Bible Reading Blog

Bible Reading Blog

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So Far As It Depends On You

Tuesday, August 16, 2022

BIBLE READING: 2 Samuel 20

“And David said to Abishai, “Now Sheba the son of Bichri will do us more harm than Absalom. Take your lord’s servants and pursue him, lest he get himself to fortified cities and escape from us.”” (2 Samuel 20.6)

Sheba was an influential man, but he was not a good man (2 Samuel 20.1). Given the recent events of Absalom’s rebellion, David took swift and definitive action to subdue this uprising. Abishai and his brother Joab pursued Sheba and cornered him in the town of Abel. Their objective was clear: destroy Sheba at all costs. However, their tactics also endangered the lives of many innocent people (2 Samuel 20.15). As they besieged the city, an unexpected hero entered the scene.

“Then a wise woman called from the city, “Listen! Listen! Tell Joab, ‘Come here, that I may speak to you.’”” (2 Samuel 20.16).

This wise woman carried no weapon but bore great wisdom. She knew the conflict needed clarity. More importantly, her objective was to peaceably reconcile the matter, if possible (2 Samuel 20.19). With thoughtful questions and persuasive speech, this woman resolved the conflict, administered justice, and saved her city. What is most amazing is she did this despite the poor choices of others. Sheba was worthless and divisive, stirring many to rebel. Joab was impetuous and violent. Conflict had begun and was increasing. In many other instances this would had ended with mass bloodshed, and most would have chalked it up to unavoidable circumstances. But, through wisdom, the outcomes were altered for good.

Naturally we gauge our actions through the lens of circumstances. But wisdom understands my choices are not contingent on the actions of others. I am responsible for my actions, and I do not have to get swept up in my circumstances. It may be difficult at times, but we must remember: the only person I can truly change is ME. We don’t need to make excuses or decry our imperfect circumstances. We have power to do what we know is right, and by wisdom we will. “If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all” (Romans 12.18).

Also, wisdom understands my choices impact more than just me. This woman’s choices saved her city, but also ended Sheba’s life. It ended this rebellion and subdued the mounting tensions. There was great power in her actions. While most people get swept up in the emotion of the moment, one person can dramatically alter a situation… and that one person can be ME.

This woman’s choices are uncommon but not unattainable. It’s important to see that the scriptures draw no attention to her name but to her character. She will forever be remembered as the wise woman who turned the tide of this rebellion. If your story were recorded for history, how would you be remembered?

“Wisdom is better than weapons of war, but one sinner destroys much good.” (Ecclesiastes 9.18)

The Father's Love

Tuesday, August 09, 2022

BIBLE READING: 2 Samuel 18

“Joab took three javelins in his hand and thrust them into the heart of Absalom while he was still alive in the oak.” (2 Samuel 18.14)

Absalom, caught in a tree by the pride of head [2 Samuel 14.26; 18.9], is served a violent death. This seemed to Joab a fitting ending to this rebellion. A fierce supporter of David, Joab showed no mercy to the enemies of the king (see also 2 Samuel 3.26-30; 20.8-13). With Absalom dead, David’s right to lead was now reestablished (2 Samuel 19.9-10). Messengers ran to bring David the good news; but he would not rejoice on this day. This victory came at a great cost that grieved the heart of David.

“…the king was deeply moved and went up to the chamber over the gate and wept. And as he went, he said, “O my son Absalom, my son, my son Absalom! Would I had died instead of you, O Absalom, my son, my son!” (2 Samuel 18.33)

Despite Absalom’s rebellion, David did not seek his harm (2 Samuel 18.5). David’s response to this news caused some to be angry (19.5-7), but he could not rejoice in this loss. Absalom was not merely an enemy; he was his son. The love of this father was so great, he would have given himself in Absalom’s place.

The emotional struggle David felt tugs at the heart of most parents. Even if our children reject our counsel, go behind our back and become our enemies, we would still desire to see their good. Why? Because they are our children, and we love them.

As imperfectly as David and we demonstrate this, it points to a powerful truth about God’s nature as “the Father of all” (Ephesians 4.6). “For God so loved the world that he gave…” (John 3.16). “…God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us… while we were enemies…” (Romans 5.8, 10). God is “merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness…” (Exodus 34.6; Psalm 86.15), “not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance” (2 Peter 3.9). Although right and just in his actions, God does not rejoice at the downfall of his creation (Ezekiel 18.23, 32; 33.11; 2 Timothy 2.4).

The rebellion of our sin grieves God, but in his perfect mercy and love, he so desired our well-being that he was willing to suffer in our place (Isaiah 53.5). “By this we know love, that he laid down his life for us…” (1 John 3.16). Thank God his heart is not for harm but for good, even to his enemies who we once were (Ephesians 5.10; Colossians 1.21). But His Sovereign love must not simply be accepted; it must also compel us (2 Corinthians 5.14). Having become his children, how much more should we give thanks and reflect this love to others for whom Christ died?

“See what kind of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called children of God; and so we are... Little children, let us not love in word or talk but in deed and in truth.” (1 John 3.1-ff)

You Find Out Who Your Friends Are

Tuesday, August 02, 2022

BIBLE READING: 2 Samuel 16-17

“So Hushai, David’s friend, came into the city, just as Absalom was entering Jerusalem.” (2 Samuel 15.37)

Absalom’s conspiracy was now in full force. He had won the hearts of the people (2 Samuel 15.6) and many who once seemed loyal to David had deserted him. The most crippling of these was Ahithophel the Gilonite (2 Samuel 15.12, 31). David knew the value of his counsel and saw it as his greatest threat in this revolt (see 2 Samuel 15.31, 34; 16.23). The rebellion of his son and desertion of this critical counselor were emotional for David (2 Samuel 15.30). The tables had turned so quickly, surely David wondered if everyone was against him.

But in this difficult season, David found out who his friends were. Ittai, a sojourner vowed his loyalty and would eventually lead a third of David’s forces against Absalom (2 Samuel 15.21; 18.2). The priests, Zadok and Abiathar, became David’s ears on the inside, helping to communicate Absalom’s plans. Most notably Hushai, David’s friend (2 Samuel 15.37, 16.16), served as the key agent in destroying the counsel of Ahithophel and bringing Absalom down (2 Samuel 17.14). Through the support of his friends, David was saved from harm.

Although not stated, the loyalty of these men reflected David’s character and the relationship he had developed with them. No doubt they remembered his integrity towards Saul. They had seen his loyalty in leading them in battle. These men were confident and committed to their friend because he had done so for them.

Friendship is a blessing from God that can greatly enrich our lives. God encourages us to have people that make us sharper and more effective (Proverbs 27.17). He wants us to be around people who care about our best interest (Philippians 2.4) and will speak the truth to us in love (Proverbs 27.5-6; Ephesians 4.25, 29). These relationships are critical because difficult circumstances are when we need friends. We need to surround ourselves with those who will stand with us, not just when it is easy. We need people who will weep with us when we weep, and who are willing to be there when it is awkward and uncomfortable. These relationships don’t just happen when the hard times come; they are developed over time and on purpose.

Just like David, if we want to find these kinds of people, we need to be these kinds of people. We need to foster loyalty, not just with our actions but also our words. We need to sit with others in their hard times and speak courage to the faint-hearted. In good times and bad, we need to be true friends.

Difficult circumstances always reveal true character. When those times come, what sort of friends will you have? What sort of friend will you be?

“A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for adversity.” (Proverbs 17.17)

The Effects of Sin

Tuesday, July 26, 2022

BIBLE READING: 2 Samuel 13-15

O LORD, how many are my foes!
Many are rising against me;
many are saying of my soul,
“There is no salvation for him in God.”
(Psalm 3.1-2, A Psalm of David when he fled from Absalom his son)

In the wake of David’s sin with Bathsheba, his family was in disarray. David’s son Amnon raped his half-sister Tamar and humiliated her publicly. Absalom murdered Amnon to avenge this, while also terrorizing his other siblings. David passively exiled Absalom from Jerusalem, but eventually was manipulated to bring him back. Apparently sensing weakness, Absalom returned with a plan to depose his father and become king. He secretly gained the loyalty of people throughout the land before amassing a force to overthrow David in Jerusalem.

At this moment we see David as we’ve not seen him in quite some time: Broken, distressed and on the run (2 Samuel 15.30; Psalm 3.1-2). Some of this was the consequence of David’s actions. God promised evil would come from David’s house because of his sin with Bathsheba (2 Samuel 12.11-12). Some of this was the result of David’s failure as a father. Surely the behavior of his sons towards women reflected what they had seen in their father (Amnon with Tamar – 2 Samuel 13; Absalom with his father’s concubines – 2 Samuel 16.21-22). Furthermore, David failed to actively address the deplorable behavior of his children. Some of this was simply the effects of living in a sinful world. People are selfish, impulsive, vindictive, self-seeking and power hungry. When agendas collide, strife and struggle rule (James 4.1-3).

Either way, these are the effects of sin. It shows no partiality and shows no mercy. It has a compounding effect that creates momentum in our life and the lives of those around us. What started as an “innocent” glance from the rooftop had morphed into a total fallout. As the saying goes, sin always takes us farther than we want to go, keeps us longer than we want to stay, costs us more than we want to pay.

No one is perfect, not even a man after God’s our heart. This is both comforting and convicting. Even the “best” of us are not exempt from the consequences of sin. In fact, the path to grace must go through the mud of sinfulness. We must see how degenerate it is to live selfishly. We must learn the power of pride and pleasure to devastate the things we value most. But most importantly, we must recognize the impact of choosing not to walk with God in faithfulness and discipline.

The good news is that God can redeem us from this plight. But we still have choices to make. David’s heartache and pain do not have to be replicated in our lives. We would do well to walk in the shoes of David and personally apply the lessons he learned. More importantly we must train our hearts to trust God both in word and power. His words are true, and he is able do what he says he will do.

What David Didn't See

Tuesday, July 19, 2022

BIBLE READING: 2 Samuel 11-12

“In the spring of the year, the time when kings go out to battle, David sent Joab, and his servants with him, and all Israel. And they ravaged the Ammonites and besieged Rabbah. But David remained at Jerusalem.” (2 Samuel 11.1)

David should have been out leading and fighting, but instead he was at home being lazy. Because David was not doing what he should have been doing, it put him in a position to see something he should not have seen. And because his mind was already in a state of laziness, things in his life spiraled quickly.

“…David sent messengers and took her, and she came to him, and he lay with her… And the woman conceived, and she sent and told David, “I am pregnant.”” (11.4-5)

From his rooftop, David saw clearly an opportunity for pleasure that moved him to act. Sadly, his actions put him in a position he never wanted to be in. That’s because there were some things David didn’t see from his rooftop that day.

  • He didn’t see the effects his choices would have on others. The military would lose a great leader. Bathsheba would lose a husband and a child. David’s family would suffer violence and division. The reality of life is that sin affects others.
  • He didn’t see the inner turmoil he would suffer. David knew he was the reason for the child’s suffering and death. He knew nothing he did would change the consequences. He was responsible and it’s burned in his heart (see Psalm 51). Sin’s effects always go deeper than mere circumstances, and in some cases can cause deep wounds.
  • He didn’t see how deeply his sins hurt God. Obviously, God was displeased but he reminded David just how personally this affected him (2 Samuel 11.27b; 12.7-9, 14). We must understand that God is not ambivalent to our sins. He cares about our choices, and it hurts him when we choose to give into temptation.

By the end of the story, the pleasure and fulfillment David saw were gone. What remained were the consequences and hurt from his choices. This is the nature of sin. Satan only wants us to see the most pressing fulfillment and pursue it. But how does that end up?

We must train ourselves to see what we don’t want to see. Armed with God’s word, we aren’t ignorant of Satan’s schemes (1 Corinthians 10.13; 2 Corinthians 2.11), and we must not be unprepared (1 Peter 1.17; 5.8). We must consider our weak points and arm ourselves with God’s word. We need to have clear boundaries to protect ourselves and our families. Most importantly we must learn to repent when we do sin.

When David was confronted with the truth, he didn’t deny reality. Instead, he was humble and put himself at the mercy of God. We all find ourselves in the wrong at some point and in need of forgiveness. In those moments, the most important thing we can do is humble ourselves, confess our sins and make some changes. When we do, we will find grace and peace from our Father.

“If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1.9)

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