Blessed Amid Stress
Almighty God, You made me in Your image and breathed into me the breath of life. I come before You now.
2 Samuel 19:31-43
Consider: "Grace holds out the promise that God judges people, not for what they have been but what they could be, not by their past but by their future" (Philip Yancey). David took that to heart and so must we.
As David journeys from his desert retreat back to Jerusalem, he has a warm and affirming encounter with an old man. But the chapter ends with conflict still simmering between Judah and Israel. Barzillai, with the maturity of age, knows when he has done enough. He comes to cross the river with the king, showing his support as he had when he provided food and bedding for David and his men in their desert exile (2 Sam. 17:27-29). His generous commitment must have warmed David's heart, but Barzillai wants to go home, now that his faculties are beginning to fail. He sends Kimham (possibly his son) to serve the king in his stead, saying, "Do for him whatever you wish" (37). And David replies, "I will do for him whatever you wish" (38). Here is true service from a man who is not servile or fawning but has the strength of true integrity--a contrast with the self-justifying exchanges of verses 41-43.
David has a hard job on his hands to restore the unity of his kingdom, to bring justice and good government to the factions and clans who have had to deal with losses in battle and the unresolved antagonisms of war. As we read this dispiriting history, let us remember that Jerusalem is the place where David had settled thirty or so years before, when "the Lord had given him rest from all his enemies" (2 Sam. 7:1). How hard for him to trust God's purposes when, having achieved so much, he has to start again. But that's life! Those with responsibilities in workplaces of all kinds have these swings of achievement and setback--a friend in a large energy company, a daughter working in a local shop, a president in difficult times.
Apply: We must live life looking through the windshield, not the rear-view mirror. Plan to reach for the future God has for you.
Dear Lord, life does have its ups and downs. Thank You for the peace that is mine when I center my life on You. You are my rock!
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