Tag: 2 Samuel

What is the Wrath of God?

When we think of or hear about the ‘wrath of God’, the temptation is strong to imagine a vengeful God having a fit of rage and throwing fistfuls of lightning bolts down on a wicked populace to strike them dead. This idea comes from the capricious human-like gods popularized in Greek and Roman mythology, this is not the God of the Bible.

“Nice try, cowboy!” I hear some retort, “If God is not wrathful like Zeus or Jupiter, then explain Lot’s Wife (Genesis 19:26), Uzzah (2 Samuel 6:6-7), and Ananias and Sapphira (Acts 5:1-11) !”

These are all examples of disobedience stemming from lack of proper respect for God. Lot’s wife looked back when she was explicitly told not to do so. Uzzah reached out to touch the Ark of the Covenant when that was expressly forbidden (after choosing to transport the Ark in a way OTHER than what God’ had instructed), and Ananias and Sapphira lied to the church and withheld God’s portion from Him. So God met out the ultimate punishment for this after rescuing her family (Lot’s Wife), restoring glory to Israel (Uzzah), and raising the church (Ananias & Sapphira).

This was not some reckless decision based on a whim. These were consequences for actions taken in defiance of God. And as I read today’s Psalms of Asaph, I noticed a trend…

In Psalm 80 Asaph feels like God is blessing another nation due to Israel’s disobedience. But is this the case? Was God blessing Israel’s oppressor? Or was Israel a decidedly weak nation being propped up by Yahweh? Was God blessing ANOTHER nation, or did He simply remove His hedge of protection from Israel and allow the attacks of their enemies to proceed unencumbered? This is the wrath of God.

Is Psalm 81 we see that God WANTS to rescue us, He loves us! His sincere desire is that none should perish, but that all would come to a saving knowledge of Christ Jesus. However, He will not override our free will. God has chosen to restrain Himself so that only those who freely choose Him will draw near to Him, and those same people will be saved. So what happens to the rest? That is the wrath of God.

In Psalm 82 we see a scenario where God sits in judgement of all the other gods and warns them of the folly of their wickedness. Of course those gods do not exist (except in the minds of the people who created them), so the people who “follow” them are the ones who will bear the responsibility for the actions of their “gods”. This is the path of destruction. This is the wrath of God.

The worker earns his wages (1 Timothy 5:18). And the wages of sin is death (Romans 6:23). This is the wrath of God. It’s really not that complicated.

They Can’t Argue Your Testimony

But set Christ apart as Lord in your hearts and always be ready to give an answer to anyone who asks about the hope you possess.

1 Peter 3:15, NET

This verse is as terrifying to some as it is inspiring to others. Do I have to give a whole Gospel presentation? What if I don’t have all the answers? What if it’s awkward? What if I’m seen as ‘pushy’? What if I don’t have a fully fleshed-out systematic theology and they ask about divine aseity!??!

Let’s remember that 1 Peter is about unjust suffering. That even as we suffer, we should still display the hope of Christ. So much so, in fact, that people will take notice and ask us why were are so hopeful given the circumstances. So live in a way that invites people to ask you questions! Be joyful, exuberant, and hopeful.

Then follow David’s lead. He writes:

I will give thanks to you, Lord, with all my heart; I will tell of all your wonderful deeds.

Psalm 9:1, NIV

The thankfulness leads to joy. That is actually scientifically true, as argued by Dan Baker in his book “What Happy People Know”. Baker notes that our brain physically cannot experience gratitude and anxiety simultaneously. So exercising gratitude (I will give thanks to you, Lord, with all my heart) will lead to that contagious, curious joy that will make folks take notice. And when they ask, you can tell them what God has done in your life (I will tell of all your wonderful deeds)!

People can argue whether Jesus is God, whether He rose from the grave, whether He even lived, but they can’t argue with what He has done in your life! And when you tell them the answer for your hope, joy, and gratitude is Jesus, then they will want to know more about Him.

Yes, sharing the Gospel is awesome, but sharing what the Lord has done in your life demonstrates the fruit of the Gospel, and opens doors for church events, service invitations, and even leading someone to Jesus!

So be joyful! And be willing to tell people why you are that way! God bless, my friends.

(Not) Having All The Answers

I’ll just say it… 2 Samuel says that God told David to take a census (then punished him for it), whereas 1 Chronicles says that Satan led David to take a census and then God punished him for it. I find the theories online quite unsatisfying and I find it frustrating that I don’t have anything to put in the place of these theories. I was deep-diving into the Hebrew and looking at sentence structure and asking my wife what she thought of this or that observation. Then she said something wonderful in its simplicity. Sometimes we don’t have the answers. That’s not to say that the answer is un-findable (because I fully intend to find it and yeah, I will update you all when I do!), but rather that these secondary issues are not ones on which we need to get hung-up. The cross of Christ is primary and all these other items are grow, learn, discuss, and deepen our faith, but we don’t need to be afraid of not having a solution or a perfect understanding immediately.

If you ever find yourself unsure about something when reading the Bible… that’s okay. You don’t need to be afraid of it. God is still God. Jesus is still Jesus. And in time, with study and dedication these answers will come. At the very least we will be satisfied when we stand before the Lord with unveiled faces.

Be blessed tonight my friends.

2 Samuel 24; 1 Chronicles 21, 22 | 122/365

Recognition & Hope

Today’s reading featured two copies of a song David wrote. Despite all that’s gone on in David’s life to this point, he still lifts the name of God and recognizes all that the Lord has done for him and to deliver him. I made a non-exhaustive list who David says God is, and what David says God is bigger than. Perhaps you’ll find it as encouraging as I did.

God is my • Rock • Fortress • Saviour • Protection • Shield • Power • Safety • Refuge • Hearer • Support • Leader • Reward-giver • Restorer • Seer • Lamp • Light • Strength • Perfector • Trainer • Victory • Object of Praise

God is bigger than • Death • Destruction • Grave • Enemies • Deep Waters • Hate • The strong • Sin • Darkness • Armies • Walls • Battles • Mountains • My accusers • Those who wish me harm • My opponents

What else would you add to either of these lists?

2 Samuel 22; Psalm 18 | 121/365

Fickle Friends

Absalom is dead and his coup with him. David returns to Jerusalem, his victory undercut by the death of his son. God’s promise that David’s sin would lead to his family living (and dying) by the sword is coming to pass. And during his return to Jerusalem several men from all the tribes of Israel help him return to the palace. But 10 of the tribes are angry that Judah is helping. They insist that David send them away because “where were they before!?”. David rebukes them, but then a man named Sheba tries to lead ANOTHER revolt against David and everyone EXCEPT Judah joins with him! This coup, too, would be shut down, but it shows the dangers of fickle friends. What if David had sent away Judah, and relied on the loyalty of people who would so quickly turn on him?

We cannot allow ourselves to be swayed by popular opinion. We cannot allow ourselves to be held hostage by the opinions of those who would hold their friends over our heads. Listen to the council of a faithful friend, but always weigh it against the truth of Scripture. Most friends come and go and shouldn’t have a place of high influence. But you should absolutely find a Ruth, Jonathan, or Barnabas and be that in return.

Faithful (in every sense of the word) friends > Fickle Friends

2 Samuel 19:30-21:22; 1 Chronicles 20:4-8; Psalm 7

Attacking God’s Anointed

David had two opportunities to kill Saul, but refused to attack the Lord’s anointed. David’s position was that God would deal with Saul in His timing, and David didn’t need to insert himself into God’s will. And all this after being told by Samuel that he was God’s anointed and ALREADY the new king of Israel.

Absalom took… a different approach. He spent 4 years sowing division, built a monument to himself, rape the king’s harem on the roof of the palace and tried to wipe him out with a huge army of rebels. He ended up caught in a tree by his own luxurious hair, stabbed through the heart 3 times, and dumped into a pit. And all this based on a vendetta for David’s inaction dealing with his daughter (Absalom’s sister)’s rape.

Don’t attack the Lord’s anointed. It won’t end well for you. Even if things seem to be going good at first and you’ve got the majority on your side and everything is coming up Millhouse, eventually it will catch up with you. I’ll leave us off today with the wise word of Will Smith:

Throughout life people will make you mad
Disrespect you and treat you bad
But let God deal with the things they do
‘Cause hate in your heart will consume you, too

Will Smith, Just The Two Of Us
2 Samuel 17:15-19:30; Psalm 3, 63 | 119/365

Dealing with Nay Sayers

Today’s devo is a quick thought, something that hit my heart, but not an exegetical deep-dive. David’s son Absalom — still brooding over the injustice in the wake of his sister’s rape and his excommunication following his action in avenging that wrong — seeks to take the throne of his father by force. David, wanting to avoid a bloody battle, flees to safety in the wilderness.

No sooner has he left the boundary of Jerusalem than Shimei, a relative of Saul spots him. Shimei throws rocks, dirt, and insults at David. He is obnoxious to the point that one of David’s men requests to cut Shimei’s head off. David says no, perhaps this rebuke is from the Lord — and even if it isn’t, let God deal with him. And they continue to move on until eventually the man gave up and went home.

You will come across people like this. David knows that he did everything he could to treat Saul fairly and leave his fate to God, yet he made no attempt to defend himself. Instead David took it on the chin, allowed the man to have his impotent rage and keep moving forward1.

Don’t spend your time thinking about the people who condemn you for things about which they are ignorant. If you are criticized; 1) hear it, 2) pray about it, and 3) evaluate it. But if it is meritless and nothing can be learned or gleaned… ignore it. Yes, those people will continue to natter away, but eventually the truth will show itself. I am fond of saying, “A person’s character will find them out”.

Trust God to take care of the stone & dirt throwers.

2 Sam 15:1-17:14 | 118/365
  1. David would keep a LONG memory, however, as we will see in the coming chapters. ↩︎

Polygamy & Misdirected Self-Loathing

It’s often pointed out that the Old Testament seems to turn a blind eye to polygamy, even appearing to endorse it in some cases. While this is essentially true outside of the first chapters of Genesis, what we do see consistently throughout the Old Testament is unflinching examination of the consequences of plural marriage. Such is the case with today’s reading.

David’s son Amnon (from David’s wife Ahinoam) develops an infatuation with his half-sister Tamar (from David’s wife Maacah) and devises a plan (with the help of his cousin) to get Tamar alone so he can rape her. This plot is successful, and so Tamar is raped by her half-brother WHILE SHE WAS TRYING TO CARE FOR HIM. How twisted is that? If you subscribe to the Jean-Jacques Rousseau philosophy that humans are inherently good, I submit that history has proved otherwise and Amnon is a prime example. Despite Tamar’s protestations, appeals, and even an offer of marriage, Amnon wanted what he wanted NOW.

But where the story takes a strange twist is after he has finished assaulting his sister, he suddenly hates her more than he ever loved1 her. She again begs him to at least care for her as the law calls for (Deut 22:28-29), but again he ignores her pleas and has his servants throw her into the street and lock the door. This begs the question; why did he hate her? He got what he wanted. Shouldn’t he be happy? Or at least indifferent? Why the anger? I contend that this is because of misdirected self-loathing.

See, sin is only appealing until you actually get it. Then it sears your conscience and it makes you hate yourself. This leads to all kinds of issues. In this case it became focused on Tamar. Somehow in Amnon’s mind it was HER fault that he had done this thing and he couldn’t stand the sight of her because she was a mirror that showed Amnon the sinful desire that permeated his heart. I’ve no doubt family gathering became awkward after that. Don’t forget that Jerusalem was essentially a government town like Washington, D.C., in the United States or Canberra, A.C.T in Australia. AND Jerusalem was only about 10 acres in size. For context, that’s a little smaller than Yankee Stadium in the Bronx, New York City. There’s no way these people didn’t see each other afterward.

We read that David was angry about this, but for two years no punishment came for Amnon. I mean, how could David punish Amnon for the very crime he had himself committed no so long ago? All the while Tamar’s only full sibling, Absalom, was seething with rage. This ongoing rage culminated in a successful plot to kill Amnon. This action sent David into mourning and Absalom into hiding, further tearing apart the family and this also began to bring to fruition the prophecy Nathan gave about how David’s sins with Bathsheba would cause his family to live and die by the sword.

So we can see how the polygamous lifestyle adopted by David lead to death, destruction, and heartache. When we deviate from God’s design bad things happen. We really shouldn’t act surprised. And what’s more… it may well be that God doesn’t condemn polygamy because history and experience have successfully done so over, and over, and over again.

2 Samuel 12:26-14:33; 1 Chronicles 20:2-3 | 117/365
  1. If such a word can even be applied. The Hebrew word here demonstrates little variation in its basic meaning. The intensity of the meaning ranges from God’s infinite affection for his people to the carnal appetites of a lazy glutton (Robert Alden, Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament). So it is deeply context-dependant. But given the craven nature of the desire and the act, I believe it’s clear that this veers well into the “carnal lust” interpretation and keeps quite clear of the “fatherly love” interpretation.

Expectations Are A Window Into Your Heart

There is a LOT to discuss in today’s passage and really, this episode could be a mini sermon series unto itself. But I won’t be talking about David’s “affair” with Bathsheba (I use the word “affair” extremely loosely because let’s face it, she was nobody, she wasn’t going to say ‘no’ to the king. This has every earmark of rape). Rather I want to briefly discuss David’s interactions with Bathsheba’s husband, Uriah.

David gets Bathsheba pregnant while her husband is away at war, so he calls him back from the battle for some R&R and expects that Uriah will sleep with his wife and thus muddy the pregnancy timeline creating reasonable doubt that Uriah himself is the father. But, he doesn’t do that. In fact he doesn’t even go home. Not even after David tried to get him drunk. Not while the boys are still at the front, as was the custom at the time:

David replied, “Indeed women have been kept from us, as usual whenever I set out. The men’s bodies are holy even on missions that are not holy. How much more so today!”

1 Samuel 21:5, NIV

David’s weakness was women. Like I talked about before, the enemy uses whatever vector of attack is most promising. And — here is the key — David thinks Uriah will act in the same way he himself would in that circumstance. This is something we all do. We tend assume that people will act the same way we would, this is known in psychology as the False Consensus Effect. And so when we think someone will do something bad or attribute bad motives to people, we should take a beat and think about why. It could be that we are basing our thoughts and assumptions on previous behaviour (by the person in question, or some other individual from our past), but it could also be that we are getting a glimpse into our own hearts. It could be that our assumptions are causing our own worst tendencies, thoughts, and biases to bubble to the surface. Our suspicions and attributions may be exposing our own sin!

This is good news! Because once we know about a thing, we can address it. But it’s only good news if we take the time to actually consider WHY we feel any given way and ask the Lord for help in dealing with it. Otherwise we might end up heading down a dark trail that leads to terrible outcomes… which is exactly what happened to David.

2 Samuel 11:1-12:25, 5:14-16; 1 Chronicles 3:5-9, 14:3-7, 20:1; Psalm 51

Assuming Motives

David has what might today be described as a “peace treaty” with the Ammonites and their king Nahash, and when Nahash died, David sent some ambassadors to the new king of the Ammonites; his son Hanun. But Hanun listening to the nattering of his commanders who managed to convince him that David was not seeking to extend the peace treaty, but rather that these men were spies. As a result, the ambassadors were shamed and embarrassed and sent on their way. This resulted in a military response from Israel and the subjugation of the Ammonites to Israel as servants.

So then, rather than get the blessing of peace and whatever else might have arisen from the relationship with God’s chosen nation, the Ammonites got less than nothing. They got punishment. What are you missing out on because you have made assumptions about motives? How are you cheating yourself by listening to the idle chatter and gossip of the embarrassingly uninformed rather than seeking the Lord for His guidance and wisdom?

Don’t assume facts not in evidence. Trust the Lord and allow people to show you who they are. This isn’t a call to being foolish or reckless, but give people space to show you who they are before you make decisions. Just yesterday at a Calvary Global Network retreat one of the other pastors shared the following verse. And I’ll end with this today:

To answer before listening—
    that is folly and shame.

Proverbs 18:13, NIV
2 Samuel 8:15-10:19; 1 Chronicles 6:16-48, 50-53, 18:14-17, 19:1-19 | 115/365