Thursday 1 October, 2020

2 Samuel 21:1-25

21 During the reign of David, there was a famine for three successive years; so David sought the face of the Lord. The Lord said, “It is on account of Saul and his blood-stained house; it is because he put the Gibeonites to death.” 2 The king summoned the Gibeonites and spoke to them. (Now the Gibeonites were not a part of Israel but were survivors of the Amorites; the Israelites had sworn to spare them, but Saul in his zeal for Israel and Judah had tried to annihilate them.) 3 David asked the Gibeonites, “What shall I do for you? How shall I make atonement so that you will bless the Lord’s inheritance?” 4 The Gibeonites answered him, “We have no right to demand silver or gold from Saul or his family, nor do we have the right to put anyone in Israel to death.” “What do you want me to do for you?” David asked. 5 They answered the king, “As for the man who destroyed us and plotted against us so that we have been decimated and have no place anywhere in Israel, 6 let seven of his male descendants be given to us to be killed and their bodies exposed before the Lord at Gibeah of Saul—the Lord’s chosen one.” So the king said, “I will give them to you.” 7 The king spared Mephibosheth son of Jonathan, the son of Saul, because of the oath before the Lord between David and Jonathan son of Saul. 8 But the king took Armoni and Mephibosheth, the two sons of Aiah’s daughter Rizpah, whom she had borne to Saul, together with the five sons of Saul’s daughter Merab,[a] whom she had borne to Adriel son of Barzillai the Meholathite. 9 He handed them over to the Gibeonites, who killed them and exposed their bodies on a hill before the Lord. All seven of them fell together; they were put to death during the first days of the harvest, just as the barley harvest was beginning. 10 Rizpah daughter of Aiah took sackcloth and spread it out for herself on a rock. From the beginning of the harvest till the rain poured down from the heavens on the bodies, she did not let the birds touch them by day or the wild animals by night. 11 When David was told what Aiah’s daughter Rizpah, Saul’s concubine, had done, 12 he went and took the bones of Saul and his son Jonathan from the citizens of Jabesh Gilead. (They had stolen their bodies from the public square at Beth Shan, where the Philistines had hung them after they struck Saul down on Gilboa.) 13 David brought the bones of Saul and his son Jonathan from there, and the bones of those who had been killed and exposed were gathered up. 14 They buried the bones of Saul and his son Jonathan in the tomb of Saul’s father Kish, at Zela in Benjamin, and did everything the king commanded. After that, God answered prayer in behalf of the land. 15 Once again there was a battle between the Philistines and Israel. David went down with his men to fight against the Philistines, and he became exhausted. 16 And Ishbi-Benob, one of the descendants of Rapha, whose bronze spearhead weighed three hundred shekels[b] and who was armed with a new sword, said he would kill David. 17 But Abishai son of Zeruiah came to David’s rescue; he struck the Philistine down and killed him. Then David’s men swore to him, saying, “Never again will you go out with us to battle, so that the lamp of Israel will not be extinguished.” 18 In the course of time, there was another battle with the Philistines, at Gob. At that time Sibbekai the Hushathite killed Saph, one of the descendants of Rapha. 19 In another battle with the Philistines at Gob, Elhanan son of Jair the Bethlehemite killed the brother of Goliath the Gittite, who had a spear with a shaft like a weaver’s rod. 20 In still another battle, which took place at Gath, there was a huge man with six fingers on each hand and six toes on each foot—twenty-four in all. He also was descended from Rapha. 21 When he taunted Israel, Jonathan son of Shimeah, David’s brother, killed him. 22 These four were descendants of Rapha in Gath, and they fell at the hands of David and his men.

The Gibeonites had obtained an allegiance with the Israelites through deception (see Joshua 9), and the Israelites did not seek God’s face before making this promise of allegiance. Despite these circumstances God took the promise seriously – generations later He sends a famine as a message to His people that they need to make right this promise that Saul has broken.

We also see in this passage the far-reaching effects of sin. By not seeking God’s face years before, Joshua made an allegiance that had to be honoured by his people for generations. Saul’s sin (done in zeal but wrong nonetheless) resulted in famine for his people and death for seven of his sons.

Ultimately, the justice of God requires that sin be paid for through bloodshed. Saul’s sin was ‘paid for’ by his sons’ blood. But God in His mercy knew this was not enough to make things right. Years later He sent His own perfect Son Jesus to be similarly hung on a tree and willingly shed His blood. But this time the blood was perfect, the sacrifice without blemish. And God promises that this bloodshed is enough to cover all sins for all time. And as we know God is serious about promises, especially His own. 

Thank you Lord that you promise that your precious blood is enough to cover all sin for all time. And thank you that we can trust your promise. 

Written by Rhiannon Mellor

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  1. Megan Cornell says:

    Thanks Rhiannon. You gave a simple but profound explanation of this difficult passage. Jesus’ sacrifice is perfect.

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Wednesday 30 September, 2020

2 Samuel 20:1-26

20 Now a troublemaker named Sheba son of Bikri, a Benjamite, happened to be there. He sounded the trumpet and shouted, “We have no share in David, no part in Jesse’s son! Every man to his tent, Israel!” 2 So all the men of Israel deserted David to follow Sheba son of Bikri. But the men of Judah stayed by their king all the way from the Jordan to Jerusalem. 3 When David returned to his palace in Jerusalem, he took the ten concubines he had left to take care of the palace and put them in a house under guard. He provided for them but had no sexual relations with them. They were kept in confinement till the day of their death, living as widows. 4 Then the king said to Amasa, “Summon the men of Judah to come to me within three days, and be here yourself.” 5 But when Amasa went to summon Judah, he took longer than the time the king had set for him. 6 David said to Abishai, “Now Sheba son of Bikri will do us more harm than Absalom did. Take your master’s men and pursue him, or he will find fortified cities and escape from us.” 7 So Joab’s men and the Kerethites and Pelethites and all the mighty warriors went out under the command of Abishai. They marched out from Jerusalem to pursue Sheba son of Bikri. 8 While they were at the great rock in Gibeon, Amasa came to meet them. Joab was wearing his military tunic, and strapped over it at his waist was a belt with a dagger in its sheath. As he stepped forward, it dropped out of its sheath. 9 Joab said to Amasa, “How are you, my brother?” Then Joab took Amasa by the beard with his right hand to kiss him. 10 Amasa was not on his guard against the dagger in Joab’s hand, and Joab plunged it into his belly, and his intestines spilled out on the ground. Without being stabbed again, Amasa died. Then Joab and his brother Abishai pursued Sheba son of Bikri. 11 One of Joab’s men stood beside Amasa and said, “Whoever favors Joab, and whoever is for David, let him follow Joab!” 12 Amasa lay wallowing in his blood in the middle of the road, and the man saw that all the troops came to a halt there. When he realized that everyone who came up to Amasa stopped, he dragged him from the road into a field and threw a garment over him. 13 After Amasa had been removed from the road, everyone went on with Joab to pursue Sheba son of Bikri. 14 Sheba passed through all the tribes of Israel to Abel Beth Maakah and through the entire region of the Bikrites, who gathered together and followed him. 15 All the troops with Joab came and besieged Sheba in Abel Beth Maakah. They built a siege ramp up to the city, and it stood against the outer fortifications. While they were battering the wall to bring it down, 16 a wise woman called from the city, “Listen! Listen! Tell Joab to come here so I can speak to him.” 17 He went toward her, and she asked, “Are you Joab?” “I am,” he answered. She said, “Listen to what your servant has to say.” “I’m listening,” he said. 18 She continued, “Long ago they used to say, ‘Get your answer at Abel,’ and that settled it. 19 We are the peaceful and faithful in Israel. You are trying to destroy a city that is a mother in Israel. Why do you want to swallow up the Lord’s inheritance?” 20 “Far be it from me!” Joab replied, “Far be it from me to swallow up or destroy! 21 That is not the case. A man named Sheba son of Bikri, from the hill country of Ephraim, has lifted up his hand against the king, against David. Hand over this one man, and I’ll withdraw from the city.” The woman said to Joab, “His head will be thrown to you from the wall.” 22 Then the woman went to all the people with her wise advice, and they cut off the head of Sheba son of Bikri and threw it to Joab. So he sounded the trumpet, and his men dispersed from the city, each returning to his home. And Joab went back to the king in Jerusalem. 23 Joab was over Israel’s entire army; Benaiah son of Jehoiada was over the Kerethites and Pelethites; 24 Adoniram was in charge of forced labor; Jehoshaphat son of Ahilud was recorder; 25 Sheva was secretary; Zadok and Abiathar were priests; 26 and Ira the Jairite was David’s priest.

David is back from exile, restored as king in Jerusalem!

Not everyone was so happy at this turn of events, and David sent out his best to sort it out.

The path of restoration for David was not necessarily plain sailing. I noticed he took three actions on this path:

  1. He put his house (heart) in order – v3
  2. He put the nation in order – v 6
  3. He listened to his advisors – v23-26

Restoration can look different for each of us. Perhaps restoration of faith, of relationships or into work. Even restoration of my sense of self-worth.

The most vital restoration is of my relationship with the Lord.

Psalm 51 verses 10-12 is a beautiful prayer of restoration. How wonderful to know my God wants to create a new heart in me, that he will put a right spirit within me and to restore the joy of knowing him. When I feel distant from him, these are the things I need to return to. For a new start.

Dear Lord Jesus. How can I thank you for the redemption you have brought me. You restore my soul and relationship with God the Father. Praise you forever. Amen

Written by Claire Moore

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Tuesday 29 September, 2020

2 Samuel 19:9-43

9 Throughout the tribes of Israel, all the people were arguing among themselves, saying, “The king delivered us from the hand of our enemies; he is the one who rescued us from the hand of the Philistines. But now he has fled the country to escape from Absalom; 10 and Absalom, whom we anointed to rule over us, has died in battle. So why do you say nothing about bringing the king back?” 11 King David sent this message to Zadok and Abiathar, the priests: “Ask the elders of Judah, ‘Why should you be the last to bring the king back to his palace, since what is being said throughout Israel has reached the king at his quarters? 12 You are my relatives, my own flesh and blood. So why should you be the last to bring back the king?’ 13 And say to Amasa, ‘Are you not my own flesh and blood? May God deal with me, be it ever so severely, if you are not the commander of my army for life in place of Joab.’” 14 He won over the hearts of the men of Judah so that they were all of one mind. They sent word to the king, “Return, you and all your men.” 15 Then the king returned and went as far as the Jordan. Now the men of Judah had come to Gilgal to go out and meet the king and bring him across the Jordan. 16 Shimei son of Gera, the Benjamite from Bahurim, hurried down with the men of Judah to meet King David. 17 With him were a thousand Benjamites, along with Ziba, the steward of Saul’s household, and his fifteen sons and twenty servants. They rushed to the Jordan, where the king was. 18 They crossed at the ford to take the king’s household over and to do whatever he wished. When Shimei son of Gera crossed the Jordan, he fell prostrate before the king 19 and said to him, “May my lord not hold me guilty. Do not remember how your servant did wrong on the day my lord the king left Jerusalem. May the king put it out of his mind. 20 For I your servant know that I have sinned, but today I have come here as the first from the tribes of Joseph to come down and meet my lord the king.” 21 Then Abishai son of Zeruiah said, “Shouldn’t Shimei be put to death for this? He cursed the Lord’s anointed.” 22 David replied, “What does this have to do with you, you sons of Zeruiah? What right do you have to interfere? Should anyone be put to death in Israel today? Don’t I know that today I am king over Israel?” 23 So the king said to Shimei, “You shall not die.” And the king promised him on oath. 24 Mephibosheth, Saul’s grandson, also went down to meet the king. He had not taken care of his feet or trimmed his mustache or washed his clothes from the day the king left until the day he returned safely. 25 When he came from Jerusalem to meet the king, the king asked him, “Why didn’t you go with me, Mephibosheth?” 26 He said, “My lord the king, since I your servant am lame, I said, ‘I will have my donkey saddled and will ride on it, so I can go with the king.’ But Ziba my servant betrayed me. 27 And he has slandered your servant to my lord the king. My lord the king is like an angel of God; so do whatever you wish. 28 All my grandfather’s descendants deserved nothing but death from my lord the king, but you gave your servant a place among those who eat at your table. So what right do I have to make any more appeals to the king?” 29 The king said to him, “Why say more? I order you and Ziba to divide the land.” 30 Mephibosheth said to the king, “Let him take everything, now that my lord the king has returned home safely.” 31 Barzillai the Gileadite also came down from Rogelim to cross the Jordan with the king and to send him on his way from there. 32 Now Barzillai was very old, eighty years of age. He had provided for the king during his stay in Mahanaim, for he was a very wealthy man. 33 The king said to Barzillai, “Cross over with me and stay with me in Jerusalem, and I will provide for you.” 34 But Barzillai answered the king, “How many more years will I live, that I should go up to Jerusalem with the king? 35 I am now eighty years old. Can I tell the difference between what is enjoyable and what is not? Can your servant taste what he eats and drinks? Can I still hear the voices of male and female singers? Why should your servant be an added burden to my lord the king? 36 Your servant will cross over the Jordan with the king for a short distance, but why should the king reward me in this way? 37 Let your servant return, that I may die in my own town near the tomb of my father and mother. But here is your servant Kimham. Let him cross over with my lord the king. Do for him whatever you wish.” 38 The king said, “Kimham shall cross over with me, and I will do for him whatever you wish. And anything you desire from me I will do for you.” 39 So all the people crossed the Jordan, and then the king crossed over. The king kissed Barzillai and bid him farewell, and Barzillai returned to his home. 40 When the king crossed over to Gilgal, Kimham crossed with him. All the troops of Judah and half the troops of Israel had taken the king over. 41 Soon all the men of Israel were coming to the king and saying to him, “Why did our brothers, the men of Judah, steal the king away and bring him and his household across the Jordan, together with all his men?” 42 All the men of Judah answered the men of Israel, “We did this because the king is closely related to us. Why are you angry about it? Have we eaten any of the king’s provisions? Have we taken anything for ourselves?” 43 Then the men of Israel answered the men of Judah, “We have ten shares in the king; so we have a greater claim on David than you have. Why then do you treat us with contempt? Weren’t we the first to speak of bringing back our king?” But the men of Judah pressed their claims even more forcefully than the men of Israel.

Oh my goodness so much has been happening for David. Now all the difficulties resolve and David gets to take back his role as King. Talk about complicated – both family and friends. How did he keep it all straight – who was with him and who was against?

The beautiful thing about this story is how David chooses to behave in the circumstances. Many people turned on him in quite nasty ways while other people just did nothing and sided with David’s enemies. So now that it’s all gone back in David’s favour you might think he would be angry with those who turned on him. Instead he first listens to each one and then chooses to forgive.

The passage also starts with the men of Israel fighting amongst themselves and it then ends with them all having another argument. David is being wise and compassionate in between. You think they might have noticed how David was behaving but no they didn’t. I want to learn how to make choices like David rather than the rest of the people.

Lord thanks again for the pictures you paint with the stories you tell us. How amazing that David could behave well in these circumstances. Thank you for the things you taught him when in earlier times he did not choose to behave well. Help me to remember that it is possible to choose to behave well even when people attack me or treat me badly. I have Your love all of the time forever so if people don’t always love me I can still love them anyway – with your help which is always available.

Written by Therese Manning

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Monday 28 September, 2020

2 Samuel 19:1-8

19 Joab was told, “The king is weeping and mourning for Absalom.” 2 And for the whole army the victory that day was turned into mourning, because on that day the troops heard it said, “The king is grieving for his son.” 3 The men stole into the city that day as men steal in who are ashamed when they flee from battle. 4 The king covered his face and cried aloud, “O my son Absalom! O Absalom, my son, my son!” 5 Then Joab went into the house to the king and said, “Today you have humiliated all your men, who have just saved your life and the lives of your sons and daughters and the lives of your wives and concubines. 6 You love those who hate you and hate those who love you. You have made it clear today that the commanders and their men mean nothing to you. I see that you would be pleased if Absalom were alive today and all of us were dead. 7 Now go out and encourage your men. I swear by the Lord that if you don’t go out, not a man will be left with you by nightfall. This will be worse for you than all the calamities that have come on you from your youth till now.” 8 So the king got up and took his seat in the gateway. When the men were told, “The king is sitting in the gateway,” they all came before him. Meanwhile, the Israelites had fled to their homes.

Getting your reactions correct can be tricky.  Here is a man whose son has died.  So he mourns.  Correct response right – wrong!  Because David was not only a man, he was the king.  And while most of us don’t have the role of a king the roles we play in life have bearing on how we react to things.  Like when a mum or dad needs to protect a child, yet is injured or fearful, they care first for their child then themselves. 

There are times in life for all of that thinking broadly, typically of others, before ourselves is exactly what is needed, even though we may be experiencing something difficult, traumatic or grief.  David, temporarily forgot his place.  He was the king.  He needed to celebrate the victory of his troops – who were slinking into the city because of David’s attitude, so they didn’t get to celebrate until Joab challenged David.

Father help us to remember our places in life and respond in ways that gives life to many in keeping with Your love.

Written by Ps. Richard Botta

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Sunday 27 September, 2020

2 Samuel 18:19-33

19 Now Ahimaaz son of Zadok said, “Let me run and take the news to the king that the Lord has vindicated him by delivering him from the hand of his enemies.” 20 “You are not the one to take the news today,” Joab told him. “You may take the news another time, but you must not do so today, because the king’s son is dead.” 21 Then Joab said to a Cushite, “Go, tell the king what you have seen.” The Cushite bowed down before Joab and ran off. 22 Ahimaaz son of Zadok again said to Joab, “Come what may, please let me run behind the Cushite.” But Joab replied, “My son, why do you want to go? You don’t have any news that will bring you a reward.” 23 He said, “Come what may, I want to run.” So Joab said, “Run!” Then Ahimaaz ran by way of the plain[a] and outran the Cushite. 24 While David was sitting between the inner and outer gates, the watchman went up to the roof of the gateway by the wall. As he looked out, he saw a man running alone. 25 The watchman called out to the king and reported it. The king said, “If he is alone, he must have good news.” And the runner came closer and closer. 26 Then the watchman saw another runner, and he called down to the gatekeeper, “Look, another man running alone!” The king said, “He must be bringing good news, too.” 27 The watchman said, “It seems to me that the first one runs like Ahimaaz son of Zadok.” “He’s a good man,” the king said. “He comes with good news.” 28 Then Ahimaaz called out to the king, “All is well!” He bowed down before the king with his face to the ground and said, “Praise be to the Lord your God! He has delivered up those who lifted their hands against my lord the king.” 29 The king asked, “Is the young man Absalom safe?” Ahimaaz answered, “I saw great confusion just as Joab was about to send the king’s servant and me, your servant, but I don’t know what it was.” 30 The king said, “Stand aside and wait here.” So he stepped aside and stood there. 31 Then the Cushite arrived and said, “My lord the king, hear the good news! The Lord has vindicated you today by delivering you from the hand of all who rose up against you.” 32 The king asked the Cushite, “Is the young man Absalom safe?” The Cushite replied, “May the enemies of my lord the king and all who rise up to harm you be like that young man.” 33 The king was shaken. He went up to the room over the gateway and wept. As he went, he said: “O my son Absalom! My son, my son Absalom! If only I had died instead of you—O Absalom, my son, my son!”

David cops a fair bit of criticism as father, and not without good reason. But not many fathers have their lives recorded and scrutinised as he did. Even though this is the conclusion to an attempted coup, at the heart of this passage is a real family struggle. All families have them, just not usually this deadly.

From this story, and the many other stories of father’s in the bible, as well as remembering my own father, I am learning a lot about the father heart of God towards me.

Absalom set his heart to killing his own father, and led an army against David. Tragically, Absalom is killed and the news of Absalom’s death is sent to David. When David hears of Absalom’s death his immediate reaction is to grieve and really mourn the loss of his son. This son wanted to murder his own dad and his father mourns when hearing he has died. Whatever you think of David as a father, he deeply loved all his children.

If an imperfect earthly father loves his children so much, how much more does our perfect heavenly father love us? The bible tells us. Romans 5:8. But God showed his great love for us by sending Christ to die for us WHILE WE WERE STILL SINNERS. Romans 5:10 We are restored to God by the death of his son while we were still his enemies.

Do you think God doesn’t or couldn’t or won’t love you? Think again. He already does, and always will. Can God love you more than he already does? 

No.

Heavenly father, I am overwhelmed by your amazing and unconditional love for me. 

Written by Andrew Martin

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Saturday 26 September, 2020

2 Samuel 18:1-18

18 David mustered the men who were with him and appointed over them commanders of thousands and commanders of hundreds. 2 David sent out his troops, a third under the command of Joab, a third under Joab’s brother Abishai son of Zeruiah, and a third under Ittai the Gittite. The king told the troops, “I myself will surely march out with you.” 3 But the men said, “You must not go out; if we are forced to flee, they won’t care about us. Even if half of us die, they won’t care; but you are worth ten thousand of us. It would be better now for you to give us support from the city.” 4 The king answered, “I will do whatever seems best to you.” So the king stood beside the gate while all his men marched out in units of hundreds and of thousands. 5 The king commanded Joab, Abishai and Ittai, “Be gentle with the young man Absalom for my sake.” And all the troops heard the king giving orders concerning Absalom to each of the commanders. 6 David’s army marched out of the city to fight Israel, and the battle took place in the forest of Ephraim. 7 There Israel’s troops were routed by David’s men, and the casualties that day were great—twenty thousand men. 8 The battle spread out over the whole countryside, and the forest swallowed up more men that day than the sword. 9 Now Absalom happened to meet David’s men. He was riding his mule, and as the mule went under the thick branches of a large oak, Absalom’s hair got caught in the tree. He was left hanging in midair, while the mule he was riding kept on going. 10 When one of the men saw what had happened, he told Joab, “I just saw Absalom hanging in an oak tree.” 11 Joab said to the man who had told him this, “What! You saw him? Why didn’t you strike him to the ground right there? Then I would have had to give you ten shekels of silver and a warrior’s belt.” 12 But the man replied, “Even if a thousand shekels were weighed out into my hands, I would not lay a hand on the king’s son. In our hearing the king commanded you and Abishai and Ittai, ‘Protect the young man Absalom for my sake.’ 13 And if I had put my life in jeopardy—and nothing is hidden from the king—you would have kept your distance from me.” 14 Joab said, “I’m not going to wait like this for you.” So he took three javelins in his hand and plunged them into Absalom’s heart while Absalom was still alive in the oak tree. 15 And ten of Joab’s armor-bearers surrounded Absalom, struck him and killed him. 16 Then Joab sounded the trumpet, and the troops stopped pursuing Israel, for Joab halted them. 17 They took Absalom, threw him into a big pit in the forest and piled up a large heap of rocks over him. Meanwhile, all the Israelites fled to their homes. 18 During his lifetime Absalom had taken a pillar and erected it in the King’s Valley as a monument to himself, for he thought, “I have no son to carry on the memory of my name.” He named the pillar after himself, and it is called 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

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Friday 25 September, 2020

2 Samuel 17:1-29

17 Ahithophel said to Absalom, “I would choose twelve thousand men and set out tonight in pursuit of David. 2 I would attack him while he is weary and weak. I would strike him with terror, and then all the people with him will flee. I would strike down only the king 3 and bring all the people back to you. The death of the man you seek will mean the return of all; all the people will be unharmed.” 4 This plan seemed good to Absalom and to all the elders of Israel. 5 But Absalom said, “Summon also Hushai the Arkite, so we can hear what he has to say as well.” 6 When Hushai came to him, Absalom said, “Ahithophel has given this advice. Should we do what he says? If not, give us your opinion.” 7 Hushai replied to Absalom, “The advice Ahithophel has given is not good this time. 8 You know your father and his men; they are fighters, and as fierce as a wild bear robbed of her cubs. Besides, your father is an experienced fighter; he will not spend the night with the troops. 9 Even now, he is hidden in a cave or some other place. If he should attack your troops first, whoever hears about it will say, ‘There has been a slaughter among the troops who follow Absalom.’ 10 Then even the bravest soldier, whose heart is like the heart of a lion, will melt with fear, for all Israel knows that your father is a fighter and that those with him are brave. 11 “So I advise you: Let all Israel, from Dan to Beersheba—as numerous as the sand on the seashore—be gathered to you, with you yourself leading them into battle. 12 Then we will attack him wherever he may be found, and we will fall on him as dew settles on the ground. Neither he nor any of his men will be left alive. 13 If he withdraws into a city, then all Israel will bring ropes to that city, and we will drag it down to the valley until not so much as a pebble is left.” 14 Absalom and all the men of Israel said, “The advice of Hushai the Arkite is better than that of Ahithophel.” For the Lord had determined to frustrate the good advice of Ahithophel in order to bring disaster on Absalom. 15 Hushai told Zadok and Abiathar, the priests, “Ahithophel has advised Absalom and the elders of Israel to do such and such, but I have advised them to do so and so. 16 Now send a message at once and tell David, ‘Do not spend the night at the fords in the wilderness; cross over without fail, or the king and all the people with him will be swallowed up.’” 17 Jonathan and Ahimaaz were staying at En Rogel. A female servant was to go and inform them, and they were to go and tell King David, for they could not risk being seen entering the city. 18 But a young man saw them and told Absalom. So the two of them left at once and went to the house of a man in Bahurim. He had a well in his courtyard, and they climbed down into it. 19 His wife took a covering and spread it out over the opening of the well and scattered grain over it. No one knew anything about it. 20 When Absalom’s men came to the woman at the house, they asked, “Where are Ahimaaz and Jonathan?” The woman answered them, “They crossed over the brook.” The men searched but found no one, so they returned to Jerusalem. 21 After they had gone, the two climbed out of the well and went to inform King David. They said to him, “Set out and cross the river at once; Ahithophel has advised such and such against you.” 22 So David and all the people with him set out and crossed the Jordan. By daybreak, no one was left who had not crossed the Jordan. 23 When Ahithophel saw that his advice had not been followed, he saddled his donkey and set out for his house in his hometown. He put his house in order and then hanged himself. So he died and was buried in his father’s tomb. 24 David went to Mahanaim, and Absalom crossed the Jordan with all the men of Israel. 25 Absalom had appointed Amasa over the army in place of Joab. Amasa was the son of Jether, an Ishmaelite who had married Abigail, the daughter of Nahash and sister of Zeruiah the mother of Joab. 26 The Israelites and Absalom camped in the land of Gilead. 27 When David came to Mahanaim, Shobi son of Nahash from Rabbah of the Ammonites, and Makir son of Ammiel from Lo Debar, and Barzillai the Gileadite from Rogelim 28 brought bedding and bowls and articles of pottery. They also brought wheat and barley, flour and roasted grain, beans and lentils, 29 honey and curds, sheep, and cheese from cows’ milk for David and his people to eat. For they said, “The people have become exhausted and hungry and thirsty in the wilderness.”

David continues to evade Absalom (his son) and Absalom’s posse. The stakes keep on escalating and are at their highest: Absalom is plotting total annihilation for David. But David, as God’s anointed, gets forewarned. David’s closest allies, Jonathan and Ahimaaz, have the warning message that will put David out of harm’s way once again. Pursued by enemies the messengers hide in a well, kept safe until they can continue their mission to warn David. David, his household and followers are saved and then the final showdown between him and Absalom begins.

The favour of God, the same favour that rested on King David, rests on us by God’s Holy Spirit because of Jesus. God puts distance between us and forces that wish to destroy us. In so many circumstances, God warns us in advance and we can escape troubles to live to fight another day.

Thank you Jesus for your loving protection. Thank you for your guidance and wisdom sent to us in the midst of every challenging season of our lives. Thank you for shelter when we need it. I trust you for strength and the ability to go on when facing down any threat. Amen.Written by Sam Stewart

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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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