Friday, February 24, 2017

1 Samuel 20 - In God's Hands

God had just done a miraculous act in the protection of David.  Saul had pursued him, but was thwarted by God and caused to prophesy day and night.  Yet David realizes the threat is continued from Saul and very real.  In this chapter we see that both David and Jonathan place their fate in the hands of God and call upon God to be their witness, yet God does not prevent them from encountering conflict and and needing continued protection.  As the days grow darker for Christians, we can see that David provides a great example of a right response to undeserved hate and dependence on the Lord for his security.  I am struck by the phrase repeated in this chapter, "The Lord is witness between you and me" an affirmation of loyalty, and sincerity between these two friends depending on God.  As we trust in the Lord for our own circumstances, we rely on His witness to be our mark of dependence upon Him.

Reading through this chapter we see that David in speaking with Jonathan identifies Saul has a continued threat against his life for no real reason; 1 Samuel 20:1.  David asks Jonathan to be his ambassador before the king to see if his place is secure or if he should flee.  Notice that David, though secure in his relationship with the Lord, didn't just put himself in harms way.  He was cautious and sought to know true motives.  He designed a test to see if the king would respond favorably without having to place himself in danger.

David displayed wisdom in dealing with the hatred he faced.  He did not presume that God would merely put a force field around him to protect him against real threats.  We too need to be wise in our interactions with an increasingly anti Christian culture.  We want to do right and influence our world for the Lord, but we also need to be aware that there is opposition that could threaten our safety.

Jonathan also placed himself in the Lord's hand and took a stand to remain loyal to David even if it placed him in opposition to his father the king.  Jonathan realized that David was God's chosen person to assume the leadership of the nation and felt no threat from his friend.  Jonathan also wisely realizes that he cannot directly reach out to David and communicate with him for fear of revealing his position and placing his own life in danger with his father so he organizes a way to communicate whether the way is safe for David or if David should flee (1 Samuel 20:18-23).

Even though Jonathan was trusting God to unfold His plans in the life of David and himself, he also knew to act wisely and recognize the danger they faced.  No doubt, God could have intervened to stop the hostile acts of Saul even has he had done with Goliath, but God chose to allow Saul to continue offering him an opportunity to repent and find reconciliation with the Lord.  

As long as we live on planet Earth, we will see hostility, evil and conflict.  How we respond to this conflict will indicate how much we really do believe and trust in the Lord.  We should not be unwise and place ourselves in harms way to presume upon the Lord's goodness, but in active dependence we should bring our situation before the Lord and ask him for wisdom for the day.

As the days grow darker, we know that the Lord's return is eminent.  All the more reason to be purposeful and wise as we reach out to a lost and dying world.  Our calling is to serve the Lord no matter where we are placed.  Not all placements are pleasant, but all are purposeful and necessary to accomplish God's purpose in our lives and in the lives of the people touched by our service.  David actively served the Lord in difficult circumstances.  Will we?

May God richly bless you as you seek Him and as you serve Him.

Friday, February 17, 2017

1 Samuel 19 - Response to Leadership Failure

We are commanded to obey authority.  It is God's order given to us that we might have peace.  There are instances however, in scripture, where earthly leaders may command something contrary to God's direction.  We then must give priority to God's authority.  Saul puts out three hits on David because of his insecurity.  David had done nothing to draw the ire of Saul, but yet there was incredible animosity on Saul's part.

In the first hit on David's life, Jonathan, (David's friend and Saul's son) was ordered to kill David.  Jonathan could have diverted his activity and avoided the order, or he could have not warned David, but murdering an innocent man was against God's law.  He does warn David and attempts to sway his father the king to choose right.  Saul swears by the Lord that he will not kill David.  David is invited back into the king's home and resumes his duties.  Jonathan loved David and he loved his father.  He feared the Lord and worked to restore peace.

In the second instance, we learn that after war had broken out and David successfully fought off the Philistines, that an evil spirit came upon Saul and twisted his thinking about David.  David was playing the harp for Saul when Saul attempted to kill him.  The spear missed and David knew he had to flee.  Michal, David's wife, Saul's daughter let David down through a window to escape at night since the guards had orders to kill him in the morning.  Michal used idols in the house to make it appear that David was in bed, claiming he was ill.  The guards report to Saul (I guess it isn't in good taste to kill a sick man).  Saul ordered the guards to bring David that he could kill him, but the guards discovered the deception.  Saul was furious.  To save face, Michal claims that David threatened her live if she didn't help which seems to turn his ire back to David.

Word got back to Saul that David had fled to Samuel at Ramah, so Saul send men to capture him.  on their way to Ramah, they saw prophets prophesying with Samuel and the Spirit of God came on them and they prophesied as well.  Saul sent men three times with the same result.  Finally, Saul went to Samuel's place and the Spirit of God came on him as well and he prophesied day and night.

Lessons we can take from this passage are:

1.  An earthly leader deserves respect, but is not of higher importance than God
2.  God's command supersedes any king's order
3.  No king can thwart the plan of God
4.  God's people may not avoid conflict, but their security is assured

God could have intervened to confront Saul and protect David at any time, but He chose to allow Saul to act on his choices.  When our leaders choose evil, we must remain on the side of right (we can know right by applying God's word to our hearts).  God's direction is always right.

We are all commanded to give our authorities the respect their office deserves, but if our authorities act contrary to God, then we must rightly obey God and where possible encourage our leaders to do the same.  It is hard to speak out for God when the world runs counter to his commands, but we belong to Him and He will never let us out of His care, even if we must go into hiding.  We can trust God to stand between us and hostile forces after we have done what we can and committed our way to Him.

May God richly bless you as you seek Him and as you serve Him.