Tag Archives: II Samuel 12

Philip Conley's Morning Thoughts

Morning Thoughts (II Samuel 12:24-25 – “A Name for the Situation”)

“A Name for the Situation”

II Samuel 12:24-25, “And David comforted Bathsheba his wife, and went in unto her, and lay with her: and she bare a son, and he called his name Solomon: and the LORD loved him. And he sent by the hand of Nathan the prophet; and he called his name Jedidiah, because of the LORD.”

This morning, names or labels create friction with some and opposition with others. There are a litany of reasons for this, but perhaps the most common reason that people cry against labels is that they plainly and simply cut right to the truth. The purpose of a name is to identify and at times group people for ease of communication. For example, I am known as an American to identify me as a citizen of this nation. Furthermore, I am known by name to distinguish me from other people in my family or people with a like name. To simply call me “Philip” would not necessarily distinguish me from the many Philips in the world. To simply call me “Conley” would not distinguish me from the many Conleys in this world. But, by identifying me as “Philip Nathanael Conley” gets to the point of who I am, distinguishing me from other people with similar names. A name or label that fails to identify but rather muddies the process misses the mark of what a name or label is meant or intended to be.

In our study verses, the names employed give us some grand insights into the conclusion of one of King David’s darker periods. In the preceding 1.5 chapters, David has been guilty of murder and adultery, been found out in his sin, and begun to pay dearly for it. He has already suffered pronouncement of the Lord’s judgment and started seeing it with the death of his son from his adulterous relationship with Bathsheba. From the mouth of God’s prophet Nathan, he knows that war and strife will follow him for the rest of his life. Eventually, 3 more of his sons will die as punishment for taking another man’s wife and having him put to death. However, in the midst of all this conflict and pain, the Lord in mercy has not rendered unto David the fullness of his just desserts. David deserved to die for his actions, but the Lord spared him and put away his sin. David deserved the Lord departing from him and his kingdom, but the Lord promised to give him a light and his seed established after him. Such are we today friends. God has put away our sin and not dealt with us after our iniquities. (Psalm 103:10)

As this terrible chapter of David’s life is about to close (with many other miserable chapters prophesied to come), God gives him a great mercy and establishment of the covenant to His appointed king. God blesses David and Bathsheba to have another son, and though this was a marriage that should never have happened, God’s mercy shone above David’s darkness. This son was doubly named, and his name doubly resonates. David named his son Solomon, which is what he was commonly known by all his life. That name literally means “peace” or “peaceable.” David had already been told back in Chapter 7 that even though he would not be able to build a house or temple for the Lord that his son would reign after him and build such a house. Solomon was to be this son, and David’s naming of him not only foretells his son’s disposition, but it also resonates to how David felt about his situation.

Notice that Nathan’s words from Verses 10-12 are no less true now than they were when he spoke them. David still knows that trouble will follow him and his house all his life. Yet, David feels peace from the hand of God. He names his son accordingly. Though chapter 13 begins another woeful set of circumstances, David feels some measure of peace. Why would this be? Though David knows that God’s judgment for his sins are not over, he feels that God will still be with him. Knowing that God will be with us, even when we are under judgment is a great comfort. David felt that. Yes, judgment was still in force, but God’s wrath – or chastisement – was passing. While still guilty, David felt that God could and would still smile upon him.

Think about our situations today. Do we get ourselves in painful messes? Does the Lord bring judgment upon us for our wrongdoings? Indeed, all of us would answer in the affirmative in full honesty. Though we do not always immediately get through the consequences for our misdeeds, we can still feel the warm presence of the Almighty more quickly than it takes for the consequences to pass. David had already been to God’s house to worship and praise Him, and God returned His smiles to David’s life. One of the things that people today are quickly losing grip and sight of is the fact that being sorry or wishing something had never happened does not immediately absolve associated consequences. As a young father, part of my children’s teaching is showing them that sorrow and repentance does not take away evil consequences right away. Someone who commits murder may be sorry immediately after and truly repent in not ever intending to do it again. However, that same individual may spend the rest of his life in prison on account of it. However, though the consequences continue, God’s presence and counsel can still be felt, which warms and gives peace to the soul.

God – on the other hand – gives this child a different name. The name Jedidiah literally is rendered “beloved of the Lord.” To show His love for him, God names him accordingly. To re-iterate, should this union of David and Bathsheba have ever happened? No. Would David have had this son under honourable circumstances? No. Yet, the Lord blessed David and his son anyway. God’s perspective to the situation at hand was mercy and kindness, even though his people had been dishonourable again. God loved him in spite of the circumstances. Again, such is it with us today. God loves us in spite of ourselves and our circumstances. Should you or I even be here? God could have justly smitten Adam and Eve to corporeal death in the Garden of Eden. If that execution had been enforced, none of us today would have lived. God could have at the moment of man’s sin simply burned up the world and fashioned another one. He would have been just in doing so.

Furthermore, God would have been just in allowing the world to continue in the sin-stained condition that man placed it without redeeming or saving a single person. God would have been perfectly just in doing so. God did not have to smile upon David and Bathsheba’s union. God did not have to smile upon us. God would have still been God had He loved not a single human being. We certainly were not deserving of it. Yet, He smiled upon this union and loved the product of it. He smiled upon His people and loved us in it. Truly, this situation highlights the mercy and unfailing kindness that God has to undeserving wretches as we are.

Collating these ideas together, we can see that though we all have monikers that were given to us at birth, we have been given another name by our Heavenly Father. His great love upon us is so profound that we are called the sons of God. (I John 3:1) Not servants, not slaves, or even angels. We are called His sons! We are beloved of Him just as Solomon was for His only Begotten Son’s sake! Though we have names that we are known by, God knows us by the name that is the greatest name ever under heaven and given among men by which we must be saved. (Acts 4:12) Yet, though we are beloved of Him, we still fail and come short. Does He bring judgment upon us for that? Absolutely. But, we still have peace and comfort even now. Despite what some people may think or experience, real, lasting peace and joy can be experienced in the here and now. It will not be necessarily found with serene circumstances: David’s case here certainly was not. Yet, in spite of our surroundings, we may have a situation that we can say, “Some how, some way, even though I have really messed up, I know that He still loves me and will go with me.”

Friends, I am thankful for the name that I was given by my parents. It was given with careful thought and for good reasons, and it is what I know and am known by. I am supremely thankful to be counted in that number that God has loved and set His affection and family name upon. It is something that I hope to be known by while I live based on how I live. Though stumbling and stammering at times, I hope to be known as beloved of the Lord. Though painfully messing up time and again in my life, I hope to experience peace and comfort from the Lord. He is still merciful to us in the midst of our iniquities, and He will ever love us in spite of the circumstances. May we treasure His name while we bear ours. May we seek to cease from sin and be spurred to a greater service. Look behind you friends. Does He have every right to not love you based on where you have been and what you have done? Does He have every right to cast you off based on what your deeds have been? My answers are yes and yes. But, He has not done so. Now, look before you friends. Is heaven and His home still as real and promised as ever? Is His tender mercy still new every morning until we get there? Again, my answers are yes and yes. Therefore, let my life between now and home be marked with steadfast resolve to honour the name He has given me and live with thanksgiving with the name that I am known by.

In Hope,
Bro Philip

Morning Thoughts (II Samuel 12:20)

Morning ThoughtsII Samuel 12:20, "Then David arose from the earth, and washed, and anointed himself, and changed his apparel, and came into the house of the LORD, and worshipped: then he came to his own house; and when he required, they set bread before him, and he did eat."

This morning, our culture is quickly losing any hold on the idea of situational acceptability.  With the lines between proper and improper, right and wrong, and good and evil being blurred, it is really quite unsurprising that people would get hazy as well when something is acceptable and when it is not.  For example, the clothing choices that people make today to wear – or not wear – in public defies any rational thinking of common decency.  About the only situation where such attire would be suitable would seem to be the privacy of your own home.  Terms like business attire, "Sunday-go-meeting clothes," and formal wear have either been lost in society's collective consciousness or are fading fast.  However, to the disciple of Christ, we need to remember that while we are called upon to be faithful at all times, there are times in our lives that require more of us than other times. 

Our study verse is found in the midst of one of David's most troubling times.  He has by this time fallen prey to some of the consequences of his adultery, falsehood, and murder in the matter of Uriah and his wife Bathsheba.  God has pronounced several evils upon David as a result of this sinful conduct, and many of those consequences are lifelong.  Today, we see many soft-headed ideas from the Christian world, and two of them are: 1. People should forgive and not make the person suffer anymore, 2. What I do only hurts myself.  Now, the second is a mindset that comes from the particularly unstudied person that fails to see how many times people either suffered or are punished for the sins of others.  Our verse comes on the heels of David learning that his illegitimate son has died.  That child died as a direct result of David's sin with Bathsheba.  That child's life was forfeit for what another did.  What we do most certainly affects far, far more people than we possibly realize: both for good and evil.

The first soft-headed idea needs a little space here before we get to David's pattern in our verse.  Many equate the idea of forgiveness with the removal of consequences.  Friends, those two things do not necessarily align with each other, though they can.  Consequences many times remain even after forgiveness has been extended.  For example, God forgave David by the mouth of Nathan the prophet.  Nathan tells him in Verse 13 that God put away his sin, and as a result, he would not die – though he deserved to as David himself declared in verse 6.  God forgave David.  However, he still suffered for the rest of his life with the sword never departing his house.  His children still rose up against him.  His children still died.  All of this came as a consequence of what he did, yet God forgave him.  I have known people that had a night's worth of illicit behavior that today carry a disease in their body that will remain with them for the rest of their lives.  They are truly sorry for what they did, and I have confidence that God has granted the peace of forgiveness to their broken spirit.  Yet, the disease remains.  Friends, consequences follow people even after repentance and forgiveness are in force.

The verse before us presents an interesting situation.  David has been fasting and praying to God for a while (the child died after 7 days of the sickness, and we might infer from the reading of it that David was doing this for almost the whole time).  During this time, he is in sackcloth and ashes, begging God to have mercy on his son.  However, after the child dies, the servants are afraid to tell David for fear that what they have seen for days (prayer and fasting in the dirt) would then swell into mortal heartbreak knowing that the child had passed away.  David discovers the truth through their change of behavior and proceeds to go through the actions in our verse.  And what an order they are!

One might think – at least I would – that eating would be a high priority.  Having never fasted for anything near what might have been 7 days, I would rather suspect from the back flips of my stomach eating would be a good way to start.  Yet, David understood what Job did, and that was that God's word and service came before even our necessary food. (Job 23:12) Today, people are so self-centered that God gets "the leavings" of our lives.  Bible reading occurs at the end of the day – if at all – once we have done all that we "had to do."  Church service is something that we attend if "nothing else is going on."  One person even told me, "If I have to miss from time to time, I think God will understand."  One of my former employers was trying to convince me of the need for me to work a Sunday, "You go to church all the time.  I think God will understand if you have to miss this one time."  My response did not exactly excite him, "I have to work far, far more days of my life than days I get to go to church.  I don't think God will understand since my church days are less in number than my work days.  Maybe in this case, the company will understand that I can't do it."

Prayer becomes an afterthought of what we should do, rather than a foremost thought in all that we do.  Friends, these things are not pleasant to consider, yet I can see them far too clearly in my own life many times.  David's foremost thought after prayer and fasting was not his natural needs.  Worship of the Lord came first.  Today, we all would do well to put this pattern before our eyes.  Natural needs should be placed squarely behind God's worship.  Church service should not be built around your life.  Your life should be built around church service.  Anything short of that is plain, old-fashioned idolatry.  However, notice something even more peculiar to this sequence of events.  David knew to put worship of God in His house first, but something had to be accomplished before that.

Before David went to the house of God, he made himself respectable.  Sackcloth and ashes in the dirt outside the palace was a perfectly acceptable way to show God his penitence for his sins.  Sackcloth and ashes with dirt-smeared skin was not an acceptable way to present himself in God's house.  A change had to be made.  Sometimes I get told that people only dress up for church to satiate their own vanity and pride.  Their charge is that people go to church to say, "Oh, look at me!"  Doubtless, pride and vanity afflict us all, and there have perhaps been cases of that: though I do not know of any firsthand.  However, my preference of wearing a suit to church is not because I am a preacher (been wearing one since I was 4 or 5).  My preference was thrust upon me as a child, but it is voluntary at this point.  It is my preference as that is the absolute best that I can put on to present myself in God's house.

David was before the Lord both in the dirt and in the house.  However, the idea of situational acceptability was familiar to him.  He knew that God's house should demand more respect than old rags.  Now, if old rags are all someone has, then by all means, come to church in what you have.  A man once told me that he would wear suits to work when there was a board meeting, to a funeral, and to a wedding.  These events were special.  My reply was met with shock, "Well instead of presenting yourself to board members, a grieving family, or a happy couple, church is where you get to present yourself to the King and a special portion of His family.  Is that not the most special event we could have in our lives?"

In the parable of the sower, part of the lesson of the good ground is that it does not have the clods, rocks, and weeds of the other parcels.  However, we know from natural observation that ground is never naturally clod, rock, and weed free.  Those things are part of the old earth that we live on.  So, if ground is good and free of those things, it must be prepared thusly.  Lately, I have spent a lot of time in my garden, and it never ceases to amaze me just how fast the ground can get out of control if allowed to.  Diligence is required to keep the good plants free of all obstacles and intrusions.  Preparing our heart and mind to seek the Lord and rejoice in His pavilions requires diligence.  However, it also behooves us to make the outside as presentable as we can as well.  David came to worship.  Worship means reverence, and the reverence of God requires that we be as presentable as we can.

When I was about 8 years old, I stumbled out of my room one Sunday morning.  I already had my shirt and slacks on, and was laying my coat and tie on a chair.  Dad was sitting at his desk, and he took one look at me and said, "What's your problem?"  Sometimes youngsters are just foolish enough to tell you.  "I don't want to go to church."  He said, "That's obvious.  So, what's your problem?  You know we're going."  "Yes sir, I know we are, but I don't want to."  I will never forget the reply he gave, "Whether you want to or not is not important.  You know we are going, and you need to put a better look on your face.  You are going to the house of God where His special people meet.  They deserve and He certainly deserves more than you are giving right now."  Many years later, I finally understood his point – though that day, I can assure you I put a better face on – in that part of being prepared for worship is how we appear.  Though God knows how we feel, our days in His courts should be marked with praise not woe.

David had a bad day that day.  Yet, he worshipped in the courts of the Lord.  Though heavy in spirit, he still made every effort to give the Lord all he had in church.  If he had showed up poorly dressed or poorly attuned in his countenance, the Lord would not have gotten David's all.  Friends, God has not changed, and He still deserves our all.  May we put the very best forward in our service while seeking to give Him our all.  Does it trump our natural wants or needs?  Yes it does.  Does it trump how we feel?  Yes it does.  Does it give a pass for bad seasons?  No it does not.  David knew that His help and strength came from the Lord, and for that, David was willing to press into God's house in worship no matter what life’s circumstances threw at him.  One final thought about worship is that if someone is having a rough go of it like David was, God’s house is the best place one could be.  As the old hymn-writer said, "There, there on eagles wings we soar, and sin and guilt seem there no more.  And heaven comes down our souls to greet.  And glory crowns the mercyseat."

In Hope,

Bro Philip