1 Chronicles 14 – Telling Stories

Some storytellers are not good at telling a story. Maybe they ramble or get sidetracked easily. Or maybe they put in too many details and give too much backstory. Whatever it is, when they’re done telling the story the listener wonders, “What was the point? Why are they telling me this story?”

Then, there are other storytellers who make the point crystal clear. They are concise and they use just the right amount of detail. Consequently, the point of the story hits you like a freight train.

1 Chronicles chapter 14 fits the latter description. It’s a short and concise chapter, but after you’ve read it you have no doubt about the point the storyteller is making.

And what is the point of 1 Chronicles chapter 14? Simply that David’s success was fostered by three key actions: acknowledging God, asking God, and aligning with God.

David consistently acknowledged that God (not David) had made him king, won the battles, and caused all the nations to fear him. (1 Chron. 14:2,11,17.) And David consistently asked God for direction before making a major move or decision. (1 Chron. 14:10,14) And finally, not only did David ask God for direction, he aligned himself with God by following those directions.

Could it be that the story of our life seems confusing and pointless because we’re not acknowledging God, asking for His direction, and aligning ourselves with Him? Incorporating these three actions into your life will help you live out a clear and powerful story for others to read.

1 Chronicles 12 – How to be Influential

Ever know someone who naturally attracted a following? The kind of person others just want to be around. Maybe they’re inviting, or commanding, or confident, or assuring. But whatever it is, they draw people like a magnet.

This was David. In 1 Chronicles chapter 12 we learn of some of the people who were drawn to David. These people were not nobodies. They were mighty warriors, renown for who they were and what they could do.

  • They were excellent marksmen with both their right and their left hand. (1 Chron. 12:2)
  • They were experts in both offense (spear) and defense (shield.) (1 Chron. 12:8)
  • They were fierce and quick. (1 Chron. 12:8)
  • They were powerful in that the weakest of them could take on 100 troops. (1 Chron. 12:14)

And more of these competent and qualified people were drawn to David daily.

Why?

A look at David’s life gives us some clues.

But most importantly, David was passionately focused on God. He wanted to serve God and submit to God’s desire. (1 Samuel 17:26,37,45-47) (1 Chron. 12:17) This quality made David both successful (1 Chron. 11:9) and magnetic. (1 Chron. 12:22, 38-40)

Most of us would like to be influential, but are we willing to passionately focus on God? If you want to be influential, start there.

1 Chronicles 11 – How to Determine the Course of Your Life

It’s interesting to me that two people can come from the same family, or have the same opportunities and advantages, and still turn out so differently. Two people can have the same starting point and the same paths before them, yet they wind up in two very different places.

Such is the case with Saul and David. In 1 Chronicles chapter 10, you read the very sad story of King Saul. He was picked from obscurity, placed in the position of king, and told by God that he would prosper if he was obedient. Yet Saul’s story ends with Saul’s sons being killed, Saul committing suicide, and his body being dismembered and mockingly put on display.

Then, in 1 chronicles chapter 11, you pick up the story of David. He’s another man who was picked from obscurity, placed in the position of king, and told by God that he would prosper if he was obedient. Unlike Saul, David prospers, seizes his opportunities, and reaches his potential.

What did David have that Saul didn’t? David had God’s sovereignty behind him (1 Chron. 11:2), but so did Saul. (1 Sam. 12:14) David had the people’s and soldiers’ loyalty (1 Chron. 11:1-3,10-15), but so did Saul. (1 Chron. 10:11-12)

So what was the difference between these two men?

The difference is that David had integrity. (1 Chron. 11:18-19) David’s integrity was demonstrated in his humility before God and others, as well as his service to God and others. This integrity, humility, and service endeared him to his men (1 Chron. 11:10-25) and his God. (Acts 13:22) This is what differentiated David from Saul. In the end, Saul did not have integrity, humility, or service.

Is your life characterized by integrity, humility, and service? Your answer to this question could very well determine the course of your life!

1 Chronicles 3-4 – A Glimmer of Hope

Watching the news, with all its stories of tragedy and corruption, can challenge your optimism.

But once in a while, you get a tidbit of good news breaking through the negative drone. A human interest story that catches your attention and gives you hope in the midst of all the negative.

This occurs in 1 Chronicles chapters 3-4. 1 Chronicles chapter 3 begins by listing the sons King David had by his many wives and concubines. There, you find the son of a woman with whom David committed adultery…later murdering her husband and lying about it. Also included in the list is the son of the daughter of a foreign king. This son would later rebel against his father David.

Then, 1 Chronicles chapter 4 outlines the greedy and murderous accumulation of land, property, and towns by the descendants of Simeon.

But, in the midst of this darkness, there’s a two-verse ray of hope about a man named Jabez. (1 Chron. 4:9-10) Out of distress and pain, he grew to become one of the most distinguished men of his time. He lived a life of blessing and accumulation, all because of his loyalty and dependence on the God of Israel. This little human interest story catches our attention and gives us hope that we too can be something different in the midst of droning bad news.

But be careful. It’s easy to corrupt this story and turn its focus from one of total dependence on God to one of finding the formula to get more stuff. The first approach will improve the bad news, while the second will just add to it.

2 Samuel 24 – Righting Your Wrongs

Have you ever done something you knew was not right? Maybe others even told you it wasn’t wise, but you did it anyway. Then afterwards, things began to unravel. Your conscience began to trouble you. Your situation got worse. And you began to realize you needed to right your wrong.

Oddly enough, God ends the book of 2 Samuel with just such a situation. In 2 Samuel chapter 24, Israel has sinned and David falls to temptation, taking an unnecessary and uncalled for census. (1 Chronicles 21:1) Perhaps David’s act of taking a census was an act of pride and arrogance, but afterwards David knows he has done wrong. God, being just, brings judgement on the sin of David and Israel…graciously allowing David some say in the judgement.

Then, in mercy, God relents. He tells David to offer a sacrifice at the very place where David experienced mercy.  Though the owner of the land, the oxen, and the wood needed for the sacrifice offers it all to David for free, David insists on buying them instead…knowing that by its very nature and definition, a sacrifice must cost us something.

Why would God put such an account at the end of 2 Samuel? Why would He conclude the story of David in such a way? Perhaps its a reminder to us that no matter how much God blesses us, we should never get “too big for our britches.” Perhaps its a reminder to listen to wise counsel, no matter how successful we’ve become. (Proverbs 13:10) (Proverbs 21:11) (Proverbs 11:14) And perhaps it’s a reminder that God will not ignore sin…no matter who you are. (Numbers 32:23)

We must not forget that how our story ends will depend on whether we heed these same reminders and remain humble before the Lord.

2 Samuel 22 – Thinking About God’s Goodness

As I was out walking one morning, I was struck by how pleasant the morning was. It was a little cool, a little breezy, and just right. And so, I started thinking about how good I really have it. I thought about how much God has blessed me and how far He has brought me. His goodness came flooding in on me.

That’s what’s happening with David in 2 Samuel chapter 22. At a time when things are good, David thinks back on all that God has done for him. He thinks about the places to which God has brought him and he’s flooded with the realization of how good God has been to him. David is so overwhelmed by all that God has done for him that he sings and compares it to Moses’ Red Sea crossing.

When’s the last time you found yourself thinking about God’s goodness. How long has it been since you have rehearsed God’s leading, rescues, provision, and protection?

Things might not be all that good for you right now, but it’s funny how rehearsing God’s past goodness to you can change your perspective on your present situation.

Try it. I dare you!

2 Samuel 19 – Become a Kinder and Gentler You

There are some things in life that can change a person.

  • Going through a war.
  • Having a stroke.
  • Being victimized.
  • Going through a divorce.

Things like these can impact a person to the point of changing how they see and react to people and life.

In 2 Samuel chapter 19, you see a changed David. There, rather than exercising military might, David offers kindness and mercy to those who had rebelled against him.

What was it that prompted this kinder, gentler David? Perhaps he felt he had brought on their rebellion because of his actions with Bathsheba. (2 Samuel 12:11-12)

But perhaps David was keenly aware of the undeserved mercy he had received from God, and it prompted him to be more merciful to those who had wronged him and were undeserving of mercy.

We’re told that of those who are given much, much is required. (Luke 12:48) We’re also told that those who have been forgiven much should love much. (Luke 7:36-47) David knew how much God had forgiven him. He also knew how much mercy God had shown him. This awareness led him to be more merciful and forgiving to those who had rebelled against him.

When’s the last time you stopped to think about how much God has forgiven you, or how much mercy He has shown you?

If you make a habit of remembering God’s mercy and forgiveness toward you, it will change how you respond to others; especially those who have wronged you.

2 Samuel 17-18 – Expect the Unexpected Lessons

Ever notice how some of our greatest lessons come to us in ways we didn’t expect? Simple, common-place events can suddenly yield unexpected gems of understanding and insight. Like when your child casually says or does something and suddenly you see things more clearly.

2 Samuel chapters 17 and 18 contain the story of battle plans and battles. Yet, in these narratives, you suddenly get a glimpse into the character and the heart of God Himself.

In these chapters, you see the providence and involvement of God in the plans of men. You get a picture of the loyalty that God exercises toward us. And you actually hear God’s heart of self-sacrificing love for His children. (2 Sam. 18:33) And the fact that these glimpses of God arise out of battle stories is yet another unexpected lesson.

In the midst of our battles, we need to remember that:

  • God is sovereign and providential over our circumstances.
  • He is loyal to us, even when others are not.
  • God loves us with a love that readily and freely lays down His life for ours.

We see these three characteristics displayed powerfully on the cross. On the cross, God demonstrated His providence, loyalty, and love by taking our place and dying on the cross in the person of Jesus. God did what David couldn’t do. He died for us. He died in the place of His rebellious children.

This is a lesson that will surface, not only in 2 Samuel chapters 17 and 18, but everywhere we turn…if we will have the eyes to see it.

2 Samuel 15-16 – It’s Not Fair!

“It’s not fair!” “They can’t do that!” “It’s not right!”

We used these words as children when we thought we were being wronged, or when we thought someone what getting away with something they shouldn’t.

But I feel this way when I read 2 Samuel chapters 15 and 16. There, David’s son Absalom shows a deep and unwarranted contempt for David. He steals David’s people from him and eventually steals most of his kingdom from him. Many of David’s trusted friends and advisors turn and side with Absalom. And on top of that, Absalom thumbs his nose at David by sleeping with David’s concubines/wives. It’s not fair!

Then, instead of fighting back, David leaves town. David allows Shimei to throw rocks at him and curse him…not just once, but all along the trail. And David prevents his guards from punishing Shimei. David just rolls over and takes it. It’s not fair!

And where is God in all of this?! Why doesn’t God step in and correct these wrongs? Is God on Absolom’s side? Is He continuing to punish David for his sins with Bathsheba? Does God not care about injustice? It’s not fair!

But, there’s something we need to learn from David in all of this. We need to learn to trust God’s sovereignty and plan at all times…even when it looks and feels unfair. David reminds us:

  • It’s all in God’s hands.
  • If God hasn’t changed the situation, it’s for a reason.
  • We don’t know what God will work out in the end.

It’s simple to say, “Trust God.” But it’s hard to do; especially when what’s happening is not fair. But, as followers of God, we must keep telling ourselves, “It’s not about fairness. It’s about reliance!”

2 Samuel 14 – A Heart for Reconciliation

Ever have two people you cared about become estranged from one another? It’s awkward and heartbreaking. You care about both of them, but the tension between them is stifling. You end up spending a lot of time trying to figure out how to get the two of them back together.

This is the atmosphere of 2 Samuel chapter 14. Joab (King David’s general) longs to see David and his son Absalom reconciled. It hurts him to see the divide between them…especially knowing how much it hurt the heart of the king.

And so Joab goes to great lengths (and some personal risk) to help King David see the issue from a different angle and hopefully soften his heart toward Absalom. And Joab doesn’t give up. First, he gets the two of them to move closer by getting David to agree to allow Absalom to move back to Jerusalem. Then, after some prodding, Joab gets David to agree to see Absalom, bringing them together face to face.

Joab had the desire and the perseverance to see the king reconciled to his son because he knew that this was really the king’s desire. And Joab risked his personal and professional standing for the sake of that reconciliation.

Joab personifies who and how we’re supposed to be. Knowing that our king longs to be reconciled with His children, we should invest ourselves to the point of risk in order to facilitate such reconciliation between our King and those who are estranged from Him. (2 Cor. 5:18-21)