Tuesday, 31 May 2016

Be a man

Now the days of David drew near that he should die, and he charged Solomon his son, saying: “I go the way of all the earth; be strong, therefore, and prove yourself a man. And keep the charge of the Lord your God: to walk in His ways, to keep His statutes, His commandments, His judgments, and His testimonies, as it is written in the Law of Moses, that you may prosper in all that you do and wherever you turn; that the Lord may fulfill His word which He spoke concerning me, saying, ‘If your sons take heed to their way, to walk before Me in truth with all their heart and with all their soul,’ He said, ‘you shall not lack a man on the throne of Israel.’ – 1 Kings 2.1-4

David’s time had come to pass the reigns on to his son. There is a lot there, but we can summarise it with some good advice for all men of God today.

Be strong
Be a man
Obey God
Walk in His ways

But of all these things I just want to focus on one today – ‘prove yourself a man.’

That sounds kind of strange today in a culture which seems to be denying gender. What is a man and what is a women are no longer simple questions for a lot of our world.

I don’t want to get into all of that. I just want to look at how the Bible talks about men.

When we hear ‘be a man’ today what is the first thing that comes to mind? Let me throw out some ideas that come to my mind.

Be tough
Don’t cry
Be ready for a fight
Don’t let anybody push you around
If somebody does you wrong be sure to get them back
Don’t be a softy
Demand your way
You have to win

Of course there are times when manly toughness is needed. He must provide for and protect our families. We must stand up for the word of God. We must be ready to ‘fight the good fight’ and to endure hardness.

But the brawler attitude that seems to define manliness in some guys’ eyes is not the definition of godly manhood.

Some of the characteristics of godly men, what it means to be a man, seem contrary to what we think about when we think of the words ‘be a man.’

The word of God uses descriptions like meek, and humble, and gentle, and loving, and forgiving. God men don’t seek their own. They are not easily provoked. They don’t return evil for evil. In fact they return blessing for evil. The bless those who curse them. Real men reflect the love of Christ and are kind and compassionate.

I can’t think of any words to summarise what it means to be a man than these from 1 Corinthians 16:

Watch ye, stand fast in the faith, quit you like men, be strong. Let all your things be done with charity.

Indeed, let all things be done with love. 

Monday, 30 May 2016

His word was on my tongue

Now these are the last words of David. Thus says David the son of Jesse; Thus says the man raised up on high, The anointed of the God of Jacob, And the sweet psalmist of Israel: "The Spirit of the LORD spoke by me, And His word was on my tongue. – 2 Samuel 23.1-2

David’s life was drawing to a close. We have the blessing of reading his last words on earth. Last words are often insightful things. In cases like this, where David knows he is dying, they are chosen because they know that the words will be how they are remembered.

The first of David’s last words are this – ‘The Spirit of the Lord spoke by me, and his word was on my tongue.’

It is that last phrase I want to look at - his word was on my tongue – because that is a challenge to me.

When people think of me and my words do they think of God’s word on my tongue? Or do they think of harsh words, sarcasm, coarse language, gossip, evil speaking, or worse.

The Bible says a lot about our words. I think it does so because our words leave such an impression. Our words can be like a destructive fire. They can be like poison. They can’t be taken back and once said they can never for forgotten.

That's why David’s statement is so important. He could say ‘God’s word was on my tongue.’ Of course he wasn’t perfect, but just like being a man after God’s own heart this is what stood out.

I go back to my question. When people think about me what do they think about my speech. If God’s words are on my tongue I build up and I don’t destroy. I encourage and I don’r discourage. I help and I don’t hurt. And sometimes I can just keep my mouth shut instead of speaking.

Lord, give me David’s testimony. May your words be on my tongue.

Sunday, 29 May 2016

Tower of salvation

"He is the tower of salvation to His king, And shows mercy to His anointed, To David and his descendants forevermore." – 2 Samuel 22.51

David often referred to the Lord as his tower, or high tower, or, like here, his tower of salvation. Living here as long as we have when I see those words the first thing I think about are the high towers scattered around the island.

Here these towers are usually about 50 metres highs. They are made of stone and have an opening up on the side a few metres. They have stood for about a thousand years and still stand today. A couple of them are still climbable by stairs on the inside.

I love them. I love the history and the architecture and the stories behind them. Most of the high towers were located in religious centres like monastic villages. Some of these places were used for scribes to copy manuscripts of the word of God. There were also a lot of golden vessels used in the churches. When foreign invaders such as the Norsemen landed here some of their first targets were these religious centres. Eventually the monks and residents butts these towers as a place to secure the riches and the manuscripts. The provided a pale of safety for the monks and their riches and their papers.

That's the image that comes to my mind when I read about this ‘tower of salvation.’ The Lord was David’s secure place and He is our secure place when we find safety and protection and deliverance in the face of our enemy.

So when our troubles seem unbearable and the battle seems lost let us run to our high towers and find our protection in our Lord. He’ll provide the salvation nothing else can provide.


Saturday, 28 May 2016

Thanks and praise

Therefore I will give thanks to You, O LORD, among the Gentiles, And sing praises to Your name. – 2 Samuel 22.50

‘Therefore I will give thanks’ David writes.

In the light of all God had done David knew the importance of giving thanks. Thanksgiving is a part of worship in both the Old and New Testaments and it ought to be. ‘Giving thanks always’ and ‘in everything give thanks’ and ‘don't be full of car sin everything by prayer and thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God’ are only a few of the many references to thanksgiving.

Notice though something interesting about David's thanksgiving and about his singing of praises.

He says that he is giving thanks and singing praises ‘among the Gentiles.’

You know, it's really easy to give thanks and sing praises at home or at church or when we fellowship with other believers. We are all there to support each other and encourage and pitch in.

But how do we do when it comes to giving thanks and singing God’s praises when we are with others? Are we ashamed to say ‘thank God’ when we are not in our comfort zone? Are we willing to praise God for good news (or bad news) when we are we those who are ‘going to think we are crazy’ when we talk that way?

This is one of those thoughts that really convicts me. I ask myself ‘are my thanks and praise only for those who agree? Or am I willing to give thanks and praise wherever and I am or who I am with or whatever the circumstances?’

I think I need some work on this one.

Friday, 27 May 2016

My Lord is alive


"The LORD lives! Blessed be my Rock! Let God be exalted, The Rock of my salvation! – 2 Samuel 22.47

This is a blessed phrase that David is going to repeat in the Psalms. The verse is almost exactly repeated in Psalm 18. You can sense the sheer joy he expresses as He can finally rest that he is the king of the land.

The Lord lives!
Blessed be my Rock!
Let God be exalted – He is my Rock of salvation!

Wow - that's exciting isn’t it?

First – my Lord is alive. That sounds pretty simple, right? Why then do we so often live like He is dead? We walk around in gloom and doom and despair even though God is alive and active and on His throne.

Second, the Lord is my Rock – my place of stability.

Every time I read David and other writers in the Bible talk about the ‘Rock’ my mind's eye goes to one of two place – the Rock of Cashel and Edinburgh Castle. Both of these are massive ancient structures which were built into mountains of solid rock. When you see this image it is a reminder of the great security that we find only in Him.

And therefore thirdly He deserves to be exalted in my life. Instead of walking around in doom and gloom I ought to walking on clouds because of Who my God is. Only then can I draw men to Him.

Thursday, 26 May 2016

Spreading out my path

You enlarged my path under me; So my feet did not slip. – 2 Samuel 22.37

Yesterday Mary and I had a great hike up to the top of Bray Head. It was a bit of a challenge but we made to the top. The trail was very tight in places and the path was a little rugged and the trail was covered with rocks and stones. We had to watch our step lest we slip and fall. The problem was that there was no way to avoid that narrow trail. We couldn’t avoid the struggle.

Finally our goal was in sight. We could see the giant cross that marks the peak. They last part of the path was really tight and required a bit of a scramble.

Then we were on top and out in the open. The vista of Bray and the harbour and all the mountains around us were clear. Our path was enlarged so that our feet did not slip and there before was Bray cross. Literally our path was enlarged and our feet were safe at the foot of the cross.

That's the kind of thing David is walking about here. His path was a struggle. He was slipping and sliding and battling  to get firm footing. The trail was hard a tight and there was no other way to go.

But, just like God does for us he lifted David out of that tight place and set him in an open space where his feet would not slip.

So if, for the moment, you are struggling along that tight, rocky, slippery path rest assured that we have a God who can lift us up to walk in high places through the power of the cross. All we have to do is trust Him and keep on going.

Wednesday, 25 May 2016

My shield

"You have also given me the shield of Your salvation; Your gentleness has made me great. – 2 Samuel 22.36

We face all kinds of junk being thrown at us by this wicked old world system. We are constantly battered and barraged by all the stuff that is wrong with the world. It can feel overwhelming when no matter where we turn we are faced with junk.

We need some kind of protection don’t we? We need some kind of battier against all the fiery darts of the devil and the world and even out own flesh.

God provides what we need, He provides a shield for us to protect us from all those things that are out their. Ephesians calls it the shield of faith. Here it is called the shield of salvation.

No matter how bad it gets, and it is getting pretty bad, we have a protection. We can fend off all of the attacks of the enemy with our own shield of salvation. My salvation assures me that while things may be tough here there is hope for the future. I can find my hope in Christ for I don’t have to let the rubbish of this world get me down because this is not going to last forever. I don’t have to give in because the Lord will protect my soul.

So I have my shield as I face the world today. May I rest in its protection.

Tuesday, 24 May 2016

God leads me perfectly

God is my strength and power, And He makes my way perfect. He makes my feet like the feet of deer, And sets me on my high places. – 2 Samuel 22.33-34

God has a path prepared for us. We are told in Hebrews to patiently run the race that God has laid out for us. We read the other day about how God’s path is perfect and the path we have planned can lead to death.

God’s path preserved Israel in the long wanderings in the Wilderness. God had led David through all the opposition of Saul and then his own son.

It can take a lot of faith for us to accept that the way God has laid out for us in the perfect path when it doesn’t seem that way. But we can be assured like David here and like Habakkuk that even if things don’t go well we can trust God and He will carry us through.

The Lord knows the way through the Wilderness – all I have to do is follow.

Thomas Gilmore wrote a beautiful hymn in the midst of the American Civil War. He based it on the 23rd Psalm speaking of God’s guidance in a troubled nation. It speaks in better words than I possibly could about God’s loving leadership and my desire to follow in the perfect way He has laid out.

He leadeth me, O bless├Ęd thought!
O words with heav’nly comfort fraught!
Whate’er I do, where’er I be
Still ’tis God’s hand that leadeth me.

Sometimes mid scenes of deepest gloom,
Sometimes where Eden’s bowers bloom,
By waters still, over troubled sea,
Still ’tis His hand that leadeth me.

Lord, I would place my hand in Thine,
Nor ever murmur nor repine;
Content, whatever lot I see,
Since ’tis my God that leadeth me.

And when my task on earth is done,
When by Thy grace the vict’ry’s won,
E’en death’s cold wave I will not flee,
Since God through Jordan leadeth me.

He leadeth me, He leadeth me,
By His own hand He leadeth me;
His faithful follower I would be,
For by His hand He leadeth me.

Monday, 23 May 2016

God's word has been tested

As for God, His way is perfect; The word of the LORD is proven; He is a shield to all who trust in Him. – 2 Samuel 22.31

David’s praise song here has so much that we can be blessed by. His way is perfect and we can rest in Him. There is a lot more to talk about, but the next key truth is that ‘the word of the Lord is tested and proven.’

I love to study Bible doctrine. I am no theologian, but I do enjoy learning an studying about why we believe what we believe. Last night in the iMPACT youth Bible study we started looking at the doctrines. The first one we looked at was the Doctrine of the Bible.

That tied right into this passage. One of the things we talked about was the blessing that is written down and therefore is more sure than if we had just heard it. That led me to think about the collection of ancient Bible manuscripts just up the road in Dublin at the Chester Beatty library. There have collected hundred, if not thousands, of Bible manuscripts. When I have gone they with folks who know the Biblical languages they have been able to read the same things that we read in our Bibles today.

That is an amazing truth because man has done everything he can to discredit or destroy the Bible. It has been banned and outlawed and burned and mocked and laughed at. For at least 2000 years it has been opposed in every way possible.

And still it endures.

Of course we could take a whole nother tack here and talk about how God have proven Himself through His word to us over and over again. Maybe we’ll come across that later.

But for now we know that God’s word has proven itself through its very existence and endurance through the ages. It is here by our sides and near to hand.

Isn’t it worth some time today?

Sunday, 22 May 2016

The perfect path

As for God, His way is perfect; The word of the LORD is proven; He is a shield to all who trust in Him. – 2 Samuel 22.31

The question of which way we are going to go is something we come across dozens of times I day. It starts with something as simply as whether we hit the snooze or not or what to wear or what to have for breakfast. Most of the time those choices are pretty much meaningless. But there are times when we need to make decisions that are going to have consequences.

We search the scriptures and we pray and ask God for direction about what to do. When the scripture is clear it is easy – we obey the word of God.

But what happens when we try to do things God’s way and it doesn't seem to be working out. What happens we are pretty sure things would go better if we did things our way?

The Bible has a pretty clear answer for that. Here are the options:

There is a way that seems right to man, but the end of it is death.
As for God is way is perfect.

Even when I don’t see it or get it or understand it God’s way is right. My pride may not like it – but there it is.

Fortunately we have a few passages of guidance. I guess one of the most popular passages is Proverbs 3.5-6:

Trust in the Lord with all your heart,
And lean not on your own understanding;
In all your ways acknowledge Him,
And He shall direct your paths.

When I trust him, and am not so concerned about trying to figure it out, and acknowledge Him and His way in all I do I can be assured that He will direct my path. And since His path is perfect I can rest that it is perfect for me.

Saturday, 21 May 2016

A lamp in a dark place

"For You are my lamp, O LORD; The LORD shall enlighten my darkness. – 2 Samuel 22.29

Do you ever feel like you walk every day in darkness? There are some places where the darkness is almost palpable. Those who live or served or visited Ireland to minister for an extended period know what I am talking about. This has been a dark land for centuries and it continues today. Sometimes the darkness can be suffocating.

But the whole world is trapped in the darkness of sin. If you have any doubt all you have to do is open your news feed or watch the television or maybe even read the newspaper. The evidence of darkness is everywhere. I just saw a story on the news last night that a man in Ireland had been convicted of repeatedly raping his son from the time the child was 6 years old. I saw a story from the States where a couple had chained children to posts in their garden. While these stories may be extreme they point out the depths to which darkness can go.

David knew about darkness as well. He also knew that there was a light in that darkness. ‘The Lord is my lamp’ he said, ‘He will give light in the darkness.’ It seems like the more dependent we become on society the worse it gets. It is obvious that the light in not in religion. Religion has often only increased the darkness. It is a personal relationship with God Himself that brings light into the darkness. As we walk in His light we reflect that light to the world around us and we shine as lights no matter how dark the darkness. In fact, the darker the darkness the more impact our light has.

We have the light. Let's walk in it and guide the world out of darkness.

Friday, 20 May 2016

Because He delighted in me

"He sent from above, He took me, He drew me out of many waters. He delivered me from my strong enemy, From those who hated me; For they were too strong for me. They confronted me in the day of my calamity, But the LORD was my support. He also brought me out into a broad place; He delivered me because He delighted in me. – 2 Samuel 22.17-20

It is a great and wonderful truth that God will deliver me and does deliver me. That should give me great joy every day of my life. I ought to wake up every day with the words of my lips and in my heart ‘God saves me!’

But just in case that is not enough David takes it one step further – ‘because He delighted in me.’

Wait – did I hear that right? God delivered me BECAUSE He delighted in me?  How does that work? How can a righteous and holy God delight in a world of sinners?

Because God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son. His delight is seen in the fact that while we were still lost sinners He loved us. We only love Him because He first loved us. He rejoices over His people with joy. He rests in His love for His people. He joys over us with singing.

God delights in His creation so much that He desires all men to come to repentance and offers His free gift of salvation to all who trust Him. He also delights in His children and wants us to walk in fellowship with Him.

Praise God for his delights and that He delivers us because He does delight in us.

Thursday, 19 May 2016

He delivered me

"He sent from above, He took me, He drew me out of many waters. He delivered me from my strong enemy, From those who hated me; For they were too strong for me. They confronted me in the day of my calamity, But the LORD was my support. He also brought me out into a broad place; He delivered me because He delighted in me. – 2 Samuel 22.17-20

When we left David he was in the depths of despair and distress. He felt surrounded and like he was in over his head. He felt trapped by his enemies. He couldn’t see a way out. So he did all he could do, he called on the Lord and the Lord heard his prayer.

God sent help from above
God took David
God drew David out of the deep waters of turmoil
God delivered David from his enemies
God was his support
God set him free and put in in a broad place
God delivered him.

When I read this I am reminded of a favourite rousing hymn that tells the same story. I don’t think it is around much anymore, but it has a powerful message.

I was sinking deep in sin,
Far from the peaceful shore,
Very deeply stained within,
Sinking to rise no more;
But the Master of the sea
Heard my despairing cry,
From the waters lifted me,
Now safe am I.

Love lifted me!
Love lifted me!
When nothing else could help,
Love lifted me.

Like the psalmist and the songwriter we can find ourselves in those depth of despair we talked about yesterday. But we also have the same loving Master of the Sea who will hear our cry and lift us up from the depthS. We too can find the deliverance Jonah found when he  said: “I cried out to the Lord because of my affliction, And He answered me. ‘Out of the belly of Sheol I cried,And You heard my voice.” We like Peter sinking under the waves cry out ‘Lord, save me!’

The deliverance is there if we will only call on our Deliverer.

Wednesday, 18 May 2016

In my distress

"When the waves of death surrounded me, The floods of ungodliness made me afraid. The sorrows of Sheol surrounded me; The snares of death confronted me. In my distress I called upon the LORD, And cried out to my God; He heard my voice from His temple, And my cry entered His ears. – 2 Samuel 22.5-7

Wow, how many times have we felt like David? Listen to it and let it sink in and remember how the same emotions felt.

The waves of death surrounded me.
The floods of ungodliness made me afraid.
The sorrows of Sheol surrounded me.
The snares of death confronted me.

Maybe it is just me. Maybe I am assuming too much. But I suspect that most of us know the feeling that David is expressing. Some times we are too can feel swallowed up in our distress.

My problem is that when I get is distress sometimes I just wallow in the distress and try to figure my own way out of it.

Our answer in those days of distress is to call on the Lord. As we call out to Him we can be assured that He will hear us and that He will listen.

Don’t be full of cares about anything. Instead, in every situation call out to God in prayer and supplication while giving thanks for what you have. Then His peace that passes all understanding will lift you up out of your distress.

Tuesday, 17 May 2016

I will call upon the Lord

Then David spoke to the Lord the words of this song, on the day when the Lord had delivered him from the hand of all his enemies, and from the hand of Saul. And he said:
“The Lord is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer;
The God of my strength, in whom I will trust;
My shield and the horn of my salvation,
My stronghold and my refuge;
My Saviour, You save me from violence.
I will call upon the Lord, who is worthy to be praised;
So shall I be saved from my enemies. – 2 Samuel 22.1-4

We certainly get a hint of David the songwriter here don’t we? God is my strength, my shield, my rock, my fortress, me deliverer, my stronghold, my refuge, and in Him I can our trust. I will call on Him and He will deliver me. He is worthy of my praise for He will save me from my enemies.

David was finally in Jerusalem. The question of his kingship had been settled. He was the king and could finally begin his reign as ruler of all Israel. He had faced Saul, his own flesh, the armies of his son, and other enemies and he has seen God work. He had called on God and God had heard and saved him from all that he had faced and God was worthy to be praised for what He had done. He knew now that it was more than just words – God could and would deliver.

Those of us who are saved any amount of time should rest in the the same things. How many times have we seen God deliver us in our trials and our testings? What do we still doubt God during the next test? Why do we fail to give Him the glory and the praise He is due?

I will call upon the Lord who is worthy to be praised. So shall I be saved from my enemies.

What a testimony and what a challenge for us. I can worry and fret and fear and cower in the face of my various enemies despite what God has done in the past.

Or I can call upon the Lord.

Why, oh why, do I have such a hard time choosing the latter?

Monday, 16 May 2016

Kindness

But Barzillai said to the king, “How long have I to live, that I should go up with the king to Jerusalem? I am today eighty years old. Can I discern between the good and bad? Can your servant taste what I eat or what I drink? Can I hear any longer the voice of singing men and singing women? Why then should your servant be a further burden to my lord the king? Your servant will go a little way across the Jordan with the king. And why should the king repay me with such a reward? Please let your servant turn back again, that I may die in my own city, near the grave of my father and mother. But here is your servant Chimham; let him cross over with my lord the king, and do for him what seems good to you.” And the king answered, “Chimham shall cross over with me, and I will do for him what seems good to you. Now whatever you request of me, I will do for you.”- 2 Samuel 19.34-38

Here we have just a brief little incident involving David’s kindness and an old man named Barzillai. Barzillai was a long time supporter of David. He was a wealthy man who had help make provision for David’s army. He has supplied David during Absalom’s uprising. ‘ Barzillai the Gileadite from Rogelim, brought beds, basins, and earthen vessels, wheat, barley, meal, parched grain, beans and lentils, honey and curds and sheep and cheese from the herd, for David and the people with him to eat; for they said, "The people are hungry and weary and thirsty in the wilderness.’

So David remembered Barzillai when it was time to retune to Jerusalem. ‘Come and go back to the palace with me.’

Barzillai would not go. He has happy to go home, but he sent his son Chimham with David and David promised to care for him so that Barzillai could retire in peace knowing his family was taken care of.

But the story doesn't even end there. On David’s death bed he told Solomon. “But show kindness to the sons of Barzillai the Gileadite, and let them be among those who eat at your table, for so they came to me when I fled from Absalom your brother.

David had plenty of issues, but I think it is things like this that show us that he was a man after God’s own heart. He loved his son despite is son’s hatred and rebellion. He showed kindness to Barzillai and his family.

Kindness is a godly virtue that reflects his nature. We can be a whole of things, but let's be sure that among those things is kindness.

Sunday, 15 May 2016

A father's love

Then the king was deeply moved, and went up to the chamber over the gate, and wept. And as he went, he said thus: “O my son Absalom—my son, my son Absalom—if only I had died in your place! O Absalom my son, my son!” – 2 Samuel 18.33

I had always seen this as a wonderful picture of a father’s love for an erring child. I devotionally reading through Pink’s ‘Life of David’ though and he disagrees. He thinks David’s love for his son was wrong because David let his love for his son interfere with what was good for Israel.

I don’t know. I’ll have to look at it more.

But whether his love was right or possibly wrong David did love his son despite all that he had done. His son led a rebellion, stile the hearts of the people, and led the opposition in a great civil war for the throne.

But he died. He caught that long beautiful hair in a tree and was killed with an arrow. When the news came instead of being overjoyed dad was distraught – ‘I wish I had died in your place Absalom.’

There is no explaining a father’s love. I don’t know if it was wrong for David to have so much love for his son or not. I don’t know if David’s love for his son allowed him to make bad choices or not. But as a dad I can sure identify with the words of a great George Strait song:

Let me tell you a secret about a father's love
A secret that my daddy said was just between us
He said daddies don't just love their children every now and then
It's a love without end, Amen, it's a love without end, Amen

I can understand why David hurt.

Saturday, 14 May 2016

Family problems

After this it happened that Absalom provided himself with chariots and horses, and fifty men to run before him. Now Absalom would rise early and stand beside the way to the gate. So it was, whenever anyone who had a lawsuit came to the king for a decision, that Absalom would call to him and say, "What city are you from?" And he would say, "Your servant is from such and such a tribe of Israel." Then Absalom would say to him, "Look, your case is good and right; but there is no deputy of the king to hear you." Moreover Absalom would say, "Oh, that I were made judge in the land, and everyone who has any suit or cause would come to me; then I would give him justice." And so it was, whenever anyone came near to bow down to him, that he would put out his hand and take him and kiss him. In this manner Absalom acted toward all Israel who came to the king for judgment. So Absalom stole the hearts of the men of Israel. – 2 Samuel 15.1-6

David’s family was a mess. It is easy to see why when we see the mess he made of it by his adulterous relationship with Bathsheba and the tragic death of their son.

The rest of his kids we a mess too. A son raped his half-sister. Amnon and Absalom were literally at war with each other and David would not deal with it.

And now Absalom was going to lead a rebellion against him. He raised up a small army of fifty men and chariots and installed himself to intercept those who were going to see King David. He intervened and took matters into his own hands. He said that there was no one qualified to judge so he would take care of things. And, as time went by, he turned the hearts of the people away from his father.

I can’t think of anything sadder than a family breaking down. These are the results and consequences of David’s sin. Even men after God’s own heart are not perfect. Even the author of most of the psalms had issues, not the least of which was a civil war against his own son.

Absalom stole their hearts, but David had their hearts in a place where they could be stolen.

Friday, 13 May 2016

Absalom

Now in all Israel there was no one who was praised as much as Absalom for his good looks. From the sole of his foot to the crown of his head there was no blemish in him. And when he cut the hair of his head—at the end of every year he cut it because it was heavy on him—when he cut it, he weighed the hair of his head at two hundred shekels according to the king's standard. – 2 Samuel 14.25-26

This first real description of Absalom is really something. It tells us why he became popular in Israel. What was is it? Was it is character? Was it is leadership ability? Was it his wisdom? Was it his military ability?

No – it was his beauty. He had no blemish from head to toe. He had a beautiful head of hair – he  had so much hair in fact that it weighed about 3kg. I can’t even imagine carrying around more than six pounds of hair on my head.That hair is going to be a problem, but we’ll talk about that later.

The problem is what drew people to Absalom the usurper. He rose to political and military might based only on his beauty. The other problem is that this attitude can still persist today. People still follow the externals and it has become even more obvious in the television and Internet generation.

But Absalom’s heart did not match up to his outside and we know that God looks on a man’s heart. His dad was not known for his appearance, but for being a man after God’s own heart. Appearance is such a shallow standard with which to judge somone. Absalom’s pride is going to lead to tragedy for him, his dad, and their nation.

Thursday, 12 May 2016

I have sinned

So David said to Nathan, “I have sinned against the Lord.”
And Nathan said to David, “The Lord also has put away your sin; you shall not die. However, because by this deed you have given great occasion to the enemies of the Lord to blaspheme, the child also who is born to you shall surely die.” – 2 Samuel 12.13-14

Nathan called David out on his sin. He told David that God was going to judge his sin. David knew now that he was not going to get away with this, but I suspect that he knew already that he couldn’t.

So what was David going to do when confronted with his sin? There a couple of ways that David could have reacted. They are the same kinds of things we can do.

He could have just flat out denied it.
He could have made excuses.
He could have blamed Bathsheba for being naked in her garden.
He could have admitted and confessed his sin.

Fortunately he chose the right path – ‘I have sinned against the Lord.’

David had sinned against his army. He had sinned against Bathsheba. He had sinned against Uriah. He had sinned against Joab by drawing him into his plot. But most of all he had sinned against God because all sin is rebellion against Him.

When David admitted his sin the truth of ‘if we confess our sins He is faithful and just to forgive our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness’ was fulfilled. Nathan said ‘the Lord has put away your sin, you shall not die.’

That didn’t mean that there were no consequences to his sin – there would be plenty to follow. But his sin was forgiven and his fellowship with God restored.

When we sin it is a shame that we have a hard time just saying ‘yes, I sinned God, and I am sorry.’

As bad as David’s sins were God was still willing to forgive him. What undealt with sins are we harbouring in our lives?

All we can do when we realise it is do what David did and say ‘I have sinned against the Lord.’

Wednesday, 11 May 2016

Thou art the man

Then the Lord sent Nathan to David. And he came to him, and said to him: “There were two men in one city, one rich and the other poor. The rich man had exceedingly many flocks and herds. But the poor man had nothing, except one little ewe lamb which he had bought and nourished; and it grew up together with him and with his children. It ate of his own food and drank from his own cup and lay in his bosom; and it was like a daughter to him. And a traveler came to the rich man, who refused to take from his own flock and from his own herd to prepare one for the wayfaring man who had come to him; but he took the poor man's lamb and prepared it for the man who had come to him.”
So David's anger was greatly aroused against the man, and he said to Nathan, “As the Lord lives, the man who has done this shall surely die! And he shall restore fourfold for the lamb, because he did this thing and because he had no pity.”
Then Nathan said to David, “You are the man! Thus says the Lord God of Israel: ‘I anointed you king over Israel, and I delivered you from the hand of Saul. – 2 Samuel 12.1-7

David may have thought it had pulled it off. His dirty little secret was known only by himself, Bathsheba, and General Joab. As awful as it was it looked like it worked.

Yet one day the prophet Nathan came to him with a tale looking for the king’s ruling in a civil case.

There were two men in a certain region. One guy had vast flocks of sheep. He was very wealthy. The other guy had nothing but one lamb and he treated that lamb like a pet.

Instead of killing one of his sheep, the rich guy came in, took the poor man’s lamb, and had a feast for a visitor.

David was furious!

‘The rich man will be killed and four of his sheep given to the poor man because he did this horrible thing and had no pity.’

The Nathan said something that must have frozen David’s heart – ‘you are that man!’

David must have felt like everything was crashing down around him. It was over. His sin was exposed.

And thus it goes with sin. You can’t hide it. Eventually indeed, your sin will find you out.

David was ‘that man’ before Nathan told him. The sin he was so quick to judge in another he was willing to ignore in himself.

What would David do now that his sin was exposed?

Tuesday, 10 May 2016

David displeased the Lord

And when her mourning was over, David sent and brought her to his house, and she became his wife and bore him a son. But the thing that David had done displeased the Lord. – 2 Samuel 11.27

It all looked settled. Bathsheba was pregnant, Uriah was dead, the mourning process was over, and David had brought Bathsheba home.

Everything was hunky dory.

Except for one BIG problem.

The thing that David had done displeased the Lord.

Only David and General Joab knew the event of what David had done. Well, that is not exactly true because there was someone else who knew what had happened – God knew and He was not happy.

What amazes me is the downward spiral. David was at home when he should have been in the battle. When he saw Bathsheba he pursued her instead of averting his eyes. He had her brought to his bed instead of honouring her marriage. He slept with her instead of doing right. We tried to cover up his sin by deception and when that didn’t work he committed murder.

At the very latest David displeased God when he took that second look at Bathsheba. All the rest just made matters worse. He might have thought he had pulled it off, but God was displeased and God was not done dealing with David.

Sunday, 8 May 2016

Oh what a tangled...

Then David sent to Joab, saying, "Send me Uriah the Hittite." And Joab sent Uriah to David. When Uriah had come to him, David asked how Joab was doing, and how the people were doing, and how the war prospered. And David said to Uriah, "Go down to your house and wash your feet." So Uriah departed from the king's house, and a gift of food from the king followed him. But Uriah slept at the door of the king's house with all the servants of his lord, and did not go down to his house. – 2 Samuel 11.6-9

David had himself in quite a fix. He was the king. He should have been out fighting with his men. Instead he had slept with his general’s wife and now she was pregnant. He had really messed up. What could he do now.

So came up with an elaborate plan. He called for Uriah to return to Jerusalem. When he got there David told Uriah to take a break from the battle and spend the night with his wife.

David of course hoped that Uriah and Bathsheba would do what any couple would do when they spent the night together after an absence. Then of course David could claim that Bathsheba’s baby was Uriah’s and not his.

That would have solved everything.

But David did not count on Uriah being a man of character. He that Uriah would do what he would have done.

But Uriah spent the night on the doorstep. He would not go in a enjoy his conjugal pleasure with his wife when his men were on the battlefield. David came Uriah another chance and still he would not go in to Bathsheba.

David was making a real mess of things. His lust, then his sin, and now his lies and deception showed the depths to which the man of God was sinking.

But there is even worse to come.

Oh, what a tangled web we weave
When first we practise to deceive! – Sir Walter Scott

Saturday, 7 May 2016

David sinned

Then David sent messengers, and took her; and she came to him, and he lay with her, for she was cleansed from her impurity; and she returned to her house. And the woman conceived; so she sent and told David, and said, "I am with child." – 2 Samuel 11.4-5

So what happens when we choose not to run from temptation? What happens when we take that second look? What happens when we click to see more?

What happens is that once we choose the path to sin it is way too hard to turn back. Once we go down that road it is often too late.

David had seen beautiful Bathsheba bathing. He showed utter disregard for himself, for her, and for God. He sent messengers and had Bathsheba brought to his bedchamber.

And they had sex. David fulfilled the desires of his lust – and he sinned. I don’t know if power bring more temptation to sin or if we just hear more about it if no one cares unless the guilty party is in power. But it seems like a lot of powerful men fall into the sin. Politicians and high powered business executives and entertainers even Christian leaders seem to fall into this sin.

Or maybe it is more common than we think.

Anyway David sinned and he may have gotten away with it except for one thing. There was a spanner in the works – Bathsheba was pregnant. Of course David getting her pregnant was not sin and her being pregnant was not sin – it was the illicit sex that was the sin. David had used his power and position and prestige to steal another man’s wife and rob her of her dignity.

This is where that first dalliance with sin leads. We can’t afford to play with sin. Fellas, we can’t afford that second look. We may think we are getting away with it but one day it will catch up with us. As we corrupt our minds with second looks we are playing a dangerous game.

That's what David did – and we haven't heard the half of it. 'I am pregnant' was only the start.

Friday, 6 May 2016

CLICK HERE TO SEE MORE!!!!

Then it happened one evening that David arose from his bed and walked on the roof of the king's house. And from the roof he saw a woman bathing, and the woman was very beautiful to behold. So David sent and inquired about the woman. And someone said, "Is this not Bathsheba, the daughter of Eliam, the wife of Uriah the Hittite?" – 2 Samuel 11.2-3

I wish I knew what was going on in David’s head and how he got to the point where he was. He was, after all, a man after God’s own heart. What was he doing away from the battle field and lying about the house until evening? I honestly don’t know, but it just doesn't sound right.

And then he goes walking around the rooftop. Now that may sound innocent enough, but a lot of Middle East scholars will tell us that it was in the relative coolness of the evening that women would bathe in the courtyards of there homes. If that is indeed the case what was David doing exposing himself to such a situation?

Even then, maybe all of this was innocent. Maybe it is okay for a king to send his men to war and stay home then be in bed till evening and walk around the rooftop at the time when women are bathing in their gardens. Maybe?

Let's assume it was okay. While he is out there he sees a beautiful neighbour bathing herself. She was gorgeous – and at least partially naked.

What's a guy to do?

He had a choice. He could do right and avert his eyes, or he could indulge his flesh and pursue what he saw.

Sadly he did the latter.

When he saw the woman he had to find out more. It is like those ‘click here to see more’ sites on the Internet. ‘You won’t believe what she did next!’ He didn’t have to worry about the Internet but he did have the same problem. From the look of things he would have clicked ‘see more.’

What do we do with what we see lads? I could generalise this post to any kind of sin, but since I am a guy I think we’ll just stay in context. What happens when we see the immodestly dressed gal on the street? What happens when the television programme we like pushes the limits? What happens when we see all those alluring sidebars while checking out a news story?

Do we run away like Joseph - or do we hang around just a little longer?

David failed the test he when he could have turned away. Just like David though when we click that button we open ourselves up to disaster.

Do I really need to say any more lads?

Thursday, 5 May 2016

The tragic sin of David

It happened in the spring of the year, at the time when kings go out to battle, that David sent Joab and his servants with him, and all Israel; and they destroyed the people of Ammon and besieged Rabbah. But David remained at Jerusalem. – 2 Samuel 11.1

We now enter the tragic account of the sin of a man of God. This is always ate tragic tale to read, but even more of a tragedy to live through. With our 20/20 hindsight it is easy to see where David went wrong. What we need is to see it when we a re going through it ourselves.

It all started with David being in the wrong place. I don’t want to question why, but at the time of year when kings are supposed to out on the battlefront David was hanging around Jerusalem.

Whenever we allow ourselves to be where we are not supposed to be we are setting ourselves up for danger. Why wasn't David in battle with his men?

I guess we could try to guess all day, but we can only guess. We know from what follows that he was primed for a fall. If he had only been in the proper place all the ugly mess to follow could have been avoided.

I think we can do the same thing ourselves. Instead of going where God wants us to go or doing what God wants us to do our flesh can take control and we find ourselves in the wrong place and time.

When that happens we had better beware. We are in danger of falling into sin.

Wednesday, 4 May 2016

The beautiful story of Mephibosheth

Then the king said, “Is there not still someone of the house of Saul, to whom I may show the kindness of God?”
And Ziba said to the king, “There is still a son of Jonathan who is lame in his feet.”
So the king said to him, “Where is he?”
And Ziba said to the king, “Indeed he is in the house of Machir the son of Ammiel, in Lo Debar.”
Then King David sent and brought him out of the house of Machir the son of Ammiel, from Lo Debar.
Now when Mephibosheth the son of Jonathan, the son of Saul, had come to David, he fell on his face and prostrated himself. Then David said, “Mephibosheth?”
And he answered, “Here is your servant!”
So David said to him, “Do not fear, for I will surely show you kindness for Jonathan your father's sake, and will restore to you all the land of Saul your grandfather; and you shall eat bread at my table continually.”
Then he bowed himself, and said, “What is your servant, that you should look upon such a dead dog as I?” – 2 Samuel 9.3-8

I am reading through A.W. Pink’s ‘Life of David.’ His account of David’s life is fascinating. My favourite chapter so far has been use of Mephibosheth as an illustration of the grace of Jesus Christ. I can’t possibly cover all that Pink did, but if you get a chance read his marvellous illustration.

But David’s attitude toward Mephibosheth is surely a picture of the most gracious grace.

It's a long story, but here is the gist. David  was now king, but he still wanted to honour Saul and his family. ‘Is there anyone in Saul’s family that I can help?’ Ziba told him that Mephibosheth, Jonathan’s son, was alive, but he was crippled in his feet. When he was young he had been injured in a fall and could not walk.

In those days there was not thought of ‘political correctness.’ Handicapped or crippled or physically disabled people were looked down on and basically just left to their own devices. They were second class citizens. No one really cared.

But David did. A man who saw himself as a ‘dead dog’ became the recipient of the king’s grace and mercy. David provided for Mephibosheth and gave back the land Saul had owned and brought Mephibosheth to the king’s table.

This is an amazing picture of what Christ does for us. As sinners we were as a hopeless and helpless as Mephibosheth. Our futures were grim. But God in His grace reached down and brought us to His table when we accepted His free gift of salvation. He restored the relationship what was shattered by the Fall and lifted us up to His banqueting table.

And Christ continues to feed us at His table and care for us just as David did for Mephibosheth.

But here – read Pink’s account. He nails it.

http://www.pbministries.org/books/pink/David/Vol1/david1_47.htm

Tuesday, 3 May 2016

The Lord preserved David

He also put garrisons in Edom; throughout all Edom he put garrisons, and all the Edomites became David's servants. And the Lord preserved David wherever he went. So David reigned over all Israel; and David administered judgment and justice to all his people. – 2 Samuel 8.14-15

The Lord preserved David seems like a simple enough statement of a common fact – ‘and the Lord preserved David wherever he went’ and David reigned and administered justice.

When we read the psalms we often see David’s acknowledgement that God is with and carrying him through.

But I don’t think any psalm does a better job of talking about God’s preservation than the 23rd Psalm.

The Lord is my shepherd;
I shall not want.
He makes me to lie down in green pastures;
He leads me beside the still waters.
He restores my soul;
He leads me in the paths of righteousness
For His name's sake.
Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
I will fear no evil;
For You are with me;
Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me.
You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies;
You anoint my head with oil;
My cup runs over.
Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me
All the days of my life;
And I will dwell in the house of the Lord
Forever.

What a wonderful reminder of God’s preserving power. I have no idea what tomorrow holds, none of us do. Circumstances may be good or bad. We may face joy or sadness.

But we can rest assured that the Great Shepherd will preserve us and carry us through. In another psalm David writes ‘the Lord will preserve my going out and my coming in.’ He knows all that is going on and He is right there with us.

Whenever I am tempted to despair, Lord, help me remember your preserving influence.

Monday, 2 May 2016

God is God and His words are true

"And now, O Lord GOD, You are God, and Your words are true, and You have promised this goodness to Your servant. Now therefore, let it please You to bless the house of Your servant, that it may continue before You forever; for You, O Lord GOD, have spoken it, and with Your blessing let the house of Your servant be blessed forever." – 2 Samuel 7.28-29

It just a few words here David nails some key things that we need to know about God if we are going to blessed in our service for Him.

We must know that God is God.
We must know that His words are true.
We must know of His promises to us.

First of all we must know that God is God. That sounds pretty simple but we need to be sure that out of all the things in the world that can be our gods only the Lord God is our God. God is importable, invisible, God only wise. He is the unchangeable God. He is all mighty, all powerful, and all present. He is light and love and righteousness. This is our God and if we don’t have confidence in Him for who He is we cannot be blessed in our service. God is God.

He words are true. God says it and that settles it. All scripture is breathed out by the Holy Spirit and so they can be trusted. His words are the source of our hope and confidence and assurance. They never change so are as true today as when David wrote them.

God is God. His word is true. And His words are full of great and precious promises just waiting for our discovery. Because God is God He always keeps His promises because He cannot lie.

God is God, His words are true, and He has promised goodness to His people. What a great promise with which to start this new week.

Sunday, 1 May 2016

His Exalted Name

So let Your name be magnified forever, saying, 'The LORD of hosts is the God over Israel.' And let the house of Your servant David be established before You. – 2 Samuel 7.26

We live in a day when God’s name has been cheapened and made common by a world that rejects Him. His name is used in the most inappropriate ways and thoughtless ways and vain ways.Some folks think they can call of God to damn others. His name has become a tool or something to gain us profit or to claim Him being on our political side in a debate.

We all know that there is a commandment that says ‘you shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain.’ It is easy to say something like ‘I don’t do that. It is just something that comes out when I say ‘OMG’ or ‘Oh G__’ or something like that. I don’t mean anything by it.’ We might say ‘I never say things like ‘D___ d___ it’ so I don’t really take His name in vain.

I hope we don't say any of those things. Even a casual use of God’s name is using it vainly instead of seeing it magnified.

But just as bad I think is dragging God’s name down to try and use Him is business or advertising or politics. Folks who try to sell their products by claiming their product is ‘God’s way’ or the Bible way of doing something cheapen His name.

But my personal pet peeve is applying God’s name to politics of politicians by claiming ‘this is God’s candidate’ in order to claim Christian votes. When we try to force God into our political thought or claim that this party or that party is following God’s agenda we are lowering is name to fit our earthly agenda.

God’s name is to be uplifted and glorified and exalted and magnified. May we never cheapen it by our vain and empty use of His holy name.