Friday, October 29, 2010

WEEKLY SUNDAY SCHOOL LESSON
An international Sunday school lesson commentary

For Sunday October 31, 2010
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SURVIVING THE DARK TIMES
(GOD’s power and glory satisfies us in desperate times)
(Psalms 63 & 2 Samuel 15:13-26)

It is believed, perhaps by most scholars, that, Psalm 63 was written by David during the time when he was chased out of Jerusalem, as a result of a takeover attempt by his son, Absalom (2 Samuel 15). After being separated from the “Ark of the Covenant” and his place of worship in Jerusalem, David tries to satisfy his longing for worship by praising GOD for HIS loyal love, while he was still lingering in a stressful situation in the wilderness.
Here David cries out because of his deep longing to experience GOD’s presence, which, over time, had come to be symbolized in the “Ark of the Covenant”, in Jerusalem. While in the wilderness, GOD causes David to realize that his soul can find satisfaction, through praise, from anywhere he may be, not just in Jerusalem, and not just in the presence of the Ark. GOD wanted to, once again, remind David, and his Israelite followers, not to worship HIM in a superstitious manner. GOD does not want us to treat HIM like a good luck charm, or, as idol god worshippers do, but rather, GOD wants us to see HIM as HE is, the omni-potent, omni-present, all-knowing, sovereign GOD of the universe.
Over the years, David and the Israelites had developed a habit by which they were treating the “Ark of the Covenant” like a common everyday idol. They had become very superstitious and wouldn’t even go to war without taking it with them, and on one occasion the LORD allowed them to suffer defeat at the hands of the Philistines because of the way they treated the Ark (1 Samuel 4:3-11). The Israelites kept changing their focus of worship from GOD HIMSELF, to the “Ark of the Covenant”.
On this occasion, however, while fleeing from Jerusalem, David seems to have finally learned the lesson that GOD was trying to teach them, and here (2 Samuel 15:25-26) he instructs Zadok to turn around and take the Ark of the Covenant back into the city, as this time he would trust in the LORD HIMSELF to save him, not the presence of the Ark.
During this dark hour, David finds a renewed confidence, and experiences a unique joy in the LORD, WHO always sees him, and knows his needs, wherever he may be. He once again becomes confident and even starts to anticipate a time when the LORD would rid him of enemies as HE always had in the past. And, even though his relationship with his family and the people of Israel was a bit strained at that time, his more important, personal, experiential relationship with GOD was not.
David realized that his confidence in GOD was based on his past experiences with GOD, and had nothing to do with the Ark. He learned that GOD’s love and care for him was something he could count on no matter what the circumstances were. And what GOD provided for him, in the form of spiritual sustenance, was much better than anything that life had to offer, in the form of physical riches.
In 2 Samuel 15, after ordering that his priest take the Ark back to Jerusalem, David says, “If the LORD sees fit, HE will bring me back to see the Ark and the Tabernacle again. But if HE is through with me, then let HIM do what seems best to HIM”.
David responded to his confidence in GOD with praise, and he expressed it here in Psalm 63, in two ways. First, he reacted verbally by telling GOD how much he appreciated HIM. Then, he accompanied his words with a physical expression of thanks, by raising his hands in a visual display of worship (Psalm 63:4). He chose also to dwell not on what he lacked, but rather, on what he had. He decided to be content in the midst of his difficulties, and to enjoy the rich “spiritual food” that GOD was providing to him, even there in the darkened wilderness, during the darkest of times.
A close personal, experiential relationship with GOD is what causes GOD to, not only bless us, but show us favor. It has nothing to do with Big Mama’s ring, or bible, that, we hold on to, because “she” had a close relationship with GOD. The Apostle Paul calls that kind of faith, in the Greek, “deisidaimonesteros” (dice-ee-dahee-mon-es-ter-os), which means “religiously superstitious” (Acts 17:22-23).

A Sunday school lesson by,
Larry D. Alexander


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