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