Wednesday, May 31, 2017

May 31: 2 Samuel 17; Psalm 119:129-152; Proverbs 16:12-13; John 19:23-42



Overview

            2 Samuel: Ahithophel continues to advise Absalom. He says he will immediately attack David with 12,000 men while it is night and the people are weary. He will strike only the King and bring the people back in peace. Absalom and the elders thought it was good advice but Absalom also asked Hushai. Hushai said that David would be in hiding and that David and his men are like a bear robbed of her cubs. They will be enraged. He advises to wait until all Israel can be gathered together and fall upon David like dew on the ground overwhelming and killing anyone who shelters David. Absalom and the elders thought Hushai’s advice was better.
            Hushai passed on the information to Zadok and Abiathar. He told them to make sure David doesn’t stay at the fords but to go into the wilderness. They sent their sons, who had to hide before they could escape. They told David and they all crossed the Jordan.
            When Ahitophel saw his advice was not taken, he killed himself.
            Absalom put Amasa in charge of the army. They crossed the Jordan and camped in the land of Gilead while David was at Mahanaim. Several people who were loyal to David brought supplies to them at Mahanaim.
            Psalm: God’s word is wonderful, it imparts understanding, keeps our steps steady. Therefore, we long for it; it keeps us from iniquity. We need to have it taught to us because some do not keep it.
            God is righteous and it shows in his rules and his faithfulness. The Psalmist is zealous for God’s word especially when his foes forget it. Even if we are small, despised, and have troubles, we don’t forget God’s word but delight in it.
            The Psalmist cries to God with all he has, to be saved. He cries early in the morning and even at night. In his affliction, he keeps God’s word and meditates on it. Though his persecutors come close, they are far from God’s law and he is close to the Lord and has known God’s law for a long time.
            Proverbs: A righteous king established by God will find evil an abomination. He will delight in and love those who speak righteously.
            John: The soldiers who crucified Jesus divided his garments and cast lots for his tunic to fulfill prophecy. Jesus mother and other women were standing by the cross. John was with Mary and Jesus asked him to take care of her so he did.
            Jesus knew it was the end so he said he was thirsty. They gave him sour wine which fulfilled Scripture. He then said it was finished and gave up his spirit.
            The Jews asked Pilate to make sure those crucified would die before the Sabbath. He ordered to have their legs broken. When a soldier came to Jesus, he pierced his side to make sure he was already dead. Blood and water came out verifying his death. This too, fulfilled Scripture because no bones were broken and they looked on the one they pierced.
            Joseph of Arimathea was a secret disciple of Jesus. He asked Pilate for Jesus body then he and Nicodemus brought seventy-five pounds of spices and wrapped Jesus’ body in cloth with the spices. They placed his body in a nearby tomb because it was the day of Preparation.

What Stood Out

            2 Samuel: “For the Lord had ordained to defeat the good counsel of Ahithophel, so that the Lord might bring harm upon Absalom” (2 Sam 17:14).
            Psalm: “Trouble and anguish have found me out, but your commandments are my delight” (Ps 119:143).
            Proverbs: “It is an abomination to kings to do evil, for the throne is established by righteousness” (Prov 16:12).
            John: “Joseph of Arimathea, who was a disciple of Jesus, but secretly for fear of the Jews, asked Pilate that he might take away the body of Jesus” (John 19:38).

Insight

            2 Samuel: God’s sovereignty is seen in the way Abaslom didn’t pay attention to Ahitophel’s advice but listened to Hushai. If he had gone as Ahitophel had said, they would have found David and killed him. He would have been able to reach David even before the spies would have had a chance to warn him. Hushai was wise enough to enhance his advice with graphic descriptions that most likely helped Absalom make his decision.
            If Absalom had killed David, think of the consequences. He would have become king instead of Solomon. Solomon would probably be killed as well. The temple would probably not be built to the specifications given to David. The whole line of promises to David through Solomon would have failed and God proven to be a liar.
            Because God is sovereign, he can make promises for the future. He is the only one who is able to make all his promises come true. Even when things look their bleakest, we can trust God to fulfil his promises.
            Psalm: We all face some kinds of trouble and distress in our lives. What do we do when they come? Do we grit our teeth and try to grin and bear it or do we turn to God’s word for our strength and purpose in life? The Psalmist said God’s commands are his delight even during the bad times. This may sound a lot like a formula but, if we delight in God’s word, we can turn to it in any kind of depressing circumstances and find delight in the midst of it. That sounds a lot better than Prozac, alcohol, or drugs that deaden or mask our emotions. Doesn’t it make sense to find what really delights us, God’s word. If we memorize and meditate on God’s word, it will never be taken from us. We can immediately turn to it.
            Proverbs: When the Lord sets up a righteous king, president, or other ruler over a land, it will be evident in his hatred of evil. Evil comes in all sizes and shapes so we should be careful what we think a righteous ruler should look like. What they do and say in private is just as important and maybe more so than what they say in public. It is in private that their heart is revealed and if it is not righteous, then we can’t really trust them to rule righteously.
            John: So much happened at Jesus’ crucifixion that fulfilled Scripture, it is impossible to deny that Jesus was the Messiah. He didn’t have any control of most of these things. If he were a mere man, he couldn’t have in prearranged the soldiers gambling for his tunic, being given sour wine, or being pierced instead of having his legs broken. Once we recognize Jesus is the Messiah, we no long have an excuse for surrendering our lives to him.
            Joseph of Arimathea could no longer be a secret disciple. It was time to come out into the open and he did boldly. With all the animosity that the Jews had for Jesus, there was no way he could take Jesus’ body without everyone knowing who and when he did it. There comes a time in our lives when we should be just as bold as Joseph. If we let fear of other keep us from acknowledging Jesus as our Lord and Savior, our salvation is not secure because we are not yet saved. Jesus made it clear that a refusal to acknowledge him before men will result in Jesus denying us before the Father (Matt 10:32-33). It is only when we confess Jesus is Lord and are willing to be persecuted for our faith in him that we are saved.

Application

             Trusting in God’s sovereignty is one way of overcoming the fear of confessing Jesus as the Messiah. I need to step out more in declaring salvation through Jesus and him only. I also need to meditate and learn more of God’s word.

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

May 30: 2 Samuel 15:23 – 16; Psalm 119:113-128; Proverbs 16:10-11; John 18:25-19:22



Overview

            2 Samuel: As people flee, Abiathar, Zadok, and the Levites bring the Ark. David tells him to take it back. If the Lord will grant him favor, he will see it again. If the Lord has no pleasure in David, then he is willing to accept whatever happens. David also told Zadok to go back and be a spy. He is to send his and Abiathar’s sons as soon as they know what Absalom is planning.
            David finds out that his advisor and friend, Ahithophel, has sided with Absalom. David prays that God will confuse his advice. Hushai, another friend and advisor, comes to him ready to leave. David sends him back to counter Ahithophel’s counsel and inform Zadok.
            Mephibosheth’s servant, Ziba, meets David with supplies for the trip and donkeys. David asked where Mephibosheth was. Ziba said he remained in Jerusalem because he thought Israel will give him back his father’s kingdom. David gave all of Mephibosheth’s possessions to Ziba.
            Shimei, a relative of Saul, cursed and threw rocks at David. Abishai wanted to decapitate him but David said the Lord told Shimei to curse him and the Lord will repay him.
            Absalom and the men of Israel came to Jerusalem. Hushai met him saying, “Long live the king!” He explained to Absalom that the Lord and Israel has chosen him so he will serve him the same as he did his father.”
            Absalom asked Ahithophel for his counsel. Ahithophel advised him to lay with David’s concubines on the roof top and the people will know he is odious to David. That will strengthen his position. So, Absalom did so because Ahithophel’s counsel was held in high regard, like an oracle of God, by David and Absalom.
            Psalm: The Psalmist continues to provide reasons for his delight in God’s law. He hates the double minded and doesn’t want evildoers around to distract him. He asks God to uphold him. God doesn’t have anything to do with those who ignore his statutes.
            He has done right so he wants to be saved and not oppressed by insolent people. He wants God to act against those who have broken his law. He loves God’s commandments more than gold.
            Proverbs: When God’s word is spoken by a king, he will not make and error in judgment. When the Lord judges, it is like a perfectly calibrated scale because it is his work.
            John: Peter is twice more accused of being with Jesus, he denies it both times, and then a rooster crows.
            They then take Jesus to the governor. They won’t go inside because it would defile them and they wouldn’t be able to eat the Passover. He asks them what Jesus has done and they only say it is serious. Pilate tells them to judge Jesus by their own laws, but they explain they don’t have the right to kill him.
            Pilate asks Jesus if he is the king of the Jews. Jesus ask him if he is asking for himself or if it is only because he heard it from others. Jesus then explains that if his kingdom were earthly his servants would be fighting for him. But his kingdom is not of this world. He came to bear witness to the truth. Whoever is of the truth listens to Jesus. Pilate scoffs and ask, “What is truth?” Pilate tells the Jews that he finds no guilt in Jesus and will release him as part of the Passover tradition. They demand Barabbas instead.
            Pilate had Jesus flogged. The soldiers put a purple robe on him, made a crown of thorns for him, mocked, and beat him. Pilate brought him out like that and told the Jews he found no guilt in him. The chief priests and officers yelled out to crucify him. Pilate asked why and they said that Jesus made himself out to be the Son of God. That scared Pilate so he asked Jesus where he came from. Jesus didn’t answer and Pilate reminded him that he had authority to free him or crucify him. Jesus told him that authority was given to him from above, so those who delivered him had the greater sin.
            Pilate tried to release him again but the Jews threatened Pilate by saying he wasn’t a friend of Caesar because Jesus claimed to be a king. He asked if he should crucify their king and the said they had no king but Caesar.
            They took Jesus to Golgotha and crucified him. Pilate wrote, “Jesus of Nazareth, the King of the Jews” and put it on the cross. The Jews wanted Pilate to change it to say, “This man said he is King of the Jews.” Pilate refused.

What Stood Out

            2 Samuel: “If I find favor in the eyes of the Lord, he will bring me back and let me see both it and his dwelling place” (2 Sam 15:25).
            Psalm: “It is time for the Lord to act, for your law has been broken” (Ps 119:126).
            Proverbs: “A just balance and scales are the Lord's; all the weights in the bag are his work” (Prov 16:11).
            John: “The chief priests answered, ‘We have no king but Caesar’” (John 19:15).

Insight

            2 Samuel: At this crucial time in David’s life, he shows remarkable trust in God’s sovereignty. He tells Abiathar that the Lord will bring him back if that is God’s plan. However, even in trusting God’s plans, he doesn’t lay back and do nothing. He plans for Abiathar and Zadok’s sons to be spies and couriers for him by sending Abiathar and Zadok back to Jerusalem. He competes the plan by sending Hushai back to confound Ahithophel's counsel and also be a spy. He shows remarkable grace to Shimei by not letting Abishai kill him. His reasoning is also a demonstration of his trust in the Lord.
            This kind of trust in the Lord isn’t something that a person gets magically. It is based on seeing God work in our own lives and in the lives of those in the Bible. We will never face the trials David did while on the run from Saul and in his battles with enemies. We will not likely see God’s provision during these kinds of trials, but we can learn from David’s. We can also learn from David that trust in God is not always passive. His trust was also active as he established his spy network. It also was exhibited in his trusting the Lord to take vengeance instead of immediately reacting and killing Shimei. In the midst of our trials we need to remember to act mercifully as well as wisely.
            Psalm: Psalm 119:126 is a prayer that many of us pray every day. We see God’s Law flaunted and ridiculed more and more as time goes on. We cry out to the Lord to come back and bring justice, holiness, and righteousness to the earth. We want to see an end to the sin that seems to be growing. So, we cry out to Jesus to come back, not because we don’t want the wicked in the world to be destroyed so much as to see God’s holiness on the earth. However, we do know it will mean the punishment of many people when he comes. We are torn between wanting to see them saved and God’s kingdom come. We can only trust the Lord to do what is right in his timing.
            Proverbs: I always thought Proverbs 16:11 was all about being fair in our business dealing. Then I had this thought that it was allegorical after reading about David’s trust that the Lord would do what is good. He is the only one that is completely just and fair. We always have some ulterior motives or preconceptions when we try to make a judgment. We never know all the facts or the motives of a person’s heart. God know it all and he also knows how history must conclude. We can trust him completely.
            John: Throughout Jesus’ trial and brutalization, we shudder at what they did to Jesus. However, we know that all this was predicted long before by Isaiah (Is 52:14, 53:3-7). This reveals the depth of our sinful nature, but the cause of that sinfulness is revealed by the chief priest and officers when they shout that they have no king but Caesar. This is the root of our sin, not yielding to God as our King. The sin goes back as far as Israel demanding a king instead of judges that God had used. It goes back even to Mount Sinai when they made a golden calf and proclaimed it was their god. For the rest of us, it goes back to Garden of Eden when Adam and Eve rejected God’s authority over them by eating of the forbidden fruit.
            We like to think that we are better than the Jews who wanted Jesus crucified, but the truth is (and Jesus came to bear witness to the truth) that we are all sinners and as such have rejected God as our King. It is only after salvation that we can even start to submit to his authority and we have a hard time doing that. We need to acknowledge that each time we sin to get what we want, we are declaring ourselves to be our king.

Application

             I need to make sure my trust in Jesus is not a passive trust that expects him to take care of everything. I still need to be active in my trust. That includes asking him for his direction and yielding my plans to him. It means carrying out those plans as well. I need to make sure he is my King.

May 29: 2 Samuel 14-15:22; Psalm 119:97-112; Proverbs 16:8-9; John 18:1-24



Overview

            2 Samuel: Three years after Absalom flees, Joab has a woman from Tekoa present a request to king David to pardon her son who killed his brother. When David grants it, she then accuses David of hypocrisy for not bringing back Absalom and pardoning him. David realizes Joab set him up and tells Joab to bring Absalom back to Jerusalem but he won’t see Absalom.
            After another two years, Absalom can’t even get Joab’s attention so he sets Absalom’s field on fire. When Joab asks about that, Absalom tells him he might as well have stayed in Geshur where he fled. So, Joab arranges for Absalom and David to meet and there appears to be reconciliation.
            However, Absalom made a show of himself with horse and chariot and fifty men to run before him. Absalom also gains the trust of Israel by telling everyone that comes to David with requests, that if he were a judge in the land he would give them justice. After four years, he asks David to go to Hebron and fulfill a vow. Absalom secretly sends messengers throughout Israel telling them he is going to be anointed king at Hebron.
            When David hears about it, he flees Jerusalem rather than fight there and endanger all the people. He leaves ten concubines behind to take care of the palace. Many people flee with him including Ittai the Gittite and his men even though they are foreigners.
            Psalm: The Psalmist extols the word of God to make him wise, understanding, and keeping from him evil. Again, he relies on God’s word when he is afflicted and evil people try to trap him. Since God’s word is his heritage, he has sworn to uphold it.
            Proverbs: Getting rich by evil devices is never as good as being poor and righteous. We can plan whatever we want, but God is the one who makes it happen.
            John: Jesus and the Apostles go to the garden across the Kidron Valley. Judas brings troops and some of the chief priests and Pharisees’ officers. When Jesus asks them who they want they ask for Jesus of Nazareth. When Jesus says, “I am he,” they all fall down. He asks again and they reply the same. He says again, “I am he,” but he also tells them to let the others go. Peter uses a sword to cut off Malchus’ right ear, the high priest’s servant. Jesus tells him to put the sword away.
            The soldiers take Jesus to Annas the father-in-law of the high priest, Caiaphas. Peter stood outside but John was known to the high priest and was able to get in and came back to let Peter in. The servant girl at the door said Peter was one of Jesus’ disciples but he denied it. He then warmed himself by the soldier’s fire.
            The high priest questioned Jesus about his teachings. He answered by telling him he had taught openly and he should ask the people what he taught. One of the officers struck Jesus asking if that was the way to answer. Jesus replied said if what he said was wrong then why hit him? Then Annas sent Jesus to Caiaphas the high priest.

What Stood Out

            2 Samuel: “Now Joab the son of Zeruiah knew that the king's heart went out to Absalom” (2 Sam 14:1).
            Psalm: “I hold my life in my hand continually, but I do not forget your law” (Ps 119:109).
            Proverbs: “The heart of man plans his way, but the Lord establishes his steps” (Prov 16:9).
            John: “Peter also was with them, standing and warming himself” (John 18:18).

Insight

            2 Samuel: The consequences of David’s sin with Bathsheba are coming full force in the way he deals with Absalom. David turns a blind eye to what Absalom is doing to gain the trust of Israel. God’s prophecy of a sword not passing from his house is continuing to be fulfilled but this time, David is the one on the receiving end.
            In many ways, we are like David. We don’t want to believe bad reports about our kids. We believe them when they say they have or have not been doing different things. Without a close relationship with them, we end up being blindsided when they get into trouble. We then do everything we can to keep them from facing the consequences of their sins. We bail them out of jail, we cover up for their addition, we simply don’t want to see them face the hurt of their consequences. Unfortunately, that kind of help his not help but enabling.
            Psalm: Everything we need for life and godliness is found in God’s word. We don’t need to look to other places. Even though we make daily decisions that affect our lives, we should be doing that in accordance with God’s word. When we do that, we can make good decisions whether we are afflicted, ensnared by evil people all around us, or everything seems to be going well.
            Proverbs: Keeping on with the truth of Psalm 119, we can make plans every day. We can decide what we are going to do but those things will not happen unless the Lord makes it happen. When we make our plans in accordance with God’s word, then we can know that whatever happens, we will be doing God’s will. If our plans are interrupted by even seemingly insignificant things, that is God directing our steps.
            John: We all want to seek our own comfort, even when we should be doing something else. When Peter mingled with the soldiers to warm himself, it is a picture of what we do every day when we mix with the world and do the same things as the world. It is more comfortable to do that than it is to stand up against injustice and sinful behavior. When someone starts a conversation at the office, neighbor, or relative and the subjects of homosexuality, racism, or other things come up, do we present a biblical view or do we hide who we are and what the Bible has to say? Peter was acting pre-Holy-Spirit-indwelling so we can’t really blame him. But we have the Holy Spirit in us and we don’t have an excuse.
            Peter saw a crowd of soldiers and officials fall back when Jesus said, “I am.” Jesus’ awesome power was demonstrated in that moment. Jesus was not arrested by the power of human agencies. Jesus willingly gave himself. When we are afraid of countering the world system, we need to remember who Jesus is and that he is living in us. We don’t need to be afraid to stand up for Jesus.

Application

             I need to trust the Lord with my plans. Small interruptions or large are divine appointments and should not be a source of grumbling or complaining. I need to have more faith in Jesus when it comes to opposing the world’s standards or lack of them.