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Archive for February, 2013

ImageAs a result of David’s need of provisions for himself and his men, God has given him…two more wives (1 Samuel 25:43-44.)  His first wife, Michal, had betrayed him and Saul has now given her to another man.

David also took Ahinoam of Jezreel, and both of them became his wives. 44 Saul had given Michal his daughter, David’s wife, to Palti the son of Laish, who was of Gallim. 

Then the Ziphites came to Saul at Gibeah, saying, “Is not David hiding himself on the hill of Hachilah, which is on the east of Jeshimon?” So Saul arose and went down to the wilderness of Ziph with three thousand chosen men of Israel to seek David in the wilderness of Ziph. And Saul encamped on the hill of Hachilah, which is beside the road on the east of Jeshimon. But David remained in the wilderness. When he saw that Saul came after him into the wilderness, David sent out spies and learned that Saul had indeed come. Then David rose and came to the place where Saul had encamped. And David saw the place where Saul lay, with Abner the son of Ner, the commander of his army. Saul was lying within the encampment, while the army was encamped around him. ~1 Samuel 25:43-26:5

So let’s just get this straight…the man needs provisions and God gives him more responsibility.  He needs food and God gives him more mouths to feed.  Not to mention the fact that he is still in the barren wilderness without the means to obtain what he desperately needs on his own.  He simply cannot provide it for himself.  His would-be friends, the Ziphites, are still his enemies.  Saul, his king who had put away his rage against him for a moment, is now pursuing him full force once again. (more…)

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ImageI’m a runner.  Well, if we’re being honest, we’ll just say I’m a jogger.  I don’t run fast, I run long. I used to be fast-er, but never fast enough to keep up with the “real” athletes.  Nevertheless, my dining room is full of medals and trophies that would easily convince you otherwise.

Sometimes I take the kids to the kids’ runs.  They’ve all got piles of ribbons and medals, too.  You’d think we were Olympians by the looks of our combined stockpile.  But the truth is that I’m skeptically hoping to run a 4:30 marathon in the spring and my kids, at the ages of 3, 5, and 7, are already bored of running “races.”

The problem is not that we haven’t been encouraged and pep talked enough.  It’s that we’ve been praised and pitied far too much.  The lack of freedom to fail in our society is ubiquitous.  There’s just no dignity in winning when you simply cannot lose.

No one can fail.  Every child gets a winner ribbon.  Every adult gets a completion medal.  Every school child is told that they are especially gifted while the teachers are made to teach down to the lowest common denominator in the class.  We are severely plagued by the fully accepted, ever-achievable status quo and the worship of it has created nothing less than a sleepy complacency in those whose raw potential has never even been acknowledged.   No one ever loses.  Then again, no one ever really wins, either.

Why strive when you’re not allowed to be better than the careless underachiever who’s going to end up with the same props you are?  Yeah, we have become a loser-less society.  As a result, we’ve also become a winner-less one.  Why?  Because telling someone they cannot win often inspires them to strive hard to prove themselves.  Telling someone they cannot lose creates apathy and robs them of the desire to compete.

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foolDavid and his men are in the wilderness following the death of the prophet Samuel.  They began to be in need and David sent out ten young men to ask for provision from a very rich local.  1 Samuel 25 records the account of this rich man and David.

And there was a man in Maon whose business was in Carmel. The man was very rich; he had three thousand sheep and a thousand goats. He was shearing his sheep in Carmel. 3 Now the name of the man was Nabal, and the name of his wife Abigail. The woman was discerning and beautiful, but the man was harsh and badly behaved; he was a Calebite. ~1 Samuel 25:2-3

Here, we are told that Nabal, meaning “folly,” was very rich, harsh, and badly behaved.  As the story unfolds, we’re shown that he is greedy and vicious (1 Samuel 25:11.)  Nabal was so steeped in his own selfishness and wickedness that one could not even hold a reasonable conversation with him (1 Samuel 25:17.)  As his name implied, Nabal was truly a fool.

The unsuspecting David sends his men to this brute beast for help.

I hear that you have shearers. Now your shepherds have been with us, and we did them no harm, and they missed nothing all the time they were in Carmel. ~1 Samuel 25:7

This language implies that David had ample military means and might to take whatsoever he wanted from Nabal at any given time.  Yet, instead of stealing or oppressing this man, he has protected the land and does absolutely no harm to him or his estate.  Nevertheless, when David’s men come, this is Nabal’s response: (more…)

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ImageFor a moment, there is peace between David and Saul.  Saul has been humbled by David’s goodness towards him and gone weeping to his own house.  Just when it seems that David might get a short reprieve from his troubles, another hardship comes upon him unexpectedly.

 Now Samuel died. And all Israel assembled and mourned for him, and they buried him in his house at Ramah.

Then David rose and went down to the wilderness of Paran.~1 Samuel 25:1

Samuel dies.  Samuel, the one who had instructed Israel so well.  This was the good and godly prophet whom they had wholly rejected.  Now, because of their own disobedience to God and selfish ambition, they were left with the choice to either follow the wicked Saul whom they had chosen, or become vagrants with David.  Surely they know what they’ve done by now.  Therefore, they mourn.  The consequences of sin often involve tremendous grief and guilt. (more…)

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ImageGod had put Saul at the mercy of David and, instead of killing him, David successfully proves his innocence to Saul.  David was no more willing to kill Saul and take the throne by force than the man in the moon.  He was less likely to take revenge or repay evil for evil than an Amish man.  The level of patience David had to wait on God’s justice, his trust in God, and his respect for even his worst enemy worked together to humble Saul to the uttermost.

As soon as David had finished speaking these words to Saul, Saul said, “Is this your voice, my son David?” And Saul lifted up his voice and wept. 17 He said to David, “You are more righteous than I, for you have repaid me good, whereas I have repaid you evil. 18 And you have declared this day how you have dealt well with me, in that you did not kill me when the Lord put me into your hands. 19 For if a man finds his enemy, will he let him go away safe? So may the Lord reward you with good for what you have done to me this day. 20 And now, behold, I know that you shall surely be king, and that the kingdom of Israel shall be established in your hand.21 Swear to me therefore by the Lord that you will not cut off my offspring after me, and that you will not destroy my name out of my father’s house.” 22 And David swore this to Saul. Then Saul went home, but David and his men went up to the stronghold. ~1 Samuel 24:16-22

Saul calls David “son.”  He cries.  He praises David and puts himself down.  He simply can’t believe the generosity and righteousness David possessed – even towards him – a wretch.  Saul knows David will reign as king.  He knows David’s day is surely coming.  He even goes so far as to plead for mercy in that day.  And then he leaves.

No fighting.  No contest.  Just like that, Saul quits his most fierce and fervent design and he goes home.  Like a neutered dog, David’s amazing love and respect emasculates Saul’s most wanton desires. (more…)

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zombieEverywhere I go I see them.   Often I am one of them.  People living through their phones.

You know what I’m talking about.  The question is why?

Pastor calls it escapism; a refusal to think.  Others blame boredom.  Sometimes our addiction is legitimate – like when we need a map or to check the weather.  But, really folks, how did we get to a place in our society where we possess neither the desire nor the ability to converse with the person standing in front of us?

I mean, we’ve got couples dating their phones as they sit together at dinner.  We’ve got children who’ve ceased to beg for attention and succumbed to joining our zombified club with ipods and ipads of their own.  When we’re at the bus stop we’re scrolling instead of acquainting ourselves with one another.  When we’re crammed into sporting events we’ve got precious little conversation, but we’ve got entertainment scheduled down to the second for us as we wait for the next play.

Why?  Are we really this dense?  What in cursed camp cyberspace in wrong with us?

Perhaps Dr. Benjamin Carson has part of the answer for us.  This is what he said at the presidential prayer breakfast on February 7, 2013:

“…PC (political correctness) is dangerous.  This country, one of the founding principles, was freedom of thought and freedom of expression, and it (political correctness) muffles people.  It puts a muzzle on them.  And at the same time, it keeps people from discussing important issues while the fabric of their society is being changed.  We cannot fall for that trick.  And what we need to do is start talking about things.  Things that are important…”

I think we’re scared.  Yes, we’re lazy.  But more than that, we’re scared.  From the stranger at the bus stop to the person sitting in front of us at church to the child under our supervision, we’re afraid to share ourselves.  We desperately fear rejection because we’ve been indoctrinated with a gospel of silence.  Don’t ask, don’t tell, and then no one will hurt you or hate you, right?  Even a fool is thought wise if he keeps silent.  Let’s all just be quiet and stare at our phones.  That way, no one will know what we think, how we feel, or how bad we suck – unless, of course, we post it on facebook.  As if a person who stares a piece of plastic all day isn’t a moron.

Here’s the problem with that philosophy – a few people are still talking.  It’s the bullies.  The oppressors.  The ones who decided we should all be quiet in the first place.  Should we let them intimidate us into mindless silence under the guise of amuzement?  I think not.

And maybe that’s just another excuse.  It probably is, in fact.  If so, do not accept it.  Challenge me.  Refute me.  Dialogue with me.  Do it to my face, not my phone, though.

Carson said that if we stop accepting excuses, eventually people will stop making them.  Either way, let’s learn to examine our lives more often than we examine our phones.  Let’s remind ourselves to think critically about everything we’re fed by the media, the church, the government, and the next-door neighbor.  Let’s consider where and with whom we have influence and be purposeful within our sphere of influence – whether we’re in the elevator, the grocery store, the football game, or the kids’ ballet lesson.  Let’s determine who (not what) it is that needs our attention and offer it generously.  Let’s ask ourselves religiously, just what will we give the God of the Universe in return for the commodity called “time” that he’s give us in tremendous grace today?  Let’s put away fear.  Let’s learn how to love again.

 There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not been perfected in love. ~1 John 4:18

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Pe-Eosmk6oE

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respectInstead of Saul’s head, David carries a piece of his robe out of the cave where God had orchestrated their meeting.  Herein lies David’s defense:

Afterward David also arose and went out of the cave, and called after Saul, “My lord the king!” And when Saul looked behind him, David bowed with his face to the earth and paid homage. 9 And David said to Saul, “Why do you listen to the words of men who say, ‘Behold, David seeks your harm’? 10 Behold, this day your eyes have seen how the Lord gave you today into my hand in the cave. And some told me to kill you, but I spared you. I said, ‘I will not put out my hand against my lord, for he is the Lord’s anointed.’ 11 See, my father, see the corner of your robe in my hand. For by the fact that I cut off the corner of your robe and did not kill you, you may know and see that there is no wrong or treason in my hands. I have not sinned against you, though you hunt my life to take it. 12 May the Lord judge between me and you, may the Lord avenge me against you, but my hand shall not be against you. 13 As the proverb of the ancients says, ‘Out of the wicked comes wickedness.’ But my hand shall not be against you. 14 After whom has the king of Israel come out? After whom do you pursue? After a dead dog! After a flea! 15 May the Lord therefore be judge and give sentence between me and you, and see to it and plead my cause and deliver me from your hand.” ~1 Samuel 24:8-15

Notice how David speaks to Saul.  Twice he addresses him as “my lord,” once as “the Lord’s anointed,” and once as “my father.”  Knowing full well that Saul’s personal ambition is to kill him in cold blood, David even goes so far as to remove Saul’s guilt by suggesting that other men have convinced him to hunt him down as prey.  The respect David is paying to his enemy is nothing short of amazing.  Only grace can teach us to do the same. (more…)

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