A broken covenant… A time for integrity… Who cares how many there are… Giving myself to prayer… Dangerous course of revisionism…
DAY ONE – 2 Samuel 19-21, Psalms 5, 38, 42
Absalom’s death precipitated unmitigated grief and mourning as David wept with abject despondency over the loss of his son. Joab warned that his demoralized troops, who had fought bravely, would desert if David did not lead the victory celebration. That being done, the king’s return toward Jerusalem brought out all of his enemies who had supposed that he would be overthrown. Suddenly they were all smiles and so-o-o-o happy that the king survived and was returning to the throne! The political climate was so highly charged, with all factions weighing their options and future plans. But the right massaging and intervention from the right people, began to restore order. A short-lived rebellion by Sheba was quelled through the actions of a wise woman, sparing a city from further bloodshed. As Jerusalem began to settle down and people returned to their ‘normal’ lives, suddenly a famine appeared in the land. When David inquired he learned that God was displeased that Saul, David’s predecessor, had ignored a covenant struck during Joshua’s time and had attempted to wipe out the Gibeonites. Trying frantically to find a remedy, David honored the request of the Gibeonites, and the famine was broken.
If we are learning anything from these real stories of real people, it is that integrity is powerful and covenants are made to be kept. Consequences chase us down the way when we lose integrity and violate covenants. In a world that was originally wired by God to support truth and integrity, all kinds of mischief–and sometimes outright evil– erupts when we violate the basic principles of our created purpose. Galatians 6:7-9 Don’t be deceived. God is not mocked, for whatever a man sows, that he will also reap. 8 For he who sows to his own flesh will from the flesh reap corruption. But he who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life. 9 Let’s not be weary in doing good, for we will reap in due season, if we don’t give up. Isaiah 57:15 For thus says the high and lofty One who inhabits eternity, whose name is Holy: “I dwell in the high and holy place, with him also who is of a contrite and humble spirit, to revive the spirit of the humble, and to revive the heart of the contrite.
DAY TWO – 2 Samuel 22-23, Psalm 57
Calling himself the sweet psalmist of Israel, King David penned his last words: 2 Samuel 23:1-5 Now these are the last words of David. David the son of Jesse says, the man who was raised on high says, the anointed of the God of Jacob, the sweet psalmist of Israel: 2 “Yahweh’s Spirit spoke by me. His word was on my tongue. 3 The God of Israel said, the Rock of Israel spoke to me, ‘One who rules over men righteously, who rules in the fear of God, 4 shall be as the light of the morning, when the sun rises, a morning without clouds, when the tender grass springs out of the earth, through clear shining after rain.’ 5 Isn’t my house so with God? Yet he has made with me an everlasting covenant, ordered in all things, and sure, for it is all my salvation, and all my desire, although he doesn’t make it grow. Would that these words could be posted and read in the halls of government and in corporate offices across the land. Goodness, righteousness, integrity are attributes of God and are learned by men who seek relationship with Him. Wickedness and treachery are opposite traits and are picked up from our fallen, broken world of mankind. Always pursuing His plan to save the world, Yahweh God reaches to every one of us with mercy and love, hoping for a positive response to arise from within us. Government and culture represent the collective response to God from a people or nation and are closely related to those who rule in high places. When good people lead, good people follow. So David’s kingdom continued to grow, and prosperity and blessing followed as neighboring nations laid down their arms and submitted to God’s righteous expressions through David’s rule. Our world will never be a perfect place, and we will never achieve personal perfection so long as we live here. But God will continue to be merciful and gracious to those who seek Him and humble ourselves before Him. And as we continue our journey through the Bible, we will soon enough meet God’s perfect answer to every human conundrum.
DAY THREE – 2 Samuel 24, 1 Chronicles 21-22, Psalm 30
The ‘look-back’ is a powerful tool. In today’s story David recalls a dark moment in the history of his administration as king of Israel. One version of the story says that God’s anger was released as motivation for David to do another census in the country. The other version says that Satan stood against David and urged the action. Regardless, it turned out as a wicked act. David made the decision against the advice of his generals and advisers. He prevailed! The census was taken. What is so wrong in that? I can figure only that God had made promise to Abraham that his descendants would be as the ‘stars of the heavens’ and ‘sands of the sea’–in other words, too numerous to count. Who cares how many there are? God doesn’t deal in numbers. He does His best work through whatever groups of people are trusting Him and obeying His guiding orders. David’s actions were reprehensible and brought a swift response from Yahweh, which David himself had to choose. Unable to do so, David cried out to be left at the mercy of God, who always proved generous and merciful. A brief plague wiped out 70,000 Israelis before God showed David how to atone for the nation. It cost him big time. It humbled him greatly. It provoked him to long for the Lord’s presence in a new way, close to home. That’s when he decided anew to build God a house in Jerusalem. And that’s when Gad, David’s seer/prophet, brought him another personal message from Yahweh. His administration coming to a close due to David’s age, the king called his son Solomon and gave him careful instructions about being king over Israel in David’s place. His biggest accomplishment would be to build God a house. David had been preparing for a long time, stockpiling all kinds of building materials and precious metals for the project. Hundreds of millions of dollars’ worth of gold, silver and other, were stored in the treasury for the huge undertaking. David was the warrior/musician/king. His son Solomon would be a man of rest, endued with incredible wisdom and wit, able to solve deep problems and find wise solutions.
The Bible is the most honest and forthright collection of writings ever assembled to present God’s story to us all. Among other revelations, we learn that each and every one of us is endowed by God to represent a facet of His character and power to our generation. No single person has it all. The people of God, as a collective, demonstrate His grace, mercy and involvement in our time and culture. To reject or resist the Lord is to resist our very self, our highest and best nature; for God has written His own image into our DNA. To that end, let us pray and praise our way forward, working with God’s Spirit to reveal His glory to our generation.
DAY FOUR – Psalms 108, 109
If we live long enough, every one of us is likely to feel deeply that God has somehow stopped taking notice of us, is no longer hearing our prayers, is hard to find. Even though we know better, the overwhelming circumstances that have accumulated or lingered over our life take a toll on our emotions and sometimes even our health. Then, out of our deep feelings of dismay or even despair we give vent to things we would never think or say in better times. These psalms could be OUR voice crying out to God. David went so far as to imprecate against wicked people who seemed to do evil for the sake of doing evil! Not caring for God or anyone else, the wicked often callously continue on their way, thinking only of their own enrichment, though it be at the expense of others around them. We don’t know exactly whether David was wishing a curse upon them or predicting that their own life would return to them as a curse. Surely we have occasionally been so angry at a wicked person that we could wish calamity upon him. In spite of all this, David says, “But I give myself to prayer” (109:4). Surely prayer is the crossroad at which I change direction. Giving myself to prayer will always lead to giving myself to God. And when I give myself to God in the midst of disturbing and discouraging circumstances, I am always reminded of His faithfulness and righteousness. God sees my situation but is not part of it. He feels my pain but is above it. He regards me but is still the Sovereign Creator of His universe and my life! When I give myself to prayer my eyesight clears; my heart revives; my thinking shifts; my understanding improves. David was a man of prayer; he was a great king. His detractors, his enemies, his adversaries wore themselves out plotting against him; but whether it was an individual or a neighboring king, that person always discovered God standing between himself and David. Let the wicked be. Don’t wrack yourself or twist in agony over them. Their own evil strategies are the platform from which they will fall into oblivion!
Here is our righteous strategy: Psalm 109:30-31 But I will give repeated thanks to the LORD, praising Him to everyone. 31 For He stands beside the needy, ready to save them from those who condemn them.
DAY FIVE – 1 Chronicles 23-26
When God is the foundation stone of government, He is also part of an orderly transition. Just so, when it came time for David to make his son Solomon king, he gathered together the Levites and priests along with all the leaders of Israel. It appears the government couldn’t be run without God! There were thirty-eight thousand Levites, numbered by family and assigned by lot to their various functions, all of which focused around the house of God, the tabernacle. What was once a theocracy–rule by God–at least maintained the semblance of God’s influence in government. Israel’s ‘golden age’ had come, and Solomon was to be the Lord’s choice to oversee it. So we have, once again, genealogies of the Levites all the way back to Moses and Aaron, original leaders of Israel from Sinai onward. Do we think it might be interesting to catalogue the spiritual genealogy of America? Would we be able to discover the spiritual roots of our nation–times when God’s Name and Presence presided over our development as a people? And what events or forces would we discover along the way that dramatically reduced God’s influence and caused the drift into secular humanism? At which intersections would we able to say that America turned away from the Lord and pursued a dangerous course of revisionism?
We shall soon visit Israel’s repeated forays into idolatry and apostasy, into which God had to repeatedly intervene with punishment and/or discipline. Remember, it has ALWAYS–from Adam going forward–been God’s loving plan to save the world. He has succeeded at every step by His OWN wisdom and power, by His OWN mercy and grace! Our Lord continues to initiate salvation and covenant throughout the nations in spite of man’s objections! Don’t we long for God to rule again? Isn’t heaven for us THE logical choice, and wouldn’t we love to see more heaven on earth? Have we a plan for ‘how’ we will live until our broken, fallen world gives way to God’s glorious plan to save it? Proverbs 14:34 Righteousness exalts a nation, but sin is a disgrace to any people. As we grow in our relationship with the God of the Bible, may we increasingly discover how each of us fits into His plan to save the world.