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June 16, Day 168 – Honesty with Humility

Today we come to 2 Samuel 23:8-24:25 where we find a list of David’s heroic, mighty men (verses 8-39), and then we see, in chapter 24:1-25, that David incites “the anger of the LORD,” when he takes another census of “the fighting men that he might know how many there are” (verses 1-2). In the first section, David identifies the names and exploits of those “mighty men” who supported, encouraged, and stood by him in all his battles – mostly against the Philistines – although references include the Moabites and Egyptians (cf., 20-21). This list includes some names that are familiar to us (i.e., Abishai, Joab, Asahel, and Uriah). In the second section, we see that Joab opposed the census and tried to dissuade David from taking it (verse 3). However, “the king’s word overruled, so Joab and the commanders left the presence of the king” to follow his orders (verse 4). In his actions – whether good or bad – the king is always a picture of the sovereignty of God as He rules in the affairs of men, and this means that God – Who is eternally righteous and good – also has the final say. Here, we see that “the census took nine months and twenty days” to conclude (verse 8), and its result showed 1.3 million “able-bodied men who could handle a sword” (verse 9). Why did David need to know this? Given conditions in Israel at that time, we wonder if David could actually place that number of swords into their hands (cf., 1 Samuel 13:16-22). After counting the men, “David was conscience-stricken and he said to the LORD, ‘I have sinned greatly in what I have done’” (verse 10). This census was a lapse of David's faith. The LORD gave David three options for punishment – “three months of famine … three months of flight from his enemies … or three days of plague” (verses 13-16). David preferred the mercy of the LORD’s hand to that of men’s … “so the LORD sent a plague” (verse 15). David purchased the “threshing floor of Araunah and built an altar to the LORD so that the plague would be stopped” (verse 21). Significantly, Araunah’s threshing floor is the same exact place where Abraham offered up Isaac and – later – the same spot where Israel’s temple would be built.

Psalm 74:1-9 questions the possibility that God has “rejected” His people “forever.” To Asaph, it appeared thus, but from the Word of God, we know that God does not reject those who legitimately seek Him in faith (cf., Jeremiah 29:13). The only people God rejects are those who reject Him. Although the light of revelation may “appear” to grow dimmer and further removed by one’s increasing disdain toward God, His offer cannot be snuffed out before one’s physical death. Receding from the light of a star doesn’t take the star away; it only dims the effectiveness of its light. God’s offer of eternal salvation stands - up to the moment of physical death, after which, God’s rejection of an unbelieving individual is final, permanent, and only then does it become “forever.” God is ever-present and desires fellowship with us, but the knowledge and assurance of His Presence is contingent upon our response to Him, His Word, and His Spirit. We have no right to His acceptance or His Presence other than what He freely extends to us through His mercy and grace. At times, if/when He “appears” distant, we must grant Him the right to be God - Who does not answer to us. We must also ask ourselves - how/why did I get away from Him? We are simply His humble followers, not His commanding leaders. He wants our honesty, but He wants it with humility.

In Acts 9:32-10:23, we see Peter’s healing of Aeneas in Lydda. Then, in Joppa, Dorcas, “who was always doing good and helping the poor” (verse 36), became sick and died, but Peter came to her and prayed. He commanded her to “get up, and she opened her eyes and sat up” (verses 39-40). The text informs us that the healing and the restoration resulted in people “all over turning to and believing in the Lord” (verses 35 and 42). Coming to chapter 10, we see that Cornelius, a Gentile Roman Centurion, and Peter, a Jew, each had separate visions of God that would result in bringing the two men together. In Peter’s threefold vision, God was revealing that His purposes in salvation included the Gentiles: “Do not call anything impure that God has made clean” (verse 15). Peter was “wondering about the meaning of this vision” when Cornelius’ men arrived – sent by God. Tomorrow we find out what happens next …

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I love how “Vermeer’s Process #2” is still faithful to the original - with its planes, shapes, and lines. It still evokes the same calm and quietness that the “Milkmaid” does, even without facial expression. It is still very peaceful, and I think that’s hard to create with just shapes. Interesting!

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