November 25, 2019

Today you should read: 2 Samuel 16

There are 3 figures that we need to focus on in today’s passage, and none of them are David. 

1. Ziba: This is Mephibosheth’s servant, and if you recall Mephibosheth is Jonathan’s son, the son of Saul. So here is the Saul’s grandsons repaying David for the kindness David showed his family. If you recall, Jonathan and David were close friends, and after Jonathan’s death, David took care of Mephibosheth, who was crippled (ch. 9). It is amazing to see that someone from Saul’s lineage is willing to help out David, because the second person in our passage is from Saul’s lineage but he is cursing David. 

2. Shimei: This man is a descendant of Saul. His words and actions are the complete opposite from Ziba’s. If you remember from Tim’s message on Ruth 1, he talked about how you can be bitter or better. Well, Shimei is the bitter one, while Ziba and Mephibosheth are the better ones.

Mephibosheth and Ziba could have blamed David for the death of Saul and Jonathan, but they didn’t. They knew who God had ordained to be king and they helped David in a time of need. Shimei, on the other hand, blamed David for their deaths and did not follow what the Lord ordained. 

3. Much like Shimei, Absalom did not follow what God had ordained. Nowhere in Scripture does it say God anointed Absalom to be king. He decided he wanted to be king and nothing was going to stop him from trying to get that. His actions are wicked, and nothing like how the king of Israel was to act.

What do we learn from these three guys? Well, as Tim says, “Things always go better when you do them God’s way.” Ziba knew that God ordained David to be king and he was going to help the king in a time of need. Shimei and Absalom rejected David as king and wanted their own needs met. 

How are you doing following God’s plan for your life? Are you constantly trying to take control of it or do you submit to God’s authority and rule? This week, notice the times where you are trying to control your life and take that time to stop and pray. Ask God for guidance and direction in that time. 

By: Brice Stockton — Student Ministry Apprentice


November 23, 2019

Today you should read: 2 Samuel 15

I’m not sure if it can get any lower then your own son trying to dethrone you as king. Ever since his sin with Bathsheba, David’s family was suffering the consequences. Beginning with the death of the illegitimate child from the affair and now internal jealousies. Now his son, Absalom had won the hearts of Israel and was about to lead a rebellion against King David’s throne. To protect Israel, prevent a civil war, and avoid bloodshed with his own son, King David fled. Sometimes in our situations and conflicts, it’s wisest for us to not exactly flee, but instead step away when other options seem to point to continued conflict or vengeance. 

More often than not, our initial response to an attack is to defend ourselves. But sometimes it’s best for us to keep peace by spending time with the Lord and trusting Him in the midst of it. In fact we continue to see David’s heart and response in this chapter in Psalm 3 where he writes his prayer to the Lord when in retreat from Absalom across the Jordan River.

Psalm 3 

1 O Lord, how many are my foes!
    Many are rising against me;
many are saying of my soul,
    “There is no salvation for him in God.” Selah

But you, O Lord, are a shield about me,
    my glory, and the lifter of my head.
I cried aloud to the Lord,
    and he answered me from his holy hill. Selah

I lay down and slept;
    I woke again, for the Lord sustained me.
I will not be afraid of many thousands of people
    who have set themselves against me all around.

Arise, O Lord!
    Save me, O my God!
For you strike all my enemies on the cheek;
    you break the teeth of the wicked.

Salvation belongs to the Lord;
    your blessing be on your people!

By: Erik Koliser — West Campus Pastor

November 22, 2019

Today you should read: 2 Samuel 14

For so long David has been a shooting star. His ascendency to power and his faithfulness in the process is an example to follow. He truly was a man after God’s own heart. As such, God blessed David with a covenant of an eternal throne (2 Sam 7). However, as we recently read, David’s ascent has stalled, and his story is plummeting.

We enter chapter 14 with one son dead, and another son living among foreigners to avoid the consequences of murder. Where David fled Saul in righteousness, Absolom fled in sin. 

In chapter 14, David’s man Joab hatches a plot to grant a pardon to Absalom. Like Nathan, Joab brought the woman from Tekoa to tell a story for which David would render judgment, and unknowingly, challenge his own circumstances. Joab’s ploy worked and Absalom could return to Jerusalem. 

Absalom was acquitted legally, but not relationally. For two years, Absalom lived in Jerusalem, but did not see the king. Like a spoiled child, Absalom set fire to Joab’s field to get his attention. After arson got Joab’s attention, Absalom said that it would have been better for him to stay where he was than to be in Jerusalem without a relationship with his father. The king summoned Absalom and the relationship restored. 

This story illustrates a major difficulty in Scripture. How can a person or God be both just and merciful? Many of us are going to swing more one way than the other. Parenting repeatedly illustrates this difficulty. David was both father and king of the murderer.

This difficulty of justice and mercy is a theme of scripture. However, it was addressed clearly in Romans 3. Paul makes the connection that God must be just as He justifies people, and this was done by the severe sacrifice of Christ. God’s justice was satisfied because His wrath was poured out on Jesus (Romans 3:25). Amazingly, in this passage, Paul also shared how this sacrifice might be effective for us—to be received by faith. Sin does not go unpunished—God is just. Because of Christ, we get to experience mercy instead of the consequences of our guilt. 

Ultimately, David offered mercy without justice, which doesn’t usually work out well for the forgiven. For us, we receive mercy through faith, for which justice has been satisfied. Likewise, we understand that true faith includes repentance. Absalom’s mercy never included repentance in the story. This kind of mercy has a way of causing problems as we will see. However, when we receive mercy from the Lord it is complete. Unlike Absalom, we don’t have to wait years to have a relationship with the King. When we receive Christ, by faith, we are not only acquitted legally. Through Christ we experience a full and complete relationship. 

For all that is “wrong” in this story, let us today dwell on the words of the unnamed woman. In verse 14 she makes an incredible statement, “[God] devises ways so that a banished person does not remain banished from him.” It took an incredible sacrifice, but Jesus made it so. Spend some time thanking God that He is both just and merciful—that when we were banished in our sin, He devised a way. 

By: Tyler Short — Connections Ministry Associate

November 21, 2019

Today you should read: 2 Samuel 13

It is safe to say that 2 Samuel 13 is the account of one of the most tragic stories in the whole Bible. When we read this story we often ask “ Why God…?” Accounts of real events like this in Scripture can often lead us to question the character of God. Though I understand that, it should not. Scripture is a historical book. Not everything written in it is endorsed by God but used by God to help us be better followers of Him. God does not make us robots. Sin is real. So the question is not “Why  God…?” BUT “Why humanity…?” and when we encounter stories like this we need to seek to see (1) why we need God (2) how to live for Him and (3) how Jesus is the solution to our sin. 

This is an account of Tamar and Amnon. Amnon is King David’s son and is in love with his sister Tamar. He devises a plan to rape her though she was just trying to take care of her “sick” brother. This sin turned his “love” for his sister into hate. When his Father, King David, heard he was angry but did nothing. This led to Amnon’s brother Absolom to take matters into his own hands and commit murder and flee. Situational brokenness. Family brokenness.

In this story we learn that our sin brings brokenness to ourselves and others, including our family and that a father matters to the family.

  1. David’s SIN with Bathsheba (2 Samuel 11-12)

This is not a coincidence. Kids are watching parents. They are learning. Often what parents do in moderation kids will do in excess. David was wrong. Amnon took this to a whole new level. David thought this sin might have just affected him. He was wrong. No doubt, even through repentance, this sin caused family dysfunction.

  1. Amnon PLOTS and SINS (2 Samuel 13:1-14)

The sin in Amnon’s heart came out into his hands as it always will. This hurt himself (v. 15-16), this hurt her (v. 17-19), and this hurt their family (v. 20-22). Sin is ALWAYS bigger than just us.

  1. David did NOTHING (v. 21-22)

David, in this circumstance, was an absent father. Whether it was because he was reminded of his sin, he didn’t know how to respond, he didn’t know how to lead in this, he was too busy, or he just didn’t care (I don’t think this is the case based on v.21)… he was silent and this cost him and his family dearly. The dysfunction didn’t fix itself, it grew. It culminated in murder. You think David would have learned the first time to address sin head on.  This story is clear… In our brokenness and trauma we need the hope of Jesus.

We need Jesus in our brokenness & trauma to…

  1. BREAK the chains of our fathers (2 Samuel 13:1-14)
  2. DECLARE worth to our souls ( 2 Samuel 13:15-20)
  3. GIVE us a voice we have not earned (2 Samuel 13:21-22)
  4. STAND with us while we reap what we sow (2 Samuel 13:23-39)

Whether we are the one who committed the sin or we are the recipient of the sin of someone else, we can look at Jesus… the God who breaks chains, declares worth, gives us a voice, and stands with us because of his life, death, and resurrection. 

We can cling to the promise in Hebrews 13:5,

I will never leave you nor forsake you.”

And 2 Timothy 2:13,

When we are faithless, He remains faithful – for He cannot deny Himself.”

  1. Where do you need the healing of God in your life?
  2. Pray and lay it at the feet of Jesus. 

By: Nick Parsons — Pastoral Ministry Associate: College