Saturday, September 28, 2013

Life of David - Lesson 26

David keeps his Promises - 2 Samuel 9

Prayer: God we thank you once again for your scriptures & for the opportunity to come together and learn from them.  Helps us once again to learn from David's example. Amen!

Quickly Form Groups:
1.  Briefly have each person share a promise they've made that is tough to keep, pray for each.

David is firmly in place as King, at this time nobody is threatening his appointment, in fact most seem happy to have him; however, we're reading the narrative from the perspective of the winning side.  We know from our previous studies that Saul's army seemed pretty happy to be joining David's forces - though I'm sure there were some reservations.  So who's left that might not be happy with David being King?

Unlike other kings David didn't annihilate his predecessor's family.  Why didn't David annihilate them?  What happened to them?  In today's scriptures we're going to find out.

First, some background passages:  1 Samuel 20:12-17 & 1 Samuel 24:16-22

David had made two different oaths, what were the differences?
What were the similarities?

In David's oath to Saul he promised not to annihilate Saul's family, but in his oath to Jonathan he promised even more.  To Jonathan he promised not to annihilate the family (still Saul's family) but also not to cut off kindness to the family.  It is this promise to Jonathan that would have been on David's heart and mind that spurred him to action.

2 Samuel 9:1-3 - David is remembering his promise to Jonathan, and he is looking for a way to keep that promise.  So David's men found one of Saul's old servants and calls him in, Ziba was not just a servant but the chief steward of Saul's estate - he'd have been responsible for keeping the estate and knowing to whom it belonged.  Ziba informs David that one of Jonathan's sons still lives, and he's a cripple.  Saul likely had other descendants that still lived, but it is the descendants of Jonathan that interest David - remember it was Jonathan & not Saul who David promised to show kindness to his family.

Let's look back a few chapters & find out about Jonathan's son (2 Samuel 4:4).  He was 5 years old when he & his nurse fled because men who that thought they were supporting David (though acting against David's ways) were killing Saul's family.  Apparently while fleeing some sort of accident happened & Mephibosheth wound up crippled.

2 Samuel 9:4-5 - David finds out where Mephibosheth has been & sends for him.  The man that Mephibosheth is staying with is Makir, he is believed to be a wealthy benefactor of Mephibosheth - perhaps because of some kindness shown to his family by Jonathan or perhaps he is some sort of relation, we don't really know.  What we do know about Makir is that he later comes to the aid of David during a crisis (2 Samuel 17:27-29).  We also know that the place where Makir lives (Lo Debar) is far from Jerusalem , and far from Saul's family estate; in fact it is in the region of Gilead East of the Jordan River.  It is about 80 miles away from Jerusalem as the crow flies, but any direct path there would be through mountains & ravines & would involve crossing the Jordan. 

2 Samuel 9:6-7 - Mephibosheth honors David & calls himself David's servant, clearly indicating that he is no threat to David - you can imagine he may have had some misgivings about being brought before the king.  David appears excited to see him, the son of his best friend, and he may never have met Mephibosheth as a boy (due to Saul's pursuit) but is genuinely happy to meet Jonathan's son.  Mephibosheth is no longer a boy, he is a man with a son of his own (we'll see this later in the chapter).  David reassures him that he has nothing to fear, that kindness is being shown to him for Jonathan's sake, and that he's going to not only get back all of Saul's estate but he's also going to be a permanent guest at David's table.  Hospitality is a big deal in Middle Eastern cultures, so this is a major statement by David that Mephibosheth is always welcome at David's table. 

2 Samuel 9:8 - Mephibosheth calls himself a dead dog, and wonders aloud why David would bother to even notice him.  Let's take a look at his situation, he's a man who is unable to work because he's crippled - others have had to support him.  Not only that, he's the grandson of an evil king that tried to assassinate David several times, and family of ousted kings were usually just killed off.  The term "dead dog" would have deep significant meaning to a Jew of his time.

Copied from a Chronological Study Bible, Thomas Nelson publisher
2 Samuel 9:9-10 - David commands Ziba to not only hand over all of Saul's estate to Mephibosheth, but also to have his sons (15) & servants (20) farm the land in order to provide for Mephibosheth & his family.  Mephibosheth is suddenly raised from having to depend on charity to being a wealthy man.  Mephibosheth (and presumably his family) were to eat at the king's table as well.

2 Samuel 9:11-13 - Saul's lands would not have been far from Jerusalem because he was from the tribe of Benjamin & his capital city of Gibeah was within a couple miles of Jerusalem.  So Mephibosheth stayed in Jerusalem with his family & had Ziba's household caring for him - presumably the women would care for the needs in the home & the men would have been working the land.  If Gibeah hadn't been so close this would have been a difficulty for Ziba's family, but apparently it worked out well, and I'm guessing that David's generosity toward Mephibosheth also extended to Ziba's family. 

This passage is where we learn Mephibosheth has a young son named Mica.  Mica's descendants are listed in 1 Chronicles 8:35-39 - so the family of Johnathan continued on & thrived.

Mephibosheth had gone from the King's household, to a fallen state, and then restored to the King's household - David's actions in this passage are a beautiful example of Grace.  Mephibosheth wasn't worthy, wealthy, or beautiful - but he was treated with kindness & love.

Closing Prayer:  God help us to see others around us through your eyes, and help us to extend grace to all - even those (and perhaps especially those) we don't think deserve it.  Amen!

Quickly Form Groups Again:
2.  Share about a time when someone surprised you with a kind or loving act.  How did that impact you?
3.  Think of someone you know that needs to be shown kindness & love.  What will you do, by the power of Jesus working in you, to demonstrate kindness & love to that person?

Monday, September 16, 2013

Life of David - Lesson 25

To God Be The Glory - 2 Samuel 8

Prayer: God, I thank you that you can take a passage that on the surface doesn't look particularly interesting & bring it to life through the power of your Holy Spirit.  I thank you that you did that with this passage for me, and I pray that through this study you continue to bring it to life by your power & to your glory. Amen!

Quickly Form Groups:
1.   Briefly have each person share something God is doing through their life, say a brief prayer of praise for what God is doing.

Where we left off: David is now King of Israel, he's established himself in Jerusalem, he's brought the Ark of the Covenant to Jerusalem & restored Jewish worship practices.  David would have liked to build a Temple for God, but God said no; however, God promised David an amazing legacy in the form of the Davidic Covenant.

When I first looked at today's passage I wasn't sure how to approach it, it seemed just like a list of accomplishments & not very interesting.  So I put the passage aside and prayed about it.  I don't know about you, but I'm not good at feeling defeated, so it colored my whole day gray.  That evening (Wed) at choir practice my friend Bev & I were praying together for some spoken requests, and without knowing it she prayed for my specific need - Praise God!!  The next day, still not sure how God was going to direct me, I decided to see if one of my devotional books had something on this passage - and one did (thank you Beth Moore), and it showed me some beautiful things in this passage.

This passage in my various Bibles is titled something on the order of "David's Victories", but in reality this passage is about God & His victories - so I've titled this lesson "To God Be The Glory".

I'm going to have us step back to a small scripture from our last lesson to get us into the right mindset.  2 Samuel 7:10-11 - God promises David, as part of the Davidic Covenant, that He will provide a home for His people Israel & that they would have rest from their enemies.  We see a promise like this & might think "ok, I've got it easy, I can just sit back & let God work".  That's not how God works!  God can work despite His people, but God prefers to work through His people, and in this case (in this chapter) we see God working through David.  I don't know about you, but I feel much more blessed seeing God work when I see Him work through me rather than just around me.  There's something so special knowing He cares enough about me to include me in what He's doing.

2 Samuel 8:1 - Over time God works through David to defeat & subdue their old enemies the Philistines.  Notice this doesn't happen instantly, and that David is cooperating with God to see God's plan fulfilled.

David was called by God to do battle for God & for God's nation Israel, David answered God's call - demonstrating a spirit of obedience & cooperation.

2 Samuel 8:2 - God continues to work through David, this time defeating the Moabites.  These are the descendants of Lot, another ancient enemy of Israel.  There is what sounds like a gruesome process David goes through with this group, he makes them lie down, measures them off, and kills off 2/3 of the people.  Let's take a look at this from the viewpoint of the common practices of the day, the common practice would be to annihilate the entire population of your enemy (leave no one to take revenge).  So David's act demonstrates Mercy & gives Hope to the Moabite people.  Just as David measured the Moabites to determine who would be granted life, God also measures people according to His standard - determining who will be granted eternal life.

2 Samuel 8:3-4 - David continues to defeat yet another enemy, this time fulfilling a promise to Abraham to extend the borders of Israel as far North as the Euphrates (Genesis 15:18).

Why do you think David hamstrung the horses?  When God set His law in place through Moses He knew there would eventually be kings over Israel, so He created laws for kings way before Israel had a king.  This is a 1/2 verse from those laws: Deuteronomy 17:16a, David was obeying God's law.  Another interesting thing about kings & horses: a king who rode in on a horse was considered a king of war, but a king who rode in on a donkey was considered a king of peace.  David's reign would eventually bring God's people into a time of peace & rest.

2 Samuel 8:5-14 - More battles, more victories, and I found it interesting that the same phrase is used in verses 6 & 14 "The Lord gave David victory wherever he went."  At this point in history David was walking with God & living an undefeated life, a life marked by excellence.

One evidence of his walk with God is what David did with the plunder from all these victories.  David took the plunder and dedicated it to God.  David demonstrated his dedication to God by repeatedly giving glory to God.  David knew that God was the source of his accomplishments, and his actions demonstrate a heart attitude of humility & devotion to God

2 Samuel 8:15 - David was a good king, he reigned over the people of Israel but didn't "lord it over" the people of Israel.  David displayed a desire for justice, and a love for his people.

2 Samuel 8:16-18 - Israel is becoming settled and growing strong, so David delegated work to trusted followers, setting up a government to govern over the various aspects of the life of the people of Israel.  This allowed David to continue to do with excellence the things God had called him to without being distracted by things that could be handled by others, demonstrating wisdom regarding the affairs of man.

Do you remember who the Davidic Covenant (2 Samuel 7) would ultimately be fulfilled through? Look at the traits of David that we've seen in this passage, who do they remind you of?
  • demonstrating a spirit of obedience & cooperation
  • demonstrates Mercy & gives Hope
  • reign would eventually bring God's people into a time of peace & rest
  • walking with God & living an undefeated life, a life marked by excellence
  • demonstrated his dedication to God by repeatedly giving glory to God
  • actions demonstrate a heart attitude of humility & devotion to God
  • displayed a desire for justice, and a love for his people
  • delegated work to trusted followers
  • demonstrating wisdom regarding the affairs of man
No wonder he's called a man after God's own heart!!

Closing Prayer:  Lord, I am humbled by the traits I see listed, and I very much desire to have these same traits demonstrated in my life.  Lord, I pray that you would be at work in and through each of us, making us men & women after your own heart.  Amen!

Quickly Form Groups Again:
2.   God is calling you to cooperate with Him in doing His will.  What has God called you to?  Where do you see God at work & how might you join God in getting His work done?  
3.   Which trait of David inspires you?  Which trait do you most want God to develop in you?

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Don't cry over spilled milk… NOT!

I was praying for someone the other day, and while praying the expression “don’t cry over spilled milk” popped into my head.  I decided that expression is wrong... Let me explain... I was praying for a woman who is angry because her marriage is breaking up, not her fault, and her soon-to-be-ex is being cruel.

Sometimes life is messy, sometimes things break that can’t be fixed (or at least can’t be fixed without leaving scars)...

Think about Spilled Milk... the Milk is no longer any good - what was meant to be a nutritious beverage to help us have and keep strong bones is now simply a mess all over the table or floor... I guess it would be fine for a cat or dog, but in human terms its no longer of any good use.  The mess can be cleaned, but the Milk can not be recovered and put back to its original use.

Then I thought, what if you didn’t just spill but dropped the whole glass, and it didn’t just make a milky mess but a milky mess with glass shards mixed in... not only is the milk no good, clean-up can be down right dangerous!  In trying to clean up the mess you can get cut... perhaps deeply...

This woman’s marriage is like spilled milk... her life, and the lives of her family, will never be the same.  This marriage which was intended to bless her life now not only has no value but is causing deep cuts & pain.

She has a mess on her hands, a mess caused by someone else, a mess that is causing serious injury - to her and to her family.  This is something that should be causing tears, but instead she’s focused on anger... the anger is making the mess worse, it is causing more injury, and it is keeping this family from healing.

This woman needs to cry, I know, I’ve been through this sort of mess myself... what she doesn’t need is to try to mask her pain with anger.   Does this mean she doesn’t get angry over her situation?  Of course not!  Anger is an appropriate response to the situation; however, until she lets go of the anger and deals with the pain she’s not going to find the healing her heart needs.

So I say go ahead and cry over spilled milk... better to shed our tears to the one who captures them in a bottle than to bottle them up and end up an angry mess...

Psalm 56:8 - You have taken account of my wanderings;
Put my tears in Your bottle.
Are they not in Your book?

Revelation 21:4 - and He will wipe away every tear from their eyes; and there will no longer be any death; there will no longer be any mourning, or crying, or pain; the first things have passed away.