May 29

2 Samuel 14:1–15:22 

Rather than having a straightforward conversation on the wisdom of bringing Absalom back, Joab reverts to trickery. He has an old wise woman pose with a pressing “son” situation and ebbs away at the emotions of David. Through her manipulative words and relentless flattery Joab gets his way, and Absalom is allowed to return from Geshur of Syria.

David made many grave mistakes along the way. The dominos began to fall with his fall with Bathsheba, which led to his murder of Uriah, which led to his inability to bring justice to his son Amnon, or comfort to his daughter Tamar, which led to Amnon begin murdered by Absalom, and Absalmon flees.

Was it okay for David to allow Absalmon to return? Maybe, but definitely not the way he did. When Absalmon first returned he was not allowed to see his father’s face for 2 full years (2 Samuel 14:28). Then, when Absalmon eventually was allowed to see King David, his dad forgave him and restored him, but there never seemed to be any type of communication or guidelines. Don’t you think that may have made a difference? Instead, the moment King David kissed his son, it’s as if he gave him the right to usurp the crown. David didn’t restrain him in the least and Absalom’s rebellion was too easy.

He rode a chariot with 50 men running before him. He would rise early (this man was on it) and stood at the city gates meeting and greeting the people, kissing babies, telling them the king is too busy…if he were king (Absalmon said about himself) they would receive justice. In so doing, Absalmon stole the hearts of the people (2 Samuel 15:6).

David had been the anointed king of Israel, who in one sense earned that crown, but the mantra mentality of the masses is always, “What have you done for me lately?” Here was Absalom, with this caring and charismatic combination none could deny. And then, on top of all that, we read in:

2 Samuel 14:25 (NKJV) “Now in all Israel there was no one who was praised as much as Absalom for his good looks. From the sole of his foot to the crown of his head there was no blemish in him.”

If we’re smart, we know that good looks don’t (in any way) make a good leader, but crowds usually don’t see it that way. Absalom “looked” like a king, and yet the only substance to him, was his hair.

But the rebellion was in full swing, King David was on the run.

In hindsight we see the many mistakes along the way that may have averted such a tragedy – may we learn from them. You might think that David deserved, but keep in mind, many innocent people were hurt and even died along the way.

We must make sure that a person is truly repentant before they’re restored, especially to a position of leadership. There is a distinction between forgiveness and restoration. We can and should forgive those who have “trespassed against us,” but it doesn’t always mean they should be restored to any type of position automatically. I wonder what would have happened if David had taken the time to meet with his son Absalom, to teach him, train him, and restrain him? Isn’t restoration a lengthy process and and not just a whim of a decision one day? (Galatians 6:1-2)

John 18:1-24 

The Synoptic Gospels give us the other side of Jesus’ prayer, how He prayed three times for the “cup” to pass – if possible. There in the Garden of Gethsemane Jesus prayed so hard He sweat drops of blood. While Jesus was praying, His disciples were sleeping. Three times He warned them to watch and pray, for the spirit was willing but the flesh was weak, but they just couldn’t wake up.

Into that glorious garden enters His betrayer, Judas, followed by his detachment of armed troops. They thought they would come in and overpower Jesus, but all it took was his identity uttered from His lips, “I AM,” and they all fell to the ground! Jesus made it very clear, they weren’t taking His life, He was laying it down (John 10:17-18).

Warren Wiersbe said this, “Judas depended on the strength of numbers, Peter on the strength of his arm, Annas and Caiaphas on the strength of their position, but Jesus on the strength of His love and devotion to the Father. Jesus had a cup in His hand, not a sword, but that cup was His scepter. He was in complete control.”

In Jewish eyes Annas was the High Priest of Israel, but the Romans had appointed Caiphas. Jesus will bounce between the presence (and judgment) of the two. In the meantime Peter and John, after an initial running away, find themselves doing their best to be there for Jesus. John was known by the High Priest so he was able to enter the courtyard. Peter’s having a hard time determining exactly where he stands in all this – and the interrogations begin for both Peter and Jesus.

The High Priest asked Jesus about His doctrine, but everyone knew what He taught, for Jesus did so openly. He had nothing to hide so He  suggests that they ask those who’ve heard Him. And then the beatings begin. I’m sure the Devil was behind every blow – imagine the opportunity and freedom to now hurt God in every way! Jesus would be up all night walking from house to house, from court to court on His way to Calvary, where He would die for our sins.

Finally, tragically, joyfully…His hour had come.

Psalm 119:97-112 

So many beautiful verses about the Word of God!

Psalm 119:97 (NKJV) “Oh, how I love Your law! It is my meditation all the day.”

Do I LOVE God’s Word? Do I meditate on it all day? I should!

We have many enemies in life – the world, the flesh, the devil and his demons. They often influence people who oppose us and oppose God’s work through us (think of giants like Goliath, or fellows like the Pharisees). The only way we can be wiser and outsmart our enemies is through the Bible, the Word of God.

As we read, study, memorize, hear it taught, and meditate on God’s word personally, the Holy Spirit can make us wiser than our human teachers. Not that it’s a competition in any way, but that’s the reality of the reward of personally studying God’s Word in sincerity.

Part of the way we don’t stray from God, is by not straying from His Word. It should be sweeter than our favorite desert and make us hate the things God hates. 

God’s Word guides us – for the days are dark:

Psalm 119:105 (NKJV) “Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.” 

When I read the words “afflicted” and “revive” in Psalm 119:107 I realize that these are words are used repeatedly in this chapter – these are words that are closely connected to the Bible. And while affliction can refer to any type of difficulty or discipline, it may also refer to the conviction we experience as we truly “hear” God’s Word. It afflicts us and has the power to revive us (both are miracles). Wake up Manny. Wake up to life and that more abundantly.

We ask God to teach us His Word; that we’d never stray away – that we’d stay safe in His hands, undaunted by the wicked plans of the enemy – that we’d rejoice over God’s Word in our hearts and that we’d echo the sentiment of the Psalmist:

Psalm 119:112 (NKJV) “I have inclined my heart to perform Your statutes forever, to the very end.”

Have I?

Proverbs 16:8-9

V. 8 – The drug dealer, the pimp, the crook – they can make and take a lot of money, but in God’s eyes (and in the depths of our hearts), it’s infinitely better to simply make an honest living. 

V. 9 – This is one of my life-verses. There is that aspect of human responsibility – we make our plans, but it’s all eclipsed by God’s sovereignty. If you were to ask me before I was a Christian, or even in the early years of my Christian walk, how my life would have panned out, I would have never guessed the direction God has taken me. I remember when we were interviewed after our wedding, they asked me what I though would be ahed in life, I simply said, “Whatever and wherever the Lord wants us to be.” It’s been a Great and Gracious Adventure – we’re so grateful to God, He has directed our steps.

If you have any questions or comments on today’s reading, or you’d like to share something the Lord showed you, feel free to leave a reply below. I’d love to hear from you as we grow forward in 2021.

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