Sunday 31 March, 2013

2 Samuel 5:6-25

6 The king and his men marched to Jerusalem. They went to attack the Jebusites who lived there. The Jebusites said to David, “You won’t get in here. Even blind people and those who are disabled can keep you from coming in.” They thought, “David can’t get in here.” 7 But David captured the fort of Zion. It became known as the City of David. 8 On that day David said, “Anyone who wins the battle over the Jebusites will have to crawl through the water tunnel to get into the city. That’s the only way he can reach those ‘disabled and blind’ enemies of mine.” That’s why people say, “Those who are ‘blind and disabled’ won’t enter David’s palace.” 9 David moved into the fort. He called it the City of David. He built up the area around the fort. He filled in the low places. He started at the bottom and worked his way up. 10 David became more and more powerful. That’s because the Lord God who rules over all was with him. 11 Hiram was king of Tyre. He sent messengers to David. He sent cedar logs along with them. He also sent skilled workers. They worked with wood and stone. They built a palace for David. 12 David knew that the Lord had made his position as king secure. He knew that he had made him king over the whole nation of Israel. He knew that the Lord had greatly honored his kingdom. The Lord had done it because the Israelites were his people. 13 After David left Hebron, he got more concubines and wives in Jerusalem. More sons and daughters were born to him there. 14 Here is a list of the children who were born to him in Jerusalem. Their names were Shammua, Shobab, Nathan, Solomon, 15 Ibhar, Elishua, Nepheg, Japhia, 16 Elishama, Eliada and Eliphelet. 17 The Philistines heard that David had been anointed king over Israel. So their whole army went to look for him. But David heard about it. He went down to his usual place of safety. 18 The Philistines had come and spread out in the Valley of Rephaim. 19 So David asked the Lord for advice. He said, “Should I go and attack the Philistines? Will you hand them over to me?” The Lord answered him, “Go. You can be sure that I will hand the Philistines over to you.” 20 So David went to Baal Perazim. There he won the battle over the Philistines. He said, “The Lord has broken through against my enemies when I’ve attacked them, just as water breaks through a dam.” That’s why the place was called Baal Perazim. 21 The Philistines left the statues of their gods there. So David and his men carried the statues off. 22 Once more the Philistines came up. They spread out in the Valley of Rephaim. 23 So David asked the Lord for advice. The Lord answered, “Do not go straight up. Instead, circle around behind them. Attack them in front of the balsam trees. 24 Listen for the sound of marching in the tops of the trees. Then move quickly. The sound will mean that I have gone out in front of you. I will strike down the Philistine army.” 25 So David did just as the Lord had commanded him. He struck down the Philistines. He struck them down from Gibeon all the way to Gezer.

Here we have David continuing to rout the Philistines.  And we see David continuing to depend on God for the strategy to do that.  I love the fact that David does not assume that the strategy that worked once would work again, even though he was fighting the same people (the Philistines) in the same place (Baal Perazim).  Instead, he inquired of the Lord again – and God had a different strategy in mind!  This made me wonder how often I put God “in a box”, expecting Him to behave in a similar way or to do a similar thing to what He has already done.  Instead, I need to remember that whilst God’s character does not change, He is not subject to the same

human constraints as I am and so he can choose to act in whatever way He deems necessary!  He is God, after all!

Lord, help me to not put

constraints on you, of time, of method or of process but instead to remember and celebrate that you are God, Creator of the Universe and you can do whatever you want, whenever you want to and however you want to!

Written by Ps. Jen Irving

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Saturday 30th March, 2013

2 Samuel 4.1 - 5.5

4 Ish-Bosheth, the son of Saul, heard that Abner had died in Hebron. Then he wasn’t so brave anymore. And all of the people of Israel became alarmed. 2 Two men in Ish-Bosheth’s army led small companies that attacked their enemies. The names of the men were Baanah and Recab. They were sons of Rimmon from the town of Beeroth. Rimmon was from the tribe of Benjamin. Beeroth is considered to be part of Benjamin. 3 That’s because the people who used to live in Beeroth had run away to Gittaim. They have lived there as outsiders to this very day. 4 Jonathan, the son of Saul, had a son named Mephibosheth. Both of Mephibosheth’s feet were hurt. He was five years old when the news that Saul and Jonathan had died came from Jezreel. His nurse picked him up and ran. But as she hurried to get away, he fell down. That’s how his feet were hurt. 5 Recab and Baanah started out for the house of Ish-Bosheth. They were the sons of Rimmon from Beeroth. They arrived there during the hottest time of the day. Ish-Bosheth was taking his early afternoon nap. 6 Recab and his brother Baanah went into the inside part of the house. They acted as if they were going to get some wheat. Instead, they stabbed Ish-Bosheth in the stomach. Then they slipped away. 7 They had gone into the house while Ish-Bosheth was lying on his bed in his bedroom. They stabbed him and killed him. Then they cut off his head and took it with them. They traveled all night through the Arabah Valley. 8 They brought the head of Ish-Bosheth to King David at Hebron. They said to him, “Here’s the head of Ish-Bosheth, the son of Saul. Saul was your enemy. He often tried to kill you. Today the Lord has paid Saul and his family back. He has let you get even with them. You are our king and master.” 9 David gave an answer to Recab and his brother Baanah. They were the sons of Rimmon of Beeroth. David said, “The Lord has saved me from all of my troubles. 10 A man once told me, ‘Saul is dead.’ He thought he was bringing me good news. But I grabbed hold of him. I had him put to death in Ziklag. That’s the reward I gave him for his news! And that’s just as sure as the Lord is alive. 11 “Now you evil men have killed a man in his own house. He hadn’t done anything wrong. You killed him while he was lying on his own bed. You spilled his blood. So shouldn’t I spill your blood? Shouldn’t I wipe you off the face of the earth?” 12 Then David gave an order to his men. They killed Recab and Baanah. They cut off their hands and feet. They hung their bodies by the pool in Hebron. But they buried the head of Ish-Bosheth in Abner’s tomb at Hebron. 5 All of the tribes of Israel came to see David at Hebron. They said, “We are your own flesh and blood. 2 In the past, Saul was our king. But you led the men of Israel on their military campaigns. And the Lord said to you, ‘You will be the shepherd over my people Israel. You will become their ruler.’” 3 All of the elders of Israel came to see King David at Hebron. There the king made a covenant with them in the sight of the Lord. They anointed David as king over Israel. 4 David was 30 years old when he became king. He ruled for 40 years. 5 In Hebron he ruled over Judah for seven and a half years. In Jerusalem he ruled over all of Israel and Judah for 33 years.

Nothing good comes from losing “all courage, and being paralysed with fear” (v 1). This is what todays passage says happened to Ishbosheth and all Israel at the news of Abner’s death. And it was this fear that cost Ishbosheth his life.

I

once heard Ps Phil Pringle say “God says “fear not” in the Bible 365 times – that’s once for every

day of the year”. Other commands from God I take seriously and yet this one – fear not – I seem to let slide. I allow my courage to plummet and get paralysed by fear. The result is the same as Ishbosheth. I am robbed of ‘life’.

The war of fear is fought and won on the battleground of my mind. But God had provided me with every possible piece of armour and every possible weapon for victory (Eph 6.11-17 and 2Cor10.3-5). It’s time to stop “sleeping” (v 5), take the enemy down and never fear again.

Written by Boudy van Noppen

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Thursday 28 March, 2013

2 Samuel 3:6-21

6 The fighting continued between David’s royal house and Saul’s royal house. Abner gained more and more power in the royal house of Saul. 7 While Saul was still alive, he had a concubine named Rizpah. She was the daughter of Aiah. Ish-Bosheth said to Abner, “Why did you have sex with my father’s concubine?” 8 Abner burned with anger because of what Ish-Bosheth said. He answered, “Do you think I’m only a dog’s head? Am I on Judah’s side? To this very day I’ve been true to the royal house of your father Saul. I’ve been true to his family and friends. I haven’t handed you over to David. But now you claim that I’ve sinned with this woman! 9 “I will do for David what the Lord promised him with an oath. If I don’t, may God punish me greatly. 10 I’ll take the kingdom away from Saul’s royal house. I’ll set up the throne of David’s kingdom over Israel and Judah. He will rule from Dan all the way to Beersheba.” 11 Ish-Bosheth didn’t dare to say another word to Abner. He was much too afraid of him. 12 Then Abner sent messengers to David to speak for him. They said, “Who will rule over this land? Make a covenant with me. Then I’ll help you bring all of the people of Israel over to your side.” 13 “Good,” said David. “I will make a covenant with you. But there’s one thing I want you to do. Bring Saul’s daughter Michal to me. Don’t come to see me unless she’s with you.” 14 Then David sent messengers to Saul’s son Ish-Bosheth. He ordered them to say, “Give me my wife Michal. She was promised to me. I paid for her with the skins I cut off when I circumcised 100 Philistines.” 15 So Ish-Bosheth gave the order. He sent men who took Michal away from her husband Paltiel. Paltiel was the son of Laish. 16 But her husband followed her to Bahurim. He was crying all the way. Then Abner said to him, “Go back home!” So he did. 17 Abner talked with the elders of Israel. He said, “For some time you have wanted to make David your king. 18 Now do it! The Lord made a promise to David. He said, ‘I will save my people Israel from the powerful hand of the Philistines. I will also save them from all of their enemies. I will save them through my servant David.’” 19 Abner also spoke to the people of Benjamin in person. Then he went to Hebron to tell David everything. He told him what Israel and all of the people of Benjamin wanted to do. 20 Abner had 20 men with him. They came to David at Hebron. So David prepared a big dinner for Abner and his men. 21 Then Abner said to David, “Let me go right now. I’ll gather together all of the people of Israel for you. After all, you are now my king and master. The people can make a covenant with you. Then you can rule over everyone you want to.” So David sent Abner away. And he went in peace.

In this passage the ambitious and arrogant Abner changes sides, abandoning Saul’s cause and actively supporting the claim of David. When offended by Saul’s son Ish-Bosheth Abner decides to take revenge by supporting David. His motives are wrong, and yet he is successful in convincing the elders to support David. God uses a supporter of David’s enemy to bring him another step closer to being king.

On the day that Abner defected David may have looked at Saul and Abner and seen great difficulty in overcoming them, yet as a result of a seemingly brief interaction the chief supporter of Saul’s house offers his strength and service to David. No

human obstacle is greater than God’s will, and it is fascinating to watch throughout the Bible how God moves in unique ways to bring about His plans.

God used a man initially set against David to accomplish His will. I’m encouraged that as I seek to fulfill God’s will, God will surely use me. I’m also encouraged that in facing obstacles I have a creative God who has no difficulty in bringing about His will.

Written by Bethany Waugh

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Wednesday 27 March, 2013

2 Samuel 2:12 - 3:5

12 Abner, the son of Ner, left Mahanaim and went to Gibeon. The men of Ish-Bosheth, the son of Saul, went with him. 13 Joab, the son of Zeruiah, and David’s men also went out. All of them met at the pool in Gibeon. One group sat down on one side of the pool. The other group sat on the other side. 14 Then Abner said to Joab, “Let’s have some of the young men get up and fight. Let’s tell them to fight hand to hand in front of us.” “All right. Let them do it,” Joab said. 15 So the young men stood up and were counted off. There were 12 on the side of Benjamin and Saul’s son Ish-Bosheth. And there were 12 on David’s side. 16 Each man grabbed one of his enemies by the head. Each one stuck his dagger into the other man’s side. And all of them fell down together and died. So that place in Gibeon was named Helkath Hazzurim. 17 The fighting that day was very heavy. Abner and the men of Israel lost the battle to David’s men. 18 The three sons of Zeruiah were there. Their names were Joab, Abishai and Asahel. Asahel was as quick on his feet as a wild antelope. 19 He chased Abner. He didn’t turn to the right or the left as he chased him. 20 Abner looked behind him. He asked, “Asahel, is that you?” “It is,” he answered. 21 Then Abner said to him, “Turn to the right or the left. Fight one of the young men. Take his weapons away from him.” But Asahel wouldn’t stop chasing him. 22 Again Abner warned Asahel, “Stop chasing me! If you don’t, I’ll strike you down. Then how could I look your brother Joab in the face?” 23 But Asahel refused to give up the chase. So Abner drove the dull end of his spear into Asahel’s stomach. The spear came out of his back. He fell and died right there on the spot. Every man stopped when he came to the place where Asahel had fallen and died. 24 But Joab and Abishai chased Abner. As the sun was going down, they came to the hill of Ammah. It was near Giah on the way to the dry and empty land close to Gibeon. 25 The men of Benjamin gathered in a group around Abner. They took their stand on top of a hill. 26 Abner called out to Joab, “Do you want our swords to keep on killing us off? Don’t you know that all of this fighting will end in bitter feelings? How long will it be before you order your men to stop chasing their fellow Israelites?” 27 Joab answered, “It’s a good thing you spoke up. If you hadn’t, the men would have kept on chasing their fellow Israelites until morning. And that’s just as sure as God is alive.” 28 So Joab blew a trumpet. All of the men stopped. They didn’t chase Israel anymore. They didn’t fight anymore either. 29 All that night Abner and his men marched through the Arabah Valley. They went across the Jordan River. They kept on going through the whole Bithron. Finally, they came to Mahanaim. 30 Then Joab returned from chasing Abner. He gathered all of his men together. Besides Asahel, only 19 of David’s men were missing. 31 But David’s men had killed 360 men from Benjamin who were with Abner. 32 They got Asahel’s body and buried it in his father’s tomb at Bethlehem. Then Joab and his men marched all night. They arrived at Hebron at sunrise. 3 The war between Saul’s royal house and David’s royal house lasted a long time. David grew stronger and stronger. But the royal house of Saul grew weaker and weaker. 2 Sons were born to David in Hebron. His first son was Amnon. Amnon’s mother was Ahinoam from Jezreel. 3 His second son was Kileab. Kileab’s mother was Abigail. She was Nabal’s widow from Carmel. The third son was Absalom. His mother was Maacah. She was the daughter of Talmai, the king of Geshur. 4 The fourth son was Adonijah. His mother was Haggith. The fifth son was Shephatiah. His mother was Abital. 5 The sixth son was Ithream. His mother was David’s wife Eglah. Those sons were born to David in Hebron.

The 3 big themes that are evident in this section of scripture, are loyalty to a leader, military struggle and death.

We see that after the death of Saul, two leaders arose amongst God’s people and a struggle arose between those who were loyal to each leader. Fighting broke out that escalated into a large-scale battle.

It wasn’t until Abner rallied troops behind him and called out to Joash to stop the bloodshed that they

all realised that they all had been living and dying for the wrong reason: In becoming so loyal to their worldly leaders (Godly or not) they had lost their focus on the ultimate power that they were all supposed to be submitting to – God.

God, I pray that I can live my life well and that if my death has purpose it can be in submission to you.

I pray for those around the world who are involved in military struggle, that they would have the wisdom to know how and when to stop the bloodshed, and that they would unite in peace with their enemies under you.

Written by Justin Ware

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Tuesday 26 March, 2013

2 Samuel 2:1-11

2 After Saul and Jonathan died, David asked the Lord for advice. “Should I go up to one of the towns of Judah?” he asked. The Lord said, “Go up.” David asked, “Where should I go?” “To Hebron,” the Lord answered. 2 So David went up there with his two wives. Their names were Ahinoam from Jezreel and Abigail from Carmel. Abigail was Nabal’s widow. 3 David also took his men and their families with him. They settled down in Hebron and its towns. 4 Then the men of Judah came to Hebron. There they anointed David to be king over the people of Judah. David was told that the men of Jabesh Gilead had buried Saul’s body. 5 So he sent messengers to them to speak for him. The messengers said, “You were kind to bury the body of your master Saul. May the Lord bless you for that. 6 And may he now be kind and faithful to you. David will treat you well for being kind to Saul’s body. 7 Now then, be strong and brave. Your master Saul is dead. And the people of Judah have anointed David to be king over them.” 8 Abner, the son of Ner, was commander of Saul’s army. He had brought Saul’s son Ish-Bosheth to Mahanaim. 9 There he made him king over Gilead, Ashuri and Jezreel. He also made him king over Ephraim, Benjamin and other areas of Israel. 10 Ish-Bosheth was 40 years old when he became king over Israel. He ruled for two years. But the people of Judah followed David. 11 David was king in Hebron over the people of Judah for seven and a half years.

The anointing of a king is always a regal and momentous event.  This can be said of David’s anointing in this passage as well.  David is caught, between his grief for Saul and Jonathan, and his joy at being made king.  In the midst of these emotions he has the presence of mind to thank the men from Jabesh Gilead for burying, with dignity, Saul.

The men of Judah anoint David king.  Leaders need the followership of their people, to be anointed by your people is a considerable vote of confidence.  Israel decided to anoint Ish-Bosheth showing the division in the nations.

It is in these circumstances that David becomes king.

Leaders are appointed in a variety of circumstances, they are never ‘ideal’.  Conflicting emotions, division, outright rebellion,

affirmation can all accompany one’s rise to leadership.  How you carry yourself is crucial.  You will be feeling many of these emotions as will the people.  Handling your emotions, without them being present in a dominating manner, is important as you will have to help your people through before you concentrate on yourself.  Yet you also need to express your emotions, particularly more acute ones like grief, so as you do not carry them with you.

One of the obvious first tests of leadership is the manner of the rise, David’s anointing was characterised by

humility, thanks and acceptance, all good ways to receive any leadership appointment.

Father, may we all understand that it is You who appoints and anoints and so we ask that we may remain humble, thankful and accepting of Your grace at all times.

Written by Ps. Richard Botta

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Monday 25 March, 2013

2 Samuel 1:17-27

17 David sang a song of sadness about Saul and his son Jonathan. 18 He ordered that it be taught to the people of Judah. It is called The Song of the Bow. It is written down in the Book of Jashar. David sang, 19 “Israel, your glorious leaders lie dead on your hills. Your mighty men have fallen. 20 “Don’t announce it in Gath. Don’t tell it in the streets of Ashkelon. If you do, the daughters of the Philistines will be glad. The daughters of men who haven’t been circumcised will be joyful. 21 “Mountains of Gilboa, may no dew or rain fall on you. May your fields not produce any offerings of grain. The shield of the mighty king lies polluted there. The shield of Saul lies there. It isn’t rubbed with oil anymore. 22 The bow of Jonathan didn’t turn back. The sword of Saul didn’t return without being satisfied. They spilled the blood of their enemies. They killed mighty men. 23 “In life Saul and Jonathan were loved and gracious. In death they were not parted. They were faster than eagles. They were stronger than lions. 24 “Daughters of Israel, sob over Saul. He dressed you in the finest clothes. He decorated your clothes with ornaments of gold. 25 “Your mighty men have fallen in battle. Jonathan lies dead on your hills. 26 My brother Jonathan, I’m filled with sadness because of you. You were very special to me. Your love for me was wonderful. It was more wonderful than the love of women. 27 “Israel’s mighty men have fallen. Their weapons of war are broken.”

What does the world tell us? Take revenge, and rejoice when evil befalls your enemies. What does David do in this passage? Writes a lament for his enemy and proclaims that it should be widely sung in Israel, because he honours the Lord’s anointed. He also, of course, grieves for his dear friend Jonathan.

Misfortune towards our enemy is not a cause for us to rejoice, it is misfortune. God is calling us to have a different attitude

to the world. One marked by love. In places overseas where there is physical persecution the common prayer asked for by the persecuted is that they can still react with love, not hatred towards their enemy. While we may not suffer the same sort

of persecution in Australia, we are called to the same behaviour.

Lord, let me honour those whom you have put in power, and let my life be marked by love, not hatred or revenge.

Written by Megan Cornell

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Saturday 23 March, 2013

1 Samuel 31:1-13

31 The Philistines fought against Israel. The men of Israel ran away from them. But many Israelites were killed on Mount Gilboa. 2 The Philistines kept chasing Saul and his sons. They killed his sons Jonathan, Abinadab and Malki-Shua. 3 The fighting was heavy around Saul. Men who were armed with bows and arrows caught up with him. They shot their arrows at him and wounded him badly. 4 Saul spoke to the man who was carrying his armor. He said, “Pull out your sword. Stick it through me. If you don’t, those fellows who aren’t circumcised will come. They’ll stick their swords through me and hurt me badly.” But the man was terrified. He wouldn’t do it. So Saul took his own sword and fell on it. 5 The man saw that Saul was dead. So he fell on his own sword and died with him. 6 Saul and his three sons died together that same day. The man who carried his armor also died with them that day. So did all of Saul’s men. 7 The Israelites who lived along the valley saw that their army had run away. So did those who lived across the Jordan River. They saw that Saul and his sons were dead. So they left their towns and ran away. Then the Philistines came and settled down in them. 8 The day after the Philistines had won the battle, they came to take what they wanted from the dead bodies. They found Saul and his three sons dead on Mount Gilboa. 9 So they cut off Saul’s head. They took his armor from his body. Then they sent messengers through the whole land of the Philistines. They announced the news in the temple where they had set up statues of their gods. They also announced it among their people. 10 They put Saul’s armor in the temple where they had set up statues of goddesses that were named after Ashtoreth. They hung his body up on the wall of Beth Shan. 11 The people of Jabesh Gilead heard about what the Philistines had done to Saul. 12 So all of their brave men traveled through the night to Beth Shan. They took down the bodies of Saul and his sons from the wall of Beth Shan. They brought them to Jabesh. There they burned them. 13 Then they got the bones of Saul and his sons and buried them under a tamarisk tree at Jabesh. They didn’t eat anything for seven days.

This chapter speaks about the death of Saul and three of his sons. Such a sad end to the first book of Samuel – yes because of the deaths, but more so because of the reason behind the deaths.

Saul was anointed & chosen by God to lead the Israelites as their first King. For a while he walked in this & under the covering of God – but there came a point when he stepped away from God’s covering and went by his own laws. I believe he lost his anointing & let

go of his calling at this point.

All that we have has come from God – my

desire is to hang on to “things” with an open hand. Ready to let go when God asks us to… We all have a choice in how we run our race. Let’s all get to the finish line having covered the ground God has asked us to, and achieve what He has laid before us. Let’s be found faithful with what God calls us to & anoints us for…

Written by Ps. Mandy Miller

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Friday 22 March, 2013

1 Samuel 30:1-31

30 On the third day David and his men arrived in Ziklag. The Amalekites had attacked the people of the Negev Desert. They had also attacked Ziklag and burned it. 2 They had captured the women and everyone else who was in Ziklag. They had taken as prisoners young people and old people alike. But they didn’t kill any of them. Instead, they carried them off as they went on their way. 3 David and his men came to Ziklag. They saw that it had been destroyed by fire. They found out that their wives and sons and daughters had been captured. 4 So David and his men began to sob out loud. They sobbed until they couldn’t sob anymore. 5 David’s two wives had been captured. Their names were Ahinoam from Jezreel and Abigail from Carmel. Abigail was Nabal’s widow. 6 David was greatly troubled. His men were even talking about killing him by throwing stones at him. All of them were very bitter because their sons and daughters had been taken away. But David was made strong by the Lord his God. 7 Then David spoke to the priest Abiathar, the son of Ahimelech. He said, “Bring me the linen apron.” Abiathar brought it to him. 8 David asked the Lord for advice. He said, “Should I chase after the men who attacked Ziklag? If I do, will I catch up with them?” “Chase after them,” the Lord answered. “You will certainly catch up with them. You will succeed in saving those who were captured.” 9 David and his 600 men came to the Besor Valley. Some of them stayed behind there. 10 That’s because 200 of them were too tired to go across the valley. But David and the other 400 continued the chase. 11 David’s men found an Egyptian in a field. They brought him to David. They gave him water to drink and food to eat. 12 They gave him part of a cake of pressed figs. They also gave him two raisin cakes. After he ate them, he felt as good as new. That’s because he hadn’t eaten any food for three days and three nights. He hadn’t drunk any water during that time either. 13 David asked him, “Who do you belong to? Where do you come from?” The man said, “I’m from Egypt. I’m the slave of an Amalekite. My master deserted me when I became ill three days ago. 14 We attacked the people in the Negev Desert of the Kerethites. We attacked the territory that belongs to Judah. We attacked the people in the Negev Desert of Caleb. And we burned Ziklag.” 15 David asked him, “Can you lead me down to the men who attacked Ziklag?” He answered, “Take an oath in the name of God. Promise me that you won’t kill me. Promise that you won’t hand me over to my master. Then I’ll take you down to them.” 16 He led David down to where the men were. They were scattered all over the countryside. They were eating and drinking and dancing wildly. That’s because they had taken a large amount of goods from those they had attacked. They had taken it from the land of the Philistines and from the people of Judah. 17 David fought against them from sunset until the evening of the next day. None of them escaped except 400 young men. They rode off on camels and got away. 18 David got everything back that the Amalekites had taken. That included his two wives. 19 Nothing was missing. Not one young person or old person or boy or girl was missing. None of the goods or anything else the Amalekites had taken was missing. David brought everything back. 20 He brought back all of the flocks and herds. His men drove them on ahead of the other livestock. They said, “Here’s what David has captured.” 21 Then David came to the 200 men who had been too tired to follow him. They had been left behind in the Besor Valley. They came out to welcome David and the people who were with him. As David and his men approached, he greeted them. 22 But some of the men who had gone out with David were evil. They wanted to stir up trouble. They said, “The 200 men didn’t go out into battle with us. So we won’t share with them the goods we brought back. But each man can take his wife and children and go home.” 23 David replied, “No, my friends. You must not hold back their share of what the Lord has given us. He has kept us safe. He has handed over to us the men who attacked Ziklag. 24 So no one will pay any attention to what you are saying. Each man who stayed with the supplies will receive the same share as each man who went down to the battle. Everyone’s share will be the same.” 25 David made that a law and a rule for Israel. It has been followed from that day until now. 26 David arrived in Ziklag. He sent some of the goods to the elders of Judah. They were his friends. He said, “Here’s a present for you. It’s part of the things we took from the Lord’s enemies.” 27 He sent some goods to the elders who were in Bethel, Ramoth Negev and Jattir. 28 He sent some to those who were in Aroer, Siphmoth, Eshtemoa 29 and Racal. He sent some to those who were in the towns of the Jerahmeelites and Kenites. 30 He sent some to those who were in Hormah, Bor Ashan, Athach 31 and Hebron. He also sent some to those who were in all of the other places where he and his men had wandered around.

Today’s passage shows us God is in control.

After Amalekites burned Ziklag and took the women and young and old people David and his men wept aloud until no strength left and each one was bitter in spirit.

Then:

David’s men were talking of stoning him.

But, David found strength in the LORD his God.

More or less, we all face some problems or sadness  in our life.

But, what’s our reaction? Blame the leader (David) or/and others, or find the strength in the LORD?

Different reaction also leads to different action and result.

The first thing

David did was ask God …..”Shall I pursue them?” “Will I overtake them?”

Then, God sent an Egyptian, the slave of an Amalekite to David …. so David could find where they were and recovered everything the Amalekites had taken.

Then David made equal-share between people who stayed with the supplies and went down to the battle by using his authority and wisdom (Giving thanks to God).

Not

only that, David also sent some of the plunder to the elders of Judah and people in Bethel, Ramoth Negev, Jattir and to all the places where David and his men had been living. (Glory God’s Name)

What a great story and result!!

Good and bad things happen to His children, but when I learn how to seek His will, rely on Him and trust in Him, God is in control.  Amen.

Written by Allen Leu

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Thursday 21 March, 2013

1 Samuel 29: 1-11

29 The Philistines gathered their whole army together at Aphek. Israel’s army camped by the spring of water at Jezreel. 2 The Philistine rulers marched out in companies of hundreds and thousands. David and his men were marching with Achish behind the others. 3 The commanders of the Philistines asked, “Why are these Hebrews here?” Achish replied, “That’s David, isn’t it? Wasn’t he an officer of Saul, the king of Israel? He has already been with me for more than a year. I haven’t found any fault in him. That’s been true from the day he left Saul until now.” 4 But the Philistine commanders were angry with Achish. They said, “Send David back. Let him return to the town you gave him. He must not go with us into battle. If he does, he’ll turn against us during the fighting. In fact, he might even cut off the heads of our own men. What better way could he choose to win back his master’s favor? 5 Isn’t David the one the Israelites sang about when they danced? They sang, “‘Saul has killed thousands of men. David has killed tens of thousands.’” 6 So Achish called David over to him. He said, “You have been faithful to me. And that’s just as sure as the Lord is alive. I would be pleased to have you serve with me in the army. I haven’t found any fault in you. That’s been true from the day you came to me until now. But the Philistine rulers aren’t pleased to have you come along. 7 So go back home in peace. Don’t do anything that wouldn’t please the Philistine rulers.” 8 “But what have I done?” asked David. “What have you found against me from the day I came to you until now? Why can’t I go and fight against your enemies? After all, you are my king and master.” 9 Achish answered, “You have been as pleasing to me as an angel of God. But the Philistine commanders have said, ‘We don’t want David to go up with us into battle.’ 10 So get up early in the morning. Take with you the men who used to serve Saul. Leave as soon as the sun begins to come up.” 11 So David and his men got up early in the morning. They went back to the land of the Philistines. And the Philistines went up to Jezreel.

David was in a dilemma. If he backed off, the Philistines would sense a trap, if he went forward, he would be fighting Israel.

David had through his own devices brought himself and his men into this predicament. Over a period of years he lived a life of deceit and false loyalty.

God worked through the Philistine generals to persuade (i.e. force) King Achish to reconsider sending David. So because the Philistines initiated this proposal,

David and his men were not looked at as spies or a real threat to the Philistines.

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Why would God help David? He clearly did not deserve it. We do not even seem him praying. God exposed David’s plan and then delivered him.

Some of our predicaments are because we have done wrong. Think the one lie that became a thousand lies, that plan of revenge we have been harbouring for many years and then suddenly we are trapped and our plot is exposed. We have no way of escape. No matter how difficult our situation, God can make a way of escape.

God taught David a powerful lesson of grace and compassion. Even though a person deserves the worse, we can still choose to live by grace. David has taught me that no matter what situation I find myself in, I should always strive to earn respect from all those who are around me.

When I make mistakes, I need to look to God for his grace.

Help me to remember Lord Jesus that you will always choose to bless me. In situations where I have completely failed, I cannot give up. Thank you God for your gracious work in my life and that I can learn from You. I pray I will become more like You Lord, as I experience Your grace. As you God, have been gracious to me, I need to remember to be gracious to others.

Written by Cathy Croft

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Wednesday 20 March, 2013

1 Samuel 28:1-25

28 While David was living in Ziklag, the Philistines gathered their army together. They planned to fight against Israel. Achish said to David, “I want you to understand that you and your men must march out with me and my army.” 2 David said, “I understand. You will see for yourself what I can do.” Achish replied, “All right. I’ll make you my own personal guard for life.” 3 Samuel had died. The whole nation of Israel was filled with sorrow because he was dead. They had buried his body in his own town of Ramah. Saul had gotten rid of people who get messages from those who have died. He had also gotten rid of people who talk to the spirits of the dead. He had thrown all of them out of the land. 4 The Philistines gathered together and set up camp at Shunem. At the same time, Saul gathered all of the fighting men of Israel together. They set up camp at Gilboa. 5 When Saul saw the Philistine army, he was afraid. Terror filled his heart. 6 He asked the Lord for advice. But the Lord didn’t answer him through dreams or prophets. He didn’t answer him when Saul had the priest use the Urim. 7 Saul spoke to his attendants. He said, “Find me a woman who gets messages from those who have died. Then I can go and ask her some questions.” “There’s a woman like that in Endor,” they said. 8 Saul put on different clothes so people wouldn’t know who he was. At night he and two of his men went to see the woman. “I want you to talk to a spirit for me,” he said. “Bring up the spirit of the dead person I choose.” 9 But the woman said to him, “By now you must know what Saul has done. He has cut off everyone who gets messages from those who have died. He has also cut off everyone who talks to the spirits of the dead. He has thrown all of them out of the land. Why are you trying to trap me? Why do you want to have me put to death?” 10 Saul took an oath in the name of the Lord. He promised the woman, “You can be sure that the Lord lives. And you can be just as sure that you won’t be punished for helping me.” 11 Then the woman asked, “Whose spirit should I bring up for you?” “Bring Samuel up,” he said. 12 When the woman saw Samuel, she let out a loud scream. She said to Saul, “Why have you tricked me? You are King Saul!” 13 He said to her, “Don’t be afraid. Tell me what you see.” The woman said, “I see a spirit. He’s coming up out of the ground.” 14 “What does he look like?” Saul asked. “An old man wearing a robe is coming up,” she said. Then Saul knew it was Samuel. He bowed down. He lay down flat with his face toward the ground. 15 Samuel said to Saul, “Why have you troubled me by bringing me up from the dead?” “I’m having big problems,” Saul said. “The Philistines are fighting against me. God has turned away from me. He doesn’t answer me anymore. He doesn’t speak to me through prophets or dreams. So I’ve called on you to tell me what to do.” 16 Samuel said, “The Lord has turned away from you. He has become your enemy. So why are you asking me what you should do? 17 The Lord has spoken through me and has done what he said he would do. He has torn the kingdom out of your hands. He has given it to one of your neighbors. He has given it to David. 18 You didn’t obey the Lord. You didn’t carry out his burning anger against the Amalekites. So he’s punishing you today. 19 “He will hand both Israel and you over to the Philistines. Tomorrow you and your sons will be down here with me. The Lord will also hand Israel’s army over to the Philistines.” 20 Immediately Saul fell flat on the ground. What Samuel had said filled Saul with fear. His strength was gone. He hadn’t eaten anything all that day and night. 21 The woman went over to Saul because she saw that he was very upset. She said, “Look, I’ve obeyed you. I put my own life in danger by doing what you told me to do. 22 So please listen to me. Let me give you some food. Eat it. Then you will have the strength to go on your way.” 23 But he refused. He said, “I don’t want anything to eat.” Then his men joined the woman in begging him to eat. Finally, he paid attention to them. He got up from the ground and sat on a couch. 24 The woman had a fat calf at her house. She killed it at once. She got some flour. She mixed it and baked some bread that didn’t have any yeast in it. 25 Then she set the food in front of Saul and his men. They ate it. That same night they got up and left.

Saul asks God

what to do. This is good, but God does not tell him (an answer in itself).

I love to know what God wants me to do, but so often He doesn’t tell me specifics. I need to put myself in God’s hands in an uncertain future, not plan out what God will do. That is faith.

Rather than accept God’s sovereign choice, about directing the coming battle and the kingship of Israel, Saul takes things into his own hands, again.

He has a habit of doing what he thinks is expedient, though he knows the right thing to do. Saul knows that consulting mediums is offensive to God (Deuteronomy 18:9-14). He, himself, has outlawed them. When God does not

do what he wants, Saul seeks out a medium so he can ask Samuel what to do.

Saul has developed a second hand faith. His relationship with God is badly damaged by his disobedience. But rather than come to God in repentance, he seeks out Samuel. But Samuel’s faith won’t save Saul. Christian friends can be powerful encouragers of our relationship with God, but they should never become a substitute for it.

Samuel appears to him. It seems it was not an illusion or some demonic impersonation, but the real Samuel bringing the words of God’s judgement on Saul. I don’t begin to understand how this happened, but I do understand that the spirit world is real and dangerous. When God says to keep away from those who try to control or use it, I take that warning very seriously.

Saul gets what he does not want. His role in the coming battle is to be defeated and killed because of his (repeated) disobedience. And his destruction is also his sons’, including the faithful Jonathan. Rebellion against God often brings undeserved tragedy to those we love.

Father, help me put my trust in you above all others; obey you no matter what; walk your paths no matter how hard.

Written by David Cornell

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