Saturday, 31 December 2005
David thought everything was fine. He had covered up his sin with Bathsheba by bringing Uriah home, then having the battle arranged so that he died in the fight. He waited for the proper mourning period, brought Bathsheba into his home, and everything looked fine. Man was satisfied and everyone was happy.
Except for one important thing: the thing that David did displeased the Lord. We can please man all we want. We can all find a way to make things look right to others. We can fool others and cover-up our sin so that others are ignorant of our actions.
However, we cannot fool the Lord. He knows all He is never pleased with our sin. It is not nearly enough to please others. Do our actions please Him – that is the only question that really matters.
Friday, 30 December 2005
As we have already seen David was far from perfect. Here we see another flaw in his character that is going to lead to serious problems. David’s troops were out on the battlefront and this was the time of year since he should have been out with them. Instead he was hanging around the palace in Jerusalem.
David being in the wrong place at the wrong time was a dangerous thing. Although God gives us some flexibility within His will, there are times when geography does matter. It is clear from the wording of the passage that David was in the wrong here.
We need to be sure that we are where God wants us to be. God is not against some leisure, but He is against laziness. Let us make sure that when we are supposed to be out in the battle that we are not staying in Jerusalem.
Thursday, 29 December 2005
Joab and Abishai were facing two enemies, the Syrians and the Ammonites. Joab divided his forces, taking part of the army with him to face the Syrians and sending Abishai to face the Ammonites.
Then Joab gave some marvellous instructions for the battle:
Be of good courage
Be strong (play the men)
Let God do what seems best to Him
There is a wonderful, if very basic lesson here. We are to take courage in the Lord, go forth in His strength, and then leave the rest up to Him. We have very real battles that we face every day. We must learn that we do all we can humanly do, then we just have to leave it in His hands to do as He will and accept His actions.
Simple enough. We can’t do more than we can do. Leave that up to Him!
Wednesday, 28 December 2005
“And now, O Lord GOD, thou art that God, and thy words be true, and thou hast promised this goodness unto thy servant:” 2 Samuel 7v28
Although these words of David’s apply to specific covenantal promises they clearly are principles from the New Testament that we can apply to our Christian lives today.
David says three things about God:
You are God
Your words are true
You have promised goodness
There is no doubt that God is God (Acts 4v24). As God He is in absolute control of everything there is. He made heaven and earth and sustains them. As God He has the power to do whatever He wants.
His words are true. All Scripture is given by inspiration of God. Being inspired it can be trusted with total confidence.
He has promised that all things work together for good to them that love God and are the called according to His purpose.
Knowing that God is God, that His words are true, and that He intends all things for good to His children should give us great confidence is facing daily situations. David had this confidence, do we?
Tuesday, 27 December 2005
The more I read about David the more real he seems. He knew himself. He knew his doubts and fears. He knew his weaknesses and strengths. He knew his successes and his failures.
Even more than that he knew as evidenced in Psalm 139 that God knew all about Him. God knew all about David and He still chose to make David his servant. God knew all about God and still called David a “man after His own heart.”
This ought to give us great comfort. Sometimes I feel so ill suited to do God’s work. I know my own heart and wonder how God could possibly use me. This passage gives us the great comfort that He does know all about what.
What marvellous grace it is that God could know me, and still use me!
Monday, 26 December 2005
David was far from perfect. He battled with sin and difficulties in his life. However the Bible calls him a man after God’s own heart and here we have part of the reason for that declaration.
David was under no misconceptions. He knew that he deserved nothing. He knew that we could be disobedient and fearful. He knew that at times he did follow the flesh instead of the spirit. He knew, as evidenced by the verse above that he was only wear he was because of the Lord. Here we see David’s humility.
The sooner we learn this lesson the better. Nothing we have is because we deserve it. Who am I that God should send His Son to die for me? Who am I to be allowed to serve Him?
I am nothing – all I have is by God’s mercy and grace.
Sunday, 25 December 2005
Saul had been a mighty king. He was one of the most powerful men on earth and was God’s ordained man for God’s ordained task. He had everything in place to be mightily used by God.
However Saul chose to walk by sight and not by faith, to look at the seen and not the unseen, and to look at the things below instead of the things. When he decided to depend on his own strength instead of God’s strength he was doomed to fail.
Jonathan and Saul both died in the same battle; Saul at his own hand and Jonathan slain by the enemy. The once mighty king had fallen because he never learned to trust the Lord.
When we decide to depend on our own strength instead of God’s we doom ourselves to failure as will. With the might of God we will never fall.
Saturday, 24 December 2005
David, like so many of us, had a roller coaster faith walk. Sometimes he could trust God totally and other times he ended up relying on the flesh and what he could see.
When he asked God about the Amalekites a second time God told his to go ahead and fight them and he would give the victory. God delivered the Amalekites into the hand of the army. They had a great victory and retuned with the spoils.
His men we called worthless men, and they did not want to share to spoils with the men who had not gone to fight. They wanted to keep it all to themselves. David however recognized the true sourced of the victory. It was not their efforts that provided the victory, but the Lord had given it to them. Therefore all that they won was from Him and they had not right to claim it as their.
Thus it should be with all that we have. Everything we have is from the Lord. It is not own. We should not lay claim to what we have but be willing to share it recognized God as our source.
Friday, 23 December 2005
Even David was not perfect when it came to walking by faith. When he say that Saul was bound and determined to kill him he was afraid and decided to join forces with the Philistines.
He became a successful warrior for the Philistines. After a time however he grew into disfavour since he was an Israelite. When he tried to go back to Israel he was rejected by them because of his apparent treason. Now he was truly a man without a country.
He had learned his lesson however. He was distresses and afraid. The people were ready to stone him because of his ruthlessness when he fought for the Philistines.
This time David did the right thing. He could not encourage himself with his situation. He knew there was only one way to encourage himself – he encouraged himself in the Lord.
We will always fail when we encourage ourselves in anything but the Lord. We will NEVER fail when we truly encourage ourselves in Him.
Thursday, 22 December 2005
Nabal was a scoundrel (NKJV) according to his own wife’s testimony. David made a reasonable request of him to help his soldiers and Nabal refused to cooperate and would not even acknowledge David as the king to be.
David was furious. He didn’t even stop to think, but decided to take his army and kill all the men in the area. For once he was going to act according to the flesh, and not wait for God.
When Nabal’s wife Abigail heard about it she decided to act. She prepared provisions and went to see David and beg for the rest of the men. After she reasoned with David he responded in a very, humble, God honouring way. He blessed her for coming to her for her advice. When he dealt with Goliath he trusted God. When he was dealing with Saul he refused to take matters into his own hand and trusted God to sort it out. When it came to Nabal he apparently became irritated and decided to act according to his own will. Abigail was able to keep him from acting wrongly.
How do we act when someone confronts us in this manner? It is so easy to get angry, get our back up and say something like, “Mind your own business!” When someone cares enough to stop us from acting in haste may we have the humility and grace of David.
Wednesday, 21 December 2005
How different were David’s words to Saul than they were to Jonathan. To Jonathan her said, “The Lord be between thee and me,” and to Saul he said, “The Lord judge between thee and me.” In both cases David showed that his faith was in the Lord. He could trust God to watch over Jonathan and he could trust God to take care of his enemy Saul. David consistently showed an uncanny ability to trust God in every situation and to deal with others.
In this case David felt guilty that he had even cut Saul’s robe. He pointed out to Saul that he could have killed him, but he would not so because Saul was God’s anointed. He knew that eventually God would avenge Saul for him, but he was not going to do anything about it.
David knew how to trust God to deal with others. O that we could all have that same faith!
Tuesday, 20 December 2005
From all appearance God had delivered Saul right into his hands. Saul chased him with the intent of killing him. Yet, David discovered where Saul was and approached him while he slept. His could have killed him and no one would have blamed. He could not bring himself to do so and only cut off a corner of his robe.
David could not harm Saul. He knew that Saul was God’s anointed leader. No matter what happened David knew it would be wrong to take matters into his own hands. He knew the principle of “vengeance is mine, I will repay, saith the Lord.”
David sets a pattern for us. He was able to trust God in every situation. He was able to walk by faith that God would work it our instead of walking by sight and killing Saul.
Monday, 19 December 2005
Things were not going well in Saul’s house. He is fear of David had turned to hatred and he actively began to try and kill him. Things were so bad that it became obvious that David would have to leave.
As David and Jonathan prepared to part company it was obvious that their friendship was based on more than just a knitting of their souls. There was a third party in their friendship. “The Lord be between thee and me forever,” Jonathan said.
Friendships are not always blessed geographically. In the modern world we may have close friends literally scattered all over the world. If those friendships are based on a mutual affection for the Lord geography will not matter. Trure friendships, like that between David and Jonathan always survive separation because the Lrod will always be “between me and thee.”
Sunday, 18 December 2005
As time passed David was growing in popularity in the kingdom. Saul was growing jealous because of he praise being poured out on David.
The root cause went much deeper than that. Saul was afraid of David because he knew that the Lord was with David and He has left Saul. He knew what the source of real power was.
It is a shame how often we forget what Saul knew. The presence of the Lord is all that we really need; yet we often fear those who don’t have the Lord’s presence. We walk in fear when we should be walking in confident victory.
Saturday, 17 December 2005
After the battle with Goliath King Saul had to learn more about David. As part of the spoils for defeating the giant David would soon marry into the king’s family. David’s anointment as king was coming closer to fulfilment.
When David moved into the king’s palace he met Jonathan, the son of the king. Jonathan and David soon become close friends. So close in fact that the Bible says that the souls of Jonathan and David were knit together and Jonathan loved David as his own soul.
Their friendship was special. So closely knit were the men that nothing could ever come between them. They souls were knit like the fibres of a fine jumper. Nothing would ever come between these friends.
David and Jonathan set a pattern of true friendship. True friendship has no interest in self. True friendship means we love our friend as much as self. Whatever happens in a true, biblical friendship is based on what is good for both, not on what is good for one or the other.
Friday, 16 December 2005
The pre-fight conversation continued. Goliath was taunting and mocking David with his comments about his childhood and how easy it would be to defeat him. To all outward appearances Goliath was dead right. A huge experienced warrior against an inexperienced child. If they were taking bets the odds would surely have favoured Goliath.
Goliath was trusting in his own strength and ability. From all appearances he had every right to do so. David, on the other hand, put his faith somewhere else. “You come to me with a sword and spear and shield,” he told Goliath, “but I come in he name of the Lord.” Goliath had not only defied Israel, but he also had defied the Lord.
Later in the passage David said that God did not fight with a sword or spear. Zechariah 4v6 reminds us of the same truth, “Then he answered and spoke unto me, saying, This is the word of the LORD unto Zerubbabel, saying, Not by might, nor by power, but by my spirit, saith the LORD of hosts.”
We all need David-like faith. Too often we are more like Goliath than David, depending more on our ability that on our Lord. When we focus our our power we walk in fear. When we walk by faith in His power we can walk in confidence and victory.
Thursday, 15 December 2005
Saul and the people though that David was crazy for wanting to fight Goliath. He was only a boy and Goliath had been a champion warrior since his youth. All they could see was this giant. According to the custom of the time whichever champion won the fight would win the battle for his side. All they could see was certain defeat.
David had another perspective. He knew that God had delivered him when he fought both a lion and a bear. As a boy he had no hope against these foes either, but God had allowed him to kill them. David already knew the principle of James 1. Trials now strengthen us for more trials later. He knew that he had no hope in his own strength when he fought Goliath. He knew that by sight he was sunk. But he knew something else; he knew that with God all things were possible.
We all face various giants in our lives. God will not bring a giant across our path that He has not already provided a way to defeat it. He will never give us more than we can handle. Look back to other foes that God has defeated and look forward with confidence to the giant in your path today!
Wednesday, 14 December 2005
Saul never was able to see beyond the visible. When he and army were confronted by the Philistines and their giant champion they were in great fear. All they could see was this nine foot tall warrior and his threats against them. Their fear had them paralysed and defeated.
Then young David came to bring provisions to his brothers. When he got there he too saw giant Goliath and heard his threats. Perhaps part of it was his youth and inexperience, but he asked, “What will happen to the man who defeats Goliath?”
Saul gave the answer, but his big brother chided him for coming. David’s response showed whereas Saul walked by sight, he saw the bigger picture. “Is there not a cause?” Something had to be done no matter how big Goliath was. The cause was more important that the challenge.
Today we have a cause. Our cause is to glorify God in our lives and bring men to Him. The giants are many. If we look at what we can see, all we will see our giants. Let us focus on the cause instead of the giants.
Tuesday, 13 December 2005
“But the LORD said unto Samuel, Look not on his countenance, or on the height of his stature; because I have refused him: for the LORD seeth not as man seeth; for man looketh on the outward appearance, but the LORD looketh on the heart.” – 1 Samuel 16v7
When Saul was sent to Jesse’s home to find the new kings he called on Jesse to bring out his sons. The first son to catch Samuel’s eye was Eliab. He must have been an imposing figure for Samuel said – “Surely, this must be the one!”
God however had another plan. He told Samuel, “Don’t look on his appearance, don’t look at his height. I have refused him.” Obviously, physical appearance was not going to impress God, it was the attitude of the heart that was going to matter to God. “Man looks on the outward appearance, the Lord looks on the heart.”
Physical still has a major importance to the world today. People are popular in many cases because of the way they look, or what they can do. Sports and Hollywood stars base nearly everything on looks or physical ability. Too many Christians have followed that line.
God is not impressed by our physical appearance or abilities. God is concerned instead with our hearts. How many hours do spend preparing our hearts compared to how much time we spend on our physical appearance?
Monday, 12 December 2005
Saul had been caught out in his lie to Samuel. First he tried to pass the blame off on to the people who demanded that they preserve the livestock. When then did not work he reminded Samuel that after all, he had done the spiritual thing by offering a sacrifice.
Samuel made something very clear – God does not delight in sacrifices and religious practices as much as He does in simple obedience. We can get so caught up in religious activities, going to church, and trying to act spiritual that some times we just forget to obey.
There is nothing that delights God more than our simple obedience. God loves simple, plain, practical obedience. He hates disobedience and rebellion, even likening it to witchcraft in verse 23.
Obedience is the very best way to show that we believe.
Sunday, 11 December 2005
“And Samuel said, What meaneth then this bleating of the sheep in mine ears, and the lowing of the oxen which I hear?” – 1 Samuel 15v14
Saul had a real problem with faith living. When Samuel instructed him on defeating King Agag he told him to kill the king, all the inhabitants of the city. He told him to destroy all of the livestock in the city.
In the minds of Saul and the people it did not make any sense to destroy all that food so they spared Agag and all the livestock. Once again he acted by sight instead of by faith.
When Samuel arrived he Saul came forward and boldly proclaimed, “I have followed the commandment of the Lord!” What arrogance! He boldly lied to the Samuel and thought he could get away with it because he had offered his one and only sacrifice.
He didn’t reckon on Samuel’s response – “What meaneth the bleating of the sheep?” The Bible says, “be sure your sin will find you out.” The evidence of Saul’s sin was there. He said he obeyed God, but the sheep he spared we sounding out that he was a liar!
It is easy for us to think we can get away with sin and mask it with spiritual activity. We must be aware that our sin will eventually find us out. We should not be surprised at the “bleating of the sheep” when we are trying to cover up our own sin.
Saturday, 10 December 2005
Israel was in big trouble. Saul was dispirited after hearing the news that he would lose the kingdom. The Philistines were still on their border. They we outnumbered and defeat looked certain.
Jonathan and his armour bearer decided to do something about it. Under Jonathan’s direction they went out on their own to face the Philistines. Jonathan showed a faith his father did not show when he told the armour bearer that the Lord could save with a few as easily as He could deliver with many. Jonathan had great faith in making this declaration. It made no difference what he saw – he had the faith to trust in what he could not see.
Every time we face difficulties we have a choice. We can do like Saul did and respond to what we can see. Or, we can be like Jonathan and trust God in spite of what we see. Jonathan’s words have been a great comfort to me in the past. God can do His work no matter how big our numbers are. It is all His work. He can do it in our strength or in our weakness, in our many, or in our few.
Friday, 9 December 2005
Things were getting desperate for Israel. They looked around and saw the Philistines approaching. Samuel had promised to show up and offer a sacrifice in seven day. It was the seventh day and no Samuel.
Saul decided it was time to take matters into his own hand. He went ahead and offered the sacrifice on his own. As soon as he finished Samuel showed up. When Samuel asked what he had done, Saul said that he saw the Philistines and the situation they were in he decided to offer the sacrifice.
The problem is that he acted on what he saw, and not on what Samuel had said. He acted by sight instead of by faith. For this Samuel told him that the kingdom would be taken from him and given to a man after God’s heart.
Saul’s chose to look at the things that are seen rather than the things he could not see. He chose to look at the temporal instead of the eternal. No man who is a man after God’s own heart can look at the temporal. A man after God’s own heart looks to the eternal and obeys God.
Thursday, 8 December 2005
Samuel instructed the people to fear the Lord and serve Him with all their hearts. We have already seen that “heart service” is the kind of service that God expects from us.
How do we motivate ourselves to keep on serving? What do we do when we don’t see any “results” to speak of? What happens when things just seem to keep going wrong? How do we keep serving with all our hearts when our hearts are broken?
Samuel answers all of these questions with a very simple phrase – “Consider the great things God has done for you.” When we truly consider all that God has done for us we must stand in amazement and wonder. How God could take a vile, filthy, heel-bound sinner and create that man a new heart and a new man mystifies me. That the perfect sinless God of heaven would reach down in love to make me His own is a wonder. If this was “all” that God ever did for me it would make all of the service, with whatever trials it brings, worthwhile. He has made us His children. He has given us an eternal inheritance that cannot be taken away. He has made us joint heirs with His Son. He has given us an assured hope in a world that is without hope!
The next time you are tempted to despair or get discouraged pause and “consider the great things He has done for you!”
Wednesday, 7 December 2005
Samuel was nearing the end of his ministry when Saul became king. He reminded the people that they were going to suffer the consequences of demanding a king. However, he then reminded them that God would never forsake them. He also had a personal note. He was going to continue to pray for them. In fact he declared that it would be a sin for him not to do so. He asked God for help in insuring that he would not sin against God my not praying for the people.
How often do we take this attitude toward praying for others? Not only is it a sin not to pray for others, but also it is clearly declared as a sin against God to not pray for others. Do we see it as a sin to not pray for other people?
As we go through each day may we take the same attitude that Saul did – “God forbid (may it never be) that we should sin against the Lord in ceasing to pray for others.”
Tuesday, 6 December 2005
When Saul returned home from finding out that he was going to become king all he could talk about was the fact that Samuel had told him where to find the sheep. He didn’t mention his anointing, his change of heart, his creation as a new man, or the Holy Spirit coming to dwell in him.
Far too often God’s people are like Samuel. We will talk about anything except what God does for us. We will talk about all of the practical things that happened, but not about what God is doing in our lives. It is sad that those things are so often more important that what is happening to us spiritually.
Next time God is working in our lives and someone asks us how we are doing, may we have the courage to say more than – “Well, I found the donkeys!”
Monday, 5 December 2005
“And the Spirit of the LORD will come upon thee, and thou shalt prophesy with them, and shalt be turned into another man.” – 1 Samuel 10v6
Saul knew that he was incapable of serving the Lord. Samuel told him that the day would come when the spirit of God would come upon him and make him into “another man.” Later in verse 9 we read that the Holy Spirit gave him a “new heart.”
From every indication here Saul was a saved man. Though he will not always walk with the Lord, at this time three things happened:
The Holy Spirit came upon him
He was turned into another man
He received a new heart
All three of these things should mark every believer. When we get saved the Holy Spirit comes to dwell in and with us. If any man be in Christ he is a new creature. Our hearts are changed to conform us to the image of Christ.
Saul did not always do so, but does my life daily reflect the fact that I have been turned into another man? Is my life so different so I appear to all that I am a whole different man that I was before I was saved.
Lord, remind me daily to live in such a way that I reflect the indwelling Holy Spirit, that fact that I am another man, and show the world that I have a new heart.
Sunday, 4 December 2005
Saul was busy trying to find his father’s lost donkeys. He decided to go see the Samuel in case he could tell where they were. However, Samuel had a different job in store for him.
Samuel told Saul that he was to be the new king of Israel. Saul seemed to shrug it off and go on his way saying that he was not qualified for such a task. Even when Samuel told him the donkeys had gone home, Saul could not be deterred from his task.
Finally, Samuel had to be very clear with Saul – “Stop and listen, let me show you the word of God.” Far too often we can be like Saul, so occupied with our daily chores that we don’t have time for God to talk to us.
Samuel’s words are a good reminder for each of us today – “Stand still a while, and listen to God’s word.”
Saturday, 3 December 2005
Do you remember telling your parents, or hearing from your children, “Everyone else gets to do it?” Man seems to always have a knack of comparing himself to others and being jealous of what they don’t have.
The people of Israel had the same problem. As they looked around they saw that all the other nations had kings. They felt “left out” because they were not content with the ruler God gave them. Even after Samuel told them all of the evil that would come upon them, they still demanded a king, so that they could be like everyone else.
I find myself in the same trap at times. When I get my focus off of the Lord and onto the world I can be tempted to want what others have. For some Christians this gets so strong that they are willing to sacrifice doing right and following the Lord just to be like the world.
The root problem is one that comes up over and over again – it is a lack of contentment. There is “great gain” in godliness with contentment. May we forget about what everybody else has and get on serving God with what He gives us.
Friday, 2 December 2005
As the years of Samuel’s judgeship passed the people became more and more discontent by his rule. When his sons grew up to not follow the Lord it gave them the excuse to demand a change so they went to Samuel and asked for a king.
Samuel was disturbed. He felt like they had rejected him personally. He went to God to ask for advice. “Listen to what the people say Samuel,” God said, “they have not rejected you, but they have rejected Me and my rule over them.” Samuel could be assured that it was not a personal matter between the people and him. They were not really upset with Samuel, but with God’s plan for them.
God’s words to Samuel can be a great encouragement to us. There have been and will be times when we are going to feel rejected. When we truly take a stand for the Lord and speak His word, people are often going to reject our message. It is easy to take this personally and think that people have rejected us. We ought to keep these words in mind. If we are standing true to God and His Word, and people reject us, it is not us they are rejecting, but the Lord.
Thursday, 1 December 2005
Once the people had admitted and repented of their sins, Samuel became the leader of the land as their judge. The people gathered together to fast, and when the Philistines heard about them all being together they decided to attack. Samuel asked God for help and God delivered them.
When they saw that they had the victory Samuel set up a stone and called the place “Ebenezer.” The word means “stone of help” and referred to the fact that God had been their help in a time of conflict.
Samuel set a stone in place to remind the people of God’s great work. Whenever people saw that stone they could be reminded of what God had done for them. There is wisdom in us setting up a reminder when God does things for us. It is far to easy to see God work, rejoice for a moment, then forget. I think we would be wise to set up some type of “Ebenezer” when God does a work for us. Perhaps it would be a journal or prayer list where we can look back and be reminded of God’s great work.
Are there Ebenezers in your life that you can look back on when things get tough? The old hymn goes – “Here I raise my Ebenezer; Here by Thy great help I’ve come;” We are where we are today by the grace of God. Let us strive to remember that God is our stone of help and look to Him in times of need.
Wednesday, 30 November 2005
God was judging the Philistines because they had the Ark. They shifted from place to place with the same horrendous results. God’s judgement was poured out on whoever had the Ark.
Finally the men of Beth-shamesh asked a question that befits further study – “Who is able to stand before this holy Lord God?”
The answer of course is obvious to all – no man can stand before the holy Lord on his own. God is so holy and perfect that all must, like Isaiah, fall before His feet in awe and reverence. We have no right at all to stand before God and demand anything from Him.
Everything we have is a blessing from God. Our only hope to approach Him is because He sent His Son, Jesus Christ, to be the Captain and Pioneer of our salvation. It is only because of Christ that we are able to boldly enter into God’s throne room in prayer.
Praise the Lord that no man is able to stand before the Lord, He sent His Son to be my escort into His presence!
Tuesday, 29 November 2005
“And she named the child Ichabod, saying, The glory is departed from Israel: because the ark of God was taken, and because of her father-in-law and her husband.” – 1 Samuel 4v21
When Israel faced a battle against the Philistines they thought they could use the Ark of the Covenant as something of a magic talisman in the battle. At first the Philistines were fearful, for they thought that God would fight for Israel. The battle commenced and to the shock of the Israelites they lost, Eli’s sons were killed, and the Ark was captured.
When Eli heard the news he fell over backward and died as well. Phineas’ wife was pregnant and soon had a son whom she named “Ichabod” which means “no glory.” Her reasoning was that the glory of the Lord, or God Himself, had departed Israel. She, like everyone else, had put her faith in the Ark instead of in the Lord. God was not going to forsake His people, but they were too spiritually blind to sense it.
Most of us have had “Ichabod” times in our lives. These are times when things seem so bad that we think that God has forsaken us, or at least He is not fully aware of our situation. This happens when we walk by sight instead of by faith. When we are thinking “Ichabod” it is because we have adopted a wrong focus. God has not moved, we just are not looking in the right direction. When we have those times, we must remember that God has promised that He will never leave us or forsake us. In those times let’s redirect our focus and rid ourselves of the spirit of Ichabod.
Monday, 28 November 2005
“And Samuel told him every whit, and hid nothing from him. And he said, It is the LORD: let him do what seemeth him good.” – 1 Samuel 3v18
Samuel was called upon to tell Eli the bad news that his sons were going to die and the priesthood was going to be taken from his family. The reason given back a few verses is that Eli did not restrain his sons. We could glean a lot about child rearing from that statement alone.
Yet let us look at Eli’s attitude. The bad news had come. To Eli’s credit he did not question God or His Word. He did not try to make excuses. When the word came down that God was going to act Eli knew he could do nothing about, “He is God, let Him do what seems good to him.”
Most of us could use a good dose of the attitude. We seem to want what seems good to us, not what seems good to God. We tend to judge our situation by what we like or don’t like, or by what we perceive is good.
Our God is always good and always does what is best, Indeed, He is God, let Him do what seems good to Him!
Sunday, 27 November 2005
“And the LORD came, and stood, and called as at other times, Samuel, Samuel. Then Samuel answered, Speak; for thy servant heareth.” – 1 Samuel 3v10
Young Samuel was ready for his call from God. Through the night he kept being awakened by a voice calling his name and ran to Eli thinking it was Eli calling him. Finally, Eli said to listen, for it was God calling him.
Samuel awoke and told the Lord, “Speak for your servant heareth.” All through childhood Samuel had been trained for servant hood. He already had about ten years of service under his belt. Now it was time for his full time of service.
His few words have profound meaning. “Speak Lord,” indicates that he was silent and ready to hear God speak. How often do we fail to allow the Lord to speak by keeping our lives so busy that there is no room for Him to speak to us?
He also said, “your servant.” Being a servant is never easy because it involves sacrificing our will and desire for His will and desire for our lives. Calling ourselves servants, as Samuel did, means that we are taking our hands off of our lives.
“Your servant hears” indicates that he was ready to listen and obey. Are we willing to say without reservation, “your servant hears?”
Whenever we spend time with God we need to be willing to say, without doubt or reservation – “Speak Lord, for your servant heareth.”
Saturday, 26 November 2005
“Wherefore the LORD God of Israel saith, I said indeed that thy house, and the house of thy father, should walk before me forever: but now the LORD saith, Be it far from me; for them that honor me I will honor, and they that despise me shall be lightly esteemed.” – 1 Samuel 2v30
How tragic it is when God’s people put pleasing their children above pleasing God. Eli’s sin was to honour his boys more than he honoured God. As a result God took away the priestly live from Eli and passed in on to another.
By pampering and excusing his son’s Eli neglected the word of God and dishonoured Him. God will never honour those who choose to dishonour Him. When people dishonour God they bring a dishonouring on themselves.
We see this obviously when we look at the lost, but the same principle with believers. God will not honour His children who are not honouring Him. Instead He will lovingly chasten them. If we expect God to bless us in any way, we must make it our priority to honour Him instead of seeking our own honour or honouring our children above the Lord.
Friday, 25 November 2005
“And the child Samuel grew on, and was in favour both with the LORD, and also with men.” – 1 Samuel 2v26
Interspersed with all the negative comments about Eli’s sons we read about the growth and development of Samuel. Bad news mixed with good news.
Here we find a verse even more reminiscent of Luke 2v52. There were a couple of key elements that apply to us, both Samuel and Jesus grew “in favour with God and man.”
These are two key elements of growth. Social and spiritual growths are both vital aspects of life. As Christians all of our lives we should focus on growing spiritually and socially. Those of us who have been saved for a while should be able to look back and see real and visible growth in both of these areas. The Christian life is to always be one of growth, not going backward or even staying the same.
May we emulate Samuel and be always growing in favour with God and man.
Thursday, 24 November 2005
“And the LORD visited Hannah, so that she conceived, and bore three sons and two daughters. And the child Samuel grew before the LORD.” – I Samuel 2v21
What a contrast God draws between the wicked sons of Eli and the child Samuel. After describing the sinful men God says, “But the child Samuel ministered before the Lord, being a child.” While grown men lived evil, wicked lives Samuel as a child was ministering before the Lord.
Then we read, “the child grew before the Lord.” This reminds us of Jesus where it says “he grew in wisdom, and stature, and is favour with God and man.” At least twice in the word of God we see the importance placed on a child growing up.
In Samuel’s case the key element of his growth as a child seem to be service. He grew up serving God. His entire childhood was serving while the adults did wrong. Often child can set examples for adults, as Paul pointed out when he wrote, “let no man despise thy youth, but be thou and example of the believers.”
Those of us who are parents need to be sure that we provide opportunities for service to our children as they grow.
Wednesday, 23 November 2005
“Wherefore the sin of the young men was very great before the LORD: for men abhorred the offering of the LORD.” – 1 Samuel 2v17
I think we all, at one time or another, have a problem with discontent. It is nor normally listed among the more “serious sins,” but is relegated to the “lesser sins” that we all must deal with and therefore is not often dealt with seriously.
God has a different view of discontentment. Tells us that the sons of Eli were “sons of Belial, “ wicked, evil, vile men. Instead of eating the meat they God had provided for the priests they had established a practice of going wherever they wanted and whatever meat they could pick out of a stewing pot by using a three-pronged hook was theirs. Eventually this was not enough so they decided they would just take whatever they wanted, including the fat that should have been sacrificed to God.
God shows us the depth of their sin. God said their sin was “very great” because they despised what God had provided for them. Whenever we are not content with God gives us, but instead we desire to go after “strange flesh” we join with the sons of Belial in despising God’s provision.
If we saw all our sin the same way God does we would see the loathsomeness of sins like discontent. Let us strive to see all sin the way God does, as loathsome and repulsive.
Tuesday, 22 November 2005
“And Elkanah went to Ramah to his house. And the child did minister unto the LORD before Eli the priest.” – 1 Samuel 2v11
There are times when we are tempted to consider work with children to be some how second rate, or not as important as working with adults. Children’s ministries can be seen as something anyone can do, not like working with adults.
Here we have Samuel in the Temple. His mom and dad have returned home. Samuel is left to live in the Temple with Eli and we read, “The child did minister unto the Lord…” The word means that he waited on and served God, even as a child.
No child is small in God’s sight. Service for our Lord should start in childhood, and their service should be seen as important. May we never take the service of children for granted.
Monday, 21 November 2005
“He will keep the feet of his saints, and the wicked shall be silent in darkness; for by strength shall no man prevail”. – 1 Samuel 2v9
Our Christian life is often referred to as a walk. We are told several times in the New Testament about how we are supposed to walk. Many times that walk can be confusing. Sometimes it seems that we are walking in the very edge of a precipice where it seems like we might slip and fall at any minute. The way can be dark and hazardous and the way may seem like we are always on the verge of stumbling.
Here we find a great promise in the middle of Hannah’s prayer of praise. We are reminded that God will “keep the feet of His saints.” There is a lot involved in this statement. God gives us the perfect guide for our feet through His word, “Thy word is a lamp unto my feet and a light unto my path, “ we are reminded in the book of Psalms. Through His word of feet a clearly kept and we need not walk in darkness fearing those things at which we might stumble.
Habakkuk gives a few wonderful words to remind us how God will keep our steps, (Habakkuk 3v19) “The LORD God is my strength, and he will make my feet like hinds' feet, and he will make me to walk upon mine high places…” The mountain goats Habakkuk have an innate ability to walk among the most dangerous paths without fear of stumbling. This is the kind of protection that God promises for His saints when we walk by faith in Him instead of by sight.
Sunday, 20 November 2005
“Talk no more so exceeding proudly; let not arrogance come out of your mouth: for the LORD is a God of knowledge, and by him actions are weighed.” – 1 Samuel 2v3
How often do we start thinking that we are really “something?” If we are not careful we can get to the point where we think that we are the “bees knees” and that God is lucky to have us on our side!
We may see other believers and compare ourselves with them. Being harshly critical of things they say or do. We may condemn them for not acting just like us. We may label them just because they differ with us on some minor point of doctrine.
The reason behind this is pure and simple - it is pride. Hannah’s pray addresses this; “Don’t talk so proudly, don’t be so arrogant in your speech: God knows everything and by Him actions are weighed.
Picture an old-fashioned balance scale. On one side of the scale we have our actions, on the other side of the scale we have God. Is there any ever any way that we can balance the scale? Of course not! We are weighed by God’s standard of perfection, not by any other man. What a humbling truth. We must never be guilty of comparing ourselves to others, for God is our standard. The more we know Him the more we see the exceeding holiness of God and the exceeding wickedness of our sin.
That is certainly enough to keep our mouths shut!
Saturday, 19 November 2005
Hannah’s prayer after she sent Samuel to the temple is much different than her prayer of anguish and desperation at the beginning of the story. Hannah’s song of praise is a beautiful picture of how we should worship and honour the Lord.
With a heart full of joy she proclaimed, among other things, “I have smiled over my enemies” (NKJV). The literal rendering is “my mouth is enlarged” which can picture several things. It may picture a wide mouth speaking to the enemies. It may mean picture a wide-open mouth pouring our praise. I prefer the NKJV rendering which is also accurate “I will smile wide at my enemies.”
What a joy to realise that we can smile in the face of opposition. Our enemies have no power over us because. No matter what happens we can rejoice in God’s salvation.
Today we may face many enemies and great opposition. These enemies have no power over us. We can smile in the face of our enemies. We can open our mouths wide and pour forth praise to our God because of our salvation.
There is no room for us ever to be “down in the mouth” as believers. No matter what we face we may always rejoice in God’s precious salvation!
Friday, 18 November 2005
“Wherefore it came to pass, when the time was come about after Hannah had conceived, that she bore a son, and called his name Samuel, saying, Because I have asked him of the LORD.” 1 Samuel – 1v20
Hannah was desperate for a son. Her husband’s other wife taunted her because of her childlessness. She did the only thing she could do; she took her dilemma to the Lord in prayer.
Neither her husband nor the priest understood her at first. Undaunted she kept praying. Finally Eli, the priest, told her that God would answer her prayer. The Bible says that when that happened she arose and went off, and her face was no longer sad. The next morning she and her husband went off to worship the Lord. Eli’s words were enough for her; she acted in faith that her prayer was already answered.
When the child was born, she named him Samuel. His name meant “heard of the Lord.” Hannah gave God full acknowledgement for answering her prayer and never wanted to forgive.
How often do we take answered prayer for granted? Do we remember the various “samuels” in our lives? God hears and answers are prayer. It is important that we remember those times and give Him all the glory.
Thursday, 17 November 2005
“And the women her neighbors gave it a name, saying, There is a son born to Naomi; and they called his name Obed: he is the father of Jesse, the father of David.” - Ruth 4v17
Boaz and Ruth are a wonderful blessed couple. They have so many character traits that are good and honourable. They both had a focus on the Lord and a compassion for others. They both had wonderful testimonies before the community. They both went “above and beyond the call of duty” in their dealings.
God blessed them and gave them a family after they were married. Their first-born son was called Obed. Obed had a son named Jesse, and Jesse had a son named David. David was referred to by God as a “man after mine own heart.”
It appears that after Boaz and Ruth had a family God was still important to them. They passed on their godly heritage to their family to the point where God decided to use the family of their grandson to produce the king of Israel.
Boaz and Ruth had things right. God honoured them and generations later David was born. This was the line that God would use to give Jesus Christ, the great Messiah. Praise God for the example of Boaz and Ruth.
Wednesday, 16 November 2005
“And now, my daughter, fear not; I will do to thee all that thou requirest: for all the city of my people doth know that thou art a virtuous woman.” - Ruth 2v11
What a wonderful testimony Ruth had! When she came to Boaz to propose marriage to him she did so in a totally appropriate manner according to the custom of her time. Boaz accepted her proposal and said “All the people of my city know that you are a virtuous woman.”
Ruth was a stranger in the land. In the short time she had been there she had become known to the entire city as a virtuous woman. He public testimony was important and superlative.
How important is our testimony to us? How are we known to the people of our city? Are we known as virtuous men and women? Let us live our lives in such a way that we are always known as virtuous people. May the Lord use that testimony to draw other to Him.
Tuesday, 15 November 2005
“And Naomi said unto her daughter-in-law, Blessed be he of the LORD, who hath not left off his kindness to the living and to the dead. And Naomi said unto her, The man is near of kin unto us, one of our next kinsmen.” - Ruth 2v20
Kindness is a wonderful godly trait. It is not one that we consider often as being godly, but the word of God is replete with references to kindness. Boaz was indeed a man of God, he manifests that in many ways. He told his reapers to leave extra grain in the fields where Ruth was gleaning.
Too many men equate kindness with weakness and are afraid to be known as kind men. Ephesians 4v32 say clearly and simply, “Be kind one to another.” May we treasure the title of kindness. May we join with Naomi and say blessed are those who are kind.
How kind are we to others? Do people think of kindness when they think of us?
Monday, 14 November 2005
“The LORD recompense thy work, and a full reward be given thee of the LORD God of Israel, under whose wings thou art come to trust.” - Ruth 2v12
Ruth was amazed when Boas ordered his workers to leave extra grain in the field for her to glean. Boaz, who was much older than Ruth initially saw her as a daughter like figure and took pity her on her. Ruth’s spirit and her compassion for Naomi was well know for even Boaz knew about it. He wanted to reward her for what she had done in leaving her homeland to care for her mother in law. God was truly sovereign in this entire matter and He was in control.
Boaz was a man of God. He could have taken all the credit for what he had done for Ruth. Instead he passed the credit on to God. He did not say, “I will reward you for what you have done, but “The Lord will repay you for what you have done and HE will reward you fully.” Earlier in chapter one Ruth had put herself under God’s protection, and here Boaz refers to her faith as putting herself under God’s wings.
This is a wonderful picture of God’s protection. As a mother hen gathers her chicks under her wings to shelter us from the storm, God gathers His children under His wings. Ruth found refuge there and God used Boaz to help provide that protection, Boaz saw himself the way we all should, merely as God’s tools for His work.
Sunday, 13 November 2005
“And she went, and came, and gleaned in the field after the reapers: and her hap was to light on a part of the field belonging unto Boaz, who was of the kindred of Elimelech.” - Ruth 2v3
Nothing ever just “happens” with God. As Ruth went out into the field we read that she happened to come into Boaz’ field. It just so “happens” that Boaz was a man of godly devotion who greeted his workers with, “The Lord be with you,” and whose workers replied, “The Lord bless you.”
It just so happened that Boaz was a generous man who instructed his men to leave extra in the fields for Ruth and Naomi, the leave them handfuls in purpose. It just so happened that Boaz qualified as a near kinsman who could redeem Ruth and marry her.
God was in absolute control the whole time. He knew exactly what He was doing. Things don’t just happen when God is in control. It was not just a coincidence that Ruth went to this field. It was all part of God’s plan.
There are no coincidences with God.
Saturday, 12th November, 2005
"And Ruth the Moabitess said unto Naomi, Let me now go to the field, and glean ears of corn after him in whose sight I shall find grace. And she said unto her, Go, my daughter.” - Ruth 2v2
Ruth is an amazing person. The first character trait noted about Ruth is here loyalty and devotion to family. There was no way she was going to allow Naomi to go back home alone.
Another character trait seen in Ruth is that of a hard worker. Rather than cry and bemoan their state, Ruth asked Naomi to let her go out and glean in the fields to get food for them to eat. Gleaning as hard, arduous work that required working all day just to gather enough food for the day.
Too often we find ourselves in a difficult situation and waste out time complaining instead of doing something about it. Let us be inspired to act on Ruth’s example. When things seem tough, depend on God, but get to work doing what we can do!
Friday, 11 November 2005
“And Ruth said, Entreat me not to leave thee, or to return from following after thee: for whither thou goest, I will go; and where thou lodgest, I will lodge: thy people shall be my people, and thy God my God: Where thou diest, will I die, and there will I be buried: the LORD do so to me, and more also, if aught but death part thee and me.”
- Ruth 1v16-17
This beautiful saying by Ruth is often used in wedding ceremonies. Although it may not fit perfectly in context, it does exhibit a wonderful heart of loyalty and devotion from one person to another.
Ruth was totally devoted to her mother-in-law. In spite of her problems and her feelings that God had let her down by allowing sons to die she must have had some kind of testimony of faith in Jehovah, for Ruth said “Your God will be my God.” Then she made it clear what she was talking about when she actually used the name of Jehovah in her conversation.
Naomi was such a testimony of what her God was like that she attracted her daughter-in-law to faith in Him. Being a witness to family members can be tough because they see us at all times, the good and the bad.
Both characters are to be admired here; Naomi for her acknowledgement of Jehovah that attracted Ruth to Him, and Ruth for her wonderful human devotion. This is a wonderful model of how human relations should be when we are both following the Lord.
Thursday, 10 November 2005
“In those days there was no king in Israel: every man did that which was right in his own eyes.” - Judges 21v25
Chapter 17-21 of Judges begins and ends with the same word, “In those days there was no king in Israel, but every man did that which was right in his own eyes.” In between we see the terrible consequences of that fact.
Look at the litany of almost unimaginable sins- 1) A priest who prostitutes himself to a pagan worshipper, 2) Expecting God’s blessings based on external religiosity 3) A priest being bought out my a group of people, 4) A daughter and a concubine being offered to a group of perverts who wanted the men, 5) The murder and consequent butchering of the concubine and her body parts dispatched all over Israel, and 6) a civil war.
How does this happen? The heart is deceitful above ALL things and desperately wicked, no man can know it. No measure of evil is beyond man’s capacity. This is the result when man turns from God and follows his own dictates.
What are we asking for when we reject God’s way for our own? There is a way that seems right to man, but then end of it is the way of death.
Wednesday, 9 November 2005
“And the children of Dan set up the graven image: and Jonathan, the son of Gershom, the son of Manasseh, he and his sons were priests to the tribe of Dan until the day of the captivity of the land. And they set them up Micah's graven image, which he made, all the time that the house of God was in Shiloh.” - Judges 18v30-31
Micah’s personal priest became well know. He had forsaken the worship of God and was totally dedicated to the false gods. The Danites came and offered him a better deal and convinced him that it was better to serve a whole tribe than one man. He had lost all of his scruples and sold out to the Danites. As a result the Danites set of Micah;s graven image while the true house of God was in Shiloh. The continued their false worship until the captivity.
The Danites were too lazy to worship the true God. Expediency was more important than devotion.
How often do God’s people do what is expedient instead of what is right? How often do we take the easy way out instead of truly following Him whatever the sacrifice? It would have been hard to travel to Shiloh, but it was the right thing to do. Doing it is not always the easy thing for us either.
Tuesday, 8 November 2005
“Then said Micah, Now know I that the LORD will do me good, seeing I have a Levite to my priest.” - Judges 17v13
Micah was a Jew living in Samaria. One day a Levite showed up at his door looking for a place to stay. Micah and the priest came up with a “great” plan. Micah would hire the Levite as his own personal priest and the priest would live there with him. Micah thought, “Now God will bless me since I have a priest living with me!”
What a mess! Micah thought he could force God to bless him because he had his own personal priest and the priest prostituted his ministry for money! How carnal God’s people had become, they thought they could put God in a box and force Him to bless them by their own standards.
How sad it is when we think we can make God bless us! Sometimes we fall into a trap thinking that if we do all the right things God MUST bless us, according to our definition of blessing.
We never know what God is doing in our lives. He always knows what is best – He acts and blesses according to what He knows is best for us. We can never “make” Him bless us by what we do.
Monday, 7 November 2005
“In those days there was no king in Israel, but every man did that which was right in his own eyes.” – Judges 17v6
The last few chapters of Judges are a litany of the terrible sins that befell Israel during this time. The actions are shameful and awful even in the light of the wickedness of the modern world. When we look at these events and look at all that is going on around us today we ask ourselves, “How can man be so wicked?” We see horrible crimes being committed. We see terrible abuse of children and shocking crimes that can hardly be imagined even in a horror film, but they are real life events.
What happens? How do we get to this point? How is human life so cheapened that it can be taken so violently and without regard to the consequences?
Judges 17v6 gives the simple answer; “Every man did that which was right in his own eyes.” When God’s standards are broken down there is no more right and wrong. With no right and wrong there is no limit to man’s potential for violence. Every man does that which is right in his own eyes, and man’s own eyes are self-serving and self gratifying.
There must be an absolute standard – without that man is left to his own devices. God has given us a perfect standard, His perfect word. It tells us what is right and wrong. When we, even as Christians, reject God’s word in every situation we in essence are no better than those who do what is right in their own eyes.
There can be no standard for us outside of the Bible. May that ALWAYS be our guide, and may we NEVER act according to our own whims and our idea of what is right.
Sunday, 6 November 2005
“And Samson called unto the LORD, and said, O Lord GOD, remember me, I pray thee, and strengthen me, I pray thee, only this once, O God, that I may be at once avenged of the Philistines for my two eyes.” - Judges 16v28
Samson is something of an enigma. It seems that he was quite a playboy. He lusted after power, excitement, food, and women. Time after time he showed the frailties of the flesh, yet God still saw fit to use him.
Samson is an enigma to me. He never seems to really care about God or doing the right thing. Fulfilling the desires of the flesh always seems to be his focus. However, when I think about it, it becomes obvious why God used him and what lessons we can learn from his life.
Firstly, he was allowed to suffer the consequences of his sin. Eventually his fleshly choices caught up with him. He fell pray to the Philistines, was blinded and became their slave. Sin by God’s people does have consequences. God did not punish him for his sin; his punishment was the natural result of his foolish choices.
Secondly, the story is a picture of the grace of God. At the end of his life he repented and called out to God for help. He called out, “Lord, this one time remember me and strengthen me to defeat the Philistines!” God had a plan; Samson was a part of that plan. God is omniscient and He knew that Samson had a role to play in the plan. Remember that God is in control. We never know who God is going to use or how He is going to use them. He is a God of mercy; He can use anyone who will turn to Him. That being the case, I am sure He can use me.
Saturday, 5 November 2005
“And he came up, and told his father and his mother, and said, I have seen a woman in Timnath of the daughters of the Philistines: now therefore get her for me to wife.” - Judges 14v2
Minoah and his wife were desperate for a child. The Angel of the Lord appeared and promised them that they would have a child who would grow up to be a deliverer for Israel. Their son, who would be called Samson, would be a Nazarite with vows and external obligations to keep. Apparently he did everything right on the outside, but that was not nearly enough.
The first words we hear from Samson are; “I saw a woman of the Philistines…get her for my wife…because she pleases me.” Samson had everything right on the outside, but on the inside his priorities were all messed up. Though the Philistines were not on the list of those forbidden in marriage she was not a Jew. Why did he like her? She was pleasing to his eyes; he liked the way she looked. This would be a life-long problem for him. Women were going to cause him difficulty after difficulty and would one day bring about his downfall.
Somewhere along the way Samson’s parents had messed up. Perhaps it was because he was a special child, but he hard learned to demand things from them. In this case, God was going to use the whole situation for his glory, but that does not excuse Samson’s attitude or spirit.
It is vital that we not only have an outward conformity in our lives, but we must make sure our hearts are right as well.