June 1

2 Samuel 18:1–19:10 

David organized his army under the leadership of Joab, Abiahai, and Ittai. Initially David longed to be on the battlefield, but he wisely listened to counsel – on both sides it seemed to be simply a matter of killing the “king.”

The people of Israel (followers of Absalom) were overthrown in battle because God favored and fought for David. The result? Twenty-thousand enemies of David died that day, including his son, Absalom. It was a strange way to die – what was he doing on a donkey and not on a horse, is it because they were in the woods? How did his hair or head get stuck in a tree? It turns out, he wasn’t much of a warrior, and not much of a king, he was far too easily fooled by Hushai, so he fell, caught in the chords of his own pride. He thought he could take justice into his own hands and bring down the anointed of the Lord.

The man who initially saw Absalom dangling, was wise in not taking his life; David and Joab surely would have killed him for that. The only one who could have killed Absalom and gotten away with it, was Joab, which he did swiftly. The ten men who followed after him only sped the process and spread the blame.

When news reached David of his son’s death, he mourned understandably, but not wisely. Enter Joab, the only one who could knock some sense into him, forcing David to consider the alternative.

Maybe I’m not seeing everything properly, but I think I side with Joab on this one. It’s difficult to admit, but I believe that Absalom deserved to die and David should have swallowed the bitter pill with peace. David should have expressed gratitude to God and to those who fought for him. He eventually did…and God began orchestrating events to restore him to the throne.

John 20:1-31 

The synoptic Gospels mention the other ladies who came to anoint the body of Jesus, while John hones-in on Mary Magdalene. Have you ever noticed how some writers simply summarize the story, while other writers go deeper into the lives of the individuals within the story? John gives us insight into the lives of individuals, such as Nicodemus, the Woman at the well, and others; we have a little more about Mary, Martha, and Lazarus, and this account of Mary Magdalene is truly touching.

Mark 16:9 reveals that Mary was the first one the risen Lord appeared to, it also tells us that Jesus had cast 7 demons out of her (see also Luke 8:2). Mary never forgot what Jesus did for her. She loved the Lord so much that she was having a hard time leaving the tomb – for not only had Jesus died, but now His body was missing. She was weeping and weeping unable to be comforted, but her tears turned to joy, and the mourner became a missionary when she saw the risen Lord. 

O Lord, may I never forget where I came from, what You’ve done for me; how You’ve delivered me from “7” demons. May I keep in mind where I’d be without You, and always be grateful…as Mary was.

Mary recognized Jesus when He called her by name. Mary didn’t want to let go, but she had to, for Christ would ascend to the Father.

Some people struggle with the fact that Jesus calls the Father His God (John 20:17), but in His humanity, Jesus emptied Himself of His Divine privileges, and that’s exactly who the Father was to Him. This was epitomized on the cross where Jesus said, “My God, My God…why have You forsaken Me?” This doesn’t mean Jesus isn’t God, for John started the book with that emphasis (John 1:1). He showed it throughout his gospel and Thomas proclaims it unashamedly in John 20:28 as He acknowledges Jesus with those wonderful words, “My Lord and My God…” As Christians we believe in the blessed Trinity.

Prior to that, Jesus had appeared to the disciples when Thomas wasn’t there. Jesus breathed on them and they received the Holy Spirit (John 20:22). This is when the Spirit came to dwell in them. Later, in Acts 2, the Spirit would come upon them to empower them to be witnesses (see John 14:17; Luke 24:48; Acts 1:8).

I’ve always been mesmerized by the words Jesus shares with the guys, “As the Father has sent Me, I also send you.” Lord, help us to know that You’ve sent us into the world for Your glory, for Your honor, for Your purposes – not ours…even as the Father sent You! (that’s such a monumental mission).

In John 20:23 Jesus is not speaking of men having the power to absolve sins in the sense that the Catholic church teaches (if you confess them to a priest). This is simply in reference to the fact that the church has the power to declare the conditions on which forgiveness is granted – through the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

We haven’t seen Jesus with our physical eyes, but the historical evidence of Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection proves to us beyond a shadow of a doubt that He is the Christ, the Savior of the world. Jesus’ words to Thomas apply to us, that although we’ve never seen Jesus, we believe in Him, and we’re blessed by that (John 20:29). Peter wrote the same thing – that we love Jesus, even though we’ve never seen Him (1 Peter 1:8).

John 20:31 would be a great passage to memorize:

John 20:31 (NKJV) “but these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing you may have life in His name.”

This is the purpose of the Gospel of John – written so we’d believe in Jesus, that He’s the Christ, the Son of God, and have life in His name. If you already believe, I pray you’d be strengthened in your faith, that you’d work out your salvation and reach out to others. If you have not yet placed your faith in Jesus, I pray you would do that today, even now, “…believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and you will be saved.” (Acts 16:31)

Psalm 119:153-176 

We come now to the close of this amazing chapter. The Psalmist has not lost or lessened his love for God and His Word in the slightest.

He wrote in Psalm 119:159, “I love Your precepts.” In Psalm 119:163, “I love Your law.” And in a fascinating passage along the same lines of loving God’s Word, he wrote in:

Psalm 119:165 (NKJV) “Great peace have those who love Your law, and nothing causes them to stumble.”

Do I love God’s Word? It brings great peace and keeps me from stumbling if I read it to heed it, if I study it in sincerity.

May I never turn from His testimonies, and never forget His law, for God is willing to revive me repeatedly (Psalm 119:154, 156, 159). And I need that!

A popular passage on the Verbal Plenary inspiration of Scripture is:

Psalm 119:160 (NKJV) “The entirety of Your word is truth, and every one of Your righteous judgments endures forever.”

The entire Bible, from Genesis to Revelation is truth. Jesus said every little letter and mark of the Bible is inspired (Matthew 5:18) and Paul said the same thing about the scope of Scripture (2 Timothy 3:16).

This section is too rich and deep to touch on everything, but here are few more things that stood out to me:

Psalm 119:162 (NKJV) “I rejoice at Your word as one who finds great treasure.”

Seriously? Do I?

Psalm 119:164 (NKJV) “Seven times a day I praise You, because of Your righteous judgments.”

This Psalm speaks frequently of praising God; it seems that worship and the Word go together. Imagine if we actually did praise Him…seven times a day! All day long!

Psalm 119:176 (NKJV) “I have gone astray like a lost sheep; seek Your servant, for I do not forget Your commandments.”

And then there’s that tendency we all have to stray (Isaiah 53:6). It happens to all of us, let’s be honest. We veer a little off the path from time to time. But if we stay in the Word and pray “on our knees,” God will seek us, often THROUGH His Word, and bring us back, right where we belong!

Proverbs 16:14-15

How foolish it would be to oppose the king of a country in those days. Keep in mind that the context of this Proverb is not a democratic environment but a full-fledged monarchy. We would be wise to always appease our king, to function in his favor.

If this is true of human kings, how much more the King of kings? Only by placing our faith in Christ will we find favor (grace) in His sight! (1 Timothy 6:15; Revelation 17:14; 19:16).

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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