Bible Readings for September 22nd

2 Samuel 18 | 2 Corinthians 11 | Ezekiel 25 | Psalm 73

There is a tragic irony to the way Absalom dies in 2 Samuel 18. Certainly, one of the core components to Absalom’s winsomeness as he stole the hearts of Israel (2 Sam. 15:6) was his physical appearance—including the five pounds (two hundred shekels) of hair that he grew annually (2 Sam. 14:25–26). But his full head of hair turns against him by becoming entangled in the branches of a tree, keeping Absalom suspended helpless in mid-air (2 Sam. 18:9), an easy target for Joab to put him to death (2 Sam. 18:14). The same hair that helped Absalom win support among the people becomes the means of his own demise.

Both Absalom and Saul (1 Sam. 9:2) became popular because of their physical appearance, but yet Yahweh rejected them. Instead, Yahweh insisted that the king of his choice was a man after his own heart (1 Sam. 13:14). Yahweh instructed the prophet Samuel, “Do not look on [Eliab’s] appearance or on the height of his stature, because I have rejected him. For the LORD sees not as man sees: man looks on the outward appearance, but the LORD looks on the heart” (1 Sam. 16:7). Although David was also handsome (1 Sam. 16:12), Yahweh had chosen him for his heart and not his appearance.

Still, as we get deeper into the story of David to assess more and more of his life, we might question whether David’s heart really does follow after Yahweh. After all, this is a man who abused his authority to seduce a woman and murdered her husband to cover up his sin. Then, because he lets his own children literally get away with rape and murder, he ends up facing a mutiny from one of his own sons. What is it that Yahweh sees when he looks upon David’s heart?

Ultimately, David represents not a perfect man but a man who entrusts himself entirely to Yahweh. When Nathan confronts him with his sin, David repents (2 Sam. 12:13). When David and Bathsheba’s baby becomes sick, David fasts and prays (2 Sam. 12:16). When Absalom stages a coup, David prays for deliverance (2 Sam. 15:31). When Shimei curses David, David entrusts justice to Yahweh (2 Sam. 16:12).

Some people live—and die—by their beauty or their strength or their wealth. David, on the other hand, gives us a glimpse of what it looks like to have a heart that follows after the Lord. It doesn’t mean that we are perfect but that we consciously live our whole lives before God. When we sin, we repent and trust Jesus to forgive us our sins. When we suffer, we pray for God’s mercy. When others revile us, we wait for God’s justice. Rather than depending on our outward appearances, our hearts must trust in Yahweh.

Scripture quotations are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a division of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

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