1 Samuel 28
The most often given command in the Bible is some version of “Fear not” or “Do not be afraid.” The narrative of Saul’s life as King over Israel is a tragic portrayal of what living in fear can do to a person. At every key point; every moment of crisis; every point of struggle and adversity; Saul seems to respond in fear and act out of fear. And each time he does, he distances himself from God, distances himself from people, and distances himself from his own desired outcomes.
God calls us to a life of faith, trust in him and dependency upon him, in 1 Samuel 28, as in much of this whole book, Saul refuses to trust God and tries to take control over his situation. Rather than depend on God, he reacts in direct defiance of God.
- What are you afraid of, anxious about, worried about or concerned about right now?
- What is your natural instinct in how to respond?
- If you had faith in the goodness and grace of God, how would you respond?
- What would you do if you really believed God and took God at his word?
1 Samuel 29
We know that David foreshadows Jesus in many different ways and that’s evident again in this text. There’s this strange scenario in which David finds himself positioned with the Philistines, ready to go into battle against Israel only to have the Philistine commander distrust him and send he and his men away.
v. 9, Achish, says to David, “I know that you are as blameless in my sight as an angel of God. Nevertheless, the commanders of the Philistines have said, ‘He shall not go up with us to the battle.’” He affirms David’s character, integrity and even usefulness, but denies his participation. This seems like a common thing we do with Jesus. We affirm his perfections, his holiness, his wisdom, his love, his grace, even his example and his power to help us. But we also are mindful of other people’s rejection of him and an impulse to “go it alone.” We acknowledge our need intellectually but don’t feel desperation deeply.
I wonder if you affirm the righteousness and perfections of Jesus today, but internally or even outwardly, you leave him out of the battles your facing. I wonder if you know in your head that you need his help and involvement, but in your heart your resistant to his power and authority and what his involvement might mean for the status quo in your life.
What reasons do you have for going into your battles without Jesus, who is willing and able to fight your battles with you? Will you trust him enough to invite him into your struggle and surrender to what his involvement may mean?
1 Samuel 30:1-15
Okay, so this is going to seem weird perhaps, but it's where I am today and what I noticed most in this passage. There are two quick things that have nothing to do with each other.
1) In the midst of pain and distress, people tend to blame leaders and authority figures.
We do this with political and civic leaders, corporate leaders, military leaders, social leaders, family leaders and spiritual leaders. In every sphere, when things get difficult, and our situation erodes; when life gets more uncomfortable and painful; we tend to want to deflect responsibility and blame authorities. In some cases that's deserved and legitimate, but in many cases it's not. David had nothing to do with the present situation, but because everyone is distressed and in anguish, they want someone to blame and hold responsible, and we tend to point at people in positions of responsibility, even when they aren't at fault.
This is both a caution for those of us who want to point the finger at leaders, and a caution for those who aspire to leadership and romanticize the role.
2) In the midst of pain and distress, pay attention to physical need.
David is refreshed and strengthened by water and food. In difficulty and distress we tend to neglect self care. We can pour ourselves into a problem or fixing something, or searching for answers or just grieving and all kinds of other things. We get physically, mentally and emotionally fatigued. Our bodies break down. Our faculties get foggy. Our emotions overwhelm us. Pain and anxiety is exhausting. Pay attention to your body. Eat well. Stay hydrated. Get rest. Stay active. We are integrated beings and our emotional and spiritual battles wear on our bodies. We need the nourishment that comes from Christ, to be sure, but we sometimes need the nourishment that comes from a glass of water and a sandwich. Just saying.
1 Samuel 30:16-31
I love that in this text, when others wanted to withold the spoils of war from those who were too exhausted to go and fight, David spoke up for them and said they were as much partakers in the victory as those who fought.
Resting isn't weakness, friends. Admitting when you have nothing left isn't cowardice. Acknoweleding we've reached our limits isn't shameful. In fact, there is strength in such awareness and honesty. Owning and living into our limitations is courageous and life giving. The only way we'll ever find renewal is when we admit our need for renewal. We'll only experience the restoration of body and soul when we make a priority and intentional pursuit of restoration. It's God's mercy and grace that meet us there and do their work, but it's our responsibility to seek him, and seek refreshing in him.
As well, it's worth noting that many of us will want to compare ourselves to others, and our capacity to theirs. We'll want to place a moral value on such things, when there is none. We are responsible to steward the gifts, abilities, aptitudes and capacity that God gives us. But we are not positioned to judge others based on what God has imparted to us. We will all hit the proverbial wall at different points, for different reasons, and to different effect. Let's love each other and encoruage each other whenever our brothers and sisters find themselves there. Let's use our strength to strengthen the weak, not insult them. Let's use our stamina to uphold our brothers, not step on them.
Lastly, David is again giving us a glimpse of God's heart, revealed in Christ, who, as it Isaiah 53:12 says, poured out his own life unto death, yet divided his portion and the spoils with many. That is to say that only Jesus atoned for sin throught he cross, and only Jesus conquered sin through the ressurection, but he shares his inheritance equally with all those who did nothing except believed on him. God is a generous God. That Jesus shares the spoils of God's riches, secured through his defeat of darkness, with all those who were at that time children of darkness is an unimaginable grace. Praise God that we who sit back and do nothing gain everything which our great King fought for and won.
1 Samuel 31
So, Saul pursued David all these years, and yet Saul lies slain and David lives on. God's plans cannot be thwarted. Not by the most powerful man in any nation or the most powerful earthly forces. He is God. And what he intends and declares he accomplishes, by his providence and through people. It's remarkable to think that David outlives Saul. Even the thought of the Philistines cutting off his head the next day is this vivid picture of how od rejected Saul as king and stripped the throne from him years before. And than he meets this unseemly end.
Take heart Christian... "The LORD your God is in your midst, a mighty one who will save..." (Zepheniah 3:17)