Monday, March 26, 2012

2 Samuel 16:1-14

1 When David had gone a short distance beyond the summit, there was Ziba, the steward of Mephibosheth, waiting to meet him. He had a string of donkeys saddled and loaded with two hundred loaves of bread, a hundred cakes of raisins, a hundred cakes of figs and a skin of wine.
2 The king asked Ziba, “Why have you brought these?”
Ziba answered, “The donkeys are for the king’s household to ride on, the bread and fruit are for the men to eat, and the wine is to refresh those who become exhausted in the wilderness.”
3 The king then asked, “Where is your master’s grandson?”
Ziba said to him, “He is staying in Jerusalem, because he thinks, ‘Today the house of Israel will restore to me my grandfather’s kingdom.’”
4 Then the king said to Ziba, “All that belonged to Mephibosheth is now yours.”
“I humbly bow,” Ziba said. “May I find favor in your eyes, my lord the king.”
5 As King David approached Bahurim, a man from the same clan as Saul’s family came out from there. His name was Shimei son of Gera, and he cursed as he came out. 6 He pelted David and all the king’s officials with stones, though all the troops and the special guard were on David’s right and left. 7 As he cursed, Shimei said, “Get out, get out, you murderer, you scoundrel! 8 The LORD has repaid you for all the blood you shed in the household of Saul, in whose place you have reigned. The LORD has given the kingdom into the hands of your son Absalom. You have come to ruin because you are a murderer!”
9 Then Abishai son of Zeruiah said to the king, “Why should this dead dog curse my lord the king? Let me go over and cut off his head.”
10 But the king said, “What does this have to do with you, you sons of Zeruiah? If he is cursing because the LORD said to him, ‘Curse David,’ who can ask, ‘Why do you do this?’”
11 David then said to Abishai and all his officials, “My son, who is of my own flesh, is trying to take my life. How much more, then, this Benjamite! Leave him alone; let him curse, for the LORD has told him to. 12 It may be that the LORD will look upon my misery and restore to me his covenant blessing instead of his curse today.”
13 So David and his men continued along the road while Shimei was going along the hillside opposite him, cursing as he went and throwing stones at him and showering him with dirt. 14 The king and all the people with him arrived at their destination exhausted. And there he refreshed himself.

Points of Interest
  • ‘steward of Mephibosheth’--Mephibosheth is Jonathan’s son, the one with two broken legs. Out of respect for Saul and love for Jonathan, David sort of adopts Mephibosheth, granting him land, the right to eat with the king at the palace, and Ziba’s services to take care of all of the heavy labor at the farm.
  • ‘He had a string of donkeys saddled and loaded’--David left Jerusalem in a hurry without proper provision. Ziba provides for his food and transportation needs.
  • ‘He is staying in Jerusalem’--Mephibosheth lives in Jerusalem, eating at the king’s table everyday. He hasn’t, however, evacuated with David. Perhaps he’s hoping his family can make a comeback during all of the turmoil.
  • ‘All that belonged to Mephibosheth is now yours’--Mephiboseth’s absence contrasts badly with Ziba’s thoughtful generosity. David decides that he’s been rewarding the wrong person.
  • ‘The LORD has repaid you for all the blood you shed in the household of Saul’--actually David did his best to avoid bloodshed in the house of Saul. He did, however, take the throne from the family of Saul. I suppose it would be asking too much to expect this relative of Saul to make the distinction. He’s been waiting a long time for David to get his comeuppance. I imagine he’s all the more pleased that David has been betrayed by someone from his own household.
  • ‘If he is cursing because the LORD said to him’--I don’t think David is claiming here that God did indeed tell Shimei to do this. He’s basically saying that Shimei’s cursing is none of Abishai’s business, nor even David’s; it’s between Shimei and God.
  • ‘It may be that the LORD will look upon my misery’--David knows that public opinion is fickle. Of course, people will curse him when things are looking down. If things make a turn for the better, the cursing will stop on its own.
  • ‘throwing stones at him and showering him with dirt’--Shimei certainly does take the liberty David has given him to the limit. Abishai is something of a hothead; but in this case I might, along with him, be tempted to take Shimei’s head off after a certain amount of dirt was showered on me.
Special Week 5 ‘Taking It Home’ Instructions
This week in our ‘Taking it Home’ section, things will look a little different. We’re going to delve a little deeper into the life of David by reading his prayers recorded in the book of Psalms. Every day the ‘For you’ section will be a Psalm written by David, perhaps during this very time of his life. While our passages in 2 Samuel tell us much about the events going on in David’s life, the Psalms add a level of richness to the story, as they give us a compelling look at how David responded to the events and reached out to God. Each day, read through the Psalm a few times--paying attention to:
What strikes you about David’s response in the Psalm in correlation to the story? What can you learn from this?
How do you resonate with his prayers? Is there a part that sticks out the most to you?

Lastly, try making David’s Psalm your prayer to God for the day.

Taking it Home
  • For you: Today’s psalm is Psalm 3.
Psalm 3
1 LORD, how many are my foes!
How many rise up against me!
2 Many are saying of me,
“God will not deliver him.”
3 But you, LORD, are a shield around me,
my glory, the One who lifts my head high.
4 I call out to the LORD,
and he answers me from his holy mountain.
5 I lie down and sleep;
I wake again, because the LORD sustains me.
6 I will not fear though tens of thousands
assail me on every side.
7 Arise, LORD!
Deliver me, my God!
Strike all my enemies on the jaw;
break the teeth of the wicked.
8 From the LORD comes deliverance.
May your blessing be on your people.
  • For your six: Man, was it a good day for Ziba. I imagine it would be like returning home from the office after getting the biggest raise ever and saying “Honey, guess what happened to me today.” Good days--they are just so good, and sometimes hard to come by. Pray that God would come through for your six today in a way that leaves them resolutely feeling, ‘Today was a good day.’
  • For our church: David seems remarkably unconcerned about the insults coming his way. He seems to be connected to God in way that gives him such strength, peace, and purpose that the insults don’t matter. Ask God to help our church connect with God in a similar way. Pray that God would give us a sense of our purpose as a church. Pray that we would be so focused on it that we wouldn’t be bothered by small and unimportant things.
  • For families: Has anyone ever called you a name or said mean or hurtful things about you? How did that make you feel? Words have great power to lift us up or bring us down, but God is even more powerful than people’s words. Pray that God would tell each of you who he says you are and write down anything you hear. You could even write this up nicely for each person in your family and put it in a little frame in their room. Come back to God’s words for you the next time someone says something that hurts your feelings. Pray that God’s words would be more powerful and would drive out any power that the other words have over you.