Posts Tagged 'God’s Anointed'

GOD’S ANOINTED, PART 11

Painting of King David by Arent de Gelder 1645 - 1727

David’s Choice, 2 Samuel 24:1—14

It has been said that “God loves to work in wax, not in marble.”   The books of Samuel conclude with the account of a judgment from God upon Israel because of David’s census of his troops.  It is an apt conclusion to the history of David because it calls attention once again to the extremes in the king’s life; his ambition and pride on one side, and his humility and remorse on the other.  It also illustrates the truth of that axiom; David did not have a marble-like heart, so hard that it could not be molded by the Lord.  God seemed to love working on King David’s heart, even when David was found by God groping in the dark, falling back on his own human wisdom and strength in numbering his troops.

In this chapter, we have the very curious situation of God, becoming so angry with David and the nation of Israel, that He sent the king a trial; God tests David by making him consider taking a census.  Unfortunately for David, he succumbs to the test.

This whole story is filled with unanswered questions and mystery.  God’s motivations as well as the reason why something as innocuous as a census should be considered an offense to Him are never explained to us.   As people with finite brains, sometimes the Lord purposely withholds reasons and explanations from us.  He certainly never fully explained why He asked Abraham to sacrifice his only son or why Job lost his family and suffered the trials he did.  The best explanations for these events are, at best, speculation.

In chapter 24, we should make mote of:

1.  The Subtle Temptation, verse 1

Again the anger of the LORD burned against Israel, and he incited David against them, saying, “Go and take a census of Israel and Judah.”

This isn’t the first time the Lord’s anger burned against Israel or one of its kings or even one of its citizens.  You will recall what was said of Uzzah in 2 Samuel 6:7 as the result of his irreverent act—

The LORD’s anger burned against Uzzah because of his irreverent act; therefore God struck him down and he died there beside the ark of God.

Thankfully, if we read the whole Bible instead of just picking and choosing a few verses or stories here and there, we get the whole picture and at least some mysteries are solved.  The parallel account of this story provides some additional details, and that account is found in 1 Chronicles 21:1—

Satan rose up against Israel and incited David to take a census of Israel.

We know from what James wrote in the New Testament that—

When tempted, no one should say, “God is tempting me.” For God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does he tempt anyone.  (James 1:13)

We also know that God in His sovereignty allowed Satan to test Job (Job 1-3).  If we are allowed to harmonize all this information, we can safely conclude that in the case of David’s temptation to take a census, the Lord allowed Satan to come and test David for the Lord’s own purpose.

It was to Israel’s detriment and eventual downfall that they came to depend on their sheer numbers and the formidable strength of the nation’s military for survival.  This is the pitfall of all who serve the Lord, whether they be a nation like Israel or an individual Christian; the temptation to trust in one’s own strength and wisdom never leads to a happy conclusion.  This is surely one of the Devil’s most cunning and most effective ways to trip up a follower of Christ.  We may, by God’s grace, “count our blessings” and rely on His promises, but to count on our own resources can lead only to disaster.   The prophet Zechariah, writing under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit and with amazing insight, wrote this verse that should be emblazoned on all our hearts—

So he said to me, “This is the word of the LORD to Zerubbabel: ‘Not by might nor by power, but by my Spirit,’ says the LORD Almighty.  (Zechariah 4:5)

2.  An Honest Confession, verse 10

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, O LORD, I beg you, take away the guilt of your servant. I have done a very foolish thing.”

David’s right-hand-man, Joab, was not keen on the idea of numbering the troops; in fact, the whole idea was “repulsive” to him—

But Joab did not include Levi and Benjamin in the numbering, because the king’s command was repulsive to him.  (1 Chronicles 21:6)

And he went to far as to warn the king against it—

But Joab replied to the king, “May the LORD your God multiply the troops a hundred times over, and may the eyes of my lord the king see it. But why does my lord the king want to do such a thing?”  (2 Sam. 24:3)

We have to respect a man like that, however, David was the king, not Joab, so Joab carried out the king’s wishes and offered a glowing report—

Joab reported the number of the fighting men to the king: In Israel there were eight hundred thousand able-bodied men who could handle a sword, and in Judah five hundred thousand. (verse 8)

That very positive report did nothing to relieve the guilt that David felt for going against the Lord.  What good were all these men if God was not a part of it?  All our talents and gifts; our wisdom and intellect; our lifetime of experience mean nothing if they are used without the guidance and blessing of God.  We may attempt great exploits for the Kingdom of Heaven, but if they are done in the natural they will come to naught and we will be found wanting.   Perhaps many of our failures in the past were due to the numbering of our own capabilities and abilities instead of relying on the power of the Holy Spirit.  Christians seem very adept at numbering their meetings, their members, their people, their gifts, and their blessings, but we are not good at counting on the power of God.

3.  Between a Rock and a Hard Place, verses 12, 13

“Go and tell David, ‘This is what the LORD says: I am giving you three options. Choose one of them for me to carry out against you.’ ”

So Gad went to David and said to him, “Shall there come upon you three years of famine in your land? Or three months of fleeing from your enemies while they pursue you? Or three days of plague in your land? Now then, think it over and decide how I should answer the one who sent me.”

What a choice!  These three choices amounted to three punishments.  The choices are all bad, yet different—

  • Three years of famine;
  • Three months of fleeing;
  • Three days of plague

It is interesting that as the duration of each punishment shortens, each punishment grows in intensity.  David sinned, and so the choice was David’s alone.   It is also interesting that this whole thing was brought about by God’s displeasure with something in Israel’s past, and now the punishment would be more or less decided by King David.   We learn something of how the Lord works in the lives of his people; we may consider the forthcoming punishment to be “deferred chastisement,” for some time must have elapsed between whatever caused God to be angry and David’s numbering of his troops which led to national punishment.

At any rate, yielding to the tempter brought David to a terrible place of having to make choice that should never have had to be made by any king.  David was forced to chose the “lesser of three evils” and that predicament put him in “deep distress.”  Because David knew God’s mercy was great, he expressed the desire to fall into the hands of God, not man.

4.  A God-honoring choice, verse 14

David said to Gad, “I am in deep distress. Let us fall into the hands of the LORD, for his mercy is great; but do not let me fall into the hands of men.”

David had already experienced famine (chapter 21) and war (chapters 21 and 23), so he chooses the three day plague.  The rabbis offer this explanation:

If I choose famine the people will say that I chose something that will affect them and not me, for I shall be well supplied with food.  If I choose war, they will say the king is well protected.  Let me choose pestilence, before which all are equal. (cited in Goldman).

All three punishments in themselves are highly suggestive, each one representing the fruits of disobeying God:  soul hunger, soul defect, and soul disease.  God showed incredible mercy toward David by offering him the choice.  David had sinned against the Lord in choosing to number his men, and now he would honor the Lord in allowing the Lord to choose for him.

David braced himself for the worst as he saw the hand of God raised to smite Israel, but we have to admire David for falling on the mercy of God rather than hoping for the best against man!  Once again we see David learning a lesson, for once he was willing to depend on his military to the point where he had them numbered.   Now he’s got to depend solely on the mercy of God, rather than risk falling into the hands of man.   Yes, David knew God’s hand was ready to smite, but he also knew God’s love was always ready to save.

God is still offering man a choice.  Today it is offered in grace, and the choice is between life and death, between retribution and salvation, between Heaven and Hell.   Romans 10:13 puts the ball fully in man’s court—

Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.

God has already made His choice—

You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you to go and bear fruit—fruit that will last. Then the Father will give you whatever you ask in my name.  (John 15:16)

Will you make the only choice that honors God and makes sense?  Choose to follow Christ and live.  Don’t count on your “good deeds” to get you into heaven.  Don’t depend on your charm thinking it will make God overlook your life of sin and rebellion.  Don’t assume that you can live a selfish, sinful life of rebellion against God, and in the final hours of your life repent and try to make your peace with God.  Nobody is guaranteed tomorrow.

As God’s fellow workers we urge you not to receive God’s grace in vain. For he says, “In the time of my favor I heard you, and in the day of salvation I helped you.” I tell you, now is the time of God’s favor, now is the day of salvation.  (2 Corinthians 6:1-2, KJV)

GOD’S ANOINTED: David’s Offering

2 Samuel 23:15—17

David longed for water and said, “Oh, that someone would get me a drink of water from the well near the gate of Bethlehem!” 16 So the three mighty men broke through the Philistine lines, drew water from the well near the gate of Bethlehem and carried it back to David. But he refused to drink it; instead, he poured it out before the LORD. 17 “Far be it from me, O LORD, to do this!” he said. “Is it not the blood of men who went at the risk of their lives?” And David would not drink it.  Such were the exploits of the three mighty men.

There are many fascinating incidences in King David’s life.  David was, like all of us, a complicated human being who made many mistakes and did many great things over a lifetime.  The reality of David is far removed from the mythology of David.  He was far from perfect, yet he never claimed to be anything more than what he was:  an imperfect man after God’s own heart.  The thing we like about David is that he never tried to outrun himself; when he sinned; he owned up to his sin, confessed it, and very often paid a dear price for it.  But he did even more than that; he took advantage of God’s grace and mercy expressed to him by demonstrating that same grace and mercy to others.  This is what sets David apart from other people.  He was very human, yet demonstrated divine traits when he allowed the Holy Spirit to use him.

It seemed that for his entire life David struggled within himself to, on the one hand, gratify his own lusts, and at the same time do right by his God.  Despite his transgressions, King David understood the words of Herbert:

My God must have my best.

Here, near the end King David’s life, we see a demonstration of this humble attitude, as David offers God a special kind of offering; an offering that sprang from his need.

1.  Context

Chapter 23 of 2 Samuel records “David’s last words.”  More accurately, verses 1—7 record the latest words written by David at the zenith of his power; he had been restored to power and restored spiritually.  The King’s family and his soul had been healed and, given the words of verses 3 and 4, the king had learned a lesson—

The God of Israel spoke, the Rock of Israel said to me:  ‘When one rules over men in righteousness, when he rules in the fear of God, 4 he is like the light of morning at sunrise on a cloudless morning, like the brightness after rain that brings the grass from the earth.’

In verses 8—39, we have an account of David’s Mighty Men and some of their exploits.  Who were these “Mighty Men?”  These were the heroic men who had been following David since the young man was anointed king.  These men were a breed apart, for they followed David as king before he ascended to the throne, often at great risk to their own safety.  These men gave up normal lives to follow David in faith believing that one day he would be king of Israel.  David, for his part, kept these loyal friends with him as he became king; they never left his employ.

Here is a marvelous picture of Christ and His followers.  The world has rejected Christ, even though one day the kingdoms of this world will become the kingdoms of Christ and He will rule over them.  But for now, like David before Him, Christ is rejected, yet He has His loyal band of faithful followers.  Those who serve Him in faith are His “mighty men” and women!  And like Christ, David was the captain of his Mighty Men.

In the midst of describing the Mighty Men, the writer relates a curious incident that occurred during harvest time, in the cave at Adullam.  Historically, this event likely finds correlation with the events in 5:17—25.  This brief account is one of the most enlightening anecdotes of David’s career for it reveals the king’s heart.  An act of unselfish bravery and loyalty is matched by an act of gratitude and chivalry, and we see in the Mighty Men and in David the most admirable and desirable qualities all believes should strive to cultivate in their own lives.

Hiding in a cave from the Philistines, it was natural that David, the thirsty warrior, should offhandedly remark as he did—

“Oh, that someone would get me a drink of water from the well near the gate of Bethlehem!”  (verse 15b)

As a youth, David probably stopped at that nearby well to quench his thirst.  But much had changed for David; he was no longer a youth, no longer a shepherd.  Now he was a warrior, fighting for his life, shepherding his followers.

We can imagine his surprise when some of his loyal followers broke rank and risked their lives to get him, their captain and friend, a cup of water—

So the three mighty men broke through the Philistine lines, drew water from the well near the gate of Bethlehem and carried it back to David.  (verse 16a)

Friends like that are rare indeed!  But David was even rarer:  instead of quenching his thirst, he made an offering to God.  Let’s consider this most remarkable offering.

2.  It was common

Rather than drink the cool, refreshing water, David offered it to God.  In fact, David did not just offer some of it; he poured it all out to God.  No sacrifice is too small for God.  Sometimes, in our zeal to serve God, we miss the smallest of opportunities to show our heart’s devotion of God.   Who would think of making a cup of water an offering to God?  Especially when the offerer was in desperate need of that same water?   David did, because he not only loved God, he proved his love by making an offering based, not on the abundance of what he had, but his lack.  It is easy to give God from our overflow because it is painless and costs us nothing.  But giving to God when we can least afford it shows that we place God ahead of all else in our lives.  It also shows that we have faith in God to meet and supply all our needs.

What need does God have of water?  None!  That is not why David offered it to Him in the first place.  By a simple act of faith and devotion, David demonstrated how much he loved and trusted God.  He also paid the highest honor to his friends, incidentally, in taking their gift to him and passing it along to the Lord.  David did not miss an opportunity to worship God.

3.  It was costly.

While the water was common, it was incredibly costly—

Is it not the blood of men who went at the risk of their lives?  (verse 17a)

A common thing was made precious because it was purchased with a great price.  Men risked their very lives for this water!  The water derived its value from what these men were willing to trade for it:  their blood for David’s water.

Have you ever stopped consider your worth?  Did you know you are of infinite, incalculable value to God?  You are worth what it cost God to acquire you:  the blood of His only Son.   If the shed blood of Jesus Christ is so precious we write hymns about it, then you must be equally as precious because you were redeemed by that same shed blood.   We may be sinners, but we are sinners saved by the precious blood of Christ!

This magnanimous act of David’s seemed to a way of life for him.  Notice what he did in the very next chapter—

But the king replied to Araunah, “No, I insist on paying you for it. I will not sacrifice to the LORD my God burnt offerings that cost me nothing.”  So David bought the threshing floor and the oxen and paid fifty shekels of silver for them.  (2 Sam. 24:24)

There are those who give God the leftovers; the shattered reputations, the crippled lives, and the sick days.  People like that give God only what they no longer want or need.  But from the book of collected wisdom, Proverbs, comes this piece of advice—

Honor the LORD with your wealth, with the firstfruits of all your crops.  (Proverbs 3:9)

David desperately wanted to drink that water, yet he gave it to God.  Are we that generous with our possessions?  Or our lives?

4.  It was desirable.

Verse 15 makes this clear—

David longed for water

When David made this offering to God, he was not giving up something he had used or something he really didn’t want; David “longed” for this water!   It is always easy to give God things we no longer need or have the capacity to enjoy.   Think about how many people leave their wealth to charity after they’ve died!  What kind of sacrifice is that?  Anybody could do that; that kind of giving means nothing because it cost nothing.

When David poured out that precious water, he was giving God the very best he had at that moment.   God is never concerned with what we give, or how much we give, but rather with the quality of what we give.  He expects those who claim to love Him to give the best to Him; the best time, the best talents, the best attitudes, the best income, the best attention.  If it is something difficult for us to give away, God wants it.

5.  It could not be taken back.

Once that water was poured out on the ground that was it!  David couldn’t scoop it back up again.  What is given to God is His forever.  David knew, as he held that cup of cold water in his  hands, as soon as he poured it out to the Lord it could never again be his.

Do we realize what that means?  Do modern Christians have even the barest concept of “sacrifice?”  Sure, many of us every Sunday morning give our tithes and offerings faithfully to the Lord, and just as faithfully we claim that giving on our income tax forms so we can get some of it back.  How many of us would be as generous if we knew once we gave our offering we would never see it again in any form?  That is true sacrificial giving!

Not only that, but if we have given ourselves to the Lord, then we no longer belong to ourselves and it is the highest, most offensive sacrilege in the world to take back for our own self-gratification that which rightfully belongs to God.

Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; 20you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your body.  (1 Corinthians 6:19, 20)

This year, let’s all understand just what David did in that cave so long ago and try to emulate it.  Let’s try to understand what Jesus did on the Cross so long ago, and try to emulate that.  Let’s try to understand what God did in giving the life of His only Son, and try to emulate that sacrifice.

What Thou has given me, Lord, here I bring Thee,
Odour and ligt, and the magic of god;
Feet which must follow Thee, lips which must sing Thee,
Limbs which must ache for Thee ere they grow old.

(c)  2009, WitzEnd

GOD’S ANOINTED: David’s Song of Deliverance

David’s Song of Deliverance, 2 Samuel 22

This long chapter in 2 Samuel has long been considered to be one of the oldest major poems in the Old Testament.  It is paralleled, almost verbatim, by two psalms, 18 and 28.  Even though David’s words of praise appear near the end of his history, it belongs to the early part of his life, as indicated by verse 1—

David sang to the LORD the words of this song when the LORD delivered him from the hand of all his enemies and from the hand of Saul.

While the setting of this song is determined for us, in all likelihood David composed it late in life, while reflecting on his past.  Despite his weaknesses, David recognized God’s faithfulness and he saw God’s hand bringing him to old age.

It is a worthwhile practice to look back once in a while and consider all that God has done in our lives.  We live in the moment too often sometimes, and we fail to appreciate the many subtle ways the Lord has guided us to this exact moment in our lives.  In the midst of our busy and harried lives, it’s good to pause and reflect.  David probably wrote Psalm 23 around the same time as he wrote what we call 2 Samuel 22.  Only somebody who has lived life and who has come to appreciate all God has done for them could write as David wrote—

The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want.  (verse 1)

Young or immature believers don’t have an understanding of God’s provision and care.  The apostle Paul did and he put it this way in Philippians 1:6—

[B]eing confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.

Only someone who had experienced the gracious provision of God resulting from living a life of faith is able to write such a sentence.  David and Paul were two such believers, though different in every respect, who lived by faith and experienced the loving care of a loving heavenly Father.  Hopefully you have, as well.  If you are born again, then God has brought you to this very moment in your life.  Whether times are good or bad for you is completely irrelevant to that fact.  If you believe God has brought you to this point in your life, do you think for one moment He would let you go?   After all that David had done in his life against the will of God, God never once left David’s presence!   How many of us, I wonder, are as aware of God’s presence in our lives as David was?

1.  Survey of the chapter

This whole chapter is a record of David’s song of praise.  Without studying each verse and stanza, an important thing to remember is that David was able to write such magnificent words of praise only after having endured some hardship.  During his flight from Saul and after his battles with the Philistines, David did not become depressed or frightened; he did not become despondent and blame God for his problems; he was able to focus on his Deliverer.

Life is rarely easy, yet it is easy to allow life’s trials to dictate our mood and our level of faith and confidence in God.  One thing we notice right from the start is that David, as human and as fallible as he was, had an unshakable, if imperfect, faith in God.   Even while he struggled to bring his actions and decisions in line with his faith, his belief in God’s care and provision never really wavered.

David saw God as his Rock, Fortress, Shield, Horn of salvation, High tower, Savior, and the One worthy of our prayer and praise.  Over the course of his lifetime, especially during the early years when his future was so uncertain from the human perspective, David recognized that it was God who was sustaining Him.    The metaphors and comparisons are striking:

  • Rock.  God is our firm foundation; He is not soft or shifting like sand.  God is always dependable in all His ways.
  • Fortress.  There is protection in a relationship with God.  Elsewhere the Psalmist wrote these memorable words—

He will cover you with his feathers, and under his wings you will find refuge; his faithfulness will be your shield and rampart.

You will not fear the terror of night, nor the arrow that flies by day, nor the pestilence that stalks in the darkness, nor the plague that destroys at midday.  (Psalm 91:4—)

  • Shield.  Again, we have a battle metaphor.  God is seen as protection surrounding His followers; He absorbs the blows of the enemy; He stops the onslaught from touching those He loves, who are trusting in Him.
  • Horn of salvation.  In Hebrew history, the “horn of salvation” was a sign of power; it came to refer to the saving power of the king.  Here the king describes His God as HIS saving power!
  • High tower.  Like a tower afforded protection and visibility, so God protects us and is never caught off guard because He sees everything that comes at us; no attack of the enemy ever catches our Lord off guard!
  • Savior.  Only God is able to save; He saves us from attacks of the enemy and he saves us throughout all eternity by forgiving our sins and imparting new life to us.
  • The One worthy of prayer and praise.  What a marvelous way to describe God.  He is worthy of our time in prayer because He hears us and He answers our prayers.  Because God desires what is best for us and desires His will to be accomplished in our lives, He deserves our highest praise.  What God gives us He will take away.

2.  God’s deliverance is always needed, verse 18

He rescued me from my powerful enemy, from my foes, who were too strong for me.

Here is a powerful picture of God’s indignation and readiness to vindicate,  not only the psalmist, but all who put their trust in Him.  The Lord is ever watchful, ever ready to intervene and pluck His loved ones from the hand of the enemy.  Plumer observed,

God’s grasp cannot be broken.  None can pluck His children out of His hand.

Notice what David says:  his enemies were too strong for him.  There was no pride here; no arrogant presumption; only complete dependence on God.  The enemy of God’s people is too strong for them, but not too strong for God!  That great trinity of evil:  the world, the flesh, and the Devil all conspire to bring about our downfall, and when we face their attacks on our own, in our own strength, we will fall every time.  Followers of Christ are unbeatable only when we, like David, learn to recognize the real power of the enemy, then trust in His deliverance.  John, the brother of our Lord wrote this:

You, dear children, are from God and have overcome them, because the one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world.  (1 John 4:4)

3.  God’s deliverance is supernatural, verse 17

He reached down from on high and took hold of me; he drew me out of deep waters.

David did not fear the awesome power of God grabbing hold of him.  When we need help the most; when we find ourselves in awful situations, whether they be the result of demonic onslaughts from without or the consequences of bad choices we have made, God never comes to His children in anger!  Though we may find ourselves going down for the last time, the Lord always prevails over the circumstances that confound us.  God alone can deliver us from all adversity, providing a new dimension of life, for nobody is closer to his Lord than the one who has experienced His mighty deliverance!

When we look at David’s life, from the very beginning his help came from above.  When God sent the prophet Samuel to David, he anointed David from head to toe with the holy oil, symbolic of the Holy Spirit.  When God saw the wretchedness of man, He sent help from above in the form of His Son:

For God so loved the world, He sent His only Son… (John 3:16a)

When the infant Church, called into existence by God, built upon Christ, needed empowerment, that power came from above:

They saw what seemed to be tongues of fire that separated and came to rest on each of them.  All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit.  (Acts 2:3, 4)

Our help always comes from above.  From the moment of our new birth, the Lord comes again and again to us supernaturally, to rescue us, to sustain us, and to uphold us.

4.  God’s deliverance is personal, verse 17

He reached down from on high and took hold of me; he drew me out of deep waters.

What an amazing testimony David had!  What an amazing testimony we all have.  God’s help is always personal.  God treats His children as the individuals they are.  There are two things every believer should avoid.  First, we should never think God will “take hold” of others, leaving us behind because we think we are undeserving of His help.  For the sake of the Son of God, God the Father has bound Himself to all who have called upon His grace and mercy.   God reached down to save us and He continues to save us from all the horrible pits we stumble into.

I waited patiently for the LORD; he turned to me and heard my cry.  He lifted me out of the slimy pit, out of the mud and mire; he set my feet on a rock and gave me a firm place to stand.  (Psalm 40:1, 2)

God’s salvation is personal, and so is His continued help in troubled time.  Wait patiently.  Never give up.  Don’t be overwhelmed.  Secondly, we should never assume that God will help us the exact same way He may have helped someone else.  God has a plan for us all; it is a tailor-made plan that suits the individual.  Never limit God to what you have seen or even experienced before.  Our God has a boundless imagination; let Him use it freely to help you!

5.  God’s deliverance is great, verse 17

He reached down from on high and took hold of me; he drew me out of deep waters.

The picture David drew is that of a man drowning in the ocean.  Many are the threats and dangers that confront the believer every day.  Every day, every believer struggles with temptation, with fear, with doubt and uncertainty, with anger and jealousy, with despair and anxiety; every day we find ourselves treading water, trying desperately to keep afloat.

For David, the Lord saved him over and over from the hands of the murderous King Saul.  The Lord delivered David from the giant Goliath.  The Lord strengthened David even in waters of affliction of his own making.  The King was drawn from the rapids of guilt when Nathan promised God’s forgiveness of David’s sin.  David may have deserved another fate, but God reached down and pulled him up.

God’s deliverance is great, because the problems of life are great.  Those who have never experienced God’s deliverance have never really asked for it or expected it.  There are Christians who would rather go at it alone; God is a gentleman and He never forces Himself on anybody.  But what a waste of resources!  What arrogance we have; thinking we can deliver ourselves!

6.  God’s deliverance gives Him joy, verse 20

He brought me out into a spacious place; he rescued me because he delighted in me.

This is such an amazing verse to consider!  Not only does God deliver us from our troubles, this verse really expresses the ultimate triumph of faith.  The Lord is faithful to deliver us, but He not only delivers us from our trouble, but to a better place!   Instead of “disaster,” the Lord gives “support.”  Instead of “distress,” the Lord gives “a spacious place.”  Instead of hopelessness, the Lord give hope.  This is the God who loves us.  The love of God is expressed by David in a stunning series of verbs:  God “reached down…took hold of me…drew me out of the deep waters…He rescued…He brought me out…He rescued me.” This is the love God, not only for David, but for all believers.  God is the One who acts first.  God is the one whose love is manifested by action, not merely words.   God’s wondrous acts of deliverance are proof of His love.

God delivers because He loves, but also because it gives Him joy!  David wrote that:

[God] delighted in me.

God delights in His children; what a thought!  Yet that delight is not a result of something in us, but something in God; it is part of His character.  There is something in God that gives Him joy when He helps us.  Will you be the cause of His joy by allowing Him to deliver you?  God’s love and generosity are fathomless in regard to those who love Him.

7.  God’s deliverance is satisfying, verse 20

He brought me out into a spacious place; he rescued me because he delighted in me.

It’s strange that some people, even those who call themselves Christians, are actually afraid to be drawn out of their sea of sins and/or problems for fear that they should be brought into a narrow place, where they would never again experience happiness or joy.  Did you know that God wants you to be full of joy?

Until now you have not asked for anything in my name. Ask and you will receive, and your joy will be complete.  (John 16:24)

God does not want to steal your joy by stealing the things that make you happy, but God does want your joy and happiness to be based on Him, not on “things.”  But as we grow in grace, we learn that and we appreciate that.  There are many miserable Christians in the world who have accepted the tiniest portion of the legacy God has for them because they are afraid that if they have too much of God, they will lose too much.  How sad!  When God saves us and when He continues to deliver us, He puts us in a place we could never have imagined!  When we have been brought out of the kingdom of darkness and placed in the kingdom of light, there are blessings for us beyond our wildest imaginings.  Even while living and working in a sinful, depressed and depressing world, we who put our trust wholly in God will find that we are immune to the world around us.  That is not some pie-in-the-sky denial of reality, it IS reality for the believer because we have God’s promise.

Conclusion

It’s sad but true:  there are many Christians who could never write what David wrote because, by their own choice, they have never experienced the supernatural deliverance God so willingly provides.  To them, the world must seem like a cold, threatening, evil place, full of sadness, disappointments, and unfulfilled dreams.  I would encourage you, if you are like that, to at least open your mind to the reality of what God is offering.  Take full advantage of God’s help; reach out in faith believing, and you will experience a side of God that will forever change, not only the way you view God, but also the way you view the world in which you live.  When you walk in the light of His deliverance, the worst the world can offer is but a  minor inconvenience in comparison to greatness of His work in you.

(c)  2009 WitzEnd

GOD’S ANOINTED: The Biggest Mistake of His Life

2 Samuel 12:1—14

The story behind 2 Samuel 12 takes place in the preceding chapter.  David, it seems, was the kind of person who had to learn life’s lessons the hard way.  He learned how to show due reverence to the holy things of God, but that lesson cost another man his life.  In 2 Samuel 11, David learns the price a man pays for an adulterous affair; another man dies, as does a baby.

The sad story of David’s dalliance with Bathsheba reminds us of what Paul wrote in 1 Corinthians 10:12—

So, if you think you are standing firm, be careful that you don’t fall!

One of the many lessons we learn from the story of David and Bathsheba is that backsliding never begins with an overt act of sin, but always in the secret thoughts of the heart.  Another very comforting lesson is that Christians, like David, may backslide and fall out of fellowship and favor with God, but they don’t cease to be His children any more than the prodigal son ceased to be his father’s son, despite his sin.

One can’t help but compare how God dealt with Saul with His treatment of David.  Both men sinned and both men were at least complicit in the deaths of others, yet Saul was stripped of his kingdom and his sanity while David was forgiven.  Here is another powerful lesson; a man may sin and sin grievously; against both his God and his fellow man, yet if he humbles himself and asks for forgiveness, he will receive it.

1.  Anatomy of a fall from grace, chapter 11

After his prolonged romp with the Philistines, one would think that David had learned his lesson about being in the wrong place at the wrong time.  Yet he is about to make the same mistake again.  With this one single sin, David shatters three commandments:

  • You shall not covet your neighbor’s wife—David did covet Bathsheba
  • You shall not commit adultery—David committed adultery with Bathsheba
  • You shall not commit murder—David had Bathsheba’s husband killed.

In the spring, at the time when kings go off to war, David sent Joab out with the king’s men and the whole Israelite army. They destroyed the Ammonites and besieged Rabbah. But David remained in Jerusalem.  (11:1)

When the time had come to fight, David stayed home in ease while he sent others to do his fighting for him.  At ease and luxury and in indolence, David fell easily into sin, as was the case when he sought rest among the Philistines.  By now, the King was no longer living in faith, rather, he was selfishly living for himself.

One evening David got up from his bed and walked around on the roof of the palace. From the roof he saw a woman bathing. The woman was very beautiful, and David sent someone to find out about her. The man said, “She is Bathsheba, the daughter of Eliam and the wife of Uriah the Hittite.”  Then David sent messengers to get her. She came to him, and he slept with her.  (11:2—4a)

In contrast to his soldiers off on the field of battle, David was in bed taking a siesta!  Literally, this incident probably occurred in the late afternoon, which explains why David could see this beautiful woman so clearly.  God’s anointed, overcome with passion completely forgot to heed the warning which he should have known so well—

[R]emember all the commands of the LORD, that you may obey them and not prostitute yourselves by chasing after the lusts of your own hearts and eyes.  (Numbers 15:39)

Many generations later, David’s virgin-born Descendant would condemn this kind of voyeurism for the sin that it really is—

But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart.  (Matthew 5:28)


David saw her, he wanted her and he got her.  Before the king sent for Bathsheba in 11:4, he had his men get all the information about her, including her marital status; David knew full well this woman was married, but that didn’t stop him from having her brought to him and sleeping with her.

Evil begets evil, one sin leads to another, and Bathsheba became pregnant with David’s child.  The king, in a panic to cover up his sin, eventually had Bathsheba’s husband killed in battle.  While he didn’t personally kill Uriah, David is as guilty of murder as surely as if he was the one who did the deed.  What makes this incident so sad is that Uriah was a Hittite, not a Jew, and yet he was almost certainly a devoted follower of Jehovah, for his name means, “Jehovah is my light.”   Sir Walter Scott, wrote these words in 1808, that perfectly describe this whole sordid mess:

O what a tangled web we weave when first we practice to deceive.

When Bathsheba heard of her husband’s death, she observed the traditional period of mourning, which was a period of seven days, and immediately after that David did the “honorable” thing and took her into his harem.   The man, who was content to be given his kingdom, thought he must seize by force another wife.

Lest you get the idea that Bathsheba was somehow snookered into this, it is highly likely David did exactly what she wanted; Bathsheba seems to have been a very ambitious woman indeed, and was a willing partner in the king’s guilt.  She would control David’s life in many ways until the end of his life (1 Kings 1:11—31).

These two despicable sins stained Israel’s anointed king, but apparently did nothing to his conscience at all.  This whole affair might have gone unnoticed, except for one inescapable fact:

But the thing David had done displeased the LORD.  (11:27b)

David is about to learn another painful fact of life:  sins accumulate and they never go unnoticed.

2.  The fruit of David’s sin, 12:14

But because by doing this you have shown utter contempt for the LORD, the son born to you will die.

The marrying of Bathsheba was a vain attempt to make right his sin in the sight of God.  It serves to this day as a classic example of how man tries to correct his mistakes his own way, foolishly hoping God will honor the attempt.  We learn from chapter 12 in very graphic fashion the truth of these words:

The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit;
a broken and contrite heart,
O God, you will not despise.  (Psalm 51:17)

God had to break David’s spirit, and here is how He did it:

  • God exposed the secret sin, verse 7.  The minute Nathan the prophet said those fateful words, “You are the man,” David knew the jig was up.  Just as Christ was pierced with our sins, so we must be pierced with conviction, and the fastest way to get convicted of sin is to have that sin exposed.  Make no mistake, sin cannot be covered up indefinitely; the truth will come out.
  • God forgave the sin, verse 13, 14.  David fessed up and confessed to the sin, although he had no real choice.  He confessed, the Lord accepted the confession and He forgave David.  His repentance was immediate and complete; David neither excused the sin nor did he try to justify it or cover it up.  For the first time, David saw his sins the way God did, and that broke the king’s spirit.  The divine and just penalty for his sins was remitted and Nathan the prophet assured David that he would not die.
  • God allowed drastic consequences despite His forgiveness, verse 14.  Even though David was forgiven, there was a terrible consequence that would follow:  the child born of adultery would die.  Some people see this as such a harsh judgment; the child had done nothing wrong, after all.  However, we need to understand the gravity of David’s sin.  It was not adultery and it was not murder.  Note verse 14 carefully as it appears in the KJV—

But because by doing this you have made the enemies of the LORD show utter contempt, the son born to you will die.”

That was the real sin.  This is the greatest sin of all; when the conduct of a believer causes unbelievers to mock and deride and blaspheme God.  The death of the child would forever point to a sin-avenging, just and holy God.  The death of David and Bathsheba’s son occurred a year or so after the sin was committed, so some time had elapsed before Nathan confronted David and exposed his sin.

3.  Lingering consequences

It may be that during the year or so that elapsed between David’s sin and his judgment he thought his indiscretion was overlooked by God.  Maybe his marriage to Bathsheba was enough.  Unfortunately, God cannot be mocked, and His word is final.  God keeps His promises; all of them.  Promises of blessings and also promises judgment will come to pass.

After Nathan had gone home, the LORD struck the child that Uriah’s wife had borne to David, and he became ill.  (verse 15)

The child became sick.  Had David learned his lesson this time?  Apparently so; David fasted and prayed for the boy’s recovery.  Night and day he hoped and prayed, but to no avail; sin must always be atoned for.  When the boy died, the servants were amazed at the change in David—

“While the child was still alive, I fasted and wept. I thought, ‘Who knows? The LORD may be gracious to me and let the child live.’  But now that he is dead, why should I go on fasting? Can I bring him back again? I will go to him, but he will not return to me.”  (verses 22, 23)

Indeed David learned his lesson, but even more than that, here is we see why David was treated so differently than his predecessor, Saul.  That last sentence shows the kind of faith David had.  Despite his sin and failings, David still had faith in God because the Holy Spirit still resided in Him.  How else could a father resign himself to the death of his son?  David knew the boy went to be with God, and he knew that one day he would see his son in glory.  If there was every any doubt where the spirit of a child goes upon their death, let that doubt be gone!  David knew, and so should we.

The consequences of David’s one night of illicit passion, however, extended well past the death of his boy.  His sin haunted him all the days of his life—

Now, therefore, the sword will never depart from your house, because you despised me and took the wife of Uriah the Hittite to be your own.’  “This is what the LORD says: ‘Out of your own household I am going to bring calamity on you. Before your very eyes I will take your wives and give them to one who is close to you, and he will sleep with your wives in broad daylight.  You did it in secret, but I will do this thing in broad daylight before all Israel.’

The awful aftermath of sin is now revealed.  Because David had used the sword of the Ammonites to kill Uriah, violence would forever be a part of the house of David.  Because he had secretly taken another man’s wife, his own wives would be taken from him publicly.  And these lingering consequences would be all the worse because they would come, not from strangers and enemies, but from his own family.

Sin against others is always sin against God.

Conclusion

What happened to David should cause all of us to fall to our knees and thank God for Jesus Christ!  He bore the judgment of all our sins.  We will never be judged for our sins, in this world or the next, like David was, because of Christ’s sacrificial, atoning, and substitutionary death on the Cross.  Yet, when we willfully cross the line and knowingly transgress the will and commands of God, we will face the natural consequences of our acts.  God is gracious and merciful to forgive us, but the awfulness of sin must be seen and experienced so that we, like David, may learn the true cost of living for ourselves.

(c)  2009 Witzend

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