Saturday, 31 July 2010

A loyal heart

Let your heart therefore be loyal to the LORD our God, to walk in His statutes and keep His commandments, as at this day." – 1 Kings 8v61

David had one more charge for the people as he concluded his Temple dedication. He wanted the people to obey the Lord. Anyone would want that. He was king. He could have just made a law that everyone had to obey.

He wanted more than that though. He wanted them to obey for the right reason. He knew that real obedience comes out of a loyal heart. If the heart is not right and true and loyal then the obedience is always prone to fail.

There is a temptation even today for leaders to concentrate and focus on the submission and obedience and hope that somehow that might result in the heart being right. We think that if people change their shirts the heart will surely follow.

Solomon had it right. If our hearts are loyal all the rest will follow. If hearts are loyal we won't have to worry about the rest.

Imagine what life would be like for the believer if we were motivated not by fear or pressure, but by a loyal heart.

Friday, 30 July 2010

Not one word has failed

Blessed be the LORD, who has given rest to His people Israel, according to all that He promised. There has not failed one word of all His good promise, which He promised through His servant Moses. – 1 Kings 8v56

I am sure that I have mentioned this phrase before because it is a consistent testimony about God through His word. At the dedicatory challenge of the Temple Solomon reminded the people that God had not failed in one single word of all that He had promised.

There is not much in this world that we can count on to always come through. We do have family and friends that we can count on, but circumstances can always arise. We have always tried not to promise our children or grandchildren that we will do anything because even with our best intentions things can always get in the way.

God is different. When He promises something it will come through because He is in control of the circumstances. Nothing is going to catch Him off guard. Nothing is going to surprise Him. In fact, when He says He will do something it is true because He has already done it. God is outside of time so if God says ‘consider it done,’ it is.

Praise God that we can rely on Him to never fail in a single word.

Thursday, 29 July 2010

Yet You hear our prayers

Yet regard the prayer of Your servant and his supplication, O LORD my God, and listen to the cry and the prayer which Your servant is praying before You today: that Your eyes may be open toward this temple night and day, toward the place of which You said, 'My name shall be there,' that You may hear the prayer which Your servant makes toward this place. And may You hear the supplication of Your servant and of Your people Israel, when they pray toward this place. Hear in heaven Your dwelling place; and when You hear, forgive. – 1 Kings 8v28-30

God is everywhere, He cannot be bound. Isaiah tells us that His name is Holy and that He lives in eternity. God knows everything. He can do anything. He is everywhere at once. He never changes. He created and sustained the universe and all that is in it.

To sum it up God is totally separate from man. He is not like us. We cannot even really totally understand Him because His ways are not our ways. His thoughts are not our thoughts. His ways and His thoughts are as far above our ways and our thoughts as the heavens are higher than the earth.

He is perfect, we are sinners.

Yet, God still regards the prayers of His people. That is amazing. It reminds me of the passage in Isaiah 57 where we read that God inhabits eternity, but He also dwells with those with a meek and humble spirit. Astounding. What an amazing God.

The passage following relates how no matter what, if God’s people will repent and turn back to Him, He will hear them. One verse even mentions ‘when we sin, for there is no man who does not sin,’ but then turns back to God He will listen to their prayers.

We can take prayer for granted if we are not careful. Might we pause for a moment to reflect on the amazing nature of prayer? How can a God who cannot be held by the ‘heaven of heavens’ still hear our prayers?

Because He is God. Praise Him that He hears my prayers.

Wednesday, 28 July 2010

God and His Temple

But will God indeed dwell on the earth? Behold, heaven and the heaven of heavens cannot contain You. How much less this temple which I have built! – 1 Kings 8v27

Solomon had completed a solemn task.. God allowed Him to build a permanent dwelling place. After living in a tent for ages God now had His temple built. In a sense this would be God’s house. The priests would come here to meet God. Everyone would acknowledge that if you want to meet God you have to come to the Temple.

Solomon knew that it was mire complicated than that. Yes, in a sense the Temple would be the House of God, but in reality, as Solomon writes, ‘…heaven and the heaven on heavens cannot contain You. How much less this Temple?’

This must be a temptation in men’s minds. We must want our God to be some place special. The Jews had the Temple. Some Christians today see their church building as ‘God’s house’ today. The problem comes when we think that some how we can act differently in the Temple (or our church) than we do when we are away.

God is everywhere. He always has been. He is as much in my workplace as He is in my church. He is as much in my home as much as He is in my church. He is as much on the playing pitch as He is in my church. He is as much in my car as He is in my church.

I often here something like – ‘I would never do that in church.’ I understand that in one regard. There are things that are place appropriate. I, for example, am not going to clip my toenails on the Luas.

However, this is often an excuse to categorise our lives into church lives and non-church lives. We can think that certain behaviours (read sins) are okay if they are not in church. I can treat my family one way in the park, but not in church. I can say certain things in my car, but I would never do that in church. I can listen to certain jokes and stories at work, but I would not listen to the same ones in church.

Remember, God was not bound to the Temple. He is not bound to church. He is wherever we are.

In fact, but I don’t want to go on and on, have a look at 1 Corinthians 6v19-20 for another perspective – ‘…your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit…’

Tuesday, 27 July 2010

Came to hear

And men of all nations, from all the kings of the earth who had heard of his wisdom, came to hear the wisdom of Solomon. – 1 Kings 4v34

Word quickly spread about Solomon’s God given wisdom. Everyone came to hear and experience his wisdom. His wisdom drew the attention of the whole known world.

Solomon’s wisdom was so well noted because his wisdom was God’s wisdom. His wisdom was the only perfect wisdom. Man’s wisdom always has a reliance on himself and therefore is always flawed. Sure, men come up with some aspects of wisdom because we are created in God’s image. But there always are flaws. God’s wisdom is never flawed.

It is interesting that while the whole world was drawn by Solomon’s godly wisdom men today are so quick to seek worldly wisdom.

Today we have all of the wisdom of God in His written word. It is that wisdom that will draw men to Him because it is perfect wisdom. It may be questioned and doubter, but a consistent study and application of Bible wisdom will draw men to Him today just as it did in Solomon’s day.

Monday, 26 July 2010

Largeness of heart

And God gave Solomon wisdom and exceedingly great understanding, and largeness of heart like the sand on the seashore. Thus Solomon's wisdom excelled the wisdom of all the men of the East and all the wisdom of Egypt. – 1 Kings 4v29-30

God gave Solomon wisdom, exceeding great understanding, and largeness of heart. We usually associate wisdom with Solomon. Any one who has any awareness of the Bible would do that. In fact, most people in the west would immediately associate Solomon with wisdom.

Great understanding seems go with that. Solomon had the ability to assess a situation and understand what to do.

Both of these are tremendous assets to a leader. Being wise and understanding how to deal with situations is sure to stand a leader in good stead.

Let’s not miss the last description on the list. Solomon had ‘largeness of heart like the sand on the seashore.’ I don’t think we do that a disservice by saying that Solomon had a big heart. In fact, the Bishop’s Bible and the Geneva Bible use the phrase ‘a large heart.’

Isn’t that a great picture of a leader? Solomon was wiser than any man that lived, he had great understanding, and he had a big heart.

How big was his heart? It was like all the sand on the seashore. What has happened to big heartedness as a character trait? Everyone wants wisdom. Everyone want to understand. But how many of us really desire to have a big heart?

Sunday, 25 July 2010

Give me wisdom

Therefore give to Your servant an understanding heart to judge Your people, that I may discern between good and evil. For who is able to judge this great people of Yours?" Then God said to him: "Because you have asked this thing, and have not asked long life for yourself, nor have asked riches for yourself, nor have asked the life of your enemies, but have asked for yourself understanding to discern justice, behold, I have done according to your words; see, I have given you a wise and understanding heart, so that there has not been anyone like you before you, nor shall any like you arise after you. – 1 Kings 3v9; 11-12

What would you ask for if God told you ask for whatever you wanted and He would give it to you? I can think of all kinds of things off the top of my head. The problem with that kind of question is that for most of us the first thing we think about is what we can get that would make things better for us or those close to us. It is a good question to ask ourselves when we want to know whether or not we are content. The answer to that question can be an indicator of where our hearts really are.

When Solomon became king God offered him that choice. ‘Solomon, tell me what you want.’ What a moment that must have been. Put yourself in his sandals and think about what you would have done. We are not told how long he hesitated before his response. We are not told what went through his mind. But when he did respond the answer was clear.

Solomon remembered all that David his father had done. He knew that God had led David, but he acknowledged that he didn’t have a clue how to lead the nation. So what did he do? He asked God to give him a wise and an understanding heart.

A couple of things had to happen before David could do this. He had to admit that he didn’t have it all figured out. He had to acknowledge that he couldn’t do it alone. He also had to ignore all the temptation to ask for other things that might have satisfied his flesh.

God answered and gave him just that. He gave Solomon wisdom greater than any man.

We can stop there and think of what a great story that is. There is however a lesson for us today.

We too are offered a chance at wisdom. In James chapter one we see how we are to handle trials and difficulties. We can, of course, choose the fleshly response and focus on the trails. Or we can, like Solomon, ask God for wisdom to get through the trials.

At the moment I am battling thoughts of discontentment concerning some things that I think I must have. If God asked me right now what I wanted I fear that those things would be at the top of my list. Would I not do well to follow Solomon’s example and ask for wisdom instead on how to deal with the situation?

Saturday, 24 July 2010

Prove yourself a man

I go the way of all the earth; be strong, therefore, and prove yourself a man. - 1 Kings 2:2

David’s time had come. He had reigned forty years with their attendant highs and lows, successes and failures, good times and bad, and their victories and defeats.

Now it was all done. Solomon, born after perhaps his greatest failure, would be the next king. What could David, as both father and king, pass on to his son?

When I think of what I would do I picture myself at the computer trying to type up a list of all the things I would want to pass on. I fancy myself quite good at giving advice and suggestions. I am often tempted to try and micromanage these situation. I fear that my list would be quite long.

David did mention a couple of special situations that Solomon needed to deal with, but that list is quite short.

The crux of his advice is wrapped up in just a few words. ‘I go the way of all the earth; be strong, therefore, and prove yourself a man. And keep the charge of the LORD your God: to walk in His ways, to keep His statutes, His commandments, His judgments, and His testimonies, as it is written in the Law of Moses, that you may prosper in all that you do and wherever you turn.'

Be strong. Be a man. Follow the commands of the Lord.

Pretty simple, isn’t it? I like the connection between strength, proving yourself a man, and obeying God’s word. We tend to think that a ‘real man’ shows his strength by being totally self- sufficient and independent. A ‘real man’ can handle it, right?

Apparently not. A real man finds his real strength in obeying God.

David’s advice to his son and heir to the kingdom may seem pretty simple, but it is great advice for us today.

Be strong. Prove yourself a man (or woman, of course).Obey God.

Friday, 23 July 2010

I have done foolishly

And David's heart condemned him after he had numbered the people. So David said to the LORD,"I have sinned greatly in what I have done; but now, I pray, O LORD, take away the iniquity of Your servant, for I have done very foolishly." - 2 Samuel 24:10

I’ll admit I don’t fully understand the setting of David’s sin here. It appears that God provoked David to do a census so that He could judge the nation. The Chronicles account makes it a little clearer that God allowed Satan to incite David to sin. This would fit in to the story of Job where God allows the adversary to work in order to carry out His perfect plan.

Either way, David sinned when he decided to take a census of the people, a clear violation of the instructions God had given him.

This time he did not need to be confronted with his sin. His own heart condemned him. He confessed it to God when he clearly admitted, ‘I have sinned and done foolishly.’

Regardless of the details that I may or may not understand, David showed character by not trying to make any excuses himself. He didn’t say, and he could have, ‘the devil made me do it.’ He simple admitted that he had been foolish and he had sinned. His own heart was aware enough that it condemned him.

Though there is ‘condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus’ our hearts do need to be sensitive to our sin. When we see we should not need to be corrected. Our own hearts should be enough.

Our hearts need to be sensitive to sin. Though in Christ our hearts cannot condemn us, they should make us aware of sin so that we can deal with it and move on.

Thursday, 22 July 2010

O what a beautiful morning!

And he shall be like the light of the morning when the sun rises, A morning without clouds, Like the tender grass springing out of the earth, By clear shining after rain.' Samuel 23v4

Rodgers and Hammerstein gave us a song which could almost be taken from this passage in their musical ‘Oklahoma’ when they wrote:

Oh what a beautiful morning, Oh what a beautiful day. I’ve got a wonderful feeling Everything’s coming my way.

We have all had says like that. You wake up, the birds are singing, the sun is shining, there is a freshness to the air, and you feel like you can take on the world. It makes me think of some of the spring days when here in Ireland when the morning makes you glad to be alive.

David reminds us here that we have a future that will be like that. The day will come when it will once again be like Eden where, as a friend posted on Facebook this morning – ‘there was no rain- up until the days of Noah as we know- they recon Paradise had perfect Spring-like weather all year round, not too hot, not too cold-- if moisture was needed ,a kind of mist came up and filled the earth..perfect.’

Man’s sin ruined that, but we will have it again. God’s presence will be like a beautiful sunny morning with no clouds, like when then sun comes out after the rain. While we may have an occasional day like that now spiritually the day is coming when that will be our life.

In the meantime we need to remember with David that God is still here. He will sustain us until that day breaks. Let’s take comfort on those beautiful mornings that one day that will be our life!

Wednesday, 21 July 2010

All my salvation and all my desire

And he shall be like the light of the morning when the sun rises, A morning without clouds, Like the tender grass springing out of the earth, By clear shining after rain.' "Although my house is not so with God, Yet He has made with me an everlasting covenant, Ordered in all things and secure. For this is all my salvation and all my desire; Will He not make it increase? - 2 Samuel 23v4-5

It is God that gives the increase. Some sow, some water, some reap, but it is God that accomplished anything we do. David did not know the truth in that context, but he was well familiar with the fact that we are only tools. It is God that does the work.

David realised that he was not going to build the temple. All he was going to do was to make preparations and gather the materials. That would be crushing to most of our egos, but it is the truth. All God expects us to do is our part and leave the rest up to Him.

William Carey had a change of heart toward his ministry when he realised this. He struggled for years with very little visible success. One day he wrote in his journal that all God wanted him to do was gather the materials for that ministry he would be content with that. Our task is to be faithful and glorify God. If we do that we can let the results rest with Him.

I need this reminder at time. It is God who will give the increase, not me or my frail human efforts. Lets join with David and say ‘This is all my salvation and all my desire!’

Tuesday, 20 July 2010

The Lord lives

"The LORD lives! Blessed be my Rock! Let God be exalted, The Rock of my salvation! – 2 Samuel 22v47

You can almost sense the anticipation building as you read through David’s praise psalm here. I think there is a lesson even in this for us. When we are caught in our troubles we can get mired in them, but if we are focused on praise and glorifying God that leads to more and more praise. Once we really start thinking about Him and focusing on Him it will lead us to the point where we can be consumed by Him and all He is and does.

‘The Lords lives! Blessed be the Rock! Let God be exalted!’

It is so easy to forget these basic truths when we are looking at all the problems and challenges we face. Time magazine infamously asked the question ‘Is God dead?’ on their cover in April 1966. The debate that Time was talking about goes back to a quote by Nietzsche when he said ‘God is dead, and we killed Him.’ What Nietzsche was saying though is that man was wiped God has out of his life and that man was worse off without Him.

Obviously, man cannot kill off God. Yet, we as His children can often act like God is dead. When things get dark and seem hopeless we can behave as thought God, our heavenly Father, has somehow died and left us without hope.

In the winter of 1864 America was being ripped apart by a long and bloody civil war. A nation which had seemed to love God now must have felt like He had disappeared. The great poet William Longfellow wrote a poem that endured through the year. We now sing that song as a Christmas carol, but it is great reminded of a truth that we are often tempted to forget. One line sticks out in my mind this morning - ‘God is not dead, not doth He sleep.’

Our God is alive. We must never forget that. He is alive and awake and attuned to the needs of His children. Our God is alive. Lets face every day with that blessed assurance!

Monday, 19 July 2010

The word of the Lord is proven

As for God, His way is perfect; The word of the LORD is proven; He is a shield to all who trust in Him. – 2 Samuel 22v31

Believe it or not there are a few things I am learning as the years go by. I am learning that there is not a whole lot that I can really count on. I can’t count on my bank account. I can’t count on my success. I can’t count on the government. I can’t count on my job. None of these things have proven themselves as reliable.

I will say that there are some things that I can count on. I can count on my family. I can count on my wife. I can count on my church. I can generally count on my friends.

Saying that, try as they might my family and wife and church and friends are not perfect. They may let me down or disappoint me because of circumstances beyond their control. There is only thing that I can always and without fear count on.

In thirty some years of being a Christian one thing has never failed. It has proven itself time after time. God’s word never, ever fails. I have watched it prove itself true time after time after time. There have been times when it did not make sense. Even then it has been proven true, faithful, right, and trustworthy.

God’s word has proven itself. Why is it so hard to trust it every time we have a problem?

Sunday, 18 July 2010

Free from strivings

"You have also delivered me from the strivings of my people; You have kept me as the head of the nations. A people I have not known shall serve me. – 2 Samuel 22v44

‘It’s a troublesome world. All the people who are in it are troubled with troubles almost every minute.’

So go the words from my favourite Dr Suess book. We do indeed live in a troublesome world full of fightings and wars and contentions and quarrels and strivings. We can get so caught up in all this stuff that we forget that these are not God’s plan for His people.

God wants us out of that. We have to live in this physical world, true enough. We have to go to work, deal with people, pay the bills, do the washing, cut the grass, pay taxes, and all the rest.

The great truth is that in Christ we can rise above really being a part of it. In other places God talks about lifting us up into ‘heavenly places’ in Christ Jesus. He talks about dwelling on the high place like a mountain deer, with stable footing free from the slips and falls that hold the world.

Here David praises God that He has been delivered from the strivings of the people. My problem is that sometimes I like the striving.

God doesn’t want us mired in all that stuff. It is beneath God’s people to let ourselves get caught up in it. Lets enjoy God’s deliverance from the strivings of the people.

Saturday, 17 July 2010

His way is perfect

As for God, His way is perfect; The word of the LORD is proven; He is a shield to all who trust in Him. – 2 Samuel 22v31

His way is perfect. That sounds pretty simple doesn’t it? It is something that we all would accept at the surface level. Sure, He is God, He is perfect, and so his way is also perfect.

That sounds good until it comes home to us. Is His way really perfect when a loved one is diagnosed with leukaemia? Is His way perfect when we lose a job or can’t find a job? Is His way perfect when a child dies? Is His way perfect when we can see the bottom of the piggy bank with no prospect in sight?

All of a sudden ‘His way is perfect’ moves from the theoretical to the real. All of a sudden it moves from something we teach and preach to something we have to live. All of a sudden it is not quite so simple.

His way if perfect even when things like above come home. The problem is whether or not we have the faith to believe it.

When things go wrong we tend to think that our way is better than His way. We seek out our way and our solutions.

But then think about it. Can our imperfect and flawed way really be better than His perfect way?

As for God, His way is perfect. Always. Everytime. Without fail.

Do we have the faith to believe it?

Friday, 16 July 2010

Leaping over walls

For by You I can run against a troop; By my God I can leap over a wall. - 2 Samuel 22v30

Most of us have seen some time of war film. During most of them there will be a moment when you see the brash young troops rushing forward into battle at full speed dodging obstacles and leaping over wall and difficulties to bravely and courageously face the enemy.

As I get older I am often intrigued by what drives these young men into such a battle frenzy. How do they do that? Don’t they know that there is an enemy they who can easily kill them. This battle charge has never changed. There comes a time when the army must move forward and occupy the territory and deal with the enemy face to face.

What motivates them to go? I think there are several reasons, but for a soldier in this charge to be of real use he must be convinced that his cause is right and that it is worth dying for. He must be willing to sacrifice himself for the cause.

David sensed that here. He knew his God was a cause worth fighting for. He could run against the enemy because he knew His cause was just. He could leap over walls because he knew that his divine Commander was with him.

Moving forward is scary. It is hard to get up out of the tent or the foxhole and charge into the battle. I read a Facebook status that said a friend was ready to ‘charge hell with a squirt gun.’ I am not so sure about that, I think we might want to be a little better prepared, but I do like the thought.

In Christ we can charge forward in the face of opposition. In Him, and Him alone, we can leap over the walls and keep moving.

The key is ‘in Him.’ In us we are doomed to defeat. In Him we cannot fail.

Thursday, 15 July 2010

God’s justice

With the merciful You will show Yourself merciful; With a blameless man You will show Yourself blameless; With the pure You will show Yourself pure; And with the devious You will show Yourself shrewd. You will save the humble people; But Your eyes are on the haughty, that You may bring them down. - 2 Samuel 22v26-28

This kind of passage regularly intrigues me. At first glance it looks to me like God’s treatment of man is based on man’s actions. He will be merciful to the merciful. He will show himself blameless with the blameless. He will show Himself pure with the pure. He will be shrewd the devious.

I understand the last part where God says that He will save the humble and bring down the haughty. That is a constant theme through scripture. Pride is the thing that keeps man from acknowledging his need of God. God dwells with those of a humble and contrite heart.

I even understand the part that talks about God being shrewd with the devious. That just makes sense. No one can outsmart or outwit God.

What I don’t fully understand is the first few things. Who is merciful enough for God to show mercy? Who is pure enough for God to show Himself pure? Who is blameless enough for God to show Himself blameless? No man apart from God is merciful, pure, or blameless.

The only explanation that I can see and the only one I can come up with, is that these things come about only by faith in God and His mercy, purity, and blamelessness. Man cannot conjure those things up on his own. All of these, on the other hand, are character traits of the believer who has put his faith in God.

Purity, mercy, and blamelessness are not natural traits. They only come when we put our faith in the One who is pure, merciful, and blameless. To those and those alone He will manifest those blessings.

Wednesday, 14 July 2010

He delighted in me

He also brought me out into a broad place; He delivered me because He delighted in me. – 2 Samuel 22v20

God delighted in me. That thought ought to astound us every time we read it. How can a perfect, holy, sinless God delight in anyone who is as imperfect, unholy, and sinful being such as us?

David goes on to talk about he has behaved uprightly and walked in God’s commandments. He states that as the basis for God’s delight. I don’t understand that, because we all know what David was actually like. We know he failed and failed again.

But, here and now is not the time to go into that. I’ll have to look at that later.

The key to me is the fact that God would EVER, under any circumstance, delight in us! Man is wicked. We are sinners by our nature and sinners by our practice.

It is only because of God’s love that He can delight in us. There is nothing in us that earns His delight.

Praise God that he delights in me despite who I am.

Tuesday, 13 July 2010

In whom I will trust

And he said: a "The LORD is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer; The God of my strength, in whom I will trust; My shield and the horn of my salvation, My stronghold and my refuge; My Saviour, You save me from violence. – 2 Samuel 22v2-3

David only a few people that he could trust. Of course he brought some of that on himself.

Still, we all know how hard it is to find someone you can trust completely. People, for the most part, will always let us down one way or another. Our problem comes when we put more confidence in people, things, and circumstances than we do in the Lord.

A big chunk of 2 Samuel is dedicated to accounts of battles, fights, civil war, rebellion, deception, and betrayal. Here though David breaks into a wonderful psalm of devotion and praise. He realises that the only place he can put his absolute confidence is in the Lord.

‘The Lord is my rock, my fortress, my deliverer, the God of my strength, the One in whom I trust, my shield, the horn of my salvation, my stronghold, my refuge, my Saviour.’

It is interesting that David seems to go on and on here. Here he uses ten different terms or phrases to talk about God. He seems to be focusing his thoughts in one direction.

Sometimes when difficulties and opposition and seem insurmountable we would do well to stop and focus on the Lord and all that He is to us. Part of our problem is that we are hurt when our trust in people, jobs, bank accounts, and circumstances is betrayed. We could avoid that hurt if we would ever learn that only in the Lord is our trust well placed.

Monday, 12 July 2010

O let him take it all

Then Mephibosheth said to the king, "Rather, let him take it all, inasmuch as my lord the king has come back in peace to his own house." – 2 Samuel 19v30

I have really been interested in Mephibosheth this time through the Bible. When David visited Mephibosheth he asked David why he had lost his land. David admitted that he had been deceived by Ziba and suggested that they split the property.

I love the way the ESV renders Mephibosheth’s response - "Oh, let him take it all, since my lord the king has come safely home."

Isn’t that great! Mephibosheth couldn’t care any less about all the stuff. It didn’t matter what happened to all Saul’s stuff. All that mattered was that David was safe and sound.

I don’t really have a whole lot to say about this except that I long for an attitude like Mephibosheth where that stuff doesn’t matter, but love for others does.

Sunday, 11 July 2010

A father’s heart

Then the king was deeply moved, and went up to the chamber over the gate, and wept. And as he went, he said thus:"O my son Absalom- my son, my son Absalom- if only I had died in your place! O Absalom my son, my son!" – 2 Samuel 18v33

Isn’t it strange that every time one of David’s enemies dies he mourns? Here is foe is his own son, Absalom, who is leading a revolt against him.

Absalom is an interesting character. He is noted for his beautiful long flowing hair that, when he cut it once a year, weighed almost seven pounds. It might have been lovely, but it caused him trouble. One day, while out riding his hair got caught in the branch of a tree and jerked off his mount. While he was hanging there Joab came along and shot him with three arrows, killing him.

When the messenger arrived David was consumer with making sure that Absalom was okay. When the messenger told him that Absalom was dead David grieved over him. The civil war was over, the threat to his throne was vanquished, but David mourned.

Absalom was, after all, David’s son. No matter what he had done or how much trouble he had caused his was still ‘flesh of his flesh.’

What I admire about David in these situations that he does not allow his heart to be moved by circumstance and pragmatism. Over and over he was more concerned about the loss of people he cared about than the military consequences and his victories.

Maybe this is part of the reason he is called a man after God’s own heart.

Saturday, 10 July 2010

Ziba’s deceipt

When David had passed a little beyond the summit, Ziba the servant of Mephibosheth met him, with a couple of donkeys saddled, bearing two hundred loaves of bread, a hundred bunches of raisins, a hundred of summer fruits, and a skin of wine. And the king said to Ziba, "Why have you brought these?" Ziba answered, "The donkeys are for the king's household to ride on, the bread and summer fruit for the young men to eat, and the wine for those who faint in the wilderness to drink." And the king said, "And where is your master's son?" Ziba said to the king, "Behold, he remains in Jerusalem, for he said, 'Today the house of Israel will give me back the kingdom of my father.'" Then the king said to Ziba, "Behold, all that belonged to Mephibosheth is now yours." And Ziba said, "I pay homage; let me ever find favor in your sight, my lord the king." – 2 Samuel 16v1-4

I am including this thought today mostly because I am intrigued more than inspired. We remember Ziba as being the one who told David about Mephibosheth. As a result David has all of Saul’s land and property transferred to Mephibosheth. When I read this account I have to wonder about Ziba’s motivation though.

From all appearance it appears that Ziba betrayed Mephibosheth and lied to David. He claimed that Mephibosheth was thinking that the people would make him king of Israel.

With this claim David gave all of Mephibosheth’s possessions to Ziba.

Ziba used lying and deceit for his personal gain. David didn’t check out the facts and Mephibosheth suffered.

I guess there is a lesson for us. Before we act lets be sure that we check out all the facts. There are, in fact, two sided to every story. Our tendency is to believe the first side we here. Lets be sure we don’t act rashly based on only one side.

Friday, 9 July 2010


Then David comforted Bathsheba his wife, and went in to her and lay with her. So she bore a son, and he a called his name Solomon. Now the LORD loved him, and He sent word by the hand of Nathan the prophet: So he a called his name Jedidiah, because the Lord loved him. – 2 Samuel 12v24-25

We have just read through an account of a terrible part of David’s life. Lust, adultery, murder, confrontation, despair, and the death of a son had all taken place. David had confessed his sin, dealt with it, been forgiven, and moved on.

After the death of their son David comforted his wife. She certainly needed comfort after all that had happened. God allowed them to have another son and named him Solomon. His name is an adaptation of the Hebrew word shalom, meaning peace. That in itself has a beautiful application for this situation. God can bring peace even from the most troublesome times.

But it is Nathan’s nickname for Solomon that I want to look at. Nathan called him Jedidiah. Jedidiah means ‘beloved of the Lord.’ I love the fact that God still loves even in the midst of judgement. This does not lessen the impact of David’s sin. It does not mean that God takes sin lightly. It does show however that while God is perfectly just and holy and that he exercises that in perfect judgement, He also loves perfectly.

It is wonderful to look back and see the Jedidiah’s in our lives where God has loved us in the times of our most difficult struggles.

Our wonderful God is the One who can show peace and love in the midst of justice. Praise His name that he is a perfectly holy God of justice who also show love and peace.

Thursday, 8 July 2010

David arose…and worshipped

So David arose from the ground, washed and anointed himself, and changed his clothes; and he went into the house of the LORD and worshiped. Then he went to his own house; and when he requested, they set food before him, and he ate. – 2 Samuel 12v20

David’s son was dead. His death was a part of the punishment for David’s sin with Bathsheba. The child became ill shortly after birth. When he did David went apart to fast and pray for his healing.

But it ‘didn’t work.’ The child died.

We might think that God did not answer David’s prayer. David did not get what he wanted. Everyone was afraid to tell him what had happened, but eventually he found out.

So how did David respond to the news?

He didn’t whinge and complain that God didn’t answer his prayer. He got up, got himself sorted, and then he went to worship. He took comfort in the fact that he would see his son one day and ‘got back in the saddle.’

I think we see here an example of how we should respond to disappointment. It does us no good to feel sorry for ourselves, the get angry with God, or take it out on those around us.

There is only one right response to disappointment with prayer. We get up, dust ourselves off, and get back to worship.

Our God with worthy of that response.

Wednesday, 7 July 2010

The effect of sin

However, because by this deed you have given great occasion to the enemies of the LORD to blaspheme, the child also who is born to you shall surely die." – 2 Samuel 12v14

There is a whole lot more involved in sin than just its affect on us. Our sin impacts us when we sin and it affects those we sin against. It affects our family and friends. It affects our church. Sin is not something about which we can just say, ‘It’s not going to bother anyone else, so what’s the big deal?’

I suppose one of the worst effects of sin is the one that Nathan addressed here – ‘by this deed you have given great occasion to the enemies of the Lord to blaspheme.’

This is part of why David could say ‘Against You and You only have I sinned.’ When we claim to be God’s people and carry on in our sin we lay our hypocrisy out there for all the world to see. We open the door for people to mock our faith and blaspheme our God.

I remember something that happened about 35 years ago when I was in college in Pennsylvania. I had been saved, but was not living for the Lord. My sin did not reflect my relationship with the Lord. I had been witnessing to friends, going to church, and living a new life was making a difference to my friends.

But all of this suffered a set back one night. I had been out partying with friends. It had been a particularly crazy party that night, and as we headed into our dorm on of my friends said to me, ‘Parrow, after tonight you had better not try to give us any of that Jesus stuff. Now we know it is not real.’

I don’t know what happened to that man. I tried to write him a few years ago, but failed. My sin gave him an opportunity to mock Christ. How shameful when we allow give others a chance to blaspheme God because of our sin.

Tuesday, 6 July 2010

I have sinned

So David said to Nathan, "I have sinned against the LORD." And Nathan said to David, "The LORD also has put away your sin; you shall not die. – 2 Samuel 12v13

What else could David say? Nathan had just laid out his sin. He had committed adultery with Uriah’s wife and murdered him. David had just judged a man for stealing a man’s sheep while he himself had just stolen a man’s wife and his life.

So David said the only thing he could, really. ‘I have sinned.’ Or was that all he could have said? David, I guess, could have made excuses. He could have acted like we do too often.

‘Hey Nathan, it wasn’t my fault! Bathsheba was bathing in her back garden. She was naked and beautiful! I am a man like any other. What do expect out of me?’

Blame shifting is sadly the norm when it comes to being confronted with sin. When we shift the blame we do no good. We really don’t get it. Until we can admit our sin we are still in our sin.

David did get it. How do we know? All it takes is a quick look at Psalm 51 which he wrote at this time.

To the Chief Musician. A Psalm of David When Nathan the Prophet Went to Him, After He Had Gone in to Bathsheba. Have mercy upon me, O God, According to Your lovingkindness; According to the multitude of Your tender mercies, Blot out my transgressions. Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity, And cleanse me from my sin. For I acknowledge my transgressions, And my sin is always before me. Against You, You only, have I sinned, And done this evil in Your sight— That You may be found just when You speak, And blameless when You judge.

Is that our attitude when we sin?

Monday, 5 July 2010

You are the man

Then Nathan said to David, "You are the man! Thus says the LORD God of Israel: 'I anointed you king over Israel, and I delivered you from the hand of Saul. – 2 Samuel 12v7

In David’s time, as through much of history, the king was the executive, legislative, and judicial branch of government. Here the prophet Nathan came to David as judge and presented what appeared to be a legal case to the king.

Then the LORD sent Nathan to David. And he came to him, and said to him: "There were two men in one city, one rich and the other poor. The rich man had exceedingly many flocks and herds. But the poor man had nothing, except one little ewe lamb which he had bought and nourished; and it grew up together with him and with his children. It ate of his own food and drank from his own cup and lay in his bosom; and it was like a daughter to him. And a traveler came to the rich man, who refused to take from his own flock and from his own herd to prepare one for the wayfaring man who had come to him; but he took the poor man's lamb and prepared it for the man who had come to him."

David was justifiably appalled. His judgement was swift and severe. The man would be executed and his estate would pay the wronged man back fourfold. David’s reason? The rich man had showed no pity.

It may sound like a harsh judgement, but that was the norm for that day and time.

Can you imagine the feeling in David’s stomach when Nathan said, ‘You are the man!’ Nathan did not need to explain himself, David knew what he meant, but Nathan went on anyway to describe how the rich man’s sin was just a picture of David. Unknowingly, David had passed judgement on himself.

Isn’t it easy to judge someone else’s sin while missing our own? Jesus addressed this with when he said that we need to get the beam out of our own eye before inspecting other’s eyes for a speck of dust.

We need to be careful. As the old saying goes, when we point our finger at someone else there are usually four fingers pointing back at us.

Let’s be careful that we are not so busy judging others that we forget that we may very well be the one.

Sunday, 4 July 2010

The thing David had done displeased the Lord

And when her mourning was over, David sent and brought her to his house, and she became his wife and bore him a son. But the thing that David had done displeased the LORD. – 2 Samuel 11v27

Saul surely thought he had pulled it off. It was nasty, deceitful, and brutal, but he had done it.

Had committed adultery, lied, schemed and had a man murdered, but at least he had covered his sin.

After Uriah’s second refusal to sleep with his wife David had to change his plan. He ordered Uriah to the front where the fighting was most severe with the full intent and purpose of seeing him killed. It worked. Uriah was dead.

Back in Jerusalem David sent word to calm Joab. After all David had a record of justice and messengers of death had not always been treated kindly. David sent a message to Joab ‘Oh well, it was a battle, don’t fret. The sword is just as liable to kill one man as another.'

Bathhsheba went through her time of mourning, then became David’s wife. Their son was done. The ugly episode was over.

Or was it? One little line changes things here – ‘The thing that David had done displeased the Lord.

Man had been fooled. Disaster had apparently been diverted. But they had forgotten about God. God didn’t miss it.

And soon David would know all about it.

Saturday, 3 July 2010

I will not!

And Uriah said to David, "The ark and Israel and Judah are dwelling in tents, and my lord Joab and the servants of my lord are encamped in the open fields. Shall I then go to my house to eat and drink, and to lie with my wife? As you live, and as your soul lives, I will not do this thing." – 2 Samuel 11v11

I have just a little sidetrack here this morning. In the midst of this horrendous account of sin and its consequences we find a wonderful nugget about a man and his character.

Obviously, the wonderful example of character is not David. When Bathsheba told David that she was pregnant David had to figure something out. The story of his sin was sure to be made known because her husband, Uriah, was away.

So David hatched a plot. He ordered Uriah back home for some R&R. He told Uriah to come home and spend some time with his wife.

What man would not be thrilled at the prospect? Here was a chance to not only get away for the battle but to spend the night with his wife. Surely, this was a plan that could not fail. Everyone would think that the baby was Uriah’s.

But Uriah’s character foiled the plan. Instead of going in to his wife he spent the night on his doorstep. When David questioned him about it he said that he could not enjoy himself while his men were on the battlefield. ‘I will not do such a thing!’

David tried again. He got Uriah drunk so that he would forget about his principles. He still would not give in. Uriah had more character drunk than David did thinking clearly, at least at this time.

I admire Uriah. He was a man of principle and character. He would not violate his duty to fulfil his desires.

How that must have shamed David who had done just the opposite.

Uriah is an example to all of us when tempted to forget duty and dedication for a momentary moment of pleasure.

Friday, 2 July 2010

Checking her out

So David sent and inquired about the woman. And someone said, "Is this not Bathsheba, the daughter of Eliam, the wife of Uriah the Hittite?" Then David sent messengers, and took her; and she came to him, and he lay with her, for she was cleansed from her impurity; and she returned to her house. – 2 Samuel 11v3-4

One of the problems with ‘just one look’ is that it is rarely enough. David saw this beautiful woman bathing in her garden in the cool of the evening. His first problem was looking long enough to notice that she was beautiful. But, even if David had stopped, dealt with his lustful thoughts, and moved on things would not have gone where they did.

The problem is that he did not stop there. He began plotting his sin. He worked out a plan to fulfil the desires of his flesh. He asked around. Someone said that she was Uriah’s wife. David knew that Uriah was away. He was out fighting the battle that David himself should have been leading.

Well, now the plan was in place. No one would refuse him because he was the king. No one but Bathsheba and few servants would ever know. He could sin and get away with it. It seemed like it was prefect.

He sent for Bathsheba. She came to David. He fulfilled his desires. Done and dusted. No one would ever know.

We look at David and wonder how he could be so stubborn and foolish. We wonder how a man after God’s own heart could have such evil plans.

Are we really any less guilty than David though when we don’t nip sin in the bud? We encounter temptations regularly. We then decide what to do. Do we stop it right there, or do we, like David, decide to carry on and sin.

David made a foolish choice. Lets be warned so that we don’t do the same.

Thursday, 1 July 2010

Just one look

It happened in the spring of the year, at the time when kings go out to battle, that David sent Joab and his servants with him, and all Israel; and they destroyed the people of Ammon and besieged Rabbah. But David remained at Jerusalem. Then it happened one evening that David arose from his bed and walked on the roof of the king's house. And from the roof he saw a woman bathing, and the woman was very beautiful to behold. – 2 Samuel 11v1-2

I preached a message on the account of David and Bathsheba about a month ago. I am not good at sermon titles. I never can get those catchy pithy names that stick in people’s minds. My working title for 2 Samuel 11 was ‘Lessons from David and Bathsheba.’ Exciting stuff, huh?

So I did the modern thing – I asked for suggestions on Facebook. I came up with a couple – ‘David’s Fatal Attraction’ and ‘Looking for Trouble’ were a couple of good ones.

But it was Holly’s mom Debbie who sent the winning suggestion. She suggested that I sing the title – ‘Just one look, that’s all it took was just one look.’ I loved it. Hence, the title of today’s thought.

I happened in the spring of the year. It was time for battle. The word of God points that out. I don’t think this was just a mention of the timing, but to point out where the king of Israel was when the other kings were out to war.

Where was our noble king? He was at home in the palace. He was in the wrong place at the wrong time with the wrong attitudes and the wrong desires.

He took an evening along the rooftops. There was nothing unusual about that. Nearby, Bathsheba was in her garden bathing, nothing unusual about that either. Perhaps she should have been more modest. Perhaps David should have avoided walking the rooftops when he knew people would be bathing, but I don’t think that is the real issue here. The issue was not the circumstances, but the attitude of David.

David noticed Bathsheba bathing. Sadly, all it took to get him distracted was just this one look. He noticed that not only was she naked, but she was very beautiful.

At this stage David had a choice. He could avert his eyes and keep on going, or he could pursue the matter further. We are going to discover that he made the wrong choice. More on that later.

We all face the same choice when evil appears in our live of sight. We can’t help encountering it. What matters is what we do next.

God of course gives us the answer. Abstain at every appearance of evil. When evil appears, turn away, run, avert your eyes, don’t give in.

David ignored the right thing. The consequences would be devastating. The same is true for us when we give in to the appearance of evil.

‘Just one look – that’s all it took.’