Devotion Text

February 8, 2019

2 Samuel 24 – 2019-02-08

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    2 Samuel 24:1-25 (ESV) 

    1 Again the anger of the Lord was kindled against Israel, and he incited David against them, saying, “Go, number Israel and Judah.” 2 So the king said to Joab, the commander of the army, who was with him, “Go through all the tribes of Israel, from Dan to Beersheba, and number the people, that I may know the number of the people.” 3 But Joab said to the king, “May the Lord your God add to the people a hundred times as many as they are, while the eyes of my lord the king still see it, but why does my lord the king delight in this thing?” 4 But the king’s word prevailed against Joab and the commanders of the army. So Joab and the commanders of the army went out from the presence of the king to number the people of Israel. 5 They crossed the Jordan and began from Aroer, and from the city that is in the middle of the valley, toward Gad and on to Jazer. 6 Then they came to Gilead, and to Kadesh in the land of the Hittites; and they came to Dan, and from Dan they went around to Sidon, 7 and came to the fortress of Tyre and to all the cities of the Hivites and Canaanites; and they went out to the Negeb of Judah at Beersheba. 8 So when they had gone through all the land, they came to Jerusalem at the end of nine months and twenty days. 9 And Joab gave the sum of the numbering of the people to the king: in Israel there were 800,000 valiant men who drew the sword, and the men of Judah were 500,000.

    10 But David’s heart struck him after he had numbered the people. And David said to the Lord, “I have sinned greatly in what I have done. But now, O Lord, please take away the iniquity of your servant, for I have done very foolishly.” 11 And when David arose in the morning, the word of the Lord came to the prophet Gad, David’s seer, saying, 12 “Go and say to David, ‘Thus says the Lord, Three things I offer you. Choose one of them, that I may do it to you.’” 13 So Gad came to David and told him, and said to him, “Shall three years of famine come to you in your land? Or will you flee three months before your foes while they pursue you? Or shall there be three days’ pestilence in your land? Now consider, and decide what answer I shall return to him who sent me.” 14 Then David said to Gad, “I am in great distress. Let us fall into the hand of the Lord, for his mercy is great; but let me not fall into the hand of man.”

    15 So the Lord sent a pestilence on Israel from the morning until the appointed time. And there died of the people from Dan to Beersheba 70,000 men. 16 And when the angel stretched out his hand toward Jerusalem to destroy it, the Lord relented from the calamity and said to the angel who was working destruction among the people, “It is enough; now stay your hand.” And the angel of the Lord was by the threshing floor of Araunah the Jebusite. 17 Then David spoke to the Lord when he saw the angel who was striking the people, and said, “Behold, I have sinned, and I have done wickedly. But these sheep, what have they done? Please let your hand be against me and against my father’s house.”

    18 And Gad came that day to David and said to him, “Go up, raise an altar to the Lord on the threshing floor of Araunah the Jebusite.” 19 So David went up at Gad’s word, as the Lord commanded. 20 And when Araunah looked down, he saw the king and his servants coming on toward him. And Araunah went out and paid homage to the king with his face to the ground. 21 And Araunah said, “Why has my lord the king come to his servant?” David said, “To buy the threshing floor from you, in order to build an altar to the Lord, that the plague may be averted from the people.” 22 Then Araunah said to David, “Let my lord the king take and offer up what seems good to him. Here are the oxen for the burnt offering and the threshing sledges and the yokes of the oxen for the wood. 23 All this, O king, Araunah gives to the king.” And Araunah said to the king, “May the Lord your God accept you.” 24 But the king said to Araunah, “No, but I will buy it from you for a price. I will not offer burnt offerings to the Lord my God that cost me nothing.” So David bought the threshing floor and the oxen for fifty shekels of silver. 25 And David built there an altar to the Lord and offered burnt offerings and peace offerings. So the Lord responded to the plea for the land, and the plague was averted from Israel.

    Reflection & Application:  

    2 Samuel 24:1-3

    • Why is it that in this case, taking the census is offensive to God?
    • In what ways do I take stock of my accomplishments or the things I have when I feel like God may not deliver on His promises?
    • What do I draw my security and pride from apart from God?

    2 Samuel 24:10

    • It is through David’s own conscience that he realizes he has sinned against God in taking the census.  What is the role of conscience in realizing sin and what should be my response to the witness of my conscience?
    • How reliable is my conscience and how responsive am I to its prodding?

    2 Samuel 24:24

    • David insists on paying for the threshing floor and any burnt offering even though he could have easily gotten them for free.  What does this show about true repentance, and about the proper attitude in coming before God in general?

Prayer

February 7, 2019

2 Samuel 23 – 2019-02-07

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    2 Samuel 23:13-39 (ESV) 

    13 And three of the thirty chief men went down and came about harvest time to David at the cave of Adullam, when a band of Philistines was encamped in the Valley of Rephaim. 14 David was then in the stronghold, and the garrison of the Philistines was then at Bethlehem. 15 And David said longingly, “Oh, that someone would give me water to drink from the well of Bethlehem that is by the gate!” 16 Then the three mighty men broke through the camp of the Philistines and drew water out of the well of Bethlehem that was by the gate and carried and brought it to David. But he would not drink of it. He poured it out to the Lord 17 and said, “Far be it from me, O Lord, that I should do this. Shall I drink the blood of the men who went at the risk of their lives?” Therefore he would not drink it. These things the three mighty men did.

    18 Now Abishai, the brother of Joab, the son of Zeruiah, was chief of the thirty. And he wielded his spear against three hundred men and killed them and won a name beside the three. 19 He was the most renowned of the thirty and became their commander, but he did not attain to the three.

    20 And Benaiah the son of Jehoiada was a valiant man of Kabzeel, a doer of great deeds. He struck down two ariels of Moab. He also went down and struck down a lion in a pit on a day when snow had fallen. 21 And he struck down an Egyptian, a handsome man. The Egyptian had a spear in his hand, but Benaiah went down to him with a staff and snatched the spear out of the Egyptian’s hand and killed him with his own spear. 22 These things did Benaiah the son of Jehoiada, and won a name beside the three mighty men. 23 He was renowned among the thirty, but he did not attain to the three. And David set him over his bodyguard.

    24 Asahel the brother of Joab was one of the thirty; Elhanan the son of Dodo of Bethlehem,  25 Shammah of Harod, Elika of Harod, 26 Helez the Paltite, Ira the son of Ikkesh of Tekoa, 27 Abiezer of Anathoth, Mebunnai the Hushathite, 28 Zalmon the Ahohite, Maharai of Netophah, 29 Heleb the son of Baanah of Netophah, Ittai the son of Ribai of Gibeah of the people of Benjamin, 30 Benaiah of Pirathon, Hiddai of the brooks of Gaash, 31 Abi-albon the Arbathite, Azmaveth of Bahurim, 32 Eliahba the Shaalbonite, the sons of Jashen, Jonathan, 33 Shammah the Hararite, Ahiam the son of Sharar the Hararite, 34 Eliphelet the son of Ahasbai of Maacah, Eliam the son of Ahithophel the Gilonite, 35 Hezro of Carmel, Paarai the Arbite,      36 Igal the son of Nathan of Zobah, Bani the Gadite, 37 Zelek the Ammonite, Naharai of Beeroth, the armor-bearer of Joab the son of Zeruiah, 38 Ira the Ithrite, Gareb the Ithrite, 39 Uriah the Hittite: thirty-seven in all.

    Reflection & Application:  

    2 Samuel 23:14-17

    “This story is retold here to give readers insight into the caliber of men with whom David surrounded himself. They treated his wish almost as a command and risked their lives fighting their way through the Philistine garrison in order to bring their leader a drink from the well (v.16). Although their names are not given, they have modeled for succeeding generations a kind of enthusiastic, loving self-forgetfulness in relationship with others. …this is the kind of thinking that Christ needs from each of His children, that His slightest wish would be considered by us to be a command that we would joyfully do whatever the cost…” [1]

    • What are the characteristics of the “mighty men” shown by this exploit?  What does this show about their relationship with David, their commander?
    • How can I exhibit these same characteristics in my relationship with God?
    • What can I learn from David about what he does with the precious gift brought to him by the three men?

    2 Samuel 23:8-39

    “While the names on the list mean little to today’s readers it should serve as a reminder that every movement, whether it is the building of a nation or a church, is dependent upon a host of loyal, faithful people who give themselves unselfishly. Often history lifts up the names of the leaders and tends to forget the faithful followers. Like the historian, we should preserve the names of God’s mighty men and women.” [2]

    • Who are the “mighty men” that God has placed in my life, without whom I would not be where I am today in my experience of God’s promises to me?
    • What were the backgrounds and humble beginnings of these mighty men who followed David?
    • What hope can this give me?

    [1] Kenneth Chafin, Mastering the Old Testament: 1 & 2 Samuel (Dallas, London, Vancouver, Melbourne: Word Publishing, 1989) 393.

    [2] Kenneth Chafin, Mastering the Old Testament: 1 & 2 Samuel (Dallas, London, Vancouver, Melbourne: Word Publishing, 1989) 393.

Prayer

February 6, 2019

2 Samuel 23 – 2019-02-06

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    2 Samuel 23:1-12 (ESV)1 Now these are the last words of David:

    The oracle of David, the son of Jesse,

    the oracle of the man who was raised on high,

    the anointed of the God of Jacob,

    the sweet psalmist of Israel:

    2 “The Spirit of the Lord speaks by me;

    his word is on my tongue.

    3 The God of Israel has spoken;

    the Rock of Israel has said to me:

    When one rules justly over men,

    ruling in the fear of God,

    4 he dawns on them like the morning light,

    like the sun shining forth on a cloudless morning,

    like rain that makes grass to sprout from the earth.

    5 “For does not my house stand so with God?

    For he has made with me an everlasting covenant,

    ordered in all things and secure.

    For will he not cause to prosper

    all my help and my desire?

    6 But worthless men are all like thorns that are thrown away,

    for they cannot be taken with the hand;

    7 but the man who touches them

    arms himself with iron and the shaft of a spear,

    and they are utterly consumed with fire.”

    8 These are the names of the mighty men whom David had: Josheb-basshebeth a Tahchemonite; he was chief of the three. He wielded his spear against eight hundred whom he killed at one time.

    9 And next to him among the three mighty men was Eleazar the son of Dodo, son of Ahohi. He was with David when they defied the Philistines who were gathered there for battle, and the men of Israel withdrew. 10 He rose and struck down the Philistines until his hand was weary, and his hand clung to the sword. And the Lord brought about a great victory that day, and the men returned after him only to strip the slain.

    11 And next to him was Shammah, the son of Agee the Hararite. The Philistines gathered together at Lehi, where there was a plot of ground full of lentils, and the men fled from the Philistines. 12 But he took his stand in the midst of the plot and defended it and struck down the Philistines, and the Lord worked a great victory.

    Reflection & Application:  

    2 Samuel 23:8-12

    • Reflect on the fact that while “the men of Israel withdrew,” Eleazar “rose and struck down the Philistines until his hand was weary.”  Again, “the men fled” but Shammah “took his stand.”  What does it take to stand my ground when others flee?
    • Notice that after Eleazar and Shammah’s valiant actions are described, the text follows with the words, “the Lord worked a great victory.” What can I learn about how God works and the role I need to play in his kingdom work?

Prayer

February 5, 2019

2 Samuel 22 – 2019-02-05

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    2 Samuel 22:1-51 (ESV) 

    1 And David spoke to the Lord the words of this song on the day when the Lord delivered him from the hand of all his enemies, and from the hand of Saul. 2 He said,

    “The Lord is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer,

    3  my God, my rock, in whom I take refuge,

    my shield, and the horn of my salvation,

    my stronghold and my refuge,

    my savior; you save me from violence.

    4 I call upon the Lord, who is worthy to be praised,

    and I am saved from my enemies.

    5 “For the waves of death encompassed me,

    the torrents of destruction assailed me;

    6 the cords of Sheol entangled me;

    the snares of death confronted me.

    7 “In my distress I called upon the Lord;

    to my God I called.

    From his temple he heard my voice,

    and my cry came to his ears.

    8 “Then the earth reeled and rocked;

    the foundations of the heavens trembled

    and quaked, because he was angry.

    9 Smoke went up from his nostrils,

    and devouring fire from his mouth;

    glowing coals flamed forth from him.

    10 He bowed the heavens and came down;

    thick darkness was under his feet.

    11 He rode on a cherub and flew;

    he was seen on the wings of the wind.

    12 He made darkness around him his canopy,

    thick clouds, a gathering of water.

    13 Out of the brightness before him

    coals of fire flamed forth.

    14 The Lord thundered from heaven,

    and the Most High uttered his voice.

    15 And he sent out arrows and scattered them;

    lightning, and routed them.

    16 Then the channels of the sea were seen;

    the foundations of the world were laid bare,

    at the rebuke of the Lord,

    at the blast of the breath of his nostrils.

    17 “He sent from on high, he took me;

    he drew me out of many waters.

    18 He rescued me from my strong enemy,

    from those who hated me,

    for they were too mighty for me.

    19 They confronted me in the day of my calamity,

    but the Lord was my support.

    20 He brought me out into a broad place;

    he rescued me, because he delighted in me.

    21 “The Lord dealt with me according to my righteousness;

    according to the cleanness of my hands he rewarded me.

    22 For I have kept the ways of the Lord

    and have not wickedly departed from my God.

    23 For all his rules were before me,

    and from his statutes I did not turn aside.

    24 I was blameless before him,

    and I kept myself from guilt.

    25 And the Lord has rewarded me according to my righteousness,

    according to my cleanness in his sight.

    26 “With the merciful you show yourself merciful;

    with the blameless man you show yourself blameless;

    27 with the purified you deal purely,

    and with the crooked you make yourself seem tortuous.

    28 You save a humble people,

    but your eyes are on the haughty to bring them down.

    29 For you are my lamp, O Lord,

    and my God lightens my darkness.

    30 For by you I can run against a troop,

    and by my God I can leap over a wall.

    31 This God—his way is perfect;

    the word of the Lord proves true;

    he is a shield for all those who take refuge in him.

    32 “For who is God, but the Lord?

    And who is a rock, except our God?

    33 This God is my strong refuge

    and has made my way blameless.

    34 He made my feet like the feet of a deer

    and set me secure on the heights.

    35 He trains my hands for war,

    so that my arms can bend a bow of bronze.

    36 You have given me the shield of your salvation,

    and your gentleness made me great.

    37 You gave a wide place for my steps under me,

    and my feet did not slip;

    38 I pursued my enemies and destroyed them,

    and did not turn back until they were consumed.

    39 I consumed them; I thrust them through, so that they did not rise;

    they fell under my feet.

    40 For you equipped me with strength for the battle;

    you made those who rise against me sink under me.

    41 You made my enemies turn their backs to me,

    those who hated me, and I destroyed them.

    42 They looked, but there was none to save;

    they cried to the Lord, but he did not answer them.

    43 I beat them fine as the dust of the earth;

    I crushed them and stamped them down like the mire of the streets.

    44 “You delivered me from strife with my people;

    you kept me as the head of the nations;

    people whom I had not known served me.

    45 Foreigners came cringing to me;

    as soon as they heard of me, they obeyed me.

    46 Foreigners lost heart

    and came trembling out of their fortresses.

    47 “The Lord lives, and blessed be my rock,

    and exalted be my God, the rock of my salvation,

    48 the God who gave me vengeance

    and brought down peoples under me,

    49 who brought me out from my enemies;

    you exalted me above those who rose against me;

    you delivered me from men of violence.

    50 “For this I will praise you, O Lord, among the nations,

    and sing praises to your name.

    51 Great salvation he brings to his king,

    and shows steadfast love to his anointed,

    to David and his offspring forever.

    Reflection & Application:  

    2 Samuel 22:1-7

    • Think about the number and intensity of the actual situations that must have given rise to the varied expressions in vv. 5-6.  What relationship is there between the wide range of David’s difficulties and the extensive range of David’s description of what God has been to him?
    • Have I forfeited such fellowship with God by avoiding difficulties?

    2 Samuel 22:8-20

    • Reflection on the following words: “He sent from on high” (v.17), “he drew me out” (v. 17), “He rescued me” (v. 18), “the Lord was my support” (v. 19), and “he delighted in me” (v. 20).  How do these words describe what God has done (and is doing) in my life?

    2 Samuel 22:32-51

    “It is only in section three of this song (vv.29-51) that we come to the combination of royal gifts with the ultimate empowering (and forgiving) grace of God, which makes the future possible for God’s people. […] The king is nothing without the grace of God; nevertheless, God has chosen to work through David and the subsequent kings of his line.  God has chosen to work messianically – that is, through God’s anointed one.  It is this combination of divine providence and human action that uniquely summarizes the books of Samuel and the story of David in particular.”[1]

    • David’s life is a clear testament of God’s triumph over sin.  Have I accepted the fact that God gives “great salvation” from sin and death, and my sin is not the final word over my life?

    [1] Bruce C. Birch, “The First and Second Books of Samuel,” The New Interpreter’s Bible, Vol. II (Nashville, TN: Abingdon Press, 1998), 1366.

Prayer

February 4, 2019

2 Samuel 21 – 2019-02-04

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    2 Samuel 21:15-22 (ESV) 15 There was war again between the Philistines and Israel, and David went down together with his servants, and they fought against the Philistines. And David grew weary. 16 And Ishbi-benob, one of the descendants of the giants, whose spear weighed three hundred shekels of bronze, and who was armed with a new sword, thought to kill David. 17 But Abishai the son of Zeruiah came to his aid and attacked the Philistine and killed him. Then David’s men swore to him, “You shall no longer go out with us to battle, lest you quench the lamp of Israel.”

    18 After this there was again war with the Philistines at Gob. Then Sibbecai the Hushathite struck down Saph, who was one of the descendants of the giants.             19 And there was again war with the Philistines at Gob, and Elhanan the son of Jaare-oregim, the Bethlehemite, struck down Goliath the Gittite, the shaft of whose spear was like a weaver’s beam. 20 And there was again war at Gath, where there was a man of great stature, who had six fingers on each hand, and six toes on each foot, twenty-four in number, and he also was descended from the giants. 21 And when he taunted Israel, Jonathan the son of Shimei, David’s brother, struck him down. 22 These four were descended from the giants in Gath, and they fell by the hand of David and by the hand of his servants.

    Reflection & Application:  

    2 Samuel 21:15-22

    • Reflect on the following words: “There was war again,” “After this there was again war,” “And there was again war,” “And there was again war.”  What does this passage say regarding the working out of God’s promises?
    • What are some promises that I, as a child of God, need to lay hold of through courageous obedience?

Prayer

February 1, 2019

2 Samuel 21 – 2019-02-01

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    2 Samuel 21:1-14 (ESV)21 Now there was a famine in the days of David for three years, year after year. And David sought the face of the Lord. And the Lord said, “There is bloodguilt on Saul and on his house, because he put the Gibeonites to death.” 2 So the king called the Gibeonites and spoke to them. Now the Gibeonites were not of the people of Israel but of the remnant of the Amorites. Although the people of Israel had sworn to spare them, Saul had sought to strike them down in his zeal for the people of Israel and Judah. 3 And David said to the Gibeonites, “What shall I do for you? And how shall I make atonement, that you may bless the heritage of the Lord?” 4 The Gibeonites said to him, “It is not a matter of silver or gold between us and Saul or his house; neither is it for us to put any man to death in Israel.” And he said, “What do you say that I shall do for you?” 5 They said to the king, “The man who consumed us and planned to destroy us, so that we should have no place in all the territory of Israel,      6 let seven of his sons be given to us, so that we may hang them before the Lord at Gibeah of Saul, the chosen of the Lord.” And the king said, “I will give them.”

    7 But the king spared Mephibosheth, the son of Saul’s son Jonathan, because of the oath of the Lord that was between them, between David and Jonathan the son of Saul. 8 The king took the two sons of Rizpah the daughter of Aiah, whom she bore to Saul, Armoni and Mephibosheth; and the five sons of Merab the daughter of Saul, whom she bore to Adriel the son of Barzillai the Meholathite; 9 and he gave them into the hands of the Gibeonites, and they hanged them on the mountain before the Lord, and the seven of them perished together. They were put to death in the first days of harvest, at the beginning of barley harvest.

    10 Then Rizpah the daughter of Aiah took sackcloth and spread it for herself on the rock, from the beginning of harvest until rain fell upon them from the heavens. And she did not allow the birds of the air to come upon them by day, or the beasts of the field by night. 11 When David was told what Rizpah the daughter of Aiah, the concubine of Saul, had done, 12 David went and took the bones of Saul and the bones of his son Jonathan from the men of Jabesh-gilead, who had stolen them from the public square of Beth-shan, where the Philistines had hanged them, on the day the Philistines killed Saul on Gilboa. 13 And he brought up from there the bones of Saul and the bones of his son Jonathan; and they gathered the bones of those who were hanged. 14 And they buried the bones of Saul and his son Jonathan in the land of Benjamin in Zela, in the tomb of Kish his father. And they did all that the king commanded. And after that God responded to the plea for the land.

    Reflection & Application:  

    2 Samuel 21:1

    • David “sought the face of the Lord” in the face of three successive years of famine.  How do I respond when I am in a situation beyond my control?

    2 Samuel 21:1-9

    “Although the Bible does not record Saul’s act of vengeance against the Gibeonites, it was apparently a serious crime making him guilty of their blood.  Still, why were Saul’s sons killed for the murders their father committed?  In many Near Eastern cultures, including Israel’s, an entire family was held guilty for the crime of the father because the family was considered an indissoluble unit.  Saul broke the vow that the Israelites made to the Gibeonites (Joshua 9:16-20).  This was a serious offense against God’s law (Numbers 30:1-2).  Either David was following the custom of treating the family as a unit, or Saul’s sons were guilty of helping Saul kill the Gibeonites.”[1]

    • Reflect on the consequences of Saul’s sin.

    2 Samuel 21:1-14

    • Reflect on the loving actions of David bringing “the bones of Saul and the bones of his son Jonathan” and “the bones of those who were hanged” and giving them a proper burial after such a tragic episode.  What lesson is here about the proper course of action in the midst of tragedy?
    • What is the significance of the statement: “And after that God responded to the plea for the land”?

    [1] Life Application Study Bible, Study Notes (Wheaton, IL: Tyndale, 1991) 531.

Prayer

January 31, 2019

2 Samuel 20 – 2019-01-31

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  • Bible Text:  

    2 Samuel 20:1-26 (ESV)

    1 Now there happened to be there a worthless man, whose name was Sheba, the son of Bichri, a Benjaminite. And he blew the trumpet and said,

    “We have no portion in David,

    and we have no inheritance in the son of Jesse;

    every man to his tents, O Israel!”

    2 So all the men of Israel withdrew from David and followed Sheba the son of Bichri. But the men of Judah followed their king steadfastly from the Jordan to Jerusalem.

    3 And David came to his house at Jerusalem. And the king took the ten concubines whom he had left to care for the house and put them in a house under guard and provided for them, but did not go in to them. So they were shut up until the day of their death, living as if in widowhood.

    4 Then the king said to Amasa, “Call the men of Judah together to me within three days, and be here yourself.” 5 So Amasa went to summon Judah, but he delayed beyond the set time that had been appointed him. 6 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.” 7 And there went out after him Joab’s men and the Cherethites and the Pelethites, and all the mighty men. They went out from Jerusalem to pursue Sheba the son of Bichri. 8 When they were at the great stone that is in Gibeon, Amasa came to meet them. Now Joab was wearing a soldier’s garment, and over it was a belt with a sword in its sheath fastened on his thigh, and as he went forward it fell out. 9 And Joab said to Amasa, “Is it well with you, my brother?” And Joab took Amasa by the beard with his right hand to kiss him. 10 But Amasa did not observe the sword that was in Joab’s hand. So Joab struck him with it in the stomach and spilled his entrails to the ground without striking a second blow, and he died.

    Then Joab and Abishai his brother pursued Sheba the son of Bichri. 11 And one of Joab’s young men took his stand by Amasa and said, “Whoever favors Joab, and whoever is for David, let him follow Joab.” 12 And Amasa lay wallowing in his blood in the highway. And anyone who came by, seeing him, stopped. And when the man saw that all the people stopped, he carried Amasa out of the highway into the field and threw a garment over him. 13 When he was taken out of the highway, all the people went on after Joab to pursue Sheba the son of Bichri.

    14 And Sheba passed through all the tribes of Israel to Abel of Beth-maacah, and all the Bichrites assembled and followed him in. 15 And all the men who were with Joab came and besieged him in Abel of Beth-maacah. They cast up a mound against the city, and it stood against the rampart, and they were battering the wall to throw it down. 16 Then a wise woman called from the city, “Listen! Listen! Tell Joab, ‘Come here, that I may speak to you.’” 17 And he came near her, and the woman said, “Are you Joab?” He answered, “I am.” Then she said to him, “Listen to the words of your servant.” And he answered, “I am listening.” 18 Then she said, “They used to say in former times, ‘Let them but ask counsel at Abel,’ and so they settled a matter. 19 I am one of those who are peaceable and faithful in Israel. You seek to destroy a city that is a mother in Israel. Why will you swallow up the heritage of the Lord?” 20 Joab answered, “Far be it from me, far be it, that I should swallow up or destroy! 21 That is not true. But a man of the hill country of Ephraim, called Sheba the son of Bichri, has lifted up his hand against King David. Give up him alone, and I will withdraw from the city.” And the woman said to Joab, “Behold, his head shall be thrown to you over the wall.” 22 Then the woman went to all the people in her wisdom. And they cut off the head of Sheba the son of Bichri and threw it out to Joab. So he blew the trumpet, and they dispersed from the city, every man to his home. And Joab returned to Jerusalem to the king.

    23 Now Joab was in command of all the army of Israel; and Benaiah the son of Jehoiada was in command of the Cherethites and the Pelethites; 24 and Adoram was in charge of the forced labor; and Jehoshaphat the son of Ahilud was the recorder; 25 and Sheva was secretary; and Zadok and Abiathar were priests; 26 and Ira the Jairite was also David’s priest.

    Reflection & Application:  

      • What can I learn about the men of Israel deserting David to follow Sheba, who just “happened to be there”?
      • Are there ways in which I allow tribal loyalties to prevent me from submitting to God-ordained authority in my life?2 Samuel 20:1-2

        “Although Israel was a united kingdom, it was still made up of 12 separate tribes.  These tribes often had difficulty agreeing on the goals of the nation as a whole… and now tribal jealousies were threatening the stability of David’s reign by giving Sheba an opportunity to rebel.”[1]

      2 Samuel 20:8-10

      “Joab represents perhaps the most complex example [of power].  He appears loyal to David, though the reader is forced to wonder if Joab is motivated simply by his need to preserve his access to power.  At times he appears unconcerned about divine mandate or royal decree while he uses his military might ruthlessly.” [2]

      • What kind of portrait emerges of Joab?
      • Are there ways in which I appear loyal to God or to certain people while being motivated by my personal desire for power?

      2 Samuel 20:16-21

      • What kind of disaster was averted through the wise woman’s intervention?
      • Joab built the siege works and began battering the wall because, as a military leader, that’s what he knew how to do, and that was his basic mode of accomplishing his objectives.  What is my favored or typical modus operandi when faced with a problem or obstacle?

      [1]  Life Application Study Bible, Study Notes (co-published by Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan & Wheaton, IL: Tyndale House, 1991) 529.

      [2] Life Application Study Bible, Study Notes (co-published by Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan & Wheaton, IL: Tyndale House, 1991) 610-611.

     

Prayer

January 30, 2019

2 Samuel 19 – 2019-01-30

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  • Bible Text:  

    2 Samuel 19:16-43 (ESV)

    16 And Shimei the son of Gera, the Benjaminite, from Bahurim, hurried to come down with the men of Judah to meet King David. 17 And with him were a thousand men from Benjamin. And Ziba the servant of the house of Saul, with his fifteen sons and his twenty servants, rushed down to the Jordan before the king, 18 and they crossed the ford to bring over the king’s household and to do his pleasure. And Shimei the son of Gera fell down before the king, as he was about to cross the Jordan, 19 and said to the king, “Let not my lord hold me guilty or remember how your servant did wrong on the day my lord the king left Jerusalem. Do not let the king take it to heart. 20 For your servant knows that I have sinned. Therefore, behold, I have come this day, the first of all the house of Joseph to come down to meet my lord the king.” 21 Abishai the son of Zeruiah answered, “Shall not Shimei be put to death for this, because he cursed the Lord’s anointed?” 22 But David said, “What have I to do with you, you sons of Zeruiah, that you should this day be as an adversary to me? Shall anyone be put to death in Israel this day? For do I not know that I am this day king over Israel?” 23 And the king said to Shimei, “You shall not die.” And the king gave him his oath.

    24 And Mephibosheth the son of Saul came down to meet the king. He had neither taken care of his feet nor trimmed his beard nor washed his clothes, from the day the king departed until the day he came back in safety. 25 And when he came to Jerusalem to meet the king, the king said to him, “Why did you not go with me, Mephibosheth?” 26 He answered, “My lord, O king, my servant deceived me, for your servant said to him, ‘I will saddle a donkey for myself, that I may ride on it and go with the king.’ For your servant is lame. 27 He has slandered your servant to my lord the king. But my lord the king is like the angel of God; do therefore what seems good to you. 28 For all my father’s house were but men doomed to death before my lord the king, but you set your servant among those who eat at your table. What further right have I, then, to cry to the king?” 29 And the king said to him, “Why speak any more of your affairs? I have decided: you and Ziba shall divide the land.” 30 And Mephibosheth said to the king, “Oh, let him take it all, since my lord the king has come safely home.”

    31 Now Barzillai the Gileadite had come down from Rogelim, and he went on with the king to the Jordan, to escort him over the Jordan. 32 Barzillai was a very aged man, eighty years old. He had provided the king with food while he stayed at Mahanaim, for he was a very wealthy man. 33 And the king said to Barzillai, “Come over with me, and I will provide for you with me in Jerusalem.” 34 But Barzillai said to the king, “How many years have I still to live, that I should go up with the king to Jerusalem? 35 I am this day eighty years old. Can I discern what is pleasant and what is not? Can your servant taste what he eats or what he drinks? Can I still listen to the voice of singing men and singing women? Why then should your servant be an added burden to my lord the king? 36 Your servant will go a little way over the Jordan with the king. Why should the king repay me with such a reward? 37 Please let your servant return, that I may die in my own city near the grave of my father and my mother. But here is your servant Chimham. Let him go over with my lord the king, and do for him whatever seems good to you.” 38 And the king answered, “Chimham shall go over with me, and I will do for him whatever seems good to you, and all that you desire of me I will do for you.” 39 Then all the people went over the Jordan, and the king went over. And the king kissed Barzillai and blessed him, and he returned to his own home. 40 The king went on to Gilgal, and Chimham went on with him. All the people of Judah, and also half the people of Israel, brought the king on his way.

    41 Then all the men of Israel came to the king and said to the king, “Why have our brothers the men of Judah stolen you away and brought the king and his household over the Jordan, and all David’s men with him?” 42 All the men of Judah answered the men of Israel, “Because the king is our close relative. Why then are you angry over this matter? Have we eaten at all at the king’s expense? Or has he given us any gift?” 43 And the men of Israel answered the men of Judah, “We have ten shares in the king, and in David also we have more than you. Why then did you despise us? Were we not the first to speak of bringing back our king?” But the words of the men of Judah were fiercer than the words of the men of Israel.

    Reflection & Application:  

    • 2 Samuel 19:16-23
      • Reflect on the source of David’s magnanimity toward Shimei.  How does my identity in Christ give me generosity of spirit toward those who have hurt me?

      2 Samuel 19:16-30

      • The incident of Mephibosheth and Ziba once again shows the need to “hear both sides of the story” in order to be just, and to accurately assess situations involving different parties.  Am I prone to being swayed by the first story I hear?  To what extent am I disciplined in withholding judgment until all sides and the objective facts have been considered?

     

Prayer

January 29, 2019

2 Samuel 19 – 2019-01-29

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  • Bible Text:  
    2 Samuel 19:1-15 (ESV) 

    1 It was told Joab, “Behold, the king is weeping and mourning for Absalom.” 2 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.” 3 And the people stole into the city that day as people steal in who are ashamed when they flee in battle. 4 The king covered his face, and the king cried with a loud voice, “O my son Absalom, O Absalom, my son, my son!” 5 Then Joab came into the house to the king and said, “You have today covered with shame the faces of all your servants, who have this day saved your life and the lives of your sons and your daughters and the lives of your wives and your concubines, 6 because you love those who hate you and hate those who love you. For you have made it clear today that commanders and servants are nothing to you, for today I know that if Absalom were alive and all of us were dead today, then you would be pleased. 7 Now therefore arise, go out and speak kindly to your servants, for I swear by the Lord, if you do not go, not a man will stay with you this night, and this will be worse for you than all the evil that has come upon you from your youth until now.”   8 Then the king arose and took his seat in the gate. And the people were all told, “Behold, the king is sitting in the gate.” And all the people came before the king.

    Now Israel had fled every man to his own home. 9 And all the people were arguing throughout all the tribes of Israel, saying, “The king delivered us from the hand of our enemies and saved us from the hand of the Philistines, and now he has fled out of the land from Absalom. 10 But Absalom, whom we anointed over us, is dead in battle. Now therefore why do you say nothing about bringing the king back?”

    11 And King David sent this message to Zadok and Abiathar the priests: “Say to the elders of Judah, ‘Why should you be the last to bring the king back to his house, when the word of all Israel has come to the king? 12 You are my brothers; you are my bone and my flesh. Why then should you be the last to bring back the king?’ 13 And say to Amasa, ‘Are you not my bone and my flesh? God do so to me and more also, if you are not commander of my army from now on in place of Joab.’” 14 And he swayed the heart of all the men of Judah as one man, so that they sent word to the king, “Return, both you and all your servants.” 15 So the king came back to the Jordan, and Judah came to Gilgal to meet the king and to bring the king over the Jordan.

    Reflection & Application:  

    • 2 Samuel 19:1-4
      •       What makes David’s mourning inappropriate, even if it was understandable?
      •       How others-centered am I when it comes to my emotions or moods?

      2 Samuel 19:5-8

      •       What is amazing about David’s response to Joab?  How could he have responded differently?
      •       Do I have this kind of responsiveness towards truth, regardless of how or when it is delivered?

     

Prayer

January 28, 2019

2 Samuel 18 – 2019-01-28

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  • Bible Text: 

    2 Samuel 18:19-33 (ESV)

    19 Then Ahimaaz the son of Zadok said, “Let me run and carry news to the king that the Lord has delivered him from the hand of his enemies.” 20 And Joab said to him, “You are not to carry news today. You may carry news another day, but today you shall carry no news, because the king’s son is dead.” 21 Then Joab said to the Cushite, “Go, tell the king what you have seen.” The Cushite bowed before Joab, and ran. 22 Then Ahimaaz the son of Zadok said again to Joab, “Come what may, let me also run after the Cushite.” And Joab said, “Why will you run, my son, seeing that you will have no reward for the news?” 23 “Come what may,” he said, “I will run.” So he said to him, “Run.” Then Ahimaaz ran by the way of the plain, and outran the Cushite.

    24 Now David was sitting between the two gates, and the watchman went up to the roof of the gate by the wall, and when he lifted up his eyes and looked, he saw a man running alone. 25 The watchman called out and told the king. And the king said, “If he is alone, there is news in his mouth.” And he drew nearer and nearer. 26 The watchman saw another man running. And the watchman called to the gate and said, “See, another man running alone!” The king said, “He also brings news.” 27 The watchman said, “I think the running of the first is like the running of Ahimaaz the son of Zadok.” And the king said, “He is a good man and comes with good news.”

    28 Then Ahimaaz cried out to the king, “All is well.” And he bowed before the king with his face to the earth and said, “Blessed be the Lord your God, who has delivered up the men who raised their hand against my lord the king.” 29 And the king said, “Is it well with the young man Absalom?” Ahimaaz answered, “When Joab sent the king’s servant, your servant, I saw a great commotion, but I do not know what it was.” 30 And the king said, “Turn aside and stand here.” So he turned aside and stood still.

    31 And behold, the Cushite came, and the Cushite said, “Good news for my lord the king! For the Lord has delivered you this day from the hand of all who rose up against you.” 32 The king said to the Cushite, “Is it well with the young man Absalom?” And the Cushite answered, “May the enemies of my lord the king and all who rise up against you for evil be like that young man.” 33  And 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!”

    Reflection & Application:   

    • 2 Samuel 18:33

      As author Frederick Buechner wrote of the ending scene of this chapter: “[David] meant it, of course.  If he could have done the boy’s dying for him, he would have done it.  If he could have paid the price for the boy’s betrayal of him, he would have paid it.  If he could have given his own life to make the boy alive again, he would have given it.  But even a king can’t do things like that. … it takes God.”[1]

      • Reflect on the depth of David’s love for his son, and the limitation of human love at its best.
      • What sort of dilemma did David’s love for Absalom create for his men?
      • What are some aspects of the cross this story depicts?

      [1]  Frederick Buechner, Peculiar Treasures (New York: HarperOne, 1993) 6.

     

Prayer

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