Monday, 28 April 2014

(119) April 29: 2 Samuel 19-20 & Luke 21:20-38

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

To discover:­­
As you read consider how David’s restoration is less than secure.

To ponder:
God’s favour continues to be shown as David is reconciled to his army, key opponents, and the people, and as he returns across the Jordan towards Jerusalem.
            Joab boldly rebukes David for his weeping over Absalom, turning the army’s victory “into mourning” and causing them to sneak into Mahanaim as if “ashamed.” He is clear this is humiliating the men who risked their lives for David and his family, suggesting David doesn’t care for them. Indeed, David self-absorption is putting him in danger of being abandoned by his men, bringing even greater calamity. This should rebuke us too, for being so caught up in our own woes that we fail to consider God purposes or care for others.
            David responds by sitting at the entrance to the city, and his men come before him. Meanwhile, the Israelites who fought against him realise they need to bring him back to Jerusalem. Hearing this, David asks his priests who were with Absalom as spies, to urge the elders of Judah (David’s tribe) to take the lead in this. So it seems much of Judah had stood with Absalom against him. David also has the priests tell Amasa, Absalom’s commander, that he can take Joab’s place in charge of David’s army. Both acts show favouritism to those closer to David, seeking to ensure their allegiance. But they are unwise, breeding division within Israel and hostility between commanders. David should have been seeking unity.
            As “one man” Judah sends word for David to return, and goes to bring him across the Jordan. As Shimei and then Ziba and Mephibosheth meet him, we are seeing the events of 16v1-12 reversed. Shimei begs for mercy for cursing David and is pardoned. Mephibosheth affirms he deserves nothing, submitting himself to David’s justice having explained that Ziba betrayed him. David splits the lands between the two of them, clearly uncertain which is telling the truth. These gracious responses affirm how much more we can be certain of pardon and acceptance if we return to Christ with these attitudes, no matter how we might have stood against him. David’s offer of reward to Barzillai for aiding him (19v31-37) then points to the particular reward those who faithfully serve Christ will receive (1 Cor 3v10-15).
            There is joy in the picture of David crossing the Jordan into the promised land. But all is not well. Although all the troops of Judah come, only half of Israel join them. The two groups then argue over who has the “greater claim” on David – Judah for being his tribe, or the rest of Israel because they are ten tribes and were the first to speak of bringing him back. One thinks of the disciples arguing over who would be the greatest in God’s kingdom, and missing the fact that this is seen by humility and love (Matt 18v1-6).
            Israel’s troops then display the fickleness of some who claim to follow Christ, when they “all” immediately abandon David at the call of another - Bicri. David was therefore restored to his palace only by the men of Judah, where he cared for his concubines who Absalom had slept with (their effective widowhood highlights the seriousness of Absalom’s act). David then urged Amasa to summon Judah to pursue Bicri and so stop yet another rebellion. Amasa failed however, so David commissioned Abishai to the task. Although it bred uncertainty in the army, Joab’s killing of Amasa seems right when one considers Amasa previously fought against David. This is confirmed by the events at Abel, where the people put an end to Joab’s siege by throwing down Bicri’s head. The woman who suggested it is labelled “wise.” And this is the reputation of the city (20v18), which was known as one of peace and faithfulness. Again we see punishment rightly befall those who stand against God’s king.   

Praying it home:
Thank God for his gracious readiness to reward Christian service. Pray that you would not seek worldly greatness in Christ’s kingdom, but humility and love.

Thinking further:
None today.

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