A very thoughtful and provoking response below by Dr. D.A. Carson:
How do you respond to evil and suffering? What keeps your head above water when life seeks to drown you in despair and depression? What do you have to hold onto? Over and over throughout our study of Daniel’s life, we’ve seen him come face to face with persecution, death and terrifying visions of the end of all things. Where does he derive his strength? It seems throughout Daniel’s life he has been strengthened by specific promises from the Word of God. He does not merely read the Word and remain unaffected, but he clings to it for life, and for the promise of the Lord’s victory over evil, sin and death.
This week, we will be considering Conflicts and Rescue to Come , from Daniel 11-12. To say that the future will be turmoil and destruction is an extreme understatement. There will be extreme conflicts between kings who are bent toward self-exaltation and total domination. Those who “have insight” will fall by the sword, by flame and by captivity. In other words, the future holds significant disaster and tragedy for the people of God. So how can we be encouraged by this? We can be encouraged in the following ways: First, notice how Daniel records the manner in which the desolations occur. At least five times in this passage we read the phrase “at the appointed time.” Even as Daniel recounts the various trials and desolations that will occur in the future, he acknowledges “for that which has been decreed will be done!” He even remarks that these times will “purge, purify, and refine many…but the wicked will not understand.” So, these are not random, unlucky or coincidental events. These disastrous events are ordained by God for His own glory and for the good of His people. What will be the result? Verse 32 proclaims that “the people who know their God will display strength and take action.” What an encouragement!
So, how can we be sustained through trials and seemingly “out of control” circumstances? We cling to the promises of God. We reflect on the sovereignty and majesty of the one who created all things, and sustains them with a mere word! We contemplate how this amazing, terrible God desires fellowship with rebellious nobodies like you and me. We can be those who display strength and take action, because we know our God!! Do you know Him like this?
How Blessed is He!
You don’t have to look very far in the Bible to notice warnings against wealth and power. The Bible does not say that wealth and influence are sins, but the fog that they can produce around our hearts is what we are to be on guard against. Sometimes great worldly power can fool our hearts into thinking that all our needs can be met apart from the power and mercy of God. This fog can only be navigated by the guiding light of God’s Word, made visible through His Spirit. Perhaps this is why God inspired 2 Samuel 23-24, to remind us of our need of Him, regardless of our bank balance or position on the corporate ladder.
David was not lacking in military strength. In the second section of 2 Samuel 23 we are introduced to David’s Mighty Men. This is a group of 30 plus men who are utterly devoted to protecting and obeying their King. Three of them in particular are especially powerful and intimidating. These three are so devoted to the Lord’s anointed that they were willing (and able by the way) to break into the Philistine camp and bring David a cool cup of water from the well of Bethlehem. The rest of the mighty men were no slouches either. They were responsible for some of the most courageous and heroic acts in the history of Israel! Anyone who became an enemy of the mighty men would have been shaking in their boots.
How does David respond to such power? He takes a census. He counts the people in his army. Why? Doesn’t he know how God has caused the victory in the past, whether by many or by few? Has he forgotten about the young boy who killed a skilled warrior-giant with a stone and sling shot? David’s mind was foggy and the fog was caused by power. We don’t know exactly how David sinned by taking the census, through motive or pride, but we do know that God was greatly offended. So offended that he causes a pestilence to destroy 70,000 men! This fog can also blind us from the consequences of our sin.
Let me ask you; How devoted are you to your King? What are you willing to risk for His pleasure? Are you experiencing fog in your life? Have to tried to convince yourself that you could get rid of things (which have control over you) in your life without a problem? Why have you not rid yourself of them up to this point? How do you respond when you are clearly convicted of sin? We see at the end of the book of 2 Samuel the Lord was moved by prayer to end the plague in Israel. How are your prayers…foggy? Join us this week as we consider these last two chapters of 2 Samuel, asking God to give us clean hands and pure hearts that we not lift our soul to another besides Him!
How do you respond to losers? How do you respond when you win? What determines your loyalties? What governs your strategies? These were the four questions that we were challenged with last week as we saw an amazing foreshadowing of a man who was cursed, mocked, and stoned for things he did not do. We were reminded that Jesus bore the penalty for the sins that he did not commit. Does the reality of the cross change the way you respond when you are clearly wronged?
This week at Redeemer we will consider how Yahweh Defeats the Counsel of Ahithophel from 2 Samuel 17. This week we will see David’s prayers answered as Ahithophel, this “wise” counselor, is thwarted by the Almighty. David’s companion, Hushai, displays his loyalty to Yahweh’s anointed by warning the true king of the coming danger. Will David receive the warning in time? How will Absalom’s strategic, forceful takeover turn out? What will prove to win the day, impressive might or trust in the God who saves?
Join us this week as we are confronted with the power of One who will not be intimidated by worldly powers, or wisdom. Are you trusting in your own counsel, or your own plans? It seems like Absalom’s revolt is going quite well, but is it? Are you sometimes fooled by apparent success, only to find out that the fruit from all your labors is rotten? What determines your loyalties? What governs your strategies?
Jesus is the Victor!