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June 14, Day 166 – That Transaction Was Already Made

In 2 Samuel 20-21, we see “a troublemaker named Sheba – a Benjamite – who comes forward, blows his “trumpet, and shouts, ‘We have no share in David, no part in Jesse’s son! Every man to his tent, O Israel!’” (verse 1). From Saul’s tribe of Benjamin, Sheba is essentially a nobody with an ax to grind regarding the transfer of power from Saul to David. Notice the result of his revolt: “All the men of Israel deserted David to follow Sheba … but the men of Judah stayed by their king” (verse 2). Here, we see not only how easily and quickly “troublemakers” can arise and wreak havoc on righteous leaders, but also how fickle people can be to support them. Generally, people should not be trusted – especially people in crowds or groups. In verse 5, we read that Amasa “took longer than the time the king had set for him,” which is not good discipline for a military man. David sends Abishai and Joab to pursue Sheba all the way to Abel Beth Maacah – a “mother” city in Israel (verse 19; i.e., a “mother” city was a city with surrounding dependent towns). A wise woman of that city counsels Joab not to destroy the city in exchange for Sheba’s head (verse 22). Interestingly, the story ends with “Joab sounding the trumpet” (verse 22). In chapter 21, we see that there was “a three-year famine during David’s reign” (verse 1) because of Saul’s “blood-stained house for putting the Gibeonites to death." This incident is recorded no where else but here in Scripture. We recall that, earlier, Israel made a treaty with the Gibeonites (cf., Joshua 9), and God expected the Israelites to keep their word. To address this issue, “David sought the face of the LORD” (verse 1). To “make amends” (verse 3), David agreed to the Gibeonite requirements for vengeance by allowing them to take seven of Saul’s descendants and put them to death. “After that, God answered prayer in behalf of the land” (verse 14). Chapter 21 concludes with a brief description of four different battles which the Israelites fought against the Philistines.

Again, we see that Proverbs 14:25-35 contains excellent, practical truths that we should apply to our daily lives. We notice, for example, that “truth and truthfulness” are associated with salvation, and that security is bound up in “fear of the LORD” (verse 25-26). Such fear “turns a man from the snares of death” (verse 27). “Without subjects, a prince is ruined” (verse 28), thus, he is effectively, no longer a prince. And how many times in our lives have we all seen a “quick-tempered man” make a complete fool of himself? (verse 29). “Calamities do come” (verse 32), but the wicked hardly know how to deal with them … thus, “they are brought down” by their calamities. Here, we see that “wisdom reposes in the heart of the discerning,” and even fools know this truth (verse 33). “Righteousness exalts a nation, but sin is a disgrace to any people” (verse 34). We see the evidence for these truths ever and always before our eyes. Our nation – once known for its righteous acts – is now disgraced by its individual and national sins which are rampant.

In Acts 8, we see the follow-up of Samaria’s initial evangelization. Jesus started this ministry with the Samaritan woman at the well (cf., John 4). He was deeply interested in all kinds of people whom the Jews rejected. We see that Philip “went down to a city in Samaria and proclaimed the Christ … and they all paid close attention to what he said; there was great joy in that city” (verses 4-8). We read here that “Simon [the Sorcerer] himself believed Philip’s preaching and was baptized (verses 12-13). When Peter and John came to place their hands on the believers there, Simon offered them money for that ability (verses 14-19). But Peter rebuked him – “May your money perish with you!” (verse 20). The gifts of salvation are not available for purchase as they were all purchased already by the shed blood of our Lord – that transaction was already made at the cross – and it could not be duplicated or imitated. We are not told if Simon the Sorcerer later repented of his sinful attempt to purchase the Holy Spirit – only that he asked Peter to pray for him. But Peter did indicate that forgiveness was available for his sin. Further, we see that Philip’s sudden ministry to the Ethiopian eunuch was also effective. Interestingly, Christianity in Ethiopia has existed since the early days of the church – perhaps due to Philip’s ministry to this eunuch. As a boy, I remember when the then-emperor of Ethiopia claimed publicly to be a believer, but I don’t know how faithful he was to our Lord or His Word. Our readings today reveal the importance and effectiveness of the Old Testament in evangelism.

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