Food for the Soul
Food for the Soul
A psalm of David. 1 Lord, who may dwell in your sacred tent? Who may live on your holy mountain? 2 The one whose walk is blameless, who does what is righteous, who speaks the truth from their heart; 3 whose tongue utters no slander, who does no wrong to a neighbor, and casts no slur on others; 4 who despises a vile person but honors those who fear the Lord; who keeps an oath even when it hurts, and does not change their mind; 5 who lends money to the poor without interest; who does not accept a bribe against the innocent. Whoever does these things will never be shaken.
Psalm 15 may well be one of the shortest chapters in the bible, but it certainly packs a punch!
David essentially asks…Who is worthy of dwelling in the presence of God?
He then goes on to give the answer by explaining the attitudes and behaviour of the person who is worthy and it’s a pretty daunting account! Amongst other things David lists righteousness, honesty, edification, kindness, reverence and generosity. I know that sadly, I would not be able to keep to this list despite my best efforts and intentions.
Fortunately, God knew this and made a plan to offer us forgiveness and sanctification through the death and resurrection of Jesus. Therefore as we set about aiming to live the way God has laid out for us, but inevitably fail, we know that we can still be in the presence of the Lord, both now and when it’s time for us to leave this earth.
Dear God, thank you for your grace and mercy and for offering us forgiveness allowing us to be worthy to dwell in your presence. Thank you Jesus, for your work on the cross that makes us righteous and washes us white as snow. Thank you Holy Spirit, for working in us to help us become more and more like Jesus. Amen
Written by Jocelyn Petschack
For the director of music. Of David. 1 The fool says in his heart, “There is no God.” They are corrupt, their deeds are vile; there is no one who does good. 2 The Lord looks down from heaven on all mankind to see if there are any who understand, any who seek God. 3 All have turned away, all have become corrupt; there is no one who does good, not even one. 4 Do all these evildoers know nothing? They devour my people as though eating bread; they never call on the Lord. 5 But there they are, overwhelmed with dread, for God is present in the company of the righteous. 6 You evildoers frustrate the plans of the poor, but the Lord is their refuge. 7 Oh, that salvation for Israel would come out of Zion! When the Lord restores his people, let Jacob rejoice and Israel be glad!
It all starts with the heart. God is passionately interested in what is in our hearts. (1 Samuel 16:7) In other parts of the Bible (Matthew 12:34, Luke 6:45) we are told that what we speak flows from what is in our heart – here the psalmist says that our actions also flow from our hearts, especially if we deny the existence of God like “the fool” does.
The psalm goes on to show that refuge and salvation come from the LORD. It follows that if we align our hearts with God – if he is most important in our hearts, then our actions and speech will flow from Him, and we will have safe refuge and sure salvation. What a blessing!
Father, thank you that you do not look at our outward appearance like we do – you look at our hearts. Help me to remember to guard my heart. Help me to examine my heart and submit it to you for ‘repair and maintenance’. Thank you that I can always find safe refuge in you. Amen
Written by Megan Cornell
For the director of music. A psalm of David. 1 How long, Lord? Will you forget me forever? How long will you hide your face from me? 2 How long must I wrestle with my thoughts and day after day have sorrow in my heart? How long will my enemy triumph over me? 3 Look on me and answer, Lord my God. Give light to my eyes, or I will sleep in death, 4 and my enemy will say, “I have overcome him,” and my foes will rejoice when I fall. 5 But I trust in your unfailing love; my heart rejoices in your salvation. 6 I will sing the Lord’s praise, for he has been good to me.
When I teach my children about prayer, I tell them that God always answers, but the answers could be different to what we expect. The answers could be yes, no or wait.
But what happens when we feel like we don’t get an answer?
In this Psalm, David is longing for answers to his prayers. He states that he feels “forgotten” and that he is now “wrestling with his thoughts”.
Have you ever felt like that? I certainly have! I am often impatient for God’s answers to my prayers. Being patient is a difficult task for any of us, and especially difficult when the prayers you have are very close to your heart, such as the answers may determine your living situation, employment, family life or health. What I especially like about this Psalm is David’s resolve at the end indicating that he has not yet been forsaken by God and that he knows that God will answer his prayer. He states, “But I trust in your unfailing love”.
David has stated how human he is – how difficult it is not to have an answer – and yet he reflects indicating that he has not been forgotten before – so why would he be forgotten now.
To my children I say, while we wait, let’s look around and remember all these things God has done for us so far. Let us remember His grace and favour in our lives and all of His goodness.
Dear God, Thank you for giving us the tool of prayer so that we can communicate with you. Thank you for David and letting him be real about his feelings about waiting for answers in this Psalm. Help us to be patient for the answers that we need in our life. Help us to always remember your love and everything you have done for us.
Written by Susannah Ware
For the director of music. According to sheminith. A psalm of David. 1 Help, Lord, for no one is faithful anymore; those who are loyal have vanished from the human race. 2 Everyone lies to their neighbor; they flatter with their lips but harbor deception in their hearts. 3 May the Lord silence all flattering lips and every boastful tongue— 4 those who say, “By our tongues we will prevail; our own lips will defend us—who is lord over us?” 5 “Because the poor are plundered and the needy groan, I will now arise,” says the Lord. “I will protect them from those who malign them.” 6 And the words of the Lord are flawless, like silver purified in a crucible, like gold refined seven times. 7 You, Lord, will keep the needy safe and will protect us forever from the wicked, 8 who freely strut about when what is vile is honored by the human race.
It has been a difficult year for many reasons, for many people. At such a time, like the psalmist, it is easy to focus on the negatives within my world. It is tempting to wistfully remember the ‘old days’ with a rosy hue, like the psalmist feeling ‘no one is faithful anymore’. The reality here is that we can leave all those things, past, present, and future, with God. Where the world lacks integrity, the words of God are trustworthy and reliable.
My experience is that time and again my circumstances have allowed me to see the words and promises of God. And what I have found is God can be trusted, He is my defender and my Saviour and provider. No matter what times we face, when the world lets me down, when my faith in humanity or circumstances is destroyed, I know that God is faithfully standing with me. He is there for you too.
Thank you Father for your faithful protection. Thank you, Lord, that I can rely on you. Help me Lord to keep my eyes on you and to not be distracted by my circumstances or the world. In Jesus name. Amen
Written by Christine Knight
For the director of music. Of David. 1 In the Lord I take refuge. How then can you say to me: “Flee like a bird to your mountain. 2 For look, the wicked bend their bows; they set their arrows against the strings to shoot from the shadows at the upright in heart. 3 When the foundations are being destroyed, what can the righteous do?” 4 The Lord is in his holy temple; the Lord is on his heavenly throne. He observes everyone on earth; his eyes examine them. 5 The Lord examines the righteous, but the wicked, those who love violence, he hates with a passion. 6 On the wicked he will rain fiery coals and burning sulfur; a scorching wind will be their lot. 7 For the Lord is righteous, he loves justice; the upright will see his face.
When trouble comes and the foundations of life are shaken, the world tells us to save ourselves, to run and take cover, to hide. It’s like a taunt: where can you go, what can you do?
To me it’s an echo of how they taunted Jesus – save yourself!
It may seem like the end of the line. It may seem like there is no hope.
But there is.
In times of trouble and uncertainty, my hope is found in verse 4: The Lord sits on His throne (NIV).
What a beautiful reminder of who our God is: God remains seated. He is not anxious or pacing about wondering what to do. He remains in control. He is peace.
So when the things around me make me nervous or worried, I will not run away. Instead I will run to You Lord God. For you are my hiding place, safe and secure. I choose to trust that You have all things in control.
Written by Gab Martin
1 Why, Lord, do you stand far off? Why do you hide yourself in times of trouble? 2 In his arrogance the wicked man hunts down the weak, who are caught in the schemes he devises. 3 He boasts about the cravings of his heart; he blesses the greedy and reviles the Lord. 4 In his pride the wicked man does not seek him; in all his thoughts there is no room for God. 5 His ways are always prosperous; your laws are rejected by him; he sneers at all his enemies. 6 He says to himself, “Nothing will ever shake me.” He swears, “No one will ever do me harm.” 7 His mouth is full of lies and threats; trouble and evil are under his tongue. 8 He lies in wait near the villages; from ambush he murders the innocent. His eyes watch in secret for his victims; 9 like a lion in cover he lies in wait. He lies in wait to catch the helpless; he catches the helpless and drags them off in his net. 10 His victims are crushed, they collapse; they fall under his strength. 11 He says to himself, “God will never notice; he covers his face and never sees.” 12 Arise, Lord! Lift up your hand, O God. Do not forget the helpless. 13 Why does the wicked man revile God? Why does he say to himself, “He won’t call me to account”? 14 But you, God, see the trouble of the afflicted; you consider their grief and take it in hand. The victims commit themselves to you; you are the helper of the fatherless. 15 Break the arm of the wicked man; call the evildoer to account for his wickedness that would not otherwise be found out. 16 The Lord is King for ever and ever; the nations will perish from his land. 17 You, Lord, hear the desire of the afflicted; you encourage them, and you listen to their cry, 18 defending the fatherless and the oppressed, so that mere earthly mortals will never again strike terror.
There is a secret here that the Psalmist has learned that I desperately need to learn as well. It’s the “now”, “then”, and “will soon be” secret. It’s a truth about God that can bring hope in the darkest times.
I get so stuck in the “now”… the pain of my current situation or hardship. God wants to hear about it – he truly, truly cares (see 1 Peter 5:7). That’s what the Psalmist did in this passage. But he quickly moves on to what he knows – for certain – what he’s witnessed in the past. God has come through for me before! (V14) The Psalmist remembers the “then”.
Only armed with the “then” can we look confidently to the “will soon be”. (V17-18) Because God has been faithful, we can trust Him that He will be faithful.
Please Heavenly Father, in every “now“ situation, help me remember the “then”, and, through Jesus, claim as mine the “will soon be”.
Written by Boudy Van Noppen
For the director of music. To the tune of “The Death of the Son.” A psalm of David. 1 I will give thanks to you, Lord, with all my heart; I will tell of all your wonderful deeds. 2 I will be glad and rejoice in you; I will sing the praises of your name, O Most High. 3 My enemies turn back; they stumble and perish before you. 4 For you have upheld my right and my cause, sitting enthroned as the righteous judge. 5 You have rebuked the nations and destroyed the wicked; you have blotted out their name for ever and ever. 6 Endless ruin has overtaken my enemies, you have uprooted their cities; even the memory of them has perished. 7 The Lord reigns forever; he has established his throne for judgment. 8 He rules the world in righteousness and judges the peoples with equity. 9 The Lord is a refuge for the oppressed, a stronghold in times of trouble. 10 Those who know your name trust in you, for you, Lord, have never forsaken those who seek you. 11 Sing the praises of the Lord, enthroned in Zion; proclaim among the nations what he has done. 12 For he who avenges blood remembers; he does not ignore the cries of the afflicted. 13 Lord, see how my enemies persecute me! Have mercy and lift me up from the gates of death, 14 that I may declare your praises in the gates of Daughter Zion, and there rejoice in your salvation. 15 The nations have fallen into the pit they have dug; their feet are caught in the net they have hidden. 16 The Lord is known by his acts of justice; the wicked are ensnared by the work of their hands. 17 The wicked go down to the realm of the dead, all the nations that forget God. 18 But God will never forget the needy; the hope of the afflicted will never perish. 19 Arise, Lord, do not let mortals triumph; let the nations be judged in your presence. 20 Strike them with terror, Lord; let the nations know they are only mortal.
In this, and many other of the Psalms we are strongly encouraged, and yes, even instructed to sing praises to God.
Now, I love singing, so this is an easy instruction for me to follow. Nothing helps me to focus on God and His goodness like singing His praises, not to mention the benefit of memorised scriptures through the worship songs I have sung throughout the years. However, I realise that a love of singing is not the case for everyone. Perhaps you were told you couldn’t or shouldn’t sing when you were younger. Perhaps you are self-conscious about your singing voice.
According to Google, the Bible contains over four hundred references to singing and fifty direct commands to sing. The longest book of the Bible, the Psalms, is a book of songs.
Why does God so often tell us not just to praise Him but to sing His praises? Why are God’s people throughout history always singing? Why words and music and not just words alone? Why does God want us to sing? Of course, I don’t have the definitive answers to these questions, but the Bible tells us that God Himself sings! In Zephaniah 3:17 God exalts over His people “with loud singing.”
In this COVID season we are discouraged from group singing in church and many of us are really missing it, so it’s even more important that we find our own private times to sing God’s praises. It’s lovely to fill our homes with beautiful recordings of worship songs, but I believe there is also a powerful spiritual connection when we sing our own praises out to God.
So, let’s sing His praise aloud! Even if you don’t like the sound of your voice, I get the strong impression that God does.
Written by Shelley Witt
For the director of music. According to gittith. A psalm of David. 1 Lord, our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth! You have set your glory in the heavens. 2 Through the praise of children and infants you have established a stronghold against your enemies, to silence the foe and the avenger. 3 When I consider your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have set in place, 4 what is mankind that you are mindful of them, human beings that you care for them? 5 You have made them a little lower than the angels and crowned them with glory and honor. 6 You made them rulers over the works of your hands; you put everything under their feet: 7 all flocks and herds, and the animals of the wild, 8 the birds in the sky, and the fish in the sea, all that swim the paths of the seas. 9 Lord, our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth!
This is a beautiful Psalm to the majesty of God and celebrates the honour he has bestowed on people.
Verse 4 encapsulates the wonder of grace – that God shows favour to me, wants relationship with me. It is wonderful!
I do not recall ever reading verse 2. It seems strange in the midst of these verses. As a children’s church leader, I was drawn to the importance and power of the praises of children. Praise is powerful – to receive praise is transformative in my life. But to give God praise establishes a “strong hold” and “silences” our enemies. Enemies such as circumstances or the subtle influences of the world. Enemies also include things which stop me recognising the majesty of God, such as doubts, fear, or conversely self-reliance. God is greater than any of these influences, but when I worship him as the creator of the universe I guard against their attack on my spirit.
Lord, I praise you and thank you for who you are – a magnificent creator but also my loving heavenly Father. I want to draw closer to you today. Amen
Written by Claire Moore
A shiggaion of David, which he sang to the Lord concerning Cush, a Benjamite. 1 Lord my God, I take refuge in you; save and deliver me from all who pursue me, 2 or they will tear me apart like a lion and rip me to pieces with no one to rescue me. 3 Lord my God, if I have done this and there is guilt on my hands— 4 if I have repaid my ally with evil or without cause have robbed my foe— 5 then let my enemy pursue and overtake me; let him trample my life to the ground and make me sleep in the dust. 6 Arise, Lord, in your anger; rise up against the rage of my enemies. Awake, my God; decree justice. 7 Let the assembled peoples gather around you, while you sit enthroned over them on high. 8 Let the Lord judge the peoples. Vindicate me, Lord, according to my righteousness, according to my integrity, O Most High. 9 Bring to an end the violence of the wicked and make the righteous secure— you, the righteous God who probes minds and hearts. 10 My shield is God Most High, who saves the upright in heart. 11 God is a righteous judge, a God who displays his wrath every day. 12 If he does not relent, he will sharpen his sword; he will bend and string his bow. 13 He has prepared his deadly weapons; he makes ready his flaming arrows. 14 Whoever is pregnant with evil conceives trouble and gives birth to disillusionment. 15 Whoever digs a hole and scoops it out falls into the pit they have made. 16 The trouble they cause recoils on them; their violence comes down on their own heads. 17 I will give thanks to the Lord because of his righteousness; I will sing the praises of the name of the Lord Most High.
We can all be blinded by our own righteousness. David seems to be aware of this and has no hesitation in laying himself, his actions and his integrity bare before the Lord to ask that God, who knows all our minds and hearts, to be the righteous judge in the circumstance.
The question that comes to me is how ready am I to completely lay my integrity and heart bare before the Lord and ask him to work in my circumstances? Opening ourselves to God and allowing the Holy Spirit to guide or convict us is the only way that we can walk in freedom.
I would like to be far more like David, quickly trusting God to work out the tough places through life, my refuge, shield and protector.
Oh Lord, at times it is easier said than done, to lay my heart bare before you and trust You with me, but I have also experienced that this is the only way to truly walk in freedom. You are always at work in me for my best life. Holy Spirit come and guide our steps.
Written by Suzie Hodgson
For the director of music. With stringed instruments. According to sheminith. A psalm of David. 1 Lord, do not rebuke me in your anger or discipline me in your wrath. 2 Have mercy on me, Lord, for I am faint; heal me, Lord, for my bones are in agony. 3 My soul is in deep anguish. How long, Lord, how long? 4 Turn, Lord, and deliver me; save me because of your unfailing love. 5 Among the dead no one proclaims your name. Who praises you from the grave? 6 I am worn out from my groaning. All night long I flood my bed with weeping and drench my couch with tears. 7 My eyes grow weak with sorrow; they fail because of all my foes. 8 Away from me, all you who do evil, for the Lord has heard my weeping. 9 The Lord has heard my cry for mercy; the Lord accepts my prayer. 10 All my enemies will be overwhelmed with shame and anguish; they will turn back and suddenly be put to shame.
Ever felt devastated, like the world is against you, and particular people!! I love how the Bible is so true to life – no polished lives here, just the raw reality of life as we experience it. Here the Psalmist hangs out life when we are under pressure with images that we can identify with. ‘Eyes to weak with sorrow’, ‘flood my bed with tears’. The Bible doesn’t hold back. I love this about God’s Word. Religious books polish the presentation of life – the Bible – living and active – doesn’t sugar coat faith in Jesus – we get to cry out to the God who never fails, even in the words of anguish of life when everything is against us! Our challenge is for us to cry out like the Psalmist as well as experiencing the deliverance the Psalmist experienced.
Father, thank you that you are not so high and mighty that you are distant from us. You enter our reality now through prayer and we are certain of this because you sent Your Son to enter our experience and He experienced life in its fullness of emotion, physicality, joys and disappointments, even to death. So we cry out to you in our experience knowing you will deliver us!
Written by Ps. Richard Botta
For the director of music. For pipes. A psalm of David. 1 Listen to my words, Lord, consider my lament. 2 Hear my cry for help, my King and my God, for to you I pray. 3 In the morning, Lord, you hear my voice; in the morning I lay my requests before you and wait expectantly. 4 For you are not a God who is pleased with wickedness; with you, evil people are not welcome. 5 The arrogant cannot stand in your presence. You hate all who do wrong; 6 you destroy those who tell lies. The bloodthirsty and deceitful you, Lord, detest. 7 But I, by your great love, can come into your house; in reverence I bow down toward your holy temple. 8 Lead me, Lord, in your righteousness because of my enemies— make your way straight before me. 9 Not a word from their mouth can be trusted; their heart is filled with malice. Their throat is an open grave; with their tongues they tell lies. 10 Declare them guilty, O God! Let their intrigues be their downfall. Banish them for their many sins, for they have rebelled against you. 11 But let all who take refuge in you be glad; let them ever sing for joy. Spread your protection over them, that those who love your name may rejoice in you. 12 Surely, Lord, you bless the righteous; you surround them with your favor as with a shield.
Defeat, depression, anger, sadness, anxiety, stress, confusion… just some of my immediate reactions to being challenged by something or somebody that threatens to overwhelm me. These responses are induced by the belief that a solution lies within me alone. I either go into overdrive trying to work my way through the problem or I hide from the challenge pretending it will go away. Both these roads are not healthy roads to walk down, they lead to broken relationships and unhealthy behaviours.
God is always the ‘third road’ when faced with difficult circumstances. He is both a retreat and fortress to find protection within and a mighty warrior who advances forward to defeat his foes.
When I take refuge in him, stress and anxiety, fear and sadness dissipate as God reminds me of my identity as his son. He takes care of me, he loves me and instructs me. As I take shelter in his presence he also sorts out my own heart and aligns me to his desires.
Then, I know which battles he wants to fight and I can trust that if God is going into battle, then he will have the victory.
“God, teach me to seek refuge in you and to join you in battle.”
Written by Andrew Mellor
For the director of music. With stringed instruments. A psalm of David. 1 Answer me when I call to you, my righteous God. Give me relief from my distress; have mercy on me and hear my prayer. 2 How long will you people turn my glory into shame? How long will you love delusions and seek false gods? 3 Know that the Lord has set apart his faithful servant for himself; the Lord hears when I call to him. 4 Tremble and do not sin; when you are on your beds, search your hearts and be silent. 5 Offer the sacrifices of the righteous and trust in the Lord. 6 Many, Lord, are asking, “Who will bring us prosperity?” Let the light of your face shine on us. 7 Fill my heart with joy when their grain and new wine abound. 8 In peace I will lie down and sleep, for you alone, Lord, make me dwell in safety.
Psalm 4 is thought to be a pair with Psalm 3, which was written by David while he was being pursued by his son Absalom. David is in real danger of being killed by the son he loves deeply. You can sense the swirling turmoil in David’s mind in these fragments of an argument with his enemies: How long will you shame me? It may not look like it now, but you should know that the Lord will hear me. You should be trembling on your beds as you lie down.
I can relate to that swirling conversation in the mind of what I should have said (except I didn’t), and what I would say if … (except I won’t) – and it doesn’t help. What will help?
Surrounding this tumult are two parts addressed to God. It begins with desperate pleas to “answer me when I call to you”; and “give me relief from my distress”. Clearly, he hasn’t seen an answer yet and is still in distress. But David bases his hope on who God is: “my righteous God”. It ends in confidence: unlike his enemies trembling on their beds, “In peace I will lie down and sleep”. Again, that confidence comes from who God is.
Lord, “let your face shine on us”. “Fill my heart with joy”. Because you are “my righteous God” who does answer when I call and does have mercy on me, “In peace I will lie down and sleep, for you alone, Lord, make me dwell in safety.”
Written by David Cornell
A psalm of David. When he fled from his son Absalom. 1 Lord, how many are my foes! How many rise up against me! 2 Many are saying of me, “God will not deliver him.” 3 But you, Lord, are a shield around me, my glory, the One who lifts my head high. 4 I call out to the Lord, and he answers me from his holy mountain. 5 I lie down and sleep; I wake again, because the Lord sustains me. 6 I will not fear though tens of thousands assail me on every side. 7 Arise, Lord! Deliver me, my God! Strike all my enemies on the jaw; break the teeth of the wicked. 8 From the Lord comes deliverance. May your blessing be on your people.
I feel like this Psalm starts from David’s mind when he lies down but can’t get to sleep. At the end of a hard day/week/year when I am weary it’s easy to feel overwhelmed and attacked. It would be easy at that point to believe the negative things those around me are saying. But what David knows is that it’s not the opinion of the masses that count but the Presence and Faithfulness of God. How much better and more positive does David feel after he’s had a good rest. Note to self – I can safely leave my problems and worries with God, and it’s ok (and a really good idea) to take rest when you need it. Verse 8 sums it up – ‘from the Lord comes deliverance’. You and I can safely leave our troubles with God because he is the One who will defend and rescue us.
Heavenly Father thank you for all you do for me. Help me to trust you with the things that weigh me down. Help me to see my life thru your eyes. Thank you that you are my deliverer. In Jesus name I pray. Amen
Written by Christine Knight
1 Why do the nations conspire and the peoples plot in vain? 2 The kings of the earth rise up and the rulers band together against the Lord and against his anointed, saying, 3 “Let us break their chains and throw off their shackles.” 4 The One enthroned in heaven laughs; the Lord scoffs at them. 5 He rebukes them in his anger and terrifies them in his wrath, saying, 6 “I have installed my king on Zion, my holy mountain.” 7 I will proclaim the Lord’s decree: He said to me, “You are my son; today I have become your father. 8 Ask me, and I will make the nations your inheritance, the ends of the earth your possession. 9 You will break them with a rod of iron; you will dash them to pieces like pottery.” 10 Therefore, you kings, be wise; be warned, you rulers of the earth. 11 Serve the Lord with fear and celebrate his rule with trembling. 12 Kiss his son, or he will be angry and your way will lead to your destruction, for his wrath can flare up in a moment. Blessed are all who take refuge in him.
V 7 – “I will reveal the eternal purpose of God”
V 8 – “Ask me and I will give you the nations and I will do it”
V 10-11 – “Learn your lesson….serve and worship”
V 12 – “but many blessings are waiting, for all who turn aside to hide themselves in Him”
As I read this Psalm in The Passion Translation, the above verses jumped out at me.
As I write this we continue to journey through this “COVID” season, it has reminded me of the movie “Groundhog Day”. The story of a reporter who wakes up and relives the same day over and over again. At times, this COVID season feels like that. As the days roll on, they seem similar!! The news is the same, constrictions remain, recommendations come continually, etc.
Then it made me think about the computer and how at times it becomes slow and is in need of “rebooting” and “refreshing”.
I wonder if in this season you are feeling flat, feeling that your prayers haven’t been answered, maybe feeling that God has become distant, you haven’t heard words from Him afresh.
God wants and desires to speak to us daily. He desires that we would have open hearts and hear from Him.
I know that in my life and in my spiritual life I have been here before. It has required me to “reboot”/”refresh” myself.
So how do I do this?
I ask myself some questions: Where is my heart at present? Have I become stale in my walk with Jesus? I spend some time reflecting on where I am at. Then I think of what needs to change – I hit the “Refresh”/”Reboot” button of my soul: What can I change? What shall I start new?
I pray: Come Holy Spirit, fill me afresh with your love and grace.
Come and overflow into my dry areas and bring your peace, your presence and your mercy.
Jesus you have eternal purposes for my life. Reveal to me afresh your love. Help me to learn your lesson at this time. Revive in me a desire to serve and worship you. Help me to hide myself in you at this difficult time.
Thank you that you love me and you promise to reveal to those who ask, will receive.
In Jesus Name. Amen
Written by Ps. Sue Botta
Psalm 1 1 Blessed is the one who does not walk in step with the wicked or stand in the way that sinners take or sit in the company of mockers, 2 but whose delight is in the law of the Lord, and who meditates on his law day and night. 3 That person is like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither— whatever they do prospers. 4 Not so the wicked! They are like chaff that the wind blows away. 5 Therefore the wicked will not stand in the judgment, nor sinners in the assembly of the righteous. 6 For the Lord watches over the way of the righteous, but the way of the wicked leads to destruction.
I find that in my life I am surrounded by reminders of immediate needs, desires and circumstances.
The list goes on….
The word of God reminds me of realities that are often not front of mind for me, it speaks of the future I may not of considered, and it reminds me of realities that are more real than what often fills my mind.
In Psalm 1, I am reminded that my decisions and actions will bring about more than the immediate outcomes I may be thinking about. They will set me on a trajectory, a path that could head in one of two directions:
It also speaks of a day of judgement we will all arrive at, a time I will have to give account for my life. At that destination those who have walked the first path will stand and inherit more of this righteous life and more on top of that!! Those who have walked the second path will be excluded from that inheritance.
God in heaven above, thank you for bringing your realities straight to my heart by your Word. Form in me a life that habitually meditates on your Word so that I may live by it and experience this abundance of righteousness. Amen.
Written by Andrew Mellor
2 Samuel 24:18-25
18 On that day Gad went to David and said to him, “Go up and build an altar to the Lord on the threshing floor of Araunah the Jebusite.” 19 So David went up, as the Lord had commanded through Gad. 20 When Araunah looked and saw the king and his officials coming toward him, he went out and bowed down before the king with his face to the ground. 21 Araunah said, “Why has my lord the king come to his servant?” “To buy your threshing floor,” David answered, “so I can build an altar to the Lord, that the plague on the people may be stopped.” 22 Araunah said to David, “Let my lord the king take whatever he wishes and offer it up. Here are oxen for the burnt offering, and here are threshing sledges and ox yokes for the wood. 23 Your Majesty, Araunah[a] gives all this to the king.” Araunah also said to him, “May the Lord your God accept you.” 24 But the king replied to Araunah, “No, I insist on paying you for it. I will not sacrifice to the Lord my God burnt offerings that cost me nothing.” So David bought the threshing floor and the oxen and paid fifty shekels[b] of silver for them. 25 David built an altar to the Lord there and sacrificed burnt offerings and fellowship offerings. Then the Lord answered his prayer in behalf of the land, and the plague on Israel was stopped.
David is overwhelmed by the impact his sin (of taking a census) is having on the whole nation of Israel – 70,000 men have died because of his actions and he is filled with sorrow. He pleads with the Lord to end the plague because the people shouldn’t suffer because of his wrong doing. The Lord hears him and tells him to make a sacrifice of burnt offerings to atone for his sin.
This time David fully obeys the Lord. He goes to Araunah, who wants to provide everything that David needs. While this might be generous of Araunah, David does not want to choose the easy way out – v24 “I will not present burnt offerings to the Lord my God that have cost me nothing”. David already knows what happens when he does things his way. This time, David takes full responsibility and pays the full price for his wrongdoing. The result? The Lord is pleased and ends the plague.
For such a public sin and consequence, we also get another glimpse into the personal relationship David has with the Lord. That even though he made a very costly mistake, the Lord provides a way out for him by asking him to make a sacrifice. David’s heart response is to also make a peace offering, or fellowship offering, to the Lord to express his thankfulness and gratitude for the Lord’s generosity and kindness.
Father God, I thank you that when I sin, I can ask for forgiveness because of Jesus’ sacrifice for me. I thank you that because of Your actions our relationship can continue.
Written by Gab Martin
2 Samuel 24:1-17
24 Again the anger of the Lord burned against Israel, and he incited David against them, saying, “Go and take a census of Israel and Judah.” 2 So the king said to Joab and the army commanders with him, “Go throughout the tribes of Israel from Dan to Beersheba and enroll the fighting men, so that I may know how many there are.” 3 But Joab replied to the king, “May the Lord your God multiply the troops a hundred times over, and may the eyes of my lord the king see it. But why does my lord the king want to do such a thing?” 4 The king’s word, however, overruled Joab and the army commanders; so they left the presence of the king to enroll the fighting men of Israel. 5 After crossing the Jordan, they camped near Aroer, south of the town in the gorge, and then went through Gad and on to Jazer. 6 They went to Gilead and the region of Tahtim Hodshi, and on to Dan Jaan and around toward Sidon. 7 Then they went toward the fortress of Tyre and all the towns of the Hivites and Canaanites. Finally, they went on to Beersheba in the Negev of Judah. 8 After they had gone through the entire land, they came back to Jerusalem at the end of nine months and twenty days. 9 Joab reported the number of the fighting men to the king: In Israel there were eight hundred thousand able-bodied men who could handle a sword, and in Judah five hundred thousand. 10 David was conscience-stricken after he had counted the fighting men, and he said to the Lord, “I have sinned greatly in what I have done. Now, Lord, I beg you, take away the guilt of your servant. I have done a very foolish thing.” 11 Before David got up the next morning, the word of the Lord had come to Gad the prophet, David’s seer: 12 “Go and tell David, ‘This is what the Lord says: I am giving you three options. Choose one of them for me to carry out against you.’” 13 So Gad went to David and said to him, “Shall there come on you three[b] years of famine in your land? Or three months of fleeing from your enemies while they pursue you? Or three days of plague in your land? Now then, think it over and decide how I should answer the one who sent me.” 14 David said to Gad, “I am in deep distress. Let us fall into the hands of the Lord, for his mercy is great; but do not let me fall into human hands.” 15 So the Lord sent a plague on Israel from that morning until the end of the time designated, and seventy thousand of the people from Dan to Beersheba died. 16 When the angel stretched out his hand to destroy Jerusalem, the Lord relented concerning the disaster and said to the angel who was afflicting the people, “Enough! Withdraw your hand.” The angel of the Lord was then at the threshing floor of Araunah the Jebusite. 17 When David saw the angel who was striking down the people, he said to the Lord, “I have sinned; I, the shepherd, have done wrong. These are but sheep. What have they done? Let your hand fall on me and my family.”
This has to be one of the more challenging sections of scripture because it appears that God gets angry with David for doing what God told him to do: vs 1 says that He incited David against them saying “go and take a census of Israel and Judah” then in verse 10, it says that David was conscience stricken, and God asked him to choose a punishment.
It’s clearly not in the nature and character of God to tell someone to do something and then punish them for it, so I thought I’d go through a few possibilities of what might be going on here.
1) Something about the WAY David did the Census was not what God intended:
We see that David only counted the fighting men. God might have been angry with David for making calculations of his military strength, suggesting that David was trusting his own ability rather that God’s ability to protect the nation.
Its also possible that God was angry for not counting the women, children, elderly and disabled people who couldn’t fight. God’s love and care for the least of His people means that He wanted David to count them too.
2) David heard wrong:
The bible seems to suggest that David heard directly from God to take a census, but it’s possible that this was what David thought was the case. David’s men try to talk him out of the census, but it’s not until it’s all done that David realises he got it wrong.
In this passage, both possibilities above lead me to reflect on the importance of being careful when I have a word from God.
I need to use discernment to make sure I have the message right, and I need to depend on the wise counsel of the people that God has placed around me in interpreting any word from God properly.
Lord, let me hear your voice and let me do your will in all things.
Written by Ps Justin Ware
2 Samuel 23:8-39
8 These are the names of David’s mighty warriors: Josheb-Basshebeth, a Tahkemonite, was chief of the Three; he raised his spear against eight hundred men, whom he killed[c] in one encounter. 9 Next to him was Eleazar son of Dodai the Ahohite. As one of the three mighty warriors, he was with David when they taunted the Philistines gathered at Pas Dammim for battle. Then the Israelites retreated, 10 but Eleazar stood his ground and struck down the Philistines till his hand grew tired and froze to the sword. The Lord brought about a great victory that day. The troops returned to Eleazar, but only to strip the dead. 11 Next to him was Shammah son of Agee the Hararite. When the Philistines banded together at a place where there was a field full of lentils, Israel’s troops fled from them. 12 But Shammah took his stand in the middle of the field. He defended it and struck the Philistines down, and the Lord brought about a great victory. 13 During harvest time, three of the thirty chief warriors came down to David at the cave of Adullam, while a band of Philistines was encamped in the Valley of Rephaim. 14 At that time David was in the stronghold, and the Philistine garrison was at Bethlehem. 15 David longed for water and said, “Oh, that someone would get me a drink of water from the well near the gate of Bethlehem!” 16 So the three mighty warriors broke through the Philistine lines, drew water from the well near the gate of Bethlehem and carried it back to David. But he refused to drink it; instead, he poured it out before the Lord. 17 “Far be it from me, Lord, to do this!” he said. “Is it not the blood of men who went at the risk of their lives?” And David would not drink it. Such were the exploits of the three mighty warriors. 18 Abishai the brother of Joab son of Zeruiah was chief of the Three. He raised his spear against three hundred men, whom he killed, and so he became as famous as the Three. 19 Was he not held in greater honor than the Three? He became their commander, even though he was not included among them. 20 Benaiah son of Jehoiada, a valiant fighter from Kabzeel, performed great exploits. He struck down Moab’s two mightiest warriors. He also went down into a pit on a snowy day and killed a lion. 21 And he struck down a huge Egyptian. Although the Egyptian had a spear in his hand, Benaiah went against him with a club. He snatched the spear from the Egyptian’s hand and killed him with his own spear. 22 Such were the exploits of Benaiah son of Jehoiada; he too was as famous as the three mighty warriors. 23 He was held in greater honor than any of the Thirty, but he was not included among the Three. And David put him in charge of his bodyguard. 24 Among the Thirty were: Asahel the brother of Joab, Elhanan son of Dodo from Bethlehem, 25 Shammah the Harodite, Elika the Harodite, 26 Helez the Paltite, Ira son of Ikkesh from Tekoa, 27 Abiezer from Anathoth, Sibbekai[f] the Hushathite, 28 Zalmon the Ahohite, Maharai the Netophathite, 29 Heled[g] son of Baanah the Netophathite, Ithai son of Ribai from Gibeah in Benjamin, 30 Benaiah the Pirathonite, Hiddai[h] from the ravines of Gaash, 31 Abi-Albon the Arbathite, Azmaveth the Barhumite, 32 Eliahba the Shaalbonite, the sons of Jashen, Jonathan 33 son of Shammah the Hararite, Ahiam son of Sharar the Hararite, 34 Eliphelet son of Ahasbai the Maakathite, Eliam son of Ahithophel the Gilonite, 35 Hezro the Carmelite, Paarai the Arbite, 36 Igal son of Nathan from Zobah, the son of Hagri, 37 Zelek the Ammonite, Naharai the Beerothite, the armor-bearer of Joab son of Zeruiah, 38 Ira the Ithrite, Gareb the Ithrite 39 and Uriah the Hittite. There were thirty-seven in all.
A few years back a friend of mine helped me demolish our en-suite ready for renovation. He lives south of the city and probably spent close to 2 hours in traffic to get to our house. We worked all day – hot, sweaty and dirty (it was mid-summer). He would have got home after dark. He did it just out of love for me.
Such generosity can’t be taken lightly. It’s precious and very rare. It has a sacredness about it, and I think that’s what David felt in verse 17 with the water from the well. “This act was so precious – how could I drink it all myself? I’ll pour it out in worship to God!”
It’s the same with Jesus. His gift of dying in my place on the cross is so precious, how could I ever keep that for myself? I must pour it out to others. (See Romans 12:1)
Jesus, please help me see and never forget that extravagant love you poured out for me on the cross. Show me how I can pour out that love to others. Amen
Written by Boudy van Noppen
2 Samuel 23:1-7
23 These are the last words of David: “The inspired utterance of David son of Jesse, the utterance of the man exalted by the Most High, the man anointed by the God of Jacob, the hero of Israel’s songs: 2 “The Spirit of the Lord spoke through me; his word was on my tongue. 3 The God of Israel spoke, the Rock of Israel said to me: ‘When one rules over people in righteousness, when he rules in the fear of God, 4 he is like the light of morning at sunrise on a cloudless morning, like the brightness after rain that brings grass from the earth.’ 5 “If my house were not right with God, surely he would not have made with me an everlasting covenant, arranged and secured in every part; surely he would not bring to fruition my salvation and grant me my every desire. 6 But evil men are all to be cast aside like thorns, which are not gathered with the hand. 7 Whoever touches thorns uses a tool of iron or the shaft of a spear; they are burned up where they lie.”
When this passage talks about “David’s last words”, I don’t think it means that these were the sentences that he uttered before just before his dying breath. Rather, it is more like his final closing statement – How I Want To Be Remembered.
Let’s take a look at what David, one of the most famous people in all of history, records as his most valuable legacy:
What’s interesting, is that he doesn’t mention his great achievements such as being a mighty warrior, a King, and very wealthy as his legacy. David’s statements are quite simple and profound, and actually attainable for us all.
This is a great reminder to each one of us about what is ultimately important and lasting in this life, and my prayer is that these things may also be said of me…
That I knew God – His word and His ways, and shared it with others. That I lived in the fear of the Lord and brought light to those around me. And finally, that I was confident of my standing with God and knew my eternal future is secure with Him. That’s how I want to be remembered.
Written by Shelley Witt
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
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:
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
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
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
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?
Heavenly father, I am overwhelmed by your amazing and unconditional love for me.
Written by Andrew Martin
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
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
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
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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