Posts tagged 1 Samuel
Monday Message: Waiting in the Wilderness

Everyone who was in distress, and everyone who was in debt, and everyone who was discontented gathered to him; and he became captain over them. Those who were with him numbered about four hundred. 

1 Samuel 22:2

Following Jesus in life insures a level of discontent with the world around us.  A person only places the fullness of their trust in God when they realize that the world is not really worthy of their faith. 

Few of us come to this conclusion on our own.  More often, God allows us to fall into seasons of discontent.  In these times, our finances, our relationships, our health, our inner feelings, or our circumstances painfully twist us into new perspective on life.  It is in these seasons that we must most fully face God. 

David found himself in such a place of discontent.  He had lost his place of honor in life and found himself abandoned in a cave in the wilderness.  Those who gathered around him are described by their distress, their debt, and their discontent.  He was the captain of the malcontents.

In the midst of the desert place, David refused to be led by his discontent.  Instead, he allowed the wilderness to shake from him his natural affections and reliance upon himself.  David allowed his place of desolation to become a place of waiting.  He said to the king of Moab, “Please let my father and mother come to you, until I know what God will do for me.” (1 Samuel 22:3)

I know that life is often difficult and unfair.  I know that following Jesus has not won for us life without pain or difficulty.  But when we find ourselves in the wilderness, we must seek to turn our place of desolation into a place of waiting.  We can trust that “those who wait for the LORD shall renew their strength, they shall mount up with wings like eagles, they shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint.”  (Is. 40:31)

Wait upon God to show you what God will do for you.

Dear Jesus, when difficult times come to us, we choose to look to you.  Fill us with hope in your salvation.  Fill us with the promise of your eternity.  We choose to wait until we know what God will do for us.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Monday Message: Friends in Jesus

17 Jonathan made David swear again by his love for him; for he loved him as he loved his own life.

1 Samuel 20:17

We talk often about relationship in the Christian Church.  Rightfully, most of our focus is upon relationship with the living God that is available to us in Christ Jesus.  More neglected is conversation about the relationships that take place between fellow Christians.

But God has not called us solely into relationship with Christ.  God calls us together in the church.  We are supposed to be together.  Solo Christianity does not work.

I know that this is not a popular sentiment these days.  It is argued that solo Christianity actually works better.  Other Christians are messy.  They aren’t as graceful as they are supposed to be toward us.  They aren’t as righteous as they are supposed to be when we look at them.  But it is precisely within this mess that God gifts us with one another.

Early on, Jonathan and David bonded together.  In 1 Samuel 18, we are told that “the soul of Jonathan was bound to the soul of David” and that “Jonathan made a covenant with David.”  They were connected and recognized their connection before God.

Now this was easy to do early on when they had a lot in common.  They went to war together fighting the enemies of Israel.  They were in the royal court together being part of the reign of Jonathan’s father, King Saul.  But soon, the circumstances would not support their friendship.  At the time of our passage above, the political, social, and economic expediency of their friendship was gone.  The only thing that remained was their bond in God.

But it was this bond in God that kept them honest in their relationship with God in difficult times.  It was Jonathan’s love for David that allowed him to see the flaws in his father Saul.  It was David’s love for Jonathan that kept David faithful to moving in integrity toward the house of Saul when it would have been easier to manipulate and control.

We need each other for the same reasons.  We need to be bound to one another in our common love and faith in Jesus Christ.  And when that gets messy, those are the times when those relationships become that much more valuable.

Jesus, we confess that we often don’t like each other.  We confess that we often feel threatened by each other.  But we ask You to show us Your great love for each other.  Then bind us together in that love.  We invite You to use us to bless one another… even in the mess of human life.  We trust You, even when it is You in and through the mess of other people.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Monday Message: Facing Sabotage

28 His eldest brother Eliab heard him talking to the men; and Eliab’s anger was kindled against David. He said, “Why have you come down? With whom have you left those few sheep in the wilderness? I know your presumption and the evil of your heart; for you have come down just to see the battle.”  29 David said, “What have I done now? It was only a question.”  30 He turned away from him toward another and spoke in the same way; and the people answered him again as before. 

1 Samuel 17:28-30

As our intimacy with the living God grows, there will come times when we will see things differently than those around us.  There will come times when the Holy Spirit will speak a sense of unease into our spirits.  It is an unease that invites us to believe that Jesus sees things differently.  It invites us to live from a different perspective than those around us.

Our text in 1 Samuel 17 recounts a time when David was filled with such unease.  He visited his brother Eliab at the battlefront between the armies of Israel and those of the Philistines.  The armies of Israel were cowed by the boasting and insults of a Philistine warrior named Goliath.  David responds boldly to Goliath and begins to question the circumstances around him.  

Eventually, David will act out of his holy unease.  In one of the most well-known stories in the Bible, David will step out to face Goliath in battle with no more than his faith and a slingshot. 

But the text above occurs before all of this.

Before David could redefine Goliath with the vision of God, he had to get past his brother Eliab.  For reasons unstated in the text, Eliab is angry at David.  Perhaps it is sibling rivalry.  Perhaps it is out of concern for David’s safety.  Either way, Eliab steps forward to sabotage David’s movement in faith before it happens.

Sabotage is part of following God.  There will always be those around us (or our own thoughts within us) that will attempt to counter the voice of God.  “Who do you think you are?  You are nothing but a shepherd!”

I am fascinated by David’s response.  Instead of arguing with the sabotage, he turns from it.  What if we did this with the words of doubt that so often derail us from following the nudges of God’s Spirit?  What if we did this when faced with those who don’t get this whole Jesus thing?  What if we turned from the sabotage and redoubled our efforts to rightly discern what God is speaking to us?

Jesus, we want to know you and to hear your voice clearly.  Give us the ability to recognize your voice.  Give us awareness to recognize sabotage to faithfulness.  Give us the wisdom to know that discernment of your voice does not come from sabotage… so give us the boldness to turn from it to seek your vision for our lives.  We pray this in Jesus’ name, Amen.

Monday Message: Ask for a Pliable Heart

The LORD said to Samuel, “How long will you grieve over Saul?”

1 Samuel 16:1

My eye keeps getting caught on this verse.  Early last week, I began to look at 1 Samuel 16 to start a new sermon series on the life of David.  But my eye kept getting caught on this verse.

Samuel grieved over Saul.  Why?  Saul was the mistake.  He had fallen from grace.  He had been brutal and abusive.  He had been unfaithful to God’s call upon his life to be king over God’s people.  Samuel no longer had a way of healing or making things right with Saul.  Later in this same passage, Samuel will tell God that he is afraid to do what God is asking because “Saul will kill me.”

This Saul who Samuel knows will kill him… this is the Saul for whom Samuel grieves. 

My next question is to myself: “How often do I grieve for people?”  Particularly, how often do I grieve for people who have hated me, rejected me, or gone the way opposite to the way I have gone.  I don’t know if I do.  I am more likely to write such relationships off.  “There is nothing more I can do,” I rationalize when I am gracious.  I act as if someone is “dead to me” when I am less gracious.  When I am speaking piously, I may say, “I am putting them in your hands, Jesus.”

But perhaps we need to grieve more.  When we can do nothing else relationally, we can grieve.  We can pray.  Perhaps we need to grieve for the friends who have turned on us, the spouses who have left us, the children who have ignored us, the boss or coworkers who dismissed us, the politicians who offend us, or the cancer, brokenness, racism, and injustice that is all around us.  Let us grieve in prayer before the God who hears our prayers and promises to wipe every tear from our eyes.

Jesus, there is much to grieve in this life.  We ask that you would use our grief as a way of making our hearts pliable in your hands.  Help us to hold the things that break our hearts… the things that break your heart before you with tears and with prayer.  We are waiting upon you.  We want to move forward not away from someone else, but toward where you direct us.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.