Archive for the ‘10-2 Samuel’ Category

2 Samuel 24:18-25 (Part 3 of 3)
David Builds an Altar (Conclusion of 2 Samuel)

It was weird when I left my previous job in the secular world after 10 years as the controller of Fujikura America, Inc. There was a part of me that was expecting this big sendoff. Yes, there was a lunch between me and some of my closest associates there, but that was it. There was no big official ceremony. My last few hours there were actually just doing my job – those last few little details that I would have normally done at that point in the month. I got those things done with about 30 minutes to spare before the end of the day. I gave a few hugs to my subordinates and then out the door I went. That was it. No parade. No official Fujikura proclamation. It was simply a quiet exit.

I was thinking that in some ways that was a fitting ending to my time at Fujikura. I was all about the work there. I had taken the finance department of this division of the company from a complete shambles when I became controller to one of the best finance groups in the entire Fujikura organization. We had been through a move of the department from the division’s California headquarters to the US group financial center in South Carolina. We had been through the transition from our old ERP system to the ERP system of the rest of the US group. We had been through a lot. By the time I left, though, we were a well-oiled machine. However, when I walked out the door on that final day in mid-February 2018, there was no bright lights, no ceremony. The last day was work as usual except for the lunch with close associates. Even up until about 30 minutes before the end of the day, it was work as usual. Just doing the work. Just being faithful to my assignment.

That’s what I thought of this morning when I read through the ending of 2 Samuel this morning. Having said all that, lets read 2 Samuel 24:18-25 for a third and final time today and look specifically at how this passage is not the amazing crescendo to the reign of David over Israel. It is simply a quiet, almost anti-climactic, ending to the books of Samuel. However, I think that this final glimpse of David’s public life is a fitting one. Let us read it together now:

18 That day Gad came to David and said to him, “Go up and build an altar to the Lord on the threshing floor of Araunah the Jebusite.”

19 So David went up to do what the Lord had commanded him. 20 When Araunah saw the king and his men coming toward him, he came and bowed before the king with his face to the ground. 21 “Why have you come, my lord the king?” Araunah asked.

David replied, “I have come to buy your threshing floor and to build an altar to the Lord there, so that he will stop the plague.”

22 “Take it, my lord the king, and use it as you wish,” Araunah said to David. “Here are oxen for the burnt offering, and you can use the threshing boards and ox yokes for wood to build a fire on the altar. 23 I will give it all to you, Your Majesty, and may the Lord your God accept your sacrifice.”

24 But the king replied to Araunah, “No, I insist on buying it, for I will not present burnt offerings to the Lord my God that have cost me nothing.” So David paid him fifty pieces of silver[a] for the threshing floor and the oxen.

25 David built an altar there to the Lord and sacrificed burnt offerings and peace offerings. And the Lord answered his prayer for the land, and the plague on Israel was stopped.
In this passage, we conclude the book of 2 Samuel. In this book we have seen virtually all of David’s reign. Since the Israelites first entered the Promised Land under Joshua, they had been struggling to unite the nation and drive out the wicked inhabitants. Now, after more than 400 years, Israel was finally at peace. David had accomplished what no leader before him had done. His administration was run on the principle of dedication to God and to the well-being of the people. Yet David also sinned. Despite his sins, the Bible calls David a man after God’s own heart (1 Samuel 13:14, Acts 13:22) because when he sinned, he recognized it, confessed his sins to God. David committed his life to God and remained loyal to Him throughout his lifetime. One might expect a flashier ending to 2 Samuel. In 1 Kings, we actually see the conclusion of David’s life but here we see I guess the last great act of his public life before passing the baton to his son, Solomon.

It is a quiet conclusion to an amazing life. His final act as a public figure was to worship the Lord. His final act was in service to the Lord and his people. Quietly. No fanfare. Just doing what He always had done. Is that, in and of itself, a fitting conclusion. Continuing to be faithful to the Lord in whatever stage of life and whether or not the spotlight is on you. There was no nation watching. It was just David and a few of his men and Araunah. No one was around. No battleground with thousands and thousands of men around. No official ceremony of state with all of Jerusalem and the nation watching. It was just a quiet moment with a few people around. It typifies David I think. Here he is, no grand moment but just a small gathering of people, some of which were long-time associates of David. Some of his men, I bet, had been through the days of running from Saul, living off the land, sleeping in caves, having long talks with David and all of that stuff that draws guys together. These guys knew David very well. He did not have to put on pretense for them. But even here, we see David wanting to serve, honor, and pay tribute to God. Even the quiet moments at the end of his reign, he is a servant of God. Even though he is a king of a powerful nation now that is finally at peace, he is just like a kid who loves his dad so much that he wants to do everything his dad’s way. He loves God and wants to honor him at this quiet moment.

How is your relationship with God in the quiet moments, when no one is looking, or only the people that know you really well are looking? Is your relationship with God such that you honor and obey him in the private moments? Do you seek after Him when no one is looking?

Let us be like David. He was an imperfect man for sure. However, he was a man who truly loved God and wanted to obey Him. He was so thankful for God’s forgiveness for his mistakes and for the grace he had been shown that he was forever worshiping God. The Psalms are a testament to how much David thought and mused about God. May we be quick to repent of our sins. May we seek to have the forgiveness that God offers us through Jesus Christ. May we be so thankful for this forgiveness that our love and honor for God permeates every aspect of our lives – even in the quiet moments.

Amen and Amen.

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2 Samuel 24:18-25 (Part 2 of 3)
David Builds an Altar (Conclusion of 2 Samuel)

I love this passage. You see that David does not want to offer up a gift that did not cost him anything. He wanted there to be a sacrifice for him financially before he made his physical sacrifice at the altar. David for all his sins and all his mistakes raising his kids is a man who loves God. He just has it ingrained in him that he should honor the Lord in everything that he does. He just understands that God doesn’t want our leftovers. He wants our best. He wants us to honor him by foregoing personal pleasures or taking the easy way out. He could have easily taken the gift of the land but that would have been an empty offering in David’s eyes. He loved the Lord so much that he wanted there to be a sacrifice on his part, a foregoing of what he could have done personally with the funds that were used to buy the property. He wanted to honor God by using his funds to honor God instead of himself. How often do we get this wrong?

I was one of those people until about 9-10 years ago. Prior to meeting Elena, because of divorce and earthly priorities when it came to money, I had a lot of debt and poor credit. It was when we were in California, Elena and I decided then to clean up my debts and get my credit clean again so that we could live more simply and have A1 credit and begin to better be able to honor the Lord with our finances. That involved taking bonuses from Fujikura and tax refunds and paying off debts rather than blowing those gifts on vaporous things like extravagant vacations and the like. We were able in the course of about two years to get my credit cleaned and a virtually all of my non-mortgage debt paid off. Although we had begun tithing while in California, after all the debt clean up, we were able to do more and also to live more simply with less stress financially. The first check we write each pay period is our tithe check. It comes off the top. Over the years, I have seen what others say would be coincidences but when we have had a financial need since we have been tithing, there always seems to appear an unexpected amount of cash from somewhere. He provides, always. We trust Him implicitly with our money. Sure, we have to do our part and live simply and we are doggone happy with our expenses being below our income no matter what our income is. But He has always provided. We trust Him in that. He honors sacrificial giving. I promise you. He honors simple living. I promise you.

Having said all that, lets read 2 Samuel 24:18-25 for a second time today and look specifically at David’s insistence on paying for the altar site:

18 That day Gad came to David and said to him, “Go up and build an altar to the Lord on the threshing floor of Araunah the Jebusite.”

19 So David went up to do what the Lord had commanded him. 20 When Araunah saw the king and his men coming toward him, he came and bowed before the king with his face to the ground. 21 “Why have you come, my lord the king?” Araunah asked.

David replied, “I have come to buy your threshing floor and to build an altar to the Lord there, so that he will stop the plague.”

22 “Take it, my lord the king, and use it as you wish,” Araunah said to David. “Here are oxen for the burnt offering, and you can use the threshing boards and ox yokes for wood to build a fire on the altar. 23 I will give it all to you, Your Majesty, and may the Lord your God accept your sacrifice.”

24 But the king replied to Araunah, “No, I insist on buying it, for I will not present burnt offerings to the Lord my God that have cost me nothing.” So David paid him fifty pieces of silver[a] for the threshing floor and the oxen.

25 David built an altar there to the Lord and sacrificed burnt offerings and peace offerings. And the Lord answered his prayer for the land, and the plague on Israel was stopped.

In this passage, the concluding passage of 2 Samuel, we see David demanding that he must pay for the plot of land belonging to Araunah, even though Araunah would have gladly ceded his land to his king. David refused the free gift of land, saying, “No I insisr on buying it, for I will not present burnt offerings to the Lord my God that have cost me nothing.” David wanted to present an offering/sacrifice to God An offering should cost the giver in terms of time, talents, energy, and financial resources. To give sacrificially requires more than a token effort or leftover gift. God wants us to give voluntarily but wants it to mean something to us. Giving to God when it is not a sacrifice to you does not require any commitment on our part.

That brings up the question, “Why should I give to God?” Giving to God in today’s world means giving to your local gathering of saints called the local church. Why should we give to God in this manner? It certainly is not to enrich God himself. He is the Creator. He can speak anything into existence so He does not need our money by any stretch of the imagination. He has no needs and is complete in and of Himself. If He decided that He needed something, He could just create it. His mission in His Creation is in no way dependent on how much you and I give to our local church.

Our giving is an act of obedience and adoration and thanksgiving to the Lord. He commands us to give Him at least the first tenth of our harvest (in today’s economy that would mean at least the first 1/10 of our income). We are to give in obedience to His commands. We are to give Him the best of what we have right off the top. We should arrange our lives so that we can be obedient in this way. But God does not want us to give as drudgery. We are to give to Him in adoration and thanksgiving for what He has done for us through salvation in Jesus Christ. We were destined for hell because of our lifetimes of sin before we laid our life bare before Jesus and asked Him to become our Savior and Lord. There is a reason to give to the Lord joyfully if no other reason. We give to God also in adoration for his care and protection and provision for us when we are His obedient children. For those who are not tithing and more, please consider this form of obedience to the Lord. Don’t do it because you have to; do it because you get to. The Lord says test me on this. If we are obedient to Him in demonstrating to Him that we give him our first and best in our finances, he will make provision for us. He will care for us. He will. It’s not something investment and get a financial return thing. It is blessing according to God’s economy. Putting God first in your finances will change your perspective on what you HAVE TO HAVE.

When we invest in the kingdom through our local church, we get to make investments that have eternal dividends. We get to see people’s lives changed. We get to see our church reach people who need desperately to hear the gospel message of Jesus Christ. It is a hopeless world out there and we get to finance the battle for souls. Do you not want to be part of that? Getting to change lives through Jesus Christ is much better and more eternal than some big fine house or that newest car or that third car or that nice boat or those season tickets to Clemson football or anything that requires more and more money and attention. Instead of paying for all that and then giving God the leftovers, let us move toward giving to God first and then living off the rest. We cannot pick and choose what we want to obey. He commands us on this. If we just give God our leftovers, it costs us little but obedience to the Lord. Let us put God first in our finances and you will see your heart change toward money.

I find it interesting also that David wanted his offering to the Lord to cost him something. To him, offering up a gift to the Lord that was given him by someone is no offering at all. Many of us are the opposite of David, we give God what we have left over, which often very little or nothing. We give God that extra $20 in cash that we have left over from our weekend activities. We may even give God that extra $20 every week and call it tithing. But when we do that we are making obedience to God with our money a low priority. To live our lives on 90% or less of what we make is strange to the American way of life. Most of us live off 104% of what we make, according to recent economic studies. Yes, most of us spend more than what we make (and wonder why we can never pay our credit cards off). But, yet, we honor the Creator of all things with our leftover cash. We may our material pleasures more important than honoring the Lord. Let us be sacrificial, spend less than what we make. Begin giving to the Lord first. Maybe it starts with 1% for you. Start budgeting so that you can give to the Lord in honor, obedience, and thanksgiving. Cut back on all those meals out. Take your tax refunds and pay off debts instead of blowing them on vacations, new car down payments, and so on. Work yourself toward living off of 90% or less of what you make. The Lord will bless it through changed attitudes about money, wealth, and what we use our money for and whose money it is to begin with. The Lord will bless it with timely provision. He provides for those who honor and obey Him when it comes to financial priorities. I can testify to that!

Let us be like David and give honor and thanksgiving and adoration to the Lord with our finances.

Amen and Amen.

2 Samuel 24:18-25 (Part 1 of 3)
David Builds an Altar (Conclusion of 2 Samuel)

You know that there are special place in your life in your spiritual walk. Places that when you revisit them that memories of the significance of the place come flooding back and how the event(s) that took place at this location changed or took your walk with the Lord to the next level. For me, I have those places too. There are those places that are simply strategic geographic locations that have meant much to my walk with the Lord. Not because of the ground itself but because of what happened there.

For me there are several places that are holy to me. First there is Abundant Life Church in Greenville, SC. It was there in December 2001 that I accepted Christ as my Savior. I remember the moment with clarity these 16 years and 9 months later. If I walked into the worship center at this church now, I would most likely not know anyone there. From their website, I know that much has changed there. New pastors, new people, a different mix of people than when I was there as a member. However, if I walked into that worship center now whether it was a Sunday or during the week, the place would be holy ground to me. I would stand there is awe of the change that took place in my life at that moment in 2001. The slow change, the painful change, the process of sanctification that began at that moment when I submitted my life to the leadership of the Lord. I have not been back to that church since July 2004. But if I did it now, these many years later. I would stand in the worship center in awe and in tears probably for what started at that place that Sunday so many years ago. It’s not that the bricks and mortar are important but it was what happened there.

Another holy place to me is the old school in Livermore, CA where the church services and offices of Livermore Alive Community Church was located. The church no longer exists now. It folded back in 2012, two years after left there to move to South Carolina. However, I have driven back by the building which is now a multi-agency community center and the emotions of what happened there overwhelmed me. Just driving by. There was the sadness that the church no longer exists that was a church that was pivotal in my spiritual development, but there was gladness as well. It was there that I was challenged to be more than a baby Christian. It was there that I started growing up in Christ. It was there that I finally got it that being a Christ follower was more than just a weekend thing. It was there that I learned being a Christ follower is an all-in, all the time thing. It is a lifestyle not a hobby. It is the core of your being not just something you do. It was there that I gained a passion for Christ that sustains me to this day. That place is nothing in and of itself but it is what happened there.

The next holy place to me is the “that place on top of the hill” in Lyman, SC where LifeSong Church is located. Wow! What can I say about that place that I haven’t already said a million times in these blogs. It was there that my walk with the Lord was taken to the next level. Livermore Alive was holy ground necessary to prepare me for the holy ground of LifeSong Church. It was there on that holy ground that I became even more passionate about the Lord. It was there that I became a man spiritually speaking. It was there that I became sold-out for the Lord. It was there that Elena and I were ignited to be leaders in the church. It was there that we learned to do whatever it takes to follow the Lord and lead others in doing it. It was there that I heard the call to the ministry. It was there that I became part of a church staff. It was there that my faith in Jesus Christ was exponentially grown. Talk about holy ground! Take about exponential growth of some amazing men of God. Talk about equipping me for ministry. Talk about learning to be a missionary in every aspect of my life! Holy ground!

It was these places in my life that came to mind when I began reading the final passage of 2 Samuel this morning, 2 Samuel 24:18-25. Let’s read about this piece of holy ground in this passage. You may think it’s just a random place designated by God for David to give an offering at that moment in history. Oh but this place is so much more than that. Lets read:

18 That day Gad came to David and said to him, “Go up and build an altar to the Lord on the threshing floor of Araunah the Jebusite.”

19 So David went up to do what the Lord had commanded him. 20 When Araunah saw the king and his men coming toward him, he came and bowed before the king with his face to the ground. 21 “Why have you come, my lord the king?” Araunah asked.

David replied, “I have come to buy your threshing floor and to build an altar to the Lord there, so that he will stop the plague.”

22 “Take it, my lord the king, and use it as you wish,” Araunah said to David. “Here are oxen for the burnt offering, and you can use the threshing boards and ox yokes for wood to build a fire on the altar. 23 I will give it all to you, Your Majesty, and may the Lord your God accept your sacrifice.”

24 But the king replied to Araunah, “No, I insist on buying it, for I will not present burnt offerings to the Lord my God that have cost me nothing.” So David paid him fifty pieces of silver[a] for the threshing floor and the oxen.

25 David built an altar there to the Lord and sacrificed burnt offerings and peace offerings. And the Lord answered his prayer for the land, and the plague on Israel was stopped.

In this passage, the concluding passage of 2 Samuel, we see David at the threshing floor of Araunah the Jebusite. Many scholars theorize that this threshing floor where David built the altar is the location where Abraham nearly sacrificed his son, Isaac (Genesis 22:1-18). After David’s death, Solomon built the temple on this spot. Centuries later, Jesus would teach and preach here. So, this is not just some random spot. It is the focal point of Judeo-Christian history. It is the place where mighty things have happened. This is where the principal fathers of our faith have showed their true devotion to the Lord (Abraham), where David performed his final act of devotion to the Lord, where Solomon built a mighty temple unto the Lord, where Jesus spent his final days preaching and teaching the faithful and rebuking the religious elite. It was here that He sealed his fate to be sacrificed on the cross for our sins. This is a place of sacrifice then. It is an important place to God. Things happened here that are important to us as Christians.

What are your holy places? What are the significant landmarks in your life and your walk with Lord. The places themselves are just geography but what happened at those places are what the important thing is. What are those pivotal places where you met Jesus and gave your life to Him? What are those pivotal places that you became passionate about Christ? What are those places that you grew up in Christ? What are those places not for the places themselves but what happened there? It is good to remember these places not for the places themselves but to remember how far God has brought you! Looking back on occasion helps us see what God has done in our lives so far…and help us to trust where He is taking us now. One day I will look back at Calvary Church of the Quad Cities over there on 4700 53rd Street in Moline IL as one of those holy ground places. Already I have learned so much there. Just imagine ten years from now how special that place will be in my spiritual history.

Amen and Amen.

2 Samuel 24:1-17
David Takes A Census

My wife and I have been in the process over the last couple of weeks of premarital counseling with a couple that has decided to do things God’s way. They have been living together not married and have decided now to honor God with their living arrangements. Prior to a few months ago, they had never really thought about their living together not married as being an issue. The reason that this couple is so special to us is that they are us 9 years ago. We see ourselves in them.

Nine years ago, I had been living in California for a year and a half. My temporary assignment at my company’s buy/resale division in Santa Clara, CA had now become a permanent assignment. I was sent out there from our main office in the Greenville, SC area to assist the division to get their accounting function straightened out. It was a mess and needed help. While I was out there, the controller decided to take a job outside the organization. Immediately, the division there offered me the job and I accepted. At that point, Elena had to decide whether to (1) break up with me or (2) move to California to be with me. Since Option #1 was not an option at all, she moved to California to be with me in August 2009. She got a transfer to her company’s location in Stockton, CA doing the same thing for her company that she had been doing at their location in Charlotte for many years. We found a town that was halfway in between Santa Clara and Stockton. It was Livermore, CA. We found a nice apartment complex there.

After several weeks of visiting other churches, we found one that fit us. It was Livermore Alive Community Church. We fell in love with this brand new church that was a church plant from its mother church in Fremont. We loved the pastor and his wife particularly. There was an instant connection there between the four of us. They were about 10 years younger than us but they were so engaging and their likes and dislikes were about the same as ours so the age difference didn’t matter. They became our spiritual mentors. Luke, the pastor, challenged me plenty and often about being more than “box on the shelf” Christian (a box that I pulled down on Sundays and played with and then put back up on the shelf afterwards). Felisha and Elena were like two peas in a pod. They had a soul connection. Felisha and Luke led my wife to the cross in their living room during life group. Luke pushed me beyond being the baby Christian that I had been since accepting Christ as my Savior eight years earlier. We got serious about being Christ followers while we under their care. We became aware and began to live the 24/7 Christian life. It was no longer church as a thing you do. It was now church and Jesus Christ being at the center of our lives. We saw being a Christ follower in a new holistic way that we had never known before.

Because of our deep involvement in every aspect of the small church, when Luke announced to the church that he “was looking for a few good men” to form the team of elders at the church, I jumped at the application process. I went through the application and elder test. Luke scheduled appointments for each of the men who applied. When it was my turn to have my interview with Luke, we met at his house alone. Felisha and the kids were gone. After a few general comments, you know the usual guy-talk between guys who love college football, he laid it on me square in the face. He said, “Although I think you are otherwise qualified to be an elder in our church, you will never be an elder in our church while you are living with a woman that you are not married to!” There it was. Plain and simple. There was a sin in my life that I was not calling a sin.

I tried to hem and haw around the subject but there was no disputing God’s Word and God’s expectations based on that. I had done the theological gymnastics in my mind as to why it was OK for ME to live with someone but not be married. I had this deal with God you know. I had been through so much with my previous marriages, I had rationalized it away that God would give me a pass on this one. Elena and I were committed to each other and we loved each other but the thought of marriage frightened us both. We had both been through two failed marriages already. We didn’t want another. We wanted our “out”, our emergency escape clause, if things did not work out between. We had rationalized it away. It was a deal between us and God, a special exemption for us, you know!

But plain and simple, what we were doing was a sin, and an obvious one at that. Luke exposed it to us and made us look at it. After some soul searching on our parts, we decided that we wanted to do things God’s way and not our own. We confessed our sin to the Lord and about a week after that meeting, Elena and I went over to Luke and Felisha’s house and told them that we wanted to get married the following Sunday, about 8 days away. We were willing to put our fears aside and trust Jesus with our relationship in the covenant of marriage. We were scared to death but we knew we had to trust the Lord with our future as a couple. The following Sunday during a sermons series called “Burning Questions” in which Luke was dissecting the biblical perspective on current hot button issues in society. This particular Sunday, the sermon was about sex God’s way. It was a sermon that celebrated sex but only as it relates to a marriage between a man and a woman. At the end of the sermon, Luke announced that there was a couple in our midst in the church that have decided to do things God’s way and get married instead of just living together. At that moment, we transitioned right into our wedding. It was an awesome way to illustrate in real life what Luke’s sermon was about.

That’s what I thought of this morning as I read 2 Samuel 24:1-17. I thought of how David, blinded by pride, did something against God’s will and did not even realize or had rationalized away the sin. Let’s read the passage now:

Chapter 24
1 Once again the anger of the Lord burned against Israel, and he caused David to harm them by taking a census. “Go and count the people of Israel and Judah,” the Lord told him.

2 So the king said to Joab and the commanders[a] of the army, “Take a census of all the tribes of Israel—from Dan in the north to Beersheba in the south—so I may know how many people there are.”

3 But Joab replied to the king, “May the Lord your God let you live to see a hundred times as many people as there are now! But why, my lord the king, do you want to do this?”

4 But the king insisted that they take the census, so Joab and the commanders of the army went out to count the people of Israel. 5 First they crossed the Jordan and camped at Aroer, south of the town in the valley, in the direction of Gad. Then they went on to Jazer, 6 then to Gilead in the land of Tahtim-hodshi[b] and to Dan-jaan and around to Sidon. 7 Then they came to the fortress of Tyre, and all the towns of the Hivites and Canaanites. Finally, they went south to Judah[c] as far as Beersheba.

8 Having gone through the entire land for nine months and twenty days, they returned to Jerusalem. 9 Joab reported the number of people to the king. There were 800,000 capable warriors in Israel who could handle a sword, and 500,000 in Judah.

10 But after he had taken the census, David’s conscience began to bother him. And he said to the Lord, “I have sinned greatly by taking this census. Please forgive my guilt, Lord, for doing this foolish thing.”

11 The next morning the word of the Lord came to the prophet Gad, who was David’s seer. This was the message: 12 “Go and say to David, ‘This is what the Lord says: I will give you three choices. Choose one of these punishments, and I will inflict it on you.’”

13 So Gad came to David and asked him, “Will you choose three[d] years of famine throughout your land, three months of fleeing from your enemies, or three days of severe plague throughout your land? Think this over and decide what answer I should give the Lord who sent me.”

14 “I’m in a desperate situation!” David replied to Gad. “But let us fall into the hands of the Lord, for his mercy is great. Do not let me fall into human hands.”

15 So the Lord sent a plague upon Israel that morning, and it lasted for three days.[e] A total of 70,000 people died throughout the nation, from Dan in the north to Beersheba in the south. 16 But as the angel was preparing to destroy Jerusalem, the Lord relented and said to the death angel, “Stop! That is enough!” At that moment the angel of the Lord was by the threshing floor of Araunah the Jebusite.

17 When David saw the angel, he said to the Lord, “I am the one who has sinned and done wrong! But these people are as innocent as sheep—what have they done? Let your anger fall against me and my family.”

Here, David took a census of his people simply cause he could. It was a pride thing. He wanted to know how big his kingdom was and how many able bodied soldiers he could muster up if needed. It was purely vanity nothing else. He either did not recognize it as a sin or had rationalized away why it was not. He was OK with it until his prophet called him out on it. The one thing about David is that, even if he had been blinded by pride which caused him to sin and not recognize it here and in the past, when confronted with his sins, he was quick to repent. When called out, he went to the Lord and confessed. That’s the key thing here in this passage and in my illustration.

We must examine ourselves in the light of God’s Word. It is eternally true no matter what. It does not change. There are no special deals for you and me. There is just His truth and our behavior in comparison to it. Simple as that. We can play all the theological gymnastics that we can muster to come to the convoluted conclusion that, though the Bible says what we are doing is a sin, it is OK for us. However, when we have to go through extended exercises to justify why our sin is no longer a sin in God’s eyes, then that ought to be an indication to us that we are in opposition to God’s Word. For example, just think of the amount of time and press (commercials, shows, news reports) and legal wrangling (and reams and reams of paper) that floods us about sexual orientations other than the God-ordained marriage of a man to a woman. On the flip side, a marriage of a man and a woman requires no justification, no theological gymnastics. It is God-ordained. The truth requires no justification. Only sin does.

That’s why I am so proud of this couple that is going to do what we did. They were confronted with their sin. They confessed it. They will be married in just another day. They are us. We were confronted with our sin. We confessed it. We got married. No more theological gymnastics. Just living in God’s truth. The truth of God is timeless, ageless, and eternal. It will never change no matter how you wrap your argument that you sin is OK. The truth requires no justification. Only sin does.

Amen and Amen.

2 Samuel 23:8-39 (Part 2 of 2)
David’s Elite Warriors

Glioblastoma. It was a word until yesterday that was not a part of my vocabulary. I did not even know that it was what caused the death of Senator John McCain a couple of weeks ago. Now, it is a part of our family’s vocabulary. The preliminary diagnosis of yesterday’s MRI is that glioblastoma is what is afflicting my 79 ½ year old father.

He had a mini-stroke two and half years ago in 2016 and at that time they saw a little tiny abnormality in his MRI then but no one was too concerned. My dad recovered from that pretty well. His speech patterns returned to normal. His mind got back to its quick-witted pace. He just moved a lot slower after the mini-stroke but, hey, he was 77 so…you are naturally going to move slower. However, here in the last six weeks his mental and physical state declined rapidly. Forgetfulness. Confusion. Bazaar behavior began cropping up. My stepmom, Sharon (my dad remarried about two years after my mom died in 2010. A romance of two who had lost long-time spouses to death), said that he would get stuck in memories of the past as if they were current events. He began to be unable to dress and bathe himself. All of these bazaar and peculiar behaviors, confused and nonsensical conversations, and detachment from reality came to a head this weekend. So much so that she had him transported to the emergency room to get more assistance from the medical world than she was getting from dad’s neurologist. During that visit, they decided to do an MRI. That scan revealed a large gray mass in his brain. The neurologist on-duty at the hospital, a long-time doctor, told my stepmom that his professional experience tells him that the mass is a glioblastoma cancerous mass. This type of brain cancer is really aggressive. It had grown from a pea size in 2016 to a noticeably large mass in 2-plus years. They will do a biopsy today (which means drilling into his skull near the mass and inserting a probe to analyze the mass and take tissue from it) to confirm the diagnosis. If it is true (which it most likely will be), the prognosis is not good. Typical sufferers from glioblastoma last 12-24 months after diagnosis. Due to its location, there is no real significant surgery that can be done. The only treatment is chemotherapy and radiation. There are about 5-10% of patients that have lived well beyond the typical 12-24 months but it is not common. There is a really small percentage that have fully recovered. At my dad’s age and state of general health, I am just not sure his body is up to the challenge.

All of that said and having shed a few tears over my once ten-feet-tall-and-bullet-proof-dad, it got me to thinking about my dad’s legacy. What is that? What will be said of my dad? His legacy I think is that he was a pastor first and foremost and that (now that I am in full-time ministry) he has two sons in full-time ministry. My brother has been a full-time pastor for thirty something years now and I am now (since 6 ½ months ago) a full-time pastor myself. You can say what you will about my dad. He was a flawed man for sure. But bottom line, his legacy is me and my brother. That will live beyond him. We grew up in it. My brother accepted it. I fought against it but eventually went into the “family business”. That’s the legacy.

That was the thought that came to mind when I read about David’s mighty warriors this morning in 2 Samuel 23:8-39. That thought being leaving behind a positive legacy, leaving behind disciples, is what we are all about as those who are the children of God:

8 These are the names of David’s mightiest warriors. The first was Jashobeam the Hacmonite,[a] who was leader of the Three[b]—the three mightiest warriors among David’s men. He once used his spear to kill 800 enemy warriors in a single battle.[c]

9 Next in rank among the Three was Eleazar son of Dodai, a descendant of Ahoah. Once Eleazar and David stood together against the Philistines when the entire Israelite army had fled. 10 He killed Philistines until his hand was too tired to lift his sword, and the Lord gave him a great victory that day. The rest of the army did not return until it was time to collect the plunder!

11 Next in rank was Shammah son of Agee from Harar. One time the Philistines gathered at Lehi and attacked the Israelites in a field full of lentils. The Israelite army fled, 12 but Shammah[d] held his ground in the middle of the field and beat back the Philistines. So the Lord brought about a great victory.

13 Once during the harvest, when David was at the cave of Adullam, the Philistine army was camped in the valley of Rephaim. The Three (who were among the Thirty—an elite group among David’s fighting men) went down to meet him there. 14 David was staying in the stronghold at the time, and a Philistine detachment had occupied the town of Bethlehem.

15 David remarked longingly to his men, “Oh, how I would love some of that good water from the well by the gate in Bethlehem.” 16 So the Three broke through the Philistine lines, drew some water from the well by the gate in Bethlehem, and brought it back to David. But he refused to drink it. Instead, he poured it out as an offering to the Lord. 17 “The Lord forbid that I should drink this!” he exclaimed. “This water is as precious as the blood of these men[e] who risked their lives to bring it to me.” So David did not drink it. These are examples of the exploits of the Three.
David’s Thirty Mighty Men

18 Abishai son of Zeruiah, the brother of Joab, was the leader of the Thirty.[f] He once used his spear to kill 300 enemy warriors in a single battle. It was by such feats that he became as famous as the Three. 19 Abishai was the most famous of the Thirty[g] and was their commander, though he was not one of the Three.

20 There was also Benaiah son of Jehoiada, a valiant warrior[h] from Kabzeel. He did many heroic deeds, which included killing two champions[i] of Moab. Another time, on a snowy day, he chased a lion down into a pit and killed it. 21 Once, armed only with a club, he killed an imposing Egyptian warrior who was armed with a spear. Benaiah wrenched the spear from the Egyptian’s hand and killed him with it. 22 Deeds like these made Benaiah as famous as the Three mightiest warriors. 23 He was more honored than the other members of the Thirty, though he was not one of the Three. And David made him captain of his bodyguard.

24 Other members of the Thirty included:

Asahel, Joab’s brother;
Elhanan son of Dodo from Bethlehem;
25
Shammah from Harod;
Elika from Harod;
26
Helez from Pelon[j];
Ira son of Ikkesh from Tekoa;
27
Abiezer from Anathoth;
Sibbecai[k] from Hushah;
28
Zalmon from Ahoah;
Maharai from Netophah;
29
Heled[l] son of Baanah from Netophah;
Ithai[m] son of Ribai from Gibeah (in the land of Benjamin);
30
Benaiah from Pirathon;
Hurai[n] from Nahale-gaash[o];
31
Abi-albon from Arabah;
Azmaveth from Bahurim;
32
Eliahba from Shaalbon;
the sons of Jashen;
Jonathan 33 son of Shagee[p] from Harar;
Ahiam son of Sharar from Harar;
34
Eliphelet son of Ahasbai from Maacah;
Eliam son of Ahithophel from Giloh;
35
Hezro from Carmel;
Paarai from Arba;
36
Igal son of Nathan from Zobah;
Bani from Gad;
37
Zelek from Ammon;
Naharai from Beeroth, the armor bearer of Joab son of Zeruiah;
38
Ira from Jattir;
Gareb from Jattir;
39
Uriah the Hittite.

There were thirty-seven in all.

In this passage, we see that David’s legacy is not the mistakes he made. David’s legacy will be the love that he had for the Lord and the organization that he left behind that served Israel as a whole nation for another 40 years after his death. He left behind disciples that loved him dearly and carried on the quest for excellence that David instilled in them and the love of God that David taught them and lived out in front of them. Sure, David was flawed and sometimes just morally out of bounds completely but that’s not the legacy that we remember. We remember the love of God. We remember the strong nation that he built and handed over to his son, Solomon.

That’s the legacy that my dad will leave behind – my brother an me. We will carry on the family business of ministry in his honor. We will carry on his insatiable thirst for knowledge about God and theology. We will carry on his desire for excellence in what you do. We will carry on his love for Jesus Christ that he lived out in front of us.

What legacy will you leave your children?

Amen and Amen.

2 Samuel 23:8-39 (Part 1 of 2)
David’s Elite Warriors

Have you ever been part of a championship team in your life? One of the greatest teams that I was ever a part of was when I was only 12 years old. I was living in Anderson, SC at the time as my dad served as associate pastor at a large church in that city, Trinity United Methodist Church. It was there that I found my championship team. Even though it is now 44 years later, I still remember those days of our 12 & Under church league basketball team. We were a team that started slowly because many of us had never played together before. My friend Eddie Younts and I were the most skilled players of the team but the rest of the team was pretty good but none of them were the go-to guys when we needed a basket. Each player had his role and each accepted that. But those first two games of the year we got skunked pretty badly in both because we all didn’t play as a team but by that third game we started to get and we only lost one more game during the regular season and we ended up being the second seed in the season ending tournament. We blistered our first two opponents pretty badly in the tournament and then came the team we had lost twice to during the regular season, Boulevard Baptist Church. We were by far the best teams in our league and that championship game was one to remember for us as 11 and 12 year olds.

We played so well in that championship game as a team. Even our center who was just a gangly tall kid became a force on the inside with rebounds. Eddie and I played our best games each. No look passes to each other, communicating with our eyes on offense and defense. It was our finest moment as a team in the biggest game. We won that game by 5 and we celebrated as if we had won the national championship in college basketball. It was an awesome highlight moment. Those moments where you just truly connect with the people you have been through the battles with. There’s that soul connection when you are a team that just gets each other. You love them. You would take a bullet for them. And now that I think back on it, the one thing that distinguished us was our coach, Coach Middleton. He was a mild-mannered church member but he ended up molding us into a team that together was far beyond what we were individually.

He was tough on us from the beginning. He worked us to death on ball skills and defense when we would rather be running and shooting. He would run us to death at some point during practice with suicide drills (for the uninformed, suicide drills are where you run from one end of the court to the other, touch the end line with your hand and run back to the other end of the court and touch the other end line with your hand – repeatedly). If one of us would not follow directions, the whole team would do suicide drills. He expected a lot of these rag tag bunch of 11 and 12 year olds. He actually taught plays for us to run on offense and defensive sets to be in on that side of the court. He treated us like we were adults and expected us to pick up all the details. His practices were some of the toughest things I have ever been through (including high school football practices). But though he was tough on us, he praised us when we did things right and began to work as a team. As the season progressed, we fell in line behind his leadership. We loved that man. We would have took a bullet for him. I have never seen a grown man tear up as much as he did when the final seconds of that championship game ticked off. He was a proud father figure to a bunch of kids that were highly individual when we met him in those first December practices, but who he molded into a band of brothers by that early March championship game. Even all these years later, I still remember the toughness he instilled in us. I still remember that “band of brothers” feeling he produced in us. It still is a fond memory of a time in my life that I occasionally revisit with vivid memory when the thought crosses my mind.

That was the thought that came to mind when I read about David’s mighty warriors this morning in 2 Samuel 23:8-39. That thought being about how great leadership takes individuals and makes them into a great team together:

8 These are the names of David’s mightiest warriors. The first was Jashobeam the Hacmonite,[a] who was leader of the Three[b]—the three mightiest warriors among David’s men. He once used his spear to kill 800 enemy warriors in a single battle.[c]

9 Next in rank among the Three was Eleazar son of Dodai, a descendant of Ahoah. Once Eleazar and David stood together against the Philistines when the entire Israelite army had fled. 10 He killed Philistines until his hand was too tired to lift his sword, and the Lord gave him a great victory that day. The rest of the army did not return until it was time to collect the plunder!

11 Next in rank was Shammah son of Agee from Harar. One time the Philistines gathered at Lehi and attacked the Israelites in a field full of lentils. The Israelite army fled, 12 but Shammah[d] held his ground in the middle of the field and beat back the Philistines. So the Lord brought about a great victory.

13 Once during the harvest, when David was at the cave of Adullam, the Philistine army was camped in the valley of Rephaim. The Three (who were among the Thirty—an elite group among David’s fighting men) went down to meet him there. 14 David was staying in the stronghold at the time, and a Philistine detachment had occupied the town of Bethlehem.

15 David remarked longingly to his men, “Oh, how I would love some of that good water from the well by the gate in Bethlehem.” 16 So the Three broke through the Philistine lines, drew some water from the well by the gate in Bethlehem, and brought it back to David. But he refused to drink it. Instead, he poured it out as an offering to the Lord. 17 “The Lord forbid that I should drink this!” he exclaimed. “This water is as precious as the blood of these men[e] who risked their lives to bring it to me.” So David did not drink it. These are examples of the exploits of the Three.

18 Abishai son of Zeruiah, the brother of Joab, was the leader of the Thirty.[f] He once used his spear to kill 300 enemy warriors in a single battle. It was by such feats that he became as famous as the Three. 19 Abishai was the most famous of the Thirty[g] and was their commander, though he was not one of the Three.

20 There was also Benaiah son of Jehoiada, a valiant warrior[h] from Kabzeel. He did many heroic deeds, which included killing two champions[i] of Moab. Another time, on a snowy day, he chased a lion down into a pit and killed it. 21 Once, armed only with a club, he killed an imposing Egyptian warrior who was armed with a spear. Benaiah wrenched the spear from the Egyptian’s hand and killed him with it. 22 Deeds like these made Benaiah as famous as the Three mightiest warriors. 23 He was more honored than the other members of the Thirty, though he was not one of the Three. And David made him captain of his bodyguard.

24 Other members of the Thirty included:

Asahel, Joab’s brother;
Elhanan son of Dodo from Bethlehem;
25
Shammah from Harod;
Elika from Harod;
26
Helez from Pelon[j];
Ira son of Ikkesh from Tekoa;
27
Abiezer from Anathoth;
Sibbecai[k] from Hushah;
28
Zalmon from Ahoah;
Maharai from Netophah;
29
Heled[l] son of Baanah from Netophah;
Ithai[m] son of Ribai from Gibeah (in the land of Benjamin);
30
Benaiah from Pirathon;
Hurai[n] from Nahale-gaash[o];
31
Abi-albon from Arabah;
Azmaveth from Bahurim;
32
Eliahba from Shaalbon;
the sons of Jashen;
Jonathan 33 son of Shagee[p] from Harar;
Ahiam son of Sharar from Harar;
34
Eliphelet son of Ahasbai from Maacah;
Eliam son of Ahithophel from Giloh;
35
Hezro from Carmel;
Paarai from Arba;
36
Igal son of Nathan from Zobah;
Bani from Gad;
37
Zelek from Ammon;
Naharai from Beeroth, the armor bearer of Joab son of Zeruiah;
38
Ira from Jattir;
Gareb from Jattir;
39
Uriah the Hittite.

There were thirty-seven in all.

In this passage, we see how these verses tell of the exploits that the special corps of David’s army carried out (they were the Army Special Forces, the Navy SEALS, the Marines Force Recon, the Air Force Special Ops teams of their day). There were two groups of elite men: The Three and The Thirty. To become a member of such a group, a man had to show unparalleled courage in battle as well as wisdom in leadership. “The Three” was the most elite group. The list of “The Thirty” actually contains 37 names but mentions some warriors known to be dead from our readings of the biblical texts (Uriah is an example – he was one of “The Thirty” who was purposely deserted on the battlefield by order David so that he would be killed in action – the whole Bathsheba incident). Thus, the list contains the original member’s name plus his later replacement.

Although David makes major blunders in leadership during his time as a military leader and then as king, one way to understand his successes is to notice the kind of men who followed him. During the time Saul was hunting him, David gradually built a fighting fore of several hundred men. Some were relatives, others were outcasts from society, many were in trouble with the law, but they all had one trait in common – complete devotion to David. Their achievements made them famous. Scripture gives us the impression that these men were motivated to greatness by the personal qualities of their leader, David. David inspired them to achieve beyond their goals and meet their true potential. Likewise, the leaders we follow and the causes to which we commit ourselves will affect our lives. David’s effectiveness was clearly connected to his awareness of God’s leading. He was a good leader when he followed the leadership of God. When David was in alignment with God, he was able to take a rag-tag bunch of misfits and turn them into an elite fighting force.

In just the same way, Coach Middleton did the same for us. We were a bunch of middle class, bratty 11 and 12 year olds that thought we knew it all and thought we the Julius Ervings of that time period. Jordan had not come along yet so Julius Erving (Dr. J.) was the man in the NBA. We thought too that we were little versions of the great stars of college basketball of the time. He shattered that idea quickly and if we were going to be on his team we were going to play like a team. It was kind of like Remember the Titans where they went to summer camp and the coach built a team in the two a days of a hot August in Virginia. You have break the individual so that you can build a team. Coach Middleton built us into a team because we knew he put us through all that for a reason and eventually we saw the results on the court and we began to be willing to follow him through fire. Great leaders expect excellence and draw it out of you. Great leaders develop a team first attitude and make you believe in one another and seek the best for each other. Lessons learned under Coach Middleton resonate to this day in my life.

In just the same way, Jesus did the same for his elite three (John, James, and Peter) and overall, The Twelve. He takes a rag-tag bunch of guys from all different walks of life and he invests in them. He’s tough on them. But he invests his heart in them. He prepares them for the day when he will no longer be with them. He instills in them the lessons of the kingdom and sends the Holy Spirit upon them and molds them into a force that the world has never seen before or since. These disciples of Jesus Christ literally changed the course of human history. They were so passionate about their leader that they spread Christianity from Jerusalem to the far reaches of India in one direction and to Spain in the other direction and down into North Africa within the first 100 years after Jesus’ death and resurrection. Talk about your championship teams molded by a great leader!

Jesus can do the same thing for you and me. He can take you and me as maybe a highly self-centered person, maybe a social outcast, maybe a troublemaker, maybe a _______ (fill-in the blank), and make us into a redeemed child of God. Through salvation in Him, we go from someone destined for trouble and to hell into a person made holy, clean, and useful to the kingdom, part of the kingdom team. So, if you think that your past disqualifies you from being useful to the kingdom, just think of the fact that Jesus turned some salty fishermen, a tax collector, and rebel against Roman occupation, and generally just a rag-tag bunch of average guys into world changers. They were not the religious elite of their day. They were just common folk with nasty, dirty lives that would be embarrassing and condemning before God and molded them into the greatest evangelists that the world has ever known. You, too, can become part of Jesus’ championship team just by submitting your life to His leadership and giving Him complete allegiance in every aspect of your life.

Then, you will be part of the greatest team…Jesus’ team. The work is hard. The rewards in this lifetime may be few, but together we are a team of Christ followers who will follow Him through the fires of this life because He inspires us to do great things for the kingdom that we could never do on our own.

Amen and Amen.

2 Samuel 23:1-7
David’s Last Words

To hear people call me Pastor Mark these days is just a testament to the grace of God. When I look back at my past, I think how can this be? I grew up as a preacher’s kid. I was at church every time the doors were open. But accepting Christ as my Savior was not part of the deal for me, then. I was numb to the church. I was there all the time. The majesty and wonder of church, of Jesus Christ, of the things of God is was all just part of the “family business” to me. Then, after getting married at age 18, I was in a little family church made of three main families of which my first wife was a part. The church was more of a social club than a church. There was no discipleship. No challenges to be more than just a good person making good choices. I was never confronted with who I am in Christ. Then, in college, at a liberal arts university, all my beliefs were challenged, especially about the existence of God, who Jesus was, and what the Bible was. My faith was so shallow that it blew me away.

Then after college, life happened. My life revolved around not so much about pleasing God but pleasing the women in my life and living the rollercoaster that such a world is. I made poor choices. I bent my morality to the breaking point whenever it was convenient. Life was a series of two marriages, divorces, seeking value in sex and alcohol and never truly finding it. When I look back on the man that I was before I finally came to Christ as my Savior at age 39, it sickens me. What I could have done differently if I had just met Jesus when I was younger. I envy those who accepted Christ as a child or even as a teenager or early 20s. The pastors that I work with are career pastors who have been in Christ since they were teens. Then there’s me. When I think about the mess that my life was before Christ and even in the maturation process in Christ since the cross, it saddens me deeply at the man that I was.

To hear someone call me Pastor Mark is surreal. This is something that I have been aiming for in some way, shape or form since the day of my salvation in December 2001 but specifically since 2011 when I entered seminary. The road from who I was at age 18 when I married the first until that point is a testament to the loving nature of God – how he guided me to the cross, how he guided me toward preparing for ministry, and how he guided me to this day where I am a pastor. But to think of the depths of my sinfulness and to now be a pastor with a desire to go wherever, and do whatever God desires of me is a testament to Holy Spirit sanctification.

To think of the man that I was, the sins that I committed, and to think of how God redeemed all of that and has made me His child and His child who is serving Him full-time is evidence that the Holy Spirit does indeed change us from the inside out. To me, I do not want to ever lose the memories of the man that I was. I want to continually look back and be revolted by the pre-salvation Mark. It will keep me humble. Grace is a wonderful thing but if I ever forget that I was the worst of sinners then I will become prideful and think that I have arrived. It is through my past littered with sins, broken relationships, poor choices, situational ethics, etc. that it keeps me humble.

So, when people at my church lovingly call me Pastor Mark, it almost makes me cry when I think of it. To know that God reclaimed me, a dreadful sinner, and cleaned me up and set me on a high place just makes me well up with emotion. To know that He sees enough usable materials in me to allow me to become a pastor is just, well, an indescribable miracle gift. Now, the thing is to move forward and use my past to help others see the cross and accept Christ as their Savior. Now, the thing is to help Christ followers deepen their relationship with Jesus Christ. Yes, I have a past that makes me want to throw up but God will make it useful in the kingdom. Yes, I have a past but God has washed me clean and set me free from the penalties of my sins. Yes, I have a past but God makes us useful to Him. Each one of us who is a Christ follower most likely has a past that we are not proud of. Let it keep us humble. The only difference between us and the non-believer is salvation in Christ. We are all sinners granted grace. None of us have a right to be proud. We are sinners who have been granted a reprieve from the penalty of our sins and have been made clean and useful. So, that on our final days on this earth, we can say that we are forgiven, we have been useful and that the Lord sees us as pure and spotless.

I hope that I never get any less emotional to the point of tears when I hear someone call me Pastor Mark. That is just an amazing testimony of what God can do. That idea of how we are made clean in Christ is what I thought of when I read this passage, 2 Samuel 23:1-7, this morning and how David can sincerely make these claims in this passage even though he was a dreadful sinner as king of Israel. Let’s read it now together:

Chapter 23
1 These are the last words of David:

“David, the son of Jesse, speaks—
David, the man who was raised up so high,
David, the man anointed by the God of Jacob,
David, the sweet psalmist of Israel.[a]

2
“The Spirit of the Lord speaks through me;
his words are upon my tongue.
3
The God of Israel spoke.
The Rock of Israel said to me:
‘The one who rules righteously,
who rules in the fear of God,
4
is like the light of morning at sunrise,
like a morning without clouds,
like the gleaming of the sun
on new grass after rain.’

5
“Is it not my family God has chosen?
Yes, he has made an everlasting covenant with me.
His agreement is arranged and guaranteed in every detail.
He will ensure my safety and success.
6
But the godless are like thorns to be thrown away,
for they tear the hand that touches them.
7
One must use iron tools to chop them down;
they will be totally consumed by fire.”
Our text says, “Now these are the last words of David” (v. 1). However, 1 Kings 2:2-9 give us David’s real last words—David’s instructions from his deathbed to Solomon, who will succeed David as king. Those words are quite different from the lofty words of our text from 2 Samuel. In 1 Kings 2, David instructs Solomon to be faithful to God. Then he instructs Solomon to deal loyally with the sons of Barzillai, who had supported David in his hour of need. He instructs Solomon to deal harshly with Joab and Shimei. So, maybe, this is David’s last public words or last written words. Regardless, the words here are pretty lofty when you think about all that has transpired in David’s house since he became king.

Is David’s house really like this? David’s house, where Amnon raped Tamar? David’s house, where Absalom killed Amnon and raised an army against his father? David’s house, where the royal line will proceed through the child of Bathsheba, a woman whom David “took” both before and after killing her husband? David’s house, under which the people have suffered civil war already and under which they will come to suffer conquest? David may be the beloved of God, but is his house really like the sun? However it was intended, the identification of David’s house with the righteous sun in verse 5 includes both an affirmation and a question.

Remember, too, that David was just a lowly shepherd boy. He had no great lineage as the son of Jesse. Much earlier, while Saul was king, God sent Samuel to anoint David as Saul’s successor (1 Samuel 16). We remember how Jesse marched one tall, good looking son after another before Samuel, but God rejected each of them. After Jesse had marched seven sons before Samuel, Samuel had to ask if Jesse might have another son. Then Jesse remembered that he did, indeed, have one more son—David, his youngest son, who was tending sheep in the wilderness. Jesse hadn’t thought of David sooner, because Jesse had so many other sons who seemed better candidates than young David. But God chose David, the least of Jesse’s sons, to become the greatest of Israel’s kings. God often chooses the least likely candidates for the greatest tasks, because that makes it clear that the resultant successes are due to God’s power—not the person’s strength or wisdom.

What we might be inclined to forget is that Jesse was as unlikely a candidate to become the father of Israel’s great king as David was to be that king. Jesse was just an ordinary man—common—undistinguished. God didn’t choose Jesse because he was great, but because he was not great. When our text says that David was “the son of Jesse,” it reminds us that David came from undistinguished stock. Not that Jesse and David would remain undistinguished! Not at all! But Jesse and David became great because God chose them—not because they were inherently great. God exalted David, anointed him, and made him his favorite. As a result, David enjoyed great success as Israel’s king. Now David shows that he realizes that his success was God’s gift. It was God who chose him. It was God who gave him the victory over Goliath. It was God who gave him victory over his enemies. It was God who gave the city of Jerusalem into his hands.

When we look back at our lives and all the stuff that we did prior to accepting Christ as our Savior, it makes us look as though we are unlikely candidates to be the favored ones of God. In my own life, I know, like David, there is so much that I am ashamed of. There is so much in my past that I wish that I could change. There is so much back there that curdles my stomach to know now that I did those things with impunity back then. It was either outright rebellious sin (the “I don’t care if this is a sin” attitude) or sins committed under the influence of others or sins that I committed because I thought of me and God having a deal to suspend His laws in this one area for me alone (because of all I had been through). It sickens me to think of those things. I am sure that David felt the same way about his past as he draws near to the end of his life.

However, true repentance in Jesus Christ washes away our sins and makes us clean and whole and as bright as the noonday sun. Our salvation in Jesus Christ changes us from the inside out such that we become more and more like Him each day until we are made perfect on that day that we meet Jesus in heaven. We still sin along the way but those sins revolt us in our gut as we mature in Christ such that the Holy Spirit moves us away from one sin type after another through the sanctification process. We are made fresh and new like the dew on newly cut grass on a summer morning. Our house is made clean. Our house is made clean through the gift of grace that is an everlasting covenant between us and God. He doesn’t need to give us this gift. We are dead to rights in our sins. But He loves us so much that He gave us Jesus Christ.

So, at the end of his life, David was able to speak with a clear conscience. Though there had been many consequences to his sins over the years that made his reign seem like a couple years in the storyline of your favorite soap opera, he has sought repentance and was granted forgiveness. Just as David was made clean through repentance and forgiveness, so too can we find forgiveness in Jesus Christ through repentance over our sins. That does not change the past and the horrible things that we did and we should feel revulsion and shame each and every time we reflect on our sins but through Jesus Christ we can be made clean and whole again in the presence of God.

May we come to tears when we think of this fact. May we stay humble because of it. May we be brought to the point of tears when someone calls us a Christ follower. What greater compliment can be paid to us knowing what Jesus reclaimed us from than for someone to note that we are a Christ follower.

Amen and Amen.