Observations from today’s readings and today’s S-WOD, Thursday, 24 May 18:
1. 2 Samuel 19:1-8 – “So the victory that day was turned into mourning….” People will naturally look to leaders for encouragement, inspiration, and motivation. Leaders must be extremely careful to guard the morale of their people. It is important that leaders celebrate the victories of their teams. Don’t miss the opportunity to celebrate God’s blessings with those you have put their blood, sweat, and tears into the endeavor. Keep your personal disappointments to yourself.
2. 2 Samuel 19:3 — Leaders can’t send mixed signals.
3. 2 Samuel 19:6 — People need to know they are loved and appreciated. Leaders must communicate their gratitude.
4. 2 Samuel 19:7 — Victory can quickly turn to disaster without proper leadership. Organizations, groups, and teams are often most vulnerable immediately after a win.
5. 2 Samuel 19:23 — “And the king said to Shimei, ‘You shall not die.’ And the king gave him his oath.” This is an interesting story. When David was down, Shimei kicked him. Now Shimei wants forgiveness. David appears to give it, but later David will tell Solomon to ensure Shimei’s execution (1 Kings 2:8, 9). This event had all the outward appearance of reconciliation, but it was not genuine.
6. 2 Samuel 19:22 – “But David said, “What have I to do with you, you sons of Zeruiah, that you should this day be as an adversary to me? Shall anyone be put to death in Israel this day? For do I not know that I am this day king over Israel?” Times of celebration are not times to cause divisions or hard feelings. From a position of strength, seek reconciliation rather than revenge, thereby demonstrating Christ-like mercy and grace.
7. 2 Samuel 19:29 — In 2 Samuel 16, when David flees Jerusalem after Absalom’s conspiracy, Ziba comes to David with provisions, and claims Mephibosheth has broken faith with David. David responds by giving all that belonged to Mephibosheth to Ziba instead. Finally, in 2 Samuel 19, when David returns to Jerusalem, Mephibosheth tells David that Ziba had been lying. David responds by saying “You and Ziba shall divide the land.” David seems not to know whom to believe, but most commentators have concluded that Ziba had previously lied to David in order to make himself appear to be the only loyal subject worthy of David’s benefactions and entitled to Saul’s property. The Bible is very clear that you cannot truly and fully know another person’s heart or the true motives behind their actions. Also, you cannot know all the facts in a given situation. Sometimes we are forced to make decisions based upon limited information. In that place, we must pray and follow the principles of God’s word as closely as possible. When we must decide a case between two opposing parties with limited situational awareness, we must compromise, perhaps giving more credit than is due one of the antagonists. As long as we are operating as best we can under the principles of fairness, God will honor our decision.
8. 2 Samuel 19:35-37 — People need to recognize their strengths and weaknesses.
9. 2 Samuel 19:41-43 — Regaining unity among a divided people is very difficult if not impossible.
10. 2 Samuel 19:40-43; 20:2 — The split between North and South has deep roots in history, across many civilizations.
11. 2 Samuel 20:9, 10 — “And say to Amasa, ‘Are you not my bone and my flesh? God do so to me and more also, if you are not commander of my army from now on in place of Joab….’ (2 Samuel 19:13) “And Joab took Amasa by the beard with his right hand to kiss him. But Amasa did not observe the sword that was in Joab’s hand. So Joab struck him with it in the stomach and spilled his entrails to the ground without striking a second blow, and he died.” (2 Samuel 20:9, 10) Competence vs character — Joab was an incredibly competent warrior (perhaps the very best) with serious character flaws that proved devastating to the king. David relied on Joab due to his competence and loyalty (on Joab’s terms), but David should have removed him early on due to his lack of character which made him ultimately untrustworthy and dangerous. Perhaps David was a bit fearful of attempting to challenge Joab’s power and considered his relationship with him a necessary evil. Nonetheless, the longer David stayed with Joab, the more dependent he become on him and the more entangled he became with the consequences of Joab’s behavior. As we saw in the story of Bathsheba and Uriah, David had completely abrogated his military commandership over to Joab, likely because, in part, Joab was very forceful, competent, and uncooperative in execution. David likely felt it best to avoid conflict with Joab and to let Joab run the army. In so doing, David surrendered one of his most important roles as king, strengthened Joab’s hand, and contributed to Joab’s demand for power. Today, David seeks to reconcile with Amasa by giving Amasa Joab’s position as Commander of the Army, and Joab responds by murdering Amasa. One can only speculate about what David was thinking here, but Joab’s actions should come as no surprise. Joab demonstrated this sort of violent expediency against David’s wishes previously (E.G., Abner: 2 Samuel 3:27, and Absalom: 2 Samuel 18:14). David handled Joab poorly and it cost him dearly. We all have a tendency to admire competency and overlook character flaws in others – big mistake. Between character and competence, character must be supreme. A leader or employee MUST be good at what they do, but it is MUCH, MUCH more important that a leader or employee is a good person who can be trusted to do the right things in the right way at the right time. From BOTH character and competence, trust and confidence are earned.
12. 2 Samuel 20:10 – “But Amasa did not observe the sword that was in Joab’s hand.” You may not recognize your enemies when you meet them.
13. 2 Samuel 20:13-15 — Some tasks require a powerful, experienced leader. God may call you to be that leader even if you don’t necessarily fell like you are very powerful and experienced.
14. Proverbs 24:10 — “If you faint in the day of adversity, your strength is small.” Strength is built before you need it. Adversity reveals what you have built over time. Challenges prove what you are really made of.
15. Proverbs 24:11, 12 – “Rescue those who are being taken away to death; hold back those who are stumbling to the slaughter. If you say, ‘Behold, we did not know this,’ does not he who weighs the heart perceive it? Does not he who keeps watch over your soul know it, and will he not repay man according to his work?” We will be held accountable for not speaking out against sin.
16. Proverbs 24:16 — “…for the righteous falls seven times and rises again, but the wicked stumble in times of calamity.” Everyone falls, but God empowers His people to overcome.
17. Proverbs 24:19-20 — “Fret not yourself because of evildoers, and be not envious of the wicked, for the evil man has no future; the lamp of the wicked will be put out.” Oftentimes, the wicked seem to prosper, but God will bring all things into final judgement.
18. Proverbs 24:27 – “Prepare your work outside; get everything ready for yourself in the field, and after that build your house.” Prioritize productivity over leisure.
19. Proverbs 24:32 — “Then I saw and considered it; I looked and received instruction.” Truth is self-evident, it reveals itself. You can learn much by watching the consequences of others’ actions.
20. 1 Corinthians 16:9 – “For a great and effective door has opened to me, and there are many adversaries.” Comments from Henry T. Blackaby: “Open doors of service may also let in adversaries. Paul had many of both. As Paul wrote to the Corinthians from Ephesus, he was trying to determine where to go next. He chose to remain longer in Ephesus because of the open doors of service God granted him. Knowing that God had opened the doors of ministry, Paul was not going to leave, regardless of how many enemies he faced. We might assume that Paul would reach the opposite conclusion. In light of the opposition he faced, he could have concluded that it was best to serve in less hostile regions. Instead, Paul based his decisions on God’s activity rather than on what people were doing. As you respond to God’s invitations, don’t be caught by surprise when adversaries try to thwart what you are doing. If you concentrate on your opponents, you will be sidetracked from God’s activity. Don’t base your decisions on what people are doing. They cannot prevent you from carrying out God’s will (Rom. 8:31). Many times the most rewarding spiritual work is done in the crucible of persecution and opposition. While Paul was in Ephesus, a riot broke out in reaction to his ministry. The city theater resounded with an angry mob who shouted for two hours in support of their god, “Great is Diana of the Ephesians!” (Acts 19:23-41). Despite this fierce rejection of the gospel, Ephesus became one of the chief cities from which the gospel spread throughout Asia. It takes spiritual discernment to see beyond human activity to God’s will. As you seek places of service, look beyond what people are saying to find what God is doing.”
21. 1 Corinthians 16:13 — “Be watchful, stand firm in the faith, act like men, be strong. Let all that you do be done in love.” We have too many weak-willed Christians who act defeated. “Stand firm, act like men, be strong!”
22. 1 Corinthians 16 — Paul was committed to relationships and cared deeply about his many friends, encouraging all to support one another and to look out for each other. Relationships come first in the life of a Christian.
“Cross” Fit S-WOD (Spiritual Workout of the Day) – 24 May: Overlook all offenses today for the sake of the Gospel. When offended, respond with shocking love as a testimony to Jesus. Don’t worry about what you will lose in the situation. What you gain in Christ will be much more valuable. (Proverbs 25:7-9)