Archive for August, 2012

2 Samuel 13

2 Samuel 13 is almost asoap opera kind of chapter.  One of King David’s sons – a guy by the name of Amnon – was obsessed by one of the king’s daughters named Tamar who was a beautiful woman.  He woke up daily wanting to have her as his how.  Amnon was a sneaky guy, and he “lay down and pretended to be ill” and when the king came to see him, he asked that Tamar be sent to care for him.  So he deceived the king and got David to send Tamar to his place.

Tamar, being the good daughter she was, went to Amnon’s house to prepare food for him.  You can predict what happens.  Amnon tried to manipulate Tamar to come to be with him and said “come lie with me, my sister”.  He was unable to get her to feel sympathetic or even interested, and she replies “No, my brother, do not violate me, for such a thing is not done in Israel; do not do this outrageous thing”.  He had her alone – got the chance to ask her what he wanted – and got told no.  But he wasn’t used to not getting his own way and he raped her.

Then in true idiot style, he blames her and sends her off.  “When King David heard of all these things, he was very angry”.  But unfortunately David didn’t do anything about the situation other than be upset.  No punishment or pain.  However another of the king’s sons named Absalom who was brother to Tamar was outraged and began to plot revenge as he hated Amnon for what he had done.  He waited a few years until he could arrange the opportunity but then got Amnon onto his turf and killed him.

Absalom flees along with his servants fearing for his life.  He stayed in Geshur for three years.  Family strife, ultimately caused because the king did not address and deal with sin in his son, led to more bad stuff in the family.  We need to lead well as fathers.  We need to not just have anger, but seek God’s instruction on how to correct issues that come within our families.  This bad son Amnon, because his dad failed to discipline him, ultimately caused another son Absalom to react and then run in fear from his dad.  A very bad outcome for a family that should have had everything they needed and more.

Psalm 122

Psalm 122 begins with a familiar statement: “I was glad when they said to me, Let us go to the house of the Lord”.  I can’t say I have always felt that way, but I sure do now.  As a kid, going to God’s house wasn’t always on the top of my list, but God has made a way for me to see just how blessed it is to be able to come into His house and worship Him.  We don’t have to go to a church to find God.  He doesn’t live there. But He does indwell that place and He does love to have His people worship Him.

So why go to church?  It is a place for us to find community.  God inhabits His people, and hanging around with others on their faith walk to share life and encourage one another is a necessary and powerful thing for us to experience.  God wants to change our lives.  He wants to transform us and help us become like Jesus.  We can plod down that trail on our own, or we can become part of a faith community that can help us by instructing us with truth, and more importantly by holding us accountable to walk the way God has shown us in His Word.

We are told by the psalmist to “give thanks to the name of the Lord”.  That is what church should be about – not you or me – but God.  We don’t go there to carry in our bushel basket full of requests and things we want God to do for us.  We go there to seek the face of the Creator and to give Him the honor and glory and praise due His name.  We need to “pray for peace” – not only peace in the world between nations – but within families between people.  God calls us to come and bring those relationship issues to His feet.  He cares about people.  He wants us to be peace makers and to pray fervently for peace between man – be it on a global scale or within the walls of our homes.

He also tells us to pray for protection: “May they be secure who love you!  Peace be within your walls and security within your towers”!    Do you pray for protection each day?  I often find that Christ Followers take it for granted.  They just think that God is going to take care of things without any effort on their part at all.  Never forget we have a very real enemy in Satan who has a mission to do three things to us as Christ Followers: to kill, steal and destroy.  Scripture is clear about that.  We need to come to God and pray for His protection.  The good news is that He has already won that war, but the battles we face every day can still cause a lot of pain and we need to be on our knees in His house seeking His protection.  Are you glad to go to the house of the Lord?  You should be.  Make sure you are part of a strong faith community where you can gather together to pray, to praise, to be peace makers and to seek his protection.  God loves us and wants us to enter His temple with thanksgiving and His courts with praise!

Psalm 86

Psalm 86 begins with these words from the psalmist: “Incline your ear, O Lord, and answer me, for I am poor and needy”.  Sometimes we may think that scripture just doesn’t apply to us today – which is absolutely not true – but I certain feel this way often – poor and needy.  Life can be pretty overwhelming some days can’t it.  We can get so consumed by the chaos of the day that we lose perspective and get lost in the shuffle of life.  But God is always there and listening.  We never face that chaos alone.  And we can trust Him to hear and answer no matter what state we are in.

The psalmist goes on to pray for safety and then says a couple of very important things.  As he asks God to preserve his life, and this isn’t some figurative thing but a real heartfelt need, he lists a couple characteristics of their relationship – “I am godly….trusts in you”.  There is a relationship here between the writer and God.  This isn’t some SOS prayer that has no foundation.  Relationship matters – particularly with God.  We need to be walking with Him day by day so we can just reach out and have conversation and share our heart about the curves that life throws us.

For to you do I cry all the day….I lift up my soul”.  This is real life.  The psalmist is trying to manage life and just get through.  But he knows the source of that ability is not digging deeper in himself, but seeking the power of God.  He lists the character of God that gives confidence:

–       “good

–       Forgiving

–       Steadfast in love

–       Grace”

We serve a God who loves us and is able to meet our every need.  And there is a history, a long history of all that God has done.  “For you are great and do wondrous things; you alone are God”.

He asks that God “teach me your way….that I may walk in your truth”.  It is so important that we understand how God loves us so we can live life His way.  That means we need to dig into His scripture and be in tune with His love.  “I give thanks to you….I will glorify your name forever”.  This is not a relationship based on the need of the moment.  This is true fellowship between the psalmist and God – and what we all need to be creating and living with.  God love us – “for great is your steadfast love toward me”.  We don’t have to convince God to love us – He always has and always will.  We just need to focus on being in relationship with Him. That translates into time, and sharing our heart with the Father.  Are you living that way?  Are you experiencing the wonder of God in your patch?

Psalm 51

Psalm 51 is a chapter about the impact of sin.  The psalmist is writing about how God sees and deals with sin.  He begins by pleading for mercy – calling on God’s “steadfast love….abundant mercy”.  The good news for us is that we serve a God who never runs out of love.  And He is filled with abundant mercy.  Remember that mercy is when God doesn’t give us what we deserve.  Scripture tells us that all of us are guilty of sin, and the wages of sin is death.  That is what we deserve, but by God’s mercy we can be set free from the eternal separation that sin will cause.

The psalmist talks about the ask we make and the things that God can do in regard to our sin.  We can be set free.  The psalmist begins by stating “I know my transgressions, and my sin is ever before me”.  We have to begin by admitting that we are sinners.  It isn’t really open for discussion – we all sin.  So we need to confess, repent and seek His redemption.  God is there waiting for us to come to Him with a heart seeking His forgiveness.

When we do, we see these kind of responses from a loving and merciful God:

–       “wash me

–       Cleanse me

–       Purge me

–       Create in me a clean heart

–       Cast me not away

–       Restore to me the joy of your salvation

–       Uphold me with a willing spirit

–       Deliver me

God will set us free from the burden of sin – not the consequences – but the result.  He will cleanse us and make us white as snow.

And if you were thinking you could fix this by yourself – think again.  “For you will not delight in sacrifice, or I would give it; you will not be pleased with a burnt offering.  The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart”.  God doesn’t want our sacrifice – he wants a broken and contrite heart.  He wants a heart that is dedicated to the Savior – a personal relationship between you and me the sinner, and Jesus Christ the sacrifice that is acceptable in His sight.  He wants us to get right with Him through the shed blood of His Son.  Jesus died to set us free.  All that is between us and that forgiveness is ourselves.  We have to receive the gift of grace and let Jesus be our Savior!

Psalm 32

Psalm 32 talks about one of the greatest gifts God gives mankind – the forgiveness of sin.  “Blessed is the one whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered”.  The reality is that all of us are sinners.  Scripture is very clear about that.  And it is also very clear that the price of sin is death.  Not just a bad day – death.  God has a standard that we are going to be held to – complete and total obedience to His law.  I know I’ve already missed that one – not just a little bit – I miss it every day.  So I have a sin problem.  And here’s a news flash – so do you.

So let’s accept the reality that sin is a big problem that needs to be dealt with.  God did create a solution for our sin – He sent His Son to the cross to give us the opportunity to receive Him through the gift of grace and be set free from sin.  Jesus is the answer.  He alone is what scripture talks about here when it says “blessed is the one….whose sin is covered”.  There is no other way to have your sin covered except the shed blood of Christ.  Anything less just won’t cut it when you stand before God on your judgment day.

But forgiveness from God is so much more.  “Blessed is the man against whom the Lord counts no iniquity”.  Human forgiveness doesn’t forget the transgression in most cases.  We might move on, but we don’t forget.  God does.  God “counts no iniquity” even around our sin.  He lets go when we receive His forgiveness.  That is so not a human response.  It all begins with confession.  “I acknowledged my sin to you, and I did not cover my iniquity” is what the psalmist says.  Forgiveness doesn’t happen unless there is confession.  We have to come to God with admission of our sin.  We have to stop pretending that no one knows – especially God.  He does.  We have to confess to be forgiven.

But along with confession we also need to repent.  That means to turn and go the other way.  The psalmist is clear that God will help us know what to do.  “I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you with my eye upon you”.  God has so much wisdom for us to absorb and follow.  But we have to be teachable.  We have to be willing to seek His face.  We must not be “like a horse or a mule, without understanding, which must be curbed with bit and bridle”.  Stubbornness is not next to godliness.  God wants to help us repent and live in obedience to His will.  But we have to be willing to listen and learn.  And then we need to trust in the Lord and walk in obedience.  God is watching.  “I will counsel you with my eye on you”.  Life matters.  We need to live it God’s way and live it well!

1 Chronicles 20

1 Chronicles 20 talks about some key battles facing David and his mighty men.  Scripture tells us the time is in the spring and it was “the time when kings go out to battle”.  Weather and timing does matter, and at least during David’s time wars seemed to brew during the winter and then the battles began in the springtime.  David has a very trustworthy right hand man who leads his army – Joab.  He was a very effective commander and has led the troops to victory many times over the years.  This time was no exception – they besieged Rabbah and overthrew it.

But one victory doesn’t really end anything.  David “took the crown of their king from his head….and it was placed on David’s head”.  It was a giant gold crown and had a precious stone in it.  They also “brought out the spoil of the city, a very great amount”.  These battles weren’t just about taking territory, but also the spoils of war.  And David accumulated a lot of loot from the cities of the Ammonites.  But it also involved getting labor – albeit slave labor – to do the work needed to support the kingdom.  In this case David “brought out the people who were in it and set them to labor with saws and iron picks and axes”.  Not a pretty picture for those captured, but how things happened during this time.

David’s men pretty well wiped out the Ammonites, but there was another battle just around the corner.  Actually several battles with an age old enemy – the Philistines.  You’ll recall that much earlier in life David rose to prominence with his victory over the giant Goliath as a boy with a sling shot.  But now they have come again.  First at Gezer where Sibbecai struck down Sippai who “was a descendant of the giants”.

Then comes the battle where Elhanan defeats Lahmi who was actually the brother of Goliath.  Don’t think the Philistines didn’t have an axe to grind with David and his people.  They wanted revenge.  Scripture tells us that Goliath’s brother was also a giant and “the shaft of whose spear was like a weaver’s beam”. He was one big dude.  There was yet another battle with them at Gath, this time involving a giant with 6 fingers and 6 toes on each of his hands and feet, so 24 in all.  He “taunted Israel” just like Goliath had David, and Jonathan, who was David’s brother, struck him dead.  God blessed the army of David and some of his mighty warriors so they defeated giants one after the other.  With God, giants are no big deal.  One plus God always wins!

2 Samuel 12

2 Samuel 12 is a sobering chapter.  David has just committed a grave sin in the previous chapter as he gets Uriah killed and takes Bathsheba for his wife.  He thought he had gotten away with it and covered his tracks.  But then the knock comes because “the Lord sent Nathan to David”.  Here is the reality.  We can try and hide sin.  We can fool those around us, sometimes even those closest to us.  But God is never in the dark about what we do or the sin we commit.  There is no hiding sin from God.

Nathan tells a story and “David’s anger was greatly kindled….‘the man who has done this deserves to die’ was David’s response to the tale Nathan told.  It was a story of sin and covetousness, of taking advantage of someone weaker.  David was furious and then Nathan dropped the bomb and said “You are the man”.  David stepped right into that one.  Talk about letting the air out of the sails.  Nathan spoke truth and it was squarely aimed at David.  Can you imagine that task?  Nathan has to come and confront the king about sin.  That took a lot of courage, but he wasn’t done yet.

Nathan blasts David with the truth of how God has blessed him.  “Thus says the Lord:

–       I anointed you king

–       I delivered you out

–       I gave you your master’s house and your master’s wives

–       I would add to you as much more

How could David do this after all the blessing God had given to him?  Seems pretty short sighted and dumb doesn’t it?  But that is what sin does to us.  It causes us to make very bad choices and to go brain dead around what we know to be true.  “Why have you despised the word of the Lord” was the question Nathan asks.  It is the same question we have to ask ourselves when we make the choice to sin.  And let’s be clear – sin is a choice.  David made that choice freely of his own will knowing it was wrong and violated God’s laws.  We do it as well.  There is no one to blame but ourselves.

God says things are going to happen as a result – evil will rise in David’s own house and his wives will go lie with other men.  But the big impact would be “the child who is born to you shall die” which is exactly what happens.  It is important to note that David confessed right after Nathan brought his sin into the light.  He didn’t deny what he had done, or make excuses.  “I have sinned against the Lord” was his response to the confrontation.  But here is the reality – confession that we have sinned does not undo the consequences of that sin.  It does not remove the result.  Our confession and repentance can take away the sin in God’s eyes regarding us through the shed blood of Jesus, but consequences still happen.  Results still occur.

This child dies after seven days.  It was a very sad time for David.  He spent the week while the child was sick on his face fasting and praying for God to heal the boy.  It didn’t happen.  “David therefore sought God on behalf of the child. And David fasted and went in and lay all night on the ground”.  Sin takes its toll and is not changed just because we are sorry and pray.  David is restored because of his repentance, but the child still dies.  God does bless him though as Bathsheba bears another son – Solomon – who goes on to be the wisest man ever.  But it wasn’t without severe consequence and pain.  Sin is a terrible thing.  The cost of sin is often so much more than we expect.  We have to deal with that temptation before we fall and allow sin to take root in our life!

2 Samuel 11

2 Samuel 11 begins with a rather telling sentence.  “In the spring of the year, the time when kings go out to battle”.  That sounds pretty predictable doesn’t it?  Weather starts to get good and the kings decide it is time to strut their stuff and do some battle.  David was not immune to that same temptation so he sent Joab and his armies out to battle the Ammonites but he stayed back in Jerusalem himself.  That was a fateful decision that wouldn’t serve him well.

He was walking on the roof of the palace and “saw from the roof a woman bathing; and the woman was very beautiful”.  David is just enjoying his view and his eyes come upon a woman who is not his wife.  He has a couple choices at this point.  He could choose to look away – which he didn’t.  He could look and then move on with life – which he didn’t.  Or he could be captivated by her beauty and allow temptation to overcome him and cause him to take action leading to sin.  Unfortunately that is the choice David made.  “So David sent messengers and took her, and she came to him, and he lay with her”.  He didn’t just invite her over – he slept with her and totally violated God’s laws and missed the mark.

David isn’t just some schmuck off the street.  He is the anointed king.  We know from other places in scripture that he was a man after God’s heart.  He was one of the good guys – but sin has a way of weaseling into our life if we don’t immediately turn and flee from temptation.  It gets worse.  Bathsheba comes back and says “I am pregnant”.  Now we not only have sin, but there is a consequence that is going to be a bit hard to hide.  There are always consequences to sin.  It isn’t always going to stick out like this – but there are always consequences.  Now what?  David is at a crossroads.  Does he admit his mistake and seek forgiveness or try to cover it up.

Another bad choice is made.  David decides to get rid of Bathsheba’s husband.  David orders his commander “Set Uriah in the forefront of the hardest fighting, and then draw back from him, that he may be struck down, and die”.  Is that murder?  You could argue it was just more CYA but David makes another sinful decision.  It never works to try and cover one sin with another.  His plan did work – Uriah was killed in battle.  David’s heart is hard – when he hears the report of some fatalities and particularly Uriah’s – he sends a message to Joab his commander “do not let this matter trouble you”.  David notifies Bathsheba that her husband is dead.  She obviously is distressed and mourns his loss.   “And when the mourning was over, David sent and brought her to his house, and she became his wife and bore him a son”.  Things are looking up for David aren’t they?  His cover-up is moving nicely.  No one knows the difference.  Not exactly – God knows.  “But the thing that David had done displeased the Lord”.

Here is the truth – sin always takes us further than we want to go and costs us more than we want to pay.  It never ends well.  And when we try to cover it up and make it go away – even if it appears to happen here on earth – it really never goes away.  We can’t hide it.  We can’t ignore it.  We can’t come up with a scheme to lose it.  There is only one way to deal with sin.  We have to confess it.  We have to repent from it.  We have to get on our face before God and be redeemed.  Jesus went to the cross to be the grace that overcomes our sin.  But that is the only way for us to handle it.  All other attempts will fail.  Forgiveness from the Father comes through Jesus.  Don’t make the mistakes David made.  When you sin, get right with God through Christ!

Psalm 70

Psalm 70 is a cry to the Lord for help.  The psalmist is being pursued and harassed and cries out to God for help.  “Make haste, O God, to deliver me! O Lord, make haste to help me”!  And not just sometime – he wants help from God now.  You can almost hear the desperation in his plea.  We can cry out to God when we need his help.  But that shouldn’t be the only time we should connect with God.  We need to be in relationship with God so we aren’t always just connecting when we are in need.

It actually is a pretty desperate request as the psalmist’s life is at stake.  “Let them be put to shame and confusion who seek my life”!  This isn’t just a calm request, it is a plea for God to intervene and protect.  The psalmist understands completely where they are: “I am poor and needy; hasten to me, O God”!  No self-sufficient attitude here.  The psalmist knows they are in need, and they need God’s help now.

How should we approach God?  “May all who seek you rejoice and be glad in you! May those who love your salvation say evermore, “God is great”!  We need to rejoice and be glad in our walk with God.  We need to glorify His power and sufficiency.  We need to declare the reality that He is great.  God is able.  He is worthy of our praise and our declaration of His goodness.

You are my help and my deliverer; O Lord, do not delay”!  The psalmist knows that God is his help and deliverer. God is the only answer to this problem and dilemma.  But there is some urgency in the request as the enemy is pursuing and close at hand.  God knows the situation.  There is no surprise in this request, but God does want us to make them.  We are called to pray and seek His face.  We need to praise and glorify Him.  There is need to pray with intensity and speed.  God is able to hear and answer.  We just need to ask.

Psalm 69

The psalmist cries out for God to save him.  He is in deep doodoo.  Check out how he describes his situation:

–       “the waters have come up to my neck

–       I sink in deep mire, where there is no foothold

–       I have come into deep waters

–       the flood sweeps over me

–       I am weary with my crying out

–       my throat is parched

–       My eyes grow dim with waiting for my God

–       More in number than the hairs of my head are those who hate me

–       mighty are those who would destroy me, those who attack me with lies

This is a pretty big list of issues that the psalmist is facing.  Not a little problem.

The psalmist is quick to confess.  “O God, you know my folly; the wrongs I have done are not hidden from you”.  There is no argument that he has not done things right.  Confession is a powerful thing.  It shows our acceptance of the wrongs we have done.  Too often we point fingers and want to play the blame game.  We want to accuse someone else for causing our problem.  But the reality is that sin is always a choice – our choice – and we can’t blame anyone but the person who stares back at us when we look in the mirror.  We are the reason sin happens in our life.  And we need to be quick to confess and get right with God.

The psalmist points out a big result from sin.  It leaks onto others in our patch.  Our sin is not only a problem for us, but can be for those around us as well.  Listen to this plea: “Let not those who hope in you be put to shame through me, O Lord God of hosts; let not those who seek you be brought to dishonor through me”.  When we make a choice to sin and do wrong, we certainly can cause issues for those around us.  Sin seldom stays hidden or contained.  The only way to do that is confession and repentance.

So how to people treat us when we sin?  Unfortunately, particularly in the church, we often shoot our wounded and try to get rid of the sinners.  We don’t exhibit grace like God does.  We demand perfection and certainly are not willing to let people who are struggling with sin be part of our churches.  The psalmist experienced the same: “When I wept and humbled my soul with fasting, it became my reproach. When I made sackcloth my clothing, I became a byword to them. I am the talk of those who sit in the gate, and the drunkards make songs about me”. People do kick others when they are down.  People will make fun and talk about you behind your back.  But God doesn’t.  God seeks us as sinners and offers grace.  God is the answer just as the psalmist writes: “Draw near to my soul, redeem me; ransom me”.  God is our rescuer and redeemer!

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