the Bible says that David was a man after God’s own heart (Acts 13:22), it’s not trying to pull the wool over our eyes or to suggest that David was something he was not. What it communicates is that our sins and shortcomings do not have to define us. Seeking God’s heart does not render one perfect.  Sin will remain a reality as long as we are in the flesh.  David shows us that though we may get off course spiritually, we can return, and that returning demonstrates the true pursuit of our lives: the heart of God.

Devotional Thought:

Lesson Learned

“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena…” (Theodore Roosevelt)

It is not hard to find the places where David stumbled, where this king could have done better.  But, as Mr. Roosevelt suggests, that really doesn’t count.  After all, what’s the point?  It’s the Bible that shows us where he failed and it’s also the Bible that tells us of his desire for the very heart of God (Acts 13:22).

Having spent the past week reading his life, what do we glean for our good?

Don’t quit.  Don’t quit because of opposition.  Don’t quit because of less than ideal circumstances.  Don’t quit because of failure.  David faced them all, but he never quit.

Honor God’s will. David knew his life was not about himself, but God.  Therefore he respected Saul as a man whom God had anointed king.  Never mind that Saul desperately wanted David dead. God refused David the right to build His temple.  So David didn’t.

Work hard.  David’s achievements as king were phenomenal.  He took control of a shaky, tottering, uncertain kingdom.  He handed over a strong, prosperous, united, and secure kingdom to his son.  David worked hard to make it so.

Focus on spiritual concerns.  David knew he ruled God’s people.  The nation’s relationship with God was as vital as secured boundaries and a thriving economy. He brought the ark into Jerusalem.  He organized the priests, Levites, and other temple servants.  He would have built the temple itself had God allowed.  Spiritual concerns were a priority.

Repent when you’re wrong.  David obviously had his share of failings, some of them monumental.  David repented.  David changed. David found forgiveness and corrected his course.

Thank God for the life, and the record of the life, of David.

Through the Bible, April 6

Reading: 2 Samuel 23-24

Summary: The final chapters of 2 Samuel are a bit difficult to place chronologically.  Some have concluded that they serve as a type of appendices to the book. The chapters include accounts of David’s avenging the Gibeonites, his further battles with the Philistines, a Psalm (chapter 22 is identical to Psalm 18, which we already read on March 30 as one of the Psalms penned by David early in his life), another Psalm described as his “last words”, a record of his “mighty men”, and the account of yet another sin–his numbering the people.

Devotional Thought:

The Failure of the Bible

The Bible is failing.

No, not in that way.

It, being God’s word, cannot fail.  Heaven and earth themselves will go away, but not the Bible (Matt. 24:35).  What’s more, it always achieves the purpose for which God intends (Isa. 55:11).

God’s word cannot fail, but it is.

It’s failing to be recognized in the hearts and minds of men as our Creator’s own word.  In the past two decades ending in 2011, the percentage of Americans who believe “the Bible is totally accurate in all of the principles it teaches” dropped from 46% in 1991 to only 38% in 2011.  This was the largest shift among eight beliefs tracked by the Barna Research group over that 20-year period (http://www.barna.org/faith-spirituality/504-barna-examines-trends-in-14-religious-factors-over-20-years-1991-to-2011).

Yes, we are turning our back on the very words of eternal life, the words by which we must live–even more so than by the bread we eat, and the means by which we have an inheritance (John 6:68; Matt. 4:4; Acts 20:32).

This does not bode well for us.

So, when David–or any other Bible author–writes, it’s not David.

“The Spirit of the Lord speaks by me; his word is on my tongue” (2 Sam. 23:2).

Almighty sovereign God has spoken.

Through the Bible, April 5

Reading: 2 Samuel 18-20

Summary: Despite Absalom’s diabolical intentions, David finds his death nearly unbearable.  He struggles to cope with this loss and, again, an outside source is required to bring clarity to his thinking–much as Nathan had done in the incident with Bathsheba.  This time the unlikely counselor is Joab, David’s military commander.

David also finds that his near loss of rule to Absalom has emboldened opponents and critics. Reestablishing rule and authority is not without its struggles.

Devotional Thought:

Perspective is Everything

David wanted Absalom handled gently. Joab wanted Absalom dead.

David, as a father, looked on Absalom as his son. Joab, as commander of David’s army, looked on Absalom as an enemy to the throne.

David viewed Absalom’s death as a loss and time for grief. Joab viewed Absalom’s death as a victory and a time for joy.

Both men were correct.

Perspective is everything.

It took Joab’s rebuke for David’s perspective to change.  He did not have the luxury to think and act as a father.  He was king.  He must act like one.

When the king responded like a father and mourned his son’s–that is, his enemy’s–death, those who had fought for the king and remained loyal were being treated as despised.  Joab was correct, “You love those who hate you and hate those who love you” (2 Sam. 19:6).

David listened.  David learned.

The most fundamental perspective of all is this: “Know that the Lord, he is God!  Is it he who made us, and we are his; we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture” (Psa. 100:3).

Listen. Learn.

Perspective is everything.

Through the Bible, April 4

Reading: 2 Samuel 14-17

Summary: The prophet’s warning to David that the sword would never depart from his house (2 Sam. 12:10) certainly finds fulfillment with his son Absalom.  David, the effective administrator, is outflanked by his own son as a diplomat.  He demonstrates great skill in gaining favor and swaying public opinion.  Unfortunately, his narcissistic personality turns these abilities toward unrestrained self-promotion.  David suffers much at the hands of his much-loved son.

Devotional Thought:

Keeping Heart Thieves at Bay

I dislike thieves.  Or maybe I should say that I dislike thievery.

I’ve had things stolen before and the emotional effect is very strong.  After all, it’s just property; it’s just stuff, right?  Emotional detachment would seem like a given, but it’s not. Someone by deceit or stealth or force has removed from our possession what is ours.  That just hurts.

So, we take measures to thwart the thief.

But what about when someone steals in full view and with full knowledge?  In essence they steal with our permission.  How do you combat that?

The Bible says of Absalom that he “stole the hearts of the men of Israel” (2 Sam. 15:6).

He did so by showing them attention, expressing interest in their problems, and making a show of affection for them (15:2-5).  He made them believe he cared for them.  He did not.  Absalom’s eye was on his father’s throne and the only way to unseat the king would be with great popular support.  To get it, Absalom stole.

How does one combat that kind of thief?

Obviously, Absalom appealed to people’s self-interest.  He made them believe he cared for them, when in reality he only cared for himself.  That became apparent when he risked the nation’s destruction in his grab for the throne.

The people’s hearts were susceptible to theft when the people’s interest was primarily for self.  A man who would promise to them what they desired was welcome to take their hearts.

The answer, then, seems to be to elevate the primary concerns and interests of our lives above self.  And that ought to ring a bell.  How about these familiar Bible teachings as preventatives to stolen hearts:

“If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me” (Matt. 16:24).

“But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you” (Matt. 6:33).

“Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves” (Php. 2:3).

Hearts already given to the concerns of others are not liable to be seduced by self-serving promises.

Through the Bible, April 3

Reading: 2 Samuel 11-13

Summary: David’s fall

Up to this point the account of David’s reign focuses on matters of national concern: the capital city is established, enemies are defeated, the ark is set up in Jerusalem, the orders of priests and Levites are organized.  David is an effective and strong administrator and leader.

Now, attention is drawn to his personal life.  The decisions he makes and actions he takes have dire, far reaching, and lasting consequences for himself, his family and the entire nation.  David’s sin with Bathsheba, though eventually addressed spiritually, marks the beginning of troubling times to come (see 2 Sam. 12:10-11).

Devotional Thought:

Satan’s Formula for Success

Way back in the Garden, Eve saw that the fruit of the tree was desirable, wanted it, and took it (Gen. 3:6).

At Jericho, Achan saw valuable items in the city’s spoil, wanted them, and took them (Joshua 7:21).

King David saw beautiful Bathsheba bathing, wanted her, and took her (2 Samuel 11:2-4).

David’s eldest son, Amnon, saw his lovely half-sister Tamar, wanted her, and took her (2 Samuel 13:1-14).

Satan’s formula for temptation and sin is simple, very old, and exceedingly effective.  As James describes it, he uses our own desires to lure and entice us, then, when we act on it, sin results.  Sin, then, left to itself results in death (James 1:14-15).

Some lives end up in huge messes.  But no matter how messy, entangled, or entrenched they may be, it all starts the same way.  Acting on our own desires it where it all begins.

What’s the answer?  God’s Holy Spirit.   “But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh” (Gal. 5:16).

The answer is also Jesus Christ. “But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to gratify its desires” (Rom. 13:14).

Those, of course, are not two different answers, but two expressions of the same answer: “And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. If we live by the Spirit, let us also keep in step with the Spirit” (Gal. 5:24-25).

Through the Bible, April 2

Reading: 2 Samuel 6-10

Summary: David’s reign at its zenith

David successfully strengthens, secures, and expands the nation’s borders.  He also brings the ark of the covenant into Jerusalem recognizing that the nation’s stability also depended on attention given to spiritual concerns, although he’s denied the right to build the temple.  Of even greater importance, though, is the covenant that God makes with David, promising that throne of his kingdom will be established forever (2 Sam. 7:13).

Not only does this covenant figure prominently into the role of Jesus, David’s descendant, reigning over His kingdom (as prophesied by Jeremiah, 33:14-26), it also is recognized as a prophecy of Jesus’ own resurrection (see Acts 2:30-31).

Devotional Thought:

Be Fair, Do Right

Everyone is interested in the key to a successful person’s achievement.

That only makes sense.  Some of the best advice I’ve ever heard for achieving success is to identify someone who has been successful in what you want to do and learn everything you can from them.

Isn’t that exactly what God does for us in the Bible?  We know that pleasing Him is impossible without faith (Heb. 11:6).  We cannot fail here; success is imperative.

So what does the Bible do for us in Hebrews 11?  It provides a whole list of people and what they did that made them successful in faith.  Here are people from whom we should learn.

It’s an old (ancient even), tested, and proven approach to success.

We’d be hard pressed to find anyone in the Bible with greater success than David.  Look at how he is remembered and revered for many generations after his life.  Every king to follow is measured by his standard.  The New Testament’s opening words, first introducing us to “Jesus the Messiah” are given in the context of David and Abraham (Matt. 1:1).  Peter appeals to the undying reverence of the Israelite nation for this man in his famous Pentecost sermon (Acts 2), using David’s own words to prove Jesus’ identity as God’s Son.

So what’s the key to David’s success?  I’m sure some would say that it is because he was a man after God’s own heart (Acts 13:22).  That would be hard to argue with.

But how about this statement: “So David ruled all Israel. He did what was fair and right for all his people” (2 Sam. 8:15; God’s Word Translation).

That might not sound like that big a deal, but really, it’s huge—be fair and do right. This is the same reason God chose Abraham (Gen. 18:19).  It is the very characteristics of God’s own throne (Psa. 97:2). The Queen of Sheba saw it to be the reason for which God made Solomon king (1 Kings 10:9).  It is on par with God’s own steadfast love (Jer. 9:24), and that which lies at the root of restoring those departed from God (Amos 5:24).

Do what’s right and do what’s fair.

Success is not out of reach for any one.

Through the Bible, April 1

Reading: 2 Samuel 1-5

Summary: David’s reign begins

David is moved by the news of Saul and Jonathan’s deaths.  True to his musical roots, he authors a song of lament.

Finally, the throne and the kingdom were his.  Acquiring the throne of Israel, though, was not as smooth as some might expect.  Though God had chosen him as Saul’s successor and had been anointed as such by Samuel many years previous, some of Saul’s family and tribe we not ready to relinquish the dynasty.

Today’s reading (a little lengthier than usual) concludes with David’s being established on the throne and gaining an upper hand over the Philistines.

“And David became greater and greater, for the Lord, the God of hosts, was with him” (2 Sam. 5:10).

Devotional Thought:

Don’t Let a Little Trouble Derail Your Legacy

When recounting Israel’s history, particularly the time of the monarchy, we remember that Saul was the first king and was succeeded on the throne by David.

That is correct, sort of.

Precisely stated, Saul’s son Ishbosheth took his father’s throne for two years.  To begin with David was made king in Hebron over the house of Judah alone (2 Sam. 2:4) and Ishbosheth ruled over Israel (2 Sam. 2:10).  Only later, after Ishbosheth’s assassination, did David become king over all Israel and Judah (2 Kings 5:3-5).

Most people forget that little scenario.  Why?  Because of all David accomplished and the greatness of his reign that followed.  That became his legacy.

Think, though, about those two years.  Do you suppose David wondered why this was happening?  Wasn’t he the one God had chosen to take Saul’s throne?  This wasn’t right.  Might it not have been a frustrating experience to know the kingdom was not firmly in your grasp as it should be?  Things were unsettled and unstable.

That couldn’t have been comfortable.

Does that not happen to us as well?  Don’t we face times of uncertainty?  Times when things are not as we wish or as they should be?  How do we respond?

David did not languish or complain.  He didn’t force the issue, but sought God’s direction (2 Sam. 2:1).

David is not fondly remembered because he faced no challenges or struggles, but rather because he did not allow those times to define him or to control him.  He patiently moved through them and beyond them and established a legacy based on his service to God, not the hardships he faced.

Through the Bible; April Week 1 Introduction

Week 1: The Reign of David

April 1-7

            Outside of Moses, God’s people never had a greater leader than David.  Outside of Abraham, no one figures more prominently in the lineage of the coming Christ than David.

This man will become the standard by which all future kings of Israel are measured.  That certainly does not mean he was without flaw.  Scripture readily allows us insight to his weaknesses and failings as well as his triumphs and achievements.

He’s probably best remembered in Paul’s words in his sermon in the synagogue at Antioch of Pisidia, as a man after God’s own heart (Acts 13:22; see also 1 Sam. 13:14).

This week, we read about David’s reign as king.

Through the Bible April Reading Introduction

Kings and Prophets; Psalms and Wisdom

The Monarchy Flourishes, then Divides

Books: 2 Samuel, 1 Kings, Psalms, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes

Israel’s monarchy is off to a faltering start, to say the least.  The first king, Saul, proved to be a troubled soul and a bitter disappointment.  Though the kingdom became a reality with his reign, it is his death, along with his sons, at the hand of the country’s chief nemesis, the Philistines, that leaves the entire enterprise exceedingly vulnerable.

Israel’s survival will demand a great king.  What they got was not just a great one, but their greatest ruler.  David moves swiftly to stabilize the nation.  Jerusalem is captured and established as the new capital, the borders are secured and greatly expanded, enemies are subdued. Even the national religion is addressed–organization and order is brought to the numerous priests and Levites, the ark of the covenant is brought into Jerusalem, and, had God permitted, David would have also built a temple.

Israel’s prosperity continued throughout David’s reign and into that of Solomon, his son.

David’s life and reign were not without troubles.  Beginning with his sin with Bathsheba and through the debacle of Absalom’s rebellion, this man of God faced great turmoil during the final years of his life, much as he had previously while on the run from Saul.

One of the great treasures of Scripture is the Psalms.  David authored many of these beautiful, poignant, and expressive poetic offerings.  One of their great values is the insight provided into the mind and heart of David as he reflected on his life, its events, and his relationship with God.  We will take time to sample several of his Psalms in week 2.

Solomon, David’s son, is remembered for three things: his great wealth, his wisdom, and as the builder of the magnificent temple to God.  Sadly, Solomon’s life and reign do not end well; yet another testament to the need for continued faithfulness to God throughout our lives.

Solomon conveyed his great wisdom in much writing.  Three books are attributed to his pen: Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, and Song of Solomon.  We’ll make no effort to read all of these but will devote three days of our reading to a sampling of Solomon’s wisdom.

During the final week of April we’ll trace the story of the monarchy following Solomon.  Unfortunately that includes the kingdom dividing during the reign of his son Rehoboam.  As strong and lofty as the kingdom had risen under David and Solomon, it falls to great depths under the likes of Jeroboam and Ahab.  These spiritually trying times prompt the arrival of great prophets.  Though God has used many prophets before, none are utilized to the extent of Elijah.

My Delight is the Lord, August 24

The Best, Not the Good

August 25, Thursday: God’s People

Scripture Reading: 2 Samuel 6:1-23

Have you ever heard that the enemy of the best is not the bad or worst, it’s the good? I heard (or rather read) that first from Stephen Covey. Here’s the real danger of this reality, we have a hard time seeing something that is “good” as being a problem. But it can be worse than just a problem, it can be a threat. Is not David’s effort to move the ark of the covenant into Jerusalem a graphic illustration of this truth? He didn’t need convinced of the benefit and gravity of transporting this singular spiritual item from a private residence to the capital city.  Nothing but a brand new cart would do for such a lofty task (v. 3). Such a thought was good, but it wasn’t the best. Unfortunate for Uzzah, the good turned into an enemy. Our intentions are meaningless (or worse), no matter how good they may be, if we disregard God’s instruction. What He says is the best.

Questions to Ponder:

  • How is God designated in v. 2?
  • What does Perez-uzzah mean? (v. 8)
  • What was David’s emotional reaction? (v. 9)
  • Where was the ark placed? (v. 17)