To say that David was in a difficult position might be mildly stating it. David was in danger of being stoned as his men struggled in their bitterness and loss of family.
David had led them away to battle. But after being turned back, they found their homes had been raided, families kidnapped and the city burned down. And while David hadn't caused the trouble, the men felt he kept them from protecting their families.
But could it be that this was the reason they were turned back home? Could God have caused a change in their plans so that they could rescue their loved ones?
David found strength in the Lord in the middle of this difficult time. He was enabled, empowered, and encouraged by God to lead his men in a great rescue.
David recovered everything the Amalekites had taken; he also rescued his two wives. Nothing of theirs was missing from the youngest to the oldest, including the sons and daughters, of all the plunder the Amalekites had taken. David got everything back.
1 Samuel 30:18-19
But what would have happened had David relied on his own ability, his own reasoning, his own defense? For that is often my first reaction. And that would have only stirred the trouble between him and his men.
Let us KNOW that God is Our Strength in Difficult Times. He can be trusted to give us wisdom, courage and peace of mind... strengthening us to press on through anything set before us.
David and his mighty men had been on the run a long time. They were kind to shepherds whom they encountered, even giving a wall of protection for them.
Then one day, David heard of a wealthy man nearby who owned the sheep. He called upon the man for a favor, asking provisions. Although he had plenty, the rich man, Nabal, spoke harshly, sending David's men away.
When word reached David, he immediately commanded his men take up swords and begin marching toward Nabal. As they moved forward, David could be heard spitting out his inner-mot thoughts. “I guarded everything that belonged to this man in the wilderness for nothing. He was not missing anything, yet he paid me back evil for good. May God punish me and do so severely if I let any of his men survive until morning.” 1 Samuel 25:21-22
But fortunately, Nabal's wife, Abigail intervened with gifts of food and supplies. She spoke reason and wisdom to David, realizing his anointing as king.
Then David said to Abigail, “Praise to the Lord God of Israel, who sent you to meet me today! Your discernment is blessed, and you are blessed. Today you kept me from participating in bloodshed and avenging myself by my own hand. 1 Samuel 25:32-33
David allowed the foolishness and pride of Nabal to wound his soul and stir a bitterness inside which led him to action almost criminal. Yet he admits in the Psalm of his stupidity and lack of reason. And he credits God for changing his mind by sending Abigail.
How lovely that David recognizes God's presence in the absence of his reasoning. How humble that he realized God's intervention to guide him and keep him from wrong.
And just as God gave David a way out, when his emotions seemed to overrule his right thinking, so too does He guide and counsel us. Yes, the same God who was with David in the middle of his anger, even as it propelled him to wrong action... is with us.
Will we too, like David recognize that intervention as God? Are we able to stop in the middle of our plans of revenge or destruction to listen to His voice, to feel His hand upon us? Let us be aware that God always provides a way out... even in the middle of our mess.
Let us cry out daily to be sensitive to the God who desires to take us up to glory. Lord, be my Right Hand Counsel no matter what I face today!
Samuel was a prophet, faithful to God, who obeyed the Lord's direction to anoint Saul as the first king of Israel. It didn't have to be something Samuel wanted to do, in order to obey. For faithfulness to God doesn't pick and choose by emotion. Rather, it acknowledges God as our unchangeable truth.
I mean, why argue with truth?
It's true, right?
But what if it hurts my feelings?
What if it goes against my opinion?
And what if keeps me from doing what I want?
You see, unfortunately, we have grown accustomed to doing what we want, when we want, and how we want. And seldom to we really contemplate truth. Rather we just go with our gut... what feels good, or seems right that day.
Even if it's not how God sees it.
For God's opinion on ANY matter is, in fact TRUTH.
And He's not going to change His mind.
After Samuel anointed Saul as king, he advised Saul as to how to win the battles with God on his side. But Saul only listened to the parts he liked, the parts he agreed with. And when Samuel confronted him... asking why Saul kept the best of the plunder for himself and his troops, rather than destroying it, Saul made excuses.
Saul actually said...
“But I did obey the Lord!” Saul answered. “I went on the mission the Lord gave me: I brought back Agag, king of Amalek, and I completely destroyed the Amalekites. The troops took sheep and cattle from the plunder--the best of what was set apart for destruction—to sacrifice to the Lord your God at Gilgal.”
1 Samuel 15:20-21
Saul simply picked and chose the pieces of God's direction which he liked and ignored the rest. Then he blamed the troops, and covered with... oh, and we were going to give them as a sacrifice to YOUR God.
Amazing how we can do that as humans. Only hear what we want to hear.
I'll admit that I do it. Like, Wait... what God? I didn't catch that last part, I was too busy thinking about myself and what I'd do with all I've achieved.
And God, our unchangeable truth is looking down at me thinking, Wait... what? Didn't I give you success, achievement and all that stuff around you?
Because what He asks is not always easy.
And obedience is not always the most fun thing.
And while God doesn't change His mind about truth, He can still change the outcome based on my obedience. And that's what happened to Saul.
For God said to Samuel...
“I regret that I made Saul king, for he has turned away from following Me and has not carried out My instructions.”
1 Samuel 15:11
But this is not the same type of regret we experience. For we regret negative things in our life... things we did do... and things we didn't.
But God regrets giving good blessings which we don't value or acknowledge to Him, and then He has to take them from us because of our disobedience. He still loves us. He still pursues our hearts. But consequences of our actions can change the blessings we receive.
For Saul it was losing his entire kingdom... his future.
Just as swiftly as God made him king, He unmade him.
Just as quick as He gave Saul victory, He took it away.
Let us realize... I mean really take to heart the meaning of truth. Let us make wise choices based on obedience, rather than trusting our fickle feelings for the day.
For our God is a good God who desires to bless His children. And even though we may not understand in the moment, we can goose to obey and trust that He is our Unchangeable Truth for eternity.
Since the beginning of time, God has been our Determined Pursuer.
It was never His desire that Adam and Eve leave the Garden and His presence. But since they disobeyed, He could no longer allow them to dwell in His holy place. But that has not stopped Him from pursing the hearts of men ever since.
Because due to that first sin, we are born into sin... each one of us. So over, and over, and over again, God has pursued us.
This is just one instance where the prophet Samuel anointed Israel's first king. He knew it was not best for them, but they insisted. So God let them have their way, even though He knew they were rejecting Him as King.
When the people recalled their past and how God had repeatedly rescued them from oppression, they realized their sin..
They pleaded with Samuel, “Pray to the Lord your God for your servants, so we won’t die! For we have added to all our sins the evil of requesting a king for ourselves.”
Samuel replied, “Don’t be afraid. Even though you have committed all this evil, don’t turn away from following the Lord.
Instead, worship the Lord with all your heart. Don’t turn away to follow worthless things that can’t profit or deliver you; they are worthless. The Lord will not abandon His people, because of His great name and because He has determined to make you His own people.
1 Samuel 12:19-22
And this wisdom-filled advice from Samuel is still valid today. For when we are in need, God is waiting for us to turn to Him, to confess our sin and ask for help.
Make no mistake, He is a gentleman and He will not force His way upon you. He is gentle and kind, only wanting our hearts to say YES to Him, and NO to the world.
We can come unafraid, no matter our past, even though we have committed sin. We are actually NO surprise to God. He knows it all anyway, why not admit it to Him.
Follow the Lord.
Worship Him with all your heart.
Turn from following worthless things.
The Lord will not abandon you.
Let us not place human attributes on our God. For even if people have proven to let you down, that does not mean God will. He is trustworthy. He is reliable. He is ever-ready to rescue you.
I know sometimes it's easy to say, "Well, if He's going to pursue me, then I'll put it off until tomorrow. God is patient, He will wait."
And that is an option. But if the things of this world are worthless and will not profit us, why wait? He has so much more in store for us than we could ever imagine.
So, don't wait.
Call upon His great name today.
He is Our Determined Pursuer.
The people of Israel were far from God. They had allowed the pagans who remained in their promise land to influence their hearts. And God allowed their enemies, the Philistines, to take over and oppress them.
Soon, it was more than they could handle. They were losing battles. they were discouraged and defeated. So they sought the prophet Samuel to cry out to the Lord on their behalf. And Samuel spoke honestly about what they must do.
Seeking God is a wonderful first step. But if we want to return to Him with a whole heart, it requires sacrifice. We must rid ourselves of influences which keep us distracted. For God wants our worship... not part of us, not a piece of our day, not a wedge of our devotion. God wants us to put Him first, before the things of the world.
First in our relationships.
First in our day.
First in our job.
First in our finances.
First in our heart, mind and soul.
Then He will rescue us from whatever oppresses us in life. Then He will protect and guide our thoughts, our emotions, our desires.
It's clear that God does not want to be part of our lives. He wants to be a priority in our hearts. Then all the other pieces will fall into place. Then we will live in peace from what burdens, distracts and distorts our peace.
If you feel far from God, He did not move.
Cry out to Him.
For He is READY to RESCUE.
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