2 Samuel 24 “David Counts the People”

At the end of his life David falls again. As I catch myself thinking “what a stupid move there David” I was immediately convicted. I am just like David. I sin in similar ways (if not worse) over and over and just like David, I find myself confessing and repenting of sins and begging God for mercy.

Thankfully, the Bible doesn’t only show us the sin of David it also tells us about his repentance. It’s good to remember that David didn’t sin and then never deal with it. When David sinned, he also repented (though sometimes not as quickly as he should), and he often repented in big public ways.

Here in 2 Samuel, David numbers the people. Joab tells him it’s a bad move but David moves forward. Something for me to learn there. When others who are around me throw up red flags of caution, I should listen. If David would have stopped and considered the advice of those around him throughout his life he could have avoided so many problems.

Israel had 800,000 valiant men who drew the sword and Judah had 500,000. Together that’s 1.3 million. I wondered how that compares with our military here in the USA and per Wikipedia that’s about the size of our military without the reserves. That’s a big army for them!

What’s the takeaway?

The military was huge! Compare the country size of the USA with Israel. The USA is much larger and yet Israel had roughly the same size military. For that country it would have probably been an obvious fact that their military was very large. Plus, they had won many wars. Plus, they had a warrior as their king. Plus, all those who were David’s closest friends were his “Mighty Men” (i.e. military). It would have been obvious that the military was healthy and the country was blessed by God and it was doing well. Yet, David wanted to number them. David wanted the stats. David wanted the details. This only happens when you desire to boast about something. You never want the details of an event that was embarrassing, but if someone mentions that someone else said something positive about us we cry out “tell me more!” It was a total pride issue. Maybe even along the lines of Nebuchadnezzar “Is this not Babylon the great which I have built” (Daniel 4:30).

Application: I need to be on guard of the same pride when God works in my life or uses me in someone else’s. It is only by His grace and it needs to be for His glory alone, not my own.

The Doctrine of Concurrence
There is also one more important illustration from this chapter and it is the doctrine of Concurrence. Here is a helpful definition of concurrence:

“The doctrine of concurrence affirms that God directs, and works through, the distinctive properties of each created thing, so that these things themselves bring about the results that we see. In this way it is possible to affirm that in one sense events are fully (100 percent) caused by God and fully (100 percent) caused by the creature as well. However, divine and creaturely causes work in different ways. The divine cause of each event works as an invisible, behind-the-scenes, directing cause and therefore could be called the “primary cause” that plans and initiates everything that happens. But the created thing brings about actions in ways consistent with the creature’s own properties [which God unchangeably gave and sustains], ways that can often be described by us or by professional scientists who carefully observe the processes. These creaturely factors and properties can therefore be called the “secondary” causes of everything that happens, even though they are the causes that are evident to us by observation.” (Reference:  Bible Doctrine: Essential Teachings of the Christian Faith, Zondervan, http://www.zonderan.com, 1999, p. 145.)

You can also listen to this message on Concurrence by RC Sproul, click here.

Why is 2 Samuel 24 such a good illustration of this doctrine? Because multiple persons are said to be involved with the act of numbering the people. Here take a look:

God is said to be involved

Now again the anger of the Lord burned against Israel, and it incited David against them to say, “Go, number Israel and Judah.” (2 Samuel 24:1)

Satan is said to be involved

“Then Satan stood up against Israel and moved David to number Israel.” (1 Chronicles 21:)

David is shown to  be responsible

“Nevertheless, the king’s word prevailed against Joab and against the commanders of the army” (2 Samuel 24:4)

“Now David’s heart troubled him after he had numbered the people. So David said to the Lord, “I have sinned greatly in what I have done. But now, O Lord, please take away the iniquity of Your servant, for I have acted very foolishly.”” (2 Samuel 24:10)

“Then David spoke to the Lord when he saw the angel who was striking down the people, and said, “Behold, it is I who have sinned, and it is I who have done wrong; but these sheep, what have they done? Please let Your hand be against me and against my father’s house.”” (2 Samuel 24:17)

So who was is that moved David to number the people? Was is God? Was is Satan? Or was it David? The answer is YES! All three are involved. God had a sovereign plan for David’s good and God’s glory (Rom 8:28, Gen 50:20). Satan wanted to tempt David to sin (Job 1, Matthew 4). David is responsible and decided to sin on his own (Gal 6:4-5, Rom 14:10-12, James 1:12-16).

For more on this issue please see my post on trials and temptations.

Grace to you and peace…

Is This Not Bathsheba?

Sin never affects only us. Whether done in private or in public, sin always spills over and stains the lives of those around us.

When David sinned with Bathsheba (2 Samuel 11) it began with a look, a quick glance. The glance turned into a lustful stare and the stare led to a summons and the next thing you know Bathsheba is pregnant and Uriah, one of Davids Mighty Men, is being murdered.

This sinful chain of events didn’t just affect Bathsheba and Uriah and David. Yes those were three key players but there was a whole slew of people affected. Those who warned David, those who went and called Bathsheba to come to the Palace, those who helped David try to goad Uriah into going home and sleeping with his wife to cover up David’s sin, Joab who had to enforce David’s death wish on Uriah, and the list goes on. Sin is deceptive, it downplays how bad your sin really is.

In this post we are going to examine how David’s sin affected those related to Bathsheba. You see, Bathsheba was part of a very connected family, a family that was deeply involved in David’s government and military. So when David asks who she is, those around him simply drop the names of her family members in hopes that once he hears who she is related to, he will stop his pursuit. Let’s take a look.

“Is this not Bathsheba the daughter of Eliam, the wife of Uriah?” (2 Samuel 11:3)

1) We find out that Bathsheba is the daughter of Eliam. Later in 2 Samuel we find out that Bathsheba’s dad, Eliam, was one of Davids Mighty Men. (2 Samuel 23:34) So Bathsheba’s dad is one of David’s most faithful and trusted men. A warrior. A man who fought for and with David. A man who probably hid and protected David when Saul was pursuing him. At this point, David should have taken a moment to stop and set his mind on things that are true and pure, to put off his lustful thoughts and put on thoughts of purity and righteousness. Red flags should be waving and sirens should be going off alerting him to the danger he is inviting, but they don’t.

We need to learn from David here. Do not be like David in this situation. When others are warning you and your conscience is screaming at you to stop you need to stop. Don’t let sin cloud your thinking. Mortify your sin. Kill your sin before it kills you.

2) According to 2 Samuel 23:34 the father of Eliam is Ahithophel. This makes Ahithophel Bathsheba’s grandfather. Again, red flags, sirens and blinking lights should be going off at this point! Ahithophel was one of Davids closest counselors. It is said of Ahithophel that his counsel was so good it was “as if one inquired of the word of God” (2 Samuel 16:23)

But after the defiling of his granddaughter (Bathsheba) and the murder of his grandson-in law (Uriah), he turns against David and helps support Absalom’s revolt and seeks vengeance against David until the day he dies.

In 2 Samuel‬ ‭16:21‬ ‭Ahithophel seemingly tries to get specific shaming revenge on David and says to Absalom, “Go in to your father’s concubines, whom he has left to keep the house; then all Israel will hear that you have made yourself odious to your father. The hands of all who are with you will also be strengthened.” No doubt Ahithophel is trying to pay David back for what he did to his granddaughter. This also happens to fulfill what God told David would be a consequence for his sin (Samuel 12:9-12)

Ahithophel never gets his revenge and ends up becoming so depressed that he commits suicide. A sad end. David is not first hand responsible for this but he certainly played a part. This is a good reminder that not only does sin blind and cause us to do insanely stupid things but it also causes those we sin against to do things that are foolish and insane. Sin is bitter. Sin is deceptive. Sin is deadly.

3) Uriah, Bathsheba’s husband, was also one of Davids Mighty Men (2 Samuel 23:39). As we saw with Bathsheba’s father Eliam, Uriah was a faithful active duty soldier for David. In fact, while David was lounging around the palace, Uriah was out doing battle for David. And yet David was so blinded by his sin that he takes Uriah’s wife and sleeps with her and ends up killing this faithful and loyal friend. Sin clouds our thinking. Sin is a liar. Sin is a deceiver.

So when they tell David “Is this not Bathsheba the daughter of Eliam, the wife of Uriah?” they are really saying “Isn’t that Bathsheba the granddaughter of Ahithophel your great counselor? And isn’t that Bathsheba the daughter of Eliam one of your Mighty Men who has faithfully stood by you through all these years? And isn’t that Bathsheba the wife of Uriah who is also one of your Mighty Men and who is out fighting in one of your battles this very day?”

It’s startling how blind and stupid lust made David, he was able to ignore all that he knew and all the people who would be hurt who had been so loyal. Sin is so deceptive.

The same thing happens to you and I. Be on guard. Hate sin. Kill sin. As John Owen says “Be killing sin or sin will be killing you.”

Daily Reading Mark 12 & 13

The religious leaders are afraid of the people and what they think (Mark 11:32, 12:12).

But in stark contrast Jesus has this reputation “They came and said to Him, “Teacher, we know that You are truthful and defer to no one; for You are not partial to any, but teach the way of God in truth….” (12:14‬). Jesus was bold for the truth.

12:26 Jesus banks His entire argument on the tense of a word (I AM). This is big evidence for the infallibility and inerrancy of Scripture. Jesus had such a high view of the reliability of Scripture that He took into account not only the accuracy of the words but the tenses of the words.

12:36 “David himself said in the Holy Spirit…” here is evidence of the Inspiration of Scripture. David wrote Psalm 110 “in the Spirit”. See also 2 Peter 1:21.

12:40 don’t be like the Scribes who do religious acts “for appearance sake” – they are like the cursed fig tree in 11:13 which has an appearance of fruit bearing but not a reality.

Chapter 13 Jesus talks about things to come and His future return. Multiple times we are told to “be on you guard” or “take heed” and “be on the alert”. A good reminder for today.

13:31 Jesus says ““Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words will not pass away.” That’s a significant statement. Jesus words are more enduring than creation. That puts His words in the same category as Gods words “The grass withers, the flower fades, But the word of our God stands forever.” ‭‭(Isaiah‬ ‭40:8‬).

Daily Reading: Mark 11

I’ve been slowly reading through the gospel of Mark over the last month or so and decided to start making a record of some of the things I am learning. If you read this I hope you are encouraged and that it spurs you on to study and love the word of God more.

Warning: these are just the observations of a simple man trying to read and apply God’s word to his own heart and life.

Mark 11

Opens with the triumphal entry. The crowds cry out:

“Hosanna!
Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord;
Blessed is the coming kingdom of our father David;
Hosanna in the highest!”

I’ve heard the word Hosanna before but to be honest I’m really not very familiar with it so I went back to a post I wrote a few years ago and found this very helpful explanation from John Piper, “[In the OT] It used to mean, “Save, please!” But gradually, it came to mean, “Salvation! Salvation! Salvation has come!” It used to be what you would say when you fell off the diving board. But it came to be what you would say when you see the lifeguard coming to save you! It is the bubbling over of a heart that sees hope and joy and salvation on the way and can’t keep it in. So “Hosanna!” means, “Hooray for salvation! It’s coming! It’s here! Salvation! Salvation!”And “Hosanna to the Son of David!” means, “The Son of David is our salvation! Hooray for the king! Salvation belongs to the king!”And “Hosanna in the highest!” means, “Let all the angels in heaven join the song of praise. Salvation! Salvation! Let the highest heaven sing the song!” The word moved from plea to praise; from cry to confidence.”

Cursing of the fig tree. Apparently when a fig tree has leaves it also begins bearing fruit. Jesus finds a fig tree with leaves but no fruit. It has the appearance of health and fruit bearing but in reality it is not bearing any fruit so He curses it.

Application: don’t be like the fig tree having only an external appearance with no internal fruit bearing reality

He then goes into the temple and cleanses it. No doubt there is a connection between the fig tree and the temple practices. They have the appearance of worshiping God but no reality.

At the end of the chapter Jesus exposes the religious leaders by asking if John the Baptist was from heaven or from man. They decide to say “We do not know” because they fear the people. This answer still exposes them. If everyone considered John to be a real prophet (v32) and they didn’t recognize that, then how can they recognize if Jesus is from heaven or man? They have disqualified themselves.

 

 

Isaiah 11

Love the opening illustration contrast. In chapter 10 the Assyrian army was like a vast forest that was hewn down when God swung His mighty axe, when He wielded His saw there was nothing left but stumps. With that fresh on our minds chapter 11 opens, “There shall come forth a shoot from the stump of Jesse, and a branch from his roots shall bear fruit.”

V1 – a branch from Jesse. Back in 4:2 there is a reference to the Branch of the LORD. In Zechariah there is also reference to this branch: “I will bring my servant the Branch” (3:8) and “Behold, the man whose name is Branch…”(6:11). The Branch is the Servant, Isaiah will expand this Servant concept later

V2 – Jesus, the Righteous Branch, has the perfect resume to be a ruler. He is everything the King of Assyria is not. He is everything Ahaz wasn’t as well. He is wise and understands all things. He is righteous and good. He rules well and everything and everyone prospers under his leadership. Ray Ortland points out that we often think that Jesus is a very nice person but in real life an incompetent person. We think too highly of ourselves and we think too low of Him. The truth is “all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge are hidden in Christ” (Col 2:3). Jesus is the answer to all of our problems. For proof just look at v6-9 and what happens when He reigns.

V6-9 the future reign of the Messiah is exciting and thrilling. It’s beautiful and interesting. It’s not boring and dull as most people think about when they think of life after death. (I am supposing that since this is describing the reign of Messiah on earth this is a Millennial reference). All things are rejuvenated. All wrongs made right. All social and political problems solved by the righteous reign of King Jesus. Isaiah is not telling us how to solve these problems or when they will be solved, instead he is telling us who is the only one who can solve all our problems.

V6 – a little child will lead them. Back in 10:19 it says that there will be so few Assyrians that a child can write them down. Interesting how a child can be such a great illustration.

V8 again the nursing child used to illustrate the innocence and peace of the reign of the Branch

V. 13–14 Israel and Judah will again be at peace with one another and will be united in serving the Lord and coming together. Strong divisions among God’s people are not eternal, that’s convicting for me, even these 2 are able to reunite.

Don’t Forget…

Deuteronomy 4-6
Don’t forget…

“Only give heed to yourself and keep your soul diligently, so that you do not forget the things which your eyes have seen and they do not depart from your heart all the days of your life; but make them known to your sons and your grandsons.”Deuteronomy‬ ‭4:9‬ 

V10 “remember”

V15 “watch yourselves carefully”

V19 “beware”

V23 “watch yourselves, do not forget”

Reminds me of 1 Timothy 4:16 “pay close attention to yourself and your teaching”

Oftentimes we are more consumed with others and how they are living and what they are teaching, but we are reminded to pay close attention to ourselves, we are to be diligent about our own souls first

Though we are faithless, He is faithful 

“For the LORD your God is a compassionate God; He will not fail you nor destroy you nor forget the covenant with your fathers which He swore to them.”Deuteronomy‬ ‭4:31‬ ‭

Chapter 5

V1 “hear…learn…observe”

V29 – “Oh that they had such a heart in them, that they would fear Me and keep all My commandments always, that it may be well with them and with their sons forever!”

‭‭Notice the motivation – it will “be well with them” it is to their advantage. Obeying God is in my best interest.

Again in chapter 6:3 “O Israel, you should listen and be careful to do it, that it may be well with you and that you may multiply greatly, just as the LORD, the God of your fathers, has promised you, in a land flowing with milk and honey.”

V18 “do what is right…that it may go well with you”

V24 ““So the LORD commanded us to observe all these statutes, to fear the LORD our God FOR OUR GOOD ALWAYS and for our survival, as it is today.”

It is good to obey God

When you are really comfortable and enjoying Gods good and gracious provision be careful – 6:12 “then watch yourself, that you do not forget the LORD who brought you from the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery.” 

Don’t Forget

No Distrust

“No distrust made him waver concerning the promise of God, but he grew strong in his faith as he gave glory to God, fully convinced that God was able to do what he had promised.” (Rom4.20-21)

This is so good. Distrust is at the heart of all unbelief, yet with regard to the promise of having a son, Abraham had no distrust. He did not waver at all but instead grew strong in his faith. I want that. I want a faith that believes God despite my feelings, despite my circumstance. I want to believe and live fully convinced that God is able to do what He has promised.

Think about all of the reasons Abraham had to not believe God, reasons that could have been and probably were a great temptation for him to distrust and disbelieve God. Here are the 2 big temptations from the near context for him not to believe that he would have a son and that he would become the father of many nations :

1. He was old (about 100) and his body was considered as good as dead (v19)

2. Sarah was barren and old (v19)

These are huge factors when trying to conceive a child, and yet these realities did not weaken his faith. He did not distrust God with regard to the promise that they would have a son and Abraham that would be the father of many nations, that’s amazing, that’s convicting.

His old and as good as dead body and her barren womb (which are the two key physical components needed for them to have a son) did not suppress their faith, it increased it! I need faith like like. I want faith like that! If God says something in His word, if He has made a promise, I need to believe against hope, against experience, against feelings, that He will do what He has said He will do. I need to trust God and give Him glory. Great faith gives God great glory! Oh God give me this faith, help my unbelief!