Archive for March, 2012

1 Samuel 21

1 Samuel 21 has a future king on the run.  David is getting out of town so he can stay out of Saul’s way.  He heads to Nob and meets Ahimelech who was the priest.  He is traveling with a small group of young men, and they have no food.  So he asks the priest for some bread.  Ahimelech gives over some of the old bread from the offering so they can eat.  David had left quickly and brought nothing along.  He may be been the choice of God to become king, but at this point, the circumstances did not indicate that at all.

He had left quickly to the point that he didn’t even have a spear or sword along.  Not exactly the best way to be wandering around.  So he also asks the priest if there are any weapons he can have, and all that is there is the sword of Goliath, the sword he had captured earlier when he killed the enemy.  So he took that with him so he had some protection.  And with that, he moved on to get further away from Saul.

He went to Achish, king of Gath, to see if he could stay there.  Of course all he got was questions.  “Is not this David the king of the land? Did they not sing to one another of him in dances”?  David is trying to stay under the radar but his reputation succeeds him.  People can’t understand why a man of his stature is there seeking a place to live – after all he is to be king.  And David does what most of us do from time to time – he becomes fearful.

He decides to “change his behavior before them and pretended to be insane in their hands and made marks on the doors of the gate and let his spittle run down his beard”.  David became a pretender.  He is overcome by the circumstances at hand and decides to act like a mad man so he is not captured in his state of weakness.  How do you act when the circumstances become overwhelming?  Do you pretend?  Or do you run to God to see what He has planned?  David didn’t check with God on this – he just fled.  He ran for his life and then didn’t have a plan on what to do – no food, no sword, no place to stay.  And the biggest issue – no talk with God.  That is where we need to run first when we need direction and provision – to the source!

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1 Samuel 20

1 Samuel 20 shows the power of true friendship as Jonathan and David figure out how to know what King Saul’s intentions are.  David has been living on the run, fearing for his life.  It makes no sense to him and he meets Jonathan to try and get some answers.  “What have I done? What is my guilt? And what is my sin before your father, that he seeks my life”?  David may have been selected by God through Samuel to be the next king, but right now it doesn’t really feel all that secure.  David is confused by what is happening, and wants Jonathan to find out what Saul is up to next.

They devise a plan whereby Jonathan will ask Saul about David.  Realize that this is a friendship that doesn’t really make sense.  If David is to be king, that means that Jonathan will not be the next on the throne and it would normally be his as the son of the king.  But Jonathan and David have a relationship that is deeper than a normal friendship.  “Jonathan made David swear again by his love for him, for he loved him as he loved his own soul”.  These guys were kindred spirits, of one heart, and were committed to each other at a level most never experience.  Jonathan and David truly loved each other, even when it meant their own future would be impacted.

Jonathan is going to ask Saul about his intention with David.  Based on that response, they devised a plan whereby Jonathan would shoot three arrows in the field as David hid nearby.  Based on Jonathan’s direction to a boy who was along to run pick up the arrows, it would provide the direction to David about his future and fate.  “I will shoot three arrows to the side of it, as though I shot at a mark….the arrows are on this side of you…. then you are to come….there is no danger.  But if I say to the youth, Look, the arrows are beyond you, then go, for the Lord has sent you away”.  Pretty ingenious way to deliver the message discreetly without letting the cat out of the bag.

Saul explodes when Jonathan asks about David, so the arrows fly and the message is sent.  After the rest have returned to the palace, “David rose from beside the stone heap and fell on his face to the ground and bowed three times. And they kissed one another and wept with one another, David weeping the most”.  There is a very deep love here.  These guys know that their circumstances will prevent them from seeing each other any longer.  The king will prevent them from being best friends.  So they share a deep commitment to one another – one that goes beyond their lives as Jonathan says: “The Lord shall be between me and you, and between my offspring and your offspring, forever”.  Friends forever – not just a cute saying – a reality between Jonathan and David!

1 Samuel 19

1 Samuel 19 has the story of true friendship.  Saul is not content being second fiddle to David in the eyes of the people.  He wants David gone and tells his son Jonathan that “that they should kill David”.  That creates quite a dilemma for Jonathan because he “delighted much in David”, they were kindred spirits of one heart.  Jonathan could not stand back and watch his best friend killed by his father, so he warned David.  “Be on your guard in the morning” was his direction for David.  Jonathan told David he would speak with his father, Saul the king, and find out what his intentions were.  Jonathan interceded on David’s behalf and convinces Saul, at least for the short term, to leave David alone.  “As the Lord lives, he shall not be put to death” were Saul’s word in response to Jonathan’s plea.

But that was short lived.  Another battle comes along and David destroyed the Philistine army yet again.  Saul is overcome with jealousy and returns to his desire to have David killed.  He first attacks him while David is playing the lyre to help calm his spirit.  Then he tries to get at David through his daughter Michal, who was David’s wife.  But she warned David and helped him escape so David ran.  Michal created a diversion by making it look like David was lying in bed ill, but in fact she had lowered him out the window earlier in the night so he could escape.  When Saul’s thugs arrived to capture him, he was gone.

Saul finds out that David had fled and escaped, and eventually discovers that he is with Samuel at Naioth in Ramah.  So Saul keep pursuing and sends messengers, aka thugs, to go get him.  Then God does some pretty amazing stuff.  Samuel was there leading a group of prophets who were prophesying together.  As the messengers approached, “they saw the company of the prophets prophesying”.  No big deal, right.  After all, prophets should be prophesying.  That is what they are supposed to do.

But the miracle is that the “Spirit of God came upon the messengers of Saul, and they also prophesied”.  The folks Saul sent to capture David were not the prophetic type, they were men of battle and part of Saul’s army.  Yet when they came into the presence of Samuel and his prophets, the Spirit of God overtook them and they became prophets.  So Saul does what any wise king would do – he sent a second group – same outcome.  So he sends a third group and guess what – they become prophetic as well.  So then “he himself went….and he asked, “Where are Samuel and David….and the Spirit of God came upon him also….and as he went he prophesied….and he too stripped off his clothes….and he too prophesied before Samuel and lay naked all that day and all that night”.  Remember – Saul didn’t go there to have an experience with God.  He was there to capture and kill David.  Yet God met every person Saul sent to do harm, and he took their intent for evil and turned them into prophets.  What an amazing God we serve!

1 Samuel 18

1 Samuel 18 shows a significant change in relationships.  The chapter begins with Saul’s son Jonathan becoming closest of friends with David.  This is not some casual affinity – it is heart to heart friendship.  “The soul of Jonathan was knit to the soul of David….Jonathan loved him as his own soul….made a covenant with David, because he loved him as his own soul….stripped himself of the robe that was on him and gave it to David, and his armor, and even his sword and his bow and his belt”.  Jonathan has become a soul mate with David.  But it went further as scripture tells us that the people and even Saul’s servants felt the same.  David was a favored person in the kingdom.

God looked favorably on what David did, to the point that he had success in every effort he set his hand to.  Women were out in the streets dancing and singing of his victory before Saul.  “Saul has struck down his thousands, and David his ten thousands”.  Let’s face it – that had to be some pretty strong medicine for the king.  And it was.  He was not happy with the way the people had elevated David and basically forgot about him.  Pride was one of his downfalls.  “Saul was very angry….what more can he have but the kingdom”?  Saul goes into protective mode of his power.  He is not nearly as enamored with David as he was, in fact, “Saul eyed David from that day on…. Saul hurled the spear….Saul was afraid of David”.  Things have become confrontational between them.  David is still around and serving Saul, but it is becoming tricky as Saul’s temper is creating some outbursts that include attempts to harm David.

One thing remained constant though, even as life changes for David.  He has moved from best friend of Jonathan to now almost becoming the target of the king.  “David had success in all his undertakings, for the Lord was with him”.  God doesn’t move.  That relationship does not change.  So often in life circumstances around us move all over the place.  Things go from bad to good or good to bad, but there is always one constant.  God.  When the relationship changes with God, it is because we have moved, not Him.  I am reminded of that age old saying “if you don’t feel close to God, guess who moved”.  Saul is all over the map here, but God isn’t.  He just continues to walk with David and bless his efforts.

Saul, on the other hand, is trying to figure out how to get to David.  His own son has become a soul mate to his new enemy.  Now Saul decides to try and get to David with his daughter.  He gives, and then takes away, his first daughter Merab.  He offered her as wife but later actually gives her to another.  But daughter number two, Michal, loved David.  Saul sees that as an opportunity and says “Let me give her to him, that she may be a snare for him”.  Saul’s plan was to require David to bring 100 foreskins from Philistine soldiers as the bride-price.  Surely that will end his life. But of course David goes and gets 200 and Saul has to give Michal to him as wife, making David son-in-law to the king.  That sort of backfired.  “Saul was David’s enemy continually”.  Unfortunately the paranoia never stops and while David is part of the family, the relationship has gone from bad to worse.  All the while those in Saul’s kingdom held David with higher esteem all the time.

1 Samuel 17

1 Samuel 17 has one of the most famous of all Bible stories – the story of David and Goliath.  It seems that the Philistines were gathered for battle and on one side of the valley, Saul and the Israelites on the other.  Goliath was a giant of a man and came out to taunt the Israelites with this “Choose a man for yourselves, and let him come down to me. If he is able to fight with me and kill me, then we will be your servants. But if I prevail against him and kill him, then you shall be our servants and serve us”.  It was going to be one on one with winner take all.  Saul and his army stood in awe of Goliath.  For 40 days this continued morning and evening as Goliath came out asking for a challenger.

One day David was sent to bring some food and to check in on his three older brothers who were part of Saul’s army.  While he was there, he overheard Goliath and his taunts.  David spoke up immediately and started asking questions.  “Who is this uncircumcised Philistine, that he should defy the armies of the living God”?  David is rebuked by his brothers and told to remain quiet.  They accuse him of just showing up to see the massacre when someone would go do battle with Goliath.  But that was not David’s motive at all.  In fact, he went to Saul and said “Let no man’s heart fail because of him. Your servant will go and fight with this Philistine….Your servant has struck down both lions and bears, and this uncircumcised Philistine shall be like one of them, for he has defied the armies of the living God….The Lord who delivered me from the paw of the lion and from the paw of the bear will deliver me from the hand of this Philistine”.

Saul decides to let David do it, and attempts to put his armor and helmet and all his protective gear on the young lad.  But it is too much so David sheds all of it.  “He took his staff in his hand and chose five smooth stones from the brook and put them in his shepherd’s pouch. His sling was in his hand, and he approached the Philistine”.  Are you paying attention here?  David goes out to meet the giant Goliath with his staff and 5 stones and a sling.  Not exactly a fair fight.  This young man is not prepared to do battle – at least not man’s way.  But here is how David approached the overwhelming circumstances in his patch: “You come to me with a sword and with a spear and with a javelin, but I come to you in the name of the Lord of hosts, the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defied….the battle is the Lord’s, and he will give you into our hand”.  God plus a stone is all it takes to win.  What is impossible to man, is more than possible with God.  One plus God is always enough.

David has had enough of Goliath’s chatter.  He doesn’t just slowly and fearfully approach the giant.  “David ran quickly toward the battle line to meet the Philistine”.  He couldn’t wait to let God use him to put this guy down.  “David put his hand in his bag and took out a stone and slung it and struck the Philistine on his forehead….David prevailed over the Philistine with a sling and with a stone, and struck the Philistine and killed him….and took his sword and drew it out of its sheath and killed him and cut off his head with it”.  In no time at all, this young man rushed to do battle with a giant with only a sling and a stone.  In God’s hands, he was a mighty fighting machine.  He destroys the enemy and the army of Israel pursues the fleeing Philistine army and plundered their camp.  David has done what no other man would do – take on the enemy.  He didn’t do it in his own strength, he did it with God’s power.  And because he did, he was victorious.  Oh that we would learn to lean on God’s power rather than our own!

1 Samuel 16

1 Samuel 16 has a transition to God’s new selection for a king.  Samuel is grieving about the reality that Saul is not the man God wants leading any longer.  His disobedience has separated him from God’s hand.  So God comes to Samuel and says “I have provided for myself a king among his sons”.  This is a tough spot for Samuel.  Saul is the king – he may not be in God’s favor – but he still is running the country and definitely in charge.  So when God asks Samuel to go and anoint His selection as the next king – well Samuel is a little hesitant.  But here is the key to Samuel’s response: “Samuel did what the Lord commanded”.

At first blush you could argue that Samuel was heading into a situation that was suicide.  Saul finds out that he is anointing a new king – it won’t be good.  But obedience is not about whether or not it makes sense to us.  Obedience doesn’t have to fit our definition of something that is smart.  Obedience means that what God tells us to do – we just go do it.  Samuel does that – he hears God’s direction and just obeys.  That is how we need to live as God leads us.  Stop trying to understand or make sense of it and just do it.  The Lord is clear with Samuel that the selection of the next king is not about things man can see.  “For the Lord sees not as man sees: man looks on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart”.  God’s concern in the heart – it is what our character is – not our external nature.

So Samuel goes and does as God instructs and comes to the place where Jesse lives.  The sons of Jesse came and one by one Samuel meets them but God hasn’t given him the nod yet to anoint any of them as the next king.  So Samuel asks if there are any more – the first seven weren’t the right ones.  But David was out tending the sheep and so Samuel asked that he be called and brought to him.  That is when God lets Samuel know what His plan is – that David would be the king.  “And the Spirit of the Lord rushed upon David from that day forward”.  So God moves to prepare His new king, and at the same time “the Spirit of the Lord departed from Saul, and an evil spirit from the Lord tormented him”.  Big transition in God’s power – from old to new.

Saul is tourtured by this new evil spirit and asks his servants for help in coping.  They know of a boy – a son of Jesse – who is skilled with the lyre and may be able to give him relief.  “Behold, I have seen a son of Jesse the Bethlehemite, who is skillful in playing, a man of valor, a man of war, prudent in speech, and a man of good presence, and the Lord is with him”.  Pretty good resume for a young shepherd boy.  So Saul asks them to go get David to provide relief.  Isn’t it amazing how God can make a way for His plan to work in the midst of what seems like impossible odds?  “David came to Saul and entered his service….Saul loved him greatly, and he became his armor-bearer”.  So God is able to prepare the way for the new king.  He moves from the pasture herding sheep, to the castle serving the acting king.  God can make a way!

1 Samuel 15

1 Samuel 15 teaches a very important lesson in obedience.  Samuel receives instruction from God to have Saul go and wipe out the Amalekites who had been an enemy of Israel.  Saul assembles 210,000 men and proceeds to the land to do battle.  God was clear through Samuel what was to happen – every person and every living thing was to be killed.  No exceptions.  No returns.

Saul and the army go and do battle and win in a big way.  “But Saul and the people spared Agag and the best of the sheep and of the oxen and of the fattened calves and the lambs, and all that was good, and would not utterly destroy them”.  Why would he do that?  Samuel had specifically said they needed to kill everything.  Samuel gives the reason that he saved the “best of the sheep and of the oxen to sacrifice to the Lord your God”.  In Samuel’s mind he was being obedient – he just saved back some sheep to sacrifice and the king to bring back as a trophy.

We learn an important lesson here about obedience.  God is not ok with mostly obedient.  He demands complete obedience.  Here was God’s response to what Saul said.  Saul came back with “I have performed the commandment of the Lord”.  God said “I regret that I have made Saul king, for he has turned back from following me and has not performed my commandments”.  They both knew the direction and they both saw the results.  Yet the interpretation of the outcome was diametrically different.  Saul thought he did it right, God said it was a complete miss.

Here is the lesson – one we need to carefully listen to and follow.  “Has the Lord as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, as in obeying the voice of the Lord….to obey is better than sacrifice, and to listen than the fat of rams….rebellion is as the sin of divination, and presumption is as iniquity and idolatry”.  God is not interested in our interpretation of what He wants us to do.  Obedience is not open for interpretation.  It is about us hearing what God says and doing it completely.  The price for partial obedience is significant.  For Saul, he heard this: “Because you have rejected the word of the Lord, he has also rejected you from being king”.  That is a big penalty for going 99% of the way.  Why did Saul do it?  “I have transgressed the commandment of the Lord and your words, because I feared the people and obeyed their voice”.  Saul listened to the wrong voices.  He let man determine his level of obedience when only God determines the requirements.  We need to pay close attention to this lesson!

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