Archive for September, 2012

2 Samuel 22

2 Samuel 22 begins with David praising God.  “David spoke to the Lord the words of this song on the day when the Lord delivered him from the hand of all his enemies”.  How should we respond when God works in our life?  We should praise Him.  Praise Him.  It is that simple.  And it is personal, very personal.  Look at how David talks about His relationship with God.  “The Lord is…

  • my rock
  • my fortress
  • my deliverer
  • my God
  • my rock
  • my shield
  • my salvation
  • my stronghold
  • my refuge
  • my savior

This is not some theoretical relationship – this is very personal.  And that is how God wants it – He wants to be mine.  He wants me to be His.

David tells us the story.  He is being pursued.  His enemies are all over him.  David is overwhelmed and does the one thing he can do.  “I call upon the Lord….and I am saved from my enemies….In my distress I called upon the Lord….he heard my voice….Then the earth reeled and rocked….because he was angry”.  He cries out, and God hears.  When overcome by the circumstances, David cries to God.  God hears.  God responds.  God saves.

So what happens?  God rescues David.  Check out how God responded to David’s plea for help:

–       “Smoke went up from his nostrils

–       devouring fire from his mouth

–       glowing coals flamed forth from him

–       He bowed the heavens and came down

–       thick darkness was under his feet

–       He rode on a cherub and flew

–       He was seen on the wings of the wind

–       He made darkness around him his canopy, thick clouds, a gathering of water

–       fire flamed forth

–       The Lord thundered from heaven

–       the Most High uttered his voice

–       He sent out arrows and scattered them

–       lightning, and routed them

–       He sent from on high

–       He took me

–       He drew me out of many waters

–       He rescued me from my strong enemy

–       the Lord was my support

–       He brought me out into a broad place

–       He rescued me

Wow – quite a response to David’s cry for help isn’t it?  God is able, He is listening, and He stands ready to act.  The question is – do we pray?  Do we seek His face?  Are we watching His hand?

Seems like quite a response doesn’t it?  What did David do to get God to act that powerfully?  First of all – David asked.  He cried to God.  He didn’t try and fix it himself.  He admitted there was a need for God’s help and he asked for it.  But scripture also tells us this wasn’t the first time David had talked with God.  They were in a relationship, a deep relationship.  In fact, David lived, or attempted to live, the way God desired.  Scripture says God responded “according to the cleanness of my hands he rewarded me….I have kept the ways of the Lord….from his statutes I did not turn aside….I was blameless before him….I kept myself from guilt….and the Lord has rewarded me according to my righteousness, according to my cleanness in his sight”.  Want a reason to walk closely with God?  Here is an example of a really good one.  God hears the cries of His own.  David was not perfect.  He was sinner just like the rest of us.  He killed people.  He did things that make us look like angels.  Yet he dealt with those sins, got right with God, and lived as well as He could in God’s presence.  And He reached out to God as His Rock.  Are you walking with Jesus day by day?  Are you building that relationship with the Father?

Psalm 42

Psalm 42 has the psalmist revealing how he desires God.  I love how this begins: “As a deer pants for flowing streams, so pants my soul for you, O God. My soul thirsts for God, for the living God”.  That is some serious desire.  Not some ‘when it fits I’ll connect’ sort of desire – it is life empowering and critical for the psalmist to spend time with God.  He thirsts for time with the Father.  Oh that we would start our day that way, and like we seek a drink in the morning, we would seek to fill our void with time with the One who created us.

He goes on to write “My tears have been my food day and night, while they say to me continually, “Where is your God”?  The writer is having a hard time getting connected with God.  He agonizes over the separation, and those around him are asking where God is.  The psalmist feels forgotten and wonders where God is.  But at the same time, he clings to the truth that God never leaves.  And he challenges himself to “hope in God” because that is the only thing we can do and know for certain – that “the Lord commands His steadfast love, and at night His sound is with me”.  God never leaves nor forsakes us.

So why do we lose sight of our walk with God?  Because we take our eyes off Him and focus solely on ourselves.  We pull away, He doesn’t.  We may call out to God like the psalmist did “why have you forgotten me”?  But the reality is that God is the same yesterday, today and forever.  He doesn’t move.  He doesn’t go anywhere.  He is there today like He was yesterday, and the eternity before that.  The reality is that we need to focus on Him and staying connected.

How do we do that?  The psalmist tells us how.  “Hope in God; for I shall again praise him, my salvation and my God”.  He says it twice in this chapter alone.  We have to place our hope and trust in Him.  We have to put Him back in the center of our life – on the throne where He belongs – and get rid of self sitting there.  We need to worship Him and praise Him and elevate Him to His rightful place as King of Kings.  We need to confess Him as Savior – the source of our salvation.  And we need to be intimate and personal with Him.  He is not some blob up in the sky – He is our God, our Savior, our Lord.  We need to seek and find the relationship that He desires with us as deeply as we need to desire with Him.  Are you panting for God?

Psalm 41

Psalm 41 reminds us that God cares for those who are less fortunate.  “Blessed is the one who considers the poor! In the day of trouble the Lord delivers him; the Lord protects him and keeps him alive; he is called blessed in the land”.  That is quite a promise.  God does pay attention to how we live and what we do.  And God is not oblivious to those less fortunate.  He knows about widows and orphans, the hungry and those in need.  And God expects those of us with plenty to share it freely with those who don’t have anything.

Scripture is clear in many places that God cares for those in need.  So the question is – how are you doing in serving those folks?  How we live does matter.  We can talk about all sorts of things – but our checkbook really tells the story.  Often people talk a good talk but when you look in the check register, you find that their talk is not aligned with the checkbook.  We need to be sure that we are giving freely to those less fortunate.  We need to be living our faith.

The psalmist is under attack from all sorts of places, but the things that is most troubling for him, and for us when it happens is this: “Even my close friend in whom I trusted, who ate my bread, has lifted his heel against me”.  It’s one thing when we are attacked from outside, but it is really frustrating when those attacks come from our friends.  When those we have invested in and given to turn on us, it makes us angry.  The reality is that people are people and it will happen to us – not by all those who we call friends – but certainly by some.

At the end of the day, we truly can’t trust anyone except God.  “You have upheld me because of my integrity, and set me in your presence forever”.  God pays attention to how we live.  He notices our integrity.  How we live matters.  And when we live that way, we are put in God’s presence forever.  We are connected to the rock that does not move.  We are in the presence of the God who never changes.  We have a future that is secure, and a power that never runs out.  God is our rock.  He is our source of eternal life. We need to walk with integrity and cling to Him!

Psalm 38

Psalm 38 has the psalmist in a tough situation.  Life is not going well.  “There is no health in my bones because of my sin….my iniquities have gone over my head…..like a heavy burden, they are too heavy for me”.  Life is hard.  And when we do it on our own, it is overwhelming.  The psalmist has the same disease each of us has – the disease of self.  And self leads us to one place – sin.  We do what we want when we want how we want.  That never ends well – it causes us to choose poorly and fall into sin.

There is a cost to sin.  The cost is quite severe, and terminal.  The wages of sin are death according to scripture. But it isn’t an immediate death.  Sin causes us to suffer before we face the eternal consequence.  Sin is a big deal.  It can’t be ignored.  We had to not only admit it exists in our life, but we have to deal with the reality of the outcome.  And the psalmist is right there, in the middle of “my foolishness” which is the only way to describe just how stupid we are in the choices we make leading us to sin.

So we all have the problem.  What can we do?  “But for you, O Lord, do I wait; it is you, O Lord my God, who will answer”.  We have to run to God.  He offers the ONLY solution to our sin problem.  We can’t fix it ourselves.  It takes a sacrifice to cover our sin.  God has provided a solution.  He sent His only Son to the Cross to provide a means for us to cover the sin problem in our life.  Jesus died, and rose again, so that we can be set free from the penalty of our sin.  That gift of grace is freely offered to each of us – it is ours for the receiving – but we have to be willing to confess our sin, repent and turn around, and receive the gift of Christ’s blood to cover our sin.

That means we admit we are wrong, which is a big deal for most of us.  But we are, all of us are guilty, and trust me everyone else knows it.  In fact, the sad truth is that the world is actually there helping make sure we fail.  “Those who render me evil for good accuse me because I follow after good”.  The sidelines are not filled with people rooting for our success.  Most around us are waiting to see us fail.  Unfortunately that is how many people are – since they can’t seem to get what they want, they want everyone else to experience the same misery too.  But God is not only rooting for us to experience blessing, He has created the only real way to do that – Jesus Christ.  Have you been set free from the burden of sin?  Are you walking with the One who is not only on your side but will see to your success?  He is there, waiting to do exactly that!

Psalm 5

Psalm 5 has the psalmist seeking God’s ear.  “Give ear to my words…consider my groaning”.  Do you come to God with passion, or just as an after thought?  The psalmist continues “Give attention to the sound of my cry….for to you do I pray”.  He lets us know that he seeks God in the morning, it is how he prepares for his day.  It is a good habit to build – that we start our day on our face before God.

Scripture reminds us that God does not “delight in wickedness, evil may not dwell with you”.  Often people tend to feel like folks get away with things.  But that is never really true. God may not immediately do things that deal with wickedness and evil, but it does not go unnoticed and God will respond.  He cannot tolerate sin.  He will not ignore evil.  God will deal with it in His time and in His way.  We just need to keep that truth in mind.

The psalmist is able to move past the reality that evil is assaulting him and keep perspective on how to deal with it.  The way we should do that is to come into God’s presence.  Check out what scripture says: “But I, through the abundance of your steadfast love, will enter your house. I will bow down toward your holy temple in the fear of you”.  The psalmist doesn’t even claim to be able to do this on his own, but based on God’s love.  God enables us to seek Him.  He allows us to enter His house and worship Him.  That is what we need to do – come into the presence of God!

What do we ask for as we seek God?  Here is a short list we can ask:

–       “Lead me

–       make your way straight before me

–      let all who take refuge in you rejoice

–       let them ever sing for joy

–       spread your protection over them

–       those who love your name may exult in you

–       bless the righteous

–       cover him with favor as with a shield

We can seek God’s direction, protection, and blessing.  He is there.  He is listening.  He answers prayer!

2 Samuel 21

2 Samuel 21 has the kingdom of David in a famine.  Not just a little famine but three years in a row.  Things are getting a little rough.  David goes to the Lord to seek what the issue is that is causing this situation.  The problem was that Saul had not kept his promise regarding the Gibeonites.  “The people of Israel had sworn to spare them” but Saul struck them down.  God is punishing the people for Saul’s failure to obey.  David then asks “and how shall I make atonement that you may bless the heritage of the Lord”?

David seeks an answer on how to make things right.  God sends him to the people of Gibeah to make things right.  They asked for seven sons of Saul to be hanged “the seven of them perished together”.  It is a stiff penalty for violating the agreement that had been in place.  It gets a little weird in that David “brought up from there the bones of Saul and the bones of his son Jonathan; and they gathered the bones of those who were hanged.  And they buried the bones of Saul and his son Jonathan in the land of Benjamin”.

So David answered the request of the Gibeonites and had seven of Saul’s sons hanged, and then buried their bones along with the bones of Saul and Jonathan “in a tomb of Kish his father”.  Once done, “God responded to the plea for the land”.  So what is the lesson here?  Obedience is rather important when one makes a promise.  And restitution can cost a lot.

David was under attack by the Philistines.  He has defeated them numerous times in his career, but they keep coming back like a bad dream.  Scripture tells us this important detail.  “David grew weary” as he was fighting against them, and one of his guys, Abishai, came to his rescue.  But at this point David’s men said “You shall no longer go out with us to battle, lest you quench the lamp of Israel”.  David had grown old and was no longer able to keep up on the battlefield.  So in their wisdom, his team asked him to remain back at the ranch rather than going into battle with them.  Big step to take – to hand off that important task to others.  But David complies and the chapter ends with a number of other battles with the Philistines where other members of his army were the stars.  Transition is difficult, but very important.  There will also need to be a passing of the torch.  David waits a bit too long to do so, but he finally is guided there and does make it happen before it is too late.

2 Samuel 20

2 Samuel 20 records the story of a guy named Sheba, whom the Bible refers to as “a worthless man”.  That’s quite an introduction.  Sheba was from the tribe of Benjamin, son of Bichri.  He “blew the trumpet and said ‘we have no portion in David, and we have no inheritance’”.  So all the men heard him cry out and decided to follow him rather than David the king.  They bought into his lies and stopped following the king.  The reality is that people sometimes follow a leader blindly, and in this case, it turns out poorly.

David hears about the situation and decides to send Amasa who is now leading the army, after Sheba.  Amasa is slow to get things organized and launched, but heads out with the army under David’s orders.  “Take your lord’s servants and pursue him, lest he get himself to fortified cities and escape from us”.  David sees things spiraling out of control again, and decides to take a proactive approach and bring down the uprising early this time.

It is important to remember what has just happened.  Joab has been removed as the leader of the army, at least on the org chart.  But scripture says it this way: “And there went out after him Joab’s men and the Cherethites and the Pelethites, and all the mighty men”.  These guys were not loyal to Amasa, who was just put in charge.  They were loyal to Joab and David.  Joab takes the situation in his own hand and “Joab took Amasa by the beard with his right hand to kiss him. But Amasa did not observe the sword that was in Joab’s hand. So Joab struck him with it in the stomach and spilled his entrails to the ground without striking a second blow, and he died”.  A pretty grueling death to Amasa who didn’t serve long in the role David placed him.

Joab takes off with the army to chase down Sheba.  Amasa is left lying in his own blood right in the middle of the road for all to see.  That sent a pretty strong signal to the men in the army about who was in charge.  They chase Sheba into Abel where he holds up behind the walls.  Abel was a city where people would come to get counsel and settle things.  One of the “peaceable and faithful in Israel” – a judge who provided counsel – called Joab to find out why he was holding the city in siege.  Joab says he wants Sheba dead.  This counselor – a woman of wisdom – took the request to the city leaders and they beheaded Sheba and sent Joab away with no further damage.  They threw Sheba’s head over the wall and the army departed and went home as they had done their job.

David’s org chart is revealed as this chapter closes.  He has a list of key leaders that were doing the key tasks in the kingdom.  It is important to note that, while even as king, David knew he needed to be surrounded by good and competent people to get things done.

  • Joab was in command of all the army of      Israel
  • Benaiah the son of Jehoiada was in command of the      Cherethites and the Pelethites
  • Adoram was in charge of the forced labor
  • Jehoshaphat the son of Ahilud was the recorder
  • Sheva was secretary
  • Zadok and Abiathar were priests
  • Ira the Jairite was also David’s priest

Quite a list of folks who carried the load along with David.  Sometimes we miss these details and think that David just did it alone, or with his mighty men.  But he has a team that surrounded him and helped him rule the kingdom.  It is how things get done!

2 Samuel 19

2 Samuel 19 has David mourning the death of Absalom his son.  Seems a bit strange as Absalom had tried to take away his kingdom and kill him.  But David was mourning and carrying on.  Joab was one of the leaders who had caught and killed Absalom as leader of the army.  He had done his job, and was very upset with how David was acting.  After all, this was the outcome that was needed to restore the king to power and put the kingdom back where it belongs.  Joab decides he is the one who needs to jar the king out of his funk.  Joab takes a strong stance and delivers the message that David is focused on the wrong things.

“Then Joab came into the house to the king and said, “You have today covered with shame the faces of all your servants, who have this day saved your life and the lives of your sons and your daughters and the lives of your wives and your concubines, because you love those who hate you and hate those who love you. For you have made it clear today that commanders and servants are nothing to you, for today I know that if Absalom were alive and all of us were dead today, then you would be pleased”.  How’s that for tough love and straight talk.  It was a risky move, but a leadership moment for Joab as he makes it clear that David is not focused on the right things.

How did that turn out for Joab?  Not exactly as he expected.  David replaces him as commander of the army.  He puts Amasa in charge and takes Joab out of power.  Leadership sometimes has a huge price.  Joab delivered the right message.  He didn’t necessarily do it in the right way, but it was what needed to be said.  The army had risked their life to protect the king and his people, and they had won.  So Joab’s leadership was rebuffed and he was removed.  Tough response from a king that wasn’t ready for the message in his sorrow.

David begins to restore the tribes of Israel to his kingdom.  As they begin to return and lineup, a funny thing happens.  They begin to jockey for position.  “Why have our brothers the men of Judah stolen you away and brought the king and his household over the Jordan”.  The tribes begin to get territorial and thinking they should have more power or position than another tribe.  They base it on their relationship, their past history, their performance – all kinds of justification for why they should be the center of attention.  Amazing how power corrupts people.  Not long before they didn’t want anything to do with David as king.  In fact, they were not even aligned with him.  And now, they think they own him, the kingdom and the power.  That is people in action.  All about self.  All about power.  All about taking.  Oh how some things never change!

Psalm 64

Psalm 64 has the psalmist again pleading to God to hear him.  He is under attack.  “Preserve my life from dread of the enemy”.  There are all sorts of “secret plots of the wicked…..who whet their tongues like swords”.  So often evil attacks from so many ways.  Sometimes it is a physical attack, and other times it is subtle, like words.  The enemies of God, be they people we can see, or the unseen forces of evil, have one common goal which is to destroy us and our testimony for God.

But God is able to protect us.  God is able to defeat any enemy who may pursue us.  We need to call out, like the psalmist does, to seek God’s help.  We need to pray continually for God’s watch care and protection.  We need to ask for His hedge of protection.  And we need to seek His action.  “But God shoots his arrow at them; they are wounded suddenly. They are brought to ruin”.  God is able, more than able, to take care of the situation and take out any enemy.  What we have to do is invite Him into the battle.

I love what the psalmist says happens when God moves this way.  “Then all mankind fears; they tell what God has brought about and ponder what he has done”.  When God destroys the enemy, we need to tell the story of His goodness.  We need to let the world know what God has done.  We need to shout His blessing.  “Let the righteous one rejoice in the Lord and take refuge in him! Let all the upright in heart exult”!  We need to rejoice in what God does and take refuge in Him as we praise and exalt His name.  There is so much to praise God for.  And as we do, those in our patch will hear of God’s love and protection and fear Him.  Our praise will bring others to understand just how awesome our God is!

Psalm 62

Psalm 62 describes how the psalmist sees God.  He talks about what he knows to be true about God.  And the list is long:

–       “For God alone my soul waits in silence

–       from him comes my salvation

–       He only is my rock

–       my salvation

–       my fortress

–       I shall not be greatly shaken

–       my hope is from him

–       He only is my rock

–       my salvation

–       my fortress

–       I shall not be shaken

–       On God rests my salvation

–       my glory

–       my mighty rock

–       my refuge

Wow – that is quite a list about the God who created the universe and you and me.  He is awesome.  He is our rock.  He is our salvation.  He is our fortress.  He is our refuge.  He is our strength.

So what?  That may be your response.  Well the answer is ‘so a lot’.  This list describes what we can receive if we put God where He belongs in our life.  It tells us what can be ours.  So what should we do?  “Trust in Him at all times…..pour out your heart before Him”.  God wants a relationship with us.  He wants to have us trust in Him.  Not in ourselves, but in His power and His faithfulness and His strength.  And He wants it to come from our heart.  He wants us to seek His goodness and be in relationship with Him.

Why does that matter?  “For You will render to a man according to his work”.  God may be a whole lot of great things – but He is also judge and jury.  He also will determine our eternity based on how we live.  God is going to give us what we deserve – which is eternal separation from Him unless we have lived a perfect life.  Of course none of us make it on our own, which is why Jesus had to come and shed His blood on the cross.  He is how we can deal with the sin problem we have and how we receive the rendering of eternal life with our God.  Is Jesus part of your story?  Have you given your life to Him and received the gift of grace from our God?  Today can be the day of salvation!

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