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.
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.
- 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.
- 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”.
- 4 – God does not create us wicked, but we sin and fall short. Thus the need for a day of judgment.
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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
One of the major misconceptions in Christianity and modern culture is what love is. Today’s reading in John regarding the adulteress woman make it clear. We often think love is total, no-questions-asked acceptance and support. When that is not love at all. In the story Jesus offers the woman mercy, knowing she has sinned, but he doesn’t say, “and it’s cool that you sinned.” He says, “Go and sin no more.” He loves her where she is and then instructs her to pursue holiness, which is God’s best for her. That is love.
1 Samuel 15:1-16:23:
- 1-3 – Through Samuel, God makes his instructions to Saul very clear. He is to completely destroy the city of Amalek including livestock, etc.
- 7-9 – God’s specific instruction was to destroy everything of the Amalekites. Saul spares the king and the best of the livestock because they were valuable to him. It is clear that he did not do what God asked.
- 10-11 – This is only the second time we hear God “regret” something. The first is just before he has Noah build the ark when he says that he regrets creating humans because they’re so wicked.
- 22-23 – The idea of God wanting obedience more than offerings becomes a theme throughout Scripture. It is talked about in Hosea as well as by Jesus to the religious leaders. We cannot purposely choose disobedience and then get out of it with burnt offerings.
- 24 – Humans trusting anything and everything other than God is also a theme throughout Scripture. It’s the basis of the first sins of Adam and Eve and continues throughout Scripture.
- 1 – Note that Jesse is from Bethlehem, which becomes the birthplace of Jesus. This is not a coincidence.
- 6-7 – Samuel and even most of us today, expect our leaders to be tall, strong, and attractive. Saul fit the part as did Eliab and Eliab was the oldest son, which would make most sense as a leader. But God judges us differently. He doesn’t care about our appearance, but about the contents of our heart.
- 10-13 – This is a fairly quick story considering its significance. David must have felt rejected that the priest comes to your family and your father doesn’t even bother to have you meet him. Also, imagine the jealousy of the 7 older brothers who were not chosen as king. Note that David received the same Holy Spirit who guides believers today.
- 14-23 – Some may ask why God would torture Saul with an evil spirit, but God also provided the means by which he could be soothed from it and it also provided a way for David to get near the king.
- 53-11 – There is a portion in Mark and this portion in John that both say they were not included in the earliest manuscripts. This means that they were not included in the first written accounts of these gospels. They were either found later or possibly written later. It is important to note that those who formed and finalized the canon felt that this portion of Scripture was beneficial for salvation and knowledge of Christ.
- 2-11 – Yet again, the religious leaders try to catch Jesus disobeying Mosaic Law. Instead of condemning the woman based on Mosaic Law, he finds a faithful way to show grace. It is key that he does not condone her sin. He forgives her and then instructs her to leave that sin behind.
- 12 – One of Jesus’ “I am” statements that reveals something about who he is. Light shines in the darkness and reveals sins. Life is found when we are freed from sin.
- 13-20 – John puts a large emphasis on where Jesus was from and where he was going. He and the Father seem to be the only ones fully in the loop and the religious leaders are totally out of it.
- This Psalm was most likely written for David’s appointment as king of Israel and the priest’s installation. It was most likely used for subsequent kings’ initiations too.
Like in today’s reading from John, Jesus and the religious authorities were in a continual battle and a great deal of it revolved around priorities. The Pharisees and Sadducees knew God’s word and it said you could not work on the Sabbath. Jesus, on the other hand, believed the law’s importance and authority had limits, particularly in light of the suffering of another human. Today, Jesus prioritized a crippled man’s healing over the law. The religious authorities did not approve.
1 Samuel 1:1-2:21:
- 5 – It was not unusual for a man to abandon a barren wife.
- 1-8 – Note the similarities between these two women and Rachel and Leah. The less loved wife is able to bear children. Rivalry ensues. But notice how differently Hannah deals with her situation than Rachel.
- 8 – Elkanah sounds like a wonderful, loving man.
- 11 – Hannah is offering the son she hopes for up as a Nazirite, dedicated to the Lord’s service, like Samson.
- 19-20 – Obviously a huge answer to prayer! Note that in ancient Israelite culture, name’s had deep meaning. We’ve seen this a lot. Name’s were not given frivolously, but with great purpose and thought.
- 24-28 – What an incredibly difficult follow through! Hannah desperately wanted a son, but promised him to God’s service. She follows through with her promise and gives Samuel to the Lord. I’m not sure that I could do the same.
- 1-10 – The deep faith and commitment to God expressed in her prayer makes it a little more clear how she was able to keep her promise.
- 12-17 – The sons of Eli would have been priests as well and were not following the laws of how to sacrifice, but instead, taking the parts of the sacrifice that were meant for God.
- 2-9 – We often read these stories and think they’re neat or nice but fail to feel the weight of it. The man beside the pool had been an invalid for 38 years! 38 years is a long time to be sick or disabled! And then suddenly, with just a word, he is able to walk. That’s incredible!
- 9-17 – The religious leaders were very intent on keeping the law. Note that they did not rejoice that the crippled man was healed, they noticed his infraction of picking up his mat. We can tend to be pretty bad about that too. “Sin no more” is also an interesting statement because you wonder what sin of this man Jesus is referring to. He says the same thing to the woman at the well, but he was addressing a specific sin.
- The continuation of this Psalm tells more of the story of God’s faithfulness to the Israelites through their escape from Egypt and his provision for them in the desert. If you were an Israelite reading or hearing this, it would be a great reminder of the lengths to which God was willing to go to save you.
- Quick reactions, decisions, and emotions continue to be associated with folly.
In today’s Luke reading, Jesus talks about David’s relationship to and knowledge of the Messiah in a similar way that we have celebrity endorsements. It gives validity to choosing All Spice, Oil of Olay or Ford for us. For the Jews, associating something with King David gave it automatic clout.
- 21-29 – The tribes of Reuben, Gad, and half of the tribe of Manasseh were on the opposite side of the Jordan from the rest of the tribes. They feared that this physical barrier would eventually cause the other tribes to disown them. The altar they built was not intended to compete with the true altar, but as a reminder that they too worshipped God.
- 12-13 – God’s desire was to separate the Israelites from other people groups because he knew if they intermingled, the other groups would turn the Israelites to other gods. His desire was to protect them. If they chose not to follow his directions, he could not protect them from the consequences he lists.
- 27-40 – Once again, Jesus goes beyond the Mosaic Law. He doesn’t discount it, but moves beyond it. Where the Sadducees, who were known for putting a very heavy emphasis on the Torah (the first 5 books of the Bible), were focused on the details of the law, Jesus shifts to what it will be like during the resurrection. At the time, the issue they brought up will no longer be an issue.
- 41-44 – David was a highly respected legend to the Jews of Jesus’ time. Here, because of their admiration for David, he makes it clear that even David submitted to the authority of the Messiah.
- This Psalm reminds its readers of the covenant made with David that his line would be on the throne of Israel for all generations. This Psalm is most likely written for the Israelites while in exile. They were most likely questioning the validity of God’s promise.
- 19 – This reminds us that it can quickly become apparent what kind of company you keep depending on whether or not they consider your attempts to turn away from evil an abomination or not.
God gave the Israelites 613 laws – both do’s and dont’s. Here’s a brief explanation of why they’re there, which ones we’re supposed to follow, and a little tax code…just kidding…no tax code. Just making sure you’re paying attention.
Some of the laws Moses is sharing with the Israelites in today’s Deuteronomy reading may sound repetitive…because they are. We’ve heard them in Leviticus when he originally gave them the law. And while it may seem redundant, I know I sometimes have to hear things more than once to get it right. How about you?
- Not being allowed to enter the assembly of God is the focus of the first part of the reading. There are two explanations of what this might refer to. Some people say the phrase means that those are the people who are not allowed to marry, but more likely, this is describing the people who are not allowed to participate in Israel’s cultural practices such as military and legal affairs.
- 1-4 – This should not be read as encouragement to divorce. In the New Testament Jesus explains that Moses gave instructions for divorce because the Israelites’ hearts were hard. In other words, they were doing it anyway so Moses gave them parameters. These are Moses’ parameters.
- 16 – Certain parts of Scripture explain that sins are passed down through generations and/or certain consequences (like not being a part of the assembly of God) can be passed down. This, however, prohibits a father being killed for his son’s sins and vice versa.
- 19-22 – The Israelites are continually reminded to provide for travelers, orphans, and widows because they were once in a position where they could not provide for themselves.
- 7-10 – One of the few times in Scripture where a woman disrespects a man. And it’s funny that the man’s house is now called “the house of him who had his sandal pulled off” (though it wasn’t funny at the time).
- 13-16 – Weights were used for buying and selling agricultural products. Some people would try to cheat by using an unfair weight and causing others to pay too much for what they received.
- 13-15 – Tyre and Sidon were gentile cities while Chorazin, Bethsaida, and Capernaum were all Jewish cities who had seen miracles and heard Jesus’ preaching. The Jewish cities, despite their exposure to Jesus refused to repent. Jesus uses these gentile cities, who the Israelites looked down upon because they were not God’s chosen people, to show the unrepentant cities that his message trumped their heritage and self-righteousness.
- 25-37 – This is the parable of the Good Samaritan. Samaritans were despised by the Jews. In our context it might read that a pastor, and a prominent church member passed by the injured man, but a drug dealer took care of him.
- 12 – We often want the wealth and success of someone who gained it illegitimately because it seemed easy, but we should find joy in the fruit born by righteous efforts.
As has been a continual theme throughout the first 5 books of the Bible, known as the Torah, God asks the Israelites to go to any and every length to avoid temptations that would draw them towards other gods. We think some of them sound extreme, but we could probably stand to cut a few things out of our lives that tempt us away from God.
- 1-3 – We often wonder if God puts us through tests. Though our theology would lean towards “no”, this is an example of the Israelites’ faith being tested through false prophets.
- 6-11 – The Israelites were instructed to go to any length to not be led away from God. We could probably cut certain things out of our lives in order to avoid being tempted by other gods.
- The rules Moses is telling the Israelites are not new ones. He is reiterating ones that were given in Leviticus.
- 28-29 – Their tithe was used to take care of those who could not take care of themselves.
- 1 – The 7th year was known as the Jubilee when all debts were forgiven and possessions were returned to their rightful owner.
- 6 – It was important for the Israelites not to borrow from anyone else so that no one else could boast that they had contributed to Israel’s wealth or prosperity. God alone was the giver of their blessings.
- 13 – This continual reminder should keep Israel from ever having pride in their own accomplishments but in God’s alone.
- 48 – Here Jesus attributes the woman’s healing to her own faith. Sometimes he would attribute the miracle to the person and sometimes to God. What makes this difference?
- Jesus tells Jairus and his wife not to tell of the miracle he performed but he did not tell the bleeding woman not to tell anyone.
- 20-21 – Often we feel alone and desperate when we are at our lowest, but this reminds us that God raises up again in time.
Abraham Lincoln’s “Gettysburg Address”, Marc Antony’s speech beginning “Friends, Romans, Countrymen”, and now you’ll know Moses’ Deuteronomy. This is Moses’ most important speech. It is also his farewell speech. Check it out: