Tuesday, February 20th, 2018

On the run


Sunday, April 13, 2014

Apr 7, 2014 — Lent Day 29 — 1 Sam 16:14-23 — David in Saul’s Service

The rejection of King Saul by the Lord was accompanied by the departure of the Spirit of the Lord from Saul, to be replaced by a “harmful spirit from the Lord.”

Although it would be fun to play with the idea of a harmful spirit from God, this is a devotional study, so I will keep my eye on the ball.

Consider what this harmful spirit caused. Saul was tormented and suffered from periodic fits of depression. He got the idea in his head (I wonder where that came from?) that music made him feel better.

The word went out, and an ironic thing happened: young David, who had just been anointed by Samuel in preparation for replacing Saul as king, found himself in Saul’s service. He played his lyre when Saul was depressed, and the harmful spirit left Saul for a time.

Saul loved David greatly. If he only knew!

What happens when the Holy Spirit leaves? It apparently creates a vacuum that can be filled with a harmful spirit. I believe Jesus taught that in one of his parables, so the possibility must remain today.

I could do worse than consider this is a ‘heads up’ for me about the risks of grieving the Holy Spirit. I may get away with it. Or I may not. Something for me to think about.

Apr 8, 2014 — Lent Day 30 — 1 Sam 17:1-58 — David and Goliath

Three warriors and a shepherd, all sons of Jesse, figure in this all-too-familiar story. Again, it would be interesting (maybe) to speculate about the many puzzles raised by the story, especially since many of us were raised on the Sunday School version. But no.

Any reasonable person on the battle site would expect that champions for each side would have it out, as customary, a winner would be declared and everybody would go home, or something like that. But Israel had a problem.

Who would be Israel’s champion to fight mano o mano with superman Goliath?

You know the story, I’m sure. After some backing and filling, young David the shepherd stepped forward, sling in hand.

I can’t resist this aside: I spent a dozen days in Israel in 1997 on a study tour, and we were treated to a demonstration of slinging a rock by a Palestinian man. Impressive. And we visited the two mountains (hills) with a valley between.

But I digress. What am I to make about this story, which doesn’t reveal when it occurred during Saul’s reign and poses other inconsistencies?

Perhaps I should start by recognizing the sovereignty of God. The story is part of the whole fabric of redemptive history. I think of all the times in the Old Testament where God intervened to rescue his chosen people (think manna and quail, the fall of Jericho). Is a boy and a rock and a giant really too much for me to swallow?

To go beyond this in interpreting the story, as we westerners are wont to do, seems to be fraught with risk, so I will not. My proper response, I think, is to take the story at face value and bow before the Story-Teller.

Apr 9, 2014 — Lent Day 31 — 1 Sam 18:1-5 — David and Jonathan’s Friendship

What can I learn from this affecting account of the friendship between David and Jonathan?

We are told that it was a soul to soul relationship, which lifts itself above the relationship called “friendship” today. For mostly cultural reasons, I consider a soul-deep friendship all but impossible for men (at least) today.

You may give me the shirt off your back, but does that qualify you to be a true friend. I don’t think so. Even if both you and I are eager to make real sacrifices for the other’s welfare, it still falls short of the kind of soul to soul relationship I read into this passage.

Why so? Well, the residual sin we all have inherited, for one. This leads to the sexual overtones our society has educated us to see in male bonding.

When I think of the ways I avoid the very kind of close relationship that most men inwardly yearn for, I hang my head in shame.

The result of David and Jonthan’s special friendship was David’s success in all that he did, and this earned him the people’s approval.

Apr 10, 2014 — Lent Day 32 — 1 Sam 18:6-16 — Saul’s Jealously of David

Saul provides us with a prime example of a leader becoming fearful and concerned with only himself. It is an indication of the beginning of the end of his being a leader of his people.

Even Saul could see that the favor of the Lord had left him and now rested upon the young upstart David.

The last verse is telling: “[16] But all Israel and Judah loved David, for he went out and came in before them.” A good leader stays close and listens to the people he serves. We should expect as much from our nation’s leaders.

Besides the leadership lessons in this passage, I am reminded of the often overlooked role and influence of the Holy Spirit in the affairs of men. Come, Holy Spirit, as we prepare to celebrate the resurrection.

Apr 11 2014 — Lent Day 33 — 1 Sam 18:17-3= — David Marries Michal

Interesting passage, this! I find three major themes here: 1) the work of the demented mind of Saul, who wants badly to do David in, 2) clues to David’s susceptibility to self-delusion, and 3) how an endlessly patient God accomplishes his will in spite of man’s natural weaknesses. Only Michal in this story comes across un-tarnished. (We will find out later that she, too, has human failings.)

Even Saul could see that God was on David’s side.

This passage emphasizes for me that having God “on my side” does not free me from the residual effects of my natural stubborn and rebellious proclivities. God may give me success (according to my lights) in what I undertake, but there is much of his plan for me still hidden. It’s only the top of the eighth, not the end of the game.

I also am reminded that it is pretty dicey trying to discern the motives of others. David was no doubt convinced that Saul was doing him a favor by giving him the hand of Michal.

Wise as a serpent and innocent as a dove. That is how I should face life.

Apr 12, 2014 — Lent Day 34 — 1 Sam 19:1-24 — Saul Tries to Kill David

When the Spirit was taken from Saul, he was moved first to call a staff meeting and announce a new objective for the kingdom. (Sorry, but I keep on thinking like a corporate CEO instead of like a normal person.)

The new objective was simple: kill David, and the sooner the better.

Jonathan was able to calm his father’s stormy waters for a time, but it didn’t last. When David defeated the Philistines once again, Saul (with the Lord’s help) went off the deep end again and attacked David.

Jonathan and Michal helped David escape. He found Samuel and a strange sequence of events ensued that even at one point had King Saul prophesying along with Samuel and David.

So what devotional help do I receive from this narrative?

Perhaps the Spirit of God is a whole lot more active in the affairs of my life than I realize. I will try to be aware of this in my day-to-day activities

Key Passage

One of the young men answered, “Behold, I have seen a son of Jesse the Bethlehemite, who is skillful in playing, a man of valor, a man of war, prudent in speech, and a man of good presence, and the LORD is with him.”
(1 Samuel 16:18 ESV)

Is there a parent anywhere who would not want this said of their son? My friend Dennis Gorman would say, “Sounds like a Boy Scout.” I would expand on that a bit and say, “Sounds like a Christian with integrity,” meaning one who has it all together. What you see is what you get. Skilled. Brave. Strong. Speaks carefully. Charismatic. Filled with the Holy Spirit.


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