Friday, July 21, 2017

1 Samuel 26 - Honor to the Undeserving

I think most of us have had those authorities in our life that have not measured up to the position they hold. We have had to offer service, alliegiance and respect for those who really didn't deserve it. We offer it because of the position they hold. Probably some reading this can think of time when parents, teachers, employers, church leaders or government officials have let us down. They may have demanded a standard of conduct they themselves were not willing to bear, they may have directed activities down a course you knew to be unfruitful, or as in the case of David, they may have had it in for you. 

David's response to his king who has betrayed him time and time again can be a model for us as well, as we encounter leaders who are not all they should be. 

David's time is not so unlike our own. Politically, there were two factions. The leader in power was appointed by God to be the first king of Israel, but David had been anointed to be the next king. The people had picked sides. You were either like the Ziphites on the side of Saul, quick to reveal David's location to the king and see him slaughtered, or you were like David's band, people oppressed and disadvantaged because of the current powers. Both sides were ready for war. They wanted their leader solidly in power and the other to go away. Abishai represented the thought of David's followers in 1 Samuel 26:8 when he said in speaking of Saul the king, "let me pin him to the ground with one thrust of my spear". Our political climate is just as emotionally charged even to the point of violence. 

David quashes the intended murder of the king , reminding Abishai that the king was appointed by God and it will be God who takes him out of power. David won't be the one to spill the blood of the king. God would not bless the one who assumed power by his own hand. (Just an aside, I think of all the times I have gotten ahead of God's plan for my life by acting when I should have waited; may the Lord forgive me for my arrogance).  David spares the life of the king, but takes the spear and water jug next to the king to demonstrate he had the power to do harm but chose not to exercise it.  David does so much to maintain the unity of Israel by demonstrating his respect for God and the king. 

Next, David calls out to the Captain of the Guard, Abner (1 Samuel 26:13-16). David chastises him for not doing his duty to the king.  The king's life could have been taken because he did not do his job.  Saul hears the commotion and recognizes David's voice. David didn't play the victim. He challenged the king to consider whether the angst in their relationship was stirred by God because David had wronged him or if it was men's doing. David was willing to right any wrongs, but if men had created the division between them, David called on God to curse them (1 Samuel 26:19). I don't believe God intends that we follow leaders blindly, but we work to sort out the source of any division and correct it. If it is our own pride and arrogance, then we should lay that aside. If there is a sin committed, then we should reach out to breech the gap. 

Saul apologizes and asks David to return to the king's service. David merely returns the items taken and indicates that he will put his fate in the Lord's hands and goes his own way. Saul blesses David and then returns to his home. David knows the danger is not passed and the peace is temporary. He gives honor to the king, but does not place himself in the line of fire. He goes his way enjoying the temporary peace provided. We do well to recognize that here there are some who will not offer us a permanent peace (unless God should change their hearts). We work toward peace and make sure division is not caused by our actions and we embrace the temporary times of peace we receive. 

Living a life in God's service does not mean we will avoid the conflict and strife here. It may even bring more. We should rightly respect people who hold positions of authority in our lives, but act wisely to maintain our integrity and to respect God's appointments. 

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

Monday, July 17, 2017

1 Samuel 25 - A Mean Man and a Wise Woman

I hardly know a marriage where opposites were not involved. Even when two like minded people are married there are always those areas of disagreement. Our human nature seeks to exalt our way over another. Far too many marriage end in divorce because one or both partners will not yield to the other (or to God). God uses marriage to mold our character and to conform us into His image. He teaches us to love unconditionally our marriage partner.  God teaches us to hold the commitment of marriage higher than any other human relationship.  

Yet, some marriages are fraught with angst because one partner is given to their sin nature.  In Chapter 25, we have the story of a mean man, Nabal and his wise wife, Abigail. Abigail knew the character of her husband and for years had lived with him knowing that he was a mean, impulsive and foolish man.   She placed herself in the hands of God looking to Him for her security and not to her husband. 

When David and his men came looking to be rewarded for their service on behalf of Nabal's shepherds, Nabal refused to entertain them. We can tell that this refusal was somewhat politically motivated and that there were factions of the people who were loyal to Saul the king and those who were following David as God's appointed leader.  We see this on verse 10 when Nabal challenges David. He didn't question whether David had actually performed service in guarding his shepherds, he threw a dig at David for leaving the service of Saul. "Many servants are breaking away from their masters these days".  No matter what the reason for hostility, Nabal clearly crossed the line and was intending to give offense. 

Abigail heard of the offense and David's intent to take judgement into his own hands and intervened. She knew David was angry and appealed to him to not shed blood and avenging himself rather than allowing God to execute judgment due to Nabal. She begs him to pay no attention to Nabal and to consider the larger picture. God had plans to bless David and he is to be the next king of Israel. Nabal and his offense is insignificant and should not cause David to lose his focus. She reminds him that his security is in the Lord and no enemy can hinder God's plan (verse 29). 

Now Abigail also wisely dealt with her husband as well. He needed to be told all that took place, but she waited until after his night of partying to speak to him privately. No doubt she prayed through the night not knowing how he would respond but trusting God to give her courage and protection. God intervened and took Nabals life and protected Abigail. 

One of my tests of life is...can I trust God even when people act in a contrary manner to us and to God?  Can I concern myself with looking to God for my security and protection and not take the role of judge and teacher to those who don't do as I believe they ought?  Tell me how you meet the challenge. 

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