Independence Day

Blessed are those who keep justice, and he who does righteousness at all times!

Psalm 106:3

Today we celebrate the day the United States of America officially declared independence from England. On July 2, 1776, the Second Continental Congress voted to approve a resolution of separation from England and the final revision on the Declaration of Independence was made on July 4, 1776.

While the founders declared man was endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, which include life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, Francis Bellamy said we are a nation built upon liberty and justice for all.

If these rights are endowed by our Creator, God, then we have to understand what He holds to be justice for all. In the Psalms, it tells us we are blessed if we keep justice, which in the Hebrew means, “judgment, justice, ordinance.” The psalmist goes on to say, “…and he who does righteousness at all times,” which means, “justice, right, righteous acts.”

God has called us to keep justice and act righteously at all times. Our founders declared we are a nation in pursuit of life, liberty and happiness, which are God given rights, and without Bellamy’s liberty and justice for all, we would be a land of lawlessness. Without justice for all, no one will have true liberty and no one will be happy except for the king. That is what the founders of our country wanted to avoid. They wanted liberty and justice for all, so there was no room for a monarchy. Let’s celebrate the godly wisdom of the men who set our nation up as a democracy, with liberty and justice for all!

Without justice, what are kingdoms but great banditries.
~Augustine~

Excuses for Sin

And David and his men went up and raided the Geshurites, the Girzites, and the Amalekites. For those nations were the inhabitants of the land from of old, as you go to Shur, even as far as the land of Egypt. Whenever David attacked the land, he left neither man nor woman alive, but took away the sheep, the oxen, the donkeys, the camels, and the apparel, and returned and came to Achish.

1 Samuel 27:8-9

Look where David’s fear, doubt, lapse of faith and poor choices have led him. What he was doing was wrong. He was not doing what was right. He was leading his men into war against innocent people for monetary gain. He was not defending himself or his people. He was not following the Lord. He was attacking towns and killing all the people to take their possessions. It was all greed.

David was so far from the Lord. His many bad decisions, made without the Lord, led him into sin, and he did not even look at it as sin. He probably had so many reasons to justify his actions, but they were all just excuses for sin. This was the path of a man who had turned from God’s will, and was walking according to his own will.

Many times, we do the same thing. We make excuses for our sin; we justify ourselves, so we will not feel guilty. We take the path away from God’s will. The moment you turn from God’s will you will be like David, going your own way, doing your own thing, totally in sin. Remember; when you do your own thing there are consequences when you return back to the Lord.

He who excuses himself accuses himself.
~Gabriel Meurier~

Lost Communion with God

Now the time that David dwelt in the country of the Philistines was one full year and four months.

1 Samuel 27:7

Notice, David was in the land of the Philistines for 16 months, living in the town of Ziklag. In all that time, David was not seeking the Lord. He was doing his own thing, working his own plan. He had run so far from the Lord there were no Psalms written during this time of his life. He was not in communion with the Lord. Imagine what it must have been like to not be in communion with the Lord after walking so closely to him.

It is hard for me to imagine what it would be like to not be in communion with the Lord anymore. I have walked with the Lord for more than 40 years now, and I love to read His Word to see how He is going to speak to me. I cannot imagine how I would make decisions without the wisdom of the Lord.

I know the man I was before the Lord, and I do not want to go back to being that man—a man controlled by anger and pride. I do not make wise decisions without the Lord. I would be just like David was during this time.

I think the biggest lesson from this chapter is about choices. The choices we make direct our lives either closer to the Lord or further away from Him. No matter what happens, God never walks away from us. He desires to have fellowship with us. We are the ones who choose whether to walk in communion with Him or to walk without Him. For 16 months, David chose not to be in communion with God, and he suffered because of the bad choice he made.

It is misguided to think that God will revive a people who find no time to commune with Him from the heart.
~Jim Faucett~

Our Own Plans

Then David said to Achish, “If I have now found favor in your eyes, let them give me a place in some town in the country, that I may dwell there. For why should your servant dwell in the royal city with you?” So Achish gave him Ziklag that day. Therefore Ziklag has belonged to the kings of Judah to this day.

1 Samuel 27:5-6

David’s first mistake was when he had a lapse of faith and fled to the land of the Philistines and led all his people away from the Lord and into the land of their enemy. His next mistake was to look for favor with a heathen king and become his servant.

David was anointed king of Israel by the Lord. He was a servant of God. He was not a servant of a heathen leader. His heart should have been seeking favor with the Lord. Favor with man is of little value. Striving to find favor in the eyes of man will lead to disappointment and heartache.

David was no longer following God’s plan; he was following his own plans. Part of his plan was to have his own place, far from the eyes of the Philistine leaders. I do not think David was truly a servant to the Philistines, but he said all the right things to accomplish his purposes. What had happened to David, the man after God’s own heart? He was no longer seeking the will of the Lord. He was making plans without the leading of the Lord.

God has a plan for each one of our lives, and they are perfect. We have to choose to follow God’s plan or our own plans. On our own, we will end up doing and saying things we will regret, just like David.

The sinner in his sinful nature could never have
a will according to God.
~J. Denham Smith~

He Alone is Faithful

And it was told Saul that David had fled to Gath; so he sought him no more.

1 Samuel 27:4

Well, it looks like David accomplished what he wanted. Saul was not looking for him anymore. He did not have to worry about Saul killing him, but while he was running from Saul, he also ran from the Lord. He was living with the enemy. David thought he was safe but, in reality, he experienced a great lapse of faith.

Listen carefully; a lapse of faith should make you turn to God, because if you do not turn to God, you will turn to men. When my faith is faltering, I would rather turn to God, than to men. Men will lie to you and discourage you, but God is truth and will always encourage you.

David should have run to a godly man, when he started to falter and doubt, but instead he ran to the world. In his lapse of faith, he did not remember; you cannot trust men of the world.

When God puts godly men in your life, it is awesome because they spend time with God. You know God is going to use them to speak to you, because God is really speaking to them.

When we go through difficult times in our lives, our faith may falter, but God has called us to be in fellowship with other believers. He will use them to speak to us and encourage us through these tough times. It is never God’s will or desire for us to take refuge in the world but to always seek refuge in Him and Him alone, for He alone is faithful.

Though men are false, God is faithful.
~Matthew Henry~

Sin Affects Others

Then David arose and went over with the six hundred men who were with him to Achish the son of Maoch, king of Gath. So David dwelt with Achish at Gath, he and his men, each man with his household, and David with his two wives, Ahinoam the Jezreelitess, and Abigail the Carmelitess, Nabal’s widow.

1 Samuel 27:2-3

David made a bad decision and he fled to the Philistines. In his fear and doubt, he ran from the Lord, into the heart of the enemy, but he did not go alone. He took 600 men, their wives and children and his wives, Ahinoam and Abigail.

David was in sin, because he doubted the Lord and he led the people with him into sin. He took the men and women following him into the world, away from the Lord. Think about that. Instead of leading them closer to the Lord, he led them away from God, to the heathen nation. God was with David the whole time, but David decided to leave God, and he took hundreds of people with him, away from the Lord.

What a great example to us, not of what we should do but what we should not do—an example of how our sin affects those around us. We do not live our lives in bubbles. The decisions we make, good or bad, affect the people around us, the people we love. We can lead them to a closer walk with the Lord, or we can lead them away from the Lord.

We will be held accountable for our sins before the Lord, but even more if we cause one of God’s people to be led away from Him. Our lives need to draw people to the Lord, not lead them away.

No man is so insignificant as to be sure
his example can do no harm.
~Edward Hyde~

Lost Contact with God

And David said in his heart, “Now I shall perish someday by the hand of Saul. There is nothing better for me than that I should speedily escape to the land of the Philistines; and Saul will despair of me, to seek me anymore in any part of Israel. So I shall escape out of his hand.”

1 Samuel 27:1

I think it is important to look at another statement David made when he was overwhelmed with fear and doubt. He said there was nothing better for him than to escape to the land of the Philistines. Think about that. There was nothing better in David’s life than to run to a heathen nation, which he already knew held nothing for him, because he had already tried hiding there in 1 Samuel 21.

God had anointed David as king of Israel. He had delivered him from his enemies many times. He had given him faithful men to follow him, and He had defeated Saul’s attempts to kill him, yet David believed he had nowhere to go but to the enemy of God’s people.

It just does not make any sense, but that is exactly what happens when we give in to fear; we make really bad choices, and those choices often have really bad consequences. As we go through this chapter, we will see how this first bad choice led to many other bad choices.

No matter what is happening in our lives, we have to remember there is no better place for us to be than in the will of the Lord—in close contact with Him.

Beware of separation which leads only to
isolation and insulation.
~Eric Hutchings~

God Removes Fear

And David said in his heart, “Now I shall perish someday by the hand of Saul. There is nothing better for me than that I should speedily escape to the land of the Philistines; and Saul will despair of me, to seek me anymore in any part of Israel. So I shall escape out of his hand.”

1 Samuel 27:1

David was subject to fear and discouragement, and, in those times, he made mistakes. His first mistake was to allow the fear into his heart and forget all the Lord had done for him. He said, Now I shall perish someday by the hand of Saul.” How could he think these words were true or even let them take root in his heart? He got his eyes off the Lord and on the circumstances in his life.
Think about what David had been through in his life. After running from Saul for so long, he was probably at one of his lowest points. He was exhausted physically, emotionally and spiritually. The enemy had beaten him down and doubt had taken root in his heart.
Have you ever been at your lowest point? We all have times of doubt, times when we are just so tired, we give in to doubts and fear. Eventually, when you keep those burdens in your heart and your mind, you are going to destroy yourself.
God loves people and He is available to people who desire to know Him and believe in Him. When you become bummed out and fearful in your heart, remember, the only one who can ever comfort your hearts is the Lord. During these times of doubt, we need God’s Word even more to comfort our hearts!
I know not the way He leads me, but well do I know my Guide. What have I to fear?
~Martin Luther~

Prevail in Christ

Then Saul said to David, “May you be blessed, my son David! You shall both do great things and also still prevail.” So David went on his way, and Saul returned to his place.

1 Samuel 26:25

When Saul left David, he gave him his blessing, knowing he would be the next king of Israel. He did not step down, but he knew David would be king and he accepted it. He would not come against David again. He would not send men to kill David again.

Not only did Saul give David his blessing, he acknowledged the hand of the Lord was upon him. When he said David would do great things and prevail, he knew God’s anointing was upon David. It was through God’s power Saul was unable to destroy David. God protected David and kept Saul from having victory over him.

That is how it is for people who follow the Lord’s plan for their lives. He will cause them to do great things and He will sustain them. It does not mean they will not experience trials and tribulations. Anyone in this world will go through trials, but we choose whether we go through them with or without the Lord.

When we choose to walk with the Lord we will experience trials, but in the midst of the greatest storms we will also know: the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus (Philippians 4:7). With God by our sides, we will weather the storm and even rise above it.

As the hotter the day the greater the dew of the night; so the hotter the time of trouble the greater the dews of refreshing from God.
~John Trapp~

Pray for Others

And David answered and said, “Here is the king’s spear. Let one of the young men come over and get it. May the Lord repay every man for his righteousness and his faithfulness; for the Lord delivered you into my hand today, but I would not stretch out my hand against the Lord’s anointed.”

1 Samuel 26:22-23

After Saul admitted his sin against David, David did not turn against Saul. He did not call his men to come against Saul and his men. As soon as there was reconciliation, David returned Saul’s spear and asked the Lord to pour out His grace and mercy upon Saul and his men. Wow!

Can you imagine having such forgiveness for your enemy? Think about just one person who has come against you unfairly. Do you pray for the Lord to strike them down, or do you pray for God’s grace and mercy upon them?

This is such an important lesson for every one of us individually. Notice, for the fourth time David said he would not come against the Lord’s anointed. It seems God is trying to make a point and He wants us to learn this lesson.

Every Christian is the Lord’s anointed, called to serve in the body of Christ. You may not be a king or leader, but God has anointed you to serve in His ministry. It is God’s desire we would have grace and mercy for each other, to lift others up in prayer, not tear them down in disunity. How many times does the LORD have to repeat this lesson until we learn it?

If God should have no more mercy on us than we have charity one to another, what would become of us?
~Thomas Fuller~

Life Examination

Then Saul said, “I have sinned. Return, my son David. For I will harm you no more, because my life was precious in your eyes this day. Indeed I have played the fool and erred exceedingly.”

1 Samuel 26:21

In Verse 21, we see Saul’s confession. He had said these same words before, but this time was real. He realized David loved him, “…because my life was precious in your eyes.” David thought more of Saul’s life than his own life. Isn’t that cool.

With this statement, we see Saul was looking back at his life. It seems he did not like what he saw, because he recognized he had erred greatly. He called himself a fool, and he was. He was a fool, because he was governed by his flesh and not by the Lord.

Saul had everything in life to make him great, but he blew it. Instead of following God, he tried to hide from God, and that is what caused him to err exceedingly and made him a fool.

Every man and woman knows the truth about themselves. You can turn a blind eye to your foolish, fleshly ways, but then you become a fool, just like Saul. You do not want to be a fool. You do not want to wait for someone to point out your sin. It is better to examine your heart—your motives and actions—before the Lord and make the changes God shows you need to make. If not, you may come to the end of your life, again like Saul, and have nothing but regret—regret for a life wasted on things of the flesh instead of living God’s perfect plan for your life.

We should employ our passions in the service of life, not spend life in the service of our passions.
~Richard Steele~

Under God’s Control

“Now therefore, please, let my lord the king hear the words of his servant: If the Lord has stirred you up against me, let Him accept an offering. But if it is the children of men, may they be cursed before the Lord, for they have driven me out this day from sharing in the inheritance of the Lord, saying, ‘Go, serve other gods.’”

1 Samuel 26:19

David was offering Saul the opportunity to repent and turn from his sin. In his flesh, he was jealous of David and came against God’s anointed, but David gave him the chance to cast blame on someone else and end the division he had caused.

I think we have to really look at the consequences of Saul’s sin against David. Saul was not just any man. He was the king of Israel. As he sought to destroy David, he caused division, not only in his own family but in the nation. People were forced to take sides. Men were forced to pursue David, who was an innocent man.

Many times, we fail to see how our sin affects others and sometimes draws them into sin themselves. Our lives touch so many people: family, friends and even strangers. If our lives touch people, our sins will also touch their lives.

The biggest mistake we can make is to allow our sin to cause division. When we come against someone, and accuse them falsely, we will cause others to come against them too. They may believe the lie and be drawn into our sin. That is why it is so important to allow the Lord to control our lives. If we do not give control to the Lord, the flesh will take over and the result is sin—every time.

Opposition to the divine will is the very essence of all sin.
~David Thomas~

God, My Defense

And he said, “Why does my lord thus pursue his servant? For what have I done, or what evil is in my hand?”

1 Samuel 26:18

Again, in great respect and humility, David asked Saul to think about the reasons he was pursuing him. He wanted Saul to look at the situation logically, without others influencing him. He wanted Saul to see his respect and loyalty towards him and turn back from trying to kill him.

Notice, David did not try to defend himself. He was not guilty of any evil towards Saul. He had served Saul faithfully and could have told Saul all the ways he served him, but instead he called on Saul to bring an accusation against him. He asked Saul to bring charges against him. What was his crime, deserving of death?

I like how David handled this situation. Pastor Chuck Smith always told us, we do not have to defend ourselves; God will be our defense. If we try to defend ourselves, then God will stand back and let us handle it ourselves. I do not think we can defend ourselves better than the Lord, so I always leave it to the Lord to defend me.

I also see David’s kindness towards Saul. He gave Saul the opportunity to repent of his sin. Just as David would not raise a hand against God’s anointed, Saul should not have come against David, because he was also anointed by the Lord. Saul was sinning against the Lord when he sought to take David’s life.

When you are walking in God’s will, you do not have to defend yourself. You do not have to take down your enemies. All you have to do is trust in Him and walk according to His ways.

Faith is a refusal to panic.
~D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones~

Father’s Day

So it was, when the days of feasting had run their course, that Job would send and sanctify them, and he would rise early in the morning and offer burnt offerings according to the number of them all. For Job said, “It may be that my sons have sinned and cursed God in their hearts.”Thus Job did regularly.

Job 1:5

Happy Father’s day! Today, we celebrate fathers and their position as leaders of the family. Being a father is such an important role. When you get married, the man is responsible for the spiritual condition of his bride, and when the couple has children, his responsibilities increase. He is now responsible for the spiritual growth of his children.

Looking at the godly men of the Bible, Job stands out as a man who understood his responsibility to his family and was dedicated to fulfilling the role of spiritual leader of his home. Right at the beginning of the Book of Job, we see him offering burnt offerings for all of his kids, just in case they had sinned against the Lord.

As a Christian man and father, I get up early and I lift up my sons, their wives and children in prayer. I ask the Lord to have His hand upon them, to protect and encourage them in His ways. When I am with them, I take the time to speak to them about the Lord and the Word of God, especially with my grandchildren. I want them to know God’s Word and love Him.

Today, I pray every father would be blessed to spend time with their families, and as they come together, I pray they would take the time to give thanks to our Father in heaven and the blessings He provides.

A father’s holy life is a rich legacy for his sons.
~C. H. Spurgeon~

Peace in God

Then Saul knew David’s voice, and said, “Is that your voice, my son David?” David said, “It is my voice, my lord, O king.”

1 Samuel 26:17

Notice the respect and humility David had for Saul. He was pursuing David, to kill him and yet David treated Saul with great respect, calling him, “…my lord, O king.” David was humble, because he was submitted to the Lord. He submitted to Saul, because he knew the Lord had made Saul king and only He could take Saul from the throne.

While we see the respect and humility of David, we also see the instability of Saul. Even though he sought to kill David, he called him, “…my son David.” If he saw David as a son, why would he try to kill him? It makes no sense, unless you look at the heart of Saul.

David was a man after God’s heart, but Saul was a man of the flesh. He did not seek the will of the Lord, he sought power and position. David trusted in the Lord and Saul did not even trust his own son, Jonathan.

Think about these two men and the condition of their hearts. We all know someone who seeks power and position instead of the will of God. They see everyone as the enemy. Everyone is out to get them. Their faith and trust is in their own ability.

I love the heart of David. He trusted in the Lord, and knew God would put him on the throne in His time. He knew it was not by his power or might, but by the power of God. There is great peace and freedom when we trust in the Lord, for only He provides a solid foundation to stand on.

Five great enemies to peace: greed, ambition,
envy, anger and pride.
~Petrarch~

Lesson in Humility

So David said to Abner, “Are you not a man? And who is like you in Israel? Why then have you not guarded your lord the king? For one of the people came in to destroy your lord the king. This thing that you have done is not good. As the Lord lives, you deserve to die, because you have not guarded your master, the Lord’s anointed. And now see where the king’s spear is, and the jug of water that was by his head.”

1 Samuel 26:15-16

Abner had answered David all puffed up in pride, before he knew who was speaking and what had happened while he was sleeping, so David had to correct him. Abner failed to protect the king, the Lord’s anointed, and he deserved death.

David not only told Abner he had failed in protecting Saul, he proved it when he showed him the kings’ spear and water jug. There was no way for Abner to deny his failing because David held the proof in his hands. I do not think Abner was so puffed up after David confronted him. He was shamed.

That is what happens when we get puffed up and we think we are better than other people. God will find a way to knock us down real quickly. He will show us just how important we are not.

It is important to recognize; Abner had a great responsibility, but because he was not in tune with the Lord, he failed. He failed himself and he failed the king. It was the Lord who saved Saul, not Abner. If we do not live humbly, God will continuously teach us humility.

Life is a long lesson in humility.
~James M. Barrie~

Puffed Up

Now David went over to the other side, and stood on the top of a hill afar off, a great distance being between them. And David called out to the people and to Abner the son of Ner, saying, “Do you not answer, Abner?” Then Abner answered and said, “Who are you, calling out to the king?”

1 Samuel 26:13-14

David went far enough away from Saul and his men and called out to them, waking them up. He called to Abner by name, but Abner did not recognize David’s voice. He did not know it was David, but he questioned David for calling out to the king, because David had no place to speak with the king.

This is very interesting. Abner was puffed up. He was Saul’s right hand man and he could not believe this person would call out and wake up the king. Didn’t he know Saul was a very important person? He did not have time to speak with this man calling out.

There was so much pride in Saul and his men followed in his footsteps. They thought they were so important instead of recognizing all power came from the Lord. Just as Saul was not walking with the Lord, his men were also far from the Lord and His will.

No matter who we are, or what we do in our lives, we cannot lose sight of God’s anointing. Without the anointing of the Lord, we cannot do anything. We cannot get puffed up, because we are nothing without the Lord. With Him, we can do anything. Without Him, we are useless, prideful men and women.

Be not be proud of race, face, place or grace.
~C. H. Spurgeon~

Faith Brings Faithfulness

So David took the spear and the jug of water by Saul’s head, and they got away; and no man saw or knew it or awoke. For they were all asleep, because a deep sleep from the Lord had fallen on them.

1 Samuel 26:12

Look at the wisdom God gave David. Again, he had the opportunity to kill Saul, but instead he took Saul’s spear and water jug to prove he had been close enough to kill him. He wanted to confront Saul one more time, to prove his innocence to him.

Remember, it worked when Saul went into the cave where David was hiding in 1 Samuel 24. When Saul was faced with the truth of David’s loyalty to him, he turned back and stopped pursuing David, so he would try it again. Surely Saul would recognize David’s innocence and leave him alone.

We see David’s trust in the Lord, and we also see God’s faithfulness to David. The Lord caused Saul and his men to sleep deeply, so they would not wake up and catch David and Abishai.

While Saul trusted in his men, David’s faith was in the Lord. Because David sought the will of the Lord, he experienced the faithfulness of God. He knew God would be with him no matter what.

If we want to truly experience the faithfulness of the Lord, we have to put our faith and trust in Him. He wants to bless our lives, but many times we get in the way of God’s blessings, because we are trying to do things our way instead of God’s way. Believe me, His way is much better!

Faith will not get for us what we want, but it will get
what God wants us to have.
~Vance Havner~

Love One Another

David said furthermore, “As the Lord lives, the Lord shall strike him, or his day shall come to die, or he shall go out to battle and perish.”

1 Samuel 26:10

Look at David’s faith and trust in the Lord. He did not need Abishai to kill Saul and go against the Lord’s anointed. He knew God had anointed him to be the next king of Israel, so He had a plan to remove Saul from the throne, and He did not need David or his men to help Him.
When I read this verse, I think about how the Lord was revealing things to David. He already knew God was going to take care of Saul, but he did not know how. David knew in his heart God would protect him, because He had a plan for David’s life, and He would take Saul out. The only way Saul would give up the throne was if he was dead. There was no other way.
I love to read about David’s complete love and trust in the Lord. We have seen the Lord deliver Saul up to David time and time again, but he never came against Saul. He never allowed hate or bitterness towards Saul into his heart. He knew God was in control, not Saul or David, and God would bring about His plan for David’s life in His time.
This is one of the greatest lessons we can learn from David’s life. God has a plan for each one of our lives and He will accomplish things in His time. He does not want us to strive with man, trying to achieve a goal or something we think is God’s will. We do not have to compete against each other. God has a plan for each one of us individually, and when we place our faith and trust in Him, we will love one another, without envy and jealousy.
To have the heart flow with mutual love is vastly better than to glare with the most pompous titles, offices or powers.
~Matthew Henry~

Love Like God

But David said to Abishai, “Do not destroy him; for who can stretch out his hand against the Lord’s anointed, and be guiltless?”

1 Samuel 26:9

Underline this verse. It is the most important thing in this chapter—loyalty to the Lord’s anointed. Are you anointed? If you are anointed, people have to be careful with you. You have to be careful with God’s people. David was speaking spiritually. He knew the Word of God. He had the spirit of God. David was going to be the next king and God was preparing him. Even though he had the opportunity to kill Saul, in his heart, he could not do it, because he loved Saul. He knew the guilt he would carry if he killed Saul.

God really spoke to me through this verse. We have to look at the Christians around us and recognize the anointing of the Lord upon them. We have to see the anointing and treat them with love, just as David loved Saul.

It would have been easy and fair for David to come against Saul, because Saul was trying to kill him, but instead he loved him. He knew God had raised him up to be king and God had to be the one to take him off the throne, not David.

Think about it. There are people in our lives who get on our nerves. We just do not like to be around them. If we look at them as God’s anointed, we will see them through the eyes of the Lord and we will have love for them in our hearts. That is what God wants us to do. He wants us to love one another, as He loves us, and show them love, grace and mercy.

Christian love is not the victim of our emotions but the servant of our will.
~John R. W. Stott~

Loyal Friends

So David and Abishai came to the people by night; and there Saul lay sleeping within the camp, with his spear stuck in the ground by his head. And Abner and the people lay all around him.

1 Samuel 26:7

Saul was not only surrounded by his men, with Abner by his side, he also made sure he was armed and ready for any attack. He laid down his spear right next to him just in case anybody came up to him. It looks like Saul and his men were ready for anything, but look at the truth:

Then Abishai said to David, “God has delivered your enemy into your hand this day. Now therefore, please, let me strike him at once with the spear, right to the earth; and I will not have to strike him a second time!”

(1 Samuel 26:8)

This verse reveals the truth about Saul and his men. They were not ready for an attack. Abishai and David were able to walk right up to them. Abishai could have killed Saul with one strike and no one would have stopped him. The only one to stop him from killing Saul was David. Because of his devotion to David, Abishai wanted to kill David’s enemy, but there was no true loyalty to Saul. His men slept while the enemy got close enough to kill him.

It is so important to know the character of the people we surround ourselves with. You want people who love the Lord and have integrity and loyalty, not people with their own agenda and no real loyalty to the friendship.

A guileless mind is a great treasure; it is worth any price.
~A. W. Tozer~

Repentant Heart

So Saul disguised himself and put on other clothes, and he went, and two men with him; and they came to the woman by night. And he said, “Please conduct a séance for me, and bring up for me the one I shall name to you.”

1 Samuel 28:8

Saul was so deep in sin; he disguised himself to go out to the witch of Endor. We can look at his attempt to disguise himself in two ways, but they are both deception. He may have disguised himself, because he had ordered his men to drive all the mediums and spiritist from Israel. Surely if he went to the witch as himself, she would be afraid to do what he asked.

On the other hand, he may have disguised himself so the people would not recognize him when he sinned against the Lord and against his own word, as he sought out a medium. Whatever reason Saul had in his heart, he was sinning. He was not a man of his word, and he was sinning against the Lord. No disguise would hide his sin from God.

How many times have we disguised ourselves, because we do not want people to know who we are; especially when we are in sin? How many times do you find yourself in a place and you leave quickly so nobody sees you? We try to cover up our sin, because we know in our conscience, by conviction, we should not be there or do that.

If you have to hide something from others to save yourself, you should not do it. No matter how hard you try to hide your sin, God will see it. He does not want us to deny sin or try to hide it; He just wants a repentant heart. He prefers obedience rather than sacrifice (1 Samuel 15:22).

You should never think of sin without repenting.
~Philip Henry~

Godly Fellowship

Then David answered, and said to Ahimelech the Hittite and to Abishai the son of Zeruiah, brother of Joab, saying, “Who will go down with me to Saul in the camp?” And Abishai said, “I will go down with you.”

1 Samuel 26:6

David’s attitude and heart is so cool in this verse. He wanted to go down into the camp to Saul, but the people he was bringing with him wanted to kill Saul. They did not understand the thoughts of David. Notice, he said, “Who will go down with me to Saul in the camp?” He did not say, “Who will go down and kill Saul.”

David was looking for those who really trusted in the Lord and not in man. He knew the man who chose to enter the camp of the enemy was a man who fully trusted in the Lord—a man with a close walk with God.

It is so important to have a close walk with the Lord, so when He calls you to go you are prayed up, not questioning whether you should go or not go. The only way to know the will of God is to be close to the heartbeat of God, and the only way to do that is to be in prayer and in the Word every day—every single day.

David wanted to surround himself with godly men. He wanted the leaders around him to be in close fellowship with the Lord. If they did not trust in the Lord fully and completely, they would not have courage in the battles ahead. That is what God wants for every one of us. He wants us to be surrounded by and in fellowship with godly men and women, so we will be equally bound in the Lord, seeking His will and His way.

Keep company with the soundest of Christians that have most experience of Christ.
~John Bunyan~

Spiritually Asleep

So David arose and came to the place where Saul had encamped. And David saw the place where Saul lay, and Abner the son of Ner, the commander of his army. Now Saul lay within the camp, with the people encamped all around him.

1 Samuel 26:5

As David came upon the camp of Saul, he knew where to look for Saul. He was in the center of his men. The king was the most important member of the company, so he had to be protected from any attacks from the enemy. David had been a warrior for Saul, so he knew exactly where Saul would be found.

Just as he predicted, Saul was there with Abner, the commander of the army, right beside him. Abner was not only the commander; he was Saul’s body guard. He was responsible for Saul’s protection, whether they were in battle or camped for the night.

What is so interesting about this is the position of Saul, Abner and all his men? They all surrounded Saul, to keep him safe, but they were all asleep. Not one of Saul’s men stayed awake to protect him. They appeared to do the right thing, but it was all an act. No one really took the responsibility of keeping the king safe seriously.

I have met many people just like Abner and his men. They say they are Christians and they love the Lord, but they are not serious in their relationship with Him. They are putting on a good act, but spiritually, they are asleep, counting on someone else for their walk with the Lord and, in the end, the enemy will come in and take them by surprise.

Complacency is the deadly enemy of spiritual progress.
~A. W. Tozer~

Love Not Anger

And Saul encamped in the hill of Hachilah, which is opposite Jeshimon, by the road. But David stayed in the wilderness, and he saw that Saul came after him into the wilderness. David therefore sent out spies, and understood that Saul had indeed come.

1 Samuel 26:3-4

Notice, no matter how many times Saul came out to kill David, David did not retaliate against Saul. He never sought to kill or even harm Saul. He knew, even though God had anointed him to be king of Israel, he had to wait for God to remove Saul. It was not up to him to remove Saul.

David did not go out against Saul, but he did keep an eye on him, by sending out spies. David was very wise. He was not an enemy to Saul but Saul was his enemy, so he made sure Saul could not catch him unaware.

David knew he would have to face Saul again and again. He knew Saul would not stop pursuing him, because he was suspicious of David, and the men surrounding him kept feeding the fire of distrust. If David had to face Saul, he wanted to make sure he was ready to talk to him. He had to know Saul’s state of mind, so he could communicate with him. Every time David talked to Saul it was always with respect, with the fear of God and always with love.

This is the best way to face our enemies, with hearts of love, in submission to the Lord. If we face someone who is against us in anger, we will only make things worse. We will fan the flames of anger and distrust. When we submit to the Lord and come to people in the love of the Lord, great things can be accomplished.

Suspicions subtract, faith adds, but love multiplies. It blesses twice—him who gives it and him who gets it.
~C. T. Studd~

The Anointing of God

Then Saul arose and went down to the Wilderness of Ziph, having three thousand chosen men of Israel with him, to seek David in the Wilderness of Ziph.

1 Samuel 26:2

Saul took three thousand men with him to seek one person. Think about that. It took three thousand soldiers to find and defeat one person. Did David have a great army? Was he a threat to Saul’s life? David had a group of misfits. They were not a mighty army. They were men and their families who had been pushed aside. They were not the top fighters. They were from the bottom of the barrel.

Not only was David leading a group of misfits, but he was not seeking to harm Saul. He had many opportunities and did not bring any harm to Saul. There was no reason for Saul to fear him and seek to take his life.

David and his band of misfits remind me of Pastor Chuck Smith and his group of hippies. He had all the misfits too, and the denominational churches were threatened by him, so they spoke against him. He was not trying to take their people, but they sought him harm.

It is funny, because this is what God does to prove His power and His anointing when He uses people you would never think He would use. This is where you see the miracle of the Lord. When He uses you and me even though we are not the greatest speakers or the smartest theologians, it is all a miracle of the Lord. There are greater people who can do that. It is not about knowledge and wisdom it is about the anointing of God, remember that.

None is a Christian minister who has not been ordained by the laying on of unseen hands.
~Richard Glover~

God’s Protection

Now the Ziphites came to Saul at Gibeah, saying, “Is David not hiding in the hill of Hachilah, opposite Jeshimon?”

1 Samuel 26:1

At the beginning of the chapter, we see the treachery of the Ziphites. Saul had stopped pursuing David and was home in Gibeah, but the Ziphites wanted to score points with Saul, so they betrayed David. They knew where David was, and so they decided to snitch on him and turn him over to Saul.

This was not the first time the Ziphites betrayed David. The first time they came against David was in 1 Samuel 23:19. David and his men were hiding in the wilderness of Ziph, but they had not harmed the people of Ziph. There was no reason for them to betray David, but they were like a thorn in the flesh to him. They wanted the king of Israel to be with them, so they betrayed David.

I think we can all relate to David in this situation. We have people like the Ziphites in our lives, who have their own reasons for wanting to find favor. We do not cause them any harm or threaten them, but they become thorns in our flesh, because they really do not love us. They betray us and want to see us destroyed.

Even with these people in our lives, we do not have to be discouraged, because God will protect us, just as He protected David. When people come against us for no reason, other than their own jealousies, God will not prosper them. He will defeat them, just as He defeated the Ziphites strategies to take David down.

Our welfare is the constant concern of God’s loving heart.
~W. J. C. White~

Godly Spouse

So when David heard that Nabal was dead, he said, “Blessed be the Lord, who has pleaded the cause of my reproach from the hand of Nabal, and has kept His servant from evil! For the Lord has returned the wickedness of Nabal on his own head.” And David sent and proposed to Abigail, to take her as his wife.

1 Samuel 25:39

God had avenged David and he heard all of what the Lord had done for him. Because he had not gone in and killed Nabal, but trusted in the Lord, God blessed him and took care of his enemy. David also acknowledged it was the Lord who kept him from doing evil. Abigail was the one who spoke the words, but it was all arranged by God.

Abigail not only warned David of doing evil against the Lord. She also told him: then remember your maidservant, in Verse 31. Her husband was dead and when David heard of his death, he remembered Abigail, sent and proposed to her. When she heard, she hurried to David’s side.

David saw Abigail as a wise, godly woman—a woman who would be a great blessing to him and the people following him. After his experience with Michal, Saul’s daughter, he was probably so happy to find a godly woman.

All men need to take heed to the life of David. Do not get married too quickly. Seek out a godly woman, who will be a blessing in your life. It is the same for women. Seek out a godly man, who will love you as Christ loves the church. If you rush to marry outside of God’s will, you will pay a big price.

Don’t look around for a life partner, look up. Any other choice than God’s will mean disaster.
~Author Unknown

Do Not Seek Revenge

So it was, in the morning, when the wine had gone from Nabal, and his wife had told him these things, that his heart died within him, and he became like a stone. Then it happened, after about ten days, that the Lord struck Nabal, and he died.

1 Samuel 25:37-38

Wow! Look at what happened to Nabal when Abigail told him about David and his men. He had a heart attack. Imagine; God let him drink all night long, because it was his last night to party.

Think about what Abigail told David in Verse 26: “… let your enemies and those who seek harm for my lord be as Nabal”. She wished David’s enemies the same fate as Nabal, before he was struck by the Lord. It sounds like Abigail knew God was going to take care of Nabal.

It could be the Lord had revealed this to Abigail, but I think she knew God would take care of Nabal, because she had put her faith and trust in the Lord. She knew Nabal could not continue in his foolishness and come against God’s anointed without consequences, and she knew David was God’s anointed.

This is a great lesson for all of us. We do not have to defend ourselves or seek vengeance on our enemies. We just need to give it over to the Lord, and then we will not do evil in His sight. When we seek revenge, it is not of the Lord. Do not allow anger and bitterness towards your enemy to take root in your heart. Trust the Lord and He will deliver you and take care of all your enemies.

The only people with whom you should try to get even are those who have helped you.
~John E. Southard~

Study God’s Word

Now Abigail went to Nabal, and there he was, holding a feast in his house, like the feast of a king. And Nabal’s heart was merry within him, for he was very drunk; therefore she told him nothing, little or much, until morning light.

1 Samuel 25:36

Look at the contrast between the character of Abigail, David and Nabal. Abigail had a heart for the people and God used her to speak wisdom to David. David recognized the hand of God upon Abigail and listened to God’s wisdom, so he would not shed blood. These were humble, wise servants.

Nabal offended David and his men, and then had a party. He did not have the wisdom or knowledge to even realize the danger coming to him. He had no regard for his people, so he did not worry about David’s anger against them. He was a man of his name—a prideful fool.

Abigail knew not to tell Nabal what she had done while he was drunk. In his condition, he could get angry and turn against her, so she waited until morning. Again, the wisdom of Abigail was shown in contrast to the foolishness of her husband.

It is so important to pay attention when we are reading our Bibles. These are not just stories to entertain us. These people lived their lives and their stories are written for our example. Many are good examples to us, but many show us how not to be. They show us what happens when we do not live according to God’s Word. We need to heed the Word of God, as He seeks to lead and guide our lives.

Read it to get the facts, study it to get the meaning,
meditate on it to get the benefit.
~David Shephard~

Led by God’s Wisdom

Then David said to Abigail: “Blessed is the Lord God of Israel, who sent you this day to meet me! And blessed is your advice and blessed are you, because you have kept me this day from coming to bloodshed and from avenging myself with my own hand.”

1 Samuel 25:32-33

We have read about the wisdom and bravery of Abigail, how she went out to meet David and his men, as they were prepared for war against her husband. Now, we will see whether David accepts the wisdom the Lord gave her for him, or he is controlled by his anger and need for vengeance.

David was so connected to the Lord. He knew His heartbeat, and he recognized it was God who was behind the advice Abigail gave him. He not only recognized the wisdom was from the Lord, but accepted it and decided to turn from his need for vengeance. There would be no bloodshed.

What is so cool is that David was willing to accept the wisdom of this woman he did not even know. He was open to the Holy Spirit and recognized the work of the Lord. He did not walk away from her because she was the wife of Nabal, his enemy.

That is the only way God can really use our lives. We have to be open to the Holy Spirit. We have to be open to the people God sends in our path. If we are truly walking with the Lord, we will recognize godly wisdom. We will be willing to change our minds or admit when we are wrong, because we are led by the Lord, not our own wisdom or pride. I love David’s heart for God.

Wisdom opens the eyes both to the glories of heaven
and to the hollowness of earth.
~J. A. Motyer~

An Enduring House

“And now this present which your maidservant has brought to my lord, let it be given to the young men who follow my lord. Please forgive the trespass of your maidservant. For the Lord will certainly make for my lord an enduring house, because my lord fights the battles of the Lord, and evil is not found in you throughout your days.”

1 Samuel 25:27-28

Look at the wisdom of Abigail. The Lord was clearly using her to speak to David. He was leading and guiding her in all the things she needed to say to David. You know it was of the Lord, because she was speaking of things to come for the house of David—prophesying how God was going to use him.

More importantly than telling David God would make him an enduring house, she pointed out the content of his character. God would give him an enduring house, because he fought the battles of the Lord and evil was not found in him. Notice, he had not sinned against the Lord. Killing Nabal in anger would have been a sin. It would have been evil.

I love the life of David, because it is such a great example to all of us. He was not a perfect man, but he sought to walk according to the Lord. He fought the Lord’s battles. He did no evil before Him.

Not one of us is perfect. We all fall short of the glory of the Lord, but we need to seek to walk according to the Lord, to bring glory to Him. That is what David did and because he did, God made him an enduring house. He wants to bless each one of us, if we walk with Him in obedience.

Only in obedience can we discover
the great joy of the will of God.
~Sinclair Ferguson~

Obedience Not Emotions

“Now therefore, my lord, as the Lord lives and as your soul lives, since the Lord has held you back from coming to bloodshed and from avenging yourself with your own hand, now then, let your enemies and those who seek harm for my lord be as Nabal.”

1 Samuel 25:26

What Abigail said next was very interesting. She stopped David on his way to kill Nabal and all the men with him. She bowed to the ground, humbly before him and asked him to hear her cry. At the very beginning, she took responsibility for the insult to David and his men, but in this verse, she turns his heart to the Lord.

While David had stopped to listen to her, his intent was clear. He was going to avenge himself on Nabal, but Abigail acted like the Lord had already changed David’s mind. She said: “… since the Lord has held you back from coming to bloodshed and from avenging yourself with your own hand…”

In his anger, David had not sought the guiding of the Lord. He gathered his men and rode out against Nabal. However, Abigail knew he was a godly man, and turned his mind from vengeance to the Lord. She made David rethink what he was doing. Would it be pleasing to the Lord? Was God leading him and his men against Nabal?

Many times, we get ahead of the Lord, because we are being led by our emotions. There may be someone in your life who will turn your heart and mind back to the Lord, but if not, you have to stop and rethink your position, before you do something that does not please the Lord.

I believe that in any setting, the tendency to place personal feelings above the Scriptures is always an insult to God.
~A. W. Tozer~

Sacrificial Love

So she fell at his feet and said: “On me, my lord, on me let this iniquity be! And please let your maidservant speak in your ears, and hear the words of your maidservant. Please, let not my lord regard this scoundrel Nabal. For as his name is, so is he: Nabal is his name, and folly is with him! But I, your maidservant, did not see the young men of my lord whom you sent.”

1 Samuel 25:24-25

Abigail humbled herself even more, when she took responsibility for the offense to David and his men. With her face to the ground, she asked to be heard by David and took the blame. She knew her husband behaved foolishly, because it was his nature, but she still asked David to let the iniquity be on her, not the people.

It is important to understand; Abigail was not defending her husband, she was protecting the people. She accepted responsibility to spare the lives of her people. She sacrificed herself and her husband’s reputation for the people.

I am not saying you should speak evil about your husband to other people. That would be malicious gossip. She was only repeating what David already knew about Nabal. She was not complaining about Nabal, or gossiping with her girlfriends. She was trying to save lives.

The greatest lesson here is her willingness to accept responsibility for something she did not do, to spare the lives of innocent people. Do we have the same heart for the lost, the innocent? Would we give our lives for those who are perishing, like many missionaries have done? Think about it—sacrificial love!

The only life that counts is the life that costs.
~Frederick P. Wood~

Humbled at His Feet

Now when Abigail saw David, she dismounted quickly from the donkey, fell on her face before David, and bowed down to the ground.

1 Samuel 25:23

Look at the way Abigail went to David in humility. She was completely the opposite of her husband Nabal. She did not come before David as a rich woman before a poor peasant. She humbled herself before David and fell with her face to the ground.

David was not greater than her, but he held the power of life and death for her people. She knew she had to humble herself before David, or he would never listen to what she had to say. She humbled herself for the sake of her people.

Think about Jesus Christ. He humbled Himself, came to earth as a little baby, and then remained humble before Pilate, for the sake of you and me. If He had not humbled Himself, we would not have salvation. We would be on our way to hell.

Just as Abigail humbled herself before David, and Jesus humbled Himself before Pilate, we are to humble ourselves before the Lord. We come before the Lord with our faces before the Lord as we intercede for the people we love, who are not saved.

If we are not willing to humble ourselves before the Lord for the people who are perishing in this world, then we do not have the love of the Lord in us. We are prideful instead of humble. Remember what James said: “God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble” (James 4:6).

True humility makes way for Christ
and throws the soul at His feet.
~J. Mason~

Love Your Enemies

“May God do so, and more also, to the enemies of David, if I leave one male of all who belong to him by morning light.”

1 Samuel 25:22

Clearly, David wanted revenge against Nabal and his people. He planned on killing Nabal and every male with him. David was angry and, as a man of war, he was going to defeat this new enemy.

Even though David had every right to be angry and hurt, he should not have been seeking revenge. Remember, in Chapter 24, no matter how much his people told him to kill Saul, he would not. God delivered Saul into his hands, and David still did not raise a hand against Saul, who was seeking to kill him.

Nabal spoke down to David and insulted him, and he was ready to kill him and all his men. It makes no sense. Saul’s offense against David was greater than Nabal’s, but David only had mercy for Saul, not for Nabal.

God has poured out His grace and mercy on all of us. All who come to Him in repentance receive forgiveness. Even while we are sinners, God loves us and is only waiting for us to turn to Him.

That is the grace and mercy God wants us to have for others. It is easy to seek revenge, but Jesus said:

But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you, (Matthew 5:44).

Of love there are two principal offices, one to give,
another to forgive.
~John Boys~

Remember God—Stay Humble

Now David had said, “Surely in vain I have protected all that this fellow has in the wilderness, so that nothing was missed of all that belongs to him. And he has repaid me evil for good.”

1 Samuel 25:21

When Abigail met David, her worst fears were confirmed. David was angry with Nabal and he was going to confront him, along with his men. He was not only angry, his feelings were hurt. He had protected Nabal’s servants and animals, preserving his wealth, and in exchange, Nabal said, “I do not even know him.” It was a slap in the face for David.

Nabal repaid evil for all the good David had done for him, and he acted like he was doing the right thing. David was beneath him. He was a rebellious servant in Nabal’s mind. This was the attitude David was dealing with—a prideful man who was really a coward.

David had every right to be hurt by Nabal’s evil treatment. He had done good for Nabal, while Nabal treated him with contempt and evil intent. He had every reason to be hurt.

Think about how many people you know who are like Nabal. They achieve a position or prosper, and they get so puffed up, they no longer know who they are or they begin to look down on you. This should never happen to a Christian.

It is very hard to stay humble, when all the doors are opening for you and everything you do is successful, but you have to remember where the blessings come from. It is all from the Lord. It is not because you are great; it is all because God is great. Remember that and stay humble.

The way to become poor in spirit is to look at God.
~D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones~

A Wise Wife

And she said to her servants, “Go on before me; see, I am coming after you.” But she did not tell her husband Nabal.

1 Samuel 25:19

When Abigail heard how shamefully her husband Nabal treated David’s men, she loaded up bread, wine, sheep, grain and fruit on some donkeys and sent them ahead of her to David and his men. She told her servants to take the food to David and assured them she would be right behind them. Before she left, she had to make sure everything would run smoothly in her home, because she was not telling her husband she was leaving.

Do you think Abigail was right to go to David without telling Nabal? She was not doing it for herself. Everything she did was to protect Nabal, his servants, David and his men. Abigail did not tell her husband, because she was trying to avoid a war with David. She knew her husband had acted foolishly and put her and all their people in danger. The point is this: sometimes wives cannot tell their husbands because they are fools.

I believe the Lord was leading and guiding Abigail. She acted with great wisdom and she could not take the chance her husband would do something else to offend David.

Men, you have to understand, there are many times when your wife will be smarter than you, and you cannot get intimidated. You need to thank God for giving you a woman who will keep you out of trouble, because she has your best interest at heart, just like God. Seriously. That is what is so cool about the Lord, the way He binds marriages.

A gracious wife satisfies a good husband
and silences a bad one.
~George Swinnock~

The Wisdom of Others

Then Abigail made haste and took two hundred loaves of bread, two skins of wine, five sheep already dressed, five seahs of roasted grain, one hundred clusters of raisins, and two hundred cakes of figs, and loaded them on donkeys.

1 Samuel 25:18

When the young men under Nabal told Abigail what had happened between David’s men and her husband, she knew she had to intervene. Trouble was heading their way, because of the foolishness of her husband. If she wanted to save all of them, she would need to intervene quickly.

She wanted to have peace. As a wife, she did not want her husband to be slaughtered, so she became an intercessor between David and her husband. It is so cool to see how God raised her up to save her husband and to keep David from sinning.

Think of the people God sends to you; to keep you from sinning, to keep you from doing something stupid; something you will regret for the rest of your life. We can all be like David sometimes. When a person offends us, we may lose our cool and want revenge.

Revenge is never the will of God. If you are His child, He is going to send an Abigail to you, to stop you from sinning. We cannot be like Nabal, who was not open to wisdom. You need to really be careful and listen to the wisdom of the godly people God has surrounded you with. He has your best interest in mind, so you can trust Him and His ambassadors.

We can be certain that God wants us to be wise, just as we are sure He wants us not to sin.
~R. C. Sproul~

Godly Character Revealed

Now one of the young men told Abigail, Nabal’s wife, saying, “Look, David sent messengers from the wilderness to greet our master; and he reviled them. But the men were very good to us, and we were not hurt, nor did we miss anything as long as we accompanied them, when we were in the fields. They were a wall to us both by night and day, all the time we were with them keeping the sheep. Now therefore, know and consider what you will do, for harm is determined against our master and against all his household. For he is such a scoundrel that one cannot speak to him.”

1 Samuel 25:14-17

Nabal was a rich man but he was a fool. Fortunately for him, he had men around him who were not fools. They saw what happened with David’s men, and they knew they were in trouble. While David had protected them out in the wilderness, with his authority and strength, that authority and strength would now be turned on them.

Not only did Nabal’s men know they were in danger from David and his men, they knew they could not reason with Nabal because he was not a reasonable man. He was so prideful; he did not have the sense to fear David and his men. In order to save themselves, the young men went to Abigail, Nabal’s wife; a woman of wisdom.

When you look at Nabal and Abigail, you have to examine your own life. Are you a prideful, foolish person or a person with godly wisdom? God has shown us their lives as examples to us. We have to read His Word and decide who we want to be. God has revealed the character of the man or woman who walks closely with Him.

Character tells upon others.
~G. Campbell Morgan~

No Regrets

So David’s young men turned on their heels and went back; and they came and told him all these words. Then David said to his men, “Every man gird on his sword.” So every man girded on his sword, and David also girded on his sword. And about four hundred men went with David, and two hundred stayed with the supplies.

1 Samuel 25:12-13

David heard the insults and lies Nabal spoke and he was angry. He decided to teach Nabal a lesson, so he took up his weapons and gathered his men to go against Nabal. What was David really doing? He was trying to take matters into his own hands. He did not bring it to the Lord; he took up his weapons to handle it himself.

Be careful when you try to handle things without the Lord. It will get you in trouble every time. We have all tried to do things without the Lord and it never ends well. Without God’s blessing, things never work out the way we think they will.

One time, I had an assistant pastor steal and commit adultery with a woman in the ministry. He hurt our family, so I wanted to get rid of him. I went to Pastor Chuck, because my heart wanted revenge and he really ministered to me. I have that weakness in my life, so I have to really be careful, because I will be sorry. It was by the Lord’s grace Pastor Chuck helped me so much in that part of my life.

We all have weaknesses, and if we give in to them and take matters into our own hands, instead of seeking God’s will, we will be sorry. We will have regrets in our lives. Seek God and you will have no regrets!

Inside the will of God there is no failure. Outside the will of God there is no success.
~Bernard Edinger~

Memorial Day

The memory of the righteous is blessed, but the name of the wicked will rot.

Proverbs 10:7

Memorial Day was officially recognized as a day of remembrance for those who had died serving the United States of America by President Lyndon Johnson, in May 1966. Today, we remember those who have made the ultimate sacrifice in defense of our country and its people, and their memory will be blessed.

Throughout the Bible, God gave days of remembrance to the children of Israel, so they would remember the protection and provision of the Lord. God did not want the people to forget Him and start to take the glory upon themselves for the work of God.

Notice, in Proverbs, Solomon said the memory of the righteous is blessed. In remembering those who have died serving our country, we recognize their sacrifice and selflessness. Without their willingness to step between the wickedness of this world and the innocent, many more lives would be lost.

As a Marine veteran of the Vietnam War, this is a solemn day for me, as I remember the men I fought side by side with in the jungles. I am thankful for those who came home with me, and I give thanks for those who gave their lives in service, those I call brothers. They gave their lives in order for many to come home. Since the Vietnam War, many more men and women have followed them in sacrificing their lives for others. They were men and women of courage and conviction. I stand in awe of you. Semper Fi!

Take courage. We walk in the wilderness today and in the Promised Land tomorrow.
~D. L. Moody~

Slander & Lies

Then Nabal answered David’s servants, and said, “Who is David, and who is the son of Jesse? There are many servants nowadays who break away each one from his master. Shall I then take my bread and my water and my meat that I have killed for my shearers, and give it to men when I do not know where they are from?”

1 Samuel 25:10-11

Nabal was not only a selfish and prideful man, but he was a liar and slanderer. He said he did not know David but he was lying. David was known throughout Israel. He had been a leader in Saul’s army. He served Saul in his house. Everyone in Israel knew David. Nabal only wanted to insult and put David down.

He also accused David of being a disobedient servant, which was also a lie and an insult to David. David had never rebelled against Saul. Even when he had the opportunity to kill Saul, he did not do it and remained faithful to Saul.

David was a man of faithfulness and honor and Nabal was a fool. I think Nabal’s pride got to him, and he was envious of David. He knew he was small and insignificant next to David, so he had to put David down to feel better about himself.

When we feel threatened by others and tell lies about them, so we look better than we really are, we end up making fools of ourselves. If you are putting someone down to look better, God will reveal the truth and you will look like the fool you really are.

Lies and false reports are among Satan’s choicest weapons.
~J. C. Ryle~

Selfishness & Pride

So when David’s young men came, they spoke to Nabal according to all these words in the name of David, and waited. Then Nabal answered David’s servants, and said, “Who is David, and who is the son of Jesse? There are many servants nowadays who break away each one from his master.”

1 Samuel 25:9-10

Notice the obedience of David’s men. They went to Nabal in David’s name and they spoke the words David told them to speak. They could have gone and made something up or tried to do their own thing, but they were representing David, so they were men of integrity, speaking only what David told them.

This is so important, because we all represent other people at some time. If we are speaking for our parents, bosses, even the Lord, we do not want to misrepresent them. Remember, Moses did not enter the Promised Land because he misrepresented God.

Unfortunately, Nabal turned out to be just as his name proclaimed him, a fool. He was not a man of integrity. He did not respect the protection David and his men provided for Nabal’s people and animals. Instead, he looked down on David.

Nabal could have been used; helping God’s people, to strengthen them, and God may have doubled his sheep, but in pride, he turned on David. How many times do we miss out on the blessings of God because of our selfishness and our pride? When God opens a door before us, we should never close the door, like Nabal did.

Where self is the end of our actions, there Satan is the rewarder of them.
~William Secker~

Faithful Servant

‘”Now I have heard that you have shearers. Your shepherds were with us, and we did not hurt them, nor was there anything missing from them all the while they were in Carmel. Ask your young men, and they will tell you. Therefore let my young men find favor in your eyes, for we come on a feast day. Please give whatever comes to your hand to your servants and to your son David.’”

1 Samuel 25:7-8

Now, we have the main message David sent to Nabel, the rich man. David’s men came in peace, in the name of David, to ask for provisions from Nabel. He did not ask for a great amount. He asked for whatever came to hand—whatever could be spared.

Notice, David was not asking for a handout. While Nabel’s shepherds had been in the fields, David and his men had protected them. They did not take anything from them or allow anyone else to steal from them. Basically, David and his men had protected Nabel’s wealth, his possessions.

In many ways, we are like David for our employers. We have been put in positions to take care of the owners’ possessions. Wherever we work, in whatever position we have, we have been entrusted with the owners’ wealth, because their riches come from their businesses.

My question to you is this. Are you a faithful employee? Do you keep watch over your employers’ possessions and guard them against thieves? Will they find not one thing missing? We should be even better servants than David, because we know we will get a paycheck.

Reverent fear of God is the key to faithfulness
in any situation.
~Alan Redpath~

Humble Servant

When David heard in the wilderness that Nabal was shearing his sheep, David sent ten young men; and David said to the young men, “Go up to Carmel, go to Nabal, and greet him in my name. And thus you shall say to him who lives in prosperity: ‘Peace be to you, peace to your house, and peace to all that you have!’”

1 Samuel 25:4-6

David and his men lived out in the wilderness. They lived out with the shepherds and their animals. They were not rich men, but they knew Nabel was prosperous, so David was sending his men to Nabel, in his name, to ask for assistance. There were many of them and they were thirsty and hungry.

Notice how David began his message to Nabel. Three times he used the word peace, shalom in Hebrew. David was a man of war, but he came in peace; he loved peace. He did not want any problems with Nabel, so he made his intentions clear right from the beginning.

I think we really see David’s humility in this verse. He was a man of war and he could have come to Nabel aggressively, but he had his men spoke of peace. He was coming to Nabel as a gentleman, not a warrior.

We can all learn from David in so many ways. He knew how to approach people and was very respectful. Although he had already been anointed king of Israel by Samuel, he remained humble.

No matter what title or position you have, remember, you are a servant of the Lord. That is who people need to see—God’s humble servant.

Humility is an invisible virtue.
~Thomas Philippe~

Strength & Weakness

The name of the man was Nabal, and the name of his wife Abigail. And she was a woman of good understanding and beautiful appearance; but the man was harsh and evil in his doings. He was of the house of Caleb.

1 Samuel 25:3

More of the rich man’s character is revealed in this verse. First, we learn his name was Nabal, which means “foolish.” Next, we see he had a wife, Abigail, and her name means “my father is joy. “She was a beautiful and intelligent woman.

It is amazing; God had gifted him financially, and he was gifted with a wife of beauty and intelligence. While his name meant foolish, and he probably acted a fool, God had given him a wife who would be a blessing to him. It is even possible he was blessed financially because of his wife’s wisdom.

Many times in ministry, we see how God gifts us with our wives, our children and the leaders He brings to us. There may be areas we are weak in, so God surrounds us with the people who will assist us and lift up our hands.

It is important for each one of us to know our strengths and our weaknesses. When we recognize where we are weak, we will remain humble and open to the assistance of others. If we want all the glory to ourselves, we will be prideful and distrustful of people who are strong in our weak areas. We will not allow them to assist us because we are threatened by them. If we remain prideful instead of humble, God will not bless. He will not send those to stand alongside of us and we will fail.

Be not proud of race, face, place or grace.
~C. H. Spurgeon~

Spiritually Rich

Now there was a man in Maon whose business was in Carmel, and the man was very rich. He had three thousand sheep and a thousand goats. And he was shearing his sheep in Carmel.

1 Samuel 25:2

We are introduced to a rich man in this Chapter. He sounds like Abraham, owning thousands of sheep and goats. With all those animals, he was considered a rich man in that culture. He had to have money to own and take care of all the animals.

When we think of Abraham, we know he was a man who was rich financially, but more importantly, he was spiritually rich. God had blessed him as he walked closely with the Lord, and in his riches he blessed many others. He took care of his people and was very generous.

In this verse, all we can say about this man is that he was financially rich. We do not know if he was spiritually rich or if he used what he was blessed with to bless others. This is important, because we cannot tell a man’s character from his bank account.

In our lives, we will encounter people from all walks of life. Some of them will be rich, some poor and some in the middle. We do not want to focus on the things they own but the character they display. Financial riches are not greater than spiritual riches. I would rather have one spiritually rich, poor man as my friend than 100 rich men who are poor spiritually.

Think of all the things God can do with poor men who have nothing but hearts for Him. It will blow your mind!

No amount of riches can atone for poverty of character.
~Author Unknown~

Lament the Loss of the Godly

Then Samuel died; and the Israelites gathered together and lamented for him, and buried him at his home in Ramah. And David arose and went down to the Wilderness of Paran.

1 Samuel 25:1

Chapter 25 of 1 Samuel begins with the death of Samuel the prophet, as David loses his friend. What caught my eye in this verse was the love the people had for Samuel. When he died, they gathered together and lamented for him. Notice, they did not worship him. They lamented. We lament, which means “we mourn or wail for the loss of someone we love.”

When we lament, we are showing our real feelings and demonstrating how our love for the person was great. Lamenting or mourning helps us deal with the tremendous loss we experience at the death of someone we love. David was affected greatly by the death of Samuel, because of everything he did for David.

Not only David lamented, but the children of Israel lamented over the loss of Samuel. Even though they seemed to come against him, when they asked God for an earthly king, they had great love for him, because he had been a godly influence in their lives. Samuel’s life and actions touched the lives of the people, drawing them closer to the Lord.

This is an example of the legacy I want to leave behind. When the Lord decides to take me home, I want people to lament, because I was a godly influence in their lives. I pray people will remember me as a servant of the Lord, just like Samuel.

The serene, silent beauty of a holy life is the most powerful influence in the world, next to the might of the spirit of God.
~C. H. Spurgeon~

Heart for God

“Therefore swear now to me by the Lord that you will not cut off my descendants after me, and that you will not destroy my name from my father’s house.” So David swore to Saul. And Saul went home, but David and his men went up to the stronghold.

1 Samuel 24:22

After Saul pursued David for so long, he finally admitted defeat and asked David to show mercy to his family when he took the throne. It is important to understand; Saul was not defeated by David. He was defeated by the Lord, and as the next king of Israel, David could have killed all of Saul’s descendants.

Again, we see the heart of David. He promised not to end the line of Saul. He would not destroy Saul’s descendants. Remember, Saul’s son, Jonathan, was David’s best friend. This was an easy promise for David, because his heart was not against Saul or his family. David only wanted peace with Saul. He had never been Saul’s enemy.

Notice, after all David went through, leaving everything behind and running from Saul to save his life, he was not bitter towards Saul. Every time he confronted Saul, it was done in love and respect. No matter what Saul did to him, he did not respond in hate.

David was able to keep his heart from bitterness, because his eyes were on the Lord. He accepted whatever God had for him. If that meant running from Saul, he would run, knowing God was with him. That should be our hearts and attitudes. Keep your hearts and minds fixed upon the Lord and you will not be bitter.

Keep your heart with all diligence
and God will look after the universe.
~A. W. Tozer~

Armed Forces Day

“Be of good courage, and let us be strong for our people and for the cities of our God. And may the Lord do what is good in His sight.”

1 Chronicles 19:13

Outside of the military, many people do not know today is Armed Forces Day, which was established in 1949 by President Harry Truman. This day was established to recognize the unification of the individual arms of the military, under the Department of Defense. Instead of each branch operating independently and having their individual days of recognition, they would be recognized as the Armed Forces of the United States.
It is so important for the citizens of our country to recognize Armed Forces Day, because they are serving each one of us. They are protecting every person in this country, every city, just like the Lord’s army in 1 Chronicles.
Look at David’s words to his army, as they came against the Ammonites and Syrians. He was splitting the army, as the enemy lines were in front and back of them. David lined up the men and said: … “If the Syrians are too strong for me, then you shall help me; but if the people of Ammon are too strong for you, then I will help you. …” (1 Chronicles 19:12).
They would each fight along their own battle lines, but they would fight as one. They would have courage and honor in the battle, just like the men and women of the armed forces today. They fight side by side to protect, not just a country, but the people of the country. They defend our shores and the liberty and peace of those weaker than us.
That is why we celebrate the unification of our military branches. They have come together to form the strongest and bravest fighting team in the world and they sacrifice for you and for me. Today, we honor them.
Courage is absolutely necessary for goodness.
~Richard Glover~

Submitted to the Lord

“For if a man finds his enemy, will he let him get away safely? Therefore may the Lord reward you with good for what you have done to me this day. And now I know indeed that you shall surely be king, and that the kingdom of Israel shall be established in your hand.”

1 Samuel 24:19-20

Saul’s whole world fell apart, because of the kindness and mercy David showed him. It was like the blinders had been lifted from Saul’s eyes and he finally saw the truth and acknowledged it before David and before the Lord.

The heart of David had been revealed to Saul and no matter what happened after this, Saul knew God had seen the heart of David and his heart. In seeing their hearts, the wickedness in Saul towards David had been revealed, along with the mercy in David’s heart.

Saul finally realized the throne of Israel, the one thing he had been fighting for and striving for all this time, would be taken from him. It would not be taken by a man, but by the Lord. God was giving the throne to David.

Listen, we cannot win a fight against the Lord. His plans and purposes will be accomplished, with or without us. If you are striving for something God is not giving you, stop right now. Do not try to fight against the will of God. You will not win, and you will destroy yourself. God knows the plans He has for you and they are perfect; promising you a future and a hope (Jeremiah 29:11). Trust in the Lord and submit your life to Him; then you will find peace in Him.

It is when God appears to have abandoned us that we must abandon ourselves most wholly to God.
~Francois Fenelon~

Israel’s Independence Day

When I have brought them back from the peoples and gathered them out of their enemies’ lands, and I am hallowed in them in the sight of many nations,then they shall know that I am the Lord their God,who sent them into captivity among the nations, but also brought them back to their land, and left none of them captive any longer.

Ezekiel 39:27-28

In the United States, we do not celebrate Israel’s Independence Day, but as Christians, it is a day we need to recognize, as it reminds us of the faithfulness of God and how He fulfills His promises and prophecies.
In the books of the prophets, we see the promise of God to His people, the nation of Israel, to bring them back to the land. Because of their disobedience and idolatry, they had been dispersed throughout the world, but God promised to bring them home to His Promised Land.
On May 14, 1948, God fulfilled His promise to Israel and the nation became an independent Jewish state. After more than 2000 years, God’s people were back in the land and it was recognized as a nation.
The only way the Jewish people could return to the land was the re-establishment of the nation of Israel, and this could only happen, because God had ordained it. It has never happened before in history.
With the return of the Jewish nation, we see the fulfillment of God’s promise and prophecy. Pastor Chuck always told us to keep our eyes on Israel. When the world is focused on Israel and the Middle East, God will fulfill His Word. These are exciting times for Israel, and for all of God’s people.
God never made a promise that was too good to be true.
~D. L. Moody~

Lost Relationship

Then he said to David: “You are more righteous than I; for you have rewarded me with good, whereas I have rewarded you with evil. And you have shown this day how you have dealt well with me; for when the Lord delivered me into your hand, you did not kill me.”

1 Samuel 24:17-18

David’s kindness and mercy towards Saul really touched his life. He felt great conviction in his life when he realized how merciful David had been, even when he could have taken Saul’s life and no one would have blamed him. It would have been justified, because Saul was seeking to kill David.

Saul not only recognized the kindness and mercy from David. He also realized it was the Lord who delivered him into David’s hands. God was no longer speaking to Saul and now the Lord had delivered him to the man he thought was his enemy.

This was a very sad day for Saul. Not only did he finally realize his pursuit of David was evil, but it was clearly revealed the Lord was no longer with him; He was with David. He had delivered Saul up to David; when He had never delivered David into his hands.

In this life, there is no relationship greater than our relationship with the Lord. No matter how many friends we have or how many family members love us, if God has turned from us, our lives are empty. We have nothing, if we do not have the Lord. Remember, God loves us, but if we willfully turn from Him, He will turn from us. Only true repentance can restore our relationship with the Lord.

The man who has lost contact with God lives on the same dead-end street as the man who denies Him.
~Milton Marcy~

Character Building

So it was, when David had finished speaking these words to Saul, that Saul said, “Is this your voice, my son David?” And Saul lifted up his voice and wept.

1 Samuel 24:16

While David was a very humble man, Saul was proving to be a hypocrite. He was a man of many faces, but there was no truth in the faces. They were all just masks. He was moved by his emotions for the moment, but his heart was not changed.

Again, when Saul was confronted with the truth, in love, he was contrite. He felt bad for pursuing David, but he would turn on David again, because he was no longer led by the spirit. He was being controlled by his flesh.

I do not think Saul was truly sorry. I think he was convicted for the moment, because David was so honest and loving with him, but there was no real repentance. When you are really sorry and really repent, your attitude and your life change; you are not the same.

When we read Samuel and look at the lives of David and Saul, we have to make some important decisions. David and Saul were very different men. The choices they made shaped their characters, just like the choices we make will shape us.

As we study the Scriptures and look at their lives, we have to decide who we want to be. Do we want to be obedient to the Lord, trusting Him to be our provision and defense, or do we want our own way, so we rebel against the Lord and treat people badly? God has given us these examples, so we can choose our character.

A man’s character is accurately measured
by his reaction to life’s inequities.
~Author Unknown~

God Defends

“After whom has the king of Israel come out? Whom do you pursue? A dead dog? A flea? Therefore let the Lord be judge, and judge between you and me, and see and plead my case, and deliver me out of your hand.”

1 Samuel 24:15

David was such a humble man and he was a great leader, because he knew how to talk to people. He treated everyone fairly. He did not attack Saul, call him names or curse him. He was respectful to the king, recognizing his position, as he was chosen by the Lord.

He not only respected Saul, but, more importantly, he respected the Lord. He turned Saul to the Lord and said, “Let’s allow God to decide what should happen to me.” He trusted the Lord to judge righteously, when man would not. He knew he had nothing against Saul, so God would defend him.

This is something Pastor Chuck believed and taught all of us. He would not defend himself when people made accusations. He knew the Lord would be his defense, and he could not defend himself better than the Lord. He learned this from David. He took God’s Word and the lessons He has for us and he put it into practice for his life.

We do not have to follow David’s example. We can try and defend ourselves, but if we choose to defend ourselves, God will step aside and let us. He will leave us to try and defend ourselves, but we will not be able to do what God can do. No matter what people say, we want God on our side, defending us, because only He can truly change hearts and minds.

God loves to smile upon His peoples
when the world frowns most.
~Thomas Brooks~

Mother’s Day

Then the woman whose son was living spoke to the king, for she yearned with compassion for her son; and she said, “O my lord, give her the living child, and by no means kill him!” But the other said, “Let him be neither mine nor yours, but divide him.”

1 Kings 3:26

Every year, we set aside this day to celebrate mothers. On Mother’s Day, we take our mothers out to lunch or dinner, buy them gifts and tell them how wonderful they are. Honestly, I think we should do these things every day, as there is no love like a mother’s love for her child or children.

In the Book of 1 Kings, we see a story of a mother’s true love and compassion for her child. It is this great love which revealed the truth to King Solomon. He understood and recognized the real love of a mother.

In Chapter 3, two women went to Solomon with one child, both claiming the child as their own. They had both given birth very close together, but in the night, one of the mothers had rolled onto her baby, smothering him.

In the morning, the first woman woke and found the baby dead, but recognized he was not her child. The other woman had switched babies in the night, so the women went to Solomon to decide who the baby belonged to.

Solomon said, “Cut the baby in two and give half to each of the women.” Their responses revealed the truth. The real mother was willing to give up her child to another, just so he could live. The sacrificial love of a mother is so great, and gives us a small glimpse of God’s love for us.

God’s love is free love, having no motive or foundation
but within itself.
~Thomas Brooks~

Wicked Hearts

“Let the Lord judge between you and me, and let the Lord avenge me on you. But my hand shall not be against you. As the proverb of the ancients says, ‘Wickedness proceeds from the wicked.’ But my hand shall not be against you.”

1 Samuel 24:12-13

David had the opportunity to kill Saul in the cave, but he did not do it. Instead, he cut off the corner of Saul’s robe, as proof God had delivered him into David’s hands, but he did not go against Saul. Once Saul left the cave, David followed, to try and reason with Saul, because he was an innocent man. Maybe, he could convince Saul to stop pursuing him.

With great love and respect, David pointed out his innocence to Saul, even showing Saul, he was the one sinning against God, by trying to take the life of an innocent man. Even with proof the Lord had delivered Saul into his hands, David said he would not come against Saul. He would leave his defense in the hands of the Lord.

Why would David leave it in God’s hands? He used the words from the proverb of the ancients: ‘Wickedness proceeds from the wicked.’ That is so cool. David would not do something wicked, because he was not a wicked man. Does that mean Saul was wicked, as he sought to kill an innocent man? Isn’t that wickedness?

We need to examine our own lives and the motives we have. Do we love people or do we seek them harm? According to the proverb, if we seek to do wicked things, we are wicked people. Wow! Think about this statement. This is God’s Word and He knows our motives and intent.

The seeds of every wickedness lie hidden in our hearts. They only need the convenient season to spring forth into a mischievous vitality
~J. C. Ryle~

Motives for Actions

“Moreover, my father, see! Yes, see the corner of your robe in my hand! For in that I cut off the corner of your robe, and did not kill you, know and see that there is neither evil nor rebellion in my hand, and I have not sinned against you.Yet you hunt my life to take it.”

1 Samuel 24:11

Notice the great respect David showed Saul. He got close enough to Saul to cut off the corner of his robe, and he could have mocked Saul for allowing him to get so close. Instead, David spoke to Saul in kindness, even calling him my father.

Once he got Saul’s attention and spoke kindly to him, he brought up Saul’s accusation against him. Saul had to recognize David did not have evil intentions or rebellion against him, when he saw the corner of his robe. If David had evil intent, Saul would be dead and they would not be speaking.

Then, David pointed out Saul’s actions. While David had not sinned against Saul, Saul had sinned against David. He hunted David to take his life. David was an innocent man, but Saul wanted to kill him for his own gain. He did not want to lose the throne to David.

I think we all have to look at our actions and weigh them against our intentions—our motives. When we come against someone, what is our motive? Are we seeking to serve the Lord or serve ourselves? David would have been justified defending himself against Saul, but Saul was not justified in his actions against David, and God knew the motives of his heart. Listen, God knows the motives of our hearts.

Devotion to God is the only acceptable motive for actions that are pleasing to God.
~Jerry Bridges~

National Day of Prayer

Yet regard the prayer of Your servant and his supplication, O Lord my God, and listen to the cry and the prayer which Your servant is praying before You today:

1 Kings 8:28

Today is the 64th annual National Day of Prayer, and the title for the 2015 event is Lord, Hear Our Cry. Think about what it means. Our prayers are not just words. They are a cry of the heart.

In this verse, the children of Israel had finished the Temple of the Lord and were dedicating it to Him. These words come from Solomon’s prayer to the Lord, as he cried out to the Lord on behalf of the people.

In the next chapter, the children of Israel received their answer: And the Lord said to him: “I have heard your prayer and your supplication that you have made before Me; …” (1 Kings 9:3). Because the people had sincere hearts before Him, God heard their prayer and consecrated the house they built for Him.

That is the key—sincere hearts. God wants us to come before Him in humility, with a poor and contrite heart (Isaiah 66:2). As we look at the world today, we are humbled and contrite. Our hearts should be broken over the tragedies we see and hear on the news.

God is waiting for His people to come before Him, crying, “Lord hear our cry,” and He will reach out in His great love, grace and mercy to our nation and to our world. Do not look at the world in despair; understand and hold onto the love and mercy of the Lord. Cry out to Him, today!

Only that prayer which comes from our heart
can get to God’s heart.
~C. H. Spurgeon~

Peace of God

“Look, this day your eyes have seen that the Lord delivered you today into my hand in the cave, and someone urged me to kill you. But my eye spared you, and I said,‘I will not stretch out my hand against my lord,for he is the Lord’s anointed.’”

1 Samuel 24:10

Again, we see the humility of David, as he speaks to Saul. He recognized the Lord’s hand in the situation. God had delivered Saul into David’s hands, but he did not kill Saul, even though his men urged him to kill Saul.

It is good for David to recognize it was the Lord who brought them together in the cave, because there was no way it was a coincidence. God delivered Saul to David, but it was not God’s intention for David to kill Saul. God wanted to see the heart of David.

God does the same thing to us. He puts us in situations where He wants to reveal our hearts, not to Him, but to us. God knows our hearts; He knows what we are going to do, but He wants us to see our hearts.

No one would have blamed David if he killed Saul, but David did not have peace in his heart. He knew God had raised Saul up to be king of Israel and He would take Saul down in His time, not David’s time. That is why David did not have peace, because he knew the heart of God.

This is a lesson for each one of us. Sometimes, it seems the door is open for a new job, a new house or something different but if you pray and the Lord does not give you peace in your heart, it is not His will. Learn this lesson from David.

God is able to give us peace when our lives
are going to pieces.
~James F. Lewis~

Character

David also arose afterward, went out of the cave, and called out to Saul, saying, “My lord the king!” And when Saul looked behind him, David stooped with his face to the earth, and bowed down. And David said to Saul: “Why do you listen to the words of men who say,‘Indeed David seeks your harm’?”

1 Samuel 24:8-9

Can you believe David bowed down to Saul? What does that tell you? He was a man of humility! In humility, he bowed down to Saul, as soon as he went outside. Make sure you understand what David was showing by his actions. David was never seeking harm. Saul claimed David sought to kill him, but it was a lie from the pit of hell.

This is a big problem, because many times in groups, people get together with their closest friends and start gossiping. They start damaging a person’s character, because people believe the lie. What they are doing is defaming a person’s character, and they may not even know the person.

Notice the difference between David and Saul. David calls Saul the Lord’s anointed and tells his people to leave him alone, not to come against him. Saul told his men lies about David, in order to get them to kill David.

David would have been justified in killing Saul, because Saul meant him harm and was not going to stop pursuing him. Saul and his men would have been guilty of murder if they killed David, for he was an innocent man. We really have to think about our character—who we are and who we want to be: David or Saul.

Nearly all men can stand adversity, but if you want to test a man’s character, give him power.
~Abraham Lincoln~

Godly Example

So David restrained his servants with these words, and did not allow them to rise against Saul. And Saul got up from the cave and went on his way.

1 Samuel 24:7

We know David was a good leader, but in this verse, we see the proof of his leadership. We see the respect his men had for him. With words, he was able to restrain the men with him. He did not have to threaten or use force. They respected his relationship with the Lord.

We not only see David’s leadership in speaking with his men, but he was a great example to them. He could have ordered any one of them to kill Saul, and do the dirty work, but he was being an example to his men. He was teaching them to respect the leaders God raised up.

We all learn by example, more than just by words. If we are not examples, then people are not going to learn anything good but everything evil. This is an important lesson, not just for leaders but for parents. Kids copy their parents; they mimic their moms and dads.

Most often, you become just like your own flesh and blood, and it happens all the time. I copied my dad, taking on his violence and anger, even though I was not a drinker. Then I was abusive to my wife, after watching my dad beat up on my mom.

We have to be good examples to the people around us, so we do not cause them to act with evil intent. Some people may still do bad things, but we will not be responsible. We will be the godly example to others.

The world takes its notions of God from the people who say they belong to Gods’ family.
~Alexander Maclaren~

Mercy & Love

And he said to his men, “The Lord forbid that I should do this thing to my master, the Lord’s anointed, to stretch out my hand against him, seeing he is the anointed of the Lord.”

1 Samuel 24:6

Look what he called Saul, “The Lord’s anointed.” Underline that; it is the second time he called Saul “the Lord’s anointed.” David recognized the anointing of God upon Saul; God had chosen Saul to be the king, even though Saul had sinned and had so much hate for David; He had still been chosen by the Lord.

David loved Saul and served him. He still loved Saul; even though he was constantly pursuing him, trying to kill him. He had mercy on Saul; no one would have blamed him if he killed Saul, but still he had mercy. Listen; if you do not have mercy for a person, it is going to come back to you fully and completely.

David could have killed Saul many times, but he did not. He recognized God’s hand upon him. God may have anointed David too, but He had not taken Saul down. Pay attention; God had not taken Saul off the throne. David recognized it was up to the Lord to take Saul down.

Think about how many times people speak about God’s leaders. They are God’s anointed. If David dared not to speak against God’s anointed, why should we speak against God’s anointed? We might not like something about them; we might not get along with them, but all we can really do is pray for them. I would pray you would pray for me. It is not easy to love and have mercy for people, yet, it is what God has asked of us.

If God should have no more mercy on us, than we have charity one to another, what would become of us?
~Thomas Fuller~

Love Not Hate

Now it happened afterward that David’s heart troubled him because he had cut Saul’s robe.

1 Samuel 24:5

WOW! David’s men had encouraged him to kill Saul, but all he did was cut a piece off of Saul’s robe. Now, that small act against Saul caused David to have trouble in his heart. I think he showed great restraint, but he felt bad about it.

Who do you think caused David’s heart to be troubled? Did he have a guilty conscience? No, it was the work of the Holy Spirit. God spoke to his heart, and he was troubled.

When God speaks to our hearts by the Holy Spirit, many times we do not listen. God gave you a will, and He gives you the freedom, to say yes or no; to make a choice. He will never, ever force you. That is why so many people, both in the church and outside the church, cannot get their lives together. They make the wrong choices and listen to their consciences instead of God.

If you want to serve God, you better listen to God’s voice. David felt so bad, because he had cut the corner, notice, of Saul’s robe, imagine that; the opportunity for revenge. David’s gracefulness; David’s heart for God; deep inside of David’s heart, he did not hate Saul; Saul hated him.

I wonder how many of us would take a step back, like David, and not give hate a chance to take root in our hearts. David loved the Lord and he loved Saul. He did not allow Saul’s hate for him to cause him to hate in return.

I will not permit any man to narrow and degrade my soul
by making me hate him.
~Booker T. Washington~

Love Your Enemies

Then the men of David said to him, “This is the day of which the Lord said to you, ‘Behold, I will deliver your enemy into your hand, that you may do to him as it seems good to you.’” And David arose and secretly cut off a corner of Saul’s robe.

1 Samuel 24:4

David’s men praised the Lord when they saw Saul enter the cave. They thought God had delivered Saul into their hands. They were not just happy for David. They were happy because they would no longer have to run, so they encouraged him, “David, this is your chance. Take his head off. You can kill him now.”

Think of how many times you have had the opportunity to take down an enemy—the chance to kill their character and get rid of your enemy. It looks like God has opened the door for you to avenge yourself. I have had the opportunity many, many times!

This is what happened to Saul. David had the opportunity to kill Saul and his men were behind him. They would have stood by him, but David only cut off the corner of Saul’s robe, and Saul did not even know it. He did not even know he was in danger, from the man he called his enemy.

Now listen carefully, David had every right to kill Saul, to get rid of him. He was anointed king and Saul was trying to kill him. He could have claimed self-defense, but he did not. He had mercy. He waited on the Lord. He did not kill a man from behind, like a coward.

We all have enemies, but we have not been called to avenge ourselves. We have been called to love our enemies, not strike them from behind.

The only people with whom you should try to get even are those who have helped you.
~John E. Southard~

Let God Lead

So he came to the sheepfolds by the road, where there was a cave; and Saul went in to attend to his needs. (David and his men were staying in the recesses of the cave.)

1 Samuel 24:3

The wilderness of En Gedi is filled with caves. This is one of the reasons it was a great place for David and his men to hide. A sheepfold in En Gedi was a cave large enough to contain a herd of sheep. In bad weather, you could bring your sheep into the cave and protect them. A sheepfold cave would have been big enough for David and his six-hundred men to hide.

With all the caves in En Gedi, Saul chose the cave David was hiding in to attend to his needs. Because he was relieving himself, he would have entered the cave alone. It was not a coincidence that Saul went into the same cave with David, and he was alone, unguarded.

There are no coincidences, only God’s plans and purposes. Just as God protected David from Saul, by bringing the Philistines against Israel, He brought Saul and David together in the same cave. It would seem God had delivered Saul up to be killed by David.

We have to recognize, God was not just moving Saul into the cave, but He had led David and his men to this spot. He was bringing all the people together to accomplish His plans and purpose. We can assume God was going to have David kill Saul right now, but God has not revealed it yet.

We have to be careful not to get ahead of God, or assume something He does not intend. We have to wait on the Lord to see where He is leading and then move forward, but not before.

God watches and weeds us, and continues His labor upon us, till He brings us to the end of His promise.
~Richard Sibbes~

God’s Power

Then Saul took three thousand chosen men from all Israel, and went to seek David and his men on the Rocks of the Wild Goats.

1 Samuel 24:2

Do you think Saul meant business? He took three-thousand chosen warriors from Israel to get one man, David, and his six hundred outcast men. Think about it. Saul took an elite army to fight against David and a group of men who may or may not had ever seen a battle. It seems as if Saul feared David greatly.

The truth was Saul feared the Lord. Saul brought three-thousand men against David, because he recognized the hand of God upon David. He was not fighting David and his men. He was fighting against the Lord. He would not accept God’s judgment against him.

Listen, you need to learn from Saul. No matter how many people you have backing you up, you cannot win a fight against God. No matter how many times you come against Him, you cannot change God’s judgment. Saul was fighting so hard to hold onto the throne, he lost sight of the power of God.

God has a plan for each of our lives. If we walk according to His plan, we will be blessed. If we are obedient to the Word of God, He will protect and provide for us. If we choose to rebel against God and seek our own way, God will allow us to do whatever we want, but He will not bless, protect or provide. He will definitely stop you from coming against someone He has lifted up. Keep your eyes on the Lord and the plan He has for you, and you will be blessed beyond anything you can imagine.

The power of God is identified with His will; what He cannot do is what He will not do.
~Tertullian~

The Vigilant Enemy

Now it happened, when Saul had returned from following the Philistines, that it was told him, saying, “Take note! David is in the Wilderness of En Gedi.”

1 Samuel 24:1.

In Chapter 23, God sent the Philistines against Israel to draw Saul away from David, so Saul stopped pursuing David and fought against the Philistines. During this time, David and his men went to En Gedi for a time of rest.

Once Saul got things in hand with the Philistines, he returned to pursuing David. There was no more rest for David and his men. They had to be ready to run from Saul again. They had their time of refreshing and it was time to be on guard again.

We have a very important lesson here. God provided a short time of rest for David, but it was not supposed to be forever. David was not on vacation forever. His enemy was coming for him again.

It is the same for all of us. God delivers us from one trial, but the peace does not last forever, because the enemy is out there. Think about it. Peter said: Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour (1 Peter 5:8).

The enemy does not take a break from pursuing God’s people. God will provide a time of rest and refreshing, but the enemy is still pursuing. That is why our faith and trust must be in the Lord. We will not survive the battles if we try to fight in our own strength. Only God can save and preserve us from the enemy.

Faith does the same against the devil
as unbelief does against God.
~John Bunyan~

Place of Refreshing

Therefore Saul returned from pursuing David, and went against the Philistines; so they called that place the Rock of Escape. Then David went up from there and dwelt in strongholds at En Gedi.

1 Samuel 23:28

When the Lord sent the Philistines to attack Israel and make Saul stop chasing David, He provided a way of escape for David and his men. David knew the Lord. He had a very close relationship with Him and he recognized the hand of God in his life. He knew God provided the opportunity. It was no coincidence.

David did not take for granted the work of God in his life. He did not take for granted God’s provision of safety. In recognition of what God did, they set up a memorial to the work of the Lord and called it the Rock of Escape.

From there, they went up to En Gedi. It is an amazing place for God to give David a timely retreat from Saul. For me it is a place of refreshment. If you look at a map, Masada is south of En Gedi, the Dead Sea to the east, with Jordan across the sea, which was Moab. Masada is desert, nothing lives in the Dead Sea and across the sea was an enemy of Israel. In the middle is En Gedi, with beautiful waterfalls and wild goats.

En Gedi represents a time of assurance; a place where God has called me; and nobody can touch me unless God allows it. What about you today? Do you need to go to En Gedi and be refreshed? In the middle of your trial, God will provide a place of refreshing for you, just as He did for David.

There are no days when God’s fountain does not flow.
~Richard Owen Roberts~

No Pain, No Gain

But a messenger came to Saul, saying, “Hurry and come, for the Philistines have invaded the land!”

1 Samuel 23:27

While Saul was pursuing David, the Philistines came and invaded Israel, so Saul had to stop chasing after David and take care of the people of Israel. He had to stop the attack from the Philistines.

Was the attack of the Philistines at this time a coincidence? I do not think so. I can see the hand of God, providing this emergency, so Saul would have to stop chasing David.

It was not because God could not protect David without removing Saul. This was God’s provision of rest for David. David had to be on the run as long as Saul pursued. God protected him by keeping him a step ahead of Saul. When God set the Philistines in motion, He knew Saul would have to stop, and then David and his men could take a break.

Many times, God provides these breaks for us. We may be in the middle of a great trial, and we wonder why God is not taking it away. I am sure David wondered why God did not remove Saul permanently. God gives us rest, without removing us from a situation, because we still have something to learn.

During this trial in David’ life, God was teaching and training him. He was getting David ready to lead His people according to His will. Saul never learned to trust in the Lord, because he had things too easy. In the midst of trials, we truly learn where we have placed our hope and faith. If it is in anything other than Christ, we will fail, just like Saul.

No pain, no palm; no thorns, no throne; no gall no glory; no cross, no crown.
~William Penn~

Faith in God’s Protection

When Saul and his men went to seek him, they told David. Therefore he went down to the rock, and stayed in the Wilderness of Maon. And when Saul heard that, he pursued David in the Wilderness of Maon. Then Saul went on one side of the mountain, and David and his men on the other side of the mountain. So David made haste to get away from Saul, for Saul and his men were encircling David and his men to take them.

1 Samuel 23:25-26

I like these verses, because they reveal the difference between trusting in man and trusting in the Lord. Saul had spies everywhere. No matter where David and his men went, there was always someone willing to sell him out—someone running to Saul with his location.

David and his men were moving from place to place, because they would hear about Saul coming and would leave. While men sought to kill David, God always made sure David heard about Saul’s plan of attack in advance. Saul depended on men to decide where to go to find David, but David trusted in the Lord.

At this point, David and Saul were on the same mountain, but God protected David, and Saul did not find him and his men. That is what happens when God is on your side. That is what happens when you submit your life to the Lord and trust Him, fully and completely.

In our lives, we are all going to face enemies. There will be people who do not like us at school, at work and even socially. We cannot and should not defend ourselves. God will do it for us. We have to trust in Him.

We persevere through faith and never apart from it.
~Sinclair Ferguson~

Character Revealed

“See therefore, and take knowledge of all the lurking places where he hides; and come back to me with certainty, and I will go with you. And it shall be,if he is in the land, that I will search for him throughout all the clans of Judah.”

1 Samuel 23:23

In 1 Samuel 23:22, Saul called David crafty. Merriam Webster defines the word crafty as, “clever in usually a deceptive or dishonest way.” Saul accused David of being dishonest in order to get his own way, yet, it is Saul who was acting crafty in his pursuit of David.

The reason I say Saul was dishonest is because he knew the Lord had departed from him. He knew he had disobeyed the Lord and lied to the prophet Samuel. Most importantly, he knew he was pursuing an innocent man. David had been very faithful to Saul. He did not deserve Saul’s treatment of him.

The way we treat people will reveal our character much more than the words we say. The old saying, “Actions speak louder than words,” is so true. We can tell people we have integrity, and we love the Lord and others, but our actions will reveal the truth, to both the believer and the non-believer.

John the Beloved wrote: If someone says, “I love God,” and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen, how can he love God whom he has not seen? People will know you love God and follow Jesus, when they see your love for others.

Behavior is a mirror in which everyone displays
his own image.
~Johann Wolfgang von Goethe~

Spiritual Discernment

And Saul said, “Blessed are you of the Lord, for you have compassion on me. Please go and find out for sure, and see the place where his hideout is, and who has seen him there. For I am told he is very crafty.”

1 Samuel 23:21-22

The hypocrisy of Saul is so great! Look at what he said; “Blessed are you of the Lord,…” He was so blind to the truth. He was so far from the Lord, and he was leading his people and others away from the Lord. He acted like he was a spiritual man, but he was carnal. He was looking out for himself. He did not love the people. He did not love his son. He loved only himself.

He was even more deceitful when he said: “…for you have compassion on me.” Why did Saul need compassion? Was he living in fear of David? Was David trying to kill him? No, he was chasing David. He was trying to kill David, and he had no reason. He was only doing it to stay on the throne. He was a carnal man, trying to act like a spiritual man.

The biggest problem here was Saul causing others to sin. His deception was causing people to come against David—God’s anointed. He was causing people to come against the Lord. Instead of leading them to the Lord, he was leading them to hell, while he pretended to be so godly.

Listen; there are people in the church today who are leading people to hell. They cause division and strife and they do it all in the name of the Lord. Do not be deceived by these carnal people. You need to pray for God to give you spiritual discernment, so you will not be deceived.

Wisdom must be from God, because it can be found
only in relation to Him.
~Edmund P. Clowney~

Focus on the Faithful

Then the Ziphites came up to Saul at Gibeah, saying, “Is David not hiding with us in strongholds in the woods, in the hill of Hachilah, which is on the south of Jeshimon? Now therefore, O king, come down according to all the desire of your soul to come down; and our part shall be to deliver him into the king’s hand.”

1 Samuel 23:19-20

It seems the only person faithful to David was Jonathan. God loved him and protected him, but the only person who stood next to David without getting anything for himself was Jonathan. Everyone else either wanted something from David or betrayed him. Some betrayed him even after he saved them.

In Keilah, the people were willing to give David up when Saul asked for him. They were afraid of Saul and his army. Now, the Ziphites did not wait for Saul to inquire. They went to Saul and offered David up. They did not act in fear. They just betrayed David. I believe they thought God would bless them. They were spiritually blind.

When we walk with the Lord, we have to know, people are going to come against us. If the Lord wants to use your life greatly, people are going to be jealous and come against you. They want you to fail. They want to look better than you, so they need you to fall.

When this happens, remember two things: first, God will not bless them. He will not allow them to harm you. Second, God will bring a Jonathan into your life to encourage you. He will put people in your life who are faithful. Focus on the Lord; focus on the faithful.

It is impossible to be faithful to Jesus Christ and not incur the opposition of the world.
~William Still~

Faithful Friends

So the two of them made a covenant before the Lord. And David stayed in the woods, and Jonathan went to his own house.

1 Samuel 23:18

This was the last time David and Jonathan would see each other. Jonathan knew David would be king, and he wanted to serve alongside David. He wanted to help hold up his hands, but it would not happen. Jonathan would fall in battle and never see his friend again.
Before parting, they renewed the covenant they had made before the Lord, in 1 Samuel 18:3. They determined before the Lord to be faithful to one another and not betray each other. In 1 Samuel 20:16, we see their faithfulness extended to their children, it says to the house of David. No matter what happened, David would not come against Jonathan’s children and Jonathan would not betray David’s family.
This is true friendship before the Lord. They would not allow gossip, envy, strife or other people to cause them to betray each other. They made a covenant before the Lord. God was witness to their word.
It may seem Jonathan was betraying his father, because he was loyal to David but that is not the case. Jonathan chose God over his father. He was faithful to the Lord and His anointed. Jonathan loved his father, but he could not go against the Lord for him. I think Saul’s actions grieved him.
The people we align ourselves with will reveal whether we are loyal to the Lord or loyal to the world. We can love family and friends, but God has to be first in our lives. He alone deserves our faithfulness—no one else.
Christians do not have to live; they have only to be
faithful to Jesus Christ.
~Vance Havner~

Encouraged by 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. Even my fatherSaul knows that.”

1 Samuel 23:17

This is an amazing statement from Jonathan. He was the next in line to be king, but he was willing to serve under David. He was willing to be second instead of first. Why would he say this? Why would he step down from the throne? He was faithful to the Lord. He believed the Word of God.
He was able to encourage David, because it was God who said David was going to be the king. He knew it would not be him, because he had a relationship with the Lord and he believed in God’s anointing on David. He saw the anointing of God in David’s life.
Do people see the anointing in your life? Seriously. You do not have to fight with people; you just have to stand on the Word. If God anointed you, if God called you, then you have nothing to worry about.
That is what Jonathan was telling David, and that is what this verse is telling us today. If God anoints you, you do not have to fear people. They cannot change the plans of God. They cannot defeat you, unless God allows it.
Sometimes, like David, we need a friend to encourage us. We need to be reminded of God’s promises, but remember, they are only sharing God’s Word. The strength and encouragement is from the Lord, not man.
To know that nothing happens in God’s world apart from God’s will may frighten the godless,
but it stabilizes the saints.
~J. I. Packer~

Serve God Faithfully

So David saw that Saul had come out to seek his life. And David was in the Wilderness of Ziph in a forest. Then Jonathan, Saul’s son, arose and went to David in the woods and strengthened his hand in God.

1 Samuel 23:15-16

The life of Jonathan is a beautiful example to all of us. He was not a respecter of persons. He did not follow the crowd; he did not care what his father said; he put God first. I like that!

If your parents are wrong, why would you stand with them, if you are a Christian? Why would you stand with your brothers and sisters, when they are wrong, and they want to hurt God’s anointed?

Think about how many times this happens in churches. People come against the pastor, assistants, staff and leaders; they are not afraid of God. You cannot fight God. God defends His anointed.

I will stand with God’s anointed. If I am wrong, I will apologize, but I am not afraid of people, I am afraid of God, seriously, I am not afraid of people. I have the fear of the Lord, just like Jonathan.

He stood with David and stood with God. He also encouraged David. It says he went to David and strengthened his hand in God. That is so cool. Jonathan was a real friend—a real brother. He served God faithfully!

It is so important to remember, when you come against God’s anointed, you are coming against God. You become an enemy of God. That is a very scary place to be. Think about it.

Faithfulness to God is our first obligation in all that we are called to do in the service of the Gospel.
~Iain H. Murray~

Entirely in God’s Hands

So David and his men, about six hundred, arose and departed from Keilah and went wherever they could go. Then it was told Saul that David had escaped from Keilah; so he halted the expedition. And David stayed in strongholds in the wilderness, and remained in the mountains in the Wilderness of Ziph. Saul sought him every day, but God did not deliver him into his hand.

1 Samuel 23:13

There are a couple of things happening in these verses. First, I see God guiding David to a safe place to hide, in the Wilderness of Ziph, and second, Saul did not stop looking for David, even though the Lord would not deliver him into Saul’s hands.

Look where God hid David; the Wilderness of Ziph, which means “the Refining Place.” God was using this time to refine David for the plans He had for him. It was not a time of punishment for David but a time of refining—making him a better servant for the Lord.

God was not refining Saul. He was done trying to use Saul. He was set on the shelf, never to be used of the Lord again, so God allowed him to wander around looking for David. He was the king and should have been taking care of Israel, but instead he wandered.

Both things were entirely in God’s hands. God was in control of David’s life and He was in control of Saul’s life. He was blessing and protecting David and stopping the evil intentions of Saul. He was not cursing Saul’s life, but he was not blessing it. Is God blessing your life or allowing you to wander aimlessly? The answer will tell you where you are with God.

If the Lord will not suffer it, neither men nor devils can do it.
~C. H. Spurgeon~

Faith in God Alone

Then David said, “Will the men of Keilah deliver me and my men into the hand of Saul?” And the Lord said,“They will deliver you.”

1 Samuel 23:12

When the people of Keilah were threatened by the Philistines, they sent word to David, and he came and saved the city. Notice, they knew who they could count on, and they seemed to recognize the hand of God was on David, so you would think they would stand by him. He was a hero.

David had great wisdom. He did not assume the people would stand with him. When he heard Saul was coming with his army, he inquired of the Lord, asking, “Will the people of Keilah give me up?”

He did not trust in man. He trusted in the Lord, and his loyalty and faith in God was rewarded with truth. God revealed the true hearts of the people. They would give David over to Saul, even though Saul did not deliver them from the Philistines.

We have to realize, the hearts of men are easily moved. A man can be your friend today and an enemy tomorrow, but the Lord is steadfast and true. His love for us is eternal. No one can move Him from your side.

The only thing to separate us from the Father is our own sin. We turn from God, but He is ever faithful to us. A wise man or woman puts their faith and trust in God, not man. He will never let us down, because we do not have to earn His love and faithfulness. He has given it to us freely. All we have to do is trust in Him alone.

To trust in matters of things unseen is not a matter of blind faith. It is not credulity. It is a reasonable faith.
~R. C. Sproul~

War Against God

Then David said, “O Lord God of Israel, Your servant has certainly heard that Saul seeks to come to Keilah to destroy the city for my sake. Will the men of Keilah deliver me into his hand? Will Saul come down, as Your servant has heard? O Lord God of Israel, I pray, tell Your servant.” And the Lord said, “He will come down.”

1 Samuel 23:10-11

David inquired of the Lord. He asked if Saul was going to come down and whether the people of Keilah would stand with him or give him over to Saul. He did not listen to the rumors and react out of fear. He sought the wisdom of the Lord. He trusted in the wisdom of the Lord.

God revealed the truth to David. Saul was going to come down to get him, and he was coming with an army. The king of Israel was bringing an army against one man. That is how great his fear of David was. He would not face David alone, but brought an army.

I think the real truth was Saul recognized the power and strength behind David. He knew David was a threat, and he knew God was no longer with him. Clearly, the hand of God was upon David, and He was blessing and protecting David. Still, he brought an army against the Lord’s anointed.

The point is this; Saul gathered the people of God to come against God. Wow! That is just crazy. Would you allow yourself to be led in a war against the Lord? We make the choice to stand with God or against Him all the time. With our vote, we either support moral or immoral issues. We either vote in godly men and women or the ungodly. Think about it.

To do what others do when, deep down one knows it is wrong is moral cowardice, which does not lessen guilt but increases it.
~J. I. Packer~

Holocaust Remembrance Day

For thus says the Lord: “Sing with gladness for Jacob, and shout among the chief of the nations; proclaim, give praise, and say, ‘O Lord, save Your people,the remnant of Israel!’

Jeremiah 31:7

As I look at the world today, I fear people have truly forgotten the atrocity of the Holocaust. As I watch the news, I see and hear people speaking against Israel for defending themselves. I see reports of Jewish people being persecuted around the world, and many fleeing their countries and returning to Israel, because they cannot be protected in their countries.
From all this, I know people have forgotten the Holocaust. They have forgotten the lies and hate that fueled the death of six million Jewish people.
This is the reason we must take the time this day to remember the Holocaust, to remember the men, women and children who were murdered, simply because they were God’s chosen people. They were not guilty of any crime. They were living their lives and worshipping God, but Hitler feared them and wanted them destroyed, so he told lies.
Do not believe the lies you hear today, Israel is not our enemy. They are our only friends in the Middle East. They are God’s chosen people, and, no matter what the world believes, God will always be with His people. He will always save His people. We have to decide if we will stand with God and His people or with the world and those who still seek to annihilate the Jewish people. You are either with God or against Him, there is no neutral ground.
The question shouldn't be, "Why are you, a Christian, here in a death camp, condemned for trying to save Jews?’ The real question is, "Why aren't all the Christians here?”
~Joel C. Rosenberg~

Seek the Lord in Prayer

Then Saul called all the people together for war, to go down to Keilah to besiege David and his men. When David knew that Saul plotted evil against him, he said to Abiathar the priest, “Bring the ephod here.”

1 Samuel 23:8-9

Notice, when Saul heard David was in Keilah, he called the people together to go to war against David, one man. He did not go to war against the Philistines to save Keilah, but he gathered the people together to make war against David. Never did he seek the will of God—never.

On the other hand, David sought the Lord and trusted Him to deliver him and his men against the Philistines and save Keilah. David heard Saul was plotting evil against him and he sought the Lord. David was trusting in the Lord; he was seeking the Lord. David acknowledged the Lord as a true, sovereign God; Savior of the people.

This is the difference between David and Saul and this is the difference that brought victory and defeat. David had victory because he trusted fully in the Lord. He had victory, because he only did what the Lord told him to do. He did not go to war and hope God would protect him. He only went out when God directed him to go out.

Saul was defeated before he even left for war, because he was going out against the will of the Lord. He was moving in opposition to God. He was not only going to war against David but against the Lord.

Look at these two men and their lives. Do you seek victory or defeat? When you seek the Lord, He will lift you up and protect you.

Prayer puts God’s work in His hands and keeps it there.
~E. M. Bounds~

Far From God

And Saul was told that David had gone to Keilah. So Saul said, “God has delivered him into my hand,for he has shut himself in by enteringa town that has gates and bars.”

1 Samuel 23:7

Yesterday, we saw the spiritual discernment of Abiathar the priest and David. In this verse, we can clearly see how Saul was not connected to God; he was connected to himself. He said God had delivered David to him, but he had no idea what God was planning. He did not seek the Lord. He did not hear from God.

Saul needed to wake up; he was going to his own death. God had protected David; He had already departed from Saul and anointed David king of Israel. It was a done deal, but Saul did not get it.

We all know people like Saul. They know all the right Christian lingo. They know when to say, “Praise the Lord,” “Amen” and “Hallelujah.” They say all the right things but their hearts are not right with the Lord. Like Saul, they are far from the Lord. Some people do not get it.

It is important to recognize; we can fool people but we can never fool God. He will never think a person is one of His just because they go to church and say, “Praise the Lord.” God sees the hearts and minds of people. God knows His children.

The saddest thing in this verse is Saul’s self-deception. I think he really believed he was right with God. Do not deceive yourself. Make sure your walk with the Lord is real, not fake, because God knows.

A man may have the tongue of an angel and the heart of a devil.
~John Flavel~

Spiritual Discernment

Now it happened, when Abiathar the son of Ahimelech fled to David at Keilah, that he went downwith an ephod in his hand.

1 Samuel 23:6

Abiathar the priest of Israel fled from Saul to David. This is so important, because it reveals the spiritual condition of Saul. When Abiathar fled to David, he brought an ephod with him. The priest wore the ephod when he inquired of the Lord.

Based on this verse, the priest of Israel ran from Saul, the king of Israel, and he took the priestly garments with him. He had the spiritual discernment to know who was walking with the Lord. He recognized the anointing of the Lord had departed from Saul and God was using David.

Not only had the anointing of the Lord departed from Saul, but Saul had departed from the Lord. He was not seeking the Lord. He was not asking God whether he should pursue David. He was not interested in what God wanted to do. He only wanted to save his position as king of Israel. The plans of God were not important to him.

David had spiritual discernment and Abiathar had spiritual discernment, but Saul was spiritually blind. He did not recognize the things of God.

God will give each one of us spiritual discernment, if we seek Him and walk closely to Him. When we submit our lives to Him and deny our flesh, our spirits will be open to hear from the Lord, as we seek Him through His Word.

A blind eye is worse than a lame foot.
~Thomas Watson~

God’s Promises

And David and his men went to Keilah and fought with the Philistines, struck them with a mighty blow,and took away their livestock. So David savedthe inhabitants of Keilah.

1 Samuel 23:5

I love this verse. Look at what it reveals. God is faithful to do what He promises. He told David to go down and He would deliver the Philistines into his hands, and He did exactly what He promised. God said He would do it and He did it.

The promises of God are a guarantee. As you read through the Bible, you will find the promises of God all throughout the books. As a Christian, you can take those promises and put your name there and know with certainty, God will do exactly what He promised.

This is the reason we can put our faith and trust in the Lord fully. God never goes back on His Word. He never gives us a promise and then changes His mind. He is not like man. He stands upon His Word and fulfills His promises.

That is the great hope and trust we have in Him. God promised a Savior for His people, and even though they did not deserve a Savior and we do not deserve a Savior, God gave His Son, because He fulfills His promises. Just as God promised to deliver David, He will be with us, simply because He loves us. In His great love for you and for me, God makes promises and He fulfills them, because He is faithful.

Learn to put your hand on all spiritual blessings in Christ
and say, “Mine.”
~F. B. Meyer~

Give God Control

Then David inquired of the Lord once again. And the Lord answered him and said, “Arise, go down to Keilah. For I will deliver the Philistines into your hand.”

1 Samuel 23:4

Look at David’s prayer life. His men were worried about the Philistine army, so David listened to their concern and went back to the Lord. He did not ignore their worry, but went back to the Lord, so they would trust in God. Before David did anything, he went before God. I am glad they wrote once again because it tells you he did it often.

Notice the command, “Get up and go down for I, God, will deliver the Philistines into your hands.” God told him he was not going to do it; his men were not going to do it; God was going to do it. God wants the glory; God wants the honor. It is not what you do but what He does.

Go back in your mind and think about what God has done and is still doing in your life. I write down notes in my Bible and in notebooks, so my grandkids can have them one day. I write down what God has shown me through His Word; I write down my heart for them, so they see God in my life and in my heart. I want them to see my prayer life.

There is so much God wants to do in each one of our lives. He desires we come to Him in prayer and seek His will. He desires we put our faith and trust in Him fully, knowing He has our best interest at heart. Think of all you can accomplish through Him—through Him. Without the Lord, without His guidance and wisdom, we can do nothing; we will not accomplish anything. Just like David, God wants to work through our lives. Are we willing to give control over to God and trust in Him completely?

Faith rests on the naked Word of God;
that Word believed gives full assurance.
~H. A. Ironside~

Leader or Follower

But David’s men said to him, “Look, we are afraid here in Judah. How much more then if we go to Keilah against the armies of the Philistines?”

1 Samuel 23:3

Something caught my eye in this verse. The men were fearful of the enemy. They did not have the same relationship with the Lord as David. He was not afraid, because he trusted in the Lord.

I believe this is the reason God made David leader over the men. He wanted someone who would follow Him, and He knew those men needed a leader who was led by the Lord. They would never do the will of the Lord on their own, because they were controlled by their fear, not trusting in the Lord.

God wants to use our lives, and He wants to see what controls our lives. Are you moved by the voice of the people? Does fear stop you from doing something God has called you to do? Do you stand firmly upon the promises of God—trusting that what He says, He will do?

Those are some of the questions God wants you to answer in your lives. He already knows the answer, but He wants to reveal your heart to you. If you are not willing to fully trust in Him, He will give you a godly, fearless leader to guide you. If you are bold for the Lord, He will raise you up as a leader.

Listen, God is looking for leaders who will follow Him, who will be bold to stand with Him and submit to His will. Look at David’s life. That is the kind of leader God wants.

A leader has been defined as one who knows the way,
goes the way and shows the way.
~Author Unknown~

Submit & Trust

Therefore David inquired of the Lord, saying, “Shall I go and attack these Philistines?” And the Lord said to David, “Go and attack the Philistines, and save Keilah.”

1 Samuel 23:2

David inquired of the Lord. Should he go up against the Philistines who were attacking Keilah? God told him to go and save Keilah. The Philistines had a great army, and they were a pain in the side of David, but God was going to use David to defeat them.

David did not have a great army. He had about 400 men, and they were not all trained warriors, but God wanted him to take his men and go against the Philistine army. That was God’s command.

Now, David did not have to do it. He had a choice. He had free will. God gives us His will and He gives us the freedom of choice to see if we are truly obedient. God did not make him go, but He did tell David, “Go and save Keilah,” which means God was going to give him the victory.

God has commanded us through His Word. He has told us how He wants us to live our lives. He has also given us freewill. We have to choose the will of God. Do we really love Him? Do we really want to follow His principles? Do we want to follow His will? If we do not, we will learn quickly; we will miss out on God’s plan for our lives.

We have to read God’s Word and understand what He is telling us. He has so much for us, and He wants to bless us, but we have to be in the will of God. We have to trust the Lord with our entire lives. If we submit fully and completely to Him, He will blow our minds with the plans He has for us.

All life should be subject to the kingly rule of God.
~Martin Buber~

Centered in God’s Will

Therefore David inquired of the Lord, saying, “Shall I go and attack these Philistines?” And the Lord said to David, “Go and attack the Philistines, and save Keilah.”

1 Samuel 23:2

Once the people presented the problem to David, he sought the wisdom of the Lord. He did not run out after the Philistines. He ran after the Lord. We really see David’s total dependence was on God! David did the right thing. He sought the Lord. He did not just follow the cry of the people.

Just like David, we need to seek the Lord. We need to learn to seek the Lord, because the Bible says: “If you seek Me, you will find Me” (Jeremiah 29:13). It is important to note, sometimes people seek the Lord, but they cannot find Him. Why? Proverb 1:29 gives us the answer: Because they hated knowledge and did not choose the fear of the Lord. Sin will hinder our communication with the Lord.

Why did David inquire of the Lord? He wanted to get counsel. He wanted to do things according to God’s will, because he knew the blessing would come from walking with the Lord.

Do you get counsel from God or do you just do your own thing? The reason we get in trouble, the reason we are frustrated, is because we do not depend on God; we do not wait upon God’s counsel.

That is what David was doing—seeking the counsel of God. You do not want to get yourself in trouble in the battles of this life. If you go without the Lord, you will get defeated. David wanted to make sure he was in the center of the will of God. Stay centered in the will of God.

Inside the will of God there is no failure.
Outside the will of God there is no success.
~Bernard Edinger~

Second

Then they told David, saying, “Look, the Philistines are fighting against Keilah, and they are robbing the threshing floors.”

1 Samuel 23:1

I find this verse very interesting. The people came to David, because the Philistines were coming against Keilah. They did not go to King Saul. They went to David. The reason I find this interesting is because I believe the people were led by the Lord. They knew they could count on David, not Saul, who was their king.

At this time, Saul was still king, but the anointing of the Lord had departed from him. God had already sent Samuel to anoint David. God was no longer using Saul to guide His people. He was using David. No matter what Saul did to stay in power, God was done with him. He would no longer send Saul out to do His work.

This is an important point for all of us. We have to examine our lives to see if we have the anointing of the Lord. Are we trying to do things in our own power and wisdom or is God leading and guiding? If God’s hand is not upon you and the work you are doing, it will not succeed. It will not be blessed.

Maybe God has not anointed you to lead people; He still wants to use your life. He wants you to look for the anointing on someone’s forehead and serve alongside them. He wants to use you to lift up the arms of His leaders. God wants to use all of His people. We just have to be humble enough to accept a lower position and not always be the leader. You have to be willing to be second.

The less a person strives for himself,
the more God will be his champion.
~John Trapp~

Godspeed!

Then He said to them, “Thus it is written, and thus it was necessary for the Christ to suffer and to rise from the dead the third day, and that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in His name to all nations, beginning at Jerusalem.”

Luke 24:46-47

The angels at the tomb of Jesus told the women who came to prepare Jesus for burial: “He is not here, but is risen!” (Luke 24:6) This is the reason we celebrate today, for He has risen. Death and the grave could not contain Him. He not only defeated death for Himself, but for all who come to Him and accept Him as Savior. What an incredible gift He has given to us.

Look what He said to the two witnesses He encountered on the road to Emmaus, after He came out of the grave: “Thus it is written, and thus it was necessary for the Christ to suffer and to rise from the dead the third day, …”

The prophets and the writers of the Bible all told of the suffering Messiah. It was written in God’s Word, long before the birth of Christ. God promised a Messiah, who would bring salvation for His people, but it would not be easy. For our salvation, He would suffer greatly. That was the price for our souls—His suffering, His blood.

It is not enough for us to embrace and celebrate the free gift God has given to each one of us. He has also called us to preach salvation to all the nations. You have been given the gift of eternal life, now go and spread God’s good news throughout the earth! Godspeed!

The Cross was not a tragic failure;
it was a triumphant rescue.
~Vaughan Roberts~

Passover

Now the Lord spoke to Moses and Aaron in the land of Egypt, saying, “This month shall be your beginning of months; it shall be the first month of the year to you.

Exodus 12:1-2

The Lord told Moses and Aaron to mark this month as the first month of the year. This was the beginning for the children of Israel. God came to deliver His people out of the bondage of Egypt. It was a new beginning for them, as they would be led by God. They would be His people and He would be their God.

The Passover marks the beginning of God’s deliverance. God would go through the land of Egypt and strike dead the first born male, every man and animal. The only ones who would be spared were God’s people. They would put the blood of the lamb on the doorposts of their homes and the angel of the Lord would pass over their homes.

God heard the cries of His people and He delivered them from their enemies. He gave them a new beginning, a time to walk with Him, and He would be with them and go before them. He would be their protection and provision.

God knew this deliverance was only temporary. He knew the people cried out to be delivered from their sin. Just as the blood of the lamb was spread on the door posts to deliver the children of Israel from physical death, the blood of Jesus Christ was spilled at the Cross, delivering us from eternal destruction. God hears the cries of His people and in His faithfulness, He is our protection and provision, as we walk through this life with Him.

All the Christian’s rewards in heaven are his by the sovereign grace of a loving Father.
~John Blanchard~

Good Friday

So when Jesus had received the sour wine, He said, “It is finished!” And bowing His head, He gave up His spirit.

John 19:30

All of the Gospels tell of the crucifixion and death of Christ, but I really love what John wrote. I think he really understood who Christ was and what He was sent to accomplish in His life. In the midst of all that was happening and all that was said, just before Jesus died, He said, “It is finished.”

After saying this, He gave up His spirit. He died. It was finished. He had done what the Father had called Him to do. He came, gave the message of hope and salvation to the people, and then gave His life, as an innocent man, to save the souls of sinners—men and women who were heading to hell.

It is important to understand; at this time, everyone who died went to hell. No one went to heaven. We were separated from God because of sin. All the prophets and godly men and women in the Old Testament were in Abraham’s Bosom—a compartment in hell. They were not tormented, but they were not in heaven.

On this day, Christ died on the Cross and it was the beginning of the end for death. Isaiah the prophet wrote about Jesus when he said: He will swallow up death forever, … (Isaiah 25:8). Hosea 13:14 says: “I will ransom them from the power of the grave; I will redeem them from death. …” Jesus said it was finished, because He had done what God had promised. He had gone to the Cross to defeat death and the grave.

In the Cross, sin is cursed and cancelled. In the Cross, grace is victorious and available.
~G. Campbell Morgan~

Submitted to God

Pilate therefore said to Him, “Are You a king then?” Jesus answered, “You say rightly that I am a king. For this cause I was born, and for this cause I have come into the world, that I should bear witness to the truth. Everyone who is of the truth hears My voice.”

John 18:37

Jesus stood before Pilate in judgment. In Pilates’ mind, he was in control. He would decide the fate of Jesus. However, Jesus knew the truth. Pilate was not the one in control. He was just being used by the Father to accomplish His plan. Pilate was merely an instrument of God, used for the salvation of His people.

Notice, when Jesus was asked whether the accusations were true, He spoke in truth. He did not try to hide the truth. He did not try to defend Himself or explain the situation. He revealed God’s plan to Pilate.

Before He was taken, Jesus prayed to the Father, asking for a change in the plan. He was sad to the point of death. He did not want to suffer and die. He wanted to see if there could be another way, but submitted to the will of the Father.

Once He was taken, Jesus did not look back, or look for a way out. This was God’s plan, and He would see it through. He would reveal the love of God, as He endured the punishment of men, but those men were never the ones in charge. They were just instruments God used to accomplish His will. God has a plan for each one of us. We will experience trials and temptations along the way, but when His plan for us is accomplished we will be blessed beyond our imagination.

Whenever God is at work there is the inexplicable.
~Ralph R. Martin~

Heartbroken

Then He came the third time and said to them, “Are you still sleeping and resting? It is enough! The hour has come; behold, the Son of Man is being betrayed into the hands of sinners. Rise, let us be going. See, My betrayer is at hand.”

Mark 14:41-42

After Jesus prayed and submitted His will to the will of the Father, He went back to the sleeping Apostles to get them up. It was time. Everything He had been telling them would happen was at hand. There would be no more journeys, no more lessons, but there would be incredible miracles!

Many times, we look at the betrayal of Christ and focus on Judas Iscariot, because we cannot imagine how he could have walked with Jesus for three and a half years and then betray Him to the religious leaders. It is beyond everything we believe.

I want to look at Jesus during this terrible and yet inevitable event. This man he chose to walk with Him and be one of His closest friends betrayed Him. It was not a surprise. He knew Judas would betray Him, but even knowing it would happen, it had to hurt Him. It had to break His heart.

I think it broke His heart for two reasons. First, no one likes to be stabbed in the back by a friend. When someone you love betrays you, it leaves a deep wound. Second, Jesus knew how Judas’ betrayal would destroy him. I think He was more heartbroken for the loss of his soul than for the betrayal against Him.

In the midst of the greatest trial in His life, Jesus was heartbroken for His friend—for the lost soul. Does your heart break for lost souls?

If the soul be lost, the man is lost.
~John Flavel~

Through the Trials

Then He said to them, “My soul is exceedingly sorrowful, even to death. Stay here and watch.” And He said, “Abba, Father, all things are possible for You.Take this cup away from Me; nevertheless,not what I will, but what You will.”

Mark 14:34, 36

As Christ was getting closer to the Cross, the duality of His nature became more evident. We see the intimate nature of His relationship with the Father as He went before Him in prayer, but we also see His very real humanity, as He sought another way—something besides the Cross—something besides the suffering. That was the very human side of His nature.

When I read the Gospels and I come to this verse, it grieves my spirit. I cannot imagine the depths of His despair, as He came before God and asked for another way. He was sorrowful unto death! Can you imagine His emotions as He was praying to the Father?

Even through all His grief and sorrow, we still see His divinity, as He submitted His will to the Father’s. He went to the Cross with His eyes wide open and still He said He would do whatever the Father asked of Him.

There are so many times, we are going through trials and we pray the Lord would take us out of the situation. We ask to be delivered from sorrow, grief, pain, temptation, etc., but we forget He is with us through these things. That is what I see, as I walk with Christ through His last week. If we submit to the will of the Father, He will sustain us through the greatest trials, just as He was with Christ.

Days of trouble must be days of prayer.
~Matthew Henry~

Testing Jesus

Jesus answered and said to them, “Are you not therefore mistaken, because you do not know the Scriptures nor the power of God?”

Mark 12:24

Yesterday was Palm Sunday and the beginning of the Passion Week—the last week of Christ’s life on earth, before He was crucified, buried and resurrected. It was an incredible week of teaching by the Lord, knowing what waited for Him on Friday.

On this last week, the religious leaders constantly tested Him, trying to find a way to seize Him without making the people angry. They wanted the people to turn against Jesus, not them.

In this verse, Jesus was answering the questions of some Sadducees, who asked about a woman who married seven brothers, one after another, as they died. Even though they do not believe in the resurrection, they asked Jesus whose wife she would be in the resurrection.

Notice His response to the religious leaders. He told them they did not know the Scriptures or the power of God! They were the religious leaders! It was their responsibility to know the Scriptures, and in knowing them, they would know the power of God.

This was a serious accusation against them, and unfortunately, this charge could be made against many pastors and leaders today. They are twisting God’s Word to support their beliefs instead of learning the Scriptures and understanding God’s doctrine. Do not test the Lord or you may hear Him say this to you. Think about it.

Let us embrace the whole truth,
or renounce Christianity altogether.
~Joseph Irons~

Palm Sunday

Then the multitudes who went before and those who followed cried out, saying: “Hosanna to the Son of David! ‘Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord!’Hosanna in the highest!”

Matthew 21:9

Today, we enter the Passion Week, beginning with Palm Sunday, also known as the triumphal entry into Jerusalem. In just one week’s time, Jesus will go from hero to enemy of the people, but whatever the people call Him, He will always be the Savior of the world.

As Jesus entered the city of Jerusalem on the back of a donkey, the people lined the streets crying out “Hosanna, Hosanna”—“Save now, Save now.” The people were not looking for a spiritual savior. They wanted a conquering hero; someone who would get rid of Roman rule.

When the people saw Him entering the city, they cried out in desperation and excitement at the same time. They thought the time of Roman occupation was at an end. They would expel the Roman rule with their tax burdens and return to ruling themselves.

As the week plays out, we will see the people disappointed in the King the Lord sent to them. As we look back on Palm Sunday, we know the King the Lord sent was the hero of all men. Christ was the only Man who could save us.

While the excitement of Palm Sunday diminished for the people during the week leading up to the Cross, the anticipation and excitement grows for us. As we cry out “Hosanna, Hosanna,” we know He has truly saved us, not just today but for all eternity.

It is not your hold of Christ that saves, but His hold of you.
~C. H. Spurgeon~

Jesus Saves

“Behold, we are going up to Jerusalem, and the Son of Man will be betrayed to the chief priests and to the scribes; and they will condemn Him to death, and deliver Him to the Gentiles to mock and to scourge and to crucify. And the third day He will rise again.”

Matthew 20:18-19

Tomorrow is Palm Sunday, when Jesus entered the city of Jerusalem to shouts of, “Hosanna, Hosanna,” from the people. They were crying out to the Savior, ‘Save now, Save now,” but before that happened Jesus took the disciples aside on the way to Jerusalem and told them He would be betrayed, sentenced to death and crucified.

Even as He told them His fate, the mother of the Sons of Thunder, James and John, came and asked Jesus if her sons could sit at His right and left sides. Jesus told them what was to come, and yet they did not or would not hear the truth. If they really believed Him, their mother would never have asked for her sons to join Jesus in His Kingdom.

There are so many people like the disciples today. We have God’s Word with His promises and the wrath to come for those who choose not to follow Him, and they either do not hear or do not believe. Their lack of belief will not free them from the things to come.

As we prepare to go through the last week of Jesus’ life here on earth, we must all face the reality of the things to come. As Christ came to save all humanity, He will come back and take His church. Those left behind will face the very real wrath of God, because they did not believe—Jesus saves.

He who came in humility and shame will return in spectacular magnificence.
~John R. W. Stott~

In the Eye of the Storm

“Stay with me; do not fear. For he who seeks my life seeks your life, but with me you shall be safe.”

1 Samuel 22:23

David took responsibility for the deaths of the priests and people of Nob, and he also took responsibility for the life of Abiather, the one remaining priest. He knew Saul would seek his life, just as he was seeking to kill David, so David made a vow to protect the priest. As long as David lived, he would take care of Abiather.

It was not really David who would protect the priest. It was God. As long as the Lord had His hand upon David, He would have His hand upon Abiather too.

It is the same thing for you and me. As long as we walk with the Lord, and seek His will for our lives, He will lead and guide us. He will complete the work He has begun in each one of us (Philippians 1:6).

David’s life is an example to us, because God had a great plan for David and His hand was upon David, but his life was not perfect. He had great trials. His anointing from the Lord began with Saul trying to kill him. As he goes on, his own son will turn against him and he will have to run again, but God preserved his life.

Never doubt God’s hand upon your life, just because you are going through trials. God is with you in the eye of the greatest storms you will face. All He asks is for you to trust in Him. He will get you through the most difficult times and you will see the blessings as you come out of the storms; just hang on to Him.

God never promises us an easy time, only a safe arrival.
~Author Unknown~

Promises of God

And Abiathar told David that Saul had killed the Lord’s priests. So David said to Abiathar, “I knew that day,when Doeg the Edomite was there, that he wouldsurely tell Saul. I have caused the death of all the persons of your father’s house.”

1 Samuel 22:21-22

Look at the heart of David. He took the blame for the death of all the people. It was really the work of Saul and his prideful heart, but David was a man who took responsibility for others. He knew Doeg had betrayed him, and his presence at the house of God had put the priests in danger.

Even though David took responsibility, we know God allowed everything to happen. Some will say it was the work of Satan, and it is true, he was using Doeg and Saul, but ultimately, God was in control. He allowed Doeg to be there, to see David and to report back to Saul.

In the same way, in these last days, we need to understand this. We are living in dangerous times. We see Christians being persecuted and killed all over the world, and it seems like the enemy is winning, but do not be deceived.

God does not see death as we see it. Death is the beginning, not the end. We have to always remember, Christ won. He beat sin and death at the Cross. We have eternity with Him in the future, not death and hell.

During these dangerous times, we have to be in the Word. We have to know the promises of God. Without them, we will be overwhelmed. We will forget God is in control. He has a plan and the victory is already His.

God’s promises are like the stars; the darker the night
the brighter they shine.
~David Nicholas~

Promise of Heaven

Also Nob, the city of the priests, he struck with the edge of the sword, both men and women, children and nursing infants, oxen and donkeys and sheep—with the edge of the sword. Now one of the sons of Ahimelech the son of Ahitub, named Abiathar, escaped and fled after David.

1 Samuel 22:19-20

In the middle of all the evil of Saul, God’s hand is still at work. He has a plan and He allowed Abiather, the grandson of Ahimelech and the son of Ahitub, to escape. The Lord allowed him to escape, because he will become the priest to David. In the future, he will be the one to establish the priesthood for the tabernacle. That is why God allowed him to slip away. God had a purpose for his life.

Now, many people wonder why God allowed the others to be killed. If He could save the one, He could have saved them all. That is true. God could have saved all the people, but He allowed the evil of men to kill innocent people.

It is so hard for us to understand the ways of God. Paul told the church in Corinth:

But the natural man does not receive the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; nor can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned (1 Corinthians 2:14).

God has a great plan for each one of us. If we perish while serving the Lord, we have a glorious home in heaven. What a great promise!

Earth has no sorrow that heaven cannot heal.
~Thomas V. Moore~

Think Eternally

And the king said to Doeg, “You turn and kill the priests!” So Doeg the Edomite turned and struck the priests,and killed on that day eighty-five menwho wore a linen ephod.

1 Samuel 22:18

When the guards would not kill the priests, Saul turned to the one man he knew would murder God’s servants—Doeg. He had no fear of the Lord, and he desired to have position and power in the kingdom. He would do whatever Saul asked of him, so he could be lifted up. This was his opportunity to be promoted.

The real heart of this verse reveals the true heart of men. When men and women walk with the Lord, they have the fear of the Lord. They know the power of God and recognize the judgment to come. They are not thinking of what they can gain now, but what they will lose in the future.

We have seen men like Doeg throughout history. They are men used by Satan to try and destroy God’s people. They have no vision of eternity, so they are willing to do whatever they can to gain power now. You can read about the many Christians who have lost their lives in Foxe’s Book of Martyrs. They are men and women who understood eternity and gave their lives willingly for the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

Paul the Apostle said: For to me, to live is Christ, and to die is gain (Philippians 1:21). He understood eternity and wrote these words, so we would understand and have an eternal perspective. Evil men may kill godly people now and then, but the victory is ours, for eternity.

Eternity shall be at one and the same time a great eye-opener and a great mouth-shutter.
~Jim Elliot~

Godly Vision

Then the king said to the guards who stood about him, “Turn and kill the priests of the Lord, because their hand also is with David, and because they knew when he fled and did not tell it to me.” But the servants of the king would not lift their hands to strike the priests of the Lord.

1 Samuel 22:17

Finally, we find some people with Saul who had the fear of the Lord. They were willing to pursue David for the king, but they were not willing to come against God’s priests—His servants.

The guards thought they were doing the right thing. They were defying orders from the king, because they did not want to come against God’s servants, but they were still willing to kill David. They were not really godly men, because they did not see the anointing of the Lord upon David. They missed it. They were looking at the outside of the man and not the inner man.

God had removed His anointing from Saul, but the people around him did not see; only Jonathan, his own son, saw the truth. Everyone else was willing to do whatever Saul asked them to do. They were not godly and did not have discernment.

It is so important for us to look at the heart of the men and women we come into contact with each day. We will not see the anointing of the Lord if we only look at their outside appearance. It was clear from Saul’s actions; he was not walking right with the Lord. In the same way, we have to look at the actions, the fruit, in people’s lives to see if they are truly walking with the Lord or just putting on a show while they walk in the world.

In the light of God, human vision clears.
~James Philip~

Murdering Words

“Did I then begin to inquire of God for him? Far be it from me! Let not the king impute anything to his servant, or to any in the house of my father. For your servant knew nothing of all this, little or much.” And the king said,“You shall surely die, Ahimelech, you andall your father’s house!”

1 Samuel 22:15-16

Even though the accusations against Ahimelech were false, he still stood before Saul and spoke the truth. He was not defending himself; he was defending his family. It was not only his life on the line; he was concerned for the other priests of Nob. Eighty people were going to be slaughtered because of a conniving person, a snitch. His deception would cause 80 godly men to be killed.

Think about the great judgment to come for the man who caused God’s servants to be killed. It was not only Saul. Judgment would come upon Doeg the Edomite, for his deception. Surely, I would not want to be in Doeg’s shoes.

We read this story and we cannot believe this person lied and got away with it. We cannot believe Saul would believe the lies and kill the priests, but it happens in our churches today.

Think about this; in the church we have people who are constantly trying to defame the character of other people, so they can have a position, so they can be greater in the leader’s eyes. They may not be murdering them physically, but they are murdering their characters and making them a reproach among the people. Be careful whose words you listen to, you may be listening to Satan.

Lies and false reports are among Satan’s choicest weapons.
~J. C. Ryle~

Embrace the Light

So Ahimelech answered the king and said, “And who among all your servants is as faithful as David, who is the king’s son-in-law, who goes at your bidding, and is honorable in your house?”

1 Samuel 22:14

Ahimelech was truly a godly man. He did not make excuses or try to win Saul’s approval by lying and agreeing with him. He spoke the truth to Saul, just like Jonathan had done. He could have told Saul he was right, but instead he pointed out the innocence of David. He tried to make Saul see the loyalty of David.

The priest was standing before the king of Israel and he was being accused of conspiracy against the king. He was in big trouble, and he knew it. As a man of God, he stood upon the truth, and he put his hope and trust in the Lord. He could have betrayed David and saved himself, but he would not compromise and bring shame upon himself and the Lord.

Saul was so far from the Lord he could not see the truth anymore. He no longer recognized the innocence of Ahimelech, because he was a man of sin. Lies and deceit had taken over his life. He could not see the innocence of David or the priests.

That is what happens when a person embraces the darkness. They are blinded to the truth and can no longer look at innocence because it convicts their life. If they accept the truth, they have to admit they are wrong, and they will not do that. Stay in the light and embrace truth. Stay in the light and know God.

Truth is always as honest in its recognition of darkness as it is exultant in its understanding of light.
~John Hercus~

Believe & Obey

Then 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, that he should rise against me, to lie in wait,as it is this day?”

1 Samuel 22:13

In all Saul accused Ahimelech of doing in conspiring with David, I think we have to look at one important thing. Saul said, “You have inquired of the Lord for him.” Wow! He was coming against the priest for inquiring of the Lord for David. He should have stopped right there, but he went forward with his rant.

Samuel had already told Saul the Lord was no longer with him in

1 Samuel 13:14; and it was because of Saul’s disobedience to the Lord. God gave him many opportunities to serve Him faithfully, but he was rebellious.

He continued in his rebellion against God, when he came against the priests of Nob for inquiring of the Lord for David. If God was not for David, He would have taken care of the problem. If God did not want to raise up David, He would have spoken through Ahimelech and told David to step down, but Saul did not trust the Lord to handle the situation with David.

When God speaks to us, we have to not only listen to what He tells us but do what He tells us, accept what He tells us. If we try to go against God’s guidance, He is not going to bless us. He is not going to open doors. He is going to allow us to fail in our pride and disobedience, while He blesses another.

Believing and obeying always run side by side.
~C. H. Spurgeon~

Half-Truths

So the king sent to call Ahimelech the priest, the son of Ahitub, and all his father’s house, the priests who were in Nob. And they all came to the king. And Saul said, “Hear now, son of Ahitub!” He answered, “Here I am, my lord.”

1 Samuel 22:11-12

After Doeg the Edomite told Saul Ahimelech the priest had helped David, Saul sent for him and all the other priests in Nob. They came to Saul, but they had no idea what was happening. They did not know anything about Saul trying to kill David, so they went to Saul innocently. While they knew nothing about what was going to happen, Saul was going to have an illegal trial. He was going to punish the priests because of the accusations made by Doeg.

Before Doeg spoke to Saul, he was not looking for anyone else. He did not think about the priests conspiring against him. He was worried about Jonathan’s friendship with David, but he was not thinking about a big conspiracy, until Doeg came with his accusations.

You have to be careful about what people tell you. They can poison you. They may be looking for a position. They may tell you a partial truth, but they will twist the truth just enough to make it a lie. Doeg told the truth. David was there and Ahimelech did feed him and give him the sword, but he made it sound like Ahimelech was against Saul and that was the lie.

Whenever someone tells you something about someone else, you have to really examine the facts. You have to ask questions and be sure you have the full truth, not half-truths, before you act, because a half-truth is a lie.

When a half-truth is presented as a whole truth
it becomes an untruth.
~Walter J. Chantry~

Truth in Love

Then answered Doeg the Edomite, who was set over the servants of Saul, and said, “I saw the son of Jesse going to Nob, to Ahimelech the son of Ahitub. And he inquired of the Lord for him, gave him provisions, and gave him the sword of Goliath the Philistine.”

1 Samuel 22:9-10

Notice, Doeg the Edomite was set over Saul’s servants. He was not a child of God, and yet, Saul gave him a position of authority over his servants. He had a position of authority in the king’s house, which was the kingdom God had set up over His people. Why would Saul allow an ungodly man to have authority in God’s nation?

It is clear, Saul allowed Doeg to have authority because he was loyal to no one else. Saul counted on Doeg being loyal to him alone, but in reality, Doeg was loyal to no one but himself. He not only turned David in, but he made Saul believe Ahimelech the priest had also betrayed him.

Remember, Ahimelech did not know Saul was looking for David, and David told him he was on a mission for Saul. Ahimelech was an innocent man. He thought he was serving the king, as he assisted David, but Doeg made it appear as if he had betrayed Saul.

It is so important to really know the hearts and minds of the people we surround ourselves with. We want to be sure they are godly men and women who love the Lord and speak truth. They are not manipulating and stirring up trouble. People who really love God do not make up stories and tell lies. They speak truth in love—bringing unity.

Do not merely speak the truth, but live truthfully, openly and honestly with one another.
~Sinclair Ferguson~

St. Patrick’s Day

For though I am free from all men, I have made myself a servant to all, that I might win the more; … to the weak I became as weak, that I might win the weak. I have become all things to all men, that I might by all means save some. Now this I do for the gospel’s sake, that I may be partaker of it with you.

1 Corinthians 9:19, 22-23

This day marks the death of a godly man, St Patrick, a British missionary in the country of Ireland. From the way he lived his life, we can see he was a man very familiar with the writings of Paul and the call from the Lord to preach the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

St. Patrick left the comforts of his home in England to bring the Gospel of Jesus Christ to the heathen people of Ireland. What is even more amazing; he was once a captive of the Irish people, but he had escaped. After escaping, he had a vision where the Lord called him to return to Ireland to disciple the people.

He was obedient to the call of God and returned to Ireland, where he used the very customs of the people to turn their hearts and minds to the Lord. He created the Celtic cross from their worship of the sun, turning their hearts from worshipping the sun to worshipping the Son. He became a servant of all, so others would be saved.

Like Paul the Apostle, St. Patrick lived a life of example. He did not go into Ireland to change all their customs. He introduced them to the Lord and allowed the Holy Spirit to transform their lives. That is what we are called to do. We are the messengers, and God is the transformer of lives.

Most people are brought to faith in Christ, not by argument for it, but by exposure to it.
~Samuel Shoemaker~

Blinded By Sin

then Saul said to his servants who stood about him, “Hear now, you Benjamites! Will the son of Jesse give every one of you fields and vineyards, and make you all captains of thousands and captains of hundreds? All of you have conspired against me, and there is no one who reveals to me that my son has made a covenant with the son of Jesse; and there is not one of you who is sorry for me or reveals to me that my son has stirred up my servant against me, to lie in wait, as it is this day.”

1 Samuel 22:7-8

Saul had his spear in his hand and his anger came out as he rebuked the people. There was no one Saul trusted anymore. He cried out against the people and against his own son. What he forgot was the anointing of the Lord. It was not the people who turned against him. It was the Lord who was no longer with him. Without the Lord, nothing he did would be blessed.

Sin completely blinded Saul to the truth. He was so far away from the Lord; he could not see what was true and what was a lie. He even saw his son as an enemy. In his pride, envy and anger, Saul’s heart was hardened, and he was turning on the people who had stood with him.

When we allow the sins of pride, envy and anger to take over our lives, we will be blinded to the love, grace and mercy of God, because we will no longer accept the truth of God. The further we walk away from the Lord, the harder it is to hear His voice and trust the plans He has for us. Do not be deceived by Satan and your flesh.

The envious man is an enemy to himself, for his mind is always spontaneously occupied with his own unhappy thoughts.
~Menander~

God’s Plans

When Saul heard that David and the men who were with him had been discovered—now Saul was staying in Gibeah under a tamarisk tree in Ramah, with his spear in his hand, and all his servants standing about him—

1 Samuel 22:6

While David had been on the run, King Saul had been looking for him. He had not changed his mind. He wanted to kill David, but he could not find him. Things changed when the men came to David, and he became their leader. When David was alone, he was able to hide. Once he was leading 400 men, there was no way to hide.

David and God seemed to have different plans. I think David planned on hiding out until Saul died. He was not going to go against God’s anointed, but he did not want to die either, so he decided to hide and wait until it was safe to come out.

God had another plan. God purposely led the 400 men to David. He did not want David hiding from Saul. He had work for David, and He needed David in Judah, not hiding with the enemy.

The same thing happens to people all the time. People make their plans, and they are not always the same as God’s plans, so God has to change the circumstances in order for His plans to become their plans.

Before we make plans for our lives and decide to take the easy way, we need to be in prayer and reading God’s Word. He has a plan for each one of us and it is better and greater than any plans we may have for ourselves. God had more for David than hiding in a cave. What does He have for you?

Obedience is the road to freedom.
~C. S. Lewis~

Obedience

Now the prophet Gad said to David, “Do not stay in the stronghold; depart, and go to the land of Judah.” So David departed and went into the forest of Hereth.

1 Samuel 22:5

Notice, the prophet Gad now takes the position of the prophet Samuel. Remember, Samuel stood for God to speak to the people of God. He was also used to speak to Saul for God. At this time, Gad was raised up as the prophet like Samuel; and he was going to be used by God to speak to David.

The prophet told David to go to the land of Judah. He sent him back to Saul, the person David was running from. I do not think David wanted to go back to the place of Saul, but he listened to Gad and departed to the forest of Herreth, which is east of Adullam in Judea.

I think it is important to point out David’s obedience. While Saul constantly disobeyed Samuel, thus disobeyed God, David was obedient, even when he was told to return to Saul.

David was the leader; he could have listened to Gad and then ignored his advice, but David understood Gad’s position. He was a prophet. He did not speak for himself. He spoke for God. Prophets gave words of knowledge or wisdom, and were inspired by the Holy Spirit.

Sometimes, God tells you to do something you really do not want to do. Do you do it, or do you ignore His prompting? Do you think it is just your imagination? Look at Saul’s life and David’s life. Who was more successful; the obedient servant or the disobedient servant?

By obeying Christ’s commands you will gain
more than you can give.
~Thomas Brooks~

Honor our Families

So he brought them before the king of Moab, and they dwelt with him all the time that David was in the stronghold.

1 Samuel 22:4

Looking at David’s life, it is pretty amazing to see the love and obedience he had for his parents. At this time, his life was turned upside down. He was a man without a country, and yet he remained faithful to the Lord.

He was not in a position to take care of them. He could have told his parents to go back because he had to worry about his own life, but he took the time to get them to safety before trying to fix his own problems.

David not only cared for his parents out of his great love for them, but also out of obedience to the Lord. David respected the commandments of the Lord and the fifth commandment tells us to honor our father and mother. David honored them and protected them from his enemy. He saw to their needs before his own. He was a good son and an obedient child of God.

This is a great lesson to every one of us. It does not matter what age we are, we are to honor our parents. In honoring our parents, we are being obedient and respectful to the Lord. Even though we are living under grace and not the Law, that does not mean God does not still call us to honor our parents.

As Christians, we are called to be servants. Our servanthood begins in our homes. We are not called to just serve the people, but to serve our families first and then others. If we serve others but dishonor our parents, we are not true servants, we are hypocrites.

A severe test of a man’s essential nature is how he appears to the members of his own family.
~Maldwyn Edwards~

Submitted to God

Then David went from there to Mizpah of Moab; and he said to the king of Moab, “Please let my father and mother come here with you, till I knowwhat God will do for me.”

1 Samuel 22:3

David was leading 400 men, and he also had his family with him. It seemed like the Lord had a plan for him, but David was not sure where God was leading. The first thing he had to do was take care of his parents. He wanted to be sure they were taken care of, so he was entrusting them to the Moabites. Remember, David’s grandmother, Ruth, was a Moabitess. She had married Boaz; they had Obed and Obed had Jesse, David’s father.

I think this is a real important point. We have to make sure we know what God wants to do with us before we get other people involved. If we make plans without the Lord, everything will fall apart and people will get discouraged. They will blame the Lord for the failure, when it was our failure, not the Lord’s.

It is so cool when God puts together the leadership, whether it is for a company or a church; when God puts the right people together, everyone will work together according to the plans of the Lord. When God is in control and He brings the people together, the men and women are going to be in submission to Him. They are also going to be in submission to the leadership He set up, so they can all work in harmony together to accomplish what God has called them to do.

If God is calling you, be open to His guiding and submit to His leadership, even as you submit to the leadership He has set up.

A life abandoned to Christ cannot be cut short.
~Sherwood Day~

God’s Leader

And everyone who was in distress, everyone who was in debt, and everyone who was discontented gathered to him. So he became captain over them. And there were about four hundred men with him.

1 Samuel 22:2

Instead of David promoting himself and recruiting people to follow him and fight with him, all these men came to him, and he became their leader. They saw a humble man, who was also a great warrior, and they were drawn to him. He was not looking for promotion, but the Lord brought the people to him and the Lord provided his army.

Notice, God did not bring the best men, the men with all the necessary training or big bank accounts. God brought the men who had nothing; men who were in distress, just like David.

They had to make a choice to either follow Saul or to follow David. They chose David, because he was a man after God’s own heart. The people had seen the life of David, and they saw the anointing of the Lord upon him.

Think about this; people are watching your life. They see how you act and react to trials in your life. They want to see if you are really a Christian, or someone who says they love the Lord, but when the storms come, they fall apart. Why do they watch you? They want to know if they can come to you when they are faced with a terrible situation. They want someone who will really pray for them and not just say they will. David did not want to lead the people, but God called him and used him. You may not want to be a leader, but God may be calling you. What will you do?

If you cannot be great, be willing to serve God in that which is small.
~S. F. Smith~

Family Unity

David therefore departed from there and escaped to the cave of Adullam. So when his brothers and all his father’s house heard it, they went down there to him.

1 Samuel 22:1

David left Gath, the Philistine city, because he was afraid. He went there, thinking he would be safe, but the people knew who he was. They said, ‘Hey, isn’t this the man who the people sing about killing ten thousands. He was killing our men.” When David realized they knew what he had been doing for Saul, he acted like a madman and he went on the run again.

David ran from Gath to the cave of Adullam, which is about 20 miles south of Jerusalem, 10 miles north of Gath. Think about it. David had everything he wanted or needed, while serving Saul, and now he had nothing. He had no place to call home. He could not even go to his family, because Saul was looking for him, so he ended up in a simple cave.

While he was in the cave, his father, mother and his family found out he was at the cave of Adullam and they went to him. They had been separated for a long time, as David was young when Saul had him brought to his house to play music for him, but they joined David in the cave. With Saul hunting for David, they were afraid, because Saul could come after them too, so they took refuge with David.

I think family is very important in our lives. We have to be loyal and have unity within our families. We have to stand side by side when someone comes against a family member. That is what David’s family did; they stood with him in his time of distress.

Our children need our presence more than our presents.
~John Blanchard~

Leaps of Faith

Then Achish said to his servants, “Look, you see the man is insane. Why have you brought him to me? Have I need of madmen, that you have brought this fellow to play the madman in my presence? Shall this fellow come into my house?”

1 Samuel 21:14-15

David succeeded in his deception to Achish, but we have to see it for what it really was. It was done because of fear. David was not trusting the Lord, he was working the circumstances. He thought God was not with him and he had to get out of this trouble on his own.

I think we need to be careful, because fear cannot only bring us down but it can also keep us from doing ministry. God is not looking for us to help Him. He could do ministry without us. He is looking for men and women who will step out in faith—men and women who trust Him and nothing else.

I love taking leaps of faith. I am not talking about acting foolishly, like David, but trusting God. When He tells you to do something and He clearly reveals Himself through His Word and He gives you peace; then you step out in faith. You trust in Him and His Word.

Remember who is in control. God knows you do not have money; you are hurting; you are sick. He sees all things. He does not sleep; He does not wander; He is looking at us all the time. He wants to use each one of us tremendously, but He will not use us if we do not trust in Him, fully and completely.

Faith is a mighty, living thing, producing wonderful results in the conscience, heart, will, mind and life of the recipient.
~A. Paget Wilkes~

God in the Circumstances

Now David took these words to heart, and was very much afraid of Achish the king of Gath. So he changed his behavior before them, pretended madness in their hands, scratched on the doors of the gate, and let his saliva fall down on his beard.

1 Samuel 21:12-13

When David went to Gath, the servants of Achish repeated the song the women of Israel used to sing and said: “Is this not David the king of the land? Did they not sing of him to one another in dances, saying: ‘Saul has slain his thousands, and David his ten thousands’? ” (1 Samuel 21:11).

When the women sang of David killing ten thousands, they were speaking of the Philistines and now David was with the king of the Philistines, so he took their words to heart. He was afraid. He knew they could kill him on the spot.

David, the man who defeated Goliath as a young boy, had come to a place in his life where he had lost confidence in the Lord. He was running from Saul, he was in the enemy’s camp and they knew he had killed many of their warriors. With everything going on in his life, he did not think the Lord was with him. He felt like he was on his own, so he acted like a madman.

Sometimes, the circumstances surrounding us cause us to take our eyes off the Lord. They cause us to believe God is not with us, and then we make bad decisions. We have to always remember; when we are in the very eye of the storm, God is there with us. He will handle all the circumstances of your life and my life.

That my times are in God’s hand is a fact whether I realize and experience it or not.
~E. F. Hallock~

God’s Complete Plan

Then David arose and fled that day from before Saul, and went to Achish the king of Gath. And the servants of Achish said to him, “Is this not David the king of the land? Did they not sing of him to one another in dances, saying: ‘Saul has slain his thousands, and David his ten thousands’? ”

1 Samuel 21:10-11

Look, David ran away from Saul and he went to Gath, which was a Philistine city. David fled from Israel to the enemy’s camp. Instead of trusting in the Lord, he tried to take refuge with God’s enemy.

David reminds me of Abraham. Remember how Abraham went to Egypt to escape the famine in the land. When he got there, he lied to Pharaoh and told him Sarah was his sister. He did not trust the Lord to take care of him, so he lied.

This is a very important lesson in this chapter. David was a great man of God, just like Abraham. God’s hand was upon both men, and He had mighty plans for each one of them, but they both messed up. They both had trouble walking by faith and not by sight.

God has great plans for our lives and He wants to do mighty works with each of us, as we walk with Him. He is calling each one of us to walk by faith. He is not going to reveal all His plans but He wants us to trust He is going to complete His plan and His purpose. Paul the Apostle wrote this to the church in Philippi: being confident of this very thing, that He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ (Philippians 1:6).

Appearances can be deceptive. The fact that we cannot see what God is doing does not mean that He is doing nothing.
~Sinclair Ferguson~

God’s Sword

And David said to Ahimelech, “Is there not here on hand a spear or a sword? For I have brought neither my sword nor my weapons with me, because the king’s business required haste.” So the priest said, “The sword of Goliath the Philistine, whom you killed in the Valley of Elah, there it is, wrapped in a cloth behind the ephod. If you will take that, take it. For there is no other except that one here.” And David said, “There is none like it; give it to me.”

1 Samuel 21:8-9

David was moving fast. He left without any weapons, and in his desperation to get something to defend himself, he continued the lie, even though it made no sense. If he was truly on a mission for the king, he would never have left his weapons behind, but he had to cover himself, so he lied.

The only weapon there was the sword of Goliath, the giant David had killed with only a sling and a stone. He did not need a sword. He needed the Lord; the One who went before him when he faced Goliath. In his fear, he forgot about God and His protection. He wanted the sword of Goliath, because there was not another sword as great as Goliath’s.

David may have forgotten God, but God had not forgotten David. The very sword God provided for David was put away until the proper time when it had to be used. God had been saving it for David.

Do not be like David; do not forget your sword—the Word of God—when you go out into the world. It is your only protection against the enemy. As long as you have God’s Word, you do not need to fear man.

The Bible is a disturbing book, a hammer, a fire and a sword.
~Vance Havner~

God’s Covenant of Salvation

And so all Israel will be saved, as it is written: “The Deliverer will come out of Zion, and He will turn away ungodliness from Jacob; for this is My covenant with them, when I take away their sins.”

Romans 11:26-27

During the Feast of Purim, the children of Israel celebrate God’s deliverance from the enemy. While Haman sought to destroy His people, God saved them from physical death. He used Esther, Mordecai and the heathen king, Ahasuerus, to preserve the lives of His people.

God saved the lives of His people, but His covenant with them is greater than just their physical safety. By His Word and His promises, God has made a covenant with the children of Israel to save their souls and give them eternal life.

God sent His Son to deliver His people from their sins. There is no man who could save us from our sins, and we could not save ourselves. It could only be done through His sacrifice on the Cross.

While our greatest enemy, Satan, seeks to destroy God’s people and take everyone to hell, God sent a Savior to give us eternal life. With His death on the Cross, Christ defeated death. He defeated our greatest enemy.

Haman was a prideful man, used by Satan, to try and destroy God’s people. Satan has used many men, like Haman, throughout the centuries to defeat God’s people, both the Jewish and Christian people, but God has always prevailed. Godly men and women have died by the hands of these evil people, but they only lost their physical lives. They will live for eternity with God, because of His great covenant.

This world is our passage not our portion.
~Matthew Henry~

Purim

When Haman saw that Mordecai did not bow or pay him homage, Haman was filled with wrath. But he disdained to lay hands on Mordecai alone, for they had told him of the people of Mordecai. Instead, Haman sought to destroy all the Jews who were throughout the whole kingdom of Ahasuerus—the people of Mordecai.

Esther 3:5-6

The Feast of Purim begins today at sundown. It is named Purim, because their enemy, Haman cast a lot, pur in Hebrew, purim meaning “lots”, to determine the day he would destroy the Jewish people. What man intended for evil, God used for good. The Jewish people celebrate the day their enemy chose to destroy them, because God defeated the enemy.

The Book of Esther was written to chronicle this time in history, when the children of Israel were in Persia and a prideful, arrogant man rose to power and threatened the existence of God’s people. Today, the people of Israel will read this Book and celebrate God’s deliverance.

Think of the reason behind Haman’s plot to destroy God’s people. It was all about pride. They were not rebellious people. They followed the laws of Persia and were prosperous. However, they worshipped the Living God. They did not bow down before man. That was their only crime.

Throughout history, prideful men have tried to destroy the people of God, but God has always intervened. He has allowed His people to be chastised, but never destroyed. He has a great love for His people, and a great plan, so when men plan evil for them, God will turn it to good. He will always preserve His people.

God would never permit any evil
if He could not bring good out of evil.
~Thomas Watson~

Holy Vessel

Now a certain man of the servants of Saul was there that day, detained before the Lord. And his name was Doeg, an Edomite, the chief of the herdsmenwho belonged to Saul.

1 Samuel 21:6-7

While David was at the house of the Lord, there was a man there who worked for Saul. His name was Doeg and he was an Edomite, not an Israelite, but he was in charge of Saul’s animals. As an employee of Saul’s, he was not a friend to David. He would be a great enemy of David.

It is incredible; when you are working for the Lord, and you love the Lord; there is always an enemy like Judas. They are only there to scope things out, get information and take you down. In David’s life, one man who would betray him was Doeg—the Edomite.

Look, it says Doeg was detained before the Lord, so God was going to use Doeg, for His purpose. I really believe in my heart, God used Doeg not only to keep David humble but to keep David close to Him. God wanted David to trust in Him alone.

Remember, God could have killed Saul; He could have killed Doeg, but He did not. He used them to train up David—to teach David to live close to the heart of God. I am not saying Saul and Doeg were righteous men, but even in their sin, God used them to mold and shape David, but in the end, neither man prospered.

I want my life to be used by God, but not in spite of my sin, like Saul or Doeg. I want to be used as a holy vessel unto the Lord, like David.

The way of uprightness is the way of heavenly wealth.
~C. H. Spurgeon~

Grace and Law

Now therefore, what have you on hand? Give me five loaves of bread in my hand, or whatever can be found.” And the priest answered David and said, “There is no common bread on hand; but there is holy bread, if the young men have at least kept themselves from women.”

1 Samuel 21:3-4

David asked Ahimelech for five loaves of bread. He did not need the bread for his men, as he was on his own, but he left town in a hurry. He did not bring any provisions with him, so he needed something to eat right away and something for the road. It is also important to note; five is the number of grace. The grace of God; providing for David’s needs.

Notice, there was no regular bread but only the holy bread—the showbread. There would have been 12 loaves of showbread, set before the Lord, one loaf for each tribe of Israel. The showbread was on a table in the tabernacle. It would sit before the Lord for one week and then be replaced.

The old showbread was eaten by the priest, in the tabernacle. It was not to be eaten outside of the tabernacle or by anyone but the priests. That is the reason the priest asked him if the men had kept themselves from women.

In Matthew 12, when the religious leaders asked Jesus why He allowed His disciples to break the Sabbath by plucking the heads of wheat in the field, Jesus took them back to this verse. There was a need which was greater than the Law. It was more important for them to be fed, than be in bondage to the Law. Ministering to the needs of people is greater than appearing spiritual before people.

Grace is stronger than circumstances.
~J. C. Ryle~

God’s Chastening

So David said to Ahimelech the priest, “The king has ordered me on some business, and said to me, ‘Do not let anyone know anything about the business on which I send you, or what I have commanded you.’ And I have directed my young men to such and such a place.”

1 Samuel 21:2

David, the man after God’s own heart, was lying to the priest. Just like Abraham, when he told Pharaoh Sarah was his sister; he was lying because of fear—simple fear of man. We have to be careful with fear, because it will cause us to sin. Lying is a sin. It is of Satan, not God.

David was afraid of Saul, so he told Ahimelech, the priest, two lies. First, he said he was working under orders from the king, when he was really running from Saul. Second, he told the priest his men were close by, and they were not with him at all.

David was lying to a man of God, but think about how many times you have done something and you feel guilty so, like David, you become fearful and lie to cover yourself. We have all done it!

Even when we do not do something wrong, we lie, because we fear man. We worry about what a man is going to do to us, when we should be more concerned about sinning before the Lord.

I thank God, when I do or say something sinful before the Lord, His Holy Spirit begins to deal with my heart. He does not let me get away with lying, cheating or any other sin. In His great love, grace and mercy towards me, He chastises me until I repent and make things right before Him.

God’s chastening originates in His love.
~Vance Havner~

Godly Counsel

Now David came to Nob, to Ahimelech the priest. And Ahimelech was afraid when he met David, and said to him, “Why are you alone, and no one is with you?”

1 Samuel 21:1

David arrived in the city of Nob, which was next to Gibeah of Benjamin, and he was all alone, so Ahimelech, the priest, asked him why he was alone. He knew David was a leader in Saul’s army and it was not normal for him to be travelling around the country without his men.

Seeing David alone bothered Ahimelech. In this verse, the Hebrew word used for afraid is charad and it means “to tremble or be anxiously careful.” The priest was anxious because he sensed there was trouble. David should not have been alone, and the absence of his men caused concern for the priest.

I think every one of us is troubled at one time or another. When we are troubled, we need to understand the only one who can solve our problems or troubles is the Lord. He is the only One. Many times, when you go to other people with your troubles, they give you ungodly advice. They do not have true wisdom from the Lord.

David was wise. He was in trouble, so he went to the house of the Lord. He sought godly men. He did not tell the priest his problem, but he went to a place where he believed he could trust the people. He went to the house of the Lord—a good place to start his time of exile.

When you face great trials in your life, it is important to bring them before the Lord. Then, if you need to talk to someone, choose a godly person, of good repute. Then, you will get godly wisdom.

Wisdom is God-centered.
~Michael Parsons~

On Our Word

Then Jonathan said to David, “Go in peace, since we have both sworn in the name of the Lord, saying, ‘May the Lord be between you and me, and between your descendants and my descendants, forever.’” So he arose and departed, and Jonathan went into the city.

1 Samuel 20:42

Notice, their friendship was based upon the Lord. It was not a friendship for a day or two, but a lifelong friendship. It was a relationship between two men and would extend to their families for generations to come. This can only come when the Lord is in our midst. It is a bond formed by the Lord, through the Spirit.

This is an example of the kind of relationships we should have, both with friends and with family. When we get married, the Lord better be between us and our husbands or wives. If our marriages are not formed in the Spirit, but in the flesh, they will fail. There will be great strife.

As we read through Samuel, we will see the promise David and Jonathan made in this verse stands the test of time. When David said he would stand with Jonathan’s descendants, he took his vow seriously. He would not come against the family of Jonathan, ever.

Throughout this great chapter, we have seen the love and integrity of David and Jonathan. They were not men of compromise but men of their word. As the Holy Spirit guided their lives, we need to pray He would lead and guide us, so we can be men and women of integrity, standing upon the Word of God, with the Lord as our bond.

If we cannot be believed on our word, we are surely not to be trusted on our oath.
~C. H. Spurgeon~

God is in Control

As soon as the lad had gone, David arose from a place toward the south, fell on his face to the ground, and bowed down three times. And they kissed one another; and they wept together, but David more so.

1 Samuel 20:41

As soon as they were alone, David came out of hiding to say good-bye to Jonathan. He did not want to put Jonathan in danger by being seen with him, so he waited for the young man to leave.

You see the great love and respect they had for one another. Jonathan put himself in danger just warning David, and David understood the risk. Saul was not a stable man. If he could turn on David, he could turn on his own son.

David and Jonathan had become friends right from the beginning. When they met, they knew they would be friends. They had stood by each other and faced the enemy together. Now, they must say good-bye, and they both knew it could be the last time they see each other. They were both very sad, but especially David. He was not only leaving his good friend but he would be an outcast. He was in danger as long as he remained in Israel.

When we really look at the great loss for David, we understand why he wept. He was leaving everything behind, and he was an innocent man. Understand—David did not try to defend himself. He trusted in the Lord. We may not always understand what God is doing in our lives, but we can trust He is in control and knows what He is doing.

The whole world is ordered and arranged to match
and meet the needs of the people of God.
~J. A. Motyer~

Self-Promotion

And so it was, in the morning, that Jonathan went out into the field at the time appointed with David, and a little lad was with him. … And Jonathan cried out after the lad, “Make haste, hurry, do not delay!” So Jonathan’s lad gathered up the arrows and came back to his master.

1 Samuel 20:35, 38

After Saul tried to kill him, Jonathan was still faithful to David. He was a man of his word, and he went to the field to warn David. Jonathan was grieved by his father. He had defended him when David said Saul wanted to kill him. Jonathan really thought his father was a man of God.

Jonathan and David were godly men. They could have gotten together and come against Saul. The people loved David. I think he could have taken over, and with Jonathan’s help, it could have been done.

They did not turn on Saul. They did not try to take away the kingdom or try to kill him. Jonathan told David, a great man of war, to run. He told him to run and do it quickly.

This was a terrible day for both men. They were great friends and had stood by each other fighting in Saul’s army. Now, David had to leave, because Saul was after him, and he did not want to be at war with Saul. David was truly a very humble man. He was not trying to be king, even though Samuel had told him he would be king. He was trusting in the Lord. He was not trying to promote himself.

We do not have to promote ourselves. God is the One who raises up and takes down. That is the great lesson of Saul and David

The less a person strives for himself,
the more God will be his champion.
~John Trapp~

Love the Sinner

And Jonathan answered Saul his father, and said to him, “Why should he be killed? What has he done?” Then Saul cast a spear at him to kill him, by which Jonathan knew that it was determined by his father to kill David.

1 Samuel 20:32-33

When he heard David went home to Bethlehem, Saul got angry because he wanted to kill David. He tried to explain his anger to Jonathan by saying he was doing it for him. He wanted Jonathan to take the throne after him.

However, his actions were completely the opposite. He did it all for Jonathan, but then he threw a spear at him to kill him. WOW! How could Saul do all of this for Jonathan and then try to kill him? It makes no sense.

If we look at Saul’s actions, we see the truth. He was a selfish, prideful man. He was trying to kill David because he was jealous of him. No matter how much Jonathan loved his father, he had to face the truth; Saul was no longer walking with the Lord, and he was coming against an innocent man.

Jonathan was a godly man. He loved his father but did not stand by his sinful actions. He left the table and ate no food for a day, as he grieved for David. He knew his father had treated David shamefully.

Remember this lesson. No matter how much we love people, whether they are family or friends, we cannot stand by them in their sin. We have to stand for righteousness. We need to condemn the sin but love the sinner.

A godly man doth mourn for another’s sin as well as for his own, because he mourns for sin as sin.
~William Bridge~

Rebellious

Then Saul’s anger was aroused 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, you shall not be established, nor your kingdom. Now therefore, send and bring him to me, for he shall surely die.”

1 Samuel 20:30-31

In Verses 28 and 29, Jonathan tested Saul. He needed to find out whether Saul was a man of his word, because he had told Jonathan he would not harm David. In 1 Samuel 19:6, Saul swore, “As the Lord lives, he shall not be killed.”

When Jonathan told Saul he had given David permission to go to his father’s house, Saul went into a rage. It made no sense for Saul to be so angry, but he revealed why he was angry. He planned to kill David. Saul was going against his word, and he was going to kill David.

Samuel had already told Saul God had taken the kingdom away from him, but Saul was not willing to accept God’s decision. He was not really fighting against David and Jonathan; He was fighting against God. It reminds me of the Apostle Paul when he first met Jesus on the road to Damascus. Jesus said: “I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting. It is hard for you to kick against the goads” (Acts 9:5).

Take a lesson from Saul. If you fight against God, you are not going to win. He will allow you to kick, but eventually, you will lose the fight.

God will give the rebel what he chooses
and what he deserves.
~Simon Austen~

George Washington’s Birthday

If I then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet. For I have given you an example, that you should do as I have done to you. Most assuredly, I say to you, a servant is not greater than his master; nor is he who is sent greater than he who sent him.

John 13:14-16

George Washington was the first president of the United States. Following the Revolutionary War to free the colonies from the King of England, he was made leader of this small nation. He was a great leader as the Commander-in-Chief of the Continental Army, and because of his leadership was elected as our first president.

Clearly, this was a man who understood what it means to be a leader and an example to the people. He understood the words Jesus spoke. While being the elected leader of this country, he understood he was elected to serve the people. He was not elected to lord over the people.

As the first president of the country, he set the example for the many presidents to come. Because of his leadership style, the men who followed him knew they were servants to the people. They were not royalty to be served by the people.

Understand this; we all are examples to the people around us. As Christians, we may be the only encounter a person has with Jesus. They may never walk in a church, but they will see Jesus in you. They will either see His love, or a judgmental, uncaring God. We decide the type of example we will be, good or bad, but an example either way. If we are followers of Christ, we need to be sure we represent Him well.

Example, whether it be good or bad, has powerful influence.
~George Washington~

Character Tested

So Jonathan answered Saul, “David earnestly asked permission of me to go to Bethlehem. And he said, ‘Please let me go, for our family has a sacrifice in the city, and my brother has commanded me to be there. And now, if I have found favor in your eyes, please let me get away and see my brothers.’ Therefore he has not come to the king’s table.”

1 Samuel 20:28-29

The time came for Jonathan to put Saul to the test. I think Jonathan was really hoping his father would be an honorable man, but deep down, he knew better. Saul had already revealed his true character, and now he would be tested.

Jonathan gave Saul a reasonable explanation for David’s absence. Because he was in service to the king, David was away from his family all the time. He did not see them very often, and it was common for a family to make their sacrifice all together. As the youngest son, it would be normal for David’s brothers to command him to come home for a special occasion.

It seems as if Jonathan was lying to Saul, but we know he was a man of honor. We have seen his character through his friendship with David and as a warrior in his father’s army. More than likely, David did go to Bethlehem, just as Jonathan said. This way, Jonathan did not have to lie to Saul. What he said was the truth.

If we are going to be men and women of good character, we have to be men and women of truth.

With the loss of truth we forfeit profundity;
we are deprived of depth.
~Seamus Heaney~

Pride & Envy

And it happened the next day, the second day of the month, that David’s place was empty. And Saul said to Jonathan his son, “Why has the son of Jesse not come to eat, either yesterday or today?”

1 Samuel 20:27

It is the second day of the New Moon and again David was not at the kings table. If he had been unclean, he should be clean now and at the table with Saul. He was beginning to wonder what had happened to David. He was not worried about him, but he had a plan to kill him, and David was ruining his plan.

Look at what he called David; the son of Jesse. David was the son of a simple farmer. He was not royalty, like Saul. He was just the son of Jesse. How far Saul had gone from his humble beginning. Remember, Saul was from the smallest tribe in Israel. He was the first king, so he did not come from a royal line. He was a nobody, until God raised him up to be king.

Saul was no longer a humble man. He was a man of pride and, in his pride, jealousy was eating away at him. He looked down on David like he was nothing, and yet, at the same time, he was jealous of David. He was jealous of all he had done and how the people loved him.

It is important for all of us to learn from Saul’s life. God gave us the story of his life, so we can learn and not make the same mistakes. If we want to be used by God, we have to stay humble and allow God to use us. We also have to keep our eyes on the Lord and not man. If we look at other people, we will start to covet what they have or what they can do, just like Saul.

Envy of another man’s calling can work havoc in our own.
~Watchman Nee~

Nothing but the Blood

Now the king sat on his seat, as at other times, on a seat by the wall. And Jonathan arose, and Abner sat by Saul’s side, but David’s place was empty. Nevertheless Saul did not say anything that day, for he thought, “Something has happened to him; he is unclean, surely he is unclean.”

1 Samuel 20:25-26

The feast of the New Moon came and David was not at the king’s table, but Saul was not worried yet. He did not panic or get angry, because he assumed David was unclean and could not attend.

This is a very important part of the Jewish feasts and celebrations. If we go back to the Book of Leviticus, God gave Moses the Law of what is considered unclean and what a person had to do to become clean. If a person was unclean and took part in the feast or the Sabbath, they would be cut off from the nation of Israel. It was a great sin before the Lord.

If a person became unclean according to the Law, they had to wash themselves and their clothes and stay separated until evening, and then they would be clean. They would not be allowed to gather with the people until they were clean, or they would defile the people.

It was difficult to keep the Law, because you would be unclean if you touched a dead animal or a woman who gave birth was unclean.

When Christ came, He freed us from the bondage of the Law. We no longer have to make sacrifices and wash ourselves in ceremonies. Only the blood of Jesus Christ can really make us clean—nothing but the blood.

The blood of Christ is the seal of the testament.
~Henry Smith~

Godly Friendships

“and there I will send a lad, saying, ‘Go, find the arrows.’ If I expressly say to the lad, ‘Look, the arrows are on this side of you; get them and come’—then, as the Lord lives, there is safety for you and no harm. But if I say thus to the young man, ‘Look, the arrows are beyond you’—go your way, for the Lord has sent you away.”

1 Samuel 20:21-22

Jonathan and David came up with a plan, so he could warn David without anyone knowing. David would hide in the field and Jonathan would shoot some arrows. David would know whether to come home or run and hide, depending on where Jonathan shot the arrows and sent his armor bearer.

I believe God uses people to warn us, just like Jonathan was going to warn David, but we do not always take the warning from our friends. David listened to Jonathan, because he trusted him.

Many times, we do not listen to the warning because we do not trust the person warning us. Then, there are times we do not take the warning, because we think we are right and they are wrong.

It is so important to be open to the Holy Spirit. We should never follow someone’s word blindly, but we can bring it to the Lord in prayer. We can watch and see if there are any signs to confirm the warning is true. If we just write it off, we could find ourselves in big trouble, when God was trying to warn us the whole time. We cannot live our lives spiritually blind. If we surround ourselves with godly people, we will be able to trust them when they come to us with a warning, just as David trusted Jonathan.

It is the best and truest friend who honestly tells us the truth about ourselves even when he knows we shall not like it.
~R. C. H. Lenski~

Selfless Love

So Jonathan made a covenant with the house of David, saying, “Let the Lord require it at the hand of David’s enemies.” Now Jonathan again caused David to vow, because he loved him; for he loved himas he loved his own soul.

1 Samuel 20:16-17

That is a true friendship. Jonathan loved David as he loved his own soul, which means he would never betray David. He would die for him. That is true friendship; when you are willing to die for your friends you really love them.

Jonathan and David had the kind of friendship Jesus spoke of in John 15:13: Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one’s life for his friends. Jesus taught this love for one another, because He would go to the Cross for each one of us. His whole life was based upon loving us to the point of laying down His life. Jesus made this sacrifice for our salvation, and also as an example to us.

True love is selfless. If we truly love others, we are willing to make sacrifices for them. We put their needs above our own. That is the love Christ calls each one of us to have. Remember, he told us to deny ourselves, take up our crosses and follow Him (Matthew 16:24).

If we truly want to call ourselves Christians, followers of Christ, we must follow His example. We must deny ourselves and love others above ourselves, if we truly love the Lord.

If a man says he is a Christian but has no love,
he is simply deluding himself.
~Geoffrey Thomas~

Promises

“And you shall not only show me the kindness of the Lord while I still live, that I may not die; but you shall not cut off your kindness from my house forever, no, not when the Lord has cut off every one of the enemies of David from the face of the earth.”

1 Samuel 20:14-15

After Jonathan promised to protect David from any evil plans Saul had for him, he turned around and asked David to make a promise to him. No matter what happened between Saul and David, Jonathan wanted to be counted as a friend of David. He did not want the punishment for the sins of his father to fall on him and his children.

In Ezekiel 18:20, this was made a statute in Israel:

The soul who sins shall die. The son shall not bear the guilt of the father, nor the father bear the guilt of the son. The righteousness of the righteous shall be upon himself, and the wickedness of the wicked shall be upon himself.

Every person is accountable for their actions, whether righteous or wicked. An innocent person should not be held accountable for the sins of their family. Jonathan loved David and he did not want to lose his friend, if his father was planning evil against David. He knew he could trust David to be a man of his word and remain his friend, no matter what Saul did.

Jonathan and David were both men of their word. They did not have contracts; they made promises to each other and they kept their promises. We have to be like them, men and women of our word.

The life of an honest man is an oath.
~Richard Sibbes~

The Presence of God

Then Jonathan said to David: “The Lord God of Israel is witness! When I have sounded out my father sometime tomorrow, or the third day, and indeed there is good toward David, and I do not send to you and tell you, may the Lord do so and much more to Jonathan. But if it pleases my father to do you evil, then I will report it to you and send you away, that you may go in safety. And the Lord be with you as He has been with my father.”

1 Samuel 20:12-13

Jonathan gave David his word he would do what he could to find out Saul’s plan. He made God his witness, so he could not go back on his word, because he gave his word before the Lord. God would be a witness against him if he failed to do what David asked him to do. Jonathan recognized the presence of the Lord. He was always there and knew the intent of the heart.

I think it is important to remember the omnipresence of the Lord, which means God is in our midst all the time. He knows our thoughts, our words, our promises and our lies. Whatever we say or do, God is witness before us. We may be able to lie to others, but not to God.

When you think about the presence of God, it should make you want to live a life of holiness. Knowing God is with you, even in the dark when you are all alone; God sees what you are doing. Nothing is unknown to God.

Then, Jonathan sent David with the blessing of God’s presence in his life. God is with us always. For some it is a blessing, for others a curse.

This is the fundamental thing, the most serious of all; we are always in the presence of God.
~D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones~

Valentine’s Day

keep yourselves in the love of God, looking for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ unto eternal life. And on some have compassion, making a distinction; but others save with fear, pulling them out of the fire, hating even the garment defiled by the flesh.

Jude 21-23

On Valentine’s Day, most people think about romantic love. They think of flowers, heart-shaped candy, candlelight dinners and the person they love. There is nothing wrong with romantic love. It is great to celebrate Valentine’s Day with your husband or wife, boyfriend or girlfriend.

I think it is more important to understand who Saint Valentine was and what he stood for. He was a priest in Rome, who helped the people who were persecuted by Claudius II. He was tried for his crime against Rome and refused to renounce his faith in the Lord. Because he refused, he was beaten with clubs and beheaded on February 14. He would not turn from his faith in the Lord or from the people who were persecuted.

That is true love. It is love for every man, woman and child, with a desire to see every soul saved for Christ. It is a selfless love, seeking what is best for others over your own comfort. That was the love Valentine had for the people persecuted by Rome.

Today, we celebrate, not his birthday, but his death. We celebrate the life of a man who did not value his own life greater than others.

When you celebrate today, think about the souls of all the people you know. Love them into the kingdom of heaven, as you keep yourselves in the love of God and extend His great mercy.

God has never been casual about the condition of the lost.
~John Greenleaf Whittier~

Self-Examination

“If he says thus: ‘It is well,’ your servant will be safe. But if he is very angry, be sure that evil is determined by him. Therefore you shall deal kindly with your servant, for you have brought your servant into a covenant of the Lord with you. Nevertheless, if there is iniquity in me, kill me yourself, for why should you bring me to your father?”

1 Samuel 20:7-8

Jonathan would be the one to determine Saul’s intent, and tell David if he was safe or not. David was putting a great deal of faith in Jonathan, because he trusted him and the covenant they had made together.

Notice, David did not ask Jonathan to go against his father. He simply asked him to determine the heart and mind of Saul and let him know if he was in danger. Even though Saul was seeking David harm, David did not want to harm Saul. He was willing to run instead of fight Saul.

Then, David asked Jonathan to determine if there was iniquity in him. Jonathan did not only examine Saul’s intentions, but also the intentions of his good friend David. Can you imagine how hard this was for Jonathan? These were two men he loved, yet they were divided.

David loved and trusted Jonathan, so he asked him to kill him if any iniquity was found in him. I think David had examined his own heart and knew he had no evil intentions for Saul. He still loved Saul, but he knew his good friend would see anything bad in him.

It is so important to take an examination of our lives and be open to other people—people we are close to—who are close to God. They may see something we do not want to see in ourselves.

Search others for their virtues and thyself for thy vices.
~Thomas Fuller~

Abraham Lincoln’s Birthday

Now the Spirit expressly says that in latter times some will depart from the faith, giving heed to deceiving spirits and doctrines of demons, speaking lies in hypocrisy, having their own conscience seared with a hot iron,

1 Timothy 4:1-2

Today, we will hear the name of President Abraham Lincoln mentioned often. It seems as if there are many politicians who want to be associated with him, as he was a man of honor—a great president—a man we still celebrate on the anniversary of his birthday. He was the 16th president of the United States, and served the people during a very difficult time in our history. The nation was divided and he was trying to hold it together.

No matter what he faced from those who came against him, President Lincoln was a man of his word. He was not double minded. He did not speak one thing to one group and the exact opposite to another group. He was a man of conviction and did not compromise to make men happy.

What a great man and example of truth we have in President Lincoln. What a great standard he set as a man who knew God’s Word.

We are living in the days Paul spoke of to Timothy—the latter times. We see the deception, departing from the faith and hypocrisy all around us. We have to know God’s Word and stand upon it, when we are faced by both believers and non-believers who have accepted the lies of the enemy, or we will also be deceived by the lies.

As we celebrate the birth of a great leader, we have to pray for the leaders we have today. We need to pray for the Lord to raise up men and women who have the same conviction of truth as President Lincoln.

No man has a good enough memory to be a successful liar.
~Abraham Lincoln~

Open to Hear from God

And David said to Jonathan, “Indeed tomorrow is the New Moon, and I should not fail to sit with the king to eat. But let me go, that I may hide in the field until the third day at evening. If your father misses me at all, then say, ‘David earnestly asked permission of me that he might run over to Bethlehem, his city, for there is a yearly sacrifice there for all the family.’”

1 Samuel 20:5-6

Notice how the Lord had revealed so much to David, so he could make a plan to test the heart of Saul. David was a commander in Saul’s army, so he would sit with the king on the New Moon, for the special sacrifices. Even though Saul was seeking to kill him, he would still expect to see David at his table.

I think Saul’s expectation really reveals his heart and state of mind. He was trying to kill David. He threw spears at him and sent men out to get him, but still he expected David to sit at his table, like everything was normal.

Saul was so unstable; he did not have the common sense to know David was not coming back. David knew what Saul was doing, and he was running for his life. Somehow, he thought he had fooled David into thinking he was not in danger, but David knew the truth. He saw the heart of Saul.

God gave David discernment, just as He will give each one of us discernment, if we ask Him. God will speak to us through His Word, the Holy Spirit and prayer. We just have to be open to hear from Him.

God does not tell us all we want to know about anything, but He will tell us all we need to know.
~Vance Havner~

Faithful to God

So Jonathan said to David, “Whatever you yourself desire, I will do it for you.”

1 Samuel 20:4

It seems David’s conviction of Saul’s desire to kill him finally got through to Jonathan. Maybe the Lord convinced him of Saul’s determination to kill David. Either way, when faced with a choice, Jonathan remained faithful to David.

It is important to understand. Jonathan was not just faithful to David; he was faithful to the Lord. He saw the anointing of the Lord upon David and knew he was the next king. He accepted God’s plan and God’s will for his life and he supported God’s anointed.

When God is showing you something or telling you to do something and your friends or family do not agree, you have to follow the Lord. They may get angry with you or stop speaking to you, but you have to be faithful to the Lord. You have to submit to the will of the Lord.

You should not seek to have division with your family and friends, but stay right before the Lord. When we look at Jonathan’s life, he never disrespected his father. He never fought against Saul. He loved Saul and constantly tried to make him see the truth.

That is what we have to do. We have to love those who come against us. We need to show them God’s plan and pray for them. Then, we can give it over to the Lord and allow the Holy Spirit to open their eyes. Our responsibility is to submit to the Lord and be faithful to His will.

Faithfulness is our business; fruitfulness is an issue that we must be content to leave with God.
~J. I. Packer~

Destructive Jealousy

Then David took an oath again, and said, “Your father certainly knows that I have found favor in your eyes, and he has said, ‘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.”

1 Samuel 20:3

I see two important points in this verse. First, we see David understood the heart of Saul much better than his own son. He knew Saul hated him in his heart, and, because of this hatred, he was jealous of David’s relationship with Jonathan. He would not reveal his plans to Jonathan, because he was seeking to kill David, in order to make Jonathan king. Saul was jealous not only for his own position, but for his son. He wanted him to be the next king.

David not only understood Saul’s heart, but he knew how dangerous his situation was with Saul. He knew he was a dead man, if Saul had his way. Jonathan thought he could persuade Saul to leave David alone, but because he saw the true heart of Saul, David knew the time would come when Saul would try to kill him.

Jealousy is a big problem, not only in the world but in the church. Believe it or not, it is a problem in the church. People covet other people’s gifts, talents and positions. Like Saul, they are not content in the Lord. They seek their own plan, not the plan of God.

Remember, in all things, God is in control. He allows us to rebel, just like Saul, because we have free will, but He always provides opportunities for us to come back and repent.

Many lovely things pass out of life when jealousy comes in.
~Author Unknown~

Will of God

So Jonathan said to him, “By no means! You shall not die! Indeed, my father will do nothing either great or small without first telling me. And why should my father hide this thing from me? It is not so!”

1 Samuel 20:2

Notice the confidence and trust Jonathan had in his father. He truly believed Saul would be honest with him and let him know his plans for David, but he was greatly deceived. Saul knew Jonathan was with David and would no longer trust him. In Saul’s mind, Jonathan was an enemy. He was not on Saul’s side.

Saul had a real problem. He was consumed with self. Everything was about him and what he wanted. He was not a servant to the people; he was a king, lording over the people. He thought of himself first and then others.

From the beginning of Saul’s leadership, we saw his character when he hid from the people. He was not a great leader, but God gave him the opportunity to serve Him and serve the people. Had he been faithful to the Lord, he would have been a great leader, but he chose to reject God.

Remember, the people rejected God and asked for a king. God allowed Saul to be king, but it was not His choice. Saul became the choice of the people. He did not obey God’s Word and God took away His anointing, leaving him to try and hold onto the kingdom against the will of God.

When we step out of God’s will, we can work and strive with everything we have, but we will not succeed. God will not allow it.

The greatest folly in the universe
is to oppose the will of God.
~David Thomas~

Loyalty

Then David fled from Naioth in Ramah, and went and said to Jonathan, “What have I done? What is my iniquity, and what is my sin before your father, that he seeks my life?”

1 Samuel 20:1

Forced to leave Naioth, because Saul kept sending men to take him, David went to Jonathan to see if he was still his friend. While Saul was pursuing David, his son, Jonathan, remained loyal to David. He was not influenced by Saul’s hatred, because he knew David was a man of honor.

We need to be loyal; loyal to God; loyal to one another. If someone comes against us, we have to come to them and get everything out in the open. Ask them what they have against you. Ask them how you have offended them. Seek to end any division in your life.

When I think about loyalty and betrayal, I think about Judas Iscariot. He walked with Jesus, the Son of God, for three and a half years, but he was not loyal to Him. Even when the Lord gave him the chance to admit his betrayal, he did not take it. He continued to betray the Lord.

Think about all the things Judas saw Jesus do. He healed the sick, fed the five thousand, raised the dead and ministered to all the people, all the time. Judas knew He was innocent, like David, but he still betrayed Him. He did not stand by Him, like Jonathan stood by David.

David went to Jonathan to see if he was still a friend or if he was swayed by his father. Are we loyal to people or swayed by others? Are we Jonathan or Judas?

Reverent fear of God is the key to faithfulness
in any situation.
~Alan Redpath~

God Warns

And he also stripped off his clothes and prophesied before Samuel in like manner, and lay down naked all that day and all that night. Therefore they say, “Is Saul also among the prophets?”

1 Samuel 19:24

In Verses 19 through 21, Saul sent messengers to Naioth to bring David back. He pursued David in his desire to kill him, but God had other plans. Every time the messengers arrived, they would begin to prophesy. The Spirit of the Lord came upon them.

It may seem like prophesying before the Lord would be a great thing to have happen to you, but it was a warning. In those times, the Holy Spirit was not poured out upon all those who walked with God. If He came upon you, God had a reason. Three times the messengers came and three times they prophesied. They went away without David.

Finally, in frustration, Saul decided to go himself. When he went to Naioth to get David, he began to prophecy. Not only that, he took off his clothes and laid down before the Lord all day and all night. God humbled Saul. He made him remove his royal clothes and lay naked, probably in his underwear, before the Lord. Saul was full of pride, so God had to humble him.

This is a warning to all of us. If we think we can stand before the Lord in pride, He will humble us. He will give us chance after chance to humble ourselves, but if we refuse, He will do it for us. That is His great love, grace and mercy.

When we take to ourselves the place that is God’s, the whole course of our lives is out of joint.
~A. W. Tozer~

Godly Fellowship

So David fled and escaped, and went to Samuel at Ramah, and told him all that Saul had done to him. And he and Samuel went and stayed in Naioth.

1 Samuel 19:18

When faced with a great trial, a friend has become an enemy; David wisely went to a godly man for guidance. Everything was falling apart, so David departed and went to Samuel for support. Remember, Samuel was the one who went to David’s home and anointed him king of Israel.

David told Samuel all the things Saul had been doing. It must have broken Samuel’s heart to hear of the depths Saul had sunk. At one time, Samuel walked with Saul, as he was the anointed king of Israel, but as he walked further from the Lord, and disobeyed God’s commands, Samuel had to leave him. He could no longer walk in fellowship with him.

I think Samuel still loved Saul, but he could no longer have fellowship with him. In 2 Corinthians 6:14, Paul the Apostle said:

Do not be unequally yoked together with unbelievers. For what fellowship has righteousness with lawlessness? And what communion has light with darkness?

Most people read this verse and think Paul was speaking of marriage, but it does not only apply to marriage, it also applies to any close bond. As Christians, we live in this world, but we are not of this world. We cannot have intimate fellowship with darkness without it affecting our walks with the Lord.

A man is known by the company he shuns as well as by the company he keeps.
~C. H. Spurgeon~

With Christ or Without Him

Then Saul said to Michal, “Why have you deceived me like this, and sent my enemy away, so that he has escaped?” And Michal answered Saul, “He said to me, ‘Let me go! Why should I kill you?’”

1 Samuel 19:17

In Verses 13 and 14, we saw the heart of Michal. Just as we were able to see Saul walk away from the Lord step by step, we are able to see Michal do the same thing. While Jonathan was a godly man, unlike his father, Michal followed in Saul’s footsteps. She lived a life of compromise. She preferred to make sacrifices to the Lord, to seek forgiveness instead of being obedient to the Lord.

Earlier, Michal lied to her father to protect David, and in this verse, she lied to her father to protect herself. While trying to protect herself, she betrayed David, the man she loved.

Clearly, Michal did not understand love, and she did not have a close relationship with the Lord. Her life and her convictions were influenced by Saul. She could have chosen to live a life of obedience, especially after seeing the mess of Saul’s life, but she chose to walk in his shoes.

This is a decision we all have to make. Some of us grow up in homes with great, godly examples. Our parents love the Lord and teach us to love Him. Many of us grow up in very worldly homes where our parents are either natural people or carnal Christians, so we do not learn how to be godly men or women. No matter what example you grow up with, you eventually have to make a decision—walk with Christ or without Him.

Every man’s life is his opportunity of doing that which will make for him in eternity.
~Matthew Henry~

Gradual Compromise

And Michal took an image and laid it in the bed, put a cover of goats’ hair for his head, and covered it with clothes. So when Saul sent messengers to take David, she said, “He is sick.”

1 Samuel 19:13-14

The word image in this verse is teraphim in the Hebrew and it means “household idol”. We find it also in Genesis 31:19. Rachel had taken the household idol from her father before leaving with Jacob. Traditionally, in Israel, these images or idols were not recognized as false gods, but as instruments to worship God.

In Exodus 20:4, in the Ten Commandments, it says: “You shall not make for yourself a carved image …” God had told them not to make images and worship them, yet Michal had a carved image, an idol, used to worship God. She was in sin. She had disregarded the commandments of the Lord.

While David had a close relationship with God, he married a woman who did not walk closely with the Lord. Michal was a product of the family she grew up in and compromise was at the heart of their walk with God. Just as we saw Saul slowly move away from God, we will see Michal walking away from God and living a compromised life.

It is interesting. Most people, who fall away from God, do not really fall away. They actually walk away from God by their own free will and when you look back on their lives, you see the steps. You see how gradually they go from a faithful walk with the Lord to a life of compromise. It does not just happen. There are many signs along the way.

Accommodation leads to accommodation—which leads to accommodation.
~Francis Schaeffer~

Loyalty to God

Saul also sent messengers to David’s house to watch him and to kill him in the morning. And Michal, David’s wife, told him, saying, “If you do not save your life tonight, tomorrow you will be killed.” So Michal let David down through a window. And he went and fled and escaped.

1 Samuel 19:11-12

David’s wife, Michal, warned him of Saul’s plans to kill him. Remember, Michal was Saul’s daughter, and Saul gave her to David to be a snare to him. He was hoping to use Michal against David, but Michal loved David, so she warned him.

Both of Saul’s children were on David’s side. They were not helping Saul destroy David but were helping David avoid Saul’s traps. Isn’t that interesting? They were not loyal to their father, instead they were faithful to David—the man after God’s own heart.

This is a very important lesson for all of us. We cannot stand with someone we love if they are doing something wrong, especially if they are going against the Lord. In the same way, we cannot expect people to be loyal to us, if we are in sin. It is impossible for godly people to approve of your sin.

It is not only important to not support someone who is in sin, but as Jonathan and Michal did, we must stand for what is right. We must do what we can to stop the plans of evil against an innocent person. In our society today, people do not want to get involved, but God is teaching us a lesson here. If we stand with God, we have to stand with His people.

Christians do not have to live; they have only to be faithful to Jesus Christ, not only until death but unto death is necessary.
~Vance Havner~

The Downfall of Pride

Then Saul sought to pin David to the wall with the spear, but he slipped away from Saul’s presence; and he drove the spear into the wall. So David fled and escaped that night.

1 Samuel 19:10

Israel was at war with the Philistines. Saul had a spear and David had a harp, but David was more prepared for war than Saul. He was a man led by the Lord, where Saul was led by jealousy. He allowed the enemy to whisper lies in his ears and because he lacked spiritual guidance, he was led by the lies instead of the truth.

Saul needed David. He needed him to play music to soothe his soul, and he needed the warrior. Remember, David was undefeated in war. The women sang of the ten thousand David had killed, while Saul only slayed a thousand. David was a better warrior and a better leader. Saul needed him, but in his pride, he drove him off.

It was not only Saul who needed David. God had anointed David to be king of Israel. The people needed a godly leader. They needed a man who was anointed by God and led by the Spirit of God.

In his heart, Saul knew David was the man he would never be and his jealousy consumed him. Pride prevented him from being faithful to the people he was supposed to serve, so he held onto the throne, even though David was the better man.

When we refuse to follow the Lord, He will raise someone else up. If we choose to hold on, God will remove us eventually and it will not be good.

There is but a step between a proud man’s glory
and his disgrace.
~Publilius Syrus~

Controlled by Emotion

Now the distressing spirit from the Lord came upon Saul as he sat in his house with his spear in his hand. And David was playing music with his hand.

1 Samuel 19:9

In Verse 8, the war with the Philistines started up, and David had to stand for Israel against the enemy. However, he had another enemy coming against him; the distressing spirit was coming upon Saul and David would be his target once again.

There was a huge spiritual war going on in Saul’s house, where David lived. Saul had been calm for a while, after Jonathan reminded him of David’s loyalty, but the peace did not continue. The reason peace was not kept was because of the spiritual condition of Saul; he was not being led by the Lord. Instead, he was being harassed by a spirit of the Lord. He no longer had a stable mind.

Once the spirit of the Lord departed from Saul, his life was over. He could not lead the men in war and make wise decisions, because the Lord was not guiding his life. Without God, he did not have wisdom, knowledge or control. He was controlled by his emotions; loving and hating David.

People in the world are without sound reason. They are easily controlled by their emotions, because they are not led by the Lord. Without the Lord leading and guiding our lives, we have nothing else to guide us but our emotions, and Satan loves to mess with our emotions. If we allow ourselves to be controlled by our emotions, we open the door for Satan to mess with us, just like Saul.

If you are limping around on the crutches of feelings, throw them away and walk on the legs of faith.
~Ronald Dunn~

Spiritual Warfare

And there was war again; and David went out and fought with the Philistines, and struck them with a mighty blow, and they fled from him.

1 Samuel 19:8

No sooner had David and Saul been reconciled, than war began again with the Philistines. There was no time of rest for David. He was either running from Saul or going out to battle for Saul. David never got the chance to rest and relax.

It is the same for all of us. When people come to the Lord, they often think all their problems will go away. If they are walking with the Lord, He is not going to allow anything bad to come. Let me explain something to you; when you come to the Lord, you have made a very big enemy in Satan and he has a big army, with the one-third of the angels who fell with him.

Walking with the Lord does not mean we no longer have trials and tribulations. It actually means we have a new adversary. Peter said: Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour (1 Peter 5:8).

Even with this new enemy, we do not have to fear, because like David, we do not walk through these battles alone. God is on our side and He is with us through the battles. When we are weary, we can rest in Him, knowing He never sleeps but diligently keeps watch over us. I think David knew he did not have to fear the battles, because he knew God, and his faith and trust was in Him completely.

It strikes me that conflict is the principal feature of the Christian life this side of heaven.
~C. H. Spurgeon~

Godly Friendship

Then Jonathan called David, and Jonathan told him all these things. So Jonathan brought David to Saul, and he was in his presence as in times past.

1 Samuel 19:7

Look at the bond between David and Jonathan. It was a bond made by the Lord and it could not be broken by Saul. Jonathan’s father could not break the friendship of David and Jonathan. Because of his close friendship with David, Jonathan did not only protect David, but he brought reconciliation. David was once more in the presence of Saul, just as he had been in the past.

We can see the real work Jonathan did when he reminded Saul of David’s faithfulness. David was not only allowed to come back, but things were as they had been in the past. Saul had been convinced of David’s innocence.

Jonathan and David teach us what true friendship looks like. It means being closer than a brother. It means sacrificing for your friend. Proverbs 17:17 says: A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for adversity. Jesus said: Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one’s life for his friends (John 15:13).

God’s Word is clear when speaking of friendship. We are to be faithful and loyal to our friends, especially during bad times. That is what Jesus called us to be; friends willing to lay down our lives for one another. Our hearts are truly revealed when those closest to us are in adversity. Will you stand with your friends, or run away? What kind of friend are you?

Friendship is the greatest of worldly goods. Certainly to me it is the chief happiness of life.
~C. S. Lewis~

Godly Influence

So Saul heeded the voice of Jonathan, and Saul swore, “As the Lord lives, he shall not be killed.”

1 Samuel 19:6

We see the true character and faithfulness of Jonathan. He was a man influenced by the Lord, more than he was influenced by his father, Saul. He could have gone along with Saul and tried to have David killed, so he could have the throne next, but instead he obeyed the Lord. He saw God’s anointing upon David and did not come against him. Jonathan was a man of integrity.

On the other hand, Saul was on a roller coaster ride, moved by every idea and argument given to him. Remember, God was already dealing with Saul; the spirit of the Lord was no longer in Saul’s life, and he was harassed by a distressing spirit. He was no longer hearing from God; no longer led by the Lord. He had no integrity, for he would seek to kill a man who was faithful to him and to the kingdom of Israel.

It is important to look at the lives of the people we are surrounded by, because they are going to have some influence on our lives and the decisions we make. If we surround ourselves with people who are living carnal lives, we will excuse our behavior because it is not as bad as theirs.

We have to be like Jonathan and be influenced by the Lord and His Word. If we spend our time in prayer, in the Word of God and in fellowship with other true believers, we will make godly choices. We will be men and women of integrity, and God will use us tremendously.

The three most important ingredients in Christian work are integrity, integrity, integrity.
~Charles Colson~

Wound or Kill

“For he took his life in his hands and killed the Philistine, and the Lord brought about a great deliverance for all Israel. You saw it and rejoiced. Why then will you sin against innocent blood, to kill David without a cause?”

1 Samuel 19:5

Jonathan continued to speak the truth to Saul. He continued making the case for David’s innocence. David had not only been faithful to Saul, but he had been faithful to Israel. He put his own life on the line to defeat Israel’s enemies. David did all this for Israel and what was his reward? Saul wanted to kill him without cause. He was willing to sin against innocent blood.

This is something we need to be careful with, because sometimes the devil comes along and he makes us hate people without cause. It not only happens in the world, but it happens in the church all the time. It seems to always come back to pride and jealousy. When a Christian hates another person, they are operating in the flesh, not the Spirit.

Think about it. We are not surprised when people hate each other, even in the church, among Christians. They may not try to kill the person physically, but they do wound or kill their character. They turn people against the person they are jealous of, just like Saul was trying to do.

If you are reading this and realize you are doing this or you have done this to another person, you have to examine your own heart. Is your heart right with God? We know Saul’s heart was not right with God. It is not too late to make things right with God and with the person you have tried to kill.

Jealousy is the raw material of murder.
~Author Unknown~

Speak Truth

Thus Jonathan spoke well of David to Saul his father, and said to him, “Let not the king sin against his servant, against David, because he has not sinnedagainst you, and because his works havebeen very good toward you.”

1 Samuel 19:4

In this situation between Saul and David, we see Jonathan’s great love for both men. He was concerned for David’s physical life and Saul’s spiritual life. When he spoke up and confronted his father, he did it out of great love and concern for both men, while he was putting himself in danger.

At this point in Saul’s life, he was very unstable. He had already sinned against the Lord in so many ways. Jonathan had no idea how he would react when he spoke in favor of David. Saul could have flown into a rage, but Jonathan made it personal for Saul. He showed him his own sinful actions in the situation.

David was innocent of any sin against Saul. He had been a faithful servant to Saul. He loved Saul. Jonathan made sure to remind Saul of all the good David had done for him. While the enemy was whispering lies in Saul’s ears, Jonathan was pointing out the truth of David’s faithfulness.

There are so many times, we remain silent when the Lord is telling us to speak up, to speak the truth. We worry for our own safety instead of following the prompting of the Holy Spirit. When God leads you to speak out for Him, you cannot be silent. You must trust in Him and speak the truth for all to hear, just like Jonathan did.

If I speak what is false, I must answer for it; if truth,
it will answer for me.
~Thomas Fuller~

Hard Choices

“And I will go out and stand beside my father in the field where you are, and I will speak with my father about you. Then what I observe, I will tell you.”

1 Samuel 19:3

When Jonathan chose to be obedient to the Lord and refused to help Saul kill David, he went even further and protected David. He refused to be a part of evil and decided to work against the wiles of the enemy and save David.

This is important to understand. Saul was no longer walking with the Lord. He was no longer being led by the Holy Spirit. He was now a weapon of the enemy. Satan was whispering in his ears, trying to destroy the man God had anointed to be the next king of Israel.

We have to realize, we are either serving the Lord or we are serving the enemy. We are either being led by the Holy Spirit or controlled by our flesh and Satan. When we walk away from the Lord, as Saul did, we leave ourselves wide open for the enemy to use our lives.

I do not think people allow Satan to use them willingly. When people are in the world, satisfying their flesh, doing evil things, they think they are in control of their own lives. In reality, they are in the trap Satan set for them. They are being used by him for his evil ways.

Just like Jonathan, we will all face hard choices. We all have to make a stand for righteousness, or we will walk in unrighteousness. We have to fear the Lord, more than we love the world and our flesh.

The destined end of man is not happiness, not health, but holiness. God’s one aim is the production of saints.
~Oswald Chambers~

Choose God

So Jonathan told David, saying, “My father Saul seeks to kill you. Therefore please be on your guard until morning, and stay in a secret place and hide.”

1 Samuel 19:2

Jonathan was in a very difficult position. He loved his father, Saul, and he loved his friend, David. He had to decide whether to be faithful to Saul or faithful to David, because he could not be faithful to both. However, he did have a third choice. He could be faithful to the Lord, and do what was right before the Lord.

Jonathan decided to be faithful to the Lord. When he went to David, he did not betray Saul, he was faithful to the Lord. He did not allow an innocent man to be killed. He tried to save his father from sinning against God and taking an innocent life.

By choosing to be obedient to the Lord, Jonathan was faithful to both David and Saul. He had both their best interests in mind when he revealed Saul’s plan to David.

We all have to make choices like this every day. We live in this world and see things that are a sin against the Lord, but we choose to be faithful to the Lord. Many of us have family members who are not saved: mothers and fathers. When we choose to be obedient to the Lord, we will honor our family even if we do not agree with them.

That is what God is looking for; men and women who will follow Him and be obedient to Him, when faced with the tough choices.

All moral obligation resolves itself into the obligation of conformity to the will of God.
~Charles Hodge~

Blinded to Sin

Now Saul spoke to Jonathan his son and to all his servants, that they should kill David; but Jonathan, Saul’s son, delighted greatly in David.

1 Samuel 19:1

Saul had hate in his heart for David, and he did not keep it to himself. He was actually exposing and infecting everyone around him with hate. In his desire to kill David, Saul was commanding his servants to sin and kill David, and at the same time, putting Jonathan in a hard position. Jonathan loved Saul, but he also loved David. He did not want to hurt either one of them.

This is a very dangerous thing to do. We all have the power to cause others to sin, to have bitterness and anger in their hearts, with just the words we speak. We can lead people to love people, and we can also lead them to hate people. As Christians, we are called to love, even our enemies, so if we lead people to hate, we are sinning against God.

It is important to understand; if we have something to say to someone, something against them, we need to go directly to the person. Do not go out and speak against them to everyone; do not spread it. You will ruin a person’s character.

As we continue to go through 1 Samuel, we see Saul move further and further away from the Lord, and more sinful in each chapter. Take note of this and examine your own lives. Are you seeking to be closer to God or further from Him? If you withdraw from Him, sin will take over your life and you will end up like Saul—blinded to sin.

It is dangerous to backslide in any degree,
for we know not to what it may lead.
~C. H. Spurgeon~

Choose Righteousness

And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a debased mind,to do those things which are not fitting;

Romans 1:28

Paul the Apostle wrote to the Christians in Rome and gave us the Book of Romans. I have said it before, but I have to remind you. He was writing to the church. He was not writing to non-believers. In the very beginning of his letter, he addressed those who chose unrighteous living over righteous living.

As I read this chapter, I thought about Calvary Chapel and the people coming here on Sunday mornings and evenings, and Wednesday nights. I thought about all the people who come to this church and other churches, and yet they are hooked on alcohol or drugs; they are in sexual sin: pornography, fornication, adultery and homosexuality. They sit in the services every week and they hear the Word of God, but they are not convicted. They have chosen to live in unrighteousness. With this choice, they have also chosen the wrath of God.

When you get to a place in your life where the Word of God is being taught and you do not get convicted, you better check your heart. God wants to make a difference in our lives, not just once in a lifetime, but every single day. If He makes a difference in my life every day, I am going to have the joy of the Lord and I am going to get through the day.

If I am not in my devotions every day, I am a different person; I am in the flesh. I am choosing unrighteousness. Choose righteousness; choose God!

Righteousness is a commitment to a relationship.
~Don Garlington~

Closer Than a Brother

A friend loves at all times, and a brotheris born for adversity.

Proverbs 17:17

We all have people in our lives we have known for a long time; they are like brothers and sisters. They have been by our sides through the good times and through the bad times. Many times, they are your closest friends and not your brothers and sisters by blood. Sometimes, as we give our lives to the Lord and move in different directions, our families are separated from us.

When this happens, we should not be surprised. Jesus told us this would happen:

“For from now on five in one house will be divided: three against two, and two against three. Father will be divided against son and son against father, mother against daughter and daughter against mother, mother-in-law against her daughter-in-law and daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law” (Luke 12:52-53).

Families will be divided because of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Satan will come in and cause division using pride and jealousy. As God uses your life, those closest to you may become jealous. They may want to be used the same way. Maybe you are the one who is jealous of a brother or sister, and Satan has used you to cause division.

If we truly want to be used by God, we cannot allow ourselves to be used as instruments of division. We have to be a friend who loves at all times.

Friendship is the greatest of worldly goods. Certainly to me it is the chief happiness of life.
~C. S. Lewis~

Live as an Example

Then the princes of the Philistines went out to war. And so it was, whenever they went out, that David behaved more wisely than all the servants of Saul, so that his name became highly esteemed.

1 Samuel 18:30

David is known as “a man after God’s own heart.” From an early age, David had a humble heart and he was a man of integrity. As a young man, he came into Saul’s household and was greatly loved by Saul and his sons. His humble heart was evident to all those in Saul’s house and with the men he fought with, so the people loved and respected him. Because of his actions from the time he was a young man, his name was highly esteemed. When someone spoke of David, it was always with high praise.

While the people loved him, his enemies respected him. They may not have loved him, but they knew he was a fierce warrior and had earned their respect. Both his friends and enemies recognized the hand of God was upon him.

David is a great example to all of us. People are watching us all the time. Some of them are friends and some are enemies, but they are all watching us to see and hear what we are going to do and say. They want to see how we represent the Lord.

When we represent the Lord correctly, in His love, grace and mercy, then people are drawn to us and to God. When we misrepresent the Lord, people do not want anything to do with the Lord. In anger, pride and judgment, we can push people away from the Lord. Think about how you represent the Lord to your family, friends and enemies.

Live to explain thy doctrine by thy life.
~Matthew Prior~

Martin Luther King Jr. Day

Now the Lord spoke to Paul in the night by a vision, “Do not be afraid, but speak, and do not keep silent; for I am with you, and no one will attack you to hurt you; for I have many people in this city.”

Acts 18:9-10

The Lord spoke to Paul at night and told him to speak and not keep silent. Even though there were many who would silence Paul, the Lord commanded him to speak truth, for He would be with Paul.

When I look at the life of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., I wonder if he heard these same words from the Lord. There were many who would have him remain silent, but he knew the Lord and he spoke in truth, with the Lord’s protection.

Both the Apostle Paul and Dr. King are great examples to each one of us. As Christians, are we to remain silent in the face of injustice or speak out in truth? We have to make a decision. If we remain silent, we have already chosen.

Look at the world around us. Christians are being persecuted around the world, and many remain silent. This last year in the Middle East, we saw many churches, mosques and holy sites blown up and destroyed by radicals, while the world remained silent. The Christians in Mosul, Iraq were run out of town and no one intervened.

We all have one life to live and what we do for the Lord is the only thing that will last. If we remain silent in the face of injustice, we are merely existing, not living for the Lord.

Our lives begin to end the day we become silent
about things that matter.
~Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.~

God’s Faithfulness

Thus Saul saw and knew that the Lord was with David, and that Michal, Saul’s daughter, loved him; and Saul was still more afraid of David. So Saul became David’s enemy continually.

1 Samuel 18:28-29

Underline Verse 28 in your Bibles. Saul saw and knew God was with David. It was evident in David’s life. Saul could see the anointing of the Lord upon David. With David on his side, Saul should have been happy to see the blessing of God upon David, but instead he was more afraid of David and became his enemy.

David was faithful and a great benefit to Saul and the children of Israel. God’s hand was upon him and his men when they went out to battle. David fought for the Lord and for the children of Israel. He would never turn against Saul, but Saul was his enemy.

The further Saul walked away from the Lord, the more he feared David. He knew God had taken His hand away from Saul and he could see the hand of God upon David. In Saul’s mind, David’s anointing made him his enemy.

It is the same thing for many Christians. When they come to the Lord, their families and friends see the anointing upon their foreheads, and they become the enemy, because they are so far from God. It is very hard for many new believers, because their families and friends turn on them. David’s life is an encouragement to all of us. No matter who turns against us, God is on our side. He is faithful, when all have forsaken us.

Though men are false, God is faithful.
~Matthew Henry~

God’s Protection

So when his servants told David these words, it pleased David well to become the king’s son-in-law. Now the days had not expired; therefore David arose and went, he and his men, and killed two hundred men of the Philistines. And David brought their foreskins, and they gavethem in full count to the king, that he mightbecome the king’s son-in-law. Then Saulgave him Michal his daughter as a wife.

1 Samuel 18:26-27

Saul’s servants told David Saul would accept the foreskins of 100 Philistines as a dowry for his daughter Michal. It is important to recognize; David had already provided a dowry. He had already defeated Goliath for Saul’s first daughter, Merab, but Saul was not a man of his word. He gave her to another man.

David could have gotten angry with Saul. It was obvious Saul was playing games and manipulating the situation, but David did not get angry. Instead, he was pleased with what he heard. He was not only willing to provide the dowry, but he gathered his men and went out to fulfill the terms of the dowry. David wanted Michal as his wife.

In his humility and obedience, David was successful, because the Lord was with him. God gave him the victory over the Philistines, just as He gives us the victory over our enemies, when we are obedient to His call in our lives. We do not have to worry about those who come against us, as long as we are right before the Lord. If we have the Lord on our side, we have no reason to fear man and his evil plans.

We need not look upon those enemies with fear whom God looks upon with contempt.
~Matthew Henry~

Spiritual Eyes

And the servants of Saul told him, saying, “In this manner David spoke.” Then Saul said, “Thus you shall say to David: ‘The king does not desire any dowry but one hundred foreskins of the Philistines, to take vengeance on the king’s enemies.’” But Saul thought to makeDavid fall by the hand of the Philistines.

1 Samuel 18:24-25

As Saul prepared to give his daughter Michal to David, he continued to scheme and use David’s humble spirit against him. He did not ask for anything from David, himself, he used his servants to pass along suggestions. He wanted David to think he was doing things on his own, but Saul was really manipulating him, trying to get him killed.

Having David go after the Philistines to provide a dowry for Michal would accomplish two things for Saul. He would kill more of his enemies and possibly kill David too. Saul would reach his goals no matter what it took and who got hurt.

Operating in his flesh, Saul could no longer see David as God intended him to be used. Instead of seeing the blessing David was to him, because of his humility and faithfulness, Saul used his loyalty to try and kill him. He no longer saw David through spiritual eyes.

When we get our eyes off the Lord and we begin to serve our flesh, we no longer have a godly perspective. We no longer see the blessings God has put right in front of our eyes. David would be loyal to Saul until the very end, but Saul was too blinded by his flesh to see it. Do not be like Saul. Do not miss God’s blessing before you in order to serve the flesh.

Envy is a settled, crooked malice.
~Thomas Manton~

Power & Integrity

But it happened at the time when Merab, Saul’s daughter, should have been given to David, that she was given to Adriel the Meholathite as a wife. Now Michal, Saul’s daughter, loved David. And they told Saul,and the thing pleased him.

1 Samuel 18:19-20

Again, we see Saul was not a man of integrity. He promised his first daughter to the man who defeated the giant, Goliath. Then, he told David he would give him his daughter Merab, but he went back on his word. He gave Merab to another man, instead.

Saul was playing games with David. At one time he loved David, and now, because of jealousy, he is suspicious of him and wanted him dead. Clearly, the hand of God was no longer upon Saul. He was acting in his flesh, controlled by his emotions.

Still wanting David dead, Saul decided to give him Michal, his second daughter. In Verse 21, he said: “I will give her to him, that she may be a snare to him, and that the hand of the Philistines may be against him.”

Saul’s hate for David was so deep; he would use his daughter to bring him down. The only person he cared about was himself. He no longer cared for the people, or his own family. He wanted only to protect his throne.

We have to be careful when we are given positions of power. Without the leading and guiding of the Holy Spirit, Satan will use the power to destroy us. We have to be men and women of integrity, led by the Lord.

Power tends to corrupt and absolute power
corrupts absolutely.
~Lord Acton~

Pure Motives

So David said to Saul, “Who am I, and what is my life or my father’s family in Israel, that I should beson-in-law to the king?”

1 Samuel 18:18

David said, “Who am I?” He was so humble before Saul. He was a simple shepherd, from a simple family, and Saul was the king of Israel. While Saul was planning and plotting for him to be killed by the Philistines, David was humbled and honored to be considered as a husband for the king’s daughter. He thought it was a blessing, and Saul thought it was an opportunity to kill him.

Think about the purpose and the motive people have in their hearts. On the outside, it looks so nice, a blessing, but the intent of the heart of Saul was evil. David did not see it, but God saw Saul’s heart. God was not going to allow Saul to kill David.

I think it is very important to examine the intent of your heart, because God looks at it every day. We may be able to fool people about our motives, but we can never fool God. He knows whether we intend something for good or for evil.

Saul had a real problem with his heart. He was rebellious, jealous, suspicious and evil in his heart. He was not a man after God’s heart. He was looking out for his own best interest.

As sons and daughters of the King, we are called to die to self, deny ourselves, pick up our crosses and follow Christ. If we do this, we will have pure motives in our actions.

It is universally recognized that what we do matters
less than why we do it.
~John R. W. Stott~

Desire Conviction

Then Saul said to David, “Here is my older daughter Merab; I will give her to you as a wife. Only be valiant for me, and fight the Lord’s battles.” For Saul thought, “Let my hand not be against him, but let the hand of the Philistines be against him.”

1 Samuel 18:17

Again, it seems Saul had forgiven David and was no longer angry. He was going to honor his promise to give his daughter to the man who defeated Goliath. Saul appeared honorable before David and the people, but his heart was dishonorable.

In his heart, Saul wanted the people to like him. He did not want them to turn against him if he killed David, so he pretended to honor David. He would ask David for a dowry for his daughter, which was expected during this time, and David would die at the hands of the Philistines. Saul’s problem would be solved.

Wow! Saul was moving further and further away from the Lord. He was operating from the flesh. His fears and suspicions were controlling his thoughts and his actions. He felt no conviction for the bad things he was doing to David. Saul was not just coming against David; he was coming against the Lord, but with his heart condition, he did not know it. His heart was hardened.

As Christians, conviction is important in our lives, because it tells us we are still hearing from the Lord. If we are feeling convicted, our hearts are not hardened against the Lord.

Conviction of sin is essentially an awareness of a wrong relationship with God.
~J. C. Ryle~

God’s Warning

Therefore, when Saul saw that he behaved very wisely, he was afraid of him. But all Israel and Judah loved David, because he went out and came in before them.

1 Samuel 18:15-16

David was captain over one thousand of Saul’s fighting men and he behaved wisely before man and before God. He was a great leader under Saul; representing the king well before the people. Saul should have been so happy to have such a wise leader serving him, but he was not happy, he was afraid.

Instead of Saul being thankful for the God fearing man serving him, obedient to him, he was afraid. He was suspicious. He was jealous. He was all these insecure things, yet he was the king. He was not secure in his position, because the Lord had left him. He no longer had godly wisdom. He was ruling in the flesh.

If you start feeling insecure, suspicious and jealous, or you think somebody is going to take over your position, you need to check your heart. Either you are imagining things or maybe God is telling you to correct your life before it is too late. Always check your heart: where you are going, what you are doing, what you are doing in private, when people are not watching you.

Saul was not crazy. David was not trying to take him down, but God was revealing the truth to him. God would take him down and lift David up. It was coming. Be sensitive to the Holy Spirit and always examine your hearts and lives. God warns before He chastens—so heed the warnings of God and avoid His chastisement.

By chastening, the Lord separates the sin that He hates
from the sinner whom He loves.
~Author Unknown~

Sin Costs

Now Saul was afraid of David, because the Lord was with him, but had departed from Saul.

1 Samuel 18:12

How sad it is to read these words. I underlined them, because I do not want the same thing to happen to me. I do not want the Lord to depart from me. That would be the worst thing I could ever imagine. Once you have walked with the Lord, and experienced the presence of the Holy Spirit, having Him depart would be terrible.
Notice, Saul was afraid of David. He knew he could not succeed against David, because the Lord was with him. Without the Lord on his side, Saul would never defeat David. He was afraid, because his time on the throne was threatened. God was going to take him down.
I have seen this in Calvary Chapel after serving the Lord for 40 years. There have seen people with the anointing of God, being used tremendously, and then God took them down because of sin. It is not because God wants to take anyone down, but He cannot allow sin in His ministry.
There is a real danger for people serving in the ministry. Billy Graham knew this and created the Modesto Manifesto with his leaders. Graham and his leaders made a pact to avoid money, immorality, exaggeration and criticism. These are the things he knew could disqualify them from the ministry.
Just like Saul and Billy Graham, these things can disqualify us from being used by the Lord. If we allow ourselves to give into the temptation of these things, God will depart from us and we will not be used.
Sin is the most expensive thing in the universe.
Nothing else can cost so much.
~Charles G. Finney~

Sin Costs

Now Saul was afraid of David, because the Lord was with him, but had departed from Saul.

1 Samuel 18:12

How sad it is to read these words. I underlined them, because I do not want the same thing to happen to me. I do not want the Lord to depart from me. That would be the worst thing I could ever imagine. Once you have walked with the Lord, and experienced the presence of the Holy Spirit, having Him depart would be terrible.
Notice, Saul was afraid of David. He knew he could not succeed against David, because the Lord was with him. Without the Lord on his side, Saul would never defeat David. He was afraid, because his time on the throne was threatened. God was going to take him down.
I have seen this in Calvary Chapel after serving the Lord for 40 years. There have seen people with the anointing of God, being used tremendously, and then God took them down because of sin. It is not because God wants to take anyone down, but He cannot allow sin in His ministry.
There is a real danger for people serving in the ministry. Billy Graham knew this and created the Modesto Manifesto with his leaders. Graham and his leaders made a pact to avoid money, immorality, exaggeration and criticism. These are the things he knew could disqualify them from the ministry.
Just like Saul and Billy Graham, these things can disqualify us from being used by the Lord. If we allow ourselves to give into the temptation of these things, God will depart from us and we will not be used.
Sin is the most expensive thing in the universe.
Nothing else can cost so much.
~Charles G. Finney~

God or Satan

And it happened on the next day that the distressing spirit from God came upon Saul, and he prophesied inside the house. So David played music with his hand, as at other times; but there was a spear in Saul’s hand. And Saul cast the spear, for he said, “I will pin David to the wall!” But David escaped his presence twice.

1 Samuel 18:10-11

At the beginning of his reign, Saul was led by the Holy Spirit. After he rebelled against God a number of times, God removed His presence from Saul and allowed distressing spirits to harass him. Here, the distressing spirits caused Saul to start babbling. He was not truly prophesying, because he was not led by the Holy Spirit.

When Saul got upset, David once again played music to calm his spirit, but unlike times past, Saul was not calmed. He became more aggressive, and holding a spear, he sent it sailing towards David, to kill him.

Why did David’s music help him in the past but not at this time? Saul was consumed with jealousy and suspicion. He was allowing Satan to not only harass him, but deceive him into thinking David was the enemy. He could no longer get relief from the distressing spirit, because he was living according to his flesh.

Listen, if we allow our flesh to control us, it will not be long before Satan is pulling the strings and we become a puppet controlled by Satan. He will whisper lies in your ear and you will believe them, because you are no longer controlled by the Holy Spirit. Examine who is in control of your life: God or Satan.

Satan commonly stops the ear from hearing sound doctrine before he opens it to embrace corrupt.
~William Gurnall~

Heart Condition

So Saul eyed David from that day forward.

1 Samuel 18:9

Saul knew his days were numbered as the king of Israel. In 1 Samuel 13, Samuel told him God was no longer with him. He said:

“But now your kingdom shall not continue. The Lord has sought for Himself a man after His own heart, and the Lord has commanded him to be commander over His people, because you have not kept what the Lord commanded you” (1 Samuel 13:14).

He did not know God had chosen David in Chapter 13, but he knew God was looking for someone to replace him. With this in his heart and the people praising David, the door was open for Satan to come in and whisper in Saul’s ear, causing suspicion of David.

We see the difference between David and Saul. This moment showed the condition of their hearts. God used this situation to reveal Saul’s heart. He was a man ruling with his flesh. He was not led by the Holy Spirit. God truly had departed from his life, and he had allowed pride and jealousy, the sins of the flesh, to rule over him.

God does the same thing to us. He uses things in our lives to reveal our hearts, to reveal whether we are walking with Him or walking in our flesh. He already knows the condition of our hearts, but He does it to reveal the truth to us and those around us. Be careful to examine the actions of the people around you. Their actions will reveal their true hearts and tell you whether to serve with them or without them.

If your heart does not want a world of moral reality, your head will assuredly never make you believe in one.
~William James~

Victory is God’s

Then Saul was very angry, and the saying displeased him; and he said, “They have ascribed to David ten thousands, and to me they have ascribed only thousands. Now what more can he havebut the kingdom?”

1 Samuel 18:8

Saul was very angry, he was seething with jealousy. When he took credit for Jonathan’s victory, it was alright, but now David was getting credit for his victory and Saul could not stand it. He had to be the center of attention. He had to be the conquering hero.

He sounds like a little boy having a temper tantrum. If he could not be the center of attention, he did not want anyone else to be lifted up. Saul was a grown man, the leader of the nation of Israel, and he was acting like an insecure little boy.

It is important to recognize the insecurity under Saul’s anger and over reaction. Samuel had already told him God was no longer with him. Samuel told him he was no longer the true king of Israel. With all of these thoughts in his head, the people lifted David higher than him after the battle. Saul was starting to see the handwriting on the wall. His days were numbered.

As we serve the Lord, there will be times God will give us the victory and other times when He will use someone else, maybe even a friend. We are called to serve together, shoulder to shoulder. We do not take the credit, so there is no room for anger or jealousy. When you serve with others who have the anointing of the Lord, the victory is God’s.

There is no more dangerous moment in our lives than that which follows a great victory.
~Stephen Olford~

Jealousy & Pride

Now it had happened as they were coming home, when David was returning from the slaughter of the Philistine, that the women had come out of all the cities of Israel, singing and dancing, to meet King Saul, with tambourines, with joy, and with musical instruments. So the women sang as they danced, and said: “Saul has slain his thousands, and David his ten thousands.”

1 Samuel 18:6-7

This was a common greeting from the children of Israel. When the men of war returned from the battle the women would sing and dance, celebrating their return and their victory. King Saul enjoyed returning to this greeting, going from city to city. It made him feel important, like a hero, because they would always say, “Saul has slain his thousands.”

On this occasion, the women came out with their instruments, singing and dancing, proclaiming the great feats of King Saul, but there was a small change. They not only praised King Saul, but they also praised David. They not only praised David, but they made his victory greater than Saul’s. While he killed thousands, David killed ten thousands. Wow! Saul was not the hero.

Saul missed the main thing. He was not a hero. It was not about Saul or David. The victory belonged to the Lord! The glory and honor belong to the Lord. If Saul really understood this in his heart, he would not be upset, but in his flesh, in his pride, he wanted credit for the victory, and he did not want to share the glory.

When we set our pride aside and recognize who gets all the glory, we will not be jealous of others. We will pray for them and lift up their hands.

The flesh ever seeks to be glorified before it is crucified.
~Martin Luther~

Respect the Anointing

So David went out wherever Saul sent him, and behaved wisely. And Saul set him over the men of war, and he was accepted in the sight of all the people and also in the sight of Saul’s servants.

1 Samuel 18:5

David submitted to the lordship, not only of God, but of Saul. He was obedient in whatever Saul asked him to do. He did not question anything; he just did it. In his obedience, David was acting wisely. He was respecting the leadership of the man God had put over the nation of Israel. He respected God’s anointing.

In acting wisely, David was made the commander of Saul’s army, and the people accepted him. They saw a good leader, because he submitted to the leadership above him. He was an example to the people.

This is an important lesson here, because David had already been anointed king of Israel. Back in Chapter 16, Samuel anointed David king, but Saul was still on the throne. In David’s eyes, Saul was the anointed of the Lord and until He took Saul down, David would respect and follow him.

God raises people up and He takes them down. No matter what you do or where you work, God has put your boss in their position. He has given them a position of leadership. You have been called to be obedient to the leadership God has anointed. If there is a problem, you do not rebel, you pray. Just as God saw the oppression of Israel under Pharaoh’s rule and delivered them, He sees your situation and already has a solution. All you need to do is be obedient and wait upon the Lord.

God requires no more than faithfulness in our place.
~William Gurnall~

Faithful to the Call

Then Jonathan and David made a covenant, because he loved him as his own soul. And Jonathan took off the robe that was on him and gave it to David, with his armor, even to his sword and his bow and his belt.

1 Samuel 18:3-4

Jonathan and David made a covenant, an agreement, because they loved each other, closer than brothers. They were bound by the Lord, and, with the bond, they pledged support to one another. They would always have each other’s backs.

Not only would they be friends for life, but Jonathan took things one step further. He gave David his robe, armor, sword, bow and belt; everything he had he gave to David. Picture it; Jonathan was next in line to be king and he humbled himself before David. Why would he humble himself to a shepherd?

Jonathan knew God had a plan for both of them, but he recognized David as a true leader, led by the Lord. Later, Jonathan will tell David he will submit to him, because he saw the presence of God in David’s life. He saw the anointing on David’s forehead, and he wanted to come alongside of him, not be a hindrance to the tremendous work God was going to do.

This is what we are called to do as Christians, work in unity, and come alongside each other for the sake of the Kingdom of God. It is not about what we want, but what God wants to do in each one of our lives. Some will be leaders and others followers. That is the way things are. Both are necessary and both are determined by the Lord. Be faithful in the position God has given you. Your faithfulness is unto the Lord, not man.

Faithfulness knows no difference
between small and great duties.
~John Ruskin~

Jealousy Destroys

Saul took him that day, and would not let him go home to his father’s house anymore.

1 Samuel 18:2

After David defeated Goliath, he made a name for himself. He quickly became great friends with Jonathan, so Saul decided to take him home. Saul was king, Jonathan was his son and David was the son of a farmer. There was a great difference between them, but Saul saw more in David and brought him to his house.

Saul started out liking David. He liked how David stood for the Lord and was not afraid of anything. At the beginning, he saw the bond between, David and Jonathan and was happy, but later on he became jealous. Someone David thought was his friend soon became his enemy.

It is important to recognize, Saul had taken David into his home. Saul was the king and he was showing favor to David, but it was not only Saul, the people loved David. He had defeated a great enemy and earned the respect of the people, even though he was a young man.

Although Saul would turn against him, the people would not, because their love for David was true. Saul’s love for David will be torn apart, because Saul was ruled by his flesh. He will allow jealousy to break the friendship, and, in pride, he will try to end the friendship between David and Jonathan.

We really have to keep our hearts and minds in check, and align them with the Lord. If we allow Satan and our flesh to take over, we will be ruled by pride and jealousy, which destroys relationships.

Many lovely things pass out of life when jealousy comes in.
~Author Unknown~

Friends in Faith

Now when 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.

1 Samuel 18:1

Notice, the soul of Jonathan was knit to the soul of David. They became the best of friends, because Jonathan saw the integrity of David. He saw his great love for the Lord.

When the two met, Jonathan was probably a few years older than David, and he had the same adventurous spirit as David. Remember, David had taken on Goliath and Jonathan had come against the Philistines with nothing more than his armorbearer and his faith in the Lord. There it is, the strength of their bond—their real faith in the Lord. They did not just say the words, but they lived their faith.

Think about the bond David and Jonathan had and compare it to your own life and the friends you have. What binds you together? Are you brothers and sisters in the faith, with great love for the Lord? These are important questions, because your answers will reveal your priorities in picking friends.

There are those friends you make for life and your heart is knit with theirs because you have the same vision and the same love for the Lord. You have each other’s backs. You do not want to see them fall; they do not want to see you fall. Like David and Jonathan, you have a bond and it cannot be broken by the enemy or the things of this world, because it is founded on your faith in Jesus Christ—your love for Him.

Better it is to go to heaven alone, than with a multitude to hell, and be damned for the sake of company.
~Elnathan Parr~

New Year’s Day

For it is better, if it is the will of God, to suffer for doing good than for doing evil. For Christ also suffered once for sins, the just for the unjust, that He might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh but made alive by the Spirit, =

1 Peter 3:17-18

Today, we begin another year, and as we have seen over the past few years, a new year does not mean everything will be great. Unfortunately, we cannot leave last year behind us and start over. Many have had great tragedies in their lives and the results of those events are following them into the new year.

You may think this is going to be a depressing devotion, but it is not. I think it is important to look at our lives and the situations we face every day and put them in the light of Christ. Not one person who has accepted Jesus as their Lord and Savior is walking through lives tragedies all by themselves. The Lord is right beside you and right beside me, giving us the strength and comfort to get through any trial.

As we look at this world, we see great persecution of the church growing. It is no longer something we read about in another country. It is right here in our own cities and states. Atheist groups and the LGBT are suing one Christian company after another. People are facing great trials.

There are many who think Christians should just throw in the towel and do whatever these special interests groups want, but I say, “Remember the early church. Remember the Christians who faced Rome’s lions.” They stood with the Lord with great threat to their lives. Today, we face the lions and have to choose who we will follow: God or man.

God has not departed because the day is dark.
~Vance Havner~

New Year’s Eve

Let us search out and examine our ways, and turn back to the Lord; let us lift our hearts and hands to God in heaven.

Lamentations 3:40-41

The Book of Lamentations was written by the prophet Jeremiah, the weeping prophet. Jeremiah was called by God to preach repentance to Judah, during the reign of King Josiah.

At this time, the people were in great sin and God was getting ready to judge Judah, using the nation of Babylon. Previously, the ten tribes of Israel had already been judged by God and carried away by the Assyrians.

While Jeremiah warned the people of their idolatry and false confessions of the Lord, he also cried out for repentance. Urging the people to examine their ways and turn back to the Lord. He said: let us lift our hearts and hands to God in heaven.

I believe we are living in times, just like the prophet Jeremiah, when God is getting ready to judge us. We see persecution of Christians growing stronger and stronger in our nation, which was founded on Christian principles. God does not have to bring in an ungodly nation to judge us. He will be able to use the very nation we live in. It is very sad.

We need to heed the lamentation of Jeremiah. As a nation, we need to examine our lives and turn back to the Lord. We need to lift up our hearts and hands to God and cry out in repentance. It is not too late; God is waiting to hear from His people!

If you are not seeking the Lord, judgment is at your heels.
~C. H. Spurgeon~

God’s Timing

Then, as David returned from the slaughter of the Philistine, Abner took him and brought him before Saul with the head of the Philistine in his hand. And Saulsaid to him, “Whose son are you, young man?”So David answered, “I am the son of yourservant Jesse the Bethlehemite.”

1 Samuel 17:57-58

The end of this chapter is very interesting. Let’s look back on David’s life, through the Book of 1 Samuel. David was a shepherd for his father’s sheep. When God sent Samuel to anoint him as the next king, Samuel feared Saul finding out, but God told him He would handle everything.

Next, we see David brought into Saul’s house to play music for him when the distressing spirit, God allowed, came upon him. David’s playing calmed Saul and gave him peace.

In this chapter, we saw David go to the battle to check on his brothers. He ended up fighting the giant Goliath and leading the army to destroy the Philistines. He took off Goliath’s head and carried it as a trophy.

After all this, Saul asked his commander: “Abner, whose son is this youth?” It seems the Lord had been blinding Saul’s eyes. With everything David did, Saul did not see him until the Lord decided to reveal him. God has prepared David, and now He is lifting him up before Saul.

It is so important to wait upon the Lord and allow Him to do things in His timing. In His time, all things will be done in perfection. Do not ever rush God or get ahead of Him. Wait upon Him and His time!

God does not rush men; He owns time.
~John Hercus~

God’s Purpose & Plan

Then the children of Israel returned from chasing the Philistines, and they plundered their tents. And David took the head of the Philistine and brought it to Jerusalem, but he put his armor in his tent.

1 Samuel 17:53-54

When I read these verses, I am reminded that God has a purpose and a plan for everything He does. He even had a plan in allowing the Philistines to come up against Israel. First, He wanted to show the people the strength and courage of David, who would be king, and God had a second purpose—providing for Israel.

Look at what happened after they defeated the Philistines. The children of Israel returned and plundered their tents. Think about all the things left behind, when the army ran from David. They left everything: food, clothes, weapons. It was all left behind and now belonged to the children of Israel.

When the Philistines set up camp against Israel, they were sure they would win and the children of Israel would be forced to serve them, but God had other plans. They planned evil against Israel, but God turned it all around for good.

This is a great lesson for all of God’s children. The enemy always plans and strategizes against us, but God can turn those plans around for good. Sometimes, when we are in the middle of a trial, we cannot see how God could possibly make things right, but He does. Nothing is beyond His ability. Remember, God allowed the Philistines to come against Israel, but He was always in control of the situation. Unfortunately, David was the only one close enough to God to realize it and fully trust Him.

The devil’s way of extinguishing goodness
is God’s way of advancing it.
~George Barlow~

Approved & Anointed

And when the Philistines saw that their champion was dead, they fled. Now the men of Israel and Judah arose and shouted, and pursued the Philistines as far as the entrance of the valley and to the gates of Ekron. And the wounded of the Philistines fell along the road to Shaaraim, even as far as Gath and Ekron.

1 Samuel 17:51-52

Notice the difference in the men of Israel and Judah. At the beginning of the chapter, they were fearful. Every time Goliath came out to challenge them, they ran and hid. Once David, the young kid, defeated the Philistines’ champion, they ran after the enemy.

They were no longer afraid, because they saw the hand of God upon David. They saw the faith of David and realized the Lord was going to give them the victory. They were not willing to step out in faith, but once God proved He would fight for them, they were ready to get in the battle.

When people see the hand of God upon you, they will respond in one of two ways. First, your enemies will run far away from you out of fear. Second, your friends will want to stand right next to you, because they see the Lord is with you.

David was a great leader. Even as a young man, the Lord was preparing him to lead the people. He led the people by example. He did not demand respect, he earned it. The people saw the anointing of God upon him.

Remember, effective leaders are men and women approved by the Lord. You will see the anointing on their foreheads and their great faith!

None are allowed to go for God but those
who are sent by Him.
~Matthew Henry~

Destroy Sin

So it was, when the Philistine arose and came and drew near to meet David, that David hurried and ran toward the army to meet the Philistine. Then David put his hand in his bag and took out a stone; and he slung it and struck the Philistine in his forehead, so that the stone sank into his forehead, and he fell on his face to the earth.

1 Samuel 17:48-49

I love David. Look at his incredible faith in the Lord. As Goliath, the giant came towards him, David hurried and ran towards him. He ran towards the battle, not away from the battle. He was a brave man, because he trusted in the Lord.

David ran towards Goliath, and then he took out a stone, loaded his sling and slung it at Goliath. When the stone left the sling, the Lord directed the stone, so it went right into the forehead of Goliath. It struck so hard and so fast, Goliath fell to the ground. He was done. David defeated the giant. David prevailed over the Philistine with a sling. Isn’t that cool?

It was not enough to just take down the enemy. David had to make an example of him. He showed no fear. Once Goliath went down, David finished him off: Therefore David ran and stood over the Philistine, took his sword and drew it out of its sheath and killed him, and cut off his head with it (1 Samuel 17:50).

When God helps us defeat the flesh in our own lives, we have to finish it off. We cannot show mercy. If we allow even a little of it to survive, it will be our downfall. Instead of us defeating our flesh, our flesh will defeat us.

If I grapple with sin in my own strength, the devil knows he may go to sleep.
~H. G. J. Adams~

Lord of My Life

Then all this assembly shall know that the Lord does not save with sword and spear; for the battle is the Lord’s, and He will give you into our hands.”

1 Samuel 17:47

Notice, everyone will know the Lord does not need manmade weapons to defeat His enemies. He can send one angel to wipe out an entire army or use one young man to defeat a giant. The battle belongs to the Lord.

I think it is important to recognize where David was in his life. He was a young man. He was not an armor bearer. He was a shepherd. He did not train on the battle field. He tended his father’s sheep and played music for King Saul, when the distressing spirit came upon him.

We know David as a great warrior, but at this time, he was just a shepherd boy. This was his first battle. He went into the battle without training with weapons and armor. He went against a giant with a sling and five stones. He was innocent of battle.

While Saul’s army ran and hid, every time Goliath challenged them, David stood strong in the Lord. He only had to hear Goliath mock the Lord once and he was ready to battle—for the Lord—in the Lord. That was what set him apart—his relationship with the Lord. He knew God and he knew what God could do.

When you are faced with impossible situations and the enemy is knocking on the door, do you run and hide or do you stand strong in the Lord? This is an important question. Your answer will reveal your relationship with the Lord. Is He the Lord of your life, or not?

How divinely supreme is our Lord above all others!
~D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones!

God’s Son – Our Salvation

Then the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid, for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy which will be to all people. For there is born to you this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. And this will be the sign to you: You will find a Babe wrapped in swaddling cloths, lying in a manger.”

Luke 2:10-12

Just as an angel came to Mary to tell her she would give birth to the Son of God, an angel came to the shepherds in the field to announce the actual birth of Christ in a manger close by. He brought them good tidings of great joy, fulfilling the promise of God given to the prophet in Isaiah 9:6.

The angel could have gone to the religious leaders or the Romans, who were in control of Israel, but the angel went to a bunch of shepherds, out in the field. He went to the people who were open to the message of a Savior. Notice, he told them the message of great joy was for all people.

God knew who needed to hear about the Savior. He knew who would believe and spread the news. He knew who He could trust with His only begotten Son, when there would be many who would seek His death.

Jesus came to this earth as an innocent, fragile newborn baby. God gave us His most precious gift—His Son; our salvation—and He entrusted Mary and Joseph to take care of His Son during a dangerous time.

Today, we celebrate the birth of Christ and the gift God gave to all the people—salvation from our sin. As He entrusted Mary and Joseph with His Son, He has entrusted us with this great message of joy. Now, go tell the world!

Filling the world, He lies in a manger.
~Jan Hus~

Son of God

And the angel answered and said to her, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Highest will overshadow you; therefore, also, that Holy One who is to be born will be called the Son of God.”

Luke 1:35

At this time of year, I love reading the Book of Luke. The other Gospels tell of the birth of Christ, but Luke really gives us detail. He started with the account of John the Baptist, the forerunner to Christ, and led to the birth of Jesus, the fulfillment of the great promise in the Bible—a Savior!

Luke tells us the angel Gabriel visited Mary in the sixth month, to tell her she would have the baby, Jesus. She was still a virgin, betrothed to Joseph, but she would become pregnant with the Son of God and give birth to Him without ever knowing a man intimately.

It is important to recognize the greatest miracle of the Holy Spirit, because God told His people He was going to do this in Isaiah 7:14: Therefore the Lord Himself will give you a sign: Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a Son, and shall call His name Immanuel.

Isaiah told them it would be a sign from the Lord. The people knew what to look for, and Mary realized what was happening when Gabriel spoke to her. She was the virgin who would conceive through the power of the Holy Spirit and bear a Son, Immanuel. Imagine receiving this message!

Tomorrow, we will celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ, the Son of God, who takes away the sin of the world. We celebrate not just the birth; we celebrate salvation—the free gift from God. It is a true miracle!

Rejoice that the immortal God is born
that mortal men may live in eternity.
~Jan Hus~
WEDNESDAY December 24, 2014

Son of God

And the angel answered and said to her, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Highest will overshadow you; therefore, also, that Holy One who is to be born will be called the Son of God.”
Luke 1:35

At this time of year, I love reading the Book of Luke. The other Gospels tell of the birth of Christ, but Luke really gives us detail. He started with the account of John the Baptist, the forerunner to Christ, and led to the birth of Jesus, the fulfillment of the great promise in the Bible—a Savior!

Luke tells us the angel Gabriel visited Mary in the sixth month, to tell her she would have the baby, Jesus. She was still a virgin, betrothed to Joseph, but she would become pregnant with the Son of God and give birth to Him without ever knowing a man intimately.

It is important to recognize the greatest miracle of the Holy Spirit, because God told His people He was going to do this in Isaiah 7:14: Therefore the Lord Himself will give you a sign: Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a Son, and shall call His name Immanuel.

Isaiah told them it would be a sign from the Lord. The people knew what to look for, and Mary realized what was happening when Gabriel spoke to her. She was the virgin who would conceive through the power of the Holy Spirit and bear a Son, Immanuel. Imagine receiving this message!

Tomorrow, we will celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ, the Son of God, who takes away the sin of the world. We celebrate not just the birth; we celebrate salvation—the free gift from God. It is a true miracle!


Rejoice that the immortal God is born
that mortal men may live in eternity.
~Jan Hus~

God Ever Faithful

Then David said to the Philistine, “You come to me with a sword, 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 and take your head from you. And this day I will give the carcasses of the camp of the Philistines to the birds of the air and the wild beasts of the earth, that all the earth may know that there is a God in Israel.”

1 Samuel 17:45-46

Look at the courage of David. I believe God had already given him instructions. First, David corrected Goliath. He had not challenged the armies of Israel. He defied God and His army. David was not going to defeat Goliath; the Lord was going to deliver him into David’s hands. He gave God the glory, right from the beginning.

Second, David told Goliath what he was going to do to him. He would cut off his head and feed the bodies of the Philistines to the animals. David would not only defeat Goliath, but he would defeat the Philistine army.

I like David. His faith and trust in the Lord was tremendous. He knew God would give Israel the victory over the giant and over the entire army. God would deliver the people of Israel from their enemy. David remembered the victories of the past and knew the faithfulness of the Lord.

We need to live our lives like David. We have to have long memories, not forgetting the victories God has given to us in our own lives. If God delivered you in the past, He will be faithful to deliver you today. God cannot be unfaithful. It is an impossibility!

The quality of faithfulness is essential to God’s being.
~Frank Retief~

Trust God Fully

And when the Philistine looked about and saw David, he disdained him; for he was only a youth, ruddy and good-looking. So the Philistine said to David, “Am I a dog, that you come to me with sticks?” And the Philistine cursed David by his gods. And the Philistine said to David, “Come to me, and I will give your flesh to the birdsof the air and the beasts of the field!”

1 Samuel 17:42-44

David approached Goliath confidently, knowing God was with him. When Goliath saw this young man come forward to accept his challenge, he was shocked and insulted. How did this young kid think he was going to beat such a strong warrior? He should have been afraid of Goliath, running away with the other men, not walking toward him, ready for battle.

Goliath was trusting in his ability to fight. He trusted in his size and strength. He thought his gods were greater than the God of Israel. He had only experienced victory, and he had fought great warriors. This young kid was not going to defeat him. It was embarrassing to even fight him.

This is how the enemy sees us. Satan and his demons think we are weak. It should be easy to take us out, and they are right. On our own, we are easy targets for the enemy. We will be deceived, we will be tempted and we will be taken out, if we rely on ourselves. Look at how easy it was for Satan to deceive Eve and take her and Adam out.

That is the greatest lesson. In the Lord, nothing is impossible and we can defeat the enemy. Without the Lord, we are easy targets. If we want victory in our lives, we must stay close to the Lord—trust in Him fully!

My faith has no bed to sleep upon but omnipotence.
~Samuel Rutherford~

Believe God

… And David said to Saul, “I cannot walk with these, for I have not tested them.” So David took them off. Then he took his staff in his hand; and he chose for himself five smooth stones from the brook, and put them in a shepherd’s bag, in a pouch which he had, and his sling was in his hand. And he drew near to the Philistine.

1 Samuel 17:39-40

Notice, David took off the armor of Saul, because he could not walk in them. He had not tested them. He did not know if he could fight in them, but he knew he could fight in the Lord. The Lord had already tested David; as a shepherd in the field, God tested his heart, and David trusted in the Lord.

Remembering how the Lord was with him, as he battled the wild animals to protect the sheep, David took up his staff and picked up five smooth stones from the brook. Five is the number of grace; the grace of God was with David, and he was ready for the battle.

When I think of David walking up to Goliath with nothing but his sling and a few stones, it blows my mind. Can you imagine what Goliath thought when he saw David with the sling? He had to believe the battle was already won. He was going to destroy this kid who dared to take up his challenge.

Think of what David was thinking. He really knew the battle was already won. He trusted in the Lord, fully and completely. He knew he was going to be the winner; it was all the Lord. That is how we need to approach our enemies, knowing we already have the victory, because God has it all under control. God is always the winner; all of the time!

Faith can rest in what it cannot comprehend.
~John Owen~

God: Our Defense

Moreover David said, “The Lord, who delivered me from the paw of the lion and from the paw of the bear, He will deliver me from the hand of this Philistine.” And Saul said to David, “Go, and the Lord be with you!” So Saul clothed David with his armor, and he put a bronze helmet on his head; he also clothed him with a coat of mail.

1 Samuel 17:37-38

David already had confidence to fight Goliath. He knew the Lord was going to take care of him and wipe out the Philistine, because God had already assured him. He had never seen God, but he knew; if God was for him, who could be against him.

Even though David had great faith in the Lord, Saul did not have the same great faith. David had to try and reassure Saul. He told him God would deliver him from the enemy, but Saul was still worried, so he decided to try and protect David. He put his armor on David.

Now, this may seem like it was a good idea. David was a kid and a shepherd. He was not a man of war, so he did not have his own armor, but remember, he was still a kid. Think about how Samuel described Saul when he anointed him king of Israel. He was a big man who stood above other men, and David was still a young man. Saul’s armor was not a good defense for David. It would be more harmful than helpful.

That is what happens when we decide to help God. The things we do are more harmful then helpful. How silly it is for us to think God needs our help. God was David’s defense, and He is our defense. He does not need our help; He wants our obedience, and He will take care of the rest.

Even if God did have needs we could not supply them, for we have only what He has first given us.
~Robert M. Horn~

Prepared for Victory

But David said to Saul, “Your servant used to keep his father’s sheep, and when a lion or a bear came and took a lamb out of the flock, I went out after it and struck it, and delivered the lamb from its mouth; and whenit arose against me, I caught it by its beard,and struck and killed it.”

1 Samuel 17:34-35

Notice, Saul looked at David and said, “Oh David, you are just a kid,” but he did not understand God was preparing him. God had been preparing him since he was a kid, and He would continue to train and prepare David to be the next king of Israel. He would be a man who trusted in the Lord, fully and completely.

Just like Moses, God did not make David the king right away. First, He had David take care of the little lambs. When the bears and lions came for the sheep, David protected them from the enemy. He did not run away in fear. He faced the enemy and trusted in the Lord. David was a warrior before he faced Goliath, because the Lord prepared him as he battled the lions and bears.

God does the same thing with you and me. He does not start us in the big things. He starts to train and prepare us with the little things. Then, as we are faithful in the small things, He trusts us with the bigger things. He wants to make sure we are not going to run away in fear. We have to stand strong in our faith.

God prepares and trains us, so we can complete the task He has for us. He prepares us for victory, not defeat.

The learning of the Christian man ought to begin
with the fear of God.
~Thomas Cranmer~

Like People, Like Priests

Then 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 a youth, and he a man of war from his youth.”

1 Samuel 17:32-33

Saul’s response to David when he took up Goliath’s challenge revealed the heart of Saul and also the reason his army was a bunch of fearful men. David confidently told Saul he would fight Goliath. Saul did not encourage him; he discouraged him. He told him he was not able to beat Goliath, because he was too young and Goliath was a man of war.

Saul had no faith. Even when someone else took up the challenge, he had no faith. He feared man because he had no fear of the Lord. Because he was a man of fear, his men were fearful. They did not fear the Lord. They feared the Philistines.

Throughout the Old Testament, we see the people’s walk with God go back and forth. When they had a leader who loved the Lord, they walked with Him. When the leaders and priests were in sin, the people followed them into sin.

God saw the heart of Saul and knew he would not lead the people to serve the Lord. God knew Saul would lead the people away from Him. That is why God anointed David. His heart was on fire for the Lord.

God has called each one of us to walk with Him. He sees our hearts, and He knows whether we fear men or fear Him. The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom (Psalm 111:10). Remember that.

He that fears God fears nothing else.
~Edmund Burke~

Victory Over Persecution

Do not fear any of those things which you are about to suffer. Indeed, the devil is about to throw some of you into prison, that you may be tested, and you will have tribulation ten days. Be faithful until death, and I will give you the crown of life.

Revelation 2:10

The children of God have suffered tremendously since the beginning of the nation. More than one nation has tried to destroy the nation of Israel, from the Pharaoh of Egypt to Hitler of Germany and currently the Muslim nations surrounding them. Suffering and persecution has been a way of life for the Jewish people.

Today, along with the nation of Israel, the United States is under attack from the radical Muslim nations. This should be no surprise to us. We have been allies of Israel. Our nation was founded on Christian principles. We have been known as a Christian nation.

In John 15:20, Jesus said: “If they persecuted Me, they will also persecute you.” Christians have been grafted into the Jewish nation, as children of God. Along with the blessings of our adoption into His family, comes persecution.

As children of God, we should not worry about the persecution, because we can hold onto the blessings of the Lord. In the Last Days, there will be great persecution, but we will receive the crown of life, when we endure until the end. Through our faith and trust in the Lord, we will endure, just as the Jewish nation has endured through the many years of persecution. We will have victory through Christ, as the children of God!

The weight of glory makes persecution light.
~Thomas Watson~

Jehovah Jireh

Now it was the Feast of Dedication in Jerusalem, and it was winter. And Jesus walked in the temple, in Solomon’s porch.

John 10:22-23

Hanukkah begins today at sundown. It is the Feast of Dedication, commemorating the purification of the Temple, after King Antiochus Epiphanes defiled the altar and Scripture scrolls with pig blood. God gave the children of Israel victory over the Greeks and they rededicated the Temple in 165 BC.

This battle between the Maccabees and the Greeks took place during the 400 years of silence, between Malachi, the last book of the Old Testament and Matthew, the first book of the New Testament. The account of what took place is found in the Book of Maccabees, which is part of the Apocrypha books. These are historical books, but not God inspired books, so they are not part of the Protestant Bible.

We know from the verses in John 10, the Feast of Dedication became one of the Jewish celebrations, even though it is not found in the Old Testament, because Matthew documents Jesus being in Jerusalem for the feast.

It is important to recognize; God gives the victory. In every feast; in every festival; we see God’s provision. He provided the harvests; He provided through the wilderness; He defeated the Greeks and provided the oil to rededicate His Temple. He is our great provider, Jehovah Jireh! We do not have to worry, for God’s hand is upon our lives and He loves us so much, He holds us in the palm of His hand.

God promises to keep His people,
and He will keep His promise.
~C. H. Spurgeon~

Trust God’s Faithfulness

Now when the words which David spoke were heard, they reported them to Saul; and he sent for him. Then David said to Saul, “Let no man’s heart fail because of him; your servant will go and fight with this Philistine.”

1 Samuel 17:31-32

While the men of Saul’s army were putting David down for his actions against Goliath, word got back to Saul and he called for David. When David went to Saul, he assured the king, “I am not afraid; the Lord is on my side; I will fight against that little, puny giant.”

There is no fear when you have the Lord. If the Lord is with you, who can defeat you? No one can overcome the Lord—no one.

David was going to go out by faith! He did not know how he was going to win, but he was leaving the victory in God’s hands. He knew he was fighting in the Lord’s army, so he did not have to fear the giant. God had protected him when he faced the lion and the bear. Goliath was no problem for the Lord.

We have to be like David and step out in faith. We will never know what amazing things God wants to do in our lives, if we never give Him the chance to show us His plan for our lives.

When you look back on your life, you will see the faithfulness of the Lord. You will see the many times God protected and provided for you. When you see the faithfulness of God, it makes it easier to step out in faith. He will never let you down.

Divine faithfulness is a wonderful comfort
to those who are loyal.
~William Hendriksen~

Walk By Faith

And David said, “What have I done now? Is there not a cause?” Then he turned from him toward another and said the same thing; and these people answeredhim as the first ones did.

1 Samuel 17:29-30

After David’s older brother, Eliab, put David down for standing up to the taunts of Goliath, David turned to the other men and asked them if they were in agreement with him or with Eliab. Did they think David had a just cause to speak strongly against Goliath or was he being prideful?

The other men were just as embarrassed as Eliab for running away from the challenges of Goliath, so they agreed with Eliab. They thought David was just being prideful. They believed they were wise to run from the enemy and David was just trying to make them look bad.

Clearly, David was walking close to the Lord and these men with Saul were like Saul; they were walking far from the Lord. Their hope and trust was not in the Lord. They did not realize their victory would come from the Lord, not from their bravery.

This is a very important moment in David’s life. He was walking by faith, not by sight. He was not troubled by the power and might of this giant. His faith was in the Lord, not his ability to defeat the enemy.

No matter what the enemy comes at us with, we have to walk by faith. We cannot be moved by the things we see, our faith and trust is in the Living God. When we walk by faith and not by sight, others may think we are prideful but we know where our hope is. It is in the Living God.

Faith is the daring of the soul to go farther than it can see.
~William N. Clarke~

Prideful Judgment

Now Eliab his oldest brother heard when he spoke to the men; and Eliab’s anger was aroused against David, and he said, “Why did you come down here? And with whom have you left those few sheep in the wilderness? I know your pride and the insolence of your heart, for you have come down to see the battle.”

1 Samuel 17:28

Look at the heart of David’s oldest brother, Eliab. When he heard David speak up with such confidence, he started to put David down! He made fun of David, because he was “just a shepherd.” Eliab was a big warrior in Saul’s army and David just tended sheep.

Eliab called David prideful, but he was the one who had a problem with his pride. It was his pride talking, when he put David down. He was embarrassed, because he ran away from Goliath with the other men, while David stood confident. Eliab did not realize David’s confidence was in the Lord. He was not prideful; he just knew where his help came from—the Living God.

How many times have people put you down for your position, especially when they do not see your strength is in the Lord? They think you are prideful, when you really are only confident in the Lord, not in yourself. It is actually the opposite. You are humble, because you know who you are without the Lord.

We have to be careful not to misjudge people, when we really do not know their hearts. Keep a humble heart and you will see others as Christ sees them, with His love.

The lowliest Christian is the loveliest Christian.
~Author Unknown~

Power of God

Then David spoke to the men who stood by him, saying, “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?”

1 Samuel 17:26

Notice David’s confidence. Do you think his confidence was in himself? No, his confidence was in God. The Lord gave him the confidence to fight the battle. He was not interested in Saul’s reward. He wanted to take away the reproach from Israel. The word used here is cherpah in Hebrew and it means “taunt or scorn.”

David was offended by Goliath, because he would dare to scorn the Living God. He did not call them the armies of Israel, but the armies of the Living God. David recognized who they served. It was not Saul. It was the Lord. Goliath was not taunting and scorning Saul’s armies. Goliath was scorning the armies of the Living God. He thought he could defeat God, but worse, the Lord’s armies thought they could be defeated.

Listen, on our own, we are already defeated. The enemy has won. But with God on our side, we have the victory. We do not have to worry about the enemy, because he is already defeated.

The Lord gives us the confidence to do ministry or whatever He has called us to do, because we put our trust in Him. Our trust is in Him, and not in ourselves or other people. We can walk confidently in the Lord, knowing we have the victory through His power and strength, not our own.

In the New Testament it is not believers who tremble at the power of Satan, but demons who tremble at the power of God.
~Stephen Travis~

God’s Champion

So the men of Israel said, “Have you seen this man who has come up? Surely he has come up to defy Israel; and it shall be that the man who kills him the king will enrich with great riches, will give him his daughter, and give his father’s house exemption from taxes in Israel.”

1 Samuel 17:25

As David came into Saul’s camp, Goliath came out again and shouted his challenge to the army of Israel. He would fight against the champion of their choice. If Israel won, the Philistines would be their slaves, but if Goliath won, the children of Israel would be slaves to the Philistines. And all the men of Israel, when they saw the man, fled from him and were dreadfully afraid (1 Samuel 17:24).

Saul knew his men were afraid to face Goliath, so he offered a reward for anyone who could defeat the enemy. The champion would win the hand of Saul’s daughter and live tax free. He would be a rich man in the kingdom.

Notice, the men in the army were not interested in the reward. They were too afraid to try to defeat the giant. They ran in fear. They were wise to run from the enemy, without the Lord. If they did not face Goliath in the strength of the Lord, they would be defeated. Only God would be able to promote someone in this battle.

It is the same for us. We cannot look to man for promotion, or we will face defeat. God raised up David, and He will raise us up, if it is His will. Promotion comes from the Lord and is empty outside of Him.

God, who needs no one, has in sovereign condescension stooped to work by and in His obedient children.
~A. W. Tozer~

Servant in Training

So David rose early in the morning, left the sheep with a keeper, and took the things and went as Jesse had commanded him. And he came to the camp as the army was going out to the fight and shouting for the battle.

1 Samuel 17:20

In Verses 17 and 18, Jesse sent his youngest son, David, to the battle lines to check on his older sons and to bring supplies to them. Now, who do you think put it in Jesse’s heart to send David out to the battle? It was the Lord! God was already preparing and setting the stage for the battle. It was not by coincidence; it was God’s divine appointment.
Jesse was a godly man and God was going to use His servant to get David on the battlefield to prove himself. It would not be easy, and David would face criticism from his brothers, but God’s will would be done. Why? David had a heart for the Lord! His eyes were set upon the Lord.
David was up early in the morning to turn the sheep over to a keeper and set out for the battle. He was a shepherd boy. That was where the Lord began his training, with the sheep. Up at the battlefield, David’s training was going to be proven. We will see if David learned anything, protecting the sheep from the many predators.
God knew He was going to use David and, from a small child, God began to train him and prepare him to be king. It is the same for all of us. God has a plan for each one of us. Everything we learn, and every situation we go through God is training us for the call He has for our lives. No matter how simple or small something seems, God is training you to be His servant.
There is nothing in man that God has put there which may not be employed in God’s service.
~C. H. Spurgeon~

Trust in God Alone

The three oldest sons of Jesse had gone to follow Saul to the battle. The names of his three sons who went to the battle were Eliab the firstborn, next to him Abinadab, and the third Shammah. David was the youngest. And the three oldest followed Saul.

1 Samuel 17:12-14

We saw David’s older brothers when God sent Samuel to anoint the next king of Israel. If you go back to Chapter 15, we see the sons of Jesse were impressive men. As they walked before Samuel, he was sure one of them would be the next king, but God chose David, the youngest.
Now, we see David’s brothers were a part of Saul’s army; they followed Saul. They went out with Saul against the Philistines. They heard the threats of Goliath, and they were afraid, just like Saul and the other men.
God did not choose the older brothers to be king of Israel, and God did not use them to defeat Goliath and the Philistines. Again, God will use the youngest, not the oldest; the weakest, not the strongest. Why? God saw their hearts. God knew who was walking with him and who was walking on their own.
Saul’s brothers were Saul’s men; they were not God’s men. Their eyes were set upon Saul, not God. Their trust was in Saul, not God. They were older than David, but they should have learned from him.
Again, we see, our hope and trust should be in the Lord, and no one or nothing else. God alone saves us. God alone keeps us; and God alone will be with us through every trial. If your hope is in man, God cannot use you. He is looking for men and women who have their eyes firmly set upon Him.
Real true faith is man’s weakness leaning on God’s strength.
~D. L Moody~

Faith Not Fear

When Saul and all Israel heard these words of the Philistine, they were dismayed and greatly afraid.

1 Samuel 17:11

Saul and the armies of Israel were dismayed and greatly afraid! Can you believe it? I can understand them being dismayed, but greatly afraid, no way! We are to fear God, but not man. What can man do to us? Man can only kill this earthly tent, but God controls our eternity.

In Romans 8:31, Paul the Apostle said: What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? God was with the children of Israel, but they forgot. They got their eyes off of the Lord and on the enemy, allowing fear to overtake them.

When there is no fear in God, fear of man comes in like a flood. We get fearful in our finances; we get fearful in our marriages; we get fearful in so many areas of our life. What does God say? In Mark 4:40, Jesus said: “Why are you so fearful? How is it that you have no faith?” You do not have to be fearful. Trust in the Lord and step out by faith.

Saul was walking so far from the Lord, he did not have faith. He was the leader and because he did not have faith, the people who followed him did not have faith. Their trust was in Saul; and Saul was weak.

Our faith in the Lord is so important for our lives and our daily walks. We cannot put our faith in man first and then God. Our faith and trust must be in the Lord God, fully and completely. If you say, “God and …” Your faith is not in the Living God. It is weak and leaves you with nothing but fear.

Fear is faithlessness.
~George Macdonald~

Remember Pearl Harbor & Be Ready

But know this, that if the master of the house had known what hour the thief would come, he would have watched and not allowed his house to be broken into. Therefore you also be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect.

Matthew 24:43-44

On December 7, 1941, after careful planning and training, Japan went to war against the United States of America, with a surprise attack upon the American Army and Navy base at Pearl Harbor. The first wave of Japanese bombers hit the base at 7:55 in the morning.

As usual, on this Sunday morning the base was very quiet, with most of the base personnel sleeping or getting ready for church. They were not prepared for the two waves of attack from the Japanese bombers who targeted the US Pacific fleet of battleships.

When I think of this surprise attack on our nation, I cannot help but think of the warning Jesus gave. We do not know when the attack will come, so we have to be ready at all times. We can never let down our guard, or the enemy will attack when we least expect it.

America was not ready for the attack and more than 2000 lives were lost and more than 1000 were wounded. Along with the great loss of life, we lost the greater portion of our battle ships and aircrafts.

Every year, as we remember those who were lost on this day, we are reminded to always be ready for the attack of the enemy. We must always be ready for the Lord’s appearing. Our hope and trust is in Him.

The will to persevere is often the difference
between failure and success.
~Alexander MacLauren~

Powerless

And the Philistine said, “I defy the armies of Israel this day; give me a man, that we may fight together.”

1 Samuel 17:10

Notice what Goliath said, “I defy the armies of Israel …” Why? The armies of Israel did not have their eyes on the Lord. They were trusting in their own strength and not the Lord, so he was making fun of them—mocking them. He was not afraid of them.

Look at what happened to the children of Israel—God’s people. They lost their testimony; they lost their witness before the world and before their enemy. The Philistines no longer feared them, as they had feared them after they had taken the Ark of the Lord.

Remember, they returned the Ark of the Lord, after the Lord had brought plagues upon their cities. They experienced the wrath of God and it caused them to fear God’s people, but the fear was gone because the people got their eyes off the Lord.

We have to learn from this lesson. When we no longer trust in the Lord, and we rely on our own strength and conviction, we lose our witness, our testimony before the world. When you lose your witness, your testimony, who is going to believe you? People are going to see your weaknesses; they are going to see you do not have faith. Without the Lord, they are going to defeat you—fully and completely.

It is important to remember; even the non-believer sees the power of God in our lives. Without our faith in the Lord, we are without power—powerless before our enemies and the world.

Faith sees the invisible, believes the unbelievable, and receives the impossible.
~Corrie ten Boom~

God or Satan

“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.”

1 Samuel 17:9

Notice, if their champion beat Goliath, the Philistines would serve Israel, but if Goliath won, Israel would serve the Philistines. Who does the world serve? Satan! Satan challenges you every day. If you cannot defeat sin and the old man, you are going to serve Satan. If you die to self and the world, you will serve God. Those are the options. There is no middle ground here. If you do not serve the Lord, if you are not confident and victorious in the Lord; the enemy is going to make you a slave.

Read Romans 5, 6 and 7 about reckoning the old man to be dead. In these chapters, Paul exhorted the Christians not to make sin king of their lives. They had to reckon the old man to be dead every day, or sin would rule their lives.

You and I know who rules our lives. I do not know your private life, who you are outside of the church, but God knows. God knows your every step and every breath. He knows our minds: your thoughts, my thoughts; my motives, your motives. He knows who we are serving.

When we are walking in the spirit, Satan cannot touch us. He can harass us, but he is defeated. When we walk according to the flesh and the world, we are serving Satan and his kingdom. Remember, we make the choice. We either trust and serve the Lord or we serve Satan. There are no other options: God or Satan.

We should employ our passions in the service of life, not spend life in the service of our passions.
~Richard Steele~

Serve Man or God

Then he stood and cried out to the armies of Israel, and said to them, “Why have you come out to line up for battle? Am I not a Philistine, and you the servantsof Saul? Choose a man for yourselves,and let him come down to me.”

1 Samuel 17:8

Notice what Goliath called the children of Israel, the servants of Saul. He did not call them the servants of God. Why? They were not living for God! They were no longer the servants of the Lord; no, they were the servants of Saul. Goliath knew who he was fighting and it was not the living God.

The enemy recognizes who you are serving. Satan knows. He has been around for a long time. Remember, he was thrown out of heaven by the King of kings and the Lord of lords. He knows man.

He went on to say, “Choose a man for yourselves, and let him come down to me.” Goliath knew they were not trusting in the Lord. They were looking around at each other, wondering who would fight against Goliath. As Saul looked around everybody was afraid; no one volunteered to fight for Israel—to fight for the Lord.

We see the same thing today. The church is afraid of so many things and so many people. What does God say in His Word? Unbelief is a sin; not trusting in the Lord is unbelief. You do not believe He can do all things. God does not call us to fear but to trust in Him in all things, knowing nothing is too great or too big for Him. Do you serve a man or do you serve the Living God?

If you stood alone, it would be presumptuous to hope. Because you are not alone, it is offence to tremble.
~Henry Law~

The Battle is God’s

He had a bronze helmet 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 bronze javelin between his shoulders.

1 Samuel 17:5-6

Let’s look at Goliath, so we understand the enemy who was coming against the children of Israel. We need to understand their fear. Goliath was six cubits and a span. A cubit was approximately 18 inches, and a span was half a cubit, so Goliath was more than nine feet tall. Think about it—taller than nine feet!

When the children of Israel saw him, he was covered in bronze, from the top of his head down to his feet. This giant man came out to meet them with shining armor from head to toe. They were afraid. They thought he could not be defeated because he was so big; his javelin was also a very big weapon against them.

The children of Israel were correct. They could not defeat Goliath. They were like small children next to him. They were defeated, because they forgot; it was the Lord’s battle. They could not beat the giant, Goliath, but to God he was an ant. He was no bigger than God’s thumb.

Whatever you are going through, whatever giants you are facing today, remember, it is God’s battle. God wants His people to put their confidence in Him; and then you can fight the battle and have victory. Without Him, we will only have defeat. With Him we will have victory over every giant in our lives.

A victorious Christian life is not a superior brand of Christianity reserved for the elite of the elect. It is the normal Christian life for every Christian.
~Ronald Dunn~

Be Careful of the Giants

And a champion went out from the camp of the Philistines, named Goliath, from Gath, whoseheight was six cubits and a span.

1 Samuel 17:4

Goliath was a giant. He represents a type of Satan. He was challenging the children of Israel, just like Satan does to us every day. Goliath called out for anybody to come down and face him. He was confident he would be victorious, but nobody wanted to come down and fight him, so he kept calling out, mocking them.

The men were afraid of Goliath. They were not spiritually prepared to fight the enemy, especially such a big man, but there was one man God had already prepared to fight the battle. He did not need a whole army; just one man with the heart of God. The eyes of the Lord go to and fro throughout the earth, seeking those who have the perfect heartbeat for Him.

It is so sad that we do not prepare ourselves for the battle, because there is a battle every day. There are giants all around us and we have to be ready every day. There is a battle: with your wife, your husband, your kids, your job, whatever it is, there is a battle.

The only way to win the battle is to spend time with God, so He can speak to your heart. You can always go to the Word of God, and it always has answers to your problems. If we trust ourselves or other people to help us win the battles, we will be defeated. There are giants in our lives and only God can defeat them. Seek God and get victory over the giants in your lives.

The first step on the way to victory
is to recognize the enemy.
~Corrie ten Boom~

Victory in Jesus

And Saul and the men of Israel were gathered together, and they encamped in the Valley of Elah, and drew up in battle array against the Philistines. The Philistines stood on a mountain on one side, and Israel stood on a mountain on the other side, with a valley between them.

1 Samuel 17:2-3

The Philistines were on one side; Israel was on the other side and in between them was a valley. What did the valley represent in their lives? What did Jesus say? He is the mediator between God and man. Before they went to battle, they needed to be praying, seeking the Lord to come between them and their enemy, to protect them.

You have to come down and cross the valley in order to defeat the enemy or you will be defeated. The outcome of the battle will be determined by how well you prepare before crossing the valley.

That is how our lives are. The enemy is on one side and you are on the other side. Do you attack the enemy on your own, or do you call upon the Lord to meet you in the valley and defeat your enemies?

We spend so much time on non-essential things and not on the most important thing—preparing for heaven. What counts more; this life or the life to come? We need to be ready for the battle, spiritually.

That is why you see so many people defeated: oppressed and depressed; they do not have joy of the Lord; they are not confident in the Lord. Remember, Jesus already has the victory, and it belongs to you and me.

God wants us to be victors, not victims; to grow, not grovel; to soar, not sink; to overcome, not to be overwhelmed.
~William A. Ward~

Spiritual Fight

Now the Philistines gathered their armies together to battle, and were gathered at Sochoh, which belongs to Judah; they encamped between Sochoh and Azekah,in Ephes Dammim.

1 Samuel 17:1

Saul was coming in order to fight the Philistines, but there was a problem. They were not prepared to fight. They were fearful. Their trust was not in the Lord; it was in themselves, so they were fearful.
I have learned an important lesson in ministry. If you are not really ready to fight the fight, then do not go out to fight. Spend more time in prayer. I am talking about fighting our battles spiritually, not physically.
Fighting a physical fight is real easy; you can see your enemy. When you fight the devil and his demons, you cannot see them. The only way you can fight them is by prayer and putting yourself in the Word of God. Pick up the sword, which is the Word of God, so you are able to fight against the wiles of the devil—the devices of the devil. Think about that.
In Ephesians 6:10-18, Paul gave us the full armor of God. If we are going to be prepared for a spiritual fight, we have to be fully equipped with the armor of God, which will protect us from the enemy.
The reason people cannot fight their battles or they get defeated is because they have not spent time with God. They have no defense. How strong do you think you are in your flesh? Talk to someone who has fallen in sin, and they will tell you they fell because they were not prepared. They did not spend time with God, in prayer and in the Word. Think about it.
I have never won an inch of the way to heaven
without fighting for it.
~C. H. Spurgeon~

Honor or Dishonor

But in a great house there are not only vessels of gold and silver, but also of wood and clay, some for honor and some for dishonor. Therefore if anyone cleanses himself from the latter, he will be a vessel for honor, sanctified and useful for the Master, prepared for every good work.

2 Timothy 2:20-21

There are vessels for honor and vessels for dishonor. We decide whether we are useful for God or not. We decide if we are honorable or dishonorable. I have seen godly men deceived and fall into sin. They are without excuse, because they knew the Word of God, not only to warn but to tell them how to live. We have the Word, to warn us, to lead and guide our lives.

There are so many things in the world today; think of all the men and women in the church living lives of adultery. Think of all the single people living lives of fornication. There are liars, deceivers and cheaters, all in the church. They are vessels of dishonor, unusable for the Lord.

That is what the Bible teaches and I think it is really important to constantly examine your relationship with God. Once you begin to get comfortable with your life, you become less aware of what is surrounding you. You lose the sharpness you had when you were alert and new in the Word.

You cannot become comfortable with the Lord. You need to be still; take time to meditate; to read; to study and then wait upon the Lord, so He can do a work. Be a vessel of honor, so the Lord can use your life for the good work He has prepared for you.

The only basis for real fellowship with God and man is to live out in the open with both.
~Roy Hession~

Jealousy & Hate

And so it was, whenever the spirit from God was upon Saul, that David would take a harp and play it with his hand. Then Saul would become refreshed and well, and the distressing spirit would depart from him.

1 Samuel 16:23

Saul and David had a very deep relationship. David was a great comfort to Saul during very difficult times in his life. Can you imagine the torment he experienced from the distressing spirit? He was not only tormented by the spirit, but he no longer felt the presence of the Lord. That would be even more painful for Saul.

The Spirit of the Lord had departed from Saul and the absence of the Lord from his life had to very difficult. I cannot imagine what it would be like to no longer have the presence of the Lord in my life—to no longer hear from the Lord when I read and pray. It would be terrible.

The Lord allowed David to play his harp and bring comfort to Saul. The Spirit of the Lord was upon David and through him, Saul was comforted, but this was only for short periods of time and soon Saul’s love for David would turn to jealously and hate.

This is what happens when people walk away from the Lord and try to hang out with their Christian friends. They are convicted by their lives and they get angry. They do not want to be convicted, so they turn away from the people who would draw them closer to God.

It is such a lonely life when you turn from the Lord. There is no peace and no joy without the presence of the Lord. You are left with anger and hate, outside of the Lord.

Hate is too great a burden to bear.
~Martin Luther King~

His Indescribable Gift

Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and comes down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow of turning.

James 1:17

Today, many families will gather to celebrate Thanksgiving. It is not a Christian holiday, but an American holiday, with people of all cultures, faiths and denominations taking the time to gather and give thanks. The question is: who are you giving thanks to and what are you thankful for?

In the verse above, it is clear who Christians give thanks to and why. We are the children of the Father of lights and we thank Him for guiding and providing for His people. He is not like man; His love is unchanging.

As we recognize His hand upon our lives, we cannot help but give thanks and praise to Him, for every good and perfect gift comes from Him. Paul the Apostle to the church in Corinth said: Thanks be to God for His indescribable gift! (2 Corinthians 9:15).

Not only are the gifts of God good and perfect, but He has given us His indescribable gift—His Son Jesus Christ. Through Him, we have received the gift of salvation—everlasting life with Him in heaven. There is nothing more perfect than the gift of Christ at the Cross.

With all the things we see happening around the world and the bad economy here at home, it is easy to not be thankful. It is easy to think God has forgotten us. But then, we think of Christ and the gift of salvation and we realize, there is nothing greater God could give us and we can do nothing more than give thanks! Praise the Lord for His perfect gift, Jesus!

Our thanks should be as fervent for mercies received,
as our petitions sought.
~Charles Simmons~

God’s Purposes

So David came to Saul and stood before him. And he loved him greatly, and he became his armorbearer. Then Saul sent to Jesse, saying, “Please let David stand before me, for he has found favor in my sight.”

1 Samuel 16:21-22

Look at how God moved David from the shepherd’s field to the court of the king. It is amazing how God works things out for His purpose. God brought David and Saul together, and Saul loved David, so he asked Jesse if he could keep David with him. David found favor with the king, but more importantly, he had found favor with the Lord.

It is very interesting. Samuel had anointed David as the next king, and Saul did not know about it. Remember how Samuel had been worried Saul would hear about it and kill him, and God told him to just be obedient? Look how God took care of everything. Saul, still, had no idea David was anointed by Samuel for the Lord.

Saul loved David and had him stay with him, playing his harp when the distressing spirit came upon him. David was a great comfort to Saul until later, when he realized David was going to take over the throne. At this time, Saul did not recognize the anointing of the Lord upon David. He did not know God was bringing him up, and Saul was going to be pushed out of the way. David had found favor in God’s eyes!

We are always trying to look good in man’s eyes, but it is better to find favor with the Lord than with man. It is God who has a plan for each one of us, individually. God raises up and sets down, not man!

God watches and weeds us, and continues His labor upon us, ‘til He brings us to the end of His promise.
~Richard Sibbes~

Trust in God

Therefore Saul sent messengers to Jesse, and said, “Send me your son David, who is with the sheep.”And Jesse took a donkey loaded with bread,a skin of wine, and a young goat, andsent them by his son David to Saul.

1 Samuel 16:19-20

Notice, David had been anointed by Samuel, as king of Israel, but he was still in the field with the sheep. Look at how humble his father Jesse was. Saul was the king; he had everything, but Jesse sent a gift along with his son, David. He did not question Saul’s request, he just sent his son in obedience, along with a gift.

That is so cool! It is more blessed to give then to receive. He was doing the same things as if he were sending his son to the temple to serve the Lord. He was sending a gift, an offering—very interesting.

Jesse did not know what Saul was going to do with David, but he was trusting in the Lord. He knew the Lord had chosen David to be the king, and because of the anointing, Saul could be a danger to David, but Jesse was putting his son in God’s hands. If God chose him; if God anointed him, then God was going to take care of him.

This is such a huge lesson to every parent. We can worry about our children and try to protect them from everything in this world, but only God can really keep them safe; only God knows the plan He has for them. If we want God’s anointing on our children and grandchildren, we have to give them over to the Lord and trust Him. He loves them even more than we love them.

All God’s giants have been weak man who did great things for God because they reckoned on God being with them.
~J. Hudson Taylor~

Godly Men & Women

Then one of the servants answered and said, “Look, I have seen a son of Jesse the Bethlehemite, who is skillful in playing, a mighty man of valor, a man of war, prudent in speech, and a handsome person; andthe Lord is with him.”

1 Samuel 16:18

Look at the qualifications of David. He was a skillful musician and a brave man who spoke wisely. He was handsome, but more importantly, the Lord was with him. Wow! They could see that God was with him; they could see the anointing.

I think it is important to recognize the character of David. He was not just a good musician. He was brave, wise and godly. He was a man who could be trusted, and the people around him saw his good character. They could see the anointing of the Lord.

What do people say about you? What is your character before man? Can people say, “He is a godly man. The hand of God is upon His life.”? Do people know you are a Christian, without you telling them? This is so important. Our character speaks louder than the words we speak.

David did not fill out an application to be in the kings’ court. He did not give them a resume. The people knew who he was and knew he was the right man to assist the king.

That is what we need to be; men and women with godly character. People should know we are God’s children, without us telling them. They should see the anointing of God on our foreheads.

The Lord knows them that are His by name, but we must know them by their character.
~Matthew Henry~

Start Small

So Saul said to his servants, “Provide me now a man who can play well, and bring him to me.”

1 Samuel 16:17

I always laugh when I read this verse. Who would have ever thought David would be the one to provide peace and comfort to Saul. The Lord had a plan for David’s life, and He was preparing him for the throne of Israel.

David already had a position with God; it was all in His perfect timing—shepherd, harp player, warrior, all on the way to being king. It is so cool; notice, he went from the least to the greatest. He had to wait upon God to go from the least to the greatest. It is incredible!

I can tell you by experience, it is incredible! Whoever thought God would use any one of us. Go back and think of who you were and where you were when God gave you the opportunity to be in the ministry. It does not matter what you do for the Lord. Wherever God places you, it is an honor; it is an honor.

We are all on the same level, serving God. Then, when you are faithful in the little things, God opens doors to move you to greater things. Who promotes you? God promotes you.

You are in training. You have to accept the little things, so you will be ready for the greater things. If you are not willing to be small, you will miss God’s opportunities. You will regret it, because you know what God called you to do. Start praying and see what happens. Ask Him; He will blow your mind. It will blow your mind to see what God will do in your life.

Small opportunities are often the beginning
of great enterprises.
~Demosthenes~

God Gives Rest

And Saul’s servants said to him, “Surely, a distressing spirit from God is troubling you. Let our master now command your servants, who are before you, to seek out a man who is a skillful player on the harp. And it shall be that he will play it with his hand when the distressing spirit from God is upon you, and you shall be well.”

1 Samuel 16:15-16

Many people have a hard time with these verses. It is hard to imagine God sending a distressing spirit to Saul. I want to say a few things. First, when we read God’s Word, we have to know, there are going to be things we cannot completely understand. The ways of God are beyond our limited minds.

The second thing we have to look at in these verses is the departure of the Spirit of the Lord. When the Spirit of the Lord departs, demons and evil spirits can harass us. They can harass us even now, but God can choose to stop them. God allowed the distressing spirits to harass Saul.

Third, Saul departed from the Lord before the Spirit of the Lord left him. When we look at Saul’s life as the king of Israel, we see a man who did not follow the Lord closely. His walk with the Lord was not personal. He walked with Samuel, who walked with the Lord.

Now, through a godly man, anointed by the Lord, Saul gets some rest from the distressing spirit. Notice, Saul found rest with Samuel and with David, two men who walked closely with the Lord. When we walk closely with the Lord, we may be harassed, but God will give us rest.

While the Bible speaks of God’s permission of evil, there is still no escape from His sovereignty.
~D. A. Carson~

Serve According to God

But the Spirit of the Lord departed from Saul, and a distressing spirit from the Lord troubled him.

1 Samuel 16:14

WOW! In Verse 13, the Lord poured out His Spirit on David, anointing him king of Israel. In this verse, the Spirit of the Lord departed from Saul. Look at that: the pouring and the filling for David and the departure of the Holy Spirit and anointing removed from Saul by God. God made His choice.

Can you imagine what it must be like when you are anointed by God and then you no longer have the Spirit of God? It must be an awful feeling, an empty feeling. You cannot serve the Lord without the anointing and filling of the Holy Spirit. If you stay, you are forcing yourself, when God says, “It is over for you.” Do not do it. It is over.

There are many people who are forcing things to happen in ministry. When God calls you to the ministry; it is cool, but He may only call you for a season. You have to understand, when your job is over; you have to go. You do not want to strive with God, when He is calling you to something else. You cannot force the anointing. It has to flow from His Spirit.

You have to know when God says, “Enough is enough; I have something else for you.” When we were in West Covina, we looked at Claremont and Pasadena; we looked all over for a building. God did not move us until we came to the building in Diamond Bar. That was when we were moved by the Lord, according to His Spirit. I am here because God put me here. The day God tells me to leave; I will leave, because I know God has something better for me. You have to know that! If you do not, you will be striving with God, not man.

The most willing service to men is rendered
by those who are best on pleasing Christ!
~Geoffrey B. Wilson~

Anointed By God

Then Samuel took the horn of oil and anointed him in the midst of his brothers; and the Spirit of the Lord came upon David from that day forward. So Samuelarose and went to Ramah.

1 Samuel 16:13

How do we verify the anointing or call is from the Lord? The Spirit of the Lord God anoints you; He comes upon you; there is a real change in your life. Without the anointing of God, you cannot do anything. You cannot do the work of the Lord, without His anointing. God called him, and Samuel anointed him with oil, but God anointed him with the Holy Spirit.

Notice, the Spirit of the Lord came upon David from that day forward! That was it! He was anointed by the Lord. On the other side, the Lord had anointed Saul, and we will see how the Lord took away the Spirit from Saul. As He took away the Spirit from Saul, He put the Spirit upon David.

David was God’s shepherd. He was just a kid. It was a long time before David actually took the throne, but God was setting everything up. He knew what was going to happen and how Saul was going to act, so He was preparing and training David. He would not just take the throne, like Saul did.

Think about your own life. Think of all the things you did and the situations you went through before the Lord called you to serve Him. He was preparing and training you. Maybe you are not serving Him but you want to. Wait upon the Lord. Wait for His anointing. Wait for Him to prepare and train you. Only in God’s timing will you really be ready to serve Him the way He wants you to serve Him.

None are allowed to go for God but those
who are sent by Him.
~Matthew Henry~

God’s Chosen

So he sent and brought him in. Now he was ruddy, with bright eyes, and good-looking. And the Lord said,“Arise, anoint him; for this is the one!”

1Samuel 16:12

Underline, “for this is the one!” Imagine the excitement. This is the one God is anointing to be king of Israel! I love it! This is the one the Lord chose. Samuel got himself out of the way; he did his job and said, “Lord, you are awesome.” This was the one God had chosen and Samuel knew it. Wow!

Samuel had tried to go ahead of God, but God had perfect timing. He waited. When each son came in, Samuel thought they were the one, but God said, “Nope!” When David came in, all of a sudden, Samuel knew the Lord had chosen him. God said, “This is the one I am going to anoint.”

When I read this the first time, going through the Bible with Pastor Chuck, it was so cool. I thought, Wow Lord, You are the one who chose me! Think about it. He chose you. Even if nobody chose you, He chose you to be His child, to have fellowship with Him, to serve Him in His ministry.

When I look at the ministry God has allowed me to serve in, I get blown away. God could have chosen any other man, but He chose me. He trusted me with His little sheep. It humbles me and reminds me; I can only do it with the strength and wisdom of the Lord, just like David.

Remember, God has chosen you, not because you are great, but because you are weak and humble. Stay that way, so He can continue to use your life!

God never chooses on merit.
~John Blanchard~

Lead People to Jesus

And Samuel said to Jesse, “Are all the young men here?” Then he said, “There remains yet the youngest, and there he is, keeping the sheep.” And Samuel said to Jesse, “Send and bring him. For we will not sit downtill he comes here.”

1 Samuel 16:11

Notice what David was doing. He was taking care of the sheep, just like Moses. Why? God was preparing him to be a leader, as he would lead a whole nation. God prepared him by putting him over his father’s sheep, which is a hard task.

When I go to Israel, near the city of Bethlehem there are many little shepherds with all their goats and sheep. What is incredible is how they are in front of the sheep, leading; they are not behind them. The sheep are following them.

There are a number of shepherds in the field. When they part, the shepherds make a small noise, and the sheep follow the shepherd—each sheep to its own shepherd. In John 10:27, Jesus said, My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me.

Isn’t that interesting? They follow Me—Jesus! They do not follow you; they follow Him! Do not have people follow you. Lead people to Jesus and have them follow the Lord. Point them to Jesus all the time. If you do not, you are going to get yourselves in trouble, big trouble with God.

We all have a responsibility to lead people to Jesus. No matter what you do or where you work, God has called us all to point people to Him!

We have one business on earth—to save souls.
~John Wesley~
TUESDAY November 18, 2014

Lead People to Jesus

And Samuel said to Jesse, “Are all the young men here?” Then he said, “There remains yet the youngest, and there he is, keeping the sheep.” And Samuel said to Jesse, “Send and bring him. For we will not sit down
till he comes here.”
1 Samuel 16:11

Notice what David was doing. He was taking care of the sheep, just like Moses. Why? God was preparing him to be a leader, as he would lead a whole nation. God prepared him by putting him over his father’s sheep, which is a hard task.

When I go to Israel, near the city of Bethlehem there are many little shepherds with all their goats and sheep. What is incredible is how they are in front of the sheep, leading; they are not behind them. The sheep are following them.

There are a number of shepherds in the field. When they part, the shepherds make a small noise, and the sheep follow the shepherd—each sheep to its own shepherd. In John 10:27, Jesus said, My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me.

Isn’t that interesting? They follow Me—Jesus! They do not follow you; they follow Him! Do not have people follow you. Lead people to Jesus and have them follow the Lord. Point them to Jesus all the time. If you do not, you are going to get yourselves in trouble, big trouble with God.

We all have a responsibility to lead people to Jesus. No matter what you do or where you work, God has called us all to point people to Him!


We have one business on earth—to save souls.
~John Wesley~

Trained By God

Thus Jesse made seven of his sons pass before Samuel. And Samuel said to Jesse, “The Lord hasnot chosen these.”

1 Samuel 16:10

Samuel had gotten ahead of God, but he was back in tune with Him. Jesse had passed seven of his sons before Samuel, but the Lord did not pick any of them. Even though Samuel did not know who would be the next king of Israel, the Lord knew. He knew who He wanted to be king, and He had been preparing him.

Isn’t it weird how the Lord looks at things—how He makes decisions. All the sons of Jesse were good men, and, we will see, David was the least of them. He was the youngest, and God had already chosen him even though he was not the oldest. He was not even old enough to get married. He was just a kid; a teenager!

David was young, but he had already killed a bear and a lion. God was already training him to be a warrior! Think about that; God was training a warrior and not only a warrior, a leader, a king. God had not just decided to make David king. It started back when David was born.

When God called you out of the world He had already prepared your heart, even when you were in the world; He was preparing you. Whatever God intended for your life, He has been training you. This does not mean you do not have a choice, but God prepares us for the things He has for us. It is His desire for us to be ready when He calls us, but we still have to accept the calling He puts on our lives. When we accept the call of God, He will use us greater than we could ever imagine. Think about that!

The Christian worker must be sent; he must not elect to go.
~Oswald Chambers~

Hidden Heart

But the Lord said to Samuel, “Do not look at his appearance or at his physical stature, because I have refused him. For the Lord does not see as man sees; for man looks at the outward appearance, but theLord looks at the heart.”

1 Samuel 16:7

Notice, Samuel got ahead of God and thought David’s older brothers must be God’s choice for king, but God stopped him right away. God not only stopped Samuel, but He taught him a very important lesson. It is a lesson for all of us. He said, “Do not judge by outward appearances. God does not judge by the outside. He sees the heart of man and makes His decision.”

This is so important for every part of our life: personal, professional and in ministry. We have to wait on the Lord to reveal the heart of a person. If we look at the outward man and the person they seem to be, we will be deceived. They could be good looking and act like a spiritual person, but have an evil heart.

Whether we are thinking of marrying someone, hiring them for a job or giving them a position in leadership, we need to wait on the Lord, so He can reveal the true heart of a person. If we get ahead of the Lord and make decisions based on physical appearances, we are going to get in trouble and it may be hard to get out of it.

Remember, only God really knows the heart of man, so allow Him the time to reveal it to you. You will be blessed when you wait upon Him!

The recesses of the heart are so hidden that no judgment can be formed by any human being.
~Author Unknown~

Emotionalism

So it was, when they came, that he looked at Eliab and said, “Surely the Lord’s anointed is before Him!”

1 Samuel 16:6

Samuel obeyed the Lord. He prepared the sacrifice, called the house of Jesse to come and he consecrated them before the Lord. He followed all the directions the Lord gave him, but then, he jumped ahead of God. He thought he knew what the Lord was going to do and who He was going to choose. He saw Eliab, and by his appearance, he thought, this is the one God is going to choose. He was wrong.

How many times do we get ahead of the Lord? We have a feeling, we get emotional and we think it is the Lord but it is not the Lord. It is emotionalism, your feelings; it is not the leading of God.

How many times do you open your mouth and say something you should not say? You make promises you are not going to keep. Again, you are acting on your emotions. You speak out of emotion and then say to yourself, Man, why did I say that; now I have to get out of it; but I do not know how to get out of it.

That is what happens when we get ahead of God. That is what we do when we do not wait upon the Lord and we react out of emotionalism, instead of gathering all the facts and praying about it.

If you want to walk in God’s will, you really have to give time and space for Him, to make sure He confirms and verifies what you believe He is showing you. If you act on emotions, you are acting in your own will, not God’s.

I believe that in any setting, the tendency to place personal feelings above the Scriptures is always an insult to God.
~A. W. Tozer~

Sanctified & Set Apart

And he said, “Peaceably; I have come to sacrifice to the Lord. Sanctify yourselves, and come with me to the sacrifice.” Then he consecrated Jesse and his sons,and invited them to the sacrifice.

1 Samuel 16:5

Imagine; God was working everything out so perfectly for the anointing of the next king. Before Samuel anointed David king, he was going to make a sacrifice to the Lord, and they had to set themselves apart. He came to sacrifice to the Lord and, in those days, sacrificing to the Lord was done with animals.

How do we sacrifice to the Lord today? We cannot kill lambs and goats, but there are other ways to sacrifice to the Lord, as God speaks to your heart. In your own personal life, you can pray and fast, so God can really speak to you. Remember, when you fast, you are setting yourself apart to the Lord—making a sacrifice.

In Romans 12:1, Paul said: I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service.

You are presenting your body as a living sacrifice on the altar of God, so He can use your life to bring glory and honor to His name. This is the example of Samuel for each one of us personally. If we want a close and personal relationship with the Lord, we have to be sanctified and set apart to Him.

The destined end of man is not happiness, not health, but holiness. God’s one aim is the production of saints.
~Oswald Chambers~

Holy Spirit Poured Out

So Samuel did what the Lord said, and went to Bethlehem. And the elders of the town trembled at his coming, and said, “Do you come peaceably?”

1 Samuel 16:4

Look at the reputation Samuel had. He showed up in town, and he had a good reputation. Nobody messed with Samuel, because they knew he was a man of God. They knew when he spoke, he would speak as God’s voice; God’s voice would be there.

When you speak, who do people think you are speaking for? Are you seeking the Lord for His wisdom or speaking something someone else received from the Lord? Are you reading God’s Word and praying or just copying something from a pastor or leader you have heard or read? God wants to speak to and through every one of us. He wants to use every one of our lives.

During Samuel’s time, the Holy Spirit was not poured out upon the people. God had His chosen people who would speak for Him, and Samuel was one of the men God spoke through.

After Christ ascended to heaven, the Holy Spirit was poured out upon all the people who believed in Christ as their Savior. As believers, we have the Holy Spirit and God wants to speak to us and through us, but He cannot use our lives if we do not spend time with Him in His Word and in prayer. What can you share with others, if you do not know God’s Word? The wisdom of man is useless. The only thing of value we have for both believers and non-believers is God’s Word. Period.

He who has the Holy Spirit in his heart and the Scriptures in his hands has all he needs.
~Alexander MacLaren~

Chaos & Confusion

“Then invite Jesse to the sacrifice, and I will show you what you shall do; you shall anoint for Methe one I name to you.”

1 Samuel 16:3

What was God’s plan to anoint a new king without Saul killing Samuel? God told Samuel to prepare a sacrifice, plan a party and invite the house of Jesse. When they all came for the party, God would point out His chosen king to Samuel.

Look at how simple God worked the whole thing out. Samuel was not going to go out wandering around the country, looking for a king. God was taking him straight to the house of Jesse. Saul did not even know what Samuel was doing.

If Samuel had tried to plan it without God, it would have been chaotic. He would have wandered around without God’s direction and Saul would have questioned what he was doing. Instead, God took care of the whole thing and Saul had no idea what was going to happen.

When we do not allow God to make the plans for our lives, our ministries or for our businesses, we have chaos. Without God leading and guiding, there is no way we can do things according to His plan. Then we are working according to our plan and our wisdom.

Remember, our wisdom is foolish to the Lord. Without the Lord, we have no wisdom; we have only chaos and confusion. If you want God’s blessings in your life, you have to allow Him to guide and direct you. If not, you are left with a mess you created on your own.

No man is really wise unless he lives in the will
and for the glory of God.
~Geoffrey Grogan~

Veterans Day

You therefore must endure hardship as a good soldier of Jesus Christ. No one engaged in warfare entangles himself with the affairs of this life, that he may pleasehim who enlisted him as a soldier.

2 Timothy 2:3-4

November 11, 1918, is generally recognized as the end of World War I, “the war to end all wars.” One year later, in 1919, President Wilson proclaimed November 11 as Armistice Day. This was the beginning of what we celebrate today as Veterans Day.
At the time, many people believed this truly was the war to end all wars and we, the people of the world, would not allow another conflict like this again. We had learned our lessons from the tragic loss of life in this war.
As time went on, we found this was not the case. People had not learned the lesson and more wars followed, with World War II, the Korean War, the Vietnam War and many smaller wars around the world. With all the additional veterans to honor, Armistice Day became Veterans Day.
It is the same for the good soldier of Jesus Christ. As long as evil exists in this world, there will be war, both physical and spiritual, and good men and women will endure the hardships of these wars.
Today, we recognize the sacrifice and dedication of those who have fought the good fight, those who paid the ultimate sacrifice of their lives and those who have come home, ready to fight another day. I pray we all recognize those who have fought for our freedoms and give thanks to them and to God, who enlisted every one of us in the fight. Semper Fi!
The willingness of America's veterans to sacrifice for our country has earned them our lasting gratitude.
~Jeff Miller~

No Worries

And Samuel said, “How can I go? If Saul hears it, he will kill me.” But the Lord said, “Take a heifer with you, and say, ‘I have come to sacrifice to the Lord.’”

1 Samuel 16:2

Notice, Samuel was concerned for his life. If Saul knew he was going to anoint a new king, he would kill Samuel. Remember, Samuel had seen what Saul had done. He knew how desperate Saul was to keep his position as king.

God did not allow Samuel to be overcome with his fears. He told Samuel to do things His way, and God would handle the rest. God was not worried about Saul, and He would not put Samuel in a dangerous situation. God had a plan, and He would be sure His plan was carried out.

Many times, we worry about things before they ever happen. We worry about things that could happen. We worry about things we have no control over. We worry.

In Luke 12:25, Jesus asked, “And which of you by worrying can add one cubit to his stature?” I can tell you the answer; worry will not get any one of us a thing. It will only bring more worry.

When we are faced with the impossible; when it seems like the walls are caving in, the only thing we can do is bring it to the Lord. He is in control of my life, and He is in control of your life. When we come to Him with our worry, He will tell us what we need to do, and He will handle the rest, just like He did for Samuel. His way has always proven to work—every time!

Worry is faith in the negative, trust in the unpleasant, assurance of disaster and belief in defeat.
~William A. Ward~

Our Will or God’s Will

Now the Lord said to Samuel, “How long will you mourn for Saul, seeing I have rejected him from reigning over Israel? Fill your horn with oil, and go; I am sending you to Jesse the Bethlehemite. For I have provided Myself a king among his sons.”

1 Samuel 16:1

Samuel was mourning for Saul, because he loved him, even though the children of Israel chose a man to lead them instead of God. Saul was not the one who would be effective in building God’s kingdom. He was man’s choice, God had rejected him. He knew Saul was not the right piece for the puzzle; he would not fit smoothly in as the king of Israel. Because Saul rebelled against the Lord, God rejected Him. God already had a new king for Israel—David.

It is important to remember, God knows everything. He gave Saul a chance, but he knew Saul would not work out. He saw the heart of Saul, and it did not burn for the Lord or to fulfill the ministry of God. Because God knew, He already had Saul’s replacement—a man who had a heart for the Lord; an obedient man; a true servant of the Lord.

God sees your heart and my heart. He knows whether we are going to be willing servants or not, but He gives each one of us the opportunity to serve Him—to step out in faith. We are not puppets on a string. Each one of us has to freely choose to either be obedient to God’s call or to rebel.

It is God’s desire to use our lives. He opens the doors and waits for us to walk through them. It is always God’s prayer for us to serve Him with a willing and grateful heart. Just choose God!

The will is the deciding factor in everything that we do. In every sphere of life it settles alternatives.
~Fredrick P. Wood~
SUNDAY November 9, 2014

Our Will or God’s Will

Now the Lord said to Samuel, “How long will you mourn for Saul, seeing I have rejected him from reigning over Israel? Fill your horn with oil, and go; I am sending you to Jesse the Bethlehemite. For I have provided Myself a king among his sons.”
1 Samuel 16:1

Samuel was mourning for Saul, because he loved him, even though the children of Israel chose a man to lead them instead of God. Saul was not the one who would be effective in building God’s kingdom. He was man’s choice, God had rejected him. He knew Saul was not the right piece for the puzzle; he would not fit smoothly in as the king of Israel. Because Saul rebelled against the Lord, God rejected Him. God already had a new king for Israel—David.

It is important to remember, God knows everything. He gave Saul a chance, but he knew Saul would not work out. He saw the heart of Saul, and it did not burn for the Lord or to fulfill the ministry of God. Because God knew, He already had Saul’s replacement—a man who had a heart for the Lord; an obedient man; a true servant of the Lord.

God sees your heart and my heart. He knows whether we are going to be willing servants or not, but He gives each one of us the opportunity to serve Him—to step out in faith. We are not puppets on a string. Each one of us has to freely choose to either be obedient to God’s call or to rebel.

It is God’s desire to use our lives. He opens the doors and waits for us to walk through them. It is always God’s prayer for us to serve Him with a willing and grateful heart. Just choose God!


The will is the deciding factor in everything that we do. In every sphere of life it settles alternatives.
~Fredrick P. Wood~

Spiritually Content

Now the Lord said to Samuel, “How long will you mourn for Saul, seeing I have rejected him from reigning over Israel? Fill your horn with oil, and go; I am sending you to Jesse the Bethlehemite. For I have provided Myself a king among his sons.”

1 Samuel 16:1

Samuel was coming to the end of his life and the end of his ministry, but God knew Samuel had proven himself to be a faithful servant, so he called him to still be a messenger for Him. It was a great privilege to be a runner for God. Think about it! Even though Samuel mourned for Saul, he was content to be called by God to anoint the new king.
This is an important lesson for all of us. Are you content where God has called you or are you looking to do things God has not called you to do? The worst thing in life is to be in a position God has not called you to be in.
If you are involved in ministry and you try to exercise gifts you do not really have; you are going to find yourself in big trouble. You have to have the right gifts and talents in order to complete each job, and the job has to be done. If you do not have the gifts, and you are going where God has not called you, then it is not going to work.
It is like a puzzle, each piece fits in one place, not any place. If it does not fit, and you try to force it to fit, you will have a mess. We cannot force our will on the will of God. When the Lord puts the piece into the puzzle, the puzzle is complete. It is so important for us to allow God to put us where He has called us. He knows the gifts and talents we have and where we will be the most effective in His kingdom.
Spiritual gifts are not toys with which to play; they are tools of the Spirit with which to do the Lord’s work effectively.
~G. Raymond Carlson~

Anointing Removed

Then Samuel went to Ramah, and Saul went up to his house at Gibeah of Saul. And Samuel went no more to see Saul until the day of his death. Nevertheless Samuel mourned for Saul, and the Lord regretted that He had made Saul king over Israel.

1 Samuel 15:34-35

Samuel never saw Saul again, but he mourned for him. He had the heart of a true servant of the Lord. He was not happy Saul had fallen from the Lord, it grieved him. He felt sorry for him.

While Samuel mourned for Saul, God regretted making Saul the king of Israel. Back in Verse 29, it said God does not regret or repent. He is not a man and does not think like a man. This seems like a contradiction, but it is really man trying to describe the infinite God in finite words.

What this verse is describing is God changing His attitude towards Saul. God was removing His anointing from Saul’s life and ripping the kingdom from him. That is what the Lord regretted that He had made Saul king over Israel means. God did not repent of it; He simply took His favor away from Saul.

What does this tell us? Why is it important to us? God is the one who anoints and raises up a man or a woman. If we are not faithful with the call God puts in our life, and we rebel against God’s instruction, He will remove us from our positions. Just as He raises us up, He can take us down. Saul’s life of rebellion and stubbornness is written as an example to you and me. It is an example of how to lose the anointing of God. Take heed to the Word of God.

God will give the rebel what he chooses
and what he deserves.
~Simon Austen~

The Lord My God

Then he said, “I have sinned; yet honor me now, please, before the elders of my people and before Israel, and return with me, that I may worship the Lord your God.”So Samuel turned back after Saul,and Saul worshiped the Lord.

1 Samuel 15:30-31

Look at how far Saul had fallen away from the Lord. He was more concerned with looking good in front of the people, than being right before the Lord. Samuel had just told him God was taking the kingdom away from him, but Saul wanted to be sure the people thought he was still an important person.

Saul wanted Samuel to come with him so he could worship the Lord your God. Notice, he did not say, “The Lord my God, but the Lord your God.” This is the third time he referred to God as the Lord your God—1 Samuel 15:15 and 1 Samuel 15:21.

Saul no longer had a personal relationship with God. He had always really depended on Samuel for his relationship with the Lord, and now he had no relationship with the Lord. He did not even feel connected with God. He was Samuel’s Lord, but not his Lord.

This is the scariest place for anyone to be; to have the anointing of the Lord and be called to serve Him and then turn away from Him, fully and completely, so you no longer see Him as your Lord, is scary.

Listen, you have to have a personal relationship with the Lord. It cannot be dependent upon another person. It has to be just you and God. If not, you will find yourself far from God, just like Saul.

Jesus cannot be our Savior unless He is first our Lord.
~Hugh C. Burr~

The Strength of Israel

“And also the Strength of Israel will not lie nor relent. For He is not a man, that He should relent.”

1 Samuel 15:29

Samuel was talking about God in this verse. The Strength of Israel is God, and He does not lie or relent. In the King James Bible, the word used is repent, not relent. In Hebrew, the word is nacham and it means “to be sorry, console oneself, repent, regret.”

Samuel was taking Saul back to Numbers 23:19, when God spoke through Balam:

“God is not a man, that He should lie, nor a son of man, that He should repent. Has He said, and will He not do? Or has He spoken, and will He not make it good?”

In both of these verses we see the character of God. He does not lie. If He says He is going to do something, He will do it. He will not relent, or repent—His judgment is sure and it is final. He does not regret, because He gives us many chances to repent. We choose to face God’s judgment.

God not only gives us the chance to repent, He warns us what the consequences will be. We can never say we did not know we would be punished. We cannot say we never knew about hell. He warns and He waits, but if we do not repent, He judges.

Remember, God is not a man and we cannot treat Him like a man. God is holy and righteous, and He has called us to obedience and holiness. Then, we can have fellowship with Him!

The power of man can never reverse the sentence of God.
~Thomas V. Moore~

Good & Right

And you shall do what is right and good in the sight of the Lord, that it may be well with you, and that you may go in and possess the good land of which the Lord swore to your fathers, to cast out all your enemies from before you, as the Lord has spoken.

Deuteronomy 6:18-19

Today is Election Day. It is not a Christian holiday, but it is a Christian responsibility. Look at what Moses told the children of Israel before they went into the Promised Land: do what is right and good in the sight of the Lord, that it may be well with you, and that you may go in and possess the good land.

Notice, he told them to do what is good and right. How do we know what is good and right? In Verse 17, Moses told them: You shall diligently keep the commandments of the Lord your God, His testimonies, and His statutes which He has commanded you.

The children of Israel did not have to try and figure out what God was talking about. He gave them His commandments, testimonies and statutes. He gave them to the children of Israel and He has given them to you and to me. We know, according to the Word of God, what is good and right.

That is our responsibility. We have to vote and elect men and women who are dedicated to doing what is good and right according to God’s Word. We have to look at the moral issues and vote according to God’s Word. If we do what is good and right, then God will do what He promised, to cast out all your enemies from before you.

Truth and morality are inextricably connected.
~Martin Robinson~

Obedient & Blessed

And as Samuel turned around to go away, Saul seized the edge of his robe, and it tore. So Samuel said to him, “The Lord has torn the kingdom of Israel from you today, and has given it to a neighbor of yours,who is better than you.”

1 Samuel 15:27-28

Saul should have never torn Samuel’s robe. What does it show you? He did not listen. When he tore Samuel’s robe, it reflected what the Lord was going to do, as He would tear the kingdom of Israel from Saul. It was a done deal. Saul was done!

Notice, God had already chosen someone to take Saul’s place, one of Saul’s neighbors. We know it will be David. It is so cool because God was already preparing David. He would remove Saul, He would put David on the throne, but Saul had to be killed, so David could take the throne.

I see two important lessons here. First, if we are not faithful to the calling God puts on our lives, He will replace us. He will remove His anointing from our foreheads and put us on the shelf. He will put someone else in our place who will be obedient to the call.

The second thing I see is God’s will is done in spite of us. Saul was not obedient to the Lord and when he was told he was done, he did not step aside. He ignored the judgment of the Lord and tried to keep his position as king. His disobedience continued and grew.

All God wants from us is obedience. He calls us and raises us up, but if we rebel, He will take us down. Be obedient and be blessed!

Only in obedience can we discover
the great joy of the will of God.
~Sinclair Ferguson~

Rejected By God

“Now therefore, please pardon my sin, and return with me, that I may worship the Lord.” But Samuel said to Saul, “I will not return with you, for you have rejected the word of the Lord, and the Lord has rejected you from being king over Israel.”

1 Samuel 15:25-26

Saul wanted Samuel to support him before the Lord, so he could go back and worship the Lord. He was trying to get forgiveness from man. Maybe God would forgive him if he got Samuel on his side. He was still trying to make things right with God in all the wrong ways.

Saul was still trying to find a quick fix to his problem, so Samuel had to lay it out for him. Samuel would not be returning with Saul, because the Lord had rejected him from being king. Samuel could no longer support Saul, because he chose rebellion over obedience. If God rejected Saul, Samuel could not support him.

This is something we have to understand as Christians. We can love our family and friends, but we cannot support them in their sin. God has to be first in our lives. If we support their sin, we are putting God second.

I have had to remove people from ministry because of sin, and it is always painful. I love them, but I have to be obedient to the Lord. Many times, they have been angry and turned against me, because just like Saul, they do not accept the consequences of their sin.

We all have God’s Word, so we have no excuse. When we choose to sin, we know the consequences. We cannot stand with the sinner until there is true repentance. Remember that!

Sinners willfully lose God for a friend.
~Matthew Henry~

Testimony of Faith

Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. For by it the elders obtained a good testimony.

Hebrews 11:1-2

Today is a Christian celebration, started by the Catholic Church in the Middle Ages, to recognize and celebrate the lives of those who walked with the Lord by faith, and their testimonies stand as an example for us today.

When I read the Bible, there are so many great men and women of faith, whose lives were written about to serve as examples to you and me. Some of my favorite saints were not perfect men, but they are great examples to me.

Think about David. He was a man after God’s own heart, yet he committed adultery with Bathsheba. Look at the Apostle Paul. God used him tremendously and he endured great persecution and suffering. He also persecuted the church before his life was transformed by the Lord.

These were two great men of faith, but they were just men. Their testimony is their great faith, not their perfect lives. It is their faith I want to imitate, not their actions. God has a different calling for each one of us, and every calling needs great faith to be carried out.

I have walked with the Lord for more than 40 years, I have been a witness to a number of great saints—men who truly walked by faith and left behind a good testimony. It is my prayer, every one of us would walk by faith, so when we are gone, our good testimonies will stand for the next generation.

Faith has no value save as it links us with God.
~Vance Havner~

Walk in the Light

If we say that we have fellowship with Him, and walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth. But if we walk in the light as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from all sin.

1 John 1:6-7

Halloween, originally All Hallows Eve, has long been associated with Satan and the occult—the dark. The name, All Hallows Eve, was not originally connected to Satan. It was the celebration the evening before All Saints Day, which is the celebration of great Christians from the past.

However, in 300 B.C., the Celtic priests, Druids, began their New Year on November 1 and celebrated their winter festival on October 31, which worships their god of death, Samhain. This practice continued on through the years and today the occult continues to celebrate the dead.

As Christians, what do we do on this day? Should we hide in our houses with the lights out or go out trick or treating? John said, if we walk in the dark or have fellowship with the dark, we are living a lie. We are not Christians. He also said, if we walk in the light and have fellowship with other Christians, the blood of Christ cleanses us from sin. We are true believers.

I believe God is the Lord of all. He created all things from the beginning. We should not walk in the darkness and participate in their celebrations, but celebrate and be in fellowship with one another—not imitating the things of this world, but walking in the light, with the Lord, in fellowship with one another. Do not give Satan even one day of your life!

Fellowship with Christians is for the sake of
fellowship with God.
~J. I. Packer~

False Repentance

Then Saul said to Samuel, “I have sinned, for I have transgressed the commandment of the Lord andyour words, because I feared the peopleand obeyed their voice.”

1 Samuel 15:24

I have asked this question before but it is such an important lesson for us, I have to ask again, “Do you think this was true repentance?” Saul made excuses and passed the buck. When that did not work, he finally admitted his sin, but it was forced, not voluntarily. If Samuel had not pressed him, I do not think he would have admitted his sin.

How many of you have said, “I am sorry,” to your wife or your children, and then go right back and do the same thing? When there is real repentance, you never go back to the sin—you never go back.

Real repentance—most churches are not truly repentant and that is why the church is so sick today. If they were truly repentant, they would be walking and living in the sight of the Holy Spirit, not in disobedience to God.

The rebellious church wants to be blessed, but God does not bless rebellion, He curses and removes the rebellious. Why? He does not have the whole heart of the people. They are not truly repentant, so He cannot forgive.

Remember, it is not what you do in public; it is what you do in secret; in your homes; when you are by yourself; that is what God sees. He sees and He judges. Saul’s life is a warning to us.

Esau wept that he lost the blessing, not that he sold it.
~William Gurnall~

Rebellion & Stubbornness

“For rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft, and stubbornness is as iniquity and idolatry. Because you have rejected the word of the Lord, He also has rejected you from being king.”

1 Samuel 15:23

Samuel exposed the heart of Saul. He was a man of rebellion and stubbornness. Look at what those two things represent. Rebellion is the same as witchcraft and stubbornness is the same as idolatry. Both of these sins were punishable by death—death. In the eyes of the Lord, a rebellious, stubborn person was the same as an idolater or witch, and both would be stoned.

For Saul, the consequence for his rebellion and stubbornness was rejection, not from the people but from the Lord. Because Saul rejected God’s Word, God rejected him from being king of Israel. God would remove His anointing from Saul.

It is important for us to understand. Wherever you are, whatever position you hold, God has put you there. He alone raises one man up and sets another man down. He puts kings on thrones and takes down kingdoms.

God has called us to serve Him, wherever He has us, and He expects us to be obedient to Him and His Word. If we choose to be rebellious and stubborn, God will remove us, just as He removed Saul. It is that simple.

None of us are beyond the reach of the Lord. He knows what is best for His people, and He knows the gifts and talents He has given each one of us. If we serve Him, we will be blessed. If we rebel, we will be rejected.

Man’s impotency lies in his obstinacy.
~Thomas Brooks~

Obedience Not Sacrifice

So Samuel said: “Has the Lord as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, as in obeying the voice of the Lord? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to heed than the fat of rams.”

1 Samuel 15:22

This verse is the key to this entire chapter and the life of Saul. It is also a big lesson for you and me. If you want to walk right before the Lord, you need to circle this verse, memorize it and live by it!

Saul disobeyed God on the mission for the Lord. God told him to utterly destroy the Amalekites, but Saul brought back King Agag and the best of the livestock. He did not utterly destroy Amalek, but he made excuses for his disobedience. The people took the animals to offer to the Lord.

After listening to Saul’s excuses, Samuel rebuked him. God was not interested in the sacrifices of Saul. He was looking for his obedience. God would rather have obedience than sacrifices.

Listen, today people say, “It is easier to ask for forgiveness than permission.” That is what they say when they know they are doing something wrong. They do it and then make excuses, “Oh, I did not know.” They are just like Saul. We are like Saul when we ask for forgiveness after we willingly sin.

Before you come before the Lord with your excuses and fake repentance, think about this verse. I am going to repeat myself. God sees our hearts and knows our motives. He would rather have our obedience than our sacrifices.

Sacrifice without obedience is sacrilege.
~William Gurball~

Passing the Buck

“But the people took of the plunder, sheep and oxen, the best of the things which should have been utterly destroyed, to sacrifice to the Lord your God in Gilgal.”

1 Samuel 15:21

After Samuel told Saul what the Lord had spoken against Saul, his response began with denial. He said, “I have utterly destroyed the Amalekites,” and now we have the BUT. Here it comes. Saul was going to pass the buck. He was going to point the finger at someone else.

Saul was the king, anointed by the Lord to lead the people, but instead he blamed the people. He would have done what the Lord told him to do, BUT the people made him do it.

Where have we seen this before? Remember when Adam and Eve sinned in the Garden of Eden? God asked Adam what he had done. Look at how Adam answered God: Then the man said, “The woman whom You gave to be with me, she gave me of the tree, and I ate” (Genesis 3:12). Adam blamed the woman but really he blamed God.

From the very beginning, man has passed the buck, but that is not an excuse for us to do the same thing. Look at the consequences. Adam and Eve were kicked out of the Garden of Eden, and God removed His anointing from Saul. There are always consequences.

You cannot make excuses and pass the buck with God. He sees our hearts and knows our motives. We have to be obedient to the Lord; and when we sin, we have to take responsibility for our own actions. Once we come to God in repentance He can forgive us, but not before.

An excuse is only the skin of reason, stuffed with a lie.
~Vance Havner~

God’s Perfect Mission

And Saul said to Samuel, “But I have obeyed the voice of the Lord, and gone on the mission on which the Lord sent me, and brought back Agag king of Amalek; I have utterly destroyed the Amalekites.”

1 Samuel 15:20

Wow! Can you believe it? Saul was not telling the truth. He did not obey the Lord. God did not tell him to bring the king back. He told Saul to utterly destroy the Amalekites. If the king was still alive, they were not utterly destroyed.

Saul did not get it. He was so busy trying to talk his way out of the mess he made, he did not realize what he was saying and doing. He thought he was right and God was wrong. God sent him out on the mission. How could God be wrong?

I have seen it so many times. People get caught in their sin, and they try to talk their way out of it. Sometimes, they have convinced themselves they are right and everyone else is wrong. They did not mess up, someone else did.

When we are dealing with the things of the Lord, we had better be careful what we say and what we do. If the Lord has sent us, we better be sure we are listening to everything He has told us to do. We do not want to say we are right and God is wrong. You would just be adding sin upon sin to accuse God.

Remember, when God sends you out, He has a plan and a purpose. You may not see it at the time, but He knows what He is doing all the time, and everything He does and plans is perfect, as He is perfect.

God can neither deceive, nor be deceived.
~Thomas Watson~

No Secrets

“Why then did you not obey the voice of the Lord? Why did you swoop down on the spoil, and do evilin the sight of the Lord?”

1 Samuel 15:19

Underline this: “Why then did you not obey the voice of the Lord?” Remember, Samuel was the person giving Saul instruction, but it came from the Lord. They were not Samuel’s words; they were from the Lord, but Saul ignored the Lord. Can you imagine? Samuel was speaking to him directly from the Lord, and Saul disobeyed Him.

What Saul did was evil in the sight of the Lord. Disobedience to the Lord is a sin. It is a sin against God, and God sees it as evil. More importantly, God sees it. There is nothing we can think, say or do that is hidden from the Lord. Think about that for a minute. Everything we think, say or do is on display for the Lord.

This verse really spoke to me, because I know my own heart and mind. I know there are many times I have to repent before the Lord because of my thoughts or intentions. In the eyes of the Lord, they are evil.

It can be scary to think about our whole lives being open books before the Lord, but what is so incredible is God’s forgiveness. We do not have to hang onto the evil things we think, say or do. We can give them over to the Lord and ask for forgiveness. Not only will God forgive us, but He will help us overcome those things we think, say and do. It is good to know I can go to the Lord in repentance, but I would rather walk in obedience to Him. That is my goal—to obey Him with my life.

We never do anything so secretly but that it is in the presence of two witnesses: God and our own conscience.
~Benjamin Whichcote~

Prove Our Hearts

“Now the Lord sent you on a mission, and said, ‘Go, and utterly destroy the sinners, the Amalekites, and fight against them until they are consumed.’”

1 Samuel 15:18

Underline this verse! The Lord sent Saul out on a mission to prove his heart. Saul had been messing up, so God sent him out on a mission to give him a chance to prove he was faithful to the Lord. He was giving Saul another chance to prove himself.

That is the heart of God. He gives us chance after chance after chance. He wants us to succeed. He wants us to be faithful. He wants us to have fellowship with Him. He created us to have fellowship with Him. He did not create us to punish us or send us to hell.

There are so many people who do not understand the heart of God. He has such great love for you and me. He calls us, equips us and sends us out, and the whole time He is with us. He never leaves or abandons us.

When God sends us out on a mission, he wants to see if we are going to be obedient. As we are obedient in the little things, he gives us bigger things. As we display our faithfulness, we can be entrusted with the greater things of the Lord.

God knows, the only way we are going to succeed in the small things is to destroy the Amalekites in our lives. We have to get rid of the flesh until it is consumed completely. If we hold onto the flesh, He will never be able to entrust us with the big things.

Faithfulness to God is our first obligation in all that we are called to do in the service of the Gospel.
~Iain H. Murray~

Donkeys, Servants, Slaves

So Samuel said, “When you were little in your own eyes, were you not head of the tribes of Israel? And did not the Lord anoint you king over Israel?”

1 Samuel 15:17

Samuel was going to give Saul the words God had spoken to him the night before. They were going to be words of judgment against Saul; they were God’s words, not Samuel’s words.

Notice, God took him back to the beginning. He was reminding him who he really was. At the beginning, Saul was a humble man. He was small in his own eyes, not prideful.

When he was young and humble, the Lord anointed Saul to be king over Israel. God was not looking for a great man to be the first king of Israel. He was looking for a humble man—a man who would rely upon the Lord. He would not be big in his own eyes, so he would walk in obedience to the Lord.

That is what God is looking for today. He wants men and women who are humble. They know they are not great and powerful. They know they need the Lord, every day, in order to do whatever God calls them to do. God is looking for donkeys, servants, slaves.

When God starts to use your life, do not get puffed up with pride. Do not start to talk about all the great things you are doing. Stay humble and remember; you are not doing anything. You are simply the tool God is using to accomplish His will. Without Him, you would have no purpose. Without Him, you would have no ministry.

There is no limit to the good a man can do if he doesn’t care who gets the credit.
~Author Unknown~

Exhort in Love

Then Samuel said to Saul, “Be quiet! And I will tell you what the Lord said to me last night.” And he said to him, “Speak on.”

1 Samuel 15:16

In Verse 14, Samuel gave Saul the chance to repent, but in Verse 15, Saul did not repent. He blamed the people and then he lied and said they utterly destroyed the rest. It was all a lie. Saul told one lie after another; digging himself into a deeper and deeper hole.

Samuel was not interested in any more of Saul’s lies. He rebuked him; rebuked him right to his face. “Shut up! Do not talk anymore!” Can you believe it? Samuel was done with all the lies and blaming. After he had prayed for God’s mercy and grace, all he got from Saul was lies.

Just as He did at the beginning of 1 Samuel, God spoke to Samuel the night before and it was not good. Samuel was going to give the bad news to Saul. It was a message directly from the Lord.

This was a painful thing for Samuel. He was not happy with Saul’s actions, but he loved him and wanted him to succeed. He wanted him to be faithful to the Lord. Because Saul was not faithful, Samuel had to tell him God’s judgment.

Listen, it is very hard to tell people they are in sin, when we love them. It is so hard to explain God’s judgment, when you have been praying for them to repent and they just keep sinning, but we do it because we love them. Remember, if you do not warn them, their blood will be on your hands. God calls us all to be watchmen. We are called to speak truth in love.

When truth is silent, false views seem plausible.
~Walter J. Chantry~

Blame Game

But Samuel said, “What then is this bleating of the sheep in my ears, and the lowing of the oxen which I hear?” And Saul said, “They have brought them from the Amalekites; for the people spared the best of the sheep and the oxen, to sacrifice to the Lord your God; and the rest we have utterly destroyed.”

1 Samuel 15:14-15

Saul told Samuel he did everything the Lord told him to do, but Samuel knew better and he called him on it, “If you did everything God told you to do, why do I hear the animals you took for yourself?”

This was the time for Saul to repent. Samuel was giving him the opportunity to humble himself before the Lord and confess. Did he do it? No! He blamed the people, again! Remember when he made the sacrifice to the Lord instead of waiting for Samuel? He blamed the people then. He said they were scattered, so he had to make the sacrifice to bring them together before the Lord.

Before we judge Saul too harshly, think about it. How many times have we blamed other people? “It is not me; it is them.” Or, “It is my wife; it is my children; my husband.” Instead of taking responsibility and confessing our sin before the Lord, we blame someone, anyone.

The problem with blaming others is it becomes a habit. We never repent, we always blame. If we never repent, we are in big trouble. God is not fooled by the “blame game.” He knows it is your sin and He will hold you accountable. Our sins will always find us out. It is better to confess and allow the Lord to forgive us, in His love, grace and mercy.

You cannot repent too soon, because you do not know
how soon it may be too late.
~Thomas Fuller~

Hypocrite!

Then Samuel went to Saul, and Saul said to him, “Blessed are you of the Lord! I have performed the commandment of the Lord.”

1 Samuel 15:13

What a hypocrite! Saul was lying to Samuel and he already knew it. Saul said, “Hey, I obeyed God,” but Samuel knew better and said, “You did? Let’s check-in with God.”

God gave him the opportunity to repent, but he did not. That is the reason Samuel cried all night long to the Lord. He was praying, somehow, God would hear the voice of Saul saying, “Lord, forgive me,” but there was no voice—no repentance.

Saul came to Samuel praising the Lord, acting like he was walking with God, but it was all an act. He had no relationship with the Lord. If he knew the Lord, he would have repented. He would have known he was in trouble.

We see the same thing in the church today. People walk around using all the popular Christian phrases: “Oh, praise the Lord” and “Hallelujah”, but they have no real relationship with Him. Just like Saul, God gives them a chance to repent and have fellowship with Him, but in their pride and arrogance, they think they are all right with the Lord.

We can fool people into believing we are Christians, but we cannot fool God. He alone knows our hearts and sees our motives. We gain nothing when we fool the world and lose everything when we think we have fooled the Lord.

None are so near falling as those who are most confident in their own standing.
~William Burkitt~

Pride Revealed

So when Samuel rose early in the morning to meet Saul, it was told Samuel, saying, “Saul went to Carmel, and indeed, he set up a monument for himself; and he has gone on around, passed by, and gone down to Gilgal.”

1 Samuel 15:12

Samuel heard what Saul had done, from the Lord, and he spent the night crying out to the Lord for Saul. As the morning came, he got up early to go out and meet Saul. Along the way, he heard more news about Saul. He set-up a monument for himself; a monument for himself, not for the Lord. Interesting.

Saul went out against Amalek, just as the Lord instructed him, but he was disobedient to the Lord. He rebelled against the Lord and did not destroy everything—every man, woman, child and animal.

He rebelled against the Lord, and yet, he was acting like he was a great champion—a hero. It is so hard to believe! He was so deceived in his own mind. He allowed pride to come in and set-up a monument for himself.

Notice, as Samuel was going to Saul, he was told about the monument. Samuel knew how far Saul had fallen from the Lord, and even the people were bringing word to him. His actions were revealed before Samuel ever got to him.

That is something we have to remember. When we are in sin and rebellion, our hearts will be revealed. God will reveal us and so will people. You cannot hide a prideful heart. It is revealed in every action you take, and will eventually be your end.

That which is begun in self-confidence will end in shame.
~Richard Sibbes~

Now the word of the Lord came to Samuel, saying, “I greatly regret that I have set up Saul as king, for he has turned back from following Me, and has not performed My commandments.” And it grieved Samuel,

and he cried out to the Lord all night.

1 Samuel 15:10-11

Wow! Think about what God was telling Samuel. He regretted naming Saul king of Israel. Saul was a disappointment to the Lord, because he was so disobedient. He would not follow the simple instructions God gave him, through Samuel. From the beginning, God told him to be obedient, “Do things the way I tell you to do them.”

It seems so simple. All Saul had to do was listen to what Samuel told him and he would prosper; he would be a successful king, but he did not do it. Again, he did not obey the Lord. He could have obeyed, but he did not—willful disobedience.

Do you think God could or would ever regret putting you in your position? I think He has regretted so many people. When I think of all the pastors who have led God’s church and committed adultery or stole money from the church, I think He regrets raising them up. Now, those men who were anointed by God, at one time, are on the shelf. Do you think God could or would ever regret you?

Even though God knows everything, He gives you the opportunity to obey or disobey. If you chose to be disobedient, you have misused your freedom. He takes it back, and just as it grieved Samuel, it grieves the Lord. Think about it.

Whoever strives to withdraw from obedience
withdraws from grace.
~Thomas á Kempis~

Celebrate God’s Light

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.

John 1:1

As the Jewish holiday of Simchat Torah ends today, I think it is important to recognize, as Christians, the importance of God’s Word in our own lives. John the Beloved opened his Gospel with the words above. Jesus is the Word of God. He is One with the Father and was from the beginning.

The psalmist said, Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path (Psalm 119:105), in the Old Testament. In the New Testament, Jesus said: “I am the light of the world. He who follows Me shall not walk in darkness, but have the light of life” (John 8:12).

I love God’s Word and how perfectly it all fits together. The Old Testament was a light to the Jewish people, leading them to the Messiah. They read and memorized the Torah, so they would know how to live according to God’s Word, but they missed the most important part—the Messiah!

Today, we have the Word of God and the life of Jesus. We can walk according to His Word and follow Him. He is the light in my life, giving me guidance and direction, so I can walk according to the call God has for me, individually.

God has a calling for each one of us and we can know His will, by knowing Him. We can know the heartbeat of God by reading His Word. It is so beautiful. We do not follow God in blind faith. He has provided His Light, Jesus Christ, to guide us on His path, to keep us safe and in His perfect will!

The Bible redirects my will, cleanses my emotions, enlightens my mind and quickens my total being.
~E. Stanley Jones~

Light of God

Your word is a lamp to my feetand a light to my path.

Psalm 119:105

At sundown today, it is the eighth day of the Feast of Tabernacles, and this last day is Simchat Torah—“Rejoice in the Torah, God’s Word.” It is a sacred day of celebration for God’s Word, the Torah, which means “Law.” The Torah consists of the first five books of the Bible, the Pentateuch. It was given to the children of Israel to instruct them in godly living.

As God chose His people, He gave them a leader, Moses, and instructions on how they were to live their lives, giving glory and honor to the Lord. They would go to the Promised Land, where the heathen nations lived, and God did not want them to be infected by their idols and gods, so He gave them His Law, His Word.

The psalmist spoke so clearly when he said, Your word is a lamp to my feet, because that is exactly what God’s Word was for the children of Israel. It was a well-lit path, for the people to follow, in obedience to the Lord.

When God called His people to follow Him, He did not leave them in the dark, stumbling about. He provided His path, lit by the light of His Word, the Law, so they could walk in obedience to Him.

Because the Jewish people recognize the grace and mercy of God, providing His Word, which reveals His heart, they celebrate and lift up His Word as the lamp that guides their lives along His path.

You are to deal with the Scriptures that you bear in mind that God Himself is saying this.
~Martin Luther~

Keep God First

But Saul and the people spared Agag and the best of the sheep, the oxen, the fatlings, the lambs, and all that was good, and were unwilling to utterly destroy them.But everything despised and worthless,that they utterly destroyed.

1 Samuel 15:9

After God told them to utterly destroy all of Amalek, what did they do? They destroyed everything that was bad, but they kept the best, and check this out: they kept the best for themselves. The best should go to whom? God! Think about that.

You may say, “Oh, I give the best to God!” Really? Do not be a hypocrite when you give to God; it has to be the best, not the castoffs; not second best. If you do not want to give to Him, then do not give anything.

If your wife or your husband is first, you are in disobedience to God. He has to be Number One. If you love your wife, your children or grandchildren more than you love God, you are in trouble.

That happened to me when I had my first granddaughter. I loved her so much and God reminded me I have to love Him more than my granddaughter. I was sinning against the Lord.

We do not think about those things, but the Word tells us, love the Lord with ALL your heart, and then love your neighbor as yourself (Matthew 22:37-39). If we are not obedient to the Lord, then how can we do what He has called us to do? Keep God first always in your life and He will bless you and use your life tremendously!

The Christian life begins with obedience, depends on obedience, and results in obedience.
~Charles Colson~

The Enemy Within

And Saul attacked the Amalekites, from Havilah all the way to Shur, which is east of Egypt. He also took Agag king of the Amalekites alive, and utterly destroyed all the people with the edge of the sword.

1 Samuel 15:7-8

Let’s look back at 1 Samuel 15:3. The Lord told Saul to “… attack Amalek, and utterly destroy all that they have, and do not spare them …” Notice the first thing Saul did. He did not do what God told him to do. He took King Agag alive—the leader! The leader was the one who should have been destroyed first. He actually allowed the one who was leading the flesh to live.

When you are in a war, you always take out the leaders first. They are the ones who are planning and strategizing against you. The others just follow what the leader tells them to do, but they are not the ones who have studied you and know your weaknesses.

Saul made such a big mistake when he disobeyed the Lord. He not only allowed his enemy to live, but he rebelled against God. He ignored the command of the Lord and his disobedience will become a snare for him in the future. Ignoring the command of God will come back to hurt him.

If we allow even a small part of our old lives, the flesh, to live in our new lives with God, we will pay a big price. We are going to be destroyed, from the enemy within, not from the outside. God commands us, not to be mean, but for our own good, to protect us from ourselves. He knows what will keep us safe and what will destroy us.

What God wants from His people is obedience,
no matter what the circumstances,
no matter how unknown the outcome.
~Charles Colson~

Hell by Choice

‘”Now go and attack Amalek, and utterly destroy all that they have, and do not spare them. But kill both man and woman, infant and nursing child, ox and sheep,camel and donkey.’”

1 Samuel 15:3

The Lord told Saul to attack Amalek and wipe them out. He said utterly destroy, which means “fully, completely, do not save any of Amalek.” It was not just the people but the animals too. Saul was to utterly destroy the Amalek completely. They were not to take any of the spoil in the victory. God was very clear in His command.

Now, it may seem like God is not fair. He was telling them to kill all these people: men, women and children. How could a loving God do this? Where was His love for these innocent people?

These are the same questions we ask today. How could a loving God send people to hell? Some even say no one is going to hell, since God is love, He would not send anyone to hell.

Listen, God does not send any innocent people to hell. In fact, He does not send anyone to hell. We make the choice. Paul the Apostle said, “There is none righteous, no, not one;” (Romans 3:10). We all deserve hell, but through His love, grace and mercy, He sent His Son to die in our place. All we have to do is accept Him as our Lord and Savior, and we will spend eternity with Him in heaven.

People have to stop blaming God and accept the responsibility for making the choice. We each choose—heaven or hell.

Hell is the highest reward that the devil can offer you for being a servant of his.
~Billy Sunday~

Rear Attacks

“Thus says the Lord of hosts: ‘I will punish Amalek for what he did to Israel, how he ambushed him on the way when he came up from Egypt.’”

1 Samuel 15:2

The children of Israel were in bondage for 430 years in Egypt. After Moses led them out of the land of Egypt, the Amalekites attacked them during their journey through the wilderness; they actually attacked from the rear. They came against all the weak Jews and because they did that, God never forgave them.

Amalek is a type of the flesh. It is interesting because the flesh is always attacking from the rear, when we are weak. The flesh does not confront you face to face; it always sneaks up from behind, attacking the weak.

The flesh cannot defeat those who are strong spiritually, because the strong know God’s Word; the strong have the Holy Spirit of God, and they are focused on the Lord. They are not swayed by the things of the world.

The attacks come when people are not disciplined and their spiritual walks are all over the place. They slack off and say, “Oh I do not have to read today; I will read tomorrow,” and pretty soon they are not in the Word of God. Then they are not walking in the Holy Spirit, they are walking in the flesh. That is why the Word of God is so important.

Listen, we can all be weak at one time or another and the flesh—the old man—will rise up and attack you when you are weak. That is why you have to be in God’s Word every day. You have to be in prayer every day. If you do not begin each day in the Spirit, you are going to be in the flesh.

The believer may be known by his inward warfare as well as by his inward peace.
~J. C. Ryle~

Obedience

Samuel also said to Saul, “The Lord sent me to anoint you king over His people, over Israel. Now therefore, heed the voice of the words of the Lord.”

1 Samuel 15:1

This one verse has so much for us. First, we see the Lord sent Samuel to anoint Saul; just as the Lord has appointed me to anoint leaders, here at Calvary Chapel. Notice, we do not make kings but we anoint leaders. We have a responsibility.

The Bible tells us to lay hands on no man suddenly (1 Timothy 5:22), but what do we do? We lay hands on people without waiting upon the Lord. We need to be careful. They need to prove themselves over a period of time. You have to see their character, maturity and obedience to God.

Second, as Samuel anointed Saul to be king, he instructed him to listen to the voice of the Lord and to heed them—to obey the Word of God. Why? We have to continue to mature in the Lord by reading the Word. The Lord has said a number of times, “He who has an ear to hear, let him hear what the Spirit is saying to the churches.” It is all about obedience.

Obedience began with Samuel anointing Saul as king of Israel, but the obedience had to continue with Saul listening to God and heeding His Word. That was the problem, while Samuel was obedient to God, Saul was not.

God can anoint every one of us to serve Him, but we choose whether we will serve in obedience or disobedience. If we choose disobedience, God will remove His anointing. Think about it.

It is only by obedience that we understand
the teaching of God.
~Oswald Chambers~

Treasure

Samuel also said to Saul, “The Lord sent me to anoint you king over His people, over Israel. Now therefore, heed the voice of the words of the Lord.”

1 Samuel 15:1

Notice how Chapter 15 begins. God had chosen Saul to be the king, and these were the requirements of God to be a king. He had no excuse, he knew; just like we know because we have the Bible! That is why, when people say, “Well, I did not know,” we should say, “Really? Do you read the Bible?”

When you read the Bible, you are accountable for your actions and your motives. I do not care how much or how little you read, you are accountable. That is what the Bible teaches. That is why the church and the leaders are ignorant, because they never read the Bible; they never study God’s Word.

Many people read it superficially, and do not dig into the Bible. You have to become part of the Word of God, in order to grow. It is like when you go deep into the ocean to find treasures; you will find treasures in the Word of God, if you dive into it. That is where the treasures are; they are not on the surface; they are deep below.

The Bible is so deep, with so many treasures, but we do not take the time to dive deep. We really do not know how to dive for the things of God and all He has for us. We need to invest time in our walk with the Lord, studying God’s Word, so at the end of our lives we have many treasures.

The Bible is alive, it speaks to me; it has feet, it runs after me; it has hands, it lays hold of me.
~Martin Luther~

His Living Water

On the last day, that great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried out, saying, “If anyone thirsts, let him come to Me and drink. He who believes in Me, as the Scripture has said, out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.”

John 7:37-38

Jesus was in Jerusalem during the Feast of Tabernacles, or Feast of Booths, (John 7:2), and the city was overflowing with people. During Sukkot, the Jewish men were required to go to Jerusalem to appear before the Lord, so many men from all over Israel were there.

It was about the middle of the feast when Jesus went to the Temple to teach, but the people became angry by the things He was teaching and their murmurings got the attention of the Pharisees and chief priests, who sent officers to capture Him, but He slipped out unseen.

On the last day of the feast, Jesus spoke of the Holy Spirit, the Living Water, who would be poured out after He departed. Those who believed in Him would receive the Holy Spirit when He was gone.

Jesus spoke of the living water during the Feast of Tabernacles, which reminds me of the water God provided for the children of Israel during their 40 years in the wilderness. Every time they thought they would die because there was no water, God would provide, even bringing water out of a rock. God was faithful in His provisions.

As we walk through the wilderness of this world God provides His Living Water, the Holy Spirit, so we can survive the moral and spiritual drought of society. He is faithful in His provisions.

Unless there is that which is above us, we shall soon yield to that which is about us.
~P. T. Forsyth~

The Feast of Booths

For seven days you shall offer an offering made by fire to the Lord. On the eighth day you shall have a holy convocation, and you shall offer an offering made by fire to the Lord. It is a sacred assembly, and you shall do no customary work on it.

Leviticus 23:36

Today, at sundown, the weeklong celebration of the Feast of Booths, Sukkot in Hebrew, begins. This is a week of celebrating and remembering the 40-year journey through the wilderness, with God’s faithfulness and protection for the children of Israel.

Remember, when the children of Israel were going through the wilderness, the Lord was with them as a cloud during the day, to protect them from the sun, and a pillar of fire at night, to guide them in the darkness. He was clearly present and protecting them the entire journey.

As they travelled through the lands of their enemies, God protected and provided for all their needs. He organized the tribes in the encampment, with the Ark of the Covenant at the center of the camp, and He provided fresh manna for them to eat every day.

This is the reason the children of Israel celebrate. There were so many times they could have died in the wilderness, because of the murmuring and complaining of the mixed multitude, but God in His grace and mercy protected them. He preserved His remnant.

When we read of their journey through the wilderness, we see the great love God has for His people. Even when they rebelled, God still loved them—still protected them. He is the reason we celebrate!

Divine love is no abstract theory; it is a living Person.
~Harry Foster~

Transformed Life

For it would have been better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than having known it, to turn from the holy commandment delivered to them. But it has happened to them according to the true proverb: “A dog returns to his own vomit,” and, “a sow, having washed, to her wallowing in the mire.”

2 Peter 2:21-22

Once God touches your life and delivers you from sin, why would you want to go back, like a dog going back to its own vomit? Were you happy in the world? Did you really know peace? Of course not; none of us were happy or at peace.

We have all been in the world, and the signs and the stains of the world remain in our lives forever. There are always consequences to the sins we have sown. We are forgiven; we are saved, but we will still reap.

While the stains of sin can still be seen, when we come to Christ, our lives are transformed. When people see us, they should see a man or a woman full of the Holy Spirit, obeying the Word of God. They should see a new creation and evidence of the transforming work of the Holy Spirit.

If you do not really make a commitment to the Lord and give your life to Him, you are not transformed. You can read the Bible, but it does not mean you are a Christian. There is no anointing— no transformation.

When you come to the Lord, it is so important to move forward, growing in the knowledge and love of the Lord. Do not look back or fall back into the muck and mire of the world.

The man who has lost contact with God lives on the same dead-end street as the man who denies Him.
~Milton Marcy~

For Him or Against Him

“I know your works, that you are neither cold nor hot. I could wish you were cold or hot. So then, becauseyou are lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot,I will vomit you out of My mouth.”

Revelation 3:15-16

In this verse, the Lord was speaking to the church of Laodicea, “I would rather you be cold or hot but if you are in the middle I will spew you up; I will spit you out of my mouth.” The Lord tells us what He expects of His people. If you are not going to serve the Lord and you do not want to be seen as a hypocrite, then be able to say, “Hey, I am cold.”

If God really touches your heart and you are on fire for the Lord; you will have a passion for God and His Word. You will desire to live your life in obedience to Him and all the things He says to do. But if you are in the middle, you are not only divided but you really do not know what you believe. If you know what you believe, you will be either hot or cold.

That is the problem. People really do not know the Word of God. They really do not know God, so they are not hot or cold, just lukewarm. If we truly know what God says in His Word, we are going to either obey His Word and walk with Him or reject it and turn away from Him.

Jesus tells us in Luke 11:23: He who is not with Me is against Me, and he who does not gather with Me scatters. You cannot stand in the middle of the road, with one foot in the world and one foot in the Lord. You are either with Him or against Him. There is no in-between; being lukewarm leads to eternal death, not salvation.

Let it be a settled principle in our religion that men’s salvation, if saved, is wholly of God; and that man’s ruin, if lost, is wholly of himself.
~J. C. Ryle~

Heed the Warnings

Now there was fierce war with the Philistines all the days of Saul. And when Saul saw any strong man or any valiant man, he took him for himself.

1 Samuel 14:52

Notice, the Philistines were a thorn in Saul’s side his entire life. There was no peace for Saul, only war. The Lord did not give him rest from his enemies, but allowed them to harass Saul, because of his disobedience.

Also, in this verse, we see the fulfillment of God’s warning to the children of Israel. Remember, when they asked for a king, God told them what a man would do, if he was made the king:

And he said, “This will be the behavior of the king who will reign over you: He will take your sons and appoint them for his own chariots and to be his horsemen, and some will run before his chariots (1 Samuel 8:11).

Saul did exactly what the Lord warned them about. He took their strong and brave men for himself. He made them part of his army. They may have been needed on their farms, but they were taken to serve the king.

It is so important to listen to the warnings of God. He knows the beginning and the end. He saw the heart of Saul and He sees our hearts and our motives. If we do not listen to the warnings of God, they will come to pass and we will have to face the consequences of not listening to the Lord. Then, we will only have ourselves to blame, because He warned us. He always warns and provides another way for His children, because He loves us.

By obeying Christ’s commands
you will gain more than you can give.
~Thomas Brooks~

Gift of Atonement

Then the sun was darkened, and the veil of the temple was torn in two. And when Jesus had cried out with a loud voice, He said, “Father, ‘into Your hands I commit My spirit.’” Having said this, He breathed His last.

Luke 23:45-46

In the Old Testament, the Lord instituted the feasts and sacrifices to honor and worship the Lord. Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement, is a foreshadowing of Christ’s atoning blood on the Cross of Calvary. When He gave His life on the Cross, He paid the price for all of our sins: past, present and future. He is our Redeemer.

Before Christ’s sacrifice on the Cross, the High Priest would go into the Holiest of Holies and offer a sacrifice for the sins of the nation of Israel. In the Temple, the Holiest of Holies was concealed behind the veil and the High Priest was the only one who could enter in.

The responsibility of the High Priest in representing the people before God was great. If he was in sin and he entered the Holiest of Holies, God would kill him, so he had to be right before the Lord, before entering in.

When Christ died on the Cross, the earth shook, the sun went dark and the veil of the Temple was torn in two, from top to bottom. With the atoning blood of Jesus Christ, our sins were forgiven and we gained full access to the Father. The people no longer went to God through the High Priest.

With Christ’s sacrifice, we are able to go before the Father, at any time, as Christ’s righteousness was given to us. The gift of atonement through the blood of Christ is priceless!

Life is not worth living apart from redemption.
~Oswald Chambers~

Day of Atonement

And the Lord spoke to Moses, saying: “Also the tenth day of this seventh month shall be the Day of Atonement. It shall be a holy convocation for you; you shall afflict your souls, and offer an offering made by fire to the Lord.”

Leviticus 23:26-27

Today, at sundown, we enter into the Day of Atonement, Yom Kippur; the most solemn holy day for the Jewish people around the world. Yom Kippur marks the end of the High Holy days and is the day when God makes final judgment upon the people.

The ten days between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur are known as the days of repentance. The Jewish people have been repenting of their sins, trying to do enough good deeds to cover the bad things they have done, since they can no longer sacrifice animals to cover their sins.

Remember, in Hebrew Yom means “day” and Kippur means “atonement or covering.” On this day, the people are seeking atonement, the reconciliation of God and man. Since they do not believe the Messiah has come, they must seek reconciliation with God every year, as the Lord instructed the people through Moses. The atonement and blood sacrifice was only for the year, a temporary covering. The priest would go into the Holiest of Holies and to make the sacrifice for the Jewish nation.

Think about atonement and what Christ provided for us at the Cross. We know we could never do enough good deeds to redeem ourselves. Think about the grace and mercy of God. He knew we could not get to heaven on our own. First, He instituted the animal sacrifices, and then He provided the ultimate Living Sacrifice, His Son. God’s love for us!

The atonement was not the cause
but the effect of God’s love.
~A. W. Pink~

Great or Small

Then Saul returned from pursuing the Philistines, and the Philistines went to their own place. So Saul established his sovereignty over Israel, and fought against all his enemies on every side, against Moab, against the people of Ammon, against Edom, against the kings of Zobah, and against the Philistines. Wherever he turned, he harassed them.

1 Samuel 14:46-47

After Jonathan led the children of Israel in victory over the enemy, the Philistines went home. The Philistines were beaten badly in this battle, and they recognized the hand of God was against them.

With the victory, Saul established his leadership over Israel. Jonathan was the one God used but Saul took the credit and the throne. In his arrogance, he thought he had won the battle. He did not even recognize the Lord and give glory to Him.

He won this battle and continued to fight against the enemies surrounding Israel. It says: Wherever he turned, he harassed them. He did not want the enemy to get comfortable or to think they could attack Israel. Saul was constantly harassing his neighbors.

I like to think Saul had so much faith and trust in the Lord, he did not worry about harassing them. Unfortunately, I think Saul really thought they feared him. There was no humility in Saul—no real relationship with the Lord. When we really know and love the Lord, we cannot help but be humble in His presence

Humility is not simply feeling small and useless—like an inferiority complex. It is sensing how great and glorious God is, and seeing myself in that light.
~Sinclair Ferguson~

Wisdom in Leadership

But the people said to Saul, “Shall Jonathan die, who has accomplished this great deliverance in Israel? Certainly not! As the Lord lives, not one hair of his head shall fall to the ground, for he has worked with God this day.” So the people rescued Jonathan, and he did not die.

1 Samuel 14:45

Notice, the children of Israel had more wisdom than the king of Israel. They were more in tune with the heart of God than Saul. They recognized God’s hand upon Jonathan and the victory they had against the Philistines and stood up to Saul.

This is a very sad verse. The people recognized the Lord in Jonathan’s life, but not Saul’s life. The people will always go to the one who is following the Lord. Saul would lose the heart of the people, because he was a foolish man who did not walk with the Lord. The people could see he did not have a relationship with God. He spoke out of his own foolish wisdom, instead of according to the Lord.

No matter what you do in this life, men and women follow leaders who have great wisdom. Even in the world, they may not know your wisdom comes from the Lord, but they recognize true wisdom. They will follow you, because no one wants to follow a fool.

If you want to be a great leader, you must first be a follower of Jesus Christ. Without His leadership and guidance, you will be another fool trying to lead the people in your own foolish wisdom and no one will want to follow you.

Wisdom is not the growth of human genius.
It must be sought from above.
~Author Unknown~

Hasty Words

And Saul said, “Cast lots between my son Jonathan and me.” So Jonathan was taken. Then Saul said to Jonathan, “Tell me what you have done.” And Jonathan told him, and said, “I only tasted a little honey with the end of the rod that was in my hand. So now I must die!”

1 Samuel 14:42-43

In the Old Testament, the people would cast lots to determine the will and purpose of the Lord, very similar to drawing straws. It was used throughout the Old Testament and in the New Testament, until the Book of Acts. With the completed revelation of God and the indwelling of the Holy Spirit to guide the people, the practice of casting lots was no longer used to find God’s will.

In this situation, Saul had them cast lots between himself and Jonathan. This seems foolish. Saul knew whether he had eaten anything, but he still had them cast lots and they fell on Jonathan. He was guilty of sinning before the Lord.

Honestly, I do not think Jonathan was the one who sinned before the Lord. Saul had sinned in making a foolish oath to the Lord, and putting the lives of all the people at risk. Think about it. Jonathan was not there when the oath was made, and he could not have defeated the enemy if he had gone without eating. The honey revived him to continue the fight.

This is a great lesson to us. We must think before we make sudden decisions. The decisions we make do not only affect us, but those around us, our family, friends and co-workers. Hasty words could cause great harm.

A word spoken is physically transient but morally permanent.
~Francis Burkett~

Seeking God’s Will

And Saul said, “Come over here, all you chiefs of the people, and know and see what this sin was today. For as the Lord lives, who saves Israel, though it be in Jonathan my son, he shall surely die.” But not a man among all the people answered him.

1 Samuel 14:38-39

Again, we see a man who was not connected to God. Saul was not led by the Holy Spirit, but by his flesh. He was willing to kill his son, because he had no guidance; he was in the flesh, not in the Spirit. He made a foolish oath to the Lord, without thinking, and he was going further, intending to kill whoever broke his oath, even if it was his son.

You have to understand; you will make the wrong decisions, if you are not walking by the Spirit of God. You will make bad decisions. Does God really want me here or does He want me over there? What is motivating you: money, power or the Holy Spirit? The answers to these questions will show you whether your heart is being led by the Lord or by your flesh.

Think about it. Where is the peace of God? It is where God called you to serve. That is important. When we are in the will of God, we are at peace. When we are striving against the Lord, our spirits are at war with our flesh, and we have no peace .

Remember, anybody can make money but not everybody obeys the call of God; not everybody is in God’s perfect will. You make the choice. God gives you the opportunity and you make the choice by the decisions you make. Are you open to the will of the Lord? Are you seeking His will for your life?

God will always reveal His will to one who is willing to do it.
~Hilys Jasper~

Speak Truth

So Saul asked counsel of God, “Shall I go down after the Philistines? Will You deliver them into the hand of Israel?” But He did not answer him that day.

1 Samuel 14:37

Underline this verse. It is very important in the life of Saul. He sought the counsel of God, but God did not answer him. In such a short time since he was made king of Israel, Saul was already on his way down. God will give him an opportunity to do what is right before Him in Chapter 15, but at this time, God was not answering Saul.

There was something wrong in the camp; there was sin, so God was not answering Saul and the people: And Saul said, “Come over here, all you chiefs of the people, and know and see what this sin was today” (1 Samuel 14:38).

Saul was not walking close to the Lord, but he knew God would not speak to or bless the nation of Israel unless the sin was taken care of and the oath of Saul was made right. Remember, Saul made an oath to the Lord without Jonathan hearing it, and Jonathan broke the oath. It was a sin before the Lord.

Look at what James said about making oaths: But above all, my brethren, do not swear, either by heaven or by earth or with any other oath. But let your “Yes” be “Yes,” and your “No,” “No,” lest you fall into judgment (James 5:12).

Do not make an oath or swear to God. Just be a man or a woman of your word, speak the truth and do not sin against the Lord.

The business of truth is to set us free from sin.
~D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones~

Add or Subtract

Now Saul said, “Let us go down after the Philistines by night, and plunder them until the morning light; and let us not leave a man of them.” And they said, “Do whatever seems good to you.” Then the priest said, “Let us draw near to God here.”

1 Samuel 14:36

Once the people had repented from eating the blood of the animals and having a meal, they were renewed, and Saul was ready to go back to war against the Philistines. The Lord had given them such a great victory over their enemy, Saul wanted to continue the battle until every Philistine was killed.

Then, the priest stepped up and said, “Let us draw near to God here.”

He was telling them to seek the Lord first, and see if it would be His will to pursue the enemy. Would they have victory again?

It is important to notice, Saul did not turn the people to the Lord before going into battle. It was the priest. Saul was not giving the glory to the Lord. He did not even think to seek the Lord first. What a big mistake!

No matter what we do in this life, if we want to have the victory, if we want success, we have to seek the will of the Lord. If we fail to do that, we are setting ourselves up for failure. Many times, the failure is not just ours but falls on the people around us: family, friends and co-workers.

It is wise to always remember these words from Jesus: But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you (Matthew 6:33). When we seek Him first, all things shall be added. If not, they may be subtracted from our lives.

Nothing is right for a Christian if it is not God’s will for them.
~John Blanchard~

Refreshed & Restored

Now they had driven back the Philistines that day from Michmash to Aijalon. So the people were very faint. And the people rushed on the spoil, and took sheep, oxen, and calves, and slaughtered them on the ground; and the people ate them with the blood.

1 Samuel 14:31-32

In these two verses, we see the great sin that came from Saul’s oath to the Lord. Because they were so hungry and faint, the people fell upon the spoils and started to eat the animals before bleeding them. Remember in Genesis 9:4, God told Noah: “But you shall not eat flesh with its life, that is, its blood.”

Eating the life of an animal, the blood, was a sin against the Lord, and Saul brought it upon the people by making a foolish oath before Him. Notice, Saul’s oath caused Jonathan to sin and now it caused the children of Israel to sin. The first sin was a sin against the oath and the second sin was a sin against the commandments of the Lord.

The people had acted in their hunger, but quickly realized what they had done and cried out to Saul in Verse 33: “Look, the people are sinning against the Lord by eating with the blood!” Atonement would have to be made for their transgression.

This is a reminder to us. Every one of us seeks to live according to the Word of God, but there are times when we sin, and allow the old man to take over—we transgress. It is important we realize our transgression and repent right away. Take an examination of your life every night and bring everything before the Lord. Then you can be refreshed and restored.

The saint is a penitent until he reaches heaven.
~R. L. Dabney~

Lamb’s Book of Life

Then Death and Hades were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death. And anyone not found written in the Book of Life was cast into the lake of fire.

Revelation 20:14-15

The Book of Revelation speaks to us about the Last Days. God revealed to John the Beloved things which must shortly take place (Revelation 1:1), and He told John to write it down.

Then, in Revelation 1:2, John wrote: Blessed is he who reads and those who hear the words of this prophecy, and keep those things which are written in it; for the time is near.

As Christians, this is the warning we have. This is just like the warning we see in the Book of Deuteronomy, when God gave the blessings and the cursings and told the children of Israel to Choose Life (Deuteronomy 30:19).

When we read God’s Word, we learn the beginning and the end. We walk by faith during our lives, but we know how it all ends. We know God is on the throne and we know our eternal destination. If we choose Christ, we have eternity in heaven. If we choose to reject Christ, we have eternity in the lake of fire.

When we choose Christ, our names are written in the Lamb’s Book of Life and our sins are blotted out by the blood He shed on the cross. In our own actions, we cannot make it into the Book of Life. We need to choose Christ and choose life for eternity with God.

The believer is not redeemed by obedience to the law but he is redeemed unto it.
~John Murray~

Feast of New Year

Then the Lord spoke to Moses, saying, “Speak to the children of Israel, saying: ‘In the seventh month, on the first day of the month, you shall have a sabbath-rest, a memorial of blowing of trumpets, a holy convocation.’ “

Leviticus 23:23-24

Today is the beginning of Rosh HaShanah, the Civil New Year, but unlike the traditional New Year’s Eve celebration, this is a time for reflection and repentance. Just before the beginning of Rosh HaShanah, the shofar will be blown to call the people to repentance. It is a reminder; the High Holy Days are coming.

During this time, it is traditional for the Jewish people to send greeting cards to one another with this greeting: L’shanah tovah tikatevoo, which means “May you be inscribed [in the Book of Life] for a good year.” From the beginning of Rosh HaSahanh, through the Ten Days of Repentance, the people must repent of their sins and do good deeds to make sure their names are inscribed in the Book of Life.

There is no guarantee their names will be added to the Book of Life each year, so they have the High Holy Days to make penance to the Lord. Yom Kippur will end the High Holy Days, but during this time, the people are solemn and serious in their quest to be in the Book of Life for one more year.

It is important to recognize, the heavy burden for the Jewish people who do not recognize their Savior. In our sins, none of us are good enough to be in the Lamb’s Book of Life. I thank God for His Son, without Him, we would all be eternally striving for salvation and unable to achieve it.

Christ is not only the Savior but the salvation itself.
~Matthew Henry~

Humble Wisdom

But Jonathan said, “My father has troubled the land. Look now, how my countenance has brightened because I tasted a little of this honey. How much better if the people had eaten freely today of the spoil of their enemies which they found! For now would there not have been a much greater slaughter among the Philistines?”

1 Samuel 14:29-30

When we read the Book of Samuel, we really get a clear picture of what a godly man looks like and what an ungodly man looks like. First, we had the difference between Eli the priest and Samuel. Now, we see Saul and Jonathan.

Saul was the first king of Israel, appointed by God, but he did not have wisdom, because he did not seek the Lord. His son, Jonathan, was a godly man. He had wisdom and faith, because he was connected to God. He sought wisdom and direction from the Lord.

How had the son become so much wiser than his father? It is clear; he did not learn to seek the Lord from his father, Saul.

Notice, Jonathan loved his father, but he realized the trouble he brought to the nation of Israel. He knew his thoughtless oath was a burden to the people. It did not make the army stronger, but made them weaker.

Wisdom and strength of leadership does not always come with age, but through humility. Eli was older than Samuel, and Saul was older than Jonathan but both young men were wiser, because they were humble men. Think about this before appointing leaders, elders or managers.

Humility is the hallmark of wisdom.
~Jeremy Collier~

Foolish Words

But Jonathan had not heard his father charge the people with the oath; therefore he stretched out the end of the rod that was in his hand and dipped it in a honeycomb, and put his hand to his mouth; and his countenance brightened.

1 Samuel 14:27

This is a very important lesson. Jonathan had not heard his father make the oath to the Lord, but because Saul was the king, and he said, “Cursed is the man who eats any food until evening, …” he placed all the people of Israel under the oath, whether they heard it or not.

How binding are oaths? In Numbers 30, Moses gave instruction on oaths, according to the Lord:

If a man makes a vow to the Lord, or swears an oath to bind himself by some agreement, he shall not break his word; he shall do according to all that proceeds out of his mouth (Numbers 30:2).

The words and oath of Saul were not only for him, but for all the people. Because he made this oath without Jonathan knowing, he caused his son to sin before the Lord. He did not know of the oath until after he had eaten the honey, but it was now sin. Something so innocent and necessary became sin, because of the foolish words of Saul.

It is so important for us to think before we speak. It is so important to seek the wisdom of God before making decisions. The things we say and do can affect so many others, we cannot be careless with our words.

Let thy speech be better than silence, or be silent.
~Dionysius the Elder~

Connected to God

And the men of Israel were distressed that day, for Saul had placed the people under oath, saying, “Cursed is the man who eats any food until evening, before I have taken vengeance on my enemies.” So none of the people tasted food.

1 Samuel 14:24

Look at the foolishness of a man who was not connected to God. He placed the people under an oath that would not help them but cause them to be weak. Going out to battle, the people would need to be refreshed. They would need to eat and drink to keep up their strength, so why would Saul make this oath? He spoke without thinking.

How many times do leaders make the wrong decisions, because they are not connected to God? Think about it. It causes confusion and it hurts everybody else. When we make any decision before taking it to the Lord in prayer, we are in danger of acting on our emotions instead of what we know is true and right in God’s Word.

Let me explain something. There are times when I have to make a decision about something right at the moment. I cannot take time and wait. It does not happen often, but when it does, I rely on God’s Word. I rely on His wisdom. When you know the Word of God, when you have studied it and meditated upon it, you have something to go back to in those moments you have to make a quick decision.

If you are a Christian and you do not know God’s Word, you are like Saul. You will make oaths without the wisdom of God, and they could hurt you and many others. Think about it and get connected to God!

The wisest person in the world is the person who knows the most about God.
~A. W. Tozer~

Live By Faith

So the Lord saved Israel that day, and the battle shifted to Beth Aven.

1 Samuel 14:23

There was a great battle and Saul gathered all his men together to come against the Philistines, then God added to their numbers. It was the Lord who saved Israel that day. It was not Jonathan and it was not Saul.

God used Jonathan, because he took a venture of faith and stepped out trusting the Lord was with him and would give him victory. That is so cool. God used two men but the whole camp enjoyed the benefits of the victory of battle. It was all because of one man who had faith. Everybody was able to enjoy the victory. Think about that. It is pretty amazing to me.

When I read these stories, I just get blown away. I get more faith to do more things for God. I realize just how much God can do with just one or two men who have great faith in Him. Instead of getting discouraged by the circumstances, I read about the great victories God gives, not to the multitude but the few, and I am encouraged. My faith grows.

When we are facing situations in our lives, we have to remember the Lord is in control. He has a plan and purpose for each one of us. He knows the number of the hairs on our head and He knows when we will take our last breath. We do not have to worry about any of that.

Satan would have us discouraged and worried, so he makes the problems seem so big, but is anything too big for God to handle? No way! We serve a big God and we need to live our lives knowing nothing comes to us that does not go through Him first. Live by faith!

Faith rests on the naked Word of God; that Word believed gives full assurance.
~H. A. Ironside~

Order & Victory

And Saul said to Ahijah, “Bring the ark of God here” (for at that time the ark of God was with the children of Israel). Now it happened, while Saul talked to the priest, that the noise which was in the camp of the Philistines continued to increase; so Saul said to the priest, “Withdraw your hand.”

1 Samuel 14:18-19

Saul realized his son, Jonathan, and his armorbearer were missing and something was happening over in the garrison of the Philistines, so Saul called for the Ark of God. Why? He wanted to inquire of the Lord. The Ark represented the presence of God.

While Saul was speaking to the priest, to have him inquire of the Lord, the noise in the Philistine garrison got louder, and Saul told the priest to stop. Instead of waiting on the Lord to speak to him, Saul stopped the priest. In Verse 20, it says Saul gathered the people together and they went out to battle.

Notice the difference between Saul and Jonathan. Saul was older, the father, he should have had more experience and more wisdom, but his son was wiser than him. Why? Jonathan waited upon the Lord. He sought the wisdom of the Lord before going into battle.

When Saul took the people into battle without the Lord it was a mistake. Verse 20 says, and indeed every man’s sword was against his neighbor, and there was very great confusion. Without the Lord, there is chaos and confusion. With Him there is order and victory!

No man is really wise unless he lives in the will
and for the glory of God.
~Geoffrey Grogan~

Follow God’s Will

Now the watchmen of Saul in Gibeah of Benjamin looked, and there was the multitude, melting away; and they went here and there. Then Saul said to the people who were with him, “Now call the roll and see who has gone from us.” And when they had called the roll, surprisingly, Jonathan and his armorbearer were not there.

1 Samuel 14:16-17

This is very interesting. Jonathan and his armorbearer were in the garrison of the Philistines, and the Lord was giving them victory over the enemy. There were only two of them, but they were defeating the Philistines.

In the camp of Israel, Saul and the people had no idea what was going on at the garrison. They had no idea their enemy was being defeated. Suddenly, the watchmen for Saul saw the people running away. It was only then; Saul counted the people to see who was missing.

I think Saul was surprised to find out Jonathan was missing, because Jonathan had not asked permission to leave. He had not told his father his plans. He just stepped out in faith. As the son of the king, Saul may have tried to talk him out of going, so Jonathan went without asking. He was following the Lord. He was trusting in the Lord.

Many times, we look to man for permission. The Lord has shown you to go out to another city, state or country to tell people about Jesus, but you have to get the blessing of your family or friends. What happens? You miss out on God’s blessing. We have to follow God’s will, not man’s.

There is no other will but the Master’s will, for all other wills subserve His, whether they will or not.
~William Still~

Follow God’s Will

Now the watchmen of Saul in Gibeah of Benjamin looked, and there was the multitude, melting away; and they went here and there. Then Saul said to the people who were with him, “Now call the roll and see who has gone from us.” And when they had called the roll, surprisingly, Jonathan and his armorbearer were not there.

1 Samuel 14:16-17

This is very interesting. Jonathan and his armorbearer were in the garrison of the Philistines, and the Lord was giving them victory over the enemy. There were only two of them, but they were defeating the Philistines.

In the camp of Israel, Saul and the people had no idea what was going on at the garrison. They had no idea their enemy was being defeated. Suddenly, the watchmen for Saul saw the people running away. It was only then; Saul counted the people to see who was missing.

I think Saul was surprised to find out Jonathan was missing, because Jonathan had not asked permission to leave. He had not told his father his plans. He just stepped out in faith. As the son of the king, Saul may have tried to talk him out of going, so Jonathan went without asking. He was following the Lord. He was trusting in the Lord.

Many times, we look to man for permission. The Lord has shown you to go out to another city, state or country to tell people about Jesus, but you have to get the blessing of your family or friends. What happens? You miss out on God’s blessing. We have to follow God’s will, not man’s.

There is no other will but the Master’s will, for all other wills subserve His, whether they will or not.
~William Still~

Faithfulness of God

And there was trembling in the camp, in the field, and among all the people. The garrison and the raiders also trembled; and the earth quaked, so that it was a very great trembling.

1 Samuel 14:15

First, God opened the door and allowed Jonathan and his armorbearer to climb up the dangerous passes, and then God helped out again by bringing an earthquake. Imagine that! God was behind the whole situation. He brought fear upon the enemy, so they were running from two people. Imagine that! It seems impossible!

God was protecting His people. He will always protect His people. He will always have His remnant of people. The Old Testament miracles still happen today, because God loves Israel. God is protecting Israel. God has His hand upon the nation of Israel. He protects His people.

If you talk to the people of Israel, they could tell you miracle after miracle after miracle. When you go to Israel, they will tell you all the incredible and impossible things they have seen and experienced, but they do not give God the glory, because their eyes are closed. They take the credit, but we know who it is.

Think about the church of Jesus Christ. God gave His Son for us. He took our sins upon Himself when He was on the Cross. Do you think He is going to abandon His church today? No way! He did not suffer at the hands of man, to abandon us today. Just as God has protected the nation of Israel, He has His hand upon His church. If we truly trust Him; He will blow our minds.

All I have seen teaches me to trust the
Creator for all I have not seen.
~Ralph Waldo Emerson~

Victory in Faith

And Jonathan climbed up on his hands and knees with his armorbearer after him; and they fell before Jonathan. And as he came after him, his armorbearer killed them. That first slaughter which Jonathan and his armorbearer made was about twenty men within abouthalf an acre of land.

1 Samuel 14:13-14

Notice, two men killed 20 men, within a half an acre. Did two men kill 20 men? Think about it. Could two men kill 20 men on their own? No way! Two men did not kill 20 men; God did it. God gave them the victory. It was all God. Jonathan and his armorbearer were faithful to go in, and God was faithful to give them the victory.

Think about the little things God is asking you to do. It is not the big things; it is the little things God honors, before He gives you the big things. He wants to see your faith. He wants to see your trust.

We want to see everything in black and white, on paper, so we can examine it and make sure everything is right. If you know the Lord has called you, why do you doubt? Where is your trust? Where is your faith?

When I look back at my life, I see the faithfulness of the Lord. I see His handprint on my life, all along the way. God has been so faithful to me. Is He going to abandon me now, after 40 years? No way!

God does not abandon us. We abandon Him. We allow fear to cause us to run away. Imagine the incredible things God wants to do in and through you, when you trust in Him, fully and completely!

Trust God even when the pieces don’t seem to fit.
~John Hercus~

No Hesitation

Then the men of the garrison called to Jonathan and his armorbearer, and said, “Come up to us, and we will show you something.” Jonathan said to his armorbearer, “Come up after me, for the Lord has delivered them into the hand of Israel.”

1 Samuel 14:12

Look at the incredible relationship Jonathan had with the Lord. He told his armorbearer, “This will be the sign the Lord is with us.” The Lord heard the words of Jonathan and He saw the faith behind them. Then He gave Jonathan the signal to go. He was with them. He would give them the victory.

Think about the great faith of Jonathan. It was only two men going against a garrison, but when God gave the signal to attack, Jonathan went. There was no questioning—no hesitation. They were not just walking; they were moving fast.

Let me ask you a question. How many times has the Lord clearly told you to do something, but it seemed impossible, so you did not do it, or you hesitated? Look what Jesus told the disciples in Luke 17:6:

So the Lord said, “If you have faith as a mustard seed, you can say to this mulberry tree, ‘Be pulled up by the roots and be planted in the sea,’ and it would obey you.”

All we need is faith as big as a mustard seed, not as big as a mountain. Remember, it is God who does the work and gives the victory, so we should not hesitate when He tells us, “Go!”

Doubters invert the metaphor and insist that they need faith as big as a mountain in order to move a mustard seed.
~Webb B. Garrison~

Miracles & Signs

“If they say thus to us, ‘Wait until we come to you,’ then we will stand still in our place and not go up to them.But if they say thus, ‘Come up to us,’ then we will go up. For the Lord has delivered them into our hand,and this will be a sign to us.”

1 Samuel 14:9-10

It is okay to put a fleece before the Lord and wait upon Him, to see if He is really speaking to you or leading you in something. Sometimes we need some confirmation, just like Jonathan. He was trusting the Lord to give Him a sign, to guide and direct Him. He wanted to be sure the Lord was in his plans. It had to be of the Lord, not of Jonathan.

Have you ever been thinking and praying about something, and then you see it on television or read about it in an article or a devotional? You think, Wow, this is what I was thinking about; this is what I am going to do today! Was it a coincidence or was it the Lord? The Lord leads the way.

Have you ever been somewhere and somebody came up to you and asked, “Are you okay?” The Lord sent that person to pray with you. He was sending someone to comfort you and direct you back to Him.

Think about it; all these miracles happen every day! We are so used to seeing these small miracles; we forget they are from the Lord. They are not by coincidence. It is the Lord guiding and directing. We need to open our eyes and we will experience the miracle and wonder of the Lord every day. He is in the business of miracles. He is just waiting for us to have faith.

We are not to require ‘signs’, but we are to regard signs. They are not given to produce faith, but to inform faith.
~Ian MacPherson~

Never Doubt God

So his armorbearer said to him, “Do all that is in your heart. Go then; here I am with you, according to your heart.” Then Jonathan said, “Very well, let us cross over to these men, and we will show ourselves to them.”

1 Samuel 14:7-8

Let’s look at the faith of Jonathan. When he said, “Let’s go!” to his armorbearer, he responded, “Just lead the way! I am with you!” Do you think Jonathan’s faith was dependent upon his armorbearer’s support? If he had responded with, “Man, I am not going,” do you think Jonathan would have gone up by himself? You bet! Jonathan would have gone without him, because Jonathan had the heart of faith.

Jonathan’s faith was not in himself. His faith was in the Lord. God had called him, and God was going to lead him and guide him, fully and completely. He did not look to his father or to the other men in his father’s army. His heart and his mind were set upon the Lord and what He had called him to do. Think about that!

Many times, I have seen people get discouraged by the people around them. Because their family or their friends do not have faith and do not support them, they begin to doubt the Lord. They begin to doubt the calling of the Lord. What they are really doubting is the Lord Himself.

When the Lord calls us; when He speaks to us from His Word, we have to step out in faith. We cannot wait for everyone else to support us. We have to rely upon the Lord fully and completely. He is the One who is going to do the work, not our friends or family. Do not allow doubters to discourage you!

Never doubt in the dark what God told you in the light.
~V. Raymond Edman~

Patriot Day: Our Strong Tower

For You have been a shelter for me, a strong tower from the enemy. I will abide in Your tabernacle forever; I will trust in the shelter of Your wings. Selah

Psalm 61:3-4

I remember the day America was attacked by terrorists. I remember where I was and what I was doing. It is like it happened yesterday. It was so unbelievable—so hard to believe we were attacked—but just as I remember that fateful day; I remember praying to the Lord. I remember leaning upon Him for strength and understanding.

When I think of all the innocent lives lost on September 11, the only comfort I can find is in the Psalms of David. He was a man who knew great sorrow and persecution. He was also a man who trusted fully and completely in the Lord. He knew God was and is our only strong tower. The only One we can trust in forever.

In the days we are living, we have to realize we have an enemy who is very real. His name is Satan and he will use whatever means he can to take us down. On September 11, 2001, we saw the face of true evil, when men flew planes into the World Trade Center, the Pentagon and the Pennsylvania field, but I know Satan was behind the attack.

We cannot hide from our enemies. We are surrounded by people who hate us, because we are Christians—followers of Jesus Christ. The only refuge we have is in Christ, our strong tower. I pray today for every family who lost someone on September 11. I pray they find peace, comfort and rest in the shelter of His wings.

The sea ebbs and flows, but the Rock remains unmoved.
~Robert Murray M’Cheyne~

Discouraging Doubt

So his armorbearer said to him, “Do all that is in your heart. Go then; here I am with you,according to your heart.”

1 Samuel 14:7

This is an amazing Scripture! Look at the faithfulness of the armorbearer! If you do not have people like the armorbearer when you step out in faith, then get off ship. Seriously! Doubters will discourage you. You want people of great faith by your side.

When we moved from West Covina to Diamond Bar, California, we had many doubters; many unbelievers. They did not want to go to Diamond Bar. They all scattered; they left.

I thank the Lord for that. If we would have brought them with us, it would have been a problem. They would have caused discouragement and division. You do not want to have people who do not want to be one with you and what the Lord is showing you.

Think about it. You have to be united; if not, you will have big problems. You are either called or you are not called; you either trust God and trust the leadership of the church or you do not.

This is important, not just for ministry, but in any venture of faith. It could be your family or your business. Everyone has to be following the Lord. Everyone has to be on the same page. If they are not, there will be doubt and unbelief and then nothing can be accomplished for the Lord. God wants to use people of faith, not unbelief!

Believe your beliefs and doubt your doubts; do not make the mistake of doubting your beliefs and believing your doubts.
~Charles F. Deems~

God’s Opportunities

Then Jonathan said to the young man who bore his armor, “Come, let us go over to the garrison of these uncircumcised; it may be that the Lord will work for us. For nothing restrains the Lord from savingby many or by few.”

1 Samuel 14:6

Underline this verse. The next time you feel like something is impossible, read this verse. This is the faith you need to have to do the will of the Lord. Jonathan really knew God; He knew God was on his side. He was taking a leap of faith. If the Lord was with them, then He was going to give them a sign. Nothing could stop the Lord from victory.

This is an important lesson for all of us to learn. Many times, when we want to take a leap of faith, we do not take it because of our unbelief. We think God is not going to work, so we do not give God an opportunity to work.

I learned this when we did our documentary, about Calvary Chapel and Pastor Chuck Smith called, “A Venture of Faith”. Calvary Chapel has been a ministry of ventures of faith; that was Pastor Chuck’s theme. That is our theme here at Calvary Chapel Golden Springs too.

If God is with us, then we will take a leap of faith, even though we do not have the resources. If God gives me a peace about something, I will move forward to see what God will do. That is our testimony. When you step out in faith, you will be blown away by what the Lord wants to do in your life and in your ministry!

Seeing is not believing. Seeing is seeing. Believing is being confident without seeing.
~G. Campbell Morgan~

Slippery & Thorny

Between the passes, by which Jonathan sought to go over to the Philistines’ garrison, there was a sharp rock on one side and a sharp rock on the other side. And the name of one was Bozez, and the name of the other Seneh.

1 Samuel 14:4

Jonathan wanted to go over to the Philistines garrison, but it was not an easy journey. It was not far away, but there were sharp rocks on both sides of the passes. On one side of the pass was Bozez, which means "surpassing white: glistening or slippery,” and on the other side was Seneh, which means “thorny.”

It was a dangerous journey, but Jonathan was not discouraged. Not only was Jonathan willing to take the risk, his armorbearer was also brave enough to face the dangerous passes. Why? They had great faith.

Look, whenever we set out to do something for the Lord, there are going to be slippery and thorny passes along the way, as Satan puts up as many roadblocks he can to discourage us. That is what he does. He discourages Christians. He tries to stop the work of the Lord.

When we do nothing for the Lord, everything goes smoothly. We have no obstacles—no discouragements. We also have no relationship Him. If we are not hearing from the Lord, serving Him, we have fallen far from Him.

I welcome the discouragements from the enemy. They remind me of two things: I am doing the work and will of the Lord; and He will get me through any difficult pass, because He has called me to this task!

If a man in his heart is tight with God,
God will deal with the problem.
~Alan Redpath~

Anointing of the Lord

Ahijah the son of Ahitub, Ichabod’s brother, the son of Phinehas, the son of Eli, the Lord’s priest in Shiloh, was wearing an ephod. But the people did not know that Jonathan had gone.

1 Samuel 14:3

Notice, the priest at Shiloh was Ahijah, which means “brother of the Lord,” and he was from the line of Eli. Remember, Eli’s sons had been killed in battle against the Philistines and Eli fell over and died when he heard the Ark of the Covenant had been taken by the Philistines during the battle. Before this battle, the Lord had revealed His plan for the house of Eli to Samuel. They were all going to be cut off from service to the Lord. Here, we see Eli’s great grandson was the priest.

Eli’s house had been cut off from the Lord, so it is not surprising that he did not know Jonathan was gone. God was no longer working in and through the house of Eli. Even though he had been made a priest, God was not speaking to him.

What does this tell us? We can appoint people to serve in the ministry, or they can appoint themselves, but without the anointing of the Lord, they are wasting their time. Without the anointing of the Lord, everything a person does in in their own power; their own wisdom. They are not empowered by the Lord.

If we truly want to serve the Lord and be used by Him, we must seek His will, His anointing, and then we can be effective in the Kingdom of the Lord.

Inside the will of God there is no failure. Outside the will of God there is no success.
~Bernard Edinger~

No Fear

Now it happened one day that Jonathan the son of Saul said to the young man who bore his armor, “Come, let us go over to the Philistines’ garrison that is on the other side.” But he did not tell his father.

1 Samuel 14:1

This is quite a chapter. It is all about action and faith. Saul begins to go downhill but Jonathan, his son, was an amazing person, he loved God and he was a true friend to David. He put David above Saul, because his dad did not make the right decisions and God had anointed David.

Jonathan was a man of action. The enemy had come against them, but he believed God would defeat the enemy. He was taking a leap of faith. Jonathan has so many things to teach us about faith. He was in touch with God and he was faithful to the little things God had given to him.

The people serving with Jonathan saw his great faith in the Lord, and they trusted him. They were not afraid to follow him, so when he asked his armorbearer to go over to the Philistines’ garrison, he went, no questions asked. There were only two of them against an army.

When we were in Vietnam, our team of five marines got dropped off to see how many Viet Cong were in the villages. Let me tell you something! It is not easy to be alone with the enemy all around you.

Jonathan and his armorbearer were just two men, but they were not alone and Jonathan knew this. His faith was in the Lord. Whatever impossible thing you are facing today, you need to remember; if God is for us, you do not need to be afraid. You are not alone!

Only he, who can say, ’The Lord is the strength of my life,’ can say, ‘Of who shall I be afraid?’
~Alexander MacLaren~

God—Period!

So it came about, on the day of battle, that there was neither sword nor spear found in the hand of any of the people who were with Saul and Jonathan. But they were found with Saul and Jonathan his son. And the garrison of the Philistines went out to the pass of Michmash.

1 Samuel 13:22-23

Look at the 600 men who were with Saul, Jonathan and his sons. They were men who had no weapons made of iron, but their faith and their trust was in the Lord. They were going to face a great army, but they had the greatest weapon of all, God.

When we look at history, we have seen men rise up who have tried to eliminate the people of Israel. Their enemies did not end in the Old and New Testaments. The Romans were not the last people who tried to subdue God’s people.

Throughout time, God has been Israel’s greatest defense. In the face of impossible odds, the nation of Israel has survived. The only explanation is the hand of God. He has a plan for His people and He will see it completed.

The same can be said for Christians. In many countries, the enemy is so great and the Christians have no weapons against the authorities, and yet, they continue to survive. They continue to multiply. It is the hand of God. He has a plan for His people still, and until His plans are complete, He will continue to work in and through His people. We do not need weapons of iron. Our greatest weapons are prayer, faith, God’s Word and His hand upon us—period!

God always has the last word.
~James Philip~

Victory in Christ

Now there was no blacksmith to be found throughout all the land of Israel, for the Philistines said, “Lest the Hebrews make swords or spears.” But all the Israelites would go down to the Philistines to sharpen each man’s plowshare, his mattock, his ax, and his sickle;

1 Samuel 13:19-20

Wow! Not only was Saul outnumbered by the Philistines, the children of Israel were not able to make weapons for themselves. The Philistines would not allow them to have a blacksmith.

It is interesting to notice, although the Philistines were in charge; they still feared the children of God. They knew the God of Israel was more powerful than any of their gods, so they would not allow them to make weapons.

How had the children of Israel survived with the enemy so close and no real weapons to use against them? It was the Lord. God was the one who protected Israel. He gave them victory. He protected the people, their crops and their animals. They were completely unable to defend themselves against chariots and armed men, but they had God.

As Christians, we fight a battle every day. It is a spiritual battle, not a physical battle and the only weapons we have in this fight are spiritual weapons. We have prayer, the Word and God. That is all we need. We cannot win this battle with knives and guns; we can only win with God and the spiritual weapons He supplies. Remember, before you go out to battle, put on the full armor of God (Ephesians 6:10-20) and you will have victory in Christ!

There can be no victory where there is no combat.
~Richard Sibbes~

Thorn in the Flesh

Then Samuel arose and went up from Gilgal to Gibeah of Benjamin. And Saul numbered the people present with him, about six hundred men. Saul, Jonathan his son, and the people present with them remained in Gibeah of Benjamin. But the Philistines encamped in Michmash.

1 Samuel 13:15-16

Notice, when Saul left to Gibeah of Benjamin, only 600 men were with him. The Philistines were in Michmash with 30,000 chariots, 6,000 horsemen and Philistines, like the sands of the sea. Saul did not go out to meet them in Michmash. He went home to Gibeah.

It is important to recognize; the numbers mean nothing to God. Saul could have been victorious against all those Philistines, with God on his side, but without God, he would have been defeated. He did not go out to meet the Philistines, because Samuel had told him God was not going to establish his kingdom. Saul did not have enough men, and he did not have God. The odds were against him.

The Philistines were a thorn in the flesh, for the children of Israel, so why did God allow them to live? He could have taken care of them a long time ago, but they were still there, a thorn in the flesh.

Why does God allow people who are irritants in our lives to be around all the time? Why do we have thorns in our flesh? Look at the life of Paul and what God told him in 2 Corinthians 12:9: “My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.” We have to get our eyes off our flesh and on the Lord. He is sufficient for us in our weakness.

He who abandons himself to God
will never be abandoned by God.
~Author Unknown~

Friend or Foe

But now your kingdom shall not continue. The Lord has sought for Himself a man after His own heart, and the Lord has commanded him to be commander over His people, because you have not kept what the Lord commanded you.”

1 Samuel 13:14

Not only do we see the kind of man God wanted for the throne of Israel, but He was prophesying—He was revealing the man who would take Saul’s place, not by name but by character.

At first, David brought great comfort to Saul, but as the Lord revealed His plan, he became a great problem for Saul. Because of pride and jealously, Saul will try to kill David, but God will use Jonathan, Saul’s son, to defend him. At this time, Jonathan was a great warrior under Saul. Later, he became a great friend to David and Jonathan helped David, because he saw David was God’s choice.

In our own lives, we have people like Saul and people like David. There are people who are jealous of us and seek to harm us, but God puts others in our lives who are great protectors, like Jonathan. They see the anointing of God and instead of being jealous, they come alongside us.

Why do so many people come against the leaders? It is because they have lost their heart for God. They do not want to be second. They want to be the leader. It is so important to recognize where God has called you and to be content with His calling. Then you can bless others, as God blesses you in your faithfulness to Him.

Faithfulness to God is our first obligation in all that we are called to do in the service of the Gospel.
~Iain H. Murray~

Day of Rest

Work shall be done for six days, but the seventh day shall be a holy day for you, a Sabbath of rest to the Lord. Whoever does any work on it shall be put to death.

Exodus 35:2

Many people think Labor Day is a day of rest—a day for all who work, or labor, to have a day off. While we do have the day off, many people will have picnics and yard parties, but that was not the reason Labor Day was established.

In 1894, the first Monday of September was set aside as a day to celebrate the American workers who have contributed to our country; in strength, economic stability and prosperity and the well-being of our people. Every nation is built upon the people who work and labor.

I think it is important to recognize how the Lord celebrates the laborers. It was Him who instituted the Sabbath; a day of rest to the Lord. God said we shall work six days and on the seventh day, we rest—we spend time with the Lord.

There is no better way to celebrate the laborer and their achievements, than spending time with the Lord, thanking Him for all He provides.

Remember, all the gifts and talents we have are from the Lord. He has enabled each one of us to do the work we do; the work done in unity with others who have gifts and talents from the Lord, to bless the people of our nation. I pray we recognize it is not us we should celebrate, but it is the Lord who provides, and give thanks to Him on this Labor Day.

Man was made to work, because the God who made him was a ‘working God’.
~Sinclair Ferguson~

A Man After God’s Own Heart

But now your kingdom shall not continue. The Lord has sought for Himself a man after His own heart, and the Lord has commanded him to be commander over His people, because you have not kept what the Lord commanded you.”

1 Samuel 13:14

Memorize this verse; it is the key to the church today; men after God’s own heart. That is the key to the leadership of the church and to the congregation of the church, to have a heart after God’s own heart.
Who is “the man after God’s own heart” in the Bible? David, the next king of Israel. A man after His own heart, that was what God was looking for but did not find in the heart of Saul.
When we look at the life of David, we know he sinned but he was a man seeking after God. He repented, and he reaped the consequences of his sin; but God could not find another man like David. Not even David’s son Solomon followed the Lord like David. There was never another man like David.
As I read my Bible, David is a great example of the kind of man God wants to use. Saul is an example of the kind of man God cannot use, because he was unwilling to submit to the Lord. Both men are great examples to us, and that is why God put them both in His Word, so we would learn.
It is so important to not just read your Bibles, but to study the lives and stories of the men and women. Through them, we will learn how to be men and women after God’s heart. I guarantee it!
God is more concerned with the state of people’s hearts than with the state of their feelings.
~A. W. Tozer~

Blessings or Curses

And Samuel said to Saul, “You have done foolishly. You have not kept the commandment of the Lord your God, which He commanded you. For now the Lord would have established your kingdom over Israel forever.

1 Samuel 13:13

Underline this verse and remember the words of Samuel; do not be a fool. It is foolish to do things God has not called you to do or to take positions God has not called you to fill. Why? You are not doing what God called you to do. You are doing your own thing.

What did Saul do? He had failed to keep the commandment of the Lord. He broke God’s commandment. He was called by God, to do the will of God, to follow the statutes and commands of God, not to do his own thing.

There were consequences to Saul’s disobedience. Look what else Samuel told him: the Lord would have established your kingdom over Israel forever. God would have established his kingdom, but not anymore.

God gave him an opportunity because the people asked for him, but it was not God’s will. Still, God was going to work with Saul; He was going to establish his kingdom.

Think about opportunities; open opportunities and then opportunities closed, not because of God but because of us; my disobedience to God and your disobedience to God. Instead of allowing God to bless us, we cause Him to curse us. We cannot blame God. All He asks from us is our obedience. If we cannot do that, we deserve the curses.

The reward of sin is more sin and the reward
of obedience is the power to obey again.
~David Shepherd~

Seek God First

then I said, ‘The Philistines will now come down on me at Gilgal, and I have not made supplication to the Lord.’ Therefore I felt compelled, and offered a burnt offering.”

1 Samuel 13:12

We can clearly see Saul’s relationship with the Lord was not right. He knew of God, but He did not know God. He did not have a personal relationship with God. What was his problem? He did not pray; he did not spend time with the Lord. Instead of going before the Lord in prayer, when the Philistines threatened, he decided to make a burnt offering to the Lord. He knew only the priests were allowed to make the offering, but he did it anyway. He thought the offering would be accepted.

He was very wrong. It does not work that way. Prayer is more important than sacrifice! Sacrifice is nothing compared to prayer, because we need to come before the Lord and be in fellowship with the Him.

There is a saying, “It is easier to ask for forgiveness, than ask for permission.” That is the difference between prayer and sacrifice. When Saul was faced with a situation, he should have gone before the Lord and said, “Okay Lord, you know we are outnumbered by the Philistines, so what would You have me do?” Remember, that is what Moses and Joshua did. When they asked God first, they had victory because they were doing things according to God’s will. God gave them the victory. He did the work.

Instead of asking God to get you out of a bad situation you got into because you did not go to Him first, spend time in prayer and seek God’s way. God will always provide the way out, just seek Him first!

When we miss out on prayer we cause disappointment to Christ, defeat to ourselves and delight to the devil.
~John Blanchard~

Love God

And Samuel said, “What have you done?” Saul said, “When I saw that the people were scattered from me, and that you did not come within the days appointed, and that the Philistines gathered together at Michmash,

1 Samuel 13:11

Notice, Saul was a man pleaser. He was acting in fear, making excuses. He was fearful, because the people scattered, Samuel was not there when he wanted him there and the Philistines had gathered against them. Where was God in all this? Saul forgot God. He was worried about the people.

If God called you, what do you have to fear? People? I would rather have the fear of the Lord, than the fear of people. People cannot do anything to me eternally. God is in control of everything, not man.

I think it is important to remember, each one of us can come before the Lord at any time. We do not need another man, a pastor or teacher, to come into the presence of the Lord. Our relationship with the Lord is one on one.

That was the problem with Saul. He did not have a relationship with the Lord. He was counting on Samuel’s relationship with the Lord. He was not trusting in the Lord, he was trusting in Samuel. Without Samuel, he was afraid of what was going to happen with the Philistines.

Remember, in the end, we will all stand before the Lord, one by one. We will not stand with our parents, our spouses or our children. God wants to know you. He wants fellowship with you alone—love Him and trust Him!

What a vast difference there is between knowing God
and loving Him!
~Blaise Pascal~

Know God’s Calling

Now it happened, as soon as he had finished presenting the burnt offering, that Samuel came; and Saul went out to meet him, that he might greet him.

1 Samuel 13:10

As soon as Saul finished making the offerings to the Lord, Samuel showed up. Samuel arrived seven days later, just as he had told Saul he would. Samuel was right on time, God’s time, but what happened to Saul? He acted out of impatience and fear. He did not wait upon the Lord.

He thought he was consecrating his love to God, by making the offering to Him, but he was wrong. He was worshipping God according to his will and his ways, not according to the Levitical Law, given to Moses. Saul knew better, but he did it anyway.

Many times, we go through the motions, but our hearts are not in it. We come to church, we serve in the ministry, but there is no love for the Lord behind it. We are just doing it because it looks good. We know the heart and attitude we are supposed to have, but just go through the motions, there is no heart.

We are all called to be a part of the body of Christ with different gifts such as: teaching, preaching, helping, along with many others. You have to know where God is calling you and the gifts and talents He has given to you.

The only way we can truly be used the way God wants to use us is to be in the will of God, serving according to the gifts and talents He has given us. Then we can be blessed and bless God and others.

The sin of the world is not that it does not do the will of God but that it does not choose the will of God.
~Arthur C. Custance~

Calling & Gifts

So Saul said, “Bring a burnt offering and peace offerings here to me.” And he offered the burnt offering.

1 Samuel 13:9

This verse gives us an important lesson in disobedience to the Lord. To really understand it, we have to go back to 1 Samuel 10:8 and look at Samuel’s instruction to Saul:

“You shall go down before me to Gilgal; and surely I will come down to you to offer burnt offerings and make sacrifices of peace offerings. Seven days you shall wait, till I come to you and show you what you should do.”

Samuel was speaking to Saul and he said: I will come down to you to offer burnt offerings and make sacrifices of peace offerings. Samuel was going to offer burnt offerings and peace offerings to the Lord. He was a priest and judge for the people, appointed by God. He was the only one who should have been making the offerings to the Lord.

What did Saul do wrong? He decided to play the part of the priest. Samuel was not there when he thought he should be, so he would be the priest and make the offerings. Saul was not consecrated to God; He had no business doing the work of the priest. It was a sin against the Lord.

How many times do we think we can do the job better than someone else? How many times do we try to do something God has not called us to do, or given us the gifts to do, because we cannot wait? It is important to realize, this is a sin. We are stepping outside of God’s will in disobedience.

In all true obedience there is remembrance.
~William Jenkyn~

Be Patient!

Then he waited seven days, according to the time set by Samuel. But Samuel did not come to Gilgal; and the people were scattered from him.

1 Samuel 13:8

Samuel set up the meeting with Saul. In 1 Samuel 10:8, he told Saul: … “Seven days you shall wait, till I come to you and show you what you should do.” Samuel was going to meet with Saul to give him instruction on what he was to do, while Samuel offered sacrifices to the Lord.

Notice, Saul was waiting for Samuel, but he was getting nervous. Samuel was not there and the people were in distress. The Philistines were gathering with their chariots and warriors. Things were not going well for Saul and it says the people were scattered from him.

Saul was told to wait seven days, the number of perfection, the number of completeness; we see seven days throughout the Bible for cleansing and purification. Just as in the beginning of creation, God wanted to complete His work in Saul, but the people were fearful.

How impatient do you get with God? The Lord shows you something through His Word, and you cannot wait for Him to bring it to pass. When He takes too long, we try to help Him, as if God needs our help. God does not need us to help Him. He needs us to wait upon Him. He needs us to have faith and trust in Him.

We will see in the next verse, when we try to help God, we end up messing up God’s plan. If we want our lives to be in the will of God and receive the blessings of God, we have to wait upon Him. Be patient!

Patient waiting is often the highest way of doing God’s will.
~Jeremy Collier~

Trust & Faith

When the men of Israel saw that they were in danger (for the people were distressed), then the people hid in caves, in thickets, in rocks, in holes, and in pits.

1 Samuel 13:6

What does that show you? Fear! Fear entered their hearts. Fear! Do they trust in God? They do not trust in God; they trust in themselves. No matter how many times God delivered them from their enemy, they did not trust in Him fully. They did not recognize or remember they caused their own defeat, when they disobeyed God.

Think of how many people have been destroyed by fear? Some people cannot go anywhere, because of the fear they have. They cannot even leave their homes. That can happen to any one of us.

Years ago, Satan tried to bring fear into my life. He tried to put me on the shelf. When I had flash backs of the Vietnam War I was so afraid to close my eyes and sleep. My wife, Sharon, had to hold my hand just so I could sleep. The enemy was defeated, because so many people were praying for me, and I put my trust in the Lord. I knew only He could deliver me from the attacks.

I promise you this, you will go through the fire; it is just a matter of time. Everybody goes through the fire; if they want to be used by God, so we need to prepare ourselves, spiritually. The men of Israel were not spiritually prepared, so what did they do? Instead of being bold and confident in the presence of the Lord, they hid. Even knowing God was with them, they hid. Do not be like the children of Israel; trust God—have faith!

The time of fear is the time to trust.
~John MacBeath~

Obedience or Excuses

Then the Philistines gathered together to fight with Israel, thirty thousand chariots and six thousand horsemen, and people as the sand which is on the seashore in multitude. And they came up and encamped in Michmash, to the east of Beth Aven.

1 Samuel 13:5

Imagine that! The children of Israel were in an impossible situation. Do you know what is amazing? God always puts us in impossible situations, to see if we really have faith; if we really trust in Him.

When we get into trouble, we always think it is beyond what we can handle. The truth is, it is bigger than we can handle, but nothing is impossible with God. We forget the Scriptures in Matthew 17:20 and Luke 1:37 and how they tell us nothing is impossible with God.

You have to remember; it is not your work; it is His work; it is not your burden; it is His burden. What are we called to do when we face the impossible? We have to be obedient to what He calls us to do; that is all He wants—obedience. When we are obedient, then He will give us the victory. If we are disobedient, He will give us defeat, only to teach us things we need to learn before it is too late.

Saul did not learn this lesson, and that is why he was defeated. He always made excuses. If you make excuses for everything you do, then you are like Saul. When you make excuses instead of doing what God really wants you to do, you miss out. God gave you an opportunity, but you closed the door to whatever God wanted to do in your life.

God’s commands carry no RSVP—man indeed has the power to refuse the divine summons, but not the right.
~R. C. Sproul~

Evidence of Pride

And Jonathan attacked the garrison of the Philistines that was in Geba, and the Philistines heard of it. Then Saul blew the trumpet throughout all the land, saying,“Let the Hebrews hear!” Now all Israel heard it said that Saul had attacked a garrison of the Philistines, …

1 Samuel 13:3-4

We see the character of Saul starting to show itself in these verses. The Philistines were a real problem for the children of Israel. We saw that earlier in the book. They came against Israel and took the Ark of the Covenant. They kept it, even after God brought the plagues on them, so they had to return the Ark to Israel, yet they still did not learn their lesson. They still came against God’s people.

Now, Jonathon, the son of Saul, was out attacking the Philistines. He was out at war and Saul was home, playing the part of messenger. He was blowing the trumpet and announcing the battle. Notice, Jonathon attacked the garrison but Saul got the credit for the battle. The people heard and said Saul attacked the Philistines.

Wow, can you believe it? Jonathon was in the battle but his father took all the credit. As the king, Saul should have been lifting up his son and praising him for a job well done, but instead, he took the credit. Ultimately, God gave the victory, but it was under Jonathon’s leadership, not Saul’s.

What do we see in Saul’s character? He was prideful. He was no longer a man of humility. We will see even greater evidence as we read on, but the signs are already here. Do you know why? He was not connected with God. Without God, we are all prideful men.

No sin is so deeply rooted in our nature as pride. It cleaves to us like our skin.
~J. C. Ryle~

God’s Mission

Saul reigned one year; and when he had reigned two years over Israel, Saul chose for himself three thousand men of Israel. Two thousand were with Saul in Michmash and in the mountains of Bethel, and a thousand were with Jonathan in Gibeah of Benjamin. The rest of the people he sent away, every man to his tent.

1 Samuel 13:1-2

Listen, it is a king’s responsibility to serve the people, not the other way around. The first thing I noticed about Saul was all the people he gathered around him, and, yet, God had His own chosen one among them—Jonathan, Saul’s son. He was the one who was going to be used greatly with David. Jonathon did not want to be like his family. He wanted to be like God.

I honor people and God honors people who have hearts for the Lord. They seek the approval of the Lord, instead of man’s approval. Many times, we talk about family, but if family is not right with God we can only pray for them. If we stand with family in unrighteousness, then we are not godly. We are contradicting the Word of God.

Remember, when you make a commitment to the Lord; you are counting the cost. It is not about money. It is about serving the Lord, and being obedient to God’s call, His mission for you.

Saul had a mission, but he got caught up in pride and forgot the call of God. It was not God’s plan to have a man lead His people, but He was going to use Saul. It was not God’s plan for Saul to be disobedient. It was Saul’s plan. If we are not obedient to the Lord, He cannot use us—He will not use us. Remember that!

True faith commits us to obedience.
~A. W. Tozer~

Christian Witness

Beloved, do not imitate what is evil, but what is good.He who does good is of God, but he who does evilhas not seen God.

3 John 1:11

We are living in very crucial days, very critical days; unless God works in my life, in my family’s lives and in His church, we are not going to accomplish anything for the Lord. We are living for self. We just have a job, but we do not have a call of God, a call to do God’s will. Whoever you are and wherever you are, God has established you there to be salt and light.

When you become salt and light, you are not only creating a thirst in people for God, but God will shine through you, wherever you go. Then you will have a great witness; a great testimony. There is no stain.

Too many people “say” but they do not “do”, and that is why the world is turned off to Christianity. Especially if you work in the world; you tell people you are a Christian, but then your actions are not Christ-like. They are like the world.

It is not only in the world, we see it in the church all the time, even among leaders. Many leaders, over the last 40 years, have fallen into sexual sin or they have stolen money from the church. Think about it. All the things people in the church do and they are supposed to be called by God, to serve Him and yet, they stab God in the back. Something is wrong. There is no fear of God.

If you really fear the Lord, walk in the light, as a true witness of the Lord Jesus Christ, or do not call yourself a Christian.

What I live by, I impart.
~Augustine~

No Connection with God

Jesus answered and said to him, “If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word; and My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make Our home with him.”

John 14:23

I think the church is out of order today, and God wants us to be in order. He cannot use a divided church. He needs His people to be united under His Word. He needs willing, obedient vessels to accomplish His work, especially in the days we are living in.

It is crazy. When you talk to people, they have no sense of conviction; they have no sense of God’s presence. It is a shame because many young men today are future pastors, but they know more about their iPods and their music than about God. It is interesting! It is incredible!

They can spend hours searching the internet, when they could spend the time with God and really hear from Him. I think the internet should only be used to study God’s Word and not to go around and get in trouble. If you go out there looking, you are going to be tempted.

If you are constantly on the computer, then what is going to happen to your spiritual life? You may have more information, but if you do not have God’s Word, then how can you minister. You are not connected to the main source. We are connected to so many sources, but we are not connected to the main source; that is a real problem.

That is what happens. When there is no spirituality, there is no connection to God and then there is no work for God. That is why churches are dying; that is why leaders are dying today.

At the profoundest depths of life, men talk not
about God, but with Him.
~D. Elton Trueblood~

Follow Christ

Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever. Do not be carried about with various and strange doctrines. For it is good that the heart be establishedby grace, not with foods which have not profitedthose who have been occupied with them.

Hebrews 13:8-9

I recently read a book by Charles Finney and one of the things he shared really spoke to me. He said if you want to win people for the Lord, you have to be alone with God. You have to be alone with God in order to hear His voice, in order to have direction and commission from Him in your life.

It seems all these men of God from the past were successful, because they had an ear to hear God, to really hear God. They were not carried away with false doctrine, because they heard from the Lord.

Today in the church, we are listening more to men than God, and the condition of the church is in trouble because of this. The church will never change unless we change, individually. Unless the leadership really changes, the congregation will never change. Jesus Christ our Lord and Savior shows us who we are and what He wants us to do.

The only way to know Him is to be in His Word and to be in communion with Him. Taking the Bible and going through book by book. God was a God of order. He is the same yesterday, today and tomorrow. Do not be deceived by the false teachers. Follow Christ—period.

Every doctrine that is not embedded in
the Cross of Jesus will lead astray.
~Oswald Chambers~

Practicing Sin

“But if you still do wickedly, you shall be swept away, both you and your king.”

1 Samuel 12:25

Again, look at the grace and mercy of God. He was warning the people, still using His prophet Samuel. God knew the heart of the people. He knew they would turn from Him again, but He was trying to warn them. He really wanted them to stay faithful to Him, but in His heart, He knew the wicked hearts of His people.
If you go back through the Old Testament and then the New Testament, even to this present day, you can see the cycle of men worshipping God and then turning from Him. It is the desire of man’s heart to worship idols and do evil in the sight of the Lord.
Look at our nation today. We are a nation who has turned its heart against the Lord. Many people say they are Christians, but they are practicing sin every day. They are lying, cheating, fornicating, committing adultery and making excuses—pretending it is a one-time thing. They are lying to themselves, God sees them practicing sin—enjoying sin.
It is important to recognize; we all sin and fall short of the glory of God, but we can repent and be forgiven. When someone chooses to practice sin, which means not repenting, but living it every day, they are living wickedly before the Lord and He will sweep them away.
God will chastise and punish people for their iniquity, both individually and as a nation. If the United States continues to sin against the Lord, He is not going to put up with it. He has given the church a wake-up call. Wake up!
God’s wounds cure; sin’s kisses kill.
~William Gurnall~

God’s Work: Past, Present & Future

“Only fear the Lord, and serve Him in truth with all your heart; for consider what great thingsHe has done for you.”

1 Samuel 12:24

Notice, we are to fear the Lord and serve Him with all of our hearts. We are either for God or we are against Him. Remember what John wrote to the church of Ephesus in Revelation 3:16: So then, because you are lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will vomit you out of My mouth.

God desires we serve Him with all our hearts; there is no room for false idols to creep in. There is no opportunity to be turned away by something or someone else.

Look at what else Samuel said: “… for consider what great things

He has done for you.” When we consider the great things God has done for each one of us individually, it is easy to fear and serve Him with all of our hearts. Why would we serve anyone else? Who else has given us eternal life? No one, it is the Lord alone who saves us. There is only one way to heaven and that is through the Son, Jesus Christ.

When I think of all Christ has done for me in my life, I am blown away. I cannot believe the Lord would choose me to lead His church. There is no way I earned anything the Lord has blessed me with. It is all His grace and His mercy.

Do not ever forget the past and the present, all the things God has done. Look to the future and all God still wants to do in your life, and your faith will stay strong. He is alive and working in the past, present and future!

Remembrance of past mercies is a great
stimulus to present faith.
~Jerry Bridges~

Love & Prayer

“For the Lord will not forsake His people, for His great name’s sake, because it has pleased the Lord to make you His people. Moreover, as for me, far be it from me that I should sin against the Lord in ceasing to pray for you; but I will teach you the good and the right way.”

1 Samuel 12:22-23

Underline these two verses. First, Samuel gave the people great hope. He told them God would not forsake His people. Why? It pleased Him to make us His people. Even though we are sinners, God loves us and chooses us. He pursues us, waiting for us to call out to Him. That is what we see time and time again, throughout the Scriptures—God’s great love for His people.

Second, Samuel told them he would pray for them. Even though they rejected God and rejected him, he would pray for them. Why? It is a sin not to pray. Wow! It is a sin not to pray for people.

Did you know it was a sin not to pray for others? I am not talking about praying for your friends and family. I am talking about praying for your enemies—people who do not like you. You have to pray for them! Not just a bunch of little words, but true and sincere prayer before God.

As Christians, we have to really remember, these two things. God loves us; each one of us—even our enemies. He desires to have a relationship with all of us. He wants us to pray for one another. Pray for our country, our President, Congress, the church and their leaders. If we really want to see the hand of God move, we must get on our knees and pray. I believe we will see God move mightily, if the body of Christ would pray!

When we do not pray, we work against God.
~E. F. Hallock~

Christ Alone

Then Samuel said to the people, “Do not fear. You have done all this wickedness; yet do not turn aside from following the Lord, but serve the Lord with all your heart. And do not turn aside; for then you would go after empty things which cannot profit or deliver, for they are nothing.”

1 Samuel 12:20-21

Samuel gave the people reassurance; there was still the opportunity to repent and follow the Lord. He also gave them the same direction Moses gave in Deuteronomy 28 – 30. It was another reminder of God’s Word and God’s requirement.

Notice, he told them to serve the Lord and not turn aside from following Him, for then they would end up seeking and serving false gods. They would go after empty things, which would not profit them.

You see, in our hearts, we all serve someone or something. That is why Samuel was warning the people. If they did not worship and serve the true, living God, they would worship and serve something. Even if you serve your own selfish needs, you are serving something—self.

What we have to remember is only God can deliver us. Only God can provide for all our needs and most importantly, it is only through God we are saved. God provided His only Son for our redemption. There is nothing and no one else who can provide eternity with Him, only Jesus.

If we serve false gods or self, we face eternity without the Lord, which means we face eternity in hell. The only way to heaven is through the Cross of Jesus Christ, without it we are all hell bound.

Christ is the final word about salvation. Here, He is not only without peer, He is without a competitor.
~G. Campbell Morgan~

Deceive & Justify

So Samuel called to the Lord, and the Lord sent thunder and rain that day; and all the people greatly feared the Lord and Samuel. And all the people said to Samuel, “Pray for your servants to the Lord your God, that we may not die; for we have added to all our sins the evil of asking a king for ourselves.”

1 Samuel 12:18-19

First, Samuel reminded the people what God had done for their fathers and for them. Then he told them they had sinned against the Lord, but if they turned from their rebellion, God would be with their king and with them. Now, God will confirm the words of Samuel. He told them God would bring rain and thunder, and He did.

Notice, the people feared God and Samuel. Finally, they understood the evil of their sin. After all Samuel had been telling them, they finally recognized and feared the hand of God. They woke up to their sin—this is because they wanted a king.

Many times, we are blinded to our sin. We want something so badly, we justify our actions. We make all kinds of excuses, but in our hearts, we know we are wrong; we know we are in sin. It is not only the children of Israel. We all have wickedness in our hearts.

This is the reason we must be in the Word every day and in prayer. If we leave the house without spending time with the Lord, we are going out into the world led by our flesh and not the Spirit. If our flesh is in charge, the world and Satan will get us every time. We will deceive ourselves and justify our sin.

If there is anything worse than our sins, it is our infinite capacity to rationalize it away.
~Charles Colson~

Communion with God

“Now therefore, stand and see this great thing which the Lord will do before your eyes: Is today not the wheat harvest? I will call to the Lord, and He will send thunder and rain, that you may perceive and see that your wickedness is great, which you have done in the sight of the Lord, in asking a king for yourselves.”

1 Samuel 12:16-17

The children of Israel had just experienced a victory under the leadership of King Saul. They were celebrating his leadership. They believed they had made a good decision. Samuel stepped up and told them the truth. They had sinned against God. They had rejected Him, not Samuel.

To prove everything he told the people, Samuel gave them a confirmation from the Lord. He was going to send rain and thunder—to authenticate Samuel’s word to the people. They would understand what Samuel told them came from the Lord; it was not just Samuel speaking.

Do you know what blows me away about Samuel? He was in contact with God. He knew what God was thinking and how He wanted to show the people His displeasure. The people may not have believed his message was from God, but they would soon believe it, as Samuel would pray for the Lord to bring the rain and thunder.

We should be in touch with the Lord. Through His Word and prayer, we should know the heartbeat of the Lord. He desires to have the same communion with us. We have to be led by Him; we have to trust in Him, so He can accomplish His will.

I am so busy at the present time I cannot do with less than four hours each day in the presence of God.
~Martin Luther~

History Repeats

“However, if you do not obey the voice of the Lord, but rebel against the commandment of the Lord, then the hand of the Lord will be against you,as it was against your fathers.”

1 Samuel 12:15

Samuel took the children of Israel back to Deuteronomy 28 – 30, where Moses gave their fathers the blessings and the curses. God told them, “If you follow my statues and commandments, I will bless you, but if you rebel against me, I will curse you. I will make your enemies the head and you will become the tail.”

Rebellion—that is the warning. If you rebel against the statutes and commandments of the Lord, then His hand will be against you, not for you. Notice, God’s hand will be against them, just as it had been against their fathers. Even though God gave the Ten Commandments and Moses warned them again in Deuteronomy, their fathers did not learn. They rebelled against the Lord.

Look at the generation today. They have rebelled against the Lord. We have Moses, the prophets, the disciples, the Words of Jesus and the Holy Spirit, but we still have rebellious people. It is so sad.

When you read God’s Word, you see God is the same yesterday, today and will continue on tomorrow with the same message: “Follow Me and I will bless you. Turn from Me and you are on your own. You will be the tail and your enemies will be the head.” How can we expect the blessings of God without the presence of God? Think about it. It is impossible!

It is the tendency of righteousness to produce blessings, as it is the tendency of evil to produce misery.
~Charles Hodge~

Unending Forgiveness

“If you fear the Lord and serve Him and obey His voice, and do not rebel against the commandment of the Lord, then both you and the king who reigns over you will continue following the Lord your God.”

1 Samuel 12:14

In these next two Verses, 14 and 15, Samuel gave Israel a choice. It was a reminder from Joshua 24:14-15, when Joshua told the people to choose who they would serve, God or the heathen gods.

In Verse 14, He began with their first choice. If the people and their king feared the Lord, served Him and obeyed His voice, they would be following the Lord. He would be with them.

Underline those three things: fear, serve and obey. It was the same command Joshua gave the people. God gave instruction and opportunity for the people to live in obedience to Him and His Word. It was so simple. There was not a long list of commands, just fear, serve and obey. Simple, right?

It was so simple; and yet they had failed in the past and God was bringing them back to the basics. He was giving them an opportunity to make things right. They rejected Him as King, but if they and their earthly king feared, served and obeyed the Lord, He would be with them. This is so cool.

Look at how much God loves us. They failed, just like us, but God gives us another chance, and then another chance. That is incredible love, only God could have for His people.

It would tire the hands of an angel to write down all the pardons God bestows upon true penitent believers.
~William Bates~

Reflect & Remember

“And when you saw that Nahash king of the Ammonites came against you, you said to me, ‘No, but a king shall reign over us,’ when the Lord your God was your king. Now therefore, here is the king whom you have chosen and whom you have desired. And take note,the Lord has set a king over you.”

1 Samuel 12:12-13

Look at the charge Samuel made against the children of Israel. After all God had done for them, they rejected Him and asked for a man to be king over them. God had given them victory in their battles, but they no longer trusted Him to be their protector. They thought a man could deliver them.

It is so hard to believe. From generation to generation, God had done the miraculous before their eyes, yet because of some bad judges, they turned away from the Lord. It was men who had failed them, not God, but they chose men over the Lord.

When I look back over my life, I can see the hand of God upon me. Even before I came to the Lord, I knew it was Him who got me through Vietnam and brought me home. He took me, a kid who barely made it through high school, and allowed me to be the shepherd over His flock. If I turned from God now, I would be finished—finished!

As individuals, we need to take an account of our lives. We need to reflect and remember the mighty things God has done for us. As a nation, He established us and delivered us from our enemies. Now, He is allowing us to reap to the decisions our leaders have made, to reject Him. Think about it.

Every day we are the objects of the grace of God.
~Donald Grey Barnhouse~

Faithful & Just

“Then they cried out to the Lord, and said, ‘We have sinned, because we have forsaken the Lord and served the Baals and Ashtoreths; but now deliver us from the hand of our enemies, and we will serve You.’”

1 Samuel 12:10

Notice how faithful God is to His people—He is just in all things. All through the Old Testament, we see the people walking with God, turning from God, getting into trouble, and then crying out to God. They wanted their own way, but when their way got them into trouble, they wanted God to fix things.

After turning from God and serving foreign gods, the people were in bondage to their enemies. God had turned them over to the enemy. If they did not want to walk with Him, He would not force them, but He also would not protect them in their rebellion.

Samuel reminded them of God’s deliverance once again. In Verse 11, he told of the judges God raised up to deliver them: “And the Lord sent Jerubbaal, Bedan, Jephthah, and Samuel … “

God is ever faithful and just. He does the same thing for you and me. He is always there for us, when we cry out to Him, but we have to remember, if we choose to rebel against Him, He will let us. He will allow us to get into trouble without interfering.

How many times have you told God, “If You only give me another chance, I will serve You Lord.”? Think about it, if You only; if You only; if You only, I promise I will do this.

Those men are false, God is faithful.
~Matthew Henry~

Chasten in Love

“And when they forgot the Lord their God, He sold them into the hand of Sisera, commander of the army of Hazor, into the hand of the Philistines, and into the hand of the king of Moab; and they fought against them.”

1 Samuel 12:9

Notice, when God’s people are seeking Him, walking according to His ways, He is there. He has everything under control. When they do not want to do things God’s way, He allows us go our own way. In this verse, Samuel said, if you disobey the Lord, He will sell you into the hands of your enemy. He will turn you over to your enemy.

That sounds harsh. It seems like God does not want to help us if everything is not done according to His plan. Why? He is God. He knows what is best for us, but He will not force His will on us. He will allow us to live according to our will. It is all our choice. God will not make us do anything, but He will not support us in our rebellion.

Listen; if you are a parent, you know what it is like when your child is rebellious. They do not want to follow your rules, because they are not fair. They are old enough to make their own decisions, and we are just too old to understand. That is how our children think these days.

That is how we act with God—rebellious children. God knows what will help us and build us up, and He also knows what will destroy us. He wants us to avoid those things which will tear us down and because He loves us, He will chasten us. It is just like when you punish your child in love. You know what is best and you want them to prosper, not fail. That is a small glimpse of the love God has for you and me.

God’s chastening originates in His love.
~Vance Havner~

God’s Plan

“When Jacob had gone into Egypt, and your fathers cried out to the Lord, then the Lord sent Moses and Aaron, who brought your fathers out of Egypt andmade them dwell in this place.”

1 Samuel 12:8

It was all God; when the children of God cried out in their slavery, God heard and He sent Moses and Aaron to bring them out of Egypt. God used Moses and Aaron to accomplish His purpose. Without God, they would not have even tried to rescue Israel from Egypt. They were vessels but God was the One who did it. God uses people to accomplish His will.

When God provided for Joseph and his family in Egypt, He knew already what was going to happen. He was not surprised when Pharaoh turned against His people and took them into bondage. Before Jacob took his family to Egypt, God knew He would have to rescue His people.

When Moses was put into the Nile River, God made sure Pharaoh’s daughter was bathing, so she could rescue him from the water. God had a plan. He was setting the stage.

Out in the desert, as Moses was tending the flocks of his father-in-law, God was preparing him to lead His people through the desert. He knew what was coming and He was making sure Moses was ready for the job.

It is the same for us. We do not want to have problems. We want everything to be smooth. We pray for the Lord to take us out of difficult situations, but He is there with us, molding and shaping us. He has a plan.

God knows what He is going to make of us.
~James Montgomery Boice~

Wisdom & Knowledge of God

“Now therefore, stand still, that I may reason with you before the Lord concerning all the righteous acts of the Lord which He did to you and your fathers:”

1 Samuel 12:7

Samuel was making sure the children of Israel understood the consequences of the decision they had made. Because they rejected God, things would no longer be the same. They wanted a man to lead them, so they had to accept the decisions he made for them, good or bad.

We have to remember, God guides, He knows exactly what the best decision is for each one of us. He knows whether it is best to go or to stay. He knows the beginning and the end. Nothing is a surprise to God.

As He led the nation of Israel, He knew when to move the tabernacle along with the nation and when to stay put. He knew when to go to war and what strategies to use against each army. He provided for their every need. It was all done according to the wisdom and knowledge of the Lord, not man’s limited knowledge.

When they choose a man as king instead of God, they were forgetting the righteous acts the Lord did for them. They were forgetting they survived because of God, and His love for them.

It is the same for us. When we have a problem or a situation, we often go to man for advice instead of God. No matter how good your friends are, they cannot give you the guidance God can give you. It is best to bring everything to the Lord, and seek His guidance through His Word first. Then, you will operate according to God’s wisdom and not man’s.

God knows best what is best. Why then
should we question him?
~Author Unknown~

It is God

Then Samuel said to the people, “It is the Lord who raised up Moses and Aaron, and who brought your fathers up from the land of Egypt.”

1 Samuel 12:6

In Verses 6-13, Samuel spoke to the people of the Lord’s faithfulness. He began in remembrance of Moses and Aaron. God raised up Moses and Aaron to lead the children of Israel out of their bondage in Israel.

Samuel was making a point by saying these words: It is the Lord who raised up … The nation of Israel was changing from a theocracy to a monarchy. God would no longer be their king, their leader. Now, a man would take over and lead the children of Israel.

Do you see the problem? Do you understand the point Samuel was making to the people? It was not Moses who really led them out of Egypt. It was not Moses of Aaron who changed Pharaoh’s mind and convinced him to let them go. It was the Lord. He rescued His people from bondage. He enabled Moses to bring the plagues. It was all God, not man.

There are so many times when we forget we are not the smartest, the fastest or the strongest. Everything we do is done through the power of the Lord. He enables us; He gives us gifts and talents. Every time we succeed, it is God. God does everything.

We have to keep our eyes on the Lord every day, every minute, or we will forget who we are; we will forget who God is. Stay humble and remember It is the Lord who raised up … If He does not raise you up, you will fail. It is that simple.

He who knows himself best esteems himself least.
~Henry G. Bohn~

Words & Actions

Then he said to them, “The Lord is witness against you, and His anointed is witness this day, that you have not found anything in my hand.” And they answered,“He is witness.”

1 Samuel 12:5

Samuel’s innocence had been established and the people of Israel testified before the Lord and before Saul. They could not come back and make an accusation against Samuel. He had been a faithful servant of the Lord. He had served the people without ever taking advantage of them or cheating them.

The people said, “Yes, with God as our witness, we find Samuel blameless in all he did as the judge of Israel.” These words were important, because they had complained against the sons of Eli. They had complained when Eli did not take care of his sinning sons. They recognized Samuel was a godly man.

As Christians, we have to remember people are watching our lives. We cannot speak of God’s Word and live like heathens. Our lives are our testimony before our families, friends, co-workers, strangers and enemies. We are either drawing people to the Lord or pushing them away.

Samuel lived his life before the Lord and before the people. His actions were examples to the people and a blessing to the Lord. His love for the Lord was found in the things he did and the things he said. People will see either our love for the Lord through our lives, or they will not see our love for Him. Our words and actions tell what is in our hearts.

A Christian’s life should be nothing but a visible representation of Christ.
~Thomas Brooks~

Blameless Testimony

And they said, “You have not cheated us or oppressed us, nor have you taken anything from any man’s hand.”

1 Samuel 12:4

Samuel stood before the people and allowed them to bring any charges of wrong doing against him. He was leaving his service as judge over the children of Israel, as the nation was changing from a theocracy, governed by God, to a monarchy, governed by man.

Look at what the people said, as he stood before them. There was no man who could bring a charge against Samuel. He had a good testimony before God and before man. What a great witness before the people. Think about it; what a great testimony.

When we look at our leaders, judges and pastors, we want them to have the same testimony as Samuel. It would be great if we did not see the sins of our leaders broadcasted on television, as one leader after another is exposed. People have a testimony of adultery, lying, cheating and robbing God.

More importantly, what is your testimony before people? Is it more like the sons of Eli or can you stand before the people with clean hands, just as Samuel? This is a lesson to each one of us. We cannot hide our sins. They will be found out. People are watching and they have experiences with you. They know if you have cheated them or treated them fairly.

Our witness before man is so important, because God is in control and He sees everything. We need to have a blameless testimony, just like Samuel.

The real mark of a saint is that he makes it easier for others to believe in God.
~Author Unknown~

Give Account to God

“Here I am. Witness against me before the Lord and before His anointed: Whose ox have I taken, or whose donkey have I taken, or whom have I cheated? Whom have I oppressed, or from whose hand have I received any bribe with which to blind my eyes?I will restore it to you.”

1 Samuel 12:3

Samuel stood before the children of Israel with clean hands. He knew he was innocent of any wrong doing, so he said. “Okay, if you have anything against me or you can blame me for a wrongdoing, tell me now.” Samuel had walked right before the Lord for so many years; he knew he had clean hands before the people and before God.

Samuel was making himself available to God and the people. He was requesting the people to testify about God’s covenant, which had been violated.

Notice, if he had done wrong to anyone, he would restore it to them. He would pay back any debt he owed. He was coming to the end of his service to the children of Israel, and he was making sure there was no wrong doing in his life, which he had not made right. Imagine everything he said, he had been blameless before God, but if anyone had a complaint, he wanted to take care of things before he stepped down.

Do you know where you stand before the Lord? If people come to you, what can they say about you? Do you have clean hands before the Lord? All of us one day are going to have to give an account to God when we die. Make things right before men, before you stand before God.

Time shall be no more when judgment comes, and when time is no more, change is impossible.
~C. H. Spurgeon~

Power of Prayer

“And now here is the king, walking before you; and I am old and grayheaded, and look, my sons are with you. I have walked before you from my childhood to this day.”

1 Samuel 12:2

Remember when Samuel was elected. He was around 12 years old. Then, he had two sons who he was going to appoint to take over the leadership, but God said,” No.” His sons were just like the sons of Eli. They were partying; they were drinking; they were doing everything evil before the Lord and in His house.

God saw what was happening and He said, “I cannot trust them, Samuel. Do not choose for me. I will choose whom I want; I will choose who will represent me before the people.” The leader of Israel was anointed by the Lord, not men.

You have to realize, you are not in control of your kids. I am not in control of my kids. I am not in control of my grandkids. I can only pray for them; you can only pray for them. Then God will do what He wants to do when we are gone. We may see God’s plan for them before we are taken home, but we might not ever see it.

I really believe my son Ryan, and many others, are walking with the Lord because of prayer. It was the prayers of their great-grandparents, their grandparents and then parents. My kids are where they are today not because of Sharon and me; but because of the power of prayer. Ryan would have been lost forever in hell, but God gave him a second chance. Think of the power of God within our lives and what He does.

The prayers of the Christian are secret,
but their effect cannot be hidden.
~Howard Chandler Robbins~

Samuel’s Farewell

Now Samuel said to all Israel: “Indeed I have heeded your voice in all that you said to me,and have made a king over you.”

1 Samuel 12:1

In Chapter 12, we have Samuel’s farewell speech. He was giving his farewell speech to the children of Israel. It reminds me of the Book of Deuteronomy, where Moses took the children of Israel back through their history. He reminded them of all the things they did to bring the wrath of God upon them.
In this chapter, Samuel reminded Israel of their error with the Lord. They were the ones who asked for a king. He did not tell them He was leaving them. They came to Him. When they went to Samuel, they did not reject him, they rejected God.
Why? They had their eyes on all the nations of the world. They wanted to be like the world. They wanted a king; they wanted a queen; they wanted men to rule over them.
Listen, God was already speaking to them and giving wisdom. He was with them through the wilderness and gave them victory over all their enemies. He provided for all their needs. He gave them prophets, like Samuel to lead them, but they were not happy. They wanted a man. It does not make sense.
There are so many people today, who choose to be in bondage to sin. They choose the flesh, the world and Satan over God, who loves them. It is the same as the children of Israel. It does not make sense.
To forsake Christ for the world is to leave a treasure for a trifle … eternity for a moment, reality for a shadow.
~William Jenkyn~

Success in God’s Will

Then Samuel said to the people, “Come, let us go to Gilgal and renew the kingdom there.” So all the people went to Gilgal, and there they made Saul king before the Lord in Gilgal. There they made sacrifices of peace offerings before the Lord, and there Saul and all the men of Israel rejoiced greatly.

1 Samuel 11:14-15

Saul was leading the army and they had a great victory. The people now accepted and recognized Saul as their king, but there was a great temptation in the victory. It would tempt the Israelites to put their faith in the new king, not in God; really heavy.

Samuel wanted them to know their future success rested in trusting Jehovah God; it was never in man. A man could never do all the things God could do. God allowed men to be instruments to accomplish His purposes, but the glory and honor always belongs to the Lord.

That is always the case; we have to trust God to open the door and shut the door. You do not want to go through a shut door; it will be the most frustrating thing you could ever do in your life. Remember, we have free will, so God will allow you to go through the closed door, but He will not go with you. Instead, He will teach you so many lessons in obedience. You will come back crawling, totally humbled before God.

This is so important for us today, to trust in the Lord, only then will everything align. You can always have your own way, your own will, but you will miss the blessings of God if you choose your way instead of His will.

Inside the will of God there is no failure. Outside the will of God there is no success.
~Bernard Edinger~

Humble Servants of the Lord

Then Samuel said to the people, “Come, let us go to Gilgal and renew the kingdom there.” So all the people went to Gilgal, and there they made Saul king before the Lord in Gilgal. There they made sacrifices of peace offerings before the Lord, and there Saul and all the men of Israel rejoiced greatly.

1 Samuel 11:14-15

They were not crowning Saul king again; they were finally recognizing him as king. Remember, when the threat first came, they did not run right to Saul, the king. They sent messengers to all the tribes of Israel. Now, with the great victory, they were excited to have Saul as king and they made sacrifices of worship to the Lord. Everything was right between God and man.

At the beginning of Saul’s reign, we saw a very humble man, who loved the Lord. He was governed by the Lord, as His Spirit came upon him. This was the heart of the man God anointed king of Israel. Unfortunately, the character of Saul does not remain as a humble man of God.

This is such an important lesson to all of us, both as leaders and as individuals who vote for leaders. We have to look at the heart and character of a person. God is looking for humble servants, who are fully dependent upon Him. He does not need people who are full of themselves.

We should look at the men and women who stand before us as leaders and see humble servants of the Lord. If they are self-governed, we are in trouble. We have to pray for leaders who are governed by God.

Those whom God will employ are first struck with a sense of their unworthiness to be employed.
~Matthew Henry~

Bondservants

Then the people said to Samuel, “Who is he who said, ‘Shall Saul reign over us?’ Bring the men, that we may put them to death.”

1 Samuel 11:12

Remember, back in 1 Samuel 10:27, the chapter ended with the children of Belial saying: ‘Shall Saul reign over us?’. At the time, Saul held his peace, He did not confront the men, and neither did the children of Israel.

Now, with Saul leading them to victory against their enemy, the people were ready to fight for Saul; they wanted to kill these people, but Saul still did not want to have division. In Verse 13, it says: But Saul said, “Not a man shall be put to death this day, for today the Lord has accomplished salvation in Israel.”

Not only was Saul unwilling to punish the children of Belial, he wanted to celebrate the victory. He wanted to give the glory to the Lord, because he knew it was the Lord who gave Israel the victory. He had a rocky beginning as king, but he was beginning to act like a king, a godly king.

It is amazing when a leader loves the Lord. He recognizes the anointing comes from the Lord. He knows the Lord does the work and he is just a vessel, a servant of the Lord.

As children of the Lord, we have to remember the Lord gets the glory. It is never for you or me to get the glory. We have to stay humble and know God is the Provider, the Defender, the King of kings and Lord of lords. Everything is done according to His will, not our will. We are all bondservants, willing vessels of the Lord.

There is no limit to the good a man can do
if he doesn’t care who gets the credit.
~Author Unknown~

The Victory is God’s

So it was, on the next day, that Saul put the people in three companies; and they came into the midst of the camp in the morning watch, and killed Ammonites until the heat of the day. And it happened that those who survived were scattered, so that no two of themwere left together.

1 Samuel 11:11

In Verse 10, the men of Jabesh Gilead told Nahash the Ammonite they needed another day, and then they would come out and submit to them. They were buying time, waiting for the help to come.

Notice, God gave them the victory. When Saul came with the three companies of men, they defeated the Ammonites, killing so many, the few left ran away. The men were fighting, but it was God who gave them the victory.

Why does God give us the victory? He has promised us, “As long as you are with Me, I will be with you.” That is what the Bible teaches. When God makes a promise He keeps it.

It is important to remember, the victories are not ours; the victories are the Lord’s. Sometimes, if we are defeated, it is because God wants to speak to us. When we do not win the battles, we have to examine our lives. Do I have sin in my life?

When you take care of sin, God will defeat your enemy. He will continue to be your defense. But when there is sin in the camp, He will allow your enemy to defeat you. God chastens you because He loves you. You cannot get away with anything.

Sin is God’s one intolerance.
~W. E. Sangster~

Grace & Mercy

And they said to the messengers who came, “Thus you shall say to the men of Jabesh Gilead: ‘Tomorrow, by the time the sun is hot, you shall have help.’” Then the messengers came and reported it to the men of Jabesh, and they were glad.

1 Samuel 11:9

The messengers had the message to deliver to the men of Jabesh Gilead. God was going to send help to them. The Spirit of God had come upon Saul and He was going to deliver the city, using Saul. Even though the children of Israel had rejected God, they were still His chosen people. He was going to use the king, empower him, to save His people.

It is the grace and mercy of God. His great love for us has no limits. Even when we walk away from Him, He still loves us and pursues us. He wants the best for us, even when we are running from Him. That is His grace and mercy.

To fully understand the love God has for His people, we have to understand His grace and mercy. The word grace means “unmerited favor.” We have favor in God’s eyes and it is not earned.

The word mercy means “not getting the punishment we deserve.” While we deserve hell, God sent His Son to die for our sin and take our place. God displayed His mercy.

Just as the city of Jabesh Gilead was rescued by God, even though they rejected Him, we are rescued from eternal hell by the grace and mercy of God. Think about it. Is there anything greater than the love of God?

Christ is the mine of mercy and the gold-ore
of grace and salvation.
~Thomas Hooker~

Loving Chastening

So he took a yoke of oxen and cut them in pieces, and sent them throughout all the territory of Israel by the hands of messengers, saying, “Whoever does not go out with Saul and Samuel to battle, so it shall be done to his oxen.” And the fear of the Lord fell on the people, and they came out with one consent.

1 Samuel 11:7

This was the first act of Saul as king of Israel. Remember, he did not start out well. He looked weak in front of the people, when he was found hiding during the ceremony to make him king. The people wanted a king, but Saul did not seem to be the strong man they were looking for.

Saul knew he had to do something to get the attention of the people. He did not know if the people were going to come out and stand with him against the enemy, so he sent out a message to put fear in the people.

It is important to notice, the fear of the Lord came upon the people. It was not the fear of Saul. It was the fear of the Lord. The fear brought all the people out in one accord, to fight for the people of Jabesh Gilead.

I have known many people who do things because they fear the Lord. They think He is an angry God, who will punish them. That is not my God. My God is not angry. He loves me and wants only good for me. When He chastises me, it is done in love, not anger.

We have to remember, having fear, or reverence, for the Lord is a good thing, but we should not fear Him. His only desire is for us to walk in fellowship with Him. He is motivated by love, not anger.

God’s chastening originates in His love.
~Vance Havner~

Strong in the Lord

Now there was Saul, coming behind the herd from the field; and Saul said, “What troubles the people, that they weep?” And they told him the words of the men of Jabesh. Then the Spirit of God came upon Saul when he heard this news, and his anger was greatly aroused.

1 Samuel 11:5-6

Now, we see where the victory comes from. The Spirit of God came upon Saul, giving him great courage. God was going to lead him. God was going to guide him. God was going to give him the victory.

If we do not wait upon God’s Spirit to lead us and guide us, we are in deep trouble; because we are going to try and do it in our own strength. We will try to use our own wisdom and knowledge.

It is of real importance; if we are going to win the battles, then we need to learn how to fight the battles God’s way. That is with the Lord, by putting on the armor of God, praying and waiting upon Him—His timing. God gives us the way to defeat the enemy. He tells us how to strategize spiritually, so we are not defeated. I know when I am defeated, it is because I am in the flesh. Then, I embarrass God, because people think God is weak, when it is my weakness.

Remember, in the Book of Isaiah, when the Assyrians surrounded the city and threw the letter over the wall for Hezekiah to submit and surrender. They said God could not defeat them. Hezekiah spread it before the Lord in prayer and went to sleep; do not worry about it. In the morning, he looked over the wall and God had sent an angel to wipe out 185,000 Assyrians. Is there anything impossible with God?

God is not waiting to show us strong in His behalf, but Himself strong in our behalf. That makes a lot of difference.
~Vance Havner~

Faith in Trials

So the messengers came to Gibeah of Saul and told the news in the hearing of the people. And all the people lifted up their voices and wept.

1 Samuel 11:4

Notice, they came to Gibeah of Saul, not because he was king, but because they sent messengers to all the territory of Israel. Even though Saul was king, the people did not turn to him first. They were still acting like sheep without a leader. They had rejected God, and they did not know where to turn.

The people heard the news and they wept. They thought they were doomed. Who would save them from the enemy? They had their trust in nothing and no one. Again, they had rejected God, and they did not know what to do with their new king. They just accepted defeat. How sad.

They were the children of God. How had they come to a place where they were so defeated? How did they lose all their faith? They no longer had their eyes on the Lord. Instead of looking to men, they should have been looking up. Instead of weeping, they should have cried out to the Lord.

When we are facing great trials and tribulations, we do not have to weep. We are not defeated. We serve a great and mighty God. He is bigger than anything the world or Satan can ever throw at us.

When we come to Christ, we are not promised a life without trials. We are promised a Savior, who will walk with us through the trials. It is only through faith in Christ, we can face the trials of this world, or we will be defeated.

Faith is demonstrated by Christians who refuse
to accept failure as final.
~Author Unknown~

Seek God First

Then the elders of Jabesh said to him, “Hold off for seven days, that we may send messengers to all the territory of Israel. And then, if there is no one to save us,we will come out to you.”

1 Samuel 11:3

The men of Jabesh were not happy with the condition set for their covenant with Nahash. They did not want to pluck out their right eyes, so they decided to send for help. They were going to send messengers out to the other cities of Israel and ask for help.

I find it interesting, they went to the people of Israel to help them, but they did not send for Saul, the king, the one they asked for. Even more interesting, they did not cry out to the Lord. This really tells us their spiritual condition. They were seeking men for help, not the Lord.

In seeking help from the other tribes of Israel, they were also buying time, trying to come up with a plan to save themselves. They were looking to other men and their own wisdom to save them, but they were not seeking the Lord. This is very interesting.

We are just like the children of Israel. How many times do we go to other people for help or advice, instead of the Lord? How many times do we try to fix something we cannot possibly fix, instead of seeking the Lord? Then, when all else fails, we finally go to God. We say, “I guess I will pray. I cannot do anything else.” God can do and fix anything; nothing is too big for Him. He should be the first one we turn to, whether in trials or triumphs. God wants us to share our failures and our successes with Him.

We are not to think that where we see no possibility,
God sees none.
~Marcus Dods~

Satan’s Strategies

And Nahash the Ammonite answered them, “On this condition I will make a covenant with you, that I may put out all your right eyes, and bring reproach on all Israel.”

1 Samuel 11:2

Remember, the men of Jabesh Gilead asked Nahash to make a covenant with them. They feared the Ammonites, so they thought they could make a deal with them to save their lives. Look at the condition of their service. They had to allow Nahash to pluck out their right eyes. How many of you would volunteer to pluck out your eye?

Hahash thought he could convince them to do it, because they could not beat him. How many times has Satan tried to make a deal with you? Nahash wanted to blind the people of Jabesh. What does Satan want to do to you and me? He tries to blind you. He blinds you to sin, so you cannot see to make the right choices. He wants to disable you, so you cannot do whatever God intended for your life.

Look at his motive. He wanted to bring reproach to all of Israel. He wanted to humiliate them; reduce Israel to nothing, so the people would believe God was not with them. If He was with them, surely He would have saved them from Nahash. He wanted to bring doubt.

That is what the enemy does to all of us. He brings trials and tribulations into our lives, and then he whispers in our ears, “God does not love you. He will not save you.” Think about how many believers have walked away from God, because of a great trial. Instead of holding tight to the Lord, they believe the lies of Satan and fall back into the world, with no comfort. They are casualties of spiritual warfare.

Satan does not work haphazardly but attacks systematically.
~Thomas Cosmades~

Unequally Yoked

Then Nahash the Ammonite came up and encamped against Jabesh Gilead; and all the men of Jabeshsaid to Nahash, “Make a covenant with us,and we will serve you.”

1 Samuel 11:1

The name Nahash means “serpent” in the Hebrew and he was an Ammonite, who were enemies of Israel. Do you remember who the Ammonites were? Genesis 19 tells us they were born of sin, when Lot’s daughters sinned against God and lay with him. They became pregnant; and through them were born Ben-Ammi, the Ammonites and Moab, the Moabites.

The tribe of Ammon represents the world. They were not children of God. They encamped against Jabesh Gilead, which was Saul’s home town. Since Israel feared them, they tried to make a covenant with them. Think about what he was saying. Should God’s people make a covenant with the world? No possible way. Light and darkness do not go together.

In 2 Corinthians 6:14, Paul said: Do not be unequally yoked together with unbelievers. For what fellowship has righteousness with lawlessness? And what communion has light with darkness?

Many times, people go into business with a non-believer and get burned. It does not work; sooner or later the non-Christian will get greedy. They start cheating and stealing from the company. I have had so many people come to me with this story; it happens all the time. When God talks about being unequally yoked, it does not just mean in marriage, it is in any committed relationship, personal or professional.

It is madness for sheep to talk peace with a wolf.
~Thomas Fuller~

Consistent Walk with God

But some rebels said, “How can this man save us?” So they despised him, and brought him no presents.But he held his peace.

1 Samuel 10:27

Before we begin Chapter 11 of 1 Samuel, I want to look at the question the men asked in the last verse of Chapter 10. The men asked, “How can this man save us?” They were questioning Saul’s ability to serve the nation of Israel and keep them safe from their enemies.

Remember, the people chose him as king and he was hiding. He began his reign showing weakness not strength. It was not only weakness in his character but weak in his trust in the Lord.

The people were questioning his leadership as soon as they anointed him king. Then, instead of acting like a king, he went back to plowing. He has shown us no strength, only weakness, and he is the king of Israel.

As we come to Chapter 11, Israel’s neighbors came asking for help. Saul, as the king, did the right thing. He was on fire and went after the people to destroy them. We are going to see how Saul started out good, but as he went on, he did not finish well.

There are many people like that. They are running a race and as the gun goes off, they take off fast, but they burn out and never finish. That is what happens when you are not really listening to the Lord—when you are trusting in your own strength and not the Lord. If you serve the Lord and follow His plan for your life, you will run the race well, consistently, and finish well.

Religion is not a matter of fits, starts and stops,
but an everyday affair.
~David Livingston~

Secular or Godly

You shall walk after the Lord your God and fear Him, and keep His commandments and obey His voice; you shall serve Him and hold fast to Him.

Deuteronomy 13:4

As we have been studying 1 Samuel, it is clear, God had a plan and the plan was for Samuel to be the prophet to the people of God, as God led the people. If we go back to the Book of Deuteronomy, God told the people His plan. They were to hold fast to God.

It was never God’s plan for a man to lead God’s people, but the people were not happy with Eli and his children, so they began to murmur and complain. They did not realize they were complaining about God, and they were rejecting God when they asked for a king like the rest of the nations. They wanted to be like the world.

Think of how many churches want to be like the world. They do not teach the Bible. Instead, they have programs and want to be secular to reach the secular people.

You have to follow the Bible. God made the church to teach and to preach the Gospel, not to have programs. When people get saved they come into the church to mature, to receive the call of God, and then they are able to go out and do what God has called them to do.

Remember, the talents and gifts God gives to you, God can take away from you. If He does not get the glory; if you are abusing the gifts God gives to you, believe me, He will take them away from you, He will chasten you. His gifts are to glorify Him, not the world!

You might as well talk about a heavenly devil
as talk about a worldly Christian.
~Billy Sunday~

Faith & Power

And Stephen, full of faith and power, did great wonders and signs among the people.

Acts 6:8

Stephen was a man of great faith and power. When you read the story of his life, you know he had to have great faith. He stood accused before the religious leaders, and he was not afraid to speak the truth. He was stoned for speaking truth. That is a man of great faith.

I have been driving in my car, worshipping the Lord, and I just cry out to God. Many times, I have to pull over, because I cannot see. The tears are rolling down my face, straight out of my heart. Ever since I had my infirmity, I cry. I do not know why. Pastor Chuck told me it is because I have a passion for souls. He said, “You care for people,” and I wish everyone would feel like that. It is for everybody, not just for me.

What do you think of people who stand on the corners begging for bread? When you go to the grocery store, are you open for anyone to come up and speak to you. If you have tunnel vision, you are never going to be able to see the whole picture. You will not see the lost souls.

Every day I get up in the morning I say, “Lord give me opportunities today.” If you do not start the morning with prayer and the Word of God, you cannot expect God to give you wisdom, so He cannot use you. He cannot open those doors to share with others, because He has not spoken to you. You have not spent time with Him in fellowship, a time of really praying and asking God to go before you.

We have been called to a walk of faith, not a walk of feelings.

Faith is the daring of the soul to go farther than it can see.
~William N. Clarke~

God: Final Judge

But some rebels said, “How can this man save us?” So they despised him, and brought him no presents.But he held his peace.

1 Samuel 10:27

The children of Israel asked for a king, but not everyone was happy with the choice. There were men, children of Belial, who hated him. In the Hebrew, their name means, “worthless, good for nothing, unprofitable, base fellow,” so these worthless men were not happy to have Saul as their king.

Remember, Saul was the first king of Israel. I do not think it was possible to elect a king who everyone loved. We cannot do it today. Every president we elect is hated by some of the people. You cannot make everyone happy.

It is not only for elected leaders; we are not going to be loved by everybody. If you are doing God’s will, if you are really disciplined and obedient to God, people will get jealous, others will get offended. That is what happens. Not everyone will be in agreement with you.

I think it is important to remember who we serve. We cannot make all the people happy, but we can be pleasing to the Lord. That is what counts—pleasing the Lord.

When we are faithful in the call God has put in our lives, we please God. I may not please everyone, but the only one I am trying to please is God. I do not worry about the people, because I will stand before the Lord one day, and only He holds eternity in His hands, not man. Remember that!

The power of man can never reverse the sentence of God.
~Thomas V. Moore~

Hearts Transformed

Then Samuel explained to the people the behavior of royalty, and wrote it in a book and laid it up beforethe Lord. And Samuel sent all the people away,every man to his house. And Saul also went hometo Gibeah; and valiant men went with him,whose hearts God had touched.

1 Samuel 10:25-26

Once Saul was set before the people as king, the people were all sent home. God had given the people what they asked for and now they had to live with their decision. Notice, God had Samuel tell the people how the king would treat them and even had him write it in a book, as a reminder.

Never could the people complain against God, because of their king. First God warned them what would happen, and when they insisted, He gave them what they wanted. After giving them their king, God left them with a reminder. This was their choice, but it was never God’s plan—never.

God did not only leave a reminder of what was to come, He touched the heart of brave men to go with Saul. They would be men who would stand by Saul’s side in the battle, and give him godly guidance, because their hearts were touched by the Lord.

I want to fight with people whose hearts God has touched; those are the people you want by your side. They will really fight for the Lord, and not run. They are not going to be behind you; they will be by your side or in front of you.

On our own, our hearts are wicked, but God can transform our hearts, as we seek to know and serve Him.

No man is conquered until his heart is conquered.
~George Barlow~

Heart Revealed

Therefore they inquired of the Lord further, “Has the man come here yet?” And the Lord answered, “There he is, hidden among the equipment.” So they ran and brought him from there; and when he stood among the people,he was taller than any of the peoplefrom his shoulders upward.

1 Samuel 10:22-23

When the people could not find Saul, they inquired of the Lord. He knew where their new king was hiding. This was the man they asked to lead them, instead of the Lord. He was a fearful man. He would lead the children of God in place of an omnipotent God. Imagine that.

When the people brought Saul out of hiding, they were impressed by his appearance. He stood head and shoulders above all the other people. They thought, Look at our strong leader. He is greater than any other man in appearance.

How does God see man? He looks at the inner man, the heart, not the outward man. We will see this in 1 Samuel 16:7, when the Lord anointed David as king. He told Samuel not to look at his appearance, because God was choosing David because of his heart. David had a heart for God. He was a courageous man.

This is such an important lesson for us today. We have elections and we vote for leaders. Do we vote based upon their heart and where they stand morally or do we vote for a handsome face or a popular person? We need to look at our leaders as God sees them and then cast our votes.

If your heart does not want a world of moral reality, your head will assuredly never make you believe in one.
~William James~

Strength in the Lord

When he had caused the tribe of Benjamin to come near by their families, the family of Matri was chosen. And Saul the son of Kish was chosen. But when they sought him, he could not be found.

1 Samuel 10:21

When I look at this verse, I ask the questions, “Was Saul going to be a strong king? Would Saul have the boldness to stand before God and man?” This verse shows Saul was in hiding; right away we see his weakness.

God had anointed Saul as king of the children of Israel, but instead of stepping up to the honor and responsibility of leading them, Saul was hiding. It is a very important look into the character of Saul. Would he be a man faithful to the Lord and faithful in leading God’s people?

I was in the Vietnam War, and I can tell you, this is not the kind of person you want to go into battle with. When you are in a fight, you want someone you can trust to fight side by side with, not someone who would run and hide.

It is the same thing in the battle for people’s souls. We are in a spiritual battle. We fight against powers, might and principalities for the souls of our families, friends and strangers. In this battle, I want people who are bold in the Lord. Their faith and trust is in Jesus Christ.

When you go to war, you do not want cowards with you, and when you battle for the souls of people, you cannot do it with cowards. If you truly trust in the Lord, you will have the boldness, because you know where your strength comes from—the Lord!

It is impossible to be a true soldier of
Jesus Christ and not fight.
~J. Gresham Machen~

Free to Choose

Then Samuel…said to the children of Israel, “Thus says the Lord God of Israel: ‘I brought up Israel out of Egypt, and delivered you from the hand of the Egyptians and from the hand of all kingdoms and from those who oppressed you.’ But you have today rejected your God, who Himself saved you from all your adversities and your tribulations; and you have said to Him, ‘No, set a king over us!’ Now therefore, present yourselves before the Lord by your tribes and by your clans.”

1 Samuel 10:17-19

God had delivered the children of Israel from all their enemies and now they were rejecting Him. God was reminding them; He was in control. Remember all the victories I gave to you? Because God can see into the future, He knew they were going to reject Him, but still He delivered them from their enemies.

It is the same for you and me. God can see you; God can see me; and He knows where we are going to be 10 years or 20 years from now. He knows the choices and the decisions we are going to make, but He gives us free will; a free will to do what is right, according to His Word.

It is so important to remember; God gives warnings. He has given us His Word, with the lessons of those who have gone before us. Just like the children of Israel, we cannot say, “I did not know.” We know what is right. We have God’s Word. We know better.

If we choose to ignore God and His Word, we cannot plead ignorance. We make the choice. We have the freedom to choose God or reject Him.

God excludes none if they do not exclude themselves.
~William Guthrie~

God Speaks

Then Samuel called the people together to the Lord at Mizpah, and said to the children of Israel, “Thus says the Lord God of Israel: ‘I brought up Israel out of Egypt, and delivered you from the hand of the Egyptians and from the hand of all kingdoms and from those whooppressed you.’ “

1 Samuel 10:17-18

Samuel gathered the people of Israel together to declare Saul as king. They were getting what they asked for, but before God gave them their earthly king, He would speak to them, and remind them of all He did.

When the Word of God says “Thus says the Lord”, you know it is God speaking, and you better take heed to it. It would be a great sin for a prophet to say this and not actually be speaking words from the Lord.

As the people gathered and Samuel said, “Thus says the Lord,” they knew Samuel and his faithfulness in serving the Lord, so they knew they were hearing from the Lord. God spoke to them of His deliverance. If they had forgotten all God had done for them, He was going to remind them.

Think about what they must have been thinking. They had asked for a king instead of the Lord and now God started out reminding them of all His blessings and provisions for them. Do you think they were beginning to understand they had rejected the Lord?

Sometimes, we do not trust the Lord and we go to everyone for help or counsel instead of going to the Lord. We are choosing the counsel of men over the wisdom of God. Think about it. It is the same as Saul’s unbelief!

Unbelief is at the bottom of what sinners do ignorantly.
~Matthew Henry~

Sin of Unbelief

And Saul’s uncle said, “Tell me, please, what Samuel said to you.” So Saul said to his uncle, “He told us plainly that the donkeys had been found.” But about the matter of the kingdom, he did not tell him what Samuel had said.

1 Samuel 10:15-16

Saul had returned home after speaking with Samuel, and he was met by his uncle, who asked him what happened. Saul had been gone for some time and they were worried about Saul.

Notice, Saul told his uncle about meeting with Samuel, but he did not tell him everything. He did not tell him about being named king of Israel. Can you imagine? Samuel had anointed Saul with oil, making him the commander of God’s people, but Saul did not tell his family.

Maybe Saul thought it was a joke. Maybe he thought Samuel was kidding him at first, but then Samuel told him the people he would meet on the way and how he would prophesy with the prophets. All Samuel told Saul had come to pass, so he must have been telling Saul the truth, but Saul was not trusting in the Lord.

I think we often hear from the Lord through His Word, but we do not always believe what the Lord is telling us, or we do not trust the Lord is going to really do what He says. This is a sin. When we do not trust in God’s Word and His promises, we are sinning against Him.

Saul needed to realize God was anointing Him and trust God to do all He proclaimed. He had to receive the blessing of the Lord. Many times, we miss out on God’s blessings because of unbelief.

Unbelief, or distrust of God, is a sin that is
its own punishment.
~Matthew Henry~

Called by God

And it happened, when all who knew him formerly saw that he indeed prophesied among the prophets, that the people said to one another, “What is this that has come upon the son of Kish? Is Saul also among the prophets?”

1 Samuel 10:11

When people look at you, they are going to have questions in their mind. Did God really call him to the ministry? Did God really anoint him to the ministry? All these questions will go through their minds, as they look at your life. Even your own children may question your call.

Are you really in the place and position God has called you to be in His perfect will? Either you turn people to Christ or you turn people away from Christ. They want to see the fruit of your life.

Many times, your family does not understand why you spend so much time at church. If you go into the ministry full-time, they do not understand why you would leave your job, making so much money, to serve the Lord. Why would you want to serve in a church? They do not understand the heart and mind of God; they do not understand the passion God puts in people He has called.

Without the passion God gives you, you cannot serve Him. What happened to the Church of Ephesus? They did not lose their first love; they left it. They left God; God did not leave them.

They left their first love and that happens when Christ is no longer number one in your life, and then you will be out of God’s will. Your passion now is something else, and it will disqualify you.

The Christian worker must be sent; he must not elect to go.
~Oswald Chambers~

Empowered by God

When they came there to the hill, there was a group of prophets to meet him; then the Spirit of God came upon him, and he prophesied among them.

1 Samuel 10:10

We have the fulfillment of God’s Word from 1 Samuel 10:6. God sent the prophets to the hill of God, to meet Saul. There, God sent His Spirit to come upon Saul, so he would prophesy. God said He would do it, and here He fulfilled His Word.

Remember, Saul was not a prophet. It was only through God’s Spirit he was able to prophesy among the prophets. God allowed it, in order to fulfill His Word—to show His power.

It is the same for you and I. In Zechariah 4:6, God said: …‘Not by might nor by power, but by My Spirit,’… Paul the Apostle told the church in Philippi: I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me (Philippians 4:13).

All throughout the Bible, we see the writers tell us it is God who empowers us. We are able to do the impossible, through the power of the Lord. In our own strength, we are as weak as babies. We cannot accomplish the things of the Lord in our strength. We will fail, if we trust in our own strength.

Just as God was showing Saul where his strength and power would come from, He is showing each one of us, individually. We must put our hope and trust in the Lord, who will enable us to accomplish the things He has called us to do. Without Him, we cannot rightly serve Him.

There is an Arm that never tires,
when human strength gives way.
~George Matheson~

Hear from God

So it was, when he had turned his back to go from Samuel, that God gave him another heart; and all those signs came to pass that day.

1 Samuel 10:9

God did not hesitate to do all He told Saul through Samuel. He changed Saul’s heart and brought about all the signs that day. What God said came to pass, because God is a God of His Word. Whatever He says, He is going to do.

Sometimes, when people come to the Lord they are so zealous, so excited, but, after a period of time, they become so cold and uncaring. They lose their vision and passion.

Think about it. You see people running the race well, but then you see them get comfortable in their ministries. Eventually, they do not have the fire, and when they do not have fire, they are going to be put on a shelf. God is not going to use them. Whose fault is it? Their fault, because they were not in the Word, not really praying and seeking God to see what He wanted to do.

You want to be in the forefront, as God is speaking through His Word. Make sure He is leading, He is providing and He is in control of your life, not you. He has to be in control.

I really need God’s voice in my life. I do not want to run around by myself. I want God to be with me. I want God to speak to me. Do you know God’s voice? Do you really know God’s voice, when He is speaking to you? If you do not, you are going to have troubles, big troubles.

The Christian is strong or weak depending upon how closely he has cultivated the knowledge of God.
~A. W. Tozer~

God Honors Faithfulness

“You shall go down before me to Gilgal; and surely I will come down to you to offer burnt offerings and make sacrifices of peace offerings. Seven days you shall wait, till I come to you and show you what you should do.”

1 Samuel 10:8

Notice, Samuel was declaring to Saul to wait for his commissioning from the Lord. Saul was to wait for Samuel and God to send him. He had to wait only seven days. He had a time limit.

Many times, people do not wait on the Lord. They have their own commission and their own mission, but they have not heard the Word of God—the voice of God. It has to be confirmed in the Word.

When I got saved, God called me but I waited on Him, because I did not know His Word. The first thing I did, in obedience to God, was go to church; I went to Calvary Chapel Costa Mesa, to learn God’s Word.

When God called me to go back to Baldwin Park High School, I had a vision. I was awake, and I could see the school and the kids. The Lord spoke to my heart, “I want you to go there”. Not in an audible voice, in my heart. I went and God honored it. I waited on the Lord; I did not just go.

When I went, they rejected me. They said I could not come and preach. I left very disappointed, but I prayed for two weeks. The Lord told me to go again, and they let me into the school, not only Baldwin Park High School, I went to ten high schools. I wanted to reach people, it was in my heart. When you wait on the Lord and are faithful to the call He has for you, He will honor what you do to serve Him.

Faithfulness to God is our first obligation in all that we are called to do in the service of the Gospel.
~Iain H. Murray~

Independence Day

Stand fast therefore in the liberty by which Christ has made us free, and do not be entangled againwith a yoke of bondage.

Galatians 5:1

On July 4, 1776, the United States of America officially declared our independence from the tyranny of England. In the Declaration of Independence, the founders said: “… they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”

Francis Bellamy wrote the original words of the Pledge of Allegiance, in 1892: “I pledge allegiance to my Flag and the Republic for which it stands, one nation indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.”

I really believe these men were influenced by Paul the Apostle’s message to the church in Galatia. They had a desire to be a nation built upon liberty and justice for all people. It is important to understand what Paul was saying. The word liberty in the Greek is eleutheria and it means, “true liberty is living as we should, not as we please.” Interesting.

Today, people think liberty is the right to do whatever they want to do, but that is not what Paul was teaching, and it is not what our country was founded on. In order for us to be a nation undivided, we must all come together and do what is right, not what we feel like. If we live according to our feelings and emotions, we will be bondage to sin.

On this day, we all need to truly seek the Lord’s will for our lives, individually, so we can come together as one nation under God, not divided, seeking true liberty and justice for all.

This is liberty: to know that God alone matters.
~Donald Haukey~

Victorious in Christ

“And let it be, when these signs come to you, that you do as the occasion demands; for God is with you.”

1 Samuel 10:7

Again, it all comes down to obedience! Samuel was guiding and directing Saul according to the Lord. These were not Samuel’s directions. They came from the Lord. Samuel told Saul, “Be obedient to what God says, for He is with you.”

God was giving Saul an opportunity to serve Him, just like He gives everybody opportunities. He was anointing Saul, even though the people had chosen him, not God. He was going to give Saul the opportunity to see if his heart was with God, to see if he would be obedient to the Lord, not the people.

How many times does God give us opportunities to serve Him, but we listen to people instead of listening to the Lord? How many times do we seek wisdom from man instead of the Lord? If we seek the will of man, instead of the will of God, we will fail or worse, be disqualified.

It is so important to remember the last part of this verse: for God is with you. If God is with us, why would we seek the counsel of man? If God is with us, we can do anything and everything God calls us to do.

What did Paul the Apostle tell the Philippians? I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me (Philippians 4:13). These words are for you and I. We can do anything with Christ. Without Him, we are hopeless, but with Him we are victorious!

Jesus Christ is God’s everything for man’s total need.
~Richard Halverson~

Love & Obedience

“Then the Spirit of the Lord will come upon you, and you will prophesy with them and be turned into another man.”

1 Samuel 10:6

Saul was not a prophet, but he was going to be empowered by the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit would enable Saul to declare the Word of the Lord as a prophet, but it would not last.

We will soon see, even though Saul prophesied, with the anointing of God over his life, the anointing of God will depart and an evil spirit will come upon him, to rule his life. Because of disobedience and operating in the ways of the flesh, Saul would not allow God to rule his life. He lost the guiding of the Holy Spirit in order to seek the flesh. Amazing!

Saul is the not only man to turn from his anointing. There was a man who was starting a church, so the elders of Calvary Chapel anointed him with oil. They prayed over him and there was a prophecy given. He left the Lord about five years later. He fell back to drugs and never came back.

As God anoints you and uses your life, it is up to you to be obedient to the Word of God. Why? We have a will. We are not puppets on a string. God wants to see if you really love Him by obeying Him. What is the first commandment? Love God with all your heart (Deuteronomy 6:5).

God has to be first in your life. If He is not first in your life, you are going to be enticed with other things and be moved from your foundation in Christ. Instead of pleasing God, you are going to please yourself. That should never happen.

Christ’s lovers prove their love by their obedience.
~John R. W. Stott~

Evidence of His Presence

“After that you shall come to the hill of God where the Philistine garrison is. And it will happen, when you have come there to the city, that you will meet a group of prophets coming down from the high place with a stringed instrument, a tambourine, a flute, and a harp before them; and they will be prophesying.”

1 Samuel 10:5

This is the third sign. As Saul came to the hill of God, near the garrison of the Philistines, he would meet a group of prophets. He was about five miles from Jerusalem, most likely in the city of Gevah.

Prophesying is declaring God’s Word. It was not something everyone could do. Only the prophets, who were chosen by God, could proclaim God’s Word. Saul was not a prophet of God.

It is important to remember, in the Old Testament, the Holy Spirit was not working in and through every person. God chose His prophets, and then His Spirit would come upon those who were chosen. The Holy Spirit was not available to all people like He is today. When a person spoke as a prophet, it was evidence of the presence of the Holy Spirit in their life. They were speaking for the Lord and it was done through the Holy Spirit.

Today, we are so blessed. Before we come to the Lord, the Holy Spirit is with us, drawing us to the Lord. When we accept Jesus as our Savior, the Holy Spirit comes in us, and when we are baptized with the Holy Spirit, He comes upon us. His presence in our lives is evidence of our walk with the Lord.

The Holy Spirit is the only authenticator of Christianity.
~Arthur P. Johnson~

Obedience is Love

“Then you shall go on forward from there and come to the terebinth tree of Tabor. There three men going up to God at Bethel will meet you, one carrying three young goats, another carrying three loaves of bread, and another carrying a skin of wine. And they will greet you and give you two loaves of bread, which you shall receive from their hands.”

1 Samuel 10:3-4

In Verses 3-4, we have the second sign from the Lord. As he continued on from the tomb of Rachel, he would come upon three men at the terebinth tree of Tabor. They were going up to meet God at Bethel. Notice, the three men had their offering for the Lord, three young goats. From their provisions, they would give Saul two of their three loaves of bread.

When I read the Old Testament, I am amazed at the people’s faithfulness in bringing their offerings before the Lord. They were disobedient in so many ways, yet they would bring their offerings whenever they went to meet with the Lord.

We will see, later in 1 Samuel 15:22, God would rather have our obedience than our sacrifices. Our obedience shows our love and respect for the Lord. If we only provide sacrifices, without obedience, we are only sinning and asking for forgiveness. We do not truly love the Lord and seek to obey Him and His Word.

Today, our lives are sacrifices unto the Lord. We are the temple of the Lord. We show our love for the Lord in our obedience and sacrificing our lives up to Him.

True faith commits us to obedience.
~A. W. Tozer~

No Worries

“When you have departed from me today, you will find two men by Rachel’s tomb in the territory of Benjamin at Zelzah; and they will say to you, ‘The donkeys which you went to look for have been found. And now your father has ceased caring about the donkeys and is worrying about you, saying, “What shall I do about my son?”’

1 Samuel 10:2

In Chapter 10, Samuel was speaking to Saul on behalf of the Lord. He gave him three signs of three things that would happen to show the Lord was with him. In Verse 2, we have the first sign. After Saul left Samuel, he would find two men at Rachel’s tomb at Zelzah, which is located between Ramah, Bethel and Bethlehem.

The men would tell Saul his father was worried about him. Notice, Saul’s father did not even know he had been anointed king of Israel. He thought Saul was still looking for the donkeys, but the lost donkeys were just an instrument of God. He used them to send Saul out to make contact with Samuel. This was all in the purpose and the will of God, but Saul’s father still did not know what was happening.

Many times, we do not understand why we do things or why things happen. We have to always remember; God is in control. He has a plan and a purpose, even when it does not make sense to us. Sometimes we get frustrated or angry about the circumstances and situations we find ourselves in, but when we look back, we see the hand of God.

That is the reason God said: Which of you by worrying can add one cubit to his stature? (Matthew 6:27). Do not worry; God has a plan!

Worry is an indication that we think God cannot look after us.
~Oswald Chambers~

Obedient to the Anointing

Then Samuel took a flask of oil and poured it on his head, and kissed him and said: “Is it not because the Lord has anointed you commander over His inheritance?”

1 Samuel 10:1

This is the anointing of God, with the oil representing the anointing of the Holy Spirit, which goes back to Leviticus 8:12 and the anointing of the priests. The anointing came from the Lord. The people chose a king, but the anointing came from God, because it was His inheritance.

We have to understand the importance of the oil and the anointing. Even though God anoints His leaders, He gives us freedom to choose: obedience or disobedience. Many times, people are anointed by the Lord and they start out well, on fire for the Lord, but they do not finish well. They had the anointing, but they chose to be disobedient to the call of God.

If God gave you the opportunity to be in ministry, He has anointed your life, it is not anointing by man; it is anointing by God. God already knows what is going to take place, because He is God. Even Samuel knew they were rejecting God and accepting a king, but it was not God’s choice.

As leaders, we have to be sensitive to the anointing of the Lord. We cannot and should not choose leaders who are not anointed by God, just because we like them or they are friends. Be careful, because it can become a snare to you and your ministry.

The anointing can only come from the Lord, but we have to be obedient to the anointing. We have to be obedient in how we live, how we lead and the people we choose to lead with us—very important!

Only he who believes is obedient; only he who is
obedient believes.
~Dietrich Bonhoeffer~

God Equips

As they were going down to the outskirts of the city, Samuel said to Saul, “Tell the servant to go on ahead of us.” And he went on. “But you stand here awhile, that I may announce to you the word of God.”

1 Samuel 9:27

Samuel took Saul aside, by himself, because he was going to reveal all the Lord had shown him concerning Saul’s life and his new position as King of Israel. He could have told Saul at any time, but he took him aside to speak to him alone.

This verse really spoke to me. It makes me think of the times the Lord has spoken to my heart. I am usually by myself, taking quiet time to be with the Lord. Other times, I am out on the water, on my surf board, all alone and the Lord will speak to me.

It is so cool. I think God wants time alone with us, without distractions, so He can really talk to us, one on one. When we have time alone with the Lord, we can really think about all He is revealing to us. We are not thinking about the next thing we have to do.

I also think about how scared Saul must have been. He was going to be the first King of Israel. The whole nation would look to him for leadership. What a huge responsibility. Saul must have been overwhelmed.

Sometimes, God calls us to do things that seem beyond our abilities, and often times, they are beyond our abilities. Without the Lord, it is all beyond what we are capable of doing. We have to trust Him. If He calls us to do something, He will equip us. He is always faithful—always!

You can never understand the faithfulness of God
by taking the short view.
~Paul S. Rees~

Blessings to the Humble

Now Samuel took Saul and his servant and brought them into the hall, and had them sit in the place of honor among those who were invited; there were about thirty persons. And Samuel said to the cook, “Bring the portion which I gave you, of which I said to you, ‘Set it apart.’”

1 Samuel 9:22-23

They were in Ramah and came into the open hall with all the people. Right away, Samuel led Saul and his servant to the place of honor, because he was going to be the next king. In front of all the people, Samuel set Saul apart, putting him at the place of honor.

With Saul in the place of preeminence, Samuel then asked the cook to bring the portion set aside for Saul. Check this out, Verse 24 says: So the cook took up the thigh with its upper part and set it before Saul.

If you go back to Exodus and Leviticus, the thigh was part of the offering and it was given to Aaron and his sons. Now, Samuel, the priest, was giving it to Saul. This was very significant to the people.

Think about this. Saul did not get to the place of honor on his own; Samuel put him in the place of honor. In Luke 14, Jesus taught this same principle. He told them to always take the lowest seat and wait to be brought up to the higher seat. Why? “For whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted” (Luke 14:11).

Again, we have another lesson in humility. God really wants us to get the point. Do not be prideful; be simple and humble. God will bless the humble.

All God’s thrones are reached by going downstairs.
~G. Campbell Morgan~

Humility or Pride

And Saul answered and said, “Am I not a Benjamite, of the smallest of the tribes of Israel, and my family the least of all the families of the tribe of Benjamin? Why then do you speak like this to me?”

1 Samuel 9:21

Saul was very humble at the beginning of his life. He was honest and sincere, but God saw his heart and He knew it would not last. As his commission was given to him, he started out humble, but later we will see him get puffed up. He will try to justify his actions.

I think people were praising him, and instead of thinking, I am from the least family in the smallest tribe, he was thinking, God picked me and the people love me, so I must be something special.

At this point, Saul was small and humble. His heart and mind would be set upon the Lord for guidance and direction. As he got prideful and puffed up, he no longer looked to the Lord. He started to think he could do it all on his own.

This is what destroys so many people; they believe the lie instead of the truth. When pride takes over, you will fall. You will take your eyes off the Lord and you will sink over your head, just like Peter did when he walked on the water to Jesus (Matthew 14).

The way people start and the way some finish. Remember, as you are faithful in the small things, God will make you greater in the bigger things, but it is always God who expands your borders, not you. He builds your business or ministry, not you.

I believe every Christian man has a choice between being humble and being humbled.
~C. H. Spurgeon~

God’s Wisdom & Knowledge

But as for your donkeys that were lost three days ago, do not be anxious about them, for they have been found. And on whom is all the desire of Israel? Is it not on you and on all your father’s house?”

1 Samuel 9:20

Samuel was a seer, so he was sensitive to the things of the spirit. He had spiritual perception. God was speaking through him. God revealed what Saul was seeking and what had happened to the donkeys. God also told Samuel Israel wanted Saul. It was Israel’s will to have him as king. Notice, it was not God’s will.

Israel was seeking a king and God was giving them what they asked for. He would raise up a man from the house of Benjamin to be king over Israel and fulfill the desire of Israel.

Can you imagine the heart of Saul when he heard these words? There had never been a king in Israel before this. He was not following a good king or a bad king. He was the first king of Israel. How would he know what to do?

Listen, just as the Lord was giving Samuel a word of knowledge to reveal His plans, God was hoping Saul would look to Him for wisdom and knowledge. He would only be a good king if he was led by the Lord. Without God, he would get into trouble real quick, and he would lead the people into trouble.

We have to remember this lesson as leaders and parents. Without the wisdom and knowledge of the Lord, we will get into trouble fast, and we may lead others into trouble. We have to seek God’s wisdom every day!

True wisdom is a divine revelation.
~George Barlow~

Of Good Character

Then Saul drew near to Samuel in the gate, and said, “Please tell me, where is the seer’s house?”

1 Samuel 9:18

When Saul walked up to Samuel, he did not know Samuel was the seer. God did not speak to Saul, but to Samuel, a man of God. God had been speaking to Samuel since he was a young child, serving in the house of God.

Samuel already knew he was going to meet and anoint Saul:

Samuel answered Saul and said, “I am the seer. Go up before me to the high place, for you shall eat with me today; and tomorrow I will let you go and will tell you all that is in your heart” (1 Samuel 9:19).

Samuel was going to share some very heavy things with Saul, but Saul thought he was going to find out where his father’s donkeys were. He was going to be very surprised when Samuel shared what the Lord told him.

Notice the respect Saul had for Samuel, because he was a seer. He respected the man of God. He trusted him. As a leader in the house of God, Samuel was a man of character. When they were looking for him, no one gave a bad report of him.

Can you say the same thing? It is so important, as men and women of God, to be of good character. As God’s representatives, we have to be trusted and well respected or we are of no use to the Lord.

The actions of men form an infallible index of their character.
~Geoffrey Wilson~

The Heart of Man

So when Samuel saw Saul, the Lord said to him, “There he is, the man of whom I spoke to you. This one shall reign over My people.”

1 Samuel 9:17

I love this verse. Look how the Lord spoke to Samuel so clearly. There was no confusion, because Samuel was so intimately involved with the Lord. He did not have to question what God wanted him to do. The Lord clearly spoke to him, guiding and directing his path.

God told Samuel, “That’s the one.” That is what God said about you and me. God chose us to do His work, not in our strength but in His power. It is all done through His power. He chose us in all our weakness and limitations, so He would get the glory.

Remember when Samuel went to the house of Jesse, to choose a new king. He went from son to son, thinking they were the one, but God had other plans. He saw with spiritual eyes. He sees the heart of man, not just the outer appearance. God chose David, even though he was the youngest, because God knew his heart. He was a servant.

Many times, God has spoken to me about people, to put them on staff without even knowing them. God shows me how they are going to grow and develop. God sees their hearts. He recognizes the true servants.

From the beginning, God knew the kind of king Saul would be. He knew he would fall short, but He gave the people what they wanted. What He wants is for us to look at the heart of people, not their outer appearances.

There is nothing in the life but what was first in the heart.
~Thomas Manton~

Choose Wisely

“Tomorrow about this time I will send you a man from the land of Benjamin, and you shall anoint him commander over My people Israel, that he may save My people from the hand of the Philistines; for I have looked upon My people, because their cry has come to Me.”

1 Samuel 9:16

This is the message God whispered in Samuel’s ear. God was preparing Samuel to receive Saul. It was all done according to the will of God, the permissive will of God. Remember, the people had rejected God and asked for a king to be like the other nations. It was never God’s perfect will for a man to be king over His people.

This reminds me of an old saying, “Be careful what you pray for, because God might just give it to you.” It says God heard the cry of the people, and He was going to give them what they asked for, an earthly king. He would be a man who took advantage of the people and used them for his own gain, but they asked for him.

This is freewill. We can choose to walk according to the will of God, or walk in our own ways. We make the choice. In Deuteronomy 30:19, God spoke through Moses:

I call heaven and earth as witnesses today against you, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing; therefore choose life, that both you and your descendants may live;

The choices we make are between life and death, blessings and cursings, so choose well—choose wisely.

Will is character in action.
~William McDougall~

Hearing From God

So they went up to the city. As they were coming into the city, there was Samuel, coming out toward them on his way up to the high place. Now the Lord had told Samuel in his ear the day before Saul came, saying,

1 Samuel 9:14-15

Samuel, whose name means “Asked of God”, met Saul and his servant as they came into the city. Saul did not know the plans of God, but Samuel did. The Lord had already prepared Samuel. Look at what it says, the Lord had told Samuel in his ear the day before.

Isn’t that amazing?! Think about it for a minute. The Lord spoke in Samuel’s ear. Have you heard the voice of the Lord? Has He spoken to you in an audible voice?

God does not only speak to us in our ears. He can speak to us through His Word and through people. Many times, after a study, people will come up to me and say, “How did you know I was doing that? Did my wife talk to you?” It was the Lord speaking to them through me. It was not me.

When was the last time you heard from the Lord? With all the distractions we have today, it can be hard to hear Him. Sometimes, you have to turn everything off: the television, computer, iPods, phones and iPads, and just spend some quiet time with God.

Once we put away all the distractions and open God’s Word, we will be open to hearing from the Lord. Imagine all the things He wants to say to you and to me.

It is not mere words that nourish the soul, but God Himself.
~A. W. Tozer~

Giving Thanks

“As soon as you come into the city, you will surely find him before he goes up to the high place to eat. For the people will not eat until he comes, because he mustbless the sacrifice; afterward those who are invitedwill eat. Now therefore, go up, for about this timeyou will find him.”

1 Samuel 9:13

Make a note of this verse; it is the first place in the Bible where they prayed for their food. It was not the same as how we pray, but it is how we should pray.

Notice, Samuel blessed the sacrifice, and then after they were invited to eat. They were to first bless the sacrifice unto the Lord. They did not sit down and start eating. They gave praise and honor to the Lord first.

When we sit down to eat, do we just say, “Lord, bless this food,” and start eating? We no longer make a sacrifice unto the Lord, but we should be praising and thanking God for His provision. We should always begin our meals thankful to God.

Think about how many people in this world go to bed hungry, and we have more than we can eat at one time. Think about the little children who are eating out of garbage cans, and we are eating home-cooked meals. We have so much, yet, we are no longer thankful to the Lord. We expect to have a plate of food every time we sit down for a meal. We really need to be thankful and teach our children and grandchildren to pray for their food all the time.

We should spend as much time in thanking God for His benefits as we do in asking Him for them.
~Vincent de Paul~

According to God’s Plan

Then Saul said to his servant, “Well said; come, let us go.” So they went to the city where the man of God was. As they went up the hill to the city, they met someyoung women going out to draw water, and saidto them, “Is the seer here?”

1 Samuel 9:10-11

Samuel took the advice of his servant and went into the city to seek the seer, Samuel. It was really God’s direction, not the servant. God was using the servant to get Saul in the right place, at the right time. It was God’s divine order. He brings all things completely together.

Look at what the young women told Saul, in Verse 12:

And they answered them and said, “Yes, there he is, just ahead of you. Hurry now; for today he came to this city, because there is a sacrifice of the people today on the high place.”

It just happened that Samuel had also come into the city to perform the sacrifice for the people. Was it a coincidence? I do not think so. It was the hand of God. He was directing everything—working everything according to His purpose. It was appointed by God for Samuel and Saul to be there at the same time.

I think it is very important for us to be open to the guiding of the Holy Spirit. We can plan our day, but we cannot be set upon the course. Pastor Chuck always said he was open to God’s interruptions. When your plans do not go the way you expect them to go, ask the Lord what He wants you to do. Seek His plan.

God is working out His eternal purpose, not only in spite of human and satanic opposition, but by means of them.
~A. W. Pink~

Finish Well

(Formerly in Israel, when a man went to inquire of God, he spoke thus: “Come, let us go to the seer”; for he who is now called a prophet was formerly called a seer.)

1 Samuel 9:9

The seer was the prophet Samuel, but the word prophet was not used at this time. They were called seers, because they could see into spiritual things. They had spiritual perception.

Later, the seers were called prophets of God. They had spiritual perception, and they were God’s spokesman. God would speak to them and speak through them. That is where we get the books of the Major Prophets and Minor Prophets. They spoke and wrote what the Lord gave to them.

I find it interesting that Saul started out by going to a seer, or prophet of God, but in the end, he went to the witch of Endor. The Lord was no longer speaking to him, so he went to a witch, and for the first and only time, God allowed someone to come back and speak. Samuel came forth to proclaim judgment on Saul.

This reminds me of our walk with the Lord. We can start out on fire, walking in righteousness, but how do we finish? That is the most important thing. It is never about how we start but about how we finish. It is not a sprint but a marathon.

If we want to finish the spiritual race well, we have to train ourselves. Read your Bible, pray, be in fellowship and stay close to God, so you can be prepared for the race and finish well.

It ought to be the business of every day
to prepare for our last day.
~Matthew Henry~

Seek Godly Wisdom

And he said to him, “Look now, there is in this city a man of God, and he is an honorable man; all that he says surely comes to pass. So let us go there; perhapshe can show us the way that we should go.”

1 Samuel 9:6

God touched Saul’s servant and used him to lead Saul. While Saul wanted to return home, God wanted him to continue on and meet Samuel. The servant gave Saul godly wisdom, and Saul had to decide whether to listen to his servant or do his own thing.

Notice, the servant did not tell Saul to do something crazy. He was leading him to seek God; the servant was being led by the Holy Spirit. Was it God’s will for them to seek the man of God? Of course it was! They were seeking for God’s wisdom. That is always the will of God.

Listen, it is always God’s will for us to seek godly counsel. That does not mean we go from one pastor to another, seeking for one of them to tell us what we want to hear. We seek godly counsel, and we wait for the Lord to confirm it through His Word.

How easy it is to ignore the wisdom of righteous people, because they do not tell us what we want to hear. I have seen it happen too often. Many times, when you give counsel, the person ignores it and does their own thing. Then, they come back and ask, “Why did this happen?” I tell them, “Because you did not seek the Lord, you did your thing but not God’s will.”

We can always do our own thing, that is freewill, but there are consequences, and we must face them.

It was by the evil use of his free will that man destroyed
both it and himself.
~Augustine~

Father’s Day

Therefore I urge you, imitate me. For this reason I have sent Timothy to you, who is my beloved and faithful son in the Lord, who will remind you of my ways in Christ,as I teach everywhere in every church.

1 Corinthians 4:16-17

I think, for some people, Father’s Day is a very hard day. Many people did not grow up in a family with a loving father, or some had no father at all. On this day, when everyone is celebrating their fathers and taking them out to lunch, many have no one to celebrate with them.

I thank God, my father and I were reconciled before he went to be with the Lord. I grew up with an angry, alcoholic father; I did not grow up in a home with a loving father. I hated him.

This is one of the reasons I really love the Apostle Paul. He was a father to many young men of the faith, but we see his relationship with Timothy very clearly in his writings. Timothy was a son to Paul, not by blood but in Christ. Timothy's real father was a Greek but not a believer.

As Timothy went out to serve the Lord, Paul was the man who taught him. When Timothy became discouraged, Paul encouraged him. When he was wrong, Paul admonished him. He was a true father to Timothy.

We need to remember, there are many young men and women who do not have fathers. We are called to encourage and chastise them in love. They are in the church, the schools and our neighborhoods. They could be Timothy’s and all they need is a Paul in their lives. God may be calling you to be a godly father to a young man or woman. Happy Father’s Day!

Every child has a right to be both well fed and well led.
~Author Unknown~

God’s Perfect Will

When they had come to the land of Zuph, Saul said tohis servant who was with him, “Come, let us return,lest my father cease caring about the donkeysand become worried about us.”

1 Samuel 9:5

There is a very important lesson in this verse. Saul and his servant had been gone for some time, and they could not find the donkeys. He knew his father loved him and would be worried, so Saul was ready to go back home.

There was a conflict between what Saul wanted and what God wanted. He could not go back home, because God’s will had to be fulfilled and God wanted him to stay right where he was. God was stirring Saul’s heart, to talk to his servant, to seek his opinion.

We have to remember, there are two wills: God’s perfect will and God’s permissive will. God’s perfect will is exactly what it says. It is God’s perfect plan for our lives. We will be blessed beyond our imagination, if we stay in God’s perfect will.

God’s permissive will is second best, and we will miss out on some of God’s blessings, if we choose to follow our own path. God allows us to do whatever we want to do. He does not force us into His plan. That is His permissive will, and it falls short of His perfect will.

I want God’s perfect will for my life. I want it for my children and my grandchildren. If you want God’s perfect will, you have to submit yourself to Him. If you are sensitive to His Holy Spirit, you will walk according to His perfect plan for your life.

God will always reveal His will to one who is willing to do it.
~Hilys Jasper~

God in Charge

So he passed through the mountains of Ephraim and through the land of Shalisha, but they did not find them. Then they passed through the land of Shaalim, and they were not there. Then he passed through the land of the Benjamites, but they did not find them.

1 Samuel 9:4

Saul and his servant were going throughout the land looking for his father’s donkeys. How far could they have gone? They could have been around the corner. It was not about the donkeys; God was in charge of the situation, and He was leading them to exactly the place He needed him to be. God was in charge.

I think they were a little frustrated, because they could not find the donkeys, but again it was God’s plan. He was leading and guiding them to the perfect place to meet Samuel. It was all God’s doing. He told the people He would give them a king from the tribe of Benjamin, and He was going to bring it to pass.

Just like Saul, sometimes, we cannot figure out why we are going through something or why there is a delay and yet, it is all God’s timing. Sometimes, we think God is punishing us or He hates us, because we are in a difficult situation.

That is not the case. God loves us and His plans for us are greater than anything we could ever imagine. We have to trust in Him and be open to His plans and His timing, or we will miss out on the great blessings He has for us. Remember Jeremiah 29:11, God promises us a future and a hope.

God’s promises are like the stars; the darker the night
the brighter they shine.
~David Nicholas~

No Coincidence

Now the donkeys of Kish, Saul’s father, were lost. And Kish said to his son Saul, “Please take one of the servants with you, and arise, go and look for the donkeys.”

1 Samuel 9:3

God was already making things happen in order for Saul to meet Samuel. He arranged for Kish to lose his donkeys, so he could send Saul to go look for them. This was all part of God’s plan. Nothing is by coincidence.

If the donkeys had not been lost, where would Saul be? His father was rich. He came from a great family and, maybe, because of his family’s wealth, he was too comfortable. God had to take him away from his family, so He could put His plan into action.

God saw this family of Benjamin and He wanted to use Saul. He wanted to give him an opportunity to serve Him, as he served the people as their king. That was his responsibility, to serve the people—to protect and provide for them.

Nothing is by coincidence. You have to be open to the Holy Spirit, because God is working in your life. Remember, He is in charge of everything. He causes situations and problems to accomplish His will, not your will. He provides opportunities for each one of us to serve Him, and sometimes He puts us in situations to take us out of our comfort zone. He does this so we will trust in Him and no one else, fully and completely.

If we choose to walk according to the plan God has for us, there will be surprises along the way, but God is in control, so we can rest in Him.

There is no such a thing as chance or accident;
the words merely signify our ignorance of some
real and immediate cause.
~Adam Clarke~

God’s Choice

And he had a choice and handsome son whose name was Saul. There was not a more handsome person than he among the children of Israel. From his shoulders upward he was taller than any of the people.

1 Samuel 9:2

In Hebrew Saul’s name means “desired”. He was not only from a wealthy and powerful family, but he was the tallest in Israel. He was taller from the shoulders up and he was handsome. He had it all, and now God was going to make him king. He was just what the people were looking for.

When you look at Saul, you have to understand, he was very impressive as a young man. He was about 32 years of age, and the Bible says there was not a man more handsome. At the same time, think about God and His requirements. Do you think God was looking at the outward man? Do you think He wanted the most handsome man or the strongest man?

Sometimes appearances are very deceiving. Even though he was the choice among the children of Israel and was head and shoulders above all the people, Saul would turn out to be one of the worst kings.

Think about all our elections. How many times we choose people by the outward appearances instead of the inward heart. It is not only in elections, but in choosing our wives and husbands.

What do you look for in a spouse? Be careful as a single person. You do not want someone who looks good but does not have a heart for God. Then, it would be your choice in the flesh but not God’s choice. Remember, God’s will is always the best choice!

There are no disappointments to those whose wills are buried in the will of God.
~Frederick W. Faber~

Humble & Mighty

There was a man of Benjamin whose name was Kish the son of Abiel, the son of Zeror, the son of Bechorath, the son of Aphiah, a Benjamite, a mighty man of power.

1 Samuel 9:1

Saul came from the tribe of Benjamin, one of the best tribes, but one of the smallest tribes. At one time, Benjamin was almost completely wiped out, but God spared them. In Judges 19 and 20, the people sinned and killed the concubine of a Levite, so the other tribes came against them.

While the tribe of Benjamin was small, Saul’s family was very wealthy. The word power in the Hebrew is chayil, and it means “strength, might, efficiency, wealth and army.” They had money, and they were powerful in their community.

God raised up the first king of Israel from the smallest of His tribes. Even though the family was powerful within their tribe, that did not mean they were as powerful among all the tribes. Coming from the tribe of Benjamin, they were a humble people.

I find it interesting; God raised up Paul the Apostle from the tribe of Benjamin. He was another powerful man, with great authority in the Sanhedrin and yet God made him a humble man.

That is a great lesson to all of us. Your background does not matter to the Lord. He is looking for men and women who are humble and have willing hearts. He wants men and women who will be fully dependent on Him, not on their great knowledge. Then He can do great things, but only if we stay humble! Remember that!

Until a man is nothing, God can make nothing of him.
~Martin Luther~

God or Man

Nevertheless the people refused to obey the voice of Samuel; and they said, “No, but we will have a king over us, that we also may be like all the nations,and that our king may judge us and go outbefore us and fight our battles.”

1 Samuel 8:19-20

These verses are so sad. After everything Samuel told them, warned them, they still chose to have a king rule over them instead of the Lord. They did not care. They were not listening to the warning.

Think about it; they wanted a man to go out and fight their battles. God had delivered them from their enemies time and time again. He had protected them through the wilderness. He had defeated the giants in the land, but they chose a weak man over the omnipotence of God.

It sounds crazy, but think about how many people come to church every week, and they are not listening. They are just attending, but they do not heed the warnings. They do not take God’s advice, and then they get themselves in a pit they cannot get themselves out of it.

What does this mean? Why do we make bad choices? It is rebellion in the hearts of the people. When we ignore God and the warnings He gives for our own good, we are a rebellious people. We think we know better than the Lord.

Just like the children of Israel, we have to decide who we will follow, God or man. We can rely on the weakness of man or the power of the Lord.

God’s power is the best guard, the safest convoy and the surest castle that any can have.
~William Gouge~

Pentecost

When the Day of Pentecost had fully come, they were all with one accord in one place. … And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance.

Acts 2:1, 4

They were all still together in Jerusalem on the Day of Pentecost, because this is one of the three festivals which require the Jewish males to make the pilgrimage to Jerusalem to appear before the Lord. Just as the name Pentecost signifies, this was 50 days after the Passover—50 days after the death of Christ.

Think about it. The Day of Pentecost is a time of joy and celebration for the Jewish people. They give thanks to the Lord for His blessing on the harvest, for giving the Ten Commandments and for deliverance from Egypt.

In Acts 1:4, Jesus told the Apostles to stay in Jerusalem and wait for the Promise of the Father. He said, “for John truly baptized with water, but you shall be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now” (Acts 1:5).

When the Lord filled them with the Holy Spirit, they were able to truly give thanks, as He enabled them to speak in tongues. The promise of the Lord had been fulfilled, with God’s great provision.

Today, celebrate and give thanks to God for the provision of salvation. As God gave the Law, He also gave His Son for a new covenant of grace, for those who will believe and walk with Jesus Christ.

The work of the Holy Spirit is as needful as that of Christ.
~William MacLeod~

Feast of Weeks

“You shall count seven weeks for yourself; begin to count the seven weeks from the time you begin to put the sickle to the grain. Then you shall keep the Feast of Weeksto the Lord your God with the tribute of a freewilloffering from your hand, which you shall giveas the Lord your God blesses you.”

Deuteronomy 16:9-10

The Feast of Weeks is also known as Pentecost, which means “50” because it is celebrated 50 days following the Passover. This is a feast of joy and thankfulness, as the children of Israel give thanks to the Lord for His blessing on the harvest. In celebration, the people make an offering to the Lord of new grain from the summer wheat harvest.

It is also closely linked to the Ten Commandments, because it is believed it was during the Feast of Weeks when God gave Moses the Law. With this in mind, the children memorize Scriptures and many spend the entire night reading and studying the Torah and the Book of Ruth.

Tomorrow, as morning approaches in Israel, the practicing Jews will leave their homes and make their way through the orthodox quarters of Jerusalem to the Western Wall plaza, where they will recite the Amidah prayer together. This ancient “standing” prayer goes back 200 years and includes 19 blessings.

The feasts of Israel are central to the lives of the Jewish people. They do not work but spend their time with family, reading God’s Word, praying and celebrating the blessings and provisions of the Lord. He is worthy to be praised, as He is our great provider!

There are no days when God’s fountain does not flow.
~Richard Owen Roberts~

Willful Rejection

“And you will cry out in that day because of your king whom you have chosen for yourselves, and the Lord will not hear you in that day.”

1 Samuel 8:18

This is the end of the warning. This is looking to the future, after the people realize what life will be like under a man for a king. In the midst of their despair, the people will cry out and God will remind them; they chose a king over Him. They made the decision, and God just gave them what they wanted. What a sad commentary.

The worst part of the warning is God’s response. When the people cry out, God will not listen. He loved them. He provided for them; and He warned them. They would have to live with the choice they made.

It happened then, to the children of Israel, and it will happen today. How many times do we make the wrong decision without praying and it has become a snare to us. We need to learn from history. These things were written for our example.

We need to be prayed up. We do not want to get ahead of the Lord. We want to do exactly what God intended all along. It is the only way you have peace and joy—when you walk in the will of the Lord.

Samuel wanted the right thing, but the people chose the wrong thing. They will be in bondage to a king but God never intended that. They would cry out about of the abuse of the king, but God would not hear them, because they willfully rejected the Lord.

The will is the deciding factor in everything we do. In every sphere of life it settles alternatives.
~Frederick P. Wood~

You Choose!

So Samuel told all the words of the Lord to the people who asked him for a king. … “He will take a tenth of your sheep. And you will be his servants.”

1 Samuel 8:10, 17

The people asked Samuel to give them a king in Verse 5 and in Verses 10 – 17, he returned to give them God’s answer, along with the warning. God will give them a king, but they will be in bondage to the king.

The king was going to use them and their children for labor. They would take care of his chariots and be horsemen for the king. The children of Israel will be used to plow the king’s fields, gather his harvest and make his weapons.

Notice, all the labor will now be for the king. The best of their fields and vineyards will be for the king. Their children will serve in the king’s court as cooks and bakers, warriors and laborers. They were free in the Lord and they chose to be in bondage to a king. God gave them everything and now it would all go to the king and his officers.

This was the warning from the Lord. They wanted a king, like the other nations, and this is what an earthly king does. He puts you in bondage to serve him and his court.

This is a warning from the Lord to you and I. We can serve the Lord and be blessed with the freedom we have in Him, or we can choose to be in bondage to sin and this world. The world will use you and abuse you, but God just wants to love and bless you. You choose!

The money, the pleasures, the daily business of the world are so many traps to catch souls.
~J. C. Ryle~

Living in God’s Will

“Now therefore, heed their voice. However, you shall solemnly forewarn them, and show them the behavior of the king who will reign over them.”

1 Samuel 8:9

Heed their voice—God was going to do what the people asked. He was going to give them a king, but in His great love for them, He was giving them a warning. He was not going to let them enter into this decision blindly. God would give them what they asked for, but they would know the consequences in advance.

In this life, the situations we are in all come down to the choices we have made. Many times, we look around and ask ourselves, How did this happen? Why is this happening to me? If we go back and look at our past, we will see the choices we made, and how they led us to the place or the situation we are currently in.

When life seems to be beating us up, people often blame God. How could He let this happen? If you read through the Old Testament, the children of Israel constantly blamed God. Why did God take us out of Egypt just to die in the wilderness? God had everything under control, but they did not trust Him.

As we go through the Book of 1 Samuel, we have to recognize the lessons for us today. God is always faithful. He cannot be unfaithful. We must realize the choices we make determine the situations we encounter. If we seek the will of God for our lives, we will avoid much pain and suffering.

There are no disappointments to those whose wills are buried in the will of God.
~Frederick W. Faber~

Rebellion or Faithfulness

According to all the works which they have done since the day that I brought them up out of Egypt, even to this day—with which they have forsaken Me and servedother gods—so they are doing to you also.

1 Samuel 8:8

Samuel was not only hurt by the rejection of the people, he was surprised. How could they reject God after everything He had done for them? Samuel had been faithful to the Lord since childhood but, more importantly, he had seen the faithfulness of God first hand.

On the other hand, God was not surprised at all. He had seen the faithlessness of the people time and time again. The people would rebel and God would allow their enemies to overcome them. Then, they would cry out to God and God would deliver them.

They murmured and complained against Moses and God, and God’s judgment came against them in the wilderness. All the people who were older than 20 years old died in the wilderness. They never saw the Promised Land. Why? Their rebellion against the Lord.

I could tell you story after story from the Bible about rebellious people—God’s people, not non-believers. God gave us all these stories as examples and warnings, but we do not listen. We do not learn from the children of Israel. We want to be rebellious people too. We want to test the patience of God.

I pray today, you really examine your life and see if you are being faithful to the Lord. Do not test the Lord. You will not like the results.

Reverent fear of God is the key to faithfulness
in any situation.
~Alan Redpath~

Judgment of a Nation

And the Lord said to Samuel, “Heed the voice of the people in all that they say to you; for they have not rejected you, but they have rejected Me, that Ishould not reign over them.”

1 Samuel 8:7

Samuel was hurt when the people asked for a king. He thought they were rejecting Him, but when he went to the Lord, he found out the truth. The people God had chosen as His own were rejecting Him. He had provided for them during the famine, delivered them from slavery in Egypt, brought them into the Promised Land and continually defeated their enemies, and they were rejecting Him. They wanted a man to judge them instead of God. Imagine that!

It seems hard to believe, and yet, that is exactly what the people of the United States are doing today. God provided a land of plenty, without a king for those escaping from religious persecution. He defeated our enemy and enabled us to establish our own government, with religious freedom, but we no longer want God to rule over us.

That is the bottom line—we do not want God ruling over us. We no longer want a moral absolute. We want to do what is right in our own eyes. We are just like Israel.

We have rejected God from ruling over us, just like Israel, and just like Israel, we will face God’s judgment. When a nation rejects God, they are on their way to judgment, but they do not even know it. They are so full of themselves; they fail to see God’s hand coming against them until it is too late. Surely we need to pray for our nation today more than ever.

If you are not seeking the Lord, judgment is at your heels.
~C. H. Spurgeon~

Change

But the thing displeased Samuel when they said, “Give us a king to judge us.” So Samuel prayed to the Lord.

1 Samuel 8:6

It says Samuel was displeased but it was more than that. He was very hurt. He had been a faithful servant of the Lord and to the people since he was a small child, and now the people were rejecting him. They did not trust him to make the right decision for them.

Even though he was hurt, Samuel did not speak out in anger to the people. He went to the Lord—he went to pray. He could have said something hurtful, but he waited upon the Lord. What a great example Samuel is to each of us. Whenever we are hurt by someone, we need to take it to the Lord in prayer. We need to wait on God and not respond in the heat of our emotions.

Samuel had every right to be hurt. The Lord had led the people and protected them for years, and yet, they did not want Him. They did not trust Him. They wanted change.

Just recently, I realized, we did the same thing here in America. We have slowly thrown God out of the schools, out of the government and out of our personal lives. We do not want God to lead us. Instead, we elected a man who promised change, without knowing what kind of change.

There can never be good change, if it involves taking God out of our lives. If change means trusting man over God, we are in trouble. All we have to do is read 1 Samuel to know we must put our hope and trust in God or all is lost.

Our hope lies not in the man we put on the moon, but in the Man we put on the Cross.
~Don Basham~

Rebellious People

Then all the elders of Israel gathered together and came to Samuel at Ramah, and said to him, “Look, you are old, and your sons do not walk in your ways. Now make us a king to judge us like all the nations.”

1 Samuel 8:4-5

We know it was not a good thing for the elders of Israel to ask for a king, so they could be like the other nations, but notice, they also recognized the sin in Samuel’s sons. They were not godly men. They did not represent the Lord. They were corrupt, and they would have led the people away from the Lord, just like Eli’s sons.

The elders knew Samuel’s sons could not be trusted to judge Israel. They did not see godliness or leadership in the two young men. But instead of seeking the will of God, they sought the will of man. Instead of asking the Lord to raise up a godly man to judge Israel, a man who would be led by the Lord, they asked for a king.

God was the King of Israel. The judges and priests were led by the Lord. They were to speak to the Lord for the people and deliver God’s messages to the people. God did not call out this people to be led by an earthly king. They were to be His people, led by Him and Him alone.

The elders were right to hold Samuel and his sons accountable. They were right to point out the sin. However, they sinned when they asked for a king, instead of God. They were in rebellion to the Lord.

As Christians, if we allow anyone or anything to rule over our lives, instead of God, we are a rebellious people—in sin before the Lord!

If we be ruled by sin, we shall inevitably be ruined by it.
~Matthew Henry~

Content in the Lord

Then all the elders of Israel gathered together and came to Samuel at Ramah, and said to him, “Look, you are old, and your sons do not walk in your ways. Now make us a king to judge us like all the nations.”

1 Samuel 8:4-5

Notice who came to Samuel. It was not the people. It was the elders! The elders came to Samuel, asking for a king to rule over them, instead of the Lord. The elders should have known better.

They could not have a king like the other nations. They were not like other nations. They were the children of God. What about praying and fasting and waiting upon God. Who does He want to be the judge of Israel? They did not seek the Lord. They sought their own ways. That is why Saul became the king, a puppet king, who would not walk with God.

Then David became the real king; a man after God’s heart. While David would be a great king and Solomon would also walk with the Lord after him, this rebellion by the leaders of Israel sent the nation into dark days. Read Kings and Chronicles and you will see the horrible kings who came after David. Many of them led the people into idolatry.

It all started with a rebellious leadership. They were not faithful to the things of the Lord. They wanted to be like all the other nations. They were not content to be the chosen people of God. Imagine that!

We have to remember, we are called to be set apart unto the Lord. We are not called to copy the world. We should not only be content in the Lord, but we should rejoice in the Lord. We serve an awesome God!

Devotion signifies a life given or devoted to God.
~William Law~

God First Priority

But his sons did not walk in his ways; they turned aside after dishonest gain, took bribes, and perverted justice.

1 Samuel 8:3

The sons of Samuel did not live up to their names: Joel, “Yahweh is God” and Abijah, “Yahweh is my Father.” They did not follow the example of their father. Instead, they followed the example of Eli’s sons, Hophni and Phineas. They were stealing, taking bribes and perverting justice.

Knowing the behavior or misbehavior of his sons, why would Samuel compromise; knowing they were evil, why would he appoint them judges over Israel? It does not make any sense. He saw the judgment God put upon Eli and his entire house and yet, Samuel did the same thing. He did not heed the warning from the Lord.

It is important to recognize, we are living in a time with so many distractions. Our kids are constantly being entertained and influenced by the world around them. You cannot control them. You can bring them to church and send them to Christian schools, but they are still being influenced by what they are seeing and hearing around them.

As parents, we have the responsibility to teach our children the importance of God’s Word in their lives but when they get older, they will make their own decisions. They can choose to make God the first priority in their lives, or they can do evil in the sight of the Lord.

You must still do your part and give them God. You may be broken hearted like Samuel, or you may be blessed as they serve the Lord, but you cannot compromise on God’s Word.

Lines of least resistance make crooked rivers
and crooked men.
~William H. Danforth~

Led Astray

The name of his firstborn was Joel, and the name of his second, Abijah; they were judges in Beersheba.

1 Samuel 8:2

These were the children of Samuel. The name of his firstborn was Joel, which means “Yahweh is God;” the second son was Abijah, meaning “Yahweh is my Father.” Samuel gave his sons such honorable names, because he had such great expectations for them to love and honor the Lord in service.

What we have to remember is what was said in Judges 2:10:

When all that generation had been gathered to their fathers, another generation arose after them who did not know the Lord nor the work which He had done for Israel.

Samuel’s children are a part of that generation in Judges 2:10. They grew up with Samuel as their example, but they were influenced by the people and the culture around them, just like our children today.

Samuel should have known better as a father. He had so many examples in the Bible. Look at Aaron’s sons, who God killed because they were not righteous. Eli’s sons were killed, because they sinned in the tabernacle and led the people away from God.

Christian mothers and fathers: do not be fooled. Your children are influenced by their friends, television, movies and video games. Samuel and Eli’s stories are written for our examples so we do not make the same mistakes.

Man is a creature that is led more
by patterns than by precepts.
~George Swinnock~

Seek God’s Wisdom

Now it came to pass when Samuel was old that he made his sons judges over Israel.

1 Samuel 8:1

Samuel was making his first mistake, as he put his sons over the nation of Israel. He was old and he could not see who God was raising up to take his place because he was not going according to God’s will. He did not have his Joshua.

He was entering his twilight years; he would not retire but the Lord was ready to take him. Samuel wanted to continue with the Lord’s work, but he could not do all the things he did as a young man. Instead of going to God, he began to rely on his own personal knowledge, and he appointed his children to take his place, just as any father would do. However, he knew their behavior, just like Eli, and yet he ignored their behavior and tried to put them next in line.

It is interesting; Samuel saw what happened to Eli and his sons, and yet he was following in the same footsteps. We will see in later verses, the people did not want Samuel’s sons to follow him, because they knew they were not godly men. Again, just like Eli.

That is pretty heavy when you think about it. We can all learn from this lesson. No matter how much you love your family or friends, if they are doing wrong and you do not rebuke them, then you are wrong before God, and you should not be in authority. No matter what job we have, we should always be sensitive to the Holy Spirit and seek wisdom from the Lord, not rely on our human wisdom.

Wisdom must be from God, because it can be found
only in relation to Him.
~Edmund P. Clowney~

Memorial Day

“For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many.”

Mark 10:45

Today we remember those who pay the ultimate sacrifice and give their lives for this country. They leave their families and friends to defend the lives and rights of the people of the United States and around the world. That is the legacy of our men and women in the armed forces—their courage and sacrifice.

What an incredible example we have of sacrifice, courage and servanthood. Christ came down from the Father’s side, only to die on the Cross, an innocent Man for sinful man. He truly paid the ultimate price.

When Christ died on the Cross, He gave us the greatest gift—eternity with Him in heaven. It was a great sacrifice, but He paid the price for so many. He saved so many lives.

There are many men and women who have paid the price and saved so many lives throughout the many years and many wars. There is always a price to be paid to save lives in war.

I remember the men I fought alongside in Vietnam. I am thankful for those who came home with me and I pray for the families of those who did not. Their sacrifice will always be remembered by me, the men and women they fought side by side with and their families. I also thank God for His Son upon the Cross, who has welcomed so many home—into eternity. Semper Fi!

For death is no more than a turning of us over
from time to eternity.
~ William Penn~

Altars

And Samuel judged Israel all the days of his life. He went from year to year on a circuit to Bethel, Gilgal, and Mizpah, and judged Israel in all those places. But he always returned to Ramah, for his home was there. There he judged Israel, and there he built an altar to the LORD.

1 Samuel 7:15-17

Samuel judged Israel all the days of his life. Think about it. His parents dropped him off at the temple when he was a small child. Hannah had dedicated him to the Lord, so she gave him to Eli, the priest, as a young child. Samuel grew up in the temple.

After the Lord judged Eli and his sons, Samuel continued the work of the Lord. He was the priest for Israel. He made sacrifices to the Lord, and he judged Israel. He built an altar to the Lord going from city to city. Can you imagine how many altars he built to the Lord, as he travelled throughout Israel? What does that tell you? He had a strong relationship with the Lord. He spent time with God building altars.

How many altars do you have to the Lord? Seriously. How many altars do you have or shall I ask, how many altars do you have to other gods you are worshipping, instead of the true God?

Samuel teaches us an important lesson. We need to build altars to the Lord, which means seeking first the kingdom of God and His righteousness. The only way we can build altars to the Lord is by spending time with Him—building a relationship with Him. God has to be Number One in my life so He can speak, He can direct, He can lead and He can send me, wherever He wants me to go.

How divinely supreme is our Lord above all others.
~D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones~

God Led

Then the cities which the Philistines had taken from Israel were restored to Israel, from Ekron to Gath; and Israel recovered its territory from the hands of the Philistines. Also there was peace between Israel and the Amorites.

1 Samuel 7:14

Look at the faithfulness of the Lord. He not only brought back the Ark of the Covenant from the Philistines, but He defeated them before there was even a battle and restored the cities the Philistines had taken from Israel. He did it all.

Whenever there is repentance before God on the throne, there is restoration—fully and completely. From Ekron to Gath, God gave it all back to Israel. God not only restored the land but He brought peace to the land. There was peace between Israel, the Philistines and the Amorites.

In Verse 13, we see the peace continued throughout Samuel’s life. Israel was under godly leadership. After Samuel died, the leadership was no longer godly. Remember, Samuel was the last judge, with God leading the nation of Israel.

During the days of Samuel, the people asked for a king like the heathen nations. They no longer wanted God to rule over them. God warned them, but He gave them what they wanted, a king named Saul. Since, the people asked for a king, despite the Lord’s warnings, they suffered greatly.

We can choose to be led by the Lord or led by our flesh. If we choose the flesh, we will suffer, just like Israel.

Where Christ does not rule, sin does.
~J. I. Packer~

Faithful Servant

Then Samuel took a stone and set it up between Mizpah and Shen, and called its name Ebenezer, saying, “Thus far the LORD has helped us.” So the Philistines were subdued, and they did not come anymore into the territory of Israel. And the hand of the LORD was against the Philistines all the days of Samuel.

1 Samuel 7:12-13

Notice, the Philistines did not come against Israel all the days of Samuel. We see the faithfulness of Samuel. He walked with the Lord all the days of his life, not turning to the left or the right. I like that about Samuel.

The next time we see the Philistines is when they kill Saul and his sons. Isn’t that interesting? Samuel was already dead and the Philistines are back, because Saul was not a faithful servant. The Philistines knew they did not have to fear Saul, because he did not walk right before the Lord.

This is a very important point. The enemy knew they had to fear Samuel, but not Saul. They knew who was faithful to the Lord and who was not faithful. They knew Samuel would seek God before doing anything, and Saul was moved by his emotions. He did not seek the Lord.

If we really want to walk according to the will of God and experience the blessings of God, we have to be in communion with God. We cannot let every emotion sway us to the right or to the left. If we are ruled by our emotions, we are going to fail. If we seek the Lord and His will for our lives, we will be blessed. Our enemies will think twice before coming against us, because we are faithful servants of a most powerful God.

Faithfulness knows no difference between
small and great duties.
~John Ruskin~

Do Not Worry

Now as Samuel was offering up the burnt offering, the Philistines drew near to battle against Israel. But the LORD thundered with a loud thunder upon the Philistines that day, and so co