Archive for the ‘1 Samuel’ Category

David Takes the High Road

A lot has happened in David’s life in the last 6 chapters.

  • After heroically slaying Goliath and
  • the ensuing fame that came with it,
  • David became the son-in-law of the king as well as
  • best buds with the Crown Prince.
  • He valiantly confronted the many dangers from the Philistines,
  • survived several attempts on his life by that psychotic king Saul,
  • bid farewell to his kindred spirit and confidant Jonathan, and
  • then exchanged everyday life for the life of a fugitive,
  • and that for an unknown period of time.
  • Compound this with David’s brief but intense period of backsliding,
  • and his return to the Lord.

How he must have been longing for those days of shepherding!

1 Samuel 22 opens up in that cave named Refuge (Adullam).

O Lord, be my cave of Adullam in times of confusion and uncertainty!

The original motley crew! Rebels looking for a leader to guide them into an overthrow of that fraud of a king.

They may have come looking for David, who was unjustly persecuted, to utilize them to revenge himself upon Saul, but David choose to take the more difficult, yet more honorable road. There was not to be a coup d’état.

  • Men in distress…their lives could scarcely bear the weight of life, nigh onto snapping.
  • Men in debt…men who had not had much success in past, and those failures hampered their future, burdened by debt.
  • Men discontented…or bitter of soul. Dissatisfied with life, and with Saul being their king.

“These are the kind of men who came to David: distressed, bankrupt, dissatisfied. These are the kind of people who come to Christ, and they are the only people who come to Him, for they have recognized their distress, their debt, and bankruptcy, and are conscious that they are utterly discontented. The sheer pressures of these frustrations drives them to the refuge of the blood of Christ that was shed for them.” –Alan Redpath

I wonder if, after having come to David, if they remained men described in terms of 3D’s.

Though David may not have hand-picked these men, I’m sure he was thankful that when he was down and discouraged that God brought people around him to strengthen him.

Lord, You know I could be described in 3D as well. I pray You will transform my life, like David did with his men. To be changed from malcontents to mighty men of valor!

Remember in 1 Samuel 16 when Samuel come to offer sacrifices with Jesse and his family? And David was not even invited to the special visit by the prophet? Or how about the jealous snobbish way his brothers unjustly accused him in 1 Samuel 17?

Well, they seem to have finally gotten on board, his brothers even taking refuge with him in Adullam. And as David prepares for many unknown battles in the future, he first wants to take care of his parents. So he took his parents to Moab where his great-grandmother was from (Ruth 4:13-22).

What wonderful love. The he cares for his parents when he had plenty of problems of his own. I sometimes think that when I am going through trials, I have a license to be unloving and selfish. But David cared about others instead of becoming self-focused in times of trial.

Lord, let me love like David loved. Let me love like Paul wrote about in 1 Corinthians 13.

Later in the chapter, Gad visits with David who is holed up in a “stronghold” (perhaps Masada?!). He counsels David to leave his fortress and return to the Judean region where Saul kept his throne.

I’m sure David was hoping Gad was only tricking him and shout “NOT” at the end of all his advice…but David had to learn to trust God in the midst of danger, not merely wait out the years until Saul passed away. “Go to Judah!” I’m sure no one thought it sounded right!

Oh dear Shepherd, where You lead I want to follow. Just make it so clear where it is I am to go. And if it be through the valley of the shadow of death…so long as Thou art with me…I will go to Jerusalem where a raging lunatic seeks my life.

Just one note here on Saul’s manipulative tactics (which are many).
Look at how Saul refers to David as “the son of Jesse” when talking about him to his servants. He didn’t say, “The Man Who Killed Goliath,” or “The Man Who Killed 200 Philistines,” or “The Man Anointed by God.” Akin to name-calling!

Living Word, You have taught that the tongue has the power of death and the power of life…help me spread vitality!

And as Saul’s reckless paranoia continues, he even manages to think himself as a victim. Though he is the one tossing spears around looking for heads to kabob. How often I have tried to hide behind the victim-facade!

Author of Truth, grant me, I pray, heaven’s perspective. Keep me in touch with Your reality and not my fears or my false peace. Let me walk in Your ways.

An Era David would just as soon Forget

1 Samuel 21 opens up with David, in leaving on a bleak road where all what is certain is behind him, and all what is uncertain is ahead of him, does a great thing — he goes to the house of the Lord.

I would love to excuse David’s lying here as I would have done the exact same thing, except with a bit more embellishment.

Of course he didn’t want Ahimelech to inform Saul of his whereabouts, nor did he want to risk Ahimelech being harmed by having seen him.

So though David’s first step was right on the mark by going to the house of the Lord, the lying took him into a maddening tailspin with devastating results discovered in 1 Samuel 22:22 (we read about Doeg in that chapter too!)

And though David may have only intended to mention a lie in passing to Ahimelech, as he told it, things began to become elaborate, to the point he even puts false words in the mouth of Saul and “my young men”.

Lieing has, by nature, a snowball effect. And that alone is enough to warn us that there is no such thing as a “little white lie”.

Lord Jesus, help all my words to be life-giving and encouraging. Daily, I pray Thee, keep a cenurion over my lips that will protect me from lies and complaining.

“It is painful to the last degree to see one whose faith towered to such a lofty height in the encounter with Goliath, coming down from that noble elevation, to find him resorting for self-protection to the lies and artifices of an impostor.” (Balikie)

Healthy Relationship

Well, I missed my time with God Saturday night to look over 1 Samuel 20 together. I was going to do and try two of them tonight, but because of the extremely busy weekend, and the extremely late start I’m getting on today’s rendevouz, I may try to make up the chapter tomorrow instead. (Aside from the fact, my head is bobbin like a V8 piston!)

Hear Jonathan’s heart towards David!

Whatever you yourself desire, I will do it for you.

Jonathan loved David loyally and earnestly, so much so that he could write David a blank check, and really not care what amount was put in the register.

What complete surrender and willingness. I think I will pray it daily to the Lord, all the while knowing it is the Holy Spirit who will enable me to do it!

Jonathan was the Crown prince of Israel. Everyone thought he would be the next king — everyone except David and Jonathan. Jonathan knew that David was called by God to be the next king, and he was willing to step aside so that he would not be resisting the will of the Lord. Jonathan not only loved David, he loved the Lord God!

I admire their relationship. While David is discouraged, Jonathan continues to try and encourage him. He reassures David with words of his love for him, as well as with his help, to search the matter out for him.

A healthy spiritual relationship involves mutual blessing, such as it was between David and Jonathan. Sometimes David was stronger spiritually, and sometimes Jonathan was stronger. But there was a bond in the Lord between the men that could not be broken.

David will not return to “normal life” until Saul is dead and David is king. This is a pretty bleak road for David to walk, but it is God’s road for him. Yes, God often has His people spend at least some time on a bleak road. He wasn’t out of God’s will by being on the run!

Lord Jesus, whatever You Yourself wants, I give it to You. Thank You for friends who seem to have Your mind on many topics. Help me to know, that even on the bleak road of life You are there!

Just a little bonus tidbit:
“the worthiest of minds are least suspicious and most charitable in their opinions of others.” Matthew Poole, 1600’s Bible Commentator

Family Full of Emotions

Seems like where ever Saul is there is a wide range of emotions. 1 Samuel 19 isnt any different!

I’m struck by the conundrum Jonathan finds himself. Not only does he have a strong covenantal friendship with David, but he also has a clear understanding that David is to be the next king. But the present king is his father, who is instructing him, and all his staff, to bump-off David.

But what an encouragement it is to see Jonathan’s loyalty to David. Despite the threat of his father’s fury Jonathan risks warning David of Saul’s plan to kill him. Jonathan took to himself the principle that “we ought to obey God rather than men…even if it is our king and our father!”

I’m sure everyone must desire to have a friend who will stick up for them with such fortitude and faithfulness. Someone to “greatly delight” in you? How thankful I am that I have such a friend in Jesus Christ!

Jonathan didn’t just NOT help Saul, he proactively assisted David. He didn’t play a Pilate in this deadly plot, but actually got his hands dirty to help his best friend escape from Saul’s rage.

So Jonathan didn’t just warn David, but he went to the king himself and interceded on David’s behalf and attempted to convince Saul that he really should appreciate David and treat him well.

After Jonathan’s sound reasoning brought Saul to a point of reconciliation, war breaks out again with the Philistines. And with the success of David victoriously slaughtering the Philistines, Saul’s ire is resurrected.

The distressing spirit descends on Saul again, and it seems to be intimately connected to jealousy. The reason Jesus was crucified, according to Matthew, was because of envy. Oh the strength of jealousy and envy.

I would love to look more closely at Michal and the reason she protected David from her father’s wrath. But an early morning tomorrow with Bill Glass Ministries is compelling me to take leave and go to bed!

If anyone is reading this before Saturday 8-3pm, please pray the prison ministry outreach. That the women there will understand a little more the joys of Jesus Christ and have their lives changed by Him.

Lord Jesus, protect me from jealousy, envy and any other negative emotion that can create irrational and deadly thoughts. Thank You for the kind of faithfulness and love that protects us from all the wiles of the enemy.

In God’s Hands…Peace!

Though I do so enjoy today’s chapter of 1 Samuel 18, I will be compelled to make a short entry today on it, since I’m hoping to get a good night’s sleep tonight before heading to Austin this weekend.

I cherish the friendship between David and Jonathan.

We know Jonathan to be a hero in his own right who had great confidence in God (chapter 14), so it only seems suitable that he should be knit to the soul of David after seeing him take vengeance on the Philistine who defied God!

  • They were both bold.
  • They both had great trust in God.
  • They both were men of action.
  • They were from the same generation.

Because these two young men were of one mind spiritually, they could share the same armor. Saul’s was too weighty, but Jonathan and David were on the same page, with the same pure motive to serve God.

Jonathan chose David for a friend after he heard him reveal his heart to Saul. Perhaps David’s longing for God’s glory rang true to Jonathan as well. And at that point, Jonathan probably knew that David would be the next king of Israel.

All the tokens given to David by Jonathan is more than just tokens of love. It was a handing over, a surrendering of the kingdom to David. 

Jonathan being the son of the king, was everyone’s expectation to be king of Israel. But Jonathan must have discerned, that David was God’s man.
I love that they made a covenant of friendship that would prove stronger than jealousy, stronger than envy, stronger than ambition or parental disapproval. 
They loved each other more than the throne of Israel, because they loved the Lord more than the throne of Israel!

So Jonathan knew that the heir to the throne to the King of Israel was in God’s hands, and he had peace with that!

Saul on the other hand, knew the same thing about the throne going to someone other than his son, yet he responded so differently…fueled by envy. 
He attempted to skewer David once, and shishkabob him another time. He then schemed to have David thrust into a deadly battle, but God was his shield and protected him in all he did.

Did you notice that? 

David escaped his presence twice:

Perhaps the most remarkable word in this chapter is twice

This means that Saul threw the spear twice. 
This means that Saul missed twice. 
This means that after the first miss, David came back and played again!
This is where many of us will draw the line. “Look, I’ll sit with the bulls-eye on my chest once, and I’ll dodge the spear. I’ll even leave the spear on floor and resist the temptation to throw it back. But one spear whizzing by my head is enough. One miss and I’ve paid my dues. Once is submission to the Lord. Twice is stupidity!”
Gene Edwards, in his wonderful book Tale of Three Kings, says that David understood something that few of even the wisest men in David’s day understood, and even fewer today. 

David understood that “God did not have, but wanted very much to have, men who would live in pain. God wanted a broken vessel.”

“In doing this small feat of returning thrown spears, you will prove many things. 

You are courageous. 
You stand for the right. 
You boldly stand against the wrong. 
You are tough and can’t be pushed around. 
You will not stand for injustice or unfair treatment. 
You are the defender of the faith, 
the keeper of the flame, 
detector of all heresy. 
You will not be wronged. 
All of these attributes then combine to prove that you are also obviously a candidate for kingship. 
Yes, perhaps you are the Lord’s anointed…. 
After the order of King Saul.”
David was never a victim. He looked like a victim, because he was attacked. When there are spears stuck in the wall behind you, and laying about on the floor, you sure look like a victim!
But David behaved wisely in all his ways, so he did not give into the victim’s state of mind, thinking that his fate was in the hands of the one attacking him. David knew his fate was in God’s hands, and could have peace in that.

Lord Jesus, thank You for wonderful, life-giving friends and a wonderful church family. I pray You will assist me to know what it is to have the circumstances of my fate in Your hands…and to have peace with it!

Giants CAN BE Slain!

The chapter for today, 1 Samuel 17, could possibly be one of the best known Old Testament stories.

Goliath, was anywhere from 8’5” to 9’2” with armor and weapons to match his size. And he spoke such demoralizing and fear-producing challenges, that the Israelites were defeat by words alone. 

Oh the power of words, Lord let me bring life with them!

Forty days (40 is the number for testing and trials…try to think of a few examples!) of listening to the Philistines scorn and challenge. I can hardly bear 30 seconds of listening to my old tapes that resound with Goliath-type words. 

Jesus Christ, grant me to partake of the sweet words of grace that fall from Your mouth.

[Trinka, do you know that verse in Isaiah that talks about His words being trained and His lips sweet or gracious…I’m without my Sword here]
The situation had become so desperate, the Saul needed to offer a bribe

  • a cash award,
  • a princess, and
  • a tax exemption –

to induce someone, anyone to fight and win against Goliath.

And though the Lord may kindly give fringe benefits for doing things His way, what purity of heart there is if we can arise to the occasion focused alone on the reputation of the Children of God and the honor of the living God. 

Living Fire, You say blessed are the pure in heart, and I confess it can’t reside in me save You put it there. Consume all impurities and refine until it pure gold You see in me.

He saw the problem in spiritual terms, not in material or fleshly terms.
When the men of Israel said, “This man,”
David said, “This uncircumcised Philistine.”

When the men of Israel said, “Surely he has come up to defy Israel,”
David said, “That he should defy the armies of the living God.”

When the men of Israel said, “The man who kills him,”
David said, “The man who kills this Philistine and takes away the reproach from Israel.”

David saw things from the Lord’s perspective, but the men of Israel saw things only from man’s perspective.

Father, there are many trials in life where I’m stuck seeing them through man’s perspective, (and I even have plenty of friendly eyeballs sharing that same perspective). But show me Your view point, Your perspective, especially when it comes to the giants in my life.

What a Cinderella Story this is! Even his brothers snarl at him!

There is no doubt that what his oldest brother Eliab said hurt David, but he would not let it hinder him.

What have I done now? Is there not a cause?

What helped David to nearly ignore his brother’s jabs? He was more concerned with God’s cause (Is there not a cause?) than with his own feelings.
When David was misunderstood and rebuked, publicly, by his own brother, probably amid the laughs of the other soldiers, he could have blown it. But he showed the strength of God in his life, and replied rightly. 
He didn’t care about his glory or success, but only for the glory and success of the Lord’s cause. 
This is where the battle was won for David! If Eliab’s hurtful words can get David in the flesh, and out of the flow of the Spirit of the Lord, then David’s strength is gone. But when David ruled his spirit and answered softly, he was more in step with the Spirit of the Lord than ever. 

Father, help me to see every hurt, even the seemingly little ones, as opportunities to walk in the Spirit and strengthen me for larger victorie

David seems to be increasing in boldness as the story progresses.

  • First, he said someone should fight Goliath.
  • Then he said he would fight Goliath.
  • Then he reports to Saul, he will beat Goliath!
  • And now he tells Goliath that he will kill him him, and
  • even adds for emphasis, “I will strike you and down and take your head!

Jehovah, I pray that each baby step I take towards You and away from evil, will strengthen and embolden me more and more.

I remember after reading David Brainerd’s biography, a godly missionary in the times of Jonathan Edwards (1700’s), that I thought to employ his methods of godliness in hopes it would do my heart good. 

So I attempted to pray the hours he prayed and when he prayed. It was an absolute utter failure. His armor did not fit me at all. 
Or once a prominent homeschooling administrator and teacher convinced me that classical music would enhance my study time. And I can say, as I mull this passage over today to the tune of some techno music, his armor didn’t fit me either! 

Dear Captain of my soul, I pray You’ll be the One who suits me up to face my Goliath’s and not my admiration of others or the lust for people to think me spiritual because of how my armor looks!

David took the head of the Philistine. He made certain he was dead!

Lord Jesus preserve me from the error of messing around with my sin and spiritual enemy. Help me to slay each temptation…to the death.

David’s victory over Goliath is a “picture in advance” of the victory Jesus won for us.

i. Both David and Jesus represented their people. Whatever happened to the representative would happen to God’s people also.
ii. Both David and Jesus fought the battle on ground that rightfully belonged to God’s people, ground that they had lost.
iii. Both David and Jesus fought when their enemy was able to dominate the people of God through fear and intimidation alone.
iv. Both David and Jesus were sent to the battleground by their father (1 Samuel 17:17).
v. Both David and Jesus were scorned and rejected by their own brethren.
vi. Both David and Jesus fought the battle without concern with human strategies or conventional wisdom.
vii. Both David and Jesus won the battle, but saw that their enemies did not then give up willingly.
viii. Both David and Jesus fought a battle where the victory was assured even before it started.

Thank You Conqueror of my Soul, that Your love has captured me and taken me prison by the bonds of grace! I pray that everyone who faces a giant in their lives will experience a David-like victory because of what the battle You won on Calvary!

Charles Spurgeon cannot be ignored, for I’ve it heard it said (as I am saying it all the time!) that “a Spurgeon sermon a day, keeps the blues away!”

“Immediately before the encounter with the Philistine he fought a battle which cost him far more thought, prudence, and patience. The word-battle in which he had to engage with his brothers and with king Saul, was a more trying ordeal to him than going forth in the strength of the Lord to smite the uncircumcised boaster. Many a man meets with more trouble from his friends than from his enemies; and when he has learned to overcome the depressing influence of prudent friends, he makes short work of the opposition of avowed adversaries.” (Spurgeon)

Hearing the Word of the Lord

Just picture Saul in yesterday’s chapter (1 Samuel 15) clinging to Samuel’s robe pleading for a blessing. The robe tore.
So too the thing he loved and idolized the most was clutched in his stubborn and prideful fist. That idol was torn.

God seems to be putting His finger on an object in my life that I might be clinging to a bit too much to. 

God give me open hands, I pray.

In the opening verses of today’s chapter (1 Samuel 16) we see Samuel still mourning over Saul’s failure. Oh how our enemy would want us to remain trapped in mourning over the tragedies of the past. To be stuck there, unable to move on with the Lord.

Jesus, lead me onward and upward, I pray.

The way God deals with Samuel’s fear of Saul is very gracious; and it is a great example of what is meant by “Be wise as serpents but innocent as doves.”

Though Samuel may have looked a tad weak in fearing for his life from Saul, I’m so impressed and moved by his actions in the remaining verses.
God tells him that

“I have provided Myself a king among the sons of Jesse.”

Yet, the seven sons of Jesse are all reviewed and none of them are the chosen one by God. No one volunteered that there was yet another. For some reason, none thought it important for David to be attending the sacrifices!

And yet…Samuel knew God’s word was true, he knew there must be another son of Jesse who was not at the sacrificial feast. And so he asked:

Are all the young men here?

Samuel was a prophet, and knew how to trust the word of the Lord given to him.

  • I would have said, “I guess the Lord was wrong when He told me it would be one of Jesse’s sons,” but he didn’t say that.
  • I might have said, “It has to be one of these seven sons, so pass them by me again,” but he didn’t say that.
  • Most probably I would have said, “I totally misunderstood the Lord. I’m reading way too much into my inner thoughts,” but he didn’t say that!

He had confidence in the word of the Lord!

We are getting a glimpse at the low regard David seems to have in his family. 
  • Jesse doesn’t even answer Samuel with David’s name, but simply says, “there remains the youngest.”
  • And how is it that one of the sons should be counted dispensable from the congregation of those offering sacrifices with that prophet of God Samuel? Why wasn’t David invited?
  • Would David had ever made it to see Samuel, if Samuel, hearing the word of God in his heart, did not insist that he be brought?

1 Samuel 13:14 describes David this way

The Lord has sought for Himself a man after His own heart, and the Lord had commanded him to be commander over His people.

God’s choice of David shows that

  • We don’t have to quit our jobs and enter into full-time ministry to be people after God’s own heart.
  • We don’t need to be famous or prominent to be people after God’s own heart.
  • We don’t need to be respected or even liked by others to be people after God’s own heart.
  • We don’t need status, influence, power, the respect or approval of men, or great responsibilities to be people after God’s own heart.

David did not have to manipulate his way into the palace or into Saul’s favor. He allowed the Lord to open the doors for him. David didn’t have to wonder, “Is this of the Lord or is of me?” because he let the Lord open the doors for him.

I fear manipulating things so much that I often neglect that which should be rightfully pursued.

Lord, grant discernment. Let me discover that beautiful balance between manipulation and total neglect.

And just a little excerpt from my all-time favorite preacher, Charles Spurgeon,

“David was none of your strutting peacocks who cannot be content unless all eyes are upon them; he sang God’s praises as the nightingale will sing in the dark when no human ear is listening and no eye is admiring. He was content to bloom unseen, knowing that the sweetness of a renewed heart is never wasted on the desert air. He was satisfied with God alone as his auditor, and he coveted not the high opinion of man.”

Full Obedience…Without Excuse

This chapter could very well be entitled Excuses, Excuses vol. 2

No matter how I may struggle with the command in the opening of our chapter today (1 Samuel 15), one thing we can all agree on….the command was clear!

utterly destroy all that they have and do not spare them

and if that were not enough

kill both man and woman, infant and nursing child, ox and sheep, camel and donkey

If there are any questions, it is not about what was said, but why it was said. Saul had the opportunity to be used by God to fulfill what was sworn by the Lord in the days of Moses in Exodus 17:14-16 and Deuteronomy 25:17-19.

The beginnings of the attack looked so good.

  • He shows an ability I wish I had, that of gathering and organizing a large number of people.
  • And a word not commonly associated with Saul in our previous accounts…he waited.
  • He even shows proper wisdom and mercy in letting the Kenites go, after all, God’s judgment and call was not upon them.
  • He even attacked the Amalekites, as the Lord commanded.

Such a good start, but…

He also took Agag king of the Amalekites alive…

But Saul and the people spared Agag AND

the best of the sheep, the oxen, the fatlings, the lambs, and all that was good and were unwilling to utterly destroy them

Saul and his men obeyed as far as suited them. They did not obey God at all then, but rather their own inclinations. Is it submission, to submit only when it accords with my will?

I am prepared to obey the Word of God up to a certain point. But just as soon as “the best and choicest” portion of my life begins to be touched, how often I draw the line and refuse further compliance. What a challenge!

Just because I experience no guilt or shame in my disobedience, but rather perhaps even a sense of pride for my chosen disobedience (enough pride to “set up a monument for himself”) does not clear me!

My lack of guilt perhaps just shows the my conscience needs an awakening and my heart needs a fresh touch from God. To disobey God and make a monument to honor it…I think I know what the looks like in my life ;-(

How blinding pride is. Saul probably really believed what he told Samuel

I have performed the commandment of the Lord

How often my own rationalization and upside down pride has led to blinding self-deception!

And another question from this claim of Saul’s…if true obedience had been exercised, would it have been so quick to boast of it?

Just as lies grow exponentially, even so Saul’s disobedience provokes him to yet more and more excuses.
1) He blames the people, not himself

they brought them…the people spared the best

2) He includes himself in the obedience

the rest we have utterly destroyed

3) He justifies what he has kept because of the quality

the best of…

4) He claims to have done it for spiritual reasons

to sacrifice to the Lord YOUR God

It all made perfect sense!

Even as Samuel gives yet another command “Be quiet!”
Saul must disobey again, and pridefully say “Speak on!”

Saul will indeed see the Amalekites again due to his disobedience now (2 Samuel 1:8-10)
If we don’t radically deal with that which troubles us, it may come back and kill us!

For Saul, it was all about the people! Whether he was blaming them or hungering to be revered in their sight. His image, in the minds of the people, became his god and idol.

Saul and Samuel lived a mere 10 miltes apart, but Saul did not seek the advice of his radical, godly friend, until the strange situation in 1 Samuel 28!

Lord Jesus, enliven my conscience, give me ears to hear, and a heart that fully obeys. I confess some of Your ways seem radical and illogical, but I desire to be a woman after Your own heart. Search me O God, and try me. See if there be any wicked way in me, and where there is…help me to utterly destroy it!

A Few Notes about the War
This was not to be a war for plunder but for the judgment of God against the terrible sin the Amalekites committed agains His people while they were the weakest and most vulnerable, without provocation. Deuteronomy 25:17-19; & Exodus 17

(How thankful I am that the Lord has the same jealousy for me, that He desires everyone of mine enemies [spiritually, mind you] be fully overcome)

God’s judgment is not about plunder or a time of happiness or joy. God brought it reluctantly, and even afforded nearly 400 years for Amalekites to repent, and yet all Israel, following their king’s lead, treated it as opportunity to ravage and benefit.

God still judges nations today (though not everything that happens is a judgment), but He does not use Christians to implement it.

For Christians, the Lord made it clear in John 18:36 that His kingdom was a spiritual kingdom, not a political or a military kingdom.

Just as Paul made it clear that the enemies of my soul and the Church are not material, but spiritual in Ephesians 6:12.

We do indeed want to win the world for Jesus, but by through the influence of individual lives being transformed by the love and power of Jesus Christ one at a time.

So read this story with Amalek representing the flesh. To spare Amalek is the equivalent of sparing some root of evil, some plausible indulgence, some favorite sin, for self-gratification.

The Great Swearer

Well, we find out that Saul was doing more than just “sitting under the pomegranate tree” in today’s reading of the rest of the chapter of 1 Samuel 14:24-52. He was busy making as if he was doing something…by being a great swearer!

Can’t you just picture him there in the middle of the corporate meeting with all the religious folks and what not, without a plan, and yet saying:

Cursed is the man who eats any food until evening, before I have taken vengeance on my enemies.

I mean verse 16 tells us the only reason Saul even goes out to meet his enemies, is because the watchmen were observing the results of what Jonathan had done.

On a day when God is routing the confused army, Saul had to get in there and put the emphasis on himself (and all in the name of spirituality…just a clue…we’ll be seeing this modus operandi from him again)

….until I have taken vengeance on my enemies.

Even in the midst of something and Godward as fasting should be, Saul manages to put the focus on himself, not the Lord!

Is Saul, by this curse he has placed on everyone, being manipulative and yet again robbing his son the credit due his name?

On a day when the morale of Israel should have been the highest and the physical energy of the men the strongest…the army was “distressed”, “fear”, “faint”, “troubled”, “very faint”, “sinning”. All because of Saul’s facade in the form of spiritual swearing.

An opportunity to partake of the goods from the land flowing with milk and honey by the hand of God on a day of victory…and yet!

Right in front of the eyes of the weary soldiers of Israel! They want the honey. They need the honey. God provided the honey. But a foolish, legalistic command from Saul kept it from them. How this must have discouraged and embittered the soldiers!

As a result of trying to adhere to Saul’s foolish legalistic command, the people were so hungry that they broke God’s clearly declared command (Deut 12:16, 23-25; Lev. 3:17; 17:10-14; 19:26; Gen. 9:4) in regards to the bleeding of the animals.

I certainly don’t want to excuse the people for their hand in this sin regarding the blood, but what about a little ownership from Saul regarding his provocation of it? Instead he wags his finger at them with a sneering “tsk, tsk, tsk” as it were

You people have dealt treacherously

When Saul consults the Lord, the Lord does not answer him.
So what would you do?
What would I do?

Saul, in his ever impatient self (are you listening Deborah?) takes matters into his own hands and makes yet another crazy oath:

For as the Lord lives, who saves Israel, though it be in Jonathan my son, he shall surely die

(I suppose he’s going to blame this oath on the Lord for being late, like he blamed chapter 13’s sin on Samuel for being late)

and again, he swears:

God do so and more also; for you shall surely die, Jonathan

Have ever so many “so-help-me-God, cross-my-heart-and-hope-to-die, stick-a-needle-in-my-eye” kind of promises been made in a single day?
And have so many of those “swearings” been so wrong?

Lord, Saul can keep his highly spiritual legalism, I pray that You will deliver me, and then preserve me from such a facade. I want the real Spirituality that comes from a relationship with You. That I may have patience to wait on Your answer rather than moving forward with holy-sounding ideas.

Also, I pray I may be like Jonathan, partaking from the sweet honey You have provided in Your Word and become strengthened by it to slaughter more of my sinful temptations, and enlightened by it to walk in the way of victory. You are so patient.

No More Excuses!

Today’s reading, if you follow the 3-Year Reading Plan along with St. Philip’s is 1 Samuel 14:1-23. And despite the stolen glory from yesterday’s exploits in chapter 13, Jonathan is still determined to free God’s people from the oppression of the Philistines.

So Jonathan makes what most would deem as a rash and foolish decision to confront the Philistines himself with his armor-bearer. It was not just social suicide (see Ruth 1) but physical suicide to boot!

And what can be said of his armor bearer? Two lessons immediately come to mind:

1) He had such implicit trust in Jonathan, that he was willing to risk his very life to follow him into this apparently definite losing situation.

I’m challenged by Jonathan’s assistant’s willingness to trust a man with his very life, and yet I hesitate to show that same kind of trust in God…with every aspect of my life. Do I have as much faith in God’s judgment and direction as the armor bearer did in Jonathan?

2) God was going to use Jonathan, but He wasn’t going to use Jonathan alone. Almost always, when God uses a person, He calls others around that person to support and help them. They are just as important in getting God’s work done as the person God uses.

So, if you can’t be a Jonathan, then find a Jonathan – and attach yourself to him as like Jonathan’s armor bearer. Be an encourager to the Jonathans around you!

Another irony of this story is

“Jonathan boldly goes over to the Philistine garrison”

while his father

“Saul was sitting under a pomegranate tree”

(I imagine him having a productive corporate meeting, I’m sure!)

Oh Lord, make me like Jonathan, “be up and be doing” rather than like the slothful man who talks himself to death.

It seems to me that Jonathan’s secrecy in going over to the enemy’s stronghold only confirms that he is not doing this out of personal glory to vindicate his name from yesterday’s chapter.

Looking at the situation, he probably realized if he had run it by his pop, Saul would have said “no” and given a million excuses why it is not the right path to take.

But Jonathan felt called, and entrusted his armor-bearer with his strategy. They were both 100% committed to the call of God for deliverance.

For nothing restrains the Lord from saving by many or by few:

What wise courage in God! I believe this as a theological truth. But do I believe it enough to do something? Or am I like Saul who did not engage in battle until it seemed like a “sure thing”. It seems he is so afraid to fail, that he didn’t want to do anything. Me too 😦

Then after God answered the sign to Jonathan, what must his heart have felt? The jubilation of it all! Or was it rather the temptation to quit or ignore the sign?

It was a steep long climb to get up to the Philistines, a perfectly good excuse not to go up (at least in my book!)

But Jonathan got on “his hands and knees and climbed!”

Lord help me to either be a Jonathan full of bold trust, or an armor-bearer who is willing to support those who valiantly go forward against all logic, rationalization and reason. And grant that just as both Jonathan and his assistant undertoke the hardship to get down on their hands and knees to climb, that I too would find myself empower by You to do likewise.