Category Archives: Sunday

Still in Babylon

Jeremiah 29:10 This is what the Lord says: “When seventy years are completed for Babylon, I will come to you and fulfill my good promise to bring you back to this place. 11 For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. 12 Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. [NIV]

>§§§>

The exile continues.  The comfort of Jeremiah 29:11 is meant to remind us of the Lords vision for our future.  That’s a treasure but in the re-reading of those familiar words over and over while continuing to ponder the sermon from Spurgeon an eye-opening expansion of my own vision has happened and this is a priceless gift.  There’s more to that beautiful promise of verse 11.  I am so thankful we have the enduring Word, work and wisdom of God given through Jesus, the Holy Spirit AND the writings of His people that can open our eyes in the midst of this contemporary pandemic. There IS a Jeremiah 29:10 and a 29:12 too.  “I will come to you and fulfill my good promise…you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you.

In Gods wisdom His vision covers the past, present and the future.  That is the priceless part we need to cling to as God uses Jeremiah to inform our vision to match His own.  “As to our present pain and grief, God saw not these things exclusively, but He saw the future joy and usefulness which will come of them. He regards not only the tearing up of the soil with the plow, but the clothing of that soil with the golden harvest.” [Spurgeon]. 

∞ Look back and thank God…Look forward and trust God ∞

Self-Isolation

Jeremiah 29:11 For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare [peace] and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope. 12 Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will hear you.

>§§§>

“I don’t know.”  That’s probably the most consistent thought in many of our minds these days.  We must act on the advice of experts but we are dealing with unknown risk levels.  No matter how much information we consume about mitigating the danger of our exposure to Corona virus it’s not enough to ease our minds completely when the time comes for one of those essential trips out of the safety of the exile of self-isolation.  Jeremiah reminds us God has a plan and Corona virus is not the only danger of our exile.

“A people in such a position as the Jews in Babylon were in danger in two ways: either to be buoyed up with false hopes, and so to fall into foolish expectations; or, to fall into despair, and have no hope at all, and so become a sullen and degraded people, who would be unfit for restoration, and unable to play the part which God ordained for them in the history of mankind.” (Spurgeon 1887).

God knows the plan even if I haven’t a clue what it is.  Exile from the familiarity of daily life has given me a new awareness I need to be equipped to play the part God has set for my restoration.  He’s given me expert advice about the one part of my future and hope I am in charge of.  I can do this one thing to be prepared even in the exile of self-isolation!   “…Call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will hear you.” 

Guaranteed Replacement Plan

17:1 Ahithophel said to Absalom, “I would choose twelve thousand men and set out tonight in pursuit of David. 2 I would attack him while he is weary and weak. I would strike him with terror, and then all the people with him will flee. I would strike down only the king 3 and bring all the people back to you. The death of the man you seek will mean the return of all; all the people will be unharmed.” 4 This plan seemed good to Absalom and to all the elders of Israel.

18:5 The king commanded Joab, Abishai and Ittai, “Be gentle with the young man Absalom for my sake.” And all the troops heard the king giving orders concerning Absalom to each of the commanders.

18:32 The king asked the Cushite, “Is the young man Absalom safe?” The Cushite replied, “May the enemies of my lord the king and all who rise up to harm you be like that young man.” 33 The king was shaken. He went up to the room over the gateway and wept. As he went, he said: “O my son Absalom! My son, my son Absalom! If only I had died instead of you—O Absalom, my son, my son!”

>§§§>

These two chapters of 2 Samuel paint a pretty clear picture of exactly what broken hearts look like.  Absalom’s heart trouble is obvious from verse 4 – ”This plan seemed good to Absalmon.”  His heart is “broken” by deceit and willingness to destroy the one person that stands between him and his selfish desire.  David’s heart is broken by recognizing the familiarity of those sins in the heart of his own son, and remembering Nathan’s painful forecast of it’s effect. [2 Samuel 12:7-12] Sin’s natural consequence is its ability to replicate itself from heart to heart, but God offers a guaranteed replacement plan for hearts that are broken:

FYI: Ezekiel 36:2 This is what the Sovereign Lord says:…26 And I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. [ESV]

Familiar?

2 Samuel 15 &16 [AMP]
15:13 Then a messenger came to David, saying, “The hearts of the men of Israel are with Absalom.” 14 David said to all his servants who were with him at Jerusalem, “Arise, let us flee, or none of us will escape from Absalom!…30 And David went up the ascent of the Mount of Olives, weeping as he went, with his head covered and walking barefoot [in despair]. And all the people who were with him covered their heads and went up, weeping as they went. 31 David was told, “Ahithophel [your counselor] is among the conspirators with Absalom.” David said, “O Lord, I pray You, turn Ahithophel’s counsel into foolishness.”

16:20 Then Absalom said to Ahithophel, “Give me your advice. What should we do?” 21 Ahithophel said to Absalom, “Go in to your father’s concubines, whom he has left behind to take care of the house; then all Israel will hear that you have made yourself odious to your father. Then the hands of all who are with you will be strengthened [by your boldness and audacity].” 22 So they pitched a tent for Absalom on the roof [of the king’s palace], and [i]Absalom went in to his father’s concubines in the sight of all Israel.

>§§§>

Reading 2 Samuel feels more like a discipline than a devotion to me.  It’s not easy. I’ve had to learn that I can only get through the sad and sometimes gruesome details with the aid of hindsight.   Hindsight and knowing what’s ahead in the New Testament are reliable markers that tie the experiences of this king to what I know about THE King – Jesus.

David has been forced to flee to the Mount of Olives.  He’s in a familiar spot in any wilderness – the unknown.   Sin has isolated him from his family and  now the nation.  It sounds remarkably like the experience of Jesus at that same spot so much later.  

David is completely dependent on the protection of “foreigners.”  The Kerethites, Pelethites, and Gittites may not have understood David was a man after God’s own heart.  They were gentiles,  but they certainly had foresight in their journey of open loyalty in support of the king.  The benefit of hindsight is to see God already at work to secure a place for other foreigners of his creation just like us.

It doesn’t take a lot of imagination to understand why tears were part of Davids journey.  He’s experiencing the betrayal of trust.  Absalom’s final violation of the honor of his father was to stage circumstances on a rooftop that must have pierced David’s heart and memory with another rooftop moment of betrayal from his own past.   He clearly recognizes God at work even in this moment of betrayal.  Sound familiar?

She Said…

2 Samuel 14:13 …“Why don’t you do as much for the people of God as you have promised to do for me? You have convicted yourself in making this decision, because you have refused to bring home your own banished son. 14 All of us must die eventually. Our lives are like water spilled out on the ground, which cannot be gathered up again. But God does not just sweep life away; instead, he devises ways to bring us back when we have been separated from him. NLT

Joab enlisted a wise woman to confront the king about his reluctance to reunite with his own son.  The two things that informed my thoughts about this passage are the importance of, and the difficulty of, personal confrontation.  My own go-to plan is to avoid it.  It’s a ridiculous plan when I logically think about it because confrontation has played a very real part in my own life of faith but in the heat of the moment my response is just like the king’s – try to ignore and escape the situation and the other person involved as well.  It’s not a pretty picture but it’s a human response the Lord of Mercy has a plan for.   I’ve named it “the wisdom of mortality.”  

The wisdom of mortality is exactly what the woman of Tekoa  spoke. “Our lives are like water spilled out on the ground, which cannot be gathered up again.”  Life doesn’t last forever and that wisdom has made a big difference to me.   God has confronted us with our separation from Him through His son, Jesus.  The twists, turns and turmoil of life are the proof that we have cracks in our hearts of stone.  [v14b] “God does not just sweep life away; instead, he devises ways to bring us back when we have been separated from him.”  The wisdom of mortality is that it’s Christ Jesus that is our critical and visible evidence that we’ve been reunited with God.

Heart-Breaking Headlines – Adultery and Murder

2 Samuel 11:1-5 It happened in the spring of the year, at the time when kings go out to battle, that David sent Joab and his servants with him, and all Israel; and they destroyed the people of Ammon and besieged Rabbah. But David remained at Jerusalem.  Then it happened one evening that David arose from his bed and walked on the roof of the king’s house. And from the roof he saw a woman bathing, and the woman was very beautiful to behold.  So David sent and inquired about the woman. And someone said, “Is this not Bathsheba, the daughter of Eliam, the wife of Uriah the Hittite?”  Then David sent messengers, and took her; and she came to him, and he lay with her, for she was cleansed from her impurity; and she returned to her house.  And the woman conceived; so she sent and told David, and said, “I am with child.” [NKJV] 

“While Joab is busy in laying siege to Rabbah, Satan is [laying seige] to David, and far sooner prevailed.” [Trapp]

God’s plan for marriage
The condition,1 the promise2 and the blessing.3

Genesis 2:24-25 For this reason a man shall leave his father and his mother.1 and be joined to his wife; and they shall become one flesh.2  And the man and his wife were both naked and were not ashamed.3
The reality of the relationship…Deuteronomy 17:17a  He must not take many wives, or his heart will be led astray.
The evidence of accumulated sin…2Sa 3:2-5 Sons were born to David in Hebron: His firstborn was Amnon by Ahinoam the Jezreelitess;  his second, Chileab, by Abigail the widow of Nabal the Carmelite; the third, Absalom the son of Maacah, the daughter of Talmai, king of Geshur;  the fourth, Adonijah the son of Haggith; the fifth, Shephatiah the son of Abital;  and the sixth, Ithream, by David’s wife Eglah. These were born to David in Hebron.

News flash! Deceit and cover up from a position of power are not new and the consequences of  sin are not normalized by repetition or by calling it by some gentler name.  How does a nation deal with the complete moral failure of its leader?  Consequences aren’t just a dismal surprise resulting from corrupt acts, they’re a given.  Heart-breaking consequences were the result for a whole family and a whole nation as a result of the accumulated sins of the very king who had captured God’s own heart.  Satan found a way to expose those accumulated sins into the tragic reality of consequences that included adultery, murder and death. 

Here’s the Good News from 2 Samuel this Sunday: God did provide for the king’s heart to remember the grace of repentance and restoration that could forgive accumulated sins even in the midst of heart-breaking circumstances.   That should sound familiar to our heart too.  God has provided for our hearts to remember the grace of repentance and restoration we have through the death of another child, His own Son.   Jesus,  is God’s provision for our hearts to find repentance and restoration in every circumstance. 

Where’s Jesus?

2 Samuel 9:7 So David said to him, “Do not fear, for I will surely show you kindness for Jonathan your father’s sake, and will restore to you all the land of Saul your grandfather; and you shall eat bread at my table continually.” [NKJV]

2 Samuel is the work of [probably] more than one prophet speaking for God to a culture dominated by the struggle for power, senseless violence, emotional rebellion and constant conflict.  That environment and the gruesome deaths of Saul and Jonathan are events that usher in this interchange between David and Jonathan’s son Mephibosheth.  I have struggled in earlier chapters of this book to see past the harsh realities it records to the connections that make 2 Samuel 9 a meaningful path to the New Testament and Christ.  I understand Mephibosheth‘s caution.  He knows only the fear he’s endured and it wasn’t good.  Sometimes reading the Old Testament feels like endurance is the only connection because applications for finding faith in daily life are hard to come by.

This week as I gave my husband my synopsis of 2 Samuel 9 he asked me an important question: where’s Jesus?  I couldn’t give an answer but I wanted one.  David’s words, “for I will surely show you kindness for the sake of your father” probably seemed too good to be true to Mephibosheth but they sound very much like the words Jesus would speak. I found this commentary by Pastor David Guzik. [click to read].   Mephibosheth knew his security and safety were dependent on his need for the grace only the king could extend to him.  Guzik finished his commentary with this.. “We are Mephibosheth…”  

We are like Mephibosheth.  We are dependent on recognizing our need for the grace of Jesus speaking those same words to us that David spoke “for I will surely show you kindness for the sake of your father.”   Recognizing need is  where I found Jesus in 2 Samuel 9 this week.