Day 113

2 SAMUEL 16:1 – 18:33 and LUKE 24:1–53

2 Sam 16
Ziba, the chief servant of Mephibosheth, the son of Jonathan is another example of a long line of opportunists. He is someone who looks to exploit divisions to his own personal advantage. His only loyalty in the end is to himself. Here he makes statements against Mephibosheth that are clearly not true. His coming forth with provision for David and his men was only meant to court favor with David in a developing and fluid situation. He was hedging that David would come forth victorious in the end and he was playing his cards accordingly. He then sought to find grace in his sight (vs 1-4).

Our missionary experiences through the years have taught us many lessons. I once read a book by an Indian journalist who undertook a 10 year pilgrimage throughout India who then recorded his findings. In a state where there were heightened tensions between Hindus and Muslims he was able to meet the key leaders of the respective groups. Amazingly he found the two key leaders (1 from the Hindu group and the other from the Muslim group) to be good friends who would meet up periodically. Even more amazing was what they said to the journalist. It was in their interest to keep the two groups fighting with one another. This is how they become viable in their leadership. If you solve the problem and there is peace they then become irrelevant. This is true of some western political groups who advertise themselves as proponents of racial fairness. The truth is they do not really want peace but to ensure there is tension between the differing groups. This gives them a platform and a position. If there is tension and division they rush right in and claim bigotry, unfairness etc. if you solve the problem their platform and legitimacy becomes irrelevant. Race hustling in the USA has become big business. It is a symptom of a worldwide problem. What is that problem? There is no desire for true peace.

Isa 57:21  There is no peace, saith my God, to the wicked.

This is why the Prince of Peace causes such controversy. He upsets the status quo of life and society. If man truly looked after the interests of others there would be fewer areas of contention. Such is not the case in today’s world. The spirit of man and the world is to look out for number one (self). In such an environment you will always have “Ziba” like characters looking to exploit opportunities for personal advantage. Sadly, they do exist in the church.

One of the plagues of sin is the door that it opens up to the enemy. This door can be exploited in a number of ways. We see a man by the name of Shimei who is consumed with mocking and deriding David, stating that the blood shed against the house of Saul is now coming upon David in judgement. David sees clearly that this is something that God is allowing due to his sin. There is an outworking of repentance one is beginning to see in David. It can be seen in the way he responds and views certain situations.

David sees this as an opportunity for God to do a work for good. This is a picture of meekness where one can see the hand of God at work in a difficult situation. On the other hand you have one of the sons of Zeruiah wanting to go and take off the head of Shimei. Abishai has little tolerance and had to be dissuaded by David. He is very much like his brother Joab. They have a zeal that serves a purpose but a zeal that can cross boundaries. It is a dangerous combination. Jehu is a person of excessive zeal that comes to mind.

Hushai, David’s friend and spy meets up with Absalom. He makes the comment, God save the king which causes Absalom to wonder why he had left David. He knew that they shared a close relationship. Hushai was convincing in letting Absalom believe that his allegiance has now changed towards him. He is clever in saying that as I have served your father so will I serve you. His reputation has enabled Hushai to gain the confidence of Absalom. He saw how useful someone like Hushai could be. He parses his words carefully in a way that convinces Absalom that he is with him.

It is here where Ahithophel gives his counsel regarding the going into David’s concubine to further strengthen the morale of those who are with him. Here is a man that once served David faithfully now throwing him totally under the bus. One should not be surprised as to what happens to former close relationships when lines of demarcation are drawn. The separation that will take place in the last days will divide in like manner. Remember, Absalom’s rebellion was very strong. He now has a former close associate of David alongside him whose counsel was if he was enquiring at the oracle of God (vs 23). Sides and alliances have been taken. It will not be much different in our day.

2 Sam 17
Ahithophel now senses that momentum is on his side. He sees the situation with David as being vulnerable and decides to swiftly move in. His counsel is readily acceptable to Absalom and the elders of Israel who have aligned themselves with him. Absalom first wants to hear what Hushai has to say. Once again, this speaks to the reputation of Hushai. Ahithophel has already given his counsel, it was good in Absalom’s eyes but he still wanted to hear from Hushai. His counsel is totally different and it prevailed above Ahitophel’s.

Hushai’s description of David and his army resonated making it clear that they had to approach this issue carefully. They knew of David’s prowess as a fighter when in distress. He and his men have a track record which Hushai would be well aware of. This brought an even higher level of trust between Hushai and Absalom. At the same time it was a crushing blow to Ahithophel. His counsel was not only rejected but it was perceived that it would lead them into a trap. In a mere moment the exalted sense of importance that Ahithophel had has now been destroyed rendering him to a feeling of uselessness.  This was more than he could take.

It is a similar account of what will later be seen with Judas. A man who served the righteous king faithfully for a season turns on him in the end. Like Judas, there had to be an unresolved heart issue that allowed him to gravitate towards the rebellious Absalom. The fleeting fruits of betrayal are not long lived. He went to his home, put his things in order and then hung himself. What a tragic and sad end. How dangerous the harbouring of an offense or a seed of bitterness can be. The offense became activated at the usurping actions of Absalom. Are we capable of responding to an antichrist spirit when it comes on the scene? An unattended offense can lay dormant for a long period of time to the point we think it to not be a problem. All it takes is an “activation moment” to light the fuse. Judas was a thief and seemed to be able to manage it up to the time when Satan entered into him (John 13:27). We cannot play with fire; we must allow the Lord to remove and destroy those little foxes that hide for a time but can come alive at any moment (Songs 2:15). It is a very sad and tragic end for a man who once walked alongside David.

After Hushai had gained the favor of Absalom he shared with Zadok and Abiathar all that had transpired (vs 15). He counsels that David be told to not lodge in the plains of the wilderness but to speedily pass over. We see some of the kindnesses that David extended in the past paying dividends as he and his men came unto Mahanaim. The Lord is gracious in providing food, drink and rest in the midst of this conflict with Absalom.

2 Sam 18
Just like when he was in Ziklag a mighty army began to assemble under David. Though David had sinned and is now suffering under its consequences he has responded properly which is allowing God to work on His behalf. He gives instructions to Joab and Abishai as well as to Ittai the Gittite. David even wanted to go to war with them but was wisely restrained knowing that he was worth at least 10,000 men. It could prove to be a major distraction if he were to be involved. He does instruct his chief commanders to be mindful of Absalom. David loved his son but was now involved in a battle for his life and for his people with that same son. His son has brought great division within Israel itself. The pain and anguish that David must have been going through cannot be measured.

The battle commenced and did not go well for Absalom and his men. In the midst of the battle Absalom was caught in the boughs of a tree in the thickened woods leaving him hanging and defenceless. This was reported to Joab by a certain witness who was immediately rebuked for not finishing him off. The man was aware of what David said concerning touching his son and made clear that he would not have done it for a thousand shekels of silver. Joab was still upset with this man even though he knew he was right. He took it upon himself to slay Absalom himself which he did (vs 14). Joab immediately sounded the trumpet and halted the pursuit of Israel. They cast Absalom into a pit and placed great stones over it. Joab’s rage against Absalom caused him to forego the words of the king. He probably had a personal vendetta to settle as well. He did demonstrate a certain presence of mind in halting the war immediately after the slaying of Absalom. To his credit he probably was looking at what was in the best interest of the kingdom.

The message was eventually conveyed to David. The tidings spoke of the victory that they had achieved but David’s only concern was the welfare of his son. Once again the fruit of his transgression is hitting home in a very hard way. Through it all David measured his responses carefully which allowed for repentance to be worked out in his life. These very deep trials were producing a message within David that comes out in many of his writings. His message of hope has helped to give perspective to people going through deep trials themselves. It has enabled people like us to experience the power of God’s forgiveness and restoration.

His example also helps to serve as a warning to not make the same mistake in our own lives. The lament he feels for Absalom is a very personal one. He was not condoning or excusing his actions but he did see his sin as a contributing factor in all that has taken place. One can suspect that it is for this reason that David says that I would have died for thee. David had responsibility for all of Israel and their welfare but he could not shake the pain of the loss of Absalom. Joab, Israel and those around him could not appreciate the internal struggle that David was going through. May God help to place a godly fear within us in these crucial days; that we may be kept by the power of God (Jude 1:24).

Luke 24
The primary story that stands prominent in this chapter is the two men on the Emmaus Road. This account is picked up from verse 13 onwards. There are many truths and messages that can be taken from this account some of which we will look at below:

It begins with two men sharing on all that had taken place in recent days, including the possible news of Jesus being raised from the dead. While in discussion the Lord Himself draws close to these men so as to hear what they were saying. Jesus was not known to them at this time. Notice, the Lord asks what they were talking about and why they were so sad? At first, they look at this man and say “where have you been; do you not know the things that have been happening around here the past few days? It is clear that everyone was aware of all that happened regarding the trial and crucifixion of the Lord. The Lord then asks them “what things?”  Jesus wanted to hear their confession. This is an important truth! The Lord is very interested in what we say about Him.

Mal 3:16  Then they that feared the LORD spake often one to another: and the LORD hearkened, and heard it, and a book of remembrance was written before him for them that feared the LORD, and that thought upon his name.

The Lord wanted these two men to confess what they had been talking about. They begin their confession by giving a bit of history with regard to their understanding of Jesus of Nazareth (vs 19-24). They were believers; they were among those who trusted that Jesus was the one who would redeem Israel. They also were aware of the fact that He would rise from the dead on the third day. They even heard accounts from women that they saw the tomb opened with angels proclaiming that He was alive. So why was there countenance sad (vs 17)?

This is what Jesus is trying to point out. Is this not like us? We have the promises, we have the blessings of eternal life, we have the scriptures that give true perspective yet we live as if we are defeated. We are no different than these two men on the Emmaus Road. The Lord then upbraided them for their lack of belief (They did not yet know it was Him). Jesus then gives one of the many mini Bible surveys seen in the scriptures (Psa 78, Acts7 etc). Jesus goes back to the time of Moses and opens up the scriptures to them. His testimony captivated these two men; the Word of God burned and came alive within them. They were so enamoured with this man that they were able to convince him to have a meal with them (vs 30).

There came a time when they blessed and broke bread. This very much resembles a communion service. Immediately their eyes were opened and they came to know it was the Lord who had been with them. This is one of the blessings of breaking bread at communion. Our eyes of understanding can be opened up whereby the Word of God becomes a Living Word. These men had head knowledge of scriptures but not the revelation of the Living Word. Jesus took that same Word, the Word they knew and began to teach them from the time of Moses. As Jesus opened the Word to them it began to “burn” deep within them. This is one of the attributes of the broken bread. It allows for the Word of God to come alive. Like much of the church today, these men could rehearse Biblical accounts but it did not have life with no ability in making a practical application to their own lives. Jesus first broke the bread of the Living Word to these men in their discourse and then broke bread in their home to give the symbolism.

These men could not hold back their testimony so they immediately found the 11 disciples and shared their experience (vs 33-35). At this moment Jesus appeared unto them and naturally they were all in great fear. They were not sure what or whom they were seeing. Here we have a picture of the glorified body of Jesus. He could be recognizable one moment and veiled the next. He also had the ability to eat (vs 41-43). This is a picture of those who will be a part of the first resurrection during Christ’s millennial reign upon the earth. The Lord reiterated His Words concerning the scriptures, making clear that everything that had been written is in fact true and will come to pass (vs 44). He then opened up their understanding that they might know and appropriate the Living Word of God (vs 45).

This is the Lord’s burden and promise for us in the church today. I believe he is drawing near to hear the confession of our lips and of our hearts. Do we truly believe what the Word of God says? Can we identify somewhat with these two men on the Emmaus Road, knowing the scriptures but not having its reality? May we recognize the Lord when He draws near and may we allow the presence of the Holy Spirit to teach and make alive the scriptures; the Living Word of God within us, so that our hearts may also burn.