The mysteries of life… dealing with sin… a deep settled peace…
DAY ONE – Psalms 89, 96, 100, 101, 107
All of the deep mysteries and yearnings of life crowd into these psalms (songs) we are reading today. Life can be so confusing and unyielding at times that we don’t know which end is up. When everything is going well we think we must be living in Divine favor. But when the tide reverses and goes out we wonder what happened to the blessing; what did I do wrong to bring these woes upon me? It’s difficult to understand COVENANT; it’s difficult to understand God when our world doesn’t function well. One good reason to read the entire Bible is to discover God’s true char acter and the power of His covenant. It is to witness His faithfulness to His Divine mission over the centuries and to realize that His love for mankind will NEVER FAIL. God will sustain His covenant of salvation and will bring everything to conclusion in its time. David was the great king of his time; Jesus became the Great King for all time, born into the lineage of David according to God’s word. David was a type of Christ Jesus. Genealogically Jesus was a son of David in a line of kings; but spiritually Jesus rules over the houses of all the kings, for He is also the Son of God and the Savior of the world!
As nations rise and fall; and as one century gives way to the next, every generation asks itself, “How then shall we live?” And the answer has always been, and still is–
Psalm 96:1-3 Sing to Yahweh a new song! Sing to Yahweh, all the earth. 2 Sing to Yahweh! Bless his name! Proclaim his salvation from day to day! 3 Declare his glory among the nations, his marvelous works among all the peoples. Psalm 100:1-3 Shout for joy to Yahweh, all you lands! 2 Serve Yahweh with gladness. Come before his presence with singing. 3 Know that Yahweh, he is God. It is he who has made us, and we are his. We are his people, and the sheep of his pasture. Psalm 107:1-3 Give thanks to Yahweh, for he is good, for his loving kindness endures forever. 2 Let the redeemed by Yahweh say so, whom he has redeemed from the hand of the adversary, 3 And gathered out of the lands, from the east and from the west, from the north and from the south. Our role is to always believe the best, always be thankful, and always give God our Father the glory He deserves. In that manner we recognize and uphold His covenant of love and salvation, which lasts forever.
DAY TWO – 2 Samuel 7, 1 Chronicles 17, Psalms 1, 2, 33, 127, 132
This seems like a bit much reading for one day, until we realize that our mysterious God is revealing a powerful truth about Himself–that He holds the power of history in order to accomplish His great plans for mankind! Remember that we are reading the Bible this year, not to explain God, but to KNOW HIM. And He very much wants us to know that history is not a juggernaut; it is rather an unfolding of His loving mercy and grace in the affairs of mankind to bring about the salvation of the world while judging and removing all evil. This encounter by God with David is only one small but important piece of that plan.
David wanted to build God a house as appreciation for all the Lord had done. So God replied, in effect, “Thank you David, but I don’t need or want you to build me a house; instead, I want to build YOU a house!” David had just built himself a new house, so he was rightly puzzled. Then God continued, “David, I took you from your place as a shepherd and made you king over my house of Israel. I defeated all your enemies and gave you peace on all sides. Now I will build you a dynasty that will last forever, a house that will stand for all time. Your son will build me a house, all right, but a line of kings that come from you will go on forever through time.” David went and sat before the Lord, deeply thoughtful. And He learned something more about Yahweh God–that the Lord’s plans stretch on through the ages as He wishes and are accomplished by His own might and power. The Psalms accompanying this event further explain that the nations may do what they will; but if they are wise they will keep God foremost in their plans, for their counsel against Him and His eternal kingdom amount to NOTHING! Psalm 33:11-12 The counsel of Yahweh stands fast forever, the thoughts of his heart to all generations. 12 Blessed is the nation whose God is Yahweh, the people whom he has chosen for his own inheritance. Psalm 127:1 Unless Yahweh builds the house, they labor in vain who build it. Unless Yahweh watches over the city, the watchman guards it in vain. To oppose God in any way is really to oppose oneself, for God created us to have fellowship with Him and to know Him. We haven’t historically done too well about knowing God; for we keep wanting to refashion Him into a being we can accept and get along with, while God is wanting to refashion us into the people we were CREATED to be. This might be a really good time to do what David did–go sit and ponder this question: “Dear Lord, how can I become all you want me to be?”
DAY THREE – 2 Samuel 8-9, 1 Chronicles 18
Most people remember the Gulf War fought in Kuwait and Iraq in the early 1990’s, a war which was mostly won in a matter of days. So superior was the firepower of the United States that elite Iraqi forces laid down their arms and abandoned their positions with little struggle. In some ways King David’s victories appeared almost effortless, as described in these chapters, for Yahweh God was granting him success in every war fought by his troops. Nation after nation laid down their arms and became David’s servants, bringing him tribute annually. By placing garrisons in conquered cities he maintained a forced peace that pretty much ended wars in that region.
From warrior to philanthropist–King David now made inquiry after the house of Saul, to see whether there was a surviving descendant to whom he might show kindness. It turned out that a son of Jonathan, David’s close friend, had survived the destruction of Saul’s house, although he was permanently crippled. David brought Mephibosheth forward and honored him by restoring to him all of his grandfather Saul’s property and placing him at the king’s table with the king’s sons for the rest of his life. In the prevailing custom of that time, David would normally have killed Mephibosheth so that no descendant of Saul could ever challenge his kingdom. But David was a man after God’s heart and valued the anointing that Saul had once enjoyed from Yahweh God. David also placed high value on the covenant he had struck with Jonathan, who valued David as highly as his own life. So for the king it was a no-brainer–Jonathan’s son received immediate and permanent relief in the house of the king. Our God is like that–He seeks out the lost, the homeless, the indigent, wherever He can find the remotest connection, in order to bestow a kindness and provide relief. And as we partner with the Lord in His heavenly kingdom on earth, we too look for opportunities to show kindness and provide relief with the Good News and whatever resources we can gather. ‘Philanthropy’ means literally a love for mankind. “For God so loved the world…” While the customs of war and peace in the Old Testament may seem brutal, the love of God shines through again and again as He bestows blessings on the righteous and justice among the nations.
DAY FOUR – 2 Samuel 10, 1 Chronicles 19, Psalms 20, 53, 60, 75
While the world clamors for peace, wars continue to be fought in every generation. Kings are not gods. They are men who, either through noble birth or violent struggle, have succeeded to the top echelons of rule among their countrymen. And once they have arrived, they often reach for more. So wars are fought. Men of peace who are kings defend themselves for the sake of their people and their borders. Yet war continues. King David’s ambassadors, sent to comfort the Ammonite king on the death of his father, were rudely treated and shamed. With half their beard cut off and their skirts trimmed up to the middle of their buttocks, David’s men could but retreat in humiliation. It was an act of war. Of course, David and his army were triumphant, and the evil was repelled, and the Syrians lost forty thousand men, and they didn’t want to fight anymore! So that is the way with the world of mankind. And the world continues to clamor for peace, and wars are still fought. Will it ever end? And if so, when? When a world treaty is signed? When global government is put in place? When international armies police the whole world? Remember, men are not gods. The world is not heaven. And the human heart cannot be brought to peace through violence. The struggle for peace continues.
Psalm 53 is called a contemplation of David, himself a king, a man. After thinking over the problems of nations existing in his world, he said “The fool has said in his heart, there is no God.” When he was a shepherd, and still a teenager, David faced a bear and a lion that had come upon his father’s sheep. With his bare hands, perhaps a club, he killed the animal on both occasions. Later he told King Saul that God helped him and would therefore help him kill Goliath, the gargantuan champion of the Philistines. And God did. David, the shepherd/musician/warrior, knew God in a way that any of us wants to know Him. We want to know, to believe, to enjoy such a relationship. Yet David was a man; when he blew it, he REALLY blew it! We will soon come to his psalm of repentance. So will we ever really be content to let God be God in our broken world? We’re not fools. We know there is a God. We know that He is not a man. We know that He created everything. We know that if there is ever to be lasting peace it will be in a world of God’s making, not ours. Colossians 2:13-15 You were dead through your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh. He made you alive together with (Jesus), having forgiven us all our trespasses, 14 wiping out the handwriting in ordinances which was against us; and he has taken it out of the way, nailing it to the cross; 15 having stripped the principalities and the powers, he made a show of them openly, triumphing over them in it. This is the path to peace; it begins and ends with Jesus Christ, the Son of God, the Prince of Peace. Maybe it’s time we let Him be God in our world, in our life!
DAY FIVE – 2 Samuel 11-12, 1 Chronicles 20, Psalm 51
An event in David’s young life as king is so unthinkable and sobering that it took me two days to sit down and write this paragraph. It seems so… normal, so… human, and yet… Well, David looked down from his palace one night and happened to see a beautiful young woman bathing, and what happened next was predictable. He called her to the palace and spent a night with her. Okay, so she was married and her husband Uriah was with the army fighting another king. When she reported some weeks later that she was pregnant, a full government cover-up went into gear. First, David had Uriah summoned and tried for three days to get him to go home and sleep with his wife to make it appear the baby was his. When that didn’t work, David sent him back to the battle carrying a letter from the king to the general which was, in effect, Uriah’s death warrant. And so it was. Uriah died in battle, David took Bathsheba as another of his wives, and their son was eventually born. But heaven’s response sounded through the prophet Nathan, who was sent by God to call David out and make full exposure of the heinous crimes of adultery and then murder. That was how Yahweh God saw it. With nowhere to hide, his cover blown, David did what he could do; he made full confession. Psalm 51:3-4 For I know my transgressions. My sin is constantly before me. 4 Against you, and you only, I have sinned, and done that which is evil in your sight; that you may be proved right when you speak, and justified when you judge. Yes, God forgave David. He remained king, and his dynasty endured. But the cost of that one night of pleasure followed him bitterly down the years. The baby died. The family was marred. His own son Absalom later rebelled and led a coup against David. The sword remained in his house, and things were forever changed.
The God I love is the One who loved me and forgave all my sin. The God I fear is the God who knows everything I have ever done, things I would love to forget but never will. The God I serve is the God I love and fear–the God who has blessed me more than I deserve and chosen me to represent His kingdom on earth as a full time minister. So I understand Psalm 51–the horror, the humiliation, the repentance, the crying to God, the yearning… and then the assurance of forgiveness, the restored joy, the gratitude that is so deep I will love Him and serve Him the rest of my life. And I wish everyone will know Him that way. God cannot be other than who and what He is. He is Creator, Provider, Lover. He loves with such passion that forgiveness is fully given in Christ, restoration and hope for the future always following. May we find our center in Him forever!