Lucia's Blog: 2014
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Isaiah 55:8-9

Isaiah 55:8-9

Thursday, October 30, 2014

THE BLESSINGS OF PAIN

"Do you not know? Have you not heard?  The Everlasting God, the Lord, the Creator of the ends of the earth does not become weary or tired.  His understanding is inscrutable.  He gives strength to the weary, and to him who lacks might He increases power.  Though youths grow weary and tired, and vigorous young men stumble badly, yet those who wait for the Lord will gain new strength; they will mount up with wings like eagles, they will run and not get tired, they will walk and not become weary." 
Isaiah 40:28-31


During my journey with the physical pain of broken bones, I have learned that pain can be good regardless of whether it is inflicted or afflicted, emotional, spiritual or physical.  Pain has taught me to be more careful, so it keeps me from more harm.  Although I am not a fan of any kind of pain, I have learned that enduring it with the right attitude can bring us many blessings.  There are so many lessons we can learn from pain.  It is important to experience pain, that we may learn the blessings that spring out of it.  So often, we miss out on such blessings because we do not learn the spiritual lessons it can bring us.

Many times when pain strikes us, we get upset, angry and frustrated.  Most of us have been there! But it is faith in our God that has always brought us back to the fact that He is still in control, that He holds the future and that we must trust in Him.  He has many times brought me down from the clouds with difficult times that I have learned to trust Him.  Prayer, God's Word and singing songs of praise have helped me find my way back to hope and faith even when I could not see a way out.  In all these I have seen God's beauty.  I thank Him for being faithful and lifting me up when I am struggling.  I am determined not to fail to see the good in it and fail to see the blessings God is bestowing upon me.  He has shown me over and over how much He is mindful of me.  So I have purposed in my heart to keep my eyes open to be able to see the blessings He has provided for me.  I want to put on my blessing lens in order that I may see His hand and mindfulness in my troubled times.

During the past 7 weeks I have learned the blessings pain has brought to my walk with Christ.  It has brought me closer to Him.  Consider the following ways pain helps our Christian walk with our Lord and Savior:

Pain draws us closer to Christ

When one experiences pain, whether it is inflicted or afflicted, we are forced to choose whether we are going to run away so the pain will subside or cling to Jesus tightly.  It is so much easier to run away from pain.  But I choose to hang tightly to Him and draw all the strength I need from Him in order to face my pain.  I am aware whatever pain we go through, pain is very present.  Pain is good for us Christians because the more we learn how to draw strength from our Lord Jesus Christ, the higher our tolerance for pain and challenges is.  YES, this is where I have been blessed, learning TOLERANCE under any circumstance.  

Pain can help us focus on what is truly important

During the time of my healing I had to wear a cast which in the beginning I hated a lot.  I not only had to learn tolerance but I also had to force myself to stay focused on what was truly important.  I had to focus on something else that was not my pain, my discomfort and frustration.  My cast became a challenge and I felt like running away from it.  This taught me that although we face challenges and experience pain at many different levels, our Lord is giving us a tremendous opportunity to recommit ourselves to our walk with Him and to know the value of such a walk.  There is victory in all this.  It really boils down to your perspective.  The choice is ours as to whether we are going to allow ourselves to refocus on what is truly important.  In my case it was successful healing.

Pain strengthens our character

It is so much easier when one is in pain to give up and run away.  It is easy to lose faith.  But it is here that we have to rely on our Lord Jesus to carry us through our clouds and challenges.  It is here that our character is strengthened.

Pain deepens our Faith

When we find ourselves in the midst of pain, it is when we must force ourselves to open our Bibles, sing songs of praise and pray fervently.  It is in doing all these that we find rest for our souls and we start trusting God, trusting in His promises that He will be with us and that He will provide for our needs.  It is here that we need to believe in Him and go back to Him.  To wait on Him.  This is great gain, great victory.  It is the highest prize.

Pain teaches us compassion

Is it not something, that the people who have suffered the most are usually the most compassionate ones?  The more struggles and challenges a person has had to endure, the more effective they become in being compassionate toward others.  The more they uplift, encourage and help those who are struggling.  They seem to have a heart for others and feel their pain.

Pain makes us supportive

Pain teaches us to support those who have a need for relief from their pain and suffering. Compassion is the fruit of pain and it is manifested when we lift up and support those in pain.

Pain gives us understanding

It is a fact that no one can understand pain better than someone who has already been through it. Understanding is such a great blessing to those who struggle with either chronic illness, invisible illness or any other source of pain, spiritual or emotional.  This understanding of those who are struggling with pain is priceless.

Pain makes us good servants

Pain teaches us to be more compassionate, supportive, and understanding in helping others bear their pain.  Those who have gone through pain have learned to be hospitable and attentive servants even when they themselves are in pain.  They bestow blessings upon others who are suffering and struggling with life's toil, difficulties and storms.

Pain enables us to be sympathetic

Pain teaches us to say the right words in a spirit of sympathy which is so necessary to those who are struggling because of pain.

Pain teaches us empathy

Empathy is a more powerful support than sympathy.  It is a blessing to have someone who has been through the exact struggle you have been through, who can share with you and help you to understand.  It is more than a blessing.  It is a blessing to be a blessing to others.  To return blessings for blessings.

Pain makes us grateful

Pain teaches us to appreciate the little things.  There is so much joy in learning God's beauty in the midst of our suffering.  It is this appreciation for God's beauty that gives us hope and more hope.  We are learning to be grateful to God and others for their help in getting us through the tough times.  We learn the depths of sorrow.  Managing to be grateful helps us to find joy even in the midst of much pain.

In conclusion:  Pain teaches us to be warriors.  It deepens our faith and strengthens our character.  It draws us closer to God with hope and joy.  Pain teaches us perseverance, tolerance and longsuffering which are necessary to the victory of our walk as Christians.

"And not only this, but we also exult in our tribulations, knowing that tribulation brings about perseverance;  and perseverance, proven character; and proven character, hope; and hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out within our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us."  Romans 5:3-5

May the Lord help us to wait for Him until He strengthens us in our times of weakness and pain.  The following song expresses these thoughts beautifully.


Luci

TEACH ME, LORD, TO WAIT

Teach me, Lord to wait
Down on my knees
Till in your own good time
You answer my pleas
Teach me not to rely on what others do
But to wait in prayer
For an answer from You

"He has made everything beautiful in His time."  Ecc. 3:11

Teach me, Lord to wait
While my heart is all aflame
Let me humble my pride
And call on Your name
Keep my faith renewed;
My eyes on Thee,
Let me be on this earth
What You want me to be

"While we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen; for the things which are seen are temporal, but the things which are not seen are eternal."  2 Cor. 4:18

Those who wait upon the Lord
Shall renew their strength
They shall mount up with wings like eagles
They shall run and not be weary
They shall walk and not faint
Teach me, Lord to wait

 "And He has said to me, 'My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness.” Most gladly, therefore, I will rather boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me.'"  2 Cor. 12:9

"And let endurance have its perfect result, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing."  James 1:4


Friday, October 24, 2014

GIANTS OF THE FAITH: SOLOMON ( I KINGS 1-11)




As we have mentioned before in my study of the two Books of Samuel, the focus was mainly upon the establishment of King David's reign.  We saw David fighting to secure his kingship and maintain it as well.  The Books of Samuel are crucial for understanding the Books of Kings which begin with King David on his deathbed and the questions of who will succeed him as king.

The Bible books of I Kings and II Kings were originally one Book as was also I Samuel and II Samuel.  They cover the period from the reign of Solomon all the way to Israel's exile (captivity) in Babylon, circa 586 BC.

The end of David's reign and the beginning of Solomon’s reign (I Kings 1)



The Book of I Kings opens with David advanced in age. He is near the end of his life.  Since he could not keep warm, his servants sought a virgin to attend him and be his nurse. I Kings 1:1-2.  After searching diligently throughout the land of Israel, they found Abishag, a beautiful Shunammite girl.  David's men brought her to serve him and be his nurse.

Since David was no longer able to function as king, the platform was set for others to rise up and take control of the throne.  His son Adonijah was one of them.  He decided to exalt himself as king.  Adonijah, prepared for himself horses and chariots along with fifty men to run before him.  Joab and Abiathar the priest helped him, but Zadok the priest, Benaiah the son of Jehoiada, Nathan the prophet, Shimei, Rei, and the mighty men who belonged to David, were not in favor of his plot.

Adonijah invited all of the family members and all the men of Judah including all the king's servants. He offered sacrifices with sheep and oxen as if he were the crowned king.  Notice that he did not invite Nathan the prophet, Benaiah, the mighty men, and Solomon his brother. It is then that Nathan attempted to speak with Bathsheba saying, "Have you not heard that Adonijah the son of Haggith has become king, and David our lord does not know it?  So now come, please let me give you counsel and save your life and the life of your son Solomon…  Afterward, Bathsheba said to David, 'My lord, you swore to your maidservant by the Lord your God, saying, 'Surely your son Solomon shall be king after me and he shall sit on my throne.'  Now, behold, Adonijah is king; and now, my lord the king, you do not know it.  He has sacrificed oxen and fatlings and sheep in abundance, and has invited all the sons of the king and Abiathar the priest and Joab the commander of the army, but he has not invited Solomon your servant.  As for you now, my lord the king, the eyes of all Israel are on you, to tell them who shall sit on the throne of my lord the king after him.  Otherwise it will come about, as soon as my lord the king sleeps with his fathers, that I and my son Solomon will be considered offenders.'"  I Kings 1:17-21.  She wanted the king to keep his promise.  David then sprang immediately into action and anointed Solomon as king of Israel.  He renounced his own throne in favor of his son Solomon.  Adonijah was then forced to plead for his life before Solomon, who granted the request on the condition that he must prove himself worthy of life.  I Kings 1:49-53.

Solomon's revenge (I Kings 2)

David on his deathbed left Solomon these parting words, "I am going the way of all the earth.  Be strong, therefore, and show yourself a man.  Keep the charge of the Lord your God, to walk in His ways, to keep His statutes, His commandments, His ordinances, and His testimonies, according to what is written in the Law of Moses, that you may succeed in all that you do and wherever you turn, so that the Lord may carry out His promise which He spoke concerning me, saying, ‘If your sons are careful of their way, to walk before Me in truth with all their heart and with all their soul, you shall not lack a man on the throne of Israel."'  I Kings 2:1-4.  David wanted his son Solomon to keep the LORD'S Laws which are His commands, His ordinances, His testimonies, His ways, and His statutes, Psalm 19:7-11.  He also asked Solomon to punish Joab, David's military commander.  Remember, Joab was the one who killed both Abner and Absalom against the king's wishes. David also asked Solomon to punish Shimei who cursed David in public.  Afterward David died.  He had reigned for forty years as Israel's greatest king.

With David now gone, Adonijah reappeared requesting to marry Abishag, the girl who served and took care of David keeping him warm at the end of his life.  With this request, Adonijah was ultimately putting the knife to his own throat.  It was an attempt to establish his own claim to the throne.  Solomon saw through Adonijah's scheme and sent his man to execute Adonijah.  Solomon had Shemei to swear an oath that he would stay in Jerusalem.  He was executed when he tried to run away to Achish son of Maacah, king of Gath.  

Solomon honored his father's requests when he executed both Joab and Shimei.  Now Solomon's place on the throne of Israel was secure.


THE REIGN OF SOLOMON (I KINGS 3-11)


Solomon made an alliance with the Pharaoh king of Egypt by marrying his daughter.  He took her as his wife bringing her to the city of David, while he finished building his palace and the house of the LORD.  He also fortified the wall of Jerusalem.   When Solomon married the Pharaoh's daughter, it was his first action within his newly established kingship.  Following his marriage to the Egyptian princess, Solomon began to worship in the high places.  He and his people were worshiping in the high places because there was no house built for the LORD.  Eventually, worship in the high places became a major issue in the Book of Kings.  Solomon's marriage to Pharaoh's daughter along with worship on the high places brought on major disaster.  His foreign wives turned his heart toward idols and their idol temples.  In His wrath, God tore the nation into two and gave only the tribe of Judah to Solomon’s son Rehoboam.  The rest He gave to Solomon’s servant Jeroboam.

Solomon was king of Israel for forty years.  He was well known for the three w's:  wisdom, wealth and wives.  He is believed to be the writer of much of the Bible's "wisdom literature" in the books of Proverbs and Ecclesiastes.  His wealth was huge.  His wives numbered 700 and his concubines 300.  He is also known as the builder of the Temple.

The first nine chapters that describe Solomon's reign form a five-part "chiasm."  In a "chiasm" the first section matches the fifth (Solomon's wives), the second section matches the fourth (Solomon's wisdom), and finally the climactic center section tells or speaks of the Temple.  The story was written in this form of style to help the listener remember it better.  This was the main purpose for the "chiasm."

Solomon's wives (I Kings 3:1 and 11)

Sadly, Solomon's reign began and ended on sour notes.  He first began with an Egyptian wife (3:1) and ended up with a thousand wives and concubines, most of them foreign (3:11).  Most of these marriages were made with the purpose of forming alliances with other nations.  Unfortunately, this had a profound impact on Solomon's faith toward His God.  It caused him to stumble.  Each of these wives brought along their own household gods.  Solomon was very accommodating.  He allowed his wives to continue to worship these false gods, providing places for them to worship and make sacrifices.  His many wives and their gods turned his heart away from the only true and living God.  In his last years, he foolishly turned away from his Jehovah God and followed his wives' gods.  As a result of this, the LORD raised up enemies both from within and from without Solomon's kingdom.

Fascinating facts:  Siamun

Solomon most likely married the daughter of Siamun, a Pharaoh of Egypt's twenty-first dynasty.  It is also believed that Siamun captured the city of Gezer using it as a dowry for his daughter when she married Solomon.  How about that!  The marriage's main purpose was for political alliances between Egypt and Israel.

The Wisdom of Solomon (I kings 3:2-28-4 and 10)

In the beginning of his reign, Solomon loved Jehovah God and walked in His Law.  Solomon's main problem was that he allowed burned sacrifices in the high places.  When he had established his throne, he worshiped at the principal high places at Gibeon.  One night while he was offering burned offerings there, the LORD appeared to him in a dream.  In his dream the LORD asked him, "Ask what you wish Me to give you. Then Solomon replied, 'You have shown great lovingkindness to Your servant David my father, according as he walked before You in truth and righteousness and uprightness of heart toward You; and You have reserved for him this great lovingkindness, that You have given him a son to sit on his throne, as it is this day.  Now, O Lord my God, You have made Your servant king in place of my father David, yet I am but a little child; I do not know how to go out or come in.  Your servant is in the midst of Your people which You have chosen, a great people who are too many to be numbered or counted.  So give Your servant an understanding heart to judge Your people to discern between good and evil. For who is able to judge this great people of Yours?'"  I Kings 3:6-9.

Notice that Solomon did not request wealth or immortality but rather wisdom so that he might judge the people with understanding.  God was pleased at his choice and so He granted Solomon great wisdom that surpassed the wisdom of all others.  Not only did God give Solomon great wisdom but He also granted him great wealth as well.  But in all of these riches that Jehovah God bestowed upon Solomon, He gave Solomon a warning saying, "If you walk in My ways, keeping My statutes and commandments, as your father David walked, then I will prolong your days."  When Solomon awoke from his dream, he offered sacrifices of thanksgiving before the Ark of the LORD making a feast for all of his servants.

Immediately after this, Solomon was confronted by two prostitutes who tested his wisdom as judge. It was a difficult case because they both claimed to be the mother of the same baby.  Solomon's famous decree to cut the baby in two in order to give each woman a portion of the disputed child revealed the true mother because she gave up her claim out love for her baby.  Thus a just verdict in an impossible case left the nation in awe of his great wisdom and understanding.


The Temple (I Kings 4-9)

King Solomon chose officials as priest(Zadock, Abiathar) ); as secretaries(Elihoreph and Ahijah ); as recorder(Ehoshaphat); as one that was in charge of deputies over the army; and the son of Nathan was over the deputies (Azariah); as one in charge of all his household (Ahishar ); and one in charge of all forced labor(Adoniram ).  Solomon organized his kingdom officials and twelve governors.  He ruled from the River to the land of Egypt. Men of all nations came to hear his wisdom.

Solomon's kingdom enjoyed prosperity but unfortunately his kingdom began to have problems that subtly emerged within his kingdom.  These problems led to its collapse.

Before we continue with the building of the Temple, let us turn the pages of our Bibles back to Deuteronomy 12, where the LORD promised the people of Israel a dwelling place for His name. The prophecy looked down through time to when they would be settled in the Promised Land and at peace with the nations.  They were to tear down every other kind of worship place in that land.  There would be only one place where they could go and offer sacrifice to their Jehovah God, but God would choose it.

When David became king, his biggest desire was to build a place for the LORD, the LORD'S Temple.  But the LORD told David to leave the job for his son Solomon since he, David, was a man of war.   By the way Solomon's name meant "peace."

With all this being said, Solomon set out to fulfill his father's dream using the plans that his father David gave him.  Solomon hired Hiram of Tyre to help build the Temple.  Solomon sent a message to king Hiram saying, "You know that David my father was unable to build a house for the name of the Lord his God because of the wars which surrounded him, until the Lord put them under the soles of his feet.  But now the Lord my God has given me rest on every side; there is neither adversary nor misfortune.  Behold, I intend to build a house for the name of the Lord my God, as the Lord spoke to David my father, saying, ‘Your son, whom I will set on your throne in your place, he will build the house for My name.’  Now therefore, command that they cut for me cedars from Lebanon, and my servants will be with your servants; and I will give you wages for your servants according to all that you say, for you know that there is no one among us who knows how to cut timber like the Sidonians.'"  I Kings 5:3-6.  In reply king Hiram said, "Blessed be the Lord today, who has given to David a wise son over this great people."  So Hiram sent word to Solomon, saying,  "I have heard the message which you have sent me; I will do what you desire concerning the cedar and cypress timber. My servants will bring them down from Lebanon to the sea; and I will make them into rafts to go by sea to the place where you direct me, and I will have them broken up there, and you shall carry them away. Then you shall accomplish my desire by giving food to my household."  So, Solomon ordered cedar and pine logs from Hiram, the Phoenician king and recruited laborers and artisans to do the work.  The Temple building project created the basis for an alliance between King Solomon and Hiram the king of the Phoenicians.  This simply was setting up trouble to come.


Solomon building of the Temple of the LORD in Jerusalem is perhaps one of most noteworthy acts of his reign.  The following is a fraction of what it took to build the Temple:

  • For the Temple's site, David had already elected the threshing floor of Araunah (Ornan) the Jebusite, I Chronicles 21:18-30 and 22:1.  Remember God had spoken to him there.  This threshing floor was located on Mount Moriah, II Chronicles 3:1.  This was the same mountain in which Abraham had offered Isaac as sacrifice, Genesis 22:1-19.

The LORD said to Solomon,  "Concerning this house which you are building, if you will walk in My statutes and execute My ordinances and keep all My commandments by walking in them, then I will carry out My word with you which I spoke to David your father.  I will dwell among the sons of Israel, and will not forsake My people Israel.”  I Kings 6:12-13.  Is not this interesting that God reminded Solomon of the covenantal nature of their relationship?  It was extremely important for Solomon to remember this.  One thing that caught my attention was that the Second Book of Kings ends with the fall of this same Temple that Solomon built.
  • The Temple was about ninety feet long, thirty feet wide and forty five feet high.  It had three stories (levels) with a full-width porch.  This was actually a small place for worship.  Inside of the Temple, it was overlaid with gold, including the floors of both the inner and outer rooms.  The walls and doors were covered with carvings of "cherubim, palm trees and open flowers."


Solomon's Palace (I Kings 7:1-12)

It took thirteen years to build Solomon's palace.  That was almost twice as long as it took to build the Temple.  The two building projects worry us.  They give us a clue as to the direction that Solomon's heart was heading.  There were many differences between Solomon's palace and the Temple of the LORD. Another interesting fact about Solomon's palace is that it was much larger than the Temple and far more costly, which seems to indicate that Solomon was less devoted to God than he was to himself.  Does this sound familiar?  Are we not many times more devoted to our wants and desires than to our Jehovah God?

The palace had five buildings:  The Palace of the Forest of Lebanon, the Hall of Pillars, the Hall of Justice, Solomon's palace and finally a separate palace for the Pharaoh's daughter, Solomon' first and most important wife.  The palace and the Temple had similar courtyards.

After building the Temple of the LORD and building Solomon's palace complex, Solomon furnished the Temple. Now Hiram made pillars, the sea and utensils for the temple of bronze. Solomon made the furniture of gold. I Kings 7:13-51.

The Ark of the Covenant was brought into the Temple (I Kings 8)

This chapter starts with Solomon gathering all the people of Israel to bring up the Ark of the LORD from the City of David to him.  After they had all assembled and the priests have taken up the Ark and brought it into the Temple, they offered sacrifice and praises there to the LORD.  While they are doing that, a cloud of God's presence filled the Temple.  Solomon said, "The Lord has said that He would dwell in the thick cloud.  'I have surely built You a lofty house, A place for Your dwelling forever.'" 

Then he faced the people praising God for keeping His promises to David allowing the Temple to be built.  Solomon said, "Blessed be the Lord, the God of Israel, who spoke with His mouth to my father David and has fulfilled it with His hand, saying, ‘Since the day that I brought My people Israel from Egypt, I did not choose a city out of all the tribes of Israel in which to build a house that My name might be there, but I chose David to be over My people Israel.'  Now it was in the heart of my father David to build a house for the name of the Lord, the God of Israel.  But the Lord said to my father David, ‘Because it was in your heart to build a house for My name, you did well that it was in your heart.  Nevertheless you shall not build the house, but your son who will be born to you, he will build the house for My name.’  Now the Lord has fulfilled His word which He spoke; for I have risen in place of my father David and sit on the throne of Israel, as the Lord promised, and have built the house for the name of the Lord, the God of Israel.  There I have set a place for the ark, in which is the covenant of the Lord, which He made with our fathers when He brought them from the land of Egypt.'"  


Then Solomon stood before the people spreading his arms wide and dedicated the Ark and the people to the LORD and said, "O Lord, the God of Israel, there is no God like You in heaven above or on earth beneath, keeping covenant and showing lovingkindness to Your servants who walk before You with all their heart, who have kept with Your servant, my father David, that which You have promised him; indeed, You have spoken with Your mouth and have fulfilled it with Your hand as it is this day.  Now therefore, O Lord, the God of Israel, keep with Your servant David my father that which You have promised him, saying, ‘You shall not lack a man to sit on the throne of Israel, if only your sons take heed to their way to walk before Me as you have walked.’  Now therefore, O God of Israel, let Your word, I pray, be confirmed which You have spoken to Your servant, my father David.... '"  I Kings 8:23-53.

Notice that Solomon's prayer is profound and prophetic.  There are seven sections regarding Solomon's prayer to His Jehovah God.  They became like windows of prophecy of what would happen to Israel a few years after his death.  Consider each section of Solomon's prayer.  Each section contains a pattern with a variation of the following components:

  1. A sin or sins have been committed.
  2. The LORD sends punishment/judgment.
  3. The sin is confessed by the people.
  4. The people cry out to the LORD in His Temple.
  5. The LORD  hears from heaven.
  6. The LORD  forgives them.
  7. The LORD restores them.

Notice that in Israel's past, the LORD followed this pattern as in the Book of Judges.  Today our God continues to follow the same pattern in our lives through His Son when one obeys the Gospel, repenting of past sins.  Then the LORD grants pardon or forgiveness of sins restoring us back to Him. As Christians, when we stumble, if we confess our sins before His mighty throne, He cleanses us by His blood, I John 1:9.

After Solomon had prayed, he blessed the people saying, "Blessed be the Lord, who has given rest to His people Israel, according to all that He promised; not one word has failed of all His good promise, which He promised through Moses His servant.  May the Lord our God be with us, as He was with our fathers; may He not leave us or forsake us, that He may incline our hearts to Himself, to walk in all His ways and to keep His commandments and His statutes and His ordinances, which He commanded our fathers.  And may these words of mine, with which I have made supplication before the Lord, be near to the Lord our God day and night, that He may maintain the cause of His servant and the cause of His people Israel, as each day requires, so that all the peoples of the earth may know that the Lord is God; there is no one else.  Let your heart therefore be wholly devoted to the Lord our God, to walk in His statutes and to keep His commandments, as at this day."    Afterward the king and all his people offered sacrifice before the LORD.

God's Blessings and Warnings toward His people:  I Kings 9

After Solomon had finished building the Temple and his palace, the LORD came and spoke to him reminding him of his supplication and prayer.  He warned him to be faithful, walking before Him, as his father David did, in integrity and uprightness, doing His will.  Solomon was to walk according to what God commanded him to do, as his father did.  He promised Solomon He would secure his throne as long as he was walking in righteousness keeping all of His Law.  The LORD said,  "But if you or your sons indeed turn away from following Me, and do not keep My commandments and My statutes which I have set before you, and go and serve other gods and worship them, then I will cut off Israel from the land which I have given them, and the house which I have consecrated for My name, I will cast out of My sight. So Israel will become a proverb and a byword among all peoples. And this house will become a heap of ruins; everyone who passes by will be astonished and hiss and say, ‘Why has the Lord done thus to this land and to this house?’  And they will say, ‘Because they forsook the Lord their God, who brought their fathers out of the land of Egypt, and adopted other gods and worshiped them and served them, therefore the Lord has brought all this adversity on them.'"

The Queen of Sheba (I Kings 10)


When this Queen heard of the fame of Solomon, she came to test him with difficult questions.  She came to Jerusalem and spoke to him all that was in her heart and Solomon answered all her questions with all his wisdom and understanding.  When the Queen perceived all his wisdom and understanding; when she saw all that he had built and all that surrounded him with his servants and material possessions, there was no doubt in her heart about the things that she had heard of him.  She said to Solomon, "It was a true report which I heard in my own land about your words and your wisdom.  Nevertheless I did not believe the reports, until I came and my eyes had seen it. And behold, the half was not told me. You exceed in wisdom and prosperity the report which I heard.  How blessed are your men, how blessed are these your servants who stand before you continually and hear your wisdom.  Blessed be the Lord your God who delighted in you to set you on the throne of Israel; because the Lord loved Israel forever, therefore He made you king, to do justice and righteousness."  She gave him gold, spices and precious stones.  She had never been so generous with anyone else.  Likewise Solomon gave the Queen all that she had requested.  She then went to her home along with her servants.  Solomon excelled all the kings of the earth in riches and in wisdom.  There is no doubt he was the center of attention in all the earth because of all his wisdom that our God had put in his heart.  Do you know that we can be as rich as Solomon in wisdom and understanding and all the riches that our God bestows upon us if we willingly and diligently seek after Him?  All Christians are blessed this way in Christ.  What a wonderful God we serve!

"And He has made us to be a kingdom, priests to His God and Father-- to Him be the glory and the dominion forever and ever. Amen. "  Rev. 1:6
"You have made them to be a kingdom and priests to our God; and they will reign upon the earth."   Rev. 5:10
"But you are A CHOSEN RACE, A royal PRIESTHOOD, A HOLY NATION, A PEOPLE FOR God's OWN POSSESSION, so that you may proclaim the excellencies of Him who has called you out of darkness into His marvelous light."  I Peter 2:9

Conclusion:  We have been considering the rise and fall of King Solomon.  His reign brought the Golden Age of the kingdom to its pinnacle and then sowed the seeds of its fall.

In our next study, we will begin studying the chaos that began when the kingdom divided.  This era will introduce the great Age of the Prophets


Luci


Monday, October 20, 2014

THE BEAUTY OF OUR BROKENNESS

"Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.  Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted."  
Matthew 5:3-4


Breaking a bone is not nearly as life changing as breaking one's own spirit or being broken before a righteous and Holy God. I invite you to think with me about the beauty of brokenness in Christ Jesus.

Lately since my accident, I have been thinking a lot about my physical brokenness as well as the concept of spiritual brokenness: the remedy, the recovery process and the hope of restoration and healing.  This led me to write the following regarding our spiritual brokenness and the healing and restoration of our souls.  It is painful and slow, but with the right attitude of heart, we can become more than conquerors with God's help

It is vital when we submit to God, that we repent, completely surrender and realize our true brokenness.  Lack of submission to God robs us of our intimate fellowship with God and His power through the Gospel to touch our lives.  Our Lord Jesus demands loyalty to Him.  We cannot be loyal to two masters.  When we refuse to surrender our wills to God, along with our lives and our wants, we are walking in willful disobedience.  By NOT submitting to the King of kings and Lord of lords, we are automatically submitting to the prince of darkness, Satan, and his kingdom.  My question to you is:  who are you going to surrender to, God or Satan?

Lack of surrender to God is merely the result of selfishness on our part.  This selfishness robs us of the intimate fellowship we could have with the Father and the Son.  It also robs us of the power of the Gospel to touch our lives.

Why is it so difficult for man to submit to God?  First, it is because he becomes obsessed with controlling his own life.  In an attempt to do this he also manipulates the lives of others.  Second, because he loves sin and himself more than anything else.  Lastly, he fails to submit to God because he has not been completely broken.  He does this because he struggles to comprehend the spiritual condition of his soul and the need for healing.

What does it mean to be broken?  It means that our pride and self-sufficiency must be broken and so our love for sin must also be broken, along with the flesh and its desires.  All of our self must be broken.   Our love for material riches, pleasures and possessions must also be broken.  Indeed everything that is not of Christ and His righteousness must be broken.  This is the only way Jesus can dwell in us and we in Him.

Brokenness is not always a weakness as so many say.  It is coming to the end of one's life.  Jesus said, "Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.  Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted."  Matthew 5:3-4.  It is through our brokenness of spirit that we comprehend our real spiritual condition, the condition of our soul.  We embrace the need for a Savior to rescue us from the weight of sin.  We also comprehend that we need the Great Physician to heal us of our sickness of the heart called sin.  It is here that we, as human beings, are aware that we deserve God's Judgment for sin and our only hope is found in Jesus, in His mercy.  This is where life for the broken sinner begins.  The broken man is then quick to repent.  He does not try to hide his sins under the carpet.  He does not ignore or forget with wasted excuses.  He is conscious that this is his time to heal all things.  He rushes into the presence of His Creator crying out for mercy, saying, “I have sinned and need God's mercy.”

Humility is the result of brokenness.  Until our selfish and carnal pride is entirely broken, we are not going to humble ourselves before the mighty throne of God.  Brokenness and humility are the results of a deep consciousness of our guilt before God; seeing and accepting the remedy offered by the Savior who offers to redeem us; then becoming dependent upon our Lord and Savior.  Those who are in an intimate relationship or fellowship with God have grown in brokenness and humility throughout their walk with Him.  "He has told you, O man, what is good; And what does the Lord require of you But to do justice, to love kindness, And to walk humbly with your God?” Micah 6:8.

Humility and brokenness are inseparably interwoven so as to bring us to surrender, repentance and victory.  We must practice these things throughout our lives.  The one who is broken before God can walk free from sin.  The greater the yearning for God, the faster a man will seek forgiveness and God's grace to overcome sin and remain faithfully in fellowship with God.  King David repented of his sin with Bathsheba, his adultery, when his pride and self-will was finally broken.  Then in his sorrow he declared, "Be gracious to me, O God, according to Your lovingkindness; according to the greatness of Your compassion blot out my transgressions.  Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity and cleanse me from my sin.  For I know my transgressions, and my sin is ever before me.  Against You, You only, I have sinned and done what is evil in Your sight, so that You are justified when You speak and blameless when You judge... Purify me with hyssop, and I shall be clean; wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow.  Make me to hear joy and gladness, let the bones which You have broken rejoice.  Hide Your face from my sins and blot out all my iniquities.  Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me... For You do not delight in sacrifice, otherwise I would give it; You are not pleased with burnt offering.  The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; A broken and a contrite heart, O God, You will not despise..."   Psalm 51.

When he confronted the ugliness of the sin that he had committed in the presence of a Holy God, David realized that he had to lay aside all pride and rebellion.  It was his feelings of guilt and repentance, which brought David back into a relationship with His God.  Guilt is of no value if there is no hope for mercy, God's grace.  However, it is guilt because of sin that produces hopelessness toward self.  It can be extremely profitable when one realizes that there is no hope without divine mercy.  This divine mercy is evidently seen in the face of Jesus our Lord.  The divine plan of salvation is based on a Fatherly God who desires to save the hopeless and helpless.  God our Father so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son on the cross, and that is precisely why we can find the remedy for our hopelessness and helplessness.

In 2 Corinthians 7:-8-9  Paul stated, "For though I caused you sorrow by my letter, I do not regret it; though I did regret it—for I see that that letter caused you sorrow, though only for a while—  I now rejoice, not that you were made sorrowful, but that you were made sorrowful to the point of repentance; for you were made sorrowful according to the will of God, so that you might not suffer loss in anything through us."  Paul declared that he did not regret hurting the church by preaching to them repentance, even though it broke his heart.  Though the message brought guilt because of sin and the church was broken, they turned from their sin drawing closer to the Lord.  It was God's will for them to become broken toward their sin, through the knowledge of His Word.  This sound knowledge of sin produced in them godly sorrow that moved them to a deeper surrender to their Father in heaven.

My question is, what is godly sorrow?  It is the fruit of God's everlasting mercy that is vital to our salvation and regeneration, the renewing of our soul.  Godly sorrow cannot be produced through needless human therapy, human theology or self-help principles.  It is through the Word of God, His Truth, that God calls men to find the remedy for their sinful way of living.  It is through His Word that He makes man's heart return to Him.  As Paul declared, "For the sorrow that is according to the will of God produces a repentance without regret, leading to salvation, but the sorrow of the world produces death."  II Cor. 7:10

On the other hand, worldly sorrow is a cruel thing.  It is guilt without any hope.  One can have sincere remorse for offending God as well as others, but not to the point of repenting and changing his life completely.  Such a person is only sorry because he got caught in sin.  True repentance cannot take place on anyone who is unwilling to repent and turn from his sins and completely surrender to the will of God.  So I ask you, can the sinner's prayer for forgiveness save a man if he is not willing to repent of his sins, be renewed, and be transformed by the everlasting TRUTH?  It is impossible for worldly sorrow to produce genuine repentance that transforms and regenerates the character or heart of man.  If man is not willing to surrender, from his heart, completely to the Lord; surrender his entire life and being to Christ, he is wasting his time because worldly sorrow can only produce death which is eternal death, spiritual death, relational and emotional death.  It renders man hopeless because he is Christ-less.

For a person to come to know godly sorrow, he must humbly see himself as totally lost: lost because of sin and undone without God in his life.  He must feel sick because of sin in his life to seek the Great Physician who offers the remedy that can heal him.  This attitude is vital for one to receive pardon.  He must be aware of his spiritual poverty and bankruptcy.  He must be aware of his slavery to sin before he can find the only hope that is found in Jesus for the restoration and refreshing of his soul.  He must be thirsty for righteousness and willing to take up Christ's sweet and easy yoke.  He must feel cast down because of his unrighteousness before he will look for a Savior to redeem him.  This is godly sorrow that zeros in on the root of the problem called sin.  Through this godly sorrow, man regenerates a righteous and zealous character rather than just being sorrowful for the consequences of sin.

Godly sorrow produces action.  Notice how Paul described the Corinthians, "For behold what earnestness this very thing, this godly sorrow, has produced in you: what vindication of yourselves, what indignation, what fear, what longing, what zeal, what avenging of wrong! In everything you demonstrated yourselves to be innocent in the matter."  II Cor. 7:11.  He had rebuked them for their sinful practices and exhorted them to rid themselves of these sinful practices.  In other words, he led them to die to sin.  Notice the words he used above: earnestness, vindication, indignation, fear, longing, zeal, and avenging.  All of these actions follow when a person wants to correct the wrongs he has committed.  He longs to see his character transformed or regenerated no matter the cost. Indignation and vindication are not acts of violence against someone.  They are acts of mercy against sin and the source of the sinful practices.  Let us not become indifferent and be crushed.  Let us have a fervent desire to walk upright with God until the end of our life.

How can brokenness bring revival or bring life?  In Matthew 3:2 we read, "Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand."  John the Baptist prepared the WAY.  Which WAY?  "REPENT."  John knew well that he was not worthy to untie Jesus' shoes because he knew the meaning of being broken and surrendering to the will of God.  He just humbly and boldly prepared the WAY for the coming of the Messiah.  His authority as a prophet was enhanced by his own brokenness and surrender to God.

John's message back then will accomplish the same thing today; that man might receive salvation and be transformed.

It is the conviction and awareness of sin that produces brokenness in us when godly sorrow is present also.  It is brokenness over sin that brings on repentance which in turn will yield the gift of salvation. This is how God heals and brings to life individuals, families and nations.

In 2 Chronicles 7:14 we read of the promise for revival, "If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land."  The revival of a people requires brokenness. This promise contains four conditions for the people of God to fulfill and three responses from the Lord.

"If My People"

Notice that revival is dependent upon the people of God, those who have been redeemed by the blood of Jesus, not the world.  It is our duty as Christians to revive the dead because of sin into newness of life.  Bring them back from death to being alive in Christ.

1.   Humility is vital because brokenness and humility are inseparable.   In James 4:6 and I Peter 5:5 we read that God resists and opposes the proud.  Satan is cunning and wily.  He knows the damage that pride can cause of one's life.  That is why it is so important to understand, that it is through brokenness and humility that we are going to find freedom from the destructiveness of our pride.  Pride destroys our souls.

God can dwell only with those who are lowly, humble and are contrite, broken in heart.  "For thus says the high and exalted One Who lives forever, whose name is Holy, “I dwell on a high and holy place, And also with the contrite and lowly of spirit In order to revive the spirit of the lowly And to revive the heart of the contrite."    Isaiah 57:15

Pride is repulsive to a Holy God who walked the earth as the meek and lowly Jesus.  It is pride that stops men from repenting and surrendering their lives to Jesus in complete obedience to their Creator. The truth is that our Lord Jesus will not come in mercy to the arrogant.  Pride and self-will are the fruits of the flesh causing rebellion that damns the unsaved to hell and renders Christians ineffective when it comes to God's purposes.  Only the broken and the humble will know the Lord; will diligently seek Him and will know His reviving power.


2.    Prayer is vital to the revival of our souls.   Without it, there can be no awakening to flow out of brokenness.  Hearts that burn for their SAVIOR do not recite cold and formal prayers.  We cannot live in the flesh and pray to God fervently in spirit.  Pride has no place in genuine prayers to God because God resists the prayers of the proud.  Let us take this seriously!
When we finally grasp and understand the depth of our neediness, and of those around us, we will passionately petition our God to pour out His mercy upon us.  It is only then that we will understand the Truth that the world because of its darkness is at war with our Creator.  Broken saints, Christians, will know that they are not helpless, but they have an Almighty God who will transform their lives through His eternal Word.  There is power in the Word to accomplish wonders in the hearts of men.  Broken saints know that great transformation is possible through devotion to prayer and the guidance of God’s Word.

3.    We must seek His Face to be revived.  Prayer and seeking God's face are two distinctly different things.  A Christian may pray and never know what it means to seek God's face.  Seeking His face comes out of a heart that is burning with a desire to know the Lord and His intimate fellowship with us.  The heart is intensely hungering after the Lord and not just His blessings.  David wrote, "My soul longed and even yearned for the courts of the Lord; My heart and my flesh sing for joy to the living God."  Psalm 84:2.

Prayer is vital for a Christian's survival and maturity.  But seeking God's face is the ultimate prize. Christians who have been broken of their selfish and self-centered lives become Christians who passionately desire to pursue this greatest of treasures.  They are driven to know their Savior.  This is far better than seeking to gain greater Bible knowledge; it is a quest for God Himself and no one else: a quest that causes us to become more like Him.

Those who diligently seek God's face, love our Lord and Savior more than they love themselves, their family, their friends or material riches.  Their desire is to know Christ and imitate Him.  They have tasted His glory and refuse to return to the mediocrity of nominal Christianity or the vanity of worldly pursuits.  They have determined to crucify self every day of their lives and let Christ live in them. They are dead to sin but alive to the Spirit of Christ.  They cry out, "Show me your glory."  Ex. 33:18.  This is the heart of revival.

Pride can never be found in true repentance where there is no humility to clothe man.  A proud man is wasting his time in prayer.  Those who are redeemed understand the concept of speaking face to face with Jesus.  They know that seeking God's face is an everlasting journey.  This is what we were created for, to glorify God.

"Turn"

In 2 Chronicles 7:14, we read that the final condition for revival is to “turn” from our wicked ways. To turn from our wicked ways is precisely what is called repentance.  No man will turn from his sin unless he has first humbled himself before the throne of God.  Likewise, a man will not humble himself before God unless he has been broken unless he has been brought to the end of his self-life.

One of the problems the Scribes and Pharisees had was that they would not turn from their wicked ways because they would not first surrender and humble themselves before God.  They focused more on being righteous in the eyes of men, rather than having the right relationship with God.  Because they failed to repent, they neglected to take advantage of the fellowship that God was offering to them through reconciliation in Jesus.

The only way the heart of man is going to turn from wicked ways to our Lord is to have a passionate love for Him and His righteousness.  The only plan of victory we have depends on prayer and seeking God's face continually, walking in righteousness with Him.  It is in seeking God's face wholeheartedly and turning from our sins, that we may draw nearer to Him.  God is going to hear our prayers when they are offered out of our brokenness.  Only such a prayer can move God to forgive our sins.

God has promised that He will heal the land.  God saves a land by the preaching of the  Gospel of salvation to all men.  This is how God saves men.  It is the only WAY that Jesus is going to heal the sin-sick soul that is dying.  It sets the heart ablaze with a new love:  love for Him and His kingdom of righteousness.  He heals broken men by transforming them.  He heals nations; all through the power of His Gospel.  The Gospel is the power of God to change the hearts of men returning them to their Creator.

A land that has broken the covenant with God cannot be healed.  Sadly, we cannot change the world unless we use the power that there is in the Gospel, the Truth, the Word of God.  Remember that Jesus is standing outside, knocking at our door, calling all men to wholeheartedly return to Him fulfilling  their covenant vows, Rev. 3:20, "Behold, I stand at the door and knock; if anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and will dine with him, and he with Me."  We must meet the conditions of revival which are found in the plan of salvation for God to dwell in us and we in Him.

The prize that we are yearning to win is our Lord Jesus and the revelation of His glory among all men.  Nothing on earth can compare to the boundless riches of knowing our Lord Jesus Christ, "Therefore repent and return, so that your sins may be wiped away, in order that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord."  Acts 3:19.  He cannot resist those who humbly and honestly seek Him and admit to desperately needing Him.

The only way that we are going to know the beauty of Christ in our brokenness is by surrendering all to Him; all our will, all of the self.  Refreshing or revival flows out of broken and surrendered lives. Repentance is an act of submission, but we must become living sacrifices to receive the gift of salvation.  Holiness is the result of Christians yielding to the sanctifying Word of God.  Only those surrendered saints will be able to rescue a lost and perishing world.

May we all bring our broken lives to God.  The following song well expresses the blessings of brokenness.

Luci

Bring Christ Your Broken Life 

Bring Christ your broken life, 
So marred by sin. 
He will create anew, 
Make whole again. 
Your empty wasted years 
He will restore, 
And your iniquities, 
Remember no more 

Bring Him your every care 
if great or small 
whatever troubles you 
oh, bring it all 
Bring him the haunting fears 
the nameless dread 
thy heart he will relieve 
and lift up thy head 

Bring Him your weariness 
receive his rest 
Weep out your blinding tears 
upon his breast 
His love is wonderful 
his power is great 
and none that trust in him shall be desolate 

Blest Saviour of us all 
almighty friend! 
His presence shall be ours 
unto the end 
without him, life would be 
how dark how drear 
but with him morning breaks 

and Heaven is near! 

Thursday, September 4, 2014

PERSECUTED? ARE YOU SERIOUS?


 "Indeed, all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will be persecuted."  
2 Timothy 3:12


How many of us choose to respond to God, the Potter, with a thanksgiving heart when we are reeling in pain, when He is spinning us, molding us, and burning the rubbish or impurities from our lives? How many of us just lie still, waiting and trusting that He is causing all things to work together for our good; to us who love Him when we are in the midst of trials and sufferings?   But God is good, long-suffering and patient toward us.  God loves us too much to indulge us in our fleshly lifestyle that we so often prefer.  It is time for solid food and not milk.  It is time for us to choose whether or not we are going to be faithful and hold fast to the Truth when opposition comes.  You can indeed rest assured it will come.  You can count on it!  So the 64,000 dollar question is:  What are you going to do when you realize you are standing alone for the Truth?

There is one thing I have learned:  PERSECUTION often comes from those who claim to be Christians and share our faith and hope.  Even those closest to us; those that we love and trust the most; those with whom we have shared fellowship can become our persecutors.  It is painful and it hurts deeply.  Jesus knew it well. We need to be aware of persecution and be ready for it.

"Therefore do not be ashamed of the testimony of our Lord, or of me His prisoner; but join with me in suffering for the gospel according to the power of God." 
2 Timothy 1:8


We must take the whole armor of God and be prepared for the attack.  Whether persecution comes from strangers, brethren, family members, government, extended family or wherever we must be prepared. Know that conflict will arise when you are attempting to give a defense of the Truth and of the hope there is in us through Christ.  It will also come when we attempt to live out Christ in our lives in a godly manner worthy of our calling.  Be prepared not to compromise.  Be prepared to praise Him through it.  Our God will give us the grace and strength we so very much need, if we remain faithful to Him. He will make a way and fight for us vigorously in the midst of this darkness and trial.  But, what if you find yourself frightened and thinking you won't be able to withstand, hold fast and remain faithful?  Don't worry!  Go before His Almighty throne in humility and ask Him to create in you a heart of trust and faithfulness so that you will be in harmony with His will.

"And in deed, all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will be persecuted.... You, however, continue  in the things you have learned and become convinced of, knowing from  whom you have learned them."  
2 Timothy 3:12-14


Notice carefully that it does not say all Christians, but those who desire to live "godly" will suffer persecution.  Here, the apostle Paul is speaking directly to believers, those who have been redeemed through the blood of our Lord Jesus, those whose sins have been washed away through His blood and are seeking to be in harmony with God's will, walking in godliness in their everyday lives. If you are just going with the flow, being neither hot nor cold and being tossed here and there by the waves of doctrine, and the trickery of men, you most likely won't suffer any kind of persecution. Your faith has already been compromised so there is no danger for the enemy.  So, if you have not experienced persecution in your walk with Christ, start questioning your faith.  This is very serious!  Indeed, it is in living with Christ in our lives that we  are going to experience hard and difficult times.  Expect times of hatred, misunderstanding, reviling and slandering for His sake.

The Lord Jesus said, "Remember the word that I said to you, a slave is not greater than his master.  If they persecuted Me, they will also persecute you; if they kept My word, they will keep yours also.  But all these things they will do to you for My name's sake, because they do not know the One who sent Me."  John 15:20-21.  Remember my brethren, we are not here to please and be approved by men, but to fear and do God's will.  "And I say to you, My friends, do not be afraid of those who kill the body, and after that have no more that they can do.  But.... fear the One who after He has killed has authority to cast into hell; yes, I tell you, fear Him!"  Luke 12:4-5.

This being said, remember your purpose and calling.  Remember, that we need to bless those who revile and persecute us. Show grace when persecuted. This is acceptable and glorifies God.

"When we are persecuted, we endure.  When we are slandered, we try to conciliate; we have become as the scum of the world, the dregs of all things, even until now."  
I Corinthians 4:12-13 


Jesus said:  "But... love your enemies, and pray for those who persecute you.  In order that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven; for He causes His sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous."  Matthew 5:44-45


If we truly want to share or proclaim the Good News of our Lord Jesus and His righteousness, we must imitate Him, "The Lord is gracious and merciful; slow to anger and great in lovingkindness.  The Lord is good to all, and His mercies are over all His works."  Psalm 145:8-9.  By imitating Him in our daily walk, we will not be offended when reviled; not become sarcastic when misunderstood; not retaliate when being accused falsely; we will indeed love even when not loved in return.  Who would do this?  No one, but our Lord Jesus living in us.

"You are from God, little children, and have overcome them; because greater is He who is in you than he who is in the world. They are from the world; therefore they speak as from the world, and the world listens to them.  We are from God; he who knows God listens to us; he who is not from God does not listen to us. By this we know the spirit of truth and the spirit of error.  Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God; and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God.  The one who does not love does not know God, for God is love."
 I John 4:4-8

 "For what credit is there if, when you sin and are harshly treated, you endure it with patience? But if when you do what is right and suffer for it you patiently endure it, this finds favor with God. For you have been called for this purpose, since Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example for you to follow in His steps, who committed no sin, nor was any deceit found in His mouth; and while being reviled, He did not revile in return; while suffering, He uttered no threats, but kept entrusting Himself to Him who judges righteously; and He Himself  bore our sins in His body on the cross, so that we might die to sin and live to righteousness; for by His wounds you were healed." 
 I Peter 2:20-24


Let us stand firm and boldly for the Truth, without compromising anything.  But, let us always remember that every word we speak, write or type must be full of grace and seasoned with salt. Let us not forget a genuine humility above all.  YES, we can do it with God's grace and strength!

My prayer to God is that we all speak the Truth boldly without any compromise or pride but filled with love, that we extend them the same mercy that You Oh Lord grant to us, "For in the way you judge, you will be judged; and by your standard of measure, it will be measured to you." Matthew 7:2.  Let me Oh Lord remember that in the same way that we judge, You will judge us, and that by the same standard of measure, You Oh Lord will measure us.  Let us treasure in our hearts what the apostle Peter said:

"To sum up, all of you be harmonious, sympathetic, brotherly, kindhearted, and humble in spirit; not returning evil for evil or insult for insult, but giving a blessing instead; for you were called for the very purpose that you might inherit a blessing.  For, the one who desires life, to love and see good days, must keep his tongue from evil and his lips from speaking deceit.  He must turn away from evil and do good; he must seek peace and pursue it.  For the eyes of the Lord are toward the righteous, and His ears attend to their prayer, but the face of the Lord is against those who do evil."  
I Peter 3:8-12



May the Lord help us to be faithful even during the fiery trials of this life in our service to Him.


Luci

Thursday, August 14, 2014

EUNICE'S 13TH BIRTHDAY


Behold, children are a  gift of the Lord, the fruit of the womb is a reward. Like arrows in the hand of a warrior, so are the children of one’s youth. How blessed is the man whose quiver is full of them; they will not be ashamed …. “ Psalm 127:3-5


Letter to my precious 13-year-old daughter, Eunice

My sweet Eunice, the thought of you becoming a "teenager" exhilarates and appalls me both in equal portions.

There is a part of me that is thrilled that you are becoming a young lady (teenager) since I can observe the fine and godly young lady you are becoming. My heart is filled with so much joy and pride. My sweet girl, you bring and have brought so much gentleness, adventure, joy, laughter and grace into our lives. You bring gentleness to my mothering. I count myself blessed. I love the way you show your love for me, your mama, your siblings, your daddy and others.  You portray it in ways I could never have imagined when I was your age. When you,my sweet darling, tell me that you want to be just like me when you are grown up, I then realize that mothering has its blessings. I love the way you show your love and care for others. Your big heart! You make my life fuller. You are indeed full of grace and gentleness and I want you to remain that way all of your life. My sweet little girl, you will always be my baby girl. Stay beautiful in heart and soul just the way you are. Never change!


I am so glad you are my daughter and my sister in Christ.  Our relationship reminds me so much of the one I had with my own mother, simply beautiful.  My mother touched  me and left footprints in my heart and soul with a love for God.  My hope and prayer to God is that I might leave the same imprints on your heart.  Your abuela's works follow her and  through me they live in you for generations to come.   We have so much to share and rejoice about since we share in the same faith and hope of salvation. My sweet Eunice, my prayer is that Christ clothes your heart in a garment of grace. Remember this is the only garment that will make you into His image, simply beautiful in His eyes.

May our Lord always nourish and satisfy that hunger you have for righteousness. May you crave more of Christ. May you always be in fellowship with Him and He in you. May He give you of His abundance and make you live a richer and fuller life of faith. May He use you to mend the brokenness of those who are ill because of sin. May your example be their inspiration to walk in the Light. May you show grace freely the same way our Lord has shown to you and all of us. I have no doubt in my heart you will be a worthy servant of His, laboring in His Vineyard.

My sweet baby Eunice, you are incredibly loved and valued. Don't ever forget that. I thank the Lord for these beautiful 13 years He has given me as your mama. You are my most beautiful and precious gift sent from heaven after my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Happy 13th Birthday my sweet and precious Eunice!

With all my heart and soul,

Your mama



Monday, August 11, 2014

II SAMUEL - DAVID - PART TWO




ESTIMATED TIMELINE FOR SAUL, DAVID AND SOLOMON

1360-1085 BC The time of the Judges
1051 BC Saul's reign begins
1040 BC David is born
1011 BC Saul and his three sons are killed on Mount Gilboa.  David is anointed king of Judah, the southern kingdom
1004 BC David is anointed king of all Israel.  David moves his capital to Jerusalem
961 BC Solomon's reign begins
922 BC Israel divides into two kingdoms


GIANTS OF THE FAITH:  DAVID (PART II)

The Book of II Samuel records the time of David’s reign as king of Israel.  It deals with David's rise in power first in Judah and later on in Israel, II Samuel 1-8.  The Book ends with David's sin and the terrible consequences of his actions, II Samuel 9-24.


DAVID'S RISE AS KING

  • David Laments Saul's Death (II Samuel 1)
David indeed proves to be a true man of God by forgiving every grievance against the king.  Remember how Saul pursued, threatened and betrayed David and even tried to kill him time after time.  David showed noble character when he mourned the death of a man who hunted him like an animal and tried to kill him so many times.  He did this because he firmly believed that Saul was God's anointed king, chosen by God.  David remained faithful to his king because he was also the father of his beloved friend Jonathan.  Father and son had died together on the battlefield.  David always honored Saul when he was in his presence.  Remember that David had sung for Saul, fought for Saul and killed for Saul.  After Saul's death, David honored him as well as his three sons with great lament.

  • David Becomes King over Judah and Israel (II Samuel 2-5:1-3)

After Saul's death, David is anointed king over Judah in the southern city of Hebron, this being the largest Hebrew city.  David immediately made an effort to unite the kingdom by reaching out to those who were loyal to king Saul.  But Abner, Saul's former army commander had not forgotten the rivalry between Saul and David.  Instead of supporting David, he decided to appoint Saul's son Ish-Bosheth (the name means "man of shame") king over Gilead, over the Ashurites, over Jezreel, over Ephraim, and over Benjamin, even over all Israel.  He was forty years old and was king over Israel for two years.  However, the house of Judah followed David as their king.  David was king in Judah for seven and a half years.  It is clear that Ish-Bosheth was not a good fighter or leader for his father's throne, Saul.

This brought on a civil war between the northern tribes and the southern tribes, as Abner led the northern army against the southern army which fought under the leadership of David's nephew, Joab. The two sides met by the pool of Gibeon each on one side.  They sat and agreed to settle the conflict among them by allowing twelve warriors for Benjamin and Ish-bosheth, and twelve of the servants of David to hold a contest and fight before them.  The battle was very severe and ended almost immediately as soon as all twenty four warriors killed each other.  Therefore, that place was called Helkath-hazzurim, which is in Gibeon.  


The contest was a total failure as well as a tragedy that settled nothing.  It only brought on a fierce war. Eventually Joab was victorious.  Abner's forces began to retreat when they realized they were being defeated.  Joab had two brothers, Abishai and Asahel.   His younger brother Asahel pursued Abner fiercely  but carelessly.  Abner tried to plead with him, but he would not relent or turn aside from following him.  Abner thrust his spear behind him and struck Asahel dead.  This brought on another battle of revenge.  Both Joab and Abishai chased Abner until he finally pled for them to stop the bloodshed saying,  "Shall the sword devour forever? Do you not know that it will be bitter in the end? How long will you refrain from telling the people to turn back from following their brothers?'  Joab responded, 'As God lives, if you had not spoken, surely then the people would have gone away in the morning, each from following his brother.'  So Joab blew the trumpet; and all the people halted and pursued Israel no longer, nor did they continue to fight anymore.'"  Afterward both men along with their armies went their way.  Abner and his men went to Manahaim and Joab and his men returned to Hebron.

The war between the house of Saul and the house of David continued.  David grew steadily stronger while the house of Saul grew continually weaker.  David's following increased and so also his family.  The number of his wives and sons grew as he began forming alliances with the surrounding kingdoms and with all the important families through marriage, "Sons were born to David at Hebron: his firstborn was Amnon, by Ahinoam the Jezreelitess; and his second, Chileab, by Abigail the widow of Nabal the Carmelite; and the third, Absalom the son of Maacah, the daughter of Talmai, king of Geshur; and the fourth, Adonijah the son of Haggith; and the fifth, Shephatiah the son of Abital; and the sixth, Ithream, by David’s wife Eglah. These were born to David at Hebron."  I Samuel 3:2-5.

Ish-bosheth accused Abner, his primary supporter, of sleeping with his father's concubine.  This accusation made Abner very angry.  He said, "Am I a dog’s head that belongs to Judah? Today I show kindness to the house of Saul your father, to his brothers and to his friends, and have not delivered you into the hands of David; and yet today you charge me with a guilt concerning the woman. May God do so to Abner, and more also, if as the Lord has sworn to David, I do not accomplish this for him, to transfer the kingdom from the house of Saul and to establish the throne of David over Israel and over Judah, from Dan even to Beersheba."  He then became afraid of Abner because of these words.  Insulted and disgusted, Abner withdrew his support from Ish-bosheth aligning himself with David.  Abner sent messengers to David saying, "Whose is the land? Make your covenant with me, and behold, my hand shall be with you to bring all Israel over to you."   David agreed under one condition to bring Michal, Saul's daughter, to him when he went to see him.  David also sent messengers to Ish-bosheth, Saul's son saying, "Give me my wife Michal, to whom I was betrothed for a hundred foreskins of the Philistines."  Ish-bosheth did as David demanded taking her from her husband, but her husband followed her weeping all the way to Bahurim.  Abner then asked him to return and he did.

Abner convinced the elders of Israel on David's behalf saying, "In times past you were seeking for David to be king over you. Now then, do it! For the Lord has spoken of David, saying, ‘By the hand of My servant David I will save My people Israel from the hand of the Philistines and from the hand of all their enemies.'" He also spoke to the whole house of Benjamin on David's behalf.  Afterward Abner along with his twenty men came south to Hebron to meet with David where he was welcomed warmly.  After they had made a covenant, they went their way in peace.  

Now Joab still had bitterness in his heart and had not forgotten that Abner killed his younger brother.  When Joab and his army arrived, they told him of the covenant of peace that Abner and David had made.  Joab was upset and came to David saying  "What have you done? Behold, Abner came to you; why then have you sent him away and he is already gone?  You know Abner the son of Ner, that he came to deceive you and to learn of your going out and coming in and to find out all that you are doing."  Joab sent messengers to go after Abner without David’s knowledge.  When they brought Abner back, Joab murdered him.

This moment of fiery vengeance from Joab drove a permanent wedge between Joab and David.  When David heard the terrible news of Abner's death he cursed Joab and his family saying,  "I and my kingdom are innocent before the Lord forever of the blood of Abner the son of Ner.  May it fall on the head of Joab and on all his father’s house; and may there not fail from the house of Joab one who has a discharge, or who is a leper, or who takes hold of a distaff, or who falls by the sword, or who lacks bread."   David and all the people mourned Abner and buried him in Hebron.  The people came to persuade David to eat some bread but he instead bowed saying, "May God do so to me, and more also, if I taste bread or anything else before the sun goes down."   Everybody understood that day that it was not the king's fault that Abner was put to death.  David's grief convinced the people and the northern tribes began to consider David as a worthy king.  He said to them, "Do you not know that a prince and a great man has fallen this day in Israel? 39 I am weak today, though anointed king; and these men the sons of Zeruiah are too difficult for me.  May the Lord repay the evildoer according to his evil."


When Ish-bosheth heard that Abner had died in Hebron he was terrified and so also all the house of Israel. His two commanders killed him carrying his head to David.  They in return were expecting to be rewarded but instead David was not pleased.  He was distressed and said, "As the Lord lives, who has redeemed my life from all distress, when one told me, saying, ‘Behold, Saul is dead,’ and thought he was bringing good news, I seized him and killed him in Ziklag, which was the reward I gave him for his news. How much more, when wicked men have killed a righteous man in his own house on his bed, shall I not now require his blood from your hand and destroy you from the earth?"  David then had the men killed. Then all the tribes of Israel along with the elders came to meet King David at Hebron anointing him as king over Israel.  He was thirty years of age and ruled for forty years over both Judah and Israel.  The LORD was with him.


INTERESTING INDIVIDUAL:  MEPHIBOSHETH

After the death of Ish-Bosheth, Saul still had one more potential heir to the throne, Jonathan's son Mephibosheth.  Jonathan's son, Mephibosheth was five years old when his father Jonathan and his grandfather Saul were killed in battle.  In those days those who were potential heirs to the throne were mostly killed by the king's rivals once the king was dead.  When Mephobosheth's nurse heard that Saul was dead, she immediately took him and fled.  Unfortunately in her hurry, she dropped him, crippling both of his feet permanently.  Mephisbosheth escaped and was raised by a wealthy family who kept his identity secret.

In order to fulfill his covenant with Jonathan, David began to inquire if Saul had any family still alive.  He summoned Ziba one of Saul's servants who told him of Mephibosheth.  David brought him before him vowing to protect him and take care of him.  David gave him Saul's estate inviting him to eat at the royal table as part of his family, II Samuel 9.

Much later, Ziba convinced David that Mephobosheth intended to steal his throne.  In response, David transferred all of Saul's estate to Ziba, making him a wealthy servant and leaving Jonathan's son destitute, II Samuel 16:1-4.

Eventually, Mephiboseth appeared before David dirty and in mourning begging David to believe him, that he never wanted to take his throne.  Uncertain and doubtful David divided the estate between Ziba and Mephibosheth.  Mephobosheth refused his half saying he would be content just staying with David, II Samuel 19:24-29.

In II Samuel 21, we hear for the last time of Mephibosheth.  It is when David protected him against the Gibeonites who were seeking revenge against Saul and his heirs.

  • David's Early Reign:  (II Samuel 5-10)
Immediately after David was anointed to be king, he set out for Jerusalem against the Jebusites in order to make the city his capital.  Jerusalem was his choice since it bordered the southern tribe of Judah laying technically within the tribe of Benjamin uniting the two kingdoms.  David took the city of David from the Jebusites who were a tribe of the Canaanites. He conquered them with little effort despite their jeers. He built it all around with cedar logs from the Phoenician king Hiram.  David built a palace for himself filling it with more wives, concubines and children, II Samuel 5:6-16.  He grew more powerful and the LORD was with him.  

When the Philistines heard that David was king over Israel, they went to battle with David.  When David heard, he went to the stronghold and prayed to the LORD saying, "Shall I go up against the Philistines? Will You give them into my hand?"   The LORD replied saying, "Go up, for I will certainly give the Philistines into your hand."   David came to Baal-perazim and defeated them.  He said, "The Lord has broken through my enemies before me like the breakthrough of waters."   David named that place Baal-perazim.  He then took and carried away their idols.  

The Philistines attacked a second time and David prayed to the LORD and the LORD answered saying, "You shall not go directly up; circle around behind them and come at them in front of the balsam trees. It shall be, when you hear the sound of marching in the tops of the balsam trees, then you shall act promptly, for then the Lord will have gone out before you to strike the army of the Philistines."   David was able to defeat the Philistines from Geba all the way to Gezer with the help of angels marching in the trees. 

David again gathered all his men and all his people from Israel and went to Baale-judah to recover and bring back the Ark of the Covenant to Jerusalem.  The Ark of the Covenant was of great importance to David. He believed in His God Jehovah with all of his heart.  He was wise in consulting Him continually.  And he steadfastly believed in the covenant that his God had made with His chosen people, the Israelites.  It was clear to David that the Ark was the most powerful symbol of that Covenant with God. When the sons of Abinadab, Uzzah and Ahio, were bringing the Ark back, they put the Ark on an ox cart. This was their first mistake.  They did not follow the instructions given by the LORD about handling the Ark.  Apparently they had forgotten.  This mistake ended in tragedy.  As they were bringing it back, Ahio was walking ahead of it.  David and his house were celebrating and rendering worship to the LORD with all kinds of instruments: lyres, harps, tambourines, castanets and cymbals.  When they reached the threshing floor of Nacon, the oxen stumbled and perhaps the ark wobbled so Uzzah a non-Levite reached out to take hold of the Ark.  That was the second mistake.  Uzzah was immediately struck down by God, dying beside the Ark because of his lack of reverence.   David was upset toward God when he heard this.  The place where this tragic incident happened was called Perez-uzzah.  Because of this David feared the LORD and said, "How can the ark of the Lord come to me?"   He was afraid to move the Ark into the city of David with him.  Instead he took it to the house of Obed-edom the Gittite where it remained for three months, and the Lord blessed Obed-edom and all his household, II Samuel 6:11.

When David heard that the house of Obed-edom was being blessed he decided to bring the Ark the rest of the way to the city of David with gladness.  The second attempt worked.  This time, the Levites carried the Ark properly as is demanded in the Law,  Numbers 4:15.  I guess they learned their lesson well!  By obeying and revering God, they were able to bring it back to the city of David.  Remember that God had set aside the Kohathites, a sub-tribe of the Levites, to carry the Ark.  God had demanded special rules for carrying and handling of the Ark.  The purpose of God setting these rules was in order for the Israelites  to never forget that God is holy.  The Ark was to be handled with reverence before the presence of the LORD and not carelessly.  After the Ark was brought, David celebrated by dancing before the LORD with gladness.  When Michael saw through the window that David was dancing with all his might before the LORD she became bitter in her heart despising him.  

When the Ark came into the city of David, it was placed inside the Tent.  There he offered burnt offerings before His Jehovah God and blessed the people in the name of the LORD.  But when he came to bless his house, Michal came out to meet him saying, "How the king of Israel distinguished himself today! He uncovered himself today in the eyes of his servants’ maids as one of the foolish ones shamelessly uncovers himself!"  David in defense said, "It was before the Lord, who chose me above your father and above all his house, to appoint me ruler over the people of the Lord, over Israel; therefore I will celebrate before the Lord.  I will be more lightly esteemed than this and will be humble in my own eyes, but with the maids of whom you have spoken, with them I will be distinguished."  Michal was bitter in heart and had no child until the day she died.

David's main wish was to build a Temple for the Ark in Jerusalem.  The LORD came to Nathan the prophet saying, "Go and say to My servant David, ‘Thus says the Lord, Are you the one who should build Me a house to dwell in?  For I have not dwelt in a house since the day I brought up the sons of Israel from Egypt, even to this day; but I have been moving about in a tent, even in a tabernacle.  Wherever I have gone with all the sons of Israel, did I speak a word with one of the tribes of Israel, which I commanded to shepherd My people Israel, saying, ‘Why have you not built Me a house of cedar?’  Now therefore, thus you shall say to My servant David, 'Thus says the Lord of hosts, 'I took you from the pasture, from following the sheep, to be ruler over My people Israel.  I have been with you wherever you have gone and have cut off all your enemies from before you; and I will make you a great name, like the names of the great men who are on the earth.  I will also appoint a place for My people Israel and will plant them, that they may live in their own place and not be disturbed again, nor will the wicked afflict them any more as formerly, even from the day that I commanded judges to be over My people Israel; and I will give you rest from all your enemies. The Lord also declares to you that the Lord will make a house for you.  When your days are complete and you lie down with your fathers, I will raise up your descendant after you, who will come forth from you, and I will establish his kingdom.  He shall build a house for My name, and I will establish the throne of his kingdom forever. I will be a father to him and he will be a son to Me; when he commits iniquity, I will correct him with the rod of men and the strokes of the sons of men, but My lovingkindness shall not depart from him, as I took it away from Saul, whom I removed from before you. Your house and your kingdom shall endure before Me forever; your throne shall be established forever.'"  So Nathan spoke to David all these things.

Then David prayed to the LORD saying, "Who am I, O Lord God, and what is my house, that You have brought me this far?  And yet this was insignificant in Your eyes, O Lord God, for You have spoken also of the house of Your servant concerning the distant future. And this is the custom of man, O Lord God.  Again what more can David say to You? For You know Your servant, O Lord God!  For the sake of Your word, and according to Your own heart, You have done all this greatness to let Your servant know.  For this reason You are great, O Lord God; for there is none like You, and there is no God besides You, according to all that we have heard with our ears.  And what one nation on the earth is like Your people Israel, whom God went to redeem for Himself as a people and to make a name for Himself, and to do a great thing for You and awesome things for Your land, before Your people whom You have redeemed for Yourself from Egypt, from nations and their gods?  For You have established for Yourself Your people Israel as Your own people forever, and You, O Lord, have become their God.  Now therefore, O Lord God, the word that You have spoken concerning Your servant and his house, confirm it forever, and do as You have spoken, that Your name may be magnified forever, by saying, ‘The Lord of hosts is God over Israel’; and may the house of Your servant David be established before You.  For You, O Lord of hosts, the God of Israel, have made a revelation to Your servant, saying, ‘I will build you a house’; therefore Your servant has found courage to pray this prayer to You.  Now, O Lord God, You are God, and Your words are truth, and You have promised this good thing to Your servant.  Now therefore, may it please You to bless the house of Your servant, that it may continue forever before You. For You, O Lord God, have spoken; and with Your blessing may the house of Your servant be blessed forever.'"  II Samuel 7:18-29.

With the LORD's help David was able to conquer and subdue the nations that were around him, building Israel into a great and powerful nation.  David defeated the Philistines, the Moabites, King Hadadezer, the Arameans and the Edomites. He reigned over Israel with justice.  David heard about Jonathan's son Mephibosheth, who was lame. He restored Saul's land to Mephibosheth and had him eat at his table.  The King of Ammon humiliated David's servants and hired the Arameans for war. Joab defeated them and David defeated King Hadadezer.  II Samuel 8-10.


DAVID'S DOWNFALL

  • David's Sin with Bathsheba:  (II Samuel 11-12)
A much older man now, David sends his army to go fight against the Ammonites while he decides to stay home in Jerusalem.  David's biggest mistake was to remain at home rather than going to battle like most kings did.  One afternoon after his nap he decided to walk around on the roof of his house.  While he was there he saw a beautiful woman from his roof that was bathing on another nearby roof.  He was enticed by her beauty.  He immediately sent someone to inquire about this woman.  He learned that she was Bathsheba, the wife of Uriah, a fine warrior in David's army.  But David had a problem.  He had gotten used to having whatever he wanted in regards to women, so without hesitation he sent for her and committed adultery with her and she became pregnant.  How ungodly from his part!

To make matters worse, when David found out about her pregnancy, he tried to cover it up.  He sent for Uriah to return so that it might appear that Bathsheba was pregnant by him.  But David underestimated Uriah. Uriah was extremely loyal to David and to his fellow soldiers and refused to go to his house and enjoy the company of his wife.  He argued that since his men could not go to their wives since they were in battle, neither would he. This was David’s own usual standards, "David answered the priest and said to him, 'Surely women have been kept from us as previously when I set out and the vessels of the young men were holy, though it was an ordinary journey; how much more then today will their vessels be holy?"'  I Samuel 21:5.  When David's men were in battle, they were supposed to abstain from their wives.

A frustrated David decided to sustain his cover up one step further in a horrible way:  he sent a message to Joab by the hand of Uriah demanding that he place Uriah in the front line of the fiercest battle knowing that by doing this he would die.  His evil strategy worked.  Uriah died leaving behind his widow, Bathsheba. When Bathsheba heard the news she mourned him.  After the mourning was over, David did not waste time. He married her immediately.  By the way, she becomes his favorite wife.  She bore him a son.  "But the thing that David had done was evil in the sight of the Lord."  2 Samuel 11:27.


When this sad and sorry story is over, God sent Nathan, the Prophet to David saying on His behalf, "There were two men in one city, the one rich and the other poor.  The rich man had a great many flocks and herds.  But the poor man had nothing except one little ewe lamb which he bought and nourished; and it grew up together with him and his children.  It would eat of his bread and drink of his cup and lie in his bosom, and was like a daughter to him.  Now a traveler came to the rich man, and he was unwilling to take from his own flock or his own herd, to prepare for the wayfarer who had come to him; rather he took the poor man’s ewe lamb and prepared it for the man who had come to him."  2 Samuel 12:1-4.  Hearing this story, David was caught up in the injustice and burned in anger against the supposed man saying to Nathan, "As the Lord lives, surely the man who has done this deserves to die.  He must make restitution for the lamb fourfold, because he did this thing and had no compassion."   Afterward Nathan with a petrified pronouncement said to David,  "You are the man! Thus says the Lord God of Israel, ‘It is I who anointed you king over Israel and it is I who delivered you from the hand of Saul.  I also gave you your master’s house and your master’s wives into your care, and I gave you the house of Israel and Judah; and if that had been too little, I would have added to you many more things like these!  Why have you despised the word of the Lord by doing evil in His sight? You have struck down Uriah the Hittite with the sword, have taken his wife to be your wife, and have killed him with the sword of the sons of Ammon.  Now therefore, the sword shall never depart from your house, because you have despised Me and have taken the wife of Uriah the Hittite to be your wife.’ Thus says the Lord, ‘Behold, I will raise up evil against you from your own household; I will even take your wives before your eyes and give them to your companion, and he will lie with your wives in broad daylight.  Indeed you did it secretly, but I will do this thing before all Israel, and under the sun.'"   Notice that David had all the wives he needed or wanted but Uriah had only one.  This portrays a David not content or satisfied with all of God's blessings toward him.  He had God's protection and great abundance of possessions.  Instead of being grateful for what he had, he behaved as an ungodly man taking from Uriah, a godly man, the one thing he had, his wife Bathsheba.  How sad that David had fallen so low just to please the desires of his flesh!  

After David had heard the sentence for his sins, he repented admitting his sins before His God.  Here we see a broken David who had truly repented.  David confronted his own sin giving no excuses and no lies. He realized that according to the Law, there was no sacrifice that he could offer for his sins; only the penalty of death, Leviticus 20:10, 24:17, Deut. 22:22.  After David had admitted his sins, Nathan gave him the final sentence of God's judgment because of his transgressions saying, "The Lord also has taken away your sin; you shall not die. However, because by this deed you have given occasion to the enemies of the Lord to blaspheme, the child also that is born to you shall surely die."   Because of this transgression, David's family was going to be shaken to the core.  The son of Bathsheba would die and David’s other sons would pay bitterly for his transgression.  Even his own wives were going to be harmed.  It is when David felt so broken by his transgression that he wrote Psalm 51.  Notice verses 16-17, "For You do not delight in sacrifice, otherwise I would give it; You are not pleased with burnt offering.  The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and a contrite heart, O God, You will not despise."  Sadly, even though God had forgiven David, he still had to pay the terrible consequences for his sin.  His son died seven days later, despite his fervent prayers.  A broken David did not get angry with God when his son died but rather worshiped Him.  What a different David!  His brokenness had molded him into a much greater man.

David and Bathsheba had a second son who in fact received two names:  Solomon meaning "His Peace" and Jedidiah meaning "loved by God."   Something that caught my attention is that the dead son was unnamed, while the second son was blessed receiving two names.  Interesting!

After this tragic episode, David returned to doing what a king must do.  He led Israel against the Ammonites. Unfortunately some of his sons were now old enough to start causing serious trouble for him.

  • Amnon's Sin, Absalom's Revenge:  (II Samuel 13)
Amnon is David's first born who is awaiting to inherit the throne.  Like so many other stories in the Bible, if I had to rate Amnon's story, I would rate it R.  He found himself falling in love with his own step-sister, Tamar. With the help of a wicked friend, he came up with a wicked plan to trick Tamar into being alone with him. Tamar was a virgin and usually well protected by chaperones.  He pretended to be sick and finicky and demanded that his sister Tamar be sent to take care of him.  David sent her to prepare food for him.  When they found themselves alone, he raped her ignoring her righteous protests.  How repugnant!  

After this shameful crime was done, Amnon found himself hating Tamar even more than he supposedly loved her before and sent her away.  He would not be refused.  Now Tamar mourned bitterly the loss of her virginity.  She was desolate.  What a disgrace!

When David's third son, Absalom, Tamar's full brother, found out about Amnon's horrendous crime against Tamar, Absalom brought Tamar into his own house and took care of her as a kinsman redeemer would do. When David found out he burst in anger. Two years later, a vengeful Absalom had his men kill Amnon for what he had done to his sister Tamar.  What a tragedy in the family!  By killing Amnon this brought political advantages also.  With Amnon's death that meant Absalom was first in line to inherit his father's throne.  Absalom fled afterwards going to Talmai the son of Ammihud, the king of Geshur.  He remained there for three years.  David wept mourning his son's death bitterly, but he also longed to see and go out after his son Absalom.  This is very moving!


FASCINATING FACTS:  DANIEL, DAVID'S SECOND SON

As far as we know Amnon was David's firstborn son, who later on was followed by Daniel and then Absalom.  Although Absalom was third in regards to birth order, he was apparently second in line for the throne after Amnon.

Daniel was the son in between Amnon and Absalom, born to Abigail.  For some reason Daniel was skipped in the line of succession.  One reason could be that although he was the son of Abigal, he could have been the son of Nabal, Abigal's deceased husband.  Now if this were true then Daniel would have inherited his father's estate, but would have no part in David's throne.  For whatever reasons there might have been, Daniel was not in line to inherit David's throne.

  • David Reconciles with Absalom:  (II Samuel 14)
David grieved bitterly over the loss of Absalom.  So Joab, David's commander knew of this and began devising a plan to reconcile them to each other.  His strategy with David was a little similar to Nathan's:  he sent for a wise woman who actually was kind of an actress.  This is what he told her to do, "Please pretend to be a mourner, and put on mourning garments now, and do not anoint yourself with oil, but be like a woman who has been mourning for the dead many days; then go to the king and speak to him in this manner."  So Joab put words in her mouth.

This false woman went and spoke to David with her face bowing down to the ground saying, "Help, O king." David then asked the woman what was her problem.  She told him a story about a widow and her two sons.  In her story one of the sons had killed the other exactly the same way that Cain killed Abel.  The murdering son had run away but she wants to bring him back but is desperately fearing for his life if he ever returned.  David believed her story and provided an order to protect the murdering son.  The woman said to David, “Please let the king remember the Lord your God, so that the avenger of blood will not continue to destroy, otherwise they will destroy my son.” And he said, “As the Lord lives, not one hair of your son shall fall to the ground.”  II Samuel 14:11.  Afterward she reveals to David her true mission: to provide a secure protection for Absalom so he can return and be reconciled to David.  David agreed to allow Absalom to come back, but refused to see him face to face for two years.  Exactly the same way that Cain was allowed to live and not remain in the LORD's presence, Absalom remained an outcast from his father's presence and from his line of succession.  One day Absalom called Joab requesting to see his father, David, but there was no success so he attempted a second time and still David would not come to see him so Absalom sent his servants to set Joab's fields on fire.  When Joab found out, he was very angry and asked why he did it.  Absalom responded, “Behold, I sent for you, saying, ‘Come here, that I may send you to the king, to say, “Why have I come from Geshur? It would be better for me still to be there.”’ Now therefore, let me see the king’s face, and if there is iniquity in me, let him put me to death.”   When Joab was forced to speak on behalf of Absalom this one more time to David, David relented.  So Absalom came and bowed with his face on the ground before his father, the king.  David kissed Absalom.

  • Civil War and Absalom's Death:  (II Samuel 15-21)
Absalom was not very happy when his father king David excluded him from the throne.  He resolved to take the throne by force.  With all his strategies he stole the hearts of the men of Israel.   After forty years, Absalom said to king David, “Please let me go and pay my vow which I have vowed to the Lord, in Hebron. For your servant vowed a vow while I was living at Geshur in Aram, saying, ‘If the Lord shall indeed bring me back to Jerusalem, then I will serve the Lord.’”   David sent him away in peace. So Absalom went to Hebron and sent out spies to proclaim him king dividing the kingdom.   When David heard of this he found himself unprepared and defenseless and was forced to flee Jerusalem, leaving a priest and 10 of his concubines in charge of the city.  But he told Zadok and Hushai to return to Jerusalem.

When David came to Bahurim, he encountered a man from the line of Saul's family whose name was Shemei. Now this Shimei cursed David but David spared him. After many betrayals, counter betrayals and near misses, Absalom was able to enter Jerusalem.  Being advised by Ahithophel, he then proceeded to rape David's 10 concubines.  Notice that Nathan had predicted this earlier as a future judgment for David's sin with Bathsheba.  That is awful!

In addition Ahithophel requested that Absalom provide him with 12,000 men to purse and attack David. The wicked plan pleased both Absalom and the men of Israel.  Absalom called Hushai and asked if he agreed with such a plan.  Hushai advised him saying, "This time the advice that Ahithophel has given is not good.   Moreover, Hushai said, 'You know your father and his men, that they are mighty men and they are fierce, like a bear robbed of her cubs in the field. And your father is an expert in warfare, and will not spend the night with the people. Behold, he has now hidden himself in one of the caves or in another place; and it will be when he falls on them at the first attack, that whoever hears it will say, 'There has been a slaughter among the people who follow Absalom.'  And even the one who is valiant, whose heart is like the heart of a lion, will completely lose heart; for all Israel knows that your father is a mighty man and those who are with him are valiant men.  But I counsel that all Israel be surely gathered to you, from Dan even to Beersheba, as the sand that is by the sea in abundance, and that you personally go into battle.  So we shall come to him in one of the places where he can be found, and we will fall on him as the dew falls on the ground; and of him and of all the men who are with him, not even one will be left.  If he withdraws into a city, then all Israel shall bring ropes to that city, and we will drag it into the valley until not even a small stone is found there.'"  II Samuel 17:7-14. So both Absalom and his men agreed on his counsel being better than the one of Ahithophel.  The LORD had intentionally prevented Ahithophel's counsel in order to bring calamity on Absalom.  Then Hushai sent a warning to David.

Then David sent his people out setting captains over hundreds and captains over thousands under the care of Joab, Abishai, and Ittai the Gittite.  All the people were divided into three parts, a third under each commander.  David said to the people, "I myself will surely go out with you also."  But the people responded “You should not go out; for if we indeed flee, they will not care about us; even if half of us die, they will not care about us. But you are worth ten thousand of us; therefore now it is better that you be ready to help us from the city.”  Then the king said to them, “Whatever seems best to you I will do.”  So David stood beside the gate and all the people went out by hundreds and thousands.  They all heard David's charges given to the commanders regarding Absalom.  David instructed them not to kill him.

Then all the servants of David, went to battle against Israel in Ephraim.  David’s servants defeated Israel leaving 20,000 of them dead.  Joab disregarded David’s plea to spare Absalom.  As Absalom was riding away in retreat, his long hair caught on the branch of an oak tree, getting stuck.  He was hanging there between heaven and earth but still alive.  When Joab was informed by one of his men, he replied, “Now behold, you saw him! Why then did you not strike him there to the ground? And I would have given you ten pieces of silver and a belt.”   The man in return replied, “Even if I should receive a thousand pieces of silver in my hand, I would not put out my hand against the king’s son; for in our hearing the king charged you and Abishai and Ittai, saying, ‘Protect for me the young man Absalom!’  Otherwise, if I had dealt treacherously against his life (and there is nothing hidden from the king), then you yourself would have stood aloof.”   So Joab did not hesitate and took three spears in his hand and plunged them through Absalom's heart while he was yet alive.  Joab and his armor-bearers killed him.  Now Absalom was dead!

Ahimaaz and the Cushite ran to tell David.  When David asked the Cushite, “Is it well with the young man Absalom?” The Cushite answered, “Let the enemies of my lord the king, and all who rise up against you for evil, be as that young man!”  This news sent David into deep mourning for his son.  As he was walking to his chamber he said, “O my son Absalom, my son, my son Absalom! Would I had died instead of you, O Absalom, my son, my son!”   Oh, this moves me deeply!  I can not imagine the pain of losing three sons.  

David kept crying with a loud voice, “O my son Absalom, O Absalom, my son, my son!”  Joab could not comprehend why David was filled with so much grief over Absalom.  He said to David,  “Today you have covered with shame the faces of all your servants, who today have saved your life and the lives of your sons and daughters, the lives of your wives, and the lives of your concubines, by loving those who hate you, and by hating those who love you. For you have shown today that princes and servants are nothing to you; for I know this day that if Absalom were alive and all of us were dead today, then you would be pleased.  Now therefore arise, go out and speak kindly to your servants, for I swear by the Lord, if you do not go out, surely not a man will pass the night with you, and this will be worse for you than all the evil that has come upon you from your youth until now.”   II Samuel 19:1-7.

David arose and came to greet the people sitting at the gate and they all came before him.  At the time, the defeated Israelites were going back each to their tents.  They said to each other, “The king delivered us from the hand of our enemies and saved us from the hand of the Philistines, but now he has fled out of the land from Absalom.  However, Absalom, whom we anointed over us, has died in battle.  Now then, why are you silent about bringing the king back?”

David then called and told  Zadok and Abiathar the priests, saying, “Speak to the elders of Judah, saying, ‘Why are you the last to bring the king back to his house, since the word of all Israel has come to the king, even to his house?  You are my brothers; you are my bone and my flesh. Why then should you be the last to bring back the king?’  Say to Amasa, ‘Are you not my bone and my flesh? May God do so to me, and more also, if you will not be commander of the army before me continually in place of Joab.’”  So he won favor with all the men of Judah returning their hearts to him as one man.  The men of Judah came to escort him back across the Jordan. Shimei and Mephibosheth came to meet him.

Now a wicked man named Sheba led the men of Israel to desert David.  David is forced to put down a revolt of the tribe of Benjamin.  Joab killed Amasa and besieged Sheba at Abel. The people of Abel cut off Sheba's head.  II Samuel 20.

There was a famine for three years, so David sought the LORD. The LORD said, "It is for Saul and his bloody house, because he put the Gibeonites to death."  So David called the Gibeonites  and spoke to them (now the Gibeonites were not of the sons of Israel but of the remnant of the Amorites, and the sons of Israel made a covenant with them, but Saul had sought to kill them in his zeal for the sons of Israel and Judah).  Thus David asked the Gibeonites what he should do for them.  In return they said, “The man who consumed us and who planned to exterminate us from remaining within any border of Israel, let seven men from his sons be given to us, and we will hang them before the Lord in Gibeah of Saul, the chosen of the Lord.” And the king said, “I will give them.”   II Samuel 21:1-6.

However, David spared Mephibosheth, the son of Jonathan, because of the oath of the LORD which was between them.  He let the Gibeonites kill seven of Saul's descendants before the LORD.  When David was informed of the sad vigilance of Rizpah for her son who was among the condemned, he respectfully took down the bodies and the seven and gathered the remains of all the other dead of the house of Saul and buried them in the graveyard of Kish, the father of Saul.  David avenged the Gibeonites, the Canaanites who had that special protection treaty with Joshua.  II Samuel 21:7:14.

Afterward David and his servants went to war with against the Philistines.  Ishbi-benob tried to kill David when David became tired.  But Abishai the son of Zeruiah rescued him striking and killing this giant.  Then the men of David swore to him, saying, “You shall not go out again with us to battle, so that you do not extinguish the lamp of Israel.”  II Samuel 21:15-17.

There was war at Gath again with the Philistines, where there was a man of great stature who had six fingers on each hand and six toes on each foot, twenty-four in number; and he also had been born to the giant. He defied Israel.  But Jonathan the son of Shimei, David’s brother, killed him.  II Samuel 21:18-22.

  • The day the LORD delivered David from the hands of his enemies, he sang:  
"The Lord is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer; My God, my rock, in whom I take refuge, My shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold and my refuge; My savior, You save me from violence.  I call upon the Lord, who is worthy to be praised, And I am saved from my enemies... He delivered me from my strong enemy, from those who hated me, for they were too strong for me.  They confronted me in the day of my calamity, but the Lord was my support.  He also brought me forth into a broad place; He rescued me, because He delighted in me.  The Lord has rewarded me according to my righteousness; according to the cleanness of my hands He has recompensed me.  For I have kept the ways of the Lord, and have not acted wickedly against my God.  For all His ordinances were before me, and as for His statutes, I did not depart from them.  I was also blameless toward Him, and I kept myself from my iniquity. Therefore the Lord has recompensed me according to my righteousness,  according to my cleanness before His eyes.  With the kind You show Yourself kind, with the blameless You show Yourself blameless; with the pure You show Yourself pure, and with the perverted You show Yourself astute.  And You save an afflicted people; but Your eyes are on the haughty whom You abase... He makes my feet like hinds’ feet, and sets me on my high places.  He trains my hands for battle, so that my arms can bend a bow of bronze.  You have also given me the shield of Your salvation, and Your help makes me great.  You enlarge my steps under me, and my feet have not slipped... Therefore I will give thanks to You, O Lord, among the nations, and I will sing praises to Your name.  He is a tower of deliverance to His king, and shows lovingkindness to His anointed, to David and his descendants forever."  II Samuel 22:2-51.

  • David's last words were:  "Truly is not my house so with God?  For He has made an everlasting covenant with me, ordered in all things, and secured... "  II Samuel 23:5-7.  

The everlasting covenant refers to the promise that was fulfilled in Jesus Christ, the Son of David.  On his death bed, David regretted that his own house, in the immediate sense, did not reach that level of nobility worthy of such a covenant.

The closing verses of II Samuel 23 are a veritable Hall of Fame of David's mighty men.  Among them are the amazingly loyal three who brought him water from Bethlehem.  Of the three, the most honorable was Benaiah.   II Samuel 23:13-17.

  • Again the anger of the LORD was against all Israel:  II Samuel 24
In His anger, God Jehovah allowed Satan to tempt David to number the people of Israel and Judah.  "Then Satan stood up against Israel and moved David to number Israel."  I Chronicles 21:1.  David regretted this action and confessed that he had sinned greatly in what he had done, II Samuel 24:10.  He prayed to God and God responded through the prophet Gad saying,  "I am offering you three things; choose for yourself one of them, which I will do to you.”  So Gad came to David and told him, and said to him, 'Shall seven years of famine come to you in your land? Or will you flee three months before your foes while they pursue you? Or shall there be three days’ pestilence in your land? Now consider and see what answer I shall return to Him who sent me.'"  II Samuel 24:12-13.  David chose the third option because he trusted in the mercy of God.  So the LORD sent a plague upon Israel and seventy thousand men of the people from Dan to Beersheba died. But when the LORD was going to stretch out His hands against Jerusalem,  He stopped.  David cried out saying, “Behold, it is I who have sinned, and it is I who have done wrong; but these sheep, what have they done? Please let Your hand be against me and against my father’s house.”   II Samuel 24:17.  The next morning Gad the prophet came to David and asked him to build an altar for the LORD on the threshing floor of Araunah the Jebusite.  When Araunah offered to give the threshing floor to David, the king refused to accept it saying, “No, but I will surely buy it from you for a price, for I will not offer burnt offerings to the Lord my God which cost me nothing.”  So David did as the LORD had commanded him and bought Araunah's field and made offerings.  This moved the LORD.  He stopped the plague against Israel.  II Samuel 24:18-25.  What a wonderful, merciful and kind LORD we serve!


We have covered the reigns of kings Saul and David in the two Books of Samuel.  In my next study, we will consider the reign of king Solomon in the Book of I Kings and thereafter the Divided Kingdom.  


Luci