Making Good Decisions

Growing with God: A daily devotional with Tonia Slimm.

2 Samuel 19:24-25 (NIV)
Mephibosheth, Saul’s grandson, also went down to meet the king. He had not taken care of his feet or trimmed his mustache or washed his clothes from the day the king left until the day he returned safely. When he came from Jerusalem to meet the king, the king asked him, “Why didn’t you go with me, Mephibosheth?”

2 Samuel 19:24-25(MSG)
Next Mephibosheth grandson of Saul arrived from Jerusalem to welcome the king. He hadn’t combed his hair or trimmed his beard or washed his clothes from the day the king left until the day he returned safe and sound. The king said, “And why didn’t you come with me, Mephibosheth?”
“Then Mephibosheth the [grand]son of Saul came down to meet the king, but he had not cared for his feet, nor trimmed his mustache, nor washed his clothes from the day the king left until the day he returned in peace and safety. And when he came to Jerusalem to meet the king, the king said to him, “Why did you not go with me, Mephibosheth?” -AMPLIFIED

Now let us remember David, the king, is making his way back to Jerusalem after being his men had defeated Absalom and his men. En route he has already encountered Shimei, who had insulted and threatened him as he exited the royal city. Now he is meeting Mephibosheth, Jonathan’s son, Saul’s grandson; whom he had basically taken under his wing and treated as his own son when he became king.

Now let us remember that Saul’s servant, Ziba, had brought a very strong accusation against Mephibosheth in 2 Samuel 16, as the king left Jerusalem. When David asked Ziba where Mephibosheth was, Ziba had told the king, “He is still in Jerusalem. He says, “Now the people of Israel will give me back my grandfather’s kingdom.” -2 Samuel 16:3 (VOICE)

David did something in haste at this point that he should have not done. He made a quick, impulsive decision that was foolish; for he had only heard one side of the story. (We too need to be careful about making rash decisions when we only have partial information.) As David was running for his life, he quickly told, “…all that belonged to Mephibosheth is yours now.” -2 Samuel 16:4 (VOICE)

Now we have Mephibosheth approaching the king in humility and lowliness. We can read into the text that Mephibosheth has been in mourning for his king the whole time that he had been away. It tells us this about Mephibosheth, “His feet had not been cared for—no, and his beard had grown long, and he had not had his clothes washed—since the king went into exile and returned in peace.” -2 Samuel 19:24 (VOICE)

When David saw him he questioned, “Why didn’t you go with me, Mephibosheth?” (vs. 25 MSG)

Mephibosheth’s response was quite revealing. “My lord the king, since I your servant am lame, I said, ‘I will have my donkey saddled and will ride on it, so I can go with the king.’ But Ziba my servant betrayed me. And he has slandered your servant to my lord the king. My lord the king is like an angel of God; so do whatever you wish. All my grandfather’s descendants deserved nothing but death from my lord the king, but you gave your servant a place among those who eat at your table. So what right do I have to make any more appeals to the king?” -2 Samuel 19:26-28 (NIV)

Now David is in a predicament. We have one man’s word against another’s and Ziba is not here to represent himself. In all fairness David makes this decision, “That’s enough,” said the king. “Say no more. Here’s my decision: You and Ziba divide the property between you.” -2 Samuel 19:29 (MSG)

This is where we find where Mephibosheth’s heart and loyalties truly were. His response to David was exactly what it needed to be at this point in time, “Oh, let him have it all! All I care about is that my master the king is home safe and sound!” -2 Samuel 19:30 (MSG)

The lessons that we can learn from David’s mistakes in this instance are multi-fold. The book of Proverbs has much to teach us in making decisions.

1.) Do I have all the facts to make a good choice?
A. “He who answers before he hears [the facts]—It is folly and shame to him.” -Proverbs 18:13 (AMP)
B. “The first speech in a court case is always convincing—until the cross-examination starts!” -Proverbs 18:17 (MSG)
2.) Be careful not to make a hasty decision.
A. “Also it is not good for a person to be without knowledge, and he who hurries with his feet [acting impulsively and proceeding without caution or analyzing the consequences] sins (misses the mark).” -Proverbs 19:2 (AMP)
B. “The plans of the diligent lead surely to abundance and advantage,
But everyone who acts in haste comes surely to poverty.” -Proverbs 21:5 (AMP)
3.) Have I sought out the counsel of others?
A. “Without good direction, people lose their way; the more wise counsel you follow, the better your chances.” -Proverbs 11:14 (MSG)
B. “He who [willfully] separates himself [from God and man] seeks his own desire, he quarrels against all sound wisdom.” -Proverbs 18:1 (AMP)
4.) Have I logically thought through my decision from beginning to end?
A. “The naive or inexperienced person [is easily misled and] believes every word he hears, but the prudent man [is discreet and astute and] considers well where he is going.” -Proverbs 14:15 (AMP)
B. “A prudent man sees evil and hides himself and avoids it,
But the naive [who are easily misled] continue on and are punished [by suffering the consequences of sin].” -Proverbs 27:12 (AMP)
5.) Have I prayed about it?
A. “For the Lord gives [skillful and godly] wisdom; from His mouth come knowledge and understanding.” -Proverbs 2:6 (AMP)
B. “Trust God from the bottom of your heart; don’t try to figure out everything on your own. Listen for God’s voice in everything you do, everywhere you go; he’s the one who will keep you on track.” -Proverbs 3:5-6 (MSG)

When all was said and done, I am sure that David regretted his hasty choice when it came to Ziba and Mephibosheth. Let us be careful that we too do not fall into that trap of making hasty decisions. Take your time! Whatever it is, pray about it, seek counsel and think about it. You will be glad that you did.

My Prayer:
Lord, help me to not be in such a hurry that I fail to seek your face first in the decisions of this life. Give me your wisdom, I pray. Help me to humbly seek godly counsel from others. Help me to slow down and not be in such a rush that I so not stop and consider all the sides. Too often I have failed in this, Lord. Help me to learn to be still and patiently wait on you. God, I am looking to you!


Taking Care of Business (Shimei)

Growing with God: A daily devotional with Tonia Slimm.

2 Samuel 19:9-10 (NIV)
Throughout the tribes of Israel, all the people were arguing among themselves, saying, “The king delivered us from the hand of our enemies; he is the one who rescued us from the hand of the Philistines. But now he has fled the country to escape from Absalom; and Absalom, whom we anointed to rule over us, has died in battle. So why do you say nothing about bringing the king back?”

2 Samuel 19:9-10 (MSG)
Meanwhile, the whole populace was now complaining to its leaders, “Wasn’t it the king who saved us time and again from our enemies, and rescued us from the Philistines? And now he has had to flee the country on account of Absalom. And now this Absalom whom we made king is dead in battle. So what are you waiting for? Why don’t you bring the king back?”
“All the people were quarreling throughout the tribes of Israel, saying, “The king rescued us from the hands of our enemies, and he saved us from the hands of the Philistines, but now he has fled out of the land from Absalom. And Absalom, whom we anointed over us, has died in battle. So now, why are you [leaders] doing nothing about bringing back the king?” -AMPLIFIED

We will find that the rest of 2 Samuel 19 is filled with stories of David dealing with the aftermath of Absalom’s revolt. We are filled in on how he dealt with the fickle folks of Israel who so quickly withdrew their support for him and gave it to his rebellious son. We will look at how he handles the rebellious, objectors, protesters and skeptics. We will also see how he helps those who have been misrepresented and feigned.

Now that Absalom was dead we find all those who had supported him clamoring for the return of the king; that would be David. Yes, they were a bunch of fickle folks; vacillating their allegiance quickly once Absalom had been deposed.

There was still much discussion over who it was that should rule all of Israel. David had heard about the rumors and so he sent word to the priests, “Tell the leaders of Judah, “Why should you be the last to agree to bring the king back? Everyone in Israel is talking about it, even in the king’s own house. And you—you are my flesh and my bones. Why should you be the last to join this movement?” And tell Amasa, who joined the rebellion against me, “Aren’t you my flesh and my bone? May God bring disaster on me if I don’t allow you to serve as commander of my army from now on in place of Joab.” Amasa persuaded all of Judah to stand united supporting David, and they sent word that he and his servants should come back. So the king came back to the Jordan River. The people of Judah turned out to meet him at Gilgal, and they celebrated as he crossed back over the Jordan into his kingdom.” -2 Samuel 19:11-15 (VOICE)

The first person that David encountered on his way home was that insulting, abusive man, Shimei. Shimei was that guy who hurled insults, as well as stones, at David and his men as they fled from Absalom. Shimei held a deep grudge against David. Shimei resented the fact that David had replaced Saul as king. (Saul and Shimei were both Benjamites.)

We find that as David was returning to the palace with his escorts Shimei came running up to the king begging for forgiveness. “Please, my lord, don’t hold me guilty or hold a grudge for what I did against you on the day you left Jerusalem, cursing you and throwing stones at you. May the king forget it ever happened! I, your servant, know that what I did was wrong. That’s why I’ve come today, to be the first of all the house of Joseph to greet my king.” -2 Samuel 19:19-20 (VOICE)

Scripture gives us a little side note at this point which says, “Abishai, Zeruiah’s son, remembered Shimei well.” Abishai had not forgotten what Shimei had done and he was not willing to let it go either. His response to Shimei’s request to David was as follows. “My lord, shouldn’t Shimei be executed for cursing the Eternal’s anointed king with such contempt?” -2 Samuel 19:21 (VOICE)

There was no mercy, grace or forgiveness in his words or attitude. Abishai’s thinking was, Shimei had wronged the king and he must pay for it! David’s response was much different. ““What is it with you sons of Zeruiah? Why do you insist on being so contentious? Nobody is going to be killed today. I am again king over Israel!” Then the king turned to Shimei, “You’re not going to die.” And the king gave him his word.” -2 Samuel 19:22-23 (MSG)

Despite the insistence of many of his loyalists, David refused to kill Shimei. Instead he extended forgiveness to Shimei. We will find that eventually the consequences of Shimei’s sin would catch up to him. As David lay dying (in his old age) he warned Solomon, his son, about the danger that Shimei’s opposition continued to present to the throne of Israel. David said, “You also will have to deal with Shimei son of Gera the Benjaminite from Bahurim, the one who cursed me so viciously when I was on my way to Mahanaim. Later, when he welcomed me back at the Jordan, I promised him under God, ‘I won’t put you to death.’ But neither should you treat him as if nothing ever happened. You’re wise, you know how to handle these things. You’ll know what to do to make him pay before he dies.” -1 Kings 2:8-9 (MSG)

In the end Shimei’s sin caught up with him. Solomon bided his time and simply allowed the treacherous Shimei to create the circumstance for his own lawful elimination. You can read of how Solomon dealt with Shimei in 1 Kings 2:36-46. Suffice it to say that Shimei’s sin caught up with him eventually and he had to pay the price which was quite steep. “…be sure that your sin will find you out.” -Numbers 32:23b (AMP)

Tomorrow we will continue with David taking care of business as he returned to Jerusalem.

My Prayer:
Lord, give me the wisdom to deal with the malcontents, the disgruntled and unsatisfied people in my life. Help me to be able to extend mercy and grace; just as you have extended mercy and grace to me. Help me to love them like Jesus. Give me a heart for of understanding; that instead of seeking revenge I seek peace. Help me, Lord, to become more like you. Help me to turn the other cheek.

The Cry of the Broken-Hearted

Growing with God: A daily devotional with Tonia Slimm.

2 Samuel 18:33 (NIV)
The king was shaken. He went up to the room over the gateway and wept. As he went, he said: “O my son Absalom! My son, my son Absalom! If only I had died instead of you—O Absalom, my son, my son!”

2 Samuel 18:33 (MSG)
The king was stunned. Heartbroken, he went up to the room over the gate and wept. As he wept he cried out, “O my son Absalom, my dear, dear son Absalom!
Why not me rather than you, my death and not yours,
O Absalom, my dear, dear son!”
“The king was deeply moved and went to the upper room over the gate and wept [in sorrow]. And this is what he said as he walked: “O my son Absalom, my son, my son Absalom! How I wish that I had died instead of you, O Absalom, my son, my son!” -AMPLIFIED

“David’s reaction again is tender; although his son might have killed him if he’d been given the chance, David laments his death. As king, as father, and as follower of the Lord, he knows he could have done better; but now it is too late, and all he can do is mourn the consequences of his past actions.” -(VOICE: footnote)

Despite the fact that David was a powerful statesman, a brilliant musician, poet, and an exceptional religious leader (who was a man after God’s own heart) he was still human. He still mourned for the death of his beloved, rebellious, wayward son. David’s response to the death of his son, Absalom, was quite intense, heart-breaking and overwhelming for him. In fact, so much so that in chapter 19 we find Joab going to him and reprimanding him for his actions or lack thereof.

We are given a overview of the situation in the opening verses of chapter 19. “Joab heard the news that David was weeping and mourning for Absalom, and the mood shifted from celebration to sorrow, for all the soldiers heard that the king was grieving for his son. They crept back to the city as though they had lost the battle rather than saved the kingdom.” -2 Samuel 19:1-3 (VOICE)

David’s army was thrilled that they had protected their king and disposed of the enemy, but David’s reaction to the death of his son put them all to shame and sorrow. In humiliation at how the whole situation had been handled David’s men slunk back into the city as if they had been defeated instead of victorious. (It is important for each of us to realize how our actions and reactions affect those around us.)

Joab confronted the king with these words, “Today you have shamed the men who saved your life, who have saved the lives of your sons and daughters, and the lives of your wives and concubines, all because of your love for those who hated you and your hatred of those who love you! You’ve made it perfectly clear where your affections are—that your officers and men mean nothing to you, and that you’d gladly trade our lives for Absalom’s. Go out now, and speak with kindness and respect to those who have served you. You can still save the day; but I swear by the Eternal One, if you do not alter this mood now, not a single man will be with you tonight, and this will be the greatest disaster ever to wash over you.” -2 Samuel 19:5-7 (VOICE)

We find David then pulling himself together for the benefit of his men. “Then the king got up, went outside, and sat down inside the gate where Absalom had acquired his allies. When the people heard that the king had come out to them, they gathered around him.” -2 Samuel 19:8 (VOICE)

David was no stranger to heart-break. In fact, we can look at many of the Psalms that he wrote and find many references to his powerful trust and reliance in God during those times.

* “My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the rock and strength of my heart and my portion forever.” -Psalm 73:26 (AMP)

* “Pile your troubles on God’s shoulders—he’ll carry your load, he’ll help you out. He’ll never let good people topple into ruin. But you, God, will throw the others into a muddy bog, cut the lifespan of assassins and traitors in half.
And I trust in you.” -Psalm 55:22-23 (MSG)

* “He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds [healing their pain and comforting their sorrow].” -Psalm 147:3 (AMP)

* “If your heart is broken, you’ll find God right there; if you’re kicked in the gut, he’ll help you catch your breath.” -Psalm 34:18 (MSG)

“Leave the broken, irreversible past in God’s hands, and step out into the invincible future with Him.” ~ Oswald Chambers

“Your most profound and intimate experiences of worship will likely be in your darkest days – when your heart is broken, when you feel abandoned, when you are out of options, when the pain is great – and you turn to God alone.” ~ Rick Warren

My Prayer:
Lord, be near to me in my time of sorrow. Be my strength. Bind up my bleeding heart and help me to trust that you will bring me through this time; working everything out for my good. I may not understand why things happen the way that they do, but I must believe that you are always in control. Help me to pull myself together and go forward, not backward. I choose to trust you, Lord.

Respect for Authority

Growing with God: A daily devotional with Tonia Slimm.

2 Samuel 18:5 (NIV)
The king commanded Joab, Abishai and Ittai, “Be gentle with the young man Absalom for my sake.” And all the troops heard the king giving orders concerning Absalom to each of the commanders.

2 Samuel 18:5 (MSG)
Then the king ordered Joab and Abishai and Ittai, “Deal gently for my sake with the young man Absalom.” The whole army heard what the king commanded the three captains regarding Absalom.
“The king commanded Joab and Abishai and Ittai, saying, “Deal gently with the young man Absalom for my sake.” And all the men heard when the king gave orders to all the commanders about Absalom.” -AMPLIFIED

Remember, David was torn between his duties as king and his love for his wayward, rebellious son. His parting words to his men as they went off to do battle of HIM were these, “For my sake, be merciful to the young man Absalom.” (VOICE) And mind you, everyone, all of the troops, heard exactly what they king had said.

That day David’s army went out to fight against the rest of Israel, those who were in support of Absalom. The Bible tells us exactly what happened on that day and it was not a pretty picture. “…the battle was fought in the wooded areas of Ephraim. David’s forces won a great victory against Absalom’s men, and 20,000 men were killed in the battle that day. The battle spread all across the landscape, and more of his opponents were lost to the forest than to the sword.” -2 Samuel 8:6-8 (VOICE)

Consider what must have been going through David’s mind and heart at this point in time. The country that he loved, served and ruled was being devastated because of his own family and ultimately because of his own sinful choices. What was happening was part of the consequences of his sin with Bathsheba. It was also part of the consequences of his poor parenting skills. Knowing this fact, and seeing the affect it was having on the country and the people he loved must have been heartbreaking.

The Voice footnote gives us this bit of information about the battle. “David takes the fight into a forested area rather than staying out in the open field. Since his army is more experienced in fighting in such terrain, there is an opportunity for a smaller force to defeat a larger one. Absalom’s men (and Absalom himself, as illustrated in the following verses) die as a result of not knowing how to fight in the forest and avoid its pitfalls.” -(VOICE)

At some point in the battle Absalom encountered David’s men. He tried riding away on his royal mule, but the animal took him into the thick overhanging branches of a huge oak tree. There, the very hair that he was so proud of and never cut, was caught in the branches and caught him. He dangled between the sky and earth as his mule fled from underneath him and he was left hanging.

Now we need to remember David’s parting words to his men in order to understand what happens next. A soldier saw Absalom hanging in that huge oak tree helpless and told Joab. Joab’s response was typical for him, “You saw Absalom? Then why didn’t you kill him while he was hanging there? I would have given you 10 pieces of silver and a belt!” -2 Samuel 18:11 (VOICE)

The soldiers response to Joab though showed not only the love that he had for his king, but also the fear of crossing him. “If you put 1,000 pieces of silver into my hand, I wouldn’t raise it against the king’s son. We all heard the king say to you generals, “For my sake, protect young Absalom.” If I had taken his life despite that, you would stand back and watch as they strung me up. Nothing is hidden from the king.” -2 Samuel 18:12-13 (VOICE)

Joab, being the the presumptuous, arrogant know-it-all that he was, decided to take matters (once again, mind you) into his own hands. Scripture tells us, “Joab said, “I can’t waste my time with you.” He then grabbed three knives and stabbed Absalom in the heart while he was still alive in the tree; by then Absalom was surrounded by ten of Joab’s armor bearers; they hacked away at him and killed him. Joab then blew the ram’s horn trumpet, calling off the army in its pursuit of Israel. They took Absalom, dumped him into a huge pit in the forest, and piled an immense mound of rocks over him.” -2 Samuel 18:14-17a (MSG)

Joab had no respect for David or his authority. Eventually he will also pay for the consequences of his sin. But, we will find, that will not happen until after the death of David.

The Bible is very adamant about the need for the children of God to be respectful to those in authority.

* “Be a good citizen. All governments are under God. Insofar as there is peace and order, it’s God’s order. So live responsibly as a citizen. If you’re irresponsible to the state, then you’re irresponsible with God, and God will hold you responsible. Duly constituted authorities are only a threat if you’re trying to get by with something. Decent citizens should have nothing to fear.” -Romans 13:1-3 (MSG)

* “Make the Master proud of you by being good citizens. Respect the authorities, whatever their level; they are God’s emissaries for keeping order. It is God’s will that by doing good, you might cure the ignorance of the fools who think you’re a danger to society. Exercise your freedom by serving God, not by breaking the rules. Treat everyone you meet with dignity. Love your spiritual family. Revere God. Respect the government.” -1 Peter 2:13-17 (MSG)

* “The first thing I want you to do is pray. Pray every way you know how, for everyone you know. Pray especially for rulers and their governments to rule well so we can be quietly about our business of living simply, in humble contemplation. This is the way our Savior God wants us to live.” -1 Timothy 2:1-3 (MSG)

Sadly, we will find, that Joab never learned to be respectful of those in authority over him. He tended to have his own agenda and he usually took matters into his own hands. In 1 Kings 2 though we can find the consequences to his sin of disrespect to David. We are told that David, who was on his deathbed told Solomon to have Joab killed citing Joab’s past betrayals and the blood that he was guilty of. Joab ended up paying a high price and dying in a very violent manner because of his arrogance, pride and refusal to respect those in authority over him.

Be respectful of those in authority over you and also their wishes.

My Prayer:
Lord, help me to humbly accept the authority of those you have placed over me. You have given them jurisdiction over me for a reason. Instead of pridefully criticizing or bucking the system; help me instead be supportive, encouraging and prayerful for those people. Ultimately you are the final authority and I know that you are in control of all things.

Torn Between Two Choices

Growing with God: A daily devotional with Tonia Slimm.

2 Samuel 18:3-4(NIV)
But the men said, “You must not go out; if we are forced to flee, they won’t care about us. Even if half of us die, they won’t care; but you are worth ten thousand of us. It would be better now for you to give us support from the city.” The king answered, “I will do whatever seems best to you.” So the king stood beside the gate while all his men marched out in units of hundreds and of thousands.

2 Samuel 18:3-4 (MSG)
They said, “No, you mustn’t march with us. If we’re forced to retreat, the enemy won’t give it a second thought. And if half of us die, they won’t do so either. But you are worth ten thousand of us. It will be better for us if you stay in the city and help from there.” “If you say so,” said the king. “I’ll do what you think is best.” And so he stood beside the city gate as the whole army marched out by hundreds and by thousands.
“But the men said, “You should not go out [to battle with us]. For if in fact we retreat, they will not care about us; even if half of us die, they will not care about us. But you are worth ten thousand of us. So now it is better that you be ready to help us from the city [of Mahanaim].” Then the king said to them, “I will do whatever seems best to you.” So the king stood beside the gate [of Mahanaim], and all the army went out in groups of hundreds and of thousands.” -AMPLIFIED

David and his people who have been fleeing for their very lives from the rebellious Absalom have finally reached a place of safety, Mahanaim. Once they have settled in, rested and refreshed themselves, David quickly organizes his forces. He understands that there is no time to lose in preparing themselves for the inevitable; Absalom will soon be upon them and they will need to defend themselves.

David gathers his men, who had followed him and were with him, and divides them into units of a thousand and a hundred. He then appoints commanders over each faction; basically dividing his army into three groups. A third of them were to be led by Joab, a third by Abishai, and a third by Ittai the Gittite.

David then informs his commanders that he intends to go out and fight right along side of them. His men were horrified by his even considering to do such a thing. Remember, by this point in time David was quite aged aged and no longer physically able to do all he once was able to do. Even a great warrior will come to the place where he is no longer able to do all he once was capable of. (The mind is willing, but the body is weak.)

David’s men unanimously voted down his decision and decided that he must stay behind. “No, you should remain in Mahanaim. If we flee, the people here will not be concerned about us; or if half of us die, they will not care. But they care about you. You’re worth 10,000 of us. It’s better that you stay here and help us from the city.” -2 Samuel 18:3 (VOICE)

We find David torn between two choices in this passage. Torn between his duties as king of the great nation of Israel and his duties as a father to a wayward, rebellious son. (What to do, what to do?) Even at this point, with Absalom leading an outright rebellion, dishonoring his father, and seeking to kill him; we find David seeking to spare his son. Before his men leave to go out to the field of battle we find David delivering this request, “For my sake, be merciful to the young man Absalom.” -2 Samuel 18:5 (VOICE)

David did not have access to the book of James, but he could have certainly learned from the words written there. “If any of you lacks wisdom [to guide him through a decision or circumstance], he is to ask of [our benevolent] God, who gives to everyone generously and without rebuke or blame, and it will be given to him. But he must ask [for wisdom] in faith, without doubting [God’s willingness to help], for the one who doubts is like a billowing surge of the sea that is blown about and tossed by the wind. For such a person ought not to think or expect that he will receive anything [at all] from the Lord, being a double-minded man, unstable and restless in all his ways [in everything he thinks, feels, or decides].” -James 1:5-8 (AMP)

We are all faced with challenges and choices that we are torn between at some point in life. There are times when there are no easy choices. What can we do? Actually, David’s son Solomon had much to say about predicaments such as these.
Solomon counseled:

* “Trust in and rely confidently on the Lord with all your heart and do not rely on your own insight or understanding. In all your ways know and acknowledge and recognize Him, and He will make your paths straight and smooth [removing obstacles that block your way].” -Proverbs 3:5-6 (AMP)

* “Surely there’s no advantage for a person without knowledge, and whoever moves too quickly misses the turn.” -Proverbs 19:2 (VOICE)

* “Where there is no [wise, intelligent] guidance, the people fall [and go off course like a ship without a helm], but in the abundance of [wise and godly] counselors there is victory.” -Proverbs 11:14 (AMP)

* “The Eternal is ready to share His wisdom with us, for His words bring true knowledge and insight; He has stored up the essentials of sound wisdom for those who do right; He acts as a shield for those who value integrity. God protects the paths of those who pursue justice, watching over the lives of those who keep faith with Him.” -Proverbs 2:6-8 (VOICE)

Are you in a place where you are torn between two choices? Take time to seek God and the counsel of some wise counselors. You will be thankful that you did.

My Prayer:
Lord, there are times that I feel that I am caught between a rock and a hard place. Times when I feel that I am damned if I do and damned if I don’t. Lord, give me wisdom in those times. Send your Holy Spirit to guide me in the ways that I should go. Help me to humbly seek out counsel from those in spiritual authority over me. I want to make wise choices. Help me do so, Lord.

Faithful Friends

Growing with God: A daily devotional with Tonia Slimm.

2 Samuel 17:15-16New International Version (NIV)
Hushai told Zadok and Abiathar, the priests, “Ahithophel has advised Absalom and the elders of Israel to do such and such, but I have advised them to do so and so. Now send a message at once and tell David, ‘Do not spend the night at the fords in the wilderness; cross over without fail, or the king and all the people with him will be swallowed up.’”

2 Samuel 17:15-16 (MSG)
Then Hushai told the priests Zadok and Abiathar, “Ahithophel advised Absalom and the elders of Israel thus and thus, and I advised them thus and thus. Now send this message as quickly as possible to David: ‘Don’t spend the night on this side of the river; cross immediately or the king and everyone with him will be swallowed up alive.’”
“Then Hushai said to Zadok and Abiathar the priests, “This is the advice that Ahithophel gave to Absalom and the elders of Israel, and this is the advice that I have given. Now then, send word quickly and tell David, ‘Do not spend the night at the fords [on the west side of the Jordan] in the wilderness, but by all means cross over [to the east side of the river], or else the king and all the people with him will be destroyed [if Ahithophel is allowed by Absalom to lead an attack].’” -AMPLIFIED

In today’s study we will be focusing on those faithful friends that continued to support, encourage, and be there for David, even in the midst of his troubles. David was running for his very life, but these people continued to champion him even when it meant that they themselves were in danger.

The list of these folks, David’s supporters, in 2 Samuel 17 is quite extensive.

Hushai– The king’s friend; who stayed behind to look out for David’s safety within the court.

Zadok and Abiathar– The priests who emissaries; smuggling out any important news that David need to be aware of in order to protect himself.

Jonathan and Ahimaaz– The priests sons who were the carriers of the information out of the royal city out to where David was in hiding.

The man of Bahurim– Who must have been a supporter of David; for Jonathan and Ahimaaz fled to his home to hide themselves when a young boy had seen them trying to sneak out of the city.

The man of Bahurim’s wife– This woman hid Jonathan and Ahimaaz in their family’s well; covering them so well that they were not found. When the soldiers came to the house to question them she sent them in the wrong direction so that Jonathan and Ahimaaz were not found.

Shobi– The son of Nahash from Rabbah of the Ammonites brought beds, basins, pottery, wheat, barley, flour, roasted grain, broad beans, lentils, and [other] roasted grain, honey, cream, sheep, and cheese of the herd, for David and the people who were with him, to eat. (This guy is thought to have been the son of the Ammonite king.)

Machir- The son of Ammiel from Lo-debar also contributed from his own belongings much of the same things that Shobi did. (The friend and protector of Mephibosheth.)

Barzillai– The Gileadite (from Rogelim)also supported David in much the same way as the other two beneficiaries did. (He is believed to have been a wealthy, old man who felt that he had nothing to lose in supporting his beloved king.)

We will find in the coming days as we continue to study David how much the support of his friends helped him through this troublesome time in his life. We all need friends in our lives such as David had; faithful friends that stick with us through thick and thin.

The Bible has much to say about friends and being a friend:

* “A true friend loves regardless of the situation, and a real brother exists to share the tough times.” -Proverbs 17:17 (VOICE)

* “In the same way that iron sharpens iron, a person sharpens the character of his friend.” -Proverbs 27:17 (VOICE)

* “Live in true devotion to one another, loving each other as sisters and brothers. Be first to honor others by putting them first.” -Romans 12:10 (VOICE)

* “Two people are better off than one, for they can help each other succeed. If one person falls, the other can reach out and help. But someone who falls alone is in real trouble. Likewise, two people lying close together can keep each other warm. But how can one be warm alone? A person standing alone can be attacked and defeated, but two can stand back-to-back and conquer. Three are even better, for a triple-braided cord is not easily broken.” -Ecclesiastes 4:9–12 (NLT)

Jesus Himself admonished His disciples of the need to love as true friends. Jesus said, “I’ve told you these things for a purpose: that my joy might be your joy, and your joy wholly mature. This is my command: Love one another the way I loved you. This is the very best way to love. Put your life on the line for your friends. You are my friends when you do the things I command you. I’m no longer calling you servants because servants don’t understand what their master is thinking and planning. No, I’ve named you friends because I’ve let you in on everything I’ve heard from the Father.” -John 15:11-15 (MSG)

Let us be sure that we are faithful friends to those around us. We never know when we can be a help to those in need or they can be a help to us. No man is an island.

“I cannot even imagine where I would be today were it not for that handful of friends who have given me a heart full of joy. Let’s face it, friends make life a lot more fun.” ~Chuck Swindoll

My Prayer:
Father, thank you for the friends that you have given me; placed purposely in my life by you. They are such a blessing to me. May I too be a blessing to them. Help me to be the best friend that I can be to those special people that you have placed in my life. I want to love them like you do. Thank you too for being that friend that sticks closer than a brother, Lord. I do not know where I would be without you in my life. You are the best friend ever!

“Man proposes, God disposes”

Growing with God: A daily devotional with Tonia Slimm.

2 Samuel 17:14(NIV)
Absalom and all the men of Israel said, “The advice of Hushai the Arkite is better than that of Ahithophel.” For the Lord had determined to frustrate the good advice of Ahithophel in order to bring disaster on Absalom.

2 Samuel 17:14 (MSG)
Absalom and all his company agreed that the counsel of Hushai the Arkite was better than the counsel of Ahithophel. (God had determined to discredit the counsel of Ahithophel so as to bring ruin on Absalom.)
“Then Absalom and all the men of Israel said, “The advice of Hushai the Archite is better than that of Ahithophel.” For the Lord had ordained to thwart the good advice of Ahithophel, so that the Lord could bring disaster upon Absalom.” -AMPLIFIED

Today we will look at the fact that man may make his plans, but ultimately God controls the outcome. We will see the effects of God’s Divine Providence with Absalom. In fact,God blinded Absalom’s mind and influenced his heart. So much so, that Absalom did not feel confident in accepting Ahithophel’s counsel,but instead sought out Hushai’s advice and choose to follow it. In doing so, Absalom brought about his own downfall.

Solomon wrote these words of wisdom that we can learn much from today as we study His-story (God’s story). Solomon said, “Many are the plans in a person’s heart, but it is the LORD’s purpose that prevails.” -Proverbs 19:21 (NIV)
(The Living Bible actually paraphrases this verse as follows, “Man proposes, but God disposes.”)

We find in 2 Samuel 17, Ahithophel giving Absalom some sound advise. He said to Absalom, “Let me choose 12,000 men, and tonight we will pursue David while he is weak and weary. We’ll throw him into a panic; then all of the people will run away from him, come back to you, and be safe. I will strike down the king. If we take only the life of this one man here—your father—then everyone else can return to you.” -2 Samuel 17:1-3 (VOICE)

This advice sounded good to Absalom and his commanders, but he choose to seek out further recommendation and counsel from Hushai. This was by no means an accident. Remember, man may plan, but ultimately God’s purpose’s will prevail!

Absalom called in Hushai the Archite to see what he thought should be done. Hushai advised Absalom, “I don’t think the advice from Ahithophel is good this time, and I’ll tell you why: You know that your father and his men are hardened soldiers. Right now they’re angry, like a bear that’s been robbed of her cubs in the field. Also your father is such a wise warrior that he’ll know he’s our target. He won’t sleep in the same camp with his people. He’s probably hidden in a cave or some other hole where he will be hard to find. When our troops start dying in the first attack, everyone will say, “Absalom’s men are being slaughtered.” Then even the courageous warriors, the ones with the courage of lions, will disintegrate in fear. Everyone in Israel knows that your father is a true warrior, and those with him are hardened veterans. No, my counsel is to take your time. Gather the people of Israel, from Dan to Beersheba, so that you have a large army, like the grains of sand on the beach, and lead them into battle yourself. Wherever David is, we will fall on him like the dew on the ground. We’ll kill him and all who defend him. No one will remain. And if he slips into a fortified city, we’ll have so many men of Israel that we could lasso that city and pull it down into the valley, so that not even a stone would be left in place.” -2 Samuel 17:7-13 (VOICE)

Guess what? After hearing Hushai’s advice, “Absalom and his counselors decided that Hushai’s plan was better than Ahithophel’s, not knowing that the Eternal One had determined to thwart Ahithophel’s good advice and bring about Absalom’s destruction.” -2 Samuel 17:14 (VOICE)

All of this is a reminder to us that, “A man’s heart deviseth his way: but the LORD directeth his steps.” -Proverbs 16:9 (KJV)

It was Thomas a Kempis who wrote these words, “Man proposes, but God disposes”. It is a quote from his devotional “Of the Imitation of Christ”. The complete quote is as follows, “For the resolutions of the just depend rather on the grace of God than on their own wisdom; and in Him they always put their trust, whatever they take in hand. For man proposes, but God disposes; neither is the way of man in his own hands.”

People may make plans, but they cannot control the outcome of their plans; God determines how things will turn out. James, the brother of Jesus, also cautions us us about thinking that we have the ultimate control of what happens in our lives. James says, “Listen carefully, those of you who make your plans and say, “We are traveling to this city in the next few days. We’ll stay there for one year while our business explodes and revenue is up.” The reality is you have no idea where your life will take you tomorrow. You are like a mist that appears one moment and then vanishes another. It would be best to say, “If it is the Lord’s will and we live long enough, we hope to do this project or pursue that dream.” But your current speech indicates an arrogance that does not acknowledge the One who controls the universe, and this kind of big talking is the epitome of evil. So if you know the right way to live and ignore it, it is sin—plain and simple.”-James 4:13-17 (VOICE)

In the next few days we will look at how God ultimately had control of what was happening with Absalom, David, Ahithophel, Hushai and their choices. Suffice it to say, God is in control; we are not. We need to do our best to remember that fact; as well as trust that He has our best interests at heart.

My Prayer:
Lord, I realize that too often I rush ahead, making plans that are not necessarily in your will and plan. Forgive me, please. Help me to seek your face and your counsel first; not as an afterthought. You are in complete control of this great, big world and universe. Nothing ever happens that surprises you; which is something that I need to remember. Help me, Lord, to trust that you will work all things out for my good. I want to trust you more. Help me I pray.