2 Samuel 1 – Are We Talking About the Same Person?

I’ve been to funerals where they were eulogizing the “dearly departed” and thought to myself, “Are we talking about the same person?!” Now I know it would be in poor taste to bad mouth the deceased…even if they were a mean and difficult person in life. But sometimes the things that are said about a person at their funeral barely resemble who the person was in real life. When this happens, you can’t help but wonder, “Are we talking about the same person?”

I feel like this when I read 2 Samuel chapter one. Saul was a man who was egotistical, prideful, paranoid, and homicidal. Yet to hear David’s funeral song, Saul sounds like a cross between Billy Graham and Dudley Do-Right. Saul was a man who repaid David’s bravery and loyalty by incessantly hunting him down to kill him. Still, David sings his praises and morns him as he would his own father. Why?!

Perhaps it was because David saw the bigger picture…the broader plot. David was able to see beyond the injustices that were done to him. He was able to take the wrongs of Saul’s life and see them through a spiritual lens. David related to Saul as God would relate to Saul…with grace, compassion, and mercy.

We need to remember that we only have a small and narrow picture of the person before us. Consequently, we should respond to everyone with the same grace, compassion, and mercy that we ourselves receive from God. Otherwise, these people may attend OUR funeral and think, “Are we talking about the same person?!”

1 Samuel 11-12 – Balancing Mercy and Discipline

As a child, our logic is very simple. If we do something bad, something bad will happen to us. Likewise, if we do something good, something good will happen to us. If we displease our parents, they will withdraw their help and benefits. But, if we please our parents, they will help us.

And as adults, we often take that same child-like logic and apply it to our relationship with God.

Yet any parent knows that relating to your children is not that black and white. Sometimes, love will prompt mercy, while at other times, love will prompt punishment.  What occurs between parent and child is not a cut-and-dried behavioral bartering system, but rather a delicate dance between mercy and discipline.

This is the complex interaction you see in 1 Samuel chapters 11 and 12. In chapter 11, God intervenes to rescue His people, despite their rejection of Him. And the people misread their victory as a sign of God’s approval, rather than His mercy.

In chapter 12, the people brace themselves for God’s punishment, because they’ve gone against Him in asking for a king. Yet, out of His love for them, and His desire to uphold His reputation to the world, God promises not to abandon them.

Why can’t it just be cut-and-dried? Why can’t the people stick with the rules and why can’t God be consistent in His discipline?

Because, it’s not about rules. It’s about relationship. God loves His people. Sometimes He directs with mercy, and sometimes He directs with consequences. God will do whatever has the most impact on His people, in order to draw them back into a love relationship with Himself. He patently and persistently keeps turning the dial to the combination that will open our hearts to Him.

1 Samuel 9 – The Master Chess Player

I’m not very good at chess. I can’t think like a chess player. Really good chess players think many moves ahead, as if they already know what’s going to happen.

God is a really good chess player.

When you look at 1 Samuel chapter 9, you will find one “coincidence” after another…pointing to God’s sovereignty and intricate timing. For example…Saul, looking for some donkeys that had run away, “just happens upon” Samuel. For this to happen…

  • The donkeys had to wander off at the right time.
  • The servant had to think of consulting Samuel just when they were close to the town Samuel was in.
  • Saul had to encounter the women who knew where Samuel was.
  • Saul and the the servant had to catch Samuel before the feast began.
  • Etc.

You can’t read 1 Samuel chapter 9 without seeing God’s complete control and sovereignty. That, in itself, is amazing. But even more amazing is the fact that God’s complete sovereignty and control is used in accordance with God’s great love and mercy. (1 Sam. 9:16)

After being rejected time and time again by His children, God could have used His sovereignty to punish them. But instead, He continues to orchestrate every little detail, so that He might continue showing mercy and grace.

When it comes to chess, God is the Master chess player. He sees many moves ahead of us. So look at your circumstances and situations. They may not be what you want (as when the donkeys ran away), and they may not be what God wants (as when Israel rejected Him and wanted a king.) But God is still in complete control and He’s moving all the pieces around the board to give you the greatest shot at being who He wants you to be.

Deuteronomy 19 – Justice

Justice is a key component for any civilization that hopes to survive and thrive. It’s desired by those who have been wronged and dreaded by those who have wronged others.

God is a God of Justice. We don’t like to think of Him in this way, but his heart of love requires that the innocent be protected and the guilty be punished. In Deuteronomy chapter 19, God spends the first half of the chapter dealing with protecting the innocent and the second half of the chapter dealing with punishing the guilty.

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Deuteronomy 15 – Share What You’ve Been Given

You can see it in a small child protectively clutching a toy. You can hear it in their voice when they punctuate the word “mine!” Since the Garden of Eden, our natural tendency has been to keep, rather than give.

But God’s people are to be characterized as givers. We are to demonstrate the character of the One who has so graciously given everything to set us free and continues to generously give everything we need for life and godliness. (2 Peter 1:3) He reached down when we were in need, leaving us an example to follow.

In Deuteronomy chapter 15, God institutes the year of Jubilee or the year of release. It’s God’s way of reminding His people who they are and where they’ve come from. Deuteronomy 15:4 teaches us that as God’s children, our hearts and resources should go out to the poor and the debtor. Just as God freed us and blessed us, we too are to free and bless others. And as we generously share what God has given us, God will bless us even more.

This applies spiritually as well as materially. We are to give the forgiveness we’ve been given. We are to give the love we’ve been given. And we are to give the mercy we’ve been given. As God’s children, we are to give release and relief, both spiritually and materially.

Have you experienced release and relief from God? If so, how do you need to share that? Whom do you need to forgive? How do you need to bless someone? Find a way to start today!

Numbers 12 – I Want to Be More Like Moses

I want to be like Moses. It’s not that I want to walk around with a big stick and a glowing face, calling down plagues and parting large bodies of water. It’s not even that I want to be some big-time leader over a large group of people.

In Numbers chapter 12,  Moses demonstrates three qualities that I need more of…

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