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Tag: trust

David & Goliath

Last Sunday I told you half of the story of David & Goliath – which really ended up being more like the story of Saul and Goliath. Because by all accounts, that’s how the story should have played out!

David never should even been at the battlefield. Saul should have defeated Goliath weeks before David even showed up. As the king of Israel, it was Saul’s responsibility to lead the Israelites into battle. It was his job to courageously face the enemy and lead his men to victory.

But as it happened, Saul did none of that. As the Philistine giant Goliath strutted in front of the Israelite army both day and night for 40 days, boasting and taunting and mocking them, Saul did nothing but offer a reward to anyone who had the courage to do the task that he should have done. It seems both he and all the Israelites were paralyzed with fear.

I was reading in the book of Deuteronomy this week – and in chapter 20, Moses lays out instructions for what to do when the the Israelites went to war and I just want to read a few of those verses for you this morning. This is Deuteronomy 20, verse 1-4

“When you go out to fight your enemies and you face horses and chariots and an army greater than your own, do not be afraid. The Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, is with you! 2 When you prepare for battle, the priest must come forward to speak to the troops. 3 He will say to them, ‘Listen to me, all you men of Israel! Do not be afraid as you go out to fight your enemies today! Do not lose heart or panic or tremble before them. 4 For the Lord your God is going with you! He will fight for you against your enemies, and he will give you victory!’

Deuteronomy 20:1-4

Even before they entered the Promised Land, Moses assured the Israelites that God’s presence and power would be with them as they faced their enemies – even when the enemy armies were far greater and stronger than their own. But It certainly seems like the Israelites had missed this memo from Moses because as Goliath mocked and taunted them, and challenged them to come and fight, it says in 1 Samuel 17:11…

11 When Saul and the Israelites heard this, they were terrified and deeply shaken. 

1 Samuel 17:11

Both Saul and all of the army were paralyzed with fear. And interestingly, Deuteronomy 20 addresses that issue as well. If you jump down just a few verses from what we just read, it says:

8 “Then the officers will also say, ‘Is anyone here afraid or worried? If you are, you may go home before you frighten anyone else.’ Deuteronomy 20:8

It seems like Saul missed that memo too! Fear is contagious – and it’s the last thing you want spreading through your troops before a battle! But Saul certain had done nothing to put an end to the fear that was running rampant throughout his camp.

Fortunately, David had not been in the camp very long. He had only just arrived to bring some supplies from his father and to get a report on how everything was going. And as we’re going to see today, David’s courage was just as contagious as Saul’s fear!

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Obedience Is Better Than Sacrifice

For the past few weeks we’ve been following the career of King Saul – the first King of Israel. And it’s really been a mixed bag of the good, the bad, and the ugly. There are times when Saul does a fantastic job as king. As you read through 1 Samuel, often Saul is presented as the hero of Israel – rescuing the nation from all it’s enemies!

For example, at the end of the chapter we read last week, we find a bit of a summary of Saul’s military success. If you look at 1 Samuel 14, verse 47, it reads like this:

47 Now when Saul had secured his grasp on Israel’s throne, he fought against his enemies in every direction—against Moab, Ammon, Edom, the kings of Zobah, and the Philistines. And wherever he turned, he was victorious. 48 He performed great deeds and conquered the Amalekites, saving Israel from all those who had plundered them.

Then we get a brief summary of Saul’s family tree – which I won’t read right now – and then verse 52 continues…

52 The Israelites fought constantly with the Philistines throughout Saul’s lifetime. So whenever Saul observed a young man who was brave and strong, he drafted him into his army.

1 Samuel 14:47-48, 52

So as you can see, from a military point of view, Saul was a very successful King. It says he saved Israel from all who had plundered them. Where ever he turned, he was victorious! In the eyes of the people of Israel, Saul was exactly the kind of King that they wanted.

However, in the eyes of God, King Saul had not been quite so successful. Two weeks ago, we saw how Saul disobeyed the command of the Lord by offering up a burnt offering to God – instead of waiting for the prophet Samuel – who was the only one God had authorized to make such an offering. Saul over-stepped the bounds of his God-given authority as King, and took the role of priest for himself. And as we’re going to see today, this wasn’t just an isolated incident of sin –  It wasn’t a one-time foolish choice in a moment of weakness – this was evidence of a heart that would increasingly become prideful and arrogant.

Although Saul had very humble beginnings, it seems that his position of power and his military success caused him to grow in his esteem of himself and decrease in his esteem of God and his commands.

And so today, as we turn to 1 Samuel chapter 15, we’re going to see this pattern continue – with Saul concluding that his ways and his decisions are just a little bit wiser than God’s ways and God’s decisions. But I should warn you… As we go through this story and see how foolish and arrogant Saul has become, we need to be careful, because we might just see ourselves doing the exact same thing…

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The Faith of Jonathan

As we’ve been going through the book of 1 Samuel, we’ve spent a lot of time talking about King Saul – the first King of Israel. But last week we were introduced to a new character in the story – Saul’s son Jonathan. And Jonathan will actually play a significant role throughout the rest of the book. As we saw last week, he is a key commander in Saul’s military (commanding a 1/3 of Israel’s standing army) and in the weeks ahead, we will see how he eventually becomes one of David’s closest allies – even at a time when King Saul was trying to kill David.

But that’s getting ahead of our story.

If you were with us last week, you’ll remember that Jonathan had just attacked and defeated the Philistine garrison stationed in Geba. We don’t know if this was by order of King Saul, or if Jonathan simply took it upon himself to make this attack. But either way, Jonathan’s actions triggered an open revolt against the Philistines who had been oppressing the Israelites for some time now.

In response, the Philistines gathered their army – which composed of 3000 chariots, 6000 charioteers, and as many warriors as grains of sand on the seashore – and they set up camp at Micmash. At the same time, Saul gathered his much smaller army at Gilgal and waited for the prophet Samuel to come and make a sacrifice to God before they went into battle.

However, as they waited for Samuel, their fear of the Philistines grew and grew and many of Saul’s men fled from their posts – hiding in fear from the mighty Philistine army. Well, after 7 days of more and more men disappearing from the camp, and with no sign of Samuel, Saul foolishly took it upon himself (in direct disobedience to God) to offer the sacrifice himself.

God had clearly instructed the Israelites that these sacrifices were only to be done by God’s appointed priest – and not by the King or anyone else. So this was an act of blatant disobedience. Well, as it happened, Samuel showed up just as Saul was finishing the sacrifice and as Saul tried to justify his actions, Samuel told him plainly that his disobedience to the Lord would cost him the kingdom! The Lord would choose another king to replace him – one who would seek after the heart of God.

And that’s about as far as we got last week.  We’re going to pick it up today in 1 Samuel chapter 13, verse 15.

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The Transforming Power of God

Last week we witnessed the inauguration of King Saul – the first King of Israel! And for Israel to get it’s first king had been quite a process. But to briefly summarize it in point form:

The elders of Israel had foolishly requested it. God had graciously allowed it. Samuel had faithfully arranged it. Saul had reluctantly accepted it. And all the people gladly affirmed it. Well, most of the people gladly affirmed it.

You’ll recall at the very end of 1 Samuel chapter 10, as Saul’s Inauguration Day came to a close, it says…

…there were some scoundrels who complained, “How can this man save us?” And they scorned him and refused to bring him gifts…1 Samuel 10:27

So it would seem that not everyone was convinced that Saul was the man to lead their nation – or more specifically, they were not convinced that Saul was the man to save them from their enemies – which was really what they wanted a king for in the first place. You’ll recall back in chapter 8 that the elders of Israel, after being warned of how costly a king would be, they said to Samuel:

“…we still want a king,” they said. “We want to be like the nations around us. Our king will judge us and lead us into battle.” 1 Samuel 8:19

Having someone to lead them into battle was one of the underlying reasons for having a king. They wanted someone who could command the armies and give them victory over their enemies!

And at first glance, it would certainly seem that Saul was an ideal candidate for that! You’ll recall that he was a big boy – he stood head and shoulder taller than everyone else. He was just the kind of guy that you’d want to follow into battle. He’s no scrawny pencil-pusher – he’s a bit of a hulk! He’s a well built farm-kid that towered over everyone else!

So why would these scoundrel’s complain “How can this man save us?” Why would they doubt his abilities to be their king and lead them into battle?

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Faith in the Face of the Furnace

The English language is always changing! Every year, new words and phrases are added to our vocabulary and old ones are dropped out. For example, in 2019, the Webster’s Dictionary added over 600 new words & phrases. Some of these were words like:

Screen time: We’re certainly getting a lot of that these days

Go-cup: That’s just a disposable cup that would hold your coffee or other drink as you take it ‘to go’ from a resturant

Detectorist: one who uses a portable metal detector as a hobby to find lost coins and artifacts and such…

Double-dipping: You’d think that one would have been the in the dictionary already, but that was new for 2019

Chai Latte: We apparently talk about those enough to warrant an entry in the dictionary.

And I would guess that most, if not all, of those terms are familiar to you – that’s why they’ve been added to the dictionary. Everybody uses those terms and phrases.

Of course, in the 2020 edition of the Webster’s Dictionary, there will be a whole new set of words to be added.

Words like:  Coronavirus, Covid-19, Social Distancing, Self-isolation, Flattening the curve,

These are all terms that we’ve all come to know very well in just a very short period of time. And hopefully, these are words that will drop out of use just as quickly! I think we’re all looking forward to the time when no one needs to use the terms ‘self-isolation’ or ‘social distancing’ anymore.

But this morning, and actually for the next few weeks, I want to talk about three other words. These three words have been around pretty much forever – and according to the Bible – they will continue to be around pretty much forever.

You see, I was reading 1 Corinthians chapter 13 this week – which is often referred to as the ‘love’ chapter of the Bible. It talks about all the things that love is – love is kind, love is patient, love is not proud, love is not jealous – all those things….

But at the end of that chapter – there is short little verse that just seemed to catch my attention this week. It goes like this in 1 Corinthians chapter 13 verse 13:

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What God Has Called Us To Do

With everything that has been happening in the last couple of weeks, I’ve wondered whether we should continue our study in the book of 1 Peter or if we should re-adjust our focus to something else. And I am still considering that for the weeks ahead, but for this week anyway, I do want to continue in 1 Peter. 

However, as we’ve just finished up chapter 2 last week, our next passage in chapter 3 is Peter’s instructions for how husbands and wives are to relate to one another. And if you’ve looked at this passage, there are some pretty controversial things written there so I want to be careful that I present this passage in a way that is accurate and consistent with what the rest of the Bible says. I don’t want to say things or not say things simply because they don’t fit our modern cultural expectations. So that’s going to take a little bit of extra study on my part.

However, with the craziness of this week, I’m simply haven’t had the time for that extra study, so for today, I want to skip down just a little bit for now to a passage that is a little bit more straight forward – and we’ll come back to this passage later. I want to look today at 1 Peter chapter 3, verses 8 to 12. And this I think is very applicable to all of us – especially in light of all that’s going on in our world over these past weeks.

So let me begin by reading these verses to you: Peter writes in 1 Peter chapter 3 starting at verse 8:

8 Finally, all of you should be of one mind. Sympathize with each other. Love each other as brothers and sisters. Be tenderhearted, and keep a humble attitude. 9 Don’t repay evil for evil. Don’t retaliate with insults when people insult you. Instead, pay them back with a blessing. That is what God has called you to do, and he will grant you his blessing. 10 For the Scriptures say,

“If you want to enjoy life

    and see many happy days,

keep your tongue from speaking evil

    and your lips from telling lies.

11 Turn away from evil and do good.

    Search for peace, and work to maintain it.

12 The eyes of the Lord watch over those who do right,

    and his ears are open to their prayers.

But the Lord turns his face

    against those who do evil.”

1 Peter 3:8-12

Now again, I’ll remind you why Peter is writing this letter. You’ll recall that Peter addressing Christians who are living in exile – some them literally exiled from their homes because of persecution – But all of them living in exile as Christians in an unbelieving world. As citizens of the Kingdom of God, we pledge allegiance to different King and we live under his authority and His rule. 

The values and priorities and practices of those in the kingdom of God are often very different from those in the kingdom of this world. And so these Christians to whom Peter was writing, were living very differently from the people around them. And because of this, many around them began to view these Christians with a great deal of suspicious – as if they were some strange cult or something – and therefore, the Christians at that time began to face increasing hostility.

And I can imagine, that without the support and care of the others in their church family, these Christians would feel very much alone. Some of them were physically alone – without their extended families nearby to support and encourage them. Others may have felt spiritually alone – perhaps being the only Christian in their family or their circle of friends. To these people living in exile – whether physically or relationally – being cared for and loved by their church family was extremely important! And so that’s why Peter writes these words in verse 8.

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