Misplaced Hope.

1 Samuel 31, 1 Corinthians 2

 And when the men of Israel who were on the other side of the valley and those beyond the Jordan saw that the men of Israel had fled and that Saul and his sons were dead, they abandoned their cities and fled. And the Philistines came and lived in them. – 1 Samuel 31:7 ESV

King Saul was dead. Mortally wounded in battle with the Philistines, he ended up taking his own life rather than allow himself to be taken captive alive and be subjected to a slow and humiliating death at the hands of his enemies. When news of Saul's death and that of his son, Jonathan, made it into the camp of the remaining Israelites, they panicked. They lost all hope. Their king was dead and so was his likely successor. In fact, all of Saul's sons had been killed in battle, so their was no heir to the throne. So all the Israelites living east of the Jordan abandoned their homes and cities, leaving them to be captured and occupied by the Philistines. They had placed their hope for the future in an earthly king and now found themselves leaderless and hopeless. Rather than trust God, they had decided to invest their loyalty and allegiance in a man. In their minds, it had all made sense. When they had demanded that Samuel, the prophet of God, give them a king just like all the other nations, it had seemed like such a logical and wise decision. Samuel was getting old and his sons were wicked. So it made sense that they needed a leader, and when they looked around, all the other great nations had kings. So they went with the worldly wisdom of the day and demanded a king for themselves. Now the body of their king hung lifeless and headless on the wall of a Philistine city, and they were running for their lives.

What does this passage reveal about God?

This was not God's preferred plan for their lives. He had wanted to bless them and make them successful. He had wanted to give them victory over their enemies. They were to have been the most powerful people in the land, feared by their enemies and known for the strength of their God. But now the Philistines were worshiping the power of their own gods for having given them victory over the Israelites. Rather than fear the Israelites, they saw them as weak and powerless. And they viewed the God of Israel as inferior and weak, incapable of rescuing His own people from destruction and defeat. Conventional wisdom would have supported this view. From a human perspective it would have appeared that the gods of the Philistines were more powerful than the God of the Israelites. But the wisdom of this world can't comprehend the ways of God. The Philistines were gloating over their victory. The Israelites were running as a result of their defeat. But God was going to use this bleak moment in their history as yet another lesson and as a “demonstration of the Spirit and of power, that your faith might not rest in the wisdom of men, but in the power of God” (1 Corinthians 2:3 ESV).

What does this passage reveal about man?

Worldly wisdom and godly wisdom are two different things. Men tend to believe their wisdom is superior and fully capable of providing them with the answers they seek and the direction they need for success in this world. Relying on human wisdom is a dangerous mistake. It may sound logical and make all the sense in the world, but Paul would remind us that placing our faith in the wisdom of this world rather than in the power of God will always lead to a less-than-perfect outcome. The people of Israel learned that lesson. So did Saul. Paul knew that the wisdom and rulers of this age “are doomed to pass away” (1 Corinthians 2:6 ESV). They come and they go, but God remains. And His wisdom is hidden, unavailable to men unless He chooses to reveal it to them. The wisest men of Jesus' day were totally incapable of recognizing who He was and unable to understand the truth of what He was offering them. Paul said, “None of the rulers of this age understood this, for if they had, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory” (1 Corinthians 2:8 ESV). Instead, they relied on their own wisdom and determined that the best plan was to put Jesus to death. Human wisdom resulted in their decision to have Jesus crucified. It made logical sense to them. But they were blind to the reality of what they were doing. They were incapable of understanding the will and the thoughts of God, so they relied on human reason alone.

How would I apply what I’ve read to my own life?

I have been given the ability to understand the mind of God because He has given me His Spirit. “So also no one comprehends the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God. Now we have received not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, that we might understand the things freely given us by God” (1 Corinthians 2:11-12 ESV). God has equipped me with the capacity to comprehend His will and His ways. I am not left to rely on human wisdom or the wisdom of this age. I have access to a greater source of wisdom that can not only direct me, but protect me from placing my trust and hope in the wrong things. Paul reminds me, “The natural person does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are folly to him, and he is not able to understand them because they are spiritually discerned” (1 Corinthians 2:14 ESV). I have the Spirit of God living within me. I have no excuse for not understanding God's will. I have no reason for refusing to trust God and place my hope in Him. But sadly, I still do. Even with the Spirit of God living within me, I can still find myself relying on human wisdom. I can still easily justify my own actions and determine that my ways make more sense than God's ways. But I have no justification for relying on anything other than God. I have them mind of Christ. I am indwelt by the Spirit of God. I have access to the Word of God. I don't have to rely on faulty human wisdom. With the help of the Spirit of God, I can comprehend the thoughts of God and live with my hope firmly placed on Him.

Father, I want to live with my trust in You, not in me. I want to live according to Your wisdom and not my own. Show me how to become increasingly more dependent on Your wisdom. Let me seek it through Your Word. Make it clear through the power and presence of Your Spirit. May I continue to learn to rely on You and place my hope and trust in You. Amen

The Wisdom of God.

1 Samuel 29-30, 1 Corinthians 1

For the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men. – 1 Corinthians 1:25 ESV

From an outside perspective, it would appear that David's life was one huge train wreck. He had been anointed to be the next king of Israel, and yet he was living as a fugitive in the land of the Philistines, the enemies of God. He had a bounty on his head and found the only way to escape the constant pursuit of Saul was to live as a guest of Achish, the king of the Philistines. Even his life among the Philistines was a very carefully conceived ruse, where he feigned allegiance to the king, but was actually going out on secret raids against the enemies of Israel. Nothing about David's circumstances appears to be what you would expect for someone who had been anointed the next king of Israel. And things went from bad to worse when the Philistines determined to go to war with the people of Judah. David now found himself in the awkward position of having to choose sides. King Achish expected David to fight by his side because he had been fully convinced by David's deceptive behavior that he was on his side. David was faced with the prospect of having to go to war against his own people or show his true colors and risk the wrath of the Philistines. But God intervened.

What does this passage reveal about God?

David had gotten himself into this mess, but God would graciously get him out of it. There is not indication in the Scriptures that David sought out God's advice when he determined to flee to the Philistines for protection against Saul. He simply decided that hiding out amongst the enemies of Israel would prevent Saul from seeking him, and it worked. When Saul became aware that David was hiding out in the land of the Philistines, he gave up the chase. But this doesn't mean David's decision was right or godly. It would lead to the predicament in which he found himself, as well as the ultimate capture of his two wives and all the Jews who were living with him in Ziklag. Sometimes our decisions, when made independently of God, will result in less-than-perfect circumstances. But God is able to use even our poor decisions to bring about His divine will for our lives. He lovingly protects us from ourselves and graciously provides us with a way of escape. While David had made some foolish decisions, God's wisdom would prevail. The apostle Paul reminds us, “Let the one who boasts, boast in the Lord” (1 Corinthians 1:31 ESV). At the end of the day, God wants our trust to be in Him. He wants our decisions to be based on His counsel and His wisdom. He wants us to live according to His direction and not our own, so that when all is said and done, we will have every reason to boast in Him and not ourselves.

What does this passage reveal about man?

God provided David with a way out of his predicament. The commanders of the Philistines knew David's reputation as a great warrior for Israel, so they didn't trust him. They feared that as soon as they went into battle against the people of Judah, David and his men would turn against them. So they demanded that King Achish send David home. God would use the influence of these pagan Philistine commanders to prevent David from having to go into battle against his own people. But David was still going to experience the painful consequences of his decision to live among the Philistines. When he and his men returned home to Ziklag, they found the city had been raided and burned to the ground by Amalekites. All the women and children had been taken captive, including David's two wives. Suddenly David found himself threatened with stoning by his own people. They blamed him for their circumstances. So faced with one of the darkest moments of his life, David turned to God. “And David was greatly distressed, for the people spoke of stoning him, because all the people were bitter in soul,each for his sons and daughters. But David strengthened himself in the Lord his God” (1 Samuel 30:6 ESV). David sought God's will, because he realized he was going to need God's help to get out of this fix. And God responded. God delivered. They recaptured all their women and children, alive and well, along with a great deal of spoil. God turned David's mess into a victory. And David knew that it was God's hand that had made it all possible. “He has preserved us and given into our hand the band that came against us” (1 Samuel 30:23 ESV). David boasted in the Lord and gave Him the glory.

How would I apply what I’ve read to my own life?

In 1 Corinthians 1, Paul reminds us that God, in His infinite wisdom has provided us with victory over sin and death through the sacrifice of His Son, Jesus Christ. The whole idea of salvation made possible through death seems foolish and ridiculous to most people. It makes no sense. The idea of a single man living a sinless life and dying as the sacrifice for the sins of all men sound ludicrous and far-fetched. Human wisdom would say that the favor of God must be earned through self-effort. The violent death of a single, obscure Jew could do nothing to satisfy the demands of a holy God. But Paul would disagree. “…but we preach Christ crucified, a stumbling block to Jews and folly to Gentiles, but to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God.For the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men” (1 Corinthians 1:23-25 ESV). “For the word of the cross is folly to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God” (1 Corinthians 1:18 ESV). Mankind got itself into the mess in which it found itself. Separated from God and incapable of living up to His righteous standards, we found ourselves in a hopeless situation. Then God stepped in. He did the impossible and improbable. Contrary to the wisdom of this world, God provided a way for men to be made right with Him. “For since, in the wisdom of God, the world did not know God through wisdom, it pleased God through the folly of what we preach to save those who believe” (1 Corinthians 1:21 ESV). God graciously provided a solution to man's problem. He stepped into our mess and made it right. “And because of him you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, righteousness and sanctification and redemption,so that, as it is written, ‘Let the one who boasts, boast in the Lord.’” (1 Corinthians 1:30-31 ESV). God saved David. God has saved me. When I was at my weakest, when I lacked wisdom, when I was hopeless, God stepped in and provided salvation. So that I have no reason to boast in myself. My salvation is His work from start to finish.

Father, You saved me. You redeemed me. You did what only You could do through Your Son Jesus Christ. It makes no sense. It sounds far-fetched and unbelievable. But Your foolishness is wiser than men and Your weakness is stronger than men. It doesn't have to make sense for it to be true. I don't have to fully understand it for it to be effective. Your salvation is real and Your solution to my problem has been life changing for me. So I have no reason to boast or brag. I played no part in it. I am the undeserving recipient of Your grace and mercy. Amen

The Best Laid Plans….

1 Samuel 27-28, Romans 16

Then David said in his heart, “Now I shall perish one day by the hand of Saul. There is nothing better for me than that I should escape to the land of the Philistines. Then Saul will despair of seeking me any longer within the borders of Israel, and I shall escape out of his hand.” – 1 Samuel 27: ESV

Even the godly, when they find themselves in difficult circumstances, can come up with ungodly plans. And what makes their plans ungodly is that they lack God's blessing or approval. They may sound wise and appear legitimate, but if any plans we develop are done so apart from God, they will always lead to future trouble. In these two chapters in 1 Samuel, we find both David and Saul coming up with their own solutions to their problems, apart from God. Each found himself in a tough spot and, driven by fear and a sense of panic, developed his own remedy to his predicament. David, while he was a man after God's own heart, eventually lost heart and wrongly concluded that, “I shall perish one day by the hand of Saul” (1 Samuel 27:1 ESV). Even though God had clearly chosen and ordained him as the next king of Israel, David had finally lost hope. He figured that his ongoing exile and life as a man on the run was going to end in his death at the hand of Saul. So he came up with a solution. He developed a plan. Saul, when faced with the prospect going up against a superior Philistine force, first turned to God for counsel. But when God refused to answer, he sought the help of a necromancer, a witch. He came up with a work-around in order to get the help he desperately needed.

What does this passage reveal about God?

While neither David or Saul were operating out of divine inspiration, God was still in control of the circumstances. Their unwillingness or inability to know God's will did not diminish in any way the fact that God's will was going to be done in their lives. While David had lost hope and was convinced that he was going to be a dead man if he didn't do something quick, God was not in a panic. He knew exactly what was going to happen. He was in complete charge or David's life and future. Even David's poor planning could not stop the divine will of God for his life. Saul, unable to hear from God, decided to do the unthinkable. He sought out the services of a witch, a woman who made her living communicating with the dead. Saul desperately wanted to know what to do, so he willingly broke the law of God in order to try and communicate with Samuel, the dead prophet of God. And God let it happen. The witch, much to her own surprise, was able to call up Samuel, and the prophet gave Saul a very clear picture of what was going to happen to he and his sons. God was in control. At no point in the story did He ever lose control. So while both David and Saul felt like God was nowhere to be found, He was there. He was working. He was fully in control of the circumstances.

What does this passage reveal about man?

When we take matters into our own hands, it almost always involves compromise, lying and deceit. Our plans, when developed without God's input, tend to require us to compromise our convictions or to go against God's revealed will for our lives. We can find ourselves fraternizing with the enemy. In David's case, his plan involved living with the Philistines, the enemies of Israel and of God. Rather than warring against the enemies of God, David found himself living with them. He became the personal body guard for the king of the Philistines. Saul fraternized with the enemy of God, Satan himself, by seeking out the services of a witch. The law of God had strictly forbidden such activity. In fact, the passage makes it clear that Saul was to have removed all such individuals from the land. But obviously, he had not done so.

But not only will our plans tend to cause us to fraternize with the enemy and compromise our convictions, they will almost always result in lying and deception. David had to lie to King Achish in order to conceal what he was doing. He had to cover his tracks and hide his real motives. But eventually his actions were exposed. The day came when David's ruse was uncovered. His original plan to seek refuge among the enemies of God put him in a difficult spot. He was going to have to fight with the Philistines against His own people or have his whole plan unravel before his eyes.  Saul disobeyed the will of God and sought out the services of a witch. In order to do so, he had to come up with a plan that involved deception and lies. He couldn't just admit that he was seeking out a necromancer. So he disguised himself. He lied. He deceived. But his actions got exposed. And the news he eventually received was as bad as it could have been.

How would I apply what I’ve read to my own life?

Any plans I make apart from God will always lead to some form of compromise. They will eventually involve deception and require me to lie, either to myself or others. Self-deceit is one of the hallmark characteristics of plans made without God's help. I can deceive myself into thinking that I am doing the right thing. I can then find myself twisting the facts in order to get others to agree with me and see my plan as wise and godly. But if my plans lack God's input or blessing, they are ungodly by nature. Paul wrote to the Romans, “For your obedience is known to all, so that I rejoice over you, but I want you to be wise as to what is good and innocent as to what is evil” (Romans 16:19 ESV). Paul was commending their reputation for obedience to God. But he reminds them that the real issue was that they be wise as to what is good. He wanted them to know what God's will was for their lives. He wanted them to obey God by doing what God deemed to be good. He wanted them to be innocent of evil. In other words, he wanted them to refrain from doing what was not in God's will for them. The evil they were to be innocent of was doing anything contrary to the will of God. When we make plans apart from God, we are doing what is evil. We are compromising our convictions and deceiving ourselves and others into thinking that what we are doing is good. We lie to ourselves and allow the enemy to lie to us. When all is said and done, God wants His will done, not ours. He wants us to seek His wisdom, not lean on our own. And while it is clear that His will always gets accomplished, either with us or without us, He still prefers that we walk in obedience to Him. Our compromises always have consequences. Our deception always leads to discipline at His hands. It is far better to trust Him than to attempt to develop plans apart from Him.

Father, I find it far to easy to come up with my own plans rather than wait for Yours to be fulfilled. Sometimes it seems as if You are silent. So when I don't hear from You, I act. Other times I don't even bother to ask You what Your will is in a given circumstance. I just launch out on my own. Then I justify my actions and usually end up having to compromise my convictions. Forgive me. Help me to trust You more. He me to wait on You longer. Your will and Your plans are always better in the long run. Amen

The Godly Life Done God's Way.

1 Samuel 25-26, Romans 15

We who are strong have an obligation to bear with the failings of the weak, and not to please ourselves. Let each of us please his neighbor for his good, to build him up. – Romans 5:1-2 ESV

There is always the temptation to live the godly life on our own terms, instead of God's. Situations arise that can cause us to take matters into our own hands, and make us forget that we are always better off if we listen to God. When David had his unfortunate encounter with Nabal, he quickly determined that the best response to this foolish man's insult was to wipe out the entire male population of his household. David was so incensed by Nabal's boorish treatment that he was willing to commit genocide against his people. But thankfully, God intervened. He sent Abigail, Nabal's wife, to intercede and intervene. She persuaded David to give up his plan for revenge. “Now then, my lord, as the Lord lives, and as your soul lives, because the Lord has restrained you from bloodguilt and from saving with your own hand” (1 Samuel 25:26 ESV). Even Abigail recognized that David was attempting to take matters into his own hands, and that the results would be disastrous, not only for Nabal, but for David. And David, once he had calmed down and listened to reason, understood the significance of what Abigail had done. “Blessed be the Lord, the God of Israel, who sent you this day to meet me! Blessed be your discretion, and blessed be you, who have kept me this day from bloodguilt and from working salvation with my own hand! For as surely as the Lord, the God of Israel, lives, who has restrained me from hurting you, unless you had hurried and come to meet me, truly by morning there had not been left to Nabal so much as one male” (1 Samuel 25:32-34 ESV).

What does this passage reveal about God?

God was not only protecting David from Saul, He was protecting David from David. David was to be a king unlike any other king. He was to be a man after God's own heart. But sometimes David's heart was tempted to pursue what David wanted. He was prone to follow his own heart. But God stepped in. He sent Abigail to protect him from himself. And David was given the opportunity to see God work. Because in just a short matter of time, Nabal became sick and died. David would see the hand of God in Nabal's death. “When David heard that Nabal was dead, he said, ‘Blessed be the Lord who has avenged the insult I received at the hand of Nabal, and has kept back his servant from wrongdoing. The Lord has returned the evil of Nabal on his own head’” (1 Samuel 25:39 ESV).

David was learning the valuable lesson of trusting God and living according to His will. David's near-miss encounter with Nabal would prove to be a great lesson for him to remember when he found himself with yet another chance to take the life of Saul. David and his companion, Abishai, had crept into Saul's camp at night and found the king sound asleep. Abishai counseled David to take Saul's spear and kill him, putting an end to David's plight as a fugitive. But David refused, saying, “‘Do not destroy him, for who can put out his hand against the Lord's anointed and be guiltless?’And David said, ‘As the Lord lives, the Lord will strike him, or his day will come to die, or he will go down into battle and perish. The Lord forbid that I should put out my hand against the Lord's anointed’” (1 Samuel 26:9-11 ESV). David was learning to trust God with his battles.

What does this passage reveal about man?

The godly life is to be just that – godly. It is meant to be lived on God's terms, not our own. Living godly requires that we see life through God's eyes, not our own. It means that we must look for God in the midst of our troubles and trials, fully believing that He is there and that He has a plan in mind. Paul writes, “We who are strong have an obligation to bear with the failings of the weak, and not to please ourselves” (Romans 15:1 ESV). The strength Paul speaks of is not human strength, but strength provided by the Lord. Our strength is to come from God. As we live according to His terms and in His power, we are able to live with our eyes focused not on ourselves, but on others. David knew that his only job was to live faithfully to God. He told Saul, “The Lord rewards every man for his righteousness and his faithfulness, for the Lord gave you into my hand today, and I would not put out my hand against the Lord's anointed. Behold, as your life was precious this day in my sight, so may my life be precious in the sight of the Lord, and may he deliver me out of all tribulation” (1 Samuel 26:23-24 ESV). David was having to put up with Saul. He was having to endure his constant harassment and unjustified treatment. But David was learning to be more focused on pleasing God and less on pleasing himself.

How would I apply what I’ve read to my own life?

Paul writes, “May the God of endurance and encouragement grant you to live in such harmony with one another, in accord with Christ Jesus, that together you may with one voice glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ” (Romans 15:5-6 ESV). As believers we need God's help and strength in order to live godly lives in a godless environment. We even need His power to live among fellow believers. Because we will always be tempted to take matters into our own hands and live to satisfy our own selfish desires. Given the right opportunity and the wrong treatment, we could easily determine that our way is the best way and end up doing something we greatly regret. David was learning to live his life in a way that pleased God, not himself. I must learn that same lesson. Had David taken matters into his own hands, he would have murdered Nabal and every other male in his household. And he would have had to answer to God for his actions. Had David listened to the “wise” counsel of Abishai and taken Saul's life, he would have had been guilty of killing the Lord's anointed. But David was learning that God's ways are not man's ways. He was learning that the godly life is distinctly different than the way most of us tend to live our lives. The godly life is lived to please God, not men. The godly life is based on God's will, not our own. The godly life results in God's blessing, rather than some short-lived form of self-satisfaction.

 Father, I want my life to please You. I want to continue to learn to give up my agenda for Yours. Help me to understand that the godly life is only possible with Your help. It is impossible in my own strength. Thank You for giving me Your Spirit as a source of empowerment and encouragement to live the life You've called me to live. But I ask that You give me a growing sensitivity to Your presence in my life and a willingness to live according to Your plan for my life. Amen

Living For God.

1 Samuel 23-24, Romans 14

For none of us lives to himself, and none of us dies to himself. For if we live, we live to the Lord, and if we die, we die to the Lord. So then, whether we live or whether we die, we are the Lord's. – Romans 14:7-8 ESV

David had no idea what was going on in his life. It had to have made no sense to him why he was having to spend his life as a fugitive, running from the wrath of King Saul. He had done nothing wrong, but he was still under a death sentence, with a bounty on his head and an entire army hounding his every step. We know David struggled with his circumstances because he wrote his feelings down in the form of psalms. Psalm 54 records his impressions when the Ziphites attempted to betray him into the hands of Saul. “…strangers are attacking me; violent people are trying to kill me. They care nothing for God” (Psalm 54:3 ESV). But in spite of his dire circumstances, David was going to trust God. “But God is my helper. The Lord keeps me alive!” (Psalm 54:4 ESV). David took the attitude that his life was in God's hands. He was going to live in such a way that his life glorified God. Which is why, when given the chance to take Saul's life in the dark recesses of the cave in the wilderness of Engedi, David refused. Instead, David responded, “The Lord forbid that I should do this to my lord the king. I shouldn’t attack the Lord’s anointed one, for the Lord himself has chosen him” (1 Samuel 24:6 ESV). David was willing to let God be the judge between he and Saul. He knew that he was innocent of any wrong doing and that God would avenge him. He was going to live his life for God's glory and honor, not his own.

What does this passage reveal about God?

As bad as things seemed to be for David, God was always there. The intensity of the situation would seem to have communicated otherwise. It seemed that Saul was always just around the corner, seeking to take David's life. Each time David found a place of rest and the opportunity to enjoy a brief respite, Saul would show up again. The sheer stress of it all had to have weighed heavily on David. It seemed that no matter where he went, Saul was always there, just a few steps behind him. But David knew God was there as well. So he called out to him. “Come with great power, O God, and rescue me! Defend me with your might.Listen to my prayer, O God. Pay attention to my plea” (Psalm 54:1-2 ESV). David turned to God in the midst of his troubles. And he put his trust in the character and nature of God. He had seen God rescue in the past and he knew that God could rescue again. “I will sacrifice a voluntary offering to you; I will praise your name, O Lord, for it is good.For you have rescued me from my troubles and helped me to triumph over my enemies” (Psalm 54:6-7 ESV). While David may not have understood or even liked his circumstances, he was not going to use them as an excuse to live in a way that would dishonor God. Instead, he was going to trust God and honor him through obedience and faithfulness.

What does this passage reveal about man?

Saul thought God was on his side. In spite of all that had happened and the words of the prophet, Samuel, telling him that God was taking away his kingdom and giving it to another, Saul continued to believe that God was going to give him victory over David. But his actions were far from godly. He was motivated “by fear, anger and revenge. Nothing he was doing was honoring to God. He could justify his actions all day long, but one day he would have to give an account to God for his actions. Saul's motivation was purely selfish. It was all about him. He was not interested in God's will or bringing God glory. He was obsessed with prolonging his own kingdom and preserving his petty reign over Israel.

How would I apply what I’ve read to my own life?

The apostle Paul stresses that our lives should be lived in order to honor the Lord. “For none of us lives to himself, and none of us dies to himself. For if we live, we live to the Lord, and if we die, we die to the Lord. So then, whether we live or whether we die, we are the Lord's” (Romans 14:7-8 ESV). As children of God, our lives don't belong to us. We are not here to bring glory and honor to ourselves. We exist for God's glory, not our own. David seemed to know that fact. He lived with an eye on God's glory. While he could have easily justified taking revenge on Saul, he was not willing to do anything that was outside of God's will. He was content to let God be his judge. He was going to do the right thing, not the expedient or logical thing. David's circumstances were difficult. He was being forced to live in less-than-ideal conditions. But as Paul wrote, “For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking but of righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit. Whoever thus serves Christ is acceptable to God and approved by men. So then let us pursue what makes for peace and for mutual upbuilding” (Romans 14:17-19 ESV). It was not about David's comfort. It was about God's glory. It was not about ease and affluence, it was about righteousness and godly influence. Even while running for his life, David was busy fighting for God's kingdom, seeking to eliminate the enemies of God's cause. Rather than live for himself, David lived to honor God. And he was willing to die for God, if necessary. Because he knew that “whether we live or whether we die, we are the Lord's” (Romans 14:8 ESV).

Father, may I continue to learn the lesson of living for You, rather than for me. I want to honor You with my life, regardless of the circumstances of my life. I want my actions to bring You glory instead of me. Help me learn to see my life as belonging to You and not me. Help me to see the circumstances of my life as opportunities to watch You work and to give You glory and thanks for all that You do. Amen


The Armor of Light.

1 Samuel 21-22, Romans 13

Besides this you know the time, that the hour has come for you to wake from sleep. For salvation is nearer to us now than when we first believed. The night is far gone; the day is at hand. So then let us cast off the works of darkness and put on the armor of light. – Romans 13:11-12 ESV

David was on the run. He was a fugitive with a bounty on his head, even though he was completely innocent of any wrong doing. He had been anointed by Samuel to be the next king of Israel. He had faithfully served Saul as both a servant and a soldier, and yet he found himself a victim of false accusations and suffering for his success as a soldier. Saul was jealous of David and feared him. He inherently knew that David was a threat to his kingship and so he was willing to do anything and everything to eliminate him as a threat.

But rather than retaliate, David simply accepts his fate. Much of what David does in response to his situation reveals why God referred to him as “a man after my own heart.” David was far from perfect. He would make many mistakes along the way, but he did have a heart for God and a sensitivity to God's leadership in his life. When he was forced to seek refuge in the caves of Adullam, David's family soon joined him, fearing retribution from Saul in order to get to David. But David, knowing that life in the wilderness would be too much for his aging parents, sent them to Moab, the homeland of his great-grandmother Ruth. David expressed his trust in God when he told the king of Moab, “Please let my father and my mother stay with you, till I know what God will do for me” (1 Samuel 22:3 ESV).

What does this passage reveal about God?

David had no idea what God was doing, or why? But he was willing to trust Him. In his heart he knew that God was somehow behind all of this. God was directing his path and orchestrating events in such a way as to prepare David for his future role as the king of Israel. When David fled from Saul, he was lone. He had left behind his wife, Michal; his mentor, Samuel; his family; and all of his comrades in arms. But by the time David arrived at the cave of Adullam, he found himself far from alone. “And everyone who was in distress, and everyone who was in debt, and everyone who was bitter in soul, gathered to him. And he became commander over them. And there were with him about four hundred men” (1 Samuel 22:2 ESV). God would provide David with an army. Yes, it was an army of misfits and malcontents, but God would gradually transform these men into the mighty men of David.

What does this passage reveal about man?

It is interesting that the men who joined David in the cave of Adullam were in distress, in debt, and were bitter in soul because of King Saul. He had made their lives miserable. In essence, these men were joining David in hopes that he might rebel against the rule of Saul and bring them relief and release. But interestingly enough, David did not give them the satisfaction of seeing Saul dethroned. All throughout his time in exile, David remained committed to the king. He continued to fight for the nation of Israel and stand opposed to its enemies. When given the opportunity to take Saul out, David would refuse. When encouraged by his own men to kill Saul, he would reject it. David knew that Saul was still king of Israel. He would not raise his hand against the Lord's anointed, even though Saul was unjust in his actions against him. David was living out the words of Paul found in Romans 13: “Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God. Therefore whoever resists the authorities resists what God has appointed, and those who resist will incur judgment” (Romans 13:1-2 ESV). Later on, when faced with what appears to be a God-given opportunity to take the life of Saul, David would say, “The LORD forbid that I should do this thing to my lord, the LORD’s anointed, to put out my hand against him, seeing he is the LORD’s anointed” (1 Samuel 24:6 ESV). David may not have like his circumstances. He may not have fully understood what God was doing, but he was willing to trust Him and wait for His outcome. As best as he knew how, he would refuse to take matters into his own hands.

How would I apply what I’ve read to my own life?

Paul goes on to write, “Besides this you know the time, that the hour has come for you to wake from sleep. For salvation is nearer to us now than when we first believed. The night is far gone; the day is at hand. So then let us cast off the works of darkness and put on the armor of light. Let us walk properly as in the daytime, not in orgies and drunkenness, not in sexual immorality and sensuality, not in quarreling and jealousy. But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to gratify its desires” (Romans 13:11-14 ESV). David was living in a period of personal darkness. Things looked bleak and foreboding, but he was going to “put on the armor of light.” He was going to walk properly, living just as he would as if everything was bright and sunny. Circumstances were not going to dictate his behavior. He would not use his predicament as an excuse for sinful behavior.

I must do the same thing. I must live in the light, dressed in the armor of light and empowered by the love of God. I must constantly remind myself that salvation is nearer than I realize it to be. My God is in charge. My God is fully aware of my situation. He is not asleep, indifferent, preoccupied, or powerless. Like David, I must realize that my reaction to my circumstances is a huge indicator of the condition of my heart. My fear, anger, desire for revenge, and tendency to take matters into my own hands, reveal my lack of trust in God. l must wake up from my sleep and recognize that God is nearer than I realize. He is at work in and around my life, constantly providing salvation from my circumstances, and slowly transforming me into the man of God He longs for me to be.

Father, help me to live alert not only to my circumstances, but to Your presence. Let me focus on You rather than on what is happening to me or around me. I want to learn to put off the works of darkness and live in the armor of light. Amen

The Life of Godliness.

1 Samuel 19-20, Romans 12

Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse them. Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep. Live in harmony with one another. – Romans 12:14-16 ESV

Saul despised David. He hated him so much that he wanted him dead. He even attempted to kill David himself by tossing a spear at him. On several different occasions Saul tried to arrange David's death. But God intervened and protected His anointed one. David was to be the new king of Israel, and there was nothing Saul could do about it. And while the primary character in this portion of 1 Samuel seems to be Saul, the actions and attitude of David make him the real protagonist of the story. He is completely innocent of wrong-doing, and yet Saul wants him dead. David has done nothing wrong. In fact, he has been a faithful servant of Saul, having killed Goliath and then successfully leading military campaigns against the Philistines. David has served in Saul's household. He has married Saul's daughter, Michel. He has become the best fried on Saul's son, Jonathan. But in spite all of this, Saul seeks to take David's life.

What does this passage reveal about God?

As in any story where injustice seems to take place, the first question most of us ask is, “Why?” Why is David having to go through all of this? What has he done to deserve such treatment? Where is God in all of this? But the truth is, God is all throughout this story. He is clearly in charge of all the events taking place. He anointed David while Saul was still on the throne. He knew Saul would react negatively and violently. God was behind David's military successes. He gave David his musical abilities and military acumen. When Saul sent messengers to find David and bring him back for execution, God caused those men to be filled with His Spirit and prophesy instead. Three different times Saul sent messengers to do his evil bidding, and three times God intervened, miraculously altering the agenda of the Saul and the intent of his messengers. Even when Saul himself attempted to go and get David, God stepped in, causing Saul to strip himself of his clothes and prophesy. God humbled and humiliated the king, clearly showing that He was in control of the situation. He had already stripped Saul of his kingship and was showing that his days of rule were coming to an end.

What does this passage reveal about man?

But one of the most amazing things about this story is the reaction of David. Yes, he is shocked and surprised. He can't understand why Saul is treating him the way he is. And while the passage doesn't reveal David's inward thoughts, he had to be wondering why God had anointed him king, only to let him die at the hands of Saul before he could ever sit of the throne of Israel. Nothing about this whole affair would have made sense to him. One moment he was serving in the palace of the king, the next he was running for his life. But nowhere does David express anger at Saul. He does not shake his fist at God or demand Him to explain himself. He simply says, “But truly, as the Lord lives and as your soul lives, there is but a step between me and death” (1 Samuel 20:3 ESV).

Over in Romans 12, Paul writes the Christians living in Rome, instructing them regarding the manner in which they are to live together. “Let love be genuine. Abhor what is evil; hold fast to what is good. Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor. Do not be slothful in zeal, be fervent in spirit,serve the Lord. Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer” (Romans 12:9-12 ESV). He goes on to write, “Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse them. Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep. Live in harmony with one another. Do not be haughty, but associate with the lowly. Never be wise in your own sight. Repay no one evil for evil, but give thought to do what is honorable in the sight of all. If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all. Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, ‘Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.’ To the contrary, ‘f your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink; for by so doing you will heap burning coals on his head.’ Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good” (Romans 12:14-21 ESV). These words could easily be applied to David. In spite of all that was happening to him, David continued to love Saul. Rather than seek vengeance or try to defend himself, he tried to do the honorable thing. He desired to live in harmony with Saul. He could have rationalized that he was the rightful king of Israel, having been anointed by the prophet of God. It would have been easy to justify taking matters into his own hands and turning his anger against Saul, even attempting to kill him in order to protect himself. But David did the right thing. He did the godly thing. He didn't try to repay evil for evil. He didn't attempt to avenge himself. And he was going to learn to rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation and constant in prayer.

How would I apply what I’ve read to my own life?

David didn't necessarily understand or even like his circumstances. Having some hurl a spear at your head is not exactly a pleasant experience. Having to run for your life is not what most of us would consider an attractive proposition. The next years of David's life would be filled with difficulty and a constant temptation to question the will and love of God. He would spend years in forced exile, with a bounty on his head. But in spite of his circumstances, David would continue to trust God and honor Saul as king. Little did he know, but he was in God's school of leadership, where he would learn to become the king he had already been anointed to be. David was not yet ready for the throne. He had much to learn about being a king. He had much to learn about himself and God. But even in the early days of his life as a falsely accused fugitive, David exhibited a heart for godliness. He revealed that he wanted to do the right thing. He exhibited why God had called him “a man after my own heart.” That is the kind of man I want to be. That is the kind of man Paul describes in Romans 12. He reminds us to “present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which your spiritual worship” (Romans 12:1 ESV). We are not to be conformed to this world. But are to “be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect” (Romans 12:2 ESV). We are to live lives of godliness, exhibiting a heart for the things of God and a willingness to accept all things as having come through the hands of God.

Father, I want my life to be marked by godliness. Help me to see that my circumstances are not what dictate my godliness, but my heart in the midst of them. I want to learn to trust You more. I want to rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation and constant in prayer. I want to bless those who persecute me, and live in harmony with all men. Rather than be overcome with evil, I want to overcome evil with good. Amen

The Mercy of God.

1 Samuel 17-18, Romans 11

Oh, the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are his judgments and how inscrutable his ways! – Romans 11:33 ESV

Too often, we read the Bible as a collection of independent books contained in two separate sections – one that chronicles the ancient history of Israel while the other records more recent events. We fail to see the Scriptures as a cohesive story written by the Spirit of God through the pens of men. We overlook the central theme that pervades the book and the unmistakable reality that the entire Bible is the revelation of God, from beginning to end. We turn the Bible into a collection of Sunday School stories, told in isolation from the rest of the content of the book. Then we assign to these stories man-centered, morality-based lessons that we hope will help us live better lives. The story of David and Goliath is a perfect example. There are very few people who attended church as children who don't know that story. And if asked, they could probably provide what some of the life lesson's from David's defeat of Goliath. They might talk about facing the giants in our own life through the power of faith. Their recollection of the story might have Goliath as a representation of all the trials and troubles of life. David might represent the underdog, or the individual who finds himself facing seemingly insurmountable odds. And while there is nothing inherently wrong with some of these ideas, the problem is that we tend to miss out on the real story behind the story. We can also fail to see that the story of David and Goliath is really not about either one of these characters. It is about God.

What does this passage reveal about God?

God had chosen David. The prophet Samuel had already anointed David as the God-chosen replacement for king Saul. And David was already working part-time for Saul as a court musician, playing his harp any time Saul had one of his fits of anger. God's hand was on David. He was orchestrating the entire situation, preparing for the time at which David would succeed Saul as the king of Israel. In the story of David's defeat of Goliath, it seems that David is the only Israelite who had faith in God. He alone, as a young shepherd boy, had the gumption to ask, “For who is this uncircumcised Philistine, that he should defy the armies of the living God?” (1 Samuel 17:26 ESV). He could believe that the entire army of Israel was shaking in its sandals as a result of the taunts of this one Philistine. David told King Saul, “Your servant has struck down both lions and bears, and this uncircumcised Philistine shall be like one of them, for he has defied the armies of the living God” (1 Samuel 17:36 ESV). It would be easy to make this statement all about the faith of David. But the real point is the ONE in whom David's faith was placed. This is about God. David even told Goliath, “You come to me with a sword and with a spear and with a 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.This day the Lord will deliver you into my hand” (1 Samuel 17:45-46 ESV). David's faith is not the issue. It is the God in whom his faith was placed. The entire story of the Bible up to this point has been about the faithfulness, power, mercy, love and goodness of God toward His people. David knew the history of Israel, so he knew the character of God. It wasn't David's faith that was great. It was his God.

What does this passage reveal about man?

One young man was willing to stand on the character and trustworthiness of God and face the enemies of God. While the rest of Israel stood by, quaking in their sandals and doubting the ability of their God to do what He had done hundreds of times before, David was going to step out on nothing more than God's reputation and past track record. This story is just one of many stories found in the Bible that reveal man's inability and unwillingness to trust God. The fear and faithlessness exhibited by Saul and his army is not an anomaly. It is the norm. From Old Testament to New Testament we see the continuing struggle of men to recognize God for who He is. When Jesus came, the people of Israel had been waiting and searching for their Messiah for generations. But when He showed up on the scene, they refused to acknowledge Him for who He was. They rejected the very one they had waited for for so long. But Paul tells us that even their rejection was part of God's plan. The story is NOT about their rejection or their lack of faith, but God's divine plan for the redemption of mankind. Paul writes, “So I ask, did they [the Jews] stumble in order that they might fall? By no means! Rather through their trespass salvation has come to the Gentiles, so as to make Israel jealous. Now if their trespass means riches for the world, and if their failure means riches for the Gentiles, how much more will their full inclusionmean!” (Romans 11:11-12 ESV). The rejection of Jesus by the Jewish people was part of God's plan to open up the gospel to the Gentiles or non-Jews. But God was not rejecting the Jews. He was simply using their refusal to recognize His Son as an opportunity to share His grace outside the household of Abraham. In so doing, God would make Israel jealous. All along they had thought they were the exclusive recipients of God's mercy and grace. Now they were learning that God's love was available to all. The story is not about the faithless of Jews and the faithfulness of Gentiles. It is about the love, mercy, grace, and sovereignty of God. “Their rejection [of Jesus] means the reconciliation of the world” (Romans 11:15 ESV).

How would I apply what I’ve read to my own life?

The Bible is about the mercy of God. All men have sinned against His holy commands. All men stand condemned before a righteous, just and holy God. There's not a one of us who can claim to have lived in perfect obedience to God's will and yet, only perfect obedience is acceptable to a holy God. From cover to cover, the Bible reveals the sinfulness of men. And it doesn't matter if they are pagan Philistines or the chosen people of Israel. Saul was just as faithless as Goliath. He put his trust in his armor and sword just like Goliath did. But the story here is not about the battle, slings, stones, David, Saul or even Goliath. It is about God and His unwavering mercy shown to men who don't deserve it. Again, Paul writes, “For just as you were at one time disobedient to God but now have received mercy because of their disobedience, so they [the Jews] too have now been disobedient in order that by the mercy shown to you they also may nowreceive mercy.For God has consigned all to disobedience, that he may have mercy on all” (Romans 11:30-32 ESV). God showed mercy to David that day. David didn't deserve to defeat Goliath because of his faith. David's faith isn't the issue. David's God is. He showed mercy to Israel by overlooking their faithlessness and giving them victory over their enemies. He showed mercy to Saul by not forcing him to face his own death at the hands of Goliath. God is still showing mercy on mankind. And there is a day coming when He will shower His mercy on Israel once again, fully fulfilling His promises made generations ago to Abraham.

God is a merciful God. He is a compassionate, faithful, loving God. He is a sovereign God. “Oh, the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are his judgments and how inscrutable his ways!” (Romans 11:33 ESV). To Him be the glory forever. Amen.

Father, it is all about You. We are not the stars of the story, You are. It is not about our faith. It is not about our obedience. It is not about our victories in battle. It is always about You. Your love. Your mercy. Your power. Your plan. Your Son. Your salvation. Your Kingdom. Your glory. Your righteousness. Help me learn to stop making the story about me. May I learn to see You on every page of Scripture and recognize You in every moment of my life. Amen

Ears To Hear.

1 Samuel 15-16, Romans 10

Has the Lord as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, as in obeying the voice of the Lord? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to listen than the fat of rams. – 1 Samuel 15:22 ESV

God gave Saul one last test. This king of the people had proven himself to be disobedient, impetuous and impulsive. He went through the religious motions and gave all the outward indications of being a man of God, but in the end, always seemed to do things his way. When God commanded Saul to destroy the Amalekites, he obeyed, but not fully. Instead of doing just as God said, Saul “spared Agag and the best of the sheep and of the oxen and of the fattened calves and the lambs, and all that was good, and would not utterly destroy them. All that was despised and worthless they devoted to destruction” (1 Samuel 15:9 ESV). Saul disobeyed God. Not only that, he caused the people to follow his example. When confronted by Samuel, Saul protested and declared himself innocent, claiming to have fully complied with God's commands. When Samuel accuses him of disobedience, Saul blames the people. He says that they were the ones who wanted to spare the best of the spoil. Then he justifies their actions by declaring that they intended to use the animals as sacrifices to God. He had clearly heard God's command, but had chosen to disobey it. And now, when confronted with the reality of his sin, he attempted to justify, deny, shift blame, and rationalize his way out of trouble.

What does this passage reveal about God?

Samuel made it painfully clear. God didn't need or want Saul's sacrifices. What he wanted was obedience. “Has the Lord as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, as in obeying the voice of the Lord? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to listen than the fat of rams” (1 Samuel 15:22 ESV). While Saul continued to claim that he had been obedient, Samuel exposed the fact that he had “rejected the word of the Lord” (1 Samuel 15:26 ESV). Rather than do what God had told him to do, Saul had chosen to do what he wanted to do. He had practiced partial obedience. But God was not interested in partial obedience. Saul's failure to do what God had told him to do revealed a disregard and disrespect for the word of God. He didn't take God's word seriously. He didn't fear God. He believed he could do things his way rather than God's way and get away with it. And when he got caught, he thought a few well-timed sacrifices would get him out of trouble with God. But God knew Saul's heart. He knew that this latest episode of disobedience was just one more illustration of Saul's faulty character. He was never going to obey God fully. Saul had a heart problem. So when God sent Samuel to look for Saul's replacement as king, He told the prophet, “For the Lord sees not as man sees; man looks on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart” (1 Samuel 16:7 ESV).

What does this passage reveal about man?

Saul was hard-hearted. He had heard the word of God, but had refused to obey it fully. His partial obedience was not enough. At the core of his disobedience was a distrust of God. He didn't fully believe that what God said was important. His disobedience reflected a disregard for God's Word. Even today, men choose to disobey God. They hear His Word and yet refuse to obey it. And they refuse to obey it, because they refuse to believe it. Paul wrote that his “heart's desire and prayer to God for them [the Israelites] is that they may be saved” (Romans 10:1 ESV). He longed to see his fellow Jews come to faith in Christ. He knew they had a zeal for the things of God. They kept the sacrificial system. They attempted to keep God's commands. But they were “ignorant of the righteousness of God” (Romans 10:3 ESV). They were still trying to depend on their own self-righteousness, believing that they could somehow earn their way into God's good favor through good works and obedience to His law. They still believed that keeping the commandments could bring them eternal life. And even when Paul preached the good news of Jesus Christ and the reality of righteousness based on faith, they refused to listen. He described them as a “disobedient and contrary people” (Romans 10:21 ESV). It wasn't that they had not heard the truth. Paul himself had faithfully proclaimed the gospel among the Jews in every city and town he had visited. But the majority of the Jews were unwilling to listen to God's Word, choosing instead to create their own version of the truth. Paul had made the way of salvation crystal clear. “If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.For with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved” (Romans 10:9-10 ESV). Jesus, the Messiah, had been predicted in the Old Testament. He had proven His Messiahship through signs, miracles and wonders. He had died and been miraculously raised back to life. But they refused to believe. They didn't want to listen to what Paul and others had to say. They would continue to offer their sacrifices and practice their version of what they believed to be the truth. But the sad outcome of their refusal to listen and obey would be, “Because you have rejected the word of the Lord, he has also rejected you” (1 Samuel 15:23 ESV).

How would I apply what I’ve read to my own life?

God doesn't take delight in my sacrifice and my attempts at practicing my religion. He wants my heart. He desires my willful obedience to His Word. Saul partially obeyed. He got ninety-percent accuracy. But his heart was not in it. At the end of the day, he doubted God and his doubt led to disobedience. The refusal of the Jews to hear the message of the gospel and believe was because they doubted God. They refused to accept His terms for salvation. They preferred to do things their way and according to their own agenda. They were disobedient and contrary. And while I have confessed with my mouth that Jesus is Lord and believed in my heart that God raised Him from the dead, I can still live in disobedience to the will of God for my life. I can hear Him speaking through His Word, convicting me of sin and clearly revealing to me what He wants me to do, and simply disregard what I hear. I can refuse to obey, choosing instead to do things my way. And when I do, I am revealing that, in my heart, I don't truly trust God. I don't have a high regard for His Word. When I refuse to believe, I illustrate my lack of fear of Him. I don't take Him seriously and prove to be just as disobedient and contrary as Saul or the people of Israel in Paul's day. At the end of the day, it is a heart problem. God wants me to be a man after His own heart. He wants me to love Him first and foremost. My obedience is to stem from my love for Him. My desire to please Him should come out of a deep-seated understanding of just how much He loves me.

Father, I want to be a man after Your own heart. I want to obey You out of love for You. I want my life to be an expression of gratitude for all You have done for me. Forgive me for my blatant disregard for Your Word. It happens far too often and far too easily. May I be quick to hear what You have to say. May I be slow to speak out in my own self-defense when You rightfully expose my disobedience. And may I never become angry at Your discipline for my willful refusal to obey Your Word. Amen

The Gift of God's Mercy.

1 Samuel 13-14, Romans 9

“I will have mercy on whom I have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion.” So then it depends not on human will or exertion,but on God, who has mercy. – Romans 9:15-16 ESV

Saul was an impetuous, impatient man who seemed to have a hard time waiting on God. He was impulsive and quick to act, and even quicker to defend or excuse his actions when they didn't turn out as expected. At times he appears religious and faithful, turning to God for counsel, but then just as quickly, he acts on his own impulses rather than wait for a word from God. It's clear that Saul was disobedient to God. Samuel the prophet informed him, “But now your kingdom shall not continue. The Lord has sought out a man after his own heart, and the Lord has commanded him to be prince over his people, because you have not kept what the Lord commanded you” (1 Samuel 13:14 ESV). Saul was going to be replaced with another man, a man who would have a heart for the things of God. But interestingly enough, God continued to give Saul victories in battle – in spite of his stubbornness and disobedience. Even Saul's unwise and unnecessary vow to put to death anyone who ate until the Philistines were defeated, did not keep God from giving the people of Israel victory over their enemies. But it did almost end up with Saul having to execute his own son, Jonathan. Unaware of his father's vow, Jonathan had eaten honey in order to regain his strength from a long day of battle. Saul's vow also caused the people of Israel to sin against God. Because they were so famished by the time the Philistines had been routed, they ended up slaughtering and eating some of the animals they had taken as spoil, but in their haste they failed to drain off the blood. In so doing, they violated the command of God. “Only you shall not eat the blood; you shall pour it out on the earth like water” (Deuteronomy 12:16 ESV). Rather than take the blame for the people's sins, Saul looked for a scapegoat. When he discovered that his own son had violated his vow, he determined to put him to death, preferring to place the guilt on his head rather than his own. But God showed mercy and intervened, causing the people to step in and stand up for Jonathan. Despite Saul's sinful, selfish, rash actions, God showed mercy and spared Jonathan's life and gave the people victory over their enemies.

What does this passage reveal about God?

Over in Romans 9, Paul records the words of God: “I will have mercy on whom I have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion” (Romans 9:15 ESV). God is sovereign. He can and will do whatever He wants to do. He does not have to answer to man. In fact, Paul asks the question, “But who are you, O man, to answer back to God? Will what is molded say to its molder, ‘Why have you made me like this?’ Has the potter no right over the clay, to make out of the same lump one vessel for honorable use and another for dishonorable use?” (Romans 9:20-21 ESV). God is free to do as He wills. And what He does, He does not because man deserves it, but because He willingly, mercifully wills it so. “So then it depends not on human will or exertion, but on God, who has mercy” (Romans 9:16 ESV). Paul reminds us that God shows mercy on whomever He wills and he hardens whomever He wills. We struggle with that concept because it appears to go against our idea of free will, but we must never lose sight of the fact that, ultimately, God is in control of all things.

What does this passage reveal about man?

Saul was a control freak. He had to have things his way. While he may have been reluctant to take on the kingship of Israel at the beginning, he seems to have warmed up to the task. In time, he let the power go to his head. He even saw no problem with extending his authority beyond what God had ordained for him as king. When Samuel the prophet commanded Saul to go to Gilgal and wait seven days for his arrival, he became impatient. On the seventh day, when Samuel had not yet shown up, Saul decided to take maters into his own hands, offering sacrifices to God – a right reserved for the priests of God alone. This sinful act would lead to Saul's removal as king and his replacement by a man after God's own heart. But mercifully, God did not remove Saul immediately. He did not put him to death for his sin. God showed Saul mercy, and even gave him victory over the Philistines.

This entire story is a tremendous testimony to God's sovereignty. God was acting behind the scenes to accomplish His will and fulfill His promises made to Abraham. He was orchestrating His divine plan for the salvation of mankind. It would be into David's line that Jesus would be born, not Saul's. It would be to David that God would make the promise to provide him with a perpetual kingdom and a descendant who would rule on the throne of Israel forever. And yet God had placed Saul on the throne. He had given the people the king they wanted so badly. But God was not done yet. In spite of their rejection of Him, God was going to show them mercy and continue to fulfill His covenant promises.

How would I apply what I’ve read to my own life?

God is at work in my life, oftentimes in spite of me. His mercy is not based on my actions or on my qualifications. He extends His mercy graciously and undeservedly. His gift of His Son had nothing to do with my worth or inherent value. He sent His Son to die for me while I was completely immersed in sin and in rebellion against Him. And even now, as a believer in Jesus Christ, I have the propensity to live selfishly and sinfully, refusing to do things God's way. But He continues to show me mercy. He will not renege on His promise to provide me with eternal life and an “inheritance of the saints in light” (Colossians 1:12 ESV). I must accept the fact that God is in control and has the right do whatever He desires to do. I may not always understand His actions. I may not always like what I see Him doing. But I must never question His motives or doubt His goodness and righteousness. The ways of God are a mystery to us. We have limited capacity to understand what He is doing. We aren't able to see the outcome or discern the purpose behind His plans for our lives. But we must learn to trust Him because He is God and He is trustworthy. That is one of the characteristics that set David apart from Saul. He was a man after God's own heart. He seemed to have an innate understanding of God's character and was willing to trust Him with his life, his future, and his kingdom. Oh, that I might do the same thing.

Father, Your mercy is great. Your power is beyond my capacity to understand. I can't comprehend all that You are doing in my life. I don't always get what it is that You are doing in the world today. But I know that You are in control. You are sovereign. You are mercifully accomplishing Your will in the lives of men, accomplishing Your divine plan to perfection. Help me to trust You, even when I don't understand You. Amen

The Patience of God.

1 Samuel 11-12, Romans 8

And 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.And do not turn aside after empty things that cannot profit or deliver, for they are empty. For the Lord will not forsake his people, for his great name's sake, because it has pleased the Lord to make you a people for himself.” – 1 Samuel 12:20-22 ESV

The people got what they wanted: Their very own king. In 1 Samuel 12, Saul is officially anointed king of Israel, and Samuel gives his retirement speech. He resigns as the final judge of Israel, but before he disappears into the sunset, he leaves the people with one final word. First of all, he made them testify as to the integrity of his character and ministry. He had not defrauded anyone. He had not taken advantage of his role as judge or attempted to profit personally from it. There had been no bribes taken or any hints of impropriety on his part. Which gave Samuel the permission to address the people bluntly and honestly about their spiritual condition. “Your wickedness is great, which you have done in the sight of the Lord, in asking for yourselves a king” (1 Samuel 12:17 ESV). And he confirmed his words by calling on God to send rain and thunder right in the middle of the wheat harvest. The people had followed in the footsteps of their ancestors, having forgotten God and all that He had done for them over the years. When faced with possible war with the Ammonites, rather than turn to God, they had demanded, “‘No, but a king shall reign over us,’ when the Lord your God was your king” (1 Samuel 12:12 ESV).

What does this passage reveal about God?

But in spite of their sinful actions, God was ready to forgive them and to continue leading and providing for them. But Samuel reminds them that they were going to have to fear, serve, and obey Him. They were going to have to stop rebelling against His commands. Not only them, but their new king as well. He would be immune to or exempt from God's commands. Samuel told them, “If both you and the king who reigns over you will follow the Lord your God, it will be well” (1 Samuel 12:14 ESV). God was still willing to bless them, in spite of them. But they would have to faithfully serve Him and honor Him as God. “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. And do not turn aside after empty things that cannot profit or deliver, for they are empty. For the Lord will not forsake his people, for his great name's sake, because it has pleased the Lord to make you a people for himself” (1 Samuel 12:20-22 ESV). God would not forsake them. But they had to stop turning after “empty things” – those worthless, vacuous replacements for God. Samuel warned them that heir habit of coming up with God-replacements was going to have to stop. But the reality would be that this condition would continue for generations to come, ultimately ending with their defeat at the hands of their enemies and their exile into foreign lands as captives. But God would still not forsake them. He would still prove faithful to them.

What does this passage reveal about man?

Mankind is inherently unfaithful. Our sin natures make it impossible for us to do even what we want to do. And obedience to God doesn't come naturally to any of us. The Israelites could not keep the Law of God, no matter how much they vowed to do so. Their flesh just wasn't up to the task. So, Paul tells us, “God has done what the law, weakened by the flesh, could not do. By sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin, he condemned sin in the flesh, in order that the righteous requirement of the Law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit” (Romans 8:3-4 ESV). God did for us what we couldn't do for ourselves. He provided a way for men to be made right with Him that was not dependent upon their own sinful flesh, because if left to the Law and our own capacity to keep it, we would all fall short. God sent His Son to live the life He had required of all men. Jesus came in the form of human flesh and lived in perfect obedience to the Law of God. He was faithul and obedient, even to the point of death. He did everything that God the Father required of Him. And it was His perfect obedience to the will of God that allowed Him to offer Himself as the sinless sacrifice on man's behalf. He took our place and our punishment, so that we might receive His righteousness. His blood covered our sin. His sacrifice atoned for our unrighteousness. God sent His Son to die on our behalf and to accomplish for us what we could never have done for ourselves. All because He loved us.

How would I apply what I’ve read to my own life?

I am no different or better than the Israelites. Without Christ I would be just as prone to faithlessness and rebellion against God, no matter how much I might want to live differently and obediently. My flesh just doesn't have what it takes to do what God demands. But because of what Jesus has done, I have been made right with God. And as Paul so aptly puts it, “If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, now will he not also with him graciously give us all things?” (Romans 8:31-32 ESV). God is for me. That is an amazing thought. And His Son sits at His right hand making intercession for me. On top of that, no matter what I may face in this life, whether it be trials, troubles, pain, sorrow, persecution, danger, hunger or even death itself, I will never find myself separated from the love of God. Because it is not based on my ability to live perfectly or sinlessly. He will never forsake me. I am His adopted child and an heir to His kingdom. So while life may throw all kinds of curves my way, they are never an indication that I have fallen out of God's favor. I am His and He has my future fully secured. And while I know I will fail Him in this lifetime, He will never forsake me. He is a patient, loving, gracious, merciful God. And my response should be exactly what Samuel required of the people of Israel. “Only fear the Lord and serve him faithfully with all your heart. For consider what great things he has done for you” (1 Samuel 12:24 ESV)

Father, thank You for your incredible patience and love for me. I did not deserve Your grace and mercy. I could not have earned Your favor any more than the Israelites did. But You sent Your Son to pay for my sins and die in my place. You provided a way for me to be made right with You that I could never have done on my own. You showed me patience and You continue to do so as I struggle with obedience and faithfulness every day of my life. Help me to fear You and serve You faithfully with all my heart, and to never forget all the great things You have done for me. Amen


The Problem of Sin.

1 Samuel 9-10, Romans 7

For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh. For I have the desire to do what is right, but not the ability to carry it out. – Romans 7:18 ESV

The people demanded a king, and they were very specific as to the kind of king they wanted. “But there shall be a king over us, that we also may be like all the nations, and that our king may judge us and go out before us and fight our battles” (1 Samuel 8:19-20 ESV). And God was very specific as to the motivation behind their demand. “…but they have rejected me from being king over them” (1 Samuel 8:7 ESV). The people of Israel were dissatisfied with having God as their King and Judge. They wanted an earthly king, just like all the other nations. But the problem with any earthly king is always the problem and presence of sin. God was not opposed to Israel having kings, because He already planned for them to have one. It was that the people were rejecting Him as their rightful sovereign. They didn't want to listen to Him and live under His leadership. They thought the answer to all their problems was a powerful warrior king who could deliver them out from under the constant oppression of their enemies. But as the book of Judges reveals, their problem was sin. The reason they had ongoing problems with their enemies was their ongoing problem with sin, and an earthly king was not the solution. But God would give them exactly what they asked for. He would give them Saul. Saul had it all. He was wealthy, tall, handsome and from the tribe of Benjamin. “He was taller than any of the people” (1 Samuel 9:2 ESV). He looked like a king. He walked like a king. He was from a wealthy family, so according to the mindset of most Jews in that day, he obviously had the blessings of God on his life. But it would quickly be revealed that Saul had a sin problem, because he was human.

What does this passage reveal about God?

God is sovereign. He is the King. He is in control of all things. So while men were clamoring to have their own earthly king, God was revealing His ultimate sovereignty over all things by the way this whole story unfolds. From the search for the lost donkeys to the unplanned encounter with Samuel the prophet, the divine influence of God can be seen all throughout the events surrounding Saul's selection as king. God had even told Samuel in advance that He was sending “a man from the land of Benjamin, and you shall anoint him to be prince over my people Israel” (1 Samuel 9:16 ESV). When Saul arrived, God told Samuel, “Here is the man of whom I spoke to you!” (1 Samuel 9:17 ESV). God even arranged for the lost donkeys to be found. Everything about this story reveals the sovereignty of God. He was still the King of Israel. Their desire and demand for an earthly king had not changed the fact that God was still on His throne and was clearly ruling over the affairs of men. God even provided three signs for Saul to prove that the words Samuel had spoken were true. Each of these signs were highly specific and revealed that God knew ahead of time what was going to take place. He was orchestrating events in such a way that they were as good as done before they even happened. And when it came time for Samuel to announce to the people that God was going to give them the king they so greatly desired, he also warned them, “Thus says the Lord, the God of Israel, ‘I brought up Israel out of Egypt, and I delivered you from the and of the Egyptians and from the hand of all the kingdoms that were oppressing you.’ But today you have rejected your God, who saves you from all your calamities and your distresses, and you have said to him, ‘Set a king over us’” (1 Samuel 10:18-19 ESV). The people were expecting an earthly, human king to do what only God could do. They were desiring a flawed, faulty man to serve as their savior and god. But without God, all men have the same problem: SIN.

What does this passage reveal about man?

There is nothing inherently wrong with Saul, except for his own sin. Just like the rest of us, Saul was a man who struggled the constant presence of sin in his life. He may have been tall, handsome, wealthy and kingly in his countenance, but his problem was an internal one. Like every other Israelite, Saul lived his life under constant condemnation from the law, because he couldn't keep it. No matter how hard he tried, he couldn't live up to God's holy, righteous standards. The apostle Paul clarifies the real purpose behind the law of God. “The very commandment that promised life proved to be death to me. For sin, seizing an opportunity through the commandment, deceived me and through it killed me” (Romans 7:10-11 ESV). God's law promised life to all those who lived up to its standards – perfectly and completely. But no one was capable of keeping the law to the letter. The law was given so that men might know exactly what sin was. Paul wrote, “if it had not been for the law, I would not have known sin” (Romans 7:7 ESV). The law clearly commanded that men were not to covet. But as a result of God's law, the sin in men created within them an even greater desire to covet. “Sin, seizing an opportunity through the commandment, produced in me all kinds of covetousness” (Romans 7:8 ESV). Due to their own indwelling sin nature, men tend to make lousy kings, because they are all inherent rule-breakers. As kings, they are to enforce law, but their own natures cause them to do just the opposite. The same would prove true of Saul, but also of David and Solomon. The only thing that could make the reign of any earthly king even remotely righteous was their relationship with God, the one true King. Dependency on and submission to God was the key to a successful reign. Ultimately, earthly kings must bow before the heavenly King. If they recognize that their authority is God-given and their power is delegated to them from a much higher authority, to whom they must one day answer, they stand a much greater chance of ruling righteously, in spite of their own sinful tendencies.

How would I apply what I’ve read to my own life?

It would be so easy to find fault in Saul and make him the villain of this story. But Saul was simply a painful illustration of what happens when sinful men reject the rule and reign of God in and over their lives. God gave Israel just what they demanded: a king just like all the other nations. Saul was a well-qualified candidate for the kingship, but his sin nature would end up making him a lousy leader. His disobedience, doubt, stubbornness, fear, pride and a host of other sinful characteristics would show up in no time. He is the perfect illustration of a man who wanted to do what was right, but didn't have the capacity to pull it off. The apostle Paul paints this human dilemma all too well. “For I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate” (Romans 7:15 ESV). “For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh. For I have the desire to do what is right, but not the ability to carry it out. For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I keep on doing” (Romans 7:18-19 ESV).

Men make lousy kings, especially those who refuse to allow God to be king over their lives. And the same is true of me. When I refuse to let God rule and reign over my life, it is because I prefer to manage my own affairs. I want to do things my way, not His. But because of my sin nature, I prove to be a lousy king. I have the desire to do what is right, but not the ability to carry it out. And like Paul, I find myself crying out, “Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death?” (Romans 7:24 ESV). And the answer is always the same. “Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord!” I have been delivered from the rule and reign of sin in my life by the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ. I don't have to live under the control of my own sin nature any more. I have the God-given capacity to live differently and distinctively – through the indwelling power of God's Spirit.

Father, I would have made no better a king than Saul did. Apart from Your Son's work on the cross and Your Spirit's presence in my life, I would be left to my own sinful nature, and I would find myself living in a constant state of sin and rebellion against you. But when I submit to Your authority and live according to Your Spirit's power and not my own, I find that I am able to accomplish so much more than I ever could have dreamed of. I find I have strength to face any obstacle and peace to endure any trial. May I never forget that You are King, and not me. Amen

The Reign of God.

1 Samuel 7-8, Romans 6

But now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves of God, the fruit you get leads to sanctification and its end, eternal life.For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.. – Romans 6:22-23 ESV

At this point in the story of the people of God recorded in 1 Samuel, we find them demanding that Samuel, their judge, appoint for them a human king. It wasn't necessarily wrong that the people were asking for a king. God had long ago told them that this day would come. But he had also told them the kind of king they should look for. “When you come to the land that the Lord your God is giving you, and you possess it and dwell in it and then say, I will set a king over me, like all the nations that are around me, you may indeed set a king over you whom the Lord your God will choose. One from among your brothers you shall set as king over you” (Deuteronomy 17:14-15 ESV). God had made provision for a king to reign and rule over Israel. But at this point in time, the demand of the people for a king really revealed their rejection of God as their true King. “Obey the voice of the people in all that they say to you, for they have not rejected you, but they have rejected me from being king over them” (1 Samuel 8:7 ESV). For years they had been rejecting God's reign over their lives by continually disobeying His commands. Without knowing it, they were living under the rule and reign of their own sinful habits and behaviors. They were motivated by their lusts, driven by their passions, and controlled by their evil desires. And now they wanted “a king to judge us like all the nations” (1 Samuel 8:5 ESV). In their minds, the answer to all their problems was an earthly king, not a heavenly one.

What does this passage reveal about God?

It is amazing how God had always made provision for these moments. He had predicted it would happen and it did. He knew this day would come because He is sovereign and omniscient. He knows all. He even knew the motivation of their hearts and what was really behind their demand for a king. So God warned them exactly what would happen if they got what they were asking for. He told them their king would conscript their sons into his army. He would amass for himself horses and chariots, in violation of God's commands (Deuteronomy 17:16). He would force their daughters to work for him as perfumers, cooks and bakers. He would tax them beyond belief, taking the best of their fields, vineyards, orchards and flocks. He would even forcibly take their slaves and servants and put them to work for himself. In essence, the people of Israel would become slaves of their king. And yet, in spite of this warning, the people said, “No! But there shall be a king over us, that we may also be like all the nations, and that our king may judge us and go out before us and fight our battles” (1 Samuel 8:19-20 ESV).

What does this passage reveal about man?

They were expecting from a mere man what they should have known was the responsibility of God. They wanted an earthly king to judge them and do battle for them. But that was God's job, and He had done it quite effectively for many years. But they were dissatisfied with God's reign over their lives. They had a better idea. They had a better solution to their problem.

In chapter six of Romans, Paul talks about the reign of God in the life of the believer. We were once slaves to sin, but have been set free by God and are now slaves to righteousness. “But thanks be to God, that you who were once slaves of sin have become obedient from the heart to the standard of teaching to which you were committed, and, having been set free from sin, have become slaves of righteousness” (Romans 6:17-18 ESV). At one time, our lives were marked by slavery to sin. We couldn't help but sin. But because of Christ's death on the cross, He was able to pay the penalty due because of our sin, and replaced our sinfulness with His own righteousness. He made us right with God. As a result, Paul encourages us, “just as you once presented your members as slaves to impurity and to lawlessness leading to more lawlessness, so now present your members as slaves to righteousness leading to sanctification” (Romans 6:19 ESV).

How would I apply what I’ve read to my own life?

I am to live as a slave to righteousness, doing what it demands, not what my old sinful nature demands. It am to obey righteousness, not wickedness. Paul puts it this way, “But now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves of God, the fruit you get leads to sanctification and its end, eternal life” (Romans 6:22 ESV). Ultimately, I am to live as a slave to God, willingly obeying His commands, and faithfully following the life of righteousness His own Son modeled. God is my King. He is my Judge. He is the Captain of the army of heaven. He is the one who is to lead me into battle. He is the one who is to direct my path and determine my destiny. And any time I try to place a new king over my life, I am essentially rejecting the one true King. Any time I turn to anyone or anything other than God to fight my battles or judge my life, I am rejecting the rule and reign of God in my life.

Father, You are my God and King. But I confess that I often reject Your rule and reign over my life by doing things my own way. Too often I appoint myself king of my life or I turn to someone or something else and allow them to direct my life. In doing so, I reject You. I even allow myself to become enslaved to sin at times, falling back under its spell and living as if I was under its control again. But Your Son died so that I might be free from the rule of sin and that I might live in obedience to the reign of righteousness in my life. Help me live my life so it reflects my submission to Your rightful reign as the King of my life. Amen

The Salvation of God.

1 Samuel 5-6, Romans 5

For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, now that we are reconciled, shall we be saved by his life. – Romans 5:10 ESV

The story of the captured Ark found in 1 Samuel 5 and 6 seems designed to stress the superiority of God. While the Israelites were wrong in assuming they could use the Ark as some kind of good luck charm by bringing it into battle and hoping it would guarantee them a victory, God was still in control of the situation. The Philistines placed the Ark in the temple of their god, Dagon. This was a visible testimony of their belief that their god was the superior god. But the next morning they were shocked to find the statue of Dagon lying face down in front of the Ark of the God of Israel. They set their god back on his feet, only to return the next morning to find him fallen again, and with his head and hands sheered off. They immediately recognized that Yahweh was superior to Dagon. In fear, they sent the Ark to a neighboring Philistine city, where the people were immediately afflicted with tumors. They then sent the Ark to the city of Ekron, where they encountered the same problem. What ensued was like a game of hot potato, where the Ark was passed around from city to city, until wiser heads prevailed and determined to send the Ark back to Israel.

What does this passage reveal about God?

This entire scenario is about God's saving power. The Ark was holy. It belonged to God and was dedicated solely to His use. And while its presence among the Philistines was due to the ignorance of the people of Israel, it's salvation was completely up to God. There was no one in the land of Israel who was even remotely concerned with trying to rescue the Ark out of its captivity among the Philistines. They had abandoned it. But God had not. The text makes it clear that God was behind all that was going on involving the affliction of the Philistines and the eventual salvation of the Ark. “The hand of the Lord was heavy against the people of Ashdod, and he terrified and afflicted them with tumors…” (1 Samuel 5:6 ESV). God even seemed to be behind the actions of the two cows used to pull the cart carrying the Ark, by causing them to ignore their natural, instinctive concern for their own calves and walk directly to the nearest Israelite town.

God stepped in and did what no man could or would do. He saved the Ark. He rescued what belonged to Him. Not only was God superior in power, He saved.

What does this passage reveal about man?

The Ark had been lost in battle, and the people of Israel stood helplessly by, incapable of doing anything about it. One of the most significant things about the loss of the Ark is that it represented their atonement. Once a year on the Day of Atonement, the high priest would enter into the Holy of Holies and offer sacrifices for the sins of the people. He would sprinkle the blood of a lamb on the Mercy Seat which was found on the top of the Ark. This action would provide atonement for the sins of the people, allowing them to continue to enjoy God's presence rather than experience His wrath. The Ark was the visible representation of the presence of God. He had told the people of Israel, “There I will meet with you, and from above the mercy seat, from between the two cherubim that are on the ark of the testimony, I will speak with you about all that I will give you in commandment for the people of Israel” (Exodus 25:22 ESV). Now the people of Israel had lost the presence of God and their only source for experiencing the mercy and forgiveness of God for their sins. They were in a hopeless, helpless state. But God stepped in. He did what they could not do. He provided salvation.

Paul talks about the same thing in Romans 5. God provided salvation for mankind through His Son Jesus Christ. “For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly” (Romans 5:6 ESV). “Since therefore, we have not been justified by his blood, much more shall we be saved by him from the wrath of God” (Romans 5:9 ESV). God did what no man could do. He stepped in and provided salvation, rescuing man out of his helpless, hopeless condition. He corrected the problem that man had created.

How would I apply what I’ve read to my own life?

I am reminded of the words of the song, “Mighty To Save.”

Everyone needs compassion

A love that's never failing

Let mercy fall on me

Everyone needs forgiveness

The kindness of a Savior

The hope of nations

Savior he can move the mountains

My God is mighty to save

He is mighty to save

Forever author of salvation

He rose and conquered the grave

– Mighty To Save, Ben Fielding, Reuben Morgan, Hillsong Music

Jesus conquered the grave.

God has rescued us from captivity to sin and death. Through Jesus, we can experience the mercy and grace of God. Jesus' sacrifice of His own life provided a way for men to be restored to a right relationship with God. He has made it possible for men to enjoy the presence and power of God in their lives once again. God is the author of salvation. He provided a solution to man's problem. He corrected what mankind screwed up. He did the impossible. “For as by the one man's disobedience the many were made sinners, so by the one man's obedience the many will be made righteous” (Romans 5:19 ESV).

Father, thank You for providing a way of salvation. Thank You for making it possible for us to enjoy Your presence and power in our lives, for restoring us to a right relationship with You. We were in a hopeless and helpless state, incapable of fixing the problem we had created, but You stepped in and did what we could not do. And we are eternally grateful. Amen

The Knowledge of God.

1 Samuel 3-4, Romans 4

Now Samuel did not yet know the Lord, and the word of the Lord had not yet been revealed to him. – 1 Samuel 3:7 ESV

Young Samuel had been dedicated to God by his mother. She had turned him over to Eli, the priest, and given him to the service of God. So Samuel found himself “ministering to the Lord under Eli” (1 Samuel 3:1 ESV). He even slept in the tent of meeting, where the Ark of the Covenant was kept. Because of his relationship with Eli and his close proximity to the Tabernacle and the sacrificial system, Samuel would have had plenty of exposure to the things of God. But the text tells us, “Samuel did not yet know the Lord” (1 Samuel 3:7 ESV). This does not mean that Samuel did not cognitively know about God. He would have had a strong mental awareness of God. The Hebrew word for “know” is yada and it can refer to “knowledge through personal experience.” The text goes on to say that “the word of the Lord had not yet been revealed to him” (1 Samuel 3:7 ESV). Samuel did not have an intimate and personal knowledge of God at that point of his life. In fact, “the word of the Lord was rare in those days; there was no frequent vision” (1 Samuel 3:1 ESV). At this point in the history of Israel there were few who heard from the Lord directly, so their knowledge of Him was academic rather than personal. But all of that was about to change. This young man was going to have a personal encounter with God Himself. God audibly called Samuel on three separate occasions, but the young man mistakenly concluded that it was Eli's voice he was hearing. But the fourth time “the Lord came and stood, calling as at other times, ‘Samuel!, Samuel!’” (1 Samuel 3:10 ESV). God spoke to Samuel. He desired to have an intimate and personal conversation with him. Not only that, He revealed to Samuel His plans concerning Eli and his two wicked sons. “And Samuel grew, and the Lord was with him and let none of his words fall to the ground” (1 Samuel 3:19 ESV).

What does this passage reveal about God?

In spite of all that God had done for the people of Israel, they seemed to have no knowledge of Him. Their relationship with Him had become little more than religion and ritual. They had His law, but rarely kept it. They knew His requirements regarding the sacrificial system, but followed it more out of fear than loving obedience. Their sinful behavior, chronicled in the book of Judges, had led to an ever-increasing silence on the part of God. He rarely spoke and seldom revealed Himself or His will through visions. As a result the people really didn't know God. He had become little more than a legend recounted in stories told by the old. But God was there. He was simply waiting for someone who would not only hear Him, but listen to Him when He spoke. He had been waiting for someone who would believe Him and, in faith, act on what He told them. In other words, God was looking for someone like Abraham. Paul tells us, “Abraham believed God, and it was counted to him as righteousness” (Romans 4:3 ESV). Abraham had also had a personal, intimate encounter with God. He had appeared to Abraham at the burning bush and spoken to him audibly. But not only did Abraham hear God, he listened to what He said and stepped out in faith, leaving his homeland and setting out to a foreign land, trusting in nothing more than the word of God. He believed God's promise “that he would be heir of the world” (Romans 4:13 ESV) and the “father of many nations” (Romans 4:17 ESV). Paul makes it clear that “in hope he believed against hope, that he should become the father of many nations, as he had been told” (Romans 4:18 ESV). He believed God. Why? Because he knew God. He had a personal relationship with God. And he believed God to be trustworthy and reliable. “He grew strong in his faith as he gave glory to God, fully convinced that God was able to do what he had promised. That is why his faith was counted to him as righteousness” (Romans 4:20 ESV).

What does this passage reveal about man?

It is interesting that Samuel is juxtaposed with the people of Israel. Here is this young man, who had a personal and powerful encounter with God, contrasted with the people of Israel who seem to have long ago forgotten who God was and all of which He was capable. When they lose a decisive battle with the Philistines, rather than turn to God in prayer, they send for the Ark of the Covenant. They assumed their defeat was God's doing, but they make no attempt to talk to Him about their situation or seek His will regarding what they should do. Instead, they bring the Ark of the Covenant into their camp, treating it like some kind of talisman or good luck charm. In essence, they turn the Ark into a representation of God, making it nothing more than a common idol. Because they didn't have a personal knowledge of God, they put their trust in an inanimate object that was never intended to be worshiped or used as a stand-in for God. They viewed the Ark the same way the Philistines did, seeing it as a symbol of their God. When the Philistines got word that the Ark had arrived in the Hebrew camp, they said, “A god has come into the camp. Woe to us! For nothing like this has happened before. Woe to us! Who can deliver us from the power of these might gods” (1 Samuel 3:7-8 ESV). Sadly, the Israelites seemed to have no better knowledge of God than the Philistines did. They didn't understand how God works. They didn't have a personal knowledge of His ways. And as a result, they not only lost the battle, they lost the Ark.

How would I apply what I’ve read to my own life?

Abraham believed God. He trusted what God had to say. He placed his hope in the promises of God. He relied on the word of God. All because he had a personal knowledge of God. That is what I long for in my own life. He has revealed Himself to me through His Son, Jesus Christ. He has placed His Spirit within me. He has provided me with His written Word. I regularly hear from Him, but I must learn to listen, trust and obey. My knowledge of God must go beyond the academic and cerebral. It must become intimate and personal. “Samuel grew, and the Lord was with him and let none of his words fall to the ground” (1 Samuel 3:19 ESV). In other words, God did not allow any of the words He spoke to Samuel fall to the ground unfulfilled. He brought about all that He predicted. He fulfilled all that He promised. And Samuel grew to trust God more and more. As I hear God speak and watch Him work, I grow. As I see Him fulfill His will in my life, my faith grows, and I learn to listen more carefully and obey more quickly. I become increasingly more convinced that God is able to do what he has promised to do.

Father, You are reliable and trustworthy. You are powerful and personal. You speak, but too often I fail to hear. Or I hear and refuse to listen and obey. Help me to have the attitude of Samuel, so that I always respond, “Speak Lord, for your servant hears.” I want to hear You, trust You, and obey You. I want to believe, based on nothing more than what I know about Your unwavering character. May my personal knowledge of You grow greater and greater with each passing day. Amen


The Sinfulness of Man.

1 Samuel 1-2, Romans 3

None is righteous, no, not one; no one understands; no one seeks for God. All have turned aside; together they have become worthless; no one does good, not even one. – Romans 3:10-12 ESV

The Old Testament is brutally raw in how it depicts the sinfulness of man. It does not attempt to sugar coat the facts, but presents life exactly as it was, uncensored and painfully unflattering. Even the Jews, having been chosen by God and given His law, could not seem to live in faithfulness and obedience to His commands. Their incessant failure to remain faithful to God is chronicled throughout the pages of the Old Testament. Take Hophni and Phinehas, the two sons of Eli, the priest of Israel. These two young men also served as priests, but the writer of 1 Samuel describes them as “worthless men” who “did not know the Lord” (1 Samuel 2:12 ESV). They were using their position as priests of God for personal gain and to satisfy their own perverse desires. “Thus the sin of the young men was very great in the sight of the Lord, for the men treated the offering of the Lord with contempt” (1 Samuel 2:17 ESV). These two men glaringly illustrate the truth found in Psalm 14:1-3 and quoted by Paul in Romans 3:10-12: “None is righteous, no, not one; no one understands; no one seeks for God. All have turned aside; together they have become worthless; no one does good, not even one.” This passage is not saying that man is incapable of doing good, because we see in 1 Samuel 3 the actions of Hannah are obviously good and righteous. She makes a vow to God and keeps it. She dedicated her son to God and followed through on her commitment. But there are no actions that man may perform that will ever earn him salvation. Even on our best day, our attempts at righteousness fall woefully short. The prophet Isaiah put it this way: “all our righteous deeds are like a polluted garment” (Isaiah 64:6 ESV).

What does this passage reveal about God?

Paul makes it clear that God gave the law to the people of Israel in order to reveal their sinfulness. “For by works of the law no human being will be justified in his sight, since through the law come knowledge of sin” (Romans 3:20 ESV). The law required perfect obedience and adherence. James wrote concerning the law: “For whoever keeps the whole law but fails in one point has become accountable for all of it” (James 2:10 ESV). In other words, God's law required perfection. And so it regularly revealed to men their shortcomings. No one was capable of measuring up to God's righteous standards. The story of Hophne and Phinehas shows us just how bad things had gotten during the days before Israel had a king. Even the priesthood had become corrupt. They were immoral and unfaithful, showing more concern for their own personal pleasure than they did for God and His law. This vivid portrayal of the sinfulness of man provides a stark backdrop onto which will be displayed the coming of the Son of God in the New Testament. God will clearly show that man's sin was so great and his need for a source of salvation outside of himself was so necessary, that when Jesus appears on the scene, men should have flocked to His presence, begging Him to save them. Because as Paul wrote, “the whole world may be hold accountable to God” (Romans 3:19 ESV). Paul makes it clear that being made right with God is possible, but only through the redemptive work of Jesus Christ on the cross. “…for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith” (Romans 3:23-25 ESV). In the end, God would remain just in His treatment of man's sin. He would be perfectly within His divine rights to punish the sins of mankind. But the good news is that God is also the justifier. By sending His Son to die for the sins of man, He is able to declare “sinners to be right in his sight when they believe in Jesus” (Romans 3:26 NLT). Jesus became the only man to live in perfect obedience to the law of God, keeping each and every one of them and remaining sinless in the process. And His sinlessness made Him an acceptable sacrifice or payment for the sins of mankind.

What does this passage reveal about man?

It would be easy to demonize Hophne and Phinehas. In our own self-righteousness, we could condemn them for their blatantly sinful behavior and wonder how they could have gone so bad so fast. But as the old saying goes, “But for the grace of God go I.” All of us are capable of the same degree of sins as these two young men. Their story is there to remind us of our own capacity to sin against God. One of the saddest statements of all of Scripture is the one used to describe them: “They did not know the Lord” (1 Samuel 2:12 ESV). Here were two sons of the priest of Israel, who were priests themselves and as such, offered daily sacrifices before the God of Israel. But they did not know the Lord. This does not mean they had no idea who God was, but that they didn't understand just how serious God was about His commands. They treated God's law flippantly and with disdain. The NET Bible translates verse 12 this way: “They did not recognize the Lord’s authority.” They saw God's laws as optional, obeying their own sinful desires and passions instead. And that is a risk we all face. When we disobey God it is as if we don't even know Him. As Paul said, “The Jews were entrusted with the oracles of God” (Romans 3:2 ESV), but they failed to obey those oracles. They regularly refused to do what they knew to be the non-negotiable laws of God. And in doing so, they lived no differently than the Gentiles who didn't know God at all. In fact, their guilt was even greater.

How would I apply what I’ve read to my own life?

My sin is real. At one time it separated me from a relationship with God. And there was nothing I could do to earn favor with Him. I was incapable of living my life in a way that would satisfy the righteous expectations of a holy God. And while I may not have committed sins of the same caliber as Hophne and Phinehas, my guilt was just as great. And yet, God justified me “by his grace as a gift” (Romans 3:24 ESV). And all it required of me was faith in Jesus Christ as my sin substitute. I simply had to recognize my sin and my need for a Savior. I needed something or someone outside of myself to make it possible for me to be made right with God. “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus” (Romans 3:23-25 ESV).

Father, I have no problem recognizing my own sinfulness. I even acknowledge that there are days when I live as if I don't even know you, just as Hophne and Phinehas did. I willingly ignore Your will for my life, disobeying or sometimes just ignoring Your Word. But You provided payment for my sin. You purchased my life out of slavery to sin and made it possible for me to escape the death sentence I was under. Now you see me through the righteousness of Your Son. My sins are forgiven. My future is secure. But continue to help me live in keeping with the change that has taken place in my life. May I never forget my sinfulness, but always lean on the righteousness of Christ, because apart from Him, all of my works are like filthy rags. Amen

How the Mighty Fall.

1 Samuel 30-31; Psalm 18

So Saul, three of his sons, his armor bearer, and his troops all died together that same day. ­– 1 Samuel 31:6 NLT

As we come to the end of 1 Samuel, we come to the tragic end of Saul's life. Abandoned by God. Driven by jealousy and fear. Characterized by disobedience and a self-centered, me-focused mindset, Saul ends his life by taking it. He is not even willing to allow God to act as His judge and executioner. Instead, he begs his armor bearer to kill him. When he refuses, Saul takes matters into his own hands again and commits suicide.

What a sad ending to a life that started out so well. He had been given an opportunity by God to serve Him and live as His representative here on earth. But Saul was NOT a man after God's own heart. He did not share God's passions. Saul was obsessed with Saul. His will held sway. His desires ruled his life and determined his actions. His death is tragic. You can't help but feel sorry for him as you read of the last moments of his life and the degrading treatment of his corpse by the enemy after his death.

Yet, at the same time we see David being blessed by God – even in his disobedience. David had been given the town of Ziglag by Achish, king of the Philistines. Located in Philistine territory, David had used this town as his base of operations as he ran secret raids back into the land of Israel, wiping out the enemies of Israel. But the whole time he was hiding his actions by allowing Achish to think he was actually attacking the enemies of the Philistines. God had not told David to hide out in the land of the Philistines. This was David's decision. But even in his disobedience, David was still trying to serve God by protecting Israel. His heart was right even though some of his decisions were wrong. And those decisions would have negative ramifications. Living in the enemy's camp was going to be costly. God had already protected him from having to fight against Israel side by side with Achish and his armies. But now, when David returned home to Ziklag, he found it burned to the ground and everyone and everything taken captive by the Amalekites. Things were so bad that David's men are ready to stone him! They had all lost their wives, children, and possessions. All because David had decided to hide out in the land of the Philistines.

But once again, God steps in. David seeks God's favor and counsel. He turns to the one he knew he could trust. And God answers. God had stopped talking to Saul a long time ago, but He was still talking to David. And He tells David to go after the Amalekites and that everything would be returned. And it all turns out just as God had said. They catch up to the Amalekites, wipe them out, and get back every person and every possession that had been taken. God intervened once again in the life of David.

David knew that God was with him. He recognized the hand of God in his life. Psalm 18, written at this same time reveals David's understanding of God's presence and protection, and His sovereign involvement in his life. All his victories in battle were the result of God's divine enablement. And success David had experienced was attributable to God and no one else. God was David's deliverer and his delight. David owed all he was to his God. His life was in God's hand. His future was in God's hand. His kingdom was in God's hand. Which is why he could say, "Therefore I will give thanks to You among the nations, O Lord, and I will sing praises to Your name." – Psalm 18:49 NASB).

Father, may the words of David be my words. I want to give thanks to You because of all that you have done, are doing, and will do in my life. I owe all that I am to You. I am nothing without You. You have always been my deliverer, but I want You to be my delight. Amen


What A Way To Start A Kingdom!

1 Samuel 21-22

Everyone who was in distress, and everyone who was in debt, and everyone who was discontented gathered to him; and he became captain over them. Now there were about four hundred men with him. ­– 1 Samuel 22:2 NASB

David is on the run. Saul is out to kill him and David has no choice but to high-tail it out of town. But these two chapters reveal more than David's travel itinerary during these early days as an outcast. They reveal some of his weaknesses. We get to see some areas of David's life in which God is going to have to work if David is going to be the kind of king God intends for him to be. As soon as David leaves he ends up in Nob, where he seeks aid from Ahimelech the priest. David concocts a story in order to get Ahimelech to help him and walks away with the bread of the Presence, right out of the Tabernacle, and the sword of Goliath. Jesus Himself uses this story as an example to teach that compassion for the needs of men took precedence over the legalistic adherence to the Law (Matthew 12:2; 4). But Jesus was in no way justifying David's lying. He was using the actions of Ahimelech, the priest, in feeding David, as a justification of His healing the needy on the Sabbath. David's lie would have ramifications. It would result in the senseless slaughter of Ahimelech and 84 other priests as well as the destruction of the city of Nob and all its inhabitants. David got food and a sword, but he compromised the safety of an entire town.

Next, David did something that reveals his desperation and lack of leading by God. He straps on the sword of Goliath, the Philistine champion he had killed, and heads straight to the recently deceased Philistine's hometown of Gath. We aren't told what David was thinking, but it seems insane. Which is exactly what David has to pretend he is when he gets there because the residents warn the king of Gath that he should not trust David. They know who he is and what he has done. Fearing for his life, David feigns insanity, drooling into his beard and acting like a madman. King Achish allows David to leave probably because in that culture the insane were a bad omen and avoided at all costs. From there, David flees to the cave of Adullum. Here is when things get really interesting. David, the anointed king of Israel find himself hiding in a remote cave in the wilderness of Adullum. And the passage tells us that he suddenly finds himself surrounded by a rag-tag and of misfits and malcontents. The Message describes them this way: "all who were down on their luck came around--losers and vagrants and misfits of all sorts." The New American Standard describes them as the distressed, indebted, and discontented. What a way to start a kingdom! David is surrounded by people with all kinds of problems. They have been abused by Saul's reign. They have personally experienced what God had warned them about when they demanded a king (1 Samuel 8:11-18).

These early days of David's exile are not pretty. They do not paint a flattering picture of Israel's future king. But they do reflect a man who is being personally trained by God and having all his weaknesses exposed in order to transform him into the kind of king God desires. David was NOT a perfect man, but he was a man after God's own heart. He had a love for God. He had a desire to serve God. But we see that he was as flawed as the next man. He was impulsive, fearful, struggled with faith at times, and prone to fits of melancholy. But we also see that David took personal responsibility. Unlike Saul, who was always blaming everyone else for his sins, David took ownership. When he finds out that Saul has murdered Ahimelech and all the priests in Nob, David confesses to Abiathar, the lone survivor, "I have brought about the death of every person in your father’s household" (1 Samuel 22:22 NLT). We are seeing God's slow, steady transformation of a man into the kind of man He desires. Transformation requires transparency, or the exposure of our flaws. It requires brokenness so that we will learn to confess or sinfulness. It requires the removal of all the other props on which we lean, so that we will lean more and more on God. God was transforming David and He is transforming us. Can you see His hand at work? Sometimes we can't, but we can rest assured that He is always at work – using every event in our lives to do His will in our lives.

Father, thank You for Your sovereign rule and reign in my life. Thank You for reminding me that I am a work in process. You are not done with me yet. You are constantly molding and making me into the kind of man You intend for me to be. You use each and every circumstance to expose my weaknesses and failings. You are always breaking me, so that I might be more like Your Son. But You are always loving me too. You are at work in my life each and every day. Help me to see Your hand in every circumstance of life. Amen


Getting to Know God Through Adversity.

1 Samuel 20; Psalm 59

But as for me, I will sing about your power. I will shout with joy each morning because of your unfailing love. For you have been my refuge, a place of safety in the day of distress. O my Strength, to you I sing praises, for you, O God, are my refuge, the God who shows me unfailing love. ­– Psalm 59:16-17 NLT

David knew God. When we get introduced to David for the first time in the book of 1 Samuel, he is standing before King Saul and the army of Israel telling them about the exploits he had accomplished by God's power. David had defeated a lion and a bear and knew that it was because of God the he had been able to do so. He trusted in God's power. He had experienced it first hand. He knew God to be faithful. But there was a lot about God that David didn't know. He was a young man with limited experience. He had been a shepherd, working for his father. His life experiences were limited. But God had chosen him to be the next king of Israel. He had been anointed by God for the job. But there is a big difference between being anointed and being prepared. God was going to enroll David into His School of Leadership. Not just teach him what a good king should do, but to introduce him to the one true King.

I've always found it interesting that God had Samuel anoint David to be Saul's replacement, but then left Saul on the throne. Then God removed His Spirit from Saul and placed an evil spirit on him that caused him to react in rage and anger toward David. God caused David to prosper and every time David did, Saul because increasingly angry. So much so, that he tried to pin David to a wall with a spear – twice. God was behind all of this. He could have just removed Saul from his throne and put David in his place, but God had other plans. And those plans included David going through some extremely difficult days. He would lose his position, his wife, his best friend, and ultimately, his mentor Samuel. But David would gain so much more. He was going to learn things about His God he would have learned no other way. It was going to be through adversity that David learned reliability and sovereignty of God. As David experienced the hatred of Saul and was forced to run for his life, he would find himself with nothing to trust in, except his God.

That is why David's Psalms resonate so well with most of us. They are journals of his life – intimate glimpses into those dark moments of the soul where David honestly and sometimes glaringly shares his heart. Psalm 59 is just such a Psalm. In it, David expresses his feelings as he runs from Saul and his men who want to take his life. David cries to God for deliverance. He admits that he feels like God is asleep at the wheel and unaware of his circumstances. He begs God to destroy them. But through it all, he learning things about his God that he didn't know before. He already knew God was strong. But now he is learning that there is more to God than just power. He is a God of lovingkindness and tenderness. He is a refuge or place of safety when times are tough. He is a stronghold where David can hide when his enemies are out to get him. David is learning about God as he is forced to trust and lean on God. God is using adversity to educate and prepare David for what lies ahead. His reign will be a long one, and it will be filled with ups and downs, successes and failures. David is going to need God, but more than anything else, he is going to need to KNOW God. It is in the tough times that we learn the tenderness of God. It is in the difficulties of life that we learn nothing is too difficult for God. It is in our moments of despair that we discover God is a source of hope. Our adversity is God's opportunity to reveal to us just who He is in all His glory.

Father, thank You for adversity. I don't like it, but I realize that it is in the difficulties of life that I really get to know You – IF I will learn to turn to You. David had nowhere else to turn. But when he did look for You, he always found You, because You are faithful all time time. David got to know You as he went through the difficulties of life. Help me to see You in the dark moments of my life, not just the good times. Amen


A Good God Even in the Bad Times.

1 Samuel 18-19; Psalm 11

Certainly the Lord is just; he rewards godly deed; the upright will experience his favor. ­– Psalm 11:7 NET

The life of David is a roller-coaster ride filled with ups and downs, twists and turns, thrills and chills that can leave you feeling exhausted just reading about it. Here was a young shepherd boy who was thrust into the limelight one day and his life would never be the same. After his miraculous defeat of Goliath, he found himself employed by the king. He was working for the very man he was to one day replace. And while David had been anointed by Samuel as Saul's replacement, God was not going to allow him to have the throne right away. Instead, God was going to allow David to work for Saul, learning to serve someone who would grow increasingly hostile toward him. If you think you've ever had a bad employer, consider David. I can't think of one boss that I have had who tried to kill me! But Saul tried to personally murder David twice by throwing spears at him in fits of rage. He also tried to have him murdered on numerous occasions. But God protected David each and every time.

David was doing everything he was asked to do by Saul. He fought for him and won. He did exactly what Saul asked to win his daughter's hand in marriage. He served faithfully, but in return all he got in return was anger (1 Samuel 18:8), suspicion (1 Samuel 18:9), fear (1 Samuel 18:12), dread (1 Samuel 18:15), and a life-long enemy (1 Samuel 18:29). Yet David prospered because God was with him. In spite of the circumstances surrounding him and the difficult situation in which he found himself, David was blessed by God. Jonathan, the king's son, loved him and protected him. His wife Michal, the king's daughter, was willing to lie for him in order to protect him. The people highly esteemed him. Why? Because God's hand was on David.

Even when things got really bad and Saul sent men to murder David in his own home, David escaped and ran away to hide with Samuel, the prophet who had anointed him to be the future king. Saul sent me to kill David, but God intervened, turning the would-be murderers into prophets of God. This happened three different times. They came with one intention, but God changed their minds and their motives. Even when Saul came personally to take David's life, he too ended up prophesying instead of murdering. God had stepped in. He was going to protect His own. No one could do to David anything God would not allow. And these early days of David's life were going to be a schoolroom where David would learn the faithfulness of God. Psalm 11 was most likely written at this time. In his time of difficulty and loss, David was learning just how trustworthy his God was. David was under siege, but he had a shelter in God. David had a mortal enemy, but he had a protector in God. David had a king who wanted him dead and would not stop at anything to see it happen, but he had a heavenly king seated on His throne who would guarantee that it not happen. It was the very circumstances in which David found himself that allowed him to learn the truth about his God. Our difficulties are God's opportunities. It is in the dark moments that we get to see the light of God shine brightest. David's greatest days were ahead of him. But he would have to navigate the dark days of the present with the light of God's prevailing presence. We best learn to trust God when we find ourselves in situations that demand we have to.

Father, You are always there. Even when I can't see You at work, You are. You are always behind the scenes doing what only You can do. Help me to continue to learn to trust You regardless of the circumstances. Nothing is too difficult for You.  Amen