I grew up hearing stories of King David as I am sure many of you did as well. He was portrayed as the great warrior that defeated Goliath. David became the King of Israel that reigned for many years and expanded the kingdom while at the same time uniting the nation. He was a prolific song writer and musician as we can see in the Psalms. David was clearly a key figure in the history of Israel that is intended to speak into our lives today.
All I have previously said about David is absolutely true and is packed with lessons for our lives right now. But there is also a dark side to David. If you are not aware of this part of his life, I will just state it like this – David wasn’t perfect by any stretch of the imagination. Part of David’s life journey includes adultery, murder and leading a conspiracy that forced others to play a part in murder. There is also a fairly large amount of evidence to indicate that he was not a very good father. Finally, David chose to take a census that explicitly disobeyed God and his motivation appears to be feeding his pride. You can read about all this in the Old Testament History Books of Samuel, Kings and Chronicles.
Through all the ups and downs of David we land on God’s summary of David in the New Testament book of Acts to truly understand King David.
“After removing Saul, he made David their king. He testified concerning him: ‘I have found David son of Jesse a man after my own heart; he will do everything I want him to do.’” [13.22]
Even though David needed a Savior just like us we can clearly see the desires of his heart in the Psalms he wrote. Here are a few examples for us to consider.
David was passionate about obeying and serving the Lord. He undeniably did it imperfectly but God always perfectly brought David back. This is precisely what God wants to do in our lives today. David was a man of God living in grace and truth used greatly by his God.
In Grace and Truth,
I have always cheered for the underdog in sporting events unless my home team is the one picked to win. There is just something in me that is drawn to a person or a team defeating the expected victors. I am guessing that many of you have that same tendency. To a certain extent it is about not quitting; giving it all you’ve got even when it isn’t looking very promising. Don’t give in and never give up!
Most of my life I considered David and Goliath a story about the underdog winning. I am guessing that you might have looked at it the same way. David was just a young shepherd boy from the tiny town of Bethlehem. The words that come to mind as I think of David are “scrappy” and “tenacious”. Nice words but then there is Goliath and there are words like – “huge” and “warrior.” It is in light of that reality that I came to the conclusion that this is an underdog story but I was wrong. I had framed this familiar story completely wrong.
The story should be framed like this. Goliath was an incredibly powerful and enormous man. He was an experienced soldier who created fear in virtually all who stood against him as they looked at his size, his sword and his spear. He was fearless as he mocked his enemies who quaked with fear in his presence. Goliath was a force to be reckoned with!
So the stage is set.
With this as the backdrop God calls David to stand before Goliath as His representative. David understands this very clearly and that is why he speaks the way he does in I Samuel 17.45-47.
David said to the Philistine, “You come against me with sword and spear and javelin, but I come against you in the name of the LORD Almighty, the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defied. This day the LORD will deliver you into my hands…and the whole world will know that there is a God in Israel. All those gathered here will know that it is not by sword or spear that the LORD saves; for the battle is the LORD’s, and he will give all of you into our hands.”
It is vitally important that we understand that this is the same backdrop in which we live out our days. Though the forces standing against the Kingdom of God seem strong and capable of destruction, they all pale into insignificance when they attempt to defeat the eternal promises of God that we have been given. God will prevail today just as He did in the days of David. Though it may seem dark at the moment the conquering Light of Jesus’ Cross and Resurrection will always be victorious in the end.
In God’s Care,
I just returned from Inspiration Point Bible Camp where I have spent the last few days teaching in their CheckPoint program. It is a year-long discipleship and ministry training program. The students spend time studying God’s Word, serving, and developing ministry tools. One of the interesting components of the program is to develop “practical” ministry tools such as car maintenance, cooking for groups, financial planning and home maintenance skills like electrical trouble-shooting, etc. A typical day for the students could include an in-depth morning study on the Holy Spirit, followed by preparing lunch for 25 people, spending the afternoon roofing a building and then off to an evening of ministry to children and youth. I love this program.
The reason for the broad set of tools in the program is that all of life is a ministry opportunity to serve and bring others into contact with God and His people. These young adults can confidently start a monthly meal program for the community, help a neighbor change the oil in their car and teach someone what the Bible tells us following Jesus is all about. The CheckPointers will leave this program with lives that have a passion to serve the Lord as well as a confidence that they are equipped to do what God has called them to do.
To fully accomplish this, the students need to be willing to listen; not just hear but listen. There needs to be a humility that enjoys the fact that others can teach me. I have been blessed by seeing their hunger to acquire more so that they can serve and love better. The students want to live their lives in a way that the Kingdom of God grows and Jesus is proclaimed. But to live a full and expanding life like this requires a receptiveness to continually listen with a sense of expectancy.
This Sunday’s message will be on God’s call of Samuel. Samuel is the key figure chosen by God to transition from the period of the Judges of Israel to the Kings of Israel. He was a young boy living in the House of the Lord in Shiloh during a time of half-hearted passion for God. The connection to and acknowledgement of God’s reign throughout Israel was largely going through the motions. God was about to change that through the calling and subsequent life of Samuel.
In I Samuel 3.10 we see that God called out to Samuel and he listened.
It was in this simple reality that things began to change for Samuel and Israel. God was able to use one life in such a significant way that many lives were impacted. We clearly see in the pages of Scripture that as Samuel lived out his days he was a very good listener – of God and people.
It is really no different for any of us today. There is much for us to listen to as we live out our days. We are in need of a great deal of listening in relation to God. He speaks to us through the Bible and through the Spirit that lives within us. We also can grow in effectiveness in ministry as we listen to others. Finally, we grow in our ability to connect to the world that Jesus loves as we listen to our neighbors.
So, I invite you and encourage you to listen with expectancy. This means that God is revealing Himself to you as well as using you in His Kingdom. This is a key element of what life is about for God’s family.
As I read the story of Samson in Judges, chapters 13-16, I am amazed, encouraged, and warned concerning the importance of getting the truth and not letting go of it. Samson was sent by God to be a deliverer that would point us to Jesus as our eternal deliverer. The angel of the Lord came and told them they would have a son and the son was to be dedicated to the Lord from birth. Unlike Jesus, however, he did not live his life in perfect obedience to God. But that did not prevent God from still accomplishing what He planned. God is a sovereign redeeming God.
Right off the bat we see Samson long for a girl that his parents do not want him to have and that goes against his Nazirite calling in the first place. Still he insisted and, as we see, God was able to use his misdirected lust to accomplish the first step of Israel’s deliverance. Scripture says the Lord was at work. God did not need Samson to go against his parents and his heritage in order to deliver Israel, but it is nice to know that God can and will accomplish what He plans and at times it is in spite of our actions. So, while I see Samson’s mistakes, I am encouraged that God is able even when we are wrong, and warned of the dangers of compromising the truth.
We would think that Samson would learn after the trouble that his rebellion caused, but as we read on we see that obviously he did not. He moves on to prostitutes and falling for Delilah whom he allows to betray him not once but four times, and finally the last time he actually gives her the information that resulted ultimately in his death.
I have to wonder why in the world he did not run away the first time she betrayed him. But then I think, why do we stumble into sin and then justify it. Why do we become weak and lose sight of the truth time and time again until we are spiritually blind before we will finally cry out from the prison we are locked in and ask God to rescue us.
Every word in the Bible is what we need. Sometimes, as in the story of Samson, we are met by our savior God as well as a stern warning. We are invited to read and hear God’s Word so that we live by grace and faith in God’s power. The Word of God is good and it is the Truth!
May God’s Spirit stir in us today.
Pastor Nick Mundis