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Well.. this is a tough couple of chapters to read today! On one hand we see David showing much grace to Absalom and meanwhile Absalom is plotting to rebel against his father and then does so! At first glance it makes me wonder what on earth was David thinking? Why did he bring Absalom back to Jerusalem? But, I believe David was doing the right thing. Absalom was his son. David was trying to restore that relationship. I think about this with people in my life who have maybe "stung" me in some way. On the one hand I want to write them off - believing that they will sting me again. And maybe they will... but, I don't think writing people off is healthy ultimately for me and I don't think it is the right thing to do. I think showing grace, forgiveness and compassion is the right thing to do. I think David did this - and then he wisely got out of town when he realized Absalom was up to no good! So, he didn't completely let Absalom walk all over him. He still used wisdom. I don't know... this is a tough couple of chapters. What do you think? Did David do the right thing by bringing Absalom back to Jerusalem? Do you see any parallels in your life where someone has stung you - and then perhaps stung you again? Was it still maybe the right thing to do to show them grace and forgiveness? And maybe even to do so again? Below is twentieth century Russian painter Marc Chagall's "David and Absalom" from today's readings in 2 Samuel 14:33 - "So Joab came to the king, and told him; and when he called for Absalom, he came to the king, and bowed himself on his face to the ground before the king: and the king kissed Absalom."
Bible.org's commentary on today's Second Samuel readings titled "Absalom" is at this link.
Worship Video: Today’s readings reminds me of the song "Thy Word is a Lamp," sung here by Michael W. Smith & Amy Grant:
Second Samuel chapter 13 is a sad chapter to read in so many ways! Amnon is David's first born son, so he is heir to the throne at this point. Absalom is David's third born son - but at this point he may have been second in line to the throne because David's 2nd born son, Kileab, was only mentioned once and may have died young. You'll note that there are unfortunately are some parallels in David's sin with Bathsheba and Uriah with his 2 sons' behavior in this chapter. David sinned sexually with Bathsheba - Amnon sinned sexually against Tamar in a horrible way. David sinned by ordering the murder of Uriah. Absalom sinned by ordering the murder of Amnon. Unfortunately we see a pattern of "like father, like sons..." in this chapter. I don't think this always has to be the case in our human condition - I do believe we can be redeemed and transformed and not act in sinful ways like our parents may have acted. But, I also do believe we need Jesus to save us from ourselves - in this regard of breaking the cycle/pattern of sin and in all regards. Below is an illustration by Gerard Hoet from the year 1728 titled "Absalom's Servants kill his brother Amnon at a Feast":
Bible.org's commentary on our Second Samuel readings today titled "Tragedy in the Royal Family" is at this link.
YouTube: Our readings today reminded me of the Sanctus Real song "Pray:"
We read a great parable from the prophet Nathan today to start the chapter! Wow. Convicting stuff for David... You'll note that David said in response to this parable in verse 6: "He must pay for that lamb four times over, because he did such a thing and had no pity." Well, sure enough, David paid for the death of Uriah 4 times over through the future deaths of 4 of David's sons: the unnamed son who dies in this chapter, Amon dies in chapter 13, Absalom in chapter 18, and Adonijah in First Kings 2:25. I read a commentary that said God forgave David of his sin, but God did not negate all the consequences of David's sin. Below is a portrait by Guy Rowe of David being confronted by Nathan. You can imagine Nathan saying verse 9 in this image: "Why did you despise the word of the LORD by doing what is evil in his eyes? You struck down Uriah the Hittite with the sword and took his wife to be your own. You killed him with the sword of the Ammonites."
Bible.org's commentary on our Second Samuel readings today titled "David and God (Nathan)" is at this link and "Real Repentance" is at this link and "The Death of David's Son" is at this link.
Worship Video: Today's readings reminded me of the classic hymn "Be Thou My Vision" sung here Celtic style:
Interesting set of readings today in Second Samuel. We start off with David showing kindness to Saul's crippled grandson Mephibosheth and we end with David committing adultery, ordering the murder of one of his warriors, and making God very unhappy. What happened to change the course of events like this?? I think this is something that each one of us should take heed of - even when things are going very well in our walk with God, things can suddenly go the wrong direction if we are not vigilant in fleeing from sin and temptation. David was obviously tempted when he saw Bathsheba from his rooftop. He should have left that temptation there, and fled from it immediately - but instead he gave into it. He asked about Bathsheba (entertaining temptation...) and invited her over and then committed adultery. Then... things got worse. That's how sin goes. Once we let it start to run our life it can quickly start to ruin our life. David thought he could trick Uriah into thinking Uriah got his wife pregnant - but Uriah in chapter 11 was behaving much more honorably than the king! He would not sleep with his own wife when he knew other warriors were sleeping on the battlefields. Uriah acted honorably. David did not. David allowed sin to run the show. Below is a powerful painting by James Tissot showing the moment on the rooftop where David allowed temptation to take over...
Again - back to our lives - have you ever seen a pattern of sin running the show in your life? I know I have in the past. It's a dangerous pattern to see taking place in our lives. It can lead to all kinds of pain and suffering for ourselves and those around us. If you are perhaps even in the midst of sin running the show in your life now, there is hope. There is confession and repentance. David does give us this example in Psalm 51. Psalm 51 David wrote after the events in chapter 11 took place with Bathsheba & Uriah. Psalm 51 is a powerful Psalm of confession and repentance. You may be at the point where you need to pray this Psalm to God now. I think each of us does well when we pray this Psalm to God regularly. We certainly may not be at the point where David was in chapter 11 - but, we likely have sin to confess to God - even right now. Click here if you'd like to pray Psalm 51 now.
Bible.org's commentary on today's Second Samuel readings titled "David and Bathsheba" is at this link and "David and Uriah" is at this link.
Worship Video: Today’s readings reminded me of the song "Agnus Dei" sung here by Michael W. Smith:
Second Samuel 7 today is a big chapter! God essentially establishes a covenant/promise with David. Verse 16 is a nice sum-up of God's promise to David: "Your dynasty and your kingdom will continue for all time before me, and your throne will be secure forever.'" The throne is secure forever because from the lineage of David comes Jesus. Jesus is forever. Genealogies in Matthew 1 and Luke 3:21-38 will give you more details on this lineage.
It is interesting that God does not want David to build him a temple, but lets David know one of his descendents will in verses 12 & 13: "For when you die, I will raise up one of your descendants, and I will make his kingdom strong. He is the one who will build a house--a temple--for my name." We will later learn the reasons for this in 1 Chronicles 28 verse 3 when David says - "But God said to me, 'You are not to build a house for my Name, because you are a warrior and have shed blood.'" David was a warrior - as is very evident in Second Samuel 8 today. David's purpose was to unite and establish Israel. David's son Solomon will build the temple for God. Also, a commenter on this blog in the past made this strong point: "The building of a temple for God is not referring to Solomon but still to Jesus Christ. The true temple of God is the Church of Jesus Christ. While the Israelites have tried to build God a temple it has each time been destroyed. Only the Church of Jesus Christ is able to stand for all time. While it is true later Solomon does build a temple I believe this passage is still referring to Jesus and the church he builds."
I love David's prayer of thanksgiving to God in 2 Samuel 7 verses 18-29 today! How often do you pray prayers of thanksgiving like this? After the prayer of thanksgiving, an image is below for Second Samuel chapter 8 verses 9 through 11 today: "When King Toi of Hamath heard that David had destroyed the army of Hadadezer, e sent his son Joram to congratulate David on his success. Hadadezer and Toi had long been enemies, and there had been many wars between them. Joram presented David with many gifts of silver, gold, and bronze. King David dedicated all these gifts to the LORD, along with the silver and gold he had set apart from the other nations he had subdued."
Bible.org's commentary on today's Second Samuel readings today titled "Building God's House" is at this link.
Worship Video: Today's readings in Second Samuel 7 reminded me of Delirious' song "What a Friend I've Found (Jesus, Friend Forever):"
Second Samuel chapter 4 verse 11 stood out as David said this to the 2 murderers of Ishbosheth: "Now what reward should I give the wicked men who have killed an innocent man in his own house and on his own bed? Should I not also demand your very lives?" Similar to the Amalekite who claimed to have killed Saul and reported this news to David, David was not happy with the news. This all reminds me of the old adage that you cannot fight evil with evil - you'll get corrupted in the process. These 2 guys murdered an innocent man, thinking they were doing a greater good for David. David disagreed. Are there times in our lives where we do something wrong / bad / lie / evil for what we think might be a greater good? Aren't we then corrupted in the process? Do we go from left to right in this photo below? :) (sorry, couldn't resist this silly image! On the website where I found this image, they labeled this photo, "The Dog I bought versus the Dog I got"... :)
In Second Samuel chapter 5 David is anointed King of Israel! Israel and Judah are now united - but they will be divided again only a short 75 years later. Verse 7 is the first time the term Zion is used in the Bible: "But David captured the fortress of Zion, now called the City of David." Below is a visual of Jerusalem at about this time that David conquered it from the Jebusites - and to the right the map shows the growth of Jerusalem just 50 years later in Solomon's time. (1000 B.C. to 950 B.C.) We'll come back to this visual when we get to Solomon in our readings.
In Second Samuel chapter 6 when the Ark is brought back to Jerusalem verse 14 is phenomenal to imagine: "And David danced before the LORD with all his might, wearing a priestly tunic." And David's words in verse 21 are something for you and I to consider in our lives today - "So I am willing to act like a fool in order to show my joy in the LORD." Are you willing to act like a fool to show your joy in God? Have you ever danced before God with all your might? Think you ever could?
Bible.org's commentary on our Second Samuel readings today titled "A Place of One's Own" is at this link and "When God Rained on David's Parade" is at this link.
Worship Video: Today's readings remind me of the terrific Phil Wickham song "Battle Belongs:"
Today's Second Samuel readings are quite dramatic! We start off with the beginnings of what I think you could call a civil war between Judah and Israel in chapter 2 verses 15 through 17: "So twelve men were chosen to fight from each side—twelve men of Benjamin representing Ishbosheth son of Saul, and twelve representing David. Each one grabbed his opponent by the hair and thrust his sword into the other’s side so that all of them died. So this place at Gibeon has been known ever since as the Field of Swords. A fierce battle followed that day, and Abner and the men of Israel were defeated by the forces of David."
In chapter 3, it is interesting to see how David got so mad at Joab for killing Abner. Understandable for many reasons - murder being the main one - but also Abner was working to bring David's kingship to all of Israel. Joab's murder of Abner threatened the civil war between Judah and the rest of Israel to start up again. To the right below is a wonderful image from an illuminated Bible from the year 1250 of David dining with Abner before the murder. In the smaller left hand frames you can see David sending Abner back to Israel, and then in the lowest left hand frame you can see Abner stabbing Joab.
And below is an image of David mourning at Abner's graveside as we read in 2 Samuel 3 verse 32 today: "They buried Abner in Hebron, and the king and all the people wept at his graveside."
Bible.org's commentary on our Second Samuel readings today titled "Two Bald Men, Fighting over a Comb" is at this link.
Worship Video: Today's readings remind me of the Chris Tomlin song "I will Rise:"
Today we begin the book of Second Samuel! Below is an image of David being anointed king of Judah from chapter 2 verse 4 in today's readings:
Second Samuel Author: Unknown Date: Probably tenth century B.C. Content: Second Samuel covers approximately forty years, which is the bulk of David’s reign as king. It begins with David’s being proclaimed king and consolidating his position against others who claimed the throne. David moved the capital to Jerusalem, brought the sacred Ark of the Covenant there, and ultimately defeated the Philistines for all time. David’s troubled career is described in some detail, including his family problems (his son Absalom) and his personal problems (adultery with Bathsheba). A summary of David’s later years concludes the book. Theme: The life of David is given as an example of good and of evil. The sins of David are exposed – so that too much trust will not be put in men. The victories of David are recorded – so that it may be seen what God can do with someone who wholly trusts in him. God used David in spite of his faults because he found in David a willingness to repent and start again, no matter how far he had fallen. (Above commentary is from Tyndale Publishers “The One Year Bible Companion” pp. 5-6) More commentary on Second Samuel is at this link: https://bible.org/seriespage/introduction-2-samuel
A note on the Amalekite that comes to David with news of Saul's death in Second Samuel chapter 1 today. Many Bible commentaries suggest that this Amalekite was a war "scavenger" that was looking for treasures on the battle field from the dead. Based on 1 Samuel chapter 31, it is thought that this Amalekite found Saul dead, grabbed Saul's crown before the Philistines arrived, and made up the story of killing Saul to David because he thought David would reward him for killing who he thought was David's "enemy." David's reaction was quite the opposite than what the Amalekite thought it would be... Bible.org's commentary on our Second Samuel readings today titled "What an Amalekite is Dying to Tell David" is at this link. Below is an image of David tearing his garments and lamenting the death of Saul:
Today in 2 Samuel chapter 1 we read about David’s lament for Saul & Jonathan. This year in going through the One Year Bible, I have really been intrigued by Jonathan and David’s relationship. They became incredible “brothers” it seems – much like we now have “brothers” and “sisters” in Christ today. And there seems to have been an amazing love between Jonathan and David – not sexual in any way, but a pure brotherly love. In verse 26 we will read – “I grieve for you Jonathan my brother; you were very dear to me. Your love for me was wonderful.” Personally, I have been thinking about this word “love” quite a bit in recent months. I don’t know if this is going to sound strange – I hope it’s a good sign :) - but I find myself using the word “love” more and more often when referring to and thinking of others in my life. I have found myself saying recently, for example, “there are so many people in my church that I love and I believe love me.” I guess I’m getting to this stage in my life that may seem at first glance sentimental – but I think it is something more. I believe God is love. And yes, God is judge and many other things. But I do believe that love is a very godly thing. And I guess I’m getting to the point in life where I realize that I truly do love so many people in my life – with a brotherly or sisterly love – and maybe perhaps a few love me too. I pray this is the case in some way in your life? Are there people in your life that you love with a brotherly or sisterly love? Are there people in your life that were like Jonathan was to David? Are there people in your life where you are like Jonathan was to David? How familiar are you with love as expressed in 1 Corinthians 13? Did Jonathan have this type of love? Do you? Below is a portrait of David & Jonathan by artist Guy Rowe:
Worship Video: Today's readings in remind me of the song "In Christ Alone." Here's a great live version sung by Kristian Stanfill:
We finish the book of First Samuel today! Second Samuel is up tomorrow! First Samuel chapter 29 verse 8 read a bit strange to me: ""What have I done to deserve this treatment?" David demanded. "Why can't I fight the enemies of my lord, the king?"" It seemed odd, at first read, that David would say this to King Achish of the Philistines. Commentaries suggest that David may have purposefully made an ambiguous statement here, such that Achish (and maybe us) would think he was referring to Achish - when perhaps he was referring to God or Saul as David's "lord, the king." With David's madman acting and wisdom, this ambiguous type statement with another meaning would not be surprising...
In First Samuel 31 today we read about the death of Saul. At the very end Saul did what he always did - took things into his own hands. Relied on himself. Fell on his own sword. Perhaps sometimes in our lives today we are not so different from Saul. Maybe we try to take things into our own hands. Rely on ourselves. But hopefully never fall on our own swords... We should instead be leaving things in God's hands and relying fully on God.
Bible.org's commentary on today's First Samuel readings titled "From “Playing Both Ends Against the Middle” to “Caught Between a Rock and a Hard Place”" is at this link and "From Tragedy to Triumph" is at this link and "Saul's Death Wish" is at this link.
Worship Video: Today's readings remind me of the Passion/Christy Nockels song "Let it be Jesus:"
In First Samuel 26 David completes the 3 "tests" of obedience, as discussed in yesterday's post, by once again not killing Saul when he had the opportunity. Verses 9 through 11 again show David's character when he and Abishai had snuck into Saul's camp and Abishai offered to kill Saul - ""No!" David said. "Don't kill him. For who can remain innocent after attacking the LORD's anointed one? Surely the LORD will strike Saul down someday, or he will die in battle or of old age. But the LORD forbid that I should kill the one he has anointed! But I'll tell you what--we'll take his spear and his jug of water and then get out of here!""
Interesting... in First Samuel 28 Saul bans mediums - wise - and then becomes desperate for one - unwise... The medium seems to get quite freaked out that she has called up Samuel. Commentaries suggest that she is used to calling up satanic / demonic forces. She (possibly) connected to Samuel somehow here and was freaked out by it. And Samuel tells Saul exactly what he probably knows in his heart. God has left him - a long time ago - because of his disobedience. Consulting a medium is just one more disobedient act in a string of them. I pray that no one reading this consults mediums or does tarot cards or gets into palm readings or any of that garbage. It is spiritually dangerous and risky to get into any of that. Unfortunately, I know that things like "tarot card reading parties" are somewhat popular today. I have been invited to them and have not gone - and told the hosts why I was not attending. Please avoid this spiritually risky stuff. It is no joke dangerous. Below is a painting by Benjamin West from the year 1777 titled "Saul and the Witch of Endor":
Bible.org's commentary on today's First Samuel readings titled "The Second Time Around" is at this link. Commentary titled "One Step Forward, and Two Backward" is at this link and commentary titled "Finding God's Will, Any "Witch" Way You Can" is at this link.
Worship Video: Today’s readings remind me of Michael W. Smith's "A New Hallelujah!"