January 7, 2013

Today you should read: 2 Samuel 19

In today’s reading we learn that David is overrun with grief over the death of his son Absalom.  A parent’s love is a unique thing that never turns, even if the child does.

We read in verse 2:

all the people heard of the king’s deep grief for his son

Verse 4 reveals more:

The king covered his face with his hands and kept on crying, “O my son Absalom! O Absalom, my son, my son!”

Maybe you’ve experience overwhelming grief caused by loss, or loneliness, or even by someone deserting you.  Where do you turn?  What do you do?  How can God heal your heart?

1.       Realize that grief is a normal, human emotion.  Normalize the Normal… Everyone grieves at one time or another in his or her life.  Even Jesus, the Son of God, grieved – actually several times that we know of.  We know He grieved at the death of Lazarus (John 11:35), He wept over Jerusalem (Matthew 23:37), and in the garden asking His Father to remove the cup of suffering from Him (Matthew 26:36ff).

2.       Don’t be an island – reach out to others for help.  When grief is overwhelming, it’s easy to shut down.  That’s exactly the worst thing for you to do.  It’s at times like this we need the support of others the most.  Reach out strategically to those who can help you.

Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.  Galatians 6:2

3.       Draw near to God – allow Him to love you.  The times we need the Lord the most, are the times we often pull away the hardest.  He’s what you need.  He can minister to your soul in ways that no one else can.

Draw near to God and He will draw near to you.  James 4:8

 Cast your cares on the LORD and he will sustain you; he will never let the righteous fall.  Psalm 55:2

4.       Remember that this too shall pass.  Often when you’re in the middle of a “grief storm” in life, you think you’ll never get out.  It feels hopeless and permanent – it’s not.  Jesus told us that in this life you will have trouble – but He has overcome it (John 16:33).

There is an appointed time for everything. And there is a time for every event under heaven :

A time to give birth and a time to die;

A time to plant and a time to uproot what is planted;

A time to kill and a time to heal;

A time to tear down and a time to build up;

A time to weep and a time to laugh;

A time to mourn and a time to dance.  Ecclesiastes 3:1-4

5.       Rest in God’s faithfulness.  You can trust Him.  He is worthy of your trust and He’s never failed.  This reminds me of one of my favorite hymns:

“Great is Thy faithfulness,” O God my Father.  There is no shadow of turning with Thee.  Thou changest not, Thy compassions, they fail not, as Thou hast been Thou forever wilt be. 

“Great is Thy faithfulness!” “Great is Thy faithfulness!“ Morning by morning new mercies I see; All I have needed Thy hand hath provided —“Great is Thy faithfulness,” Lord, unto me!

Remember the words of Psalm 30:5:

Weeping may last through the night, but joy comes with the morning.

Posted by: Tim Parsons

January 5, 2013

Today you should read: 2 Samuel 18

Today’s passage is the tragic ending of Absalom’s shot at overthrowing his father David as king. David wanted desperately to end this and spare Absalom but his commander, Joab, had other plans. When Joab found Absalom he was stuck in a tree by his hair. Joab killed him and threw him in a pit. When David found out about this he was devastated.

This tragedy shows us that when we steer from God’s plans, (David was the rightful king) bad things happen. Absalom allowed his pride to overtake him and bad counsel propelled him into the dangerous venture of trying to overthrow his father. A venture which, we see here cost him his life.

So what can we learn here? Well, to borrow a phrase from Pastor Tim:

Things work better when we do them God’s way

When we do things the way God intends for us to and follow what he has for us to do and be, things usually work out well and they certainly work better than when we don’t. So next time you have a choice to make and you can follow God’s way or not remember this story; especially if you have long hair.

Posted by: Robbie Byrd

January 4, 2013

Today you should read: 2 Samuel 17

This passage will make a lot more sense to you if you re-read 2 Samuel 15:31:

Now someone told David, saying, “Ahithophel is among the conspirators with Absalom.” And David said, “O LORD, I pray, make the counsel of Ahithophel foolishness.”

David learned that Ahithophel was taking aim at him.  Ahithophel was among those who had begun to follow Absalom and wanted him to be king.  When David heard that Ahithophel, whose given advice was regarded “as if one inquired of the word of God (2 Sam. 16:23),” was against him, he prayed that Ahithophel’s advice in regards to taking him out would either be foolish or sound foolish to those he was advising.

Now, back to chapter 17:1-4.  Ahithophel gave Absalom an intelligent plan of action in order to take out David quickly.  His plan was bold, but smart because it would have been quick and it would have avoided a long and deadly civil war in Israel between David’s followers and Absalom’s followers.  Though evil was intended, Ahithophel’s strategy was wise.  Absalom liked this plan of action.

Now, look at 17:5-14.  Though, Absalom liked Ahithophel’s plans, he asked for the advice of Hushai, who said that Ahithophel’s advice was not good.  He proceeded to give a different plan.

Now, why did Absalom consider questioning Ahithophel’s advice?  Look at verse 2 Samuel 17:14.

Then Absalom and all the men of Israel said, “The counsel of Hushai the Archite is better than the counsel of Ahithophel.” For the LORD had ordained to thwart the good counsel of Ahithophel, so that the LORD might bring calamity on Absalom.

The Lord had ordained to thwart the good counsel of Ahithophel.  Ok, now go back and look at 2 Samuel 15:31.  Look at David’s prayer, and now look in 17:14 how God answered the prayer.  That’s pretty cool.  Ahithophel’s good advice was seen as foolishness compared to Hushai’s advice.  That’s a specific answer to David’s prayer. You’ll see in the next chapter how things worked out for Absalom.

Two things I am reminded of in this passage are:

  1.  God answers prayer according to His will, and he answers specifically.  I must be one who seeks the Lord so that I can know His will and pray accordingly and specifically.  Then, I can watch for God to answer specifically.
  2. God is faithful to His plan and promises.   Despite all the effort to thwart God’s plans, He has never wavered.  His plan was to provide a Savior through the line of David.  God has and will always be faithful to His plan and promises.  I am thankful for the Savior, and despite all the evil in this world, there is no question that God will prevail.

Posted by: Rich Duffield

January 3, 2013

Today you should read: 2 Samuel 16

Today’s passage has a lot of things going on in it. We see three different scenes happening here. Let’s look at each for a moment:

First, we see in verses one through four that David, while journeying, crosses paths with Ziba, the servant of Mephibosheth.  Mephibosheth was Jonathan’s son and, in chapter nine, David shows him kindness when he thought David would come to kill him. In today’s passage Ziba seeks out David to show him the kindness that he showed his master. Now, apparently Mephibosheth has decided that this recent overthrow of David would allow him to become king but Ziba realizes what has happened and goes out of his way to take care of the true, God-anointed king.

So what can we learn here?

Showing kindness to others can pay off.

Now that does not mean we do kind things just to receive them back, but when we show kindness to others it can sometimes bring reciprocation. However, when we don’t show kindness it is unlikely that others will show it to us.

The next story is about David and those who remained loyal to him leaving the city to seek refuge from his son. A man named Shimei, who was from the same clan as Saul, comes out and begins cursing David and throwing stuff at him. The guards are ready to cut him down but David says no and tells them this rebuke is from the Lord and he just takes it.

So what can we learn here?

Sometimes we need to endure harsh things

David had the power to eliminate this man and his cursing but he recognized this as being sent from the Lord and he endured it. He thought that maybe, by enduring this situation that God would see his misery and restore him. David was banking on God being merciful and kind and we should too because He is.

The final story is about Absalom bringing in two men, Hushai and Ahithopel as his advisors. Hushai was sent in as a spy and to frustrate the advice of Ahithopel.  Ahithopel gives Absalom his first piece of advice. He tells him to sleep with all of his father David’s concubines and disgrace him to see who is truly with him.

So what can we learn here?

Gods plan always prevails

Ahithophel was considered a wise man but God’s plan was for David to be king, not Absalom so any plan to thwart that would be a plan to try to thwart God and we all know how those plans turn out. God’s plan will always win out, as we see in this story.

Posted by: Robbie Byrd