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faithful dog May 6 Chronological Bible Study

Timeline. Map. Go to today’s Bible reading (NIV) or alternate versions (use your browser arrow to return): Psalm 138; Psalm 139; Psalm 145; 2Samuel 21:1-14; 2Samuel 9; Psalm 8

Faithfulness

When people think of an animal that is faithful, many think of a good dog. He usually comes when you call (certain breeds are better at this than others). He won't disown you if you forget to feed him. A dog is glad to see his owner. He senses our emotions. If we are sad or lonely or sick he will come lay by our side. A dog likes to give us joy by playing with us and licking our faces (yuk). A good dog defends his owner.

When we think of a person who is faithful, however, we might think of one true friend or relative, but even that person may disappoint us. Our God in heaven, however, is absolutely faithful.

David is king of the whole nation of Israel when he writes these songs (Psalms). He reflects back on God’s faithfulness to him. King David writes in Psalm 138:2-3, 6-8:

I will bow down toward your holy temple [probably a reference to the tabernacle since the temple had not yet been built] and will praise your name for your love and your faithfulness, for you have exalted above all things your name and your word. When I called, you answered me....

Though the LORD is on high, he looks upon the lowly, but the proud he knows from afar. Though I walk in the midst of trouble, you preserve my life; you stretch out your hand against the anger of my foes, with your right hand you save me. The LORD will fulfill his purpose for me; your love, O LORD, endures forever. (NIV)

In Psalm 145 David extols God’s character:

The LORD is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and rich in love. The LORD is good to all; he has compassion on all he has made.

Your kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, and your dominion endures through all generations.

The LORD is faithful to all his promises and loving toward all he has made.

The LORD upholds all those who fall and lifts up all who are bowed down.

The eyes of all look to you, and you give them their food at the proper time. You open your hand and satisfy the desires of every living thing.

The LORD is righteous in all his ways and loving toward all he has made.

The LORD is near to all who call on him, to all who call on him in truth. He fulfills the desires of those who fear him; he hears their cry and saves them. (Psalm 145:8-9, 13-19, NIV)

We have seen the LORD is faithful, but what does He require of us? He requires the same thing - faithfulness.

During the reign of David, there is a famine for three successive years; so David seeks the face of the LORD. It is possible that David writes Psalm 139 at this time, asking the LORD, “Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting (Psalm139:23-24, NIV).

The LORD said, “It [the famine] is on account of Saul and his blood-stained house; it is because he put the Gibeonites to death.” (2Samuel 21:1, NIV)

The Gibeonites had tricked Joshua and the elders of Israel into believing they were a distant nation (therefore, not a threat). Hearing about the great miracles of the LORD, they wanted to make a peace treaty with Israel (Joshua 9). Without checking with the LORD, they judged by the appearances of the weary worn travelers and believed their story. They made a peace treaty with them. Soon thereafter, they found out the Gibeonites lied; they were a nearby city which the LORD wanted them to destroy. The LORD, however, wanted them (and us) to keep their vows even when it hurts (Psalm 15:4). He expected Israel to keep the peace treaty. King Saul in his zeal, however, decimated the Gibeonites and brought reproach upon the Israelite nation. God, therefore, was now punishing Israel with a three year famine to get their attention and show His displeasure. God is faithful, and He wants us to be faithful, too.

David makes amends for the injustice of King Saul. He turns seven of Saul’s male descendants over to them to be killed, but he spares Jonathan’s son, Mephibosheth, because of an oath he made with Jonathan when he was alive. After the seven are turned over to the Gibeonites and killed, David shows compassion on Rizpah, one of Saul’s concubines (secondary wives), when she holds a long vigil to keep vultures away from the bodies of her two sons and five sons by another of Saul’s concubines. The King orders the bones of Saul and Jonathan and Saul’s seven descendants to be buried. David is a man after God’s own heart; he shows compassion even on those who are less esteemed in his society. We should do the same.

David's kindness to Jonathan's son, Mephibosheth, may have occurred soon after punishing Saul's family for the injury upon the Gibeonites. According to 1Samuel 20:15, David made a covenant with Saul's son Jonathan to be kind to his household. Now, David seeks to keep it. He invites Jonathan's only remaining son to live in Jerusalem and always eat at his table. Mephibosheth does not feel worthy of David’s kindness. “Mephibosheth bowed down and said, ‘What is your servant, that you should notice a dead dog like me?’” It is possible that in memory of this episode David writes Psalm 8 (insights from the One Year Daily Chronological Bible, © 1995, Tyndale House Publishers, pp. 524-525). In it he says of God,

When I consider your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have set in place, what is man that you are mindful of him, the son of man that you care for him? (Psalm 8:3-4, NIV)

In kindness, David has Mephibosheth's land farmed for him because he is lame in both feet due to an accident. David is faithful - he keeps his commitment. It pleases the LORD when we are faithful, kind, and keep our commitments.

Lessons to live by:

  • God in heaven is absolutely faithful. Do you know Him? (more...)
  • God is faithful and wants us to be faithful, too.
  • God is compassionate, and forgiving, and He wants us to be compassionate, even with those less esteemed in our society. To whom can you show compassion?
  • It pleases the LORD when we are faithful, kind, and keep our commitments. What commitments does God want you to keep?

Today’s Bible memory verse:

Psalm 33:4 “For the word of the LORD is right and true; he is faithful in all he does.” (NIV)

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