Friday, September 30, 2016

When no one else cares...

When my spirit faints within me,
you know my way!
In the path where I walk
they have hidden a trap for me.
Look to the right and see:
there is none who takes notice of me;
no refuge remains to me;
no one cares for my soul.
(Psalm 142:3-4 ESV)
David, despite those who had gathered around him in support of his cause, often felt all alone.  The only ones he could see were those out to get him.  He could not see his way through to safety.  He was surrounded.  But he knew One who could see the way, who would be his safe place.  When there is no one else, He is there, faithful and true, and will see you through.

Thursday, September 29, 2016

Echoing prayer...

With my voice I cry out to the LORD;
with my voice I plead for mercy to the LORD.
I pour out my complaint before him;
I tell my trouble before him.
(Psalm 142:1-2 ESV)
David is in a cave... hiding from Saul. As he cries out to the Lord for safety, strength, and comfort, his pleas echo throughout the cave.  We hear that here in the poetic parallelism of this Psalm.  His voice is heard echoing his cry for mercy and telling his troubles to God.  Sometimes it seems like our voice is just bouncing back. We hear ourselves and wonder if only our ears hear.  But He does. He hears with both ears.  Keep on crying out and pouring out. David did. And the LORD heard his cry.  He will hear yours too.

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

An Awakened Heart

My heart is steadfast, O God,
my heart is steadfast!
I will sing and make melody!
Awake, my glory!
Awake, O harp and lyre!
I will awake the dawn!
I will give thanks to you, O Lord, among the peoples;
I will sing praises to you among the nations.
For your steadfast love is great to the heavens,
your faithfulness to the clouds.
Be exalted, O God, above the heavens!
Let your glory be over all the earth!
(Psalm 57:7-11 ESV)
A great awakening... that's what we need.  One where we are grateful for all the Lord has given to us and done for us.  Where we can sense His love and mercy, and see His faithfulness. We need such an awareness of God that we cannot help but have a song of praise in our heart to start the day.  This is no fluffy thing. David wrote this while hiding scared in a cave, on the run for his very life. There was barely any sunlight, let alone bright glory.  But he could see it. Can you?

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Praise from the pit!

My soul is in the midst of lions;

I lie down amid fiery beasts—
the children of man, whose teeth are spears and arrows,
whose tongues are sharp swords.
Be exalted, O God, above the heavens!
Let your glory be over all the earth!
They set a net for my steps;
my soul was bowed down.
They dug a pit in my way,
but they have fallen into it themselves. Selah
(Psalm 57:4-6 ESV)
Many of us recognize the verse above... we find ourselves singing it. But notice where it is sandwiched in:  David is under attack... verbally and literally, by the tongue and the sword.  He has been baited by Saul: "do good and I'll catch you!" But it is Saul who walked in the cave, fell into the trap.  So, in the midst of the accusations and lies and downright evil intentions of the enemy, David praised. It's not about me and my suffering and my feelings. It's about God's glory.
From what little I saw of the debate last night, I don't think either one gets this. But was as followers of Christ sure should.  We can look back on David, Daniel, Joseph, and Christ Himself who endured such lying attacks and vicious plots, and say at the end of the day: "Be Exalted, O God! Let you Glory rule my life!"

Monday, September 26, 2016

Till the storms pass by...

Be merciful to me, O God, be merciful to me,
for in you my soul takes refuge;
in the shadow of your wings I will take refuge,
till the storms of destruction pass by.
I cry out to God Most High,
to God who fulfills his purpose for me.
He will send from heaven and save me;
he will put to shame him who tramples on me. Selah
God will send out his steadfast love and his faithfulness!
(Psalm 57:1-3 ESV)
David's life was one storm after another.  Between Saul and the Philistines, all the people who gathered around him, depending on him to help them with their problems, and worrying about his aging parents, David couldn't get a break. At this point Saul was in hot pursuit, and there seemed like no way of escape. So he did what he did best: he cried out to God for mercy, realizing that God had a purpose for him that HE was going to fulfill.  It was not David living up to God's expectations; it was God carrying out His plan and purpose for and through David.  As the instruments would play their interlude to let us reflect on this truth, it's as if David cannot hold himself back, as he chants: GOD WILL SEND OUT HIS STEADFAST LOVE AND HIS FAITHFULNESS! God is like that. We can depend on Him.  Let's call out to Him, and watch the storm pass by.

Sunday, September 25, 2016

True Confessions...

As soon as David had finished speaking these words to Saul, Saul said, “Is this your voice, my son David?” And Saul lifted up his voice and wept. He said to David, “You are more righteous than I, for you have repaid me good, whereas I have repaid you evil. And you have declared this day how you have dealt well with me, in that you did not kill me when the LORD put me into your hands. For if a man finds his enemy, will he let him go away safe? So may the LORD reward you with good for what you have done to me this day. And now, behold, I know that you shall surely be king, and that the kingdom of Israel shall be established in your hand. Swear to me therefore by the LORD that you will not cut off my offspring after me, and that you will not destroy my name out of my father's house.” And David swore this to Saul. Then Saul went home, but David and his men went up to the stronghold.
(1 Samuel 24:16-22 ESV)l
Did you ever start to think that you were not doing the right thing? Even when deep down in your relationship with God He kept telling you that you were? We see David second guessing himself, then humbly opening himself up to review. The result is found here: Saul admits he has done wrong and David has not; David deserves to be king and he does not; David will be king , and he will not. He tells the truth, then asks for mercy - for David to treat his descendants in a way undeserving of the way he has treated David. It is his way of saying: "Will you forgive me?"  David does.  But he realizes the truthfulness of Saul's words does not indicate the trustworthiness of Saul's character, so he goes his own way. What confessions do I (you) need to make today? Things that truth be revealed, I will look bad, and others be justified.  Where I stop claiming myself as a victim, and lift up others as worthy. Where I am willing to ask forgiveness and for mercy

Saturday, September 24, 2016

Total Vulnerability

Afterward David also arose and went out of the cave, and called after Saul, “My lord the king!” And when Saul looked behind him, David bowed with his face to the earth and paid homage. And David said to Saul, “Why do you listen to the words of men who say, ‘Behold, David seeks your harm’? Behold, this day your eyes have seen how the LORD gave you today into my hand in the cave. And some told me to kill you, but I spared you. I said, ‘I will not put out my hand against my lord, for he is the LORD's anointed.’ See, my father, see the corner of your robe in my hand. For by the fact that I cut off the corner of your robe and did not kill you, you may know and see that there is no wrong or treason in my hands. I have not sinned against you, though you hunt my life to take it. May the LORD judge between me and you, may the LORD avenge me against you, but my hand shall not be against you. As the proverb of the ancients says, ‘Out of the wicked comes wickedness.’ But my hand shall not be against you. After whom has the king of Israel come out? After whom do you pursue? After a dead dog! After a flea! May the LORD therefore be judge and give sentence between me and you, and see to it and plead my cause and deliver me from your hand.” (1 Samuel 24:8-15 ESV)
Was David nuts? Saul has been pursuing David in order to kill him. David has just surrendered his golden opportunity to return the favor. Now David gives up his cover, bows before his pursuer, and opens up his heart for criticism and his life for potential slaughter. Why would he do that? Because he truly believed in God as the ultimate judge. He believed that honesty and humility were more than a slogan - they are THE way of life. He begins the conversation by confessing what he had done wrong, making himself vulnerable, even though it was clear for all to see that Saul had much more he needed to confess to. What are you and I willing to do to "bring things out into the open? Are we willing to be vulnerable? To trust in God to "plead my cause and deliver me?" What important relationship are you having trouble doing that with? Follow David's example: humble honesty and total trust.

Friday, September 23, 2016

Respecting Personal Space...

When Saul returned from following the Philistines, he was told, “Behold, David is in the wilderness of Engedi.” Then Saul took three thousand chosen men out of all Israel and went to seek David and his men in front of the Wildgoats' Rocks. And he came to the sheepfolds by the way, where there was a cave, and Saul went in to relieve himself. Now David and his men were sitting in the innermost parts of the cave. And the men of David said to him, “Here is the day of which the LORD said to you, ‘Behold, I will give your enemy into your hand, and you shall do to him as it shall seem good to you.’” Then David arose and stealthily cut off a corner of Saul's robe. And afterward David's heart struck him, because he had cut off a corner of Saul's robe. He said to his men, “The LORD forbid that I should do this thing to my lord, the LORD's anointed, to put out my hand against him, seeing he is the LORD's anointed.” So David persuaded his men with these words and did not permit them to attack Saul. And Saul rose up and left the cave and went on his way.
(1 Samuel 24:1-7 ESV)
David was getting tired of running from Saul, who wanted to kill him. As it would happen, he ends up in the same "bathroom" as Saul, who is most vulnerable to attack. David has his chance to end it all, but instead he respects Saul's personal space; he refuses to violate the respect Saul is due as King, and even feels a tinge of guilt for the small invasion he does do in cutting his robe. Most importantly, David is reverencing God's design.  Not only does this all apply to the "bathroom bill" controversy raging in our country - don't mess with God's design! It also speaks volumes about our respect for others, especially those in authority, and our reverence for the sovereignty of God.  Who of us is worthy to take the rule of the world in our own hands?  I don't think so.

Thursday, September 22, 2016

The Rock

And they arose and went to Ziph ahead of Saul.
Now David and his men were in the wilderness of Maon, in the Arabah to the south of Jeshimon. And Saul and his men went to seek him. And David was told, so he went down to the rock and lived in the wilderness of Maon. And when Saul heard that, he pursued after David in the wilderness of Maon. Saul went on one side of the mountain, and David and his men on the other side of the mountain. And David was hurrying to get away from Saul. As Saul and his men were closing in on David and his men to capture them, a messenger came to Saul, saying, “Hurry and come, for the Philistines have made a raid against the land.” So Saul returned from pursuing after David and went against the Philistines. Therefore that place was called the Rock of Escape.  And David went up from there and lived in the strongholds of Engedi.
(1 Samuel 23:24-29 ESV)
David had been running and running, and it looked like his luck had run out. Saul was chasing him down, getting closer and closer.  Then, Providence.  God stirred the Philistines to attack, and Saul had to abandon the pursuit. Not coincidence. The rock that had been an obstacle in the way of escape now became a memorial to what God had done.  How often do we miss what God does in our lives? We are being run down by the ratrace of life, and all of a sudden there is relief, things "let up." God knows. He sees. He cares. He is the Rock of Escape where we find security and reassurance.  Before we move on, let's name Him for Who He is.

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Bad information...

Then the Ziphites went up to Saul at Gibeah, saying, “Is not David hiding among us in the strongholds at Horesh, on the hill of Hachilah, which is south of Jeshimon? Now come down, O king, according to all your heart's desire to come down, and our part shall be to surrender him into the king's hand.” And Saul said, “May you be blessed by the LORD, for you have had compassion on me. Go, make yet more sure. Know and see the place where his foot is, and who has seen him there, for it is told me that he is very cunning. See therefore and take note of all the lurking places where he hides, and come back to me with sure information. Then I will go with you. And if he is in the land, I will search him out among all the thousands of Judah.” And they arose and went to Ziph ahead of Saul. Now David and his men were in the wilderness of Maon, in the Arabah to the south of Jeshimon. (1 Samuel 23:19-24 ESV)
The Ziphites gave Saul bad information. Not only were they incorrect about David's location, as he had moved on. More importantly, if it were correct, it would be bad information, because it fueled the fire of Saul's jealousy and hatred. It may have gotten them on the good side of Saul for a time, but it was divisive of God's people, getting them to pit the two against one another. Whenever division seeps into God's people, much of what is "passed on" is bad information, only meant to bring about bad behavior that makes one look better by comparison, and takes advantage of a sad situation. Let us make sure today that we are only bearers of good information that shares truth, and does so with pure motives and good wishes.

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Just like your son's socks...

David saw that Saul had come out to seek his life. David was in the wilderness of Ziph at Horesh. And Jonathan, Saul's son, rose and went to David at Horesh, and strengthened his hand in God. And he said to him, “Do not fear, for the hand of Saul my father shall not find you. You shall be king over Israel, and I shall be next to you. Saul my father also knows this.” And the two of them made a covenant before the LORD. David remained at Horesh, and Jonathan went home. (1 Samuel 23:15-18 ESV)
Saul was pursuing David to kill him, but never seemed to be able to catch him. David kept eluding him. But as soon as Jonathan decides to pay David a visit, he has no trouble at all finding him. What's the difference? Jonathan cared about David. He sought him for good. He wanted to see David, while Saul wanted to blot out the sight of him forever. It's like your son's stinky socks. You want them sought out to put them in the laundry so you can fumigate the house. He could care less. Saul cares less than less.
Who do we want to be around? Find a way. To be with the LORD, and with those people we know will impact our lives in a positive way. If we really desire that, we will find a way.

Monday, September 19, 2016

The Key to Safety...

Now they told David, “Behold, the Philistines are fighting against eKeilah and are robbing the threshing floors.” Therefore David finquired of theLord, “Shall I go and attack these Philistines?” And theLord said to David, “Go and attack the Philistines and save Keilah.” But David's men said to him, “Behold, we are afraid here in Judah; how much more then if we go to Keilah against the armies of the Philistines?” Then David finquired of the Lord again. And the Lordanswered him, “Arise, go down to Keilah, gfor I will give the Philistines into your hand.” And David and his men went to Keilah and fought with the Philistines and brought away their livestock and struck them with a great blow. So David saved the inhabitants of Keilah.
hWhen Abiathar the son of Ahimelech had fled to David to Keilah, he had come down with an ephod in his hand. Now it was told Saul that David had come to Keilah. And Saul said, “God has given him into my hand, for he has shut himself in by entering a town that has gates and bars.” And Saul summoned all the people to war, to go down to Keilah, to besiege David and his men.David knew that Saul was plotting harm against him. And he said to Abiathar the priest, i“Bring the ephod here.” 10 Then David said, “O Lord, the God of Israel, your servant has surely heard that Saul seeks to come to Keilah, to destroy the city on my account. 11 Will the men of Keilah surrender me into his hand? Will Saul come down, as your servant has heard? O Lord, the God of Israel, please tell your servant.” And the Lord said, “He will come down.” 12 Then David said, “Will the men of Keilah surrender me and my men into the hand of Saul?” And the Lord said, j“They will surrender you.” 13 Then David and his men, kwho were about six hundred, arose and departed from Keilah, and they went lwherever they could go. When Saul was told that David had escaped from Keilah, he gave up the expedition. 14 And David remained in the strongholds in the wilderness, in the hill country mof the wilderness of nZiph. And Saul sought him every day, but God did not give him into his hand. I Samuel 23:1-15
David was in a safe place.  But he had to be true to himself and to his calling from God. He had to ask Him: "Do you want me to go there - to the place of risk.  David had learned not to fear, but to ask. What seems crazy, where seems risky, is sometimes where He wants us to be. But we are afraid to even ask.  For David, it was not a one-time thing.  It was a steady series of dangerous situations, with Saul always looking to track him down. Sounds like someone else we know, always looking for someone to devour.  But that does not mean we should hide in some hole in the hill.  It means we keep on asking - where, when, who?  He will be faithful to answer, just like He did with David.

Sunday, September 18, 2016

In Danger Together...

But one of the sons of Ahimelech the son of Ahitub, named Abiathar, escaped and fled after David. And Abiathar told David that Saul had killed the priests of the LORD. And David said to Abiathar, “I knew on that day, when Doeg the Edomite was there, that he would surely tell Saul. I have occasioned the death of all the persons of your father's house. Stay with me; do not be afraid, for he who seeks my life seeks your life. With me you shall be in safekeeping.” (1 Samuel 22:20-23 ESV)
David had come to realize that everyone whose lives he touched were exposed to danger.  He had responsibilities to those affected by his calling. Ahimelech's kindness to him had caused thye loss of many innocent lives. David had a responsibility to his descendants.  But this was also a relationship of oneness. Like the others who had gathered around them, they shared the wrath of Saul and the desperation that drew them together. They needed one another- for safety in numbers and for shared wisdom. Abiathar had the priest's ephod. Together he and David could seek God, his wisdom, and His will.  There is no safer place.

Saturday, September 17, 2016

Tenderness Turned Tragic...

Now Saul heard that David was discovered, and the men who were with him. Saul was sitting at Gibeah under the tamarisk tree on the height with his spear in his hand, and all his servants were standing about him. And Saul said to his servants who stood about him, “Hear now, people of Benjamin; will the son of Jesse give every one of you fields and vineyards, will he make you all commanders of thousands and commanders of hundreds, that all of you have conspired against me? No one discloses to me when my son makes a covenant with the son of Jesse. None of you is sorry for me or discloses to me that my son has stirred up my servant against me, to lie in wait, as at this day.” Then answered Doeg the Edomite, who stood by the servants of Saul, “I saw the son of Jesse coming to Nob, to Ahimelech the son of Ahitub, and he inquired of the LORD for him and gave him provisions and gave him the sword of Goliath the Philistine.” Then the king sent to summon Ahimelech the priest, the son of Ahitub, and all his father's house, the priests who were at Nob, and all of them came to the king. And Saul said, “Hear now, son of Ahitub.” And he answered, “Here I am, my lord.” And Saul said to him, “Why have you conspired against me, you and the son of Jesse, in that you have given him bread and a sword and have inquired of God for him, so that he has risen against me, to lie in wait, as at this day?” Then Ahimelech answered the king, “And who among all your servants is so faithful as David, who is the king's son-in-law, and captain over your bodyguard, and honored in your house? Is today the first time that I have inquired of God for him? No! Let not the king impute anything to his servant or to all the house of my father, for your servant has known nothing of all this, much or little.” And the king said, “You shall surely die, Ahimelech, you and all your father's house.” And the king said to the guard who stood about him, “Turn and kill the priests of the LORD, because their hand also is with David, and they knew that he fled and did not disclose it to me.” But the servants of the king would not put out their hand to strike the priests of the LORD. Then the king said to Doeg, “You turn and strike the priests.” And Doeg the Edomite turned and struck down the priests, and he killed on that day eighty-five persons who wore the linen ephod. And Nob, the city of the priests, he put to the sword; both man and woman, child and infant, ox, donkey and sheep, he put to the sword. (1 Samuel 22:6-19 ESV) You can't make this stuff up! Saul was so jealous of David and his approval by everyone else, that no one was safe. He had tried to kill his own son, Jonathan, with the sword. Court chivalry was the only reason he did not attack his daughter, Mical. If he could have taken out David and all his friends with the prophets, he would have, but the Holy Spirit overcame him one last time. Now, he takes his vengeance out on not just he priest who had shown David compassion, but on all the priests and their families. She showed more compassion to the wicked enemies, the Amalekites than the did to his own people's religious leaders. (Wow, does that sound contemporary!) He is living in an upside down world, where Saul and his wishes are on top, and God and His will are on the bottom. Saul refused to change. It did not require him turning the world over; only himself. I can remember as a young Boy Scout learning how to turn a capsized canoe over; even at 95 pounds! It starts by admitting things are upside down. What is your world like right now?? Are you the one who has capsized?

Friday, September 16, 2016

Movin' Mom and Dad to Moab...

And David went from there to Mizpeh of Moab. And he said to the king of Moab, “Please let my father and my mother stay with you, till I know what God will do for me.” And he left them with the king of Moab, and they stayed with him all the time that David was in the stronghold. Then the prophet Gad said to David, “Do not remain in the stronghold; depart, and go into the land of Judah.” So David departed and went into the forest of Hereth. (1 Samuel 22:3-5 ESV) Sometimes the very nature of our vocation endangers or adversely affects our families. We need to do all we can to protect them. David could not turn to anyone in Israel, and Philistia to the West would love nothing more than to have Goliath's killer in their hands. So he went another direction, to some long lost relatives in Moab. Just prior to this account in I Samuel we have the story of Ruth, the Maobite widow of an Israelite man, who becomes an ancestor of a kingly line - David's line. God has a plan. These relatives become the safe haven for David's family while he is on the run. God had everything ready for such a time as this, as He always does. May we learn to think in these terms, so when those days of trial come, we, under the guidance and wisdom of the Holy Spirit know where to turn. He's got the plan.

Thursday, September 15, 2016

Who do I attract?

David departed from there and escaped to the cave of Adullam. And when his brothers and all his father's house heard it, they went down there to him. And everyone who was in distress, and everyone who was in debt, and everyone who was bitter in soul, gathered to him. And he became commander over them. And there were with him about four hundred men. (1 Samuel 22:1-2 ESV) David was on the run, being hunted down by a crazy king. Who would want to hang out with him? Quite a few people, it seems. His brothers, who at one point viewed him as a silly little brother, now join him. So did many with "issues": social issues, financial issues, emotional issues. David was gaining quite a "reputation." Not only had he displayed some imperfections of his own (maybe even mental instability when faking insanity to keep the Philistine King at bay...), what really drew people was his patient, persistent hope - that things could and would improve - that indeed one day he would be king. He believed in God and His promises, so people believed in him and gathered to him. Who we attract reveals what we believe. Christ drew His own ragtime band, because of how He lived and what He believed. Who is drawn to me and why? May we be a Christlike magnet.

Wednesday, September 14, 2016


And David rose and fled that day from Saul and went to Achish the king of Gath. And the servants of Achish said to him, “Is not this David the king of the land? Did they not sing to one another of him in dances, ‘Saul has struck down his thousands, and David his ten thousands’?” And David took these words to heart and was much afraid of Achish the king of Gath. So he changed his behavior before them and pretended to be insane in their hands and made marks on the doors of the gate and let his spittle run down his beard. Then Achish said to his servants, “Behold, you see the man is mad. Why then have you brought him to me? Do I lack madmen, that you have brought this fellow to behave as a madman in my presence? Shall this fellow come into my house?” (1 Samuel 21:10-15 ESV) Life on the run... You can find yourself doing crazy things. Even a man (or woman) of great faith. Abraham had reacted in fear and convinced his wife to pretend she was his sister - on more than one occasion! Here David is running scared, and in a sense jumps out the frying pan into the fire - he goes from angry Saul to their worst enemy, the Philistines and the very city of Goliath whom he had killed. Crazy! But then he realizes what he has done and acts crazy so people will stay away from him. What crazy things have you done to make people stay away from you, to keep them at arm's length, to not let them know the real you? What fears are driving you to irrational, unspiritual, deceptive behavior? Avoid extremes. Run the race of faith with endurance and focus, not with bursts of energy that are off the set path.

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Just happened to be there...

Now a certain man of the servants of Saul was there that day, detained before the LORD. His name was Doeg the Edomite, the chief of Saul's herdsmen. Then David said to Ahimelech, “Then have you not here a spear or a sword at hand? For I have brought neither my sword nor my weapons with me, because the king's business required haste.” And the priest said, “The sword of Goliath the Philistine, whom you struck down in the Valley of Elah, behold, it is here wrapped in a cloth behind the ephod. If you will take that, take it, for there is none but that here.” And David said, “There is none like that; give it to me.” (1 Samuel 21:7-9 ESV) Sometimes life just seems to be that way, doesn't it? Coincidence? Providence? It's that way with good and bad. David is on the run from Saul, and one of Saul's cronies just happens to show up in little old Nob. David comes to the priests' abode, and there happens to be a sword there. Actually swords were still rare in Israel, as the Philistines had a corner on the market. David comes looking for food, and it just happens to be the day they are switching out the old shewbread for the new. What do we do with things, and people, who just "happen to be there"? How do we fit them in to the fabric of our lives? As we will see, Doeg's presence ended up being a really bad thing. Having this particular sword ended up being a lifesaver. How we respond to those things that "just happen" really depends on the filter we are using. At that time, David was filtering life through fear. He was running away, separated from all those who supported him: Jonathan, his wife, and Samuel. He came here to seek spiritual guidance, some comfort, and basic needs. But he was not willing to be totally honest with the priest. Fear held him back. The writer does not condemn or condone David's actions here: that is not his purpose. But he does leave us asking: What if? What if David had been totally honest with Ahimelech? If Doeg would have heard that, he would and could not do anything, but would find himself hard pressed to tattle later on. Things could have been different. May we filter today's "just happens" through faith and not fear. May we recognize God's providence and cling to it. May we wisely discern "coincidences" and their consequences.

Monday, September 12, 2016


Then David came to Nob, to Ahimelech the priest. And Ahimelech came to meet David, trembling, and said to him, “Why are you alone, and no one with you?” And David said to Ahimelech the priest, “The king has charged me with a matter and said to me, ‘Let no one know anything of the matter about which I send you, and with which I have charged you.’ I have made an appointment with the young men for such and such a place. Now then, what do you have on hand? Give me five loaves of bread, or whatever is here.” And the priest answered David, “I have no common bread on hand, but there is holy bread—if the young men have kept themselves from women.” And David answered the priest, “Truly women have been kept from us as always when I go on an expedition. The vessels of the young men are holy even when it is an ordinary journey. How much more today will their vessels be holy?” So the priest gave him the holy bread, for there was no bread there but the bread of the Presence, which is removed from before the LORD, to be replaced by hot bread on the day it is taken away. (1 Samuel 21:1-6 ESV) David was a man on the run. Having been expelled from King Saul's court, he was now an outsider, viewed only with suspicion. He was a desperado. Desperate to find safety, security, and food for his men. He made sure they behaved above reproach. There was no immorality such as was common with other bands of soldiers. Everything was on the up and up, except for one thing. Did you notice? David deceived the priest. In his fear, he pretended to be on the King's business. He is not alone among the godly men who did such things: Abraham deceived out of fear. The worst part is: it is unnecessary. Once the bread was "off the table", it became the priests to do with as he saw fit; he could of chosen to give it knowing the full story. At the end of the account in chapter 22, the deadly results of this deception are seen. God would have provided without a lie. In times of desperation, fear and doubt we have options. It seems like we do not, but we do. When persecution is chasing us down, let us not run from or ahead of God.

Sunday, September 11, 2016

Defining, Dividing Moments...

So David hid himself in the field. And when the new moon came, the king sat down to eat food. The king sat on his seat, as at other times, on the seat by the wall. Jonathan sat opposite, and Abner sat by Saul's side, but David's place was empty. Yet Saul did not say anything that day, for he thought, “Something has happened to him. He is not clean; surely he is not clean.” But on the second day, the day after the new moon, David's place was empty. And Saul said to Jonathan his son, “Why has not the son of Jesse come to the meal, either yesterday or today?” Jonathan answered Saul, “David earnestly asked leave of me to go to Bethlehem. He said, ‘Let me go, for our clan holds a sacrifice in the city, and my brother has commanded me to be there. So now, if I have found favor in your eyes, let me get away and see my brothers.’ For this reason he has not come to the king's table.” Then Saul's anger was kindled against Jonathan, and he said to him, “You son of a perverse, rebellious woman, do I not know that you have chosen the son of Jesse to your own shame, and to the shame of your mother's nakedness? For as long as the son of Jesse lives on the earth, neither you nor your kingdom shall be established. Therefore send and bring him to me, for he shall surely die.” Then Jonathan answered Saul his father, “Why should he be put to death? What has he done?” But Saul hurled his spear at him to strike him. So Jonathan knew that his father was determined to put David to death. And Jonathan rose from the table in fierce anger and ate no food the second day of the month, for he was grieved for David, because his father had disgraced him. In the morning Jonathan went out into the field to the appointment with David, and with him a little boy. And he said to his boy, “Run and find the arrows that I shoot.” As the boy ran, he shot an arrow beyond him. And when the boy came to the place of the arrow that Jonathan had shot, Jonathan called after the boy and said, “Is not the arrow beyond you?” And Jonathan called after the boy, “Hurry! Be quick! Do not stay!” So Jonathan's boy gathered up the arrows and came to his master. But the boy knew nothing. Only Jonathan and David knew the matter. And Jonathan gave his weapons to his boy and said to him, “Go and carry them to the city.” And as soon as the boy had gone, David rose from beside the stone heap and fell on his face to the ground and bowed three times. And they kissed one another and wept with one another, David weeping the most. Then Jonathan said to David, “Go in peace, because we have sworn both of us in the name of the LORD, saying, ‘The LORD shall be between me and you, and between my offspring and your offspring, forever.’” And he rose and departed, and Jonathan went into the city (1 Samuel 20:24-42 ESV) Jonathan had come up with a plan to determine if Saul was really a threat to David. He had also determined a way to inform David of the outcome, based upon the way the arrow flew. David waited. Saul reacted. History was decided. The court of the king was divided; David would not be a part. Yet David & Jonathan's commitment ran true. They would do all they could to support each other from a distance. Both would remain faithful. Today we remember another defining moment in history. For many, it changed everything that would follow. Things would not go on the same. Life is divided between before and after. May there be a consistent thread that runs through both: of faithfulness, hope, and the realization that the LORD is still watching over us.

Saturday, September 10, 2016

No matter what...

And Jonathan said to David, “The LORD, the God of Israel, be witness! When I have sounded out my father, about this time tomorrow, or the third day, behold, if he is well disposed toward David, shall I not then send and disclose it to you? But should it please my father to do you harm, the LORD do so to Jonathan and more also if I do not disclose it to you and send you away, that you may go in safety. May the LORD be with you, as he has been with my father. If I am still alive, show me the steadfast love of the LORD, that I may not die; and do not cut off your steadfast love from my house forever, when the LORD cuts off every one of the enemies of David from the face of the earth.” And Jonathan made a covenant with the house of David, saying, “May the LORD take vengeance on David's enemies.” And Jonathan made David swear again by his love for him, for he loved him as he loved his own soul. Then Jonathan said to him, “Tomorrow is the new moon, and you will be missed, because your seat will be empty. On the third day go down quickly to the place where you hid yourself when the matter was in hand, and remain beside the stone heap. And I will shoot three arrows to the side of it, as though I shot at a mark. And behold, I will send the boy, saying, ‘Go, find the arrows.’ If I say to the boy, ‘Look, the arrows are on this side of you, take them,’ then you are to come, for, as the LORD lives, it is safe for you and there is no danger. But if I say to the youth, ‘Look, the arrows are beyond you,’ then go, for the LORD has sent you away. And as for the matter of which you and I have spoken, behold, the LORD is between you and me forever.” (1 Samuel 20:12-23 ESV) David was upset. Despite promises to the contrary, Saul was still out to kill him. Worse yet, how could Jonathan, who had pledged his support for David, sit idly by while his father did this. Jonathan was totally unaware, and when he did become aware, he came up with a plan to test his father. He took care of the immediate problem, but looked far beyond that, to the worst-case scenario: if the rift was as bad as David s aid. where the two houses would be against one another, Jonathan's loyalties were still with David. He was going to remain faithful to their covenant, no matter what, and he hoped David would do the same. In life's most important relationships: in the family and the fellowship of faith, do you have such convictions? No Matter What.

Friday, September 9, 2016

The Frankness of Fellowship...

Then David fled from Naioth in Ramah and came and said before Jonathan, “What have I done? What is my guilt? And what is my sin before your father, that he seeks my life?” And he said to him, “Far from it! You shall not die. Behold, my father does nothing either great or small without disclosing it to me. And why should my father hide this from me? It is not so.” But David vowed again, saying, “Your father knows well that I have found favor in your eyes, and he thinks, ‘Do not let Jonathan know this, lest he be grieved.’ But truly, as the LORD lives and as your soul lives, there is but a step between me and death.” Then Jonathan said to David, “Whatever you say, I will do for you.” David said to Jonathan, “Behold, tomorrow is the new moon, and I should not fail to sit at table with the king. But let me go, that I may hide myself in the field till the third day at evening. If your father misses me at all, then say, ‘David earnestly asked leave of me to run to Bethlehem his city, for there is a yearly sacrifice there for all the clan.’ If he says, ‘Good!’ it will be well with your servant, but if he is angry, then know that harm is determined by him. Therefore deal kindly with your servant, for you have brought your servant into a covenant of the LORD with you. But if there is guilt in me, kill me yourself, for why should you bring me to your father?” And Jonathan said, “Far be it from you! If I knew that it was determined by my father that harm should come to you, would I not tell you?” Then David said to Jonathan, “Who will tell me if your father answers you roughly?” And Jonathan said to David, “Come, let us go out into the field.” So they both went out into the field. (1 Samuel 20:1-11 ESV) Jonathan was caught off guard. His father had promised no harm would come to David, but had tried to kill him and have him killed. When David came to him and asked him why, as his friend, he did not "have his back", Jonathan took him aside and had a frank conversation. That is what true fellowship is like: we are able to be real with one another when we are hurt or offended, and we are not hurt or offended when the other is "real" with us. We stop bitterness, misunderstandings and bad reactions. We remember that we are comrades in Christ; we are not the enemy. May we be thick-skinned and tender hearted as we deal with one another, so that nothing will pull us apart.

Thursday, September 8, 2016

Sound Strangely Familiar???

Now David fled and escaped, and he came to Samuel at Ramah and told him all that Saul had done to him. And he and Samuel went and lived at Naioth. And it was told Saul, “Behold, David is at Naioth in Ramah.” Then Saul sent messengers to take David, and when they saw the company of the prophets prophesying, and Samuel standing as head over them, the Spirit of God came upon the messengers of Saul, and they also prophesied. When it was told Saul, he sent other messengers, and they also prophesied. And Saul sent messengers again the third time, and they also prophesied. Then he himself went to Ramah and came to the great well that is in Secu. And he asked, “Where are Samuel and David?” And one said, “Behold, they are at Naioth in Ramah.” And he went there to Naioth in Ramah. And the Spirit of God came upon him also, and as he went he prophesied until he came to Naioth in Ramah. And he too stripped off his clothes, and he too prophesied before Samuel and lay naked all that day and all that night. Thus it is said, “Is Saul also among the prophets?” (1 Samuel 19:18-24 ESV) This passage takes my mind in two directions. It takes us back to the beginning of Saul's rule as king. He had a similar experience then. It is as if the writer sees the two occasions as the bookends or beginning and end of the chapter on Saul. It is only when he is a part of the David and Samuel Story that he is again mentioned. Secondly, it takes my mind forward in time to the parables of Jesus, and the Landowner who kept sending his servants seeking his part of the produce, finally having to send his son. What does that have to do with Saul? God had repeatedly tried to get Saul to humble himself, confess and repent, but he would not. Saul was bent on disobeying God. But at the end of the Day, God's will and Word will prevail. How are we fighting God, His will and His Word? As He repeatedly calls us to repent, are we repeatedly pushing for our own way? May His Word and Spirit penetrate our hard hearts and thick heads today.

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

When others lie to you too...

Saul sent messengers to David's house to watch him, that he might kill him in the morning. But Michal, David's wife, told him, “If you do not escape with your life tonight, tomorrow you will be killed.” So Michal let David down through the window, and he fled away and escaped. Michal took an image and laid it on the bed and put a pillow of goats' hair at its head and covered it with the clothes. And when Saul sent messengers to take David, she said, “He is sick.” Then Saul sent the messengers to see David, saying, “Bring him up to me in the bed, that I may kill him.” And when the messengers came in, behold, the image was in the bed, with the pillow of goats' hair at its head. Saul said to Michal, “Why have you deceived me thus and let my enemy go, so that he has escaped?” And Michal answered Saul, “He said to me, ‘Let me go. Why should I kill you?’” (1 Samuel 19:11-17 ESV) Saul's life was full of half-truths. He claimed that other people made him do things. He claimed over and over to have fully obeyed God. He told Samuel that "things just happened. He raised his daughter that way. Yet he acts surprised when she deceives him. He is appalled when she imitates his actions and thinks it is okay. Do you get angry when people lie to you? I think we all do. But what half-truths do we allow to slip by? What perceptions do we allow to exist that are not fully accurate? It can be in word or deed, at home or work, or spread throughout life's relationships. The Great Liar runs about deceiving and infecting our world with lies. It's not that surprising. But why would we want to do so? Let's ask the True One to watch over our words, thoughts and actions today to examine them for the smallest trace of a lie. May our words be true, our hearts be pure, and our actions honest before Him.

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Short-lived promises...

And there was war again. And David went out and fought with the Philistines and struck them with a great blow, so that they fled before him. Then a harmful spirit from the LORD came upon Saul, as he sat in his house with his spear in his hand. And David was playing the lyre. And Saul sought to pin David to the wall with the spear, but he eluded Saul, so that he struck the spear into the wall. And David fled and escaped that night. (1 Samuel 19:8-10 ESV) If this sounds familiar, you are not losing your mind or memory. Saul had tried this before. But even more recently he had promised his son: "David shall not die." It takes far more than passionate promises to change the heart. It takes some changes deep down within to give long-lasting change. Saul had told Jonathan what he wanted to hear. But when the pressures of life renewed, and Saul was overcome with fear and envy, all promises were forgotten. As he held his spear, he demonstrated his fear. (Who needs a spear sitting in his own palace???) How often do we tell people what they want to hear, then fall back into our old sinful patterns of behavior? It takes far more than a sad-spoken statement: "I won't do it again." It requires humility of heart to admit: "I am wrong. I need help. I am the problem. Change ME, o God." Let us be sincere in word, and may our promises be true.

Monday, September 5, 2016

Listening to the voice of reason...

And Saul spoke to Jonathan his son and to all his servants, that they should kill David. But Jonathan, Saul's son, delighted much in David. And Jonathan told David, “Saul my father seeks to kill you. Therefore be on your guard in the morning. Stay in a secret place and hide yourself. And I will go out and stand beside my father in the field where you are, and I will speak to my father about you. And if I learn anything I will tell you.” And Jonathan spoke well of David to Saul his father and said to him, “Let not the king sin against his servant David, because he has not sinned against you, and because his deeds have brought good to you. For he took his life in his hand and he struck down the Philistine, and the LORD worked a great salvation for all Israel. You saw it, and rejoiced. Why then will you sin against innocent blood by killing David without cause?” And Saul listened to the voice of Jonathan. Saul swore, “As the LORD lives, he shall not be put to death.” And Jonathan called David, and Jonathan reported to him all these things. And Jonathan brought David to Saul, and he was in his presence as before. (1 Samuel 19:1-7 ESV) Saul was losing it. In his anger, envy and fear, he filtered the popularity and success of David as a reason to get him out of the palace and even out of his life. Jonathan, who loved his father, and David, and Israel willingly put himself in the middle, trying to be the voice of reason: Why eliminate the one who had brought Saul soothing, given Israel victory after victory, and made the palace peaceful and joyful? It was in the best interest of all for David to stay there. In a calmer moment, Saul listened to the voice of reason and even made an oath for David's safety. Jonathan did all he could to be the peacemaker, and to gently rebuke his erring father. Are we willing to be the voice of reason? To get in the middle? To do what is best for all concerned? Jonathan could have done many other things: let David go, seethe in anger at his father, or even encourage David to revolt. He chose the wiser but harder course. He cared. He cared about people and he cared about justice. How can we be like him today?

Sunday, September 4, 2016

Forgetting who the real enemy is...

But when Saul saw and knew that the LORD was with David, and that Michal, Saul's daughter, loved him, Saul was even more afraid of David. So Saul was David's enemy continually. Then the commanders of the Philistines came out to battle, and as often as they came out David had more success than all the servants of Saul, so that his name was highly esteemed. (1 Samuel 18:28-30 ESV) David's popularity was on the rise. No one was a distant second, not even Saul. No matter what Saul did to curb or stop it, everyone loved him. Why did Saul throw spears at him and put him on the front line to have him killed in battle? He was afraid of David's popularity and how that might affect him. He was afraid of losing the power, prestige and personal approval he had once had, though in reality that was already gone. He forgot who the real enemy was: the Philistines and the powers of evil working on him. By viewing David as the enemy(who really was not), he made himself the enemy of David, and therefore of God. Fear, jealousy, hatred and the thoughts, words and actions they lead to, all make us the enemy of God's plan, and even of ourselves. May we learn much from Saul's responses and reactions so we can recognize who the real enemy is, and not become one ourselves.

Saturday, September 3, 2016

The One-Way Street of Respect

And the servants of Saul told him, “Thus and so did David speak.” Then Saul said, “Thus shall you say to David, ‘The king desires no bride-price except a hundred foreskins of the Philistines, that he may be avenged of the king's enemies.’” Now Saul thought to make David fall by the hand of the Philistines. And when his servants told David these words, it pleased David well to be the king's son-in-law. Before the time had expired, David arose and went, along with his men, and killed two hundred of the Philistines. And David brought their foreskins, which were given in full number to the king, that he might become the king's son-in-law. And Saul gave him his daughter Michal for a wife. (1 Samuel 18:24-27 ESV) David had consistently shown respect to Saul as King. He came whenever he was asked to sing to sooth his spirit. He spoke humbly when the topic turned to becoming part of the royal family through marriage. He rose to the occasion whenever called to do battle for the LORD, his nation, or against "the king's enemies." Saul, however, consistently showed disdain and disregard for David, taking his anger out against him, seeking any possible way to eliminate him. It was a one-way street of respect. Examine your relationships. Are there any "one-way" relationships of respect where you are heading the wrong way? Through your speech to or about that person? With your attitudes and motives? Are you "doing the right thing", but wishing they would just go away? What would life be like if the traffic suddenly turned direction? Would you be run over by hate? (Note: Pardon the pic... but remember: It is Saturday. Consider it your Saturday morning cartoon.)

Friday, September 2, 2016

Evil Intentions...

Now Saul's daughter Michal loved David. And they told Saul, and the thing pleased him. Saul thought, “Let me give her to him, that she may be a snare for him and that the hand of the Philistines may be against him.” Therefore Saul said to David a second time, “You shall now be my son-in-law.” And Saul commanded his servants, “Speak to David in private and say, ‘Behold, the king has delight in you, and all his servants love you. Now then become the king's son-in-law.’” And Saul's servants spoke those words in the ears of David. And David said, “Does it seem to you a little thing to become the king's son-in-law, since I am a poor man and have no reputation?” (1 Samuel 18:20-23 ESV)Now Saul's daughter Michal loved David. And they told Saul, and the thing pleased him. Saul thought, “Let me give her to him, that she may be a snare for him and that the hand of the Philistines may be against him.” Therefore Saul said to David a second time, “You shall now be my son-in-law.” And Saul commanded his servants, “Speak to David in private and say, ‘Behold, the king has delight in you, and all his servants love you. Now then become the king's son-in-law.’” And Saul's servants spoke those words in the ears of David. And David said, “Does it seem to you a little thing to become the king's son-in-law, since I am a poor man and have no reputation?” 1 Samuel 18:20-23 ESV) Saul wanted to give David a good thing: a wife who loved him. This was especially good, since he had already deprived David of another daughter he had promised him. But good things can come with evil intentions. The promise was a snare, as he hoped David would be emotional and irrational, and take unnecessary risks. But David does not respond that way. He continues to respond with humility and with a consistency that will make him a great king. Do we ever act like Saul? Sometimes we would "look bad" if we were to deny someone something good, so we allow them to have it, or hope they get it, only to choke on it. We want to look good at all cost, and seeing someone else fall and fail only makes us look better. The human heart is desperately wicked. May we truly bless those around us today, desiring what is best for them, and sincerely hoping they get it.

Thursday, September 1, 2016

Taking Advantage...

Then Saul said to David, “Here is my elder daughter Merab. I will give her to you for a wife. Only be valiant for me and fight the LORD's battles.” For Saul thought, “Let not my hand be against him, but let the hand of the Philistines be against him.” And David said to Saul, “Who am I, and who are my relatives, my father's clan in Israel, that I should be son-in-law to the king?” But at the time when Merab, Saul's daughter, should have been given to David, she was given to Adriel the Meholathite for a wife. (1 Samuel 18:17-19 ESV) Saul had promised that whoever defeated Goliath would have the king's daughter as wife. David did so, but Saul stalled on his promise, asking David to go out and win more battles "for the LORD." He knew David would not refuse to serve God. Saul also took advantage of David's middle-eastern humility and politeness. He twisted David's statement about not deserving to be the King's son-in-law as and excuse to give her to someone else in a political marriage. All through this, David continued to serve God and his country, waiting in the LORD's timing, sticking to his humble perspective. Whereas some might say Saul walked all over David, the truth is that David knew God knew best. The sons Merab had with Adriel did evil, and eventually were killed by David, while David ended up receiving a daughter who really did love him. David's victory on the battlefield only endeared him more to the people. In other words, every way Saul sought to take advantage of David backfired. The same is true of us. Whatever excuses we use to take advantage of others, because "they really don't care," will come back to haunt us. Worse yet, they really displease the God of justice who watches us all. Whom have you taken advantage of to get your own way? Was it really worth it?