Archive for the ‘Book of 1 Samuel’ Category

1 Samuel 30:1-31 (Part 3 of 3)
David Destroys the Amalekites

There are faces of our church that the public sees. First and foremost, there is our founding and senior pastor, Tim Bowman. He is the preaching pastor. He is the first person people think of when it comes to Calvary Church of The Quad Cities. He is an amazing preacher and public speaker. He’s been preaching now for 23 years and before that he was a member of a traveling Christian musical group for many years so he has been “on stage” for a long time. Although he says he still gets nervous (and if you don’t something’s wrong with you), he handles the public stage with an outward grace and ease that I admire. Another face of our church is Jeff Duncan, our worship pastor. He is a great musician and band leader and seems to handle the complex task of leading a band, playing an instrument, singing, all at the same time with great ease. Mariah Logan, our worship coordinator, and lead female singer is young but oh so talented as if she grew up on stage (and probably did considering her Bowman family heritage). Our youth pastor, Jordan Johnson, is effortless on stage and uses impromptu, spur of the moment humor on stage with ease to engage our audiences. Milton Mazariegos, the family pastor, the most senior and experienced of those of us who are staff pastor, is so warm and engaging on stage and can get the crowd stirred up with his passion. He makes it look effortless. Occasionally, in my position as a staff pastor (and director of business), I get the opportunity to be on stage. With me though since I don’t do it much, I am in awe of these guys and gals on staff who do it regularly. All of us though as stage personas and/or as pastors are the face of the church. That’s what people see and remember.

However, without the behind the scenes staff at Calvary, none of it would happen. And each of these people are essential to the functioning of the church. Sunday mornings or any event held at our church would fall flat on its face. Just this weekend (Friday and Saturday), we hosted an apologetics conference at the church. Though the touring conference provided much of its own support, there were just services that we, as the host church HAD to provide. There were two guys that knocked it out of the park in their leadership roles for this conference where we had about 1,100 people on our campus each day and with multiple breakout sessions on Saturday. Our whole building was in use for this conference. Logistical and operational support was led by Chad Vallejo. Common area set up and support, Room set up and support, and the breakdown of the same. He and Nate Hughes had a plan and executed it flawlessly. Without them, man what a mess that conference would have been. They made sure that the temperature in the building was properly regulated too. Made sure the trash was cleaned up and removed (and man how much trash 1,200 people can generate). Our entire staff chipped in last night to help Chad and his team to get the church whipped back into shape this morning. As well, for the conference, Ben Engle our media & communications manager, handled the unique video and audio needs for this conference with ease as if the one-time need of this conference were what we does daily, and working with people from the conference that he may never work with again. Making sure the audio visual needs in every room were set up was a big undertaking and it went off effortlessly.

That got me to thinking too about the daily operations of our church including our Sunday services. There are many people you do not see that work tirelessly each week to keep our church working so that it fulfills its purpose – reaching the world around us with the gospel of Jesus Christ. There is Kit Vargas, who has a job title but she really just does whatever is needed. She has worked tirelessly for the church for years. There is Nehemiah Mazariegos, the children’s church coordinator. He is a fun young guy who makes the children’s worship experience amazing. There is Sheila Zehr who is our church bookkeeper who makes sure the bills get paid on time and the contributions get posted to donor accounts. There is Jordan Bos who is our senior pastor’s administrative assistant and the church office receptionist. She is such a sweet young girl who just like Kit does whatever is necessary to make our church work. Ben and Chad I have already mentioned. They work tirelessly week in and week out not just for the conference I mentioned. Bev Hart makes our outreach ministries work. Our Spanish speaking members pastor, Manuel Morales – man what a heart he has for making our Spanish speaking members feel a part of the church and not isolated and provides them with discipleship tailored to their Hispanic background. Reece Bowman, the senior pastor’s son, works weekly to keep the church cleaned and sparkly. And then there are several volunteers who work at the church weekly to ensure the church operates well. And then…and then…there are our hundreds of Sunday morning volunteers who work from the parking team to greeters team to guest services to ushers to the security team and teams I cannot even think of right now. All of these people are unseen and work tirelessly to make our church able to shout the name of Jesus in the world around us. Without these people who do not care about being in the spotlight, these people who just love serving Jesus Christ, our church would not be who it is – a light in our community.

In my personal life, I think of my wife, Elena. Without her being the stay at home wife who handles almost every detail of our lives with ease and grace and humility, I would not be able to do what I do. She does not get thanked by me enough for all the little things that she does for me that make my life so much easier. I could not function without her. She takes care of the details of my life with grace and ease.

That’s what I thought of this morning – how we must celebrate those who act in support roles for those in the front lines. Let’s read 1 Samuel 30 together now with a specific eye toward vv. 24-25:

30 Three days later, when David and his men arrived home at their town of Ziklag, they found that the Amalekites had made a raid into the Negev and Ziklag; they had crushed Ziklag and burned it to the ground. 2 They had carried off the women and children and everyone else but without killing anyone.

3 When David and his men saw the ruins and realized what had happened to their families, 4 they wept until they could weep no more. 5 David’s two wives, Ahinoam from Jezreel and Abigail, the widow of Nabal from Carmel, were among those captured. 6 David was now in great danger because all his men were very bitter about losing their sons and daughters, and they began to talk of stoning him. But David found strength in the Lord his God.

7 Then he said to Abiathar the priest, “Bring me the ephod!” So Abiathar brought it. 8 Then David asked the Lord, “Should I chase after this band of raiders? Will I catch them?”

And the Lord told him, “Yes, go after them. You will surely recover everything that was taken from you!”

9 So David and his 600 men set out, and they came to the brook Besor. 10 But 200 of the men were too exhausted to cross the brook, so David continued the pursuit with 400 men.

11 Along the way they found an Egyptian man in a field and brought him to David. They gave him some bread to eat and water to drink. 12 They also gave him part of a fig cake and two clusters of raisins, for he hadn’t had anything to eat or drink for three days and nights. Before long his strength returned.

13 “To whom do you belong, and where do you come from?” David asked him.

“I am an Egyptian—the slave of an Amalekite,” he replied. “My master abandoned me three days ago because I was sick. 14 We were on our way back from raiding the Kerethites in the Negev, the territory of Judah, and the land of Caleb, and we had just burned Ziklag.”

15 “Will you lead me to this band of raiders?” David asked.

The young man replied, “If you take an oath in God’s name that you will not kill me or give me back to my master, then I will guide you to them.”

16 So he led David to them, and they found the Amalekites spread out across the fields, eating and drinking and dancing with joy because of the vast amount of plunder they had taken from the Philistines and the land of Judah. 17 David and his men rushed in among them and slaughtered them throughout that night and the entire next day until evening. None of the Amalekites escaped except 400 young men who fled on camels. 18 David got back everything the Amalekites had taken, and he rescued his two wives. 19 Nothing was missing: small or great, son or daughter, nor anything else that had been taken. David brought everything back. 20 He also recovered all the flocks and herds, and his men drove them ahead of the other livestock. “This plunder belongs to David!” they said.

21 Then David returned to the brook Besor and met up with the 200 men who had been left behind because they were too exhausted to go with him. They went out to meet David and his men, and David greeted them joyfully. 22 But some evil troublemakers among David’s men said, “They didn’t go with us, so they can’t have any of the plunder we recovered. Give them their wives and children, and tell them to be gone.”

23 But David said, “No, my brothers! Don’t be selfish with what the Lord has given us. He has kept us safe and helped us defeat the band of raiders that attacked us. 24 Who will listen when you talk like this? We share and share alike—those who go to battle and those who guard the equipment.” 25 From then on David made this a decree and regulation for Israel, and it is still followed today.

26 When he arrived at Ziklag, David sent part of the plunder to the elders of Judah, who were his friends. “Here is a present for you, taken from the Lord’s enemies,” he said.

27 The gifts were sent to the people of the following towns David had visited: Bethel, Ramoth-negev, Jattir, 28 Aroer, Siphmoth, Eshtemoa, 29 Racal,[a] the towns of the Jerahmeelites, the towns of the Kenites, 30 Hormah, Bor-ashan, Athach, 31 Hebron, and all the other places David and his men had visited.

In this passage today, we see an example of what became a law in the Israelite nation under David later when he become king. David made it a law that those who guarded the army’s camp and all its equipment were to be treated equally with those who fought in battle. Today, it in modern warfare, it takes several people to provide the support services needed for every soldier on the front lines of battle. In the church, we need to treat those who provide support services equally with those who are seen on stage at church events. Without those who provide logistical support, mechanical support, audio visual support, people management support, and other services, our Sunday services will not happen.

So, let’s take a hint from David and appreciate those who support us. Thank those who make your life easier and simpler. Value them. Appreciate them. Celebrate them. Jesus was the star of his earthly ministry and rightfully so. But while He was on earth, He was not above thanking those who supported Him. He knelt down and washed the feet of His disciples as much as a thank you as it was to teach them a visible lesson about being a servant. So, if you are not on the front lines of your church, my church, any church, I thank you for what you do. If you are a wife who supports her husband I thank you. If you are a mother who supports her children, I thank you. Let us remember to thank those who support us.

Amen and Amen.

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1 Samuel 30:1-31 (Part 2 of 3)
David Destroys the Amalekites

You know back in the day when MTV actually played music videos all the time? Back in the day in the 80s, MTV was 24/7 with music videos. It was a new concept back in those days. As the 80s progressed, the music videos became very sophisticated. The best ones would tell the story of the song in video. Some of them became like short films and were award-worthy. I loved my MTV back in those days. When MTV was new and you were in your teens and twenties like I was in the 80s, you would have friends over, have a party, and sit down and watch MTV and conversations while mediocre videos would and then get quiet while the excellent ones played. We would watch MTV til the small hours of the morning. Most of what was on MTV was that good and that interesting and of course 80s music is still the best decade of music ever! I just loved the idea of concept videos to support a song. I loved that these artists would put as much effort into their music videos as they would producing their albums. The 80s era music videos inspired in me this idea of setting life to music and vice versa. Concept videos would run through my brain about portions of my life being set to music. You know…something happens in your life over a period of time, you think of a song that matches what happened and the mood it, and you orchestrate in your mind what the video would look like.

That kind of thought of the soundtrack video of your life kind of stuck with me past the 80s. One video idea that has stuck with me since salvation was the idea of doing unto the least of these, a concept video based on Matthew 25:31-46, The Parable of the Sheep and Goats. The video I had in my mind was a concept video about our missed opportunities, our missed divine appointments, to help those who seem like throwaway people to us. Those moments where, in the busy schedule of our lives, that we think of helping but rationalize away why we cannot.

Here’s how that concept video would look. Say for example, there would be this homeless man sitting by a lamppost in any town in America, you pick the town, maybe your own town, maybe my own town. He has a sign held in front of him that says “Please help me. I am hungry.” You seem him but do not look directly in his eyes. You think of helping but choose not to, because, looking at your watch, you realize that you are late for meeting up with your friends at the bar for dinner. Your heart tells you to stop but you rationalize it away and walk on buy. As get past the man and you no longer can see him as you have walked far enough past him, the video pans back to the homeless man and then he morphs into Jesus Christ and He has a tear in his beginning to stream down his cheek. That idea just blows me away. And then the video shows this guy would not help missing other opportunities as well. An old lady trying to climb the steps of a public building, a mother trying to corral her kids that are acting all anarchical, a family that appears to be living in their car, and all sorts of other missed opportunities. Each time as the guy in this video passes by, each time the one needing help morphs into Jesus Christ.

We all have divine opportunities to help others. Most times, we rationalize away helping. We are too busy. The person might try to rob us. I am late for work. I am late for something. I am no different than anybody else. I miss more opportunities than I take advantage of. Just within the last two days, I have had two opportunities. One missed. One taken. On the way home from work on Thursday (which since I am a pastor now is the beginning of my weekend). Sundays, of course are work days for pastors. We get Friday and Saturday off instead of the usual Saturday and Sunday. But on the way home, after a long work week, I was ready to have some time off with my wife. I just wanted to get home put a t-shirt and my sweatpants on and chill. Thursday evenings, Elena and I get to catch up. We don’t usually go anywhere. We just enjoy having the beginning of time off where we can spend time together. I look forward to it. I dart home after work. We might go out to eat and some form of entertainment on Friday night or Saturday night but Thursday night is our night to chill out. As I was turning off of John Deere Road onto 7th Street, my usual track home, there was a guy in the turning lane standing by a car with the hood up. He was stranded. Steam coming out of the engine. Right in the middle of a Quad City rush hour. I rationalized away that he had called someone already to help him. I felt the tug to help but I blew it. I just drove around his car and kept going. Elena was waiting for me at home patiently. It was the beginning of my weekend. I blew it. I didn’t stop to help. Fear told me that he might try to rob me. Inconvenience told me that it would be difficult to park anywhere near him and help him. You name the reason, I came up with it. Later as I had passed, in the concept video of my mind, that helpless man by the car turned into Jesus Christ with a tear in his eye.

Then, last night, as we were leaving The Truth Conference, the apologetics conference being hosted at Calvary Church, we were in our car leaving the rear parking lot of the church. We saw this little old lady who must have been in her 80s at least. She was walking on the concrete parking lot at a glacial pace. Wherever she was headed in our parking lot, it was going to take a loooonnnngggg time for her to get there. She was walking THAT slow. She seemed as if the walk was causing her pain. This time. This time I stopped. Elena and I both got out the car and asked her if we could give her a lift to wherever her car was parked. It took a long time to (1) convince her to let us give her a ride and (2) get her up into the back seat of my SUV (that sits fairly high off the ground – higher for sure than a regular car). Then, she could not remember where she parked. By talking to her, we figured she must’ve parked at the front of the church parking lot nearer to 53rd Street, the main road that runs by our church. She was using her clicker to watch for which car’s lights lit up. We knew from our discussion that she drove a gray Malibu. We slowly crept along and finally found her car. We helped her slowly get out of our car and then into hers. By the time, we finished helping her, the parking lot was almost empty of the cars that brought almost a thousand people to our church for the conference being put on by this touring apologetics conference. As we drove away, I imagined by concept video in my mind. That little old lady morphed into Jesus Christ and this time he had a smile on His face.

That concept video idea was what came to mind this morning as I read through 1 Samuel 30 for a second of four reads. That idea of helping people that seem insignificant to us and that we rationalize away not helping. That idea of having impact on somebody’s life that we may never know. I think about getting to heaven and having someone there tell me how that day I did not help them caused their live to spiral downward or having someone there tell me how that I day I did help them changed the course of their life for the better. Having someone in heaven tell me that because I stopped to help them that it changed their view of “church people” and they started going to church after that and they came to know Jesus Christ as their Savior. And everything changed after that. Everything. For the better. That concept video of Jesus crying. That idea of having to account for all our missed opportunities to put the gospel in action every day. That’s what I thought of this morning. Let’s read 1 Samuel 30 together now with a specific eye toward vv. 11-15:

30 Three days later, when David and his men arrived home at their town of Ziklag, they found that the Amalekites had made a raid into the Negev and Ziklag; they had crushed Ziklag and burned it to the ground. 2 They had carried off the women and children and everyone else but without killing anyone.

3 When David and his men saw the ruins and realized what had happened to their families, 4 they wept until they could weep no more. 5 David’s two wives, Ahinoam from Jezreel and Abigail, the widow of Nabal from Carmel, were among those captured. 6 David was now in great danger because all his men were very bitter about losing their sons and daughters, and they began to talk of stoning him. But David found strength in the Lord his God.

7 Then he said to Abiathar the priest, “Bring me the ephod!” So Abiathar brought it. 8 Then David asked the Lord, “Should I chase after this band of raiders? Will I catch them?”

And the Lord told him, “Yes, go after them. You will surely recover everything that was taken from you!”

9 So David and his 600 men set out, and they came to the brook Besor. 10 But 200 of the men were too exhausted to cross the brook, so David continued the pursuit with 400 men.

11 Along the way they found an Egyptian man in a field and brought him to David. They gave him some bread to eat and water to drink. 12 They also gave him part of a fig cake and two clusters of raisins, for he hadn’t had anything to eat or drink for three days and nights. Before long his strength returned.

13 “To whom do you belong, and where do you come from?” David asked him.

“I am an Egyptian—the slave of an Amalekite,” he replied. “My master abandoned me three days ago because I was sick. 14 We were on our way back from raiding the Kerethites in the Negev, the territory of Judah, and the land of Caleb, and we had just burned Ziklag.”

15 “Will you lead me to this band of raiders?” David asked.

The young man replied, “If you take an oath in God’s name that you will not kill me or give me back to my master, then I will guide you to them.”

16 So he led David to them, and they found the Amalekites spread out across the fields, eating and drinking and dancing with joy because of the vast amount of plunder they had taken from the Philistines and the land of Judah. 17 David and his men rushed in among them and slaughtered them throughout that night and the entire next day until evening. None of the Amalekites escaped except 400 young men who fled on camels. 18 David got back everything the Amalekites had taken, and he rescued his two wives. 19 Nothing was missing: small or great, son or daughter, nor anything else that had been taken. David brought everything back. 20 He also recovered all the flocks and herds, and his men drove them ahead of the other livestock. “This plunder belongs to David!” they said.

21 Then David returned to the brook Besor and met up with the 200 men who had been left behind because they were too exhausted to go with him. They went out to meet David and his men, and David greeted them joyfully. 22 But some evil troublemakers among David’s men said, “They didn’t go with us, so they can’t have any of the plunder we recovered. Give them their wives and children, and tell them to be gone.”

23 But David said, “No, my brothers! Don’t be selfish with what the Lord has given us. He has kept us safe and helped us defeat the band of raiders that attacked us. 24 Who will listen when you talk like this? We share and share alike—those who go to battle and those who guard the equipment.” 25 From then on David made this a decree and regulation for Israel, and it is still followed today.

26 When he arrived at Ziklag, David sent part of the plunder to the elders of Judah, who were his friends. “Here is a present for you, taken from the Lord’s enemies,” he said.

27 The gifts were sent to the people of the following towns David had visited: Bethel, Ramoth-negev, Jattir, 28 Aroer, Siphmoth, Eshtemoa, 29 Racal,[a] the towns of the Jerahmeelites, the towns of the Kenites, 30 Hormah, Bor-ashan, Athach, 31 Hebron, and all the other places David and his men had visited.

In this passage today, we look specifically at vv. 11-15. Here, the cruelty of the Amalekites was such that they left this slave to die, but God used him to lead David and his men to the Amalekite camp. David and his men treated the young man kindly, and he returned the kindness by leading them to the enemy. These verses remind us that we are to treat those you meet with respect and dignity no matter how insignificant they may seem. You never know how God will use them in your life or how God will use our interaction with others in their lives going forward. Galatians 6:9 reminds us to never grow weary of doing good. We just might change someone’s life by helping. We may point someone to Jesus Christ. We may point some lonely, down and out believer toward fellowship again with believers that changes everything for them. They may morph into Jesus after we pass and He will smile.

Lord, help us to be aware of the inconvenient and fearful opportunities you place before us as divine opportunities to share the gospel. Help us not to miss these opportunities. Help us to seize them without fear or thoughts of inconvenience. Help us to see you when we stop to help someone in need. Help us to be like David here in this passage. He was blessed immediately by it in a tangible way. But help us Lord to realize that we may get nothing out of it on this side of heaven but that we are helping you when we help others. Help us, oh Lord, to see you when we see someone in need. Help us to realize that our kindness could be the difference in someone coming to Christ or not. Help us to have eternity in mind when we stop to help someone.

Amen and Amen.

1 Samuel 30:1-31 (Part 1 of 3)
David Destroys the Amalekites

Have you ever had a situation like David has in this passage? He comes back to his temporary home town after being told to go home from battle and then finds his town destroyed and all the wives and children of David’s elite fighting force and of David himself gone, taken away by the Amalekite raiders. He has a bad experience at the battlefront only to return home to find that his village had been sacked and all the people taken away. It was a ghost town of rubble and burned out huts and buildings. Things had gone from bad to worse. What would you do in his shoes? What would be your reaction?

Our natural inclination would be to lash out without thinking. I know that would be my first inclination. I am flesh and blood just like anybody else. If someone had purposefully tried to destroy something that was dear to me and then try to hurt my family in some way, that inner rage that is in us all would rise up in me quickly and cause me to want to lash out. However, my first nature is to avoid conflict. I have never been one to seek out conflict. I often try to avoid conflict at all costs, often to the detriment to what is right and true or at least what is best for me. I hate conflict. I am a pretty easy going, why can’t we all get along kind of guy. I am certainly not trying to say I am a saint or anything but I am one of those people who is deathly afraid of conflict. Like I said, I will avoid it for as long as I can and in as many ways as I can until I am forced to deal with a conflict head on. I guess I am just a person who likes things to be calm and peaceful and will avoid conflict and shy away from it just to keep things going along calmly. It is almost to the point of a character flaw and maybe it is one that my desire to avoid conflict sometimes hampers my leadership ability. However, sometimes in life, conflict is unavoidable. Sometimes, in a world of 7 billion souls with different interests and different priorities conflict is bound to happen no matter if you are a born conflict avoider like me or if you have an naturally aggressive personality. That’s just life. That’s just the way it is.

Sometimes, life just puts you in situations where there is reason for conflict. David is in one of those situations here. You and I will find those unavoidable situations during our lifetime. For me, they make me as nervous as a cat on a hot tin roof because of my nature of wanting to avoid conflict. Sometimes, though, you just can’t avoid it. If you are like me, there are those days where someone either purposefully or by accident “gets your goat”. There are times when you just have to respond in some way. I have had those kind of situations in life. You just can’t avoid it. There’s an old saying that seems appropriate – life is not so much what happens to you but how you respond to it. Sometimes, people purposefully hurt you or your family – like this situation with David. Our natural inclination is to lash out. Our natural inclination is to charge off into the breach without thinking. Even a conflict avoider like me has those moments where circumstances demand a response from us and even conflict avoiders want to lash out at those who have either by will or by accident have hurt us in some way.

David’s got that choice here. We have that choice in times of conflict. How do we respond? Do we lash out with some knee jerk reaction? That is often how we handle things. That’s what I thought of this morning. How would I respond to this situation if I was in David’s shoes? He was having a bad couple of days here. He just got rejected and sent home from the battlefront. Now, he gets home and finds it purposefully destroyed. What would he do? What would I do in that situation? Let’s read 1 Samuel 30 together now:

30 Three days later, when David and his men arrived home at their town of Ziklag, they found that the Amalekites had made a raid into the Negev and Ziklag; they had crushed Ziklag and burned it to the ground. 2 They had carried off the women and children and everyone else but without killing anyone.

3 When David and his men saw the ruins and realized what had happened to their families, 4 they wept until they could weep no more. 5 David’s two wives, Ahinoam from Jezreel and Abigail, the widow of Nabal from Carmel, were among those captured. 6 David was now in great danger because all his men were very bitter about losing their sons and daughters, and they began to talk of stoning him. But David found strength in the Lord his God.

7 Then he said to Abiathar the priest, “Bring me the ephod!” So Abiathar brought it. 8 Then David asked the Lord, “Should I chase after this band of raiders? Will I catch them?”

And the Lord told him, “Yes, go after them. You will surely recover everything that was taken from you!”

9 So David and his 600 men set out, and they came to the brook Besor. 10 But 200 of the men were too exhausted to cross the brook, so David continued the pursuit with 400 men.

11 Along the way they found an Egyptian man in a field and brought him to David. They gave him some bread to eat and water to drink. 12 They also gave him part of a fig cake and two clusters of raisins, for he hadn’t had anything to eat or drink for three days and nights. Before long his strength returned.

13 “To whom do you belong, and where do you come from?” David asked him.

“I am an Egyptian—the slave of an Amalekite,” he replied. “My master abandoned me three days ago because I was sick. 14 We were on our way back from raiding the Kerethites in the Negev, the territory of Judah, and the land of Caleb, and we had just burned Ziklag.”

15 “Will you lead me to this band of raiders?” David asked.

The young man replied, “If you take an oath in God’s name that you will not kill me or give me back to my master, then I will guide you to them.”

16 So he led David to them, and they found the Amalekites spread out across the fields, eating and drinking and dancing with joy because of the vast amount of plunder they had taken from the Philistines and the land of Judah. 17 David and his men rushed in among them and slaughtered them throughout that night and the entire next day until evening. None of the Amalekites escaped except 400 young men who fled on camels. 18 David got back everything the Amalekites had taken, and he rescued his two wives. 19 Nothing was missing: small or great, son or daughter, nor anything else that had been taken. David brought everything back. 20 He also recovered all the flocks and herds, and his men drove them ahead of the other livestock. “This plunder belongs to David!” they said.

21 Then David returned to the brook Besor and met up with the 200 men who had been left behind because they were too exhausted to go with him. They went out to meet David and his men, and David greeted them joyfully. 22 But some evil troublemakers among David’s men said, “They didn’t go with us, so they can’t have any of the plunder we recovered. Give them their wives and children, and tell them to be gone.”

23 But David said, “No, my brothers! Don’t be selfish with what the Lord has given us. He has kept us safe and helped us defeat the band of raiders that attacked us. 24 Who will listen when you talk like this? We share and share alike—those who go to battle and those who guard the equipment.” 25 From then on David made this a decree and regulation for Israel, and it is still followed today.

26 When he arrived at Ziklag, David sent part of the plunder to the elders of Judah, who were his friends. “Here is a present for you, taken from the Lord’s enemies,” he said.

27 The gifts were sent to the people of the following towns David had visited: Bethel, Ramoth-negev, Jattir, 28 Aroer, Siphmoth, Eshtemoa, 29 Racal,[a] the towns of the Jerahmeelites, the towns of the Kenites, 30 Hormah, Bor-ashan, Athach, 31 Hebron, and all the other places David and his men had visited.

In this passage, we find the answer of what David would do. He was put into a situation that by human nature was a no-brainer call for rage and an automatic knee-jerk reaction of retaliation. Most of us what fly off the handle and repay pain with pain. We would not think twice about a knee-jerk reaction of hurting someone for hurting you. What does David do?

He seeks the guidance of God. He prays. He seeks after what God wants him to do. Now there’s a novel plan for us all. I know that even for me, a conflict avoider to the point of it being a character flaw, there are times that conflict requires or demands a response from me. In those times, we must check ourselves the most. We must seek God. We must pray. Even when we are so angry that we don’t want to think about it and we just want to act and lash out in anger. Even then, we must seek the Lord. We must find what He wants us to do. We must seek to do His will. His will not ours.

Let us take heart of what David does here BEFORE he acts. He seeks God. He prays. He looks for God’s guidance in how to respond. No auto response here for David. He seeks after God. He lets God lead. Often we are like Saul (who always sought after his own passions and followed up with God later) and we should be like David (who sought after God and align his passions with God’s will). Man, this passage makes me admire David all the more. He was not perfect but man did he time and again seek God’s guidance before he acted (and when he didn’t it was always disastrous for him). That is the takeaway.

Seek God first before we act even when our soul cries out for acting in our own desires and passions.

 

Amen and Amen.

1 Samuel 29:1-11
The Philistines Reject David

As I sit here in April 2018 as the administrative/business pastor of Calvary Church under the leadership of a sensitive and humble leader and senior pastor, Tim Bowman. I am thankful for the rejection of a church that I interviewed with in December 2016/January 2017. There was a church in Ohio back during that time frame that I had gone through phone interviews and a video interview with and finally was invited for an on-site interview in January 2017. It was similar to the on-site interview that I had with Calvary. It was a weekend of interviews, showing us around the city and the church, attending Sunday worship services, and then finally after Sunday services, we had a final interview with the founding pastor, the current senior pastor and selected elders of the church.

The whole weekend was very positive and the sense that I had gotten from the whole interview process was that I was the leading candidate for the job. The original founding pastor, during our final Sunday afternoon large group interview, seemed to have some misgivings during the interview about the fact that I wanted to be more than just the business operations manager of the church. I wanted to be a pastor with teaching and preaching responsibilities in addition to my business management role. I thought I handled it well and everybody seemed satisfied with my answers to his questions. We returned home to South Carolina thinking that the job offer would follow the Monday evening after we got back home. We even spent Sunday and Monday night discussing how to sell our house and so on. However, Sunday and Monday came and went. Even Tuesday came and went. I was uneasy as I had heard nothing. Finally on Wednesday afternoon, I couldn’t take it anymore. I called the senior pastor and asked him what the deal was. He told me that after much discussion that they did not feel that I would be happy in the job and would not consider it a destination job and that I might be there only a few years and leave. I was crushed by the rejection. It took me a long time to get over it. I thought I had the job in the bag and I thought that this church was where God was leading us as a pastoral couple. I was distraught. I went through an emotional and spiritual valley as a result of the rejection.

However, sitting here today, as pastor on staff at Calvary Church of The Quad Cities, I can honestly say that I am thankful for the rejection now. Looking back at the previous close call in Ohio, I see that the church there was just not right for me. I wanted it so bad I overlooked some of the flaws that may haunt that church in the future and the job at that church simply is not what I have now at Calvary. Although I was crushed at the time and the rejection made me question my call to ministry for a couple of months, I am glad that it happened now. God designed this pastoral position at Calvary for me. The senior pastor at Calvary wants me to grow to be more and have growing responsibilities as I progress down the road with him. The church staff is awesome. There is true sense of family and unity to the staff that you can just sense. I can feel the Holy Spirit very palpably with His hand in the way the church is being positioned for the future right now. The senior pastor is reinvigorated with the energy that he has gathered in this season of change at the church. The new pastors and staff members that he has brought on board within the past year and half are all just eager and ready for what God is about to do in our church and its people. There is an eagerness here that I am so thankful that God has seen fit to allow me to be a part of. Just the feel of the place is right. God confirms for me daily that we are in the right place. I love this church, the senior pastor/my boss, the other staff pastors, and the non-pastoral staff of the church. And, man, are the people of the church just the most supportive people you would ever want to meet! I am convinced by the Holy Spirit daily of this being the right place for us. I am convinced by the Holy Spirit daily that as I gain a greater and greater grasp of my role here that I can really make a difference here. I am thankful for the rejection of a year ago. For without it, I would not be at Calvary Church. It kind of reminds you of the old 1990’s classic song by Garth Brooks, “Unanswered Prayers”. One part of the chorus of that song states “sometimes God’s greatest gifts are unanswered prayers!” Without the unanswered prayer/the rejection in Ohio, I would not be standing here in the perfect situation for Elena and me as a pastoral couple. We are in the right place because God was looking out for us in that situation in Ohio.

That idea of blessings being hidden in rejection is what I thought of this morning when I read through this passage, 1 Samuel 29:1-11, this morning. That idea of God looking out for us through rejection. That idea of God making sure that we do not fall for the immediate bright and shiny object in front of us so that he can lead us to where we really wants us to be is what I thought of. We may be dismayed at God at the time but we must trust Him to lead us to where He wants us to be. That’s the idea that came out of my study of this passage this morning. Let’s read it now together:

29 The entire Philistine army now mobilized at Aphek, and the Israelites camped at the spring in Jezreel. 2 As the Philistine rulers were leading out their troops in groups of hundreds and thousands, David and his men marched at the rear with King Achish. 3 But the Philistine commanders demanded, “What are these Hebrews doing here?”

And Achish told them, “This is David, the servant of King Saul of Israel. He’s been with me for years, and I’ve never found a single fault in him from the day he arrived until today.”

4 But the Philistine commanders were angry. “Send him back to the town you’ve given him!” they demanded. “He can’t go into the battle with us. What if he turns against us in battle and becomes our adversary? Is there any better way for him to reconcile himself with his master than by handing our heads over to him? 5 Isn’t this the same David about whom the women of Israel sing in their dances,

‘Saul has killed his thousands,
and David his ten thousands’?”

6 So Achish finally summoned David and said to him, “I swear by the Lord that you have been a trustworthy ally. I think you should go with me into battle, for I’ve never found a single flaw in you from the day you arrived until today. But the other Philistine rulers won’t hear of it. 7 Please don’t upset them, but go back quietly.”

8 “What have I done to deserve this treatment?” David demanded. “What have you ever found in your servant, that I can’t go and fight the enemies of my lord the king?”

9 But Achish insisted, “As far as I’m concerned, you’re as perfect as an angel of God. But the Philistine commanders are afraid to have you with them in the battle. 10 Now get up early in the morning, and leave with your men as soon as it gets light.”

11 So David and his men headed back into the land of the Philistines, while the Philistine army went on to Jezreel.

In this passage, we see that the other Philistine commanders knew that David was the one who, as young man, had killed their champion, Goliath (1 Samuel 17:32-54), had killed many Philistine soldiers (1 Samuel 18:27), and was the hero of Israelite victory songs ( 1 Samuel 21:11). They were afraid that, in the heat of battle against the Israelites, David might turn against them. Although David was upset at this disrespect at first, God used the commanders’ suspicions to keep him from having to fight against Saul and against his Israelite countrymen. Although David was, as was his normal sense of honor and duty, being loyal to the king that had showed him favor (as we have seen David being loyal to Saul, the man who was trying to chase him down and kill him), it would have so seeds of discord within Israel that would have hampered him greatly in his ability to rule the Israelite kingdom later. God was looking out for David’s future role and ability to lead the people of Israel later in his life. David was disappointed for sure but I bet years later he was thankful for this rejection.

Just as David was disappointed and distraught here because of the rejection and believing that he should have been rewarded for his loyalty to the Philistine king, he came to find out that in the long run, his rejection as a participant in the battle was the best thing for his later kingship. God was looking out for him. Same with me. The rejection of Ohio hurt deeply. I had done what God was calling me to do. I was seeking out opportunities to serve him as a full-time vocational pastor. I was seeking after him. I thought Ohio was the reward. However, God knew that church was not the right place for me. God knew that in the long run Calvary Church was the best place for me, was what He really wanted for me. I am thankful for the rejection now. I am so thankful for that rejection. I have no doubts that He has me in the right place now.

Sometimes God’s greatest gifts are unanswered prayers!

Amen and Amen.

1 Samuel 28:1-25
Saul Consults a Medium

Are there really demons? Is there really a Satan? These are questions that we don’t want the answers to in modern society. We think of Satan and demons as creations of the church to keep us in line and that such things were never real. First, in order to do that, we must discredit the Bible. We must see it as old fashioned and flawed. Once we have that convinced in people’s minds, then, we can attack its doctrines as flawed and then eliminate them. Once we have people convinced of that, we can then begin to pick and choose what of the Bible and the doctrines developed from God’s Word that we want to believe. One of the main doctrines that we want to eliminate in our “just be a good person” world is the doctrine of eternal punishment in hell for our sins. That then makes Jesus unnecessary as a Savior. He is just a self-help guru who only wants the best for you. You can choose to follow or not to follow with no impact because in the end there is no hell. If you get rid of hell and Jesus is just a nice guy with good advice for clean living, then, it follows that there are no demons and there is no Satan. It makes up good stuff for movies that scare the pants off ya but, in the end, it’s not real, right? Since there is no Satan and there are no demons. We eviscerate the Bible to just one of many options to have obtain life help from. We can dabble in anything we want to dabble in because none of it is real. All of this talk of God, Jesus, Satan, demons and all that stuff is just folklore. We can pick and choose from Islam, Hinduism, Christianity, Judaism, New Age because there is no consequence to what we should believe and not believe.

If there is no Satan, no demons, no hell, then there is no real evil. Then, there is no harm in playing games that consult the dead, because hey some religions do that. Seeking guidance from ancestors was the basis of some religions, right? It’s all OK because there’s no Satan, no demons, no hell, no real evil. Even allowing our kids to listen to satanic rock music and becoming obsessed with the occult and evil practices is OK, right? Because in the end there is no Satan, no demons, no hell, right?

The Bible tells us that Satan is real. The Bible tells us that demons are real. Jesus dealt with demons on more than one occasion as recorded in the gospels. You cannot believe in Jesus even as just a self-help guru without discounting his statements and actions against demons. In the letters to the churches, the apostles tell us that there are spiritual battles going on around us daily between the angels and demons. When we discount the Bible, we are free to believe and not believe whatever we want. Seeking information from ouiji boards, from psychics, praying to the dead has no impact, right? The Bible tells us in no uncertain terms that we are to stay away from it. You may discount the Old Testament as no longer applicable to us but Jesus said that He to fulfill the law and not to abolish it. Sure, the situational specific instructions to the Israelites of the law are not applicable to us but the moral laws and the spirit of the law from the Old Testament is still valid for us and validates our specific and real need for Jesus. So, the restrictions against seeking advice from anything other than God is real and valid.

I will admit that over the years since I became a Christ follower that I have had a hard time in my modern sensibilities truly believing in the existence of evil spirits or demons. I had always steered away from Ouija boards, tarot cards, fortune tellers and things like that because I didn’t want to take a chance but didn’t really know whether such things were real or not. However, as I have grown in my faith over the years since my salvation in December 2001, I have begun to believe more and more in their existence because the Bible tells us that they are real. The Bible tells us that there are indeed spiritual battles going on around us. I fully believe that Jesus cast out demons from people during His earthly ministry. Media reports of mass killers dabbling in death metal music and the occult seem to confirm the existence of demonic influences, demon oppression and even outright possession.

Recently, I had an experience with its existence that is as real to me now as it was when it happened to me two weeks ago. While we were in North Carolina for the funeral for my father in law, we stayed with my brother in law and his wife. They live in this really, really nice subdivision in Huntersville, NC, a northern suburb of Charlotte. My brother in law’s wife and my stepdaughter told of nightmares that they had had while sleeping or taking a nap in the upstairs guest bedroom of my brother in law’s house. I just blew it off as coincidence and laughed when my brother in law’s wife said that the previous owner of the house had their teenage boy whose room in the house was that room. The neighbors had told them that the teenage boy was into the Goth thing and was really into occult stuff and that dark music often referred to as death metal. The afternoon after the funeral we had family and friends at my brother in law’s house. Between family and friends there were about 25 people there for the meal and fellowship afterwards. They have a big house but with that many people it was crowded. I decided to get away from it all and take a nap after the big meal. I went upstairs to the upstairs guest bedroom. Low and behold while sleeping in there I began dreaming. And from the beginning of the dream, I had this ominous feeling like in that Stephen King movie, “It”, where everything turned into something else. While dreaming a teenage boy with his back to me turned around and it was this evil spirt of darkness under the hoody and I could not see a face just blackness and the hands of the boy grabbed me and his hands turned into this greenish skin color and with ugly long fingernails and the voice inside the hoody said to be in a gravel-ly voice that “I will tell you the REAL truth!”. For some reason, in my fear, I gather the energy to stick my face into the hoody and scream, “the REAL truth is in the name of Jesus Christ!” and I immediately woke up in a cold sweat.

Maybe it was a dream drawn from the power of suggestion from two other people. Maybe it was just a dream induced by something I ate. Maybe, maybe. Maybe. But it to me was verification of the existence of latent evil spirits drawn in by the previous owner’s son who lived in that room. We can invite the existence of evil into our lives. We can think that it is not real. We can dismiss Jesus’ casting out of demons as fabrications of the church. However, as we have discussed many times here, the gospels and other New Testament books were written within the lifetimes of both the advocates AND enemies of Jesus Christ and no one ever disputed the contents of the gospels, the church history in Acts, nor the letters to the churches. Therefore, I choose to believe the evidence of the biblical record and believe in God’s ban against dabbling in things that invite evil into our lives.

My dream while taking a nap in bedroom once occupied by a person who dabbled in the occult and listened to music about evil, death, and the devil was what I immediately thought of when I read about Saul seeking out a medium. It is no wonder that God had turned His back on Saul. He was not satisfied ever with simple obedience to God but rather wanted things his way and would praise God one minute for giving him what he wanted and seek a medium the next when God wasn’t giving him what he wanted. Let’s read through this episode in 1 Samuel 28 now:

28 About that time the Philistines mustered their armies for another war with Israel. King Achish told David, “You and your men will be expected to join me in battle.”

2 “Very well!” David agreed. “Now you will see for yourself what we can do.”

Then Achish told David, “I will make you my personal bodyguard for life.”

3 Meanwhile, Samuel had died, and all Israel had mourned for him. He was buried in Ramah, his hometown. And Saul had banned from the land of Israel all mediums and those who consult the spirits of the dead.

4 The Philistines set up their camp at Shunem, and Saul gathered all the army of Israel and camped at Gilboa. 5 When Saul saw the vast Philistine army, he became frantic with fear. 6 He asked the Lord what he should do, but the Lord refused to answer him, either by dreams or by sacred lots[a] or by the prophets. 7 Saul then said to his advisers, “Find a woman who is a medium, so I can go and ask her what to do.”

His advisers replied, “There is a medium at Endor.”

8 So Saul disguised himself by wearing ordinary clothing instead of his royal robes. Then he went to the woman’s home at night, accompanied by two of his men.

“I have to talk to a man who has died,” he said. “Will you call up his spirit for me?”

9 “Are you trying to get me killed?” the woman demanded. “You know that Saul has outlawed all the mediums and all who consult the spirits of the dead. Why are you setting a trap for me?”

10 But Saul took an oath in the name of the Lord and promised, “As surely as the Lord lives, nothing bad will happen to you for doing this.”

11 Finally, the woman said, “Well, whose spirit do you want me to call up?”

“Call up Samuel,” Saul replied.

12 When the woman saw Samuel, she screamed, “You’ve deceived me! You are Saul!”

13 “Don’t be afraid!” the king told her. “What do you see?”

“I see a god[b] coming up out of the earth,” she said.

14 “What does he look like?” Saul asked.

“He is an old man wrapped in a robe,” she replied. Saul realized it was Samuel, and he fell to the ground before him.

15 “Why have you disturbed me by calling me back?” Samuel asked Saul.

“Because I am in deep trouble,” Saul replied. “The Philistines are at war with me, and God has left me and won’t reply by prophets or dreams. So I have called for you to tell me what to do.”

16 But Samuel replied, “Why ask me, since the Lord has left you and has become your enemy? 17 The Lord has done just as he said he would. He has torn the kingdom from you and given it to your rival, David. 18 The Lord has done this to you today because you refused to carry out his fierce anger against the Amalekites. 19 What’s more, the Lord will hand you and the army of Israel over to the Philistines tomorrow, and you and your sons will be here with me. The Lord will bring down the entire army of Israel in defeat.”

20 Saul fell full length on the ground, paralyzed with fright because of Samuel’s words. He was also faint with hunger, for he had eaten nothing all day and all night.

21 When the woman saw how distraught he was, she said, “Sir, I obeyed your command at the risk of my life. 22 Now do what I say, and let me give you a little something to eat so you can regain your strength for the trip back.”

23 But Saul refused to eat anything. Then his advisers joined the woman in urging him to eat, so he finally yielded and got up from the ground and sat on the couch.

24 The woman had been fattening a calf, so she hurried out and killed it. She took some flour, kneaded it into dough and baked unleavened bread. 25 She brought the meal to Saul and his advisers, and they ate it. Then they went out into the night.

In this passage, we are reminded of the fact that God had strictly forbidden the Israelites from having anything to do with divination, sorcery, witchcraft, mediums, spiritualists or anyone who consults the dead (Deuteronomy 18:9-14). In fact, sorcerers were to be put to death (Exodus 22:18). Occult practices were carried on in the name of pagan gods, and people turned to the occult for answers that God would not give. Practitioners of the occult have Satan and his demons as the source of their information. God does not reveal His will to or through them. Instead, He speaks through His Word, Jesus Christ, and the Holy Spirit. God did not answer Saul’s appeals because Saul had not followed God’s previous instructions.

Are you dissatisfied with God? Are you dissatisfied with His lack of answer to your prayers? Are you dissatisfied with the answer that He has given you? So what do you do? Will you seek out other forms of advice that are not of God? Are you willing to disobey God to get the answers that you want? Saul invited evil into his life because he did not want the answers that God gave him. He sought out the occult when God did vend the right product from the vending machine. That is why many of us drift toward making ourselves god and seeking alternatives other than God. We can drift into evil so easily. And when we become dissatisfied with God, and want to take matters into our hands like Saul, we are open season for Satan.

I am not saying that all of us will experience encounters with oppression or possession of some of these flashy instances of Satan’s existence because more often that Satan’s influence in our lives is more subtle – like a frog sitting in a pot of water where the heat is gradually, gradually increased to the point of boiling. The frog doesn’t even realize what is happening to him until it too late. It is the same most often with sin. We gradually allow ourselves to get entangled with sin because we want to do what we want to do. Satan entices us to do what we want rather than obey. He exists. He is real. He is sometimes blatant as in the examples I have given but most often he is beautiful and sly and invites his world little by little.

We must rebuke Him in the name of Jesus and take heed of God’s Word and obey, not because we are robots but because we love God and know that He wants to keep us from the harm that following Satan openly or subtly can bring to our lives.

Amen and Amen.

1 Samuel 27:8-12
David’s Army Raids Foreign Lands

To tell the truth or not to tell the truth. That is the question. For today, there will be no great illustration. Just the Scripture and then the discussion. This is a hot topic among Christ followers so let’s just get right to it and then discuss it. Here’s the passage, 1 Samuel 27:8-12:

8 David and his men spent their time raiding the Geshurites, the Girzites, and the Amalekites—people who had lived near Shur, toward the land of Egypt, since ancient times. 9 David did not leave one person alive in the villages he attacked. He took the sheep, goats, cattle, donkeys, camels, and clothing before returning home to see King Achish.

10 “Where did you make your raid today?” Achish would ask.

And David would reply, “Against the south of Judah, the Jerahmeelites, and the Kenites.”

11 No one was left alive to come to Gath and tell where he had really been. This happened again and again while he was living among the Philistines. 12 Achish believed David and thought to himself, “By now the people of Israel must hate him bitterly. Now he will have to stay here and serve me forever!”

In this passage, we see that David probably conducted these guerilla-style raids because these three tribes were known for their surprise attacks and cruel treatment of innocent people. These desert tribes were a danger not just to the Philistines but especially to the Israelites, the people that David would one day lead. That all makes sense from a military, political and future governance standpoint, but David lied.

Let’s relate this situation to modern times. What if in World War II, you were captured by the Nazis and were going to be forced to reveal the location of your troops? You are a Christian. What do you do? Do you lie and preserve life or do you tell the truth and cause the death of thousands of American troops? What if you were in North Korea or China today and you were being asked to reveal the names of the participants in your house church? Would you lie to preserve their lives? What if you are in a situation where you would lose your job (and you are the sole breadwinner for your family) if you did not go along with something that was slightly unethical but necessary and if you did stand up against it you would not only lose your job but your company would lose a major contract? What would you do? What if revealing that you were a Christian would cost you your job or even your life? Is it ever ok for us as Christians to lie? You and I have been faced with this situation in some way over the years. And most likely as with me, you have likely failed. We have lied to preserve ourselves or those we love or to preserve our income or reputation or the reputation of others? Is it ever ok?

Man, I admit that I am struggling with this passage. I know that David did not want to fight against his own people. I know that there was advantage to both the Philistines and the Israelites by doing what he actually did? So why lie about it? I am sure that David felt like that the Philistines would have killed him or imprisoned him or at the very least sent him back to Israel where Saul would chase him again if he were in the kingdom or Israel.

What would you do? What would I do? What if we were in situations where we were doing God’s work and we find ourselves in that quandary of staying alive to do God’s work or telling the truth and dying. And for us in our protected, wealthy, American world, what if you and I had to choose between our jobs and the truth and if we told the truth we lost our job and got blackballed and found it hard to find a job after that. What would you do? Where do we draw the line? What are the exceptions or is telling the truth a 100% of the time thing no matter what no matter the cost?

The only thing that I know is that the consistent nature of God is truth. He is truth. Having recognized that lying may be acceptable in rare situations, we should now consider the overwhelming biblical emphasis condemning falsehood. There are six things the Lord hates, seven that are an abomination to Him: haughty eyes, a lying tongue, and hands that shed innocent blood, a heart that devises wicked plans, feet that hurry to run to evil, a lying witness who testifies falsely, and one who sows discord in a family. (Proverbs 6:16–19). Lying lips are an abomination to the Lord (Proverbs 12:22). But as for the cowardly, the faithless, the polluted, the murderers, the fornicators, the sorcerers, the idolaters and all liars, their place will be in the lake that burns with fire and sulfur, which is the second death (Revelation 21:8). In Ephesians, the apostle Paul says to “put away your former way of life, your old self, corrupt and deluded by its lusts” (4:22). Then he says, “So then, putting away falsehood, let all of us speak the truth to our neighbors” (4:25). It is clear that falsehood is a specific characteristic of the “old self.” Paul is saying: “Get rid of your old self. Specifically, get rid of falsehood.” But yet, there are evidences in the Bible, too, of not revealing the truth or lying as preserving life in the face of evil.

Why did these people in the Bible get a pass and we as Christians in the modern world do not? Well, I do not think that this is the case. I do believe that when we lie, even if it is for the best of reasons such as the preservation of life in the face of evil, we should, as Christians, be heartbroken over it. We should be pained by it. We should seek forgiveness for it. And for sure when we are about to be placed into positions where we have to make a choice, any decision about that situation must be bathed in prayer. Let us pray to the Holy Spirit to guide us in what to do, how to answer, and go with His guidance and trust Him with the outcome even if it means our death or the loss of a job or the loss of a friendship or whatever. I cannot believe that God will want us to lie. He may lead us to not revealing the full truth. He may lead us to that option that preserves life and not revealing necessary information to evildoers. God values truth and God values the lives of His people. Sometimes, we may have to sacrifice everything including our lives to remain true to God. Every ethical quandary that we find ourselves in must be bathed in prayer and we must seek what God wants us to do and not have a knee-jerk reaction to lie – because that is our nature to knee-jerk lie to save ourselves and others. Let us seek God’s wisdom and trust Him with the outcome and not necessarily seek automatically to preserve our lives or jobs, or whatever.

What we see in David is that he is so human just like you and me. What makes the difference with David is that he always recognized his sins and sought forgiveness from the Lord with a repentant heart for his mistakes. And his lies!

Amen and Amen.

1 Samuel 27:1-7
David Among the Philistines

As I sit here mid-morning on a Saturday on my couch beginning this blog at a time that is usually late for me. It is now a quarter til 11am. It is this lazy pace on a Saturday that is much needed. I needed to sleep late on this Saturday. For this 55 year old man, sleeping late means til around 8:30 or til my bladder demands attention – whichever comes first. But since I got out of bed, Elena and I have been reading our daily devotionals, drinking coffee, and having conversations about church business, church plans for the future, our potential parts in all that, and just about life in general. Rest. Much needed leisurely pace.

Prior to this weekend, we have not really had a weekend to just catch our breath since we moved to Illinois. We have either been packing, unpacking, looking for houses, and moving again from our temporary apartment to the home we purchased in Rock Island – doing much of the moving of personal items ourselves in the back of my SUV. And then there was the unpacking of everything (we didn’t unpack all of our personal belongings at the temp apartment) and putting it into place where we (I really mean, Elena…LOL) wanted it. Then there was all during our first two months here were activities on either Friday or Saturday (my normal days off) that were necessary because of special circumstances in the life of the church. Add to that, we had to travel back to the Charlotte, NC area last weekend and the first two days of this past week for events related to the funeral for Elena’s dad. So, yesterday and today, is the first weekend that we have had with no real commitments or things to do. Outside of a drop-in related to our life group, we have had and will have no agenda for this weekend. Yesterday, we were actually able to take care of tax stuff related to our house and our cars to make us official Illinois residents. But that was because we had the time for the first time to do it. And, today, like I said, outside of the drop-in, we do not have any agenda at all. We needed this weekend. I needed this weekend. Rest. Much needed leisurely pace.

I think that sometimes as pastors and pastoral couples, and as Christ followers in general, we get so caught up in the business or busy-ness of the church life that you forget to take time to rest and relax. We forget in our busy-ness why we are doing what we are doing. For those who are not employed by churches, the same is true too. We get so busy with soccer, baseball, softball, basketball, football, etc. with our kids and paying bills and getting to our “leisure activities” that we get so tired out that we forget to rest and relax. We forget to take in the wonders of God. We forget to take in the blessings that He has bestowed upon us. That’s what I thought of this morning as I read through this passage, 1 Samuel 27:1-7, this morning. Let’s read it now together:

Chapter 27
1 But David kept thinking to himself, “Someday Saul is going to get me. The best thing I can do is escape to the Philistines. Then Saul will stop hunting for me in Israelite territory, and I will finally be safe.”

2 So David took his 600 men and went over and joined Achish son of Maoch, the king of Gath. 3 David and his men and their families settled there with Achish at Gath. David brought his two wives along with him—Ahinoam from Jezreel and Abigail, Nabal’s widow from Carmel. 4 Word soon reached Saul that David had fled to Gath, so he stopped hunting for him.

5 One day David said to Achish, “If it is all right with you, we would rather live in one of the country towns instead of here in the royal city.”

6 So Achish gave him the town of Ziklag (which still belongs to the kings of Judah to this day), 7 and they lived there among the Philistines for a year and four months.

In this passage, we saw that Saul finally stopped pursuing David. His army was not strong enough to invade Philistia and battle with its army with the goal being simply to track down one man. Further, with David out of the country, the immediate threat to Saul’s throne was gone with David out of the country. In God’s sovereignty, David knew that there was a time of peace needed. David needed a place to rest and regroup and have a place to call home for a while. We all need times of rest. We all need a place to call home.

For Elena and I this morning, it is really the first morning that we can sit and relax and realize that this is home. We have been living temporarily in many ways since we started packing up our house in Lyman prior to the movers coming on February 14th. We have been on the go with activity, living temporarily with family before we left for Illinois, slightly unpacking at the temporary apartment, all the go-go-go that has characterized the first few weeks on the job and uneasiness of learning my new role as Director of Business/Staff Pastor at the church, seeking a house, buying a house, moving and unpacking everything and putting it into place, Easter at church, traveling back and forth to/from Charlotte, and now breathe…exhale…rest.

David needed it, too. He had been on the run for so long. Living temporarily every he could find a moment. Fleeing from a man trying to kill him. The move to Philistia and gaining a town he could call home for a while. A place to take his armor off. A place to sit by the fire without his sword at his side. A time to sleep without one eye open. It may have seemed as though David had lost faith in God’s ability by fleeing to Philistia but I don’t see it that way. Because of our last two months of flurry, I can see where David just wanted to get out of harm’s way and catch his breath and live a normal life for a while. He was a warrior for sure but even warriors need down time. In God’s sovereignty, David was guided to rest and wait for the inevitable death of Saul. He had been on the run. He needed rest. He would become king and the rest of his life would be filled with royal management duties. He needed this moment. God knew David needed this rest. This time of not scheming and planning and running and avoiding. He needed this time.

That is my prayer for you today as well. Let us remember that we need rest. God even rested on the 7th day of His cycle of creation to demonstrate to us that we need down time. God is eternal and all powerful and does not sleep since He is existence, He is being, He is I AM but His resting on the 7th day was for us, to demonstrate to us that rest is necessary. We need rest so that we do not get burnt out in life. As Christ followers, we need rest so that we do not get so caught up in the tasks of carrying the gospel to the nations that we forget that it is the gospel that is important not the tasks. The tasks are necessary to carry the gospel message but the tasks are not the reason for what we do. We must have rest. We must have time to seek God in quiet and peace. We need time to restore our vigor for what we are doing. If we get caught up in the doing of Christianity, we forget the being of Christianity. We cannot get so caught up in the doing that we forget to develop and nurture relationships. We cannot get so caught up in the busy-ness of being a Christ follower that we forget to be the light on the hill to the unchurched. We need rest. We need to be able to take stock and take a breath. We need time with God just being with Him. Take time to rest. Take time to forget the details for a moment. Take time to look up toward the heavens and see God and be with God.

Amen and Amen.