Psalm 31 & 35

I put myself in Your hands, Lord - rescue me!
I am in distress, and a reproach to my adversaries.
But "my times are in Your hand," I trust You, and You will repay the wicked.
So, love God, and take courage!

Fight those fighting me, Lord!
They are trying to take me down - former friends I wept with.  But now when I weep they mock and gloat.
Vindicate me, and shame those pursuing injustice against me.

How this is about Jesus
He quotes 31:5, as He is reproached Himself.  He trusts His Father to the last.
He sought vindication from His Father, though He seldom expressed it.  He got it in the resurrection and ascension.

When in distress, we are to commit ourselves to God and trust Him.
We can ask God to right wrongs done against us.  Vindication comes from God, not men.

John 11

In Galilee, Jesus hears Lazarus is sick.  He tells the disciples it won't "lead to death," and stays where He is for two days.  Then He heads for Judea, telling them Lazarus is dead.  The disciples are nervous about going so close to Jerusalem, where the leaders are hostile to Him.

By the time they get there, Lazarus has been dead 4 days.  Martha says Jesus could have saved Him, and believes in the resurrection, but Jesus says He IS life and resurrection.  Jesus weeps, seeing the family in such pain.  He calls Lazarus out after thanking God for hearing Him, and Lazarus comes out.

Many believe Him, but some report to the leaders.  Caiaphas openly says He should die to preserve the nation and their place.  (This is true in a different sense!)

Jesus hides out in the wilderness, with a warrant out for His arrest (vs 57).

It's never too late for Jesus to fix your problem or save you.
Jesus sympathizes with us in our grief.
His voice raises the dead.

Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life.  Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live, and everyone who lives and believes in me shall never die - John 11:26.

Psalm 27-29

God saves, so why should I fear man?
All I want is to live with God, see Him.  He will protect me.
I pursue being present with You, as You want.
Adversaries have arisen, but I believe I'll see God's goodness as I wait for Him.

Hear my cry for help, and don't let the wicked who don't regard You have their way with me.
God has heard me, so I rejoice.  He will rescue His people.

Give God the glory due Him - He is holy!
His voice is powerful and majestic, breaking cedars, shaking deserts, birthing forest creatures
God is on His throne - all cry out "Glory!" around Him.  He gives peace.

How is this about Jesus?
He is the recipient of worship in God's throne room (Rev. 5:8-13).  They give glory to Him.
His voice is powerful - John 5:28-29; Rev. 1:15.
He did not fear man when they mocked, intimidated and condemned Him (John 18-19).

Worshiping God happens in holiness - that of Christ.  We can only worship God in His name.
We must give God glory - it is due to Him.
We should fear and praise God for His power and tenderness shown in nature and in our lives.


Psalms 24-26

The earth is God's, since He made it.
Who can go up to Him?  The pure in heart.
The gates and doors of Zion stand up straight to receive the King of Glory as He enters!

I lift my soul to You in trust.  Teach me.  Forgive me.
God is a good teacher in ways that give life.
He gives pardon, prosperity of soul, and His friendship to sinners.
I am lonely and troubled - guard my soul, and redeem Israel from trouble.

Vindicate me, Lord.  I am not in unrepentant sin.  I reject evil.  I worship and love You.
Don't sweep me away with the unjust schemes of the wicked.

How this is about Jesus
He is the King of Glory!  All the earth is His.
Only He is good and pure.  We ascend to God in Him, because He ascended first.
25 - He lifted His soul to God in trust, and cried out in trouble, though He didn't need forgiveness.
26 - He walked with integrity and God vindicated Him at His resurrection.

  • Praise the King of glory by walking in purity.
  • Realize the prosperity of soul God is leading you toward (25:13).
  • Seek pardon and wisdom from God (25:4-7).  These are often synonymous.  When you repent, you are admitting your stupidity and failure.  When you seek counsel, it's admitting you aren't on track yet.
  • Though we are sinful in all that we do, there is a time to plead our innocence before God for what is happening to us: when we are falsely accused, and when we plead Christ's righteousness as our own.

Psalm 26:11 -
"But as for me, I shall walk in my integrity;
redeem me, and be gracious to me."

John 10

Jesus says He is the door for the sheep to enter safety, rest and home.
He is the shepherd who gives His life for the sheep against the wolves.
He knows the sheep and they follow His voice.
There are other sheep and He will unite them as one flock under Him.
I lay down My life by My will, asked by My Father, it's not forced on Me by others.

At the next feast, Hanukkah, Jesus is at the temple, and the Jews demand a plain yes or no answer if He is the Christ:
"I told you but you won't believe.  My Father has given Me the sheep that are Mine."
They want to stone Him for making Himself equal with God.  He quotes Psalm 82 to defuse this - God calls human rulers gods, so what's the big deal about God's ordained servant being called Son of God?  (The context of the Psalm also convicts them as unjust rulers - see Psalm 82:6-7).
They try to arrest Him and He leaves and goes to the Jordan River.

Many people keep asking questions about Jesus long after they have decided to reject Him as Savior and Lord (John 10:24).
He is God's ordained Shepherd of God's people.
We must follow Him, and heed His words.  He has our good interest as His purpose.
Go through the door to the Shepherd, or you are not of His flock.
Access to the food in the pasture, and to the safety of home, is through Jesus the door.

Vocation / Freedom / Hypocrisy

Gene Veith on vocation and duty

On the Indiana religious freedom battle a bit ago, and the cultural war - a more optimistic view!

Followup on the Duggar situation - what's hypocrisy?


Puritans on Atonement

Part IV: Christology
Chapter 23 - The Blood of Christ in Piety

Puritans focused more on sanctification, since earlier Reformers had already written much on the atonement.  This chapter looks especially at Charnock, Goodwin and Ambrose.

The remedy was ready before the injury occurred, Goodwin said.
Cleansing happens in three senses:
Objective - removal of guilt secured at the cross and resurrection.
Subjective - forgiveness sought at conversion
Sensible - justification felt as the conscience is eased and assured of salvation.

Method and Results of Cleansing
Substitution - Jesus takes our place, bleeding and dying for us, who should have.
Imputation - much like substitution from a legal angle.  God reckons our sinful stain to the account of Jesus, and reckons His righteousness to us sinners.  This "is possible throuh our legal and covenantal union with Christ" (362), just as our guilt was imputed to us from Adam's original sin.
Justification - God had a charge or debt against us, but Jesus paid and cancelled it - Col 2:13-14.  His payment involved not only His suffering and death, but His obedience to the Law for us.  "Not everyone agreed with this view, especially not the Socinians" (363).  [I believe there were several orthdox Puritans at Westminster who also disagreed, but Beeke/Jones give them no airtime at all, interestingly.]

Faith in the Blood of Christ
Faith receives the blood as an atonement for sin.  Faith is not itself the righteousness we need, but "reach[es] out to His blood" (Charnock, pg. 364).  Faith is more than an emotional response, and less than the thing that justifies us.  "The efficacy is in Christ's blood, the reception of it in our faith" (365).

Remembering the blood of Christ increases our repentance, faith, prayer, holiness and comfort.

Though we are not free of all sin on earth, we "may know victory through Christ's blood already in this life in terms of sin's 'condemnation and punishment' " (367).

Heaven is achieved by Christ's blood.

Mercy for us comes only by the blood of Christ, cleansing us from all sin.  So we should mourn our sins and treasure His blood.

Psalms 20-22

May God answer your cry for help.
He saves His people.
Trust in Him, not in armies or military might.

The king rejoices in God's strength.
God sets the king on His throne.
God takes down His enemies.

Why have You forsaken me?
Our fathers trusted You and You gave me life and faith.
But I'm despised and surrounded.
Save me, and I will praise You publicly.
All families will praise You.

How this is about Jesus

  • He is the offering God remembers (20:3).
  • He is the King God establishes - the King rejoices and trusts in His Father (21:1, 7).
  • He quotes 22:1 from the cross, describing His current humiliation, but also looking ahead to the glory coming (22:22, 27-31).

Trust God.
Rejoice in His goodness.
Tell Him your troubles.  Feel free to tell Him in detail!
And seek deliverance from Him.


Stay and Serve at Church / Fathering / Our Exile / Islam

Church is not there to serve you. You are there at church to serve others.

Good stuff on fatherhood here.

On thinking twice before bolting from a bad church.  As a church leader, I really liked the accurate description of how churches can mess up.  The argument for staying isn't to diminish the problems.

On Christians in exile in their own land, when secularism takes over.
"People who uphold a traditional moral architecture for sexuality, marriage, and family have gone, in the space of just twenty years, from mainstream conviction to the equivalent of racists and bigots.... So what do we do now?  Believers don't hav ethe luxury of pessimism, and the idea that we can retire to the safety of some modern equivalent of a monastery in the hills isn't practical or warranted."

Challenging Radical Islam
It's "simplistic if not misleading to argue that groups like IS and Boko Haram have nothing to do with Islam.  Nevertheless, it is equally misleading to argue that the jihadi groups represent the true face of Islam."  This one challenges many Western conservatives who castigate all of Islam as death loving, but challenges non-radical Islam more....

John 9

Jesus heals a man born blind.  The disciples want to know who sinned to cause the blindness, but the answer is neither.  The man and his parents get caught in the argument about Jesus.  Some say He can't be from God since He doesn't keep the Sabbath, healing on it.  Others say a sinner not from God couldn't do such things at all.  They ask the man healed, but don't believe him until they talk to his parents.  Then they try to get him to declare Jesus a sinner, but he reasons before them that He must be from God, so they excommunicate him.  Jesus finds him and invites him to Himself as the Son of Man.  The man worships Him, and Jesus says this is the judgment I came for - some will see and come to Me, while others who claim to see will reject Me and be blind.

When God does a great thing for us, it is left for us to accept it, believe, praise Him and tell others. 
Trying to explain it or figure it out on your terms is often a sign of unbelief.

When you sin or have stubborn unbelief, you really can't leave it alone.  You have to get others to approve of your sin or declare your unbelief along with you.

Psalm 17 & 19

My cause is just, my feet have not slipped.
My enemies show no pity and are eager to tear me apart.
Show me Your love and Your likeness, and I'll be satisfied.

God's world declares His glory and shows His glory and majesty.
God's Word is perfect and pure and precious.
Keep ME pure, according to it.

How this is about Jesus
Whenever you run across declarations of innocence (Ps. 17:3-5), we hear the voice of Jesus.
By the Word of God (Jesus) the heavens were made.  They show the glory of Christ.
Everything said about the Word of God in 19:7-11 also describes Jesus well.

When obstacles arise, our frustration should abate as we consider God and are satisfied with Him.

Psalm 17:15
As for me, I shall behold your face in righteousness;
when I awake, I shall be satisfied with your likeness.

Psalm 19:14
Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart
be acceptable in your sight,
O Lord, my rock and my redeemer.


John 8:12-59

Jesus starts an argument by asserting amazing things about Himself.
He is the light of the world.  You must follow Him.  His Father (God) sent Him.  You don't know God if you don't follow Him.  You'll die in your sins unforgiven, unless you believe in Him.  Following Him means knowing the truth, which will set you free.

They naturally ask who He is and where His Father is, not realizing He means God.  Their national pride gets in the way, thinking they aren't slaves, as sons of Abraham.

Now Jesus ups the ante.  You're trying to kill Me, because you are of your father the devil, not of Abraham.  If you knew God, you would love Me.  I'm speaking God's Words, but you don't listen and you reject Me because you don't know Him.  Name any sin you've seen in Me.  If you keep My Word, you won't die.  Before Abraham was, I AM.  (Exodus 3:14 - "And God said to Moses, “I AM WHO I AM.” And He said, “Thus you shall say to the children of Israel, ‘I AM has sent me to you.’”)

Their response:  you have a demon!  You think You're greater than Abraham?  You aren't even 50!  They try to stone Him, but He hides somehow, and leaves.

Texts like this prove C.S. Lewis' point that Jesus was either a liar, a lunatic, or the Lord.  We can't take Him as a good moral teacher without accepting Him as God.  He didn't just tell us how to live and live well Himself.  We have to follow and obey Him, or we're doomed.

John 8:1-12

Pharisees present a woman caught in adultery and demand an answer from Jesus, what should be done with her.  They don't care about her, they are out to trap and take down Jesus.  He writes in the dirt (see Jeremiah 17:13 below, note the living waters connects with 7:37-39) and says anyone without sin can throw the first stone, to call out their hypocrisy.  When they leave, He comforts and convicts her: you have no more accusers, but do not sin anymore.

Jeremiah 17:13 - "O LORD, the hope of Israel, All who forsake You shall be ashamed.  “Those who depart from Me shall be written in the earth, because they have forsaken the LORD, the fountain of living waters.” "

This passage is often used to assert that we should never accuse, charge or correct anyone with sin, since we aren't perfect ourselves.  But Scripture contradicts this in 1 Corinthians 5.

Accusations are often made for selfish reasons, when the intent of correction needs to be for the good of the person in sin.  "Brethren, if a man is overtaken in any trespass, you who are spiritual restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness, considering yourself lest you also be tempted." - Galatians 6:1


I will recount Your great deeds, Lord.
You upheld my cause and turned back the nations, my enemies.

How can I think my enemies will get me, and there's nothing I can do about it?
I'll take refuge in God, who is in His temple, testing the righteous, righteous Himself, opposing the wicked.

The faithful are disappearing and the wicked are multiplying.
But God will arise and save the poor.

How long will You hide from me, and not help me out of my funk, Lord?
But I trust You and will sing to You, because You have been good to me before.

Fools say there is no God.  No one understands or does good.
But when God saves, Israel will be glad.

Who can be with God?  The blameless, at peace with his neighbor, who despises vileness and honors God-fearers, the honest and fair.  God will establish them.

Preserve me, Lord!  The wicked have sorrow, but You've given me pleasant portion.  You instruct me in the night, give my heart joy, you won't let me rot in the grave, but set me on the path of life and pleasure next to You.

How this is about Jesus
Peter quotes Psalm 16 in his Pentecost sermon, pointing out that it can't have been about David, since his bones are there in Jerusalem.  This is Jesus talking!  Re-read the Psalms as if Jesus were singing them to the Father.

These become more relevant the more marginalized Christianity becomes in our culture.

Psalm 9:19-20
Arise, O Lord! Let not man prevail;
let the nations be judged before you!
Put them in fear, O Lord!
Let the nations know that they are but men!

Psalm 12:8
"vileness is exalted among the children of man."


Imperfect Christians in the spotlight

The Duggar scandal hits pretty close to home.  I have some strong views on this, given the sensitivity of the issue and pastoral experiences I’ve had with similar cases.  Here are some things I’ve learned, related to the Duggar case.  (I'm getting my info from here and here.)

There is a very strong temptation to cover these incidents up in unhealthy ways.
Josh’s dad Jim Bob did the right thing to involve the elders of his church, and he was sent off for mentoring.  But no one took it any further, even though some of the incidents were felonies.  I have no information on what follow-up contact for resolution was attempted with the victims.  Many in Jim Bob’s situation with a teen to parent would do the same thing he did.  I really commend him for telling his church leaders – that’s not an easy discussion to initiate.  But no counselors, no police, just a friend somewhere else.  It’s like getting a bad cut that needs disinfecting, but you know it’s going to hurt more so you don’t go to the doctor.  But that’s just when you need pastors and usually the state involved.  But due to the nature of the sin, a great deal of shame is involved, which leads to fear and maybe anger.

Many are out to make hay and take down Christians or anyone who speaks out on moral issues.
As I understand it, the incidents happened 12 years ago.  The tabloid broke the story this Thursday anyway.  It reminds me of biblical Daniel’s co-workers looking for any dirt they can find on him, to get rid of or discredit him.  This should not have been made public.  It breaks all rules of decorum and decency.  Though I think the Duggars should have gone to the police immediately, they had no obligation to disclose this once the statute of limitations expired.  Perhaps Josh did not need to resign from Family Research Council, either, assuming he resolved things with the victims.  (In theory.  I realize the PR makes it nearly impossible for him to stay.)

A little fly ruins the ointment
David’s sin with Bathsheba caused the nations to blaspheme God’s name.  So it is here.  The Duggars have been role models to emulate for many Christians, especially those who value large families.  But in the wider world, they are one more in a long parade of public Christian hypocrites.  This is sad, and unfair, but true, nonetheless.  It is quite convicting for every believer, to realize our choices can drag the name of Jesus through the mud.  This kind of sin is not unforgivable – we should affirm God’s grace in situations like these.  But public consequences can last a long time.

There is an honorable path through this if you’ve sinned

It will be embarrassing and awkward, but life is not over.  Josh did the right thing once this was behind him in a couple key ways.  When he got serious with his future wife, he told her and her parents (they are an important external accountability check for a young man seeking a wife.  See here for some good questions they should ask, especially #16).  Telling those with a right to know is very important, even though it was old news.  There’s a huge difference between a tabloid picking up old dirt to fling at you in print, and confessing yourself to those few with a right to know.  He offered to resign from his public position dealing with moral issues.

Christians keep shooting their wounded
Josh had done all he could to make it right, and moved on.  Because of this, taking the job at FRC was not inherently hypocritical.  Public figures dealing with moral issues are not perfect – that doesn’t make them hypocrites.  Otherwise we need to blame God for letting David stay on the throne after the Bathsheba-Uriah travesty.  The hypocrisy would be if he was unrepentant or covering up something he shouldn’t.

Prophet, Priest and King

Part IV: Christology
Chapter 22 - Christ's Offices and States

The Reformed and Puritan folks lean toward Nestorius in the debate between him and Eutychus.  Nestorius emphasized the two distinct natures of Christ (maybe overly separating them), while Eutychus emphasized the unity of His person (maybe not allowing enough distinction between the human and divine natures).  Puritans emphasized that Christ had two wills, not one.  One person doesn't require one "psychological center" (348).  This makes for a REAL change in Christ, from His glory to His state of humiliation on earth, especially in His knowledge and power.

The Lutheran view that some of Christ's divine attributes are communicated to His human nature doesn't work.  As God is simple, if one divine attribute is communicated to Christ's human nature, then all of them are.  This makes His state of humiliation only apparent.  The Roman Catholic view is different, but winds up with the same problem: He was given all He needed in His humanity from the beginning of His incarnation.  On these views, there was no "real development in Christ's human nature" (350), as Luke 2:52 and Hebrews 5 say, it was only apparent.

Christ as Prophet
This office wasn't just on earth, but He continues revealing God's truth to the church in glory.
As a mediator, God revealed truth to Jesus in His human nature, and Jesus then passes that on to us.  "If God did not reveal to Christ certain truths, then Christ as a true man, was ignorant of those truths" (351).  Which makes sense of Jesus saying He didn't know the day of His return, only the Father did.

Christ as Priest
He offers sacrifice and intercedes.  His sacrifice shapes His interceding mediation.  He doesn't mediate as a persuasive entreaty, like labor-union negotiations that might break down.  His intercession is effective and meritorious because of who He is, and because of the sacrifice He made.  The justification Jesus bought for us at the cross, is applied to us when He asks the Father for it.  Will Christ be a priest forever, as He will be a prophet?  Hebrews 7:17 seems to say so, but this is a role connected to the new covenant forgiveness of sins, and the need for that covenant ends at the consummation.  [I'm not sure I buy this: won't there be a kind of non-redemptive intercession Christ makes for us to the Father in the new age?]

Christ as King
The New Testament quotes Psalm 110:1 more than any other verse.  God gave Jesus a kingdom to rule, but Christ also had a natural kingdom from all time as part of the Trinity.  His given kingdom is spiritual (John 18:36), and He had to conquer to receive it, as it had been usurped.  Sitting at God's right hand is an "expression of the strength, power, majesty, and glory that belong unto Him" (356).  He reclaimed what He had laid aside or veiled while on earth.  Goodwin spoke of Christ's three fold glory: 1. His essential glory of divinity, 2. Incarnate glory as the "image of His person" (Heb. 1:3), and 3. His glory as head and mediator of the covenant of grace.  This last passes away when He hands the kingdom over to the Father (1 Cor. 15:24).  Still He will remain King forever (Rev. 11:15), ruling the world with the Father and Spirit.

So in one sense, Christ's role as prophet, priest and king will end with the consummation.  He will no longer mediate grace.  But in another sense, He will continue to convey revelation, perhaps intercede in non-saving or sanctifying ways, and rule as King of creation.


John 7

Jesus' brothers encourage Him to go to the feast, not really believing in Him yet.  They want more proof and public action.  Jesus demurs, but goes privately later.

When He teaches, the Jews are divided over Him.  He asserts He is from God and that doing good on the Sabbath is fine (you circumcise on the Sabbath, following Moses, after all).  There is no answer from the authorities, so the people wonder if He's the Messiah.  But they think they aren't supposed to know where Messiah comes from, and they know He's from Galilee.  Jesus responds that they don't know the one who sent Him.

They send to arrest Him, but the officers listen to Jesus and return without Him.  He claims to be the water we need. (On the last day of this feast there was a ceremony of pouring water by the altar.)  Some think He's the Messiah, others say Messiah is supposed to come from Bethlehem, and He's from Galilee!  The rulers get mad at the officers who return without Jesus.  They curse the crowd.  Nicodemus objects, and they shout him down with prejudice against Galilee - no prophet will come from there.  Nathanael was smarter than this (John 1:46-49).

Be careful seeking public vindication of Jesus before He says it's time - vss 1-9.
People are divided about Jesus, and have wrong ideas about Him - vss 10-31.
He is the source of what we need, not the traditions that comfort us a little - vss 37-39.

Psalm 7-8

If I've done what the enemy thinks I have, let them conquer me, Lord.
You are the judge. You detest and punish wickedness.
I will thank God and sing praise to His name.

All the earth shows Your majesty, even babes.
The heavens make me wonder why You set man in such an exalted place to rule over all of it.
God's name is majestic, and that's seen in all the earth.

How this is about Jesus
He was pursued unjustly, having done no wrong.
He is the Son of Man given all dominion.

When you are in disputes or dangers with enemies, examine yourself, and place your life in God's hands to judge.
Observing anything in the natural world should lead us to wonder and praise of God.


Psalm 4-6

Psalm 4
Answer me, Lord, for honor is turned into shame!
You know Your people, Lord, so I will not sin in my frustration, but offer sacrifice instead.
Many are cynical, and have given up on You, but You grant joy and peace to our hearts.

Hear me as I pray to You in the morning, Lord.
You can't stand the wicked and their ways.
I will worship You in the temple, as You lead me.
Let the wicked bear their guilt for rebelling against You.
Cover and protect those who seek refuge in You.

How long will you be so hard on me as I languish in my bed?
Deliver me; what's the point in letting me die?
I am weary from weeping so much.
God hears me, and will turn back my enemies from overwhelming me.

How this is about Jesus
He prayed to God early in the morning (Mark 1:35).
He worshiped in the temple, zealous for God's house.
He was in agony from weariness and weeping in Gethsemane.
I think He experienced sicknesses common to man (Ps 6:2).

Part of talking to God is asking for a response, asking Him to hear, pouring out your heart to him, letting your emotions go a bit.  We see David doing that, but not letting his emotions drive him.  Instead, always returning to the truth he knows about God.


John Owen on the Spirit in Christ's Ministry

Part IV: Christology
Chapter 21 - Christology

The Puritans had a distinctive take on the person of Christ.

The Reformed generally were different from Lutherans in this area, by emphasizing the distinct human and divine natures of Christ.  Lutherans say the properties of the divine nature of Jesus are communicated mysteriously to His human nature.  The Reformed reject that, saying instead that the finite human nature cannot contain the infinite divine nature.

The problem with the Lutheran or Roman view is, there is no need for the Spirit in the ministry of Christ.  His divine nature took care of it.  John Owen took an opposite and unconventional view that the Spirit worked ALL Christ's supernatural acts.  Owen wasn't alone in this, and it makes Christ's humanity more meaningful to us.  The Spirit helped Him just as He helps us, with no "superman" advantage from the divine nature.

It is important to consider this, as the person of Christ gives His work its meaning.

2 Samuel 23-24

David's last words: a just ruler is like sun and rain on a field.  Handle the worthless with care and firmness.  The deeds and names of David's mighty men are recounted.

God, angry with Israel, moves David to take a census.  David realizes his sin and repents.  He must choose a punishment and wants to be in God's hands, not men.  David sees the angel killing people at a threshing floor, and he cries out for mercy in the midst of the plague.  God through Gad tells David to raise an altar at that place.  David buys it at full price, and offers sacrifices there.  It is the future site of the temple (1 Chronicles 21:28-22:1).

How this is about Jesus
David is an exalted yet imperfect ruler, and knows it; Jesus brings perfection.
Jesus has had some outstanding disciples to great deeds - the giants of chcurch history.
Jesus intercedes for His people, with the costly sacrifice of Himself.

Just rule is to people what sun and rain are to crops.  Pursue it in the home, church and state.
David does not bring utopia to Israel.  God remains angry - an atonement is still needed: Christ.
Your sins can damage others greatly, yet there is a place of forgiveness.


Corporate Prayer / Berating Family / Gossip / Getting Mentored

This is a great read, by Mark Jones.
Pray more, and pray with other Christians.  Focus your thoughts above, where Christ is (Colossians 3:1-4).

Are you tempted to berate and belittle your children or your spouse?
"What kind of environment have I created where he feels he’s not allowed to make mistakes?"
"When did it become okay to constantly correct him and lecture him and point out every little thing I didn’t like as if he were making some kind of mistake?"

A basic and helpful piece on gossip.

Practical advice on cultivating mentoring relationships (without being awkward).

2 Samuel 21-22; Psalm 18

Famine comes to Israel.  David seeks God, and He says it's becauseSaul tried to wipe out the Gibeonite, in violation of Israel's oath made by Joshua.  David gives them 7 descendants of Saul to execute in retribution.  When the mother of some of them mourns publicly in protest, David brings the bones of Saul and Jonathan to their ancestral home and gives them a more honorable burial.

Israel fights the Philistines again, and David is almost killed.  He stops going out to fight, but his men carry on well, defeating giants.

Samuel includes a Psalm of David's, the 18th.  God delivered me from the distress of enemies foreign and domestic.  He fought for me, gave me strength and skill, and subdued foreigners to me.  So I will praise Him.

How this is about Jesus
He will bring about perfect justice, whereas now earthly rulers cannot.
He passes on His mission to His followers, though not because He has grown weak.
He praised God for His deliverance and mercy.

When things are going badly, it is good to ask God why?  Have I done something wrong?
It is not easy to satisfy conflicting interests, stay faithful to God's Word, and keep your promises to others, all at the same time!

Two Short Psalms

Psalm 64
The wicked are ambushing me with schemes.  But when God brings them down men will fear, and the righteous will rejoice.

Psalm 70
Don't delay to stop and shame those trying to hurt me.

How this is about Jesus
They tried to trap Him with words and take Him down, but when it seemed they had succeeded, He won His greatest victory.
They shamed Him on the cross, but in the end they will be ashamed.

These are meant to gowith 2 Samuel 20, I think.  When you're in trouble, cry out to God.
It's more important to actually cry to Him, than to hold your heart back from Him with "careful" prayers.  David calls his prayer a complaint, and tells God to hurry up.  Seems impertinent.  Irreverent, even.

John 6

Jesus feeds 5,000 with 5 bread loaves and 2 fish.  The crowd wants to make Him King on the spot, so He withdraws.  That night He walks on water out to the disciples, rowing in the boat.  The next day the crowd seeks Him and wants a sign that they are to believe in Him.  They recall the manna, and Jesus says God gave them manna, and God sent Him, the bread of life, too.  The crowd can't take this high claim, but Jesus ups the ante: you have to eat My flesh and drink My blood to live.  And it's eternal life; Israel died after eating the manna.  They grumble more.  Jesus ups the ante more: you will see Me ascend to heaven where I came from.  Many leave Him, but Peter says only He has the word of eternal life.

Do not doubt God's ability to provide.
Eat the food God gives you: Jesus.  Accept His words and seek Him for life.


2 Samuel 19-20

Joab gives a harsh but needed rebuke to David (after defying his orders in the last chapter!).
David sends a peace offering to Judah and Absalom's military commander Amasa, that he's willing to accept their invitation back to the throne peaceably.  They do it.  Shimei grovels, Abishai wants to kill him again, and David pardons him.  Mephibosheth says Ziba slandered him; David, foreshadowing Solomon with the two mothers, divides Mephibosheth's estate between them, and Mephibosheth shows his desire for David.

Israel and Judah dispute over who supports David more.  It gets so sharp Sheba calls for a rejection of David, again!  David tells Amasa to muster the army.  He takes too long, and David gives the job to Abishai and Joab again.  They meet and kill Amasa on the road.  Pursuing Sheba, they beseige a city.  A wise woman there stops the violence by having the city leaders kill Sheba.

How this is about Jesus / Application
The church is fickle, sometimes zealous for the Lord, other times willing to abandon Him for other would-be leaders.
The church will always have its Joabs, who are willing to take the reins and steer the ship of state where they want according to worldly wisdom, regardless of Christ's orders.  This leads to brother harming brother, which rightly disturbs and distracts the rest from carrying out their callings.
Mercy is better than vengeance and justice (Shimei).
Earthly justice is imperfect (Ziba).

John 5

Jesus heals a man lame for 38 years, by the pool of Bethesda.  He doesn't use the pool at all, which was the custom.  It was a Sabbath, and the Jews oppose Jesus because He was working on the Sabbath.  Jesus' response?  The Father has given authority to the Son, even to restore life to whom He will, and at the Son's command all the dead will rise at the resurrection.

John testified of this.  So do My works right now.  The Father also bears witness that He sent Me, but you don't hear Him.  You search the Scriptures, and they speak of Me.  You are blinded by seeking glory from men.  Moses will accuse you in the end, because He spoke of Me.

We have plenty evidence that Jesus was from God.
Remember the authority the Father gave Him - He is far more than substitute sacrifice!
Don't get caught up in petty rules or disputes when the King sent from God stands before you.


2 Samuel 16-18

Ziba supports David but lies about Mephibosheth.
Shimei reviled and curses David as a bloodthirsty man.  Abishai wants to kill him, but David has had enough of that, and of the sons of Zeruiah.
Absalom enters the city, and Ahithophel advises him to sleep with David's concubines, to harden the lines and strengthen morale.

Hushai's counsel defeats Ahithophel's.  Through a nice bit of espionage this saves David, and Ahithophel kills himself.  David is supplied by Ammon and Barzillai.

The armies meet and David's men win.  Joan treats Absalom as a traitor, defying David's public orders to him.  Runners with messages to David emphasize the mixed news this is for him.  The kingdom is restored but his son is dead.

How this is about Jesus
Jesus reversed David's retreat with shame, entering the city triumphantly.
He is reviled and crucified and falsely accused by his countrymen outside the city, too.
He is supported by women of Israel and some connected with Gentiles (Luke 8:3).
He is wisdom from God, and His ill advised follower also kills himself (Judas).
He bore the curse of a traitor and hung from the tree, pierced by cruel men who thought they were doing God service by their cruelty.

It's hard to break the cycle of accusation and reviling. David tried, but snaps at Abishai.  Old tensions resurface in trying times.
Politics often requires (or thinks it does) cruelty to direct opinion of the masses.  See David's concubines.
Opportunists (Ziba) and naysayers (Shimei) and cruel men (Joab) come out of the woodwork in hard times.
There are times we must choose God's kingdom over our family's convenience or preference.  We cannot side with the disobedient against God, even if they are in our own family.

2 Samuel 15; Psalm 3, 69

Absalom campaigns and conspires a coup de etat against his father David.
David's gentile officer shows loyalty, he retreats and prays to God for help.  Hushai appears in answer  to confound Absalom's advice.  David leaves the ark in the city, leaving the result in God's hands.

Psalm 3
I have a lot of enemies rising against me, Lord!
But You are my shield and will deliver me.
Bless Your people, Lord.

Psalm 69
I am reproached by many, but You can deliver me.  Stop them!  I am zealous four Your house and city.

How this is about Jesus
He is the king and Israel rebelled against Him, but Gentiles supported Him.
He was zealous for God's house.
He prayed to God for help on Olive Mt. and God answered.

When in trouble, cry to the Lord, reaffirm your motives are pure, keep His people and His purposes in mind, and look around for an answer.
Treachery comes from among God's people as often as from outside.


John 4

Jesus talks with a Samaritan woman at a well alone, on a hot and thirsty day at high noon.
Most in Jesus' position wouldn't even talk to her.  She's a Samaritan and a woman.
Jesus offers her living water, that will satisfy forever.  She asks if He is greater than Jacob whose well they sit at (He is).  He gets personal, asking for her husband, knowing she has none but has had five.  She raises the theological dispute between Jews and Samaritans.  Jesus says the Jews are right , but that won't matter now that Messiah is here, talking with her.  When the disciples return, she goes into town and tells everybody Jesus prophesied her whole life, and they come out to see Him.  Meanwhile Jesus prepares the disciples for their arrival.  It isn't time for physical food, but to reap a harvest coming to meet them.

Back in Cana, a rulers son from Capernaum is so sick he's almost dead.  He goes to Jesus in Cana, and He says he will live.  The man goes home, and he's better.  He asks when he got better and it was the time Jesus spoke with him.


  • Don't be distracted from spiritual things by physical needs.  The woman was focused on water, the disciples on food.
  • Jesus knows everything about you, and can heal your wounds (physical or otherwise) wherever you are.

"And we know that this is indeed the Savior of the world" - John 4:42.


2 Samuel 13-14

David's family becomes a wreck.
His son rapes his daughter.  Another son kills him in vengeance for it two years later, and flees the country.  David seems paralyzed.  Joab has to contrive a story to get David to let Absalom return, and David really wanted him to return, but then David refuses to see him.  He has to be pressured into it by Absalom through Joab.

How this is about Jesus
He came to die for and fix messed up family situations like this.  The same dysfunction was in Abraham's family, and Jacob's, and others in the Bible, and maybe in yours, too.

No situation is so shameful or gross that scripture doesn't address it, that Jesus can't redeem and fix it.
Don't let sin in yourself or your family members make you so emotional that you aren't consistent, firm and graceful in how you deal with problems and people.


God beneath All Our Philosophizing

Part Five: the Knowledge of God
Chapter 30: Human Knowledge

There are three categories of things we can know: divine revelation, the world, and ourselves.
This fits Frame's ever present triangle of norm, situation, and experience.

Modern philosophers have trouble sorting out subjects of knowledge, the knower, from objects of knowledge, the thing known.  This problem goes away when we accept revelation as the standard for determining truth.  The focus of this revelation is scripture, though parts of general revelation in the world help us understand it (language and cultural study, etc.).  In a sense, everything is revelation, either special or general.

World - Everything that exists and happens, as it is known by us.

Ourselves - everything, as we experience it.  To know God is an experience we are having.  Calvin said first thing in his Institutes that we can't know God without knowing ourselves.  We are not trapped in ourselves, because our knowledge of Scripture tells us there is something out there beyond our thoughts.  We never have purely objective knowledge with no subjective element.  We need not try to get rid of our subjective perspective, as long as we are using the right assumptions (presuppositions).

Philosophers have sought a firm foundation in reason (Descartes, norm of triangle), or sense experience (Hume, situation of triangle), while skeptics of each are trapped in subjectivism (Wittgenstein, experience of triangle).  But the real foundation is God, the creator of reason principles, world and mind.  Without Him, inconsistencies appear and men lean to one of these three ways for an anchor, but it isn't there without God and His revelation.

The same is true of theories of truth.  Correspondence theory seeks to match ideas to reality in the world (situation of triangle), coherence theory seeks logical consistency (norm of triangle), and pragmatic theory goes with what works (experience of triangle).  The real foundation is God, and without Him we lean toward one of these theories, when a synthesis of them, each resting on God, is needed.

Psalms 32 & 51

The forgiven are blessed!  When you hide or cover it up, or hold back from repenting, you're miserable and waste away.  Repenting brings refuge and relief, gladness and rejoicing.

After Nathan convicted David of sin, he prayed this:
Have mercy and wash me clean, Lord.  I've sinned against You.
You want truth within my heart.
Restore joy and a clean heart to me; keep Your presence and Spirit with me.
You want a contrite and broken heart.
This will lead to faithful evangelism and right worship.

How this is about Jesus
He is the one who forgives David, like He does the woman caught in adultery.

We need to repent thoroughly of our sins.  The more thorough it is the more relief and joy we will have.  Neglecting repentance corrodes the soul.
Repentance is telling God what He wants, and how you have failed in that.


Calvin and Hobbes Creator Speaking to Me

From Bill Watterson’s commencement address—“Some Thoughts on the Real World by One Who Glimpsed It and Fled“—delivered at Kenyon College, Gambier Ohio, on May 20, 1990.
If you ever want to find out just how uninteresting you really are, get a job where the quality and frequency of your thoughts determine your livelihood.  I’ve found that the only way I can keep writing every day, year after year, is to let my mind wander into new territories.  To do that, I’ve had to cultivate a kind of mental playfulness.

Doug Wilson overdose

A needed civics lesson with a provocative ending.
Here's a sample, looking to King Uzziah's sin of going into the temple (2 Chron. 26:16–18).
"Does a king outrank a priest? The blunt answer is that no, he does not. The law of Israel overarches them both, and tells the king what to do, and what he may not do, and tells the priest what he may do, and not do."

Then some bits on why bakers are on the frontline in our homosexual cultural war.
"When Paul teaches us that the woman is the glory of the man, having already said that man is the glory of God, this sets up a standard Hebraic superlative, like we see in the example of the Song of Songs, or the Holy of Holies. Woman is the glory of glories. Homosexual men have thrown that glory away. Because they are homosexual, they have rejected their glory, but because they are still men, they still yearn for glory.
"Now bring it all down to the present moment. It is no coincidence that the battleground professions are those professions which glorify an event. And homosexuals are stuck — through their own demands — with an event which has no glory. So they turn to the Christians, to the evangelical florists, and they demand that we share our glory with them. And this is something we cannot do. Glory doesn’t work that way."

"The current crop of progressives are the heirs of Jim Crow. They are the ones using the law to violate honest consciences."

"I bet a clever graphic design guy could make an exclamation point for those COEXIST bumper stickers out of some lynched evangelical florist.
That should fix everything. And if the clever graphic design guy didn’t want to design something like that . . . well, let’s just make him, shall we?"

On cowardly Christians in the ongoing "homo-jihad" (Wilson's apt term):
"The last thing in the world they would ever want to be called is a racist, and so they get steered where they “ought to be” by threatening to call them racists.... They have ceded complete authority to the world to define righteousness and unrighteousness for them."

Law OR Gospel?

Part IV: Christology
Chapter 20 - Law and Gospel

Lutherans limit the scope of the Gospel too much, excluding any call to repentance or reproof of sin as law, not Gospel.  They say Gospel is indicatives only, no imperatives.  Anti-nomians didn't even go that far, and they appeal to Luther a lot.  They said the moral law is not a rule of life for the believer.

Samuel Rutherford called this "The Spirituall Antichrist."  When they assert there are no conditions to the Gospel, Rutherford flatly denies it - the Gospel requires good works to flow from the justified, as James says, not earning grace but flowing from grace.  The gospel is more than justification by faith alone.  The gospel kills when it is rejected, just like the law does - they are only absolutely opposed regarding justification.

This chapter is under the Christology section, because the Gospel is about Christ in us, transforming us.  Its scope is not only the work of Christ for us.  "Redemption without application is no redemption at all" (332).

I advocate the Reformed view strongly, as opposed to the Lutheran or anti-nomian views, both of which undercut the ongoing application of God's law to our lives.  The Reformed view includes opposing law to Gospel regarding justification, as we see in much of Paul's writings, especially Galatians.  No compromise on justification by faith alone, there.  But it also makes possible a positive application of the law (which we also see in Paul! - Rom 8:4; 13:9-10; 1 Tim 5:18; 2 Tim 3:16-17).

John 3

Nicodemus, one of the Jewish leaders, comes to Jesus believing He is from God, but at night secretly.
Jesus presses the need to be born again by the Spirit with him.
Nicodemus doesn't understand, which amazes Jesus.  How can he understand anything spiritual, then?  Jesus then explains what He is going to do, as simply as possible: be lifted up as the snake in the wilderness was by Moses, and ascend into heaven.

He came to save the world, not condemn it, because God loved us.  We have to believe in Him to have eternal life.

Jesus goes back to Judea to baptize.  John points to Him again: He is from heaven, I'm from earth.

Some are ashamed to come submit to Jesus publicly.
Even religious leaders (especially them) must be born again to enter eternal life.
Even religious leaders (especially them) can be blind to spiritual truth.
Being born again means in part, looking to Jesus lifted up on the cross for salvation from the serpent.
Believe Jesus is sent from God!

"Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life; whoever does not obey the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God remains on him" - John 3:36

2 Samuel 10-12

The Ammonites offend David and gather the Syrians to fight Israel again, but Joab and Abishai win.

David stays home from all this fighting, and commits adultery with Bathsheba.  When he hears she is pregnant, he tries to cover it up by bringing her husband Uriah home.  When that doesn't work, David has Uriah killed in battle.  David marries Bathsheba as soon as possible.

God isn't going to let this go.  Nathan tells David a parable of this sin, and David doesn't see himself in it and gets angry at the sin.  "You are the man!"  When David sees it, he repents.  David's family will have strife and sword, his wives will be violated publicly, and the child Bathsheba is expecting will die.

How this is about Jesus
Unlike David, Jesus does not give in to this or any other temptation.
Unlike David, Jesus leads the fight for Israel against her enemies.
Jesus is more like Nathan in this passage - convicting us of sin by parable.
David is not the ultimate deliverer of Israel, given his sin; we look for another sinless Mediator.


  • Repentance brings forgiveness, but consequences also ensue.
  • Our spiritual warfare has multiple fronts.  Often when we are winning in one area (Ammonites), we get ambushed from another front (Bathsheba at home).  Vigilance is needed!
  • Don't put your trust in fallible men, no matter how strong a leader they appear.  Timely, given the presidential candidates declaring themselves these days...


Conditions on Grace? Really? Yes and No...

Part III: Anthropology (Man) and Covenant Theology
Chapter 19 - Covenant Conditions

In a sense, the covenant of grace is absolutely unconditional.
In another sense, we must (1) believe, (2) obey, and (3) do good works to be covenant partakers.  This must be, since there are two parties to the covenant.  Obedience and works are not just signs that faith is present, but are necessary themselves (pg. 314-15; Hebrews 12:14).  These three things do not merit our salvation, but are required for us to receive covenant blessing.  For example, "Good works do not merit life but flow out of life" (313).  The final judgment according to works is "meant demonstratively," though, as evidence of real faith (316).  Many will profess faith, but their lives will show otherwise.  Our reward will be "not of merit, but of grace" (Heidelberg Q.63).

The Lutherans disagreed with all this (312), but it isn't sympathetic to Rome's view.
It avoids meritorious works or justification by sacraments, and also avoids anti-nomianism.

This view is quickly labelled legalistic today, but by the same view Jesus' words would also be seen as legalistic, for saying the sheep and goats will be separated based on what they have done.  The key to maintaining God's grace in this, is that He grants (gives to us) the faith, obedience and works that He requires.

John 2

Jesus attends a wedding in Galilee at Cana.  They run out of wine and Mary gets Jesus involved.
He has servants put water in stone jars used for keeping Old Testament (OT) ritual law, and turns it to wine as it sits in there.  The chief servant (or host?) points out to the bridegroom that the best wine has just been served.

Jesus goes to Jerusalem for the Passover, and drives sellers out of the temple, calling it His Father's house.  When they ask what right He has to do this, He says He will raise up a new temple in 3 days, when/if this one is destroyed.  Many believe Him because of what He is doing, but He doesn't trust in their support.

  • The OT is good, but the NT is better - like water and wine.
  • (An aside: it is nonsensical to think the chief steward praises grape juice as better wine compared to the wine served earlier - this is normal, fermented, and very good wine.)
  • Zeal for God's house should drive us, as it did Jesus, to confront wrong things happening among His church today.
  • Do not trust in popular support to bring in God's agenda and Kingdom.

2 Samuel 8-9

David defeats many nations: Philistia, Moab, Syria, Edom, Ammon, Amalek.
David's administration is set up: Joab is army commander, Zadok and Ahimelech are priests, Benaiah heads the bodyguard.

David shows kindness to Saul's family, restoring grandson Mephibosheth to his lands, and giving him a place at his table forever.

How this is about Jesus
He is subduing the nations to Himself even now (Rev. 19:11, 15).
He rules His kingdom through church, families, and the state.
He has shown kindness to us like David did to Mephibosheth.  We were in the house of his enemy, but he favors us and provides for us forever, though we are spiritually lame and cannot provide for ourselves or get away from His justice.

David is not only strong, but wise and kind.  A leader needs all three of these to succeed.
Those who know they have received mercy, will be merciful (Matthew 18:21-35).

Psalms 30 & 60

Lord, You have restored me.  Your anger is just temporary, your favor is forever.
You turned my sorrow into joy!

You rejected us and we are discouraged.  You didn't go with us to battle, but You spoke that these nations are Yours.  Help us, for we can succeed with You.

How this is about Jesus

  • God "brought up [His] soul from Sheol" (30:3).
  • His agony in Gethsemane and punishment at Calvary was for a moment compared to the eternal glory and reward now given Him.
  • 60 - God promised Jesus the nations (Psalm 2), like David, and so He went out and fought.

Even King David suffered trying times, discouragement, military losses.  Notice what He does, how He talks to God in those times, and follow in his footsteps.

"Weeping may tarry for the night, but joy comes with the morning" - Psalm 30:5.

2 Samuel 6-7

David brings the ark to Jerusalem from Judah, but it is put on a cart instead of carried.  This results in touching it when there's a stumble, and God strikes the man dead.  Rejoicing turns to grief, and David waits until he hears the family is blessed where the ark is temporarily stored.  Then he does it right, leading the dancing and worship himself.  But when he gets home, his wife Michal criticizes his exuberance and immodesty in the dance.  David is not self-conscious about his dignity like Saul was, he point out to her.  Israel's women honor him more than she does.  God apparently agrees with David's assessment, for Michal is barren the rest of her life.

David tells Nathan the prophet he is thinking of building a house (temple) for the ark.  God responds through Nathan that He will first build Him a house (dynasty).  His seed will build a temple, and be established forever.
David prays: who am I that you have brought me this far, and now You will do this for me, too?!  You are great, O God; establish Your word.

How this is about Jesus

  • His worship leads Israel, too (Psalm 22:22; Luke 11:1-4).
  • He is the ultimate fulfillment of this very significant OT promise.  He is the seed of David who will sit on his throne forever before God and over God's people (Luke 1:33).


  • Just because great things are happening in your life, it's no time to shrug at God's commands, even about seemingly small things.  David is finally king!  The capital is ready to receive his throne and the ark!  Who cares how it's brought there?  God does (Exodus 25:14).
  • God must do great things for you before you can do great things for Him.


John 1

The Word with God in the beginning, who was and is God, by whom all things were made, became flesh and lived with us.  John introduced Him.  We saw Him.  He surpassed Moses in bringing grace and truth, where Moses brought law.  He has revealed God to us.

When they asked John what he was doing, he said he was preparing them for the coming of the Lord, as Isaiah 40:3 said.  "Behold the Lamb of God!" he proclaims, and men begin to follow Jesus.  Andrew brings his brother Simon, and Jesus changes his name to Cephas, or Peter, which means rock (we might say "Rocky").

Jesus heads for Galilee, home of Peter and Andrew, Philip and Nathanael.  Jesus describes where Nathanael was when Philip told him about Jesus - Jesus wasn't there!  Nathanael believes, and Jesus encapsulates His mission: He will be the ladder between heaven and earth that Jacob saw in his dream (Genesis 28:12).

  • Our Creator came to live with us.  Those who saw and lived with Him wrote about it here.
  • This Word is the source of our life and light, and overcomes darkness within us.
  • We need to heed prophets like John the baptizer and John the writer of this Gospel book, as they point us to, and describe, Him.
  • Jesus, the Word, as our Creator, knows us and shapes us so much, the name He gives us is better fitting than our current names.
  • We are often seeking Jesus for smaller things, when His mission covers the world, and connects with us personally.


2 Samuel 3-5

Chapter 3
Abner decides to change his support from Ish-Bosheth to David.  David welcomes it, but Joab kills Abner without David's knowledge.  David protests this, mourns Abner, and indirectly calls Joab wicked.

Chapter 4
Two of Ish-Bosheth's captains assassinate him and bring his head to David, thinking he will reward them.  But he kills them, for they have done a wicked thing.

Chapter 5
All Israel makes David king.  He conquers Jerusalem, and fortifies it as his own home.
The king of Tyre sends David gifts of building materials.  David is firmly established and powerful as king.  He defeats the Philistines.

How this is about Jesus
He has unscrupulous and violent followers, too, who will be judged.
One day every knee will bow to Him, and even Gentile kings will support him.

Chapter 3 - Leaders are often plagued by key advisors or supporters who are as strong as they but unscrupulous, manipulative or severe.
Chapter 4 - Don't let the reality of politics lead you to do wicked things.
Chapter 5 - Vindication may be long in coming for you, like it was for David.  But by faithfulness and hard work, the Lord will provide it, either in this life or the next.

"These men, the sons of Zeruiah, are more severe than I. The Lord repay the evildoer according to his wickedness!” - 2 Samuel 3:39


Luke 24

The women go to the tomb Sunday morning to apply spices to the body.  They are NOT expecting a resurrection, having forgotten Jesus' prophecy of it after 3 days.  The angels have to remind them.  They go tell the apostles, who don't believe them.  Peter goes to the tomb but leaves wondering what happened.

Jesus appears to two disciples on the road to Emmaus and has them explain why they are sad.  He rebukes them mildly and explains recent events of His from the Scriptures.  In their home, Jesus breaks bread and they recognize Him, but He vanishes right away.  In their excitement, they rush the seven miles back to Jerusalem in the dark to tell the disciples in the upper room.  They are also excited, as Jesus appeared to Peter in the meantime.

Suddenly Jesus is there with them all.  They still have a hard time believing it, but He speaks with them, eats in front of them, then explains all over again from Scripture what the Christ was to do.  He commissions them to be His witnesses - the message is repentance and forgiveness of sins in His name.  He then ascends to heaven.

How patient Jesus is with our slowness of heart to believe!  How frustrating it must have been at the moment of triumph and victory to be met with doubt and fear and confusion, instead of worship and joy.  Still, He gets them over their doubt first, then explains it all.  Our Lord equips us for our calling, to be and make disciples of Himself.

“Why do you seek the living among the dead? He is not here, but has risen" - Luke 24:5-6

2 Samuel 1-2

An Amalekite comes to tell David of Saul's death, and gives Saul's crown to David.
David mourns for Saul's death, and kills the Amalekite who admits finishing Saul off.
(David begins to assume the kingship, here.  You may not command capital punishment unless you are the king.)

David moves back to Israel, to Hebron, and the elders of Judah anoint him king.
But Saul's commander anoints Saul's son Ish-bosheth king over the rest of Israel.  Uh-oh.
Violence breaks out.  Abner kills David's nephew Asahel, but only 18 others.  Israel loses 360.

How this is about Jesus
His anointing as king of Israel was also challenged.  Violence resulted.
But Jesus did not pick up the sword - His anointing was to a different purpose.

There are times to fight, even with God's people, to maintain God's purpose among His people.  Horrifying and distressing, but also necessary.

"How the mighty have fallen!" - 2 Sam. 1:19


1 Samuel 30-31

Returning home, David and his men find the Amalekites raided and kidnapped their families.  This is a new low, and they talk of stoning him (as Israel did of Moses just before the Exodus).  But He seeks God who promises victory if they go after the raiders.  God grants them victory, and David makes sure the background men are rewarded along with the front line fighters.  He also sends some spoil to Judah.

Saul doesn't fare as well.
The Philistines win the battle, Saul and his three sons all die, and the Philistines take his body, armor and some cities.

How this is about Jesus
To be saved, the old man, the first Adam, our sinful man has to die.  Saul represents this.
David represents the second Adam, Christ raised and exalted to the throne.
Israel not only talked of stoning Jesus, they did it.
David saves physical life of his and his men's families; Jesus rescues souls.

When you are in a fix and discouraged, strengthen yourself in God (30:6).
After a victory it's easy to be hard on others.  Show mercy (30:22-25).
Unfaithfulness will bring you to a bitter and shameful end (31).

What We Know about God

Part Five: the Knowledge of God
Chapter 29 - God and Our Knowledge

Calvin began his Institutes talking of our knowledge of God.  We turn there now, remembering that "any human attempt to know" (698) ought to be done to the glory of God (1 Cor. 10:31).

To maintain the Creator-creature distinction, we must affirm that God's knowledge is different than ours.  Ours is derivative from His, limited, reliant on Him, a process of acquisition, and a reinterpretation of facts.  God's knowledge is none of these things.  Our mode of thought is totally different, but we can know the same propositions.

We cannot master God the way we master other fields of knowledge.  But His transcendence doesn't mean He is unknowable.  He accommodates His speech to us, but isn't lying or misleading us.

The reality of God's Lordship affects our knowledge.  So does our ethics.  Obedience yields a certain kind of knowledge of God, while rebellion yields another kind.

Knowing God is given by His grace and involves all Three Persons (control).
It is subject to God's authority in our obedience.  Knowing God produces obedience, and obedience leads to knowing God.  To obey, we must know God (Reformed thinkers are good at this part), but it's also true that to know God, we must obey Him.  Obedience and knowledge of God are near synonyms: to obey Him is to know Him.  So obedience is a prerequisite to know Him.  If you want to know if you know God, examine your life as much as your thoughts.  Are you acting like He is there?
Knowing God also involves His presence.  We know facts, skills and people, and this applies to knowing God.  We can know facts about Him, and ought not to disparage that (Exodus 19:1-20:1).  But having skills of relating (prayer, service, etc.), and knowing Him personally are definitive.  Even the demons know Him, and tremble.  We are personally involved as a friend.  The bible even uses the word "know" as a euphemism for sex, that's how closely the idea of knowing is tied to the personal in the bible.  We are ever before Him and have to deal with Him.

Rebels and demons know God, too, but suppress that truth (Romans 1).  The demons tremble, so their knowledge of Him is also personal.  But they have an irrational outlook, trying to stand on their own thoughts apart from God:  irrational rationalism!


1 Samuel 28-29

The Philistines muster against Israel, and Achish insists David fight with him.
Saul is scared, and seeks God, but He doesn't answer.  So Saul seeks out a witch/medium to raise up Samuel.  Samuel tells Saul he'll be dead by tomorrow, and Israel defeated.  She gives them a fatted calf and unleavened bread, hinting this is an anti-Passover. (Not Moses but a medium; not redemption but defeat; not obedience but rejection).

David, meanwhile, is like Moses, raised with the Egyptians/Philistines but escaping from them to fight for Israel instead.  The Philistines are probably right when they protest to their king that David would turn against them in battle.

How this is about Jesus
Unlike Saul, He sought only the Lord when in distress and agony, at His temptation in the desert and in Gethsemane.
God delivered Him from surrounding enemies, unlike Saul.
As usual, people around Jesus are divided about how to respond to Him, as the Philistines were with David.

If God won't answer you, examine and purify yourself.  Do not seek wisdom elsewhere while you wait on Him - there is no plan B that will help.
If you find yourself eating with the wicked while they do or approve of wicked things, you've gone a long way down the road of Saul.  "Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the wicked, nor stands in the way of sinners, nor sits in the seat of scoffers..." (Psalm 1:1).

"Tomorrow you [Saul] and your sons shall be with me [Samuel]" - 1 Samuel 28:19

Luke 23

The Jewish leaders bring Jesus to Pilate to be condemned.  Pilate declares him innocent three times, but they keep pressing for a conviction.  Pilate sends him to Herod, which Herod appreciates, but Jesus says nothing to his questions and Herod sends Him back.  When the Jews threaten to riot Pilate gives in.

While carrying His cross out of the city (!), Jesus warns His mourners that it'll be worse for them when Jerusalem is destroyed.
Once they nail Him to the cross, the people weep, but the rulers dare Him to save Himself.  One of those crucified with Him rails on Him like that, but the other knows Jesus isn't at all like that.
It is dark from noon to 3pm, when Jesus dies.  The supervising Roman declares Jesus' innocence, and many were watching.
A Sanhedrin member, Joseph from Arimathea, asks for His body.  He abstained or voted no for Jesus' condemnation.  He buries Jesus in his own very fancy and expensive tomb.  This is Friday night, and the Sabbath was just beginning.


  • The innocence of Jesus is declared repeatedly by most participants and onlookers.  Jesus didn't deserve this - we did, for our sins.
  • Our piety tends to focus on weeping for Jesus at His death, but He points us elsewhere - to the suffering we could face in times of judgement.
  • Especially at the cross there is a division between those who grieve what is happening, and those who scoff or demand His help selfishly.  All the world responds in one of these two ways.


1 Samuel 24-27

Saul comes back once the Philistine threat is over, and pursues David again.  David gets a chance to kill him in a cave, but David refuses.  He does point it out to Saul, though, once Saul leaves the cave. Saul acknowledges the wrong, and that David will be king, and asks David to spare his family when he is!  David promises, but when Saul leaves, he stays away from Saul.

Samuel dies.  David moves to Nabal's territory in Carmel.  He and his men protect Nabal from Philistine raiders (25:15-16).  He asks Nabal for a little something at a sheep-shearing festival, but Nabal calls him a rebel and wonders why he should give David anything.  David goes to attack him.  But Nabal's men warn his wife Abigail what happened.  She gets a bunch of food ready for David and intercepts him.  She petitions wisely and successfully, and David blesses her.  She tells Nabal the next morning, and God strikes him dead.  David takes her as his wife.

David spares Saul again.  Saul acknowledges it even more than before, blessing David.
David goes to the Philistines for refuge.  They accept him now, seeing how much Saul hates him.  David keeps his distance from King Achish, though, and raids Israel's enemies, not Philistia's.

How this is about Jesus
He used his strength to protect Israel through teaching and miracles.
He was supported by faithful women (Luke 8:1-3).
God built up His ministry through these things, as he built David's house, before his sacrifice, ascension and coronation.


  • Like with David, allegiance to Jesus takes precedence over any other loyalty, including a marriage.  Abigail calls her husband a worthless fellow to David, because of his rejection of the King of Israel.
  • Don't try to get something for nothing, like Nabal.
  • Diplomacy can go a long way to cooling tempers.  A soft answer turns away wrath.


1 Samuel 23

David saves an Israelite town from Philistines and Saul pursues David instead of fighting Philistines. Just as Saul is about to catch David, news comes to Saul that the Philistines have attacked again.  He wakes up and goes to fight his real enemy.

How this is about Jesus
He led by teaching instead of fighting, but the dynamic is the same.  While Pharisees and Sadducees led the people astray into error, compromise and legalism, Jesus gave them real bread.  The Pharisees and Sadducees pursue Him as a result, instead of turning to feed the people better.

Know your enemy.  Although there are weeds in the church or faithful families, avoid infighting whenever possible.  Don't make enemies of God's allies.


52.  God is going to cut you down for plotting my destruction, but He will prosper me.

57.  David takes refuge in God when men try to trap him.  He sings and exalts God over Heaven and earth.

142.  I cry out a complaint to God, for no one cares for me.  Deliver me so I can thank You.  I know You will.

54.  Save me, God, for the ruthless seek my life!  You are my helper and have delivered me.

63.  Lord, I long for you like I do for water in a desert.  You satisfy me like rich food.  My enemies will fall, and the king will joy in You.

How this is about Jesus
Read the Psalms as if Jesus were saying them, not just David.
Jesus had enemies, cried out to God in distress, and God delivered him.

This is good reading when we are discouraged or tempted.  God is our refuge.


Luke 22

The leaders want to arrest and kill Jesus, but they can't get at Him.  Judas agrees to betray Him - he can lead them to Him secretly.  Passover is arranged, but Jesus alters the liturgy significantly.  It is about His blood, not lamb's blood from the Exodus.  He won't drink the last cup until the Kingdom of God is consummated.  And someone will betray Him.  The disciples argue about who is the greatest, and Jesus calls them to serve instead, until He gives them thrones from which to judge.  Jesus prays for Peter that Satan not destroy him.  The disciples will be hard pressed soon, unlike before, and must be prepared for it.

They leave the city of Jerusalem (they are sleeping nights on Olive Mt.) and Jesus observes the traditional night of watching (Exodus 12:42).  But again, the liturgy is altered since the fulfillment of the Exodus is at hand.  Jesus asks God to change the plan, if possible, but it isn't, and He is in agony, while His disciples sleep.

Judas arrives with the soldiers to arrest Him, Peter starts to fight but Jesus stops him and rebukes them for their under-handedness.  They take Him to Caiaphas.  Peter skulks behind, and denies knowing Jesus 3 times when he arrives.  They mock and beat Jesus before questioning Him.  Their question is only meant to trap, not discern the truth, to which they are opposed.  Jesus responds that He will be seated next to God very soon, forever.  They condemn Him.


  • Jesus has authority to redefine the centuries old Passover service, since He is fulfilling it.  He is the true Passover, sacrificed for us (1 Cor. 5:8).
  • Like Peter, we may resolve to fight for Jesus (going down in a flame of glory), but we are more likely to be ashamed to be condemned, arrested and humiliated for Him.
  • It's helpful to tell the difference between a sincere question seeking the truth, and questions asked only to mock, entrap or condemn.

1 Samuel 22 - Psalm 56

David hides out from Saul in a cave.  Discontents and debtors flock to him.  Saul is full of self-pity and anger at his advisors.  Doeg rats on David, and Saul unjustly condemns Nob's priests for helping David.  Doeg kills them and their town and families.  One of the priest's sons escapes to David who takes responsibility when he hears of it.

Psalm 56
Men are out to kill David, but he will trust in God.  God is for him, marks all his sorrows and troubles, and will deliver him.

How this is about Jesus
Caiaphas (Saul) unjustly condemns Jesus (Nob priests) and gets Rome/Pilate (Doeg) to kill Him/them.
God delivers Jesus from men out to kill Him, as the Son trusts the Father and does His will.

David's leadership skill must have grown during this time - hard to corral all the discontents!
Saul's leadership is shown to be poor: manipulation by pity and bribery.
Saul blames his advisors when he is mainly to blame.  David accepts responsibility that is barely his at all.


John Owen on the Sinai Covenant

Part III: Anthropology (Man) and Covenant Theology
Chapter 18 - John Owen on Sinai

Owen's view on this can't be categorized so easily.  He didn't see Sinai simply as another administration of the covenant of grace, or as a distinct law covenant subservient to it.

The old covenant spoken of in Hebrews 8 is not Adam's covenant of works, but the redeclaration of the moral commands from that, at Sinai.
The new covenant spoken of in Hebrews 8 only takes effect formally at the death of Christ, so is not synonymous with the covenant of grace administered from Genesis 3:15 onward.
The promises of the covenant of grace were in effect during Moses, but the Sinai covenant did not bring "reconciliation with God nor salvation" (299).  It is added for our sins (Gal 3:19-24), bringing up the futile promise of life and certain curse of death on our way because of them.  But this points us ahead to Christ's work.  So, even though it has some positive aspects (established worship, civil and church government, pictured heaven in Canaan), it is a negative overall compared with the new covenant.

Owen's main concern was exegetical - doing justice to 2 Corinthians 3:6-9; Galatians 4:24-26; Hebrews 7:22; 8:6; 9:15-20.  He could write that there are two covenants we are wrapped up in: Adam and Christ.  But also that the Sinai covenant wasn't synonymous with the covenant of works or the covenant of grace.  Neither was the new covenant (Christ's obedience and death) synonymous with the covenant of grace.  So there are at least 4 covenants/testaments to deal with, that overlap in complex ways.

Owen's view can't be easily dismissed, though it differs with the Westminster majority, given his careful exegetical motivation.

1 Samuel 20-21

Jonathan isn't fully convinced his father Saul is set on killing David, but David is.
Jonathan covenants with David's house, against his father Saul.
At the next feast, David is intentionally absent, to see if Saul will be mad.  He is and takes it out on Jonathan, trying to kill him with a spear like he did David.  Jonathan goes out and keeps covenant with David, telling him of Saul's intent and sending David away.

David flees to Nob, where priests live.  He gets bread from before the ark for his journey, though it is meant only for the priests - an exception can be made for this.  He also takes Goliath's sword.  He flees to Gath (where Goliath was from, with his sword!), but they recognize him as their enemy.  So he acts crazy and useless, and thus gets away.

How this is about Jesus
Israel's leaders sought to arrest Jesus many times, but He escaped.
Prominent Israelites sided with Jesus against the installed rulers, like Jonathan did: Joseph of Arimathea, Nicodemus of John 3.  They also received anger and threats, as Jonathan did (John 7:50-52).
Jesus refers to David eating temple bread when the Pharisees accuse Him of breaking the Sabbath.  He assumes He is on David's mission, fleeing the bad guys, and He is!  (Matthew 12:1-8)

He remains silent before Gentiles who could kill Him.  Being greater than David, instead of avoiding death in exile, He accepts it and so saves the world (Luke 23:8-11).

Work together with God's people and leaders.  Protect and help each other.
Sometimes good deeds done in the past, help you in the future in yet unknown ways (Goliath's sword).
Enemies can arise from unexpected places (Saul).
When desperate for help, don't be foolish about who you take refuge with (Achish).