Archive for June, 2018

2 Samuel 11:1-27 (Part 3 of 5)
David Sins with Bathsheba & Arranges Uriah’s Death

One sin begets another. No better laboratory for testing the validity of this fact is our own children when they are little. They learn to lie at such an early age. If you have ever wondered about one of the bedrock theological tenets of the Christian faith, the depravity of man (the fact that we are born into sin and are sinners from birth), you have to look no further than our children. Like I said, they learn to lie at a very early age. Often as early as two years old, they learn that lying can (at least initially) get them out of trouble (time out, a whipping, the taking away of a toy, being sent to your room for an early nap, etc.) or allow you to continue possessing something desired by another child. The ones where something get broken can be hilarious lies when it comes to a young child. They tell a lie like their little baby brother or sister that is barely crawling did it or that some stranger or a ghost came in their room and did it. Being parents, we see that the child is lying so we play along and then see if they can maintain the lie.

We make them think through the lie. About all the possibilities that came before and after the act of the lie. It can be so hilarious watching a little 2, 3 or 4 year old mind trying to construct this alternate reality in their mind on the fly. Being adults with experience with the world, we always win these episodes because the child cannot maintain the consistency of the lie. Finally, they break down and admit they did the bad thing – the breaking of a lamp, a toy, doing something they shouldn’t be doing, etc. They tell a lie and then they have to tell other lies just to maintain the original lie and gets to be way too much for their little minds to handle.

When you think about it, the same is true for us adults as well. Murderers are always found out because it is impossible to maintain a lie. Adulterers are always ultimately exposed because lies are so hard to maintain. Addicts cannot lie about their addictions for too long because the lies pile up and when one lie is exposed the whole deck of lies comes crumbling down. Lies are always destructive and are a form of self-protection for the perpetrator of a wrong. They protect us but hurt others. We lie to make ourselves look better, to save face, to save position, to save a relationship that we value, you name it. It’s all about self-preservation, maintaining the current status quo. Lies prevent change from happening to our world as the result of our completed actions of selfishness. We learn it young. As I said, we learn it as early as we can put sentences together as a child.

That was the thing that I thought of this morning as I read 2 Samuel 11 for the third of five times – how lying is about selfish pride and self-preservation. Once we start lying about something, we often have to back up one lie with another to the point that we begin to believe lies as the truth. We lose a piece of ourselves when we lie. We all do it. Everyday. We may try to minimize it by saying it’s harmless lie, a white lie, or whatever, but the mountain of lies that we tell in a lifetime eat away at our soul and condemns us before an honest and pure God.

Chapter 11
1 In the spring of the year, when kings normally go out to war, David sent Joab and the Israelite army to fight the Ammonites. They destroyed the Ammonite army and laid siege to the city of Rabbah. However, David stayed behind in Jerusalem.

2 Late one afternoon, after his midday rest, David got out of bed and was walking on the roof of the palace. As he looked out over the city, he noticed a woman of unusual beauty taking a bath. 3 He sent someone to find out who she was, and he was told, “She is Bathsheba, the daughter of Eliam and the wife of Uriah the Hittite.” 4 Then David sent messengers to get her; and when she came to the palace, he slept with her. She had just completed the purification rites after having her menstrual period. Then she returned home. 5 Later, when Bathsheba discovered that she was pregnant, she sent David a message, saying, “I’m pregnant.”

6 Then David sent word to Joab: “Send me Uriah the Hittite.” So Joab sent him to David. 7 When Uriah arrived, David asked him how Joab and the army were getting along and how the war was progressing. 8 Then he told Uriah, “Go on home and relax.[b]” David even sent a gift to Uriah after he had left the palace. 9 But Uriah didn’t go home. He slept that night at the palace entrance with the king’s palace guard.

10 When David heard that Uriah had not gone home, he summoned him and asked, “What’s the matter? Why didn’t you go home last night after being away for so long?”

11 Uriah replied, “The Ark and the armies of Israel and Judah are living in tents,[c] and Joab and my master’s men are camping in the open fields. How could I go home to wine and dine and sleep with my wife? I swear that I would never do such a thing.”

12 “Well, stay here today,” David told him, “and tomorrow you may return to the army.” So Uriah stayed in Jerusalem that day and the next. 13 Then David invited him to dinner and got him drunk. But even then he couldn’t get Uriah to go home to his wife. Again he slept at the palace entrance with the king’s palace guard.
David Arranges for Uriah’s Death

14 So the next morning David wrote a letter to Joab and gave it to Uriah to deliver. 15 The letter instructed Joab, “Station Uriah on the front lines where the battle is fiercest. Then pull back so that he will be killed.” 16 So Joab assigned Uriah to a spot close to the city wall where he knew the enemy’s strongest men were fighting. 17 And when the enemy soldiers came out of the city to fight, Uriah the Hittite was killed along with several other Israelite soldiers.

18 Then Joab sent a battle report to David. 19 He told his messenger, “Report all the news of the battle to the king. 20 But he might get angry and ask, ‘Why did the troops go so close to the city? Didn’t they know there would be shooting from the walls? 21 Wasn’t Abimelech son of Gideon[d] killed at Thebez by a woman who threw a millstone down on him from the wall? Why would you get so close to the wall?’ Then tell him, ‘Uriah the Hittite was killed, too.’”

22 So the messenger went to Jerusalem and gave a complete report to David. 23 “The enemy came out against us in the open fields,” he said. “And as we chased them back to the city gate, 24 the archers on the wall shot arrows at us. Some of the king’s men were killed, including Uriah the Hittite.”

25 “Well, tell Joab not to be discouraged,” David said. “The sword devours this one today and that one tomorrow! Fight harder next time, and conquer the city!”

26 When Uriah’s wife heard that her husband was dead, she mourned for him. 27 When the period of mourning was over, David sent for her and brought her to the palace, and she became one of his wives. Then she gave birth to a son. But the Lord was displeased with what David had done.

In this passage, we see that David tried to cover up his sin by deceiving others. We see that David could have chosen to stop and turn from evil at any stage along the way. However, once sin gets started, it is hard to stop. The deeper the mess, the less we want to admit that we caused it. It is much easier to stop sliding down a hill when you are near the top than when you are further down the hill. The best solution is to stop sin before it starts.

David committed sin. Tried to cover it up with lies. He committed other sins to cover up the first sin. All of it was lies to cover up sin. David is a messy guy. He did some horrible stuff. the Batsheba-Uriah episode is one where he does not show us his best side. He shows us his pride and arrogance and his convenience with lying. However, David was known as a man after God’s own heart. As we shall see, David sought repentance when confronted with his sins and lies. He realized that he was a sinner when confronted with the truth of his sin. He repented. That was one thing you can say about David. He realized when he was wrong and sought to repent for his sins and would turn away from them. He stayed humble because he knew that he was capable of great sin even after years of constantly doing the right things in the eyes of God.

We must be able to do the same. Be honest when we are confronted with our sin and lies. Go to the Lord in repentance. Learn from our mistakes and turn away from these temptations in the future. We must humbly thank Jesus Christ daily for paying the price for our sins and it is through belief in him and through repentance that we are made whole with God. We must remember of our capacity for sin and never think that we have shaken our sin disease. It remains with us for as long as we have flesh. There should be humility before the Lord in that.

Amen and Amen.

Advertisements

2 Samuel 11:1-27 (Part 2 of 5)
David Sins with Bathsheba & Arranges Uriah’s Death

Good morning everyone! Sorry that I have not posted in three days but it was a weekend where reconnecting with my spouse and doing things in my yard and the need for rest took precedence. There was a Friday where we slept a little later and got a slow start. Had our morning coffee. I went for my usual morning 8+ mile walk. Then we went to the community aquatic center and chilled out at the pool for about four hours and then we had a “date night” (dinner at Red Robin and then a movie, “Oceans 8”). Saturday, I did have a work thing early in the morning (the monthly church board of directors meeting and elders meeting after that). When I got home, I worked in the yard for about 4 hours (cutting grass, doing the trim work, and then sweeping up afterwards). Then, there was a nice 2.5 hour nap after my shower. Saturday evening, we just chilled out since we had gone out the night before. Sunday was church, then another nap, and then relaxing the rest of the day (phone call to my dad and then phone calls from my oldest daughter and then my stepdaughter). It was a good weekend. Time well spent with my wife. We must make time to invest in our wives, gentlemen. We must make them a priority. Ministry can wait sometimes.

As I build and sometimes struggle with what my ministry is and will be at Calvary, I could very easily get caught up in obsessing about it. And, I admit over the last four months that has been true at times. Worrying about whether I am up to the task. Wondering whether I am really a pastor or just the chief accountant at a church. Wondering when I am going to grasp the “why” behind the processes and procedures in place at the church. Wondering whether I will ever be able to express my teaching and writing talents for the good of the church. Wondering if I have what it takes to preach to large audiences or whether it’s just that I have not had enough practice at it and wondering if I will ever get the necessary practice. There are things that I am passionate about outside of that as well. I would love to see our church have a hundred life groups or more and love to be a part of seeing people discipled in life groups all over our church. We have some good strong life groups in our church but the movement has not reached a critical mass in our church yet. I feel so strongly about life groups because it was through life groups from Livermore CA to Lyman, SC to here that I have developed deep relationships with friends and learned much about God’s Word and learned much about living a life of humble service through life groups. There is so much to do and I wonder at times if I have what it takes to even be a part of what is groundswelling now at Calvary much less lead the charge. I could work myself silly in that process.

But I need to take time every Friday and Saturday (my weekends) to reconnect with my wife. I need that time to make sure she gets quality time from me. I need to understand what she needs from me. I need to be more attentive to her. When we let work dominate our lives, it can lead us to neglect our wives and that is a sin that can lead to other sins. When work even if it is for a church consumes your life, it can become your mistress as much as actually having physical one. We must unplug, go home, study our wives, understand what makes them tick, and reconnect with them. There was a time in each of our relationships that we did whatever we could to impress the woman who became our spouse. There was a time when we figured out all the little things that made them smile and did those things. Let us as pastors and as men make sure that we unplug from work and really go home when we go home.
That was the thing that I thought of this morning as I read 2 Samuel 11 for the second of five times this morning – David was busy with things that don’t matter. If he was home, he should have really been home and been paying attention to what his wife (or in his cases, wives – which is a problem in and of itself but…) needed. When we lose focus on home, nothing else really matters. Let’s read 2 Samuel 11 now:

 

Chapter 11
1 In the spring of the year, when kings normally go out to war, David sent Joab and the Israelite army to fight the Ammonites. They destroyed the Ammonite army and laid siege to the city of Rabbah. However, David stayed behind in Jerusalem.

2 Late one afternoon, after his midday rest, David got out of bed and was walking on the roof of the palace. As he looked out over the city, he noticed a woman of unusual beauty taking a bath. 3 He sent someone to find out who she was, and he was told, “She is Bathsheba, the daughter of Eliam and the wife of Uriah the Hittite.” 4 Then David sent messengers to get her; and when she came to the palace, he slept with her. She had just completed the purification rites after having her menstrual period. Then she returned home. 5 Later, when Bathsheba discovered that she was pregnant, she sent David a message, saying, “I’m pregnant.”

6 Then David sent word to Joab: “Send me Uriah the Hittite.” So Joab sent him to David. 7 When Uriah arrived, David asked him how Joab and the army were getting along and how the war was progressing. 8 Then he told Uriah, “Go on home and relax.[b]” David even sent a gift to Uriah after he had left the palace. 9 But Uriah didn’t go home. He slept that night at the palace entrance with the king’s palace guard.

10 When David heard that Uriah had not gone home, he summoned him and asked, “What’s the matter? Why didn’t you go home last night after being away for so long?”

11 Uriah replied, “The Ark and the armies of Israel and Judah are living in tents,[c] and Joab and my master’s men are camping in the open fields. How could I go home to wine and dine and sleep with my wife? I swear that I would never do such a thing.”

12 “Well, stay here today,” David told him, “and tomorrow you may return to the army.” So Uriah stayed in Jerusalem that day and the next. 13 Then David invited him to dinner and got him drunk. But even then he couldn’t get Uriah to go home to his wife. Again he slept at the palace entrance with the king’s palace guard.
David Arranges for Uriah’s Death

14 So the next morning David wrote a letter to Joab and gave it to Uriah to deliver. 15 The letter instructed Joab, “Station Uriah on the front lines where the battle is fiercest. Then pull back so that he will be killed.” 16 So Joab assigned Uriah to a spot close to the city wall where he knew the enemy’s strongest men were fighting. 17 And when the enemy soldiers came out of the city to fight, Uriah the Hittite was killed along with several other Israelite soldiers.

18 Then Joab sent a battle report to David. 19 He told his messenger, “Report all the news of the battle to the king. 20 But he might get angry and ask, ‘Why did the troops go so close to the city? Didn’t they know there would be shooting from the walls? 21 Wasn’t Abimelech son of Gideon[d] killed at Thebez by a woman who threw a millstone down on him from the wall? Why would you get so close to the wall?’ Then tell him, ‘Uriah the Hittite was killed, too.’”

22 So the messenger went to Jerusalem and gave a complete report to David. 23 “The enemy came out against us in the open fields,” he said. “And as we chased them back to the city gate, 24 the archers on the wall shot arrows at us. Some of the king’s men were killed, including Uriah the Hittite.”

25 “Well, tell Joab not to be discouraged,” David said. “The sword devours this one today and that one tomorrow! Fight harder next time, and conquer the city!”

26 When Uriah’s wife heard that her husband was dead, she mourned for him. 27 When the period of mourning was over, David sent for her and brought her to the palace, and she became one of his wives. Then she gave birth to a son. But the Lord was displeased with what David had done.

In this passage, we see that, as David looked from the roof of his palace, he saw a beautiful woman bathing, and he was filled with physical desire and sexual lust. David should have left the roof and fled the temptation. Instead, he entertained the temptation by inquiring about Bathsheba. The results were devastating. To flee temptation, we must ask God in prayer to help you and me stay away from people, places, and situations that may tempt us. We search the concordance in the back of most Bibles for passages about temptation and lust and desire and study those passages (not just the specific verse references but entire passages around that referenced verse). In this way, we can know God heart and know His desire for us to not be entangled by the ravages of sin (and in this case, the specific sins of carnal lust). At the root of most temptation is a real need or desire that God can fill for us but we must trust in His timing. We also need to find another believer in whom you have the utmost trust with whom you can openly share your struggles. This person can be your lifeline that you can call for help when temptation strikes.

Let us be men who focus on our homes first and our jobs second. Temptations come when we get this order out of whack. The divorce rate in our country is a testament to the fact that we put our personal ambitions and desires before our families. We need to be men who pays attention to our homes. We need to pay attention to our wives. We need to see our home as our highest priority on earth. We need to see our wives as our top priority as men on this side of heaven. We need to take time to unplug and reconnect with them each week. Then, we do not end up on the roof of the palace looking an lusting after things that can only hurt us. Unplug. Go home. Love your wife.

Amen and Amen.

2 Samuel 11:1-27 (Part 1 of 5)

David Sins with Bathsheba & Arranges Uriah’s Death

Yesterday, I was having a conversation with another church employee about potential leaders for Sunday morning teams. We discussed a few options and some of the people we discussed were already serving in multiple areas. That point led to discuss the fact that we needed to be looking at people who may have not been in leadership positions before. That point led me to discuss the fact that some of our volunteer teams are aging and that often in churches we count on the same people to most of the work because they are familiar and are known quantities and, as a result, churches often do not develop volunteer team members toward the goal of some being in leadership. That point led me to discuss that we as leaders of volunteer teams at church must constantly be recruiting new members for our teams. We cannot let up on that one point. Without constant eyes on recruiting new members for our teams, we handicap ourselves into (1) keeping people in the positions that they are in even when they may have leadership talents, (2) preventing rotations of leaders, (3) people suffering burnout from leading teams where burnout volunteers don’t show up because they are tired of serving all the time, and (3) not being able to replace leaders or volunteers when they get too old to serve anymore or when someone leaves the church. Recruiting is a constant must in churches.

I likened it to a college football team where recruiting is the lifeblood of great teams. If the coaching staff every loses focus on getting the best and brightest young men for their football teams, the football program will suffer. A perfect example of this statement would be when Steve Spurrier was the coach of the University of South Carolina Gamecocks football team. Steve became the coach of the Gamecocks in 2005 and slowly built up the program from the mediocre state that it was in when he took over. It took a while but by the 2011 season they began a three year run where they had three consecutive 11-2 seasons. Each of those seasons with a different bounce of the ball in the two losses in each of those seasons, they could have easily been a 12-1 or 13-0 team. They were that good during those three years. But something happened to Steve and his staff when they were in the midst of that three year run where they had some of the best and grittiest players in the country. They stop caring about recruiting it seems. The backups behind the stars of the 2011-2013 were not superstars and the recruits coming in were no longer 4 and 5-star recruits. By 2014, the Gamecocks fell to 6-6 in their record for the season. In 2015, they got worse and ended up with a 3-9 record and Steve resigned at mid-season. Any analyst will tell you, the problem was that Spurrier and his staff started slacking off on the recruiting trail and it came back to haunt them.

We must always remember that our purpose in churches is to disciple people to deeper and deeper commitments to Jesus Christ. When we give up on doing that right, we give up on recruiting people to being on service teams. We give up on developing new leaders. We give up and then we wonder why the church has aging leadership and fewer and fewer volunteers. We cannot forget to be always on the recruiting trail and that also forces us to be on the leadership development trail – not just counting on the same old crowd to pick our volunteers and leaders from.

That was the thing that I thought of this morning as I read 2 Samuel 11 for the first of five times this morning – David forgot his purpose and it caused him to fail just as when we forget that discipleship is our purpose in churches we will fail. Let’s read 2 Samuel 11 now:

Chapter 11

1 In the spring of the year, when kings normally go out to war, David sent Joab and the Israelite army to fight the Ammonites. They destroyed the Ammonite army and laid siege to the city of Rabbah. However, David stayed behind in Jerusalem.

 2 Late one afternoon, after his midday rest, David got out of bed and was walking on the roof of the palace. As he looked out over the city, he noticed a woman of unusual beauty taking a bath. 3 He sent someone to find out who she was, and he was told, “She is Bathsheba, the daughter of Eliam and the wife of Uriah the Hittite.” 4 Then David sent messengers to get her; and when she came to the palace, he slept with her. She had just completed the purification rites after having her menstrual period. Then she returned home. 5 Later, when Bathsheba discovered that she was pregnant, she sent David a message, saying, “I’m pregnant.”

6 Then David sent word to Joab: “Send me Uriah the Hittite.” So Joab sent him to David. 7 When Uriah arrived, David asked him how Joab and the army were getting along and how the war was progressing. 8 Then he told Uriah, “Go on home and relax.[b]” David even sent a gift to Uriah after he had left the palace. 9 But Uriah didn’t go home. He slept that night at the palace entrance with the king’s palace guard.

 10 When David heard that Uriah had not gone home, he summoned him and asked, “What’s the matter? Why didn’t you go home last night after being away for so long?”

 11 Uriah replied, “The Ark and the armies of Israel and Judah are living in tents,[c] and Joab and my master’s men are camping in the open fields. How could I go home to wine and dine and sleep with my wife? I swear that I would never do such a thing.”

 12 “Well, stay here today,” David told him, “and tomorrow you may return to the army.” So Uriah stayed in Jerusalem that day and the next. 13 Then David invited him to dinner and got him drunk. But even then he couldn’t get Uriah to go home to his wife. Again he slept at the palace entrance with the king’s palace guard.

 

14 So the next morning David wrote a letter to Joab and gave it to Uriah to deliver. 15 The letter instructed Joab, “Station Uriah on the front lines where the battle is fiercest. Then pull back so that he will be killed.” 16 So Joab assigned Uriah to a spot close to the city wall where he knew the enemy’s strongest men were fighting. 17 And when the enemy soldiers came out of the city to fight, Uriah the Hittite was killed along with several other Israelite soldiers.

 18 Then Joab sent a battle report to David. 19 He told his messenger, “Report all the news of the battle to the king. 20 But he might get angry and ask, ‘Why did the troops go so close to the city? Didn’t they know there would be shooting from the walls? 21 Wasn’t Abimelech son of Gideon[d] killed at Thebez by a woman who threw a millstone down on him from the wall? Why would you get so close to the wall?’ Then tell him, ‘Uriah the Hittite was killed, too.’”

 22 So the messenger went to Jerusalem and gave a complete report to David. 23 “The enemy came out against us in the open fields,” he said. “And as we chased them back to the city gate, 24 the archers on the wall shot arrows at us. Some of the king’s men were killed, including Uriah the Hittite.”

25 “Well, tell Joab not to be discouraged,” David said. “The sword devours this one today and that one tomorrow! Fight harder next time, and conquer the city!”

 26 When Uriah’s wife heard that her husband was dead, she mourned for him. 27 When the period of mourning was over, David sent for her and brought her to the palace, and she became one of his wives. Then she gave birth to a son. But the Lord was displeased with what David had done.

 In this passage, we see that David’s sin started off by him no longer remembering his purpose as king. He got lazy and stayed home. He felt that he was too important now to be out with his army. He got proud of his accomplishments and was resting on his laurels. There is a danger in anything when we think we have “arrived”! In any job, when you think you have all the knowledge and skill that you will ever need, you will stop paying attention to details. You will stop learning or be willing to learn. You will stop thinking that others may have the ability to teach you anything particularly those that are organizationally below you. You will begin too thinking that those above you are idiots and that you could run the organization better than they can. When you begin resting, you begin decaying. When you begin resting, you do not grow. When you begin resting, you become prideful. When you begin resting, you become defensive instead of offensive (meaning that you protect the present turf rather than trying to expand it). When Rome began building walls around their empire was the moment that they began decaying as an empire. When the Romans were at their best was when there was an urgency to expand the kingdom. Just as David here make the mistake of becoming prideful and resting on his achievements of the past, that was when he became most susceptible to decay. That decay expressing itself in indulging in his selfish desires.

 

That’s the takeaway for today. As Christ followers, we can learn from David. We can learn from Steve Spurrier. We can learn from the Romans. The day we rest on our achievements and stop working to expand God’s kingdom is the day we begin to decay. When we stop recruiting new people to our ministries, when we stop sharing the gospel, when we stop evangelizing, because we think we have it made is when we start decaying and settling into sinful pride and all that it entails. That is when we start excluding people. That’s when it becomes us vs. these new folks coming in our church. That’s when it becomes religious arrogance. That’s when it becomes about the color of the carpet. That’s when we start defending our turf instead of expanding it. That’s when we think we don’t have to read the Bible anymore because we got this Christ follower thing down cold. That’s when we think we do not have to grow anymore because we have “arrived” at that place where we do not want to move on from. That’s when we get comfortable. That’s when we are ripe for the temptations of sin – it’s OK for me, I’m a king, I’m a long-time Christian, I’m a mature Christ follower. I’m a…

 

Father in heaven, please help us to read this story of David and realize that pride can enter into the lives of each and every one of us no matter how long we have been Christ followers. Please help us to stay humble. Please help to stay hungry for you just as we were on the day of our salvation. Please help us to seek you daily in prayer and in studying Your Word. Please help to see that following you is a journey and not a destination. Please help us to always see that we can learn much from the infinite God that you are. Please help us to understand that only you are perfect and holy and that we are prideful and sinful such that we understand that we never have it made, that we are imperfect beings incapable of perfection in the absence of the covering of the grace of Jesus Christ. Help us to remember our position in relation to you. We are sinful. You are sinless. We need help daily from the grace of Jesus and to have the humility to always put you first in our lives and to give you glory in everything that we do.

 

Amen and Amen.

2 Samuel 10:1-19
David Defeats Ammonites

Have you ever reacted hastily to something and then defended the decision even though it was the wrong decision when you should have just admitted you were wrong and sought peace? When I went through my divorce from my first wife, her intentions were clear – to punish and humiliate me to the point that I would come home like a beaten puppy dog that had run away from home. Because she knew of my love for my children, that was one of her main weapons was to withhold the children from me on my designated visitation times. It came to the point as time progressed that she would no longer allow me to pick up the kids at all. It got to the point that I to take legal action filing a contempt of court request with the family court that had jurisdiction over our separation and divorce proceedings. That started a firestorm of the highest order.

Instead of admitting that she had been wrong to withhold my children from me as a weapon to drive me into submission, she continued to try to justify her behavior. Instead of righting a wrong, she added another wrong to it to help justify her first actions. She went as far as to claim that I had molested my oldest daughter when I had her last. Talk about knocking you for a loop. My girls were the reason that I got up in the mornings during the darkest days of the last years of my marriage to their mom. I adored those girls so to make this claim she knew that would be a dagger to the heart to me. It was just plain out mean and hateful. The weird thing in her mind was that if she humiliated and punished me enough I would give in and come home to her. Strange way to show love, huh? If I had done such a thing, why did she not call the cops immediately when this supposedly happened? She waits til the court hearing on the contempt request. Convenient cover for her behavior.

I had to endure police interviews. I had to take a lie detector test (which of course I passed). I had to endure DSS interviews and numerous court hearings. During the course of DSS’s involvement in our lives, it became apparent to the all the principals in our case that my first wife was coming loose at the hinges and had become so preoccupied with destroying me that she was failing to properly take care of the girls. The girls were removed from her care and placed with my parents for a while and then ultimately with me after an arduous three year period in which DSS and family court hearings were a part of our weekly and monthly life. It was not until my first wife remarried some 3 ½ years after our split and all the ugliness in between that she began to settle down. She never lost her hatred for me and was always filling the kids heads with misinformation about me over the years but she was no longer as public about her hatred for me after her remarriage.

Just thinking about those years back in the mid-90s makes me relive those deep down sorrows of the heart as if they just happened yesterday. Intense emotional pain and sorrow can come back to your mind in an instant when you let yourself pull those videotapes out of the mental storage lockers that we have for our past memories. And the sad thing about it was that my first wife never ever admitted that she was wrong about any of these things. She simply compounded one error with another. One lie with another. One meanness with another meanness. Those who all things that I can relive the hurt but I it is with an eye now that it did not have to be that way rather than boiling anger toward her. I can relive the hurt but I chose to move on and forgive her a long time ago. It is a lesson that we all must learn. There will be people who hurt you and then will compound the original problem with justifications instead of seeking true reconciliation. There will be people filled so with pride that they will never admit a wrong to you but will simply add to it to justify their behavior as being right.

That was the thing that I thought of this morning as I read through 2 Samuel 10:1-19 this morning. Let’s read the passage now to see why:

Chapter 10
1 Some time after this, King Nahash[a] of the Ammonites died, and his son Hanun became king. 2 David said, “I am going to show loyalty to Hanun just as his father, Nahash, was always loyal to me.” So David sent ambassadors to express sympathy to Hanun about his father’s death.

But when David’s ambassadors arrived in the land of Ammon, 3 the Ammonite commanders said to Hanun, their master, “Do you really think these men are coming here to honor your father? No! David has sent them to spy out the city so they can come in and conquer it!” 4 So Hanun seized David’s ambassadors and shaved off half of each man’s beard, cut off their robes at the buttocks, and sent them back to David in shame.

5 When David heard what had happened, he sent messengers to tell the men, “Stay at Jericho until your beards grow out, and then come back.” For they felt deep shame because of their appearance.

6 When the people of Ammon realized how seriously they had angered David, they sent and hired 20,000 Aramean foot soldiers from the lands of Beth-rehob and Zobah, 1,000 from the king of Maacah, and 12,000 from the land of Tob. 7 When David heard about this, he sent Joab and all his warriors to fight them. 8 The Ammonite troops came out and drew up their battle lines at the entrance of the city gate, while the Arameans from Zobah and Rehob and the men from Tob and Maacah positioned themselves to fight in the open fields.

9 When Joab saw that he would have to fight on both the front and the rear, he chose some of Israel’s elite troops and placed them under his personal command to fight the Arameans in the fields. 10 He left the rest of the army under the command of his brother Abishai, who was to attack the Ammonites. 11 “If the Arameans are too strong for me, then come over and help me,” Joab told his brother. “And if the Ammonites are too strong for you, I will come and help you. 12 Be courageous! Let us fight bravely for our people and the cities of our God. May the Lord’s will be done.”

13 When Joab and his troops attacked, the Arameans began to run away. 14 And when the Ammonites saw the Arameans running, they ran from Abishai and retreated into the city. After the battle was over, Joab returned to Jerusalem.

15 The Arameans now realized that they were no match for Israel. So when they regrouped, 16 they were joined by additional Aramean troops summoned by Hadadezer from the other side of the Euphrates River.[b] These troops arrived at Helam under the command of Shobach, the commander of Hadadezer’s forces.

17 When David heard what was happening, he mobilized all Israel, crossed the Jordan River, and led the army to Helam. The Arameans positioned themselves in battle formation and fought against David. 18 But again the Arameans fled from the Israelites. This time David’s forces killed 700 charioteers and 40,000 foot soldiers,[c] including Shobach, the commander of their army. 19 When all the kings allied with Hadadezer saw that they had been defeated by Israel, they surrendered to Israel and became their subjects. After that, the Arameans were afraid to help the Ammonites.

In this passage, we see that Hanun listened to the wrong advice. He suspected the motives of the ambassadors and humiliated them. Then he realized that he made David angry by his actions and then began to marshal his forces to go to battle. Hanun should have thought through the advice more carefully. But even if he had not reviewed the situation more carefully, he should have tried to negotiate with David. Instead, he refused to admit any fault and got ready for war. Often, we respond angrily and defensively rather than admitting our mistakes, apologizing, and try to defuse the situation. Instead of blazing forward with war, we should seek peace. Instead of harboring pride, let us think of what is best for the situation even if that means that we do not get our way.

Father, help to see that pride is such deceitful emotion that blinds us to the things that we need to change about ourselves. Help us to see that pride will cause us to compound one hurt with another just so that we do not have to admit wrongdoing to another person. Help us to admit when we have hurt another person and seek to make things better in humility. Help us to seek peace rather than seeking in pride to continue to a war. Help us Oh Lord. Help us!

Amen and Amen.

2 Samuel 9:1-13
David’s Kindness to Mephibosheth

As a Christ follower, have you ever really thought about how incredibly ignorant we are before we come to know Christ as our Savior and Lord? Before we come to Christ, we have no clue and we actually think that we are brilliant for having evolved above the mythological and mystic. We may have grown up in the church but never truly understood why Jesus being killed on the cross was for my benefit. We don’t have a clue why that act was the most important act in the history of mankind. We just go along and accept it but not really understanding why a man dying on a cross is so important.

Before we come to Christ as our Savior and Lord, we can accept that he was a revolutionary guy. We can accept that he was this anti-establishment nomadic preacher. We can accept that His teachings angered the Jewish religious leaders. We can accept that He upset the tense détente there was between the Roman overlords and the high Jewish council, the Sanhedrin. We can accept that the Romans allowed the Jewish high council a certain amount of self-rule but that there was always a threat of the Romans cracking down on the Jews and eliminating local rule if the Sanhedrin did not keep the peace. We can accept that the Sanhedrin was ever fearful of angering the local Roman governor and that the high council would lose its grip on power if it did not do what the Romans wanted. We can accept that along came Jesus who upset all that with his rhetoric toward the high council leaders. We can accept that His words created quite a backlash with in the high council and had the common man all whipped up as well. Jesus was preaching forgiveness of sins and repentance and making life anew through Him. It was all very radical and upsetting to the council. We can accept that Jesus would not shut up so the Jewish high council convinced the Romans that he was a threat to Roman rule. We can accept that Jesus was in fact crucified and we can accept that it was for political reasons as much as anything else. But we get lost on why His death on the cross was for our sins. It just didn’t make any sense to us.

Because before we met Jesus as Savior and Lord, we were unwilling to see that we are sinful creatures. We had the idea that if we just do more good than bad that we will get to heaven. We just saw things kind of like an accountant’s ledger – with debits and credits, assets and liabilities. Except in this case, the assets are our good deeds and our liabilities are our bad deeds. Before coming to Christ, we just think that if we do more good than bad (have more assets than liabilities) that we punch our ticket to heaven. The only problem with that approach is that we are often blind to the volume of bad deeds that we commit. We just think we are generally a good person and things will work out in the end.

It is only when we realize that we are sinners to the core that we come to Jesus. It is only when our eyes are opened by the Holy Spirit to our true state – sinful by nature – that we realize how we need intervention so badly. It is then that we realize that just one sin eliminates us from spending eternity in the presence of God in heaven. Just one. That’s all it takes. To be in the presence of God, we must be perfect, holy and sinless. None of us can say that. One sin taints our water like a drop of black ink into it. It is permanently defected at that point. It is imperfect and impure and can never be pure and imperfect ever again. No amount of good deeds can change our state. Then, add on top of that, the lifetime of sins that we commit are additional drops of black ink into the water to the point that the water is more ink than it is water and we are black and dark as night. We need an intervention.

It is only when we realize how completely hopeless we are in the face of a perfect and righteous judge in God is the only time that we see the cosmic purpose of Jesus Christ dying on the cross. It becomes more than just a political revolutionary being crucified for political reasons. It becomes the culmination of the Old Testament sacrificial system established by God. In that system only a pure and spotless lamb could be sacrificed for the sins of the people of God. They were made right with God temporarily through these sacrifices. It was all practice for the final sacrifice in Jesus Christ. He was of one and the same essence as the Father and the Holy Spirit. Thus, He was and is God. Thus, He who was pure and perfect and sinless for all eternity was able to come to earth and live the perfect, sinless and pure life which makes him the once and for all final sacrifice. On the cross, Jesus Christ sacrificed Himself to take on the wrath of God for all sins of all time for all mankind, past, present and future. It was more than just some revolutionary dying on the cross. It was the culmination of God’s redemptive plan. Jesus took the penalty for our sins that we deserve so that we could be covered by His sacrifice and stand before God in purity and free of sin.

When we come to realize our sinful nature for what it really is and stop deluding ourselves about being good enough, that is when the Jesus dying on the cross makes sense. It is a gift of the highest order. He died for our sins. He took the punishment from a righteous and just and pure and holy God for our sins and the sins of all others. It is only then that we realize what an amazing thing, what an amazing gift the cross is to us. We don’t deserve it when we really look at ourselves for who we really are but Jesus did this for us anyway. He loved us anyway. He gave us the gift of salvation. We did not earn it or own it or deserve it. He just gave it to us.

The grace that we are shown in Jesus Christ is what I thought of this morning when I read this passage, 2 Samuel 9:1-13, this morning – about how David showed unmerited kindness to son of the one remaining member of Saul’s family. Let’s read it now:

Chapter 9
1 One day David asked, “Is anyone in Saul’s family still alive—anyone to whom I can show kindness for Jonathan’s sake?” 2 He summoned a man named Ziba, who had been one of Saul’s servants. “Are you Ziba?” the king asked.

“Yes sir, I am,” Ziba replied.

3 The king then asked him, “Is anyone still alive from Saul’s family? If so, I want to show God’s kindness to them.”

Ziba replied, “Yes, one of Jonathan’s sons is still alive. He is crippled in both feet.”

4 “Where is he?” the king asked.

“In Lo-debar,” Ziba told him, “at the home of Makir son of Ammiel.”

5 So David sent for him and brought him from Makir’s home. 6 His name was Mephibosheth[a]; he was Jonathan’s son and Saul’s grandson. When he came to David, he bowed low to the ground in deep respect. David said, “Greetings, Mephibosheth.”

Mephibosheth replied, “I am your servant.”

7 “Don’t be afraid!” David said. “I intend to show kindness to you because of my promise to your father, Jonathan. I will give you all the property that once belonged to your grandfather Saul, and you will eat here with me at the king’s table!”

8 Mephibosheth bowed respectfully and exclaimed, “Who is your servant, that you should show such kindness to a dead dog like me?”

9 Then the king summoned Saul’s servant Ziba and said, “I have given your master’s grandson everything that belonged to Saul and his family. 10 You and your sons and servants are to farm the land for him to produce food for your master’s household.[b] But Mephibosheth, your master’s grandson, will eat here at my table.” (Ziba had fifteen sons and twenty servants.)

11 Ziba replied, “Yes, my lord the king; I am your servant, and I will do all that you have commanded.” And from that time on, Mephibosheth ate regularly at David’s table,[c] like one of the king’s own sons.

12 Mephibosheth had a young son named Mica. From then on, all the members of Ziba’s household were Mephibosheth’s servants. 13 And Mephibosheth, who was crippled in both feet, lived in Jerusalem and ate regularly at the king’s table.

In this passage, we understand that most kings in David’s day would wipe out the families of rivals in order to prevent any descendants from seek the throne. However, David showed king to Mephibosheth, whose father was Jonathan and whose grandfather was King Saul. When God graciously offers to forgiveness of sins and grant us a place at his table in heaven, we are wholly unworthy of earning the position. It is a grant of grace that we must accept through seeing and understanding that Jesus Christ is our Savior and Lord and that He is the Son of God who died for our sins and arose from the dead to give us victory over sin and death. We graciously, gratefully, and humbly should accept God’s grant of grace through Jesus Christ. We can sit at the table of our Father in heaven because of Jesus and Jesus alone, just as King Saul’s grandson was granted a place of honor in David’s house and at David’s table through the grace David extended to him. He did not earn it or deserve it in any way. That’s what Jesus’ death on the cross means for us. We are granted a place at the banquet table of God that we do not deserve on our own. It is simply because we accepted the invitation to make Jesus Christ our Lord and Savior.

Amen and Amen.

2 Samuel 8:1-18
David’s Military Victories

In today’s passage, David is gaining in popularity among the people. They just loved him for all the military victories and acclaim that he was bringing to the nation of Israel. David’s following of God here was pretty easy. Doing God’s will is fun and easy when it gains you acclaim and popularity amidst the culture in which you live, right? It’s a sweet spot to be in, for sure! But was that acclaim, that acceptance what motivated David? Being accepted by the culture, was that what motivated David? Although David was a man occasionally susceptible to personal pride that led him to do things that hurt his kingship severely, for the most part, David was a “man after God’s own heart” (1 Samuel 13:14, Acts 13:22). After thinking about what motivated David throughout his days is a question that I think we must ask ourselves today as well. What motivates us to follow Jesus Christ? Is for the acclaim that it can bring us within Christian circles like David here who is gaining great popularity among his people? Or do we follow Jesus Christ even when it makes us unpopular and we are all alone as a result? What’s our motivation?

In this day in which we live it is becoming increasingly more difficult to stand on your Christian convictions. The biblical values upon which we stand are no longer the norm. In fact, biblical values often stand in direct opposition to the common values of society. We are certainly in opposition to the prevailing values of society today when it comes to sexual relationships. Our society today condones serial heterosexuality (having sex with as many partners as possible in one lifetime) and it condones homosexuality as right and normal and a brand of sexuality that should be supported and even encouraged. We are often in opposition to the prevailing values of society in other areas of life as well such as the common belief that all roads lead to heaven and as long as you believe in something as a guide to your life’s values that you will experience a nirvana-like afterlife. You name it, we as Christ followers are now more often than not seen as old-fashioned, restrictive, and closed-minded. We are seen as in opposition to all “the progress” that society is making toward an egalitarian society where everything is acceptable.

The Christian church and Christ followers are at a crossroads here in the first quarter of the 21st century. We must decide if we want to ride along with society or return to the days where persecution of Christians was a common thing in the centuries before Christianity became an institution condoned by the Roman Empire. Do we have the guts now to stand on biblical values when it is in direct opposition to the prevailing sentiments in society? How Christian will most of us be when it is no longer neutral or to our advantage to say, “I’m a Christ follower!”? How many of us will be willing to publicly attend church if we were to be arrested or lose our jobs if seen there? How far are you and I willing to take this Christ follower thing? Are you willing to die for Jesus Christ? Are you willing to be imprisoned because you believe in Jesus Christ? Are you willing to be tortured for not renouncing the name of Jesus Christ? We can say that it will never happen here, but right now if you think that you are like the frog in a pot of hot water where the heat is ever so slowly being turned up. The frog will stay in the water with the slow increase in temperature to the point that the water is boiling and he dies. Right now, we are seeing the beginnings of persecution in the United States for those who have values different from the political correctness of our age.

Just think of all the people that have lost their careers, have been publicly vilified in the press and social media, just because they came out in opposition to alternative sexual lifestyles. Just think of the firestorm that was created nationally and internationally when the State of North Carolina passed “bathroom bill” which was to counteract the ordinance passed by the City of Charlotte that said a person could use whatever public restroom that they identified with rather than what their anatomy indicated. North Carolina had concerts, conventions, and even businesses that pulled out of the state because of the firestorm over the prohibitive law passed at the state level to counteract a city level ordinance. The people of North Carolina were branded as backwards and homophobic for allowing such a law to be passed. The pressure was intense. It went as far as the Atlantic Coast Conference (a collegiate athletic conference) whose headquarters from its inception in 1953 has been in Greensboro, NC saying that it would pull all of its championship games and/or tournaments from the state until North Carolina buckled. Everybody jumped on the bandwagon to condemn North Carolina. Entertainers who had been to the state numerous times over their careers all of a sudden withdrew concerts. It was the classic case of joining the crowd regardless of whether you had any skin in the game or not. Now, of course, it led North Carolina to ultimately rescind the law and people think North Carolina is OK again.

What is the next thing that Christians will have to endure as the heat in the pot slowly rises? Are you and I going to be quiet and say when we gather with our fellow Christ followers that the world is no longer the place it once was for us, but as soon as we step into society, we get quiet or we ultimately conform our beliefs to that of society just so we won’t have to suffer the fate of the State of North Carolina over “the bathroom bill”. What’s the next thing? I see it coming now and it is illegal immigration. I see Facebook posts condemning Christians for supporting the position of the Trump Administration of enforcing immigration laws even if it means the separating of families. The issue is one that brings out emotions of the highest order just as the North Carolina “bathroom bill” did.

So, what does the Bible say about those who enter a country illegally? What should be the Christian response to illegal aliens or illegal immigrants and toward those who condone illegal immigration? What about the kids of immigrants who entered this country in a manner that is against the long-established laws of the land? Should they have to pay for the illegal activities of their parents just as with any other crime committed in our country? Do we want to be seen as being OK with separating families (even though it happens daily with social services departments around the country)? This is the next hot-button issue for the culture. What is your position? Have you consulted God’s Word or would you rather just not be one of the people being vilified in the press and just go along with the prevailing sentiment of the culture?

Christians are struggling with this issue and we must consult God’s Word on it before we join the crowd or stand against it. We must understand what God’s Word says about the laws of the lands in which we live. We must understand what God’s Word says about when we can deviate from the law of the land. We must understand what God’s Word says about compassion and mercy and land in the place that is fully biblical in our response. It is the next battlefield where we must choose.

It is the next battlefield where we must study God’s Word and respond in the way that God desires for us even if that position might well be in opposition to the culture. We must study God’s Word now and pray for the Holy Spirit to enlighten us as to what our proper response might be to this 21st century American issue. What will you and I do this time if the Holy Spirit leads us to a conclusion that is in opposition to the prevailing sentiment of society. Will we be the frog in the pot of water where the temporary is rising ever so slowly and just go along, say nothing, and just try to get along? Or will we act on the conclusion that the Holy Spirit leads us toward even if it means that we are publicly vilified for having an opposing opinion to the culture’s desires?

That’s the thing that I thought of this morning – how the days are coming when we must decide to honor God or honor society. In this passage, we see that David was becoming increasingly popular with the people of Israel. However, they were enamored with his success. David was not doing things to be popular with the people though. He was doing what he did to satisfy and please God. That’s the point of my blog this morning – will we have what it takes when we have to decide whether to please God or please the culture? Let’s read the passage, 2 Samuel 8:1-18, now:

Chapter 8

1After this, David defeated and subdued the Philistines by conquering Gath, their largest town.[a] 2 David also conquered the land of Moab. He made the people lie down on the ground in a row, and he measured them off in groups with a length of rope. He measured off two groups to be executed for every one group to be spared. The Moabites who were spared became David’s subjects and paid him tribute money.

3 David also destroyed the forces of Hadadezer son of Rehob, king of Zobah, when Hadadezer marched out to strengthen his control along the Euphrates River. 4 David captured 1,000 chariots, 7,000 charioteers,[b] and 20,000 foot soldiers. He crippled all the chariot horses except enough for 100 chariots.

5 When Arameans from Damascus arrived to help King Hadadezer, David killed 22,000 of them. 6 Then he placed several army garrisons in Damascus, the Aramean capital, and the Arameans became David’s subjects and paid him tribute money. So the Lord made David victorious wherever he went.

7 David brought the gold shields of Hadadezer’s officers to Jerusalem, 8 along with a large amount of bronze from Hadadezer’s towns of Tebah[c] and Berothai.

9 When King Toi of Hamath heard that David had destroyed the entire army of Hadadezer, 10 he sent his son Joram to congratulate King David for his successful campaign. Hadadezer and Toi had been enemies and were often at war. Joram presented David with many gifts of silver, gold, and bronze.

11 King David dedicated all these gifts to the Lord, as he did with the silver and gold from the other nations he had defeated— 12 from Edom,[d] Moab, Ammon, Philistia, and Amalek—and from Hadadezer son of Rehob, king of Zobah.

13 So David became even more famous when he returned from destroying 18,000 Edomites[e] in the Valley of Salt. 14 He placed army garrisons throughout Edom, and all the Edomites became David’s subjects. In fact, the Lord made David victorious wherever he went.

15 So David reigned over all Israel and did what was just and right for all his people. 16 Joab son of Zeruiah was commander of the army. Jehoshaphat son of Ahilud was the royal historian. 17 Zadok son of Ahitub and Ahimelech son of Abiathar were the priests. Seraiah was the court secretary. 18 Benaiah son of Jehoiada was captain of the king’s bodyguard.[f] And David’s sons served as priestly leaders.[g]

In this passage, David pleased the people not because he tried to please them. They were enamored with the results of his military campaigns. However, David’s purpose was not necessarily to please the people but rather pleasing God. Often, those who try hardest to become popular never make it. From David, we learn that we should never devise ways to become accepted and popular in the public eye. Instead, we should strive to do what is right and what is honoring to God.

Lord, help us to be a people that takes the pulse of the Bible as our guide to respond to the world around us rather than taking the pulse of culture. Let us seek your approval and your smile toward us rather than trying to fit in to the culture. May we try to please you only. May we be a people that will take pleasing you as our main priority even if what we do in that regard is in opposition to the culture. Help us not to cave into the culture even if it means that we will be vilified, persecuted or even killed for it.

Amen and Amen.

2 Samuel 7:18-29
David’s Prayer of Thanks

May we never forget our day of salvation! It is on that day that we realize as Jonathan Edwards so aptly put it three centuries ago that we are sinners in the hands of an angry God. It is at that moment that we realize that we are sinners and there is no amount of good that we can do to offset our sins. It is at that moment that we realize that our first sin cancels our right to be in heaven with the perfect, holy, pure, and sinless God in eternity. It is at that moment that we realize that one sin taints us forever and that there is nothing we can do to change the fact that our first sin changes us forever and by itself that first sin excludes us from heaven. It is at that moment that we realize that we compound our sentence to hell by our lifetime of sins that we have committed. It is at that moment that we realize that because one sin, our first sin condemns us to hell and then is compounded by the fact that we have committed sins as high as Mount Everest over our lifetime, we cannot claim that we did more good than bad so we deserve to go to heaven. It is at that moment that we realize that sin is like a drop of black ink into a glass of clear and clean water. Once the ink enters the water. The water is forever changed. No matter how hard you try you cannot get the ink coloration out of the water. It is forever no longer clear and clean water.

It is at that moment that we realize that we need a miracle. It is at that moment that we realize we need an intervention. It is at that moment that as we stand before the righteous judge that God is that we deserve our sentence to eternal damnation in hell where there is fire and gnashing of teeth and the burning of flesh for eternity. It is at that moment that we cry out for a reprieve, a stay of execution, a pardon, anything to avoid the fate that we know that we deserve. We cry out to Jesus Christ and ask Him to forgive us of our sins and help us to repent and turn away from those things that are not pleasing to God. We ask Jesus Christ to save us. We come to Him believing that He died for our sins and that He is the Son of God. We believe that He arose from the dead as evidence of His divinity and His victory over sin and death. We beg Jesus to cover us in the presence of the Father. Jesus can see our heart and can know if we are serious about releasing control of our lives to him. He accepts our cries and makes us pure and holy before God and we are reconciled to the sinless God and are confirmed to be in His presence forever through the favor of Jesus Christ.

It is at that moment that we have the greatest joy of our lifetime. We know what we deserve. We know that we deserve hell as our punishment for one sin much less the lifetime of sins we commit. It is at that moment we have the greatest joy we have ever known. Knowing what we know about the nature of man and specifically about our own nature, we have been given freedom from the sentence of hell through Jesus Christ. I remember that day in December 2001. The burden of knowing what we deserve and seeing it really in focus for the first time and then knowing that Jesus has saved us from it, there is no greater joy than that moment.

Why do we so often forget that moment of salvation as we progress down the road after salvation? We should be the most joyous people on earth because of what we have been saved from. Especially, the joy should grow as time progresses. As we mature as Christians, it should become even more abundantly clear the unmerited favor we have been given through the sacrifice of Jesus Christ on our behalf. It should be a growing joy as we become more and more self-aware of our failings and shortcomings in the sight of a perfect and holy God.

That idea of the joy that we should have because of our salvation, the unmerited gift and unmerited blessing, that we have been given, not earned, through Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior. With that idea in mind, let us read David’s prayer in 2 Samuel 7:18-29 and how he expresses the same sentiment in the thanksgiving he gives to God for the unmerited favor of God promising that David’s dynasty shall live forever:

18 Then King David went in and sat before the Lord and prayed,

“Who am I, O Sovereign Lord, and what is my family, that you have brought me this far? 19 And now, Sovereign Lord, in addition to everything else, you speak of giving your servant a lasting dynasty! Do you deal with everyone this way, O Sovereign Lord?[a]

20 “What more can I say to you? You know what your servant is really like, Sovereign Lord. 21 Because of your promise and according to your will, you have done all these great things and have made them known to your servant.

22 “How great you are, O Sovereign Lord! There is no one like you. We have never even heard of another God like you! 23 What other nation on earth is like your people Israel? What other nation, O God, have you redeemed from slavery to be your own people? You made a great name for yourself when you redeemed your people from Egypt. You performed awesome miracles and drove out the nations and gods that stood in their way.[b] 24 You made Israel your very own people forever, and you, O Lord, became their God.

25 “And now, O Lord God, I am your servant; do as you have promised concerning me and my family. Confirm it as a promise that will last forever. 26 And may your name be honored forever so that everyone will say, ‘The Lord of Heaven’s Armies is God over Israel!’ And may the house of your servant David continue before you forever.

27 “O Lord of Heaven’s Armies, God of Israel, I have been bold enough to pray this prayer to you because you have revealed all this to your servant, saying, ‘I will build a house for you—a dynasty of kings!’ 28 For you are God, O Sovereign Lord. Your words are truth, and you have promised these good things to your servant. 29 And now, may it please you to bless the house of your servant, so that it may continue forever before you. For you have spoken, and when you grant a blessing to your servant, O Sovereign Lord, it is an eternal blessing!”

In this passage, we see David expressing in his prayer his humble acceptance of God’s promise to extend his dynasty forever. David realized that these blessings were given to him and his descendants in order that Israel might benefit from them. We also see that David realizes that this blessing is unmerited favor when he says, “You know what your servant is really like, Sovereign Lord.” How beautiful this prayer is when framed in David’s understanding of the fact that he realizes that this blessing is a gift and not necessarily because of how good he was. Even though David became known as a man “after God’s own heart”, even David was realistic enough to understand his own failures as a man. As a result, David always came before the Lord with an humble and yet very thankful heart. We can learn much from David’s understanding of his position in relation to a Sovereign God.

Let us never forget that our salvation is a gift from God just as David’s dynastic line living forever was a gift. Let us always remember the joy of our day of salvation. Let us always remember what we have been saved from. Let us always remember that it is not because of what we do to earn God’s favor. Let us remember that we are nothing in comparison to the Sovereign God. Let us remember that we are not equal to Him. Let us remember that He grants gifts to us and that we are not in position to be His equal and to negotiate with Him. Let us remember that He is Sovereign and Great and we are small and insignificant. But yet that He choses to grant us gifts in His great love for us. Let us never forget the joy that this knowledge brings us.

Amen and Amen.