David reigned over all Israel, doing what was just and right for all his people. 2 Samuel 8:15
After an entire chapter of explaining David's military exploits, the Bible tells us that as David reigned over Israel he was "just and right for all his people." As we read in the chapter, David was quite brutal and unpredictable towards his enemies. Leaders and commanders from opposing armies came bearing gifts for this mighty warrior. They knew that they didn't stand a chance against their fiercest opponent.
As a military leader, David was the best. As a King over a nation, David was just and right. As the Sovereign in his country, he had power and authority like no other. At his command, people could be put to death. Also at his command, peasants could be elevated to authority. With that position came great moral responsibility.
You don't have to look far to see abuses of that power. Many leaders (in every level of government in many governments around the world) view their position as a personal playground to please their every hedonistic whim. Some view the power as a means to controlling the lives of countless thousands. It may not be as overt as that, but the end is the same: power for power's sake, and greed unlimited. Power is intoxicating.
Once again, pray for your leaders. Pray that they, like David, will be just and right for their people. Pray against abuses of power.
Then King David went in and sat before the LORD...2 Samuel 7:18
What follows after this text is a great prayer, a prayer I’ve heard over the years. It’s a prayer of praise and worship and gratefulness. But it came from a man who was desperately seeking God. He sat before the LORD. I’m not sure what that means precisely but it implies that he just waited. I can see in my mind’s eye a man sitting in the presence of true greatness waiting to hear wisdom and truth.
It’s a simple thing really, to wait for the LORD. Certainly David prayed, but I suspect that he did more waiting than praying. Of course I don’t know that for a fact but based on his previous encounters in worship and dancing, he was giving it all he had. He seemed to be spiritually in tuned with God (remember he gave up the ark of the LORD for three months because someone in his party had touched the ark).
We all know that sitting in the LORD’s presence is worthwhile. We know benefits us in ways we don’t even know, and yet it’s very difficult for us to do. Perhaps we’re expecting too much of ourselves. Maybe we fail because we think that we could never sit in His presence for an hour or more. Who says we have to do that?
Try it for two minutes, then five minutes, then ten. The more we practice it, the easier it becomes.
He’ll wait with us.
David was afraid of the LORD that day and said, "How can the ark of the LORD ever come to me?" He was not willing to take the ark of the LORD to be with him in the City of David. Instead, he took it aside to the house of Obed-Edom the Gittite. The ark of the LORD remained in the house of Obed-Edom the Gittite for three months, and the LORD blessed him and his entire household. 2 Samuel 6:9-10
I read these verses and I am struck by one phrase: "David was afraid of the LORD." David had a sense of awe and fear of the Lord. It seems to be missing today in leadership and among the people. We don't fear consequences for our actions; we don't fear the wrath of God when we dishonor his name; we're not afraid of God anymore. Granted, we are in an age of Grace, and God's not One to "zap" us every time we sin. Still, though, the reverent fear we in the West once had seems to have departed. This should concern us, because we have to ask, "why don't we have that fear anymore?"
Many of our persecuted Brothers and Sisters seem to have that fear and reverence. They know that worshiping and meeting together is illegal in their nation, so the things they do ought to matter.
Praying matters. Meeting together matters. Reading Scripture matters. Worshiping and humbling yourself before Almighty God matters. We can certainly learn from their eagerness and desire to serve God. Likewise, we can help them with our prayers. Our prayers may make the difference between life and death. Literally.
David again brought together out of Israel chosen men, thirty thousand in all. …David and the whole house of Israel were celebrating with all their might before the LORD, with songs and with harps, lyres, tambourines, sistrums and cymbals. 2 Samuel 6:1, 5
David loved to celebrate before the Lord! I don't even know what sistrums are, but he used them.
I can see it now, 30,000 men dancing and singing and playing all of those instruments. As a harpist himself, David probably led the entire worship team. He had wars to fight, enemies to conquer, an entire Kingdom to rule, but he took the time to worship. It's very clear how we can apply this to our frantic lives.
But there's another little phrase that we can't overlook: "with all their might." Sometimes we just need to get caught up into worship, just let it all go, forgetting that there are others around us, forgetting that you're dignified and proper. It may be in private or it may be when the church is full, but we need to do it. How often we do it is entirely up to you, but sometimes we just need to "let 'er rip."
so David inquired of the LORD, "Shall I go and attack the Philistines? Will you hand them over to me?"
The LORD answered him, "Go, for I will surely hand the Philistines over to you."
So David inquired of the LORD, and he answered, "Do not go straight up, but circle around behind them and attack them in front of the balsam trees. As soon as you hear the sound of marching in the tops of the balsam trees, move quickly, because that will mean the LORD has gone out in front of you to strike the Philistine army." So David did as the LORD commanded him, and he struck down the Philistines all the way from Gibeon to Gezer. 2 Samuel 5:19, 23,25
'So David inquired of the LORD' is written twice, and 'David did as the LORD commanded him' is recorded once in 6 verses. David asked, then obeyed. It's a simple principle for us to learn but very difficult to put into motion. We ask and ask and ask, but when the Lord tells us something to do, we question and make up 1001 excuses why we should do it the way we think it should be done.
There's probably one thing now that each of us are inquiring of the Lord. We're asking and seeking and knocking. Actually, it's more like we're begging and pleading and cajoling. But we keep asking. You have probably heard it said, but "be careful what you ask for, you just might get it."
Our challenge is to obey even – no, especially – if we don't like what we hear. He's given us the means and the ability, we just need to do it.
David then took up residence in the fortress and called it the City of David. He built up the area around it, from the supporting terraces inward. And he became more and more powerful, because the LORD God Almighty was with him. 2 Samuel 5:9-10
David had just conquered the fortress of Zion, where the Jebusites lived. He made it his base. Second Samuel tells us that David was becoming more and more powerful because the Lord was with him. It certainly is an important point to note because without the Lord, David was nothing. It would be very easy for King David to forget that. He had everything going for him as a king. And he was gaining power.
It's the same for us. Without the Lord, we are nothing. It's often difficult for us in the West to hear that because we like thinking that we can do things on our own. God gives us talents and gifts to do those things, but ultimately He gets the glory. We need to be reminded of this early and often.
Now Recab and Baanah, the sons of Rimmon the Beerothite, set out for the house of Ish-Bosheth, and they arrived there in the heat of the day while he was taking his noonday rest. They went into the inner part of the house as if to get some wheat, and they stabbed him in the stomach. Then Recab and his brother Baanah slipped away. 2 Samuel 4:5-6
Ish-Bosheth was a frightened man because of what had happened to Abner, his military commander. Two of his enemies knew that and devised a plan to kill him. Later they took Ish-Bosheth's head to King David expecting to be rewarded. Instead David killed them on the spot because they had killed an innocent man.
It's not often that we in the West see instant justice. It takes a long time for the justice system to work here. It works (some might take issue with that), but it's a long process. Victims and perpetrators must wait for months or years before their case comes to court.
Pray for the officials in the Department of Justice. Pray that what they do will be honorable and fair. Due process in our system works and is what separates our system with those of Banana Republics. Pray that the Attorney General and the people on his staff will uphold the law in every case they oversee. And of course, pray for their souls.
When Ish-Bosheth son of Saul heard that Abner had died in Hebron, he lost courage, and all Israel became alarmed. 2 Samuel 4:1
Ish-Bosheth reigned over Israel for two years. Second Samuel tells that he lost his courage when he heard that his commander died. What happened next, even though only five words in English, should be a warning to all leaders: your people expect you to remain calm in the face of adversity. If a leader panics and the people see that, they become panicky as well. They figure, rightly or wrongly, if the leader is that concerned, so should we.
In the next few days, watch your leaders carefully. Most, if not all, are even keeled. When President George W. Bush was in office during the tragic events of 9-11, when you saw his face, you knew that something was very wrong. You didn't know exactly what happened, but you knew something was amiss. Leaders don't often show a lot of emotion, but when they do it has meaning. They like to give the perception that everything is fine.
Pray for the President and Congress that they will seek God now and when they are in the midst of crises.
So David went up [to Hebron] with his two wives, Ahinoam of Jezreel and Abigail, the widow of Nabal of Carmel. David also took the men who were with him, each with his family, and they settled in Hebron and its towns. Then the men of Judah came to Hebron and there they anointed David king over the house of Judah.
When David was told that it was the men of Jabesh Gilead who had buried Saul, he sent messengers to the men of Jabesh Gilead to say to them, "The LORD bless you for showing this kindness to Saul your master by burying him. May the LORD now show you kindness and faithfulness, and I too will show you the same favor because you have done this. Now then, be strong and brave, for Saul your master is dead, and the house of Judah has anointed me king over them." 2 Samuel 1:2-7
Despite David's problems with Saul, he was grateful for those who actually buried Saul. David was clearly cut from a different cloth, so to speak. He took a strong stand against any who opposed the King, and brought blessing to those who honored the King. He could have just ignored the issue, but he made it a point to call out those who would normally never get the credit.
Being grateful for the little (and not so little) things is an important part of the Christian walk. Those reading this devotional are probably grateful men and women. You're grateful for the little things in life. But you don't get a lot of credit. Despite what the world says, you are doing what's right. You are walking step by step with Christ and He sees your faithfulness. The world will not recognize it as such and may mock you for it. Hang in there. Keep at it. Continue to show your gratitude and thankfulness for what you've been brought through. As the Scriptures say, "your labor is not in vain."