Tuesday, June 9, 2015

For My Sake, Deal Gently

2 Samuel 18.1-18

Absalom’s Defeat and Death
18 David now mustered the men who were with him and appointed generals and captains[a] to lead them. 2 He sent the troops out in three groups, placing one group under Joab, one under Joab’s brother Abishai son of Zeruiah, and one under Ittai, the man from Gath. The king told his troops, “I am going out with you.”

3 But his men objected strongly. “You must not go,” they urged. “If we have to turn and run—and even if half of us die—it will make no difference to Absalom’s troops; they will be looking only for you. You are worth 10,000 of us,[b] and it is better that you stay here in the town and send help if we need it.”

4 “If you think that’s the best plan, I’ll do it,” the king answered. So he stood alongside the gate of the town as all the troops marched out in groups of hundreds and of thousands.

5 And the king gave this command to Joab, Abishai, and Ittai: “For my sake, deal gently with young Absalom.” And all the troops heard the king give this order to his commanders.

6 So the battle began in the forest of Ephraim, 7 and the Israelite troops were beaten back by David’s men. There was a great slaughter that day, and 20,000 men laid down their lives. 8 The battle raged all across the countryside, and more men died because of the forest than were killed by the sword.

9 During the battle, Absalom happened to come upon some of David’s men. He tried to escape on his mule, but as he rode beneath the thick branches of a great tree, his hair[c] got caught in the tree. His mule kept going and left him dangling in the air. 10 One of David’s men saw what had happened and told Joab, “I saw Absalom dangling from a great tree.”

11 “What?” Joab demanded. “You saw him there and didn’t kill him? I would have rewarded you with ten pieces of silver[d] and a hero’s belt!”

12 “I would not kill the king’s son for even a thousand pieces of silver,[e]” the man replied to Joab. “We all heard the king say to you and Abishai and Ittai, ‘For my sake, please spare young Absalom.’ 13 And if I had betrayed the king by killing his son—and the king would certainly find out who did it—you yourself would be the first to abandon me.”

14 “Enough of this nonsense,” Joab said. Then he took three daggers and plunged them into Absalom’s heart as he dangled, still alive, in the great tree. 15 Ten of Joab’s young armor bearers then surrounded Absalom and killed him.

16 Then Joab blew the ram’s horn, and his men returned from chasing the army of Israel. 17 They threw Absalom’s body into a deep pit in the forest and piled a great heap of stones over it. And all Israel fled to their homes.

18 During his lifetime, Absalom had built a monument to himself in the King’s Valley, for he said, “I have no son to carry on my name.” He named the monument after himself, and it is known as Absalom’s Monument to this day.


18:1 Hebrew appointed commanders of thousands and commanders of hundreds.
18:3 As in two Hebrew manuscripts and some Greek and Latin manuscripts; most Hebrew manuscripts read Now there are 10,000 like us.
18:9 Hebrew his head.
18:11 Hebrew 10 [shekels] of silver, about 4 ounces or 114 grams in weight.
18:12 Hebrew 1,000 [shekels] of silver, about 25 pounds or 11.4 kilograms in weight.

I often wonder what is it about leadership that draws others not to follow?  More often than not, people are asked to lead, voted into place, or otherwise chosen to be a leader. And yet most do not follow their direction.

Here we clearly see King David wanting to join the warring party, yet he is discouraged to do so. Instead he is left behind and therefore has even less influence on the battlefield.  Before his men leave to fight in his stead, he gives the direct command to go easy on his son, for he is young and vulnerable, still loved deeply by his father.

When the time comes, Absalom ensnares himself in a tree in the forest and is seen by others.  Although some stand back and remember the orders they were given by the king, others lung forward. Without the ability to fight back, Absalom's life is taken... three daggers and then a mob ensues. Not even his body was brought back for proper burial. A king's love for his son is thrown down in that pit and covered with rocks... along with all dignity and respect. For it seems Joab and others have none for their leader.

Monday, June 8, 2015

Who Really Wins, Anyway??

2 Samuel 15.1-37

15 After this, Absalom bought a chariot and horses, and he hired fifty bodyguards to run ahead of him. 2 He got up early every morning and went out to the gate of the city. When people brought a case to the king for judgment, Absalom would ask where in Israel they were from, and they would tell him their tribe. 3 Then Absalom would say, “You’ve really got a strong case here! It’s too bad the king doesn’t have anyone to hear it. 4 I wish I were the judge. Then everyone could bring their cases to me for judgment, and I would give them justice!”

5 When people tried to bow before him, Absalom wouldn’t let them. Instead, he took them by the hand and kissed them. 6 Absalom did this with everyone who came to the king for judgment, and so he stole the hearts of all the people of Israel.

7 After four years,[a] Absalom said to the king, “Let me go to Hebron to offer a sacrifice to the Lord and fulfill a vow I made to him. 8 For while your servant was at Geshur in Aram, I promised to sacrifice to the Lord in Hebron[b] if he would bring me back to Jerusalem.”

9 “All right,” the king told him. “Go and fulfill your vow.”

So Absalom went to Hebron. 10 But while he was there, he sent secret messengers to all the tribes of Israel to stir up a rebellion against the king. “As soon as you hear the ram’s horn,” his message read, “you are to say, ‘Absalom has been crowned king in Hebron.’” 11 He took 200 men from Jerusalem with him as guests, but they knew nothing of his intentions. 12 While Absalom was offering the sacrifices, he sent for Ahithophel, one of David’s counselors who lived in Giloh. Soon many others also joined Absalom, and the conspiracy gained momentum.

David Escapes from Jerusalem
13 A messenger soon arrived in Jerusalem to tell David, “All Israel has joined Absalom in a conspiracy against you!”

14 “Then we must flee at once, or it will be too late!” David urged his men. “Hurry! If we get out of the city before Absalom arrives, both we and the city of Jerusalem will be spared from disaster.”

15 “We are with you,” his advisers replied. “Do what you think is best.”

16 So the king and all his household set out at once. He left no one behind except ten of his concubines to look after the palace. 17 The king and all his people set out on foot, pausing at the last house 18 to let all the king’s men move past to lead the way. There were 600 men from Gath who had come with David, along with the king’s bodyguard.[c]

19 Then the king turned and said to Ittai, a leader of the men from Gath, “Why are you coming with us? Go on back to King Absalom, for you are a guest in Israel, a foreigner in exile. 20 You arrived only recently, and should I force you today to wander with us? I don’t even know where we will go. Go on back and take your kinsmen with you, and may the Lord show you his unfailing love and faithfulness.[d]”

21 But Ittai said to the king, “I vow by the Lord and by your own life that I will go wherever my lord the king goes, no matter what happens—whether it means life or death.”

22 David replied, “All right, come with us.” So Ittai and all his men and their families went along.

23 Everyone cried loudly as the king and his followers passed by. They crossed the Kidron Valley and then went out toward the wilderness.

24 Zadok and all the Levites also came along, carrying the Ark of the Covenant of God. They set down the Ark of God, and Abiathar offered sacrifices[e] until everyone had passed out of the city.

25 Then the king instructed Zadok to take the Ark of God back into the city. “If the Lord sees fit,” David said, “he will bring me back to see the Ark and the Tabernacle[f] again. 26 But if he is through with me, then let him do what seems best to him.”

27 The king also told Zadok the priest, “Look,[g] here is my plan. You and Abiathar[h] should return quietly to the city with your son Ahimaaz and Abiathar’s son Jonathan. 28 I will stop at the shallows of the Jordan River[i] and wait there for a report from you.” 29 So Zadok and Abiathar took the Ark of God back to the city and stayed there.

30 David walked up the road to the Mount of Olives, weeping as he went. His head was covered and his feet were bare as a sign of mourning. And the people who were with him covered their heads and wept as they climbed the hill. 31 When someone told David that his adviser Ahithophel was now backing Absalom, David prayed, “O Lord, let Ahithophel give Absalom foolish advice!”

32 When David reached the summit of the Mount of Olives where people worshiped God, Hushai the Arkite was waiting there for him. Hushai had torn his clothing and put dirt on his head as a sign of mourning. 33 But David told him, “If you go with me, you will only be a burden. 34 Return to Jerusalem and tell Absalom, ‘I will now be your adviser, O king, just as I was your father’s adviser in the past.’ Then you can frustrate and counter Ahithophel’s advice. 35 Zadok and Abiathar, the priests, will be there. Tell them about the plans being made in the king’s palace, 36 and they will send their sons Ahimaaz and Jonathan to tell me what is going on.”

37 So David’s friend Hushai returned to Jerusalem, getting there just as Absalom arrived.


15:7 As in Greek and Syriac versions; Hebrew reads forty years.
15:8 As in some Greek manuscripts; Hebrew lacks in Hebron.
15:18 Hebrew the Kerethites and Pelethites.
15:20 As in Greek version; Hebrew reads and may unfailing love and faithfulness go with you.
15:24 Or Abiathar went up.
15:25 Hebrew and his dwelling place.
15:27a As in Greek version; Hebrew reads Are you a seer? or Do you see?
15:27b Hebrew lacks and Abiathar; compare 15:29.
15:28 Hebrew at the crossing points of the wilderness.

And so Absalom turns on his father and the deal making begins. Deceit runs deep on both sides of the game.  Each determines their next move and the counter moves of the opponent. Like a chess game of human proportions, players are moved from one location to another, and then back again.  Everyone is guessing what move will be made next by the other, and then decisions are made affecting all.

Today, we seem to do the same thing. We anticipate the moves of others, whether in family disagreements, work relations, or friendship circles. And then we begin to form a team, like a childhood game of Red Rover.  We take the biggest and the brightest, the most powerful and influential. We place them on our team in hopes of increasing our chances at success.  But let's define this success: to simply be sure the other loses.

And surely we know the outcome. There will be regrets and there will be tears. There will be brokenness and their will be loss.  Who really wins, anyway??

Monday, May 4, 2015

No More Rape

2 Samuel 13:1-19, New Living Translation (NLT)

The Rape of Tamar
13 Now David’s son Absalom had a beautiful sister named Tamar. And Amnon, her half brother, fell desperately in love with her. 2 Amnon became so obsessed with Tamar that he became ill. She was a virgin, and Amnon thought he could never have her.

3 But Amnon had a very crafty friend—his cousin Jonadab. He was the son of David’s brother Shimea.[a] 4 One day Jonadab said to Amnon, “What’s the trouble? Why should the son of a king look so dejected morning after morning?”

So Amnon told him, “I am in love with Tamar, my brother Absalom’s sister.”

5 “Well,” Jonadab said, “I’ll tell you what to do. Go back to bed and pretend you are ill. When your father comes to see you, ask him to let Tamar come and prepare some food for you. Tell him you’ll feel better if she prepares it as you watch and feeds you with her own hands.”

6 So Amnon lay down and pretended to be sick. And when the king came to see him, Amnon asked him, “Please let my sister Tamar come and cook my favorite dish[b] as I watch. Then I can eat it from her own hands.” 7 So David agreed and sent Tamar to Amnon’s house to prepare some food for him.

8 When Tamar arrived at Amnon’s house, she went to the place where he was lying down so he could watch her mix some dough. Then she baked his favorite dish for him. 9 But when she set the serving tray before him, he refused to eat. “Everyone get out of here,” Amnon told his servants. So they all left.

10 Then he said to Tamar, “Now bring the food into my bedroom and feed it to me here.” So Tamar took his favorite dish to him. 11 But as she was feeding him, he grabbed her and demanded, “Come to bed with me, my darling sister.”

12 “No, my brother!” she cried. “Don’t be foolish! Don’t do this to me! Such wicked things aren’t done in Israel. 13 Where could I go in my shame? And you would be called one of the greatest fools in Israel. Please, just speak to the king about it, and he will let you marry me.”

14 But Amnon wouldn’t listen to her, and since he was stronger than she was, he raped her. 15 Then suddenly Amnon’s love turned to hate, and he hated her even more than he had loved her. “Get out of here!” he snarled at her.

16 “No, no!” Tamar cried. “Sending me away now is worse than what you’ve already done to me.”

But Amnon wouldn’t listen to her. 17 He shouted for his servant and demanded, “Throw this woman out, and lock the door behind her!”

18 So the servant put her out and locked the door behind her. She was wearing a long, beautiful robe,[c] as was the custom in those days for the king’s virgin daughters. 19 But now Tamar tore her robe and put ashes on her head. And then, with her face in her hands, she went away crying.

13:3 Hebrew Shimeah (also in 13:32), a variant spelling of Shimea; compare 1 Chr 2:13.
13:6 Or a couple of cakes; also in 13:8, 10.
13:18 Or a robe with sleeves, or an ornamented robe. The meaning of the Hebrew is uncertain.

I don't know what is worse: the text above or the glorified paintings throughout the years of Tamar's rape... especially those who depict the innocent Tamar with a smirk on her face! Are you kidding me?! I get it was another time. I get there was a patriarchal system. But I don't get the lack of concern from anyone other than Absalom. I certainly do not condone his retaliation with murder. My heart just breaks for Tamar. 

For those of us who have lived an entire life with the after affects of rape and incest in our families, these stories in scripture are so very hard to read and receive. Where was King David in confronting his son Amnon? Where were his own brothers in holding him accountable immediately after the event? Where was God? Where is God in the story? Where goes Tamar from here? No more mention or concern or outcome from Tamar. 

Yet we see similar events occur right here in our own lives, and intentionally or unintentionally, we make the same mistakes. We think by taking care of things ourselves we are actually helping the victim. We think by saying nothing we protect the dignity of the one whose dignity has already been stolen.  Oh, when will humanity learn from his/her mistakes and become a new people? A people who gives value to the other? A people who places lust at the bottom and integrity, respect for the human body, and love of those closest to us at the very top?  [sigh]

No rape. We desperately need a world where there is no more rape.   

Saturday, May 2, 2015

A Voice of Reason

2 Samuel 12:1-25, New Living Translation (NLT)

Nathan Rebukes David
12 So the Lord sent Nathan the prophet to tell David this story: “There were two men in a certain town. One was rich, and one was poor. 2 The rich man owned a great many sheep and cattle. 3 The poor man owned nothing but one little lamb he had bought. He raised that little lamb, and it grew up with his children. It ate from the man’s own plate and drank from his cup. He cuddled it in his arms like a baby daughter. 4 One day a guest arrived at the home of the rich man. But instead of killing an animal from his own flock or herd, he took the poor man’s lamb and killed it and prepared it for his guest.”

5 David was furious. “As surely as the Lord lives,” he vowed, “any man who would do such a thing deserves to die! 6 He must repay four lambs to the poor man for the one he stole and for having no pity.”

7 Then Nathan said to David, “You are that man! The Lord, the God of Israel, says: I anointed you king of Israel and saved you from the power of Saul. 8 I gave you your master’s house and his wives and the kingdoms of Israel and Judah. And if that had not been enough, I would have given you much, much more. 9 Why, then, have you despised the word of the Lord and done this horrible deed? For you have murdered Uriah the Hittite with the sword of the Ammonites and stolen his wife. 10 From this time on, your family will live by the sword because you have despised me by taking Uriah’s wife to be your own.

11 “This is what the Lord says: Because of what you have done, I will cause your own household to rebel against you. I will give your wives to another man before your very eyes, and he will go to bed with them in public view. 12 You did it secretly, but I will make this happen to you openly in the sight of all Israel.”

David Confesses His Guilt
13 Then David confessed to Nathan, “I have sinned against the Lord.”

Nathan replied, “Yes, but the Lord has forgiven you, and you won’t die for this sin. 14 Nevertheless, because you have shown utter contempt for the word of the Lord[a] by doing this, your child will die.”

15 After Nathan returned to his home, the Lord sent a deadly illness to the child of David and Uriah’s wife. 16 David begged God to spare the child. He went without food and lay all night on the bare ground. 17 The elders of his household pleaded with him to get up and eat with them, but he refused.

18 Then on the seventh day the child died. David’s advisers were afraid to tell him. “He wouldn’t listen to reason while the child was ill,” they said. “What drastic thing will he do when we tell him the child is dead?”

19 When David saw them whispering, he realized what had happened. “Is the child dead?” he asked.

“Yes,” they replied, “he is dead.”

20 Then David got up from the ground, washed himself, put on lotions,[b] and changed his clothes. He went to the Tabernacle and worshiped the Lord. After that, he returned to the palace and was served food and ate.

21 His advisers were amazed. “We don’t understand you,” they told him. “While the child was still living, you wept and refused to eat. But now that the child is dead, you have stopped your mourning and are eating again.”

22 David replied, “I fasted and wept while the child was alive, for I said, ‘Perhaps the Lord will be gracious to me and let the child live.’ 23 But why should I fast when he is dead? Can I bring him back again? I will go to him one day, but he cannot return to me.”

24 Then David comforted Bathsheba, his wife, and slept with her. She became pregnant and gave birth to a son, and David[c] named him Solomon. The Lord loved the child 25 and sent word through Nathan the prophet that they should name him Jedidiah (which means “beloved of the Lord”), as the Lord had commanded.[d]

12:14 As in Dead Sea Scrolls; Masoretic Text reads the enemies of the Lord.
12:20 Hebrew anointed himself.
12:24 Hebrew he; an alternate Hebrew reading and some Hebrew manuscripts read she.
12:25 As in Greek version; Hebrew reads because of the Lord.

Oh, the need for a voice of reason in our lives. There are times we get so wrapped up in our own desires that we actually begin to believe what we are doing is warranted, and even okay with God. Yet if we look closely to God's word, we know that this cannot possibly be true.  

In David's case, adultery was against God's word.  Lying was against God's word. Murder was against God's word. And as God says, "I gave you all you needed and if you would have asked, I would have given you even more." How many times do we simply take without asking? How many times do we take things into our own hands, somehow fooling ourselves into believing what we are doing is justified?  

And so we offer our lives to God and ask God to send a voice of reason when one is needed. Someone to point the finger and say, "That man, that woman, is you!"  Then, and only then, can we repent of our selfish and wicked ways, and return to the God who saved us.  

Friday, May 1, 2015

A Word of Warning

2 Samuel 11:1-27, New Living Translation (NLT)

David and Bathsheba
11 In the spring of the year,[a] when kings normally go out to war, David sent Joab and the Israelite army to fight the Ammonites. They destroyed the Ammonite army and laid siege to the city of Rabbah. However, David stayed behind in Jerusalem.

2 Late one afternoon, after his midday rest, David got out of bed and was walking on the roof of the palace. As he looked out over the city, he noticed a woman of unusual beauty taking a bath. 3 He sent someone to find out who she was, and he was told, “She is Bathsheba, the daughter of Eliam and the wife of Uriah the Hittite.” 4 Then David sent messengers to get her; and when she came to the palace, he slept with her. She had just completed the purification rites after having her menstrual period. Then she returned home. 5 Later, when Bathsheba discovered that she was pregnant, she sent David a message, saying, “I’m pregnant.”

6 Then David sent word to Joab: “Send me Uriah the Hittite.” So Joab sent him to David. 7 When Uriah arrived, David asked him how Joab and the army were getting along and how the war was progressing. 8 Then he told Uriah, “Go on home and relax.[b]” David even sent a gift to Uriah after he had left the palace. 9 But Uriah didn’t go home. He slept that night at the palace entrance with the king’s palace guard.

10 When David heard that Uriah had not gone home, he summoned him and asked, “What’s the matter? Why didn’t you go home last night after being away for so long?”

11 Uriah replied, “The Ark and the armies of Israel and Judah are living in tents,[c] and Joab and my master’s men are camping in the open fields. How could I go home to wine and dine and sleep with my wife? I swear that I would never do such a thing.”

12 “Well, stay here today,” David told him, “and tomorrow you may return to the army.” So Uriah stayed in Jerusalem that day and the next. 13 Then David invited him to dinner and got him drunk. But even then he couldn’t get Uriah to go home to his wife. Again he slept at the palace entrance with the king’s palace guard.

David Arranges for Uriah’s Death
14 So the next morning David wrote a letter to Joab and gave it to Uriah to deliver. 15 The letter instructed Joab, “Station Uriah on the front lines where the battle is fiercest. Then pull back so that he will be killed.” 16 So Joab assigned Uriah to a spot close to the city wall where he knew the enemy’s strongest men were fighting. 17 And when the enemy soldiers came out of the city to fight, Uriah the Hittite was killed along with several other Israelite soldiers.

18 Then Joab sent a battle report to David. 19 He told his messenger, “Report all the news of the battle to the king. 20 But he might get angry and ask, ‘Why did the troops go so close to the city? Didn’t they know there would be shooting from the walls? 21 Wasn’t Abimelech son of Gideon[d] killed at Thebez by a woman who threw a millstone down on him from the wall? Why would you get so close to the wall?’ Then tell him, ‘Uriah the Hittite was killed, too.’”

22 So the messenger went to Jerusalem and gave a complete report to David. 23 “The enemy came out against us in the open fields,” he said. “And as we chased them back to the city gate, 24 the archers on the wall shot arrows at us. Some of the king’s men were killed, including Uriah the Hittite.”

25 “Well, tell Joab not to be discouraged,” David said. “The sword devours this one today and that one tomorrow! Fight harder next time, and conquer the city!”

26 When Uriah’s wife heard that her husband was dead, she mourned for him. 27 When the period of mourning was over, David sent for her and brought her to the palace, and she became one of his wives. Then she gave birth to a son. But the Lord was displeased with what David had done.

11:1 Hebrew At the turn of the year. The first day of the year in the ancient Hebrew lunar calendar occurred in March or April.
11:8 Hebrew and wash your feet, an expression that may also have a connotation of ritualistic washing.
11:11 Or at Succoth.
11:21 Hebrew son of Jerub-besheth. Jerub-besheth is a variation on the name Jerub-baal, which is another name for Gideon; see Judg 6:32.

We know of so many good attributes of David, and can certainly understand why God would choose him to be king of his people. But here, we see a series of choices that leads him down a totally different path: one that does not please the Lord.  And how easy for any of us to begin down this path of our own.  

It was at that very moment when David saw the other woman bathing that choices were given. He could have chosen to simply appreciate but then turn and walk away. Or if it was in his custom, and within God's law at that time, to have many wives and he was attracted to this woman, then he could have sent for more information. But when the response came that she was another man's wife, not to mention a wife of one of his own soldiers, then under God's law he should have ended his infatuation there.

Yet we know, he did not. So his poor choices continue, from committing adultery to lying to deceiving to murder.  One broken law of God's moves to another to another until David is so far from God's ways, that it is hard to know how this man can represent God to his people.  

A word of warning to us all: one bad choice is one bad choice too many. We must live with such desire to be in God's will that our choices reflect his ways, or we cannot expect to lead others.  

Thursday, April 30, 2015

The Empty Chairs

2 Samuel 9:1-13, New Living Translation (NLT)

David’s Kindness to Mephibosheth
9 One day David asked, “Is anyone in Saul’s family still alive—anyone to whom I can show kindness for Jonathan’s sake?” 2 He summoned a man named Ziba, who had been one of Saul’s servants. “Are you Ziba?” the king asked.

“Yes sir, I am,” Ziba replied.

3 The king then asked him, “Is anyone still alive from Saul’s family? If so, I want to show God’s kindness to them.”

Ziba replied, “Yes, one of Jonathan’s sons is still alive. He is crippled in both feet.”

4 “Where is he?” the king asked.

“In Lo-debar,” Ziba told him, “at the home of Makir son of Ammiel.”

5 So David sent for him and brought him from Makir’s home. 6 His name was Mephibosheth[a]; he was Jonathan’s son and Saul’s grandson. When he came to David, he bowed low to the ground in deep respect. David said, “Greetings, Mephibosheth.”

Mephibosheth replied, “I am your servant.”

7 “Don’t be afraid!” David said. “I intend to show kindness to you because of my promise to your father, Jonathan. I will give you all the property that once belonged to your grandfather Saul, and you will eat here with me at the king’s table!”

8 Mephibosheth bowed respectfully and exclaimed, “Who is your servant, that you should show such kindness to a dead dog like me?”

9 Then the king summoned Saul’s servant Ziba and said, “I have given your master’s grandson everything that belonged to Saul and his family. 10 You and your sons and servants are to farm the land for him to produce food for your master’s household.[b] But Mephibosheth, your master’s grandson, will eat here at my table.” (Ziba had fifteen sons and twenty servants.)

11 Ziba replied, “Yes, my lord the king; I am your servant, and I will do all that you have commanded.” And from that time on, Mephibosheth ate regularly at David’s table,[c] like one of the king’s own sons.

12 Mephibosheth had a young son named Mica. From then on, all the members of Ziba’s household were Mephibosheth’s servants. 13 And Mephibosheth, who was crippled in both feet, lived in Jerusalem and ate regularly at the king’s table.

9:6 Mephibosheth is another name for Merib-baal.
9:10 As in Greek version; Hebrew reads your master’s grandson.
9:11 As in Greek version; Hebrew reads my table.

How easy it can be to move into new positions, live out new opportunities, and forget to make room at the table for others.  Here we see one of the many reasons David was chosen by God to be king.  David's relationship with Jonathan was of substance, so he wanted to keep his word and take care of Jonathan's family. David sends for one of Jonathan's sons, crippled in both feet. 

Now already, this is amazing. Most kings will not bring crippled, less than seemingly perfect people into his household. Many felt these kinds of physical abnormalities were curses or even the work of God himself as punishment for something the family had done wrong. But none of this superstition seems to cross David's mind. Instead, he welcomes Mephibosheth into his household and to a seat at his table. The king's table. 

Not only this great honor, meal after meal, but also David gives Mephibosheth's grandfather's land back to him and his family. He sends servants to farm it. He offers hope and a future, in addition to a friend.  Mephibosheth's life will never be the same.  

So who could be invited to our tables? Who has been left in the dust? Who was looked over or forgotten? Who might truly benefit from our friendship, our care, our meals, or even our family time together? Did God simply share this story for us to understand more about who David was, or could God have possibly shared this story to make us more aware of who we are, through his son Jesus?  

The next meal you have at your dining/kitchen table, look at the empty chairs and ask God "Who can I show your kindness to, God?"  

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

In God's Time

2 Samuel 5:1-12, New Living Translation (NLT)

David Becomes King of All Israel
5 Then all the tribes of Israel went to David at Hebron and told him, “We are your own flesh and blood. 2 In the past,[a] when Saul was our king, you were the one who really led the forces of Israel. And the Lord told you, ‘You will be the shepherd of my people Israel. You will be Israel’s leader.’”

3 So there at Hebron, King David made a covenant before the Lord with all the elders of Israel. And they anointed him king of Israel.

4 David was thirty years old when he began to reign, and he reigned forty years in all. 5 He had reigned over Judah from Hebron for seven years and six months, and from Jerusalem he reigned over all Israel and Judah for thirty-three years.

David Captures Jerusalem
6 David then led his men to Jerusalem to fight against the Jebusites, the original inhabitants of the land who were living there. The Jebusites taunted David, saying, “You’ll never get in here! Even the blind and lame could keep you out!” For the Jebusites thought they were safe. 7 But David captured the fortress of Zion, which is now called the City of David.

8 On the day of the attack, David said to his troops, “I hate those ‘lame’ and ‘blind’ Jebusites.[b] Whoever attacks them should strike by going into the city through the water tunnel.[c]” That is the origin of the saying, “The blind and the lame may not enter the house.”[d]

9 So David made the fortress his home, and he called it the City of David. He extended the city, starting at the supporting terraces[e] and working inward. 10 And David became more and more powerful, because the Lord God of Heaven’s Armies was with him.

11 Then King Hiram of Tyre sent messengers to David, along with cedar timber and carpenters and stonemasons, and they built David a palace. 12 And David realized that the Lord had confirmed him as king over Israel and had blessed his kingdom for the sake of his people Israel.

5:2 Or For some time.
5:8a Or Those ‘lame’ and ‘blind’ Jebusites hate me.
5:8b Or with scaling hooks. The meaning of the Hebrew is uncertain.
5:8c The meaning of this saying is uncertain.
5:9 Hebrew the millo. The meaning of the Hebrew is uncertain.

And the legacy begins. From a shepherd boy to a warrior. From a warrior to the hunted. From the hunted to the anointed. The brave youngest son of Jesse is called to set down his sling and staff, in order to pick up the nation of Israel. Both the north and the south, all of Israel, is brought back together under one reign, by the provision of God, the Almighty Yahweh himself. 

It is easy to see how at any point David could have questioned his call to one day lead God's people. It didn't take long for Saul's loyalty to change to jealousy. Everything became a battle, not just wars with enemies, but wars with the very one he was called to serve. It is at times like these we must all humble ourselves and continue in service, trusting God's plan is a good one and will unfold in due time. 

And so David did. He ran when he needed to run. He fought when he needed to fight. He humbled himself at the feet of his enemy when he needed to speak truth in love. And when it was time, God's time, the way was cleared and David took the throne. There will be mistakes make along the way, but remember, this is a man that sincerely wanted to please the Lord God Almighty... and he did.