2 Samuel

God sees you as more than a number.

God sees you as more than a number.

2 SAMUEL 24

Perhaps the same question that went through my mind also went through yours as you read this chapter: Why did the Lord get so angry over a census? Clearly, not only was God not pleased with what David had done, but David himself recognized that he had done a bad thing once it was over: "David was conscience-stricken after he had counted the fighting men, and he said to the Lord, 'I have sinned greatly in what I have done. Now, Lord, I beg you, take away the guilt of your servant. I have done a very foolish thing.'" (vs 10)

God wants a moment with you.

God wants a moment with you.

2 SAMUEL 23

Friends, applaud. The comedy is finished. —Ludwig van Beethoven

Now I shall go to sleep. Goodnight. —Lord George Byron

Why do you weep? Did you think I was immortal? —King Louis XIV

I’m bored with it all. —Winston Churchill

I have tried so hard to do the right. —President Grover Cleveland

All my possessions for a moment of time. —Queen Elizabeth I

Oh, do not cry. Be good children, and we will all meet in heaven. —President Andrew Jackson

Either that wallpaper goes, or I do. —Oscar Wilde

These statements are all the famous last words of the person who uttered them. You might find some of them surprising. I certainly did. I thought Queen Elizabeth’s utterance was especially insightful. When you come right down to it, you can’t take anything with you. And depending on how you’ve lived and where you’re at in life, you might give everything you have for more time.

God deals with us according to our righteousness.

2 SAMUEL 22

In this song of praise from David, there was an interesting little line that jumped out at me: "The Lord has dealt with me according to my righteousness; according to the cleanness of my hands he has rewarded me." (vs 21) Doesn’t this seem totally contrary to what we always profess? We normally say that God doesn’t treat us according to our unrighteousness. That’s what we understand grace to be.

And, of course, there is truth in that. But I also think David is speaking something true about God, here. In a very important way, God does deal with us according to our righteousness. What I believe this means is that God will deal with us in the way He knows is absolutely appropriate to help us along in our journey of healing. If we are extremely unrighteous, then God will (out of necessity) do things differently with us than He will with—say—one of His creatures who has never rebelled.

Photo © Unsplash/Guilherme Stecanella

Photo © Unsplash/Guilherme Stecanella

Even when Jesus was here, He dealt with people differently, according to their righteousness. The thing was, the people who had "more" righteousness weren’t necessarily the people you might have thought. For instance, Jesus didn’t have many hard words for the prostitutes, outcasts, or "sinners" who flocked around Him. But He said shocking things to the Pharisees, to those who claimed to be the most righteous of all.

The good news, here, is that we don’t have to worry about our sin problems. We don’t have to try to diagnose our sin or figure out a plan of healing. God knows what we need, and He will deal with us according to our level of righteousness. If we don’t have any (which is the category I often think I fall into), that’s okay. He’s got a plan for that! Trust Him!

Photo © Unsplash/ahmed zid

Photo © Unsplash/ahmed zid

God has more for us.

God has more for us.

2 SAMUEL 21

Once again, I’m confounded by David’s actions. I suppose, like the rest of us, he has times of victory and times of failure. I was confused by what he did in this chapter, so I read some commentaries on the matter. Seems like there are differing opinions as to whether God sanctioned David’s actions with the Gibeonites or not. Either way, one thing is clear: Scripture doesn’t record that David asked God beforehand about what he did.

God exercises true power.

God exercises true power.

2 Samuel 20

There is an interesting parallel between this chapter and 2 Samuel 8. Both contain a list of David’s officials. The list in 2 Samuel 8 comes after David has advanced to the throne, subdued the enemies of Israel, and returned the ark of God to Jerusalem. In other words, he has followed God’s leading all the way to victory for Israel. The second list (in this chapter) comes after the mess David created for himself with Bathsheba, Uriah, and the ensuing family chaos. See if you can spot the difference between the two lists:

God loves those who hate Him.

God loves those who hate Him.

You love those who hate you! This was the accusation Joab leveled at David after the big battle where David’s son Absalom was killed. David was absolutely devastated by Absalom’s death, so instead of celebrating the victory of his "enemy," David returned home, weeping over the loss of his child. Apparently, Joab didn’t like that:

God is a tenderhearted father.

God is a tenderhearted father.

2 SAMUEL 18

Outside of Jesus’s cry of abandonment on the cross, this chapter contains, perhaps, the most heart-wrenching cry in the Bible: "O my son Absalom! My son, my son Absalom! If only I had died instead of you—O Absalom, my son, my son!" (vs 33) Sure, at first you might think any father would be devastated over the loss of a child. But this wasn’t your average child. Absalom wasn’t a good boy. In fact, when he was killed, he had one goal in mind: to murder his father.

God is loyal.

God is loyal.

2 SAMUEL 17

Sometimes it’s a lot easier to draw conclusions about God by contrasting Him with what we are (or what we are not). That was the case with this chapter of 2 Samuel. After David fled Jerusalem, Absalom was seeking some advice on what to do next. His top advisor told him that he should go after David and kill him while he was at his weakest. Then—apparently—all the people of Israel would rally around Absalom as king.

God is going to sort things out.

God is going to sort things out.

Poor David. Fleeing from Jerusalem, rumors flying around him, and now, being abused by a man from Saul’s family. Not only was the man cursing David, but he was throwing stones and dirt at him and his troops as well. Finally, one of David’s men asked if he could go over and cut the guy’s head off. (What a nonchalant request.) David’s reply was very interesting:

God can be trusted.

God can be trusted.

2 SAMUEL 15

This has to be the most important lesson we could ever learn in life... and it certainly seems it was a lesson David had learned well. As he was fleeing Jerusalem—running for dear life from his own son—he realized that the Levites and the high priest had carried the ark of the covenant out of the temple. This wasn’t unusual. In the past, if you’ll remember, the Philistines had captured the ark and carried it away—sort of like a good luck charm. Well, that didn’t work out so well for them.

God looks at life and death differently than we do.

God looks at life and death differently than we do.

2 SAMUEL 14

I loved verse 14 in this chapter. Let me quote it here from the New Living Translation: "All of us must die eventually. Our lives are like water spilled out on the ground, which cannot be gathered up again. But God does not just sweep life away; instead, he devises ways to bring us back when we have been separated from him."

God is not afraid to say the hard things.

God is not afraid to say the hard things.

2 SAMUEL 13

What a sad, sordid chapter. It’s hard to know where to begin. Amnon, eldest son of David, somehow got it in his head that he wanted to have sex with his half-sister, Tamar. Once she became aware of his desire, she begged him to make her his wife instead of just using her and throwing her away like a piece of trash. But he wouldn’t listen. He went ahead with his disgusting plan to rape her, and in the end, he "hated her with intense hatred. In fact, he hated her more than he had loved her." (vs 15)

God reels us in.

God reels us in.

2 SAMUEL 12

I love things that remind me of my father. Today’s chapter reminded me of the topic of voice inflection that he covered in his Speech classes. He would hand out slips of paper to different students—all with the same phrase, but each indicating a different mood in which to utter the phrase. Then, we would go around the room, each of us saying the same thing—but with very different results. It is true that the actual words comprise only a fraction of communication.

God is not prejudiced.

God is not prejudiced.

2 SAMUEL 11

Sometimes, Bible chapters seem scant on the information they provide about God. However, there is a very clear statement about God at the end of 2 Samuel 11. After David’s affair with Bathsheba and the ensuing cover-up (which included the premeditated murder of Uriah), the chapter ends with this declaration: "The thing David had done displeased the Lord." (vs 27)

God isn't defensive.

God isn't defensive.

2 SAMUEL 10

I love it when the Bible surprises me. I know I’ve read this chapter before, but I read it again today as if for the first time. It seems like David was on a roll, looking for ways to show God’s kindness to those who would be considered enemies. That’s why he sent an Israeli delegation to Hanun, king of the Ammonites, to express his sympathy upon the death of his father.

God loves His enemies.

God loves His enemies.

2 SAMUEL 9

What another beautiful picture of God revealed in David in 2 Samuel 9. After being established as king of Israel, David looks for a way to pay kindness to the family of Saul: "The king asked, 'Is there no one still alive from the house of Saul to whom I can show God’s kindness?'" (vs 3) This was something quite remarkable in David’s time. In those days, kings would do everything possible to exterminate the descendants of previous kings in order to prevent their ascension to the throne at a later time.

God corrects us.

God corrects us.

2 SAMUEL 7

This is one of my favorite little stories in the Bible. David, in a moment of stricken conscience, decides that he wants to build a proper temple for the Lord he loves so much. What a noble thought, right? Who could object?! But, instead of rushing ahead, he summons Nathan, the prophet, to tell him of his plan.

God cannot be managed.

God cannot be managed.

2 SAMUEL 6

Right off the bat, I must confess that I owe a debt of gratitude for the way I look at Uzzah’s story to Eugene Peterson’s insights in his book Leap Over a Wall. If you’d like to read more about the life of David, I highly recommend picking up that book. It helped me see a lot of things in a new way—including the story of Uzzah.

God is a servant.

God is a servant.

2 SAMUEL 5

So, finally David is inaugurated as the new king of Israel. And something very short and simple in this chapter stuck out to me: "All the tribes of Israel came to David at Hebron and said, 'We are your own flesh and blood. In the past, while Saul was king over us, you were the one who led Israel on their military campaigns. And the Lord said to you, "You will shepherd my people Israel, and you will become their ruler."'" (vs 1-2)