Devotions

Monthly Archives: June, 2018

Abigail

Lesson Eight | Devotion #6: Abigail
Debbie Gabbara | Assistant to the Gathering Pastor

“Now the name of the man was Nabal; and the name of his wife Abigail: and she was a woman of good understanding, and of a beautiful countenance: but the man was churlish and evil in his doings; and he was of the house of Caleb.”  1 Samuel

Abigail is described as intelligent and beautiful.  The King James Version describes her husband, Nabal, as “churlish.”  We would call him a jerk!  He was stingy, rude, badly behaved, and harsh.  The Message says, “Foolishness oozed from him.”   

Abigail did not let the bad behavior of her husband influence her in the way she treated others.  One day Abigail heard that her foolish, ungrateful husband had caused their very lives to be in danger.  Like superheroes do when trouble is coming, she flew into action and changed the world around her.

My great-niece was visiting next door at my sister’s house recently.  She spent most of her visit dressed in Wonder Woman attire.  She swam through deep waters (in the pool), she put out the fire (the candles on her birthday cake), and deflected danger with the bands on her wrists.  Danger was coming towards Abigail, but she did not need Wonder Woman, she used the Lord’s super power – wisdom and kindness.

Abigail was wise, she knew and trusted the Lord.  David sent his men to Nabal because they needed food.  When they took a request from David to Nabal, he insulted them and sent them away.  Soon Abigail heard that David planned to destroy her husband and everyone in his household.  Abigail hurried to bring them food, and plenty of it.  She fell on her face before David and took responsibility for her husband’s inexcusable behavior.  From her heart poured gratefulness for the protection that David and his men had given her shepherds and servants.  Abigail knew of God’s protection of David and his men.  She reminded David of God’s strength and goodness in his life.

Abigail had a beautiful countenance when approaching David.  Her beauty was not just in her appearance, but also in her gracious words.  She showed kindness to David.  She cared about the need of food for his men.  Abigail pleaded with him not to participate in vengeance, but to allow God to bring the trouble to his enemies.  She reminded David that he fought the battles of the Lord, and not to let evil as was in her husband be found in him.

David did allow Abigail’s family to live.  God blessed Abigail for her faithfulness and trust in Him.  Using wisdom and kindness, and depending on her knowledge of God, Abigail’s quick actions and humble words saved her family.

“If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you.”   James 1:5 NIV

Abner

Lesson Eight | Devotion #5: Abner
John Carter | Director of Finance & HR

Abner’s Civil War of the Heart

You may not have ever heard of the man named Abner. His name in current culture means very little if anything. If you have been in church for some time, you probably got a short introduction to who he is in the Bible. He is often overlooked because of the two dynamic kings of Israel that existed during his command, King Saul and King David. Abner is an interesting character; you can read a lot about his story in 2 Samuel.

To give you a brief overview of Abner here are a few facts:

  • He was Saul’s chosen Commander in Chief.
  • He was Saul’s cousin.
  • His name means “Father of Light” or “Enlightened.”
  • He was general for all of Saul’s rule and remained in that position for seven years after Saul’s death.
  • He fought against David and remained loyal to Saul.
  • He was murdered by David’s commander Joab.

If I were to describe his character, I would say that he was a loyal man. He was ambitious, had a strong sense of duty, and he was no doubt strong, dynamic, and able to lead. The description King David gave in 2 Samuel 3:38 described him as “a prince and a great man.” David wept bitterly at the death of Abner, so did all the people of Israel. You begin to see how Abner is a world changer.

Abner did not always find himself fighting on the right side of God so to speak, but he was no doubt a man that changed the world. Early in life, he was fighting with God’s anointed king (King Saul), but after Saul had continued to disobey God and lost his favor with God, Abner chose to remain loyal to a man rather than remain loyal to God. Even after Saul’s death, Abner chose to fight against the will of God. I think 2 Samuel 3:6 says it all when it comes to the decision Abner made,

“While there was war between the house of Saul and the house of David, Abner was making himself strong in the house of Saul.”

I tried to place myself in the shoes of Abner, having fought for and built a kingdom under Saul’s name, I can only imagine how hard it would be just to give it up. Taking into consideration the character of Abner, there was no doubt a sense of pride and ego built up in Abner’s heart over the years. He had helped make Israel a fierce nation. This pride can be seen in his response to Saul’s son in 2 Samuel 3:8,

“Then Abner was very angry over the words of Ish-bosheth and said, ‘Am I a dog’s head of Judah? To this day I keep showing steadfast love to the house of Saul your father, to his brothers, and to his friends, and have not given you into the hand of David. And yet you charge me today with a fault concerning a woman.’”

So what is the practical application in studying about this man Abner? You might be saying, “so what?” “How does this matter to me?” As I put myself in Abner’s shoes, the question that keeps coming to my mind is, “Would I have done anything differently? Would I have been willing to give up the kingdom I had built and humbled myself to God’s will and way? Then I make it real personal, what kingdom am I holding on to right now? Is there something I know goes against the will of God? Is there something I do not want to give up because I spent so much of my time and energy building it up?”

Those are real heart questions to deal with and not always easy to identify. Can I encourage you to take some time and pray that God shows you these areas to which we so often cling? The story of Abner does not end with him always fighting against David to the bitter end. The cool part about the story of Abner is we get to see this reconciliation between David and Abner in 2 Samuel 3:21,

“And Abner said to David, ‘I will arise and go and will gather all Israel to my lord the king, that they may make a covenant with you, and that you may reign over all that your heart desires.’ So David sent Abner away, and he went in peace.”

If peace is what you are after, find what it is in your life that fights against the will of God and learn to humble yourself. I am sure it was not easy for a mighty man like Abner, who had fought for so long, to say, “you may reign over all that your heart desires.”  That included David reigning over Abner. Let us figure out how we can say to God, “You can reign over all that your heart desires in my life.”

Absalom

Lesson Eight | Devotion #4: Absalom
Roger Allen | Recovery Director

“Now in all Israel there was no one so much to be praised for his handsome appearance as Absalom. From the sole of his foot to the crown of his head there was no blemish in him.” (2 Samuel 14:25)

For Absalom, life was good. Gifted, handsome, and the king’s son, he was born with the proverbial “silver spoon.” Yet, by the end of his life, he was seen as rebellious, resentful, and manipulating. Constantly promoting himself, he was able to garner the support for his plan to be king. Fueled by jealousy, resentment, and pride, he went into action.

Absalom’s story is told in 2 Samuel chapters 13-19. King David’s third son had all the outward skills necessary to be a great leader. He could have been a force for good. When you read the story, you are reminded of the suspense and intrigue that so many kingdoms have seen. Whether it was the court of Henry VIII or the Romanov dynasty, the spirit of Absalom exists. Pride, fueled by a sense of entitlement, has brought down many leaders.

It does not matter if you are a leader in the church, business, or government, there can be an “Absalom” in your life. Building support for their own agenda they can fly under the radar. It is possible they start out with sincere intentions, but bitterness exposes their rotten core. In Hosea 14:9, the Bible tells us that, “Whoever is wise, let him understand these things; whoever is discerning, let him know them; for the ways of the Lord are right, and the upright walk in them, but transgressors stumble in them.” If Absalom had walked uprightly, the outcome would have been much different. Absalom, instead of his younger brother Solomon, may have become king. Then David would not have had to lament, “O my son Absalom, my son, my son Absalom!”

“And the king was deeply moved and went up to the chamber over the gate and wept. And as he went, he said, ‘O my son Absalom, my son, my son Absalom! Would I had died instead of you, O Absalom, my son, my son!’” (2 Samuel 18:33)

Bathsheba

 

Lesson Eight | Devotion #3: Bathsheba
Donna Fox | Assistant to the Growth Pastor

2 Samuel 11:2-5 says, “It happened, late one afternoon, when David arose from his couch and was walking on the roof of the king’s house, that he saw from the roof a woman bathing; and the woman was very beautiful.  And David sent and inquired about the woman. And one said, ‘Is not this Bathsheba, the daughter of Eliam, the wife of Uriah the Hittite?’  So David sent messengers and took her, and she came to him, and he lay with her. (Now she had been purifying herself from her uncleanness.) Then she returned to her house.  And the woman conceived, and she sent and told David, ‘I am pregnant.’”

Her husband (Uriah) was away at war.  King David should have been at war but stayed behind.  Enter Bathsheba. Up on the rooftop, bathing, King David summoned her into his presence. Why did she not say “no?”  She was likely being submissive to the king.  When she discovered she was pregnant, she sent word to David.  He hatched an evil scheme to bring Uriah back from war and make it look like it was his child. When this failed, he hatched an even more evil scheme to have Uriah killed in battle. After a period of mourning, David took Bathsheba as his wife.  The baby was born but quickly died as prophesied by Nathan. The lesson here is that our sins have consequences, but through repentance, we can make things right with God.

David realized his sin and repented. God then blessed them with a second child, Solomon, who was later named king. Eventually, they would have five children total, four living, and God blessed them greatly.

She raised Solomon in a godly way, which we glean from Solomon’s writing, “Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it” (Proverbs 22:6).

Fast forward to the book of 1 Kings chapter 1.  Here we find David is old and sick.  Without his knowledge, Adonijah had been made the king (when it rightfully should have been Solomon).  Nathan tells Bathsheba, and she goes to see David to get the matter straightened out.  She reminds David that Solomon should be king and Adonijah had been made king without his knowledge.

Bathsheba was unfaithful, became pregnant, her husband died, and her child died.  She endured a lot.  Nevertheless, by her faithfulness in God and her godly home, eventually, Jesus would be born to a descendant of David and Bathsheba and her place in history would be secured!

Nathan

Lesson Eight | Devotion #2: Nathan
Brett Eberle | Production Director

I have a confession to make, when I was given Nathan as a topic for these character studies I had no idea who he was. As I began studying and reading, I realized that he played a huge part in a couple of stories that I knew well, I just did not know his name.  Nathan was a prophet who was very close to King David.

The first story that Nathan is involved in had to do with David’s desire to build the temple. In the story, David is struggling with the fact that he lives in a cedar palace while the presence of the Lord dwelt in a tent. David called for Nathan to find out if it was acceptable for him to build the temple and Nathan told him that the Lord is with him so he can build the temple. That night God comes to Nathan and tells him that David cannot be the one to build the temple. Now, this is not all that God told Nathan, but we should stop for a second and look at what just happened. Nathan, who just told King David, the most powerful person in Israel, that God is on his side and he can build the temple, now has to tell the king that somebody else will be the one to do it. There is a good chance that what Nathan had to tell the king could enrage David possibly costing Nathan his life. This is the first huge decision we see Nathan have to make, whether he was going to honor God and convey the message or save his own skin and let David build the temple. Nathan decides to tell David what God has said, and it results in David rejoicing in God’s decision because Nathan got to tell David the second part, that David’s offspring would be the one to build the temple.

The second story has to do with David and Bathsheba. After it seems like David has gotten away with his sin, God comes to Nathan and tells him that He is displeased with David. Nathan has the second huge decision to make, and unlike the first one, the news Nathan has to tell David has no upside. Nathan makes the hard choice to follow what God has told him to do. 2 Samuel 12:1-10 records the conversation.

If you keep reading, after David dies, his son Solomon, becomes the king and his high officials are listed. Among those listed, two were sons of the prophet Nathan, one of which is described as the king’s friend. Nathan had to make some very difficult decisions, but no matter how difficult they were, he always decided to follow the plans that God had given to him and it resulted in two of his sons being among some of the most important and influential people in Israel at the time. God has an incredible plan for your life, but that plan starts with you choosing to follow God no matter how hard the decisions are to make.



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