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“40 Days and 40 Nights of God’s Word”
DAY 11: AUGUST 2
1 SAMUEL 20 – 2 SAMUEL 17:29
I’ve spoken before in these reflections about the richness of some of the readings, but for fans of David, today’s reading is a three-tiered wedding cake smothered in whip cream, maraschino cherries, and chocolate sauce. We see David progress from a naive young man into a shrewd and fearless warrior, and finally into king over Judah and the rest of Israel. We also learn that his family – the house of David – will be an Eternal House that will reign forever.
And then we find out that, despite everything he is and everything he’s accomplished and everything he’s promised by God, David is still a man with a man’s desires and weaknesses, and we see how giving into these desires changes the trajectory of the rest of his life.
- As you probably know, I’m a big fan of David. Huge fan. It’s not just the simplicity and unwaveringness of his faith that I find admirable and inspiring; it’s the way he moved through the world. He was handsome, athletic, artistic, and a fierce warrior, but none of this went to his head. There was no pride in him. Instead, he gave God the praise for everything he was and everything he accomplished, and he honored whatever was honorable to God, seeing life through God’s eyes rather than through the world’s eyes. This often meant going against popular opinion or what seemed right to the people around him. There’s a lot of David in Jesus and Jesus in David, which shouldn’t be surprising, given that God’s Spirit was with both of them, and that Jesus is a direct descendant of David on his father’s side.
- Even as a child, David had such profound faith that he thought nothing of attacking ferocious beasts, knowing he would defeat them because God was fighting for him. He knew God would fight all the battles appointed him. And so David from a young age got into the habit of (nearly) always asking God how he should proceed. He didn’t brainstorm a plan and then ask God to bless it; he went to God first for direction and then did whatever God told him to do. This childlike certainty of knowing God was always with him, guiding him and fighting his battles, followed David throughout his life. For him, faith wasn’t something that was external, to be used only on certain occasions; faith was as much a part of him as breathing.
- That’s not to say that David didn’t have his problems. In fact, his life was one long test – battle after battle, betrayal after betrayal, victory after victory, and at the end, heartache after heartache. Through it all, David remained true to himself and to God. The sole exception – his affair with Bathsheba and the murder-by-proxy of her husband Uriah – David later repented of while accepting his due punishment. Ultimately, God turned the sin around and David and Bathsheba’s second son, conceived on the day of the death of their first, grew to take his father’s place on the throne and build the first temple, as we’ll read tomorrow.
A few things in particular jumped out at me during the reading:
- Lots of lies and deception going on, both with and without God’s blessings. David pretending to be insane was one of most striking. Feigned insanity can get you out of many a tight spot. No-one wants to deal with crazy. I speak from personal experience. ;D
- David taking and using Goliath’s spear that had been kept by the priests as a holy relic is poetic justice in action. I love how God puts all the pieces together! He set aside Goliath’s spear for just such a time and place as David needing it. In the same way, he provided the altar bread for David and his men when they had no other means of getting food. When you get into the God groove, all the pieces fall into place.
- David’s first army was made up of malcontents from his father’s house – that is, men who had debts or grievances against Saul and so had nothing to lose in joining David. Note that he didn’t take the biggest, strongest and most well-trained warriors; he took those whose sole qualification was that they supported David. Based on this, God gave them the victory time after time.
- David’s loyalty to Saul after everything Saul did to him puzzled even David’s closest companions. Saul himself was flabbergasted by how David continued to honor him. However, for David, it was self-evident that God’s anointed king should be treated with respect and reverence. David continued to honor Saul and Jonathan after their deaths by looking after Jonathan’s lame son and his family.
- David mourning his son (Bathsheba’s) while the son was still alive, and then stopping the mourning as soon as he heard of his son’s death was a real head-scratcher for those in David’s household. But David knew in advance that his son would die because God had told him through Nathan. Even so, David thought there might still be a sliver of a chance that God would change his mind and let the young child live, so he threw himself at God’s mercy in what looked like mourning to the household. However, in this case, God didn’t change his mind (the child’s death was part of David’s allotted punishment for what he had done to Bathsheba and Uriah), so David didn’t see any point in mourning after he learned that the child was gone. In fact, Solomon was conceived on the very day that the other son died. No moss growing on those stones! ;D
So what jumped out at you in this reading? Are you as fond of David as I am? (Not possible!)
Feel free to share your thoughts on this reading or any of the other ones.
A PDF schedule of the BIBLE READ-THROUGH is directly below:
“40 Days and 40 Nights of God’s Word”
DAY 10: AUGUST 1
RUTH 1 – 1 SAMUEL 19:24
For those of you who want to keep track of our physical progress during the read-through, we are now approximately one-third of the way through the Old Testament and about one-quarter of the way through the entire Bible. Not sure if that qualifies us for any prizes, but at least we’re on schedule!
- Very interesting that the lineage leading to David (and then on to Jesus) involved a convert. Ruth was not a child of Israel, but she’d married one and then remained with Naomi (her Israeli mother-in-law) even after the death of her husband. Ruth didn’t have to stay with Naomi; she was under no obligation, but she wanted to serve God, and so of her own free will left her Moabite people and heritage behind and remained with the Israelites.
- God is very clear in scripture that those who willingly choose to serve him are the same in his eyes as the children of Israel. He puts no difference between his genetic children and his adoptive children. On the other hand, the children of Israel (or by extension, Christians) who turn their back on God are no longer part of the family. God draws a clear line between those who free-willingly serve him, regardless of their heritage, and those who refuse to serve him, regardless of their heritage. Jesus talks extensively about this in the gospels, but the concept is already clearly delineated in the OT.
- Nice to see the rise of some good guys in this reading (Samuel, David, Jonathan) and somewhat of a return to order for the Israelites. A nation without a good strong leader is like sheep without a good strong shepherd, as we saw in yesterday’s chaotic and violent reading. Unfortunately, though, Saul wasn’t entirely up to the task of being king, since he had a problem with following God’s orders. He said he’d do what he was supposed to do, and then he’d veer off on his own course, doing what looked good in his eyes and in the eyes of the world rather than following God’s explicit directives.
- Samuel genuinely loves Saul and has his hands full trying to keep him on track. But even with Samuel’s constant interventions, Saul’s disobedience ultimately cost him God’s Spirit, which is a death sentence right there. Even so, Saul lived on for a while, plagued by a demonic spirit, just as the disobedient Israelites in the wilderness lived on for a while after being told they weren’t going to enter the Promised Land. God needed Saul to keep on being King while he was preparing David to take his place. God also used Saul as a means to test David to make sure his heart was in the right place and that he would be obedient under every situation. As Samuel mentions, “to obey is better than sacrifice”.
- The story of David and Goliath is one of the Bible’s most famous. It highlights David’s profound faith even as a youth, and shows how God can work through something even as flimsy as a slingshot and a stone if the person wielding them has unswerving faith. As the youngest son, David was ridiculed and dismissed by his family as inconsequential, but God, as we’re told in scripture, looks on the heart, not on the exterior. The world is almost always quick to judge and dismiss based on looks, age, wealth, education, etc., but thank God that God looks on the heart instead, so there’s hope for everyone!
- The deep friendship developing between Jonathan and David in this reading is very touching. In choosing to support and protect David rather than go along with his father (who is also his king), Jonathan demonstrates what Jesus later teaches us about the importance of doing God’s will rather than that of your family or your earthly ruler. If the two conflict, you should always choose to do the will of God, even if it means disobeying your mother and father (or local/state/federal laws).
- I love the whole Bible (as you’ve probably noticed), but I especially love reading about David. He’s just such the “whole package” – profoundly faithful and obedient to God, incredibly brave, a king, a warrior, a father, a husband, a poet, a musician, a singer, a dancer, etc.. There’s no-one else quite like him in all of scripture. Whatever he puts his mind to, he aces, and with God’s blessings. Plus, he’s really really good-looking (lol). Maybe it’s because I’m a woman, but dang, that guy sure pushes all the right buttons! Can’t wait to meet him up close and personal, if and when I make it home to Heaven. I want to see him dance the dance he danced when he was leading the Ark of the Covenant into the city of David (sneak peek at tomorrow’s reading!).
I hope you’re enjoying the read-through as much as I am. I’m seeing things I hadn’t seen before, which is what always happens during a read-through (or any Bible reading). What are you seeing that you hadn’t noticed before? Feel free to leave your reflections in the comment section below.
Wondering what’s coming up next? Click on the “Download” button for the BIBLE READ-THROUGH schedule on PDF: