Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Plenty of Hubris to go around: I Sam 28-31

This section seems like upside down day.  David is about to go to battle against Israel with the Philistines.  Saul, who has known the glory of God in prophecy, is going to see a medium.  Why would either one do something so out of character?

Saul is desperate.  He's facing a battle without God and without direction.  No matter how hard he looks for answers, none are forthcoming.  He's willing to go through banned channels to get any kind of insight he can find.  His pride has kept him from laying down the kingdom when God took it from him and now it's all falling apart.  Contrast that to Moses who told God that if He didn't go with them, they wouldn't go.  The answer Saul gets is not what he wanted, but probably wasn't all that surprising.  One side note:  Mediums and spiritists were banned by God for our protection.  Leaving yourself open to the spirit world outside of God's plan leaves you open to demonic influence and probably explains Saul's subsequent battlefield suicide. 

David also seems to be arrogantly attempting to prove his worth to his new king.  He seems to have abandoned the idea that he could ever be king himself and is working toward what he can achieve on his own.  God protects David from his own stupidity when the remainder of the Philistine commanders rightfully question David's loyalties.  David is sent home to find it burned to the ground and everyone gone, victims of Amekelite revenge over David's recent extra-curricular activities.  David's eagerness to prove his value left his family vulnerable to attack and his warriors weary from an unnecessary trek to a war he had no business being around.  They get their families and stuff back, but I'm sure it was traumatic for everyone. 

Unlike Saul, David acts rightly, rewarding not only the ones who rescued them but the ones who stayed behind.  He also remembers those that have supported him through his exile, sharing the plunder with them as well--especially since they had also been attacked by the Amekelite raiders too. He acts like a king, sharing the benefits of his success with all who will be under him. 

It's far too easy to seek instant gratification and forget what's really important, especially when you're tired and discouraged.  God can still make it right if we remain in a right relationship with Him, but desperation is a bad place to do anything from--better to wait on the Lord though all things fall apart than to move ahead without Him. 

How have you chosen short term gratification over what is really important?  Have you chosen work over family?  Have you chosen TV over prayer?  (Yes, I'm preaching to myself.)  God can make it right, but it's time to recognize those places and ask for His help. 

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Creeping Discouragement: I Sam 25-27

We're beginnning to see the signs of discouragement and fatigue in David. 

Just yesterday, we saw how he stubbornly refused to get offended over a mountain of real insults.  Now, in Chapter 25, he sets out to kill the entire household of one of Caleb's decendents over not getting invited to a party.  God sends a wise woman to rescue him from such stupidity, but it's clear he's getting jumpy.  One of the first signs of fatigue is a short temper.

He takes someone with him to scout out Saul's camp and has to keep them from killing the king.  Instead, he takes Saul's canteen and spear.  This time, David's tone is not so meek.  He insults Abner for not taking care of the king.  He questions whether God has sent Saul against him--I'll bet David is beginning to wonder.  He complains about being away from home and away from God's presence.  Complaining is the second sign of fatigue.

Saul tells him he can come home, but David doesn't trust him and for the first time doesn't appear to trust God to take care of him either.  Instead, he takes his entire group and settles in enemy territory.  They live there for 16 months, secretly expanding Israel's territory while lying to the Philistine king.  Self-reliance, double-speak and compromise are also signs of fatigue. 

God does still take care of him, but David's heart is not in a good place.  Many of the Psalms of lament are written during the time of his wanderings and exile.  I'm grateful for their frank descriptions of his fatigue and his continual return to the Father, regardless of how he feels.  Sometimes seasons of pain last longer than our hearts can hold out.  David's life demostrates that God is there with us even when we are no longer capable of making rational decisions.  Sometimes it is this discouragement itself that grows our intimacy with the Almighty.  He faces discouraging circumstances all the time.  When we bring our fatigue to Him, we can learn to relate to Him in a new way.

The acronym HALT has been used by AA to stand for life's most common triggers: hungry, angry, lonely or tired.  It's not a bad list.  Celebrate Recovery uses the acrostic HEART: when you check your heart you check to see if you are:
      R--Resentful or

If you notice that your heart is in any of those places, then it's time to stop and recharge, even if it's just for a few minutes with the Father.  It may not make the situation better, but it will give you the strength to move on and brings God's resources to help you where you've already given in or given up. 

What about you?  Are you showing any of these signs?  Is your Heart needing a recharge?  Take a cue from David--for that matter, read some of David's laments in Psalms.  God is not ashamed by our weaknesses and honored David when he frankly told God all of his sorrows.  Will he do less for you?

Monday, April 8, 2013

On the Run: I Sam 22-24

One of the true marks of humility and maturity is an unoffendable heart.  An unoffendable heart doesn't just make excuses for others when they are hurt.  It truly choose not to take up offense against those who unjustly hurt him.  Instead that person looks to God to make things right and looks forward, moving on.  David gives us a powerful example of this and God doesn't disappoint.

David had shown Saul sterling service and in return, the jealous Saul was chasing him down to kill him.  No offense allowed.

Jonathan loyally protected and encouraged him, but none of Saul's other men did.  His followers are the outcasts of the land.  He is glad to have any friends, even these.  He's not offended that his friends from the battlefield aren't there. No offense allowed.

David's family had always treated him with less than sterling respect.  He wasn't even invited to the coronation dinner that Samuel called.  His brothers made fun of him.  His parents used him for the lowest job in the household.  Yet, when David is on the run and his family is in jeopardy, he makes sure they are safe in a stronghold out of the country.  No offense allowed.

Saul kills the entire priesthood in return for their unwitting support of David and only Abithiar escapes.  In Israel, this is high treason against God.  If there were any time that David had a right to oppose Saul, this would have been it.  Instead, he just welcomes Abithiar into his little troop and moves on.  In return, it is David who is able to seek and hear from the Lord--not Saul.  No offense allowed.

David sees that Keliah is being looted by the Philistines.  He's not king yet.  He's on the run.  It could leave him vulnerable to come to their defense but he does it anyway.  Of course, no good deed goes unpunished, so when Saul sets out to capture him at Keliah, David seeks out God for his next move.  He doesn't get upset when God tells him that he will be turned over by the men of Keliah, he just moves on.  David not only isn't offended, he doesn't leave room for them to hurt him.  No offense allowed.

Jonathan finds him in the desert and encourages him.  He can't stay, but again, No offense allowed.

You would think Saul would get a clue when he comes within a mountain's distance of capturing David and is called away to fight the Philistines, but he doesn't.  As soon as the distraction is done, he's right back at chasing David.  No offense allowed.

David literally catches Saul with his pants down, but only takes the corner of his coat--and feels guilty about even that.  In this dialogue, David reveals the secret to his unoffendable heart.  He appeals to God as the judge between them.  It is above his paygrade to make things right when he is wrongly accused.  That's God's job.  No offense allowed.

As a result, Saul repents with tears over his insane chase, but David knows better than to come out of hiding.  He may have won that battle, but the war is far from over.  No offense allowed. 

What unjust battles are you fighting today?  Is there anywhere you can rely on God to make things right instead of defending yourself?