Wednesday 30 November, 2016

2 Samuel 18:19-19:8

19 Then Zadok’s son Ahimaaz said, “Let me run to the king with the good news that the Lord has rescued him from his enemies.” 20 “No,” Joab told him, “it wouldn’t be good news to the king that his son is dead. You can be my messenger another time, but not today.” 21 Then Joab said to a man from Ethiopia, “Go tell the king what you have seen.” The man bowed and ran off. 22 But Ahimaaz continued to plead with Joab, “Whatever happens, please let me go, too.” “Why should you go, my son?” Joab replied. “There will be no reward for your news.” 23 “Yes, but let me go anyway,” he begged. Joab finally said, “All right, go ahead.” So Ahimaaz took the less demanding route by way of the plain and ran to Mahanaim ahead of the Ethiopian. 24 While David was sitting between the inner and outer gates of the town, the watchman climbed to the roof of the gateway by the wall. As he looked, he saw a lone man running toward them. 25 He shouted the news down to David, and the king replied, “If he is alone, he has news.” As the messenger came closer, 26 the watchman saw another man running toward them. He shouted down, “Here comes another one!” The king replied, “He also will have news.” 27 “The first man runs like Ahimaaz son of Zadok,” the watchman said. “He is a good man and comes with good news,” the king replied. 28 Then Ahimaaz cried out to the king, “Everything is all right!” He bowed before the king with his face to the ground and said, “Praise to the Lord your God, who has handed over the rebels who dared to stand against my lord the king.” 29 “What about young Absalom?” the king demanded. “Is he all right?” Ahimaaz replied, “When Joab told me to come, there was a lot of commotion. But I didn’t know what was happening.” 30 “Wait here,” the king told him. So Ahimaaz stepped aside. 31 Then the man from Ethiopia arrived and said, “I have good news for my lord the king. Today the Lord has rescued you from all those who rebelled against you.” 32 “What about young Absalom?” the king demanded. “Is he all right?” And the Ethiopian replied, “May all of your enemies, my lord the king, both now and in the future, share the fate of that young man!” 33 The king was overcome with emotion. He went up to the room over the gateway and burst into tears. And as he went, he cried, “O my son Absalom! My son, my son Absalom! If only I had died instead of you! O Absalom, my son, my son.” 19 Word soon reached Joab that the king was weeping and mourning for Absalom. 2 As all the people heard of the king’s deep grief for his son, the joy of that day’s victory was turned into deep sadness. 3 They crept back into the town that day as though they were ashamed and had deserted in battle. 4 The king covered his face with his hands and kept on crying, “O my son Absalom! O Absalom, my son, my son!” 5 Then Joab went to the king’s room and said to him, “We saved your life today and the lives of your sons, your daughters, and your wives and concubines. Yet you act like this, making us feel ashamed of ourselves. 6 You seem to love those who hate you and hate those who love you. You have made it clear today that your commanders and troops mean nothing to you. It seems that if Absalom had lived and all of us had died, you would be pleased. 7 Now go out there and congratulate your troops, for I swear by the Lord that if you don’t go out, not a single one of them will remain here tonight. Then you will be worse off than ever before.” 8 So the king went out and took his seat at the town gate, and as the news spread throughout the town that he was there, everyone went to him. Meanwhile, the Israelites who had supported Absalom fled to their homes.

Talk about drama! A battle, the king’s son killed, messages to the king, diplomatic language, a king in mourning.

Like any parent, David’s heart still longed for his son, Absalom, despite the murder and betrayal he had been responsible for. It is such a tragic scene.

The truth was Absalom had been lost long before, and David’s actions in shutting himself away to mourn, rather than celebrating with his army, meant he was not giving honour where it was due. In the face of insurrection this could only fuel the precarious situation.

Thank God for Joab his commander. When I read about Joab’s reaction and confrontation of David, I am at first shocked at his seeming insensitivity. However Joab could think rationally when David could not, lost in his grief. Joab actually upheld David as king, as leader of Israel, by calling him to acknowledge his army and their loyalty.

Our church leaders are likewise to receive our support and encouragement in their dedication to serving the Lord. We are called to honour and uphold our pastors, who are the public face of our church on most occasions, and therefore visible targets for challenge and even attack. My role is “to have their back” – by honouring them, in the way I speak about them, by praying for them, and by serving them.

I am to be their Joab.

Dear Lord, I thank you for our leaders you have placed over us in our church, who you have called and who I honour. I pray you will give them wisdom, singularity of purpose, and strength to serve you. Amen

Written by Claire Moore

2 replies
  1. Stephen Fell says:

    Great post Claire, and thanks for acknowledging our leaders in this way, and encouraging us to be their Joabs. We are an incredibly blessed church with the extraordinary leaders we have caring, guiding, and teaching us. Let us continue to not just uphold them, but defend them.

[comments closed]

Tuesday 29 November, 2016

2 Samuel 18:1-18

18 David now mustered the men who were with him and appointed generals and captains[a] to lead them. 2 He sent the troops out in three groups, placing one group under Joab, one under Joab’s brother Abishai son of Zeruiah, and one under Ittai, the man from Gath. The king told his troops, “I am going out with you.” 3 But his men objected strongly. “You must not go,” they urged. “If we have to turn and run—and even if half of us die—it will make no difference to Absalom’s troops; they will be looking only for you. You are worth 10,000 of us,[b] and it is better that you stay here in the town and send help if we need it.” 4 “If you think that’s the best plan, I’ll do it,” the king answered. So he stood alongside the gate of the town as all the troops marched out in groups of hundreds and of thousands. 5 And the king gave this command to Joab, Abishai, and Ittai: “For my sake, deal gently with young Absalom.” And all the troops heard the king give this order to his commanders. 6 So the battle began in the forest of Ephraim, 7 and the Israelite troops were beaten back by David’s men. There was a great slaughter that day, and 20,000 men laid down their lives. 8 The battle raged all across the countryside, and more men died because of the forest than were killed by the sword. 9 During the battle, Absalom happened to come upon some of David’s men. He tried to escape on his mule, but as he rode beneath the thick branches of a great tree, his hair[c] got caught in the tree. His mule kept going and left him dangling in the air. 10 One of David’s men saw what had happened and told Joab, “I saw Absalom dangling from a great tree.” 11 “What?” Joab demanded. “You saw him there and didn’t kill him? I would have rewarded you with ten pieces of silver[d] and a hero’s belt!” 12 “I would not kill the king’s son for even a thousand pieces of silver,[e]” the man replied to Joab. “We all heard the king say to you and Abishai and Ittai, ‘For my sake, please spare young Absalom.’ 13 And if I had betrayed the king by killing his son—and the king would certainly find out who did it—you yourself would be the first to abandon me.” 14 “Enough of this nonsense,” Joab said. Then he took three daggers and plunged them into Absalom’s heart as he dangled, still alive, in the great tree. 15 Ten of Joab’s young armor bearers then surrounded Absalom and killed him. 16 Then Joab blew the ram’s horn, and his men returned from chasing the army of Israel. 17 They threw Absalom’s body into a deep pit in the forest and piled a great heap of stones over it. And all Israel fled to their homes. 18 During his lifetime, Absalom had built a monument to himself in the King’s Valley, for he said, “I have no son to carry on my name.” He named the monument after himself, and it is known as Absalom’s Monument to this day.

What a story! It’s the stuff movies are made of. Drama, duplicity and a bit of slapstick comedy thrown in. Apparently, the words “deal gently with young Absalom” meant something very different to David’s commanders than it did to David.

The hero in this passage enters the scene in verse 10 but he has no name. He stands completely alone. He can’t be bought no matter what the price. He stands up for what’s right no matter the consequences or who he must stand up to. What an amazingly brave man! And I ask myself, “am I that courageous?”

Lord, please help me stand up for what’s right no matter what the cost. Amen

Written by Boudy VanNoppen

[comments closed]

Monday 28 November, 2016

2 Samuel 17:1-29

17 Now Ahithophel urged Absalom, “Let me choose 12,000 men to start out after David tonight. 2 I will catch up with him while he is weary and discouraged. He and his troops will panic, and everyone will run away. Then I will kill only the king, 3 and I will bring all the people back to you as a bride returns to her husband. After all, it is only one man’s life that you seek.[a] Then you will be at peace with all the people.” 4 This plan seemed good to Absalom and to all the elders of Israel. Hushai Counters Ahithophel’s Advice 5 But then Absalom said, “Bring in Hushai the Arkite. Let’s see what he thinks about this.” 6 When Hushai arrived, Absalom told him what Ahithophel had said. Then he asked, “What is your opinion? Should we follow Ahithophel’s advice? If not, what do you suggest?” 7 “Well,” Hushai replied to Absalom, “this time Ahithophel has made a mistake. 8 You know your father and his men; they are mighty warriors. Right now they are as enraged as a mother bear who has been robbed of her cubs. And remember that your father is an experienced man of war. He won’t be spending the night among the troops. 9 He has probably already hidden in some pit or cave. And when he comes out and attacks and a few of your men fall, there will be panic among your troops, and the word will spread that Absalom’s men are being slaughtered. 10 Then even the bravest soldiers, though they have the heart of a lion, will be paralyzed with fear. For all Israel knows what a mighty warrior your father is and how courageous his men are. 11 “I recommend that you mobilize the entire army of Israel, bringing them from as far away as Dan in the north and Beersheba in the south. That way you will have an army as numerous as the sand on the seashore. And I advise that you personally lead the troops. 12 When we find David, we’ll fall on him like dew that falls on the ground. Then neither he nor any of his men will be left alive. 13 And if David were to escape into some town, you will have all Israel there at your command. Then we can take ropes and drag the walls of the town into the nearest valley until every stone is torn down.” 14 Then Absalom and all the men of Israel said, “Hushai’s advice is better than Ahithophel’s.” For the Lord had determined to defeat the counsel of Ahithophel, which really was the better plan, so that he could bring disaster on Absalom! 15 Hushai told Zadok and Abiathar, the priests, what Ahithophel had said to Absalom and the elders of Israel and what he himself had advised instead. 16 “Quick!” he told them. “Find David and urge him not to stay at the shallows of the Jordan River[b] tonight. He must go across at once into the wilderness beyond. Otherwise he will die and his entire army with him.” 17 Jonathan and Ahimaaz had been staying at En-rogel so as not to be seen entering and leaving the city. Arrangements had been made for a servant girl to bring them the message they were to take to King David. 18 But a boy spotted them at En-rogel, and he told Absalom about it. So they quickly escaped to Bahurim, where a man hid them down inside a well in his courtyard. 19 The man’s wife put a cloth over the top of the well and scattered grain on it to dry in the sun; so no one suspected they were there. 20 When Absalom’s men arrived, they asked her, “Have you seen Ahimaaz and Jonathan?” The woman replied, “They were here, but they crossed over the brook.” Absalom’s men looked for them without success and returned to Jerusalem. 21 Then the two men crawled out of the well and hurried on to King David. “Quick!” they told him, “cross the Jordan tonight!” And they told him how Ahithophel had advised that he be captured and killed. 22 So David and all the people with him went across the Jordan River during the night, and they were all on the other bank before dawn. 23 When Ahithophel realized that his advice had not been followed, he saddled his donkey, went to his hometown, set his affairs in order, and hanged himself. He died there and was buried in the family tomb. 24 David soon arrived at Mahanaim. By now, Absalom had mobilized the entire army of Israel and was leading his troops across the Jordan River. 25 Absalom had appointed Amasa as commander of his army, replacing Joab, who had been commander under David. (Amasa was Joab’s cousin. His father was Jether, an Ishmaelite. His mother, Abigail daughter of Nahash, was the sister of Joab’s mother, Zeruiah.) 26 Absalom and the Israelite army set up camp in the land of Gilead. 27 When David arrived at Mahanaim, he was warmly greeted by Shobi son of Nahash, who came from Rabbah of the Ammonites, and by Makir son of Ammiel from Lo-debar, and by Barzillai of Gilead from Rogelim. 28 They brought sleeping mats, cooking pots, serving bowls, wheat and barley, flour and roasted grain, beans, lentils, 29 honey, butter, sheep, goats, and cheese for David and those who were with him. For they said, “You must all be very hungry and tired and thirsty after your long march through the wilderness.”

Matthew Henry wrote, “Be it observed, to the comfort of all that fear God, he turns all men’s hearts as the rivers of water, though they know not the thoughts of the Lord.” So much plotting and planning is going on in the courts of Absalom. Absalom has set his purpose, to kill his father David. He has placed his confidence in the advice of his ‘wise advisors’ believing that they will help him devise a plan that will achieve his outcome, bring him glory and suit his cause. Unknown to him, the plan he discounts would have brought him victory, but God frustrates Absalom’s plans through Hushai, a man positioned to support David and his cause. But God!

I read this story and am amazed to watch God at work in the unseen; God literally ‘turning men’s hearts as the rivers of water’ to achieve His outcome, bring Him glory and suit His cause. When I think of the verse ‘nothing formed against us will prevail’, I need to remember this story; remember that God is sovereign and even in the camp of the enemy he is frustrating their plans and changing their course so that his children, that’s you and me, are protected and safe. We are his children.

Am I resting today in the knowledge that he has my back, and that nothing formed against me will prevail? Help me Lord to live in this truth. Amen

Written by Rosie Walker

[comments closed]

Sunday 27 November, 2016

2 Samuel 16:1-23

16 When David had gone a little beyond the summit of the Mount of Olives, Ziba, the servant of Mephibosheth, was waiting there for him. He had two donkeys loaded with 200 loaves of bread, 100 clusters of raisins, 100 bunches of summer fruit, and a wineskin full of wine. 2 “What are these for?” the king asked Ziba. Ziba replied, “The donkeys are for the king’s people to ride on, and the bread and summer fruit are for the young men to eat. The wine is for those who become exhausted in the wilderness.” 3 “And where is Mephibosheth, Saul’s grandson?” the king asked him. “He stayed in Jerusalem,” Ziba replied. “He said, ‘Today I will get back the kingdom of my grandfather Saul.’” 4 “In that case,” the king told Ziba, “I give you everything Mephibosheth owns.” “I bow before you,” Ziba replied. “May I always be pleasing to you, my lord the king.” 5 As King David came to Bahurim, a man came out of the village cursing them. It was Shimei son of Gera, from the same clan as Saul’s family. 6 He threw stones at the king and the king’s officers and all the mighty warriors who surrounded him. 7 “Get out of here, you murderer, you scoundrel!” he shouted at David. 8 “The Lord is paying you back for all the bloodshed in Saul’s clan. You stole his throne, and now the Lord has given it to your son Absalom. At last you will taste some of your own medicine, for you are a murderer!” 9 “Why should this dead dog curse my lord the king?” Abishai son of Zeruiah demanded. “Let me go over and cut off his head!” 10 “No!” the king said. “Who asked your opinion, you sons of Zeruiah! If the Lord has told him to curse me, who are you to stop him?” 11 Then David said to Abishai and to all his servants, “My own son is trying to kill me. Doesn’t this relative of Saul have even more reason to do so? Leave him alone and let him curse, for the Lord has told him to do it. 12 And perhaps the Lord will see that I am being wronged[c] and will bless me because of these curses today.” 13 So David and his men continued down the road, and Shimei kept pace with them on a nearby hillside, cursing and throwing stones and dirt at David. 14 The king and all who were with him grew weary along the way, so they rested when they reached the Jordan River. 15 Meanwhile, Absalom and all the army of Israel arrived at Jerusalem, accompanied by Ahithophel. 16 When David’s friend Hushai the Arkite arrived, he went immediately to see Absalom. “Long live the king!” he exclaimed. “Long live the king!” 17 “Is this the way you treat your friend David?” Absalom asked him. “Why aren’t you with him?” 18 “I’m here because I belong to the man who is chosen by the Lord and by all the men of Israel,” Hushai replied. 19 “And anyway, why shouldn’t I serve you? Just as I was your father’s adviser, now I will be your adviser!” 20 Then Absalom turned to Ahithophel and asked him, “What should I do next?” 21 Ahithophel told him, “Go and sleep with your father’s concubines, for he has left them here to look after the palace. Then all Israel will know that you have insulted your father beyond hope of reconciliation, and they will throw their support to you.” 22 So they set up a tent on the palace roof where everyone could see it, and Absalom went in and had sex with his father’s concubines. 23 Absalom followed Ahithophel’s advice, just as David had done. For every word Ahithophel spoke seemed as wise as though it had come directly from the mouth of God.

The chapter has 3 different situations that take place, yet during these past months God has been speaking to me about what I listen to.  So the final scripture in this passage stood out to me.  Absalom follows the advice of his advisor and insults his father by sleeping with his concubines – resulting in betrayal and wickedness and a breaking of relationship.

23 Absalom followed Ahithophel’s advice, just as David had done. For every word Ahithophel spoke seemed as wise as though it had come directly from the mouth of God.

This chapter speaks to me of different peoples’ views and responses and gives a caution as to WHO and WHAT we listen to.

In a world of accessible media everyone has an opinion, a criticism, a comment – there is so much opinion, so many blogs, so much news, and comment…. However the Bible says:

Psalm 111 v 10 “The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom; sound understanding belongs to those who practice it”.

Proverbs 9 v 10 “Fear of the LORD is the foundation of wisdom. Knowledge of the Holy One results in good judgment”.

These past months God has been speaking to me to listen to Him, to His trusted people.  My encouragement has been to encourage myself not to comment or give my opinion – but “What would Jesus say”?

Lord I pray that you would give me wisdom and understanding, knowledge and good judgement.  That I would speak as you speak.  That I would not be hasty in opinion or conversation but would bring words from the mouth of God.  Help me Lord to bring Your perspective always into my conversations.

Written by Ps. Sue Botta

[comments closed]

Saturday 26 November, 2016

2 Samuel 15:13-37

13 A messenger soon arrived in Jerusalem to tell David, “All Israel has joined Absalom in a conspiracy against you!” 14 “Then we must flee at once, or it will be too late!” David urged his men. “Hurry! If we get out of the city before Absalom arrives, both we and the city of Jerusalem will be spared from disaster.” 15 “We are with you,” his advisers replied. “Do what you think is best.” 16 So the king and all his household set out at once. He left no one behind except ten of his concubines to look after the palace. 17 The king and all his people set out on foot, pausing at the last house 18 to let all the king’s men move past to lead the way. There were 600 men from Gath who had come with David, along with the king’s bodyguard. 19 Then the king turned and said to Ittai, a leader of the men from Gath, “Why are you coming with us? Go on back to King Absalom, for you are a guest in Israel, a foreigner in exile. 20 You arrived only recently, and should I force you today to wander with us? I don’t even know where we will go. Go on back and take your kinsmen with you, and may the Lord show you his unfailing love and faithfulness.” 21 But Ittai said to the king, “I vow by the Lord and by your own life that I will go wherever my lord the king goes, no matter what happens—whether it means life or death.” 22 David replied, “All right, come with us.” So Ittai and all his men and their families went along. 23 Everyone cried loudly as the king and his followers passed by. They crossed the Kidron Valley and then went out toward the wilderness. 24 Zadok and all the Levites also came along, carrying the Ark of the Covenant of God. They set down the Ark of God, and Abiathar offered sacrifices until everyone had passed out of the city. 25 Then the king instructed Zadok to take the Ark of God back into the city. “If the Lord sees fit,” David said, “he will bring me back to see the Ark and the Tabernacle again. 26 But if he is through with me, then let him do what seems best to him.” 27 The king also told Zadok the priest, “Look, here is my plan. You and Abiathar should return quietly to the city with your son Ahimaaz and Abiathar’s son Jonathan. 28 I will stop at the shallows of the Jordan River and wait there for a report from you.” 29 So Zadok and Abiathar took the Ark of God back to the city and stayed there. 30 David walked up the road to the Mount of Olives, weeping as he went. His head was covered and his feet were bare as a sign of mourning. And the people who were with him covered their heads and wept as they climbed the hill. 31 When someone told David that his adviser Ahithophel was now backing Absalom, David prayed, “O Lord, let Ahithophel give Absalom foolish advice!” 32 When David reached the summit of the Mount of Olives where people worshiped God, Hushai the Arkite was waiting there for him. Hushai had torn his clothing and put dirt on his head as a sign of mourning. 33 But David told him, “If you go with me, you will only be a burden. 34 Return to Jerusalem and tell Absalom, ‘I will now be your adviser, O king, just as I was your father’s adviser in the past.’ Then you can frustrate and counter Ahithophel’s advice. 35 Zadok and Abiathar, the priests, will be there. Tell them about the plans being made in the king’s palace, 36 and they will send their sons Ahimaaz and Jonathan to tell me what is going on.” 37 So David’s friend Hushai returned to Jerusalem, getting there just as Absalom arrived.

This is a sad chapter in the life of a mighty King David. His own son, Absalom, has plotted against him and uses deception to win the hearts of the people and take the throne from his father David. It seems that he temptation for the power-hungry to become corrupt has a long history.

How does David respond to this betrayal at the hand of his son? He is a sad and broken man. He doesn’t rally his allies to defend his throne – he just retreats, weeping as he goes. Perhaps David felt that this is his judgement for his past sins of adultery and murder. Nathan the prophet had prophesied to David that his own sons would turn against him as a result of his poor behaviour. Or perhaps David just didn’t have the heart to go to battle against his own son.

At this point David places his life and his future into the hands of God. If his kingdom is taken from him, so be it.

It’s a fine balance to know when we should fight for something, and when we should let it go and trust God to fight on our behalf. When something we want is taken from us, it is a natural human response to want to fight back or avenge yourself. It takes the wisdom of the Holy Spirit to guide us as to what to do in these situations, but truly placing the outcome in the hands of God is a liberating thing.

The Lord is my shield and my strong tower and in Him I am safe. Nothing of eternal value can be taken from me.

Written by Shelley Witt

[comments closed]

Friday 25 November, 2016

2 Samuel 15:1-12

15 After this, Absalom bought a chariot and horses, and he hired fifty bodyguards to run ahead of him. 2 He got up early every morning and went out to the gate of the city. When people brought a case to the king for judgment, Absalom would ask where in Israel they were from, and they would tell him their tribe. 3 Then Absalom would say, “You’ve really got a strong case here! It’s too bad the king doesn’t have anyone to hear it. 4 I wish I were the judge. Then everyone could bring their cases to me for judgment, and I would give them justice!” 5 When people tried to bow before him, Absalom wouldn’t let them. Instead, he took them by the hand and kissed them. 6 Absalom did this with everyone who came to the king for judgment, and so he stole the hearts of all the people of Israel. 7 After four years, Absalom said to the king, “Let me go to Hebron to offer a sacrifice to the Lord and fulfill a vow I made to him. 8 For while your servant was at Geshur in Aram, I promised to sacrifice to the Lord in Hebron if he would bring me back to Jerusalem.” 9 “All right,” the king told him. “Go and fulfill your vow.” So Absalom went to Hebron. 10 But while he was there, he sent secret messengers to all the tribes of Israel to stir up a rebellion against the king. “As soon as you hear the ram’s horn,” his message read, “you are to say, ‘Absalom has been crowned king in Hebron.’” 11 He took 200 men from Jerusalem with him as guests, but they knew nothing of his intentions. 12 While Absalom was offering the sacrifices, he sent for Ahithophel, one of David’s counselors who lived in Giloh. Soon many others also joined Absalom, and the conspiracy gained momentum.

Absalom was described earlier as a strikingly handsome man, without blemish. However, we see his true character being revealed some more in this passage. He used is good looks, and obvious charm, to woo the Israelites in gaining support to conspire against King David, his father. He then even lies why he wishes to go to Hebron, and that by fulfilling his vow, he will worship the Lord!

Jesus describes these sort of people as “wolves in sheep’s clothing” ( Matt7:15). His purpose was all about himself.

But also notice that the Israelites believed him and their numbers were building in their following of him.

This reminds me we need to be wary of those that preach something contrary to the Word, and this can be by subtle. We need to be wary of false teachers, and those who subtly are promoting themselves, and not God.

Father, I pray that I can be wise and discerning of those around me who may have ulterior motives, and keep my own motives in check, that I may always be honoring to You. Amen

Written by Stephen Fell 

[comments closed]

Thursday 24 November, 2016

2 Samuel 14:25-33

25 Now Absalom was praised as the most handsome man in all Israel. He was flawless from head to foot. 26 He cut his hair only once a year, and then only because it was so heavy. When he weighed it out, it came to five pounds![a] 27 He had three sons and one daughter. His daughter’s name was Tamar, and she was very beautiful. 28 Absalom lived in Jerusalem for two years, but he never got to see the king. 29 Then Absalom sent for Joab to ask him to intercede for him, but Joab refused to come. Absalom sent for him a second time, but again Joab refused to come. 30 So Absalom said to his servants, “Go and set fire to Joab’s barley field, the field next to mine.” So they set his field on fire, as Absalom had commanded. 31 Then Joab came to Absalom at his house and demanded, “Why did your servants set my field on fire?” 32 And Absalom replied, “Because I wanted you to ask the king why he brought me back from Geshur if he didn’t intend to see me. I might as well have stayed there. Let me see the king; if he finds me guilty of anything, then let him kill me.” 33 So Joab told the king what Absalom had said. Then at last David summoned Absalom, who came and bowed low before the king, and the king kissed him.

This is one way to get someone’s attention, though not one that I would recommend.

I imagine that Joab simply didn’t want to get involved in a family dispute. It’s too messy, or perhaps he didn’t want to be seen taking sides. Maybe he feared what David would do to him if he mentioned Absalom’s name. Would David get angry or depressed? We don’t know.

But there have been times when I didn’t want to get involved, because it was too messy or I didn’t want to take sides or some other reason, and the issue drags on far longer than it needed to.

I wish I had taken the risk and been a true friend, or even the brother I should have been. That’s what love does, it takes risks. The risk is being taken the wrong way or misunderstood. The reward? For Joab he would have kept his harvest.

Jesus loved us and took the ultimate risk. He was misunderstood and rejected. He knew that would happen yet he did it anyway, this is true love.

Jesus, I want to love others as you loved me, unconditionally and without fear of rejection. Thank you for loving me and showing me how to love others.

Written by Andrew Martin

[comments closed]

Wednesday 23 November, 2016

2 Samuel 14:1-24

14 Joab, the son of Zeruiah, knew that the king longed to see Absalom. 2 So Joab sent someone to Tekoa to have a wise woman brought back from there. Joab said to her, “Pretend you are filled with sadness. Put on the rough clothing people wear when they’re sad. Don’t use any makeup. Act like a woman who has spent many days mourning for someone who has died. 3 Then go to the king. Give him the message I’m about to give you.” And Joab told her what to say. 4 The woman from Tekoa went to the king. She bowed down with her face toward the ground. She did it to show him respect. She said, “Your Majesty, please help me!” 5 The king asked her, “What’s bothering you?” She said, “I’m a widow. My husband is dead. 6 I had two sons. They got into a fight with each other in a field. No one was there to separate them. One of my sons struck down the other one and killed him. 7 Now my whole family group has risen up against me. They say, ‘Hand over the one who struck down his brother. Then we can put him to death for killing his brother. That will also get rid of the one who will receive the family property.’ They want to kill the only living son I have left, just as someone would put out a burning coal. That would leave my husband without any son on the face of the earth to carry on the family name.” 8 The king said to the woman, “Go home. I’ll give an order to make sure you are taken care of.” 9 But the woman from Tekoa said to him, “You are my king and master. Please pardon me and my family. You and your royal family won’t be guilty of doing anything wrong.” 10 The king replied, “If people give you any trouble, bring them to me. They won’t bother you again.” 11 She said, “Please pray to the Lord your God. Pray that he will keep our nearest male relative from killing my other son. Then my son won’t be destroyed.” “You can be sure that the Lord lives,” the king said. “And you can be just as sure that not one hair of your son’s head will fall to the ground.” 12 Then the woman said, “King David, please let me say something else to you.” “Go ahead,” he replied. 13 The woman said, “You are the king. So why have you done something that brings so much harm on God’s people? When you do that, you hand down a sentence against yourself. You won’t let the son you drove away come back. 14 All of us must die. We are like water spilled on the ground. It can’t be put back into the jar. But that is not what God desires. Instead, he finds a way to bring back anyone who was driven away from him. 15 “King David, I’ve come here to say this to you now. I’ve done it because people have made me afraid. I thought, ‘I’ll go and speak to the king. Perhaps he’ll do what I’m asking. 16 A man is trying to separate me and my son from the property God gave us. Perhaps the king will agree to save me from that man.’ 17 “So now I’m saying, ‘May what you have told me prevent that man from doing what he wants. You are like an angel of God. You know what is good and what is evil. May the Lord your God be with you.’ ” 18 Then the king said to the woman, “I’m going to ask you a question. I want you to tell me the truth.” “Please ask me anything you want to,” the woman said. 19 The king asked, “Joab told you to say all of this, didn’t he?” The woman answered, “What you have told me is exactly right. And that’s just as sure as you are alive. It’s true that Joab directed me to do this. He told me everything he wanted me to say. 20 He did it to change the way things now are. You are as wise as an angel of God. You know everything that happens in the land.” 21 Later the king said to Joab, “All right. I’ll do what you want. Go. Bring back the young man Absalom.” 22 Joab bowed down with his face toward the ground. He did it to honor the king. And he asked God to bless the king. He said, “You are my king and master. Today I know that you are pleased with me. You have given me what I asked for.” 23 Then Joab went to Geshur. He brought Absalom back to Jerusalem. 24 But the king said, “He must go to his own house. I don’t want him to come and see me.” So Absalom went to his own house. He didn’t go to see the king.

This story presents another dramatic episode in David’s tumultuous life. A royal saga that continues with Joab’s plan to restore the banished Absalom to the King’s court.

The key part that ‘jumps out’ to me is verse 14: “Like water spilled on the ground, which cannot be recovered, so we must die. But that is not what God desires; rather, he devises ways so that a banished person does not remain banished from him.”

The first half is a bit philosophical – downbeat, like a excerpt from Ecclesiastes. But the second half breaks through to us like Jesus: God is active to reverse the banishment of humankind. We do well to know this deep in our hearts, like a mantra (‘God wants me back, God wants me back, God wants me back’). I am reminded also to live it as an evangelical proclamation (‘God wants you back, God wants you back, God wants you back’).

Jesus, I want this idea pushed deeply into my spirit – you want everyone, you want me – returned from the banishment of sin. Thank you that you made a way, thank you that you enlist us to lead people to that way. By your gracious love we can come to your kingly court. We love you Lord, Amen.

Written by Sam Stewart

2 replies
  1. Richard says:

    This story is one that is intriguing for the trap set. David, a generally good and righteous King, is caught in his own judgements by a crafty but well meaning general.

    One of the traits of a good leader is to ensure that there is consistency in decisions, that any person of any station can expect a similar decision, a consistent decision.

    This story highlights the interplay of personal situations with leadership of general situations and that emotions can at times cloud good judgement. Being free from bias is always a difficult thing, being aware of it is a the first step. Emotions can cloud good judgement and so, particularly with those we love the deepest, we need to be careful to make decisions that are strong and good and not emotionally charged.

    I need to ensure that my personal bias doesn’t impact my decision making, and to be as aware as possible of what that bias is in any given situation.

    Father help me to be a consistent leader, aware of the various bias that I have and open to correction where it is necessary.

[comments closed]

Tuesday 22 November, 2016

2 Samuel 13:23-39

23 Two years later, Absalom invited all the king’s sons to come to Baal Hazor. It was near the border of Ephraim. The workers who clipped the wool off Absalom’s sheep were there. 24 Absalom went to the king. He said, “I’ve had my workers come to clip the wool. Will you and your attendants please join me?” 25 “No, my son,” the king replied. “All of us shouldn’t go. It would be too much trouble for you.” Although Absalom begged him, the king still refused to go. But he gave Absalom his blessing. 26 Then Absalom said, “If you won’t come, please let my brother Amnon come with us.” The king asked him, “Why should he go with you?” 27 But Absalom begged him. So the king sent Amnon with him. He also sent the rest of his sons. 28 Absalom ordered his men, “Listen! When Amnon has had too much wine to drink, I’ll say to you, ‘Strike Amnon down.’ When I do, kill him. Don’t be afraid. I’ve given you an order, haven’t I? Be strong and brave.” 29 So Absalom’s men killed Amnon, just as Absalom had ordered. Then all the king’s sons got on their mules and rode away. 30 While they were on their way, a report came to David. It said, “Absalom has struck down all your sons. Not one of them is left alive.” 31 The king stood up and tore his clothes. Then he lay down on the ground. All his attendants stood near him. They had also torn their clothes. 32 Jonadab, the son of David’s brother Shimeah, spoke up. He said, “You shouldn’t think that all the princes have been killed. The only one who is dead is Amnon. Absalom had planned to kill him ever since the day Amnon raped his sister Tamar. 33 You are my king and master. You shouldn’t be concerned about this report. It’s not true that all your sons are dead. The only one who is dead is Amnon.” 34 While all of that was taking place, Absalom ran away. The man on guard duty at Jerusalem looked up. He saw many people coming on the road west of him. They were coming down the side of the hill. He went and spoke to the king. He said, “I see men coming down the road from Horonaim. They are coming down the side of the hill.” 35 Jonadab said to the king, “See, your sons are coming. It has happened just as I said it would.” 36 As he finished speaking, the king’s sons came in. They were weeping out loud. The king and all his attendants were also weeping very bitterly. 37 When Absalom ran away, he went to Talmai, the son of Ammihud. Talmai was king of Geshur. King David mourned many days for his son Amnon. 38 So Absalom ran away and went to Geshur. He stayed there for three years. 39 After some time the king got over his sorrow because of Amnon’s death. Then King David longed to go to Absalom.

“…The king asked him, ‘Why should he go with you?’ But Absalom urged him, so he sent with him Amnon and the rest of the king’s sons.”

It would seem to me that David’s love for his son Absalom blinded him to the plotting and dangerous intentions Absalom kept hidden. It is no easy task to discern true and false motives with someone so close to you as a family member, a loved son. But if David had been more discerning, perhaps he could have thwarted this plot.

The lessons I learn from this episode in the life of King David is – the human heart can be blindsided, especially the closer someone is to you. As a result, I need to walk closely with God who knows the motives of all, and be prepared to push for answers to my questions, especially if I am uncomfortable or unsettled by what is being planned.

I know I am called to love people – this is part of the greatest commandment. I most certainly want to love those closest to me. But I don’t want to be blind to poor decisions made with unhealthy motives. As such, I need the help, wisdom, and discernment of God and His Spirit and the courage to ask the hard questions if and when I feel they are needed.

Lord, I refuse to live in suspicion towards the people around me, but neither to do I want to be fooled. Lord, only you know all hearts, and have all wisdom. You alone can really show me the truth and best course of action in these complex moments. Lord, lead me in a walk that is close to you and courageous in asking the hard questions of people when needed.

Written by Ps. Rob Waugh

[comments closed]

Monday 21 November, 2016

2 Samuel 13:1-22

13 Some time later, David’s son Amnon fell in love with Tamar. She was the beautiful sister of Absalom. He was another one of David’s sons. 2 Amnon wanted his sister Tamar so much that it made him sick. She was a virgin, and it seemed impossible for him to do what he wanted with her. 3 Amnon had an adviser named Jonadab. He was the son of David’s brother Shimeah. Jonadab was a very clever man. 4 He asked Amnon, “You are the king’s son, aren’t you? So why do you look so worn out every morning? Won’t you tell me?” Amnon answered, “I’m in love with Tamar. She’s the sister of my brother Absalom.” 5 “Go to bed,” Jonadab said. “Pretend to be sick. Your father will come to see you. When he does, tell him, ‘I would like my sister Tamar to come and give me something to eat. Let her prepare the food right here in front of me where I can watch her. Then she can feed it to me.’ ” 6 So Amnon went to bed. He pretended to be sick. The king came to see him. Amnon said to him, “I would like my sister Tamar to come here. I want to watch her make some special bread. Then she can feed it to me.” 7 David sent a message to Tamar at the palace. He said, “Go to your brother Amnon’s house. Prepare some food for him.” 8 So Tamar went to the house of her brother Amnon. He was lying in bed. She got some dough and mixed it. She shaped the bread right there in front of him. And she baked it. 9 Then she took the bread out of the pan and served it to him. But he refused to eat it. “Send everyone out of here,” Amnon said. So everyone left him. 10 Then he said to Tamar, “Bring the food here into my bedroom. Please feed it to me.” So Tamar picked up the bread she had prepared. She brought it to her brother Amnon in his bedroom. 11 She took it to him so he could eat it. But he grabbed her. He said, “My sister, come to bed with me.” 12 “No, my brother!” she said to him. “Don’t force me! An evil thing like that should never be done in Israel! Don’t do it! 13 What about me? How could I ever get rid of my shame? And what about you? You would be as foolish as any evil person in Israel. Please speak to the king. He won’t keep me from marrying you.” 14 But Amnon refused to listen to her. He was stronger than she was. So he raped her. 15 Then Amnon hated Tamar very much. In fact, he hated her more than he had loved her before. He said to her, “Get up! Get out!” 16 “No!” she said to him. “Don’t send me away. That would be worse than what you have already done to me.” But he refused to listen to her. 17 He sent for his personal servant. He said, “Get this woman out of my sight. Lock the door behind her.” 18 So his servant threw her out. Then he locked the door behind her. Tamar was wearing a beautiful robe. It was the kind of robe the virgin daughters of the king wore. 19 She put ashes on her head. She tore the beautiful robe she was wearing. She put her hands on her head and went away. She was weeping out loud as she went. 20 When her brother Absalom saw her, he spoke to her. He said, “Has Amnon, that brother of yours, forced you to go to bed with him? My sister, don’t let it upset you. Don’t let it bother you. He’s your brother.” After that, Tamar lived in her brother Absalom’s house. She was very lonely. 21 King David heard about everything that had happened. So he became very angry. 22 And Absalom never said a word of any kind to Amnon. He hated Amnon because he had brought shame on his sister Tamar.

Appetites! In my humanness I struggle with my appetite – not just for food – but for things that please my senses. Whether it’s shopping, eating or watching TV – my senses cry out to be fed – to be paid attention – to be satisfied.

Amnon was a man with an appetite for his sister. It consumed him – he thought about her, he watched for her – he talked about her. And then he satisfied his appetite at her expense.

It’s so easy to see the result of unrestrained appetite here and to ask – How could he do this?

But the question I need to ask myself is what appetite am I struggling with?

What has my attention fixated?

What am I going to think about instead?

What am I going to talk about instead?

What am I going to do instead?

God always provides a way out of temptation – but I have to be prepared to let go of what I think I want – to take hold of what I really need.

Jesus help seek You first and Your righteousness – knowing that as I do – everything I need will be given to me by You.

Written by Ps. Linda Quinn

[comments closed]