Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Life of David - Lesson 24

The Davidic Covenant - 2 Samuel 7

Prayer: God you are amazing, you have done amazing things in the lives of your people throughout all time, and you continue to do amazing things in our lives today.  Prepare us Lord for the things you have planned for us, prepare our hearts to be soft to your will, and prepare our minds to be free from deceit and filled with your truths.  Keep our lives free from the detours and distractions that come as a result of our fast-paced world, and protect us from spiritual forces of evil that may try to trip us or draw us away from You.

Quickly Form Groups:
1.  Briefly have each person share about how they plan to honor God this Summer, say a brief prayer for each.

In last week's lesson David brought the Ark to Jerusalem.  While bringing the Ark David boldly danced before the Lord, he had a heart that was willing to look the fool in order to honor the God he loved.  We should all be so "foolish".

2 Samuel 7:1-3 - David wants to make a building to hold the Ark.  David doesn't like that his own dwelling is nicer than the dwelling for God's Ark, and he mentions this to Nathan - a prophet of God at that time.  Nathan responds (without first consulting God) that David should go ahead... after all God has demonstrated that He is with David.

2 Samuel 7:4-7 - Nathan is gently corrected & not rebuked; however, God is not going to automatically approve anything David thinks is a good idea.  This is a reminder to us that just because we think what we're doing is what God would want, just because we think our actions honor God, if we haven't gone to Him about it first we're really just doing what we want to do & trying to call it serving God.

God clarifies that He hasn't asked for a house, this isn't God's priority.  God's priority was to have His dwelling be wherever His people were.  Today that continues to be God's priority - His church is His people, not the buildings that His people call "church".

2 Samuel 7:8-11a - God has a message for David, God reminds David of what He has already done for him: picked him when he was a young shepherd boy & made him into Israel's king, gone with him along the way, gave him victory over his enemies.  God tells David what He's going to do next: He's going to make David's name great (famous), He's providing the lands of Israel (they will be expanded under David), He will protect the people of Israel and give the nation rest from their enemies.

2 Samuel 7:11b-17 - God declares that instead of David establishing a house for God, God will establish a house for David - this is of course speaking of a legacy or of David's Spiritual "house".  God speaks about David's offspring, and the immediate fulfillment of this came through Solomon - who succeeded David & built the first temple, and who was immensely blessed by God & yet needed correction by God.  The more important fulfillment comes by Christ, who was the one who built a true house for God's name (the church), and who's throne is eternal.  

This passage, verses 8-16, is the Davidic covenant.  This covenant isn't based on what David or David's descendants do, but rather on God's promise.  These promises find their ultimate fulfillment in Christ, but there may yet be a future greater fulfillment as well - either in the millennial kingdom to come or in heaven (or both).  It is my firm belief that God is not finished with Israel yet.

2 Samuel 7:18-21 - David responds to the message from God by spending time in prayer.  In these first few verses I sense that David is flabbergasted by what God is saying He's going to do, David seems to be overwhelmed that God has chosen to bless his family in such a magnificent way.

2 Samuel 7:22-24 - David praises & glorifies God, proclaims God's greatness and that there is no other God.  David acknowledges that God has done amazing things for the people that He has chosen, to establish them as a people for His name's sake - a people who's purpose is to bring God glory.

2 Samuel 7:25-26 - David speaks of God's promise, asking God to keep this promise forever so that God's name will be praised and so that the world will know that the Lord Almighty is God over Israel.

2 Samuel 7:27-29 - Finally, David's prayer lays claim to the promises God has made, embracing the promised blessings for himself and his descendants.  David's house would be blessed forever, not just in this world but in eternity.

Closing Prayer:  Lord as we go our separate ways for the Summer, and as some move on from this fellowship, we pray and thank you that we are a part of your family.  We thank you that you established your family through the various covenants with your people Israel, and through the new covenant instituted by Jesus.  We thank you that we are a part of the legacy you established with David, that when we were adopted into your family we received the blessings of being a part of your eternal kingdom.  Amen!

Quickly Form Groups Again:
2.  How might you know when you are in God's will?  Is there something you're doing for God that you're assuming is His will?  What will you do about it?
3.  What sorts of things are always in God's will for you to do?  (some verses to help you get started - 1 Timothy 2:1; Matthew 28:19; Romans 15:11; Romans 12:9-21)

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Life of David - Lesson 23

David Dances for the Lord - 2 Samuel 6:12 - 23

Prayer: Lord help us to come to Your Word today with hearts and minds that are ready to respond to You.  Remove the distractions of the day-to-day, help us to focus instead on You, making this a time of worship that brings you Glory.

Quickly Form Groups:
1.   Briefly have each person share about something spiritually significant for which they need to be prepared (think single sentence), say a brief (think single sentence) prayer for each. (share, pray, share, pray, ....)

In last week's lesson we saw how being spiritually ignorant/unprepared had dire consequences, and the result was that the work God wanted David to do had to come to a halt.  A few months pass, and David has learned a few things, finally David is prepared to bring the Ark to Jerusalem.

Preparation - 1 Chronicles 15:1-2 - David has done his homework!!  David had prepared a place, a tabernacle (tent) - whether this was with the original tabernacle items we can't be completely certain, but what is clear is that David has taken the time to find out what had been done wrong.  We can presume that if he took the time to learn the passages about how the Ark was to be transported he'd also taken the time to learn how the Ark was to be housed.

1 Chronicles 15:3-15 - David calls together the Israelites to start the preparation, making certain to bring the Levites in, and from the Levites calls the priests together to correct and instruct them regarding the handling of the Ark.  David points out that it was because of the failure of the Levites in the handling of the Ark that God was angered and struck down Uzzah.  The Levites should have known what to do, that was their God-given assignment, but they had not been prepared.  David is making certain they will be prepared this time, and instructs them to consecrate themselves before taking on this endeavor.

1 Chronicles 15:16-24 - David further instructs the Levites, this time letting them know precisely what he'd like done in the process of bringing the Ark to Jerusalem.  David is making certain that all are prepared for their particular jobs - some to carry, some to guard, some to sing, some to play instruments, etc.  David is focused on the details, making certain that all goes without a hitch - this time David is prepared, and making certain others are prepared as well.

The Journey's Start - 2 Samuel 6: 12-15 & 1 Chronicles 15:25-28 - The journey starts, they only take a few steps with the Ark when David stops the procession in order to offer sacrifices.  These sacrifices are sacrifices of thanksgiving because God is helping the Ark make the journey to Jerusalem, and helping the Levites to make this journey according to God's ways.  This may seem silly, but I think this celebration is significant - for the first time in many years the Levites are openly & publicly following God's prescribed ways - this marks the turning of a Spiritual corner - a type of repentance from wrong actions previously taken.  After the sacrifice the Ark continues on it's journey.

Michal's Bitter Heart - 2 Samuel 6:16 & 1 Chronicles 15:29 - If you don't recall, Michal was David's 1st wife, Saul's daughter.  She helped David escape from Saul, was later given by Saul to another husband, and much later taken from that loving husband and given back to David.  So Michal hasn't had it easy, so lest we condemn her too severely we should remember her hardships & how she'd been manipulated by these two kings - one was her father & the other her husband.  That said, her heart attitude is wrong, and this may be evidence of her true nature.  We'll get back to her a bit later in the chapter.

The Ark set in place - 2 Samuel 6:17-19 & 1 Chronicles 16:1-7 & 37-43 - The Ark is set in its proper place, the sacrifices are made, blessings are declared, a new psalm of thanksgiving is sung, and gifts are given to the people of Israel.  David ensures that everything is set up for regular worship and sacrifices are ongoing, the celebration ends and the people disperse, when everything wraps up David heads home to bless his own large & growing family.

Correcting Michal - 2 Samuel 6:20-23 - Who comes out to meet David as he returns from this marvelous celebration of God & the return of the Ark?  Michal, and she's coming out to criticize rather than congratulate.  It's bad enough that she despised David in her heart, now she's criticizing him openly - you could even call it nagging.  David puts Michal in her place, she may be a princess (of Saul) and a queen (of David) but she is nothing in David's eyes as compared to the Lord.  David was honoring God, and if he looked the fool for doing it it wasn't going to stop him from honoring God - even at the risk of his own wife & queen despising him.  Michal may be queen by marriage, and a princess by birth, but the slave girls had done better by honoring David for what he had done to honor the Lord.  David dealt directly with Michal, and God did as well, since she was not able to have any more children.  I also thought it was interesting that at this last mention of Michal she's not called the wife of David, but rather the daughter of Saul - I think this speaks to her having a heart more in line with her father Saul's than with her husband David's.

Can you think of any other passages where someone has suffered consequences from criticizing God's appointed leader?
Numbers 12 - Moses' sister Miriam mocks Moses because he had a Cushite wife - Miriam was stricken with Leprosy.
Numbers 16 - Korah & followers led the people of Israel to rebel against Moses' leadership - they were swallowed by the earth.
2 Kings 2 - Youths mocking Elisha because he was bald - mauled & killed by bears.
Jeremiah 28 - Hananiah contradicted Jeremiah's true prophecies with false - killed later that year by God as prophesied by Jeremiah.
Acts 13 - Bar-Jesus (sorcerer) lied about Paul in order to turn the governor against him - temporarily struck blind.

Closing Prayer:  Lord help us to have hearts for You, hearts that love each other, hearts that uplift each other, hearts for Your ways and Your work.  Help us to be ready for whatever you call us to, help us to seek your word to know that we walk in your ways, help us to be prepared for the work you have set aside for each of us to do, and help us to be willing to be despised by the world for the sake of Your kingdom.  Amen!

Quickly Form Groups Again:
2.   Read Psalm 132 - what do you learn about:
a.  David's attitude about the nation's worship of God? 
b.  God's desires concerning the people's worship?
c.  God's response to the worship of His people?
3.   Read 1 Chronicles 16:8-36 (David's Psalm of Thanks after establishing the Ark in Jerusalem) - what do you learn about:
a.  David's heart toward God?
b.  Who God is and what He has done?

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Life of David - Lesson 22

David seeks God's will - 2 Samuel 5:17 - 6:11

Prayer: Lord God, sometimes we get confused by you.  One day, we'll know clearly what you want, and clearly see your hand in what we're doing.  Next thing you know, we think we're doing your will only to have something happen that stops us in our tracks.  Then we scratch our heads & ask ourselves if we were really following you or doing your will, or were we just following our own hearts.  I suspect that's what David was going through in the events we're going to study this week, help us as we study to see your hand at work even in David's moments of confusion.  Amen.

Quickly Form Groups:
1. Briefly have each person share about a new challenge they're facing (think single sentence), say a brief (think single sentence) prayer for each. (share, pray, share, pray, ....)

David is now ruling all Israel, and his kingdom is being bolstered by God - God will make Israel strong, God will bring wealth and honor to the land and it's king.  But it's not a case of David sitting back & putting up his feet & thinking he can coast because he's finally where God said he'd be.  Quite the opposite, David is going to be used by God to bring about the power and the wealth, God chose David & has spent quite a bit of time preparing David for the work ahead.

Challenge #1 - the Physical well being of Israel - the Philistines - 2 Samuel 5 v17-18 & 1 Chronicles 14:8-9: Let's rewind a bit and remind ourselves what's happened previously.  For a while David & his entourage lived in a town in the Philistine lands, the Philistine king thought he had David & his fighting men under his service & available to do his bidding - even to the point of going to war against Israel.  When the Philistines had come against Israel God worked it out so that David & his fighting men would be excluded from the battle.  The Philistines warred against Israel, they killed King Saul, and the war resulted in crippling Israel and making it weak.  Then David left Philistine territory to return home to his tribal lands, and was made King of the tribe of Judah.  Apparently the Philistines weren't feeling threatened at that time, because they didn't do anything about David when he was ruling Judah.  At that time Israel as a whole was still defeated and without a strong king.

Suddenly the Philistines get the news that all of Israel has made David their King and pledged their fighting men to his service.  The Philistines were well aware of David's abilities, and now they hear of his new fighting force, they would naturally assume David and his armies were a threat.  They decided not to wait, but to deal with this immediately.  Let's pause for a second and realize that we're not 100% certain when this happened, it may have happened either before or after the conquering of Jerusalem, so we're not sure if David started out from Jerusalem or from Hebron.  In either case the 2nd Samuel passage indicates David went to some sort of stronghold from which to determine his next move, but the 1 Chronicles passage says he went out to meet them (Philistines) - these are both true, and this leads me to believe that the stronghold may have been a strategic location (perhaps an outlook) somewhere near the Valley of Rephaim.  From these two passages we learn that this valley was both a staging area for further battle since the Philistines had spread out through the valley, and that they had raided the area.  So this is not simply a military presence, but a conquest to take control of the valley, and a direct attack on Israelite peoples & territory.

2 Samuel 5 v19-21 & 1 Chronicles 14:10-12: David is following a familiar pattern, he inquires of God about going into battle - likely through the Urim & Thumim, David leads his men into battle per God's instructions, is victorious, and gives God the glory for the victory.   The battle took place at a location that was renamed to Baal Perazim which means "the lord who breaks out".  Apparently when they defeated the Philistines in this location the Philistine forces were so overwhelmed that in order to escape they left their idols behind.  These idols were taken by David & his men, and 1 Chronicles tells us David ordered the idols be burned.

2 Samuel 5 v22-25 & 1 Chronicles 14:13-17: The Philistines weren't completely routed after a single battle.  This is interesting, we'd assume that if God gave the victory it would be complete.  But let's think about how this relates to our lives: we may have a victory in an area of struggle, but that doesn't mean the struggle will never come again.  So once again the Philistines are in the valley, once again David inquires of God, and once again God provides instruction & victory.  This time the Philistines are routed from Israel, and they would eventually become subdued during David's reign.

Challenge #2 - the Spiritual well being of Israel - moving the Ark of the Covenant (part 1)  in order to re-establish the tabernacle & the sacrificial system - 2 Samuel 6 v1-5 & 1 Chronicles 13:1-8: David calls together an assembly of the leadership of Israel, he has in mind to bring the Ark to Jerusalem and to establish the tabernacle there in the capital city.  He speaks to the assembly about how God's Ark has been neglected, that none have gone to worship or make sacrifices during the time of Saul.  The assembly unanimously agree with David, people are gathered from all over Israel, and 30,000 men are chosen to accompany David on his journey.

The large entourage travels to Baalah of Judah (Kiriath Jearim) to the house of Abinadab where the Ark has been faithfully guarded by this family for several years (1 Samuel 7:1).  The Ark is put onto a new cart, with 2 members of the family of Abinadab to guide it, and the entourage starts the journey back to Jerusalem.  This must have been an amazing site, 30,000 men celebrating & singing songs - like a massive parade to bring the Ark to Jerusalem.

Anyone notice something wrong?  If David or the others in his entourage had known their scriptures they'd have known that you don't put the Ark on a cart!  The Ark was made with special rings & carrying poles, and was supposed to be carried by the poles on the shoulders of the priests.  It speaks to the Spiritual state of the nation that nobody brought this to David's attention, it's possible that they didn't know.  But this is a grave error, and not knowing God's law is no excuse for breaking God's law, when God's law is broken consequences are going to result.

2 Samuel 6 v6-7 (& 1 Chronicles 13:9-10): It seems like an innocent mistake, Uzzah isn't trying to sin, Uzzah's intention is to protect the Ark from harm when the oxen stumbled.  Don't get me wrong, God cares about our intentions, about the attitudes of our hearts, but God is perfect & His perfect Justice required that this irreverent act of touching the Ark be punished.  God indicated when he instructed the Ark to be built that this was His Ark, it bore His name, it was for Him to occupy, and no human should touch it - thus the poles were to be used, and then only by the priests, for the purposes of moving the Ark.  Sometimes I think we are so accustomed to the Grace of God that we take it for granted, we fail to see how even the tiniest offense is a grave offense to a Holy God.  We must remember that our sense of Justice is perverted, and God's is perfect.

2 Samuel 6 v8-11 (& 1 Chronicles 13:11-14): David's response is very much like our gut response is to the death of Uzzah, he's angry about what God has done.  He's so angry that he names the place Perez Uzzah, which means "outbreak against Uzzah".  David quickly transitions from his initial response of anger to a response of fear, he was confused, he thought he was doing what God wanted and suddenly this good man has been struck down.  David questions whether he was really doing the will of God, and so he decides to stop this journey and leave the Ark in the care of the family of Obed-Edom  - who are a family in the tribe of Levi (priestly tribe).  The family of Obed-Edom are blessed during the time they cared for the Ark.

Closing Prayer:  God, we thank you that you reveal your will to us - even though sometimes we're confused by it.  Lord help us to remember that we're only dust, that our thinking isn't your thinking, and that our sinful nature clouds our judgment.  Help us to always come to you first, seeking what you want in our lives rather than seeking what we want you to do in our lives.  Amen!

Quickly Form Groups Again:
2. We saw from the example with the Philistines that sometimes God has to help us battle an enemy more than once.  What was the same, and what were the differences between the events of the two battles? (2 Samuel 5:17-21 & 22-25) What does this tell you about how God might work in your life & battles?
3. What was your gut reaction to God striking Uzzah?  Do you think David was in God's will moving the Ark to Jerusalem (give your reasoning)?  Have you ever been confused by God?