1 Samuel 26:9 But David said to Abishai, “Don’t destroy him! Who can lay a hand on the Lord’s anointed and be guiltless?
The great Reformer Martin Luther once wrote, “If I profess with the loudest voice and clearest exposition every portion of the truth of God except precisely that little point which the world and the Devil are at the moment attacking, I am not confessing Christ, however boldly I may be professing Christ.”
This is an apt description of the episode of David and his nephew Abishai. Just as in chapter twenty four, David had an opportunity to end Saul’s life and take the throne. As they picked their way through the sleeping troops, they came upon Saul. Abishai couldn’t resist the thought. In 1 Samuel 26:8, he whispered to David, “God has given your enemy into your hand this day. Now please let me pin him to the earth with one stroke of the spear, and I will not strike him twice.”
Can you feel the tension here? “Just one shot, David, and you are on the throne!” Despite the persuasive appeals from Abishai, David knew that it was not right to execute justice by wrongdoing. No matter what others said or how he felt, David knew that godly ends must be brought about by godly means.
It is in moments like these that God reminds us that He is there beside us. Like the bar that holds us in place when we go on a rollercoaster, how much more is the bar of God’s protective love! God will never allow anything we go through to overcome us. He is in complete control. Through the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, we “are kept by the power of God through faith for salvation ready to be revealed in the last time” (1 Peter 1:5). Even when we feel weak from the ride, we can be assured that God will make a way for us to continue on the journey.
As you ride the roller coaster of hard times and temptations, take to heart the words of the apostle James: “My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, 3 knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience” (James 1:2-3). When you realize that only God can show the next step, you can take comfort in knowing it is privilege beyond anything to suffer for the name of Jesus Christ.
Finally, David’s example leaves us today with some straightforward questions.
Does your personal image and safety take precedence over obeying the Word of God?
Do you fill your own “emotional needs” before obeying the Word of God?
Do you take the often hard way of the Word over the easier choice in front of you that involves compromising God’s standards?
Do you so listen to others that you fail to heed God’s voice as spelled out in the Word?
The answer to these questions is not simply a matter of more knowledge. It is a desire to obey God and uphold His Word.
Father, for your glory, grant us quick repentances today, coupled with deep listening and a non-anxious presence. As David once again faced down a chance to take out Saul, Lord, grant us patience not to do the same to anyone--whether Christian or not. We pray that you would grant us great grace for this task. We need to repent of this. Thank you that you are able to take all of our sin and did fully in the person and work of Jesus Christ. In your name, Jesus. Amen.
2 Samuel 2:6 "May the Lord now show you kindness and faithfulness, and I too will show you the same favor because you have done this."
King Saul and his son Jonathan are dead (along with two of Saul's other sons), Israel has just lost a major battle against the Philistines, and the great question that remains is, ""What does David do now?"" He has graciously and tenderly mourned the deaths of Saul and Jonathan, but where does the road, which God has appointed for David, lead now?
This is the question, which David must logically address. Rather than make any rash presumptions of his own like he did with Abigail, he heads to the perfect place for his answer.
David, who has learned much about the sovereignty of God at this point (throughout the course of his life and his recent experience with many difficult trials), seeks the answer on his knees before God. Almost like the levels in a video game, David comes to level that we will call ""trusting in God"" and simply asks,
""LORD, is it Your will that I should go up to any part of Judah? Should I leave the land of the Philistines and head back into the land of my people at all at this point, or would you have me remain here for an unknown period of time?""
Young Christian, this is a statement of humility and trust! David could have said, “LORD, I have done nothing wrong and look at where you have led me. LORD, isn’t it time for me even now to go back to my homeland and become king?”
But notice that David's words are precious and they express the heart of a humble and willing servant, who is face down at the feet of his master, saying, ""LORD, I only want to do Your will, not mine! I belong to You. And I don't want to take so much as one step; I don't want to breathe a drop of air in the wrong direction, in any direction, which is contrary to Your will!""
David didn’t think of himself more highly than he should have. He didn’t think no one was greater than he was. Rather, he recognized his own faults and his desperate need of God's ongoing direction and guidance. Even with a clear promise of God to drive and motivate him, David dared not speed ahead of
God’s providence and plan. So, he sought God's direction the whole way to becoming the king of Israel.
Are you happy to wait on God, or anxious to go ahead of His plans for you?
Father, from the resentments we collected this week, free us; and in response to the disappointments we experienced, center us. When there was great fighting between the house of Saul and the house of David, peace eventually prevailed. Lord, you know I have offended people in my path this week. Help me to seek reconciliation if needed. Show me my offenses. Let there be no wicked ways in me. We desire that to be true. In Jesus' name. Amen.
2 Samuel 2:22 "Again Abner warned Asahel, “Stop chasing me! Why should I strike you down? How could I look your brother Joab in the face?"
David has been anointed king of Judah, but Abner has set up Ishbosheth, Saul's son, as king over the rest of Israel. And because of this unexpected (and yet, divinely appointed) intrusion, another 7 1/2 years will pass before David reigns over all Israel, in accordance with God's promise. Throughout a great part of this waiting period, we find that Ishbosheth's Israel and David's Judah will be at war with each other.
And, in God's good providence, David will grow stronger and stronger, while the house of Saul grows weaker and weaker.
David, though the rightful ruler over all Israel (in step with God's revealed will through the prophet Samuel), doesn’t start war with Ishbosheth. Rather, Abner goes down to David to initiate this conflict. Abner, like his former master, Saul, is taking further action to secure his own comfort in rebellion against the will of God.
It is clear that Abner was very aware of God's will concerning the reign of David. He wasn’t unaware of the very well-known declaration of God's will, which proclaimed David to be the rightful king over all Israel in place of Saul.
What about David? His patience and his confidence in the sovereignty of God are very clearly shown here in that he does not start war with Abner and Ishbosheth.
Yet, David’s armies easily defeat Ishbosheth's army. Then, a great chase follows, as the people of Judah run after the remaining and fleeing Israelites, especially Abner. Asahel happened to be very quick on his feet. He is described in as being ""as fleet of foot as a wild gazelle.""
Being so fast and fixing his attention on Abner, he outran everyone else and began to catch up to Abner. Abner warns Asahel to turn back but he refuses. As he is running full speed toward Abner, Abner stops and lifts up the back end of his spear and thrusts it into the stomach of Asahel. Asahel hits it with such tremendous force and speed it goes right into his stomach and out the other side of his back.
What a story! As a young Christian, you must also learn from Asahel that excited zeal must be calmed with patience and wisdom. Oftentimes, those who are young in the faith have a tremendous burning fire for God and His glorious Gospel. However, sometimes, that zeal can be mixed with a bit of immature pride, lacking patient wisdom. It can carry you a bit too far and too fast and you can find yourself running headlong to face Abner when God wants to groom you on a more basic level before you are prepared for such a battle.
God wants you to master the earlier elements of the faith before you begin to tackle certain mountains that come as you grow in your faith. He wants you to taste a bit more of the milk of the Word, before you start chewing thick, rare steaks that are difficult to swallow.
Father, as this day begins, and continues, gentle us with grace, fill us with your mercies and compel us with your love. Father, may our identity in Christ be our freedom and joy today--not our "pose", ruse or masks we wear before others. Father, may we avoid self-pity, self-glory & self-contempt today, like we'd avoid rattlesnakes, scorpions and tarantulas. Thank you that your Son, Jesus Christ, came in the flesh to remove the guilt of the sin we have. In Jesus' name. Amen.
2 Samuel 5:10 And he became more and more powerful, because the Lord God Almighty was with him.
Abner had partnered with David to bring all of Israel under David's reign. However, Joab, apart from David's consent and knowledge, in seeking to avenge the death of his brother Asahel, murdered Abner in cold blood. When David found out about what Joab had done, he cursed Joab's house and greatly mourned for Abner. The people of Israel, after hearing of the severity and sincerity of David's mourning, knew that David was innocent of Abner's murder and they were well-pleased with David.
However, before this great event takes place, something happens to Ishbosheth, Saul's son (and Israel's present king), which David neither planned nor expected. More than likely, Ishobsheth's betrayers and murderers, thinking that David had ordered the murder of Abner, had formulated a plan to kill Ishbosheth, thinking that David would not only spare them (and approve of their act of murder), but furthermore, he would reward them. And so, their loyalty to Ishbosheth, went right out the window, when a so-called, ""personal golden opportunity"" had arisen, now that Abner was dead
Notice the utter foolishness of living as if God does not exist. We have seen this over and over again in the stories we have studied. One of the recurring themes of Bible, in fact, is knowing the foolishness of living life as if God does not exist."" These two “friends” of Ishbosheth are living examples given to us so that we can learn from them and avoid the paths they chose as we walk through the same brief corridor of life.
The Old Testament shows time and again that there is a sovereign God who looks upon all that we do and say and think. He is determined to bring about justice for His own glory and namesake. God doesn't shout aloud every time we violate His Word. No, He is patient and He waits, waits, and waits until the appointed time of His justice is met and then He deals with us accordingly (Hebrews 12:1-9).
Will you continue to live life as if God does not exist, as if your judgment is not impending and even long overdue from a legal standpoint?
Don't test God's patience. Don't take His visible silence as a sign of His indifference over the matters of sin in your life.
If you are not His in Jesus Christ, then He is angry with you every day. Indeed, He must be and His wrath presently abides on you. Will you tamper with a holy, infinite, and eternal God for even a moment longer?
If I told you to put down a thousand dollars on a flipped coin, letting you choose heads or tails in a gamble, you would shutter, and say, ""No, I will not risk the loss of a thousand dollars, even at the odds of 50%!""
But why then do you gamble with your life for another day? Why do you delay a sincere pursuit of Christ, for another moment? Why do you spin the loaded barrel yet another day when eternity hangs in the balance?
Father, help us to become far less clumsy with our friends' broken hearts. Father, forgive us for making optional things essential, and essential things optional. Father, thank you that you didn't deal with us according to our sins today, or reward us according to our iniquities. Thank you, Father, for dealing with us according to Jesus' obedience, and for rewarding us according to his righteousness. We pray these things in Jesus' name. Amen.
2 Peter 1:1 "Simon Peter, a servant and apostle of Jesus Christ, To those who through the righteousness of our God and Savior Jesus Christ have received a faith as precious as ours."
Today, we begin a verse-by-verse study of the book of Second Peter. Why are we doing this, you ask? Luke 24:27. If Jesus-centered expository sermons were good enough for Jesus himself, they're good enough for us. A gospel-centered verse-by-verse study is like steak and potatoes. A self-help-like moralistic sermon is like that fast food you crave but don’t care for three minutes after you eat it.
In other words: We want to go verse-by-verse because we mine God’s Word for all it is worth. As always, we can’t cover everything. However, we pray that you will study and pray to our triune Lord for understanding as well. He will answer!
First, you need to know that Second Peter was one of the last books written and accepted into the New Testament. Many didn’t think that Peter wrote the letter himself. Yet, there is no good reason to deny that Peter wrote it. In fact, while there are differences of word usage between First and Second Peter, this is probably due to the fact that Peter used a different secretary to record the words. Second Peter is God’s Word!
Second, you need to know the audience. Who is Peter writing to? Pretty much the same people he wrote to in his first letter—a Gentile congregation in today’s country of Turkey. What was he writing about, you ask? He was writing to remind the believers that Jesus would return and, until that day, they needed to pursue personal holiness. Peter knows there are false teachers who deny Christ’s return (see chapter three) and he needed to correct them, edify them, and encourage them.
What are some takeaways from this opening verse of this book?
1. Pray that God may show us the difference today between the good and the best; the necessary and the non-essential; the timeless and the temporary. Peter identifies himself as a “servant” of Jesus. The Greek word means “slave.” Peter could not look at himself in the mirror without completely, wholly, and utterly acknowledging that Jesus was his whole life – not just part of it. Is he yours?
2. Doctrine (what we believe) matters! All doctrine matters for life and godliness--even the doctrines that honest Christians debate amongst themselves. Doctrine matters because it shapes the conceptual structures through which God, as he really is, comes to us in power. How you view yourself (“slave of God”) and apply it practically (“obtained faith”) informs how you live for Christ.
3. As the old hymns says, “My hope is built on nothing less, and nothing more, than Jesus' blood and righteousness.” This is what Peter is reminding his readers here. I often wonder what percentage of Christians realize that, along with forgiveness, we've been given Jesus' righteousness. Our righteousness is just as good as Jesus' righteousness, because it IS Jesus' righteousness. Nothing less will do. Jesus is your righteousness & holiness (1 Cor. 1:30). Any thought of increased holiness beyond union with Christ is insane.
As we begin our study over the next couple of months, would you pray that God would use this to share the Gospel and convert the unsaved and grow those who are saved?
Father, as our substitute, Jesus became both the agent and victim of sin on the cross, thus he is our righteousness AND healing. The cross is simultaneously our greatest "dressing down" and dressing up. Our sinful rags for Jesus' perfect righteousness, Father. Oh, how we thank you. You are amazing! Thank you that while we were sinners you gave us life eternal and forgiveness in Jesus. Praise you! Help us, as Romans 8 says, to be slaves to your will—not out of obligation, but out of freedom. In Jesus’ name. Amen.
2 Peter 1:2 "Grace and peace be yours in abundance through the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord."
Don’t overlook the introductions of letters in the Bible. While we may zone out the opening remarks of speakers or announcements in public settings or writings today, the first century culture that Peter writes in jumps “right out of the gate.” In every letter, no matter how messed up the church, amidst his rebukes, the apostles always encouraged them in the grace and peace of God in Christ.
Grace is a Greek greeting and peace is a Jewish greeting. But this is exactly what the Gospel is! The gospel gives us a change in status (justified sinner) and a change in nature (broken sinner becoming like Jesus). Both are by grace. And the best news of the gospel—our peace, anchor and hope, is not that we know the Lord, but that he knows us.
Grace and peace experienced in knowledge. Paul reminded us: ""Grace to you and peace from God our Father"" (Galatians 1:3). Unlike the Qur’an, which teaches qualified grace and peace, earned by us. If I'm talking myself into grace and peace, then I'm still listening to myself, believing myself. The gospel calls me to believe God’s finished work in Jesus Christ. It is finished. Death is done. Christ has won!
True and enduring passion comes from a personal and intimate knowledge of the Gospel of Jesus Christ and the outpouring of the Holy Spirit! Believing the gospel as you go to bed is like crawling in between the sheets of God's grace and peace. Sleep well, my friends.
Father, grant peace to those who when the day ends and dark falls, anxieties rise and fears multiply. When your sovereignty and our frailty collide today, may the result be glory for you and peace for us. We pray that you would increase our knowledge of your grace and peace. Remind us through your Spirit the need for the Gospel. We know that only in Christ and Christ alone are we forgiven. Jesus, we will rest well tonight in your sleepless care and unwavering love. Why did we ever look elsewhere for peace? In your name – Jesus’ name – amen.
2 Peter 1:3 "His divine power has given us everything we need for a godly life through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness."
His divine power has given us everything we need for a godly life through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness.
Peter has reminded his readers of their identify in Christ (1:1) and greeted them acceptingly in the grace and knowledge of Jesus Christ (1:2).
As we enter verse three, he transitions to tell us that there is nothing cheap, second-rate in Jesus. Only the lofty, the glorious. And, what’s more, nothing degrading in Christ, nothing to filter out. Wherever the gospel goes, standards rise, dignity grows, and humaneness appears.
Yes, it really is true, you right now have everything you need for life and godliness. So much for my whining and excuses! This is the Gospel math: Divine compassion plus divine power equals abundant provision. In fact, God commands you to wage war with every sin every day and then He fights on your behalf with omnipotent divine power even when you don’t have the sense to do so (2 10:4).
So, if you have failed in sin and need to repent, do so (Psalm 51)!. But, as God’s child, your life has been raised from the dead and invaded by the divine power and mercy of the triune God. My hope in 2017: ""Not to us, O Lord, not to us, but to your name give glory"" (Psalm 115:1). With unmistakable divine power!
Today, then, will you live like you really do believe that you've been given everything you need for life and godliness?
Father, may the gospel come with power tomorrow; convicting us of sin and convincing us of grace. Reveal Jesus clearly, Lord! Forgive me when I use the doctrine of justification to beat up legalists more than I submit to its power to change ME. Today, Father, by the power of the gospel, may we think rightly, see clearly, and love sacrificially, all to your glory. In Jesus’ name. Amen.