Daily Devotional Readings: Year Two - May
1st May: 2 Samuel 1:1-27
'How are the mighty fallen!' (19,25,27). The tragedy of Saul was there for all to see. He had made a right mess of things! What are we to think when we read of this tragic figure? He started out so well. He ended so badly. There were high hopes – but it all came to nothing. Do we not see ourselves in Saul? – This could happen to me, if I'm not careful. The danger signs are there. Satan is at hand. He is ready to sweep in. He will sweep the feet away from us, if we don't watch out. We are very weak, but the Lord is 'able to keep us from falling' (Jude 24-25). These are things we must never forget – our own weakness and the strength of the Lord. Disaster threatens. Tragedy looms. Jesus draws near. He speaks His Word – 'My grace is sufficient for you, for My power is made perfect in weakness' (2 Corinthians 12:9). By grace, we shall stand!
2nd May: 2 Samuel 2:1-32
It was a new beginning. There was a new king. Saul was gone. He had been replaced by David. One thing had not changed. The Lord is King. To know His blessing – His 'steadfast love and faithfulness' – is more important than anything else. We look beyond the servants of the Lord. We look to the Lord Himself (4-7). The names and the faces change – Saul, David, - but the Lord never changes'. Some liked one king – 'If only we had Saul back again'. Some preferred the other – 'Things can only get better, now that David's here'. Some people would never be happy. There was no pleasing them. What is the most important thing of all? – Keep your eyes on the Lord. God's servants are not in competition with one another. They are not trying to outdo each other. Let God be glorified!
3rd May: 2 Samuel 3:1-39
'There was a long war between the house of Saul and the house of David' (1) – What a sad situation! It was shameful. It was sinful – a scandalous situation, which brought no glory to the Lord. The conflict seemed to go on and on – it was 'a long war'. Perhaps, there were times when things didn't seem too bad. Still, the problem showed no sign of going away. They were at 'war' with one another. Is there any hope in a situation like this? We may wonder. Humanly speaking, things seem to go round in circles. There appears to be some progress, then there is another outbreak of violence. There is hope. Our hope is in the Lord. He continues to speak His Word – '…I will save My people…from the hand of all their enemies' (18). Whatever happens, don't forget the Word of the Lord.
4th May: 2 Samuel 4:1-5:25
'…they came into the house…and slew him…' (4:7). What are we to make of this kind of thing? – 'What's the world coming to?'. Where's it all going to end?'. It is difficult to maintain real faith in the Lord when this kind of thing is going on. What are we to do? Don't bury your head in the sand. Don't pretend that such things are not happening. Don't imagine that that they will just go away. 'Inquire of the Lord'. 'Do as the Lord commands'. Keep on believing that there will be a breakthrough – from the Lord (19,23,25,20). Can you 'hear the sound of rustling in the leaves of the trees'? – 'The Spirit of the Lord has come down on the earth'. Let us 'rise, a mighty array, at the bidding of the Lord – The Spirit won't be hindered by division in the perfect work that Jesus has begun' (24; John 3:8; Mission Praise, 274).
5th May: 2 Samuel 6:1-23
'When she saw King David leaping and dancing before the Lord, she despised him in her heart' (16). Michal was a very angry young woman. Her husband had embarrassed her and she didn't like it! What had David done to deserve this? – 'I will celebrate before the Lord' (21). This is really quite pathetic. God's children are learning to 'worship Him in Spirit and in truth' (John 4:23-24). In comes 'the stiff upper lip brigade'. They have no real heart for worship. They put a dampener on it – 'This has to stop'. This is not only pathetic. It is sinful. 'Do not quench the Spirit…Do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God…Be filled with Spirit, addressing one another in psalms, hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody to the Lord with all your heart…' (1 Thessalonians 5:19; Ephesians 4:30; 5:18-20).
6th May: 2 Samuel 7:1-29
David was king. God was looking on the next king, Solomon. Knowing the kind of man Solomon would become, God speaks of chastening: 'When he does wrong, I will chasten him'. This chastening is an expression of God's 'steadfast love': 'Those whom I love, I rebuke and chasten'. How do we respond to God's chastening? Don't be like 'Saul'. He was 'put away from' being king because of his continual disobedience. 'Be zealous and repent'. When you are being chastened, don't forget the love of God: 'The Lord disciplines him whom He loves, and chastises every son whom He receives'. Why does God chasten His children? – 'He disciplines us for our good, that we may share His holiness'. Beyond the 'pain' of 'discipline', there is 'the peaceful fruit of righteousness' (14-15; Revelation 3:19; Hebrews 12:5-11).
7th May: 1 Corinthians 9:1-27
'If I preach the Gospel, that gives me no ground for boasting' (16). Paul preached the Gospel. His whole desire was to bring men and women to the Saviour (22). Paul did not want to draw attention to himself. He didn't preach so that his hearers would say, 'What a good preacher Paul is'! He did not want to be 'an obstacle in the way of the Gospel of Christ' (12). Paul was not a 'performer', trying to increase his own popularity. Paul described his ministry like this: 'I do it all for the sake of the Gospel' (23). Keep your eyes on Jesus. This is very important. Don't get so preoccupied with 'a good preacher' that you lose sight of the great Saviour! There is no room for 'superstars': 'Humble yourselves before the Lord' – 'The Name of Jesus is the Name above every name' (James 4:10; Philippians 2:9-10).
8th May: 1 Corinthians 10:1-33
'Participation in the blood of Christ…participation in the body of Christ' (16): There is nothing more important than this. We are not to be spectators, standing on the side lines, watching what's going on without ever getting involved. We are to be participants, getting to know the Lord Jesus Christ, growing in our love for Him, strengthening our faith in Him, bringing more glory to Him. We eat bread. We drink wine. We remember Jesus Christ, 'the Son of God who loved us and gave Himself for us'. We do not only remember this great event from the past. We participate in Christ here and now. He has brought us out of our old life – 'I have been crucified with Christ' – and into His new life – 'It is no longer I who lives but Christ who lives in me' (Galatians 2:20). Participate 'in Christ' – not only in 'the Church'!
9th May: 1 Corinthians 11:1-34
We celebrate the Lord's Supper (23-26). We even take note of what Paul says about the way we are to come to the Lord's Table (27-29). What's this all about? Is it about the whole thing looking good – impressive? Paul gives us something to think about in verse 22 – 'Do you not have houses to eat and drink in? Or do you despise the Church of God and humiliate those who have nothing?'. In Paul's questions, we hear an echo of the Old Testament prophets (Isaiah 1:12-20; Amos 5:21-24). We rejoice in John 3:16 – 'God so loved the world…'. Let's not forget 1 John 3:16-18 – 'let us not love in word or speech but in deed and in trust'. Jesus says, '…first be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift' (Matthew 5:23-24). Don't just think about it. Act on it (James1:22-25; 2:14-17)!
10th May: 2 Samuel 8:1-9:13
David was involved in many battles with his enemies. Their antagonism had been aroused by his strong stand for the Lord. David enjoyed many victories. Why? – 'The Lord gave victory to David wherever he went' (8:6,14). Jesus said, 'Apart from Me you can do nothing' (John 15:5). We are not left on our own. Through 'the kindness of God', we receive strength (9:3). 'The heart of the Eternal is most wonderfully kind'. Through His kindness, He has provided 'plentiful redemption'. When, through the kindness of God, we enjoy His victory let's not forget, 'Every virtue we possess, every victory won, every thought of holiness, are His alone' (Church Hymnary, 218,336). The 'victory' does not come from ourselves. It is 'the victory of our God': 'Sing to the Lord…He has done marvellous things' (Psalms 44:3; 98:1-3)!
11th May: 2 Samuel 10:1-11:27
'May the Lord do what seems good to Him' (10:12). This is the attitude we ought to have. This is the ideal: 'Your will be done in earth as it is in heaven'; 'Not as I will, but as You will' (Matthew 6:10; 26:39). Often, we do not live up to the ideal – 'the thing that David had done displeased the Lord' (11:27). Throughout life, there are choices between our own will and the will of the Lord. Sometimes, we make wrong choices. We choose our own way rather than the Lord's way. Throughout life, God is speaking to us. He is trying to get our attention. He wants it to be less of self and more of Him. He is leading us to say from the heart, 'As for God, His way is perfect' (22:31; Psalm 18:30). May we have this testimony: 'I have kept the ways of the Lord; I have not done evil by turning from my God' (Psalm 18:21).
12th May: 2 Samuel 12:1-31
Here, we learn much about God's dealings with sinners. In verse 7, there is conviction of sin – 'You are the man'. In verse 13, we have confession of sin – 'I have sinned against the Lord' – and forgiveness of sin – 'The Lord has taken away your sin'. In verse 20, there is the restoration of the sinner - 'washed ... anointed … changed …he went into the house of the Lord, and worshipped'. These were not easy times for David – 'the child died' (18). Later on, 'a son' was born (24). Sometimes, good things are happening to us. Sometimes, bad things are happening. 'The Lord loved him' (24): 'Through all the changing scenes of life, in trouble and in joy', never forget 'His love' (Mission Praise, 702). Our circumstances change. His love never changes. When you're feeling down, let His love lift you up!
13th May: 1 Corinthians 12:1-31
Paul speaks about 'gifts of the Spirit'. They are 'given for the common good' (4-7). We're not 'to show off': 'Look at me. The Church can't do without me'. When we draw attention to ourselves rather than Christ, we are not living 'by the Spirit of God'. He moves us to say, with our whole heart, 'Jesus is Lord' (3). We live in fellowship with one another: 'the body does not consist of one member but of many' (14). 'I'm happy – as long as I'm getting my own way': We can do without this kind of attitude! What about 'the common good'? Sometimes, things don't go according to my plan. Perhaps, my plan needs revising – to take account of 'the common good'. When self raises its ugly head – 'It's my way or no way at all' – let's not forget the 'still more excellent way' (3). It is the way of love – Christ's love!
14th May: 1 Corinthians 13:1-14:12
Paul's teaching seems so unrealistic. Life isn't like this, people aren't like this, the Church isn't like this – and we're all the poorer for it! We speak about revival. We hope for it. We pray for it. What we need most of all is a revival of love. This is not a return to 'the good old days'. This is for here and now. We can make a good deal of a 'revival' which took place a good many years ago. It is in today's world that we are called to show love. Differences of opinion become deeply-held prejudices. It's all going on in the Name of Christ! Our reverence for yesterday's religious leaders will mean nothing – if there is no love. Some things should have been 'dead and buried' a long time ago. Keep the negative thinking going and we'll be speaking to ourselves. Nobody will be listening (14:4,8)!
15th May: 1 Corinthians 14:13-40
'Be eager to prophesy' (39). Preaching God's Word to the people is important. It is not everything. It is to be accompanied by prayer and praise. Many come to hear 'the preacher'. Few gather to pray that the whole service of worship will be filled with the presence of the Lord. Some come to hear a 'sermon'. They show little real enthusiasm for worshipping the Lord. They want 'the Word'. There is no real heart for worship, witness, and work. The preacher's public performance becomes more important than the prayerful praise of God's people. 'All things' are 'done decently and in order' yet the atmosphere is forbidding. The Spirit of God is not moving freely among the people of God (39-40). Let there be less talking about the preacher and more concern with giving all the praise and glory to the Lord.
16th May: Psalm 25:1-22
'Lead me in Thy truth, and teach me, for Thou art the God of my salvation' (5). We can pray this prayer with confidence. God has given His promise: 'He leads the humble in what is right, and teaches the humble His way' (9). Our confidence is in the Lord. We 'put no confidence in the flesh' (Philippians 3:3). Jesus teaches us that God hides Himself from the proud and reveals Himself to the humble: '…Father…Thou hast hidden these things from the wise and revealed them to babes' (Matthew 11:25). In the life of faith, the most important thing is the right attitude – not the 'best education'! The proud may concern themselves with impressing 'the right people'. For the humble, there is something more important – pleasing God. His opinion is the one that really matters!
17th May: 2 Samuel 13:1-39
Lust is very different from love. What appeared to be 'love' turned into 'very great hatred' – 'The heart is deceitful…and desperately wicked' (14-15; Jeremiah 17:9). Things went from bad to worse. The 'one-off' event became a consistent and continuing rejection (16). Things continued to get worse. 'Absalom hated Amnon'. He refused to speak to him (22). Could things get any worse? – Yes. Absalom and Amnon were murdered (28-29). Where is God in all this? His Name does not appear in this whole chapter. Is He absent? – No. He is there. He is warning us. This is what can happen if you forget about God! He is the God of holiness: 'the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and wickedness of men…' (Romans 1:18). He is the God of love. He call us to confess our sins and be forgiven (1 John 1:9).
18th May: 2 Samuel 14:1-33
David loved Absalom – 'the kings heart went out to Absalom' (1). David could not bring himself to forgive Absalom: 'Let him dwell apart in his own house; he is not to come into my presence' (24). God loves us. God forgives us. We dare not come to Him in pride – 'I'm really not that bad. I'm really quite good'. We must come to Him with a real confession of sin: 'Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you; I am no longer worthy to be called your son'. In ourselves, we are 'lost'. In Christ, we are 'found'. In ourselves, we are 'dead'. In Christ, we are 'made alive' (Luke 15:21,24; Ephesians 2:1,5). In Christ, we see God's love. Through Christ, we receive God's forgiveness. Christ does not leave us 'out on a limb'. He is preparing a place for us – in His Father's House (John 14:1-3). This love – without limits!
19th May: 2 Samuel 15:1-37
There is a great difference between human popularity and divine approval. Here, we have human popularity – 'The conspiracy grew strong, and the people with Absalom kept increasing' (12). In Acts 5:14, we have divine approval – 'More than ever believers were added to the Lord, multitudes both of men and women'. Conspiracy involves man seeking to get his own way. Revival comes when we 'let go and let God have His wonderful way'. 'Carry the ark of God back into the city' (25). In the ark of God, we have the Word of God among the people of God. If the people of God are to enjoy the blessing of God, they must live according to the Word of God. We organize things to suit ourselves. This is conspiracy. God is not in it. Look to God. Listen for His Word. Live in the light of His Word. This is God's way to revival.
20th May: 2 Samuel 16:1-23
What is more important to you – your own reputation or the glory of God? 'Curse David' – This was the last thing David wanted to hear. It may, however, have been what he needed to hear. Here, we see David's true spiritual stature. This was not a 'feel good' message. David recognized that this might be what the Lord was saying to him (10). He speaks against us so that we might learn to stop speaking against Him. He speaks of His righteousness that we might see our own unrighteousness. He speaks of His judgment that we might see how hopeless our situation is without Christ. He speaks of our sin that we might be brought to Christ for salvation (John 16:8-11; Isaiah 64:6; Romans 3:23; 1 John 1:8-2:2). Let there be no more talk of your righteousness. Confess your sins and trust the Saviour.
21st May: 2 Samuel 17:1-29
Here, we have a tragic train of events. Ahithophel's advice was 'not good'. His advice 'was not followed'. He 'hanged' himself (7,23). Without going into detail about this particular suicide, we may make some general comments about coping with life's difficulties. Things don't go according to plan. Our hopes are dashed. Nothing seems to work out. Everything seems to go wrong. We allow things to get on top of us. Very quickly and very easily, things can get completely out of control. Everything is out of proportion. It seems like there is nothing worth living for. Suicide becomes a strangely attractive way out. What are we to do when such thoughts fill our minds? – Remember God's promise: "The peace of God, which passes all understanding, will keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus" (Philippians 4:7).
22nd May: 2 Samuel 18:1-33
Some die young. Others live to a ripe old age. None of us can predict what lies ahead of us. There are some things that are beyond our control. We look at what is happening and we say, 'I wish things could be different'. Absalom had been killed. David wished he could have died instead of him. It was not to be. Each of us must die our own death: 'No man can redeem the life of another or give to God a ransom for him – the ransom for a life is costly, no payment is ever enough – that he should live on for ever and not see decay' (Psalm 49:7-9). There is, however, a 'Man' who has died for us - Jesus Christ, 'our Lord and our God'. He 'gave Himself as a ransom for all'. 'Christ died for sins, once for all, the righteous for the unrighteous, to bring you to God' (John 20 28; 1 Timothy 2:5-6; 1 Peter 3:18).
23rd May: 1 Corinthians 15:1-45
Here, we learn of Christ's resurrection: the fact – 'Christ has been raised from the dead' – and the meaning – 'the first fruits of those who have fallen asleep' (20). We look back to His resurrection. We 'remember Jesus Christ, risen from the dead' (2 Timothy 2:8). We look forward to our own resurrection. We will be 'raised' – 'imperishable…in glory…in power…a spiritual body' (42-44). Looking back to His resurrection and looking forward to our own resurrection, we are to live, here and now, in 'the power of His resurrection' (Philippians 3:10). We believe the fact of the resurrection. We live in the power of the resurrection. We rejoice in the hope of the resurrection. With 'resurrection' faith in the 'resurrection' God, let us live the 'resurrection' life as a 'resurrection' people!
24th May: 1 Corinthians 15:46-16:24
In Christ, there is 'victory' – glorious, eternal, heavenly victory (54-57). Every day, we face a battle. It is a battle for faith, love and service. (a) We are called to trust the Lord: 'Stand firm in your faith' (13). We are to have faith. It is to be a growing faith, a faith which is growing stronger. (b) We are called to love the Lord. This is to be the most important thing in our life: 'love for the Lord' (21). Christ's question comes to us: 'Do you love Me?' (John 21:15-17). Is our love for Him growing stronger or getting weaker? (c) We are called to serve the Lord: 'Be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord' (58). Let's get rid of the lazy, 'can't be bothered' attitude. We shall be victorious through 'the grace of the Lord Jesus' (23).
25th May: 2 Samuel 19:1-39
'My lord the king is like an angel of God in discerning good and evil' (27;14:17). Setting God's servants on a pedestal is a dangerous thing. Don't imagine that they will always get it right. They won't. They have their faults and failings as well as everyone else. They need forgiveness just as much as anyone else. They look great – from a distance. The closer you get to them, the more you see that they're not all they're cracked up to be. From a distance, they seem like spiritual giants. Close up, they're not so impressive. Build up God's servants with unrealistically high expectations, and you're setting them up for a very great fall. The closer you get to them, the smaller they become. There's one Man who's different: our Lord Jesus Christ – The closer you get to Him, the bigger He becomes!
26th May: 2 Samuel 19:40-20:26
'The words of the men of Judah were fiercer than the words of the men of Israel' (43). At the heart of all this conflict was Sheba. He was a real trouble-maker. 'A worthless fellow', he was up to no good. A complainer, he wreaked havoc among God's people. He was out to make an impression – and he succeeded. Sadly, it was all negative. He did a great deal of 'harm' (1-2,6). How sad it is when there is strife among God's people! God's Word speaks out strongly against this kind of thing: 'While there is jealousy and strife among you, are you not of the flesh…?'. Strife can arise when we attach too much importance to certain individuals and pay too little attention to the Lord: … 'I belong to Paul'… 'I belong to Apollos'…'. Remember – 'Paul planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the growth' (1 Corinthians 3:3-7).
27th May: 2 Samuel 21:1-22:7
There's no two ways about it. God's people were getting it rough. There seemed to be so many problems. Were they to give up hope? – Not a bit of it! Read verse 14 – 'After that God heeded supplications for the land'. What happened when God heard and answered the prayers of His people? – 'the plague was averted from Israel' (24:25). Things would have been an awful lot worse, if it was not for the Lord hearing and answering prayer! Keep on praying. Keep on believing that God hears and answers prayer. He is not a tragic victim of circumstances – 'Poor God. He can do nothing about it all'. Don't believe that. That's the lie of the devil. He is still the living God. Things are not out of His control. He is still on the throne. God can, if we will – 'If my people…' (2 Corinthians 7:14). Pray 'for the land'!
28th May: 2 Samuel 22:8-51
David's 'song' of praise is also found in Psalm 18. Some things are worth repeating! David is praising the Lord. He is giving glory to Him. We must never tire of praising God. We can never praise Him enough. He is always greater than our inadequate worship. He is 'worthy to be praised' (4). Again and again, we must lift our hearts and voices to Him in praise. Think of the Lord. Think of how great He is. Think of how much He loves you. Think of how much He has done for you. Let your song of praise rise to Him: 'The Lord lives; and blessed be my Rock, and exalted be my God, the Rock of my salvation' (47; Mission Praise, 306). Some things are worth repeating – when we're giving all the praise and glory to the Lord! Praising the Lord – We were created for this. We have been redeemed for this.
29th May: 2 Samuel 23:1-39
By birth, David was 'the son of Jesse'. By grace, he was 'the man who was raised on high, the anointed of the God of Jacob, the sweet psalmist of Israel' (1). What we are in ourselves is nothing compared with what we can become through the grace of God! Look at David. Listen to what he says, 'The Spirit of the Lord speaks by me, His Word is upon my tongue' (2). What had David done to deserve this? What was so special about him? Nothing – This was the work of God, the work of divine grace. In ourselves, we are 'godless', good for nothing, 'like thorns that are thrown away' (6). In ourselves, we are not 'mighty men' (8-9). How can we be changed? – 'The Lord wrought a great victory' (10,12). Which of us can be described as 'a valiant man…a doer of great deeds' (20) – apart from the grace of God? 'By grace you have been saved…'(Ephesians 2:8-10).
30th May: 2 Samuel 24:1-25
Here, we see the spirit of pride. David wanted to 'know the number of the people' (2). Why? He wanted to feel important – 'the big man'. He was not giving the glory to the Lord. He was taking it for himself. Did God give up on David – 'a hopeless case, too full of himself and his own importance'? Of course not! The Lord, whose 'mercy is great', drew David back to Himself. David confessed his sin – 'I have sinned greatly…I have done very foolishly…I have sinned and I have done wickedly' (10,17). David was accepted by the Lord – 'The Lord your God accepts you'. He was brought from pride to praise (23,25). This is what God has done for us. We are 'accepted in the Beloved' – 'to the praise of His glorious grace' (Ephesians 1:6).
31st May: Proverbs 10:23-11:11
'With his mouth the godless man would destroy his neighbour' (9) – This kind of thing is going on all the time! There is no respect for the 'neighbour'. An easy target, he is treated with contempt. He is slandered without mercy. It is not without reason that God's Word says to us, 'The tongue is a fire…With it we bless the Lord and Father, and with it we curse men…My brethren, this ought not to be so' (James 3:6-10). God knows what we are like. We 'destroy' people with 'the tongue'. It is character assassination. What drastic effects this kind of thing can have: 'a city…is overthrown by the mouth of the wicked'! Can the blessing return again? God's Word is clear – 'By the blessing of the upright a city is exalted' - , but we must learn to speak and live as 'the upright' and not as 'the wicked' (11).