Category Archives: Temple

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.

2 Samuel 6

The Rejoicing King

Discussion Question

Make a list as a group of things in your life that you tend to take for granted.

Background (Context)

We’ve come to enjoy watching David now as we, the reader, witness this man of God, whom God has elected to be king over Israel and to shepherd them in peace, illuminate us with regard to the Kingdom of God. He has demonstrated patience and trust in the LORD to deliver him in all situations. He inquires of the LORD no matter how confident he may feel about the outcome. He wrote the laments that the people ought to cry when their king is dead or a faithful man falls at the hand of the wicked. He shows us a kingdom that is gentle, merciful as well as just and able to bring down the enemy and the wicked. This is the kingdom of God under the reign of king David. Will he show us anything new? How else does he illustrate the Kingdom of God under the LORD Jesus Christ?

Michal was David’s wife and daughter of Saul. She was taken from him by Saul and was given to another man. Before David was enthroned, he made sure that Michal was returned to his kingdom. She was torn away from her second husband also.

All Israel have come to their senses and established David as their head. He has driven out the pestering Philistines who dogged Saul all of his reign. He has captured Jerusalem and claimed it as his own. One major event needs repairing. The Philistines had carried away the Ark of God back in 1 Samuel 4. It was passed around like a hot potato until it came to rest in Kiriath Jearim, a town of Israel but not the city of the king (1 Samuel 7:1-2). The Ark of the covenant should be in the Tabernacle. God’s promises to Abraham consisted of his descendants being a great nation named the people of God, residing in the Promised Land with God’s rule and blessing. The great nation now has the land free of enemies and sitting under the rule of a great king. We need to have the Ark returned.

Read 2 Samuel X

David again brought together all the able young men of Israel—thirty thousand. 2 He and all his men went to Baalah z in Judah to bring up from there the ark of God, which is called by the Name, b the name of the Lord Almighty, who is enthroned between the cherubim on the ark. 3 They set the ark of God on a new cart and brought it from the house of Abinadab, which was on the hill. Uzzah and Ahio, sons of Abinadab, were guiding the new cart 4 with the ark of God on it, and Ahio was walking in front of it. 5 David and all Israel were celebrating with all their might before the Lord, with castanets, harps, lyres, timbrels, sistrums and cymbals.

6 When they came to the threshing floor of Nakon, Uzzah reached out and took hold of the ark of God, because the oxen stumbled. 7 The Lord’s anger burned against Uzzah because of his irreverent act; therefore God struck him down, and he died there beside the ark of God.

8 Then David was angry because the Lord’s wrath had broken out against Uzzah, and to this day that place is called Perez Uzzah. m

9 David was afraid of the Lord that day and said, “How can the ark of the Lord ever come to me?” 10 He was not willing to take the ark of the Lord to be with him in the City of David. Instead, he took it to the house of Obed-Edom the Gittite. 11 The ark of the Lord remained in the house of Obed-Edom the Gittite for three months, and the Lord blessed him and his entire household.

12 Now King David was told, “The Lord has blessed the household of Obed-Edom and everything he has, because of the ark of God.” So David went to bring up the ark of God from the house of Obed-Edom to the City of David with rejoicing. 13 When those who were carrying the ark of the Lord had taken six steps, he sacrificed a bull and a fattened calf. 14 Wearing a linen ephod, David was dancing before the Lord with all his might, 15 while he and all Israel were bringing up the ark of the Lord with shouts and the sound of trumpets.

16 As the ark of the Lord was entering the City of David, Michal daughter of Saul watched from a window. And when she saw King David leaping and dancing before the Lord, she despised him in her heart.

17 They brought the ark of the Lord and set it in its place inside the tent that David had pitched for it, and David sacrificed burnt offerings and fellowship offerings before the Lord. 18 After he had finished sacrificing the burnt offerings and fellowship offerings, he blessed the people in the name of the Lord Almighty. 19 Then he gave a loaf of bread, a cake of dates and a cake of raisins to each person in the whole crowd of Israelites, both men and women. And all the people went to their homes.

20 When David returned home to bless his household, Michal daughter of Saul came out to meet him and said, “How the king of Israel has distinguished himself today, going around half-naked in full view of the slave girls of his servants as any vulgar fellow would!”

21 David said to Michal, “It was before the Lord, who chose me rather than your father or anyone from his house when he appointed me ruler over the Lord’s people Israel—I will celebrate before the Lord. 22 I will become even more undignified than this, and I will be humiliated in my own eyes. But by these slave girls you spoke of, I will be held in honor.”

23 And Michal daughter of Saul had no children to the day of her death.

What did you see? (Observation)

Structure

  • All the King’s horses and men went to get the ark (1-5)
  • David’s mission fails (6-11)
  • David humbles himself before the LORD (12-15)
  • The daughter of Saul does not approve (16)
  • The people are blessed through David (17-19)
  • David explains why the daughter of Saul is wrong (20-23)

All the King’s horses and men went to get the ark (1-5)

“David again brought together all the able young men of Israel – thirty thousand…to Baalah in Judah to bring up from there the ark of God…” This story begins with the strength of David and his men. It does not take 30,000 young men to carry a box! David is the leader of a great army. His mission: to bring back the ark of God.

“…the ark of God, which is called by the Name, the name of the LORD Almighty, who is enthroned between the cherubim on the ark.” The story does not want us to underestimate the importance of this box. David is tasked to pick up the very worship piece that communicates that the God of all armies is in their midst and for Israel. It is an item of contract between God and Israel. It is not where God literally sits but it may as well be! And what does David equip himself with to pick up such an item? His army? This is not good. He wants to come to God with his own strength. We have come to know David and one who inquires of the LORD before going to battle but here there is no clue that David has inquired of the LORD about the ark mission. It’s as if he is treating the LORD Almighty as an equal.

“They set the ark of God on a new cart….Uzzah and Ahio, sons of Abinadab…guiding the new cart…Ahio was walking in front…David and all Israel were celebrating…” What a show. They made a new cart which is highlighted twice for us to stand out. Abinadab had been taking care of the ark. “Sons of” is not usually a title that creates confidence. The sons of Samuel were wicked. The sons of Eli were the same. These two examples come from the beginning of the 1-2 Samuel saga. We don’t expect good things when we here of “sons of”. And David is celebrating with all of Israel. This seems like a good thing but we’ll see that the attitude toward God is flippant. Over familiar.

David’s mission fails (6-11)

“…Uzzah reached out and took hold of the ark of God, because the oxen stumbled.” Here is the problem of the story. Is this the right action? Will Uzzah be blessed or cursed because he reached out to aid the ark when it was in distress? Although we have empathy for Uzzah who may just have done by instinct what seemed right, he illustrates for us in this story that the LORD Almighty does not need a lift. The army of David had come to collect their God. They were carting him around like any other idol of the other nations. They did not inquire of the LORD and they are showing off their own strength.

“…God struck him down, and he died there beside the ark of God.” The narrator does not tell us plainly what the error of Uzzah was. We must, firstly, respond in awe at the mystery of God who does not need to explain himself to anybody. But, secondly, we can follow the clues from the narrative that David and his people had approached God with force and might and self-sufficiency and presumption rather than with humility. A seemingly small incident of a bump in the road brought forth the anger of God for how his people were approaching Him. Again, He is not like some dumb idol, but is the living God Almighty.

“Then David was angry…” The response from David may be righteous or selfish. It is hard to pin down. Was he angry at God, at Uzzah or at himself? He was certainly frustrated with something. He renames the location where God’s wrath ‘broke out’ against Uzzah. Remember Baal Perez? Yahweh had broken out against the Philistines but now he has broken out against a priest of the ark. God is not someone whom you can tame.

“David was afraid…” David becomes sober-minded and realises that even he is not worthy to receive the ark. He feared the LORD. This turning point in the story shows us David realising that he had approached the LORD with strength when he should have approached with weakness and humility. But he aborts his plans to take the ark back to Jerusalem, the City of David.

“…he took [the ark] to the house of Obed-Edom the Gittite…and the LORD blessed him and his entire household.” The form of the blessings was perhaps prosperity which coincides with many children (1 Chronicles 26:4-5). This Gittite was not an Israelite. The ark was residing with a foreigner and yet he is blessed. This gives David food for thought.

David humbles himself before the LORD (12-15)

“So David went to bring up the ark of God…with rejoicing…he sacrificed…” Verse 12-13 describe David’s mission to collect the ark taken back up again with rejoicing and a large dose of humility. The first being the act of sacrifice after only six steps from its resting place.

“Wearing a linen ephod, David was dancing before the LORD with all his might…” In contrast to the military David we saw in Verse 1, we now see a stripped down (literally) version of David. It is clear later that David is making no attempt to look awesome and important because it is the ark of God that he now wants to celebrate and praise with thanksgiving. He leads the humiliating praise and Israel joins with him. The ark is coming to Jerusalem and the people celebrate with shouts and the sound of trumpets. And so God’s people should when they know that the blessing of the LORD is with them. What is self-preservation and pride when God looks for a humble heart? I recall the response of the people of Jerusalem when Jesus came to them lowly and riding on a donkey. They went nuts for him!

The daughter of Saul does not approve (16)

“…Michal daughter of Saul watched…and…she despised [King David] in her heart.” When the ark of the LORD is brought to the City of David, Michal has her eyes and disdain on her husband. What is key here is that Michal is of the house of Saul (by name and by nature in this instance). No king of Israel ought to be parading around like this in her opinion. Leaping and dancing! How degrading for a king. She does more than disapprove of this decision – she despises him.

The people are blessed through David (17-19)

“…inside the tent that David had pitched for it…” This sounds quite shabby but he has placed a home for the ark in a tent as described in the books of Moses. 1 Chronicles 15:1 informs us of this preparation. He had made sure that in his City was the place where God would dwell with His people.

“…and David sacrificed…” David continues in worship before the LORD. Burnt offerings and fellowship offerings are not all for the forgiveness of sins. They are ways of worship and thanksgiving to Yahweh. Hebrews 13:15 says, “Through Jesus, therefore, let us continually offer to God a sacrifice of praise – the fruit of lips that openly profess his name.”

“…he blessed the people in the name of the LORD Almighty. Then he gave a loaf of bread…to each person in the whole crowd…And all the people went to their homes.” This time, the LORD did not smite anyone but came to rest, and the King blessed the people and distributed food offerings to all the people. Perhaps this is a little symbol of how the LORD would be a blessing to the people through David. He blessed ALL the people and the blessing was in the name of the LORD Almighty. It is not David and his army that is shown as great at this stage of the story but the name of the LORD that has come into the City of David. There is joy in David’s humility.

David explains why the daughter of Saul is wrong (20-23).

“When David returned home…” The blessing on all the people who were free to return to their homes (V19) is followed by what David was met with when he returned to his own home. He comes to bless but he receives contempt.

“…Michal daughter of Saul came out to meet him…” She is not described as the husband of David but as the daughter of Saul. Perhaps a clue from the narrator that she is speaking from the philosophy of the old camp. What we hear from her mouth is the language of pride.

“…going around half-naked in full view of the slave girls…as any vulgar fellow would!” Michal’s resentment of David may be many layers deep. But what’s on the surface here is her disapproval of the way David has presented himself before the servants of the land. To the lowly slave girls, David has paraded around in a vulgar manner – according to Michal. He has not distinguished himself from them. To her, David should have displayed an air of importance. But this is the very thing that David started out to do and he was taught, by the wrath of God, to be humble.

“It was before the LORD…I will celebrate before the LORD.” David is not the important part of this kingdom. God is. He chooses who will be king. And they are not first and foremost David’s people but God’s people. As such, David is first and foremost a member of God’s kingdom. If humility before the LORD is required, then let all the house of David show humility.

“…who chose me rather than you father…” It feels a little childish of David to bring Michal’s father into this discussion but, given the way this story ends in Verse 23, it is Michal who needs to be rebuked and David is simply stating the facts. Again, the emphasis is not on how great David is but on how God does the choosing. As for David, he will celebrate before the LORD. He cannot say, like Joshua (Josh 24:15) “as for me and my household, we will serve the LORD.” But he can say, I will serve the LORD.

“I will become even more undignified than this, and I will be humiliated in my own eyes.” You ain’t seen nothin’ yet! David promises to remain humble before the LORD and not rise above where he has gone today. No matter how large his army (6:1), David will trust in the LORD and forever give praise to Him.

“But by these slave girls you spoke of, I will be held in honour.” The proud people will envy the rich and powerful but the lowly in heart and wealth will love the humble and lowly. Jesus said, blessed are the poor in spirit for theirs is the kingdom of heaven and the meek will inherit the earth! Michal did not understand this honour. While David experienced the joy of humility, Michal suffered the misery of pride (to paraphrase John Woodhouse, Preaching the Word: 2 Samuel).

“And Michal daughter of Saul had no children to the day of her death.” This is a familiar reference to misery in the Old Testament narratives. Obed-Edom was blessed with many children but Michal was not. Saul’s house is included in this reference to misery. It was the pride of Saul, his disobedience and inability to truly repent that saw his downfall. We must not conclude that anyone without children is cursed by God. That is taking a generalised symbol of the Old Testament too far.

What did we learn? (Meaning)

Our God is not a dumb and passive idol but the living God who blesses those who come to him in humility and in truth. He does not look for strength but a thankful heart that rejoices in His strength. It is not we who carry Him but He who dwells with us. Humility is a virtue that turns our hearts to the true God in rejoicing. Pride is an evil which blinds us to the graciousness of God.

Now what? (Application)

Topic A: We must never carry a flippant attitude toward God. This definitely includes a flippant or casual attitude toward the LORD Jesus Christ. David’s power and strength were only the result of waiting on the LORD Almighty for deliverance. Yahweh owes David nothing. We are not equals with Jesus but indebted to him (with a debt that we cannot pay and he does not demand). The church that we build, the reputation that we carry are no comparison to the work that God has done for us at the cross. He is our righteousness. He delivered and called the church into being. He made us a people who were not a people. In our attitude toward God, in church and everywhere else, let us recognise that He is the LORD Almighty who choses to dwell with us out of His great mercy toward us. We only love because He first loved us (1 John 4:19).

Topic B: Sacrifices of praise and thanksgiving. If you could inherit the greatest kingdom the world has ever known and all you had to do was give praise and thanks for that – would you do it? As your mother always said (I’m guessing), “Thank you’s don’t cost you anything!” David offered free-will sacrifices to God. They were costly. God has given us an inheritance that will never spoil, perish or fade. He has done this through the sacrifice of His Son who now lives and dwells in our hearts through the Holy Spirit! I often wonder why it is so hard to celebrate the gift of forgiveness and having peace with God. David almost showed the people what it looks like to celebrate and sacrifice with praise. We sing at church because that is what Christians do and have done throughout the centuries. The people of God sang Psalms. The disciples sang with Jesus  (Matthew 26:30). The church in the New Testament sang (Acts 16:25; 1 Corinthians 14:26; Ephesians 5:19 and Colossians 3:16). Even as ‘Anglicans’ we could learn to praise genuinely. “Let the message of Christ dwell among you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom through psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit, singing to God with gratitude in your hearts.” Colossians 3:16

Topic C: Pride and humility. “When pride comes, then comes disgrace, but with humility comes wisdom”. Proverbs 11:2. Of course, we can take pride in something as a job well done. But that is not on display here. Michal wanted David to be distinguished and untouchable. She was bitter toward him because of it. David saw humility as a lesson learned and one that he will learn again. His joy was in praising where the praise was due. Sure, he was the king of Israel and he did have a large army. But heaven forbid that he should rob the LORD Almighty. If David was to show pride it would be in the LORD’s work and not his own. “For everything in the world – the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life – comes not from the Father but from the world.” 1 John 2:16.

Luke 21:1-4

The truth about generosity

Discussion Question

What is the smallest coin that you would stop and pick up off the ground as you past by? This question opens up the discussion of wealth and value if some say that anything below, say, 20c (or $1) is not worth picking up.

Background

When Jesus arrived in Jerusalem in Chapter 19 he was surrounded by a crowd who praised God for him. The Pharisees and teachers of the law were not happy with the crowd’s reception of him nor the way that Jesus rebuked the practices in the temple. The Jewish leaders wanted Jesus gone but feared the many who loved and respected him.

The church leaders approached Jesus three times in Chapter 19 to challenge him, trap him or mock his theology. Jesus responded to each confrontation with wisdom that was not refuted. He closed Chapter 20 with a description of the teachers of the law as those who like to strut like beautiful birds, loved and praised and respected by all and yet they devour widows’ houses. They are not to be trusted.

Read Luke 20:45-21:4

45 While all the people were listening, Jesus said to his disciples, 46 “Beware of the teachers of the law. They like to walk around in flowing robes and love to be greeted with respect in the marketplaces and have the most important seats in the synagogues and the places of honor at banquets. 47 They devour widows’ houses and for a show make lengthy prayers. These men will be punished most severely.”

 

21 As Jesus looked up, he saw the rich putting their gifts into the temple treasury. 2 He also saw a poor widow put in two very small copper coins. 3 “Truly I tell you,” he said, “this poor widow has put in more than all the others. 4 All these people gave their gifts out of their wealth; but she out of her poverty put in all she had to live on.”

What did you see?

Structure

  • Jesus describes the evil of the teachers of the law (20:45-47)
  • What Jesus saw (21:1-2)
  • What Jesus said about it (21:3-4)

Jesus describes the evil of the teachers of the law (20:45-47)

See the notes from the previous section which both concludes the challenges to Jesus of Chapter 20 and connects us directly to the topic of Luke 21:1-4. Note especially Jesus’ description of their flowing robes and of devouring widows’ houses. Exodus 39 describes the detail of the clothing that was to be worn by those who ministered in the sanctuary, and the robe is mentioned in Verses 22-26. Exodus 35:4-29 describes the instruction for all of Israel who are willing to give, to bring an offering for the construction (and maintenance) of the tabernacle and priestly garments. What the teachers of the law wore, was the byproduct of the free-will gifts of faithful believers.

What ought the teachers of Israel be like? The opposite of course! Their prayers ought to be genuine, an act of faith rather than for show. They ought to be an example of godliness for others to imitate and follow. They ought to love and take care of the widows rather than devouring the vulnerable.

The reason for including these verses are to provide the context for the next 4 Verses. It is not a story in isolation and therefore we need to examine what we are being taught in its context.

What Jesus saw (21:1-2)

“As Jesus looked up, he saw…” It is significant that what follows in these verses is not a parable that Jesus told in order to make a point, but a narrative description of what Jesus actually saw following his dark description of the teachers of the law.

“…he saw the rich putting their gifts into the temple treasury.” The first question might be, what was the temple treasury and what were the guidelines for giving to it. What was the giving spent on? Luke and the other gospel writers do not expand much on details of the giving. In the earliest years of Israel, taxes or tithes were required for the upkeep of the temple (or tabernacle) and for the Levites since they did not have a land inheritance but were dependant on the produce of the 11 other tribes of Israel. See Deut 18:1-5; 14:22-27, also Neh 10:32-39. We should conclude as little as the text suggests for us to come away with. There was a receptacle (perhaps 13 according to Josephus the Jewish historian) intended for free will offerings going into the temple funds. See Exodus 35 and 39 as mentioned in the previous section. The gifts were meant to be free-will gifts.

What we should not miss is the continuing theme of paying tribute which began in Luke 20:9-16, continued in Luke 20:21 and completes its journey in this passage. God the Father has sent his son who is being rejected by the teachers of the law. These teachers are not working for God’s kingdom but are walking around with flowing robes and devouring widows. While a poor widow is giving all that she has to God.

Note that Jesus is not condemning the rich for giving gifts. They will simply be used as a comparison to the poor widow’s giving later. The fact that the gifts are going into the temple treasury is significant and we’ll reflect more on that later.

“He also saw a poor widow put in two very small copper coins.” The key features of this sentence is the emphasis on poor and the very small amount of money that was offered. It is plain to see in the english but ought to be emphasised. They are two lekma which, guess what, are two very small insignificant coins.

So, before we move to what Jesus has to say about this, let’s consider the THREE things that Jesus has seen. 1) a poor widow giving money to the temple treasury, 2) rich people also giving to the same account and 3) the teachers of the law (the priests) strutting around in flowing robes, looking praiseworthy but all the while ripping off widows.

What Jesus said about it (21:3-4)

“Truly I tell you…” Whenever Jesus starts a sentence like this, he means something like, ‘I kid you not’ or ‘let me be quite frank about this.’ He really means for us to listen to what he says and pay attention.

“…this poor widow has put in more than all the others…she [gave] out of her poverty…” This statement from Jesus leads many to conclude that the point of this passage is to encourage generous giving. Giving is not about the actual amount but about the sacrifice made by the giver. This lady represents someone who puts more value in the kingdom of God than she does in her own stomach. In this case, she certainly stands as a mascot for sacrificial giving. In support of this conclusion we recall the teaching of Jesus to deny yourself, take up your cross and follow him. We can see that she is denying herself.

In contrast, we see, not only the rich who are giving (and presumably only enough to still be referred to as rich), but those who are walking around in their flowing robes because of the generosity of people like this widow. Where is the kingdom heart of the teachers of the law? Jesus has accused them of devouring widows. Is this what he has in mind? Exodus 22:22; Deut 10:18; 14:29; 24:17, 19-21; 26:12-13 – these verses highlight the importance of looking after widows at the same time as looking after the Levites. This widow ought not to have only two mites to her name. The Law of Moses does not prescribe a system where the poor give their last money to the temple. This is the perfect illustration of how the teachers of the law had no right to be in such positions of power. They were not seeking the kingdom of God and ought to look at that poor widow with shame. She has done infinitely better than any of them.

What did we learn?

The teachers of the law had seen Jesus of Nazareth and made every attempt to derail him, rather than give him the honour he is due. The poor widow demonstrates how corrupt the whole system had become, how unlike the kingdom of God the leaders were behaving and how hypocritical they were for happily taking from the rich and oppressed alike while failing to do their task in humility and justice – especially the task of seeing Jesus as Lord.

Now what?

Topic A: Why do we give? Surely we give because we see a need and believe it to be worth supporting. If it is not something that the world needs, unless by law you are required to give anyway, then perhaps we ought not give to it. In the Old Testament, God instructed Israel to build the tabernacle and described how it would be furnished and how the ministers would be clothed. The centre of the Old Testament faith was obeying God when he knew where and how the forgiveness of sins would take place. The Levites had no means for self-funding and so the community were to provide for them. Widows and orphans and foreigners lacked any land ownership and so they were to be provided for also. The New Testament teaches us that we no longer require a specially furnished place or priests for the forgiveness of sins since Christ is the Temple and the sacrifice! In Galatians 6:1-10, Paul describes the importance of carrying your own load as well as helping others with their load. He draws together the burden of sin and of the cost of living as if it is all part of the same bucket. We are in it together. But not like a commune where everybody shares the wealth. More like an other-person-centred community where we honestly care about one another’s spiritual walk and daily needs. If you see something necessary in this world which does not have the means to support itself, then get behind it.

Topic B: How much should we give? Putting a figure on this is a-kin to declaring that your money is yours except for the bit that you give to God. 1 Timothy 6:6-7 says, “But godliness with contentment is great gain, for we brought nothing into the world, and we cannot take anything out of the world.” These two verses go hand in hand. Living for God and being content with that decision is great gain – we surrender everything knowing that the kingdom of God is greater than anything we have acquired on this earth between cradle and grave.

Topic C: Are we the poor or the wealthy? With so much ‘stuff’ we have all around us, it is easy to feel the weight of money-trouble. We can feel poor because we have debt! Perhaps we gather and own so much because we a) worry about tomorrow as if God is not really in control of it or b) we do not have the resurrection hope in our minds when we live day to day. Luke 21:1-4 does not teach us how much we ought to give but it does illustrate a woman who invested in the kingdom of God over her own kingdom. Jesus spoke clearly about choosing which kingdom to live for in Matthew 6:19-24. The widow may not have seen herself as poor in kingdom currency.