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Day 90 – Thru the Bible
Today we continue Second Samuel and Psalms.
2 Samuel 13 & 14 – Sin is indeed serious, and even when forgiven can still have crippling effects. Nathan had prophesied that David’s sins of sexual abuse and murder would find their evil counterparts within his own family. In Amnon’s rape of his half sister Tamar and in Absalom’s patiently plotted murder of Amnon in defense of his full sister Tamar’s honor, we witness the sins of the father replicated in the lives of his sons.
Sin is never a private affair; it always has ripple effects (if not tidal-wave effects!), particularly within a household. When David hears of Amnon’s lust-turned-to-hate crime, he is “very angry” but, apparently, does nothing. As father and as king he had a double duty to impose justice. He is similarly ineffective in dealing with Absalom, when the latter visits a vigilante justice on the scoundrel Amnon. The sense that David has become crippled in his fathering is reinforced by a later notice with respect to yet another son, Adonijah: “His father had never at any time displeased him by asking, ‘Why have you done thus and so?’” (1 Kings 1:6).
David’s emotions appear to be about as ambiguous as the Hebrew text describing them in 2 Sam. 13:39; does his spirit go out against Absalom, because he is angry over Amnon’s death, or does it reach out to Absalom, because David is consoled concerning Amnon’s death. Neither the text nor David’s further actions in this section makes this very clear. After three years in exile, Absalom is finally allowed back into Jerusalem but not into the king’s presence (13:38; 14:23–24). After a further two years estranged, Absalom finally manages to force a meeting with David (14:28–33). And what happens? All we read is that “the king kissed Absalom” (14:33)—no discussion of past wrongs on both sides, no forgiveness, and, as subsequent events make painfully obvious, no reconciliation.
If “two wrongs don’t make a right,” then wrongs upon wrongs certainly do not do so. Whatever may have contributed to David’s crippling as a father (his sense of shame; his loss of the moral high ground; his inability to forgive himself, though forgiven by God), only the gospel can break the vicious cycle of alienation. The glorious truth for guilty sinners (that’s all of us) is that “if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold the new has come. All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation” (2 Corinthians 5:17–18). The call, then, for saved sinners is to forget what lies behind (whether personal victories or defeats) and to press forward in the power of the Holy Spirit (Philippians 3:13).
Seeing that the Bible doesn’t hide people’s flaws, how does it encourage you to be open about your own sin and lean into God’s unfailing Grace?
2 Samuel 15 – Seemingly small sins of omission can spawn rather large sins of commission. The sin of commission in chapter 15 is Absalom’s: an insurrection against his own father. The sins of omission, however, are arguably David’s in chapters 13–14. The “kiss” of 14:33, unaccompanied by hard-but-healing conversation, clearly achieved no true reconciliation between David and Absalom. The latter, quite evidently still aggrieved that justice was never done by David in the case of Tamar (ch. 13) and unsatisfied by a mere kiss, foments a rebellion over the very issue of “justice” and steals the hearts of the people of Israel with a “kiss”.
But God never abandons David. When David prays (something he is not mentioned as doing in chs. 13–14), God answers (17:14). David refuses to use God (contrast his return of the ark in 2 Samuel 15:25 with Israel’s attempt to manipulate the ark in 1 Samuel 4) but, rather, humbly submits to whatever “seems good to [God].”
Sin is never trivial but God never leaves or forsakes those who are truly His. These are key gospel truths vividly illustrated by the life of David.
Regardless of your current circumstances (and how they came about), how do remember that Dad never leaves nor forsakes you?
Psalm 90 – Looking at earthly suffering against the backdrop of God’s eternal plan of redemption provides hope. Over the course of Moses’ leadership, he was regularly faced with man’s temporal and sinful nature. Though painful, this knowledge of man produces wisdom when it leads to knowledge of God as a “dwelling place”. Different from a refuge, which is temporary, a dwelling is where one lives in good times and bad.
Dwelling in the presence of God results in an eternally significant life (Romans 8:18). God graciously adopts the believer’s work and makes it “glorious” and “favored” (1 Corinthians 3:9). Those works done for the glory of Jesus will be proven by fire to be as enduring and beautiful as gold (1 Corinthians 3:12–14).
God’s “pity” reveals humanity’s brokenness but also God’s compassion, leading to merciful deliverance. Turning His wrath away, He grants the repentant “steadfast love” (grace). Then love produces “gladness” that more than makes up for the years spent in agony living outside of God’s grace. The previous Psalm explains that those who experience this gladness exult in God’s righteousness. That is, God substitutes righteousness for sin.
How do we see this substitution made possible at great cost to God? Hint: Romans 8:3–4.
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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