Onward, Christian Soldiers (2 Samuel 23-24)

Wednesday, October 26

ps-20-7-pic

By Sherry Alcumbrack

Some of you may have noticed we have been in the middle of a contentious election race for POTUS. Here are some words of wisdom from Chapter 23:3b. “He who rules over men must be just, Ruling in the fear of God.” We need to get back to electing leaders that are Godly men and women like the leaders we have been reading about.

As we read about the mighty men of David, a couple of things struck me. Each of them had to do something. They didn’t just stay in their tent and wait for the Lord to go out and win the battle for them. Adino killed eight hundred men at one time. Eleazar, when the Israelites had retreated, “arose and attacked the Philistines until his hand was weary and his hand stuck to the sword.” Shammah stationed himself in the middle of the field, defended it, and killed the Philistines. And on and on the stories go, but at the end of the stories, they would say, “So the Lord brought about a great victory.” They took no credit for it. So, we, just like these mighty men, may have to get out there in harm’s way to be able to have a great victory. And then we need to glorify God, who is the one that brought it about. God uses His people to win His battles, but we have to be willing to go out on the battlefield with Him.

After all these victorious battles, David decides to take a census of the Israelites, which in and of itself is no sin. But the sin lies in the fact that David was feeling pretty prideful about what his armies were able to do and forgot to give God the glory. He started trusting in men and not God.

2 Samuel 24:10 b says,  “So David said to the Lord, ‘I have sinned greatly in what I have done; but now, I pray, O Lord, take away iniquity of Your servant, for I have done very foolishly.’” A prophet came to David and told him he had a choice for his punishment: seven years of famine, three months with his enemies pursuing him, or three days’ plague in the land. In verse 14 he says, “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.” We know that there are consequences for our actions, especially when they go against the laws of God. But we also know that God is a merciful father and will forgive us of our sins.

mercy-pic

At the end of chapter 24, it shows David as the shepherd of the people of Israel and he pleads with God, “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.”  Jesus is our good  shepherd and he pleads for us to his father. It is comforting to know that we have an advocate that is speaking.

heb-7-25-pic

What Does This History Have to do with ME? (2 Samuel 21-22)

Tuesday, October 24

By Sherry Alcumbrack

As we are reading through the Old Testament, we are seeing wonderful stories of the patriarchs of our faith and the history of the Israelites. I love history, so to me it’s fascinating, but it’s not just history. We need to read it with an eye toward, thinking about how this affects us in our lives today. In every chapter it speaks to characters that will help us develop into godly people that will impact the world around us.

In Chapter 21, life for the Jewish people follows a similar pattern. While King David is leading them, God continues to be them. But not all is hunky dory. The Philistines still really hate them and would like nothing better than to annihilate them. They have to go up to battle them 3 times. They even kill Goliath’s brother and other members of the family, one was a giant with 6 fingers on each hand and 6 toes on each foot (24 in all)…ewww!!! But they defeated them in every battle. When we pray for a miracle and God answers our prayers, how do we act? King David knows how to be thankful. Chapter 22 is a beautiful song of praise for God.

2-sam-22-2-pic

What are some characteristics of a rock or fortress? They are solid, unmovable, and unshakeable. These are some of the characteristics of God and we can confidently place our trust in him.

King David went through a lot of things in his life with King Saul trying to kill him, many battles with the enemies of Israel, and even his son trying to kill him. He looked to God to be his protector, his hiding place. Verse 7 says, “In my distress I called upon the Lord and cried out to my God.” We need to realize that God is our only hope as we go through the different struggles in our lives.

The creator of the universe, the one who created thunder, lightning, the sea, and the foundations of the world is our defender. King David tells us who his deliverer was in verses 17-20, he did not try to take any of the glory. He said, “He is my support and He delivered me because He delighted in me.” We need to realize that God delights in giving us his help and shelter during our storms. He is there for us just as he was there to help King David. He tells why God delights in him; because he kept the ways of the Lord, he did not depart from God, he kept His judgements before him, and did not depart from His statutes. But verse 23 is key. “Therefore the Lord has recompensed me according to my righteousness, According to my cleanness in His eyes.” Like I said yesterday, once God forgives you, you are forgiven. We can be thankful that when he looks at us he doesn’t see the sins we have committed in our lives, he sees his son Jesus who was sinless.

God’s way is perfect, the word of the Lord is proven. He is a shield to those who trust in Him.

psalm-121-1-2-pic

How Do WE Become Men/Women after Gods Heart? (2 Samuel 19-20)

Monday, October 24

By Sherry Alcumbrack

King David has a distinction that no one else in the Bible has. Act 13:22 “ After He had removed him, He raised up David to be their king, concerning whom He also testified and said, ‘I have found David the son of Jesse, a man after My heart, who will do all My will.” God calls David a man after his own heart. When we read about King David, we read how he committed adultery with Bathsheba, had her husband killed, etc. But when God forgives us after we repent, he forgives and it is like it never happened.

What made David a man after God’s heart? One of his characteristics that stand out in these chapters is his kindness. He was kind to several people, and he wasn’t kind to these people because he thought they could repay him.

golden-rule-pic

The first instance is with Shimei, now you may not remember that name but in Chapter 16 he was the man, from the family of Saul, who came out cursing King David and throwing stones at him and his servants when Absalom was pursuing him. After Absalom is killed and David is coming back to Jerusalem, Shimei meets King David at the Jordan River, he bowed before him and asked for his forgiveness. Abishai advised the king to put him to death because he had cursed the Lord’s anointed. King David said in 22b and23 “Should any man be put to death in Israel today? For do I not know that I am king over Israel today?” The king said to Shimei, “You shall not die.” Thus the king swore to him.

We heard about the kindness of King David to Mephibosheth earlier but he wasn’t finished. Mephibosheth did not leave with King David, and his servant Ziba lied to David about Mephibosheth. King David asked him “Why did you not go with me, Mephibosheth?” It had hurt King David because he thought another friend had deserted him. By this time King David had given Ziba the land that belonged to Mephibosheth but he restored it to him and said that he and Ziba would divide the land. But Mephibosheth was such a loyal friend that he said, “Let him take it all, since my lord the king has come safely to his own house.

The third story involves Barzillai, an old man who had taken care of the king when he was in Mahanaim. Barzillai was also someone that showed kindness to others and thought nothing of taking in the King even when he might have brought death to his own family if Absalom came after him. King David wanted to show his appreciation by taking him back to Jerusalem. Barzillai went with him as far as Jordan. He told King David, I am an old man, hard of hearing, I can’t taste what I eat or drink and I do not want to be a burden to you. Let me go back to my city to die near the grave of my father and mother. But he offered someone in his place, Chimham, (probably his son.) King David said “Chimham shall cross over with me, and I will do for him what is good in your sight; and whatever you require of me, I will do for you.” Later it is noted in 1 Kings 2:7 David tells his son Solomon to “show kindness to the sons of Barzillai of Gilead and let them be among those who eat at your table.”

Showing love and kindness to others who cannot repay us is a hallmark of Christians. It is what we are called to do in Matthew 7:12

matt-7-12-pic

Bad Company Corrupts Good Morals (2 Samuel 16-18)

Sunday, October 23 – Week 14

prov-12-15

By Sherry Alcumbrack

In these chapters we read about a struggle between a King and his son, Absalom. I know from being raised in a family with 8 children that there are struggles within the family as the children try to assert their independence. In this story Absalom asks for advice from 2 friends. Ahithophel encourages him to go into his father’s concubines in the sight of all Israel, to show the disdain that he had for King David. He also told him to choose 12,000 men to pursue King David. Then Absalom calls Hushai to ask his advice. He tells him that the advice that Ahithophel had given him was bad advice. He reminds him that his father, King David, was surrounded by mighty and valiant men who were loyal to King David and would fight and die for him. Absalom decides to take Ahithopel’s advice, to his detriment. In Proverbs it says a lot about taking advice from others and to listen to wise counsel. I recently heard someone say that he could tell you what your future holds by the friends we surround ourselves with. If they are foolish, we will make foolish decisions, as well. We need to make sure that we are listening to that Godly advice.

Hushai also shows his loyalty to King David by going and warning him of Absalom’s plans. King David was surrounded by people who were loyal to him, down to the servant girl who hid 2 of his friends in a well to keep them safe.

Even through all this, one of the things that stands out is the fact that King David loves Absalom and asks the people to treat him gently. This is his son that is trying to kill him.  In 2 Samuel 18:5, David says “Deal gently for my sake with the young man Absalom.” The last verse of chapter 18 is King David mourning for his son, after he heard of his death.

2-sam-18-pic

This is the type of love that God shows to us. He is constantly wanting the best for us. He grieves when we turn against him. 2 Peter 3:9 “The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. Instead he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.” He is just waiting for us to turn back to him, like the father in the Prodigal Son parable that Nathaniel mentioned in a previous devotion.

luke-15-10-pic

 

We thank Sherry Alcumbrack for writing this week.  Sherry is a wife to Bob, mother to Morgann, Marshall, Grant and Jacob.  She lives in lovely Anderson, SC and attends Guthrie Grove.  She enjoys traveling,  has been to 48 states, and looks forward to visiting Alaska and Hawaii. She loves flowers,lighthouses, waterfalls and sunsets and taking pictures of her family in front of them (her children love this as well.) Spring and Fall are her favorite seasons.  She also loves to read and walk her dog.

Which Type of Son are You? (II Samuel 14-15)

Saturday, October 21

psalm-139-17-pic

Nathaniel Johnson

Let’s quickly take a look and see a parallel story in the parable of the lost son. In Luke 15, starting in verse 11, Jesus starts to tell the story of a son who took his inheritance and squandered it in reckless living. This son is a lot like King David’s son, Absalom. We know from Jesus’ parable that there are two types of sons. The first is like the lost son, the son who ran away and made his father worry. The other son was the one who stayed with his father. He did everything right; he worked hard for his father and followed the rules. But when his brother came home and his dad accepted him with loving arms, he resented his brother in his heart. Sometimes we can be like the first son. We openly rebel against God and choose not to listen to him. And sometimes we can be like the second son. We try our best to follow all the rules but we still end up sinning in our hearts. The bad news is, all of us fall into one camp or the other (Romans 3:23). The good news is “God does not take away life; instead, he devises ways so that a banished person may not remain estranged from Him” (2 Samuel 14:14). How great is that? Maybe you feel like you’ve been running away from God for a while now. You keep trying to find your way back but you seem to stumble all the way. Relax, God is pursuing you right now. He is coming up with ways to get you back onto his path and working you into his plan. God doesn’t want to stay separated from you.

Beware: Poison! (II Samuel 12-13)

Friday, October 21

oct-21-pic

Nathaniel Johnson

In the Garden of Eden, Adam and Eve were tempted to eat of the one forbidden fruit. In David’s kingdom, he was tempted to take Bathsheba as his own wife, even though she was already married. David’s son Amnon, was tempted to take his sister Tamar for himself, even though that is disgraceful. The sin that started with Adam found its way to king David, a man after God’s own heart, and on to his son Amnon. Like father, like son, they both went after the forbidden fruit. How silly of Amnon to not listen to Tamar! He could have been free of guilt had he only asked David to give him Tamar as his wife, but he couldn’t resist the temptation. The sin that Amnon commits spreads like a virus to his brother Absalom. Absalom handles this fairly well at first. He started to take care of his sister and let her live in his household. He also didn’t lash out at his brother. In fact, he didn’t say a single word to Amnon. But, he made one crucial mistake in dealing with his brother. He didn’t forgive him. I know it’s hard to imagine being in this situation and it’s even harder to be able to imagine being able to forgive someone for that. As Alan Cain once said, “Unforgiveness is the poison we drink thinking that it will harm someone else.” Absalom thought that by harboring this bitterness in his heart, he could pay back Amnon for what he did to Tamar. He was wrong. When the bitterness in his heart boiled over, he struck out and killed his brother. As a result, he not only hurt himself, but left an emptiness in his father’s life by running away in shame. When we sin, the worst thing we can do is duck our heads and run away. Just as David still wanted to see his son Absalom after he had sinned, our Heavenly Father wants to see us when we take a bite of that forbidden fruit. Through Jesus, God will always welcome us back with open arms as long as we come for forgiveness.

Intentional Kindness (II Samuel 8-11)

Thursday, October 20

i-corin-13-4-pic

Nathaniel Johnson

We all know that kindness is a trait that we should strive for as followers of Christ. Certainly kindness follows from serving others. In chapter nine, David shows a great act of kindness to a man that did nothing to deserve it. Sometimes, we think that kindness is responding positively when we see something. Like when you see a man struggling to carry a bunch of stuff and you offer to help him out and then go the extra mile with him and carry it for him (Matthew 5:41).  That’s a great way to show kindness, but what we see David doing here for Mephibosheth is very different. David didn’t know that Mephibosheth existed until he sought him out. Sometimes, to show God’s love, we have to intentionally look for situations where we can improve someone’s life. David did his research. He asked Ziba if there was anyone that he could show kindness to. For us to be as kind as King David, we also have to do our research. Maybe for you to show the kindness of a king is to volunteer and you, too, need to do your research. Find a cause that you can show kindness to. Do your research, and then hold nothing back, just like King David.