Advent, Advent Devotional, Christmas, Promised Hope

And The Light Fades

2 Samuel1 Kings 1-11

King David was a man after God’s own heart. He trusted. He loved. And he obeyed, albeit ever so imperfectly.

In the spring, while his men went to battle, David stayed behind; at home in Jerusalem.

From on top of his world, David turned his faithful eyes away from the LORD and toward a bathing beauty not his own. It was a look that stayed too long and fueled desire. The king’s sin spiraled.

He beckoned the one he saw bathing and had her for himself. With his heart bleeding with sin and his name on the line, David strategized to save face. Desperate, David had Bathsheba’s husband killed. Face saved.

But God saw his heart. Again.

Nathan, a prophet and trusted friend of the king, confronted David about his sin. In response, the king penned Psalm 51, a song of brokenness and repentance, a plea for restoration.

David’s repentance brought about his restoration with God, but it did not prevent the consequences of his sin. Those consequences ran deep. And long. And far. His sons fought amongst themselves for David’s crown.

As king, David had united an entire kingdom. But as a father, he couldn’t lead his own family.

On his deathbed, David remembered God’s promise to him. I will establish the throne of his kingdom forever. He recalled his own promise to Bathsheba: Your son Solomon is to become king after me.

With promises made and remembered, King David transferred the crown of Israel to his son Solomon. Yes. The second-born son of David and Bathsheba.

Upon receiving the crown, Solomon asked the LORD for wisdom. When God would have granted him anything, he asked for wisdom in ruling his kingdom. God gave him that wisdom and added both wealth and honor. Solomon was the wealthiest king on earth, and everyone sought his knowledge.

And the people were happy!

With the kingdom at rest, Solomon built the temple, a permanent place for the presence of the LORD. After seven years of labor, the grand temple was complete. The Ark of the Covenant was placed in the holiest of spaces. And the LORD’s presence filled the room.

As for this temple you are building, if you follow my decrees…I will fulfill through you the promise I gave to David, your father. 

1 KINGS 6:12

If you follow my decrees…

Solomon reigned over Israel for forty years. But this king, who began with so much hope and promise, eventually turned his heart away from God. The LORD for whom he had built an extravagant dwelling place. Yes. Solomon turned his heart from that God, ignoring His decrees.

Upon his death, he was laid to rest in Jerusalem. And nothing in Israel was ever quite the same.

Hope went dim.

But…

 I will leave one tribe for his son so that David, the lamp of Israel,[b] will always have a place with Me in Jerusalem, the city I have appointed as My city.” I will afflict David’s offspring because of what Solomon has done, but I won’t cause this suffering forever.”

1 KINGS 11:13

REFLECTION

Can you imagine? A world at rest? A world at peace? When everything seems to be going your way?

It seems like an inviting place to live. But upon closer examination, it appears that we are too easily distracted when life is easy. Bored, lulled into thinking we do not need God.

David and Solomon found it easy to turn away from God during the happiest times in Israel. When all was well, and hope shone brightly.

I have been guilty of the same.

When is it easiest for you to look away? Are you tempted to look away in the easy times, forgetting the One who loves you? Or are you most tempted in the hard times, doubting that He loves you?

The moment in the garden seems to play out in different ways. Different hearts, but all the same, we look away. Turn away, and walk away. And the consequences loom and linger.

But God. He keeps pursuing. Restoring us to Himself.

PRAYER

Father, I am so overwhelmed by Your love. A love that pursues and restores. A love that is faithful when I am not. When I turn my eyes or my heart from You, I feel Your Spirit nudge me, prod me, and sometimes even poke me.

And I know. You are there, waiting for me. Lord, I pray to have a heart that forever runs after You. And back to You. Amen.

WORSHIP

Christmas is seven days away, friends.

And I know that a lot is screaming for our attention. Our hearts are crowded and, like the inn, have little or no room for One more.

But I am painfully aware of the consequences of an overcrowded heart. Even a heart crowded with good and honorable things.

It’s easy to make excuses. To rationalize it away, honoring the busy pace of our lives. But today, let’s be intentional about making room in our hearts. Your heart may not be dripping with sin like David’s. But anything that crowds God out of your heart must be let go.

God doesn’t want a part of your heart. He wants your whole heart, your whole life.

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