Archive for category Spirituality
Reading about the disobedient Israelites and arrogant Saul brings me down! Enter David, son of Jesse…
Samuel is mourning Saul, but God tells him to get some oil and go anoint the next king. Samuel hesitates because the current king still lives! He would be risking his life. But Samuel trusts and heads to his next assignment, despite the risk.
It’s interesting that his own father does not consider David to be king-worthy. All Jesse’s sons are present for Samuel to evaluate – except David. Samuel asks Jesse if these are ALL his sons. I love Jesse’s answer:
“There is still the youngest,” Jesse answered. “He is tending the sheep.”
Jesse’s like, “Well, ya there’s one more, but it’s just David. Why would you even ask about him? He’s out there somewhere…” Wouldn’t you bring all your sons before Samuel if Samuel asked you to bring all your sons?
God judges the heart. He selects the weak for positions of honor. He does not consider height or appearance, but seeks hearts that are after Him.
So Samuel anoints David as the next king.
Wait…what about the current king? What are we to do about him?
Well, isn’t it a strange coincidence that King Saul somehow randomly recruits David to play the lyre for him? No coincidence. God is at work. His will is going to be accomplished. There’s nothing anyone can do about it.
Lastly, it’s noteworthy to point out something in verse 23. Did you catch it?
“Whenever the spirit from God came on Saul, David would take up his lyre and play. Then relief would come to Saul; he would feel better, and the evil spirit would leave him.”
In the first part of the verse, it says “the spirit from God” and in the last part, “the evil spirit would leave”.
Seems God is the one sending the evil spirit. Upon researching this a bit, you’ll find that it is inconsistent with God’s character to directly send evil spirits. Although He does punish people for their disobedience (and Saul is clearly disobedient to God), so some have suggested God simply allowed the evil spirit, not directly sent it.
I tend to think this is more a matter of linguistics. The word used for “evil spirit” here is the word rauch, which has a wide range of translations, including air (i.e., breath or wind); the vital principle of life or animating force; the rational mind where thinking and decision-making occurs; the Holy Spirit of God (Gesenius, 1847, pp. 760-761) and disposition of mind or attitude (Harris, et al., 1980, 2:836).
Furthermore, the word used for “evil” here is , which is translated “bad,” “unhappy,” or “sad of heart or mind” (Gesenius, p. 772).
Could it be that Saul was suffering from his own bad attitude? There have been many times I’ll sit and listen to music to chase away a bad mood.
The bottom line is this: God has intervened and suddenly David, a small shepherd boy whose own father considers him simply that, is now God’s anointed and finds himself somehow inexplicably in service as the king’s own armor-bearer.
Coincidence? I think not…
Stay tuned, it’s just starting to get good!
Paul’s letter to the church at Galatia.
Do you notice how Paul seems to be defending himself?
“I was not appointed by any group of people or any human authority, but by Jesus Christ himself and by God the Father, who raised Jesus from the dead.”
And then there’s “All the brothers and sisters here join me in sending this letter to the churches of Galatia.”
And then, later in the chapter, “Dear brothers and sisters, I want you to understand that the gospel message I preach is not based on mere human reasoning. I received my message from no human source, and no one taught me. Instead, I received it by direct revelation from Jesus Christ.”
Kinda sounds like Paul is defending his authority.
Well, that’s because in his absence, Jewish Christians had come in teaching that same old circumcision message we read about in Philippians. These people had a religious spirit that kept them in bondage to fleshly acts that lead to salvation – which is the exact opposite from Christ’s message of freedom from the flesh. These religious people began to try and discredit Paul as part of their message. That’s why Paul is defending his authority. I like his comment in verse 10, “Obviously, I’m not trying to win the approval of people, but of God. If pleasing people were my goal, I would not be Christ’s servant.”
I like his style. And I agree with this statement for myself. Following Christ is not the way to win friends and influence people!
So – this letter has kind of a harsh tone. “I am shocked that you are turning away so soon from God…”
Do you know anybody who has turned away from Christ’s message of freedom ONLY through Jesus and exchanged it for some things they must do, at least in part, in order to be saved? Good works? Confession to a priest, perhaps? Holy days of obligation, anyone? I don’t mean to pick on the Catholic religion. There are other religions that also require these types of actions.
And – don’t hear me say that good works are wrong. James has a good message on this in his book. But, works without faith are simply worthless acts when it comes to salvation. We cannot be saved by fleshly circumcision – just like we cannot be saved by our own good works. If that was the case, Jesus Christ would not have had to die on the cross.
For me today:
Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. (Philippians 4:6 NLT)
Don’t worry about anything. Worth meditating on through Jesus. Difficult for me to do now, but much easier than the old me! That’s progress, I suppose.
Here’s the reward:
Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 4:7 NLT)
I need His peace to guard my heart and mind.
I am reminded of another verse:
Guard your heart above all else,
for it determines the course of your life. (Proverbs 4:23 NLT)
Another translations says:
Above all else, guard your heart,
for everything you do flows from it. (Proverbs 4:23 NIV)
So… I am going to work on not worrying today. How ’bout you?
While reading in Acts today, there was a line that really stuck out in the story of when Peter and John were arrested and jailed. Look at Acts 4:13:
“The members of the council were amazed when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, for they could see that they were ordinary men who had had no special training.”
Remind you of anybody? I’ve grown up wondering why God chose me to lead anyone or anything. I am ordinary. I have no special training. Yet, I continue to find myself talking about God or leading worship.
I wonder how many more feel the way I do.
Look at how many were converted as a result of Peter’s ability (willingness?) to be used by God to heal the beggar at the gate. Five thousand were added that day, not including women and children!
This could be happening today. This SHOULD be happening today. But the cost is great. I wonder how many would be willing to be unfairly jailed for boldly teaching about Jesus.
I find myself wondering what could be done if I would be willing to risk it all – mocking, back-biting, prison, death? I wonder what could happen if more would be willing to be bold for Christ and speak openly about what God has done for us!
Help us, Lord.
Help me, Lord.
We’ve all probably heard and read this chapter so many times. But, it contains so much instruction from Jesus – the central tenants of Christian discipleship.
There is so much power in Jesus’ teaching in regards to helping people understand how the Old Covenant is done away with by Jesus’ coming to earth. I’m sure many chins dropped when Jesus delivered this statement:
21″You have heard that it was said to the people long ago, ‘Do not murder, and anyone who murders will be subject to judgment.’ 22But I tell you that anyone who is angry with his brother will be subject to judgment.
Like some who profess to be Christians today, it’s easy to say, “I may not be perfect, but I do pretty good when it comes to the ‘Big 10′”. Not so much. What about this one:
27″You have heard that it was said, ‘Do not commit adultery.’ 28But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart.
It’s clear that when we’ve broken one, we’ve sinned…period. It’s not a matter of if you’ve done more good than bad, or if you’re better than someone else. If you’re feeling pretty good about yourself because you compare yourself to anyone but Jesus, you might want to reconsider.
And, comparing ourselves to Jesus only points out that we can’t make it on our own. That’s the whole point of the New Covenant. We need the redemption of Jesus, who took on our sin at the cross and paid the penalty once and for all.
Lastly, verse 48 jumped out at me:
48Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.
Impossible? Well, it’s a journey. None of us is perfect. The Bible is clear about that in Romans. Yet, with a soft heart, and eye always on Jesus, and a band of brothers to help keep us in line, we will be moving more towards perfection through Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit inside us.
The message I received today from this chapter is to be careful with whom I form alliances.
King David was sending a peaceful delegation to express his sorrow to the Ammonites since their king had died. Years earlier the king had showed kindness to David.
However, some of the Ammonite nobles whispered to the king’s son, Hanun, that David was only sending men to spy on them so they could overthrow them.
Listening to this evil counsel, Hanun seized David’s men and humiliated them and sent them back with half-shaven beards and hospital gowns. Not a wise move.
Ultimately, this led to war.
Now, Hanun hired soldiers from Aramea, Rehob, Zobah, Maacah and Tob.
…and David killed seven hundred of their charioteers and forty thousand of their foot soldiers. [b] He also struck down Shobach the commander of their army, and he died there. 19 When all the kings who were vassals of Hadadezer saw that they had been defeated by Israel, they made peace with the Israelites and became subject to them. So the Arameans were afraid to help the Ammonites anymore.
It might have been better for those who came to fight for Hanun to stay home that day.
Better yet, this could have all been avoided had Hanun not listened to his nobles with their suspicious whispers.
I think it all goes back to asking God before doing anything – which we see David doing, especially in his early years.
Lord, help us to follow the path you have for us today – not listening to gossip or our own paranoid or selfish whispers. You ordain our steps, Lord. Help us to seek your counsel for each decision.
In chapter 9 of 2 Samuel, we see David reaching out to “the house of Saul” – yes the same Saul who spent the last weeks an months of his life trying to kill David. It was for the sake of Saul’s son, Jonathan, of course.
David asked, “Is there anyone still left of the house of Saul to whom I can show kindness for Jonathan’s sake?”
He found that Jonathan had a son who was crippled in both feet and what’s worse, a horrible name: Mephibosheth.
Anyway – David granted this young man land and servants and livestock and invited him to eat at the king’s table.
9 Then the king summoned Ziba, Saul’s servant, and said to him, “I have given your master’s grandson everything that belonged to Saul and his family. 10 You and your sons and your servants are to farm the land for him and bring in the crops, so that your master’s grandson may be provided for. And Mephibosheth, grandson of your master, will always eat at my table.” (Now Ziba had fifteen sons and twenty servants.)
Can you imagine what Phibby was thinking? One day, he’s a “dead dog” and the next, he’s a wealthy land owner dining at the king’s table.
Sounds a lot like my story when God got a hold of me!
Thank God for His grace.
This is a great chapter in David’s story.
First, they’re returning the Ark to Jerusalem – just as it should be, right?
Then, the wheel on the cart falls off and the men innocently try and catch the ark and stop it from falling on the ground. Oops – not supposed to touch the ark – and they’re killed. God’s mad.
So, David thinks – it’s too risky to bring the Ark into Jerusalem! So, he leaves it at Obed-Edum’s pad for 3 months. During that time, Mr. Edum gets blessed along with his entire household as a result of the Ark being there.
So, now David thinks – perhaps I SHOULD bring it back home. And he does.
If they’d only have listened to God in the first place, none of this would have had to happen.
Now – my favorite story in this chapter is about David’s wife Michal. She saw him dancing around, praising God like he just didn’t care. She looked out the window and saw everyone gawking at him, making a fool of himself (in her mind). But, David was dancing before God “with all his might” and didn’t care what anyone thought.
When he got back home, she told him what a fool she thought he was – and she was cursed at that instant and never was able to have children.
I love David’s response to Michal:
21 David said to Michal, “It was before the LORD, who chose me rather than your father or anyone from his house when he appointed me ruler over the LORD’s people Israel—I will celebrate before the LORD. 22 I will become even more undignified than this, and I will be humiliated in my own eyes. But by these slave girls you spoke of, I will be held in honor.”
I guess this chapter is all about motives. What was David’s motive for bringing the Ark back to Jerusalem? Did he think it was best because he wanted to please God? Or, did he just bring it there so he and his household could be blessed like Mr. Edum?
When Michal commented as she did at David, was she thinking about how much David loved God and was trying to please God? Or, was she more concerned with what others thought about her husband?
The encouragement here for me is to keep my eyes on pleasing God – and not worry about what anyone else is thinking. Are you willing to be “even more undiginfied” and humiliated to honor and praise God?
So, Saul has some victories and the people are pleased with their new king.
Then, Saul was told to wait seven days for Samuel to come and make a burnt offering before the Lord. However, Samuel doesn’t show in that time, so Saul takes it upon himself (pride?) and makes the burnt offering without Samuel.
Wow, big mistake. Samuel says, “You have acted foolishly, you have not kept the commandment of the Lord your God, which He commanded you, for now the Lord would have established your kingdom over Israel forever. But now your kingdom shall not endure.”
Dang. Pride and impatience. So glad I don’t have issues in those two areas.
Oh, wait, I do. How many times would Samuel had to sit me down with a similar chastisement? Guess that’s why I’m not “king” of much at this time.
Hey, did you see that even back then the Philistines were hooked on Oprah? See verse 17:
And the raiders came from the camp of the Philistines in three companies: one company turned toward Oprah…
I guess they didn’t fight that day because they watched TV instead.
Nahash the Ammonite. Not the nicest fella, nor the smartest.
First he besieged Jabesh-gilead. When the occupants pleaded, he said they could be his servants, but he’d first have to gouge out one of each of their eyes.
Then, they asked for 7 days to muster help.
Um…let me see if I get this right. Nahash agreed to wait a week while the citizens of Jabesh-giliead had the chance to gather an army?
Very interesting. Perhaps Nahash felt the Jews were weak and that no one would come to their rescue. Perhaps because the people had no “king” they had the reputation of being weak.
Oh, Israel, if you only understood the power of God on your side.
Story turns out good for Israel. Saul gets involved, persuades all his Jewish buddies to fight and they slaughtered the Ammonites. Now, the people recognized Saul ask king.
And so it begins…