Zion is the city of David and the city of God. Zion once was a fortress that belonged to the Jebusites. The name is not only for the fortress but also for the hill on which the fortress stood. After capturing the stronghold of Zion by defeating the Jebusites, David called Zion “the city of David” (I Kings 8:1; 1 Chronicles 11:5; 2 Chronicles 5:2).
The Jebusites had challenged David saying, “You will not get in here.” Nevertheless David captured the fortress of Zion. Then he took up residence in the fortress, and so it was called the City of David. David then moved his headquarters from his hometown of Hebron to Zion because it was centrally located and because the Lord Almighty was with him.
When people challenge you by saying you can't do something, prove to them that with God's help you can. Prove to them that you can march up to Zion, that beautiful city of God and take refuge there because God is with you.
The Two-Second Window
And as the ark of the LORD came into the city of David, Michal, Saul's daughter looked through a window, and saw king David leaping and dancing before the LORD; and she despised him in her heart. (2 Samuel 6:16)
In the above scripture, Michal looked out her two-second window. What she did during that short period of time impacted the rest of her life. Because she despised the king, her own husband, God caused her to be barren.
Would you be surprised to know that, like Michal, two seconds could change your life as well? Two seconds is not a lot of time when you have to make major decisions. Even now you might be looking out a two-second window having to make a decision that will change your life. This pause, as short as it is, is time enough to rely on God's intervention as well as your own providence if you have prepared in advance.
There will come a time when you will have to make a split decision such as giving the doctors permission to operate on a loved one, whether to turn right or left at a busy intersection, or whether to say yes or no to an engagement proposal. Once that two-second window has been closed, it is unlikely to be opened again under the same conditions.
Have you ever had your brakes serviced and on your way home from the auto shop a child crosses the street in front of you, and you had to slam on your brakes to miss hitting the child? That's providence because the outcome was favorable because you (and your brakes) were prepared for that two-second window of time.
Have you ever been in desperate need for a job and a friend told you about one the same day the vacancy closed? Because you already had an up-to-date resume, it was no problem for you to hand deliver it on the deadline, and you subsequently got the job. That's providence because you took advantage of your two-second window and did not say, "Ah, it's too late to apply."
God gives us two-second windows all the time. It is during that short period of time that we have to make decisions that will affect our lives and those connected to us. Many people lose because they are not prepared for the two-second window. Remember the person whose brakes were fixed just in time? Remember the person who hand delivered the resume just in time? They were prepared.
Right now each of us stand looking out a two-second window. We should neither let our two-second window slip by nor should we despise what we see. Knowing that our two-second window doesn't stay open for long, we can make the best decision when we rely on God's Providence and our own preparedness.
A Good Idea Vs. A God Idea
I will raise up your offspring to succeed you, who will come from your own body, and I will establish his kingdom. He is the one who will build a house for my Name, and I will establish the throne of his kingdom forever. (2 Samuel 7:12-13)
David's idea to build a house for God was a good one, but God said, "No!" This does not mean that God rejected David. In fact, God intended to do something greater in David's life. God turned down David's request to build the temple, but God promised David that he would find rest from his enemies and his line would continue on the throne forever.
David's idea to build the temple surely was a good idea, but it was not a God idea. After God explained the situation to David, David prayed a prayer of thanksgiving for the mighty acts God had already bestowed upon him. (2 Samuel 7:18:29)
Do you have a good idea to do something for God or God's people but the anointing just isn't there? Perhaps, it is a good idea, but is it a God idea? When you try to do something in your own strength without God's blessing, there is a struggle to get it done. God will not bless a situation that you thought up on your own. He must agree with it to put His stamp of approval on it. Then you will be able to finish any task, any project, or any assignment with ease because it is not just a good idea; it is a God idea.
David asked, "Is there still anyone left of the house of Saul to whom I may show kindness for Jonathan's sake?" (2 Samuel 9:1)
Jonathan and David were best friends. Jonathan and his father Saul died on Mount Gilboa in battle. Mephibosheth, the son of Jonathan was only five years old when the tragedy occurred. When the child's nurse heard the sad news, she fled for his life thinking Mephibosheth would be sought and killed as well. "He fell and became lame" (2 Samuel 4:4) and for the rest of his life Mephibosheth was crippled. He was crippled but not forgotten.
When King David consolidated his kingdom, he remembered his covenant with his friend Jonathan to treat his family with kindness. David searched for and found Mephibosheth and summoned him to his palace. David restored the estate of Saul and gave it to his grandson. He also gave him servants and a place at the royal table (2 Samuel 9:7-13).
Mephibosheth was crippled but not forgotten. If you feel crippled today, be encouraged. You are not forgotten. God will restore you through someone who will remember you and offer you kindness. You, too, will be given blessings. But even if no one on earth remembers you, God does. And He will give you a place at the royal table. YOU ARE NOT FORGOTTEN!
And the king said unto him, Where is he? And Ziba said unto the king, Behold, he is in the house of Machir, the son of Ammiel, in Lo-Debar. (2 Samuel 9:4)
Whether you know where Lo-Debar is or not, you have been there. In fact, some of you are in Lo-Debar right now. Where is Lo-Debar? What does it mean to be in Lo-Debar? More importantly, how does one get out of Lo-Debar? (Both Lo-Debar and Lodebar appear in the Bible).
David and Jonathan were soulmates. They made a vow that if something happened to one of them, the other would look out for the other's relatives. After Saul and Jonathan were both killed in battle, David sent for Jonathan's son, Mephibosheth, who was now crippled and living in an undesirable place named Lo-Debar. The word "Lo-Debar" means "land of no pasture." If it is a land of no pasture, then it is a barren place. Mephibosheth is hiding out in a place with no pasture, and now King David who was once a shepherd boy finds out that his best friend's son is in a barren land, a land with no pasture.
Lo-Debar is not a place one can get out on his or her own. Someone has to bring you out of Lo-Debar. "Then king David sent, and fetched him out of the house of Machir, the son of Ammiel, from Lo-Debar. (2 Samuel 9:5)
Perhaps you are crippled in Lo-Debar. Perhaps you have shame and guilt and are hiding out in Lo-Debar. If that is the case, know that God sent His Son to fetch you out of Lo-Debar. You are invited to the King's table. While your feet or something else might be crippled under the table, you are honored, loved, respected and provided for.
Be willing to be fetched out of Lo-Debar and welcomed at the King's table where He has a place reserved just for YOU!
Just One Look
When the woman SAW that the fruit of the tree was good for food and pleasing to the eye . . ." (Genesis 3:6) "From the roof he SAW a woman bathing. (2 Samuel 11:2)
These two scriptures begin the stories that changed the lives of all around them. In fact, in the first scripture what Eve SAW changed all of our lives. That's how sin starts -- with just one look. Sin begins with what we see. Thus, we have the phrase "See no evil."
A close study of both of the above instances will reveal that Eve and David looked at what was tempting. Eve looked at the fruit before she sinned. After just one look, she took the fruit and sinned when she ate the fruit. David did the same thing with Bathsheba. David looked at her and saw that she was beautiful. After just one look, he took her into his own bed and sinned.
The battle is often lost with the first look. Sin starts and then it becomes full blown. Temptation often begins by simply seeing something you want. Eve saw the fruit from the forbidden tree. David saw a beautiful woman that belonged to someone else. Neither of them turned away. In both instances, the lust of the eyes of one person grew to affect millions. And to think, it all started with just one look.
Looking in the Mirror
Then Nathan said to David, "You are the man! . . . Now, therefore, the sword will never depart from your house, because you despised me and took the wife of Uriah the Hittite to be your own." (2 Samuel 12:7a; 10)
Through the prophet Nathan, David had to look in the mirror and see his own sin. He committed adultery with Bathsheba. When he discovered she was pregnant, David put his royal plan into motion. When David's plan did not work, he devised another one: the death of Uriah. When news comes that Uriah is dead, Bathsheba laments. David, as a good and compassionate king in the eyes of the people, takes in the poor, bereaved widow and she becomes his wife. It seems to be the end of the matter.
It is the end until the prophet Nathan holds a mirror before David and tells him a parable about a rich man who steals a poor man's only ewe lamb. David's anger is greatly kindled and says to Nathan, "As surely as the Lord lives, the one who did this deserves to die!" (2 Samuel 12:5) And Nathan holds the mirror closer to David's face and forces David to look at himself and says, "You are the man. You are the man in the mirror." You are the one who coveted, committed adultery, lied, and murdered. Then David confesses, "Behold, I have sinned against the Lord" (2 Samuel 12:13).
Notice David had already pronounced God's judgment on the sinner before he saw HIMSELF in the mirror. Then David's life began to unravel. He suffered the death of three sons, his daughter was raped by one of her brothers, and one son tried to usurp his throne. At the end of David's life, he was a beaten and brokenhearted man, shivering and unable to get warm. Even though David confessed and God forgave him, David still had to suffer the consequences of that one act many years ago. See how sin begins with a single act and has an impact that lasts a lifetime not only for you but for others as well!
What if a modern day prophet would hold a mirror before your face? What would you see? After seeing your sin, would you confess it like David, or would you push the mirror away not wanting to face or repent for it?
Results of Confession
Then David said to Nathan, "I have sinned against the Lord." Nathan replied, "The Lord has taken away your sin." (2 Samuel 12:13)
Confession clears the way for forgiveness. Forgiveness is available for any sin you commit, but it not an automatic thing. You can't program your forgiveness in advance. To do this is to commit a premeditated sin. If you do this, you are mocking God. You thought about it, and you knew it was wrong. Otherwise, you would not have asked for forgiveness. If you trust God enough to forgive you, why not trust Him enough to take away your desire to sin?
Confession clears the way for true worship. Honest confession should preceded worship because we cannot have a right relationship with God if we are holding onto some sin in our lives. Confession clears the way for real fellowship. In the Kingdom of God, every believer is a priest to other believers (1 Peter 2:9). You do not have right relationship with God or true fellowship with other believers with unconfessed sin in your life.
Confession clears the way for freedom. A burden is lifted from you when you confess your sins. You give them to God who can forgive you. Keeping them to yourself does nothing except burden you down with guilt, shame, humiliation, and condemnation. Confess any unconfessed sin in your life right now because "if we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness" (1 John 1:9).
Holding On Because of Faith
He said, "While the child was still alive, I fasted and wept; for I said, "Who knows? The Lord may be gracious to me, and the child may live." But now he is dead; why should I fast? Can I bring him back again? I shall go to him, but he will not return to me." (2 Samuel 12:22-23)
People handle grief in different ways. But one thing is certain about grief. While it does test our faith, it also gives us an opportunity to grow through it. The above passage is about David mourning for the baby he had with Bathsheba. David admits while the child was alive he fasted and wept. David says now that the child is dead there is absolutely nothing he can do for him. Surely, he cannot bring him back to life. The consolation David has is that while the child cannot come back to him, David can go to where the child is. How can David go to him? How can we go to our loved ones who have departed this life?
We can accept Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior. We can make sure our loved ones have accepted Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior before they die. And then we can see one another in the resurrection. Jesus said, "I am the resurrection and the life. Those who believe in me, though they die, will live, and everyone who lives and believes in me will never die. (John 11:25-26)
I will see my brother who departed this life yesterday. I will see him again in the resurrection. I am holding on because of my faith.
The King's Kids
"O my son Absalom, my son, my son Absalom, if only I had died in your place!
O Absalom my son, my son!" (2 Samuel 18:33)
David was the first king of Israel with descendants on the throne. David was a mighty warrior. David was a psalmist. David was a man after God's own heart. David was the ancestor of Jesus Christ. However, the Bible records something interesting about the king's kids that included rape, incest, murder and conspiracy.
The first child born to David and Bathsheba died at birth. (2 Samuel 12:19) One son, Amnon, raped and humiliated his half-sister, Tamar, incurring the wrath of Absalom, Tamar's full brother. Absalom had Amnon murdered. (2 Samuel 13:1-22) Fearing his father's wrath, Absalom fled but returned after three years to fight in battle against his own father. (2 Samuel 15) Another son, Adonijah declared himself king as David commissioned his son, Solomon to the throne. (1 Kings 1:1-53) Amnon, Absalom, and Adonijah all met with tragic deaths; two at the hands of their own brothers. Though wise and rich, Solomon died declaring, "Life is meaningless." (Book of Ecclesiastes)
Even though David was a man's after God's own heart, he was not exempt from the hurt imposed on him by his children. One of the most touching verses in the Bible is 2 Samuel 18:33. Against David's command, Absalom was killed when he went into battle against David. Upon hearing of the news of his son's death, David moaned, "O my son Absalom, my son, my son Absalom, if only I had died in your place! O Absalom my son, my son!"
Parenting is sometimes difficult no matter how close we are to God and even if the children are the king's kids.
Give Me My Space
He brought me forth also into a large place: he delivered me, because he delighted in me. (2 Samuel 22:20; Psalm 18:19).
Most of the psalms David wrote appear in the book of Psalms based on his experiences recorded in 1 and 2 Samuel. The entire chapter of 2 Samuel 22 is a psalm of praise that is repeated in Psalm 18. Both 2 Samuel 22 and Psalm 18 record David's praise after he was delivered from the hand of all his enemies. First, David acknowledges who God is. Secondly, he gives examples of God's goodness. Thirdly, he gives the reason God showed him favor: "He delivered me because he delighted in me."
God showed favor and kindness to David not because of God's general provision that we all get. God showed special favor to David because David enjoyed sweet communion with God. David's life was spared in many instances, and God blessed him in extraordinary ways with deliverance and space. David was especially thankful because God brought him into a large place.
What's so important about a large place? Space was a result of God's favor because David had been hiding in caves and strongholds as he ran from his enemies. David needed room to thrive. He needed room to move about.
Prison cells are small to confine, to constrain and to constrict. When prisoners misbehave, they are sent to solitary confinement as a harsher punishment where the space is even smaller. We often tell people, "Give me my space" because no one wants to be hemmed in. Space is needed for a healthy environment that will promote growth.
You have probably never thought of space as being part of God's favor. If you are in a large space (physically or metaphorically), thank God. If you are not in a large space, pray the Prayer of Jabez that God will "enlarge your territory." (1 Chronicles 4:10). Also, remember that being in a large place is the result of God's delight in you.
The Rubber Band Effect
I pursued my enemies and crushed them; I did not turn back till they were destroyed. I crushed them completely, and they could not rise; they fell beneath my feet. (2 Samuel 22:38-39)
A rubber band is most useful when it is s-t-r-e-t-c-h-e-d. An unused rubber band keeps its original shape while it is still in the package or laying on someone's desk doing nothing. It is not fulfilling the purpose for which it was designed. And so it is with Christians. We need to be s-t-r-e-t-c-h-e-d out of our comfort zone in order to grow and do serious work for the kingdom of God. Indeed, it is safe to stay put and motionless waiting for others to do what needs to be done while we sit on the sidelines and complain about the problem instead of becoming part of the solution.
In the above scripture, David gives the results of being s-t-r-e-t-c-h-e-d beyond measure like a rubber band to defeat his enemies. After he defeated them, he returned to his position of rest and restoration until his next battle. Then, like a useful rubber band, David returned to the battlefield to be s-t-r-e-t-c-h-e-d all over again.
Adopt "the rubber band effect" and be s-t-r-e-t-c-h-e-d for the sake of the gospel.
This is what the Lord says: "I am giving you three options. Choose one of them for me to carry out against you." (2 Samuel 24:12-14)
This is like our mothers telling us to select the switch she is going to beat us with. David sinned by taking a census and putting his trust in military power instead of trusting God. God told David his punishment would be either one of three options: (1) Three years of famine in the land; or (2) three months of fleeing from his enemies while they pursue him; or (3) three days of plague in the land.
David chose what he thought to be the lesser of the three evils. He said, "I am in great distress. Let me fall into the hands of the Lord, for his mercy is great: but do not let me fall into the hands of men" (2 Samuel 24:14). So the Lord sent a plague on Israel for three days. David knew that even in punishment the Lord is merciful, while man is not. Of the three options, David trusted God to be fair. If you were given the same three options, would you, like David choose God's punishment or man's?
Wanting All; Giving Nothing
But the king replied to Araunah: "No, I insist on paying you for it. I will not sacrifice to the Lord my God burnt offerings that cost me nothing. (2 Samuel 24:24)
It is human nature to want the good things in life, and there is absolutely nothing wrong with that. However, it is wrong to expect to get the maximum for doing the minimum. It is wrong to expect something for nothing. Life just isn't like that. God expects us to do something toward participating in our own blessings.
Abraham had the right concept when he was emphatic about paying for a field with a cave in it to bury Sarah. Ephron the Hittite was willing to give Abraham the field. In fact, he insisted on giving it to Abraham. Abraham ended up paying the fair price for the field. (Genesis 23:1-20) Abraham did not want something for nothing.
David had it right when he refused to accept something for nothing. After David had sinned against God, he desired to offer God a burnt offering. So he went to Araunah to buy a threshing floor so he could build an altar to the Lord. Araunah offered to give David the threshing floor at no cost. David refused his offer stating: "No, I insist on paying for it. I will not sacrifice to the Lord my God burnt offerings that cost me nothing." Then God answered David's prayer. (2 Samuel 24:24;25b)
Refuse to accept something for nothing.