Archive for July, 2013

2 Samuel 16-17

Today’s reading begins with Ziba’s lie to David and concludes with David and his men being refreshed at Mahanaim.

David really isn’t in a great place at this point in his life. His son Amnon raped his daughter, his son Absalom killed Amnon his son, his son Absalom had worked to turn the hearts of the people of Israel away from David and had been so successful at doing so that David had to flee in order to save his life. The reading for today begins with the servant of Jonathan’s son Mephibosheth lying to David, telling David that Mephibosheth had stayed behind in Jerusalem because he expected the kingdom to return to Saul’s family. In accordance with this lie, David granted all that belonged to Mephibosheth to his lying servant Ziba.

After the incident with Ziba as David continued to flee, he came to the land of Bahurim. When he came to this region, a man who was a relative of Saul came out and hurled abuse at and stones at David. Although David’s servants were willing to take this man Shimei and put him to death for his disrespect of the king, David prevented them from doing so because he felt that God may have been prompting Shimei to speak the abusive words and curses at him.

While David was fleeing from his son Absalom, Absalom inquired what he should do in order to gain the respect of those fighting for him against his father David. When Absalom inquired of Ahithophel as to what he should do, Ahithophel advised Absalom to have sex with all of David’s concubines. Absalom followed this advice, but didn’t do so with any sort of discretion. Instead of using discretion, Absalom made a show of his dalliances with his father’s concubines by setting up a tent for all of this to take place. Certainly not an attempt at discretion.

The only positive news for David in the reading for today was when Absalom inquired of Ahithophel what he should do after committing indecent acts with his father’s concubines. Ahithophel recommended that Absalom stay put where he was at, but when Absalom inquired of Hushai the Archite, Hushai recommended that Absalom pursue David. Although Hushai was in the presence of Absalom, he was completely loyal to David and was working a trap against Absalom. Absalom followed Hushai’s advice and began his pursuit to find his father David and put him to death. It would have been wise for Absalom to stay put, where he was safe, but Absalom was out to take the life of his father and the pursuit held too much allure for him not to take advantage of it.

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2 Samuel 13-15

Today’s reading begins with the rape of Tamar by David’s son Amnon and concludes with David fleeing from Jerusalem.

God had promised David after his adultery with Bathsheba and his subsequent actions in having Uriah sent to his death, that the sword would not leave his house. The reading for today begins covering the fulfillment of that word from the prophet Nathan. David had several wives and as such had several children from his several wives.

David’s son Amnon by his wife Ahinoam began to lust after his half-sister Tamar, the daughter of Maachah. On the advice of his friend, Amnon made a request through David to have Tamar come a care for him during a time when Amnon feigned illness. David instructed Tamar to go care for her half-brother and when she complied with David’s instruction Amnon forced himself upon her and raped her. Filled with guilt for his actions or disappointment in himself for having committed an act of wickedness, Amnon sent Tamar away and when her full-brother Absalom found out about it he became enraged.

David had found out about the rape of his daughter by Amnon, but refused to punish Amnon. Absalom found out about his father David’s refusal to punish Amnon and decided to put him to death. Absalom gathered all of the king’s sons together for the shearing of the king’s herds and when Amnon was merry with wine Absalom ordered Amnon killed. When David heard of his son’s murder he was greatly distraught but took no action against his other son Absalom.

From this point forward, Absalom would do his best to undermine the kingdom’s confidence in their king. He would stay at the entrance to the city and lament his father, David, and his unwillingness and inability to make judgments on behalf of the people. Daily he would do this and while David refused to punish his son, Absalom did his best to win the hearts of the people until finally Absalom was able to force David from his throne and the royal city and seeking refuge from the people he ruled.

Absalom had won the hearts of the people and David now feared for his own life. His lack of action in punishing the evil of his sons was costing him the kingship.

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2 Samuel 9-12

Today’s reading begins with David welcoming Saul’s son Mephibosheth into his household and concludes with David’s battle against the people of Rabbah.

As mentioned in a previous post, when a new ruler came into power in a kingdom, especially one of a different family from the previous king, the typical practice was to either force the prior ruling family into exile or maybe more often to execute the entire former ruling family. This was done to eliminate competition, intimidate the people of the kingdom, and consolidate power. David actions in many ways defied both custom and logic, and while there certainly must have been some loyalty to family ties and friendships because of David’s wife being Saul’s daughter and David’s friendship with Saul’s son Jonathan, it’s impressive that in the opening narrative of today’s reading that David sought out Jonathan’s son Mephibosheth to share both companionship and wealth.

The reading from today goes from a generous act of mercy and grace upon Jonathan’s paralyzed son Mephibosheth, to the greatest act of wickedness raeported of David. There are few of us, likely none of you reading this post, who could or would have done what David is recorded as having done next in the narrative. David was the king and could do nearly anything he pleased. It was his kingdom. Maybe it was a distorted perception of his own autonomy, but while David was relaxing and walking about the roof of his palace, he spotted a beautiful woman in the midst of bathing and inquires of his servants as to the identity of this woman. David’s servant recognizes who the woman is and reports to him that it is Bathsheba the wife of Uriah the Hittite, to which David replies, “Oh, she’s taken. Alright, just checking.” Well, that’s what David should have said, but instead of catching the subtle hint from his servant that this woman ought to be ignored, David instructs his servant to bring Bathsheba to him. David wasn’t looking to have a casual conversation with the wife of one of the best soldiers in his army, but rather an affair.

Soon after David has his one night stand with Bathsheba, she sends word to him that she is pregnant. Hoping to cover his tracks, David calls back Bathsheba’s husband Uriah from the battlefield and tells him to go home to his wife. Most men would likely have simply obeyed the king’s admonishment and having been away from their wife for an extended period would jump at the opportunity to go home and be intimate. Uriah displays his loyalty to the soldiers in his charge and instead of going home to his wife stays at the entrance of the city. Having heard of this, David invites Uriah back in and shares a grand feast with Uriah and gets him drunk hoping that he will then be motivated to go home and be with his wife.

After having passed on both attempts made by David to cover his tracks, Uriah is sent back out into battle and instructs his commanders to put Uriah into the area of battle with the heaviest fighting and then withdrawing from him to leave him to die. After word returns to David that Uriah has been killed, David treats the occurrence casually and basically says, “Oh well, let’s not get to bent out of shape about this, people die all the time in battle. It’s just one of those things.”

David had swept his sin under the rug, but the LORD would not let his sin stand without calling him to account. The LORD called upon the prophet Nathan to confront David with his sin. Nathan comes to David and tells him the story of a wealthy man with abundant livestock who passes through a town and instead of taking one of his own livestock to offer in sacrifice to the LORD, takes the beloved family pet of a poor man and offers the pet up as a sacrifice. David is enraged by this action and tells Nathan that this wealthy man should be put to death for this injustice, to which Nathan responds to David, “You are the man!” The LORD had confronted David with his sin and David finally comes to repentance over his actions. David rightly deserves death as he so rightly pointed out to Nathan, but God instead chooses to punish David in another way, by putting to death the child wrought of his sin and bringing calamity upon his household.

Although David was not entitled to God’s mercy, God gave it. Although David’s actions were sinful and he multiplied them by taking Bathsheba as his wife, God chose to work through the evil David had done by calling the offspring of David’s relationship, Solomon, to be the heir to the kingdom of Israel. God’s ways and His purposes in the story of David are always confusing. God spared a murderer and blessed the offspring of a marriage that was a direct result of the murder. I don’t think there’s any adequate explanation for what God did in the life of David, nor what he did consequently in the life of his son with Bathsheba, Solomon.

I am often convinced of my own conclusions as to what ‘will’ happen to ‘people like that’. Certainly God wouldn’t bless ‘people like that’. Certainly God wouldn’t use sinful people and sinful acts to bring about His purposes. God wouldn’t do something like that. God demands holiness. God only uses the good things we do to perpetuate good. The story of David should rock you to the core. It should rock me to the core. We will see that God by no means lets David off without consequence for his evil, but we will see in the remainder of the read-through of the Bible that God blesses what Satan intended for calamity.

And if you’re keeping score, here’s where the family lineage is to this point: Judah’s incest with his daughter-in-law who he had gone to because he thought she was a prostitute, Rahab the prostitute, Ruth the offspring of Lot’s incest, Solomon the offspring of David’s adultery and his act of murder. This is not what I grew up believing how God would work. It’s easier to skip the details of history: jumping to the highlights and ignoring the ugly.

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2 Samuel 5-8

Today’s reading begins with David crowned the King of Israel and concludes with the listing of David’s chief kingdom officials.

After the death of Saul’s son Ish-bosheth, the kingdom of Israel was without a king. The elders of the remaining tribes of Israel came to David at that time and made a covenant with him and handed over the crown of the kingdom of Israel to David. Although the text doesn’t give any indication of this, I would venture to state that David’s swift action in executing Ish-bosheth’s murderers ingratiated him to the people of Israel. Seeing that David would deal justly with wrong-doers and was angered enough by the actions of those in his command to have them executed probably won over the hearts of the people of Israel.

Not long into David’s reign over Israel, the LORD came and spoke to the prophet Nathan about His plans for David. David had found favor in the eyes of the LORD because of his heart for the LORD and his righteous deeds. Nathan spoke to David all of the words of the LORD, how the LORD would bless David and would keep a man of his household over the kingdom of Israel forever. David was greatly honored by this and thanked and blessed the LORD for the great mercy and grace that he had shown him.

Although God had promised to establish David and his family over Israel, the LORD also promised David that when he disobeyed that the LORD would punish him, but in spite of any punishment, the LORD would keep his covenant with David forever. It’s difficult for me to imagine why God would promise anyone his abiding favor forever. When Saul strayed from the LORD, Samuel’s word to Saul was that the LORD would seek out a man to rule over His people Israel who would be a man after (the LORD’s) own heart.

Although I’ve known that word from God about David for quite some time, I’m still not certain exactly what it means. What does it mean to be a man (or woman) after God’s own heart? As we’ll see shortly in upcoming passages, David committed great acts of wickedness and although it’s important not to compare ourselves with others to define our own righteousness, it’s difficult not to look at David and think, “I’ve got this whole walking with God thing all wrapped up!” Maybe you don’t think that, but certainly it’s been a thought that’s crossed my mind.

I haven’t gotten down my walk with the LORD to any sort of a science. I know I still blow it and I’m quite certain that I don’t have a heart for the LORD like even some of my friends, let alone a person spoken exclusively of in the Bible as being a man after God’s own heart. A long way off…

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2 Samuel 2-4

Today’s reading begins with David being anointed King of Judah and concludes with David ordering the execution of the murderers of Saul’s son Ish-bosheth.

The events of the reading for today for anyone familiar with the typical course of events of the changing of the guard in kingdoms from one family to another aren’t that surprising. The killing of the family formerly in power was an expectation. Leaders loyal to the former king are killed and those who are cunning do their best to win the favor of the new monarch.

In today’s reading we see some of these things:

1.  Saul’s commander Abner turns his back on the entire family of Saul and attempts to win David’s favor.

2. David’s commander Joab kills Abner.

3. Saul’s son Ish-bosheth is murdered.

What’s surprising about the events covered in today’s reading are David’s reactions to some of these events. When Abner turns his back on Saul’s family, David’s commander Joab likely sees the hypocrisy of those actions and combined with the fact that during the struggle for the kingdom Abner killed Joab’s brother, Joab has Abner killed. David doesn’t express satisfaction in the death of Abner, rather he mourns his death. He had seen Abner’s loyalty to the king and admired him for that and felt that he deserved a more fitting end.

In the opening paragraphs of today’s reading, David is anointed King of Judah. Having come from the tribe of Judah, it wasn’t surprising that the people of Judah named him as their king. The remainder of Israel, however, was loyal to the family of Saul and named Saul’s son Ish-bosheth as their new king. Some of David’s soldiers thinking that they were doing a good deed for the new King of Judah decide to find Ish-bosheth and have him murdered. Even though David stood to benefit greatly from the death of Ish-bosheth in terms of uniting the Kingdom of Israel, this vigilante act greatly angered him and he ordered the execution of Ish-bosheth’s killers. Unusual responses to events that would normally be celebrated by a man seeking power.

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Bible in a year…just a bit behind

For all of my loyal readers, I’m sure you’ve been disappointed in the lack of content that I’ve provided over the last two weeks in the Bible in a Year series. I intend to make up the lost ground, but it may take a little while.

I’m going to start today to try and catch up, so brace yourselves, it’s going to take you a while to catch up. 🙂

Thanks for stopping by and reading. I hope this series is a blessing.

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1 Samuel 30-31 and 2 Samuel 1

Today’s reading begins with the capture of David’s wives by the Amalekites and concludes with David’s lament over Saul and Jonathan.

After all that David had been through in his relationship with Saul, his lament of Saul’s birth is certainly a mystery. David had been Saul’s son-in-law as he had been married to Michal. David had also been a very close friend of Saul’s son Jonathan. Further, David had been a leader in Saul’s armies. Certainly an argument could be made that David had close ties to Saul.

Conversely, it’s somewhat atypical for any person to mourn the death of a person who was seeking to his death. Possibly many of the aforementioned reasons played a significant part in David’s grief, but the passage seems to imply that a great deal of David’s grief and anguish over the death of Saul surrounded the fact that the king had been anointed by the LORD to lead the people of Israel.

Shortly before his lament of Saul, David learns of Saul’s death at the hands of an Amalekite. Saul had been caught in battle with the Philistines and instead of dying by their hand he decided to kill himself. When the young Amalekite came upon Saul, he found Saul to still be alive. Rather than die by natural causes, Saul asked the young man to run him through. The young man did as Saul had requested, but when he told his story to David, David became enraged and asked why the young man did not fear the LORD. Not waiting long to here the response of the young man, David ordered the young men executed for his actions against the king of Israel.

I’m not certain of all the reasons David had for swift judgment against the young Amalekite, but the LORD had definitely found a man to be king of Israel who respected God’s calling and was willing to act to preserve and protect God’s reputation among God’s people.

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