Today’s Scripture: The preparations of the heart in man, and the answer of the tongue, is from the Lord. All the ways of a man are clean in his own eyes; but the Lord weigheth the spirits. Commit thy works unto the Lord, and thy thoughts shall be established. Proverbs 16:1-3

In the battle, 20,000 lives were lost. Scattered across the countryside, David’s army fought against those following his treacherous son. When God’s side prevailed, Absalom fled. He escaped riding a mule and no longer had his 50 men to protect him then. In his haste, his source of pride, his hair, got stuck in a tree. Absalom’s desire to go against his father and king resulted in a battle that never needed to happen and the unnecessary loss of thousands of lives. I wonder how he felt as he hung there helpless in that tree.

Absalom was not the only one who made a costly decision that day. In his anger, Joab killed Absalom. The king had directly commanded the entire army to spare his life. For years, Joab had been trusted by David…right up until the moment he slew his son. In the end, we can destroy all we have done. If we are not careful, our flesh can get the better of us. Rather than listening to biblical commands or helpful instruction, we can make the mistake of throwing it all aside so we can get what we want in the moment.

The truth is we are never blessed when we go against authority. When we are enduring a season of life that does not make sense to us, or when we have been hurt by those we care for, it is easy for us to go against what we have been instructed to do in God’s Word. When we have lost kids from our school or people from our church, I’ve been on my knees crying to God. But I knew I could not stay there. You’re never going to be anything unless you get back up and feel God’s arms around you. When you are weak and feel the strength of his presence, it will change you from bitter to better.

Right now you may be in a mess, but it is never too late to follow the Lord. There is a price to pay for disobedience, but God can take the broken pieces of your life and mend them back together. Perhaps you were the one praying for the wayward friend and have invested time and love into them only to have it thrown back in your face. All the Scripture verses you shared, the prayers, and the sacrifices you made may seem like they were all for nothing, but really their value is eternal. Whichever position you are in, know that sometimes God cannot use us until he tears us up. Follow the Lord and His counsel. Rely on Him rather than on yourself. Let His strength make you better, not bitter.

Devotional by Dr. James A. Scudder