April 26, 2015

II Samuel 23-24 -
These are David’s last words:  The voice of the son of Jesse, the voice of the man God took to the top, whom the God of Jacob made king, and Israel’s most popular singer!

God’s Spirit spoke through me, his words took shape on my tongue... The God of Israel spoke to me,  Israel’s Rock-Mountain said,  “Whoever governs fairly and well, who rules in the Fear-of-God, Is like first light at daybreak without a cloud in the sky, Like green grass carpeting earth, glistening under fresh rain.” And this is just how my regime has been, for God guaranteed his covenant with me,  Spelled it out plainly and kept every promised word—

This is the listing of David’s top men. 
Josheb-Basshebeth,...He was chief of the Three. 
Eleazar... was the next of the elite Three. 
Shammah...was the third of the Three. ...

One day during harvest, the Three parted from the Thirty and joined David at the Cave of Adullam. A squad of Philistines had set up camp in the Valley of Rephaim. While David was holed up in the Cave, the Philistines had their base camp in Bethlehem. David had a sudden craving and said, “Would I ever like a drink of water from the well at the gate of Bethlehem!” So the Three penetrated the Philistine lines, drew water from the well at the gate of Bethlehem, and brought it back to David. But David wouldn’t drink it; he poured it out as an offering to God, saying, “There is no way, God, that I’ll drink this! This isn’t mere water, it’s their life-blood—they risked their very lives to bring it!” So David refused to drink it.
This is the sort of thing that the Three did.

Abishai brother of Joab and son of Zeruiah was the head of the Thirty...but he was never named in the same breath as the Three. He was the most respected of the Thirty and was their captain, but never got included among the Three.

Benaiah...was a vigorous man who accomplished a great deal.... But neither did he ever get ranked with the Three. He was held in greatest respect among the Thirty, but he never got included with the Three. David put him in charge of his bodyguard.

 “The Thirty” consisted of:
Asahel brother of Joab, Elhanan;  Shammah; Elika; Helez; Ira son of Ikkesh; Abiezer; Sibbecai; Zalmon; Maharai; Heled; Ithai; Benaiah; Hiddai; Abi-Albon; Azmaveth; Eliahba; Jashen; Jonathan; Ahiam; Eliphelet; Eliam; Hezro; Paarai; Igal; Zelek; Nahari; Ira; Gareb; Uriah. Thirty-seven, all told.

Once again God’s anger blazed out against Israel. He tested David by telling him, “Go and take a census of Israel and Judah.” ... But Joab resisted the king:... Nevertheless, the king insisted, and so Joab and the army officers left the king to take a census of Israel.... Joab gave the results of the census to the king: 800,000 able-bodied fighting men in Israel; in Judah 500,000.

But when it was all done, David was overwhelmed with guilt because he had counted the people, replacing trust with statistics. And David prayed to God,.. “I have sinned badly in what I have just done. But now God forgive my guilt—I’ve been really stupid.”  

When David got up the next morning, the word of God had already come to Gad the prophet, David’s spiritual advisor, “Go and give David this message: ‘God has spoken thus: There are three things I can do to you; choose one out of the three and I’ll see that it’s done.’”  Gad came to deliver the message: “Do you want three years of famine in the land, or three months of running from your enemies while they chase you down, or three days of an epidemic on the country? Think it over and make up your mind. What shall I tell the one who sent me?”  David told Gad, “They’re all terrible! But I’d rather be punished by God, whose mercy is great, than fall into human hands.”

So God let loose an epidemic from morning until suppertime. From Dan to Beersheba seventy thousand people died. But when the angel reached out over Jerusalem to destroy it, God felt the pain of the terror and told the angel who was spreading death among the people, “Enough’s enough! Pull back!”

The angel of God had just reached the threshing floor of Araunah the Jebusite. David looked up and saw the angel hovering between earth and sky, sword drawn and about to strike Jerusalem. David and the elders bowed in prayer and covered themselves with rough burlap. When David saw the angel about to destroy the people, he prayed, “Please! I’m the one who sinned; I, the shepherd, did the wrong. But these sheep, what did they do wrong? Punish me and my family, not them.”

That same day Gad came to David and said, “Go and build an altar on the threshing floor of Araunah the Jebusite.” David did what Gad told him, what God commanded.  Araunah looked up and saw David and his men coming his way; he met them, bowing deeply, honoring the king and saying, “Why has my master the king come to see me?”  “To buy your threshing floor,” said David, “so I can build an altar to God here and put an end to this disaster.”  “Oh,” said Araunah, “let my master the king take and sacrifice whatever he wants. Look, here’s an ox for the burnt offering and threshing paddles and ox-yokes for fuel—Araunah gives it all to the king! And may God, your God, act in your favor.”  But the king said to Araunah, “No. I’ve got to buy it from you for a good price; I’m not going to offer God, my God, sacrifices that are no sacrifice.”

So David bought the threshing floor and the ox, paying out fifty shekels of silver. He built an altar to God there and sacrificed burnt offerings and peace offerings. God was moved by the prayers and that was the end of the disaster.

I Corinthians 14

Go after a life of love as if your life depended on it--because it does.  Give yourselves to the gifts God gives you.  

Most of all, try to proclaim his truth.  

If you praise him in the private language of tongues, God understands you but no one else does, for you are sharing intimacies just between you and him.  But when you proclaim his truth in everyday speech, you’re letting others in on the truth so that they can grow and be strong and experience his presence with you....

I want you all to develop intimacies with God in prayer, but please don’t stop with that.  Go on and proclaim his clear truth to others.  It is more important that everyone have access to the knowledge and love of God in language everyone understands than to go off an cultivate God’s presence in a mysterious prayer language - unless of course, there is someone who can interpret what you are saying for the benefit of all...

If I don’t understand the language, it’s not going to do me much good.  It’s no different with you.  Since you’re so eager to participate in what God is doing, why don’t you concentrate on doing what helps everyone in the church?...

Pray for insight and the ability to bring others into that intimacy....I should be free and expressive as I pray, but I should also be thoughtful and mindful as I pray.....

When I’m in a church assembled for worship, I’d rather say 5 words that everyone can understand and learn from than say 10,000 that sound to others like gibberish.  

To be perfectly frank, I am getting exasperated with your infantile thinking....where does it get you, all this speaking in tongues no one understands?  It doesn’t help believers, and it only gives unbelievers something to gawk at.  Plain truth-speaking, on the other hand, goes straight to the heart of believers and doesn’t get in the way of unbelievers.  

So here is what I want you to do.  

When you gather for worship, each one of you be prepared with something that will be useful for all:  
Sing a hymn, 
teach a lesson, 
tell a story, 
lead a prayer, 
provide an insight...

If prayers are offered in tongues, two or three is the limit...and no more than two or three speakers at a meeting, with the rest of you listening and taking it to heart....

If you choose to speak, you are also responsible for how and when you speak.  When we worship the right way, God doesn’t stir us up into confusion;  he brings us into harmony...

If anyone of you thinks God has something for you to say or has inspired you to do something, pay close attention to what I have written.  

Three things, then, to sum this up:  
- When you speak forth God’s truth, speak your heart out,
- Don’t tell people how they should or shouldn’t pray when they are praying in tongues that u don’t understand,
- Be courteous and considerate in everything