Friday, July 19, 2013

Hope When It Really Hurts

Psalm 3 A Psalm of David, when he fled from Absalom his son. O Lord, how my adversaries have increased! Many are rising up against me. Many are saying of my soul, “There is no deliverance for him in God.” Selah. But You, O Lord, are a shield about me, my glory, and the One who lifts my head. I was crying to the Lord with my voice, and He answered me from His holy mountain. Selah. I lay down and slept; I awoke, for the Lord sustains me. I will not be afraid of ten thousands of people who have set themselves against me round about. Arise, O Lord; save me, O my God! For You have smitten all my enemies on the cheek; You have shattered the teeth of the wicked. Salvation belongs to the Lord; Your blessing be upon Your people! Selah.

It is very easy to read a psalm and ignore the first line—the line that says who wrote it and for what reason or what context. Psalm 3, which is an incredible psalm of deliverance, is a psalm written of when David fled from his own son who was seeking to have him put to death. It would have been a big deal for a king to be pursued by another power and seeking to save his life and the lives of his family, but to have to flee from the hands of his own son is something that most of us would have a hard time imagining. It is one thing to be attacked, it is entirely another to be betrayed by someone close. Yet I imagine that most of us can relate to this aspect of the account in one way or another.

Starting with 2 Samuel 13 we read the account of Absalom (David’s third-born son). We read of his full sister being raped by his oldest half-brother and then him having that brother, Amnon, killed, to his fleeing and subsequent return, even returning to a place of authority. Then we read of Absalom using his position of authority to build his own influence and favor which led to him declaring himself king in Hebron, where David himself was first made king and first ruled prior to moving to Jerusalem. 2 Samuel 15:12-16 records for us what happens next.

2 Samuel 15:12-16 And Absalom sent for Ahithophel the Gilonite, David’s counselor, from his city Giloh, while he was offering the sacrifices. And the conspiracy was strong, for the people increased continually with Absalom. Then a messenger came to David, saying, “The hearts of the men of Israel are with Absalom.” David said to all his servants who were with him at Jerusalem, “Arise and let us flee, for otherwise none of us will escape from Absalom. Go in haste, or he will overtake us quickly and bring down calamity on us and strike the city with the edge of the sword.” Then the king’s servants said to the king, “Behold, your servants are ready to do whatever my lord the king chooses.” So the king went out and all his household with him….”

As we progress through the account of what transpired, we find that Absalom did indeed enter Jerusalem and take authority in his father’s house. We even read in 2 Samuel 17:1-4 that his next step was to have his father pursued and put to death. 2 Samuel 17:1-4 Furthermore, Ahithophel said to Absalom, “Please let me choose 12,000 men that I may arise and pursue David tonight. I will come upon him while he is weary and exhausted and terrify him, so that all the people who are with him will flee. Then I will strike down the king alone, and I will bring back all the people to you. The return of everyone depends on the man you seek; then all the people will be at peace.”  So the plan pleased Absalom and all the elders of Israel.”

But then another plan was brought forth to which Absalom agreed, and then the one who brought the plan forth, Hushai, sent messengers to David to warn him of the plan. In doing this he changed the plan enough that the advantage shifted to David, and led even to Absalom’s death as is recorded in 2 Samuel 18:9-18.

While there was relief in the end of the uprising, there was also great mourning by David because the leader who died was still his son. We read in 2 Samuel 18:33, The king was deeply moved and went up to the chamber over the gate and wept. And thus he said as he walked, “O my son Absalom, my son, my son Absalom! Would I had died instead of you, O Absalom, my son, my son!” Of course this was not received well by those who had just fought on behalf of David, leading them to even feel that he had favored his rebellious son over their faithful service. David was confronted with this, and though his heart was broken for his son, he also recognized the faithful service of others, forgave those who were swayed by Absalom, and was himself restored to his kingdom.

Today Sarah writes about bringing God all of our feelings, and letting Him deal with them. As we know from Scripture our God does indeed know our every feeling, thought, and word before they ever approach our heart, mind, or tongue. David wrote about this so eloquently in his psalms to the Lord, and in particular we see this in Psalm 139:1-6. “For the choir director. A Psalm of David. O Lord, You have searched me and known me. You know when I sit down and when I rise up; You understand my thought from afar. You scrutinize my path and my lying down, and are intimately acquainted with all my ways. Even before there is a word on my tongue, behold, O Lord, You know it all. You have enclosed me behind and before, and laid Your hand upon me. Such knowledge is too wonderful for me; it is too high, I cannot attain to it.”

Just as we know David found solace and hope from God, we too can find it in those intense times when we come before Him openly, admitting our thoughts and our hurts and then focusing on who He is and His ability to handle our problems. This is true of the really big ones like David experienced with his family and the small ones we experience on a daily basis. There is nothing too big or too small for our God, and in that we can truly praise Him.

Today in “Jesus Calling” by Sarah Young (7/19)

Bring Me all your feelings, even the ones you wish you didn’t have. Fear and anxiety still plague you. Feelings per se are not sinful, but they can be temptations to sin. Blazing missiles of fear fly at you day and night; these attacks from the evil one come at you relentlessly. Use your shield of faith to extinguish those flaming arrows. Affirm your trust in Me, regardless of how you feel. If you persist, your feelings will eventually fall in line with your faith.

Do not hide from your fear or pretend it isn’t there. Anxiety that you hide in the recesses of your heart will give birth to fear of fear: a monstrous stepchild. Bring your anxieties out into the Light of My Presence, where we can deal with them together. Concentrate on trusting Me, and fearfulness will gradually lose its foothold within you.

In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Ephesians 6:16

This is the message we have heard from him and declare to you: God is light; in him there is no darkness at all. If we claim to have fellowship with him yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not live by the truth. But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin. 1 John 1:5-7

“Surely God is my salvation; I will trust and not be afraid. The Lord, the Lord, is my strength and my song; he has become my salvation.” Isaiah 12:2

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