David flees from Jerusalem…..Stephen before the Sanhedrin in Jerusalem

28 06 2011

DAY ONE HUNDRED AND SIXTY ONE : 2 Samuel 15 v. 13 – 16 v. 14; Acts 6 v. 1 – 7 v. 19; Psalm 71 v. 19 – 24

2 SAMUEL
David Flees – David receives the message that Absalom has gained favour from the men of Israel, and he senses he must flee, must escape
‘We must leave immediately, or he will move quickly to overtake us and bring ruin upon us and put the city to the sword.’
The kings officials pledge allegiance to him, and they set off (leaving ten concubines to care for the palace).
There are many people with the king, including Kerethites, Pelethites and the Gittites. David encourages the Gittites to stay with King Absalom, making the most of their new life within Israel, but Ittai, representing the Gittites pledges
‘wherever my lord the king may be, whether it means life or death, there will your servant be’.
David is impressed and allows the Gittites to march with them. They cross the Kidron Valley and head for the desert, everyone weeping as they passed by.
Zadok and the priests were with them, although David told them to return the Ark of God to the city, rather than take it with them –
‘If I find favour in the Lord’s eyes, he will bring me back and let me see it and his dwelling-place again…’
The king also sends Zadok and his son, Ahimaaz, and Abiathar and his son, Jonathan back to the city, to keep an eye on things, and send word to David. David and the people continue up the Mount of Olives, head covered and weeping, and David prays that God will ‘turn Ahithophel’s counsel into foolishness’, aware that Ahithophel has played a key part in helping Absalom rise to this position.
At the top of the mount, at a place of worship, Hushai the Arkite meets David and the people – he is dressed for mourning, his robe torn and dust on his head. David also sends him into the city, to act as a messenger between the priests (Zadok etc.) and David, informing him about what is happening in the city. David’s friend Hushai arrives in Jerusalem just as Absalom is entering it too.

How sad that David finds himself fleeing for his life again, having spent all those years running from Saul. This time it’s his own son who is his greatest threat.

David and Ziba – David then meets Ziba on the way beyond the summit. Ziba is the man charged with looking after / helping Mephibosheth who is Saul’s grandson, Jonathan’s son, who was crippled in childhood.
Ziba has amassed a string of donkeys, two hundred loaves of bread, a hundred raisin cakes and fig cakes and a skin of wine, all to sustain them on their journey. Ziba tells David that Mephibosheth has been taken to Jerusalem, for he believes that he may now get back the kingdom his grandfather, Saul, had ruled over. David gives all that Mephibosheth has left to Ziba, who thanks him.

Mephibosheth has been waiting for a time like this, but it’s unlikely that Absalom will have much to do with honouring Saul’s kingdom. 
 
Shimei Curses David – approaching another area, Bahurim, David and his people are attacked verbally and with stones by Shimei, from the clan of Saul’s family. He accuses David of being a ‘man of blood….the Lord has repaid you for all the blood you shed in the household of Saul….the Lord has handed the kingdom over to your son Absalom…’
Although Abishai suggests killing Shimei (chopping off his head), David commands the people to let him live (maybe God has sent Shimei to curse David), and they continue on their way to their destination, where they arrive exhausted, and keen to rest and be refreshed.

ACTS
The Choosing of the Seven – as the number of disciples increases, there is a tension growing between the Greek Jews and the Hebrew Jews about whose widows were being best looked after. The Twelve recognise their calling to teach and preach – ‘the ministry of the word of God’ – and decide to raise up others to oversee the distribution of food to the widows.
‘Brothers, choose seven men from among you who are known to be full of the Spirit and wisdom.’
So they raise up Stephen (a man full of faith and the Holy Spirit), Philip, Procorus, Nicanor, Timon, Parmenas and Nicolas (an Antiochan convert), and they lay hands on them, praying over them, and giving them their responsibilities (whilst the apostles continued to give their attention to prayer and the ministry of the word).
‘So the word of God spread. The number of disciples in Jerusalem increased rapidly, and a large number of priests became obedient to the faith.’

Stephen Seized – Stephen is clearly a man full of God’s grace and power, with many wonders and miracles accompanying him. Members of the Synagogue of the Freedman (Jews from Cyrene, Alexandria, Asia, Cilicia) rise up in opposition to the disciples, and argue with Stephen, although Stephen spoke with greater Spirit-wisdom and ‘outspoke’ them !
They spread the word that Stephen has been blaspheming against Moses and against God.
The Sanhedrin call Stephen to appear before them, and bring false witness against him – tales that Stephen has been speaking against ‘this holy place and against the law’, and saying that Jesus will destroy the temple and change all the customs and traditions.
Stephen, however, remained calm, and people noticed ‘that his face was like the face of an angel’.

Jesus had warned that His followers would experience some of the same treatment He’d received – false witness, mockery of a trial, persecution and worse….Stephen seems to be picked out from a very early stage…but then, he had been identified as one ‘full of grace, power, the Spirit….’

Stephen’s Speech to the Sanhedrin –
when it becomes time for Stephen to speak, he addresses the Sanhedrin as ‘Brothers and fathers’. Stephen shows his faithfulness to the story of Abraham, leaving his hometown and journeying to Haran, and onward to receive the promise that his descendants would become the great nation of Israel. Stephen continues through the patriarchs to the story of Joseph, and his brothers’ jealousy, and the family’s move eventually to Egypt because of the famine in the land.
He tells of the plight of the Hebrew people in Egypt under a different king, who knew nothing about Joseph.

Stephen is clearly identifying himself with his brother / father Jewish leaders, and with the pillars and background stories of the faith.

PSALM
‘Your righteousness reaches to the skies, O God, You who have done great things.
Who, O God, is like You?
Though You have made me see troubles, many and bitter, You will restore my life again….
I will praise You with the harp for Your faithfulness, O my God….
My lips will shout for joy when I sing praise to You….’

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