1758.) 1 Samuel 17

January 27, 2016

“David,” a 17-foot tall marble statue, was finished by Michelangelo (age 29!) in 1504 and now stands in the Galleria dell’Accademia in Florence, Italy.  Some viewers believe it shows David before his fight with Goliath, tense and ready for combat, his sling in his left hand.

1 Samuel 17   (NRSV)

David and Goliath

Now the Philistines gathered their armies for battle; they were gathered at Socoh, which belongs to Judah, and encamped between Socoh and Azekah, in Ephes-dammim. 2Saul and the Israelites gathered and encamped in the valley of Elah, and formed ranks against the Philistines. 3The Philistines stood on the mountain on the one side, and Israel stood on the mountain on the other side, with a valley between them.

4And there came out from the camp of the Philistines a champion named Goliath, of Gath, whose height was six cubits and a span (that is, between 8 and a half to 9 feet). 5He had a helmet of bronze on his head, and he was armed with a coat of mail; the weight of the coat was five thousand shekels of bronze. 6He had greaves of bronze on his legs and a javelin of bronze slung between his shoulders. 7The shaft of his spear was like a weaver’s beam, and his spear’s head weighed six hundred shekels of iron; and his shield-bearer went before him (that is, his armor and weapons weighed somewhere between 150 and 200 pounds).

I have read that the word champion comes to English from Old French by way of Latin and is related to the Hebrew word meaning “the middle man.” The idea is that this man stood between his army and the enemy’s army, and fought as a representative of his side. Of course, we usually remember the winners instead of the losers, so champion carries a victorious connotation.

8He stood and shouted to the ranks of Israel, “Why have you come out to draw up for battle? Am I not a Philistine, and are you not servants of Saul? Choose a man for yourselves, and let him come down to me. 9If he is able to fight with me and kill me, then we will be your servants; but if I prevail against him and kill him, then you shall be our servants and serve us.” 10And the Philistine said, “Today I defy the ranks of Israel! Give me a man, that we may fight together.” 11When Saul and all Israel heard these words of the Philistine, they were dismayed and greatly afraid.

DISADVANTAGE:  Saul is afraid. Yet Saul has won notable military victories. And we remember that Saul stands taller than any other Israelite — head and shoulders above the rest. Logically, this is his battle; he is the reasonable choice to stand up for Israel. But he is “dismayed and greatly afraid.”

12Now David was the son of an Ephrathite of Bethlehem in Judah, named Jesse, who had eight sons. In the days of Saul the man was already old and advanced in years. 13The three eldest sons of Jesse had followed Saul to the battle; the names of his three sons who went to the battle were Eliab the firstborn, and next to him Abinadab, and the third Shammah. 14David was the youngest; the three eldest followed Saul, 15but David went back and forth from Saul to feed his father’s sheep at Bethlehem.

16For forty days the Philistine came forward and took his stand, morning and evening.

1Sam17 40

Forty— days or years — is a number consistently used in Scripture for testing. Noah sat in the ark while it rained for 40 days. The Israelites wandered in the wilderness for 40 years. Jesus was tested by the devil after 40 days of fasting. Here Goliath mocks Israel and their God for 40 days.

17Jesse said to his son David, “Take for your brothers an ephah of this parched grain and these ten loaves, and carry them quickly to the camp to your brothers; 18also take these ten cheeses to the commander of their thousand. See how your brothers fare, and bring some token from them.” 19Now Saul, and they, and all the men of Israel, were in the valley of Elah, fighting with the Philistines.

20David rose early in the morning, left the sheep with a keeper, took the provisions, and went as Jesse had commanded him. He came to the encampment as the army was going forth to the battle line, shouting the war cry. 21Israel and the Philistines drew up for battle, army against army. 22David left the things in charge of the keeper of the baggage, ran to the ranks, and went and greeted his brothers. 23As he talked with them, the champion, the Philistine of Gath, Goliath by name, came up out of the ranks of the Philistines, and spoke the same words as before. And David heard him. 24All the Israelites, when they saw the man, fled from him and were very much afraid.

25The Israelites said, “Have you seen this man who has come up? Surely he has come up to defy Israel. The king will greatly enrich the man who kills him, and will give him his daughter and make his family free in Israel.”

26David said to the men who stood by him, “What shall be done for the man who kills this Philistine, and takes away the reproach from Israel? For who is this uncircumcised Philistine that he should defy the armies of the living God?”

The situation is desperate! Saul offers a bribe, as well as a bride and a tax exemption, to entice someone into fighting the giant! But David sees the battle in spiritual terms. We remember that in Acts, God calls David “a man after my own heart.”

27The people answered him in the same way, “So shall it be done for the man who kills him.”

28His eldest brother Eliab heard him talking to the men; and Eliab’s anger was kindled against David. He said, “Why have you come down? With whom have you left those few sheep in the wilderness? I know your presumption and the evil of your heart; for you have come down just to see the battle.”

29David said, “What have I done now? It was only a question.” 30He turned away from him toward another and spoke in the same way; and the people answered him again as before.

31When the words that David spoke were heard, they repeated them before Saul; and he sent for him.

1Sam17 lion

This is good news and bad news for King Saul. Good news:  finally someone is willing to fight the giant! Bad news:  it’s a kid!

32David said to Saul, “Let no one’s heart fail because of him; your servant will go and fight with this Philistine.”

1 Peter 1:13 (NIV)

Therefore, prepare your minds for action; be self-controlled; set your hope fully on the grace to be given you when Jesus Christ is revealed.

33Saul said to David, “You are not able to go against this Philistine to fight with him; for you are just a boy, and he has been a warrior from his youth.”

“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.”

— Charles Haddon Spurgeon

34But David said to Saul, “Your servant used to keep sheep for his father; and whenever a lion or a bear came, and took a lamb from the flock, 35I went after it and struck it down, rescuing the lamb from its mouth; and if it turned against me, I would catch it by the jaw, strike it down, and kill it. 36Your servant has killed both lions and bears; and this uncircumcised Philistine shall be like one of them, since he has defied the armies of the living God.” 37David said, “The Lord, who saved me from the paw of the lion and from the paw of the bear, will save me from the hand of this Philistine.

God had been preparing David, and now David understood that. Goliath is a dead man right now!!

So Saul said to David, “Go, and may the Lord be with you!”

2 Timothy 2:1 (Contemporary English Version)

My child, Christ Jesus is kind, and you must let him make you strong.

38Saul clothed David with his armor; he put a bronze helmet on his head and clothed him with a coat of mail. 39David strapped Saul’s sword over the armor, and he tried in vain to walk, for he was not used to them. Then David said to Saul, “I cannot walk with these; for I am not used to them.” So David removed them.

1Sam17 armor-of-God

David did not face Goliath unarmed. He had much better armor than Saul’s. Saul had a bronze helmet,  but David had the helmet of salvation (Ephesians 6:17). Saul had a coat of mail, but David had a breastplate of righteousness (Ephesians 6:14). Saul had a sword, but David had the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God (Ephesians 6:17). David had the whole armor of God! (Ephesians 6:11).

–David Guzik

40Then he took his staff in his hand, and chose five smooth stones from the wadi, and put them in his shepherd’s bag, in the pouch; his sling was in his hand, and he drew near to the Philistine.

Why did David choose five stones? He only needed one to kill Goliath. Perhaps it was because Goliath had four brothers (1 Samuel 21:18-22).

41The Philistine came on and drew near to David, with his shield-bearer in front of him. 42When the Philistine looked and saw David, he disdained him, for he was only a youth, ruddy and handsome in appearance. 43The Philistine said to David, “Am I a dog, that you come to me with sticks?” And the Philistine cursed David by his gods. 44The Philistine said to David, “Come to me, and I will give your flesh to the birds of the air and to the wild animals of the field.”

45But David said to the Philistine, “You come to me with sword and spear and javelin; but I come to you in the name of the Lord of hosts, the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defied. 46This very day the Lord will deliver you into my hand, and I will strike you down and cut off your head; and I will give the dead bodies of the Philistine army this very day to the birds of the air and to the wild animals of the earth, so that all the earth may know that there is a God in Israel, 47and that all this assembly may know that the Lord does not save by sword and spear; for the battle is the Lord’s and he will give you into our hand.”

48When the Philistine drew nearer to meet David, David ran quickly

“David ran” — so far was he from fear!

–from John Wesley’s Explanatory Notes

toward the battle line to meet the Philistine. 49David put his hand in his bag, took out a stone, slung it, and struck the Philistine on his forehead; the stone sank into his forehead, and he fell face down on the ground.

Ecclesiastes 3:5 (NASB)

There is  . . . a time to throw stones . . .

The Israelites thought:  Goliath is so big, I can’t fight him.
David thought:  Goliath is so big, I can’t miss him!

50So David prevailed over the Philistine with a sling and a stone, striking down the Philistine and killing him; there was no sword in David’s hand.

_________________________

Music:

Do you remember this song from your childhood?  HERE  is “Only a Boy Named David.”

_________________________

51Then David ran and stood over the Philistine; he grasped his sword, drew it out of its sheath, and killed him; then he cut off his head with it.

When the Philistines saw that their champion was dead, they fled. 52The troops of Israel and Judah rose up with a shout and pursued the Philistines as far as Gath and the gates of Ekron, so that the wounded Philistines fell on the way from Shaaraim as far as Gath and Ekron. 53The Israelites came back from chasing the Philistines, and they plundered their camp. 54David took the head of the Philistine and brought it to Jerusalem; but he put his armor in his tent.

David will use Goliath’s sword later.  But the giant’s head? — a hunting trophy on his living room wall?! At least one commentator has suggested that David had Goliath’s head pickled and eventually hung it in his banqueting hall!

55When Saul saw David go out against the Philistine, he said to Abner, the commander of the army, “Abner, whose son is this young man?”

Abner said, “As your soul lives, O king, I do not know.”

56The king said, “Inquire whose son the stripling is.”

57On David’s return from killing the Philistine, Abner took him and brought him before Saul, with the head of the Philistine in his hand.

“David,” by Caravaggio, 1607 (Kinsthistorisches Museum, Vienna, Austria)

58Saul said to him, “Whose son are you, young man?”

And David answered, “I am the son of your servant Jesse the Bethlehemite.”

_________________________

Music:

What impossible situations are in front of you, situations that call for victory?  Let this story  HERE  renew your faith!  Along with David, and Steve Green — “We Trust in the Name of the Lord our God.”

_________________________

The New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989 by the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Images courtesy of:
Michelangelo.    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Michelangelos_David.jpg
Valley of Elah.    http://www.generationword.com/images/israel_pictures/elah_valley/elah.jpg
champion.    http://www.montana.edu/wwwextec/images/champion.jpg
40.     http://kidmin1124.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/11/40.jpg
David kills a lion.   http://biblelessonsite.org/flash/images46/slides/p_0003.jpg
David throws a stone.    http://www.banklawyersblog.com/.a/6a00d8341c652b53ef015432d30cc9970c-800wi
Rally in the Valley.    http://churchrelevance.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/08/sermon-series-1-samuel.jpg
armor of God.   http://www.preschool-plan-it.com/images/armor-of-god.png
David and Goliath.    http://www.epilogue.net/art/9992-david-goliath
mounted animal head.    http://images.cabelas.com/is/image/cabelas/s7_614863_999_02
Caravaggio.    http://www.artrenewal.org/pages/artwork.php?artworkid=3860&size=large

1757.) Psalm 23

January 26, 2016

Ps23 lamb

Psalm 23 (New King James Version)

A Psalm of David.

A psalm about Jesus.

1 The LORD is my shepherd;
I shall not want.
2 He makes me to lie down in green pastures;
He leads me beside the still waters.
3 He restores my soul;
He leads me in the paths of righteousness
For His name’s sake.

4 Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
I will fear no evil;
For You are with me;
Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me.

5 You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies;
You anoint my head with oil;
My cup runs over.
6 Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me
All the days of my life;
And I will dwell in the house of the LORD
Forever.

_________________________

Music:

David never forgot his shepherd roots. And this psalm is surely one of the most familiar and most loved passages in all of Scripture.  HERE  is a beautiful musical arrangement of Psalm 23: “The Lord’s My Shepherd” sung in a Celtic rendition by Sheila Walsh.

The Lord’s my Shepherd, I’ll not want;
He makes me down to lie
In pastures green He leadeth me
The quiet waters by.

My soul He doth restore again
And me to walk doth make
Within the paths of righteousness,
E’en for His own name’s sake.

Yea, though I walk in darkness veiled,
Yet will I fear no ill;
For Thou art with me, and Thy rod
And staff me comfort still.

My table Thou hast furnished
In presence of my foes;
My head Thou dost with oil anoint,
And my cup overflows.

Goodness and mercy, all my life,
Shall surely follow me;
And in God’s house forevermore
My dwelling place shall be.

_________________________

Ps23 Lord

The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want.
Psalm 23:1

–from Daily Readings from Luther’s Writings
by Martin Luther, ed. by Barbara Owen

In this passage you hear that you lost sheep cannot find your way to the Shepherd yourself but can only roam around in the wilderness.  If Christ, your Shepherd, did not seek you and bring you back, you would simply have to fall prey to the wolf.

But now he comes, seeks, and finds you.  He takes you into His flock, that is, into Christendom, through the Word and Sacrament.  He gives His life for you, keeps you always on the right path, so that you may not fall into error.  You hear nothing at all about your powers, good works, and merits—unless you would say that it is strength, good works, and merit when you run around in the wilderness and are defenseless and lost.

No, Christ alone is active here, merits things, manifests His power; He seeks, carries, and directs you.  He earns life for you through His death.  He alone is strong and keeps you from perishing, from being snatched out of His hand.

And for all of this you can do nothing at all but only lend your ears, hear, and with thanksgiving receive the inexpressible treasure.  Learn to know well the voice of your Shepherd, follow Him and avoid the voice of the stranger.

.

The Lord is my shepherd — that’s RELATIONSHIP!

.

I shall not be in want — that’s SUPPLY!

.

He makes me lie down in green pastures — that’s REST!

.

He leads me beside quiet waters --- that's REFRESHMENT!

He leads me beside quiet waters — that’s REFRESHMENT!

.

He restores my soul — that’s HEALING!

.

He leads me in paths of righteousness — that’s GUIDANCE!

.

for his name's sake --- that's PURPOSE!

for his name’s sake — that’s PURPOSE!

.

Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death — that’s TESTING!

.

I will fear no evil --- that's PROTECTION!

I will fear no evil — that’s PROTECTION!

.

for you are with me --- that's FAITHFULNESS!

for you are with me — that’s FAITHFULNESS!

.

your rod and your staff, they comfort me — that’s DISCIPLINE!

.

You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies — that’s HOPE!

.

You anoint my head with oil — that’s CONSECRATION!

.

My cup overflows — that’s ABUNDANCE!

.

Surely goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life — that’s BLESSING!

.

and I will dwell in the house of the Lord — that’s SECURITY!

.

forever — that’s ETERNITY!

_________________________

New King James Version (NKJV) Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc.

Images courtesy of:
lamb on green grass.     http://betterphotojim.com/uploads/processed/0019/0412221635309crw_5335littlelamb_lordmy.jpg
Jesus holding a lamb.    http://bedlam1020.deviantart.com/art/The-Lord-is-my-shepherd-I-shall-not-want-470387879
father with daughter.     http://secondadventchristian.files.wordpress.com/2009/06/bigstockphoto_father_and_daughter_250481.jpg
fruit salad.    http://seasonedfork.com/wordpress/wp-content/uploads/2008/12/fruit-salad.jpg
green grass.    http://www.seekerstrove.com/i/email-art/psalm23/a_004.jpg
quiet waters.    https://c1.staticflickr.com/1/85/232221150_8c2d184661_b.jpg
path of righteousness.    http://www.turnbacktogod.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/03/right-path.jpg
one way.    http://www.cksignsplus.com/components/com_virtuemart/shop_image/product/One_Way_Jesus_4e82b87d9c797.jpg
ambulance.    http://todaysseniorsnetwork.com/Hospital,%20Ambulance,%20Emergency%20Room.jpg
lighthouse.   http://www.soulseeds.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/05/lighthouse-fog.jpg
skydiving.     http://archives.deccanchronicle.com/sites/default/files/mediaimages/gallery/2013/Jan/Skydiving.jpg
right way-wrong way.    http://itorganization2017.files.wordpress.com/2009/02/student_discipline_head_photo.jpg
dinner table.    http://peggyparks.files.wordpress.com/2009/04/dinnerpartyetiquette1.jpg
Holy Spirit dove.     https://curthreecurthrea.files.wordpress.com/2009/07/ruach-the-holy-spirit-descends-like-a-dove-upon-yehshua.jpg?w=470&h=311
overflow.     https://www.flickr.com/photos/vshioshvili/388221237
footprints in the sand.    http://www.magic-city-news.com/artman2/uploads/1/14_Blessing.JPG
infinity sign.    http://karpus.files.wordpress.com/2006/06/infinity-sign.jpg

1756.) 1 Samuel 16

January 25, 2016

“David and Saul” by Philippe Chery, 1808 (Musee de Soissons)

1 Samuel 16   (NRSV)

Samuel Anoints David

The Lord said to Samuel, “How long will you grieve over Saul? I have rejected him from being king over Israel. Fill your horn with oil and set out; I will send you to Jesse the Bethlehemite, for I have provided for myself a king among his sons.”

Jesse is the grandson of Ruth and Boaz.

2Samuel said, “How can I go? If Saul hears of it, he will kill me.”

And the Lord said, “Take a heifer with you, and say, ‘I have come to sacrifice to the Lord.’ 3Invite Jesse to the sacrifice, and I will show you what you shall do; and you shall anoint for me the one whom I name to you.”

4Samuel did what the Lord commanded, and came to Bethlehem. The elders of the city came to meet him trembling, and said, “Do you come peaceably?”

Considering what Samuel had just done with the Amalekite king, Agag (1 Samuel 15:33), it is no wonder the elders of Bethlehem were afraid.

5He said, “Peaceably; I have come to sacrifice to the Lord; sanctify yourselves and come with me to the sacrifice.” And he sanctified Jesse and his sons and invited them to the sacrifice.

When an animal was sacrificed to atone for sin none of it was eaten and it was all burned before the LORD. But when an animal was sacrificed as a peace offering, a fellowship offering, or a consecration offering, then part of the animal was burnt before the LORD, and part of it was eaten in a special ceremonial meal.

–David Guzik

Jesse presents his sons to Samuel — Lucile Butel, 1989

6When they came, he looked on Eliab and thought, “Surely the Lord’s anointed is now before the Lord.”

7But the Lord said to Samuel, “Do not look on his appearance or on the height of his stature, because I have rejected him; for the Lord does not see as mortals see; they look on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart.”

8Then Jesse called Abinadab, and made him pass before Samuel. He said, “Neither has the Lord chosen this one.” 9Then Jesse made Shammah pass by. And he said, “Neither has the Lord chosen this one.” 10Jesse made seven of his sons pass before Samuel, and Samuel said to Jesse, “The Lord has not chosen any of these.” 11Samuel said to Jesse, “Are all your sons here?”

And he said, “There remains yet the youngest, but he is keeping the sheep.”

The youngest one was out keeping the herd — Lucile Butel, 1989.

And Samuel said to Jesse, “Send and bring him; for we will not sit down until he comes here.” 12He sent and brought him in. Now he was ruddy, and had beautiful eyes, and was handsome.

How old was David?  The ancient Jewish historian Josephus says that David was ten years old.

The Lord said, “Rise and anoint him; for this is the one.”

David’s years keeping the sheep were not waiting time; they were training time. David was a great man and a great king over Israel because he never lost his shepherd’s heart. Psalm 78:70-72 speaks of the connection between David the king and David the shepherd: He also chose David His servant, and took him from the sheepfolds; from following the ewes that had young He brought him, to shepherd Jacob His people, and Israel His inheritance. So he shepherded them according to the integrity of his heart, and guided them by the skillfulness of his hands.

–David Guzik

13Then Samuel took the horn of oil, and anointed him in the presence of his brothers; and the spirit of the Lord came mightily upon David from that day forward.

Samuel anoints David — Lucile Butel, 1989.

Samuel then set out and went to Ramah.

David Plays the Lyre for Saul

14Now the spirit of the Lord departed from Saul, and an evil spirit from the Lord tormented him.

15And Saul’s servants said to him, “See now, an evil spirit from God is tormenting you. 16Let our lord now command the servants who attend you to look for someone who is skillful in playing the lyre; and when the evil spirit from God is upon you, he will play it, and you will feel better.”

17So Saul said to his servants, “Provide for me someone who can play well, and bring him to me.”

18One of the young men answered, “I have seen a son of Jesse the Bethlehemite who is skillful in playing, a man of valor, a warrior, prudent in speech, and a man of good presence; and the Lord is with him.”

19So Saul sent messengers to Jesse, and said, “Send me your son David who is with the sheep.” 20Jesse took a donkey loaded with bread, a skin of wine, and a kid, and sent them by his son David to Saul.

21And David came to Saul, and entered his service. Saul loved him greatly, and he became his armor-bearer.

This was an important time in David’s life and training for God’s destiny for him. For the first time he lived in a royal court and began to learn the customs and manners he needed to know to be a good king later in life.

22Saul sent to Jesse, saying, “Let David remain in my service, for he has found favor in my sight.”

Acts 13:22 (New Living Translation)

. . . David, a man about whom God said, ‘I have found David son of Jesse, a man after my own heart. He will do everything I want him to do.’

23And whenever the evil spirit from God came upon Saul, David took the lyre and played it with his hand, and Saul would be relieved and feel better, and the evil spirit would depart from him.

from Daily Readings from Luther’s Writings,
edited by Barbara Owen

Next to the Word of God, music deserves the highest praise.  She is a mistress and governess of those human emotions which, as masters, govern mortals or more often overwhelm them.  No greater commendation than this can be found—at least not by us.  For whether you wish to comfort the sad, to terrify the happy, to encourage the despairing, to humble the proud, to calm the passionate, or to appease those full of hate—and who could number all the masters of the human heart, namely, the emotions, inclinations, and affections that impel people to evil or good?—what more effective means than music could you find?

The Holy Ghost himself honors music as an instrument for his proper work when in his Holy Scriptures he asserts that through her his gifts were instilled in the prophets, namely, the inclination to all virtues, as can be seen in Elisha (2 Kings 3:15).  On the other hand, she serves to cast out Satan, the instigator of all sins, as is shown in Saul, the king of Israel (1 Samuel 16:23).

_________________________

Music:

Close your eyes and imagine you are King Saul, feeling pretty upset.  You call in young David, who plays this song  HERE  for you on his harp.  Such a soothing sound. . . the demons seem to fade away.  And if he sings the words, they go like this:

The King of love my shepherd is,
Whose goodness faileth never;
I nothing lack if I am his
And he is mine forever.

Where streams of living water flow,
My ransomed soul he leadeth
And, where the verdant pastures grow,
With food celestial feedeth.

Perverse and foolish oft I strayed,
But yet in love he sought me
And on his shoulder gently laid
And home rejoicing brought me.

In death’s dark vale I fear no ill
With thee, dear Lord, beside me,
Thy rod and staff my comfort still,
Thy cross before to guide me.

Thou spredst a table in my sight;
Thine unction grace bestoweth;
And, oh, what transport of delight
From thy pure chalice floweth!

And so through all the length of days
Thy goodness faileth never.
Good Shepherd, may I sing thy praise
Within thy house forever.

Performed on the harp by Ray Pool.

_________________________

The New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989 by the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Images courtesy of:
Chery.    http://www.culture.gouv.fr/Wave/image/joconde/0379/m079404_00304_p.jpg
Butel:  Jesse presents his sons.     http://www.artbible.net/1T/1sa1601_David_king/images/20%20BUTEL%201%20JESSE%20FIT%20DEFILER%20SES%20ENFANTS%20DEVANT.jpg
Butel:  youngest one keeping the herd.     http://www.artbible.net/1T/1sa1601_David_king/images/20%20BUTEL%202%20IL%20MANQUE%20LE%20PLUS%20JEUNE%20QUI%20GARDE%20LE.jpg
Butel:  Samuel anoints David.     http://www.artbible.net/1T/1sa1601_David_king/images/20%20BUTEL%203%20ALORS%20SAMUEL%20OIGNIT%20DAVID.jpg
David under the stars.     https://dwellingintheword.files.wordpress.com/2010/09/16-david-harp-stars.jpg
King David playing the harp — church window from Fringford, UK.    http://previews.123rf.com/images/hospitalera/hospitalera0709/hospitalera070900039/1622401-detail-of-victorian-stained-glass-church-window-in-Fringford-depicting-King-David-the-author-fo-the–Stock-Photo.jpg
piano keys.    http://ted.coe.wayne.edu/sse/wq/Thweatt/PianoKeys.jpg

1755.) 1 Samuel 15

January 22, 2016
"All kings is mostly rapscallions." --The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, by Mark Twain.

“All kings is mostly rapscallions.” –The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, by Mark Twain.

1 Samuel 15   (NRSV)

Saul Defeats the Amalekites but Spares Their King

Samuel said to Saul, “The Lord sent me to anoint you king over his people Israel; now therefore listen to the words of the Lord. 2Thus says the Lord of hosts, ‘I will punish the Amalekites for what they did in opposing the Israelites when they came up out of Egypt. 3Now go and attack Amalek, and utterly destroy all that they have; do not spare them, but kill both man and woman, child and infant, ox and sheep, camel and donkey.’”

Think that command is clear enough?  Anything Saul couldn’t understand?

4So Saul summoned the people, and numbered them in Telaim, two hundred thousand foot soldiers, and ten thousand soldiers of Judah. 5Saul came to the city of the Amalekites and lay in wait in the valley. 6Saul said to the Kenites, “Go! Leave! Withdraw from among the Amalekites, or I will destroy you with them; for you showed kindness to all the people of Israel when they came up out of Egypt.” So the Kenites withdrew from the Amalekites.

7Saul defeated the Amalekites, from Havilah as far as Shur, which is east of Egypt. 8He took King Agag of the Amalekites alive, but utterly destroyed all the people with the edge of the sword. 9Saul and the people spared Agag, and the best of the sheep and of the cattle and of the fatlings, and the lambs, and all that was valuable, and would not utterly destroy them; all that was despised and worthless they utterly destroyed.

But it seems that Saul thought he knew better than God what to save and what to destroy.

Saul Rejected as King

10The word of the Lord came to Samuel: 11“I regret that I made Saul king, for he has turned back from following me, and has not carried out my commands.” Samuel was angry; and he cried out to the Lord all night.

12Samuel rose early in the morning to meet Saul, and Samuel was told, “Saul went to Carmel, where he set up a monument for himself, and on returning he passed on down to Gilgal.”

13When Samuel came to Saul, Saul said to him, “May you be blessed by the Lord; I have carried out the command of the Lord.”

14But Samuel said, “What then is this bleating of sheep in my ears, and the lowing of cattle that I hear?”

Saul is BUSTED!! — Samuel hears and sees (and probably smells) Saul’s disobedience.

15Saul said, “They have brought them from the Amalekites; for the people spared the best of the sheep and the cattle, to sacrifice to the Lord your God; but the rest we have utterly destroyed.”

As it turned out, not even this was true. There were still Amalekites left alive. David later had to deal with the Amalekites (1 Samuel 27:8, 30:1, 2 Samuel 8:12). Haman, the evil man who tried to wipe out all the Jewish people in the days of Esther, was a descendant of Agag (Esther 3:1). Most ironic of all, when Saul was killed on the field of battle, an Amalekite claimed to deliver the final thrust of the sword (2 Samuel 1:8-10). When we don’t obey God completely, the “left over” portion will surely come back and trouble us, if not kill us.

–David Guzik

16Then Samuel said to Saul, “Stop! I will tell you what the Lord said to me last night.”

He replied, “Speak.”

17Samuel said, “Though you are little in your own eyes, are you not the head of the tribes of Israel? The Lord anointed you king over Israel. 18And the Lord sent you on a mission, and said, ‘Go, utterly destroy the sinners, the Amalekites, and fight against them until they are consumed.’ 19Why then did you not obey the voice of the Lord? Why did you swoop down on the spoil, and do what was evil in the sight of the Lord?”

20Saul said to Samuel, “I have obeyed the voice of the Lord, I have gone on the mission on which the Lord sent me, I have brought Agag the king of Amalek, and I have utterly destroyed the Amalekites. 21But from the spoil the people took sheep and cattle, the best of the things devoted to destruction, to sacrifice to the Lord your God in Gilgal.”

Poor Saul. He is living in his own world of self-deception. He tells Samuel “I have obeyed the Lord” and then goes on to explain how he did NOT obey the Lord!

22And Samuel said,
“Has the Lord as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices,
as in obeying the voice of the Lord?
Surely, to obey is better than sacrifice,
and to heed than the fat of rams.
23For rebellion is no less a sin than divination,
and stubbornness is like iniquity and idolatry.
Because you have rejected the word of the Lord,
he has also rejected you from being king.”

Saul is REJECTED!! — God will find another man to rule his people.

24Saul said to Samuel, “I have sinned; for I have transgressed the commandment of the Lord and your words, because I feared the people and obeyed their voice.

It’s not really my fault, Samuel!  I was just doing what the people wanted!

“This was the best excuse he could make for himself, but had he feared GOD more, he could have feared the PEOPLE less.”
–Adam Clarke

25Now therefore, I pray, pardon my sin, and return with me, so that I may worship the Lord.”

26Samuel said to Saul, “I will not return with you; for you have rejected the word of the Lord, and the Lord has rejected you from being king over Israel.”

But it will be over 20 years before God has finished training the new king to take the throne.

27As Samuel turned to go away, Saul caught hold of the hem of his robe, and it tore. 28And Samuel said to him, “The Lord has torn the kingdom of Israel from you this very day, and has given it to a neighbor of yours, who is better than you. 29Moreover the Glory of Israel will not recant or change his mind; for he is not a mortal, that he should change his mind.”

30Then Saul said, “I have sinned; yet honor me now before the elders of my people and before Israel, and return with me, so that I may worship the Lord your God.”

Here is Saul’s real problem:   his honor before others is of more importance to him than his obedience to God.

31So Samuel turned back after Saul; and Saul worshiped the Lord.

32Then Samuel said, “Bring Agag king of the Amalekites here to me.”

Watch the old prophet take care of unfinished business!

And Agag came to him haltingly. Agag said, “Surely this is the bitterness of death.”

33But Samuel said,
“As your sword has made women childless,
so your mother shall be childless among women.”

And Samuel hewed Agag in pieces before the Lord in Gilgal.

Not that Samuel ever butchered a pig — or like this —

All those priestly sacrifices had taught Samuel very well how to kill and butcher a living animal.  He did it in front of the Israelites, and in front of Saul, for their instruction — but more importantly, he did it before the Lord as obedience.

34Then Samuel went to Ramah; and Saul went up to his house in Gibeah of Saul. 35Samuel did not see Saul again until the day of his death, but Samuel grieved over Saul. And the Lord was sorry that he had made Saul king over Israel.

_________________________

Music:

Martin Luther said, “I had rather be obedient, than able to work miracles.”

HERE  is a kind of modern-day prophet:  Keith Green (1953-1982) in a live performance of “To Obey Is Better Than Sacrifice.”

_________________________

The New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989 by the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Images courtesy of:
king of spades card.    https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/9/9b/Poker-sm-212-Ks.png
rejected.   http://media.photobucket.com/image/rejected%20stamp/FrostbiteInWinter/rejected.gif
excuses.    http://www.bariatriccookery.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/07/excuses.gif
pig in an Okinawa butcher shop.    http://everystockphoto.s3.amazonaws.com/pork_meat_butcher_674827_l.jpg

1754.) 1 Samuel 14

January 21, 2016

Jonathan and his armor-bearer attack the Philistines — unknown artist, 1928.

1 Samuel 14   (NRSV)

Jonathan Surprises and Routs the Philistines

Now a garrison of the Philistines had gone out to the pass of Michmash.

One day Jonathan son of Saul said to the young man who carried his armor, “Come, let us go over to the Philistine garrison on the other side.” But he did not tell his father.

“Armor-bearers in ancient times had to be unusually brave and loyal, since the lives of their masters often depended on them.”

–Ronald F. Youngblood

2Saul was staying in the outskirts of Gibeah under the pomegranate tree that is at Migron; the troops that were with him were about six hundred men, 3along with Ahijah son of Ahitub, Ichabod’s brother, son of Phinehas son of Eli, the priest of the Lord in Shiloh, carrying an ephod. Now the people did not know that Jonathan had gone.

Frankly, this chapter does not present Saul in an altogether flattering light.  King Saul is lolling under a fruit tree while his son Jonathan goes out to fight the enemy.  As per Shakespeare, “Something is rotten in the state of Denmark.”

4In the pass, by which Jonathan tried to go over to the Philistine garrison, there was a rocky crag on one side and a rocky crag on the other; the name of the one was Bozez, and the name of the other Seneh. 5One crag rose on the north in front of Michmash, and the other on the south in front of Geba.

6Jonathan said to the young man who carried his armor, “Come, let us go over to the garrison of these uncircumcised; it may be that the Lord will act for us; for nothing can hinder the Lord from saving by many or by few.”

Jonathan never read the New Testament, but he had a Romans 8:31 heart: If God is for us, who can be against us?

7His armor-bearer said to him, “Do all that your mind inclines to. I am with you; as your mind is, so is mine.”

The encouragement of a friend! 

8Then Jonathan said, “Now we will cross over to those men and will show ourselves to them. 9If they say to us, ‘Wait until we come to you,’ then we will stand still in our place, and we will not go up to them. 10But if they say, ‘Come up to us,’ then we will go up; for the Lord has given them into our hand. That will be the sign for us.”

11So both of them showed themselves to the garrison of the Philistines; and the Philistines said, “Look, Hebrews are coming out of the holes where they have hidden themselves.” 12The men of the garrison hailed Jonathan and his armor-bearer, saying, “Come up to us, and we will show you something.”

At this time of crisis the Israelites hid anywhere they could (1 Samuel 13:6). It was reasonable for the Philistines to think these were Hebrew deserters surrendering to the Philistines because they thought it was better than hiding in a hole. But really, their words were giving Jonathan the go-ahead!

Jonathan said to his armor-bearer, “Come up after me; for the Lord has given them into the hand of Israel.”

13Then Jonathan climbed up on his hands and feet, with his armor-bearer following after him. The Philistines fell before Jonathan, and his armor-bearer, coming after him, killed them. 14In that first slaughter Jonathan and his armor-bearer killed about twenty men within an area about half a furrow long in an acre of land. 15There was a panic in the camp, in the field, and among all the people; the garrison and even the raiders trembled; the earth quaked; and it became a very great panic.

Jonathan is not willing to simply hang around while God was perfectly able to defeat the Philistines!  He and his armor-bearer bravely went forward in the name of the Lord and oh, look!  The enemy army panicked and God sent an earthquake!  Thank you, Jonathan!  You have illustrated perfectly the truth of 2 Chronicles 16:9

For the eyes of the LORD run to and fro throughout the whole earth, to give strong support to those whose heart is blameless toward him.

_______________

The Sunday before David and I left Orlando and moved to St. Simons Island, GA, we went to service at First Baptist Church and heard this sermon by Ben Mandrell, based on this story of Jonathan’s bravery. It was such an encouragement to us! We were not Ben’s intended audience, but the Holy Spirit gave it to us, for courage and inspiration. You might enjoy it too.  HERE is Ben Mandrell (currently Lead Pastor of Storyline Fellowship, Arvada, CO) and “Becoming a Brave Heart.”

16Saul’s lookouts in Gibeah of Benjamin were watching as the multitude was surging back and forth. 17Then Saul said to the troops that were with him, “Call the roll and see who has gone from us.”

Whatever for?!  Just go fight the enemy!

When they had called the roll, Jonathan and his armor-bearer were not there.

18Saul said to Ahijah, “Bring the ark of God here.”

Whatever for?!  Just go fight the enemy!

For at that time the ark of God went with the Israelites. 19While Saul was talking to the priest, the tumult in the camp of the Philistines increased more and more; and Saul said to the priest, “Withdraw your hand.”

20Then Saul and all the people who were with him rallied and went into the battle;

At last!

and every sword was against the other, so that there was very great confusion. 21Now the Hebrews who previously had been with the Philistines and had gone up with them into the camp turned and joined the Israelites who were with Saul and Jonathan. 22Likewise, when all the Israelites who had gone into hiding in the hill country of Ephraim heard that the Philistines were fleeing, they too followed closely after them in the battle. 23So the Lord gave Israel the victory that day. The battle passed beyond Beth-aven, and the troops with Saul numbered altogether about ten thousand men. The battle spread out over the hill country of Ephraim.

_________________________

Music:

“Let God Arise”  by Chris Tomlin.  HERE  is a song of victory!

_________________________

Saul’s Rash Oath

24Now Saul committed a very rash act on that day. He had laid an oath on the troops, saying, “Cursed be anyone who eats food before it is evening and I have been avenged on my enemies.” So none of the troops tasted food.

honeycomb

Oh, Saul, stop and think!

Denying troops food?  They will get hungry and weak.  They will disobey and eat something else — in this case, something against God’s food laws for them.  And if one of the troops who eats food is his son — well, will we have another Jephthah on our hands, sacrificing a child for an unwise vow?

25All the troops came upon a honeycomb; and there was honey on the ground. 26When the troops came upon the honeycomb, the honey was dripping out; but they did not put their hands to their mouths, for they feared the oath. 27But Jonathan had not heard his father charge the troops with the oath; so he extended the staff that was in his hand, and dipped the tip of it in the honeycomb, and put his hand to his mouth; and his eyes brightened. 28Then one of the soldiers said, “Your father strictly charged the troops with an oath, saying, ‘Cursed be anyone who eats food this day.’ And so the troops are faint.”

29Then Jonathan said, “My father has troubled the land; see how my eyes have brightened because I tasted a little of this honey. 30How much better if today the troops had eaten freely of the spoil taken from their enemies; for now the slaughter among the Philistines has not been great.”

31After they had struck down the Philistines that day from Michmash to Aijalon, the troops were very faint; 32so the troops flew upon the spoil, and took sheep and oxen and calves, and slaughtered them on the ground; and the troops ate them with the blood. 33Then it was reported to Saul, “Look, the troops are sinning against the Lord by eating with the blood.”

The Lord said to Moses, “You must not eat the blood of any bird or animal . . . ”   –Leviticus 7:26

And he said, “You have dealt treacherously;

Saul blames the others instead of acknowledging that he had made a mistake with that curse.

roll a large stone before me here.” 34Saul said, “Disperse yourselves among the troops, and say to them, ‘Let all bring their oxen or their sheep, and slaughter them here, and eat; and do not sin against the Lord by eating with the blood.’”

So all of the troops brought their oxen with them that night, and slaughtered them there. 35And Saul built an altar to the Lord; it was the first altar that he built to the Lord.

Jonathan in Danger of Death

36Then Saul said, “Let us go down after the Philistines by night and despoil them until the morning light; let us not leave one of them.”

They said, “Do whatever seems good to you.”

But the priest said, “Let us draw near to God here.”

37So Saul inquired of God, “Shall I go down after the Philistines? Will you give them into the hand of Israel?” But he did not answer him that day.

38Saul said, “Come here, all you leaders of the people; and let us find out how this sin has arisen today. 39For as the Lord lives who saves Israel, even if it is in my son Jonathan, he shall surely die!” But there was no one among all the people who answered him.

Of course not!  No one is blaming Jonathan, who was unaware of the command!

40He said to all Israel, “You shall be on one side, and I and my son Jonathan will be on the other side.”

The people said to Saul, “Do what seems good to you.”

41Then Saul said, “O Lord God of Israel, why have you not answered your servant today? If this guilt is in me or in my son Jonathan, O Lord God of Israel, give Urim; but if this guilt is in your people Israel, give Thummim.” And Jonathan and Saul were indicated by the lot, but the people were cleared. 42Then Saul said, “Cast the lot between me and my son Jonathan.” And Jonathan was taken.

43Then Saul said to Jonathan, “Tell me what you have done.”

Jonathan told him, “I tasted a little honey with the tip of the staff that was in my hand; here I am, I will die.”

44Saul said, “God do so to me and more also; you shall surely die, Jonathan!”

45Then the people said to Saul, “Shall Jonathan die, who has accomplished this great victory in Israel? Far from it! As the Lord lives, not one hair of his head shall fall to the ground; for he has worked with God today.” So the people ransomed Jonathan, and he did not die. 46Then Saul withdrew from pursuing the Philistines; and the Philistines went to their own place.

Should Jonathan have been killed?  No!  Saul made a foolish vow, one that weakened his army and dishonored the Lord; it was a bad law.  And Jonathan broke it out of ignorance.  Besides, the Lord’s favor was clearly on Jonathan, since he was in effect the leader of the victory!

Saul’s Continuing Wars

47When Saul had taken the kingship over Israel, he fought against all his enemies on every side—against Moab, against the Ammonites, against Edom, against the kings of Zobah, and against the Philistines; wherever he turned he routed them. 48He did valiantly, and struck down the Amalekites, and rescued Israel out of the hands of those who plundered them.

49Now the sons of Saul were Jonathan, Ishvi, and Malchishua; and the names of his two daughters were these: the name of the firstborn was Merab, and the name of the younger, Michal. 50The name of Saul’s wife was Ahinoam daughter of Ahimaaz. And the name of the commander of his army was Abner son of Ner, Saul’s uncle; 51Kish was the father of Saul, and Ner the father of Abner was the son of Abiel.

52There was hard fighting against the Philistines all the days of Saul; and when Saul saw any strong or valiant warrior, he took him into his service.

Remember what Samuel had told the people when they demanded a king?  In chapter 8, he said that the king would “take your sons and make them serve with chariots and horses . . . others will make weapons of war and equipments for his chariots . . .”

_________________________

The New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989 by the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Images courtesy of:
Jonathan and his armor-bearer.   https://i.ytimg.com/vi/Rxglamckn-4/hqdefault.jpg
pomegranate tree.    https://dwellingintheword.files.wordpress.com/2010/09/14-pomegranate-tree.jpg
honeycomb.    http://blogs.seattleweekly.com/voracious/honeycomb2.jpg
bloody steak.    http://media.photobucket.com/image/bloody%20steak/iamrad123/stuff%2520i%2520like/bloodySteak.jpg

1753.) 1 Samuel 13

January 20, 2016

A lesson today for all of us who are feeling pressured . . . to do something, anything . . .

1 Samuel 13   (NRSV)

Saul’s Unlawful Sacrifice

Saul was…years old when he began to reign; and he reigned…and two years over Israel.

The numbers are lacking in the Hebrew texts; NIV has that Saul was 30 years old and reigned 42 years. The ESV puts it this way: Saul lived for one year and then became king, and when he had reigned for two years over Israel . . . 

2Saul chose three thousand out of Israel; two thousand were with Saul in Michmash and the hill country of Bethel, and a thousand were with Jonathan in Gibeah of Benjamin; the rest of the people he sent home to their tents.

Jonathan.  What’s not to love about brave and kind-hearted Jonathan?  Let’s watch him these next chapters.

3Jonathan defeated the garrison of the Philistines that was at Geba; and the Philistines heard of it. And Saul blew the trumpet throughout all the land, saying, “Let the Hebrews hear!” 4When all Israel heard that Saul had defeated the garrison of the Philistines, and also that Israel had become odious to the Philistines, the people were called out to join Saul at Gilgal.

Jonathan’s gracious soul — he had won the battle, but he allows his father to take the credit.

5The Philistines mustered to fight with Israel, thirty thousand chariots, and six thousand horsemen, and troops like the sand on the seashore in multitude; they came up and encamped at Michmash, to the east of Beth-aven. 6When the Israelites saw that they were in distress (for the troops were hard pressed), the people hid themselves in caves and in holes and in rocks and in tombs and in cisterns. 7Some Hebrews crossed the Jordan to the land of Gad and Gilead. Saul was still at Gilgal, and all the people followed him trembling.

Probably many of them had previously thought, “What we really need is a king. A king would solve our problems.” Now they have a king and the problems are still there. We often think things will “fix” problems when they won’t at all. “And hereby God intended to teach them the vanity of all carnal confidence in men; and that they did not one jot less need the help and favour of God now than they did before, when they had no king.” (Poole)

–David Guzik

8He waited seven days, the time appointed by Samuel; but Samuel did not come to Gilgal, and the people began to slip away from Saul. 9So Saul said, “Bring the burnt offering here to me, and the offerings of well-being.” And he offered the burnt offering.

Oh, no!  This is not Saul’s place!  He is not a priest!  He was told to wait for Samuel!

10As soon as he had finished offering the burnt offering, Samuel arrived; and Saul went out to meet him and salute him.

11Samuel said, “What have you done?”

Saul is BUSTED!! — Samuel could smell his disobedience!

Saul replied, “When I saw that the people were slipping away from me, and that you did not come within the days appointed, and that the Philistines were mustering at Michmash, 12I said, ‘Now the Philistines will come down upon me at Gilgal, and I have not entreated the favor of the Lord’; so I forced myself, and offered the burnt offering.”

Saul has plenty of excuses!

  1. I had to do something — the troops were starting to disburse. And we are already outnumbered!
  2. You did not come when you said you would — it’s partly your fault!
  3. The Philistines were ready for battle — I couldn’t wait any longer!
  4. We need God’s help against the Philistines — and we need it now!

13Samuel said to Saul, “You have done foolishly; you have not kept the commandment of the Lord your God, which he commanded you. The Lord would have established your kingdom over Israel forever, 14but now your kingdom will not continue; the Lord has sought out a man after his own heart; and the Lord has appointed him to be ruler over his people, because you have not kept what the Lord commanded you.”

Saul is REJECTED!! — Jonathan will not be king after Saul. Saul would actually reign another 20 years but it will never be the same, because the end of his kingdom is certain.

Saul was a man after Israel’s heart. He was all about image, prestige, and the things men look at. But God will now give Israel a man after His own heart, and raise that man up to be the next king. It would be easy to say that the kingdom was taken from Saul because he sinned and on one level, that was true; but it was more than that. David also sinned yet God never took the kingdom from David and his descendants. The issue was bigger than an incident of sin; the issue was being a man after God’s own heart.

So let’s look at Saul, someone who was not a man after God’s heart, and David, a man who was a man after God’s own heart.

  • A man after God’s heart honors the LORD. Saul was more concerned with his will than God’s will. David knew God’s will was most important. Even when David didn’t do God’s will, he still knew God’s will was more important. All sin is a disregard of God, but David sinned more out of weakness and Saul more out of a disregard for God.
  • A man after God’s heart enthrones God as king. For Saul, Saul was king. For David, the LORD God was king. Both David and Saul knew sacrifice before battle was important. But David thought it was important because it pleased and honored God. Saul thought it was important because it might help him win the battle. Saul thought God would help him achieve his goals. David thought that God was the goal.
  • A man after God’s heart has a soft, repentant heart. When Saul was confronted with his sin he offered excuses. When David was confronted with his sin he confessed his sin and repented (2 Samuel 12:13).
  • A man after God’s heart loves other people. Saul became increasingly bitter against people and lived more and more unto himself, but David loved people. When David was down and out he still loved and served those who were even more down and out (1 Samuel 22:1-2).

–David Guzik

15And Samuel left and went on his way from Gilgal.

ONE MINUTE BEFORE MIDNIGHT

We see in 1 Samuel 13 that Saul faced a crucial moment that every believer must eventually confront. It is a time of crisis when we’re forced to decide whether we’ll wait on God by faith, or get impatient and take matters into our own hands.

Saul’s pivotal moment came when ominous clouds of war were gathering over Israel. The Philistines had amassed a huge army of horsemen, iron chariots and legions of soldiers brandishing the latest weapons. By contrast, the Israelites had only two swords in their entire army—one for Saul and one for his son, Jonathan. Everyone else had to use makeshift weapons, such as wooden spears or crude farm tools.

A week earlier Samuel had warned Saul to wait for him at Gilgal before going into battle. The prophet had said he would arrive after seven days to make the proper sacrifices to the Lord.

When the seventh day came and Samuel hadn’t arrived, Saul’s soldiers began to scatter. Worse, the king didn’t have God’s direction for battle.

What approach did Saul take? Did he stand firm, declaring, “I don’t care if it takes Samuel eight days to arrive, I’m going to stand on God’s Word to me. Live or die, I will obey his command”? No—Saul panicked. He allowed himself to be overwhelmed by his circumstances. And he ended up manipulating his way around God’s Word. He ordered the priest who was present to make the sacrifices without Samuel and in so doing committed a grievous sin against the Lord.

No—God is never too late. All along, the Lord knew each step Samuel was taking toward Gilgal. He had set the prophet on a heavenly navigation system, pinpointing his arrival to the very second. Samuel would be there by day seven, even if it was one minute before midnight.

God has not changed throughout the ages. And he is still concerned with whether his people obey this command: “Obey the voice of the Lord, and [do not] rebel against the commandment of the Lord” (1 Samuel 12:15, paraphrased). It doesn’t matter if our lives are spinning out of control—we are to walk in total confidence in the Lord. Even if things look hopeless, we are not to act in fear. Rather, we are to wait patiently on him to deliver us, as his Word promises.

The fact is, God stood right beside Saul as the massive Philistine army pressed in. He knew the crisis Saul was in and his eye was on every detail.

Our God sees every detail of your crisis. He sees all the life-problems pressing in on you. And he’s fully aware your situation is getting worse daily. Those who pray and wait on him with calm faith are never in any real danger. Moreover, he knows all your panicky thoughts: “I don’t see how I can ever repay this debt…I don’t have any hope for my marriage…I don’t know how I can keep my job….” Yet his command to you still holds true: “Don’t panic or get ahead of me. You are to do nothing but pray—and rely on me. I honor everyone who puts his trust in me.”

Consider these words God has given to his church:  “Without faith it is impossible to please him” (Hebrews 11:6). “Trust in him at all times; ye people, pour out your heart before him: God is a refuge for us” (Psalm 62:8). “Ye that fear the Lord, trust in the Lord: he is their help and their shield” (Psalm 115:11). “Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths” (Proverbs 3:5–6).

Unbelief is deadly, its consequences tragic. And we face dire consequences if we try to extricate ourselves from our trials instead of trusting God to see us through them.

–David Wilkerson

_________________________

Music:

HERE  Donnie McClurkin and Karen Clark Sheard sing “Wait on the Lord.”

Sometimes in life you’ll find that
You get in a hurry
But when you have assurance
No need to worry

You can wait, wait, wait on the Lord and you’ll see
He always keeps his word
Must, just, trust in Him
Don’t be dismayed

Patience in time of trouble,
Trust and believe Him
And everything God promised
you will receive it

If you wait, wait, wait on the Lord
And you’ll see that He
He’ll always keep His word.
Must, just trust in Him
Don’t be dismayed

Trust in the word of God
For His word is true
When did He promise anything in your life
That He would not do.

Trust and depend on Him
He’s always on time
Don’t be discouraged
If you just believe, you will receive it

If you wait, wait, wait on the Lord
And you’ll see He’ll
He will keep his word

Must, just, trust in Him
Don’t you be dismayed

If you wait, wait, wait on the Lord
And you’ll see
He will always come through
Must, just, trust in Him
He will keep His word

Don’t be discouraged
Don’t you be dismayed
Hold on to his promises

Wait on the Lord
Be of good courage
And He will strengthen your heart

Wait, wait, wait on God
Wait upon the Lord
He shall renew your strength

I will wait, wait, wait on Him

_________________________

Preparations for Battle

The rest of the people followed Saul to join the army; they went up from Gilgal toward Gibeah of Benjamin. Saul counted the people who were present with him, about six hundred men. 16Saul, his son Jonathan, and the people who were present with them stayed in Geba of Benjamin; but the Philistines encamped at Michmash. 17And raiders came out of the camp of the Philistines in three companies; one company turned toward Ophrah, to the land of Shual, 18another company turned toward Beth-horon, and another company turned toward the mountain that looks down upon the valley of Zeboim toward the wilderness.

19Now there was no smith to be found throughout all the land of Israel; for the Philistines said, “The Hebrews must not make swords or spears for themselves”; 20so all the Israelites went down to the Philistines to sharpen their plowshare, mattocks, axes, or sickles; 21The charge was two-thirds of a shekel for the plowshares and for the mattocks, and one-third of a shekel for sharpening the axes and for setting the goads.

The Philistines carefully guarded their technological advantage of iron weapons. They were sea farers and may have gained their metal working skills from cultures to the west, especially Greece.

The Philistines carefully guarded their technological advantage of iron weapons. They were sea farers and may have gained their metal working skills from cultures to the west, especially Greece.

22So on the day of the battle neither sword nor spear was to be found in the possession of any of the people with Saul and Jonathan; but Saul and his son Jonathan had them. 23Now a garrison of the Philistines had gone out to the pass of Michmash.

So looking at verses 5 and 15 and 22, what do we have?  The Philistines:  30,000 chariots, 6,000 horsemen, and too many foot-soldiers to count.  The Israelites:  600 men, 2 swords, and various farming tools.  “The Lord is my strength and my shield!”

_________________________

The New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989 by the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Images courtesy of:
don’t just sit there . . .    http://creativeideas.files.wordpress.com/2007/10/dont-just-sit-title.jpg
clock.    http://etc.usf.edu/clipart/33500/33593/clock-11-59_33593.htm
What are the odds?    https://dwellingintheword.files.wordpress.com/2016/01/ba5b5-what_are_the_odds.jpg
iron weapons from ancient Greece.   http://www.womeninthebible.net/images/1.8.De6.jpg

1752.) 1Samuel 12

January 19, 2016
George Washington wrote his Farewell Address -- portion quoted below -- in 1796. (Portrait by Gilbert Stuart, 1795)

George Washington wrote his Farewell Address — portion quoted below — in 1796. (Portrait by Gilbert Stuart, 1795)

“Of all the dispositions and habits which lead to political prosperity, religion and morality are indispensable supports. In vain would that man claim the tribute of patriotism, who should labor to subvert these great pillars of human happiness, these firmest props of the duties of men and citizens. The mere politician, equally with the pious man, ought to respect and to cherish them. A volume could not trace all their connections with private and public felicity. Let it simply be asked: Where is the security for property, for reputation, for life, if the sense of religious obligation desert the oaths which are the instruments of investigation in courts of justice ? And let us with caution indulge the supposition that morality can be maintained without religion. Whatever may be conceded to the influence of refined education on minds of peculiar structure, reason and experience both forbid us to expect that national morality can prevail in exclusion of religious principle.”

1 Samuel 12   (NRSV)

Samuel’s Farewell Address

Samuel said to all Israel, “I have listened to you in all that you have said to me, and have set a king over you. 2See, it is the king who leads you now; I am old and gray, but my sons are with you. I have led you from my youth until this day.

Samuel is “passing the torch” to Saul.  Samuel indicates that his sons are no longer leaders, and he begins to remind them of the good legacy he is passing on to Saul. He is not leaving Saul a mess to clean up. He has been honest and faithful to all.

3Here I am; testify against me before the Lord and before his anointed. Whose ox have I taken? Or whose donkey have I taken? Or whom have I defrauded? Whom have I oppressed? Or from whose hand have I taken a bribe to blind my eyes with it? Testify against me and I will restore it to you.”

4They said, “You have not defrauded us or oppressed us or taken anything from the hand of anyone.”

Your integrity is measured not by what you say about yourself, but by what God and people say about you.
–Henry T. Blackaby

Integrity has no need of rules.
–Albert Camus

Integrity can be neither lost nor concealed nor faked nor quenched nor artificially come by nor outlived, nor, I believe, in the long run, denied.
–Eudora Welty

My father was very strong.  I don’t agree with a lot of the ways he brought me up.  I don’t agree with a lot of his values, but he did have a lot of integrity, and if he told us not to do something, he didn’t do it either.
–Madonna

5He said to them, “The Lord is witness against you, and his anointed is witness this day, that you have not found anything in my hand.”

And they said, “He is witness.”

6Samuel said to the people, “The Lord is witness, who appointed Moses and Aaron and brought your ancestors up out of the land of Egypt. 7Now therefore take your stand, so that I may enter into judgment with you before the Lord, and I will declare to you all the saving deeds of the Lord that he performed for you and for your ancestors.

Samuel reviews for them not so much a history of Israel but a history of God’s work on their behalf.

8″When Jacob went into Egypt and the Egyptians oppressed them, then your ancestors cried to the Lord and the Lord sent Moses and Aaron, who brought forth your ancestors out of Egypt, and settled them in this place.

out of Egypt

9″But they forgot the Lord their God; and he sold them into the hand of Sisera, commander of the army of King Jabin of Hazor, and into the hand of the Philistines, and into the hand of the king of Moab; and they fought against them. 10Then they cried to the Lord, and said, ‘We have sinned, because we have forsaken the Lord, and have served the Baals and the Astartes; but now rescue us out of the hand of our enemies, and we will serve you.’ 11And the Lord sent Jerubbaal (that is, Gideon) and Barak, and Jephthah, and Samson, and rescued you out of the hand of your enemies on every side; and you lived in safety.

Samson

12″But when you saw that King Nahash of the Ammonites came against you, you said to me, ‘No, but a king shall reign over us,’ though the Lord your God was your king. 13See, here is the king whom you have chosen, for whom you have asked; see, the Lord has set a king over you. 14If you will fear the Lord and serve him and heed his voice and not rebel against the commandment of the Lord, and if both you and the king who reigns over you will follow the Lord your God, it will be well; 15but if you will not heed the voice of the Lord, but rebel against the commandment of the Lord, then the hand of the Lord will be against you and your king.

16″Now therefore take your stand and see this great thing that the Lord will do before your eyes. 17Is it not the wheat harvest today? I will call upon the Lord, that he may send thunder and rain; and you shall know and see that the wickedness that you have done in the sight of the Lord is great in demanding a king for yourselves.”

18So Samuel called upon the Lord, and the Lord sent thunder and rain that day; and all the people greatly feared the Lord and Samuel.

wheat harvest in North Dakota

The wheat harvest came during the dry season of the Mediterranean climate.  Rain at this time was unusual, and could damage their crops. God is showing both his power and his judgment.

19All the people said to Samuel, “Pray to the Lord your God for your servants, so that we may not die; for we have added to all our sins the evil of demanding a king for ourselves.”

20And Samuel said to the people, “Do not be afraid; you have done all this evil, yet do not turn aside from following the Lord, but serve the Lord with all your heart; 21and do not turn aside after useless things that cannot profit or save, for they are useless.

1 John 2:15-17 (NLT)

Do not love this world nor the things it offers you, for when you love the world, you do not have the love of the Father in you.  For the world offers only a craving for physical pleasure, a craving for everything we see, and pride in our achievements and possessions. These are not from the Father, but are from this world.  And this world is fading away, along with everything that people crave. But anyone who does what pleases God will live forever.

_________________________

Music:

“Here I Am to Worship” — written by Tim Hughes, sung  HERE  by Michael W. Smith.

_________________________

22For the Lord will not cast away his people, for his great name’s sake, because it has pleased the Lord to make you a people for himself.

Samuel wanted Israel to know that God loves them. Despite the sin of their past they could get on with serving the Lord and still see His blessing because God loves them. His favor towards Israel was not prompted by good they did, were doing, or promised to do. It was for His great name’s sake, because it pleased the Lord to do it. The reasons were in Him, not in Israel.

–David Guzik

23Moreover as for me, far be it from me that I should sin against the Lord by ceasing to pray for you; and I will instruct you in the good and the right way.

“Perhaps you will never preach, but you may pray. If you cannot climb the pulpit you may bow before the mercy-seat, and be quite as great a blessing.”

–Charles Haddon Spurgeon

from Experiencing God Day-by-Day,
by Henry T. Blackaby and Richard Blackaby

FAR BE IT FROM ME!

It can be tempting at times to give up on God’s people!  They are so imperfect and can be so sinful, yet they are His people.  Samuel had thoroughly warned the Israelites of the dangers in appointing a king over Israel.  Yet they wanted to be like the nations around them, insisting that they were willing to pay any price.  Almost as soon as the people were granted their desire, they recognized their sin.   But it was too late.  Now they wanted him to continue to minister to them.  It would seem appropriate for Samuel to abandon them and allow them to suffer the consequences of their actions.

Samuel knew, as Jesus knew, that God sends His servants to the sick, not the healthy (Matthew 9:12).  Samuel did not take the people’s response as a rejection of him but as an indication of their walk with God.  Samuel was serving God, not the Israelites.  When God commanded him to minister to them, he could do nothing else, despite their resistance to his message.

At times people will not respond as they should to the message God speaks through you.  Don’t become discouraged; it is a reflection of their relationship with God.  You are God’s servant; if Jesus spent His time with the spiritually needy, you can expect Him to ask you to do the same.  Don’t lose patience with God’s people.  Keep in mind that God loves them as much as He loves you.

24Only fear the Lord, and serve him faithfully with all your heart; for consider what great things he has done for you. 25But if you still do wickedly, you shall be swept away, both you and your king.”

“Never was a people more fully warned, and never did a people profit less by the warning.”

–Adam Clarke

_________________________

The New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989 by the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Images courtesy of:
Stuart portrait of Washington.     http://art.thewalters.org/images/art/large/l_ps1_37171_fnt_dd_t09.jpg
integrity.    http://www.engr.usask.ca/images/current-students/integrity.jpg
Moses at the Red Sea.    http://xb6.xanga.com/3d7f536247631266133805/b212260212.jpg
Samson.    http://aslansmane.files.wordpress.com/2009/04/samson-23.jpg?w=300&h=287
wheat harvest.    https://dwellingintheword.files.wordpress.com/2010/09/12-wheat-harvest-nd.jpg
Love the Lord your God.    http://media.photobucket.com/image/love%20the%20Lord/cindysarcady/Scriptures/Deut6.jpg
praying hands.    http://natachaokazaki.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/07/hands-folded-in-prayer.jpg

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 610 other followers