April 25, 2015

 II Samuel 20-22
Just then a good-for-nothing named Sheba the Benjaminite blew a blast on the ram’s horn trumpet, calling out,  "We’ve got nothing to do with David",....So all the men of Israel deserted David and followed Sheba. But the men of Judah stayed committed, sticking with their king all the way from the Jordan to Jerusalem. 

The king ordered Amasa, “Muster the men of Judah for me in three days; then report in.” Amasa went to carry out his orders, but he was late reporting back. So David told Abishai, “Sheba son of Bicri is going to hurt us even worse than Absalom did. Take your master’s servants and hunt him down before he gets holed up in some fortress city where we can’t get to him.” So under Abishai’s command, all the best men—Joab’s men and the Kerethites and Pelethites—left Jerusalem to hunt down Sheba. 

Joab greeted Amasa, “How are you, brother?” and took Amasa’s beard in his right hand as if to kiss him. Amasa didn’t notice the sword in Joab’s other hand. Joab stuck him in the belly and his guts spilled to the ground. A second blow wasn’t needed; he was dead. Then Joab and his brother Abishai continued to chase Sheba....

Joab’s army arrived and laid siege to Sheba in Abel Beth Maacah. They built a siege-ramp up against the city’s fortification. The plan was to knock down the wall.  But a shrewd woman called out from the city, “Listen, everybody! Please tell Joab to come close so I can talk to him.” When he had come, the woman said, “Are you Joab?”...The woman told Joab, “Sounds good. His head will be tossed to you from the wall  The woman presented her strategy to the whole city and they did it: They cut off the head of Sheba and tossed it down to Joab. He then blew a blast on the ram’s horn trumpet and the soldiers all went home. Joab returned to the king in Jerusalem.

Joab was again commander of the whole army of Israel. 

There was a famine in David’s time. It went on year after year after year—three years. David went to God seeking the reason. God said, “This is because there is blood on Saul and his house, from the time he massacred the Gibeonites.”

So the king called the Gibeonites together for consultation.... Then they told the king, “The man who tried to get rid of us, who schemed to wipe us off the map of Israel—well, let seven of his sons be handed over to us to be executed—hanged before God at Gibeah of Saul, the holy mountain.”  And David agreed, “I’ll hand them over to you.”  The king spared Mephibosheth son of Jonathan, the son of Saul, because of the promise David and Jonathan had spoken before God. But the king selected Armoni and Mephibosheth, the two sons that Rizpah had borne to Saul,... 

Rizpah daughter took rough burlap and spread it out for herself on a rock from the beginning of the harvest until the heavy rains started. She kept the birds away from the bodies by day and the wild animals by night.  David was told what she had done, this Rizpah daughter of Aiah and concubine of Saul. He then went and got the remains of Saul and Jonathan his son from the leaders at Jabesh Gilead.  He gathered up their remains and brought them together with the dead bodies of the seven who had just been hanged. The bodies were taken back to the land of Benjamin and given a decent burial in the tomb of Kish, Saul’s father...  That cleared things up: from then on God responded to Israel’s prayers for the land.

War broke out again between the Philistines and Israel. David and his men went down to fight. David became exhausted.....

David prayed to God the words of this song after God saved him from all his enemies and from Saul.

God is bedrock under my feet, the castle in which I live, my rescuing knight.  My God—the high crag where I run for dear life, hiding behind the boulders, safe in the granite hideout; My mountaintop refuge, he saves me from ruthless men.

I sing to God the Praise-Lofty, and find myself safe and saved.... A hostile world! I called to God, to my God I cried out. From his palace he heard me call; my cry brought me right into his presence—a private audience!...

But me he caught—reached all the way from sky to sea; he pulled me out of that ocean of hate, that enemy chaos, the void in which I was drowning. They hit me when I was down, but God stuck by me. He stood me up on a wide-open field; I stood there saved—surprised to be loved!

God made my life complete when I placed all the pieces before him.  When I cleaned up my act, he gave me a fresh start. Indeed, I’ve kept alert to God’s ways; I haven’t taken God for granted.  Every day I review the ways he works, I try not to miss a trick. I feel put back together, and I’m watching my step.

God rewrote the text of my life when I opened the book of my heart to his eyes.  You stick by people who stick with you, you’re straight with people who’re straight with you, You’re good to good people, you shrewdly work around the bad ones. You take the side of the down-and-out, but the stuck-up you take down a peg.

Suddenly, God, your light floods my path, God drives out the darkness... What a God! His road stretches straight and smooth.  Every God-direction is road-tested.  Everyone who runs toward him makes it....
 
Live, God! Blessing to my Rock, my towering Salvation-God!  This God set things right for me and shut up the people who talked back.  He rescued me from enemy anger.  You pulled me from the grip of upstarts,  You saved me from the bullies. That’s why I’m thanking you, God, all over the world.  That’s why I’m singing songs that rhyme your name.  God’s king takes the trophy; God’s chosen is beloved. I mean David and all his children— always.

I Corinthians 13 -

If I speak with human eloquence and angelic ecstasy but don’t love, I am nothing but the creaking of a rusty gate.  If I speak God’s word with power, revealing all his mysteries and making everything plain as day, and I have faith that says to a mountain, “Jump” and it jumps, but don’t have love, I’m nothing. If I give everything I own to the poor and even go to the stake to be burned as a martyr, but I don’t have love, I’ve gotten no where.  So no matter what I say, what I believe and what I do, I’m bankrupt without love.

Love never gives up.    
Love cares more for others than for self.    
Love doesn’t want what it doesn’t have 
Love doesn’t strut        
Doesn’t have a swelled head            
Doesn’t force itself on others
Isn’t always “me first”    
Doesn’t fly off the handle                
Doesn’t keep score of the sins of others
Puts up with everything    
Doesn’t revel when others grovel        
Trusts God always
Never looks back        
Takes pleasure in the flowering of truth    
Always looks for the best
But keeps going in the end....  LOVE NEVER DIES

 

When I was an infant at my mother’s breast, I gurgled and cooed like an infant.  When I grew up, I left  those infant ways for good.  

We don’t yet see things clearly.  We’re squinting in a fog, peering  through a mist.  But it won’t be long before the weather clears and the sun shines bright!....But for  right now, until that completeness, we have three things to do to lead us toward that consummation:  TRUST STEADILY IN GOD, HOPE UNSWERVINGLY, LOVE EXTRAVAGANTLY.  AND THE BEST OF THE THREE IS LOVE.