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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
The story in John today is incredible! The young man Jesus heals makes a powerful statement of faith as he testifies to what Jesus has done in his life. As the Pharisees, trying to indict Jesus, question the young man, he replies to them by saying, “All I know is I once was blind but now I see.” He basically says, “you do the math.” We all have a “I once was ________ but now I ________” story. What if we all shared them?
1 Samuel 20:1-21:15:
- 1-23 – Once again, Jonathan puts himself at risk to act as a go-between for David and Saul. David feared attending Saul’s dinner because Saul most likely wanted to harm him so Jonathan would feel out his father. Note that Jonathan makes a covenant with David here so that David won’t destroy all of Jonathan’s family. This becomes significant later.
- 41-42 – Jonathan and David were grieved that they would no longer get to see each other since Saul confirmed that he wanted to kill David. David had to flee, but they agreed that they would remain friends.
- 1-6 – David and his crew eat the holy bread which is supposed to be reserved only for the priests, but they were very hungry. Jesus refers to this when the religious leaders get mad at him for picking grain on the Sabbath.
- 2 – It was common belief that any physical or mental disability was caused by sin.
- 5 – Another I am statement. Jesus refers to himself as “the light of the world.” This is why he says it is day now – because he was present. He’s referring to “night” as when he is no longer on the earth.
- 21-23 – Whether the parents knew the healing was from Jesus or not, they were more afraid of the religious leaders than they were loyal to Jesus.
- 25 – A beautiful statement of faith! This is one we can all take note from. When people argue the validity of God or the saving power of Christ, all we need to say is, “I don’t know much. All I know is I once was blind but now I see.” Feel free to fill in your own story of “blindness”.
- 34 – The religious leaders find a way to discount the man’s story saying he is simply a sinner and they can’t learn anything from him.
- These psalms simply recount various ways God is great. This is a great way to write your own psalm of praise. Simply recall the various ways God has been great in your life.
- 16-17 – Beautiful verses explaining where real value lies.
You know when a little kids tells you he’s Batman? It’s cute, but you know he’s actually not and you just play along with it. Well…this is pretty much exactly the opposite thing that happens with Jesus in today’s John reading. He calls himself “I am” and says he came before Abraham, the original, and highly lauded patriarch. The religious leaders did NOT think it was cute and did not go along with it…but it was true. He truly was “I am”.
1 Samuel 18:5-19:24:
- 7-9 – David’s success pleased Saul until it threatened his own.
- 10-11 – The first, but not last, time Saul tries to injure or kill David.
- 16 – David “went out and came in before them” meaning he led them in battle. He did not hide behind, but led them with courage. This built trust and affection for him.
- 20-29 – Saul thought that he could set David up for failure and possibly death by sending him to battle Philistines in order to win his daughter as a wife. Instead, David succeeded in the mission and received Saul’s daughter as a wife.
- 1-7 – Jonathan took a large risk in speaking favorably about David to Saul, his father. Saul had tried to injure and kill David previously.
- 8-10 – David’s favor with Saul was short-lived and he was forced to flee again when Saul tried to injure him again.
- 34-36 – Being a slave to sin means that it has power over you and controls you. Sin is that powerful. When we allow it into our lives and takes power over us. Jesus is the only one who can free us from this slavery.
- 42-43 – Jesus is much more open in the gospel of John about his relationship to God – specifically, father/son.
- 52-53 – The Jews held Abraham in such high esteem that it was impossible for them to view this man from Nazareth as greater than Abraham.
- 58 – Jesus refers to himself here as “I am” which is what God referred to himself as when Moses asked who, should I tell the Pharaoh, sent me. This makes the Jews mad and further solidifies that he is the Son of God.
- This psalm describes someone who is living a righteous, upright life. The key component to all the greatness is fearing God and following his commands. This is reiterated throughout Scripture.
- When we are already steeped in sin, we often avoid those who are wise or righteous because we don’t want to be called out and have to abandon our sin. This behavior becomes a deeper and deeper hole we dig for ourselves.
You’ve heard this story 1,000 times, but don’t skim over it. David and Goliath is told as a children’s story most often because we can be brave and that’s good stuff. But listen to the dialogue. What is David’s reasoning for facing a giant against all odds? Who was this David kid anyway? Take the time to read this story like it was the first time.
1 Samuel 17:1-18:4:
- 4 – Some say Goliath may have been up to 9 feet tall.
- 26-27 – David was most concerned that the Philistines were opposing God’s army, the Israelites. He couldn’t believe or stand this type of offense.
- 38-40 – It seems that Saul is trying to do all he can for David. Certainly he felt like it might look bad on him to send a young boy out to be killed by a veteran warrior who was also a giant.
- 45-47 – David went to battle in the name of the Lord with every confidence that the Lord would sustain and proper him against Goliath.
- 1-4 – Jonathan was Saul’s son but became David’s best friend. Theirs is one of the greatest stories of friendship in all of Scripture.
- 23-24 – Just like us, the people who lived when Jesus did also needed to believe that he was the Son of God and Savior of the world.
- This Psalm lists off a number of reasons why God is great and worthy to be followed and praised. It gives hope to believers and reminds us of the lengths God will go to in order to care for his people.
- 10 – Proverbs 1:7 also says that the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom. This makes sense considering God leads us into protection and good things. To fear and obey him would obviously help us make wise decisions.
- Sheol was the name of the place people thought the dead went. Abaddon was a angel said to be in charge of an army of locusts. He is also mentioned in Revelation.
Other than Penecostal churches, in modern Christianity, we talk very little about the Holy Spirit, mostly because we don’t know much about it. The Holy Spirit is mysterious and powerful and that often scares us. But Jesus describes a Holy Spirit as a gift to be given and calls the Holy Spirit “even greater” than him. In verse 37-39 of today’s John reading, there’s a very cool description of what happens to people when the Holy Spirit comes. What does that description mean to you?
1 Samuel 13:23-14:52:
- 23 – A garrison is a group of troops stationed in a certain area to defend it.
- 6 – Jonathan had faith that God could offer them victory even though only he and his armor-bearer were opposing the group of Philistines.
- 7-15 – Throughout the Bible, many characters have opportunities for God to confirm or deny that something will happen. Here, the Philistines response is Jonathan’s cue for whether or not he will have victory.
- 24-30 – Saul makes a hasty decision to deny his troops food. This is obviously problematic because they were engaged in strenuous activity. Saul also doesn’t assure that Jonathan knows about the oath. Saul’s quick, ill-advised decisions have now caused problems twice.
- 36-37 – Like Jonathan, Saul reaches out to the Lord for guidance in battle. Unlike with Jonathan, God does not give an answer.
- 38-44 – Because of Saul’s hasty oath, Jonathan must die since he unknowingly ate when he wasn’t supposed to. Saul offers to cast lots so that he might take the fall, but the sentence falls on Jonathan.
- 45-46 – The Israelites speak out against the injustice against Jonathan because they believe him to be responsible for the great victory over the Philistines.
- 31 – Meant to be a sarcastic question with the understanding that Jesus was the Christ.
- 37-39 – The Holy Spirit was given to the believers on Pentecost after Jesus ascended to heaven.
- 41-42 – Clearly the crowd did not know where Jesus was born or what his lineage was.
- 45-52 – The Pharisees’ sense of status made them believe that they would be the first to recognize a Messiah and that he would play by the same rules as them.
- 1-20 – David asks for punishment for those who he’s been kind to but have shown hate to him.
- 21-31 – David, once again, puts his trust in God to protect and provide for him in the midst of enemies.
- 5 – Each one of us could probably recall a specific piece of advice from our parents we did not listen to and wish we would have. Wisdom is knowing to listen to that advice.