Living the connected life… When bad things happen… Fake news?.. Chickens come home to roost…
DAY ONE – Psalms 32, 86, 102, 103, 122
The repetition of David’s inner musings–his thoughts and prayers, his crying out to the Lord, his deep expressions of love and devotion–confirm what we already know, that relationships are built on a lifetime of self-disclosure and earnest communication. That David did not say it once and leave it at that; that he repeatedly persisted in his songs of devotion and inquiry, demonstrate that he LIVED HIS LIFE WITH THE GOD who made him. David was truly a man “after God’s heart.” He lived a connected life, one that was replete with testimony of the Lord’s blessings on David and his posterity. I suggest you go back now, and read aloud Psalms 32 and 103. Think, muse, ponder; let what is known for sure about the Lord sink into your consciousness and shape your worldview. Set your inner person free to love this God, to love Him more than life, to serve Him, to stay connected to Him. Need I say more? Oh yes, remember to take notes here and there–you can call it a journal–so that you have a record of your relationship with this Lord God who loves you.
DAY TWO – 2 Samuel 13-15
Does God cause bad things to happen? When Nathan the prophet told King David that the sword would never depart from his house, did that mean that Yahweh God was beginning a vendetta against David to punish the crimes he committed involving Bathsheba and Uriah? Not at all. If we are to ever understand the Bible we must understand our Lord’s nature and character. James 1:13-17 Let no man say when he is tempted, “I am tempted by God,” for God can’t be tempted by evil, and he himself tempts no one. 14 But each one is tempted when he is drawn away by his own lust, and enticed. 15 Then the lust, when it has conceived, bears sin; and the sin, when it is full grown, produces death. 16 Don’t be deceived, my beloved brothers. 17 Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom can be no variation, nor turning shadow. David’s actions in the above account arose from within his own human nature. His son Amnon’s actions likewise arose from within his human nature. From Adam onward, the world has tolerated and responded to brokenness and destruction that arises within human nature. We are not good on our way to being better. Improving our circumstances doesn’t improve our character. Getting an education, having a good income, marrying well; none of these things shifts our essential human condition. Psalm 53 made it clear that there is none righteous, not one. And Isaiah 53 clearly points out that we have all gone astray, all have turned to our own way–the word is iniquity, or lawlessness. And our loving Father in heaven still has a beneficent plan to save the world. He never changes. He is the epitome of all that is good and right.
The rape of Tamar by Amnon her half-brother; the murder of Amnon by Absalom his brother; and the rebellious coup hatched in Absalom’s heart against his father David are all examples of the destruction that wastes away in the hearts of people, even in the king’s household! Nobody escapes the deadly effects of sin on the human race. That is why everyone of us needs a Savior and Healer. In His righteous way, Yahweh God was unfolding His plan to save the world until it could result in that Savior and Healer. God’s answer to the sword lifted against the human race is His Son, Jesus Christ. We will say much more later, but do remember what David said, Psalm 51:4 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. Curse the devil all you want for his dark interference in the human race, but determine to hold God guiltless no matter what happens in this broken, fallen world. Only He has a righteous plan that is working to save all that we hold dear. Try being thankful today; worship Him on bended knee and ask Him to repair broken things and heal wounded things. It might be you in need of His wonderful works!
DAY THREE – Psalms 3, 4, 13, 28, 55
Fake news. Conspiracy. Treachery. Betrayal. No, this is not Washington D.C., circa 2018. This is Jerusalem, circa 800 A.D. David is king, anointed by Yahweh God to serve Israel. And if you fully absorb the ambiance implied in these psalms, humankind hasn’t changed much. The same envy, petty jealousies, behind-the-back gossip and outright efforts to destroy, plagued the political halls of his day as they do ours. From the sound of things David, though he reigned a total of forty years, faced constant rebellion and threats against both his kingdom and his person. Our attempts to romanticize, sanitize or spiritualize the stories told in the Bible diminish the reality it actually reveals. Mankind really HASN’T changed much. Yes, there are good people around us; and yes, there are loyal friends in every season of our life. But our detractors are in sufficient numbers to keep us before God humbly crying for help and deliverance, as David had to. Rather than resort to violence against his enemies, David again and again resorted to earnest pleas before Yahweh God. And in the midst of the persecution, after singing and giving thanks to the Lord, David lay down and slept in peace, secure in God’s keeping.
Today’s Psalms are wonderful prayers to be read, personalized and remembered. Let’s not make prayer an occasional event. It is really like breathing–in, out, in, out… prayer is a quiet (or noisy) conversation with God that goes on in the course of our day, sometimes filled with angst but mostly with faith and trust, resulting in peace. God IS for us, He IS with us, He IS including us in His wonderful plan to save the world. Let’s live in THAT reality and with that expectation. These psalms of David will strengthen your heart and resolve no matter what you face.
DAY FOUR – 2 Samuel 16-18
The last few entries have been difficult to write, for the story is the sad fulfillment of Yahweh’s warning to David that his own crimes had brought the sword to his house. Though the Lord forgave David and established his kingdom, the consequences of his acts continued to play out through the broken relationships in his own family. The sheer treachery in today’s reading confirms what we know about human nature and behavior–that self-interest is a great motivator. Absalom, Ahithophel, Shimei and Barzillai are examples of those who used the confusion to serve their own interests. Others sacrificed their own interests to protect King David and help those caught in the middle of the attempted coup. David himself was terribly conflicted and was finally ready to give up the kingdom if it would restore order. But God… BUT GOD knows the hearts of all men and uses even our fallen nature to accomplish His eternal purposes. He loves us all and is always working His plan to save the world. So the counsel of Hushai, one of David’s loyal followers, was used by God to thwart Ahithophel’s counsel to Absalom, leading the would-be rebel king to amass an army and go up against his father’s army. That was not a good move, for David and his valiant and mighty men were highly experienced in war. Divided into three contingents, David’s men met the army of Israel and slew twenty thousand soldiers. The rest fled for their lives. Absalom, hanging in a tree by his own hair, died at the hands of the General Joab. So the crisis was averted, but another was just beginning, for David could not be consoled over the loss of his son. What would happen next?
The fact that we live in the New Testament era, several thousands of years removed from the story of David, affirms the salvation God has provided and confirms that He always has a ‘next move.’ No, the story is not complete yet, though it has forever been written by the Holy Spirit and the prophets. We know that Yahweh wins, yet we live with and through our own dramas as the world turns about us. And all we can do is trust Him–that is, we cannot control everything that is happening around us; but we can get up every day, give thanks to God, and trust His sovereign grace to turn all into good. Romans 8:28 (NLT) And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to His purpose for them.
DAY FIVE – Psalms 26, 40, 41, 58, 61, 62, 64
If ever there was a man who foreshadowed Christ in ancient days, that man would be David. Even though we see him often in the agony of soul that comes from his enemies–both without and within–He is always crying out, reaching for the heavens and for the mercies of God to cover his soul and deliver him. And yet David reflects the ignorance of the ancient world when trying to understand the COSMIC war between good and evil. Why is there evil at all? And why can’t a man live the righteous life he desires to live? Basically, what is wrong with us in the first place? Until Jesus came, the mystery of good and evil kept the world on edge and in conflict. Good men would seek Yahweh God and attempt to serve Him and their generation. Wicked men would seem to flourish while plotting against the good and trying to make their own world after their own imagination. David, a king, was often caught in the middle. Hear his own words: Psalm 40:9-10 (NLT) I have told all Your people about Your justice. I have not been afraid to speak out, as You, O LORD, well know. 10 I have not kept the good news of Your justice hidden in my heart; I have talked about Your faithfulness and saving power. I have told everyone in the great assembly of Your unfailing love and faithfulness. That is so much like Jesus, who was yet to come, for a couple of verses earlier David prophesied of the coming Christ a passage that is recorded in the New Testament: Hebrews 10:5-9 (NLT) That is why, when Christ came into the world, He said to God, “You did not want animal sacrifices or sin offerings. But You have given Me a body to offer. 6 You were not pleased with burnt offerings or other offerings for sin. 7 Then I said, ‘Look, I have come to do Your will, O God—as is written about Me in the Scriptures.'” 8 First, Christ said, “You did not want animal sacrifices or sin offerings or burnt offerings or other offerings for sin, nor were You pleased with them” (though they are required by the law of Moses). 9 Then He said, “Look, I have come to do Your will.” He cancels the first covenant in order to put the second into effect.
Mankind was losing the cosmic war–Satan’s war against God and his people–until Jesus came to put an end to it. So while David continued to face his conflicts, crying to God for mercy and deliverance, we today also cry out to the Lord, but in the name of Jesus, the perfect, sinless man and the ultimate sacrifice for our sins. Jesus, who conquered evil and was resurrected from the dead to live forever in God’s glory, helps us face evil without and within, keeping us and leading us to the ultimate victory. Jesus is for all time what David–in all his humanness–was to His own generation. Thank you, God!