Diggin' Deep

I wonder how many times I zip through passages in my bible reading without digging out the true meaning of a passage. I hope I'm not the only one who does this! :)  How many times do you have questions about what you've just read, only to put the question out of your mind and go on to the next familiar passage?

These days I'm trying to dig deeper into what I'm reading during my daily quiet time with God.  Consequently, I've had to get up a little earlier to accomodate my new quest.  However it has been rewarding.  Last night's reading was interesting.  As I finished up 2 Samuel I came to the following passage:

And again the anger of the LORD was kindled against Israel, and he moved David against them to say, Go, number Israel and Judah.   2 Samuel 24:1

I had lots of questions here.  First, why was God's anger kindled again against Israel?  Hard telling.  I supposed that Israel might have been up to no good again.  Next, I was confused about it appearing that God caused David to sin by causing him to go number Israel and Judah?'.  I knew that God doesn't tempt people to sin (James 1:5) so there must have been another answer.  The answer here can't be found unless we go digging, which for once, I decided to do.  In the cross-reference of my bible, I checked out the following passage in 1  Chronicles 21:1 which further elaborated on my passage in question:

And Satan stood up against Israel, and provoked David to number Israel.

Interesting, huh?  Satan is everywhere in the bible.  While God is in control of everything, God still allowed Satan to tempt David, just as He allowed Satan to harass Job (Job 1:6-9).  Unfortunately, David succombed to the temptation, probably due to pride  and counted the people.  God's judgment on the people ensued, and David was in a way God's instrument of punishment on a nation He was angry against anyway.  Why didn't God just punish Israel instead of getting poor old David involved?  Maybe God wanted to humble David just a wee bit more.  Who knows.  But the story is interesting nonetheless.

So what lessons can we learn here in the midst of all my fun and babbling about this?

1) Sometimes bible study involves not being lazy.

2) Satan was present in Job's day.  Satan was present in David's day.  And Satan is present in our day.  Be on the lookout for his wiley ways.

3) While the bible may have apparent contradictions, there are no real contradictions.  Dig a little deeper to find the truth.

4) God is still in control.

Until next time...

Newness of Life

Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life.  - Romans 6:4

Do you feel forgiven by God? Totally?  As I read 2 Samuel 22, I noticed the freedom that King David had to speak to God the words of a song of thanksgiving for all of the good that God had done for him through the years.  We all know that David did not live a perfect life, but David kept moving forward

through his folly of sin
through his fear of death
through his faithlessness  in God.

Not once in David's song in this chapter do we see evidence of God's remembrance of David's sin with Bathsheba or David's forgetfulness to consult God on occasion throughout his life.  God rewarded David not because he was perfect, but because he tried wholeheartedly through the ups and downs of life to follow God's direction.  I don't know about anyone else, but that is a comfort to me as I travel down my own journey of life. 

Have you asked Jesus to personally come into your life to deliver you from the consequences of your sin?  Do you believe that Jesus was sent by God as payment for your sin through His physical death on the cross?  Do you believe that He rose again to life in victory and still lives today so that we can walk in newness of life, forgiven, free and worthy before God to gain entrance into heaven rather than suffer the wrath of hell?  Jesus is truth, and He will set us free from all of those heavy burdens we carry around with us, just as David was set free so many years ago.  If you want to get to know Him on a personal level, click here for answers.

Making Comparisons

2 Cor 10:12 For we dare not class ourselves or compare ourselves with those who commend themselves. But they, measuring themselves by themselves, and comparing themselves among themselves, are not wise.  (NKJV)

Is the Christmas season stressing anyone out yet?  Do you spend time worrying about what other families are doing to commemorate Jesus' birth?  What about Christmas decorations?  Do you wish you had what others had?  I know I sometimes fall into the trap of comparing what I'm doing to other people and honestly, what good does it do?

Comparing ourselves to others causes more harm than good in more than one way.  I suppose that is why the bible tells us not to compare, huh?  In 2 Samuel 17:23, we see a suicide as a result of feelings of inadequacy over this issue.

Now when Ahithophel saw that his advice was not followed, he saddled a donkey, and arose and went home to his house, to his city. Then he put his household in order, and hanged himself, and died; and he was buried in his father’s tomb.  (NKJV)

For a little background on the story, Ahithophel was the trusted advisor of King David but was called on by Absalom, David's rebellious son, to give advice regarding how Absalom could overtake David's throne.  Little did Ahithophel know, but the fact that his counsel was not taken by Absalom over Hushai's counsel (a man sent by David to Absalom to confuse things a little) was an answer to prayer.

Poor Ahithophel.  I wonder if his pride got the best of him because his advice was not taken.  His advice was not taken because of preference toward another, Hushai, a man sent by David to confuse Absalom. After all, Hushai was a "nobody" and he was a "somebody".  I believe that pride led to his untimely demise at his own hand.

So can you see how this might relate to us?  Comparing ourselves to others rarely gets us anywhere that God wants us to be.   It can make us complacent in our walk and service to God if we think we are doing better than others but it can also depress us into a state of paralysis because of low self esteem.  Either way, the art of comparison gets us nowhere.  For our own well-being, we need to just keep our eyes looking upward and onward to the job that God has us to do right where we are. 

Things to think about:

1) How am I comparing myself to others around me?

2) If I feel good or bad about myself when comparing, why is that so?

3) What is it that I sense God would have me to do in my situation, today?

In Light of the Crystal Ball

I wonder how I would live my life if I knew that something bad was going to happen to me in the future.  Now, I'm not talking about an unreal fear that is merely a result of worry that has taken on the form of a mental parade towards disaster.   I'm speaking of hearing God's words through a prophet telling me of the doom and gloom to come. 

I doubt that many of us in this day and age will ever hear from a true prophet of God in this way or any other way for that matter.  However, back in King David's time, he did.  Do you remember after the whole Bathsheba-adultery-murder incident, that time in David's life I'm sure he wished never happened, how Nathan the prophet told David that the Lord would raise up evil against him out of his own house? (2 Sam 12:11)  I'm sure that David remembered.  I wonder if he lived in fear each day, waiting for a sign of the evil to come to pass.

The "sign" finally did come.  "A messenger came and told David 'The hearts of the men of Israel are with Absalom." (2 Sam 15:13 NIV).  Absalom, David's son, was conspiring to take over David's kingdom.  I was surprised in a way at David's reaction to this news.  Rather than immediately praying to God for advice as we've seen him do time and time again, David gathered up his men and fled Jerusalem. My question then is, was David acting out of fear and panic or out of wisdom and discernment of God's will?  I'm betting on the panic attack.

So how does this story apply to you and to me?  After all, as I alluded to earlier, I doubt that we will ever have the crystal ball shown to us accurately depicting future doom and gloom over our lives.  But haven't you ever "figured out" what was going to happen in your life based on a set of circumstances and then took matters into your own hands to "fix" things?  I know I have.  And I have been wrong before too.  I look at this passage and realize how much like me King David really was.  Yes, I believe that he sought God most of the time more faithfully than I, but even he sometimes reacted to situations before he prayed.  We should all have some comfort in this...that even the best of us sometimes lack faith.  Just as David should have been able to trust in God's many promises for Him, so should we.  We just need to discipline ourselves to come to God in prayer when troubles show their ugly heads rather than react in panic.

Sin and Forgiveness

If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. (1 John 1:9 NKJV)

My heart is heavy as I write this and think about all of the times I have grieved God by my words or deeds.  I want to be a woman after God's heart, as David was a man after God's heart.  Reading the story of David and Bathsheba makes me keenly aware again of how easy it is for anyone to fall away from God's commandments. 

Sin cannot be covered up so that God will never find out about it.  David learned that loud and clear as "the Lord sent Nathan unto David" (2 Samuel 12:1) to make sure that David knew that He knew.  Busted was David!  I wonder if David was relieved that the secret was out as he confessed to Nathan his transgression.  Notice the conversation in 2 Samuel 12:13-14:

And David said unto Nathan, I have sinned against the Lord.  And Nathan said unto David, The Lord also hath put away thy sin; thou shalt not die.

Howbeit, because by this deed thou hast given great occasion to the enemies of the Lord to blaspheme, the child also that is born unto thee shall surely die.

David knew he had sinned and knew that his sin broke God's heart.  Unfortunately, David's sin came with some consequences.   God forgave David of his sin by not putting him to death, as was the custom in that day for adultery.  However, because David's sin had defamed God's name to the surrounding nations because of David's blown testimony, God had no choice but to allow suffering to befall His servant.  David and Bathsheba's first child was destined to die, as well as David was destined to always have some sort of violence come upon his household.  Notice God's words here:

Now therefore  the sword shall never depart from thine house; because thou has despised me, and has taken the wife of Uriah the Hittite to be thy wife.  (1 Sam 12:10)

We don't sin merely against others when we don't do what is right in God's eyes.   Sin hurts God.  It grieves God.  I don't want to grieve God and bet you don't either. 

There is good news though as I've pointed out in the verse at the top of this post.  When we sincerely confess our sins to God, fellowship with Him is restored and He removes our sins from us as far as the east is from the west.  He will not remember our sins.  Isnt' that motivation to confess to God daily/hourly/minute-by-minute?  God will bless us even after He chastises us, just as in the example of David and Bathsheba, if we return to Him with pure hearts.  God rewarded David with another son, Solomon.  I wonder what He will offer us?

To think about:

1) Do I have any unconfessed sin in my life?

2) Am I willing to memorize scripture to keep me from committing as many new sins in the future that I can?

3) What one thing is God asking you to put aside so that you can be a better disciple of His truth?

Kindness Gone Bad

Have you ever purposed to do something nice for someone and had the person question your pure motives?  The poor reaction to a kindness sure takes the joy right out of it, doesn't it?  Following King David on through the book of 2 Samuel we see a similar happening.

In 2 Samuel 10, King David wanted to show a little love to Hanun, the son of Nahash, as his father showed kindness to him.  You see, Hanun's dad had just passed away and David sincerely wanted to comfort him.  Therefore, David sent some of his own servants to comfort him.  Things would have turned out fine had some the Ammonites not bent Hanun's ear regarding the kind gesture.  Look what they said:

And the princes of the people of Ammon said to Hanun their lord, "Do you think that David really honors your father because he has sent comforters to you?  Has David not  rather sent his servants to you to search the city, to spy it out, and to overthrow it?  (2 Samuel 10:3 NKJV)

Hanun listened to the people, not realizing how wrong they were, and " took David's servants, shaved off half of their beards, cut off their garments in the middle, at their buttocks, and sent them away." (2 Samuel 10:4 NKJV).   My, oh my.   This caused a mess.   The Israelites then ended up in battle with the Ammonites and the Syrians.  And all because of a misunderstanding. 

I wonder what would have happened had Hanun's "advisors" not been so skeptical?  The bible says that

To the pure all things are pure, but to those who are defiled and unbelieving nothing is pure; but even their mind and conscience are defiled. (Titus 1:15 NJKV)

This makes me wonder how many times I unfairly question peoples motives for their actions.  Does it make you stop and think? 

A Look in the Mirror:

1) Are my motives pure in all of my actions?  my helps?  my pursuits?

2) How often do I question another's motive for what they are doing or saying?  Sometimes we may rightly be discerning a wrong, but sometime we may be mistaken. 

Determined Kindness

And the king said, Is there not yet any of the house of Saul, that I may show the kindness of God unto him?  -- David, 2 Samuel 9:3

King David was a master musician, a mighty warrior, and a merciful man.  He had the world - at least his corner of it in the land of Israel - at his fingertips.   Yet, he was concerned about doing something nice for the name of his deceased predecessor, Saul, who had continually tried to hunt him down to kill him for no good reason.  This must have been the kindness of God of which David spoke, because I believe our normal human nature would not naturally think this way.

Not only was David's thought of kindness extraordinary, but his act of kindness was over the top.  David found out that a lame grandson of Saul's, Mephibosheth, was still alive and summoned him to his home.  Mephisbosheth was the son of David's best friend, Jonathan.  At first when I saw that Mephisbosheth was Jonathan's son, I was skeptical at the true desire of David to do something nice for Saul's family.  However, remember that when David set out to do his good deed, he didn't know who of  Saul's house was still living.  David restored Mephibosheth's inheritance in Saul's property and allowed him to eat at the king's table for the rest of his life.  (2 Samuel 9:13)

Wow.    Now that is an act of kindness definitely from God.  After all, who is the source of the love and kindness dwelling inside of us anyway?  God.

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffereing, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. (Galatians 5:22-23 NKJV)

Love suffers long and is kind; love does not envy; love does not parade itself, is not puffed up; does not behave rudely, does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. (1 Cor 13:4-7 NKJV)

David was able to exercise kindness even unto Saul's family because David was a man who continually walked with God the best he could.  It is no wonder he had the kindness and love of God in him.  We can all have it.  After all, we have the same God.

To think about:

1) When was the last time I intentionally reached out to offer the kindness of God to someone else?

2) Who can I touch this Christmas season with God's love?

3) How can I show those around me how much God cares about them?

For Our Own Good

God's way is always the best way.  Period.  End of story.  I'm really trying to remember this as I search for a new church home.  I'm trying also to remember that God's timing is also God's way and is also the best.   I'm believing that I won't rush into anything (a church, a ministry opportunity, etc.) until I am fully confident that I've waited on God's timing for my fate.  I am, after all,  a different person than I was several years ago. 

With all of that said, I can see the reason that through my reading of a very lesson-full 2 Samuel 6, the one section that leaped off the page to me was the part about how Uzzah was killed by God for touching the ark of God.  Uzzah was merely trying to keep the ark from jiggling off of the pretty new cart it was being carried on (2 Sam 6:3,6). Why then, was this a problem?

The problem was that God wants things done His way because He has our own best interests at heart.  First of all, the ark of God was supposed to be carried on the shoulders of men via special long poles put through gold rings on the ark (Ex 25:12), rather than be thrown on a cart like a common thing.  Had the ark not been put on a cart, it would not have started to fall off in the first place.   Thus, error #1.  Error #2 was the fact that only priests (I read this in Matthew Henry's commentary) could touch the ark.  Uzzah was not a priest and consequently his carelessness, albeit with good intentions, cost him his life.

So how does this story relate to you and me?  We, after all probably won't be coming into contact with the ark of God.  However, God still has certain plans for our lives that He wants us to take seriously.   While we may not "die" literally from not following His instructions, we will definitely not have the entire life that God has planned for us.   The good news is, if we follow the instruction manual of God's Word, we can have lives that are more abundant than we can imagine.

To think about:

1) How does God want me to live His way today?

2) How can I get to know How God wants me to achieve His purposes for my life?

3) How well do I know God through His word and the instruction manual for life?

Lord, help me to revere you in my both my corporate worship time at church and my personal worship time throughout my daily life's activities.  Show me how I can live for you.  Reveal to me more each day through Your word who You are and how I can do all things Your way.  Amen.

How Shall I Go?

Do you know where you are going this next year physically and spiritually?  Are you in a crossroads in your life where divine direction is needed?  Have you asked God for help and are you willing to wait on His timing rather than your own?  I am full of questions lately as I navigate my recent landscape of the unknown without the familiarity of a church home or ministry involvement.  As I read in 2 Samuel today about newly anointed King David, I was reminded about how much better things will turn out should I choose to rely on God's plans and timing rather than my own.

In 2 Samuel 5, David is officially anointed by the tribes to be king over all of Israel.  King David and his nation begin to prosper and in his heart, David recognizes that he himself had nothing to do with it.  What a humble man.

2 Samuel 5:12 And David perceived that the LORD had established him king over Israel, and that he had exalted his kingdom for his people Israel's sake.

We, like David, need to always be fully aware that we are just a part of God's master plan to be used as He wishes.    David was merely a part of God's master plan for the nation of Israel and the  coming Messiah.   As I read this I thought: "Do I always give God the credit he deserves for my successes?"

To continue the story, upon hearing that David was anointed king, the Philistines went to look for David.  Here was David's response and God's reply to him:

So David inquired of the LORD, saying, "Shall I go up against the Philistines? Will You deliver them into my hand?"

And the LORD said to David, "Go up, for I will doubtless deliver the Philistines into your hand."

(2 Samuel 5:19)

David asked of God, waited for God's reply and acted upon God's direction.  As a result, things turned out nicely for David.  He once again gave God all of the glory for the victory over the Philistines.  Seems simple doesn't it? 

Again in this same chapter we see that the Philistines regrouped and were assembling to again attack Israel.  Once again, David seeks God for direction and this time God tells him to wait for a "sign" before taking action.  Take a look:

Therefore, David inquired of the LORD, and He said, "You shall not go up; circle around behind them, and come upon them in front of the mulberry trees.  And it shall be, when you hear the sound of marching in the tops of the mulberry trees, then you shall advance quickly.  For then the LORD will go out before you to strike the camp of the Philistines.  (2 Samuel 5:23-24)

Do you suppose that the sound of marching God spoke of and that David eventually heard was the sound of God's armies in the spiritual realm going out to battle for God's people?  I think so.   When we are in the middle of God's plan for our lives and are doing God's work here on earth, God will do "battle" for us too.  What an inspiring reality that is for all of us to keep pressing on in our respective callings.   The key is being quiet enough to listen to God's direction and in waiting for His timing to act.


1) Who or what are the "Philistines" in my life?  What "battle" must I now face?"

2) What does God say about how I should fight this "battle"?

3) When should I begin the "fight"?


Have you ever tried to prove your loyalty to someone only to have it backfire on you?  I'm sure we've all done something of this nature and I believe that usually the "proving" comes out of something other than a pure motive.  In 2 Samuel 4, we see such a miscalculation. 

Saul's son, Ishbosheth, had just found out about his father's death and was resting in grief on his bed in the middle of the day  (2 Samuel 4:5).  You would think a person would be safe minding his own business in his own house in the middle of the day.  Think again.  Saul's son, Ishbosheth also had two men that were captains of his armies, who had apparently decided that this day was the day they were going to prove their loyalty to David.  So, these two men/captains went into Ish's house, killed him and took his head way across "town" to David.

First of all, I can't believe that in these times people hauled bloody heads around as souvenirs.  Secondly, as I write this I'm trying to imagine what was going on in the minds of these captains as they betrayed their former "boss" to prove their loyalty to the new king (David).   I bet they thought they were going places.  Little did they know that David was a man of God.  Look at David's response upon finding out about the "deed" and then we'll apply this passage to our lives:

David answered Recab and his brother Baanah, the sons of Rimmon the Beerothite, "As surely as the Lord lives, how has delivered me out of all trouble, when a man told me, 'Saul is dead,' and thought he was bringing good news, I seized him and put him to death in Ziklag.  That was the reward I gave him for his news!  How much more - when wicked men have killed an innocent man in his own house and on his own bed - should I not now demand his blood from you hand and rid the earth of you!" (2 Samuel 4:9-11 NIV)

Yes, the plot of Recab and Baanah didn't quite turn out as they had planned.   They were trying to achieve favor with a man by disobeying the laws of God and ended up dead.   Friends, that never works for long.  We must always strive to please God with pure hearts and pure motives.  If we do that alone, we will win favor with men.

To think about:

1) Who am I serving, really?  Am I trying to impress others by improper deeds?

2) Do I seek God's direction before I act or do I rely on my own wisdom for my decision making?