King Saul Did Not Seek God

1 Chronicles 10:13-14 – So Saul died for his breach of faith. He broke faith with the LORD in that he did not keep the command of the LORD, and also consulted a medium, seeking guidance. He did not seek guidance from the LORD. Therefore the LORD put him to death and turned the kingdom over to David the son of Jesse.

Why did King Saul die? Among the reasons is this: He did not seek guidance from the Lord, instead he sought a medium to ask advice of Samuel. But notice the other account in 1 Samuel 28.

1 Samuel 28:5-7 – When Saul saw the army of the Philistines, he was afraid, and his heart trembled greatly. And when Saul inquired of the LORD, the LORD did not answer him, either by dreams, or by Urim, or by prophets. Then Saul said to his servants, “Seek out for me a woman who is a medium, that I may go to her and inquire of her.” And his servants said to him, “Behold, there is a medium at En-dor.”

Samuel’s account says that Saul did inquire of the Lord, but God didn’t answer him. So is there a contradiction here? Did King Saul inquire of God? Yes Saul tried to ask God, but he really didn’t want a relationship with God. He didn’t want to repent, he was just scared of being killed by the Philistines. So when he “inquired” he wasn’t really humbly coming before God’s throne.

God knows the difference. If Saul truly would have had a repentant heart before God, there are oodles of examples in Scripture where God would have forgiven him and heard Saul’s prayers.

Saul was a King, David was a Leader

1 Chronicles 11:1-3 Then all Israel gathered together to David at Hebron and said, “Behold, we are your bone and flesh. In times past, even when Saul was king, it was you who led out and brought in Israel. And the LORD your God said to you, ‘You shall be shepherd of my people Israel, and you shall be prince over my people Israel.'” So all the elders of Israel came to the king at Hebron, and David made a covenant with them at Hebron before the LORD. And they anointed David king over Israel, according to the word of the LORD by Samuel.

Look at what Israel said to David!

Even when Saul was king, it was you (David) who led out and brought in Israel.

Who was the king? Saul. Who was the real leader in Israel? David.

To whom did the people go to for leadership? David. Who was the person who understood the real enemy of Israel? David. Who was the one who had the courage to face the giant with God’s help? David. Who was the one who encouraged the hearts of Israel to trust God and take on the enemy? David. Who was the one who walked among the people and knew the people? David.

What was Saul doing? Hiding. Doubting. Cowering. His focus was his power, his image and keeping his throne. He was incredibly fearful and jealous of David and anyone who supported him. He devoted the rest of his life to chasing David all over Israel to eliminate him because he was a threat to Saul’s power. In fact, you can see that Saul lost focus of the real enemy, the Philistines, until they had completely surrounded him and it was too late.

You see, the people of Israel were smart enough to know who the real leader was. That is still true today. It is evident in churches, homes, businesses, sports teams, politics, etc. The people in charge are not necessarily the ones who are really leading. Sometimes it is a husband who likes to assert his authority all the time, while the wife and mother is the one really leading the kids. It might be in a sports team where the “captain” of the team is just bossy but another player is the one who inspires the team. We see it in businesses, where the CEO is a controlling, micro-managing type, and there are a few others who really make that business what it is.

So, what about you? Are you a boss, or a leader? Are you an elder, or a leader? Are you the “head of the home” or a leader? Leaders inspire, set examples, communicate and build relationships. There is an atmosphere of welcoming and safety around a leader. Leaders don’t have to go around asserting their authority all the time to do so. Look around, are people following you because they respect you or because you are in charge? Also take a look, are people continually going to someone else instead of you? It might be that you have asserted your authority way too much and they don’t feel safe coming to you. How do you respond when others get the praise and recognition, yet you are in charge? Do you encourage and welcome that or are you intimidated by that?

God’s encouragement for you today is to be a leader like David, not a king like Saul.

The Work Is Great

1 Chronicles 29:1-2
And David the king said to all the assembly, “Solomon my son, whom alone God has chosen, is young and inexperienced, and the work is great, for the palace will not be for man but for the LORD God. So I have provided for the house of my God, so far as I was able, the gold for the things of gold, the silver for the things of silver, and the bronze for the things of bronze, the iron for the things of iron, and wood for the things of wood, besides great quantities of onyx and stones for setting, antimony, colored stones, all sorts of precious stones and marble.

David saw the building of the temple as God’s “great work.”

  • Just because David couldn’t directly oversee the building of the temple, this work did not lose any value or importance in his eyes. David got even more involved because what was important was the glory of God’s house, not who got to be in charge. God’s work is great, the workers are only great if they are humbly seeking God’s glory as servants. We are only servants. Greatness is not in being in charge, it is doing what is best for the great work of God.
  • David recognized the immense need to prepare the next generation for leadership in God’s great work. King David didn’t live at the end of his nose; he looked down the road and planned for future leadership of God’s people. He organized the priesthood, prepared his own son as king, arranged all the workers to build the temple, put the military in order, arranged the finances, etc. Sometimes leaders just find themselves reacting to current problems instead looking to the future and preparing.
  • He gave his all for this great work. At first, David thought his “great work” was to build a temple for God (1 Chronicles 22). But God wanted Solomon to build the temple. So, David’s “great work” was to prepare Solomon and all Israel to build the temple. Look at 1 Chronicles 17-22! Look at all the work David did to prepare for the building of the temple. His great work was to prepare the next generation, and he spent every ounce of his energy doing it!

What Is Vengeance?

Romans 12:19
Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.” (Paul is quoting Deuteronomy 32:35)

We are told to not take vengeance upon people. Revenge is wrong. Vengeance is God’s place. To avenge ourselves, according to Paul, is to put ourselves in the place of God. Our Lord is the one who brings wrath, it isn’t our place.

As I was studying 1 Samuel 25 with someone last week, we were reading out of two versions of the Bible. When David was seeking to kill Nabal, Abigail told him that would be taking vengeance. She encouraged him not to avenge himself but let God take care of Nabal His way.

But I was reading the English Standard Version, and where the other person was reading “avenging,” my version was saying “working salvation with my own hand.” (See 1 Samuel 25:26,31,33 and compare various versions).

This helped me to see the words avenge and vengeance in a clearer perspective. Vengeance is not just “getting back at someone.” It’s more than that. When we take matters into our own hand and go about solving problems our way, what are we doing? We are working salvation with our own hands. The deliverance is now being done our way instead of God’s way.

So, when we seek to resolve problems our way, we are taking salvation into our own hands. That’s what vengeance is…we are spiritual vigilantes going about trying to deal with problems according to human wisdom, not God’s wisdom.

Abigail didn’t cover for Nabal

I was studying with someone this week about 1 Samuel 25 which covers the account of David, Abigail and Nabal. Abigail was a woman of beauty and wisdom, but her husband was a complete jerk. The Bible literally calls him “worthless.” He was harsh. He was badly behaved. He caused trouble for a lot of people, and it is clear from the text that everyone knew who would have to fix Nabal’s messes. Abigail.

1 Samuel 25:17 – “Now therefore know this and consider what you should do, for harm is determined against our master and against all his house, and he is such a worthless man that one cannot speak to him.”

Even the servants were comfortable coming to their master’s wife about him. That says this event with David wasn’t the first time Nabal had wreaked havoc.

What we see though in Abigail is that she did not cover for her husband’s wickedness. In her attempts to save her household from certain destruction, she exposed and clearly admitted that Nabal was the problem, not David.

1 Samuel 25:25-26 – Let not my lord regard this worthless fellow, Nabal, for as his name is, so is he. Nabal is his name, and folly is with him. But I your servant did not see the young men of my lord, whom you sent. Now then, my lord, as the LORD lives, and as your soul lives, because the LORD has restrained you from bloodguilt and from saving with your own hand, now then let your enemies and those who seek to do evil to my lord be as Nabal.

Did you see what Abigail just said about her husband? She admitted he was wrong, and that he was the problem. His name means “fool” and Abigail agreed that his parents named him well! She also agreed with others’ assessment that he was “worthless” (literally a “son of Belial”). Abigail did not cover for her husband’s sins. Family did not come first, truth did. Family did not come first, God did. While she pleaded with David to do what was right in not taking vengeance, she did not excuse or dismiss her husband’s wicked behavior.

What about you? Does family come first, or does God? Does family come first, or does truth come first? Loyalty to family sometimes gets so pressed into people’s psyche that they can’t see the obvious truth that everyone around them sees. They find themselves defending the indefensible. Because of that misplaced loyalty, gossip about others is believed as gospel. That shows our loyalty is to family first, not to God and truth first. This just doesn’t happen in families, it happens with our friends, too. Just because someone is a close family member or a best friend, doesn’t mean we blindly take their side. Our misplaced loyalty will blind us and distort our judgment.

Listen to what Jesus said…

Matthew 10:36-37 – And a person’s enemies will be those of his own household. Whoever loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me, and whoever loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me.

Abigail did not cover for Nabal, nor did she make excuses for his ungodly behavior, and he was her husband! She also did not try to blame David for being part of the problem, that somehow he was guilty of stirring Nabal up. Nope. She knew exactly where the problem was…right at home with her husband.

Our loyalty must first be to God.

Abigail did not only recognize where the problem was, she also knew clearly where to turn to find the solution…God. Look at what she says about God as she talks to David:

1 Samuel 25:26 – Now then, my lord, as the LORD lives, and as your soul lives, because the LORD has restrained you from bloodguilt and from saving with your own hand, now then let your enemies and those who seek to do evil to my lord be as Nabal.

Abigail turned her attention and David’s attention to the Lord for the solution. Read the rest of that section later (1 Samuel 25:28-34,38-39) and see how many times Abigail and David referred to God as being the Source of the solution. It’s one thing to recognize that her husband was the problem, but far more important that she knew where to go for answers and wisdom to deal with the problem.

When David Was in The Cave

Psalms 142:1-7
A Maskil of David, when he was in the cave. A Prayer. With my voice I cry out to the LORD; with my voice I plead for mercy to the LORD. I pour out my complaint before him; I tell my trouble before him. When my spirit faints within me, you know my way! In the path where I walk they have hidden a trap for me. Look to the right and see: there is none who takes notice of me; no refuge remains to me; no one cares for my soul. I cry to you, O LORD; I say, “You are my refuge, my portion in the land of the living.” Attend to my cry, for I am brought very low! Deliver me from my persecutors, for they are too strong for me! Bring me out of prison, that I may give thanks to your name! The righteous will surround me, for you will deal bountifully with me.

Today’s thought is from David, when “he was in the cave.” Was David in the cave because he decided to go backpacking for a week? No? Was he doing some scientific study? No. Was he lost? No.

David was running for his life.

1 Samuel 22:1 – David departed from there and escaped to the cave of Adullam. And when his brothers and all his father’s house heard it, they went down there to him.

If you read 1 Samuel 18-21, it looked pretty hopeless for David. King Saul was commanding everyone, including his own son (Jonathan) to kill David. King Saul tried to use his own daughters as bait to have David killed.

David was in forced social quarantine. He was isolated. Now, to be clear, in the next verse of 1 Samuel 22 we see that 400 people came to him. But I want to show that while David was running for his life and isolated in the cave, he wrote this beautiful passage – Psalm 142.

Meditate on this Psalm today. What can you learn from Psalm 142 while you are in your own “cave” today?

Are You Mephibosheth or Absalom?

Two men sat at David’s table. One was a son of David, and his name was Absalom. The other was a crippled son of Jonathan, Mephibosheth, who was brought there  because of grace and the covenant David had with Jonathan (see 1 Samuel 20:12-17; 2 Samuel 9). Usually when kings took the throne and started a new dynasty, they killed all the previous king’s family. But Mephibosheth was spared and given a place at the king’s table where he would continually be there as one of the king’s own sons.

You can see the difference in mentality between Absalom and Mephibosheth.

Absalom:

  • No blemishes, good-looking (2 Sam. 14:25,26).
  • Natural born son of the King (2 Sam. 3:3).
  • No appreciation (2 Sam. 16:21,22; 17:1-4).
  • Arrogant, spoiled (brat), who charmed or manipulated his way through life (2 Sam. 13:22-29; 14:29,30; 15:3-6).
  • Tried to steal the throne (15:10-15).
  • The thing in which Absalom gloried eventually became his downfall.

Mephibosheth:

  • Lame in both feet (2 Sam. 9:13).
  • Outsider, grandson of Saul; deserved to die (2 Sam. 19:28).
  • Very appreciative (2 Sam. 9:8).
  • Humble, servant to David (2 Sam. 9:6).
  • Honored the throne of King David (2 Sam. 19:24).

This attitude of Absalom is seen everywhere in life. In sports, politics, in business, in the home, and in the church. We don’t want to be Absalom’s, walking through life entitled and spoiled, do we? We want to live out our lives like Mephibosheth, where we have overwhelming gratitude for the blessings given to us that we did not deserve. And out of that gratitude, we humbly serve God and others. Like Mephibosheth was to David, we should be loyal to God’s throne because of the fact that God even allows us to sit at his table as one of His sons!

A Shield About Me

Here is Psalm 3. It was written when David was running from his own son, Absalom. David’s son was trying to take the throne away from his father, and in doing so was trying to kill David. This was prophesied to David; this was part of the consequence of David’s sin with Bathsheba (2 Samuel 11-12). But that doesn’t make it any less painful for David as he is running for his life while Absalom’s men are seeking to destroy him.

Psalms 3:1-8
(1) A Psalm of David When He Fled from Absalom His Son. LORD, how they have increased who trouble me! Many are they who rise up against me.
(2) Many are they who say of me, “There is no help for him in God.” Selah
(3) But You, O LORD, are a shield for me, My glory and the One who lifts up my head.
(4) I cried to the LORD with my voice, And He heard me from His holy hill. Selah
(5) I lay down and slept; I awoke, for the LORD sustained me.
(6) I will not be afraid of ten thousands of people Who have set themselves against me all around.
(7) Arise, O LORD; Save me, O my God! For You have struck all my enemies on the cheekbone; You have broken the teeth of the ungodly.
(8) Salvation belongs to the LORD. Your blessing is upon Your people. Selah

Think of what David says to God here. He looks around and sees thousands of people who have risen up against him. But he directed his faith and his focus on God the Shield who surrounds him.

Below is a link to a song based on Psalm 3. I love this song!

A Shield About Me

 

 

David and Uzzah: It Matters to God, Part 5

Today we wrap up our study of the account of David, Uzzah and the Ark of the Covenant (2 Samuel 6, 1 Chronicles 13 and 15). We are going to zoom in on the concept of worshipping God in spirit and in truth. There is a perfect example of this with David and the Ark of the Covenant.

David learned the value of worshipping in spirit and in truth.

There were two worship services we can observe in our texts for this week. The first is full of spirit-filled worship (1 Chronicles 13), but they were transporting the Ark in a way that disobeyed God. They were not worshipping in truth. Uzzah died. The second worship service came three months later (1 Chronicles 15; 2 Samuel 6:11-15) after David and the Priesthood looked into the Word to see what God instructed. They made the necessary corrections, and then we see a second worship commence. That worship service was just as spirit-filled and full of emotion and passion, with even more reverence than before. This time, however, they were worshipping in spirit AND in truth.

First Worship Service – Spirit WITHOUT Truth

1 Chronicles 13:1-4
1 David consulted with the commanders of thousands and of hundreds, with every leader.
2 And David said to all the assembly of Israel, “If it seems good to you and from the Lord our God, let us send abroad to our brothers who remain in all the lands of Israel, as well as to the priests and Levites in the cities that have pasturelands, that they may be gathered to us.
3 Then let us bring again the ark of our God to us, for we did not seek it in the days of Saul.”
4 All the assembly agreed to do so, for the thing was right in the eyes of all the people.

What they were about to do for God and how they were going to worship God was based on what was right in the eyes of the people. They all consulted with each other on what to do.

1 Chronicles 13:5-10
5 So David assembled all Israel from the Nile of Egypt to Lebo-hamath, to bring the ark of God from Kiriath-jearim.
6 And David and all Israel went up to Baalah, that is, to Kiriath-jearim that belongs to Judah, to bring up from there the ark of God, which is called by the name of the Lord who sits enthroned above the cherubim.
7 And they carried the ark of God on a new cart, from the house of Abinadab, and Uzzah and Ahiowere driving the cart.
8 And David and all Israel were rejoicing before God with all their might, with song and lyres and harps and tambourines and cymbals and trumpets.
9 And when they came to the threshing floor of Chidon, Uzzah put out his hand to take hold of the ark, for the oxen stumbled.
10 And the anger of the Lord was kindled against Uzzah, and he struck him down because he put out his hand to the ark, and he died there before God.

David and all Israel were rejoicing before God with “all their might” in the worship service. They had great passion and fire for God, and their motives, I believe, were right on point. But God was angry and Uzzah died. They were worshipping with all the spirit, but without the truth.

Second Worship Service – Spirit WITH Truth

1 Chronicles 15:1-3
David built houses for himself in the city of David. And he prepared a place for the ark of God and pitched a tent for it.
2 Then David said that no one but the Levites may carry the ark of God, for the Lord had chosen them to carry the ark of the Lord and to minister to him forever.
3 And David assembled all Israel at Jerusalem to bring up the ark of the Lord to its place, which he had prepared for it.

The first worship service began with people making agreements and consulting with each other on how they think things should be (1 Chronicles 13:1-4). The second worship began with people asking God how things should be.

1 Chronicles 15:13-16
13 Because you did not carry it the first time, the Lord our God broke out against us, because we did not seek him according to the rule.”
14 So the priests and the Levites consecrated themselves to bring up the ark of the Lord, the God of Israel.
15 And the Levites carried the ark of God on their shoulders with the poles, as Moses had commanded according to the word of the Lord.
16 David also commanded the chiefs of the Levites to appoint their brothers as the singers who should play loudly on musical instruments, on harps and lyres and cymbals, to raise sounds of joy.

We can take note here of the reverence for God’s word when it comes to worship. They had not sought God according to the rule (verse 13), but the second worship service was “according to the word of the Lord” (verse 15). That did not change their spirit, though. They still played loudly and raised sounds of joy to the Lord (verse 16)!

2 Samuel 6:11-15
11 And the ark of the Lord remained in the house of Obed-edom the Gittite three months, and the Lord blessed Obed-edom and all his household.
12 And it was told King David, “The Lord has blessed the household of Obed-edom and all that belongs to him, because of the ark of God.” So David went and brought up the ark of God from the house of Obed-edom to the city of David with rejoicing.
13 And when those who bore the ark of the Lord had gone six steps, he sacrificed an ox and a fattened animal.
14 And David danced before the Lord with all his might. And David was wearing a linen ephod.
15 So David and all the house of Israel brought up the ark of the Lord with shouting and with the sound of the horn.

Do you see the reverence and care in verse 13? Do you see the rejoicing in verse 12, the dancing in verse 14, and the shouting in verse 15? They were absolutely careful to do things God’s way, but they did not lose a bit of passion in doing so!

1 Chronicles 15:25-29
25 So David and the elders of Israel and the commanders of thousands went to bring up the ark of the covenant of the Lord from the house of Obed-edom with rejoicing.
26 And because God helped the Levites who were carrying the ark of the covenant of the Lord, they sacrificed seven bulls and seven rams.
27 David was clothed with a robe of fine linen, as also were all the Levites who were carrying the ark, and the singers and Chenaniah the leader of the music of the singers. And David wore a linen ephod.
28 So all Israel brought up the ark of the covenant of the Lord with shouting, to the sound of the horn, trumpets, and cymbals, and made loud music on harps and lyres.
29 And as the ark of the covenant of the Lord came to the city of David, Michal the daughter of Saul looked out of the window and saw King David dancing and rejoicing, and she despised him in her heart.

Spirit AND Truth

It seems, by my limited observation, that many times people either have spirit OR truth. We are either worshipping with all the genuine passion and emotion and not obeying God’s instructions for worship, or we are doing things “by the book” but everyone looks like they are at a funeral! God wants our hearts and our obedience! He wants spirit and truth!

John 4:19-24
The woman said to him, “Sir, I perceive that you are a prophet. Our fathers worshiped on this mountain, but you say that in Jerusalem is the place where people ought to worship.” Jesus said to her, “Woman, believe me, the hour is coming when neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem will you worship the Father. You worship what you do not know; we worship what we know, for salvation is from the Jews. But the hour is coming, and is now here, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for the Father is seeking such people to worship him. God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth.”

In His discussion with the Samaritan woman at the well, Jesus first dealt with the “Where” of worship. There was a debate between Jews and Samaritans of the proper place to worship. Jesus said there was a time coming when the “where” won’t matter. Jesus also addressed the “What” of worship, and clearly said the Samaritans were worshipping in ignorance. Finally, Jesus instructed her on the “How” of worship. As you can see from what Jesus said, God is “seeking such people” who will worship Him in “spirit and in truth.” He added an exclamation point with the word “MUST.” This is not an option, this is how God wants it. Spirit AND truth.

So, how about you? Personalize it and put these words from Scripture in your heart. God wants all of you in worship. We are to love God with all our hearts, souls, spirits and minds. Are you worshipping God with all of your being? Do you seek and search out what God wants for you in worship or are you like those in the 1st worship service? Do you just go along with what everyone around you agrees is the right course? Remember these lessons from David and Uzzah, because it truly does matter to God. We hope it matters to you, too.

David and Uzzah: It Matters to God, Part 4

Efficiency and Expediency

We are focusing this week on the account of David and Uzzah (2 Samuel 6, 1 Chronicles 13, 15).

If you were transporting a heavy, very valuable piece of extremely important religious history…wouldn’t you try to find the most efficient and expeditious way to move it? Add this factor – You are transporting this sacred box over miles and up a mountain.

What if you are in that leadership discussion with David and the Levites and someone brings up, “Hey, let’s build a new cart and pull it with oxen.” Without any guidance from God’s word, wouldn’t you think, “Hey, that’s a great idea!” Makes sense to me! That would make this great work of God more efficient.

What we can see from these texts is that our ideas for efficiency and expediency will result in big problems if we don’t look first for God’s authority. In order for something to be helpful it must first be lawful.

How is it that over 2,000 years of church history we have had all kinds of things introduced into the church even with the best intentions? Maybe others responded to those ideas with, “Hey, that’s a great idea, let’s do it!”? Is it any different than what happened in the days of David? We have great ideas, ways to “improve” and make the church better. But have we fallen prey to the same problem of David and Uzzah? Did we look into God’s word to see if that’s what God wants?

We can look at the Reformation Movement for great examples of this concept. People started reading the word and then they realized that many of the established practices of the day were not founded on God’s Word. Did you know that many of the Reformation leaders rejected instrumental music in worship because they found no authority for it in the New Testament? This is just one example of men and women who did like David and “sought God according to the rule.”

Has God changed since the days of Uzzah? Is He any less concerned about our obedience to His instructions?

Jesus told us that in order to worship God “we must” worship Him in spirit and in truth (John 4:23-24). When Paul wrote about how the church at Corinth was to worship he said that those instructions were the “commandments of the Lord” (1 Corinthians 14:36-37). As Paul wrote the young evangelist Timothy, he said that those words were from God so they would know how to behave in God’s church (1 Timothy 3:15). Nope, God hasn’t changed (Hebrews 13:8). If we want to do great works for God, we still need to look in the Word and see what God has to say first.