Saturday, April 29, 2017

1 Samuel 23 - Seeking Direction

David had by human standards every right to hole himself up and not get involved in the affairs of his people. He was a fugitive from Saul his king. Yet, when he was told that the Philistines were fighting and looting his people in Keilah, he had compassion for the oppression they were suffering. He didn't take action however before praying to God for direction. Even after praying, his men questioned the fight and David confirmed God's direction in prayer. This is one of David's shining moments; it makes you see how he is a man after God's own heart. 

God confirms that He will give victory in battle and he save Keilah and its residents. Saul hears about David's victory and feels he has a prime opportunity to kill David there. David learns that Saul has plans to destroy him in Keilah.  Again, he inquired of God and received knowledge of Saul's plan and the weakness of Keilah and how quickly they would turn on their champion and give him over to the king.  David makes his escape and thwarts Saul's murder attempt. 

No matter whether is is our financial need, our need for wisdom, health, safety or strength, far too often we neglect seeking God in prayer before taking action. We often forfeit a close fellowship with God where He would give us His direction and share His heart with us if only we would pursue it. I think of the hymn that says, "Oh, what peace we often forfeit, oh, what needless pain we bear, all because we do not carry everything to God in prayer".  Prayer is one of the most important duties in our Christian life, yet one of the most difficult for us it seems. 

David demonstrates that God does hear and respond to our prayers related to the specific devotions we face and He doesn't just respond to spiritual needs but he cares for our physical needs as well. David sought God's mind in prayer and we too have that same opportunity. We can approach the God of the Universe, the one who formed you on your mother's womb and ask Him for wisdom, strength and provision for your day. Will you take time to meet the God who saves you on prayer today?

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

Sunday, April 9, 2017

1 Samuel 22 - Facing Danger

David couldn't stay long with the Philistines pretending to have lost his mind, so he continues on to Gath and stays there in a cave.  Many of the discontented Israelites begin to meet him there and join forces with him in escaping the hostilities of Saul.  Saul, however, berates his men wanting to know why he was kept out of the loop when Jonathan his son conspired to keep David safe.  After hearing how Saul interpreted silence of the men as a betrayal, Doeg the head shepherd spoke up.  He had seen David at Nob with the priest Ahimelech.  Ahimelech had provided bread, a spear and inquired of God on his behalf.  This made Saul even angrier that the priests of God were acting to protect David and not favoring Saul, so he sent for Ahimelech and all of his father's family (since they were all priests).

When Saul ordered his men to slay the priests, they refused.  But Doeg being weak of character complied with the king's request and slayed 85 priests and their families - even the women and children.  Ahimelech had not betrayed the king, his involvement in the protection of David made sense based on David's lie to him.  Yet, perhaps hundreds of innocents were killed that day because of Ahimelech's association with David.  In one encouraging note of hope, Ahimelech's son, Abiathar, escaped to find David and let him know of the terrible atrocity.

The family of Ahimelech paid the price of their life for innocently providing David food and protection.  Even those who were not present and not involved were killed because of their relationship to Ahimelech.  This was pure evil being inflicted on the innocent, yet God records this in his written word for us.  Why?  I think it is so that we can know that being in God's service and doing the right thing may not prevent the evil of this world from finding its way to you.  I feel there is a special place in Heaven for these that were slain.  

It is hard for us to understand all of God's ways.  He didn't kill or inflict evil on the priests and their families, but He didn't intervene to save them either.  The children had their potential here on earth taken from them.  They may have been future priests in service to the Lord, but that was wiped out in just one day.  God had another plan for these that were taken.  They were taken to glory early to enjoy fellowship with the Lord forevermore.  God had a message for David; the threat is real and Saul will stop at nothing until he overcomes David.

When we are confronted with evil in this world, we need to cling to our faith even tighter than we ever thought possible.  We may be mistreated or even struck down with illness or hatred, but can we trust that even in this God is continuing to write his story?  Can we trust that there is an even greater glory awaiting us?  As I consider the evil in this world, I see that God is greater than any foe and can save his people and make a name for himself, but He may use my life to secure for Himself a greater glory.  My life is completely in the hands of God and whether it be accident, illness or hostile acts that should threaten to take my life, I can know that my eternity is secure with Him who paid the price for me.

Can evil be stopped?  Only in God's perfect timing and in God's plan.  Can we trust Him even in the midst of threats and anger?  Our faith in God's lovingkindness is demonstrated as we walk through the valleys of life trusting and obeying.

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

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

1 Samuel 21 - Faith and Compromise

David, a man after God's own heart, has seen God do tremendous acts protect him from the wrath of Saul.  He even has the promise that He is to be the next King after Saul.  Yet, after confirming with Jonathan that Saul is bent on seeing David dead, he flees for his life.  On the run, he goes to Nob where he has an encounter with Ahimelech the priest.  David lies about why he is there, claiming to be on a secret mission from Saul the King.  David was in Saul's inner circle so Ahimelech had no reason to doubt.  David even convinces Ahimelech to give him the showbread that was consecrated.  David, a man of great faith and strong character wasn't afraid to take down Goliath, but Saul's wrath was a very different thing.  David would face anyone who defamed God, but he did not defend himself against one who hated him.  In fact, it was his respect for Saul and his position that made confrontation so difficult.

David could have told the truth.  In fact the outcome might have even been better (more on that in the next chapter).  He could have told Ahimelech that Saul was in pursuit and he desperately needed sanctuary.  He could have asked Ahimelech to pray with him for God's protection, certainly God had done that in the past.  But...he didn't.  In the face of overwhelming circumstances, David placed his trust in the spear of his old foe Goliath and not only lied to the priest, but ran to Gath, the place of the Philistines hoping that Saul wouldn't chase him there.  Yet, he was even afraid of the Philistines because of the reputation he had for being a man of war - he would certainly not be welcomed there.  David then played the role of a madman hoping that no one would see him as a viable threat but would leave him alone.

As we read this chapter, we almost want to break out in prose, "Oh, what a tangled web we weave, when first we practice to deceive."  David lost his faith for a moment in God and tried to devise some clever plan to keep himself from his king and the enemies of Israel.  We read this story and say to ourselves, David, David, David, couldn't you have held onto your faith just a little longer?  You were with a priest!  Certainly, if anyone would hear your case he would have!  If anyone might have sought God for you and protected you, he would have.  Yet, you lied in fear.

I would like to think that I too am a woman of faith.  When I read this chapter, I see how quickly I might even do the same thing David did.  We have seen God work in our lives if we have accepted the offer of salvation.  We couldn't have even come to understand we needed a Savior if God hadn't done a work in our lives.  But we also live in a world that can be hostile toward Christians.  We live in a world where we may not be appreciated by those in power.  We may feel that we need to devise some strategy for escaping notice or we will find ourselves the butt of jokes and mistreatment.  How quickly our faith turns when we are faced with confrontation and hostility.

Compromise will always seem like a viable option when we are challenged to live our faith.  The world doesn't see God for who he is and the world confronts our faith daily.  David later found redemption, but he could never undo the compromise and the results of it.  David is here in scripture as an example to us so that we can know that even the great men of faith have their moments.  We are in good company, yet we need to press on and place our faith in the only power that saves.  Our feeble efforts may work for a moment, but the compromise can have ripples that last a lifetime.  God's glory and reputation here are at stake if we call ourselves Christian.  Phillipians 3:14 reminds us ot press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called us.

My dear Christian friend, when we are tempted to compromise, choose the acts of faith instead.   There may be conflict and turmoil, but we will see God's hand of protection and blessing if we will choose him over our own devices.

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