Wednesday, April 28, 2010

How do YOU do "Grief Work"?

My degree is in psychology. One of the things they have discovered over the years is that we NEED to fully grieve the various losses we encounter in life. Stopping it up is not the way to health. "Stuffing it" ends up costing us dearly. Aggressive outbursts only provide temporary relief.

Psychology has set up a way to thoroughly work through your grief. It does not make it go away. But it does bring you back to emotional health.

David had his own way of doing "grief work." I imagine this psalm was written the night after this incident took place...

1 Samuel 30:1 "Three days later, when David and his men arrived home at their town of Ziklag, they found that the Amalekites had made a raid into the Negev and Ziklag; they had crushed Ziklag and burned it to the ground. 2 They had carried off the women and children and everyone else but without killing anyone.

3 When David and his men saw the ruins and realized what had happened to their families, 4 they wept until they could weep no more. 5 David’s two wives, Ahinoam from Jezreel and Abigail, the widow of Nabal from Carmel, were among those captured. 6 David was now in great danger because all his men were very bitter about losing their sons and daughters, and they began to talk of stoning him. But David found strength in the Lord his God."

I think that night, perhaps in the wee hours of the morning, David grabbed a fragment of parchment and wrote this down...

Psalm 6
For the choir director: A psalm of David, to be accompanied by an eight-stringed instrument.[a]

1 "O Lord, don’t rebuke me in your anger
or discipline me in your rage.
2 Have compassion on me, Lord, for I am weak.
Heal me, Lord, for my bones are in agony.
3 I am sick at heart.
How long, O Lord, until you restore me?

4 Return, O Lord, and rescue me.
Save me because of your unfailing love.
5 For the dead do not remember you.
Who can praise you from the grave?[b]

6 I am worn out from sobbing.
All night I flood my bed with weeping,
drenching it with my tears.
7 My vision is blurred by grief;
my eyes are worn out because of all my enemies.

8 Go away, all you who do evil,
for the Lord has heard my weeping.
9 The Lord has heard my plea;
the Lord will answer my prayer.
10 May all my enemies be disgraced and terrified.
May they suddenly turn back in shame."

How do YOU do grief work?

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

The week where everything turned for the better


Things had been getting worse for David for a long time.

First Saul tries to kill him with a spear.
Then Saul tries to turn his entire family into spies to kill David.
Then Saul turns the entire nation into a machine to kill David.
Finally the entire military aparatus is dedicated to killing David.

Meanwhile, David was on the run, and started attracting misfits, who joined him.
After a while, he had 600 men, with their wives and children under his care.

For the big spring battle between the Philistines and Saul, David had offered to join the Philistines, because he was living in their country. He was turned down.

6 "So Achish finally summoned David and said to him, “I swear by the Lord that you have been a trustworthy ally. I think you should go with me into battle, for I’ve never found a single flaw in you from the day you arrived until today. But the other Philistine rulers won’t hear of it. 7 Please don’t upset them, but go back quietly.”

8 “What have I done to deserve this treatment?” David demanded. “What have you ever found in your servant, that I can’t go and fight the enemies of my lord the king?”
9 But Achish insisted, “As far as I’m concerned, you’re as perfect as an angel of God. But the Philistine commanders are afraid to have you with them in the battle. 10 Now get up early in the morning, and leave with your men as soon as it gets light.”
11 So David and his men headed back into the land of the Philistines, while the Philistine army went on to Jezreel."

He goes back to the town he has been given, and everything is gone! I guess his wife forgot to call him on the cell phone!

1 Samuel 30:1 "Three days later, when David and his men arrived home at their town of Ziklag, they found that the Amalekites had made a raid into the Negev and Ziklag; they had crushed Ziklag and burned it to the ground. 2 They had carried off the women and children and everyone else but without killing anyone.

3 When David and his men saw the ruins and realized what had happened to their families, 4 they wept until they could weep no more. 5 David’s two wives, Ahinoam from Jezreel and Abigail, the widow of Nabal from Carmel, were among those captured. 6 David was now in great danger because all his men were very bitter about losing their sons and daughters, and they began to talk of stoning him. But David found strength in the Lord his God."

So he asks God what to do. God says "go", so he goes.

1. He gets fabulously wealthy.

16 "So he led David to them, and they found the Amalekites spread out across the fields, eating and drinking and dancing with joy because of the vast amount of plunder they had taken from the Philistines and the land of Judah. 17 David and his men rushed in among them and slaughtered them throughout that night and the entire next day until evening. None of the Amalekites escaped except 400 young men who fled on camels. 18 David got back everything the Amalekites had taken, and he rescued his two wives. 19 Nothing was missing: small or great, son or daughter, nor anything else that had been taken. David brought everything back. 20 He also recovered all the flocks and herds, and his men drove them ahead of the other livestock. “This plunder belongs to David!” they said.

2. His mortal enemy is killed.

1 Samuel 31:1 "Now the Philistines attacked Israel, and the men of Israel fled before them. Many were slaughtered on the slopes of Mount Gilboa. 2 The Philistines closed in on Saul and his sons, and they killed three of his sons—Jonathan, Abinadab, and Malkishua. 3 The fighting grew very fierce around Saul, and the Philistine archers caught up with him and wounded him severely.

4 Saul groaned to his armor bearer, “Take your sword and kill me before these pagan Philistines come to run me through and taunt and torture me.”

But his armor bearer was afraid and would not do it. So Saul took his own sword and fell on it. 5 When his armor bearer realized that Saul was dead, he fell on his own sword and died beside the king. 6 So Saul, his three sons, his armor bearer, and his troops all died together that same day."

3. He is anointed King

2 Samuel 2:1 "After this, David asked the Lord, “Should I move back to one of the towns of Judah?”

“Yes,” the Lord replied.

Then David asked, “Which town should I go to?”

“To Hebron,” the Lord answered.

2 David’s two wives were Ahinoam from Jezreel and Abigail, the widow of Nabal from Carmel. So David and his wives 3 and his men and their families all moved to Judah, and they settled in the villages near Hebron. 4 Then the men of Judah came to David and crowned him king over the people of Judah.

When David heard that the men of Jabesh-gilead had buried Saul, 5 he sent them this message: “May the Lord bless you for being so loyal to your master Saul and giving him a decent burial. 6 May the Lord be loyal to you in return and reward you with his unfailing love! And I, too, will reward you for what you have done. 7 Now that Saul is dead, I ask you to be my strong and loyal subjects like the people of Judah, who have anointed me as their new king.”

From destitute and on the run, to king of Judah.

It was quite a week!

Monday, April 26, 2010

Saul Croaks

Saul Croaks

(Actually he gurgles, as he dies on his own sword)

1 Samuel 31:1 Now the Philistines attacked Israel, and the men of Israel fled before them. Many were slaughtered on the slopes of Mount Gilboa. 2 The Philistines closed in on Saul and his sons, and they killed three of his sons—Jonathan, Abinadab, and Malkishua. 3 The fighting grew very fierce around Saul, and the Philistine archers caught up with him and wounded him severely.

4 Saul groaned to his armor bearer, “Take your sword and kill me before these pagan Philistines come to run me through and taunt and torture me.”

But his armor bearer was afraid and would not do it. So Saul took his own sword and fell on it. 5 When his armor bearer realized that Saul was dead, he fell on his own sword and died beside the king. 6 So Saul, his three sons, his armor bearer, and his troops all died together that same day.

7 When the Israelites on the other side of the Jezreel Valley and beyond the Jordan saw that the Israelite army had fled and that Saul and his sons were dead, they abandoned their towns and fled. So the Philistines moved in and occupied their towns.

8 The next day, when the Philistines went out to strip the dead, they found the bodies of Saul and his three sons on Mount Gilboa. 9 So they cut off Saul’s head and stripped off his armor. Then they proclaimed the good news of Saul’s death in their pagan temple and to the people throughout the land of Philistia. 10 They placed his armor in the temple of the Ashtoreths, and they fastened his body to the wall of the city of Beth-shan.

11 But when the people of Jabesh-gilead heard what the Philistines had done to Saul, 12 all their mighty warriors traveled through the night to Beth-shan and took the bodies of Saul and his sons down from the wall. They brought them to Jabesh, where they burned the bodies. 13 Then they took their bones and buried them beneath the tamarisk tree at Jabesh, and they fasted for seven days."

An inglorious end to a disobedient king!

A Dead Man Scares the Medium - His Message Scares the King

8 So Saul disguised himself by wearing ordinary clothing instead of his royal robes. Then he went to the woman’s home at night, accompanied by two of his men.

“I have to talk to a man who has died,” he said. “Will you call up his spirit for me?”

9 “Are you trying to get me killed?” the woman demanded. “You know that Saul has outlawed all the mediums and all who consult the spirits of the dead. Why are you setting a trap for me?”

10 But Saul took an oath in the name of the Lord and promised, “As surely as the Lord lives, nothing bad will happen to you for doing this.”

11 Finally, the woman said, “Well, whose spirit do you want me to call up?”

“Call up Samuel,” Saul replied.

12 When the woman saw Samuel, she screamed, “You’ve deceived me! You are Saul!”

13 “Don’t be afraid!” the king told her. “What do you see?”

“I see a god[b] coming up out of the earth,” she said.

14 “What does he look like?” Saul asked.

“He is an old man wrapped in a robe,” she replied. Saul realized it was Samuel, and he fell to the ground before him.

15 “Why have you disturbed me by calling me back?” Samuel asked Saul.

“Because I am in deep trouble,” Saul replied. “The Philistines are at war with me, and God has left me and won’t reply by prophets or dreams. So I have called for you to tell me what to do.”

16 But Samuel replied, “Why ask me, since the Lord has left you and has become your enemy? 17 The Lord has done just as he said he would. He has torn the kingdom from you and given it to your rival, David. 18 The Lord has done this to you today because you refused to carry out his fierce anger against the Amalekites. 19 What’s more, the Lord will hand you and the army of Israel over to the Philistines tomorrow, and you and your sons will be here with me. The Lord will bring down the entire army of Israel in defeat.”

20 Saul fell full length on the ground, paralyzed with fright because of Samuel’s words. He was also faint with hunger, for he had eaten nothing all day and all night.

21 When the woman saw how distraught he was, she said, “Sir, I obeyed your command at the risk of my life. 22 Now do what I say, and let me give you a little something to eat so you can regain your strength for the trip back.”

23 But Saul refused. The men who were with him also urged him to eat, so he finally yielded and got up from the ground and sat on the couch.

24 The woman had been fattening a calf, so she hurried out and killed it. She took some flour, kneaded it into dough and baked unleavened bread. 25 She brought the meal to Saul and his men, and they ate it. Then they went out into the night."

The second to last day of Saul's life was his most miserable moral failure to date.

He disobeys God, even while trying to find out what God's direction is for the battle.

Samuel comes up from the grave. (The only time in the Bible where this happens. I think it the exception not the rule) He gives Saul one last message.

1. God has left you.
2. God is your enemy.
3. God is ripping the kingdom away from you.
4. God is punishing you for disobeying His command regarding the Amalekites.
5. You and the entire army will be defeated in battle tomorrow.
6. You and your sons will be killed in battle. TOMORROW!

Conclusion:
It's better to trust and obey, the rebel and disobey.

Conclusion 2:
There is a reason God does not usually allow us to know the future. "Enough for today are the sorrows thereof" says King Solomon!

Sunday, April 25, 2010

no no no no no no NO!


Don't do that!
No!
NO!

That is what God has said to His people about witchcraft, mediums, witches, warlocks, necromancy, divination, black magic, spells, incantations, etc.

There was no ambivalence on this issue.

Deuteronomy 18:9 "When you enter the land the LORD your God is giving you, do not learn to imitate the detestable ways of the nations there. 10 Let no one be found among you who sacrifices his son or daughter in [a] the fire, who practices divination or sorcery, interprets omens, engages in witchcraft, 11 or casts spells, or who is a medium or spiritist or who consults the dead. 12 Anyone who does these things is detestable to the LORD, and because of these detestable practices the LORD your God will drive out those nations before you. 13 You must be blameless before the LORD your God. 14 The nations you will dispossess listen to those who practice sorcery or divination. But as for you, the LORD your God has not permitted you to do so."

So here is the situation.

Saul sinned and didn't repent. He went further and further away from God. Now he is faced with a huge army of the fierce Philistines. As you know, the game was "winner take all." If you won, you got land, wealth, servants, herds, prestige, power and on and on.

If you lost, you lost all of that, plus your own life. The stakes could not have been higher.

I Samuel 28:4 "The Philistines set up their camp at Shunem, and Saul gathered all the army of Israel and camped at Gilboa. 5 When Saul saw the vast Philistine army, he became frantic with fear. 6 He asked the Lord what he should do, but the Lord refused to answer him, either by dreams or by sacred lots[a] or by the prophets."

Saul's credit with God is all used up. That store is empty!

Well, let's cross over to the dark side! That would be better than losing everything, right?

7 "Saul then said to his advisers, “Find a woman who is a medium, so I can go and ask her what to do.”His advisers replied, “There is a medium at Endor.”

First of all, it did not seem to take Saul a New York minute to decide to consult a medium. Secondly, although God had strictly prohibited it, everyone seemed to know about this witch, and even where she lived. Interesting!

8 "So Saul disguised himself by wearing ordinary clothing instead of his royal robes. Then he went to the woman’s home at night, accompanied by two of his men.

“I have to talk to a man who has died,” he said. “Will you call up his spirit for me?”

9 “Are you trying to get me killed?” the woman demanded. “You know that Saul has outlawed all the mediums and all who consult the spirits of the dead. Why are you setting a trap for me?”

10 But Saul took an oath in the name of the Lord and promised, “As surely as the Lord lives, nothing bad will happen to you for doing this.”

So the only one objecting to all this is the medium herself!

And Saul promises her that no harm will come to her. And he takes an oath in the name of the Lord!!!

No Saul, no. Don't do it. No, Saul.

No...

Saturday, April 24, 2010

The sensitive poet who wrote beautiful music and sang intimate prayers to God.



The sensitive poet who wrote beautiful music and sang intimate prayers to God.

This was written during the time he was hiding from Saul. Perhaps the very time when he was building up his army and raiding villages...

Psalm 17

A prayer of David.

1 "O Lord, hear my plea for justice.
Listen to my cry for help.
Pay attention to my prayer,
for it comes from honest lips.
2 Declare me innocent,
for you see those who do right.

3 You have tested my thoughts and examined my heart in the night.
You have scrutinized me and found nothing wrong.
I am determined not to sin in what I say.
4 I have followed your commands,
which keep me from following cruel and evil people.
5 My steps have stayed on your path;
I have not wavered from following you.

6 I am praying to you because I know you will answer, O God.
Bend down and listen as I pray.
7 Show me your unfailing love in wonderful ways.
By your mighty power you rescue
those who seek refuge from their enemies.
8 Guard me as you would guard your own eyes.[a]
Hide me in the shadow of your wings.

9 Protect me from wicked people who attack me,
from murderous enemies who surround me.
10 They are without pity.
Listen to their boasting!
11 They track me down and surround me,
watching for the chance to throw me to the ground.
12 They are like hungry lions, eager to tear me apart—
like young lions hiding in ambush.

13 Arise, O Lord!
Stand against them, and bring them to their knees!
Rescue me from the wicked with your sword!
14 By the power of your hand, O Lord,
destroy those who look to this world for their reward.

But satisfy the hunger of your treasured ones.
May their children have plenty,
leaving an inheritance for their descendants.
15 Because I am righteous, I will see you.
When I awake, I will see you face to face and be satisfied."

The sensitive poet who wrote beautiful music and sang intimate prayers to God!

A Ruthless Ruler Rises

David is later called "A man after God's own heart."

But he clearly refined and perfected his craft.

In his case, his talent, his path to power, his ability to get on top and stay on top, was to win wars. If you want to put it more crassly, his job was to kill people. Lots of people...

1 Samuel 27:1 "But David kept thinking to himself, “Someday Saul is going to get me. The best thing I can do is escape to the Philistines. Then Saul will stop hunting for me in Israelite territory, and I will finally be safe.”

2 So David took his 600 men and went over and joined Achish son of Maoch, the king of Gath. 3 David and his men and their families settled there with Achish at Gath. David brought his two wives along with him—Ahinoam from Jezreel and Abigail, Nabal’s widow from Carmel. 4 Word soon reached Saul that David had fled to Gath, so he stopped hunting for him.

5 One day David said to Achish, “If it is all right with you, we would rather live in one of the country towns instead of here in the royal city.”

6 So Achish gave him the town of Ziklag (which still belongs to the kings of Judah to this day), 7 and they lived there among the Philistines for a year and four months.

8 David and his men spent their time raiding the Geshurites, the Girzites, and the Amalekites—people who had lived near Shur, toward the land of Egypt, since ancient times. 9 David did not leave one person alive in the villages he attacked. He took the sheep, goats, cattle, donkeys, camels, and clothing before returning home to see King Achish.

10 “Where did you make your raid today?” Achish would ask.

And David would reply, “Against the south of Judah, the Jerahmeelites, and the Kenites.”

11 No one was left alive to come to Gath and tell where he had really been. This happened again and again while he was living among the Philistines. 12 Achish believed David and thought to himself, “By now the people of Israel must hate him bitterly. Now he will have to stay here and serve me forever!”

David got richer and richer during this time. And perfected the craft of "leave no prisoner" type warfare.

David would later be known as the "Warrior King"

He conquered all the cities, states and countries around Israel and made them pay heavy taxes. Financial slavery if you will.

How does all this square with the sensitive poet who wrote beautiful music and sang intimate prayers to God?

I'm not sure, really.

I guess life on this planet it a tad more complicated than the neat Sunday School stories we are told as children...

Thursday, April 22, 2010

She is fine - oh yeah, She is fine - oh yeah, She is mighty mighty mighty mighty fine...


Word reached David that the old man Nabal had croaked.

He was so sad.

SOOOO sad...

39 "When David heard that Nabal was dead, he said, “Praise the Lord, who has avenged the insult I received from Nabal and has kept me from doing it myself. Nabal has received the punishment for his sin.”

OK. Maybe not!

After a long time of pondering and considering and consulting and praying about it...

"Then David sent messengers to Abigail to ask her to become his wife."

There is no pause in the text between these two events. Its like, "David - Nabal died." "Praise the Lord, go ask Abigail if she will marry me."

Just as surprising as his quick decision was her quick response.

40 "When the messengers arrived at Carmel, they told Abigail, “David has sent us to take you back to marry him.”

41 She bowed low to the ground and responded, “I, your servant, would be happy to marry David. I would even be willing to become a slave, washing the feet of his servants!” 42 Quickly getting ready, she took along five of her servant girls as attendants, mounted her donkey, and went with David’s messengers. And so she became his wife."

Wow! Can you spell c-h-e-m-i-s-t-r-y !!!

Now it wasn't all so romantic. She was David's second wife. Then he quickly picked up wife number three.

 43 "David also married Ahinoam from Jezreel, making both of them his wives."

Then he lost wife number one.

 44 "Saul, meanwhile, had given his daughter Michal, David’s wife, to a man from Gallim named Palti son of Laish."

She would later become one of 6 wives, and sharing him with at least 10 concubines. So the story has a definate hollywood pattern to it.

Sizzling attraction and hot romance to start with.

Not so great in the end...

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Women are weak

Look at her there, down on her knees, begging for her life!

Back home, Nabal, her husband is a rugged he-man. No kowtowing for him! He is having a big harvest celebration, and he is "drinking like a man", feeling no pain, servants running to a fro, obeying his every command.

23 "When Abigail saw David, she quickly got off her donkey and bowed low before him. 24 She fell at his feet and said, “I accept all blame in this matter, my lord. Please listen to what I have to say. 25 I know Nabal is a wicked and ill-tempered man; please don’t pay any attention to him. He is a fool, just as his name suggests.[d] But I never even saw the young men you sent."

"I accept all the blame in this matter, my lord." How many thousands of times has a variation of this statement been made by the wife or child of the alchoholic? Abigail is grovelling, trying to patch things up. Trying to fix a problem she did not create.

A little praise and flattery couldn't hurt.

26 “Now, my lord, as surely as the Lord lives and you yourself live, since the Lord has kept you from murdering and taking vengeance into your own hands, let all your enemies and those who try to harm you be as cursed as Nabal is."

How about some gifts?

 27 "And here is a present that I, your servant, have brought to you and your young men. 28 Please forgive me if I have offended you in any way. The Lord will surely reward you with a lasting dynasty, for you are fighting the Lord’s battles. And you have not done wrong throughout your entire life.

29 “Even when you are chased by those who seek to kill you, your life is safe in the care of the Lord your God, secure in his treasure pouch! But the lives of your enemies will disappear like stones shot from a sling! 30 When the Lord has done all he promised and has made you leader of Israel, 31 don’t let this be a blemish on your record. Then your conscience won’t have to bear the staggering burden of needless bloodshed and vengeance. And when the Lord has done these great things for you, please remember me, your servant!”

She looks down. A few tears fall. Her sensuous lower lip is quivering. David can see that her neck and cheeks are flushed.

32 "David replied to Abigail, “Praise the Lord, the God of Israel, who has sent you to meet me today! 33 Thank God for your good sense! Bless you for keeping me from murder and from carrying out vengeance with my own hands. 34 For I swear by the Lord, the God of Israel, who has kept me from hurting you, that if you had not hurried out to meet me, not one of Nabal’s men would still be alive tomorrow morning.” 35 Then David accepted her present and told her, “Return home in peace. I have heard what you said. We will not kill your husband.”

It works! Disaster is averted. She returns home to find her husband in high spirits...

36 "When Abigail arrived home, she found that Nabal was throwing a big party and was celebrating like a king. He was very drunk, so she didn’t tell him anything about her meeting with David until dawn the next day. 37 In the morning when Nabal was sober, his wife told him what had happened. As a result he had a stroke,[e] and he lay paralyzed on his bed like a stone. 38 About ten days later, the Lord struck him, and he died."

Oops! Who is SO strong? SO brave? SO macho?

Nabal keels over dead.

And who is SO weak? Grovelling in the dust? Crying? Bringing gifts to an outlaw?

Abigail lives to see another day.

Dealing with Guerrillas


I was born and raised in Colombia, South America. The people are warm, and gentle and kind. However, two thirds of the country is jungle, and wild. Wild geographically, wild as far as the jungle growth goes, and wild in the political, military and economic sense.

"Guerrillas in Colombia have been formed by a body of fighters engaging in mobile asymmetric irregular warfare, also known as guerrilla warfare, usually in opposition to the Government of Colombia or any other established authority. The oldest and largest currently operational is the FARC-EP (Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias Colombiana)." Wiki

A long time ago the FARC had philosophical underpinnings in communism. Now it is just a large, organized gang of thugs.

"FARC receives most of its funding -which has been estimated to average some $300 million per year- from taxation of the illegal drug trade, ransom kidnappings, bank robberies, and extortion of large landholders, multinational corporations, and agribusiness. From taxation of illegal drugs alone, FARC has been estimated to receive approximately 60 to 100 million dollars per year.[33][99]" Wiki

In today's story David has become a guerrilla warrior. Because king Saul and all the army is after him, he has formed his own rag rag army of ruffians. Although he is a righteous man, his system is like all guerrilla warriors. "I saw you. You have money. We have lots of men and weapons. We didn't harm you, so pay us money. If you do not pay us money we will harm you. Big time..." Not a very righteous system!

1 Samuel 25:1 "Then David moved down to the wilderness of Maon.[a] 2 There was a wealthy man from Maon who owned property near the town of Carmel. He had 3,000 sheep and 1,000 goats, and it was sheep-shearing time. 3 This man’s name was Nabal, and his wife, Abigail, was a sensible and beautiful woman. But Nabal, a descendant of Caleb, was crude and mean in all his dealings.

4 When David heard that Nabal was shearing his sheep, 5 he sent ten of his young men to Carmel with this message for Nabal: 6 “Peace and prosperity to you, your family, and everything you own! 7 I am told that it is sheep-shearing time. While your shepherds stayed among us near Carmel, we never harmed them, and nothing was ever stolen from them. 8 Ask your own men, and they will tell you this is true. So would you be kind to us, since we have come at a time of celebration? Please share any provisions you might have on hand with us and with your friend David.” 9 David’s young men gave this message to Nabal in David’s name, and they waited for a reply.

10 “Who is this fellow David?” Nabal sneered to the young men. “Who does this son of Jesse think he is? There are lots of servants these days who run away from their masters. 11 Should I take my bread and my water and my meat that I’ve slaughtered for my shearers and give it to a band of outlaws who come from who knows where?”

12 So David’s young men returned and told him what Nabal had said. 13 “Get your swords!” was David’s reply as he strapped on his own. Then 400 men started off with David, and 200 remained behind to guard their equipment."

400 men. Fully armed. Coming to pillage and destroy because a rich man had not paid up! Scary!!

God had a bigger purpose in all this. He was training David to be the Warrior King who would establish the Kingdom of Israel in the midst of a violent and hostile territory.

But over in Nabal's household, there was at least one person who was scared to death!

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

What if we could see inside?


In the movie "What Women Want", Mel Gibson begins to be able to hear what women think. At first it annoys him, then it is a terrific advantage, then he loses the "gift". The movie wasn't as hilarious as the plot would lead you to believe, but the idea was certainly interesting.

With most Bible stories we get the facts, but we don't get to listen in to the characters inner thinking, and reactions and fears.

In the story today, we get a rare treat. David, the poet, the song writer, gives us a song - a prayer - that reveals what he was experiencing inside. Saul is king, and Saul has martialled the army to kill David.

David is on the run - for his very life!

Read what he experienced inside, in the most private thoughts and prayers of his life...

Psalm 27


A psalm of David.

1 "The Lord is my light and my salvation—
so why should I be afraid?
The Lord is my fortress, protecting me from danger,
so why should I tremble?
2 When evil people come to devour me,
when my enemies and foes attack me,
they will stumble and fall.
3 Though a mighty army surrounds me,
my heart will not be afraid.
Even if I am attacked,
I will remain confident.

4 "The one thing I ask of the Lord—
the thing I seek most—
is to live in the house of the Lord all the days of my life,
delighting in the Lord’s perfections
and meditating in his Temple.
5 For he will conceal me there when troubles come;
he will hide me in his sanctuary.
He will place me out of reach on a high rock.
6 Then I will hold my head high
above my enemies who surround me.
At his sanctuary I will offer sacrifices with shouts of joy,
singing and praising the Lord with music.

7 "Hear me as I pray, O Lord.
Be merciful and answer me!
8 My heart has heard you say, “Come and talk with me.”
And my heart responds, “Lord, I am coming.”
9 Do not turn your back on me.
Do not reject your servant in anger.
You have always been my helper.
Don’t leave me now; don’t abandon me,
O God of my salvation!
10 Even if my father and mother abandon me,
the Lord will hold me close.

11 "Teach me how to live, O Lord.
Lead me along the right path,
for my enemies are waiting for me.
12 Do not let me fall into their hands.
For they accuse me of things I’ve never done;
with every breath they threaten me with violence.
13 Yet I am confident I will see the Lord’s goodness
while I am here in the land of the living.

14 "Wait patiently for the Lord.
Be brave and courageous.
Yes, wait patiently for the Lord."

How different from our prayers, of "make me rich", "make me comfortable", "make me well"!

The most astonishing prayers to me are when a group is going overseas on a mission trip. The prayers are often, "make the travel safe", "keep everyone healthy", "don't let there be any delays in the flights" "may everyone have a good time".

Really? That's the most important thing to pray for?

Read Psalm 27 again. It might change your prayer life...

Monday, April 19, 2010

How do you interpret circumstances?

How do you interpret things that happen to you?

1. One of the sales snippets that I learned recently is this one:
"I am an opportunity magnet"

It puts you in the mindset to recognize and act on the opportunity to help some one buy or sell.

However, if you call 100 people, the magnetism seems to increase significantly.

2. If you are praying for money, needing money, looking for money - and you see a $100 bill on the sidewalk - how do you interpret that?

Do you seize upon it joyfully and breathe a thanks to God, or do you do your due diligence to find the rightful owner and return the money?

3. What if someone has put you down, or even hurt you - lets say at work, and you have an unexpected opportunity to give them an informal review. Or better yet, you are involved in the project that is being questioned by the higher ups, and they are ASKING you for input about this very person?

Are you going to be fair and accurate, or is this a God given chance to tip the scales in your favor?

In yesterday's story it would be all but impossible to conclude that God had put your enemy into your very hands.

Saul had been ramping up his hunt for David and the intensity of his efforts to kill him. At this point he had abandoned all subtlety and had the entire country, the apparatus of the state, and even the entire military - all employed to kill David.

To add to the unusualness of the circumstances, David had already been anointed as king by God's messenger!

3 "At the place where the road passes some sheepfolds, Saul went into a cave to relieve himself. But as it happened, David and his men were hiding farther back in that very cave!"
David and his men hide in a large cave. Saul and the army are chasing him. The entire army halts. Saul has to relieve himself. The army waits outside. Gaurds are posted outside. Inside, Saul squats - alone and defenseless.

David's men state the obvious -

4 “Now’s your opportunity!” David’s men whispered to him. “Today the Lord is telling you, ‘I will certainly put your enemy into your power, to do with as you wish.’”

David creeps forward, sword in hand.

At the last minute, he decides it is not up to him to kill the king. He cuts off a piece of Sauls robe.

If he had spiritualized the opportunity, he could only have come to one conclusion. God did this. God sent David and his men into the cave. God sent the urge to Saul just at the right time. God put Saul into the cave where David was. God did all of this. David's prayers were answered!

But David did not kill Saul.

How do YOU interpret circumstances?

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Saul Stinks - David Slinks

You couldn't make this stuff up!

1 "After Saul returned from fighting the Philistines, he was told that David had gone into the wilderness of En-gedi. 2 So Saul chose 3,000 elite troops from all Israel and went to search for David and his men near the rocks of the wild goats."

They are out in the country. When the soldiers need to "go", they just "go." Well, Saul was the king. So when he needed to "go", the whole army has to stop and wait. He gets to go inside a cave with armed gaurds standing outside.

Just happens that this cave has some unusual circumstances!


3 "At the place where the road passes some sheepfolds, Saul went into a cave to relieve himself. But as it happened, David and his men were hiding farther back in that very cave!

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

5 But then David’s conscience began bothering him because he had cut Saul’s robe. 6 “The Lord knows I shouldn’t have done that to my lord the king,” he said to his men. “The Lord forbid that I should do this to my lord the king and attack the Lord’s anointed one, for the Lord himself has chosen him.” 7 So David restrained his men and did not let them kill Saul."

David has a conscience? How can you be a political leader and have a conscience? We have certainly outgrown that little nuisance now a days!

"After Saul had left the cave and gone on his way, 8 David came out and shouted after him, “My lord the king!” And when Saul looked around, David bowed low before him.

9 Then he shouted to Saul, “Why do you listen to the people who say I am trying to harm you? 10 This very day you can see with your own eyes it isn’t true. For the Lord placed you at my mercy back there in the cave. Some of my men told me to kill you, but I spared you. For I said, ‘I will never harm the king—he is the Lord’s anointed one.’ 11 Look, my father, at what I have in my hand. It is a piece of the hem of your robe! I cut it off, but I didn’t kill you. This proves that I am not trying to harm you and that I have not sinned against you, even though you have been hunting for me to kill me.

12 “May the Lord judge between us. Perhaps the Lord will punish you for what you are trying to do to me, but I will never harm you. 13 As that old proverb says, ‘From evil people come evil deeds.’ So you can be sure I will never harm you. 14 Who is the king of Israel trying to catch anyway? Should he spend his time chasing one who is as worthless as a dead dog or a single flea? 15 May the Lord therefore judge which of us is right and punish the guilty one. He is my advocate, and he will rescue me from your power!”

16 When David had finished speaking, Saul called back, “Is that really you, my son David?” Then he began to cry. 17 And he said to David, “You are a better man than I am, for you have repaid me good for evil. 18 Yes, you have been amazingly kind to me today, for when the Lord put me in a place where you could have killed me, you didn’t do it. 19 Who else would let his enemy get away when he had him in his power? May the Lord reward you well for the kindness you have shown me today. 20 And now I realize that you are surely going to be king, and that the kingdom of Israel will flourish under your rule. 21 Now swear to me by the Lord that when that happens you will not kill my family and destroy my line of descendants!”

22 So David promised this to Saul with an oath. Then Saul went home, but David and his men went back to their stronghold."

David had real character.

Saul was a true polititian. His word meant nothing at all.

But God is watching all...

Jealous Rage Leads to Outrageous Behavior

In today's story the king sinks to a new low.

David is a hunted man. He is told by a prophet to go back to his country. At this point the king is consumed by his quest to murder David, by any and all means.

6 "The news of his arrival in Judah soon reached Saul. At the time, the king was sitting beneath the tamarisk tree on the hill at Gibeah, holding his spear and surrounded by his officers.


7 “Listen here, you men of Benjamin!” Saul shouted to his officers when he heard the news. “Has that son of Jesse promised every one of you fields and vineyards? Has he promised to make you all generals and captains in his army?[c] 8 Is that why you have conspired against me? For not one of you told me when my own son made a solemn pact with the son of Jesse. You’re not even sorry for me. Think of it! My own son—encouraging him to kill me, as he is trying to do this very day!”

Saul's jealosy and paranoia have led him to lie. David is not out to kill Saul the king. Saul is out to murder David - for no other reason than the fact that David is brave and outstanding.

9 "Then Doeg the Edomite, who was standing there with Saul’s men, spoke up. “When I was at Nob,” he said, “I saw the son of Jesse talking to the priest, Ahimelech son of Ahitub. 10 Ahimelech consulted the Lord for him. Then he gave him food and the sword of Goliath the Philistine.”

11 King Saul immediately sent for Ahimelech and all his family, who served as priests at Nob. 12 When they arrived, Saul shouted at him, “Listen to me, you son of Ahitub!”

“What is it, my king?” Ahimelech asked.

13 “Why have you and the son of Jesse conspired against me?” Saul demanded. “Why did you give him food and a sword? Why have you consulted God for him? Why have you encouraged him to kill me, as he is trying to do this very day?”

The lie is repeated. Saul knows it is not true. But he is the king. No one will tell him he is wrong.

Ahimelech is truly innocent. He is accidentally drawn into a nasty political conflict.

14 “But sir,” Ahimelech replied, “is anyone among all your servants as faithful as David, your son-in-law? Why, he is the captain of your bodyguard and a highly honored member of your household! 15 This was certainly not the first time I had consulted God for him! May the king not accuse me and my family in this matter, for I knew nothing at all of any plot against you.”

Saul is simply blind with rage. He sinks to a new low...

16 “You will surely die, Ahimelech, along with your entire family!” the king shouted. 17 And he ordered his bodyguards, “Kill these priests of the Lord, for they are allies and conspirators with David! They knew he was running away from me, but they didn’t tell me!”

"But Saul’s men refused to kill the Lord’s priests."

Apparently Saul had crossed the line in his own soul. He no longer feared or respected God. He was willing to kill God's men - the priests. Saul's men still respected and feared God more than they respected and feared their crazy enraged king!

18 "Then the king said to Doeg, “You do it.” So Doeg the Edomite turned on them and killed them that day, eighty-five priests in all, still wearing their priestly garments. 19 Then he went to Nob, the town of the priests, and killed the priests’ families—men and women, children and babies—and all the cattle, donkeys, sheep, and goats.

20 Only Abiathar, one of the sons of Ahimelech, escaped and fled to David. 21 When he told David that Saul had killed the priests of the Lord, 22 David exclaimed, “I knew it! When I saw Doeg the Edomite there that day, I knew he was sure to tell Saul. Now I have caused the death of all your father’s family. 23 Stay here with me, and don’t be afraid. I will protect you with my own life, for the same person wants to kill us both.”

Saul is now massacring innocent people. He is willing to kill God's chosen workers - the priests. He is willing to kill their innocent wives, their innocent children.
 
I have a feeling God is not particularly happy with this raging maniac!

Thursday, April 15, 2010

No Where Left to Hide

David is running for his life.

There was no where in the land left for him to hide.

He goes - alone - to the priest, to get some food.

6 "Since there was no other food available, the priest gave him the holy bread—the Bread of the Presence that was placed before the Lord in the Tabernacle. It had just been replaced that day with fresh bread.

7 Now Doeg the Edomite, Saul’s chief herdsman, was there that day, having been detained before the Lord.[b]

8 David asked Ahimelech, “Do you have a spear or sword? The king’s business was so urgent that I didn’t even have time to grab a weapon!”

9 “I only have the sword of Goliath the Philistine, whom you killed in the valley of Elah,” the priest replied. “It is wrapped in a cloth behind the ephod. Take that if you want it, for there is nothing else here.”

“There is nothing like it!” David replied. “Give it to me!”

So David decides to cross over to the enemy side to hide from Saul. Get this - he goes to the Gathites with the sword he took from Goliath (of Gath)!

10 "So David escaped from Saul and went to King Achish of Gath. 11 But the officers of Achish were unhappy about his being there. “Isn’t this David, the king of the land?” they asked. “Isn’t he the one the people honor with dances, singing,

‘Saul has killed his thousands,
and David his ten thousands’?”

12 David heard these comments and was very afraid of what King Achish of Gath might do to him. 13 So he pretended to be insane, scratching on doors and drooling down his beard.

14 Finally, King Achish said to his men, “Must you bring me a madman? 15 We already have enough of them around here! Why should I let someone like this be my guest?”

I think we call that - "crazy like a fox!"

David's Secret Weapon

How would you cope if your father in law, the king, was utilizing all the power of the state to assassinate you?

Besides being a light sleeper and not staying in the same place every night, how would you internalize it?

Bitterness against God? Anger? Poor little me, attitude? Hard hearted contempt for life, and people and friends?

David had a secret weapon.

Music!
Poetry!
Prayer!
And an intimate relationship with God.

Read the words to this amazing song/prayer/poem...

Psalm 59


For the choir director:
A psalm of David, regarding the time Saul sent soldiers to watch David’s house in order to kill him.
To be sung to the tune “Do Not Destroy!”

1 "Rescue me from my enemies, O God.
Protect me from those who have come to destroy me.
2 Rescue me from these criminals;
save me from these murderers.
3 They have set an ambush for me.
Fierce enemies are out there waiting, Lord,
though I have not sinned or offended them.
4 I have done nothing wrong,
yet they prepare to attack me.
Wake up! See what is happening and help me!
5 O Lord God of Heaven’s Armies, the God of Israel,
wake up and punish those hostile nations.
Show no mercy to wicked traitors.

Interlude (you could do a hot harp riff in here)

6 They come out at night,
snarling like vicious dogs
as they prowl the streets.
7 Listen to the filth that comes from their mouths;
their words cut like swords.
“After all, who can hear us?” they sneer.
8 But Lord, you laugh at them.
You scoff at all the hostile nations.
9 You are my strength; I wait for you to rescue me,
for you, O God, are my fortress.
10 In his unfailing love, my God will stand with me.
He will let me look down in triumph on all my enemies.

11 Don’t kill them, for my people soon forget such lessons;
stagger them with your power, and bring them to their knees,
O Lord our shield.
12 Because of the sinful things they say,
because of the evil that is on their lips,
let them be captured by their pride,
their curses, and their lies.
13 Destroy them in your anger!
Wipe them out completely!
Then the whole world will know
that God reigns in Israel.

Interlude (let the sax wail right here)

14 My enemies come out at night,
snarling like vicious dogs
as they prowl the streets.
15 They scavenge for food
but go to sleep unsatisfied.

16 But as for me, I will sing about your power.
Each morning I will sing with joy about your unfailing love.
For you have been my refuge,
a place of safety when I am in distress.
17 O my Strength, to you I sing praises,
for you, O God, are my refuge,
the God who shows me unfailing love."

When you sing it, remember, the tune is the same as "Do Not Destroy".
Don't be mixing melodies!

Assassination!

Saul is trying to kill David.
He asks his family and household servants to kill David.
He tries to kill David by impaling him to the wall when he is playing his harp (FOR Saul).
He sends his TROOPS to kill David.

Sound obssessed? "If only I could kill David. My troubles would all be over... I MUST kill David..."

1 Samuel 19:1 "Saul now urged his servants and his son Jonathan to assassinate David. But Jonathan, because of his strong affection for David, 2 told him what his father was planning. “Tomorrow morning,” he warned him, “you must find a hiding place out in the fields. 3 I’ll ask my father to go out there with me, and I’ll talk to him about you. Then I’ll tell you everything I can find out.”

4 The next morning Jonathan spoke with his father about David, saying many good things about him. “The king must not sin against his servant David,” Jonathan said. “He’s never done anything to harm you. He has always helped you in any way he could. 5 Have you forgotten about the time he risked his life to kill the Philistine giant and how the Lord brought a great victory to all Israel as a result? You were certainly happy about it then. Why should you murder an innocent man like David? There is no reason for it at all!”

6 So Saul listened to Jonathan and vowed, “As surely as the Lord lives, David will not be killed.”

7 Afterward Jonathan called David and told him what had happened. Then he brought David to Saul, and David served in the court as before.

8 War broke out again after that, and David led his troops against the Philistines. He attacked them with such fury that they all ran away.

9 But one day when Saul was sitting at home, with spear in hand, the tormenting spirit[d] from the Lord suddenly came upon him again. As David played his harp, 10 Saul hurled his spear at David. But David dodged out of the way, and leaving the spear stuck in the wall, he fled and escaped into the night.

11 Then Saul sent troops to watch David’s house. They were told to kill David when he came out the next morning. But Michal, David’s wife, warned him, “If you don’t escape tonight, you will be dead by morning.” 12 So she helped him climb out through a window, and he fled and escaped. 13 Then she took an idol[e] and put it in his bed, covered it with blankets, and put a cushion of goat’s hair at its head.

14 When the troops came to arrest David, she told them he was sick and couldn’t get out of bed.

15 But Saul sent the troops back to get David. He ordered, “Bring him to me in his bed so I can kill him!” 16 But when they came to carry David out, they discovered that it was only an idol in the bed with a cushion of goat’s hair at its head.

17 “Why have you betrayed me like this and let my enemy escape?” Saul demanded of Michal.

“I had to,” Michal replied. “He threatened to kill me if I didn’t help him.”

18 So David escaped and went to Ramah to see Samuel, and he told him all that Saul had done to him. Then Samuel took David with him to live at Naioth. 19 When the report reached Saul that David was at Naioth in Ramah, 20 he sent troops to capture him. But when they arrived and saw Samuel leading a group of prophets who were prophesying, the Spirit of God came upon Saul’s men, and they also began to prophesy. 21 When Saul heard what had happened, he sent other troops, but they, too, prophesied! The same thing happened a third time. 22 Finally, Saul himself went to Ramah and arrived at the great well in Secu. “Where are Samuel and David?” he demanded.

“They are at Naioth in Ramah,” someone told him.

23 But on the way to Naioth in Ramah the Spirit of God came even upon Saul, and he, too, began to prophesy all the way to Naioth! 24 He tore off his clothes and lay naked on the ground all day and all night, prophesying in the presence of Samuel. The people who were watching exclaimed, “What? Is even Saul a prophet?”

David be nimble,
David be quick
David duck fast
Or a spear will stick!

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

My Father-in-law Hates Me!

How do you spell
"d-y-s-f-u-n-c-t-i-o-n-a-l  f-a-m-i-l-y?"

David does not appear to be politically ambitious.

David Earns Saul’s Daughter (the first time)

He comes off the fields to bring food to his older brothers - who are soldiers on the front lines. A challenge is being passed down the lines. "Anyone who will kill this monster giant can have the king's daughter as wife."

David killed Goliath, not because of the marriage opportunity, but because it rankled him that the Lord's army was stuck in front of a mere man!

David killed Goliath. He didn't claim the daughter, and Saul never made good his promise.

David Earns Saul’s Daughter (the second time)

17 "One day Saul said to David, “I am ready to give you my older daughter, Merab, as your wife. But first you must prove yourself to be a real warrior by fighting the Lord’s battles.” For Saul thought, “I’ll send him out against the Philistines and let them kill him rather than doing it myself.”

So to Saul, his daughter is mere "bait". He does not seem to care about her or her feelings at all. In this case, the lure of marrying her would send a growing political threat to his death!

18 “Who am I, and what is my family in Israel that I should be the king’s son-in-law?” David exclaimed. “My father’s family is nothing!” 19 So when the time came for Saul to give his daughter Merab in marriage to David, he gave her instead to Adriel, a man from Meholah."

Promise two - broken.

20 "In the meantime, Saul’s daughter Michal had fallen in love with David, and Saul was delighted when he heard about it. 21 “Here’s another chance to see him killed by the Philistines!” Saul said to himself. But to David he said, “Today you have a second chance to become my son-in-law!”

This time Saul DOES consider his daughter's feelings. However, he wants to use her real infatuation to cause the death of the object of her affections. Nice Dad!!

22 "Then Saul told his men to say to David, “The king really likes you, and so do we. Why don’t you accept the king’s offer and become his son-in-law?”

23 When Saul’s men said these things to David, he replied, “How can a poor man from a humble family afford the bride price for the daughter of a king?”

24 When Saul’s men reported this back to the king, 25 he told them, “Tell David that all I want for the bride price is 100 Philistine foreskins! Vengeance on my enemies is all I really want.” But what Saul had in mind was that David would be killed in the fight."

David Earns Saul’s Daughter (the third time)

26 "David was delighted to accept the offer. Before the time limit expired, 27 he and his men went out and killed 200 Philistines. Then David fulfilled the king’s requirement by presenting all their foreskins to him."

Saul's goal - lure David to his death.

David's problem - he was not worthy to be the king's son-in-law. And there was no way he could afford the dowry that a daughter of the king would command!

Saul's solution? - Ask David to kill 100 enemy soldiers, thus ensuring his death!

David's solution? - Well, If THAT'S ALL YOU WANT! - So he went out and killed 200 enemy soldiers.

Promise number 3? - Kept!

 "So Saul gave his daughter Michal to David to be his wife.

28 When Saul realized that the Lord was with David and how much his daughter Michal loved him, 29 Saul became even more afraid of him, and he remained David’s enemy for the rest of his life."

From David's perspective? "The good news is that I married into the king's family and my wife is crazy about me!"

From David's perspective? "The BAD news is that I married into the king's family and my father-in-law (the king) HATES me!"

30 "Every time the commanders of the Philistines attacked, David was more successful against them than all the rest of Saul’s officers. So David’s name became very famous."

The first king of Israel was already pioneering what it was like to be rich and miserable. His son was David's best friend. His second daughter was married to David and was madly in love with him. And Saul was jealous of him, afraid of him, and hated him!

The Celebration

David moves up the ranks

1 Samuel 18:5 "Whatever Saul asked David to do, David did it successfully. So Saul made him a commander over the men of war, an appointment that was welcomed by the people and Saul’s officers alike."

The People celebrate the victory - and their new hero!

6 "When the victorious Israelite army was returning home after David had killed the Philistine, women from all the towns of Israel came out to meet King Saul. They sang and danced for joy with tambourines and cymbals.[a] 7 This was their song:

“Saul has killed his thousands,
and David his ten thousands!”

The Victory was a Personal Defeat for Saul. He is Fuming!

8 "This made Saul very angry. “What’s this?” he said. “They credit David with ten thousands and me with only thousands. Next they’ll be making him their king!” 9 So from that time on Saul kept a jealous eye on David."

Saul tries to kill the Hero of Israel

10 "The very next day a tormenting spirit[b] from God overwhelmed Saul, and he began to rave in his house like a madman. David was playing the harp, as he did each day. But Saul had a spear in his hand, 11 and he suddenly hurled it at David, intending to pin him to the wall. But David escaped him twice."

Saul, who has all the power, all the army - is afraid of David!

12 "Saul was then afraid of David, for the Lord was with David and had turned away from Saul. 13 Finally, Saul sent him away and appointed him commander over 1,000 men, and David faithfully led his troops into battle.

14 David continued to succeed in everything he did, for the Lord was with him. 15 When Saul recognized this, he became even more afraid of him. 16 But all Israel and Judah loved David because he was so successful at leading his troops into battle."

One of the oddest segments of history ensues.

Saul is truly bipolar at this point in his life.

He loves David/ He tries to kill David.

He promotes David/ He hates David.

He gives David his daughter as wife to reward David/ He later takes her away.

The Love Hate Relationship

Israel and the Philistines were at war.

Philistines put out their biggest guy.

Saul was Israel's biggest guy.

So the taunts were very personal. Send your best guy. Whoever wins, gets everything. Saul was frozen with fear!

David sees the impasse and is disturbed. God's name is being tarnished. And that is not OK. David goes out to meet the giant.

45 "David replied to the Philistine, “You come to me with sword, spear, and javelin, but I come to you in the name of the Lord of Heaven’s Armies—the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defied. 46 Today the Lord will conquer you, and I will kill you and cut off your head. And then I will give the dead bodies of your men to the birds and wild animals, and the whole world will know that there is a God in Israel! 47 And everyone assembled here will know that the Lord rescues his people, but not with sword and spear. This is the Lord’s battle, and he will give you to us!”

Big words from a little boy!

48 "As Goliath moved closer to attack, David quickly ran out to meet him. 49 Reaching into his shepherd’s bag and taking out a stone, he hurled it with his sling and hit the Philistine in the forehead. The stone sank in, and Goliath stumbled and fell face down on the ground.

50 "So David triumphed over the Philistine with only a sling and a stone, for he had no sword. 51 Then David ran over and pulled Goliath’s sword from its sheath. David used it to kill him and cut off his head.

"When the Philistines saw that their champion was dead, they turned and ran. 52 Then the men of Israel and Judah gave a great shout of triumph and rushed after the Philistines, chasing them as far as Gath and the gates of Ekron. The bodies of the dead and wounded Philistines were strewn all along the road from Shaaraim, as far as Gath and Ekron. 53 Then the Israelite army returned and plundered the deserted Philistine camp. 54 (David took the Philistine’s head to Jerusalem, but he stored the man’s armor in his own tent.)

55 As Saul watched David go out to fight the Philistine, he asked Abner, the commander of his army, “Abner, whose son is this young man?”

“I really don’t know,” Abner declared.

56 “Well, find out who he is!” the king told him.

57 As soon as David returned from killing Goliath, Abner brought him to Saul with the Philistine’s head still in his hand. 58 “Tell me about your father, young man,” Saul said.

And David replied, “His name is Jesse, and we live in Bethlehem.”

David won the battle for God, for Israel and for himself . Saul would live to see another day. But the victory for Israel was clearly a personal defeat for Saul.

Thus the love/hate relationship lurches one more step forward.

Music and the Tormented Soul

God needs to train David to be king.

How better to do it, then to take him from the fields with the sheep, and put him in the middle of the king's court!

One of David's talents was music. The tunes he developed out in the fields at night ended up being played for the highest person in the land.

14 "Now the Spirit of the Lord had left Saul, and the Lord sent a tormenting spirit[d] that filled him with depression and fear.

15 Some of Saul’s servants said to him, “A tormenting spirit from God is troubling you. 16 Let us find a good musician to play the harp whenever the tormenting spirit troubles you. He will play soothing music, and you will soon be well again.”

17 “All right,” Saul said. “Find me someone who plays well, and bring him here.”

18 One of the servants said to Saul, “One of Jesse’s sons from Bethlehem is a talented harp player. Not only that—he is a brave warrior, a man of war, and has good judgment. He is also a fine-looking young man, and the Lord is with him.”

9 So Saul sent messengers to Jesse to say, “Send me your son David, the shepherd.” 20 Jesse responded by sending David to Saul, along with a young goat, a donkey loaded with bread, and a wineskin full of wine.

21 So David went to Saul and began serving him. Saul loved David very much, and David became his armor bearer.

22 Then Saul sent word to Jesse asking, “Please let David remain in my service, for I am very pleased with him.”

23 And whenever the tormenting spirit from God troubled Saul, David would play the harp. Then Saul would feel better, and the tormenting spirit would go away."

Saul thought it was the music.

But his problem was spiritual, not psychological.

And the spirit of the Lord was with David...

For David's Harp music click here
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qZDgx2EFMq4

Next!

To God, Saul is history.

Doesn't appear that way. Saul has all the trappings of power, wealth, prestige, position, and authority. He is the king. His word goes.

Meanwhile God sends His servant Samuel to anoint a new king.

A dangerous mission this! If discovered, it would be declared treason. Samuel could lose his head!


1 Samuel 16:1 "Now the Lord said to Samuel, “You have mourned long enough for Saul. I have rejected him as king of Israel, so fill your flask with olive oil and go to Bethlehem. Find a man named Jesse who lives there, for I have selected one of his sons to be my king.”

2 "But Samuel asked, “How can I do that? If Saul hears about it, he will kill me.”

“Take a heifer with you,” the Lord replied, “and say that you have come to make a sacrifice to the Lord. 3 Invite Jesse to the sacrifice, and I will show you which of his sons to anoint for me.”

4 "So Samuel did as the Lord instructed. When he arrived at Bethlehem, the elders of the town came trembling to meet him. “What’s wrong?” they asked. “Do you come in peace?”

5 “Yes,” Samuel replied. “I have come to sacrifice to the Lord. Purify yourselves and come with me to the sacrifice.” Then Samuel performed the purification rite for Jesse and his sons and invited them to the sacrifice, too.

6 "When they arrived, Samuel took one look at Eliab and thought, “Surely this is the Lord’s anointed!”

7 "But the Lord said to Samuel, “Don’t judge by his appearance or height, for I have rejected him. The Lord doesn’t see things the way you see them. People judge by outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.”

8 "Then Jesse told his son Abinadab to step forward and walk in front of Samuel. But Samuel said, “This is not the one the Lord has chosen.” 9 Next Jesse summoned Shimea,[c] but Samuel said, “Neither is this the one the Lord has chosen.” 10 In the same way all seven of Jesse’s sons were presented to Samuel. But Samuel said to Jesse, “The Lord has not chosen any of these.” 11 Then Samuel asked, “Are these all the sons you have?”

“There is still the youngest,” Jesse replied. “But he’s out in the fields watching the sheep and goats.”

“Send for him at once,” Samuel said. “We will not sit down to eat until he arrives.”

12 "So Jesse sent for him. He was dark and handsome, with beautiful eyes.

"And the Lord said, “This is the one; anoint him.”

13 "So as David stood there among his brothers, Samuel took the flask of olive oil he had brought and anointed David with the oil. And the Spirit of the Lord came powerfully upon David from that day on. Then Samuel returned to Ramah."

There is a new king in the land.

And Saul does not even know...

Oops!

The Command.

1 Samuel 15:1 "One day Samuel said to Saul, “It was the Lord who told me to anoint you as king of his people, Israel. Now listen to this message from the Lord! 2 This is what the Lord of Heaven’s Armies has declared: I have decided to settle accounts with the nation of Amalek for opposing Israel when they came from Egypt. 3 Now go and completely destroy the entire Amalekite nation—men, women, children, babies, cattle, sheep, goats, camels, and donkeys.”

Pretty simple, right?

Brutal, but simple. Go and completely destroy the entire Amalekite nation.

Seems gory now, but then, the victor got everything. And the loser lost everything. And yes, everything was EVERYTHING including their house their wife and kids and their life.

Saul goes into battle and God upholds His end of the deal...

The Victory

4 "So Saul mobilized his army at Telaim. There were 200,000 soldiers from Israel and 10,000 men from Judah. 5 Then Saul and his army went to a town of the Amalekites and lay in wait in the valley.
7 Then Saul slaughtered the Amalekites from Havilah all the way to Shur, east of Egypt.

The Incomplete Obedience

 8 He captured Agag, the Amalekite king, but completely destroyed everyone else. 9 Saul and his men spared Agag’s life and kept the best of the sheep and goats, the cattle, the fat calves, and the lambs—everything, in fact, that appealed to them. They destroyed only what was worthless or of poor quality."

Oops!

It seemed like such a waste to destroy all that great booty.

After all, that was the normal spoils of war, right? Winner takes all!

10 "Then the Lord said to Samuel, 11 “I am sorry that I ever made Saul king, for he has not been loyal to me and has refused to obey my command.” Samuel was so deeply moved when he heard this that he cried out to the Lord all night.

The Chance to Come Clean

12 "Early the next morning Samuel went to find Saul. Someone told him, “Saul went to the town of Carmel to set up a monument to himself; then he went on to Gilgal.”

13 When Samuel finally found him, Saul greeted him cheerfully. “May the Lord bless you,” he said. “I have carried out the Lord’s command!”

14 “Then what is all the bleating of sheep and goats and the lowing of cattle I hear?” Samuel demanded.

15 “It’s true that the army spared the best of the sheep, goats, and cattle,” Saul admitted. “But they are going to sacrifice them to the Lord your God. We have destroyed everything else.”

The Judgement

16 "Then Samuel said to Saul, “Stop! Listen to what the Lord told me last night!”

“What did he tell you?” Saul asked.

17 "And Samuel told him, “Although you may think little of yourself, are you not the leader of the tribes of Israel? The Lord has anointed you king of Israel. 18 And the Lord sent you on a mission and told you, ‘Go and completely destroy the sinners, the Amalekites, until they are all dead.’ 19 Why haven’t you obeyed the Lord? Why did you rush for the plunder and do what was evil in the Lord’s sight?”

20 “But I did obey the Lord,” Saul insisted. “I carried out the mission he gave me. I brought back King Agag, but I destroyed everyone else. 21 Then my troops brought in the best of the sheep, goats, cattle, and plunder to sacrifice to the Lord your God in Gilgal.”

22 "But Samuel replied,

“What is more pleasing to the Lord:
your burnt offerings and sacrifices
or your obedience to his voice?
Listen! Obedience is better than sacrifice,
and submission is better than offering the fat of rams.
23 Rebellion is as sinful as witchcraft,
and stubbornness as bad as worshiping idols.
So because you have rejected the command of the Lord,
he has rejected you as king.”

Incomplete obedience!
Taking credit for what God did!
A healthy dose of self deception!
And Saul is "history"

He was given the opportunity to come clean.
Instead, he lost everything he had been so generously given.

Oh, it took a few years. But the axe had been laid to the root of the tree.

Saul's reign is over...

 Oops!

Military Success

Saul was now king, and fought a number of battles to establish the kingdom and defeat the enemies around.

47 "Now when Saul had secured his grasp on Israel’s throne, he fought against his enemies in every direction—against Moab, Ammon, Edom, the kings of Zobah, and the Philistines. And wherever he turned, he was victorious. 48 He performed great deeds and conquered the Amalekites, saving Israel from all those who had plundered them.

49 Saul’s sons included Jonathan, Ishbosheth, and Malkishua. He also had two daughters: Merab, who was older, and Michal. 50 Saul’s wife was Ahinoam, the daughter of Ahimaaz. The commander of Saul’s army was Abner, the son of Saul’s uncle Ner. 51 Saul’s father, Kish, and Abner’s father, Ner, were both sons of Abiel.

52 The Israelites fought constantly with the Philistines throughout Saul’s lifetime. So whenever Saul observed a young man who was brave and strong, he drafted him into his army."

A prosperous nation.

A wife and 5 kids.

What more could a man want?

Saul didn't seem to have a problem with money.

Didn't seem to have a problem with women.

Yet what happens next would define his life, his kingdom and his legacy...

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Chosen!

Saul is chosen.

He didn't seek to be king. God selected him and Samuel anointed him.

He was to be the first king of Israel.

1 Samuel 10:1 "Then Samuel took a flask of olive oil and poured it over Saul’s head. He kissed Saul and said, “I am doing this because the Lord has appointed you to be the ruler over Israel, his special possession. 2 When you leave me today, you will see two men beside Rachel’s tomb at Zelzah, on the border of Benjamin. They will tell you that the donkeys have been found and that your father has stopped worrying about them and is now worried about you. He is asking, ‘Have you seen my son?’

3 “When you get to the oak of Tabor, you will see three men coming toward you who are on their way to worship God at Bethel. One will be bringing three young goats, another will have three loaves of bread, and the third will be carrying a wineskin full of wine. 4 They will greet you and offer you two of the loaves, which you are to accept.

5 “When you arrive at Gibeah of God, where the garrison of the Philistines is located, you will meet a band of prophets coming down from the place of worship. They will be playing a harp, a tambourine, a flute, and a lyre, and they will be prophesying. 6 At that time the Spirit of the Lord will come powerfully upon you, and you will prophesy with them. You will be changed into a different person. 7 After these signs take place, do what must be done, for God is with you. 8 Then go down to Gilgal ahead of me. I will join you there to sacrifice burnt offerings and peace offerings. You must wait for seven days until I arrive and give you further instructions.”

9 As Saul turned and started to leave, God gave him a new heart, and all Samuel’s signs were fulfilled that day. 10 When Saul and his servant arrived at Gibeah, they saw a group of prophets coming toward them. Then the Spirit of God came powerfully upon Saul, and he, too, began to prophesy. 11 When those who knew Saul heard about it, they exclaimed, “What? Is even Saul a prophet? How did the son of Kish become a prophet?”

12 And one of those standing there said, “Can anyone become a prophet, no matter who his father is?” So that is the origin of the saying “Is even Saul a prophet?”

13 When Saul had finished prophesying, he went up to the place of worship. 14 “Where have you been?” Saul’s uncle asked him and his servant.

“We were looking for the donkeys,” Saul replied, “but we couldn’t find them. So we went to Samuel to ask him where they were.”

15 “Oh? And what did he say?” his uncle asked.

16 “He told us that the donkeys had already been found,” Saul replied. But Saul didn’t tell his uncle what Samuel said about the kingdom.

17 Later Samuel called all the people of Israel to meet before the Lord at Mizpah. 18 And he said, “This is what the Lord, the God of Israel, has declared: I brought you from Egypt and rescued you from the Egyptians and from all of the nations that were oppressing you. 19 But though I have rescued you from your misery and distress, you have rejected your God today and have said, ‘No, we want a king instead!’ Now, therefore, present yourselves before the Lord by tribes and clans.”

20 So Samuel brought all the tribes of Israel before the Lord, and the tribe of Benjamin was chosen by lot. 21 Then he brought each family of the tribe of Benjamin before the Lord, and the family of the Matrites was chosen. And finally Saul son of Kish was chosen from among them. But when they looked for him, he had disappeared! 22 So they asked the Lord, “Where is he?”

And the Lord replied, “He is hiding among the baggage.” 23 So they found him and brought him out, and he stood head and shoulders above anyone else.

24 Then Samuel said to all the people, “This is the man the Lord has chosen as your king. No one in all Israel is like him!”

And all the people shouted, “Long live the king!”

25 Then Samuel told the people what the rights and duties of a king were. He wrote them down on a scroll and placed it before the Lord. Then Samuel sent the people home again."

From lost son to king of Israel!

Quite a big couple of days for Saul, son of Kish!

Asses, Passes and the Big Beef


1 "There was a wealthy, influential man named Kish from the tribe of Benjamin. He was the son of Abiel, son of Zeror, son of Becorath, son of Aphiah, of the tribe of Benjamin. 2 His son Saul was the most handsome man in Israel—head and shoulders taller than anyone else in the land.

Asses

3 "One day Kish’s donkeys strayed away, and he told Saul, “Take a servant with you, and go look for the donkeys.” 4 So Saul took one of the servants and traveled through the hill country of Ephraim, the land of Shalishah, the Shaalim area, and the entire land of Benjamin, but they couldn’t find the donkeys anywhere.

5 Finally, they entered the region of Zuph, and Saul said to his servant, “Let’s go home. By now my father will be more worried about us than about the donkeys!”



Passes

6 "But the servant said, “I’ve just thought of something! There is a man of God who lives here in this town. He is held in high honor by all the people because everything he says comes true. Let’s go find him. Perhaps he can tell us which way to go.”

15 Now the Lord had told Samuel the previous day, 16 “About this time tomorrow I will send you a man from the land of Benjamin. Anoint him to be the leader of my people, Israel. He will rescue them from the Philistines, for I have looked down on my people in mercy and have heard their cry.”

17 When Samuel saw Saul, the Lord said, “That’s the man I told you about! He will rule my people.”

18 Just then Saul approached Samuel at the gateway and asked, “Can you please tell me where the seer’s house is?”

19 “I am the seer!” Samuel replied. “Go up to the place of worship ahead of me. We will eat there together, and in the morning I’ll tell you what you want to know and send you on your way. 20 And don’t worry about those donkeys that were lost three days ago, for they have been found. And I am here to tell you that you and your family are the focus of all Israel’s hopes.”
21 Saul replied, “But I’m only from the tribe of Benjamin, the smallest tribe in Israel, and my family is the least important of all the families of that tribe! Why are you talking like this to me?”

22 Then Samuel brought Saul and his servant into the hall and placed them at the head of the table, honoring them above the thirty special guests.

The Big Beef

23 "Samuel then instructed the cook to bring Saul the finest cut of meat, the piece that had been set aside for the guest of honor. 24 So the cook brought in the meat and placed it before Saul. “Go ahead and eat it,” Samuel said. “I was saving it for you even before I invited these others!” So Saul ate with Samuel that day.

25 When they came down from the place of worship and returned to town, Samuel took Saul up to the roof of the house and prepared a bed for him there. 26 At daybreak the next morning, Samuel called to Saul, “Get up! It’s time you were on your way.” So Saul got ready, and he and Samuel left the house together. 27 When they reached the edge of town, Samuel told Saul to send his servant on ahead. After the servant was gone, Samuel said, “Stay here, for I have received a special message for you from God.”

Good Person. Bad Father

Samuel was a good man.

He served faithfully all his life.

There is no story of a moral lapse, or deviation from his love of God and devotion to Him.

Yet here is a very sad little story.

1 Samuel 8:1 "As Samuel grew old, he appointed his sons to be judges over Israel. 2 Joel and Abijah, his oldest sons, held court in Beersheba. 3 But they were not like their father, for they were greedy for money. They accepted bribes and perverted justice."

Samuel's kids turned out to be the same as Eli's kids.

Was Eli the only famliy role model he had? Remember his family was very disfunctional. And he was not really raised by his parents. He was raised by Eli.

It was so bad the elders of the land have a meeting with the respected leader - Samuel.

4 "Finally, all the elders of Israel met at Ramah to discuss the matter with Samuel. 5 “Look,” they told him, “you are now old, and your sons are not like you. Give us a king to judge us like all the other nations have.”

There were two problems with this request. First, it was a clear blow against Samuel because of his failure with his kids.

Second, it was a blow against God, because He had said He would be their king.

6 "Samuel was displeased with their request and went to the Lord for guidance. 7 “Do everything they say to you,” the Lord replied, “for it is me they are rejecting, not you. They don’t want me to be their king any longer. 8 Ever since I brought them from Egypt they have continually abandoned me and followed other gods. And now they are giving you the same treatment. 9 Do as they ask, but solemnly warn them about the way a king will reign over them.”

God's answer is - let them go their self destructive way.

It will be the source of disaster and ruin, but they are determined. Let them go...

Samuel becomes Judge - Israel becomes Victorious

Samuel leads the people in obedience and repentance.

3 Then Samuel said to all the people of Israel, “If you are really serious about wanting to return to the Lord, get rid of your foreign gods and your images of Ashtoreth. Determine to obey only the Lord; then he will rescue you from the Philistines.” 4 So the Israelites got rid of their images of Baal and Ashtoreth and worshiped only the Lord.

5 Then Samuel told them, “Gather all of Israel to Mizpah, and I will pray to the Lord for you.” 6 So they gathered at Mizpah and, in a great ceremony, drew water from a well and poured it out before the Lord. They also went without food all day and confessed that they had sinned against the Lord. (It was at Mizpah that Samuel became Israel’s judge.)

7 When the Philistine rulers heard that Israel had gathered at Mizpah, they mobilized their army and advanced. The Israelites were badly frightened when they learned that the Philistines were approaching. 8 “Don’t stop pleading with the Lord our God to save us from the Philistines!” they begged Samuel. 9 So Samuel took a young lamb and offered it to the Lord as a whole burnt offering. He pleaded with the Lord to help Israel, and the Lord answered him.

10 Just as Samuel was sacrificing the burnt offering, the Philistines arrived to attack Israel. But the Lord spoke with a mighty voice of thunder from heaven that day, and the Philistines were thrown into such confusion that the Israelites defeated them. 11 The men of Israel chased them from Mizpah to a place below Beth-car, slaughtering them all along the way.

12 Samuel then took a large stone and placed it between the towns of Mizpah and Jeshanah.[f] He named it Ebenezer (which means “the stone of help”), for he said, “Up to this point the Lord has helped us!”

13 So the Philistines were subdued and didn’t invade Israel again for some time. And throughout Samuel’s lifetime, the Lord’s powerful hand was raised against the Philistines. 14 The Israelite villages near Ekron and Gath that the Philistines had captured were restored to Israel, along with the rest of the territory that the Philistines had taken. And there was peace between Israel and the Amorites in those days.

15 Samuel continued as Israel’s judge for the rest of his life. 16 Each year he traveled around, setting up his court first at Bethel, then at Gilgal, and then at Mizpah. He judged the people of Israel at each of these places. 17 Then he would return to his home at Ramah, and he would hear cases there, too. And Samuel built an altar to the Lord at Ramah."

Samuel was teaching true heart repentance.

Not just the keeping of religious rituals and artefacts.

And God blessed the nation with victory and peace.
Restored relationship and wisdom.

Samuel becomes Judge - Israel becomes Victorious