THE PASSAGE: 2 Samuel 24:13-17, 25 (EXPANDED PASSAGE: 2 SAMUEL 24)
Gad came to deliver the message:
"Do you want three years of famine in the land, or three months of
running from your enemies while they chase you down, or three days of an
epidemic on the country? Think it over
and make up your mind. What shall I tell
the one who sent me?"
David told Gad, "They're all terrible!
But I'd rather be punished by God, whose mercy is great, than fall into
So God let loose an epidemic from morning until suppertime. From Dan to Beersheba seventy thousand people
died. But when the angel reached out
over Jerusalem to destroy it, God felt the pain of the terror and told the
angel who was spreading death among the people, "Enough's enough! Pull back!"
The angel of God had just reached the
threshing floor of Araunah the Jebusite.
Davie looked up and saw the angel hovering between earth and sky, sword
drawn and about to strike Jerusalem.
David and the elders bowed in prayer and covered themselves with rough
When David saw the angel about to destroy the people, he prayed,
"Please! I'm the one who sinned; I,
the shepherd, did the wrong. But these
sheep, what did they do wrong? Punish me
and my family, not them."…
He built an altar to God there and sacrificed burnt offerings and peace
offerings. God was moved by the prayers
and that was the end of the disaster
READ: Skim the expanded passage. Now read the excerpt three times carefully.
THINK/PRAY: Set the text aside and imaginatively replay
the story, inserting yourself as a character in it. Perhaps you will be one of David's elders, or
What do you think and feel as you
hear God's words of discipline? What do
you experience as you walk through this tension-filled and tragic day? What do you see? Hear?
Smell? What questions do you have
for God? Are you angry? Afraid?
Talk to him.
As the end of the day approaches and
you see God's interaction with the angel, what is that like for you? When God's heart is changed by David's
prayers, what thoughts and feelings bubble up in you? Express them to God.
LIVE: C. S. Lewis wrote, "[Each sinful act
leaves a mark] on that tiny central self which no one sees in this life but
which each of us will have to endure--or enjoy--for ever. One man may be so placed that his anger sheds
the blood of thousands, and another so placed that, however angry he gets, he
will only be laughed at. But the little
mark on the soul may be much the same in both." Are there any "little marks" on
your soul that you haven't talked about with God? Explore recent experiences, reactions,
thoughts, and feelings you've had. What
do they tell you about what's inside your heart? Talk to God about this, and make note of any
action that you feel he is leading you to.
don't really want to do the activity suggested by this week's reading. Furthermore, even if I did do the activity
(or rather, when I do the activity), I don't know that it's necessary I share
with you what my "little marks" are for you to benefit from this
blog. Call it an effort to practice
discretion in whether or not to participate in full disclosure or fear, but I’m
not going to share all my little marks (though, admittedly, I've shared quite a
few already). But, I will share what
has struck me about this passage.
felt their pain. God felt their pain,
and David's prayer for deliverance or mercy was enough for God to stay His hand
(or the angel's hand). I don't mind
saying that hearing that David's prayers for mercy being answered while mine
weren't would've been grounds for me to throw a fit this time a year ago. If God really felt our pain, why didn't he
deliver us from our circumstances? That
would've been my prayer a year ago.
Honestly, that probably would've been my prayer as recently as 6 months
ago, too. Because, you see, when I feel
pain, my first reaction is to recoil.
When I see others feeling pain, I want to rush in and alleviate it, if I
can. I realize that this is not always a
smart move. Sometimes people need to
live in their pain because they need to know what the consequences are. Sometimes people don't have a choice but to
live in their pain because God refuses to move them until His purposes have
there's one thing I've come to believe about suffering. It doesn't matter the cause of the
suffering. It doesn't matter the
delivery method of said suffering.
Anybody who is suffering - everybody who is suffering - has to deal with
God over that suffering. Some press in
and draw closer to Him. Some jerk their
hand out of his and try to take back control of their lives. Others turn their backs on Him. Regardless, we all have to decide where we go
from here (wherever our "here" is when the suffering starts).
you are like me and wondering where God was when you were crying out for your
deliverance from the injustice in the world.
Maybe you just wanted to catch a break just this once because all your
life you've felt like you've always gotten the short end of the stick. Maybe you are just tired of the "bad
guys" always winning while the "good guys" always seem to come
in second. I don't know where you are in
life right now, but I bet there's a good chance that you've wondered how God
let it get where it is. And if your life
is just fine right now, I bet you can remember a time when you felt that
way. But…if you've neither been in
either position, let me tell you - it's coming.
The question is: what are you
going to do with your suffering? Are you
going to let it make you bitter and dried up on the inside? Or…are you going to let it do its
transformative work, making you look more and more like Christ as time goes
by? Will you throw in the towel? Or will you get up, dust yourself off, pick
your gloves back up, and fight for another day?
prayer is that you will fight. His
mercies really are new every morning.
And you only need strength for the day you are on. You can hold on to yesterday's victories and
you can't borrow from tomorrow. You have
to do the best you can with the measure of grace you've been given today.
Heavenly Father, if there is anyone out there right now thinking about quitting
in whatever form that may look like for them (suicide, divorce, back-sliding),
I pray that you would send someone their way to encourage them to hold on just
a little while longer. I pray that you
would intervene supernaturally in such a way that they have no doubt that you
have visited them tonight and they would be strengthened and comforted by the
thought that "this too shall pass."
Show them that you do feel their pain, that you are intimately touched
when they are suffering. Show them that
this was never your plan for your Creation, that you long to be in communion
and relationship with us, and show them that you have made a way for them to
come back into the fold. I pray for
anyone who is reading this who may be hurting and needs comforting. You alone, O Lord, are the Great
Comforter. To who else can we turn when
things have gone wrong. You are the
creator of the universe. You knew us
before we were formed in our mothers' wombs and you know every single hair on
our heads. You alone know exactly what
it is we need when we are hurting. Meet
the needs of those who may be hurting tonight, Dear Lord, as only you can.
pray all these things in Your Son's Precious and Holy Name, the name of Jesus