Another Rebellion


Now there happened to be there a worthless man, whose name was Sheba, the son of Bichri, a Benjaminite. And he blew the trumpet and said,

“We have no portion in David,
and we have no inheritance in the son of Jesse;
every man to his tents, O Israel!”

So all the men of Israel withdrew from David and followed Sheba the son of Bichri. But the men of Judah followed their king steadfastly from the Jordan to Jerusalem.

And Sheba passed through all the tribes of Israel to Abel of Beth-maacah, and all the Bichrites assembled and followed him in. And all the men who were with Joab came and besieged him in Abel of Beth-maacah. They cast up a mound against the city, and it stood against the rampart, and they were battering the wall to throw it down. Then a wise woman called from the city, “Listen! Listen! Tell Joab, ‘Come here, that I may speak to you.’” And he came near her, and the woman said, “Are you Joab?” He answered, “I am.” Then she said to him, “Listen to the words of your servant.” And he answered, “I am listening.” Then she said, “They used to say in former times, ‘Let them but ask counsel at Abel,’ and so they settled a matter. I am one of those who are peaceable and faithful in Israel. You seek to destroy a city that is a mother in Israel. Why will you swallow up the heritage of the Lord?” Joab answered, “Far be it from me, far be it, that I should swallow up or destroy! That is not true. But a man of the hill country of Ephraim, called Sheba the son of Bichri, has lifted up his hand against King David. Give up him alone, and I will withdraw from the city.” And the woman said to Joab, “Behold, his head shall be thrown to you over the wall.” Then the woman went to all the people in her wisdom. And they cut off the head of Sheba the son of Bichri and threw it out to Joab. So he blew the trumpet, and they dispersed from the city, every man to his home. And Joab returned to Jerusalem to the king. II Samuel 20:1-2, 14-22 ESV

Many of the Jews therefore, who had come with Mary and had seen what he did, believed in him, but some of them went to the Pharisees and told them what Jesus had done. So the chief priests and the Pharisees gathered the council and said, “What are we to do? For this man performs many signs. If we let him go on like this, everyone will believe in him, and the Romans will come and take away both our place and our nation.” But one of them, Caiaphas, who was high priest that year, said to them, “You know nothing at all. Nor do you understand that it is better for you that one man should die for the people, not that the whole nation should perish.” He did not say this of his own accord, but being high priest that year he prophesied that Jesus would die for the nation, and not for the nation only, but also to gather into one the children of God who are scattered abroad. So from that day on they made plans to put him to death. John 11:45-53


Jesus had just raised a man from the dead, and he was becoming very popular. Many people believed that he was the Messiah. This made the religious leaders very worried. They lived under the powerful Roman empire, and the Roman empire allowed them to have their temple and their religious practices. The religious leaders knew they had a good position with Rome, and they didn’t want to lose it. They were afraid that if Jesus attracted too much attention, it would put their whole nation in danger of losing favor with Rome and the special privileges Rome had given them. As they discussed this, the high priest, Caiaphas, said that Jesus should die. It would be better for one man to die rather than for all their people to lose their security and privilege.

Long before, when David was returning to Jerusalem after Absalom had died, a man named Sheba started another rebellion. He got many of the people of Israel to follow him, and another war started. This war ended when David’s army chased Sheba to a city called Abel, and they surrounded the city and prepared to attack. A wise woman in the city wanted to save the lives of the people in her city and save the city from being destroyed in a war. She talked to Joab, David’s commander, over the city wall. She found out who they wanted, and convinced the people of her city that it would be better if one man died than if all the city were destroyed. So they cut off Sheba’s head and threw it over the wall, and that was the end of Sheba’s rebellion.

Sheba died, and his death saved a city. The religioius leaders worked to put Jesus to death thinking they would save their nation. The high priest didn’t realize that when he tried to have Jesus killed, he was actually following God’s plan. Jesus really did die for his people, and not only the Jewish people, but all the people in the world. Jesus’ death wasn’t meant to save the Jewish nation, but rather to save all people everywhere who believe in him. Because of Jesus’ death, our sins are forgiven and we are God’s people. God has brought us to himself through Jesus to live with him in peace and joy forever.


Dear Heavenly Father, thank you for sending Jesus to die so that we could live with you forever. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.


Love Covers Sins


And Mephibosheth the son of Saul came down to meet the king. He had neither taken care of his feet nor trimmed his beard nor washed his clothes, from the day the king departed until the day he came back in safety. And when he came to Jerusalem to meet the king, the king said to him, “Why did you not go with me, Mephibosheth?” He answered, “My lord, O king, my servant deceived me, for your servant said to him, ‘I will saddle a donkey for myself, that I may ride on it and go with the king.’ For your servant is lame. He has slandered your servant to my lord the king. But my lord the king is like the angel of God; do therefore what seems good to you. For all my father’s house were but men doomed to death before my lord the king, but you set your servant among those who eat at your table. What further right have I, then, to cry to the king?” And the king said to him, “Why speak any more of your affairs? I have decided: you and Ziba shall divide the land.” And Mephibosheth said to the king, “Oh, let him take it all, since my lord the king has come safely home.” II Samuel 19:24-30 ESV

Above all, keep loving one another earnestly, since love covers a multitude of sins. I Peter 4:8 ESV


King Lear was getting old, and he wanted to divide his kingdom between his three daughters. He wanted to give the biggest share of his kingdom to the daughter who loved him the most. Two of his daughters used all kinds of flowery words to tell King Lear how much they loved him, but his daughter Cordelia just told him she loved him as a daughter should. Cordelia’s answer was the honest one, and she truly loved her father the most, but King Lear was very angry and cut her off without anything. King Lear eventually found out that he couldn’t trust his other two daughters, and that they were plotting to kill him. Cordelia raised an army to protect her father. She went on loving and wanting to help him even though he had done wrong to her.

David had wronged Mephibosheth three times. In a way it had been kind of David to give him back the land that had belonged in Saul’s family, but David didn’t have any right to take that land in the first place. Israel’s land belonged to God, not to the king, and it wasn’t supposed to be passed from one tribe to another. Then, when Ziba told a lie about Mephibosheth, David believed it and took all the land away from Mephibosheth and gave it to Ziba. Finally, when David came back to Jerusalem and saw that Mephibosheth had not been trying to take the throne for himself, he still didn’t give Mephibosheth justice. He only gave back half of his land. But Mephibosheth, like his father Jonathan, loved David. That love covered all of David’s sins against him, and he forgave him. He was so happy to see David back and safe that he said Ziba could have all of the land. That’s real love!

When people hurt us and do wrong to us, it’s not always easy to know what to do. It’s always good to talk to a parent or teacher or another trusted adult if you need help or protection. But one thing that is always right is to love the person and forgive the hurt. Jesus loved us so much that he took all kinds of hurt for our sake. He was beaten and whipped and finally put on the cross to die. He did this so that our sins could be forgiven. Jesus loves us no matter what, and his love covers our sins. Because of his love and his death on the cross, we can always go to him for forgiveness and help.


Dear Jesus, thank you for your wonderful love and for all that you’ve done for us. Please forgive our sins and help us to love and forgive others. Amen.


Shakespeare, William King Lear

A Selfish King


It was told Joab, “Behold, the king is weeping and mourning for Absalom.” So the victory that day was turned into mourning for all the people, for the people heard that day, “The king is grieving for his son.” And the people stole into the city that day as people steal in who are ashamed when they flee in battle. The king covered his face, and the king cried with a loud voice, “O my son Absalom, O Absalom, my son, my son!” Then Joab came into the house to the king and said, “You have today covered with shame the faces of all your servants, who have this day saved your life and the lives of your sons and your daughters and the lives of your wives and your concubines, because you love those who hate you and hate those who love you. For you have made it clear today that commanders and servants are nothing to you, for today I know that if Absalom were alive and all of us were dead today, then you would be pleased. Now therefore arise, go out and speak kindly to your servants, for I swear by the Lord, if you do not go, not a man will stay with you this night, and this will be worse for you than all the evil that has come upon you from your youth until now.” Then the king arose and took his seat in the gate. And the people were all told, “Behold, the king is sitting in the gate.” And all the people came before the king. II Samuel 19:1-8 ESV

We who are strong have an obligation to bear with the failings of the weak, and not to please ourselves. Let each of us please his neighbor for his good, to build him up. For Christ did not please himself, but as it is written, “The reproaches of those who reproached you fell on me.” For whatever was written in former days was written for our instruction, that through endurance and through the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope. May the God of endurance and encouragement grant you to live in such harmony with one another, in accord with Christ Jesus, that together you may with one voice glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore welcome one another as Christ has welcomed you, for the glory of God. Romans 15:1-7 ESV


I still remember something that happened to me when I was a little girl. I had been invited to a birthday party for my friend Chris on a summer day. There were a lot of kids, and a lot of noise, and games, and food all in the backyard. I found the whole thing kind of scary, and I started crying. Chris’s mother went inside and called my mom to ask her to come and get me. My mom asked to talk to me on the phone. She scolded me and told me, “You’re not there for your sake. You’re there for Chris’s sake! It’s his party, and you should try to make him happy.” I didn’t like to hear that, but I stopped crying and went back outside with the other kids. I learned a very important lesson that day. I learned that I had to consider other people’s needs and feelings besides my own.

David had to learn the same lesson. He was very upset, and crying, because his son Absalom was dead. All the men who had risked their lives and won the battle for him, and also the men who had died in battle, didn’t seem to matter to him. His army felt very bad because their king wasn’t happy. They felt as if he didn’t appreciate their efforts. Joab went and scolded David for his selfish attitude. He warned David that his men would turn against him if he didn’t go and show his appreciation to his army for their work. So David did that.

Jesus always put the needs of the people he loved ahead of his own. This unselfish love brought him to earth as a human person, and sent him all the way to the cross. Jesus died a painful death on the cross to pay for our sins. Because of this, we are God’s people now and always. For Jesus’ sake God forgives our selfish behavior and attitudes. God sends us his Holy Spirit to help us be unselfish and caring to other people.


Dear Jesus, thank you for being unselfish and dying for us. Help us to show your love, and forgive us our selfishness. Amen.

O My Son!


Then Joab blew the trumpet, and the troops came back from pursuing Israel, for Joab restrained them. And they took Absalom and threw him into a great pit in the forest and raised over him a very great heap of stones. And all Israel fled every one to his own home.

Then Joab said to the Cushite, “Go, tell the king what you have seen.” The Cushite bowed before Joab, and ran.

And behold, the Cushite came, and the Cushite said, “Good news for my lord the king! For the Lord has delivered you this day from the hand of all who rose up against you.” The king said to the Cushite, “Is it well with the young man Absalom?” And the Cushite answered, “May the enemies of my lord the king and all who rise up against you for evil be like that young man.” And the king was deeply moved and went up to the chamber over the gate and wept. And as he went, he said, “O my son Absalom, my son, my son Absalom! Would I had died instead of you, O Absalom, my son, my son!” II Samuel 18:16-17, 21, 31-33 ESV

[Jesus said:] “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the city that kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to it! How often would I have gathered your children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, and you were not willing! See, your house is left to you desolate. For I tell you, you will not see me again, until you say, ‘Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.’” Matthew 23:37-39 ESV


Ebenezer Scrooge was a mean and greedy man until one Christmas Eve when three ghosts visited him and showed him shadows from the past and the present, and then the third spirit came to show him the future. The Spirit of Christmas Yet to Come took Ebenezer Scrooge to visit the house of his clerk, Bob Cratchit, on a Christmas day in the future. His son Tiny Tim had just died and the family was feeling very sad about it. Bob tried to be cheerful for his family, but he soon broke down and cried. “My little, little child,” Bob cried. “My little child.”

Parents are terribly sad if they lose any of their children. Some children are sweet and good like Tiny Tim, but even if they’ve done terrible things and hurt their parents the way Absalom did to his father David, parents are still very sad. When David found out that Absalom had been killed in the battle, he cried and wished he could have died instead of his son. “O my son Absalom, my son, my son Absalom!” he cried. David didn’t cry because Absalom was good and had made him happy, but he cried because he loved Absalom and had lost him. Any hope that they could have stopped fighting and become friends again was over.

God, our Heavenly Father, is also terribly sad to lose his children. His Son Jesus showed that sadness when he cried over the people of Jerusalem. He wanted the people of Jerusalem to be his people, but they kept rejecting God and the prophets he sent them. Jesus was God’s prophet and Son, and many of the people of Jerusalem rejected him too. Jesus knew that judgment was coming to Jerusalem, and it made his cry. He said that so often he wanted to gather the people of Jerusalem the way a mother hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but they weren’t willing.

We have all turned away from God in sin, and that’s why God sent Jesus. Jesus came to bring us back to God. He died on the cross so that our sins could be forgiven, and he reaches out to us to bring us to himself. God’s love for us is strong and real. He wants us to be his own children, now and forever.


Dear Heavenly Father, thank you for sending Jesus to die for us and to make us your children. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.


Dickens, Charles A Christmas Carol London: Chapman and Hall, 1843

Mercy and Justice


And the king ordered Joab and Abishai and Ittai, “Deal gently for my sake with the young man Absalom.” And all the people heard when the king gave orders to all the commanders about Absalom.

So the army went out into the field against Israel, and the battle was fought in the forest of Ephraim. And the men of Israel were defeated there by the servants of David, and the loss there was great on that day, twenty thousand men. The battle spread over the face of all the country, and the forest devoured more people that day than the sword.

And Absalom happened to meet the servants of David. Absalom was riding on his mule, and the mule went under the thick branches of a great oak, and his head caught fast in the oak, and he was suspended between heaven and earth, while the mule that was under him went on. And a certain man saw it and told Joab, “Behold, I saw Absalom hanging in an oak.” Joab said to the man who told him, “What, you saw him! Why then did you not strike him there to the ground? I would have been glad to give you ten pieces of silver and a belt.” But the man said to Joab, “Even if I felt in my hand the weight of a thousand pieces of silver, I would not reach out my hand against the king’s son, for in our hearing the king commanded you and Abishai and Ittai, ‘For my sake protect the young man Absalom.’ On the other hand, if I had dealt treacherously against his life (and there is nothing hidden from the king), then you yourself would have stood aloof.” Joab said, “I will not waste time like this with you.” And he took three javelins in his hand and thrust them into the heart of Absalom while he was still alive in the oak. And ten young men, Joab’s armor-bearers, surrounded Absalom and struck him and killed him. II Samuel 18:5-15 ESV

Out of the depths I cry to you, O Lord!
O Lord, hear my voice!
Let your ears be attentive
to the voice of my pleas for mercy!
If you, O Lord, should mark iniquities,
O Lord, who could stand?
But with you there is forgiveness,
that you may be feared. Psalm 130:1-4 ESV


Mark had been kicking his soccer ball around in the house, when he kicked it a little wild and the ball went right through a window! Mark’s parents had a rule that he couldn’t throw or kick balls in the house, and he had broken that rule. When they saw the broken window, they were very angry with Mark. But Mark was sorry for what he had done, and he told his mom and dad how sorry he was. They stopped being angry with him and forgave him. But they still disciplined him by making him work to pay for the broken window. Mark’s parents had mercy on him by loving him and forgiving him for what he had done wrong, but they also showed justice by making him pay for what he did.

David and Joab had two different ideas about how to treat Absalom in battle. David loved his son and wanted only mercy for him. Even though Absalom was trying to steal David’s kingdom and wanted to kill his own father, David didn’t want his son to be killed. He told all the troops to spare Absalom’s life. On the other hand, Joab only wanted justice. Absalom had rebelled against his king and set up an army against him, and for that he deserved to die. Joab didn’t listen to what David said, but instead he made sure Absalom got justice. He knew that as long as Absalom lived he would be a danger to David and to David’s kingdom, so he killed Absalom.

It can sometimes be hard to show mercy and justice at the same time, but both mercy and justice are very important. Only God shows perfect mercy and justice. If God gave us what we deserved for our sins, we would be in serious trouble! We deserve to be separated from God forever in hell because of the way we’ve rebelled against him. But God shows us incredible mercy by forgiving our sins and not punishing us the way we deserve. At the same time God also shows perfect justice. He sent Jesus to take the punishment for all the sins of the world on himself. Jesus took our sins to the cross and paid for them there, and so the cross is the place that perfect love met perfect justice. At the cross we see God’s judgment on sin and evil, but at the same time we see God’s merciful love for all people.


Dear Heavenly Father, thank you for you great mercy for forgiving our sins for Jesus’ sake. In His Name, Amen.

Protecting the King


Then David mustered the men who were with him and set over them commanders of thousands and commanders of hundreds. And David sent out the army, one third under the command of Joab, one third under the command of Abishai the son of Zeruiah, Joab’s brother, and one third under the command of Ittai the Gittite. And the king said to the men, “I myself will also go out with you.” But the men said, “You shall not go out. For if we flee, they will not care about us. If half of us die, they will not care about us. But you are worth ten thousand of us. Therefore it is better that you send us help from the city.” The king said to them, “Whatever seems best to you I will do.” So the king stood at the side of the gate, while all the army marched out by hundreds and by thousands. II Samuel 18:1-4 ESV

. . . The Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many. Matthew 20:28 ESV


Do you know how to play chess? There are different kinds of pieces on the board–pawns and knights and bishops and rooks and a king and a queen. The purpose of the game is to get the other person’s king, and the other thing you have to do is protect your own king. You can lose many other pieces, but as long as your king is safe, you are still in the game. As soon as you lose your king you’ve also lost the game.

This is the way David’s troops felt about him. They wouldn’t let him go into battle with them. They said that it wouldn’t matter if they lost lots of soldiers, but if they lost David, their king, then the battle would be lost. David wanted to march into battle with his men, but he realized that they were right. He stayed in the city and watched the army go into battle without him.

Jesus is different from other kings in the world. He didn’t let us fight our own battles while he stayed safe and out of the war. He didn’t even ask us to fight with him in his battle with the powers of evil. Instead, he fought for us. Jesus didn’t come to have people protect him and take care of him, but instead to protect and take care of others. He went all the way to the cross and died to pay for our sins so we wouldn’t have to. He won the victory for us over sin and death and the devil, and now we know that whatever battles we have to face in life, Jesus has already won for us, and stands beside us to help us till the very end.


Dear Jesus, thank you for winning the battle for us over death and evil. Please help us in our battles in life. Amen.

A Warning to Escape


Then Hushai said to Zadok and Abiathar the priests, “Thus and so did Ahithophel counsel Absalom and the elders of Israel, and thus and so have I counseled. Now therefore send quickly and tell David, ‘Do not stay tonight at the fords of the wilderness, but by all means pass over, lest the king and all the people who are with him be swallowed up.’” Now Jonathan and Ahimaaz were waiting at En-rogel. A female servant was to go and tell them, and they were to go and tell King David, for they were not to be seen entering the city. But a young man saw them and told Absalom. So both of them went away quickly and came to the house of a man at Bahurim, who had a well in his courtyard. And they went down into it. And the woman took and spread a covering over the well’s mouth and scattered grain on it, and nothing was known of it. When Absalom’s servants came to the woman at the house, they said, “Where are Ahimaaz and Jonathan?” And the woman said to them, “They have gone over the brook of water.” And when they had sought and could not find them, they returned to Jerusalem.

After they had gone, the men came up out of the well, and went and told King David. They said to David, “Arise, and go quickly over the water, for thus and so has Ahithophel counseled against you.” Then David arose, and all the people who were with him, and they crossed the Jordan. By daybreak not one was left who had not crossed the Jordan. II Samuel 17:15-22 ESV

Since, therefore, we have now been justified by his blood, much more shall we be saved by him from the wrath of God. Romans 5:9 ESV

And just as it is appointed for man to die once, and after that comes judgment, so Christ, having been offered once to bear the sins of many, will appear a second time, not to deal with sin but to save those who are eagerly waiting for him. Hebrews 9:27-28 ESV


Do you and your family know what to do in a disaster? Many people have a disaster plan for a fire or a flood or a hurricane or an earthquake. They have a place to meet and an escape route planned, and maybe even a disaster kit to take with them as they run away from danger. Some disasters, like house fires and earthquakes, happen without warning. But people can often see other disasters like wildfires and hurricanes and floods coming, and that gives us time to get ready and get away. Having a warning makes it more likely that people can escape to safety in a disaster.

David and the people with him were given a warning by Hushai. Hushai had gone back to Jerusalem and pretended to be on Absalom’s side. He had persuaded Absalom to wait before coming after David. Then he sent David a warning to get away across the Jordan River and to know that Absalom was planning to muster all the tribes against him. Hushai’s messengers told David to run away and to be ready for Absalom’s attack, and this warning saved David’s life. He was able to get away and prepare to defend himself and his kingdom.

There is one final disaster coming to our world. God is coming to judge all the evil that spoiled his beautiful creation. He’s appointed his Son Jesus to carry out judgment and anger against everything wicked and evil in the world. But God has warned us about this disaster. He wants us to escape, so he’s warned us in his Word, the Bible, that judgment is coming. God not only wants us to escape, but he’s given us an escape route, and a place of safety. Our escape route and our safety is Jesus. Jesus died on the cross to take all the wrath and judgment of God for our sins on himself. Jesus brings us to the safety of his love and forgiveness, and because of that we don’t have to worry about God’s wrath and judgment. Instead, we know we have complete safety and peace with God.


Dear Heavenly Father, thank you for giving us Jesus to give us an escape route and safety from the disaster that is coming. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Which Road?


Moreover, Ahithophel said to Absalom, “Let me choose twelve thousand men, and I will arise and pursue David tonight. I will come upon him while he is weary and discouraged and throw him into a panic, and all the people who are with him will flee. I will strike down only the king, and I will bring all the people back to you as a bride comes home to her husband. You seek the life of only one man, and all the people will be at peace.” And the advice seemed right in the eyes of Absalom and all the elders of Israel.

Then Absalom said, “Call Hushai the Archite also, and let us hear what he has to say.” And when Hushai came to Absalom, Absalom said to him, “Thus has Ahithophel spoken; shall we do as he says? If not, you speak.” Then Hushai said to Absalom, “This time the counsel that Ahithophel has given is not good.” Hushai said, “You know that your father and his men are mighty men, and that they are enraged, like a bear robbed of her cubs in the field. Besides, your father is expert in war; he will not spend the night with the people. Behold, even now he has hidden himself in one of the pits or in some other place. And as soon as some of the people fall at the first attack, whoever hears it will say, ‘There has been a slaughter among the people who follow Absalom.’ Then even the valiant man, whose heart is like the heart of a lion, will utterly melt with fear, for all Israel knows that your father is a mighty man, and that those who are with him are valiant men. But my counsel is that all Israel be gathered to you, from Dan to Beersheba, as the sand by the sea for multitude, and that you go to battle in person. So we shall come upon him in some place where he is to be found, and we shall light upon him as the dew falls on the ground, and of him and all the men with him not one will be left. If he withdraws into a city, then all Israel will bring ropes to that city, and we shall drag it into the valley, until not even a pebble is to be found there.” And Absalom and all the men of Israel said, “The counsel of Hushai the Archite is better than the counsel of Ahithophel.” For the Lord had ordained to defeat the good counsel of Ahithophel, so that the Lord might bring harm upon Absalom. II Samuel 17:1-14 ESV

“Enter by the narrow gate. For the gate is wide and the way is easy that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many. For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few. Matthew 7:13-14 ESV


An American poet named Robert Frost once wrote a poem about a man walking in the woods, and coming to a fork in the road. He was sad that he couldn’t travel on both roads, and he wondered which road would be better for him to take. Both roads looked good to him, but he finally decided to take the one that was less traveled. He was sad, because he knew that he’d never have a chance to come back and travel on the other road. He says that to the end of his life he will wonder if he made the right choice. The poem ends:

“I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.”
There are many times in life when a person has to make a choice, and it’s sometimes hard to know which choice is right. The decisions we make often have an effect on what happens to us later. Even years later some people look back at the choices they’ve made and wonder what might have happened if they’d done things differently. Absalom was at a fork in the road in his rebellion against his father. He got two different pieces of advice. Ahithophel gave him better advice–to go out and attack David and his men right away, to kill David and bring all the people back to Absalom. Hushai said to wait and muster all the troops and have a huge battle. Hushai’s advice was bad advice, but he was giving it for David’s sake. Which advice should Absalom listen to? The road he would take would make all the difference as to whether he won or lost the kingdom. But he and his people foolishly listened to the bad advice, and God used that to stop Absalom.
The most important thing of all is to be on the road that leads to life with God. Many people don’t take this road. They go a different way, away from God, doing things their own way. They find it hard to believe that there is only one way to God, through Jesus. So they don’t come to God through Jesus, but travel the road that leads to separation from God forever. Doing this is the most foolish choice there is. God wants all people to come to him, and he sent Jesus to die on the cross for all people. There is room for everyone in God’s family. God sends us his Holy Spirit so that we turn away from the road that goes the wrong way and put our faith in Jesus. God the Holy Spirit will keep us on the right road, the road that gives us eternal life.
Dear Heavenly Father, thank you for sending us Jesus, our Savior, and for putting us on the road that leads us to you. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.


Lies and Bad Feelings


When David had passed a little beyond the summit, Ziba the servant of Mephibosheth met him, with a couple of donkeys saddled, bearing two hundred loaves of bread, a hundred bunches of raisins, a hundred of summer fruits, and a skin of wine. And the king said to Ziba, “Why have you brought these?” Ziba answered, “The donkeys are for the king’s household to ride on, the bread and summer fruit for the young men to eat, and the wine for those who faint in the wilderness to drink.” And the king said, “And where is your master’s son?” Ziba said to the king, “Behold, he remains in Jerusalem, for he said, ‘Today the house of Israel will give me back the kingdom of my father.’” Then the king said to Ziba, “Behold, all that belonged to Mephibosheth is now yours.” And Ziba said, “I pay homage; let me ever find favor in your sight, my lord the king.” II Samuel 16:1-4 ESV

A dishonest man spreads strife,
and a whisperer separates close friends. Proverbs 16:28 ESV

A lying tongue hates its victims,
and a flattering mouth works ruin. Proverbs 26:28 ESV


Karen’s class was electing a class president, and Karen wanted to win. But she knew she could never win against Betty. Betty was very popular and friendly, and everyone liked her. So Karen told some lies about Betty. She said Betty had stolen money from her, and also that she had seen Betty shoplifting at the store. Karen also did some nice things for the other kids in her class. She bought some candy and gave it out, and she also let some people take her turn on the swings on the playground. Karen was able to turn the kids in the class against Betty and have them vote for her instead.

That’s the kind of thing Ziba did to Mephibosheth. He wanted to get some favors from David, so he told lies about Mephibosheth. He said that Mephibosheth had stayed in Jerusalem because he wanted to be the king. It was a really silly lie, and it’s surprising that David believed it. Absalom was fighting to be the king. Why would he get all kinds of people together to fight against his own father and then give the kingdom to someone else? But David believed Ziba. He was also fooled by the nice thing Ziba did, bringing bread and fruit and wine for all the people who were with David. Ziba turned David against Mephibosheth, and David gave all Mephibosheth’s land to Ziba.

Telling lies like that causes sadness and anger and other bad feelings, and it can also do damage to people’s lives. God commands his people to be truthful and loving when they talk about others. But the worst kind of lie is a lie that tries to separate us from God. There are many lies that come from the sinful world and our own sinful hearts, and there are also the lies the devil tells God’s people. Sometimes we hear lies that say we don’t need God, and can get along without him. Or we might hear a lie that says our sins aren’t so bad, and don’t need to be forgiven, or that we can work out God’s forgiveness for ourselves. But God always tells us the truth. He tells us that he loves us and cares for us, and also that we need his forgiveness. We could never win that forgiveness for ourselves, but Jesus won it for us on the cross. The love Jesus showed on the cross is the truth that ends all the lies that hurt us, and gives us life with God now and forever.


Dear Heavenly Father, thank you for telling us the truth about ourselves and for giving us your love. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Joining the Winning Side


But David went up the ascent of the Mount of Olives, weeping as he went, barefoot and with his head covered. And all the people who were with him covered their heads, and they went up, weeping as they went. And it was told David, “Ahithophel is among the conspirators with Absalom.” And David said, “O Lord, please turn the counsel of Ahithophel into foolishness.”

While David was coming to the summit, where God was worshiped, behold, Hushai the Archite came to meet him with his coat torn and dirt on his head. David said to him, “If you go on with me, you will be a burden to me. But if you return to the city and say to Absalom, ‘I will be your servant, O king; as I have been your father’s servant in time past, so now I will be your servant,’ then you will defeat for me the counsel of Ahithophel. Are not Zadok and Abiathar the priests with you there? So whatever you hear from the king’s house, tell it to Zadok and Abiathar the priests. Behold, their two sons are with them there, Ahimaaz, Zadok’s son, and Jonathan, Abiathar’s son, and by them you shall send to me everything you hear.” So Hushai, David’s friend, came into the city, just as Absalom was entering Jerusalem. II Samuel 15:30-37 ESV

Then Jesus told his disciples, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it. For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul? Or what shall a man give in return for his soul?” Matthew 16:24-26 ESV


During the American Revolutionary War, a man named Benedict Arnold was a captain in the American militia. He fought bravely for the Americans for awhile, but he always felt that he should have more honor and rank than he was given. After awhile he changed over to the British side. At first it was a secret, and he passed information to the British while pretending to still be on the American side. George Washington found out what was happening and sent men to try to arrest him, but they couldn’t catch him. Later he openly changed over and fought on the British side. He hoped to get more honor and rank with the British, but that never happened.

Ahithophel had been a counselor for David, but when it looked as if Absalom would gain the kingdom instead of his father, Ahithophel supported Absalom instead. The Bible doesn’t tell us why Ahithophel turned against his king and supported someone else, but perhaps he thought it would be better for him if he supported the winning side instead of what he thought would be the losing side. Since he thought Absalom would win, he supported Absalom. Loyalty to David and doing the right thing weren’t part of his decision.

It’s easy to want to be on the winning side of something. Jesus warned his disciples that following him wouldn’t mean they would always be winners. Instead, he said that following him meant carrying a cross. That means that people who follow Jesus might suffer for their faith, and other people might think of them as losers, or even try to hurt them. This is all part of carrying the cross and following Jesus. But the most important part of carrying the cross is giving up any idea that we can save ourselves by our good works. We instead know that we are sinful and need Jesus to save us. We give up on ourselves, and trust Jesus to forgive our sins and give us the help we need to get through the struggles of this life.


Dear Jesus, please help us to follow you and be willing to suffer for you. Thank you for your wonderful love that died for us on the cross and forgives all our sins. Amen.