Bible Reading Blog

Bible Reading Blog

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David Mourned for Saul

Tuesday, June 07, 2022

BIBLE READING: 2 Samuel 1

“…the young man said, “The people fled from the battle… Saul and his son Jonathan are also dead.” (2 Samuel 1.4)

Saul personally assaulted David, made secret plots against him and even amassed an army to take David out. David spent years on the run because of Saul’s erratic behavior. But now Saul was dead. How do you think David responded?

“Then David took hold of his clothes and tore them, and so did all the men who were with him. And they mourned and wept and fasted until evening for Saul and for Jonathan…” (2 Samuel 1.11-12a)

Nearly everyone would have understood David celebrating the death of Saul. “FINALLY, he got what was coming… I can have some peace… I can be the leader God called me to be!” But instead, David mourned the death of Saul. Not once does David defame or slander Saul. Rather he honored Saul as the one God had anointed.

How many would do this today? Much of the modern narrative justifies retribution for a wrong done. Even in our own lives, we feel justified in giving people what they deserve, especially when they've done us wrong. But we see a much different attitude modeled and taught in scripture, especially from Jesus.

“But I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven. For he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust.” (Matthew 5.44-45)

David’s sorrow for Saul’s death models a Christ-like attitude towards authority and our enemies. David reminds us that we honor God by honoring leaders, regardless of how we feel about the person in office. “Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God. Therefore whoever resists the authorities resists what God has appointed, and those who resist will incur judgment” (Romans 13.1-2). Our opinion of the person or their political leaning should never precede the honor we show leaders. If David refused to kill Saul out of respect for God (1 Samuel 26.11), we should take heed how we think about and behave towards our leaders. We cannot honor God if we do not honor authority.

Furthermore, the actions of others will not justify our ungodly behavior. In fact, godliness is often displayed when others are behaving badly. Much of the wrong suffered by David foreshadowed the suffering of the Christ. Several psalms David penned during this tumultuous time of life are Messianic as they depict the suffering Jesus would endure (For example, Psalm 22, 69). David’s attitude gives us a glimpse into the very heart of God who “was despised and rejected” (Isaiah 53.3); pierced for our transgressions and crushed for our iniquity (53.5); he was oppressed and afflicted (53.7). Yet, how did Christ respond to his injustice? “He opened not his mouth” (Isaiah 53.7). While this is a high calling, it is the calling of God that we can and must practice. 

“Do not rejoice when your enemy falls, and let not your heart be glad when he stumbles, let the LORD see it and be displeased…” (Proverbs 24.17-18a)

David Strengthened Himself in The LORD

Tuesday, May 31, 2022

BIBLE READING: 2 Samuel 29-30

David was in a turbulent season of his life. On the run from King Saul, David found himself acting like a crazy person to make friends with the enemy (1 Samuel 21.13). Through lies and deception he gained the trust of a Philistine leader, Achish, even becoming his bodyguard (27.8-12; 28.2). We’re not told David’s intentions with this alliance. However, we know this had potential to put him in an awkward position when the Philistines went to battle against King Saul and the Israelite army.

Through what would appear God’s providence, David was excused from going to war against Israel. The other Philistines didn’t trust his reputation (29.4-5). We learn later this would be the battle in which Saul and Johnathan die. David would be hundreds of miles away, alleviating any sort of conspiracy theory of his involvement.

Instead, King Achish sent David home (29.7). But when David and his men arrived, they found their city burned and looted (30.1-2). The men turned and became hostile towards David, even wanting to stone him (30.6). In his distress, David was at a crossroads. For sixteen months David has been going at things his own way. Now he doesn’t know what to do. Much like the seasons of Abraham’s life, God has not been overtly giving David direction… and David hadn’t really asked in a while.

This situation seems to be a turning point. In 1 Samuel 30.6-8 we read something we haven’t seen in a while. “David strengthened himself in the LORD” and he asked God for direction. And just like with Abraham, David listened when God responded. He recovered his possessions and people and reestablished himself as a leader to trust. Moving forward, we see a more confident and stable version of David as he roots himself in the direction and praise of God.

In much the same way, God allows circumstances to bring us clarity and get us back on track. Is it possible the things that lead you to mourn and be discouraged in life are God’s tool to get your attention? To soften your heart and turn you from sin? To open a door of opportunity for ministry? We need to open our eyes and allow God to direct us through these seasons.

God’s direction may look differently for us today, but he can be heard loud and clear when we commit to be still and listen. Sometimes God’s grace allows us to do things our way to see that doesn’t work. Sometimes he providentially keeps us from things to protect us. Whatever the case, God knows what he’s doing even when we don’t.

When you look back on difficult seasons of life, what do you see? In hindsight we can identify pride and emotional choices that was wrong. That’s part of life. But through maturity and faith we should develop better clarity in the present, leading to deeper trust and conviction today in listening to the voice of God.

“Today if you hear his voice, do not harden your heart” (Hebrews 3.15)

Circumstantial Morality

Tuesday, May 24, 2022

BIBLE READING: 1 Samuel 28

“…when Saul inquired of the LORD, the LORD did not answer him, either by dreams, or by Urim, or by prophets. The Saul said to his servants, “Seek out for me a woman who is a medium, that I may go to her and inquire of her.”” (1 Samuel 28.6-7a)

Saul’s life was in a tailspin, and he wanted it to stop. But God had rejected him, both personally and by proxy (1 Samuel 28.6, 16). In his desperation, Saul violated not only his own command (28.3, 9), but another of God’s commands (Leviticus 19.31).

Saul’s life could be summed up with the mantra, “It is better to ask forgiveness than permission” and the results were devastating. His circumstantial morality consistently positioned him to make inconsistent and impulsive decisions. Saul knew the right thing to do, and he simply did not do it.

The scriptures make clear that no amount of confession or repentance would change his outcome. Even though he was wanting to listen now (1 Samuel 28.15), Samuel explains that he should have listened the first time (28.17-18, cf. 1 Samuel 15.1-3). Each time Saul willfully disobeyed there were consequences of increasing severity (presumably to turn him back to right, but with little effect), culminating in his death in battle (28.19; 31.4).

“..if we go on sinning deliberately after receiving the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins, but a fearful expectation of judgment, and a fury of fire that will consume the adversaries.” (Hebrews 10.26-27)

Saul’s story is an object lesson for this principle and a powerful witness to the effects of willful disobedience. His rejection of God and his law brought about definite consequences that could not be undone.

There are times we act out of ignorance, but many times sin occurs in a context where we know better. While grace is immense through Christ, it is limited by our choices in these moments of awareness. The writer of Hebrews continues:

“Anyone who has set aside the law of Moses dies without mercy on the evidence of two or three witnesses. How much worse punishment, do you think, will be deserved by the one who has trampled underfoot the Son of God, and has profaned the blood of the covenant by which he was sanctified, and has outraged the Spirit of grace?” (Hebrews 10.28-29)

We must not allow grace to salve our conscience. We know how God expects us to behave, and the moments we tend to struggle. Usually it’s when we’re frustrated, upset or emotional. We revert to selfish, defensive behavior. Too often we decide these are the moments to excuse our behavior. God is not only displeased by this choice but is outraged when we decide we’ll just ask for forgiveness later. This choice is contrary to God’s nature and negligent of what he has revealed to us. For this reason, our moral choices must be rooted in his character and not simply in our circumstances.

When we know what is right, we must do it (James 4.17). God will not tell us twice without discipline or consequence (Hebrews 12.5-11).

Samuel Faded Quietly

Tuesday, May 17, 2022

BIBLE READING: 1 Samuel 25

“Now Samuel died. And all Israel assembled and mourned for him, and they buried him in his house at Ramah.” (1 Samuel 25.1)

Samuel led as a prophet and judge for many years. As Israel transitioned into a period of kings, Samuel anointed both Saul and David. He served as a messenger, counselor, and defender to them during these times. As these men rose to power, Samuel’s role slowly diminished. However, even as his role changed, he continued to uphold God’s will with zeal and conviction until the day he died. 

For a man of such import, Samuel faded quietly into the bible story. But this brief epitaph reminds us his life was meaningful as it impacted the people of God. Here are 3 lessons we learn from Samuel’s life. 

  1. One person can make a difference. In a time when “everyone did what was right in their own eyes”(Judges 17.621.15) Samuel upheld God’s ways. Sometimes the people listened and other times they completely rejected him. But his presence in Israel changed the course of their history. This theme is constant is scripture and reminds us that our choices matter in this world. With the help of God, our small choices of faithfulness will impact those around us.
  2. You have purpose in your generation. This language is borrowed from Acts 13.36 referring to David, but it has application to all people of faith. Because Samuel lived during a transitional time in Israel, it must have felt at times like he was dragging the people along. I’m sure there were times he didn’t enjoy his role, but it was necessary. In the same way God designed each of us to play a role in our generation. Sometimes that purpose is not glamourous. Sometimes it’s hard. Sometimes it only affects a small amount of people. Sometimes it is transitional to position future generation for better things. Whatever the case, you exist on purpose and your role is important in the world.
  3. A lesser role doesn't lessen your impact. Although still respected, Samuel’s role looked very different towards the end of his life. He wasn’t as sought out or listened to. As we age our abilities and opportunities change. That doesn’t make you less useful or irrelevant. It doesn’t discount the things you have done in your life. It just means you have entered a different season. At the same time, it doesn’t mean your work is done. Samuel continued to counsel and support God’s people in significant ways until the day he died, and we all should do the same.

Samuel faded quietly into the bible story, but his legacy is far from irrelevant. He impacted those around him for the good as he pointed them to God. Most importantly God saw him as a man of faith and he received his reward (Hebrews 11.3239-40). May we live in such a way that the same could be said of us.

David Inquired of the LORD Again

Tuesday, May 10, 2022

BIBLE READING: 1 Samuel 23

“Then David inquired of the LORD again. And the LORD answered him, “Arise, go down to Keilah, for I will give the Philistines into your hand.”” (1 Samuel 23.4)

It was David’s habit to inquire of the LORD. Nine times throughout 1 & 2 Samuel, the scriptures depict David stopping to ask God what to do rather than just forging ahead with his own plans. We know David was a man of prayer and meditation, but more importantly he was interested in knowing God’s will. In the same way, the real purpose of our prayers is to make our desires align with God’s will.

But notice David’s persistence towards this in the present context, When the Philistines regrouped and gathered a second time in the valley of Rephaim, David could have easily assumed that he should attack again. But he took nothing for granted and inquired of the Lord again (1 Samuel 23.10-13).  The result was God gave him new instructions. He was to attack from a different direction, and God would work with him in new ways. 

Consider the contrast of Saul’s behavior. He ran full speed ahead in his pursuit of innocent David. He was so blinded by hatred he didn’t appreciate David was doing the job entrusted to him. Saul did not thank God for using David to defend one of his cities from the enemy. Instead, Saul thought God was handing David over to him! (1 Samuel 23.7). Saul was pursuing his own selfish and evil desires and presumed God was helping him. At no point did Saul stop to ask direction from the LORD. Sadly, some people make the same mistake. They have something they really want to do out of their selfish motive. They would say, “It seems God’s will for me to do this.” They are so obsessed to do what they want they fall into an illusion that God is backing them up.

David reminds us we should not presume we know what God wants. David went to inquire of the Lord to be sure he was aligned with God’s will... and then he followed God’s direction. David did this in times of distress and peace. He did not calculate this and that, based on his own logic or people’s opinions. Nor did he depend on people. He depended on God; and how did God help David? “Day after day Saul searched for him, but God did not give David into his hands” (1 Samuel 23.14).

May the Lord give us grace to emulate David’s example and to cultivate the habit of always inquiring of the Lord and waiting for His answer. The more we seek direction from God in prayer and the more we desire to know His will, the more He is honored and the more we are blessed.

“In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will direct your paths” (Proverbs 3.6)

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