May 28 – Daily Notes – Amanda

consequences

Amnon commits an egregious sin against his half-sister and though David is hurt and angered by Amnon’s actions, he doesn’t punish him. The most likely cause? Because David had sexual sin in his past as well and felt as if he couldn’t judge Amnon. Do you see how our sins affect us far beyond the initial act? And they don’t just affect us, but many around us as well. Though are sins are forgiven, consequences are real.

2 Samuel 13:1-39:

  • 2 – Amnon and Tamar were half brother and sister. They shared David as their father.
  • 3-14 – Jonadab’s plan is successful and Amnon rapes Tamar. In verse 13, Tamar even pleads with Amnon to ask David if they can marry one another so this won’t be a violation. Amnon still overpowers her.
  • 15 – Not only does he violate her, but then he kicks her out of bed and hates her fiercely. Amnon’s sexual sin begins to cause a downward spiral of destruction.
  • 20 – Once a woman was no longer a virgin, whether by choice or not, she was cast aside. Absalom’s kindness towards Tamar was far better treatment than most women received.
  • 21 – David is angry but does nothing to Amnon. He may have felt unworthy to judge or enact justice upon Amnon because he had committed his own sexual sin.
  • 26-33 – Absalom takes matters into his own hands and kills Amnon. Though Amnon’s sin was egregious, Absalom’s actions are also sinful.

John 17:1-26:

  • 6-20 – Jesus’ final prayer for his followers.
  • 20-26 – Now Jesus prays for all those who will come to believe as the disciples continue to share the gospel after Jesus’ death. Isn’t it cool to know that Jesus prayed for us?

Psalm 119:81-96:

  • 81-88 – The first section is crying out to God for help because the psalmist is being persecuted by those who don’t follow God’s commands.
  • 89-96 – The psalmist has a deep reliance on God’s word and laws. The psalmist also seems to remind God of his own faithfulness while asking God to return the favor.

Proverbs 16:6-7:

  • 6 – We often wonder how we can quit a certain sin or be more faithful. This proverb gives good insight – fear the Lord and you can turn away from evil.

What to Expect – Week 22

cast of characters

Some of the stories in this week’s reading from 2 Samuel can be a little confusing. There are a lot of names and many of them are somewhat similar. To help the story move along so you can understand the meaning a little bit better, here’s a bit of a cheat sheet:

  • Abiathar – high priest and the last of Eli’s line
  • Abishai – one of David’s most fearsome warriors
  • Absalom – David’s son
  • Ahithophel – a well respected, though not particularly loyal, counselor to David and others
  • Amnon – David’s first son, Tamar’s half-brother
  • Hushai – one of David’s workers pretending to work for Absalom
  • Ittai – a leader of the Gittite people; fairly inconsequential over all
  • Joab – an official close to David; he is hasty and violent
  • Jonadab – Amnon’s friend and advisor, a sneaky guy; David’s nephew
  • Mephibosheth – Saul’s grandson
  • Shimei – a member of Saul’s house who originally curses David but eventually returns to him
  • Tamar – David’s daughter; Amnon’s half-sister
  • Zadok – a priest who assisted David in Absalom’s revolt
  • Ziba – originally a servant of Mephibosheth but moves to David’s side and is handsomely rewarded

As we closeout John and begin Acts, note the differences of what John includes. For instance, John includes Jesus’ powerful prayers for his disciples and even future believers. Pilate’s character has a different feel in John’s account. He seems much more pained and tormented to convict Jesus. And an additional disciple attends the trial with Peter unlike in any other gospel. What do you think John is trying to emphasize with the way he shares his account?

This week we’ll also finish Psalm 119! Be sure to note the Amy Grant reference – and don’t by shy. Go ahead and jam out to her tunes.

Happy reading! 5 months in the books! Incredible!!

May 27 – Daily Notes – Amanda

be good

Today’s psalm reminds us of a pretty crucial concept and one that is questioned a lot. We believe that God is a good God and thus does good things. The two make sense together. You can’t really believe one without the other. Often, the fact that bad things happen is used as an argument that God is not good. But what if there’s more to the story than what we can understand? What if God is working those bad things for good, like he says he will? The psalmist raises a good point that we could all stand to think about.

2 Samuel 12:1-31:

  • 1-6 – It’s hard not to love the little lamb just from reading Nathan’s story. With good reason, David is enraged at the injustice of the rich man taking the poor man’s beloved lamb and David demands revenge.
  • 7-15 – David’s sin against Uriah and God was egregious. Nathan helps him see this through his story of the lamb. Nathan explains David’s punishments for his sin.
  • 15-23 – David is faithful through his son’s short life calling on the Lord for grace. Though God is gracious in not killing David, his son still dies.
  • 24 – Note that David’s sin did not cause God to take the throne away from him or his family. Solomon will become the 3rd king of Israel.

John 16:1-33:

  • 5 – One major theme throughout John is where Jesus came from and where he’s going. He continually alludes to going somewhere and no one seems to understand what that is.
  • 7 – The Helper that is to come is the Holy Spirit.
  • 16-22 – Jesus will go away when he’s crucified but will only be gone for a short while until he’s raised from the dead.
  • 29-32 – Though the writing had been on the wall for a while, the disciples finally understand where Jesus is going and where he came from. They finally recognize who he truly is.
  • 33 – A beautiful reminder that even though there is trouble in the world, and the faithful will face persecution, we have hope in our Savior.

Psalm 119:65-80:

  • You can feel the tension in the psalmist’s writing. He is both angered by the way his enemies have treated him, but also fully committed to God’s law. We often feel this tension between doing what our sinful nature would lead us towards and remaining faithful to God.
  • 68 – A great reminder that God both is good and does good. If we believe one we must believe the other.
  • 70 – I wonder if we ever approach God’s law with “delight”.

Proverbs 16:4-5:

  • 4 – God does not create us wicked, but we sin and fall short. Thus the need for a day of judgment.

May 26 – Daily Notes – Amanda

wrong place wrong time

Ever been in the wrong place at the wrong time? Sometimes, it is an honest, innocent mistake. Other times, however, we probably shouldn’t have been in that place in the first place. This is how David got himself in the biggest trouble of his life. He sees a beautiful woman bathing on a roof and even though she’s someone else’s wife, he has to have her. The thing is, though, he shouldn’t have been home to see her in the first place.

2 Samuel 9:1-11:27:

  • 1-13 – It wouldn’t have been strange for a king to kill everyone in the line of the previous king to prevent them from trying to take back power. Instead, David holds true to the covenant he made with Jonathan and treats Mephibosheth like his own son.
  • 1-4 – The Ammonites didn’t trust David’s kindness and they repay his servants with dishonor. Shaving half their beards would be a sign of dishonor and would make them look ridiculous and cutting off part of their garments was to expose and embarrass them.
  • 12-14 – God blessed the Israelites with two simultaneous victories though both seemed like they would have been difficult.
  • 1 – David was supposed to be in battle, but chose to stay home and send others out to do his work for him.
  • 2-13 – Because David was in a place he shouldn’t have been, he was left open to sin. David tries to cover his sin up by bringing Uriah home so he could think the baby was his. Uriah is too honorable and refuses to enjoy the pleasures of home while the other soldiers are out at battle.
  • 14-27 – David assures that Uriah will be killed in battle. This, to some degree, covers up David’s sin. The Lord, however, knows what David has done and is not pleased.

John 15:1-27:

  • 4-11 – Beautiful imagery reminding us that we must stay connected to Christ, the source of anything good that can come from us. When we are connected to him, we bear good fruit.
  • 12 – Jesus repeats a commandment he gave in the reading two days ago. Repeating a commandment solidifies its importance.
  • 17 – He repeats the command to love one another a third time. Clearly this is a crucial command that he intends for all believers to follow.
  • 20-21 – Jesus prepares his disciples to receive the same persecution he has received. We, as believers, should expect the same if we are living like Christ.
  • 22 – If the persecutors had not known Jesus, they could have claimed ignorance.

Psalm 119:49-64:

  • 61 – The psalmist expresses the importance of remaining faithful to God even in the midst of hardship and oppression.

Proverbs 16:1-3:

  • A powerful explanation of our plans versus God’s. When we offer up our plans to God and give him ultimate authority, we are certain to see success.

May 25 – Daily Notes – Amanda

humble

In my old age I’ve learned a few things. One is that it is far better to humble yourself than to have someone else do it for you. Our Proverb reminds us of that today. It says “humility comes before honor”. Maybe today, instead of tooting your own horn, take a humble position on your skills, abilities, or possessions. If someone honors you anyway, great! I know I’d rather be lifted up than give someone a reason to smack me down.

2 Samuel 7:1-8:18:

  • 1-17 – David felt guilty that his house was nicer than God’s. He intended to build a temple, but God doesn’t want him to. God also establishes a covenant with David and his son who will be king after him. God promises to keep David’s line in the throne forever.
  • 18-29 – David humbly accepts God’s blessing of his house.

John 14:15-31:

  • 15-17 – Jesus is telling the disciples that the Lord will send the Holy Spirit to counsel and guide believers when Jesus is no longer on earth.
  • 27-29 – It would have been very scary for Jesus to simply leave and the disciples to not understand where he went. He offers them peace and tells them what will soon happen so the completion of what Jesus says will help them believe in his identity even more.

Psalm 119:33-48:

  • 37 – How many worthless things are our eyes drawn to?
  • The psalmist clearly has great love for God’s word and law. He is committed to them and recognizes how effective they are in leading him to truth and blessings.

Proverbs 15:33:

  • The phrase “humility comes before honor” is reminiscent of Jesus explaining that at a dinner party you should take one of the lesser seats. Often the host will move you to a place of more honor, but if you assume and take a place of honor, often times you will be humbled to a lesser seat.

May 24 – Daily Notes – Amanda

so mean

Why is God so mean?! Well…is he actually mean? Or does he simply expect us to follow his commands? A story in today’s 2 Samuel reading where Uzzah touches the ark to steady it from falling is a tough one to swallow. However, Uzzah knew the rules and chose not to follow them. Does that make God mean? Or Uzzah disobedient?

2 Samuel 4:1-6:23:

  • 2 – Benjamin keeps getting mentioned because that was the tribe Saul came from.
  • 5-12 – David’s wish was not to blot out all of Saul’s family from the earth. Others were simply misguided in thinking this. David had great honor for Saul and was best friends and had made a covenant of friendship and family loyalty with Jonathan.
  • 3-5 – Due to Abner’s efforts when he was on Team Saul, David did not start ruling over all of Israel until after he ruled in Judah for 7 years.
  • 6-10 – The Jebusites were so confident in their fortress’ strength that they taunted David’s army saying even the blind and lame could ward off attacks on the city. David ends up successfully taking the city.
  • 11-12 – David recognized where his power and blessings derived. This caused him to seek God’s guidance and follow his commands.
  • 1-4 – The ark of God (also known as the ark of the covenant) had been captured by the Philistines in a previous battle. David’s ability to return it to its rightful owners, the Israelites, was a huge accomplishment.
  • 6-7 – Though Uzzah was simply trying to steady the ark, it was well known that the penalty, even for Levites, for touching the ark, was death. Uzzah could have avoided this by carrying the ark on his shoulder with the rest of the Levites like he was supposed to and/or knowing the law of the ark better.
  • 14-15 – David’s attire is mentioned because his wild dancing most likely meant that he unintentionally exposed himself while dancing. He worshipped with such passion that he didn’t care about the consequences. Here’s an oldie but a goody based on this passage.

John 13:31-14:14:

  • 34-35 – Often people don’t recognize our faith. The main culprit is that we do not love one another.
  • 36-38 – Peter truly believes in his commitment to following Christ, but Jesus already knows Peter’s limits.
  • 6-7 – Another “I am” statement declaring that Jesus is the only way to the Father. Because they know and believe in Jesus, they also know the father.
  • 10-11 – This is clear proof of God as Trinity. The father and son are inseparable in substance and are fully connected. Knowing the Son means knowing the Father as well.
  • 13-14 – This passage begs the question, “well, what about when our prayers aren’t answered.” Many would argue that the prayer wasn’t in alignment with God’s will and this may be true. The great comfort in all this is that all earnest prayers come to fruition in eternity where there is no suffering or pain or hardship.

Psalm 119:17-32:

  • 25-32 – This is a perfect prayer for us as we attempt to read and understand God’s word. If our true prayer is to gain insight and to be strengthened by God’s word, he will surely give us these things.

Proverbs 15:31-32:

  • We often know the wise choice, whether it’s been told to us or it’s just obvious. It’s our choice to follow wisdom or choose another way.

May 23 – Daily Notes – Amanda

David is so close to becoming king over all of Israel, but things are never that simple, are they? Ish-bosheth is Saul’s son who is still alive and, in general, sons get to take over the crown. He even had a bit of a following supporting him. But there was one key thing missing from Ish-bosheth’s efforts to become king: God’s support. Be sure to read the whole story of what happened, it gets dicey.

2 Samuel 2:12-3:39:

  • 12-28 – Though Judah and Israel would split into two nations after Solomon’s reign, they are technically still united during this story. Abner is simply loyal to Saul’s line and is trying to keep them in power, this is why David’s men are fighting against Abner’s.
  • 2-5 – David had a lot of wives.
  • 7-11 – Because of Ish-bosheth’s accusation, Abner abruptly switches allegiances and promises his efforts and loyalty to guaranteeing David’s reign.
  • 20-30 – David believed Abner’s new-found loyalty to him, but Joab, one of David’s military leaders still had a score to settle with him. Abner felt that he was safe in David’s good graces, but Joab kills him. David washes his hands of any responsibility.

John 13:1-30:

  • 4-17 – Jesus lowers himself to the lowest household job. He becomes a servant to his followers to show them how they are to serve those they lead. Peter is resistant to Jesus’ acts of kindness because he doesn’t feel that this is an act meant for the Messiah.
  • 23 – John’s gospel is the only one that singles out or even refers to a “disciple whom Jesus loved”. Some say it may be John referring to himself.

Psalm 119:1-16:

  • This is, by far, the longest psalm.
  • In this section of the psalm, a number of different tactics for remaining pure and faithful are mentioned: praising God for his law, guarding your path, following God’s commands, knowing God’s word.

May 22 – Daily Notes – Amanda

patience

Apparently there are certain concepts that escape us if not repeated at least a thousand times. Proverbs seems to think so. Yet again, in today’s reading, we are reminded that wisdom is shown when we are patient and slow to act or speak. Foolishness is rash and fast moving and fails to think things through. I know I could stand to hear this message on repeat. How about you?

2 Samuel 1:1-2:11:

  • 11-16 – It seems very harsh to us that David kills the young Amalekite who, seemingly, was merciful to a dying Saul. David had deep regard for Saul as the anointed one of God and did not see it as the Amalekite’s job to kill him.
  • 1 – David was faithful in seeking God’s guidance before he would make moves.
  • 4 – David is now officially king over Judah. He needed for Saul and his sons to die and to be anointed. Now both have happened.
  • 4-7 – The men of Jabesh-gilead were the ones who took Saul’s body back from the Philistines after the Philistines tortured and dishonored it. David greatly appreciated this because it was honoring to God’s anointed, Saul.
  • 8-11 – One son of Saul was still alive, Ish-bosheth. A portion of the Israelites follow Ish-bosheth as their king, but the majority follow David.

John 12:20-50:

  • 23-24 – Jesus knew that in order to conquer sin and for his mission to multiply, he had to die.
  • 29 – This is the second recording of God speaking audibly directly to or about Jesus. The first is during his baptism.
  • 34-36 – The people could not understand how he could be the Christ and die since their law said the Christ would live forever. They couldn’t reconcile the two. Jesus simply encourages them to follow him while he’s still there.
  • 42-43 – A very convicting passage. Too often we care more about what others think than what pleases God.

Psalm 118:19-29:

  • 22 – This verse is later applied to Jesus. He was rejected, but ultimately our faith was built on him.
  • 24 – A popular, very quotable verse reminding us that each day is a gift from God and should be given back to him with praise.

Proverbs 15:27-28:

  • 28 – The continual theme in Proverbs of wisdom being slow and thoughtful is repeated here.

May 21 – Daily Notes – Amanda

sitting at feet

Mary, in every story she’s mentioned in, is completely devoted to Jesus. Nothing seems to be able to separate her from spending time with her Lord. In today’s John reading she’s even criticized for being too extravagant towards Jesus. Don’t hear Jesus’ reply as saying we shouldn’t serve and care for the poor. Instead, hear his reminder that our devotion to Christ should be paramount. If that is true, good works will be a given.

1 Samuel 29:1-31:13:

  • 1-6 – While David and the men were away from their villages, Negeb and Ziklag, the Amalekites, a perpetual enemy of the Israelites, took all the women and children captive. David’s men were furious with him when they returned. As a point of connection, the Amalekites were the people Saul was supposed to destroy completely but didn’t, which was why he was rejected as king.
  • 7-8 – David, unlike Saul, is faithful in asking God what he wants him to do before he does anything.
  • 9-25 – David’s men who were too exhausted stayed behind and didn’t fight. Interesting that Scripture refers to the men who, after their victory, didn’t want to return the exhausted men’s property to them, “wicked and worthless.” These were greedy men who wanted the credit for their hard work and to punish those who couldn’t fight that particular battle. David did not go for their proposition.
  • 1-7 – As was prophesied, Saul and all his sons died in one day. The Philistines seem to be in complete power at this point.
  • 8-10 – Because the Philistines couldn’t capture Saul alive, they torture and dishonor his corpse.
  • 11-13 – Normally burning a body would be seen as shameful, but it may have been done so the Philistines could not find him and take him back. The bodies weren’t completely burned because, later, David takes Saul and Jonathan’s bones and buries them in their family burial plot.

John 11:54-12:19:

  • 1-8 – This story is mentioned when Jesus raises Lazarus from the dead even though it is written to have occurred after that. Mary is known for her devotion to Jesus and has great reason to be considering he raised her brother from the dead. Many people question why Judas’ comments are dismissed since they sound pretty valid, but he actually had no intention of helping the poor with the money. He wanted it himself.
  • 12-15 – Though brief in this gospel, the Triumphal Entry into Jerusalem, which we call Palm Sunday, is one of few stories included in all four gospels. “Hosanna” means “save us”. The people of Jerusalem, who will soon have him killed, cry out for Jesus to save them. The donkey colt fulfilled a prophesy of the Messiah.

Psalm 118:1-18:

  • 5-6 – Cause and effect. I cry out to the Lord. The Lord comes through. I now have increased faith in God’s protection for me. This is how our faith should work yet we so often forget the great things he does for us.
  • 18 – A great perspective! Sometimes we endure consequences, but this doesn’t mean that God has forsaken or rejected us.

Proverbs 15:24-26:

  • 25 – Pride normally means we rely on ourselves but wisdom tells us the Lord is the only one we can rely on. Everything else crumbles.

What to Expect – Week 21

Phil Collins’ “Against All Odds” should be David’s theme song. He was the 8th son, Saul tried to kill him multiple times, and this week, we’ll read about Saul’s death, which should have meant David’s reign would start without a hitch. But it didn’t. Ish-bosheth, Saul’s only remaining son, causes a serious disruption, which almost leads to an early split of Israel.

It makes you wonder, what trials and difficulties you would face to fulfill what God had called you to?

Then, in our reading in John, we find one of Jesus’ most bold yet simple statements. In 14:6, Jesus says, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” This is a statement that has been white-washed, sanitized, and shape-shifted in our culture until it has no meaning. For some reason, it has even become offensive. But why? It is not as if it is secretive. It’s not even exclusive. Instead, it is a clear if/then statement. If you want to get to the Father, you need to do so by way of Christ. If you don’t, that’s your choice. The context doesn’t suggest that he’s joking or speaking in hyperbole. Instead, it is clear and decisive. But don’t miss verses 1-3 just above it. They remind us that there’s plenty of room in God’s house. He wants us to take the way through Jesus, there’s space for you and me too.

This week, you can also look forward to spending most of your time in Psalm 119. It is the longest psalm, by far, but it is packed to the gills with great pieces of truth. Take, for instance, Thursday’s reading. Verse 37 asks God to turn our eyes from worthless things. Ugh, couldn’t we all stand to ask that!?!

So, now that you’re about to start your 6th month of reading, what have you enjoyed most? What’s one thing you learned for the first time?

We’ve already gotten through so much of the Bible and there’s so much great stuff left to go. Let’s keep moving towards the finish line. It’s well worth it!