Proverbs 14

“In the fear of the LORD one has strong confidence, and his children will have a refuge” (v26).  The proverbs teach us that we can have “strong confidence” in God and His Word; when we “fear” Him – trust, honor, and obey Him – we build a sturdy, safe foundation for our families which will last through storms (v1).  Following God involves our hearts as much as our actions.  We are warned against being a “backslider of heart” (v14), having a “quick temper” (v17), or letting envy destroy us (v30).

“A tranquil heart gives life to the flesh” (v30). We can live in peace, regardless of our circumstances, when we walk in close fellowship with Jesus. 

II Samuel 24

“I have sinned greatly in what I have done … I have done very foolishly” (v10).  While the text says that the Lord “incited” David to take a census of the people, the implication is that God was already angry because Israel was not trusting in Him (v1).  David’s general, Joab, warned against the census, because it reflected a desire to control and calculate the people, rather than trust in God’s favor on Israel (v3).  Despite the warning, David commanded the census and immediately felt guilty.

“For His mercy is great” (v14). Putting our hope in anything but God – our money, our accomplishments, or ourselves – is idolatry. Yet He is merciful and teaches us to trust Him (16-25).   

II Samuel 23

“When one rules justly over men, ruling in the fear of God, he dawns on them like the morning light …” (v3-4).  David’s last words contrast the prosperity of a good kingdom with its opposite: “worthless men” who bring destruction on everyone (v6-7).  David led Israel with the help of “mighty men,” loyal warriors who were unusually courageous (v8-39).  These men kept fighting after they were exhausted, jumped into pits with lions, and stood their ground when everyone else ran away (v9).  Their actions helped all Israel succeed.

“And the Lord worked a great victory” (v10, 12). We each have a crucial part to play in God’s work; the victory is His, yet we get to share in it. 

II Samuel 22

"The LORD is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer, my God, my rock, in whom I take refuge” (v2).  David’s famous song, also recorded in Psalm 18, reflects the important legacy he left for God’s people. A flawed, human hero who nearly self-destructed, David sang about God’s amazing salvation. “The snares of death confronted me; in my distress, I called upon the Lord … He bowed the heavens and came down …He rescued me from my strong enemy” (v7-18). 

“He is a shield for all those who take refuge in Him” (v31).  David’s psalms teach us most of all to trust in God’s character.  Even when we fail, we can take refuge in His kindness and His strength. 

II Samuel 21

“There is bloodguilt on Saul and on his house, because he put the Gibeonites to death" (v1).  King Saul had slaughtered the Gibeonites without just cause, and the crime had never been resolved either spiritually or socially.  God declared that the famine in Israel was linked to this unresolved guilt. Tragically, in accordance with the tribal justice of the time, seven of Saul’s sons, as family representatives, were handed over to the Gibeonites for punishment.  Only then was the bloodguilt lifted. 

“How shall I make atonement?” (v3).  Praise God, we do not carry the weight of our own guilt. Jesus, representing the whole human family before the Father, made atonement for us.

Psalm 68

“God shall arise; His enemies shall be scattered!” (v1). This victory song urges us to lift our voices in praise of Him who “rides through the desert” and conquers His enemies. Who is this triumphant King? He is the “Father of the fatherless and protector of widows” (v5). The humble people of the earth rejoice when God wins because He fights against injustice, evil, and suffering; He “settles the solitary in a home; He leads out the prisoners to prosperity” (v6). 

“Blessed be the Lord, who daily bears us up; God is our salvation (v19).  We welcome God’s reign in our lives because He brings forgiveness, goodness, and wholeness – salvation.

Acts 16:6-40

“About midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the prisoners were listening to them” (v25).  Paul and Silas had seen many people to come to Christ in Philippi, yet their efforts had resulted in them being viciously beaten and thrown in prison.  Amazingly, they spent that time praying and singing, completely confident that God was in control of the situation.  Their faith was the same, whether they were in prison or had been miraculously by an angel.

“What must I do to be saved?” (v30).  The jailer desired the authentic faith he saw in Paul and Silas. In challenging times, our trust in God proclaims that Jesus is real and alive in us. 

Acts 16:1-5

“Paul wanted Timothy to accompany him, and he took him and circumcised him because of the Jews who were in those places …” (v3).  As Paul and Timothy traveled around preaching the gospel, they also visited new churches, communicating the “decisions” made by the Jerusalem elders (v4).  One surprising decision stated that Gentile Christians did not need to be circumcised (Acts 15).  Timothy, therefore, did not become circumcised to obey the Law, but to make the spreading of the gospel easier among Jewish people (v3). 

“The church …increased in numbers daily” (v5).  We are called to live sacrificially not because it saves us, but for the sake of those who don’t yet know Christ.

II Samuel 20

“I am one of those who are peaceable and faithful in Israel. You seek to destroy a city that is a mother in Israel” (20:19).  The “wise woman” of the Israelite town of Abel refused to let her community be destroyed in the hunt for one man.  Joab’s army had besieged the town because they knew Sheba son of Bichri had hidden there, the man opposing King David’s new, united rule.  The “wise woman” rejected Sheba and his attempt to claim her town and gave him up to Joab.

One destructive, manipulative character can destroy the peace of an entire faithful community. Like the “wise woman,” we are called to be on guard against those who would foment conflict and “swallow up or destroy” the righteous (v20).     

II Samuel 19

"You have today covered with shame the faces of all your servants, who have this day saved your life and the lives of your sons and your daughters …” (v5).  Joab told King David that thousands of men had put their lives on the line to restore David to the throne, and yet, consumed with private grief, David was ignoring them.  He was treating their sacrifice as if it were nothing. Joab challenged him to “arise” (v7) and acknowledge those who had fought for him.

By neglecting his loyal friends, David risked repeating the mistake that drove Absalom away.  Instead of denial, passive resistance, or neglect, wisdom urges us to act courageously, to “go out and speak kindly” (v7).

II Samuel 18

“For the LORD had ordained to defeat the good counsel of Ahithophel” (v14).  Absalom had orchestrated a coup against his father, King David, and he had many loyal friends and experienced advisors on his side.  However, Absalom ignored Ahithophel’s good advice in favor of Hushai’s strategy, not knowing that Hushai was a double agent, loyal to David, and his “strategy” would lead to David’s victory.  Absalom missed the bigger picture, which was God’s plan.

“Shall we do as he says?” (v6).  Strategy, goal-setting, and good advice are good tools, but they will all fail unless our priority is loyalty to the Lord and obedience to His voice.

II Samuel 17

“For the LORD had ordained to defeat the good counsel of Ahithophel” (v14).  Absalom had orchestrated a coup against his father, King David, and he had many loyal friends and experienced advisors on his side.  However, Absalom ignored Ahithophel’s good advice in favor of Hushai’s strategy, not knowing that Hushai was a double agent, loyal to David, and his “strategy” would lead to David’s victory.  Absalom missed the bigger picture, which was God’s plan.

“Shall we do as he says?” (v6).  Strategy, goal-setting, and good advice are good tools, but they will all fail unless our priority is loyalty to the Lord and obedience to His voice.

Psalm 67

“May God be gracious to us and bless us and make his face to shine upon us, Selah; that your way may be known on earth, your saving power among all nations” (v1-2).  God’s intention was always that the “nations” – all the peoples of the earth – would know His “saving power.”  God’s blessing on Israel was designed to demonstrate His loving, gracious character; Israel was chosen to reflect the glorious light of God’s presence.  Ultimately, God wants to be King over “all the ends of the earth” (v7).

“Let all the peoples praise you!” (v3). We are called to reflect God’s light, spreading the word of His “saving power” so that all the earth will praise Him.  

Acts 15:29-41

“And there arose a sharp disagreement, so that they separated from each other” (v39).  Paul and Barnabas disagreed over John Mark’s inclusion in their ministry team.  Unlike the debate about Gentiles, this was not a doctrinal issue, but instead a subjective pastoral issue.  Not able to come to consensus, the men separated.  Scripture never tells us who was “right,” though in his letters, Paul mentions both Mark and Barnabas positively (1 Tim 4:11; 1 Cor 9:6).

“Paul thought best …” (v38).  Sometimes our “best” thinking does not produce agreement on secondary issues.  In these cases, we can still focus on the gospel, speak positively about each other, and allow God to work.

Acts 15:1-28

“The apostles and the elders were gathered together to consider this matter” (v6).  In this chapter, the early church dealt with disagreements about foreigners (Gentiles), circumcision, keeping the law and salvation.   The church deliberated by debate (v7), listening to Scripture (v15), listening to the witness of apostles (v7), common sense thinking (v12) and general consensus (25).  In doing so, they made a decision that “seemed good to us and the Holy Spirit” (28).

“It seemed good to us, having come to one accord…” (v25). There will always be disagreements, but wisdom prevails when we listen to the Holy Spirit through all the ways He speaks to us.

II Samuel 16

“And the king, and all the people who were with him, arrived weary at the Jordan” (14). When the coup against David succeeded, friends and counselors chose sides; Ittai and Hushai were faithful to the king, and Ahithophel chose Absalom (ch 15). Old grudges were revealed as Saul’s clan regarded the conflict as just desserts (16:8).  Others began jostling for position, or, like Ziba, used the chaos for personal advancement (v4).  Having fled in haste, David found safety by the Jordan River, and “there he refreshed himself” (v14).

“… whom should I serve?” (v19).  Lack of trust and conflicting loyalties can exhaust us.  Peace and wisdom, real “refreshing,” is found in God’s presence.

II Samuel 15

“So Absalom stole the hearts of the men of Israel.” (6)  Absalom campaigned to overthrow his father, forcing King David to flee Jerusalem.  The consequences of David’s own sins and unreconciled relationships were coming home to roost. Realizing that symbols wouldn’t protect him, David told the priests that the ark of God should stay in Jerusalem; only God’s grace could save him. “If I find favor in the eyes of the LORD, he will bring me back” (25).

“Let Him do to me what seems good to Him” (v26). When we face the consequences of sin, there is no option but to throw ourselves upon God’s mercy.  He can and will redeem our lives.

II Samuel 13:23-14:33

“The word of my lord the king will set me at rest” (v17). After Absalom took revenge on Amnon (for raping Tamar), his father David exiled him for 3 years. During that time, King David neither forgave Absalom nor punished him.  Joab sent a wise woman to incite David to reconcile with Absalom, challenging David to “discern good and evil.” (v14:17).  In response, David brought Absalom home but still isolated him for two years (v28). David’s inability to forgive or deal with Absalom deepened the chasm in the family. 

Sin and all the conflicts it produces must be faced, not ignored. God calls us to act with wisdom and courage in order to set things right.

II Samuel 13:1-22

“And Amnon was so tormented that he made himself ill because of his sister Tamar…” (v2). David’s sins of lust and violence were mirrored in his family.   Amnon was “tormented” (v2) by lust and “violated” (v14) his half-sister Tamar.  Amnon’s aggression and the inaction of David (he merely gets “angry,” v21) lead to a great rift in the family, as Absalom nurses his anger and plots revenge (v22).

“Do not do this outrageous thing” (v12). Sin is more than an individual issue.  What we do or don’t do affects those around us, sometimes for generations. To flee sin is to bless our families and communities.

Psalm 66

“We went through fire and through water; yet you have brought us out to a place of abundance” (v12). In recalling what God had done in his life, the psalmist was fortified to continue to pray and worship.  His God had never let him down, and through every experience God had eventually brought him “to a place of abundance.”  He was eager to tell his story to others: “Come and hear, all you who fear God, and I will tell what he has done for my soul” (v16).

“Come and see what God has done …” (v5).  God’s wonderful work in the past gives us hope that He is still with us and will deliver us again.