December 2, 2019

Today you should read: 2 Samuel 22

Today’s reading is SO encouraging!  After God commanded Samuel to anoint the boy David as king, Saul began trying to kill him.  David faced a long, lonely time running from the king. This is David’s song to the Lord that he sang the day God rescued him from Saul.  I hope you will find encouragement in it.

David recognized God as:

Protector (v.2-3a) our fortress, Savior, rock – the place where we find protection

Refuge (v.3b) – our shield, place of safety, the One who protects us

Worthy of Praise (v.4) – He is the ONLY One worthy of our praise

Attentive to our cries (v.5-7) – even when we’re overwhelmed by everything around us – we cry out to Him and He hears us

Great and Majestic (v.8-16) – smoke from His nostrils, flames from His mouth, flying on the wings of the wind

Rescuer (v.17-20) – He leads us to a place of safety

Restorer (v.21) – the One who knows our heart and restores us

Rewarder (v.22-28) – He rewards us according to His kindness and mercy

Light (v.29-30) – the Lord lights up my darkness

Trustworthy (v.31-32) – Promise maker and promise keeper

Director of my Ways (v.33-46) – makes me surefooted, directs my path, gave me the victory

Exalted (v.47-51) – The Lord lives! Praise His Name!

Let’s take a moment together today and praise God for these things!  He’s great and worthy of praise and He inhabits the praises of His people.  Find joy in His presence this morning as you start your day.

By: Tim Parsons  — Lead Pastor

November 30, 2019

Today you should read: 2 Samuel 21

2nd Samuel 21 steps out of the chronological retelling of David’s story and begins a sort of appendix that will end the book. You may have seen the Bible Project video on YouTube about 2nd Samuel, but their summary final chapters are worth digesting again (starting at about 4:08).

The first 14 verses of chapter 21 can only be described as awful. This seems to be an event that happened somewhat early in David’s kingship. 

Famine in the Old Testament often denotes divine judgement. This was the case for the three-year-long famine as well, Saul had done something terrible and judgment was upon the Land. Astonishingly, the Gibeonites seem to be minding their own when summoned by David. David’s past shows he was prone to some harsh reactions (1st Sam 25:13), and I don’t know if he was directed by the Lord, but it seems to me to be an overreach to promise a wounded people, “I will do for you whatever you say” (4b). No qualifiers, no nothing, just “whatever ya’ll want.” 

As you know, they ask for seven relatives of Saul, and David handed them over for execution. This seems a harsh and brutal thing—seven innocent people die because of their relative’s sin. Some scholars suggest that these seven probably had a hand in Saul’s evil actions against the Gibeonites. That may be true, but it’s speculation that softens the blow of the steep consequences of sin. All we can confidently say is sin is terrible and its consequences are terrible. 

While the first half of chapter 21 illustrates the destructiveness of sin, the second half illustrates the victory of the faithful. War against God’s Anointed was a losing battle. David and his men were an unstoppable force against the enemies of God’s People.

A couple interesting points, in verse 3 David asks the Gibeonites how he might “make atonement.” That word in Hebrew is “kippur,” which you may recognize because of Yom Kippur, The Day of Atonement. Once a year in the fall, a priest would go into the Holy of Holies and sprinkle blood on the covering of the Ark known as the Mercy Seat. This was to atone for sins. David was essentially asking, “What can we do to satisfy the sin committed against you?” 

Also, the author points out in verse 9 that, they were put to death in the first days of harvest at the beginning of barley harvest. The beginning of barley harvest in the spring was at the time of Passover. Passover celebrated Israel’s freedom from the oppression of slavery in Egypt. 

Two points based on these observations: 1. By atoning for the sins Saul committed against the Gibeonites, David led Israel out of the oppression of divine judgment. 2. This story points to Christ in an incredible way. The Gibeonites recognized that sin cannot be atoned through silver or gold—nor through the death of an individual. Atonement requires a complete blood sacrifice. Seven symbolizes completeness, and in this way points to the only sufficient sacrifice for sin. Hebrews 9 illustrates that the only kippur that satisfies is that which was made by Jesus. Additionally, the freedom from sin offered by Jesus is far greater than relief from a 3-year famine or even 400 years of slavery. This story, in a micro way, points back to Passover, but Passover points ahead to Jesus. Whereas many sons in Egypt died for the freedom of God’s people, only one Son’s death was sufficient for true freedom for all people who receive it by faith.  

By: Tyler Short — Connections Ministry Associate

November 29, 2019

Today you should read: 2 Samuel 20

In this story we see that little sin can have big consequences. It is a story where we see that “one act of rebellion lead to bondage for a nation.”

In this narrative we see a man named Sheba. We don’t know much about him but Scripture called him “worthless” (v. 1). We are not sure exactly why Scripture identifies him like this but we know this… He was not a great guy. He led an act of rebellion against David and the nation. This probably seemed right to him, though it was wrong.  This probably seemed big in the moment we see later that this was a small thing compared to the consequences it would bring. 

We see the same words from 2 Samuel 20:1 in 1 Kings 12:16. This occurred right before the Kingdom of Israel was divided into the Northern Kingdom of Israel and the Southern Kingdom of Judah. This, no doubt, was influenced by Sheba. The end result was exile, bondage, and captivity by their enemies. God’s people became slaves, because of their sin, and it all started with one act of rebellion (Sam Cirrincione). 

This is our story as well. Sin we live in often seems small but the consequences are big. We have no idea where our sin of today will lead us tomorrow. The journey always has a destination. God, through His word, is asking us to repent of sin (even small, seemingly insignificant [in our mind]) and return to Him… trusting that His way is better.

This is why Jesus came and lived, died, resurrected, and ascended. So that we would not live divided from Jesus but united with Him. It is all about Him. 

  1. What did God bring to the attention of your heart as you were reading?
  2. If you continued to live like you are today, where would you be in 20 years?
  3. How can you make Jesus the center of your life this week?

By: Nick Parsons — Pastoral Ministry Associate: College

November 28, 2019

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?

 

  • 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). 

 

 

  • 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

 

  • 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

 

  • 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

 

  • 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.

By: Tim Parsons — Lead Pastor