Day 82 – Thru the Bible
Today we continue First Samuel and Psalms.
1 Samuel 15 – That Saul receives yet another chance to hear and obey God’s instructions is remarkable evidence of God’s grace. After Saul’s repeated failures in the preceding chapters, Samuel stresses the importance of Saul’s paying very close attention to the word of God. Sadly, Saul’s conduct in the battle against the Amalekites removes any doubt that Saul’s main concern is not with God’s honor but with his own.
In view of Saul’s consistent rejection of the word of the Lord, it is no surprise that he is rejected from being king. When Saul attempts to gain control of the situation by seizing Samuel’s robe, the robe tears, and Samuel uses this as a sign of the fact that “The Lord has torn the kingdom of Israel from you this day and has given it to a neighbor of yours, who is better than you.”
The entire career of Saul, has much to teach us regarding what it means to be a godly leader. First and foremost, it means giving God proper honor, that is, giving God ultimate weight in every circumstance and in every decision.
Despite the finality of Saul’s failure, this episode also teaches us something about God’s gracious provision of leadership—specifically, the “neighbor” better than Saul, whom we meet in the next chapter.
How are our hearts are brought to rest in the Leader who was descended from David and who, unlike even David, unfailingly and sinlessly leads His people as their champion? Hint: Acts 5:30-31; Hebrews 2:10; 12:2.
1 Samuel 16 – After Saul’s definitive rejection as king in chapter 15, Samuel grieves for Saul, and as chapter 16 opens, the Lord has to exhort him to move on. God has not abandoned His people. Having provided for the people a king of the sort they demanded in chapter 8, God now provides “for myself a king.”
Samuel is afraid of what Saul might do if he discovers that Samuel is being sent to anoint his replacement, and the Lord instructs him to take a heifer and say, “I have come to sacrifice to the Lord.”
This apparent half-truth, suggested by the Lord Himself, seems troubling. It helps to recall the larger context. In the preceding chapter, Saul repeatedly claimed that the best of the Amalekite livestock was spared only “to sacrifice to the Lord your God.” There is a hint of just deserts in the “sacrifice-explanation” being turned back on Saul. After all, “God is not mocked, for whatever one sows, that will he also reap” (Galatians 6:7).
Who is the Lord’s king? Not the tall and impressive, but the smallest of Jesse’s sons (“smallest” and “youngest” render the same word in Hebrew). For “the Lord sees not as man sees; man looks on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart.” The opening frame of 1 Samuel included Hannah’s declaration that it is not by human might that one prevails. Rather, where true faith and trust are, God’s “power is made perfect in weakness” (2 Corinthians 12:9).
As his story unfolds, we will encounter sin and failure—David, unlike the Son of David to come, was not sinless. But David had a heart for God. Of equal, or greater, importance, he had the “Spirit of the Lord” powerfully working within him “from that day forward.”
Under the New Covenant, how do we experience the Spirit of the Lord continually?
The spirit that at the time of Saul’s anointing changed him “into another man” (10:6, 9–10) and that had intermittently overwhelmed him to propel him into action, is now removed, and Saul is tormented by “a harmful spirit from the Lord.” A harmful spirit sent by the Lord tormented Saul as a form of judgment for his turning against the Lord. Though God Himself never does evil, He sometimes uses evil agents to accomplish His purposes (such as the Babylonians conquering Israel, or sinful people crucifying Christ).
Yet, how does God continue to show kindness to Saul? Hint: 1 Sam. 16:23.
1 Samuel 17 – For those who see only as mortals see, every aspect of Goliath’s description inspires fear—his giant proportions, his oversized armor and military equipment, his mocking words. “Saul and all Israel” are certainly “dismayed and greatly afraid”.
David, however, arrives on the scene of battle with different eyes and ears. He sees Goliath’s size but measures it not against a human standard but against a big God. He hears Goliath’s words but finds them ridiculous when one considers that they are aimed at the “armies of the living God”. In David’s eyes, Goliath is no more threatening than one of the brute beasts from which God had rescued him.
To see as God sees is the calling of every Believer, but it can sometimes evoke misunderstanding and even rebuke from those who don’t so see. David’s oldest brother, Eliab, charges David with irresponsibility, presumption (arrogance), and a downright evil heart. Believers should expect no less, and Jesus pronounces a blessing on those who suffer such abuse, as He, too, suffered (Matthew 5:11–12).
Saul’s attempt to clothe David in his own armor is further evidence of his failure to see what actually matters in God’s economy. David, on the other hand, understands that “the Lord saves not with sword and spear” and that “the battle is the Lord’s”. Armed with the tools of a shepherd, not a soldier, and with faith “in the name of the Lord”, David rushes to meet Goliath and fells him with “a sling and with a stone”—as it happens, a rather effective long-range weapon. However modest our native abilities and acquired skills, God can empower them to accomplish His work.
The main takeaway for Believers today involves seeing parallels between what David did and what Jesus does for us today. David, by his confidence in and relationship with God, functions as a representative champion of his cowering people. Jesus, similarly, is the representative champion of His cowering people. Both David and Jesus win a victory the results of which are imputed to their people.
We are NOT meant to read the story of David and Goliath and mainly identify with David, but with the people who need saving.
How does reflecting on the your rescue by our true and final champion, Jesus, move your heart to worship and to greater trust in Him?
Psalm 82 – Leaders who are responsible for others who bear the image of God are called to imitate God’s justice and compassion. Elsewhere, He even refers to civic rulers as His “ministers” (Romans 13:6). God’s personification of justice in human rulers points to His ultimate incarnation of peace and justice in Jesus.
However, a civil authority is not God’s minister by divine right; he is appointed by, and rules under, God himself. So when he fails to carry out biblical justice, he abrogates his authority. His justice must be impartial, and it must be proactive toward the defenseless. In fact, advocacy for the weak is a convincing sign of righteousness (1 John 3:17–18). Ignoring the poor is as repugnant to God as idolatry and adultery.
Whereas the Psalm begins in heaven, it ends on earth, where God is called upon to judge the earth and inherit the nations, a promise the New Testament locates in Christ’s person and ministry (Matthew 25:31–46; Acts 17:31; Revelation 21:3).
In Jesus, we who are so spiritually “poor and needy” have been lavishly cared for; how does this motivate us to care for those who are poor and needy in our own communities?
What other thoughts or questions does today’s reading bring up?
Some of these notes are from the ESV Gospel Transformation Bible study notes. We highly recommend this study Bible.
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