2 Samuel 23

About David
From his youth in Jesse’s household through adulthood, David was known for his relationship with the Lord. The story of David’s life and his many psalms affirm that he was indeed a man after God’s own heart.

David cultivated intimacy with God while tending sheep in the silence and solitude of desert places. Silence and solitude tutored David in the essentials of a meaningful relationship with God. Silence gave the young shepherd boy the opportunity to listen to God. Solitude gave him the opportunity to speak with God. These essential disciplines helped David maintain a lifelong relationship with God.

David went from the sheep folds to the Valley of Elah where Saul’s army occupied a hill opposite the Philistine army. The Valley of Elah became the setting for one of the highest points in David’s life. David demonstrated the importance of standing courageously for God when others oppose God’s way. Armed with his faith in God, David defeated the mighty Philistine giant Goliath. Faith in God became a distinctive characteristic of David’s lifelong relationship with God.


Later, the roof of David’s palace became the setting for one of the lowest points in his life. The decision David made on the roof led him to commit the sins of adultery and murder. Through that experience David discovered that God holds people accountable for their sins and forgives those who genuinely confess their sins. He discovered that confession of sin is essential to maintaining a lifelong relationship with God.

When David learned that God would not allow him to build the temple, rather than insisting on his own will, David humbly followed God’s will. He sacrificially invested in the project he would not personally see through to completion. David demonstrated that following God’s will is essential to maintaining a lifelong relationship with Him.

23:1 These are the last words of David:

“The inspired utterance of David son of Jesse,
    the utterance of the man exalted by the Most High,
the man anointed by the God of Jacob,
    the hero of Israel’s songs:

We can learn much about David’s relationship with God by reading the psalms he wrote. David’s psalms are a personal record of his intimate relationship with God. David’s final words also help us understand that he had made his life count for God.

David’s last words (v. 1) may have been his last official pronouncement but not necessarily the words he uttered before dying (compare 1 Kings 2:1-10). David’s oracle affirms that he was chosen by the Lord to lead Israel, was loved as a singer (v. 1), and that God spoke through him (v. 2).

One day we will speak our last words. Perhaps we will have the opportunity to share our last words with those closest to us. Regardless of whether we have that opportunity or not, we should live in such a way that the words others speak about us affirm that we had a meaningful relationship with God. One answer to the question, How can I make my life count for God? is that I must live each day in intimate fellowship with Him.

23:2 “The Spirit of the Lord spoke through me;
    his word was on my tongue.

23:3 The God of Israel spoke,
    the Rock of Israel said to me:
‘When one rules over people in righteousness,
    when he rules in the fear of God,

23:4 he is like the light of morning at sunrise
    on a cloudless morning,
like the brightness after rain
    that brings grass from the earth.’

The Lord had instructed David that Israel’s ruler must be characterized by righteousness and by a reverence for God (v. 3). Such a leader would bless others by his shining example and have a strong, positive influence on others (v. 4). David had a positive influence on others while he lived and after his death. His life became the standard against which the lives of subsequent kings were measured (for example, see 1 Kings 15:3). His example continues to influence and bless people today as they study the record of his life and read his many psalms.

We too must live each day with the understanding that our example and influence can either bless or harm others. Whether we realize it or not, some people look to us and to the example we set for the nourishment to make it through another day. Think about it. There are people whose lives are nourished by ours. People who eat the bread of our influence, long for the fruit of our praise, and drink from the fountain of our example. There are people who watch us and notice what we do and how we do it and why we do it. There are people who look to us for the encouragement to go on, for the reassurance that life’s obstacles can be overcome, and for a greater understanding of how to live life in a way that is pleasing to God.

On occasion we are made aware of how others have been refreshed by us through expressions like: “You are a blessing to me,” or “I have been greatly encouraged by you,” or “I appreciate you.” These are indications that other people’s lives are indeed nourished by ours, that others draw from the well of our example, and that many drink from the stream of our influence. It is therefore, incumbent upon us to carefully guard our influence.

Jesus said that salt that has become tasteless “is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled by men” (Matt. 5:13). And so it is with our influence if it becomes polluted. We must determine to live our lives in such a way that we are a blessing to others. In addition to living each day in intimate fellowship with God, a second answer to the question, How can I make my life count for God? is that I must live a life that blesses others.

23:5 “If my house were not right with God,
    surely he would not have made with me an everlasting covenant,
    arranged and secured in every part;
surely he would not bring to fruition my salvation
    and grant me my every desire.

23:6 But evil men are all to be cast aside like thorns,
    which are not gathered with the hand.

23:7  Whoever touches thorns
    uses a tool of iron or the shaft of a spear;
    they are burned up where they lie.”

David recalled that God had made an everlasting covenant with him (v. 5). God promised David that his dynasty would endure — all the way to the Messiah, the King of Kings (2 Sam. 7:12-16). David indicated he was sure God would keep His promise. After David’s death there were times when people questioned whether God would actually keep His promise to David (see Ps. 89). However, as David had indicated when he spoke his final words, God did indeed keep His promise (see Ps. 89:34-36).

Old Testament prophets like Isaiah (9:6-7), Jeremiah (23:5), and Ezekiel (37:24-25) understood the significance of God’s promise to David. They looked beyond the immediate fulfillment of God’s promise in the person of Solomon and David’s descendants on the throne of Judah. They understood that the Messiah would come from David’s line. When Jesus was born, the angel Gabriel affirmed that He was the One whom Israel had been awaiting since David’s day (see Luke 1:32-33). The salvation (v. 5) David and other Old Testament believers looked forward to was fulfilled in Jesus Christ.

Like David, we too need to realize that God keeps His promises. God has promised that those who are in a right relationship with Him will be saved and those who are evil will be punished (vv. 6-7). We can make our lives count for God by believing His promises and receiving His salvation. And, like David, we should take measures to insure that our house is right with God (v. 5).

The greatest legacy we can leave is a household of faith. In addition to living each day in intimate fellowship with God and living a life that blesses others, a third answer to the question, How can I make my life count for God? is that I must hold to God’s promises confidently.

23:8 These are the names of David’s mighty warriors:

Josheb-Basshebeth, a Tahkemonite, was chief of the Three; he raised his spear against eight hundred men, whom he killed in one encounter.

23:9 Next to him was Eleazar son of Dodai the Ahohite. As one of the three mighty warriors, he was with David when they taunted the Philistines gathered at Pas Dammim  for battle. Then the Israelites retreated,

23:10 but Eleazar stood his ground and struck down the Philistines till his hand grew tired and froze to the sword. The Lord brought about a great victory that day. The troops returned to Eleazar, but only to strip the dead.

23:11 Next to him was Shammah son of Agee the Hararite. When the Philistines banded together at a place where there was a field full of lentils, Israel’s troops fled from them.

23:12 But Shammah took his stand in the middle of the field. He defended it and struck the Philistines down, and the Lord brought about a great victory.

23:13 During harvest time, three of the thirty chief warriors came down to David at the cave of Adullam, while a band of Philistines was encamped in the Valley of Rephaim.

23:14 At that time David was in the stronghold, and the Philistine garrison was at Bethlehem.

23:15 David longed for water and said, “Oh, that someone would get me a drink of water from the well near the gate of Bethlehem!”

23:16 So the three mighty warriors broke through the Philistine lines, drew water from the well near the gate of Bethlehem and carried it back to David. But he refused to drink it; instead, he poured it out before the Lord.

23:17 “Far be it from me, Lord, to do this!” he said. “Is it not the blood of men who went at the risk of their lives?” And David would not drink it.

Such were the exploits of the three mighty warriors.

23:18 Abishai the brother of Joab son of Zeruiah was chief of the Three. He raised his spear against three hundred men, whom he killed, and so he became as famous as the Three.

23:19 Was he not held in greater honor than the Three? He became their commander, even though he was not included among them.

23:20 Benaiah son of Jehoiada, a valiant fighter from Kabzeel, performed great exploits. He struck down Moab’s two mightiest warriors. He also went down into a pit on a snowy day and killed a lion.

23:21 And he struck down a huge Egyptian. Although the Egyptian had a spear in his hand, Benaiah went against him with a club. He snatched the spear from the Egyptian’s hand and killed him with his own spear.

23:22 Such were the exploits of Benaiah son of Jehoiada; he too was as famous as the three mighty warriors.

23:23 He was held in greater honor than any of the Thirty, but he was not included among the Three. And David put him in charge of his bodyguard.

23:24 Among the Thirty were: Asahel the brother of Joab, Elhanan son of Dodo from Bethlehem,

23:25 Shammah the Harodite, Elika the Harodite,

23:26 Helez the Paltite, Ira son of Ikkesh from Tekoa,

23:27 Abiezer from Anathoth, Sibbekai the Hushathite,

23:28 Zalmon the Ahohite, Maharai the Netophathite,

23:29 Heled son of Baanah the Netophathite, Ithai son of Ribai from Gibeah in Benjamin,

23:30 Benaiah the Pirathonite, Hiddai from the ravines of Gaash,

23:31 Abi-Albon the Arbathite, Azmaveth the Barhumite,

23:32 Eliahba the Shaalbonite, the sons of Jashen, Jonathan

23:33 Shammah the Hararite, Ahiam son of Sharar the Hararite,

23:34 Eliphelet son of Ahasbai the Maakathite, Eliam son of Ahithophel the Gilonite,

23:35 Hezro the Carmelite, Paarai the Arbite,

23:36 Igal son of Nathan from Zobah, the son of Hagri,

23:37 Zelek the Ammonite, Naharai the Beerothite, the armor-bearer of Joab son of Zeruiah,

23:38 Ira the Ithrite, Gareb the Ithrite

23:39 and Uriah the Hittite. There were thirty-seven in all.

Your Legacy

LifeWay Research found that teens, who, at the age of 17, have parents who are authentic examples of Christian faith—proactive and consistent in living out their faith—are more likely to stay in church as young adults. Additionally, “20 percent more of those teens who stayed in church indicated they had parents or family members who discussed spiritual things, gave them spiritual guidance, and prayed together” (“Parents, Churches Can Help Teens Stay in Church,” http://www.lifewayresearch.com).

This study underscores the need for children and teens to see a vibrant faith in the lives of adults. Parents are responsible for their children’s spiritual development, and parents and churches need to be intentional in spiritually influencing future generations.

As much as I hate to think about it, I will die one day. But, my influence does not have to die with me. I can build and leave a godly legacy for my children and those under my influence. In the 30th Psalm, King David complained, “What gain is there in my death, in my descending to the Pit? Will the dust praise You? Will it proclaim Your truth?” (30:9). David’s first question can only be answered by God. However, we can answer the other questions.

For those who have intentionally built a godly legacy, their dust can praise God from the grave and proclaim His truth. What we teach the present generation matters and will outlive us. Our words and example can continue to influence the next generation from the grave. I want to live in such a way that my children will be inspired to build their lives on a foundation of obedience to God, even after I am in the grave.

Deuteronomy 6:1-5

Building on the right foundation is essential to the integrity of any structure, including the structure of our lives. Jesus compared those who hear and obey His words to those who build on a solid foundation (Matt. 7:24-27).

Moses also affirmed the importance of obeying God’s statutes and ordinances (Deut. 6:1). Hearing God’s word should cause us to fear the Lord (6:2) or to have reverence for Him (Ps. 119:138). The way you fear the Lord and show that you revere Him is by obeying Him. The relationship between obedience and blessing is a recurring theme in Deuteronomy. The Bible affirms the general principle expressed in Deuteronomy 6:3 that those who obey God’s word fare better than those who despise it (see Prov. 13:13).

Deuteronomy 6:4 introduces the “Shema” — the great confession of faith of Judaism. The designation “shema” comes from the Hebrew word listen in verse 4. This confession of faith starts with the declaration that the Lord is One. This was an important confession for a people at the intersection of a past in which they had been exposed to the polytheism of Egypt and a future that would expose them to the gods of the Canaanites.

As the Israelites prepared to enter the Promised Land, Moses challenged them to love God affectionately, entirely, and energetically. In repeating this command, Jesus added that we are also to love God intelligently or “with all your mind” (Mark 12:30). There is nothing unreasonable about loving God. Our love for Him is best demonstrated by obeying His commands.

Building a godly legacy begins with establishing the right foundation. The most solid foundation that parents can build upon is a sound biblical worldview. Parents must know what they believe, own what they believe, and then believe what they own. The choices we make every day should be consistent with what we believe.

A legacy is built one choice at a time. All parents leave a legacy but not all parents leave a godly legacy. Parents who proactively and consistently live out their faith are more likely to have a positive impact on the next generation. However, all parents should realize that it’s never too late to begin building on a good foundation. While we can never go back and make a new start, it is possible to start now and make a new end. You can finish well regardless of how old you are.

Deuteronomy 6:6-9

Parents are to be the primary faith trainers of their children. Moses instructed parents to teach their children about God. However, owning the message must precede sharing the message.

Parents and church leaders cannot pass on to the next generation what they themselves do not possess in their own hearts. The home is the most natural place for parents to share the message about God with their children.

My own theological education began at home when I was a child. My parents and grandparents were intentional about teaching me about God. Our family faith talks helped me to develop an awareness of the bigness of God and impressed upon me the importance of loving and obeying Him.

Moses provided practical instruction concerning how to share the message about God and His purposes. First, he suggested that parents employ repetition, which essentially meant sharing the message “line after line, a little here, a little there” (Isa. 28:10). Repetition is a basic learning technique that can help children to memorize key verses and learn foundational truths about God. Parents should also make conversations about God a seamless part of everyday life.

When our children were young, my wife and I looked for teachable moments to talk about God and to model for our children what it means to love God and serve others. Parents must combine instruction with incarnation or living out the truths they are trying to teach their children.

The most immediate legacy we can leave is the life we live before they eyes of our children and grandchildren.

Moses also encouraged parents to bind God’s commands to their bodies and to write them on the doorposts and gates of their houses (6:8-9). In later times, the Jews interpreted literally these instructions and placed the words of the shema in small containers worn on the person (phylacteries) and attached to their homes (mezuzahs). However, over time these outward trappings became more important than what they symbolized.

Even today, it is easy for Christian parents to hang plaques with Scripture messages in our homes and yet never talk about or live out the messages on display. While our children can certainly benefit from what is written and placed on our doorposts and gates, we must live the message if we expect it to become a part of our legacy.

Deuteronomy 6:10-15a

In anticipation of the blessings they would receive in the Promised Land, Moses warned the Israelites not to let the good things they would experience there take their focus off of God. He understood that prosperity and abundance can easily lead to arrogance and cause us to lose perspective.

Our human tendency is to not value the things we freely receive or to convince ourselves that we are entitled to the things we have. Prosperity can cause us to forget that God is the source of “every generous act and every perfect gift” (James 1:17). God’s blessings should humble and inspire us to acknowledge Him as the true source of all blessings. He alone deserves our gratitude.

Moses offered the people an antidote to counteract the myopic effects of prosperity.

First, fear the Lord. Fear is the attitude that recognizes the holy character of God. The fear of God should motivate us to holy living.

Second, worship Him. Service was prescribed as a means of remembering God. Those who fear God and live in close communion with Him will faithfully serve Him. Worshiping and serving Him also helps us to keep things in proper perspective by reminding us of His kindness to us.

Third, Moses prescribed swearing or taking oaths by God’s name as a means of remembering Him. Oaths were not to be made in the name of any other god.

Moses restated the first commandment — Do not follow other gods (6:14). These words apply to us as well. Although we do not have to contend with the gods of the Canaanites, we must constantly resist the lure of society’s gods — gods that tempt us to do and to get and to be something other than what God desires. Our love for God should be unrivaled, undivided, and unbridled.

Moses warned the Israelites to have absolutely nothing to do with the gods of the peoples around them. He offered two reasons for doing so. First, because God is among you — He is not an absent God who does not care, but One who is intimately concerned about the welfare of His people. Second, because God is a jealous God who alone was responsible for their deliverance from Egypt, their survival in the wilderness, and their arrival in the Promised Land.

As we look to the future, we must do more than plan for the financial legacy we will leave. While that is important, it is not the most important thing. The more important and greater legacy is our walk with Christ. Long after we are in the grave, our children will be better served by the lessons they learned from our devotion to Christ than by the dollars we leave behind. The best thing that we can do for our children and those under our influence is to intentionally live out our faith in words and actions. By doing so, we can help them to see God clearly and serve Him faithfully, long after we are in the grave.

Final Thoughts

Most of us do not think much about our ancestors. Nor do we think much about the fact that we will one day be ancestors to those who come after us.

We tend to give little thought to how future generations will be impacted by our words and actions. My prayer is that those who come after me will look back and thank God for my faithfulness. The day is coming when I will join my ancestors, but I pray that my influence will continue to touch the future through those in whom I have invested. Here are some practical pointers for how to live each day with the next generation in mind.

L = Look at your children and those under your influence. Try to envision what God can do in and through them if you will teach them through your words and actions.

E = Do not underestimate the power of your example. Words alone are not enough to influence the next generation.

G = Do not turn your home into a grave for the living, focusing only on yourself and your comforts. Get your children involved in loving and serving others outside your home.

A = Build accountability into your life. Ask your spouse or a trusted friend to keep you from making choices that will hurt the kingdom, ruin your influence, or bring shame on your family.

C = Stay committed for a lifetime. Continue to invest a godly example in your children even after they are grown.

Y = Yield your personal rights for the sake of others. Do not engage in behaviors that might confuse or cause others to stumble.

Not long after my mother passed away, my sister found this sentence written in one of our mother’s journals: “My Legacy: I want to leave the love of the Word of God to my children.” Although my mother has joined our ancestors, her words and personal example of selfless service continue to inspire me to build on the right foundation. I want to live in a way that will lead my children to do the same.

1 Samuel 2

2:1 Then Hannah prayed and said: “My heart rejoices in the Lord;
    in the Lord my horn is lifted high. 
My mouth boasts over my enemies,
 for I delight in your deliverance.

2:2 “There is no one holy like the Lord;
 there is no one besides you; there is no Rock like our God.

2:3 “Do not keep talking so proudly
 or let your mouth speak such arrogance,
for the Lord is a God who knows,
 and by him deeds are weighed.

2:4 “The bows of the warriors are broken,
 but those who stumbled are armed with strength.


2:5 Those who were full hire themselves out for food,
 but those who were hungry are hungry no more.
She who was barren has borne seven children,
 but she who has had many sons pines away.

2:6 “The Lord brings death and makes alive;
 he brings down to the grave and raises up.


2:7 The Lord sends poverty and wealth;
 he humbles and he exalts.


2:8 He raises the poor from the dust
 and lifts the needy from the ash heap;
he seats them with princes
    and has them inherit a throne of honor. “For the foundations of the earth are the Lord’s;
 on them he has set the world.


2:9 He will guard the feet of his faithful servants,
 but the wicked will be silenced in the place of darkness. “It is not by strength that one prevails;

2:10 those who oppose the Lord will be broken.
The Most High will thunder from heaven;
 the Lord will judge the ends of the earth. “He will give strength to his king
 and exalt the horn of his anointed.”

2:11 Then Elkanah went home to Ramah, but the boy ministered before the Lord under Eli the priest.

After Hannah and her husband returned to their home, Samuel stayed and served “under Eli the priest” (2:11). Her young son continued to “grow both in stature and in favor with the Lord and also with men” (2:26). Like Hannah, parents should desire to see their children involved in life-long service to the Lord.

2:12 Eli’s sons were scoundrels; they had no regard for the Lord.

2:13 Now it was the practice of the priests that, whenever any of the people offered a sacrifice, the priest’s servant would come with a three-pronged fork in his hand while the meat was being boiled

2:14 and would plunge the fork into the pan or kettle or caldron or pot. Whatever the fork brought up the priest would take for himself. This is how they treated all the Israelites who came to Shiloh.

2:15 But even before the fat was burned, the priest’s servant would come and say to the person who was sacrificing, “Give the priest some meat to roast; he won’t accept boiled meat from you, but only raw.”

2:16 If the person said to him, “Let the fat be burned first, and then take whatever you want,” the servant would answer, “No, hand it over now; if you don’t, I’ll take it by force.”

2:17 This sin of the young men was very great in the Lord’s sight, for they[b] were treating the Lord’s offering with contempt.

2:18 But Samuel was ministering before the Lord—a boy wearing a linen ephod.

2:19 Each year his mother made him a little robe and took it to him when she went up with her husband to offer the annual sacrifice.

Hannah kept Samuel home until she had weaned him and then took him to the tabernacle at Shiloh, the place where she had prayed for a son. At Shiloh, Hannah made a large offering and dedicated Samuel to God’s service. From that point on Samuel lived with Eli the priest at Shiloh. Hannah had the opportunity to see Samuel every year when she and Elkanah would return there “to offer the annual sacrifice” (2:19). And, every year Hannah would bring Samuel a robe just like the one that Eli wore (2:18-19). Hannah praised and thanked God for answering her prayer for a son.

2:20 Eli would bless Elkanah and his wife, saying, “May the Lord give you children by this woman to take the place of the one she prayed for and gave to the Lord.” Then they would go home.

2:21 And the Lord was gracious to Hannah; she gave birth to three sons and two daughters. Meanwhile, the boy Samuel grew up in the presence of the Lord.

2:22 Now Eli, who was very old, heard about everything his sons were doing to all Israel and how they slept with the women who served at the entrance to the tent of meeting.

2:23 So he said to them, “Why do you do such things? I hear from all the people about these wicked deeds of yours.

2:24 No, my sons; the report I hear spreading among the Lord’s people is not good.

2:25 If one person sins against another, God may mediate for the offender; but if anyone sins against the Lord, who will intercede for them?” His sons, however, did not listen to their father’s rebuke, for it was the Lord’s will to put them to death.

2:26 And the boy Samuel continued to grow in stature and in favor with the Lord and with people.

2:27 Now a man of God came to Eli and said to him, “This is what the Lord says: ‘Did I not clearly reveal myself to your ancestor’s family when they were in Egypt under Pharaoh?

2:28 I chose your ancestor out of all the tribes of Israel to be my priest, to go up to my altar, to burn incense, and to wear an ephod in my presence. I also gave your ancestor’s family all the food offerings presented by the Israelites.

2:29 Why do you scorn my sacrifice and offering that I prescribed for my dwelling? Why do you honor your sons more than me by fattening yourselves on the choice parts of every offering made by my people Israel?’

2:30 “Therefore the Lord, the God of Israel, declares: ‘I promised that members of your family would minister before me forever.’ But now the Lord declares: ‘Far be it from me! Those who honor me I will honor, but those who despise me will be disdained.

2:31 The time is coming when I will cut short your strength and the strength of your priestly house, so that no one in it will reach old age,

2:32 and you will see distress in my dwelling. Although good will be done to Israel, no one in your family line will ever reach old age.

2:33 Every one of you that I do not cut off from serving at my altar I will spare only to destroy your sight and sap your strength, and all your descendants will die in the prime of life.

2:34 “‘And what happens to your two sons, Hophni and Phinehas, will be a sign to you—they will both die on the same day.

2:35 I will raise up for myself a faithful priest, who will do according to what is in my heart and mind. I will firmly establish his priestly house, and they will minister before my anointed one always.

2:36 Then everyone left in your family line will come and bow down before him for a piece of silver and a loaf of bread and plead, “Appoint me to some priestly office so I can have food to eat.”’”

1 Samuel 12

12:1 Samuel said to all Israel, “I have listened to everything you said to me and have set a king over you.

12:2 Now you have a king as your leader. As for me, I am old and gray, and my sons are here with you. I have been your leader from my youth until this day.

Samuel is one of the most significant figures in the Old Testament. He was born in the days before Israel had a king. During the tumultuous period between Joshua and Saul, the tribes of Israel were led by judges or military leaders who delivered the people from nations seeking to oppress them.

Samuel served as the last judge and the first king-maker. He also served in the roles of priest and prophet. When the elders of Israel appealed to Samuel for a king “as all the other nations have” (1 Sam. 8:5), Samuel warned them about the dangers of a monarchy and reluctantly agreed to give them a king. Saul was later selected to be the first king over Israel.

12:3 Here I stand. Testify against me in the presence of the Lord and his anointed. Whose ox have I taken? Whose donkey have I taken? Whom have I cheated? Whom have I oppressed? From whose hand have I accepted a bribe to make me shut my eyes? If I have done any of these things, I will make it right.”

12:4 “You have not cheated or oppressed us,” they replied. “You have not taken anything from anyone’s hand.”

12:5 Samuel said to them, “The Lord is witness against you, and also his anointed is witness this day, that you have not found anything in my hand.”

“He is witness,” they said.

12:6 Then Samuel said to the people, “It is the Lord who appointed Moses and Aaron and brought your ancestors up out of Egypt.

12:7 Now then, stand here, because I am going to confront you with evidence before the Lord as to all the righteous acts performed by the Lord for you and your ancestors.

12:8 “After Jacob entered Egypt, they cried to the Lord for help, and the Lord sent Moses and Aaron, who brought your ancestors out of Egypt and settled them in this place.

12:9 “But they forgot the Lord their God; so he sold them into the hand of Sisera, the commander of the army of Hazor, and into the hands of the Philistines and the king of Moab, who fought against them.

12:10 They cried out to the Lord and said, ‘We have sinned; we have forsaken the Lord and served the Baals and the Ashtoreths. But now deliver us from the hands of our enemies, and we will serve you.’

12:11 Then the Lord sent Jerub-Baal, Barak, Jephthah and Samuel, and he delivered you from the hands of your enemies all around you, so that you lived in safety.

12:12 “But when you saw that Nahash king of the Ammonites was moving against you, you said to me, ‘No, we want a king to rule over us’—even though the Lord your God was your king.

12:13 Now here is the king you have chosen, the one you asked for; see, the Lord has set a king over you.

On the day that Samuel presented Saul to the nation, the people acknowledged that Samuel had led them with integrity. Samuel also reminded them about the Lord’s righteous acts in behalf of them and their ancestors (12:7). However, in spite of Samuel’s capable leadership as a judge and the Lord’s faithfulness to deliver them from their enemies, the people had still insisted on having a king.

12:14 If you fear the Lord and serve and obey him and do not rebel against his commands, and if both you and the king who reigns over you follow the Lord your God—good!

12:15 But if you do not obey the Lord, and if you rebel against his commands, his hand will be against you, as it was against your ancestors.

 Samuel told the people that all would be well as long as they and the king obeyed the Lord. He also warned them that failure to obey God would invite trouble. The people acknowledged their sin and pleaded with Samuel to pray for them.

12:16 “Now then, stand still and see this great thing the Lord is about to do before your eyes!

12:17 Is it not wheat harvest now? I will call on the Lord to send thunder and rain. And you will realize what an evil thing you did in the eyes of the Lord when you asked for a king.”

12:18 Then Samuel called on the Lord, and that same day the Lord sent thunder and rain. So all the people stood in awe of the Lord and of Samuel.

12:19 The people all said to Samuel, “Pray to the Lord your God for your servants so that we will not die, for we have added to all our other sins the evil of asking for a king.”

One of the wisest decisions the people of Israel made was asking Samuel to pray for them. James affirms that the prayer of a righteous person is effective (James 5:16). Jeremiah the prophet regarded Samuel and Moses as two great intercessors of Israel (Jer. 15:1).

12:20 “Do not be afraid,” Samuel replied. “You have done all this evil; yet do not turn away from the Lord, but serve the Lord with all your heart.

12:21 Do not turn away after useless idols. They can do you no good, nor can they rescue you, because they are useless.

12:22 For the sake of his great name the Lord will not reject his people, because the Lord was pleased to make you his own.

12:23 As for me, far be it from me that I should sin against the Lord by failing to pray for you. And I will teach you the way that is good and right.

Samuel prayed for the Israelites to be God’s people and remained committed to teaching them what was right. He expressed that it would be a sin to not pray for those entrusted to him. Like Samuel, we never retire from the ministry of prayer or service to others. One of the kindest things we can do for others is to pray for them.

I have made it a point over the years to ask those whom I regard as faithful intercessors to pray for me. And I take seriously the requests of others to pray for them. I was fortunate to learn about the importance of prayer and how to pray from some godly mentors.

It is likely that Samuel was influenced to become a righteous man of prayer because of his mother’s example. Parents should be intentional about teaching the next generation to pray and to remember what God has done for them. Considering what God has done for us should be a great incentive to remain faithful to Him.

12:24 But be sure to fear the Lord and serve him faithfully with all your heart; consider what great things he has done for you.

12:25 Yet if you persist in doing evil, both you and your king will perish.”

Genesis 11

On December 30, 1968, the late Frank Sinatra recorded the song entitled “My Way.” Written especially for him by songwriter Paul Anka, this song resonated with Baby Boomers, dubbed the Me Generation. The lyrics tell the story of a man who is nearing the end of his life and reflects on the challenges he faced and the choices he made. He ultimately concludes that he is satisfied with his life because he did things his way.

Sinatra’s song would have been popular among the people who set out to build the Tower of Babylon. Within a few short generations after the Flood, humanity had already lost sight of the judgment that had wiped every living thing off the face of the earth. People continued to disobey God and instead stubbornly determined to do things their own way. They pursued their own selfish ambitions and sought to find ways to make themselves famous.

The builders of the Tower of Babylon were certainly neither the first nor the last to insist on doing things their own way. There is certainly something about our sinful nature that delights in self-centered pursuits, in doing things the way we want to do them. Life ultimately is about the choices we make and whether we give any consideration to God and His purposes. One day, we will all likely look back and reflect on how we lived our lives and whether we did things our way or God’s way.

The Context
God charged Noah’s three sons and their wives with the responsibility of multiplying and populating the earth. The descendants of Noah’s sons are listed in Genesis 10, a passage often called The Table of Nations. This genealogical list includes the descendants of Japheth (Gen. 10:2-5), the descendants of Ham (Gen. 10:6-20), and the descendants of Shem (Gen. 10:21-31). Nimrod, the father of the Babylonian civilization, was a descendant of Ham while the Hebrew people are descendants of Shem. Babylon would become the enemy of God’s people. For several generations after the Flood, all of the people in the world spoke the same language.

Many people chose to settle in the cities of Nimrod in the land of Shinar. Those who settled in the place that later came to be called Babylon decided to build an impressive tower. This tower was a symbol of their arrogance and independence from God. The tower builders cleverly utilized available natural resources to fashion the bricks that would enable them to build a tower so high that the world would take notice. God, however, took notice and concluded that if the people built their tower they would become emboldened to pursue other projects apart from Him. He therefore confused the language of the people which resulted in their being scattered throughout the earth.

After the account of the Tower of Babylon, Shem’s genealogy is repeated and expanded to include his descendants leading up to Abram. Abram, later known as Abraham, became the father of the Jewish nation. Beginning with Abraham, the Bible tells the story of God’s interaction with this man and his descendants. The Messiah, whose coming was foretold in Genesis 3:15, was a descendant of Abraham. His birth changed the course of human history.

11:1 Now the whole world had one language and a common speech.

Human beings alone have the power of speech. While animals have ways of communicating with one another, only humans use spoken words. We use language to express thoughts and ideas, to forge friendships, and even to communicate with future generations. Speaking a common language certainly makes it easier to promote unity among people. Differences in language, however, can create barriers, suspicion, and even separation between individuals and groups.

We don’t know what language Adam and Eve spoke or if eventually more than one language was spoken before the Flood. However, for several generations after the Flood, the whole earth spoke the same language, essentially the language that Noah and his family had spoken. The population of the whole earth at that time had probably spread only as far as the Mesopotamian Valley.

11:2 As people moved eastward, they found a plain in Shinarb and settled there.

As the descendants of Noah multiplied, they also began to migrate from the east. After God had driven Adam and Eve out of the garden, He stationed cherubim east of the garden to restrict their access to the tree of life (see Gen. 3:4). When God cast Cain from His presence, Cain settled in a place east of Eden (see Gen. 4:16). The east became the starting point of the movement to multiply and fill the earth.



Nimrod, one of Noah’s descendants, apparently led many people to settle in a valley in the land of Shinar. Nimrod was “the first powerful man on earth” (Gen. 10:8). He was, undoubtedly, an extremely influential man whose fame endured for many generations.

Micah, the Old Testament prophet, later referred to the land of Assyria as “the land of Nimrod” (Micah 5:6). Nimrod is regarded as the founder of the Babylonian civilization. His name means “we shall rebel” — an appropriate moniker since he influenced many to settle in his city rather than to obey God’s command to scatter and fill the earth.

11:3 They said to each other, “Come, let’s make bricks and bake them thoroughly.” They used brick instead of stone, and tar for mortar.

Those who migrated to Shinar chose to stay there and disregarded God’s command to scatter and subdue the earth. These settlers determined to build a city with an impressive tower as its defining feature. Those who choose to disobey God are often very resourceful. The scarcity of stones in the area did not deter the people from pursuing their ambitious building project.

Instead of building with stones, they made oven-fired bricks from materials readily available in the area. Brick-making was already common in the construction of homes. The adobe-type bricks used in simple home construction were made of mud and water mixed with a binding material and then sun dried. However, the multi-story building project in Shinar was much more ambitious and required durable oven-fired bricks. Asphalt, another material readily available, was used to mortar the bricks together.

11:4 Then they said, “Come, let us build ourselves a city, with a tower that reaches to the heavens, so that we may make a name for ourselves; otherwise we will be scattered over the face of the whole earth.”

The phrase let us is used twice in this verse and once in the previous verse, suggesting that the ambition of the people was egocentric. Their desire was to build for themselves a city and a tower. Their motivation for building was to make a name for ourselves. The people were filled with pride and interested in promoting their own fame rather than God’s. The people were united in their efforts. The passage gives no indication that any person offered pushback or tried to suggest that they consult God before proceeding. It is never wise to leave God out of any building enterprise (see Ps. 127:1).

The tower is described as having its top in the sky. This does not mean that the tower would literally reach to heaven but instead was a structure of great height in relation to everything else around it. The construction of the tower was likely in the form of a ziggurat, a pyramidal structure with receding tiers and a flat top. The people thought that the presence of such a tower in their city would make them famous. The also believed that their tower would serve as a landmark to attract others and to dissuade people from “being scattered over the face of the earth.”

The word Babel means “the gate of the gods.” The Tower of Babylon was a religious structure. Like other ziggurats, it was designed for the worship of pagan gods and even for the practice of human sacrifice. It was a place where people hoped to make a connection with the gods or goddesses they worshiped. The Tower of Babylon is an indication that in the few short generations after the Flood, humanity had again wandered far from God and neglected to worship Him alone. Those who are far from God tend to make bad decisions.

11:5 But the Lord came down to see the city and the tower the people were building.

The people who settled in Shinar determined to construct the city and the tower without God’s approval. They were undoubtedly proud of their plans, especially their plans to build a grand tower that would reach up to the sky. Their plans and construction activity did not go unnoticed. The Lord, in fact, took an interest in what they were doing and came down to look things over. The expression came down is a human way of describing the involvement of God in the matter. God, of course, is omniscient and did not need to come down in order to to see what was going on.

The city and the tower that seemed great in the people’s eyes were not so great in God’s eyes. Although the people were proud of their tall tower, God still had to come down to look at it. When we lose sight of how big God is, then it becomes easier for us to see our own accomplishments as bigger than they actually are. Our pride always grows in proportion to the distance between us and God. The father from God the greater the pride.

To the Creator of the macroscopic — the universe and everything in it — the Tower of Babylon was microscopic and unimpressive by comparison. God came down to look at the tiny tower and, more importantly, to hold the people accountable for engaging in this prideful initiative without His approval and without regard for Him. This would become among the first of many occasions in the Scriptures that illustrate the truth that pride often goes before destruction (see Prov. 16:18).

11:6 The Lord said, “If as one people speaking the same language they have begun to do this, then nothing they plan to do will be impossible for them.

God was concerned about humanity’s inclination to pursue their own ambitions without regard for Him. With a common language to unite them and to facilitate communication, the people were poised to fulfill whatever evil purposes they desired. Filled with pride, they were intent on building a civilization that did not acknowledge God. Humanity was on a slippery slope that would plunge mankind into deeper rebellion against God. God, therefore, had no choice but to intervene. He had to restrain the people and to frustrate their plans which would have driven them even farther away from Him and His redemptive purposes.

11:7 Come, let us go down and confuse their language so they will not understand each other.”

11:8 So the Lord scattered them from there over all the earth, and they stopped building the city.

God had finally had enough and decided to go down there and deal with the rebellion. He was not interested in destroying the people but in keeping the people from destroying themselves by establishing a way of life that excluded Him. And, rather than destroying the tower, God instead intervened by confusing the language of the people so that the builders could no longer understand one another’s speech. The inability to communicate with one another brought the people’s prideful project to a halt — “they stopped building the city.”

Ultimately, what the people feared most is what God allowed to happen to them. The people had followed Nimrod to his cities in defiance of God’s command to fill the earth. They did not want to be scattered but preferred instead to determine their own future. The Lord Himself, however, scattered them from their comfortable valley in the land of Shinar over the face of the whole earth. It is likely that those who spoke the same language united and then eventually wandered off to find new places to live and ultimately to fulfill God’s command to replenish and subdue the earth. This is the only account in the Bible of how mankind was divided into people groups by means of different languages.

11:9 That is why it was called Babel—because there the Lord confused the language of the whole world. From there the Lord scattered them over the face of the whole earth.

The name of the place where these events took place came to be known as Babylon. Nimrod’s impressive city of Babylon eventually became a great empire, one that troubled the people of God for generations.

Babylon also became a symbol of defiance against God. The word “babel” originally meant “the gate of the gods.” The people thought that their great building enterprise would connect them with alleged deities other than the God who had created them. The word, however, came to mean “confusion” to commemorate what God did when He confused the language of the whole earth.

Centuries later, God reversed the confusion of languages on the Day of Pentecost. The Holy Spirit enabled believers to speak of God’s mighty deeds (Acts 2:11) in different languages. The word languages does not refer to ecstatic or unintelligible utterances, but rather to known languages and dialects previously unknown to those speaking them. The people of various nationalities (Acts 2:8-11) present at the feast clearly understood what was being spoken.

Today, many people groups are still waiting to read or hear the gospel in their own heart languages. Through the initiatives of missionaries and Bible translators, more and more people are learning of the wonders of God and of His love for them.

11:10 This is the account of Shem’s family line. Two years after the flood, when Shem was 100 years old, he became the father[d] of Arphaxad.

11:11 And after he became the father of Arphaxad, Shem lived 500 years and had other sons and daughters.

11:12 When Arphaxad had lived 35 years, he became the father of Shelah.

11:13 And after he became the father of Shelah, Arphaxad lived 403 years and had other sons and daughters.

11:14 When Shelah had lived 30 years, he became the father of Eber.

11:15 And after he became the father of Eber, Shelah lived 403 years and had other sons and daughters.

11:16 When Eber had lived 34 years, he became the father of Peleg.

11:17 And after he became the father of Peleg, Eber lived 430 years and had other sons and daughters.

11:18 When Peleg had lived 30 years, he became the father of Reu.

11:19 And after he became the father of Reu, Peleg lived 209 years and had other sons and daughters.

11:20 When Reu had lived 32 years, he became the father of Serug.

11:21 And after he became the father of Serug, Reu lived 207 years and had other sons and daughters.

11:22 When Serug had lived 30 years, he became the father of Nahor.

11:23 And after he became the father of Nahor, Serug lived 200 years and had other sons and daughters.

11:24 When Nahor had lived 29 years, he became the father of Terah.

11:25 And after he became the father of Terah, Nahor lived 119 years and had other sons and daughters.

11:26 After Terah had lived 70 years, he became the father of Abram, Nahor and Haran.

11:27 This is the account of Terah’s family line. Terah became the father of Abram, Nahor and Haran. And Haran became the father of Lot.

11:28 While his father Terah was still alive, Haran died in Ur of the Chaldeans, in the land of his birth.

11:29 Abram and Nahor both married. The name of Abram’s wife was Sarai, and the name of Nahor’s wife was Milkah; she was the daughter of Haran, the father of both Milkah and Iskah.

11:30 Now Sarai was childless because she was not able to conceive.

11:31 Terah took his son Abram, his grandson Lot son of Haran, and his daughter-in-law Sarai, the wife of his son Abram, and together they set out from Ur of the Chaldeans to go to Canaan. But when they came to Harran, they settled there.

11:32 Terah lived 205 years, and he died in Harran.

Introduction to Genesis

In 1976, Alex Haley published “Roots, The Saga of an American Family,” a novel about his family’s journey to America aboard a slave ship. His story resonated with millions of readers, prompting many to investigate their respective ancestries. Today, online ancestry registries make it easy to learn about our origins. Knowing something about our roots is important because it gives context to our existence and reminds us that we are here because of those who came before us.

The book of Genesis addresses the roots or origin of all things except God. If you are curious about the first time things happened in our collective human history, then Genesis is the place to look. Among the many firsts recorded in Genesis are references to the first man and woman, the first sin, the first sabbath, the first sacrifice, the first murder, the first global catastrophe, the first cities, the first languages, and more.

An important first in the book of Genesis is the protoevangelium or the first mention of God’s plan to send a Messiah to redeem sinful humanity (see Gen. 3:15). The first eleven chapters of the book address the bigger picture happenings like creation, the fall, the flood, and the spread of the nations. However, the remaining chapters of the book address God’s dealings with a man named Abraham and his descendants. God used Abraham and his family to ultimately fulfill His promise in the protoevangelium.

BACKGROUND

Author — Moses is regarded as the human author of Genesis and the four books that follow. These first five books of the Bible are called the Pentateuch, a Greek term that means five scrolls. These books are also called the Torah, from a Hebrew term meaning law, teaching, or instruction. Although there are direct and indirect references to Mosaic authorship of the Pentateuch throughout the Old and New Testaments, the name of the author is not explicitly stated in any of these books. Jesus, for example, said that Moses had written about Him (see John 5:46). He also used the expression “the Law of Moses” (Luke 24:44) to refer to the Pentateuch.

Theme — The theme of Genesis is God’s choice of Abraham — the man whose descendants became the nation through whom God would bless all other nations. Jesus Christ, the promised Messiah, was a descendant of Abraham. The story of God’s plan to redeem fallen humanity begins in Genesis and unfolds through the remaining books of the Bible. Genesis provides the context and perspective for understanding the scope of God’s redemptive plan.

Date — A key word in the book of Genesis is “generations.” Genesis is, essentially, a book of biographies or a record of the roots of the human family. The phrase “these are the generations of” is used to introduce all of the major divisions of the book. The first eleven chapters of Genesis tell the story of God’s dealings with humanity in general. These chapters cover a time span of approximately 2,000 years, from 4000 to 2090 BC. Starting in the twelfth chapter, however, Genesis traces the story of God’s interaction with one family — Abraham and his descendants Isaac, Jacob, and Joseph. These remaining chapters cover a time period of approximately 300 years, from 2090 to 1804 BC.

KEY MESSAGES/THEMES

As you study the book of Genesis, look for the following key themes.

God created humans in His image therefore all human life is sacred. From the start, the Bible affirms the dignity and worth of all human beings.

Sin is the most destructive force in the universe. Once sin entered into the world, everything changed and sin put mankind at enmity with God.

God judges sin and offers opportunities for a fresh start. God is holy and holds human beings responsible for their choices. God is also merciful and kind and offers people the opportunity to make new beginnings.

God established important covenants with humanity in general and one man in particular. God promised humanity that He would never again destroy the earth with flood waters and promised Abraham that his descendants would be as numerous as the stars.

God is trustworthy, even when things look bleak. From an altar on a mountain in the land of Moriah to a man in search of a wife to a pit in the desert sands to a famine that threatened to destroy His people, God consistently proved Himself trustworthy.

Esther 8

Esther 8:11-13


8:11 [Haman’s earlier decree made in the king’s name remained in force because Persian laws were permanently binding (cf. 1:19), so the king allowed Mordecai (promoted to position of prime minister) to issue a decree that would offset the earlier decree] The king’s edict granted the Jews in every city the right to assemble and protect themselves; to destroy, kill and annihilate any armed force of any nationality or province that might attack them [the Jews were authorized to defend themselves from attackers, including Persians] and their women and children; and to plunder the property of their enemies.

8:12 The day appointed for the Jews to do this in all the provinces of King Xerxes was the thirteenth day of the twelfth month, the month of Adar [corresponds to our mid-February to mid-March].

8:13 A copy of the text of the edict was to be issued as law in every province and made known to the people of every nationality so that the Jews would be ready on that day to avenge themselves on their enemies.

Esther 8:16
8:16 For the Jews it was a time of happiness and joy, gladness and honor [Feast of Purim celebrated to commemorate their deliverance from Haman and his plan to exterminate them (cf. 9:20-22); this festival often includes a reenactment of the story of Esther; Purim comes from the Akkadian word for “lots” (used by Haman to determine the best day for the Jews destruction; cf. 3:7)].