With the scene set for full scale civil war between the houses of David and Saul, things took a brighter turn when Saul’s army general, Abner, turned from supporting Ish-bosheth to lend his support for David. With this, peace in Israel was in sight. Negotiations began and were running smoothly…that was until Joab took the matter in his own hands and murdered Abner. What would Jesus have learned as he read all this from 2 Samuel 3:1-39? And what do we learn as followers of Him who seek to bring in His Kingdom?
With David ascending to the throne as King over the tribe of Judah, and Ish-bosheth (son of Saul) installed as King over the remaining eleven tribes, the scene was set for a showdown…but not the kind of showdown you might have been expecting! Led by the two opposing army generals, (perhaps in some attempt to prove their young men were better), a fight ensued between young men from both sides with the end result, needless death and bloodshed (who would have seen that coming?) But God’s Word is God’s Word and even a passage like 2 Samuel 2:12-32 has much to teach us!
After the death of Saul, 2 Samuel 1:1-11 tells us that David was crowned King of Judah. Judah and not yet all Israel. After years on the run from Saul and with the promise of God in his mind that he would one day become King of the whole nation, how David responded to this next step is informative. Was he going to be a King who would take control of the nation by force or was he going to be a King who relied upon God to establish him? And what of the rival king, Ish-bosheth, son of Saul? Again, how David responded would be crucial!
The book of 2 Samuel continues the story of 1 Samuel, where in chapter 31, King Saul met a grisly end by his own hand. 2 Samuel opens with the news of Saul’s death reaching King-elect David. It may be that the news-bearer presented the report on Saul’s death to David in the hope of some reward, but all it achieved was distress and grief to David and a swift execution for the news-bearer! Why such a response from David? And why such distress? And why such a poetic lament for Saul after all that Saul did for David? And what can we learn from David’s response to the news of Saul’s death?
Guest speaker, Rev. Ian Brown, preached from Psalm 51. King David was slow to recognise his sin (2 Samuel 11) until confronted by the prophet Nathan (2 Samuel 12) but some never do – and deceive themselves (1 John 1). David repents before God who is both just and merciful – sin is dealt with through Jesus (Romans 3:23-26). What is our response to God forgiving our sin?
Guest speaker, Rev. Len Pearce spoke from Galatians 2-3 about how the Christian’s life is not just changed but exchanged. Not one of us is perfect yet there is no other way to stand before God: the Christian is justified by Christ; we exchange our sin for his perfect righteousness. We receive these benefits by God’s Spirit through faith. This is the heart of the gospel. Yet we don’t know the length of our days – be sure that you know Jesus as we get closer to eternity.
Guest speaker, Jordan Brown, a student at PTC, preached from Daniel 8. We can take heart because God reigns over politics and superpowers, both in empires then and in the world now. Daniel was shaken by the vision he saw of the future and we might be shaken by persecution we face, but we live in a privileged time. Not only can we look back and see the prophecy of Daniel fulfilled but we can see the faithfulness of God even clearly in Jesus. One day every knee will bow before him.
While the world knows the reality of the horror of war, the believer also knows the reality of the battle for holiness. Best laid plans and intentions can so easily be left aside. The Christian life is a paradox. We have been delivered from the penalty of sin, but not yet from the presence of sin. The desires of our own sinful natures and the Holy Spirit are often in conflict. How do we fight this battle? Every believer needs to know that indwelling sin is the problem, that it lives within our hearts, that it deceives our reasoning and ought not be allowed to have control. The key to victory is not found in ourselves but in the presence of God’s Holy Spirit who can and will assist us in this ongoing battle for holiness.
Holiness. It’s often been misunderstood, even by God’s pople. What are we to make of it? For a start, holiness begins with God. He is ‘holy, holy, holy’. Holiness is his chief characteristic and everything about him (his love, his wisdom, his mercy etc.) is holy. Holiness is also defined by Jesus. As he was and is God, we should expect that everything he did was holy, and this was true. Though he hung around with ‘sinners’, his life was holy in every way. Then also, holiness is necessary for believers. It is needed to prove that we know salavtion. It is needed so that we can have fellowship with God. It is needed if we want to be useful to God. Holiness is a path to take, a battle to fight and a desire to be pursued. It begins with God but ought to be seen in his people who are called to be like him in this way.
Guest preacher, Rev Stuart Withers (Rochester Presbyterian), preached from three main texts in his message on the importance of prayer (Philippians 1:9-11, Romans 15:30-33 and Colossians 4:2-6.). Just as Paul exhorted us to make ‘all kinds of prayers for all the saints’ (Ephesians 6:18), so also in these texts we are reminded that prayer is the key for the encouragement of God’s people, the strengthening of His gospel workers and the means by which unbelievers are brought into the Kingdom of God. Great things happen when God’s people pray!