Synopsis 2Sam 12:11-20 12/14/2018
Nathan the prophet spoke in the name of the Lord. He pronounced to David the punishments God intended as a consequence of David’s sin with Bathsheba. These included humiliations, a curse on his family line, and the death of the child that Bathsheba had borne.
David pleaded with God to spare the child. And he kept a total fast and prayed in sackcloth for seven days in this hope. In fact, his advisors worried that he might harm himself if the child died. However, when the child died, David broke his fast and washed. And then he returned to his duties.
David repented. In other words, he recognized the evil he had done. Besides that, he recognized that he never wanted to fail God like this again.
He also recognized that his misdeeds had injured other people. Not-the-least of these was his son, who was dying because of David’s sin. David was sobered by this failure and committed to healing his relationship with God.
Repentance Means to Turn From Sin
It’s legitimate to dread the consequences of sin. It’s painful to experience the losses that my sins invariably bring into my life. And it’s even more dreadful to contemplate the possibility of eternal damnation in hell.
But the real damage is that my sins offend God – the God of all creation and the Savior of my soul.
“O my God, I am heartily sorry for having offended Thee, and I detest all my sins, because I dread the loss of heaven and the pains of hell, but most of all because they offend Thee, my God, who art all good and deserving of all my love.” The Act of Contrition Prayer
Synopsis 2Sam 12:3-10 12/13/2018
Nathan was a prophet of God. He served in David’s court. And God had revealed to him David’s crimes. So, Nathan came to David. And he described to David a hypothetical case of injustice. In it, he described how a wealthy neighbor in a certain city took grievous advantage of a poorer neighbor. And then, he asked David to judge between the two men.
David was incensed by the injustice that Nathan described. He even demanded that justice be exacted on the wealthy man. It was at this point that Nathan spoke the famous phrase, “You are the man!”. And in that moment, David realized for the first time the full extent of his sin.
Finally, Nathan proclaimed God’s wrath on David’s house because of his sin.
A Prophet Reveals Self-Deceit
For David, life had gone on. He had stolen everything from Uriah. He had stolen his wife. And then he had him murdered. But somehow he continued on. He did all these evil things but still continued to function as king. He continued to manage the nation. And he continued to prosecute the war as the head of the military.
David was in denial. His brain suppressed the knowledge of his own guilt. So much so, that he was no longer consciously aware of it. Even in his own mind, he had literally gotten away with murder. And not only did no one know, but he had made himself to look like an empathetic hero. By all appearances, he was the merciful king who took a dead soldier’s wife into his house to raise up the soldier’s child as his own.
Nathan’s words exposed David’s deceit. As a result, his misdeeds were brought into the light of truth. And his heart was broken when he fully admitted to himself what he had done. But in truth, he carried his guilt and shame around the whole time – even though he had repressed his treachery from conscious awareness.
So, suddenly God exposed him. And then, there was no more hiding. The entire nation became aware of his desperately evil sin.
Examine Yourself Daily
It’s amazing how easily I repress the awareness of my sins. Sometimes my conscience might be provoked for a moment or two. But then, I distract myself with some amusement. Or I bury myself in work. And then I don’t think about my sins anymore. It’s a cycle.
I systematically hide from awareness of my own guilt and shame.
At least I hide until something or someone brings it to mind. But invariably, like David, it comes out.
The light of truth will always, eventually, have its way. God will expose your truth. It will happen today, or tomorrow, or perhaps not until the day of judgement. But this much is inevitable. What I’ve done will come to light.
So, the question becomes: will I wait for judgement and unknowingly carry this burden for all my days? Or will I examine my conscience and confess my sins? The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ gives us the Sacrament of Reconciliation so that I can walk in the freedom that He won for me.
I can walk in the freedom He won for me, even while I tread the ground of this weary land.
“Probe me, God, know my heart; try me, know my thoughts. See if there is a wicked path in me; lead me along an ancient path.” Psalm 139:23-24
Synopsis 2Sam 11:21-12:2 12/12/2018
On King David’s command, Joab positioned Uriah the Hittite so that he would be killed in battle. When Uriah died, Joab sent a report to David via a messenger. David tended to interpret any Israelite loss of life as a sign of God’s disfavor. So, Joab cautioned the messenger that David might respond to the report with anger. And so, he told the man to specifically report to the king that Uriah the Hittite was killed in combat.
The messenger delivered the report to the king. And when he did, he was careful to specifically mention that Uriah the Hittite had died. King David received the news with unusual grace. Unexpectedly, he told the messenger to encourage Joab.
For her part, Bathsheba mourned the loss of her husband. After her mourning officially ended, David took her as his wife. And so, when the time came, she bore David a son.
Is the King Above the Law?
In accordance with the law, David’s crime was punishable by death. But his crime was also a personal betrayal against a faithful man. Even more than that, it could be seen as a betrayal of the entire army. Should his sin have become known, David could have lost his kingdom and his life.
And this led him to murder Uriah. He formed a conspiracy with Joab. And on David’s orders, Joab allowed the Ammonites to kill Uriah. Under the law, this was another crime that required the death penalty.
By his actions, David made the kingship above the law. Yet, he could not have known the disastrous consequences of his failure.
Do Not Use Your Freedom To Justify Moral Failure
As a Christ-follower, I say that I am not under the law. And this is true. By virtue of Jesus’ sacrifice, I’m no longer subject to the law of sin and death.
But what hasn’t changed – what can never change – is that my moral failures prevent me from entering into the full possibility of my life.
“A clean heart create for me, God; renew within me a steadfast spirit.” Psalm 51:12
Synopsis 2Sam 11:11-20 12/11/2018
King David committed adultery with Bathsheba. And she became pregnant. So, David made a plan to fool Uriah the Hittite into thinking that Bathsheba’s child was his. He brought Uriah home from the battlefield. And then he encouraged him to go to his house and sleep with his wife.
But Uriah didn’t feel right about sleeping in his own bed when all the rest of the soldiers were in tents or in the open field. So, he refused to go to his house and visit his wife. And this foiled David’s underhanded plan. So, David wrote a sealed letter to Joab giving instructions to put Uriah in a battlefield situation where he was likely to be killed. Even though Uriah was dear to Joab, he did as David commanded. And so, Uriah died in combat.
Uriah chose faithfulness. Consistently, he was faithful to the people in authority. And he was also faithful in solidarity with his brother soldiers. So much so, that he refused special treatment or special favor from the king.
In the story, Uriah’s faithfulness was set against David’s duplicity. Uriah’s behavior was as faithful as David’s behavior was despicable. And had it not been so, David would have had some excuse to justify his treachery. But he couldn’t make this justification because of Uriah’s extraordinary character.
The Testimony of a Faithful Life
Sometimes it feels like nothing comes from our effort to be faithful. Like the psalmist, we endeavor to do what is right and pleasing in the sight of the Lord, only to discover that there is no guarantee of any obvious reward.
And there is no guarantee of obvious reward. And that’s scary.
Somehow, I sense this danger that I’m going to feel cheated. And, I fear that I could end up looking like a chump. If that happened, the eyes of the world might mock me. That’s the fear.
And yet we know that no faithful deed goes unrewarded. More than that, we know that every act of faithfulness and love makes the universe more like the thing it was always meant to be.
“Is it in vain that I have kept my heart pure, washed my hands in innocence?” Psalm 73:13
Synopsis 2Sam 11:1-10 12/8/2018
The war continued with the Ammonites. One year, King David sent the army to besiege Rabbah in Ammon. So, Joab led the campaign. And David remained in Jerusalem.
David lusted after a woman he saw while strolling on his rooftop. Her name was Bathsheba. Although she was the wife of an important and extremely loyal soldier in the army, David brought her to his palace. And then, he had relations with her. After that, she became pregnant.
As a result, David hatched a plan to cover his deed. Bathsheba’s husband was a Hittite named Uriah. So, David ordered Uriah to return to Jerusalem from the battlefield. Thinking that Uriah would sleep with his wife, David kept him in Jerusalem overnight. But Uriah slept with the other soldiers at the palace. And this foiled David’s coverup plan.
David on the Rooftop
What was David doing on the rooftop?
In the middle of the night, he was looking for the satisfaction that only God can give.
Looking In The Fridge
So I’m awake and it’s 2:30 in the morning. And, I can’t sleep. So what do I do? I look for satisfaction in the fridge. Or I look for satisfaction on the television. Or I surf on my smartphone.
But Jesus is not in the fridge. And God only makes a rare appearance on the television. What’s more, He is infrequently found on my smartphone.
And yet, He was what I was looking for the whole time.
“You have made us for yourself, O Lord, and our heart is restless until it rests in you.” Augustine of Hippo – Confessions
Synopsis 2Sam 10:10-19 12/7/2018
King David sent the army of Israel against kingdom of Ammon. So, Joab led the army to the city of Ammon. And there he encountered not only the Ammonite army, but also Arameans forces.
The Arameans had positioned themselves in a pincer. As a result, Joad found himself trapped between the two forces. In front, the Ammonite forces who were arranged in front of their city gate. Behind him were the Aramean forces.
Joab split control of the forces with his brother Abishai. Immediately, he ordered Abishai to attack the Ammonites in the direction of their city. But Joab led the charge against the Arameans.
Joab was successful. And the Arameans fled. When the Ammonites saw that the Arameans had quit, they quickly retreated to the walls of their city. As a result, the Arameans suddenly recognized they were subject to attack. So they mustered all their forces. In response, David led the entire Israelite army to a great victory by defeating the Arameans on the battle field.
Joab Lived in the Present
The Ammonites and Arameans had surrounded Joab with a large army of enemy soldiers. He recognized the danger. But he didn’t show fear. He trusted in God. Made a plan. And attacked with all his might.
You Were Made to Be Fearless
I like to make the distinction between fear and anxiety. Fear is the brain response I feel when something poses an imminent threat to my life or my body. And anxiety is a similar brain response that happens in the absence of an actual threat.
But no matter, I wasn’t made to be afraid.
God did not intend that I should live in fear.
Of course, trust is the antidote for debilitating fear – or anxiety. Especially anxiety.
And this is what creates the peculiar advantage available to Christ-followers. You don’t have to be afraid. If you love Him, then Jesus really does have you. And when you trust Him, you can lay that fear down. And when the fear response of your brain isn’t dominating your mental life – everything else works like it was intended.
“Though an army encamp against me, my heart does not fear; Though war be waged against me, even then do I trust.” Psalm 27:3
Synopsis 2Sam 10:1-9 12/06/2018
David was king over Israel. One day, David received the report that Nahash, king of the Ammonites, had died. David was found of the old king because he had been kind to David. So, he sent a contingent to console Hanun, the king’s son and heir.
But Hanun was suspicious. So, he had David’s emissaries stripped and partially shaved to humiliate them. Hanun’s act deeply insulted King David. And soon enough, Hanun realized that David was offended. So, he sent for support from allies to the north. These included a large combined force from Aram and Zobah.
David responded to Hanun by sending the entire army of Israel against Ammon. And he sent Joab as the general in command.
David and Hanun
For King David, it was an act of humility and respect to honor Nahash, the deceased king of Ammon.
But Hanun was under pressure. He was a brand-new king. And his advisors fomented a distrust of David. So, he felt pressure to do something that showed his strength. As a result, his pride drove him to offend the king of Israel.
Pride, Humility and Humiliation
Some things seem to never change.
How common is it for me to not want to receive help? And how common is it for me to refuse to acknowledge when I’m weak? And how common it is for me to “assume the pose” -like I’ve got everything under control.
“A defense mechanism” – I tell myself. I don’t want to feel vulnerable. More specifically, I don’t want to be vulnerable. But really, it’s a deception that I perpetrate against those I say I love.
I do these things. And yet, these are the very things that offend my friends and wreck my peace.
So, maybe it’s true. Maybe the truth really would set me free.
“Haughtiness brings humiliation, but the humble of spirit acquire honor.” Prov 29:23
Synopsis 2Sam 9:3-13 12/5/2018
King David had some time to reflect. And, it was on his heart to somehow bless Jonathan’s family, if any still remained. So, he inquired of Ziba, who appears to have been running much of Saul’s estate.
Ziba reported that Meribbaal was still alive. And he was a son of Jonathan. However, Meribbaal was crippled from a previously reported fall that took place on the day that Saul and Jonathan were killed at the battle of Mount Gilboa.
So, King David brought Meribbaal to Jerusalem. And David made provision for him to eat at the king’s table with him for the rest of his life. But he also made provision for Meribbaal by giving him all the land that had belonged to Saul.
Blessing Saul’s House
Ziba was a man with many children and servants. Although Jonathan was Saul’s first-born son, somehow Ziba had gained control over Saul’s estate. So, King David set this right. He took all the lands and gave them back to Meribbaal and charged Ziba with taking care of the lands as Meribbaal’s tenant. Of course, Ziba only agreed to this because he had no choice.
Additionally, David brought Meribbaal to Jerusalem and took care of him as though he was part of David’s family.
Friendships Are A Gift
It is wise to cultivate friendships. But it is important to remember that cultivating friendships means more that showing yourself friendly. Friendship implies affection. It hinges on mutual emotional investment and sense of personal commitment to the friend.
The disposition to be friendly can and should be developed. But a true friendship is a gift from God. It can’t be forced. It can only be received as given.
So, nurture and protect this special blessing when it comes.
“Do not give up your own friend and your father’s friend; do not resort to the house of your kindred when trouble strikes. Better a neighbor near than kin far away.” Prov 27:10
Synopsis 2Sam 8:8-9:2 12/04/2018
When Israel had defeated the armies of Zobah and Aram, David took golden shields and other plunder from them. He consecrated all the plunder that he took from Zobah and Aram unto the Lord. He did likewise with all the plunder from the other nations that he had conquered.
Toi was the king of Hamath. He had been at war with Hadadezer also. However, when he heard that King David had completely subdued Zobah, he sent a delegation to King David, with tribute. And David consecrated this money also to the Lord.
David built up his administration with wise men. Through them he provided for justice and equity in accordance with the law of Moses throughout the nation.
King David and Consecrated Plunder
David was successful. He consolidated control over all Israel. After that, he began to expand the rule and authority of Israel to include the full expanse promised to Abraham.
But he was careful not to forget God. He tithed to remember. He consecrated the spoils of war to God as a way of recognizing that God was the reason for his success.
God Gives The Power For Success
It’s been said that the real test of character comes when a person enjoys success. Will I remember who I am, and how I am, when the breaks have gone my way?
So, if today you have plenty, remember that it’s the God of all Creation who has given you the power to be successful.
“But when you have eaten and are satisfied, you must bless the LORD, your God, for the good land he has given you.” Deut 8:10
Synopsis 2Sam 7:26-8:7 12/3/2018
David finished reflecting on the goodness that God had shown. And he completed his reflection with a prayer asking God to actually do the things that had been promised.
After this, David began a time of expansion against the nations around him. In particular, he subjugated the Philistines. And he also defeated the Moabites. After this, David fought against Hadadezer, king of Zobah.
Once David had secured his seat of power in Jerusalem, he began to expand the boundaries and the influence of the Israelite nation.
Accordingly, he established dominion in the south. First, he subdued the Philistines who lived along the southwest coast. Next he defeated Moab in the southeast. Both of these nations were perennial adversaries. So, David attacked and defeated them first. And, he made these nations subject to paying annual tribute to Jerusalem.
After this, David engaged in the north with Hadadezer, king of Zobah. He defeated Zobah’s forces. And he also defeated the Aramean soldiers that came from Damascus to help Hadadezer. In the end, he brought both kingdoms under his dominion.
For David, it was a question of prioritization. He was able to expand the reach and authority of the kingdom because he had established a solid base.
If I want to live an impactful life that influences others, then I have to focus on those things that I can best control. It’s only once I have achieved that, thatI can effectively expand to new fields of endeavor.
Complete your outdoor tasks, and arrange your work in the field; afterward you can build your house.” Prov 24:27