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 to keep my heart focused on Him. 

Tomorrow @ Psalms 54-56

Job 31-32 (NLT)

Discover His heart: His wisdom is for young and old alike – ours for the asking

Our eyes are inundated with stimulating and suggestive sights just about everywhere we go, whether in public places, on the television or on our computers. We may be minding our own business, not seeking out anything questionable yet be assaulted dead on. We need to understand that we control how we respond to these visual encounters. I appreciate the wisdom of author Steve Arterburn who cautions men on this subject in his book, “Every Man’s Battle,” and encourages the bounce response.

Arterburn suggests that when the eyes encounter those things that are stimulating and suggestive, quickly bounce the eyes to something else rather than linger. In his day, Job wasn’t privileged nor was he challenged by the media we have at our disposal, but evidently he still was tested in this area and had his own method of dealing with it.

In Chapter 31, Job made his last appeal to the jury of friends about his innocence.  Although his defense had sounded arrogant at times, Job was a good man who loved God. “I made a covenant with my eyes not to look with lust at a young woman.” (31:1) Sin first entered the garden when Eve saw the fruit, lingered on it, and then considered it. With all that is thrown in our view today, oh that we will make a covenant with our eyes like Job did, men and women alike.

Job pleaded innocent to sins against God, to sins against other people and to sins against himself – but no one believed him. Job’s friends felt that all suffering was the punishment for sin. They deducted either God was wrong, or Job was lying, and God is never in error. The three tormentors gave up and finally shut their mouths…ahhhh.

Enter the smart young voyeur into this conversation, Elihu, the moderator in this trial.  While trying to find a solution to this ongoing dispute, Elihu had plenty of insults to pass around, first to the three friends that he thought unwise. Many things Elihu spoke were true, for example, “There is a spirit within people, the breath of the Almighty within them, that makes them intelligent.”(32:8) All wisdom comes from God and is available to all, but it’s usually our experiences in life that cause us to draw from that wisdom.

Naturally, older people have more experiences than do young people, and wisdom hopefully follows those experiences. However, I’ve known many young ones with wisdom beyond their years because they have sought the Source of all wisdom. We can also receive the gift of wisdom, supernatural wisdom that has no age boundary, and also the wisdom given freely by God to those who ask for it. (James 1:5) We really have no valid excuse for the foolish things we do at times.

Elihu concluded his speech explaining that he was like a cork ready to pop with all the wisdom he possessed. I would say that only the young could be so confident, and as we read over the next few chapters, we learn that he, too, was incorrect in his counsel to Job. Imagine.

It was wisdom that led Job to make a covenant with his eyes – an agreement, a treaty, a promise, a commitment – not to look with lust on any woman. Wisdom will always lead us to make right choices in life. I remember a little song we sang in Children’s Church when I was young that helped me to understand at a very early age that we control our steps and actions each day. “Be careful little feet where you go…be careful little hands what you do…be careful little eyes what you see…For the Father up above is looking down in love, so be careful little eyes what you see.” Well, we never outgrow that need to be careful, and that is wise.

Moving Forward: I make a covenant with my eyes not to look at any person, place or thing with selfish desire. I seek His wisdom that He offers so freely in all that I think, do and say.

Tomorrow @ Jeremiah 17-21