Tag Archives: 2 Samuel

2 Samuel 24

It stopped where it started

I’m still confused a bit about what really happened with God getting angry at Israel and the whole he “caused David” to sin thing.

The LORD became angry with Israel again, so he provoked David to turn against Israel. He said, “Go, count Israel and Judah.” – 2 Samuel 24:1

There is an alternate reading that blames Satan.

Satan attempted to attack Israel by provoking David to count the Israelites. – 1 Chronicles 21:1

No matter whom was to blame, God was not pleased with David having chosen the sin of pride and not following God’s way of conducting a census.

Whenever you take a census of the people of Israel, each man who is counted must pay a ransom for himself to the LORD. Then there will be no plagues among the people as you count them. – Exodus 30:12

As a result God sent word that destruction would result.

When David got up in the morning, the LORD spoke his word to the prophet Gad, David’s seer. “Go and tell David, ‘This is what the LORD says: I’m offering you three choices. Choose the one you want me to do to you.’”

When Gad came to David, he told David this and asked, “Should seven years of famine come to you and your land, or three months during which you flee from your enemies as they pursue you, or should there be a three-day plague in your land? Think it over, and decide what answer I should give the one who sent me.”

“I’m in a desperate situation,” David told Gad. “Please let us fall into the LORD’s hands because he is very merciful. But don’t let me fall into human hands.” – 2 Samuel 24:11-14

In response, God sent the “three-day plague”. I wondered about this event, so I checked what Flavius Josephus wrote about it. Here is his description:

When the prophet had heard this, he declared it to God; who thereupon sent a pestilence and a mortality upon the Hebrews; nor did they die after one and the same manner, nor so that it was easy to know what the distemper was. Now the miserable disease was one indeed, but it carried them off by ten thousand causes and occasions, which those that were afflicted could not understand; for one died upon the neck of another, and the terrible malady seized them before they were aware, and brought them to their end suddenly, some giving up the ghost immediately with very great pains and bitter grief, and some were worn away by their distempers, and had nothing remaining to be buried, but as soon as ever they fell were entirely macerated; some were choked, and greatly lamented their case, as being also stricken with a sudden darkness; some there were who, as they were burying a relation, fell down dead, without finishing the rites of the funeral.

Now there perished of this disease, which began with the morning, and lasted till the hour of dinner, seventy thousand. Nay, the angel stretched out his hand over Jerusalem, as sending this terrible judgment upon it. But David had put on sackcloth, and lay upon the ground, entreating God, and begging that the distemper might now cease, and that he would be satisfied with those that had already perished. And when the king looked up into the air, and saw the angel carried along thereby into Jerusalem, with his sword drawn, he said to God, that he might justly be punished, who was their shepherd, but that the sheep ought to be preserved, as not having sinned at all; and he implored God that he would send his wrath upon him, and upon all his family, but spare the people.

When God heard his supplication, he caused the pestilence to cease, and sent Gad the prophet to him, and commanded him to go up immediately to the thrashing-floor of Araunah the Jebusite, and build an altar there to God, and offer sacrifices. – Antiquities of the Jews, Book 7 Chapter 13

Wow, what a nasty horrible way for the people to die!

Stay with me, here is where it gets good. The angel stopped his destruction of Israel at the threshing floor of Araunah the Jebusite. David quickly goes there and tells Araunah that he wants to purchase the entire property.

Araunah said to David, “Take it, Your Majesty, and offer whatever you think is right. There are oxen for the burnt offering, and there are threshers and oxen yokes for firewood.” All this Araunah gave to the king and said, “May the LORD your God accept you.”

“No!” the king said to Araunah. “I must buy it from you at a {fair} price. I won’t offer the LORD my God burnt sacrifices that cost me nothing.”

So David bought the threshing floor and the oxen for 1¼ pounds of silver. David built an altar for the LORD there and sacrificed burnt offerings and fellowship offerings. So the LORD heard the prayers for the country, and the plague on Israel stopped. – 2 Samuel 24:22-25

Thus ends the book of Second Samuel. However, that is not the end of the property that was formerly Araunah’s! This land was one where an angel of the Lord was stopped from his destruction of Israel. If he had been allowed to go on for the full three days it is likely that nobody would have survived. After all, just four angels are enough to eradicate one third of the population of our planet (Revelation 9:15). Suffice it to say, this ground is pretty special now. It was set-apart to sacrifice to the Lord. It was now hallowed ground.

Then David said, “This is where the LORD God’s temple will be. Israel’s altar for burnt offerings will also be here.” – 1 Chronicles 22:1

Israel was saved here. This is the place where the Temple would one day stand. At this spot, at the rebuilt temple, Jesus was judged and mankind was saved. But there was one more salvation at this location. One that Josephus wrote about when he described what David did.

And when he had built an altar, he performed Divine service, and brought a burnt-offering, and offered peace-offerings also. With these God was pacified, and became gracious to them again.

Now it happened that Abraham came and offered his son Isaac for a burnt-offering at that very place; and when the youth was ready to have his throat cut, a ram appeared on a sudden, standing by the altar, which Abraham sacrificed in the stead of his son, as we have before related.

Now when king David saw that God had heard his prayer, and had graciously accepted of his sacrifice, he resolved to call that entire place The Altar of all the People, and to build a temple to God there; which words he uttered very appositely to what was to be done afterward; for God sent the prophet to him, and told him that there should his son build him an altar, that son who was to take the kingdom after him. – Antiquities of the Jews Book 7 Chapter 13

The birth of the nation of Israel came about through Abraham’s trusting of God; on this very spot his trust was proven. It was a foreshadowing of what our redemption would look like – a lamb being sacrificed in Isaac’s stead. Centuries later on this very spot, the Lamb of God would be condemned to be sacrificed in all of our steads.

Father, thank you for the sacrifice of Abraham, David, and Jesus. May I honor you. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Special spot, ain’t it? Jan

2 Samuel 23

Rules Righteously

I read the following passage with some interest.

The God of Israel spoke.
The Rock of Israel said to me:
‘The person who rules righteously,
who rules in the fear of God,

he is like the light of the morning,
like the sunrise bursting forth in a cloudless sky,
like the refreshing rains that bring tender grass from the earth.’ – 2 Samuel 23:3-4

As I look at this I realize that this does not just apply to David and the kings of Israel, this applies to anyone in a position of power. So what does it mean to ‘rule righteously’?

The Hebrew word for righteously is “Tsaddiyq”, pronounced “Tsad-deek”. It means to be; just, lawful, correct, vindicated, righteous – in both conduct and character. It is derived from the root word “Tsdaq”, pronounced “Tsa-dawk”. This word means; to be just, to be righteous, to declare righteous, to be justified.

It reminded me of another scripture verse.

We are all infected and impure with sin. When we proudly display our righteous deeds, we find they are but filthy rags. Like autumn leaves, we wither and fall. And our sins, like the wind, sweep us away. – Isaiah 64:6

So if Isaiah said that we are all infected, how then can David speak of his righteousness?

It is because the same Isaiah also wrote the following.

“Come now, let us argue this out,” says the LORD. “No matter how deep the stain of your sins, I can remove it. I can make you as clean as freshly fallen snow. Even if you are stained as red as crimson, I can make you as white as wool.”  – Isaiah 1:18

This came true for me when Jesus’ blood cleansed my sins away.

God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God. – 2 Corinthians 5:21

Our old sinful selves were crucified with Christ so that sin might lose its power in our lives. We are no longer slaves to sin. For when we died with Christ we were set free from the power of sin. And since we died with Christ, we know we will also share his new life. – Romans 6:6-8

Just a few sentences later the writer of Romans also wrote the following.

Now you are free from sin, your old master, and you have become slaves to your new master, righteousness. – Romans 6:18

Since that new master is in charge of my life, and the fact that through Christ I am declared just, I am able to rule righteously. It is not my righteousness that makes it possible, it is his. And this brings great power.

We have faithfully preached the truth. God’s power has been working in us. We have righteousness as our weapon, both to attack and to defend ourselves.  – 2 Corinthians 6:7

As the scripture says, I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.

Father, thank you for declaring me righteous because of Christ. May I rule with the wisdom that you supply. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Rule Righteously. Jan

2 Samuel 22

Cringe Before Me

Pathetic earthlings. Hurling your bodies out into the void, without the slightest inkling of who or what is out here. If you had known anything about the true nature of the universe, anything at all, you would’ve hidden from it in terror. – Ming the Merciless, Flash Gordon Movie 1980

We recently adopted a puppy in our home. Tanner was a 3 month old bundle of energy when we got him from the local animal shelter. We quickly found out that he has a rather strong will and absolutely no knowledge of what is proper decorum for a member of our family with his status – a pet. Tanner would recklessly hurl his body into whomever and whatever lay ahead of him. He had no inkling about the true nature of his existence or his new universe. He had to learn.

Tanner responds very differently with me vs. other members of my family. He is surprisingly observant and is aware that I am given deference by all as head of my household. Having had some experience with dogs in the past, I quickly established myself as the “Alpha Dog”. If I “growl” at him or shout a stern “No!” at him, he immediately stops what he was doing, often rolling on his back to demonstrate submissiveness. Observing this behavior I was struck by the similarity of a verse I read today.

Foreigners cringe before me;
as soon as they hear of me, they submit.

They all lose their courage
and come trembling from their strongholds. – 2 Samuel 22:45-46

The true nature of Tanner’s universe, and ours is that someone else is in charge. And unless we learn to submit to the authority over us we are in trouble. But, when we do submit as we are designed to do, we are blessed both in the here-and-now and in the life to come.

Father, thank you for being a just and righteous ruler, one who is not arbitrary. Please give me the grace to have proper fear of you, to understand the true nature of the universe. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

If God is for me, who can be against me? Jan


2 Samuel 21

Nexus

nex⋅us [nek-suhs] – noun, plural nex⋅us⋅es, nex⋅us.
1. a means of connection; tie; link.
2. a connected series or group.
3. the core or center, as of a matter or situation.
4. Cell Biology. a specialized area of the cell membrane involved in intercellular communication and adhesion.

In reading second Samuel chapter twenty-one I came across a familiar name – Rizpah. I first saw her in second Samuel chapter three.

One day Ishbosheth, Saul’s son, accused Abner of sleeping with one of his father’s concubines, a woman named Rizpah. – 2 Samuel 3:7

Abner was a faithful righteous man. The accusation offended him so badly that he left Ishbosheth and pledged loyalty to David. It was this event that triggered David’s ascension to rule a unified Israel. Rizpah was at the center of it. She was the nexus.

Today I read that God was withholding rain from the land as punishment for Saul trying to eradicate the Gibeonites. David enquired of God as to what he should do. God instructed him to do whatever the Gibeonites required of him.

What they required was seven male descendants of Saul to pay for his crimes against the Gibeonites – a death sentence.

Two of the men were sons of Rizpah, the same Rizpah who was at the center of David’s receiving the full kingdom.

It is clear that she loved her sons.

Then Rizpah, the mother of two of the men, spread sackcloth on a rock and stayed there the entire harvest season. She prevented vultures from tearing at their bodies during the day and stopped wild animals from eating them at night. – 2 Samuel 21:10

What I found of particular interest was that the rain did not return, God did not stop his chastisement, until after David did the right thing for Rizpah and Saul’s family.

When David learned what Rizpah, Saul’s concubine, had done, he went to the people of Jabesh-gilead and asked for the bones of Saul and his son Jonathan. (When Saul and Jonathan had died in a battle with the Philistines, it was the people of Jabesh-gilead who had retrieved their bodies from the public square of the Philistine city of Beth-shan.) So David brought the bones of Saul and Jonathan, as well as the bones of the men the Gibeonites had executed. He buried them all in the tomb of Kish, Saul’s father, at the town of Zela in the land of Benjamin. After that, God ended the famine in the land of Israel. – 2 Samuel 11 – 14

Twice Rizpah was a nexus in David’s life. Once in establishing his rule, and the second time in ending a famine.

How many nexuses are in my life that I fail to notice? How about you? I suspect there are many more than we’ll ever guess.

Father, may I be mindful of those times when a choice presents itself, those that once taken shape the course of all that is to follow. Please give me eyes to see and wisdom to know the correct path. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

When at a crossroad, stop and pray. Jan

2 Samuel 20

Sons of Zeruiah

When I wrote about second Samuel chapter nineteen I noticed how the phrase “Sons of Zeruiah” seemed to be used by King David as an epithet. As I was reading a little while ago I noticed another example of why their moniker should be considered as something derogatory.

Absalom’s rebellion had been crushed. Due to Joab’s harsh treatment of David in regards to his grief over the death of Absalom (2 Samuel 19:5-7), David had appointed Amasa, Joab’s cousin, as head of the army instead of Joab (2 Samuel 19:13).

David then sent Amasa to mobilize the army to suppress a growing revolt led by a guy named Sheba. He gave him three days to do so and return to him. On the fourth day David got nervous and sent Joab, his brother Abishai, and some elite guards to hunt down Sheba and stop the rebellion before it got traction.

So Abishai and Joab set out after Sheba with an elite guard from Joab’s army and the king’s own bodyguard. As they arrived at the great stone in Gibeon, Amasa met them, coming from the opposite direction. Joab was wearing his uniform with a dagger strapped to his belt. As he stepped forward to greet Amasa, he secretly slipped the dagger from its sheath.

“How are you, my cousin?” Joab said and took him by the beard with his right hand as though to kiss him. Amasa didn’t notice the dagger in his left hand, and Joab stabbed him in the stomach with it so that his insides gushed out onto the ground.

Joab did not need to strike again, and Amasa soon died. Joab and his brother Abishai left him lying there and continued after Sheba. – 2 Samuel 20:7-10

Amasa was on his way back to King David with the troops, as ordered. Joab murdered his own cousin so that he would regain control of the army, and his brother Abishai did nothing to stop him.

Sons of Zeruiah indeed!

Several times King David expressed that these “sons of Zeruiah” were too powerful for him to deal with. However, that does not mean that they got away with their crimes. No, God’s justice may be slow (he gives us time to repent), but it is sure.

Many years later, after David’s rule came to an end, he set his son Solomon up as king in his stead. Solomon dealt with Joab’s treachery and meted out justice.

Benaiah went into the sacred tent of the LORD and said to Joab, “The king orders you to come out!” But Joab answered, “No, I will die here.” So Benaiah returned to the king and told him what Joab had said.

“Do as he said,” the king replied. “Kill him there beside the altar and bury him. This will remove the guilt of his senseless murders from me and from my father’s family. Then the LORD will repay him for the murders of two men who were more righteous and better than he. For my father was no party to the deaths of Abner son of Ner, commander of the army of Israel, and Amasa son of Jether, commander of the army of Judah. May Joab and his descendants be forever guilty of these murders, and may the LORD grant peace to David and his descendants and to his throne forever.

So Benaiah son of Jehoiada returned to the sacred tent and killed Joab, and Joab was buried at his home in the wilderness.” – 1 Kings 2:30-34

There is a definitely a difference in being a son of Zeruiah and being a son of David. The one exhibits grasping, jealous, self-serving behavior. The other exhibits wisdom in service to his subjects.

Father, may we too live our lives as sons of David. Thank you for adopting us into his royal lineage through the death and resurrection of your son Jesus. In his name, Amen.

Be a son of God. Jan

2 Samuel 19

Epithet

We have a rather colorful derogatory expression in modern English that compares a person’s maternal lineage to that of a female canine.

“You son of a bi…”

In reading the book of second Samuel I notice King David using a certain phrase quite a bit. 

And even though I am the anointed king, these two sons of Zeruiah – Joab and Abishai – are too strong for me to control. So may the LORD repay these wicked men for their wicked deeds.” – 2 Samuel 3:39

“No!” the king said. “What am I going to do with you sons of Zeruiah! If the LORD has told him to curse me, who am I to stop him?” – 2 Samuel 16:10

“What am I going to do with you sons of Zeruiah!” David exclaimed. “This is not a day for execution but for celebration! I am once again the king of Israel!” – 2 Samuel 19:22

It makes me wonder if David didn’t like his sister very much.

And Joab, the son of David’s sister Zeruiah, led the attack, so he became the commander of David’s armies. – 1 Chronicles 11:6

“Sons of Zeruiah” certainly sounds like an epithet to me. How about you?

Lord, may my name be one that is honored; not one that is used as a curse. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Make your name an epitome of righteousness. Jan

2 Samuel 18

The Trees Joined In

In the Lord of the Rings movie Trilogy there is scene at the end of the Battle at Helms Deep where the trees of the forest join in the battle and destroy the fleeing Orc army.

Similarly, Absalom’s forces faced off against David’s in a great forest. Something quite unusual happened during the ensuing battle.

Then the people went out into the field against Israel, and the battle took place in the forest of Ephraim. The people of Israel were defeated there before the servants of David, and the slaughter there that day was great, 20,000 men. For the battle there was spread over the whole countryside, and the forest devoured more people that day than the sword devoured. – 2 Samuel 18:6-8

The forest devoured more people that day than the sword devoured?

Sounds like something supernatural happened there that day. Perhaps is looked like the scene from The Lord of the Rings. Whatever it was, God saw to it that his will was acomplished and his man was restored to the throne.

Father, thank you for using whatever means is necessary to grant us victory. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Be nice to the trees… Jan

 

2 Samuel 17

Symmetry

I noticed an interesting symmetrical set of circumstances in the following passage of scripture.

Jonathan and Ahimaaz had been staying at En-rogel so as not to be seen entering and leaving the city. Arrangements had been made for a servant girl to bring them the message they were to take to King David.

But a boy saw them leaving En-rogel to go to David, and he told Absalom about it.

Meanwhile, they escaped to Bahurim, where a man hid them inside a well in his courtyard.

The man’s wife put a cloth over the top of the well with grain on it to dry in the sun; so no one suspected they were there. When Absalom’s men arrived, they asked her, “Have you seen Ahimaaz and Jonathan?” She replied, “They were here, but they crossed the brook.” Absalom’s men looked for them without success and returned to Jerusalem – 2 Samuel 17:17-20

I see four parts to this balance of self similarity. They are: The servant girl, the boy, a man in Bahurim, and a woman in Bahurim.

  • The servant girl is the messenger. She set things into motion. The woman in Bahurim ensured that motion continued.
  • The boy revealed a secret and nearly spoiled plans. A man in Bahurim hid the secret and put plans back on track.
  • The younger initiated something. The older ensured the correct outcome.

Does this mean anything? Is there some great spiritual application? Probably not. But, I found it interesting.

Good night, Jan


2 Samuel 16

Who am I…?

King David, on the run from his son Absalom, encounters a relative of the late King Saul named Shimei. This guy starts hurling insults and curses against David and his people.

As David and his party passed Bahurim, a man came out of the village cursing them. It was Shimei son of Gera, a member of Saul’s family. He threw stones at the king and the king’s officers and all the mighty warriors who surrounded them. “Get out of here, you murderer, you scoundrel!” he shouted at David. “The LORD is paying you back for murdering Saul and his family. You stole his throne, and now the LORD has given it to your son Absalom. At last you will taste some of your own medicine, you murderer!” – 2 Samuel 16:5-8

However, David does something very unusual in response. He keeps his men from harming Shimei and then says the following.

“No!” the king said. “What am I going to do with you sons of Zeruiah! If the LORD has told him to curse me, who am I to stop him?” Then David said to Abishai and the other officers, My own son is trying to kill me. Shouldn’t this relative of Saul have even more reason to do so? Leave him alone and let him curse, for the LORD has told him to do it. And perhaps the LORD will see that I am being wronged and will bless me because of these curses.” – 2 Samuel 16:10-12

Perhaps this is where Solomon first heard the following words of wisdom that he wrote down.

Do not rejoice when your enemies fall into trouble. Don’t be happy when they stumble.  For the LORD will be displeased with you and will turn his anger away from them. – Proverbs 24:17-18

Paul further expounded on that concept and raised the bar even further.

See that no one pays back evil for evil, but always try to do good to each other and to everyone else. – 1 Thesalonians 5:15

However, Jesus probably put it best.

“You have heard that the law of Moses says, ‘Love your neighbor’ and hate your enemy. But I say, love your enemies! Pray for those who persecute you!  In that way, you will be acting as true children of your Father in heaven. For he gives his sunlight to both the evil and the good, and he sends rain on the just and on the unjust, too. If you love only those who love you, what good is that? Even corrupt tax collectors do that much. If you are kind only to your friends, how are you different from anyone else? Even pagans do that. But you are to be perfect, even as your Father in heaven is perfect.” – Matthew 5:43-48

Eventually Shimei did pay for his crimes. But it was he himself that brought that calamity on his head. David did not do it. God judged him.

Father, please help me to remember that you are the judge. I need to leave things in your hands more often than not. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

I’m not God. Jan

2 Samuel 15

Revenge is a dish best served cold

Ahithophel was the royal adviser. Hushai the Arkite was the king’s friend. – 1 Chronicles 27:33

A few days ago I wrote a possible scenario regarding how Bathsheba came to live in Jerusalem. In that posting I wrote about her family lineage. In a list of King David’s “Thirty Mighty Men” Ahithophel, David’s royal adviser is mentioned.

Eliphelet son of Ahasbai from Maacah; Eliam son of Ahithophel from Giloh… – 2 Samuel 23:34

Ahithophel’s son, Eliam, one of the Mighty Men is Bathsheba’s father.

…She is Bathsheba, the daughter of Eliam… – 2 Samuel 11:3

That means that King David’s trusted royal adviser was the grandfather of Bathsheba. Ahithophel was the king’s adviser, a member of the royal court, during the David’s episode in sin with Bathsheba. He knew what had happened.

The fact that Ahithophel had no qualms about supporting a coup against King David is proof that he had an axe to grind.

While he (Absalom) was offering the sacrifices, he sent for Ahithophel, one of David’s counselors who lived in Giloh. Soon many others also joined Absalom, and the conspiracy gained momentum. – 2 Samuel 15:12

As further proof of his motive, look at his advice to David’s son Absalom upon reaching Jerusalem.

Ahithophel told him, “Go and sleep with your father’s concubines, for he has left them here to keep the house. Then all Israel will know that you have insulted him beyond hope of reconciliation, and they will give you their support.” So they set up a tent on the palace roof where everyone could see it, and Absalom went into the tent to sleep with his father’s concubines. – 2 Samuel 16:21-22

Ahithophel had Absalom commit a crime against David that was nearly identical to the one David committed against his own son-in-law Uriah.

Ahithophel bided his time. He waited until the matter that had happened between David, Bathsheba, and Uriah was cold for several years. Then when he felt the time was right, when the object of his hate did not expect it, he exacted his revenge.

But there is more. A chapter later Ahithophel has more advice for Absalom.

Now Ahithophel urged Absalom, “Let me choose twelve thousand men to start out after David tonight. I will catch up to him while he is weary and discouraged. He and his troops will panic, and everyone will run away. Then I will kill only the king, and I will bring all the people back to you as a bride returns to her husband. After all, it is only this man’s life that you seek. Then all the people will remain unharmed and peaceful.” – 2 Samuel 17:1-3

What I found particularly interesting was that Ahitophel wanted to be the one to do it. The “I” portions jump off the page. The proverbial “smoking gun” is the statement about, “as a bride returns to her husband”. This is a clear allusion to Bathsheba having been taken from Uriah. Ahitophel had been plotting this revenge against David for quite some time.

However, God is the judge. Not man.

I will take vengeance; I will repay those who deserve it. In due time their feet will slip. Their day of disaster will arrive, and their destiny will overtake them.’ – Deuteronomy 32:35

The Apostle Paul put it as follows.

Dear friends, never avenge yourselves. Leave that to God. For it is written, “I will take vengeance; I will repay those who deserve it,” says the Lord. – Romans 12:19

Ahitophel’s revenge was fulfilled, but it cost him his position and his life in very short order.

Heavenly Father, may I leave room for your justice and mercy. If you forgive, may I not place myself above you and hold onto an offense. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Don’t serve leftovers. Jan

2 Samuel 14

Run out like water

In July of 2007, in a rare loquacious moment, I had the opportunity to sit with my dad at his kitchen table. Fortunately on this occasion I had the presence of mind to pull out my trusty Garmin iQue3600 handheld and recorded nearly the entire thing. I recorded about 58 minutes worth of what is one of the few, if not only recordings of his voice. I now have, in his own words, some wonderful stories about his past.

Today I read about an old woman who came to King David and told him a story about her sons. But what jumped off the page to me was the following verse.

All of us must die eventually. Our lives are like water spilled out on the ground, which cannot be gathered up again. That is why God tries to bring us back when we have been separated from him. He does not sweep away the lives of those he cares about—and neither should you! – 2 Samuel 14:14

My father at one point in the conversation was talking about all of the things he’s seen, places he’s been. And then he said;

“80 years, that is a lot to live through. And many many different changes. But what can you do… it has run out like water.” – Viktor Broucinek

“Our lives are like water spilled on the ground…” – Woman from Takoa

Life is truly short. But God is good. We are all separated from him, that is why he sent his only son to pay our ransom so that our separation from him could end. His greatest desire is for fellowship with us. He wants to sit at the table with us and welcome us into his home.

Father, please give me the strength, wisdom, desire, grace, whatever is necessary, to bring others to you. Help me to show them The Way, The One who bridged the separation, before their lives run out like water. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Like water held in a fist, our lives will eventually run out.

Jan

My father’s memorial video

For more information about my dad visit http://www.tinybeetle.us/dad

2 Samuel 13

Unfavorable Light

There are many narratives in the Bible which prove by their very nature that it is a reliable account of ancient history. The story of Amnon and Tamar is one such tragic example. It invovled several persons taking matters into their own hands. And it ended badly for all parties involved.

The quick summary is; Amnon was hot for his half-sister Tamar. He tricked her, raped her, and then threw her out. Absalom, Tamar’s full-brother, learned about it and eventually murdered Amnon in revenge.

And David mourned many days for his son Amnon. Absalom fled to his grandfather, Talmai son of Ammihud, the king of Geshur. – 2 Samuel 13:37

If you were writing history about yourself and your family, would you include such an account in your journal? Perhaps you would, and perhaps you wouldn’t. But then, when some of your descendants are compiling a history of all that has gone before them, would they include this particular tale? I suspect not.

It is part of our nature to downplay the bad and to focus on the good. As someone once said, the writers of the Bible had no issue including “warts and all”. This is incontrovertible evidence that the authors of the Bible were much more concerned with accuracy than they were with being politically correct. They were willing to cast even heroes of the faith in an unfavorable light.

Father, thank you for not leaving things out of your word. You gave us examples of good to follow, and bad to avoid. May we learn from the lessons that others went through so that we don’t have to. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

The Bible is fully trustworthy. Jan

2 Samuel 12

Who caused the sin?

I have grown up in and around the church, so I have a pretty good grasp of theology and the nances of God and his character. But there are times that my paradigm is challenged. I have always understood that God does not do evil, that he only does that which is good.

No one, when tempted, should say, “I am being tempted by God”; for God cannot be tempted by evil and he himself tempts no one. – James 1:13

The verse seems pretty clear. God is not tempted by evil, and conversely he does not tempt anyone with evil. So how do a verses like the following fit in with that belief?

‘From this time on, the sword will be a constant threat to your family, because you have despised me by taking Uriah’s wife to be your own.

Because of what you have done, I, the LORD, will cause your own household to rebel against you. I will give your wives to another man, and he will go to bed with them in public view. You did it secretly, but I will do this to you openly in the sight of all Israel.’ – 2 Samuel 12:10-12

Do you see who is going to cause this to come on David’s household? It is God! And, a son sleeping with his father’s wife is something God explicitly commanded against, something he calls evil worthy of death.

If a man has intercourse with his father’s wife, both the man and the woman must die, for they are guilty of a capital offense. – Leviticus 20:11

‘Cursed is anyone who has sexual intercourse with his father’s wife, for he has violated his father.’ And all the people will reply, ‘Amen.’ – Deuteronomy 27:20

 
It would definitely seem to me that God is the one causing this, it is inescapable.
Shall a trumpet be blown in the city, and the people not be afraid? shall there be evil in a city, and the LORD hath not done it? – Amos 3:6
Notice again who did the evil…
God sent an angel to Jerusalem to destroy it, and as he was destroying, the Lord beheld, and He regretted and relented of the evil and said to the destroying angel, It is enough; now stay your hand. And the angel of the Lord stood by the threshing floor of Ornan the Jebusite. – 1 Chronicles 21:15
I am not in any way implying that God is evil. But it seems clear that God does use it for his own purposes and certainly can direct and cause it to come upon those he is punishing.
 
To be fair, I do need to point out that many of the instances of the word ‘evil’ are alternatively translated as ‘disaster’ or ‘calamity’. But the incident below is crystal clear. 
But an evil spirit from the LORD came upon Saul as he was sitting in his house with his spear in his hand. While David was playing the harp… – 1 Samuel 19:9 
There is no mistaking that the Lord sent the evil spirit.
 
I don’t pretend to know what all this means. But, I do know this; I don’t want to anger God. I don’t want his judgment. I much rather prefer his mercy. Thank God for his son Jesus. 

Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit of life set me free from the law of sin and death. For what the law was powerless to do in that it was weakened by the sinful nature, God did by sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful man to be a sin offering. And so he condemned sin in sinful man, in order that the righteous requirements of the law might be fully met in us, who do not live according to the sinful nature but according to the Spirit. – Romans 8:1-4

It isn’t that I never sin. However, that is no longer my nature. Christ living in me cleanses me from all unrighteousness.

Father, thank you for Jesus. Without him I would deserve all the evil that exists. May I bring honor to your name. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Don’t cause evil. Jan

2 Samuel 11

Bathsheba

Most everyone knows the story of David and Bathsheba.

He was home instead of with his troops where he was supposed to be. He saw a beautiful woman, lusted after her, and since he was the king he abused his authority and took what wasn’t his. Then he had her husband Uriah murdered. But who was this woman? Is there a back-story?

I noticed something about her that I’d not seen before. She was the daughter of Eliam.

He sent someone to find out who she was, and he was told, “She is Bathsheba, the daughter of Eliam and the wife of Uriah the Hittite.” – 2 Samuel 11:3

Eliam, as I found out, is another name for Ammiel.

The sons born to David in Jerusalem included Shimea, Shobab, Nathan, and Solomon. Bathsheba, the daughter of Ammiel, was the mother of these sons. – 1 Chronicles 3:5

If you look further you find that both Eliam and Uriah were among David’s thirty “mighty men”. (2 Samuel 23:24-39)

Bathsheba had at least one brother, his name was Makir.

“Where is he?” the king asked. “In Lo-debar,” Ziba told him, “at the home of Makir son of Ammiel.” – 2 Samuel 9:4

Her grandfather, Ahithophel, was David’s chief counselor, and later supported David’s son Absalom in a revolt.

While not explicitly written in scripture, I think that by connecting the dots I can see how Bathsheba came to be in Jerusalem.

When Mephibosheth was just five years old his nurse fled with him to the city of Lo-debar. By the time David had established his kingdom and started his search for descendents of Jonathan, Mephibosheth was probably in his twenties or even thirties since he already had a son of his own named Micah. Mephibosheth was most likely raised in the home of Ammiel a.k.a. Eliam. If that is the case, then he would have been a long-time friend (almost like a relative) of both Makir and Bathsheba. When David had Mephibosheth and his family brought to Jerusalm to live in the palace, it is highly likely that Eliam, Makir and Bathsheba would have visited with their friend on occasion. And due to those visits and due to her father’s close association with him, Bathsheba likely encountered a young warrior named Uriah, a warrior who asked for and received her hand in marriage.

Father, thank you for the friends that I have in my life. May I not covet anything they have or positions they hold. Please give me the grace to be a true friend. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Interesting, Jan

2 Samuel 10

Doing

Many people that I know are of the opinion that if something is to happen, God will be the one to make it so. They take verses like the following and base their entire way of life around them.

And this same God who takes care of me will supply all your needs from his glorious riches, which have been given to us in Christ Jesus. – Phillipians 4:19

However, God also said things like,

Even while we were with you, we gave you this rule: “Whoever does not work should not eat. – 2 Thessalonians 3:10

In reading today I noticed the following verse.

Be courageous! Let us fight bravely to save our people and the cities of our God. May the LORD’s will be done. – 2 Samuel 10:12

They clearly understood that the Lord’s will would be accomplished. Yet the people did all they could to prepare for victory. They amassed armies, they drew up battle strategies. They did something.

It is not faith to sit around and do nothing expecting God to save you while it is within your power to do something.

I’m reminded of the story of the lepers starving at the gate of the Samaritan capital city. In fact the entire region was slowly starving to death due to the Aramean siege. So the four lepers said:

We will starve if we stay here, and we will starve if we go back into the city. So we might as well go out and surrender to the Aramean army. If they let us live, so much the better. But if they kill us, we would have died anyway. – 2 Kings 7:4

They didn’t just sit around, they resolved to do something. And God rewarded their efforts.

So that evening they went out to the camp of the Arameans, but no one was there! – 2 Kings 7:5

All of the food and treasure was left behind, but the entire Aramean army was gone. Not only had the lepers’ situation radically changed due to their doing something, they saved all of Samaria from starvation too.

Father, please help me to see and to know when you want me to do something, and when I should simply wait. Please give me the wisdom I need. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Are you doing something? Jan

2 Samuel 9

Small World

the_new_4park_name_pinNot so many years ago I was an addicted pin-collector. Addicted is definitely the right word.
 
I actually would drive to Disney World, stand in line at 3am, turn around after purchasing my coveted pin at 9am, and go to work. I once scheduled a vacation in California to attend an anniversary party for the Pirates of the Caribbean ride at Disney Land, just so I could purchase pins. It gets worse. In 2001 I decided to visit my relatives in Europe. I scheduled my vacation to to coincide with the opening day of official pin-trading at Disney Land Paris. But wait, there’s more!
 
While at Disney Land Paris, I actually ran into people that I had stood in pin-lines with in Disney Land California – half way around the globe! Apparently it really is a small world in every Disney park.
 
I had a small world experience in scripture today. King David wants to honor his promise to his deceased friend Jonathan to protect his household. So he finds someone who might know if there are any survivors, a guy named Ziba.

The king then asked him, “Is anyone still alive from Saul’s family? If so, I want to show God’s kindness to them in any way I can.” Ziba replied, “Yes, one of Jonathan’s sons is still alive, but he is crippled.”
 
“Where is he?” the king asked. “In Lo-debar,” Ziba told him, “at the home of Makir son of Ammiel.” – 2 Samuel 9:3-4

I looked up this guy Makir, son of Ammiel. He shows up again when David is escaping from his son Absalom who is trying to usurp the throne.

When David arrived at Mahanaim, he was warmly greeted by Shobi son of Nahash of Rabbah, an Ammonite, and by Makir son of Ammiel of Lo-debar, and by Barzillai of Gilead from Rogelim. – 2 Samuel 17:27

It would appear that this man Makir is definitely kind-hearted. But why does this guy help David? It was after-all with great peril to do so. He would incur the wrath of King Absalom.

He was helping a relative.

The sons born to David in Jerusalem included Shimea, Shobab, Nathan, and Solomon. Bathsheba, the daughter of Ammiel, was the mother of these sons. – 1 Chronicles 3:5

Bathsheba and Makir have the same father – Ammiel, or Eliam as he is otherwise know. Makir was protecting his brother-in-law.

Father, thank you for interesting rabbit-trails of scripture. May I never get tired of following them. And thank you for delivering me of the pin-collecting addiction. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

It really is a small world after all. Jan

2 Samuel 8

Royal Historian

I reference Flavius Josephus on occasion when I write. He was a Jewish historian who lived in the 1st century in Israel. In addition to chronicling events of his day and age, he wrote extensive commentaries about the past history of his people. His writings bring invaluable insight into what might otherwise be obscure words and references.

I noticed something today that brought new appreciation for those who preserve events of their time in written form.

David reigned over all Israel and was fair to everyone. Joab son of Zeruiah was commander of the army. Jehoshaphat son of Ahilud was the royal historian. – 2 Samuel 8:15-16

Jehoshaphat, a man we know almost nothing about, was the royal historian to both King David and his son, King Solomon.

So Solomon was king over all Israel, and these were his high officials: Azariah son of Zadok was the priest. Elihoreph and Ahijah, the sons of Shisha, were court secretaries. Jehoshaphat son of Ahilud was the royal historian. – 1 Kings 4:1-3

It is due to the efforts of this man, and presumably those who worked for him, that we know anything about King David, King Solomon and the events of their time.

Father, thank you for creating and gifting Jehoshaphat as you did. Thank you for preserving your word and ways, at least in part, through him. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Preserving my time, one bit at a time. Jan

2 Samuel 7

Getting to know you…

In 1951 Rodgers and Hammerstein wrote a song for the Broadway musical The King and I entitled “Getting to know you”. In this song Anna sings about getting to know the king of Siam, whose children she is tutoring. In the process of getting to know him, he also gets to know her. 

Likewise there is someone that knows me. It is my King, Jesus. 

What more can I say? You know what I am really like, Sovereign LORD. – 2 Samuel 7:20 

He already knows everything about me. 

 I knew you before I formed you in your mother’s womb. – Jeremiah 1:5a 

My job is to get to know him. 

Father, may I get to know you more and more. In Jesus’ name, Amen. 

…all about you. Jan

2 Samuel 3

One A Day

上行下效

 

This Chinese proverb translates to; “Those below follow the example of those above.” It is pronounced (shàng xíng xià xiào). 

It sounds remotely familiar. 

 Teach your children to choose the right path, and when they are older, they will remain upon it. – Proverbs 22:6 

And I’m sure I could find other similar verses if I looked long enough. Truth tends to be universal, whether you are Shinto or Christian. Only one path will lead to salvation, but truths tend to be absolutes. 

After the Hebrews escaped the slavery of Egypt, God gave them many instructions. He even gave them instructions for how a future king was to conduct himself, even though a kings was not something in God’s plan for them. One instruction was brought to mind today. 

The king must not take many wives for himself, because they will lead him away from the LORD. And he must not accumulate vast amounts of wealth in silver and gold for himself. – Deuteronomy 17:17 

I see that David did not follow these instructions. 

These were the sons who were born to David in Hebron:

The oldest was Amnon, whose mother was Ahinoam of Jezreel.

The second was Kileab, whose mother was Abigail, the widow of Nabal from Carmel. The third was Absalom, whose mother was Maacah, the daughter of Talmai, king of Geshur.

The fourth was Adonijah, whose mother was Haggith. The fifth was Shephatiah, whose mother was Abital.

The sixth was Ithream, whose mother was David’s wife Eglah.

These sons were all born to David in Hebron. – 2 Samuel 3:2-5 

That is six wives! But wait there’s more! 

When David was one of Saul’s trusted men, Saul gave David his daughter Michal as his first wife. Now when the former forces of Saul want to negotiate peace and crown David as king, he has one condition. 

“All right,” David replied, “but I will not negotiate with you unless you bring back my wife Michal, Saul’s daughter, when you come.” – 2 Samuel 3:13 

That makes seven! One wife for each day of the week – busy man. 

His wives were not his downfall; David apparently handled them well enough to prevent that. But the heartache of divided loyalties amongst David’s children, the product of those wives, caused tremendous heartache and damage. There was rape, incest, murder, hatred, lying, disobedience, and the list goes on. 

Later his son Solomon, a product of yet another wife, is eventually seduced to sin by his own many wives. Solomon had learned from his father that alliances with neighboring kingdoms are made by marrying the king’s and ruler’s daughters, something God commanded against. 

“Those below follow the example of those above.” 

But the Israelites would not listen. They were as stubborn as their ancestors and refused to believe in the LORD their God. They rejected his laws and the covenant he had made with their ancestors, and they despised all his warnings. They worshiped worthless idols and became worthless themselves. They followed the example of the nations around them, disobeying the LORD’s command not to imitate them. – 2 Kings 17:14-15

Father, may I listen and learn by the example of others. However, not only to those above me, but to the one who is above all – you. In Jesus’ name, Amen. 

Who are you following? Jan

2 Samuel 2

Relatives

My mother has a sister-in-law who is also her aunt. No, she isn’t from the hills of West Virginia. 

Many years ago, my father’s oldest sister met a man on a train while on their way to a Christian youth camp. Eventually they married. Quite some time following that, my father married that man’s niece. Her uncle instantly also became her brother-in-law. 

Today while reading about David’s return to Israel I noticed a familial connection I’d never seen before. 

Joab, Abishai, and Asahel, the three sons of Zeruiah, were among David’s forces that day. Asahel could run like a deer, and he began chasing Abner. He was relentless and single-minded in his pursuit. – 2 Samuel 2:18-19 

Like most people, I tend to just trip past the weird names in the Bible. However, for some reason I kept coming back to this section of scripture. In doing so I discovered that Zeruiah is a female, the verse is listing their mother – something rarely done in the Bible. The reason for her inclusion is because Zeruiah is David’s sister! The three men mentioned are David’s nephews. David is their uncle. 

But Asahel would not give up, so Abner thrust the butt end of his spear through Asahel’s stomach, and the spear came out through his back. He stumbled to the ground and died there. And everyone who came by that spot stopped and stood still when they saw Asahel lying there. – 2 Samuel 2:23 

I find that later Abishai and Joab eventually murder Abner in revenge. However, David, who also suffered this very personal tragedy at the hands of Abner responded very differently. 

Quite some time had passed and a meeting was called where Abner pledged allegiance to David, turning the rest of the kingdom over to him. Then Abner left. Joab discovered this and was furious. 

Joab then left David and sent messengers to catch up with Abner. They found him at the pool of Sirah and brought him back with them.

But David knew nothing about it.

When Abner arrived at Hebron, Joab took him aside at the gateway as if to speak with him privately. But then he drew his dagger and killed Abner in revenge for killing his brother Asahel.

When David heard about it, he declared, “I vow by the LORD that I and my people are innocent of this crime against Abner. Joab and his family are the guilty ones. May his family in every generation be cursed with a man who has open sores or leprosy or who walks on crutches or who dies by the sword or who begs for food!”

So Joab and his brother Abishai killed Abner because Abner had killed their brother Asahel at the battle of Gibeon.

Then David said to Joab and all those who were with him, “Tear your clothes and put on sackcloth. Go into deep mourning for Abner.” And King David himself walked behind the procession to the grave. They buried Abner in Hebron, and the king and all the people wept at his graveside. – 2 Samuel 3:26-32 

Where does vengeance end? David had it right. The Lord is the one who will rightly judge and repay. He was leaving justice in the hands of the supreme judge of all. 

Lord, may I leave in your hands those things that are not mine to handle. Please give me the wisdom to know what that is. In Jesus’ name, Amen. 

We are all one family – God’s.
Jan

2 Samuel 1

Amalekites

Amazing what happens when we don’t listen to our parents. When I married my first wife it was with the grudging permission of my father. He knew that something was not right even though he couldn’t identify it. As it turned out, neither of us was mature enough and eventually after many years the marriage ended. I caused my parents much grief due to my choice. 

In this chapter I noticed that David and his men had just returned from defeating the Amalekites. First Samuel chapter thirty contains the account of that battle if you’d like to read it. 

However, what jumped out at me was that the young man in this chapter, the young man that killed Saul, is also an Amalekite. 

Then David said to the young man who had brought the news, “Where are you from?” And he replied, “I am a foreigner, an Amalekite, who lives in your land.” 

“Were you not afraid to kill the LORD’s anointed one?” David asked. Then David said to one of his men, “Kill him!” So the man thrust his sword into the Amalekite and killed him. “You die self-condemned,” David said, “for you yourself confessed that you killed the LORD’s anointed one.” – 2 Samuel 1:13-16 

In first Samuel chapter fifteen God had ordered Saul to eradicate all traces of Amalekites. Obviously this was not obeyed. In fact it was Saul’s handling of this particular encounter that was the cause of his loss of favor with God. 

So why did God want the Amalekites wiped out? 

Hundreds of years earlier, in Exodus seventeen, Israel is finally free from Egypt. They are camped at Rephidim when the Amalekites attacked them. The Israelites prevailed and beat them back. However, God pronounced an eternal curse against them. 

Then the LORD instructed Moses, “Write this down as a permanent record, and announce it to Joshua: I will blot out every trace of Amalek from under heaven.” – Exodus 17:14 

Yet, even this did not need to happen. Let’s travel a few hundred years further back into Israelite history. 

Isaac was commanded by his father Abraham to not marry any of the local women, to only marry those from his tribe. He obeyed his father’s wishes and married Rebekah. It is reasonable to deduce that a similar desire would have been passed on to his two sons, Jacob and Esau. 

The father of the nation of Israel was Jacob, he in fact bore the name Israel later in life. His twin brother was Esau. And it is from him that things went horribly wrong. 

At the age of forty, Esau married a young woman named Judith, the daughter of Beeri the Hittite. He also married Basemath, the daughter of Elon the Hittite. But Esau’s wives made life miserable for Isaac and Rebekah. – Genesis 26:34-35 

I think it can be safely inferred from the verses above that these marriages were against his parents wishes. 

Here’s the kicker, Amalek was the grandson of Esau and his wife Adah, also known as Basemath. 

If Esau had listened to his parents, the Amalekites would never have existed! Who knows how the history of the nation of Israel would have turned out had one man listened to his parents. 

Who knows how my life would have turned out had I listened to my parents. 

But, God is a redemptive God. He can take our broken things and create something wonderful with them. 

 And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them. – Romans 8:28 

Now many years later I am remarried to a wonderful woman that both of my parents approved of and loved as if she was their own daughter. One of the last things my father did on this earth was to pay for my bride to attend a Christian retreat in Colorado. (My father passed away in March of 2008). 

I don’t think that it is a coincidence that the quote “obedience is better than sacrifice” comes out of Saul’s failure with the Amalekites in first Samuel fifteen. God wants us to obey him and those he has placed over us. 

Lord, may I remember to obey you in all things, whether I agree or understand them. In Jesus’ name, Amen. 

Listen. Jan