I’ve been studying the Old Testament for a while now. I am making my way through slowly. As I am progressing chronologically, something is happening. I am learning more and more the point of WHY I am drawn to His Word; because I am getting to know Him. As I am reading and studying a shift is happening. There is less “oh wow, that is similar to my situation”, or “I see how I can apply that to my life” and there is now more of this– “Wow, that is MY God. Praise YOU, what a ______God I serve!” There are so many attributes and characteristics of God we can fill in the blank with. THAT is what I can apply to my life. THAT is what cultivates a trust and a faith which produces joy and peace. I can see my sin in David’s choices, yes. I can see my sin in the Israelite’s continued idolatry, yes. But I can see Christ’s redemption of my sin and I can see God’s plan of forgiveness of my sin through this study of the Old Testament that points only to a loving and merciful God.
Several sets of verses in 2 Samuel have really struck me this week and sunk into me and shown me who He is. The first one is this-
“and after that God was moved by prayer for the land.” 2 Samuel 21:14b
and again in the last verse of 2 Samuel “David built there an altar to the LORD and offered burnt offerings and peace offerings. Thus the LORD was moved by prayer for the land, and the plague was held back from Israel.” 2 Samuel 24:25.
God is moved by our prayers. Read that slowly. We know this. We know we are called to pray without ceasing (1 Thessalonians 5:17). But do we know to the point of urgency? I was overwhelmed by this fact because I read it on the same day that I kept getting messages and emails from people about their loved ones who are lost, unbelievers turning their back to God. It is more than I can bear at times, thinking of those I love who aren’t saved (in my own home, my husband doesn’t believe in God) and then now having a growing list from friends who have family members they want prayer for that are lost. There is a whole world of people we don’t even know who aren’t saved. This should move us to tears. It is more than we can bear, but it is not too much for Christ to bear. This should move us to our knees, on our face, crying out to God for these souls. In all of this though we can be comforted. Even if we don’t understand how it all works and even if we don’t know the answer to our prayers. We can be comforted because we know who we are praying to! We can be comforted because God is moved by prayer for the land. That is my God. I trust.
In Chapter 24 we come to the census and the second set of verses I learned from. David commands Joab to take a census.
“…Go, number Israel and Judah.” The king said to Joab the commander of the army who was with him, “Go about now through all the tribes of Israel, from Dan to Beersheba, and register the people, that I may know the number of the people.” 2 Samuel 24:1-2 NASB.
Once David got his magic number, he was convicted of what he had done. A census isn’t sin, but his motive was. His sin of pride and disbelief. Assurance that his mighty army was there in case he needed them, assurance of the great empire he had amassed, assured that he was secure and had an army to rely on. He was relying on “man” power, not God. Quickly though, you can see David realized his error and repented.
“Now David’s heart troubled him after he had numbered the people. So David said to the LORD, “I have sinned greatly in what I have done. But now, O LORD, please take away the iniquity of Your servant, for I have acted very foolishly.”” 2 Samuel 24:10 NASB.
I can learn from this in many ways. What do I “count” in my life to help me feel secure. For some it is money, for some it is knowledge, for others it can be how many friends they have, how well your kids are doing, etc…Or I can see this scenario and praise God that He can quickly bring us to repentance as He did David when we are walking closely with Him. The stronger my relationship is, the greater my humility before the Lord, the quicker and more abundantly I see my sin and can repent from it. That is God’s mercy! Yet, that still isn’t my favorite part of this census lesson. My favorite part is that when given a choice by God, of the consequence David would suffer for His census sin, David chose the one that would come directly from the hand of the Lord, not man.
“Then David said to Gad, “I am in great distress. Let us now fall into the hand of the LORD for His mercies are great, but do not let me fall into the hand of man.” 2 Samuel 24:14 NASB.
WHY did David choose that?? Because he knew His God. He knew his God was more merciful than man. So I can know that I can go to Him with anything, repent, and I am already forgiven, my sin removed as far as the east is from the west (Psalm 103:12). He lavishes me with mercy, even in my consequences. THAT is my God. I trust.
I’ve heard and listened to teaching about studying God’s Word more comprehensively and less like a “seek and find” book. It is so true. I know this concept and the more I do it and practice it the more I can get it from my head to my heart. The Old Testament, especially to a new believer, can seem overwhelming, daunting, not applicable, confusing, but oh friends, it doesn’t have to be!! “All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; so that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work.” 2 Timothy 3:16-17 NASB. ALL scripture. Not just red letters, not just New Testament, ALL scripture. If you ask God to open your eyes and your heart to His Word, He will. Believe me He will. The only way I have any desire to commit to reading His Word, understanding it, getting to know Him through it, is because I begged Him to show me. I still have to do that. It is not a chore, it is not a checklist, it doesn’t make your salvation more secure, it shouldn’t produce guilt or pride. It is about getting to know the God who sacrificed everything for you.
Please Lord, help me thirst for You!
He WILL answer you and He will continue to show you and you will see new things everyday. Whether you have been reading the Bible for 40 years or 4 days, He will show you and grow you as you see Him more and more. I am fairly new to studying His Word, and I am so excited for the next day I have, God willing, to do it again. Get in there, just start. Go slowly, not just searching for how it can be applied to you or a specific situation (which there are times it can!) but read it to get to know your God. THAT will change you, THAT can be applied everyday, THAT can assure you when times are hard, THAT can help you persevere. Let Him overwhelm you with the truths of who He is. Let Him draw you in to the amazing relationship He wants with you as you take one more step towards Him. As you get to know your God you will see His love, His plan, His Son, His sacrifice, His redemption, and His glory!