Friday, May 26, 2017

May 26: 2 Samuel 9 – 11; Psalm 119:49-64; Proverbs 16:1-3; John 15



Overview

            2 Samuel: David wanted to show kindness to some of Saul’s descendants so he called Ziba who was a servant of Saul’s house. Ziba told David that Mephibosheth, Jonathan’s son, was alive and crippled in both feet. David sent for Mephibosheth and restored all of Saul’s property to him and also had him eat at David’s table. He commanded Ziba and all his servants to farm Mephibosheth’s land.
            The king of the Ammonites died and David sent comforters to his son, Hanun because the king had been loyal to David. The Ammonite princes convinced Hanun that the comforters were really spies so they shaved half of their beards and cut off their clothes at the hip. The Ammonites realized this was a great offence to David so they hired 33,000 men to fight David. David sent Joab and Abishai to fight them. Israel was caught between Ammonites and the hired troops. Joab and Abishai fought for the people, the cities of God and trusted the Lord to do what he thought was good. Joab and Abishai won the battle.
            The Syrians regrouped and brought back reinforcements. When David heard about it, he went to battle and won a great victory. The Syrians then made peace with Israel and became subject to Israel. They were afraid to help the Ammonites again.
            David stayed in Jerusalem and sent Joab out to battle the Ammonites in the spring. From his roof, David saw Bathsheba bathing. She was beautiful, so he inquired about her and found out she was Uriah’s wife. David sent for her and she got her pregnant. David had Joab send Uriah from the battles in the hopes he would lay with his wife and think that the baby was his. However, Uriah slept at the door of the king’s house with the servants. David got him drunk but Uriah still didn’t go home. David sent him back to Joab with a letter telling Joab to make sure Uriah died in battle.
            Joab did as asked and sent a messenger to David telling him Uriah was dead. Bathsheba mourned her husband. After the time of mourning, David took her as his wife.
            Psalm: The Psalmist gets hope and comfort from God’s word so he doesn’t turn away even when insulted. It makes him angry when he sees wicked people ignore God’s laws. But he keeps them and has blessings.
            He claims God for his very own and promises to keep the Lord’s words. He then asks the Lord to be gracious to him as he considers his ways and doesn’t delay in obedience. Even when the wicked surround him, he praises the Lord in the night. He hangs out with others who fear the Lord. The earth is full of God’s love but he still needs the Lord to teach him.
            Proverbs: We can plan all we want but the Lord is the one that provides the answers. We may think our ways are pure but the Lord knows our real motives. So, commit all you do to the Lord and it will work out.
            John: Jesus speaks to his disciples. He identifies himself as the vine and his Father as the vinedresser. His disciples are the branches and must remain in him to bear fruit. The Father prunes the branches that bear fruit but cuts off the ones that don’t bear fruit and tosses them in the fire. The disciples can’t do anything unless they abide in Jesus. If they abide in him they can ask for anything and it will be done for them. Bearing fruit glorifies the Father. They abide in Jesus’ love by obeying his commandments. He tells them this so his joy will be in them.
            His command is to love each other in the same way he loved them. There is no greater love than laying down one’s life for his friends. The disciples are his friends if they do what he commands. He calls them friends and tells them his Father’s business. They didn’t choose Jesus, he chose them to bear fruit. Whatever they ask the Father in Jesus’ name he will do.
            If the world hates them it is because it hates Jesus. The world loves its own but the disciples are not of the world. They were chosen out of the world. The world persecuted Jesus so it will persecute the disciples because it dosen’t know the one who sent Jesus. The world is guilty of sin because Jesus made it evident to the world and those in the world don’t have any excuse. Whoever hates Jesus also hates the Father.
            Jesus will send the Helper from the Father and he will bear witness about Jesus. The disciples will also bear witness because they were with Jesus from the beginning.

What Stood Out

            2 Samuel: “Be of good courage, and let us be courageous for our people, and for the cities of our God, and may the Lord do what seems good to him” (2 Sam 10:12).
            Psalm: “Hot indignation seizes me because of the wicked, who forsake your law” (Ps 119:53).
            Proverbs: “All the ways of a man are pure in his own eyes, but the Lord weighs the spirit” (Prov 16:2).
            John: “Every branch of mine that does not bear fruit he takes away, and every branch that does bear fruit he prunes, that it may bear more fruit” (John 15:2).

Insight

            2 Samuel: Joab is quite a scoundrel in the Bible. He murders Abner and makes sure that Uriah dies in battle as David asked. However, in the heat of a battle, caught between two forces, he trusts the Lord to do what is good in his sight (2 Sam 10:12). It is a strange mix of sinful behavior and trust in God. In some ways, we are all like him. We believe in Jesus and have declared him to be our Lord and Savior. However, we often fall into sin that is just as bad as Joab and David with Bathsheba. We hate someone and that is the same as murder according to Jesus. We commit adultery in our hearts if not physically. We lie to get what we want or to cover up the other sins. And yet, we trust the Lord to work it all out for good, or so we say.
            David’s and Joab’s sins are not put in the Bible to help us justify our own sins. They are there to show us the depth of our own sinfulness. We judge them and say we would not have done that, but that simply means we know better and have no excuse when we do the same things or any sin for that matter. These events should help us throw ourselves on God’s mercy, repent of our sins, and be cleansed from our unrighteousness (1 John 1:9).
            Psalm: After thinking about Joab and David, Psalm 119:53 is striking. When I get really angry about people and their horrid sins, what am I saying about myself? While justice should be served, do I get even 1/1000 as angry about my own sin? No, because I tend to overlook them. I think they are not as bad and somehow more forgivable or excusable. There may be a time when I should be angry about other people’s sins, but I should be praying for their repentance and salvation rather than wanting justice. After all, I haven’t gotten what I deserve for my sins.
            Proverbs: We can plan our whole lives or just the next few minutes. We may believe we are really following the Lord in those plans and we should. However, we still have sin lurking in us and our motives aren’t always pure. It helps us to remember that the Lord know what’s in our spirits. We can always ask him to examine our hearts and reveal to us whether our motives are pure or not.
            John: There’s some pretty scary things that Jesus said in this chapter. We usually skip over those verses to get to the promises of answered prayer or having Jesus’ joy within us. But we shouldn’t skip the warnings. The first warning is about what happens to us when we don’t abide in Jesus; we will not bear fruit if we don’t abide in him. Jesus warns us that if we don’t bear fruit, the Father will cut us off (John 15:2) and throw us in the fire (John 15:6). The scary part is that this raises the question of whether or not a person can lose his salvation. In verse 2, Jesus identifies the branch as being his (ESB, NLT) or in him (NIV, NAS, NKJV). When the branch doesn’t bear fruit, it is cut off, dries up, and is thrown into the fire.
            This brings up a dilemma because Jesus had previously said believers have eternal life and will not be judged (John 5:24). He said he gives them eternal life and they will never perish (John 10:28). The best way I can resolve this is to remember that Jesus is not necessarily talking to us but to his disciples. Who was with Jesus, considered one of his, and didn’t bear fruit? It was Judas. If this applies only to the Apostles, then it makes sense. If it applies to all believers then Jesus contradicted himself or it had to have another meaning than losing eternal life and perishing.
            Other scary things include pruning. We don’t like the idea of the implication of trials that pruning brings. The other is the promise of being hated by the world. We don’t always see the pruning or hatred in everyone’s life. So, this could also only be a promise to the Apostles even though we see it generally for all Christians.
            I’ll leave these questions for you to ponder. If this passage is Jesus preparing the Apostles for his departure, are the promises only for them or are they for us as well? If for us, then can we lose our salvation if we stop abiding in Jesus as evidenced by not bearing fruit? Is the promise to ask for anything in Jesus’ name (John 15:16) for them only and not for us? Would that explain why we don’t always get the answers to prayer we expect?

Application

            I need to be more merciful to others who are caught in sin. I’m usually too judgmental. I need forgiveness for this as well as all the sins I continue to commit. I need God’s mercy every day.

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