Wednesday, August 31, 2016

I can't stand the sight or sound of you!

The next day a harmful spirit from God rushed upon Saul, and he raved within his house while David was playing the lyre, as he did day by day. Saul had his spear in his hand. And Saul hurled the spear, for he thought, “I will pin David to the wall.” But David evaded him twice. Saul was afraid of David because the LORD was with him but had departed from Saul. So Saul removed him from his presence and made him a commander of a thousand. And he went out and came in before the people. And David had success in all his undertakings, for the LORD was with him. And when Saul saw that he had great success, he stood in fearful awe of him. But all Israel and Judah loved David, for he went out and came in before them. (1 Samuel 18:10-16 ESV) Saul's heart and eyes had been filled with envy. If he could not have the success, the popularity, the kingdom, then nobody should. Everything and everyone he saw and heard was filtered through this bitter envy. Even the soothing songs of David. He could no longer stand the sound or sight of him, so he removed him from his presence, and hoped to remove him from the earth. Saul was living in fear - not of physical harm from David, but of the comparative success and popularity David had above him. The comparison game. It's really not a game. It's deadly inner warfare. If you play, you lose. God was going to protect David, while Saul opened himself up to loss after loss. Who are you "tired of seeing or hearing?" Is it because of the evil eye game?

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

The Envious Eye...

As they were coming home, when David returned from striking down the Philistine, the women came out of all the cities of Israel, singing and dancing, to meet King Saul, with tambourines, with songs of joy, and with musical instruments. And the women sang to one another as they celebrated, “Saul has struck down his thousands, and David his ten thousands.” And Saul was very angry, and this saying displeased him. He said, “They have ascribed to David ten thousands, and to me they have ascribed thousands, and what more can he have but the kingdom?” And Saul eyed David from that day on. (1 Samuel 18:6-9 ESV) Saul thrived on public opinion. It was the meter by which he gauged all things: whether and when to go to battle; whether to obey God or not; how he treated others. When Davids' popularity matched and possibly exceeded his own, Saul snapped. He could not bear the thought of someone else being number 1. Deep down he knew the truth: David was the up and coming king; Saul was on his way out. But rather than submit to God's will, he allowed bitterness and envy to slip in, keeping his evil, envious eye on David. It's easy for us to see. What is much more difficult is for us to objectively see our own envy, bitterness, and resentment of others. But we know One who can, and does. So what are we to do? Ask Him to help us see what He sees, own up to it, confess it, and set a loving, praying eye on anyone we envy. When we ask God to bless them with what they need, He will be blessing all those around that person, including me.

Monday, August 29, 2016

Sincere Soulmates...

As soon as he had finished speaking to Saul, the soul of Jonathan was knit to the soul of David, and Jonathan loved him as his own soul. And Saul took him that day and would not let him return to his father's house. Then Jonathan made a covenant with David, because he loved him as his own soul. And Jonathan stripped himself of the robe that was on him and gave it to David, and his armor, and even his sword and his bow and his belt. And David went out and was successful wherever Saul sent him, so that Saul set him over the men of war. And this was good in the sight of all the people and also in the sight of Saul's servants. (1 Samuel 18:1-5 ESV) This passage is only half about David. Before this, both men had shown exceptional courage above all others in battle. Both of them had the same heart: they wanted to see the Kingdom of Israel succeed and establish the borders God had originally intended. Both lived life before God, trusting Him and believing He was the true King. Jonathan went one further. By his actions, be demonstrated conviction that David was a better leader and warrior than himself. Comrades. That's what we need - brothers and sisters in Christ who will work together, admitting that each one has strengths the other lacks, and keeping the big picture in view. It's not just my story or yours; it's His.

Sunday, August 28, 2016

Please, not me, Lord!

Transgression speaks to the wicked deep in his heart; there is no fear of God before his eyes. For he flatters himself in his own eyes that his iniquity cannot be found out and hated. The words of his mouth are trouble and deceit; he has ceased to act wisely and do good. He plots trouble while on his bed; he sets himself in a way that is not good; he does not reject evil. Your steadfast love, O LORD, extends to the heavens, your faithfulness to the clouds. Your righteousness is like the mountains of God; your judgments are like the great deep; man and beast you save, O LORD. How precious is your steadfast love, O God! The children of mankind take refuge in the shadow of your wings. They feast on the abundance of your house, and you give them drink from the river of your delights. For with you is the fountain of life; in your light do we see light. Oh, continue your steadfast love to those who know you, and your righteousness to the upright of heart! Let not the foot of arrogance come upon me, nor the hand of the wicked drive me away. There the evildoers lie fallen; they are thrust down, unable to rise. (Psalm 36 ESV) David witnessed first hand what happens when pride takes over. Saul demonstrated these characteristics listed in the Psalm: transgression deep in the heart, flattering oneself, deceitful words, failure to act wisely, a failure to reject evil or turn course onto doing good. David did not want to turn out that way, so he prayed: "Let not the foot of arrogance come upon me." It can happen to any of us. We must humbly pray it does not, lest we begin to compare ourselves and feel we are spiritually superior. We must also do what David did here and compare ourselves to the awesome character of God: steadfast, faithful, abundant, the source of all light and life. May we celebrate Him today, not ourselves, lest we too fall prey to pride.

Saturday, August 27, 2016

Dealing with our enemies...

Contend, O LORD, with those who contend with me; fight against those who fight against me! Take hold of shield and buckler and rise for my help! Draw the spear and javelin against my pursuers! Say to my soul, “I am your salvation!” Let them be put to shame and dishonor who seek after my life! Let them be turned back and disappointed who devise evil against me! Let them be like chaff before the wind, with the angel of the LORD driving them away! Let their way be dark and slippery, with the angel of the LORD pursuing them! For without cause they hid their net for me; without cause they dug a pit for my life. Let destruction come upon him when he does not know it! And let the net that he hid ensnare him; let him fall into it—to his destruction! Then my soul will rejoice in the LORD, exulting in his salvation. All my bones shall say, “O LORD, who is like you, delivering the poor from him who is too strong for him, the poor and needy from him who robs him?” Malicious witnesses rise up; they ask me of things that I do not know. They repay me evil for good; my soul is bereft. But I, when they were sick— I wore sackcloth; I afflicted myself with fasting; I prayed with head bowed on my chest. I went about as though I grieved for my friend or my brother; as one who laments his mother, I bowed down in mourning. But at my stumbling they rejoiced and gathered; they gathered together against me; wretches whom I did not know tore at me without ceasing; like profane mockers at a feast, they gnash at me with their teeth. How long, O Lord, will you look on? Rescue me from their destruction, my precious life from the lions! I will thank you in the great congregation; in the mighty throng I will praise you. (Psalm 35:1-18 ESV) David had been singing psalms to sooth the soul of Saul. But now, Saul was pursuing him to kill him. As David says here, he had fasted for, prayed for, and grieved over Saul as he suffered, but now Saul had no compassion for David. He was out to destroy him. So now David calls out to God for justice and deliverance, for Contend, O LORD, with those who contend with me; fight against those who fight against me! Take hold of shield and buckler and rise for my help! Draw the spear and javelin against my pursuers! Say to my soul, “I am your salvation!” Let them be put to shame and dishonor who seek after my life! Let them be turned back and disappointed who devise evil against me! Let them be like chaff before the wind, with the angel of the LORD driving them away! Let their way be dark and slippery, with the angel of the LORD pursuing them! For without cause they hid their net for me; without cause they dug a pit for my life. Let destruction come upon him when he does not know it! And let the net that he hid ensnare him; let him fall into it—to his destruction! Then my soul will rejoice in the LORD, exulting in his salvation. All my bones shall say, “O LORD, who is like you, delivering the poor from him who is too strong for him, the poor and needy from him who robs him?” Malicious witnesses rise up; they ask me of things that I do not know. They repay me evil for good; my soul is bereft. But I, when they were sick— I wore sackcloth; I afflicted myself with fasting; I prayed with head bowed on my chest. I went about as though I grieved for my friend or my brother; as one who laments his mother, I bowed down in mourning. But at my stumbling they rejoiced and gathered; they gathered together against me; wretches whom I did not know tore at me without ceasing; like profane mockers at a feast, they gnash at me with their teeth. How long, O Lord, will you look on? Rescue me from their destruction, my precious life from the lions! I will thank you in the great congregation; in the mighty throng I will praise you. (Psalm 35:1-18 ESV) David had been singing to sooth the soul of Saul. As he did so, he tells us here that he had fasted and prayed on behalf of Saul, grieving over his suffering. But now Saul is pursuing David, seeking to destroy him. David calls out to God for justice, for protection, and deliverance. He continues to offer praise to God, but he wants to be able to do so in public, for all to hear. How do we deal with our enemies - especially those who at one time appeared to be our friends, to whom we have shown love and compassion? Prayer for them; praise to God; persistence of faith. May God grant us wisdom and grace to respond as David.

Friday, August 26, 2016

Singing to Myself...

I will bless the LORD at all times; his praise shall continually be in my mouth. My soul makes its boast in the LORD; let the humble hear and be glad. Oh, magnify the LORD with me, and let us exalt his name together! I sought the LORD, and he answered me and delivered me from all my fears. Those who look to him are radiant, and their faces shall never be ashamed. This poor man cried, and the LORD heard him and saved him out of all his troubles. The angel of the LORD encamps around those who fear him, and delivers them. Oh, taste and see that the LORD is good! Blessed is the man who takes refuge in him! Oh, fear the LORD, you his saints, for those who fear him have no lack! The young lions suffer want and hunger; but those who seek the LORD lack no good thing. Come, O children, listen to me; I will teach you the fear of the LORD. What man is there who desires life and loves many days, that he may see good? Keep your tongue from evil and your lips from speaking deceit. Turn away from evil and do good; seek peace and pursue it. The eyes of the LORD are toward the righteous and his ears toward their cry. The face of the LORD is against those who do evil, to cut off the memory of them from the earth. When the righteous cry for help, the LORD hears and delivers them out of all their troubles. The LORD is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit. Many are the afflictions of the righteous, but the LORD delivers him out of them all. He keeps all his bones; not one of them is broken. Affliction will slay the wicked, and those who hate the righteous will be condemned. The LORD redeems the life of his servants; none of those who take refuge in him will be condemned. (Psalm 34 ESV) David sang a lot of songs to King Saul to comfort him. But eventually he had to flee from Saul. Just as Saul was troubled in spirit, David faced many troubles, and on this occasion had been hiding in caves. Yet he sings, sharing with us the story of his suffering and the sufficiency of God in every situation. When he was down he sang these truths to himself: bless, magnify, seek, cry out to and taste God no matter what. He is waiting to hear. And he is watching our response. Will we keep our tongue from evil an turn away from it, or call out to Him and trust Him? The answer of our lives will show what we really believe about God: Is He good? Is He near? Does He hear? Does He save? Let's sing a song to ourselves today, reminding ourselves of all God is and how we need Him.

Thursday, August 25, 2016

Stubborn as a Mule...

Blessed is the one whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered. Blessed is the man against whom the LORD counts no iniquity, and in whose spirit there is no deceit. For when I kept silent, my bones wasted away through my groaning all day long. For day and night your hand was heavy upon me; my strength was dried up as by the heat of summer. Selah I acknowledged my sin to you, and I did not cover my iniquity; I said, “I will confess my transgressions to the LORD,” and you forgave the iniquity of my sin. Selah Therefore let everyone who is godly offer prayer to you at a time when you may be found; surely in the rush of great waters, they shall not reach him. You are a hiding place for me; you preserve me from trouble; you surround me with shouts of deliverance. Selah I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you with my eye upon you. Be not like a horse or a mule, without understanding, which must be curbed with bit and bridle, or it will not stay near you. Many are the sorrows of the wicked, but steadfast love surrounds the one who trusts in the LORD. Be glad in the LORD, and rejoice, O righteous, and shout for joy, all you upright in heart! (Psalm 32 ESV) Saul was one stubborn guy. When God kept trying to point out his stubborn rebellion, he kept professing his innocence. I wonder what he thought when David sang this song? True contentment only comes when we confess and find forgiveness. The agony described here of what happens when we do not confess is similar to the description of God's heavy hand of conviction on Saul. What does it take to move me from the stubbornness of my sin? Am I spiritually as stubborn as a mule, refusing to come drink of the waters of forgiveness? May it not be so. Avoid the sorrow. Stop being stubborn about sin.

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

The REAL Voice...

Ascribe to the LORD, O heavenly beings, ascribe to the LORD glory and strength. Ascribe to the LORD the glory due his name; worship the LORD in the splendor of holiness. The voice of the LORD is over the waters; the God of glory thunders, the LORD, over many waters. The voice of the LORD is powerful; the voice of the LORD is full of majesty. The voice of the LORD breaks the cedars; the LORD breaks the cedars of Lebanon. He makes Lebanon to skip like a calf, and Sirion like a young wild ox. The voice of the LORD flashes forth flames of fire. The voice of the LORD shakes the wilderness; the LORD shakes the wilderness of Kadesh. The voice of the LORD makes the deer give birth and strips the forests bare, and in his temple all cry, “Glory!” The LORD sits enthroned over the flood; the LORD sits enthroned as king forever. May the LORD give strength to his people! May the LORD bless his people with peace! (Psalm 29 ESV) God speaks. He has always spoken - among the Trinity, at creation, to His creation, and to His people. We do not listen very well. David sang what God spoke to King Saul, who did not listen well. He listened to the fears of his people and the evil spirit who bothered him, but not well to God. So David sang: "Listen to God speak. His voice is both powerful and peaceful at the same time. He is in control. He knows what He is doing. He is the real King, with the real voice worth listening to.

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

One of David's Theme Songs??

To you, O LORD, I call; my rock, be not deaf to me, lest, if you be silent to me, I become like those who go down to the pit. Hear the voice of my pleas for mercy, when I cry to you for help, when I lift up my hands toward your most holy sanctuary. Do not drag me off with the wicked, with the workers of evil, who speak peace with their neighbors while evil is in their hearts. Give to them according to their work and according to the evil of their deeds; give to them according to the work of their hands; render them their due reward. Because they do not regard the works of the LORD or the work of his hands, he will tear them down and build them up no more. Blessed be the LORD! For he has heard the voice of my pleas for mercy. The LORD is my strength and my shield; in him my heart trusts, and I am helped; my heart exults, and with my song I give thanks to him. The LORD is the strength of his people; he is the saving refuge of his anointed. Oh, save your people and bless your heritage! Be their shepherd and carry them forever. (Psalm 28 ESV) As David prepared to face Goliath, he told Saul, and reminded himself, of how God had seen him through conflicts as a shepherd with a bear and a lion. He well could have been dragged away by the lion and destroyed, but he relied upon the Great Shepherd to strengthen and protect him. This gave him a song, no many songs, to sing. His personal experience was one he encouraged Saul to consider, and for his people as a whole to take to heart. We need HIS shepherding and His blessing. We also need to make sure that we do not regard evil in our hearts and lives, and be like those who oppress others. May we be people of mercy, and receive His mercy.

Monday, August 22, 2016

Impatience and Fear... Of David. The LORD is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? The LORD is the stronghold of my life; of whom shall I be afraid? When evildoers assail me to eat up my flesh, my adversaries and foes, it is they who stumble and fall. Though an army encamp against me, my heart shall not fear; though war arise against me, yet I will be confident. One thing have I asked of the LORD, that will I seek after: that I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life, to gaze upon the beauty of the LORD and to inquire in his temple. For he will hide me in his shelter in the day of trouble; he will conceal me under the cover of his tent; he will lift me high upon a rock. And now my head shall be lifted up above my enemies all around me, and I will offer in his tent sacrifices with shouts of joy; I will sing and make melody to the LORD. Hear, O LORD, when I cry aloud; be gracious to me and answer me! You have said, “Seek my face.” My heart says to you, “Your face, LORD, do I seek.” Hide not your face from me. Turn not your servant away in anger, O you who have been my help. Cast me not off; forsake me not, O God of my salvation! For my father and my mother have forsaken me, but the LORD will take me in. Teach me your way, O LORD, and lead me on a level path because of my enemies. Give me not up to the will of my adversaries; for false witnesses have risen against me, and they breathe out violence. I believe that I shall look upon the goodness of the LORD in the land of the living! Wait for the LORD; be strong, and let your heart take courage; wait for the LORD! (Psalm 27 ESV) Saul repeatedly failed in the same area: Becoming filled with fear and failing to wait on the Lord. It was a problem that went to both extremes: he would either become afraid of public pressure and not wait on the Lord (the last admonition here), or he would become frozen and fear and not respond to God's call to action. The primary issue was how he viewed God - rather how he did NOT view God. He did not view Got as his light and his salvation; viewed himself as his only hope. Where we begin affects where we end. Trust in Him as the Light we need; wait on Him and do not be afraid.

Sunday, August 21, 2016

The Ripple effect...

When the Philistine arose and came and drew near to meet David, David ran quickly toward the battle line to meet the Philistine. And David put his hand in his bag and took out a stone and slung it and struck the Philistine on his forehead. The stone sank into his forehead, and he fell on his face to the ground. So David prevailed over the Philistine with a sling and with a stone, and struck the Philistine and killed him. There was no sword in the hand of David. Then David ran and stood over the Philistine and took his sword and drew it out of its sheath and killed him and cut off his head with it. When the Philistines saw that their champion was dead, they fled. And the men of Israel and Judah rose with a shout and pursued the Philistines as far as Gath and the gates of Ekron, so that the wounded Philistines fell on the way from Shaaraim as far as Gath and Ekron. And the people of Israel came back from chasing the Philistines, and they plundered their camp. And David took the head of the Philistine and brought it to Jerusalem, but he put his armor in his tent. As soon as Saul saw David go out against the Philistine, he said to Abner, the commander of the army, “Abner, whose son is this youth?” And Abner said, “As your soul lives, O king, I do not know.” And the king said, “Inquire whose son the boy is.” And as soon as David returned from the striking down of the Philistine, Abner took him, and brought him before Saul with the head of the Philistine in his hand. And Saul said to him, “Whose son are you, young man?” And David answered, “I am the son of your servant Jesse the Bethlehemite.” (1 Samuel 17:48-58 ESV) So, what happens when we serve God where we are, even in the smallest of ways? He opens up bigger opportunities, and challenges our faith. Will we see what we see? Will we hear Him calling? David was doing those kinds of things when God called him to stand up to the giant, then step back and let God land the stone. By doing so, a lot changed: the boastful blaspheming babbler was silenced, the Philistines fled in fear, and David found himself more well entrenched in theu royal palace as the king's son-in-law. Obedience does that. Faith does that. Where could we go? What could we do, if we followed the same pattern? Know God's word well enough to sing it and apply it; serve him Him and our family in the humblest ways; trust him enough to take a risk that might cause us our lives, our face, our future, because we know He is faithful.

Saturday, August 20, 2016

It comes to this...

When the words that David spoke were heard, they repeated them before Saul, and he sent for him. And David said to Saul, “Let no man's heart fail because of him. Your servant will go and fight with this Philistine.” And Saul said to David, “You are not able to go against this Philistine to fight with him, for you are but a youth, and he has been a man of war from his youth.” But David said to Saul, “Your servant used to keep sheep for his father. And when there came a lion, or a bear, and took a lamb from the flock, I went after him and struck him and delivered it out of his mouth. And if he arose against me, I caught him by his beard and struck him and killed him. Your servant has struck down both lions and bears, and this uncircumcised Philistine shall be like one of them, for he has defied the armies of the living God.” And David said, “The LORD who delivered me from the paw of the lion and from the paw of the bear will deliver me from the hand of this Philistine.” And Saul said to David, “Go, and the LORD be with you!” Then Saul clothed David with his armor. He put a helmet of bronze on his head and clothed him with a coat of mail, and David strapped his sword over his armor. And he tried in vain to go, for he had not tested them. Then David said to Saul, “I cannot go with these, for I have not tested them.” So David put them off. Then he took his staff in his hand and chose five smooth stones from the brook and put them in his shepherd's pouch. His sling was in his hand, and he approached the Philistine. And the Philistine moved forward and came near to David, with his shield-bearer in front of him. And when the Philistine looked and saw David, he disdained him, for he was but a youth, ruddy and handsome in appearance. And the Philistine said to David, “Am I a dog, that you come to me with sticks?” And the Philistine cursed David by his gods. The Philistine said to David, “Come to me, and I will give your flesh to the birds of the air and to the beasts of the field.” Then David said to the Philistine, “You come to me with a sword and with a spear and with a javelin, but I come to you in the name of the LORD of hosts, the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defied. This day the LORD will deliver you into my hand, and I will strike you down and cut off your head. And I will give the dead bodies of the host of the Philistines this day to the birds of the air and to the wild beasts of the earth, that all the earth may know that there is a God in Israel, and that all this assembly may know that the LORD saves not with sword and spear. For the battle is the LORD's, and he will give you into our hand.” (1 Samuel 17:31-47 ESV) Goliath had it all: the experience, the size, the armored-car protection, the equipment. And he was mean. No wonder they called him "Champion." Despite listing his credentials of lion-taming and bear-wrestling, David knew the real secret to success in this battle. It was the LORD's fight, not his. He just needed to not get in the way of what God wanted to do. We can complain all we want about why others and an impediment to us doing what God wants, but it comes down to this: is it our battle, or His? Let's step up, and get out of the way.

Friday, August 19, 2016

Let me get this straight...

Now Saul and they and all the men of Israel were in the Valley of Elah, fighting with the Philistines. And David rose early in the morning and left the sheep with a keeper and took the provisions and went, as Jesse had commanded him. And he came to the encampment as the host was going out to the battle line, shouting the war cry. And Israel and the Philistines drew up for battle, army against army. And David left the things in charge of the keeper of the baggage and ran to the ranks and went and greeted his brothers. As he talked with them, behold, the champion, the Philistine of Gath, Goliath by name, came up out of the ranks of the Philistines and spoke the same words as before. And David heard him. All the men of Israel, when they saw the man, fled from him and were much afraid. And the men of Israel said, “Have you seen this man who has come up? Surely he has come up to defy Israel. And the king will enrich the man who kills him with great riches and will give him his daughter and make his father's house free in Israel.” And David said to the men who stood by him, “What shall be done for the man who kills this Philistine and takes away the reproach from Israel? For who is this uncircumcised Philistine, that he should defy the armies of the living God?” And the people answered him in the same way, “So shall it be done to the man who kills him.” Now Eliab his eldest brother heard when he spoke to the men. And Eliab's anger was kindled against David, and he said, “Why have you come down? And with whom have you left those few sheep in the wilderness? I know your presumption and the evil of your heart, for you have come down to see the battle.” And David said, “What have I done now? Was it not but a word?” And he turned away from him toward another, and spoke in the same way, and the people answered him again as before. (1 Samuel 17:19-30 ESV) David was not dazzled by doubt and dread when he saw and heard Goliath. Unlike the others, who were filled with fear, who could see and think only the worst, David saw opportunity. He also saw red - a righteous anger: "Who is this ungodly person, that he should be allowed to disgrace God? Are we willing to give up all dignity and do nothing? Let me get this straight: 'We're going to sit around and do nothing but more and more afraid, when the name of God is on the line, and there is a prize to be won? What is wrong with you people!?!" What is wrong with us indeed? God has promised so much when we are willing to stand up and speak up for him. Who does the enemy think he is? Will we sit here and do nothing?

Thursday, August 18, 2016

Mundane? I think not...

Now David was the son of an Ephrathite of Bethlehem in Judah, named Jesse, who had eight sons. In the days of Saul the man was already old and advanced in years. The three oldest sons of Jesse had followed Saul to the battle. And the names of his three sons who went to the battle were Eliab the firstborn, and next to him Abinadab, and the third Shammah. David was the youngest. The three eldest followed Saul, but David went back and forth from Saul to feed his father's sheep at Bethlehem. For forty days the Philistine came forward and took his stand, morning and evening. And Jesse said to David his son, “Take for your brothers an ephah of this parched grain, and these ten loaves, and carry them quickly to the camp to your brothers. Also take these ten cheeses to the commander of their thousand. See if your brothers are well, and bring some token from them.” (1 Samuel 17:12-18 ESV) David was working two or three part-time jobs: shepherd for his father's sheep, songster for Saul in the King's palace, and gopher/messenger for the family. He carried out each of these repetitive, no-guts-or-glory jobs faithfully and joyfully. As we will see, it was only by his doing so that he found himself in the right place at the right time to change history, as well as his own life. He defeated the enemy, got a wife, and became a household name for all generations in one short day. The daily grind. The mundane tasks. The boring life. Never true when you are living life before God, willing to serve Him and others, and step out in faith when the opportunity arises. Have a David kind of day.

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

When it's all you can see...

Now the Philistines gathered their armies for battle. And they were gathered at Socoh, which belongs to Judah, and encamped between Socoh and Azekah, in Ephes-dammim. And Saul and the men of Israel were gathered, and encamped in the Valley of Elah, and drew up in line of battle against the Philistines. And the Philistines stood on the mountain on the one side, and Israel stood on the mountain on the other side, with a valley between them. And there came out from the camp of the Philistines a champion named Goliath of Gath, whose height was six cubits and a span. He had a helmet of bronze on his head, and he was armed with a coat of mail, and the weight of the coat was five thousand shekels of bronze. And he had bronze armor on his legs, and a javelin of bronze slung between his shoulders. The shaft of his spear was like a weaver's beam, and his spear's head weighed six hundred shekels of iron. And his shield-bearer went before him. He stood and shouted to the ranks of Israel, “Why have you come out to draw up for battle? Am I not a Philistine, and are you not servants of Saul? Choose a man for yourselves, and let him come down to me. If he is able to fight with me and kill me, then we will be your servants. But if I prevail against him and kill him, then you shall be our servants and serve us.” And the Philistine said, “I defy the ranks of Israel this day. Give me a man, that we may fight together.” When Saul and all Israel heard these words of the Philistine, they were dismayed and greatly afraid. (1 Samuel 17:1-11 ESV) He was so big, physically, that he was all they could see. Goliath - the one two heads and shoulders above Saul, who was "head and shoulders above the rest." He more than stuck out. He overshadowed all. He was all they could see, and that brought terror. Who or what is our Goliath? The one person, thing or situation that is all we can see or think about? He takes up our time, day after day. It pulls us down out of the Light of Eternity. We allow it, we allow them, to blot out what is behind and beside and before and over them and us: God Himself and His Plan. We need to move our focus. There is much more, so much more for us to see, so that Goliath is seen for who he really is: a big mouthed, small part of reality.

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Remember, Remember not...

To you, O LORD, I lift up my soul. O my God, in you I trust; let me not be put to shame; let not my enemies exult over me. Indeed, none who wait for you shall be put to shame; they shall be ashamed who are wantonly treacherous. Make me to know your ways, O LORD; teach me your paths. Lead me in your truth and teach me, for you are the God of my salvation; for you I wait all the day long. Remember your mercy, O LORD, and your steadfast love, for they have been from of old. Remember not the sins of my youth or my transgressions; according to your steadfast love remember me, for the sake of your goodness, O LORD! Good and upright is the LORD; therefore he instructs sinners in the way. He leads the humble in what is right, and teaches the humble his way. All the paths of the LORD are steadfast love and faithfulness, for those who keep his covenant and his testimonies. For your name's sake, O LORD, pardon my guilt, for it is great. Who is the man who fears the LORD? Him will he instruct in the way that he should choose. His soul shall abide in well-being, and his offspring shall inherit the land. The friendship of the LORD is for those who fear him, and he makes known to them his covenant. My eyes are ever toward the LORD, for he will pluck my feet out of the net. Turn to me and be gracious to me, for I am lonely and afflicted. The troubles of my heart are enlarged; bring me out of my distresses. Consider my affliction and my trouble, and forgive all my sins. (Psalm 25:1-18 ESV) Yet another Psalm of David that would hit home with Saul. He was lonely and troubled in heart. He had many sins that needed to be forgiven. He needed to remember God's mercy, and to humbly cry out to the LORD for forgiveness. He needed at every path to seek His guidance, and not rely on his own wisdom. May the imagery of this picture and the truth of these words stick with us today.

Monday, August 15, 2016

The King of Glory

Psalm 24 1 The earth is the Lord's and the fullness thereof, the world and those who dwell therein, 2 for he has founded it upon the seas and established it upon the rivers. 3 Who shall ascend the hill of the Lord? And who shall stand in his holy place? 4 He who has clean hands and a pure heart, who does not lift up his soul to what is false and does not swear deceitfully. 5 He will receive blessing from the Lord and righteousness from the God of his salvation. 6 Such is the generation of those who seek him, who seek the face of the God of Jacob. Selah 7 Lift up your heads, O gates! And be lifted up, O ancient doors, that the King of glory may come in. 8 Who is this King of glory? The Lord, strong and mighty, the Lord, mighty in battle! 9 Lift up your heads, O gates! And lift them up, O ancient doors, that the King of glory may come in. 10 Who is this King of glory? The Lord of hosts, he is the King of glory! Selah As we continue to think about the psalms David mey have sung to Saul, this psalm of praise would have powerful truth to comfort and convict. The LORD is king, not Saul. We need Him. So how can we approach such Glory? Worship. Confession. Honesty. Humility. These were not Saul's strong suit. Often they are not ours. May we begin our day right, bowing before the King of Glory.

Sunday, August 14, 2016

One of Saul's Favorites?

Psalm 23 The Lord Is My Shepherd A Psalm of David. 23 The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want. 2 He makes me lie down in green pastures. He leads me beside still waters. 3 He restores my soul. He leads me in paths of righteousness for his name's sake. 4 Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me. 5 You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; you anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows. 6 Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life, and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord forever. When David cane to sing to Saul to comfort him, he had most recently been shepherding his father's sheep. The imagery here would be fresh in his mind. This psalm could have been one of his earliest and greatest hits, heard by many in the king's court. It's themes are comforting, which is what Saul wanted, but they are also challenging, which is what we all need: Am i following the lead of the shepherd and trusting Him for all I need? Do I appreciate Him and all He does for me?

Saturday, August 13, 2016

How many ways can God say it?

Psalm 19 The Law of the Lord Is Perfect To the choirmaster. A Psalm of David. 19 The heavens declare the glory of God, and the sky above proclaims his handiwork. 2 Day to day pours out speech, and night to night reveals knowledge. 3 There is no speech, nor are there words, whose voice is not heard. 4 Their voice goes out through all the earth, and their words to the end of the world. In them he has set a tent for lthe sun, 5 which comes out like a bridegroom leaving his chamber, and, like a strong man, runs its course with joy. 6 Its rising is from the end of the heavens, and its circuit to the end of them, and there is nothing hidden from its heat. 7 The law of the Lord is perfect, Reviving the soul; the testimony of the Lord is sure, making wise the simple; 8 the precepts of the Lord are right, rejoicing the heart; the commandment of the Lord is pure, Enlightening the eyes; 9 the fear of the Lord is clean, enduring forever; the rules of the Lord are true, and righteous altogether. 10 More to be desired are they than gold, even much fine gold; sweeter also than honey and drippings of the honeycomb. 11 Moreover, by them is your servant warned; in keeping them there is great reward. 12 Who can discern his errors? Declare me innocent from hidden faults. 13 Keep back your servant also from presumptuous sins; let them not have idominion over me! Then I shall be blameless, and innocent of great transgression. 14 Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in your sight, O Lord, my rock and my redeemer. This is one of the psalms of David i can weill imagine him singing to Saul to calm his spirit. David could see and hear God speaking so loudly, but Saul had turned a deaf ear. The only way we and Saul can find peace is to look to and listen to Him.

Friday, August 12, 2016

Singing thanks... not trouble Yes... you will have to follow the link to the passage today... Trouble... it seems to find us wherever we go. Saul felt that way...that everywhere and everyone brought him trouble. So David sought to sing him elsewhere, toward thanksgiving. God wants us to do the same, focusing on all we have to give thanks for, instead of what gives us trouble.

Thursday, August 11, 2016

Where is the LORD?

PSALM 11 1 In the Lord I take refuge; how can you say to my soul, “Flee like a bird to your mountain, 2 for behold, the wicked bend the bow; they have fitted their arrow to the string to shoot in the dark at the upright in heart; 3 if the foundations are destroyed, what can the righteous do?” 4 The Lord is in his holy temple; the Lord's throne is in heaven; his eyes see, his eyelids test the children of man. 5 The Lord tests the righteous, but his soul hates the wicked and the one who loves violence. 6 Let him rain coals on the wicked; fire and sulfur and a scorching wind shall be the portion of their cup. 7 For the Lord is righteous; he loves righteous deeds; the upright shall behold his face. David has been sent by God to Saul (and us) to comfort and challenge with God's Word. One of Saul's (and our) struggles is remembering where God is. Saul lived life as if God was not on His throne, Not Holy, and not involve in His every move, decision, and thought. We often act the same way. Where is the LORD? In His temple, the Holy of Holies. Where is the LORD? Ruling as sovereign king over His creation (and over the King of Israel, President of the U.S., chairman of the church board). Where is the LORD? Wherever I am, watching and waiting for me to recognize Him, seek Him, Submit to Him. Let us live as if He is here right now.

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Is it them, or is it me?

PSALM 7 1 O Lord my God, in you do I take refuge; save me from all my pursuers and deliver me, 2 lest like a lion they tear my soul apart, rending it in pieces, with none to deliver. 3 O Lord my God, if I have done this, if there is wrong in my hands, 4 if I have repaid my friend2 with evil or plundered my enemy without cause, 5 let the enemy pursue my soul and overtake it, and let him trample my life to the ground and lay my glory in the dust. Selah 6 Arise, O Lord, in your anger; lift yourself up against the fury of my enemies; awake for me; you have appointed a judgment. 7 Let the assembly of the peoples be gathered about you; over it return on high. 8 The Lord judges the peoples; judge me, O Lord, according to my righteousness and according to the integrity that is in me. 9 Oh, let the evil of the wicked come to an end, and may you establish the righteous— you who test the minds and hearts, O righteous God! 10 My shield is with God, who saves the upright in heart. 11 God is ea righteous judge, and a God who feels indignation every day. 12 If a man does not repent, God will whet his sword; he has bent and readied his bow; 13 he has prepared for him his deadly weapons, making his arrows fiery shafts. 14 Behold, the wicked man conceives evil and is pregnant with mischief and gives birth to lies. 15 He makes a pit, digging it out, and falls into the hole that he has made. 16 His mischief returns upon his own head, and on his own skull his violence descends. 17 I will give to the Lord the thanks due to his righteousness, and I will sing praise to the name of the Lord, the Most High. Imagine David singing this Psalm in Saul's court. Immediately Saul would be attentive, hearing a song of complaint about all those who were against him. He would find comfort. But David does not stay there long. By verse 3 he is seriously considering the possibility that he had done something wrong, that he was receiving the righteous judgment of God, and getting the consequences of unrepented sin. Whenever we come to God with a complaint (And He wants us to!) we also need to be willing to receive both His comfort and His challenge.

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Songs we need to hear...

PSALM 5  1Give ear to my words, O Lord;
consider my ugroaning.
Give attention to the sound of my cry,
my vKing and my God,
for wto you do I pray.
Lord, in xthe morning you hear my voice;
in the morning I prepare a sacrifice for you1 and ywatch.

For you are not a God who delights in wickedness;
evil may not dwell with you.
The zboastful shall not astand before your eyes;
you bhate all evildoers.
You destroy those who speak clies;
the Lord abhors dthe bloodthirsty and deceitful man.

But I, through the abundance of your steadfast love,
will enter your house.
I will ebow down ftoward your gholy temple
in the fear of you.
hLead me, O Lord, in your righteousness
because of my enemies;
imake your way straight before me.

For there is no truth in their mouth;
their inmost self is jdestruction;
ktheir throat is lan open grave;
they mflatter with their tongue.
10  nMake them bear their guilt, O God;
let them ofall by their own counsels;
because of the abundance of their transgressions cast them out,
for they have rebelled against you.

11  But let all who ptake refuge in you qrejoice;
let them ever sing for joy,
and spread your protection over them,
that those who love your name may rexult in you.
12  For you sbless the righteous, O Lord;
you tcover him with favor as with ua shield.

God had placed David in Saul's court to comfort and challenge him with Psalms.  Saul needed to hear the truths of Psalms like this: God was King, not Saul.  Pride, lying and deceit were part of the reason that Saul had such a great fall, and needed to be confessed.  The place of blessing was in submission to God and His will.  The same is true for us: we love the Psalms for words of comfort, but we also need to be willing to receive their challenge. They confront us in our pride, self-focus and self-reliance. They bring us back to the truth: We need Him