Today’s Reading: 2 Sam 16:1–17:29, 2 Pet 2:1–11, Ps 143:1–12
Today’s Theme: Characters in trying times or the different characters you may meet in trying times.
God has shown me today’s theme a little differently. We will be looking at the different characters and types of people you may face or interact with in trying times. Some of these characters are enemies, while others are friends.
This reminds us of the characters which Pilgrim met on his way to heaven, in John Bunyan’s Pilgrims Progress.
2 Samuel 16:1–17:29
Ziba – the Opportunist
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.” 2 Samuel 16:4 (ESV)
In 2 Samuel 9, David showed kindness to Saul’s house, he asked Ziba if any of the children of Saul’s house were still alive. It is notable that Ziba knew about Mephibosheth but kept the riches of the house of Saul for himself.
David told Ziba in verse 9-10 that the house of Saul would belong to Mephibosheth and that Ziba would serve him. It is likely that this did not sit well with Ziba who had enjoyed the estate of Saul, before David called Mephibosheth back to the kingdom.
Now we see Ziba taking the opportunity to be manipulative, he lies to David that Mephibosheth was being an opportunist when in fact, it was his own scheme to regain the estate of Saul. We read later in 2 Samuel 19:24-30, Mephibosheth’s side of the story which is quite different and his response to David shows that his heart was right.
David judged too quickly in this situation because he was going through a difficult trial, which meant his powers of discernment had dulled.
We need to be aware of the opportunist around us when we are going through a difficult time, they will smell blood and make a plan like Ziba, to benefit themselves through our impaired judgement. See 2 Corinthians 11:13 and 1 Timothy 6:5
Ask God to guide you and give you supernatural discernment in trying times so that you can spot and not be fooled by the opportunists.
Shimei – the Accuser
It may be that the LORD will look on the wrong done to me, and that the LORD will repay me with good for his cursing today.” 2 Samuel 16:12 (ESV)
When we go through trying times, there will be those who come to accuse and mock us, these can be either people or demonic spirits. Revelation 12:10
David recognises the sovereignty of God, even over his accuser and enemy. We must realise too that there is not a single enemy that has free rein to do whatever they want to us, they can only do what God allows and God will never let us go through more than we can bear.
Paul encourages us in 1 Corinthians 10:13, “No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it.”
We are called to stay faithful under trial. If we do stay faithful, God will reward us. David knew this and so he willingly endured the accusation and mockery of the enemy. See James 1:3 and 2 Corinthians 13:5
Know who you are in Christ, do not take the accusations, conjecture, lies and gossip of people or the enemy, to heart. Encourage yourself in the Lord today. See Colossians 3:3 and Ephesians 2:6
Ahithophel – the Traitor
Now in those days the counsel that Ahithophel gave was as if one consulted the word of God; so was all the counsel of Ahithophel esteemed, both by David and by Absalom. 2 Samuel 16:23 (ESV)
Ahithophel was a man driven by the vain worship of his own gift, a man concerned with position, prestige and performance.
He has a touch of the opportunist in him, but is worse. This man is a traitor, playing both sides of the fence to suit his needs, like Judas Iscariot. He betrays those who trust in him.
Notice the similarity between Ahithophel and Judas, they both betray their king and go on to commit suicide. Don’t be a Judas, it will end with your destruction.
At the height of his treachery, he advises Absalom to take David’s concubines and then gives him the advice that would have seen him defeat David.
Traitors are the most dangerous characters we encounter in the difficult times of our lives, they can be people who are close to us or who we trust in, they know us intimately and so can cause more damage than the average adversary.
If you are betrayed in a trying time, remember that Jesus was betrayed too but got the victory in the end.
One way to prepare for betrayal is to put all our trust in God. David and Absalom probably put too much faith in the counsel of this man, making him like an idol. We must remember that even the most gifted people are only human.
Hushai – the Advocate
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. 2 Samuel 17:14 (ESV)
In our trying times, God will send advocates who will speak up for us, defend us and defeat the enemy’s schemes. Our ultimate Advocate (legal counsel) in difficult times is Jesus.
John encourages us in 1 John 2:1, “My little children, I am writing these things to you so that you may not sin. But if anyone does sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous.”
God gave Hushai great wisdom as an advocate for David, by countering the wise counsel of Ahithophel. If we are seeking to be advocates for others when they are going through hard times, we need to ask God to give us wisdom and favour like He did for Hushai.
Advocacy takes us beyond prayer to taking action, God can use His people powerfully if we boldly stand up against injustice.
If you are going through a difficult time, keep your eyes open for the advocates that God will send to defend you and even if you don’t see them, know that God is working it all out. Romans 8:28
Jonathan and Ahimaaz – the Counsellors
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.” 2 Samuel 17:21 (ESV)
In trying times God will send counsellors to give you guidance and advice. The ultimate counsellor is God the Holy Spirit, John 14:26.
Jonathan and Ahimaaz, the sons of the priests, put their lives at risk to bring news to David from Hushai.
If we are going to be counsellors to those going through difficult times, it will cost us personally, it will cost time, money and energy. We need to be willing to take the risk to help others, knowing that God has equipped us to be ministers.
God has called us to encourage one another, spur one another on and warn one another of danger. See 2 Corinthians 13:11, 1 Thessalonians 4:18, 5:11, Hebrews 3:13 and 10:25.
Even if we see a brother going off and seek to restore him, James tells us in James 5:20, “let him know that whoever brings back a sinner from his wandering will save his soul from death and will cover a multitude of sins.”
Ask God to help you identify the counsellors who come to help guide you in difficult times.
Sobi, Machir and Barzillai – the Carers
brought beds, basins, and earthen vessels, wheat, barley, flour, parched grain, beans and lentils, honey and curds and sheep and cheese from the herd, for David and the people with him to eat, for they said, “The people are hungry and weary and thirsty in the wilderness.” 2 Samuel 17:28–29 (ESV)
God will send carers in difficult times, to meet spiritual and physical needs.
One of the things that might happen in a difficult time is that we do not feed on the word as we should, so become hungry and do not rest in the Lord because of fear, anxiety and oppression and so become weary.
God has given us Pastors who feed us the word of God, in good and bad seasons. We should give God thanks for our Pastors who like Sobi, Machir and Barzillai, bring food to God’s people in the wilderness.
Jesus is our ultimate source of satisfying food and rest. Jesus said in Matthew 11:28 “Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.” Jesus also encourages us in John 6:35 “Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me shall not hunger, and whoever believes in me shall never thirst.”
Share the word of God with those going through difficult times and pray that they will come to Jesus, to drink from Him.
We are called to physically help those in actual need of food too, you can do this through Child Sponsorship with Compassion. When we feed the needy, we are feeding the Lord. Matthew 25:35
2 Peter 2:1–11
False Teachers (Heretics) – the Exploiters
And many will follow their sensuality, and because of them the way of truth will be blasphemed. And in their greed they will exploit you with false words. Their condemnation from long ago is not idle, and their destruction is not asleep. 2 Peter 2:2–3 (ESV)
Heresy is a BIG problem in the church today and because of the relative thinking in our culture, the only heresy today seems to be to call something heresy.
Peter is warning us that the church will be plagued by heretics bringing in destructive false teachings, driven by sensuality, greed and a callous desire to exploit God’s people. This has been true throughout church history.
Today’s heretics include those who form cults like Mormonism and Jehovah Witness.
The Heretics which are most dangerous, are those posing as Christians, like the health and wealth gospel proponents on TV.
These new heresies call men gods and say that our goal should be riches in this life. In reality, these false ministers are building their own kingdoms and becoming millionaires, while those who are naive and going through hard times are exploited.
Keep your eyes open to the false prophets that will come to exploit you in your hard times, your defence is the word of God and submission to your own loving Pastors.
God – the Rescuer
then the Lord knows how to rescue the godly from trials, and to keep the unrighteous under punishment until the day of judgment, 2 Peter 2:9 (ESV)
God is the greatest and most important person we meet in our trials, God is the one who has the ability and wisdom to rescue us from our trials.
God knows how to use everyone else we meet on the journey, to bring about our deliverance.
God’s past and present ability to rescue the righteous, while bringing judgment on the unrighteous, is the key theme in verses 5–7 and is now summarised in this verse.
Notice God doesn’t just deliver anyone, He delivers the righteous, those who devoutly live rightly before Him, even under trial. If you know you belong to the Lord then call out to Him in the trials, to help you, because He will.
Be sure to come face to face with God in the middle of your trial, He will deliver you from the schemes of the opportunist, the accusers, the traitors and the false teaching of the exploiters.
God may use you to help rescue one of His people, have your heart in a place to be used by God as an advocate, counsellor, carer or in some other way.
The Holy Spirit – the Teacher
Teach me to do your will, for you are my God! Let your good Spirit lead me on level ground! Psalm 143:10 (ESV)
God will lead us back to level ground by His Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is the most important person in our lives, we need Him in the midst of life’s trials to help keep us on track, to guide us and to lead us back out to the steady ground, from the rocky road that our trials will have us travelling on.
God the Holy Spirit is our teacher, He will be teaching us in our trials, through our trials and in light of our trials.
Jesus said in John 16:13–15 “When the Spirit of truth comes, He will guide you into all the truth, for He will not speak on His own authority, but whatever He hears He will speak, and He will declare to you the things that are to come. He will glorify me, for He will take what is mine and declare it to you. All that the Father has is mine; therefore I said that He will take what is mine and declare it to you.”
Praise God for our teacher, the Holy Spirit. As you go through trials, continue to be led by the teacher, the Holy Spirit.
Most of the above post is a copy of the original notes from the same date in 2014.
The Gospel Coalition on 2 Peter 2