key ready to start ignition May 14 Chronological Bible Study

Timeline. Map. Go to today’s Bible reading (NIV) or alternate versions (use your browser arrow to return): 2Samuel 18:19–20:26; Psalm 40, 140

Starting Over

Bankruptcies, divorce, the loss of a spouse, child, or coach, the forfeiture of an opportunity, 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, although we may not feel like it, we must also go on living and planning for the future. However, sometimes there are residual effects when we start over after we have made mistakes or even sinned. 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.

In today's Bible reading David is looking for God to deliver him from being killed by Absalom’s army as they hunt him down. Nevertheless, he loves his treacherous son. David gives specific instructions to his soldiers that if they meet Absalom, they will be gentle with him. He is hoping his son can just be captured, not killed. Absalom's sudden death, however, causes him to grieve with loud wailing. This causes David's army, which was victorious over Absalom's, to return shamefully as if his soldiers were 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 has to put aside his immediate grief and encourage his troops, although it was through their victory that Absalom is dead. Joab is right; if David does not encourage his troops, they will desert him because they fought valiantly for their king. That, however, does 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 King Absalom, the ten tribes of Israel soon want David back on the throne. David's estrangement from Israel during his exile, and the defeat of Absalom, however, causes hard feelings between the tribes of Israel and Judah.

The tribes of Israel and the tribe of Judah are divided, and David needs to re-unite them. How does he do it? First, David does not seek revenge but forgives those who offended and abused him. He also tries to bring the tribes together by smart diplomacy and the appointment of new leadership, which will be more acceptable to the Israelites. He appoints 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 is to be shed in David's family. Joab kills his cousin Amasa out of jealousy for his lost rank in David's army and Amasa’s perceived treachery.

The reuniting of the tribes is also hampered by loyalty issues, hurt feelings and a troublemaker named Sheba. When the tribe of Judah tries to assert its superior standing with David, a rebel leader in Israel sounds an alarm.

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 returns to the palace, which is close to the border of Ephraim, but he does not return to a united nation. Achieving unity is not always easy. Sometimes you have to put down rebellion or deal with other troubles.

Sheba began the rebellion (Psalm 140 was probably written about this time). David's troops under Joab’s command pursue Sheba to Abel Beth Maacah, a city of Israel. A wise woman from the city intercedes for her people, and she confers with Jacob concerning his purpose. When she discovers he only wants Sheba, she counsels her people to cut off his head and toss it over the city wall to save them from destruction. Satisfied, Joab and his army retreat and go home. She acted wisely and saved her city. When we are in conflict, we need to act with wisdom (not to imply that we should cut off anyone's head to solve a problem).

Although there are residual effects and disunities in David’s kingdom, God gives him a chance to start over. Our next reading shows us how David finally unifies the people and brings peace in the kingdom.

Lessons to Live By

  • Mistakes and sins 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, we should not seek revenge. We need to forgive those who hurt us, be diplomatic and show honor.
  • Achieving unity is not always easy. Sometimes we have to put down rebellion (in a lawful way, of course)
  • When we are in conflict, we need to act with wisdom.
  • 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...)

Focus Verse

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

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A Look Ahead: David brings the nation back together by planning a magnificient project. Now he must Get everything Organized for his son. Join us for our Next Lesson.

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