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Day 89 – Thru the Bible
Today we continue Second Samuel and Psalms.
2 Samuel 9 – Often in ancient times, even in Israel, a change in royal dynasty led to the killing of all male heirs of the defeated family. But David keeps his promise to Jonathan and Saul that he would not destroy their descendants.
Here we see David’s continued brotherly love for Jonathan and respect for Saul. David extends grace to the crippled Mephibosheth grandson of Saul, and Jonathan’s son.
Mephibosheth, gratefully receives David’s generosity, while the latter, suspicious and cynical, rebuffs David’s attempted kindness, and suffers the consequences.
How does being shown grace by God, naturally lead us to extend grace to others (even when that grace is unexpected)?
2 Samuel 10 – Israel’s war with Ammon began when the Ammonites disgraced David’s ambassadors; it did not result from any wrongdoing by David.
David wants to deal loyally with Hanun because of his father Nahash (presumably the Nahash mentioned in 1 Samuel 11), who had dealt loyally with David. Also, David wants to keep the Ammonites as peaceful neighbors. It may be that the princes of the Ammonites are alarmed by the representatives of David, who had conquered Moab (2 Samuel 8:2), the country directly south of them.
The shaving off half the beard is an act of humiliation that amounted to breaking off diplomatic relations. David allows his messengers to remain at Jericho so that they would not have to display their humiliation in the royal court.
Joab’s announcement to be courageous . . . and may the Lord do what seems good to Him, expresses both his faith in God and a resolve to fight with all his strength. Faith and human effort rightly go together.
While our salvation is never based on our effort (that work was completed by Jesus), how do you see faith and your efforts working together to help those around you?
2 Samuel 11 – There is no point in life’s journey so dangerous as when one has arrived at a comfortable place and lowers one’s guard. David has arrived at such a place, and his baser instincts, only hinted at here and there during the challenging wilderness years, are about to burst forth in vivid, lurid color. Strangely for the man so accustomed to praying before acting, David in this episode simply sends others to do his bidding—and his taking (first of another man’s wife, then of the man’s life).
Surely, David did not arise from his afternoon nap planning to become an adulterer, a conspirator, a murderer, and a hypocrite. Sin seldom shows itself all at once, or even as sin at all. The temptation to sin is usually more subtle than that. But once in its grip, one is taken to places one never intended to go and held longer than one ever intended to stay.
In violating his position of power, David harms everyone around him, including the consciences of the messengers who do his bidding and of his coconspirator Joab (if such a conscience actually existed). The Lord, who is often elsewhere reported to be “with David,” is not even mentioned until the final line of the chapter: “But the thing that David had done displeased the Lord.”
Sin is serious, and no one is entirely out of danger. Where relational ties with God grow lax, success can lead to pride. And “pride goes before . . . a fall” (Proverbs 16:18; 1 Timothy 3:6). “Therefore let anyone who thinks that he stands take heed lest he fall” (1 Corinthians 10:12).
The good news of this tragic chapter is that the history of God’s people did not finally rest even on David. Despite being a man after God’s own heart, and despite the fact that David knows how to repent sincerely in the wake of grievous sin (Psalm 51), David cannot save God’s people. He too is weak. He fails. A son of David needs to come who will not fail.
How does this story point you to your need for Jesus?
2 Samuel 12 – God wants to capture hearts as well as minds. In order to elicit not just intellectual but also emotional agreement from David, the Lord sends Nathan to tell him a story. Not noticing subtleties such as the reference to the poor man’s one lamb being to him like a “daughter” (Hebrew “bath”, the first element in the name Bathsheba), David is outraged by what he takes to be a criminal case requiring royal judgment. He pronounces a death sentence on the powerful culprit.
“You are the man!” are Nathan’s famous next words. How good God is to devise means to engage the whole person through persuasion rather than simply coercing outward conformity through power. David’s response, “I have sinned against the Lord,” is profound in its simplicity.
In Psalm 51, linked by its superscription to this event, David confesses, “Against you, you only, have I sinned” (51:4). But with collateral damage to so many lives, how can David say this? The simple answer is that, before lifting a hand against a fellow human being, we first shake our fist in God’s face. If love of God precedes and enables love of neighbor (Luke 10:27), defiance of God precedes and enables abuse of neighbor.
Sin is serious and carries consequences in its train. Sin earns the death sentence (Romans 3:23). But the wonderful good news is that “if we confess our sins, [God] is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9). “The Lord . . . has put away your sin,” Nathan says to David, “you shall not die.”
We struggle to see grace where Nathan promises forgiveness from the same God who disciplines the king with the death of David’s son. Some explanation lies in Nathan’s comment that David’s sin “utterly scorned the Lord” (i.e., brought the Lord into contempt before others). As Israel’s king, David has a special role of representing God to his people and the watching world. For David to commit such grievous sins without consequence would be to besmirch the character of God in whom all people must trust. The consequence that David experiences is not evidence of the absence of grace but of an eternal perspective whereby God enables His people to maintain their trust in His righteous character.
How do we see God ultimately paying this same price—the life of His Son—to cover our sin?
The difficult lesson for us is that while God’s grace erases the guilt of our sin before Him, there may be consequences of sin that yet occur in this temporal realm. Divine forgiveness (desiring and acting for another’s ultimate good despite their guilt) is not the same as pardon from all earthly consequences; bank robbers may still need to serve prison terms even if they become believers. It also helps to have an eternal perspective in considering that David’s child would still be with him and the Lord forever in the heavenly kingdom, freed of all earthly trauma.
The only way we can forfeit God’s profound grace is either by denying our need for it or by attempting to earn it. Honest, contrite acknowledgment of failure, and looking to Jesus, is all that is needed to be right with God and utterly cleansed.
How does the truth encourage and humble you today?
Psalm 89 – God’s sovereignty confirms His gracious promises, promises that prompt prayer in dark times. The means by which Ethan seeks to lift his heart to the Lord is a mosaic of God’s redemptive attributes: strong love (Romans 8:37), creational might (Romans 8:21), righteous mediation (Hebrews 12:22–24), joy-giving presence (John 3:29–30), and fatherly discipline (Hebrews 12:7).
How do we see all these traits fulfilled and climactically embodied in Jesus, who embodies all of God’s promises? Hint: Romans 1:1–6.
With God’s character stated clearly for disillusioned Believers, Ethan teaches us to pray for God to exercise His sovereignty and “establish the work of [His] hands.” Accusing God of renouncing His covenant promises might seem irreverent, but this is the undeniable felt experience of the psalmist, and it is the felt experience of the saints down through the ages.
In giving voice to the pain and despair we often pass through, however, the psalmist also guides us into hope. For we are reminded that even when all looks dark, God has made a promise to David of an eternal throne. The bottom line, therefore, is, “Blessed be the Lord forever!”
Believers can pray so brazenly because they know a gracious Father. This Father’s “compassion grows warm and tender” when his children are in pain (Hosea 11:8), and there comes a time when He can no longer bear the anguish of His children (Judges 10:16). So God welcomes honest and heartfelt prayer; He does not punish it, for He is “steadfast” in His love and faithful in His care (Luke 18:1–5).
How does reading this psalm remind us that God kept this promise in the long-anticipated Davidic heir?
Jesus underwent the ultimate pain—condemnation and separation from God—so that we never need to.
What other thoughts or questions does today’s reading bring up?
Some of these notes are from the ESV Gospel Transformation Bible study notes. We highly recommend this study Bible.
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