Thursday, February 25, 2010

I Kings Chapters 13-15

13:1 - Sorry guys, we know nothing about this man except that he is: male, a man of God and from Judah.

13:18 - When people know the truth of God, it is their responsibility to live by that. Yes, the man of God is lied to by the old prophet (Who I guess is testing him?), but the man also knows what God has told him and he should have stuck to the truth he knew...not the word of another human being. This is a great lesson for all of us. We must be discerning in what we it to the word of God's wisdom in prayer, because we are the only people responsible for our actions.

13:24-25 - There is some really cool symbology here. At the beginning of the chapter we see Jeroboam standing helpless beside his false altar that God these verses we see the donkey standing dumbly beside the body of the dead man of God, not knowing what to do. Jeroboam is the picture of a dumb animal. Then we have the lion who kills the man of God as God instructs him to, but does not eat the body. The lion stands beside flesh that it probably longs to devour, but the lion stays true to the instructions of God unlike the man from Judah. The moral of this story? Be a lion, not a donkey. Stand by the word of God and let His instructions guide your life - if you don't you'll end up on the side of the road in this life, lost and having no idea where to go next.

13:29-31 - The old man treats the prophets body with a great deal of respect, even instructing his sons to bury them together when he dies (I'm sure he has got to feel a little guilty about the lie!). This also gives us hope. Yeah, the man of God disobeyed Him and paid the price, but there is still hope for his soul. You and I will feel the sting of consequences when we reject the way of God, but His mercy is more vast than we could ever imagine.

14:10 - God rips the kingdom away from the house of David and gives Jeroboam a chance to make things right...a chance to lead as a man humble before God, but he allows pride and jealousy to lead him away from God. He brings destruction down on his entire household.

14:15-16 - Jeroboam instead of cleaning up Israel actually takes them another notch down. He introduces Asherah poles (phallic, fertility symbols of pagan Canaanite Baal worship - Asherah was, in theory only, the wife of El (chief Canaanite god) and the mother of Baal) and brings a pagan scourge into Israel that plagues the kingdom throughout their history. That is his legacy! What is mine?

14:29 - At the same time this is all going on, Rehoboam is doing a little terrible leading of his own. He introduces the kingdom of Judah to all the Canaanite idols. They go so far as to welcome in the Canaanite cult prostitution program where you can get whatever you want - male or female. Judah is becoming like Sodom. Again, what a legacy.

15:3 - This verse becomes a haunting theme in the history of the Hebrew kings. I wonder what are some of the haunting themes of western church leaders today. "And he walked in the way of materialism, making excuses for his congregations maniacal spending." "He walked in the ways of the world, allowing the message of Jesus Christ to be drown out by the promise of comfort." What do you think?

15:11ff - Asa is like finding an oasis in the middle of a desert! Finally a king who has the guts to stand up and fight for the honor of God. He starts cleaning house - even willing to kick his grandmother out of her position of power because she is heading up the pagan cult worship. Do you and I have the strength to stand up and speak out against the forces in this world that are directly opposed to the way of Jesus and the heart of God?

15:29 - Just like was prophesied to the wife of Jeroboam, ever living member of his family is butchered. The only person in his household that received an honorable burial, was the sick boy who the country mourned in chapter 14. That boy has found a better home and a father who will not teach him the ways of evil.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

I Kings Chapters 10-12

10:1 and 9 - People see the wisdom and success of Solomon and they are drawn to him. Once they come in contact with Solomon, they see that the Lord is at work in his life. God's name is made great through Solomon's wisdom and Israel's prosperity. I would hope for each of us that when people come in contact with our lives, that they will walk away knowing that God has made a difference.

10:19 - We can clearly see the seeds of destruction are being sown into the reign of Solomon. The wealth that Israel is acquiring is not in itself evil - remember, it is from God. But Solomon uses that wealth to bring honor to himself. He constructs a huge throne of ivory and gold. The Throne has six steps which implies that it has seven levels in total. The pagan empires around the Israelite built their thrones and temples with seven levels because it represented rule over the cosmos. Solomon's ego has started to grow out of control. When you are only being told how wise and incredible you are all the time - it has got to be hard to stay humble (Not that I would know much about being called wise and incredible all the time). Solomon needed somebody in his life who could bring him down a few pegs - you better have people like that around you too.

Wealth - What are we supposed to believe when it comes to wealth. It was a sign of God's protection and provision in the Old Testament, and in the New Testament it is something to be given away at all costs (i.e. rich young ruler). What are we supposed to think? Well, I think in the case of Solomon. The Israelite people are being given this wealth in the same way they were being given manna in the desert. It had nothing to do with them, and everything to do with God. They started to loose site of God's provision, went back on the covenant and were eventually forced into slavery under foreign rulers again (Like the slavery God saved them from in Egypt). They worshipped money and they paid the price. It all comes down to what you worship. The rich young ruler wanted to do good and live an honorable life, and money was standing in the way of that. Jesus told him to give it all away because he knew money was the man's god. The man couldn't do it. Money in itself is not evil, but if pursuit of it gets in the way of you honoring God with your life, it has got to go. You can't serve two masters.

11:2 - This is where we see that being really smart can have a negative side. Solomon decides that God's marriage laws don't really apply to him. I'm sure he used his wisdom and convinced himself about why it was necessary - to maintain peace with other people groups, to form alliances, etc...but in the end, he simply rationalized a way for himself to acquire a lot of sex and money and he flushed his kingdom down the toilet.

11:4 - Can you imagine this! Trying to make 1,000 women in your harem happy?! Can you even fathom that "to do" list?! Again Solomon probably rationalizes all his actions. He seeks peace with his wives, so instead of fighting 700 of them about their gods - he just builds them temples. Then instead of explain 700 times why he will not worship their gods - he just does it...only to please his wines of course, and then he is worshipping false gods. Good thing we never rationalize sin in our lives, huh?

11:8ff - Given all the wealth and resources in the world directly from God, he eventually uses those gifts to worship false gods created by men...what a shame. The Ammonite and Moabite gods were known for having worship that involved child sacrifice, so Solomon may have even stooped that low! Sick.

11:30 - Remind anybody of David's ascension to the throne after Saul went of the deep end? A prophet comes to Jeroboam and tells him that he will eventually become the ruler of 10 of the 12 tribes of Israel, because Solomon has turned from God.

12:4 and 7 - Solomon forced labor on his people and levied large taxes against them, but he was Solomon...he was the wisest man some ways he could get away with it. When he son asks the elders of Israel how he should rule, they tell him to ease up a bit. They think he should lead through humility and service, because after doing that the people will serve him forever. Young leaders should always come into new situations willing to work hard and humbly. It's good advice.

12:10ff - Unfortunately he doesn't take the elders advice - he goes to all his old childhood buddies and asks them what he should do. They think he should show the world that he is every bit the man his father was and more - he should raise the taxes and he should whip his servants with scorpions (Whips with weighted steel tips). He listens to the younger men who have grow up with privilege and wealth and have had everything given to them on a silver platter (actually it was probably gold from what I've read!)...they advise from youthful arrogance and he destroys the unified country his father had brought together.

12:28 - The hits just keep on coming! Even Jeroboam who God has anointed as king over Israel immediately turns away from God. He is fearful and jealous of the other kingdom and so he created to pagan idols for the people to worship as their gods. His rule is on the way down almost before it is even started. Every new policy he puts into place is a rebellious act against God. What is that saying about absolute power? I think I'm cool with being a lowly youth minister.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

I Kings Chapters 7-9

7:1 - Hmmmm...he spends 7 years on building God's house and 13 building his...anything wrong with that picture? How often do I give more priority to my stuff than God's?

7:22 - What do the pillar names mean? Jachin means "it is firm," which I thought was a pretty good name for a pillar and it also most likely represents the solidarity of God's kingdom in Israel (When they are being faithful anyway). Boaz means "in strength," which again, is another great pillar name - I would want strong and firm pillars in any building I was hanging out in! This is probably also a challenge to the kings of Israel to rule with strength. We live in a crazy tempting world and it would do us all some good to remain firm in the will of God and depend on His strength instead of our own. We should have people or things in our lives that will remind us of this truth like Solomon had.

7:26 - This huge bowl would have contained about 12,000 gallons of water! 12,000!!! It is the big bowl in the picture of the temple I posted yesterday. So why did they have this thing in the temple courtyard? Well, they needed a lot of water to clean up all the blood and guts from animal sacrifices, but this bowl was too massive and impractical for that kind of use. This huge "sea" represented God's rule over all creation and stood as a huge reminder of the power and sovereignty of God. (Th smaller bowls described on the wheels would be the ones they used for cleaning the courtyard.)

8:8 - Why is this random info about the poles sticking out thrown in? Well it seems that the poles that were used to carry the ark around were so long that they stuck out the sides of the curtain around the holiest of holies. That means anyone who entered into the temple would be able to know for certain that the ark was still there. They know that God is with them. This is significant for you and me because we also have a reminder that God is with is called the Holy Spirit of God that is living and active within the lives of believers. You and I can be confident that God is with us because His Spirit is inside of us - the counselor, the teacher, the inspirer - within us! That is so cool!

8:27 - Solomon understands that the creator of the universe cannot be housed within a human made temple...he knows that and states it here. His point in this passage, is that this temple carries the honor of the Name of the Lord. This temple stands as a testament to the Name and power of God for all the world to see. Today you and I are the temple of God...Christians of this world of the representatives of God's Name in this world - what message are you sending?

8:56 - "Rest" here means that the people of Israel finally have the place of peace and security that God promised them - The Promised Land...they are home!

8:61 - Solomon closes his dedication speech by begging the people to remain always loyal to the way way of God. Unfortunately, Solomon himself and the rest of Israel do not even honor this charge in his lifetime.

9:4 - We see the covenant continue to be passed down. We saw it passed from Abraham, Isaac and the Israelites have the Promised Land and God passes the covenant of David on to Solomon. If you remain faithful to my Name, there will be a descendant from your family on the throne forever. Even after the unfaithfulness of the Israelites - God in His great mercy sends Jesus, the Son of David, to bring a kingdom of mercy to earth that will reign forever! Praise be to Go!

9:9 - There are always dire consequences when you break a covenant with God. Here it is made clear that if the people of Israel turn away from God, the whole world will know of their folly. I know some Christians that cannot understand why God allows them to go through the consequences of their actions after they have asked for forgiveness. But because of His great love for us, He allows us to experience some of the pain our choices bring to our lives so that we will throw ourselves always on His mercy.

Monday, February 22, 2010

I Kings Chapters 4-6

4:4 - Yes - it is THAT Benaiah...the mighty man of David and slayer of Joab.

4:7 - Solomon does exactly what Samuel told Israel a king would do to them - he starts taxing them and lives off what the people produce. Solomon is very wise in the way he breaks down his organization of the country and his taxation, and from everything we see in this passage - Israel really begins to flourish. Unfortunately, we will see as the life of Solomon plays out, that the abuse of power that comes so naturally to kings and rulers will eventually destroy Israel. Solomon, the wisest man in the world, begins to rely on wealth and military power instead of on the Most High God (Check out Deut. 17:15-17). As Christians, no matter what is going on with the political powers in authority over us, we must remember to never allow ouselves to get caught up in the pursuit of wealth and power, and push God aside.

4:34 - I think this is a really good challenege for us as Christians. People came from all over the world to listen to what Solomon had to say, because his knowledge base was so strong and he spoke from wisdom. There are a lot of Christians out there, myself included, that often act as if the only knoweledge they need is doctrinal and theological. But if we will spend our life learning and expanding our knowledge base...I believe it will give us better opportunity to influence people outside the faith, because they will most likely have more respect for our opinion. (Which definitely does not mean that you stop studying the bible, it just means be a lifestyle learner)

5:13 - Uh oh! Forced labor...Solomon's kingdom is starting to look more and more like the kingdoms of the rest of the world. He has set up a fair system (I know a lot of guys that would like to work one month and then get two off!), but it is still forced labor. The people escaped forced labor in Egypt only to get it forced on them in their own country.

6:38 - So here is a pretty good rendition of what Solomon's temple might have looked like. Pretty cool, huh? I like that he completed it in seven years - seven is the biblical number of completeness.

Monday, February 15, 2010

I Kings Chapters 1-3

*Sorry about all the lack of has been a crazy couple of days.

1:6 - I thought this verse was pretty interesting, we see another instance of bad parenting coming back to bite David in the butt. He never once disciplined his child or inquired as to why he was doing the things he was doing. It is important for parents to shape their children by understanding what they do and where they go and being willing to call them on the carpet when its inappropriate. David's lack of attention to his children leads to the raising of yet another rebellious kid.

1:50 - Jewish people could run to the altar and throw themselves on the mercy of God. This would protect the innocent from a summary execution in the heat of anger. Unfortunately for those who were actually guilty, it only delayed the inevitable death they would recieve for their crimes. (Solomon offers mercy to Adonijah, but will eventually have him killed for his rebellious behaviors)

2:2-3 - This is a great verse for young men and women out there (I think this will be the next one my boys memorize). David gives his son a charge, "Show yourself to be a man who is willing to offer himself completely to God." So many times we get in the message in this culture that being a man is about being physically strong, emotionally vacant, arrogant, etc. David, a warrior king - a man among boys, makes it clear to his son that the ultimate mesaure of a man is his dedication to God. Humility before your God is the ultimate sign of manliness.

2:6 - I thought this was pretty interesting. David calls Solomon to do what he couldn't do - to bring justice to Joab and consolidate the power of the kingdom. It seems that even the great king David never really had total control of what was going on in Israel...Joab was far to influential with the army. But he wants his son to bring peace and unity tot he kingdom and that will only come through justice.

2:8-9 - Again, David showed mercy to Shimei, because their conflict was in a time of war and David could not risk bringing further in-fighting to the people of Israel. But on his deatbed, he makes sure that the rebellion and disrespect Shimei showed to God's annointed king will not go unchecked.

2:22-25 - Solomon actually tried to show his brother mercy, but Adonijah gave him to choice. When he tried to marry the beautiful woman that kept king David warm in his bed, he was making a political move to try to take back power. The really interesting questions is - why does Bathsheba come to Solomon and make the request for Adonijah? She is Solomon's mom, why would she want to bring these problems to her sons rule? Well, I believe that she knew Solomon would have to kill Adonijah after his request and shw knew that would leave him with no real rivals for the throne. She helped to push him into making the tough call to get rid of Adonijah.

2:31 - Justice has finally, after all those years, come crashing down on the head of Joab. Multiple times he has killed innocent men of Israel to gain power and disrespected the king. This illustrates the difference between the rules of David and Solomon. David was a man of war, that never really unified his kingdom under peace. Solomon is a man of wisdom who is making all the right moves to bring unity and peace to Israel.

3:2 - Before the temple was built, these high places were used for legitimate worship of Yahweh. People would go up to the high points and worship God and offer sacrifices to Him. After Solomon builds the temple, these high places become illegitimate places of worship that become used for pagan idols. (This kind of thing gets Solomon in trouble later in his life). I find it so freeing that we have the ability to worship God anywhere and everywhere. Jesus' sacrifice has given us a freedom to connect with God that even these great men of the bible never understood.

3:9 - I hope that in my life and in my ministry I will always seek the wisdom of God before any other earthly things.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

2 Samuel Chapters 22-24

Chapter 22 - 2 Samuel basically begins and ends with songs of David. One song is a lament over the death of Saul and Jonathan...the final song we read here is a praise song about the sovereign nature of God. This song was also written after Saul's defeat. These songs bookend the story of David's kingship and highlight his character. He is a loyal man of honor, and he always relies on God. Those things sum up the life of David and the book of 2 Samuel. Even after his great sin he accepts the punishment that God doles out and never doubts his master.

22:28 - Something for all of us to remember...humility is loved by God. Humility is so hard for people to live out in this day and age, but it is an important aspect of being a follower of the Most High God. Pride and arrogance are the things that fuel sin and push us away from God. If we choose to live to honor ourselves and lift ourselves up...eventually we will be thrown down.

22:31 - I love this verse...this is the God we serve: Perfect, true, just - our shield. Amen.

23:11-12 - The tales of David's mighty men are some of my favorite "fun" passages in the bible, and I cannot read these scriptures without thinking about the teaching that Mark Moore did on the mighty men so many years ago at CIY. Shammah is willing to stand in a field of lentils (beans) and defend God's territory, even when all his Israelite brothers have run away. The challenge for us: are you willing to stand and fight for God - even when you are standing alone?

23:15-17 - These men hear a request from their king and they are willing to do anything to honor him. Three men break through the enemy lines, fight off the Philistines while filling up a water pouch, and fight their way back through the line to bring David a drink. Challenge to you: What the king wants, the king gets - have you offered yourself fully to Jesus?

23:20 - Benaiah see a lion trapped in a pit...probably starving and ready to kill. He could have killed the beast with a spear throw from above, but instead he jumps into the pit to make it a far fight. It is snowy...the footing is terrible...he is in a dark pit with a half-starved animal with feline reflexes, better vision in the dark and a body created to kill. Challenge: Benaiah was willing to leap into the pit and trust God - are you?

24:1 - Why is God angry with the Israelites? We don't know, the scripture doesn't tell us. I would assume, knowing the history of the Isrealite people, that they turned away from God and towards foreign idols. Why does is say that God incites David to sin - doesn't the bible say elsewhere that God doesn't tempt us more than we can handle? Again, the scripture here is not very clear on the matter. What we can do to answer the question though, is to think about the context. This was written by ancient Isrealites who had a very different understanding of God than we do today. Theologically, they believed that everything that happened was completely and totally controlled by God. So when somebody sinned - God incited it. When good things came - God brought those. When bad things happened - God caused those things. We read from our own modern Christian lens and we want to see God as good and get confused by passages like this. They were only interested in painting God as sovereign (in control of everything). In I Chronicles 21:1 there is a passage that sounbds exactly like this, except it says that Satan incited the sin to happen. What I believe, is that the writer of 2 Samuel is just referring to the fact that God allows David to be incited by Satan as God inciting it. And God, as He does, is using something bad that happens by the sinful choices of men to bring about His will (The judgement of Isreal). I hope that isn't too confusing...what do you think?

24:10 - David immediately realizes his guilt and begs forgiveness. Why is it wrong to do a census? Well, the ancient kings around the Isrealites would always take a census of their people to bolster their egos. They believed they had power because of the money they could make off taxes and the number of sword-wielding men they had. The Israelite king is supposed to understand that none of that matters when you have God on your side.

24:14 - David is offered a chance to pick his poison and once again he chooses something that shows how much trust he puts in God. Instead of allowing his people to be ravaged by an opposing army (Who would rape and kill and destroy with reckless abandon)...David chooses to have his people face pestilence because their lives will be solely in the hands of a merciful God.

24:18 - Interesting factoid - this is eventually where Solomon will build the temple. On a site that David has bought with his own money and made sacred by his offering to God...the temple of the Lord will be constructed.

24:24 - Great verse! God is worthy of offereings that cost us something. Never forget that - don't give God your scraps...give Him an offering in your life that costs you something!

Friday, February 5, 2010

2 Samuel Chapters 19-21

19:6 - It was inappropriate for David to mourn so deeply and so long for the son that had tried to tear Israel apart. It was belittling to the men who had stayed loyal to him. Joab confronts David for his inappropriate mourning, but he does it in a disrespectful fashion (Which is probably why the leadership if the army is given to Amasa (v.13). Again we see the character of David as he listens to good advice even when it comes from an arrogant, rude, jerk.

19:24 - We see that Mephibosheth has been mourning for David since David left the city. He has remained faithful to David, though Ziba told the king otherwise. David continues to honor his covenant with Jonathan and Mephibosheth.

19:43 - Even though the men of Judah are right in what they say to the men of Israel, they speak out of anger with harsh words. Thy let their emotions spill over and explode and it leads to yet another rebellion. Words spoken out of anger, even when they are right, do not honor God and generally bring negative consequences.

20:9ff - Joab must be bi-polar or something. He switches back and forth from wise advisor who is willing to speak hard truth to David (often disrespectfully) to murdering psychopath...I can't really figure this guy out. Here he comes us to David's commander Amasa as if to greet him with a kiss and rips his guts open with a sword! He ignores the wishes f the king...refuses to think about what is best for the kingdom and only thinks of revenge and getting his position as army leader back. I guess you can say he is a man of action...every time he decides that something needs to be done - he does it. I hope that you and I consider what is best for our king and His kingdom before we make rash decisions.

20:19 - Great picture of how to deal with a hostile environment...take time out first to make sure that everybody understands what is going might find out that here is a misunderstanding. This wise woman says, "Hey, we have always been good people, why are you trying to destroy us?" Joab tells her and the next thing you know...a severed head s flying over the wall ad all is well. Clarification is key to getting to the bottom of problems.

21:5 - I know this seems crazy - David is offering up the grandchildren of his friends (Like Barzillai) to the Gibeonites for retribution. But there is a concept here that needs to be understood. The sins of the father have been passed down...there is bloodguilt on the house of Saul. The Gibeonites do not ask for money, and they don't even ask for equal lives in return (Saul tried to exterminate their people - so he killed hundreds maybe thousands more)...they ask for 7 men in the line of Saul to cover the bloodguilt. Seven is the number of completeness. More than for revenge's sake, they ask for the lives of these seven men for the sake of the kingdom...for the public good. The famine will not end until this sin has been paid for. It reminds me slightly of the debate about capital punishment. One of the reasons we kill violent murderers is for the good of the public. They pay the price that has been assigned by the ruling authorities, and that is exactly what happened in this chapter.

21:14 - As on last act of honor for the house of the anointed king Saul and David's covenant friend Jonathan...he buries their bones and the bones of their descendants together with great honor...with honor that s worthy of a king.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

2 Samuel Chapters 16-18

16:3-4 - Ziba (Miphosheth's servant) comes to David with gifts and his loyalty. When David asks where Mepib is, Ziba tells David that he is back in Jerusalem and has his heart set on taking back the throne of his father Saul. This is all a lie as we find out in chapter 19...Mephibosheth is not in rebellion against David. So why does Ziba do this? I think it is as simple as him trying to move up in the world. Instead of be attached to a crippled descendant of Saul...he sees his chance to become a servant of the King of Israel.

16:5-8 - Shimei is right in asserting that David has brought these curses down on his own head, but he is wrong about why. Shimei is cursing David because he thinks he is the illegitimate king of Israel and that he stole the throne from Saul. David is really curse because of his sin with Bathsheba and the terrible parenting skills that followed.

16:11-12 - David does not allow his men to kill Shimei because he is able to step back and look at the big picture. David shows us how to deal with anger. He says, "What do I care if this loser calls curses down on me - my own son is trying to kill me!?" He knows there are more important things then revenge. David has once again returned to utterly trusting God. He knows that if God wants the cursing of Shimei to will. If we all looked at the big picture, I think we would be a lot less likely to blow up in anger about most insignificant things.

16:16ff - Notice that Hushai never really vows to follow Absalom specifically. He says he will follow the king and that he will follow the king that the Lord chooses. Absalom is clearly doubtful as he questions Hushai, but he decides to accept his counsel anyway (Probably because he is arrogant and can;t imagine why anyone wouldn't want o follow him). David's plan to have an inside man works, and Hushai is able to win Absalom;s confidence without breaking his loyalty to David.

16:20ff - Ewwwwww! Ahithophel (I will use Ahi from now on in reference to him) tell Absalom to sleep with his father's concubines so that everyone in Israel can see. Why would he offer this gross advice? Well, it would signify that Absalom is taking over as the king. In the ancient near east, if you sleep with the king's harem - you take the kings power. This incident also fulfills the prophecy that Nathan made (Chpt. 12), that David's sons would sleep with his wives in the daylight for all to see.

17:1-4 - Ahi tells Absolam to strike fast, before David get s a chance to organize his forces. Ahi knows that if they kill David, the rest of Israel will follow Absalom. This advice is the correct advice...this is what Absalom should have done.

17:5-14 - Interestingly enough, Absalom doesn't just take Ahi's advice up front (Which is weird since the people think that Ahi's counsel is almost as good as getting it straight from God (v.23) - he turns and asks Hushai the double-agent what he thinks. While Hushai does make a very convincing speech, we are told the reason why Absalom decides to follow Hushai's advice in verse 14...because the Lord wanted Ahi's advice to be ignored. If you have noticed there is a recurring theme running through the lives of the people over the last few followers of God, we should do our best with the gifts we been given, but understand that God is the one that brings about the good fruit.

17:23 - This is kinda shocking when you first read it - he just goes home and kills himself...why would he do that? Well, he knows the battle is lost. He knows that if David (The expert strategist) is allowed to raise up his army and fight back, Absalom will not win. Ahi is the traitor and he knows that he will be killed for his betrayal. He goes home and does it himself. The interesting thing to think about here is the parallels between Ahi and Judas. They both betrayed men from the line of David...they both hung themselves after betraying their leader...they both sold out for the hope of wealth...modern scholars even think that the place where David got the news that Ahi had betrayed him is near the Garden of Gethsemane where Jesus was betrayed. Just interesting stuff.

18:3 - While Absalom fails to understand the importance of David being alive (Ahi wanted to kill David quickly so he could not influence people anymore)...the men of David understand his great worth. He wants to go out to battle and they beg him to stay behind. David is able to listen to the advice of people he leads and take it to heart - good leadership trait.

18:8 - Caution - strategic military content. David's men and heroes and guerrilla warriors. They are the mighty men used to fighting individually against numerous opponents. David chooses to face the much superior forces of Absalom in the forest where their vast numbers mean nothing and his men can use their guerrilla tactics o their full extent. The bible even says that the forest claim more men then the sword that's kinda hard to stay in formation when there are trees and everywhere.

18:9 - Absalom is caught in a tree while fleeing in the forest by his luxuriant, long hair. He is killed by his pride. His hair isn't helmeted to tied down, because he puts so much stock in his appearance (my thoughts).

18:14 - Joab - ever the realist - ignores David's instructions and kills Absalom immediately. He does what needed to be done, but what he knew David would be unable to do.

18:18 - Absalom spent so many years trying to undermine his father's authority and steal his father's throne that he never began his own family. The only legacy he left behind was a legacy of pride and arrogance...a monument he built for himself, that would come to represent a monument of folly.

18:20ff - Joab has seen David react very violently to "good news" that he took badly int he past, so he doesn't want to send Ahimaaz to tell David that Absalom is dead, because Ahimaaz is the son of Zadok (The loyal priest). So he sends a foreigner instead. Yet, Ahimaaz really wants to go, so he does anyway, running past the Cushite and getting to David first. Fortunately for him, he doesn't really know what happened and tells David, "There was a bunch of confusion going on, I'm not sure about Absalom." (David must be thinking, "Thanks for nothing Ahimaaz!)

18:33 - David does not react in violence because he knows the only person to blame is himself. The guilt of all the things that have torn his family apart since his affair with Bathsheba and murder of Uriah all come crashing down on him at the death of his son. In this tragic verse he is not the warrior king...he is the broken-hearted father. If David can teach us anything, it is...there is very little in this world more important than handling your business as a husband and father!

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

2 Samuel Chapters 13-15

13:2 - Just a note: that is not a picture of love...that is a picture of lust...let's not get confused. Amnon is burning with lust for his virgin sister (ewwww!).

13:3-6 - This highlights the importance of having people in your life who will influence you towards godliness. Amnon has a friend who only tells him what he wants to hear...who helps him devise a plan that is utterly disgusting as opposed to slapping him and telling him to stop lusting after his sister. I hope you have friends in your life who are willing to call you on the carpet when you are being an idiot!

13:8-11 - Amnon is so far gone it's unreal...he has made up his mind that he will do anything to satisfy his lust. He watches his sister prepare a meal for him with her bare hands because she feels bad that he is sick and still follows through on his sick plan to rape her! When sin gets a hold of you...and you allow it to fester in your can convince yourself of anything. Sounds a bit like his father who was willing to take another man's wife, impregnate her and murder her husband...all int he name of lust.

13:12ff - Tamar is a woman of integrity. She tries everything she can think of: she reminds him that it is unacceptable and outrageous to rape an Israelite woman; she tells him that it will bring ruin on both of their lives; and she reminds him that he could still marry her if Amnon would just talk to David about it! He is blinded by his burning lust, ignores everything she says and rapes her.

13:15 - This is heartbreaking - the moment his lust is satisfied...he finally gets what he has been burning for - the guilt drops down like a hammer. The blood rushes back into his brain and he is so disgusted by what he has done, that he turns his self-hatred onto his innocent sister. How sick is that?

13:20 - Tamar's life is ruined. She is violated, abused, rejected and left with no future...all because a more powerful man decided he was going to get what he wanted. How many times has that been lived out on this planet. When men choose to reflect God with their power - they create, build up, protect, serve, love...when they choose to rebel - they destroy, break, hurt, rape, take and bring dishonor to the man God made them to be.

13:21 - David is angry, yet he does nothing. He is probably silent because of the guilt he feels over his dealing with Bathsheba and Uriah. We can't allow our past sins to silence us when we have a chance to stand up for what is right.

13:22 - Absalom pushes the hatred deep and lets it grow hotter and hotter. He waits for the perfect opportunity to bring about his vengeance - he would have had closure if his father had chosen to act.

13: 26-27 - David knows that something wrong is going on. He says, "Why do you need Amnon to come?" He knows it isn't right, but again, he choose to ignore his responsibility for leadership in his family.

13:29 - Killing Amnon serves Absolam well on two fronts. On one, it gives him the revenge he has been burning after for two years. On the other hand it clears his path to the throne of David. The other brothers run for their lives because they think Absolam is about to kill them all, so that he has no competition for the crown.

13:39 - This is getting ridiculous...again David refuses to do anything. He just sits back as one son kills another son, just like he sat back when his son raped his daughter. He doesn't punish Absolam....he doesn't forgive him and bring closure...he just ignores the whole situation, which will come back to bite him in the butt if I had to guess.

14:1-20 - Joab shows again that he is a pretty wise leader. He finds a very articulate woman from out in the countryside (So David doesn't know her), who can go before David and confront him through a story like Nathan did. The woman convinces David to offer protection to one of her sons that has killed another son and then turns the tables on David, challenging him to do the same for Absalom.

14:24 - Yet even after David allows Absolam to come back into the city, he refuses to meet with him. He still doesn't bring any healing or closure to the situation. He leaves Absalom to sulk in another part of the city, getting angrier by the day and plotting to steal the throne. He keeps his son at an arms length until Absolam turns to all out rebellion.

14:31ff - We see that Absalom is a man of violence and manipulation. He doesn't get what he wants from Joab, so he burns his fields to the ground. Again, another son that doesn't fall too far from the tree. When David couldn't get Uriah to act like he wanted him to...he murdered him.

14:33 - Nice try David, but too little - too late.

15:1ff - Absalom starts to do things that were only reserved for kings. He buys himself a chariot and has 50 retainers - that was only for kings. He sits at the gate of the city and judges cases that were brought before him - only for the king. He allows people to pay homage to him and praise his name - also, only for kings. Basically, right out from under David's knows, Absalom assumes a great deal of the power of the king - and David is silent.

15:7-12 Just like in his murder of Amnon, Absolam is totally cool and calculating - he has thought everything through. He tells his father that he is going to Hebron to fulfill a vow he made. He takes two hundred clueless men with him and announces his rebellion to them (They have no choice but to side with him, because now they look like conspirators). He sends secret messengers throughout Israel to build up a power base against his father. Imagine what all this cunning and intelligence could have done for the kingdom of Israel if he had been raised with some guidance and discipline!

15:14 - David runs from the city because he needs time to prepare for battle and because he is reluctant to act against his son (Obviously - have you read these chapters!).

15:25 - Through all the family insanity that David has experienced, he is finally beginning to turn back to his relationship with God. He understand that the kingdom of God is bigger than he is. He sends the ark back to Jerusalem because that is where it belongs. He trusts that if God wants him to be the king, he will be brought back to Jerusalem where the ark is. He is once again focused on honoring God.

15:34 - He also hasn't lost his knack for military strategy. He sends his friend back to become a counselor of Absolam, so he can counter all the advice that Ahithophel gives. He also sets up a group of secret agent priests int he temple of Jerusalem. Just like Joab yesterday, David trusts Go fully, but is also willing to work hard to be successful.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

2 Samuel Chapters 10-12

10:4 - What a weird humiliation, huh? Beards were the pride and joy of the Israelite male. The only time they ever shaved off their beards was when they were mourning or making a special vow before God. To have half your beard shaved off would be totally humiliating. And imagine having your clothes cut off at the hips...kinda awkward, huh?

10:12 - Joab has never come across as a paragon of faith, but he displays excellent godly leadership in this battle. H knows fully that the outcome rests in God's hands alone, but he works his butt off to prepare as well. All leaders should take this attitude...we should understand that God is in control of every situation and that God is going to move, but we should work hard and do our best as well.

11:1 - While the fighting men are off at war, David is lounging around on a couch. He has allowed himself to be stuck in the city, bored, with no accountability...that sounds like a recipe for disaster. We should all do everything we can to make sure we do not allow ourselves to get into situations where temptations are great.

11:2ff - David's knows that she is the wife of one of his mighty men...and the text says he "takes" her anyway. That is what he does...Bathsheba has no power to refuse the king. He has absolute power and uses it to rape another man's wife. Another man who is fighting for his kingdom while he sits around on his lazy butt. The author makes sure to note that she has just finished her cycle, because that will prove that David is the father...there is no chance she was pregnant before he took her.

11:11ff - Okay - from the male perspective, Uriah has got to be dying to sleep with his wife. He has been off to war and there is probably nothing he wants more than to spend the night with her. But instead of given into his desires, he chooses to do what is right. Uriah stands in stark contrast to David who goes to great lengths to do what is evil so that he can fulfill his desires. Even when David gets Uriah drunk...drunk Uriah has more honor than sober David! David has fallen so far.

11:14 - David has tried deceit and alcohol, and he feels he has no other choice than to have Uriah killed.

11:25 - If you can remember...David would weep even for his enemies. He wept at the death of Saul. Yet, here David shows no remorse at the death of a friend and warrior, who he has killed. Ever heard of the phrase absolute power corrupts absolutely. Thank you God for my lowly station in the world of men and for wife who is good at keeping me humble!

12:5-6 - David angrily casts down judgement at the end of Nathan's story - "This man deserves to die!" He is so blinded by his sin and deceptions that he cannot see his own guilt. Self-deception is one of the most dangerous character destroyers. We can convince ourselves of anything...we can make excuses for everything. Yet the lies we tell ourselves only blind us to our separation from God.

12:10 - There are huge consequences for his actions. David's children follow int he footsteps of dear old dad, by falling into rap, deceit, violence, murder, etc. What a legacy!

12:13-14 - Though forgiveness is given to David because he is truly repentant...that does not mean there are not consequences for his actions. This is often hard for Christians to grasp. Just because God loves you and forgives you, does not mean that you will miraculously miss out on the negative fallout from your sinfulness.

12:20 - David has finally returned to the roots of his faith. He fasts and prays to God for a week...begging for the life of his son. Yet when God answers "no," David accepts the will of God and responds through worship. That is incredible...he is still a man after God's heart.

12:29-31 - Though David was fully repentant for his actions with Bathsheba, he has been changed by kingship for good. He still leaves the fighting to Joab, yet when Joab cuts of the city's water supply and makes them helpless, David swoops in to take all the glory and crown himself. Then he enslaves the Ammonites. Samuel told the people what a king would do, but they did not listen...they wanted to be like everybody else. Now the children of Israel who understand what the bondage of slavery feels like have become slave masters...not so sure how I feel about that - God is noticeably missing from this passage (The other times we see David win victories, he gives all the glory to God...but not his time.).

Monday, February 1, 2010

2 Samuel Chapters 7-9

7:2 - David who has shown himself to always be gracious and thankful about what God has given him, does not like the fact that while he lives in a pimped out crib, God's ark (For the Israelites - the very presence of God) lives in a musty old tent. He is determined to build God a fitting temple. David's attitude puts a huge challenge out there for us...are we more focused on honoring God in life or ourselves?

7:5ff - God makes it clear to David - I don't want you to build me a temple. God says, "The ark has been in a tent since the time of Moses - have I ever asked you guys to build me anything else?" Why does God reject David's heart-felt desire? God is huge and wild and powerful and in control of the universe...he cannot be bought...he cannot be chained to a tiny little building. The other pathetic gods in the ancient near east needed temples and statues to have power (at least power in the flawed human mind)...God did not want to be compared to false deities. (Plus, as we find out later - David is a man of war...he is a man of blood...and even though God made him successful as a warrior, he is not the man to build God a temple)

7:9ff - How crazy is this? God says, "No David you cannot build me a house, what I am going to do instead is build you into a great house that will last forever." Wow! David wants to do something for God and God turns around and blesses him instead. In fact, God establishes a house in the line of David that will actually become His house...Jesus Christ comes from the line of in the tiny little human body of a descendant of David, God will shed all His power and become a man. It is through that God/man Jesus that salvation is offered to the world, so that all men can become the dwelling place of God. How insanely awesome is that!

7:28 - David is so different than Saul. God reject the plan that David had, and David just accepts it and praises the name of God.

8:11 - David becomes very successful and powerful, yet he still understands that it all comes from God. He offers the spoils of war up to God immediately. I think most human beings have a really hard time with this. I find that in my times of greatest success, I have the greatest temptation to think that it was all because of something I hard I worked...or how skilled I am. I need to remember as David did that everything I have, everything I am, everything I accomplish is from God.

9:1 - David firmly establishes that he is the standard by which all kings should be judged...he is God's king. He made a covenant with Jonathan to protect his family, and as soon as he had settled in as the king, he followed through on his covenant.

9:6 - Such a great picture of Christ-like leadership and authority. David the king bows before a crippled man who should probably be his enemy as a servant. The image that came immediately to my mind was the image of Jesus washing the feet of his disciples (including Judas). Humble service is how leaders really make their mark.

9:11 - According to the customs of the ancient near east, Mephibosheth should have been killed. He is in the line of Saul. When new kings took over power they routinely murdered every living relative of the previous king's family - to make the transition of power smooth. Yet David offers Mephibosheth mercy and a place at the banquet table. Somebody who deserved death, was offered mercy and honor...hmmm, that sounds familiar. Oh wait, that's what Jesus offered everyone of us.