Observations from today’s readings and today’s S-WOD, Wednesday, 16 May 18:
1. 2 Samuel 3:1 — “There was a long war between the house of Saul and the house of David. And David grew stronger and stronger, while the house of Saul became weaker and weaker.” David was anointed king, but he did not become king overnight; success did not come quickly or easily for David. Even when he seemed close to his goal, obstacles seemed to always be in the way. His situation demanded faith and perseverance. God calls us to work for what He wills in our lives.
2. 2 Samuel 3:6,7 — Ungodly ambitions are selfish, self-centered ambitions; therefore, others cannot ultimately trust an ungodly person. Sooner or later, “me” will win over “we.”
3. 2 Samuel 3:6-11 — Power struggles never end well and counter our mission of reconciliation.
4. 2 Samuel 3:6-11 — Leaders who are inspired by selfish pride and ego will be divisive leaders, abusing their powers, overstepping their bounds, betraying trusts, and abusing others. Abner was not motivated by loyalty to the house of Saul (though that was his claim), he was motivated by a quest for personal power.
5. 2 Samuel 3:14-16 — “Then David sent messengers to Ish-bosheth, Saul’s son, saying, ‘Give me my wife Michal, for whom I paid the bridal price of a hundred foreskins of the Philistines.’ And Ish-bosheth sent and took her from her husband Paltiel the son of Laish. But her husband went with her, weeping after her all the way to Bahurim. Then Abner said to him, ‘Go, return.’ And he returned.” David pursued his own rights without regard for the collateral damage inflicted upon others. David’s actions were not motivated by love but rather by pride. He demanded his rights (which also served to legitimize his claim to the throne) at the expense of compassion and grace. David broke a man’s heart to get what he wanted, and he never again had the respect of Michal, nor did Michal have respect for him. Much of the Christian life, is surrendering your rights for the sake of grace — denying self, taking up the cross (accepting persecution for the sake of grace), and truly following the selfless, sacrificial example of Jesus.
6. 2 Samuel 3:18 — Abner conveniently quoted from God’s word when it suited his own desires. He knew God’s word but ultimately did whatever he wanted to. Politicians often use God’s word to rally support for their agendas, though they might have little desire to conform to God’s word.
7. 2 Samuel 3:21 — So David sent Abner away, and he went in peace…. [Joab said] ‘You know that Abner the son of Ner came to deceive you and to know your going out and your coming in, and to know all that you are doing.'” Joab made an assumption about the motives of Abner which was not based on fact but rather on his hatred for the man who killed his brother. Joab’s counsel to his king was biased due to self-interest.
8. 2 Samuel 3:26-30 — “Joab… sent messengers after Abner, and they brought him back from the cistern of Sirah. But David did not know about it.” Joab acted upon his own self-interest, contradicting the king’s desires and intent in order to fulfill his personal vendetta against Abner. David did nothing about Joab’s insubordination, washing his hands of the whole affair. This is the beginning of a pattern of unchecked defiance which will eventually cost David his son.
9. 2 Samuel 3:29 — “May it fall upon the head of Joab and upon all his father’s house, and may the house of Joab never be without one who has a discharge or who is leprous or who holds a spindle or who falls by the sword or who lacks bread!” Despite his harsh words, David did not remove Joab as Commander of the army. He never really held him accountable. How often have you seen parents threaten and yell at their kids but never really discipline? How do those kids turn out?
10. 2 Samuel 3:36 — “And all the people took notice of it, and it pleased them, as everything that the king did pleased all the people.” It appears that David’s mourning may have merely been a show for the people.
11. 2 Samuel 3:39 – “The Lord repay the evildoer according to his wickedness!” David declared Joab guilty of murder but did not punish Joab in accordance with the law. Essentially, Joab became above the law because of his value to David, a double standard was set counter to justice. David would later use that same double standard for himself, again defying justice. God is a just God. Justice belongs to God. To honor God, we must honor justice.
12. 2 Samuel 4 — No one respects an opportunist or careerist.
13. 2 Samuel 4:1-6 — When we partner with the ungodly, we set ourselves up for pain and destruction.
14. 2 Samuel 4:12 — Again, David shows his double standard by executing the murderers of Saul’s son after having washed his hands of Joab’s crime.
15. Proverbs 16:1-3 – “The plans of the heart belong to man, but the answer of the tongue is from the LORD. All the ways of a man are pure in his own eyes, but the LORD weighs the spirit. Commit your work to the LORD, and your plans will be established.” If your plans aren’t God’s plans for your life, they are doomed to fail.
16. Proverbs 16:6 — “By steadfast love and faithfulness iniquity is atoned for, and by the fear of the LORD one turns away from evil.” The proof of your repentance is no longer desiring in your heart to continue in sin and by your changed behavior.
17. Proverbs 16:4 – “The Lord has made everything for its purpose, even the wicked for the day of trouble.” God has a plan for everything.
18. Proverbs 16:6 – “By steadfast love and faithfulness iniquity is atoned for, and by the fear of the Lord one turns away from evil.” The better our perspective of God, the easier it is to turn away from evil.
19. Proverbs 16:32 – “Whoever is slow to anger is better than the mighty, and he who rules his spirit than he who takes a city.” The key to real strength is self-control.
20. Proverbs 16:33 — “The lot is cast into the lap, but its every decision is from the LORD.” Nothing is left to chance.
21. 1 Corinthians 10:4, 5 – “For they drank from the spiritual Rock that followed them, and the Rock was Christ. Nevertheless, with most of them God was not pleased, for they were overthrown in the wilderness.” Believing in God is not the same as following God, not the same as being a disciple. We are called to make disciples, not merely believers. James says that even the demons believe in God. Love of God naturally produces obedience to God. God is never pleased with disobedience and doesn’t just accept it as ok. Grace is not a license to sin; it is the power to obey in love rather than in fear and obligation.
22. 1 Corinthians 10:6-22 — “Now these things took place as examples for us, that we might not desire evil as they did…. We must not indulge in sexual immorality…. We must not put Christ to the test… nor grumble…. Therefore let anyone who thinks that he stands take heed lest he fall. No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it…. Therefore, my beloved, flee from idolatry…. You cannot drink the cup of the Lord and the cup of demons. You cannot partake of the table of the Lord and the table of demons. Shall we provoke the Lord to jealousy? Are we stronger than he?” The entire Bible not only warns us to flee from sin but also reminds us that, through Christ, we are no longer slaves to sin. We like to make excuses for our sin and claim that we “can’t help it” or “can’t control ourselves.” Some will even go so far as to proclaim that, “God understands.” However, the Bible points out that there is no temptation to which we can’t say “No.” The problem is not that we can’t say no to sin, it is that we really don’t want to say no – we choose our desires over what God commands; this is idolatry (placing something ahead of God). The Bible warns us, not to avoid idolatry, but to “flee from idolatry.” We must actively avoid all sin before it becomes tempting to us. We can’t be in fellowship with the Lord and with sin at the same time. As Jesus said, “Whoever is not with me is against me, and whoever does not gather with me scatters (Luke 11:23).”
23. 1 Corinthians 10:7-10 — All sins (defiance of God’s will) from sexual immorality to grumbling, reveal rebellion in our hearts against the LORD-ship of God; they reveal a lack of love and render us guilty of the Greatest Commandment. This is idolatry, placing something ahead of God in our lives.
24. 1 Corinthians 10:11 — “Now these things happened to them as an example, but they were written down for our instruction, on whom the end of the ages has come.” The Old Testament stories were recorded for our instruction. Dig deep into the Old Testament (which was quoted by Jesus regularly), and learn all that God wants to reveal to you.
25. 1 Corinthians 10:13 — “No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it.” Again, your temptations are no greater than those of others. You have the ability to resist if you want to.
26. 1 Corinthians 10:14-17 — The blood of Christ SHOULD compel us to flee from all sin in our gratitude for the blessing bestowed upon us. It SHOULD compel us to likewise bless others.
27. 1 Corinthians 10:21, 22 — We cannot love both God and the world. We cannot walk with God and continue to sin. Just as a married person cannot continue in sexual relations with others, the bride of Christ must be set apart as holy.
28. 1 Corinthians 10:23 — “’All things are lawful,’ but not all things are helpful. ‘All things are lawful,’ but not all things build up.” You can act within the bounds of the law concerning a matter and still be immoral by doing “legal” things that will hurt others. In this case, you would be breaking the ultimate law of love. We must consider how our actions hurt others. We must remain on the mission of reconciliation.
29. 1 Corinthians 10:24 — “Let no one seek his own good, but the good of his neighbor.” We are called to do the most good for the most people, not what is best for us.
30. 1 Corinthians 10:32, 33 — “Give no offense…. please everyone…. not seeking [your] own advantage, but that of many, that they may be saved.” Don’t let your behavior stand in the way of the message of Christ. Beyond our actions, our motive must always be love. Doing the right things with the wrong motives is sin for you.
“Cross” Fit S-WOD (Spiritual Workout of the Day) – 16 May: Today, take time to truly consider the motives behind your actions. Were you motivated by fear, hope for reward, a sense of obligation, or by the greatest motivation of genuine, unconditional love? God calls us to be motivated by love, not just duty, and definitely not fear, pride, or greed. (1 Corinthians 10:31-33) Deny self, proclaim Christ. (1 Corinthians 10:24-33) Journal how many times you resist the temptation to defend yourself and how many times you proclaim “Jesus Christ” to others.