2 Samuel 24–David’s Senseless Census

Truly one of the strangest stories of David’s reign. God incites David to Take a census of Israel’s troops and then punishes him for doing it! Over the objections of His trusted advisors, he had the census taken. When completed, David was struck with the gravity of the sin–He was putting his trust in the numbers, not in the Lord.  The backlash was great, 70K people died from the plague, but, God in His mercy relented after only 1 day of a 3-day plague.
 
David knew what he had done was wrong.  He would never again put his trust in what he had before him, instead, he would put his trust in God! That was why David had the most amazing reign of all of the kings of Israel and Judah.  It was never about the numbers or the weapons, instead, it was about leadership and lordship!  David learned from the time of Goliath that God wins the victories, not skill, might, or volume of troops.  That is what made this story so memorable. David, of all kinds, learned early that it was God that provides. So when David acted like every other king, it was both senseless and out of character.
 
In our lives, no matter how well we know the Lord, or how many times he has shown himself amazing in our lives; we are often faced with the opportunity and sadly choose to trust our own power rather than fully relying upon God. When that happens, it can be catastrophic for us and others.  In those times, often we must own our sin and repent. then trust in His mercy and restoration. God simply loves us and wants for us a full and meaningful life.  When he leads, we see amazing things and often find he has accomplished exceedingly and abundantly more than we could hope or dream. 
 
In short, we must rely upon God no matter how easy it is to count our own tools and troops. There is no army so large or nation so great, that God, that uses the earth as a footstool, could not wipe it out in an instant!
 
God Bless You

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

So the king said to Joab and the army commanders[a] with him, “Go throughout the tribes of Israel from Dan to Beersheba and enroll the fighting men, so that I may know how many there are.”

But Joab replied to the king, “May the Lord your God multiply the troops a hundred times over, and may the eyes of my lord the king see it. But why does my lord the king want to do such a thing?”

The king’s word, however, overruled Joab and the army commanders; so they left the presence of the king to enroll the fighting men of Israel…

Before David got up the next morning, the word of the Lord had come to Gad the prophet, David’s seer: 12 “Go and tell David, ‘This is what the Lord says: I am giving you three options. Choose one of them for me to carry out against you.’”

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

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

15 So the Lord sent a plague on Israel from that morning until the end of the time designated, and seventy thousand of the people from Dan to Beersheba died…

Araunah said, “Why has my lord the king come to his servant?”

“To buy your threshing floor,” David answered, “so I can build an altar to the Lord, that the plague on the people may be stopped.”

22 Araunah said to David, “Let my lord the king take whatever he wishes and offer it up. Here are oxen for the burnt offering, and here are threshing sledges and ox yokes for the wood.23 Your Majesty, Araunah[d] gives all this to the king.” Araunah also said to him, “May the Lord your God accept you.”

24 But the king replied to Araunah, “No, I insist on paying you for it. I will not sacrifice to the Lord my God burnt offerings that cost me nothing.”

So David bought the threshing floor and the oxen and paid fifty shekels[e] of silver for them.25 David built an altar to the Lord there and sacrificed burnt offerings and fellowship offerings. Then the Lord answered his prayer in behalf of the land, and the plague on Israel was stopped.

2 Samuel 13 Part 1–When the Unforgivable Happens

There is no good news in this story.  God promised David that because of his great sin that his own house would always be in turmoil. So was the case with Amnon and Tamar.  Amnon simply disregarded all rule of propriety and raped his sister. He should have been immediately killed and Tamar cared for. Neither happened. David was furious, Tamar’s Brother Absolom crushed and bitter–but nothing was either said or done to Amnon.
 
Sometimes things get so horrible that all are left in wonder of how to proceed.  In this case, David should have taken quick and extreme action.  Here David sat with his own guilt and shame and did not respond.  We cannot simply do nothing when such evil is committed.  A wise man said once, “Evil thrives when good men do nothing!” Had David taken action immediately, so much pain would have been healed and his kingdom would not have suffered so intensely.  Still, even in the present day, we often choose to do nothing, rather than take the tough stand and make the unpopular decision to do what is right. It is that behavior that has allowed crime to soar, suicide to skyrocket and evil to reign in the world. 
 
God’s people need to hit their knees and pray–then, we need to take a stand and call evil–EVIL. Not a bad choice, not a poor decision–EVIL. We need to train our kids and ourselves to take responsibility for our lives and our actions.  Help me Lord to do that very thing!
 
God Bless You

In the course of time, Amnon the son of David fell in love with Tamar, the beautiful sister of Absalom the son of David.

Amnon became so obsessed with his sister Tamar that he made himself ill. She was a virgin, and it seemed impossible for him to do anything to her.

Now Amnon had an adviser named Jonadab son of Shimeah, David’s brother. Jonadab was a very shrewd man. He asked Amnon, “Why do you, the king’s son, look so haggard morning after morning? Won’t you tell me?”

Amnon said to him, “I’m in love with Tamar, my brother Absalom’s sister.”

“Go to bed and pretend to be ill,” Jonadab said. “When your father comes to see you, say to him, ‘I would like my sister Tamar to come and give me something to eat. Let her prepare the food in my sight so I may watch her and then eat it from her hand.’”

So Amnon lay down and pretended to be ill. When the king came to see him, Amnon said to him, “I would like my sister Tamar to come and make some special bread in my sight, so I may eat from her hand.”

David sent word to Tamar at the palace: “Go to the house of your brother Amnon and prepare some food for him.” So Tamar went to the house of her brother Amnon, who was lying down. She took some dough, kneaded it, made the bread in his sight and baked it.Then she took the pan and served him the bread, but he refused to eat.

“Send everyone out of here,” Amnon said. So everyone left him. 10 Then Amnon said to Tamar, “Bring the food here into my bedroom so I may eat from your hand.” And Tamar took the bread she had prepared and brought it to her brother Amnon in his bedroom. 11 But when she took it to him to eat, he grabbed her and said, “Come to bed with me, my sister.”

12 “No, my brother!” she said to him. “Don’t force me! Such a thing should not be done in Israel! Don’t do this wicked thing. 13 What about me? Where could I get rid of my disgrace? And what about you? You would be like one of the wicked fools in Israel. Please speak to the king; he will not keep me from being married to you.” 14 But he refused to listen to her, and since he was stronger than she, he raped her.

15 Then Amnon hated her with intense hatred. In fact, he hated her more than he had loved her. Amnon said to her, “Get up and get out!”

I Samuel 23 Part 2–A Mountain Between Us

David was learning to fully rely on God.  He was seeking God in every step. He was seeing how little trust could be put into men and how very precarious life was.  In the midst of that, however, God continued to protect, prepare and provide for David and his 600 men.  On this day, David was hiding in the desert and among the forests.  Saul had no shortage of sycophants that were glad to turn David over to Saul.  Jonathan, however, was still a loyal friend to David and he made a covenant to support David as King and remain loyal. 
 
Saul was closing in, however, and on this day, He had tracked David so close that they were on opposite sides of a mountain.  Saul had done a great job of tracking David down and now as he closed in nothing could stop him…well almost nothing! Just as he had David cornered, the Philistines attacked the Land. Saul had to leave and respond to the attack. What a coincidence, God even used the enemies of Israel to save His anointed king.
 
We never know what God’s plan will include for our lives.  In great and in difficult times, God is always in control of His plan for our lives.  There are days when we simply feel trapped and see no way to continue.  In those moments, God reminds us that He loves us and will not forsake us.  He promised in Romans 8, “All things work together for Good for those that love God and are called according to his purpose.” Romans 8:28.  We, like David, must fully rely upon God. He will deliver us in ways we would never expect–but should always know are from Him.  Our enemies may be clever, but God is greater! 
 
God Bless You

So David and his men, about six hundred in number, left Keilah and kept moving from place to place. When Saul was told that David had escaped from Keilah, he did not go there.

14 David stayed in the wilderness strongholds and in the hills of the Desert of Ziph. Day after day Saul searched for him, but God did not give David into his hands.

15 While David was at Horesh in the Desert of Ziph, he learned that[a] Saul had come out to take his life. 16 And Saul’s son Jonathan went to David at Horesh and helped him find strength in God. 17 “Don’t be afraid,” he said. “My father Saul will not lay a hand on you. You will be king over Israel, and I will be second to you. Even my father Saul knows this.” 18 The two of them made a covenant before the Lord. Then Jonathan went home, but David remained at Horesh.

19 The Ziphites went up to Saul at Gibeah and said, “Is not David hiding among us in the strongholds at Horesh, on the hill of Hakilah, south of Jeshimon? 20 Now, Your Majesty, come down whenever it pleases you to do so, and we will be responsible for giving him into your hands.”

21 Saul replied, “The Lord bless you for your concern for me. 22 Go and get more information. Find out where David usually goes and who has seen him there. They tell me he is very crafty.23 Find out about all the hiding places he uses and come back to me with definite information. Then I will go with you; if he is in the area, I will track him down among all the clans of Judah.”

24 So they set out and went to Ziph ahead of Saul. Now David and his men were in the Desert of Maon, in the Arabah south of Jeshimon. 25 Saul and his men began the search, and when David was told about it, he went down to the rock and stayed in the Desert of Maon. When Saul heard this, he went into the Desert of Maon in pursuit of David.

26 Saul was going along one side of the mountain, and David and his men were on the other side, hurrying to get away from Saul. As Saul and his forces were closing in on David and his men to capture them, 27 a messenger came to Saul, saying, “Come quickly! The Philistines are raiding the land.” 28 Then Saul broke off his pursuit of David and went to meet the Philistines. That is why they call this place Sela Hammahlekoth.[b] 29 And David went up from there and lived in the strongholds of En Gedi.[c]

I Samuel 17 Part 1–Facing the Giants

The people in Israel were in the midst of regaining their standing as a nation. Saul, their king had been making a name for himself by attacking the Philistine outposts. The battles had gone back and forth–but on this day, Israel had a big problem. His name was Goliath he was 9’6″ and armed to the teeth.  He stepped out to the battle lines and made a challenge. Send anyone from the Israelite army to face Goliath and winner takes all.  From Goliath’s standpoint, there was no one that was nearly close to a match of size or strength.  He neither feared God or men.
 
Across the valley, the mighty army of Israel sat in paralyzing fear.  Their King, Saul had rejected God’s leadership.  He no longer heard from God or trusted God to battle on Israel’s behalf.  So when a mighty warrior almost twice as large challenged them–rather than looking to God; they looked hopelessly at each other. What do we do now?  Israel had become a mighty nation by looking to God for direction and seeking His leadership in war and peace.  Now, since they no longer had God’s direction, they wandered aimlessly and fearfully through the battle.  Make no mistake, God still cared for His people, but the Lord was unwilling to bless a king who rejected Him and His leadership.
 
Israel’s problem was huge–but it was not the giant. Israel’s problem was chasing other gods.  Some had names like idols–Rah. Baal, Asherah. Other God’s were not named–power, riches, lust, and rage. Israel had simply lost sight of the God that freed them, protected them, provided for them and prepared them to take their place as a mighty nation. Never-the-less, God had a plan.  God would, as he always does, bring a warrior like none other.  When he was done, the warrior would make clear that it was God that would battle Israel’s enemies, and God would make Israel victorious.
 
In our lives, we, like Israel, get easily distracted by other gods.  Some have names–Hollywood, sports, politics. Others are unnamed like stress, finances, power, or lust. Still, when we lose sight of God, we begin to be overtaken by fear and confusion.  Our problems seem to be gigantic and armed to the teeth–but, as we learn, they are not the giants we think we see. Instead, it is our lack of submission to God as our Lord. When we humble ourselves, confess our sin and resubmit to God’s leadership; then the Lord himself will battle the giants we face. He will be victorious and He will get the credit. The beauty is that, when God takes the credit–everybody wins.
 
God Bless You

Now the Philistines gathered their forces for war and assembled at Sokoh in Judah. They pitched camp at Ephes Dammim, between Sokoh and Azekah. Saul and the Israelites assembled and camped in the Valley of Elah and drew up their battle line to meet the Philistines. The Philistines occupied one hill and the Israelites another, with the valley between them.

A champion named Goliath, who was from Gath, came out of the Philistine camp. His height was six cubits and a span.[a] He had a bronze helmet on his head and wore a coat of scale armor of bronze weighing five thousand shekels[b]on his legs he wore bronze greaves, and a bronze javelin was slung on his back. His spear shaft was like a weaver’s rod, and its iron point weighed six hundred shekels.[c] His shield bearer went ahead of him.

Goliath stood and shouted to the ranks of Israel, “Why do you come out and line up for battle? Am I not a Philistine, and are you not the servants of Saul? Choose a man and have him come down to me. If he is able to fight and kill me, we will become your subjects; but if I overcome him and kill him, you will become our subjects and serve us.” 10 Then the Philistine said, “This day I defy the armies of Israel! Give me a man and let us fight each other.” 11 On hearing the Philistine’s words, Saul and all the Israelites were dismayed and terrified.

I Samuel 11 Part 2–Look at the King WE Picked

People are funny.  Here, Israel was so concerned about Samuel’s sons’ corruption, that they demanded to have a king.  God provided them the coolest king–tall, dark and handsome. Then, as Samuel anointed Saul, several leaders said in effect–“He ain’t my king!” Then the Ammonites started terrorizing the people and Saul, with God’s power, led Israel to a great victory! Now everybody was on board. It was time to throw a party.  The people were so proud of themselves–“Look at this great King WE picked!” In the land, there was great celebration. 

Israel had no idea what they were choosing.  As they submitted to God’s leadership, He blessed them, protected them, provided for them and made them a nation to be reckoned with. Now, they had a king. If they submitted to the king, he would lead them but, he would also make pretty difficult demands upon them, their families and their possessions. If they failed to submit–well that would be treason and they would die. Kings did not possess the grace and mercy that God possessed. God loved them like His kids. A King treated them like his subjects. 

The saddest part of living independent from the Lord is that God is the only leader that longs for us to be free. God has no personal agenda, separate from seeing us have a great life.  He needs nothing from us, and He only  wants what is best FOR us. Both then and now–God simply wants to be in relationship with His own.  That is why Jesus said, “Seek first the kingdom of GOD and HIS righteousness, and all these things will be added to you!” Matthew 6:33. The Lord still offers to be our King, and by following the Lord, we can truly experience freedom as it is meant to be!

God Bless You

The people then said to Samuel, “Who was it that asked, ‘Shall Saul reign over us?’ Turn these men over to us so that we may put them to death.”

13 But Saul said, “No one will be put to death today, for this day the Lord has rescued Israel.”

14 Then Samuel said to the people, “Come, let us go to Gilgal and there renew the kingship.”15 So all the people went to Gilgal and made Saul king in the presence of the Lord. There they sacrificed fellowship offerings before the Lord, and Saul and all the Israelites held a great celebration.

1 Samuel 10 Part 1–Samuel Anoints a King

It was no small thing to be anointed as Israel’s 1st King. Still, Saul, the farmer’s son was simply out looking for his dad’s livestock, (and not having any luck…). So when God’s prophet anointed Saul as king of Israel, there was no fanfare, no parade. Fox and NBC were not on site. It was a small and very private ceremony. I am sure that as Saul stood looking at Samuel he was a bit peeved when the prophet poured oil over his head. Still, what happened that day was the beginning of a change in Israel that would lead to the redemption of the world.
 
After the anointing, Samuel sent Saul on his way home. He warned Saul though that his life was about to change. once the Spirit of the Adonai filled him, Saul would be changed for life.  It is important to note that in those times, that the Holy spirit was only active in prophet’s, priests and now kings.  They were God’s intermediaries for the people.  That is why it was critical that those people be above reproach.  Saul would be the 1st King anointed–So what he did and what he became would impact what happened with his nation.
 
In our lives, we have been given the same gift that Saul would enjoy. The Holy Spirit does indwell us–as children of God.  Acts 1:8, “ But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”  We receive the spirit as a guide, comforter, teacher and lead.  As we seek the Lord, that lead carries us through life’s greatest challenges and opportunities.  We have to be sensitive to the Spirit’s leadership, and follow the Lord with humility and a grateful heart.  That is what the prophet’s, the great King’s and the devoted priests did.  Jesus said it best, “Seek first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness and all these things will be added to you!” Matthew 6:33  Let’s seek the Lord, and allow the Spirit to lead so we can be like a King!
 
God Bless You

Then Samuel took a flask of olive oil and poured it on Saul’s head and kissed him, saying, “Has not the Lord anointed you ruler over his inheritance?[a] When you leave me today, you will meet two men near Rachel’s tomb, at Zelzah on the border of Benjamin. They will say to you, ‘The donkeys you set out to look for have been found. And now your father has stopped thinking about them and is worried about you. He is asking, “What shall I do about my son?”’

“Then you will go on from there until you reach the great tree of Tabor. Three men going up to worship God at Bethel will meet you there. One will be carrying three young goats, another three loaves of bread, and another a skin of wine. They will greet you and offer you two loaves of bread, which you will accept from them.

“After that you will go to Gibeah of God, where there is a Philistine outpost. As you approach the town, you will meet a procession of prophets coming down from the high place with lyres, timbrels, pipes and harps being played before them, and they will be prophesying. The Spirit of the Lord will come powerfully upon you, and you will prophesy with them; and you will be changed into a different person. Once these signs are fulfilled, do whatever your hand finds to do, for God is with you.

“Go down ahead of me to Gilgal. I will surely come down to you to sacrifice burnt offerings and fellowship offerings, but you must wait seven days until I come to you and tell you what you are to do.”

I Samuel 8 Part 2–We Want a Cool King Part 2

The truth hurts! Per God’s command, Samuel went to the people and told them what to expect if they were to live under the rule of a king.  If I were the people of Israel, and heard what it would cost to have a king, I would have gone home and been grateful for the freedom that I currently enjoyed.  Not Israel.  When describing the prospects of having a king, one word literally jumped out–TAKE.  Israel had been under the leadership of a loving God. He gave them provision, He gave them protection, He gave them direction and He gave them prominence among the nations. What Israel missed was the point that God gave Israel all that they enjoyed.
 
As Samuel described the rule of a king, he told the people the king would TAKE–their children, their husbands, their lands, their crops, their stuff and mostly their freedom.  It was what God led them from Egypt to regain. It was what He trained an entire generation to live under. Their freedom was regained by God clearing out the nation of enemies and presenting them with homes, lands, livestock and security.  Now, they wanted to be like everyone else–in bondage to a leader. They thought it would be fun to worship their leader, rather than their God.
 
Not a great deal has changed. We are given a promise of liberty from sin and death–if we will simply follow God. If we will submit to His leadership, He will give us back our freedom.  But, it seems so much cooler to chase the things of this world–money, love, power, stuff, prominence and success.  As we chase these cool kings, they take. They take our focus, our resources, our love, our families and mostly–our freedom. As it has always been the case, the worst of our generation becomes the start of the generation to follow.  Before we realize we have been enslaved, our children are celebrating the lack of responsibility freedom takes.  They think it is cool not to have to conform to a standard–not knowing it simply draws them deeper into sin and into slavery.  Israel simply did not realize it was selling its freedom for the hope of gaining something they had all along a great leader.  We need to understand that we are doing the same thing!
 
God Bless You

So Samuel told all the words of the Lord to the people who were asking for a king from him. 11 He said, “These will be the ways of the king who will reign over you: he will take your sons and appoint them to his chariots and to be his horsemen and to run before his chariots.12 And he will appoint for himself commanders of thousands and commanders of fifties, and some to plow his ground and to reap his harvest, and to make his implements of war and the equipment of his chariots. 13 He will take your daughters to be perfumers and cooks and bakers. 14 He will take the best of your fields and vineyards and olive orchards and give them to his servants. 15 He will take the tenth of your grain and of your vineyards and give it to his officers and to his servants. 16 He will take your male servants and female servants and the best of your young men[a] and your donkeys, and put them to his work. 17 He will take the tenth of your flocks, and you shall be his slaves. 18 And in that day you will cry out because of your king, whom you have chosen for yourselves, but the Lord will not answer you in that day.”

The Lord Grants Israel’s Request

19 But the people refused to obey the voice of Samuel. And they said, “No! But there shall be a king over us, 20 that we also may be like all the nations, and that our king may judge us and go out before us and fight our battles.” 21 And when Samuel had heard all the words of the people, he repeated them in the ears of the Lord. 22 And the Lord said to Samuel, “Obey their voice and make them a king.” Samuel then said to the men of Israel, “Go every man to his city.”