August 20, 2011 Devotion Sharing

Submitted by Eunice Kim, Gracepoint Riverside

I felt like this week’s DTs were a study in contrast between David and his worldview and several other characters and their worldviews: the Amalekite who brings David the news of Saul’s death, Abner, Ish-Bosheth, Joab, Baanah and Recab.

The other characters’ actions reveal a worldview where ultimately God and His values are foreign and irrelevant to them.  They held a common view of power, and the assumption that life is about securing and advancing one’s own life through efforts to manipulate circumstances and people.  I was once again struck by how profoundly the Bible paints portraits of people in a brief chapter and captures their approach to life and the consequences of such a view of reality.

I could see myself and my default self-centered worldview in these portraits.  This was absolutely the kind of worldview I had growing up, beneath the superficial layer of courtesy and morals I was taught – that life was about securing my advantage in every situation.  I assumed that everyone else operated that way as well.  The Amalekite in 2 Samuel 1 and the raiders, Baanah and Recab, operated under the assumption that David would be pleased with their actions, that they would be rewarded for participating in the deaths of David’s opponents.  How shocked they must have been when David administers justice for their actions, and in the case of the Amalekite, grieves for the deaths of Saul and Jonathan.

Joab and Abner struck me as very similar.  They are both battle-hardened generals, clearly accustomed to being in positions of power.  Though they have both demonstrated loyalty to their leaders (Abner to Saul and his house, and Joab to David) over years and many battles, they demonstrate that in the end, they would do what they think best for themselves.  And just because Joab was loyal to David, it didn’t necessarily mean that Joab shared the values and faith of David.  It is interesting how Abner cites God’s promises regarding David becoming king after he becomes disgusted with Ish-Bosheth and decides to help David.  This shows that Abner was aware of God’s promises the whole time he was serving Saul, and when he placed Ish-Bosheth on the throne, but only when it became convenient to himself and his fortunes does he decide to cite these promises and act in a way that is aligned with God’s words.  For Abner, although he assumed he was a main player in the whole power struggle between Saul and David, he comes to an unexpected and tragic death, and it becomes clear that the reality was he had no real power or control.  This is true for all of us – that although we may assume that we have power to make decisions and assert our will on circumstances and people, we will ultimately be brought to reality that we really have no power.  All their assumptions and calculations about what would be to their advantage were proven wrong.

I felt like the portraits of these men were a warning to me, that loyalty to the people of God and knowledge of the word of God is not enough in my life.  What really matters in the end is whether that basic, self-centered worldview of my life and what will be to my advantage has been overthrown, and whether I have truly submitted myself and my life to God’s will.  I can see a picture of what this looks like in David’s reactions and decisions in these chapters.

2 Samuel 5:12 And David knew that the LORD had established him as king over Israel and had exalted his kingdom for the sake of his people Israel.

2 Samuel 3:39b May the LORD repay the evildoer according to his evil deeds!

These verses illustrate David’s understanding that God is in control, and God is the judge.  Because of this, David understood that the kingship and his success were not for himself and his own ego, but that it was a part of God’s greater will that He was accomplishing.  I need to correctly locate my life within God’s greater will, and understand that I need to align myself with the reality of what God’s will is. My small dreams for myself and my ego will by nature be swept aside, just like it was for all these characters, because reality is all about God’s will.

Submitted by Gary Chang, Gracepoint Davis

One thing from this week’s DT that really struck me was in 2 Samuel 2 when even after Saul is dead David was still inquiring the Lord regarding what he should do.  And we see David in 2 Samuel 5 inquiring the Lord as king regarding whether he should go and attack the Philistines.  This picture of David’s humbly submitting himself before God and waiting on God is an important reminder to me of the kind of posture that I should always have before God as a minister, and it stands in contrast to the other people from this past week’s DT.

If there was one thing the Amalekite from Chapter 1, Abner, Joab and Baanah and Recab have in common, it was that they were not people who seek and inquire the Lord, but people who take matters into their own hands.  The Amalekite, Baanah and Recab may be just despicable opportunists who sought to seize upon some opportunity and twist it toward their favor.  To that end, the Amalekite killed the Lord’s anointed and Baanah and Recab murdered an innocent person in his home in cold blood.  Abner and Joab may have been brilliant military commanders and men of high status, but they were not much different in this regard.  Abner, as the DT question points out, just unilaterally decided to make Ish-Bosheth king in disregard and rebellion against God’s will in anointing David as the next king.  And Joab just decided to take matters into his own hands to carry out his revenge against Abner, and he too ended up committing murder and was cursed by David.  We see the ways these five men sought to take control of their lives, to provide and secure for themselves, and to do things as they saw fit. And we see the disastrous outcome of their decisions and actions, almost as if to say, “Such is the outcome of those who in disregard of God lean on their own understanding to do whatever they they think is best and wise.”
In contrast to them we see David who inquires God and awaits his instructions.  He did not let the change in his circumstances to change his relationship with God.  Unlike Saul, David had a clear sense of understanding that it was the Lord who anointed him, and it was the Lord who had established him king over Israel, for the sake of his people Israel.  David was able to maintain the clear sense of understanding that he is just an instrument in the hand of God “for the sake of the people Israel,” despite the fact that his position and title is king.
In my life this has direct application to me in being a minister, as I am called to follow the way of David and not become someone who thinks much of himself and just take matters into his own hands.  As here in Davis my role of service and level of responsibilities have increased, it is very important that I do not let the change of my circumstances to affect my relationship with God or my view of myself.  Knowing that I am like Saul, I can see that this can get to my head and cause me to start thinking much of myself.  But David gives me the important reminder that I am just a servant and an instrument of the Lord whom He has decided to use, and truth is that He can use anybody to do His work.  It is God who rescued me from a life of atheism, set me free from sinful habits that once enslaved me, nurtured me and raised me through this church, trained me up and placed in my life many older spiritual role models from whom I was able to learn and emulate.  It is God who brought me to Taiwan and allowed me to serve there and experience what I experienced.  It is God who has now brought me here to Davis and who has given me the newer responsibilities and greater entrustment.  God is the one in the background of my life moving and directing my trajectory and directions.  What’s it all for?  It would be a terrible mistake for me to think that it’s for my own advancement or because of my own righteousness.  No, it is for the sake of His lost children in this world who do not know Him yet.  And so my attitude toward ministry has to be one of humbly seeking Him and inquiring Him and the older, wiser spiritual leaders in my life, and never think that I don’t need to lean on God and that I know better and can just make the decisions on my own.
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