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Psalms 3: We Are Never beyond Hope

In order to properly understand Psalms 3, we need to remember a little bit of background. The first line says that this was a Psalm of David while he was running away from Absalom. Absalom was his son, and he basically led a revolt in Israel. He overthrew his father’s government and then began to hunt down David.

This is the historical context that this Psalm comes out of.

Psa 3:1  A Psalm of David, when he fled from Absalom his son. LORD, how are they increased that trouble me! many are they that rise up against me.

Psa 3:2  Many there be which say of my soul, There is no help for him in God. Selah.

David’s enemies are multiplying, and they feel like it is over. Absalom had so much power and might that David really had no hope. In verse two, you get the assumption that most people thought that everything was over for David. Even God could not help him anymore.

David himself did not feel that way though.

Psa 3:3  But thou, O LORD, art a shield for me; my glory, and the lifter up of mine head.

Psa 3:4  I cried unto the LORD with my voice, and he heard me out of his holy hill. Selah.

Psa 3:5  I laid me down and slept; I awaked; for the LORD sustained me.

Psa 3:6  I will not be afraid of ten thousands of people, that have set themselves against me round about.

Psa 3:7  Arise, O LORD; save me, O my God: for thou hast smitten all mine enemies upon the cheek bone; thou hast broken the teeth of the ungodly.

Psa 3:8  Salvation belongeth unto the LORD: thy blessing is upon thy people. Selah.

Basically, he is arguing that everything that they say about him is false. He is not too far away for God to help. God heard him, sustained him, stopped his enemies and lifted his head. It was certainly not true that there was no help from God.

That’s something that we can take to heart. The Psalms are great about this kind of thing. Even if people say that everything seems hopeless, it is absolutely not true. God is there, and He will provide assistance. We don’t need to be afraid of 10,000 people if we have God with us. In fact, you can extend that and say that we don’t need to be afraid of anything because God is above all of it.

Keep this in mind as you go through the day. I know I am going to try to remember this. We need to live like we believe this. Imagine the courage that we would have…

1 Chronicles 3: God’s Wisdom Is Not Always Our Wisdom

Guess what? In 1 Chronicles 3, we get another family tree. In this case, we get to hear all about the sons of David. It is rather remarkable how many children both David and his son Solomon had, but something else stood out to me today that I guess I realized before, but I do not believe I have written about.

Solomon was by no means the oldest son that David had. Of course, we remember all of the headache that happened because of Ammon and Absalom, but even if you take them out of the picture, Solomon was still not the oldest son. In fact, Solomon was obviously born to Bathsheba, and that was a pretty shameful affair for David. After all, he essentially sent a man to the front line in hopes that he would be killed in battle and David could then marry his wife.

Solomon did not have an awful lot going for him, but God chose him to be king and chose him to build the Temple. By all the conventional wisdom of the world, you probably could not have predicted this outcome.

However, God never claimed to operate by conventional wisdom. He operates by His own wisdom which trumps conventional wisdom every time.

Isa 55:8  For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the LORD.

Isa 55:9  For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts.

I obviously read about David and Solomon in the past as we read through their literal stories, but I guess that stood out to me today for some bizarre reason. Maybe it is because we need to think about the fact that everything happens for a reason. As the Master Architect of the universe, you can be assured that God does indeed have a plan even if we don’t always understand it at the time.

2 Samuel 19: Honesty Is the Best Policy

At the beginning of 2 Samuel 19, David is still distraught over the death of his son. Even though Absalom was technically an enemy, yesterday we talked about how David had so much unconditional love for his son regardless of what happened.

I can understand why he was still upset, but not everyone thought that all of this grief was necessary.

2Sa 19:5  And Joab came into the house to the king, and said, Thou hast shamed this day the faces of all thy servants, which this day have saved thy life, and the lives of thy sons and of thy daughters, and the lives of thy wives, and the lives of thy concubines;

2Sa 19:6  In that thou lovest thine enemies, and hatest thy friends. For thou hast declared this day, that thou regardest neither princes nor servants: for this day I perceive, that if Absalom had lived, and all we had died this day, then it had pleased thee well.

2Sa 19:7  Now therefore arise, go forth, and speak comfortably unto thy servants: for I swear by the LORD, if thou go not forth, there will not tarry one with thee this night: and that will be worse unto thee than all the evil that befell thee from thy youth until now.

Joab as you will recall was the guy who actually killed Absalom, so I can understand why it was a little bit difficult for him to have any sympathy in this situation.

He was basically telling David that the people were not entirely thrilled that he seemed more upset about a victory than he would have been about a hypothetical defeat.

You might not necessarily agree with his message and have you delivered it, but I think that we can learn something from Joab here.

I have read about many leaders who complained that they are surrounded by people who only say what they want to hear. For example, if I was running a business, I don’t think I’d be very happy if everyone around me always said that I was always doing everything right.

You want someone honest. You want someone who will tell you whether or not you have entirely lost your mind. Joab was that type of advisor.

Of course, we always need to be sure that what we say is always for the benefit of the other person in love, but we do need to be honest. David took his advice and regained his composure, so I guess it was pretty convincing.

2 Samuel 18: Never Stop Loving

I think that 2 Samuel 18 tells us something about unconditional love. Think about the situation. Absalom led a revolution that took the kingdom of Israel away from his father David. Then, he started hunting David around the countryside, and David had to essentially run for his life.

Now, we come to the point of the story where there is the final face-off. The two armies met, and 20,000 men eventually died during the conflict.

However, before the battle began, David specifically said that he did not want anything to happen to his son.

2Sa 18:5  And the king commanded Joab and Abishai and Ittai, saying, Deal gently for my sake with the young man, even with Absalom. And all the people heard when the king gave all the captains charge concerning Absalom.

This was rather different than normal warfare. In most situations, if you came across the rival general, you would kill him so that the entire thing would be over. In this situation, David is saying that the mastermind should be spared.

As it turned out, Absalom did not survive the battle. He was riding a horse, and he ended up getting tangled up in a tree. When Joab saw him in a compromised position, he put a spear through him.

Immediately, couriers went back to David, and here is the conversation that followed.

2Sa 18:29  And the king said, Is the young man Absalom safe? And Ahimaaz answered, When Joab sent the king’s servant, and me thy servant, I saw a great tumult, but I knew not what it was.

2Sa 18:30  And the king said unto him, Turn aside, and stand here. And he turned aside, and stood still.

2Sa 18:31  And, behold, Cushi came; and Cushi said, Tidings, my lord the king: for the LORD hath avenged thee this day of all them that rose up against thee.

2Sa 18:32  And the king said unto Cushi, Is the young man Absalom safe? And Cushi answered, The enemies of my lord the king, and all that rise against thee to do thee hurt, be as that young man is.

2Sa 18:33  And the king was much moved, and went up to the chamber over the gate, and wept: and as he went, thus he said, O my son Absalom, my son, my son Absalom! would God I had died for thee, O Absalom, my son, my son!

Even after everything that happened, David was still distraught. He said that he would have rather died in the place of his son. Normally, you don’t say that about people who are trying to kill you as well.

This is a very powerful picture of unconditional love. I don’t think that David ever stopped loving his son, and I think this is a good picture of how we need to treat everyone. Jesus told us to love everyone, and the fact that David was still be able to love after everything that went down was pretty great.

2 Samuel 17: Be Grateful When People Help

It is interesting to draw parallels between Absalom pursuing David and 2 Samuel 17 and the way that Saul chased David around earlier in his life.

2Sa 17:1  Moreover Ahithophel said unto Absalom, Let me now choose out twelve thousand men, and I will arise and pursue after David this night:

2Sa 17:2  And I will come upon him while he is weary and weak handed, and will make him afraid: and all the people that are with him shall flee; and I will smite the king only:

This immediately made me think of all the opportunities David had to kill Saul. Saul was weary and sleeping when David had the opportunity to strike him down, but David did not do that. Something tells me that if the same situation came up with Ahithophel finding David asleep, David would not survive the encounter. That is one definite contrast.

Moving on from that, as I already somewhat mentioned, it was interesting to see David on the run again. At this point in his life, he had already been a highly successful king. He has proven himself to be a mighty warrior, and everything seemed to be going his way. Now, it seemed as if everything was against him.

However, on the positive side, he did have a few supporters in Israel, and they were willing to help him in his moment of need.

2Sa 17:27  And it came to pass, when David was come to Mahanaim, that Shobi the son of Nahash of Rabbah of the children of Ammon, and Machir the son of Ammiel of Lodebar, and Barzillai the Gileadite of Rogelim,

2Sa 17:28  Brought beds, and basons, and earthen vessels, and wheat, and barley, and flour, and parched corn, and beans, and lentiles, and parched pulse,

2Sa 17:29  And honey, and butter, and sheep, and cheese of kine, for David, and for the people that were with him, to eat: for they said, The people is hungry, and weary, and thirsty, in the wilderness.

God uses people at different points in our lives to help us out when we need it. We don’t always know when that will happen, and we do not always know how those people will help us, but we need to be grateful for the help. Even in our worst situations, we can still take time to be grateful.

2 Samuel 15: We Need God with Us

In 2 Samuel 15, we see a revolution taking place. Absalom was incredibly power-hungry.

2Sa 15:4  Absalom said moreover, Oh that I were made judge in the land, that every man which hath any suit or cause might come unto me, and I would do him justice!

He would sit outside the room where David was acting as judge and would almost lobby the people as they went in to have their problems worked out. He would tell them exactly what they wanted to hear, and we find out later in verse six that he “stole the hearts of all the men of Israel.”

He was making sure that he had popular support. After all, it’s kind of hard to have a revolution if no one supports you.

However, even though it does seem like he had a pretty good amount of popular support and ultimately did follow through with his plan, he did not have the support of God.

He put all of his faith in the fact that the people loved him. However, having the support of God is absolutely the most important thing, and it seems as if God doesn’t always worry about the odds. Think about Gideon. He was vastly outnumbered, but God was with him, and that was enough. Joshua should not have been able to overtake Jericho, but God made it happen.

Rom 8:31  What shall we then say to these things? If God be for us, who can be against us?

I think this is a perspective that we need to keep. If we try to do what everyone else wants us to do in order to be popular, there’s a problem there. Popularity is not a bad thing, but our first priority needs to be doing what God would have us do rather than what is popular. Absalom thought that his popularity was enough to make him king. Making sure that he was in God’s will should have been the first priority rather than his desperation for power.

2 Samuel 14: Operate in God’s Time

Absalom was kind of an interesting guy, and we see that coming out in a different way in 2 Samuel 14. From yesterday, you will remember that he murdered his brother because he was upset that he had raped their sister.

He then ran away because he was a murderer. Even now I don’t get the impression that he was upset about what he did, but he knew that he had to preserve his life. David obviously did not defend his other son, but he also did not condone murder.

In this chapter, because of the work of Joab, David’s general, Absalom was finally allowed to return to the palace, but David would not look at him for two years. I think that five minutes of silence can be really awkward, but imagine being ignored for two years.

This is where Absalom take some very interesting action.

2Sa 14:29  Therefore Absalom sent for Joab, to have sent him to the king; but he would not come to him: and when he sent again the second time, he would not come.

2Sa 14:30  Therefore he said unto his servants, See, Joab’s field is near mine, and he hath barley there; go and set it on fire. And Absalom’s servants set the field on fire.

2Sa 14:31  Then Joab arose, and came to Absalom unto his house, and said unto him, Wherefore have thy servants set my field on fire?

2Sa 14:32  And Absalom answered Joab, Behold, I sent unto thee, saying, Come hither, that I may send thee to the king, to say, Wherefore am I come from Geshur? it had been good for me to have been there still: now therefore let me see the king’s face; and if there be any iniquity in me, let him kill me.

He wasn’t getting the result that he wanted, an audience with the king, so he decided to force Joab’s hand. He burned down the field with the explicit purpose that it would force Joab to talk to him.

Both of these times, Absalom had an okay intent. He wanted to protect his sister, and he wanted to repair the relationship with his father. However, in both of these situations, he just took matters into his own hands.

I think that we need to be careful. Justice would have been done eventually in both of these situations, and probably the end result would have been the same in both of them. However, because Absalom decided to rush everything, he created many problems for himself and everyone around him.

2 Samuel 13: Keep Trusting God

Wow, 2 Samuel 13 is a pretty messed up chapter. We see a lot of people making a lot of really bad choices, and it ends with a brother killing his brother.
Absalom could not stand his brother Amnon. Of course, I think that most of us would agree that he had a pretty good reason to be really, really mad. Earlier, Amnon had pretended to be sick as a way to get his sister Tamar alone before he eventually raped her. I think that we would all agree that that was terrible. She was entirely innocent and did everything she could, but he was physically stronger than her and forced her.
One line made me particularly sad though.
2Sa 13:15 Then Amnon hated her exceedingly; so that the hatred wherewith he hated her was greater than the love wherewith he had loved her. And Amnon said unto her, Arise, be gone.
I feel that this verse can be applied to so many sins in our lives. There are certain things that we really want to do. I’m not saying that many people think about these or similarly terrible things, but on one level, any sin is a problem. In fact, we might love them. It really can be anything in our lives, but it involves something that we put up on a pedestal.
As we discover this type of problem in our lives, there are really two types of responses. On one hand, we can make the problem worse by turning our hatred onto people who pointed our problem out. Amnon knew that he was wrong, and because his sister was resisting, it should have been pretty plain to him. That made him pretty upset because he wanted to have everything okay with the fact that he was sinning. He hated her for pointing it out.
Ideally, a better reaction involves testing what people say against the Bible. If the Bible says that something is wrong, then we should avoid it. That should be our final authority because it has been divinely inspired. Rather than turn our hatred on someone who tells us we are wrong, we need to do what is right.