1 Samuel 19-20 (Week 10) Being a good friend though loss + hard times

If you're just joining us...head here for the intro and here for weeks 123, 45678, and 9.

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We learned last week that everything David did turned to gold. 18:21 says, In everything he did he had great success, because the Lord was with him. He did all he was asked, and then some. He went from shepherd boy who delivered food to his brothers in battle, to being the hero of it all. He was taken into the palace, became the king’s number one musician, his most successful warrior, his son’s best friend, and his daughter’s husband.

David went from zero to hero with one swing of a stone, and was forced to run for his life from the king himself who couldn’t control his envy, seeking to kill him.

Today I want to focus on two themes: loss from jealousy, and friendship through hard times.

I heard once that jealousy is something that has two victims, and that is certainly true here. Once again Saul attempts to pin David to the wall with his spear while playing the harp, barely escaping with his life (19:9) just as he had in the previous chapter (18:10-11).

The morning after this second attempt, Saul sent men to David’s house to spy and ultimately kill the young warrior. Michal, his wife, must have been observant enough to see her father’s plans unfolding outside her front door and warned, “If you don’t run for your life tonight, tomorrow you’ll be killed.” Letting David down through a window, the brave Michal saved her husband, allowing him to escape.

Stuffing the household teraphim (a clay figuring which represented household spirit guardians), beneath bed coverings and placing goat’s hair at the head, the dim light of a flickering candle or oil lamp would be enough to convince the soldiers David was too weak and ill to move.

Michael’s plan was nearly a success, though in the end, the ruse was realized as the soldiers returned with an attempt to kill him in bed. Switching gears, Michal instead convinced the men she was afraid for her life and allowed her husband to get away because he threatened her.

She had no idea of course, but the moment Michal let David down that window, she lost the man she loved dearly. Eventually her father would remarry her to someone else and it wouldn’t be ‘till years later (after David had several more wives), that he would seek to reclaim her. Michal never had children with either husband.

Saul’s jealousy ruined a marriage. He forced a young man to run for his life. He turned his greatest warrior into a fugitive who ran for his life, living in caves, and even fleeing to Gath (the enemy land where Goliath was from). All this because Saul simply couldn’t wrap his mind around the fact that David was not out for his throne. The young man who brought joy and support to the king suddenly became a source of anger and resentment. The king’s jealousy went unchecked and boiled over to a point that he simply couldn’t reign it in himself.

Fleeing to Ramah, David first seeks solace in Samuel’s home and then joins the aging priest to Naioth, which means dwelling or tents. Not only is David able to conceal himself through security in numbers, but has the opportunity to live within a body of men who have committed their lives to worshiping God.

I love that the former shepherd hid himself here, of all places. It’s so important that when we’re struggling with something, we run into the arms of a body who will love and support us in Jesus’ name. David’s situation is likely nothing we’ve ever experienced, but even so…our strife and wounds are still best supported within a body of Jesus-loving people who will empathize and fall to their knees in prayer over us. People who will encourage, inspire, and embolden us as we grow closer with Him through it.

David seemed to understand the need of this, escaping to a place he knew his thirst for wisdom, discernment, and protection would be quenched as he was poured into by Samuel and the rest of the God-fearing men in this tented community.

It didn’t take long however for word to get back to Saul, who immediately sent men to capture David. Whether Samuel led a group of prophets on a daily basis, or this was some sort of special assemblage, we don’t know. But just as the king’s soldiers saw the group of holy men prophesying, the spirit of God came upon them and they also started prophesying. Saul was told about what happened and sent several more groups of men out to bring back David as prisoner but each time, they too were overcome by the Spirit, forgetting the king’s errand and remained in Ramah prophesying.

Finally, Saul had enough, traveling to Ramah himself. But “the Spirit of God came even upon him, and he walked along prophesying until he came to Naioth. He stripped off his robes and also prophesied in Samuel’s presence. He lay that way all day and night.” (1 Samuel 19:22-24)

This scene is just so hilarious to me and is a fantastic reminder that if God wants to block something from happening, He most certainly will. Saul was on an unworthy mission and God didn’t allow it to come to fruition. The Lord protects David, giving him the chance to journey back to his best friend Jonathan, seeking advice about Saul’s intentions.

Jonathan simply couldn’t comprehend his father acting in such a way and clung tightly (albeit naively) to his father’s proclamation on oath that David would not die (19:6). Because he and David’s friendship was one built with a firm foundation however, Jonathan couldn’t ignore his friend’s insistence and decided devise a plan to pursue King Saul’s true intent.

Read chapter 20 to understand exactly how their plan unfolded…and how Saul’s jealousy and anger once again reared its ridiculously ugly head. Jonathan was aghast at his father’s posture toward David was forced to pick a side, something that I’m sure it pained him to have to do. Having his eyes opened to Saul’s intent, the prince continued with the plan, sending word to David that he was indeed correct that his life was in danger.

The two had a tear-filled goodbye (20:41b says David wept the most) as an era ended. David was no longer the harpist and prized warrior for the king. His former life was lost, for no reason other than unwarranted envy and resentment.

As David turned to leave, Jonathan said “Go in peace! The two of us have vowed friendship in God’s name, saying, ‘God will be the bond between me and you, and between my children and your children forever!’” (1 Samuel 20:42)

They parted, though their friendship remained. So much so in fact that they promised one another to take care of their offspring if death came too early. In those days, if someone (like David) was to strip a king of his throne, every family member would also be put to death to ensure the safety of the new royal line. The thought was, if they were all gone…there would be no one in a line of succession to try and reclaim the crown.

Believing David will one day rule and he will not, Jonathan implores his dear friend to go against custom and instead care for his family. And David did just that. We learn in 2 Samuel that after Saul (and Jonathan) had died and the kingdom was officially David’s, he sought out Mephibosheth, Jonathan’s crippled son.

Do not fear, for I will show you kindness for the sake of your father Jonathan, and I will restore to you all the land of Saul your father, and you shall eat at my table always. (2 Samuel 9:7)

Are we willing to go against cultural stigma and invite others in like this? Would we take in our friend’s children because of the deep love and care we have for our deceased friend? What about simply going against cultural norm in how we open our door…who have you invited in lately that made you feel out of your comfort zone?

One of our girls has a friend whose family recently moved here from Japan. The mom doesn’t know much English and every time I saw her at school pick up and drop off, I could sense loneliness and a desire to connect in her eyes. One day I decided to get over my own comfort and invited her over for coffee. It wasn’t easy, conversation was forced and strained at times during our time together as we searched for a topic that was easily conversed through limited English. But you know what? We laughed at our struggle, we tried our best to understand one another and desired to dive in deeper than simply the weather.

As my new friend shrugged into her jacket and we said goodbyes, she hugged me and looked me right in the eyes, a smile no longer on her lips as seriousness took hold. “Thank you”, she said. “Thank you for this.”

Friendship...true friendship isn't talking about the weather and keeping it all at the surface. Making new friends is sometimes awkward (head here for another post on that topic). Even friendship that has been a constant for decades goes through seasons and struggle.

Struggle is sometimes good. It reminds us we're fighting for one another.

Choosing a friend over a parent who is doing wrong is difficult. Supporting a friend who will receive the blessing that you’re technically supposed to receive, takes selflessness. Bringing your friend’s disabled child into your home is challenging.

David and Jonathan went through each of these (and gosh, so much more)!

We often need to press through the hard to be a good friend.

We need to get to the place where we’re ready to connect through discomfort. Through hard times. What kind of friend are you? What kind of friend do you want to be?


Don't forget to head to The Library to print out your Study Guide to use for your personal Quiet Time (you must subscribe to the blog via email to receive the password).

I can't wait to continue on next week!

Take Joy,

Teresa

P.S all these gorgeous photos are courtesy of the lovely Sarah Johns + Something Styled. Follow her on IG and FB!

1 Samuel 18 (Week 9) - Friendship + Jealousy

If you're just joining us...head here for the intro and here for weeks 123, 4567, and 8.

And don't forget that about the printable Study Guide so you can continue delving deeper in your personal Quiet Time! To access each week's guide in The Library, make sure to sign up to the blog via email so you have the password!

READY TO DIVE INTO WEEK 9?

Before diving into chapter 18, let’s leaf back to the very end of the last chapter we studied. After David threw the stone, sinking it into Goliath’s head, he ran out to where the Philistine lay. As King Saul watched the young boy cut off Goliath’s head, he asked the commander of his army who the boy was.

I had lots of questions about this, since I didn’t reference it in the blogpost (though I did in our live Bible Study here in Denver). It seems strange, doesn’t it? Why, if Saul had already had David come to play the harp for him, 16:21 even stating:

And David came to Saul and entered his service. And Saul loved him greatly, and he became his armor-bearer.

So why is Saul asking who this boy was? We do know that Saul’s mental state declines though the rest of 1 Samuel but I don’t think that’s it. Think of the life of a king, president, or any high profile leader. Consider all the people they come into contact with each and every day. Folks are always coming through their office. Their home. They are constantly meeting with the public. With heads of state. Maybe some individuals bring their families or their assistants and their own people of service. King Saul is not unlike our leaders today as a multitude of people come through his path each day, week, and month.

I can’t even keep everyone straight, can you? With six kids at five schools and each of them in sports and activities and doing playdates with friends from all over the place, sometimes even I lean over to my husband and need him to remind me why someone looks familiar!

As we begin reading chapter 18, the story of who David is, continues. After the young shepherd tells Saul that he is the son of your servant Jesse of Bethlehem (17:58), Jonathan enters the scene. We’re told that the prince became one in spirit with David, and he loved him as himself (18:1).

I always thought the way this was worded seemed a bit strange. They were friends, sure. But what was different about it?

The Hebrew word used here in 18:1 is not a sexual love, but instead one that is used for political and diplomatic alliances (1 Samuel 16:21 and 1 Kings 5:1). In fact, this type of covenant (Hebrew word beriyth) was also used between God and Abraham (Genesis 15:18), as well as between God and Moses (Exodus 24:7-8; 34:27; Deuteronomy 5:2) and means a treaty, alliance, pledge, or agreement. If we dive deeper into their story, we learn that within the lines of their agreement, Jonathan would be second in command in David’s future reign (1 Samuel 23:16-18) and David was to protect Jonathan’s family (1 Samuel 20:14-16).

The Message writes their friendship beautifully as it shares in 18:1 that:

By the time David had finished reporting to Saul, Jonathan was deeply impressed with David—an immediate bond was forged between them. He became totally committed to David. From that point on he would be David’s number-one advocate and friend.

We will continue to see three amazing traits of their friendship through these next weeks:

Loyalty, sacrifice, empathy, sacrifice, and simply being emotionally present for one another.

Characteristics of friendship that we too, should emulate!

Verse 4 tells us that:

And Jonathan stripped himself of the robe that was on him and gave it to David, and his armor, and even his sword and his bow and his belt.

Can you imagine what kind of person Jonathan must have been? The significance of this gift to David was that he recognized the shepherd turned soldier would one day be king over Israel. This was to be his title. His future. But jealousy did not rear its ugly head in the prince, like it did the king.

Jonathan walked so closely with God that he knew his father’s mistakes cut off the family line to the throne…and yet we see no anger. No sadness or attempts to persuade God from the decision He’d already made.

I’m thinking about all the times I try and persuade God from His plans, as if I know better. And as much as I’d like to deny it, sometimes my eyes do grow green with envy as I hear about a friend’s book being published or house being remodeled.

Jonathan should have been king. He was a good man, didn’t make the same mistakes of his father or have Saul’s heart. And yet God’s plan for Jonathan’s life wouldn’t include his own crown, but rather being friendship and support for the man who would.

Sit and think of something you want so badly. And then think of your best friend living it instead. Would you be the kind of friend who would support her and throw confetti with a genuinely happy-for-her heart? Could you do it? How do you get to the point where you rally around a friend who has everything you thought was yours? Perhaps a marriage, a pregnancy, the job of your dreams.

We need to get to the point of trusting Christ enough to embrace the idea that He knows what He’s doing. Our plans and dreams may be good….but His plan is perfect. Sometimes they don’t make sense to us, but just because it doesn’t make sense to our mortal eyes, does that mean it’s not right? We know God does not make mistakes. He’s not about to start with your life.

Spend some time in silence this week as you drive your car or do the dishes. Take away the noise and distraction for a bit so you can be wholly listening to God’s quiet voice. Pray to Him, search His heart as you release your expectations, dreams, and plans to Him. Live with open hands, giving it back to the Father who created you. He will most certainly show you what calling and assignment He’s birthed you for. Because if we have but one life….don’t we want the one He has placed us on this earth for?

Queen Esther’s uncle encouraged the young woman that she was born for such a time as this (Esther 4:14). An ordinary girl, turned queen that saved her people from death. We may feel ordinary, but because we have God within us, we are far from typical and average. We too are born for such a time as this. We just need to figure out what the this is.

Pray that He shows you.


Don't forget to head to The Library to print out your Study Guide to use for your personal Quiet Time (you must subscribe to the blog via email to receive the password).

I can't wait to continue on next week!

Take Joy,

Teresa

Study: 1 Samuel 17 (Week 8) David + Goliath...not the underdog story we were taught

If you're just joining us...head here for the intro and here for weeks 123, 456, and 7.

And don't forget that about the printable Study Guide so you can continue delving deeper in your personal Quiet Time! To access each week's guide in The Library, make sure to sign up to the blog via email so you have the password!

READY TO DIVE INTO WEEK 8?

I absolutely love all the dramatic description in the story of young David defeating the nine-foot-tall soldier named Goliath. I just eat up every morel of minutia and detail in what this oversized champion wore, how much it weighed, and what it was forged from. I love knowing that his coat of chainmail weighed five thousand shekels of bronze, which is about 126 pounds (or 57 kg).

Think of that! That’s what my high school son weighs...and that's simply his chain mail? This man must’ve been massive!!

2 Samuel 21:15-21 mentions other men with extremely tall stature, also rising from Gath. Not only is their height something to take note from, but they also had six fingers and six toes. There was likely a genetic disorder that caused gigantism through families in this area. If there was such a disorder among these men, they would likely also had a bone deficiency, which would explain the ease with which David’s stone penetrated the man’s skull (as mentioned here).

If I’m going too fast and need a refresher on the story, head here to read it in the ESV and here for The Message.

The basis though, is this:

Israel and the Philistines are headed to battle, yet again. Each group of adversaries shroud the hillside, lined up on two ridges facing one another with nothing but a valley between them. Sounds straight out of a movie, doesn’t it? Jonathan and his armor bearer pushed the forces back when they fought these soldiers at Micmash in chapter 14, but that accomplishment was a far cry from actually defeating their foe.

For whatever reason, it seems that the two militaries had reached an impasse or standoff, each unwilling to make the next move. Thundering out from among the lineup of fellow-soldiers, however Goliath, champion of the Philistines, begins challenging the Israelites to send their own champion out to decide the war’s outcome in a single, one-on-one type combat. A duel, of sorts.

These battles differed from the duels we see in Cowboy stories today though, because the ramifications didn’t merely effect the one ‘slower to the draw’, but rather the whole army or even entire nations. The strongest one one either side would fight to the death, absolving the winning side from further fight.

The losing side would become slaves, serving their enemies.

For forty days the Philistine came forward every morning and evening and took his stand (17:16). Saul may have been head and shoulders taller (9:2) than anyone in the land, but this giant frightened not only him, but every man in their military. They didn’t retreat. They didn’t surrender. Instead, they held fast. Nothing was done. No one dared move into position, and confront this monstrous man, for there didn’t seem any way to win.

And not winning didn't just mean defeat. Like we talked about earlier, it put everyone into slavery.

Until one day when David came to camp, bringing supplies sent from his father.

David said to the men who stood by him, “What shall be done for the man who kills this Philistine and takes away the reproach from Israel? For who is this uncircumcised Philistine, that he should defy the armies of the living God?” (1 Samuel 17:26)

When Eliab, David’s oldest brother heard him speaking with the men, verse 28 says, “he burned with anger”. What’s gotten his pants in a twist, you think? Is he jealous that his younger brother was chosen over him when Samuel came for the anointing? Was he just too cool for school (you know the type)? Or did he simply dislike his baby brother?

The Bible doesn’t go into it, but I’m thinking perhaps a mixture of it all. We know Eliab was handsome and if you glanced over a room for someone dynamic and extraordinary, your eyes would probably rest upon him. He looked the part. Like God reminded Samuel in chapter 16 however, God looks at the heart, not one’s outward appearance.

As David continued conversing with the Israel army, it sounds almost as if he was trying to rally their spirits as he encouraged their boldness and bravery with the fact that they were “the army of the living God!” (17:26) In my mind’s eye, he’s standing there with his hand raised above his head, waiting for a massive high-five.

I can see him smiling from ear to ear, face flushed the color of his hair from excitement, waiting with his hand still raised, looking around for someone to come alongside him with an enthusiastic cry of agreement. Instead though, his big brother comes over with smoke coming out of his ears.

Why have you come down here? Who is watching your tiny flock in the wilderness? I’m your brother, and I know you—you’re arrogant, and your heart is evil. You’ve come to watch the battle as if it were just entertainment. (17:28)

“Now what have I done?” said David, rolling his eyes (Ok I totally added the eye part). “Can’t I even speak?” (17:29)

David ignored him and asked another soldier the same question, and the people gave him the same answer. His brother may have not thought much of him, but others definitely heeded his encouragement because as the news of David’s valiant words reached King Saul, he sent for the boy.

One of my favorite verses in the New Testament is Acts 4:13:

Now when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, and perceived that they were uneducated, common men, they were astonished. And they recognized that they had been with Jesus.

These seasoned warriors saw something in David. They thought his words were worth noting, though not even his brothers stood beside him. And even through his family growing angry with what he said, David spoke up anyway. He stood his ground.

David knew that soldier was huge…but His God was bigger.

The young man was filled with the Holy Spirit and others may not have been able to put their finger on why they were drawn to him, but it was for this very reason. Like Peter and John, generations later, people recognized something unique and different, maybe even holy. David was a shepherd boy who had the courage and fortitude to go out and fight a man not even the most gallant and heroic Israelite combatant would go and fight. Why? Because He trusted God before all.

No one really knows how old David was during this story, but most agree that he was likely around 15 years old. You’ll notice when he comes before Saul, the king doesn’t say anything about being too short or too skinny or too small in stature. He instead tells David,

“You are not able to go against this Philistine to fight with him, for you are but a youth, and he has been a man of war from his youth.” (1 Samuel 17:33)

The word youth here is the Hebrew term na’uwr which means a child or person of youth. It’s probably why he wasn’t fighting alongside his brothers already, he wasn’t old enough! Saul is less concerned about his size, but rather wary of the fact that he is simply a kid lacking in age and experience.

Just like Samuel responded to God's calling as a child, so would David.

I shared this verse early on in our study, but it's a perfect fit for this story, too: 

Don’t let anyone belittle you because you are young. Instead, show the faithful, young and old, an example of how to live: set the standard for how to talk, act, love, and be faithful and pure. (1 Timothy 4:12)

David immediately thought of occasions where God had shown Himself through the boy. With these situations, David's faith grew. He knew that while being faced with impossible situations, God would always stand beside him and help him though. He may have been young...but even a youth can change the trajectory of something.

But David said to Saul, “Your servant used to keep sheep for his father. And when there came a lion, or a bear, and took a lamb from the flock, I went after him and struck him and delivered it out of his mouth.

And if he arose against me, I caught him by his beard and struck him and killed him. Your servant has struck down both lions and bears, and this uncircumcised Philistine shall be like one of them, for he has defied the armies of the living God.”  

And David said, “The Lord who delivered me from the paw of the lion and from the paw of the bear will deliver me from the hand of this Philistine.”

And Saul said to David, “Go, and the Lord be with you!”

(1 Samuel 17:34-37)

Knowing David had already slew both a lion and a bear likely boggled Saul’s mind as he thought, “Who is this kid?!” After pondering whether David’s confidence was stupidity or unmitigated bravery, he agreed to the arrangement.

If David truly is 15 years old here, I’m curious how old he was when killing the bear and the lion. Was he 11? 13? Think of your own children or siblings, or even think of yourself when you were a young teen. He is brave, yes. But in the moment of coming face to face with a wild animal, think of the sheer terror.

What have we been massively afraid of and yet stepped into?

What has come into our paths that seemed too big to fight or conquer?

Maybe some family issues or something with a friend.

Maybe cancer is your bear or the loss of a job is your lion.

Maybe someone betrayed you or God placed a calling upon your heart that seems too big.

What’s your lion and your bear?

Those experiences helped prepare David for this moment before Goliath. He knew the Lord had shown up before and He would show up again.

How often do we waver in our trust in Him? We say we have faith and confidence in Him but would we really go out there and face it with nothing but five smooth pebbles and a slingshot? (17:39-40)

As David stepped out before the taunting giant, the young shepherd said this:

You come to me carrying a sword and spear and javelin as your weapons, but I come armed with the name of the Eternal One, the Commander of heavenly armies, the True God of the armies of Israel, the One you have insulted.

This very day, the Eternal One will give you into my hands. I will strike you down and cut off your head, and I will feed the birds of the air and the wild animals of the fields with the flesh of your Philistine warriors. Then all the land will know the True God is with Israel, and all of those gathered here will know that the Eternal One does not save by sword and spear.

The battle is the Eternal One’s, and He will give you into our hands. (1 Samuel 17:45-47)

I wonder if the Israelite army did silent fist pumps or forgot to breathe. I'm curious if they were loud in their encouragement and support of David or if you could've heard a pin drop.

The boy slung a rock from his slingshot and the stone hit Goliath square in the forehead and sunk into his skull. As the towering man fell, dust cloud rising from around his felled body, David ran to him, killed the man with his own sword and cut off his head. (1 Samuel 17:50-54)

And the Philistine army fled.

Welcome David, to the rest of your life. Saul was so impressed, he asked that the boy remain with him in his service, leaving the life of Shepherd behind.

I'd love to know what hard things God has allowed you to go through for a purpose. Because He's building you into for a special person for a particular position or calling. 


Don't forget to head to The Library to print out your Study Guide to use for your personal Quiet Time (you must subscribe to the blog via email to receive the password).

I can't wait to continue on next week!

Take Joy,

Teresa

Study: 1 Samuel 15-16 (Week 7) . How to trust God + not go ahead of Him

If you're just joining us...head here for the intro and here for weeks 123, 4, 5, and 6.

And don't forget that about the printable Study Guide so you can continue delving deeper in your personal Quiet Time! To access each week's guide in The Library, make sure to sign up to the blog via email so you have the password!

READY TO DIVE INTO WEEK 7?

Ben and I were talking to one of our kids last night about trust. He wanted responsibility in something and yet was asking that we put boundaries on something else that he knew he couldn’t be trusted with. We told him responsibility and trust went hand in hand and that we could either treat him like the young adult that he is…or we could treat him as a child.

We wanted to teach him that he couldn’t pick and choose where he liked having freedom and responsibility...and where he didn’t. It was a package deal.

We learn in 1 Samuel 15 that like our teenaged son, Saul thought he could pick and choose where he wanted to obey God. Samuel comes to him in verse one with the reminder that:

The Lord sent me to anoint you king over his people Israel; now therefore listen to the words of the Lord... (1 Samuel 15:1)

Perhaps since Saul did the sacrifices himself instead of waiting for Samuel (in chapter 13), the priest didn’t trust him. Perhaps he wanted to remind the king that it was God that placed him in this position of leadership and it was the One True King in Heaven who gave orders and was actually in charge.

Samuel goes on to instruct: Thus says the Lord of hosts, ‘I have noted what Amalek did to Israel in opposing them on the way when they came up out of Egypt. Now go and strike Amalek and devote to destruction all that they have. Do not spare them, but kill both man and woman, child and infant, ox and sheep, camel and donkey.’ (1 Samuel 15:2-3)

Does Saul do what he’s asked?? Nope.

Samuel goes to meet Saul early in the morning and was told (15:12-13) that he had gone to another town to set up a monument in his own honor (Who does that?! C'mon, Saul). When Samuel reaches the town of Carmel, the king comes out to greet him saying, “The Lord bless you! I have carried out the Lord’s instructions!”

I can just see this playing out, can’t you? Saul dressed in splendor, maybe dripping in gold, arms outstretched to the priest as he walks nearer, ready to kiss Samuel on both cheeks. A man simply pleased with himself. I love how Samuel responds with dry sarcasm basically saying, “Oh yeah? Then what’s this bleating of sheep in my ears? Why am I hearing lowing of oxen?” (15:14)

I love how The Message translates this next section (15:15-21):

“Only some Amalekite loot,” said Saul. “The soldiers saved back a few of the choice cattle and sheep to offer up in sacrifice to God. But everything else we destroyed under the holy ban.”

“Enough!” interrupted Samuel. “Let me tell you what God told me last night.”

Saul said, “Go ahead. Tell me.”

And Samuel told him. “When you started out in this, you were nothing—and you knew it. Then God put you at the head of Israel—made you king over Israel. Then God sent you off to do a job for him, ordering you, ‘Go and put those sinners, the Amalekites, under a holy ban. Go to war against them until you have totally wiped them out.’

So why did you not obey God? Why did you grab all this loot? Why, with God’s eyes on you all the time, did you brazenly carry out this evil?”

Saul defended himself. “What are you talking about? I did obey God. I did the job God set for me. I brought in King Agag and destroyed the Amalekites under the terms of the holy ban. So the soldiers saved back a few choice sheep and cattle from the holy ban for sacrifice to God at Gilgal—what’s wrong with that?” 

Verses 22-23 have long been underlined in my Bible. They are a reminder to us that we absolutely cannot go ahead of God on things. We may not pick and choose where we will obey, where we can be trustworthy and where we simply decide we can sweep things under the rug or ignore.

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 listen than the fat of rams.

In other words, does God want our sacrifices and empty traditions that we do simply for show? Or purely because you think we’re supposed to do it?? Where are our hearts?

Doing something for the Lord is actually worth nothing if it’s done purely out of habit, rather than love. What God wants is an obedient and willing heart! God’s desire is for us to listen and respond in accordance to what He’s asked.

To obey is better than sacrifice.

What have you sacrificed in your life that you think might justify not obeying in another area? God would far rather you obey than give something up.

Of course as Samuel tells Saul that God is ripping the kingdom from his hands and giving it to another man who is better than he (15:28), Saul apologizes for his actions. Like any man or woman today who might abuse power and get caught, remorse and regret slither out of their mouths. But it’s often empty and solely spoken to regain power, not because they are actually sorry from the depths of their soul.

And so establishes the beginning of the end of Saul’s reign...and the anointing of the new king.

Waiting after a calling is given

I love that chapter 16 begins with God asking Samuel how long he will mourn for Saul. Samuel may not be a big fan of the self-centered leader, but is likely devastated that he has turned away from the Lord. There was so much greatness in the man. So much potential for an incredible legacy. But no, his legacy will not be one of valor and right-living. Not only will his kingdom never be in the hands of his children, but it’s being ripped from his very hands, as well. “What a waste”, Samuel may have thought as he mourned.

But as we know, God has a “man after His own heart” to anoint and asks Samuel to fill his horn with oil (for the anointing) and asks him to be on his way. Most of us who have been to church for awhile, know the story well.

We don’t know how much time has gone by since Samuel’s conversation with Saul about God tearing the kingdom from his hands, but there must have been time enough for Saul to begin sending spies around to keep an eye on Samuel.

Perhaps this shows the beginning of Saul's increasingly erratic behavior, but in 16:2, Samuel tells God he is worried that Saul will hear about the anointing and have him killed. So, armed with the excuse of sacrificing in Bethlehem, he arrived to town with an invitation to Jesse and his sons, that they might join him.

When they arrived and Samuel saw Eliab, he thought, “Here he is! God’s anointed!” But God stopped the priest saying in verse 6, “Do not look on his appearance or on the height of his stature, because I have rejected him. For the Lord sees not as man sees: man looks on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart.”

We’ve talked about this in Week 3 when we learned about how handsome Saul was. It is true that God didn’t select Saul because of his handsome face and tall frame, but the character of his heart, and God wants Samuel to remember that here. A very beautiful person on the outside can be extremely ugly within.

Jesse called each son to pass in front of Samuel, but God continued to impress a “No” on his spirit each time. After all seven men passed before him, Samuel asked, “Are these all the sons you have?”

Each time I hear this portion of the story, I think of Cinderella.

The prince goes all across the kingdom trying to fit the glass slipper upon the foot of the girl he met at the ball and finally reaches the very last house. You know the story, I realize…but after both stepsisters and stepmother fail to slide their feet into the shoe, the devastated and confused prince inquires if there’s anyone else who lives at the house.

These ladies didn’t fit the shoe because they were unfit for the position before them. They were the wrong woman for the prince and for the role as princess of their kingdom…just like these seven brothers were unfit to lead the nation of Israel in the way God required and desired.

Like Saul, David is chosen not for achievements or position, but on his potential and for his heart.

 Though king Saul will remain on the throne until 2 Samuel 2, this is where the story gives an about-face, the focus shifting off Saul and onto young David.

So here he comes. The youngest of eight sons, his red hair likely a tousled mess, unbathed from living out of doors with his sheep, and looking nothing like royalty. And yet as David entered and Samuel looked into his beautiful eyes, the old priest heard the Lord’s voice commanding him to, “Rise and anoint him, for he is the one.” (16:12) So Samuel took the horn of oil and anointed him in the presence of his brothers and from that day on, the Spirit of the Lord came upon David in power. (16:13)

Though the writer of 1 Samuel shares with us, the reader, the purpose of David’s anointing…there’s no evidence that David and his family had any idea. The anointing itself showed the family that God was calling the boy to serve in a special way, but there’s no indication that they knew any specifics.

God can be frustrating in that way, can’t He? How often do we feel God’s prompting in something and then…silence?

How often does He give us a calling or a glimpse into where we feel He’s leading and then…nothing?

I wonder if David thought of his forefather Abraham having to wait 25 years from when God first told him about having offspring and when Isaac was born.

Lift up your eyes and look from the place where you are, northward and southward and eastward and westward, for all the land that you see I will give to you and to your offspring forever. I will make your offspring as the dust of the earth, so that if one can count the dust of the earth, your offspring also can be counted. Arise, walk through the length and the breadth of the land, for I will give it to you. (Genesis 13:14-17)

It’s frustrating and lonely feeling like God walked away in the middle of doling out a future infused with His blessing. But He didn’t walk away from Abraham, and He certainly didn’t walk away from David, either.

A person is rarely ready to walk in their calling the moment they know it's where God is leading.

There needs to be preparation before a calling can be fulfilled.

1 Samuel 16:14 tells us that when the Spirit of the Lord departed from Saul, an evil spirit tormented him. The king’s servants decided that having someone play the harp for Saul was sure to calm him and with Saul’s permission, they set out to find David who was known as skillful in playing, a man of valor, a man of war, prudent in speech, and a man of good presence, and the Lord is with him. (1 Samuel 16:18)

After messengers were sent to David’s father Jesse, David came to Saul and entered his service. And it is said that Saul not only liked him greatly, but also made him his armor-bearer.

I want to stop here for a minute. David became Saul’s armor bearer. Do you know what this means? Remember last week in chapter 14, when Jonathan and his armor bearer went by themselves to the cliffs by the Philistine outpost? The two slay twenty soldiers before the rest of the army realized what was going on.

The armor bearer was basically an agent selected by generals and kings because of their bravery. They would not only bear their armor and auxiliary weaponry, but also stand by them in times of danger. As time went on, David learned more and more about the art of war. He was basically a fly on the wall while generals spoke with the king about strategy and theory of battle. He saw hard decisions made. He witnessed successes and failures. David was in training for when he would someday take Saul’s place…yet no one realized it.

As mentioned earlier, David was anointed…but there’s no evidence that tells us he knew what the anointing was for. He just knew he was set apart for something special. For over a decade David would wait to be crowned king. But for now, he waited and obeyed while in the positions he held. God hadn’t given him an assignment and then stepped away. God had not given him a glimpse of his future and then chuckled as he struggled in his wait.

No! Neither of these! God was at work!

David was learning how to do his assignment well, without realizing the the instruction was even taking place. This time with King Saul would help him learn how to lead a nation. You can’t get much closer to the king than being his armor bearer!

If you’re frustrated that your calling is taking longer than it should, consider the fact that God is using your current surroundings and situations for a purpose! Don’t doubt that God will use things that seem random, for His Divine Plan.

He did it for David, and He'll do it for you.


Don't forget to head to The Library to print out your Study Guide to use for your personal Quiet Time (you must subscribe to the blog via email to receive the password).

I can't wait to continue on next week!

TAKE JOY,

TERESA

 

Study: 1 Samuel 13-14 (Week 6) . We are not alone in our wait

If you're just joining us...head here for the intro and here for weeks 123, 4, and 5.

And don't forget that about the printable Study Guide so you can continue delving deeper in your personal Quiet Time! To access each week's guide in The Library, make sure to sign up to the blog via email so you have the password!

READY TO DIVE INTO WEEK 6?

I never liked King Saul. Every story I’ve heard or read about him since being a child in Sunday School made the man out to be evil, distrustful, and arrogant. And yet these past few weeks, as we learned about the beginning of his story, and about his great character. He wasn’t always so villainous. Remember when Saul’s father asked him to find the missing donkeys and he brought along his servant, who was obviously much more than an employee? This young man was Saul’s helper, his confidant, his companion. He valued the man’s thoughts and suggestions.

In Week 3, you’ll remember that we delved deeper into the below verse and realized Saul being referenced to as handsome, didn’t simply mean he was easy on the eyes. We know that’s not why God would have chosen him to lead the Israelites:

“There was not a man among the people of Israel more handsome than he. From his shoulders upward, he was taller any of the people.” (1 Samuel 9:1-2)

As you’ll recall, we learned that the word handsome is towb in Hebrew, and means much more than simply someone physically nice to look at.

The word also translates to mean: a good thing, morally good, upright, kind. The description continues, saying:

also as an adverb (well) – beautiful, best, better, bountiful, cheerful, at ease, fair…gracious, joyful, kindness, loving, merry, most pleasant, prosperity, ready, sweet, wealth, welfare, well-favored.

So…Saul sounds way more substantial than just a pretty face, don’t you think?

I think we sometimes forget that GOD CHOSE this guy. He wasn’t twiddling His thumbs until David was located to be his successor, He didn’t make a mistake, He didn’t choose Saul at random.

Saul is us. A perfectly imperfect person.

A man chosen for the job because of qualities and character that was pleasing to the Lord…and yet still one who made mistakes.

Last week, we learned that Samuel encouraged the Israelites in 12:24 to:

Only fear the Lord and serve him faithfully with all your heart. For consider what great things he has done for you. 

And then proceeds to share a warning in the very next verse (12:25):

But if you still do wickedly, you shall be swept away, both you and your king.

Chapter 13 begins by telling us that Saul was thirty when he became king and reigned over Israel forty-two years. He may have been a good king, a great, kind and fair man for a good number of years. But after reading 13:3-15, we learn that he made a vital mistake. One that would not be undone.

GOING AHEAD OF GOD

(INSTEAD OF TRUSTING HE KNOWS WHAT HE’S DOING)

A battle was brewing and in Saul's impatience, he didn’t wait for Samuel as instructed. Maybe it was fear, maybe it was overconfidence, but whichever way the pendulum swung, it was disastrous for his future. Philistines were assembling to fight Israel. Three thousand chariots, six thousand charioteers, and soldiers as numerous as the sand on the seashore (13:5) caused the Hebrew army to hide in cisterns and caves and in thickets. Some wanting to get even further away, crossed the Jordan and into another nation’s land (13:6-7).

While his troops scattered, Saul remained at Gilgal, vigilant and waiting for Samuel to arrive to bless them and carry out the sacrifice. For seven days he waited. He knew he was waiting this long. He knew Samuel would arrive on the seventh day…and yet, what did he do? Day seven, he grew tired in the wait and took things into his own hands, burning the offerings himself.

Verse 10 tells us, just as he finished making the offering, Samuel arrived, and Saul went out to greet him.

Saul…the same guy who was so scared of the idea of becoming king, went hiding in a pile of luggage during the announcement of his anointing. The Bible doesn’t say this, but I feel like if Saul went right on out to meet Samuel, he had no remorse for his actions. He felt justified. He was no longer that nervous, intimidated man, but instead an overconfident ruler who was tired of waiting for Samuel and God to show up to battle. He seems to have evolved over the years into a man who thought himself above the law, or perhaps on-par with Samuel. We don’t know earlier details, but I’m imagining it was simply a slippery slope through the years and he eventually became a leader who decided was merited to do things himself.

Saul’s conversation with Samuel (13:11-13) sheds light on the king’s view of the situation: he was justified because Samuel was late. But was Samuel even tardy? Verse 8 says Samuel set the time of seven days, but doesn’t seem to have mentioned a certain hour so the mistake is Saul’s not his mentor’s.

How often have we done this?

We’re tired of waiting for God so we go out and do things ourselves.

Abraham did this when he agreed with Sarah’s idea of sleeping with her servant to produce an heir (Genesis 16:2). I can’t even begin to wrap my mind around doing something as drastic as Sarah and Abraham, but when we feel like God is silent after promising He’d show up, we do crazy things. We justify things.

We’ve all done it. We’ve all gotten ahead of God’s plans. And we’ve messed things up.

I almost got engaged to a guy who was truly rotten. You know the type: a “nice Christian guy”, who wasn’t actually all that nice. The reality is he was most certainly not someone who would have been a good husband to me, wouldn’t have been the best for me. Would certainly not been the man God wanted to place me with.

If I had continued on, I’d have missed out on my incredible groom. My best friend, my helpmate, the lifter of my heart. I can guarantee we wouldn’t have the amazing home full of children of many colors. Life would look very different.

Not that He can’t redeem things that are done outside of His will or outside His best…but they’re quite simply just that: Not. His. Best. He most certainly can.

Let me say that again: God can absolutely redeem things that are done outside His best for us, if we open our hands and hearts, and let Him.

Psalm 27:14 says,

Wait for the Lord;
    be strong, and let your heart take courage;
    wait for the Lord!

It doesn’t say, “Wait on the Lord; it’s easy.”

It says, be strong! Let your heart take courage!

In Hebrew, the word “strong” is chazaq (sounds like kha-zak) and means to prevail, be firm, and be secure.

Take courage is ‘amats and can be translated as strong, brave, bold, determined, and persistent.

Each of these things takes intentionality and trust. Saul obviously didn’t trust that even when things begun to look bleak, their Heavenly Father would come through for them. He had forgotten the True King was capable of miracles like the one he did in 1 Samuel 7 when the Israelites fought the Philistines and God threw them into a panic and were easily defeated (1 Samuel 7:7-13).

We are not alone in our wait. We are not on our own. God will never give us direction and then walk away, forcing us to figure out the when, the how, and all the little details for it to reach fruition.

If He seems late, like Samuel seemed to Saul…just wait. Think of the last direction from Christ you received, the last prompting, the last promise placed into your heart…and stay there. Continue on in that place until you hear more.

God may be wanting to see how much you trust Him, He may be wanting to do a miracle that didn’t seem possible. He may be working behind the scenes in a way you can’t even imagine, and going ahead with “your plans” because God seems absent, will only mess up that perfect thing He’s creating.

A friend was interviewing recently for a position at MOPS (Mothers of Preschoolers) Corporate. It was a great sounding part-time position that she would have been comfortable in. She prayed about the decision a ton. We all prayed about it a ton, though there was no doubt in any of our minds she’d get it. It was perfect for her and she was more than qualified.

But she didn’t get the job. She was devastated. And we were all confused.

A few weeks later, as she was still trying to make sense of what happened, they approached her with an even more exciting and huge opportunity. It’s a position I don’t think she ever would have put her name in the hat for. It’s a big jump. An impressive and intriguing position that stirs her heart with astonishment in a dangerous “this is crazy, but I trust You” kind of way.

Had she given up, she’d never have been able to say yes to that job. If she had acted in a way any less than grace-filled, God’s best would never have been presented to her. She would have spoiled it before knowing it was even an option.

When Joshua told the priests to begin walking into the Red Sea as they were about to overtake Jericho, they were stepping into rushing waters that were a mile wide. It made no sense that they would begin walking out with the ark of the covenant on their shoulders. But they trusted Joshua and they trusted their King. As their sandals dampened from their first steps, the waters parted.

I love how The Voice translates it:

At your command, the priests will carry the covenant chest into the edge of the Jordan water and they are to stand there in the Jordan, waiting. (Joshua 3:8)

They had to step out in faith...

And wait for God to move, trusting that He would.

Trust is not something Saul did here. Even after going ahead with his plans, and being confronted with his disobedience, Saul didn’t apologize. He only justified his actions, placing blame on Samuel for what had been done.

A leader is no longer good when he cannot take responsibility for his own actions. Saul (and any influencer) who wants to lead well, cannot exercise power he or she has not been given. Samuel shares in 13:13-14 that God would have established Saul’s kingdom over Israel for all time. But because of his disobedience, his kingdom would not endure.

I’m sure Samuel’s heart grew sad as he broke the news that was felt first with Eli, then himself…and now with Saul. Three leaders in a row would have their children’s reign ripped from them because of their own mistakes.

ACTIVE VS. INACTIVE FAITH

Saul’s faith in God was obviously shaky at this point and finding out about the fate of his royal lineage being shortened to him alone, seemed to have made his walk with the True King even more precarious.

He could have gone one of two ways…and the path Saul took was not one of forgiveness. 14:2 tells us Saul was in the outskirts of Gibeah, which means he retreated from Gilgal, likely rattled by Samuel’s words.

Sitting under a pomegranate tree (14:2), Saul had begun taking counsel from Eli’s grandson, who was also a priest (which shows that even when a lineage is cut short, it doesn’t mean God won’t still use people and allow ministries to emerge). We don’t know if Saul is resting, sulking, licking his wounds, or what. Likely though, he wasn’t sitting under the shade of the tree, devising any sort of military strategy because Jonathan was one of his prominent troop leaders and yet no one noticed when he and his armor-bearer left camp (14:3).

“Come, let’s go over to the Philistine outpost on the other side”, Jonathan suggests to the man bearing his armor. Not telling his father (14:1), they snuck away.

Jonathan may have been annoyed or tired of his father’s inactivity. He maybe wanted to show Saul that things weren’t over yet, or remind him that they shouldn’t stop fighting.

Or perhaps he wanted to show God that he was different than his father. Maybe he wanted to put his toe in the water and stand there waiting for it to part.

Maybe he simply wanted to demonstrate trust.

The area Jonathan and his armor bearer were venturing to was known to be very dangerous. Cliffs rose high on either side of them, caves and other places to hide and ambush riddled the surface above the men’s heads.

Jonathan wasn’t positive that God would use him to save his people, but he had no doubt that God could use him.

1 Samuel 14:6-15:

Jonathan (to his armor-bearer): 6 Come on! Let’s cross over to this force of Philistines, these uncircumcised, these idol-worshipers. Maybe the Eternal One will fight for us. If He wants to save us, then no force is too big or too small.

Armor-bearer: 7 Do whatever you think is right, and I will follow you. My decision will be your decision.

Jonathan: 8 Now we will approach the Philistines and let them see us. 9 If they say, “Wait there. We are coming to you,” then we will stay where we are, and we will not advance. 10 But if they say, “Come here,” then we will go to them, and that will be the sign that the Eternal has given us power over them.

11 So they let the Philistines see them, and the Philistine soldiers ridiculed them.

Soldiers: Look! There are some Hebrews climbing out of the holes where they’ve been hiding!

12 They signaled to Jonathan and his armor-bearer.

Soldiers: Come here, you two! Come here, and we’ll show you something!

Note: the philistines don’t believe any one could climb up to them.

Jonathan (to the armor-bearer): Follow me! The Eternal One has assured victory for Israel.

13 Jonathan scrambled up the steep incline on his hands and feet to the Philistine soldiers, his armor-bearer right behind. When he appeared before the Philistines, they fell before him, and he and his armor-bearer killed them right and left. 14 In that first assault, Jonathan and his armor-bearer killed about 20 men within an area of about a half-acre. 15 When the news of this slaughter spread, it caused trembling in the Philistine camp, among the soldiers in the field, even among the whole nation. The garrison of troops was confused and afraid, and the raiding parties who had terrorized Israel trembled. Soon the earth itself quaked, and an awesome trembling abounded.

How are you stepping out in faith? What crazy thing has Christ placed on your heart and like Jonathan…we each need to come to the point where we can tell those around us,

“I have this passion flaming up inside of me that could only be from the Lord. And I’m going to go for it. I’m going to jump up and go out there and know that God can fight for me. If he wants to use me, no force is too big or too small.”

This reminds me of my parents. We moved to Guatemala and lived there when I was in 6-8th grades. They walked out on a crazy path because they felt God prompting them to. It was just us. They didn’t move out with 5,000 other people to start a massive revitalization of their economy or revival within their communities. Like Jonathan and his armor bearer, they went out small. But they trusted big.

The dreams and purpose put into the hearts of my parents would only make a small impact on the crisis of poverty and unemployment rate worldwide, sure. Does that mean they were not doing enough? No! Every single person touched by love and care will be changed as they see Jesus in and through each of us.

We know only too well that what we are doing is nothing more than a drop in the ocean. But if the drop were not there, the ocean would be missing something. (Mother Teresa)

My parents were like a single candle in a dark room. Their love of Christ lit the wick of every person they touched, and as new wicks ignited, they in turn brought light to those around them: friends, family, communities. Only God knows how bright and shimmering the light in that room now radiates!

Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. (Matthew 5:15)

What drop of water in the ocean will you be? How will your single candle catch the wicks of others one by one by one?

God can take our faith and multiply the effects in ways that simply don’t make sense to our human minds.

The description of the next scene glows vividly as Jonathan comes upon a honeycomb simply oozing with golden nectar. The sticky goodness dripping down his arm and onto the ground from an overly-full hand of sweetness, Jonathan eats the treat while his companions look on, wiping drool off from their own chins and wide-eyed that the prince (unknowingly) went against his father’s wishes.

Before heading out for battle (the battle of which Jonathan was already fighting in), Saul addressed the army with a ridiculous oath: “Cursed be the man who eats food until it is evening and I am avenged on my enemies.” So none of the people had tasted food. (1 Samuel 14:24)

Saul understood that fasting was a way of indicating commitment to God and he perhaps he thought it was a way to cajole God into granting him favor again and grant victory. Fasting though, is not intended to be used in times of battle, but rather for moments of refection and refuge. And certainly can’t be used to strong-arm God into gaining assistance!

It’s interesting though, that though the oath was asinine, not a single soldier went against his command. Was it because they were superstitious and scared of the curse? Or did they respect Saul’s leadership so much, they’d do anything he asked? I wonder.

Though Jonathan had not been present at the time the oath was given, he shows no sign of remorse after they announce to him the mandate from the king. His father may have considered fasting as a way to convince God they were with Him, but Jonathan saw eating the food before him as nourishment and blessing to strengthen the body for battle. It was something that would allow them to fight more effectively.

It seems to me that Jonathan believed giving the men food would be a far better and more compelling reason for God to come alongside them and be their help in this time of adversity!

Though Psalm 46:1-3 was written in reference to a completely separate incident, it is just so fitting here:

God is a safe place to hide,
    ready to help when we need him.
We stand fearless at the cliff-edge of doom,
    courageous in seastorm and earthquake,
Before the rush and roar of oceans,
    the tremors that shift mountains.

Jonathan knew God was their ever-present help. But he also knew they needed to be prepared themselves. If they were stronger, bellies full and bodies nourished, their troops would be stronger and able to dive the Philistines back even further than they could with famished frames.

He knew that though God can and will work through individuals...

we still need to play our part in preparing ourselves to carry out His will.

The writer of 1 Samuel tells this story in such a way that provokes us to strongly conclude that it's Jonathan...not Saul, who has a great understanding of what God requires of us. Both for them as leaders, and simply as men trusting the goodness of the True King and God.


Don't forget to head to The Library to print out your Study Guide to use for your personal Quiet Time (you must subscribe to the blog via email to receive the password). 

You'll be able to delve deeper and learn what happens when the sun goes down how the men sin after Saul's curse is lifted, and what happens when Saul finds out that his very own son didn't adhere to the fasting. Will he really put Jonathan to death??

I can't wait to continue on next week!

Take Joy,

Teresa