Old Testament In a Year: May 20 – 2 Samuel 23, 24

2 Samuel 23, 24
Focus Verse: Then David said to Gad, “I am in great distress. Let us fall into the hand of the Lord, for his mercy is great; but let me not fall into the hand of man.” – 2 Samuel 24:14

After the census was taken, David realized the foolishness of his sin and immediately begged for God to forgive him. God did forgive him, but He also let it be known that his sin would be punished. God offered David three forms of punishment and told him to choose which one he wanted to go through. David chose the third option of pestilence. Knowing that it was he who had sinned, he chose a punishment to which he would be equally exposed to as his people. If David had chosen famine or to flee before his foes, he would not have been affected as much. In choosing pestilence, David also showed that his trust, even in times of great distress and severe punishment, remained firm in God’s mercy and goodness.

When you are in the wrong, it is better to place yourself in God’s hands and suffer His punishment than the punishment of humans. Even in His wrath, God remembers mercy. And though He wounds, God also heals.

When God judges your sin, He does so out of His righteousness, not revenge; out of His sense of justice, not joy; out of His heart of goodness, not glee. In your good moments and in your bad, you can throw yourself into the hand of the Lord, knowing full well that His mercy is great.

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Old Testament In a Year: May 19 – 2 Samuel 21, 22; Psalm 18

2 Samuel 21, 22; Psalm 18
Focus Verse: In my distress I called upon the Lord; to my God I cried for help. From his temple he heard my voice, and my cry to him reached his ears. – Psalm 18:6

When you are in deep distress – physically, mentally, or emotionally – call upon the Lord and cry to Him for what you need and desire. You will always find Him near and ready to help. He has the strength to save, the power to provide, and the might to work miracles.

By calling on God through prayer, you tap into what He is able to do. You show that you are not depending on your own strength or on any human help, but you are depending on Him alone. You may be in distress for a variety of reasons, but for all of those reasons, the solution is the same – go before the throne of God and find mercy and grace to help in your time of need.

God doesn’t look down at you in distress; He sympathizes with you. Because He is omniscient, He knows how you’re feeling. Because He is omnipresent, He is with you. Because He is omnipotent, He is able to help you, encourage you, and deliver you from your distress.

From His temple, which is Heaven, God hears your voice. Nothing can stop your cry from reaching Him. He will never shut His eyes or stop His ears or turn His face away from you. He is always willing to listen and answer.

Old Testament In a Year: May 17 – 2 Samuel 19, 20

2 Samuel 19, 20
Focus Verse: And the king said to Shimei, “You shall not die.” And the king gave him his oath. – 2 Samuel 19:23

When David was fleeing from Absalom, Shimei met him along the way and threw dust at him and cursed him. Now, after Absalom’s defeat, Shimei hurries to meet David as he returns to Jerusalem and begs him for forgiveness. David promptly forgives Shimei and promises that he will not be put to death for the mean way he treated him.

Shimei was not the only person David forgave in his life. It is unlikely that he would have been so great a king and so blessed by God if he had harbored bitterness in his heart at the way he was treated by Saul, by Michal, by Absalom, and others. David had many enemies and he forgave each of them. This is one reason why he was successful in all that he did.

How readily do you forgive those who treat you with disrespect and meanness? Do you take their hurt to heart? Do you hold it against them? If so, you are missing out on the many benefits that forgiveness brings. It has been said that when you refuse to forgive others, it is like drinking poison and hoping the one who offended you dies. Forgiving the one who hurts you, helps you more than it helps them. It sets you (the offended) free and releases the offender to God.

Whether the offense happened years ago or just a few days ago, make the decision to let it go immediately. Don’t delay. Forgive today.

Old Testament In a Year: May 16 – 2 Samuel 16, 17, 18

2 Samuel 16, 17, 18
Focus Verse: And the king was deeply moved and went up to the chamber over the gate and wept. And as he went, he said, “O my son Absalom, my son, my son Absalom! Would I had died instead of you, O Absalom, my son, my son!” – 2 Samuel 18:33

When Saul, who was an archenemy of David, died, there was no rejoicing from David. He mourned. And now when Absalom, his son turned conspirator who tried to steal the kingdom from him, died, there was no rejoicing. Only grief and weeping. David often pleaded in prayer for God to deliver him from his enemies, and God always did, but David never rejoiced over their destruction.

Trust God to save you from those who seek to hurt you, but do as David did, and show concern for their souls. Your hate for an enemy should never be so great that you rejoice when they fall.

Old Testament In a Year: May 15 – 2 Samuel 15; Psalms 3, 69

2 Samuel 15; Psalms 3, 69
Focus Verse: But as for me, my prayer is to you, O Lord. At an acceptable time, O God, in the abundance of your steadfast love answer me in your saving faithfulness. – Psalm 69:13

When David fled from his son, Absalom, and felt as if he were drowning in deep waters and mire, he kept his focus on God. He directed his prayer to the One he knew could hear, answer, and save Him.

David’s request for God to answer him “at an acceptable time,” shows that he was willing to wait – for however long – on God to save him from the conspiracy of his own son. He did not try to foil Absalom’s conspiracy on his own. Just as he had waited for many long years to be delivered from Saul by God, he now waited on God to deliver him from Absalom. At every moment of crisis in his life, David turned to God and trusted in His steadfast love and saving faithfulness to deliver him.

Whatever deep mire of misery or deep waters of trouble you find yourself in, direct your prayer to God. Look to Him alone. Trust in His love and faithfulness to save you. Do not limit God’s answer to your time; but in His acceptable time, He will hear you, answer you, and help you.

Old Testament In a Year: May 14 – 2 Samuel 13, 14

2 Samuel 13, 14
Focus Verse: We must all die; we are like water spilled on the ground, which cannot be gathered up again. But God will not take away life, and he devises means so that the banished one will not remain an outcast. – 2 Samuel 14:14

The woman of Tekoa asks for David to show mercy to Absalom, who killed his brother Amnon for raping their sister, Tamar. She reminds him that all people must die. Because of this uncertainty of life, she appeals for David to forgive Absalom and make things right between them before either Absalom dies in banishment or David dies without being reconciled to his son.

She uses God as an example. Even though sinners are in a state of estrangement from Him, He works in such a way so that the outcast does not remain an outcast by Him. In wrath, God remembers mercy. He does not desire the death of prodigal sons and daughters or banished sinners, but that they will return to Him and live.

And if you ever wander away from God or find yourself estranged from Him because of something you’ve done wrong, be assured that God will show you mercy. He will want you back and devise means to get you back so that you will not remain an outcast forever.

Old Testament In a Year: May 12 – 2 Samuel 10, 11, 12

2 Samuel 10, 11, 12
Focus Verse: David said to Nathan, “I have sinned against the Lord.” And Nathan said to David, “The Lord also has put away your sin; you shall not die.” – 2 Samuel 12:13

David knew he was wrong for having Uriah killed and for taking Bathsheba as his own wife. And when he was confronted about his wrongdoing, he readily admitted that he had sinned. He did not try to excuse, explain, justify, or minimize his sin. His full admittance of it showed that he was truly repentant of the wrong he had done.

Because he did not lie or try to further hide his wrongdoing, God forgave Him. Instead of holding his sin against him, God put away his sin. Although he was still punished for it, God did not remember it anymore.

David didn’t say he sinned against Uriah or Bathsheba, but against the Lord because when one sins against his or her self or against others, they are also sinning against God. When one hurts his or her self or hurts others, they are also hurting God. What do you do when you do wrong? Do you cover it up or admit it? Do you truly repent for it or do you just not care? Are you concerned about how your sin affects God?

God understands your faults. He knows you aren’t perfect. He does not seek to hold your sin against you, but seeks to put it away and forgive you.

Old Testament In a Year: May 11 – 2 Samuel 8, 9; Psalm 60

2 Samuel 8, 9; Psalm 60
Focus Verse: And David said to him, “Do not fear, for I will show you kindness for the sake of your father Jonathan, and I will restore to you all the land of Saul your father, and you shall eat at my table always.” – 2 Samuel 9:7

When Jonathan was alive, David promised that he would not stop showing kindness to him or to his family. Long after Jonathan was dead, David kept his promise. He showed kindness to Jonathan’s son, Mephibosheth, and Jonathan’s grandson, Mica. All the days that he was alive, David made sure that Jonathan’s family was taken care of.

When you keep promises that you make, you are reflecting the character of God. God keeps His word. He cannot lie. What He says He will do, He does. What He promises, He fulfills.

When you keep promises that you make, you are also showing that you care for others. Regardless of how inconvenient it may be to you, others will know that you value and respect them when you keep your word to them.

Old Testament In a Year: May 10 – 2 Samuel 6, 7; Psalm 30

2 Samuel 6, 7; Psalm 30
Focus Verse: And David was angry because the Lord had broken out against Uzzah. And that place is called Perez-uzzah to this day. – 2 Samuel 6:8

When David and some thirty thousand people were bringing the ark of God to Jerusalem, they were all in a good mood. Everyone was making music and celebrating before the Lord. When they came to a certain place, the oxen who were carrying the ark stumbled, and a man named Uzzah reached out his hand to steady the ark. Uzzah didn’t intentionally disobey or disrespect God with his action. He was just trying to keep the ark from falling. David knew this, and he was angry that God killed Uzzah because of his well-meaning error.

After feeling angry, David also felt afraid. Would God strike him too if he made a wrong move regarding the ark?

Anger. Fear. Sadness. Joy. Defeat. Victory. Regret. Hurt. Lonely. Love. There was no emotion that David could not express to God. His willingness to share exactly how he felt at different moments throughout his life reveals the depth and intimacy of his friendship with God. He was completely honestly about his faults and feelings with the one who made him. And so it should be with you.

Rick Warren said, “Genuine friendship is built on disclosure. What may appear as audacity God views as authenticity. God listens to the passionate words of his friends; He is bored with predictable, pious clichés. To be God’s friend, you must be honest to God, sharing your true feeling, not what you think you ought to feel or say.” Do not hide your faults, feelings, and failures from God. Do not tell Him what you think He wants to hear. Tell Him what you actually want to say. Tell Him how you truly feel. Tell Him what you don’t understand about His will or His ways. Complain. Accuse. Question. Argue. Challenge. Pester. Negotiate. Vent.

God made you and God loves you. Is there any better person to be honest with?