"On every page of the God-breathed writings are many thoughts that stretch out like long, clear arms of light across the darkness, discovering things otherwise hidden and illuminating wider areas than those of the immediate context. They are searchlights. From a multitude of these, I have selected one in each chapter of Scripture, for at least one central thought in every chapter should arrest the mind and affect the life," wrote G. Campbell Morgan, a wise, warm-hearted, careful Bible teacher who conducted a classic 3-year chapter-by-chapter study called Life Applications from Every Chapter of the Bible. Here are the fruits of that timeless study—summarized, illustrated, and amplified—on all 66 books of the Bible (posted one book at a time, cumulatively).
2 Samuel 2:1 "David inquired of the Lord." David knew the hour had come for him to begin the work God had anointed him for: reigning over God's people. He knew intimately all the story of Saul; he knew the very fact of a human kingship in any form meant the people had lost their chief Glory. Therefore from the very beginning, David recognized the Lord as the true King, and took no step of any kind without inquiring His will. He asked first whether he should go into any of the cities of Judah since he and his men were still at the outskirts of Philistine territory, and when commanded to do so, he asked which city specifically. This was a true beginning and as long as David continued inquiring, he made no mistakes. Whatever blunders he made later came from acting on his own initiative. This principle is fundamental and perpetual. The fact that a man or woman is called by God to a specific work never sets that individual free from the necessity of consulting God about the next move. The Lord is always available to those whom He calls to work for Him in any way. Therefore it is never a waste of time to stop and pray to know and do God's will. That time is worst than wasted in which any man or woman tries to serve God without having first sought from God in His Word and prayer His specific will in even small details.
2 Samuel 3:1 "David grew steadily stronger, but the house of Saul grew weaker continually." How much is involved in that statement! The king chosen and anointed by God, under the guidance of God, moved quietly forward to full realization of the divine purpose for him. But the fact that he was not able to come at once to the position for which he was elected reveals the effect produced by past failure. The Kingdom of God had become the kingdom of Saul, still seething with elements of strife and consequent weakness. Saul's spirit of antagonism toward David was perpetuated in Abner, who was Saul's cousin and captain of his army. He was actively opposed to David so he sought to perpetuate the line of Saul through Ish-bosheth, Saul's surviving son. Thus the kingdom was not yet David's in the sense of full possession. It had to be gained and 7 years passed before he was crowned king of the whole nation. Nevertheless, he gradually gained ground while his opponent lost it. Two applications emerge: the first is that the divine purpose is always making headway, however much circumstances may seem to the contrary. The second is that we need the patience to endure, knowing that the way to victory is by both conflict and persistent faith.
2 Samuel 4:9 "As the Lord lives, who has redeemed my life out of every adversity." In this chapter we see the weakness of the house of Saul. Abner was dead, slain deceitfully by Joab (David's cousin and captain) in an act strongly denounced by David. That sad fact robbed Ish-bosheth of the little strength he had, which tempted two wicked servants of his, Baanah and Rechab, to seek David's favor by murdering their master and bringing his head to David. To them David uttered the words highlighted, revealing his profound sense of the Lord's living presence and purpose through all his difficulties. For that reason he would have no part in activities of subterfuge and injustice to secure the ends appointed by God, so those treacherous men were justly executed. This is the true attitude of faith, the opposite of the devilish doctrine that the ends justify the means. While it is true that God overrules all the doings of men and women, compelling them ultimately to serve His high purposes, it is equally true that no one may ever consent to do evil that good may come. This is a truth we do well to remember and apply in the smallest particulars of our life and service.
2 Samuel 5:7 "David took the stronghold of Zion (that is, the City of David)." This was the first act of David after he was crowned king of the whole nation. Thus Jerusalem became the capital, the great center of the religious and national life of the people of God. This stronghold was considered impregnable by those who held it, and up to David's moment they had been able to resist every attempt to capture it. So sure were they that it could not be overcome that in taunt they told David their lame and blind citizens would hold it against him. David turned that taunt back on its head and successfully took up his abode in what became known as the City of David. What strange vicissitudes Jerusalem has passed through over 3,000 years since then! To it, in the fullness of time, the true King came. He came to His own, but His own did not receive Him. Then with tears He pronounced its doom under the Romans, and predicted that Jerusalem would be trampled by Gentiles until the times of the Gentiles are fulfilled. In the last century it was held by a Gentile power on trust for the ancient people of God, and became the capital of an official Jewish state in 1948. In His own time, the King will come to Jerusalem again and it will be the center of His reign. There is a sense in which, though David took it from the Jebusites, Jerusalem has never yet been possessed as the City of God. There have always been forces there that men could not cast out. The Lord Jesus Christ will yet dispossess those forces and reign there with God's people in righteousness.
2 Samuel 6:7 "He died there by the ark of God." King David was mindful that his nation was still, in the deepest fact of its being, a Theocracy, and that the Ark of the Covenant was the central symbol of that fact. He therefore made arrangements to bring the Ark out of its obscurity during the reign of Saul and into the heart of his new capital city. A startling thing happened, however. Contrary to the instructions given long before by Moses, the Ark was placed upon a cart for conveyance. The oxen drawing it stumbled and a man named Uzzah, daring to stretch forth his hand to steady the sacred symbol, was immediately smitten with death. This vindication of the Divine Majesty affected David with feelings of anger and wholesome fear that stopped him from going forward with his purpose. For three months the Ark rested in the nearby house of Obed-edom. We are told that "the Lord blessed Obed-edom and all his household" (2 Samuel 6:11). What an arresting contrast! A man daring to lay a hand upon the Ark of God contrary to the Law of God was instantly killed; a man reverently receiving it, living in right relationship with all that it represented, was blessed in himself and in all his affairs. The Ark was the instrument of death or of life, according to the attitude taken toward it. This is true of other divine matters. The messengers of the Gospel of Christ are to their recipients either "an aroma from death to death" or "from life to life" (2 Corinthians 2:16). All conveyers of God's grace bring either blessing or cursing, depending on whether the attitudes of the men and women toward them align with God's revealed will or are contrary to it.
2 Samuel 7:20 "What more can David say to You? For You know Your servant, O Lord God!" In these words David submitted Himself to God's revealed will. He wanted to build a house for God now that the Ark was carried to Jerusalem in the way that honored His Word. So sensible did this seem to the prophet Nathan when David expressed his desire, Nathan told him to go ahead and do all that was in his heart. It was not, however, the will of God that David carry out that work so God sent Nathan to deliver a message neither in agreement with David's desire nor his own opinion. This chapter reveals the triumph of both Nathan and David in their ready submission to the declared will of God. The prophet unhesitatingly delivered his message, even though it contradicted his own expressed view. It takes courage and character to do that kind of thing. David immediately acquiesced to the will of God and worshiped. We know his desire was not wrong in itself because Solomon, referring to this matter years later at the dedication of the Temple, explained, "The Lord said to David my father, 'It was in your heart to build a house for My name; you did well that it was in your heart'" (1 Kings 18:8). It was God's will for Solomon to build that house and, much more important, for God to build an everlasting house for David through "His Son, who was descended from David according to the flesh, and declared to be the Son of God in power according to the Spirit of holiness by His resurrection from the dead, Jesus Christ our Lord" (Romans 1:3-4). It is of the utmost importance that we always test our desires, even the highest and holiest. The passing of time will always vindicate the wisdom of God's revealed will.
2 Samuel 8:15 "David administered judgment and justice to all his people." This short chapter summarizes how the kingdom was developed and consolidated under the reign of David. It first records victories he gained over the enemies of his people: first the Philistines, then the Moabites, and then the Syrians. Apparently, the house of the Lord remained on David's mind for though he knew he was not permitted to build it, he gathered treasure in preparation for the work of his son. The chapter ends with a brief account of certain officers of state that demonstrates how the internal condition of the kingdom was strengthened. The central words of this record are those highlighted above, which make it clear that David sought the well-being of his people and served them by administering "judgment and justice to all." Thus he fulfilled the true function of the kingly office by accurately representing the one true King. As long as continued to reign like that, David was able to strengthen the nation in all the highest senses. His failure as a king came when he departed from those principles by exercising authority from selfish motives. In proportion as appointed rulers govern according to God's revealed will, they achieve the true ends of their authority. When they forget or neglect it, they bring disaster to those under them and eventually undermine themselves.
2 Samuel 9:1 "Is there anyone still left of the house of Saul to whom I can show kindness for Jonathan's sake?" There is an exquisite tenderness about the story of this chapter. David's love for his friend Jonathan was still fresh. In the days of his growing prosperity, it appears he often would think of the old strenuous times and of his dear friend's loyalty to him under circumstances so full of stress and peril. For David, the house of Saul, which had caused him so much suffering, was redeemed by his love for Jonathan. That is what motivated him to inquire if anyone was left to whom he could show kindness for Jonathan's sake. This inquiry led to Mephibosheth, whose childhood tragedy was mentioned in 2 Samuel 4:4. On that terrible day when his father and grandfather died on Mount Gilboa, he was snatched in haste by a nurse obviously fearing danger, but suffered a serious fall that left him lame in both feet. Mephibosheth was living in humble circumstances and now old enough to have a son about the age he was then. David not only restored to him all the lands of Saul, but also set him as a regular honored guest at his own table. David's own expressed desire was to "show the kindness of God" (verse 3). He remembered and honored these words Jonathan uttered long ago to seal a covenant between them: "If I am still alive, will you not show me the lovingkindness of the Lord, that I may not die? And do not cut off your lovingkindness from my house, not even when the Lord cuts off every one of the enemies of David from the face of the earth" (1 Samuel 20:14-15). We see David here as a man after God's own heart, keeping his promise to his loyal friend before God and heaping benefits upon those who would ordinarily be counted as political enemies. This was indeed the kindness of God that we do well to imitate.
2 Samuel 10:12 "Be of good courage, and let us be strong for our people and for the cities of our God. May the Lord do what is good in His sight!" This was the language of highest patriotism. The difficulties had arisen from a courtesy David showed to the neighboring country of Ammon, whose new leader responded to it with cynicism and extreme rudeness. That led to hostilities that drew in the Syrians to gang up with the Ammonites against David. David’s nephew Joab prepared to lead against Syria from the north and his nephew Abishai against Ammon from the south. The highlighted words are what Joab said to encourage his brother before this two-front war began. Observe the elements of patriotism as revealed in them. The first matter was personal to those called upon to fight: they were to be courageous and to act like men by being strong. Our chapter reveals they well fulfilled that responsibility, but a deeper note is struck in what follows: they were to do this for their people and the cities of their God. Their efforts were not for personal aggrandizement, but for God and His people. Then came the deepest note of all: when in the interests of the nation they did all they could, they trusted the Lord to do what was best in His sight. Men and women who prepare themselves like this for high enterprise and then commit themselves wholly to the will of God are invincible.
2 Samuel 11:27 "But the thing David had done displeased the Lord." This statement comes at the end of the chapter describing David's tragic moral failure, and before the chapter detailing his forgiveness. It emphatically places on record God's displeasure. In the light of that statement, we observe what happened in rapid succession. First, David "stayed at Jerusalem" (verse 1), but it was a time of war and the true place of the king was with his army. Instead of going with them, he remained behind and so in the place of temptation. That is not to say conditions of peace are more perilous than those of war, but that any place other than that to which duty calls is truly dangerous. From this, events moved rapidly downward: "he saw," "he inquired," "he sent for," "he took." The king fell from moral purity to defilement, and then because one sin leads on to another, he fell lower still and was guilty of base injustice to Uriah. Even more fittingly in his own case than of Saul and Jonathan's might his words concerning their deaths be employed: "How are the mighty fallen!" (2 Samuel 1:27).
2 Samuel 12:13 "I have sinned against the Lord." About a year passed before Nathan was sent by God to confront David, for Bathsheba's child was born a little before he came. We can imagine what that year had been like for David, and that the message from God must have come as a relief to this troubled man. It was at this juncture that the best in David became apparent: he at once confessed. Other men who had been guilty of such failure might have defended their actions and killed the man who dared confront him. Not so with David because He knew God and therefore knew the wrong of his actions. If we carefully read Psalms 51 and 32, we shall know how deep was his sense of sin. The readiness of God to pardon the man after His own heart is radiantly set forth in this chapter. When David said, "I have sinned against the Lord," Nathan replied, "The Lord also has taken away your sin." Note the "also." A man puts away his own sin when in sincerity he confesses it. That makes it possible for God also to put it away. The divine putting away of sin is made possible potentially by divine atonement, but it becomes the actual experience of the sinner only when the sinner confesses and puts it away from himself through faith in Jesus Christ.
2 Samuel 13:37, 39 "David mourned for his son Absalom every day.... He was consoled concerning Amnon's death." What tragedy there is in those two sentences! Amnon was David's firstborn. He had fallen into sin after the pattern of his father's. Absalom took it upon himself to plot his brother's murder to avenge his sister Tamar of the wrong Amnon did to her. Absalom them became a fugitive in the land of his grandfather's relatives since Israel provided no cities of refuge for murderers. When David himself heard about Amnon's sin, we are told that he was very angry, but not that he took any disciplinary action, which naturally tempted Absalom onto what proved to be an escalating path of sin for the rest of his life. Our highlighted verses hint that David would treat Absalom as softly as he did Amnon, with similarly disastrous results. Perhaps David felt he rendered his own arm nerveless by the sin of the past. A very solemn consideration arises out of all this. Sin may be forgiven and the sinner reconciled to God, but its results run on in this life, especially with relationships. How careful must we therefore be! To the end of our earthly life we shall find how true it is that "God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, that he will also reap" (Galatians 6:7). Is that not, upon reflection, an indicator of the beneficial character of God's rule? If in our world forgiveness meant that men and women were released from all the results of sins committed in the past, even that blessing would become the occasion of yet more disastrous consequences.
2 Samuel 14:14 "God ... plans ways so that the banished one will not be cast out from Him." This was the supreme argument employed by the wise woman of Tekoa at the instigation of Joab to persuade David to reinstate Absalom. It is a perplexing story that does not tell us why Joab was determined to get Absalom back to Israel without punishment. One thing clear is that our highlighted verse is one of the most beautiful truths ever stated about God: the whole of redemption is revealed in this simple sentence. Man is banished from God by his own sin, and that most righteously, so is necessarily banished in the perfect order of all things. Nevertheless, the banished one is not abandoned by God. His love is unchanged toward the sinner, even though His wrath is kindled against his sin. This is the love that will not let us go. But how can the banished one be saved from being an outcast? The answer here is that "God...plans ways." In the fullness of human history we learn how much that statement is worth. Literally it says that God "thinks thoughts," thoughts of both holiness and love that combine to devise the way of rescue, salvation, and restoration for banished souls. The thoughts of God became thoughts of self-emptying, of sacrifice, and of bearing the penalty for the wrongs of the banished one. Thus through faith in Him guilt is cancelled and the way of return made clear.
2 Samuel 15:30 "David went up the ascent of the Mount of Olives, and wept as he went." These were days of poignant sorrow for David. He had Absalom brought back, but had not given him full pardon or allowed him to see his face for two years. Then he readmitted him to his favor without any sign of repentance on Absalom's part. What better recipe for rebellion could there be? Now at last it had broken out and David became exiled from his own home and city, yet his greatness was on display, especially his patience, generosity, cleverness in protecting his people, and deep trust in God. In that light it is likely the tears David shed on the Mount of Olives were those of humility and penitence rather than self-centered regret or self-pity. For Absalom there was no excuse, but David carried in his heart his own sense of sinfulness yet of his vindication by God. To know more the mind of David during those days we have Psalms 3, 4, 26, 27, 28, 62, and 63. They all breathe the spirit of perfect trust in God and unbroken confidence in ultimate deliverance, even though his circumstances were extremely painful and brought on partly by his bad choices.
2 Samuel 16:11 "Let him alone and let him curse, for the Lord has told him." Sorrows multiplied upon the head of David during these dark days, sometimes quite literally. This chapter mentions two people from the house of Saul who used this opportunity to hurt David. The first is Ziba, Mephibosheth's servant, who tricked his lame master by leaving him behind in Jerusalem and following after David, saying that Mephibosheth hoped he would profit under Absalom's rule when really it was Ziba who temporarily profited by telling that hurtful lie. The second is Shimei, who flung dirt and stones at David and his entourage as they passed by, cursing David and vengefully gloating over his misery. David's nephew Abishai wanted to take speedy vengance on Shimei, but David forbade him with the highlighted words. Only a man after God's own heart could have uttered them. Shimei's words and deeds were wicked, but David recognized the very hand of God in what he did so far as his own soul was concerned. He received the cursing of that wretched man as part of the discipline through which God was bringing him. He expected that good would come out of it, as his next words reveal: "It may be that the Lord will look on the wrong done to me and repay me with good for his cursing this today." This is a radiant illustration of the deep and inward peace given to any man or woman living in fellowship with God in motive and desire. Such a person will receive all the sorrows that come to him or her as within the will of God and therefore intended ultimately for good and not evil. This sense of divine overruling will also cleanse the spirit of all desire for revenge. The New Testament rephrases the main principle like this: "We know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God" (Romans 8:28). Not all things are good, but those who love God (and only them) have the promise that bad, good, and everything in between will work together for their ultimate blessing.
2 Samuel 17:14 "The Lord had ordained to thwart the good counsel of Ahithophel so that He might bring calamity on Absalom." These words stand out revealingly at the center of strange and complex intrigue. Absalom is seen listening to two counselors. Ahithophel gave him shrewd military advice that would surely have given success to Absalom's rebellion, at least for the short term. David and his men on the run were were weary and had not yet time to organize so Ahithophel wanted Absalom to strike now and strike hard. Hushai, hoping secretly to protect David, gave counsel that successfully appealed to Absalom's well-known vanity. He advised him to assemble a grand army and march out at the head of it to gain a glorious victory. That, of course, gave David and his experienced men the time they needed to set a trap for Absalom's army. Amid the complexities of human cleverness, the will of God is seen moving inexorably forward to accomplish His high purposes. God used Absalom's true nature to act in accordance with itself to bring about his utter defeat. This is one of the great principles of life that the Bible emphasizes and illustrates on every page: men and women cannot escape from God. They go their own way, but that way never sets them free from the authority and invincible power of God. Any way apart from God is always the wrong way and cannot lead to success.
2 Samuel 18:33 "Would that I died instead of you, O Absalom my son, my son!" Following Hushai's advice, Absalom delayed until he had gathered together a great army. That strategically was his undoing since David and his mighty men were now ready for them. Their forces met and fought exactly where David wanted: in the forest of Ephraim. Absalom was slain there and buried with dishonor by unscrupulous Joab, even though David clearly ordered for him to be dealt with gently. Joab's action was understandable from the standpoint of national security, but it broke David's heart. Everything in the story leads up to this highlighted wail of anguish over his dead boy. Five times David repeated the words "my son." More than a half-conscious repetition of words occasioned by personal grief, perhaps this father was truly realizing how much he was responsible for his son. It's as if David says, "Absalom is indeed my son: his weaknesses are my weaknesses, his passions are my passions, his sins are my sins." Out of that growing conviction came the deepest cry of all: "Would that I died instead of you!" Here surely David reached the profoundest moment of his suffering. May none of us ever experientially enter into its awful consciousness! In order that we may not, we need to ponder the whole story carefully to learn the solemn lessons it teaches about parental responsibility.
2 Samuel 19:30 "Oh, let him take it all, since my lord the king has come safely home!" This was the language of a glad heart. Mephibosheth had known the kindness of God through David when a regular place was made for him at the king's table. How he had suffered during the sad days of the king's forced absence from his own city! In his deep sympathy for David, he "neither cared for his feet, nor trimmed his mustache, nor washed his clothes, from the day the king departed until the day he came home in peace" (2 Samuel 19:24). Mephibosheth's suffering had been all the more acute because he had been prevented from accompanying his benefactor into exile by the treachery of Ziba, the servant who slandered him before David. Now Absalom's rebellion was over and David was able to return to his house. That was joy enough for the crippled son of Jonathan. He was willing for his enemy to have all the material things he gained by his lies. It was everything to him that his king should possess his kingdom in peace. What does this teach us about true loyalty? We who love the Lord have been given a place in the House of our King, at His table, in infinite grace—figuratively now, literally later. Is it more to us that He should have His rightful place than that we have even the things we have a right to because they are the King's gifts to us? Too often we are more concerned about our rights than about His. May our loyalty and love make us far more concerned about the victories of our Lord, as befits the attitude of all who sit at the King's Table.
2 Samuel 20:1 "We have no share in David, no inheritance in the son of Jesse; every man to his tents, O Israel!" This was the cry raised by an evil man who sought to divide the kingdom and create a position for himself. He cleverly disguised his intentions by tempting his countrymen to protest against a relatively minor social snub from the men of Judah. The roots of the trouble are in the previous chapter. Although the tribes of Israel were the first to propose escorting the triumphant king back to Jerusalem, David's tribe—Judah—beat them to it as a matter of ethnic pride. On the way at Gilgal the tribes met and tempers flared. Occasion invariably finds a man for evil as well as for good, and our chapter introduces him with these words: "A base fellow happened to be there." Sheba was seeking personal aggrandizement so he took advantage of the situation. This new rebellion was defeated by the relentless Joab, who acted swiftly to quell the insurrection. Sheba's rallying cry teaches us that popular and plausible catchwords ought to be received and acted upon with great caution. Often there will be an element of truth in social complaints, but careful attention should be paid to the character of the men and women who voice them. Base, wicked agitators often make a just cause the occasion of seeking not its being made right, but bringing about some evil design that will subvert the highest interests of the people who complain. The fact that the Judahs of this world commit social blunders is no reason for kingdoms and governments to be disrupted. Injustice is never corrected by a yet deeper wrong.
2 Samuel 21:15 "David became exhausted." In these closing chapters of 2 Samuel, several matters are dealt with, not always chronologically but more as illustrations of the times that have been under consideration. These final records give further revelations of the direct government of God, two psalms of David that focus on God's character, and accounts of the great deeds of David's mighty men. The verse highlighted describes what happened during a battle near the end of David's reign. Fresh trouble arose from their old enemies the Philistines, who perhaps were emboldened by the internal rebellions David recently endured. Down went David with his army to fight against them, but he was no longer physically the man he had been. While in the fray his strength gave way and had it not been for the timely aide of his cousin Abishai, he would have been killed by one of the giant Goliath's descendants. This manifestation of weakness drew forth an expression of love from his people, who declared that he should no more go out to battle with them, lest he "extinguish the lamp of Israel" (verse 17). Thus at last all the strongest servants of the Lord come to the days of failure in physical strength. They can no longer endure the campaign; their old energy is no more. Happy indeed are those who in the days of full service find such a deep place in the hearts of God's people, their love gathers around them in thoughtfulness and care. Let those who, after long service, find themselves waning in strength be content to abide with the people of God, shining for them as a lamp to help them carry on the same divine enterprises. Such action in the last days of life is also great and high service.
2 Samuel 22:2 "The Lord is my Rock, my Fortress, and my Deliverer." In this chapter and the next we have two psalms of David, fittingly included in his life's story, for in them the true character of the man is strikingly revealed. The first, recorded in this chapter, is essentially the same as Psalm 18. It has six main divisions: 1. The Lord is declared to be the source of all strength (verses 2-4). 2. All deliverances are attributed directly to Him (5-16). 3. Such deliverances come when His people obey His Word from the heart and live righteous lives as a result (17-25). 4. A central principle of life is declared: God is to man what man is to God (26-28). 5. David gives personal testimony to the truth of what he declared (29-46). 6. He naturally concludes with a doxology, singing His thanks and praise to God (47-51). Such convictions as these of the absolute sovereignty of God, His omnipotent power to deliver, the necessity for personal righteousness flowing from heartfelt obedience to God's Law, and the assurance that God will deliver His people when they follow Him—all this constituted the underlying strength of David's character. In the opening sentence, highlighted above, notice the personal nature of David's theology. All that this godly man celebrated in song was more than theory; it was experience. He had found the Lord to be indeed Rock, the sound foundation of his faith; Refuge, the safe place on the Rock; and Deliverer, the One who always guards the Refuge.
2 Samuel 23:5 "He has made an everlasting covenant with me, ordered in all things, and secured." According to the chronicler, this is David's last psalm, his last literary legacy to us. It has no equal in the Book of Psalms. In verses 1-4 David describes in exquisite language the true ideal of the godly ruler. Verse 5 hints that he has not realized that ideal, but declares nevertheless that God is supremely faithful. Verses 6-7 are full of fire, solemnly pronouncing the fate of the wicked. This great man of faith, reaching the boundary of life where burdens are laid down, looks back over the way he has come and realizes that God's covenant with him has not only been kept, but has been "ordered in all things and secured." In God's dealings with His people, there are no mistakes, no lapses. Nothing has been permitted in our lives that has not been designed to serve the highest purpose. That is true even of our failures if, like David, in true repentance we have confessed and forsaken them. It is certainly so of all our sorrows and trials. Believing that our song at the end will celebrate this truth, happy are we to the degree we live now with this confidence. If we then expect to sing, "Right was the pathway leading to this," let us today sing, "Right is the pathway leading to that" so we may antedate heaven's joy and strengthen earth's pilgrimage.
2 Samuel 24:14 "Let us fall into the hands of the Lord, for His mercy is great; but do not let me fall into the hands of men." The Book of 2 Samuel closes with one final story revealing God's direct government by visiting the king and nation with punishment for numbering the people. A census is not wrong in itself and was commanded two times in the Book of Numbers, but we know this one was wrong from David's consciousness that it was so after he insisted on getting it done. Joab was aware this census had resulted from a wrong motive, for he said to David, "Now may the Lord your God add to the people a hundred times as many as they are, while the eyes of my lord the king still see; but why does my lord the king delight in this thing?" (verse 3). Pride in numbers had taken possession of the king and people, who forgot what David wrote earlier: "Some boast in chariots and some in horses, but we will boast in the name of the Lord our God" (Psalm 20:7). That is a persistent peril to all times and people. The choice David made regarding punishment reveals his deep sense both of the righteousness and tenderness of God. He willed that the stroke to come would be from the divine hand rather than any intermediary. How right he was since the Lord's chastisements come with no trace of personal vindictiveness! They are all restorative in their purpose and benevolent in their execution. The tender mercies of the wicked are cruel, sometimes in their leniency and sometimes in their brutality. The punishments of God are always merciful, sometimes in their severity and always in their perfect justice.