1:1-27 – ‘How are the mighty fallen!’ (19,25,27). The tragedy of Saul was there for all to see. He had made a right mess of things! What are we to think when we read of this tragic figure? He started out so well. He ended so badly. There were high hopes – but it all came to nothing. Do we not see ourselves in Saul? – This could happen to me, if I’m not careful. The danger signs are there. Satan is at hand. He is ready to sweep in. He will sweep the feet away from us, if we don’t watch out. We are very weak, but the Lord is ‘able to keep us from falling’ (Jude 24-25). These are things we must never forget – our own weakness and the strength of the Lord. Disaster threatens. Tragedy looms. Jesus draws near. He speaks His Word – ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for My power is made perfect in weakness’ (2 Corinthians 12:9). By grace, we shall stand!
2:1-32 – It was a new beginning. There was a new king. Saul was gone. He had been replaced by David. One thing had not changed. The Lord is King. To know His blessing – His ‘steadfast love and faithfulness’ – is more important than anything else. We look beyond the servants of the Lord. We look to the Lord Himself (4-7). The names and the faces change – Saul, David, – but the Lord never changes’. Some liked one king – ‘If only we had Saul back again’. Some preferred the other – ‘Things can only get better, now that David’s here’. Some people would never be happy. There was no pleasing them. What is the most important thing of all? – Keep your eyes on the Lord. God’s servants are not in competition with one another. They are not trying to outdo each other. Let God be glorified!
3:1-39 – ‘There was a long war between the house of Saul and the house of David’ (1) – What a sad situation! It was shameful. It was sinful – a scandalous situation, which brought no glory to the Lord. The conflict seemed to go on and on – it was ‘a long war’. Perhaps, there were times when things didn’t seem too bad. Still, the problem showed no sign of going away. They were at ‘war’ with one another. Is there any hope in a situation like this? We may wonder. Humanly speaking, things seem to go round in circles. There appears to be some progress, then there is another outbreak of violence. There is hope. Our hope is in the Lord. He continues to speak His Word – ‘…I will save My people… from the hand of all their enemies’ (18). Whatever happens, don’t forget the Word of the Lord.
4:1-5:25 – ‘…They came into the house… and slew him…’ (4:7). What are we to make of this kind of thing? – ‘What’s the world coming to?’. Where’s it all going to end?’. It is difficult to maintain real faith in the Lord when this kind of thing is going on. What are we to do? Don’t bury your head in the sand. Don’t pretend that such things are not happening. Don’t imagine that they will just go away. ‘Inquire of the Lord’. ‘Do as the Lord commands’. Keep on believing that there will be a breakthrough – from the Lord (19,23,25,20). Can you ‘hear the sound of rustling in the leaves of the trees’? – ‘The Spirit of the Lord has come down on the earth’. Let us ‘rise, a mighty array, at the bidding of the Lord – The Spirit won’t be hindered by division in the perfect work that Jesus has begun’ (24; John 3:8; Mission Praise, 274).
6:1-23 – ‘When she saw King David leaping and dancing before the Lord, she despised him in her heart’ (16). Michal was a very angry young woman. Her husband had embarrassed her and she didn’t like it! What had David done to deserve this? – ‘I will celebrate before the Lord’ (21). This is really quite pathetic. God’s children are learning to ‘worship Him in Spirit and in truth’ (John 4:23-24). In comes ‘the stiff upper lip brigade’. They have no real heart for worship. They put a dampener on it – ‘This has to stop’. This is not only pathetic. It is sinful. ‘Do not quench the Spirit… Do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God… Be filled with Spirit, addressing one another in psalms, hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody to the Lord with all your heart…’ (1 Thessalonians 5:19; Ephesians 4:30; 5:18-20).
7:1-29 – David was king. God was looking on the next king, Solomon. Knowing the kind of man Solomon would become, God speaks of chastening: ‘When he does wrong, I will chasten him’. This chastening is an expression of God’s ‘steadfast love’: ‘Those whom I love, I rebuke and chasten’. How do we respond to God’s chastening? Don’t be like ‘Saul’. He was ‘put away from’ being king because of his continual disobedience. ‘Be zealous and repent’. When you are being chastened, don’t forget the love of God: ‘The Lord disciplines him whom He loves, and chastises every son whom He receives’. Why does God chasten His children? – ‘He disciplines us for our good, that we may share His holiness’. Beyond the ‘pain’ of ‘discipline’, there is ‘the peaceful fruit of righteousness’ (14-15; Revelation 3:19; Hebrews 12:5-11).
8:1-9:13 – David was involved in many battles with his enemies. Their antagonism had been aroused by his strong stand for the Lord. David enjoyed many victories. Why? – ‘The Lord gave victory to David wherever he went’ (8:6,14). Jesus said, ‘Apart from Me you can do nothing’ (John 15:5). We are not left on our own. Through ‘the kindness of God’, we receive strength (9:3). ‘The heart of the Eternal is most wonderfully kind’. Through His kindness, He has provided ‘plentiful redemption’. When, through the kindness of God, we enjoy His victory let’s not forget, ‘Every virtue we possess, every victory won, every thought of holiness, are His alone’ (Church Hymnary, 218,336). The ‘victory’ does not come from ourselves. It is ‘the victory of our God’: ‘Sing to the Lord… He has done marvellous things’ (Psalms 44:3; 98:1-3)!
10:1-11:27 – ‘May the Lord do what seems good to Him’ (10:12). This is the attitude we ought to have. This is the ideal: ‘Your will be done in earth as it is in heaven’; ‘Not as I will, but as You will’ (Matthew 6:10; 26:39). Often, we do not live up to the ideal – ‘the thing that David had done displeased the Lord’ (11:27). Throughout life, there are choices between our own will and the will of the Lord. Sometimes, we make wrong choices. We choose our own way rather than the Lord’s way. Throughout life, God is speaking to us. He is trying to get our attention. He wants it to be less of self and more of Him. He is leading us to say from the heart, ‘As for God, His way is perfect’ (22:31; Psalm 18:30). May we have this testimony: ‘I have kept the ways of the Lord; I have not done evil by turning from my God’ (Psalm 18:21).
12:1-31 – Here, we learn much about God’s dealings with sinners. In verse 7, there is conviction of sin – ‘You are the man’. In verse 13, we have confession of sin – ‘I have sinned against the Lord’ – and forgiveness of sin – ‘The Lord has taken away your sin’. In verse 20, there is the restoration of the sinner – ‘washed… anointed… changed… he went into the house of the Lord, and worshipped’. These were not easy times for David – ‘the child died’ (18). Later on, ‘a son’ was born (24). Sometimes, good things are happening to us. Sometimes, bad things are happening. ‘The Lord loved him’ (24): ‘Through all the changing scenes of life, in trouble and in joy’, never forget ‘His love’ (Mission Praise, 702). Our circumstances change. His love never changes. When you’re feeling down, let His love lift you up!
13:1-39 – Lust is very different from love. What appeared to be ‘love’ turned into ‘very great hatred’ – ‘The heart is deceitful… and desperately wicked’ (14-15; Jeremiah 17:9). Things went from bad to worse. The ‘one-off’ event became a consistent and continuing rejection (16). Things continued to get worse. ‘Absalom hated Amnon’. He refused to speak to him (22). Could things get any worse? – Yes. Absalom and Amnon were murdered (28-29). Where is God in all this? His Name does not appear in this whole chapter. Is He absent? – No. He is there. He is warning us. This is what can happen if you forget about God! He is the God of holiness: ‘the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and wickedness of men…’ (Romans 1:18). He is the God of love. He call us to confess our sins and be forgiven (1 John 1:9).
14:1-33 – David loved Absalom – ‘the king’s heart went out to Absalom’ (1). David could not bring himself to forgive Absalom: ‘Let him dwell apart in his own house; he is not to come into my presence’ (24). God loves us. God forgives us. We dare not come to Him in pride – ‘I’m really not that bad. I’m really quite good’. We must come to Him with a real confession of sin: ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you; I am no longer worthy to be called your son’. In ourselves, we are ‘lost’. In Christ, we are ‘found’. In ourselves, we are ‘dead’. In Christ, we are ‘made alive’ (Luke 15:21,24; Ephesians 2:1,5). In Christ, we see God’s love. Through Christ, we receive God’s forgiveness. Christ does not leave us ‘out on a limb’. He is preparing a place for us – in His Father’s House (John 14:1-3). This is love – without limits!
15:1-37 – There is a great difference between human popularity and divine approval. Here, we have human popularity – ‘The conspiracy grew strong, and the people with Absalom kept increasing’ (12). In Acts 5:14, we have divine approval – ‘More than ever believers were added to the Lord, multitudes both of men and women’. Conspiracy involves man seeking to get his own way. Revival comes when we ‘let go and let God have His wonderful way’. ‘Carry the ark of God back into the city’ (25). In the ark of God, we have the Word of God among the people of God. If the people of God are to enjoy the blessing of God, they must live according to the Word of God. We organize things to suit ourselves. This is conspiracy. God is not in it. Look to God. Listen for His Word. Live in the light of His Word. This is God’s way to revival.
16:1-23 – What is more important to you – your own reputation or the glory of God? ‘Curse David’ – This was the last thing David wanted to hear. It may, however, have been what he needed to hear. Here, we see David’s true spiritual stature. This was not a ‘feel good’ message. David recognized that this might be what the Lord was saying to him (10). He speaks against us so that we might learn to stop speaking against Him. He speaks of His righteousness that we might see our own unrighteousness. He speaks of His judgment that we might see how hopeless our situation is without Christ. He speaks of our sin that we might be brought to Christ for salvation (John 16:8-11; Isaiah 64:6; Romans 3:23; 1 John 1:8-2:2). Let there be no more talk of your righteousness. Confess your sins and trust the Saviour.
17:1-29 – Here, we have a tragic train of events. Ahithophel’s advice was ‘not good’. His advice ‘was not followed’. He ‘hanged’ himself (7,23). Without going into detail about this particular suicide, we may make some general comments about coping with life’s difficulties. Things don’t go according to plan. Our hopes are dashed. Nothing seems to work out. Everything seems to go wrong. We allow things to get on top of us. Very quickly and very easily, things can get completely out of control. Everything is out of proportion. It seems like there is nothing worth living for. Suicide becomes a strangely attractive way out. What are we to do when such thoughts fill our minds? – Remember God’s promise: “The peace of God, which passes all understanding, will keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:7).
18:1-33 – Some die young. Others live to a ripe old age. None of us can predict what lies ahead of us. There are some things that are beyond our control. We look at what is happening and we say, ‘I wish things could be different’. Absalom had been killed. David wished he could have died instead of him. It was not to be. Each of us must die our own death: ‘No man can redeem the life of another or give to God a ransom for him – the ransom for a life is costly, no payment is ever enough – that he should live on for ever and not see decay’ (Psalm 49:7-9). There is, however, a ‘Man’ who has died for us – Jesus Christ, ‘our Lord and our God’. He ‘gave Himself as a ransom for all’. ‘Christ died for sins, once for all, the righteous for the unrighteous, to bring you to God’ (John 20 28; 1 Timothy 2:5-6; 1 Peter 3:18).
19:1-39 – ‘My lord the king is like an angel of God in discerning good and evil’ (27;14:17). Setting God’s servants on a pedestal is a dangerous thing. Don’t imagine that they will always get it right. They won’t. They have their faults and failings as well as everyone else. They need forgiveness just as much as anyone else. They look great – from a distance. The closer you get to them, the more you see that they’re not all they’re cracked up to be. From a distance, they seem like spiritual giants. Close up, they’re not so impressive. Build up God’s servants with unrealistically high expectations, and you’re setting them up for a very great fall. The closer you get to them, the smaller they become. There’s one Man who’s different: our Lord Jesus Christ – The closer you get to Him, the bigger He becomes!
19:40-20:26 – ‘The words of the men of Judah were fiercer than the words of the men of Israel’ (43). At the heart of all this conflict was Sheba. He was a real trouble-maker. ‘A worthless fellow’, he was up to no good. A complainer, he wreaked havoc among God’s people. He was out to make an impression – and he succeeded. Sadly, it was all negative. He did a great deal of ‘harm’ (1-2,6). How sad it is when there is strife among God’s people! God’s Word speaks out strongly against this kind of thing: ‘While there is jealousy and strife among you, are you not of the flesh…?’. Strife can arise when we attach too much importance to certain individuals and pay too little attention to the Lord: ‘“I belong to Paul”… “I belong to Apollos”’. Remember – ‘Paul planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the growth’ (1 Corinthians 3:3-7).
21:1-22:7 – There’s no two ways about it. God’s people were getting it rough. There seemed to be so many problems. Were they to give up hope? – Not a bit of it! Read verse 14 – ‘After that God heeded supplications for the land’. What happened when God heard and answered the prayers of His people? – ‘the plague was averted from Israel’ (24:25). Things would have been an awful lot worse, if it was not for the Lord hearing and answering prayer! Keep on praying. Keep on believing that God hears and answers prayer. He is not a tragic victim of circumstances – ‘Poor God. He can do nothing about it all’. Don’t believe that. That’s the lie of the devil. He is still the living God. Things are not out of His control. He is still on the throne. God can, if we will – ‘If my people…’ (2 Corinthians 7:14). Pray ‘for the land’!
22:8-51 – David’s ‘song’ of praise is also found in Psalm 18. Some things are worth repeating! David is praising the Lord. He is giving glory to Him. We must never tire of praising God. We can never praise Him enough. He is always greater than our inadequate worship. He is ‘worthy to be praised’ (4). Again and again, we must lift our hearts and voices to Him in praise. Think of the Lord. Think of how great He is. Think of how much He loves you. Think of how much He has done for you. Let your song of praise rise to Him: ‘The Lord lives; and blessed be my Rock, and exalted be my God, the Rock of my salvation’ (47; Mission Praise, 306). Some things are worth repeating – when we’re giving all the praise and glory to the Lord! Praising the Lord – We were created for this. We have been redeemed for this.
23:1-39 – By birth, David was ‘the son of Jesse’. By grace, he was ‘the man who was raised on high, the anointed of the God of Jacob, the sweet psalmist of Israel’ (1). What we are in ourselves is nothing compared with what we can become through the grace of God! Look at David. Listen to what he says, ‘The Spirit of the Lord speaks by me, His Word is upon my tongue’ (2). What had David done to deserve this? What was so special about him? Nothing – This was the work of God, the work of divine grace. In ourselves, we are ‘godless’, good for nothing, ‘like thorns that are thrown away’ (6). In ourselves, we are not ‘mighty men’ (8-9). How can we be changed? – ‘The Lord wrought a great victory’ (10,12). Which of us can be described as ‘a valiant man… a doer of great deeds’ (20) – apart from the grace of God? ‘By grace you have been saved…’(Ephesians 2:8-10).
24:1-25 – Here, we see the spirit of pride. David wanted to ‘know the number of the people’ (2). Why? He wanted to feel important – ‘the big man’. He was not giving the glory to the Lord. He was taking it for himself. Did God give up on David – ‘a hopeless case, too full of himself and his own importance’? Of course not! The Lord, whose ‘mercy is great’, drew David back to Himself. David confessed his sin – ‘I have sinned greatly… I have done very foolishly… I have sinned and I have done wickedly’ (10,17). David was accepted by the Lord – ‘The Lord your God accepts you’. He was brought from pride to praise (23,25). This is what God has done for us. We are ‘accepted in the Beloved’ – ‘to the praise of His glorious grace’ (Ephesians 1:6).