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.

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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.

1 Samuel 26:1-25
David Spares Saul Again

“I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.” Martin Luther King uttered these beautiful words during his speech at The March on Washington for Jobs & Freedom on August 28, 1963. Dr. King, though an imperfect sinner just as you and I were, was an amazing man who fought the good fight against institutional racism in our country. There were those in his day in the fight for equality that wanted a course of violent reaction of meeting violence against blacks with violence against whites. Dr. King, however, chose to meet violence with peace, hate with love, and division with unity. His speech that day, laced with biblical references, called for love to reign such that one day black and white children in Mississippi, Alabama and other Southern states could sit down together as friends and not as enemies, a day when black men and white women could sit at the same lunch counter, a day when color was not a consideration for who you could be seen with or hang out with.

All of his protests against institutionalized racism were peaceful. The violence always came from the white establishment. Sure, there were those such as Malcolm X and the Black Panthers that wanted an all out retaliatory race war in the South as payback by blacks for centuries of oppression there. However, it was Martin Luther King’s voice of peace that still resonates today. Dr. King would have been appalled at the looting and rioting of recent years after decisions by courts that were not to the liking of minorities here in the 21st century. His reaction would have been one of peace and to work for real long-term solutions to the problem. Instead of destroying the surface, he would dig down to the root of the problem and begin work on that which would change what happens at the surface. Destroying the weed by cutting off the surface of it will not get rid of the weed. Only when we dig below ground level and dig out the roots of the weed, can we eradicate the weed altogether.

Violence always begets violence. Violence never brings the victory desired. It simply steles the resolve of the combatants involved. My brother and I were often violent with each other as boys are when growing up together and particularly when they are only 18 months apart in age. My brother and I were so competitive about everything. We had to win no matter what against each other. When we were younger in our pre-teen days, it would always lead to some type of altercation. Some were just one blow. Some were all out fights. We had a couple of doozies over the years – one where I knocked one of his teeth loose, another where I hit him so hard in his private parts that it’s a wonder that he was able to have kids. All of that jealousy-inspired violence as small children and preteens led to distrust between us, to protecting our turf between us, to not wanting to be around each other more than we had to between us. Even though the violence stopped as we grew into teenagers, we still did not like each other much as teens not only because we were so different from each other but because of the history of jealousy and the fights. It was not until we grew into adulthood and away from home that we began to close all the wounds and to forgive. I love my brother and we have forgiven each other for the history but the history is still there. It effects our relationship to this day in only a latent sort of way, but it’s still there. I love my brother and would run to South Carolina in a moment’s notice if he needed me now. But I can still see some of our childhood fights in my mind right now as if they occurred yesterday. Violence is a stain that cannot be erased. We can forgive, but the scars remain.

Just as it is with institutional racism. Dr. King worked long and hard to eradicate it. Though the institutional versions of racism may be gone from our society, the scars and memories of racism plague our country to this day. There is a basic distrust in general (though there are many great friendships between blacks and whites) between the races even to this day even though great strides in race relations have been gained because of the work of men like Dr. King and by whites who had the guts to stand up and say that this ends here. The scars remain. The distrust causes racism to flare up into boiling points still even now. Will we ever get to the point that the history of institutional racism and taught generational racism will be gone forever? Or will the stain of the history of violence and hatred be passed on continually and perpetually? Will we always have to pay for the past in the relationships between blacks and whites?

The state of race relations and the state of my relationship with brother were what came to mind this morning as I read how David spared Saul’s life once again. David had every right by human standards just to take vengeance on Saul as he slept. But he didn’t! There is a lesson about the price of violence and hatred in this passage that is so spot-on for us in today’s world. Let us read this passage/chapter together, 1 Samuel 26, right now:

Chapter 26

1 Now some men from Ziph came to Saul at Gibeah to tell him, “David is hiding on the hill of Hakilah, which overlooks Jeshimon.”

2 So Saul took 3,000 of Israel’s elite troops and went to hunt him down in the wilderness of Ziph. 3 Saul camped along the road beside the hill of Hakilah, near Jeshimon, where David was hiding. When David learned that Saul had come after him into the wilderness, 4 he sent out spies to verify the report of Saul’s arrival.

5 David slipped over to Saul’s camp one night to look around. Saul and Abner son of Ner, the commander of his army, were sleeping inside a ring formed by the slumbering warriors. 6 “Who will volunteer to go in there with me?” David asked Ahimelech the Hittite and Abishai son of Zeruiah, Joab’s brother.

“I’ll go with you,” Abishai replied. 7 So David and Abishai went right into Saul’s camp and found him asleep, with his spear stuck in the ground beside his head. Abner and the soldiers were lying asleep around him.

8 “God has surely handed your enemy over to you this time!” Abishai whispered to David. “Let me pin him to the ground with one thrust of the spear; I won’t need to strike twice!”

9 “No!” David said. “Don’t kill him. For who can remain innocent after attacking the Lord’s anointed one? 10 Surely the Lord will strike Saul down someday, or he will die of old age or in battle. 11 The Lord forbid that I should kill the one he has anointed! But take his spear and that jug of water beside his head, and then let’s get out of here!”

12 So David took the spear and jug of water that were near Saul’s head. Then he and Abishai got away without anyone seeing them or even waking up, because the Lord had put Saul’s men into a deep sleep.

13 David climbed the hill opposite the camp until he was at a safe distance. 14 Then he shouted down to the soldiers and to Abner son of Ner, “Wake up, Abner!”

“Who is it?” Abner demanded.

15 “Well, Abner, you’re a great man, aren’t you?” David taunted. “Where in all Israel is there anyone as mighty? So why haven’t you guarded your master the king when someone came to kill him? 16 This isn’t good at all! I swear by the Lord that you and your men deserve to die, because you failed to protect your master, the Lord’s anointed! Look around! Where are the king’s spear and the jug of water that were beside his head?”

17 Saul recognized David’s voice and called out, “Is that you, my son David?”

And David replied, “Yes, my lord the king. 18 Why are you chasing me? What have I done? What is my crime? 19 But now let my lord the king listen to his servant. If the Lord has stirred you up against me, then let him accept my offering. But if this is simply a human scheme, then may those involved be cursed by the Lord. For they have driven me from my home, so I can no longer live among the Lord’s people, and they have said, ‘Go, worship pagan gods.’ 20 Must I die on foreign soil, far from the presence of the Lord? Why has the king of Israel come out to search for a single flea? Why does he hunt me down like a partridge on the mountains?”

21 Then Saul confessed, “I have sinned. Come back home, my son, and I will no longer try to harm you, for you valued my life today. I have been a fool and very, very wrong.”

22 “Here is your spear, O king,” David replied. “Let one of your young men come over and get it. 23 The Lord gives his own reward for doing good and for being loyal, and I refused to kill you even when the Lord placed you in my power, for you are the Lord’s anointed one. 24 Now may the Lord value my life, even as I have valued yours today. May he rescue me from all my troubles.”

25 And Saul said to David, “Blessings on you, my son David. You will do many heroic deeds, and you will surely succeed.” Then David went away, and Saul returned home.

In this passage, we see that we must ask the question, “Why did David refuse to kill Saul?” God had placed Saul in power and had not yet removed him. David did not want to run ahead of God’s timing. We are in similar situations when we have leaders in church or business or government who are unfaithful or incompetent. It may be easy for us to criticize or move against a leader oblivious to God’s hidden purpose and timing. Determining not to do wrong, David left Saul’s destiny in God’s hands. While we should not ignore sin or sit back and allow evil or injustice to stand, neither should we take actions that are against God’s commands. We should work for righteousness while trusting God with the outcome.

Why is it that we honor Dr. King? He was no great warrior. He did not call for an all out civil war between blacks and whites in the South and elsewhere. He called for change in people from the inside out. He called people to stop the violence and hatred even when you don’t trust the other person to stop. We must begin with the resolve that the violence ends with me. To not respond to violence with violence. He called for non-violent change. He called for returning violence with non-violence. His call for peaceful protest changed the world’s view of institutional racism in the South. He brought light to injustice with non-violent reaction to violence. He called his people to be lambs amongst the wolves. He knew that love would when in the end. It may take generations upon generations. It may take a long, long time. But getting at the root of the weed make take longer but it wins in the end when trying to get rid of the weed. Love wins in the end. Not violence. Love means having scars but loving despite the distrust caused by the scars.

Why do my brother and I have a good relationship now? We both had to stand down. We both had to say the violence ends with me. We both had to trust each other when our guts screamed not to. We both had to drop the rock in our hand and extend the hand of friendship. Who did it first I do not know! Maybe, we just got tired of fighting. Maybe, we gave the other some help when they needed it most and that changed everything. Yes, my brother and I have scars of the history of jealousy and violence between us but we love each other now because love wins in the end, not violence, not hatred. Sure, my brother and I have those memories of the ugliness of the dark side of relationship that are as fresh today as they were when we were kids and preteens and teenagers, but we chose to stand down, but we choose to drop the club in our hands. We choose to value the relationship that we cannot change. We are brothers and nothing will change that. We are forever tied to one another as brothers. We must value that. We must love that. Love wins in the end.

Why did David not take his vengeance on Saul when he had this second opportunity to do? Why didn’t he? Man, wouldn’t you have done so against a man that was using the full force of the Israelite monarchy to kill you? He chose not to kill. He honored his king. He knew that killing Saul might satisfy his inner demon of lust for revenge but that it would lead to all out civil war. It would have led to the weakening of Israel into two factions – a house divided will fall in on itself. David knew that violence would only beget more violence. He knew that the violent act would led to generational hatred that would be passed on from generation to generation. He knew that if he let Saul live, Saul would eventually die and that he would become king as the Lord had promised. He saw that love would win in the end.

Is there someone in your life with whom you have a need to forgive? Is there someone in your life where you are holding a club in your hand ready to take up vengeance against? Think of Jesus Christ on the cross. He could have easily come down from the cross and took His vengeance on those that put Him there, but He didn’t. Love wins in the end. Who remembers the names of the men who put Jesus on the cross? Everyone remembers Jesus because he chose love over violence. He chose forgiveness over hatred. He was love. He won in the end. Jesus is our example of choosing to love in the face of hatred. Drop the club in your hand. Love wins in the end. Pray for your enemies. Love when violence is called for. Forgive when unforgiveness is called for. Then, we are like Jesus. We are like David. Love wins in the end.

Amen and Amen.

1 Samuel 25:39-44
David Marries Abigail

This passage is one of those that evokes memories of proposals of marriage. When I read through it, my proposal to Elena came to mind. Back on Valentine’s Day 2009, I had been living in California since the previous May. In October 2008, what had been a temporary assignment in California became a permanent one. So for all that time, Elena and I had been living on opposite ends of the country. I was in San Francisco Bay Area and she was living back in South Carolina, at that time – just south of Charlotte, NC. We saw each other on about every 3rd weekend. She would fly out to California or I would fly back to my home state of South Carolina. That way we only had to travel individually about once every six weeks.

In the midst of all that, Valentine Weekend 2009 rolled around. She flew out to California that weekend. I had planned us a great weekend up in the North Bay area in Napa Valley. We were going to visit wineries, have great food, roam around the countryside, and sit around coffee shops in downtown Napa and people watch. On Valentine’s Day evening, I had found this quaint restaurant that was this huge old farmhouse that had been converted into this really chic restaurant. As we were seated I pulled the waiter aside and gave our waiter the diamond ring in the box that it came in and asked him to put it on top of her dessert at the end of our meal. It was to be this chocolate mousse kind of thing so I asked him to write “will you marry me?” in chocolate on the plate around its edging. As we ate our meal, I was as nervous as a lady of the evening in church on a Sunday morning, as nervous as a cat on a hot tin roof, as nervous as a long-tailed cat in a room full of rocking chairs, well, you get the drift. I was so nervous that I could barely eat. And if you know me, THAT’S saying something.

Finally, we get through the main parts of the meal and get to dessert and coffee time. They bring out her dessert and place it in front of her. However, she never would look down at her plate. She kept talking to me. I guess she was waiting for them to bring me a dessert but I guess she didn’t hear me say to them that we would share her dessert – fitting idea considering the situation. So, she just kept right along having conversation with me without looking down at her plate. It got to the point that I was trying to give her visual cues. I would look down at the plate and back up at her in quick succession to kind of give her the hint to look down at the plate. She was being polite I guess. She wouldn’t look down at the dessert plate! She wouldn’t look down! Finally, I had to tell her to look down at the plate. There sitting tastefully (pardon the pun) on top of the slice of chocolate mousse was her diamond ring. Around the edging on the dessert plate, the waiter had written “Will You Marry Me?” in this dark chocolate syrup. At that point, the proposal was on! Luckily, for me, Elena said yes.

Since then, she has followed me from South Carolina to California back to South Carolina and now to Illinois. We have lived in Rock Hill, SC, then, Livermore, CA, then Lyman, SC, and now, Rock Island, IL. She has followed me everywhere I have asked her to go. We have done ministry together as volunteer leaders together in Livermore and in Lyman. We are now a minister and his wife doing ministry in northwest Illinois. Without intention of being so, we are on our third state together in these 11 years since I first met her. Just as Abigail came upon David and through their conversation started a relationship that would be amazingly good for David. Abigail was a wise woman who made David a better man. Similarly, our meeting along the way (in the laundromat in the apartment complex where we had moved into the same building six months apart) led me to find that Elena has been the amazing wife to me that she has been. I am thankful for the wise counsel and the unconditional love and the Ruth-like loyalty that Elena has shown me over the years.

My proposal to Elena is what I thought of this morning as I read through this passage. Let’s read it now together (1 Samuel 25:39-44):

39 When David heard that Nabal was dead, he said, “Praise the Lord, who has avenged the insult I received from Nabal and has kept me from doing it myself. Nabal has received the punishment for his sin.” Then David sent messengers to Abigail to ask her to become his wife.

40 When the messengers arrived at Carmel, they told Abigail, “David has sent us to take you back to marry him.”

41 She bowed low to the ground and responded, “I, your servant, would be happy to marry David. I would even be willing to become a slave, washing the feet of his servants!” 42 Quickly getting ready, she took along five of her servant girls as attendants, mounted her donkey, and went with David’s messengers. And so she became his wife. 43 David also married Ahinoam from Jezreel, making both of them his wives. 44 Saul, meanwhile, had given his daughter Michal, David’s wife, to a man from Gallim named Palti son of Laish.

In this passage, we see that David rewards Abigail’s submission and loyalty to him with a proposal of marriage. In the absence of his proposal, Abigail would have been dependent on the eldest son if there was one for her economic well being. In those days, a woman had no inheritance rights and was solely dependent on her husband for her financial needs. Thus, her submission and acceptance of David’s proposal was a life-saver for Abigail. She was grateful to David for his proposal of marriage and repaid him with her love, loyalty and wise counsel. I am certain that David was grateful to God for orchestrating his meeting with Abigail. She was his wisest and best wife. Similarly for me, I am grateful to God for that “chance” meeting with Elena. Similarly for Elena, her loyalty and submission to her husband has been rewarded with a life that has been better than her life before.

I can see symbolism of salvation and baptism in this passage and that’s where I want to end this blog today. In Nabal, we see Abigail’s old life. To me, in this passage, David represents Jesus to us. When Abigail meets David, she suffers the death of her husband and must now cling to David and as she willingly does so, she finds a new life with David. Her life will never be the same ever again after meeting David. Similarly, when we find our salvation in Jesus Christ, we leave our old life behind. We suffer the death of our old life. In accepting Jesus as our Savior, we accept his proposal to be wed with Him. Once we accept this proposal, we have new life and our life will never be the same again. In return, we submit to Jesus Christ and give him our loyalty, love and obedience.

Amen and Amen.

 

1 Samuel 25:23-38 (Part 2 of 2)
Abigail Intercedes for Nabal

A few years back there was song by the Christian contemporary music group, Sidewalk Prophets, called “You Love Me Anyway”. That song came to mind this morning. The chorus of the song goes like this:

But You love me anyway
It’s like nothing in life that I’ve ever known
Yes, You love me anyway
Oh, Lord, how You love me
How You love me

That song and its title is appropriate for this morning’s passage…

When I read this passage about Abigail, Nabal and David, although the outcome is different, I think about my own, personal journey to the cross. This passage is a story of intercession on another’s behalf to keep from righteous judgment. When I think back to my own journey to the cross, this passage resonates with me. Abigail intercedes on behalf of her husband, Nabal, who is a complete jerk, before David. In my own journey, when looking back at it, I know that Jesus was interceding on my behalf with the Father.

Prior to my accepting Jesus Christ as my Savior, I lived the Nabal life. Although I thought of myself as a martyr and a victim because of my first wife’s addictions and her treatment of me over the years, I was still a very self-centered person. My anger toward her that grew over the years, now that I look back at it, was not so much because of concern over what was happening to our marriage but rather because she was holding me back from my selfish desires. Having to clean up her messes (literal and metaphorical ones), dealing with her unwillingness to move away from the Greenville area, her insane jealousies, her manipulations and all kept me from living the lifestyle of the jet-setting party animal executive that I wanted to be. In other relationships after that one died, it was definitely about being the party boy. Everything revolved around living it up with wine, women, and song. Living for the weekend. Living for the party. Living for the chase and the conquer when it came to women. I wasn’t one of those guys that went to clubs all the time but it was all about partying with friends and dating.

Even in those days before my salvation and before I made Jesus my Lord as well as my Savior, Jesus was looking out for me and interceding with the Father. Don’t get me wrong, I was not irresponsible. I was the consummate professional and did well in my career always. I don’t have a story where I lost everything to drugs or alcohol or whatever. I was able to fully advance my career step by step over the years and I was good at and still am good at what I do. However, my life was indeed about selfish desires and seeking my own pleasures in those days. I was self-seeking, pleasure-seeking, self-rationalizing of moral lapses, all those things that you do to make yourself, rationalize yourself into good person status but yet continue to live a life far from God. Even after salvation, the Holy Spirit had much work to do to make Jesus Christ my Lord as well as being my Savior. Even though I was saved in December 2001, it was not until about 8 years later when I met Luke and Felisha Brower, my pastor and his wife, when I lived in Livermore, CA that I truly began to mature in Christ. Those two set me (and Elena) on the spiritual maturation path that has led us to LifeSong Church in Lyman, SC to Senior Pastor Jeff Hickman and Discipleship Pastor Tim Lyda. These two guys taught us to take responsibility for our own spiritual growth and to grow into leaders within the church. It was these two that led me to following my calling into full-time ministry that now finds me under the leadership of Senior Pastor Tim Bowman at Calvary Church in Moline, IL. What a trip this journey has been. If you had told me 17 years ago that I was be a full-time pastor now, I would have laughed at you. If you had told be that 27 years ago, I would have laughed myself into the floor.

When I look back on my spiritual journey to the cross, my salvation in December 2001, the succeeding years of spiritual infancy, and the amazing spiritual growth of the last decade to the point that I am a full-time pastor now, I know….I mean I really know…that Jesus was interceding on my behalf with the Father. The intersections of people into my life. The events in my life. The things that a non-believer would say are chance or random coincidences that worked out well are, to me, just the completely amazing work of Jesus Christ. He orchestrated all these people, towns, events, circumstances in my life over the years to lead me to the cross. He orchestrated people, towns, events, circumstances in my life since the cross to grow me up, chisel me, iron sharpens iron me. Just thinking about the people that he has intersected with my life makes my eyes well up with tears knowing that Jesus was looking out for me and moving me toward what He has had intended for me all along. Sure, He would have rather I found my salvation in Him prior to age 39 but He even uses the mess of my life to be part of my message to others about the redemptive power of the cross. It makes me grateful for the wonders of Jesus Christ. He love me anyway. He loved me enough to never give up on me. He loved me enough to orchestrate His intercessions in my life. It makes me want to cry with tears of joy when I think about how He was looking out for me even when I was being the self-centered little brat that I was.

With that idea of God’s intercessory power through Jesus Christ and the action of the Holy Spirit, let’s read about this scene now in 1 Samuel 25:23-38 one more time before we move on to the next passage:

23 When Abigail saw David, she quickly got off her donkey and bowed low before him. 24 She fell at his feet and said, “I accept all blame in this matter, my lord. Please listen to what I have to say. 25 I know Nabal is a wicked and ill-tempered man; please don’t pay any attention to him. He is a fool, just as his name suggests.[a] But I never even saw the young men you sent.

26 “Now, my lord, as surely as the Lord lives and you yourself live, since the Lord has kept you from murdering and taking vengeance into your own hands, let all your enemies and those who try to harm you be as cursed as Nabal is. 27 And here is a present that I, your servant, have brought to you and your young men. 28 Please forgive me if I have offended you in any way. The Lord will surely reward you with a lasting dynasty, for you are fighting the Lord’s battles. And you have not done wrong throughout your entire life.

29 “Even when you are chased by those who seek to kill you, your life is safe in the care of the Lord your God, secure in his treasure pouch! But the lives of your enemies will disappear like stones shot from a sling! 30 When the Lord has done all he promised and has made you leader of Israel, 31 don’t let this be a blemish on your record. Then your conscience won’t have to bear the staggering burden of needless bloodshed and vengeance. And when the Lord has done these great things for you, please remember me, your servant!”

32 David replied to Abigail, “Praise the Lord, the God of Israel, who has sent you to meet me today! 33 Thank God for your good sense! Bless you for keeping me from murder and from carrying out vengeance with my own hands. 34 For I swear by the Lord, the God of Israel, who has kept me from hurting you, that if you had not hurried out to meet me, not one of Nabal’s men would still be alive tomorrow morning.” 35 Then David accepted her present and told her, “Return home in peace. I have heard what you said. We will not kill your husband.”

36 When Abigail arrived home, she found that Nabal was throwing a big party and was celebrating like a king. He was very drunk, so she didn’t tell him anything about her meeting with David until dawn the next day. 37 In the morning when Nabal was sober, his wife told him what had happened. As a result he had a stroke,[b] and he lay paralyzed on his bed like a stone. 38 About ten days later, the Lord struck him, and he died.

In this passage, we see Abigail intercedes with David on behalf of Nabal. Nabal doesn’t even know or care that Abigail essentially saved him from dying a gruesome death (and the lives of Nabal’s workers as well). He was just partying along without a care. Abigail cared enough about her husband to intercede on his behalf. She loved him that much. Even though she interceded on his behalf, he must have still rejected what she had done for him and he died. Many of us don’t even realize when Jesus is orchestrating intercessions for us in our lives and we continue to reject what He has done for us. Many go to hell because they reject Jesus’s work on their behalf even when the message of His work on our behalf has been presented to us. Jesus had already done the work on the cross for you and for me. He is even orchestrating events, people, places, and circumstances in your life that will draw you unto Him so that you will see Him, really see Him for the first time and accept Him as your Savior. Then, He will orchestrate more and more things in your life to chisel you into spiritual maturity. Who knows, you might be like me…a completely self-centered brat who through the intercessions of Jesus Christ in my life is now a pastor. That may not be what He has in store for you but He does have something in store for you that will bring glory to the Kingdom. He is working on it right now, interceding on your behalf, even without you knowing it or recognizing it til the day to get to the cross and then begin to grow up in Him. Then you will look back and cry tears of joy for the things that Jesus did for you in His love for you without you even knowing it.

Amen and Amen.