Wednesday, June 30: 2Samuel 22-What songs are your singing?

It isn’t clear the time frame for this psalm. Is it toward the end of David’s reign? Is it after being rescued from Saul? I could not really tell. This led me to wonder if this psalm wasn’t recorded as a representative of the songs that regularly flowed from David’s heart. The more I contemplate this, the more I think it so. The annals of the king is a snapshot of his life... so one psalm is included so we can see this aspect of David’s life. The Book of Psalms records the breath of songs that gushed from David’s heart. This one psalm is just a sample, an example of his songs…

My mind flipped. David sang of the strength and wonder and rescue of the Lord. This psalm is a praise melody to God’s greatness and God’s providential care of David’s life. What do I ‘sing’ about? Does my heart sing of the Lord? Do my lips regularly praise God for His care of my life? Am I as trusting of the Lord as David? Do I rely on him as much as David did? Do I sing to my children and those about me the wonders of the Lord or do I sing the wonders of myself?

Questions swirled… questions that cut to the heart of my life. Do I depend on the Lord as deeply as David apparently did?

Lord, this song of David opened a doorway into my interior life. I have much room for maturity and growth. O, Lord…


Tuesday, June 29: 2Samuel 21-Making amends.

Way back in Joshua 9, the Gibeonites deceived the Israelites into a treaty. Saul disregarded that treaty and God’s judgment was served in the form of a famine. Why the famine was during David’s reign and not Saul’s, I have no idea.

What I found fascinating was the need for restitution. Apparently.forgiveness alone was not sufficient. David needed to provide some form of restitution to the Gibeonites, which turned out to be the lives of seven of Saul’s descendents (I am glad we no longer live under the ‘eye-for-an-eye’ and ‘tooth-for-a-tooth’ balance of judgment).

The thought of restitution captured much of my contemplation the morning. Our system of justice is punishment for crime committed… ‘commit the crime and do your time.’ The OT system included punishment but often adds the idea of restitution… paying back for the loss created by your misdeeds. I wonder if we haven’t loss an important element to justice? Imagine a thief is caught and gets ‘x’ punishment and has to pay back all that was stolen + an additional percentage. I wonder if that wouldn’t be more of a deterrent, and if not a deterrent, at least justice for the victim.

I then began to think about this concept applied to my spiritual life. I deserve punishment for the sins I have committed, plus I owe God and/or others restitution for the pain my sins have caused. YIKES, I could never get out of that debt...

Oh, the wonder of mercy … not receiving (the punishment) I deserve!

Thank you Lord God-Father, Son and Holy Spirit- for Your mercy and Your grace and Your love.  I could never pay back what I owe. Jesus, were it not for Your gift of paying my penalty, I would never be free from the weight of sin and guilt that I deserve. Thank You, thank You, thank You… I am forever in debt to Your grace, mercy and love. And it’s to You, Lord God, I can sing, “Hallelujah I am free and I am loved … hallelujah! Amen.


Monday, June 28: 2Samuel 20-A case for confession.

As I have been reading the accounts of David, more than once I have had the nagging thought, “Why does David look a blind eye at the unrighteous and murderous acts of Joab, his general?” It happens again today. When Amasa is charged with rallying the army instead of Joab, Joab kills his rival at the first possible chance he gets.

Joab was a skilled general and a ruthless person who would do anything to maintain his position. Why would David allow his general to act this way? Why would David pretend not to know? How is it that David’s reign isn’t tainted by this ruthless murdering general?

I have no ‘spiritual’ answers for this. My only thought is that David was a pragmatic. He knew Joab to be a powerful person and an excellent general, so David didn’t press the issue.  As  we will come to see in 1Kings, David waited for a most opportune time to discipline Joab for all his treachery.

One thing I do realize is that as good an example as David is, he is far from perfect. David, like all of us, had his flaws and blind spots. The more I think about David, the more I suspect that he knew he was flawed. Psalm 51 and others, though written for specific incidents in his life, show that David understood his need to confess his failings to the Lord and seek God’s forgiveness.

And that is a thought worth acting upon today myself.  Using David’s words I pray from Psalm 51…:

Have mercy on me, O God, according to your unfailing love; according to your great compassion blot out my transgressions. Wash away all my iniquity and cleanse me from my sin. For I know my transgressions, and my sin is always before me. Against you, you only, have I sinned and done what is evil in your sight, so that you are proved right when you speak and justified when you judge. …

Cleanse me with hyssop, and I will be clean; wash me, and I will be whiter than snow. Let me hear joy and gladness; let the bones you have crushed rejoice. Hide your face from my sins and blot out all my iniquity.

Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me. Do not cast me from your presence or take your Holy Spirit from me. Restore to me the joy of your salvation and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me.

Then I will teach transgressors your ways, and sinners will turn back to you. … O Lord, open my lips, and my mouth will declare your praise.

You do not delight in sacrifice, or I would bring it; you do not take pleasure in burnt offerings. The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise (1-17).


Saturday, June 26: 2Samuel 19-The role of leader


I found myself thinking about David. The battle is over. David’s son Absalom, the traitor, is dead. Even though Absalom betrayed his father, David’s heart broke and he grieved when he learned his son was dead. As I mulled that around I think I can understand David. After all Absalom is his son. It seems that Absalom was a favored, maybe even his favorite son. Maybe the grief was born from guilt that somehow David had failed Absalom? The text is silent as to the source of David’s grief.

The dilemma for David is that his grief for his son is not received well by his men. Having just risked their lives for David, they don’t understand. They feel betrayed. Joab confronts David and now the leader has a choice. David chooses to set his grief aside and encourage his men. (A wise choice I might add.)

Decisions like this are the lot of leadership. Leaders face critical choices like this where they have to set aside personal needs, desires, even feelings for the good of the organization. If you are not a leader you might not understand but there are times when leaders have to make difficult, even heart wrenching decisions… such is the call of a leader. Times like this can be incredibly lonely.

If you are a leader… know that God is with you… and your choices in critical situations will make or break the organization you lead. Learn from David, seek God’s wisdom and do what’s best for your organization.

If you are not a leader… pray for those who lead the organizations and churches of which you are a part. Believe me, they appreciate your prayers.

Lord, in my role as leader, help me make the best and wisest decisions for those I serve as I lead. And when I am not the leader, help me to support those out front, praying for and encouraging them.   And should you give me a Joab moment, may my counsel be wise and helpful. In Jesus’ name I pray, amen.


Friday, June 25: 2Samuel 18-Listening to subordinates.

Today’s reading is the account of the battle between David and Absalom’s men. I recall no references to God and no prayers prayed.  I also recall a disobedient general who expressly disobeys the king and kills the king’s son in battle when he could have simply captured him.

God, is this Your word? Where are the life lessons??…

Like chapter 16, the contents of this chapter are important to move the story of David’s kingship forward but it isn’t chock full of obvious God-teachings… such is the nature of some parts of scripture. This, however, does not mean that it is less valuable as God’s word.

So I sit with it open before me and ponder and pray and meditate…

God’s judgments prevail… as a consequence of David’s sin with Bathsheba.  God said, "This is what the LORD says: 'Out of your own household I am going to bring calamity upon you. Before your very eyes I will take your wives and give them to one who is close to you, and he will lie with your wives in broad daylight. You did it in secret, but I will do this thing in broad daylight before all Israel'" (2Samuel 12:11-12). Surely this is being fulfilled in the Absalom incident.

There is wisdom in listening to one’s subordinates. David wants to go into battle but his generals prevail, knowing that if David falls, the battle and sacrifice of many thousands dies. David backs off his valiant desire and listens to his generals. There are times as leaders that we don’t have the full picture or the correct understanding.  Counsel -wise counsel- is the difference between disaster and victory. David knew enough to listen. He discerned the wisdom in their counsel and he followed it…

God is there amidst real life.  Much of life is like this chapter and by this I mean, much of life is going about the things one has to do.  Today I have a number of meetings about seemingly mundane issues and yet they are necessary.  And God is there with me…

Lord, thank You that You are with me everywhere I go and in everything I do. Help me to recognize You, to look and listen for Your leading in all I do… in Jesus’ name. Amen.




Thursday, June 24: 2Samuel 17- Prayer, Planning and Providence.

As we come to chapter 17, we read the result of the 3-P’s … prayer, planning and providence. Back in chapter 15, as David begins to flee from Absalom, he learns that Ahithophel, one of his wisest advisors, defects to Absalom. The text reads: Now David had been told, "Ahithophel is among the conspirators with Absalom." So David prayed, "O LORD, turn Ahithophel's counsel into foolishness" (15:31). Prayers don’t need to be long to be effective and this one was spot on. David knew what was at stake and he prayed pointedly and directly.

Accompanying this prayer, David plans, sending another trusted friend to Jerusalem to offer to help Absalom.  However, all the while he is spying for David and working to frustrate any advice Ahithophel might give. Planning!!! David was a cunning leader with tremendous savvy-ness.

Well, this morning we learn that the prayer and planning connects with God’s providence and we see how God has been at work behind the scenes saving David and frustrating Absalom and his conspiracy.

The 3-P’s are a great formula for life…

Pray- talk with God, share your heart, ask for success, seek God’s blessing and listen… God might just give you some plans.

Plan- the things of God generally come about through able planning. Yes, the planning needs to be in line with God’s will. And yes, those of us who are planning-types have to be careful lest we think that OUR planning alone will bring success. However,  read history and the Bible, God’s people plan.

Providence- ultimately it is God’s blessing of our plans and God’s answering of our prayers that results in success…

I believe God is reminding me … keep the 3-P’s together. Not one, not even two, but all three bring divine success.

Lord, Thank You for your grace and love. Thank you for promptings to pray and reminders that even when I don’t feel a particular nudge to pray, prayer is always a right decision. Thank You, too, for the not so gentle reminder to apply my mind and my best listening to Your skills in planning those things I believe You want me to accomplish. And then, Lord, help me wait for Your will to unfold. If I have discerned properly and prayed/listened well, then You will bring things together and Your providence will be seen. Bless You for this very practical word for today. In Jesus’ name, amen.



Wednesday, June 23: 2Samuel 16-simply being with my Lord.

As I read this chapter, there were no thunderbolts, no big ‘a-hahs’. There weren’t even any deep devotional moments. The text seemed simply to carry the story along. David flees from his conspiring son Absalom. Some friends helping, some people seizing a moment curse… it was one of the most trying days for David.

But like I said, there weren’t really any connect points worthy of noting in this journal.

I thought about what I just wrote and realized life will have days like that … no thunder bolts from God. And yet, I know God is still there and the discipline of sitting with His Word, listening for His whispers and words –whether they come or not- is worth every moment I spend with Him.

Sometimes my wife and I chat up a storm, sometimes we sit, saying nary a word but being together side-by-side is the reward and blessing in its self.

The same was true for me today. God didn’t speak discernibly to me, but He was there and I was with Him and that was gift enough for today…

Lord God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, I thank and bless You for being present today and always. It was good to sit and be with You today. Walk with me throughout the day… guide my path, show me what is right and what is wrong. Help me to live in such a way that my life points others to You. In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen.


Tuesday, June 22: 2Samuel 15-Blind eyes.

From the very beginning David seems to have blind eyes to the doings of his son Absalom. David let Absalom get away with murder,literally. Then for 4 years David must have ignored the intel about what Absalom was up to. Personally I find it hard to believe that David, who has such a good pulse on his people, could miss 4-years of subversive activity like that of Absalom.

The word that keeps coming to my mind is ‘favorite.’ My sense is that Absalom was David’s favorite and David kept looking the other way with his son’s activities.

Parenting is hard, vigilant work. Even when we trust our children, we have to remain vigilant as we raise them, helping guide them through the difficult channels which lead to mature adulthood.

A connecting thought is that David had become lax in his governance.  If in fact he missed all that Absalom was doing ‘under his nose’, then David was missing the mark as king. How or why the text is silent…

As I add up these thoughts I am reminded we all face many aspects to our lives and that we have to stay on top of all of them. This is an overwhelming thought. How can we do this except by the grace of God and the leading and help of God’s Holy Spirit? I don’t believe I can, anyway.

Being honest with God about life and pressures and distractions and problems and blind spots and… it is all part of our walk with the Lord.

O, God, this reading causes me to realize that it is so easy for me to put aspects and areas of my life on ‘auto-pilot.’ I can avoid paying attention to those things that I should or I must. This can happen with work or home responsibilities, as well as any other area of responsibility that I carry.

All the more, Jesus, I realize that I cannot live life without Your help, Your guidance, Your love or Your grace. I surrender my life to You. I need You and I have to stop pretending that I can do life alone…

Thanks for this reminder today… I pray this in Jesus’ name. Amen.


Monday, June 21: 2Samuel 14-No place for God's word.


The chapter is a fascinating study in manipulating people, playing on their good intentions and their emotional soft-spots (we all have these by the way), to get what we think is best for ourselves or for others. In families, most of us know how to manipulate others to get our way. Sometimes this ability to manipulate is used to bring about what we believe is good for others in our family or for the whole family.

Children manipulate parents to buy or allow this or that. Parents/spouses/significant others manipulate. We use guilt, tender stories that play on the heart, or strong arming   You know the games we play- you play.

The manipulation game is played in offices and clubs and …

Joab was a master at manipulating David to do what he, Joab, thought best. At the end of the story, Absalom manipulates Joab to come see him… and so the game is played.

Sadly, the entire story is devoid of God’s Word. No one stopped to check and see if the end result would glorify God, if what was being manipulated was in line with God’s teachings. And so the entire chapter is a sad commentary on what we do and how we get others to do what WE want (good intentions or not) with no check to see if it is what GOD wants. I have read the ensuing chapters many times. I know the heartache that will come because no one checked in with the Lord… because there was no place for the correction of God’s Word and Voice…

Lord God -Father, Jesus, Holy Spirit- it is so easy and so human to manipulate others to get my way or to get what I think is the best way.  However, when I don’t check in with You, check my motivations, intentions and outcomes against Your Word in prayer, I am creating problems. I can’t be more honest with myself than that…

This is not an easy realization, Lord. In fact it is down right scary. When I let Your Word and Will slip from guiding me, I am in danger! O God…


Saturday, June 19: 2Samuel 13-Sins of the fathers.

Reading the disturbing story of Amnon’s rape of his half-sister Tamar and then Amnon’s subsequent murder by Absolom, Tamar’s brother and his half-brother, I couldn’t shake the thought that David’s sin with Bathsheba and his cover-up murder of Uriah was repeating itself. The sins of the father being visited upon the son. I have heard people refer to things like this as generational sins.

There is something to this. How often do we see sins being repeated generation after generation?  Alcoholism, sexual indiscretions, trouble with the law, marriage failures… and on and on, the list goes.

In a conversation with someone not long ago, this woman explained how she talked with her spouse about his alcohol use (abuse???), begging the spouse to get help and get it under control for the sake of their kids. “You can be the one to cut off the effects of this problem,” she implored. (FYI: The man’s parents both died in part due to the effects of alcohol abuse.)

Counselors use genograms and other tools to explore generational patterns in families…

With all of this swirling, I began asking the Lord to show me if there are any generational issues affecting my life that I should deal with… for my sake and for the sake of my children.

O God, what a complex web we weave… our lives are far more interconnected than we often appreciate. Lord, open me to honest self-evaluation… for my sake, yes, absolutely. Lord, if there be any wicked thing in me –from generations before me or of my own making- show me. And, Lord, I pray this for the sake of my children, too. Lord, I admit it is frightening that my sins may be passed on to my children. It gives me greater pause to deal with my stuff and my sin.

Jesus, this walk with David and his family is revealing and at times difficult… thank You for Your word. Amen


Friday, June 18: 2Samuel 12-Blinded to our own sin.

As Nathan weaves his story, David’s heart burns for the injustice. Yes, David’s heart still loves the Lord deeply.  God’s spirit continues to reside there… BUT David is completely blind to the sin and its residual consequences in his life. Nathan’s story reels David in and then Nathan lands God’s convicting punch… You Are the MAN!

It never ceases to amaze me, how we humans (I think we males are better at this than women) can compartmentalize our lives. We can be spiritual giants on the one hand and living with unconfessed sin in the other. I have seen it in many lives, read about it all too often in the tabloids as Christian leaders become exposed and more to the point of my morning devotions, I have seen it in my own life! Ouch.

After reading this account I reviewed yesterday’s prayer… it may be more potent today: Lord, I know this is true and yet I still struggle with self-examination.

Lord, show me the log in my eye… show me the sins in my life… show me where You would have me change, grow, learn, confess, repent, …

Self-examination is one defense against compartmentalizing sin; another is the gift of a ‘Nathan’.  A trusted voice can speak God’s word past our defenses and into our lives…

O, Jesus, help me to develop a pattern of intentional, regular self-examination and some ‘Nathans’ who can speak into my life when self-examination fails… Jesus, help me. Spirit, help me. Father, help me… Amen


Thursday, June 17: 2Samuel 11-David and Bathsheba.

O, Lord, where is the grip of sin strong in my life? Jesus, it is so much easier for me to point a finger at David or to analyze his issues and observe where sin began to tighten around his neck than it is to do the same with myself… this is NOT good. As long as I keep the examination of my life at arms length, I walk the dangerous precipice of sin; I dally with the dangerous, I flirt with failure.

Lord, I know this is true and yet I still struggle with self-examination.

Lord, show me the log in my eye… show me the sins in my life… show me where You would have me change, grow, learn, confess, repent, …


FYI: This morning was out of the ordinary for me. After reading the account of David’s sin with Bathsheba, I sat and almost immediately found myself talking with the Lord -the prayer I scribed above.  For me today was not so much musing about the text as I was glaring inward at the lack in my life and my need for healthy introspection… an intimate with the Lord.



Wednesday, June 16: 2Samuel 10-Extending a hand of friendship.

I’m cautious as I meditate on this chapter, since the story is about international politics, an area that has no connection with my life. As I try to personalize it, I see David extending a hand of friendship to a son whose father had been kind to him. Unfortunately, David’s act of kindness is misunderstood and rebuffed.

Those things happen in life.  We extend a hand in friendship and for often unknown reasons, our kindness is rejected. Question is… “Will we extend a hand in friendship to others or will we shy away from extending ourselves because we were hurt that one time?”

It seems to me that God would have us be the kind of people who extend hands in friendship… who reach out in kindness. We cannot control the response,  all we can do is control our actions.

A couple of weeks ago I preached a series of messages from Bill Hybel’s book Just Walk Across The Room. His thesis is that if we will just venture across rooms and extend hands in friendship, God may be at work and we may have opportunities to share our faith in Jesus.

Clearly God is still working on me…

Lord, open my eyes today to people who might need a kind word, a warm smile and hello and/or a hand of friendship. Help me to radiate Your love in small acts of intentional kindness to those I know and do not know… in Jesus’ name. Amen.


Addendum: Sadly, David’s act of kindness ends in war… YIKES. But I do notice that though rebuffed, David did not resort to arms until provoked. It seems that David would have been content to live disconnected from the Ammonites, let them go their way and he go his. Unfortunately, the Ammonites escalated things, twice, to the point of war. David learning of troop build up, put his army into action to protect his people…



Tuesday, June 15: 2Samuel 9-Kindness to an old friend.

Today’s reading is about how David, once established, searched out descendants of his best friend Jonathan in order to honor and care for them. David found Mephibosheth, Jonathan’s son, and set him up as family heir, giving him all this family property plus bringing him to Jerusalem to eat at the King’s table for life. David went above and beyond in providing for his best friend’s family.

Where the Lord led me in my meditations was to long-time friends and what gifts these people have been and are. Even after David settled into his new life, established his kingdom and began living his new life, years went by, David continued, apparently, to remember with fondness his friend Jonathan, who has been dead for years.

What an example this is to me about nurturing friends across the decades. Having moved, as I have every 5 to 8 years over the course of my adult life, I have friends in various areas around the US. It is easy for me to establish new friends in new places and let older friends fade. David’s actions remind me about the gift of those ‘special’ friends and encourages me to not let those relationships fade.  Instead, I am to nurture them even though time and distance add complicating factors to the friendships…

Today I will contact some… just to stoke the fire of old friendships!

Lord, thank you for the many friendships along life’s path. These people have been gifts from you. Usually men have encouraged me when down, called me to account when I was out of order, laughed, and chatted and teased and played and been serious and prayed and taught and loved me along the twists and turns of life. Thank you for them!!! Thank you for the gift they were and are…

Lord, bless those who still live this side of eternity and say ‘hello.’  Also thanks to those who are living with You in glory.

And, Jesus, thank You for your on going friendship and love.  Wow what a gift from the Lord of Glory of heaven and earth… in Your name Jesus I pray. Amen.


PS following my prayer time I wrote a letter to a friend from many years ago. The Lord brought this couple to mind and I thought maybe it is a prompting from the Lord. Tears rolled down my cheeks as I recalled some of the ways they loved on me and my family…

Lord, I pray that my note brings life and joy to my friends…


Monday, June 14: 2Samuel 8-Priorities. a lesson in leadership

Priorities… personally, everyone of us are bombarded with a myriad of potential priorities. We can see ourselves and our welfare as the priority. Family could be our priority, and so on.

Those who lead face many, often competing, priorities. The corporate bottom line, the shareholders, personal interests, short term yield or long term growth, to name a few.

Political leaders must navigate competing priorities as well. Consider US politicians, who increasingly must weigh political party priorities; lobbyists interests; big donor interests; state, local and national interests; international concerns and, of course, the ubiquitous personal interests.

I found it fascinating, and frankly refreshing, that David, who faced and navigated many of the same priorities and concerns that politicians of today face, governed for the people’s welfare. At least that is what verse 15 says: David reigned over all Israel, doing what was just and right for all his people. David did what was right for ALL HIS PEOPLE.

I thought about those last 3 words… He led for the benefit of ALL people. I am sure he faced pressure to govern, so his clan- Judah- benefited.  But David apparently resisted this and sought the good of all Israel. It was a noble effort by a quality leader. He could have governed in such a way that he lined his pockets but that too was not his priority. All Israel was his priority.

I also noticed the word HIS… my sense in reading this is that ‘HIS’ didn’t imply possession, as if all people belonged to him, as in he ‘owned’ them. But rather ‘his’ was a relational ‘his.’ He treated all the people as if they were his kin. David governed as if he were the patriarch looking out for all his family… another noble leadership quality.

This caused me to begin thinking about my leadership. Do I lead as pastor for all people or a select few? Do I care for all people in my church family as if they were family?

Priorities… affect decisions.

What are your priorities and are they as noble as King David’s?

Lord, help me to lead like David for the sake of all you place in my care… family, church, and all my circles of relationships. I pray in Jesus’ name. Amen.


Saturday, June 12: 2Samuel 7-The blessing of God

The chapter begins with a glimpse into David’s heart.  He longs to build a temple for his God. David didn’t have to do this.  It was a love-offering, a desire to thank and bless the Lord his God.

From this ensues a conversation between the Lord and David, in which God blesses David with an everlasting covenant. God will be a Father to David’s descendants and when they do wrong, God will correct them, but God will never forsake them. But my love will never be taken away from him, as I took it away from Saul, whom I removed from before you. Read that opening line, that eternal promise again…

But my love will never be taken away from him… That promise belongs to all of us who live in Christ! Once in God’s love, God will never take His love from us. Oh God might correct us, rebuke us and discipline us, BUT God will never stop loving us!

What a promise! What a gift! What a God!

Let the truth of God’s love soak into your bones… let it go deep… let it encourage you and strengthen you… (Don’t rush on, bask in God’s love for you.)

Meditate on it today.  What a wonderful preparation for worship tomorrow!

O, God, I am without words. Your love fills and engulfs me. I don’t know how to respond…and maybe that is best. I love You, Lord God, and I bless Your Name and I bask in Your never-ending love! Hallelujah Amen.


Friday, June 11: 2Samuel 6-God HOLINESS demands obedience.

This chapter touches me in a number of places but it is the death of Uzzah that grips me most tightly. It was a magnificent day as the ark of God (the presence of Almighty God among his people) is moved into the holy city. All things are glorious, until Uzzah, the priest, reaches out to steady the ark as the oxcart stumbles. In an instant, the pageantry ends as Uzzah immediately dies. How dare he touch the holiness of God.

Let me back up. Uzzah was attempting to do a good thing, so why did God kill him? First the priests were not following God’s decree about moving the ark. God had prescribed that the ark be carried on shoulders with long poles and not be on a cart. Had the priests been following God’s ways, there would have been no need for this breach of protocol.

First thought… do things God’s way. When God prescribes, it is not within our prerogative to change His prescription!

Second thought… can’t God care for Himself? Does God need me or anyone else to defend him? Remember chapters ago after the ark had been captured and then the Philistines sent the ark back on a cart (they didn’t know God’s law) and God directed two never-before-yoked oxen to pull the cart (with the ark on it) home with out incident? God can care for Himself. God would have protected the ark, Uzzah didn’t need to break God’s law and touch the ark!

I am still staggered by the thought of this event. Like David, I am frightened by the awesome power and absolute respect that God commands. This, too, is a good thing. I must never take God for granted!!!

O, Lord, shatter my world with an utter understanding of Your holiness. Remind me of Your incredible greatness and that You alone are LORD and I am but mere creature. Shake me, Jesus, with whom You, the Father and the Holy Spirit are.  Let me never forget Your wonder and Holiness and Might and … amen.


PS: R.C. Sproul has a tremendous teaching from this text on the Holiness of God



Thursday, June 10: 2Samuel 5-Asking God for direction

I love it, David is THE MAN and he remains willing to ask the Lord about what he should do.

Maybe it is just me but I find it very easy to begin living as if I have the answers and I know what to do. Even when I am not certain exactly what to do, I am confident in my ability to figure it out.

David exemplifies another way, the way of depending upon the Lord. The Philistines posed one of the first threats to his country. Hoping to blindside David, they marched out for battle. David, an experienced and competent warrior/general, did not immediately organize his army for a counter offensive. Instead, he first inquired of the Lord (19). God said, ‘Go’ and David won a smashing victory.

Later the Philistines mobilize for a second offensive. What does David do? He pauses again to check in with the Lord. This time God gives David a different battle tactic. David follows God’s plan and wins another decisive battle (22-25).

I love the fact that David took the time to inquire of God. Make no mistake about it, David was a man of action. He was a battle hardened soldier, prepared to defend his nation. But David was also wise enough to plug into God before he burst onto the battle field.

Learning to pause in order to confer with the Lord before deciding upon my plan, that is a good lesson for me to hear…

Lord, hearing is one thing, learning and doing is another. Help me learn from David at this point. Help me to cultivate a deep enough relationship with You so that asking Your advice and seeking Your counsel will be second nature and the natural thing for me to do…  This is pray in Jesus, my Lord’s name. Amen.


Wednesday, June 9: 2Samuel 4-Honor

Mulling over this short chapter, the word ‘honor’ continues to ping-pong around my mind. Certainly David wants the war to end, for Ish-Bosheth to surrender and transfer his tribes to David but David will not resort to murder. So when men anticipating a reward bring Ish-Bosheth’s head as proof of his death to David, David gives them a murder’s welcome. They are killed for their self-acknowledged murder of Ish-Bosheth.

These are difficult times. I can’t relate to all the blood and death and murder and execution. I am used to the rule of law, with courts and trials and jury’s verdicts. But my day is not David’s day. As king, his word was law.  Justice was swift and only as honorable as the king who enforced it. David rises to the top. He will not resort to God dishonoring activities to secure his kingdom. He will not honor murders. Once he does, anarchy will reign and vigilantes will rule.

David stays above the fray…

Not all leaders are so noble. Some corporate CEO’s, union bosses, and people of power, line their pockets at the expense of workers, shareholders and others who trust them.  Such is the sin-filled nature of we human beings.

Strive for honor… the text reminds me. Live with integrity… the chapter enjoins me.

Father, the temptations and the stakes are not as great in my life as they were for David or are for a high profile leader. But temptations still abound. Temptations to take credit for things not my own, for manipulating others to get my way, or for seeking my will at the expense of others. Forgive me when I succumb and Lord God, show me the signs of trouble in my heart before they can grow into full blown sin…

I love You Lord and I know my heart is deceitful… I surrender my life and will to You, O Lord my God. Amen.


Tuesday, June 8: 2Samuel 3-Holding grudges.

Joab was a piece of work! He was a valiant soldier, a general and a man of action.  Often he had insight into the motivations of others (you will see this in chapter 19), and he held grudges, big time!

During the battle between Ish-Bosheth and David, Joab’s brother Asahel was killed in the line of duty by Abner. Asahel was a casualty of war And Joab never forgot.  He nursed his brother’s death… looking for an opportunity to get his revenge.

Well, Joab’s day came.  David, in essence, signed a treaty with Abner that would end the war and solidify David as king over all Israel. Abner came in peace and Abner left in peace. It was a good day for God’s people. Unfortunately, Joab saw it as an opportunity to exact his revenge. During a clandestine meeting with Abner, Joab kills him in cold blood. MURDER!

A murder’s curse is spoken over Joab and he will get his due.  You will have to wait till 1Kings 2 to see how and when.

Nursing a grudge doesn’t always result in murder but neither does it end up in God honoring behavior! This is where God speaks into my life today. The not so gentle whisper of the Spirit warns me about holding grudges… “Don’t do it,” God says. “Learn to forgive,” God repeats.

Lord, walk with me through my memories.  Am I holding grudges? Am I carrying resentments? Am I harboring hurtful memories? Lord, show me that these are the ingredients of failure and left unchecked they will stew in me creating a bitter stew…

Lord, teach me to forgive. It’s Your defense against grudges and the like… in Jesus’ name. Amen.



Monday, June 7: 2Samuel 2-Asking God.

The opening verse struck me. I cannot recall the last time I prayed and asked God where I should live. David who has been on the run from Saul does have some new found freedom, since Saul is dead. But before he made a move, David sought the Lord’s guidance. In the course of time, David inquired of the LORD. "Shall I go up to one of the towns of Judah?" he asked. The LORD said, "Go up." David asked, "Where shall I go?" "To Hebron," the LORD answered (1).

Such was the bond of David and his Lord. Like seeking counsel from a best friend, David ‘rings’ the Lord to talk. “Is the time right for me to move back to Israel? Is it safe? Is it prudent? Is it…?”

“Yes,” the Lord replies, “Go home to Israel.”

“Ok, but where should I go?” asks David. “Tell me what town is best for my family and my men and their families.”

“Go to Hebron,” God offers.

The conversation is like one I imagine between friends, or maybe calling dad for some advice… it is natural, normal, easy and helpful. There are no fancy religious words, just a heart felt chat.

David’s relaxed conversations with God help me to think and process what a relationship with the Lord is like. We can ‘ring up’ God and chat. We can ask His help in life decisions. We can connect with God and seek counsel as we do with other key people in our lives.

David lives this… and the pounding of my heart is to emulate David in my relationship with the Lord.

O, Lord God, it never ceases to amaze me that I can have Your ear whenever I need it or even simply want it. You have availed Yourself to me! That sentence amazes me. The God of the universe, the one who keeps all things and knows all things, has an open door for me and all Your children to come talk or ask anything. What a blessing to be part of Your family, through faith in Jesus Christ. Alleluia! Amen.


Saturday, June 5: 2Samuel 1-Free to mourn.

Amazing, simply amazing! David mourns publically and deeply for the one who hunted him much of his adult life.

30+ years ago I heard a lecture by a Ugandan Anglican Bishop Festo Kivengere who wrote the book, I love Idi Amin. Bishop Kivengere grew up and personally felt the atrocities of the Idi Amin tyrannical regime. The book’s subtitle is poignant: The Story of Triumph under Fire in the Midst of Suffering and Persecution in Uganda. What a lecture, what a man! He really meant the title of his book. By the grace of God and the radical redeeming work of Jesus and the Spirit in his life, Festo moved from bitterness and anger to Christian love for this despotic leader. It was a compelling lecture, noted by the fact that I remember it 30+ years later.

Festo Kivengere apparently learned similar lessons as David did. Running from Saul for his life for years, David upon hearing the news of Saul’s death, mourns for Saul, God’s anointed king. Your glory, O Israel, lies slain on your heights. How the mighty have fallen! (19)

Additionally, David teaches his song of lament to all his men and to the people of Judah. People related to David with no love for Saul!

Some how, some way, the radical redeeming love and grace of God got a hold of David’s heart and turned natural bitterness into respect and love… and tears flowed (12) and a song seeped into his heart. David was free to mourn for his enemy Saul.

Lord God, I desire that radical redeeming work in my life. Lord, I pray for grace to change those pockets of hatred, disgust or dislike that I have into true care and dare I pray, love. Jesus, this is impossible on my own and in my own strength. It is only possible through the work of the Holy Spirit deep within my life. I invite that work. I pray for that work to be done in my life in all areas that you see need that work! In Jesus name, amen.


Friday, June 4: 1Samuel 31-The end comes for all of us.

Saul’s life comes to an ignoble end. Critically wounded in battle, he falls on his sword to avoid capture.

Noble or ignoble, painful or peacefully, sudden or after prolonged illness, death come to all of us. It is one eventuality that none of us can escape. A sobering thought on an absolutely gorgeous morning.

I was impressed by the men of Jabesh Gilead, Saul’s clansmen, who risked their lives to give Saul an honorable burial. At least these men took the risk to honor the fallen king. I mused about what that says about Saul.  His family honored him.  Did the rest of Israel reject him? It is dicey to infer what people are thinking from scant evidence.

Then my thinking flipped. I think it was the Lord.  At least it led to God honoring thoughts. I wondered about my life, asking if I was living in a manner that would be honored or bypassed by those I know. Where this led was, “Was I living up to my God ordained potential? Was I living for Jesus and making a positive, encouraging, kingdom impact on others?” I took a mental jog through my various circles… immediate family, extended family, friends, neighbors, coworkers, and so on.

I won’t share my conclusions… that’s for me and God. But I will say I’m a mixed bag of outcomes. How about you?

O, God, I want to live this life well… live it well for You. O, God, I want to encourage others, see them blossom into Your full potential. O, Lord, I want to make kingdom impacts. I can’t do it on my own. I need Your help. Please help me. And Lord, please forgive me for those times and people to whom I give less (sometimes much less) than my best… In Jesus name. Amen.


Thursday, June 3: 1Samuel 30-What should I do Lord?


The providential gift of God to send David and his men home rather than into battle with the Philistines was far greater than I first realized. Had David and his men gone into battle, no one knows when they would have returned home. By then, the trail of the marauders who destroyed Ziklag, kidnapped their families and stole their belongings and livestock, would have grown cold. David and his men would have lost everything! God’s providence not only averted the disaster but brought a GREAT victory.  It also increased David’s wealth and his stature before his men and the Israelites living in the area, since David shared his wealth with them (26-30).

But the aspect of the account that caught my attention was David’s immediate reaction to the destruction of Ziklag. David and his men wept aloud until they had no strength left to weep.… each one was bitter in spirit because of his sons and daughters. But David found strength in the LORD his God. Then David said to Abiathar the priest, the son of Ahimelech, "Bring me the ephod”… and David inquired of the LORD, "Shall I pursue this raiding party? Will I overtake them?" (4-8)

After honest, expressive grief (David was never afraid to show his emotions), David turned to God for direction. To me, this is a commanding illustration of a life lived full-out with God. In tragedy David weeps and grieves, he hurts and crumbles… until they had no strength left to weep. This was real heartfelt emotion. Then rung out, David does not set out on some emotion-crazed vendetta, nor does he sink into a black hole of despondence. No, he turns to his Lord God for strength and wisdom… strength to continue living and wisdom to know what to do next!

O, God, there is so many life lessons in this account. This passage is a veritable goldmine of principles for living.

It is okay to have emotion, to be wracked with emotion. As humans we feel emotion, You made us that way. And it is honoring to You, our maker, to live them out appropriately!

You have built us for relationship, we can turn to You any and every time we need help. Crushed by the weight of his loss, David turns to You for strength. David knows You are his Rock and Source…

And then before he acts, David seeks Your wisdom, Your direction, Your will. Brilliant! Before he runs off half-crazed, due to his loss, he re-centers his life and actions in YOU.

Jesus, teach me to live like this. Teach me to be so open and transparent with You. Guide me to such a deep reliance on the Holy Spirit, that of my life it might be said, I was a man after Your own heart. Amen.



Wednesday, June 2: 1Samuel 29-The Providence of God.

I was wondering what was going to happen. Would David fight for the Philistines -the enemies of God? Would he turn on the Philistines and join the fight alongside of Israel? Would he flee? What would he do?

In my heart, I don’t believe he would have fought against Israel. So how was he going handled the situation?

Well, God intervened. The other Philistines rulers demanded that David and his men be sent back. Achish complied against his desire and the problematic situation for David was resolved. I’m quite sure that David, being the person he was, had a plan but God had things sorted out. God is in control and in His often quiet ways God worked things out for the future king of Israel.

I have learned that I cannot presume on the providence of God but I see it around me all the time …

·       Three years ago feeling called by God to teach in Nigeria, I went to drop off all my papers for my visa. Leaving the Consulate to travel home, the visa intake person comes running after me. She had noticed a problem that would most certainly have denied my visa. I fixed it at her direction and in 10 days I had my visa. God, the Providence, at work.

I could fill blogs with other instances of the providence of God. We can’t presume on God. We need to do our part but then God shows up in unexpected ways determining that His Will, will be done!

I sat as I wrote, thinking about many other evidences of God’s providence in my life. My heart soared realizing how many times God has stepped into life… providence.

O, Lord, this morning as I read, meditate and pray, I am seeing just how often Your hand has appeared in my life…


Tuesday, June 1: 1Samuel 28-You can't hide character.

Saul does a despicable thing going to a medium, something expressly forbidden by God. In the language of Star Wars, Saul’s defection to the dark side is complete…

But my eyes and heart were attracted to David. Those few verses say volumes about him. In less than 18-months David has proven himself so valuable that Achish appoints David to be his bodyguard. This may be the most trusted position for a king. Reading those words caused me to realize what kind of person and worker David was.  He was the cream of the crop, a valiant warrior who was trusted by all he served.

David held this same position for Saul before Saul attempted to kill David.

You can’t hide character.  Over time character will show through. When you are a person of integrity, competence, hard work, diligence, resourcefulness, etc. people will come to see it. Hopefully, they will appreciate it but this unfortunately is not always the case. Saul became more and more threatened by David’s character and competence. Some leaders cannot handle high quality subordinates.This is sad but true.

It also occurs to me that one can develop character… that’s the point of walking with Jesus. As we allow the Holy Spirit to fill and change us to be more like Jesus, our character will grow. We can develop competence, too. Not everyone has the same potential or gifts.  Some can play on the PGA tour, others in a local league.  But no matter our natural gifts in an area, we can all hone the gifts given and give it our all.

David is an example of a person with extraordinary leadership gifts who applies himself to the task.  As such, he is an example to me of excellence and character, a wonderful combination, one rarely seen.

O, Lord, help me to be the person You created me to be… to give myself wholly to loving and serving You. Develop in me CHARACTER first, that I might live for You like David, all the days of my life (unlike Saul who lacked character and defected). And Lord, by Your grace, lead me on a path where I can hone and use the gifts You have given for Your honor and glory.

Finally Lord, please do not allow me to grow complacent in either arena of life. When I, in my humanness, do grow complacent, by Your sovereign will, place something in my path that will build character and competence in me. Lord, I am inspired by David, a man after Your own heart whose excellent work was evident to others. For Your glory, I ask these things this morning. In Jesus name, amen.