Thursday, June 1, 2017

June 1: 2 Samuel 18-19:10; Psalm 119:153-176; Proverbs 16:14-15; John 20



Overview

            2 Samuel: David mustered his army and set up three divisions. Joab, Abishai, and Ittai were over each division. David said he would go to battle with them, but they told him he was too important and worth ten thousand of them. David stayed behind after telling his commanders to deal gently with Absalom.
            The battle was fought in the forest of Ephraim. Israel was defeated and 20,000 men were killed. The forest killed more than the battle.
            Absalom rode under thick branches and he got stuck by his head while the mule continued. A young man saw him and reported it to Joab. He didn’t kill Absalom because of David’s command. Joab killed Absalom, threw him in a pit, and covered him with stones. He then stopped the battle.
            The news was taken back to David by runners. Ahimaaz, arrived first and said that the battle went well but refused to say anything about Absalom. The second runner told David Absalom was dead.
            David grieved over Absalom and caused the people to mourn. The army then snuck back into the city as if ashamed. Joab strongly rebuked David for his mourning because they risked their lives to preserve David’s kingdom. If he didn’t show his appreciation, then the army would melt away and it would be worse than Absalom taking over. So, David sat at the gate of the city and welcomed the people.
            The rest of Israel was contemplating what to do. They recognized David’s leadership and victory over the Philistines, but they had anointed Absalom as king who is dead. So why don’t they bring David back as king.
            Psalm: The Psalmist asks for redemption and salvation as he looks to God’s promises and laws. He knows God’s mercy but also sees his foes with their faithlessness while he is looking to God’s rules. Because he loves God’s word he asks for life.
            His persecutions come from princes without cause, but he explains how he rejoices in God’s word, abhors falsehood, praises God seven times a day, has peace, and hope because of God’s word. He keeps and loves it from his soul.
            He asks for his cry to be heard by the Lord as he praises God. He asks to understand God’s word and to be taught by it. He looks for God’s help and salvation as he seeks to live and praise God. He confesses his waywardness and looks for God’s help to find him as he doesn’t forget God’s commandments.
            Proverbs: A king can kill those who make him angry so it is wise to appease that anger quickly. When the king shows his favor, it is like life and a refreshing rain.
            John: Mary finds Jesus’ empty tomb on Sunday. She tells Peter and John who then run to the tomb. They find the grave clothes lying there and the face cloth neatly folded up and set aside. John believed though they didn’t understand the Scripture that said he must be raised from the dead.
            Mary stayed and wept then two angels appeared to her and asked why she was crying. She then saw Jesus but didn’t recognize him. He also asked why she was crying. When he called her by name, she recognized him. Jesus told her not to cling to him because he had not yet ascended to the Father. She was to tell the others that he was ascending to his and their Father and God.
            That evening, Jesus appeared to the disciples who were hiding behind locked doors and greeted them with peace. He showed them his hands, feet, and side. He said he was sending them like the Father had sent him. He also breathed on them and told them to receive the Holy Spirit and if they forgave anyone their sins they would be forgiven and if they withheld forgiveness it would be withheld.
            Thomas wasn’t with them and when he heard it he said he wouldn’t believe unless he was able to see and touch Jesus’ wounds. Eight days later, they were all behind locked doors and Jesus appeared to them again. He greeted them with peace and told Thomas to see and touch his wounds. Thomas announced that Jesus was his Lord and God. Jesus said those who have not seen and believed are blessed.
            Jesus performed more signs than John recorded. These were written so that we may believe Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God and have life in Jesus’ name.

What Stood Out

            2 Samuel: “The forest devoured more people that day than the sword.
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            Psalm: “I have gone astray like a lost sheep; seek your servant, for I do not forget your commandments” (Ps 119:176).
            Proverbs: “A king's wrath is a messenger of death, and a wise man will appease it” (Prov 16:14).
            John: “But these are written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name” (John 20:31).

Insight

            2 Samuel: God’s sovereignty is constantly evident in Absalom’s revolt. From all appearances, Absalom must have had significantly outnumbered David’s forces, yet the battle was decisive. More people died because of dangers in the forest than by actual battle. This could only be the Lord’s doing. Absalom getting stuck in a tree was not a fluke either. I can imagine an inexperienced rider getting caught, but not someone like Absalom. He was also stuck so firmly that he couldn’t fee himself before his dilemma was seen, reported to Joab and Joab arrived on the scene. God was in total control of the battle.
            On the other hand, David almost blew the sacrifice the people made for him. Certainly, grief is often paralyzing and painful. However, the grief David exhibited was extraordinarily selfish. He was not thinking of the people or even the nation. What would have happened had Joab not confronted him? Without his strong leadership, there would be civil war and all of God’s prophecies would fail. God’s sovereignty is again seen in Joab’s intervention.
            There are times when we would like to give up because of grief or other circumstances. It is at these times we need to look at things from God’s perspective. We need to see things as servants of other rather than serving ourselves. No one said it would be easy, but it is necessary to live godly lives.
            Psalm: Through 176 verses, the Psalmist has proclaimed how great God’s word is. It is reflected in rules, promises, statutes, commandments, precepts, testimonies, and law. He has asked for salvation from enemies yet expressed how afflictions were good for him. At some points, it seems that he almost brags about how much he loves God’s word and holds fast to it. However, in this last verse he confesses that he has gone astray. The only remedy for going astray is for God to seek him.
            Like, the Psalmist, we may have a love for God’s word and know his commandments, but we still go astray. I am thankful that he still seeks me and brings me back. It would be terrible to think that I could go astray and he would not seek me and want me back.
            Proverbs: In most of the western world, we are fortunate not to live under a king who has the right to kill anyone who displeases him. Unfortunately, there are still many in this world who live under governments that are ruthless and oppressive. That often is directed towards Christians as well as people of other faiths. In these cases, there is no way to appease them short of denying our faith. So we need to pray to the King of kings, our Lord Jesus for the safety and the effective witness of persecuted Christians around the world.
            John: All the miracle Jesus performed, including his resurrection have been recorded so that we would believe in him and have eternal life. Jesus’ greatest miracle is his resurrection. It wasn’t faked but there are some things that make us wonder. John didn’t mention the guards, earthquake, or the stone being rolled away. Why did he mention the linen cloths and the face cloth neatly folded and placed by itself? If we believe these things were written so we would believe, then these are evidences that Jesus was not carried off in the night by grave robbers or disciples who wanted to pretend there was a resurrection. The resurrection was purposeful.
            John wrote many years after the other three Gospels were written. It is possible he read these and wanted to include details that the other Gospels omitted. Because the salvation of generations of people depend on God’s word, these details are there to show the reality of Jesus’ resurrection. We are blessed because we have believed without seeing all these things.

Application

             It is tough to be a servant to others when we are hurting. That is what I need to do. I am too likely to take my rest or scale back.

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