Observations from today’s readings and today’s S-WOD, Friday, 11 May 18:
1. 1 Samuel 23:10-13 — “Then David said, ‘O Lord, the God of Israel, your servant has surely heard that Saul seeks to come to Keilah, to destroy the city on my account. Will the men of Keilah surrender me into his hand? Will Saul come down, as your servant has heard? O Lord, the God of Israel, please tell your servant.’ And the Lord said, ‘He will come down.’ Then David said, ‘Will the men of Keilah surrender me and my men into the hand of Saul?’ And the Lord said, ‘They will surrender you.’ Then David and his men, who were about six hundred, arose and departed from Keilah, and they went wherever they could go.” This passage reveals some very important principles for our lives: We cannot make good decisions simply from our limited perceptions and understanding. We must go to God for answers to our important questions, questions that only He can answer. God gives us a choice to obey Him or not. Either way, there are definite consequences. If we trust in ourselves and ignore the counsel of God, it will lead to destruction. David sought answers from God concerning what might happen in Keilah. God tells David that Saul will come down and the people of Keilah will surrender David into Saul’s hands. So, David leaves and lives. First, if David hadn’t consulted God, he would have been killed – “He will come…. They will surrender you.” Second, David’s fate was not predetermined but depended upon His response to God’s word. Had David not listened to God, he would have died. David had decisions to make. The Bible is clear that there is predestination (God has a plan that will happen), but there is debate about what exactly is predetermined. It would appear that God’s predetermined plan accommodates our freedom to choose as well as the consequences of our choices. Some believe that concepts of “free will” challenge the Sovereignty of God. I believe that, in His Sovereignty, God has given us freedom to choose, and our choices have consequences which don’t alter God’s overall plan. When I tell my kids to take out the trash, they have choices to make. One way or another though, the trash is going to get taken out. Consider what Mordecai said to Esther as she struggled with her perilous decision to approach the king or not on behalf of the Jews: “If you remain silent at this time, relief and deliverance for the Jews will arise from another place, but you and your father’s family will perish. And who knows but that you have come to your royal position for such a time as this (Esther 4:14)?” God’s plan is at work. We must choose whether or not we will listen to Him, obey Him, and follow Him or go our own way and suffer the consequences. If we choose to be a part of God’s plan, we have to listen to what He is telling us through Bible study and prayer. We then have to do what He says, one decision at a time, day-by-day.
2. 1 Samuel 23:17 – “And he said to him, ‘Do not fear, for the hand of Saul my father shall not find you. You shall be king over Israel, and I shall be next to you. Saul my father also knows this.’” No man can alter what God has intended. Even Saul knew his fate was inevitable though he continued to pursue David in futility. Don’t blindly follow your own dream or plan in pride. You will have to choose between what you want and what God wants for you.
3. 1 Samuel 23:21 – “And Saul said, ‘May you be blessed by the Lord, for you have had compassion on me.’” Those who oppose the will of God will still claim that they are being blessed by God in their sin. Jesus said that we must worship both in spirit and in truth.
4. 1 Samuel 23:26, 27 — “As Saul and his men were closing in on David and his men to capture them, a messenger came to Saul, saying, ‘Hurry and come, for the Philistines have made a raid against the land.’” God can arrange circumstances to protect His servants.
5. 1 Samuel 24:1-7 — Even fellow believers may encourage you to compromise your standards or take short cuts in order to accomplish goals or achieve success. However, true success always requires that the right things are done for the right reasons, in the right way, and at the right time. It takes great faith to wait on God’s timing, and it takes the leading of the Spirit to know how to rightly apply knowledge. Knowledge rightly applied is wisdom. Wisdom can come only from God.
6. 1 Samuel 24:6 — “The LORD forbid that I should do this thing to my lord, the LORD’s anointed, to put out my hand against him, seeing he is the LORD’s anointed.” David’s desire to honor the things of God outweighed his desire to overcome his adversaries, at least at this point in His life.
7. 1 Samuel 24:12-15 — Wait on the Lord to avenge you when you are wronged. Only return good for evil. Again, it takes great faith to wait on the Lord. Consider your suffering to be a gift of love and sacrifice to God and to the offender.
8. 1 Samuel 24:16-22 — David’s act of faith and mercy convicted Saul and changed Saul’s heart.
9. Proverbs 11:15 — “Whoever puts up security for a stranger will surely suffer harm, but he who hates striking hands in pledge is secure.” Avoid needless commitments and entanglements.
10. Proverbs 11:3-5 — The wicked destroy themselves.
11. Proverbs 11:20 – “Those of crooked heart are an abomination to the Lord, but those of blameless ways are his delight.” Blameless ways come from a pure heart.
12. Proverbs 11:23 — “The desire of the righteous ends only in good, the expectation of the wicked in wrath.” The righteous truly desire what is good. They have no need to be controlled by the law because they are controlled by their hearts.
13. Proverbs 11:25 – “Whoever brings blessing will be enriched, and one who waters will himself be watered.” God will bless us in accordance with how we bless others.
14. Proverbs 11:30 – “The fruit of the righteous is a tree of life, and whoever captures souls is wise.” Righteous people change hearts and lives.
15. 1 Corinthians 7:5 – “Do not deprive one another, except perhaps by agreement for a limited time, that you may devote yourselves to prayer; but then come together again, so that Satan may not tempt you because of your lack of self-control.” Satan tempts us by targeting our lack of self-control. Self-control is a spiritual gift that must be empowered by the Spirit. Pray for self-control.
16. 1 Corinthians 7:12-15 — God expects us to take responsibility for our decisions and to keep our vows, regardless of the personal cost. It takes faith to believe that God will bring good out of a bad situation.
17. 1 Corinthians 7:17-24 — Our circumstances are not what matter most but rather what we do in our circumstances, how we respond. We should focus on being faithful and obedient right where God has placed us and walk by faith knowing that God will direct our obedient path. We cannot control our circumstances, but we can control our decisions. Often God will test you with circumstances, not so He can see what is truly in your heart but so that you can see what is truly in your heart. Pay attention to your responses.
18. 1 Corinthians 7:21 — “But if you can gain your freedom, avail yourself of the opportunity.” Seek as much freedom as you can in life that you can more freely serve The Lord. However, don’t use a lack of freedom as an excuse for disobedience.
19. 1 Corinthians 7:21, 24 — “Were you a bondservant when called? Do not be concerned about it. (But if you can gain your freedom, avail yourself of the opportunity….) So, brothers, in whatever condition each was called, there let him remain with God.” We tend to worry too much about our circumstances and not enough about how we are responding to our circumstances. We tend to worry too much about where we are and not enough about why we have been placed there by God. No matter where we find ourselves or how we got there, we are surrounded by opportunities to both glorify God and enjoy His presence. Whether in a palace or a prison, we can testify to the glory of God. The Lord has placed us in our current situations for His purposes. If we can improve our conditions, then that is great. However, we need to make the most of the opportunities God has placed in front of us today, where we are now. If we are not careful, we can become so concerned with what we don’t have or where we wish we were, that we fail to appreciate what we do have right in front of us in the place where God wanted us all along. Consider the lives of people like Noah, Joseph, Moses, David, and the many other people we have read about who God used mightily. None of them would have chosen the paths down which God led them; but if they had chosen their own paths, they would not have developed the character and competence that made them so usable by God, nor would they have experienced the close relationships with God that they enjoyed. It is exciting to know the God has placed you in your current circumstances on purpose. Remain faithful with today, and see what develops for tomorrow.
20. 1 Corinthians 7:25-40 — As a general rule, we should seek to remain as free of contractual obligations or debts as reasonably possible. We should maintain as much personal freedom as possible and avoid entanglements with the world. We should live life as simply as possible, avoiding the temptation to make things complicated and stressful. “Perfection is achieved not when there is nothing more to add, but when there is nothing left to take away.” (Antoine de Saint-Exupery)
21. 1 Corinthians 7:39 — “A wife is bound to her husband as long as he lives.” Marriage is permanent, whether you, the government, or anyone else says otherwise.
“Cross” Fit S-WOD (Spiritual Workout of the Day) – 11 May: Wait on the Lord to avenge you when you are wronged. Only return good for evil. Have the faith to wait on the Lord. Consider your suffering to be a gift of love and sacrifice to God and to the offender. (1 Sam 24:12-15) Also, consider what commitments you have made that only hinder your ability to serve The Lord to your fullest potential. Free yourself of those commitments where you can. Avoid new commitments that don’t support your ability to serve The Lord. (1 Cor 7:21-24)