O my son, my son!

The Word for today:
2 Samuel 18:1-19:8

mark this: 2 Samuel 18:2b, 3–
And the king said to the people, “I also will surely go out with you myself.” But the people answered, “You shall not go out! For if we flee away, they will not care about us; nor if half of us die, will they care about us. But you are worth ten thousand of us now. For you are now more help to us in the city.”

mark this: 2 Samuel 18:33–
Then the king was deeply moved, and went up to the chamber over the gate, and wept. And as he went, he said thus: “O my son Absalom–my son, my son Absalom–if only I had died in your place! O Absalom my son, my son!”

David’s lamentation over the death of Absalom is the most touching expression of grief in the Bible or in any other literature.

I study the Bible and I write Bible courses. Then I teach the courses I’ve written. I am teaching the 18th chapter of 2 Samuel right now. But sometimes I am simply stopped. I can’t go on anymore as if this were some kind of classroom, concerned with ideas and words on paper.

For we are on holy ground here, where the noble heart of God cracks and we can see inside. We can see inside, right to the core of God’s heart. We can see through the crack into the genesis of love.

The Trinity is revealed through the Son. We see Jesus on the cross and we see what love means. We begin to sense what love cost.

What did love cost? I believe we glimpse it in the lament of a Father who–due to cosmic necessities beyond my ability to grasp–could not Himself go to the cross (1), but would gladly have gone rather than watch his Son die there (2).

I don’t think a Roman soldier’s flail, nor his lash; nor his fists, nor his hammer–nor the spikes driven through the flesh and into the wood–killed Jesus.

I think Jesus died of a broken heart. Listen to the last verse of chapter 18. Listen very closely and you’ll enter into the sublime realm, into the depths of the oneness of the Trinity:  Jesus died of his Father’s broken heart.

Echoing backwards and forwards through time from the cross, we hear:
Then the king was deeply moved, and went up to the chamber over the gate, and wept. And as he went, he said thus: “O my son–my son, my son–if only I had died in your place! O my son, my son!”

(1) application of 2 Samuel 18: 2b, 3 (printed above); (2) application of 2 Samuel 18:33 (printed above)

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God’s answers are better than our requests

The Word for today:
2 Samuel 16:15 — 17:29

mark this: 2 Samuel 17:6-11

Ahithophel, one of David’s closest friends and advisers, had deserted him to join forces with Absalom.

So David prayed that Ahithophel would give foolish counsel (1). Ahithophel’s counsel, however, was brilliant. He advised that Absalom’s forces should strike quickly. Had Absalom followed this advice, he almost certainly would have defeated David’s fleeing forces.

But God took control of the situation through the counsel of Hushai (a double agent, secretly loyal to David, who had infiltrated Absalom’s inner circle of advisers.) Hushai’s advice was brilliant as well–in David’s favor. It bought David time to recover, replenish, and reorganize.

Hushai also advised Absalom to personally lead the battle against David, thereby appealing to Absalom’s arrogance. It was this appeal to arrogance which made Absalom favor the advice of Hushai over the advice of Ahithophel. Thus, it was Absalom’s pride which brought about his fall.

Begin to notice how God answers prayers. He answers them in his own way–not always the way we presume he should.

Jesus taught us to pray: Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done (1). Jesus prayed to the Father, saying, Not my will, but yours, be done (2).

Let’s pray to Our Father. Then let’s watch him work things out in his time, according to his will, in his way. That’s the best way.

(1) 2 Samuel 15:31; (2) Matthew 6:10; (3) Luke 22:42

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pictures of Jesus

The Word for today:
2 Samuel 15:1 — 16:14

mark this: 2 Samuel 15:10-14

The Bible is highly prophetic. Much of Bible prophecy has already been fulfilled–exactly as foretold by scripture.

Some biblical prophecy awaits fulfillment. When it is fulfilled, we can expect it to be fulfilled in the same way–exactly as foretold by scripture.

So the concept of the prophetic Word is readily understood by many.

But prophecy is not only announced in words. Much of the Bible’s prophecy is announced via “pictures”–the actions and events in your Bible. In this way, the Bible is highly cinematic. The Bible is as much a movie as it is a book.

In our passage today, God’s choice as king–David–will be rejected and forced from the city. The people’s choice–Absalom–will for a brief time be hailed as king, but the trappings of his own beauty–the source of his pride–will entangle him and defeat him. Thereafter, the rejected King will return to his rightful place.

There is so much in the previous paragraph which is prophetic of Jesus Christ and his kingdom that it is beyond the scope of this blog to convey. But the Bible student will start to recognize what that stern old preacher, or that wild-eyed teacher, or your mom used to say as she taught you the Bible: Jesus is on every page, every chapter and verse, in every jot and tittle (1) of scripture. He is prophesied in word and in picture.

As you seek his heart and come to know him better and better, the movie unfolds before your very eyes. You’ll begin to find Jesus in every scene, every frame!

Just a quick peek at the parallels…

Absalom embodied perfection: There was no blemish in him. (2).
Lucifer was created perfect in all his ways, but iniquity was found in him (3). It was not put there by God. Lucifer created it.

In all of Israel there was none to be so much praised for his beauty as Absalom (4).
Satan was lifted up because of his beauty. (5).

Later, the mark of Absalom’s beauty, his long hair (6), would ensnare him, entangling him in a tree (7). Absalom, like Satan, was literally lifted up because of his beauty (8). His beauty, the source of his pride, would be his demise and death.

Voices were planted to proclaim on signal that Absalom reigns in Hebron! (9)
Just so, voices prevailed as they rejected God’s King, Jesus–shouting, We have no king but Caesar! (10). In both cases, the same people who had welcomed the rightful king turned against him.

Ahithophel, one of David’s closest friends and advisers, deserted him to join forces with Absalom (11). One of Jesus’ seemingly closest friends would turn him over to the religious leaders (12).

After a time in exile and rejection, the anointed king, David, returned. God’s anointed–Messiah Jesus–will return in just the same way he left (13).

And these are just surface parallels. They are upheld by a foundation of spirtual parallels which run deep beneath them.

If you will, reread today’s passage of scripture. Look up the footnoted scriptures provided at the bottom of this blog entry. You will see prophecy, and you will see Jesus.

(1) Matthew 5:18/KJV; (2) 2 Samuel 14:25; (3) see Ezekiel 28:15; (4) 2 Samuel 14:25; (5) see Ezekiel 28:17; (6) 2 Samuel 14:26; see Ezekiel 28:17, as in 5 above; (7) 2 Samuel 18:9; (8) Ezekiel 28:17; (9) 2 Samuel 15:10; (10) John 19:15; (11) 2 Samuel 15:31; (12) Matthew 27:1-5; (13) Acts 1:11

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forgiven, forgotten

The Word for today:
2 Samuel 13:38 — 14:33

mark this: 2 Samuel 14:13-14–
The woman said, “Why then have you devised a thing like this against the people of God? When the king says this, does he not convict himself, for the king has not brought back his banished son?
Like water spilled on the ground, which cannot be recovered, so we must die. But God does not take away life; instead, he devises ways so that a banished person may not remain estranged from him.

Absalom seems to have been David’s favorite son. He was more like David than any of his other sons. David probably intended that Absalom succeed him as king. When Absalom fled Israel after he had killed his half-brother (as revenge for the rape of Absalom’s sister) David longed to bring him back. He mourned for him and wished for his return. But he did not offer Absalom his total forgiveness.

God’s forgiveness is absolute, unconditional, total:
As far as the east is from the west, So far has He removed our transgressions from us (1).

When we have confessed our sins to God, they are forgiven and forgotten (2)–
“Father, please forgive me. I’ve messed up again.”
“Again? I don’t recall what you’re talking about.”

David was a man who sinned greatly, yet he was forgiven completely. (Because of another irrevocable principle–the law of sowing and reaping–the consequences of our sin continue to crop up, but our Father has forgotten them completely.) But now David cannot completely forgive his son.

Although a reconciliation was made, it was a reluctant reconciliation on David’s part. The fact that David did not give Absalom wholehearted forgiveness rankles in Absalom’s soul, and sets the stage for the rebellion, war, and death to follow.

Someone has said that “Unforgiveness is the poison we drink hoping someone else will die.” Just so, David’s unforgiveness turns on him and begins the disintegration of his kingdom.

We are the most forgiven people in the world. We should be the most forgiving. Forgiveness should be the hallmark of a Christian:

And be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as God in Christ forgave you (3).

(1) Psalm 103:12; (2) Jeremiah 31:34 & Hebrews 10:17: (3) Ephesians 4:32

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“You are the man”– the Word of God is addressed to you

The Word for today:
2 Samuel 12:1 — 13:37

mark this: 2 Samuel 12:1-13

The prophet Nathan brings the Word of the LORD to David. He teaches David through a parable–about a rich man, and a poor man with but one little ewe lamb. The parable is reminiscent of the teaching method of the great Prophet and Teacher to come–Himself a solitary Lamb who will, like the lamb in Nathan’s parable, die because of the sins of others.

The parable is devastatingly effective. The Bible student should read it carefully and take it to heart; the Word of the LORD isn’t addressed to the other guy. It is addressed to you. It exposes David’s sin and his hypocrisy, just as the parables of Jesus will expose my sin and hypocrisy, just as they will expose yours.

Nathan’s story, the parables of Jesus, and the entire Word of God reveal David, and you and me, as though we were looking in a mirror. It is a mirror that reveals us as we really are:
Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says. Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like a man who looks at his face in a mirror and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like (1).

Life is not complicated for the follower of Jesus Christ. Just look in “the mirror” every day. Do what it says.

(1) James 1:22-24

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