Friday, April 30, 2010

April 30th

Today's reading from the One Year Bible Chronological Reading Plan is 2 Samuel 19:31-20:26, Psalm 7, 2 Samuel 21:1-22, 1 Chronicles 20:4-8

Chapter 21 again stresses the importance of keeping covenants (and not entering into them lightly)! From this commentary...

David's dealings with the Gibeonites, at its roots, is a matter of keeping covenants. Israel had made a covenant with the Gibeonites. Even though this covenant was 400 years old, it was still to be honored. Saul broke that covenant by trying to rid the land of them. No matter how good his intentions might have been, the covenant must be kept. The breaking of that covenant had serious consequences. It cost Saul and his sons their lives. It brought a famine on the land of Israel. There were other covenants involved as well. Much of what is described in our text looks like the fulfillment of God's warnings for breaking the Mosaic Covenant in Deuteronomy 28-30. In addition, David's covenant with Jonathan had to be honored, so Mephibosheth was not handed over to the Gibeonites.

God deals with men in terms of covenants. Time does not weaken these covenants. Covenants are to be kept. Even when men do not take their covenants seriously, God does. He expects us to keep our covenants

One covenant that society takes way too lightly these days is the covenant of marriage. Divorce is acceptable and commonplace, and sadly takes place in Christian circles as well, sometimes simply because they are no longer in love and believe God wants them to be happy and therefore it is ok. This should not be. We need to honour our covenants!

Tomorrow's passage: 2 Samuel 22, Psalm 18

Thursday, April 29, 2010

April 29th

Today's reading from the One Year Bible Chronological Reading Plan is 2 Samuel 17:15-29, Psalm 3, Psalm 63, 2 Samuel 18:1-19:30

The point I want to focus on from today's reading is David's warped perspective and the lesson we can learn from this.

David had let his love for his son warp his perspective. He was putting his son above everyone else - his kingdom, his friends and even his own family.

He put his army in a virtually impossible situation - he wanted them to fight Absalom's army but not Absalom.

And then, when they were victorious, instead of giving them the victory celebration they deserved, he mourned for his son to such an extent that he made them feel guilty - for risking their lives to defend David and his kingdom with honour and loyalty!

Definitely a warped perspective.

Thankfully, Joab correctly rebukes David, and thankfully David listens to Joab. Joab was not necessarily a godly man, but in this case, his advice was spot on.

A warped perspective is something that we are all susceptible to, especially if we allow ourselves to be immersed in the unbiblical worldview of our culture. The only way to combat this, the only way to maintain a biblical perspective, is to immerse ourselves in the Bible - to read it, to study it, to saturate our minds with the Word of God.

Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. Philippians 4:8

I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you. Psalm 119:11

Oh, how I love your law! I meditate on it all day long. Your commands make me wiser than my enemies, for they are ever with me. I have more insight than all my teachers, for I meditate on your statutes. I have more understanding than the elders, for I obey your precepts. Psalm 119:97-100

Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light for my path. Psalm 119:105

Tomorrow's passage: 2 Samuel 19:31-20:26, Psalm 7, 2 Samuel 21:1-22, 1 Chronicles 20:4-8

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Thursday April 29

Dear friends
I am sorry but I am not keeping up and I will not be able to continue. I haven't caught up with the readings as I've been pursuing over things to read that God is leading me to and teaching me about and I havent got the time to dedicate to this like I should.
I have learnt alot from you all and will come in and read things now and again but I can't commit to this any longer at the moment.
Regretfully Nicole

April 28th

Today's reading from the One Year Bible Chronological Reading Plan is 2 Samuel 15-17:14.

A Friend in Need and The Darkest Days of David's Life are two commentaries on that deal with today's passage.

These chapters are definitely chronicling some of the darkest days of David's life.

And, not coincidentally, this is the time when he is reaping the consequences of his sin of committing adultery with Bathsheba and murdering her husband.

Why have you despised the word of the LORD by doing evil in His sight? You have struck down Uriah the Hittite with the sword, have taken his wife to be your wife, and have killed him with the sword of the sons of Ammon. 10 'Now therefore, the sword shall never depart from your house, because you have despised Me and have taken the wife of Uriah the Hittite to be your wife.' 11 “Thus says the LORD, 'Behold, I will raise up evil against you from your own household; I will even take your wives before your eyes and give them to your companion, and he will lie with your wives in broad daylight. 12 'Indeed you did it secretly, but I will do this thing before all Israel, and under the sun” 2 Samuel 12:9-12

In today's passage, the consequences of David's sin as prophecied by Nathan are now fulfilled - David's son (the one conceived in his sin with Bathsheba) has died, his daughter Tamar has been raped by her brother Amnon, Amnon has been murdered by his brother Absalom, Absalom fled for asylum with his grandfather the king of Geshur, Absalom stayed in Geshur for 2 yrs untiL Joab deceptively convinced David to bring him back to Jerusalem where David kept him under house arrest until Absalom had had enough and regained freedom to go about Jerusalem where he proceeded to turn the hearts of the Israelites away from David and towards himself at which point he deceived his father into letting him go to Hebron where he initiated his rebellion and attempt to gain the throne, which caused David to flee Jerusalem, leaving 10 concubines behind, whom Absalom then slept with publicly.

I think by any definition, that qualifies as a very dark time period.

A few of the huge lessons to learn from this passage are that God always keeps His word, sin does not pay, and the results of our sin always outweigh the enticement it first appeared to be, but that God works everything together for the good of those who love him (Romans 8:28).

Throughout this dark valley we see a brokenness and humility in David that hasn't been there for some time. Another case of God working, despite ourselves.

When we are tempted to sin, Satan tries to keep consequences out of the thought process.

If David knew all the consequences that would happen if he gave in to his lust for Bathsheba he would not have made the same decision. If Eve would've known the consequence to her decision to eat the forbidden fruit, she wouldn't have done it. If we fully thought through the consequences to our decisions to give in to temptation, we would not give in either.

Very unfortunately, we cannot call a mulligan when it comes to sin. There simply are no do-overs. Our sin has consequences and virtually every time those consequences are far greater than we could imagine. Certainly a whole lot greater than what we're thinking (or not thinking!) when we're considering giving in to temptation.

Satan is going to do his best to make the forbidden fruit look delicious, and like no big deal. Maybe, in fact, like a good idea! Satan likes to masquerade as an angel of light, reeling us in with just enough truth that he twists into a full-blown lie before we even know what's hit us.

Let us not be deceived.

Sin is sin. God will not be mocked. We will reap what we sow. And, unfortunately for those around us, the consequences often have a huge ripple effect into the lives of those we love.

Tomorrow's passage: 2 Samuel 17:15-29, Psalm 3, Psalm 63, 2 Samuel 18:1-19:30

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Tuesday, April 27 - Miriam

Today's reading from the One Year Bible Chronological Reading Plan is 2 Samuel 12:26-31, 1 Chronicles 20:2-3, and 2 Samuel 13-14:33.

I felt sad for most of today's reading.  (As an aside, let me just say I don't think my head could hold up a crown that weighed 75 lbs.  But that's not what we're focusing on here.) 

Here we have the story of a man who made himself ill believing himself to be in love with someone unattainable (his half-sister).  He then violated her, immediately hated her as much as he'd loved her before, and sent her away in shame.  Her brother (his half-brother) then conspired to have him killed, after which he ran away to escape judgment for his own actions.  There is just NOTHING good about this story at all!  But apparently there is much to be learned from it.  Here is a link to a commentary from called Tragedy in the Royal Family.  The following is the conclusion section from the commentary:

First, this text is placed immediately following the passage that depicts David's sin and its personal consequences in the death of his first son by Bathsheba. This is not only because the events of chapter 13 follow closely in time to those of chapter 12, but because chapter 13 describes further consequences of David's sin. The sin of David that was once personal and private comes to impact the entire nation. David's sin affects him, his wife and son, and now other members of his family. Soon, David's sin will divide the nation and deprive David of his throne for a time.

I believe it is true that the death of David's son (chapter 12), and now the rape of his daughter and the murder of his son (chapter 13), are not God's punishment for his sin, but God's discipline. If David were to be punished for his sin, he would have to die. Nathan assured David that he would not die, because his sins had been taken away. The tragedies which take place from this point on are meant to be instructive and corrective, even though they are also painful. This is completely consistent with the teaching of God's Word (see Hebrews 12:1-13).

Hugh Blevins, a friend and fellow-elder, made this observation on our text. God has orchestrated these events to enable David to experience his own sin from the perspective of others. In effect, some of David's family were doing to David what he had done to God. As David had abused his authority as the “king of Israel” to sin against God by taking Bathsheba, Amnon now abuses his authority and position as a “son of the king” to take Tamar. As David sinned by killing Uriah, Absalom sinned by killing Amnon. David can now experience what God did, what Bathsheba did, what others impacted by his sin did.

Second, this text has much to teach David and us regarding sin. Notice that sin often starts with some kind of “forbidden fruit.” For Adam and Eve, the forbidden fruit was eating of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. For Joseph, it was Potiphar's wife. For Daniel and his three friends, it was the king's foods. For David, it was Bathsheba. For Amnon, it was Tamar. We see that while sin starts small and often private, it grows quickly to greater and more public sin. We see from our text that sin never pays. Its price tag is always much higher than its worth. Neither David, nor his family, nor the nation Israel will smile about David's sin and its consequences. As Mark Twain once said, “Its better to stay out than to get out.” This certainly applies to sin.

This passage certainly encourages us to stay out of sin. But it also instructs us that once sin has begun, the sooner it is stopped, the better for all. How much better for all if the shrewd Jonadab had rebuked Amnon for his sinful lust, rather than to tell him how he could get what he wanted. How much better if David had recognized the evil of Amnon's request and refused to allow his daughter to see Amnon, and his son Amnon to go to the ranch of Absalom. There is a passivity here toward the sin of others which is painfully evident. Those who will not correct those who sin are only co-conspirators in their expanding sin. How many families have experienced great heartache because a mother or a father refused to discipline a willful or wayward child? How many marriages have broken up because a husband or a wife refused to deal with sin in their lives, or in the life of their mate? How often families have taken the course of action Absalom recommended -- keeping sin a family secret.

We certainly see that sin separates. We know (or should know) that sin separates us from God. But it also separates us from others. The sin of Adam and Eve brought separation from God, and shortly after, it separated Cain and Abel. Sin separated Joseph and his brothers. Sin divided David's family. Sin separated Amnon and Tamar, Amnon and Absalom, David and Absalom, and eventually the whole nation. Sin is the root of disunity and division.

Thirdly, we can learn from each of the characters in our text. Amnon warns us about the pursuit of fleshly lusts (compare 1 Corinthians 10). Jonadab warns us about the danger of using the sins of others to further our own interests, making them a part of our own agenda, rather than paying the price for rebuke and correction. David instructs us concerning passivity toward sin. David knew all the facts about the crime committed against his daughter, yet it seems that he did nothing about it. Why not? Was it his own guilt due to his sin with Bathsheba? Was he afraid that if he corrected Amnon someone might ask him who he was to be casting stones at sinners? Whatever the reasons for David's inaction, it only facilitated the sins of others. And from Absalom, we learn the danger of resentment and bitterness. Absalom was not willing to deal with Amnon biblically. He wanted to get his revenge in his own way. This he did, and in doing so became a murderer and a fugitive.

Fourth, this text has much to teach us about love. Everything that is called love is not necessarily love. It is obvious that Amnon thinks he is in love, but it is also obvious that he is not. In Amnon's mind, love is synonymous with sex. His brand of “love” is frustrated by purity, and not at all concerned about righteousness (such as that conduct prescribed by God's law). Amnon's “love” would not stand the test of 1 Corinthians 13. Tamar was never fooled by Amnon on this matter. How sad it is that so many young women have forsaken their virginity because of a few syrupy words, uttered by a hormone-driven young man. Today, there are many young women who fail to hold the same values or the same standard as Tamar. They do not see their sexual purity as something to be prized and protected; they see it as a curse, to be shed as soon as possible. Let this passage instruct us on the real meaning of love and of the great value of sexual purity, whether a man's or a woman's.

Finally, this text sheds light on the good news of the gospel of Jesus Christ. Think of how Absalom felt about Amnon's abuse of his sister, Tamar. Think of how David felt about the abuse of his daughter. One can only wonder how David found it possible not to do something to Amnon. Now with this in mind, think about how God the Father must have felt, and continues to feel, toward those who reject, rebel against, and blaspheme His sinless Son, Jesus Christ. When He sent His son to this world nearly 2,000 years ago, men rejected Him as a sinner, and they crucified Him on the cross of Calvary. If you were God, how would you feel toward those who did this, and toward those who continue to reject Christ today?

Tomorrow's reading is 2 Samuel 15-17:14.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Monday April 26 - PamJ

I apologize for the lateness of this post!

Today's reading from One-Year Bible Chronological Reading Plan is 1 Chronicles 20:1; 2 Samuel 11-12:14; Psalm 51; 2 Samuel 12:15-25; 2 Samuel 5:14-16; 1 Chronicles 14:3-7; 1 Chronicles 3:5-9.

2 Samuel Chapter 11 explains of David's lust for Bethsheba, wife of Uriah the Hittite.  He slept with her (after first seeing her bathing from atop his roof), sent her home then called upon his husband and eventually put him in the front lines to fight.  In other words the most dangerous spot and put him to death.

2 Samuel 11:26 When Uriah's wife heard that her husband was dead, she mourned for him. 27 After the time of mourning was over, David had her brought to his house, and she became his wife and bore him a son. But the thing David had done displeased the LORD.

Nathan later came to David, telling him of a parallel story of what David had done.  David's response was anger!  And said the man who did that deserves to die and pay for the lamb four times over.  Nathan tells him YOU are the man. And will be punished by the Lord and so all his wives will be given to one who is close to him and will lay with them in broad daylight.

David recognized his sin and the Lord took it away.

In Psalm 51 David pleads with God to cleanse him from sin's stain. More on this later...

Back to 2 Samuel and 1 Chronicles, after Nathan had left Uriah and David's child became ill.  At this time David fasted in hopes the Lord may be gracious and spare the child, though on the seventh day he dies.  David's servants thinks it odd when David gets up and washes, changes and eats.

David goes to comfort Bethsheba, lays again with her, later giving birth to another son naming him Jedidia. And the Lord loved him!  And David had thirteen more children after that.

Psalm 51:1-12 Salvation (lesson from Touch Point Bible)

"David had committed adultery and murder. In this psalm, he pleads with God to cleanse him from sin's stain. The image is not one of a superficial wiping away but one of a deep scrubbing of the soul. The result of David's confession is a heart made not merely clean but white as snow and then filled with the joy of salvation. Have you ever wondered if God could forgive you? David's prayer assures us that no matter how dark the stain, we can be made white and pure by God's forgiveness and cleansing. Make this psalm your daily prayer of personal confession."

2 Wash me clean from my guilt, purify me from my sin.

Prayer - Oh Lord, you know our transgressions.  Your love is unfailing. Wash me CLEAN, and purify me from my sin.  Help me to recognize that sin. I ask you to give me back my joy again and I will rejoice!  Create in my a clean heart O God, renew a right spirit within me.... Amen.

I also just have to mention that I really like this Chronological reading because I might not have otherwise known that David had asked for forgiveness from the Lord if I had just read 2 Samuel!

Now go and do good!  

Tomorrow's reading is 2 Samuel 12:26-31, 1 Chronicles 20:2-3, 2 Samuel 13:1-14:33.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Sunday- Guest Post By Mrs.Oz

Today's reading from One-Year Bible Chronological Reading Plan is 2 Samuel 8:15-18, 1 Chronicles 18:14-17, 1 Chronicles 6:16-30, 1 Chronicles 6:50-53, 1 Chronicles 6:31-48, 2 Samuel 9-10:19, and 1 Chronicles 19:1-19

I've been gone all day at our church's lady's retreat so I'm keeping it simple. It was such a blessing to hear God's Word, and to fellowship but I have to admit, I'm so tired! I should have done this one ahead of time.

"David reigned over all Israel, doing what was just and right for all his people." This was mentioned twice in our reading today, once from 2 Samuel and once from 1 Chronicles. It jumped out to me since it was a stark contrast to the book of Judges theme of "and everyone did what was right in his own eyes." You get this real sense of order coming back to the people and a renewed reverence for God and the worship of him.
The story of Mephibosheth being honored and cared for by David is one of the sweetest stories i in the bible. It does not take up much room but it gives us such a glimpse into the noble heart of David. Rather than a proud man who will have nothing to remind him of the reign of the man who caused him constant fear of his very life, he wants to bless Saul's lineage because of his love for Jonathan. He gives back all that had belonged to Saul, and further more want's Mephibosheth to dine with him always. It's just a heart warming story and a very emotional one.
David seems so full of the joy of the Lord, so delighted with his God and overflowing with a desire to thank, and bless, and renew. Unfortunately his gesture of kindness is not interpreted correctly by Ammonites and once again he must take the stern leadership role once more. His happy moment does not seem to last long and he people become insulted by the de-bearding of his messengers. Another wave of warfare takes place and you just feel bad for the guy! He was only trying to spread his joy.
I have no real application for today's reading, just observance and thought. Please share yours too:)
Tomorrow's reading is 1 Chronicles 20:1; 2 Samuel 11-12:14; Psalm 51; 2 Samuel 12:15-25; 2 Samuel 5:14-16; 1 Chronicles 14:3-7; 1 Chronicles 3:5-9

Saturday, April 24 - Miriam

Today's reading from the One Year Bible Chronological Reading Plan is 2 Samuel 1:1-17, 1 Chronicles 17:1-15, 2 Samuel 7:18-29, 1 Chronicles 17:16-27, 2 Samuel 8:1-14, 1 Chronicles 18:1-13, and Psalm 60.  For some reason my Adobe Reader isn't working so I can't create a link to the full reading plan, but for this week's readings, click here.

I found today's reading quite interesting, if a bit repetitive.  King David is feeling a bit guilty for living in a palace of cedar, while the Ark of the Covenant resides in a tent.  So God tells David, by way of the prophet Nathan, that it isn't his place to build God a house, but that his son will rule after him, build God's house, and be loved by God forever.  "Your house and your kingdom will endure forever before me; your throne will be established forever."  (2 Sam. 7:16)  It must have been wonderful for King David to hear this and he prayed a most humble and grateful prayer.  My favourite verse from the prayer was verse 22 - "How great you are, O Sovereign LORD! There is no one like you, and there is no God but you, as we have heard with our own ears."  (emphasis mine)

Isn't this what it all comes down to?  David remained humble in spite of all his many victories, giving God the glory and remembering always that it was GOD who won those battles through him and his men, and not by their own strength.  The list of David's victories is impressive but quite brief in today's reading, but I took note that it says "The LORD gave David victory wherever he went." 

Psalm 60 from today's reading ends with the following two verses:
11 Give us aid against the enemy,
for the help of man is worthless.
12 With God we will gain the victory,
and he will trample down our enemies.

Sometimes it seems that we try and try to accomplish things or get somewhere where we think we should be going and are endlessly frustrated by obstacles and things turning out differently than we expect.  Perhaps we can take a lesson from King David in these passages and try to keep in mind (in spite of our short human attention span) that we must inquire of God what is his will and trust in his timing.  I don't know where the saying "The Lord helps those who help themselves," came from, but it's not Biblical.  In fact, here's what a couple of websites had to say about it. -
The saying, "God helps those who help themselves," came to us by way of Benjamin Franklin (1736). Franklin himself was a deist and so he believed that God did not play an active role in men's lives. In his point of view if man was not able to help himself, then man was hopeless.

The Bible teaches something entirely different than the above saying, because God makes special provision to help the helpless.

Romans 5:6, 8
For while we were still helpless, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly....But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.

Proverbs 28:26
He who trusts in his own heart is a fool,
But he who walks wisely will be delivered.

Jeremiah 17:5
Thus says the LORD,
"Cursed is the man who trusts in mankind
And makes flesh his strength,
And whose heart turns away from the LORD.

"God helps those who help themselves!"
Hezekiah 6:1

This verse, of course, is not in the Bible. Hezekiah sounds plausible enough, but is not a real book of scripture. "Yeah! That's from the book of Hezekiah, isn't it?" is the code-word for these kinds of phantom texts.

This would seem old news by now, but just recently a friend of ours was scandalized when we told her this "verse" did not exist.

More important, this "verse" is unbiblical in its meaning. It is exactly the opposite of the message of scripture.

Jer 17:5 (NIV) This is what the LORD says: "Cursed is the one who trusts in man, who depends on flesh for his strength and whose heart turns away from the LORD."

Prov 28:26 (NIV) He who trusts in himself is a fool...

Tomorrow's reading is 2 Samuel 8:15-18, 1 Chronicles 18:14-17, 1 Chronicles 6:16-30, 1 Chronicles 6:50-53, 1 Chronicles 6:31-48, 2 Samuel 9-10:19, and 1 Chronicles 19:1-19.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Friday, April 23 ~ tammi

Today's passages from the One-Year Bible Chronological Reading Plan are 2 Samuel 6:12-23, 1 Chronicles 15:1-16:43

(I'm away this weekend, so this is auto-posted. I apologize if the formatting turns out different from the way it appeared in the preview when I composed it!)

Today we read about David's successful second attempt to bring the Ark of the Covenant back to its rightful place in the temple. After realizing he was obviously not transporting it the way God had instructed, he inquired of the priests to find out how it was supposed to happen. And when they started out again, this time with the ark being properly carried on the shoulders of the priests, there was great cause for celebration and David immediately builds an altar to offer a sacrifice of praise.

And then we come to the well-known part about David dancing naked in the streets and his re-acquired wife Michal being embarrassed. I've always thought she kind of had good reason to be a little ashamed, but it appears most Bible scholars agree David was NOT naked; that he was actually fully clothed, but he was wearing the same thing everyone else was. He didn't stand out as king. He had taken off his royal robes and was dancing with abandon among the priests and commoners. He was simply rejoicing together with the people ~ with "the entire house of Israel," the Bible says. In fact, Michal sort of seems to be the only person not celebrating the return of the ark.

Michal's biting remark after David returns to his home earns her a life of loneliness. By this time, David had several wives and concubines and so whether her barrenness was a divine curse or just that David simply never had marital relations with her again after this point, we don't know. I think it's safe to surmise it was a punishment either way, and that Michal likely led a fairly unhappy existence for the rest of her life.

It's interesting how there are two very different views of David's response to Michal. One commentary (which I should have bookmarked, but forgot to and later couldn't find again!) says David responded with a cutting remark of his own, pointing out that God chose him over Michal's father, Saul. The writer figures he could have been more gracious and left that part out.

Most commentaries, however, focus on the part of his response that points out David wasn't dancing for HER benefit, that he was dancing and singing his praises for God and that he's willing to humiliate himself much further yet, if that's what serving God requires.

There's no doubt about it, David was a man with a very humble attitude towards God, and in his response to Michal, I think the phrase, "...when he appointed me ruler over the LORD's people Israel..." speaks volumes. If he had indeed been responding sarcastically, like that one commentary said, somehow I think he would have also claimed Israel was HIS kingdom, HIS people. But he doesn't. He recognizes himself as the appointed leader, but that the people, the kingdom, belong to God. Somehow that doesn't fit with the idea of a sarcastic reply in my opinion!

David Brings the Ark to Jerusalem by SlavujacThis whole passage makes me wonder how well I "celebrate before the LORD" and to what lengths I'm willing to humble myself to do it.

Tomorrow's passage: 2 Samuel 7:1-8:14, 1 Chronicles 17:1-18:13, Psalm 60.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

April 22nd Thursday-Nicole's posts

Todays readings are so long and all over the place, you can find what was read by going here

I am sorry but I haven't caught up since I was ill with the flu. I am more than a week behind and I did do the reading last night but because I am over a week behind it all meant nothing to me really. I was confused and going back and forth didn't assist :P

So nothing insightful from me I am sorry. I haven't been able to keep up like I had hoped.

Guest Post by Mrs.Oz

Today's reading is from One Year Bible Chronological Reading Plan and is 2 Samuel 3:6-4:3; 2 Samuel 4:5-12

I had a hard time really getting the jist of what was going on in these passages and the previous one. I've had to read over a few times and seek out my John MacArthur study bible notes to help me get it all. There is a lot of activity going on here and the nation of Israel is in quite a state of drama. I agree with Miriam, it would make a great movie.
Abner is the military leader for Saul's army. He was a mighty man and helped put Saul's remaining son, Ish-bosheth on the throne. Quite honestly (and you who have been through the bible chronologically this way before have a benefit on me) I did not really get before that there was a king between Saul and David. So part of this reading was my trying to understand that. David is over Judah and the rest of Israel is under Ish-bosheth and it's caused division and war. Abner is, according to John MacArthur's notes, trying to make his own move for the throne of Saul. I however was confused as to whether he actually DID take the concubine of Saul, or if he was just accused of that by Ish-bosheth but did not do it. My study notes from JM seem to say that he did. "By taking Rizpah, the concubine of Saul, Abner made a clear statement to the people that he would take the place of Saul as king over Israel. Going into the king's concubine was a statement of power and rightful claim to the throne." Does anyone have any further clarity from their study as to whether this actually took place?
We have here such hidden selfish motives, such power plays, I said...DRAMA! It seems like some historical drama movie where there is a king and everyone dancing around him in court has a hidden agenda and a double sided mask to wear. Abner presents the convicition to Ish-bosheth that he should have been supporting David since he knew that God wanted David to be king of all of Israel. He's wearing the sheep's clothing but JM comments: "He selfishly wanted to be on the winning side and to be honored as the one who brought all the people under David's rule." These guys are all just desperate to be teacher's pet to the winning ruler who happens to be around.
Ah.....a break from the drama for a sweet moment when Michal is requested back to David. Bummer for her husband though. I did feel bad for that guy. In these biblical scenes where men seem so unsentimental toward women, it's a little touching that the guy followed her crying. I hope the Lord blessed that pour guy in some great way. (Unless he DOES fit in the drama and had hidden motives for wanting the king's daughter to remain his.....hmm).
It's interesting to note as Joab enters the seen that he is in fact David's nephew. Zeruiah, his mother, was one of David's sisters (1 Chron 2:16). This is important because David proves himself a leader once again to put doing right over favoring family. Joab was angry with Abner for killing his brother Asahel in 2 Sam 2. When Asahel was killed, this was David's nephew, he could very well have been driven by personal vengeance himself. Joab is not happy that Abner has come and met with David, was treated well, and left in peace. In Joab's mind, Abner is not to be trusted and he tells David this. After all, David, we are your family!
Now, I wanted to stop here to observe something, for me and who ever reads. Note the argument for this man Joab. We are given the impression from the scripture that Abner is indeed a man with selfish motives. He may very well HAVE been doing some scoping out. Joab is passionate, his brother who Abner killed in self defence was passionate. They were all men thinking they were doing good things. They had been in battle against Abner and considered him their enemy. Why would it not make sense to kill him? How can David turn from fighting this man to not wanting him taken out? Why would he not want Ish-bosheth taken out as well? Were they not at war with him as well? I thought about that and tried to figure it.
What was different about David? I think the difference was that he did not seek his own, he sought God. When God said to go to battle, he went. However, if God did not say to take out a certain enemy, David waited on the Lord and trusted in Him. All these other men are acting out of fear and selfish passion or motive. This is important because it illustrates to us something of David's clarity. He knew when to be the passionate warrior but when he was it was for God, and on God's terms. He had incredible discernment from the Lord to know when something was of man's heart, and when it was of God's. He had incredible respect for God's timing and did not try to MAKE things happen, even when they would have made sense from a human stand point. A leader cannot make decisions on the whims of man. If he is easily swayed, he is not good leadership material. He has to know from which foundation he sees all things, and from which foundation he makes his decisive moves. He cannot act out of fear or desperation, panic or passion. That was the character of Saul. As the previous post so well stated, it was what made him weak. It was what made men shy from him, he was unsteady, insecure and quite frankly, not to be trusted. He was an emotional time bomb waiting to go off! Irrational and lacking judgement. David is the exact opposite and he holds his men to a high standard. Don't step your toe over the line of what God says to do and assume he also meant to do this or that. David walked a straight line of total dependence on God. His confidence was so sure in Him that he was not deceived by fear and human emotion (well, at least not in this phase of his life, but we all fall down on our journey).
So this story ends with David taking out severe judgement on Rechab and Baanah for the murder of Ish-bosheth. He considered their crime worse than the proclaimed one against Saul. David proved to his people that day that He was a servant of the will of the Lord, not of his own power lusts. His confidence as king was from his confidence in God putting him there, in His way and for His time. He proved his purity and he proved he could not be manipulated.
There are amazing lessons in these passages about the human condition and the importance of obeying God rather than what looks right to men at the time. I think that can give us some of this clarity of thought that David had from the Lord. It removes a great deal of smokey, deceptive mess and clears the air for us to see truth.

Well, it was nice to be in just a few chapters of 2 Samuel for a day! Time to take off on some page flippin' again:)
Tomorrow's readings are: 2 Samuel 5:1-3; 1 Chronicles 11:1-3; 1 Chronicles 12:23-40; 2 Samuel 5:17-25; 1 Chronicles 14:8-17; 2 Samuel 5:6-10; 1 Chronicles 11:4-9; 1 Chronicles 3:4; 2 Samuel 5:13; 2 Samuel 5:4-5; 2 Samuel 5:11-12; 1 Chronicles 14:1-2; 1 Chronicles 13:1-5; 2 Samuel 6:1-11; 1 Chronicles 13:6-14

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Tuesday, April 20 - Miriam

Today's reading from the One Year Bible Chronological Reading Plan  is 2 Sam. 2:1-3:5; 1 Chron. 3:1-4; 2 Sam. 23:8-17; 1 Chron. 11:10-19; 2 Sam. 23:18-39; and 1 Chron. 11:20-47 or for a little less flipping back and forth 2 Sam. 2-3:5; 1 Chron. 3:1-4; 2 Sam. 23:18-39 and 1 Chron. 11:10-47.

Since much of the first reading seems like "more of the same" as what we've been reading lately, I decided to focus on David's Mighty Men for my post.  If you are interested, Profiles in Courage is the commentary I read with regard to 2 Samuel 23 and 1 Chronicles 11.

I was a little confused about why we suddenly jumped to chapter 23 when we had just started 2 Samuel and weren't anywhere near chapter 23 yet.  According to the above-mentioned commentary, Chapter 23 is David's last recorded words.  Probably as he neared death he was remembering past experiences and those who had been with him and fought beside him, particularly the three and the thirty.  While this is recorded in chapter 23, it would have actually taken place earlier, explaining why we're reading it now.

The first thing immediately noticeable is discrepancy in the number of enemies the first of the three killed at one time when you read 1 Chronicles as opposed to 2 Samuel 23.  Here is an excerpt from the commentary:

The first of the “three” mighty men is named Josheb-basshebeth, chief of the captains. He is said to have killed 800 at one time. The parallel account in Chronicles differs somewhat:

These constitute the list of the mighty men whom David had: Jashobeam, the son of a Hachmonite, the chief of the thirty; he lifted up his spear against three hundred whom he killed at one time (1 Chronicles 11:11).

The differences in the names in the two accounts is neither surprising nor great. The numbers differ considerably.  In our text in 2 Samuel, we read that this man killed 800 men at one time; in Chronicles we read that only 300 men were killed. It is difficult to tell which text may have suffered from the error of a copyist, but either way, any man who stands up to several hundred of the enemy and kills all of them in a day is a mighty man of war.

The next thing that I wondered about was why David would pour out the water that his three men brought back for him after they risked their lives to get it. 

When presented with this water, David did what at first seems very unusual – he refused to drink the water, and instead poured it out on the ground. This is not because he disdained the efforts of these courageous men, nor because he did not wish to drink the water. I believe his actions demonstrated that he refused to drink the water because the courage of those who obtained it was too noble to do otherwise. David never intended to put these men’s lives at risk, merely to satisfy his own desires. The kind of devotion his men showed to him was the kind of devotion that belonged to God. Pouring this water out before the Lord was David’s highest expression of appreciation and regard for these men. The water was a symbol of the blood these men nearly shed, serving him. The highest use to which this water could be put was the worship of God, and so David poured it out to the Lord.
I really enjoyed reading about the exploits of Benaiah.  It's the kind of stuff they could easily make a movie about.  Maybe starring some of the actors from 300, perhaps?  He kills a lion, he goes up (with a club) against a 7 1/2-foot-tall Egyptian who's got a spear, and proceeds to finish the guy off with his own spear -- impressive stuff.  Here's something we didn't come across in today's reading:

The amazing thing about Benaiah is that he was the son of a levitical priest:

The third commander of the army for the third month was Benaiah, the son of Jehoiada the priest, as chief; and in his division were 24,000 (1 Chronicles 27:5).

We would not expect a levitical priest to take on lion-like men and real live lions. Here was a priest willing to dirty his hands and put his faith into practice. Perhaps it was as a reward for his faithful service that David put him in charge of his bodyguard, commanding the Cherethites and the Pelethites (2 Samuel 8:18; 20:23).

We are not told any details about the heroism of this list of men in verses 24-39, but Bergen has pointed out some interesting facts about these men as a group. Perhaps all but twelve of these men were Judahites. At least three came from Benjamin. Another two came from Ephraim. One man may be from Dan, and another from the tribe of Gad. Three of the cities of origin are not mentioned elsewhere, and two are the name of more than one place. Three (including Uriah) were Gentiles. Once again we find Gentiles playing a part in God’s salvation of His people. It looks to me as though a number of those named here are men who joined David early in his public life, before he had become king and while he was fleeing from Saul.  (The Bergen he refers to is Robert D. Bergen, author of The New American Commentary: An Exegetical and Theological Exposition of Holy Scripture, NIV Text: 1, 2 Samuel.)

The conclusion portion of the commentary is very long, but here are some points that I found interesting:

As I read the account of Saul’s leadership over Israel, he was dependent upon mercenaries (1 Samuel 14:52). There do not seem to be groups similar to David’s “Three” and his “Thirty.” Why not? I would suggest that Saul lacked the “courage” of David and the ability to attract and inspire “mighty men of valor.” Saul’s father is said to have been such a man (1 Samuel 9:1), but I do not see this said of Saul himself. When Goliath mocked the people of Israel and their God, we do not see Saul stepping forward to silence him, nor do we find any of his followers willing to do so either. When Saul shrunk back from challenges, so did his men (see 1 Samuel 17:11, 24). Saul’s men seem more likely to desert than to stand tall (see 1 Samuel 13:5-7).

David was a man of courage. When a lion or a bear threatened his father’s flock, he refused to allow any losses. When Goliath blasphemed the name of God, David did battle with him and killed him. David constantly proved himself to be a man of courage. Is it any wonder he attracted like-minded men? The man who stood up to Goliath was surrounded with courageous men who would gladly take on Goliath’s descendants (see 2 Samuel 21:15-22). Courage inspires courage, and David was a man of courage. No wonder we find so many heroes among those closest to him.

Heroes emerge in times of crisis.
Heroes emerge when others fear and fail.
Heroes have been prepared and predisposed to their heroism by their way of life.  Those who stand fast in times of crisis are those who have learned to trust and obey in the normal times of life.
Heroes are willing to die, if need be.
Heroes work and train very hard, but in the end they look to God for the victory. The victories these men won were humanly impossible. The author makes it very clear that in the final analysis, it is God who gave the victory.
Heroes go above and beyond the call of duty, out of faith, loyalty, and love. True heroes seek to do that which pleases those in authority over them; they are not only compelled by their duty, but also by their desire to please the one they serve.
Heroes emerge where heroism is modeled, valued, and rewarded. David modeled courage in his own personal life, he valued and rewarded it in those around him. It is little wonder that heroes emerged in such an atmosphere, or that it did not in other times (like those of Saul).

I noticed, as I copied some of the "heroes" quotes from the commentary, that some of them are remarkably applicable to parenting as well. 
We need to teach our children to trust and obey in the normal times of life so that they can stand firm when times of crisis arrive, as they certainly will. 
We need to train them to work hard and give their best efforts, but remember that God gave them their talents and abilities and ultimately anything we accomplish is thanks to him, even if it isn't something humanly impossible like killing 300 warriors all by themselves. 
We need to teach them to have respect for those in authority over them, so that they will desire to please the ones they serve with faith, loyalty and love (speaking selfishly, especially their parents!). 
We need to model good morals and standards for them, show them that we value them, and reward their efforts.

Tomorrow's reading is 2 Samuel 3:6 - 4:12 (excluding chapter 4:4).

Sunday, April 18, 2010

April 18 - guest post by Pamela

Again, sorry for the late post!!

Today's readings are from the One Year Chronological Reading Plan are: 1 SAMUEL 26:1-27:7, 1 CHRONICLES 12:1-7, 1 SAMUEL 27:8-29:11, 1 CHRONICLES 12:19 & PSALM 56

Scripture: Psalm 56: 4-6

4 In God, whose word I praise,
in God I trust; I will not be afraid.
What can mortal man do to me?

5 All day long they twist my words;
they are always plotting to harm me.

6 They conspire, they lurk,
they watch my steps,
eager to take my life.

I also like "The Message" translation:

4-6 I'm proud to praise God;
fearless now, I trust in God.
What can mere mortals do?
They don't let up—
they smear my reputation
and huddle to plot my collapse.
They gang up,
sneak together through the alleys
To take me by surprise,
wait their chance to get me.

Observation: I will not be afraid of anyone on Earth because I trust that God is in control.

Application: Recently, my daughter came home from school and told me that someone at school had called her a loser. (Boy... did that ever make my momma claws come out!) She told me the story, which was that a new girl to the school has decided to adopt one of my daughter's close friends as her best friend. Not being of the sharing type, this girl proceeded to tell this friend (and anyone else who would listen) that my daughter is a loser and that no one should want to play with her. Thankfully, my daughter's friends have all decided to not listen to this girl and one of them even told my daughter that she didn't believe her anyway and told my daughter what was being said about her. This passage really made me think of this situation. I realize that Kezia is not fearing for her life as David was, but as The Message translation adds, it may not be her life, but Kezia's reputation is under attack. Feeling that everyone is against you, or that everyone thinks that you are a loser, can be hurtful. We can't control what others do, but we can control our response to their actions. In today's readings we learn that David had the motive and the opportunity to kill Saul and yet he chose not to. What a difficult decision that must have been. To be in that cave and within striking distance of someone intending to destroy you must have been a heart pounding moment. Yet David had full trust in God and he was not afraid. David had a choice to make. How would he react to Saul's actions? Kezia has a choice to make. How will she react to her peer's actions? We all have a choice to make. When someone wrongs us or hurts us... how will we react? Will we choose to seek revenge and take matters into our own hands and or will we show mercy as David did when he fully trusted God to end or extend Saul's life?

Prayer: Dear Lord, You are an amazing God. We strive to be like you, Lord, and yet we always fall short. Lord, thank you for today's lesson. We need to learn that even though we can't control what others do, we can control how we react. Lord, help us to act in a way that You would. Let others be drawn to You by what they see in us. Help us to not hold grudges, be quick to anger, or seek revenge on those who wrong us. This does not come easy to us and we need Your help to succeed. In Your name, Amen.

Tomorrow's readings are 1 Samuel 30:1-31; 1 Chronicles 12:20-22; 1 Samuel 31:1-13; 1 Chronicles 10:1-14; 1 Chronicles 9:40-44; 2 Samuel 4:4; 2 Samuel 1:1-27

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Guest Post By Mrs. Oz, Who's a Little Confussed:)

This reading is from the One Year Chronological Reading Plan is 1 Samuel 23:13-29, Psalm 54, 1 Samuel 24-25
NOTE: So sorry! I'm way off here. I just wrote all this and realized that this passage is for Saturday (today) and no one posted a post for today so that threw me off. I all ready wrote it though and I'm honestly not feeling well enough to read, study and write on what is truly Sunday's passages (1 Samuel 26-27:7; 1 Chronicles 12:1-7; 1 Samuel 27:8-29:11; 1 Chronicles 12:19; Psalm 56 ). So if you want to share anything for those you can comment that here too. I'll try to double check next time in case a day has been missed. I'll blame it on my head cold like I have been a lot of things today lol:) NOW, if someone gets on here TODAY and writes a VERY LATE Saturday post then I'll really have egg on my face! (at least it's good for my humility complexion:)

So, here is one for Saturday's readings! Ha.
The men said, "This is the day the LORD spoke of when he said to you, 'I will give your enemy into your hands for you to deal with as you wish.' "
It's interesting how many people assume what the Lord's will is in these passages. We've seen Saul use the Lords name in his dealings as well and we know what he was doing was not blessed of the Lord. David is a true leader, he does not let men define God for Him, he goes to God for that and is careful to listen to conviction from God. "Afterward, David was conscience-stricken for having cut off a corner of his robe." He almost believed the men because it did all line up circumstantially didn't it!? His conviction is that God is the judge of Saul and will bring about his will with him. His heart was bent on being a God-pleaser not a man-pleaser. "The LORD forbid that I should do such a thing to my master, the LORD's anointed, or lift my hand against him; for he is the anointed of the LORD." Even the men with him were good faithful men, yet what they said was not right upon examination.
I think David's attitude toward Saul is amazing at this moment. How many times we are tempted to vent disrespectfully for one in authority whom God has put over us. We may totally disagree and they may be legitimately ungodly in many of their ways but that is a different matter than taking vengeful attitude or action toward them. Our very lives are not even threatened as David's was. Still, when he has the opportunity to save himself he remembers that the Lord brings a man up and HE will bring him down when it's God's timing. This was a great deal harder than it sounds. David's submission looks like it's to Saul but it really is to God. He chooses not to work to make things happen, he chooses to faithfully wait on the Lord.
Saul is broken as a result. He seems to have an emotional let down. One starts to really see that all his anger and venting have really been anger at himself for not obeying God. He knows perfectly well of David's innocence and loyalty, he has been taking his own issues out on David.
Chapter 25 is a beautiful story. I'm not sure exactly why (I have a bad head cold and my head is full of fluff so my deep thoughts are rather rare this evening), perhaps you had some observations to share. I think I just love Abigail. She was noble enough to know when a woman should take matters into her own hands. She even goes so far as to call her husband "worthless". This is not a disrespectfull woman disin' her husband, she has been put to the point of choosing what was right over following the wrong her husband did. She, in great integrity asks to bear the responsibility for the lack of care David and his men have been shown. You can almost see and hear the respect in David's observance of her. Her husband gets his due when he is struck with what seems to be a heart attack and dies 10 days later. David asks for her to marry him and it makes a sweet little ending to the story.
At the very end of the passages we find out something sad. Michal has been given to another man! What?! How awful. It let's us see how continually awful Saul has been on every level. We are heartbroken hearing this knowing that Michal loved David so. We will hear the end of this soon however. Although I cannot imagine in my little world view, a decent man loving more than one woman, he truly does seem to love them.
Tomorrow's (Monday's) readings are 1 Samuel 30:1-31; 1 Chronicles 12:20-22; 1 Samuel 31:1-13; 1 Chronicles 10:1-14; 1 Chronicles 9:40-44; 2 Samuel 4:4; 2 Samuel 1:1-27

While we are discussing confusion, can everyone confirm the days they are filling in? I think I'm doing the 21st but I never got confirmation of that. I don't want to mess things up even more.

Friday, April 16, 2010

April 16th

Today's reading from the One Year Chronological Reading Plan is 1 Samuel 22:1-2, Psalm 57, Psalm 142, 1 Chronicles 12:8-18, 1 Samuel 22:3-23, Psalm 52 and 1 Samuel 23:1-12. The version with less flipping would be 1 Samuel 22:1-23:12, 1 Chronicles 12:8-18, Psalm 52, 57 and 142.

Even though we were all over the place today, I really enjoyed reading it chronologically. I definitely get more out of the Psalms readings when I read them in context.

I'm actually writing this post on the 14th in the midst of packing, laundry, etc to get ready for our trip tomorrow. So, this will be fairly short.

Oh how I loathed Saul for ordering the killing of the 85 priests who helped David! To sink so low as to kill priests is just mindboggling.

One point perhaps worth mentioning, is that David lies to the priests before they help him (1 Samuel 21:2) - perhaps his lie had a much higher cost than he anticipated! I have a feeling the priests likely would've still helped David if he had told them the truth (that he was running from King Saul) because they definitely thought highly of him, so perhaps the outcome would've been the same, but the lie definitely contributed to Saul thinking the priests were conspiring with David against him.

I also found myself angry at the people of Keilah. David just risked his life and the lives of his men to rescue them from the Philistines - and they would've turned him over to Saul in a heartbeat. There's gratitude for ya!

The depths we can fall in the face of pride and fear is truly scary. I think this is why daily studying the Word is so important. It helps us to keep our eyes on Jesus, it helps to reveal "small" sins that can so quickly turn huge, it keeps our hearts soft to the Spirit's nudging us on areas we need to work on.

Tomorrow's passage: 1 Samuel 23:13-29, Psalm 54, 1 Samuel 24-25

Thursday, April 15, 2010

April 15th

Today's reading from the One Year Chronological Reading Plan is 1 Samuel 20-21, Psalm 34.

Nicole got quite sick today and was unable to write the post. Get better soon Nic!

One thing that jumped out at me about today's passage was loyalty.

Jonathan was loyal to his father, King Saul.

Jonathan was loyal to his friend, David.

Jonathan was loyal to God.

Jonathan's loyalty to God was what gave him wisdom in dealing with his relationships with his father and his friend when the two conflicted with each other. Because he was loyal to God, he was able to do the right thing, to choose which earthly loyalty would "win".

What an amazing friend Jonathan was. He had the courage to stand up for his friend in front of his father - which resulted in his father throwing a spear at him! He was honest, he was faithful, he did what was right even when it was difficult, he relied on God. He was not jealous of David taking the kingship from him - he helped him!

I want to be that kind of friend!

I really like this Psalm as well. 2 of the verses are on the Seeds Family Worship cd's, which I love!

The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit. (v18) What a wonderful promise!!

Tomorrow's passage: 1 Samuel 22:1-2, Psalm 57, Psalm 142, 1 Chronicles 12:8-18, 1 Samuel 22:3-23, Psalm 52 and 1 Samuel 23:1-12

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

April 14th

Today's reading from the One Year Chronological Reading Plan is 1 Samuel 17:32-19:17, Psalm 59 and 1 Samuel 19:18-24. Click here to read.

This passage truly shows what kind of boy/man David was.

I absolutely love the speech he gives to Goliath and the Philistines (and perhaps to the waiting Israelites as well!), clearly proclaiming the power of God, and giving God the glory for winning the battle that hadn't even started yet. What absolute faith he had. Incredible. And, of course, God does just that through his willing servant.

Are we willing to be used by God for His glory? Are we absolutely confident in God?

I also love how humble David continues to be, despite his growing accolades, despite the love of the crowds and their chants. Even though he knows he has been annointed as the next king, he serves King Saul, and doesn't try to further his own agenda. He waits patiently for God's timing. And serves while waiting!

I don't know about you, but I have trouble waiting patiently, nevermind serving while waiting patiently!

The Psalm was a great reminder of David's trust in God, that his enemies would be defeated in God's time, and that God was his fortress, refuge and strength. A great reminder for us to turn to God, even when things are going contrary to plan, or to what we think God's plan is or should be for us.

Tomorrow's passage: 1 Samuel 20-21, Psalm 34

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Tuesday, April 13 - Miriam

Today's reading from the One Year Chronological Reading Plan is 1 Samuel 15-17:31.  Click here to read.

Wow, is there ever a lot in today's reading.  So much stood out to me today that I haven't looked up commentaries.  These are the things that  I saw in today's reading.

1)  Saul's disobedience to God and then trying to "put a good face on it". 
God specifically gave instructions that the Amalekites and everything belonging to them was to be totally destroyed.  Saul disobeyed God's instructions and then tried to make it seem like he had done this in order to make sacrifices to God, which was, of course, a lie.  I come from a family of frugal people, and I fully understand that it seems a shame to let perfectly good and healthy livestock go to waste by killing them just because they belonged to the Amalekites.  It's understandable that they wouldn't have wanted to just needlessly destroy them.  Understandable, but still disobedient.  Consequently, God rejected Saul as king.  

2) Samuel mourned for Saul and God was grieved. 
Parts of this passage make it sound as though God regretted the decision to make Saul king in the first place, however we know that God knew in advance the choices Saul would make and the sins he would commit. Perhaps to demonstrate clearly to Israel their folly in wanting a king in the first place? To show how quickly one can become arrogant and rebellious when one believes he or she knows what the right thing is better than the word of the Lord? Saul started out shrinking away from leading the Israelites as their king, but once he saw what he was able to do (forgetting that it was the Spirit of the Lord that did it through him) he fell into the trap of pride that Tammy talked about in yesterday's post.  As we've said before, we aren't privy to God's plans or reasons for doing things, and as humans we aren't capable of understanding it all anyway, so questioning how everything fits together is often the wrong question to be asking.  I think a better question is what we can learn from the particular story, rather than how it all fit together in the great scheme of things.  There is much to be learned from the story of Saul, even if we don't fully understand why God made him king in the first place when he knew that he would be grieved by Saul's disobedience and sin.

3)  God knows our hearts. 
This is the main reason I find Saul's quick pretense that he'd kept the choicest livestock alive in order to sacrifice them to God so silly.  God knows our motivations.  We can't get away with justifying something we know is wrong by saying it was for a good reason.  The correlation that came to my mind was doing something obviously sinful and claiming it was in order to make more money so you would have more to give to the church.  Selling drugs, for example.  This is a pretty extreme example, I'll admit.  How about working overtime and not spending time with your family?  Not REALLY a sin, per se, but not what you know you should be doing.  "But hey," you think to yourself, "the more money I make, the more I can give to the church or support a missionary or a foster child."  I love 1 Samuel 16:7 - But the LORD said to Samuel, "Do not consider his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him. The LORD does not look at the things man looks at. Man looks at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart."  So often we just look at outward appearance and assume things about people.  Wouldn't life be a lot easier in some ways if appearance reflected character?  But the Lord looks at the heart.  The Lord sees your motivations and He always knows the truth.  He is the only one who has the right to judge us.

4)  David serves the man he will ultimately replace. 
How amazing is it that the very man (or boy) Saul's servants recommend to him to ease his suffering from the evil spirit is the man that was anointed by Samuel to be the next king?  Not to get ahead of the story, but the fact that David was the one who helped him when he was troubled and later became best friends with his son makes it even more onerous the way he treated David later out of jealousy.  But anyway, I found it interesting that it says the evil spirit was from the Lord.  We tend to think that angels to God's bidding and evil spirits do Satan's bidding, but we must always remember that God is omnipotent and controls ALL things.
5)  The giants of life.
Goliath was a literal giant, of course.  The text says he was over 9 feet tall!  It's difficult for me to imagine what that would look like.  One of the tallest people I've met in real life is 6'5" or so, and he seemed really tall to me.  I can't fathom what it would be like to look up at someone more than half again as tall as I am.  I imagine it would look something like a little person standing next to an NBA star.  Anyway, we all have things in our lives that seem like they're too big for us to handle.  They seem to mock us, saying "What do you think you're gonna do about me?  Bring it on!"  The best part of this story comes later, of course, but David gives an interesting response here when he first sees Goliath and the way he is defying God and the Israelites.  "Who is this uncircumcised Philistine that he should defy the armies of the living God?"  Goliath, giant or not, was not on the side of God.  David, a shepherd and the youngest of his brothers, may have seemed like the "least of these" but he had the Spirit of God with him and he knew that if God was for them, no one could stand against them.
Tomorrow's reading is 1 Samuel 17:32-19:17, Psalm 59 and 1 Samuel 19:18-24.  Click here to read.

Monday, April 12, 2010

April 12th

Today's reading from the One Year Chronological Reading Plan is 1 Chronicles 9:35-39, 1 Samuel 13:1-5, 13:19-23, 13:6-18 and 14:1-52

Commentaries on today's passages:
Saul Sacrifices His Kingdom (1 Samuel 13:1-14)
Saul, Jonathan and the Philistines (1 Samuel 13:15-14:15)
Saul Fights the Philistines (1 samuel 14:16-52)

What a difference between Saul and his son Jonathan.

After Saul's righteous anger resulting in him mustering the army, defeating the Ammonites and becoming crowned as King (in yesterday's readings) - it's pretty much downhill from there.

Saul doesn't wait for Samuel and disobediently offers a sacrifice to the Lord, he takes credit for Jonathan's victories, he doesn't want to fight the Philistines, he makes rash oathes (possibly wanting to be rid of Jonathan for the same reason as he later wants to be rid of David - jealousy and insecurity) and foolish decisions.

Jonathan, on the other hand, puts his faith and trust in God, and follows up that faith with active obedience.

Saul is not an "evil" man. He allows his struggles with normal human weakness and sin (pride, jealousy, insecurity) to become his downfall. He does not go to God with his weakness. He does not confess his sin - instead, he rationalizes and excuses it.

All of which is completely applicable to us today. Are we allowing pride, jealousy or anything else to gain a foothold in our lives? Sin tends to sneak up on us (often following great victories, like Saul). And it's amazing how quickly footholds can become strongholds. How quickly we can harden our hearts to the sin we try to justify. We cannot allow our pride or anything else, to stop us from confessing our sin to God.

Instead, let us be like David, Saul's successor, who confessed his sin (and they were big ones - adultery and murder!) and turned to God.

Psalm 51
Have mercy on me, O God,
according to your unfailing love;
according to your great compassion
blot out my transgressions.

Wash away all my iniquity
and cleanse me from my sin.

For I know my transgressions,
and my sin is always before me.

Against you, you only, have I sinned
and done what is evil in your sight,
so that you are proved right when you speak
and justified when you judge.

Surely I was sinful at birth,
sinful from the time my mother conceived me.

Surely you desire truth in the inner parts;
you teach me wisdom in the inmost place.

Cleanse me with hyssop, and I will be clean;
wash me, and I will be whiter than snow.

Let me hear joy and gladness;
let the bones you have crushed rejoice.

Hide your face from my sins
and blot out all my iniquity.

Create in me a pure heart, O God,
and renew a steadfast spirit within me.

Do not cast me from your presence
or take your Holy Spirit from me.

Restore to me the joy of your salvation
and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me.

Then I will teach transgressors your ways,
and sinners will turn back to you.

Save me from bloodguilt, O God,
the God who saves me,
and my tongue will sing of your righteousness.

O Lord, open my lips,
and my mouth will declare your praise.

You do not delight in sacrifice, or I would bring it;
you do not take pleasure in burnt offerings.

The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit;
a broken and contrite heart,
O God, you will not despise.

In your good pleasure make Zion prosper;
build up the walls of Jerusalem.

Then there will be righteous sacrifices,
whole burnt offerings to delight you;
then bulls will be offered on your altar.

Tomorrow's passage: 1 Samuel 15:1-17:31

Sunday, April 11, 2010

April 11- Guest Post By Mrs.Oz

Today's reading from the One Year Chronological Reading Plan is 1 Samuel 9-12.

Be careful what you wish for cause you just might get it....

These passages of scripture are both extraordinary and depressing. They are extraordinary in the sense that God's omniscient character is displayed. He tells Samuel so many details not only about who is coming, but what to tell Saul when he departs.
"Then you will go on from there until you reach the great tree of Tabor. Three men going up to God at Bethel will meet you there. One will be carrying three young goats, another three loaves of bread, and another a skin of wine. They will greet you and offer you two loaves of bread, which you will accept from them.
"After that you will go to Gibeah of God, where there is a Philistine outpost. As you approach the town, you will meet a procession of prophets coming down from the high place with lyres, tambourines, flutes and harps being played before them, and they will be prophesying. 6 The Spirit of the LORD will come upon you in power, and you will prophesy with them; and you will be changed into a different person."

Top this with the casting of lots and you just get one good dose of God's orchestrating things. I just love when we get a spotlight on that fact because we sometimes forget in our human state of uncertainty that every second, every detail, all is known by God.
God also does one of His regulars, a man who comes from the least of men. I like this too because it's as if He's saying "okay, if we are going to do this, it's going to be my way." He will choose and he will bring one that has to be powerfully moved and filled with the Spirit of God. The power will still come from the Almighty. Man is not allowed to glory in his strength. Isn't it true that even when we think we've taken control, we really havn't at all.

Still, at the same time there is sadness in me when I read that God's strength, protection, might, and guidance were not enough for them even though they had it on the most intimate level any group of humanity has ever had. We can have God himself (that which we really need) and still be discontent because our sin nature does not know how to respond, respect and recognize this, let alone submit to it joyfully. Oh, again, as through the law, we see our need for our precious Savior to come.
There is part of me that wonders through this part (chapter 10) why God is giving in to the people? Like a father that has been hounded and annoyed by the whining of his children, he seems to be bending. But can God bend, can he give in, and does this mean he has weakness? This is quite another mystery up with predestination, hardening and softening of hearts, our part and God's part working together, etc. Here we have God giving in to man but the fact is that it's all part of His plan. It's what he knew would happen, and what he would use to bring about His perfect will. In fact all of history with it's dark, light, good, bad, ups, downs, IS...if you believe in the full sovereignty of God, part of the working of his plan for His glory. I feel as though I'm side stepping into doctrine though and I don't mean to take that glorious rabbit trail. I'm just letting you see where my thoughts went in the reading.
Yes, the Spirit of the Lord has been given to Saul now. John MacArthur does indeed say this is the Holy Spirit coming upon Saul. Yet, right away we see a first glimpse into his human weakness and cowardice. After all these amazing things, Samuel, the signs, being called from among the least of the Tribes of Judah, our hero is hiding in the military supplies and luggage! Can you imagine what Samuel was thinking at this moment? "Really Lord? THIS is your brave leader? Really?" Yet, his response is to point out to the people that he is indeed chosen and there is none among the people like him. LONG live the king!
There is something so anticlimactic here though. He tells them they have rejected their God. They have not been happy with the way God wanted things to be. They have cried out for something THEY wanted, not what God wanted for them. So, here he is, the special tall chosen one hiding in the baggage! Long live the king, let me right this down, you got what you want, now go home! He must have walked home himself chatting with the Lord with something like "well, this should be interesting." More than that, let's join the beginning of this scene with the ending!? "You have rejected God".....and you're still cheering!? There is something wrong with this picture.
Still, BACK to the extraordinary....
Chapter 11 find us a different Saul. The Spirit once again is upon him and he is fearless of the enemies of Israel! The weakling is but a vessel for God to work. He leads him to demand that the people rise up against the Ammonites. He definitely takes on the strong leadership role here. They go up against their enemy and they have success. The people, who are passionate and despair when things go wrong, are passionate and hot blooded with it goes right as well. They question Samuel "who questions whether this man should be our king? where are those men? we should kill them!". They are SO stoked that their enemies have been conquered they are emotional believers for sure. Samuel tells them that there will be no killing (thank goodness they are still listening to Samuel here) out of motivation to show devotion to any man, FOR THE LORD HAS ACCOMPLISHED DELIVERANCE IN ISRAEL! The people wanted a person to tell them what to do, but God is totally holding the strings of every man.
This all makes me think of Prov 21:1
The king's heart is like channels of water in the hand of the LORD;He turns it wherever He wishes.

and all I can say is ....THANK GOODNESS!

Tomorrow's reading is 1 Chronicles 9:35-39, 1 Samuel 13:1-5, 13:19-23, 13:6-18 and 14:1-52

Saturday, April 10, 2010

April 10th

Today's reading in the One Year Chronological Reading Plan is 1 Samuel 4:12-8:22.

Commentaries for today's readings
The Hands of Dagon and the Hand of God (1 Samuel 5-7)
Give Us a King! (1 Samuel 8)

The first couple chapters in today's readings are sure head-shakers. What could they possibly be thinking?

The Israelites had begun to view the ark as a good luck charm instead of the symbol of God's presence. It had become an idol.

When the Philistines capture the ark after God refused to act like a genie, they place it next to their god Dagon in triumph. That triumph was short lived when they came in and saw their god lying face down in the dust. They likely tried to explain that away and secured that puppy real good so it wouldn't happen again. Didn't work. The next morning, not only is Dagon face down in the dust, but his head and hands are broken right off.

I ask you - what kind of god needs repairs?! How could people be so foolish as to worship something that can't talk, can't move, can't protect itself and needs to be brought in to the repair shop? Ludicrous!

After plagues and whatnot that can't be explained away, they realize they need to get rid of this ark. Of course, appeasing God with idols isn't going to work. They devise a test by yoking the ark to two mother cows that are still nursing calves. If there was nothing supernatural involved, those cows would go straight to their calves, not head off down the road to Beth Shemesh. Well, God's power over-rides nature, and the Philistines scientific experiment proves that this was all the result of God's power.

Well, after conducting such a grand scientific experiment, do they go where the evidence lies? No, they do not. They do not begin to worship God, they return to their useless god in the repair shop.

So often society now does the same thing. They say they want evidence of God, but when the evidence points to God, they still don't follow it.

But then the Israelites, who should know better, are punished as well because they still do not respect the holiness of the symbol of God's presence.

In order or the Israelites to realize the ark is not an idol nor a good luck charm, the ark is "put into storage" so to speak, and Samuel implore the people to repent and worship ONLY God. They do, and God defeats the Philistines.

Which results in them wanting God to be their only leader right?


It results in them wanting a King to lead them, just like all the other nations around them. Wanting to be just like all the other nations around them is exactly what got them into all this mess to begin with. Apparently they just don't learn.

Let's not make the same mistake.

Tomorrow's readings: 1 Samuel 9-12

Friday, April 9, 2010

Friday, April 9 ~ tammi

Today's passage from the One-Year Bible Chronological Reading Plan is I Samuel 1:9 - 4:11. Read online here.

Another of my favourite passages! How is it I get so lucky?! My first daughter is named after the woman featured at the beginning of this passage. You know why? Because through thick and thin, Hannah had a strong, unwavering relationship with God and that's my prayer for my daughter.

Hannah talked to God, she sought God, and she honoured the vows she made to God at any cost, including giving her son to the priesthood at a VERY young age. To only see your son only once a year (or even a few more times, for those who argue the term "yearly" here isn't referring to a literal 365 days, but rather to "regularly throughout the year" ~ it's still not the same has having your kid at home!!) from the time he's around 4 years old is rather unimagineable! This woman was SOLD OUT for God!!

I love John MacArthur's examination of Hannah, calling her a "portrait of feminine grace" in his book Twelve Extraordinary Women. (I'd encourage any woman with a heart for God to pick up the book!) Though she almost always makes it into books about the Bible's famous women, Hannah is NOT among the ancestors of Christ like all the others. Sarah, Rebekah, Rachel, Rahab, Ruth, and even Tamar are all part of Jesus' lineage, but Hannah is not. Her famous dedicatory prayer, however, is a messianic hymn, and interestingly, Mary's Magnificat in Luke 1 follows it fairly closely in form and content. Clearly, Hannah's hope was firmly established in God. (I guess Abigail ~ whom my second daughter is named for ~ would be the other notable exception to the above list of famous OT women.)

Hannah obviously suffered the torment of having to share her husband with a woman who despised her, and worse, was able to bear children when she wasn't in a society and culture where children were marks of worth and success. But still, Hannah's hope remained steadfast, her relationship with God wasn't shaken, and she was rewarded not only with the birth of Samuel, but 2:21 says, "God was gracious to Hannah; she conceived and gave birth to three sons and two daughters" after Samuel was already living in the temple.

"Her extraordinary life," says MacArthur, "stands as a wonderful example to women today who want their homes to be places where God is honored, even in the midst of a dark and sinful culture. Hannah showed us what the Lord can do through one woman totally and unreservedly devoted to Him." (p. 105)

And then also in this passage we have the amazing call of Samuel when he was only very young. We see the extreme corruption of Eli's sons, Hophni and Phinehas, and God's design to replace them with Hannah's humble, gracious sacrifice. This is also the beginning of the end of an era in Israel. For the last almost 400 years, they've been governed by judges; Samuel is the last one. He's also the first major prophet since Moses. He's the transition from Israel's theocratic system of leadership to the monarchy system that began with Saul.

I love 3:19 ~ "The LORD was with Samuel as he grew up, and he let none of his words fall to the ground." What a loaded verse!

This commentary says,

a. The Lord was with him: Is there anything better than this? To have, and to know you have, the Lord with you? For the Christian, we can know we have God with us: If God is for us, who can be against us? (Romans 8:31)

  1. William Newell, in his commentary on Romans, speaks well to this point: “Our weak hearts, prone to legalism and unbelief, receive these words with great difficulty: God is for us . . . They have failed Him; but He is for them. They are ignorant; but He is for them. They have not yet brought forth much fruit; but He is for them.” God is not for us because we are so good, or so great, but because of who we are in Jesus. God is for you. God is with you, even if you are not as good as Samuel, because you have given to you the goodness of Jesus.

b. Let none of his words fall to the ground: This means ALL of Samuel’s prophecies came to pass, and were known to be true words from God. Therefore, all Israel . . . knew that Samuel had been established as a prophet of the Lord.

  1. Since the days of Moses there have not been many prophets in Israel, and certainly no great prophets. Now, at this important time in Israel’s history, God raises up Samuel as a prophet.
  2. Coming in this place in Israel’s history, Samuel is rightly seen as Israel’s last judge and first prophet. Samuel bridges the gap between the time of the judges, and the time of the monarchy when prophets (such as Nathan, Elijah, and Isaiah) spiritually influenced the nation.
  3. Through the book of judges, when God raised up a judge, he led the nation mostly through political and military influence. Samuel, as a judge, mainly led the nation by his spiritual influence.
Wow, that's just an examination of ONE verse!! There's just SO much going on in today's passage! So much food for thought and inspiration and encouragement! I hope you found it that way, too.

Butterfly watching

Tomorrow's passage: I Samuel 4:12 - 8:22.