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key ready to start ignition May 14 Chronological Bible Study

Timeline. Map. Go to today’s Bible reading: 2Samuel 18:19 - 20:26; Psalm 140

Starting Over

Bankruptcies, divorce, the loss of a spouse or child, the loss of a coach, or a business failure are all instances where we must start over. We may grieve over our losses, but eventually we must go on with our lives. And, though we may not feel like it, we must also go on living and plan for the future. However, sometimes there are residual effects when we start over after we have sinned or made mistakes. What do we do about them and how can we make a better plan? King David faced an instance where he had to start over. What he did in his situation will help us.

David was looking for God to deliver him from being killed by Absalom’s army as they hunted him down. Nevertheless, he loved his treacherous son. David gave specific instructions to his army that if they should meet Absalom, they would be gentle with him. He was hoping that he could just be captured, not killed. Absalom's sudden death, however, caused him to grieve with loud wailing. This caused David's army, which had been victorious over Absalom's army, to return shamefully as if they had been defeated.

Then Joab went into the house to the king and said, “Today you have humiliated all your men, who have just saved your life and the lives of your sons and daughters and the lives of your wives and concubines. You love those who hate you and hate those who love you. You have made it clear today that the commanders and their men mean nothing to you. I see that you would be pleased if Absalom were alive today and all of us were dead. Now go out and encourage your men. I swear by the LORD that if you don't go out, not a man will be left with you by nightfall. This will be worse for you than all the calamities that have come upon you from your youth till now,” (2Samuel 19:5-7, NIV).

David had to put aside his immediate grief and encourage his troops, even though it was through their victory that Absalom was dead. Joab was right; if David had not encouraged his troops, they would have deserted him because they had fought valiantly for their king. That, however, did not make David’s duties any easier. Sometimes we have to take care of our responsibilities even when we do not feel like it.

Having lost their king, Absalom, the ten tribes of Israel soon wanted David back. David's estrangement from the tribes of Israel during his exile, and the defeat of Absalom, however, caused hard feelings between the tribes of Israel and Judah.

The tribes of Israel and the tribe of Judah were divided. David needed to reunite them. How did he do it? First, David did not seek revenge but forgave those who offended and abused him. David also tried to bring the tribes together by smart diplomacy and the appointment of new leadership that would be more accepted by the Israelites. He appointed Amasa, his nephew, to replace Joab, who had killed Israel's leader, Absalom. In fulfillment of Samuel's prophecy (2Samuel 12:9,10), however, more blood was to be shed in David's family. Joab killed his cousin Amasa out of jealousy for his lost rank in David's army and Amasa’s perceived treachery.

Unfortunately, the reuniting of the tribes was also hampered by loyalty issues, hurt feelings and a troublemaker named Sheba. When the tribe of Judah tried to assert its superior standing with David, because he was one of their own,

Sheba sounded the trumpet and shouted, “We have no share in David, no part in Jesse's son! Every man to his tent, O Israel!” So all the men of Israel deserted David to follow Sheba son of Bicri. But the men of Judah stayed by their king all the way from the Jordan to Jerusalem (2Samuel 20:1b-2, NIV).

David returned to the palace, which was close to the border of Ephraim, but he did not return with a united nation. Achieving unity is not always easy. Sometimes you have to put down rebellion or deal with other troubles. Sheba began a rebellion (Psalm 140 was probably written about this time). David's troops under Joab’s command pursued Sheba to Abel Beth Maacah, a city of Israel. A wise woman from the city interceded for her people. She conferred with Jacob concerning his purpose. When she found out he only wanted Sheba, she counseled her people to cut off his head and toss it over the city wall to save their city from destruction. Satisfied, Joab and his army retreated and went home. She acted wisely and saved her city. When we are in conflict, we need to act astutely (not to imply that we should cut off anyone's head to solve a problem).

Though there were residual effects and disunities in David’s kingdom, God gave him a chance to start over. Our next Bible study shows us how David finally unified the people and brought about peace in the kingdom.

Lessons to live by:

  • Sin and our mistakes have consequences; there are residual effects we must often deal with when we start over.
  • Sometimes we have to take care of our responsibilities, even when we do not feel like it.
  • To heal factions, do not seek revenge. Forgive those who hurt you. Be diplomatic and show honor.
  • Achieving unity is not always easy. Sometimes you have to put down rebellion (in a lawful way, of course)
  • When we are in conflict, we need to act astutely.
  • Praise the LORD! The mercies and grace of the LORD are everlasting for those who are truly sorry and repent. He gives us the chance to start over. (more...)

Today’s Bible memory verse:

Psalm 140:13 “Surely the righteous will praise your name and the upright will live before you.” (NIV)

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