Observations from today’s readings and today’s S-WOD, Wednesday, 21 September 2022:
1 Samuel 26:8 – Then Abishai said to David, “God has given your enemy into your hand this day. Now please let me pin him to the earth with one stroke of the spear, and I will not strike him twice.”
“You will sometimes be tempted to take shortcuts to your destinations in life. David faced this temptation numerous times before he finally assumed the throne. Samuel, God’s prophet, had anointed David and prophesied that he would be the next king of Israel (1 Sam. 16:12-13). Yet, while David waited on God’s timing, he watched in frustration as a crazed King Saul brought the kingdom into jeopardy. Saul pursued David to murder him, forcing David to flee for his life.
Then an incredible opportunity presented itself to David. David found Saul in a vulnerable position, sleeping with his army. Abishai, one of David’s warriors, offered to kill Saul. It seemed to make perfect sense. Saul had tried to kill David on numerous occasions. God had said He intended for David to be the king. By taking matters into his own hands, David could bring an end to his exile and assume the throne as God’s anointed servant. Yet he refused to compromise his integrity in order to become king, even though he wanted the position and it was rightfully his. Accomplishing God’s will in any manner other than the way God prescribed was unthinkable.
At times you may face similar temptations. Well-meaning friends advise you to hasten God’s will for you rather than waiting upon Him. You may be sorely tempted to take control of your situation, assuming the end will justify the means. These are the times when you must trust God’s perfect timing. God may plan for you to attain a certain position or take a new direction, but the timing may not be right. Watch over your heart. Don’t allow others to persuade you to compromise your integrity as you follow God’s will.” (Henry T. Blackaby)
1 Samuel 26:12 – No man saw it or knew it, nor did any awake, for they were all asleep, because a deep sleep from the Lord had fallen upon them.
God enabled David’s actions in a supernatural way which was not observable to men.
1 Samuel 26:21 – Then Saul said, “I have sinned. Return, my son David, for I will no more do you harm, because my life was precious in your eyes this day. Behold, I have acted foolishly, and have made a great mistake.”
Note once again in today’s readings Saul’s false repentance. True repentance, a changed heart, does not return to sin.
1 Samuel 26:24 – Behold, as your life was precious this day in my sight, so may my life be precious in the sight of the Lord, and may he deliver me out of all tribulation.
David recognized the expectation to treat others with the same mercy and grace he desired from God.
Hebrews 5:1 – For every high priest chosen from among men is appointed to act on behalf of men in relation to God….
Hebrews 5 describes the role of the high priest (referencing both the Levitical priests and Melchizedek) to introduce the perfect priesthood of Christ, the Great High Priest. The chapter closes with a warning not to be “dull of hearing” and “unskilled in the word of righteousness.” (Hebrews 5:11, 13) The final exhortation for us is to mature in our “discernment” by training and “constant practice to distinguish good from evil.”
As described last week, we are called to be the image of Christ on earth. As Christians, we are called to emulate Christ’s priestly example –
- Exodus 19:6 — …and you shall be to me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation.
- 1 Peter 2:5 — You yourselves like living stones are being built up as a spiritual house, to be a holy priesthood, to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.
- 1 Peter 2:9 — But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light.
To mature in the priestly example embodied by Jesus, we must constantly practice. Today’s readings give us some things to practice in our priestly role –
- Intercession and Reconciliation. “For every high priest chosen from among men is appointed to act on behalf of men in relation to God, to offer gifts and sacrifices for sins.” (v.1) Paul also says elsewhere, “All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation; that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation. Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us.” (2 Corinthians 5:18-20) As priests on earth, sent wherever God has sprinkled us like salt, we are to serve as agents of reconciliation between others and God, which involves much intercessory prayer (spiritual gifts to God) for others while constantly proclaiming to them “the excellencies of Him who called [us] out of darkness into the marvelous light.” Who around you are you interceding for in earnest prayer and talking with that they might be reconciled to God?
- Grace. “He can deal gently with the ignorant and wayward, since he himself is beset with weakness.” (v.2) As Christ’s appointed priests on earth, we deal gently with others and show grace to others because we live by grace and because the grace we share is part of our testimony to the power of grace in Christ. Do you always deal gently and graciously with the “ignorant and wayward?”
- Prayerful humility. “Because of this he is obligated to offer sacrifice for his own sins just as he does for those of the people.” (v.3) We have been saved by grace through faith in Jesus, not because of our deeds; and we have been freed from the penalty of sin through Christ. Yet, we nonetheless must pray continually for our own growth in Christ so that we can grow in fellowship with Him and lead others to Him.
- 1 John 1:9 — If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
- Proclaiming Christ. “And no one takes this honor for himself, but only when called by God, just as Aaron was.” (v.4) It is not about us but all about Him. We don’t attempt to share honor and glory with Christ, rather we direct all honor and glory towards Him as we remain wholly humble in our obedience. Our goal is not for people to admire our example and seek to emulate us but rather for people to admire Jesus and seek Him. In your example, always proclaim Christ.
- John 3:30 — He must increase, but I must decrease.”
- Learning Obedience. “In the days of his flesh, Jesus offered up prayers and supplications, with loud cries and tears, to him who was able to save him from death, and he was heard because of his reverence. Although he was a son, he learned obedience through what he suffered.” (v. 7. 8) Jesus prayed earnestly concerning His circumstances and was heard “because of His reverence.” How does your reverence for God effect your prayer life? Jesus trusted the Father with His prayers and also with His circumstances, which He knew were in the Father’s sovereign hands. Jesus, “learned obedience through what He suffered.” For sinless Jesus, this ‘learning’ was simply experiencing a different level of obedience rather than learning how to be obedient. However, for us, we grow in obedience as we “practice” obedience through suffering. As we walk in obedience through the challenges of life, we grow in our Christ-like character and serve as priests, as ambassadors for Christ, to those around us who are also struggling and need Jesus – “And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers.” (Romans 8:28, 29)
Do not be “dull of hearing,” or “unskilled in the word of righteousness [and] the basic principles of the oracles of God.” (vs. 11-13) Practice and training as a maturing priest, following the example of our Great High Priest, Jesus.
Hebrews 5:7 – In the days of his flesh, Jesus offered up prayers and supplications, with loud cries and tears, to him who was able to save him from death, and he was heard because of his reverence.
“The life of Jesus provides the model for our prayer lives. God is seeking to mold us into the image of His Son (Col. 1:27-28). If we are to act like Christ, our prayer lives must be conformed to His. Many Christians are unwilling to pay the price that Jesus paid when it comes to interceding with God. Jesus’ prayers came with vehement cries and tears and, “because of His godly fear,” He was heard by the Father. Why then, did the Father refuse His request? It was not due to any sin in Jesus’ life, nor was it because the Father did not love His Son. The Father said no, despite the unfathomable love He had for His Son, because He knew He could not spare His Son and save a world. Likewise, the Lord cannot always spare you and your family and complete His redemptive work in those around you. Are you willing for God to deny your pleadings? Will you intercede with the Father so deeply and intimately that even in the midst of your tears you are able to say, “Nevertheless, not my will but thine be done?” The Father will always relate to you out of the context of His love for a lost world. Has God said no to one of your requests recently? Accept His answer. Have you been learning obedience through what you have been suffering (Heb. 5:8)? If you have, God may choose to make you a source of salvation to others even as He did with His Son.
Hebrews 5:7, 8 – …he was heard because of his reverence. Although he was a son, he learned obedience through what he suffered.
Reverence affects your prayers and your obedience. Reverent disciples learn to be obedient through suffering. There is no growth in the comfort zone, and there is no comfort in the growth zone.
We all endure suffering to some degree, but the good news is that through it we can become like Jesus. Are you willing to pay whatever price is necessary in order to become like Christ? There are some things God intends for your life that can come only through suffering. Even Jesus, the sinless Son of God, had to endure the suffering His Father to fulfill His purpose and to obtain His glory. If you become bitter over your hardships, you close some parts of your life from God. If you do this, you will never be complete. Some places in your soul can be reached only by suffering. The Spirit of God has important things to teach you, but you can only learn these lessons in the midst of your trials. Who throughout the Bible didn’t require days of suffering to God to build their character, Noah, Abraham, Moses, David, Daniel, Paul? Don’t resent the suffering God allows in your life. Don’t make all your decisions and invest everything you have into avoiding hardship. God did not spare His own Son. How can we expect Him to spare us? Learn obedience even when it hurts!
Hebrews 5:12-14 — For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you again the basic principles of the oracles of God. You need milk, not solid food, for everyone who lives on milk is unskilled in the word of righteousness, since he is a child. But solid food is for the mature, for those who have their powers of discernment trained by constant practice to distinguish good from evil.
God expects believers to train in doctrine in order to be a worthy teacher and a priest. God expects believers to hone their skills in righteousness. It takes constant training and practice to develop spiritual discernment. Discernment is knowing good from evil.
God expects you to grow spiritually which requires both disciplined study of God’s word as well as practice in God’s word and will. You have to both study hard and practice your faith diligently. Practice implies that you will get it wrong before you get it right.
“Cross” Fit S-WOD (Spiritual Workout of the Day) – 21 September 2022: Today, practice intercession and reconciliation, grace, prayerful humility, proclaiming Christ, and learning obedience.