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A Tale of Three Kings – Chapter 27

The Mars Hill staff is in a series of devotionals drawn from the book, A Tale of Three Kings by Gene Edwards. We share highlights from the book each week, but we invite you to get a copy and read along with us. The drama is a multi-act play telling the stories of three kings. It is a portrait of submission and authority within the Kingdom of God; offering hope and healing to the spiritually wounded.

Chapter Twenty-Seven

Today marks the conclusion of our devotional study of A Tale of Three Kings. In this last chapter, we take one final look at King David’s character as he proclaims yet again that he will take no action to prevent his son Absalom from taking the throne from him.

Not only does David do nothing to prevent Absalom from making himself the new king, David also makes it easier for Absalom by getting out of his way, leaving Jerusalem and the palace free for the taking!

Why does David do this? In our book, David declares, “The throne is not mine. Not to have, not to take, not to protect, and not to keep.”  He knows that the throne and the kingdom belong to God and he wants no activity on his part to come between him and God’s will.

God had not yet revealed His will regarding the future of the kingdom to David. For all David knew, God might be ready for him to step down and a new leader to be appointed. David was also confident that God could and would defend the throne without David’s help. If God had wanted David to take action He would have told him so.

The book ends here…only with David’s response to wait on God. But note that David did not wait on God by sitting and doing nothing. He actively waited by leaving Jerusalem. He did not take anything with him that belonged in the palace or to the kingly office. He also left people behind who could report to him whether or not Absalom was God’s accepted replacement.

Through our discussion today we were reminded that sometimes God did tell His people to do something – defend a position, fight an enemy, etc. But, for those times when God does not tell or guide in a specific direction, it is best to do nothing – that is, to make no action of our own, but instead, actively wait for God to move.

(Read 2 Samuel 15-19 for the full story of Absalom’s conspiracy to take the throne, David’s response, and God’s ordained outcome.)

A Look Back at a Few of the Key Lessons from this Series:

  • Remember that the Israelites became dissatisfied at having God be their king and they petitioned to be ruled by an earthly king, just like other nations. This made us ask ourselves, “What things am I asking God to fulfill through some other means than Him?” (1 Samuel 8:4-7)
  • God gives us “good kings” and “bad kings” to accomplish His purposes. The outward “Sauls” in our lives are there to reveal and remove the inner “Saul” within us all. (Chapters 16 & 17)
  • Being broken is part of the sanctification process; it is coming to the end of self and recognizing that God is in control. (Chapter 12)
  • We should not leave a situation because we are uncomfortable or unhappy, but we leave when we are no longer capable of fulfilling God’s will or purpose for us in that situation. (Chapter 10)
  • Circumstances don’t make our character as much as they reveal our character. (Chapter 24)
  • David never denied how bad his situation was, but he did not let it overcome the reality that God was in the midst of it and that God had a plan. (Chapter 11)


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A Tale of Three Kings – Chapter 26

The Mars Hill staff is in a series of devotionals drawn from the book, A Tale of Three Kings by Gene Edwards. We share highlights from the book each week, but we invite you to get a copy and read along with us. The drama is a multi-act play telling the stories of three kings. It is a portrait of submission and authority within the Kingdom of God; offering hope and healing to the spiritually wounded.

Chapter Twenty-Six

We are nearing the end of our story. In the last few weeks, King David has consulted prophet, priest, and warrior. And the prophet, priest, and warriors have consulted each other. The great debate over what should be done in response to Absalom’s rebellious take-over of the throne is on everyone’s mind.

The conversation between Abishai and Joab, two of David’s nephews who serve in his army, raises some very good questions. Joab says men will “sacrifice anything to satisfy ambition.” This is in reference to Absalom rising up against his father the king.

In response, Abishai adds, “He (Absalom) has raised his hand against the very anointed of God — against David! If Absalom, who has no authority, will divide the very kingdom of God…what in the name of sanity might that man do if he be king?”

These words led us to consider that Absalom, like many today, had not only lost respect for the authority of the king but had also lost sight of who the real King was! As there were things that the king did or didn’t do to his satisfaction, he decided that he knew best and he should become the king.

Things to consider:

  • Once we have shifted the emphasis from the power of “the king” to the power of the “individual,” we have essentially made ourselves kings. What kind of problems do you think might arise if we are all little kings?
  • Absalom lost sight of the fact that it was God who appointed Saul and then David to be king. If God is the appointer of kings, wouldn’t that make Him the ultimate authority?
  • Ambition, as defined by  businessdirectory.com, is “The desire to achieve something, or to succeed, accompanied with motivation, determination and an internal drive.” The question raised by today’s devotional….is ambition really ever satisfied? One man said that if you’re ambitious then it’s in your nature to find a flaw in your current situation. The next step would be to try and improve your situation, but if you’re really ambitious then you will just find another flaw that needs to be fixed. If Absalom had taken the throne from David, do you think he would have finally experienced peace and satisfaction?
  • “For where jealousy and selfish ambition exist, there will be disorder and every vile practice.” – James 13:6 ESV
  • “Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves.” – Philippians 2:3 ESV


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A Tale of Three Kings – Chapter 25

The Mars Hill staff is in a series of devotionals drawn from the book, A Tale of Three Kings by Gene Edwards. We share highlights from the book each week, but we invite you to get a copy and read along with us. The drama is a multi-act play telling the stories of three kings. It is a portrait of submission and authority within the Kingdom of God; offering hope and healing to the spiritually wounded.

Chapter Twenty-Five

 In our devotional today, David has sought the company and counsel of Zadok. He asks Zadok to recount to him the story of Moses and how he dealt with a similar situation of rebellion.

Korah was a cousin of Moses who decided that he had had enough of Moses leadership in the wilderness and he wanted to take his place and his authority. He trumped up charges against Moses and found 252 men to back him up. Korah approached Moses and Aaron with his followers. He informed Moses that he had no right to all the authority he exercised.

This story would have greatly interested King David. In our book, David is wrestling with how to respond to Absalom’s rebellion. He knows that many years ago, God had anointed him to be king, but he wonders now if that time is coming to a close. If God is not finished with him, should he fight Absalom? If God is finished with him, should he then surrender? And what about the people; could they not discern who is the rightful and anointed leader?

Zadok reminds the King that there is no formula or list or sign whereby God will reveal to a person or a people which man or woman is truly anointed to bear God’s authority and for how long. God alone knows. But, Zadok assures the King that something good will come from David’s struggle to discern God’s will.

“As surely as the sun rises, people’s hearts will be tested. Despite the many claims –and counterclaims – the hidden motives within the hearts of all who are involved will be revealed. This might not seem important in the eyes of men, but in the eyes of God such things are central. The motives of the heart will eventually be revealed.”

King David acknowledged that his heart had been tested many times by the Lord and it was about to be tested again. He asked Zadok to finish the story of Korah’s rebellion so that he might know how Moses responded.

Zadok responded, “He (Moses) fell on his face before God. That is all he did.”

Moses knew that God alone had put him in charge of Israel. There was nothing that needed to be done. Either Korah and his men would seize the kingdom – or God would vindicate Moses. Continue reading


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A Tale of Three Kings – Chapter 24

The Mars Hill staff is in a series of devotionals drawn from the book, A Tale of Three Kings by Gene Edwards. We share highlights from the book each week, but we invite you to get a copy and read along with us. The drama is a multi-act play telling the stories of three kings. It is a portrait of submission and authority within the Kingdom of God; offering hope and healing to the spiritually wounded.

Chapter Twenty-Four

Today we listened in on a conversation between two of King David’s closest advisors, Nathan, the prophet of God and Zadok, the priest.

God had spoken to David through Nathan on a number of occasions. For instance, in 2 Samuel 12, God revealed to Nathan that David had committed adultery with Bathsheba, and had her husband killed in battle to cover up the fact that she was bearing his child. God then had Nathan confront and rebuke King David. He spoke truth to David, even when that truth was difficult to hear.

Zadok the High Priest was loyal to the King, but more importantly, he was faithful to God. He followed God’s laws and was certain to support the ruler who followed after and was anointed by God.

In the imagined conversation between these men, they are debating whether or not they should offer their unsolicited advice to David regarding the impending hostile take-over of the kingdom by David’s son, Absalom. Zadok thinks Nathan should confront King David as he has before, and find out what his plan is.

But Nathan isn’t so sure that he needs to talk to David. He says to Zadok, “There is no real difference between the man who discovers a Saul in his life and the man who finds an Absalom in his life. In either situation, the corrupt heart will find its ‘justification.’ The Sauls of this world can never see a David; they see only Absalom. The Absaloms of this world can never see a David; they see only Saul.”

Our prophet believes that David will respond to the man under him (Absalom) the same as he responded to the man over him (Saul). For he trusts that David’s heart is purely to follow God.

Things to consider:

  • Circumstances don’t make the person; they reveal the person.
  • What you are will determine what you will see.                                                                              Matthew 5:8, Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.
  • How might we get a pure heart? See Romans 12:1-2…but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.                                                                                                                                      

See also, Ephesians 4 assuming that you have heard about him and were taught in him, as the truth is in Jesus, 22 to put off your old self, which belongs to your former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful desires,23 and to be renewed in the spirit of your minds, 24 and to put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness.  

 


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A Tale of Three Kings – Chapter 23

The Mars Hill staff is in a series of devotionals drawn from the book, A Tale of Three Kings by Gene Edwards. We share highlights from the book each week, but we invite you to get a copy and read along with us. The drama is a multi-act play telling the stories of three kings. It is a portrait of submission and authority within the Kingdom of God; offering hope and healing to the spiritually wounded.

“This book (A Tale of Three Kings) reflects my concern for this multitude of confused, brokenhearted, and often bitter Christians who now find their spiritual lives in shambles and who are groping about for even the slightest word of hope and comfort.” – Gene Edwards, Author’s Preface

Chapter Twenty-Three

For today’s devotional consideration, we read from our book what could have been an exchange between King David and Abishai, his nephew. He alone accompanied David when he entered the camp of Saul while he slept and took his spear and water jug. He commanded a third of David’s army. He slew a Philistine giant who threatened David’s life, and on one occasion withstood 300 men, and slew them with his own spear.

This man, Abishai, was obviously an invaluable right-hand man to the king, but even such a trusted companion does not always grasp the deep heart motivations of the one they serve. This becomes apparent as Abishai presses King David for what he will do regarding the growing rebellion to take the throne led by David’s own son, Absalom.

Abishai remembers well the madness of King Saul. He knows the irrational thoughts and actions that Saul directed towards David, fearing that David would take the throne from him. He had witnessed with his own eyes David’s restraint and mercy towards Saul when he could have brought him down and taken what he knew was destined to be his.

No man would have faulted David for standing up to Saul’s unwarranted attacks and fighting back. In this chapter, Abishai repeatedly reminds David that he would have been humanly justified in defending himself against the mad king, but now that he IS the king, he has, even more, rights to defend his throne.

King David responds to Abashai’s urgings for action; he was not an Absalom towards Saul and he does not want to be a Saul towards Absalom! The following reveals what his heart knows to be true:

“I did not lift a finger to be made king. Nor shall I do so to preserve a kingdom. Even the kingdom of God! God put me here. It is not my responsibility to take or keep authority. Do you not realize, it may be His will for these things to take place? If He chooses, God can protect and keep the kingdom even now. After all, it is His kingdom.”

Abishai presses him once more. “You know that Absalom should not be king!” And David responds, “Do I? No man knows. Only God knows, and He has not spoken. I did not fight to become king, and I will not fight to remain king.”

David was prepared to let it all go if that is what God wanted. Finally, Abishai got it. And his admiration for his king grew even deeper.

Things to consider:

O LORD, You have searched me and known me! A Psalm of David. Psalm 139:1 ESV   (David’s relationship with God is evident throughout this entire Psalm; he understands how well God knows him and he freely expresses his thoughts and desires back to God.)

And He who searches hearts knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God. – Romans 8:27 ESV

…but just as we have been approved by God to be entrusted with the gospel, so we declare it, not to please people but God, who examines our hearts. I Thessalonians 2:4 NET

Final Thought:

If God knows us so well, and He is sovereign over all, what keeps us from resting in the hope and comfort that He will guide our lives in the ways and the times that they should go?


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A Tale of Three Kings – Chapter 22

The Mars Hill staff is in a series of devotionals drawn from the book, A Tale of Three Kings by Gene Edwards. We share highlights from the book each week, but we invite you to get a copy and read along with us. The drama is a multi-act play telling the stories of three kings. It is a portrait of submission and authority within the Kingdom of God; offering hope and healing to the spiritually wounded.

Chapter Twenty-Two

As a young shepherd boy, David did a lot of watching and waiting. He would certainly lead his flock to water or to grassy areas, but once arrived, there was much waiting. Waiting for the sheep to drink and eat.  Watching out for predators. Thinking about where to graze next. It is easy to see how this job lent itself to learning about God through observing nature and pouring out his own heart back to God.

David certainly knew that there were animals in his realm that would love to feast on one of his charges. But he did not have to go looking for these enemies, instead, he used his alone time to prepare himself for when they would eventually attack.

Chapter 22 of our book finds King David and Joab discussing what to do about the growing rebellion of his son, Absalom. As the general of the king’s armies, Joab was used to being a man of action. Thus, he queried the king what should be done about Absalom. King David says that he has no plan and will do as he always has; he will do nothing.

In our discussion of this situation, we concluded that David was not timid or without a plan because of fear. We know that he was a capable warrior and that he certainly had the position as king to thwart a rebellion. However, we believe that David also had an understanding of Psalm 46:10 which says, “Be still, and know that I am God. I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth!”

David had the realization that God was in control and if he were to step in and try to do something without clear direction from God, he might interfere with God’s plan.

Things to consider:

  • Are you able to “be still” and seek God in the face of opposition or trials?
  • Can you discern between the feelings of your soul or spiritual conviction? See Hebrews 11:1

In closing, read Psalm 5, which is a psalm of David. You will notice that in the presence of his enemies, David’s action is to take refuge in the Lord, his righteous defender!


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A Tale of Three Kings – Chapter 21

The Mars Hill staff is in a series of devotionals drawn from the book, A Tale of Three Kings by Gene Edwards. We share highlights from the book each week, but we invite you to get a copy and read along with us. The drama is a multi-act play telling the stories of three kings. It is a portrait of submission and authority within the Kingdom of God; offering hope and healing to the spiritually wounded.

Chapter Twenty-One

When you read the Google definition for “ambition,” it sounds reasonable and positive…

“Ambition – strong desire to do or to achieve something, typically requiring determination and hard work.” – Google Definition

synonyms: aspiration, intention, goal, aim, objective, object, purpose, intent, plan, desire, wish, design, target, dream

These are words we are encouraged to nurture and execute within ourselves, daily, in order to make our mark on the world and find purpose and meaning for our lives. So, in our study of Saul, David, and Absalom, who would you say had the greatest ambition for being king?

Last week we observed that Absalom’s discontent eventually led him into full rebellion against God and king. Sandwiched in between the discontent and the rebellion was the earnest desire to right wrongs and set people straight for how things should be done! In order to accomplish this, Absalom felt that he needed to be in charge; he needed the power, the platform, and the resources to make this happen. And the way to achieve this was to become the man in charge with full support of the people. What I have just described is the very definition of ambition.

Absalom’s dream sounded good at the onset; however, there were some key issues that our book points out as detrimental to his plan:

  • Such dreams rest totally on the premise that the people will follow the new leader and that all will see as he sees.
  • There is also the assumption that the people will continue to follow for a long time.

Our author points out that people will follow a leader for a short time. Generally, people do what they please. They never support anyone’s agenda for very long, even if they are following God.

Absalom has but one response in order to see his dreams accomplished: dictatorship. Rebels who ascend to the throne by rebellion have no patience with other rebels and their rebellions. He will then have to rule with an iron hand and eliminate all opposition. Becoming a tyrant was not his original intent. Where did Absalom go wrong? Was there fault in his dream? What does the Bible have to say about ambition?

As you work through these questions you may want to consider the following scriptures and to dig even deeper, read through this short article and verses in this link: What does the Bible have to say about ambition?

“Make it your ambition to lead a quiet life, to mind your own business and to work with your hands…” – 1 Thessalonians 4:11

“Therefore, we also have as our ambition, whether at home or absent, to be pleasing to Him” – 2 Corinthians 5:9

“If I were still trying to please men, I would not be a servant of Christ” – Galatians 1:10

“But above all pursue his kingdom and righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.” – Matthew 6:33

By Comparison, Some Things the World says about Ambition:

“We can each define ambition and progress for ourselves. The goal is to work toward a world where expectations are not set by the stereotypes that hold us back, but by our personal passion, talents and interests.” –  Sheryl Sandberg, CEO of Facebook

A man’s worth is no greater than his ambitions.  – Marcus Aurelius, Roman Emperor

“Ambition describes those that achieve success based on their inner desire to do so and their belief in themselves.” – businessdictionary.com

“Ambition is not a requirement for success for many people. Many unambitious people would describe success as accepting what life has to offer and making the most of it. However, ambition is a necessity for those who want to achieve a specific goal, such as becoming a CEO, actor, or billionaire.” – businessdictionary.com