Ever been going through tough times? Ever been in the valley? Going through tough times now? Going through the valley? Ever had people throw things or kick you while you were down? Beware of people who give you bad advice! Beware of people who are just pretending to care but don’t have your best interest at hand!
Keep your eyes on God! Turn to Him for counsel and advice! Let Him be your rock and your fortress! Don’t lose hope! God is with you! God will provide! God can turn what the enemy was planning for evil and use it for good! God can turn around cursing and turn it into blessings.
Be it encouragement! Be it wisdom! Be it protection! Be it safety! Be it direction! Be it instruction! God will provide!
Consider David while Saul was chasing him even though he was to be the next king. In today’s reading we see David’s own son revolting now. But God provides and David’s hope and faith help him get through it!
Don’t give up! Don’t lose hope! Turn to God and allow Him to direct your path and make it straight! From the lowest point in the valley to the mountain top experiences, don’t take your eyes off of Him or start thinking you are doing it all in your own strength.
Today’s reading starts here…
1Now when David had passed a little beyond the summit, there was Ziba the servant of Mephibosheth to meet him with a pair of saddled donkeys, and on them 200 loaves of bread, 100 clusters of raisins, 100 fig cakes and a bottle of wine. 2So the king asked Ziba, “What are you doing with these?” Ziba said, “The donkeys are for the king’s household to ride on, the bread and the figs are for the young men to eat, and the wine is for anyone who faints in the wilderness to drink.” 3Then the king asked, “And where is your master’s son?” “Well, he’s staying in Jerusalem,” Ziba said to the king, “for he said, ‘Today the house of Israel will restore to me the kingdom of my father.” 4Then the king said to Ziba, “Behold, all that belongs to Mephibosheth is yours.” “I bow low,” Ziba said. “Let me find favor in your eyes, my lord the king.” 5When King David arrived at Bahurim, behold, just coming out from there was a man of the family of the house of Saul—his name was Shimei son of Gera. As he came out, he kept on cursing 6and flinging stones at David and at all King David’s servants, while all the people and all the mighty men were at his right hand and on his left. 7Thus Shimei said as he cursed, “Get out, get out! The man of bloodshed, the good-for-nothing! 8Adonai has returned on you all the blood of Saul’s house, in whose place you’ve reigned. Adonai has handed the kingdom over to your son Absalom—so see, your own evil has overtaken you, because you are a man of bloodshed.” 9Then Abishai son of Zeruiah said to the king, “Why let this dead dog curse my lord the king? Let me go over now and take off his head!” 10But the king said, “What have I to do with you, sons of Zeruiah? If he curses, it’s because Adonai has said to him, ‘Curse David!’ So who should say, ‘Why did you do so?’” 11Then David said to Abishai and to all his officials, “Look, my son who came from my own body is seeking my life—how much more this Benjamite? Leave him alone and let him curse, since Adonai has told him. 12Perhaps Adonai will look on my affliction and return good to me for his cursing this day.” 13So David and his men continued on the way, while Shimei kept walking alongside the hill parallel with him, cursing as he walked, casting stones at him and throwing dirt. 14Finally the king and all the people that were with him arrived weary, so he refreshed himself there.
15Meanwhile Absalom and all the people of the men of Israel arrived in Jerusalem. Ahithophel was with him. 16Now when David’s friend Hushai the Archite came to Absalom, Hushai said to Absalom, “Long live the king! Long live the king!” 17But Absalom said to Hushai, “Is this your loyalty to your friend? Why did you not go with your friend?” 18“No!” said Hushai to Absalom. “For the one whom Adonai has chosen—as well as these people, all the men of Israel—his I will be and with him I will stay. 19Besides, whom should I serve? Shouldn’t I be in the presence of his son? As I have served in your father’s presence, so I will be in your presence.” 20Then Absalom said to Ahithophel, “Give your counsel. What should we do?” 21So Ahithophel said to Absalom, “Go to your father’s concubines whom he has left to take care of the palace. Then all Israel will hear that you have made yourself abhorrent to your father and the hands of all who are with you will also be strengthened.” 22So they pitched a tent for Absalom on the roof, and Absalom went to his father’s concubines in the sight of all Israel. 23Now in those days the counsel that Ahithophel gave was like inquiring for the word of God—so was all of Ahithophel’s counsel both with David and with Absalom.
–from 2 Samuel 16
Which advice is really best? How will you know? Is one person enough to ask? Will you ask 2? Do you need more than that? How will you know which is best?
1Moreover Ahithophel said to Absalom, “Let me now choose 12,000 men, and I will arise and pursue David tonight. 2I will attack him while he is weary and weak-handed, and terrify him so that all the people that are with him will flee. Then I will strike down the king when he is alone. 3Then I will bring all the people back to you—when all will have returned except the man you are seeking, then all the people will be at peace.” 4Now the plan seemed right in the eyes of Absalom and all the elders of Israel. 5Then Absalom said, “Call now Hushai the Archite also. Let’s hear what he has to say as well.” 6When Hushai came to Absalom, Absalom spoke to him saying, “This is what Ahithophel has advised. Should we follow his counsel? If not, you will speak.” 7So Hushai said to Absalom, “This time the counsel that Ahithophel has given is not good.” 8Hushai then added, “You know your father and his men. They are mighty men, and they are embittered in their souls like a bear robbed of her cubs in the wild. Your father is an expert in warfare, and won’t spend the night with the troops. 9Even now, he must be hiding in one of the caves or in some other place. So if he were to fall on them at first, whoever hears of it would say, ‘There’s a slaughter among the people following Absalom!’ 10Then even one who is valiant, whose heart is like the heart of a lion, will utterly melt away—for all Israel knows that your father is a mighty warrior and those who are with him are valiant men. 11Instead, I counsel that all Israel be gathered altogether to you—from Dan to Beersheba, as abundant as the sand by the sea—and that you personally go into the battle. 12Then we will come upon him in one of the places where he can be found and we’ll fall upon him as dew falls on the ground. None will be left of all the men who are with him—not even one. 13Moreover if he withdraws into a city, then all Israel will bring ropes to that city and drag it into the valley until not even one small stone will be found there.” 14Then Absalom and all the men of Israel said, “The counsel of Hushai the Archite is better than the counsel of Ahithophel.” For Adonai had ordained to thwart Ahithophel’s good counsel, so that Adonai might bring evil upon Absalom. 15Then Hushai said to Zadok and Abiathar the kohanim, “This and that is what Ahithophel counseled Absalom and the elders of Israel, and this and that is what I advised. 16Now therefore send word quickly and tell David saying, ‘Don’t spend the night at the fords in the wilderness but by all means, cross over or else the king and all the people with him may be swallowed up.’” 17Now Jonathan and Ahimaaz were staying at En-rogel, and a maidservant used to go and pass information along to them. Then they would go and inform King David for they could not be seen entering the city. 18But a lad did see them and informed Absalom. So the two of them left quickly and arrived at the house of a man in Bahurim. He had a well in his courtyard; so they went down into it. 19Then the woman took the cover and spread it over the well’s mouth and scattered grain on top of it so that nothing was noticeable. 20When Absalom’s servants came to the woman at the house and said, “Where are Ahimaaz and Jonathan?” the woman said to them, “They crossed over the brook of water.” When they had searched and could not find them, they returned to Jerusalem. 21After they had departed, they came up from the well, then went and informed King David, telling David, “Get up and cross over the water immediately, for thus has Ahithophel counseled against you.” 22Then David arose, and all the people who were with him, and they crossed over the Jordan. By morning light, not even one of them was left who had not crossed the Jordan. 23Now when Ahithophel saw that his counsel was not followed, he saddled his donkey, arose, went to his home in his hometown set his house in order, and hanged himself. So he died and was buried in his father’s tomb. 24David had reached Mahanaim by the time Absalom crossed the Jordan, he and all the men of Israel with him. 25Now Absalom had set Amasa over the army instead of Joab. (Now Amasa was son of a man whose name was Ithra the Israelite, who had gone to Abigal daughter of Nahash, sister to Zeruiah Joab’s mother.) 26Israel and Absalom camped in the land of Gilead. 27Now when David reached Mahanaim, Shobi son of Nahash of Rabbah of the children of Ammon, Machir son of Ammiel of Lo-debar and Barzillai the Gileadite of Rogelim 28brought beds, basins, clay pots, wheat, barley, flour, roasted grain, beans, lentils, parched seeds, 29honey, curd, sheep and cheese from the herd for David and for the people who were with him to eat. For they said, “The people must be hungry, weary and thirsty in the wilderness.”
–from 2 Samuel 17
Things go best when people are really looking out for your best interest! People who are good to the core! Surround yourself with good people! Help them to be built up and encouraged and know the truth and love of God! Will you show love to everyone? Will you love your enemies? Will you pray for those who persecute you? Will you look for good in all?
1Then David mustered the people who were with him and set commanders of thousands and captains of hundreds over them. 2Then David sent out the troops, one third under the command of Joab, one third under the command of Joab’s brother Abishai son of Zeruiah, and one third under the command of Ittai the Gittite. The king said to the troops, “I must certainly go out with you also.” 3But the troops said, “You must not go out! For if we were to flee, they would not care about us, even if half of us die, they still wouldn’t care about us—but you are worth 10,000 of us. Therefore now, it is better that you be ready to support us from the city.” 4Then the king said to them, “Whatever seems best to you I will do.” So the king stood beside the gate and all the troops went out by their hundreds and thousands. 5Then the king charged Joab, Abishai and Ittai saying, “Deal gently with the young man Absalom for my sake.” Now all the troops heard the king’s charge to all the commanders concerning Absalom. 6Then the troops went out to the field to confront Israel but the battle took place in the forest of Ephraim. 7The people of Israel were defeated there before the followers of David, and the slaughter that day was great—20,000 men. 8For the battle there was spread over the face of the entire countryside and the forest devoured more people that day than the sword devoured. 9Now Absalom encountered some of David’s servants. When Absalom was riding on his mule, the mule went under the thick branches of the great oak, and his head got caught in the oak, so that he was left hanging between heaven and earth, while the mule that was under him went on. 10Then a certain man saw it and told Joab saying, “Look, I saw Absalom hanging in an oak.” 11Then Joab said to his informant, “Look here, you saw him, so why didn’t you strike him there to the ground? I would have given you ten pieces of silver and a belt!” 12But the man said to Joab, “Even if I had 1,000 pieces of silver in my hand, I would not raise my hand against the king’s son; for in our hearing the king charged you, Abishai and Ittai saying, ‘Watch over the young man Absalom for me.’ 13Otherwise, I would have betrayed his soul—and nothing stays hidden from the king—and you yourself would have stood aloof.” 14“I won’t wait for you!” Joab said. So he took three darts in his hand and thrust them through Absalom’s heart while he was yet alive in the midst of the oak. 15Then ten young men who were Joab’s armor-bearers surrounded Absalom, struck and finished him off. 16Then Joab blew the shofar and the troops returned from pursuing Israel, for Joab held back the troops. 17They took Absalom and threw him into a deep pit in the forest and piled over him a very large heap of stones. Then all Israel fled, everyone to his tent. 18(Now Absalom, in his lifetime, had taken and set up for himself a pillar, which is in the King’s Valley, for he said, “I have no son to preserve the memory of my name.” So he called the pillar by his name and it has been called Absalom’s Monument to this day.) 19Then Ahimaaz son of Zadok said, “Let me now run and bring the king news that Adonai has vindicated him against the hand of his enemies.” 20But Joab said to him, “You are not to be the bearer of news today. You may do it another day, but today you shall bear no news—for the king’s son is dead.” 21Then Joab said to the Cushite, “Go tell the king what you have seen.” So the Cushite bowed to Joab and took off running. 22But Ahimaaz son of Zadok once again said to Joab, “Whatever happens, please let me also run after the Cushite.” “Why should you run, my son,” Joab said, “since you would have no news worth telling?” 23“Whatever may come of it, I want to run!” So he said to him, “Run!” Ahimaaz ran by the way of the plain, and so passed the Cushite. 24Now David was sitting between the two gates. When the watchman on the roof over the gate walked over to the wall, he lifted up his eyes and looked, and all of a sudden, he saw a man running alone. 25The watchman cried out and told the king. The king said, “If he is alone, there is good news in his mouth.” So he came closer and closer. 26Then the watchman saw another man running, so the watchman called out to the gatekeeper and said, “Look, another man is running alone.” The king said, “He too is bringing good news.” 27Then the watchman said, “I can see that the running of the first one is like the running of Ahimaaz son of Zadok.” “This is a good man and he comes with good news,” the king replied. 28Then Ahimaaz called out and said to the king, “Shalom.” Then he prostrated himself before the king with his face to the ground and said, “Blessed be Adonai your God, who has given over the men who lifted up their hand against my lord the king.” 29Then the king asked, “Is it well with the young man Absalom?” Ahimaaz answered, “I saw a great tumult when the king’s servant Joab sent me, your servant, but I did not know what it was about.” 30“Step aside and stand here,” the king said. So he stepped aside and stood still. 31Then the Cushite arrived and said, “Let my lord the king receive good news for Adonai has vindicated you today against all who rose up against you.” 32Then the king asked the Cushite, “Is it well with the young man Absalom?” The Cushite answered, “Let the enemies of my lord the king and all who rise up against you for evil be as that young man!”
–from 2 Samuel 18
Will you just give it up to God rather than overreacting? Will you turn to God in and through it all trusting in Him?
1A passionate song of David, which he sang to Adonai concerning Cush, a Benjamite. 2Adonai my God, in You I have taken refuge. Save me from each of my persecutors, and deliver me. 3Otherwise he will rip me apart like a lion, with no one to rescue me. 4Adonai my God, if I have done this— if there is guilt on my hands, 5if I have paid back evil to anyone at peace with me, or unjustly attacked my adversary, 6 then let the enemy chase me, overtake me, and trample me into the ground, leaving my honor in the dirt! Selah 7Arise, Adonai, in Your anger, arise against the fury of my enemies! Awake for me! You decreed justice. 8Let an assembly of peoples gather around You and return on high, above them. 9Adonai judges the peoples. Vindicate me, Adonai, according to my righteousness and integrity in me. 10Please, end the evil of the wicked and sustain the righteous. A just God examines hearts and minds. 11My shield is God— Savior of the upright in heart. 12God is a righteous judge, a God who is indignant every day. 13If He does not relent, He will sharpen His sword. He has bent His bow and made it ready. 14He prepares His own deadly weapons. He makes His fiery arrows. 15Look! The one pregnant with trouble conceives mischief and brings forth deceit. 16He digs a pit, scrapes it out, and then falls into the hole he has made. 17His mischief will turn on his own head. His violence will boomerang on his crown. 18I will praise Adonai for His justice. I sing praise to the Name of Adonai Elyon!
–from Psalms 7
Trust God! Turn to Him! Walk with Him! Talk with Him! He knows your name! He knows your every thought! He sees each tear that falls! He hears you when you call!
Even My Close Friend
1For the music director: a psalm of David. 2Blessed is the one who considers the wretched— Adonai will deliver him in the evil day. 3Adonai will protect him and keep him alive. He will be made blessed in the land. You will not give him over to the desire of his foes. 4Adonai will strengthen him on his sickbed. May You restore him completely from his bed. 5I said: “Adonai, have mercy on me. Heal my soul, for I have sinned against You.” 6My enemies speak evil about me: “When will he die and his name perish?” 7And if someone of them comes to see me, he speaks falsely. He stores up evil in his heart, then he goes out and chatters. 8All who hate me whisper together about me They imagine the worst about me: 9“Something evil was poured into him— he will not get up again from the place where he lies.” 10Even my own close friend, whom I trusted, who ate my bread, has lifted up his heel against me. 11But You, Adonai, have mercy on me, and raise me up, so I may repay them. 12By this I know that You delight in me: that my enemy does not shout in triumph over me. 13You uphold me in my integrity and set me before Your face forever. 14Blessed be Adonai, the God of Israel, from everlasting to everlasting. Amen and amen!
–from Psalms 41
God cannot lie! There is no darkness in Him! We need to be of good character! The goal is to raise the bar! raise the average! It’s not to lower it to the lowest common denominator! So live it that way! Make a difference in this world you live in! Make a difference in your home, your neighborhood, and your community!
1Paul, a slave of God and an emissary of Messiah Yeshua, for the faith of God’s chosen and the knowledge of truth that is in keeping with godliness, 2based on the hope of eternal life. God—who cannot lie—promised this before the beginning of time. 3But in His own time He made His message known, through a proclamation with which I was entrusted, by the command of God our Savior. 4To Titus, a true child of our common faith: Grace and shalom from God the Father and Messiah Yeshua, our Savior!
Setting the Community in Order
5The reason I left you in Crete was so that you would set in order the things that remain and appoint elders in every city as I directed you— 6if anyone is blameless, the husband of one wife, having children of faith with no charge of wild living or rebellion. 7For the overseer must be blameless as God’s administrator—not arrogant, not quick-tempered, not addicted to wine, not violent, not greedy for dishonest gain. 8Rather he must be hospitable, loving what is good, self-controlled, upright, devout, disciplined. 9He must hold firmly to the trustworthy message in keeping with the teaching, so he can both encourage by instruction that is sound and convict those who speak against it. 10For there are many who are rebellious, vain talkers and deceivers, especially those from the circumcision. 11They must be silenced—those who upset entire households by teaching what they should not, for the sake of dishonest gain. 12One of them, one of their own prophets, said, “Cretans are always liars, evil beasts, lazy gluttons.” 13This testimony is true. For this reason rebuke them sharply, so they might be sound in the faith, 14not paying attention to Judaic myths and commands of men who turn away from the truth. 15To the pure all things are pure; but to those who are defiled and unbelieving, nothing is pure. Both their mind and conscience are defiled. 16They claim to know God but their deeds deny Him. They are despicable and disobedient and worthless for any good deed.
–from Titus 1