Bible Reading Blog

Bible Reading Blog

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Seek Peace and Pursue It

Tuesday, July 12, 2022

BIBLE READING: 2 Samuel 9

“And David said, “Is there still anyone left of the house of Saul, that I may show him kindness for Jonathan’s sake?” (2 Samuel 9.1)

The struggle between David and Saul’s house was festering. It should have ended after Saul’s death, but his house [unsuccessfully] rallied against David’s (2 Samuel 2.8-ff). Joab, David’s military leader, retaliated even though Abner, Saul’s commander tried to peaceably align with David (2 Samuel 3.30).

None of this was directly David’s fault. Instead, he actively sought to appease the animosity. David refused to kill Saul, even mourning his death (1 Samuel 24.6; 2 Samuel 2.17-ff). He publicly condemned the actions of Joab against Abner, even invoking on him a future curse (2 Samuel 3.31-39; 1 Kings 2.5). David’s actions endeared him to the people and convinced them he was the king God had appointed for them (2 Samuel 3.36; 5.2). But David’s actions weren’t merely political. His actions in 2 Samuel 9 reveal the character of a man after God’s own heart (1 Samuel 13.14; Acts 13.22).

The text tells us David met the crippled son of Jonathan, Mephibosheth [2 Samuel 4.4], who is terrified and humbled. It is clear Mephibosheth was expecting the worst [2 Samuel 9.6]. But instead, Mephibosheth was given all the land belonging to Saul AND promised provisions from the house of David the rest of his life.

This episode is a “high point” in David’s walk of faith which we would do well to observe. Notice two key things from the text:

  1. “Is there still anyone left…”(1 Samuel 9.1a, 3). David sought to do kindness to the house of Saul. This situation wasn’t brought to his attention and didn’t happen by accident. David had clearly thought about this, and was moved to take steps towards reconciliation. Do you give thought to how you can show kindness to others? Are you seeking that out?

  2. “…that I may show him kindness for Jonathan’s sake…” (1 Samuel 9.1b, 7). David was motivated by relationship. Years before, Johnathan saved David’s life and served as a faithful confidant in a difficult to him (see 1 Samuel 18-20). Furthermore, David had made promises to Jonathan he intended to keep (see 1 Samuel 20.42). Relationships are powerful motivators when it comes to our actions. While David could have dwelt on the evil done by Saul’s house, he chose instead to remember the kindness shown to him. We are often quick to do just the opposite. Our pride can develop serious barriers to showing kindness. Do you look for the good in situations or dwell on the negative? Are you motivated to uphold promises and develop relationships or do you act out of selfish preservation?

David refused to perpetuate the animosity. Instead, he actively sought peace and pursued it (Psalm 31.14; 1 Peter 3.11). He showed unmerited favor to someone who wasn’t asking and didn’t really deserve it. But because David was faithful, he kept his promises. Much of this episode mirrors the nature of God and reminds us that godliness is possible if we choose to pursue it.

The LORD Will Make You a House

Tuesday, July 05, 2022

BIBLE READING: 2 Samuel 7

“Hiram king of Tyre… built David a house. And David knew that the LORD had established him king over Israel…” (2 Samuel 5.11-12)

This gift established David’s prominence and reputation in the region. Gaining respect beyond Israel’s borders was profound, but the writer notes that David regarded this as the LORD’s doing, “for the sake of his people Israel” (2 Samuel 5.12). This awareness of the LORD’s concern for his people kept David from exaggerating his own importance (Deuteronomy 17.20) and prompted further consideration of God’s honor.

“…when [David] lived in his house and the LORD had given him rest from all his surrounding enemies, the king said… “See now, I dwell in a house of cedar, but the ark of God dwells in a tent.” (2 Samuel 7.1-2)

Having considered himself fully established by the LORD, David desired to reciprocate the gift. While the intention was good, it was unnecessary. The LORD did not desire or need to have a house to live in (2 Samuel 7.5-7). As the scriptures say, “The Most High does not dwell in houses made by hands” (Acts 7.48; 17.24). Furthermore, the house David lived in was not the pinnacle of God’s blessings towards him. Instead, the LORD declared, “[I] will make you a house” (2 Samuel 7.11). It quickly becomes evident the promise was greater than a physical location. The LORD would establish David’s lineage and kingdom eternally (7.16), and from that lineage would come someone who would build a house for the name of the LORD (7.13). Some of this would be accomplished through Solomon’s temple project (1 Kings 5.5), but would find ultimate fulfillment in the work of Jesus (Hebrews 1.5, 3.3-6; [John 14.23])

While established in some ways, David’s prominence plugged into the overarching fulfillment of God’s promises to Abraham. “I will make your name great” (2 Samuel 7.9; Genesis 12.2); the LORD would give him offspring from his own body (2 Samuel 7.12; Genesis 15.4) and would establish an eternal/everlasting kingdom through this offspring (2 Samuel 7.12-13, 16; Genesis 17.6-7). This consistency pulls the thread of God's promises forward and established a clear trajectory for God’s relationship with his people.

Few chapters are more profound in the bible story than 2 Samuel 7. The house of God would be established through David, but on the LORD's terms (7.9-10), for his name (7.13), according to his chesed (covenant faithfulness & love) (7.15), and in a way that is both sure and eternal (7.16). Moving forward, these promises become the subject of praise and hopeful expectation throughout Jewish history (see Psalm 89 & 132). In fact, this thread is the only means of hope for Israel in the dark days of the prophets (for ex. Jeremiah 23.5-6; Ezekiel 34.23-24; Hosea 3.5).

This matters to us because ultimately, the faithfulness of God is proven by this promise (Psalm 89.2) and is the basis of the gospel of Jesus (Acts 2.30). Our confidence and hope is rooted in the house the LORD made, from the descendent of David, who will reign forever.

"[Jesus] will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. And the Lord God will give to him the throne of his father David and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end." (Luke 1.32-33)

The Splendor of Holiness

Tuesday, June 28, 2022

BIBLE READING: 2 Samuel 5-6

“Nevertheless, David took the stronghold of Zion, that is, the city of David… And David lived in the stronghold and called it the city of David…” (2 Samuel 5.79)

The relocation of the capitol from Hebron to Zion was politically strategic, providing geographically neutral location for the national headquarters. But this location also had profound spiritual significance. The Jebusite fortress had been neglected in the initial conquest of Canaan (Joshua 15.63Judges 1.21), thus leaving God’s command undone (Deuteronomy 20.17). This first act as king established the critical precedent of following God’s lead; a precedent that had been rejected when the people demanded a king (compare 1 Samuel 8.20 and 2 Samuel 5.24). Following this, David’s choices to inquire of the LORD (5.19, 23), bring the ark to Jerusalem (6.15) and lead the people in worship to God (6.16-19) reminded the people who was leading Israel.

David’s coronation was both unifying and invigorating for the nation. But during these events, something strange happens. David called for the ark to be brought to Zion with much pageantry and procession (2 Samuel 6.1-4). But during the celebration, an ox stumbled, the ark began to slide off the cart and Uzzah reached out to stabilize it. “And the anger of the LORD was kindled against Uzzah, and God struck him down there because of his error and he died…” (2 Samuel 6.7).

At first glance, God’s response is puzzling, but forces us to consider an issue of great import: God's holiness had been ignored. In his writings, Samuel has shown the ark was more than just a symbol. It was “the ark of God, which is called by the name of the LORD of hosts who sits enthroned on the cherubim” (2 Samuel 6.2). In previous episodes from Samuel, Israel mistook the ark for a good luck token. But they were promptly defeated and the ark captured by the Philistines (1 Samuel 4.1-11). It was put in the temple of their god, Dagon, who was both destroyed and humiliated by God’s presence (1 Samuel 5.1-5). The ark’s presence among the Philistines led to affliction and panic and became so terrible they begged Israel to take it back (1 Samuel 5.6-6.9). In the end we are reminded that God has no rival. He needs no one to defend his honor. He is the only Sovereign God who is holy.

The insertion of another ark episode in this critical point in David’s kingdom draws our attention back to the presence of God. He was the reason for their success, but it was not simply for their pleasure. He must be considered and respected.  His holiness demands it.

For God’s people, his holiness must always be a primary consideration, especially in areas of worship and service. Enthusiasm must always be tempered by submission if we will enjoy the blessing of God’s presence. We do not naturally understand holiness and must be taught (Titus 2.12). Just as David’s success was directed by God, so also his praise must be. Although God desires us to know him and be his people, it must be on his terms, with consideration for his holiness. He deserves it and he demands it. 

“Ascribe to the LORD the glory due his name; worship the LORD in the splendor of holiness.” (Psalm 29.2)

Errors of Judgment

Tuesday, June 21, 2022

BIBLE READING: 2 Samuel 4

The death of Abner marked a shift in the war between Israel and Judah. Ish-bosheth basically gave up and those who backed him shuffled to find a way out. During this time Baanah and Rechab hatched a plan to reposition themselves with David. They murdered Ish-bosheth in his sleep, and immediately made their way to the courts of David with expectation.

“…And they said to the king, “Here is the head of Ish-bosheth, the son of Saul, your enemy, who sought your life. The LORD has avenged my lord the king this day on Saul and on his offspring.” (2 Samuel 4.8)

Although this was a cleverly designed statement, it betrayed two serious errors of judgment.

First, these men assumed this is what David wanted. After all, eradicating the previous king’s line was common for a king seeking to establish his rule. But David didn’t want revenge, nor did he regard Ish-bosheth as an enemy. Since being anointed, David had consistently refused to seek the life of Saul or his family. It was David’s stated conviction that vengeance belong to the Lord (1 Samuel 24.12; 26.10-11), and on this occasion he reaffirmed that it was the Lord who had delivered him from all his enemies (2 Samuel 4.9).

Second, they presumed their actions were approved by God. They knew David was appointed by God and it seems they presumed that meant this opportunity was from God. We have seen this before: Abishai assumed it was God’s will for them to kill Saul when they came across him in the cave (1 Samuel 26.8), but David made no such presumption. In fact, David invoked God’s will as the reason for sparing Saul’s life (1 Samuel 26.11).

There are a couple things for us to consider here. First, assuming what others want is never good and tends only towards strife. It’s always better to know than to assume. Second, even if David wanted this, God certainly did not. Ish-bosheth was guilty of nothing as far as we know. There was no justice or loyalty in the actions of these men; only selfish ambition. The outcome of this episode reminds us that acting to please people instead of God will always fail us.

Finally, many today are tempted to identify situations as the will of God when it looks like a good opportunity for them. But this line of thinking has led to many foolish choices. I know too many who have abandoned their marriage because the opportunity presented, and they believed God led them there. What they fail to acknowledge is the explicit will of God condemning their actions. We must understand that opportunity does not equal approval. Unless God is explicit, we do not know his will. So, we must not be flippant or assume an opportunity represents God’s approval.

Because God is at work in all things, there are times he will use the wicked to advance his will. However, we must not mistake their “success” for approval. God will ultimately hold all accountable for their choices, according to his will.

On God's Terms, in God's Time

Tuesday, June 14, 2022

BIBLE READING: 2 Samuel 2-3

Now that Saul was dead, who would be king? Saul’s son Ish-Bosheth was next in line, but everyone knew David had been appointed by God (2 Samuel 3.9-10, cf. 1 Samuel 15.28; 28.17). Tensions mounted as both men were anointed (2 Samuel 2.8-11). When war broke out, David became the clear frontrunner (2 Samuel 3.1).

This was not by accident. God promised to tear the kingdom away from Saul and give it to David (1 Samuel 15.28; 28.17; 2 Samuel 3.18, cf. 1 Samuel 9.16). David would become king over all of Israel. These promises pervade the coming chapters. Seemingly everyone was aware of these promises, including those in Saul’s camp (see 2 Samuel 3.9-10, 18). Their awareness coupled with their conviction about God’s faithfulness opened the door for a smoother transition of power despite a series of negative events.

David also was convinced he would be king according to the promise of God. However, David does not immediately assert himself. Instead, he does it on God’s terms, in God’s time. This was David’s pattern of life. He refused to destroy Saul because that was God’s prerogative (1 Samuel 24.6). So, David’s next move was to inquire of the LORD, giving him direction on how to obtain the promise (2 Samuel 2.1). He proceeded diplomatically, fostering respect and loyalty in a time that could have been divisive (see 2 Samuel 2.4-7; 3.12-16, 35-39). Rather than seeking to establish himself or seek retribution, David humbly waited and faithfully acted as God directed.

While the events may appear random and fortuitous for David, God was working all things together to fulfill his promises. We must us observe David’s conviction of this in action. It was not enough just to know these promises, but to live and act with constant awareness of them. Through prayer and patience, David positioned himself to receive the kingdom God had promised. On God’s terms, in God’s time.

God’s promises drive faith but are often complicated in our minds by immediate circumstances. God promises various seasons but doesn’t stipulate how long they will last. God promises to return and deal with the wicked, but many treat that as foolish (2 Peter 3.3-4). Frustration and discouragement can develop if our focus is on the present. Events will rarely happen on our terms or our timeline; but we can be sure that God will come through. So, we must be diligent in prayer and daily mindful of God’s promises.

David shows us how to wait on the LORD as we go through life. There were times his choices seemed contrary to God’s promises (like refusing to kill Saul and become king), but David would not take matters into his own hands. That’s our natural inclination, but we must not get ahead of God. He is faithful, so we must settle our mind daily in both God’s nature and calling for us today. The time will come when we realized God’s faithfulness in its fulness. Until then, let us be diligent to practice the same faithfulness God has always shown to his people.

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