2 Samuel 24; Psalm 30

Recognition. Repentance. Responsibility.

“David’s conscience began to bother him. And he said to the LORD, ‘I have sinned greatly and shouldn’t have taken the census. Please forgive me, LORD, for doing this foolish thing.'” ­– 2 Samuel 24:10 NLT

This is a fascinating passage and one that is full of confusing and seemingly contradictory content. It starts out with God angry at Israel. We’re not tol why, but He is upset enough that He takes action against them and He chooses to use David as a tool to accomplish His will. We are told that God “incited Dvaid against them.” I don’t think this means that David suddenly got angry with Israel and set out to harm them. But David made a decision, in the divine pan of God, that would bring harm to Israel. Over in 1 Chronicles 21, the companion passage to this one, we are told that “Satan rose up against Israel and caused David to take a census of the Israelites” (1 Chronicles 21:1 NLT). So now it appears as if Satan is involved. But the word for Satan can also simply mean adversary. With that in mind, the New English Translation renders this verse “An adversary opposed Israel, inciting David to count how many warriors Israel had.” Whether Satan himself was involved or not, it would seem that David has tempted to take a census in order to find out just how many troops he had so that he could face a possible war with confidence. In essence, he was checking the balance on his checking account before making a significant purchase. So was this wrong? Was David sinning in taking a census? Even Jesus, in one of His parables, tells the story of a king who sat down and took stock of his troops before going to battle. “…what king, when he sets out to meet another king in battle, will not first sit down and consider whether he is strong enough with ten thousand men to encounter the one coming against him with twenty thousand?” (Luke 14:31 NASB).

So what is going on? God is angry with Israel. He determines to somehow use David to punish them. And David, in reaction to a possible threat of battle, finds himself tempted to take a census in order to determine just how many battle-ready soldiers he has. But consider this: David’s sin was not in taking the census. It was in failing to trust God. It’s obvious that David took the census to determine his military strength, and this was not necessarily sin. After all, we have other accounts in Scripture where God directed Moses to take a census of the people (cf. Exod. 30:11-12; Num. 1:1-2). So census taking was not the problem. It seems that David’s sin was placing confidence in the number of his soldiers rather than in the Lord. Now keep in mind, this is the same David who wrote the words, “Some nations boast of their armies and weapons, but we boast in the LORD our God” (Psalm 20:7 NLT). For whatever reason, at this point late in his reign, he finds himself doubting God and turning to an earthly source for his protection and confidence. God would use David’s decision to punish the people of Israel. David’s sin would have consequences on the entire nation.

The result is a plague sent from God that destroys 70,000 of the people. David is horrified and pleads to God. He recognizes his sin and takes responsibility for it. He repents. He even asks God to spare the people and pour out His wrath on him. “I am the one who has sinned and done wrong! But these people are innocent — what have they done? Let your anger fall against me and my family” (2 Samuel 24:17 NLT). God commands David to offer up a sacrifice as a payment for his sin. It required him to buy a piece of land where he could erect an altar to the Lord. When the land owner offers the land free of charge and all the animals to make the sacrifice at no cost, David refuses. “No, I insist on buying it, for I cannot present burnt offerings to the LORD my God that have cost me nothing” (2 Samuel 24:24 NLT). David knew that his sacrifice had to be just that – a sacrifice. It had to cost him something. For his sacrifice to have value, it had to be worth something. A sacrifice that costs nothing is no sacrifice at all.

In his commentary on this passage, Dr. Thomas L. Constable says, “Whenever someone whom God has chosen for special blessing sins he or she becomes the target of God’s discipline, and he or she also becomes a channel of judgment to others. Only repentance will turn the situation around. When David agreed to obey God’s will revealed through Gad, he began at once to become a source of blessing again.” This reveals a lot about David and shows why he was considered a man after God’s own heart. While other men would have become angry at God over His punishment of Israel or simply allowed the people to continue to die as long as his own family was safe, David took responsibility for his role in the whole affair. He knew he was responsible for the well-being of the people as their shepherd. He also knew he was responsible for their suffering. He owned up to his role in the situation. He repented and made restitution. He restored his relationship with God and God relented.

What’s fascinating is that God would use His punishment of Israel to bring them future blessing. The very land that David bought to erect his altar to God would become the site on which Solomon’s temple would be built. Dr. Constable goes on to say, “Solomon’s temple became the centerpiece of Israel for
hundreds of years. It was the place where God met with His people and they worshipped Him corporately, the center of their spiritual and national life. Therefore the mention of the purchase of Araunah’s threshing floor was the first step in the building of the temple, the source of incalculable blessing to come (Genesis 23:3-16).

Isn’t that the way God works? He is angry with Israel over some sin they have committed. He uses the pride and self-sufficiency of their king to bring punishment on them. That same man, whom God had chosen to begin with, recognizes his sin and repents. He obediently listens to God and buys a tract of land in order to sacrifice to God, and God uses that very same land to have His temple constructed. Just coincidence? I don’t think so. God had a plan all along and He was working it to perfection. He can even use our sins and disobedience to accomplish His divine will. He can bring blessing out of our rebellion.

Father, You are always working Your will. Nothing I do can get in the way. My sins don’t diminish it, distract from it, or derail it. You even bring blessing out of our rebellion. You can turn our sin into opportunities to shower us with Your grace and mercy. The key is repentance. Keep me repentant Father. Don’t let me become hard of heart and stubborn in my response to sin. May I quickly recognize it, take ownership for it, then repent of it. Amen

Ken Miller
Grow Pastor & Minister to Men

2 Samuel 22; 23

God: My Everything.

“The LORD is my rock, my fortress, and my savior; my God is my rock, in whom I find protection. He is my shield, the strength of my salvation, and my stronghold, my high tower, my savior, the one who saves me from violence.” ­– 2 Samuel 22:2-3 NLT

What does God mean to you? If you had to come up with a list of adjectives or nouns to describe your relationship with Him, what words would you use? How would you tell others about His involvement in your life? For many of us, what we know about God we have been told by others. We have been taught about His attributes in Sunday School or in Bible studies we have attended. But our first-hand experience with God is probably somewhat limited. We could probably say God is all-powerful, but could we give examples from our own lives to prove it? We could confidently state that God is omnipresent – or is everywhere all the time. But how come we feel like He is nowhere to be found at times? We could tell others about God’s faithfulness and love, but could we tell them specific ways in which He has shown us either one in the last week?

You see, God is a personal God and He wants to show Himself real in our personal lives. He doesn’t want our knowledge of Him to be limited to what we read in the Bible or what we hear from a sermon. God wants to involve Himself in our lives and does so every day. But sometimes we fail to recognize His activity in our lives. But David didn’t. And in 2 Samuel 22 we are given an up-close and personal glimpse of what David thought about God. His descriptions of God are far from academic. He didn’t get them out of a book. He isn’t just reciting doctrine. He is describing exactly what he has learned about God over the years as he has watched God work in his life.

…my rock

…my fortress

…my shield

…the strength of my salvation

…my stronghold

…my high tower

…my rescuer

…my deliverer

…my light

…my strong fortress

…my solid rock

…my helper

…the rock of my salvation

How did David learn these things? Through the experiences of life. It was through some of the most difficult times of life that he learned the most valuable lessons about who God really is. David had experienced the truth and reality of every one of these characteristics of God by going through the difficulties of life. He had read about them in God’s Word, but it wasn’t until he experienced them first-hand that they became real for him. God wants to show Himself strong in my life and in your life. He wants to prove to you and me His faithfulness, strength, and unfailing love. And He sometimes chooses the trials of life to reveal Himself. But we so often want to escape the trials of life. We want to avoid them. We don’t want the Red Sea experiences. We don’t want to face enemies that appear to be unbeatable or battles that seem unwinable. But those are the times that God’s strength are the most apparent. It is in our weakness that we get to see His strength. God wants our testimony about Him to be real. He wants what we have to say about Him to be from experience. He wants us to be able to say like David, “For this, O LORD, I will praise you among the nations; I will sing joyfully to your name” (2 Samuel 22:50 NLT).

Father, I want my description of You to be from my personal experience, not just what I read about in the Bible. I want to be able to describe You in ways that are real and reflect what I have seen You do in my life. Sometimes it’s just a matter of recognizing that You are already doing incredible things in my life, but I have failed to see them. Other times, I rob You of glory by trying to win all my own battles and solve all my own problems. I fail to experience Your power, because I am relying on my own. Like David, I want to be able to describe You in such a way that everyone knows You are my everything. Amen

Ken Miller
Grow Pastor & Minister to Men

2 Samuel 21

When Righteousness and Justice Reign.

“During the reign of David, there was a famine for three successive years; so David sought the face of the LORD.” ­– 2 Samuel 21:1a NLT

As we have seen, David was far from perfect. He made a lot of mistakes as a father and as a king. But the one thing that set David apart from Saul and the vast majority of the kings who would follow him, was his devotion to God. He truly was a man after God’s own heart. He cared for and was passionate about the things of God. He desired to do God’s will and obey His commands. When he failed to do so, he willingly accepted God’s rebuke and patiently sought His forgiveness. We see time and time again where David sought the face of the Lord. He wanted to rule according to the will of God. He wanted God to be the one to guide and direct His steps. And chapter 21 shows once again how David was able to rule righteously and justly. He sought God’s face. He turned to God for wisdom.

David found himself ruling during three years of extreme famine. The land was suffering and so were the people. So David sought God to find out the cause of this event, and God gives him the reason. It was because Saul had been unfaithful to Israel’s covenant with the Gibeonites. Saul had evidently refused to acknowledge Israel’s treaty with the Gibeonites (Joshua 9) and put some of them to death. As a result, God punished Israel with a famine (lack of fertility). When God informed David about the cause of the famine, he determined to right the wrong, according to the Mosaic Law. He made sure that justice was done. He asked the Gideonites what it was going to take to bring them satisfaction (propitiate) and remove (expiate) the famine from the land. But at the same time, David acted justly by keeping his promise to Mephibosheth, he son of Saul. He protected Mephibosheth and did not turn him over to the Gibeonites. David also removed the bodies of the seven men who were executed and gave them proper burials, along with Saul and Jonathan. In this whole affair, David acted righteously and justly. And because of David’s actions, God restored fertility to the land again.

David’s actions illustrated that he was a covenant-keeping, righteous-ruling king just like God. He did what was right, even if it meant correcting a wrong that someone else had committed. He willingly cleaned up the mess that Saul had made and restored God’s blessing on Israel in the process. This chapter gives us a glimpse of what it looks like to rule righteously and justly. And this can apply to a father in his home, a business owner at their office, a pastor over his flock, or a politician over his constituents. And it begins with seeking God’s face. David was able to do what was right and just because he had a right relationship with God. He knew the heart of God. He also knew the law of God. He was not at a loss as to what was going to be required to right his wrong. So he was able to respond quickly, appropriately, and justly.

Father, may we learn to rule and reign like David, regardless of the size or scope of our “kingdom.” May I learn to administer justice in my home in a godly way. May I learn to respond to the spiritual famines in my life by seeking Your face and doing Your will in order to see justice done. Give me a heart like David had. Amen

Ken Miller
Grow Pastor & Minister to Men

2 Samuel 19; 20

The Loving Rebuke of a Friend.

“Now go out there and congratulate the troops, for I swear by the LORD that if you don’t, not a single one of them will remain here tonight. Then you will be worse off than you have ever been.” ­– 2 Samuel 19:7 NLT

These two chapters read like a television soap opera. There are so many plots and sub-plots it’s difficult to follow what is even going on. There are stories of deception, jealousy, murder and betrayal. David is returning to Jerusalem after the death of his rebellious son, Absalom. But rather than rejoicing with his successful troops, David is in mourning. He is weeping over the loss of Absalom. And his response is having a negative impact on his troops. Instead of seeing their king celebrate their victory and his triumphal return to power, they are watching him mope about as if he had lost everything. Once again, David’s leadership skills and decision-making abilities come into question. And the only one who is willing to confront him about it is his good friend Joab.

Joab gets fed up with David’s behavior and boldly challenges him. He is willing to risk all in order to issue a wake-up call to David. His words are difficult, but are filled with love and truth. He is concerned for David and his kingdom. He knows that if David continues down the path he is going, he will lose the loyalty of his army and things will be worse off than when Absalom took over his throne. Sometimes the hardest people to confront are the ones who are in authority. We act as if we don’t have the right to tell them the truth and we fear possible reprisals. But Joab was willing to lose everything. He knew that this was a critical time in David’s reign. Things were unstable. David was not acting rationally. So Joab intervened and said what needed to be said – out of love. There comes a time in each of our lives when we have to be the bearer of truth to one we love. Joab loved David enough to tell him the truth. Just as Nathan loved David enough to confront him about his sin with Bathsheba.

Joab’s words were a wake-up call for David. They shook him out of his lethargy and caused him to take appropriate action. The people of Israel needed a bold, decisive leader at this juncture of their history. Things were volatile. The nation was a powder keg of emotion and the last thing they needed was an emotion-driven king who could not lead effectively. So Joab’s words were timely. His rebuke was lovingly appropriate. He said what needed to be said and risked everything to do it. Would we be willing to do the same thing for a friend?

Father, most of us fear confrontation. We run from it. And yet there are times when we need to step up and speak up. We need to be Joab to the Davids in our lives. We need to boldly confront out of love. Help us to recognize those occasions and to obediently listen to Your Spirit’s leading. May we listen to Your promptings and take the risk to say what needs to be said. Amen

Ken Miller
Grow Pastor & Minister to Men

2 Samuel 18

A Hollow Victory.

“O my son Absalom! My son, my son Absalom! If only I could have died instead of you! O Absalom, my son, my son.” ­– 2 Samuel 18:33 NLT

This chapter should strike a chord with any parent. Here we have David having to deal with a rebellious son who has turned on him and is now out to take over his throne and eliminate him altogether. What would it be like to go through that as a parent? Some of us might have had children who were rebellious or who have been out of control, but I doubt any of us have had sons who have tried to kill us. Can you imagine the mixed emotions David was feeling? On the one hand, this is a man who killed one of David’s sons in cold blood. He is also the man who attempted to turn the citizens of Jerusalem against David and then successfully took over his kingdom. He also raped all of David’s concubines he had left behind in the city when David had to flee. This son had made David’s life a living hell. He had caused untold pain and discomfort for David. And David knew the only thing that was going to resolve this conflict was a battle. Lives were going to be lost, possibly his own or the life of Absalom.

Then the inevitable happens. The troops of Absalom do battle with the troops of David and Absalom is killed by Joab, David’s friend and military commander. Can you imagine how David felt when he heard this news? It was a victory, but a hollow one. He had won, but at the expense of his own son’s life. While his troops were probably rejoicing, David reacted with mourning. He missed his son. He wished he had died instead. This was the natural reaction of a loving parent. David regretted that his sins had led to Absalom’s death. God had warned him that, as a result of his sin with Bathsheba, family conflict would a permanent part of his future. “From this time on, your family will live by the sword” (2 Samuel 12:10 NLT). “Because of what you have done, I will cause your own household to rebel against you” (2 Samuel 12:11 NLT). David knew that he was ultimately responsible for Absalom’s death. He had failed to deal with Amnon’s rape of Tamar, forcing Absalom to take matters into his own hands and murder Amnon to avenge his sister. David also failed to deal with Absalom’s actions, allowing him to run away instead. Every step of the way, David failed to do his job as a father and the king. Now he was reaping the sad results.

David’s conflict was over. But at a steep price. He had won the battle and lost a son. So he did what any parent would do. He mourned. Perhaps this is the same way God feels every time one of the sons or daughters He has created rebels against Him and refused to accept His free gift of grace. Absalom’s rebellion against David could not go unpunished. Man’s rebellion against God cannot go unpunished either. But God sent His own son to pay the price for our rebellion. Jesus died on a cross as a payment for our sin and rebellion. But unless we accept that free gift, we remain guilty and unforgiven. We stand to be punished for our sin and that punishment is death – resulting in permanent separation from God. David would never see Absalom again. And while there is a certain joy in victory over a rebellious enemy, David would have preferred restoration and redemption. So would God.

Father, You don’t rejoice over having to punish men for their sins. You see them as sons. You long to see their rebellion repented of and their hearts returned to You. You have even provided a way for them to return and receive forgiveness for their sin and rebellion. Yet so many continue to reject You and Your generous offer. Thank You for Your love that continues to reach out to those who have turned against You and long to remove You from the throne of their lives and put themselves there instead. Amen

Ken Miller
Grow Pastor & Minister to Men

2 Samuel 16; 17

When We Last Left David…

“Then Absalom and all the leaders of Israel said, ‘Hushai’s advice is better than Ahithophel’s.’ For the LORD had arranged to defeat the counsel of Ahithophel, which really was the better plan, so that he could bring disaster upon Absalom!'” ­– 2 Samuel 17:14 NLT

When we last left David, he was on his way out of Jerusalem with his tail between his legs. He was a defeated man. His son had taken over his kingdom and he had fled. But as the Psalms we read reflect, David was still trusting in God. Even when confronted by an angry relative of Saul as he left Jerusalem, David didn’t lash out – despite the fact that this guy was hurling abuse and stones in David’s direction. “David said to Abishai and the other officers, ‘My own son is trying to kill me. Shouldn’t this relative of Saul have even more reason to do so? Leave him alone and let him curse, for the LORD has told him to do it. And perhaps the LORD will see that I am being wronged and will bless me because of these curses.'” (2 Samuel 16:11-12 NLT). David had full confidence that God was intimately involved in every detail of what was going on. God had told him this would happen because of his affair with Bathsheba. So David was content to take his problem to God and watch to see what He would do.

As we read these two chapters, it is important to look for the hand of God. He is working behind the scenes – ensuring that His will is done. He uses the presence of Hushai, David’s confidant, to foil the advice of Ahithophel. He protected the lives of the two spies who were bringing news to David. He convinced Absalom and his men to accept Hushai’s plan even though Ahithophel’s was better. This was all the work of God. “For the LORD had arranged to defeat the counsel of Ahithophel, which really was the better plan, so that he could bring disaster upon Absalom!” (2 Samuel 17:14 NLT). Absalom had a huge army, he had the city of Jerusalem, and he had the throne of his father David. But what he didn’t have was God. He was on his own. As long as David had God on his side, this was going to be a lopsided affair. It was Paul who said, “If God is for us, who can be against us?” (Romans 8:31 NIV). Do we believe that? If we have God on our side, do we believe that there is nothing or no one too great for us to endure? David did. This didn’t mean he didn’t have fears and doubts. Just read his Psalms. But he took them to God. He shared his feelings with the only one who could do anything about it – God. He was going to trust God with his life and his circumstances. Will we?

Father, I can get so focused on the circumstances of life, that I lose sight of You. I start to doubt Your presence and power. I start to try to solve my own problems. But David kept calling out to You. He gave You his fears. He turned to You when he was scared. He wanted to see You work in his life. May I develop that habit of searching for and seeing You in the daily affairs of my life. You are ALWAYS at work behind the scenes, even though I may not see it at first. Help me to trust You more. 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

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

2 Samuel 10

God’s Will and Our Willingness.

“Be courageous! Let us fight bravely to save our people and the cities of our God. May the LORD’s will be done.” ­– 2 Samuel 10:12 NLT

David was a king, and kings sometimes have to fight the enemy. It’s not all royal dinner parties and leisurely days spent relaxing in the palace. David’s reign was regularly threatened and his kingdom was always under attack by the enemies of Israel. Even though God was with him, David was still expected to do his part. God didn’t fight his battles for him. God gave him wisdom, direction, and even intervened in miraculous ways, but David still had to pick up his sword, lead his army, and take on the enemy in battle. Notice the words that Joab spoke to his brother Abishai: “Be courageous! Let us fight bravely to save our people and the cities of our God.” As one of David’s military commanders, Joab knew that they were going to have to take on the Ammonites and all the mercenary armies they had hired to fight against Israel. He was calling his brother and all those under his command to fight bravely, to do their part. But then he reminded Abishai that the results were up to God. They would do what they could do and trust God to do what was in His will to do.

Waiting for God’s will doesn’t mean we sit on our hands and do nothing. Remember, this whole situation in 2 Samuel 10 began with David attempting to show sympathy to the new king of the Ammonites over the death of his father, the former king. David wants to extend an olive branch in recognition of the late King Nahash and his former loyalty to David. But the king’s son listens to the advice of his counselors and rejects David’s kind offer. He embarrasses David’s emissaries and hires thousands of mercenaries to fight against David. David is forced to respond. So he gathers his troops and prepares for war. But he and his military leaders recognize that the results of this conflict are ultimately up to God. They will do what they have to do, but the outcome is up to God. The well-being of Israel and her inhabitants is being threatened by this upstart king, so David responds with action. It is his job to protect the people of Israel. He has a job to do. He is not being rash or hasty. He is only responding to the actions of the enemies of Israel. He is going to do his part and trust God to do His.

Isn’t that what we are all called to do? Yet oftentimes we are lulled into a sense of complacency and inaction, thinking that waiting on God’s will means doing nothing. David was simply doing his job as king. He was performing the task that God had given him to do. And you and I have responsibilities given to us by God. We are His ambassadors and representatives on this earth. We are to make disciples. We are to carry on the ministry of reconciliation. We are to stand against the enemy and to fight the good fight. We are to spread the gospel and live as salt and light in this world. We are to love others. We are to take up our crosses daily. We have work to do, and we must do it diligently, trusting that ultimately, God’s will will be done. We are to do our part and leave the results up to Him. Like Joab, we are to fight bravely in order to save our people. We are to fight for the body of Christ all around the world. We are to do all that we can do to care for the people of God who are under attack. That is our job. That is our responsibility. That is our duty. So we must do our part and leave the results up to God. We must be willing to do what we have been called to do, and trust that the will of God will be done.

Father, we ask that Your will be done here on earth. But don’t allow us to sit on our hands waiting for You to do it all. You have chosen us, empowered us, equipped us, and commissioned us to do great things here on earth. May we be busy doing what You have called us to do, and trusting in the reliability and accuracy of Your will to be done. May we see ourselves as partners with You as we live out our lives on this planet. Give us courage to do our part, because we know You are going to do Yours. Amen

Ken Miller
Grow Pastor & Minister to Men