Synopsis 2Sam 7:15-25 11/29/2018
God promised that David and his descendants would rule on the throne forever. And King David was struck with an overwhelming sense of gratitude.
King David the Grateful
David practiced gratitude. In fact, he almost always practiced gratitude. When he was being chased around the desert wilderness, he practiced gratitude. And when he killed the giant Goliath, he practiced gratitude. In the same way, when his family was saved from Amorite raiders at Ziklag, he practiced gratitude.
But on the day when God promised David that his throne should remain forever, he didn’t practice gratitude. He couldn’t chose it. Instead, David was overwhelmed with gratitude.
Gratitude Begets Gratitude
Look, there is no rule that says I must be grateful. Clearly, I have alternatives:
I could hang on to my childish entitlement – thinking that I’m owed something. And then I’d cultivate a disposition to be disappointed every time things didn’t go exactly my way.
Or I can practice gratefulness – even when I don’t feel grateful. And if I do, then eventually my eyes will open to the reality that I have been ridiculously blessed. And when that moment comes, I’ll feel the gratitude of King David. I’ll feel a sense of gratitude that transcends any choice to be grateful, or not.
Synopsis 2Sam 7:4-14 11/28/2018
David lived in the new capital city of Jerusalem. And at this time, Israel was at peace with all the nations around them. So, David began to reflect on the fact that he lived in an extravagant palace but that the Ark of God dwelt in a tent.
As a result, David inquired of Nathan the prophet, who initially encouraged him to build a temple. But then the word of the Lord came to Nathan. And in this revelation, God made clear that He did not need a house to dwell in. He reminded David that he had started as a lowly shepherd. And he made clear that God alone had seen David through all the trials and challenges of his life – not the other way around.
God went on to promise a future peace for Israel. And he promised that David’s line would reign forever on the throne of Israel. He promised there would be a certain son of David, whom God would personally call “son”. And that man would call God – “my father”. And it would be this son who would ultimately build a house for God to dwell in.
God’s Promise To David
David’s heart was for God. So he always looked to know what was best for God. And even though God made it clear that David was wholly dependent on God for every good thing in his life, God saw that David’s desires were honorable. So, it was written of David, that he was “a man after my own heart”.
Because of this, God made promises to David. Among these he promised that one of David’s heirs “would be a son” of God. And this one would call God, “Father”. Accordingly, it would be this son of David who would ultimately build a house for God to dwell in.
And David received these promises as gifts given.
God’s Promise To You
So I come to this story as a Christ-follower. And I find the fulfillment of this prophecy in Jesus. Additionally, I find in Jesus this promise that I might dwell with the Father through the Son.
And so Jesus said, “This is how you are to pray: Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name,” (Matt 6:9)
It is in this moment that I realize that God’s promise to David was also a promise to me. And I realize that God in Jesus has made me an heir to this throne of grace and glory. And I realize that my life is full of all the meaning and purpose of David’s life.
For this reason, I realize that I too was born to be a man after God’s own heart.
“Then he removed him and raised up David as their king; of him he testified, ‘I have found David, son of Jesse, a man after my own heart; he will carry out my every wish.’” Acts 13:22
Synopsis 2Sam 6:17-7:3 11/26/2018
David led the procession that brought the Ark of God into Jerusalem. And, once the ark was installed in its tent, David provided a portion of food for every man and women in the city. So together, the Israelites rejoiced in their new capital.
But Michal hated David. During the procession, she felt he acted without a sense of dignity. So, she despised the abandoned way he danced in the procession before the Ark of God. But when she mocked him, he defended himself. Specifically, he reminded her that God had chosen him to lead Israel over her father and his house. Accordingly, it was no surprise that Michal went on to die childless.
Meanwhile, David and all Israel entered into a period of peace with all of the nations surrounding it. And so, David began to imagine building a temple building for the Lord where the ark could remain. And initially the prophet Nathan encouraged David in his plan.
David Abandoned Himself To God
David was unconcerned about the way in which people saw him. That’s why he worshipped God by dancing “with all his strength”. Additionally, he offered bountiful sacrifices. So, he did not focus on his “personal dignity” because he focused entirely on pleasing God.
His focus on worshipping God made him indifferent to anyone who might disparage his display of affection. And in the same way, his abandon to God gave others the freedom to also fearlessly praise God.
Abandoned To God
So, God called me to abandon myself to Jesus. He wants me “Sold out”.
I was born to be fearless no matter what others will think. I was born to honestly testify of how I find God’s goodness in prayer. I’m called to share the good news, especially with my self-assured, well-educated friends who need to know that faith can be intellectually fearless and even unassailable.
God has called me to praise Jesus – even at mass. Yes, even at mass. The God of all Creation invites me to raise holy hands and worship in His True Presence. So, I will not be cowed into a staid and sanitized caricature of authentic worship. I will no longer spend my hour with God daydreaming about afternoon dinner and my upcoming, favorite television program. Like David, I will praise Jesus with my whole being in each of the moments of mass.
“Am I now currying favor with human beings or God? Or am I seeking to please people? If I were still trying to please people, I would not be a slave of Christ” Gal 1:10
Synopsis 2Sam 6:6-16 11/26/2018
David longed to bring the presence of God to Jerusalem. So, he made provisions to transport the ark of God to his new capital city. He and the priests began transporting the Ark on a cart drawn by oxen. This was the way that the Philistines had sent back the Ark after its capture decades earlier.
Along the way to Jerusalem, a priest named Uzzah saw the Ark beginning to tip. So, he reached out and touched it. His intent was to steady it. But tragically, God immediately struck him dead. This confounded and frustrated King David. And uncharacteristically, David began to feel afraid of God. He stopped the procession and left the ark at the house of a man named Obed-edom.
But, the presence of God brought blessings to Obed-edom. And, after several months, David heard about the blessings and decided to try again. This time, he followed the prescription of the law of Moses and transported the Ark with the priests carrying it. Finally, he successfully brought the Ark to Jerusalem.
David Was Teachable
David had an agenda. He wanted the Ark of God in Jerusalem. And he was frustrated and angry when things didn’t go the way he wanted. David is shown to be very human in this regard. He showed his frustration. And in his frustration, he even quit the situation entirely.
But David was teachable. When the report came back that blessings had descended on the house of Obed-edom, David realized that God wasn’t angry with him. Instead, something else was the matter. And so, he led the priests in a second effort that proved to be successful.
I Must Remain Teachable
It isn’t necessarily easy to be teachable. And this is all the more true for someone who has enjoyed great success. In fact, it takes real, overt effort to evaluate circumstances and remain open to improving my processes. It takes commitment to honestly judge my outcomes and accept responsibility for my failures.
But if I do, then a whole new world of improvement becomes available to me.
“If we say, “We are without sin,” we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.” 1John 1:8
Synopsis 2Sam 5:17-6:5 11/23/2018
The Philistines were relatively content with a divided Israel. So, when David consolidated the kingdom under his authority, the Philistines reacted quickly. They marched deep into Israel in the valley of Rephaim.
David inquired from God whether or not to attack. And God replied that he should attack. So, he hit the Philistine formation in the center and went through them “just as water breaks through a dam”. According to the battle report, the Philistines were so soundly defeated that they abandoned their gods which were taken up as plunder.
Once again, the Philistines attacked. Once again David inquired of God how to respond. Based on God’s directions, David flanked the Philistine formation. And so, he once again routed their army, pushing them back to their traditional boundaries along the coast.
It was after this that David was inspired to bring the Ark of God up to Jerusalem. And so, he began the process of moving the Ark.
David King of Israel Was Attacked
The Philistines seemed content with a divided Israel. From their perspective, Israel under King Ishbaal was apparently not threatening. And even King David as king over the tribe of Judah was apparently a manageable situation. But David as king of all Israel was a provocation. The Philistines felt they had to immediately respond to the threat of a newly empowered kingdom under David.
You Will Be Attacked
Following God has its effect. The spirit of God changes things. It changes me.
It makes me confident even when I’ve never been that confident. And it energizes me to action even when I’ve never been that aggressive. It satisfies my need for purpose and clear direction in life, especially when I’ve wandered aimlessly up until this time.
But changes in me mean changes in the relationships around me. And so, change in me threatens the status quo.
And the status quo reacts.
The status quo wants things to remain the same. Which means, it wants me to remain the same. And this becomes the basis for attack. It’s never a question of “if”. The status quo must attack every effort to change. It must resist every effort to make things better. This is the inertial nature of keeping things the way they have always been.
God has a plan for you to overcome the status quo relationships in your life. Ask Him.
“So whoever is in Christ is a new creation: the old things have passed away; behold, new things have come.” 2Cor 5:17
Synopsis 2Sam 5:3-16 11/23/2018
The elders of Israel came to David where he lived in Hebron. He was already king over the tribe of Judah. But now, the elders asked him to rule over all of Israel. So, David made a covenant with the elders. And he became king over all Israel. In this way, he ruled for a total of forty years.
At that time, Jerusalem was an important and centralized city on the border between the tribal boundaries of Judah and Benjamin – the only two tribes to have produced a king. But dating back from the time of Joshua, the Israelites had never been able to capture the city from the Jebusites who lived there.
So, almost immediately David went to Jerusalem to capture it. David intended to make something new. Jerusalem would be a new capital for a new kingdom. And, although the Jebusites remained defiant, David attacked them and displaced them. He took the city and set up his home in the main fortress.
David built up the city with new fortifications. He built a new palace for his family. And he took more wives and concubines in order to build up the size of his family.
David Went From Strength to Strength
There was real power in becoming king over all Israel. Being king came with the power to rule the entire army of Israel. And it came with the power to tax the people. And, it also came with the power to press people into general service work.
All of these things could easily be abused. For example, a king could indulge himself and descend into hedonism. Alternatively, a king could squander his power on military adventures. Or, he could waste his power seeking fame and notoriety.
But David recognized that God had promised to make him king over Israel. So he invested his new powers into consolidating his throne. And he believed that his throne should become the beginning of a dynasty. Accordingly, he understood that the nation needed a capital that was more than simply the king’s home town. And he needed a family that was robust in size.
His intention was to make Jerusalem, and the house of David, an indestructible institution that would lead the kingdom forever. And so he chose the path that led from strength to strength. He invested and gained a return on his investment.
Called From Strength To Strength
God has gifted every person in some unique way. And God has created every person with some potential for faith. And He has given each person some basic capacity to love. These are the beginnings of my strength.
So, my purpose is to go from strength to strength.
“His master said to him, ‘Well done, my good and faithful servant. Since you were faithful in small matters, I will give you great responsibilities. Come, share your master’s joy.’” Matt 25:21
Synopsis 2Sam 4:5-5:2 11/21/2018
Ishbaal was the king of Israel after his father Saul. Among his many workers, there were two whose names were Rechab and Baanah. Their heritage descended from the city of Beeroth. The people of this city seem to have been assimilated into the tribe of Benjamin.
Rechab and Baanah killed Ishbaal while he slept in his own house. Expecting a reward, they then took his head and travelled to David in Hebron. When they presented Ishbaal’s head to David, he mourned Ishbaal’s death and executed Rechab and Baanah for the murder they had committed. And then David buried Ishbaal’s remains in Abner’s grave.
After this, the leaders of all Israel came to David in Hebron. They reminded him that when Saul was king, David was the one who led the armies of Israel to many great victories. And they acknowledged the open secret that David had been anointed king by Samuel.
David Thought Like Moses
Rechab and Baanah came to David with King Ishbaal’s head thinking that David would be pleased. And they probably thought they were in line for a great reward.
But David feared God. And David trusted God. His response to the men who came to him was, “As the Lord lives, who rescued me from every distress…” David was telling them that he didn’t need this kind of help. He didn’t intend to take the throne through unlawful, evil acts committed against innocent people. And so, he had them executed in order to purge this kind of evil from the community of Israel.
David’s inclination was to think like Moses. He was concerned about the purity of the people because the continued presence of God depended on the people remaining pure.
Thinking Like Moses
For Moses, relationship with God was everything. And anything that threatened to offend God and injure the relationship he avoided.
I have these ideas – what God intends for my life. I imagine how things will play out for me. That’s not bad. I’d even go so far as to say it’s good and right. But the danger is in thinking that anything that advances my earthly purposes is good and right.
This is how I imperil my relationship with God.
So, let the days come as they are given. If they advance what I understand to be my “purpose in life”, so be it. That’s great. But if the advances for some earthly goal come at the expense of another person, then it’s not worth it. My guilt and shame will invariably ruin my interest in making myself present before the Lord. The relationship will break.
The command is to love. The refining process I experience here is to purify my capacity to love. This is relationship with the God of Love. Nothing else that I might ever accomplish matters as much as holding dear my relationship with Jesus.
“Because zeal for your house has consumed me, I am scorned by those who scorn you.” Psalm 69:10
Synopsis 2Sam 3:32-4:4 11/21/2018
David mourned and fasted over Abner’s death. And because of his lament and public grief, all Israel knew that he was innocent. David also expressed his frustration with Joab. And he prayed for the Lord to repay Joab for his ruthlessness.
Soon enough, Ishbaal heard about Abner’s death. The news made him despondent. His mental state was so affected that the whole nation became anxious.
Ishbaal Put His Trust In Abner Alone
Ishbaal had put his trust in Abner. And he did this not without reason. Abner was a great man. He was a legendary leader in Israel. And he was the one who had actually crowned Ishbaal king in the first place.
So, it made sense that Ishbaal would seek Abner to continue to assist in leading the nation. But Ishbaal had empowered Abner beyond mere assistance. In fact, he had given over power in exchange for the prestige of the throne and the guarantee of his personal safety. His trust in Abner was an unhealthy dependency that left him helpless once Abner had died.
I Will Put My Trust In God Alone
It’s been a year of lessons for me.
People die – they don’t live forever. And when they’re gone, the role they filled in my life is unavoidably affected. And the extent to which I was relying on that other person is exposed.
It’s not just grief at the loss. Feeling the sadness is right. It’s appropriate. And it’s necessary.
But despondency and the inability to go on is more than grief. It’s a calling out. For God created me capable of meeting the challenges of my life. It’s only in my misplaced trust in another person, or in my misguided abdication of personal responsibility, that I feel vulnerable.
None of this is from God. And so I have a decision to make.
“Trust in the Lord O my soul” – it’s not a euphemism. It’s the decision I have to make.
“Thus says the LORD: Cursed is the man who trusts in human beings, who makes flesh his strength, whose heart turns away from the LORD. He is like a barren bush in the wasteland that enjoys no change of season, But stands in lava beds in the wilderness, a land, salty and uninhabited. Blessed are those who trust in the LORD; the LORD will be their trust. They are like a tree planted beside the waters that stretches out its roots to the stream: It does not fear heat when it comes, its leaves stay green; In the year of drought it shows no distress, but still produces fruit.” Jer 17:5-8
Synopsis 2Sam 3:22-31 11/20/2018
Abner decided to switch allegiance to David. David ruled as king over Judah in the city of Hebron. So, Abner met with him there. Together they formed a covenant to peacefully bring David to power over all of the tribes of Israel.
David made a celebration feast for Abner. And then, he sent him on his way to begin the process of securing the kingdom.
Just after Abner’s departure, Joab returned from a successful campaign. He had brought back a large amount of plunder to give to David. And then Joab heard that Abner had just been there. So, he asked David the purpose for the meeting. But Joab did not wait for an answer. Instead he left David. And then he sent messengers and called for Abner to return.
When Abner returned, Joab killed him. When David heard the report, he grieved. Unsurprisingly, he mourned Abner’s death. And he instructed Joab and all of Judah to do the same.
David Responded To Value Rightly
David put on sackcloth and ashes. He grieved Abner’s death. It was a bitter pill personally. But it was also a loss for the nation. And even more than that, it was contrary to what God had begun to accomplish both in Abner’s life and in the reunification of the nation. And so, he followed the bier on the way to bury Abner. He felt the loss of the general officer over the army of the Chosen People.
Rightly Responding to Value
The experience of Abner’s death remains all around. People injure and kill one another. It happens so often and in so many varied ways, that I have become numb. The television is too big. The internet is too complete. I honestly can’t take it all in. I can’t “feel it” all in. My affections are overwhelmed.
Yet, here is a fundamental Christian claim – the value is there whether I experience it or not.
Still I have a role to play. My job is to find a way to slow down and experience value as it is given.
“God looked at everything he had made, and found it very good. Evening came, and morning followed—the sixth day.” Gen 1:31
Synopsis 2Sam 2:29-3:9 11/17/2018
The two armies finally quit the fight. This concluded the battle of Gibeon. After the battle, Abner marched his troops through the night to Mahanaim, on the east side of the Jordan. Joab returned to Hebron after making a stop in Bethlehem to bury his brother Asahel.
The battle of Gibeon began a long-running war between the tribe of Judah and the tribe of Benjamin. As king, David led the forces of Judah. Likewise, Saul’s son Ishbaal was king over the northern tribes. Over the course of these years of war, David increased in power over the tribe of Judah. And he increased in popularity with all the Israelites.
Because of this, Ishbaal was generally perceived as decreasing in power. Ishbaal blamed Abner and eventually accused him of a crime. However, Abner rebuked him and vowed to no longer protect him from David’s rise.
Meanwhile, David fathered six sons with six different wives while he lived and ruled from Hebron.
David was at war with Ishbaal and Abner. But it wasn’t a total war. He did not attempt to force a final confrontation. In the same way, he did not attempt to force his reign on the northern tribes. Instead, he focused on ruling over the tribe of Judah well. And, he matched aggression with the army that remained loyal to Ishbaal and Abner.
And he waited. He didn’t move until God moved him.
Patience, Plans and Dreams
I need direction in order to succeed. So, I need the “Big Story” of my life to be fairly clear. I need to have a dream that I’m chasing. I need a sense of what God is endeavoring to accomplish in me and through me.
But I also need a plan. I need a routine of daily activity that positions me to achieve the larger dream.
Yet, even more important than either of these, I need patience. I need to be willing to allow God to deliver my dream in His time.
“I wait for the LORD, my soul waits and I hope for his word. My soul looks for the Lord more than sentinels for daybreak. More than sentinels for daybreak,” Psalm 130:5-6