April 24, 2015

II Samuel 17-19
Next Ahithophel advised Absalom, “Let me handpick twelve thousand men and go after David tonight. I’ll come on him when he’s bone tired and take him by complete surprise.... But then Absalom said, “Call in Hushai the Arkite—let’s hear what he has to say.”  So Hushai came and Absalom put it to him, “This is what Ahithophel advised. Should we do it? What do you say?”  Hushai said, “The counsel that Ahithophel has given in this instance is not good. You know your father and his men, brave and bitterly angry—like a bear robbed of her cubs. And your father is an experienced fighter; you can be sure he won’t be caught napping at a time like this... Here’s what I’d advise: Muster the whole country, from Dan to Beersheba, an army like the sand of the sea, and you personally lead them.... Absalom and all his company agreed that the counsel of Hushai the Arkite was better than the counsel of Ahithophel. (God had determined to discredit the counsel of Ahithophel so as to bring ruin on Absalom.)...

Then Hushai told the priests Zadok and Abiathar,... send this message as quickly as possible to David:...  When the coast was clear, Ahimaaz and Jonathan...went on to make their report to King David, “Get up and cross the river quickly; Ahithophel has given counsel against you!”  David and his whole army were soon up and moving and crossed the Jordan... 

When Ahithophel realized that his counsel was not followed, he saddled his donkey and left for his hometown. After making out his will and putting his house in order, he hanged himself and died. He was buried in the family tomb.

Absalom had made Amasa head of the army, replacing Joab.... David organized his forces.... Then David deployed his troops, a third under Joab, a third under Abishai son of Zeruiah, Joab’s brother, and a third under Ittai the Gittite...Then the king ordered Joab and Abishai and Ittai, “Deal gently for my sake with the young man Absalom.” The whole army heard what the king commanded the three captains regarding Absalom....

The army of Israel was beaten badly there that day by David’s men, a terrific slaughter—twenty thousand men!... Absalom ran into David’s men, but was out in front of them riding his mule, when the mule ran under the branches of a huge oak tree. Absalom’s head was caught in the oak and he was left dangling between heaven and earth, the mule running right out from under him. A solitary soldier saw him and reported it to Joab, “I just saw Absalom hanging from an oak tree!”
Joab said to the man who told him, “If you saw him, why didn’t you kill him then and there? I’d have rewarded you with ten pieces of silver and a fancy belt.”  The man told Joab, “Even if I’d had a chance at a thousand pieces of silver, I wouldn’t have laid a hand on the king’s son. We all heard the king command you and Abishai and Ittai, ‘For my sake, protect the young man Absalom.’ Why, I’d be risking my life, for nothing is hidden from the king. And you would have just stood there!”
Joab said, “I can’t waste my time with you.” He then grabbed three knives and stabbed Absalom in the heart while he was still alive in the tree; by then Absalom was surrounded by ten of Joab’s armor bearers; they hacked away at him and killed him...They took Absalom, dumped him into a huge pit in the forest, and piled an immense mound of rocks over him.
Meanwhile the whole army of Israel was in flight, each man making his own way home.

Ahimaaz, Zadok’s son, said, “Let me run to the king and bring him the good news that God has delivered him from his enemies.” But Joab said, “You’re not the one to deliver the good news today; some other day, maybe, but it’s not ‘good news’ today.” (This was because the king’s son was dead.) Then Joab ordered a Cushite, “You go. Tell the king what you’ve seen.”...Ahimaaz son of Zadok kept at it, begging Joab... “Okay,” said Joab, “run.” So Ahimaaz ran, taking the lower valley road, and passed the Cushite.

David was sitting between the two gates.... Then Ahimaaz called out and said to the king, “Peace!”... The king asked, “But is the young man Absalom all right?”  Ahimaaz said, “I saw a huge ruckus just as Joab was sending me off, but I don’t know what it was about.”... Then the Cushite arrived and said, “Good news, my master and king! God has given victory today over all those who rebelled against you!”  “But,” said the king, “is the young man Absalom all right?” And the Cushite replied, “Would that all of the enemies of my master the king and all who maliciously rose against you end up like that young man.”

The king was stunned. Heartbroken, he went up to the room over the gate and wept. As he wept he cried out, O my son Absalom, my dear, dear son Absalom!Why not me rather than you, my death and not yours, O Absalom, my dear, dear son!...

The day’s victory turned into a day of mourning as word passed through the army, “David is grieving over his son.” The army straggled back to the city that day demoralized, dragging their tails. And the king held his face in his hands and lamented loudly,

But in private Joab rebuked the king: “Now you’ve done it—knocked the wind out of your loyal servants who have just saved your life, to say nothing of the lives of your sons and daughters, wives and concubines. What is this—loving those who hate you and hating those who love you? Your actions give a clear message:... Get hold of yourself; get out there and put some heart into your servants! I swear to God that if you don’t go to them they’ll desert; not a soldier will be left here by nightfall. And that will be the worst thing that has happened yet.”

Meanwhile, the whole populace was now complaining to its leaders, “Wasn’t it the king who saved us time and again from our enemies, and rescued us from the Philistines? And now he has had to flee the country on account of Absalom. And now this Absalom whom we made king is dead in battle. So what are you waiting for? Why don’t you bring the king back?”  ...

David captured the hearts of everyone in Judah. They were unanimous in sending for the king: “Come back, you and all your servants.”  So the king returned. He arrived at the Jordan just as Judah reached Gilgal on their way to welcome the king and escort him across the Jordan.... Shimei son of Gera bowed deeply in homage to the king as soon as he was across the Jordan and said, “Don’t think badly of me, my master! Overlook my irresponsible outburst on the day my master the king left Jerusalem—...Abishai son of Zeruiah interrupted, “Enough of this! Shouldn’t we kill him outright? Why, he cursed God’s anointed!”  But David said, “What is it with you sons of Zeruiah? Why do you insist on being so contentious? Nobody is going to be killed today. I am again king over Israel!”

Next Mephibosheth grandson of Saul arrived from Jerusalem to welcome the king... Here’s my decision: You and Ziba divide the property between you.”  Mephibosheth said, “Oh, let him have it all! All I care about is that my master the king is home safe and sound!”

Barzillai the Gileadite had come down from Rogelim... Barzillai was a very old man—eighty years old! He had supplied the king’s needs all the while he was in Mahanaim since he was very wealthy. “Join me in Jerusalem,” the king said to Barzillai. “Let me take care of you.” But Barzillai declined the offer,... But my servant Kimham here; let him go with you in my place. But treat him well!”...

The whole army of Judah and half the army of Israel processed with the king. The men of Israel came to the king and said, “Why have our brothers, the men of Judah, taken over as if they owned the king,...The men of Judah retorted, “Because the king is related to us, that’s why! But why make a scene? You don’t see us getting treated special because of it, do you?” The men of Israel shot back, “We have ten shares in the king to your one. Besides we’re the firstborn—so why are we having to play second fiddle? It was our idea to bring him back.”
But the men of Judah took a harder line than the men of Israel.

I Corinthians 12 - What I want to talk about now is the various way’s God’s Spirit gets worked into our lives.  This is complex and often misunderstood, but I want you to be informed and knowledgeable....God wants us to use our intelligence, to seek to understand as well as we can.  God’s various gifts are handed out everywhere, but they all originate in God’s Spirit.  God’s various ministries are carried out everywhere but they all originate in God’s Spirit...The variety is wonderful:
Wise counsel           Clear understanding        Simple trust            Healing the sick
Miraculous acts        Proclamation            Distinguish betw. spirits    Tongues
Interpretation of tongues 

You can easily enough see how this kind of thing works by looking no further than your own body.  Your body has many parts...but no matter how many parts you can name, you’re still one body.  It’s exactly the same with Christ.  By means of his one Spirit, we all said good-bye to our partial and piecemeal lives.  We each used to independently call our own shots, but then we entered into a large and integrated life in which he has the final say to everything...the old labels we once used to identify ourselves--the labels like Jew or Greek, slave or free-- are no longer useful.  We need something larger, more comprehensive.

I want you to think how all this makes you more significant, not less.  It is about all the different-but similar parts arranged and functioning together....But I also want you to think about how this keeps your significance from getting blown up into self-importance.  For no matter how significant you are, it is only because of what you are a part of....What we have is one body with many parts, each its proper size and in its proper place.  No part is important on its own....As a matter of fact, in practice, it works in a unique way---  the “lower” the part, the more basic, and therefore, necessary.

The way God designed our bodies is a model for understanding our lives together in the church, every part dependent on every other, the parts we mention, and the parts we don’t, the parts we see, and the parts we don’t.  If one part hurts, every other part is involved in the hurt and the healing.  If one part flourishes, the other parts enter into the exuberance.  

You are Christ’s body.  That is who you are.  You must never forget this.  Only as you accept your part of that body does your “part” mean anything...Christ’s church is a complete Body and not a gigantic unidimensional Part...and yet some of you keep competing for the so-called important parts.  But now I want to lay out a far better way for you.