Archive for March, 2008

Right Thing Done the Wrong Way

Today’s story found in 2 Samuel 6 revolves around the Ark of God represented the immediate presence and glory of God. David considered it a top priority to bring the Ark out of obscurity and back into prominence. He just wanted Israel to be alive with a sense of the presence and glory of God.

Seventy years before the Philistines transported the Ark on a cart in that moving story found in 1 Samuel 6. And they got away with it without any consequences. But for the Israelites to borrow man’s ways instead of going to God’s Word for directions was (and is) costly.

Transporting the ark on a cart was against God’s specific command. The ark was designed to be carried (Exodus 25:12-15) and was only to be carried by Levites of the family of Koath (Numbers 4:15).

I’m sure in David’s zeal to return the Ark to prominence that he prayed for God’s blessing on this major undertaking. It was a very important occasion, the atmosphere was joyful, exciting and engaging. But did he neglect to inquire of God regarding the production itself? Could it be that none of the whole procession pleased God because it was all in disobedience to His revealed Word?

This was a good thing done the wrong way. Though they experienced dire consequences and pain from their first attempt done in the arm of flesh, God still gave them a second chance at bringing His presence and glory near to them. It wasn’t like David and his men got one chance, and one chance only, to draw near to God.

God met with David in 1 Chronicles 15 to discuss what transpired. After meeting with God and listening to His word, David tried again to bring the Ark to Jerusalem.

It was still with a big production – bigger than the first attempt. Because David was wise enough to know that the problem with the first attempt wasn’t that it was a big production, but that it was a big production that came from man and not God.

David was able to navigate the waters of emotions in this event. The two great errors in regards to Christianity and emotions are –

  • the error of making emotions the center of our Christian life and
  • the error of an emotionally detached Christian life.

In the Christian life emotions must not be manipulated and they must not be repressed. David is a good example of how this might look like in our lives!

And what of Uzzah? He made a decision in a split second to disregard God’s command and do what seemed, and perhaps felt, right to him. But God fulfilled the ominous promise of Numbers 4:15 and struck Uzzah.

David desired Israel to know the presence of the Lord, and sure enough, God showed up at Nachon’s threshing floor – but not in the way anyone wanted.

What was the error of Uzzah? It was more than just a reflex action or instinct. God struck Uzzah because his action was based upon a critical error in thinking.

  • Uzzah erred in thinking it didn’t matter who transported the ark
  • Uzzah erred in thinking it didn’t matter how the ark was transported
  • Uzzah erred in thinking he knew all about the ark because it was in his father’s house for so long
  • Uzzah erred in thinking that God couldn’t take care of the ark of Himself
  • Uzzah erred in thinking that the ground of Nachon’s threshing floor was less holy than his own hand

“His intention to help was right enough; but there was a profound insensibility to the awful sacredness of the ark, on which even its Levitical bearers were forbidden to lay hands.” (Spurgeon)

David became angry at God in his confusion. And in his anger directed towards the Lord, He sought God! Anger can drive us to God, even anger directed towards Him in our confusion.

David simply didn’t understand why his good intentions weren’t enough. God is concerned with both our intentions and our actions.

So the Lord deals with David, and causes him to fulfill His word by housing the Ark with Obed-Edom who was a Levite of the family of Koath (1 Chronicles 26:4). This was the family within the tribe of Levi that God commanded to transport and take care of the ark (Numbers 4:15).

When God’s Word was obeyed and His holiness was respected, blessing followed for Obed-Edom and his household. God wanted the ark to be a blessing for Israel, not a curse. We might say that the curse didn’t come from God’s heart but from man’s disobedience. That which God intended for our good can feel bad if we walk in disobedience regarding it.

I think it is a mistake to think that David was immodest in his dancing as 1 Chronicles 15:27 indicates that David set aside his royal robes and simply dressed just like everyone else in the procession. But Michal felt it wasn’t dignified for the King of Israel to express his emotions before God. But as she casts judgement on David’s lack of royal behavior, she chides him with biting sarcasm (which is very unbecoming for royalty!).

But David was in a good and healthy place. He didn’t let Michal’s sarcastic criticism ruin his day. He simply explained the truth: “I did it for God, not for you.” David was in touch with God and so he was not offended (Psalm 119:165).

Michal was barren, proving that a critical spirit stifles fruitfulness.

Creator of Emotions and Truth, may You align my thinking and feelings to Your will and ways. I do not want a big production if it is not done according to Your Word. Nor do I want to be stifled and repressed when indeed something as glorious as Your presence is marching forward for the healing of people. May I love Thy Word that I shall have great peace nor be offended.

Became Great…God was with Him

Prior to this 3rd anointing of David as king in 2 Samuel 5, only one of the tribes of Israel recognized David as king at all (Judah). The other tribes recognized the son of Saul, the puppet Ishbosheth, as king.

After Ishbosheth is murdered, they then turn to David. The tribes only turned to David after their previous choice was taken away. How often I recognize Jesus as king in an area of my life only when my other choices crumble!

Lord Jesus, I desire to chose You outright rather than going through the heartbreak and trials of my other choices failing me!

This 3rd anointing of David is described in greater detail in 1 Chronicles 12:23-40. It tells of the great assembly that gathered in Hebron to finally recognize David as king over all Israel. Chronicles describes the impressive army that came to Hebron, and numbers the ranks at over 340,000 men. The scene is depicted as:

All these men of war, who could keep ranks, came to Hebron with a loyal heart, to make David king over all Israel; and all the rest of Israel were of one mind to make David king. And they were there with David three days, eating and drinking, for their brethren had prepared for them…for there was joy in Israel.

  • David was first anointed by the prophet Samuel when he was about 15.
  • Then the kingly tribe of Judah anointed him in Hebron when he was 30 years old.
  • And finally at the age of 37, God’s promise is realized where all Israel unites under the reign of David.

Twenty-two years later!

David spent at least 15 years in preparation for the 40-year-long throne of Israel. God uses great preparation when the task is great. In God’s plan there is almost always a hidden price of greatness. It seems that those who become ‘great’ among God’s people experience much pain and difficulty in God’s training process.

I love this quote by Alan Redpath, and so I’ll force it right here! The Jebusites thought their city impenetrable, so much so, that they mocked David saying that even their lame and blind could defend so great a city! But as Alan said about that besetting sin that we think unconquerable,

“I want to say to you in the name of the Lord Jesus that there is no habit that has gone so deep but that the power of the blood of Jesus can go deeper, and there is no entrenchment of sin that has gone so far but the power of the risen Lord, by His Holy Spirit, can go further.”

So as it was with the fortress on Mt. Zion, even so shall my immovable mountain fortress of sin be defeated by the Son of David, Jesus Christ!

David could have written the original The Purpose Driven Life! What peace and purpose there is when we can know the three things David knew:

  • David knew that the Lord had established him as king over Israel: David knew that God called him and established him over Israel.
  • He had exalted His kingdom: David knew that the kingdom belonged to God – it was His kingdom.
  • For the sake of His people Israel: David knew God wanted to use him as a channel to bless His people. It was not for David’s sake that he was lifted up, but for the sake of His people Israel.

But even in his purpose driven life, he fought his battles and made poor choices. When David took more concubines and wives to himself, he was in direct disobedience to Deuteronomy 17:17: Neither shall he multiply wives for himself, lest his heart turn away.

And though the David and everyone else around him may have seen his many children as God’s sign of blessing upon him; we read that most of the trouble to come in David’s life comes from his relationship with women and from his children.

Here David was with great success and prosperity (the Lord was with him despite these choices) and David is sowing seeds of trouble for the future. There were no immediate ramifications for his actions, but the seeds were buried away and was only enduring a gestation period before blooming into full blown coup!

Yet, despite his inability to exercise discernment in his intimate relationships, he was wise enough to wait on the Lord before the second battle that would affect all of Israel.

If in the same situation of facing a second battle, I would have said, “I’ve fought this battle before. I know how to win. This will be easy.” But David didn’t run on the fuel of yesterday’s victory. He always triumphed when he sought and obeyed God.

We just finished a Bible study by Priscilla Shirer regarding Discerning the Voice of God. A quote from the old commentator Adam Clark seems to tie in nicely with that Bible Study and today’s passage:

“How is it that such supernatural directions and assistances are not communicated now? Because they are not asked for; and they are not asked for because they are not expected; and they are not expected because men have not faith; and they have not faith because they are under a refined spirit of atheism, and have no spiritual intercourse with their Maker.”

O Word become Flesh, grant me ears to hear, and a heart that believes. Teach me what “spiritual intercourse with the Maker” looks like.

Zeal for Others

In 2 Samuel 4, we again see what zeal David seems to have in vindicating people wronged other than himself. He will endure for years someone who mistreats him, but lay a hand on another and David is compelled to requite justice.

His name was Mephibosheth:
This was the son of Jonathan, David’s covenantal friend, who died with his father in battle. Mephibosheth was the last male descendant of Saul with a strong legal claim to the throne of Saul. At this time he was only 12 years old – and he was lame.

As she made haste to flee, that he fell and became lame:
Mephibosheth was weak because of circumstances beyond his control. He was weak because of his age, and because of injury that came from the hand of another.

We will see more of Mephibosheth in later chapters!

Think of those two Benjamites bringing Ishbosheth’s severed head to David. Claiming to David, “We are God’s servants, defeating your enemies as instruments of God.”

Their claim, “The Lord has avenged my lord the king,” was presuming on God’s approval of their deed, as though they had acted on the Lord’s express orders, instead of their own selfish plot to gain favor with the up and coming king!

The son of Saul your enemy.
Rechab & Baanah would have fared better if they had kept their mouth shut. How often I add words to a conversation just to prevent silence, and it ends up damaging things.

So as these Benjamites relate to David the account the son of Saul your enemyDavid couldn’t relate to this, because he didn’t think of Saul as his enemy. The beautiful song David composed at the death of Saul and Jonathan shows that though Saul set himself as an enemy of David, David did not regard him as an enemy, but rather as the Lord’s anointed!

Rechab and Baanah thought David would be pleased to see the severed head of Ishbosheth. They underestimated David’s loyalty to God and the house of Saul. David was loyal to his pledge to honor and preserve Saul’s family and descendants.

Even though Ishbosheth was not the Lord’s anointed in the same sense as Saul was, David had thoroughly learned to let God take vengeance!

So, David would not accept their evil deed, even though it seemed to serve a good purpose – unifying Israel under David’s reign as king.

“While it is true that God overrules all the doings of men, and compels them ultimately to serve His high purposes, it is equally true that no servant of His can ever consent to do evil that good may come. It is an arresting truth that our Lord in the days of his earthly life would not accept the testimony of demons.” (You’ll never guess! Yep, Spurgeon!)

Oh Loyal Covenant Keeper, grant me a heart that waits patiently for Your will to be accomplished, and a zeal for the justice for others. And guide this fickled heart to be able to discern how a good purpose should righteously be pursued! Bank me in with discernment and wisdom.

Choosing Our Responses

Interesting how much of this chapter is taken up with wives & concubines. The first thing listed in 2 Samuel 3 are the six wives and six kids of David. One-half of them we will learn more about, and that not in pretty colors.

  • Amnon raped his half-sister and was murdered by his half-brother.
  • Absalom murdered his half-brother and led a civil war against his father David, attempting to murder David.
  • Adonijah tried to seize the throne from David and David’s appointed successor – then he tried to take one of David’s concubines and was executed for his arrogance.

Since I know a little something about fickleness, it isn’t hard to detect ole Abner and his many multi-faceted plots! But in the midst of it all, if Abner knew that David was God’s choice for king, why did he fight against him before this? Abner is a good example of those of us who know things to be true but don’t live as if they were true.

Lord Jesus, where You lead, I will follow!

So Abner did the right thing when he joined David’s side but he did it for the wrong reason. Instead of joining David because Ishbosheth offended him personally, he should have joined David because he knew that David was God’s choice to be king.

God of Righteousness, help me to serve You with a pure heart and with pure motives!

The fact that Abner – who was a general, not a Bible scholar – knew the prophecies regarding David, and the fact that he could ask the leaders of Israel to consider them means that these prophecies of David were widely known.

Sadly, they were not widely obeyed – most of Israel was lukewarm and unenthusiastic in their embrace of David as king. In this regard David prefigures his greater Son. Jesus fulfilled all manner of prophecy regarding the Messiah, yet He was rejected by all but a remnant of Israel.

After Abner came and tried to get reconciled with David, David responded very gently, as he seemed to most everyone who tried to usurp his position. As with Saul and Ishbosheth, David was wise and generous towards a former adversary. A lesser man would never forgive Abner for leading an army against God’s king, but David was a great, wise, and generous man.

Now, why wasn’t Joab pleased that Abner had defected and joined David’s side? There are at least three reasons for his hostility.

1. Joab feared Abner was a deceiver, a double agent working on behalf of Ishbosheth, the pretender king.

2. Abner killed Joab’s brother, and Joab was the avenger of blood for Asahel.

3. As the chief general of the former King Saul, Abner had a lot of top-level military experience. Abner might take Joab’s place as David’s chief military assistant.

And I can see Joab’s response better than I can see David’s! Joab may have even justified his actions by thinking, “I’m doing this to defend and honor David my king.”

But our sin and treachery never honors our king. We must avoid the trap Spurgeon spoke of: “We may even deceive ourselves into the belief that we are honoring our Lord and Master when we are, all the while, bringing disgrace upon his name.”

Oh Holy Spirit, grant guidance, discernmnet and power to know Your will and to walk in it!

Patience of David

I have been googling and reading and contemplating the relationship between David and Jonathan, and thought perhaps that I could scribble out my thoughts in a day or two’s time. But there seems to be a gaping hole missing in all the commentaries about these two fellows.

They seem to fall within one of two camps.
1) They were just commonly good close friends; or
2) they were homosexual lovers.

I’m not convinced that either one is correct. Perhaps we are missing from our American mindset a third type of relationship, that more suitably describes the convenantal relationship between Jonathan and David.

So, since I have not done with that project, I thought it best not to delay the continuing on with our readings in 2 Samuel. And will be blogging tonight about 2 Samuel 2.

David inquired of the Lord.

How much of David’s successes hinged on this very practice of his? David wanted more than God’s blessings on his plans, but he wanted to be right smack dab in the middle of God’s plan.

So instead of David taking the fleshly opportunity to capitalize on the chaos in Israel following Saul’s death, David “inquires of the Lord.”

How often I am inclined to force a calling or a promise using the arm of flesh instead of waiting God’s perfect timing. Remember, David was anointed king of Israel by Samuel 15 to 20 years before this.

I not only struggle with manipulating myself and others, but also trying to manipulate God Himself! David resisted such a temptation!

David receives a second anointing at the hands of more people. O thank God that He meets with us in a special way more than once at the beginning of our Christian journey. But He gives us milestones along the way!

And I would just suggest that this anointing came as a result of getting making amends and getting reconciled with the people of Judah.

Seems like Abner still has ought against David from the embarrassement suffered at his hands in 1 Samuel 26 where Abner failed to protect his cousin, king Saul (though David did spare his life!).

So Abner set up Ishbosheth, son of Saul (perhaps an illegitimate one – considering the name), to be king, though he certainly seems to be playing the puppet to Abner.

And if David’s sparing of Saul, the Lord’s anointed, mystified us, what are we to make of this man-made uprising by Ishbosheth that lasted for two years?

Clearly, Ishbosheth and the tribes that followed after him, could have been defeated if the ratio was 20:360 in just one of the battles. But David exercised ridiculous (or so I would have assessed it) patience, longsuffering and trust in God.

I can’t help but notice the similarily between David not forcing his reign on anyone, and how that the Son of David won’t force Himself on us either.

O Patient, Spotless One! Reign over me! Tear down any false pretenders to the throne of my heart. Purify my heart and make it wholly Thine. Please give insight into David and Jonathan’s relationship as well.

Just for the record, Abner is Saul’s cousin. Joab, Abishai and Asahel were David’s nephews, the sons of his sister Zeruiah.

Battling Bitterness

The second book of Samuel opens with an Amalekite’s account of how Saul died in battle, which had him actually delivering the death-blow to Saul. 1 Samuel 31 had Saul falling on his sword, and when his armorbearer saw that “he was dead” he fell on his sword too.

So whether the Amalekite came upon Saul while life still lingered in him and finished him off at his request; or whether he simply lied in hopes that David would be pleased and reward him…David did not appreciate the Amalekite’s hand had ANYTHING to do with the death of the “Lord’s Anointed.”

1) If we do take the Amalekite’s story as true, this is a chilling irony in the life and death of Saul. Back in 1 Samuel 15, God commanded Saul to completely destroy the people of Amalek in a unique war of judgment. But Saul blatantly failed to do that! And now an Amalekite will bring a bitter end to his tragic life.

Captain of my Soul, help me to obey fully Your edicts. Empower me to utterly put to death the cravings and lust of the flesh, lest it be the death of me!

2) But I can certainly imagine the Amalekite telling a tale of him slaying the king of Israel in hopes it would put him in good graces with David. I spent the first 35 years of my life doing that, and find myself still tempted to do the same. Make me look better than I really am.

The truth of the matter is, the Amalekite probably just happened to be the first person to come across the body of Saul and his armorbearer, and he scavanged the crown and bracelet from him and brought it to David. What would have happened to him if he had just stuck to the truth of the matter, instead of embellishing it?

Jesus, who is full of Grace and Truth, help me to daily experience the freedom that is found in honesty and truth.

When David heard of Saul’s death I would have expected celebration at the death of this great enemy and rival. After all, out of pure jealousy, hatred, spite, and ungodliness Saul took away David’s family, home, career, security, and the best years of David’s life – and Saul was utterly unrepentant to the end. Yet…

…when David heard of Saul’s death, he did not rejoice. Instead, he mourned, wept, fasted and composed a song in honor of Saul and Jonathan. In spite of all that Saul did against David, David spoke well of Saul after his death.

I’m convicted by the powerful testimony of how David kept his heart free from bitterness, even when we was greatly wronged and sinned against. David fulfilled 1 Corinthians 13:5: love thinks no evil. He knew the principle of 1 Peter 4:8: And above all things have fervent love for one another, for love will cover a multitude of sins.

Does this mean that hatred and bitterness and unforgiveness are chosen? And that they are not necessarily imposed on us? Somehow David chose to become better instead of bitter.

One truth that might have supported David during this time was knowing that God was in charge of his life, and that even if Saul meant it for evil, God could use it for good. Perhaps the years in the wilderness, escaping Saul, really were years when God trained David to be a king!

I wonder if it also helped David to forgive Saul when he remembered how God had forgiven him. David heard the news of Saul’s death and sang the “Song of the Bow” when he was in Ziklag. The city was still filled with burned rubble that was the indirect result of David’s backsliding and sin. David had just come from a time when the Lord had graciously forgiven him – how could he not show a gracious heart towards Saul’s memory.

The contents of David’s song displays for us that he really somehow managed to esteem Saul:

  • David saw beauty in Saul (2 Samuel 1:19).
  • David wanted no one to rejoice in Saul’s death (2 Samuel 1:20).
  • David wanted everyone to mourn, even the mountains and fields (2 Samuel 1:21).
  • David praised Saul as a mighty warrior (2 Samuel 1:22-23).
  • David complimented the personality and loyalty of Saul (2 Samuel 1:23).
  • David called Israel to mourning, and called on others to praise Saul for the good he did for Israel (2 Samuel 1:24).

I have been thinking alot about Jonathan and David and their friendship lately. I’ll scribble something about that next before moving on to chapter 2.

Love of Heaven, thank You for Your forgiveness. I pray that I will walk in it as David did, especially when dealing with those who have offended me. Oh for a heart that esteems every person above myself in a healthy way.

Tragedy of Being Unprepared

We come to the conclusion of 1 Samuel and the conclusion of the people’s king, Saul. Sin causes such chaos and confusion.

What a sad plot Saul’s life took. As sad as anything is in this account, sad is the absence of any kind of sorrow or repentance or crying out to God at all on Saul’s part. He was told the previous day that he would die, yet he does not seem to have prepared his soul to meet God in any way.

When Saul saw the Philistine army preparing to attack Israel, he spent his time going undercover to a witch’s cove. No preparation of his army. No preparation to meet God. No preparation from a kingly standpoint except to consult a medium. So no wonder when the Philistines attacked all Israel was thrown into disarray and slain on Mt. Gilboa.

Lord God, as I hear hard words or encounter difficult times, may I cry out to You, and be quick to repent lest it give the Philistines the victory.

And to think…David wanted to be a part of this group of Philistines. It was the Lord’s mercy that did not allow David to take up with these enemies of the Lord. David would have had a hand not only in slaying Saul, but in killing his covenantal best friend, that brave and worthy Jonathan. To the end, we see Jonathan loyally fighting for his God, his country, and his father the king unto the very end.

Merciful Saviour, how I thank You for sparing me the many snares I would I have chosen to fall headlong into, if it were not for Your intervention.

As much as the events of Saul and his family’s death grieved David, it is clear to see that it did provide David a smoother path to the kingship of Israel in the aftermath. I’m thankful the Lord is able to see the big picture.

What can be said about suicide? Saul’s beginning looked so bright, but as time took it’s toll on this tall, handsome man, jealousy took over. Even to the point that it led to the sin of suicide. After all, suicide is self-murder. Yet, it is wrong to regard suicide as the unforgivable sin.

There is no depth that a person (yes, even a Christian), won’t go, if we start trusting in our own hearts more instead of God’s will. And this isn’t even addressing the physical suicidal causes. The Christian is not granted a special hedge of protection over the synapses of the brain or the chemical balance of it. We are prone to heart disease, liver disease, and any other organ disease, including the brain, just like the rest of the world.

Every sin is forgivable. Every poor choice we make is forgivable. But just as in this story…the tragedy is so far reaching. All of God’s people were in total chaos and on the edge of captivity. It was even used to glorify pagan gods and to mock the living God (to proclaim it in the temple of their idols and among the people).

Giver of Life, help me to embrace You as the source of Life. During the darkness of life may I lean hard on You rather than leaning on my sword.

Out of the inhabitants of Jabesh Gilead arose valiant men who gave kindness to the memory of Saul, Jonathan, and Saul’s other sons. Many years before, Saul delivered their city from the Ammonites, and they faithfully repay the kindness God showed them from the hand of Saul. And so the men of Jabesh Gilead took down the bodies of Saul and his sons from their place of humiliation and gave them a proper burial.

Lord Jesus, help me to give tokens of my appreciation and gratitude to the many people You have used in my life to deliver me from the “Ammonites,” while they are still alive. Oh for a deeply grateful heart!

Return to the Lord

This is a turn-around-chapter for David (1 Samuel 30). For 16 months he’s been mercilessly raiding other villages, being sure to leave no survivors behind in order to cover his sin (compare David’s tactics with the Amalekites “merciful” kidnappings!); and even arrived to the point where he was ready to battle against God’s people of whom he was to be king!

And remember how he got himself into this whole mess? David said in his heart lies, old tapes, discouragements, etc. But in this chapter, after much orchestrating and corralling by the Lord, David returns to the Lord in his thinking.
David strengthened himself in the Lord!
Our heart is the battlefield for the soul!

When the Bible reads “Now it happened…” I take great comfort knowing that the Amalekites invasion didn’t “just happen.” God had a purpose for orchestrating this whole thing in David’s life. Yes! Even though it affected 600 men and their families!

So it was “All had been lost.” At this point, David has nothing more to support him. No one in Israel can help him. The Philistines don’t want him. His family is gone; all he has owned is gone.

But at least he has his friends, right? Not really; the people spoke of stoning him. Every support is gone, except the Lord. That is a good place to be in, not a bad place.

So after God has painted him into a corner, David reaches out to the character of God. David went to Him for comfort when everything and everyone was against him.

He knew there was no one to turn to for strength in such an overwhelming crisis except the Lord…and he had confidence that the Lord would be merciful even after 1-1/2 years of doing his own rebellious way!

Yes, even backslidden David, wayward David, “fight-with-the-Philistines” David can reach the ear and heart of the Lord! Why would God strengthen him? Because God is rich in mercy and grace. David was completely broken, bringing absolutely nothing but filthy, empty hands to God.

It is not the sinlessness of our hearts that causes God to bend His ear. Sometimes we think we have to achieve God’s blessing or strength, but David shows us another way…and how much more does the Son of David offer us a freer way!

David is given assurance from the Lord that he shall have the victory over the Amalekites. But even after being given the God-backed-guarenteed win, 1/3 of David’s men (200) were still too emotionally drained and physically exhausted from their 3-day (75 miles) march to Ziklag.

This might have been tremendously discouraging to David. As he pursues a significantly larger Amalekite army, he finds that one-third of his men can’t continue.

But David doesn’t let this trial stop him. His faith is being revived by the mercy of God and he continues on his battle to reclaim lost treasures!

After leaving behind 200 fighting men, he marches toward the Amalekites with a strong resolve to secure what had been lost. But then they come across a man collapsed in the wilderness.

It would have been easy, and perhaps logical, to ignore this man because they had a “much greater” mission in pursing the Amalekites. But David and his men show unexpected kindness to this man,
and they gave him bread and he ate, and they let him drink water.
A revival seems to be occuring in the heart of David!

The Egyptian man is able to lead David to the Amalekites (just like God to give him a pat on the back for meeting this one man’s needs!). After assessing the situation, David clearly sees that the best strategy is to attack when all of the enemy are suffering hang overs from the victory celebration!

Everything that the enemy had taken, David took back. God gave him a complete victory. God gave David even more than what was promised. He received spoil from the battle, beyond what had been taken from Ziklag. This was blessing straight from the grace of God.

(Now, in the great battle of Christ on our behalf, He has not only given us back what we lost, but He has given us what Adam in his perfection never had. The Lord’s restoration always exceeds our losses!)

After the great victory, the 400 fighting men returned to the other 200 weary men who stayed by the stuff. The worthless men looked at the spoil and said, We fought for this spoil and it is ours.”

David looked at the spoil and said, “Look at what the Lord has given us.” When we look at it that way, how could we not share? When the Lord had given David such a great victory, he really saw it as the Lord’s victory more than his own.

In response to this spat, David declares an important principle:
the supply lines are just as vital as the soldiers are and God will compensate both “soldiers” and “supporters” properly.

The closing verses are David doing his Steps 8 & 9…he’s making amends to his family and friends who were affected by his defection to the Philistines. He knows he must do whatever he can to put things right again, so he sent some of the spoil to the elders of Judah.

While 1 Samuel 27:1 shows us how David could fall so far short, this chapter outlines for us his journey back to the arms of God and into His will:

  • David strengthened himself in the Lord his God.
  • David inquired of the Lord.
  • David believed God’s promise.
  • David did what God told him to do.
  • David showed unexpected care and kindness to others.
  • David saw it as the Lord’s victory.
  • David shared the reward with others.
  • David did what he could to mend relationships.

Merciful Restorer, teach me to encourage myself in You, to strengthen myself in You, even when my scaffolding all around me collapses. Keep the thoughts and intents of my heart solely captivated by You and Your beauties.

Another quote from Charles Spurgeon (just be thankful I don’t include nearly as much as I would otherwise from him!)

“May you see your self-righteousness burned like Ziklag, and all your carnal hopes carried away captive, and may you then encourage yourselves in Christ, for He will recover all for you, and give you spoil besides, and there shall be joy and rejoicing.” (Spurgeon)

God Saving Us from Ourselves

In 1 Samuel 29, David finds himself in a place he thought he would never be: among the enemies, ready to fight against God’s people over whom he was suppose to be king!

Remember, it all started two chapters ago when David said in his heart “I shall perish…there is nothing better for me.”

Guardian of my heart, set a centurion over my heart and all that it contemplates.

I imagine as David sought refuge among the enemy from Saul’s murderous chases, that he would have thought 1-1/2 years later he would be willing to fight against his very own people. It all started with a quest for security and stability.

Lord Jesus, I want to only thirst after You and to know You, which is eternal life.

We see David having an identity crisis. He forgot who he was – a Hebrew, a part of God’s people. David would have never come to this point in his faith journey if he would have remembered who he was – a child of God destined to be the king of the Israelites (even though it did not immediately appear so!)

The Philistine leaders knew who he really was though! Even though David had forgotten for a season. The Lord is so merciful to somehow continue to use us as a testimony even while we are in the midst of making poor choices.

Father and King, help me to walk in the truth and power of who I am in Christ!

It’s kind of funny to read Achish’s defense of David as from a coworkers point of view in today’s society. “Oh no, Deborah isn’t a Christian at all, I’ve seen how she has lived over the last 16 months and she really is just as ordinarily selfish as the rest of us!”

Captain of my soul, protect my witness and lifestyle so that I shall never feel at home in the army of the enemy.

What a blessing! What a mericul Saviour and coordinator of events, that He would use people rejecting David (who likes to be rejected anyway?) in David’s life as a means of saving him from the shame of fighting against the people he was to rule over! God does make all things work together for good!

“He shall not go up with us to the battle…as soon as you are up early in the morning and have light, depart…”

David wanted to fight with the Philistines against Israel, but God wouldn’t let him. David’s heart is not in a healthy place, but God hasn’t abandoned him! I praise God for the times when He kept me from sinning as bad as I wanted to sin!

Oh Blessed Deliverer! Thank You for Your mercy and protection. Thank You for the times You have orchestrated my circumstances to protect me from myself. And thank You for the times where You just strengthened me to want and choose the better way!

God Meets Us Where We Are!

And we thought David was in a bad place placing his trust in his own heart… but in 1 Samuel 28 Saul seems to be trying to one-ups-him by running to a witch for direction!

Samuel’s death seems to be mentioned here to emphasize the spiritual vacuum that his absence created. It appears that this void was created by Saul ignoring the words of God that he did know.

Saul knew that God did not want him hunting David and trying to kill him. Saul confessed as much in passages such as 1 Samuel 24:16-20 and 26:21.

Yet, Saul disregarded what he knew to be God’s will in this matter. I suppose if I want God to guide me, I’ll need to follow what guidance I do have from Him.

Lord, help me to walk fully in all that You have shown me so that I may know more of You!

I’m impressed with Jesus praying the night before choosing His 12 disciples. As I look at Saul’s servants and friends who helped him find the medium instead of attempting to dissuade him from this very wicked practice, I pray

Oh Lord, surround me with wise and confrontative friends. And help me to be such a friend!

Saul took lightly the word of God with its prohibitions (Leviticus 19:31, 20:6, 27; Deuteronomy 18:9-14) and promised curse (Leviticus 20:6). So simply by not taking the Word at His word, he brought upon himself a curse of God’s face being set against that person.

Oh, Blessed Living Word, increase my faith to take Your word more seriously and live wholly by it.

Interesting that the last time we read Saul using the name of the Lord is to swear to a medium that she will not be punished!

Father, whose name is hallowed, keep me from taking Your name in vain and using it to my own ends.

What a merciful Father we serve! Even as Saul turns to a witch for counsel, the Lord in His great mercy and faithfulness, meets him exactly where he is.

He sends Samuel himself to warn the king of his death, so that he might have an opportunity to make his peace with his Maker. And so when we close our ears to God, He will find unusual – and perhaps uncomfortable – ways to speak to us!

Merciful Saviour, thank You for Your great patience in meeting me exactly where I am.

Strangely, though Saul knew that God would not speak to him in any other way, or through any of the other prophets, he thought that somehow or some way the godly prophet Samuel, conjured by a medium, would speak wisdom to him! Even more strangely, Samuel did! And the message hadn’t changed with time – God’s edict remained the same.

O King of Righteousness, work in me a thankfulness for Your ways and the power to walk steadfastly in them. I desire to talk to You as face to face, and not through any convoluted means.