Blog — April 20

David becomes king of all Israel!  What a great blessing it must have been to David when he “realized that the Lord had confirmed him as king over Israel and had blessed his kingdom for the sake of his people Israel” (2 Samuel 5:12).  This would mean no more hiding in the wilderness, no more running for his own life, no more deceit, no more drama… yeah, sure!

David’s life is such an enigma.  In the verse quoted above he has this awesome recognition that He has been confirmed as king by the Lord, Himself – then, in the very next verse we read about him marrying “more concubines and wives.”  Yikes!  Deuteronomy 17 expressly forbid the taking of multiple wives by the king because they will turn his heart away from the Lord; not to mention Genesis chapter 2 which stated simply, “the two [one man, one woman] shall become one flesh” as the definition for any marriage union.  David often failed… and often in big ways.  Yet, he was still considered by God, “a man after my own heart” (cf. 1 Samuel 13:14 & Acts 13:22).  How can this be?

Repentance.

Having a heart after God’s mean you will love what God loves and hate what God hates – and you will become sorrowful when you recognize that your heart is not lining up with God’s heart.  This will lead you to confess your sins, seek forgiveness, and turn your heart back to the Lord.

What about you?  What blessings have you been celebrating as from the Lord, Himself?  Now check your heart, have you added to your life anything that will turn your heart away from the Lord?  Are you loving what God loves and hating what God hates?

Repent.  Turn your heart back to the Lord.  Sing, as David sang in Psalm 51,

Create a pure heart in me, O God,
    and put a new and loyal spirit in me.
Do not banish me from your presence;
    do not take your holy spirit away from me.
Give me again the joy that comes from your salvation,
    and make me willing to obey you.
Then I will teach sinners your commands,
    and they will turn back to you…

You do not want sacrifices,
    or I would offer them;
you are not pleased with burnt offerings.
My sacrifice is a humble spirit, O God;
    you will not reject a humble and repentant heart.

Blog — April 17

David had been anointed as king by Samuel about three years before Samuel’s death, but was forced to run for his life after that took place. Now, the prophet was dead. David’s first response was to run to the wilderness of Paran, south of the Negev. Later he and his 400 men moved to the district of Carmel where they came upon shepherds keeping the sheep of Nabal. The entire time David and his men were there they watched over the shepherds as well as Nabal’s 3,000 sheep and 3,000 goats; nothing was ever taken and the men were like a wall of protection for the shepherds day and night. At the time of the feast of the sheep shearers, David sent men to ask for a share in the feast. Nabal, the Bible tells us plainly, was very rich, of the descendants of Caleb, was harsh and evil in his dealings, and was a man of Belial and a fool. Nabal’s response to David’s plea was typical of his character—harsh and evil, as he turned the men away with nothing and called David just another rebel. This was not only a high insult but also showed greed and ungratefulness. In this historical account, David showed a side we had never yet seen from him: rage, revenge and murder. David vowed that he would wipe out every male on Nabal’s property, including Nabal. Had David carried this out, he would for the first time be guilty of shedding innocent blood in the eyes of God, as well as losing favor in the eyes of those who were watching him throughout Israel.

The hero of the day was a woman. Abigail, we are told, was beautiful, intelligent and wise, the wife of the worthless Nabal. She would have been married in an arrangement by her father.  Though her father gained riches, her hopes and dreams were lost. She was in a loveless marriage with a drunken, harsh man. They were childless as well. Yet, in her sad circumstances, Abigail chose to rise above it all and make the most of things. She took care of the duties of a rancher’s wife and cared for the many servants. They knew who to go to if they needed help. She was also godly, humble and was used prophetically.

Upon hearing of the situation with Nabal and David, Abigail immediately sprang into action, gathered supplies for David, and went herself down the mountain. As she went down, David was coming up with 200 of his men full of threats and revenge. She bowed herself to the ground and gave the exact words to diffuse the situation. She also reminded David that he had restrained himself from killing King Saul. She prophesied that God would give David an enduring house and that because David fought for the Lord, his enemies would be killed in the end. She spoke of Samuel’s anointing over him to become king over Israel. It was enough to shake David from his rage. He quickly repented and blessed Abigail for her discernment, and the day was saved.

Abigail is a perfect role model for all of us women today. Whatever situation we find ourselves in, seek God with all of our hearts and make the most of it. Of course, it can only be done through relationship with Christ, who is our Vine.

Blog — April 16

“Now’s your opportunity,” David’s men whispered to him. “Today the Lord is telling you, ‘I will certainly put your enemy into your power, to do with as you wish.’” So David crept forward and cut off a piece of the hem of Saul’s robe.  But then David’s conscience began bothering him because he had cut Saul’s robe.

Sometimes all the people around us are telling us what they think the Lord is saying and it sounds good, so we take action as if God himself has given us direction. Then our conscience begins to bother us because we realize that we followed the word of men and did not take the time to seek God’s direction.  It is easy to get caught up in what everyone else thinks we should do. However, like David we need to take a step back and seek God’s direction. Just because we have an “opportunity” does not mean it is an “open door” from the Lord.

It is our responsibility to seek God in every situation. What seems right to man is not always right with God. We are called to live according to God’s standard. What standard are you living by today? Whose voice are you listening to? God’s voice or all the people surrounding you…

Psalm 14:12 states, “There is a path before each person that seems right, but it ends in death.”

Are you on the right path?

Blog — April 15

Throughout the book of Psalms and again in this passage, it is evident that David asked largely of God for His protection. David strongly believed that God was able to protect him from destruction and from his enemies. He believed it so strongly that His prayers for protection fill a whole book of the Bible. In Psalm 59:9, David states, “God is my stronghold. My God in His loving-kindness will meet me; God will let me look triumphantly upon my foes.” Not only was God a stronghold for David, but He can also be a stronghold for us. There are so many times in my life, when my own strength is not enough to get me through a difficult, frustrating, or sad situation. I need the Lord to be my stronghold and to be a firm foundation that I can lean on for protection. There is no harm in asking largely of God for His protection.

Engage discussion questions for April 15

1. Considering that impatience is annoyance at the unintentional faults and failures of others, in what ways do you express impatience? How do these expressions impact your relationships?
2. How does God want us to react when we are tempted to be impatient? (1 Cor. 13:1, 4; Gal. 5:22-23; Eph. 4:1-2)
3. Contrast what the Bible says about righteous anger and sinful anger: righteous anger (self-controlled, arises from an accurate perception of evil, focuses on God & His will. See Ex. 32:15-20; Neh. 5:1-8; Matt. 21:12-13), sinful anger (sinful reactions to others’ actions and words. See Matt. 5:22; Gal. 5:19-20; Eph. 4:29-31).
4. Read Eph. 4:32 and Col. 3:13. What guidance do these verses offer for guarding our attitude toward people whose words or actions tempt us to be impatient, irritable, and/or angry?

Blog — April 14

The Bible tells us that Jonathan had a close friendship with David.  Jonathan was unlike Saul, whose feelings and friendship wavered greatly.  In 1 Samuel 16:22-23 we read that Saul “loved David greatly and was pleased with him.”  However, in chapter 19 we see that Saul attempted to murder David multiple times.  Saul brings an old saying to mind, “With friends like that, who needs enemies?”  But, what drove Saul to that point?  Two things: fear and jealousy.

It is hard to say how many friendships have been destroyed or never came to fruition because of these 2 things.  Fear keeps us isolated from others—fear of what others might think or say if they really knew us, fear of being betrayed or hurt, so we keep the masks on and the walls up.  Jealousy is also toxic to relationships.  It keeps us comparing ourselves to others to see how we measure up.  Needless to say, someone is always going to come up short in every area.

So let me ask, how many friends do you have? And I don’t mean how many “friends” on Facebook—I mean true friends.  Would it surprise you if I said you should consider yourself blessed to have 2 or 3 true friends like Jonathan—friends that are there when you need them, that will lift you up when you are down?  If you don’t have that kind of friend, I want to encourage you to begin building those kinds of friendships today.  But you may ask, HOW?  You can begin by becoming that kind of friend yourself.  Take the mask off, let the walls down, and let go of your fear and jealousy.  It will require courage, time, and sacrifice, but in the end you will be glad you did.

Blog — April 13

I come against you in the name of the Lord!

Life’s situations and circumstances may be bigger than life itself, but you do not have to face your problems alone and in your own strength.  Face the giants in your life in the name of the Lord.  Do not run in fear.

When the lion or bear came and carried off one of David’s sheep from the flock, he killed them and knew that the Lord who delivered him from the paw of the lion and the paw of the bear would deliver him from the hand of the Philistine.

Come against all of your “giant” situations in the name of the Lord! Know that God is with you, and He will fight your battles for you.  Trust Him and know that you do not have to have a great title, be well known in your community or older in years for God to use you. You just need great FAITH in the LORD!  Know – God is able to do what men see as impossible!

Blog — April 10

In the age we live in, for those of us who care for the sports world, we constantly hear the word “prototypical”.  We may hear a commentator say that a certain athlete will not make the jump from college stardom to the NBA because he does not possess “prototypical size” or “prototypical skills” for his position.  This means that because of his lack of the generally expected height, weight or skill a team at the next level will probably not waste a lottery draft pick to sign him, no matter his prior performance.

In today’s reading we need to remind ourselves that Saul was a prototypical king.  He was taller, stronger, and smarter than his subjects, not to mention his early output was fabulous, with a string of victories over the enemy of God, the Ammonites.  He was given the proverbial “keys to the kingdom” by the people he led, but Saul, in short order, lost it all.  Just as quick as the “keys” were placed in his hands they were taken back by Samuel, the prophet who had anointed him king.

We see those “keys” were passed on to a non-prototypical leader, a young boy whose only managerial skills were keeping his families’ sheep in line.  We can see that God is not looking for “prototypical” leaders (David was not even the first pick of his family) but rather leaders who lead by modeling humble obedience, leaders who will own their mistakes, and leaders who will live to please God and God alone.  In other words, God is not looking at your “skills” but rather your heart.