Category Archives: I Samuel

You’re asking the wrong question

I Samuel 14: 6

Jonathan said to his young armor bearer, “Come, let’s go over to the outpost of those uncircumcised fellows.  Perhaps the LORD will act in our behalf.  Nothing can hinder the LORD from saving whether by many or by few.” NIV

It’s February.

I began this journey last February, while I was in the midst of a Beth Moore study.  It is so fitting that I’ll finish this February, in the midst of another.  Last night, the women of my church began to study, “David – A Heart Like His.”  I am so looking forward to this study.  David is my very favorite person in the Bible.

But, we’ve begun by looking at the faith of others who would touch and shape David’s life.  We spent the first day of our homework with Jonathan.

In this verse, he is young, and has set off on an adventure, alone with only his armor bearer.

As he and his young companion creep up on the Philistine camp, he says, “Perhaps the LORD will act in our behalf.  Nothing can hinder the LORD from saving whether by many or by few.”

Nothing can hinder the LORD!

Jonathan knows that God can accomplish anything … his only question is whether God will choose to do so.

It struck me last night as I was doing the homework that this has been a source of worry for me in the past … will God do what I want Him to do?

The joy, the freedom of the redeemed life comes in flipping the question.

Not, “Will God do what I want?”  but, “What does God want of me?”

Each day, I must ask, “How can I fall in and be helpful in God’s plan … whatever it is that He chooses to do?”

God can accomplish whatever He chooses.

That’s what I’ll think about today

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Filed under I Samuel, Old Testament, Worry

Check your heart

1 Samuel 29:10

“Now get up early, along with your master’s servants who have come with you, and leave in the morning as soon as it is light.” NIV

I’m traveling.  I don’t have my concordances this week, so, I’ve been fully reliant on Bible to find new reminders not to worry.  I’ve taken the opportunity to look at the word “worry” in different versions of the Bible.

This morning, I chose the God’s Word Translation, with which I am unfamiliar.  There, this verse reads, “Get up early in the morning with Saul’s servants who came with you, and go to the place I have assigned to you. Don’t worry about the unkind words, because I still approve of you. Get up in the morning, and leave when it’s light.” GWT

When I looked at the verse in the NIV, I don’t see that Achish tells David not to worry, and it’s not really evident in The Message either, which says, “So get an early start, you and men who came with you.  As soon as you have light enough to travel, go.” MSG

But, when I read the entire chapter, I can completely see that this is what Achish is saying.  Achish is allied with the Philistines at this point, and David and his men, servants of Saul, are fighting as part of Achish’s army.  The Philistines and Achish’s forces are preparing to go into battle.  The Philistine commander becomes worried that David and his men will turn against them, and he tells Achish that David must be sent away.

David is confused.  He’s done nothing to prompt Achish to doubt his loyalty.  Achish confirms this.  In verse 9, he says, “I know that you have been as pleasing in my eyes an angel of God; nevertheless, the Philistine commanders have said, ‘He must not go up with us into battle.'” NIV

Bottom line?  The Philistines are scared.  They know that David is powerful, perhaps they even realize that he is one of God’s favorites.  In their hearts, they know that they and David’s people are not strong allies, (they were arch enemies a short time before) and, it appears that they fear that if David decides against them, they will be in danger.

The interesting piece here is that David seems ignorant of the fear that his fellow soldiers might have.  In verse 8, he says to Achish, “But what have I done?  What have you found against our servant from day I came to you until now?  Why can’t I go and fight against the enemies of my lord the king?”

So, what can I learn from this?

David has a pure heart … the Philistines are afraid of him … they send him home … Achish disagrees with the Philistine commander, but sends David home anyway … as he does so, he lovingly reassures him … “don’t worry about the unkind words because I still approve of you.”

Maybe that’s it.  People may say unkind things to me or about me, but, if I have a pure heart, I shouldn’t worry about it.

That’s what I’ll think about today.

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Filed under I Samuel, Old Testament

Help others to find encouragement in God

1 Samuel 23: 16-17

And Saul’s son Jonathan went to David at Horesh and helped him find strength in God.  “Don’t be afraid,” he said.  “My father Saul will not lay a hand on you.  You will be king over Israel, and I will be second to you. Even my father Saul knows this.”  NIV

So, at this point in the story, Saul is king over Israel.  He has done something, I can’t remember what it is at the moment, but, he somehow disobeyed God, and for that, he is being replaced.  God has ordained David to be the next king, and Saul knows it.  He’s very, very angry (likely at himself if he were to be honest about it) and is hunting David down to kill him.

How often do we do that?  We take matters into our own hands to correct a situation that would not be in existence if we had just been obedient in the first place.

Saul’s actions, however, have a devastating effect on David, and lots of other people, too.  Yesterday, I found where he had killed an entire village, for goodness sake.

David is hiding out … although, he can’t be very well hidden if his best friend and brother-in-law is able to find him.  But, I love this first verse, Jonathan went to help his friend find strength in God.  I love that.  All of my strength comes from God.  I know that.  David knew that.  Saul knew that, in his heart of hearts.

But Jonathan takes it upon himself to go and find his friend and encourage him.  David is wholly in God’s will.  David has a magnificent future ahead of him.  David has allowed himself to be distracted and frightened out of his wits by his current circumstances.  But Jonathan keeps the big picture in mind and reminds David of God’s promise and God’s provision.

It is easy when things are going very poorly to allow ourselves to believe that they will never go well again.  It is at those times that we need Godly friends to help us to find encouragement in God.  And, when we see others who are struggling, it is incumbent upon us to point the way … the one true way … through Christ Jesus.

I am so thankful for the Jonathans in my life.  And, I, too, want to follow Jonathan’s example.

I will think about that today.

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Filed under Fear, I Samuel, Old Testament

Turn yourself outward

1 Samuel 23:

“Stay with me; don’t be afraid; the man who is seeking your life is seeking mine, also.  You will be safe with me.” NIV

Finally, we have come to the story of David as I work my way through the “fear nots” in my King James concordance.  David is my absolute favorite character in the Bible.  When I list the things that I am thankful for, the life and the writings of David are definitely on that list.

David was a man after God’s own heart.  He was ordained by God to be the king of Israel, and yet, he endured trials and was persecuted and feared for his life.  In this story, David is hiding out because he is being pursued by his father-in-law, Saul, who has turned against him.  Earlier in the chapter, Saul orders that an entire village of priests and their families be massacred because they prayed with David and helped him on his way and did not alert Saul to his whereabouts.

One of the sons of one of the priests, Abiathar, escaped and fled to join David.  David takes full responsibility for what happened to the boy’s family, and then tells him, “you will be safe with me.”

I love that.  David is scared to death, and yet, he takes the time to comfort and reassure one who is in need.

How often do we do that?  Are we not more likely to say, “Look, I know you have problems, but look how much bigger mine are!”

Now, in this case, Abiathar’s problems were truly huge.  Everyone in his village has just been brutally murdered, so, it might have been easier for David to reach out to him, but, I prefer to think of this an example of how we are to treat others who come to us for help or solace.  We must get outside ourselves and our own issues, and focus on the other person.

When I was a kid, I was prone to introspection … come to think of it, I still am.  When I would get down about an issue or problem and would begin worrying about it, my mother used to say, “Turn yourself outward!  There are people in  your world with real problems.  Go think about how  you can help them.”  And she would always end with this phrase, “things that turn inward on themselves collapse.”  And she was right.

To stand effectively, a building must have a firm foundation, and it must be engineered appropriately to support its weight.  Canted too much to the center, the building will not stand.

In the same way, we as Christians, must build our lives on the firm foundation of Jesus Christ and align our trust completely with Him.  We can then reach out to others to help.

I will think about that today.

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Filed under Fear, I Samuel, Old Testament

1 Samuel 12:20

“Do not be afraid,” Samuel replied.  “You have done all this evil; yet do not turn away from the Lord, but serve the Lord with all your heart.  Do not turn after useless idols.  They can do you no good, nor can they rescue you, because they are useless.  For the sake of his great name the Lord will not reject his people because the Lord was  pleased to make you his own.” NIV

Samuel says all of this in response to the Israelites, who had asked Samuel to pray to God for them, “for we have added to all our other sins, the evil of asking for a king.” (v. 19)

There is a lot of wisdom in this verse.  Sometimes, I think we just feel worn out with falling short.  It is at those times that it is easiest to give in to the worries of this world and to just say, “I give up, I can’t do this.”

But, if we take that attitude, we are allowing the enemy, and for me that is worry, to win.  We are, in fact, turning after useless idols by taking that approach, and Samuel eloquently reminds of us God’s perspective.

God knows that we will fall short, but, he still expects us to serve Him with all of our hearts.  He will not forsake us, no matter how poorly we execute the plan, because He was pleased to make us His own.

There is a powerful amount of encouragement in these verses.  I will think about that today.

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Filed under Fear, I Samuel, Old Testament

I Samuel 9:5

When they reached the district of Zuph, Saul said to the servant who was with him, “Come let’s go back, or my father will stop thinking about the donkeys and start worrying about us.” NIV

Well, I’ve often heard that if God is teaching you something, you’ll hear it again and again from a variety of sources.  Apparently, there is something else here about these donkeys that is important.  I picked this verse at random from the list of “worry” verses, not realizing that those donkeys would still be being worried over.

So, I went back to the beginning of the story.

The donkeys belong to a man named Kish, who is described as a Benjamite, and a man of standing.  Benjamin was the youngest of Jacob’s sons, the second son, I think, of his beloved Rachel.  I haven’t read far enough along, but I’m thinking that Saul is likely King Saul.  So, Saul’s dad was a worrier.  I can relate.

The interesting thing to me about this verse is that Saul cares that his dad is worried, and he very well understands the worry addiction.  Saul is sent off on a fruitless hunt (he is not the one who finds the donkeys), and, when he realizes that he’s been gone a while, he recognizes that this will start a whole new cycle of worry for his father.

Kish, in the meantime, has likely gone through an entire gamut of emotions … multiple times by now.  He’s been angry, he’s contemplated other people making use of his prized donkeys, he’s pictured them falling down a well and bleeting for help with no-one to hear them.  When he doesn’t hear from Saul, he no doubt worries that the kid got lost, or that some other horrible fate has befallen him.

Worry is like that.  It is a never-ending cycle.  It will consume your thoughts and your time, until you are unable to be any earthly good to anyone.

Sometimes I wonder why particular stories are in the Bible.  I wonder why, for instance, these lost donkeys are left on record for us.  I wonder if it is because God knows that many of us, like Kish, are worriers.  I want to think more about what I can learn from Kish and his donkeys today.

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Filed under I Samuel, Old Testament, Worry

I Samuel 9:20

As for the donkeys you lost three days ago, do not worry about them; they have been found.  And to whom is all the desire of Israel turned, if not to you and all your father’s family? NIV

When I found this verse in I Samuel, by looking up one of the listings of the word “worry” in my concordance, I laughed out loud.  “While this may technically qualify as one of the 365 reminders not to worry for which I am searching,” I thought, “this one isn’t really helpful.”

But, as I thought more deeply about it, perhaps there is something here that I can learn from … I have spent many hours in my life worrying about things that I’ve lost.  In fact, some of the things that I remember most vividly are things that I lost in childhood … a little purple block that completed a set of blocks; a ring that I won at a carnival and then lost on the playground.  I can remember laying awake at night, thinking of ways to find that ring.  The playground was made of sand, and, I thought, if I could get a big enough sieve, I could sift through all that sand and find that ring.

As I’ve gotten older, I’ve lost other things, things of much more value.  I’ve worried over them, too.

This verse says not to worry about the things that you’ve lost, and, I think that’s good advice.

Further, as I looked at this verse in another translation, it says, “And by the way, your lost donkeys — the ones you’ve been hunting for the last three days — have been found, so don’t worry about them.  At this moment, Israel’s future is in your hands.”  The Message

So, I think this verse is perhaps saying, “Stop looking back!  God has things for you to accomplish — get on with them.”

I am pretty thankful that I found this verse today.

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Filed under I Samuel, Old Testament, Worry