Up the Slope of the Mount of Olives

In less than a month, we will be flying to Israel! Woohoo! This was a lifelong desire and became a daily prayer in 2011.

We faithfully set aside money each month for a vacation. Our last vacation was in 2012.

We made huge sacrifices! David gave up his big, black truck. I gave up satellite TV – no more Hallmark movies. We used the money we had set aside for a new vehicle. Now we share the van.

Since 2007, God has asked me to give up something. First, it was my job and then my daily Mountain Dew. Last year, he told me to buy my clothes at Goodwill or a consignment shop.

All of these sacrifices are worth it because I will walk where Jesus walked!

2 Samuel 15:30, “But David, his head covered, walked barefoot up the slope of the Mount of Olives crying. …” Common English Bible

* * * * * * *

“…David walks barefoot out of Jerusalem, weeping and potentially about to lose everything. …He refuses to treat the covenant chest like a good-luck charm to take with him, but once again relies on trust in God’s will. To Zadok, he says, ‘If the Lord thinks well of me, then he will bring me back…But if God says, “I’m not pleased with you,” then I am ready. Let him do to me whatever pleases him’ (2 Samuel 15:25-26). This expression is remarkably similar to Jesus’ prayer on the Mount of Olives, ‘not my will but your will must be done’ (Luke 22:42). …He journeys away from the danger of his own death to reclaim his life with God. Many years later, Jesus – the son of David – journeys in the other direction over the Mount of Olives to face his own death, but also to claim his life with God.”

Common English Bible Sidebar ‘Remorseful Journey’ on 2 Samuel 15

February 20: 2 Samuel 15; Psalms 9-13.

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Create a Clean Heart, Part 2

Our wrongdoing is forgiven because God has mercy, is faithful and compassionate. After repentance, we are not guilty and there is no dishonesty in us. God is able to create and re-create a clean heart in us making new life possible!

God does all the work!

Psalms 32:1-2, “The one whose wrongdoing is forgiven, whose sin is covered over, is truly happy! 2) The one the Lord doesn’t consider guilty – in whose spirit there is no dishonesty – that one is truly happy!” Common English Bible

* * * * * * *

“Truly happy: The repetition recalls Psalm 1:1, making it clear that true happiness derives not from being sinless but rather from being forgiven (see sidebar, ‘True Happiness’ at Psalm 1).” Common English Bible Note on Psalms 32:1-2

* * * * * * *

“…true happiness is God-centered. It means constantly focusing on God’s will (see Psalms 1:1; 94:12; 119:1), which means doing justice and righteousness (see Psalms 106:3; 112:1; 128:1). Justice involves caring for the poor (see Psalms 41:1; 72:1-7, 12-14, 17). Being righteous doesn’t mean doing everything right but relying on God for forgiveness and grace (see Psalms 32:1-2). True happiness also means depending upon God rather than self, trusting and hoping in God (see Psalms 40:4; 84:12; 146:5), seeking God’s presence in worship and elsewhere (see Psalms 84:4; 89:15; 119:2), and always relying on God for strength and protection (including taking ‘refuge’ in God; see Psalms 2:12; 34:8; 84:5). The ‘truly happy’ are called ‘the righteous’ (see Psalm 1:1).” Common English Bible Sidebar, “True Happiness” at Psalm 1

I’m truly happy, or blessed because God continues to create in me His righteousness!

“The Psalm makes it clear that to be righteous means to depend upon God’s grace (see Psalm 1:56 and often in the prayers for help), not to do everything right. This is why the apostle Paul quotes Psalms 32:1-2 when he writes about righteousness in Romans 4 (see Romans 4:6-8).” Common English Bible Notes on Psalms 32:11

* * * * * * *

Romans 4:6-8, “In the same way, David also pronounces a blessing on the person to whom God credits righteousness apart from actions:

7) Happy are those whose actions outside the Law are forgiven, and whose sins are covered.

8) Happy are those whose sin isn’t counted against them by the Lord.” Common English Bible

I don’t have to do everything right! In fact, I can’t because I am human.

But God’s grace is always available. He is ready to re-create a clean heart in me.

Psalm 32:8, “I will instruct you and teach you about the direction you should go. I’ll advise you and keep my eye on you.” Common English Bible

* * * * * * *

Psalm 41:1, “Those who pay attention to the poor are truly happy! The Lord rescues them during troubling times.” Common English Bible

Forgiveness = True Happiness!

February 18, 2020: Psalms 32, 38-41, 69.

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Create a Clean Heart, Part 1

It was the first night of serving “made-to-order” food in the E3 Cafe. We had new equipment, shelves were cleared, and everything up front looked fresh! We were excited!

Brittney, the new head of the cafe, unpacked the new fryer. She asked for a screwdriver. I went to the information desk and retrieved one.

Then a long, heavy-duty extension cord? I hurried to the auditorium and asked Derek for one. He drew his mouth into a straight line.

Uh-oh, I know that look. It is his irritated, disgusted, slightly angry expression.

I followed him up the stairs, turned the corner, and exclaimed, “Wow!” They had opened the back curtain, adding another third to the stage, and rearranged the instruments. I had not seen it because we haven’t been practicing there.

“Mom! We’re praying!” Derek whispered.

I forgot. That’s why it was so dark. I felt horrible. Satan hit me over the head with a sledgehammer of guilt.

  • Whack – “You knew it was time for prayer!”
  • Whack – “You are a bad Christian!”
  • Whack – “What a rotten mother you are! You just humiliated your son!”
  • Whack – “Did you see Robin glance up? You interrupted her prayer. She won’t be your friend anymore. Will you be invited to the next girl’s ‘pie time’ date?”
  • Whack – “The youth pastor is going to be mad! I bet they won’t even let you in to wash dishes!”

I hurried the extension cord back to the cafe. A few minutes later, we found the electrician had come and installed a second outlet under the table. We didn’t need the cord after all.

I slunk back to the auditorium to return it.

  • Whack – “They didn’t even need it. You are always rushing off to help and they don’t need your help!”

Luckily, Derek was by the door. His mouth went back into that straight line. I handed him the extension cord and fled.

  • Whack – “You just interrupted prayer again! I wouldn’t be surprised if Derek disowned you!”

I finished my tasks in the cafe and gathered my things. On the drive up the hill, I confessed to David. He told me to forget about it and just practice for the service.

King David sent the same message to Joab when it was reported that Uriah had died in battle.

2 Samuel 11:25, “David said to the messenger, ‘Say to Joab; “Don’t be upset about this because the sword is that way: taking the life of this person or that person. …” ‘” Common English Bible

* * * * * * *

“…David seeks to comfort Joab. The phrase ‘Don’t be upset’ puts in English the Hebrew idiom ‘Don’t let this be evil in your eyes’ (11:25). David asks his general not to consider the deed evil, but the final word of this story makes the guilt clear: what David had done was evil in the Lord’s eyes (11:27b). …” Common English Bible Notes on 2 Samuel 11:14-27

We know that David later repented. He wrote several penitent Psalms after this happened.

Psalm 51:1, “Have mercy on me, God, according to your faithful love! Wipe away my wrongdoings according to your great compassion.” Common English Bible

* * * * * * *

“The opening petitions invite more attention to God’s character than to the Psalmist’s sin. Have mercy: See Psalm 4:1. Faithful love: See Psalm 5:7. Compassion: See Psalm 25:6. All three of these basic qualities of God occur in God’s self-revelation to Moses in Exodus 34:6, which comes at the conclusion of the gold calf incident that involved grievous sin on Israel’s part. The firm belief about God’s merciful character is apparently what enables the psalmist to confess sin so honestly and openly.” Common English Bible Notes on Psalm 51:1

* * * * * * *

I unrolled my in-ear headphones, grabbed my music, and slid into my place. We did a new song and I had to concentrate. I focused on the worship pastor. The funny thing was when my attention was completely on the leader, I couldn’t hear or feel the guilt.

Pastor Gary also chose, “How Great Thou Art.” I started soft and high. The congregation was singing their hearts out on the beloved hymn. When Pastor signaled me to build, I went loud and low. Amazingly, the congregation got louder! I could hear them singing around my in-ear headphones. It was awesome!

After playing, I told the guitar player that I loved it when the congregation sang at the top of their lungs!

He replied, “Yes, that’s fun. But – when I play well, it’s not about me. When I play badly, it’s not about me.”

I thought, “I needed to be reminded of that.” I went out the back door to return to E3.

    • Whack – “You shouldn’t be playing for church! You interrupted prayer!”

Over the next 2 hours, as I washed dishes and scrubbed the old fryers, I remembered something else I read in Psalm 51.

Psalm 51:10-12, “Create a clean heart for me, God; put a new, faithful spirit deep inside me! 11) Please don’t throw me out of your presence; please don’t take your holy spirit away from me. 12) Return the joy of your salvation to me and sustain me with a willing spirit.” Common English Bible

* * * * * * *

“Create…God: God has the ability to create and re-create, activities associated elsewhere with God’s spirit (see Genesis 1:2). The threefold repetition of spirit suggests that new life is possible for the forgiven sinner. Holy Spirit: Isaiah 63:10-11 is the only other occurrence of this formulation in the Old Testament. It seems here to designate the living and life-giving presence of God.” Common English Bible Notes on Psalm 51:10-12

I repented and asked God to give me a new heart. Once again, God created a new heart for me. The words of the last chorus ran through my head and Satan with his sledgehammer of guilt slunk away.

It doesn’t matter what you have done: murder, adultery, lying, coveting, – God can create a new heart for you! And tomorrow he can create another one. All David did was repent and ask.

Be like David.

February 17: 2 Samuel 11, 12; Psalm 51, 25.

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Just as His Father Was Loyal to Me

Faithful, committed, kind, and loyal are not terms normally associated with politicians!

We are studying King David and his administration. The first thing I noticed was that David’s personal bodyguards were mercenaries, not men from his regular army!

He paid for them to protect him. They had nothing to gain by being disloyal and everything to lose. They would not have trusted anyone because everyone else had a motive to kill the king.

2 Samuel 8:18, “Jehoiada’s son Benaiah was in command of the Cherethites and Pelethites; and David’s sons were priests.” Common English Bible

* * * * * * *

“David’s reign is characterized by the covenant qualities of justice and righteousness. He establishes leaders around him: military officers, scribes, and priests (including at least some of David’s sons). It is noteworthy that while Joab commands David’s regular army, David also maintains a personal mercenary force (Cherethites and Pelethites) commanded by Benaiah. This ensures a loyal force guarding the king’s own person.” Common English Bible Notes on 2 Samuel 9:18

The second thing I noticed was David’s sons were part of his administration. I wondered how they could be “priests?”

1 Chronicles 18:17, “…and David’s sons were the king’s chief personal advisors.” Common English Bible

In Chronicles, they were called personal advisors.

David ran from King Saul for 15 years. He had sons from more than one wife. These young men traveled with David and witnessed firsthand how God rescued him time after time. They watched their father seek God for guidance at every turn. If they were doing the same, they would have been the best advisors. He reigned in Hebron for 7 years making his sons in their early twenties.

* * * * * * *

David didn’t forget his commitment to Jonathan when he became king. 2 Samuel 9 tells how he searched for Jonathan’s son and brought him to live with him at the palace.

“David uses the term translated in 9:1 and 9:7 as ‘faithful love’ three times (it is translated as ‘kindness’ in 9:3) to describe why he sought out Jonathan’s son, Mephibosheth. The ‘faithful’ quality indicates covenant love or committed love. This kind of love is prominent in the story of the friendship of David and Jonathan, and the commitments they make to each other (see notes on 1 Samuel 20). That pledge of friendship included care for any of Jonathan’s family in the future. Here David fulfills his pledge.” Common English Bible Notes on 2 Samuel 9:1, 3, 7.

Faithful love, covenant love, committed love = kindness!

I have no trouble being faithful to David and keeping my marriage vows. I am committed to him but I am not always kind! This was a humbling paragraph to read!

David went even further! The commitment he made to Jonathan he also made to Nahash, king of the Ammonites.

2 Samuel 10:2, “David said, ‘I’ll be loyal to Nahash’s son Hanun, just as his father was loyal to me.'” Common English Bible

* * * * * * *

“When Ammon’s King Nahash dies, David sends condolences to Nahash’s son Hanun. David states his intention to be loyal as Nahash was loyal to him. This is the same word for faithful commitment used to describe David’s commitment to Jonathan (2 Samuel 9:1, 3, 7). Whether it is in personal relationships or in diplomatic relationships, David honors commitments.” Common English Bible Notes on 2 Samuel 10:1-5

David honored Hanun just as he honored Mephibosheth. He treated them as he had treated their fathers.

  • David didn’t give honor; he was honorable.
  • He didn’t show faithfulness; he was faithful.
  • He didn’t express commitment, he was committed.
  • He didn’t show kindness; he was kind.
  • He was the same in his personal life as he was in his diplomatic life.

Be like David.

February 16: Psalm 86; 2 Samuel 8; 1 Chronicles 18; Psalm 60; 2 Samuel 9, 10; 1 Chronicles 19.

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The Lord Had Given Him Rest, Part 2

I decided to publish 2 posts a day until I catch up. I turned the page and found another page full of verses that I wrote down on February 15th! God showed me many times over that he would take care of me!

2 Samuel 7:28, “Lord God, you are truly God! Your words are trustworthy. …” Common English Bible

* * * * * * *

1 Chronicles 17:7, 8, “…This is what the Lord of heavenly forces says: I myself took you from the pasture, … 8) I’ve been with you wherever you’ve gone. …” Common English Bible

Each day I read a chapter in Proverbs. I found more reassurance there!

Proverbs 15:3, “The Lord’s eyes are everywhere, keeping watch on evil and good people.” Common English Bible

Then I turned to my New International Version Study Bible to study a few verses there. My verses were Isaiah 4:4-6. I read all of the cross-reference verses and the notes at the bottom. God spoke to me through those verses, too!

Exodus 14:13, “…Do not be afraid. Stand firm and you will see…” New International Version

* * * * * * *

Isaiah 31:5, “Like birds hovering overhead, the Lord Almighty will shield Jerusalem; …” New International Version

I will be touring Jerusalem! Woohoo! God will be my shield!

Psalms 121:5-6, “The Lord watches over you – the Lord is your shade at your right hand; 6) the sun will not harm you by day, nor the moon by night.” New International Version

* * * * * * *

Isaiah 65:18, “But be glad and rejoice forever in what I will create, for I will create Jerusalem to be a delight and its people a joy.” New International Version

God is already setting up divine appointments for me to meet the people of Jerusalem. I can’t wait!

February 15, 2020: Part 2.

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The Lord Had Given Him Rest, Part 1

My thoughts at night are on our upcoming trip to Israel. I am a small-town girl who does not travel internationally.

We went to Canada for a few hours when our children were young. We ate lunch, my daughter bought black nail polish, (why?), and we walked back across the border.

* * * * * * *

I dreamed we had not sent all of the money. (We have.) I woke up at 4:30 a.m. worried. Instead of getting up, I rolled over and chose to “rest in the Lord.”

I pictured myself curled up on a cloud that was in my Heavenly Father’s lap. No matter where I went, God was still holding me. I’m safe. I went back to sleep.

Psalms 123:1, “I raise my eyes to you – you who rule heaven.” Common English Bible

* * * * * * *

“Raise my eyes: Elsewhere this is often a sign of arrogance, but here the Psalmist looks to God for help (see Psalms 141:8).”

* * * * * * *

Psalms 131:2, “…I have calmed and quieted myself…” Common English Bible

* * * * * * *

2 Samuel 7:1, “…the Lord had given him rest…” Common English Bible

* * * * * * *

2 Samuel 7:25, 26, “…Do just as you have promised (26) so that your name will be great forever…” Common English Bible

God is in control. I do not need to worry. He gives me rest. His name is great because he keeps his promises!

February 15, 2020: Psalms 108, 123, 124, 131; 2 Samuel 7; 1 Chronicles 17; Psalms 1.

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Saul’s Daughter

We are ecstatic to announce that Derek and Rachel are expecting a baby this August! We know that children are gifts from God and it is a gift denied many.

Ruth 4:13 tells us God gives the gift of conception. I don’t understand why some of the most loving couples are not given children. Only God knows why.

* * * * * * *

Today we read of Michal who had no children.

1 Samuel 6:23, “Michal, Saul’s daughter, had no children to the day she died.” Common English Bible

* * * * * * *

“…This could mean that David set her aside as a wife or that God gave her no children. In any case, the purpose of this account may well be to make clear that Saul’s line is ended, and even David won’t father any of Saul’s descendants who might claim the throne.” Common English Bible Notes on 1 Samuel 6:23

* * * * * * *

On another note, I am running 5 days behind on my posting. On this day, I considered consolidating what I am learning and posting once a week. In 2 verses, God showed me to continue posting daily.

“1 Chronicles 16:23, “Sing to the Lord all the earth! Share the news of his saving work every single day.” Common English Bible

* * * * * * *

1 Chronicles 16:37, “…to minister there continually…following the routines required on each day.” Common English Bible

It takes discipline to post every day. I admit I fail sometimes. There are also verses that are for me personally. Those I may not share. I will continue to do my best.

Proverbs 12:1, “Those who love discipline love knowledge, and those who hate correction are stupid.” Common English Bible

I believe God answered me clearly enough!

February 12, 2020: 2 Samuel 6; 1 Chronicles 13, 15, 16.

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David’s City

Why is Jerusalem called “David’s city?”

1 Chronicles 11:4, “The people who lived in Jebus told David, ‘You’ll never get in here!’ But David captured the mountain fortress of Zion, which became David’s city.” Common English Bible

* * * * * * *

“As in the source material from 2 Samuel 5, the Chronicler follows the declaration of David as king over the nation with an account of the capture of Jerusalem. …Jebus: Within the Bible, this is the name for the city of Jerusalem before it came under Israelite control (Judges 19:10-11). Because it wasn’t claimed as part of the territory of any of the 12 tribes, it’s a politically neutral geography over which no tribe has greater or lesser power.” Common English Bible Notes on 1 Chronicles 11:4

* * * * * * *

“…since Jerusalem isn’t the possession of Israel or Judah, but on the border of both, that it makes an attractive neutral capital. …Jerusalem becomes literally David’s city (2 Samuel 5:9), belonging to neither Israel or Judah.” Common English Bible Notes on 2 Samuel 5:9

Jerusalem was a smart political capital. It brought Israel and Judah back together. No tribe could lord it over the others that the capital was in their inheritance. It was also a city of peace.

“Jerusalem wasn’t an Israelite city. It was the city of a Canaanite group known as the Jebusites. With no hint of motivation or preparation, David marches on Jerusalem. …The Jebusites are so confident, they boast that even the blind and the lame can defend the city (see 2 Samuel 5:6). David doesn’t really conquer the city. He takes it by stealth. …David fortifies the city further, and most believe that David was able to incorporate the Jebusites with their skills in commercial trade into his administration without having violently conquered them.” Common English Bible Notes on 2 Samuel 5:6-10

David was a good politician. He conquered their city and convinced them to continue to live and work there. He even got them to work for him!

February 11, 2020: 1 Chronicles 11, 12; Psalms 133; 1 Chronicles 14.

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Your Love was More Amazing

There are many kinds of love. The love of parents and siblings, friendships, brotherly love, and the love between a man and his wife. I believed the last to be the strongest. It was not always the case.

2 Samuel 1:26, “I grieve for you my brother Jonathan! You were so dear to me! Your love was more amazing to me than the love of women.” Common English Bible

* * * * * * *

“…David gives expression to the deep friendship that bound him to Jonathan, beyond even the love of women (1:26). In a time when marriages were formed by arrangement and not love, deep friendships were more common among men than between men and women.” Common English Bible Notes

* * * * * * *

“You can choose your friends but you sho’ can’t choose your family, an’ they’re still kin to you no matter whether you acknowledge ’em or not, and it makes you look right silly when you don’t.”

― Harper Lee, To Kill a Mockingbird

Today let’s remember all those we love.

Happy Valentine’s Day!

(Yes, I am behind.)

February 9, 2020: 1 Samuel 31; 1 Chronicles 10; 2 Samuel 1, 2.

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The Share of Those Who Stayed with the Supplies

On February 8th, we read of greed in excess.

David’s men were chasing the Amalekites to rescue their families. At the Besor ravine, two hundred men were too exhausted to cross it. David piled up the provisions and left them to guard it.

He also left 200 men to guard the supplies when he went to attack Nabal.

1 Samuel 25:13, “Then David said to his soldiers, ‘All of you, strap on your swords!’ So each of them strapped on their swords, and David did the same. Nearly four hundred men went up with David. Two hundred men remained back with the supplies.” Common English Bible

All 600 men were ready to fight. David chose 200 to remain.

Abigail met them with 200 loaves of bread, 2 skins of wine, 5 sheep ready for cooking, 7 1/2 quarts of roasted grain, 100 raisin cakes, and 200 fig cakes (See 1 Samuel 25:18).

David accepted the food and shared it with his 600 men. Those who went to fight had no problem sharing with those left to guard the supplies.

This time they came home with the plunder. The Amalekites raided the Cherethites plain, Judah territory, the southern plain of Caleb, and the city of Ziklag, (30:14). They took whatever they wanted plus sheep, cattle, and other livestock, (30:20).

There were more animals than the land could support. As a shepherd, David knew how much they needed.

David sent plunder to:

  • The elders of Judah, 30:26.
  • His friends, 30:26.
  • Bethel, Ramoth, Jattir, 30:27.
  • Aroer, Siphmoth, Eshtemoa, 30:28.
  • Racal, the towns of the Jerahmeelites, the towns of the Kenites, 30:29.
  • Hormah, Bor-Ashan, Athach, 30:30.
  • Hebron, and all the places where David spent his time, 30:31.

Where had David been?

  • Nob, 21:1.
  • Adullam’s fortress, 22:1.
  • Mizpah in Moab, 22:3.
  • Hereth forest, 22:5.
  • Keilah, 23:1.
  • He kept moving from place to place, 23:11.
  • Horesh in the Ziph wilderness, 23:14.
  • Maon wilderness, south of Jeshimon, 23:24.
  • En-Gedi fortress, 23:29.
  • Hachilah’s hill, 26:1.

There was so much plunder David sent some to all these places and some unnamed places. Yet when the 400 soldiers reached the 200 soldiers guarding the supplies, they didn’t want to share with them!

1 Samuel 30:24, “…The share of those who went into battle and the share of those who stayed with the supplies will be divided equally.” Common English Bible

* * * * * * *

“These verses once again show David’s compassionate leadership. When David’s men return to the 200 men left with the baggage, many in his force angrily refuse to share any of the gain from the raid or to include these men any longer in their number. They want them to take only their wives and children and go (30:22). David will have no part of this. He insists that all receive an equal share. Those who guard the supplies are as important as those on the forefront of battle. David even formalized this into policy during his kingship (30:24-25).” Common English Bible Notes

In the first instance, David chose which men would remain to guard the baggage. In the second instance, some men volunteered. That was the only difference.

February 8, 2020: 1 Samuel 29, 20; Psalms 35, 109.

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