Friendship 

MTS-3217

Friendship

“Is there anyone still left of the house of Saul to whom
I can show kindness for Jonathan’s sake?”       2 Sam 9:1

 

     Jonathan and David were close friends when they were both young and relatively innocent,
when they were still quite idealistic and without guile. Jonathan was a prince,
but his status in the nation didn’t seem to have any bearing on his friendship
with the shepherd boy who was recently brought to the palace to serve the king.
Both of them had noble souls and were drawn to each other by a mysterious force
and a strong bond was formed.

     The friendship between the two was indeed quite disinterested. Being the king’s son and the
heir to the throne, Jonathan appeared to have more to give within the
relationship than his friend, but this mattered very little to both of them.
Friendship wasn’t all about giving and receiving of any tangible things; it was
about fulfillment of one’s deepest longing to be known, understood, and
appreciated.

     I have checked Facebook quite often lately, for I long to see a thumbs up sign at the bottom
of the poems that I have posted. It doesn’t seem to take any effort for my
friends to post a video clip, but praises are surely hard to come by. The more
I post on my blog or Facebook, the more I feel misunderstood and
under-appreciated.

     Do I long to have a friend like David had in Jonathan? Probably not. Maybe I just want to
know that I am not totally alone in this world and there are people who are
just like me who enjoy reading and writing poetry.

    Part of David died with the death of his friend and life would become a lot less enjoyable. There would be
no more pleasant walks along a country road and no more intimate talks over a
cup of tea or a hearty laugh over a glass of wine after an evening meal.

    Was there regret in David’s heart? The king was growing old and had probably given up the idea of finding
someone to replace Jonathan. He had one shot at the bliss of friendship and it
lasted for a short season and was gone. There was nothing he could have done to
make friendship stay and he just had to learn the important lesson of letting
go. Losses are inevitable in life and all we can do is learn to cope.

    Isn’t this way too pessimistic and morbid? Isn’t there anything we can do to make love stay?

    There wasn’t anything he could have done for the deceased; but David could still do something kind to the
living. Therefore he started to search for Jonathan’s offspring to whom he
would like to express some kindness to remember the dead. By doing so, David
was able to extend his friendship with Jonathan far beyond the portals of
death.

    I guess there are things that lovers can do to make mortal love immortal and temporary affection eternal. It
means nothing to the dead, but can be quiet meaningful to the ones who are left
behind. 

   

  

    

Tuesday, February 28, 2012 7:13:00 AM Categories: Devotional

Valley of Salt 

MTS-3216

Valley of Salt

“And David became famous after he returned from striking
down eighteen thousand Edomites in the Valley of Salt.”        2 Sam 8:13

 

     How was it possible to slaughter so many people with swords and spears? I was wondering.
In the Valley of Salt eighteen thousand Edomites were struck down by Israel in
just one great battle. How horrific it was! It was likely that most of the dead
died a slow and agonizing death, since very few of them were killed instantly;
they merely bled to death slowly. It’s just a number to us when we read the Scripture
record, but each one of the deceased was a son, a father, a friend, and a
husband, and they all left behind a small circle of loved ones who mourned for
them.

     The Israelis were not particularly crueler than their Gentiles neighbors who were vying for
control of the land. Living in a land with very limited resources, to survive
was to fight and only the fittest got to live and to tell the story. I am sure
the Edomites themselves had done a lot of slaughtering as well, and had they
won the battle, most of the Israelis would have been chopped down in the Valley
of Salt just the same.

     How do we make sense of all the killing recorded both in sacred and secular chronicles? When
God’s people were engaged in deadly campaigns against the Gentiles nations,
tribes people from both east and west were pretty much doing the same thing.
Life expectancy was extremely short during that time and quite a big percentage
of young men must have died in battles.

     When did we lose the glorious image of God and turn into beasts who devour one another just
to survive for another day or year? Isn’t that what beasts do to one another to
secure their own survival? When God was seemingly absent from the world, people
appeared to believe that all things were justifiable in the name of survival.

     War is hell and the world has become hellish because every corner of the earth seems to
have been stained with human blood. How can we sever the deadly chain of hatred
and restore the world to its original state when peace and harmony reigned?

     David was greatly lauded by his own people, for he had scored a big victory for them and the
king became more and more famous. The shepherd lad from Bethlehem appeared to
have cemented his reputation by the blood of his enemies, which might have been
abhorrent to God since the Almighty would never have been pleased with the death
of the dead. God would have chosen life for his creatures if it were in any way
possible.

     God didn’t choose death for his people; they chose it themselves. The wages of sin is
death, isn’t it? The Lord seemed to allow all the deaths to take place for a
season and when the right time came, he sent his only Son to die on the cross
to abolish death once and for all.       

       

     

Monday, February 27, 2012 7:03:00 AM Categories: Devotional

Victory 

MTS-3215

Victory

“The Lord gave David victory wherever he went.”

            2 Sam 8:6

 

     It was military victory to which this verse was referring. This was the golden era of
Israel as a nation when they were able to conquer their surrounding nations and
force them to pay Israel annual tributes. Indeed victory belonged to the Lord,
and David wouldn’t have had so many military successes unless the Lord was with
him every step of the way. I need to clarify one thing, however:  the Lord was by no means favoring warfare or
bloodshed over peace and harmony, even though he did grant the Israelites one
victory after another. The Lord isn’t a God of dissension; he is a God of
peace. Even in the midst of wars, the Lord still prefers peace among people and
nations.

     When wars become necessary, the Lord always supports the party which sides with justice and
mercy. During the wars between Israel and the Gentile nations, the Lord didn’t
so much favor the chosen people; he was actually acting in accordance with his
attributes. In this aspect, the Lord does take side in conflicts among nations
and, in most cases, being on God’s side stands the best chance to ultimately
emerge victorious.

     Victory belongs to those who walk with the Lord and whose inner thoughts and outward
actions are upright and pure.

     I doubt the Lord will go with us if we intend to go to Vegas to gamble, for what we desire
to do is in direct conflict with his character. Do we feel the Lord seems to be
absent when we engage in some sort of sin? “Blessed are the pure in heart, for
they shall see God.” We can only see the Lord if we live within his countenance
and we can see the light in his light.

     No doubt we are engaged in spiritual warfare daily and our triumph is assured if the Lord
is on our side and fighting on our behalf.

     David’s army wasn’t necessarily more formidable than all their foes, but they were able to
win battles because the purity of their worship, not because of their military
might. It was an impossibility for the Lord to stand side by side with
idolaters who put their children through fire in honor of their gods.

     “The Lord gave David victory wherever he went.”

     There is absolutely no victory for those who surrender to their enemies and yield to
their tyranny. Some of us may find it easier doing what our carnal selves tell
us to do and often take the path of the least résistance in our walk with the
Lord. By submitting to the evil one and doing his bidding, Satan is happy to
leave us alone, for such people are safely in his fold. As long as we make sure
that the Lord is on our side and continue to fight against the evil power of
the air, our ultimate victory is guaranteed

 

                

Friday, February 24, 2012 7:03:00 AM Categories: Devotional

King Zobah 

MTS-3214

King Zobah

“…when he went to restore his monument at the Euphrates
River.”

               2 Sam 8:3

 

     King Hadadezer was being attacked and was defeated soundly by David’s men when he went out to
the river bank to supervise the restoration of his monument. He was probably at
the peak of his military and political might at the time and was becoming more
concerned about his legacy than maintaining his power as a king. He went to the
Euphrates to restore his monument, which he deemed quite urgent at the time,
not knowing that something far more important than that was demanding his
attention. He was about to be assaulted by a formidable army.

     Are we occupying our time and energy with erecting our monument in this world,
neglecting to take care of the things that are far more essential than
maintaining our legacy and reputation?

     It must have taken quite a bit of time and energy for King Zobah to build up his little
kingdom and his main concern at the time was to leave it to his children, but
before he did that, he intended to keep his name and heroic deeds alive by
giving his monument a new coat of paint and making it a tourist attraction. The
king was well aware of his mortality and erecting and maintaining his monument
was the only way he knew to keep his name fresh in his subjects’ mind after he
was no more.

     What kind of monument are we building by which our children can remember us?

     King David must have completely demolished Zobah’s stature after he brought the pagan king
to his knees; therefore any vestige of his life was erased from the face of the
earth. I suspect we cannot find a lot written about this man when we thumb
through the chronicles of famous men. We may find his name among the long lists
of kings and queens, and nothing more.

     I pray that we are not into monument building like the rest of the people in this world. What
we are constructing daily is a different kind of monument that is invisible to
the world but visible to the Lord, a monument that is decorated with the full
armor of God and with a shining cross at the top.

     We do have a choice where to lay each brick that the Lord gives to us each day. We can cast
aside all the building materials and make them into a useless pile or compile
them into a building beautiful and nice, revealing to the world that we are
God’s faithful daughters and sons. They may not be glamorous in people’s eye
and very insignificant compared to other famous sights, but only the Master
Builder realizes the sweat and thought behind all our earthly endeavors and the
final product of our life-long effort.

     Why does it matter, I ask, since all earthly things will be burned at the end and
only the tasks done for the Lord will survive th

Thursday, February 23, 2012 8:14:00 AM Categories: Devotional

Randomness 

MTS-3213

Randomness

“Every two lengths of them were put to death, and the
third length was allowed to live.”       2 Sam 8:2

 

     After Davidand his army defeated the Moabites, he had all of enemies lie on the ground and
measured them off with a length of cord and killed all of them except the ones
who happened to fall on the third length of cord. There are many places in the
Scriptures that puzzle me, but this verse may be one of the more difficult ones
for me to comprehend. Why did David do such a cruel thing to the Moabites?

     Was it because he had difficulty figuring out who to kill and who to spare among the Moabites
he had captured, therefore he came out with this random way of selecting the
ones to kill? If he desired to show mercy to his enemies, why didn’t he just
spare all of them? I suppose he decided to spare one third of his enemies and
it was the best way to calculate.

     The randomness of this selection still abhors me a great deal. What David was dealing with was
human life, which was precious in God’s sight. It wasn’t some sort of game the
king was playing.

     What were the Moabites thinking when they were prostrate on the ground, waiting for the sword
to fall? All of them were expecting death, since it was a common practice for
victors to execute their enemies. They were thrilled when they realized there
was a slim chance that their lives would be spared, but one out of three was
still a very strong odds against them, as far as one’s life was concerned. Most
of them simply closed their eyes, waiting for the inevitable as the sound of
footsteps drawing closer and closer to them.

     O the dread of death and the zeal for life! How did it feel to be lying there, counting the
minutes before their heads fell? What were the Moabites thinking during those
critical moments when the Israelites were measuring their lives off with a
cord? How did they prepare for death? Did they pray to their gods for mercy for
themselves or for the loved ones who would be left behind?

     How do we prepare for the inevitable?

     One third of the Moabites’ lives were spared that day and they lived for another month or
another year, but lives would have been extremely difficult, for they surely
would spend the balance of their lives as slaves, laboring in the fields for
their masters. Did those surviving Moabites have any envy for their companions
who were executed while they were still being tortured by their masters? Some
twenty or thirty years later all of them would have been dead and all things would
be equalized. It mattered very little whatever manner they lost their lives,
since a good death was still death.

     Was David playing a joke on his hated enemies? It was indeed inhumane and cruel, but the
Moabites would have done the same thing, if not worse, to the Israelites had
they emerged victorious. Things such as this will continue to take place in the
world if we don’t eliminate the root cause of our inhumanity toward other men.           

 

     

Wednesday, February 22, 2012 6:58:00 AM Categories: Devotional

Good Things 

MTS-3212

Good Things

“Your covenant is trustworthy, and you have promised
these good things to your servant.”     2 Sam 7:25

 

     “Would you rather have a happy family or a successful career? You can only choose one of
the two,” I asked David during supper time last night.

     He pondered about this question for a while and ended up not giving an answer. It surprised
me, for I thought the response was quite simple.

     “Why can’t he have both?” Kathy jumped in, trying to help David a little bit.

     I guess the high school student who was staying with us had trouble responding to the question because he deemed having
a successful career very important, even more important than having a happy
home. Perhaps he felt having a happy home was a given and it would take great
effort to build a successful career.

     What were the good things David was referring to in his prayer?

     It is obvious that the king was speaking about God’s blessing his children and that his
kingdom would remain forever, which are indeed good things. Not only did God
endow David with a kingdom, he also promised that his children would succeed
him and the kingdom would last. What else could a man have asked?

     Did those good things have any eternal significance?

     Our relationship with the Lord should always precede the benefits we may receive from him, be
they physical or spiritual. What we need the most isn’t the gifts; we need the
Giver. We put the cart before the horse if we only seek blessings from the
Lord, but don’t seek the Lord himself.

     Solomon inherited his father’s kingdom, but he did not get his father’s heart;
therefore the throne really didn’t do the man any good except giving him some
earthly power and vain glory.

     I don’t really envy David’s kingship, albeit I am sometimes tempted by earthly power and
glory, but I do covet his heart for the Lord. My greatest desire in life is to
become a man after God’s own heart; and my biggest fear is I may turn into a
man who lusts for worldly pleasure and gain.

     The photo of Steven Jobs holding an IPad seems to me so hollow and empty, for I doubt the
man was thinking about all he had accomplished when he was standing before a
big crowd, applauding his great accomplishment. It was hardly a good thing to a
person who was struggling to regain his health. What would have truly been a
good thing for him at the time? A cure for his illness.

     If there truly is a final judgment, what will the good things be when we stand before the
judgment throne of God? A thing is only good if we still consider it good when
we stand before the portal of death, and it remains good after we cross the
river, assuming that we are still aware of things then. A thing is good only
it’s good eternally.     

    

 

    

Tuesday, February 21, 2012 7:12:00 AM Categories: Devotional

Promise 

MTS-3211

Promise

“Do as you promised, so that your name will be great
forever.”                    2 Sam 7:24

 

    God always keeps his promises, but oftentimes we make a mistake by considering something
to be his promise, when it really isn’t.

    God isn’t beholden to us nor does he owe us anything. He pours his mercy upon us not for
our sake, but for his own sake, for he is by nature loving and gracious.

     “Are you saying that God simply can’t help loving his creatures?”  Here is a sticky question.

God is love and he can’t do anything that is contradictory to his attribute, but it doesn’t mean that he
does not have other options available to him as far as loving his children is
concerned. There are thousands of ways by which he expresses his love to his
children, many of which we may not appreciate.

Was it love when God took something we treasured away from us? Was it love when our hearts were broken to
pieces and life seemed to be so unbearable? Was it love when we experienced
sorrow so excruciating beyond what we could bear?

Do as you promised, Lord, we
pray.

It’s crucial, however, for the Lord to show us what his promises are so that we will know exactly when his
promises come true and will not grumble or start to question God’s love for us
when seemingly unloving things take place in our lives.

The greatness of God’s name should not be based on our interpretations of his actions in our daily lives.
How we perceive him on the basis of what has happened to us has nothing to do
with his greatness or lack thereof. God is by nature great and his reputation
will not be enhanced or impaired in any way by our perception of him. Let’s not
fool ourselves by considering otherwise.

God’s name is great forever, no matter what we do or how we perceive him. He was great before he created the
first man and will remain great when the last man perishes on earth.

O the divine self-sufficient, who can fathom?

The things we have done for the Lord may actually have been done for our own sake without us knowing it. To
love God is in reality to love ourselves and to serve the Lord is actually
“self-serving,” for we feel the most fulfilled when we fulfill God’s will and
feel the most complete when we complete what God has designed for us to
accomplish.   

What are God’s promises for us then?

He is the most glorified when we are the most satisfied in him. I came across this idea somewhere. The
promises he has made to us are actually the ones he made to himself and, as
long as we do his will faithfully, all his promises will come true and we will
find true fulfillment in life.   

 

 

  

 

 

Monday, February 20, 2012 6:47:00 AM Categories: Devotional

His Very Own 

MTS-3210

His Very Own

“You have established your people Israel as your very own
forever, and you, Lord, have become their God.”           2 Sam 7:27

 

     The Lord is God over all, but he is yet to become your God. The universal God must become a
personal God to you so that the fact may turn into a reality in your life.

     Our perception of God does not in any way change God’s attributes and he still exists
eternally even if we don’t believe that he exists. God loses nothing if we
don’t love him, but we lose all things by not loving him.

     Why is it so hard for people to submit themselves to him? Why do people continue to wrestle
with him? Aren’t we all like Jacob, whose sole goal in life was to grasp
something for himself?

     Did God stoop to conquer us and make himself so small so that he can be recognized by our
timid minds and arrogant hearts? Do we treat him as if he was a mere man, since
he became a man?

     Why does the Sovereign care about me as if there was a void in his heart to be filled by my meager
presence?

     He was wooing me because I was beautiful, wasn’t he? There must be something really desirous
in me that made him pursue me so persistently, I fancied.

     I had great difficulty surrendering to him, for I was so afraid that he would completely overpower and
possess me and I would lose my entire self and turn into a non-entity. He was
coming toward me fast, and I ran away from him ever faster.

     I was a mere phantom that was drifting aimlessly in the air and fancying myself as something
solid and important. I was holding my present yet dreading my future, for I
could see nothing beyond my limited horizon. I desired to soar in the air as
free man, yet I was grounded on earth by my selfishness and sins.

     I am sure God had absolutely no use for me in his household. What did I have to contribute
toward his kingdom? In reality, I could easily have become quite a burden to
him with my loathsome presence.

     Why did he still come to me so persistently and so deliberately, as if there was something
in me that was worth his pursuing? Why didn’t the Lord give up the effort to
bring me to his house, since I had no intention of submitting to him?

     Ah, he was the father and he wanted me to become his son.

     What God intends to do, he will achieve, and he will never violate our will to rush the
process, for he is eternally patient. Therefore he will come after us
persistently and deliberately until we turn around and say “yes.”

        

    

      

     

Friday, February 17, 2012 7:07:00 AM Categories: Devotional

This Far 

MTS-3209

This Far

“Who am I, Sovereign Lord, and what is my family, that
you have brought me this far?”         2 Sam 7:18

 

     David must have often looked with great amazement and wonder at how his life as a lowly shepherd
had transpired. He couldn’t help thinking while he was sitting on the throne about
the days when he was tending his father’s sheep in the wild.

     “How could this be?” he exclaimed.

     It seems quite impossible for someone’s life to turn out as David’s did, if we look at his life
from a human point of view. He didn’t come from a prominent family and he was the
most insignificant one among his brothers. How could such a humble person
become a king over a nation?

     The shepherd boy was by no means ambitious, nor did he dream big dreams. In fact, David
would have been quite content being a shepherd his entire life, for his
greatest joy was meditating on the goodness of God and he would have had ample time
doing just that being a tender of sheep. He didn’t aspire to go all that far in
his life, yet the Lord decided to take him as far as he could go, both
physically and spiritually.

     David would have had a lot of leisure cultivating his relationship with the Lord and his
intimacy with God would have been greatly enhanced had he remained a shepherd
his entire life, but that wasn’t what the Lord had planned for David’s life.
The Lord had something in mind for David to accomplish with his life and no one
was able to keep it from happening.

     I used to dream about doing great things for the Lord, which naturally involved me
becoming well known in the world and well recognized by my peers, for my
perception of greatness was pretty tainted by worldliness. My idea of becoming
great in the Lord was no different from achieving greatness in the world.

     How has the Lord brought you thus far?

     David had never envisioned himself becoming a king over a nation and most likely did not aspire to become one, yet the Lord
made him one without consulting him. Although he had become a king, I think
David still viewed himself as a shepherd in many ways. His outward circumstances
surely had changed, but his inner self remained unchanged. David had gone
thousands of miles from his old self, yet as far as his love for the Lord was
concerned, he remained the same person as before.

     Our circumstances may change constantly, but our love for God should remain
constant. Becoming a well known man would certainly do us harm if our status in
society caused us to perceive ourselves differently and to place ourselves
above all others. The weight of worldly glory may crush us and, if we are not
alert, we may be drowned by the waves of applause that rush toward us. 

     

       

         

Thursday, February 16, 2012 6:54:00 AM Categories: Devotional

God's Love 

MTS-3208

God’s Love

“But my love will never be taken away from him, as I took
it away from Saul, whom I removed from before you.”          2 Sam 7:15

 

     We tend to base our love on fleeting feelings and powerful emotions; but God grounds his
love for us purely on his will to love. God does possess powerful feelings and
strong emotions, but those elements are not the basis of divine love.

     We love more when we feel more, and love less when we feel less, but fortunately, God doesn’t
act like we do. His love for his beloved is steady and unchanging. He loves to
the end after he has determined to love, and will not change, no matter how
difficult the circumstances are.

     I was caught by surprise that the market was so crowded yesterday when I went to pick up
something for supper. It dawned on me that it was the day before the Valentine’s
Day and many men were hustling to get something for their wives or girl
friends. The weather was quite cold but spring was in the air and people seemed
to be ready for the first breath of love brought by a valentine.

     “Shall I get something for my wife?” I asked myself as I was walking down the aisle, trying
to find something.

     “Hey, we don’t celebrate Valentine’s Day,” Kathy told me yesterday at supper. Should I take
her seriously and do nothing for the special day? I pondered. What will the
consequence if I do nothing for her tomorrow? I remember thinking.

     Probably nothing. I thought. After thirty-one years of marriage, I think we have gone
beyond all the trappings that people consider essential to maintain romantic
and to keep romance glowing. I hope that our love for each other has advanced
far enough and has been converted into agape love that is not grounded purely
on feelings and emotions.

     Come to think of it, a dozen roses and box of chocolate candy on Valentine’s Day can only enhance our love relationship. It
may not do a whole lot to improve our marriage; but surely it doesn’t hurt,
does it? Maybe I should quit being stubborn and get Kathy a little something.
No matter how tawdry they are, the things we do to express our affection for
our beloved should always be applauded.

     King Solomon was a God-fearing king initially, but he became increasingly worse as he grew
older and was seduced into practicing idolatry by his Gentile wives and
concubines, which was quite appalling considering his upbringing. Yet even so,
the love of God was not taken away from him, for the Lord had long determined
to love David’s son no matter what the situation was. Solomon had changed over
time, but God’s love for him didn’t change.    

      

 

    

 

    

Wednesday, February 15, 2012 6:40:00 AM Categories: Devotional
Page 1 of 2 1 2 > >>
  • RSS

Statistics

  • Entries (1439)
  • Comments (0)

Categories

Archives