David insists on paying Araunah for his property though Araunah offers it up freely. David knew he needed to actually make a personal sacrifice in order to feel the weight of his sin. If he simply sacrificed Araunah’s property, he wouldn’t feel it. We often do not feel the weight of our sin unless we actually feel the consequences. This is why consequences are often ultimately beneficial.
2 Samuel 23:24-24:25:
- 1-9 – Though it seems that God instructs David to number the people, he must have done it differently than the Lord instructed him because ultimately the act is sinful.
- 14-17 – David offers the people up for his sin until he sees the destruction and then he tries to turn it back towards him.
- 21-25 – Though Araunah kindly offered to give David all he needed for the sacrifice. David knew he needed to have some skin in the game for his sacrifice to count.
- 1-10 – Note that when Jesus was alive, the disciples often had trouble healing people because of their lack of faith. Here, the disciples’ faith is strong enough to heal because their faith has been strengthened by the fulfillment of Jesus’ words and the presence of the Holy Spirit.
- 16 – It wasn’t necessarily the faith of the lame man that caused him to be healed. It isn’t made clear if he had faith, but the disciples had faith enough for him.
- 2 – A servant would look to a master to instruct and provide for them. God mercifully instructs us and gives us what we need.
- 22 – Good sense is life giving because it assures we make decisions that will prosper us. Folly, on the other hand, comes when we listen to unwise counsel.
Can you imagine if 3,000 people came to faith from a sermon today? That would be incredible!! Peter’s explanation of Jesus as the Messiah was convincing enough to help tons of people put their faith in Christ. And just think, this is way before any type of mass communication or even microphones. The good news was that powerful then and it still is today!
2 Samuel 22:21-23:23:
- 21-7 – David’s song of praise to God continues from yesterday’s reading.
- 25-27 – David portrays God’s reactions as equivalent to the actions of the human. Good behavior receives favor. Poor behavior receives punishment.
- 1-7 – These were not David’s last words before death but the last of that song. We see that later he asks for a drink.
- 14-17 – Bethlehem was David’s hometown so he wanted something from home. His request caused people to break through the camp and apparently blood was shed. David was not pleased at the consequences of his request.
- 1-4 – At the end of the gospels, Jesus tells the disciples he is going away but will send a Helper who is even better than him. The entrance of the Holy Spirit is the fulfillment of that promise.
- 17-21 – Peter interprets the prophecy from Joel correctly. Now that the Holy Spirit is present, the disciples began to see even more miracles and powerful conversions.
- 22-36 – Peter speaks directly to Israelites who did not believe in Jesus but who revered David. David was a national hero and all the connections the Messiah was supposed to have to David were fulfilled in Jesus.
- 37-41 – About 3,000 of the Israelites confessed Christ as Savior and were baptized. Whether they were convinced by the resurrection, guidance of the Holy Spirit, or proven connection to David doesn’t matter. They’re conversions are a testament to the lengths to which God will go to be in connection with humanity.
- 42-47 – These new believers became the first Christian church. These verses are often used as a basis for how we should run churches today.
- This psalm is written for Jews making their pilgrimage to the temple in Jerusalem for one of the three annual festivals (Passover, The Feast of Weeks, The Feast of Booths) that required being at the temple.
The Holy Spirit is often referred to as a burning fire or rushing wind. In Acts, the Holy Spirit is given to the early believers, so you can imagine that this book gets pretty rowdy. Just imagine a big group of new believers who are eager to spread the message of Christ as quickly as possible because they think he’s coming back soon. How eager would we be to share Christ if we had a similar mindset?
2 Samuel 20:14-22:20:
- 14-22 – Though Sheba’s fate is a little unsettling, the wise woman assures that her city is not attacked.
- 1-9 – It was not unusual for people to have to pay for the sins of their parents or grandparents. Saul’s offspring pay the ultimate price.
- 10-14 – Restoring Saul and Jonathan’s bones to their family to be buried where they belonged was an act to honor Saul.
- 2-20 – David’s song here is almost identical to Psalm 18. David gives glory to God for his victories and recalls his relationship with God over time.
- 1 – Acts is considered a second section of the gospel of Luke, most likely written by the same author.
- 11 – Jesus doesn’t die again after his resurrection. He simply ascends to heaven on a cloud and the disciples are told that this is how he will return as well. This is what we are to watch for.
- 12-14 – The disciples continued to pray and meet together after Jesus left.
- 21-26 – Matthias is chosen as the new 12th disciple to fill Judas’ place.
- Our pride often tells us we deserve or are capable of more than we’re called to. Humility allows us to wisely and graciously take what God gives us.
It is easy to get caught up in what is and isn’t fair in the Bible. Often times we discount the things that aren’t fair and even sometimes wonder if the unfairness of it somehow makes God not good. For instance, in today’s 2 Samuel reading, David shuns some of his concubines that his son slept with. In other words, the concubines are punished for someone else’s poor behavior. It’s not fair. In these situations we have to remember that we’re reading about the actions of sinful people, not God. It’s also important not to place our own cultural understandings on this very different culture.
2 Samuel 19:11-20:13:
- 11-15 – David is letting the Israelites who deserted him and followed Absalom know that he will accept them back.
- 13 – Amasa was Absalom’s military leader. David ousts Joab after he kills Absalom.
- 18-23 – Shimei was the man David encountered while fleeing Jerusalem who shouted and cursed at David.
- 24-30 – During David’s escape Ziba accused Mephibosheth of supporting Absalom so David gave Ziba all their land. Now he is somewhat reconciling.
- 41-43 – As the Israelites welcome back David as king, they begin to fight over who should get to welcome him first.
- 3 – These are the women Absalom had sex with while David was away. Though it wasn’t their choice, David still shuns them as partners, but continues to provide for them.
- 7 – Peter and the unnamed disciple are mentioned together again. Once again, the unnamed disciple makes the discovery and Peter takes extreme action to get to Jesus.
- 15-19 – Some say that Jesus asked Peter if he loved him three times as a sign that he forgave him for the three times he denied Christ during his trial.
- 25 – Sure makes you wonder what else he did.
- Our attempts at peace are not always received, but we should continue to try.
- It is rare that we put much of anything above the pursuit of wealth, but this proverb confirms that wisdom and understanding are far more valuable.
Today is the last day of the marathon psalm, Psalm 119! But isn’t it a great one!?! It becomes so obvious the deep and abiding love the psalmist has for Scripture. It is a lamp to his feet and a light to his path. Throughout the psalm, the writer makes it clear that he believes the law of God’s word is perfect and can guide us to live in a righteous manner. What would it look like if our love of Scripture was this deep?
2 Samuel 18:1-19:10:
- 33 – David is deeply grieved at the loss of his son. Just like with Saul, he is able to forgive Absalom for wanting to kill him.
- 1-8 – Joab is angry with David and explains to him that it won’t sit well with his followers that he is more saddened by Absalom’s death than happy for their hard work in victory.
- 4 – Like at Jesus’ trial, this disciple other than Peter is unnamed, but present.
- 6-7 – An interesting note on Jesus’ burial cloths being left behind in the tomb is that when Lazarus was raised from the dead, he came out of the tomb still wrapped in burial cloths. Whether significant or not, it’s an interesting contrast.
- 14 – No one who encounters Jesus after his resurrection recognizes him immediately.
- 24-29 – We, like Thomas, often need proof in order to have faith. Jesus reminds Thomas that those who believe without seeing are blessed.
- 30-31 – It’s powerful to think that the gospels were written so people like you and me would believe in Jesus.
- Psalm 119 is, by far, the longest psalm in Scripture. Over and over again, in a variety of ways, the psalmist explains his deep love and commitment to Scripture. This truly must have been a great, devoted love.
Crucifixion was a brutal and torturous death. It was designed to be painful and humiliating. One of the normal practices of the Romans was to eventually speed up the process and break the legs of the crucified person. The Romans didn’t break Jesus’ legs because he was already dead. Check out why that was important here.
2 Samuel 17:1-29:
- 1-14 – Ahithophel was an advisor to David but defected to Absalom’s side. Hushai was a false advisor to Absalom who actually was on David’s side. Hushai has built trust with Absalom, but is actually working towards his defeat.
- There are a lot of names and places in today’s story (here’s a cheat sheet), which can make it hard to follow. It’s important to know that God continually provides protection and resources for David. He continues to keep him one step ahead of Absalom kind of like he did with Saul. Absalom has now lost his key advisor, Ahithophel, and is not using his proven military leader, Joab.
- 24 – This is a fulfillment of Psalm 22:18. If the Jews had been in charge of the crucifixion, they might have known that. The Romans would not have.
- 31-33 – Crucifixion would work faster if someone’s legs were broken. During crucifixion, what actually killed you was suffocation. As painful as it was, you would have to push yourself up with your legs on the nail in your feet or ankles and take a breath. If your legs were broken, you couldn’t push up and you would suffocate.
- 38 – “For fear of the Jews” refers to the religious leadership who was trying to squash the Jesus movement and ultimately orchestrated Jesus’ death.
- 146 – This seems like a more sincere version of the prayer many of us have prayed at some point, “Lord, save me from this one thing and I’ll serve you forever.”
- The psalmist continually contrasts his commitment to and love for God’s word with those who do not have regard for God’s word.
- The irony here is that at least half of the Kings of Israel are listed as “doing evil in the sight of the Lord.” The throne was established by God, but many of the kings fail to live up to their calling.
Was Pilate a good guy? Bad buy? Or helpless pawn? I’ve always believed he was this big, powerful, hateful guy happy to kill Jesus. After today’s reading though, honestly, it’s hard to say. In John’s gospel, he is depicted as fairly tormented and definitely asserts his position on Jesus’ crucifixion with what he writes on the sign above Jesus’ head. What do you think?
2 Samuel 15:23-16:23:
- 31- Ahithophel had been an advisor for David, but here deserts him for Absalom. It is likely Psalm 41:9 and 55:12-14 are written about Ahithophel.
- 32-37 – David sends Hushai to work with Absalom to counter act Ahithophel’s counsel. Hushai remains faithful to David.
- 1-4 – Mephibosheth is Jonathan’s son who David showed kindness to after Saul and Jonathan died. Mephibosheth’s servant, Ziba, says Mephibosheth is also siding against David. David grants Ziba a great deal of wealth.
- 5-14 – Any king would have been well within his rights to kill Shimei for cursing him. David, thinking that God could have sent this person, allows the persecution.
- 23 – An interesting verse – it does not say that Ahithophel does consult God, it says that he is like one who consulted with God.
- 27 – The first denial was in yesterday’s reading.
- 29-32 – Pilate, a Roman official, had no interest in the Jews’ accusations. Pilate was a low-ranking official. Though his existence has been historically confirmed, if not for this incident with Jesus, there would have been little record of him.
- 36 – Jesus’ power comes from God, not from normal earthly forces like money, military prowess, or strength. This is why he didn’t have an army of followers fighting to set him free.
- 11 – In order to fulfill his purpose, God gave Pilate authority over Jesus’ future. Pilate is clearly tormented over this decision he’s been given.
- 19 – It seems that Pilate may have had some sort of belief in Christ. The Jews did not want the inscription he wrote because it seemed definitive when they were trying to argue that he was a liar.
- 127 – A lofty thought for us in consumer-driven America.
- 11 – Many tax collectors and others who worked with money would cheat on the weights so people had to pay far more than what was actually owed.
We often envision characters in the Bible as having been perfect. Why would they put their stories in the Bible if they weren’t? Well…the story going on in 2 Samuel will set you straight real fast. Also, if you want to feel better about your family dynamics, dive right in.
2 Samuel 14:1-15:22:
- 1-11 – Very similarly to Nathan’s story about the poor man who had one lamb, the woman from Tekoa tells a story that parallel’s David’s situation with his sons. Amnon is dead and Absalom is banished but would be killed if he returned.
- 27 – Absalom named his daughter after his sister.
- 28-33 – Absalom slowly works his way into good standing with his father David.
- 1-12 – Absalom is smart and sneaky and begins to build a following so he can overtake the throne.
- 13-22 – David recognizes the danger of Absalom having a large following. Though he doesn’t give up the throne, he does retreat so he can’t be found.
- 2 – Many wonder how Judas knew where to find Jesus. Though we view Judas as a horrible person because he betrays Jesus, as a disciple, he was actually a close friend of Jesus’ and knew his patterns and regular places.
- 10-11 – Another example of Peter’s zealous action. Once again he wants to stop Jesus from his fate. Though certainly done with good intentions, Jesus reminds him that he has a greater purpose that Peter will not be able to stop.
- 14 – Look back on May 20th, John 11:49-50. It’s still uncertain if Caiaphas believed in Jesus as the Messiah or not, but he clearly had insight into what was to come.
- 15-17 – This is the only mention of another disciple going with Peter to the trial. It is interesting that his name is not mentioned. Some people believe that this disciple as well as the “beloved disciple” is John, the writer of the gospel.
- 97-104 – Though the psalmist sounds like a bit of a bragger here, note that he’s actually attributing all his success and righteousness to God’s law.
- 105 – A beautiful image of God’s word making our path through life easier and more clear. And it is responsible for a rockin Amy Grant song.
- 9 – A great image of the relationship we’re allowed to share with God in creating our future.
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.
- 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?
- 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.
- 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.
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!!