King David / King Jesus…’stop doubting and believe’

17 06 2011

DAY ONE HUNDRED AND FIFTY-TWO : 2 Samuel 1 v. 1 – 2 v. 7; John 20 v. 10 – 31; Proverbs 13 v. 20 – 14 v. 4

Today I start 2 Samuel. My Study Bible contains these thoughts by way of introduction :
‘2 Samuel is particularly devoted to the story of David’s kingdom, beginning with his hearing of Saul’s death and ending with his purchase of the site of the temple’
‘Some of the finest narrative writing in the Bible, and indeed in the whole ancient world, is to be found in 2 Samuel….these are real people whose passions, fears, sorrows and joys are indistinguishable from our own. It is the skill of the narrator as well as the inspiration of the Spirit which makes all this possible despite the great distance between the ancient writer and the modern reader.’

2 SAMUEL
David Hears of Saul’s Death – David returns from defeating the Amalekites and three days later an Amaletike who has escaped from Israel finds his way to Ziklag, to tell David of the death of Saul and Jonathan. The man (his clothes torn and ‘with dust on his head‘) gives David the details – he had seen it all happen from Mt. Gilboa. The man had been there as Saul died; in fact, he claimed to have helped Saul died quickly once it was clear he couldn’t survive when he’d ‘fallen on his sword’. The man has brought Saul’s crown and arm-band to pass to David (is that like the captain’s armband in a football team ?).
David and his men tore their clothes in grief, mourning and weeping all day for ‘Saul…Jonathan, and for the army of the Lord and the house of Israel’.
When David asks where the man is from, he receives the reply, ‘I am the son of an alien….(now, there’s a thought !!), an Amalekite’.
David wonders why the Amalekite was not afraid to harm Saul, the Lord’s anointed, and has the man killed there and then.

Had the Amalekite embellished the story ? There’s no account in 1 Samuel of Saul needing to be ‘finished off’; there he simply falls on his own sword and dies. Maybe the Amalekite thought David would be pleased that he passed the crown and arm band to him, and would reward him; however, David has consistently refused to kill Saul, even when the opportunities to do so have arisen, so the ‘reward’ for claiming to have killed Saul was to to have lost his life.

David’s Lament for Saul and Jonathan – David, the great song-writer of the OT, sings a lament for Saul and Jonathan (he orders the men of Judah to be taught the song, and it gets written into the Book of Jashar (mentioned in Joshua ch.10, an undiscovered book of war stories / poetry, perhaps).

‘O Israel…how the mighty have fallen!
Don’t tell the Philistines, lest they be glad and rejoice.
May the land where Saul fell suffer drought and famine, for it was there that‘the shield of the mighty (Saul) was defiled’
Saul and Jonathan – loved and gracious – united in death
swifter than eagles and stronger than lions.
Daughters of Israel, weep for Saul.
How the mighty have fallen in battle!
I grieve for you, Jonathan, my brother; you were very dear to me.
Your love for me was wonderful, more wonderful than that of women.
How the mighty have fallen’.

David forgives Saul a lot, in calling him ‘gracious’. He has made David’s life sheer hell at times !
David’s brotherly love for Jonathan is so clear. What a precious friendship.

David Anointed King Over Judah – David, in time, asks the Lord whether he should go into Judah, and the Lord says, ‘Go‘. The Lord directs him to Hebron. David and his wives and all his men and their families, settling in Hebron.
‘The men of Judah came to Hebron and there they anointed David king over the house of Judah.’
David sends a message of blessing to the people of Jabesh Gilead for the kind and dignified way they had buried Saul’s body.
‘May the Lord now show you kindness and faithfulness, and I too will show you the same favour because you have done this.’

The start of David’s reign is marked, again, by His eagerness to ‘enquire of the Lord’, to be guided in every step by God.
He offers thanks and blessings to the people of Jabesh Gilead, and in so doing invites them to accept him as their new king.

JOHN
Jesus Appears to Mary Magdalene – though the disciples return to their homes, Mary remains weeping outside the empty tomb. Two angels appear in the tomb and speak with her. One is sat at the head of the stone slab where Jesus had been laid, the other at the foot. They ask why Mary is crying. She tells them she is crying because ‘they have taken my Lord away and I don’t know where they have put him’.
All of a sudden, the risen Jesus is stood there, but she doesn’t recognise Him. She initially thinks He’s the gardener, and asks Him where He has put the body….

One Easter Sunday morning, I found myself reflecting on Mary’s first thought that Jesus was the gardener…..of course, in many ways He is (‘My father is the gardener….He prunes….etc.’ in John 15), tending the garden of the Kingdom of God….
 
She doesn’t realise it’s Him until He speaks her name, ‘Mary‘.

How glorious when we realise, or even hear, the Lord call us by name.

When she goes to grab hold of Him, Jesus warns her not to, but rather to go and tell the brothers ‘I am returning to my Father and to your Father, to my God and your God.’

It is a mindblowing thought that, because of Jesus, God can be our Father too! Almighty God is our ‘Abba’, Dad, and we are Jesus’ brothers and sisters.
AMAZING just to ponder that thought.

So, Mary is the first to share the good news of the resurrection, ‘I have seen the Lord!’

In an age when the testimony of a woman was given no weight in court, God chooses a woman to be the first to bear witness to the resurrection. I like it !!

Jesus Appears to His Disciples – Resurrection Day evening, Jesus appears to His disciples who are huddled in fear of the Jews. Jesus’ first words: ‘Peace be with you’.
Jesus shows them the wounds in His hands and side.
Jesus brings joy to His disciples.
Jesus says, once again (maybe they’ll hear it better second time round), ‘Peace be with you’.
Jesus says He is sending them, in the same manner in which God the Father sent Him.
Jesus breathes on His disciples, saying, ‘Receive the Holy Spirit’.
Jesus gives them a pattern for forgiving the sins of others, the keys to unlocking forgiveness in other people.
 
It is interesting to note Jesus’ priorities in His first encounter with the disciples since His resurrection
~ that they know His peace
~ that they acknowledge His wounds (see it’s really Him)
~ that they receive His joy to replace their fear
~ that they are commissioned by Jesus for the continuing ministry on earth
~ that they are equipped by the Holy Spirit for the same
~ that they practice and unleash forgiveness, the power to release people


Jesus Appears to Thomas –
Where was Thomas when Jesus appeared on that evening? He missed out, and he felt it strongly. He couldn’t believe what the others said, until he experienced it himself. He becomes a sign of hope for all who live with doubt, that Jesus does not forget us, He will meet with us where we are !
That week between Jesus’ appearances must have felt like a lifetime to Thomas. How ‘out of things’ must he have felt?
Jesus again speaks words of peace to the disciples. He knows of Thomas’ need to see the wounds (though we don’t hear that he does ‘put my finger where the nails were’ etc.), and shows them to him.
He urges Thomas to ‘stop doubting and believe’.
It is Thomas who utters the words of true faith – ‘My Lord and My God!’ WOW !
Thank God for Thomas !!

There is a blessing from Jesus for all who will believe without seeing….

Then John states that there is SO much more which can be said.
‘These words are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in His name.
AMEN and AMEN.

Though this would make one obvious and great conclusion to the book, there’s one more episode to relate…..Jesus has unfinished business to do with Simon Peter…remember him ? The one bearing the wounds of denying ! He needs some TLC.

PROVERBS
‘He who walks with the wise grows wise, but a companion of fools suffers harm.’
He who spares the rod hates his son, but he who loves him is careful to discipline him
The wise woman builds her house, but with her own hands the foolish one tears hers down.
He whose walk is upright fears the Lord, but he whose ways are devious despises him.’

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