David

God understands you.

1 Chronicles 28

If I had ever believed in the theory of evolution, I'm pretty sure my first pregnancy would have blown that belief out of the water. As I went through that experience, week by week, I marveled at the little life unfolding in my own body. From the heart that is fully functional and begins to beat by five weeks to the whole development process, it was very hard for me to understand how people (especially doctors who know the intricacies of pregnancy) could believe that there is no design involved in human development.

Beyond those considerations, one of the problems with believing in evolution is that it erases the idea of a personal God who knows you, who knew you even before you were born. Maybe some people aren’t comfortable with the idea of such a personal God; is it a more palatable idea to think that there is no purpose to our existence? That we’re just random accidents and that there’s no meaning behind where we came from or where we’re going?

Photo © Unsplash/Tai’s Captures

Photo © Unsplash/Tai’s Captures

I don’t know about you, but I don’t believe that, and David certainly didn’t believe it either. In his final charge to Solomon, he challenged him to remember God: "And you, my son Solomon, acknowledge the God of your father, and serve him with wholehearted devotion and with a willing mind, for the Lord searches every heart and understands every desire and every thought." (vs 9)

Is that a comforting thought to you? It certainly is to me. God knows you. And it’s more than just knowing who you are or knowing your name or recognizing your face. He knows you even better than you know yourself. He understands the inner workings of your mind. He understands where your every desire comes from and hears every thought you have.

In addition to that—and probably best of all—He is gracious and merciful and sympathetic. You know, we’re all messed up. And the fact that He understands the intricate workings of your heart only makes Him more compassionate toward you. He doesn’t use this intimate knowledge as ammunition against you. On the contrary, because He understands you so completely, He is the one who is in a position to help you. And He wants to help you.

The only thing that surpasses God’s knowledge of you is His love for you. He knows every hair on your head, He hears every cry of your heart, and He loves every bit of you!

Photo © Unsplash/Kelly Sikkema

Photo © Unsplash/Kelly Sikkema

God wants us to trust Him.

God wants us to trust Him.

1 Chronicles 22

Just before Solomon ascended to the throne, his father made all the necessary preparations for the building of the temple. David had wanted to build the temple himself, but God had decided that Solomon would build it instead. This was because Solomon would not be a warring king, as his father had been. In fact, Solomon’s very name was related to the Hebrew word for peace. It seems that God wanted the idea of peace to be an integral part of His dwelling place on Earth.

God is the best choice.

1 Chronicles 21

Even after David repented of his sin involving Bathsheba and Uriah, he was still struggling with the issue of being in control as king. Thus, though he knew he shouldn’t do it, he asked Joab to take a census of the army. Joab was disgusted by the request, but did it anyway. For some reason, David apparently wasn’t ready to place his full trust back in the Lord, and he wanted to make sure he could "walk softly and carry a big army" ...just in case.

When it came time for God to discipline David for this error, He gave David some options: "Take your choice: three years of famine, three months of being swept away before your enemies, with their swords overtaking you, or three days of the sword of the Lord—days of plague in the land, with the angel of the Lord ravaging every part of Israel." (vs 11-12)

Photo © Unsplash/Robert Anasch

Photo © Unsplash/Robert Anasch

Which would you have chosen? It didn’t take very long for David to make up his mind: "I am in deep distress. Let me fall into the hands of the Lord, for his mercy is very great; but do not let me fall into human hands." (vs 13)

You see, no matter what we’ve done, God is always the best choice. Being in His hands is the safest place in the universe to be—whether we are saved or lost. You will never find more mercy and compassion outside of God, and David knew that. He was well-versed in Israel’s history and Israel’s God, and he must have been very familiar with the famous self-description God gave to Moses on Mount Sinai: "The Lord, the Lord, the compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness, maintaining love to thousands, and forgiving wickedness, rebellion and sin." (Ex 34:6-7)

There is no better place to be than in God’s hands—even when those hands contain discipline for our sinfulness. Nobody loves us more than God, and so nobody will ever treat us better than God. He is always the best choice!

Photo © Unsplash/Vladislav Babienko

Photo © Unsplash/Vladislav Babienko

God has three Rs of His own.

1 Chronicles 20

In English (especially colloquial English), we have two sets of famous Rs. More specifically, the three Rs. There is one set of Rs to describe the main subjects in school: reading, writing, and ‘rithmetic (math). Of course, these three words don’t all begin with the letter r, but all of them begin with the sound of the letter r. More recently, a second pair of three Rs has been coined and made famous by the environmental movement, as a reminder for what we should do to protect the Earth: reduce, reuse, recycle.

But, did you know that God has His own set of three Rs? His list—when it comes to dealing with His sinful creatures—is reclaim, redeem, restore. 1 Chronicles 20 gives us a glimpse into the restoration part of a story that unfolded in 2 Samuel 12. You might not have realized it, but an awful lot transpired between two of the sentences in the first verse of this chapter. "In the spring, at the time when kings go off to war, Joab led out the armed forces. He laid waste the land of the Ammonites and went to Rabbah and besieged it, but David remained in Jerusalem. ** Joab attacked Rabbah and left it in ruins." (vs 1)

Where I marked the text with asterisks was that whole sordid affair with Bathsheba and Uriah that marred David’s career as king. Instead of being out on the battlefield with his army (as he should have been), David remained in Jerusalem... and got into a lot of trouble. It was only after the prophet Nathan confronted him and David repented that he returned to the battlefield as Joab attacked and defeated Rabbah.

Photo © Unsplash/Clark Young

Photo © Unsplash/Clark Young

David had made grievous errors in judgment as king. He had committed adultery and murder, totally straying from the mission God had laid out to him in his role as the shepherd of Israel. He had betrayed Israel’s trust and God’s trust. He had failed. Even after repenting and turning from his sin, should David still have been allowed to be king? Had his sins been too great for redemption?

Apparently not. In a beautiful twist, the very next verse says that the precious-stone-laden crown from the king of Rabbah was taken and put on David’s head. To me, it was as if God was once again anointing David as king. Even though you have screwed up, my child, I can use what was meant for evil and bring good from it. God wanted David to know that He hadn’t abandoned him as king.

When God encounters us in our sin, He reclaims us. He confronts us, relentlessly pursuing us, trying to persuade us to turn around and come back to Him. If we are willing to turn back to Him, He redeems us. No matter where we have been or what we have done, God is able to take all of our mistakes and turn them into something beautiful—even better than we can imagine.

Photo © Unsplash/Dietmar Becker

Photo © Unsplash/Dietmar Becker

And finally, He restores us. If you remember the story of the prodigal son, the father didn’t just accept his son back home. He immediately threw a robe around his shoulders and put the family ring on his hand (or, in other words, gave him the family checkbook). He restored him to his previous position. And that’s what God does with us. Though we have fallen so far, He doesn’t treat us like that. He makes it clear that He doesn’t even see us like that. Just as He wanted David to know that He still thought of him as king, He wants us to know that we are no less precious in His sight because of what we have done. He is just anxious to reclaim us, redeem us, and restore us.

God is the parent.

God is the parent.

1 Chronicles 17

I think it means a lot of different things to say that we are created in the image of God. I believe that includes things like having freedom of choice, having the power to create little people in our own image, and being able to think intelligently. However, I also think it can point to other, more minor, characteristics or character traits, such as the example we find in this chapter.

God cares about the process, not just the results.

1 Chronicles 15

After a few months, David went back to (once again) retrieve the Ark of the Covenant and bring it back to Jerusalem. This time, however, he had a different method in mind: "Then David summoned... the priests... and the Levites. He said to them, 'You are the heads of the Levitical families; you and your fellow Levites are to consecrate yourselves and bring up the ark of the Lord, the God of Israel, to the place I have prepared for it. It was because you, the Levites, did not bring it up the first time that the Lord our God broke out in anger against us. We did not inquire of him about how to do it in the prescribed way.' So the priests and Levites consecrated themselves in order to bring up the ark of the Lord, the God of Israel. And the Levites carried the ark of God with the poles on their shoulders, as Moses had commanded in accordance with the word of the Lord." (vs 11-15)

Photo © Unsplash/Jungwoo Hong

Photo © Unsplash/Jungwoo Hong

To me, this signaled that God cares about how we do things, not just that we do them. It wasn’t just a matter of bringing the Ark back from Philistine exile, but it was important to be done in the right way. God had given specific instructions about how the Ark was to be handled, in order to preserve the respect and awe of being in God’s presence. It was important that this process was followed—so the Israelites would be more inclined to take God seriously, especially after they had ignored Him for so many years!

Sometimes, the process is just as important to God as the results. He’s not just out to get to any end at any means. How things are done matter to Him. For that reason, just as David learned, they should matter to us, too!

Photo © Unsplash/Suzanne D. Williams

Photo © Unsplash/Suzanne D. Williams

God wants us to be fearless.

God wants us to be fearless.

1 Chronicles 14

"Perfect love casts out fear." (1 Jn 4:18) This is so true. It was in distrusting God (who is perfect Love) in the Garden of Eden that led to the first human beings feeling fear. And the more we come to know God and trust in Him again, the further we will be separated from fear. We see a premium example of that in this chapter of 1 Chronicles:

God answers questions before we ask them.

God answers questions before we ask them.

1 Chronicles 13

King David wanted to do a very good thing. He wanted to bring the Ark of the Covenant back from its exile. He realized that, during the reign of Saul, the Lord had basically been ignored, and he wanted to change that. Unfortunately, after accusing Saul of not "inquiring" of the Ark, David did the same exact thing.

God's kingdom is made up of individuals.

God's kingdom is made up of individuals.

1 Chronicles 12

In this chapter, we are given more details about David’s ascent to the throne and his inaugural celebration. Verses 23-37 provide a list of all the warriors from the twelve tribes of Israel who made their way to Hebron to show their support for David’s anointing and recognize him as their new king.

God rules with service.

God rules with service.

1 Chronicles 11

What is, hires more. Have you ever heard that saying? Basically, it’s one way people comment on their bosses. Sometimes it’s a compliment. If you think you’re a brilliant person, you might say that your boss hired you because he is also brilliant. Or if you’re disappointed with the poor quality of your coworkers, you might say that only a lazy, stupid boss would hire lazy, stupid people. (Of course, you better be careful with that way of thinking if you work there, too.)

God freely associates with sinners.

God freely associates with sinners.

1 Chronicles 3

I am generally amused by one of the accusations leveled at Jesus: He is a friend of sinners. The Pharisees saw Jesus associating with people of "dubious" reputation (according to them), and they couldn’t stand it. They despised those people, so in their paradigm, their God should also despise those people.

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 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.