Bible Study

May 2017
Emotional Revisions

You would think it was a “fish story” the way some liberals play with stories of America’s historical past. They have twisted the background of many good people into darkness, and have shoved into the limelight others who were less than commendable only because their lives resound with the current agenda. These story twisters are known as revisionists. “Those who don’t know history are doomed to repeat it.”

In our personal lives, we sometimes have revisionistic emotions. There are two emotions which plague the people in 2 Samuel 16-18. These emotions cause them to try to rewrite their story the way they thought it should have been. “There is not a lot of money in revenge,” said one sword-wielding assassin. The truth is, there is not much of anything in revenge. Those who secretly wait and conspire against others because of some past wrong are hollow-souled. They want to settle the score, but they are playing a losing game. As David flees from Absalom, Ziba meets David with supplies and a story. He accuses Mephibosheth of consorting with the king’s enemies. He is immediately granted everything that belonged to Mephibosheth. The way Ziba shows up to help David cross the Jordan back to Jerusalem seems to indicate he was getting back what he felt he deserved.

Shimei seizes the opportunity to vent and kick David while he is down. He shouts and hurls insults against David. As a decedent of Saul, it was time to gloat over the humiliation of the rejected king’s successor. Yet another person who could not let go of the past

The most surprising vengeful conspirator is Ahithophel, the king’s faithful counselor. Why would Ahithophel turn against David? He seems to have such a long history with the king? It is possible Ahithophel waited patiently for years to strike back. The shame and humiliation David served Ahithophel’s family was to be repaid at the most opportune moment. It was a decision where David, a man with power and respect, took advantage of a granddaughter and murdered a grandson by marriage. The pain had chaffed at him for years. After Absalom enters Jerusalem, Ahithophel instructs Absolom to humiliate David and eagerly desires to take 12,000 men to hunt down David and slaughter him. This was not a man who was looking for the next ride to the top. It was more than that. He wanted to destroy David while he was helpless…maybe as helpless as Uriah the Hittite might have been when he was killed in battle. As the grandfather of Bathsheba, Ahithophel capitalized on the moment to complete the tortuous revenge against David (2 Samuel 11:3; 23:34).

These vengeful people wanted to rewrite their stories and the lives of others in order to put things the way they should be. Revenge is not the only emotion that desires to rewrite the past. David’s irrational favor for Absolom similarly tries to rewrite history. The times he was not the father he was supposed to be. The times he ignored Absolom. The times he did not deal with sin in the family the way it should have been. All of that was supposed to be rewritten when his faithful and might men met Absolom. They were to deal gently with him, a traitor! The emotion of regret also desires to rewrite the past so we can live in a more comfortable present.

Paul could have lived with revenge or regret, but he said, “This one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before” (Philippians 3:13). Paul realized his life was before him. To live in the past feeds revenge or feeds regret until they overpower your rationale. Forget the past and press toward the future. Strive for the prize.

May 2017
Would You Rather?

“Would you rather have a nose like an elephant or a neck like a giraffe?”

I was asking my children in the department store as we waited for my wife to make final selections for purchase. It really is not a fair question because you would rather have neither of those distortions, but life is full of paradoxical “would you rather” moments.

Between 2 Samuel 11-12 and 1 Chronicles 20, the question is would you rather slay the sons of Goliath or the seduction of the flesh? I think David would rather slay the seduction of the flesh and wait on God to give him victory over the physical giants another day. Could he really have victory both times? There are interesting contrasts between the two passages. In one the nine-foot nemesis is slain; the other the hero falls. In Chronicles 20, they were armed and prepared for battle; in Samuel 11, David was not armed nor vigilant. In one, the innocent were protected from the enemy; in the other, the innocent were ravished by the protector. In the latter, there was a reliance upon God and action to do His will. In the former, there was a repose in the lap of luxury and self-confidence. In Chronicles, David had servants helping him win victories. In Samuel, David had servants helping him complete his devious plot.

Charles Spurgeon said, “The armorbearer of Sin is Self-confidence.” The Apostle Paul said, “Wherefore let him that thinketh he standeth take heed lest he fall” (1 Corinthians 10:12). When we are alone we are most vulnerable. David did not have to be alone. He could have surrounded himself with others who would challenge him to do the Lord’s bidding. Yet, he was alone and available. His love had altered. For when “the law of his God is in his heart, none of his steps shall slide” (Psalm 37:31). However, that was not the case.

We could not imagine facing our national enemy unarmed. America spends more than any other nation in the defense of our freedom. Yet, how naive we are to face a more sinister foe unarmed. We are caught unsuspecting and we pay the price. Spurgeon also said of this passage, “Woe unto those who go forth into the world, or even dare to walk their own house unarmed.” The question is would you rather enjoy the pleasures of sin for a season, or endure for the commendation of God? Would you rather indulge in the lust of the flesh and have the sword of regret discomfit your future, or do the will of God and have none of your steps slide?

Let’s avoid the awkward choice of “would you rather.” Don’t let a moment pass without being vigilant and armed. For we wrestle not against flesh and blood. Let us fight a good fight so that we may receive the crown of righteousness promised to those who love the Lord’s appearing and look for it unashamed.

“For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world. And the world passeth away, and the lust thereof: but he that doeth the will of God abideth for ever” (1 John 2:16-17).

May 2017
Do As You Have Said

Imagine David’s euphoria at this climax in his life. After the disappointment at Perezuzzah, it seems David searches Scripture and sought the face of God. As he drew near to God, God drew near to David. The celebration as the ark of God came to Jerusalem thrilled David’s soul. The people left praising God because he took on the gracious nature of God. David was had favor with God and with men. He had rest from his enemies. He was dwelling in a beautiful home. He was as a child before God, full of devotion and delight. The cherry is carefully placed on top when God promises to make David a house. Echoes of the Abrahamic covenant swell through God’s promise to David. David would not be able to put into words his elation and wonder at God’s blessing. He worships God privately and exclaims, “Do as thou hast said…and let thy name be magnified forever” (2 Samuel 7:25-26).

Give diligence to make your calling and election sure, Believer. For to you, God has given “exceeding great and precious promises” (2 Peter 1:3-4). They are such because he is just. All that God does is balanced with equity. He does not bless on a whim nor recant on a whisper of a thought. If you confess your sin you have a promise, He will forgive you because He is just and righteous. His promises are great nad precious because He is gracious. It is by his grace you are saved. Where sin abounded, grace did much more abound. Come boldly before the throne of grace in any time of need. The value of His promises is esteemed because of the purity of His character. He speaks the truth which God, who cannot lie, promised before the world began. The guarantee of His promises renews each morning. Great is His faithfulness. Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above and comes down from our Father with whom there is no variableness, neither shadow of turning.

May sincerity of heart saturate your worship for God has given unto you exceeding great and precious promises.

May 2017
The Preparation and Presentation of Worship

How much resemblance is there between worship today and worship in 1 Chronicles 15-16? David orchestrated such a festive and celebratory event with the Levites and musicians. There was clearly a plan in place. He instructed them to sanctify themselves. Their worship was conditioned with purity. Every six paces David offered a sacrifice to God. Before they even get to the act of praise, there has been more work done in preparation than in presentation.

Worship should never be a performance. I say it should be a presentation. Michal accused David of performing, but he clarified, “It was before the Lord” (2 Samuel 6:21). His worship was a gift, a presentation to God. I have seen church worship leaders with a beer in their hand Saturday evening. I have known of pastors fooling around during the week instead of preparing. However, many a worshipper in the church who leaves thinking, “I didn’t get much from the service today,” is guilty of the same fault. Lack of preparation equals a deficiency in worship. It is rare you get more out of worship than you put into it. How much preparation of your heart do you exercise before you worship? How much do you crave purity before you praise the King of Kings? Do you come with a heart full of grief and a hand empty of gift?

I would guess worship is 80% preparation before you even enter the house of worship. The exuberance you see as David leads Israel in worship is al natural. The closer your heart to God and the cleaner your heart is with God, your worship is exponentially more meaningful. How much are you willing to prepare for worship?

May 2017
Who Will Serve the King?

As you read through 1 Chronicles 12, did you catch the nationalism? The writer is bursting with pride as he recounts the grandeur of an age once upon a time. Frances Havergal also was moved by this passage as well. She wrote the song, “Who Is on the Lord’s Side?” expressing her loyalty to the King. The question for you this morning is this: Will you serve the King?

The chapter approaches folklore status as the most valiant and talented of all Israel yield their services to their king. With such a gathering of talent, David had to be a superb leader. In many ways he was, and his first orders of the state were to inquire after God and fight against God’s enemies. The key to leading a nation, even more, a league of talent resides within these two stories. The first story highlights an oversight the second highlights the power of proper reliance. David’s first desire was to bring the ark of God to Jerusalem. This truly was noble, but the transportation of the ark was a grizzly oversight. The oversight might have been linked to presumption which is this: All that matters is if you are doing a good thing; how you do it is inconsequential. Probably the chief nemesis of functional Christianity is doing good things, yet never considering the will of God. It really is a testimony to our own legacy. We desire to worship God, but we whittle it down to questions like, “What works in my community?” or “What style does the next generation appreciate?” We are parading God around on an ox cart. People desire to do a good thing, but when it gratifies some internal desire or tickles their ears, is it done for the right person? The dormant truth lying within each person is we naturally pursue our own desires instead of truly serving the King. When David’s good intention was rebuffed by God, he questioned, “How shall I bring the ark of God home to me” (1 Chronicles 13:12)? Does that not sound a little self-centered?

In the next chapter, David learned to rely upon God. This step-by-step reliance wisely counseled him to victory. David learned doing a good thing in itself is not satisfactory. Who are you serving? This is really the question. If you are serving the King, then you do what the King wants the way the King wants it. Doing a good thing and doing it God’s way yields reward. Don’t fill your life with good things to serve yourself. It is not about you. It’s about the King. Keep it about the King by doing it His way.