2 Samuel 9-10 B

“He said, ‘If the Arameans are too strong for me, then you shall help me, but if the sons of Ammon are too strong for you, then I will come to help you. Be strong, and let us show ourselves courageous for the sake of our people and for the cities of our God; and may the LORD do what is good in His sight.’” (10:11-12)

Never underestimate the power of unity, camaraderie, and self sacrifice. Laying down our lives and rights for our fellow man is the kingdom of God on earth.

It could seem easy enough that Joab would absolutely have his brothers back, but as we will find soon enough, family dynamics are tricky and fragile when we let in sin and selfishness.

It’s easy to be individualistic in the US, because that is our culture: independence. We lose a lot when we favor our own rights over each other’s.

How can we foster unity, camaraderie and self sacrifice in our daily lives? How can we truly love our neighbors as ourselves?

David chose to honor the son of Jonathan because of their deep affection for each other. The kings-of-that-time rule book would have killed everyone in Sauls line for sure, but instead David shows great care and honor. That came from a place of true love, and he called it “the kindness of God”.

Who can we show that kindness to today?

-Bethany

2 Samuel 7-8 B

“So David reigned over all Israel and did what was just and right for all his people.” 8:15

This is a sweet spot in history for the people of Israel. They are in good standing with the Lord, they have a godly king and are experiencing immense military success. As an American, I often feel entitled to those circumstances. But as we’ll continue reading, we’ll see nations rise and nations fall. Good kings will come and go. And God is still good.

I’m thankful that Jesus is on the ultimate throne and reigns over us perfectly! In the meanwhile, let’s pray for all the nations. For earthly kings. For the military.

“How great you are, O Sovereign Lord! There is no one like you. We have never even heard of another God like you.” 7:22

-Carly

2 Samuel 5-6 B

“When David inquired of the LORD, He said, ‘You shall not go directly up; circle around behind them and come at them in front of the balsam trees. It shall be, when you hear the sound of marching in the tops of the balsam trees, then you shall act promptly, for then the LORD will have gone out before you to strike the army of the Philistines.'” (5:23-24)

Timing–how out of our hands it is, and how trusting we have to be to know when it’s right–is everything. There are many ways we “kick against the goads” or try to take matters into our own hands. Time refuses to be grabbed by our grubby little hands.

Time can change circumstances, heal wounds, give opportunity. In these chapters we finally see David made king over all Israel. He was anointed by Samuel when he was 12. He’s 37 here. 25 years he waited for God’s timing.

“And David realized that the LORD had established him as king over Israel, and that He had exalted his kingdom for the sake of His people Israel.” (5:12)

Perhaps this realization embolden David to wait for the sound of marching on the tops of tress (?!?). At this point, he could have reflected on the crazy road of war, exile, marriages, murders and strife which led him to kingship; making a sound not the most outrageous thing he’s waited for.

Probably I keep picking up on these waiting themes, because I’m in a waiting season. Reframing my annoyance over visas and logistics to a matter of faith is good for me, this morning. What about you? What are you waiting for?

Timing is everything. Something that will be great eventually may not be good now. The LORD is a gardener and He knows when things are ripe.

-Bethany

2 Samuel 3-4 B

Woof. These are ugly chapters that highlight just how messy and sinful even great leaders can be.

This time around, I noticed Michal. She’s been jerked around by David a bit, become his wife, getting cast off to be someone else’s wife, and then pulled away again. I was so sad reading about her former husband chasing after her, weeping, as the king summoned his love away.

The author breezes over this detail, but I’m thankful it’s included in the narrative at all. It shows readers a couple things:

1. God took care of Michal. Her brothers and husband have been killed and David passed her off when he was in hiding. But she and Palti obviously created a beautiful relationship out of those circumstances. What a beautiful gift. I’m confident that God, the giver of the gift of love, comforted and cared for Palti and Michal in this circumstance. I’ve had my heart broken and broken a few myself, and I have seen God receive glory in the midst of it. I can read this story, feel sad that it happened, and be confident that God showed up. It’s not written in the story, but I know the author. He is a Good Father.

2. David is really selfish about women. We’ll see Michal resent him slowly in the next few chapters, and I can’t help but assume this is where it starts. This is the beginning of David taking who he wants, when he wants them.

What part of these chapters were hard for you? How did you respond to the text?

-Carly

2 Samuel 1-2 B

It’s crazy to me how not-in-a-hurry David is to be king. The way he seems to even love Saul is amazing. Saul hunted David for years and he is still incredibly grieved to hear of Saul’s death, he literally kills the messenger.

Then this: “The time that David was king in Hebron over the house of Judah was seven years and six months.” (2:11) He is content to be king over only Judah for a very long time. WHY?! This is contrary to most every historical reaction.

David is humble. He wonders at God’s choice of him all throughout his life.

David is trusting. If God is the One who says he will be king, it will happen, when God wants it to happen.

David is focused. His eyes are on the kingdom being built for the glory of the LORD.

Is there a promise you’re waiting to see fulfilled? Are you like Rapunzel singing “when will my life begin” in a tower? What does the waiting look like? Fretting? Entitlement? Distractions? I know those are struggles for me and they are the exact opposite of David’s humility, trust and focus.

Pray with me, today, for the LORD to cultivate these attitudes in our hearts. I want to be patient, honoring and humble. Those three things are incredibly hard to walk in consistently, but I want to grow in them.

-Bethany

1 Samuel 31 B

I love how Bethany covered this chapter our last time around. You can read her post here. (We’re trying to stay in step with our previous rhythm, so we are only covering one chapter today.)

Besides feeling devastated about how things ended for Jonathan, my attention was drawn to the men of Jabesh-gilead. They send their best warriors to retrieve the murdered and mutilated bodies of Saul and his sons, and give honor and tribute to them.

The last time we heard about the people of Jabesh was in chapter 11. Saul rescued them after they were besieged and threatened by the Ammonites (remember the eye-gauging thing?). They repay him by properly mourning his death.

I can’t put my finger on why this detail of the chapter jumps out to me. It kind of reminds me of when that wealthy guy, Joseph, gives his new tomb for Jesus’ body to be buried in after the crucifixion (Matthew 27:57).

Jonathan is in good company. Jesus was tortured and murdered, his body mistreated as an empty shell. John the Baptist was senselessly beheaded, his head served on a platter during a dinner party (Matthew 14).

A good, holy life does not ensure a good and holy death. We are all going down, one way or another, and there’s no reason to get hung up on how, when or why.

Jesus has defeated Death! It cannot permanently hold us down. Don’t let the fear of death define your life. But instead, fix your attention on the Giver of Life.

-Carly

1 Samuel 29-30 B

“When David and his men came to the city, behold, it was burned with fire, and their wives and their sons and their daughters had been taken captive. Then David and the people who were with him lifted their voices and wept until there was no strength in them to weep.” (30:3-4)

Many times when reading stories like this, I find myself looking for a why. Sometimes there is one and other times there isn’t.

I cannot imagine how deeply devastating this would have been to these men. Totally unexpected. Some started to lash out at David, because that’s what some people do when they’re heartbroken. While the LORD doesn’t give an explanation as to why this happened, He does give David encouragement to go and take it back. Is all hope lost?? No.

In those moments, as they were crying until they ran out of strength, they had no idea they’d have it all back soon.

This morning I was struck by the sovereignty of God. He is high above the earth and over all creation; seeing everything from beginning to end. He doesn’t despair when we do.

The LORD has been so kind and gentle with me over the past few years as I’ve bounced back and forth between here and Europe, with every day holding a level of uncertainty. My heart is tired and sometimes too tired to cry about it. At the same time, I can feel victory, settlement and stability getting closer. The seemingly far off, unattainable goal could be reached in this calendar year. The LORD never despaired in all the times I did.

I love the compassion in David’s leadership, when he shares the spoils with those too exhausted to fight the war. Sometimes this is an example of Jesus, waging the wars we cannot, and sometimes this is the example for the community of God’s people. We take turns being strong, we have mercy for weakness, and we celebrate with everyone.

I could not have survived the last couple years without the kindness and sovereignty of the LORD, nor could I be where I am now without the community of people He has blessed me with, both here and there.

The LORD is bigger than all our wildest fears and today is a great day to remember that.

-Bethany