Samuel, Day 35: God is Faithful Even When We Are Not

2-samuelToday is my last entry in this devotional. It works best to stop here. The last sermon in the series is on Sunday and the last few chapters of 2 Samuel are tough ones to find deep insight. At least for me!

I’d appreciate you taking a minute to write me back and let me know if you found these devotionals helpful, and if so, how. Many people have already. Some suggested I turn this into another book. Your feedback will help me decide if that’s a good idea or not.

Personally, I’ve enjoyed the opportunity to share with you my thoughts on these stories. Thanks for showing interest in hearing what I have to say! I’m sure many people didn’t make it to this last post. Life got busy. So a special thanks to you for hanging in there until the end!

Remy

Read 2 Samuel 23:8-39

Towards the end of the book, the writer lists a number of men that stood with Daniel through thick and thin. What I want you to see here is that few people achieve success on their own. An individual might achieve specific feats of heroism, like killing a giant, but moving a nation requires a team. I’ve experienced this first hand in leading Cedarbrook. Our success has come from the deep commitment of many people.

Let me point out a few notable phrases in the words below.

Eleazar was “with” David. Sometimes that’s all it takes to help someone. Just knowing that there are others supporting you can mean so much. But Eleazar did more than that. He “stood his ground.” He didn’t run when the going got tough. He wasn’t a fair weather friend, but he was someone David could count on. Plus Eleazar was tireless. He fought until his hand froze to his sword. That’s commitment!

There is an odd little story wedged into this section. David longed for water from the gate of Bethlehem. That was his hometown. I’m sure he hated to see it overrun by the Philistines. I don’t know if this was a request. It was probably just a longing that he spoke out loud. But three of his men thought they’d do something special for David and broke through the enemy’s line to get David the water.

David was probably in shock when they turned up with the water. He didn’t ask anyone to get it. My guess is that he was humbled to think that his men were so dedicated to him that they would risk their lives for a drink of water. That’s why he didn’t drink it. It was David’s way of saying, “I would never ask this of any one. To drink the water would be like saying that I’m worthy of their sacrifice, and I’m not.”

Great things can happen when people are dedicated at this level.

It seemed like there was nothing these men weren’t willing to do for David and Israel. I love how it says that Benaiah “went down into a pit on a snowy day and killed a lion.”

The most shocking name in the list is the last one: Uriah the Hittite. Do you remember who he was? The husband of Bathsheba whom David pushed to the front line so he would die to cover David’s sin. Uriah was so noble that he refused to spend a night with his wife when his men were fighting on the front lines. But David was so underhanded that he was willing to sacrifice one of his mighty men.

It’s an interesting and unflattering way to end the list of mighty men. I have to wonder if the writer was making a political comment: that David was not worthy of the men that sacrificed for him.

David wasn’t worthy. No one is.

In closing out our time in the books of Samuel, the message isn’t on how to be a great person of faith like David. The message is that God is faithful to us in spite of our failure. As Paul put it:

If we are faithless, he remains faithful, for he cannot disown himself. 2 Timothy 2:13

If you haven’t lived up to your own expectations in life, take courage. God hasn’t given up on you. He still has plans for you!

Prayer: Father, I am humbled at your faithfulness in the face of my failure. Thank you for that. Might I never take your faithfulness for granted and presume upon it. Might your faithfulness inspire me to do the same. Might I be like David’s mighty men in support of what you are doing through your church. Amen.

Samuel, Day 34: Taking Responsibility

2-samuelRead 2 Samuel 17: 24 – Chapter 19

Grace doesn’t mean that God will solve all your problems. Grace means that God is with you in your problems, forgiving you and empowering you to make better decisions.

David learned this the hard way. Even though God sustained David through his exile from Jerusalem, when he returned he learned of the death of his son, Absalom.

The king was deeply moved and went up to the chamber over the gate and wept. And thus he said as he walked, “O my son Absalom, my son, my son Absalom! Would I had died instead of you, O Absalom, my son, my son!” 2 Samuel 18:1,2

David’s grief was understandable, but he was more than a father. He was a king. His son was dead and he needed to attend to the living.

Joab, his army commander, had to grab his attention and redirect him (once again). It was unfair for David to be absorbed in the death of his son when Absalom was in the wrong and the people risked their lives for David. Joab said:

“Today you have covered with shame the faces of all your servants, who today have saved your life and the lives of your sons and daughters, the lives of your wives, and the lives of your concubines, by loving those who hate you, and by hating those who love you. For you have shown today that [c]princes and servants are nothing to you; for I know this day that if Absalom were alive and all of us were dead today, then [d]you would be pleased. 2 Samuel 19

This was a huge slap in the face and wake up call to David. David couldn’t have it both ways. He couldn’t ignore his son and his people and then expect it to all come out good in the end. No. There are consequences for mismanaging your life; sometimes harsh consequences.

You can shrivel and withdraw from life, full of regret and sorrow. Or you can own your failures and resolve to use your failure to spur you on to be the person God wants you to be.

I hope you can’t relate to David’s severe mistakes and consequences in his story. I hope all the consequences of your mistakes are reversible. But if they aren’t, then I hope you will learn from Joab and take responsibility for your past decisions and resolve to do better, with God’s help.

Prayer: Father, help me to own up to what I’ve done, the sin and mistakes. I don’t want to live my life as a victim, in sorrow and regret. I want to overcome my past, by the power of your Spirit, to become the person you created to be. Amen.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Samuel, Day 33: The Way of Brokenness

2-samuelRead 2 Samuel 15:13- 17:23

In 2 Samuel 15:6 we saw that Absalom, “…stole the hearts of the people of Israel.”

It’s like when an affair happens in marriage…a heart can’t be stolen if it’s been well cared for. Affairs happen when there is already a distance between a couple and a third party takes advantage of that distance.

In the same way, there must have been a distance between David and his people. David was MIA (missing in action) as a king. He wasn’t meeting the needs of the people so it created an opening – a vacuum – for Absalom to fill. He did what every politician does so well: he promised the moon. And the people fell for it.

Like an affair, you can tell that nothing good is going to come from this rebellion because it’s based on a false premise. Absalom wasn’t concerned about the people. He just wanted to hurt his father. And maybe the people wanted to hurt their king.

So David did the unthinkable: he walked away.

Grasp the magnitude of this moment. This is KING DAVID. This is the man that people sang about in the streets. But now he is so defeated. So ashamed. So full of self-doubt, that he walks away.

David is a broken man. He walks into the hills weeping. The people that go with him are weeping too. It’s a dark day.

To add insult to injury, Shimei, a relative of Saul, verbally attacks David. David’s supporters want to kill him. But listen to what David says:

David then said to Abishai and all his officials, “My son, my own flesh and blood, is trying to kill me. How much more, then, this Benjamite! Leave him alone; let him curse, for the LORD has told him to. It may be that the LORD will look upon my misery and restore to me his covenant blessing instead of his curse today.” 2 Samuel 16:11,12

Only broken people say this. David is absent of pride here. He is poor in spirit. He’s saying, “Shimei has every reason to curse me. I believe God is using him in my life right now. I deserve every word of it. Who am I to put him down? I just hope God will remember his covenant love for me.”

David’s mention of “covenant” is significant. I spoke about this when we read about Mephibosheth. David KNEW that God’s love for him was based on his covenant to Abraham. It wasn’t based on how good a king he was. That means God’s love was UNCONDITIONAL. So, even though he totally made a mess of his life and kingdom, and he deserved the verbal assault from Shimei, he held out hope that God would come through for him.

I spoke about what it means to be broken two months ago in our “Dangerous Prayers” series (part two). To be broken doesn’t mean that you have suffered loss. It means that your will is broken. You no longer insist on being in control but yield your life to God. You give up the reigns of your life and submit yourself to God’s control.

Sadly, we often don’t reach this place of submission until we’ve gone through a season of loss, or as what I’ve referred to as an “exile” experience.

My question for you today is this: how submissive are you to God’s will? Do you insist on being in control and demanding your way? Or is your heart soft toward God and willing to go in whatever direction he leads you?

Prayer: Father, thank you for David’s example. He lived for years puffed up with pride because of all of his success in life. But you were faithful to reveal his weaknesses with each failure in his story. I pray that I don’t have to learn to submit to you the hard way. Show me my pride and where I am resisting you. I much rather humble myself than be humbled by you. Amen.

 

 

Samuel, Day 32: Doing Nothing Can Be A Sin Too

2-samuel

Read 2 Samuel 14-15:14

As awful as Amnon’s sin was (the rape of his sister) there is another sin that followed: the passivity of David.

When King David heard all this, he was furious. 2 Samuel 13:21

Yet he did nothing. He said nothing to Amnon.

So Absalom did something. After waiting two years for David to do something, he killed his step-brother. When the report came back to David it says:

The king, too, and all his attendants wept very bitterly. 2 Samuel 13:36

Yet David did nothing. He said nothing to Absalom.

Absalom fled the country to Geshur and stayed there three years in fear for his life.

King David, now reconciled to Amnon’s death, longed to be reunited with his son Absalom. 2 Samuel 13:39

But he did nothing. He said nothing.

Finally, Joab did something. If you notice, throughout the books of Samuel, Joab is the doer. He often does the hard thing that David is unwilling to do. In this case, he manipulated a scenario where a woman confronted David to get him to see the sin of passivity.

The woman said a beautiful thing about the heart of God:

Like water spilled on the ground, which cannot be recovered, so we must die. But that is not what God desires; rather, he devises ways so that a banished person does not remain banished from him. 2 Samuel 14:14

She was saying, “Bad things happen that you can’t undo, like water spilled on the ground. You can’t get it back in the bottle. But that’s not God’s will. He wants to get the water ‘back in the bottle’ so to speak. God’s heart breaks for the banished person and wants to restore them.”

Her words worked. David agreed to let Absalom return. But then it says:

Then Joab went to Geshur and brought Absalom back to Jerusalem. But the king said, “He must go to his own house; he must not see my face.” So Absalom went to his own house and did not see the face of the king.  2 Samuel 14:23,24

David did nothing and said nothing to Absalom. This went on for two years.

Abasalom had had enough. He spent the next four years plotting an overthrow of his father. He gave his father plenty of time to intervene. It was obvious what Absalmom was doing. David should have intervened.

But David did nothing. He said nothing. So Absalom did what he felt he needed to do, revolt.

Isn’t it sad that, David, the one who wasn’t afraid to confront the giant in his youth, was afraid to confront his children? And isn’t it sad what it produced in them? They all would have been in a better place had David been more involved in their lives.

Today I want you to think about those relationships that you’ve been avoiding. What are the conversations that you need to have? What will happen if you keep avoiding them? Is it worth the risk? I hope David’s story moves you out of your complacency and into action.

Prayer: Father, help me to not be passive in my relationships. I don’t want other people to have to make up for my shortcomings like Joab did for David. I don’t want people to resent me for my absence in their life. Help me to find the courage and the wisdom to have the hard conversations I need to have and not permit anyone to feel banished as a result of my passivity. Amen.

Samuel Day 31: Dealing with Disgrace

2-samuelRead 2 Samuel 13

We’ve caught up to the sermons. If you missed Pastor Sten’s message from yesterday regarding David and his family, I hope you’ll give it a listen.

Chapter 13 is one of the most tragic stories in the Bible. Some people are shocked that it’s even in the Bible. But I appreciate that the Bible doesn’t shy away from our dark side. When it talks about rape, we are forced to think about it.

Let me point out just a couple notable moments.

Amnon became so obsessed with his sister Tamar that he made himself ill. 13:1

Sin happens when you become fixated on something or someone. Years ago a pastor of mine preached that, “You think about it, and you think about it, and you think about… and then you do it.” It’s a simple truth.

It’s important to intercept your thought process when you see that pattern develop. The apostle Paul talked about taking your thoughts captive… taking control of them. It’s as if your brain falls in a rut and you can’t stop think about something. So you have to actively change things up to get your mind out of the rut: change your environment, go talk to someone, do something to keep the record from skipping in your mind. What’s your plan for when that happens?

Tamar summarized the impact of sexual sin when she said to Amnon:

Where could I get rid of my disgrace? And what about you? You would be like one of the wicked fools in Israel. 13:13

Rape is often hidden in our culture. It’s not talked about. And when a tamarwoman does come forth, she’s often blamed, not believed. But in the Jewish culture a woman communicated and celebrated her virginity with her clothing.

She was wearing an ornate robe, for this was the kind of garment the virgin daughters of the king wore. Tamar put ashes on her head and tore the ornate robe she was wearing. 2 Samuel 13:18,19

Tamar was too honest to cover up what had happened by continuing to wear the robe. But then she was “damaged goods:” disgraced and untouchable in the eyes of the people.

The disgust that Amnon showed for Tamar was actually for himself. To see her only reminded him of what he had done and that he was a “wicked fool.”

I’m shocked at how many people have been sexually assaulted. If you are one, I hope you will share it with a trusted friend or counselor so you can bring healing and closure to that event/s.We  have a ministry at Cedarbrook called, “Mending the Soul” to help you work through it.

God doesn’t want you to live in disgrace. There is healing for it. God wants to restore you and remove your shame.

If you are a perpetrator, I hope you will seek help as well and not keep it hidden. There is shame on both sides, for different reasons, and it needs to be dealt with. God wants to restore you as well, but you need to own what you’ve done.

All of us should be able to offer people a safe place to reveal their secrets in order to comfort and encourage them.

Today I’ll give you a few prayers to choose from:

Prayer: Father, help me to find the help I need to bring healing to my past. Show me the people that I can trust. Help me find the courage I need to not stay in hiding any longer. Please take away my shame like only you can.

Prayer: Father, help me to be a safe person for hurting people to turn to. Though I haven’t suffered their pain, help me to listen well and show them the acceptance they need.

Prayer: Father, when my brain is in the rut of thinking about sin, alert me to it and help me to take the necessary step to get out of the rut. I don’t want to sin. Don’t let my bad habits keep me trapped in it.

Samuel Day 30: Confronting Sin

2-samuelRead 2 Samuel 11 and 12

Chapter eleven tells the story of David’s sin. Be sure to listen to my message on this chapter if you missed it.

Chapter twelve starts out by saying, “The LORD sent Nathan to David.” You can always count on God exposing your sin. Not because he wants to shame you, but because he loves you and he knows that your sin will rob your joy.

When I was a kid, my dad used to pay me a dollar for every wheelbarrow of firewood that I cut. One time my blade was dull and the work was going slow. I realized that if I carefully placed each log in the wheelbarrow in a strategic way, I could “fill” the wheelbarrow with much less wood. I felt pretty smart.

A few days later my dad told me that he was at a candy store where they charged him full price for a bag of candy but when he got home he found it was only half full. I was disgusted to hear that we only got half the candy…until I realized it was just a story. My dad made his point and I remember it well today.

Regret & Consequences

God told David that his sin showed “utter contempt” (NLT) for God. Another version said he blasphemed God’s name (NASB) before other people. I’m sure David didn’t get out of bed that night with the intent of trashing God’s name. But it can easily happen if you just move with your desires.

Sometimes sin leaves you with regret. But sometimes, like David, it leaves you with consequences, and the consequences can impact those you love more than they do you. That makes it especially hard.

You might ask, “Why did the child have to die?” There are some things in scripture that aren’t explained and I find it useless to speculate. In God’s wisdom, there was a good reason. But be careful…don’t assume that every death or tragedy is orchestrated by God. This is ONE story. In THIS story God took David’s child. It doesn’t mean that every death is God’s way of punishing someone. Sometimes bad things just happen.

Forgiveness Allows You to Move On

I like David’s response. He didn’t wallow in grief. He moved through it and moved on with his life. You see, he really believed that God forgave him, and when you really believe that, you don’t have to keep beating yourself up.

What’s amazing to me in this story is that, even though David’s relationship with Bathsheba was illicit, God still loved their next child. God’s forgiveness allowed God to move on as well. David had a clean slate with God. God didn’t put David under a life long curse for his sin. Solomon was loved by God and became a great king.

There are some important lessons for you here as you reflect on your own sin. As terrible as was David’s sin, he admitted it, repented from it, was forgiven for it, and moved on from it. I hope you can do the same.

Prayer: Father, help me to see my sin and admit it fully. Help me to grasp how my sin shows you contempt and diminishes you in the eyes of others. And help me to receive the fullness of your forgiveness so I can live with gratitude and serve you more fully.

Samuel Day 29: A Love That Won’t Let Go

2-samuelRead 2 Samuel 9 and 10

In chapter nine we see David in one of his better moments. He asked a great question:

Is there anyone still left of the house of Saul to whom I can show kindness for Jonathan’s sake? 2 Samuel 9:1

David remembered his covenant with Jonathan. He promised Jonathan that if Jonathan helped David escape from Saul, David would protect any survivors of Jonathan’s family. I’m not sure why it took David so long to fulfill his promise. It was at least seven years since Jonathan died. But let’s not dwell on that. David still asked a good question. I’m sure he got a little distracted fighting all of his battles!

What David wanted to do was show “kindness.” Kindness seems like a word we use to describe grandmothers. I don’t know if it’s a virtue that men strive to achieve. Yet it ought to be.

Some men seem to almost pride themselves on being rough around the edges and not taking the time to be thoughtful or considerate of other’s needs. They can have a “take it or leave it” attitude. But kindness is an attribute of God and show be something we seek to develop.

The Meaning of Kindness

The word, “kindness,” in Hebrew is actually a powerful word. The literal word is HESED. It means “covenant love:” that is, unfailing, unconditional love. It’s a word used to describe God’s affection for his people.

In the book of Exodus, God “passed by” Moses, revealing himself and saying these words:

Then the LORD passed by in front of him and proclaimed, “The LORD, the LORD God, compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in lovingkindness (HESED) and truth; who keeps lovingkindness for thousands, who forgives iniquity, transgression and sin; Exodus 34:6,7

Here HESED is translated as lovingkindness. It says that God “abounds” in this quality and he offers it to thousands (meaning everyone).

HESED is the love that won’t let you go, no matter what.

This is the love that David had for Jonathan. This is why David felt obligated to search for any remaining relative and show them kindness. It wasn’t just to be a “nice guy.” It was to follow through on his love for Jonathan, because HESED love never forgets. It never ends. It’s from everlasting to everlasting.

So here’s what I want you to think about: Maybe God would have you ask a similar question to the one that David asked: Is there anyone I can show kindness to today for Jesus’ sake? It might be a loved one. It might be a complete stranger.

You don’t love them because they deserve it or because you know them so intimately. You love them because you see they are in need and your kindness as an act of worship. It’s an expression of your covenant love for God and your gratitude for his covenant love for you.

Prayer: Father, I want to thank you for your love that won’t let me go. Help me to show my gratitude in tangible ways by showing kindness to the people you bring me today. Give me eyes to see them and the generosity to love them. Amen.

If you you haven’t listened to Pastor Kyle’s message about Mephibosheth, download it here.

Samuel, Day 28: God Doesn’t Live in a Building

1samuelRead 2 Samuel 7 and 8

Despite the mixture of David’s motives (see Day 27), bringing the ark into Jerusalem seemed to be what ignited his success. Remember that God always deals with people who have mixed motives. None of us are 100% for God, 100% of the time. We wish. God is always working through people in spite of them!

That might sound disheartening at first. When I was younger I would often forecast doom and gloom if a church or a leader wasn’t perfect. But then I came to realize that none of us are perfect and God graciously works through us anyway.

What David did right was to put worship first. He put God at the center of his life and the focal point of the nation. God honored that. The next few chapters show how God greatly expanded David’s kingdom.

God Doesn’t Live in a Building

In chapter seven, David was so grateful that he offered to build God a great temple. This is God’s response:

‘The LORD says, “Are you the one to build me a house to live in? I have not lived in a house from the day I brought the people of Israel up out of Egypt until now. I have been moving from place to place. I have been living in a tent. I have moved from place to place with all of the people of Israel. I commanded their rulers to be shepherds over them. I never asked any of those rulers, ‘Why haven’t you built me a house that has beautiful cedar walls?’ ” ‘  2 Samuel 7:5-7

What is God saying? He’s saying, “Look, I’m a god that moves in and among his people. I don’t sit in a fancy box that people made for me.” Instead, God said that he would build David a “house.” God would raise up one of his children to establish a kingdom that would never end.

David had no idea what God was talking about. We really shouldn’t expect him to. How could he have known? He thought God was talking about his son Solomon so David bought all the material so Solomon would build the temple instead. But God was referring to Jesus. Jesus came from the line of David and established a “house” or kingdom.

“I tell you that I myself will set up a royal house for you. Some day your life will come to an end. You will join the members of your family who have already died. Then I will make one of your own sons the next king after you. And I will make his kingdom secure. He is the one who will build a house where I will put my Name. ” ‘ “I will set up the throne of his kingdom. It will last forever. I will be his father. And he will be my son. 2 Samuel 7:11-14

This is a significant chapter in the Bible because it impacts us today. People always want to fix God in a location…like a church building. We think we are doing God a favor with our fancy buildings and rituals. But God isn’t limited by these things. He’s much bigger than that. We aren’t in control of God, he is in control of everything and we need to move with his agenda.

The “house” that God built was the church…meaning the community of people that follow Jesus. The church isn’t a place but a people. Paul and Peter referred to it when they said we are like a temple built with many different stones. Peter put it like this:

you also, like living stones, are being built into a spiritual house to be a holy priesthood, offering spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ…But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light.1 Peter 2:5,9

We have the privilege of knowing something that David didn’t know. God didn’t want everyone to fill up a building once a week. He wanted to fill up his people everyday so they would corporately be his presence on earth. That’s much more impressive to the world than a building…if we allow God to fill us and change us.

So here’s my question for you today: are you allowing God to fill you and use you as one of his living stones in his spiritual house? Are you working with other believers to show the world God’s amazing presence on earth? Or do you merely go to a building on Sundays and live your faith out on your own?

Prayer: Father, thank you that I get to see what David couldn’t even imagine. You turned religion upside down when you told David you didn’t want or need a temple. You wanted to live in us. So Father, help me to allow you to fill me fully, and might I connect with other living stones so that we can corporately declare your praises in this world.

Samuel, Day 27: Misplaced Passion

1samuelRead 2 Samuel 6

There is more mixture in this chapter, meaning that David shows both good and bad characteristics in his behavior.

It was a great move of David to bring the ark of God to Jerusalem. It represented the presence of God. If you remember, the ark had been stuck in a distant city for a number of years after seventy Israelites were killed after they looked inside of it. But David wanted God’s presence near him and he knew it would be a unifier of the northern and southern kingdoms. That’s the good news.

This is how the ark should have been carried.

This is how the ark should have been carried.

But David failed to remember that God instructed his people to only transport the ark on poles, not a cart. The ark was to never be touched. When the ox stumbled, Uzzah reached out to catch the ark, and bam…God struck him dead. Perrez-Uzzah means the outburst against Uzzah.

Uzzah meant well, but good intentions aren’t all that God is looking for. He’s looking for people that understand and respect his holiness. You were not supposed to touch the ark for any reason. It was like touching God…most disrespectful.

There is always such a tension between God’s holiness and our compassion for people. Our natural reaction is to be mad at God for taking a life. In fact, the text said that David was mad at God. Most of us can relate to that. When we can’t understand God we immediately blame him.

I wonder if anyone was mad at Uzzah for touching the ark, or mad at David for allowing the people to use a cart. He should have known better. Do you see what I mean? Why are we quick to defend people over God? Why aren’t we more jealous for the holiness of God?

This experience shows us the righteous wrath of God. It shows us the way things would always be if it wasn’t for Jesus. God’s holiness can’t allow unrighteousness in its presence. That’s why God sent Jesus. Jesus came to absorb God’s wrath…to take the penalty for sin on our behalf. You see, it’s impossible for God to alter his holiness, but he did provide a way to protect us from the wrath that comes from his holiness. Aren’t you glad for that?

Because of Uzzah’s death, the Israelites parked the ark outside of town in fear of what might happen. But, after three months, David finally decided to finish what he started by bringing the ark to Jerusalem.

When David entered the town, he was worshipping God in a wild david-dancing-before-the-lord-e1436808466749-450x450dance, much to his wife’s disdain.

I can’t tell from the text who was at fault between David and his wife. The traditional teaching is that David was in the right. He was worshipping God and his wife was more concerned with him showing some flesh than worshipping God. The implication was that God cursed Michal for her attitude and that’s why she couldn’t have any children.

If this is true, the lesson is that we should worship with reckless abandon and not let others intimidate us.

But I have to wonder if David couldn’t have been more discreet and more honoring of his wife. There had to have been a way to passionately worship without attracting so much attention to himself. In verse 22 he showed no humility but only contempt for his wife. It’s no wonder she bore no more children. The rift between the two of them kept them apart.

Personally, I think David used his passion for God as an excuse for disrespecting his wife. I’ve seen this in the church many times through the years. This is another example of how David was a mixture of love for both God and himself.

In both situations with the ark, David’s love for God should not have been an excuse for his behavior. I hope you’ll reflect on your own life. I trust you love God. But could it be that you sometimes use your spirituality to excuse your behavior?

Prayer: Father, it’s humbling to see a spiritual man like David take missteps. It’s humbling because it tells me I can do the same. Please show me the ways I might use my love for you as an excuse for misbehavior. Purify my thinking so I might honor you in all that I think, do, and say. Amen.

Samuel, Day 26: Cracks in the Foundation

1samuelRead 2 Samuel chapters 4 and 5

Chapter 4 is quite gruesome and gives you a sense of how Saul’s dynasty was slowly crumbling while people from Saul’s camp defected to David. The memo must not have reached everyone that David didn’t honor traitors.

Chapter 5 has a couple points I’d like you to ponder today.

David was thirty years old when he became king, and he reigned forty years. In Hebron he reigned over Judah seven years and six months, and in Jerusalem he reigned over all Israel and Judah thirty-three years. 2 Samuel 5:4,5

Let’s do some math here. If David was ten years old when he was anointed king by Samuel, that means he was on the run from Saul for twenty years before he actually became king over Judah (the southern kingdom). It was 27 years before he became king over the united kingdom of Israel.

That means David was in training for a full 27 years before achieving his calling of king over Israel. Think about that for a minute. Think about that in light of anything you hope to achieve in life. If what you desire has any depth to it at all, it will take time. You need to develop into the person that is required for your desire.

The word patience literally means, “long suffering.” This is a concept that is almost totally lost in our world today. We are like two-year-olds: we want it, and we want it now. We don’t appreciate the hard work required to achieve great things.

If you long for something great: a career, to be married, to have a good marriage, to make an impact with a gift or talent, to be a leader, etc. it will take time. Fight against the idea of being an instant success and submit yourself to the work God wants to do in you to bring it about.

Now, a few verses later I want you to see the cracks that started to develop in David’s character.

And he became more and more powerful, because the LORD God Almighty was with him. Now Hiram king of Tyre sent envoys to David, along with cedar logs and carpenters and stonemasons, and they built a palace for David. Then David knew that the LORD had established him as king over Israel and had exalted his kingdom for the sake of his people Israel. After he left Hebron, David took more concubines and wives in Jerusalem, and more sons and daughters were born to him. 2 Samuel 5:10-13

Reread this text, first reading what I put in italics, then the rest. Do you see the contrast? God raised David up for the sake of the people. But David used his position to acquire a palace, concubines, and wives.

I’m sure David didn’t even notice what was happening. His heart was still after God. He was just doing what all the other kings did. It was standard practice. But he didn’t realize that these cracks in his character would lead to tragedy.

Christian culture today accepts many things that was never tolerated in the early church. So, it’s easy to have a heart for God while allowing yourself to disobey God.

We would all be wise to honestly compare God’s word to our lives and make the necessary corrections. Just because “everyone is doing it” doesn’t mean God approves of it or is pleased. Remember what we’ve learned before: God honors those who honor him.

Prayer: Father, thank you for giving me the story of David to both inspire me and warn me. I’m inspired to learn that David suffered long to become king. Help me be willing to do the same to achieve my sense of calling. I also feel warned by David taking advantage of his position. Help me to see where I might be doing the same thing so I can change my behavior so that I might live a life that honors you in ALL things. Amen.