Thoroughly Equipped: Goliath Had a Brother

Today’s reading is 2 Samuel 20:14-21:22, Acts 1:1-26, Psalm 121:1-8, and Proverbs 16:18.

Today we see David in battle with an old, familiar enemy.  Did you know that Goliath had a brother?  Yes, he did.  And David and his men had to come against him in battle once again.  That family of giants were quite the thorn in David’s side.  You would think that his victory over Goliath—you know, the one that made him famous in his youth, the one that displayed his faith in God, the one that thrust him into a position of honor and eventually to the position of king—would be enough.  You would think that God would have protected him from having to face that enemy again.  But He didn’t.  And we really don’t have any ground to stand on to argue the whys.  He is God and we are not.  Here is the passage to which I am referring.

15 Once again the Philistines were at war with Israel. And when David and his men were in the thick of battle, David became weak and exhausted. 16 Ishbi-benob was a descendant of the giants[d]; his bronze spearhead weighed more than seven pounds,[e] and he was armed with a new sword. He had cornered David and was about to kill him. 17 But Abishai son of Zeruiah came to David’s rescue and killed the Philistine. Then David’s men declared, “You are not going out to battle with us again! Why risk snuffing out the light of Israel?”

18 After this, there was another battle against the Philistines at Gob. As they fought, Sibbecai from Hushah killed Saph, another descendant of the giants.

19 During another battle at Gob, Elhanan son of Jair[f] from Bethlehem killed the brother of Goliath of Gath.[g] The handle of his spear was as thick as a weaver’s beam!

20 In another battle with the Philistines at Gath, they encountered a huge man[h]with six fingers on each hand and six toes on each foot, twenty-four in all, who was also a descendant of the giants. 21 But when he defied and taunted Israel, he was killed by Jonathan, the son of David’s brother Shimea.[i]

22 These four Philistines were descendants of the giants of Gath, but David and his warriors killed them.

 

We see that David is not quite the young, invincible man he was when he first encountered Goliath.  He was just healing from an extremely difficult, devastating and stressful situation.  He had been on the run, his son had betrayed him, then died, and he had to win back the loyalty of the tribe of Judah—his own tribe.  Things had not been easy for David.  And yet, the battles still raged.  He still had enemies to overcome—enemies that he perhaps thought were already taken care of.  But there were still four giants in the family of Goliath, his brother being one of them.

When he first encountered Goliath, he single-handedly defeated him with a slingshot and a stone.  But here we see that in the heat of the battle, David grows weak and exhausted.  He needs help this time.  And help quickly came.  God sent loyal men to help him fight.  And together, David and his warriors killed the family of Goliath.

What is the practical application here?

First of all, we are overcomers.  Scripture is very clear about that.  Sometimes, God will equip us to single-handedly overcome our enemies.  But sometimes, we grow weak and exhausted.  Sometimes, we need to reach out for help, knowing that we are better fighting together than fighting alone.  The enemy of our soul in no gentlemen.  He does not give us a break when we are having a hard time.  He does not show us mercy because we are weak and exhausted.  No, the enemy of our soul may see that as an opportunity to send in four giants, not just one.  But remember, we are overcomers.  God has given us authority, through the shed blood of Jesus, to overcome the enemy everytime.  When we are weak, God will send faithful ones to help us, support us, fight with us, or maybe fight for us when we can’t.  Our job is to accept their help, be honest about our need for help, lay down our self-sufficiency, and thank God for the blessing of fellowship and friendship.

Are you in need?  Reach out for help.  First, reach up to God, then reach out to others.  And remember:  we are overcomers.


Thoroughly Equipped: Scripture Reading Schedule for June

Hey, Friends!  Can you believe we have completed five months of reading through the Bible?  When we get through this month, we will be half-way there!  Springtime was hard for me to stay on task.  So many other things screamed for my attention (literally, at times!).  But the summer months have arrived!  I am praying that all of us can spend more time digging deep into the scriptures.  It will be easy to put it off, but let’s encourage each other to press on toward our goal!  It will be worth it!  Below you will find the reading schedule for this month.  Blessings to each of you!

June 1:  2 Samuel 18:1-19:10, John 20:1-31, Psalm 119:153-176, Proverbs 16:14-15

June 2:  2 Samuel 19:11-20:13, John 21:1-25, Psalm 120:1-7, Proverbs 16:16-17

June 3:  2 Samuel 20:14-21:22, Acts 1:1-26, Psalm 121:1-8, Proverbs 16:18

June 4:  2 Samuel 22:1-23:23, Acts 2:1-47, Psalm 122:1-9, Proverbs 16:19-20

June 5:  2 Samuel 23:24-24:25, Acts 3:1-26, Psalm 123:1-4, Proverbs 16:21-23

June 6:  1 Kings 1:1-53, Acts 4:1-37, Psalm 124:1-8, Proverbs 16:24

June 7:  1 Kings 2:1-3:2, Acts 5:1-42, Psalm 125:1-5, Proverbs 16:25

June 8:  1 Kings 3:3-4:34, Acts 6:1-15, Psalm 126:1-6, Proverbs 16:26-27

June 9:  1 Kings 5:1-6:38, Acts 7:1-29, Psalm 127:1-5, Proverbs 16:28-30

June 10:  1 Kings 7:1-51, Acts 7:30-50, Psalm 128:1-6, Proverbs 16:31-33

June 11:  1 Kings 8:1-66, Acts 7:51-8:13, Psalm 129:1-8, Proverbs 17:1

June 12:  1 Kings 9:1-10:29, Acts 8:14-40, Psalm 130:1-8, Proverbs 17:2-3

June 13:  1 Kings 11:1-12:19, Acts 9:1-25, Psalm 131:1-3, Proverbs 17:4-5

June 14:  1 Kings 12:20-13:34, Acts 9:26-43, Psalm 132:1-18, Proverbs 17:6

June 15:  1 Kings 14:1-15:24, Acts 10:1-23, Psalm 131:1-3, Proverbs 17:7-8

June 16:  1 Kings 15:25-17:24, Acts 10:24-48, Psalm 134:1-3, Proverbs 17:9-11

June 17:  1 Kings 18:1-46, Acts 11:1-30, Psalm 135:1-21, Proverbs 17:12-13

June 18:  1 Kings 19:1-21, Acts 12:1-23, Psalm 136:1-26, Proverbs 17:14-15

June 19:  1 Kings 20:1-21:29, Acts 12:24-13:15, Psalm 137:1-9, Proverbs 17:16

June 20:  1 Kings 22:1-53, Acts 13:16-41, Psalm 138:1-8, Proverbs 17:17-18

June 21:  2 Kings 1:1-2:25, Acts 13:42-14:7, Psalm 139:1-24, Proverbs 17:19-21

June 22:  2 Kings 3:1-4:17, Acts 14:8-28, Psalm 140:1-13, Proverbs 17:22

June 23:  2 Kings 4:18-5:27, Acts 15:1-35, Psalm 141:1-10, Proverbs 17:23

June 24:  2 Kings 6:1-7:20, Acts 15:36-16:15, Psalm 142:1-7, Proverbs 17:24-25

June 25:  2 Kings 8:1-9:13, Acts 16:16-40, Psalm 143:1-12, Proverbs 17:26

June 26:  2 Kings 9:14-10:31, Acts 17:1-34, Psalm 144:1-15, Proverbs 17:27-28

June 27:  2 Kings 10:32-12:21, Acts 18:1-22, Psalm 145:1-21, Proverbs 18:1

June 28:  2 Kings 13:1-14:29, Acts 18:23-19:12, Psalm 146:1-10, Proverbs 18:2-3

June 29:  2 Kings 15:1-16:20, Acts 19:13-41, Psalm 147:1-20, Proverbs 18:4-5

June 30:  2 Kings 17:1-18:12, Acts 20:1-38, Psalm 148:1-14, Proverbs 18:6-7


Thoroughly Equipped: Back Toward the Wilderness

Today’s reading is 2 Samuel 15:23-16:23, John 18:25-19:22, Psalm 119:113-128, Proverbs 16:10-1.1

My heart goes out to King David.  He had to flee from home because his son, Absalom, betrayed him and led a successful coup.  He has declared himself king and David has had to flee in the night.  Not only has David been betrayed by his son, he has also been betrayed by the people who followed him, including at least one trusted advisor, Ahithophel.

One thing that caught my attention is that God is silent in this passage.  We don’t see him sending a message by way of prophet, nor writing a message on the wall.  We don’t see angels visiting David to assure him all is well.  Does this mean God has left David?  Does this mean God doesn’t care?  No, absolutely not.  God has always been faithful to David, even in His darkest hours, even in His moments of deepest sin.  Isn’t that what faith really is?  According to Hebrews 11:1,

Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.

Let’s look at that verse in several translations and meditate on its truth:

Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.

                                                                                                            NIV

Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen. 

                                                                                                            RSV

Faith shows the reality of what we hope for; it is the evidence of things we cannot see. 

                                                                                                            NLT

Now faith is the assurance (title deed, confirmation) of things hoped for (divinely guaranteed), and the evidence of things not seen [the conviction of their reality—faith comprehends as fact what cannot be experienced by the physical senses].

                                                                                                            AMP

Now faith means putting our full confidence in the things we hope for, it means being certain of things we cannot see.

                                                                                                            PHILLIPS

The fundamental fact of existence is that this trust in God, this faith, is the firm foundation under everything that makes life worth living. It’s our handle on what we can’t see.

                                                                                                            MSG

 

The truth is, God is not always loud.  He often works in gentle whispers.  He often works in situations and through other people.  And these times of silence are for the strengthening of our faith.  These are the times we cling to truth because it is true, not because we feel it.  We put our full confidence in the hope of the promises of God because we believe they are true and worthy.

Faith is often fulfilling and joyful and upbeat and fun.  Faith is also silent and difficult and a struggle and may even threaten our core beliefs.  But we must hold on to the promises of God, even in the midst of the struggles.

Yesterday, I noticed which direction David was fleeing.  He was being forced back to the wilderness.  (2 Samuel 15: 23, 28) Back to the place where his ancestors wandered for 40 years.  He was being forced to exit the Promise land.  He walked that direction, weeping as he went, head covered and feet bare as a sign of mourning.  He was not trying to be stoic.  He was not hiding the fact that he was hurt and scared.  And in the midst of that time of grief, we see small evidences of what was unseen; the evidence that God was still there.  A faithful friend, willing to mourn alongside him; a kind servant providing him with practical food and provisions—these were all whisperings of God saying “I am still here.  I have not abandoned you.”  And we can be a part of God’s whisperings to others when we reach out to those in mourning.

There are many other observations and nuggets of truth in today’s passage, but let’s end with this one.  David went to the Mount of Olives, the place where people worshiped God on the way to the wilderness.  It was not an easy journey.  He had to climb to the summit of the Mount of Olives, and this journey was made even more difficult as he carried the great weight of grief.  But he went.  And it was there on the summit that he found the comfort of a faithful friend.  Going just beyond the summit of the Mount of Olives, he was further comforted by the servant with practical provisions.

Do you feel you are headed to the wilderness?  Life sometimes forces us in that direction.  Do you feel that God is silent right now?  He is not really.  He has left us His Word as a comfort, His truth as a secure promise.  Go to the summit in the midst of your journey to the wilderness.  Go to worship God.  He is waiting and ready to show you encouragement.


Thoroughly Equipped: Bitter and Estranged

Hey, Friends!  This post was written on May 29, but I had technical difficulties with my website.  We are now back up and running!  Blessings!

Today’s reading is 2 Samuel 14:1-15:22, John 18:1-24, Psalm 119:97-112, Proverbs 16:8-9.

On this Memorial Day holiday, I am spending time at the lake with my family.  It is a blessed event when I can see my older kids who now have homes of their own.  Not everyone could come and though I have totally enjoyed the time with those who could, there is always a small hole that is left for those who aren’t here.  Things seem a little off, quieter.  Almost as if something is missing, which is truly the case.  And as I sit here, enjoying the beauty of the place, I am reading of another family who have something—someone—missing.  This is King David’s family.  I am grateful that my “missing pieces” are not here simply because of a scheduling conflict, for the missing piece of King David’s family is absent because of a great rift in the family.  Absalom, David’s son, is estranged from the family.  The great rift started when a half-brother of Absalom, Amnon, brutally raped his sister, Tamar.  Absalom nobly took in Tamar, but instead of seeking true justice, took matter into his own hands and brutally killed Amnon.  So, David is left with one son dead, one daughter devastated, and one son estranged.  If you ever think your family is messed up, just remember this story!  And this was the family of David, the man after God’s own heart.

The Bible does not try to sugar coat anything.  It tells a true story of real people.  It tells the dysfunction and the devastation.  But it also tells of an active God working his way of Redemption.  No one is too far gone, no family is too messed up, for God not to work a redemptive plan in the end.  Remember, this family eventually produced the Savior of the world in its descendants.

As is usually the case, unresolved conflict and unprocessed tragedy leads to more conflict and more tragedy.  And such was the case in this story.  In today’s reading, we see a plan that David’s general, Joab, orchestrates.  Joab knew that the King longed to see his estranged son, Absalom, despite what he had done.  And so, he sent for a woman from Tekoa who had a reputation for great wisdom.  She concocted a story about her two sons who had a fight, resulting in the death of one of them.  She begged for mercy for the living son, who was in danger of being killed for killing his brother.  David showed mercy to her and promised to protected the living son, despite his crime.  She then revealed the true purpose of her visit with these words:

13 She replied, “Why don’t you do as much for the people of God as you have promised to do for me? You have convicted yourself in making this decision, because you have refused to bring home your own banished son. 14 All of us must die eventually. Our lives are like water spilled out on the ground, which cannot be gathered up again. But God does not just sweep life away; instead, he devises ways to bring us back when we have been separated from him.

                                                                        2Samuel 134:13-14

I love that last sentence: “But God does not just sweep life away; instead, he devises ways to bring us back when we have been separated from him.” So true.  God is a God of reconciliation.  He wants to restore our families.  He wants to devise ways to bring us back to Him and back together with each other.  But, we must be willing to be brought together again.

The woman’s words made their mark on the Daddy-heart of King David, and Absalom was allowed to return back to Jerusalem.  However, though the geographical distance had lessened, the emotional distance had not.  Unforgiveness gripped both of these family members.  David would not allow Absalom in his presence.  He was allowed back home but not back to the heart of David.

Now, Absalom was used to getting his way.  He was handsome and charming.  He even had good hair!  (2 Samuel 14:26). He had three sons, a mark of honor in those days, and he had a gorgeous daughter, who he named after his devastated sister, Tamar.  This seemed like a noble and good thing—honoring the bereaved sister with a name-sake.  But could it be that it was a way to keep the bitter root solidly planted in the soil of Absalom’s heart?  Could it be that this daily reminder of his sister, kept him justifying his sin?   And this bitterness, coupled with all of his other traits, led to an impatient, prideful man, furious that he could not have what he wanted.   To get the ball rolling faster, he set fire to Joab’s fields.  This forced Joab to discuss the situation of Absalom with King David, and finally, the father-son reunion took place.

I kind of wish the story could have ended with chapter 14, verse 33.

Then at last David summoned Absalom, who came and bowed low before the king, and the king kissed him.

                                                                                    2 Samuel 14:33

Ahhh!  Sweet reunion!  I want them to hug and say “I’m sorry” and “I forgive you” and go fishing together, rejoicing in their reconciliation.  But it appears the pride and bitterness in the heart of Absalom was in full bloom.  He worked his way back to the King’s good graces, only to betray him later.

What can we learn from all of this?  Several things come to mind.

  • Bad things happen to good, God-fearing families.
  • Unforgiveness and estrangement is a heavy, painful, and unnecessary burden to bear. It helps neither side.
  • The root of bitterness and the plague of pride can unhinge any relationship.
  • Reconciliation is possible, but both parties have to be willing to reconcile. Both parties have to rid themselves of bitterness and pride.  Both parties must take a step toward each other.  But remember, if you are the only one stepping, at least the distance is not so great between you; at least you have laid down part of the heavy, sinful burden of bitterness and unforgiveness.
  • Remember it takes time. Give each other space to heal.  But don’t allow too much time to pass, or you will encounter many more problems to deal with.
  • The most important thing to remember is that God is the Redeemer, the Repairer of broken things. He is the great Reconciler.  Turn to him with every painful problem, and praise Him despite your circumstances, remembering that only He can bring good from the bad.

Do all that you can to live in peace with everyone.

                                                                  Romans 12:18


Thoroughly Equipped: Choosing to Look Foolish

Today’s reading is 2 Samuel 4:1-6:23, John 13:31-14:14, Psalm 119:17-32, Proverbs 15:31-32.

Today, my mind is on the character of David.  We know that David is referred to as “a man after God’s own heart”. We learned back in 1 Samuel 13, that this topic was the very reason Saul lost his kingdom.

14 But now thy kingdom shall not continue: the Lord hath sought him a man after his own heart, and the Lord hath commanded him to be captain over his people, because thou hast not kept that which the Lord commanded thee.

God saw his heart and it was not a heart after His.  But then there was David, a young shepherd boy.  The baby of the family.  An unlikely choice.  But God saw his heart.  Even hundreds of years later, it was written about in the New Testament.

But God removed Saul and replaced him with David, a man about whom God said, ‘I have found David son of Jesse, a man after my own heart. He will do everything I want him to do.’

                                                                        Acts 13:22

So what does being a person after God’s own heart mean?  To understand, I think we can look at the word “after”.  Webster says that the word after means following in time or place. Being after God’s on heart means following–following His ways, following His example.  If something is modeled after another thing that means it reflects or looks like or is made in the image of the other thing.  Following after God means we will look like God, act like Him, and reflect His image in our thoughts and actions.

We also can consider the word after in the expression “go after”.  The thesaurus states that the term “go after” mean the same thing as these words:

Aggressive, chase, catch, bold, zealous, follow, hunt.  Think of those words as we seek to understand the expression of being “after God’s own heart”—aggressively seeking His will and His way, chasing Him, following Him, being bold in our pursuit of Him and being bold in our faith in Him.

All of these insights in our word study are examples of the character of David.  Was he perfect?  Absolutely not.  In fact, the most famous repentant verses are penned by David after his sinful encounter with Bathsheba.

Have mercy upon me, O God, according to thy lovingkindness: according unto the multitude of thy tender mercies blot out my transgressions.

Wash me thoroughly from mine iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin.

For I acknowledge my transgressions: and my sin is ever before me.

                                                                        Psalm 51:1-3

But even in his pursuit of forgiveness and redemption, we see a man after God’s own heart.

We also see that this description of him in his character revealed in today’s reading.

 

David was a strong leader who made tough decisions based on his loyalty to God.  (2 Samuel 4:9-12)

David was forgiving, even toward his greatest enemy, Saul. (2 Samuel 1:11-12)

David was loyal, as seen in his friendship with Jonathan.  (2 Samuel 1:26)

David was humble and realized that the Lord had confirmed him as king over Israel for the sake of the people of Israel, not for his own personal gain. (2 Samuel 5:13)

David consulted God and did not depend on his own understanding and wisdom.  (2 Samuel 5:19)

David was zealous in his pursuit of God.  (2 Samuel 6:12-15)

 

As is often the case, following after God’s own heart can be misunderstood and ridiculed.  However, those who truly are after God’s own heart are so focused on God, they often don’t even notice the opinion of others.  David is a great example of this.  When he brought the Ark of God to the City of David, he did so with great celebration.  He was so God-aware that he didn’t have the time or mental space to be self-aware.  And so, he danced and leaped and worshipped the Lord, without any regard to what others thought of his behavior.  He generously invited all the people to join him in this worship celebration, including the servants. He gave every man and woman in crowd bread and cake.  And he joyfully returned to his home, ready to bless his own family after he had blessed the common folk.  But his wife…his jealous, petty, snobby wife…she was disgusted by his undignified display of worship.  She mocked him and sarcastically degraded him.  And his response was a wonderful example of one who was after God’s own heart:

 

21 David retorted to Michal, “I was dancing before the Lord, who chose me above your father and all his family! He appointed me as the leader of Israel, the people of the Lord, so I celebrate before the Lord. 22 Yes, and I am willing to look even more foolish than this, even to be humiliated in my own eyes! But those servant girls you mentioned will indeed think I am distinguished!”

                                                            2 Samuel 6:21-22

 

Do you want to be a person after God’s own heart?  I do.  But we must realize there is a cost involved.  There may be times we have to be willing to look foolish or  be humiliated.  But during those times, we offer that situation as a gift to the Worthy One, remembering His Words of truth:

26 Remember, dear brothers and sisters, that few of you were wise in the world’s eyes or powerful or wealthy[a] when God called you. 27 Instead, God chose things the world considers foolish in order to shame those who think they are wise. And he chose things that are powerless to shame those who are powerful.

                                                                                    1 Corinthians 1:26-27