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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Monday 14 September, 2020

2 Samuel 11:1-27

11 In the spring, at the time when kings go off to war, David sent Joab out with the king’s men and the whole Israelite army. They destroyed the Ammonites and besieged Rabbah. But David remained in Jerusalem. 2 One evening David got up from his bed and walked around on the roof of the palace. From the roof he saw a woman bathing. The woman was very beautiful, 3 and David sent someone to find out about her. The man said, “She is Bathsheba, the daughter of Eliam and the wife of Uriah the Hittite.” 4 Then David sent messengers to get her. She came to him, and he slept with her. (Now she was purifying herself from her monthly uncleanness.) Then she went back home. 5 The woman conceived and sent word to David, saying, “I am pregnant.” 6 So David sent this word to Joab: “Send me Uriah the Hittite.” And Joab sent him to David. 7 When Uriah came to him, David asked him how Joab was, how the soldiers were and how the war was going. 8 Then David said to Uriah, “Go down to your house and wash your feet.” So Uriah left the palace, and a gift from the king was sent after him. 9 But Uriah slept at the entrance to the palace with all his master’s servants and did not go down to his house. 10 David was told, “Uriah did not go home.” So he asked Uriah, “Haven’t you just come from a military campaign? Why didn’t you go home?” 11 Uriah said to David, “The ark and Israel and Judah are staying in tents,[a] and my commander Joab and my lord’s men are camped in the open country. How could I go to my house to eat and drink and make love to my wife? As surely as you live, I will not do such a thing!” 12 Then David said to him, “Stay here one more day, and tomorrow I will send you back.” So Uriah remained in Jerusalem that day and the next. 13 At David’s invitation, he ate and drank with him, and David made him drunk. But in the evening Uriah went out to sleep on his mat among his master’s servants; he did not go home. 14 In the morning David wrote a letter to Joab and sent it with Uriah. 15 In it he wrote, “Put Uriah out in front where the fighting is fiercest. Then withdraw from him so he will be struck down and die.” 16 So while Joab had the city under siege, he put Uriah at a place where he knew the strongest defenders were. 17 When the men of the city came out and fought against Joab, some of the men in David’s army fell; moreover, Uriah the Hittite died. 18 Joab sent David a full account of the battle. 19 He instructed the messenger: “When you have finished giving the king this account of the battle, 20 the king’s anger may flare up, and he may ask you, ‘Why did you get so close to the city to fight? Didn’t you know they would shoot arrows from the wall? 21 Who killed Abimelek son of Jerub-Besheth? Didn’t a woman drop an upper millstone on him from the wall, so that he died in Thebez? Why did you get so close to the wall?’ If he asks you this, then say to him, ‘Moreover, your servant Uriah the Hittite is dead.’” 22 The messenger set out, and when he arrived he told David everything Joab had sent him to say. 23 The messenger said to David, “The men overpowered us and came out against us in the open, but we drove them back to the entrance of the city gate. 24 Then the archers shot arrows at your servants from the wall, and some of the king’s men died. Moreover, your servant Uriah the Hittite is dead.” 25 David told the messenger, “Say this to Joab: ‘Don’t let this upset you; the sword devours one as well as another. Press the attack against the city and destroy it.’ Say this to encourage Joab.” 26 When Uriah’s wife heard that her husband was dead, she mourned for him. 27 After the time of mourning was over, David had her brought to his house, and she became his wife and bore him a son. But the thing David had done displeased the Lord.

What a sad story! It’s one of those where I am internally screaming “NO!!” as the story goes on.  There is such a contrast of Uriah’s honour to David’s dishonour. Uriah didn’t go home to his wife so he could have solidarity with his fellow soldiers who were suffering in the field. David committed adultery with Bathsheba and had Uriah killed.

Yet I am reminded of two things. One is Matthew 7:3 “And why worry about a speck in your friend’s eye when you have a log in your own?” Not that I have caused anyone else’s death or stolen anyone else’s spouse, but I’m sure there have been times when I’ve been critical of others’ actions and ignored my own sin.

The second is that (later) God still called David a man after his own heart. God was displeased with David, but nothing is irredeemable. God forgives and restores our relationship with him when we genuinely repent.

Heavenly Father, your grace to us is so hard to understand. Why do you forgive when we do terrible things? But I remember that even on the cross, Jesus, in the midst of your suffering you looked down and said: “Forgive them”.

Father, please help me to be gracious towards others like you are towards me. Please help me to honour you in all that I do, but when I do go wrong, help me to repent genuinely. Thank you, Lord.

Written by Megan Cornell

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Sunday 13 September, 2020

2 Samuel 10:1-19

10 In the course of time, the king of the Ammonites died, and his son Hanun succeeded him as king. 2 David thought, “I will show kindness to Hanun son of Nahash, just as his father showed kindness to me.” So David sent a delegation to express his sympathy to Hanun concerning his father. When David’s men came to the land of the Ammonites, 3 the Ammonite commanders said to Hanun their lord, “Do you think David is honoring your father by sending envoys to you to express sympathy? Hasn’t David sent them to you only to explore the city and spy it out and overthrow it?” 4 So Hanun seized David’s envoys, shaved off half of each man’s beard, cut off their garments at the buttocks, and sent them away. 5 When David was told about this, he sent messengers to meet the men, for they were greatly humiliated. The king said, “Stay at Jericho till your beards have grown, and then come back.” 6 When the Ammonites realized that they had become obnoxious to David, they hired twenty thousand Aramean foot soldiers from Beth Rehob and Zobah, as well as the king of Maakah with a thousand men, and also twelve thousand men from Tob. 7 On hearing this, David sent Joab out with the entire army of fighting men. 8 The Ammonites came out and drew up in battle formation at the entrance of their city gate, while the Arameans of Zobah and Rehob and the men of Tob and Maakah were by themselves in the open country. 9 Joab saw that there were battle lines in front of him and behind him; so he selected some of the best troops in Israel and deployed them against the Arameans. 10 He put the rest of the men under the command of Abishai his brother and deployed them against the Ammonites. 11 Joab said, “If the Arameans are too strong for me, then you are to come to my rescue; but if the Ammonites are too strong for you, then I will come to rescue you. 12 Be strong, and let us fight bravely for our people and the cities of our God. The Lord will do what is good in his sight.” 13 Then Joab and the troops with him advanced to fight the Arameans, and they fled before him. 14 When the Ammonites realized that the Arameans were fleeing, they fled before Abishai and went inside the city. So Joab returned from fighting the Ammonites and came to Jerusalem. 15 After the Arameans saw that they had been routed by Israel, they regrouped. 16 Hadadezer had Arameans brought from beyond the Euphrates River; they went to Helam, with Shobak the commander of Hadadezer’s army leading them. 17 When David was told of this, he gathered all Israel, crossed the Jordan and went to Helam. The Arameans formed their battle lines to meet David and fought against him. 18 But they fled before Israel, and David killed seven hundred of their charioteers and forty thousand of their foot soldiers.[a] He also struck down Shobak the commander of their army, and he died there. 19 When all the kings who were vassals of Hadadezer saw that they had been routed by Israel, they made peace with the Israelites and became subject to them. So the Arameans were afraid to help the Ammonites anymore.

David was a man of war and his victories were well known throughout the land. However, when David went to offer condolences to Hanun, after he lost his Dad, King Nahash, David’s actions were misinterpreted, and it spurred a whole string of events.

To me this is a case of how something can escalate and get out of hand really quickly! It started because one of Hanun’s men did not trust David’s kind actions. He mistrusted David and was suspicious of him. It seems this man’s advice to Hanun was motivated by fear and self-preservation. Other nations were drawn into the battle (which had nothing to do with them) and culminated in over 40,000 men losing their lives! This is ridiculous.

But it makes me wonder, what price do I pay when my actions are motivated by fear, mistrust and self-preservation?

Lord God, when people act in kindness towards me, help me not to respond in fear or mistrust, misinterpreting their intentions. May I be open to Your blessing instead.  

Written by Gab Martin

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Friday 11 September, 2020

2 Samuel 8:1-18

8 In the course of time, David defeated the Philistines and subdued them, and he took Metheg Ammah from the control of the Philistines. 2 David also defeated the Moabites. He made them lie down on the ground and measured them off with a length of cord. Every two lengths of them were put to death, and the third length was allowed to live. So the Moabites became subject to David and brought him tribute. 3 Moreover, David defeated Hadadezer son of Rehob, king of Zobah, when he went to restore his monument at the Euphrates River. 4 David captured a thousand of his chariots, seven thousand charioteers and twenty thousand foot soldiers. He hamstrung all but a hundred of the chariot horses. 5 When the Arameans of Damascus came to help Hadadezer king of Zobah, David struck down twenty-two thousand of them. 6 He put garrisons in the Aramean kingdom of Damascus, and the Arameans became subject to him and brought tribute. The Lord gave David victory wherever he went. 7 David took the gold shields that belonged to the officers of Hadadezer and brought them to Jerusalem. 8 From Tebah and Berothai, towns that belonged to Hadadezer, King David took a great quantity of bronze. 9 When Tou king of Hamath heard that David had defeated the entire army of Hadadezer, 10 he sent his son Joram to King David to greet him and congratulate him on his victory in battle over Hadadezer, who had been at war with Tou. Joram brought with him articles of silver, of gold and of bronze. 11 King David dedicated these articles to the Lord, as he had done with the silver and gold from all the nations he had subdued: 12 Edom and Moab, the Ammonites and the Philistines, and Amalek. He also dedicated the plunder taken from Hadadezer son of Rehob, king of Zobah. 13 And David became famous after he returned from striking down eighteen thousand Edomites in the Valley of Salt. 14 He put garrisons throughout Edom, and all the Edomites became subject to David. The Lord gave David victory wherever he went. 15 David reigned over all Israel, doing what was just and right for all his people. 16 Joab son of Zeruiah was over the army; Jehoshaphat son of Ahilud was recorder; 17 Zadok son of Ahitub and Ahimelek son of Abiathar were priests; Seraiah was secretary; 18 Benaiah son of Jehoiada was over the Kerethites and Pelethites; and David’s sons were priests.

It’s hard to read the Old Testament sometimes. How do I reconcile these events? How can killing people and hamstringing horses be justified?

I’m sure scholars have delved deep into this passage, and others like it, and can come up with insightful solutions. Maybe things like “Ruth (David’s great grandmother) was a Moabite and that’s why David kept a third of them alive – it was actually an act of mercy to spare them”. Or maybe they might say “An enemy can’t pursue and attack your nation if they don’t have any horses”. I don’t know.

Here’s what I do know… verse 15 in the Amplified Bible says that David, as King, administered JUSTICE and RIGHTEOUSNESS for all his people – and that is a prelude to what Jesus would do for you and me.

This world is not fair. Bad things happen because the world is broken because of sin and separation from God. We can’t do anything about it so God stepped in and sent Jesus. All those times we cry out to God and say “why is this happening to me – how is this fair?”, God says “I know – it isn’t fair! So let Jesus pay for it!” Jesus died on the cross to bring justice and rose from the dead, destroying sin and death forever, to make everything that is broken right again. (See Revelation 21:4)

For all those times we have strived to be right with God saying “I just can’t seem to measure up – no matter how hard I try”, God says “I know – so let Jesus do it for you. I accept you as my son, my daughter – based on HIS righteousness, not yours. You can’t earn it – it’s a gift. Do you want it?”

Dear God, yes I want it – your gift of righteousness and justice through Jesus. Justice – because I believe you’ll make all things right one day because Jesus paid for it on the cross. And righteousness – because I know I’ll never make it to heaven without Jesus’ help. Thank you, my answer is yes.  Amen 

Written by Boudy van Noppen

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Thursday 10 September, 2020

2 Samuel 7:18-29

18 Then King David went in and sat before the Lord, and he said: “Who am I, Sovereign Lord, and what is my family, that you have brought me this far? 19 And as if this were not enough in your sight, Sovereign Lord, you have also spoken about the future of the house of your servant—and this decree, Sovereign Lord, is for a mere human! 20 “What more can David say to you? For you know your servant, Sovereign Lord. 21 For the sake of your word and according to your will, you have done this great thing and made it known to your servant. 22 “How great you are, Sovereign Lord! There is no one like you, and there is no God but you, as we have heard with our own ears. 23 And who is like your people Israel—the one nation on earth that God went out to redeem as a people for himself, and to make a name for himself, and to perform great and awesome wonders by driving out nations and their gods from before your people, whom you redeemed from Egypt? 24 You have established your people Israel as your very own forever, and you, Lord, have become their God. 25 “And now, Lord God, keep forever the promise you have made concerning your servant and his house. Do as you promised, 26 so that your name will be great forever. Then people will say, ‘The Lord Almighty is God over Israel!’ And the house of your servant David will be established in your sight. 27 “Lord Almighty, God of Israel, you have revealed this to your servant, saying, ‘I will build a house for you.’ So your servant has found courage to pray this prayer to you. 28 Sovereign Lord, you are God! Your covenant is trustworthy, and you have promised these good things to your servant. 29 Now be pleased to bless the house of your servant, that it may continue forever in your sight; for you, Sovereign Lord, have spoken, and with your blessing the house of your servant will be blessed forever.”

In the previous part of this chapter, we read that David shared his idea with the prophet Nathan that he wanted to build a house for God. This sounded like an excellent idea to Nathan and he encouraged David to do so, telling him that the Lord was with him.

However, later that night God told Nathan to take a message to David that God did not want David to build a house for Him. Rather than David making a house for the Lord, God would be making him a house. God would set up a descendant after David, and God would establish his kingdom forever as the Messiah would be a descendant of David.

We then read in today’s passage a beautiful prayer, as David is pouring out his heart in awe and thanksgiving for what God has done in his life.  David is keenly aware that he is unworthy to have received such grace and goodness from God. I am also struck by David’s repeated use of the term “Sovereign Lord”, reminding himself that God is in control of the world and in control of David’s life.

Gratitude, and also reminding ourselves of the sovereignty of God, are extremely healthy practices for each one of us.

Gratitude reminds us of the goodness of God in spite of all our faults and weaknesses. David had a lot of personal failure in his life and knew that he didn’t deserve the blessings that God was giving him.  We too, have so much to be thankful for – we have been forgiven, set free from sin, chosen by God to be part of His family and promised an eternal home in His Kingdom.

In addition to practicing gratitude, acknowledging the sovereignty of God is a great antidote to anxiety. It reminds us that we don’t have to try and control everything – that the world and our very lives are in the hands of One much more powerful, more loving and more capable than we are.

Lord, today I am once again in awe of Your goodness to me and comforted by Your sovereignty and power. Whatever crazy stuff this world may be throwing at us right now, we can rest in peace, knowing that our gracious Sovereign Lord is still on the throne, and we are safe in His hands.

Written by Shelley Witt

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