May 21

1 Samuel 29:1-31:13

It’s hard to imagine that David would have actually fought against Israel, but maybe he had put himself in that position – of course this would have ruined the call upon his future a king, so the King of kings, graciously intervened.

It wasn’t the lords of the Philistines, it was the Lord of lords who closed this door for David. He was sent home the next day.

When he arrived “home” in Ziklag, he discovered that the Amalekites had raided their home, set fire to the city and taken their families captive. This brought David to a crossroads. As his men are considering stoning him, David could have run, given up, and lost heart, but by the grace of God he sought God (maybe the LORD’s intervention on the battlefield spoke to him).  David strengthened himself in the LORD (that’s big – 1 Samuel 30:6) and inquired of the LORD (it’s been a while since we read that.

By the grace of God, David and his men were able to rescue and return all of their family and gain a prosperous victory over the Amalekites, apparently 40 years earlier Saul did not do his job (see 1 Samuel 15:1-3). Considering the fact that 200 out of the 600 soldiers couldn’t make the trip, this was clearly miraculous, imagine the natural fatigue that would have set in. God gave David the victory who wisely shared the spoils with the elders of Judah. He was probably sensing that God was about to restore him to his nation. Can you see the way David responded to God’s grace? He went forward – stepped toward the place he belonged. He didn’t abuse God’s grace in Philistia to stay in his sin, He allowed God’s grace to reach him and bring him back to Israel where he belonged.

It’s heartbreaking to read of the defeat of Israel and the death of Saul, and his sons, especially Jonathan. So much potential – dead – due to so much sin. 

It’s interesting that the valiant men of Jabesh Gilead traveled all night, with that urgency to take the bodies of Saul and his sons down and bring them home, does that had been beheaded and publicly displayed on the city wall as a mockery. I’ve been to that spot in Israel, Beth Shan was a huge city with many inhabitants (picture Vegas, or New York). The men of Jabesh Gilead remembered how in the beginning of his reign, King Saul rescued them from the hand of the Ammonites (1 Samuel 11). He had such a great beginning, and yet such a horrible end.

John 11:55-12:19

As the Passover drew near, Jesus was definitely the talk of the town. The religious leaders spread the word that Jesus was a wanted man; if anyone saw Him they were to report Him that they might seize Him. The people wondered if He would show.

We shift next to Jesus and His friends in Bethany, He’s staying with them. Jesus had predicted His death numerous times, but because of their preconceived ideas, hard-hearts, and carnality it didn’t register in the hearts of His disciples…but Mary knew. So, she took the spikenard, worth the wages that would be earned over an entire year ($50,000), it was probably her dowry, her hope to be married, and she broke the flask and anointed Jesus in an unparalleled act of worship, even wiping His feet with her hair. The fragrance filled the house, just as all true, heartfelt and sacrificial worship does.

Of course, she was criticized as an extremist and impractical, but to me it’s one of the most beautiful things I read in the Bible. O Lord, please help me to listen like Mary, to be willing to sacrifice everything for You – to worship as I should. Let me not be side-tracked by crooked Christians like Judas, may I not be influenced by the tares among the wheat – and not that this is the reason we worship, but may our worship fill the “house” of God with a beautiful fragrance.

And then there’s the Day Jesus came into Jerusalem, not in a chariot, not on a stallion – no, the Scriptures said He would ride-in on a donkey, the King coming in peace (Zechariah 9:9) after 69, 7-year periods, 173,880 days after the decree to restore and rebuild Jerusalem; and that’s what He did, presenting Himself as Messiah. Much like today the crowd praised Him when it was going well, but their allegiance was fickle and it was just a matter of days till they turned on Him. Warren Wiersbe said, “The crowd did not stay with Him. It is easier to shout in a parade than stand at a cross.”

All this was a fulfillment of prophecy – Psalm 118:25-26; Zechariah 9:9; Daniel 9:24-26 and later John would quote Isaiah 6:1; 53:1. Jesus Christ actually fulfilled more than 300 prophecies during His first coming – truly He is the promised Messiah!

The Pharisees were frustrated, but they would eventually get their way, and God would accomplish His mission. If only their words were truly true, “Look, the world has gone after Him!” (John 12:19) If only they would.

Psalm 118:1-18

“His mercy endures forever,” is a phrase we find 41 times in the Bible. It’s found in 5 different Psalms, highlighted especially in Psalm 136. I’ll be the first to say, God has been merciful to me (not given me what I deserve) the sinner that I am, He mercy endures forever.

Again we see a progression of expression, from Israel, to the High Priest, to those who fear the LORD and then the Psalmist makes it personal. Somehow the writer was hit hard by the enemy and he acknowledged that, but he also acknowledged that it was the LORD disciplining him. 

All this brought him to prayer.

God has a way of brining us to our knees, doesn’t He? And meeting our needs.

Psalm 118:5 (NKJV) “I called on the LORD in distress; the LORD answered me and set me in a broad place.”

I’m so grateful that the LORD is on my side, and there is absolutely no need to fear men, or what men might do to me.

Psalm 118:6 (NKJV) “The LORD is on my side; I will not fear. What can man do to me?”

It’s for that reason, my trust is in Him.

Imagine being surrounded by “all nations,” like bees (Psalm 118:10). Do you ever feel that way? If not now, you may one day, but don’t worry, for you’re also surrounded by God (Psalm 125:2). God will allow us to experience pain, and be “punished,” but will also protect us that we might proclaim the wonderful works of God…this is why we live.

Psalm 118:17–18 (NKJV) “I shall not die, but live, and declare the works of the LORD. 18 The LORD has chastened me severely, but He has not given me over to death.”

Proverbs 15:24-26

V. 24 – Growing up spiritually is good. The longer we walk with Jesus, the more we should be like Him…and the closer we should be to Him. In one sense this growing, this walking with Christ creates a greater distance each day from hell, or ever falling off the “edge.”

V. 25 – The longer we linger in the Scriptures, the more we realize that God has a special place in His heart for the orphans and widows; and the more we realize His contempt for the prideful.

Have you noticed that?

When I read this Proverb it makes me check my heart for pride, to humble myself; it also makes me search my heart and remember that if they’re important to Him, they should be important to me – the widows, the boundaries of the widows, don’t let anyone take their land or take advantage of them – for God will defend them.

As a matter of fact we read in: 

James 1:27 (NKJV) “Pure and undefiled religion before God and the Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their trouble, and to keep oneself unspotted from the world.”

Do you know any orphans or widows? Pray about visiting them, and asking them if they need anything. That’s pure Christianity.

V. 26 – Can you imagine the thoughts of the wicked? Those who don’t care about others? Those who think they can think anything, dirty daydreams, foolish fantasies and yet, they don’t realize that God sees it all!

God wants us to clean up our thoughts, as well as our words that they might be pleasant and pleasing to Him.

2 Corinthians 10:5 (NKJV) “…casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ.”

If you have any questions or comments on today’s reading, or you’d like to share something the Lord showed you, feel free to leave a reply below. I’d love to hear from you as we grow forward in 2021.

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