Day 91 – Thru the Bible
Today we continue Second Samuel and Psalms.
2 Samuel 16 – Caught in a series of unfortunate events set in motion by his own sins, David at times seems disoriented—unable or unwilling, for instance, to judge between competing stories by Ziba (16:1–4) and Mephibosheth (19:24–29). Through it all, however, he begins to reorient to what matters: to God (16:10–12); to family, albeit tragically late (18:5, 33); and to responsibility (21:15). The swath of misery that sin cuts through David’s family and kingdom is heart-wrenching, not least in regard to his concubines, violated (16:21–22), then isolated (20:3).
Ziba, the servant of Mephibosheth (the disabled grandson of Saul, whom David had taken into his care; remember chapter 9), arrives with provisions for David and his people. Ziba implies that the gifts are entirely his idea, and that Mephibosheth himself sees David’s difficulty as an opportunity to reclaim the kingdom. Mephibosheth will later present a different version of the situation (19:24–29). “Behold, all that belonged to Mephibosheth is now yours.” David judged too quickly, without opportunity to hear a defense from the accused Mephibosheth.
Absalom’s public sexual relations with several of David’s concubines would indeed have strengthened the hands of Absalom’s followers, as he made it clear that he was claiming the throne. Nathan had prophesied such an event (remember 12:11).
But God never abandons David. When David prays (15:31), God answers (17:14).
How do you remind yourself to pray and trust God when the things of this world seem to all be against you?
2 Samuel 17 – This chapter presents the crucial contest between Ahithophel (Absalom’s ally) and Hushai (David’s ally) before Absalom and the elders of Israel. Ahithophel offers the good advice to attack and kill David immediately. With no one else to turn to, he says, the whole country would embrace Absalom. If this advice had been followed, it is likely that David would have been defeated.
But Absalom decides to also hear advice from Hushai. Hushai gives a time-consuming speech that flatters Absalom, giving David enough time to regroup and prepare for battle. Hushai knows that if Ahithophel’s advice is accepted, there will be no time to lose. So even before he hears the council’s response he sends word to David that he should at least cross the Jordan River. The council rejects Ahithophel’s good advice in favor of Hushai’s misleading advice. The poor decision leads to Absalom’s defeat.
When Absalom finally gathers his army and goes after David, David is already in Mahanaim in Gilead, with the forest of Ephraim (18:6) between him and Absalom.
God’s will is done and David will survive as God answers his prayer. Still David is not idle, he still moves when God reveals he needs to move.
How do you respond when God tells you it’s time to move?
2 Samuel 18 – It is a moving scene indeed when David finally hears of Absalom’s fate: his son has died. Absalom has proven a thorn in his father’s side for years, yet deeper than this father/son dysfunction is the love of the father for his son. David even laments, “Would that I had died instead of you, O Absalom, my son, my son!”
The pain that is inflicted on and by fallen human beings in this diseased world often elicits the cry for such substitution. Seeing a loved one in pain prompts us to wish we could bear the pain in their place. Moses, for example, wishes he could bear the punishment due the Israelites (Exodus 32:30–32). Paul expresses the same wish (Romans 9:3).
How do we see the true climax and fulfillment of this desire to take on oneself the pain of the beloved when God Himself does this for His? Hint: Galatians 3:13; 1 Peter 3:18.
Psalm 91 – When someone experiences God’s grace, he cannot keep it to himself. God’s titles explain why His grace is commendable. The one who regularly lives in the shelter of the “Most High” will find rest in the shadow of the “Almighty”. This was especially meaningful to Israel, who was homeless for much of the Old Testament. Her refuge was the “Lord,” the “I am” who met Moses in the burning bush and who is all-sufficient in resources.
The psalmist assures us of God’s aggressive defense against every kind of threat: terror at night, arrows by day, pestilence in darkness, destruction at noon, along with the lion, the adder, the young lion, and the serpent. The “snare of the fowler” represents hidden plots, and “pestilence” represents everything else that threatens in this life. Finally, the psalmist prophesies regarding what only a Messiah can deliver: shelter from the future judgment (John 12:47).
Misapplying this text, the devil urged Jesus to provoke God to an additional proof of His love (Matthew 4:6). But God’s pronouncement at Jesus’ baptism was sufficient (Luke 3:22). Likewise, the believer united to Jesus is also perpetually assured of loving protection. So what began with a human testimony to God’s deliverance from trouble ends with a divine pledge of a “long life” (for those in Jesus, eternal life).
How does this truth help you deal with today’s fears?
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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