Sabbatical 2017

Sabbatical 2017
Mill stream in Quimperle, France

Sunday, April 9, 2017

Canonical Reading Plan for Apr 10, 2 Sam 19-21

Today's readings are 2 Sam 19-21.

When David sinned, Nathan prophesied that the sword would never depart from his house (2 Sam 12:10). Even though he is restored to the throne, David's struggles are not yet resolved. The kingdom begins to show signs of crumbling. Apparently, Absalom was just the beginning of David’s problems.

We see the first indication of trouble between Judah and the northern tribes who feel left out of David's plans. Absalom's rebellion has done damage that goes far beyond his demise. The division he fostered has created wounds that will be difficult, if not impossible, to heal. 

Two events help to move toward reunification. First, after a sobering rebuke from Joab concerning David’s grief over Absalom and how it looked to those who fought so hard for victory, David wisely sits at the gates, demonstrating his leadership and accessibility, a good practical move (2 Sam 19:1-8).

Second, David successfully returns to Jerusalem, granting forgiveness and grace to those who opposed him. Grace can be a potent factor in healing. David’s actions do much to restore peace to the land. But in his zeal to extend an olive branch to those who supported Absalom, David appoints his cousin, Amasa, who was Absalom’s commander over his army (2 Sam 17:25), to take Joab’s place leading David’s army.

Mephibosheth, who had been accused of being disloyal, greets David and it is evident he has been grieving since David left (2 Sam 19:24). After a short exchange, it becomes clear that Ziba misrepresented Mephibosheth. David comes up with a compromise, giving half of Mephibosheth’s land to Ziba. But David’s hastily arrived at solution actually rewards Ziba for being a liar and a deceiver (2 Sam 19:25-30). David, not praying about any of these major decisions, is acting out of his own excitement and eagerness to bring peace and seems to be thrashing around for avenues toward his goals.

Furthermore, feeling slighted in all the festivities, the tribes of Israel confront Judah and David for perceived offenses (2 Sam 19;41-43). Notice, we’re beginning to see division between the northern tribes and Judah with the northern tribes being referred to as “Israel.”

In 2 Sam 20, we see the growing tensions between the northern kingdom and Judah when Sheba leads a rebellion (2 Sam 20:1-3). Things begin to escalate. Joab murders Amasa (2 Sam 20:10). Murders and fighting resume and tensions rise, but Sheba comes to a brutal end, betrayed by some of his own people (2 Sam 20:22-23) effectively squashing the rebellion.

Old offenses committed by Saul in Gibeon are brought up in 2 Sam 21. David satisfies the demands for retribution of the Gibeonites (2 Sam 21:7-9) and honors one of Saul’s concubines at the same time (2 Sam 21:10-14).

David’s moves toward atoning for mistakes Saul made are humble and effective. But, the die has been cast. A nation that was united and at peace is now brought to bickering and fighting over trivial matters. These are supposed to be God’s people, representatives of His presence but they seem to have allowed self-interest to permeate everything they do and it is ripping the country apart.

War breaks out with the Philistines again (2 Sam 21:15). David is weary from all the fighting and has to be rescued by one of his men (2 Sam 21:16-17). The Philistines are defeated, losing four more giants in addition to Goliath (2 Sam 21:18-22).

The Jews are still God's people. David is still God's anointed leader for them but there is a price to pay for sin and David must now live with the consequences of his.

Grace is not a get-out-of-jail-free card that excuses the sin of believers. For sure, it guarantees our eternal destiny and our place in heaven. In these chapters, God shows us that He honors true repentance. David makes a few good decisions and many things are restored. But some consequences remain. David knew better than to do what he did with Bathsheba. His poor decision in pursuing her has led to more poor decisions and now things have careened out of control to the point that they threaten to divide the nation.

We must never trivialize sin nor take God's grace for granted. His grace is immense, free and abundant but the moment we presume His grace will cover our willful rebellion, we set ourselves up for tension with the Father and work against the process of our sanctification. 

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