Reflections From 2 SAMUEL 20-23: “BEHOLDING THE TWILIGHT OF KING DAVID’S LIFE”

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            Even in the twilight of his years, King David had to deal with people revolting against his rule while God demonstrated to him his kindness.  Getting old is not for the faint of heart, it takes courage.  Especially moving is the long psalm David writes at the end of his life where battle wearied in the field of life, he still praises God— Israel’s true king of who is ever merciful.

Chapter 23 is also deeply stirring because it names David’s mighty men.  These too have a special place in God’s heart for without them David would not have ruled well.  These men were faithful to the King through the good times and the bad.  Their mention is an enormous honor.

As a man I wonder if I would have been mentioned (I’m a civilian, not a soldier,).  All of us (I think) have an innate desire to be recognized by our peers for our accomplishments, but what about a life lived that’s recognized by God?  That’s special.  May the LORD help us all—leaders and followers—live a life that’s honorable as we live it before his sight.

(SDG)

Reflections From 2 SAMUEL 14-19: “THE SAD DRAMA OF DAVID’S LIFE CONTINUES TO UNFOLD”

6699668_origIn these chapters we continue to behold the demise of King David’s family through the shameful conspiracy of his son Absalom to overthrow King David from the throne of Israel, the continued defaming of his father’s concubine before all Israel, the end of Absalom’s life, and the king’s tenderized heart in the midst of all these events.  King David was a broken man.

Nevertheless, through it all David demonstrates his resolute trust in the sovereignty of the LORD God Almighty, whether it favors his rule or threatens it.  His brokenness does not prevent him from understanding God’s rule over his own times.  Reading these passages remains heart wrenching for me seeing both the greatness and wretchedness of God’s servants.  Oh God, move in my life!

(SDG)

Reflections From 2 SAMUEL 10-13: “KING DAVID’S SIN HAS FAR REACHING CONSEQUENCES”

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As I read these chapters, my heart was grieved by the events which transpired.  The account of Bathsheba, Uriah’s death and Absalom’s vengeance on his brother are deeply grievous but not new.  Throughout recorded history narratives of adultery, betrayal and familial murder adhere.  In Genesis, Cain’s twistedness records him murdering his brother Abel.  Life is messy, and David’s family makes up part of that human mosaic.  I want to make two main observations.

First, as I consider what King David schemed, my soul recoils because that could have been me.  Most of us don’t know what it’s like to have a monarch’s power such that any whim we lust after can be quickly attained.  The king here abuses his power by committing adultery but can’t hide the fact that Bathsheba, Uriah’s wife is pregnant, so eventually he betrays Uriah by having him murdered.

The man after God’s own heart, like Saul, lapsed into his own heart’s sinful passions and death resulted.  David’s heart became cold and calloused toward his LORD—Israel’s Shepherd—such that even King Saul could not rival his betrayal.  Here, the seeds of death were sown which launched the demise of David’s kingdom and family.  Almost always, the little things are the big things.

In Davids’ case, the little things lead to the bigger things.  David starts by neglecting his duties as king (e.g., he was supposed to be leading Israel’s army in battle), and replaces them with leisurely pleasure (e.g., he saw Bathsheba’s beautiful body as she bathed), followed up by a power play (e.g., he had Bathsheba brought to him), then consummates his erotic lust (e.g., he commits adultery), attempts to cover up his adultery (e.g., he betrays faithful Uriah through murder) and lastly must be confronted by Nathan the prophet to unveil David’s sin: “you’re the man”.  (Chapters 11-12)  After this episode, neither the kingdom nor Davids’ family was ever the same.

Second,  the unraveling of the kings’ family is sadly depicted in David’s passivity when Tamar is raped.  I mentioned that families are messy and in this case Tamar, Davids’ daughter is raped by her brother Amnon.  But upon hearing this news David takes no action (13:2).  Many commentators hold that David’s own sin (greater than his sons) paralyzed him from doing justice.  The text does not say, but knowing human nature, it’s quite probable.  Nevertheless Absalom takes matters into his own hands and murders his brother Amnon.  Like his father David, now Absalom had blood on his hands.

So there are two sons; one brother rapes his sister, the other brother murders his brother and their father (even though God had forgiven David for his previous sins) can’t act righteously.  The shame, betrayal, rage and passivity here are difficult to bear.  Yet, they serve as a sober reminder of the far reaching significance and effects of our choices.

While David was forgiven for his adultery and murder, nevertheless, he seemed to struggle with guilt which resulted in a tarnished ability to rule well in his kingdom and also in his family.  Forgiveness of sin does not negate the possibility of reaping what we have sown.  Clearly Davids’ life attests to this fact.  What believers must never forget however is that even our sin God will use for our good (Rom.8:28-29).

The effects of David’s past sins seem to have kept him from properly ruling in the present which resulted in a home life that was out of control and did not epitomize what a covenant family should mirror—God’s glory.  Like David’s sin, our sin has far reaching consequences that unless properly dealt with, may ruin our families and homes.

LORD, stay my passions by your Spirit today, and when I stumble and fall, rescue me from a soul that’s been sin torn, as I latch on to the altar’s horn, for your names sake this my plea, keep my heart close to You.  (SDG)

Reflections From 2 SAMUEL 5-8: “KING DAVID’S GREATNESS IS ULTIMATELY ATTRIBUTED TO GOD”

 

6699668_orig            In these chapters what stands out to me is why David was great and increased in his greatness: “for the LORD God of hosts was with him” (5:10; 7:8-17, 18-29).  The chief player in the history of Israel is never the people, but God who is over all.  They, like we, forget that.

I look back at my life and can recall, with embarrassment, the times I quietly longed to be exalted among God’s people in order to lead them through the teaching of God’s word.  But God’s plans are not mine.  A look at David’s life is a reminder that God’s providence in all of life is for the most part hidden from his people.  God’s purposes for our lives are always His, never ours because He’s the creator and we are His creatures.

When it comes to plans I have and the direction I sense I’m getting from the LORD don’t actually pan out, it’s important to remember that as God lead David so He in a certain sense leads me.  Often the direction is hazy but nevertheless I should not forget that God’s presence is ever with me to bring honor to His name through those works prepared beforehand that I should walk in (Eph. 2:10).  (SDG)

 

Reflections From 2 SAMUEL 1-4: “MUCH BLOODSHED PRECEDED DAVID’S KINGSHIP”

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The saga of turmoil, deceit, betrayal and murder continues in 2 Samuel.  King Saul, David’s number one enemy, is now dead but David’s troubles remain.  In chapter one the messenger who (supposedly) killed Saul thought he was bringing David good news (1:1-16) but unwittingly delivered his own death sentence:

10 So I stood beside him and killed him, because I knew that he could not live after he had fallen. And I took the crown which was on his head and the bracelet which was on his arm, and I have brought them here to my lord…14 Then David said to him, “How is it you were not afraid to stretch out your hand to destroy the Lord’s anointed?” 15 And David called one of the young men and said, “Go, cut him down.” So he struck him and he died. 16 David said to him, “Your blood is on your head, for your mouth has testified against you, saying, ‘I have killed the Lord’s anointed.’” (1:10, 14-16)

David’s understanding of not touching the LORD’s anointed king is once again seen as he avenges Saul’s (supposed) killer.  According to 1 Samuel 31:3-5, the Philistine archers had severely wounded Saul and rather than being made sport of by the enemy, Saul chose suicide by falling on his own sword.  Even Saul’s armor bearer chose suicide over killing the king because he feared the LORD’s anointed.  Somehow these men understood that God had exalted Saul to be Israel’s monarch and refused to be the instrument of his death.

People have used this text and ones like it to insulate popular televangelist’s from public criticism regarding their teaching, but that is a misunderstanding and resulting misapplication of this text (See Acts 17:11 the Bereans).  What I think we are to minimally understand is that those ruling are God’s vice-regents (however evil they may be) and to take personal vengeance on them is not our place but God’s.  David modeled this.  There are many issues here I’m not prepared to consider, so I’ll leave it you the reader to further investigate.  But David’s response is moving:

“Then David chanted with this lament over Saul and Jonathan his son, 18 and he told them to teach the sons of Judah the song of the bow; behold, it is written in the book of Jashar

This is called the “Song of the Bow” and the refrain, “How the mighty have fallen” is used three times for emphasis (1:19, 25, 27) and unveils to us that for David the Monarchy was highly precious to God and to him.  It’s amazing that David would weep over the man that persecuted him and longed for his death, but he did.  Why?  I think he understood but for the grace of God, the roles could have been reversed and he would have been the madman.  The reason I say this is because the man after God’s own heart understood divine mercy, through God’s mercy.

In chapters two and three David is crowned Judah’s king and Saul’s son Ish-bosheth becomes Israel’s monarch.  Sadly a bloody civil war ensues between the house of Saul and David, Abner the son of Ner is killed by Joab for spying on David, and David chants a lament for him.  Even though Saul is dead, his descendants remain David’s enemies and yet he weeps over their deaths.  Why?  Perhaps it’s because this warrior king understood how horrible death is—even of his own enemies, perhaps because he was heart broken over Saul’s rejection of him.

The bloodshed continues in chapter four where Saul’s son (Ish-bosheth) is murdered and David avenges his life:

David answered Rechab and Baanah his brother, sons of Rimmon the Beerothite, and said to them, “As the Lord lives, who has redeemed my life from all distress, 10 when one told me, saying, ‘Behold, Saul is dead,’ and thought he was bringing good news, I seized him and killed him in Ziklag, which was the reward I gave him for his news. 11 How much more, when wicked men have killed a righteous man in his own house on his bed, shall I not now require his blood from your hand and destroy you from the earth?”12 Then David commanded the young men, and they killed them and cut off their hands and feet and hung them up beside the pool in Hebron. But they took the head of Ish-bosheth and buried it in the grave of Abner in Hebron.”  

It’s a bloody and distressful history that preceded David’s monarchy.  Yet, he was eventually crowned Israel and Judah’s king.  Yet David’s troubles would continue.  His life reminds me that to live is to suffer regardless of any status.  Decisions to live for God or rebel against His will confront us daily, and while our enemies too often seem “only” bad, God often uses them to teach us to rely on Him, who is King over all.

(SDG)