Honor in the Struggle

Searching His Word
 Seeking His Heart

Before Thanksgiving, we saw that David had cut off a piece of Saul’s robe when Saul came into the cave where David and his men were hiding. Saul had come to “relieve” himself. (See God’s Provisions for David)

David’s men are puzzled as to why David didn’t just kill Saul while he had the opportunity and more puzzled that his reason is because Saul is “the Lord’s anointed.”

David knows the sacredness of being anointed by the Lord. He remembers well when Samuel came to anoint him. Even though Saul is unfairly mistreating him, he still honors the position of the king.

David has an idea.

Saul is still within shouting distance, so David calls out to him and bows down. He says,

“My Lord the king! Why do you listen when men say, ‘David is bent on harming you’? This day you have seen with your own eyes how the Lord delivered you into my hands in the cave. Some urged me to kill you, but I spared you; I said, ‘I will not lift my hand against my master, because he is the Lord’s anointed.’ ” I Samuel 24:9-10

David displays the piece of Saul’s robe in the air so Saul can see how close he was to David and yet David did not kill him. David continues to plead his innocence.

“Now understand and recognize that I am not guilty of wrongdoing or rebellion. I have not wronged you, but you are hunting me down to take my life. May the Lord judge between you and me. And may the Lord avenge the wrongs you have done to me, but my hand will not touch you. I Samuel 24:11-12

         

Saul becomes milk toast. He realizes that David has proven to be the better man. While weeping, Saul declares,

“You are more righteous than I. You have treated me well, but I have treated you badly.” I Samuel 24:17

Saul goes so far as to admit—

“I know that you will surely be king and the kingdom of Israel will be established in your hands.”  I Samuel 24:20

Saul acknowledges David’s act of grace. That, my friends, is honor on David’s part. David was yet to become king, but he knew God’s hand in anointing him. He believed he must honor the position even though the king behaved badly.

A hard lesson for David and for us. I remember some of those days when mother’s dementia took hold and she angrily said hurtful things to me. Still, she was my mother and I knew I must honor her, so I continued to visit and talk to her, bring her interesting things to do, and encourage her. “Honor your father and mother.”

Toward the end, I was talking to her about different family members. She could not even call my name, but she touched my hand and said, “But this one is the special one.” Thank you, Lord for that precious tender moment.

Perhaps you have a trying relationship right now. You know that you need to honor that parent, that husband or wife, that child or friend in your life, but you’re so angry at them. Perhaps you need to try a different angle. Wave a cloth of truce. Find a way to honor “in spite of.” May the Lord bless your effort.

~ Joyce ~

Thanksgiving 2019

Searching His Word
 Seeking His Heart

We left David in the lurch last week. We will continue his exciting story next week, but let’s pause for observance of this wonderful day of Thanksgiving.

I’m so grateful that our country, in spite of its woes, does still observe and acknowledge the need for giving thanks. And to whom do we give that thanks? I suppose the secular view is we give thanks to one another, with which we can all agree, but more important is our thanks to God.

The more our minds center on giving thanks, the more our minds center on the gift-giver.

A few years ago, I read a little book by Ann Voskamp called “One Thousand Gifts.” She challenged readers to write each day just one thing for which they were thankful. The idea was to come up with 1000 thank you’s.

        

I bought this cute little book and did well for a few months, but somewhere along the way it was left on the shelf unattended. A year of so later, I picked it back up again and have been faithful with it most days. I’m up to 410 thank you’s.

I keep my book right beside whatever devotional book I’m using at the time. I read a little in the devotional book, then end my time writing a two-to-five-word thank you. It is amazing to me how easy the thank you idea comes each time. You would think you would run out!

        

Sometimes it concerns something that is going on in my life, a lesson I’m learning, a person, an inspiration from my devotional book or Scripture I’ve been studying.

Here’s a few examples of things for which I am thankful:

knees that work without pain, the first snow, my published book, sunshine, a reliable car, my Savior – the true vine, family Thanksgiving meals, text messages from grand-kids, God’s reminders to trust Him, specific talents of my family members, God’s interventions, daffodils in Spring, fun with friends, morning hugs, alone time with God.

Well, you get the idea, just anything the Lord brings to mind. It takes less than 30 seconds but keeps that idea of being thankful front and center.

What a perfect time to begin this little habit.

And a perfect time for me to tell you how thankful I am for you as you read this blog week by week. It helps to keep me on task in writing. May you have a blessed time with your family today or whatever way you celebrate giving thanks.

Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good; his love endures forever. Psalm 106:1

~ Joyce ~

Correction!

The other day I got to thinking about David being of the tribe of Benjamin. Jesus was sometimes called the Son of David or the Lion of Judah, in other words from the tribe of Judah. That means David would be of the tribe of Judah as well.

Then I thought of his father Jesse, son of Obed, son of Boaz. Yep, all of Judah. Then a reader wrote and questioned me about his lineage.

But I was sure I remembered seeing a verse referring to Jesse (David’s father) as of the tribe of Benjamin. But in my search, verses referred to him as a Beth-lemite (living in Bethlehem) but no Benjamite reference.

So, even though my Bible footnotes led me to that verse in Judges about the tribe of Benjamin having experts with the sling, it wasn’t David’s tribe. However, the land of Benjamin and Judah were next to each other and I imagine being good with the sling was a common goal for many.

That said, I stand corrected! David was of the tribe of Judah.

Thanks, Emily for holding me to the fire.

~ Joyce ~

God’s Provisions for David

Searching His Word
 Seeking His Heart

David is still moving from one hiding place to another. (See David, on the Run) Such a task to keep 400 men together, yet hidden.

All the while, both Israelite tribes and non-Israelites wished to gain favor with King Saul and were ready to tell of David’s whereabouts.

At one point, both Saul and David were circling the same mountain in the Desert of Maon.

Saul was going along one side of the mountain, and David and his men were on the other side, hurrying to get away from Saul. As Saul and his forces were closing in on David and his men to capture them, a messenger came to Saul, saying, “Come quickly! The Philistines are raiding the land.” I Samuel 23:26-27

So Saul stopped his pursuit of David  and went off to to face the Philistines. What an example of God’s provision. Just in time—a monumental distraction!

After the Philistine interruption had passed, Saul heard that David had moved to the desert of En Gedi, so Saul gathered 3ooo chosen men to tract down David. Maybe Saul didn’t know that David only had about 400 men or maybe he did know and was determined to totally wipe him out. 

Along the way, Saul passed several caves. Evidently, he pulled away from his men to do what we all have to do through the day.

            

Saul went in to relieve himself. I Samuel 23:3

(Even kings have to do this.) In God’s divine providence, Saul chose the very cave in which David and his men were hiding. David saw that Saul had entered the cave alone.

David crept up unnoticed and cut off a corner of Saul’s robe. I Samuel 24:5

I am astonished that he was able to do this—unheard and unnoticed. Again, the Lord protected him.

When David showed the piece of robe to his men, they couldn’t believe it. They protested, “What? You had him in the palm of your hand and you just cut off a piece of his robe?” They were ready to go after Saul, but David said no.

“Why?” we might ask. When he had this madman right there, he could have put a spear through him and ended the rat race of being chased and constantly running. After all, Saul was bent on killing him. Why wouldn’t David beat him to it?

“The Lord forbid that I should do such a thing to my master, the Lord’s anointed.” I Samuel 24:6

I can just picture the men looking at one another like, “What does he mean? Why did he let him get away!”

What would you have done?

Next week we’ll pull apart the meaning of “the Lord’s anointed” and see what amazing thing David did next.

~ Joyce ~

 

 

 

David, on the Run!

Searching His Word
 Seeking His Heart

When someone throws a spear at you while you’re quietly playing the harp for him, you know it’s time to run. (See, Watch Out, David!)

Saul decides to send men to David’s house to watch and then kill him the next morning. Saul’s daughter, Michal, who is also David’s wife, finds out about the plan. She warns David,

“If you don’t run for your life tonight, tomorrow you will be killed.” I Samuel 19:11

Micah lets David down through the window and off he goes to begin a lengthy time of escape.

David runs to Samuel, the prophet, who first anointed him to be the next king, but David is far away from being king. When Saul discovers David’s whereabouts, he sends men to pursue him.

David finds Jonathan, Saul’s son. They have become friends, but Jonathan can’t believe his father would be so cruel as to pursue David. Later, when Saul throws a spear at Jonathan, he realizes his father has gone mad. He continues to pledge friendship to David.

David escapes to a priest at Nod and receives bread and the spear that belonged to Goliath. He flees to Gath, but becomes suspect of the the king there, so off to the cave of Adullam. David’s prayer is found in Psalm 142 where he pleads with God for help.

“I cry to you Lord; you are my refuge.” Psalm 142:5

He is able to gather a motley crew of men around him.

All those who were in distress or in debt or discontented gathered around him, and he became their leader, about four hundred men. I Samuel 22:2

The prophet Gad tells David to go back to Judah, so David flees to the forest of Hereth.

Meanwhile, Saul discovers that David has been to the priest at Nod and sends for the priest. All eighty-five priests come and are chastised for rebelling against Saul. They defend David which sends Saul into a tailspin.  He demands that his men kill all the priests. When they refuse, Saul commands Doeg the Edomite to do the dirty work plus kill the whole town of Nod.

One son of a priest escapes and tells David what has happened. David promises protection. Meanwhile, he discovers that the Philistines are about to overtake the town of Keilah. He inquires of the Lord if he should go into battle for them and receives word to go.

As you can see, David is on the run, but he continues to show signs of leadership. He is resourceful and discerning; he attracts an army of men, continues to defend his people, and seeks God’s strength and purpose in his life.

There’s more running to do, but let’s think about our own running. Maybe not from an enemy, but we often do a lot of running here and there, accomplishing tasks, pleasing people, keeping schedules, tending to messes and on and on.

What lessons can we learn as we go? Lessons of resourcefulness and discernment? Opportunities to seek God’s guidance and further purposes in our lives?

Grow us, Lord—even when we’re on the run.

~ Joyce ~

Watch Out, David!

Searching His Word
 Seeking His Heart

After David’s great feat with Goliath, King Saul kept David with him at the palace. He continued to play the harp for Saul. Also—

Whatever Saul sent him to do, David did it so successfully that Saul gave him a high rank in the army. This pleased all the people and Saul’s officers as well. I Samuel 18:5

All is well, BUT, when the soldiers return from battle, women come from all the towns of Israel with their tambourines and flutes.

As they danced, they sang: “Saul has slain his thousands, and David his tens of thousands.” I Samuel 18:7

This little song smacks Saul right between the eyes. Jealousy whirls up in his red face.

“What more can he get but the kingdom?” he thought. And from that time on Saul kept a jealous eye on David.

Jealousy gone unchecked spirals down. It leads to anger and anger to rage. The next day, David is playing his harp for Saul.

Saul had a spear in his hand and he hurled it, saying to himself, “I’ll pin David to the wall.” But David eluded him twice. I Samuel 18:10-11

        

Then we read of another negative emotion.

Saul was afraid of David because the Lord was with David but had left Saul. I Samuel 18:12

So Saul figures, okay, I’ll just send him to fight more Philistines. Maybe they’ll finally get him.

When that doesn’t work he tells his attendants and his son Jonathan to kill him. Bad idea for Saul. He doesn’t seem to realize that Jonathan and David have become good friends. In fact, Jonathan has pledged his loyalty to David and made a covenant with him, realizing that David should be the next king rather than himself, the son.

David finds out about the command to have him killed and thus begins the big chase which we will look at next week.

This gives a perfect lesson in how damaging negative emotions can be. For Saul, it started with jealousy. The double whammy? It’s coupled with fear. Fear of losing his kingship. So fear and jealousy easily lead to anger, to rage, and to attempted murder.

In Galatians, before Paul gets to the characteristics of the fruit of the Spirit, he gives a whole litany of negative emotions and acts.

The acts of the sinful nature are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; idolatry and witchcraft: hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God. Galatians 5:19-21  

“Worry” isn’t in this list, but I think it is one of my greatest failings. I like the quote I read this week by Corrie Ten Boom—

“Worry doesn’t empty tomorrow of its sorrow, it empties today of its strength.”

Jealousy and fear could fit in place of “worry” in this quote. Let us be diligent not to deplete our strength!

~ Joyce ~

Slaying Our Giants

Searching His Word
 Seeking His Heart

At last we see that…

David  triumphed over the Philistine with a sling and a stone; without a sword in his hand he struck down the Philistine and killed him. I Samuel 17:50

We’re kind of okay with that, knowing the constant threat on the people of Israel, but it’s the next verse that we might find disturbing.

David ran and stood over him. He took hold of the Philistine’s sword and drew it from the scabbard. After he killed him, he cut off his head with the sword. I Samuel 17:51

Now what do we do with that? This has always been a bit troubling to me. I found a new book by Louie Giglio to be helpful. In “Goliath Must Fall,” Giglio relates a story from his youth when he helped with a Christian camp in the summers. A constant problem plagued the camp leaders—poisonous snakes.

       

Every afternoon, several of the helpers went searching for the snakes. They used baseball bats to beat them to death! But that wasn’t the end of the job because, though the snake was dead, its head still had the poisonous venom in it. If people accidentally stepped on the head, they could still be affected by the venom.

How did they protect the campers from stepping on the heads? They had to bury them.

Giglio likens this to David’s dilemma. It wasn’t enough to kill the giant with the sling. At that great distance, the Philistine army might think their hero had just been wounded and come storming to take over David and the Israelite army. When the shepherd boy pulled out the sword, slashed it down on Goliath’s neck, and pulled up the head, he demonstrated dramatically that this giant was indeed dead.

Giglio suggests that we all have giants that plague us. It may not be a trash-talking foe. It may not be the temptation to get drunk or experiment with drugs or have an affair. Oh no, Satan can be far more cunning and deceptive than that. We may wrestle with the “lesser” giants; slight gossiping, demanding to have our way about things or always giving in, arrogance or feeling inadequate.

Satan delights with infiltrating our hearts and messing with our minds. He delights when we spend hours on our cell phones but have no time for prayer and devotions. He smiles when we’re so busy with life that we haven’t thought about witnessing to anyone in months or years. He triumphs when jealousy or bitterness leads to anger and anger leads to rage.

What is the giant in your life? Are you willing to face it? What will it take to bring it down? What will it take to completely overcome? 

I think of one of my life verses—

Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding, in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight. Proverbs 3:5-6

~ Joyce ~

 

 

The Power of the Sling

Searching His Word
 Seeking His Heart

At last, David is down on the plain with his staff in hand along with five smooth stones in his pouch and a sling shot in his other hand, facing the giant man, Goliath. (See Is David Up for the Task?)

Meanwhile, the Philistine with his shield bearer in front of him, kept coming closer to David. He looked David over and saw that he was only a boy, ruddy and handsome, and he despised him.

Goliath sees that this challenger only has a staff. No armor, no sword.

He said to David, “Am I a dog that you come at me with sticks?” And the Philistine cursed David by his gods. “Come here,” he said, “and I’ll give your flesh to the birds of the air and the beasts of the field!”

Does David back down? Is he intimidated by the course talk of the giant? Absolutely not! Remember, David has been prepared for this day in so many ways. His faith is beyond strong. Listen to him bravely declaring that faith.

“You come against me with sword and spear and javelin, but I come against you in the name of the Lord Almighty, the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defied.”

Then David lays out for Goliath what is about to happen. 

“This day the Lord will hand you over to me and I’ll strike you down and cut off your head.”

Oops, we kind of leave out that part in the children’s version. This isn’t just “trash talk.” David firmly believes that God will have the victory.

“Today I will give the carcasses of the Philistine army to the birds of the air and the beasts of the earth, and the whole world will know that there is a God in Israel. All those gathered here will know that it is not by spear or sword that the Lord saves; for the battle is the Lord’s, and he will give all of you into our hands.”

         

Goliath moves forward while David runs forward, grabbing one of his stones and flinging it with the sling. With all Goliath’s battle gear, there’s only one small spot for David to aim—Goliath’s forehead.

The stone sank into his forehead and he fell face down on the ground. I Samuel 17:41-49

Mission accomplished and with only one stone!

I found an interesting piece of history in the book of Judges. At one time, the Benjamites were about to be engaged in a battle. They mobilized 26,000 swordsmen from one area and 700 from another. From this huge group,

700 were left-handed, each of whom could sling a stone at a hair and not miss. Judges 20:16

I bet that’s a new one for you! Why bring that up? Remember, David was from the tribe of Benjamin. It looks as though sling shooting was a distinguishing skill in the lineage of the Benjamites. (I don’t know if he was left handed though.)

It just reminds me that God is in all the details of preparation. Look for Him in the details of your life.

~ Joyce ~

Is David Up for the Task?

Searching His Word
  Seeking His Heart

David catches up to his brothers and hears the threats of the giant, Goliath. (See What’s Next for David?)

David says,

“What will be done for the man who kills this Philistine and removes this disgrace from Israel? Who is this uncircumcised Philistine that he should defy the armies of the living God?” I Samuel 17:26

One of the soldiers hears David’s comments about Goliath. Apparently the soldier thinks that David is ready to challenge Goliath because he reports the discussion to Saul. Saul tells him to bring the challenger in.

When Saul sees that it is David, he protests that he is just a boy and this giant has been a fighting man from his youth. Here is the place where we find out about the details of the lion and bear story. David tells of striking the beasts to rescue a sheep, then grabbing them by the hair, striking them again and killing them. He concludes his account by telling Saul,

“…this uncircumcised Philistine will be like one of them, because he has defied the armies of the living God. The Lord who delivered me from the paw of the lion and the bear will deliver me from the hand of this Philistine.” I Samuel 17:36-37

Do you see the value of the preparation God gave David? Do you hear who he believes in and trusts explicitly? Saul doesn’t have that kind of mindset. Since no one else has offered, and these are desperate times, Saul agrees to let him try.

You know the story—how Saul dresses David in his coat of armor, helmet, sword, the whole nine yards. Never mind that David is maybe five foot seven, while Saul is a head taller than anyone else.

     

David tries to walk around with all this soldier stuff on his back and proclaims that this is not for him. He must stick with what he knows best—sling shooting!

David takes off all of the soldier garb.

Then he took his staff in his hand, chose five smooth stones from the stream, put them in the pouch of his shepherd’s bag, and with his sling in his hand approached the Philistine. I Samuel 17:40

As I picture this scene, just the mere differences in size compounds the drama. I think of our pastor who stands 6 foot 5 inches while our minister of music is about 5′ 5″. They generally avoid standing next to each other at the pulpit. Being pitted against someone 9 feet tall is hard to imagine.

Differences come in many packages. Differences in size, yes, but also differences in opinions, differences in ideals, or ways of doing things; differences in temperaments. We all have our differences to overcome. Will David meet the challenge of size, experience, and equipment? Perhaps the greater question—on whom is each depending? Self or God?

As we face the giants in our lives, may we find strength in God to carry us through.

~ Joyce ~

What’s Next for David?

Searching His Word
  Seeking His Heart

David pleased King Saul with the soothing sounds of his harp. (See Preparation Put to Use) David made frequent trips to the palace to ease Saul’s tormented mind.

Later, Saul and his soldiers have moved about fifteen miles west near the Philistine border. Israel has had constant contentions with the Philistines and they certainly have big time trouble brewing now. The Philistines are on one hill and the Israelites on another hill with a wide valley between them.

Each morning, both sides come out ready to do battle, when a nine foot man named Goliath struts out with his bronze helmet and coat of bronze scale armor weighing 5,000 shekels (about 125 pounds.) Picture this massive man with bronze greaves on his legs, a bronze javelin slung on his back, and a spear. The iron point of his spear alone weighs 15 pounds.

He shouts to the ranks of Israel,

“Why do you come out and line up for battle? Choose a man and have him come down to me. If he is able to fight and kill me, we will become your subjects; but if I overcome him and kill him, you will become our subjects and serve us.” I Samuel 17:8-9

Saul and his men are “dismayed and terrified.” Everyday they listen to the pompous rhetoric from this giant of a man, but no one is brave enough to challenge him.

Now among the soldiers are David’s three oldest brothers. Remember them? Eliab, Abinadab, and Shammah. Meanwhile, David still attends his father’s sheep. From time to time, Jesse sends David to the battle lines to take food for his brothers and bring back word on how things are going.

During one of these visits, David leaves the food with the keeper of supplies and runs over to where the men have lined up for battle. Just then, Goliath steps forward as he has done for forty days and shouts his usual defiance. The soldiers suddenly retreat because they are all afraid of Goliath.

David is appalled. He asks,

“Who is this uncircumcised Philistine that he should defy the armies of the living God?” I Samuel 17:26

Do you remember that I told you to watch later for oldest brother, Eliab, to appear again? Well, here he is. He’s been watching David talking to the soldiers and nosing around. Eliab “burns with anger” at David.

“Why have you come down here? And with whom did you leave those few sheep in the desert? I know how conceited you are and how wicked your heart is; you came down only to watch the battle.” I Samuel 17:28

Can’t you hear the jealousy, bitterness, even hatred in Eliab’s words? Likewise, can’t you see the roll of David’s eyes and an accented huff as he responds?

“Now what have I done? Can’t I even speak?” I Samuel 17:29

Next week, we’ll see that David is not to be deterred by a jealous brother’s comments nor the haughty words of a Philistine giant.

~ Joyce ~