Saturday, December 30, 2017

The leader every nation Needs

Read 2 Samuel 23.

These are the last writings of David in this book.  He heard and communicated leadership principles that he received from the LORD.

His character and ability as a leader may be evaluated by those closest to him.  The descriptions of his mighty warriors explain that these men were the best of the best in all of Israel.

What does leadership look like if it is just and done in a way that understands one’s accountability to God?  Here are a few of David’s comments from verse 4.
1. It is like a new day dawning; a fresh start with lots of light on every place.
2. It is like the sun shining on a perfect day.  Everyone enjoys it.
3. It is like a good rain that waters everything for growth.

The opposite is true when leadership is unjust and ungodly.  There is darkness and many things taking place unexposed.  It is not a happy time.  Growth and prosperity are stagnated.

David's testimony of his leadership was: "Does not my house stand so with God?"  May that be the testimony of all our nations' leaders.

"Righteousness exalts a nation, but sin is a reproach to any people."  Proverbs 14:34

Friday, December 29, 2017

He is a personal Savior

Read 2 Samuel 22.

This is one of the Psalms (songs) not in the book of Psalms.  God had delivered David and he could not help but sing.  He wrote this so others could join in and sing with him about who God is and what He has done.

Notice how personal the LORD is to him in just the opening verses.
-my rock
-my fortress
-my God
-my rock
-in whom I take refuge
-my shield
-the horn of my salvation
-my stronghold
-my refuge
-my savior
-you save me from violence
-I call upon the LORD
-I am saved

The God of heaven is interested and involved in every detail of our lives.  He wants us to run to Him and find safety, deliverance, and comfort.

"The LORD lives, and blessed be my rock, and exalted be my God, the rock of my salvation." (v.47)

Tuesday, December 26, 2017

Dealing with sin of the Past

Read 2 Samuel 21.

For three years the nation suffered through a famine.  David prayed earnestly to the LORD for relief.  The famine was not the problem, only the symptom.  God used the famine to gain the attention of the nation and its leader.  Once He had their attention, they were then ready to hear His message.  The reason God inflicted them with the famine had to do with Saul's killing of some Gibeonites years prior.  The incident is not recorded in scripture.

In Joshua 9, the Gibeonites used a cunning ruse to make a covenant with Israel in order to spare their lives.  A few hundred years had passed, but a promise is a promise and Saul violated this covenant.  King Saul had been dead for decades, yet this sinful injustice had not been resolved.  God forced the nation to make it right. 

Once David understood the root problem, he took action.  The king asked the Gibeonite leaders, not what would appease them, but what he could do so they would "bless" the people of Israel.  This wisdom goes far beyond a judicial act.  David sought to restore Israel's good name, resolve a broken relationship, and please God in the process.

Their request seems harsh.  It was a different time in a different culture.  The punishment hearkened back to the law in Exodus of "an eye for an eye."  Perhaps, Saul had killed seven of their own.  We have to trust God that He was at the same time dealing with the sin of these seven male descendants of Saul.  The proof that this was what God wanted done is evident in the resulting rain that came.  Finally, they could grow their crops again.

Personal and national lessons to learn:
1. God want us to keep promises.
One of the primary characteristics of God is that He is faithful.  He keeps His word.  He cannot lie, nor violate what He said.  His followers are to be faithful people and to keep their promises to Him and to others.

2. In plenty people play; in pain people pray.

3. God wants us to know His message.
He has always wanted people to know what He wants done.  In times past, He used visions, prophets, and sent the Messiah.  Today, we have the written Word of God and the indwelling Holy Spirit.  The first step is gaining our attention so we will listen.

4. Individuals and nations pay for unresolved injustices in future generations.
This passage in 2 Samuel makes one wonder how much of the world's grief and conflict is the result of unrepented sin of the past.  On one hand, it seems unjust that one generation would pay for the sin of another, but this chapter is an example.  It should drive us to inquire of God like David did.

5. Sometimes, it is not your fault, but it becomes your responsibility.

Psalm 139:23-"Search me, O God, and know my heart!  Try me and know my thoughts!  And see if there be any grievous way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting!"

Sunday, December 24, 2017

First, Identify the Problem

Read 2 Samuel 20.

In spite of a leader's best efforts for unity, there will always be those with their own personal agendas.

After the put down of Absalom's rebellion, this was a perfect time for national healing.  David never lost, because he depended upon the Lord and the Lord guided his victories.  The king, in reestablishing his government, showed great grace and kindness to those who had opposed him.  Yet, at the end of chapter 19, there was no small contention between the tribe of Judah and the other tribes.  David was of Judah, but the other tribes felt some alienation.

Then Sheba rose up.  The scripture refers to him as a worthless man of the tribe of Benjamin.  Remember, Saul, Israel's first king, was from this tribe.  He tried to take full advantage of the rift, probably to make himself the national leader. 

With civil war brewing, David sent Amasa, the new general, to muster Judah's army; Joab having been demoted for his killing of Absalom.   But when Amasa did not return on time, it seemed that he may have joined the opposition.  The king then called upon Abishai to go after Amasa, but Joab followed with his own men.  Joab killed Amasa, one of his own cousins (1 Chronicles 2:16-17), presumably out of jealous revenge for his demotion.

Taking matters into his own hands, Joab laid siege to the city of Abel without telling them why.  One very wise, peaceable woman saved the entire city that day. 

Insights for living:
1. Asking the right person the right question puts people to work on the right solution to the right problem.
It is unthinkable that all these soldiers spent enormous effort and time working on a project that was not needed.  No one thought to communicate first.

2. Peace comes as a result of getting rid of rebellion. 
Today, negotiations continue to be fruitless between contentious nations world-wide.  Why?  At its root is the fact that at least one of the parties, if not both, maintains a spirit of rebellion and demands of superiority over the other. 

Proverbs 22:10-"Drive out a scoffer, and strife will go out, and quarreling and abuse will cease."

Saturday, December 23, 2017

Everyone needs a Friend

Read 2 Samuel 19.

There is perhaps no grief like that of a parent who loses a child.  David was no exception.  A baby son died in chapter 12 and now his handsome and gifted, but rebellious, son was killed in battle.

His grief as a father is more than understandable.  However, he allowed his personal loss to place a pall on the nation's time of celebration.  David's kingdom had been restored.  Men warred and some died on his behalf.  The return to Jerusalem should have been one of triumph.  But instead, the atmosphere was like one of shame and as if the people had done something wrong.

Joab took responsibility to perform the very touchy and difficult task of confronting David to snap out of it.  The leader was sending a message that he loved those who hated him and hated those who loved him.  In short, Joab told David to get up and get back to work.

As David and those with him crossed the Jordan to return from their exile, they were met along the way by those who had both cursed the king and those who had shown kindness.  David forgave Shemei for what he had done in chapter16 and displayed grace to others.

Proverbs 27:6-"Faithful are the wounds of a friend."
We need at least one friend who will speak truth to us.  For personal sin, God sent the Prophet Nathan to David.  For this national concern, God sent Joab, the general of Israel's army.  A trusted friend is a God-send to aid us in sorting out our thoughts, emotions, and decisions.  The result should be personal growth and mature behavior.

When tossed to and fro by circumstances and varying opinions, the LORD provided the church where we may find such friends.  To the church at Ephesus, the Apostle Paul wrote: "Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, from whom the whole body, joined and held together by every joint with which it is equipped, when each part is working properly, makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love."  Ephesians 4:15-16 

Friday, December 22, 2017

Rebellion has no happy Ending

Read 2 Samuel 17-18.

In the past, Ahithophel had been a source of godly counsel to King David.  When Absalom seized the throne, his loyalties changed quickly.  He suggested that Absalom openly violate his father's concubines to embarrass David.  Ahithophel even devised a plan to kill David.

Absalom then called for David's friend, Hushai, for a second opinion.  Hushai presented a plan even more pleasing to Absalom.  In 15:34, David sent Hushai back to Jerusalem for the very purpose of overthrowing the counsel of Ahithophel.  Once the decision was made that Absalom would lead the battle against his own father, Hushai sent word to warn David.  Ahithophel soon realized that his counsel was no longer of value.  Sensing all was lost, he committed suicide.

David may have been older, but his experience as a warrior and leader proved to be no match for any opposition.  He organized his men and prepared for battle.  In spite of all that had happened, he asked for mercy for his son, Absalom.  Twenty thousand men died.  Apparently it did not take long for Absalom to run from the battle and be killed by Joab.

There is no way that this story could have had a happy ending.  Rebellion against God and God-given authority will always bring punitive consequences.

When Samuel told Saul that God had rejected him from being king due his open disobedience, he said, "For rebellion is as the sin of divination (witchcraft)." (1 Samuel 15:23a)

Humility, submission to and respect for authority are hallmarks of one who lives to please God.

Thursday, December 21, 2017

A perspective on painful Problems

Read 2 Samuel 16.

Whenever there is a change in leadership, some are sad, some are mad and some are glad.

Wherever there is a leadership vacuum, a rush to power is sure to come.

Amazingly, none of those who rushed to seize control of the kingdom appear to have consulted the LORD on what He wanted done.  This entire picture is one selfish desire for power and/or revenge.

Ziba feigned sadness at David's departure, even bringing refreshments.  He told David that Mephibosheth remained in Jerusalem in hopes to be king.  Remember, he was Saul's grandson.

Shimei, also from the tribe of Benjamin, was mad.  He threw rocks at David as the king journeyed in exile. 

Absalom was glad.  He entered Jerusalem as some conquering hero.  In order to establish himself as the leader and show complete separation from David, he put on a public display of violating his father's concubines.  Nathan prophesied this in 12:11 as one of the consequences of David's sin.

All of this, of course, was enormously painful for David to endure.  The rejection, betrayal, disrespect, abuse and sinful acts against him were unprecedented.  Yet, he demonstrated unusual spiritual insight into what was taking place. 

He could have retaliated.  He could have stayed to fight.  He could have beheaded Shimei.  He could have cursed and blamed the LORD.  Instead, he recognized that all power belongs to God.  It is He who raises up one and puts down another.  David accepted the humiliation as from the LORD's hand.  Then, he expressed his faith that God had a hope and future for him.

"It may be that the LORD will look on the wrong done to me, and that the LORD will repay me with good for his (Shimei) cursing today." (v.12)  This is a strong faith-statement of looking at problems from God's perspective.  Our trust is in Him today to complete His plan in us in His time.

Monday, December 18, 2017

Unresolved issues do not go away by Themselves

Read 2 Samuel 14-15.

Absalom escaped before any revenge might have taken place for the murder of his half brother Ammon.

The general of David's army, Joab, witnessed the story technique of Nathan that stirred David to action.  So, he coached a woman to deliver a made up, sob-story to arouse David's attention.  This resulted in David ordering Joab to bring Absalom home.  However, there remained a rift between David and his son.  David continued to show a lack leadership initiative in not resolving this widely known family problem.

Then in a moment of frustration, Absalom committed arson to get attention.  He demonstrated again some serious character flaws.  But David welcomed him affectionately and without dealing with the sins, all seemed to be at peace.

Next, Absalom began to assemble a following.  He openly took advantage of David's inaction to woo the loyalty of the people to himself.  It was nothing short of treason against his father!  This conspiracy went on for four years.  Absalom even lied about his true intent to leave the city, saying he wished to worship the Lord.  Indeed, the real purpose was to stage an outright coup.

This mighty warrior-king, now an older man, refused to fight his son's challenge and mournfully left Jerusalem.  Chapter 15, verse 30 states that "David went up the ascent of the Mount of Olives, weeping as he went, barefoot, and his head covered."  It is the same mount where the Lord Jesus prayed the night He was betrayed and arrested.

1. When it seems that someone got away with sin, remember sin does not go away by itself.  It must be confessed or confronted.  Without either, things will only get worse.

2. When it seems everything is turned against you, there are still those who will remain your friends.  See the words of Ittai and Hushai in the second half of chapter 15.

3. When it seems all is lost, remember the story is not over.  God is still in control.  What David did not resolve, God will take care of, but it will be even more painful.

"Take care, brothers, lest there be in any of you an evil, unbelieving heart, leading you to fall away from the living God.  But exhort one another every day, as long as it is called 'today,' that none of you may be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin."  Hebrews 3:12-13

Saturday, December 16, 2017

Inaction leads to further Injustice

Read 2 Samuel 13.

The prophecy of Nathan in 12:10-11 began to unfold upon David and his family.

With David's multiple wives, there were many half siblings within his very large family.  Tamar was a beautiful and obedient virgin daughter of King David.  When she realized Ammon's sexual intentions toward her, Tamar displayed an unusual sense of wisdom in four strong statements.
1. This is an outrageous violation, not only against her but against the nation of Israel.
2. This will result in shame with no hiding place.
3. This will make Ammon a common fool in the nation.
4. If he really loved her, all he had to do was ask the king's permission.

Ammon was guilty of lust, lying, and the rape of his half-sister.  He did not love her.  The proof is in his feelings after the rape.  He hated her.  Her full brother Absalom took Tamar into his home and care.

David's leadership as father and king was AWOL.  He knew what happened and did nothing.  This added insult to the injury and caused the anger of Absalom to fester.  Two years passed with no justice or attempt for reconciliation for this known heinous sin in the family.  Finally, Absalom carried out a plot to murder Ammon.

Everyone cried and mourned; over what?  There are no recorded tears for Tamar.  There are no recorded outcries due to Ammon's sins against the family.  The family did not come together to mourn until Ammon was murdered.

And, David failed again in not dealing with Absalom.

As a father of adult children, he was not responsible for their decisions, or their behaviors.  However, he remained their father and if he truly loved them he should have at least spoken up and used the family circle for influence.  As king, he was ultimately responsible in overseeing Israel's justice and spiritual purity.  David's inaction only compounded the problems for himself, his family and the nation.

Lack of swift justice only breeds more sin.  One of the hallmark verses that should guide all levels of justice is Ecclesiastes 8:11-"Because the sentence against an evil deed is not executed speedily, the heart of the children of man is fully set to do evil.”

Thursday, December 14, 2017

The purpose of exposing Sin

Read 2 Samuel 12.

David probably thought the incidents that took place were over and he could now relax.  But he failed to deal with the sins in his life.  So, God sent His messenger, Nathan, to confront the king and deliver a powerfully effective message.

Nathan used a story method to capture David's full attention.  As a former shepherd, David's emotions quickly raised to anger in order to right this terrible wrong.  He announced that such a man deserves to die "because he had no pity."  It was at that point that Nathan confronted the king with four words, "You are the man!"

The message reviewed how good God had been to David.  "And if this were too little, I would add to you as much more."  Then, the sins were specifically named aloud.  It is clear from verse 10 that the sins were not only against Bathsheba, Uriah, and others, but they were against God Himself; "you have despised me."  What David tried to hide, God exposed openly.  The purpose of doing this was to lead David to repentance.

The cost was severe.  There would be war (v.10), immorality in his household (v.11), and the death of the child (v.14).  David did repent of his sins and he fully returned to worship God.  Psalm 51 was one of the outcomes of this confrontation.

Here are some excerpts from David's prayer of repentance in Psalm 51.
"Have mercy on me...wash me...create in me a clean heart and renew a right spirit within me...then will I teach transgressors your ways...then will you delight in right sacrifices..."

God loves us too much to allow us to continue with unconfessed sin.
"If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness."

(1 John 1:9)   

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

3 Proactive thoughts regarding personal Sin

Read 2 Samuel 11.

Power and privilege are bestowed upon individuals by God to use in doing good for others.  The responsibility is weighty.  In Luke 12:38, Jesus said, "Everyone to whom much was given, of him much will be required."  The most dangerous thoughts a powerful and/or privileged person can have is "I accomplished this by myself" and "I can do whatever I want." 

All of us must exercise personal discipline if we are to guard our moral character and remain faithful to our commitments.  If we do not, we will only prove the scriptures to be true, "pride comes before a fall."

It was the season for military leadership, but David did not go.  On the surface, at least, this appears to be a poor decision on the king's part in the stewardship of his time.  David had numerous wives and concubines but his unguarded desires set in motion a series of sinful decisions.  He had the time, the opportunity and the power to fulfill his lust.

The sins are graphic and self-evident.  There was sex with another man's wife.  Next came the attempted cover up of the resulting pregnancy.  Then, there was the death warrant for an innocent and loyal solider.  Uriah served as one of the elite in Israel's army (23:29).  And, Uriah was not the only one who died in the conspiracy that killed him.  Others died also.  Joab merely followed orders, but in doing so David involved him in this sin.  David's guilt was staggering.  The better part of a year went by without any sign of repentance.

"The thing displeased the LORD." (v.27)

Lessons for all of us.
1. Be self-aware.
We must be vigilant regarding potential compromising situations.
When David saw her, he should have wheeled around and gone back inside.  Instead of sending for her, he should have sent word to her to about her lack of discretion.  When we give in to our weaknesses, we are no longer thinking about the presence of the LORD, the best interests of another person, or the consequences of sin. 

2. Be self-disciplined.
We must be ruthless about our vulnerabilities. 
Everyone is vulnerable in some areas of their character, whether it is in the use of power, the desire for possessions, or the pursuit of pleasure.  The abuses of any or all of these will 100% of the time lead to sin.

3. Be self-less.
We must maintain a respectful and eternal view of other people.
David showed no inkling of regard for God, his own family, for Bathsheba, her husband, for her father, nor even his own military.  There was no display of pity.  His selfish behavior caused him to vacate his spiritual leadership and ministry to others. 

How can God forgive such sinfulness?  How could David continue his leadership after this?  With repentance, God can forgive sin.  Only God could take this convoluted mess and redeem it for His glory.  He did and He does.

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

7 Lessons on Kindness

Read 2 Samuel 10.

Some wag once quipped, "No good deed shall go unpunished."  We see that here in chapter 10.  David showed great kindness to Mephibosheth because of his commitment to his best friend, Jonathan.  Next, he decided to show kindness to a neighbor at the death of his father.

Nahash, king of the Ammonites, had been kind to David in the past.  With the death of Nahash, Hanun, the son, became king.  As a caring good neighbor, David sent a small group of men to represent Israel to convey condolences and bring a message of comfort.  However, when David's men arrived they were perceived as spies and a threat.  The Ammonites abused the men and sent them home shamefully.  This resulted in a regional war.  Tens of thousands of enemy soldiers died.  God gave David victory and eventual peace with these nations.

Lessons on kindness from the leadership of David from Chapter 9.
1. He had a heart of compassion even for those who did not expect it and who could be a threat to him.

2. He took the initiative to be kind.

3. He demonstrated his kindness with peace and restorative acts.

4. He treated even a potential rival as royalty.

But kindness on our part is not always appreciated as we read in chapter 10.
1. Sometimes our best and purest motives may be completely misunderstood.

2. Sometimes our good intentions may be rejected and the very ones we are trying to help turn on us.  They may even enlist others to join them in the rejection.

3. Sometimes there is no choice but to face the false accusations and/or threats head on and trust God for the outcome.

Monday, December 11, 2017

Keeping our Word

Read 2 Samuel 9.

Many people make promises.  People of godly character make commitments.

David's man to man covenant with his best friend Jonathan was life-long.  They made a commitment to care for each other's families in 1 Samuel 20:14.  It did not change with the death of Jonathan, or with the change in national leadership. 

Once the new kingdom was established and surrounding enemies put down, David turned his attention to some unfinished business.  "Is there still anyone left of the house of Saul, that I may show him kindness for Jonathan's sake?"  Indeed, there was one crippled son of Jonathan whom a servant, Ziba, had kept safe.

A tyrant would have killed all the family of the previous king to protect himself; not David.  When Mephibosheth appeared he bowed in fear before the king.  But David quickly sought to alleviate any fear, restored the inheritance of his grandfather, and then publicly committed to treat him as one of his own family.  In addition, David charged Ziba and his very large family to care for Mephibosheth's estate.

Keeping our word is not only important to the receiver but the LORD takes note as well.
"Even before a word is on my tongue, behold, O LORD, you know it altogether."  (Psalm 139:4)  And, Jesus said, “I tell you, on the day of judgment people will give account for every careless word they speak, for by your words you will be justified and by your words you will be condemned.”

Sunday, December 10, 2017

3 Leadership traits of a godly Superpower

Read 2 Samuel 8.

Once in full command of the unified nation of Israel, David expanded the kingdom by defeating all the surrounding enemies.  He made survivors to be servants of the kingdom.  The wealth of the spoils he brought back to Jerusalem.  A ruthless dictator would have abused this power and wealth for his own selfish aggrandizement; but not David.

Why?  What made this superpower different?

1. The leader recognized the ultimate source of all power and authority. 
Twice in this chapter we are told "the LORD gave victory to David wherever he went."  As good a warrior as David was it would never be enough to sustain a lasting kingdom and achieve God's expectations. 

2. The leader recognized the ultimate owner of all things.
David was a faithful steward of all that God had allowed him to have.  Concerning the gold, silver and bronze that he amassed in Jerusalem, verse 11 states, "These also King David dedicated to the LORD..."  Giving ten percent to God was not enough for this leader.  One of the evidences of godliness is generosity.

3. The leader recognized the ultimate judge of all required him to act justly.
God placed him in this position of leadership to be a faithful steward of the people.  In great contrast to selfish rulers or corrupt kings, "David administered justice and equity to all his people." (v.15)

Friday, December 8, 2017

God keeps His Promises

Read 2 Samuel 7.

For about 500 years, the Ark of God, and the center of Israel's worship, had been a tent.  It bothered David that his house was better than God's.  Building a beautiful place worthy of the LORD became his lifelong dream.

God responded with a special message through Nathan, the prophet.
-The LORD did not ask for house.  Though God's presence was over the Ark in the Tabernacle, God cannot be contained, nor does He need humans to take care of Him.
-The LORD reminded David that it was He who took care of the nation.  Indeed, God took David from a pasture to a palace.
-The LORD made eternal promises to David and his descendants.  This is commonly called the Davidic Covenant. 
     1. He will make for David a great name.
     2. He will plant the people on this land and give them peace.
     3. He will give David a son and establish his kingdom forever.

As we shall see that son was Solomon and it is he who will actually build the temple that David only dreamed about.  Also, this promise of a forever kingdom underscores the importance of Messiah's lineage.  According to the family tree in Matthew 1, Jesus was born into the royal family; a direct descendants of David.  The familiar Christmas story explains it: "And Joseph also went up from Galilee, from the town of Nazareth, to Judea, to the city of David, which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and lineage of David" (Luke 2:4).

Such an announcement humbled David.  It caused him to go immediately to prayer.  He praised God for what He had done and for who God is.  "For there is none like you, and there is no God besides you..." (v.22).  

Thursday, December 7, 2017

Party but remember the Principles

Read 2 Samuel 6.

With David now fully in charge as king, the nation united, and the Philistines defeated, David then acted on a central priority for establishing his leadership.  He wanted to the Ark of God brought to Jerusalem and to establish that city as the center of worship.  The parade began with 30,000 elite soldiers on the march with music and great celebration.  The Ark had been placed on a brand new cart for the procession.

Immediately, a good Bible student would notice a huge violation of the scriptures.  The Ark was to be carried on poles by the priests, not driven on a cart (Exodus 25:10-15).  When one of the oxen stumbled, Uzzah put his hand on the Ark to steady it.  This again was a violation of the scriptures on how the Ark was to be moved.  God killed him instantly.  That stopped the music and the parade. 

David became angry with God.  Here they were trying to do a good thing and this happened.  As a result of David's feelings, they found a local farmer, Obed-edom, to temporarily house the Ark.  God richly blessed this unsuspecting farmer and his family.  After three months, David finally brought the Ark to Jerusalem.  First, he worshipped.  This may have been in repentance for his anger and certainly to honor the LORD before they went any further.  He became so caught up in the celebration that he broke out in dancing "with all his might."  It was a happy day!

Meanwhile, back home, Michal, Saul's daughter, could not wait to criticize him.  She overlooked entirely the spiritual impact of what just took place.  Her surface issue was David's actions during the celebration.  But her root issue was the lingering hurt and anger at David.  She had been promised to David by Saul.  David paid the dowry, yet Saul gave her to another man.  After the death of Saul, David took Michal by force from her husband (2 Samuel 3:12-16).  We are not told if this conflict was ever resolved between them, only that she never bore children.

This story gives us four reminders to live by:
1. God's Word is written down for us and is there for our instruction.  It does not change with time or culture.  It is always our reliable source.  There are direct consequences for our obedience or for our disobedience.

2. God can take care of Himself.  He really does not need our help.  It is a privilege that He calls us to participate with Him in what He wants accomplished in this world of His.

3. Many are too quick to blame God when things do not go as they had planned.  Seek first to know if there was a violation of His Word.  If so, then repentance is the next step in order to make things right with God and to get one’s life back on track.

4. There will always be someone who will misunderstand our pure motives.  Most often the misunderstanding is related to a previous hurt or anger.  Seek to resolve the real issue, if at all possible.  

Monday, December 4, 2017

5 Qualities that united a Nation

Read 2 Samuel 4-5.

At the death of Abner, Saul’s son, Ishbosheth, lost hope of ruling as king.  His two top military leaders lost faith in his leadership.  They murdered Ishbosheth.  Then, they brought the head of Ishbosheth to David, believing they had done him a great favor.  Once again, David demonstrated his sterling character.

-As an honorable warrior, killing a man in his sleep was a dishonorable act to David. 
-As Saul's son-in-law, David refused to rejoice in the death of anyone in the family, even though they treated him as an enemy. 
-As a humble servant, David he was quick to give the LORD the credit for delivering him from trouble. 
-As a godly man, he had no tolerance for wickedness.
-As a righteous leader, he treated other leaders with respect.

Who would not want such a man to lead the nation?  All the other tribes came to officially proclaim David as king and, thus, united the kingdom once again.    Saul had reigned for 40 years.  David reigned for the next 40 years, until he died at age 70.

He reclaimed Jerusalem as his headquarters and the city became known as the city of David.  His home, his family and his leadership all thrived.  When challenged by the Philistines, he relied on God and there was a great victory.

Here is the key thought to know and to cling to from this section:
4:9-"...the LORD lives, who has redeemed my life out of every adversity..."

And, this same LORD ever lives to deliver us today.  Trust Him.

Saturday, December 2, 2017

3 Essential character qualities of a Leader

Read 2 Samuel 2-3.

For years, David had lived with the Philistines being alienated from his own people.  With the death of Saul, David prayed for direction from God.  The LORD instructed that it was time to go home.  Once in the southern part of the land, the people of Judah made David their king.  However, Saul did have one son still alive.  The northern part of the country anointed Ishbosheth as their king.  It was predictable that such a division would lead to conflict.

David's leadership and influence grew in power, while his opposition waned.  Indeed, even Abner, the general of the northern army, joined forces with David.  Abner then began working on David's behalf to unite the nation.  But David's general, Joab, only looked upon Abner as an enemy whose only goal was to spy on them.  Joab avenged his brother’s death by murdering Abner.

At every turn in David's life his character was on public display.  When he heard the news of Abner's death, he took decisive action for all to see and hear.  He pronounced a curse on Joab and his descendants to be diseased and poor.  He gave Abner a royal funeral and even walked behind the casket to the burial.  He openly mourned and fasted.  David wanted everyone to know of his innocence.

There is no question regarding David's cunning and ability as a warrior.  But the exercise of those skills was always under control by his character.  In this section, several elements of his true self are demonstrated for us.
1. Kindness and appreciation.
When he discovered what Saul's home town people had done in recovering and burying Saul, he sent them a thank note and blessed them.  In this case, underneath this kindness was a huge amount of forgiveness of the past.
Ephesians 4:32-"Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you."

2. Loyalty
David thanked the people of Jabesh-gilead for their loyalty.  He treated his promises to others as a serious commitment of loyalty, as with Abner.  He counted Joab's actions as disloyal and an embarrassment. David learned about loyalty by putting his life on the line in order to protect his sheep from wild animals.  He experienced the loyalty of a friend with Jonathan.  His word was his bond.

3. Unity
David could have distrusted Abner as an enemy and killed him himself.  But he took the high road in the relationship in order to unite the nation and live in peace.  Unity and peace always requires us to consider the needs and interests of others above our own. 
Philippians 2:4-"Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others."