TODAY’S READING FROM THE OLD TESTAMENT- – 2 SAMUEL 17:1-29
Ahithophel gives his counsel to Absalom. He advises Absalom to pursue David with 12000 men and attack him immediately while David is weary and weak. Absalom thinks it is good counsel, but then asks Hushai the Arkite what he thinks. The Lord has determined to use Hushai to distract Absalom from taking the better counsel of Ahithophel. Hushai’s advice appealed to Absalom’s vanity. He advises Absalom to wait until he can gather all Israel and mount a spectacular effort to strike down David and his men. Absalom is pleased with this and rejects the plan of Ahithophel. Then Hushai tells the priests, Abiathar and Zadok, to tell David of Absalom’s plan. He warns him to escape by crossing over the Jordan.
A young man becomes aware of two informers, Jonathan and Ahimaaz, and a servant girl at En Rogel, who were carrying out a plan to bring this message to David and reports this to Absalom. The two men escape and go to a home in Bahurim where a man hides them in a well in his courtyard.
When Ahithophel finds out that his advice had not been followed, he saddles his donkey, heads home, puts his affairs in order and then hangs himself. (2 Sam 17:23)
This is one of seven suicides recorded in the Bible.
- Abimelech (Judges 9:52)
- Samson (Judges 16:30)
- Saul (1 Samuel 31:4)
- Saul’s armor bearer (1 Samuel 31:5)
- Ahithophel (2 Samuel 17:23)
- Zimri (1 Kings 16:18
- Judas (Matthew 27:5)
Taking one’s own life, even when one is swallowed up in despair, is a regrettable action that causes more problems than it solves. It is so important that when people are faced with depression that they reach out to others and receive the help that they need. It is also important that we remain alert to ways we can help those who are struggling with suicidal thoughts.
Absalom appoints Amasa over his army and they camp in Gilead. David is in Mahanim and receives abundant provisions, food, bedding, and utensils from Shobi, Makir, and Barzilai, a wealthy man who is mentioned ten times in the Bible and is best known for his loyal service to David.
Barzillai wanted to serve God’s purposes every day of his life. He might have been too old to fight for David, but he did what he could to provide for him.
Later in this book we will read this summary statement of this big-hearted man:
2 Samuel 19:32 32 Now Barzillai was a very aged man, eighty years old. And he had provided the king with supplies while he stayed at Mahanaim, for he was a very rich man.
TODAY’S READING FROM THE NEW TESTAMENT – JOHN 19:23-42
The events that take place while Jesus is suffering his last hours on the cross are prophesied in Psalm 22. The soldiers gamble for his seamless robe.
Psalm 22:18 18 They divide My garments among them, And for My clothing they cast lots.
John and Jesus’ mother, Mary, approach the cross. Jesus commits the care of his mother not to his half-brothers, but to John. She is part of this forever family now. She needs to be with the apostle, to be in on the action to come. He does not want her to miss Pentecost. His death is making it possible for all believers to be adopted into His family. To Mary he says, “Woman behold your son” and to John he says, “Behold your mother.” Treat each other as family. From that time on, John took Mary into his own home.
Church tradition tells us that Mary would follow John to Ephesus in later years when John pastored in that city.
In the first three hours, Jesus is experiencing the wrath of men. In the last three hours, he is bearing the wrath of God against sin. He is experiencing the punishment our sins deserve. In Jesus parable of Lazarus and the rich man, the rich man in the torments of hell, begs for just a drop of water to cool his tongue (Luke 16:24). Jesus experiences that kind of torment when he cries, “I thirst” (John 19:28). The soldiers lift a sponge on a stalk of hyssop and lift it to Jesus’ lips. Just before commending his spirit to God the Father, he declares, “It is Finished”.
The Greek word, “Tetelestai”, translated, “It is finished,” It is a completion”, is a word that was stamped on an invoice when payment was made complete. “Tetelestai” means, “Paid in full.” The invoice would be folded over, and called a ‘double’. On the outside of the folded invoice the word, “Tetelestai” would be stamped.
This understanding of ‘double’ also might help us understand Isaiah 40:
Isaiah 40:1-2 1 “Comfort, yes, comfort My people!” Says your God. 2 “Speak comfort to Jerusalem, and cry out to her, that her warfare is ended, that her iniquity is pardoned; For she has received from the LORD’S hand Double for all her sins.”
The day of Preparation had come to an end and the next day would be a special Sabbath. This meant that no dead bodies could be left on the cross. To expedite the crucifixions, the soldiers were to break the legs of the victims which would cause them to quickly suffocate.
When they came to Jesus, they realized that he was already dead. They did not need to break his bones. They pierced his side, bringing a sudden flow of water and blood. This indicated a pierced pericardium This also fulfilled prophecy.
Psalm 34:20 20 He guards all his bones; Not one of them is broken.
Zechariah 12:10 they will look on Me whom they pierced.
Joseph of Arimathea, a secret disciple, asks Pilate for the body. With Pilate’s permission, he took the body away, accompanied by another secret disciple, Nicodemus. They bury Jesus’ body, wrapping him in linen with 75 pounds of spices, a mixture of myrrh and aloes. This was in accordance with Jewish burial customs. Because it was nearby, they put Jesus’ body in this wealthy man’s garden tomb.
This also fulfilled prophecy.
Isaiah 53:9 9 And they made His grave with the wicked– But with the rich at His death, Because He had done no violence, nor was any deceit in His mouth.
TODAY’S READING FROM THE BOOK OF PSALMS- PSALMS 119:129-152
The next section of eight verses begin with the Hebrew letter ‘Pe’.
Psalm 119:130 130 The entrance of Your words gives light; It gives understanding to the simple.
Another way of translating simple, is ‘those who make room for it’.
The Psalmist describes his hunger and thirst for the Word of God exceeding his own natural appetites. He recognizes that God gives the power to walk in the Word.
Psalm 119:133 133 Direct my steps by Your word, and let no iniquity have dominion over me.
He has a teachable spirit.
Psalm 119:135 135 Make Your face shine upon Your servant, and teach me Your statutes.
In this Psalm you will notice that the Psalmist contrasts the receptivity of those who are in the right with God through faith in His promise and those who are not.
The fact that the lost have no interest, respect of hunger for God’s Word is a source of grief to him.
Psalm 119:136 136 Rivers of water run down from my eyes, because men do not keep Your law.
In the next section of eight verses, beginning with the letter, ‘Tsadhe’, he laments that his enemies ignore God’s word (Psalm 119:139).
In the next section beginning with the letter, ‘Qoph’ he observes:
Psalm 119:150 150 They draw near who follow after wickedness; They are far from Your law.
He says that God’s laws are ‘right’, ‘righteous’, ‘forever right’, ‘trustworthy’, ‘thoroughly tested’, ‘everlasting’, and ‘true’.
He then describes his attitude towards the word: He has zeal for the Word. They are his ‘delight’. In desperation, he turns to the Word for understanding.
Psalm 119:147 147 I rise before the dawning of the morning, and cry for help; I hope in Your word.
He calls out, ‘with all his heart’ to be saved, to receive help, and he asks God to preserve his life.
Here is another description of his habit for daily meditation:
Psalm 119:148 148 My eyes are awake through the night watches, That I may meditate on Your word.
TODAY’S READING FROM THE BOOK OF PROVERBS- PROVERBS 16:12-13
Proverbs 16:12-13 12 It is an abomination for kings to commit wickedness, for a throne is established by righteousness. 13 Righteous lips are the delight of kings, and they love him who speaks what is right.
Leadership is a high calling and Spirit-controlled speech is necessary for good leadership. They are the delight of kings and a delight to the King of kings!
PRAY FOR THE NATIONS- WE CONTINUE TO PRAY FOR GERMANY
The impact that Germany has had on the world is astounding. It is the birthplace of people such as Martin Luther, Albert Einstein, Karl Marx, and Beethoven, as well as for the reformation, the printing press, and the automobile. But its history is tainted by the atrocities of the Holocaust and two world wars. Yet even so, it has remarkably rebounded from devastation and defeat. Leading the twenty-first century energy revolution, Germany seeks to become the world’s leading user of wind and solar power by 2050. It is this type of forward thinking that has enabled this nation to arise as Europe’s most industrialized country, the continent’s economic giant, co-leader of the European Union, and influential NATO member.
Germany boasts Europe’s largest economy – the fifth largest in the world. This success is built on export industries, fiscal discipline, a highly skilled workforce, and a history of consensus-driven economic policies. When Europe recently faced its largest refugee crisis in years, Germany opened its borders to roughly one million asylum-seekers, quickly becoming their primary European destination. Low fertility rates, an aging population, and increased immigration are taxing the social welfare safety net. This has only increased social and political tensions on how to integrate immigrants into society while maintaining economic stability and German identity.
Sixty-four percent of Germany claims Christianity. However, many believe that religion is irrelevant. Humanism, secularism, and skepticism are pervasive. Only fourteen percent of Germans actually attend church, and only about two percent claim Jesus as Savior. Due to the enormous influx of immigrants, Germany and France now have the largest Muslim populations in Europe, with roughly five million Muslims in Germany alone. Most come from nations where they had little to no access to the Gospel; the opportunities are unprecedented. Growing grassroots prayer movements, house churches, and evangelical initiatives have the potential to reach not only the majority of Germans who are spiritually lost, but the growing Muslim population as well.
PRAYER: Gracious Father, thank You for the ministry of Your Word. May the truth of Jesus’ perfect submission, perfect obedience, and perfect work of redemption on our behalf, anchor us in what is a disposition of thankfulness. All that He did was to bring glory to You. Father, keep us from being distracted by alternate plans that appeal to our vanity. Holy Spirit, keep us occupied with Jesus. We want only to be found ‘in Christ’, with no pretense of having anything righteousness in ourselves to boast in. Lord, Jesus, we revel in the good news that our sin-debt has been paid in full and that we have the receipt in hand. Your tomb is empty and our hearts are full. Thank you.