Recently I faced an important decision. I had to decide between reading the Chronicles of Narnia to my children in chronological order or in the published order. Though this may not seem like a big deal, just ask a fan of the books what their opinion is and I’m sure you’ll get one!

What does this have to do with studying the Bible? Well, have you ever considered reading the Bible chronologically instead of in the order of the books in most of our modern translations? If you have, or would like to, we have the perfect resource for you—the NLT Chronological Life Application Study Bible!

How does this look in the text? Well, have you ever noticed that some of the psalms have headings that describe some sort of historical situation? Most of those historical events are found in other places in the Scriptures. And the NLT Chronological Life Application Study Bible weaves those psalms into their historical context. Let’s look at an example.

2 Samuel 15 and Psalm 3

If you read through the Bible in order, it may take you weeks after you read 2 Samuel 15 to get to Psalm 3. But historically, they occur at roughly the same time. Though I don’t think David was literally penning the psalm as he was on the run from his son, he wrote the psalm retrospectively from a “live” experience. It expresses the fears, confidence, and hope David had while he was running for his life.

Here are some notes from the NLT Chronological Life Application Study Bible interspersed with the Scripture passages.

Absalom Rebels

Introduction | “David faced two major rebellions: one led by his son Absalom and another by Sheba from the tribe of Benjamin. Absalom’s rebellion was so successful that David had to flee from Israel, and Absalom took over the palace. This difficult situation provides the background for two of David’s psalms. David relied on God to rescue him from his enemies and restore him to the throne, and God proved faithful to his promise.”

2 Samuel 15:1-2 | “After this, Absalom bought a chariot and horses, and he hired fifty bodyguards to run ahead of him. He got up early every morning and went out to the gate of the city. When people brought a case to the king for judgment, Absalom would ask where in Israel they were from, and they would tell him their tribe. Then Absalom would say, ‘You’ve really got a strong case here! It’s too bad the king doesn’t have anyone to hear it. I wish I were the judge. Then everyone could bring their cases to me for judgment, and I would give them justice!’”

2 Sam 15:2 The city gate was like city hall and a shopping center combined. Because Jerusalem was the nation’s capital, both local and national leaders met there daily to transact business and conduct government affairs. The city gate was the perfect spot for this because government and business transactions needed witnesses to be legitimate, and anyone entering or leaving the city had to enter through the gate. Merchants set up their tent-shops near the gate for the same reason. Absalom, therefore, went to the city gate to win the hearts of Israel’s leaders as well as those of the common people.

2 Samuel 15:5-6 | “When people tried to bow before him, Absalom wouldn’t let them. Instead, he took them by the hand and kissed them. Absalom did this with everyone who came to the king for judgment, and so he stole the hearts of all the people of Israel.”

2 Sam 15:5-6 Absalom’s political strategy was to steal the hearts of the people with his good looks, grand entrances, apparent concern for justice, and friendly embraces. Many were fooled and switched their allegiance. Later, however, Absalom proved to be an evil ruler.

We need to evaluate our leaders to make sure their charisma is not a mask covering graft, deception, or hunger for power. Make sure that underneath their style and charm, they are able to make good decisions and handle people wisely.

David Runs

2 Samuel 15:13-14 | “’A messenger soon arrived in Jerusalem to tell David, “All Israel has joined Absalom in a conspiracy against you!’ ‘Then we must flee at once, or it will be too late!’ David urged his men. ‘Hurry! If we get out of the city before Absalom arrives, both we and the city of Jerusalem will be spared from disaster.’”

2 Sam 15:14 Had David not escaped from Jerusalem, the ensuing fight might have killed him as well as many innocent inhabitants of the city. Some fights that we think necessary can be costly and destructive to those around us. In such cases, it may be wise to back down and save the fight for another day—even if doing so hurts our pride. It takes courage to stand and fight, but it also takes courage to back down for the sake of others.

2 Sam 15:14 Why couldn’t David just crush this rebellion? There were several reasons he chose to flee: (1) The rebellion was widespread (2 Sam 15:10-13) and would not have been easily suppressed; (2) David did not want the city of Jerusalem to be destroyed; (3) David still cared for his son and did not want to hurt him. We know that David expected to return to Jerusalem soon because he left 10 of his concubines to take care of the palace (2 Sam 15:16).

David Prays

Psalms 3:1-2 | “O LORD, I have so many enemies; so many are against me. So many are saying, ‘God will never rescue him!’”

Ps 3:1-2 David felt like he was in the minority. As many as 10,000 soldiers may have been surrounding him at this time (Ps 3:6). Not only did David’s enemies view life differently, but they actively sought to harm him. As king, David could have trusted his army to defeat Absalom. Instead, he depended upon God’s mercy (Ps 3:4); therefore, he was at peace with whatever outcome occurred, knowing that God’s great purposes would prevail. We can overcome fear by trusting God for his protection in our darkest hour.

Psalms 3:3-4 | “But you, O LORD, are a shield around me; you are my glory, the one who holds my head high. I cried out to the LORD, and he answered me from his holy mountain.”

Ps 3:1-3 David was not sitting on his throne in a place of power; he was running for his life from his rebellious son, Absalom, and a host of traitors. When circumstances go against us, we may be tempted to think that God also is against us. But David reminds us that the opposite is true. When everything seems to go wrong, God is still for us. If a circumstance has turned against you, don’t blame God—seek him!

Ps 3:4 God’s holy mountain was Mount Moriah in Jerusalem, the place where David’s son Solomon would build the Temple (2 Chr 3:1). David knew that God could not be confined to any space, but he wrote poetically, expressing confidence that God would hear him when he prayed. God responds to us when we earnestly pray to him.

David Sleeps

Psalms 3:5-6 | “I lay down and slept, yet I woke up in safety, for the LORD was watching over me. I am not afraid of ten thousand enemies who surround me on every side.”

Ps 3:5 Sleep does not come easily during a crisis. David could have had sleepless nights when his son Absalom rebelled and gathered an army to kill him. But he slept peacefully, even during the rebellion. What made the difference? David cried out to the Lord, and the Lord heard him. The assurance of answered prayer brings peace. It is easier to sleep well when we have full assurance that God is in control of circumstances. If you are lying awake at night worrying about what you can’t change, pour out your heart to God, and thank him that he is in control.

Psalms 3:7-8 | “Arise, O LORD! Rescue me, my God! Slap all my enemies in the face! Shatter the teeth of the wicked! Victory comes from you, O LORD. May you bless your people.”

Ps 3:7 David’s call for God to act reveals his desire for justice against his persecutors. David himself had been slapped and insulted, and here he simply asks for equal treatment for his enemies. He did this, not out of personal revenge, but for the sake of God’s justice. Psalm 3:8 shows the humility behind David’s words—he realized that faith in God’s timing was the answer to his question about the success the wicked had unfairly achieved.

Keep Reading Chronologically!

This is just one of the benefits of the NLT Chronological Life Application Study Bible resource. You can read the story of the Bible in the actual order of the events themselves. Make your way to the store and see what else this resource offers!

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