Category Archives: Sanctification/holiness

2 Samuel 8-9 (2 Chapters)

Victory, kindness and the king

Discussion Question

What does kindness mean to you? Can you tell a story about kindness?

Background (Context)

When David, King of all Israel, proposed to make a fine Temple for God, the prophet Nathan spoke God’s reply to David. God said that it has been and never will be the duty of any person to make God’s name great. It is God who builds David’s house and not the other way around. God promised David that there would be a king on the throne forever who will be known as God’s son. The Davidic covenant outlined in Chapter 7 is fulfilled, not by Solomon, but in Jesus – our Forever King!

So, David has peace in his palace with no further command from the LORD to build His Temple. Mephibosheth appears in Chapter 9 but we met him briefly in Chapter 4 Verse 4. He is the son of Jonathan, the son of Saul. David and Jonathan dearly loved each other despite the hatred from Saul’s household to David. When Saul and Jonathon were killed in battle, Mephibosheth, a 5 year old at the time, was carried off in haste, dropped and his legs permanently crippled.

Read 2 Samuel 8-9

Two chapters are included in this study. Brief notes will be offered for Chapter 8 and more information provided for Chapter 9.

What did you see? (Observation)

Structure

  • The LORD gave David victory wherever he went (8:1-14)
    • Defeating enemies (1-6)
    • Great gains (7-14
  • The King’s Justice and Righteousness (8:15-9:13)
    • Beginning: The King’s Officials (8:15-18)
    • The Problem: The pursuit of kindness for Jonothan (9:1)
    • The Quest: Finding Mephibosheth (2-5)
    • The Resolution: Kindness assured (6-11)
    • The End: Kindness enjoyed (12-13)

The LORD gave David victory (1-14)

Defeating enemies (1-6)

“In the course of time…” This phrase need not mean, “after Chapter 7” but rather that what happened in Chapter 8 is a summary of the victories of David over the course of time.

“…Metheg Ammah…” I will not spend time naming and defining the place names in this section as I wish to focus on Chapter 9. We see, however, a description of David’s success in every direction.

“So the Moabites became subject to David and brought him tribute.” The method of this subjection sounds brutal and I will not try and smooth it out. See Judges 11:17 and Numbers 22-24 and Joshua 24:9 for a history of how the Moabites had expressed hostility to the Israelites. Also the prophecy against Moab in Numbers 24:17. “Rather than mounting our moral high horse and condemning David’s action, we should recognize that the righteousness and justice of God’s kingdom includes his judgment on all rebellion against him.” (John Woodhouse, 2 Samual “Preaching the Word” commentary, 2015). The outcome of David’s harsh act is that the Moabites who had persistently rejected God and His people were receiving judgement while a third received mercy and were left to submit. The tribute is an offering. It seems similar to the promise that one day every knee shall bow (Philippians 2:10).

“The LORD gave David victory wherever he went.” The kingdom of David is not built on the strength of men but on the promises of God. It was David’s hands and army that did the conquering but it was Yahweh (LORD) who gave him victory. The LORD was saving David from defeat. We can thank God that, in Christ, the victory is ours and it is no longer measured by peace and victory in a promised land but by the defeat over sin and death. Our greatest enemy has been defeated and thank God that in Christ we are given the victory.

55 “Where, O death, is your victory?

Where, O death, is your sting?”

56 The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. 57 But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.

58 Therefore, my dear brothers and sisters, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain. 1 Corinthians 15:55-58

 

Great gains (7-14)

“David took the gold shields that belonged to…” In victory, David took plunder.

…brought with him articles of silver, of gold and of bronze.” In reverent fear of David, some greeted him with gifts. The joy of the nations who loved that David is king. We see an example here of the nations coming to Israel, seeing it as a blessing to the world.

“King David dedicated these articles to the LORD…” This plunder was not placed in the king’s bank account but offered to the LORD. Perhaps later to be used for the house of the LORD when Solomon would build it.

“And David became famous…” 2 Samuel 7 contained the promise (Verse 9) that David’s name would be great. This echoed the promise to Abraham in Genesis 12:2.

“The LORD gave David victory wherever he went.” This repeated phrase that we saw in Verse 6 highlights the subject of this chapter. It was not the barbaric behaviour of an ancient man that is being praised which makes his name great (like Alexander or Ghengis Khan) but it is the salvation through the LORD that makes this king great. We look forward to a day when the name of the LORD will be praised because of his great mercy and humility. Philippians 2:9 speaks of Jesus being the name that is above every name.

The King’s Justice and Righteousness (8:15-9:13)

We now turn to a detailed story of David reaching out to show, not only kindness, but justice and righteousness to a son of Jonathon because David had promised to protect the house of Jonathon (1 Samuel 20:14-17). While Chapter 8 was a montage of events showing the king’s favour from God, Chapter 9 shows us an image of the king’s righteousness showing favour on another.

Beginning: The King’s Officials (8:15-18)

“David reigned over all Israel, doing what was just and right for all his people.” Our story begins with this summary statement of David reigning and acting justly and rightly. The ‘just and right’ statement gives us a clue for what might follow. What did that look like, especially in the light of all that was written about him in Chapter 8! How was this king of Israel anything different to a bully in the Middle East?

“Joab…Jehoshaphat…Zadok…Ahimelek…Seraiah…Benaiah…” Verses 16-18 lists the key officials in David’s reign. These were the top ranking men. His kingdom was ordered and managed. Two things worth noting: Firstly Benaiah seems to be a mighty man put in charge of some loyal mighty men – perhaps bodyguards. See 2 Sam 15:18; 20:7; 1 Kings 1:38, 44). Secondly…

“…and David’s sons were priests.” It is hard to say whether this was a good thing or not. The priests were already listed in Verse 17. Reading that David’s sons were priests tells us firstly that David’s sons were active and ready for the house of David to be built and grow by the Sovereign Hand of God. But it also makes us readers a little nervous because when the duty of king and priest is blurred, such as Saul making the sacrifice because he could not wait any longer for Samuel, it can be a sign of arrogance. But we have also read of David making sacrifices when the Ark was being carried to Jerusalem. Of course, Jesus Christ is our King and Great High Priest in One. Worth pondering whether Verse 18 ends positively or with a hint of something else. We must remember the words on Verse 15 which describe David as acting righteously and justly.

The story begins next in the context of David reigning and doing what is right and just…

The Problem: The pursuit of kindness for Jonothan (9:1)

“…anyone still left of the house of Saul…” God had left the ‘house of Saul’ and the ‘house of David’ is where we know the promise of peace and rule will come forever. But David has always maintained a respect for the house of Saul as once the house that God had chosen.

“…to whom I can show kindness for Jonathan’s sake?” The friendship between David and Saul’s son, Jonathan, was unique. They loved each other like they loved themselves. They were kindred spirits who both worshiped Yahweh and knew that a kingdom can only be built with Yahweh in the lead. 1 Samuel 20 (esp. Verse 14-15) describes the pact between Jonathan and David. Prince, though he was, Jonathan surrendered his future crown to David. David pledged to keep the family of Jonathan safe.

The problem is posed as a question. Who is left of the house of Saul to honour Jonathan with? David intends to keep his word to his old friend who was killed in battle alongside his father, Saul.

The Quest: Finding Mephibosheth (2-5)

“They summoned [a servant of Saul’s household] to appear before David…” Ziba was Saul’s steward (see Verse 9). Even a servant of Saul’s household might be scared to be summoned before the rival king. The place to start investigating David’s question is with someone who had served the house of Saul.

“…is there no one still alive…to whom I can show God’s kindness?” David did not mention Jonathan but the whole household of Saul. This was the scope of David’s search and not limited to Jonathan exactly. Notice, though, that David intends to show the kindness of God. The kindness Jonathan had asked for (1 Samuel 20:14-15) was unfailing kindness (unending love) extended to his family and David has taken that as the house of Saul. The kindness that David wishes to extend is either like God’s in kind or it is more that God’s kindness will be shown and given through the hand of David the king. Either way it is a kindness that is characteristic of the kingdom of God. One that is on the basis of promise rather than on merit. It will be called grace.

“…a son of Jonathan; he is lame in both feet.” Ziba introduces Jonathan into the conversation. His son is lame. He is not the sort of person that the king would love to adopt into his kingdom. He will not be like one of the notable men of 8:15-18. He will be unable to function as a soldier or a priest. David is given a name to show kindness to and it is a name that will not be a profitable investment to the kingdom of David. We will see in Verse 6 that this son is named Mephibosheth and he became crippled at the age of 5 when he was carried from his house and dropped – at the time that Jonathan died in battle (2 Samuel 4:4).

“…David had him brought from Lo Debar, from the house of Makir son of Ammiel.” The details of where he lived are repeated in Verses 4 and 5. 2 Samuel 17:27-29 help us to understand Lo Debar to be on the east side of the Jordan River, near Mahanaim where Saul’s house was based after Saul’s death (see chapter 3). Makir was perhaps a loyal servant of Saul and willing and able to look after a crippled child. Later, in Chapter 17, he will be loyal to David also when the kingdom is threatened by Absolom.

The King’s Quest to find kindness on the house of Saul has led him to a young man who needs protection. An innocent victim of violence and misfortune is about to come face to face with God’s King to receive a great kindness that he can never repay and is never asked to do so.

The Resolution: Kindness assured (6-11)

“When Mephibosheth son of Jonathan, the son of Saul, came to David, he bowed down to pay him honour.” If Ziba had been worried to stand before the king, how much more Mephibosheth. He may have heard the stories of the two rival houses and how Saul had mistreated David. Being only 5 when Jonathan died, he may not have heard about the generosity of the king. But I ponder too much. He is at the king’s mercy.

‘“Don’t be afraid,” Davide said to him, “for I will surely show you kindness for the sake of your father Jonathan.” The gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ comes to us for the sake of Christ and not us. No people on the face of the earth have come to God with a privilege to be blessed. Rather, we come with the curse of sin upon us. But for the sake of Christ, we are brought into the presence of the Almighty with confidence. He no longer seeks revenge on us because His Son has taken all the wrath that we deserve. Grace comes to us by the promises made in the past and not by any gains or successes of our present. We, like Mephibosheth, come to God crippled and broken. Our King says to us, “Don’t be afraid, for I will surely show you kindness for the sake of Christ who redeemed you.”

“…all the land…and you will always eat at my table.” This gift comes in two magnificent stages. The first is about a future because, even after the King is dead, the land will belong to a descendant of Saul. But secondly, this man need never work the land for his own feed. He is being welcomed into the kingdom of David with full access to the king and the riches of his table. A half-measured kindness may have given Mephibosheth a block of land and a servant outside of David’s sight. But the kindness of this kingdom is all-inclusive and generous.

“…What is your servant, that you should notice a dead dog like me?” The writer of this story points us to the right conclusion here. David is showing a generosity that this world does not show by default. David gets nothing out of this deal except to show that his kingdom demonstrates the kindness of God.

“Then the king summoned Ziba…Now Ziba had fifteen sons and twenty servants.” David looked after Ziba also and allowed him to manage the land for Mephibosheth just as he had done perhaps previously as the steward of the king (see also 2 Samuel 16:1.

“So Mephibosheth ate at David’s table like one of the king’s sons.” This man has been adopted by the king with no birthright but equal share in the king’s good fortune.

The End: Kindness enjoyed (12-13)

“Mephibosheth had a young son…the members of Ziba’s household were servants of Mephibosheth…lived in Jerusalem, because he always ate at the king’s table; he was lame in both feet.” The only thing new in this concluding statement to the story is that Mephibosheth was blessed, as promised, in every way. He had a child who is named. The family of Ziba followed with their promise to serve him. He lived very close to the king and ate at his table. We are only reminded that he did never enter David’s infantry to give David anything from his own but that he came to David lame in both feet.

The story of Mephibosheth and Ziba is not over yet but it is done for now. They will reappear in Chapters 16 and 19 on either side of the betrayal of Absolem.

What did we learn? (Meaning)

David’s kingdom is defined as righteous and just, showing favour and mercy on the basis of promise but extending wrath and judgment on those who are against the kingdom. The gospel tells us that we are all enemies of God and yet he sent his son to die for us. The gospel tells us that we are all rebels to God and yet he extends his mercy and unending love – making us co-heirs with Christ. His kingdom is where the poor become rich and the idolaters are excluded.

Now what? (Application)

Topic A: Comparing the blood of Chapter 8 with the love of Chapter 9. The Anglican Prayer Book contains a prayer that is a mash-up of scripture: We are not worthy so much as to eat the crumbs that are under you table. But you are the same God whose nature is always show mercy. It is a prayer of humble access for us to come to the table of the LORD Jesus Christ and so to share in the Lord’s Supper. We do not deserve to be treated so well by our God. But it is his nature to show mercy, not because he must but because it is who he is. It is this merciful and kind nature of God that we need always remember when we are confronted with hostile passages such as Chapter 8. While God is kind and merciful, he is also right and just. Those who continually oppose him ought to fear him. Those who come to him with humility will receive his mercy. It is through the wrath of God poured out on His Son that we are able to come to his kingdom with confidence. It is for the sake of Christ that we are able to receive mercy.

Topic B: God’s Riches At Christ’s Expense. That is often the way that G.R.A.C.E is explained. We receive reward but it is not because we are anything. It is because Christ laid down his life. We may well say that we are ‘dead dogs’ before our God but His promise is to bless us. We may never feel like we deserve to be part of His kingdom. And yet, as Colossians 1:12 says, he has qualified us! Another 1:12 but in John this time (Jn 1:12) says that we can be called the children of God! Why? If we believe and put our trust in Him – the Son of God.

Topic C: Kindness is a fruit of the Spirit. The gift of eternal life is our hope for the future. We may never enjoy a wealthy life this side of eternity (we do not preach a prosperity Gospel) but we have become God’s workmanship. What He is building in us all is a greater grasp of the nature of the kingdom of God. Galatians 5:22-23 list a set of virtues that ought to be grown in people of the Kingdom. 5th in the list is kindness. It is 2nd in the list that describe love in 1 Corinthians 13:4. The work of God in us must include a growing understanding and practice in kindness. With our mouths, be kind. With our actions, our rights, our wealth, be kind. Kindness is an attribute of love.

2 Samuel 7:18-29

The King’s King – or – The Prayer’s Prayer

Discussion Question

What does the bible say about prayer?

Background (Context)

David, God’s chosen King of Israel, has established his palace in Jerusalem and all of the enemies of Israel have been suppressed – Israel is at peace. This gave David a moment to contemplate what was left to do. The Ark of God had been returned to the people but, while David is housed in an impressive palace, the Ark of God is sitting in a tent.

Before David laid out a draft for a Temple, Nathan the prophet received word from the LORD that it is not for David to build a house for God but for God to build David’s house/dynasty. God reminded Nathan that everything to this day has been established by God and David was placed on the throne in the strength of the LORD. David is a part of God’s entire plans for this world. In Verse 17, Nathan brought all of these words to David and told him everything. We read now what David’s response is. What is left for him to do or say? He prays.

Read 2 Samuel 7:18-29

18 Then King David went in and sat before the Lord, and he said:

“Who am I, Sovereign Lord, and what is my family, that you have brought me this far? 19 And as if this were not enough in your sight, Sovereign Lord, you have also spoken about the future of the house of your servant—and this decree, Sovereign Lord, is for a mere human!

20 “What more can David say to you? For you know your servant, Sovereign Lord. 21 For the sake of your word and according to your will, you have done this great thing and made it known to your servant.

22 “How great you are, Sovereign Lord! There is no one like you, and there is no God but you, as we have heard with our own ears. 23 And who is like your people Israel—the one nation on earth that God went out to redeem as a people for himself, and to make a name for himself, and to perform great and awesome wonders by driving out nations and their gods from before your people, whom you redeemed from Egypt? 24 You have established your people Israel as your very own forever, and you, Lord, have become their God.

25 “And now, Lord God, keep forever the promise you have made concerning your servant and his house. Do as you promised, 26 so that your name will be great forever. Then people will say, ‘The Lord Almighty is God over Israel!’ And the house of your servant David will be established in your sight.

27 “Lord Almighty, God of Israel, you have revealed this to your servant, saying, ‘I will build a house for you.’ So your servant has found courage to pray this prayer to you. 28 Sovereign Lord, you are God! Your covenant is trustworthy, and you have promised these good things to your servant. 29 Now be pleased to bless the house of your servant, that it may continue forever in your sight; for you, Sovereign Lord, have spoken, and with your blessing the house of your servant will be blessed forever.”

What did you see? (Observation)

Structure

  • David prays: Who am I? (18-19)
  • And what more can I say? (20-21)
  • Who is like you? (22-24)
  • Now do as you say (25-29)

David prays: Who am I? (18-19)

“Then King David went in and sat before the LORD, and he said…” The beginning of this section is quite significant. David sits before the LORD and he speaks – he is a praying king. And his prayer is in direct response to him hearing the word of God from the mouth of Nathan. This context is very useful and teaches us the beginning of good prayer. Mature and growing prayer is on the basis of a true knowledge of God and His plans. Rather than prayer being a list of concerns and worries to bring before God, it is a response to God having already revealed Himself to us. Even when our prayers are about the worries of this world, we come to God because we know Him to be Sovereign and bigger than our worries. David went in perhaps means that he went into the Tabernacle as he it means to be before the LORD. The story had begun in Verse 1 with David settled in his palace (NIV) or lived in his house (ESV). The word for settled or lived also means sat. So, David was seated in his house but now he goes and sits in the house of God. The former conveys peace and being settled while the latter conveys humility and submission. When he was seated in his palace he spoke his plans to Nathan. Now he enters the house of God and speaks in response to God’s plans for him.

“Who am I, Sovereign LORD, and what is my family, that you have brought me this far?” His words contain humility. It may remind us of the words of Psalm 8 (what is man that you are mindful of them, or human beings that you care for them?) Or of Exodus 3:11 when Moses asks, who am I? God has brought David, a 7th in line shepherd boy, to be the King of Israel and of personal attention from the LORD Almighty. He was a nobody from a nobody family. But God has given him a kingdom. Not a bad question for all of us to ask of God when we pray! Who are we that we should be so blessed by God to receive eternal life!

“And as if this were not enough…” It’s not just that David has been so blessed but God has his sights on the future generations after David. God has promised to bless David’s family for generations (and forever!)

“…and this decree, Sovereign LORD, is for a mere human!” We are not heavenly creatures in the realms of heaven but short lived, mortal men – vapour! But God has given his word that this kingdom will stand forever.

Who am I? As we sit down to pray, we say, “Our Father in heaven Hallowed be Your name, Your kingdom Come…”

And what more can I say? (20-21)

“What more can David say to you?” Sometimes prayer can be like this too! What is there to say? God is God and He will do as He pleases. If He has said this, then He will do it!

“For you know your servant, Sovereign LORD.” The fourth time of seven that David refers to God as Sovereign LORD. He is using the Name (Yahweh) when he says LORD and underscoring the attribute of His ultimate control over all things. The Sovereign is the King who rules. He is David’s King – and King of all kings and gods and people everywhere and all time. The Almighty LORD brings out God’s strength but The Sovereign LORD brings out the power and trustworthiness of His word. Not only is God the Sovereign but David labels himself as the servant.

“For the sake of your word and according to your will…” When God makes promises, it is His own reputation at stake to keep it. He has desired to make David king and for his kingdom to reign forever. It is purely at the pleasure of God that this has happened.

“…you have done this great thing and made it known to your servant.” It’s just as significant that God includes us in His plans as it is that He activates His plans. That is, how great is God that He saves. How amazing of God to tell us how He did it and what He plans to do next which is for our benefit! It’s incredible even that God has spoken to us let alone that He has saved us.

And what more can I say? “Your kingdom come, Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.” David has begun his prayer and it is all a statement of faith that God blessed him and promises to continue and who is David that he can say any more, change God’s mind, repay God or credit himself for any part of the blessings. Prayer is an act of submission to the God who is Sovereign over all things. If David is a mere servant before the Sovereign LORD then how much more of a servant are we?

Who is like you? (22-24)

“How great you are, Sovereign LORD!” David has moved from Who am I? to How great are you!!!

“There is no one like you, and there is no God but you, as we have heard with our own ears.” This is a truly Christian theology – not that monotheism is unique to Christianity but the truth that there is only One true God is certainly a Christian theology. We do not believe in many gods. Neither do we believe that the One true God has revealed Himself in many ways to different people. There is only One God and He has revealed Himself to the human race through the nation of Israel and then through His own Son, Jesus Christ. Our belief in God does not come down to personal opinion but it lies upon the witnesses of the past. David’s belief that the one true God has been kind to David and Israel does not come down to myths and legends but on the history of the nation of Israel itself. Deuteronomy 10:21 – the generation of Moses saw the salvation of God with their own eyes – David’s generation have heard it with their own ears.

“And who is like your people Israel…you have established your people Israel as your very own forever, and you, LORD, have become their God.” Verses 23-24 outline the redemption story of Israel. Exodus is the gospel of the Old Testament. David is able to glorify in the Name of the LORD because He has shown a special kindness in making a people who were nothing to be the very people of God! (Deut 7:6; 10:15; 1 Sam 12:22). What a tremendously wonderful privilege to be called the people of God. Hosea and Romans teach us that it is not the physical children of Abraham that are the true Israel but everyone who is part of the promise of God are the true Israel. The nation of Israel were all blessed to be redeemed from slavery in Egypt to be in their own land and blessed under a king who served the living God. Christians have been redeemed from the penalty of sin and death to be able to call the God of all creation their Father.

How great you are! We must remember this at all times. How often do we get blindsided to want to create our own greatness when all along we have been made great because we belong to the living God! Remember all that God has done.

Now do as you say (25-29)

“And now, LORD God, keep forever the promise you have made…” This is the essence of prayer! Father, you have said, now make it so. We don’t boss God around but we submit to the knowledge of all that he has promised. Has He said that He will never leave you or forsake you? (Deut 31:6 and Hebrews 13:5). We can remember that in our prayers. Has God told us that we have been justified and sanctified? (1 Corinthians 6:11) Or that we are now His holy people (1 Peter 2:9-10) We can thank God in our prayers that we are qualified to speak with Him because of Jesus. We are his humble servants but He has blessed us with everything in Christ. Genesis 4:26 recalls the moment when faithful men and women began to pray to God and they prayed that He would deal with sin as He had promised in Genesis 3:15. When we pray, we call on the LORD to fulfill His promises. The Psalmist often asks, ‘How long O LORD’ because he knows that God will deliver, he just wants to know when! “Do as you promised.”

“…so that your name will be great forever. Then people will say, “The LORD Almighty is God over Israel!”” Of course we want to be saved and blessed because it is good for us! But we have come to learn that what is great for God is great for those who put their trust in Him. If God says He will save His people but then does not do it…or says that David’s throne will stand forever and yet does not do it…what does that say about God and His promises.

We may now ask, but where is David’s throne now! Has God abandoned His promise? Good question. The rest of the Old Testament is concerned with what God will do with His promised blessing when the people of God continue to turn their backs on Him. The nation is taken into exile and return from exile to find a kingdom that is a shadow of what used to be there in David’s day. The Old Testament is concerned with finding the kingdom that was promised to David. The answer is revealed in the New Testament as Jesus is a descendant of David and of Abraham. That the people in Jesus’ day were expecting a king like David is understandable. We find someone far more outstanding as we see Jesus, the King of the whole world.

Notice that David refers to God as The LORD Almighty now as he speaks of what God will do. He returns to Sovereign LORD in Verse 28 when he returns to focus on what God has promised. The LORD who promises is the LORD who does.

“So your servant has found courage to pray this prayer to you.” I want to underscore again the nature of prayer, that we speak to God on the terms that He has spoken to us about. Prayer is faith speaking. God speaks, we listen, and we are then confident to come before God in prayer. This is the nature of grace because it is God who has first approached us. David began the prayer with ‘Who am I?’ He is now confident to pray to the LORD Almighty because God has shown grace in building a house for David. We are nobody. Yet in Christ we are children of God (John 1:12). We are unworthy and yet in Christ we are called saints! (1 Corinthians 1:2; Ephesians 1:18; Colossians 1:2, 12). Who are we to ask God anything? We are his people, called holy and qualified for the kingdom that he has prepared for us in Christ.

The prayer that David prays, on top of his affirmation so far, is found in Verse 29.

“Sovereign LORD, you are God!” True statement. Let’s never forget it. Not only in our theology but in our practice and prayers also.

“Your covenant is trustworthy, and you have promised these good things to your servant.” While God has made a covenant with Israel through Moses, he is establishing a new covenant in David. It does not overtake the previous covenant but enhances it. 2 Samuel 7 contains a Davidic covenant. A promise made to David that his kingdom will not fail. It has the backing of the Sovereign LORD Almighty.

“Now be pleased to bless…and with your blessing the house of your servant will be blessed forever.” Remember that this is not how David begins his relationship with God, it is in response to God’s forward approach to David. Blessing is prayed for because blessing was promised. Your will be done!

What did we learn? (Meaning)

David is a servant of the great LORD Almighty. The LORD is king forever and yet He has chosen to bless the household of a shepherd boy. David demonstrates a good response to the promises of God. He acknowledges his humble submission and zero input to this agreement. And yet the promise from God gives David the courage to speak to God about it. As we’ve seen in the observations, the LORD’s prayer has a similar lesson for us. Our prayers are made because God has spoken to us first and given us the courage to sit at his feet and ask.

Now what? (Application)

Topic A: The privilege of prayer. One thing that helps us overcome the ‘hassle’ of praying is the lesson that it is a privilege that only those in Christ can know. We know God because He first knew us and revealed Himself to us through His Son. If we do not know Jesus then we do not know God in truth. A person can speak to the sky but without the relationship that has been established by God first, it is wishful thinking. Real prayer comes from the people of God who call on the name of the LORD to save and to deliver.

Topic B: Can we pray for a parking space? With the lesson that prayer is about calling on God to do as he has promised, has he ever promised us a parking space? I think not. But he has promised that if we ask for wisdom, we shall get it (James 1:5; 3:13-18). Said wisdom is about how we respond in every situation with the grace that only God can give: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. How many of those are necessary when we feel the urgent need for a parking spot! If we pray, then ask God to grow you through this need for a space. If a space comes up, thank the LORD but consider which is of greater worth, a parking space, or greater patience. The same principle applies for healing, cramming for an exam and safe travel. Our God is not a genie who takes all our requests and hands them out like a town council. He is our Redeemer who promises to finish the work that he began. Best practice is to run through the LORD’s prayer with out needs and come to God in submission and thankfulness.

Topic C: Can I be a Christian if I don’t pray? This passage doesn’t answer this question directly but builds on the principle that God has reached out His hand in salvation to us and we respond with praise and thanksgiving. We don’t respond by earning or repaying anything to God. David demonstrated that he was nobody and stands as a servant waiting on God to do what he has said. So, we must respond to God with praise and thanksgiving. Yes, we do good and love, these are acts that we do. But a life of no-prayer is not a life that has turned to God – responding to His grace. What a gift it is then, when our LORD gave us the Lord’s Prayer! When we do not know what to say to our God we can say that! As our courage grows, we can say more. As our knowledge of God grows, we can speak more.

“Show me a man who does not pray very much and I will tell you the real problem of that man. It is that he does not know God, he does not know God as his Father. That is the trouble. The problem is not that he is not  a moral man, or that he is not a good man. He can be highly moral, he may be very faithful in Christian church work, there may be nothing he is not prepared to do, but if he does not pray, I tell you that the essence of that man’s trouble is that he does not know God as his Father. For those who know God best are the ones who speak to him most of all.” (Martyn Lloyd-Jones)

Likewise, a person who believes God to be Sovereign ought to treat Him as Sovereign.

Luke 22:39-46

The Father’s Will

Discussion Question

Prayer is __________.

OR

Prayer is faith speaking. Discuss.

Background

Previously, Jesus had shared the Passover meal with his disciples. At that table sat Judas who had already consented to betraying Jesus, being tempted by Satan to do so, and Simon Peter whom Jesus declared would be attacked by Satan and will betray Jesus before dawn. The time of pleasant ministry and small verbal attacks are over. It is time for Jesus to be betrayed and it will happen this very night. Despite Jesus’ warnings to the disciples and his teachings to them about the kingdom of God, they have been dull in their understanding.

Read Luke 22:39-46

39 Jesus went out as usual to the Mount of Olives, and his disciples followed him. 40 On reaching the place, he said to them, “Pray that you will not fall into temptation.” 41 He withdrew about a stone’s throw beyond them, knelt down and prayed, 42 “Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done.” 43 An angel from heaven appeared to him and strengthened him. 44 And being in anguish, he prayed more earnestly, and his sweat was like drops of blood falling to the ground.

45 When he rose from prayer and went back to the disciples, he found them asleep, exhausted from sorrow. 46 “Why are you sleeping?” he asked them. “Get up and pray so that you will not fall into temptation.”

What did you see?

Structure

  • The plan to pray (39-40)
  • The crying Son (41-44)
  • The exhausted disciples (45-46)

The Plan to Pray (39-40)

“Jesus went out as usual to the Mount of Olives…” See Luke 21:37. At the end of his day in Jerusalem, Jesus would retire to the same location at the Mount of Olives. This is the hillside he travelled along when he arrived at the city. See John 18:2.

“…and his disciples followed him.” The way this sentence is constructed shows Jesus knowing where he is going next while the disciples are simply following. That is, they are not a band of brothers, like-minded and driven together – but a party with one leader, the one with the plan and the mission and the twelve men who followed behind. The previous episode illustrated how their minds were on a different path to Jesus’.

“On reaching the place…” Matthew 26:36 and Mark 14:32 note that the exact place is Gethsemane.

“Pray that you will not fall into temptation.” He tells them to use this time to pray and gives them the specific direction of praying to stand firm in the midst of temptation (not that temptation will be avoided but that they will not fall on account of it). Jesus had told them at the Lord’s Supper that Satan had asked to sift Simon and the others like wheat (22:31). Jesus told Simon that he was going to betray him that very night. They are instructed to pray to God to ‘deliver them from evil.’ This is the theme of this small passage. Praying to God to protect us and to surrender our wills to the will of the Father.

The Crying Son (41-44)

“He withdrew about a stone’s throw beyond them…” The withdrawing suggests an emotional ‘pulling away’ (see Acts 21:1 which uses the same Greek word for ‘tearing oneself away’). The distance of a stone’s throw adds to the emotion picture of the passage.

“…knelt down and prayed…” Jesus had instructed them to do the same and immediately proceeded to do it himself. If prayer was what was needed then pray is what he did. It’s hard to know what to make of the detail that he knelt rather than stood or even just to note that he prayed without describing his position. Common practice was apparently to stand while praying. I’m not sure about that. Perhaps it is best to stick to the narrative and have our minds picturing the scene of Jesus pulling himself away from his friends to spend time with his Father; to position himself a few metres away; and to kneel down in humility. The Son of God is on his own, in the quiet of the night, knelt down and ready to speak to the Father.

“Father, if you are willing…” The Lord’s prayer contained the your will be done element as well as the deliver us from evil. It is a grand prayer that, when meditated on, provides all the ingredients of a faithful mind and life – aligning our wills with the Father’s will. Jesus called the God whom he prayed to Father. We pick up our language of the Trinity from verses like this. Who did Jesus pray to? God of course! This God whom he prayed to, he called Father. Jesus is also in submission to the Father. He demonstrates through his prayer that the will of the Father is paramount. If the Father is willing… When we pray, we discuss what we desire and ask if the Father is willing to allow or fulfill our request. We also surrender our expectations in order to grow in our understanding of what He wills.

“…take this cup from me…” This is a profound prayer from Jesus! The Father and the Son had a plan for salvation from the beginning and the Son entered the world knowing what this plan was. He had described on a number of occasions to the disciples what the plan was (Luke 18:33; 24:6-7). He knew the Father’s will and yet spoke honestly to the Father about it. Now, what is the cup? The closest imagery to flesh this out is what Jesus demonstrated at the last supper only a few verses earlier. Luke 22:17-20. This cup is the new covenant in my blood, which is poured out for you. Jeremiah 25:15-38 (esp. 15-29) uses the cup filled with wine as an image of God’s wrath that must be drunk. It is His wrath raged against the nations of the world, on all who live on the earth to receive punishment (see also Psalm 75:8; Isaiah 51:17-22; . The two images of the cup of wrath and the poured out blood combine to provide for us a cup of mercy because the Son was willing to drink of it on our behalf. Note also that Jesus does not have a death wish as if this is going to be fun for him.

“…yet not my will but yours be done.” As alluded to before, what an amazing model of prayer for us. A rebellious heart may choose to run away from responsibility or consequences and hide until the storm dies down. A godly person will talk to God about what is weighing them down, ask for help and conclude to do what must be done. Tired of having not enough money? Talk to God about that but conclude that His will be done. Is there a health issue that you are facing. God can remove that for you but it may not be his will. Let His will be done. Is there a dilemma that you have – a decision that needs to be made – ask God for the answer! Know that His answer may be clear or it may be that you need to continue in prayer over the matter. Perhaps you already know what you need to do but just wish that there was another way? The examples of prayer can go on. The point though is that it is God’s will that is excellent and we ought to be growing toward loving it always.

“An angel from heaven appeared to him and strengthened him.” Clearly the will of the Father was not to take the cup from him – but He was willing to send help to get Jesus through the night.

“And being in anguish, he prayed more earnestly, and his sweat was like drops of blood falling to the ground.” Note the relationship between his physical, spiritual and emotional being. We have noticed briefly the relationship between the Son and the Father – the Son being submissive to the Father. Now we note the physical realm that Jesus existed in during his ministry here on earth. He was in physical pain, not from the sword or something else, but through the torture of having to face the outcomes of tomorrow. This was obviously more than any human has ever had to face. More than facing the wrath of God – he knew it was coming! His response? To pray even more earnestly than before! The strength of his faith ensured that he would not give up on prayer the minute things got hard. Prayer is a powerful resource that we have to centre our minds on the things of God and to speak with him about them. Our weaknesses and our hurts are shared with God. Our struggle to walk the path is shared with him. We keep talking especially in the thick of temptation. Hebrews 5:7ff alludes to prayers such as this one of Jesus that helped him to stay the path for the sake of those who would trust in him.

“…and his sweat was like drops of blood falling to the ground.” Luke has used very few words in this entire passage to paint the picture of Jesus’ struggle. Here he uses a simile to describe the anguish (and anxiety?) that produced sweat for Jesus. It is remarkable enough that his prayer session produced sweat.  We need not believe that the sweat was actually mixed with blood but had the weight and consistency of blood. Trust a physician to use an analogy like that (Colossians 4:14). Some manuscripts do not include verses 43 and 44, most likely because it is unique to Luke’s description of events and so scribes may have omitted this.

The Exhausted Disciples (45-46)

“When he rose from prayer and went back to the disciples…” The passage has a clear focus on prayer as it begins and ends with Jesus speaking to the disciples on their need to pray and centres with Jesus’ prayer in the middle. Verse 45 is the reverse of Verse 41.

“…he found them asleep, exhausted from sorrow.” We are not told weather they prayed at all or not but that they did not have the endurance like Jesus – perhaps they did not last long at all! But we are told that their sleep was more than laziness, it was brought on by emotional fatigue! Was it sorrow brought on by their knowledge of temptation at hand (similar to Jesus) or was it brought on by distress of looking and watching Jesus in distress? Either way, the garden that night was filled with very intense emotion.

“Why are you sleeping?… Get up and pray so that you will not fall into temptation.” The story returns to where it began – the call to pray for protection from sin.

What did we learn?

Prayer is the right response to distress and sorrow. The weapon to overcome temptation is not will power, but prayer. It is an act of faith as we speak honestly about our desires and wants and bring them submissively before the Father who is able to do anything He wills. Jesus carried such anguish leading up to the cross which was exercised with prayer and was responded to with care from the Father. The disciples demonstrate humanities weakness.

Now what?

Topic A: Bringing it all to the Father in prayer. It is rare to find a real prayer warrior. Someone whose instinct is to take things to God in prayer and to wrestle with him in the things that need talking about. Jesus demonstrated, in his perfect example of being human, that prayer is essential. He prayed regularly and he instructed his disciples here that when things are getting ugly, the best thing to do is to pray. Notice that when he found them exhausted, he didn’t say, “oh good on you for taking care of yourselves.” He said, “wake up and pray!” Prayer is the right and loving thing to do when joy is in our hearts. Prayer is the faithful response to stress and trouble. It is the greatest tool that we have in response to temptation.

Topic B: Making prayer a habit. Given Jesus’ own dependance on the Father active in praying, how can we foster a genuine habit of praying? It would be foolish to leave all of our praying up to spontaneity. It would be foolish to assume that making something a habit equates to making it a duty. If dependance on God is what we need, then we need a daily dose of conversing with him. The Lord’s prayer has a daily flavour to it. Prayer is not about tickling God’s ear but about expressing our faith in him through habitually meeting with Him. Discuss what has been some wins or failures with your group on trying to make prayer a daily love. Have lists helped? Has routine been good? Some people associate a time of day or an activity with prayer. Perhaps abstaining from something (like TV or Facebook) until time with God has occurred.

Topic C: The cup that we do not have to drink. Jesus was in anguish over the looming event of the cross. It has been the will of the Father and of the obedient Son to propitiate (expend God’s wrath) on Jesus. We can meditate on what the cup of God’s wrath may be like but we will never ever have to experience it ourselves if we put our trust in Christ and his blood poured out on our behalf. Of course, if we ignore this momentous gift of grace, then where else can we go to avoid drinking this cup ourselves? Perhaps as we consider the topic of prayer, we can equate a praying life with a faithful life lived in response to the price that has been paid for you and me. Not willing to drink the cup yourself? Let’s run to God in prayer of thankfulness and ask Him for all wisdom to live humble and faithful lives.