Preparation Put to Use

Searching His Word
  Seeking His Heart

Among the preparations we thought about last week in David’s life, one was his ability with the harp. (See David’s Preparations)

Even though David was anointed to be the next king, Saul still sat on the throne. However, things weren’t going well for King Saul. The Spirit of the Lord may have come upon David in power, but

…the Spirit of the Lord had departed from Saul, and an evil spirit from the Lord tormented him. I Samuel 16:14

Whoa… wait a minute! How can there be an evil spirit from the Lord?

God doesn’t emit evil, but evil spirits are subject to God’s control and operate only within divinely determined boundaries. Saul had been disobedient and was suffering the consequences of his actions.

Saul’s attendants notice how upset and despondent he had been, so one servant made a suggestion.

“Let our lord command his servants here to search for someone who can play the harp. He will play when the evil spirit comes upon you and you will feel better.” I Samuel 16:16

Saul agrees.

“Find someone who plays well and bring him to me.” I Samuel 16:17

Great idea! Now who is a good harp player? In God’s wondrous providence, one of the servants knows of David. Don’t miss these little coincidences that often come in Scripture. (Or “God incidences” as I like to call them.) The servant says,

“I have seen a son of Jesse who knows how to play the harp. He is a brave man and a warrior. [Maybe he’s heard the lion story.] He speaks well and is a fine looking man. And the Lord is with him.” I Samuel 16:18

 Saul agrees to the plan, sends for David, and is pleased with him.

Whenever the spirit of God would come upon Saul, David would take his harp and play. Then relief would come to Saul; he would feel better, and the evil spirit would leave him. I Samuel 16:22  

I’m thinking of ways God prepped me. I grew up, an only child. From time to time, I would teach my imaginary friend how to make a bed, set the table, or how to print her alphabet letters. I seemed to have an innate desire to teach. As a teenager, I served as president to our girls’ mission group, leading and organizing.  Years later, I could see how God used my teaching instincts and leadership qualities to teach in public school.

Both of my grandmothers played the piano and one played the accordion and clarinet. My mother and father “dated” by practicing violins together. Dad also sang solos; mother played the piano and later the organ for church. Singing together as a family became a common practice.

Is it any wonder, then, that I became an elementary music teacher?

Do you see how God prepares us for what is ahead? No doubt you’ve seen that in your life as well.

Who would have thought that harp playing would be an entry into the palace for David?

And where will sling shooting preparation take him next?

~ Joyce ~

David’s Preparation

Searching His Word
  Seeking His Heart

How thrilling for David to be anointed as king by the prophet Samuel. (See David, a King?) But wouldn’t you love to be a fly on the wall to hear the family discussion about what took place that afternoon with Samuel, especially comments from the seven rejected brothers?

Alas, the next day, back to the regular routine. David goes to the sheep fields as usual. I wonder if scratches his head saying, “Did I just imagine being anointed? And king, of all things?”

But we see no coronation, no crown, no throngs of applauding well-wishers. No, the actual “kinghood” will come later—much later. That’s why I put a question mark after last week’s blog.

While we’re waiting, let’s see what’s going on. These will be days and even years of preparation.

Prep 1 – We’ve already observed some of the songs David has written and the care of his sheep. We discover that he also carries a small harp-like instrument with him. It could have had only five strings strung tight between a Y-shaped branch. Some harps were known to have as many as ten strings.

I can imagine him using his harp many hours to calm the sheep and settle them in for the night. (Much like we use music in our cars and homes.) The harp, no doubt, provides an accompaniment of sorts to his songs.

Prep 2 – We have no milk-toast song writer here, though. David also has the job of fighting off wild dogs or other fierce animals. In fact, we learn later on that indeed, he fights with a lion. The lion attacks one of his sheep. He not only frees the sheep from the lion’s claws, but he grabs the hair of the lion and knocks it out with his rod. Another time, he encounters a bear.

        

Seems to me that he is one brave soul to attempt such things, putting his own life in danger to protect his sheep.

Prep 3 – When the sheep are occupied during a day of grazing, I imagine David getting in a little sling-shot practice. Perhaps he places stones of varying sizes on a big rock and tries to hit them with one shot at different distances. He may use the sling along with his rod and brute force on wild animals, too.

 

Besides harp preparation, fighting fierce animals, and becoming a sling shot expert, another part of David’s preparation is spiritual.

Prep 4 – We’ve already seen spiritual depth developing in the text of his songs. Now, after his anointing by Samuel, we are told that,

…from that day on the Spirit of the Lord came upon David in power. I Samuel 16:13

This will become his greatest source of strength. He will use these preparations and arise to use the gifts God has given him in order to become a mighty force in the life of Israel. 

Next week – David will receive an “invite” to the palace. 

~ Joyce ~

 

David, a King?

Searching His Word
  Seeking His Heart

Last week, we saw how the people of Israel longed for a king, “like the other nations.” (See Saul the King) Saul was chosen but proved to be disappointing.

The Lord told Samuel the prophet,

“Fill your horn with oil and be on your way; I am sending you to Jesse of Bethlehem. I have chosen one of his sons to be king.” I Samuel 16:1

Samuel meets Jesse (grandson of Boaz and Ruth) along with seven of Jesse’s sons. Of course, Samuel is eyeing these young men as potential candidates for the next king. He particularly notices Eliab, the oldest. Samuel thinks,

“Surely the Lord’s anointed stands here before the Lord.” I Samuel 16:6

But the Lord says,

“Do not consider his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him. Man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.” I Samuel 16:7

               

Thoughts of Saul no doubt enter Samuel’s mind. 

Eliab, the oldest son, doesn’t pass the test. (But don’t forget Eliab’s name. We will encounter him again much later.)

Jesse parades son number two, Abinadab in front of Samuel. He shakes his head.

“The Lord has not chosen this one either.” I Samuel 16:8

Samuel checks out son three, Shammah. Then son four, five, six, and seven, but it is still a no go. So Samuel asks if there are other sons.

“There is still the youngest, but he is tending sheep.” I Samuel 16:11

In other words, “Just David.” Samuel says they won’t sit down until he is brought in. Now this is one of those times when, while the story moves right on in the next verse, we have to remember that a good bit of time passes while someone runs out to the field, finds David, and sends him running back a considerable distance.

When David finally arrives, he is described as ruddy, with a fine appearance and handsome features. In Hebrew, this can also mean”goodly” features, that is, quality as well as moral goodness.

Now maybe he was “ruddy” all the time, but he sure would be reddish after that big run! The most important thing about this whole scene is that the Lord speaks to Samuel’s spirit and says,

“Rise and anoint him; he is the one.” So Samuel took the horn of oil and anointed him in the presence of his brothers, and from that day on the Spirit of the Lord came upon David in power. I Samuel 16:12-13

What a high point this must have been in David’s life. An indelible memory to call up from time to time.

I think about my own call to profess my faith as an eight-year-old. Or the moment in my bedroom after my freshman year in college when the Lord revealed Himself in a powerful way to me, or the many times He spoke to me in sermons, Scripture, through others, or during prayer. Or the moment that became the summit of God’s call to write.

Ponder some times when you have felt the “power of the Lord.”

~ Joyce ~

 

 

 

 

 

David – A Man After God’s Own Heart

Searching His Word   Seeking His Heart

Searching His Word
Seeking His Heart

“He (or she) is a person after God’s own heart.” Can you think of anything better for someone to say about you than that?

When King Saul had disobeyed God, Samuel came to him with the news that he had acted foolishly.

“…now your kingdom will not endure; the Lord has sought out a man after his own heart, and appointed him leader of his people.” I Samuel 13:14

David was that man. We could talk about this dynamic character for a whole year’s worth of blogs, but I think Samuel’s comment sums him up—a man after God’s own heart.

Oh, yes, we would also have to talk about David’s failures and sins; he was not a perfect man. We would need to be reminded of his overt sin with Bathsheba and the resultant cover-up attempt which eventually led to the murder of her husband, Uriah. In addition, his fatherly instincts with his boys were deplorable, leaving him to flee from one of his own sons who tried to take over the throne.

Yet, he was a man after God’s own heart. 

David lived in a savage time in the history of Israel. God’s command to go in and conquer the  promised land required one brutal battle after the other. Not a pretty sight, yet David was given the gifts of leadership, perseverance, and courage to see it through. He patiently waited his turn for kingship and honored the position of God’s anointed as he waited. In the midst of it all, he sought after God’s own heart.

Through his songs, we see the tender, compassionate side of David.

“You, O Lord, keep my lamp burning. My God turns my darkness into light.” Psalm 18:28

“Have mercy on me, O God, according to your unfailing love, according to your great compassion blot out my transgressions. Wash away all my iniquity and cleanse me from sin.” Psalm 51:1-2 

“Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me.” Psalm 51:10

“Surely you desire truth in the inner parts; you teach me wisdom in the inmost place.” Psalm 51:6

Do you hear his longing and struggle to have a heart for God? How many times have we heard David refer to God as his rock, his fortress, and strength? And then we hear David’s beautiful comparison of the Lord as his shepherd in Psalm 23.

And so, Jerusalem became known as the city of David. Jesus was often referred to as the Son of David.

While we do not wish to be David and certainly not act like him in particular aspects, we can learn from him to the extinct that we desire to be a person after God’s own heart.

These are some final thoughts about David in my quiet moments these past two weeks as I continue to exercise, rest, and put on ice packs with anticipation of healing. Like so many things in life, we must wait with patience which includes having a heart that resembles God’s own heart.

~ Joyce ~

 

David – Persistence, Patience, Hope

Searching His Word   Seeking His Heart

Searching His Word
Seeking His Heart

 

So what does one do when one is waiting for a replaced knee to heal? Exercise, rest, prop up with ice packs, eat, sleep, pile up ice packs, exercise, take pain pills—did I mention ice packs? Then, of course, spend time in the last thirteen chapters of I Samuel with David on the run from Saul.

Doesn’t everybody do that?

In my ample time for pondering, I’ve wondered if David might have thought about the time when Samuel came to anoint him as the next king of Israel. It was a a quiet little ceremony with family and a few friends. Did it seem like a far away dream to David now?

Here he was—conqueror of the Philistine giant, a leading soldier in Saul’s army, slayer of ten thousands, talented harpist in the kingdom, faithful follower. Why then, why did Saul pursue him? That’s his constant question for Saul.

In last week’s blog, David could certainly have taken Saul’s life, but he didn’t. Another time, David slipped into Saul’s nighttime camp and could have easily killed Saul with the king’s own spear, but once again, David spared Saul’s life. When Saul realized that it was David’s voice he heard across the valley and that David had proof (Saul’s own spear) that he had been within inches of Saul’s head, Saul called out with a sugar-dipped voice,

“Is that your voice, David my son?” I Samuel 26:17, 18

Saul realizes that once again David could have killed him. Somehow David continues to honor the position of the anointed one. David has more honor than the king himself. Saul appears convicted, but David doesn’t buy it. 

David must ask the questions we we all do at times. How did it come to this? What have I done to deserve this? Where are those wonderful dreams of what could be, what should be? Pity-party time.

Yet David perseveres in the midst of it all. He has not forgotten that he is a son of Israel, a child of the one-God. He has gathered together a small band of 600 soldiers, mostly riffraff like himself who have ended up in a runaway status for one reason or another. David manages to find refuge with a Philistine official, persuading the official that he is trustworthy. David and his men are given the land of Ziglag. 

When trouble brews with his own men, he still endures the challenge with patience and verses like these are tucked in the narrative every now and then.

But David found strength in the Lord his God. I Samuel 30:6

David didn’t live to hear Paul speak the following words, but David lived these words.

We rejoice in the hope of the glory of God. Not only so, but also we rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. Romans 5:3-4

I’m learning with David that great victories don’t come quickly. Hope comes in baby steps. I struggle to lift a foot or the leg even an inch in exercises. It seems I get nowhere and one day, I can move two inches. Then after hundreds of attempts that knee pops right up where it should be. Victory in struggle! 

How many times must we learn these lessons? As many times as it takes!

~ Joyce ~

 

David – Trusting

Searching His Word   Seeking His Heart

Searching His Word
Seeking His Heart

David is on the run with Saul in hot pursuit. Saul doesn’t like the women singing, “Saul has killed his thousands and David his tens of thousands.”

At first, Saul thinks he will get rid of David by getting him to enemy lines and letting the Philistines do him in through battle, but that doesn’t work—David is too good of a soldier.

Saul pursues David himself, trying to track him down. But that doesn’t work either, for David finds out that Saul knows his hiding place. David moves on and Saul finds his new hiding place, but David finds out that Saul has found his next hiding place. Well, you get the idea.

One day, David is in the back of a cave, unbeknownst to Saul. Saul just happens to have “the urge” and goes into the mouth of the cave to relieve himself. (Don’t you just love the real life aspect of Scripture?) David could easily come up behind Saul and kill him in one fell swoop, but David honors both the man and his anointed position. Instead, David cuts off a small piece of Saul’s robe.

As Saul is leaving the cave, David goes out and calls to him.

“My Lord, the king!” When Saul looked behind him, David bowed down and prostrated himself with his face to the ground. He said to Saul, “This day you have seen with your own eyes how the Lord delivered you into my own 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 cut off this piece of your robe but did not kill you. I Samuel 24:8, 10,11

Saul was striken by what David had done and said.

Saul wept aloud.”You are more righteous than I. You have treated me well, but I have treated you badly. I know that you will surely be king.” I Samuel 24:16, 17, 19

David trusted the Lord to provide and indeed He did.

Last week, I was in such turmoil. With mother in the hospital  a second time, should I go forward with my own surgery, knowing I wouldn’t be able to take care of her? So many were encouraging me to go on. I could see no way to do this. But once I turned it over in God’s hands, He provided the right people in the right way, and with his perfect timing. 

Once I released it, I felt such peace. I still couldn’t see how the timing was going to work out, but He knew. I was admitted at 11:30 and mother was released at 7:00 that evening after I was settled in and when my daughter could get there to take care of mother. He has provided caregivers for us both. I am reminded again of one of my favorite verses—Proverbs 3:5-6

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.

~ Joyce ~


 

David – Fighting the Giant of Jealousy

Searching His Word   Seeking His Heart

Searching His Word
Seeking His Heart

Meanwhile… back to David.

We last left David standing victoriously over the slain Goliath. David has another giant to overcome—Saul’s jealousy.

Now at first, Saul was delighted with David. For the first time, he truly paid attention to David. Apparently, when David had come to play the harp and soothe Saul’s troubled soul, Saul didn’t notice or even know the harp player’s name. When David was going out to meet Goliath, Saul questioned Abner,  commander of his army.

“Abner, whose son is that young man?” I Samuel 17:55

This “nobody” soon became a “somebody.”

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

The women, who gathered to greet the men when they came home from battle, soon changed their song lyrics. As they danced they sang:

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

This little ditty did not escape Saul’s notice. How dare these women elevate David above the king himself!

Saul was very angry: this refrain galled him… And from that time on Saul kept a jealous eye on David. I Samuel 18:8, 9

These two emotions—anger and jealousy—will inevitably produce negative action.

… while David was playing the harp, as he usually did, Saul had a spear in his hand and he hurled it, saying to himself, “I’ll pin him to the wall.” But David eluded him twice. I Samuel 18:10, 11

We see how that anger and jealousy led to rage. When David managed to escape the strike of the spear, another emotion surfaced in Saul—fear. What is at the heart of Saul’s fear?

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

Ah, the lesson for us. Without the Spirit of God in us, we succumb to all those attributes of Satan—anger, jealousy, fear. We may have times of weariness, discouragement, or anxiety, but deep in our spirit, we know we have God’s spirit of hope within us—lessons I have internalized in this past month. It behooves us to keep our branches connected to our main vine, Jesus Christ. As we are strengthened daily, we can endure and find rest in Him when the tough times come.

On a personal note, (speaking of tough times) I had to change what I had written. Just today, we had to take my mother back to the hospital via ambulance. Congestive heart failure again. I’m scheduled for knee replacement surgery this next Monday. I would appreciate your prayer support as we try to discern God’s will and His timing in all this. Thank you, friends. 

~ Joyce ~

 

David – Slaying the Giant

Searching His Word   Seeking His Heart

Searching His Word
Seeking His Heart

Now, the story we know so well. David is up for fighting Goliath and Saul has given the go-ahead.

“Go, and the Lord be with you.” I Samuel 17:37b

We can picture young—and not so tall—David putting on six-foot-plus Saul’s armor. Perhaps the helmet partially covers David’s face. The armor hangs heavy, down to his knees instead of below his waist. He walks around in this clunky adornment and feels cumbersome and weighted down. 

David does away with these unfamiliar garments, finds five smooth stones, puts them in his shepherd’s bag, and grabs his staff. He’s ready to go.

But I wonder, did David actually take a good look at this giant of a man? From my five-foot vantage point, our 6′ 5″ pastor feels something close to a giant. But add about three more feet to that and we’re talking truly a giant! Yes, Goliath proportions. 

Goliath wore a bronze helmet and a 125-pound coat of armor, bronze greaves on his legs and a bronze javelin slung over his back. He carried a giant spear with a 15-pound iron point (just the point!) 

When Goliath saw David coming, he was insulted and used the gutsy language of an uncouth soldier.

“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!” I Samuel 17:43-44

David doesn’t show any signs of backing down.

“You come against me with sword and spear and javelin, but I come to you in the name of the Lord Almighty, the God of the armies of Israel whom you have defied. This day the Lord will hand you over to me and I will strike you down. I Samuel 17:45-46

Such faith as David draws closer to the giant. I must give the whole story though. Unlike your 2nd grade Sunday School teacher’s version, I must remind you that David also said he would cut off Goliath’s head and give the carcasses of the Philistine army to the birds and the beasts. Bold talk from this young shepherd boy!

So, David reaches in his bag for the first of his five stones. One is all it takes. While on the run, he swings his sling with power and accurately aims toward the one small, vulnerable spot left on the heavily-clad giant—his forehead. With his practiced marksmanship, David sinks the stone  deep in Goliath’s head and brings him to the ground.

Consider a giant in your life. It could be an antagonistic person, or maybe an un-reached goal, a terrible disease, or a problem with no foreseeable solution. Satan adorns and magnifies the giant and the giant tries to beat you down. Can you stand firm with David and say, “What is this giant that he (or it) should defy the power of God?” Is it possible that He has a solution as small as a stone?

Let us overcome the fear and walk by faith and not by sight.

~ Joyce ~

David – Up for the Challenge

Searching His Word   Seeking His Heart

Searching His Word
Seeking His Heart

We left David playing soothing tunes for King Saul’s troubled soul. (Last week’s blog.) David didn’t stay at the palace, however, he went back and forth from shepherding in the hills to playing in the palace only on occasion, because Saul was often out leading a battle.

David’s three older brothers were away in one of these battles. Jesse, David’s father, worried about the sons and told David to take grain, bread, and cheese to his brothers and see how things were going.

David follows his father’s directions and off he goes to the Valley of Elah. He finds the Israelite army cowering on one side of the valley and the Philistine army on the other side. David chats with the soldiers and discovers that one very large Philistine has been in the valley, shouting challenges to Saul’s army.

David asks, “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 17:6

While the experienced soldiers shudder at the daily challenge from this giant of a man, David is asking, “Who dares to defy God?” 

Meanwhile, the angry, jealous brothers find David. (Remember, they were not chosen by Samuel to be anointed as the next king.) The oldest brother plows into him.  

“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.”

“Now what have I done?” said David. “Can’t I even speak?” I Samuel 17:28-29

Kind of reminds me of Joseph’s brothers. Well, word gets back to Saul about what David has said and Saul calls him in. David declares,

“Let no one lose heart on account of this Philistine; your servant will go and fight him.” I Samuel 17:32

Saul protests that David is only a boy and this Philistine has been a fighting man for a long time, not to mention his tremendous height!

David assures Saul that he has killed a bear and a lion to save his sheep and this Philistine will be like one of them because he has defied the living God. And so we have the reason David has no fear.

“The Lord who delivered me from the paw of the lion and the paw of the bear will deliver me from the hand of this Philistine.” I Samuel 17:37

David has learned to trust God. He has seen God at work in His life and trusts that He will provide again—a great example for us.

Every third Sunday, I teach our Sunday School class. There are times I wonder how it will go, then I lean on the Lord for guidance and to give me words. I’ve seen Him do it over and over again, which lessens the fear of failure. How does the Lord prepare you so you can trust Him with your fears?

~ Joyce ~

  

 

David – Soothing a Troubled Soul

 

Searching His Word   Seeking His Heart

Searching His Word
Seeking His Heart

Today, we will watch David using his gift of music. Remember how he practiced his harp on the hillside, making up songs of praise to God, and soothing the temperament of his sheep after longs days of movement and grazing?

God was ready to use that gift to soothe the troubled soul of King Saul. You may remember that as God anointed David with His spirit, He removed His Spirit from Saul. As a result, Saul had fits of great depression and anxiety.

No doubt, Saul remembered how he had deliberately disobeyed God. Oh, he found justification for his actions, even holy-sounding justification, but he knew he had disobeyed. The words of Samuel echoed over and over in his mind.

“Does the Lord delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices as much as in obeying the voice of the Lord? To obey is better than sacrifice…” I Samuel 15:22

“…Because you have rejected the word of the Lord, he has rejected you as king.” I Samuel 15:23

Some of Saul’s servants had the idea that if Saul would bring someone in to play music for him when he got in these bad moods, it might calm his soul. Saul liked the idea and asked them to find someone. One servant popped up to say,

“I have seen a son of Jesse of Bethlehem who knows how to play the harp. He is a brave man and a warrior. He speaks well and is a fine-looking man. And the Lord is with him.” I Samuel 16:18

Wow, that’s quite a detailed recommendation! Wouldn’t you love to know who that servant was and how he knew so much about David? In the midst of all these admirable qualities, he concluded that “the Lord is with him.” There was a spiritual nature about this harp player.

The king accepted the recommendation and told them to send for David. Sure enough, when Saul became troubled, he called David to come in and play.

Then relief would come to Saul; he would feel better, and the evil spirit would leave him. I Samuel 16:23b

So, David began using one of the gifts God had given him, and sure enough, the Lord was with him. In addition, David gained entrance into the palace. He learned the ways and thoughts of palace living. Little did Saul realize that he had invited the next king to be his servant. God works in amazing ways.

For many years I had a wonderful solo voice and enjoyed compliments galore. One day, I had a glitch. Something didn’t go well. I hung my head before God in shame, realizing I had taken all the glory for myself. From that point on, I prayed every time before I got up to sing, that the Lord would intervene and use the music and text to speak to people.

The comments turned from “You have such a beautiful voice” to “Oh, how the Lord blessed me with that song.” I merely became the vessel.

David’s talent became a spiritual, soothing  gift because “the Lord was with him.” How does the Lord want to use your gifts today? 

~ Joyce ~