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 ~

Saul the King

Searching His Word
  Seeking His Heart

We have been following young David the shepherd boy for a while with songs (or psalms) that he may have first composed on the hillside. Great things are ahead for David, but before we get to that, let’s take a look at what else was going on in Israel at the time.

Samuel was the people’s adviser and spiritual leader, serving as the last judge of Israel. He had seen them through many battles with neighboring towns and particularly with the Philistines, but now, the people wanted, no, they demanded to have a king!

Samuel’s heart was broken. He felt rejection, but the Lord said to him,

… it is not you they have rejected, but they have rejected me as their king. I Samuel 8:7

Samuel told the people of God’s warning of the fallacies of kingship, but they cried all the more to have a king. They wanted to be “like other nations” who had kings. Here they had God Himself as their king. Their hearts were not in the right place.

At times in our lives, we may continuously reject God’s leadership even though He strives with us. At some point, He may give us over to our selfish desires until we learn lessons from our actions.

God relented and told Samuel,

“Listen to them and give them a king.” I Samuel 8:22

Who would it be? Well, there was…

…Saul, an impressive young man without equal among the Israelites—a head taller than any of the others. I Samuel 9:2

Saul got the job! For a while things went okay. In fact, Samuel told Saul that a procession of prophets were coming.

“The Spirit of the Lord will come upon you in power, and you will prophesy with them; and you will be changed into a different person. I Samuel 10:6

Saul led the men in battles to protect his people as well as others. He ended up reigning for forty-two years, but little by little, we discover that though Saul may have been a head taller than the others, his heart was not as big as his head. Maybe another way of saying he was big-headed!

        

In one incident after another, Saul failed to follow the leadership of Samuel the prophet, and thus failed to follow the commands of God.

Eventually, Samuel told Saul,

“You have acted foolishly. You have not kept the command the Lord your God gave you. Now your kingdom will not endure; the Lord has sought out a man after his own heart. I Samuel 13:13-14

How sad when the Lord blesses someone richly, but they take matters into their own hands instead of seeking the Lord’s will in their lives. Samuel constantly warned the people that they must turn to the Lord, but they were busy pattering after Saul who sought after his own will.

The Lord was ready to lead Samuel to anoint another person. 

Next week, quite a surprise for our young shepherd boy!

~ 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 – 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 ~