Famous Lasting Words (1 Kings 2v1-12)


I thought this was funny.  It’s from a list called the Top Ten Criticisms of Churches.  The writers first state the criticism then give their suggested solution.

In the interest of time I’ll only mention three of them.

Criticism #1 – “Nobody noticed when I was gone for three weeks.”
The Suggested Solution:  From now on, each member of the congregation will be required to have placed on their ankle a tracking device so that we will know where they are at all times, including when they are at the lake, at the golf course, hunting, etc.  Also, each member will be required to bring a doctor’s note stating that the member was actually sick and had an excuse for being out of church.  The church will also start to use the phone tree system to give everyone a wake-up call on Sunday mornings so that they can get to church on time.

Criticism #2 – “I don’t know everybody anymore.”
The Suggested Solution: From now on each member of the congregation will be required to memorize the names and faces of each member of the congregation, including each new member that joins hereafter.  Also, each member will be required wear a photo ID for identification purposes.

Criticism #3 – “The worship team doesn’t sing my kind of music.”
The Suggested Solution: From now on, there will be no more worship team or congregational singing but each seat in the sanctuary will be equipped with an IPOD and headphones to listen to your favorite type of Christian music during the worship service.

These were posted by a deacon board that was obviously frustrated by criticisms of their leadership.  You’ve heard of Angry Birds?  This was an Angry Board!

Their sarcastic approach is probably not helpful but it does highlight the fact that we might not always be working together in the church to further the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

One of the biblical illustrations of the church is that we are God’s building, we are God’s temple, on the earth.  The apostles and prophets of the first century laid the foundation and we come along as living stones and continue to build generation after generation.

In the New Testament letters to various churches we discover the Lord’s plans for our building.
We also discover that God the Holy Spirit makes available to us every necessary spiritual provision with which to build.

So we have all the plans and every provision for building God’s spiritual temple.  All we need, then, is to have the right spiritual heart as we approach the work.

We can identify a few components of that right heart as we look at the last words of David to his son and successor, Solomon.  Just like the Lord has done for us, David had provided all the plans and every provision for the building of God’s literal temple on earth in Jerusalem.  All Solomon needed was the right heart as he approached the work.

He gets an understanding of that right heart from David’s deathbed counsel.  The king tells the future king (1)to live godward with devotion, and (2)to look man-ward with discernment.

David’s advice will serve us well if we will heed it with regard to building God’s spiritual temple, the church, on the earth.

I’m going to organize my thoughts around two points: #1 You Build The Church By Living Godward With Devotion, and #2 You Build The Church By Looking Man-ward With Discernment.

#1    You Build The Church
    By Living Godward With Devotion

In the letter to the church at Ephesus the apostle Paul said that the foundation of the building was laid once and for all.  He said that the church is,

Ephesians 2:20  … built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ Himself being the chief cornerstone,
Ephesians 2:21  in whom the whole building, being fitted together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord,
Ephesians 2:22  in whom you also are being built together for a dwelling place of God in the Spirit.

Then, regarding the day-to-day work of the church he said,

Ephesians 4:11  And He Himself gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers,
Ephesians 4:12  for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ,

We would say that the church exists to exalt Jesus Christ and we accomplish that by evangelizing nonbelievers and by equipping believers to do the work of the ministry.
Within that general framework there is a lot of room for variation.  There can and there should be different vision for exactly how to build.  There will always be many different gatherings of the church, each group building with their own vision.

In any particular church the builders need the right heart.  In his charge to his son, David gives us some things to consider about having a heart devoted to the Lord in our building for Him.

1 Kings 2:1  Now the days of David drew near that he should die, and he charged Solomon his son, saying:
1 Kings 2:2  “I go the way of all the earth; be strong, therefore, and prove yourself a man.

The words “be strong” can have a variety of meanings, including continue, prevail, and withstand.  With such perseverance over time serving the Lord Solomon could “prove” himself.

It does not take anything away from our dependance upon the Lord to realize that as His servants we are called upon to be faithful over time.  Faithfulness, in fact, is required of us.

1 Kings 2:3  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;

This word “charge” means to safeguard and to watch as if you were a sentry on duty.

If you want to be faithful throughout your lifetime and prove yourself then watch and guard over two things: “His ways” and His word.

What is meant by God’s “ways?”  There’s a beautiful verse in the Psalms, 103:7, that reads,  “He made known His ways to Moses, His acts [works] to the sons of Israel.”   Israel saw God’s works – His acts, deeds, and miracles.  Moses, however, knew God’s ways – His character and nature.  The people knew what God did, but Moses knew God.

Are you looking for God’s ways – or just His works?  Let’s say you are struggling in a trial, or you are stuck in some suffering.  Are you wanting deliverance and healing?  Or are you willing to wait upon the Lord and learn something about His ways that you could not know otherwise?

The trials of Job related in his book are a good example.  Job and his three friends all thought they knew God.  But as Job suffered, and as his situation continued, their dialog revealed that they knew God’s works and not His ways.  In fact, they didn’t really even know God’s works because they were wrong about why Job was suffering.

Finally Job started to understand God’s ways.  At one point he exclaimed, “I have heard of You by the hearing of the ear, But now my eye sees You” (42:5).  It was an “Aha!” moment going from wondering about the works of God to knowing His ways.

You’re also to stand guard over God’s word.  “His statutes, His commandments, His judgments, and His testimonies,” are a description of what was “written in the Law of Moses.”  It’s like saying “the Scriptures” only with more depth to remind Solomon that everything he needed to know could be discovered there.

The companion exhortation for us, in the New Testament, would be Second Timothy 3:16.

2 Timothy 3:16  All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness,

I find it comforting that everything I need for living the Christian life with godliness can be discovered in the Bible.  What a source!  What a resource!

1 Kings 2:4  that the Lord may fulfill His word which He spoke concerning me, saying, ‘If your sons take heed to their way, to walk before Me in truth with all their heart and with all their soul,’ He said, ‘you shall not lack a man on the throne of Israel.’

God wants to “fulfill His word” to His servants.  All He needs from us is that we would “take heed to [our] way” and to “walk before [Him] in truth with all [our] heart and soul.”

Taking “heed to [our] way,” would certainly include the general “way” a Christian should walk as revealed in the Bible.  But it also reminds me that God has a specific path, a plan, for my life to discover as I seek Him.
To “walk before [Him]” fully committed is our reasonable response to the love He showed us on the Cross at Calvary.  Who doesn’t want to be loved and to return that love?  You ARE loved – so realize it and return God’s love.

Our first look must be Godward.  When it is, we will build according to His plans depending on His spiritual provision.

#2    You Build The Church
    By Looking Man-ward With Discernment

It all sounded so glorious, this building of the temple in Jerusalem.  It was; but there were some people who would not be on board and who could hinder the work.

The church on earth, God’s spiritual temple, is glorious.  And then there are  always some people who are not on board!

(Including me; including you.  You or I can sometimes be the ‘difficult person’ that makes building God’s temple so stressful).

What can we learn from David’s lasting words?  We can identify at least three types of people in the three men he talked to Solomon about.

Or, if we apply this to ourselves (as we should), we see three possible attitudes we can adopt as fellow builders.  Two are not good; one is good.

First there is Joab.  He represents the self-serving person and attitude.

1 Kings 2:5  “Moreover you know also what Joab the son of Zeruiah did to me, and what he did to the two commanders of the armies of Israel, to Abner the son of Ner and Amasa the son of Jether, whom he killed. And he shed the blood of war in peacetime, and put the blood of war on his belt that was around his waist, and on his sandals that were on his feet.
1 Kings 2:6  Therefore do according to your wisdom, and do not let his gray hair go down to the grave in peace.

Joab killed “the two commanders of the armies of Israel” so he could remain commander.  He did it with deceit and brutality in order to further or secure his own self interests.

Before commenting further on this, let me answer a question.  Why didn’t David take care of this?  Why leave it for Solomon?

The same could be asked with regard to Shimei as we see in a moment.

Well, I’m not sure!  On the one hand, David and Joab and Shimei had history together.  They understood each other.  David could keep them reined-in to a certain extent.

On the other hand, if they deserved death, why postpone the inevitable and leave it to Solomon?

David was either led by the Lord in this or he was being disobedient.

Now sometimes we are quick to want to deal with things in the church and I think we can be too quick and get ahead of the Lord, not giving Him room to work.
Other times we should deal with issues, with people, but we simply don’t.

From Joab we learn that there is no place for self-serving, for self-seeking, for self interest, in building God’s temple.  It’s apparent that most church difficulties result from someone being selfish, self-willed, and wanting their own way.  They may disguise what they are doing in spiritual lingo, but at the heart of it you will find self.

Self isn’t always expressed negatively.  Often times it is expressed by people who simply have their own agenda in a church.  Instead of building together they are building for themselves.  They may establish something, some ministry, they think is necessary.  Maybe it is… Or maybe it just syphons the strength of the church and is not what the Lord has raised-up.

Self is overcome by seeking the Lord and, in the building of His church, by submitting to the godly leadership He has raised-up.

Let’s skip talking about Barzillai in verse seven and look at Shimei.

1 Kings 2:8  “And see, you have with you Shimei the son of Gera, a Benjamite from Bahurim, who cursed me with a malicious curse in the day when I went to Mahanaim. But he came down to meet me at the Jordan, and I swore to him by the Lord, saying, ‘I will not put you to death with the sword.’
1 Kings 2:9  Now therefore, do not hold him guiltless, for you are a wise man and know what you ought to do to him; but bring his gray hair down to the grave with blood.”

Shimei represents the subversive person and attitude.  We might use the word ‘divisive.‘  He’s the person who refuses to recognize God’s delegated authority in the leaders who have been raised up.  He rallies others against them, all in the name of what is best for everyone when in reality he is just refusing to submit.

It’s too bad that God’s church is known so much in the world for its division, for its in-fighting.  We are to maintain the spirit of unity in the bond of peace.  There is no place for subversive behavior that undermines the building.

It’s not all doom-and-gloom.  Back to verse seven and Barzillai.

1 Kings 2:7  “But show kindness to the sons of Barzillai the Gileadite, and let them be among those who eat at your table, for so they came to me when I fled from Absalom your brother.

Barzillai represents the supportive person and attitude.  He recognized David as the man God had raised-up to be king and when David needed it, Barzillai supported him at great sacrifice, great risk, great cost to himself.

Most of the believers in God’s temple are supporters!  They are there to build by giving their money, their time, their gifts and talents, to the work.

They deserve to “eat at [God’s] table.”  They deserve to be fed and nourished, to be built-up in order to do the work of the ministry.

Remember the deacon board I quoted in the intro and their sarcasm?  They  allowed the selfishness and the subversiveness of a few in their midst to influence their thinking.  Instead of feeding the supporters, they took a shot at the others.  The problem is, the supporters often take the hit, feeling condemned.

David’s life closes out with these last words:

1 Kings 2:10  So David rested with his fathers, and was buried in the City of David.
1 Kings 2:11  The period that David reigned over Israel was forty years; seven years he reigned in Hebron, and in Jerusalem he reigned thirty-three years.

At every stage of his life David was a misstep away from death:

As a young boy shepherding the sheep he was confronted in the wilderness by lions and bears.
As a teenager he faced-off against Goliath.
As a musician in King Saul’s court he had to dodge spears being thrown at him by the demented king.
For over a decade Saul sent murderers after David or sought to kill him himself.
All that time Israel’s enemies sought to kill David, too.
After he became king, David had to survive a coup attempt by one of his own sons.

Death stalked David.

Death stalks us.  You and I have no real assurance beyond right now.  Any of us could pass into eternity today.

Let’s be about the Lord’s business.  Let’s build and let’s do it with devotion and discernment.

I’m Warming You (2 Samuel 1)


A 2010 study by the Barna Group updates a multi-year tracking study and explores what Americans identify as their highest priority.

In the face of the current economic conditions, many Americans have become more focused on surviving and thriving.  When asked to identify their highest priority in life, more Americans mention issues of health, leisure, personal comfort, and lifestyle balance than did so just a few years ago.

Fewer adults said faith is their top priority in the 2010 study compared with 2006.  Even among some of the most actively involved faith groups, relatively small proportions of adults identify faith as their number one priority.

We’re going to take a look at King David towards the end of his life.  He’s old.  He’s in the grip of failing health.  He can’t seem to get warm no matter how many covers they put on him.  Lying there in his bed, shivering, we want to give him a pass as to his spiritual responsibilities.  But we will see in the text that his neglect of spiritual things catches up with him and nearly spells disaster for his kingdom.

We also will see in this story that David had incredible spiritual strength regardless the deteriorating condition of his health and was able to carry out fully his responsibilities as king once he set his mind to it.

We’re going to look for ourselves in this text – to see if we are neglecting or respecting our spiritual responsibilities in the face of life’s pressures and stressors.

I’ll organize my thoughts around two points: #1 The Realities Of Everyday Living Can Influence You To Neglect Spiritual Responsibilities, and #2 The Reality Of Kingdom Living Can Influence You To Respect Spiritual Responsibilities.

#1    The Realities Of Everyday Living
    Can Influence You To Neglect Spiritual Responsibilities

My initial reaction to this text was for everybody in it to cut David some slack.  I mean, after all, he’s old and infirm.  Could he really be expected to keep pace with his responsibilities?

The answer to that turns out to be “Yes!” as he rallies to take care of a situation he had been neglecting.

Let’s see first how weak, how tired, how worn-out he was.

1 Kings 1:1  Now King David was old, advanced in years; and they put covers on him, but he could not get warm.
1 Kings 1:2  Therefore his servants said to him, “Let a young woman, a virgin, be sought for our lord the king, and let her stand before the king, and let her care for him; and let her lie in your bosom, that our lord the king may be warm.”
1 Kings 1:3  So they sought for a lovely young woman throughout all the territory of Israel, and found Abishag the Shunammite, and brought her to the king.
1 Kings 1:4  The young woman was very lovely; and she cared for the king, and served him; but the king did not know her.
They searched for, and found, a ‘bed warmer’ for David.  Now before we react, let me read you an excerpt from a 2010 article titled, Holiday Inn location in London offers ‘human bed warmer’ service – a staffer to warm up your sheets.1

Guests who don’t want to hop into a cold bed at one English hotel now have a novel way to warm up: by enlisting a staff member to do it for them.

The Holiday Inn’s Kensington, London, location will offer a free five-minute “human bed warming” service throughout next week.

So what does a human bed warmer do?  A hotel staffer, dressed from head-to-toe in a white, fleecy getup that looks like a cross between a footed pajama set and a snowsuit, will get into your bed upon request and move around, generating some heat between those chilly sheets.

It’s akin to “having a giant hot water bottle in your bed,” Holiday Inn spokesperson Jane Bednall told Sky News.

If the Bible Knowledge Commentary is correct,

Their decision to provide a young woman who could keep him warm by lying next to him in bed and also serve as his nurse was in harmony with medical customs of that day. Josephus, a Jewish historian, and Galen, a Greek physician, refer to this therapeutic practice which continued into the Middle Ages.

The bed warmer was apparently a common practice and the writer specifically points out there was no sexual component to Abishag’s duties as David’s bed warming nurse.

The real point is, David was in pretty bad shape.  He was old and bedridden and shivering.  But he still had responsibilities!

1 Kings 1:5  Then Adonijah the son of Haggith exalted himself, saying, “I will be king”; and he prepared for himself chariots and horsemen, and fifty men to run before him.
1 Kings 1:6  (And his father had not rebuked him at any time by saying, “Why have you done so?” He was also very good-looking. His mother had borne him after Absalom.)

You remember Absalom.  He was the handsome son of David’s who had tried to take the kingdom from his father.  Adonijah was an Absalom clone in both looks and ambition.

The writer hones in on the failure of David to rebuke Adonijah at any time regarding his ambitions or actions.  David had a responsibility to deal with his son’s behavior but neglected to do so.

1 Kings 1:7  Then he conferred with Joab the son of Zeruiah and with Abiathar the priest, and they followed and helped Adonijah.
1 Kings 1:8  But Zadok the priest, Benaiah the son of Jehoiada, Nathan the prophet, Shimei, Rei, and the mighty men who belonged to David were not with Adonijah.
1 Kings 1:9  And Adonijah sacrificed sheep and oxen and fattened cattle by the stone of Zoheleth, which is by En Rogel; he also invited all his brothers, the king’s sons, and all the men of Judah, the king’s servants.
1 Kings 1:10  But he did not invite Nathan the prophet, Benaiah, the mighty men, or Solomon his brother.

Adonijah was acting as if David had appointed him his heir and successor.  It threatened the stability, maybe even the very existence, of the kingdom of Israel.

1 Kings 1:11  So Nathan spoke to Bathsheba the mother of Solomon, saying, “Have you not heard that Adonijah the son of Haggith has become king, and David our lord does not know it?
1 Kings 1:12  Come, please, let me now give you advice, that you may save your own life and the life of your son Solomon.
1 Kings 1:13  Go immediately to King David and say to him, ‘Did you not, my lord, O king, swear to your maidservant, saying, “Assuredly your son Solomon shall reign after me, and he shall sit on my throne”? Why then has Adonijah become king?’
1 Kings 1:14  Then, while you are still talking there with the king, I also will come in after you and confirm your words.”

Didn’t they realize David was old and infirm?  Didn’t they know he was bedridden and shivering?  Cut him some slack!

No, don’t cut him any slack!!  No matter his condition, they expected David to respect his spiritual responsibilities.

What I’m calling ‘the realities of life‘ always exert a powerful influence upon you to think you can neglect certain spiritual responsibilities.  You’re busy… You’re overwhelmed… You’re sick… You’re at a crossroads in your life… You’ve just experienced some powerful stressor.  The list could go on-and-on.

Rather than neglecting your spiritual responsibilities, in those ‘realities of life is when you can see most clearly that spiritual things must be your top priority.

We’ve seen in our studies that David exhibited a pattern of neglecting the disciplining of his boys.  It almost cost him the kingdom once and now it was happening again.

Is there something you have been neglecting?  Some spiritual responsibility?  If your answer is, “Yes,” then God is revealing it to you so you can deal with it right now, right where you’re at, regardless the realities of your life that may be influencing you to feel comfortable neglecting it.

#2    The Reality Of Kingdom Living
    Can Influence You To Respect Spiritual Responsibilities

God didn’t heal David or get him up out of bed even.  No, right from his sickbed, while shivering, with his teeth chattering, David took care of spiritual business.  In his weakness God proved Himself so strong.

1 Kings 1:15  So Bathsheba went into the chamber to the king. (Now the king was very old, and Abishag the Shunammite was serving the king.)
1 Kings 1:16  And Bathsheba bowed and did homage to the king. Then the king said, “What is your wish?”
1 Kings 1:17  Then she said to him, “My lord, you swore by the Lord your God to your maidservant, saying, ‘Assuredly Solomon your son shall reign after me, and he shall sit on my throne.’
1 Kings 1:18  So now, look! Adonijah has become king; and now, my lord the king, you do not know about it.
1 Kings 1:19  He has sacrificed oxen and fattened cattle and sheep in abundance, and has invited all the sons of the king, Abiathar the priest, and Joab the commander of the army; but Solomon your servant he has not invited.
1 Kings 1:20  And as for you, my lord, O king, the eyes of all Israel are on you, that you should tell them who will sit on the throne of my lord the king after him.
1 Kings 1:21  Otherwise it will happen, when my lord the king rests with his fathers, that I and my son Solomon will be counted as offenders.”

Bathsheba treated David as if he was seated on his throne.  It almost seems selfish, as if she’s ignoring his condition and putting undo pressure on him just to have her son promoted.

If that’s my reaction, I’m missing the point entirely.  David was still the king.  Regardless his physical condition God had not released him from his serving.  If anything, being so close to dying, to stepping into the kingdom of Heaven as it were, David ought to have been more focused on spiritual responsibilities than ever!

1 Kings 1:22  And just then, while she was still talking with the king, Nathan the prophet also came in.
1 Kings 1:23  So they told the king, saying, “Here is Nathan the prophet.” And when he came in before the king, he bowed down before the king with his face to the ground.
1 Kings 1:24  And Nathan said, “My lord, O king, have you said, ‘Adonijah shall reign after me, and he shall sit on my throne’?
1 Kings 1:25  For he has gone down today, and has sacrificed oxen and fattened cattle and sheep in abundance, and has invited all the king’s sons, and the commanders of the army, and Abiathar the priest; and look! They are eating and drinking before him; and they say, ‘Long live King Adonijah!’
1 Kings 1:26  But he has not invited me – me your servant – nor Zadok the priest, nor Benaiah the son of Jehoiada, nor your servant Solomon.
1 Kings 1:27  Has this thing been done by my lord the king, and you have not told your servant who should sit on the throne of my lord the king after him?”

Nathan called David out for not having “told… who should sit on the throne” after his death.  He ignored David’s physical disabilities and held him accountable for his spiritual responsibilities as king.

This was a sort of ‘snap out of it’ moment for David.  How would he respond?  Would he ask Abishag to lie down in bed because all this stress was making him cold?  Or would he act like the king everyone knew he still was?

1 Kings 1:28  Then King David answered and said, “Call Bathsheba to me.” So she came into the king’s presence and stood before the king.
1 Kings 1:29  And the king took an oath and said, “As the Lord lives, who has redeemed my life from every distress,
1 Kings 1:30  just as I swore to you by the Lord God of Israel, saying, ‘Assuredly Solomon your son shall be king after me, and he shall sit on my throne in my place,’ so I certainly will do this day.”
1 Kings 1:31  Then Bathsheba bowed with her face to the earth, and paid homage to the king, and said, “Let my lord King David live forever!”
1 Kings 1:32  And King David said, “Call to me Zadok the priest, Nathan the prophet, and Benaiah the son of Jehoiada.” So they came before the king.
1 Kings 1:33  The king also said to them, “Take with you the servants of your lord, and have Solomon my son ride on my own mule, and take him down to Gihon.
1 Kings 1:34  There let Zadok the priest and Nathan the prophet anoint him king over Israel; and blow the horn, and say, ‘Long live King Solomon!’
1 Kings 1:35  Then you shall come up after him, and he shall come and sit on my throne, and he shall be king in my place. For I have appointed him to be ruler over Israel and Judah.”
1 Kings 1:36  Benaiah the son of Jehoiada answered the king and said, “Amen! May the Lord God of my lord the king say so too.
1 Kings 1:37  As the Lord has been with my lord the king, even so may He be with Solomon, and make his throne greater than the throne of my lord King David.”

Wow.  The minute David determined to face the situation the Lord gave him wisdom and empowering to do so.

Our age and infirmities can be debilitating.  The stressors in our lives can knock the wind out of us.  But we can, in God’s strength, rise to the occasion and complete our spiritual responsibilities.

Neglect is not an option.

1 Kings 1:38  So Zadok the priest, Nathan the prophet, Benaiah the son of Jehoiada, the Cherethites, and the Pelethites went down and had Solomon ride on King David’s mule, and took him to Gihon.
1 Kings 1:39  Then Zadok the priest took a horn of oil from the tabernacle and anointed Solomon. And they blew the horn, and all the people said, “Long live King Solomon!”
1 Kings 1:40  And all the people went up after him; and the people played the flutes and rejoiced with great joy, so that the earth seemed to split with their sound.
1 Kings 1:41  Now Adonijah and all the guests who were with him heard it as they finished eating. And when Joab heard the sound of the horn, he said, “Why is the city in such a noisy uproar?”
1 Kings 1:42  While he was still speaking, there came Jonathan, the son of Abiathar the priest. And Adonijah said to him, “Come in, for you are a prominent man, and bring good news.”
1 Kings 1:43  Then Jonathan answered and said to Adonijah, “No! Our lord King David has made Solomon king.
1 Kings 1:44  The king has sent with him Zadok the priest, Nathan the prophet, Benaiah the son of Jehoiada, the Cherethites, and the Pelethites; and they have made him ride on the king’s mule.
1 Kings 1:45  So Zadok the priest and Nathan the prophet have anointed him king at Gihon; and they have gone up from there rejoicing, so that the city is in an uproar. This is the noise that you have heard.
1 Kings 1:46  Also Solomon sits on the throne of the kingdom.
1 Kings 1:47  And moreover the king’s servants have gone to bless our lord King David, saying, ‘May God make the name of Solomon better than your name, and may He make his throne greater than your throne.’ Then the king bowed himself on the bed.
1 Kings 1:48  Also the king said thus, ‘Blessed be the Lord God of Israel, who has given one to sit on my throne this day, while my eyes see it!’ ”
1 Kings 1:49  So all the guests who were with Adonijah were afraid, and arose, and each one went his way.

I like the notation in verse forty-seven, “then the king bowed himself on the bed.”  When?  After he’d taken care of his spiritual business.

Let’s put it this way.  He didn’t need rest so he could be more spiritual.  He needed to be spiritual and then he could rest.

The joys of eternal life, and the empowering from it, overruled the so-called ‘realities of life’ and David did what he was gifted and called upon to do.  Age, infirmity, shivering – none of it was of any consequence when you factored God back into the equation.

Are you feeling weak, stressed, overwhelmed?  From one point of view, you are weak, stressed, and overwhelmed.  You always will be!  What you’re going through is real.  But it’s not the only reality, and it’s not the ‘real’ reality.  Eternity is more real and rather than shrink away from your gifts and callings, in your weaknesses God wants to show Himself strong on your behalf.

1 Kings 1:50  Now Adonijah was afraid of Solomon; so he arose, and went and took hold of the horns of the altar.
1 Kings 1:51  And it was told Solomon, saying, “Indeed Adonijah is afraid of King Solomon; for look, he has taken hold of the horns of the altar, saying, ‘Let King Solomon swear to me today that he will not put his servant to death with the sword.’ ”
1 Kings 1:52  Then Solomon said, “If he proves himself a worthy man, not one hair of him shall fall to the earth; but if wickedness is found in him, he shall die.”
1 Kings 1:53  So King Solomon sent them to bring him down from the altar. And he came and fell down before King Solomon; and Solomon said to him, “Go to your house.”

The symbolism of taking hold of the altar’s horns seems to have meant that as God had been gracious to man, as seen in accepting man’s offerings to atone for his sins, so one man should be gracious to another man who had offended him.

David’s neglect, over a long period of time, brought him and the entire kingdom of Israel to the brink of a disaster.

David’s respect for his spiritual responsibilities quickly righted things.

Something the apostle Paul wrote is a good commentary on this episode in the life of David.

2 Corinthians 4:16  Therefore we do not lose heart. Even though our outward man is perishing, yet the inward man is being renewed day by day.
2 Corinthians 4:17  For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, is working for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory,
2 Corinthians 4:18  while we do not look at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen. For the things which are seen are temporary, but the things which are not seen are eternal.

Your “outward man is perishing.”  This encompasses all the kinds of things we’ve seen in David, e.g., age and infirmity.  But Paul goes even further and mentioned “affliction.”  He had in mind persecutions and sufferings on account of your serving the Lord.

Through it all he said we ought to understand that our “inward man” is growing and being strengthened as we are becoming more-and-more Christlike according to the will and the plan of God.

Look to what you can yet accomplish for the kingdom of God despite the ‘realities of life’ because your real life is eternal, in the Heavens.

Census And Sensibility (2 Samuel 24v1-25)


Kidnapping for ransom is a common occurrence in various parts of the world.  Certain cities and countries vie for the title “Kidnapping Capital of the World.”  Mexico is on that list having a kidnapping rate three times higher than Colombia’s during its darkest period of drug violence.

In 2009 the Los Angeles Times named Phoenix, Arizona as America’s kidnapping capital reporting that every year hundreds of ransom kidnappings occur there, virtually all associated with human and drug smuggling from Mexico.

Kidnapping for ransom is such a common occurrence throughout history that the Jewish Talmud, a collection of doctrines and laws compiled and written before the 8th Century AD by Jewish rabbis, indicates that part of a husbands marriage vows are to ransom his wife should she be kidnapped!

Ransom was also required to purchase an individual out of another institution we are mostly unfamiliar with – slavery.

Most of us live in relative safety from kidnapping and slavery.  That’s obviously a good thing except that we have lost an appreciation for the word ‘ransom’ when it’s used in the Bible to describe our salvation.

Jesus said of Himself, “The Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom on behalf of many” (Mark 10:45).

Every original listener would have had a very strong reaction to the word ‘ransom’ because everyone in Jesus’ audience would have had some personal experience with either kidnapping or slavery.

The Jews listening to Jesus would have had a further understanding of the word ‘ransom.’  At the time of the Exodus from Egypt, when God killed the firstborn of every house, the Jews were spared by sacrificing a lamb in place of their firstborn.  It was considered a ransom.  So when Jesus said He would give His life “as a ransom for many,” they would have connected it with the Passover and understood He was declaring Himself “the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world.”

By now you’re asking yourself, “What does any of this have to do with our text in Second Samuel twenty-four?”  We will see that King David ordered a census be taken.  It resulted in a plague that in three days time took the lives of 70,000 Jews.

Listen to this verse, Exodus 30:12.

Exodus 30:12  “When you take the census of the children of Israel for their number, then every man shall give a ransom for himself to the Lord, when you number them, that there may be no plague among them when you number them.

Did you catch the use of the word “ransom?”  David took a census but ignored the “ransom” price and brought upon himself and Israel the judgment God had prescribed for such blatant disobedience.

Next you should be asking, “What does any of this have to do with us?”  Well, if you are a Christian then, according to Jesus, you’ve been “ransomed” by Him!  You and I need to understand the strength of that word.
I’ll organize my thoughts on this chapter around two points: #1 The Fact You Were Ransomed Should Affect The Way You Live, and #2 The Fact You Were Ransomed Should Affect The Way You Give.

#1     The Fact You Were Ransomed
    Should Affect The Way You Live

I want to make one simple point from these opening verses, and it is this.  It is all too possible to know God and to be serving Him in a spirit of independence as if your life belonged to you rather than to the Lord Who ransomed you.

David will be our example.  He was definitely a man of God and he was God’s man for the job of king.  Nevertheless he would number the army independently of God’s command to take a census as if the men belonged to him rather than to God.

2 Samuel 24:1  Again the anger of the Lord was aroused against Israel, and He moved David against them to say, “Go, number Israel and Judah.”

The “he” of that verse is not who you might think.  There is a parallel account of this episode in First Chronicles twenty-one.  It opens like this:

1 Chronicles 21:1  Now Satan stood up against Israel, and moved David to number Israel.

The writer of Second Samuel seemed to assume everyone would understand the “he” of verse one was Satan and that it could not be God since He tempts no one to do evil.

Commenting on this William MacDonald writes, “Satan precipitated it, David performed it… and God permitted it.”  God would use Satan to discipline David and Israel by permitting him to “move” David to take a census.

2 Samuel 24:2  So the king said to Joab the commander of the army who was with him, “Now go throughout all the tribes of Israel, from Dan to Beersheba, and count the people, that I may know the number of the people.”

The verse is written to indicate this was David’s idea; God had not ordered a census.  We are familiar with census taking and might think, “What’s the big deal?”  The ‘big deal’ is at least two things:

For one thing, numbering the people of Israel was seen as an act of ownership.  Since God had ransomed them, He owned them and only He could order them counted.
For a second thing, we read in Exodus 30:12 that whenever they were counted a “ransom” was to be paid to acknowledge that they belonged to God.

Notice, too, that David was only interested in counting soldiers.  His concern was with the relative military might or weakness of Israel.

2 Samuel 24:3  And Joab said to the king, “Now may the Lord your God add to the people a hundred times more than there are, and may the eyes of my lord the king see it. But why does my lord the king desire this thing?”

Joab was David’s commander.  He was not really very spiritual, which makes it all the more meaningful that even he could see this was a bad idea.  His words indicate the census was being motivated by either David’s fear or pride – fear at having too few men or pride at having built his  original army of 400 misfits into something much greater.

Joab calls the census “this thing.”  For the next almost ten months all of Israel would be concentrated on the census – all the efforts and energies of the army and the civilians.  All on something God had not ordered and did not desire that could be called “this thing” that David had concocted.

God forbid our serving the Lord would be “this thing” we have concocted rather than the discovery of His will for our lives!

2 Samuel 24:4  Nevertheless the king’s word prevailed against Joab and against the captains of the army. Therefore Joab and the captains of the army went out from the presence of the king to count the people of Israel.
2 Samuel 24:5  And they crossed over the Jordan and camped in Aroer, on the right side of the town which is in the midst of the ravine of Gad, and toward Jazer.
2 Samuel 24:6  Then they came to Gilead and to the land of Tahtim Hodshi; they came to Dan Jaan and around to Sidon;
2 Samuel 24:7  and they came to the stronghold of Tyre and to all the cities of the Hivites and the Canaanites. Then they went out to South Judah as far as Beersheba.
2 Samuel 24:8  So when they had gone through all the land, they came to Jerusalem at the end of nine months and twenty days.
2 Samuel 24:9  Then Joab gave the sum of the number of the people to the king. And there were in Israel eight hundred thousand valiant men who drew the sword, and the men of Judah were five hundred thousand men.

I feel obligated to mention that in the parallel account in First Chronicles different numbers are given.  Scholars have suggested several different likely solutions to what might initially seem a contradiction.  It is not a contradiction.

2 Samuel 24:10  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.”

David did not accuse God of tricking him or tempting him.  He didn’t object that God had permitted Satan to stand up against Israel and influence David to take the sinful census.

No, David recognized that it was his sin and that he was personally responsible.  God permitted David to do what was in his heart in order to show him what was in his heart and bring him to repentance.

Is your heart convicting you about something?  Then repent of it!

2 Samuel 24:11  Now when David arose in the morning, the word of the Lord came to the prophet Gad, David’s seer, saying,
2 Samuel 24:12  “Go and tell David, ‘Thus says the Lord: “I offer you three things; choose one of them for yourself, that I may do it to you.” ‘ ”
2 Samuel 24:13  So Gad came to David and told him; and he said to him, “Shall seven years of famine come to you in your land? Or shall you flee three months before your enemies, while they pursue you? Or shall there be three days’ plague in your land? Now consider and see what answer I should take back to Him who sent me.”
2 Samuel 24:14  And David said to Gad, “I am in great distress. Please let us fall into the hand of the Lord, for His mercies are great; but do not let me fall into the hand of man.”
2 Samuel 24:15  So the Lord sent a plague upon Israel from the morning till the appointed time. From Dan to Beersheba seventy thousand men of the people died.

When we confess our sin, God immediately and eternally forgives us our sin.  But our sin may have temporary consequences on the earth.  David’s did and they were severe.

David chose a consequence that would first of all put him and Israel into the Lord’s hands rather than the hands of their enemies.  Secondly, it was the shortest of the time periods.  Thirdly, it was the only consequence that also exposed David and his family to potential harm.  (Chances were that neither an extended famine or defeat by enemies would really affect palace life.  But a plague was indiscriminate).  And, fourthly, it was the penalty that God warned would attend any census that failed to collect the required ransom.

God did not need the ransom money.  It wasn’t much, anyway – only a half-shekel per man.  It was a token to remind everyone that they were a ransomed people who had been slaves to sin but were now set free to serve the Lord as He prescribed.

They had been ransomed by the blood of lambs when God required the death of the firstborn.  The half-shekel reminded of that blood from the original Passover and it pointed to the blood of the Lamb to come – Jesus, our Passover.

What’s more the price indicated that this was a universal provision for the universal problem of sin.  Rich or poor, all were on equal ground.  Ransom had to be paid by God – which He did in sending His Son to die on Calvary’s Cross.

Our application, remember, is that it is all too possible to know God and to be serving Him in a spirit of independence as if your life belonged to you rather than to the Lord Who ransomed you.

You and I were slaves to sin, headed for death.  Satan held us captive.  The Lord bought us out from that slavery.  He gave His life a ransom for us and whosoever would believe on Him.  We therefore belong to Him.
We believe we belong to Him but do we really live like we do?  The course of our life, is it the one chosen for us by God?  Or did we choose it and are now merely ask Him to bless us along our way?

I’d like to think most of us are on the path the Lord chose for us.  Even so, along that path are we serving Him?  Or are we doing “this thing” or “that thing” of our own desire?

Here’s one test for all of us.  When’s the last time you did something radical that God was asking you to do?  I mean, you can’t read too far into the Gospels or the Book of Acts without seeing God call upon His followers to do something radical.

Not foolish; radical.  If we aren’t doing anything like that, or it’s been a long, long time, perhaps we need to consider that we are counting and counting on His blessings but living to please ourselves.

Instead let’s get back to asking the Lord to reveal His plans so we might walk in them.

#2    The Fact You Were Ransomed
    Should Affect The Way You Give

Again I have one very simple point to make from this section.  When I am living as I ought to be, it will be reflected in my attitude toward giving to the Lord.

2 Samuel 24:16  And when the angel stretched out His hand over Jerusalem to destroy it, the Lord relented from the destruction, and said to the angel who was destroying the people, “It is enough; now restrain your hand.” And the angel of the Lord was by the threshing floor of Araunah [A-ron-ah] the Jebusite.
2 Samuel 24:17  Then David spoke to the Lord when he saw the angel who was striking the people, and said, “Surely I have sinned, and I have done wickedly; but these sheep, what have they done? Let Your hand, I pray, be against me and against my father’s house.”
2 Samuel 24:18  And Gad came that day to David and said to him, “Go up, erect an altar to the Lord on the threshing floor of Araunah the Jebusite.”
2 Samuel 24:19  So David, according to the word of Gad, went up as the Lord commanded.

David asked the Lord why He was destroying the people of Israel when it was he and his house who were guilty.  God’s reply, given through Gad, was for David to “erect an altar… on the threshing floor of Araunah.”

It wasn’t really an answer so much as it was a command.  God may not directly answer you when you seek Him but if you will obey Him you will discover His deeper purposes.

2 Samuel 24:20  Now Araunah looked, and saw the king and his servants coming toward him. So Araunah went out and bowed before the king with his face to the ground.
2 Samuel 24:21  Then Araunah said, “Why has my lord the king come to his servant?” And David said, “To buy the threshing floor from you, to build an altar to the Lord, that the plague may be withdrawn from the people.”
2 Samuel 24:22  Now Araunah said to David, “Let my lord the king take and offer up whatever seems good to him. Look, here are oxen for burnt sacrifice, and threshing implements and the yokes of the oxen for wood.
2 Samuel 24:23  All these, O king, Araunah has given to the king.” And Araunah said to the king, “May the Lord your God accept you.”
2 Samuel 24:24  Then the king said to Araunah, “No, but I will surely buy it from you for a price; nor will I offer burnt offerings to the Lord my God with that which costs me nothing.” So David bought the threshing floor and the oxen for fifty shekels of silver.
2 Samuel 24:25  And David built there an altar to the Lord, and offered burnt offerings and peace offerings. So the Lord heeded the prayers for the land, and the plague was withdrawn from Israel.

OK, so if the bottom line, the take-home lesson, is “nor will I offer… to the Lord my God that which costs me nothing,” the spiritual question to ask myself is, “What is it costing me to serve the Lord?”

There are a few Araunah’s in the body of Christ.  They generously give of their time, their talent, their finances.

But there are also those who are perfectly willing to ride along on the offerings of the Araunah’s!  Unlike David, there are those who say, by their action (or inaction), “Great! Why should it cost me anything if you are willing to sacrifice?”

It must cost you something because it cost God everything to ransom you, save you!

Araunah’s threshingfloor was located on Mount Moriah.  It was the place Abraham had climbed to with his son, Isaac, to offer him as a sacrifice to the Lord.  It was there Abraham would understand what it cost for God to ransom him, to save him.

God stayed Abraham’s hand from actually killing Isaac.  Instead He provided Himself a ram in the place of Isaac.

But He also literally would provide Himself.  It was in this same area, this same set of hills, that Jesus Christ would be crucified.  It was there He would be offered as the final Lamb sufficient to save all who trust in Him for eternal life.  It was there Jesus died for you.

Let me close this part, about our giving, by saying this: You and I are supposed to be encouraged by both Araunah’s generosity and David’s philosophy.

Be an Araunah – someone who is always ready to give because it’s good, because you understand you’ve been ransomed and everything you have really does belong to God anyway.
Be a David – not ‘pre-census’ but after he had come to his senses.  Someone who is joyful in the realization that a ransomed person takes every opportunity to sacrifice time, talents, and monies to the Lord Who bought them.

Mighty, Mighty Man… (2 Samuel 23v8-39)


Who is your favorite unlikely movie hero?

Here are just a few candidates for the top ‘zero to hero.’

Daniel LaRusso in The Karate Kid.
Sam Gamgee in The Lord of the Rings trilogy.
Rocky Balboa in any of the Rocky movies.
There are a lot of comic book characters that qualify, e.g., Steve “Captain America” Rogers and Peter “Spiderman” Parker.

Our text in Second Samuel is a list of what were called David’s “mighty men.”  They weren’t always heroes.  If you remember back before David was king, these men were among the distressed population of Israel, who were in debt, who fled to live with David in exile.  David molded them into the heroes we read about.

Have you ever thought of yourself as a mighty man or woman of God?  You ought to and not because of anything you have done.  You simply came to the Lord – in much distress and as a debtor to sin – and He began to mold you into a hero or heroine of the faith.

He will go on molding you, shaping you, changing you, throughout your lifetime on earth until one day, at your death or in the rapture, He presents you absolutely perfect to His Father in Heaven.

Mean time there is a sense, a humbling sense, in which we should see ourselves as His mighty men and women on the earth.

I’ll organize my thoughts around two points: #1 If You Want To Be A Mighty Man Or Woman For God, Just Start Living Like One, and #2 If You Want To Be A Mighty Man Or Woman For God, Just Start Loving Like One.

#1    If You Want To Be A Mighty Man Or Woman
    For God, Just Start Living Like One
    (v8-12 & 18-39)

We touched on this theme in our last study, in verses one through seven.  David described himself as coming from humble origins to being exalted by God.  Now he shows how God did the same for those who gathered to him.

A total of thirty-seven men are listed.  The relatively small number would seem to support the idea that there can only be a select few who rise above the rest; that there is a ‘cream of the crop’ when it comes to serving the Lord.

Not really!

For one thing, there are simply too many other passages that indicate God shows no favoritism, and that He loves to elevate the humble to be a hero.  Hebrews eleven is a good read in this regard.
For a second thing, you need to take into account that God has a different assignment for each of His heroes or heroines.  The fact that David had a set number of mighty men didn’t exclude others, in various positions, from excelling in their service.  He also had ‘mighty‘ priests, ‘mighty‘ counselors, etc.

The biggest obstacle to being used by God is thinking you cannot be used because God has someone else more spiritual than you.  He has you – right where you are at.

It’s like the parable where the master left leaving the stewards with varying amounts of money to invest for him.  Upon his return the master rewarded those who had invested their talents rather than hoarded them – regardless the varying amount he had left them with.

As we read chapter twenty-three we will see sub-groupings of three or two within the thirty.  That’s fine; some did more, but all were mighty men.

One other thing.  The chapter indicates that David surrounded himself with thirty mighty men but mentions a total of thirty-seven.  One solution is that thirty was the number of guys at any one time and as some of these died, e.g. Uriah the Hittite, they were replaced.

What I want to do is to look at characteristics of these men to see how we, too, are enabled to be mighty for God – right where we find ourselves at home, in the church, out in the world.

2 Samuel 23:8  These are the names of the mighty men whom David had: Josheb-Basshebeth the Tachmonite, chief among the captains. He was called Adino the Eznite, because he had killed eight hundred men at one time.

“Adino the Eznite” seems to be a kind of nickname.  It means something like, ‘he lifted up his spear.’  This great victory, killing hundreds of the enemy, was attributed to a single, simple act of lifting up his spear.  God did the rest and the result was amazing.

Lesson one for us is to lift up the spear; or we might say, engage.  Get involved.  Step-out in faith.  Stir up the gift that is in you.  Offer yourself each day a living sacrifice to God.

2 Samuel 23:9  And after him was Eleazar the son of Dodo, the Ahohite, one of the three mighty men with David when they defied the Philistines who were gathered there for battle, and the men of Israel had retreated.
2 Samuel 23:10  He arose and attacked the Philistines until his hand was weary, and his hand stuck to the sword. The Lord brought about a great victory that day; and the people returned after him only to plunder.

Eleazar fought through weariness to the point his hand was temporarily cramped and couldn’t let go of his sword.  You might say he put his hand to the sword and didn’t let go.

It’s reminiscent of Jesus’ words in Luke 9:62 when He said,  “No one, having put his hand to the plow, and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God.”  It’s an encouragement to us as followers of Jesus to press on in discipleship, to see our service to God as the long haul, to want to not just run the race for a time but to finish well.

We’re talking here about being faithful rather than flakey.  It’s something we can do, being faithful.  It’s all we are really asked to do!

Have you flaked-out?  Maybe you think you’ve put in your time and now it’s ‘me-time?’  Be faithful!  Especially in the little things.

2 Samuel 23:11  And after him was Shammah the son of Agee the Hararite. The Philistines had gathered together into a troop where there was a piece of ground full of lentils. So the people fled from the Philistines.
2 Samuel 23:12  But he stationed himself in the middle of the field, defended it, and killed the Philistines. So the Lord brought about a great victory.

The Philistines were raiders.  They’d come at harvest time and steal the crops.  It was worse than Hopper in A Bug’s Life because they’d take everything.

Not when Shammah was around!  He stood his ground and defeated the Philistines.

The detail that jumps out at me is that “the people fled.”  They left Shammah all alone.  Nevertheless he fought and won.

Being a Christian can involve a sense of aloneness.  You quite literally might be the only believer in your family, or at work, or in some other situation.  Are you going to listen to the counsel of our selfish society and feel sorry for yourself?  Or are you going to listen to the Lord and stand your ground?

At many points in your walk with the Lord it’s going to feel like it’s just you and Jesus.  You know what?  The Lord designs those times to see if He is enough for you!  He shows you what it is, or who it is, you truly seek.  It’s a part of His wonderful but jealous love for you.

Skip down to verses eighteen through thirty-nine.

2 Samuel 23:18  Now Abishai the brother of Joab, the son of Zeruiah, was chief of another three. He lifted his spear against three hundred men, killed them, and won a name among these three.
2 Samuel 23:19  Was he not the most honored of three? Therefore he became their captain. However, he did not attain to the first three.

Abishai’s exploits were a lot like those of Shammah but he didn’t get the same press as Shammah.  You and I are working every bit as hard for Jesus as the guys and gals getting all the glory.  Let them have it without complaining.  It’s Jesus we serve and it’s His “Well done!” we are seeking, not the praise or recognition of men.

2 Samuel 23:20  Benaiah was the son of Jehoiada, the son of a valiant man from Kabzeel, who had done many deeds. He had killed two lion-like heroes of Moab. He also had gone down and killed a lion in the midst of a pit on a snowy day.
2 Samuel 23:21  And he killed an Egyptian, a spectacular man. The Egyptian had a spear in his hand; so he went down to him with a staff, wrested the spear out of the Egyptian’s hand, and killed him with his own spear.
2 Samuel 23:22  These things Benaiah the son of Jehoiada did, and won a name among three mighty men.
2 Samuel 23:23  He was more honored than the thirty, but he did not attain to the first three. And David appointed him over his guard.

Man, what do you have to do to “attain to the first three?”  Benaiah was totally committed to his service.  He was the guy who volunteered for the toughest combat assignments before you even asked for volunteers.  Still, from the world’s point of view, “he did not attain to the first three.”

At many points in your walk the Lord wants to teach you to be content.  It may be at a time of abounding; it could be when you are being abased.  But it’s a lesson we each need to learn repeatedly.

It’s hard to be content when you are abounding.  It’s hard because comfort lulls you into a false sense of security.  You tend to lower your guard and slack-off in your walk and in your work.  Pride sets in.
It’s equally hard to learn to be content while being abased – while suffering through some trial.  It’s hard because the pain and the tears tend to blur your focus on Jesus.  Discouragement sets in.

I’m not going to read out loud verses twenty-four through thirty-nine.  They list the other mighty men.

Ever feel like you were just part of the roll?  You’re told you are special to God but nothing really sticks out and no one really takes notice of you.

Well, Jesus takes notice of you!  If your assignment seems small or insignificant or thankless, it’s not.  As Mr. Rogers used to sing, “you’re the only you-oo-oo, and I’m the only me-ee-ee.”

I hope I’ve said enough in this section to encourage you that if you want to be a mighty man or woman for God, just begin to act like one right where you are.  Anyone can get involved, lift up the spear, persevere, and be faithful.

#2    If You Want To Be A Mighty Man Or Woman
    For God, Just Start Loving Like One

In the midst of all these exploits one particular event is highlighted.  It happened early in the career of David and his mighty men, while they were in exile and on the run from King Saul.

2 Samuel 23:13  Then three of the thirty chief men went down at harvest time and came to David at the cave of Adullam. And the troop of Philistines encamped in the Valley of Rephaim.
2 Samuel 23:14  David was then in the stronghold, and the garrison of the Philistines was then in Bethlehem.
2 Samuel 23:15  And David said with longing, “Oh, that someone would give me a drink of the water from the well of Bethlehem, which is by the gate!”

OK, it might be a little hard to identify with David’s desire for a drink of Bethlehem well-water if you are from Hanford!  Substitute ice cream from Superior Dairy if it helps you to understand his longing for a little piece of home.

2 Samuel 23:16  So the three mighty men broke through the camp of the Philistines, drew water from the well of Bethlehem that was by the gate, and took it and brought it to David…

These guys risked their lives to get David a canteen full of water.

2 Samuel 23:16  … Nevertheless he would not drink it, but poured it out to the Lord.
2 Samuel 23:17  And he said, “Far be it from me, O Lord, that I should do this! Is this not the blood of the men who went in jeopardy of their lives?” Therefore he would not drink it. These things were done by the three mighty men.

That was unexpected!  Instead of drinking the water, David “poured it out to the Lord” as an offering.

Two things stand out from this story.

The first thing that stands out is that David’s men acted on a desire David voiced rather than being commanded.  They were so attentive to their captain that they knew what he wanted, and they acted without being given any direct orders to obey.

Let’s try to relate that to walking with Jesus.  Too often the Christian life is reduced to mechanics.  What should I do?  What is required?  What is the minimum?  I’m looking for orders to obey rather than listening for the Lord’s desires.

Perhaps an example would help.  We all know the importance of having daily devotions with the Lord – of setting aside that precious, personal time to be with Him.  I ran across this quote and wonder what your reaction might be.
Most Christians have been taught… to set aside a daily time for prayer and Scripture reading.  It’s what we are supposed to do… [Well] Jesus didn’t command that we have a regular time with Him each day.  Rather, He tells us to “love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind…”  This is how God longs for us to respond to His extravagant, unending love: not with a cursory “quiet time…” but with true love expressed through our lives” (Francis Chan).

How do you react to that?

If you react by thinking that you can skip your daily devotions, you’re missing the point.
But aren’t we missing the point if we maintain ‘devotions’ as an obligation, or even as a time where we learn more but are not loving Jesus more?

Here is another way of looking at this.  Christians have a tendency to wonder what we can and cannot do.  Can we dance?  Can we smoke?  Can we drink alcohol?  What kind of entertainments are acceptable?

In answering those questions we tend to go to extremes of either legalism or the flaunting our liberty.

The actions of David’s mighty men seems to indicate that we can know the very desires of our Savior for our lives so that we never need ask those questions.  We automatically know what pleases Him and what doesn’t please Him and we act accordingly.

The second thing that stands out from the story is that David poured-out the water as a sacrifice.  What do we really think about that?  If you had risked your life to get David a drink, would you have been excited about it’s being poured-out on the ground in some symbolic gesture?

One time a woman came to Jesus and broke an alabaster jar of precious ointment on His feet.  His disciples were furious because the ointment was costly.  Jesus commended the woman, did He not?

If you are following the Lord, at some point your life is going to seem as if it were being poured-out on the ground, wasted, lost.  Others will even see it that way.  Or, worse, no one sees it at all!
Jesus sees it!  It isn’t wasted if it’s for Him!  He sees it as an offering, precious to Him.

David Livingston, the great 19th century missionary to Africa, once said,

People talk of the sacrifice I have made in spending so much of my life in Africa… I never made a sacrifice… We ought not to talk of ‘sacrifice’ when we remember the great sacrifice which He made who left His Father’s throne on high to give Himself for us.

It’s too easy to become mechanical in our Christianity.

We schedule the times we are going to spend with Jesus, as if it’s really up to us to plan our lives and to make appointments with Him.  It’s the other way around!
We wrestle with how much, or usually how little, to give to God while acknowledging that everything we have belongs to Him.  The sad fact is that the vast majority of Christians give little or nothing to God.  But even those that give a certain regular percentage need to think in more extravagant terms.

Enough of that.  The negatives won’t motivate you to love; they never do.  You only end up heaping on more guilt.  You need instead to see the Lord leaving Heaven, giving all, to be with you, to fellowship with you.

You can be these three mighty men who watched as their lives, really, were poured-out on the ground before God.

You just need to start, or return to, loving the Lord with everything you’ve got – with all your heart, mind, soul, and strength.

David’s Swan Psalm (2 Samuel 23v1-7)


Yogi Berra once said, “The future ain’t what it used to be!”

I’m pretty sure he wasn’t addressing issues in the church but I do see a possible application of his words in contemporary Christianity.

Over the past two or three decades there has been a noticeable shift away from an emphasis on the coming of the Lord and the establishing of His kingdom on the earth.  As evidence I could cite that as far back as 1988 Dave Hunt saw this trend and wrote a book about it insightfully titled, Whatever Happened to Heaven?  In it he substantiated the shift in thinking away from the blessed hope of the imminent return of Jesus to focusing on the here-and-now.

For a lot of Christians, the future ain’t what it used to be.  It isn’t a motivation to serve and to sacrifice now with the understanding that the real rewards are waiting for them in Heaven.  No, Christians are concentrating more on the here-and-now rather than the hereafter.

David has something to say about this in the verses we have before us today.  They are the final psalm he was inspired to write.  In it he summarizes his life and he surveys his coming afterlife in relation to the coming of the Lord.

What was true of David is just as true of us.  Our life and afterlife ought to be shaped by the coming of the Lord.

I’ll organize my thoughts around two points: #1 You Are Anointed In Life To Reveal The Coming Of The Lord, and #2 You Are Appointed In The Afterlife To Revel In The Coming Of The Lord.

#1    You Are Anointed In Life
    To Reveal The Coming Of The Lord

Bible characters seem larger than life.  They seem like spiritual superheroes.  It can therefore be difficult to relate to them.

We need to get over our awe and see that God is working in and through us in just the same ways He did with them.  As proof I’d offer the statement in the Book of James that encourages Christians to pray because we are of like passions with none other than the prophet Elijah.

Hebrews chapter eleven would be another passage.  After mentioning some of those we definitely consider super-saints it says that the same faith was at work in tons of unnamed saints.

David is going to tell us that he was an ordinary guy.  In fact, he was sub-ordinary.  Nevertheless God used him in extraordinary ways.

2 Samuel 23:1  Now these are the last words of David. Thus says David the son of Jesse; Thus says the man raised up on high, The anointed of the God of Jacob, And the sweet psalmist of Israel:

By “last words” the author means that this was the last inspired psalm David wrote.  David wrote seventy-three of the one hundred fifty psalms in the Book of Psalms and he wrote others, like this one, that aren’t in the Psalms.
The house of Jesse was a lesser house, a humble house, among the Israelites.  You remember, too, that David was considered the least one in that house.  From those ordinary, humble origins he was “raised up on high.”

“Raised up” is one of those terms we use a lot in the church.  It means we look to see how God has gifted and is using someone then we recognize it.  It means God is promoting the person, not themselves or others.

It’s far too easy to promote yourself or to get others to do it for you.  Wait for the Lord to promote you.  Mean time enjoy your fellowship with Him right where you are.

David was “the anointed of the God of Jacob.”  This refers to his being chosen by God to be king over the nation of Israel, the twelve tribes who sprang forth from Jacob.

“Anointed” is another term we throw around in the church.  It means to smear or rub with oil.  In Bible times people were anointed with oil to signify either God’s blessing or His call upon their lives.  For example, prophets, priests, and kings were all anointed.  David’s anointing, or being chosen, by God was symbolized when the prophet Samuel poured oil over his head.

Objects were also anointed to signify they were set aside and dedicated for use by God.

Our connection to being anointed is that every believer is said to be anointed.

2 Corinthians 1:21  Now He who establishes us with you in Christ and has anointed us is God,

1 John 2:27  But the anointing which you have received from Him abides in you…

Those verses indicate that every believer is anointed.  That’s important because we sometimes use the word to describe someone that is super-spiritual.  We say things like, “That guy is really anointed,” as if we are not.
I understand that there are times God really uses someone in a special way.  But we need to grasp the concept that we all are anointed by God, having received the indwelling Holy Spirit.

Don’t perpetuate the myth of the super Christian.

David was “the sweet psalmist of Israel.”  Maybe this was a kind of stage name!  For example:

Who is “the piano man?”1
Who was “the man in black?”2
How about “the velvet fog?”3
The “Motor City madman?”4

What would your nickname be – based on your gifting and calling?

2 Samuel 23:2  “The Spirit of the Lord spoke by me, And His word was on my tongue.

This is a declaration of the inspiration of the Scriptures.  We believe in what is called verbal plenary inspiration.

Verbal means that every word of Scripture is God-given.  The idea is that every single word in the Bible is there because God wanted it there.
Plenary means that all parts of the Bible are equally authoritative.  This includes such things as the genealogies of the Old Testament.  All parts of the Bible are of divine origin. Jesus said, “But it is easier for heaven and earth to pass away than for one stroke of a letter of the Law to fail” (Luke 16:17).
Inspiration means God guided the process.  The idea behind the word inspiration is that God supernaturally guided the biblical authors to write the exact things that He wanted expressed.  The result is Holy Scripture.
A.W. Pink described inspiration by saying, “It is not simply that their minds were elevated or their spirits sublimated, but that their very tongues were regulated.”

2 Samuel 23:3  The God of Israel said, The Rock of Israel spoke to me: ‘He who rules over men must be just, Ruling in the fear of God.
2 Samuel 23:4  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.’

David seems to be talking both about his reign as king and about a future King who will reign.

Verse three is pretty much a job description that God gave to David.  By the way, notice how concise it is!  We don’t really require huge job descriptions for ministry.
Verse four seems a little more far-reaching.  His phrase, “the light of the morning when the sun rises,” is reminiscent of what the prophet Malachi said of the coming Messiah, that “the Sun of righteousness will arise with healing in His wings” (4:2).

David saw his service as king as a type, as an illustration, as a prefiguring, of Jesus’ coming to serve as King over the earth when He returns to establish the thousand year Kingdom of Heaven on the earth.

Take all that we’ve learned in these four verses and put them together and here is what you have.  Every ordinary, humble believer is raised-up and anointed by God to serve Him as a type, as an illustration, as a prefiguring, of Jesus Christ’s coming to rule over the earth.

You really are anointed in this life, as a believer, to reveal to others that the Lord is coming.  You’re to be revealing His coming all the time.  Even in things that you don’t normally associate with His coming.

For example.  In his teaching about the proper attitude with which to receive communion, the apostle Paul said that you “proclaim the Lord’s death till He comes” (1Corinthians 11:26).

At the end of the Book of the Revelation Jesus says three times, “I am coming quickly.”  Then we read that the church is to say “Come” and to declare this coming to others in our invitation for them to receive eternal life.

All you need to do is take seriously the imminent return of Jesus.  If you really believe He could return any moment, it must dramatically affect your life.

#2    You Are Appointed In The Afterlife
    To Revel In The Coming Of The Lord

Yogi Berra also said, “It’s tough to make predictions, especially about the future.”

That’s not true when it comes to your future, if you are a believer!

If you die before the Lord’s return to resurrect and rapture the church you will be absent from your body and immediately present in Heaven with the Lord.
At the Lord’s coming the dead in Christ will rise first and receive a glorified body.  Then we which are alive and remain shall be changed into our glorified bodies.
We will enjoy Heaven with Jesus while the earth endures the seven years of the Great Tribulation.
At the end of the seven years we will return to earth with Jesus in His Second Coming.
Jesus establishes a one thousand year kingdom on the earth and we will help Him to rule over it.
After the thousand years there will be new heavens and a new earth where we will live forever and ever in a perfect state in the mansions the Lord is busy preparing for us.

There’s an afterlife quality to David’s closing words.

2 Samuel 23:5  “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 23:6  But the sons of rebellion shall all be as thorns thrust away, Because they cannot be taken with hands.
2 Samuel 23:7  But the man who touches them Must be armed with iron and the shaft of a spear, And they shall be utterly burned with fire in their place.”

Let’s take verses six and seven first.  David saw the eternal punishment of those who in the end reject Jesus Christ as their Savior from sin.

What does he mean when he says “they cannot be taken with hands” “but the man who touches them must be armed with iron and the shaft of a spear” in order to cast them into the place they will burn?

It reminds me, using a slightly different illustration, of Jesus’ description of the judgment of sinners at His Second Coming.

In the Gospel of Matthew Jesus said,

Matthew 13:41  The Son of Man will send out His angels, and they will gather out of His kingdom all things that offend, and those who practice lawlessness,
Matthew 13:42  and will cast them into the furnace of fire. There will be wailing and gnashing of teeth.
Matthew 13:43  Then the righteous will shine forth as the sun in the kingdom of their Father. He who has ears to hear, let him hear!

In the Gospel of Luke John the Baptist described this using a different illustration.

Luke 3:17  His winnowing fan is in His hand, and He will thoroughly clean out His threshingfloor, and gather the wheat into His barn; but the chaff He will burn with unquenchable fire.

Unrepentant sinners have an appointment with Hell.  God is not willing that any should perish, but a person must come to Jesus to receive eternal life.

When you receive Christ, you are appointed to the afterlife I described a moment ago.
Look now at verse five.  Let’s read it again in the context we’ve just established.

2 Samuel 23:5  “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?

The first words, “although my house is not so with God,” are somewhat of a nightmare for translators.  They seem to mean that even though David’s life was blemished, God had established his “house” by an unconditional “everlasting covenant.”  God’s covenant was therefore “ordered in all things and secure.”  It did not depend upon David.

David could look back on his life and see it the way God did.  His life was all about God’s “salvation,” and despite David’s faults, God was his “desire.”

In the end David saw that God would “make it increase.”  Make what increase?  It seems to refer to his salvation.

How can a person’s salvation increase?  I think David had in mind that God would complete the work He had begun in David and that God would reward him for his service.

Salvation is a three-stage process:

First you are justified.  When you as an ungodly sinner simply believe on the Lord for your salvation, you are declared righteous and you are accepted by God just-as-if-you’d never sinned.  You are saved.
Second you are being sanctified.  Day-by-day God is working on you to make you righteous.  This is a work you can cooperate with or that you can hinder.
Third and finally you will be glorified when by death or at the rapture you receive your glorified body.

We are promised that God, Who has begun a good work in us, will in fact perform it and complete it.
We’re told that we will stand before the Judgement Seat of Jesus to be rewarded for those things we did from the right motives and in His Spirit.

In short, like David but with even more confidence, we can know that we have an appointment in the afterlife where we will “increase.”

We can look forward to that appointment with disappointment at missed opportunities and a life lived for self.
Or we can revel in it, knowing we have committed ourselves not just to the Lord but to serving Him, to surrendering to Him, to sacrificing for Him.

C.S. Lewis said, “The future is something which everyone reaches at the rate of 60 minutes an hour, whatever he does, whoever he is.”

God gives us each hour towards that inevitable future as a gift.  In those sixty-minute blocks we can cooperate with His sanctifying work or we can hinder it.

Once again my belief about the Lord’s coming is the key.  If I really believe He could return within the hour, I will do everything I can to cooperate with Him to be changed into His image.

If “the future ain’t what it used to be” for you because you are too busy living in the here-and-now, think about the hereafter and about looking into the beautiful face of the Lord Who saved you to set you free to serve Him.

I Write The Songs That Make The Whole Church Sing (2 Samuel 22v1-51)


In just a few days Captain America is going to be portrayed on the big screen.

You gotta love his shield.  It’s made from vibranium fused with an experimental iron alloy and an unknown catalyst.  It is virtually indestructible.

The vibranium in the shield grants it unusual properties, allowing it to absorb virtually all of the kinetic impact from any blows that the shield receives without injuring Captain America in the process.

The vibranium is also a factor in the way Captain America throws his shield: he often uses it to ricochet around a room and strike various opponents with little loss of velocity in its forward movement after each impact.

The shield was improved by industrialist Tony Stark by incorporating electronic and magnetic components in it so that Captain America can even control it in flight.
That’s all fictional… Maybe.  What is not fictional is the shield David describes in song in Second Samuel chapter twenty-two.  Three times he praises it, the third saying to God, “You have also given me the shield of your salvation” (v36).

This should excite you, if you are a believer, because you, too, are described as having a spiritual shield.  It’s the shield of faith you read about in Paul’s letter to the church in Ephesus.

Since we are fellow shield-bearers along with David, we can learn something about being behind God’s shield from David’s song.

I’ll organize my thoughts around two points: #1 You Are Safe Behind His Shield As God Does His Work On You, and #2 You Are Strong Behind His Shield As God Does His Work Through You.

#1    You Are Safe Behind His Shield
    As God Does His Work On You

Have you ever thought of your life as a musical?  It is!  In the New Testament we’re told to speak “to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord” (Ephesians 5:19).

This chapter is a song – a musical – David wrote.

2 Samuel 22:1  Then David spoke to the Lord the words of this song, on the day when the Lord had delivered him from the hand of all his enemies, and from the hand of Saul.

You’ll find it again, essentially the same, as Psalm eighteen.  David lets us know it was written towards the end of his reign as he looked back over God delivering him from “the hand of all his enemies, and from the hand of Saul.”

Since this chapter is a song it is going to be somewhat allegorical in its descriptions of things.  It’s going to be poetic.  It’s going to make fantastic comparisons.  To do it justice my comments ought to be more devotional than doctrinal – although they, like the song, are based on sound Bible doctrine.  In this case we are talking about sanctification, which has been defined as “the work of the Holy Spirit bringing the whole nature more and more under the influences of the new gracious principles implanted in the soul in regeneration.”  Sanctification is the process through which God changes you from glory-to-glory throughout your life to become more like Jesus.

Through this song David is illustrating for us what it is like to be behind God’s shield of faith while He is working on you and through you.  The first thing to note, in this first set of verses, is that God’s work on us makes a shield necessary but, behind it, we are kept safe – even though it doesn’t always seem that way.

2 Samuel 22:2  And he said: “The Lord is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer;
2 Samuel 22:3  The God of my strength, in whom I will trust; My shield and the horn of my salvation, My stronghold and my refuge; My Savior, You save me from violence.
2 Samuel 22:4  I will call upon the Lord, who is worthy to be praised; So shall I be saved from my enemies.

The fact you need a shield in the first place puts you on notice that there is real warfare going on around you.  Same thing with the references to “horn” and “stronghold.”  Those are things you need when there is “violence” against you from “enemies.”

You are safe behind the shield… But that doesn’t mean you are kept out of danger.

2 Samuel 22:5  “When the waves of death surrounded me, The floods of ungodliness made me afraid.
2 Samuel 22:6  The sorrows of Sheol surrounded me; The snares of death confronted me.

Think about the weight of these words for a moment.  These are heavy experiences that the Lord allowed in David’s life.  The next time someone tries to cliche his or her way through your suffering, hit them with the fact David was feeling overwhelmed.  He knew he was safe, but the experience of danger was real nonetheless.

The Lord doesn’t keep you from the warfare; He takes you through it, to work on you.  His work on you may seem extreme at times because it is extreme at times.

2 Samuel 22:7  In my distress I called upon the Lord, And cried out to my God; He heard my voice from His temple, And my cry entered His ears.

God to the rescue – but not until after you could call the trial a “distress,” and not until after the “call” became a “cry.”

You are safe behind the shield – spiritually safe.  But you will be buffeted.  You will be afflicted.  You will suffer.

2 Samuel 22:8  “Then the earth shook and trembled; The foundations of heaven quaked and were shaken, Because He was angry.
2 Samuel 22:9  Smoke went up from His nostrils, And devouring fire from His mouth; Coals were kindled by it.
2 Samuel 22:10  He bowed the heavens also, and came down With darkness under His feet.
2 Samuel 22:11  He rode upon a cherub, and flew; And He was seen upon the wings of the wind.
2 Samuel 22:12  He made darkness canopies around Him, Dark waters and thick clouds of the skies.
2 Samuel 22:13  From the brightness before Him Coals of fire were kindled.
2 Samuel 22:14  “The Lord thundered from heaven, And the Most High uttered His voice.
2 Samuel 22:15  He sent out arrows and scattered them; Lightning bolts, and He vanquished them.
2 Samuel 22:16  Then the channels of the sea were seen, The foundations of the world were uncovered, At the rebuke of the Lord, At the blast of the breath of His nostrils.

In every circumstance, whether it was facing Goliath or Saul or Absalom or the Philistines, this is how David saw God as He delivered him from his trouble.  It was ‘as if’ these things actually happened – that is how powerful God’s deliverance was when it came.  Safe behind the shield of salvation, though buffeted, God came through as He took David through it all.

2 Samuel 22:17  “He sent from above, He took me, He drew me out of many waters.
2 Samuel 22:18  He delivered me from my strong enemy, From those who hated me; For they were too strong for me.
2 Samuel 22:19  They confronted me in the day of my calamity, But the Lord was my support.

God didn’t keep David from “many waters.”  He plucked him out from them – seemingly at the last minute.  He was in a “day of… calamity,” overwhelmed by “strong enem[ies].”  The Lord supported him and then delivered him.

Your shield, the shield of salvation, will not shatter, but it is sure going to be battered.

The next verses, twenty through twenty-five, are perhaps the greatest challenge for us in this song.  We immediately object to David singing them.  Listen and you’ll understand what I mean.

2 Samuel 22:20  He also brought me out into a broad place; He delivered me because He delighted in me.
2 Samuel 22:21  “The Lord rewarded me according to my righteousness; According to the cleanness of my hands He has recompensed me.
2 Samuel 22:22  For I have kept the ways of the Lord, And have not wickedly departed from my God.
2 Samuel 22:23  For all His judgments were before me; And as for His statutes, I did not depart from them.
2 Samuel 22:24  I was also blameless before Him, And I kept myself from my iniquity.
2 Samuel 22:25  Therefore the Lord has recompensed me according to my righteousness, According to my cleanness in His eyes.

Some of the commentators insist that David wrote this song, this psalm, before his sins of adultery and murder.  After all, they reason, how could he say such things after he sinned?  Would it not be the height of arrogance?

No, not arrogance; not at all.  It was the height of grace – the grace of God.

We should never sin thinking grace will cover it.  But when we sin – and we will – grace does cover it!

When you sin, if you will confess it, repent from it, God will bring you “out into a broad place,” restoring you “because He delight[s] in you.”  He sets you right back upon the path of “righteousness” and all the things you read in these verses are just as true of you as they were of David.

2 Samuel 22:26  “With the merciful You will show Yourself merciful; With a blameless man You will show Yourself blameless;
2 Samuel 22:27  With the pure You will show Yourself pure; And with the devious You will show Yourself shrewd.
2 Samuel 22:28  You will save the humble people; But Your eyes are on the haughty, that You may bring them down.

These last verses contrast God’s dealings with believers versus nonbelievers.

If you are among the “humble,” the believers, you are being worked on every day to see God more clearly – His nature, His attributes, His character.
If you are among the “haughty,” a nonbeliever, God is working on you, too, “shrewd[ly]” seeking to save you lest, in the end, He must “bring [you] down.”

God is working on you.  He has promised, in the New Testament, to complete the work He has begun.  He will change you daily, from moment-to-moment, to become more like Jesus.  We’d like it better if He did it solely through instruction, as we read and study His Word.  But His laboratory is life and its afflictions and sufferings.  We should submit to it, not thinking our trials are anything strange.  We can know that we are safe behind His shield of salvation.

#2    You Are Strong Behind His Shield
    As God Does His Work Through You

The shield is not just for defending against our enemies.  It affords us the ability to move forward, to gain ground, even as the battle is raging.  In these remaining verses David praises what God did through him.

2 Samuel 22:29  “For You are my lamp, O Lord; The Lord shall enlighten my darkness.
2 Samuel 22:30  For by You I can run against a troop; By my God I can leap over a wall.

This speaks of a pursuit, at night, over and through many obstacles.  If you find yourself in a dark place with hindrances in your path, from behind your shield you can see clearly and overcome all obstacles in your way.

2 Samuel 22:31  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 22:32  “For who is God, except the Lord? And who is a rock, except our God?
2 Samuel 22:33  God is my strength and power, And He makes my way perfect.

“The word of the Lord is proven.”  Was He not a shield to all those who have come before us, whose stories we have recorded for us?  Can you not say God was a “rock,” “strength and power” to each of them?  Did He not work on them and through them to “make [their] way perfect?”

Think of any of them – Job, Abraham, Moses, Joshua.  Read Hebrews eleven, the famous “hall of faith.”  God is doing the same work on and through you.

2 Samuel 22:34  He makes my feet like the feet of deer, And sets me on my high places.

You may think that your footing is treacherous, but in the Lord your balance is strong.

2 Samuel 22:35  He teaches my hands to make war, So that my arms can bend a bow of bronze.

In the original Karate Kid Daniel Larusso tells his mom that he needs to learn “real karate,” not the kind you get at the YMCA after school.  Just so, as a Christian you need to be learning “real” Christianity and that involves
actual warfare.  Through it you are strengthened.  It’s like bending a “bow of bronze” as you are supplied by the Spirit of God to overcome by faith.

Suffering, in some form or another, is not the exception for the believer, it is the norm.  Commenting on trends in the modern church one author wrote,

At some point during the last quarter century it became all-too-common to stop proclaiming a gospel directed at people’s real spiritual needs and instead focus on the wants and desires of potential church goers.  More than mirroring the first century church, this conduct reflects the way Starbucks markets overpriced coffee to potential consumers.

Suffering is the rule, not the exception.

2 Samuel 22:36  “You have also given me the shield of Your salvation; Your gentleness has made me great.

David was looking back over his life.  He could see his mistreatment by his family… his sheep being attacked by lions and bears… the defiance of Goliath while Israel trembled… his more than a decade of persecution from Saul… his living in caves as a fugitive… his fall into sin… the rebellion of his own son, Absalom.  He called all this “gentleness” on the part of God; or we might say that he saw God as being “gentle” with him in each circumstance.  Wow!

2 Samuel 22:37  You enlarged my path under me; So my feet did not slip.

This verse reminds me of those cartoons where the hero gets cornered then draws an escape route!

Verses thirty-eight through forty-six extol the extent of David’s victories.

2 Samuel 22:38  “I have pursued my enemies and destroyed them; Neither did I turn back again till they were destroyed.
2 Samuel 22:39  And I have destroyed them and wounded them, So that they could not rise; They have fallen under my feet.
2 Samuel 22:40  For You have armed me with strength for the battle; You have subdued under me those who rose against me.
2 Samuel 22:41  You have also given me the necks of my enemies, So that I destroyed those who hated me.
2 Samuel 22:42  They looked, but there was none to save; Even to the Lord, but He did not answer them.
2 Samuel 22:43  Then I beat them as fine as the dust of the earth; I trod them like dirt in the streets, And I spread them out.
2 Samuel 22:44  “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 22:45  The foreigners submit to me; As soon as they hear, they obey me.
2 Samuel 22:46  The foreigners fade away, And come frightened from their hideouts.

You may not feel this way now, in the midst of your life and its troubles and the trouble to come.  Still, your most vicious enemies are already vanquished and your foot is on their necks.

Sin was vanquished on the Cross of Jesus Christ as the Lord paid its penalty and bore its punishment for you.  One day you will be free from its very presence but, for now, you can walk in victory.
Death was vanquished on the Cross of Jesus Christ as the Lord died for the sins of the world but then rose from the dead to offer life to whosoever will believe in Him.

With sin and death out of the way, the rest is a cake walk!

2 Samuel 22:47  “The Lord lives! Blessed be my Rock! Let God be exalted, The Rock of my salvation!
2 Samuel 22:48  It is God who avenges me, And subdues the peoples under me;
2 Samuel 22:49  He delivers me from my enemies. You also lift me up above those who rise against me; You have delivered me from the violent man.

David enjoyed moments of victory and, looking back, those moments were all he could see.  He didn’t minimize the warfare or the danger, but through it all he understood God was not just working on him but through him, strengthening him for the journey.

2 Samuel 22:50  Therefore I will give thanks to You, O Lord, among the Gentiles, And sing praises to Your name.
2 Samuel 22:51  “He is the tower of salvation to His king, And shows mercy to His anointed, To David and his descendants forevermore.”

God “shows mercy” to you.  Always.  Sometimes, however, it is what C.S. Lewis called “severe mercy.”  God’s work of salvation is the expression of a love so severe that it would allow me to lose everything, yet so merciful that I am able to gain Christ in return.

Severe mercies dot the landscape of all God’s saints.  I earlier mentioned Job and Abraham and Moses and Joshua; and all those in Hebrews eleven who have preceded us.  At one point or another, in some way or another, they each experienced the love of God so severely as to lose everything yet His mercy in gaining Christ in return.
Job put it best when he declared, “though He slay me, yet will I trust Him…” (13:15).

God’s love for you is not an indulgent, pampering love that leaves you to yourself.  It is a jealous love that removes everything else that would compete for His affection in your heart.  It is a love that refines you and changes you rather than leaving you as you are.

Each episode, every circumstance, in your life has been designed to strip away what is temporal to replace it with something eternal.

When it seems you are being buffeted; when trials are all around you; when the suffering seems too much to bear.  It is then you should picture yourself behind the shield of God’s salvation, remembering that His work is really gentle and bringing you to a desired end.  He’s already given you the greatest victories – you are saved for eternity, can overcome sin, and have nothing to fear from death.

The rest – what we call living – is just filling your heart with the wonder of His love.

Your life IS God’s musical.  Listen to your heart for a moment.  What songs are you singing?

Effacing The Giants (2 Samuel 21v15-22)


The fainting spell of Marie Osmond on Dancing with the Stars (season 5) took the show by surprise.  One minute she was smiling at the judges’  table, and the next minute she fainted and was on the floor.

King David was involved in a more serious situation when we read in our text that he “grew faint.”  He was engaged in hand-to-hand combat with a Philistine giant.  His life was in peril.  One of David’s men, Abishai, came to his aid and struck down the giant.

David’s near fainting spell can serve to remind us as believers in Jesus Christ that there is a kind of spiritual fainting that occurs.  We’re told, for example, in Galatians 6:9, “And let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not.”

Spiritual fainting is also referred to in the KJV translation of Second Corinthians 4:16, Ephesians 3:13, and Hebrews 12:3 & 5.

While we are told to not faint, it is assumed we will fight to the point of growing faint.  In other words, the way to avoid fainting is not by avoiding fighting (or we might say, serving).  No, truth is if we are really in the fight, really pressing forward, there will be times in which, like David, we grow faint.  Or, if it isn’t you fainting, someone in your vicinity is.  You might be the one who is available to come to the aid of a fainting fellow believer.

I’ll organize my thoughts around two points: #1 You’re In A Fight That Will Lead To Fainting, and #2 Take Up The Fight For Those Who Are Fainting.

#1    You’re In A Fight That Will Lead To Fainting

The great Baptist preacher, Charles Spurgeon, has a chapter in his book, Lectures to My Students, that is titled, “The Minister’s Fainting Fits.”  Listen to his description of fainting.

Usually cheerful as we may be, we must at intervals be cast down. The strong are not always vigorous, the wise not always ready, the brave not always courageous, and the joyous not always happy… the children of light sometimes walk in the thick darkness… the heralds of the daybreak find themselves at times in tenfold night.

Spurgeon called fainting “depression.”  I would rather use the term “discouragement” because of all the psycho-babble that surrounds the modern use of the term “depression.”

Call it what you will, it seems that it is the common lot of Christians who are busy serving the Lord, who are engaged in the fight, to grow weary in their well-doing and come to the point of fainting.

The man after God’s own heart, David, “grew faint.”

2 Samuel 21:15  When the Philistines were at war again with Israel, David and his servants with him went down and fought against the Philistines; and David grew faint.

You could always count on one thing in Israel, and it was that the Philistines were going to want to fight you.  They “were at war again,” and you might just say, “still.”  When Israel wasn’t fighting them they were planning on fighting them.

It’s a reminder, is it not, that we as believers in Jesus Christ are engaged in one long campaign against fierce foes that will last until we see the Lord face-to-face.  The world, the flesh, and the devil keep coming at us, and in new and unusual combinations.  Until you wake up in Heaven you are not going to wake up to a day in which the world isn’t against you, or your flesh isn’t making its demands to be sinfully satisfied, or the devil has decided to leave you alone.

“David and his servants with him…”  In David’s case these “servants” were other fighting men – mighty men, warriors who had been tested in battle.  We’ll have more to say in a moment about having other battle-tested believers around us to take up the fight when we grow faint.  But even without them, we have ‘servants’ to stand with us in the fight.

The Word of God can serve us in the fight.  It’s our sword in this analogy.  When the devil came against Jesus in the wilderness the Lord relied upon the Word of God to serve Him in the exchange.
The Spirit of God is a servant to us.  Jesus promised each believer that He would send to be within us “another Comforter.”  We might think of ‘comfort’ as something to soothe the weak after they’ve been defeated, but ‘comfort’ is a word that denotes strength.  The indwelling Holy Spirit comforts us by reminding us we are seated in Heaven with the Lord and have access to every spiritual blessing His death and resurrection have provided us.
We don’t mention it often, but there is indication in the Bible that powerful angels are involved in our lives.  Elijah’s servant, for example, had his eyes temporarily opened to the world all around us and saw armies of angels protecting he and his master.

Even without the intervention of other warriors we are never without servants!

“David… went down…”  He took the fight to his enemies.  He didn’t wait around for them to be strengthened.  He wasn’t willing to yield any ground to them.

“David… fought against the Philistines.”  In the New Testament the apostle Paul exhorted young Timothy to “fight the good fight of faith” (1Timothy 6:12).  At the end of his own life Paul could say,

2 Timothy 4:7  I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith:

Are you in the fight?

Are you more separated from the world today than you were yesterday; or is the world creeping in past your defenses?
Are you hacking away at the flesh or are you indulging its lusts?

Inevitably there comes a time when you will grow faint in the battle.  David did.

There are any number of reasons why you might grow faint.  For example in the passage in Galatians, where you’re told to not grow weary in your well doing, the issue is sowing and reaping.  If you sow spiritual things you will reap a spiritual harvest but it takes time for the results to appear.  It’s the waiting, the trusting by faith, that can lead to fainting.

Looking at David’s situation, here are two more reasons we grow faint

First we might note that the fight went on-and-on, year-after-year, with no end in sight.  Every time you defeated the Philistines they regrouped and returned.  Every time you felled one of their giants, they sent another to replace him.

It can seem like we’re not gaining any ground in the fight.  Maybe that’s true but it’s something to not lose ground also; to defend what we have gained and to repel the attacks against it.

Or, similarly, it seems that our ‘fight’ is something so mundane, so repetitive, as to render our life somewhat dull.  Day-after-day it’s the same old same old.  It doesn’t seem like we’re in the fight at all.  We can get discouraged and want something different, something we think we might even deserve, when, in fact, this is the fight God has definitely called us to wage and win.

You see, I’m not talking just about, or even primarily about, serving the Lord in some ministry in the church.  I’m talking about serving Him at home, at work, at school, in your everyday life.  Being a godly husband and father, wife and mother, or employee – that’s where the battle can seem so endless that you grow faint looking down the corridors of time.

A second reason David grew faint might have a physical connection.  It is suggested by commentators that David was too old to fight.  While that is possibly true, the text doesn’t really blame David’s age.  It doesn’t say that he was old and should have stayed behind.  It’s an assumption, probably a good one, but not a certainty.

Let’s say for the sake of argument that David’s fainting had to do with his advancing age.  Most of us as we age are going to be touched by some physical infirmities.  Some of us worse than others.  It is the human condition.

Nothing can contribute to fainting more rapidly than a serious or chronic infirmity.  It takes an emotional toll getting up everyday knowing your own body is going to fight you.  It doesn’t seem as though you can even get in the ‘real’ fight anymore.

Infirmities of this nature will continue to be a source of our growing faint.  It cannot be helped.  Even those who remain more or less healthy still age and your body will let you know it.

The Bible wouldn’t tell you to not faint unless it was something you were prone to.  It doesn’t tell you in order to defeat you, but to remind you we are in a serious struggle against powerful foes.

Have you grown faint?  It is because you have been in the fight, wielding the sword of the Spirit, holding up your shield of faith, gaining or at least holding ground against the world and hacking away at the flesh.  The devil keeps looming as a giant who refuses to concede defeat but you stand against him anyway.

Be encouraged that you are in good company.  David grew faint as he fought.  Many of the men in the Bible grew faint only to be strengthened to not quit but go on fighting, go on serving.  So can you be!

#2    Take Up The Fight For Those Who Are Fainting

David once faced and felled a giant alone.  Well, not alone because it was in the Lord that he defeated Goliath.  But he was by himself as to other warriors.

God who strengthened him as a teenager to fight alone could easily have strengthened him as a senior citizen to fight alone.  God instead chose to deliver David another way.

In our story David was part of a fighting force.  There were others like him. God can provide, and probably has provided, other Christians to stand with you in your fight.

2 Samuel 21:16  Then Ishbi-Benob, who was one of the sons of the giant, the weight of whose bronze spear was three hundred shekels, who was bearing a new sword, thought he could kill David.

The phrase that keeps repeating in these verses, “the sons of the giant,” can be translated, “the sons of the Rephaim.”  Let me read to you this entry from a Bible encyclopedia.

[The Rephaim were] a race of aboriginal or early inhabitants East of the Jordan in Ashteroth Karnaim (Genesis 14:5) and in the valley of Rephaim Southwest of Jerusalem (Joshua 15:8).  They were the aborigines of Palestine, afterwards conquered and dispossessed by the Canaanite tribes, are classed under this general title. They were known to the Moabites as Emim (Deuteronomy 2:11), and to the Ammorites as Zamzummim.  Some of them found refuge among the Philistines, and were still existing in the days of David. We know nothing of their origin. They were not necessarily connected with the “giants” (R.V., “Nephilim”) of Genesis 6:4.
A couple of things about Ishbi-Benob:

One, “he was bearing a new sword.”  Now the original language doesn’t specify it was a “sword.”  It only indicates he had some new weapon.  The world, the flesh, and the devil will come against you with their massive “bronze spear,” things you’ve seen before, but also with new weapons you may not be ready for.  Stay on your guard.
Two, the text says he “thought he could kill David.”  He couldn’t!  He was already defeated.  Our foes are already defeated, at the Cross of Jesus, but they are relentless.

2 Samuel 21:17  But Abishai the son of Zeruiah came to his aid, and struck the Philistine and killed him. Then the men of David swore to him, saying, “You shall go out no more with us to battle, lest you quench the lamp of Israel.”

Abishai was right there, ready and willing to defend his king and defeat the giant.

There can be times when you are in the battle alone.  Man, can those cause you to grow faint!  In those times think of David versus Goliath.

The encouragement here is to be surrounded by other warriors who can come alongside you in the fight.

By the way, on a personal note, I’m pretty excited about what the Lord has done and is doing in our fellowship along these lines.  Let’s say David was old.  God raised-up younger men to come alongside.  The Lord has done that here.  And, not only that, the younger men are raising up even younger men!

David’s men decided it was time he put full attention to his role as king and leave the giant-killing to them.  It freed David, not to retire, but to immerse himself in his other role.  There’s no retirement in serving the Lord and, in a sense, you take on more responsibility, not less, as you grow.

David’s men were faithful as evidenced by the rest of the chapter.

2 Samuel 21:18  Now it happened afterward that there was again a battle with the Philistines at Gob. Then Sibbechai the Hushathite killed Saph, who was one of the sons of the giant.

The Philistines just wouldn’t stop coming.  They had a new giant.  David had a new hero.

You know something?  You can be a hero or heroine.  The Bible is the record of ordinary people empowered to do extraordinary things for God.

2 Samuel 21:19  Again there was war at Gob with the Philistines, where Elhanan the son of Jaare-Oregim the Bethlehemite killed the brother of Goliath the Gittite, the shaft of whose spear was like a weaver’s beam.

This may seem repetitive to us, almost ho-hum, but these were real exchanges in which your life was on the line.  The giant was going to fall but you still needed to fight.  His spear was going to whistle past you but you still had to dodge or be impaled.

2 Samuel 21:20  Yet again there was war at Gath, where there was a man of great stature, who had six fingers on each hand and six toes on each foot, twenty-four in number; and he also was born to the giant.
2 Samuel 21:21  So when he defied Israel, Jonathan the son of Shimea, David’s brother, killed him.

An even bigger, weirder giant faced off against David’s men.  Same result.

2 Samuel 21:22  These four were born to the giant in Gath, and fell by the hand of David and by the hand of his servants.

Interesting.  David didn’t kill any of them but is credited with the kills along with his fighting men.

One lesson to learn is that we are at our best when we don’t care who gets credit for our serving.  In fact, a lot of spiritual fainting occurs because I feel overlooked or don’t get the attention or credit I think I deserve.

Spiritual fainting sneaks up on you.  It is common to us all.  You wouldn’t be encouraged to not faint if it wasn’t common.
If there is no one to help you, rather than grow even more discouraged see your trouble as a Goliath and know that the Lord’s strength is sufficient for you.
If you see others fainting, come alongside of them.  Stand with them.  Fight with them or for them.  Don’t assume that Goliath is their foe to tackle alone but rather that it is his brother whom you are called upon to fell.

Together we can face and fell the giants.

O Brother, Where Depart Thou? (2 Samuel 21v1-14)


The Great Irish Potato Famine was a period of mass starvation and disease between 1845 and 1852.  Approximately one million people died and at least a million more emigrated from Ireland causing the island’s population to fall by as much as 25%.

The blight can be attributed a tiny, hidden spore that almost instantly destroyed Ireland’s potato crops.

In our text in Second Samuel the nation of Israel was experiencing a severe famine.  In its third year King David inquired of the Lord as to its cause.  It wasn’t a spore; it was something spiritual.  It was sin – sin that had been hidden, pushed aside, ignored.

Once David dealt with the sin the nation was restored to both spiritual and physical health.

We learn in this story that we can experience spiritual famine in our lives.  It can result from any number of things, with unconfessed sin topping the list.   If we will deal with the cause then we can be restored to full health and vigor in serving the Lord.

I’ll organize my thoughts around two points: #1 Talk To The Lord About The Cause Of Your Famine, and #2 Work With The Lord Applying The Cure For Your Famine.

#1    Talk To The Lord About
The Cause Of Your Famine

Are you experiencing a lack of fruitfulness or blessing in your walk with the Lord?  Does it seem as though things are being withheld from you, even though outwardly you are busy serving the Lord?

It could be a trial to encourage you to seek the Lord.  One of the psalms describes times like that by comparing them to a deer panting after the watering brook.  It’s a beautiful devotional insight that encourages us to go on seeking the Lord with all our heart, mind, soul, and strength.

But it could also be a famine brought about by some hidden thing, some neglected thing, some unconfessed sin.

How can you know which it is?  Talk to the Lord the way David did.

2 Samuel 21:1  Now there was a famine in the days of David for three years, year after year; and David inquired of the Lord. And the Lord answered, “It is because of Saul and his bloodthirsty house, because he killed the Gibeonites.”

The last chapters of Second Samuel are probably out of order chronologically.  They are like an addendum that gives us additional information about David’s reign.  We’re not sure, therefore, exactly when this famine occurred – whether it was early or later in David’s reign.  It was probably earlier.

It wasn’t until the third year of the famine that David considered that the cause might be spiritual.  Rather than criticize his sluggishness we should recognize that we, too, are capable of overlooking the fact there may be a cause, a reason, why our spiritual lives seem to be hindered.  In fact we have a strange tendency to settle for less in our walk with the Lord.  We like to be comfortable, to have everything scheduled and under control.

If there’s one thing you can glean from studying the ministry of Jesus and, later, His followers, it’s that you should expect the unexpected to be the norm.

The important thing is that God is willing and waiting to reveal to us the condition of our hearts if we will seek Him.  He can tell us if we are famished panters after the watering brook, or if we are in the midst of a famine of our own making.

The famine in Israel was the result of King Saul’s cruel dealings with the Gibeonites.  Their story is recorded in the Book of Joshua.  Some 400 years earlier they had deceived Joshua into letting them live during the conquest of the Promised Land.  Joshua swore an oath to them and, even though for their part they lied, the Israelites were bound to the oath.  The Gibeonites became their servants but were to be treated kindly.

2 Samuel 21:2  So the king called the Gibeonites and spoke to them. Now the Gibeonites were not of the children of Israel, but of the remnant of the Amorites; the children of Israel had sworn protection to them, but Saul had sought to kill them in his zeal for the children of Israel and Judah.

During his reign Saul killed Gibeonites to appropriate and redistribute their land and wealth.  Saul ought to have been killing Philistines or Amalekites.  He abandoned his mission and it created a void that he ended up filling with something that was counterproductive.

As we seek to serve the Lord, He has His missions for us, His assignments.  If we shy away from them it will create a void and we risk filling it with things that are not just insignificant but actually counterproductive.

Sometimes I see Christians, for example, establishing some ministry that is already being done.  I want to say to them, “Aren’t there some Philistines you can kill instead?  Aren’t you supposed to be hot on the trail of the Amalekites?”

God had waited patiently for David to rectify the situation but he had done nothing and, so, a famine came upon the land.

Since they were the ones who had been wronged, David went to the Gibeonites to ask what it would take to right the wrong.

2 Samuel 21:3  Therefore David said to the Gibeonites, “What shall I do for you? And with what shall I make atonement, that you may bless the inheritance of the Lord?”
2 Samuel 21:4  And the Gibeonites said to him, “We will have no silver or gold from Saul or from his house, nor shall you kill any man in Israel for us.” So he said, “Whatever you say, I will do for you.”

After Joshua realized he had been deceived by the Gibeonites he kept his oath to them but he made them servants in Israel, specifically woodcutters and water bearers for the Tabernacle.  Take notice of the fact that the Gibeonites did not ask for their freedom.  They were content to go on serving in Israel.

Neither did they want to profit, or to have revenge.  No, as we see in the next verse, they only wanted justice which would relieve the famine for everyone in Israel.  After many centuries they remained selfless servants.

2 Samuel 21:5  Then they answered the king, “As for the man who consumed us and plotted against us, that we should be destroyed from remaining in any of the territories of Israel,
2 Samuel 21:6  let seven men of his descendants be delivered to us, and we will hang them before the Lord in Gibeah of Saul, whom the Lord chose.” And the king said, “I will give them.”

On the surface this seems a little arbitrary.  I don’t think, however, that they were saying to pick just any seven guys from the descendants of Saul.  These were undoubtedly individuals who had profited from the persecution and the killing of Gibeonites, sons who had participated with Saul in his plans against them and who had profited thereby.

2 Samuel 21:7  But the king spared Mephibosheth the son of Jonathan, the son of Saul, because of the Lord’s oath that was between them, between David and Jonathan the son of Saul.

The writer of Second Samuel includes this detail because his readers would naturally wonder how this affected David’s dealings with Mephibosheth.  Whether the household of Mephibosheth had profited or not David spared him on account of his own oath to Jonathan.

These oaths in the Old Testament were taken pretty seriously.  God held you to them.  If you swore something, you swore to your own hurt (Psalm 15:4) – meaning you were obligated to keep your oath no matter the cost.

In making application of these things to our own lives in terms of what causes famine we might start with things we’ve said we are going to do.  Commitments we’ve made – especially to serve the Lord.  The fact we are under grace and not law doesn’t mean that our words, our promises, carry less weight.  On the contrary, our “Yes” should mean “Yes.”

Is there some commitment you made to the Lord that you have left unfulfilled?  Or perhaps you are serving the Lord as promised but you’re not really doing it faithfully; you’re just phoning it in, doing the minimum, just getting by.

If you’re experiencing a famine it could be what I’ve just mentioned or it might be some other hidden ‘spore’ that has crept into your life.

A habit that you’ve adopted that declares your independence from the Lord in some area of your life.
A hobby that has become a little too consuming of your time.

Or maybe you are giving a place in your heart to anger or bitterness or unforgiveness or lust or covetousness.

Then, too, it could be unconfessed sin.

All these (and more) are the spiritual ‘spores’ that will bring famine.

The point is to talk with the Lord about it.  Find out from Him if you are the deer panting after the watering brook, if you are famished in a good way, or if this is a time of famine that can be alleviated.

#2    Work With The Lord Applying
The Cure For Your Famine

David kept his word to the Gibeonites.

2 Samuel 21:8  So the king took Armoni and Mephibosheth, the two sons of Rizpah the daughter of Aiah, whom she bore to Saul, and the five sons of Michal the daughter of Saul, whom she brought up for Adriel the son of Barzillai the Meholathite;
2 Samuel 21:9  and he delivered them into the hands of the Gibeonites, and they hanged them on the hill before the Lord. So they fell, all seven together, and were put to death in the days of harvest, in the first days, in the beginning of barley harvest.

Rizpah was Saul’s concubine.  Michal was his daughter and had at one time been David’s wife.  Their sons who had (we think) been complicit with their father in spoiling the Gibeonites were delivered over for judgment.

In those days executions were public events and the bodies were left on display for a time as a deterrent.  This was a legal, proper exercise of capital punishment under the laws of Israel.

2 Samuel 21:10  Now Rizpah the daughter of Aiah took sackcloth and spread it for herself on the rock, from the beginning of harvest until the late rains poured on them from heaven. And she did not allow the birds of the air to rest on them by day nor the beasts of the field by night.

Rizpah’s boys had, by their sin, brought drought and death upon Israel.  Now everyone could see it for themselves as they hung there dead and decaying.  What was hidden had been revealed for what it really was.

Apparently Rizpah, in her grief, refused to take them down and bury them.  Instead she did what she could to ‘protect’ them from the birds and the beasts.

Her motives for acting this way are not revealed in the text.  We can say regarding her behavior that she was unwilling to face the truth of the situation and move on.

That may sound a little harsh since, after all, she was their mother.  Nevertheless it did no one any good to try to preserve her sons’ dead, decaying bodies.  Bury them and move on.

One application for us would be that, when the Lord does show you a cause for your famine, see that it is put to death, then bury it and move on.  Don’t mourn for it and try to protect it or preserve it.  Don’t keep returning to it.

2 Samuel 21:11  And David was told what Rizpah the daughter of Aiah, the concubine of Saul, had done.
2 Samuel 21:12  Then David went and took the bones of Saul, and the bones of Jonathan his son, from the men of Jabesh Gilead who had stolen them from the street of Beth Shan, where the Philistines had hung them up, after the Philistines had struck down Saul in Gilboa.
2 Samuel 21:13  So he brought up the bones of Saul and the bones of Jonathan his son from there; and they gathered the bones of those who had been hanged.
2 Samuel 21:14  They buried the bones of Saul and Jonathan his son in the country of Benjamin in Zelah, in the tomb of Kish his father. So they performed all that the king commanded. And after that God heeded the prayer for the land.

When Saul and Jonathan fell in battle against the Philistines their enemies had shamefully displayed their bodies.  The men of Jabesh Gilead risked their lives to retrieve the remains.  Up until this point the remains were interred far from Saul’s inheritance.

David determined to gather the remains of Saul and Jonathan and these recently executed sons and give them a proper burial in their ancestral tomb.

“After that,” the famine ended.  In other words, it wasn’t just the execution of these boys that was required.  There was other unfinished business that was suggested by their deaths.  Once they were dead, David could see clearly what further steps needed to be taken.  Israel had neglected to properly bury Saul and Jonathan.
Is there anything God has shown you that is left undone?

God wants to lift any famine that might be in your life, or in the life of our church as a whole.  He didn’t save us to starve us but, rather, to feed us and to fill us.

Let’s talk to Him and then work with Him when He shows us what needs to be altered, attended to, or repented of.

“After that” He will “heed the prayer[s]” we offer.  He will grant the harvest and the late rains we so desperately need in order to produce His fruit.

Let’s close with an appropriate promise from Isaiah:

Isaiah 58:11  The Lord will guide you continually, And satisfy your soul in drought, And strengthen your bones; You shall be like a watered garden, And like a spring of water, whose waters do not fail.

Happy Entrails To You (2 Samuel 20v1-26)


The Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) has been rating movies since 1968.  In 1990 the Rating Board began adding brief explanations of why a particular film receives its rating.  Usually these explanations are generic and are overlooked by moviegoers but once in a while the language used can be more entertaining than the movie itself.

Here are some examples:

Rated R for zombie violence/gore and language (Shaun of the Dead)
Rated R for demented mayhem and torture (The Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Next Generation)
Rated R for grisly afterviews of horrific and bizarre killings (Seven)
Rated R for an abundance of outrageous gore (Dead Alive)
Rated R for graphic violence including scenes of dental torture (The Dentist)

Our text in Second Samuel would certainly carry an R-rating and the explanation would most likely read, “Rated R for disembowelment, wallowing in blood, and a beheading.”

It’s a violent episode in which David deals decisively with a rebel, an Israelite named Sheba, by sending his elite troops to put him to death.

What can we glean from the story devotionally?  We who are believers in Jesus Christ are commanded to put something to death, to kill something.  We are told in very graphic language to kill sin, to put sin to death.

One passage in which we find this is Colossians 3:5.

Colossians 3:5  Therefore put to death your members which are on the earth: fornication, uncleanness, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry.

You’re encouraged to kill sin, too, in Romans 8:13.

Romans 8:13  For if you live according to the flesh you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live.

Commenting on this, one Bible teacher said,

There is a mean streak in the Christian life.  There is a violence.  There is a militancy… It is a violence against the “flesh” or against “the deeds of the body” – our [own] flesh and our [own] body.

The flesh is what we are when rebellion against God and insubordination and hostility to God rule our bodies and our minds.  So the way you put to death “the deeds of the body” is to strangle the air that sinful deeds breathe.  Strangle the flesh.  Cut the lifeline.  Pinch the air pipe.  Stop the blood flow.  Sinful deeds must be killed before they happen… (John Piper).

The brutal story in Second Samuel chapter twenty give us an opportunity to discuss how we, as believers in the Lord, Jesus Christ, can put to death and kill sin.

I’ll organize my thoughts around two questions: #1 Are You Experiencing Setbacks In Killing Sin?, or #2 Are You Expecting Success In Killing Sin?

#1    Are You Experiencing Setbacks
In Killing Sin?

The ten tribes of Israel were offended when the men of Judea took a prominent role in returning David to his throne after the conflict with Absalom ended.  One man determined to lead them in a rebellion.

2 Samuel 20:1  And there happened to be there a rebel, whose name was Sheba the son of Bichri, a Benjamite. And he blew a trumpet, and said: “We have no share in David, Nor do we have inheritance in the son of Jesse; Every man to his tents, O Israel!”

Your Bible might read, “a son of Belial,” instead of “a rebel.”  According to the Holman Bible Dictionary,

[The] KJV interprets it as a proper name sixteen times, but modern translations translate it as a common noun, “worthless” or “wicked…”  In Nahum 1:15… Belial appears to be the name of some specific malevolent power.  In the New Testament the word occurs one time (Second Corinthians 6:15).  There Paul the apostle declared the mutual irreconcilability of Christ and Belial, who thus appears to be equated with Satan.

We trace sin back to the Garden of Eden where Satan tempted Adam and Eve to rebel against God’s authority and act independently.  You might therefore say anytime we sin we, too, are the sons of Belial.

Sheba summarized the feelings of the Israelites by saying they had “no share in David” and no “inheritance.”  They were upset about how they were being treated – their “share” – and about their prospects for the future – their “inheritance.”

Discouragement with your “share” as you journey home to Heaven is a breeding ground for sin.  So is focusing on the here-and-now rather than on your future “inheritance” awaiting you safe in Heaven.

“Every man to his tents” was Sheba’s rallying cry.  It was a declaration of independence.  Be your own king, rule your own “tents.”

We can pitch tents in our Christian life.  We might, for example, return to a habit or a behavior that Jesus has delivered us from.  Now that we are stronger (or so we think) we can handle it, camp out there.

Certain character traits can be tents we’ve pitched if we say of ourselves, “That’s just the way I am,” and settle-in comfortably when, in fact, we are indulging our selfishness.

2 Samuel 20:2  So every man of Israel deserted David, and followed Sheba the son of Bichri. But the men of Judah, from the Jordan as far as Jerusalem, remained loyal to their king.

As Israelites they were expected to fall under the authority of their king.  Their decision to rebel was a desertion.

Christians have been redeemed at great price – bought out of slavery to sin by the blood Jesus shed on the Cross at Calvary.  We are expected to fall, to bow, under the authority of our King and Savior.  Any decision to rebel, however slight, is a desertion.

2 Samuel 20:3  Now David came to his house at Jerusalem. And the king took the ten women, his concubines whom he had left to keep the house, and put them in seclusion and supported them, but did not go in to them. So they were shut up to the day of their death, living in widowhood.

Absalom had gone in to these concubines and sexually assaulted them as a sign to the nation of his rebellion against David.  Because David had ignored Absalom’s rebellion until it became something greater, many others suffered, starting with these concubines.  Their lives were never the same.

My sin always affects others negatively.  Especially if I allow it to go unchecked.

2 Samuel 20:4  And the king said to Amasa, “Assemble the men of Judah for me within three days, and be present here yourself.”

David had appointed Amasa to replace Joab as commander of his forces.  It was a terrible idea from the start.  Amasa had led Absalom’s forces against David, and not very well.
2 Samuel 20:5  So Amasa went to assemble the men of Judah. But he delayed longer than the set time which David had appointed him.

Make a mental note that “Amasa delayed longer” than the “three days” David had determined.  We’ll return to it in a moment.

2 Samuel 20:6  And David said to Abishai, “Now Sheba the son of Bichri will do us more harm than Absalom. Take your lord’s servants and pursue him, lest he find for himself fortified cities, and escape us.”
2 Samuel 20:7  So Joab’s men, with the Cherethites, the Pelethites, and all the mighty men, went out after him. And they went out of Jerusalem to pursue Sheba the son of Bichri.
2 Samuel 20:8  When they were at the large stone which is in Gibeon, Amasa came before them…

David was stuck on this “three day” plan of action.  If Amasa wasn’t going to act, David wanted to move without him.

Amasa heard that the troops were gathering and he met them.

2 Samuel 20:8  When they were at the large stone which is in Gibeon, Amasa came before them. Now Joab was dressed in battle armor; on it was a belt with a sword fastened in its sheath at his hips; and as he was going forward, it fell out.

Joab had been demoted but he was always ready for a fight.  He was a warrior.  He was also a murderer.  And a crafty one at that.  To put Amasa at ease Joab used the old I-dropped-my-sword routine.  Amasa fell for it and assumed Joab was unarmed as he approached him to greet him.

2 Samuel 20:9  Then Joab said to Amasa, “Are you in health, my brother?” And Joab took Amasa by the beard with his right hand to kiss him.
2 Samuel 20:10  But Amasa did not notice the sword that was in Joab’s hand. And he struck him with it in the stomach, and his entrails poured out on the ground; and he did not strike him again. Thus he died. Then Joab and Abishai his brother pursued Sheba the son of Bichri.

Alright.  I guess Joab was general again!

2 Samuel 20:11  Meanwhile one of Joab’s men stood near Amasa, and said, “Whoever favors Joab and whoever is for David – follow Joab!”
2 Samuel 20:12  But Amasa wallowed in his blood in the middle of the highway. And when the man saw that all the people stood still, he moved Amasa from the highway to the field and threw a garment over him, when he saw that everyone who came upon him halted.
2 Samuel 20:13  When he was removed from the highway, all the people went on after Joab to pursue Sheba the son of Bichri.

“Rated R for disembowelment and wallowing in blood.”  I can’t recommend Joab’s methods.  I can’t even say Joab was a believer.

Let’s look at it like this.  Joab understood that after “three days” he was to put to death the rebellion.  To kill it.  Amasa heard the same command from his king but he “delayed” while out trying to rally additional troops.

Whenever you read about “three days” in the Bible, what is it you think about?  I think about the Lord rising from the dead on the third day.  If we are looking for insight from this story about killing sin, about putting to death sin in our lives, then we need look no further than the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead.  It is by His power that we put sin to death – not by any other means.

Amasa was looking for additional troops.  Maybe, too, he was busy trying to come up with a clever strategy to defeat Sheba.  At any rate he ignored the “three days” in search of what he deemed would be more effective.  Mean time the rebellion only grew stronger.
Joab heeded the three days then went full on against Sheba, expecting to kill him.

Here’s the thing.  If you survey the Christian landscape, most of the suggestions regarding putting sin to death involve some sort of behavior modification.  We’re encouraged to change our outward behavior and we will thereby gain victory over sin.

Behavior modification is a recipe for disaster!  Jesus didn’t rise from the dead so I could reform my outward behavior by my own efforts but in order that I might be transformed from within by His power.

One blogger put it like this: “Christian growth… does not happen first by behaving better, but [by] believing better – believing in bigger, deeper… ways what Christ has already secured for [us].”

I like that because it is biblical.  The passages I referenced earlier, about putting sin to death, first tell us what to believe.  We are to believe, to know,   to “count,” to “reckon,” that when Jesus died, we died with Him; and that when He rose from the dead in resurrection power, we rose with Him in that same power.  We are therefore empowered by the Spirit of God to put sin to death, to kill sin.

Look at it like this.  You begin the Christian life by believing God for salvation.  You are to continue in your Christian walk by the same principle – believing His promises.  We walk by faith.

Let’s see how this played out.

#2    Are You Expecting Success
In Killing Sin?

Joab had no plan other than that after three days it was time to obey his king and pursue Sheba and put him to death.  Period.

2 Samuel 20:14  And he went through all the tribes of Israel to Abel and Beth Maachah and all the Berites. So they were gathered together and also went after Sheba.

According to some of the scholars, the “he” in this verse who “went through all the tribes of Israel” refers to Sheba gathering men for his rebellion. Others, like Josephus, say it refers to Joab picking-up troops as he hotly pursued Sheba.  Either way you get the idea that Joab was focused on killing Sheba after three days.  He wasn’t looking for additional troops, but they joined him, seeing his passion.

2 Samuel 20:15  Then they came and besieged him in Abel of Beth Maachah; and they cast up a siege mound against the city, and it stood by the rampart. And all the people who were with Joab battered the wall to throw it down.
2 Samuel 20:16  Then a wise woman cried out from the city, “Hear, hear! Please say to Joab, ‘Come nearby, that I may speak with you.’ ”
2 Samuel 20:17  When he had come near to her, the woman said, “Are you Joab?” He answered, “I am.” Then she said to him, “Hear the words of your maidservant.” And he answered, “I am listening.”
2 Samuel 20:18  So she spoke, saying, “They used to talk in former times, saying, ‘They shall surely seek guidance at Abel,’ and so they would end disputes.
2 Samuel 20:19  I am among the peaceable and faithful in Israel. You seek to destroy a city and a mother in Israel. Why would you swallow up the inheritance of the Lord?”
Siege warfare was brutal.  Those besieged would suffer from starvation as their supplies were depleted.  The besieging forces, once the city was breached, would show no mercy.

A wise woman called for parlay and she and Joab came to terms.

2 Samuel 20:20  And Joab answered and said, “Far be it, far be it from me, that I should swallow up or destroy!
2 Samuel 20:21  That is not so. But a man from the mountains of Ephraim, Sheba the son of Bichri by name, has raised his hand against the king, against David. Deliver him only, and I will depart from the city.” So the woman said to Joab, “Watch, his head will be thrown to you over the wall.”
2 Samuel 20:22  Then the woman in her wisdom went to all the people. And they cut off the head of Sheba the son of Bichri, and threw it out to Joab. Then he blew a trumpet, and they withdrew from the city, every man to his tent. So Joab returned to the king at Jerusalem.

Rebellion over!  Let’s go home, “every man to his tent,” but now in proper submission to the authority of the rightful king.

Joab waited three days then went after Sheba with the total expectation he would kill him, put him to death, and end the rebellion.

I’ve suggested that after three days Jesus rose from the dead and, since we are described as having spiritually risen from the dead with Him, we, too, should expect to put sin to death and end our rebellion.

A while back our Men’s Morning Fellowship studied the Sermon on the Mount.  Last season our ladies looked at the beatitudes in that sermon during Apples of Gold.   Here’s what I told the guys and the gals.

We are not told to live like this in order to be Christians.  We are told that because you are a Christian, you can live like this.

It may not seem like much of a difference, but it really makes all the difference in the your walk with God.

I can put sin to death, I can kill sin, because of who I already am in Christ and because of what He has already accomplished on my behalf.  I must believe “better… bigger… deeper…”  Then I expect to put sin to death by His power.

We have some unfinished business at the end of chapter twenty.

2 Samuel 20:23  And Joab was over all the army of Israel; Benaiah the son of Jehoiada was over the Cherethites and the Pelethites;
2 Samuel 20:24  Adoram was in charge of revenue; Jehoshaphat the son of Ahilud was recorder;
2 Samuel 20:25  Sheva was scribe; Zadok and Abiathar were the priests;
2 Samuel 20:26  and Ira the Jairite was a chief minister under David.

This is a historical note about David’s second administration cabinet members.

For our application I’d say that we, too, are called upon to administrate our lives.  We do it every day by the choices we make.

Here is one such choice that puts all I’ve been saying into perspective.

Galatians 3:5  Therefore He who supplies the Spirit to you and works miracles among you, does He do it by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith?

I can try to live out the Christian life, including putting sin to death, “by the works of the law.”  I can try to do it by behavior modification, by the latest method or program being promoted in some book.  I can try hard to reform.

Or I can do it God’s way, “by the hearing of faith.”  I can “hear” what He says in His Word about me and then believe it (“faith”) and then walk in it because He rose from the dead and, when He did, so did I.

The Bible says that “the sword of the Spirit is the Word of God” (Ephesians 6:17).  When I simply hear and believe the Word of God – the “hearing of faith” – the Spirit takes up the sword and kills sin, puts sin to death.

The King Is Fled, Long Love The King (2 Samuel 19v9-43)


Charles Haddon Spurgeon was only 17 years old when he became pastor of a small chapel in Waterbeach near Cambridge. At age 19 he was installed as pastor to the congregation of New Park Street Chapel.  His arrival soon led to such crowds thronging the chapel that services had to be moved to a vast hired hall where up to 10,000 people assembled.  On March 18, 1861, the congregation moved permanently to the newly constructed Metropolitan Tabernacle seating five thousand people with standing room for another one thousand.  The Metropolitan Tabernacle was the largest church edifice of its day and can be considered a precursor to the modern megachurch.

Spurgeon pastored the church for 38 years, founding a pastors’ college, an orphanage, a Christian literature society and The Sword and the Trowel magazine.  Over 200 new churches were started in the Home Counties alone, and pastored by his students.

With all that going on you might not expect Spurgeon to call upon his congregation to pray for revival… But he did.
Here is what he said in the December 1866 edition of The Sword and the Trowel.

Brethren, let us seek a revival during the present month, that the year may close with showers of blessing, and that the new year may open with abundant benediction.  Let us pledge ourselves to form a prayer-union, a sacred band of suppliants, and may God do unto us according to our faith.

It might be good to pause and answer the question, “What is revival?”  Here is how Spurgeon defined it (in the same article).

We [can] not speak of the re-vival of a thing which never lived before.  It is clear that the term “revival” can only be applied to a living soul, or to that which once lived.  To be revived is a blessing which can only be enjoyed by those who have some degree of life.

Those who have no spiritual life are not, and cannot be, in the strictest sense of the term, the subjects of a revival.  Many blessings may come to the unconverted in consequence of a revival among Christians, but the revival itself has to do only with those who already possess spiritual life.  There must be vitality in some degree before there can be a quickening of vitality, or, in other words, a revival.

A true revival is to be looked for in the church of God.  The results of the revival will extend to the outside world, but the revival, strictly speaking, must be within the circle of life, and must therefore essentially be enjoyed by the possessors of vital godliness, and by them only.

Is not this quite a different view of revival from that; which is common in society; but is it not manifestly the correct one?

Revival, then, is not a meeting or a series of meetings in which nonbelievers are getting saved.  It may result in many nonbelievers coming to the Lord but it doesn’t start there.  It starts with we who are saved.  It is a stirring within the heart of a Christian, and in a church, to return to a previous passion for the Lord.

It’s just a matter of fact that as we journey homeward to Heaven there will be times in which we individually need reviving.  It is equally true that churches, our church, will need times of revival.

Students of past revivals always say that it is a sovereign work of God.  God does it where and when He pleases.  While that is true, it does not cancel-out our seeking after God for revival.  After all, salvation is a sovereign work of God, but we share the Gospel and urge folks to respond, do we not?

We should take the same approach to revival.  It is the sovereign work of God and we ought to expect Him to do it for us as we ask and seek and knock.

Our passage in Second Samuel can give us some encouragement to seek the Lord for both personal and corporate revival.  It describes the return of the king to his proper reign over the nation.  We might describe a revival that way – as the return of our King, Jesus Christ, to His proper reign over us.

One verse in particular captures this thought.

2 Samuel 19:14  So he swayed the hearts of all the men of Judah, just as the heart of one man, so that they sent this word to the king: “Return, you and all your servants!”

The Lord, I’m sure, wants to “sway” our hearts individually so that when we gather together it is as if we had “the heart of one man” in our worship.

I’ll organize my thoughts around two points: #1 Invite The Lord To Sway Our Hearts Before Him As One Man, and #2 Invite The Lord To Sway Your Heart Before Him As His Man.

#1    Invite The Lord To Sway Our Hearts
Before Him As One Man

The rebellion against King David was ended when Joab killed the rebel, David’s son Absalom.  The leaders of the nation, however, were either hesitant or negligent in bringing David back to the throne.

2 Samuel 19:9  Now all the people were in a dispute throughout all the tribes of Israel, saying, “The king saved us from the hand of our enemies, he delivered us from the hand of the Philistines, and now he has fled from the land because of Absalom.
2 Samuel 19:10  But Absalom, whom we anointed over us, has died in battle. Now therefore, why do you say nothing about bringing back the king?”
2 Samuel 19:11  So King David sent to Zadok and Abiathar the priests, saying, “Speak to the elders of Judah, saying, ‘Why are you the last to bring the king back to his house, since the words of all Israel have come to the king, to his very house?
2 Samuel 19:12  You are my brethren, you are my bone and my flesh. Why then are you the last to bring back the king?’

Reality check number one in any talk about revival in the church has to do with the leaders God has raised up.  The King must be our passion.  He must be my passion.

I’d point out two things from these verses, specifically, about leaders:

First, the leaders of Israel said “nothing about bringing back the king.”  Whether they said nothing at all, or talked about things that were frivolous, their contacts with the people of God lacked spiritual content.  It did not point others to the king.  While there is a time for everything under the sun, I want to keep my contact with God’s people spiritual, pointing them to their King.
Second, the leaders were “the last to bring the king back to his house.”  In context by “house” this meant the palace.  For us it is an exhortation to be in God’s ‘house,’ gathered together with God’s people.  It’s like a congregation saying, “I’m here, so where are the leaders God has raised up among us?  Why aren’t they in His house to minister?”

2 Samuel 19:13  And say to Amasa, ‘Are you not my bone and my flesh? God do so to me, and more also, if you are not commander of the army before me continually in place of Joab.’ ”

General Joab had defied David’s direct command to not kill Absalom.  Whether we think Joab was right or wrong to have killed him, in the military that kind of thing could not go without reprimand, so David appointed a new general.

I don’t want to make too much of this in terms of application except to say that no one is expendable.  Leadership isn’t so much a right as it is a responsibility.  It’s not so much a position I earn as it is a recognition of my passion for the King.  If I leave that passion, letting other passions take its place, I have effectively forfeited my position.

2 Samuel 19:14  So he swayed the hearts of all the men of Judah, just as the heart of one man, so that they sent this word to the king: “Return, you and all your servants!”
2 Samuel 19:15  Then the king returned and came to the Jordan. And Judah came to Gilgal, to go to meet the king, to escort the king across the Jordan.

The leaders responded and the people followed and thereby the king “swayed the hearts of all the men… just as the heart of one man.”  They had one heartbeat and it was to see the return of the king to reign over them.

Without losing our individuality, the Lord always wants our ‘heart,’ as a church body, to beat as one.

I’m not saying it doesn’t already!  Talks like this have a tendency to go negative, or to be received as rebukes.  There’s a difference between a man speaking words to rebuke you and God using His Word to “sway our hearts.”

Although we have an amazing church, filled with wonderful saints, I wouldn’t say we are in full revival, would you?

The first step towards keeping what we have and having more, having revival, is to be honest about our need for it.  To be open to God bringing it – in whatever form He chooses.  It’s no good resting on our laurels, or looking back on what we’ve accomplished.  We need to be certain Jesus is enthroned everyday, in a fresh, new excitement as we await His imminent return for us with His reward in His hand.

#2    Invite The Lord To Sway Your Heart
Before Him As His Man

The remainder of this chapter looks at specific individuals in their relation to the return of the king.  If we are to experience revival, the return of the King (as it were), then we must start not with others but with our own hearts.  He must sway my heart if He is to sway our hearts.

2 Samuel 19:16  And Shimei the son of Gera, a Benjamite, who was from Bahurim, hurried and came down with the men of Judah to meet King David.
2 Samuel 19:17  There were a thousand men of Benjamin with him, and Ziba the servant of the house of Saul, and his fifteen sons and his twenty servants with him; and they went over the Jordan before the king.
2 Samuel 19:18  Then a ferryboat went across to carry over the king’s household, and to do what he thought good. Now Shimei the son of Gera fell down before the king when he had crossed the Jordan.
2 Samuel 19:19  Then he said to the king, “Do not let my lord impute iniquity to me, or remember what wrong your servant did on the day that my lord the king left Jerusalem, that the king should take it to heart.
2 Samuel 19:20  For I, your servant, know that I have sinned. Therefore here I am, the first to come today of all the house of Joseph to go down to meet my lord the king.”

Shimei had cursed David, thrown stones at him, as he fled from Jerusalem during the Absalom rebellion.  Now he came, the first to ask forgiveness.

If revival is to occur in my heart, I need to deal with any sin I find there.  I need to come clean before the King, ask for His forgiveness.  It may be something very obvious.  It may be something very subtle, an attitude or a sin of the spirit.  If I continue in my sin I am throwing rocks at the Lord, cursing His work on the Cross.

2 Samuel 19:21  But Abishai the son of Zeruiah answered and said, “Shall not Shimei be put to death for this, because he cursed the Lord’s anointed?”
2 Samuel 19:22  And David said, “What have I to do with you, you sons of Zeruiah, that you should be adversaries to me today? Shall any man be put to death today in Israel? For do I not know that today I am king over Israel?”
2 Samuel 19:23  Therefore the king said to Shimei, “You shall not die.” And the king swore to him.

David was in a forgiving mood.  It was a time for reconciliation, not revenge.

The application I’d make here, for us, is how we look upon others.  Of course they deserve death!  But the thoughts of Jesus toward them are to forgive that they might live.

If revival is to occur, I need to be filled with the compassion of Jesus toward others.  I must see them as He sees them, as eternal and in need of Him.

2 Samuel 19:24  Now Mephibosheth the son of Saul came down to meet the king. And he had not cared for his feet, nor trimmed his mustache, nor washed his clothes, from the day the king departed until the day he returned in peace.
2 Samuel 19:25  So it was, when he had come to Jerusalem to meet the king, that the king said to him, “Why did you not go with me, Mephibosheth?”
2 Samuel 19:26  And he answered, “My lord, O king, my servant deceived me. For your servant said, ‘I will saddle a donkey for myself, that I may ride on it and go to the king,’ because your servant is lame.
2 Samuel 19:27  And he has slandered your servant to my lord the king, but my lord the king is like the angel of God. Therefore do what is good in your eyes.
2 Samuel 19:28  For all my father’s house were but dead men before my lord the king. Yet you set your servant among those who eat at your own table. Therefore what right have I still to cry out anymore to the king?”

Mephibosheth was the severely crippled son of Saul to whom David had shown unusual mercy and kindness.  Ziba had come to David at the outset of Absalom’s rebellion and slandered Mephibosheth with the goal of getting David to give him all Mephibosheth’s possessions and land.  Now David learns the truth.

The thing to note here is Mephibosheth’s condition during the king’s absence.  He didn’t even care for his regular, physical hygiene.

Now I’m not suggesting that revival can be accomplished by our quitting showering!  But there is a suggestion that the revived heart cares little about the things that the world values in terms of externals.

We see this in Mephibosheth’s reaction to David’s decision, in the next verses.

2 Samuel 19:29  So the king said to him, “Why do you speak anymore of your matters? I have said, ‘You and Ziba divide the land.’ ”
What?!  Did I hear that correctly?  Ziba deceived David and the resolve is to let him keep half of Mephibosheth’s land???

Just when you’re on the verge of revival, it seems, there is a test or a trial to show you what your heart truly values.  Mephibosheth passed the test.

2 Samuel 19:30  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.”

What?!  Did I hear THAT correctly?  Mephibosheth doesn’t demand his rights, doesn’t shout “Unfair!”  In fact, he relinquishes all his land, and to the very person who was lying about him.

The only point of reference I have for something like this is to remember back to when I was first saved.  Pam and I cared nothing about the things that had previously held our hearts captive.  If the Lord wanted to take our house, our possessions, that was not only His business, it was exciting!

When we first got saved, we were ‘vived.’  I’ll know I am ‘re-vived’ when I have that similar attitude.

2 Samuel 19:31  And Barzillai the Gileadite came down from Rogelim and went across the Jordan with the king, to escort him across the Jordan.
2 Samuel 19:32  Now Barzillai was a very aged man, eighty years old. And he had provided the king with supplies while he stayed at Mahanaim, for he was a very rich man.
2 Samuel 19:33  And the king said to Barzillai, “Come across with me, and I will provide for you while you are with me in Jerusalem.”
2 Samuel 19:34  But Barzillai said to the king, “How long have I to live, that I should go up with the king to Jerusalem?
2 Samuel 19:35  I am today eighty years old. Can I discern between the good and bad? Can your servant taste what I eat or what I drink? Can I hear any longer the voice of singing men and singing women? Why then should your servant be a further burden to my lord the king?
2 Samuel 19:36  Your servant will go a little way across the Jordan with the king. And why should the king repay me with such a reward?

Barzillai’s life was all about using the time, the talent, and the treasure that God had given him to support the king in his work.  He did it without accolades and he wasn’t looking to be recognized or rewarded this side of eternity.

Perhaps we are seeing in Barzillai what our life can accomplish when we are revived.  Our time, our talent, and our treasure will be gladly dedicated to the Lord, submitted to Him for His use as He sees fit.

2 Samuel 19:37  Please let your servant turn back again, that I may die in my own city, near the grave of my father and mother. But here is your servant Chimham; let him cross over with my lord the king, and do for him what seems good to you.”
2 Samuel 19:38  And the king answered, “Chimham shall cross over with me, and I will do for him what seems good to you. Now whatever you request of me, I will do for you.”
2 Samuel 19:39  Then all the people went over the Jordan. And when the king had crossed over, the king kissed Barzillai and blessed him, and he returned to his own place.

Barzillai understood his time was ending.  He’d still serve, right up to the end, but others, in this case Chimham, would carry on the work.

You know, all of us have a brief time on earth, a relatively short window of opportunity during which to serve the Lord.  Soon we will be looking back on it and I can guarantee all of us will want our lives to speak of the good works we discovered by walking with the Lord.

This doesn’t just apply to old men and old women.  The Lord is coming imminently.  Some, therefore, will be very young, both in the Lord and in physical age.  Be about His business now, right now.  You may have no tomorrow – one way or the other.

The revived heart has a sense of urgency in this spiritual business of furthering the kingdom of God.

2 Samuel 19:40  Now the king went on to Gilgal, and Chimham went on with him. And all the people of Judah escorted the king, and also half the people of Israel.
2 Samuel 19:41  Just then all the men of Israel came to the king, and said to the king, “Why have our brethren, the men of Judah, stolen you away and brought the king, his household, and all David’s men with him across the Jordan?”
2 Samuel 19:42  So all the men of Judah answered the men of Israel, “Because the king is a close relative of ours. Why then are you angry over this matter? Have we ever eaten at the king’s expense? Or has he given us any gift?”
2 Samuel 19:43  And the men of Israel answered the men of Judah, and said, “We have ten shares in the king; therefore we also have more right to David than you. Why then do you despise us – were we not the first to advise bringing back our king?” Yet the words of the men of Judah were fiercer than the words of the men of Israel.

This was a sad end to an otherwise glad day.  David and his entourage crossed the Jordan and arrived at Gilgal where they were met by a throng of citizens from both Judah and Israel.  The latter were upset that the Judeans claimed David as theirs to the exclusion of the other tribes.  When the Judeans replied that David was part of their own flesh, the Israelite counter-response was that there were ten tribes of them and therefore their claim was much more weighty.  Besides, they said, they had been the first to insist that David return to rule over the nation.

By the way, those who were complaining they were being overlooked had been the first to become involved in the rebellion of Absalom.

What is this telling us?  It is telling us that revival will be a constant need and therefore a constant pursuit.  We may be revived, but others around us will not, and their arguments, their clamoring, can undermine revival if we are not mindful of it.

I began by quoting Charles Spurgeon.  Apparently his church was kicking-off a December of meetings emphasizing revival.  We don’t need a special schedule of meetings.  But we can look at the meetings already scheduled, can we not?  Sunday morning and Wednesday night; Monday evening and Wednesday morning for the men and Saturday night for prayer.  We can emphasize a pursuit of the presence of God, seek Him for revival in each of them.

The question is, “Do I, do we, want to be re-vived?”  We answer it everyday by our passion, either for more of the Lord or for something else that has gotten in the way.

Revival is a sovereign work of God AND we ought to expect Him to do it as we ask… As we seek… As we knock.

As we close in worship, ask yourself, “Who do I most resemble in this account?”

Am I Abishai, looking upon others as needing judgment rather than extending them compassion and mercy?

Am I the ten tribes, insisting on fairness and acting legalistically?


Am I Shemei, constantly approaching my King to ask His forgiveness for the rocks I’ve thrown and the way my behavior has cursed the Cross upon which He died to set me free from sin?

Am I Mephibosheth, caring little about the things of this world in comparison to my Lord, and thereby successfully navigating through trials?

Am I Barzillai, tirelessly serving the Lord with my time, talent, and things, having a sense of urgency at His imminent return to rapture the church?