Synopsis 1Kings 1:5-15 2/15/2109
Adonijah was the son of Haggith. On the basis of birth order, he considered himself heir to the throne of his father King David.
As a result, he adopted behaviors very much like his brother Absalom had done before him. He surrounded himself with a “reintue” of people and the trappings of royal splendor. In this sense, he was attempting to “speak” his election as king into existence. He was lobbying and positioning. He was politically aware.
And to this end, Adonijah cultivated favor with the power brokers of that time, who supported his father’s kingdom. So, unlike Absalom, he deliberately developed advantageous relationships with both Joab and Abiathar. He won the support of the general of the army and the High Priest of the Lord. And none of it was happenstance. For, he specifically built this network of relationships in order to assure he inherited his father’s crown.
As a result, there is little evidence that Adonijah was interested in ruling his people well. And, unfortunately, there is a great deal of evidence to suggest he wanted the throne primarily to aggrandize himself.
Adonijah the Entitled
Adonijah viewed the throne as an inherited right. In this sense, he felt like the throne and the kingdom belonged to him. And from his perspective, the title of “king”, also rightfully belonged to him. In this way, he exactly expressed the “entitlement mentality”, that we moderns
so easily deride in our own time.
This way of thinking didn’t start with modern, poor people who over-rely on the government social safety net. It began here, with rich and demanding and irresponsible royal children. “Entitlement” means – the anticipation of certain privileges on the basis of an inherited title.
Entitlement in God’s Economy
God gives kingdoms and material resources to people in accordance with their respective capacity to create value and share it with others.
And this is God’s economy. Expressed through scripture, it’s God’s way of thinking about the appropriate use of resources.
Sure, God wants to fill your life with all sorts of good things. But His view isn’t to give resources just so a person can live a decadent life of value extraction and consumption.
He’s not going to give me a new house, or a new car, or a handsome spouse, or children, or any other material thing that I dream of, unless it increases my capacity to bless others.
“Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and decay destroy, and thieves break in and steal. But store up treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor decay destroys, nor thieves break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there also will your heart be.” Matt 6:19-21
Synopsis 2Sam 24:22-1Kings 1:4 2/13/2019
In accordance with the word of the Lord, David went to Araunah’s threshing floor. Once there, he purchased the place, along with the animals and yoke. He built an altar there. And then he offered the oxen in sacrifice.
David aged. As he did, he became feeble. And he had trouble keeping his body warm. So, his servants proposed finding him a nurse. Having David’s permission, they conducted a search for a beautiful, young woman who could nurse David and keep the king warm in the night.
So, they found Abishag, a Shunamite woman. And she served the king.
Abishag and David
Abishag was a young woman from a small town. She came from an unremarkable tribe. And, there is no reason to think she had any ambition to become part of the king’s court.
So, David’s servants searched the whole of Israel for a nurse. And Abishag is who they found.
But this wasn’t part of her life plan. Her anticipation was probably like that of her mother and her sisters. Accordingly, she expected to be given in marriage. And she hoped the marriage would produce children.
So, taking the job as the king’s nurse wasn’t actually a solid career move. It was an act of mercy and kindness to a dying old man.
Active Ministry is Practical Ministry
I sometimes struggle with how to serve. It may sound strange, but I look for opportunities. And I pray that God would show me how best to meet the challenges of this age. The problem is, I want my service to be meaningful – to have real impact. And, I want to feel good about all this.
But somehow, I have this creeping suspicion that God’s agenda is different than mine.
“And whoever does not provide for relatives and especially family members has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever.” 1Tim 5:8
Synopsis 2Sam 24:15-21 2/13/2019
Gad had conveyed a grave choice from the Lord. Because of the sin of counting the people, David had to choose between three years of famine, three months of enemy pursuit or three days of plague. And David chose the plague.
So the plague began. And in the end, it killed seventy thousand people. But God repented of the plague before the three days were actually up. He ordered the plague angel to cease. And the angel stopped in a particular location outside of Jerusalem. The place was a threshing floor.
So, David went to the threshing floor with the intention of building an altar there, in accordance with Gad’s word from the Lord.
The Threshing Floor of Araunah
David knew difficulty throughout his life. And despite his own moral failures – despite his own sins, David grew through his experiences.
So, Araunah’s threshing floor represented both aspects of growth. It represented God’s faithfulness in a storm of chaos. And, it represented David’s acknowledgement of God’s mercy and purpose in an altar.
And so, this episode was simultaneously an effective moment of grace and a memorializing of God’s same grace. These are elements of a sacramentel moment.
Suffering, Fear and Chaos
This is the stuff of growth. My faith grows in suffering, fear and chaos.
So, embracing these is embracing my own formation. But avoiding them has the opposite effect.
“Consider it all joy, my brothers, when you encounter various trials, for you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. And let perseverance be perfect, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.” James 1:2-4
Synopsis 2Sam 24:4-14 2/12/2019
At David’s command, Joab toured the entire kingdom of Israel. And after ten months, he completed the census journey.
Following the completion of his tour, he reported to King David the results. According to his count, there were eight hundred thousand men in Israel. And there were five hundred thousand men in Judah. And all of these were capable of fighting for the kingdom.
David immediately felt regret for having counted the people. And, he realized that he had incurred God’s wrath even before the prophet Gad came to him. But when the prophet came, he described three choices of punishment from the Lord.
Of these, David took the punishment which seemed to him most likely to preserve him in a proximate relationship with God.
David Chose the Mercy of God
David chose the form of punishment that kept him most proximate to God. And, he chose against a form of punishment that would leave his fate in the hands of merciless men.
There is a certain irony in David’s decision. For he knew that men. And though one might expect men to band together in solidarity during hard times, David recognized that men were actually untrustworthy in this regard.
Conversely, he knew God. And so, he knew that would be merciful. What’s more, he knew that God was so faithful that he could trust in His mercy more than anything.
I Will Chose the Mercy of God
I’m always tempted to solve my own problems on my own terms. So, when I’ve sinned, I’m often tempted to solve the problem of my sin on my own. And so, I try to mitigate my sins through my own efforts.
For example; I did some bad,…so I’ll do some good to compensate. I abused a friend,…so I’ll be nice to a stranger to help mitigate my sense of guilt and shame.
But it’s not really the same as seeking the mercy of God. In fact, it’s a denial of God’s creative authority over my life. And the effect of that denial tends to transcend the moments of my “Do-It-Yourself” absolution.
Of course, like a thoughtful parent, God is patient. But, He can afford to be. For He knows I can’t really do this myself.
So in the sacrament, I learn slowly the meaning of falling on the rock, before the rock crushes me.
“The one who falls on this stone will be dashed to pieces; and it will crush anyone on whom it falls.” Matt 21:44
Synopsis 2Samuel 23:24:24:3 2/11/2019
The writer recorded the names and heritage of each of “The Thirty”. These were David’s mighty men who fought with him valiantly even before he became king over Israel.
At some time in his reign, David was moved to count the people of Israel in a census. So, he ordered Joab to tour the land and count the people.
However, Joab was reluctant. He seemed to intuit that a census was contrary to God’s purposes. So, he attempted to discourage David. But David refused Joab. And so, he did not change his mind.
David’s Motive for Census
David’s motive for taking a census of the people was to ascertain the number of prospective warriors in his kingdom. But taking a census tends to de-narrativize the people. It made David look at the people from the perspective of how they could support his military campaigns.
And this was contrary to the way that God operated in David’s life. Prior to the numbering census, David simply trusted God to bring the resources necessary to accomplish whatever task was at hand. But in this example, David wasn’t looking to accomplish anything. Instead, like the rich farmer in Jesus’ parable, he was trying to decide what to do with the almost unimagineable resources available to him.
Focusing Beyond the Object
There is a certain wonder about this for modern readers. The modern tendency is to ask, “What could be wrong with wanting to know the number of people in the land?” The answer is in the way a census makes the king think about his people. A census numbers the people. In other words, it reduces the people to a mere number. It de-humanizes the people. And, it objectifies the people.
And God’s people weren’t created so that one person should deny the humanity of another person. Instead, the children of Israel were to be a community of human and divine affirmation.
This is a problem in my life. I am affected by the tendency to objectify other people. Maybe my challenge isn’t with objectifying women for personal gratification. But I objectify none-the-less whenever I look at the other person in some situation merely from the perspective of what they can do for me.
The way of listening is a form of love for others. It means that I deliberately slowdown in my dealings with others. It means that I listen. And in listening, I come to discover that the other person is just that – a person. Each one I encounter has a story. And each one has hopes and dreams and desires for their life.
And when I do that, I focus beyond the object that I’ve created. Suddenly, I get back to the person who was always there.
“If you see a thief, you run with him; with adulterers you throw in your lot. You give your mouth free rein for evil; you yoke your tongue to deceit. And you sit and speak against your brother, slandering your mother’s son. When you do these things should I be silent? Do you think that I am like you? I accuse you, I lay out the matter before your eyes” Psalm 50:18-21
Synopsis 2Sam 23:16-23 2/8/2019
As David prepared for death, he and the people recounted the exploits of his mighty men. Once, while living in the wilderness, David had a craving. He wanted water from the cistern outside his hometown. But Philistine soldiers were garrisoned there. So, he could not visit.
Amongst all of David’s early followers in the wilderness were two special groups. “The Three” and “The Thirty”. Members of the “The Three’ once heard David express this desire for a cup of water from Bethlehem. So, they made their way behind the enemy forces and drew some water for him. However, when they brought the water for him to drink, he refused to drink it.
Abishai and Benaiah similarly made a name for themselves through their extraordinary military exploits. These two were part of “The Thirty”. In fact, Abishai was the leader of “The Thirty”. But even so, the scripture carefully distinguishes that even these exploits were not comparable to those of the elite “Three”.
The Water of “The Three”
“The Three” made their way through enemy lines to bring David the desire of his heart. He wanted water. He wanted the water he remembered from his childhood. And so, these men risked their lives to satisfy this desire.
But David could not accept the gift. Something had happened to the water. As desirable and delicious as it would have been for David to drink, the container now carried in it more than just a special taste. For David, it carried the life of the people who risked everything to bring it.
And, according to scripture, the life of any person is in the person’s blood. So, as David saw it, the water was no longer only water, but blood. It was the blood these valiant friends were willing to risk for David’s sake.
But David also understood that this was not his to take. Under the Law of Moses, God forbade the consumption of blood. And this, because life is essentially holy and sacred. It was not David’s to receive. The life, no matter how freely given, belonged only to God. It could only belong to God. And so, David gave it back to God, by pouring out the water on the ground, as a sacrifice of blood.
And “The Three” were not offended at the waste of their effort. For, they recognized that their love for David had had its effect.
Lord I Am Not Worthy
A man once said to me, “I do not have the right to consume the life, the blood, of another person. This is, in fact, an abomination to the Lord.”
He talked about how he often felt a certain revulsion. “The thought of consuming the blood of another is repulsive,” he said, “Not merely because of the horrible ickyness of it. But rather because the life is in the blood. I can have no legitimate claim on the life of another – let alone the Holy One of Israel.”
And I felt that. So, I silently asked the Lord, “How can I share in your life? How can I, a miserable sinner, participate in your righteousness? What share could I possibly have with the Holy One of Israel?”
And then I heard, “Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood remains in me and I in him.”
And so, I pass through the revulsion. Like air in my lungs, this one thing matters. And so I say, “Lord, I am not worthy that you should enter under my roof – but only say the word and I shall be healed.”
And I am healed.
“Lord, I am not worthy…” Matt 8:8
Synopsis 2Sam 23:6-14 2/7/2019
King David had a group of loyal men who had gained renown for their military exploits. The people memorialized them for their glorious deeds.
This was apparently a small group of men number just over thirty. These men were memorialized in two groups. First in mention and in accomplishment was the group of three. Ishbaal, son of Hachamoni, was the chief of the three. The other two were Eleazar, the son of Dodo, the Ahohite and Shammah, son of Agee the Hararite.
Each of the “Three” had accomplished a remarkable feat in battle.
The Glory of the Three
Three men distinguished themselves so completely that they became known as “The Three”. And, according to the scriptures, the glory of the “Three” was incomparable.
God’s Glory in Me
But what is glory anyway?
A person, or even a thing, is glorious by virtue of how it expresses the wisdom that causes it. So, the purer the expression and the better the wisdom, the more glorious the example.
“I am the vine, you are the branches. Whoever remains in me and I in him will bear much fruit, because without me you can do nothing.” John 15:5
Synopsis 2Sam 22:44-23:5 2/6/2019
David wrote as a poet. And in this psalm of praise, he noted how God had made his life victorious. For through his life, God had brought peace to the people. What’s more, David saw God as utterly dependable and absolutely unchanging – like a rock.
As David prepared for his own death, he once more reflected on God’s goodness. In this way, he observed how God had anointed him with purpose. And he remembered how God had supported him throughout his ministry because David had ruled justly.
David’s lived a life of vulnerability. Although he was a great king, he rejected a life of ease. He knew great challenges. And he knew great successes. But he also knew failures, disappointments and even extraordinary tragedy.
And yet, throughout his life he lived victoriously. At the end, he was the victor. In God’s care, he was never vanquished.
And that’s the place to live. God has given me everything for life and for Godliness. So, I can’t really fail.
So, don’t you forget: You can’t fail.
I will walk in victory.
In Christ, no one vanquishes the Lord’s anointed.
“No, in all these things we conquer overwhelmingly through him who loved us.” Rom 8:37
Synopsis 2Sam 22:25-43 2/4/2019
David wrote this psalm of praise. It was a reflection on the nature of God.
God was perceived and experienced one way by people who loved Him and trusted Him. But he was experienced differently by people who did not. So, according to David’s experience, a faithful person would find God faithful. But a perverse person might find God to be “devious”.
Another aspect of David’s reflection was the way God prepared and intervened in David’s life. It was God, according to David, who not only protected him, but also trained him to be effective in his ministry.
The God of Training
David once wrote, “Blessed be the Lord…who teaches my hands to war.” The king understood that God invested wisdom into the lives of people through experience. So, for him, everything was training. He was always learning.
And because he loved God, he trusted in whatever lesson God was working to teach him.
Way of Learning
David’s approach is a good example of the way of learning.
I learn from experience. And this process is both synthetic (it produces new knowledge based on previous knowledge) and systematic (it has predictable outcomes). So, it follows that wisdom will proceed naturally if I am open to learning in the way that God chooses to teach.
From your judgments I do not turn, for you have instructed me.” Psalm 119:102
Synopsis 2Sam 22:6-24 2/1/2019
King David was a poet and a warrior. So, he wrote figuratively of how God responded to his cries for help. He described the unleashing of God’s power as a fury of thunder and lightning. And he described the manner of God’s salvation from distressing circumstances in terms of the very forces of nature.
The Emotion of David
David knew the power of God through the extraordinary circumstances of his life. As a result, his experience of God’s faithfulness naturally stoked his positive affections for God.
In his writing, David represented the emotions he ascribed to both God and himself with powerful contrasts. For David, God’s burning desire to save him from difficulties was like the rushing wind, or burning fire, or fierce lightening. All of these things cause human beings intense feelings of fear or awe. Conversely, he described the places of God’s salvation as “open” or “on-high” – meaning above the fray. And these metaphorically described the sense of safety and protection and peace.
Affection, Emotion and Behavior
Powerful emotions drive human action. Of course, emotional energy is a response to the value (or disvalue) of my circumstances.
This is the things to remember: It’s the way I interpret my affections that determines whether I love, hate, desire or feel offended by my circumstances. My affections drive my emotions which in-turn drive my behavior.
This is why examining my heart requires reconciling my affections against what is actually true, or what is really good, or what essentially beautiful.
“Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is gracious, if there is any excellence and if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things” Phil 4:8