I Samuel 31–The Legacy of a Villain

 There is little to say about the Legacy of Saul.  It is in a word—the Legacy of any man, culture or nation that attempts to run their lives independent of God.  During their lives, there is anger and selfishness.  The more distance that is placed between the leader and God, the more self-centered and self-destructive the leader becomes.  Finally in the end, all that is left is fear and lonliness.  Amazingly this is true for individuals, families, people groups or nations.

In our lives, we each have the opportunity, to have a personal relationship with God. When we turn to him, we experience a rich and meaningful life despite trials and circumstance.  The opposite is also true—without the relationship, there is only emptiness and lonliness.  A total lack of hope.  This is true no matter the material condition or cultural position.  God told us that seeking him , will allow him to add all we could ever want or need.

My dear friend used to ask me…”Smitty, is Jesus Christ enough?” I have grown to realize that if He is—He is no matter what circumstance we face.  But, if He is not—there is nothing else that will ever satisfy or completely meet the desires of our heart—In Short—Christ must be enough or nothing else will be.  And sadly, that is the legacy of a villan.

God Bless You

Saul groaned to his armor bearer, “Take your sword and kill me before these pagan Philistines come to run me through and taunt and torture me.”

But his armor bearer was afraid and would not do it. So Saul took his own sword and fell on it. When his armor bearer realized that Saul was dead, he fell on his own sword and died beside the king. So Saul, his three sons, his armor bearer, and his troops all died together that same day.

When the Israelites on the other side of the Jezreel Valley and beyond the Jordan saw that the Israelite army had fled and that Saul and his sons were dead, they abandoned their towns and fled. So the Philistines moved in and occupied their towns.

The next day, when the Philistines went out to strip the dead, they found the bodies of Saul and his three sons on Mount Gilboa. So they cut off Saul’s head and stripped off his armor. Then they proclaimed the good news of Saul’s death in their pagan temple and to the people throughout the land of Philistia. 10 They placed his armor in the temple of the Ashtoreths, and they fastened his body to the wall of the city of Beth-shan.

Servant Leader–I Samuel 30

David kept his character in tact.  God sent him from battle but to the rescue of his people.  He was protected and all his people delivered.  Then the real test came. His men were ready to pass judgement on men who did not go to battle. Technically, the men were justified–no risk no return.  But David understood the importance of grace in leadership.  He made a law that spoils were to be distributed fairly between those on the front line and those supporting troops from behind.

As leaders, we must be sensitive not only to the leadership of God, but the leadership of others.  We must exercise the same grace as we have been shown.  It is easy, to be ready to judge when we are in charge, but God has clearly stated that grace and humility are to guide the heart of a leader. The leader that follows God’s plan will build a group loyal for life and will be blessed in ways only God can bless us. 

God Bless You

16 He led David down, and there they were, scattered over the countryside, eating, drinking and reveling because of the great amount of plunder they had taken from the land of the Philistines and from Judah. 17 David fought them from dusk until the evening of the next day, and none of them got away, except four hundred young men who rode off on camels and fled. 18 David recovered everything the Amalekites had taken, including his two wives. 19 Nothing was missing: young or old, boy or girl, plunder or anything else they had taken. David brought everything back. 20 He took all the flocks and herds, and his men drove them ahead of the other livestock, saying, “This is David’s plunder.”

21 Then David came to the two hundred men who had been too exhausted to follow him and who were left behind at the Besor Valley. They came out to meet David and the men with him. As David and his men approached, he asked them how they were. 22 But all the evil men and troublemakers among David’s followers said, “Because they did not go out with us, we will not share with them the plunder we recovered. However, each man may take his wife and children and go.”

23 David replied, “No, my brothers, you must not do that with what the Lord has given us. He has protected us and delivered into our hands the raiding party that came against us. 24 Who will listen to what you say? The share of the man who stayed with the supplies is to be the same as that of him who went down to the battle. All will share alike.” 25 David made this a statute and ordinance for Israel from that day to this.

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Sometimes God Saves Us His Way –I Samuel 29

 Sometimes God saves us in a way and time we would never expect.  David was in a very difficult position.  He was trusted by the Philistine King but had no desire to fight his people Israel.  It seemed as though the ruse he had accomplished for years was now over and David would have to fight Israel or die…But, then God showed up.  He pulled David’s army out of the battle for him. The Philistine leaders sent him home.  He could not be accused of betraying them nor attacking Israel. A true win/win for David and Israel

In our journey, there are many times we find ourselves in tough spots.  It seems that the decision we have to make is hopeless.  But, in those times as we pray and seek him, he comes through at the last moment with a solution that only he could have derived.  It is often amazing and perfect—as is our Lord.  We can never—EVER quit trusting God for our lives.  He will lead, guide and direct our paths if only we allow it.  Then in those times when the battle rages and seeming Chaos is king—we can humbly wait for his direction as we follow him closely and daily.

God Bless You

But the Philistine commanders were angry. “Send him back to the town you’ve given him!” they demanded. “He can’t go into the battle with us. What if he turns against us in battle and becomes our adversary? Is there any better way for him to reconcile himself with his master than by handing our heads over to him? Isn’t this the same David about whom the women of Israel sing in their dances,

‘Saul has killed his thousands,
and David his ten thousands’?”

So Achish finally summoned David and said to him, “I swear by the Lord that you have been a trustworthy ally. I think you should go with me into battle, for I’ve never found a single flaw in you from the day you arrived until today. But the other Philistine rulers won’t hear of it. Please don’t upset them, but go back quietly.”

I Samuel 28–Reaping and Sowing

You reap what you have sown. Saul had separated farther and farther from God.  He was so distant that he had no answers regarding how to lead God’s people.  He chased off God’s anointed, he drove God’s prophet to the grave—So now in his hour of need he violated His own law and used a medium tocall back Samuel.  Samuel’s words were clear—You are not God’s King and you have pushed his army out of favor and into defeat…and you are going to die.  Saul was neither expecting this truth nor ready to deal with it.

 

In our journeys, we need to align with the Lord’s plan, seek his ace and walk humbly in his love.  As we do he will protect, provide and lead us.  If we do not, he will allow us to live independent of him and face the outcome of that kind of life. No matter how difficult, walking with him is always the better choice.  He tells us to seek him first and he will provide the needs and direction for ou lives.  He loves us and wants only the best for us.  Help me Lord to humbly follow you.

 

God Bless You

“Why have you disturbed me by calling me back?” Samuel asked Saul.

“Because I am in deep trouble,” Saul replied. “The Philistines are at war with me, and God has left me and won’t reply by prophets or dreams. So I have called for you to tell me what to do.”

16 But Samuel replied, “Why ask me, since the Lord has left you and has become your enemy? 17 The Lord has done just as he said he would. He has torn the kingdom from you and given it to your rival, David. 18 The Lord has done this to you today because you refused to carry out his fierce anger against the Amalekites. 19 What’s more, the Lord will hand you and the army of Israel over to the Philistines tomorrow, and you and your sons will be here with me. The Lord will bring down the entire army of Israel in defeat.”

20 Saul fell full length on the ground, paralyzed with fright because of Samuel’s words. He was also faint with hunger, for he had eaten nothing all day and all night.

21 When the woman saw how distraught he was, she said, “Sir, I obeyed your command at the risk of my life. 22 Now do what I say, and let me give you a little something to eat so you can regain your strength for the trip back.”

23 But Saul refused to eat anything. Then his advisers joined the woman in urging him to eat, so he finally yielded and got up from the ground and sat on the couch.

24 The woman had been fattening a calf, so she hurried out and killed it. She took some flour, kneaded it into dough and baked unleavened bread. 25 She brought the meal to Saul and his advisers, and they ate it. Then they went out into the night.

I Samuel 27–Adapting

Adapting—When men of God are passing through trials, they are often pressed to adjust their lives to meet the daily challenges.  Sometimes those adaptations seem unbearable and untenable.  To live among the enemy to survive by any means possible—all the while seeking to honor God and keep their charge,  David was chased out of Israel and forced to live among his enemies.  To survive he became a raider and pillaged enemies of Israel .  He lied to the king that gave him asylum and he did all could to keep his commitment to God and Israel.

In our lives we are also put in positions in time of trial that seem untenable.  Job loss, family issues and health issues that drive us from our comfortable lives into places that we struggle to survive.  But while we may be misplaced we can still hold fast to our identity in Christ and our charge to follow him. We simply have to face each day by realizing he us God and He has a plan for our lives.  Even when that plan seems difficult, we still follow him and trust him to meet our needs.  If we will do that, he will honor our commitment and assist us in facing the trials set before us.  We simply continue to seek him, read his word and follow his lead.   It may require us to adapt to a different life, but we can trust him to protect, provide and grant us peace in our lives.

God Bless You

But David kept thinking to himself, “Someday Saul is going to get me. The best thing I can do is escape to the Philistines. Then Saul will stop hunting for me in Israelite territory, and I will finally be safe.”

So David took his 600 men and went over and joined Achish son of Maoch, the king of Gath. David and his men and their families settled there with Achish at Gath. David brought his two wives along with him—Ahinoam from Jezreel and Abigail, Nabal’s widow from Carmel. Word soon reached Saul that David had fled to Gath, so he stopped hunting for him.

One day David said to Achish, “If it is all right with you, we would rather live in one of the country towns instead of here in the royal city.”

So Achish gave him the town of Ziklag (which still belongs to the kings of Judah to this day), and they lived there among the Philistines for a year and four months.

David and his men spent their time raiding the Geshurites, the Girzites, and the Amalekites—people who had lived near Shur, toward the land of Egypt, since ancient times. David did not leave one person alive in the villages he attacked. He took the sheep, goats, cattle, donkeys, camels, and clothing before returning home to see King Achish.

I Samuel 26–Opportunity vs Mandate

David had another opportunity to kill Saul. His men were ready to be free from danger, he was tired of running, he had shown again and again he would remain faithful to the Lord—Still, He knew that God would not honor his killing of Saul. He knew it would only cause division in Israel and a barrier between he and God.  David again took the high road and made apparent to Saul and his men that he could have killed Saul and defeated them—but that was not God’s plan.

Opportunity is often confused with mandate.  We obtain opportunities to do things, receive gifts or advance our wills and rather than seeking God’s face on whether the opportunity is from him. We plunge ahead without prayer or counsel. The results often have short term pleasure but long term chaos. 

David was anointed with God’s spirit.  He listened to God’s direction for his life.  As he did, God blessed and protected him.  He continued to bolster his name even when the King attempted to ruin it.  If we would be willing to trust God for our decisions, if we would be willing to wait upon him for direction—He promises to honor that in a big way.  Isaiah 40 says, “Those who wait upon the Lord will renew their strength—they will mount up with wings like eagles. They will run and not grow weary they will walk and not faint.”  In Proverbs 3 it says, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, lean not on your own understanding, acknowledge him in all your ways and he will make your path straight.”

It is never the wrong answer to wait on God.  It is difficult, draining and often grueling.  But, history and his word remind us it is always worth it.

God Bless You

“God has surely handed your enemy over to you this time!” Abishai whispered to David. “Let me pin him to the ground with one thrust of the spear; I won’t need to strike twice!”

“No!” David said. “Don’t kill him. For who can remain innocent after attacking the Lord’s anointed one? 10 Surely the Lord will strike Saul down someday, or he will die of old age or in battle. 11 The Lord forbid that I should kill the one he has anointed! But take his spear and that jug of water beside his head, and then let’s get out of here!” 12 So David took the spear and jug of water that were near Saul’s head. Then he and Abishai got away without anyone seeing them or even waking up, because the Lord had put Saul’s men into a deep sleep. 13 David climbed the hill opposite the camp until he was at a safe distance. 14 Then he shouted down to the soldiers and to Abner son of Ner, “Wake up, Abner!”

“Who is it?” Abner demanded.

15 “Well, Abner, you’re a great man, aren’t you?” David taunted. “Where in all Israel is there anyone as mighty? So why haven’t you guarded your master the king when someone came to kill him? 16 This isn’t good at all! I swear by the Lord that you and your men deserve to die, because you failed to protect your master, the Lord’s anointed! Look around! Where are the king’s spear and the jug of water that were beside his head?”

17 Saul recognized David’s voice and called out, “Is that you, my son David?”

I Samuel 25 continued–Sacrifice Saves

Abigail did not know David.  She had no reason to believe her plea would make a difference.  But, her wisdom caused her to make amends and attempt to right what her husband had botched up.  She was honest, vulnerable and confident that God would protect her…and he did.  What an amazing story .

In our lives we are sometimes faced with situations that are not of our making. We are left to clean up messes left by those around us.  While it is easier to ignore them or convince ourselves that it is not our problem—often, a contrite heart and an honest spirit can repair the damage even when done by others.  God demonstrated his love for us in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.  As we live like him, we lead sacrificial lives.  We are ready to step out to serve others whether they deserve it or not.  Like David, God will honor such a life.

God Bless You

18 Abigail wasted no time. She quickly gathered 200 loaves of bread, two wineskins full of wine, five sheep that had been slaughtered, nearly a bushel[b] of roasted grain, 100 clusters of raisins, and 200 fig cakes. She packed them on donkeys 19 and said to her servants, “Go on ahead. I will follow you shortly.” But she didn’t tell her husband Nabal what she was doing.

20 As she was riding her donkey into a mountain ravine, she saw David and his men coming toward her. 21 David had just been saying, “A lot of good it did to help this fellow. We protected his flocks in the wilderness, and nothing he owned was lost or stolen. But he has repaid me evil for good. 22 May God strike me and kill me[c] if even one man of his household is still alive tomorrow morning!”

23 When Abigail saw David, she quickly got off her donkey and bowed low before him. 24 She fell at his feet and said, “I accept all blame in this matter, my lord. Please listen to what I have to say. 25 I know Nabal is a wicked and ill-tempered man; please don’t pay any attention to him. He is a fool, just as his name suggests.[d] But I never even saw the young men you sent…32 David replied to Abigail, “Praise the Lord, the God of Israel, who has sent you to meet me today! 33 Thank God for your good sense! Bless you for keeping me from murder and from carrying out vengeance with my own hands. 34 For I swear by the Lord, the God of Israel, who has kept me from hurting you, that if you had not hurried out to meet me, not one of Nabal’s men would still be alive tomorrow morning.” 35 Then David accepted her present and told her, “Return home in peace. I have heard what you said. We will not kill your husband.”