Posts Tagged ‘David’

“When the foundations are being destroyed, what can the righteous do?” Psalm 11:3

In case you haven’t noticed, our world has dramatically changed. It wasn’t long ago that it would have been unthinkable that nearly 40 million unborn children would be murdered in America. There was a time when kids could pray in public schools. Nativity scenes dotted the lawns of county courthouses and municipal parks—without protest. Marriage was strictly a guy-girl arrangement. And you could even pray in Jesus’ name at graduation ceremonies.

I’m not interested in being like the grump who said, “In my life I’ve seen a lot things change and quite frankly I’ve been against them all!” But if you are talking about changing the face of America to the point where God is out and everything else is in, then I have a problem with that kind of change. My problem is wondering how to handle my heart and attitudes. Wondering how to live and respond in a world where the foundations of righteousness are being eroded on nearly every front.

How do we, as followers of Jesus, process right and wrong in a world that tells us there are no absolutes? How do we proclaim that Jesus alone is what people really need—that He is the “way and the truth” (John 14:6)—when most people no longer believe that there is such a thing as true truth?

You don’t have to be an industrial-strength theologian to realize that the current thought patterns of most Americans fly in the face of what we hold to be true. If there are no absolutes, you can forget about the Ten Commandments. If nothing is ever right or wrong, there is no sin and no need for a Savior. It’s easy to see that believing in what God tells us about righteousness, truth, and godly living leaves us marginalized and outdated. So our hearts cry out with David: “When the foundations are being destroyed, what can the righteous do?” (Psalm 11:3).

Let’s start with knowing what not to do. Notice that David didn’t wring his hands in despair. He didn’t “flee like a bird to [the] mountain” (Psalm 11:1). Instead, he decided to take refuge in the Unchanging One. His confidence was bolstered by the fact that God was on His holy throne and that His eyes were well aware of what was going on. Reminded of the ultimate judgment that God would pour out on wickedness, David knew that, in the face of unsettling change, staying on course with God is indeed the best and safest alternative. Looking at all the change from God’s point of view, he realized that though the change seemed overwhelming, God is still very much in charge and ultimately victorious.

Why would any of us want to go soft on God and His truth in order to feel more “with it,” when we know that the “with it” party train is headed for a disastrous train wreck? So, let’s quit all the hand wringing and feeling sorry for ourselves. Let’s cheer up, knowing that the things that can’t change—such as God’s righteous eternal reign—are still in place!

You can go with the change if you choose. I’m going with my changeless God!


  • Has the changing philosophies of our world changed your approach to life, sin, and righteousness in any way? Be specific.
  • What are some things that God loves and some things He hates? Do you love what He loves and hate what He hates?
  • Are you willing to take a few hits for God because you stand with Him and His truth? To what extent? In what ways was Jesus unwavering in His willingness to take a hit for you in this ungodly world?
  • Have you expected this changing, increasingly godless world to be a friend of Jesus? Read what Jesus had to say to us in John 16:33, and rejoice!

May the words of my mouth      and the meditation of my heart be pleasing to you,      O LORD, my rock and my redeemer.

Growing up, one of my heroes was a Presbyterian pastor named Ben Patterson. He was the speaker at many of the Christian conferences I attended as a teenager, and I was gripped by his theological insight and poetic skill. When I began work as a young pastor, I listened to dozens of Ben’s tapes, seeking to learn from him how to be an effective communicator of the Gospel.

One of the traditions I picked up from Ben was to pray, right before I preached, a version of Psalm 19:14. As I recall, he would pray something like this: “Let the words of my mouth and the meditations of our hearts together be acceptable in your sight, O Lord, our rock and our redeemer.” I didn’t always use this prayer in the pulpit, but I often did because it expressed the yearning of my heart as a preacher: that my words would honor the Lord, as would the thoughts of the whole congregation. Using this prayer reminded me that my effectiveness as a preacher did not depend on me, on my insight or skill, but upon the Lord, who was “my rock and my redeemer.”

I still think Psalm 19:14 is a fine prayer for the pulpit. And I still use it at times when I am a guest preacher. But I have come to realize that this prayer belongs not just in the pulpit, but also in the world. For one thing, the identified poet of Psalm 19, David, was not a priest or a prophet. He didn’t do “religious work” in the usual sense. Rather, he was a shepherd, a warrior, a musician, a poet, and most famously, a king. David did, if you’ll pardon the expression, secular work. Nevertheless, he sought to please the Lord with his words and thoughts, not just in his private prayers, but in every sector of life.

You and I are privileged to live for God‘s glory in all that we do, in every word, every thought, and every deed. This means we ought to borrow David’s prayer in Psalm 19:14, not just if we happen to be preaching a sermon, but all the time.

How would your life be different if you began praying Psalm 19:14 in the day-to-day situations of your life? What difference might it make if, before you participated in a meeting at work, you prayed, “May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be pleasing to you, O LORD, my rock and my redeemer”? How might praying this way transform your language and actions on the athletic field, when you’re out on the town with your friends, when you’re writing a letter to a client, or when you’re negotiating a contract? How might it affect the way you speak to your spouse, your children, your roommate, or your colleagues?

QUESTIONS FOR FURTHER REFLECTION: Use whichever questions in the previous paragraph fit your life to consider how Psalm 19:14 might change your life. Feel free to add other questions that make sense for you. How might your life be enriched if you were to pray often: “May the words of my mouth…”?

PRAYER: O Lord, my rock and my redeemer, may the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be pleasing to you:      at work and at home,      at church and at play,      with friends and family,      in meetings and in solitude,      in every situation, all the time. To you be all the glory. Amen.

Smoke poured from his nostrils;      fierce flames leaped from his mouth.      Glowing coals blazed forth from him.

Psalm 18 celebrates God’s deliverance of David from danger and distress. “The ropes of death entangled me,” he writes, “floods of destruction swept over me” (18:4). Yet, as David cried out to the Lord, God heard him and came to deliver him.

The prose version of what happened next would read unimaginatively: The Lord rescued David from his enemies and kept him safe. But the Psalms are poetry, not prose. Psalm 18 delivers, not just the facts, but rather a vivid picture of God’s coming in awesome power to deliver David. This portrayal utilizes a variety of stirring images, including a mighty earthquake and a spectacular thunderstorm (18:7, 11-14). In verse 8, God is pictured as a sort of dragon: “Smoke poured from his nostrils; fierce flames leaped from his mouth. Glowing coals blazed forth from him.”

Now that’s enough to get the attention of a ten-year-old boy! But what does it tell us about God? And how can we relate to a God with smoking nostrils? The images of Psalm 18 aren’t meant to convey literal truth about God’s nature. Rather, they are poetic, culturally embedded, and theologically powerful representations of God’s strength and judgment. In particular, they point to the mighty acts of God in Exodus, when he parted the waters of the Red Sea (Exod. 14:15-31) and visited the Israelites on Mt. Sinai with thunder, lightning, smoke, and an earthquake (see Exod. 19:16-20).

The good news of Psalm 18 is not only that God is mighty, but also that he is mighty for us. When we cry out to him, he comes to save us. Of course, one of the greatest ironies of God’s salvation is that it is ultimately centered in the apparent weakness and defeat of the cross. Yet, through the cross, God took upon himself the fire of his righteous judgment. In the death of Christ, God bore our punishment for sin, thus defeating the power of sin and even death itself. Psalm 18 invites us to celebrate God’s salvation in Jesus Christ: “I called on the LORD, who is worthy of praise, and he saved me from my enemies” (18:3).

QUESTIONS FOR FURTHER REFLECTION: Why do you think God inspired the psalmist to depict his nature in such bold and shocking images? What images might you choose today to convey the saving power of God? Have you ever experienced a situation like that of David in Psalm 18? How did God rescue you?

PRAYER: Thank you, Almighty God, for the poetic images of Psalm 18.

You are indeed my rock, my fortress, my savior, my shield. You protect me in ways I can see and in ways I’ll never know. In you, I am safe for eternity.

You are a God of power, whose presence is like smoke and fire. Your word thunders. Your judgment strikes like lightning.

You are the one who reached down and rescued me from the deep waters of sin. You have delivered me again and again from the pits into which I have fallen.

O God, you are faithful, with complete integrity. You are pure in your grace and your judgment. You light my way. Indeed, you are perfect.

All praise be to you, God of power, God of mercy! Amen.

When Solomon died, Rehoboam his son ruled after him. As soon as Jeroboam, who was still in Egypt, heard that Solomon had died, he returned at once to his home town, Zeredah in Mount Ephraim.

Rehoboam went to Shechem, for all the Israelites had come to Shechem to make him ruler. But they said to Rehoboam, “Your father laid a heavy yoke upon us. Now make the hard service of your father and the heavy yoke that he laid upon us lighter, and we will serve you.” He said to them, “Go away for three days; then come again to me.” So the people went away.

Then Rehoboam asked advice from the old men who had been in the service of Solomon his father during his lifetime and inquired, “What answer do you advise me to give this people?” They said to him, “If now you will serve this people and give them a favorable answer, then they will be your servants forever.”

But he rejected the advice which the old men had given him and asked the young men who had grown up with him and had been in his service. And he said to them, “What answer do you advise that we give to this people who have said to me, ‘Make the yoke that your father laid upon us lighter’?” The young men who had grown up with him said to him, “Make this answer to them: ‘My little finger is thicker than my father’s loins! While my father loaded you with a heavy yoke, I will make your yoke heavier; my father punished you with whips, but I will punish you with scourges.'”

So when all the people came to Rehoboam the third day, as he had directed, he answered the people harshly and did not follow the advice which the old men had given him, but spoke to them as the young men had advised, saying, “My father made your yoke heavy, but I will make your yoke still heavier; my father punished you with whips, but I will punish you with scourges.” So Rehoboam paid no attention to the demand of the people.

When all Israel saw that he paid no attention to their demand they gave him this answer: “What interest have we in David? We have nothing in common with the son of Jesse! To your tents, O Israel! Now look out for your house, O David!”

So the Israelites went to their homes.

Then Rehoboam sent to them Adoniram, who was over the men who did forced labor. But when all the Israelites stoned him to death, Rehoboam quickly mounted his chariot and fled to Jerusalem. So Israel has refused to obey the house of David to the present day.

As soon as all Israel heard that Jeroboam had returned, they sent and called him to the assembly of the people and made him ruler over all Israel. None remained loyal to the house of David except the tribe of Judah.

Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me. Restore to me the joy of your salvation and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me.

Moral chaos breeds chaos.  David’s immoral behavior would bring calamity on his household.  David’s forceful taking of Uriah’s wife made it more likely that women in the palace would be vulnerable to another man’s violation.  Weakened from within, David was not able to protect those dearest to him.   What happened in the palace would be mainstreamed “in broad daylight for all Israel.”

Violence begets violence.  Despising God brings God’s judgment upon oneself.  How could David have fooled himself into believing he could “take” Uriah’s wife as his own!

Thus confronted, David repented.  Remorsefully he confessed,  “I have sinned against the Lord” (2 Sam. 12:13).  God accepted David’s sorrowful lament.  Nathan replied, “The Lord has taken away your sin.  You are not going to die” (2 Sam. 12:13).  David’s life could have been “taken” from him, even as he had taken Uriah’s.  David could have lost the right to rule as king, even as did Saul, whom David was anointed to replace.  David and Bathsheba would also endure the additional grief of their firstborn child’s death.

God doesn’t want us to visit the dark side. When we go there, he doesn’t want us to stay there.  Recovery through repentance from sin is the way out.  This good news applies to all sins; adultery is not excluded. Broken trust can be restored.  An afflicted husband and wife may have to work hard for years to get through the pain, but by God’s grace it is possible “to love and to cherish…for better or for worse” and go forward.

David wrote Psalm 51 in remorse for what he had done.  With guilt and shame, he owned up to his sins before God.  Re-establishing trust is built on remorse, repentance, and renewal.  Remorse stops us in our tracks.  Repentance turns us from going in a sinful direction to living godwardShuv, the Hebrew word for repentance means literally “to turn around and go in the opposite direction.”   Renewal is the result of our misdirected life being redirected.

Our life is determined by the choices we make at home, at work, and in our community.   Believers are sinners saved by God’s grace.  The work I do as pastor includes helping people who are caught in sin by showing them that there is a better way to live, and to begin living that way.  When Nathan said, “David, you are the man who has done this!”  He showed David  the consequences of his sins. But God’s amazing grace saved the shepherd king.

QUESTIONS FOR FURTHER REFLECTION: Have you become enslaved to habitual sin? Can you see God’s escape route? Are you feeling salvation’s joy at home, at work, and in your community? Are you enjoying life by dancing to the rhythm of God’s grace?

PRAYER: Lord, I get Your message.  The purer my heart, the more I can see of you.  By being with you in prayer, I trust that you will burn away the impurities in my  heart. Have your way with me so that I will live in your ways. David’s prayer becomes my prayer, “Restore to me the joy of your salvation, and renew a right spirit within me.” Amen.

A Note from Mark Roberts: This week’s reflections have been written by my friend and fellow pastor, Dr. Leslie Hollon, Senior Pastor of Trinity Baptist Church in San Antonio, Texas. Leslie (known also by the nickname Les) is a noted preacher, pastor, professor, and author. He is a gifted biblical teacher who connects the deep truths of Scripture to the realities of daily life. Every time I hear Leslie preach, I am encouraged to consider in new ways how the Word of God speaks to me. I know you will find Leslie’s reflections on temptation to be challenging and encouraging.

“How sweet are your words to my taste, sweeter than honey to my mouth!” Psalm 119:103

I wonder how many of us got tired of hearing our moms tell us, “Eat this, it’s good for you!” And you can bet that if it required a lot of coaxing, it wasn’t the most appetizing dish on the table!

Thankfully, there are a few items on the good-for-you menu that go down a little easier than eggplant or brussels sprouts. Like honey, for example. Who doesn’t love a glob of honey slathered thickly on buttered toast? And not only does it taste good, but scientific studies show that honey has great medicinal value. For one thing, it helps reduce cholesterol. It’s loaded with antioxidants that help fight cancer. And a bit of honey and lemon mixed with hot water has a sure soothing effect on a sore throat. In food world, there’s nothing else quite like honey. No wonder the psalmist David used it to describe God’s Word when he exclaimed, “How sweet are your words to my taste, sweeter than honey to my mouth!” (Psalm 119:103).

If we’re honest, our attitude doesn’t usually match up to David’s. Can we really say that God’s Word is “sweet” or, for that matter, “sweeter than honey”? Usually it’s more like, “Oh, I guess it’s good for me, so I have to read it.” When we engage the Bible with that attitude, it’s no wonder that it seems like a bland, flavorless experience.

So let’s start reading the Word expecting to have a meaningful, personal encounter with God. For me, it cannot be just an exercise in reading through the Bible in a year or making sure I read a chapter a day, or any other system that allows me to put a tic mark on my spiritual checklist next to the “Bible reading” obligation. Each encounter with Scripture has to be a search for something that is relevant to my life. I need to read until I hear Him speak in a way that reaches to the core of me. If it comes quickly, I may not need to read further. But if it takes more time than I had planned, I need to keep reading until my soul, heart, and mind have been revitalized.

When I read about the fact that God is sovereign and fully in control of everything that is happening in my life (Jeremiah 10:23) and ultimately manages the whole universe (Colossians 1:16-17), how sweet is that? When I read that He will never leave me or forsake me (Hebrews 13:5), and that He works everything to a good conclusion (Romans 8:28), it settles my spirit with a sweet taste. When I read that this world is not my home (1 Peter 2:11) and that my home is heaven, a place where God will wipe away every tear (John 14:3; Revelation 21:4), there could be nothing sweeter!

The more we read the words and promises that fill our hungry hearts and provide healing antidotes to our wounded souls, the more we will understand the psalmist’s enthusiasm for God’s Word. I’m telling you right now, when your life goes south, when you are confused and don’t know what to do, your next best meal is not going to help you at all. But the words of God will be just what you need. So, go ahead—eat it—not only is it good for you, it’s sweet!

Whatever your approach, reading the Bible should be a dynamic experience that is alive with flavor and excitement. As you continue to connect with God through His Word, relish every morsel. After all, His words are sweeter than honey!


  • Do you agree with the psalmist that God’s Word is “sweeter than honey to my mouth”? Why, or why not?
  • If it has been a while since you’ve tasted the sweetness of God’s Word, perhaps it’s time to change your approach to Scripture. If so, try one of these suggestions: (1) Read a few psalms each day along with one chapter in Proverbs; (2) search through the Bible to learn all you can about a topic such as love or money; (3) read through a short New Testament book in one sitting; (4) choose one passage and memorize it.

Then Nathan said to David, “You are the man!  This is what the Lord, the God of Israel, says: ‘I anointed you king over Israel, and I delivered you from the hand of Saul.'”

When news of Uriah’s death reached David, he deceived himself into thinking he was beyond the reach of God’s judgment and the people’s disgust.  So he took Bathsheba as his wife.  He acted as if everything was okay when it was not.

Chapter 12 opens with God taking the initiative to correct the situation.  He sent Nathan to confront King David. Nathan had helped David before, but this time his assignment would be more challenging.

The harsh reality is that sin damns us if we do not trust God’s grace for forgiveness.  As the Apostle Paul wrote,  “All have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God…the wages of sin is death but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Rom. 3:23; 6:23).  To realize his guilt, David had to be confronted by Nathan.  Nathan’s access to the king did not protect him from the king’s vengeful wrath.  David could have had Nathan killed.

Nathan used a parable so the king would let down his defenses.  As Nathan told the story of a rich man who had “taken a poor man’s beloved lamb” and used the lamb as banquet food for a traveler, “David burned with anger.”  David condemned the man who was rich in money but impoverished in mercy. David concluded the rich man deserved to die but mercifully David would reduce the punishment so the offender would pay for the ewe lamb four times over. (Zacchaeus applied this restitution principle in Luke 19:8).  Once the king gave judgment, Nathan took the opening to deliver his punch line, “You are the man” (2 Sam. 12:7).  The parable began as a window through which David clearly saw injustice; then the parable became a mirror by which David starkly saw himself as the sinful man.   David, the shepherd king, had become a ravenous predator, and only God’s mercy could save him.

God knows our life story, and he knows that in order for us to be people who overcome, people who move from tragedy to triumph, we must be people who can also recover from sin.  Therefore, God connects us with a love that on his part will not let go.  In Hebrew this love is called “hessed.”  In the New Testament it is called “grace.”  This love is built inside our souls and tethers us.  This love motivates our conscience after we have sinned to feel remorse, to repent, and to be renewed.

QUESTIONS FOR FURTHER REFLECTION: Is God trying to correct areas of your life? Is someone trying to give you a message on God’s behalf? Are you repenting so you can be renewed?

PRAYER:  Lord, this is a conversation I have not wanted to have with you.  I have been afraid to tell you the wrongs that I have done.  Because if I did, I knew that I would need to change.  I know that you know this, but saying it to you brings it out into the open.  Forgive me.  I am sorry.  Thanks for lifting this burden from my soul.  Through your grace, I will live differently and try to make things right with others. Amen.

A Note from Mark Roberts: This week’s reflections have been written by my friend and fellow pastor, Dr. Leslie Hollon, Senior Pastor of Trinity Baptist Church in San Antonio, Texas. Leslie (known also by the nickname Les) is a noted preacher, pastor, professor, and author. He is a gifted biblical teacher who connects the deep truths of Scripture to the realities of daily life. Every time I hear Leslie preach, I am encouraged to consider in new ways how the Word of God speaks to me. I know you will find Leslie’s reflections on temptation to be challenging and encouraging.