2 Samuel 20-24 (NLT) 

Discover His heart: His nature is forgiving and endlessly good

David may have been the original Renaissance Man – multitalented to say the least.  I’m hard pressed to think of another man who has carried the titles of shepherd, king, giant slayer, harp player, warrior, song writer and God lover.  Really. Who does all that? 

@ 2 Samuel 22
In the later years of his life, David fought a few more battles, killed a few more giants and wrote a beautiful song of praise and thanksgiving to God, almost identical to Psalm 18.  In this chapter, he listed many of the characteristics of God he had observed throughout his lifetime of intimacy with Him. “The Lord is my rock, my fortress, and my savior; my God is my rock, in whom I find protection. He is my shield, the power that saves me, and my place of safety. He is my refuge, my savior.” (2-3)

In His writing, David described a God who forgives, listens, defends, rescues, rewards, sees, shows faithfulness, reveals, enables, trains, helps, strengthens, preserves, avenges and loves.  Is this the God that I know?  Yes, yes and yes!  Because He lives with us, as we read in Exodus yesterday, we have the opportunity to observe all sides of His nature, and this is Who He is!

After reviewing David’s life for the past few weeks in our reading, including the Bathsheba incident, we may question David’s declaration of innocence in verses 21-25, “The Lord rewarded me for doing right.  He has seen my innocence.”  But this is the one characteristic of God that is the most amazing.  When we repent, and David was one who repented, He forgives and forgets.  He really does!

“He has removed our sins as far from us as the east is from the west.” (Ps103:12) God doesn’t throw our repented sins in our faces to prove a point or rehearse them to make us feel badly. We live with the consequences of sin and often have trouble forgiving and forgetting ourselves, but He moves on. He wants our relationship with Him to continue, unfettered and unblemished. David said with confidence, “Purify me from my sins, and I will be clean; wash me, and I will be whiter than snow.”(Ps51:7)

When I’m facing a difficult challenge or when life has thrown a few blows my way, I read the Psalms of David because of this expressive man’s ability to communicate the characteristics of God – He is the One who forgives, listens, defends, rescues, and the list goes on and on… 

Moving Forward: Because of God’s character, I move on with Him today as one of His forgiven, unfettered and unblemished, ever encouraged by the amazing nature of my God. 

Tomorrow @ Psalms 60-62

Psalms 57-59 (NLT) 

Discover His heart: He shelters me from all harm and places a song in my heart

When I was a very little girl, I used to run to my mom’s billowy skirt when I was afraid, embarrassed or shy.  Just like June Cleaver, mothers years ago actually wore dresses or skirts all day long at home, and my mom’s skirt often offered the security I was looking for.  I remember hiding within its folds as it wrapped itself around me.  She would reach down with a hand and caress me to let me know she was there and everything was just fine. As the years went on, I found an even greater place of safety during troubled times, a place known well to our Psalmist.

As he did through much of his life. David was living through some difficult times in these three Psalms.  In them we see his humanity, his frustration and anger at the deeds of his enemies.  We can identify with him, whether on a personal basis or in our disgust with societal evils.  David’s ability to tell God just exactly how he felt without embarrassment or fear of retribution reveals how intimate his relationship with God truly was.  Psalm 58 shows David fiercely angry with evil justices and rulers, calling for God’s judgment on them; but before long he, too, was judged for his evil deeds.  Yes, David was very human.  However, in all his troubles, he knew that God was his only hope. 

@ Psalm 57
David was in a cave hiding from King Saul, his one-time mentor, who was now gunning for him in a jealous rage.  Even when given opportunity to kill his enemy, David had chosen to hide rather than touch God’s anointed one.  In our challenges, sometimes we fight and sometimes we wait and trust. David often referred in Psalms to his hiding place, the shelter of God’s wings: “I will hide beneath the shadow of your wings until the danger passes by.” (1)  Just like David, I sometimes run to shelter myself beneath the shadow of His wings as His billowy garments wrap themselves around me.  I feel His caress and know that everything will be just fine.

Although David was surrounded by his enemies who devoured their prey and whose words cut like a sword, he proclaimed, “My heart is confident in you, O God; my heart is confident.  No wonder I can sing your praises!  Wake up my heart!..I will wake the dawn with my song.” (7-8)  If he was able to wake the dawn, then David must have known some sleepless nights.  What a victorious way to welcome the dawn, with a song from his heart!  His mind would advise him to quake with fear, to fret away the sleepless hours, but his heart was filled with a song of confident trust in God.

While I’m not so sure that hearing my early morning vocals is the way my husband wants to start his day, I’m determined to sing through those sleepless hours that I face from time to time and wake the dawn with a song of confident trust in Him.  Knowing my husband like I do, I’m fairly certain he’ll sing right along. 

Moving Forward: In the challenges I face today, whether called to fight or to shelter, I will run to Him for help.  From early morning I will sing the song of confident trust in Him. What a great day!

Tomorrow @ Job 39-40

Psalms 54-56 (NLT) 

Discover His heart: He understands our sorrows and collects our tears

When I was just a young girl, I had a friend who really let me down and I was heartbroken.  My mom consoled me by letting me know that throughout life most of my friends would let me down at one time or another and that she would too. I remember saying something along the line of, “Thanks, Mom, for that encouragement.”  She went on to say that I would let my friends down on occasion as well, and sadly, she was right.  However, she continued by saying that there was one friend who would never let me down, one that I could trust in every situation every day of my life.  Of course, that friend is Jesus.

I’ve found my mom’s words to be true.  Sometimes we disappoint each other, but today we read about David who knew rejection and pain from those who were the closest to him. The pain was unbearable.  Hopefully we’ll never experience the depth of his sorrow, but if we do, we can run for comfort to the one who will never let us down just as David did. 

@ Psalm 55
Most believe Psalm 55 to be David’s response to the rebellion of his son Absalom, and the betrayal of one of his closest advisers, Ahithophel, a story we will read in 2 Samuel 15-19.  Absalom was out to kill him and steal his throne, and rather than face his son, David cried out to God, “Oh, that I had wings like a dove; then I would fly away and rest!  I would fly far away to the quiet of the wilderness.  How quickly I would escape – far from this wild storm of hatred.” (6-8)  Unless we’ve experienced it ourselves, it’s difficult to grasp the depths of pain associated with this kind of hatred from a relative or close friend.  I, too, would want to run away rather than face this pain head on.

David’s description gives us a brief look into Jesus may have felt at the betrayal of Judas.  “It is not an enemy who taunts me—I could bear that…Instead, it is you—my equal, my companion, and close friend.  What good fellowship we once enjoyed as we walked together to the house of God.” (12-14)  I think about how the denial of Peter must have stung the heart of Jesus at the most difficult moment in His life on earth.  God understands more than we can imagine our pain when we are hurt by others.

@ Psalm 56
“You keep track of all my sorrows.  You have collected all my tears in your bottle.  You have recorded each one in your book.”  (8)  The One who knows how many hairs I have on my head, and probably the only one who knows their true color, also keeps track of all my sorrows and collects my tears.  This intimacy with my Creator and my God brings me to my knees.  How can I remain glum and sorrowful with Him on my side?  David expressed it well, “I trust in God, so why should I be afraid?  What can mere mortals do to me?” (11)

Although I’ve known my share of pain, I have not walked this path of despair to the degree of David, and none of us have experienced what Jesus did.  However, God keeps track of all our sorrows and this tells us that we are not alone. He is with us, collecting teardrops along the way.  Even in all of this pain, David encouraged, “Give your burdens to the Lord, and He will take care of you.  He will not permit the godly to slip and fall.” (55:12) 

Moving Forward: With the knowledge that He is with me and caring for me, I step out bravely today because I trust Him. 

Tomorrow @ Job 37-38

2 Samuel 10-14 (NLT) 

Discover His heart: He draws us to repentance and forgives our sins

When bystanders are interviewed after a robbery or an attack, each one gives a little different account of what took place.  Some focus on the victim, some see only the robber and others will give an accurate description of clothing worn.  The observers focus on the part of the altercation that means the most to them, the part that captures the heart. Our hearts will generally dictate our focus.  In our reading today, David had a heart condition, and it obviously directed his focus. 

@ 2 Samuel 11
David > gentle shepherd > giant slayer > great warrior > brave king > God’s own heart > adulterer……What?  Say it isn’t so!  How does this happen?

“In the spring of the year, when Kings normally go out to war…David stayed behind.” (1)  Spring was the time for kings to pursue and to conquer with the blessings of good weather, not too cold, not too hot.  The leader of Israel was on assignment to regain the land that was promised to Abraham.  It was not the time to rest on any laurels or bask in the glow of past victories.  David neglected his duties, and that neglect resulted in a tangled web of sin, murder and cover up. Sir Walter Scott’s famous saying certainly would apply to part of this scenario, “Oh what a tangled web we weave when first we practice to deceive.”

At any point in this painful account, David could have changed the outcome. Perhaps he could have practiced the “eye bounce” method when he first saw Bathsheba on her roof.  He could have spent some time with one of his many wives or concubines. He could have confessed his sin immediately and bore the consequences like a man.  But the problem began when he failed to do what he had been purposed to do.  While it may be a stretch to expect David to have admired his neighbor’s hydrangeas rather than the bathing Bathsheba, he really should not have been in this position in the first place.  Before there was lust, murder and deceit, there was a heart problem.

We’re not privy to what caused David’s heart problem, this man who had been described as one after God’s own heart (I Samuel 11:14).  Perhaps he was fatigued from all he had endured up to this point, and isn’t this when the enemy often attacks?  David would have been better served to ask God for strength to go to battle.  Perhaps he felt entitled to a little R & R or a little something extra for all his past goodness.  Pride is the precursor to a downfall (Proverbs 16:18).  There was a reason David stayed behind, and this begs the question, am I doing what God has purposed for me to do or have I put myself in a position to compromise?

The good news in this story is that David repented of his dreadful sins, and God forgave him.  Sadly, the repercussions of his acts were widespread and long lasting, all of which could have been avoided if, in the spring of the year, David had gone to war.  As I walk through each day, where does my heart direct my focus?  And if I should sadly find myself on the edge of compromise, do I look for the hydrangeas or do I see the harmful thing.  Tough questions, but worthy of the asking. 

Moving Forward: Today I ask the tough questions to keep me true to my purpose and my heart focused on Him. 

Tomorrow @ Psalms 54-56

Psalms 51-53 (NLT)

Discover His heart: He will never reject a broken spirit and a contrite heart

The ocean is dramatic, the mountains are majestic, but for me nothing beats the white and purity of new fallen snow, pure and simple.  Of course, science tells us that this moisture falling through the atmosphere collects dirt particles and debris, etc., but as its glistening blanket covers the earth, we only see spotless white.  In light of this, it’s humbling to imagine ourselves as whiter than snow because of His purification, but this was the cry of David’s heart as he cried out to God in repentance. 

@ Psalm 51
“Purify me from my sins, and I will be whiter than snow… Remove the stain of my guilt. Create in me a clean heart, O God.  Renew a loyal spirit within me.” (7,9-10)  God forgave David for his dreadful sins in the Bathsheba moment of his life because of true repentance.  Forgiveness didn’t come because of David’s sorrow for having been caught in his sin or because he feared losing God’s favor, but because of true repentance. Contrition was shown through repentance when David asked of God:

  • Wash me from my guilt (2)
  • Purify me (7)
  • Return my joy (8)
  • Create a clean heart in me (10)
  • Renew a right spirit (10)
  • Restore your presence and Holy Spirit in my life (11)
  • Make me willing to obey, (12) a fearsome request
  • Forgive me (14)

He didn’t ask God to roll back the clock or ignore his sin, and he didn’t offer immediate sacrifices to ease the pain of it all or stop the hand of God.  In return for God’s forgiveness, David said:

  • I will teach your ways to other rebels (13)
  • I will sing of your forgiveness (14) which he did in many, many Psalms
  • I will praise you with unsealed lips (15)

“You do not desire a sacrifice, or I would offer one…the sacrifice you desire is a broken spirit.  You will not reject a broken and repentant heart, O God.” (16-17) It’s human nature to blame others for our sins or even to blame original sin (5-6), but then this would not be true repentance.  A broken spirit says, “I did it.”  A broken and repentant heart says, “I did it. I will do right.”  This He will not reject.

Every day I ask God to purify my heart of all wrong doings – deliberate sins to be sure, but also those more secreted sins, like unforgiveness, judging others, pride, envy, resentment, etc., sins that often lead to deliberate sins when left unchecked.  Secreted sin led David to adultery and murder when first he lusted.  In response to my prayer, God so faithfully reveals to me where I have failed, and when I repent, He forgives and purifies my heart.  And for that, I am eternally grateful. 

Moving Forward:  Purify my heart today, dear Lord.  Make me whiter than snow! 

Tomorrow @ Job 35-36

2 Samuel 5-9 (NLT) 

Discover His heart: His Holy Spirit dwells in us

When I read the story of Uzzah and the Ark, I always think of the first Indiana Jones movie.  Indiana’s arrogant archaeologist rival opened the Ark of the Covenant and then melted into the floor because of the power it contained.  The hero was spared because he respected its power and refused to look on it.  No doubt the author and filmmakers had read some scriptures and took some liberties, but the story does give us pause to consider the unfathomable power of God. 

@ 2 Samuel 6
“…the oxen stumbled, and Uzzah reached out his hand and steadied the Ark of God…God struck him dead because of this.” (6-7)  Frightening.  Uzzah’s motivation was to be helpful, but his action was careless, as was David’s.  Had David followed God’s law in moving the Ark, on poles carried by Levites, Uzzah would never have had to make the choice he did.  It seems that both men in their enthusiasm to move the Ark to Jerusalem failed to reverence its power source.

After Uzzah’s death, David understood the power connected to the Ark and was afraid to have this power source with him in Jerusalem.  Had I been present in the procession that day when David was determining what to do with the Ark, I’d like to think I would have been waving, jumping up and down and calling out, “I’ll take it!  I won’t touch it!”  Can you imagine the very presence of God dwelling in your home?  Blessings for your entire household?

Oh!  That’s right!  His Spirit does dwell with us!  Once we are purified by the blood of Jesus, we house the very Spirit of God, “Don’t you realize that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit, who lives in you and was given to you by God?” (I Corinthians 6:19)  We are not reduced to puddles on the floor in His presence because without this purification, we could never host the Holy Spirit in our homes and experience His wisdom and power in our lives.  But do we really understand the Power within us?

Sometimes I forget the magnitude of hosting the Holy Spirit in my home, and wonder how often I fail to reverence its power source.  Today it’s not a problem of reaching out to touch it as with Uzzah, but it’s more a problem of failing to touch it.  So often I face a challenge, fix this or that problem and carry its stress all by myself when the power source of all Heaven is dwelling in me. “And the Holy Spirit [dwelling in us] helps us in our weakness…pleads for us believers in harmony with God’s own will.” (Romans 8:26-27)

Perhaps our lack in trusting and using this powerful Source within us is a form of disrespect as well.  Because of God’s grace through Jesus Christ, we may not experience a physical meltdown, but we may go through an emotional or spiritual meltdown even though this great power to overcome all challenges is available to us.  With a purified heart, we have no need to fear an Uzzah experience.  The Spirit is on our side and waiting to help us.  Go ahead, reach out and touch Him! 

Moving Forward:  Unafraid, my heart sings for more, “More Love, More Power, More of You in my life. I will worship You with all of my heart…” (J. Del Hierro)  Blessings for my entire household! 

Tomorrow @ Psalms 51-53

2 Samuel 1-4 (NLT) 

Discover His heart: He rewards our patience and integrity; He desires that our zeal is surrendered to Him

“I was just trying to help.”  How many times have we offered this explanation when our attempt to help someone has not been helpful.  Often unsolicited, our help is well-intended but sometimes it doesn’t achieve our goal.  So often we don’t understand the big picture in a situation or the long-term ramifications yet charge ahead with opinions that we feel would be helpful.  Through the years I learned to offer my help to others with enthusiasm; but if it’s not accepted, I know there must be a reason for it.  In our reading today, the less than helpful Amalekite and valiant Asahel had not learned this lesson.

The Amalekites, Esau’s descendants, had been the bane of Israel’s existence for quite some time, and now one lone Amalekite came to David bearing the crown and armband of David’s arch rival, King Saul, announcing his death as well as the death of his son, Jonathan.  Some believe his story of killing Saul to put him out of his misery was fabricated; but regardless of the truth, David did not congratulate him.  “Why were you not afraid to kill the Lord’s anointed one?” (2 Samuel 1:14) Obviously the Amalekite did not anticipate the integrity of David, and David ordered him killed for his terrible deed. I guess he was just trying to help. Shortly after this, David was anointed king of the southern kingdom of Judah. 

@ 2 Samuel 2
Ishbosheth (say that fast three times), Saul’s son, was crowned king of the northern kingdom of Israel, and almost immediately fighting ensued between the divided kingdoms.  David had the three sons of Zeruiah who were dominant figures in his army – Joel, Abishai and Asahel.  Chapter 2 gives the fateful account of the young Asahel who put upon himself the task of taking out Abner, Ishbosheth’s mighty leader.  We learn through this story that the life of even the fastest runner in the land is worth very little when he is running in the wrong direction.  Abner tried hard not to kill this young warrior; but it was kill or be killed, and Asahel died at the hand of the mighty Abner.  Although Asahel’s desire to diminish the strength of the enemy by killing Abner seemed valiant, dead self-directed heroes can do little else for the kingdom.

Not only did Asahel die that day, but his murder sparked a great civil war between the two kingdoms that finally culminated seven years later at the murder of Ishbosheth.  David was crowned king of Israel and the two kingdoms were finally united.  God rewarded David for his integrity and patience.  When the Israelites entered the Promised Land many years before, their assignment was to rid the land of its inhabitants and to build a holy nation, God’s special treasure.  It took many more years to accomplish this than was necessary because of disunity and infighting. Asahel’s self-directed zeal came at a cost. Obedience is better than sacrifice (I Samuel 15:22).

Several times throughout my life I have tried to help God out in areas where He hasn’t asked for my assistance.  My intentions were honorable, but my actions were not.  Anytime I try to be the Holy Spirit, rather than be led by Him, I can expect poor results.  Fortunately, the Lord has not let it kill me, but I have found myself on my knees, asking forgiveness, pleading His mercy. And, true to His nature, He is merciful. The Holy Spirit is big enough for any task and His guidance never misdirects. 

Moving Forward:  Like all the examples from His Word, I receive its life-giving counsel to make me better, more like Him. 

Tomorrow @ Psalm 48-50