Category: 2 Samuel

Chosen By God

“Now that you know God — or rather are known by God…” ~Galatians 4:9

Paul is using Old Testament language in this passage. “Known by God” is the same phrase used in the Greek translation of the Old Testament for the way God knows Abraham, Moses, David, Jeremiah, and the nation of Israel. The Bible says they are all known by God. And that phrase is mostly used of very important people at very critical junctures in the story. To be known by God is to be chosen by God. It’s God acting on your behalf. It’s God choosing through no merit of your own — you’ve done nothing to deserve it — to bless you and work in you and through you in his salvation story.

The point is that God is the prime figure. He’s the main actor, the initiator. God determines the appropriate time for his Son to come (Galatians 4:4). God sent his Son (4:4). God sent the Spirit into our hearts (4:6). God made us his heirs (4:7). Paul is pointing to what happens when you are grabbed by God, when God’s attention is focused on you.

The Bible is consistently clear on this. Salvation always begins with God, not you.

“There is no one righteous, not even one; there is no one who understands, no one who seeks God. All have turned away, they have together become worthless; there is no one who does good, not even one… No one will be declared righteous in his sight by observing the law… Righteousness from God comes through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe. There is no difference, for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus.” ~Romans 3:11-24

People don’t seek God; God seeks people. Humans are so caught up in their sin, they’re so in love with their sin, they don’t seek holiness and righteousness on their own. God always has to make the first move. “We love because he first loved us” (1 John 4:19).

“The one who loves God is known by God.” ~ 1 Corinthians 8:3

In Genesis 18, God promises to bless Abraham and make him a great nation and save all people of the earth through his family. Why? “For I have known him.” God speaks to his people through the prophet Amos and reminds them, “You only have I known of all the families of the earth; you only have I chosen.”

God promises David that he will be king and that all David’s enemies will be defeated and that David’s family will reign on the throne forever. And David’s a little shook up. This is overwhelming news and David feels sort of inadequate. And he prays to God:

“Who am I, O Sovereign Lord, and what is my family, that you have brought me this far? And as if this were not enough in your sight, O Sovereign Lord, you have also spoken about the future of the house of your servant. Is this your usual way of dealing with people, O Sovereign Lord?” ~2 Samuel 7:18-19

What David knows about himself and about the throne, what David knows about God, is confusing and incomplete. Who am I that this is happening for me? Why am I so chosen and so blessed?

“What more can David say to you? For you know your servant, O Sovereign Lord.” ~2 Samuel 7:20

The answer is simple and profound and comforting. You know me. You chose me. That’s first. And that’s more than enough.



The King Is Coming

King Is ComingIn 2 Samuel 19, the king is coming back to Jerusalem to re-establish his sovereign rule over God’s people. He had voluntarily left his throne in order to save his people. He had been mocked and ridiculed, cursed and humiliated on his way out of town. But now he’s coming back. And he’s coming back to set things right.

And Ziba and Shemei are scared.

They’ve spent their lives cursing the king, using the king’s blessings to fatten their own purses, taking advantage of the king’s kindness, deceiving the king. Coming to the king and the king’s people with false motives, impure hearts, seeking personal gain at the expense of the kingdom. Hypocrites. Shemei openly curses the king. Ziba claims allegiance to the king, but lies to him. That’s even worse. The apostle John says we do the exact same thing when we say we love God but we don’t love our brother. When we confess Christ as Lord but live lives that deny him. Those sins are deserving of death. Eternal death.

But look at the mercy of the king. Be amazed at the grace and the love and the compassion of the king. Shemei and Ziba bow down to the ground, they confess their sins before the king — sins that deserve under the law to be punished by death — and the king forgives them. He promises on oath they will not die. And he stops his men from even discussing the possibility.

Is it any wonder that the Almighty God of Heaven and Earth calls David a man after his own heart?

You know the King is coming. And if you have sin in your life, you should be greatly concerned. But if you bow down to the King, if you confess to the King, if you submit fully to the King…the King forgives. And when the King returns, you meet him with joy and gladness, not fear.

The great news for us is that the King WANTS to forgive. He wants full reconciliation. He’s not willing that any should die. He wants desperately to welcome every man and woman he’s ever created into his eternal Kingdom. God sent his Son to “reconcile to himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through his blood, shed on the cross.” Through Jesus, God is “reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting men’s sins against them.”

God wants you. And he’ll go to whatever lengths necessary to get you.

He died to save you.

And he’s coming back.

He promises us in John 14 he’s coming back. The angels told the apostles in Acts 1 he’s coming back. The closing words of our holy Scriptures assure us the King’s coming: “He who testifies to these things says, ‘Yes, I am coming soon.’ Amen. Come, Lord Jesus.”

Are you ready?


March Madness — The Legacy basketball team (“Team Dyniewski” or, my favorite, “TohuBohu”) made its debut last night in the North Richland Hills recreation center with an impressive 52-49 win over a bunch of guys with real uniforms. Josh Dyniewski and Aaron Green provided the muscle, combining to score at least 40 of our points inside the paint, while the rest of us just tried to stay out of the way.

Several keys to the impressive victory:

1) the decision to play a 2-3 zone defense. The decision was made as the teams were facing off on the court for the opening tip. Nice. Nevermind the fact we had never played anything but a man-to-man defense in our twice-weekly pickup games here at Legacy. Nevermind the fact that we had never even discussed the possibility of playing a zone before. It worked. Mostly.

2) Josh’s six-straight made free throws in the final 90-seconds. Sealed the deal. Clutch.

3) Aaron’s sending two of our opponents to the hospital with leg injuries. OK, I’m exaggerating a bit. But Green was a monster down there.

4) Trey Thornton using all five of his fouls. Coker will be proud.

5) Going with the Carolina blue Champion dri-soft jerseys. Did I mention they were numberless? That’s a problem in this league. So we had to don the city’s junior-high pinis over our shirts. Elastic down. Not flattering. They actually serve to accentuate middle-age girth. I wanted to wear mine upside down. They wouldn’t let me. We looked like a bunch of rejects who’d been bussed in from somewhere far, far away. But apparently they worked like a charm. We didn’t turn in Josh’s pini after the game. We’re going to have it framed and hung up on the wall at the Rufe Snow Chick-Fil-A. Nobody can ever wear #9 again.

1-0, baby! We might have to discuss the construction of a huge Legacy trophy case at Thursday’s elders meeting.



Convenient Sacrifice


While reading a commentary on 2 Samuel last night, I came across this prayer written by Joe Seremane in 1998 in his book Celebrating One World. Seremane is a social justice activist (so is God). Unlike God, Seremane is an African.

I tell you that only to disclose that, yes, I understand the context of this prayer. But I understand this plea to our Father as also completely appropriate in the context of our church families here in America. Maybe, specifically, in our suburban, upper-middle class churches in America.

The call from our Savior is to a life of sacrificial service to others. Be like Jesus. Give up everything I have and give it to other people. And that’s hard. It’s harder for some of us than it is for others. But our adherence or lack of adherence to that command doesn’t lessen its preeminence for us as disciples of Christ. The call is to a constant sacrifice, not to a convenient sacrifice. It’s not to an act of service when it’s convenient.

The call is to sacrifice for and serve others when it’s not convenient. When it’s hard. When the very last thing you want to do is forget about your self and your own needs and give everything to the needs of those around us. There was nothing convenient about Jesus’ suffering and death for me. Gospel evidence shows me he was looking for a Plan B, for another way. But he did it. Because it is the only way.

Apply this prayer to the way you live in your church. The way you act within your Small Group. The kind of wife you are. The kind of son you are. The kind of co-worker you are. The sort of neighbor you are in your community, your school, your subdivision. Pray this prayer. Be challenged by it. Be changed by it. Be blessed by your renewed commitment to our Father to be shaped by it.

You asked for my hands
that you might use them for your purpose.
I gave them for a moment,
then withdrew them, for the work was hard.

You asked for my mouth
to speak out against injustice;
I gave you a whisper that I might not be accused.

You asked for my eyes
to see the pain of poverty;
I closed them, for I did not want to see.

You asked for my life
that you might work through me.
I gave you a small part, that I might not get too involved.

Lord, forgive me for my calculated efforts to serve you
only when it is convenient for me to do so,
only in those places where it is safe to do so and
only with those who make it easy to do so.

Father, forgive me,
renew me,
send me out
as a usable instrument
that I might take seriously
the meaning of the cross!

Who Am I, O Sovereign Lord?

who am I?In 2 Samuel 7, the recently-coronated King David decides he’s going to build God a house. A temple. A beautiful temple worthy of the Almighty Yahweh. But the Lord speaks to David through his prophet, Nathan, and says, no, you’re not going to build me a house, I’m going to build you a house.

And then God goes into great detail about all the things he’s going to do for his servant David.

I’m going to make your name great. I’m going to cut off all your enemies. I’m going to give you and all the people you rule rest from your battles. I will always be with you just like I’ve always been with you in the past. I’m making your name among the greatest in the world. Your sons, your family, will rule forever. I’m making you a dynasty.

And David is blown away. He’s completely amazed. It’s almost as if he doesn’t understand.

“Who am I, O Sovereign Lord, and what is my family that you have brought me this far? And as if this were not enough in your site, O Sovereign Lord, you have also spoken about the future of the house of your servant. Is this you usual way of dealing with man, O Sovereign Lord?”

Who am I? I’m a shepherd boy. I’m insignificant. I’m small. I’m human. I’m fallible. And you’re doing all this for me? Who am I? Are you kidding me? I’ve done nothing to deserve your great favor. I’ve done nothing to merit your marvelous gifts. I’ve done nothing to earn your rich blessings. I can’t live up to your glorious promises. Who am I? Is this how you treat everybody?

And, praise God, the answer is “yes!” Yes! This is how God treats man. In all our selfishness. In all our pride. In all our sin and rebellion and denial. In all our inclinations to evil. While we were dead, while we were enslaved, while we were paralyzed, while we were enemies of the Creator of heaven and earth, he reaches down in love and mercy and saves us. He rescues us. He’s with us. He lifts us up. He restores us. He blesses us. He forgives us. He protects us. He provides for us. He meets every one of our needs—and then some!—according to his glorious riches through Christ Jesus.

And like David, we realize that, through his great descendent, Jesus our Lord, we are given immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine according to his power that is at work within us. More than all we ask or imagine. Some of us realize it much sooner than others. It takes some of us a long time to see it. To recognize it. I’m not sure any of us will ever fully understand it this side of glory. But once we at least recognize it, our lives are changed forever.

“How great you are, O Sovereign Lord! There is no one like you, and there is no God but you.”