Thursday 24 September, 2020

2 Samuel 16:1-23

16 When David had gone a short distance beyond the summit, there was Ziba, the steward of Mephibosheth, waiting to meet him. He had a string of donkeys saddled and loaded with two hundred loaves of bread, a hundred cakes of raisins, a hundred cakes of figs and a skin of wine. 2 The king asked Ziba, “Why have you brought these?” Ziba answered, “The donkeys are for the king’s household to ride on, the bread and fruit are for the men to eat, and the wine is to refresh those who become exhausted in the wilderness.” 3 The king then asked, “Where is your master’s grandson?” Ziba said to him, “He is staying in Jerusalem, because he thinks, ‘Today the Israelites will restore to me my grandfather’s kingdom.’” 4 Then the king said to Ziba, “All that belonged to Mephibosheth is now yours.” “I humbly bow,” Ziba said. “May I find favor in your eyes, my lord the king.” 5 As King David approached Bahurim, a man from the same clan as Saul’s family came out from there. His name was Shimei son of Gera, and he cursed as he came out. 6 He pelted David and all the king’s officials with stones, though all the troops and the special guard were on David’s right and left. 7 As he cursed, Shimei said, “Get out, get out, you murderer, you scoundrel! 8 The Lord has repaid you for all the blood you shed in the household of Saul, in whose place you have reigned. The Lord has given the kingdom into the hands of your son Absalom. You have come to ruin because you are a murderer!” 9 Then Abishai son of Zeruiah said to the king, “Why should this dead dog curse my lord the king? Let me go over and cut off his head.” 10 But the king said, “What does this have to do with you, you sons of Zeruiah? If he is cursing because the Lord said to him, ‘Curse David,’ who can ask, ‘Why do you do this?’” 11 David then said to Abishai and all his officials, “My son, my own flesh and blood, is trying to kill me. How much more, then, this Benjamite! Leave him alone; let him curse, for the Lord has told him to. 12 It may be that the Lord will look upon my misery and restore to me his covenant blessing instead of his curse today.” 13 So David and his men continued along the road while Shimei was going along the hillside opposite him, cursing as he went and throwing stones at him and showering him with dirt. 14 The king and all the people with him arrived at their destination exhausted. And there he refreshed himself. 15 Meanwhile, Absalom and all the men of Israel came to Jerusalem, and Ahithophel was with him. 16 Then Hushai the Arkite, David’s confidant, went to Absalom and said to him, “Long live the king! Long live the king!” 17 Absalom said to Hushai, “So this is the love you show your friend? If he’s your friend, why didn’t you go with him?” 18 Hushai said to Absalom, “No, the one chosen by the Lord, by these people, and by all the men of Israel—his I will be, and I will remain with him. 19 Furthermore, whom should I serve? Should I not serve the son? Just as I served your father, so I will serve you.” 20 Absalom said to Ahithophel, “Give us your advice. What should we do?” 21 Ahithophel answered, “Sleep with your father’s concubines whom he left to take care of the palace. Then all Israel will hear that you have made yourself obnoxious to your father, and the hands of everyone with you will be more resolute.” 22 So they pitched a tent for Absalom on the roof, and he slept with his father’s concubines in the sight of all Israel. 23 Now in those days the advice Ahithophel gave was like that of one who inquires of God. That was how both David and Absalom regarded all of Ahithophel’s advice.

David’s in a dreadful situation. His beloved son Absalom is trying to kill him to seize the throne. David’s position is incredibly dangerous, and he’s clearly at emotional rock bottom. We see here how four people respond.

David had protected and been generous to Mephibosheth, and I would have expected some loyalty. But he is overcome by ambition. He’s looking for how he can profit from David’s disaster and become king himself. (He’s blind to reality as well as David’s need.) Shiba is blinded by hatred and blind in his hatred. (David didn’t take Saul’s kingdom. It was always God’s kingdom to give to whomever he chose.) Now he’s looking for how he can hurt David when he’s down.

When Ziba sees David’s need, he doesn’t wait to be asked. He’s ready and waiting before David gets there. He’s both generous and proactive. Hushai is already infiltrating Absalom’s court to sabotage Ahithophel’s good advice. Both take huge personal risks.

The challenge for me is how will I respond when a friend is in crisis. Will I be like Ziba and be there with help before the need is even felt, or will I wait until I’m asked? Will I take a risk like Hushai or will I play it safe? Then there’s Jesus, who came looking for me before I knew I was lost. He died for me before I was even born. He became vulnerable and small for me.

Jesus, I want to be like you. Give me your eyes to see the need, your heart to be generous, and your courage to act even when it’s a risk.

Written by David Cornell

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  1. Sue says:

    These passages over these last days so expose the heart of man and woman. How challenging to read.
    But a good level to see where my heart is.
    Thank you
    Oh how I need to keep close to Jesus and walk humbly in His way.


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Wednesday 23 September, 2020

2 Samuel 15:13-37

13 A messenger came and told David, “The hearts of the people of Israel are with Absalom.” 14 Then David said to all his officials who were with him in Jerusalem, “Come! We must flee, or none of us will escape from Absalom. We must leave immediately, or he will move quickly to overtake us and bring ruin on us and put the city to the sword.” 15 The king’s officials answered him, “Your servants are ready to do whatever our lord the king chooses.” 16 The king set out, with his entire household following him; but he left ten concubines to take care of the palace. 17 So the king set out, with all the people following him, and they halted at the edge of the city. 18 All his men marched past him, along with all the Kerethites and Pelethites; and all the six hundred Gittites who had accompanied him from Gath marched before the king. 19 The king said to Ittai the Gittite, “Why should you come along with us? Go back and stay with King Absalom. You are a foreigner, an exile from your homeland. 20 You came only yesterday. And today shall I make you wander about with us, when I do not know where I am going? Go back, and take your people with you. May the Lord show you kindness and faithfulness.”[a] 21 But Ittai replied to the king, “As surely as the Lord lives, and as my lord the king lives, wherever my lord the king may be, whether it means life or death, there will your servant be.” 22 David said to Ittai, “Go ahead, march on.” So Ittai the Gittite marched on with all his men and the families that were with him. 23 The whole countryside wept aloud as all the people passed by. The king also crossed the Kidron Valley, and all the people moved on toward the wilderness. 24 Zadok was there, too, and all the Levites who were with him were carrying the ark of the covenant of God. They set down the ark of God, and Abiathar offered sacrifices until all the people had finished leaving the city. 25 Then the king said to Zadok, “Take the ark of God back into the city. If I find favor in the Lord’s eyes, he will bring me back and let me see it and his dwelling place again. 26 But if he says, ‘I am not pleased with you,’ then I am ready; let him do to me whatever seems good to him.” 27 The king also said to Zadok the priest, “Do you understand? Go back to the city with my blessing. Take your son Ahimaaz with you, and also Abiathar’s son Jonathan. You and Abiathar return with your two sons. 28 I will wait at the fords in the wilderness until word comes from you to inform me.” 29 So Zadok and Abiathar took the ark of God back to Jerusalem and stayed there. 30 But David continued up the Mount of Olives, weeping as he went; his head was covered and he was barefoot. All the people with him covered their heads too and were weeping as they went up. 31 Now David had been told, “Ahithophel is among the conspirators with Absalom.” So David prayed, “Lord, turn Ahithophel’s counsel into foolishness.” 32 When David arrived at the summit, where people used to worship God, Hushai the Arkite was there to meet him, his robe torn and dust on his head. 33 David said to him, “If you go with me, you will be a burden to me. 34 But if you return to the city and say to Absalom, ‘Your Majesty, I will be your servant; I was your father’s servant in the past, but now I will be your servant,’ then you can help me by frustrating Ahithophel’s advice. 35 Won’t the priests Zadok and Abiathar be there with you? Tell them anything you hear in the king’s palace. 36 Their two sons, Ahimaaz son of Zadok and Jonathan son of Abiathar, are there with them. Send them to me with anything you hear.” 37 So Hushai, David’s confidant, arrived at Jerusalem as Absalom was entering the city.

There’s a lot happening in this passage for King David! He is aware that he is about to be usurped by Absalom, who has positioned himself as ‘a man

of the people’, winning the hearts of those in Israel. David decides to make a getaway before a battle is started for the throne in Jerusalem and sets out with his many men. As David is watching the men go before him, he calls one man out of these many – Ittai the Gittite. The Gittites were foreigners who had not been with David for long, only since the day before! And yet when David encourages him to leave and go back to Absalom, where he will surely have more certainty, Ittai tells him “As surely as the Lord lives, and as my lord the king lives, wherever my lord the king may be, whether it means life or death, there will your servant be.”

This is such a strong depiction of biblical loyalty, particularly in the face of uncertainty. Ittai follows David, although he does not know what this will lead him to. What he does know is that David is the rightful king, and he wants to be under his leadership, regardless of the outcome. What challenges me about this is that David was an imperfect human! Yes, he was the appointed king, and he was a godly man. But he was still fallible, he made mistakes and those mistakes often had negative consequences. Yet Ittai chose to be loyal.

How much more loyal should I be to the leadership of a righteous and perfect God, even in the face of uncertainty, even when it may cost me? I am challenged by this passage to look at my heart and consider my loyalty to Christ in everything that I do.

Lord thank you that your ways are higher than ours, that your plans are perfect. God it can be so hard to follow you when we have no idea where you are leading. But we confess that it is far better to be under your leadership than our own. Help us to make choices each day, whether big or small, that are loyal to you and your ways. Amen.

Written by Ps. Madelaine Tarasenko

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Tuesday 22 September, 2020

2 Samuel 15:1-12

15 In the course of time, Absalom provided himself with a chariot and horses and with fifty men to run ahead of him. 2 He would get up early and stand by the side of the road leading to the city gate. Whenever anyone came with a complaint to be placed before the king for a decision, Absalom would call out to him, “What town are you from?” He would answer, “Your servant is from one of the tribes of Israel.” 3 Then Absalom would say to him, “Look, your claims are valid and proper, but there is no representative of the king to hear you.” 4 And Absalom would add, “If only I were appointed judge in the land! Then everyone who has a complaint or case could come to me and I would see that they receive justice.” 5 Also, whenever anyone approached him to bow down before him, Absalom would reach out his hand, take hold of him and kiss him. 6 Absalom behaved in this way toward all the Israelites who came to the king asking for justice, and so he stole the hearts of the people of Israel. 7 At the end of four years, Absalom said to the king, “Let me go to Hebron and fulfill a vow I made to the Lord. 8 While your servant was living at Geshur in Aram, I made this vow: ‘If the Lord takes me back to Jerusalem, I will worship the Lord in Hebron.’” 9 The king said to him, “Go in peace.” So he went to Hebron. 10 Then Absalom sent secret messengers throughout the tribes of Israel to say, “As soon as you hear the sound of the trumpets, then say, ‘Absalom is king in Hebron.’” 11 Two hundred men from Jerusalem had accompanied Absalom. They had been invited as guests and went quite innocently, knowing nothing about the matter. 12 While Absalom was offering sacrifices, he also sent for Ahithophel the Gilonite, David’s counselor, to come from Giloh, his hometown. And so the conspiracy gained strength, and Absalom’s following kept on increasing.

In this passage we see Absalom, third son of David, with a desire to take down his dad as King and become King himself.  His heart is deceitful exploiting what He sees as a weakness in his father’s kingdom to gain traction on his campaign. He strategically positioned himself at the gates; this being the primary sight for legal cases to be settled, he sees this as his greatest way of getting the people to resent David and get them on his side.  His deceit and conspiracy end up working. Absalom rallies a large amount of support.  

Absalom looks right. He has chariots and horsemen providing him with a look of importance with all the pomp and circumstance. He says the right things, he shows compassion and empathy.  However, the people don’t realise that Absalom is the perfect example of what Samuel warns against in 1 Samuel 8:11.

Often, we see people who we think are the perfect model of what is to come. To the Israelites, Absalom looked right, said the right things and seemed to have compassion and empathy for their circumstances. We as followers of Jesus, we need to be people who rely on the Holy Spirit, not judging by an earthly measure as to what is good or acceptable but using an eternal standard and being spirit led.  No one is perfect, definitely not David, however, he was God’s chosen which the people lost sight of.  Perspective is important, reliance on the Holy Spirit helps us to keep our eyes fixed to Jesus.

Heavenly Father, thank you that you are gracious and kind.  Thank you that you give us the Holy Spirit to help us keep our eyes on you and fixed to your ways.  We ask that you lead us, help us and enable us to reflect you to our sphere of influence today. In Jesus name, Amen.

Written by Ps. Annique Botta

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Monday 21 September, 2020

2 Samuel 14:25-33

25 In all Israel there was not a man so highly praised for his handsome appearance as Absalom. From the top of his head to the sole of his foot there was no blemish in him. 26 Whenever he cut the hair of his head—he used to cut his hair once a year because it became too heavy for him—he would weigh it, and its weight was two hundred shekels by the royal standard. 27 Three sons and a daughter were born to Absalom. His daughter’s name was Tamar, and she became a beautiful woman. 28 Absalom lived two years in Jerusalem without seeing the king’s face. 29 Then Absalom sent for Joab in order to send him to the king, but Joab refused to come to him. So he sent a second time, but he refused to come. 30 Then he said to his servants, “Look, Joab’s field is next to mine, and he has barley there. Go and set it on fire.” So Absalom’s servants set the field on fire. 31 Then Joab did go to Absalom’s house, and he said to him, “Why have your servants set my field on fire?” 32 Absalom said to Joab, “Look, I sent word to you and said, ‘Come here so I can send you to the king to ask, “Why have I come from Geshur? It would be better for me if I were still there!”’ Now then, I want to see the king’s face, and if I am guilty of anything, let him put me to death.” 33 So Joab went to the king and told him this. Then the king summoned Absalom, and he came in and bowed down with his face to the ground before the king. And the king kissed Absalom.

Gosh talk about a soap opera. Have you been keeping up with what has been going on in David’s family? But this is the day forgiveness comes into the story.

Absalom stood up to Amnon to protect the honour of his sister but that meant he had to leave town and hide away from his dad. But it looks like he found a wife and had some wonderful children. Still he was angry that he had to flee and, even now, a few years later, he had ventured back to Jerusalem, but he was still excluded from everything that involved his family.

He then took fairly drastic action (burning the fields of Joab) to get Joab’s attention who had been ignoring him – he was really on the outer!! He really wanted Joab to help him speak to the king.

While I don’t think setting fields alight is to be encouraged, this story paints a picture of persistence. Absalom wanted to sort out this issue with David. He kept trying to get David’s attention in all the ways he knew how. He got someone who had the ear of the king to intercede on his behalf. He appealed to Joab to get his sympathy so that he would take his story to David. He acknowledged that there was a wrong that needed to be discussed and that it might end badly for him – that David had control of the situation and how it would work out. 

Relationship was important to Absalom and he kept going until he got the opportunity to rebuild it.

Dear Lord thank you for painting a picture of forgiveness and persistence. Thank you for reminding us that relationships are worth fighting for even when it is hard and no one wants to listen to our side. Help us to be creative in our difficult situations – to come up with ideas about how to rebuild relationship, to ask for forgiveness and to receive it. Thanks Amen

Written by Therese Manning

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Sunday 20 September, 2020

2 Samuel 14:1-24

14 Joab son of Zeruiah knew that the king’s heart longed for Absalom. 2 So Joab sent someone to Tekoa and had a wise woman brought from there. He said to her, “Pretend you are in mourning. Dress in mourning clothes, and don’t use any cosmetic lotions. Act like a woman who has spent many days grieving for the dead. 3 Then go to the king and speak these words to him.” And Joab put the words in her mouth. 4 When the woman from Tekoa went[a] to the king, she fell with her face to the ground to pay him honor, and she said, “Help me, Your Majesty!” 5 The king asked her, “What is troubling you?” She said, “I am a widow; my husband is dead. 6 I your servant had two sons. They got into a fight with each other in the field, and no one was there to separate them. One struck the other and killed him. 7 Now the whole clan has risen up against your servant; they say, ‘Hand over the one who struck his brother down, so that we may put him to death for the life of his brother whom he killed; then we will get rid of the heir as well.’ They would put out the only burning coal I have left, leaving my husband neither name nor descendant on the face of the earth.” 8 The king said to the woman, “Go home, and I will issue an order in your behalf.” 9 But the woman from Tekoa said to him, “Let my lord the king pardon me and my family, and let the king and his throne be without guilt.” 10 The king replied, “If anyone says anything to you, bring them to me, and they will not bother you again.” 11 She said, “Then let the king invoke the Lord his God to prevent the avenger of blood from adding to the destruction, so that my son will not be destroyed.” “As surely as the Lord lives,” he said, “not one hair of your son’s head will fall to the ground.” 12 Then the woman said, “Let your servant speak a word to my lord the king.” “Speak,” he replied. 13 The woman said, “Why then have you devised a thing like this against the people of God? When the king says this, does he not convict himself, for the king has not brought back his banished son? 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. 15 “And now I have come to say this to my lord the king because the people have made me afraid. Your servant thought, ‘I will speak to the king; perhaps he will grant his servant’s request. 16 Perhaps the king will agree to deliver his servant from the hand of the man who is trying to cut off both me and my son from God’s inheritance.’ 17 “And now your servant says, ‘May the word of my lord the king secure my inheritance, for my lord the king is like an angel of God in discerning good and evil. May the Lord your God be with you.’” 18 Then the king said to the woman, “Don’t keep from me the answer to what I am going to ask you.” “Let my lord the king speak,” the woman said. 19 The king asked, “Isn’t the hand of Joab with you in all this?” The woman answered, “As surely as you live, my lord the king, no one can turn to the right or to the left from anything my lord the king says. Yes, it was your servant Joab who instructed me to do this and who put all these words into the mouth of your servant. 20 Your servant Joab did this to change the present situation. My lord has wisdom like that of an angel of God—he knows everything that happens in the land.” 21 The king said to Joab, “Very well, I will do it. Go, bring back the young man Absalom.” 22 Joab fell with his face to the ground to pay him honor, and he blessed the king. Joab said, “Today your servant knows that he has found favor in your eyes, my lord the king, because the king has granted his servant’s request.” 23 Then Joab went to Geshur and brought Absalom back to Jerusalem. 24 But the king said, “He must go to his own house; he must not see my face.” So Absalom went to his own house and did not see the face of the king.

Joab wished to see the relationship between King David and his estranged son, Absalom restored and this was to start by Absalom returning to Jerusalem. Joab didn’t feel he could approach the king on this directly so he thought out a shrewd plan which worked.  Having said that King David was quick to work out that Joab was behind this plan.

The words of the woman from Tekoa stick out to me, “Yes Joab sent me and told me what to say. He did it to place the matter before you in a different light.” Often the Lord does bring people into our lives to show us a perspective we may not have otherwise seen on our own.  Joab certainly helped David on this occasion.  It got me thinking who has helped me along the way?  The Christian life is not one you do successfully on your own. On the flip side of that who have I come alongside and helped with context?  It is interesting to ponder our dependence on one another. 

Dear Lord,  thank you for the fellow believers you have placed around me who have  helped shed light along my path. Thank you for the truth they have imparted.  Amen

Written by Ps. Ainslie Woods

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Saturday 19 September, 2020

2 Samuel 13:23-39

23 Two years later, when Absalom’s sheepshearers were at Baal Hazor near the border of Ephraim, he invited all the king’s sons to come there. 24 Absalom went to the king and said, “Your servant has had shearers come. Will the king and his attendants please join me?” 25 “No, my son,” the king replied. “All of us should not go; we would only be a burden to you.” Although Absalom urged him, he still refused to go but gave him his blessing. 26 Then Absalom said, “If not, please let my brother Amnon come with us.” The king asked him, “Why should he go with you?” 27 But Absalom urged him, so he sent with him Amnon and the rest of the king’s sons. 28 Absalom ordered his men, “Listen! When Amnon is in high spirits from drinking wine and I say to you, ‘Strike Amnon down,’ then kill him. Don’t be afraid. Haven’t I given you this order? Be strong and brave.” 29 So Absalom’s men did to Amnon what Absalom had ordered. Then all the king’s sons got up, mounted their mules and fled. 30 While they were on their way, the report came to David: “Absalom has struck down all the king’s sons; not one of them is left.” 31 The king stood up, tore his clothes and lay down on the ground; and all his attendants stood by with their clothes torn. 32 But Jonadab son of Shimeah, David’s brother, said, “My lord should not think that they killed all the princes; only Amnon is dead. This has been Absalom’s express intention ever since the day Amnon raped his sister Tamar. 33 My lord the king should not be concerned about the report that all the king’s sons are dead. Only Amnon is dead.” 34 Meanwhile, Absalom had fled. Now the man standing watch looked up and saw many people on the road west of him, coming down the side of the hill. The watchman went and told the king, “I see men in the direction of Horonaim, on the side of the hill.” 35 Jonadab said to the king, “See, the king’s sons have come; it has happened just as your servant said.” 36 As he finished speaking, the king’s sons came in, wailing loudly. The king, too, and all his attendants wept very bitterly. 37 Absalom fled and went to Talmai son of Ammihud, the king of Geshur. But King David mourned many days for his son. 38 After Absalom fled and went to Geshur, he stayed there three years. 39 And King David longed to go to Absalom, for he was consoled concerning Amnon’s death.

Ok. So David’s family dynamics were clearly dysfunctional, toxic, and very very messy. Looking at this passage through the filter of my own culture I find it hard to understand and reconcile this story of incest, lax parenting, revenge and murder. What I do note is that there is not one mention of God here. This is the kind of stuff that goes on when we follow our own desires and make choices without God.

This is the only connection I can find with this story – when I make choices with myself at the centre (not Jesus) then I run the risk of creating havoc in my own life as well as the lives of those I love. I need to guard my heart and check my choices so that what I say and do always brings glory to God and reflects His love. 

Heavenly Father, I am sorry for the times when I have allowed my own wants and desires to rule my decisions. Forgive me for the times when my actions have hurt those around me. Help me to weigh my decisions. Help me to think before I act. Thank you, Lord, for the restoring work of the Holy Spirit in my life. In Jesus Name Amen

Written by Christine Knight

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Friday 18 September, 2020

2 Samuel 13:1-22

13 In the course of time, Amnon son of David fell in love with Tamar, the beautiful sister of Absalom son of David. 2 Amnon became so obsessed with his sister Tamar that he made himself ill. She was a virgin, and it seemed impossible for him to do anything to her. 3 Now Amnon had an adviser named Jonadab son of Shimeah, David’s brother. Jonadab was a very shrewd man. 4 He asked Amnon, “Why do you, the king’s son, look so haggard morning after morning? Won’t you tell me?” Amnon said to him, “I’m in love with Tamar, my brother Absalom’s sister.” 5 “Go to bed and pretend to be ill,” Jonadab said. “When your father comes to see you, say to him, ‘I would like my sister Tamar to come and give me something to eat. Let her prepare the food in my sight so I may watch her and then eat it from her hand.’” 6 So Amnon lay down and pretended to be ill. When the king came to see him, Amnon said to him, “I would like my sister Tamar to come and make some special bread in my sight, so I may eat from her hand.” 7 David sent word to Tamar at the palace: “Go to the house of your brother Amnon and prepare some food for him.” 8 So Tamar went to the house of her brother Amnon, who was lying down. She took some dough, kneaded it, made the bread in his sight and baked it. 9 Then she took the pan and served him the bread, but he refused to eat. “Send everyone out of here,” Amnon said. So everyone left him. 10 Then Amnon said to Tamar, “Bring the food here into my bedroom so I may eat from your hand.” And Tamar took the bread she had prepared and brought it to her brother Amnon in his bedroom. 11 But when she took it to him to eat, he grabbed her and said, “Come to bed with me, my sister.” 12 “No, my brother!” she said to him. “Don’t force me! Such a thing should not be done in Israel! Don’t do this wicked thing. 13 What about me? Where could I get rid of my disgrace? And what about you? You would be like one of the wicked fools in Israel. Please speak to the king; he will not keep me from being married to you.” 14 But he refused to listen to her, and since he was stronger than she, he raped her. 15 Then Amnon hated her with intense hatred. In fact, he hated her more than he had loved her. Amnon said to her, “Get up and get out!” 16 “No!” she said to him. “Sending me away would be a greater wrong than what you have already done to me.” But he refused to listen to her. 17 He called his personal servant and said, “Get this woman out of my sight and bolt the door after her.” 18 So his servant put her out and bolted the door after her. She was wearing an ornate[a] robe, for this was the kind of garment the virgin daughters of the king wore. 19 Tamar put ashes on her head and tore the ornate robe she was wearing. She put her hands on her head and went away, weeping aloud as she went. 20 Her brother Absalom said to her, “Has that Amnon, your brother, been with you? Be quiet for now, my sister; he is your brother. Don’t take this thing to heart.” And Tamar lived in her brother Absalom’s house, a desolate woman. 21 When King David heard all this, he was furious. 22 And Absalom never said a word to Amnon, either good or bad; he hated Amnon because he had disgraced his sister Tamar.

What a terrible story of a family broken apart by lust, greed, deception, and revenge.

Here is Amnon who is full of lust, he becomes ill and then seeks (bad) advice from Jonadab his cousin.  Neither of these men have any regard for the law, their family or their sister/cousin Tamar and her future.  Amnon’s greed and lust and then the deceptive plan he gets from his cousin, brings about years of hatred and sees a family fragmented.

V 21 “When King David heard what had happened, he was very angry.”

V 22 “and though Absalom never spoke to Amnon about this, he hated Amnon deeply because of what he had done to his sister.”

What bothers me in this passage is that no one (his father or his brother) had the courage to talk about this.  To challenge Amnon’s behaviour and his sins of lust, deception and greed.

It made me think that I would much prefer a friend (brother/sister) to come to me and challenge my sin or blindness; than allow revenge, hate and unforgiveness to continue to eat at me.

If David or Absalom had gone to Amnon and challenged him (see the scriptures below) – revenge would not have been sought 2 years later, resulting in the death of Amnon; and then David would not have had another 3 years of separation from Absalom as he left town!!

Psalm 27:5-6 says:  Better is an open rebuke than hidden love.  Faithful are the wounds of a friend; profuse are the kisses of an enemy

Matthew 18:15:  If your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault, between you and him alone.  If he listens to you, you have gained your brother.

Luke 17:3:  Pay attention to yourselves!  If your brother sins, rebuke him, and if he repents, forgive him.

Lord, help us have the courage to challenge sin in our own lives.  To not allow ourselves to be deceived and commit even worse sin. Help us to be courageous and love people enough to challenge sin, with your love and mercy.  Help us Lord to love and forgive when we are wronged.  Teach us to be carriers of reconciliation, grace and forgiveness.

In Jesus name.   Amen

Written by Ps. Sue Botta

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Thursday 17 September, 2020

2 Samuel 12:26-31

26 Meanwhile Joab fought against Rabbah of the Ammonites and captured the royal citadel. 27 Joab then sent messengers to David, saying, “I have fought against Rabbah and taken its water supply. 28 Now muster the rest of the troops and besiege the city and capture it. Otherwise I will take the city, and it will be named after me.” 29 So David mustered the entire army and went to Rabbah, and attacked and captured it. 30 David took the crown from their king’s head, and it was placed on his own head. It weighed a talent of gold, and it was set with precious stones. David took a great quantity of plunder from the city 31 and brought out the people who were there, consigning them to labor with saws and with iron picks and axes, and he made them work at brickmaking. David did this to all the Ammonite towns. Then he and his entire army returned to Jerusalem.

In this passage, we return to the battle that started in Chapter 11. The Israelite army destroyed the Ammonites, then laid siege to the city of Rabbah. It was noted then that David stayed behind in Jerusalem when he should have been with the Army. What happened next, when David stayed home, is the story of Bathsheba, David and Uriah.

While that was happening, Joab is leading the army against Rabbah, and he is just about to win. Joab knows something is wrong with David and it happens because David is not where he is supposed to be. So, Joab sends for him saying, you better come quick. If you don’t, I will capture Rabbah and get the credit instead of you. Joab knows how to get David’s attention.

Don’t forget what happened to Saul when David led the army to victory. David got the credit and people loved him more than Saul.

David’s mistake started by being in the wrong place (at home) when the right place was leading his army. How many of our mistakes happen because we are not in the right place? It was David who said in Ps 119 “your Word have I hidden in my heart so that I might not sin against you”. I know for myself, when I haven’t spent time in God’s Word I’m in the wrong place. Spiritually and emotionally, when I’m struggling, I’m not in the right place.

Just as Joab called David back to the right place and leading the army, the Holy Spirit also calls us back to the right place, of being in God’s Word.

Father, being in your Word is the right place to be. Thank you for always calling us back to you, to your Word.

Written by Andrew Martin

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Wednesday 16 September, 2020

2 Samuel 12:16-25

16 David pleaded with God for the child. He fasted and spent the nights lying in sackcloth on the ground. 17 The elders of his household stood beside him to get him up from the ground, but he refused, and he would not eat any food with them. 18 On the seventh day the child died. David’s attendants were afraid to tell him that the child was dead, for they thought, “While the child was still living, he wouldn’t listen to us when we spoke to him. How can we now tell him the child is dead? He may do something desperate.” 19 David noticed that his attendants were whispering among themselves, and he realized the child was dead. “Is the child dead?” he asked. “Yes,” they replied, “he is dead.” 20 Then David got up from the ground. After he had washed, put on lotions and changed his clothes, he went into the house of the Lord and worshiped. Then he went to his own house, and at his request they served him food, and he ate. 21 His attendants asked him, “Why are you acting this way? While the child was alive, you fasted and wept, but now that the child is dead, you get up and eat!” 22 He answered, “While the child was still alive, I fasted and wept. I thought, ‘Who knows? The Lord may be gracious to me and let the child live.’ 23 But now that he is dead, why should I go on fasting? Can I bring him back again? I will go to him, but he will not return to me.” 24 Then David comforted his wife Bathsheba, and he went to her and made love to her. She gave birth to a son, and they named him Solomon. The Lord loved him; 25 and because the Lord loved him, he sent word through Nathan the prophet to name him Jedidiah.

Typical expressions of grief can include shock, sadness, crying, withdrawal, lack of self-care, feeling of numbness; anger, regret or guilt; feeling helpless or hopeless; isolation and fear of being alone, disbelief and denial of your loss. When experiencing grief, one may exhibit any or some or all of these expressions. I attended a funeral this week and in a room of 80 people, each person was expressing their grief in differing ways.

Grief truly is a personal experience that lacks predictability. 

It is easy to judge people for the way they express themselves. When David is made aware of his son’s death, he finishes his fast, washes, goes to church and goes to Bathsheba. His attendants appear critical of David behaving this way – as evidenced in verse 21 where they say to him directly, “Why are you acting this way?“.The attendants had not expected this behaviour, as evidenced in verse 18 when they said “he may do something desperate” when discussing how David may respond to the death. 

What I find amazing is that God knew how David would respond. God knew how the attendants would respond. God knows how I will respond – in each situation that I find myself in – because He made me. 

Dear God, it brings me great comfort to know that You, my maker, understand how I feel, even when those around may not understand. Thank You for making me the way You did. Amen. 

Written by Susannah Ware

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Tuesday 15 September, 2020

2 Samuel 12:1-15

12 The Lord sent Nathan to David. When he came to him, he said, “There were two men in a certain town, one rich and the other poor. 2 The rich man had a very large number of sheep and cattle, 3 but the poor man had nothing except one little ewe lamb he had bought. He raised it, and it grew up with him and his children. It shared his food, drank from his cup and even slept in his arms. It was like a daughter to him. 4 “Now a traveler came to the rich man, but the rich man refrained from taking one of his own sheep or cattle to prepare a meal for the traveler who had come to him. Instead, he took the ewe lamb that belonged to the poor man and prepared it for the one who had come to him.” 5 David burned with anger against the man and said to Nathan, “As surely as the Lord lives, the man who did this must die! 6 He must pay for that lamb four times over, because he did such a thing and had no pity.” 7 Then Nathan said to David, “You are the man! This is what the Lord, the God of Israel, says: ‘I anointed you king over Israel, and I delivered you from the hand of Saul. 8 I gave your master’s house to you, and your master’s wives into your arms. I gave you all Israel and Judah. And if all this had been too little, I would have given you even more. 9 Why did you despise the word of the Lord by doing what is evil in his eyes? You struck down Uriah the Hittite with the sword and took his wife to be your own. You killed him with the sword of the Ammonites. 10 Now, therefore, the sword will never depart from your house, because you despised me and took the wife of Uriah the Hittite to be your own.’ 11 “This is what the Lord says: ‘Out of your own household I am going to bring calamity on you. Before your very eyes I will take your wives and give them to one who is close to you, and he will sleep with your wives in broad daylight. 12 You did it in secret, but I will do this thing in broad daylight before all Israel.’” 13 Then David said to Nathan, “I have sinned against the Lord.” Nathan replied, “The Lord has taken away your sin. You are not going to die. 14 But because by doing this you have shown utter contempt for the Lord, the son born to you will die.” 15 After Nathan had gone home, the Lord struck the child that Uriah’s wife had borne to David, and he became ill.

David was on a slippery slope downhill. Not only had he slept with another man’s wife but he then had her husband killed before taking her as his own wife. David was blind to his sin! There were several opportunities for David to stop and reflect on his actions and change his path but one sin led him to another. God sent Nathan along to explain to him what he had done and yet he still didn’t see it until Nathan blurted out – This man is you!

It’s easy for us to judge David but I wonder if sometimes we are on the same slippery slope towards sin ourselves and we just don’t see it. It often starts with a small slip up, which leads us to something greater and before we know it, we are well down the path of going against God’s intentions for us. All of this and we may not even be aware of how we have strayed.

Fortunately for David, God had mercy on him by sending Nathan to make him aware of what he was doing. What a blessing! Therefore, we should be asking God to speak to us also to open our eyes to see what God sees, to reveal to us the things that temptation and selfishness has blinded us to.

Dear God, in your loving mercy we ask that you reveal to each of us any sin that we may be committing. Open our eyes to see what you see. Amen

Written by Jocelyn Petschack

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