Monday 31 October, 2016

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 groups 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 today. But the Philistine rulers aren’t pleased to have you come along. 7 So now 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.

The philistines are preparing to go to war against Israel. Both sides are mobilising their forces. As David and his men are under the protection of Achish the Philistine and have been his servants for over a year, they must line up with him to attack Israel. But David’s reputation as a warrior goes before him and the philistine commanders demand that he be sent home. They are smart and know better than to allow a man with divided loyalties to go into battle with them. I don’t know from this story what David’s intentions were. He was caught between love for God and Israel, and fear of King Saul.
As Christians we are to be wholly devoted to God and to our brothers and sisters in Christ. This story shows that we can’t serve the world and rely on its rulers for our security or we, like David, will find ourselves compromising our Christian values. Likewise, there are those who profess Christian morality but are not truly walking with Jesus, in the important battles they are likely to let us down.
Dear Lord please help me to be only for you all the time. Not to hide from you when the going gets tough and not to compromise on anything you have written in the bible even when our culture disagrees with your commands for us. You are a loving God who knows what is best. The battle is yours- eternal victor.

Written by Dimity Milne

1 (reply)
  1. Andrew says:

    Thanks. As I reflect on this passage it looks like an example of the grace of God in my life as in David’s. When we may have done something really stupid but God intervened.
    David was an impressive man he had protected his father’s sheep from bears and lions, he was the anointed by the profet Samuel as the next King of Isreal, he killed Goliath the Phillestine, then had multiple military victories (because of the Lords blessing). He was the warrior who killed 10,000s and they danced about it. Admittedly at this time David was being unfairly pursued by Saul so he took refuge in Phillestine territory and befriended the King Achish.
    But in hindsight it would have looked very poor on his CV for David (the Annointed King of Israel to have killed 10,000 Israelites for Achish. Despite David’s righteous indignation (I can’t relate to that – who can question my loyalty? ). Not only does God save David from doing something really stupid, God knows that in the next chapter David has an even bigger issue to save his wives children and the whole community at Jesreel.
    Thank you Lord that you even use Phillestines to prevent me from doing really stupid things!

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Sunday 30 October, 2016

1 Samuel 28:3-25

3 Samuel had died. The whole nation of Israel was filled with sorrow because he was dead. They had buried him in his own town of Ramah. Saul had thrown out of the land people who get messages from those who have died. He had also thrown out people who talk to the spirits of the dead. 4 The Philistines gathered together and set up camp at Shunem. At the same time, Saul gathered together all the Israelites. 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 cast lots by using 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 removed everyone who gets messages from those who have died. He has also removed 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 made a promise in the name of the Lord. He said to 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 ghostly figure. He’s coming up out of the earth.” 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 left 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 left 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. The Lord 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 show his great anger against the Amalekites by destroying them. 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 all that 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.

Fear. It gripped Saul, body, mind and soul. No longer in communion with the Lord, Samuel dead, a paranoid Saul realised the strength of the enemy which had come up against him.

The Philistines set up camp ready to attack and when Saul saw them his courage failed him.

Wanting guidance he turned to the Lord. But his communion with his God had been broken by his disobedience, and he no longer had God’s spirit. What a feeling of being alone Saul must have experienced!

Wanting to fill the vacuum, Saul turned to the occult. Samuel appeared and condemned him. Saul was crushed.

Many people live in a spiritual vacuum, leaving them exposed to Satan’s attacks. Our loving heavenly Father wants us to be filled to over flowing with his Holy Spirit rather than being filled with terror (v5), loneliness (v15), and leaving ourselves vulnerable to the attack of Satan. Be a conduit for the Holy Spirit, flowing into your life, and out through you to bless others.

Contrast the fruit of the Spirit – Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control – with the fruit of separation from God as experienced by Saul. I want to have the orchard of the Holy Spirit in my life.

Heavenly Father, your Holy Spirit is such a precious friend alongside me always.  He prompts me to seek you, helps me know what to pray when I am afraid or things are out of my control. He helps me know what you are saying to me. Fill me with your Holy Spirit today Lord. Amen

Written by Claire Moore

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Saturday 29 October, 2016

1 Samuel 27:1-28:2

27 David thought, “Some day Saul will destroy me. So the best thing I can do is escape. I’ll go to the land of the Philistines. Then Saul will stop looking for me everywhere in Israel. His hand won’t be able to reach me.” 2 So David and his 600 men left Israel. They went to Achish, the king of Gath. He was the son of Maok. 3 David and his men made their homes in Gath near Achish. Each of David’s men had his family with him. David had his two wives with him. They were Ahinoam from Jezreel and Abigail from Carmel. Abigail was Nabal’s widow. 4 Saul was told that David had run away to Gath. So he didn’t look for David anymore. 5 David said to Achish, “If you are pleased with me, give me a place in one of your country towns. I can live there. I don’t really need to live near you in the royal city.” 6 So on that day Achish gave David the town of Ziklag. It has belonged to the kings of Judah ever since that time. 7 David lived in Philistine territory for a year and four months. 8 Sometimes David and his men would go up and attack the Geshurites. At other times they would attack the Girzites or the Amalekites. All those people had lived in the land that reached all the way to Shur and Egypt. They had been there for a long time. 9 When David would attack an area, he wouldn’t leave a man or woman alive. But he would take their sheep, cattle, donkeys, camels and clothes. Then he would return to Achish. 10 Achish would ask, “Who did you attack today?” David would answer, “The people who live in the Negev Desert of Judah.” Or he would answer, “The people in the Negev Desert of Jerahmeel.” Or he would answer, “The people in the Negev Desert of the Kenites.” 11 David wouldn’t leave a man or woman alive to be brought back to Gath. He thought, “They might tell on us. They might tell Achish who we really attacked.” That’s what David did as long as he lived in Philistine territory. 12 Achish trusted David. He thought, “David’s own people, the Israelites, can’t stand him anymore. So he’ll be my servant for life.” 28 While David was living in Ziklag, the Philistines gathered their army together. They planned to fight against Israel. Achish said to David, “Here is what you must understand. 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.”

This passage shows that David was a very real, multifaceted, and often flawed human being. The David represented in 1 Samuel 27 is not the David that usually first comes to our minds; a man after God’s own heart, flinging stones at Goliath, defeating the Philistines.

In this scripture, we see David as a man whose thoughts and actions show that he has doubts in who God is and what God can and will do. This David moves himself, his family, and his 600 men plus their families into idol-worshipping Philistine territory, seeking peace. This David becomes a man who makes alliances with his enemies, who kills and plunders, and then proceeds to lie about his actions. How has this happened?

I think the very first line of this passage shows David’s undoing. Verse one says “David thought…” David did not seek wise counsel, he did not consult a godly prophet, he did not pray and approach The Lord. Instead he relied on his own thoughts, already permeated with fear and exhaustion, to be his guide. Unfortunately with his thoughts leading the way, David’s actions did not reflect God’s heart.

I am grateful that passages such as this have been included in scripture. It is heartening to see that even great people of God, like David, also struggled in areas that I struggle with. I am encouraged to learn from the actions and example of David, that I may make decisions based not on fear or my own thoughts. Rather may I remember and be motivated to seek wise counsel and to present my burdens, feelings and thoughts to God, that I may rely on Him to lead and guide me.

Lord, thank you that your ways are always the best ways, and that we can rely on you to faithfully guide us. Help us to remember this each and every day as we seek to make decisions in our lives that honour you and reflect who you are. Amen.

Written by Madelaine Tarsenko

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Friday 28 October, 2016

1 Samuel 26:1-25

26 Some people from Ziph went to Saul at Gibeah. They said, “David is hiding on the hill of Hakilah. It faces Jeshimon.” 2 So Saul went down to the Desert of Ziph. He took 3,000 of the best soldiers in Israel with him. They went to the desert to look for David. 3 Saul set up his camp beside the road. It was on the hill of Hakilah facing Jeshimon. But David stayed in the desert. He saw that Saul had followed him there. 4 So he sent out scouts. From them he learned that Saul had arrived. 5 Then David started out. He went to the place where Saul had camped. He saw where Saul and Abner were lying down. Saul was lying inside the camp. The army was camped all around him. Abner was commander of the army. He was the son of Ner. 6 Then David spoke to Ahimelek, the Hittite. He also spoke to Joab’s brother Abishai, the son of Zeruiah. He asked them, “Who will go down with me into the camp to Saul?” “I’ll go with you,” said Abishai. 7 So that night David and Abishai went into the camp. They found Saul lying asleep inside the camp. His spear was stuck in the ground near his head. Abner and the soldiers were lying asleep around him. 8 Abishai said to David, “Today God has handed your enemy over to you. So let me pin him to the ground. I can do it with one jab of the spear. I won’t even have to strike him twice.” 9 But David said to Abishai, “Don’t destroy him! No one can do any harm to the Lord’s anointed king and not be guilty. 10 You can be sure that the Lord lives,” he said. “And you can be just as sure that the Lord himself will strike Saul down. Perhaps he’ll die a natural death. Or perhaps he’ll go into battle and be killed. 11 May the Lord keep me from doing anything to harm his anointed king. Now get the spear and water jug that are near his head. Then let’s leave.” 12 So David took the spear and water jug that were near Saul’s head. Then he and Abishai left. No one saw them. No one knew about what they had done. In fact, no one even woke up. Everyone was sleeping. That’s because the Lord had put them into a deep sleep. 13 David went across to the other side of the valley. He stood on top of a hill far away from Saul’s camp. There was a wide space between them. 14 He called out to the army and to Abner, the son of Ner. He said, “Abner! Aren’t you going to answer me?” Abner replied, “Who is calling out to the king?” 15 David said, “You are a great soldier, aren’t you? There isn’t anyone else like you in Israel. So why didn’t you guard the king? He’s your master, isn’t he? Someone came into the camp to destroy him. 16 You didn’t guard him. And that isn’t good. You can be sure that the Lord lives. And you can be just as sure that you and your men must die. That’s because you didn’t guard your master. He’s the Lord’s anointed king. Look around you. Where are the king’s spear and water jug that were near his head?” 17 Saul recognized David’s voice. He said, “My son David, is that your voice?” David replied, “Yes it is, King Saul, my master.” 18 He continued, “Why are you chasing me? What evil thing have I done? What am I guilty of? 19 King Saul, please listen to what I’m saying. Was it the Lord who made you angry with me? If it was, may he accept my offering. Was it people who made you angry at me? If it was, may the Lord see them cursed. They have driven me today from my share of the Lord’s land. By doing that, they might as well have said, ‘Go and serve other gods.’ 20 Don’t spill my blood on the ground far away from where the Lord lives. King Saul, you have come out to look for nothing but a flea. It’s as if you were hunting a partridge in the mountains.” 21 Then Saul said, “I have sinned. My son David, come back. Today you thought my life was very special. So I won’t try to harm you again. I’ve really acted like a foolish person. I’ve made a huge mistake.” 22 “Here’s your spear,” David answered. “Send one of your young men over to get it. 23 The Lord rewards everyone for doing what is right and being faithful. He handed you over to me today. But I wouldn’t harm you. You are the Lord’s anointed king. 24 Today I thought your life had great value. In the same way, may the Lord think of my life as having great value. May he save me from all trouble.” 25 Then Saul said to David, “May the Lord bless you, David my son. You will do great things. You will also have great success.” So David went on his way. And Saul returned home.


In chapter 24 we saw Saul neglecting his job as king to search for David to kill him. God puts Saul in a position where David could make that promised kingship his right then and there. “Now’s your opportunity!” (24:4). But David refuses to take what God promised to give.

Yet here Saul is again, trying to take by force what God has given to David.

And again God puts Saul’s life in David’s hands. “God has surely handed your enemy over to you this time!” (26:8). The spear’s right next to Saul’s head. Abishai even offers to do the deed himself. (Saul’s blood would not be on David’s hands.)

So how does David know this isn’t how God is fulfilling his promise?

Many would do it “because I can”. But that’s not God’s heart.

Surely “the end justifies the means”. But that’s not God’s heart.

“Just do it”? But that’s not God’s heart.

What a contrast to Saul’s first test of faith as king in chapter 13, when he’s told to wait for Samuel to make the sacrifice. But when Saul saw his opportunity slipping away he took matters into his own hands.

God chose David because he was “a man after his own heart” (13:14). He has no dilemmas. He doesn’t need to analyse the fine print of God’s promise. He knows God’s heart. He knows his God is not only faithful; He’s honourable in all he does. He waits for God to fulfil his promises His way.

It’s a challenge to me, who loves to analyse things.

Lord, fill my heart and thoughts. Keep changing my heart to be like your heart, my thoughts to be your thoughts. Give me the wisdom and courage to always seek your fulfilment to all your promises.

Written by David Cornell

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Thursday 27 October, 2016

1 Samuel 25:1-43

25 When Samuel died, the whole nation of Israel gathered together. They were filled with sorrow because he was dead. They buried him at his home in Ramah. Then David went down into the Desert of Paran. 2 A certain man in Maon was very wealthy. He owned property there at Carmel. He had 1,000 goats and 3,000 sheep. He was clipping the wool off the sheep in Carmel. 3 His name was Nabal. His wife’s name was Abigail. She was a wise and beautiful woman. But her husband was rude and mean in the way he treated others. He was from the family of Caleb. 4 David was staying in the Desert of Paran. While he was there, he heard that Nabal was clipping the wool off his sheep. 5 So he sent for ten young men. He said to them, “Go up to Nabal at Carmel. Greet him for me. 6 Say to him, ‘May you live a long time! May everything go well with you and your family! And may things go well with everything that belongs to you! 7 “ ‘I hear that you are clipping the wool off your sheep. When your shepherds were with us, we treated them well. The whole time they were at Carmel nothing that belonged to them was stolen. 8 Ask your own servants. They’ll tell you. We’ve come to you now at a happy time of the year. Please be kind to my men. Please give me and my men anything you can find for us.’ ” 9 When David’s men arrived, they gave Nabal the message from David. Then they waited. 10 Nabal answered David’s servants, “Who is this David? Who is this son of Jesse? Many servants are running away from their masters these days. 11 Why should I give away my bread and water? Why should I give away the meat I’ve prepared for those who clip the wool off my sheep? Why should I give food to men who come from who knows where?” 12 So David’s men turned around and went back. When they arrived, they reported to David every word Nabal had spoken. 13 David said to his men, “Each of you put on your swords!” So they did. David put his sword on too. About 400 men went up with David. Two hundred men stayed behind with the supplies. 14 One of the servants warned Abigail, Nabal’s wife. He said, “David sent some messengers from the desert to give his greetings to our master. But Nabal shouted at them and was rude to them. 15 David’s men had been very good to us. They treated us well. The whole time we were near them out in the fields, nothing was stolen. 16 We were taking care of our sheep near them. During that time, they were like a wall around us night and day. They kept us safe. 17 Now think it over. See what you can do. Horrible trouble will soon come to our master and his whole family. He’s such an evil man that no one can even talk to him.” 18 Abigail didn’t waste any time. She got 200 loaves of bread and two bottles of wine. The bottles were made out of animal skins. She got five sheep that were ready to be cooked. She got a bushel of grain that had been cooked. She got 100 raisin cakes. And she got 200 cakes of pressed figs. She loaded all of it on the backs of donkeys. 19 Then she told her servants, “Go on ahead. I’ll follow you.” But she didn’t tell her husband Nabal about it. 20 Abigail rode her donkey into a mountain valley. There she saw David and his men. They were coming down toward her. 21 David had just said, “Everything we’ve done hasn’t been worth a thing! I watched over that fellow’s property in the desert. I made sure none of it was stolen. But he has paid me back evil for good. 22 I won’t leave even one of his men alive until morning. If I do, may God punish me greatly!” 23 When Abigail saw David, she quickly got off her donkey. She bowed down in front of David with her face toward the ground. 24 She fell at his feet. She said, “Pardon your servant, sir. Please let me speak to you. Listen to what I’m saying. Let me take the blame myself. 25 Please don’t pay any attention to that evil man Nabal. His name means Foolish Person. And that’s exactly what he is. He’s always doing foolish things. I’m sorry I didn’t get a chance to see the men you sent. 26 Sir, the Lord has kept you from killing Nabal and his men. He has kept you from using your own hands to get even. So may what’s about to happen to Nabal happen to all your enemies. May it happen to everyone who wants to harm you. And may it happen just as surely as the Lord your God and you are alive. 27 I’ve brought a gift for you. Give it to the men who follow you. 28 “Please forgive me if I shouldn’t have done that. The Lord your God will certainly give you and your family line a kingdom that will last. That’s because you fight the Lord’s battles. You won’t do anything wrong as long as you live. 29 Someone may chase you and try to kill you. But the Lord your God will keep your life safe like a treasure hidden in a bag. And he’ll destroy your enemies. Their lives will be thrown away, just as a stone is thrown from a sling. 30 The Lord will do for you every good thing he promised to do. He’ll appoint you ruler over Israel. 31 When that happens, you won’t have this heavy load on your mind. You won’t have to worry about how you killed people without any reason. You won’t have to worry about how you got even. The Lord your God will give you success. When that happens, please remember me.” 32 David said to Abigail, “Give praise to the Lord. He is the God of Israel. He has sent you today to find me. 33 May the Lord bless you for what you have done. You have shown a lot of good sense. You have kept me from killing Nabal and his men this day. You have kept me from using my own hands to get even. 34 It’s a good thing you came quickly to meet me. If you hadn’t come, not one of Nabal’s men would have been left alive by sunrise. And that’s just as sure as the Lord, the God of Israel, is alive. He has kept me from harming you.” 35 Then David accepted from her what she had brought him. He said, “Go home in peace. I’ve heard your words. I’ll do what you have asked.” 36 Abigail went back to Nabal. He was having a dinner party in the house. It was the kind of dinner a king would have. He had been drinking too much wine. He was very drunk. So she didn’t tell him anything at all until sunrise. 37 The next morning Nabal wasn’t drunk anymore. Then his wife told him everything. When she did, his heart grew weak. He became like a stone. 38 About ten days later, the Lord struck Nabal down. And he died. 39 David heard that Nabal was dead. So he said, “Give praise to the Lord. Nabal was rude to me. But the Lord stood up for me. He has kept me from doing something wrong. He has paid Nabal back for the wrong things he did.” Then David sent a message to Abigail. He asked her to become his wife. 40 His servants went to Carmel. They said to Abigail, “David has sent us to you. He wants you to come back with us and become his wife.” 41 Abigail bowed down with her face toward the ground. She said, “I am your servant. I’m ready to serve him. I’m ready to wash the feet of his servants.” 42 Abigail quickly got on a donkey and went with David’s messengers. Her five female servants went with her. She became David’s wife. 43 David had also married Ahinoam from Jezreel. Both of them became his wives.

What an interesting story in the midst of Saul’s pursuit of David. Samuel – the Man of God dies & Israel mourns. Then we have contrasts between graciousness & selfishness; generosity & meanness; wisdom & folly. In it all Abigail shines as a woman of reason, wisdom, graciousness & the mediator of peace. She knows David’s story, the destiny that God has for him & she saves him from killing outside of war.

I am impressed with this woman. I see in her courage, insight, diplomacy & the presence of mind to know what to do in a bad situation. I see her Christ-like nature, her heart after God, her servant heart – willing to wash feet, a bringer of grace & peace, and generous. A woman to aspire to be like.

Father, thank you for this story, this woman’s story to encourage me today. May I grow to be more like her Christ-likeness. Amen.

Written by Suzie Hodgson

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Wednesday 26 October, 2016

1 Samuel 24:1-22

24 Saul returned from chasing the Philistines. Then he was told, “David is in the Desert of En Gedi.” 2 So Saul took 3,000 of the best soldiers from the whole nation of Israel. He started out to look for David and his men. He planned to look near the Rocky Cliffs of the Wild Goats. 3 He came to some sheep pens along the way. A cave was there. Saul went in to go to the toilet. David and his men were far back in the cave. 4 David’s men said, “This is the day the Lord told you about. He said to you, ‘I will hand your enemy over to you. Then you can deal with him as you want to.’ ” So David came up close to Saul without being seen. He cut off a corner of Saul’s robe. 5 Later, David felt sorry that he had cut off a corner of Saul’s robe. 6 He said to his men, “May the Lord keep me from doing a thing like that again to my master. He is the Lord’s anointed king. So I promise that I will never lay my hand on him. The Lord has anointed him.” 7 David said that to correct his men. He wanted them to know that they should never suggest harming the king. He didn’t allow them to attack Saul. So Saul left the cave and went on his way. 8 Then David went out of the cave. He called out to Saul, “King Saul! My master!” When Saul looked behind him, David bowed down. He lay down flat with his face toward the ground. 9 He said to Saul, “Why do you listen when men say, ‘David is trying to harm you’? 10 This day you have seen with your own eyes how the Lord handed you over to me in the cave. Some of my men begged me to kill you. But I didn’t. I said, ‘I will never lay my hand on my master. He is the Lord’s anointed king.’ 11 Look, my father! Look at this piece of your robe in my hand! I cut off the corner of your robe. But I didn’t kill you. See, there is nothing in my hand that shows I am guilty of doing anything wrong. I haven’t turned against you. I haven’t done anything to harm you. But you are hunting me down. You want to kill me. 12 May the Lord judge between you and me. And may the Lord pay you back because of the wrong things you have done to me. But I won’t do anything to hurt you. 13 People say, ‘Evil acts come from those who do evil.’ So I won’t do anything to hurt you. 14 “King Saul, who are you trying to catch? Who do you think you are chasing? I’m nothing but a dead dog or a flea! 15 May the Lord be our judge. May he decide between us. May he consider my case and stand up for me. May he show that I’m not guilty of doing anything wrong. May he save me from you.” 16 When David finished speaking, Saul asked him a question. He said, “My son David, is that your voice?” And Saul wept out loud. 17 “You are a better person than I am,” he said. “You have treated me well. But I’ve treated you badly. 18 You have just now told me about the good things you did to me. The Lord handed me over to you. But you didn’t kill me. 19 Suppose a man finds his enemy. He doesn’t let him get away without harming him. May the Lord reward you with many good things. May he do it because of the way you treated me today. 20 I know for sure that you will be king. I know that the kingdom of Israel will be made secure under your control. 21 Now make a promise in the name of the Lord. Promise me that you won’t kill the children of my family. Also promise me that you won’t wipe out my name from my family line.” 22 So David made that promise to Saul. Then Saul returned home. But David and his men went up to his usual place of safety.

David has been given a promise that one day he will be king, but right now he doesn’t look like a king – he looks like a fugitive. King Saul is out to kill him, so David and his men go into hiding in the desert. How unglamorous, how humbling for David.

Suddenly David is given an opportunity to fulfil his destiny and become king when Saul unknowingly enters the cave where David is hiding. He could easily kill Saul, but instead he pulls back.

It must have been difficult for David to be hiding in a dark cave like a hunted animal. If he had been sitting there thinking angry, dark thoughts about what was happening to him, he probably would have killed Saul in an instant.

Instead he shows restraint and patience for God’s plans to come about. David will eventually become king, but not by his own hand.

The attitudes and the thoughts that we hold onto in the ‘dark cave’ of our trials determine how we will react in life. Do I grumble and grow restless to bust my way out of my situation or do I hold on to the promises that in Him we reign?

Faith and patience inherit the promises of God. Not my way, His way, His timing.

Written by Shelley Witt

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Tuesday 25 October, 2016

1 Samuel 23:15-29

15 David was at Horesh in the Desert of Ziph. There he learned that Saul had come out to kill him. 16 Saul’s son Jonathan went to David at Horesh. He told David that God would make him strong. 17 “Don’t be afraid,” he said. “My father Saul won’t harm you. You will be king over Israel. And I will be next in command. Even my father Saul knows this.” 18 The two of them made a covenant of friendship in front of the Lord. Then Jonathan went home. But David remained at Horesh. 19 The people of Ziph went up to Saul at Gibeah. They said, “David is hiding among us. He’s hiding in places of safety at Horesh. Horesh is south of Jeshimon on the hill of Hakilah. 20 Your Majesty, come down when it pleases you to come. It will be our duty to hand David over to you.” 21 Saul replied, “May the Lord bless you because you were concerned about me. 22 Make sure you are right. Go and check things out again. Find out where David usually goes. Find out who has seen him there. People tell me he’s very tricky. 23 Find out about all the hiding places he uses. Come back to me with all the facts. I’ll go with you. Suppose he’s in the area. Then I’ll track him down among all the family groups of Judah.” 24 So they started out. They went to Ziph ahead of Saul. David and his men were in the Desert of Maon. Maon is south of Jeshimon in the Arabah Valley. 25 Saul and his men started out to look for David. David was told about it. So he went down to a rock in the Desert of Maon to hide. Saul heard he was there. So he went into the Desert of Maon to chase David. 26 Saul was going along one side of the mountain. David and his men were on the other side. They were hurrying to get away from Saul. Saul and his army were closing in on David and his men. They were about to capture them. 27 Just then a messenger came to Saul. He said, “Come quickly! The Philistines are attacking the land.” 28 So Saul stopped chasing David. He went to fight against the Philistines. That’s why they call that place Sela Hammahlekoth. 29 David left that place. He went and lived in places of safety near En Gedi.

The value of faithful friendships. I admire so much the brotherly love and faithfulness of Jonathan to David, and it is well described from chapter 18 through to this chapter. They were kindred spirits. Many a time did Jonathan protect David against his father’s desire to have him killed. He tried reasoning with his father against hurting David, and gave warnings to David on numerous occasions.

This set of verses today again shows Jonathan warning David, but he did more than that. V16 “ and helped him (David) to find strength in God”.

Jonathan was an encourager as well as a protector. David is one of the great Bible heroes of faith, and I am sure that in his younger days, the influence, care, faithfulness and encouragement of Jonathan helped mould David into the man he became.

I would so love to see how this simple, but profound verse, was played out. Jonathan was truly a great friend.

Lord, help me to be a faithful friend, one that encourages and protects. Help me to always see how I can build into friend’s lives, that they may be encouraged to find strength in God, in all situations of life. Amen

Written by Stephen Fell

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Monday 24 October, 2016

1 Samuel 23:1-14

23 David was told, “The Philistines are fighting against the town of Keilah. They are stealing grain from the threshing floors.” 2 So he asked the Lord for advice. He said, “Should I go and attack those Philistines?” The Lord answered him, “Go and attack them. Save Keilah.” 3 But David’s men said to him, “We’re afraid here in Judah. Suppose we go to Keilah and fight against the Philistine army. Then we’ll be even more afraid.” 4 Once again David asked the Lord what he should do. The Lord answered him, “Go down to Keilah. I am going to hand the Philistines over to you.” 5 So David and his men went to Keilah. They fought against the Philistines and carried off their livestock. David wounded and killed large numbers of Philistines. And he saved the people of Keilah. 6 Abiathar, the son of Ahimelek, had brought down the sacred linen apron with him from Nob. He did it when he ran away to David at Keilah. 7 Saul was told that David had gone to Keilah. He said, “God has handed him over to me. David has trapped himself by entering a town that has gates with metal bars.” 8 So Saul brought together all his soldiers to go to battle. He ordered them to go down to Keilah. He told them to surround David and his men. He told them to get ready to attack them. 9 David learned that Saul was planning to attack him. So he said to Abiathar the priest, “Bring the linen apron.” 10 Then David said, “Lord, you are the God of Israel. I know for sure that Saul plans to come to Keilah. He plans to destroy the town because of me. 11 Will the citizens of Keilah hand me over to him? Will Saul come down here, as I’ve heard he would? Lord, you are the God of Israel. Please answer me.” The Lord said, “He will come down.” 12 Again David asked, “Will the citizens of Keilah hand me and my men over to Saul?” And the Lord said, “They will.” 13 So David and his men left Keilah. The total number of them was about 600. They kept moving from place to place. Saul was told that David had escaped from Keilah. So he didn’t go there. 14 Sometimes David stayed in places of safety in the desert. At other times he stayed in the hills of the Desert of Ziph. Day after day Saul looked for him. But God didn’t hand David over to him.

When I am under pressure or times are tough I find myself leaning one of two ways. I may become frantic, rushing decisions, worrying excessively and trying to solve all my problems by the strength of my failing reason.  Alternatively, I may become inclined to throw myself before the feet of God. I cling to Him and pour out all my requests to him.

I see in this section of scripture that the pressure on David has caused him to bring every concern before the Lord. David is looking for God to show him which way he should go. In the midst of extreme hardship David is making wise decisions and living very near to God.

Lord, troubles are a reminder that I need you, stress is a call to prayer. Hard times can put my back against the wall, or they can back me up into your embrace. Lord, I desire the inclination of David, to throw myself before you, desiring your presence and direction. As a church, the body of Christ, may we have the heart of David we see here.

Written by Andrew Mellor

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  1. David Newton says:

    “Bring every concern to the Lord” That is an inspirational notion and such a simple idea that it is hard to understand why we don’t all practice it consistently. I consider myself to be the ‘Chief of sinners’ when it comes to this practice so you have given something of real value to reflect on today. Thanks Andrew.

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Sunday 23 October, 2016

1 Samuel 22:1-23

22 David left Gath and escaped to the cave of Adullam. His brothers and the other members of his family heard about it. So they went down to join him there. 2 Everyone who was in trouble or owed money or was unhappy gathered around him. He became their commander. About 400 men were with him. 3 From there David went to Mizpah in Moab. He spoke to the king of Moab. He said, “Please let my father and mother come and stay with you. Let them stay until I learn what God will do for me.” 4 So David left his parents with the king of Moab. They stayed with him as long as David was in his usual place of safety. 5 But the prophet Gad spoke to David. He said, “Don’t stay in your usual place of safety. Go into the land of Judah.” So David left and went to the forest of Hereth. 6 Saul heard that the place where David and his men were hiding had been discovered. Saul was sitting under a tamarisk tree on the hill at Gibeah. He was holding his spear. All his officials were standing at his side. 7 Saul said to them, “Men of Benjamin, listen to me! Do you think Jesse’s son will give all of you fields and vineyards? Do you think he’ll make some of you commanders of thousands of men? Do you think he’ll make the rest of you commanders of hundreds? 8 Is that why all of you have joined together against me? No one tells me when my son makes a covenant with Jesse’s son. None of you is concerned about me. No one tells me that my son has stirred up Jesse’s son to hide and wait to attack me. But that’s exactly what’s happening now.” 9 Doeg was standing with Saul’s officials. He was from Edom. He said, “I saw Jesse’s son David come to Ahimelek at Nob. Ahimelek is the son of Ahitub. 10 Ahimelek asked the Lord a question for David. He also gave him food and the sword of Goliath, the Philistine.” 11 Then the king sent for the priest Ahimelek, the son of Ahitub. The king also sent for all the men in his family. They were the priests at Nob. All of them came to the king. 12 Saul said, “Son of Ahitub, listen to me.” “Yes, master,” he answered. 13 Saul said to him, “Why have you and Jesse’s son joined together against me? Why did you give him bread and a sword? Why did you ask God a question for him? Now he has turned against me. He is hiding and waiting to attack me right now.” 14 Ahimelek answered the king, “David is faithful to you. In fact, he’s more faithful to you than anyone else who serves you. He’s your own son-in-law. He’s the captain of your own personal guards. He’s highly respected by everyone in your palace. 15 Was that day the first time I asked God a question for him? Of course not! Please don’t bring charges against me. Please don’t bring charges against anyone in my family. I don’t know anything at all about this whole matter.” 16 But the king said, “Ahimelek, you will certainly be put to death. You and your whole family will be put to death.” 17 Then the king gave an order to the guards at his side. He said, “Go and kill the priests of the Lord. They are on David’s side too. They knew he was running away from me. And they didn’t even tell me.” But the king’s officials wouldn’t raise a hand to strike down the priests of the Lord. 18 Then the king ordered Doeg, “You go and strike down the priests.” So Doeg, the Edomite, went and struck them down. That day he killed 85 priests who wore linen aprons. 19 He also killed the people of Nob with his sword. Nob was a town where priests lived. Doeg killed its men and women. He killed its children and babies. He also destroyed its cattle, donkeys and sheep. 20 But Abiathar, a son of Ahimelek, escaped. Ahimelek was the son of Ahitub. Abiathar ran away and joined David. 21 He told David that Saul had killed the priests of the Lord. 22 Then David said to Abiathar, “One day I was at Nob. I saw Doeg, the Edomite, there. I knew he would be sure to tell Saul. Your whole family has been killed. And I’m responsible for it. 23 So stay with me. Don’t be afraid. The man who wants to kill you wants to kill me too. You will be safe with me.”

The story of two men. Each man positioned for kingship and leadership. I’m constantly struck though by how distinctly different their journey’s are. The story today demonstrates two different hearts and two different allegiances.

David is fleeing, under attack, being hunted and yet his concern is for his family and that he should ‘learn what God will do for me’. ‘For’ me. That’s a declaration of confidence that God has his back. He is still full of love and full of faith despite his circumstances. He’s still walking forward, listening to God and making progress.

Then there’s Saul … ‘seated, spear in hand, under the tamarisk tree’. He’s full of fear. His concern is to portion blame and to punish … and that he does in full measure to the priests of Nob. Fear and despair leads to death of hope.

Saul has forgotten his God and acts from a place of fear and desperation. David remembers His God and finds direction and hope.

May I remember you today Lord God. All you are, all you’ve done, all you will be. In remembering, may I find and place my hope in you and move forward in love and mercy. Amen

Written by Rosie Walker

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Saturday 22 October, 2016

1 Samuel 21:1-15

21 David went to Ahimelek the priest at Nob. Ahimelek trembled with fear when he met him. He asked David, “Why are you alone? Why isn’t anyone with you?” 2 David answered Ahimelek the priest, “The king gave me a special job to do. He said to me, ‘I don’t want anyone to know what I’m sending you to do. So don’t say anything about it.’ I’ve told my men to meet me at a certain place. 3 Do you have anything for us to eat? Give me five loaves of bread, or anything else you can find.” 4 But the priest answered David, “I don’t have any bread that isn’t holy. I only have some holy bread here. But it’s for men who haven’t slept with women recently.” 5 David replied, “Well, we haven’t slept with women recently. That’s the way it is every time I lead my men out to battle. We keep ourselves holy even when we do jobs that aren’t holy. And that’s even more true today.” 6 So the priest gave him the holy bread. It was the only bread he had. It had been removed from the table that was in front of the Lord. On the same day, hot bread had been put in its place. 7 One of Saul’s servants was there that day. He had been made to stay at the holy tent for a while. He was Doeg from Edom. Doeg was Saul’s chief shepherd. 8 David asked Ahimelek, “Don’t you have a spear or sword here? I haven’t brought my sword or any other weapon. That’s because the job the king gave me to do had to be done right away.” 9 The priest replied, “The sword of Goliath, the Philistine, is here. You killed him in the Valley of Elah. His sword is wrapped in a cloth. It’s behind the sacred linen apron. If you want it, take it. It’s the only sword here.” David said, “There isn’t any sword like it. Give it to me.” 10 That day David ran away from Saul. He went to Achish, the king of Gath. 11 But the servants of Achish spoke to him. They said, “Isn’t this David, the king of the land? Isn’t he the one the Israelites sing about when they dance? They sing, “ ‘Saul has killed thousands of men. David has killed tens of thousands.’ ” 12 David paid close attention to what the servants were saying. He became very much afraid of what Achish, the king of Gath, might do. 13 So he pretended to be out of his mind when he was with them. As long as he was in Gath, he acted like a crazy person. He made marks on the doors of the city gate. He let spit run down his beard. 14 Achish said to his servants, “Just look at the man! He’s out of his mind! Why are you bringing him to me? 15 Don’t I have enough crazy people around me already? So why do you have to bring this fellow here? Just look at how he’s carrying on in front of me! Why do you have to bring this man into my house?”

David is on the run from King Saul and has left with nothing. He is alone (his men are to meet him elsewhere), he’s hungry (and is given the Bread of the Presence ‘Holy Bread’ from the temple) and unarmed (he has no sword – but in the temple is Goliath’s sword which David used to kill Goliath) when he goes to see Ahimelech the priest.

This passage made me think of the line in the song “when you come to the end of yourself…..Jesus is calling”.

Here David goes to the temple to the priest and he receives food and a sword.

It made me think about church and how each week as we gather together we receive what we need.

We receive “the bread” – which is the Word of God both spoken and in song, that is food for our souls.  That as we ponder during the week on the message we received, it brings us nourishment, sustenance and life change.

We receive a sword.  Ephesians 6 reminds me that our battle is not against flesh and blood but against principalities and powers (forces we cannot see).  Each week we can take up our sword again and use it to defeat what tries to constrain us, mould us or rob us.

There is power and purpose in coming together each Sunday.

Lord, as we come together each Sunday, help us to hear what we need to hear and understand what to do with it.   Help us to become more like you, so that we can be all that you want us to be.

Written by Ps. Sue Botta

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