February 8—March 7 (28 days)
February 8—From Communion to Conquer
Read 2 Samuel 8
We read in 2 Samuel 7 that the Lord gave David “rest round about from all his enemies.” During that time of rest, the prophet Nathan brought David Jehovah’s word, and David spent time in prayer. Now chapter 8 begins, “And after this…David smote the Philistines, and subdued them.” God’s word and prayer strengthened David to fight and overcome his enemies.
In his masterful book The Life of David, A.W. Pink asks, “Why are such matters as these recorded in God’s Word, to be read by his people in all generations?” These are more than matters of historical interest: there is something of profit for our souls in every portion of our Father’s word. Be encouraged by this history, dear Christian, that in communion with God you will find the strength to overcome your enemies—the lusts of your flesh, your sinful habits, and your evil ways. David’s battles increased Israel’s territory. Likewise, by giving diligence to making your calling and election sure “an entrance shall be ministered unto you abundantly into the everlasting kingdom of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ” (2 Pet. 1:11).
Sing or pray Psalter #36.
February 9—Dedicated unto the Lord
Read 1 Chronicles 18
David’s conquests of his enemies picture the mortification of sin to which God calls all his people. Colossians 3:5 exhorts, “Mortify therefore your members which are upon the earth; fornication, uncleanness, inordinate affection, evil concupiscence, and covetousness, which is idolatry.” In commanding that we give diligence to make our calling and election sure, does God’s word suggest that our works merit our salvation? By no means. David won such great victories because “the Lord preserved David whithersoever he went” (2 Sam. 8:6 and 14). The Spirit of Jehovah strengthened David to fight. But the Lord blessed him—and blesses us—in the way of diligence, not sloth.
In both 2 Samuel 8 and 1 Chronicles 18 we read that David dedicated the riches he seized from all the nations he conquered to Jehovah’s service. These he prepared for the temple that his son Solomon would later build (1 Chron. 22:14). Likewise, we’re exhorted that “as ye have yielded your members servants to uncleanness…even so now yield your members servants to righteousness…” (Rom. 6:19).
Sing or pray Psalter #383.
February 10—Prayer’s Banner
Read Psalm 60
In both 2 Samuel 8 and 1 Chronicles 18 we read that David deviously attacked Hadarezer, king of the Aramean kingdom of Zobah, when Hadarezer’s army was employed on their opposite border. Meanwhile, Edom opportunistically attacked Israel’s southern border, forcing David to dispatch Joab to that front. David, deeply shaken, owes the dire situation to his own impatience and heedlessness. Psalm 60 records David’s lament. He and his people sense God’s displeasure in their enemy’s victory. Still, they turn to him in their plight, raising the banner of prayer, for they have this assurance: they are his beloved. Isn’t it a wonder that we can go to our heavenly Father in confident prayer, too, even when our troubles are of our own making?
Jehovah responds in vv. 6–8. Not only, he says, do I rule over all Israel: your enemies, too, are my servants. And his people reply in confidence, assured that he will give them the victory and confessing that “vain is the help of man” (v. 11). That mighty God is also on our side in our battles against Satan, self, and the sinful world, and he gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ (1 Cor. 15:57).
Sing or pray Psalter #158.
February 11—Undeserved Favor
Read 2 Samuel 9
God’s grace can be simply defined as his undeserved favor. David’s kindness to Mephibosheth typifies God’s grace in such a remarkable way, only the sovereign God himself could have orchestrated it. First, it is not Mephibosheth who comes to David, but David who finds and fetches Mephibosheth. Indeed, Mephibosheth was unable to come of himself: he been crippled…in a fall. Nor did he desire to seek David. The grandson of Saul, David’s bitterest enemy, he had completely lost his inheritance and was hiding from David at Lodebar, which means “the place of no pasture.” What motivates David to show kindness to this lame man, whose very name meant “a shameful thing”? Years prior, Jonathan had acted as mediator between David and Saul (1 Sam. 20). David and Jonathan made a covenant in which David vowed to show kindness to Jonathan’s house forever. Consequently, the grace that David shows to Mephibosheth is based on a covenant made with a mediator before Mephibosheth had even been born. David grants Mephibosheth life and peace, restores to him his forfeited inheritance, and takes him into his fellowship as a son.
Mephibosheth responded to the grace shown him with humility, gratitude, and love. Is it so with us?
Sing or pray Psalter #204.
February 12—Jehovah’s Court
Read Psalm 50
In Psalm 50, the mighty God, the judge, calls the whole earth to witness at a trial. He himself descends from Zion, accompanied by devouring fire and a fierce storm. The defendants see him coming and tremble. Who are the defendants? Not the wicked, but Jehovah’s own people, those with whom he has made his covenant. What charges does he bring against them? First, some of them are content with religious formalism (vv. 7–15). They offer sacrifices continually, but they do not worship him from the heart. Then there are those who despise his law (vv. 16–21). Specifically, they repeatedly trespass against the seventh, eighth, and ninth commandments, excusing their shameful treatment of their neighbors with the presumption that Jehovah is like them. But He isn’t: he is holy and just. Thankfully, he is also merciful. The verdict in his peoples’ case is “guilty,” but another will bear their just sentence: Jehovah promises to show his salvation to those who offer thankful, heartfelt praise and walk in his ways.
We also stand on trial before the judge of heaven and earth. Do we worship him from the heart? Is our love for him evident in the love we show our neighbors?
Sing or pray Psalter #137.
February 13—Freely Justified Fools
Read Psalm 53
Psalms 14 and 53 are nearly identical. Both psalms begin with a description of the practical atheist, the fool who says in his heart, “There is no God.” In Psalm 14 these unbelievers are Israelites who deny God and prey on their poor brethren. But the psalmist adapted Psalm 53 to a different situation, providing an extended definition of “the workers of iniquity”: they are not the ungodly within the nation of Israel, but heathen encamped about God’s people, ready to attack. God put those foreigners to shame: they feared and scattered, though no man pursued them (Prov. 28:1, 2 Kings 7:6–7).
In Romans 3:10–11, the psalmist’s observations about the fool are applied to all men: “There is none righteous, no, not one: there is none that understandeth, there is none that seeketh after God…” That’s God’s sober evaluation of your heart and mine, and to our shame, that’s often our experience, too, isn’t it? Yet all in Christ Jesus need not fear. Though we could never be justified by the deeds of the law, we have been “justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus” (Rom. 3:24).
Sing or pray Psalter #146.
February 14—Wondrous Deliverance
Read Psalm 75
Psalm 75 was written after Jehovah delivered his people from some great threat. God’s people speak first, twice thanking him and exulting, “that thy name is near thy wondrous works declare.” God responds with the declaration that at his appointed time he judges uprightly. God’s people must have thought that he had forsaken them for a time. He admonishes them now to be patient, reminding them that the earth is secure in his hands, even though circumstances may seem to testify otherwise. Even the most arrogant human rulers are subservient to him. In Psalm 75:6-10 the psalmist reaffirms the same truth found in Romans 12:1b, that “the powers that be are ordained of God.” Not only does God appoint rulers: he holds them accountable for their actions. Wicked rulers will drink the cup of his wrath.
The judgment of our God is a reality that, though sobering, we celebrate with thanksgiving, for we know that in the way of judging the wicked, our God saves us. The dregs of the cup that we deserve to drink have been drained by our Savior. Do we thank him again and again for his wondrous deliverance?
Sing or pray Psalter #206.
February 15—The King’s Servants Avenged
Read 2 Samuel 10
In 2 Samuel 9 we read of the magnanimity David showed to Mephibosheth. In 2 Samuel 10 David again determines to show kindness, this time to the bereaved king of Ammon. He sends his servants to Hanun, who rejects the comfort they bring and puts them to an open shame. David correctly interprets Hanun’s actions as a declaration of war, and the remainder of the chapter records his avenging of his servants. David’s kindness to Mephibosheth pictures the grace God shows to his elect in Christ. What does this incident typify?
Our Lord Jesus Christ also sends his servants to preach the gospel indiscriminately, and to all nations. Though we might not be ordained ministers, you and I are also called to be his witnesses, letting our light shine before all, for all live under the shadow of Adam’s sentence: death. But Christ’s servants who share “the kindness and love of God our Savior toward man” (Titus 3:4) are often reviled, persecuted, and spoken evil of falsely (Matt. 5:11). Rejoice, and be exceeding glad: our king will also avenge his servants.
Sing or pray Psalter #199.
February 16—Friendship with the World
Read 1 Chronicles 19
1 Chronicles 19 records the same incident as 2 Samuel 10. Like 2 Samuel 10, the chapter begins, “It came to pass after this,” yet the contexts of the two accounts are different. 2 Samuel 9 records David’s kindness to Mephibosheth, while 1 Chronicles 18 relates David’s victories over his enemies. A.W. Pink maintains that the difference in context warrants approaching the incident from two “widely separated angles.” He writes, “Oftentimes the same incident which manifests the goodness and grace of God, also exhibits the depravity and sin of man.” David sought to honor the memory of wicked Nahash. Whatever personal favor Nahash had shown David, he was a proven enemy of God’s people, the cruel king who had threatened to thrust out the right eyes of the men of Jabesh-Gilead (1 Sam. 1–2). David’s was “an attempt to promote amity between the ungodly and the godly. The Lord blew upon this move, and caused it to come to nought” (Pink).
Likewise, in his love for us, the Lord often causes once-friendly neighbors and unbelieving relatives to reject our attempts to befriend them. Can you recall a time in your life when you disregarded that friendship with the world is enmity against God and God himself intervened, to your spiritual profit?
Sing or pray Psalter #27.
February 17—A Prayer for the King
Read Psalm 20
Psalm 20 is a psalm of David, but the first verses record a prayer that his subjects offer on his behalf. These are their petitions for their king: they desire that the Lord will hear his prayer, preserve his life, strengthen him for his many tasks, accept his sacrifices, and crown his efforts with success. They know that their king will face trouble, but because their mutual salvation is the joyful basis of their prayers, they pray in confidence. David is encouraged by their prayers for him: “Now know I that the Lord saveth his anointed,” he exclaims in verse six.
Do we remember to pray for those who rule over us? We can pray the same things that the Israelites prayed for David for our parents, teachers, pastors, and office-bearers. God also commands us to pray for those who rule over us in the secular sphere (1 Tim. 2:2). Let’s pray for their salvation, and let’s pray that God will use their rule to ensure our ability to “lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty.”
Sing or pray Psalter #44.
February 18—The Blessed Man
Read Psalm 65
Psalm 65 is a song of harvest thanksgiving. In vv. 9–13, David describes the bounty with which God crowns the year. He delightfully and memorably writes of paths that drip with fatness, hills that rejoice, singing pastures clothed with woolly sheep, and shouting valleys covered with corn. But David doesn’t prize these gifts of abundance more than their giver! In vv. 5–8 he focuses on the giver himself. He is a God of power, the God who answers prayer. He is not only the God of creation, but the God of salvation. But many fear his mighty signs (v. 8a). That’s why the psalm begins with the greatest blessing of all: being one chosen to dwell in God’s courts.
Do we count fellowship with God as our greatest blessing? Are we confident that though our sins rise up against us, he will take them all away? He is the God who hears and answers prayer. Let us find abundant satisfaction in the fatness of his house (Ps. 36:8).
Sing or pray Psalter #170.
February 19—Come and Hear
Read Psalm 66
Psalm 66 begins with a call to all the earth to praise God for his terrible works. The psalmist recounts some of those works in vv. 5–12. He mentions Israel’s crossing of the Red Sea and the Jordan River as well as God’s preservation of his people through great affliction. Consideration of these corporate blessings compel the psalmist to consider God’s goodness to him personally. He cries, “Come and hear, all ye that fear God, and I will declare what he hath done for my soul” (v. 16). Jehovah’s salvation has borne the fruit of integrity, not hypocrisy, in the psalmist. He prays to his Savior in the confidence that his prayer will be heard. And it was: Jehovah again hears the psalmist’s sincere prayer and bestows upon him the mercy that he desires.
If God’s salvation and preservation of the Old Testament saints compelled all nations to fear him, how much more should his redemption of his people in Jesus Christ move all men to fear him! Do the terrible works he’s done on his peoples’ behalf and the goodness he’s shown to you personally compel you to witness to others?
Sing or pray Psalter # 174.
February 20—With Blessing Comes Responsibility
Read Psalm 67
Psalms 66 and 67 share a common theme. When the writer of Psalm 66 considered the blessings that Jehovah showered upon his people, he was compelled to declare God’s goodness to others. In v. 1 of Psalm 67, God’s people pray for his blessing. Psalm 67:2 acknowledges the purpose of that blessing, “That thy way may be known upon earth, thy saving health among all nations.” In Genesis 12:1–3 and 22:17–18, God promised to bless Abraham, but his blessing wouldn’t stop there. He added, “And in thy seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed.” That is, in Christ people from all nations of the earth would be blessed (Gal. 3:16). That’s the truth of which Psalm 67 speaks.
That truth implies a responsibility for we who are God’s people, saved by his grace, and daily loaded with his benefits. The riches of salvation that we know are meant to be shared. That responsibility belongs to Christ’s church as well as to the individual believer. Do our joyful, thankful lives testify of the righteousness and goodness of God? Do we readily share the reason of the hope that is in us with meekness and fear?
Sing or pray Psalter #176.
February 21—Scripture Fulfilled
Read Psalm 69
Perhaps David wrote Psalm 69 as he procured resources for the future temple. It’s likely that others attacked him personally as he amassed great quantities of riches for that purpose. It’s also likely that the relentless intensity with which he pursued his goal (see Ps. 132) incited bitter hatred in the Israelites who did not love Jehovah.
Ultimately, Psalm 69, the psalm most quoted in the New Testament, is the word of Christ. When he cleansed the temple, “his disciples remembered that it was written, ‘The zeal of thine house hath eaten me up’” (John 2:17). On the night before he was crucified, Jesus reassured his disciples, “But this cometh to pass, that the word might be fulfilled… They hated me without a cause” (John 15:25). Our Lord was given vinegar to drink (John 19:28). Peter quoted Psalm 69:25 as he preached about Judas: “Let his habitation be desolate” (Acts 1:20). Paul referenced Psalm 69:22–23 in Romans 11:9–10 as he expounded the truth that “They are not all Israel, which are of Israel.” Regarding our liberty in Christ, Rom. 15:1–3 declares, “We then that are strong ought to bear the infirmities of the weak…For even Christ pleased not himself; but, as it is written, The reproaches of them that reproached thee fell on me” (see Ps. 69:9 and 20).
Sing or pray Psalter #169.
February 22—Hurry, God!
Read Psalm 70
Does it seem to you as if you repeatedly face the same troubles and trials, so that you are often praying for the same things? That was David’s experience, too. Psalm 70 repeats Psalm 40:13–17, but Psalm 70s brevity highlights its sense of urgency. The psalm begins, “Make haste, O God,” and ends, “O Lord, make no tarrying.” For what does David pray in this dire circumstance? First, he prays that God will thwart the desire of his enemies, the destruction of David’s soul, shaming them. Second, he prays that Jehovah will restore a joyful, praising spirit to those who love and seek him.
Note that the focus of David’s prayer is not his physical circumstances, nor is it self-centered. Even in his plight, David’s concern is for the state of his soul and the spiritual welfare of his fellow saints. Can the same be said of us?
Sing or pray Psalter #188.
February 23—How are the Mighty Fallen!
Read 2 Samuel 11
Why is David’s grievous fall recorded in Holy Scripture? “For our admonition” according to 1 Corinthians 10:11. First, we must avoid the things that occasioned David’s sin. David laid aside his armor when it was his duty to fight; he slothfully indulged himself in the palace (he arose from his bed at “eveningtide”: there he had been indulging himself in the afternoon.) He allowed his wandering eye to covetously dwell upon an unlawful object. Second, David’s attempts to conceal rather than confess his sin occasioned even greater sins. “A guilty conscience estranges the heart from God, so that it is no longer able to count upon His protection” (Pink). Third, though his youthful conduct had been exemplary, David fell in middle age: he gave over the work of mortifying sin before his work was at an end (John Owen). Fourth, beware your deceitful heart! David once felt guilty about cutting off a piece of Saul’s robe. Now he callously tempts Uriah to break a vow (v. 11), makes him drunk, and then orchestrates his murder, who was a faithful servant and an honorable man. All this because David feared men rather than God and desired to preserve his reputation.
Seeing we know these things before, let’s beware lest we also fall from our own steadfastness (2 Pet. 3:17).
Sing or pray Psalter #82.
February 24—Conviction, Repentance, Forgiveness, Chastisement
Read 2 Samuel 12
“The thing that David had done displeased the Lord” (2 Sam. 11:27). But God in his mercy didn’t send enemies or death to David: he sent a prophet. Nathan didn’t directly accuse David; he told him a parable. (Perhaps we can learn from his wise example how to confront fellow believers who walk in sin.) David’s reaction to the parable reveals “What a strange thing the heart of a believer is…often filled with righteous indignation against the sins of others, while blind to its own!” (Pink). Then Nathan plainly declares, “Thou art the man.” David’s hard heart is pricked. He confesses, “I have sinned against the Lord.” Nathan immediately responds, “The Lord also hath put away thy sin.” But he continues, “Howbeit…”
“Though God forgives His people their sins, yet He frequently gives them plain proof of His holy abhorrence of the same, and causes them to taste something of the bitter fruit which they bring forth…There is mercy in our chastening’s, and no matter how heavily the rod may smite, we have good cause to say, “And after all that is come upon us for our evil deeds…Thou our God has punished us less than our iniquities deserve’ (Ezra 9:13)” (Pink).
Sing or pray Psalter #140.
February 25—Pleas for Pardon
Read Psalm 51
David’s brief confession of sin in 2 Samuel 12 is notable because of the recognition that his sin was ultimately against the Lord. To consider the depth and sincerity of his repentance, we turn to Psalm 51. Notable there are the many terms he uses for sin. “It is ‘transgression’…the revolt of a subject’s will against its true King…It is ‘iniquity’…acting unjustly or crookedly. It is ‘sin’ or ‘missing the mark’…. It is pollution and filth, from which nothing but atoning blood can cleanse. It is ‘evil’ (v. 4) …It is a fretting leprosy, causing him to cry, ‘Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean…’ (v.7)” (Pink).
Correspondingly, “David prayed that his sins might be “blotted out’ (v. 1), which petition conceives of them as being recorded against him. He prayed that he might be ‘washed’ (v. 2) from them, in which they are felt to be foul stains…He prayed that he might be ‘cleansed’ (v. 7), which was the technical word for the priestly cleansing of the leper…not only lepers, but those who had become defiled by contact with a dead body, were thus purified (Num. 19); and on whom did the taint of this corruption cleave as on the murderer of Uriah?” (Pink). Above all, David prays for a clean heart (v. 10), a full measure of the Holy Spirit (v. 11), and restoration to full communion with God (v. 12).
Sing or pray Psalter #141.
Febuary 26—The Blessed Forgiven
Read Psalm 32
Like Psalm 51, Psalm 32 is usually attributed to the period of David’s life following his exchange with the prophet Nathan, but Psalm 32 follows Psalm 51. Psalm 51 is full of earnest contrition and pleas for forgiveness. Psalm 32 begins with the joyful exclamation of one who has been assured that he is forgiven. “At the close of Psalm 51 David had prayed, ‘O Lord, open Thou my lips, and my mouth shall show forth Thy praise’ (v. 15): here the prayer has been heard, and this is the beginning of the fulfillment of his vow” (Pink). Truly, David had experienced that “the way of transgressors is hard” (Prov. 13:15). Now he knows from experience that “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).
In Psalm 51:13 David had vowed that teaching would follow his restoration of communion with God: “Then will I teach transgressors thy ways; and sinners shall be converted unto thee.” That vow he also begins to fulfill in Psalm 32:6 and vv. 8–9. He exhorts the godly not to hide their sins, but to pray to God (v. 6). And he commands the sinner not to be stubborn, for “many sorrows shall be to the wicked.” Do we heed these inspired admonitions?
Sing or pray Psalter #83.
February 27—In the Power of His Might
Read 1 Chronicles 20
1 Chronicles 20 begins like 2 Samuel 11 but skips over David’s fall into sin and repentance, focusing instead on Israel’s capture of the Rabbah, the capital city of Ammon, and their subsequent victories over the Philistine giants of Gath. Regarding the Ammonites, 1 Chronicles 20:3 relates that David “cut them” in pieces with saws, plow shears and axes. Some commentators agree with this rendering, noting that such violent executions were fitting to the worshippers of Molech. Since the word “them” is not in the original, however, others think the phrase is better translated “put them to saws, etc.,” meaning that they became forced laborers like those referred to 1 Chronicles 22:2.
David’s former victory over Goliath inspired his men to courageously face additional giants. Likewise, the victory of the captain of our salvation over sin and death should inspire us to face the spiritual giants in our lives with courage. What temptations and besetting sins rise up against you today? Put on the whole armor of God and face them in the confidence that the victory is ours in Christ Jesus.
Sing or pray Psalter #392.
February 28—Grievous Fruits
Read 2 Samuel 13
David’s grievous sins now begin to bear their natural, grievous fruits. His chastenings “corresponded exactly to the character of his iniquities” (Pink). Amnon and Absalom committed the same sins that their father had committed; fornication and murder. And David, who as king was the rightful executor of justice, shamefully failed to punish either of them. David was an unwise, indulgent father (1 Kings 1:6). Writes Pink, David allowed “his natural affections to override his better judgment, instead of (as it should be) the judgment guiding the affections—it is not without reason and meaning that the head is set above the heart in our physical bodies! No doubt the fact that David had several wives made it much more difficult to rule his offspring as duty required—how one wrong leads to another!”
Both Amnon and Absalom’s sins were unconscionably premeditated. (And Amnon’s was abetted by a godless friend, Jonadab. “A companion of fools shall be destroyed” (Prov. 13:20b).) Amnon was an adulterer and Absalom a murderer long before they acted. Both were overcome with unbridled lust which brought forth death and sin. But “They that are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts” (Gal. 5:24).
Sing or pray Psalter #64.
March 1—Devilish Wisdom
Read 2 Samuel 14
Though occasioned by Amnon’s incest, Absalom’s murder of his brother was a means to an end. Amnon was the oldest of David’s sons, the expected heir of the throne. But Absalom, the second son, desired that throne. Absalom had fled to his maternal grandfather, the king of Geshur (1 Chron. 3:2). Now Joab, “an astute politician—an unprincipled man of subtle expediency,” conspires to bring him back to Jerusalem. Joab’s instrument is a “wise woman” from Tekoah, but her so-called “wisdom” descends “not from above, but is earthly, sensual, devilish” (James 3:15). With her contrived parable she attempts to soothe David’s conscience for not executing his murderous son. She appeals to David’s natural affections, and David authorizes Joab to bring Absalom back. Yet, still he puts on a show of sternness, refusing to see Absalom. And so, Absalom resorts to further lawlessness. “There is no escape from the outworking of the principle of sowing and reaping” (Pink). Fellow parents, let’s be warned!
All of Absalom’s actions revealed “what a godless and unscrupulous scoundrel he was” (Pink). Despite his reprehensible character, the people esteemed him for his beauty. How like today’s world and the people they idolize! Who or what do we value?
March 2—A Prayer to the Sovereign One
Read Psalm 86
A number of psalms are attributed to this turbulent period in David’s life, some on the basis of their headings, others on the basis of their content. These psalms give us further insight into the historical account of 2 Samuel. Psalm 41 and 55, for example, offer one explanation regarding David’s apparent passivity as Absalom’s conspiracy strengthens. Not only is David’s heart sick: he is physically unwell. He writes of his “bed of languishing,” “sickness,” “evil disease,” and “the terrors of death.” Similarly, he begins Psalm 86 by acknowledging his poor and needy condition.
Notable in Psalm 86 are David’s many references to Jehovah as “Lord,” meaning “Sovereign One” (vv. 3, 4, 5, 8, 9, 12, 15). In his troubles, he took comfort in the knowledge that Jehovah controls all circumstances and all people. Also notable are the many explanations David adds to his petitions, denoted by the words “for” or “because” (vv. 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 7, 10, 13, 17). David notes his own helplessness, his covenant relationship to Jehovah, his readiness to pray, his confidence that the Lord will answer his prayers, and Jehovah’s incomparable goodness, mercy, greatness, and faithfulness. Are we quick to turn to the Sovereign One in our troubles?
Sing or pray Psalter #233.
March 3—Hearts Revealed
Read 2 Samuel 15
All of the princes rode mules (2 Sam. 13:19) except arrogant, scheming Absalom. And now “From the employment of force, he resorted to craftiness…the leading characteristics of the devil: the violence of the “lion” and the guile of the “serpent” (Pink). How does Absalom sow discontent among the people? He does not attack David’s person, but his government. So, too, our enemies would tempt us to be dissatisfied with our king’s government, with the requirements of his law and the difficulties he bestows in his providence. Then Absalom announces his reign in Hebron, his birthplace and the city in which David had also commenced his reign. In response, David, betrayed by Ahithophel, his familiar friend, flees over Kidron (see John 18:1–2) to the wilderness. Why? He was the rightful king, but he understood that Jehovah was using his reprobate son to chasten him, and he humbly submits. The Holy Spirit works through “Changing circumstances…for the development and exercise of different graces” (Pink). What graces is he cultivating in you at present?
Absalom’s rebellion revealed the hearts of those who were unfaithful to David as well as those who were unswervingly loyal. “Absalom stole the hearts of the men of Israel” (v. 6), but all the Cherethites, Pelethites, and Gittites (foreigners!) remained true to David. How wondrously again David typifies Christ, who was rejected by many in Israel, and so turned to the Gentiles.
Sing or pray Psalter #163.
March 4—Pray for Zion’s Peace
Read Psalm 122
Psalm 122 may have been written at a different time in David’s life, but let’s consider this earnest prayer for Jerusalem’s peace in light of the current context. In Psalm 55:9–11 David describes the unrest that Absalom and Ahithophel stirred up in Jerusalem this way: “I have seen violence and strife in the city. Day and night they go about it upon the walls thereof: mischief also and sorrow are in the midst of it. Wickedness is in the midst thereof: deceit and guile depart not from her streets.” Perhaps he penned Psalm 122 as he lay on his sick bed. Or maybe this is a prayer he uttered as he fled Jerusalem, desiring the peace of Jehovah’s dwelling place more than his own safety or comfort.
Brothers and sisters, how greatly do we desire the peace of Jehovah’s dwelling place, the church? Do we pray for that peace? Do we do all we can to promote peace within our congregations and denomination, or do our words, actions, and attitudes sow discord in Christ’s body? Do our responses to current issues—the proposed Psalter revision comes to mind—encourage godly discussion or cause unnecessary division? “Blessed are the peacemakers” (Matt. 5:9).
Sing or pray Psalter #348.
March 5—A Song in Distress
Read Psalm 3
Matthew Henry wrote that “weeping must never hinder worshipping.” A.W. Pink added, “We may worship God in the minor key as truly as in the major.” Did you notice that Psalm 3 is titled, “A Psalm [that is, a song] of David, when he fled from Absalom his son”? Perhaps this is the song David sang when he “was come to the top of the mount, where he worshipped God” (2 Sam. 15:32).
What triumph of faith is found in Ps. 3! David acknowledges that his enemies are numerous, active, and confident. The conspirators were well aware of David’s sins—Ahithophel was Bathsheba’s grandfather (see 2 Sam 23:23, 24, and 39 and 2 Sam. 11:3)—and likely presumed that Jehovah was no longer on David’s side. But he fixes his gaze not on them, but on Jehovah. David had ascended Mount Olivet with covered head: Jehovah lifted his head and ensured his peaceful rest in the wilderness (vv. 3 and 5). Though battle looms, David is so certain of Jehovah’s aid that he sings of victory in the past tense (v. 7). And notice again, his concern is not solely for himself, but for all the people of God.
Sing or pray Psalter #5.
March 6—Facing Another Night
Read Psalm 4
David confidently sang Psalm 3. He had awakened aware of Jehovah’s faithfulness and new mercies and had declared, “I will not be afraid of ten thousands of people that have set themselves against me” (v. 6). But he sings Psalm 4 as he faces another night. He is weary, and his enemies draw nearer. Still, he doesn’t despair: he cries out again to Jehovah. Dear Christian, is that where you turn as darkness falls and the troubles and the sins of the day gone by would arise and accuse you?
After David calls to Jehovah, he addresses his enemies, calling them to repentance and defending his status as Jehovah’s anointed one. He orders them to “Stand in awe, and sin not.” “Stand in awe” could also be translated “tremble,” “a word by which he rebukes their stupidity in running headlong in their wicked course, without any fear of God, or any sense of danger” (Calvin). David exhorts them to self-examination in the still of the night, and condemns their outward show of religiosity. Though they were the ones with access to the altar and the ark, David trusts that Jehovah will hear him, and in that confidence, he sleeps.
Sing or pray Psalter #8.
March 7—Pure Words
Read Psalm 12
Psalm 12 begins with a brief, heartfelt cry: “Help, Lord!” David cries to God because it seems as if the wicked have overtaken the land; he can scarcely find a godly man. Especially notable about the numerous ungodly is their wicked speech. With their words they speak vanity, flatter, oppress the poor and needy, and exalt those who are vile. Though David rightly maintains that Jehovah will cut off flattering lips and the tongues that speak proud things, these unbelievers boast, “Our lips are our own; who is lord over us?” (v. 4).
Then David contrasts the speech of the ungodly to that of Jehovah: “The words of the Lord are pure words: as silver tried in a furnace of earth, purified seven times” (v. 6). David trusted that Jehovah’s pure word would preserve all who trusted in him from the mighty enemies that surrounded them. Likewise, his word is the means by which our God preserves his church still today. And as his people, we’ve been bought with a price. Not even our lips are our own. Do the words that we speak edify and minister grace to the hearers?
Sing or pray Psalter #21.