Friday, 25 April 2014

(116) April 26: 2 Samuel 13-14 & Luke 20:1-26

Ask God to open your mind, heart and will to understand, delight in and obey what you read.

To discover:­­
As you read note how David acts like the LORD.

To ponder:
Because of David’s sin with Bathsheba, God promised that he would “bring calamity” on David through his “own household” (12v11). These chapters plot just this.
Amnon is David’s firstborn and so heir. Having fallen for his half-sister Tamar, he follows the advice of his cousin, who is “shrewd” like the serpent (Gen 3v1). He then deceives David into sending Tamar to prepare food for him when pretending to be ill. As in Eden, it is in the context of this food that he does what is forbidden. But the woman this time is to be commended. Tamar pleads with him, concerned for the holiness of Israel and for Amnon’s reputation as well as herself. Yet Absalom shows no restraint in requesting marriage (although forbidden, Lev 18v11), instead just taking what he wants and so raping her, then hating her and sending her away (against Deut 22v28-29). Tamar grieves (13v19), finding shelter in her brother Absalom’s house. We’re reminded that the same traits reside in us that did in Adam and Eve, and have in every human since. For the sake of God, the reputation of the church, ourselves and of course those who might be destroyed by our sin, we should pray for the Spirit-given fruit of self control.
           At first Absalom’s response seems rather complacent, whereas David is rightly furious, but does nothing to punish Amnon. This may have contributed to Absalom then so hating Amnon. This continues for two years until he persuades his father to send Amnon and his other sons to the sheep-shearing. He then has someone kill Amnon, causing the other sons to flee. The same “shrewd” man who advised Amnon now tells David not to worry, because only Amnon would be killed due to Absalom’s hatred of him. The reappearance of this man, Jonadab, warns against those who manipulate us for their own gain.
            Absalom flees to his mother’s home (1 Chr 3v2) outside Israel for three years, and is mourned by David. David’s commander Joab then sends a woman to tell David one of her sons killed the other and to ask the king to “invoke the LORD” to prevent the avenger who could take the murdering son’s life from doing so. When David affirms this, this woman confronts him like Nathan did with his story over Bathsheba. She says not bringing Absalom back is to act “against the people of God,” and for David to “convict himself.” The stress in her story on her heir and descendents suggest Joab saw Absalom as David’s successor. Her point is therefore that David might soon die (14v14a) and his actions keep the best man from being king. However, she also rebukes David for not acting mercifully and like God, for God does not “take life” but “devises ways” so “a banished person may not remain estranged from him.” In encouraging David to act by saying he is “like an angel of God in discerning good and evil,” the point is stressed. This is a key point to the narrative. A kingly son of God who is truly like-God is ultimately needed for Israel. And of this Amnon and Absalom have actually both proved themselves unfit. Only in Christ do we see a worthy king who not only forgives his enemies but dies so the banished can be reconciled to God.
            To David’s credit, he again shows humility in accepting the rebuke and not resenting Joab’s hand in it. But although he has Absalom return, he unwisely refuses to see him, breeding resentment. As for Absalom? Although he has sons, meaning a potential dynasty, his “handsome” appearance reminds us of Saul, the kind of king the people like, not God. Moreover, he is like Samson too, petulantly setting Joab’s fields on fire for refusing to do his bidding. As Joab then petitions David and he and Absalom are fully reconciled, we might therefore expect further “calamity.”

Praying it home:
Thank God that he has made a way in Christ for the banished to come to him. Pray for self-control in the face of temptation.

Thinking further:
None today.

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