Psalms 3; 4; 12; 13

I Trust, Because…

“But I trust in your unfailing love. I will rejoice because you have rescued me. I will sing to the LORD because he has been so good to me.” ­– Psalms 13:5-6 NLT

David has had to sneak out of Jerusalem, because his son, Absalom, has turned the people against him and successfully pulled off a bloodless coup. This is the son who killed his own half-brother for raping his sister, Tamar. This is the son that should have been arrested, brought to justice, and given the death sentence. But instead, he was allowed to escape and live in exile for two years. This is the son who finally was allowed to return to the kingdom, but who David refused to see for another two years. This is the son that finally demanded an audience with the king, his own father, and when he finally got it, David acted as if nothing had ever happened. This is the son who turned his anger, bitterness and resentment against his father into action and took over his kingdom.

And rather than fight, David has decided to flee the kingdom. He was in mourning. He was a defeated man. His own son had turned against him. And in the midst of all this sorrow and despair, David did what any God-fearing man should do, he called out to God.

“Arise, O LORD! Rescue me, my God!” (Psalms 3:7 NLT)

“Answer me when I call, O God who declares me innocent. Take away my distress. Have mercy on me and hear my prayer” (Psalms 4:1 NLT)

“Help, O LORD, for the godly are fast disappearing! The faithful have vanished from the earth!” (Psalms 12:1 NLT)

“O LORD, how long will you forget me? Forever? How long will you look the other way?” (Psalms 13:1 NLT)

“Turn and answer me, O LORD my God! Restore the light to my eyes, or I will die” (Psalms 13:3 NLT)

David turned to God. He called out to God. He expressed his deepest feelings to God. Why? Because he knew God would hear him and answer him. He trusted in God’s unfailing love. Yes, David had screwed up in a lot of ways. He had made some major mistakes. But God still loved him. God still counted David as one of His righteous ones. He was David’s chosen and God was going to be faithful to keep His commitments to David. The key is that David kept turning to God. When he screwed up, he kept looking up. He knew the answer to his problem was going to come from one source and one source only. So David prayed honestly, yet confidently.

“…you, O LORD, are a shield around me, my glory, and the one who lifts my head high” (Psalms 3:3 NLT)

“I cried out to the LORD, and he answered me from his holy mountain” (Psalms 3:4 NLT)

“I lay down and slept. I woke up in safety, for the LORD was watching over me” (Psalms 3:5 NLT)

“Victory comes from you, O LORD. May your blessings rest on your people” (Psalms 3:8 NLT)

“You can be sure of this: The LORD has set apart the godly for himself. The LORD will answer when I call to him” (Psalms 4:3 NLT)

“I will lie down in peace and sleep, for you alone, O LORD, will keep me safe” (Psalms 4:8 NLT)

“The LORD’s promises are pure, like silver refined in a furnace, purified seven times over. Therefore, LORD, we know you will protect the oppressed, preserving them forever from this lying generation, even though the wicked strut about, and evil is praised throughout the land” (Psalms 12:6-8 NLT)

“But I trust in your unfailing love. I will rejoice because you have rescued me. I will sing to the LORD because he has been so good to me” (Psalms 13:5-6 NLT)

David trusted God, because… because he knew Him to be trustworthy. He knew God was loving and faithful. He knew God cared for His own and would not leave them defenseless. He knew God hated the wicked and could see into the hearts of men. David loved God and wanted to do what was right. He had made mistakes, but His God was a forgiving God, a God who forgave and restored His own. So David prayed. And he waited…with confidence. He had been here before. He had played the part of the exiled king before. And God had come through. So David was confident God would do so again.

Father, I want to trust You like David did. In the midst of my worst moments, I want to be able to turn to You and honestly share my heart, but also to share my confidence that You will deliver – even before You have! May my faith continue to grow in You. May my confidence increase daily as I recognize Your faithful activity in my life. I will rejoice because You have rescued me! Amen

Ken Miller
Grow Pastor & Minister to Men

2 Samuel 14; 15

Rebellion At Home.

“Absalom stole the hearts of all the people of Israel.” ­– 2 Samuel 15:6 NLT

The ramifications of David’s sin with Bathsheba continue. Not only has David lost the child that Bathsheba was to give birth to, he has lost his son Amnon, who was killed by his brother Absalom for raping their sister Tamar. Then David banished his son Absalom from the kingdom and refused to deal with him for more than two years. He did not seek him out to punish him for murdering Amnon and he did not seek him out to offer amnesty. He did nothing. God had warned David that there would be consequences for his sin with Bathsheba. Among the things God had told David was the fact that he would experience rebellion in his own home. “Because of what you have done, I, the LORD, will cause your own household to rebel against you” (2 Samuel 12:11 NLT). Chapters 14 and 15 record the fulfillment of this prophecy from God.

Once again, we see David’s inaction and seeming ineptitude to dealing with the problem of Absalom. Rather than take control of the situation, he let it fester. He allowed Absalom to languish in exile, making no attempt to remedy the matter. It wasn’t until Joab attempted to pull a “Nathan the Prophet” plan that David was forced to take action. Using a woman disguised as a widow who told David a story about her two sons, Joab forces David to see the situation surrounding Absalom from a new perspective. He agrees to allow Absalom to return to Jerusalem, but then refuses to see him. So Absalom returns, only to find himself banished from the king’s presence. Two more years will pass, with Absalom growing increasingly frustrated and angry over David’s rejection of him. When he finally gets David to see him, it appears all is well, but Absalom has been poisoned by the treatment he has received. And he begins a methodical plan to take over his father’s kingdom. He does it by slowly winning over the hearts of the people. He begins to undermine their trust in David. He becomes their friend and confidant. Driven by bitterness and anger against his dad, Absalom seeks revenge, and fulfills the warning that God had given David.

David is forced to flee from the city of God. When he hears that Absalom has solidified his standing with the people and successfully completed his coup attempt, David flees instead of fighting. He gives up. Rather than stand against Absalom, he does nothing again. He abandons the city. And while we could probably applaud David’s seeming willingness to leave matters in God’s hands, it seems sad that the king of Israel, God’s chosen leader to protect the people of Israel and the city of God, would just walk away, leaving it all in the hands of a murderer and conspirator. Perhaps David is resigned to accept that this is all part of God’s punishment of him for his sin with Bathsheba. But it is almost as if a melancholy still lingers in David since his sin was originally exposed. He does not appear to be the man we have come to know. His inaction is uncharacteristic. He is not the young man who took matters into his own hands and single-handedly took on the giant Goliath. Now, when faced with a difficulty, he seems to run. David’s sin had compromised his decision-making abilities. He doesn’t seem to know what to do. But rather than seek God’s will, he seeks to leave – to run away. He abdicates his throne as easily as he had abdicated his responsibilities as a father. When the situation required decisiveness, he did nothing. His inaction had driven his own son to rebel against him. His unwillingness to deal with the matter had not made it go away, it just delayed the inevitable. His inaction had produced a negative reaction. The man after God’s own heart had seemingly lost heart. So we find him leaving the city of Jerusalem in mourning, his tail between his legs. But things would get worse before they got better.

Father, forgive me for the times when I choose inaction over action. When I choose to do nothing instead of take responsibility and make the difficult decisions that need to be made. Give me the strength to stand up and be the man you’ve called me to be. While I always want to trust You, I know there are times I need to step up and do the right thing. Help me to do so. Show me how to deal with the Absaloms in my life biblically and decisively. Amen

Ken Miller
Grow Pastor & Minister to Men

2 Samuel 13

Trouble In Camelot.

“When King David heard what had happened, he was very angry.” ­– 2 Samuel 13:21 NLT

Camelot was the famous, yet fictional kingdom of King Arthur and his court. It has come to symbolize hope for the future and an idyllic setting in which the just and kind king rules over his subjects. And in many ways, David’s reign has been cast in that light. If we are not careful, we can end up putting David on a pedestal and painting him as this perfect king who reigned wisely and flawlessly over the people of Israel. But there’s only one problem with that picture: the Bible. The Word of God gives us a graphic and sometimes shocking view of David and his life. And 2 Samuel gives us a glimpse of David that is both sad and disappointing. It reveals the character flaws of this man of God and shows us that even a man after God’s own heart can sometimes live his life in a way that is less-than-pleasing to God.

In this chapter, we read about events in the life of David and his family not long after the events of chapter 12 – where David had committed his sin with Bathsheba. If you recall, God had warned David that there would be consequences because of what he had done. Not only would he suffer personally, but so would his family.

“Why, then, have you despised the word of the LORD and done this horrible deed? For you have murdered Uriah and stolen his wife. From this time on, the sword will be a constant threat to your family, because you have despised me by taking Uriah’s wife to be your own. Because of what you have done, I, the LORD, will cause your own household to rebel against you. I will give your wives to another man, and he will go to bed with them in public view.” – 2 Samuel 12:9-11 NLT

In this chapter we have the sad story of Amnon, Absalom and Tamar. Amnon is David’s first-born son, born to David’s wife, Ahinoam. Absalom was David’s third-born son, born to his wife, Maacah. Tamar was Absalom’s sister. Recorded for us is a startling, black and white picture of lust, rape, and murder – all within David’s own household. Amnon lusted after his half-sister Tamar. In keeping with James 1, Amnon’s lust was not satisfied to remain lust. It craved to be fulfilled. “Temptation comes from the lure of our own evil desires. These evil desires lead to evil actions, and evil actions lead to death” (James 1:14-15 NLT). Amnon’s evil desires produced evil actions, which resulted in death – his own.

As bad as the rape or Tamar and the murder of Amnon were, the saddest part of this story is the inaction of David. Sure, he got angry over what Amnon did, but he did nothing about it. He took no action. The penalty for rape was death, but David did nothing to punish Amnon. So Absalom was forced to take matters into his own hands. To avenge the rape and degradation of his sister, he plotted and carried out the murder of Amnon. And once again, other than mourn the death of his son, David did nothing. Absalom fled and David did not pursue him. He allowed him to leave and did not seek to bring him back for punishment. Once again, the penalty for Absalom’s actions should have been death. But David allowed him to escape and three years would go by before David would see his son Absalom again. David missed Absalom, but did not seek him out, either for punishment or restoration. He did nothing.

David’s world had been rocked. He had lost the baby born to Bathsheba as a result of their affair. His daughter Tamar had lost her virginity at the hands of her lust-filled half-brother. Amnon had lost his life at the hands of his revenge-filled brother. And David had lost control over his family. Things were falling apart fast and were about to get even worse. Much of this was the fulfillment of God’s words against David for his disobedience and disregard for God’s law. But David complicated matters by refusing to act. While he scores high points as a military leader and king, David has a less-than-stellar track record as a father. Maybe he was too busy building a kingdom and fighting battles. Maybe he was spread too thin, with too many wives, too many kids, and too may responsibilities. Whatever the cause, David’s inaction would result in continued heartache for himself, and confusion for his kingdom. When David needed to be strong, he was weak. When he needed to lead, he remained silent. When his family needed him most, he was nowhere to be found. Can this be said of some of us as dad’s today? May God give us the strength to take our role as fathers seriously. May we lead our families with integrity and guide our homes with Spirit-filled wisdom. May inaction never be our only reaction.

Father, too often it is too easy to do nothing. When difficulties come into my family, I can either find myself with no reaction at all or overreacting – getting angry or sad, but not doing what really needs to be done. Give me the strength to be the father You have called me to be. Help me do what You have called me to do – to lead my family with integrity, wisdom, love, and strength.  Amen

Ken Miller
Grow Pastor & Minister to Men

Psalms 122

Thankful For Worship.

“I was glad when they said to me, ‘Let us go to the house of the LORD.'” ­– Psalms 122:1 NLT

Today is Thanksgiving Day. It is the day we set aside as Americans to express thanks. But who are we to express thanks to? What are we thankful for? As we stuff our faces and fill up the hours with football, family, and friends, what will this day really mean to most of us, but just another holiday from work, school, and the usual responsibilities of life?

This Psalm, while short, is a perfect reminder of what we as Christians should be truly thankful for. In it, David expresses his joy at being able to worship God in Jerusalem. He was ecstatic about being able to go to the house of the Lord, the temple in Jerusalem, and offer sacrifices to God – along with every other faithful Jew. David was thankful for Jerusalem, this small, compact city where God had chosen to make His dwelling place among men. It was in Jerusalem that the sacrificial system, critical to the worship of God and the forgiveness of the sins of the people, was practiced. This one city was significant in maintaining their relationship with God. Sacrifices could not be offered anywhere else. God could not be met with anywhere else. So it’s easy to see why David had such a love affair with Jerusalem. It was less about the city than it was about the God who chose to make Jerusalem his home.

So David prayed for Jerusalem. He had a vested interest in Jerusalem remaining free and unoccupied by enemy forces. He protected Jerusalem, because he did not want to think of a day when the worship of Yahweh would be eliminated due to war or the fall of the city of God. David said, “O Jerusalem, may there be peace within your walls and prosperity in your palaces. For the sake of my family and friends, I will say, ‘Peace be with you.’ For the sake of the house of the LORD our God, I will seek what is best for you, O Jerusalem” (Psalms 122:7-9 NLT).

Now we live in a time when the worship of God is not limited to a single place. It is not even limited to a house of God or a building dedicated to that sole purpose. We can worship God at any time, anywhere. We can seek forgiveness of sins moment by moment and don’t have to wait until a specific date on the calendar to get right with God. Yet, are we guilty of taking our places of worship for granted? Do we not share David’s enthusiasm for being able to worship God in communion with other saints. Has Sunday become more of a burden or just another thing to do on our busy calendars? Or is it a privilege and a blessing? Perhaps this Thanksgiving Day, we would be wise to express to God our gratitude for our church home. What an incredible privilege we have to be able to assemble together to worship God each weekend – without fear of persecution or reprisal. It is not that way all over the world. There are those who must worship in secrecy and silence. They fear for their lives. They have no church building or place of worship, other than a secluded spot somewhere in the woods at night. Their church is wherever two or more of them are gathered together.

We have many things to be grateful for this Thanksgiving. Is the place where we worship among them? Do we pray for our church? Do we ask God’s protection over it? Do we see it as a place where God meets with us and where those who don’t know Him can meet His Son? We must pray for churches all across the world. Not the buildings, but the people they represent. We must pray for the assemblies of believers all across this planet who meet together to worship God. Pray for their protection. Pray for peace. Pray that the presence of God would permeate their midst. And prayerfully thank God that He has chosen to meet with all of us – faithfully and mercifully – whenever and wherever we meet.

Father, thank You for the church where I get to worship You each week with other brothers and sisters in Christ. Thank You that I get to worship in peace and security, with no fear of government reprisal or attack. Thank You that I can meet with You there, each and every week. But thank You also that I can meet with You any time, anywhere. Because of what Christ accomplished on the cross, I can come into your presence 24/7, 365 days a year. May I never take that reality for granted. Amen

Ken Miller
Grow Pastor & Minister to Men

Psalms 86

What I Need.

“But you, O Lord, are a merciful and gracious God, slow to get angry, full of unfailing love and truth. Look down and have mercy on me. Give strength to your servant; yes, save me, for I am your servant.” ­– Psalms 86:15-16 NLT

This Psalm is titled, “A Prayer of David,” but it could just as easily have been titled, “A Prayer of Ken.” This prayer expresses my greatest need: For my God to hear my cry and answer me in His mercy and grace. David cries out, “Bend down, O LORD, and hear my prayer; answer me, for I need your help” (Psalms 86:1 NLT). He knew He was asking the God of the universe to lower Himself and interact with mere men, but he also knew that God would. He was counting on it. You see in this prayer David’s understanding of the transcendence of God and the sinfulness of men. God is holy, righteous, and just. Man is sinful, unrighteous and incapable of earning the favor of God. Even as king of Israel, David knew his position when compared with God. He knew he was asking the creator-God to condescend and enter into his world to save him from his problems. Which is exactly what Jesus did when He took on human flesh and entered into our world to save us from our sin.

David looked to God for salvation, protection, mercy, happiness, life, forgiveness, mercy, love, wisdom, and even vengeance against his enemies. In other words, he looked to God for everything. His God was not some disembodied entity that was impossible to see and even harder to find. His God was great, awesome, majestic, mighty, and other-worldly, but also nearby, intimate, caring, attentive, loving, involved, responsive, and quick to answer his prayers. David was blown away that this great God would involve Himself in the daily affairs of his life. He had seen it happen before. And he knew it would happen again. So to NOT call out to God in times of need would have been ludicrous to David. It would have been idiotic to attempt to solve his own problems when he had God Almighty available to call upon. David said, “I will call to you whenever trouble strikes, and you will answer me” (Psalms 86:11 NLT). What confidence. What faith. He knew his God. He had seen Him work. He knew he could trust Him. So he did. Why don’t we?

Father, maybe it’s because I don’t fully comprehend Your greatness that I don’t call out to You more. I don’t fully appreciate just how mighty, marvelous, and holy You are. I know it theoritically and academically, but I don’t know it experientially. I have not recognized Your greatness in my own life. I have read about it in the lives of others, but I have failed to experience it first-hand. So instead of calling out to You, I try to solve all my own problems. And the outcome is always the same. Father, I want to learn to trust You more. I want to learn to call out to You and no one else. I want to learn to lean on You. I want to be able to say, “I will call to You whenever trouble strikes, and You will answer me!” And believe it. Amen

Ken Miller
Grow Pastor & Minister to Men

Psalms 32; 51

What God Wants.

“You would not be pleased with sacrifices, or I would bring them. If I brought you a burnt offering, you would not accept it. 17 The sacrifice you want is a broken spirit. A broken and repentant heart, O God, you will not despise.” ­– Psalms 51:16-17 NLT

These two Psalms, written by David, have to do with the sins he committed during the whole Bathsheba affair. Not only had he committed adultery with Bathsheba, he tried to cover it up, then arranged to have her husband killed on the field of battle so that he could marry her. And it wasn’t until Nathan the prophet exposed David’s sin that he finally confessed it to God.

So these two Psalms reflect David’s heart after he had finally confessed and received God’s forgiveness. Keep in mind, both of these are songs, written to be sung by a choir. David is hanging out his dirty laundry for others to see. He is using his life experiences as a way to teach others of the grace, mercy, and forgiveness of God. These are not some trite worship songs with shallow lyrics and generic statements about God’s goodness. They are the brutally honest cries of a man who had blown it in a big way, but who knew that his God was a forgiving God. So he called out to Him. He pleaded with Him for forgiveness, cleansing, and restoration. David knew what he deserved, but He appealed to the grace and mercy of God.

It would appear that Psalm 51 was written first. Here David cries for grace. He knows that his sin has been against God and no one else. He has offended a holy God and so he cries out for God to wash him and purify him. David wants a clean heart and a restored relationship with his God. His sin has broken the fellowship he once he enjoyed. David also knows that without a broken spirit, a broken and repentant heart, all the sacrifices in the world will mean nothing. God is looking for David to express true repentance and brokenness over his sin, not just remorse or sadness that he had been caught.

In Psalm 32, which is the sequel to Psalm 51, David writes of the relief and blessing that comes with forgiveness. Without it, David experienced guilt, shame, and even physical sickness. But as soon as he confessed it, God forgave him. David had learned from his mistake, and he was willing to teach others the lessons he had learned. To refuse to confess and repent is simply stubbornness. To live with the guilt and sorrow is stupidity, when God offers forgiveness and restoration. David had learned his lesson the hard way, and he wanted everyone to benefit from his mistake. “Many sorrows come to the wicked, but unfailing love surrounds those who trust the LORD. So rejoice in the LORD and be glad, all you who obey him! Shout for joy, all you whose hearts are pure!” (Psalms 32:10-11 NLT).

God wants two things: For us to have broken and repentant hearts when we sin that lead us to confess, and the pleasure of extending His grace, mercy and forgiveness to us when we do. God knows we are going to sin. But He has provided a way for us to enjoy a restored relationship, through the sacrifice that Jesus made on the cross. Forgiveness of sin is ours. Our sins were paid for on the cross. But we must still confess them when we commit them. We must still take ownership for them. Then God extends to us the forgiveness that Jesus paid for with His blood. “But if we confess our sins to him, he is faithful and just to forgive us and to cleanse us from every wrong” (1 John 1:9 NLT).

Father, may I want what You want. To confess my sins when I commit them and the forgiveness that comes when I do. Help me to learn from David that there is no reason to hang on to my sin in stubbornness, attempting to hide from it or ignore it. All it does is cause guilt and shame. It separates me from You. It robs me of joy. I want to be pure. I want to be clean. Open my eyes to the sin in my life so that I might confess it and be forgiven for it. Amen

Ken Miller
Grow Pastor & Minister to Men

1 Chronicles 20

Living A Lie.

“Then David and his army returned to Jerusalem.” ­– 1 Chronicles 20:3 NLT

1 Chronicles 20 parallels 2 Samuel 11, where we are told the story of David’s sin with Bathsheba. Interestingly, both chapters start out the same way, “The following spring, the time of year when kings go to war…” But then they depart slightly. 2 Samuel goes on to say, “…David sent Joab and the Israelite army to destroy the Ammonites. In the process they laid siege to the city of Rabbah. But David stayed behind in Jerusalem.” The book of 1 Chronicles says, “…Joab led the Israelite army in successful attacks against the towns and villages of the Ammonites.” But in either case, David doesn’t go into battle, but stays back in Jerusalem. At a time when kings should be going to war, David is sending and staying, not going. He sends Joab to do his dirty business, while he stays behind in Jerusalem. This decision would lead to his sin with Bathsheba and, ultimately, his murder of her husband Uriah.

But in 1 Chronicles, the writer leaves out what happened while David was back in the capital and concentrates on the victory over the Ammonites. If you just read this chapter alone, and not in association with chapter 11 of 2 Samuel, you would be lead to believe that this is just business as usual. David was sending out his troops and then going to meet them when the battle is over – just what good kings do. But when you know what David was up to while Joab and his men are busy fighting for David and the kingdom, it takes on a whole new light. And when you read that “David and his army returned to Jerusalem,” it should kind of turn your stomach a little bit. Here is David, who has just committed adultery with Bathsheba, attempted to cover it up, and in desperation, had her husband killed by abandoning him in battle, leading his troops triumphantly back into town to the cheers of the people, as if he had been there all along. What hypocrisy!

What jumps out at me is how there is no mention of David doing anything in terms of fighting or doing battle with the enemy. Joab, Sibbecai, Elhannon, and Jonathan are all listed as men who led, fought and gained victory over the enemy. But David seems to take all the credit and more. “When David arrived at Rabbah, he removed the crown from the king’s head, and it was placed on David’s own head. The crown was made of gold and set with gems, and it weighed about seventy-five pounds. David took a vast amount of plunder from the city” (1 Chronicles, 20:2 NLT). When taken in conjunction with what we know from 2 Samuel 11, this paints an even grimmer picture of David. Not only has he committed adultery and murder, but he appears to be a glory hog. He wants to stay at home in the safety and luxury of his palace in Jerusalem, but bask in the glory of the victory that others have brought about. He wants to enjoy the benefits and blessings of victory without the risk.

I think this describes a lot of us as Christians. We want to enjoy the blessings of God without living lives of obedience. We want to stay in the safety and security of our everyday lives, and not step out into the world to do battle with the enemy. We want to enjoy the blessings of God, but refuse to obey Him in so many areas of our lives. We want ease and comfort when He has told us that this life will be a battle. We are at war. We live in a time of war. We have an enemy who is out to destroy us and the kingdom of God. But we want to live in peace and tranquility. But if any victories do take place, we want to somehow get credit for it. And victories ARE taking place, because God is faithful and there are those who are doing the will of God, risking their lives and doing battle with the enemy each and every day. The kingdom IS advancing, but are we playing our part? Or like David, do we simply show up in time to join in the victory parade? May we not be those who stay behind when there is a battle to be fought. May we take our role as soldiers of Christ seriously.

Father, there is work to be done, but too often we stay behind in the safety of our lifestyles, refusing to do what You have called us to do. We prefer our comfort over obedience. We don’t want to risk anything. But You have called us to be a part of Your kingdom. You have placed us in the midst of an epic battle. And You have given us the tools necessary to fight successfully. May we do our part. May we fight the good fight. In Your power and according to Your will. Amen

Ken Miller
Grow Pastor & Minister to Men

2 Samuel 11; 12

A Man After God’s Own Heart. Really?

“‘Well, tell Joab not to be discouraged,’ David said. ‘The sword devours this one today and that one tomorrow! Fight harder next time, and conquer the city!'” ­– 2 Samuel 11:25 NLT

Unbelievable! Wow! Incredible! I can’t believe what I’m reading! Is this really David – the same David that killed Goliath, trusted God all those years he was running from Saul, wrote a huge percentage of the Psalms, and was referred to by God as a man after His own heart? Really?

These are two of the most sobering chapters in the word of God. They offer one of the clearest representations of the depravity of man and the deceitfulness of the human heart. Here is David, the king of Israel, handpicked by God Himself, and we get a ring side seat to one of the most dramatic falls from grace in history. And with each turn, the story just seems to get worse. It all started out innocently enough. David, who should have been at the battle front with his men, had decided to stay back in the palace. You might say he was in the right place but at the wrong time. Rather than be with his troops, David had chosen to stay home. And while taking a leisurely walk on the roof of the palace one afternoon, he spied a woman taking a bath on a neighboring roof. And his initial look quickly turned to lust. His lust turned into inquisitiveness. He wanted to know who she was and so sent a servant to get the details. You would have thought that when he discovered that Bathsheba was the wife of one of his soldiers, who was off at war, he would have come to his senses, taken a cold shower, and ended the whole thing right there. But instead, David sent for Bathsheba, committed adultery with her, and then began an elaborate, if not inept, attempt to cover up the whole “affair”.

David’s lust turned into action and, ultimately, resulted in the death of Bathsheba’s husband. And David was responsible for it all. He had fallen far and hard. As the chosen king of Israel, he was not immune to temptation or sin. He had within him the whole time the capability of committing the most heinous of sins. In fact, I think David had an ongoing lust problem. He loved women. God had commanded that His kings not have multiple wives. “The king must not take many wives for himself, because they will lead him away from the LORD. And he must not accumulate vast amounts of wealth in silver and gold for himself” (Deuteronomy 17:17 NLT). David had at least eight wives and an assortment of concubines. You would think that this would have met David sexual demands, but it seems that he struggled with lust. When he saw Bathsheba, he had to have her. And he was willing to do anything to get her. Even if it meant having her husband killed.

What is really say is that David was trying to cover up his sin. It does not appear that he loved Bathsheba. He just did not want the truth out that Bathsheba’s unborn baby was his! So he tried to concoct a plan to make it look like Uriah was the real father. But David’s plan backfired at every step. He was left with only one option. Eliminate Uriah. At what point did this unbelievable and repulsive idea begin to sound viable to David? How could he bring himself to kill another man in order to cover up his own sin? And when he took Bathsheba as his wife after Uriah was killed, how could he live with himself? How could he stand to look at himself in the mirror? Somewhere along the way, David had learned to rationalize his behavior and excuse his conduct. After all, he was the Lord’s anointed.

It wasn’t until God sent Nathan the prophet to confront David that he finally confessed to his sin. Who knows how long David might have gone had not Nathan pointed out David’s hypocrisy as he shouted, “You are that man! The LORD, the God of Israel, says, ‘I anointed you king of Israel and saved you from the power of Saul. I gave you his house and his wives and the kingdoms of Israel and Judah. And if that had not been enough, I would have given you much, much more. Why, then, have you despised the word of the LORD and done this horrible deed? For you have murdered Uriah and stolen his wife.'” (2 Samuel 12:7-9 NLT). By doing what he did, David had shown contempt for the word of God. He had snubbed his nose at everything God had said regarding adultery and murder. He had taken all that God had given him and said, “It’s not enough!, I want more!” Anytime we sin, we are doing the same thing. We are telling God that what He has given us is not enough. We are telling Him that we know what is best for us. Even if His Word denies it, we will go ahead and grab it. We tell ourselves that we deserve it. We’ve earned it.

David ultimately confessed his sin, and the amazing thing is that God completely forgave Him. “‘I have sinned against the LORD.’ Nathan replied, ‘Yes, but the LORD has forgiven you, and you won’t die for this sin'” (2 Samuel 12:9 NLT). There would be consequences for David’s sin. He and Bathsheba would lose the child their affair had produced. David attempted to get God to spare the life of the child, but to no avail. And upon hearing that his child had died, David immediately turned to the Lord and worshiped. He returned to the one who offered him forgiveness in spite of his sin. He returned to the one who remained faithful in spite of David’s unfaithfulness. And God would go on to give David and Bathsheba another son – Solomon. God’s grace is indeed amazing. You see it all through this story. In the midst of our greatest failures, God extends grace, mercy, and forgiveness. David could do nothing to earn it or deserve. There was no way he could pay God back for what he had done. He had to rely fully on the forgiveness and faithfulness of God.

This story should give every one of us hope. We, like David, are fully capable of falling, but as God’s chosen ones, we can never fall from His grace. His grace never runs out. He knows our weaknesses. He knows our failings and faults. He offers forgiveness. And all He asks in return is that we return – to Him. That we come back in repentance and dependence on Him – for His grace, mercy, and forgiveness. David would go on to accomplish great things for God. God would do great things through David. His sin did not disqualify him. It simply revealed who he was and what he was capable of when he stepped away from the protective presence of God.

Father, what a story. What a reminder. What a wonderful, gracious, and forgiving God You are. Thank you for this timely reminder. Amen

Ken Miller
Grow Pastor & Minister to Men

Psalms 69; 70

Calling On God.

“But may all who search for you be filled with joy and gladness. May those who love your salvation repeatedly shout, ‘God is great!'” ­– Psalms 70:4 NLT

Who do you call on in times of need? When your world is caving in around you, where do you turn for help?

In our two Psalms today we hear the David calling out to God. He is going through a time of difficulty. These are essentially entries in his daily prayer journal, containing frank and honest declarations of just how he is feeling. He pulls no punches. He is painfully open about how he he feeling. And the amazing thing is, both of these are songs. They were intended to be sung. Why would David put these kinds of words to music? They make some country western songs sound downright upbeat! I think they are a reminder to us all that difficult days will come. We will face adversity in this life. Jesus even promised us that we would. So what do we do when the tough times come? We follow David’s example. We call out to God. We tell Him how we are feeling. We express our emotions, openly and honestly to the only one who can do anything about it.

Look at the words David uses. He asks for God to save him. He cries out to God to rescue him. He confesses his sin. He describes his circumstances in all their gory details. And things don’t appear to be changing. But he keeps calling out. “But I keep right on praying to you, LORD, hoping this is the time you will show me favor. In your unfailing love, O God, answer my prayer with your sure salvation” (Psalms 69:13 NLT). David doesn’t give up just because God doesn’t seem to show up. He keeps calling out because he knows that his only hope for salvation is his God. No one or nothing else can provide what he needs. Salvation and comfort will come only from the Lord. So he keeps crying out. “Answer my prayers, O LORD, for your unfailing love is wonderful. Turn and take care of me, for your mercy is so plentiful” (Psalms 69:16 NLT). And in spite of the seeming silence and delay of God, David is confident that He is going to act. He will rescue. “The humble will see their God at work and be glad. Let all who seek God’s help live in joy” (Psalms 69:32 NLT).

Do you have that kind of confidence in God? Do you cry out to Him when times are tough? Do you keep calling on Him even when it appears as if He is not hearing you or answering? David trusted in God. He was confident that even the delays were part of God’s sovereign plan for his life, so he was willing to wait. And when God answered, David was willing to give God all the praise. These two Psalms are songs of faith in God. They are honest reminders that life on this fallen planet can sometimes be hard. But our God is always faithful. Calling out to Him in times of difficulty is an expression of our faith. Trusting Him in the hard times is not easy. Trusting Him in the good times is. Our faith is best tested in the crucible of crisis. Do we trust Him? Then let us call out to Him. Let us turn to Him and no one else. If we believe He is our only hope, then we will call on Him religiously and relentlessly. Just as David did.

Father, I want to trust You more. I want my prayer life to reflect my faith in You. I want it to show that You truly are my only hope for salvation during times of difficulty. But I tend to reveal that I don’t really believe You will rescue me. I turn elsewhere. I try to solve my own problems far too often. Give me the faith of David. May I sing of Your salvation, even in the midst of the trials of life. Amen

Ken Miller
Grow Pastor & Minister to Men

Psalms 65; 66; 67

Bragging On God.

“Sing about the glory of his name! Tell the world how glorious he is. Say to God, ‘How awesome are your deeds!'” ­– Psalms 66:2-3 NLT

How great is your God? How much do you brag about Him? When was the last time you just had to tell someone else what God has done for you?

In these three Psalms, we have a virtual love-fest where the attributes and actions of God are shouted from the roof tops. Whether it’s His forgiveness, answers to prayers, creative power, abundant provision, past miracles, present protection, or attentive ear; there is much for the Psalmists to brag about when it comes to God. And he just can’t keep silent. He has to tell the world just how glorious and great his God is. His God has a history of greatness and goodness. His God is compassionate and caring. His God is powerful and yet, at the same time, merciful.

He sacrifices to God, not out of some sense of duty, but out of delight. After all God has done for him, it is the least he could do for God. And he gives God his very best. He wants anyone and everyone to know about the greatness of God. And he wants  to hear others talk about the greatness of God, too. “Say to God, ‘How awesome are your deeds!'” (Psalms 66:3 NLT). He is reminding everyone he knows, Israelite and non-Israelite, that God is responsible for the world in which they live, the blessings of nature they enjoy, any abundance they may experience, or any periods of peace they may benefit from. God is responsible for it all. And as His people, we also get to enjoy His forgiveness, mercy, and abundant grace. We of all people have a lot to shout about. But sometimes we remain silent, only speaking up to utter a complaint or an poorly aimed finger of accusation against God for what we believe to be His silence, undeserved punishment, or poor timing.

Maybe if we thought more about God’s awesome deeds, we would recognize them when they come. Maybe if we were more thankful for what He has done, we would be more grateful and expectant for what He is going to do. If our God is great, and He is, why don’t we brag about Him more? Why don’t we sing His praises, even outside the context of a worship service on a Sunday morning? May we say along with the Psalmist, “Come and listen, all you who fear God, and I will tell you what he did for me.” (Psalm 66:16 NLT).

Father, You are a great God and greatly to be praised. I apologize for the many times I have spent complaining instead of proclaiming  Your greatness and goodness. I have much to praise You for. Help me to see it, shout it, and give You glory for it. Amen

Ken Miller
Grow Pastor & Minister to Men