Monday 31 August, 2020

2 Samuel 1:1-16

1 After the death of Saul, David returned from striking down the Amalekites and stayed in Ziklag two days. 2 On the third day a man arrived from Saul’s camp with his clothes torn and dust on his head. When he came to David, he fell to the ground to pay him honor. 3 “Where have you come from?” David asked him. He answered, “I have escaped from the Israelite camp.” 4 “What happened?” David asked. “Tell me.” “The men fled from the battle,” he replied. “Many of them fell and died. And Saul and his son Jonathan are dead.” 5 Then David said to the young man who brought him the report, “How do you know that Saul and his son Jonathan are dead?” 6 “I happened to be on Mount Gilboa,” the young man said, “and there was Saul, leaning on his spear, with the chariots and their drivers in hot pursuit. 7 When he turned around and saw me, he called out to me, and I said, ‘What can I do?’ 8 “He asked me, ‘Who are you?’ “‘An Amalekite,’ I answered. 9 “Then he said to me, ‘Stand here by me and kill me! I’m in the throes of death, but I’m still alive.’ 10 “So I stood beside him and killed him, because I knew that after he had fallen he could not survive. And I took the crown that was on his head and the band on his arm and have brought them here to my lord.” 11 Then David and all the men with him took hold of their clothes and tore them. 12 They mourned and wept and fasted till evening for Saul and his son Jonathan, and for the army of the Lord and for the nation of Israel, because they had fallen by the sword. 13 David said to the young man who brought him the report, “Where are you from?” “I am the son of a foreigner, an Amalekite,” he answered. 14 David asked him, “Why weren’t you afraid to lift your hand to destroy the Lord’s anointed?” 15 Then David called one of his men and said, “Go, strike him down!” So he struck him down, and he died. 16 For David had said to him, “Your blood be on your own head. Your own mouth testified against you when you said, ‘I killed the Lord’s anointed.’”

What a climax to the tension between King Saul and David!

This passage of scripture is full of unexpected events. Firstly, Saul determines his own end, unable to go on with life. Secondly, the Amalakite murderer goes to David with the news of Saul’s death (recognising David as the future leader). Thirdly, David mourns for Saul – I expect if I were in David’s place I would have felt relief at the very least.

Of the 3 men, only David acknowledges God’s authority and wisdom in the situation. By God’s authority, Saul was made king, therefore it was not for David or anyone else to usurp that place. Even when Saul failed to act as a king and leader, or had evil intentions towards David, he still ruled by God’s authority or will.

I guess it’s trite to say God’s will doesn’t always align with mine. How does this affect my relationship with him? Do I ignore his will and just proceed along the course I choose? Do I challenge his authority over my life? My response should be to bring these issues and situations to him, rather than pretend they don’t exist. A deep relationship works through problems, rather that glossing over them. If God is in charge of my life, it’s an all or nothing situation.

Like David, the only way ahead is to be filled with the Holy Spirit, which is when I will thrive in God’s will for me, not strain against it. Being in his will for my life is where I’m meant to be.

I love being in step with you Heavenly Father, but it’s not always the case I know. Fill me with your Spirit so I can live under your authority. You are my Lord. Amen.

Written by Claire Moore

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Sunday 30 August, 2020

1 Samuel 31:1-13

31 Now the Philistines fought against Israel; the Israelites fled before them, and many fell dead on Mount Gilboa. 2 The Philistines were in hot pursuit of Saul and his sons, and they killed his sons Jonathan, Abinadab and Malki-Shua. 3 The fighting grew fierce around Saul, and when the archers overtook him, they wounded him critically. 4 Saul said to his armor-bearer, “Draw your sword and run me through, or these uncircumcised fellows will come and run me through and abuse me.” But his armor-bearer was terrified and would not do it; so Saul took his own sword and fell on it. 5 When the armor-bearer saw that Saul was dead, he too fell on his sword and died with him. 6 So Saul and his three sons and his armor-bearer and all his men died together that same day. 7 When the Israelites along the valley and those across the Jordan saw that the Israelite army had fled and that Saul and his sons had died, they abandoned their towns and fled. And the Philistines came and occupied them. 8 The next day, when the Philistines came to strip the dead, they found Saul and his three sons fallen on Mount Gilboa. 9 They cut off his head and stripped off his armor, and they sent messengers throughout the land of the Philistines to proclaim the news in the temple of their idols and among their people. 10 They put his armor in the temple of the Ashtoreths and fastened his body to the wall of Beth Shan. 11 When the people of Jabesh Gilead heard what the Philistines had done to Saul, 12 all their valiant men marched through the night to Beth Shan. They took down the bodies of Saul and his sons from the wall of Beth Shan and went to Jabesh, where they burned them. 13 Then they took their bones and buried them under a tamarisk tree at Jabesh, and they fasted seven days.

Saul was anointed King when he was 30 years old.  He reigns over Israel and brings the nation together in this time.  However, he has many enemies and is at war a considerable amount of time. 

His “fall” comes because he disobeyed God’s command and failed to carry out the law of total destruction of a conquered enemy – Amalekites.  He brought back the best of the animals to the land of Israel, rather than destroying them.

I find this passage really sad.  Saul watches his 3 sons die on the battle field and then he takes his own life falling on his sword; and as a result his armour bearer takes his life.  The Philistines come along behead them, strip their armour and put it in the temple of idols (Ashtoreths).  They take Sauls’ body and his 3 sons as “spoil” and fastens it to the wall of Beth Shan.

BUT, the mighty warriors of Jabesh Gilead hear what has been done to their King Saul.  They march all night and take down the bodies and burn and bury them in Jabesh.  They then fasted for 7 days.

Today we don’t have wars like this as such and rarely are Kings at war on the field.  However in our era of social media we see Twitter wars, Facebook and Instagram discrediting people, television shows enhancing stories for “ratings” and fake news.  No matter what Saul had become or was not; these valiant men (who are unnamed) choose to journey all night and bring honour and respect to Saul and his sons.

Let us all be valiant men and women, who consider what we say and where we say it.  Maybe before we “share” we should ask ourselves “does this further the kingdom or discredit Jesus and His people?”

Father, help us all to become wiser and kinder.  Help us to believe the best of others.  Let us be the mighty men and women – who bring honour and respect.  Help us to live out your word:

  “Love covers a multitude of sin” (1 Peter 4 v 8)  “Hatred stirs up strife, but love covers all sin”  Proverbs 10 v 12

Written by Ps. Sue Botta

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  1. Kim Fleming says:

    I love your reflections Sue, ugh a lovely reminder of how we need to keep actively living out our faith in a war of words & morality

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Saturday 29 August, 2020

1 Samuel 30:1-31

30 David and his men reached Ziklag on the third day. Now the Amalekites had raided the Negev and Ziklag. They had attacked Ziklag and burned it, 2 and had taken captive the women and everyone else in it, both young and old. They killed none of them, but carried them off as they went on their way. 3 When David and his men reached Ziklag, they found it destroyed by fire and their wives and sons and daughters taken captive. 4 So David and his men wept aloud until they had no strength left to weep. 5 David’s two wives had been captured—Ahinoam of Jezreel and Abigail, the widow of Nabal of Carmel. 6 David was greatly distressed because the men were talking of stoning him; each one was bitter in spirit because of his sons and daughters. But David found strength in the Lord his God. 7 Then David said to Abiathar the priest, the son of Ahimelek, “Bring me the ephod.” Abiathar brought it to him, 8 and David inquired of the Lord, “Shall I pursue this raiding party? Will I overtake them?” “Pursue them,” he answered. “You will certainly overtake them and succeed in the rescue.” 9 David and the six hundred men with him came to the Besor Valley, where some stayed behind. 10 Two hundred of them were too exhausted to cross the valley, but David and the other four hundred continued the pursuit. 11 They found an Egyptian in a field and brought him to David. They gave him water to drink and food to eat— 12 part of a cake of pressed figs and two cakes of raisins. He ate and was revived, for he had not eaten any food or drunk any water for three days and three nights. 13 David asked him, “Who do you belong to? Where do you come from?” He said, “I am an Egyptian, the slave of an Amalekite. My master abandoned me when I became ill three days ago. 14 We raided the Negev of the Kerethites, some territory belonging to Judah and the Negev of Caleb. And we burned Ziklag.” 15 David asked him, “Can you lead me down to this raiding party?” He answered, “Swear to me before God that you will not kill me or hand me over to my master, and I will take you down to them.” 16 He led David down, and there they were, scattered over the countryside, eating, drinking and reveling because of the great amount of plunder they had taken from the land of the Philistines and from Judah. 17 David fought them from dusk until the evening of the next day, and none of them got away, except four hundred young men who rode off on camels and fled. 18 David recovered everything the Amalekites had taken, including his two wives. 19 Nothing was missing: young or old, boy or girl, plunder or anything else they had taken. David brought everything back. 20 He took all the flocks and herds, and his men drove them ahead of the other livestock, saying, “This is David’s plunder.” 21 Then David came to the two hundred men who had been too exhausted to follow him and who were left behind at the Besor Valley. They came out to meet David and the men with him. As David and his men approached, he asked them how they were. 22 But all the evil men and troublemakers among David’s followers said, “Because they did not go out with us, we will not share with them the plunder we recovered. However, each man may take his wife and children and go.” 23 David replied, “No, my brothers, you must not do that with what the Lord has given us. He has protected us and delivered into our hands the raiding party that came against us. 24 Who will listen to what you say? The share of the man who stayed with the supplies is to be the same as that of him who went down to the battle. All will share alike.” 25 David made this a statute and ordinance for Israel from that day to this. 26 When David reached Ziklag, he sent some of the plunder to the elders of Judah, who were his friends, saying, “Here is a gift for you from the plunder of the Lord’s enemies.” 27 David sent it to those who were in Bethel, Ramoth Negev and Jattir; 28 to those in Aroer, Siphmoth, Eshtemoa 29 and Rakal; to those in the towns of the Jerahmeelites and the Kenites; 30 to those in Hormah, Bor Ashan, Athak 31 and Hebron; and to those in all the other places where he and his men had roamed.

In this passage we read about the Amalekites burning Ziklag, where all the women and children of David and his 600 men resided. When they realised they had lost their families, all the men wept aloud until they had no strength. They were truly heartbroken and were experiencing gut wrenching loss and grief. Not only that, but their despair turned to blame, and they wanted to stone David. Understandably, David was greatly distressed. What did David do? He turned to the Lord. Twice.

Verse 6 tells us that David sought the Lord to be strengthened. What did this look like? He most likely poured out his heart to the Lord, expressing loss, heartache, fears and perhaps even anger and resentment. Here, in the Lord’s presence and waiting before Him, David would have received deep comfort from the Lord’s Spirit, and this would strengthen his heart. How do we know this? Because David was ready to go on with the next thing. Slowly. Rather than rush into revenge, David again seeks the Lord, this time for direction (v8).   

The Lord told David to pursue the Amalekites and strengthened his heart with this knowledge: “you will certainly overtake them and succeed in the rescue” (v8) – He was telling David the women and children were in fact alive. So, David and his 400 men were able to recover all that they had lost, including the women and children.

I’m not sure what kind of heartache you face, but may we be like David. May we first seek the Lord to find comfort and strength. Learning from David, I think “a heart strengthened by the Lord” looks like: trusting the Lord and seeking His direction, being at peace, not blaming, not seeking revenge, doing the next thing, not complaining and overflowing with generosity.

Lord, may we be like David and seek You honestly and with all our heart. Strengthen us by Your Spirit Lord. 

Written by Gab Martin

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Friday 28 August, 2020

1 Samuel 29:1-11

29 The Philistines gathered all their forces at Aphek, and Israel camped by the spring in Jezreel. 2 As the Philistine rulers marched with their units of hundreds and thousands, David and his men were marching at the rear with Achish. 3 The commanders of the Philistines asked, “What about these Hebrews?” Achish replied, “Is this not David, who was an officer of Saul king of Israel? He has already been with me for over a year, and from the day he left Saul until now, I have found no fault in him.” 4 But the Philistine commanders were angry with Achish and said, “Send the man back, that he may return to the place you assigned him. He must not go with us into battle, or he will turn against us during the fighting. How better could he regain his master’s favor than by taking the heads of our own men? 5 Isn’t this the David they sang about in their dances: “‘Saul has slain his thousands, and David his tens of thousands’?” 6 So Achish called David and said to him, “As surely as the Lord lives, you have been reliable, and I would be pleased to have you serve with me in the army. From the day you came to me until today, I have found no fault in you, but the rulers don’t approve of you. 7 Now turn back and go in peace; do nothing to displease the Philistine rulers.” 8 “But what have I done?” asked David. “What have you found against your servant from the day I came to you until now? Why can’t I go and fight against the enemies of my lord the king?” 9 Achish answered, “I know that you have been as pleasing in my eyes as an angel of God; nevertheless, the Philistine commanders have said, ‘He must not go up with us into battle.’ 10 Now get up early, along with your master’s servants who have come with you, and leave in the morning as soon as it is light.” 11 So David and his men got up early in the morning to go back to the land of the Philistines, and the Philistines went up to Jezreel.

When I read this passage I see the kindness of God. God used the fear of the Philistine leaders to prevent David from fighting against Saul and Israel (his own people, God’s people) or from betraying Achish (who had shown David much hospitality) to join Israel. 

David did not deserve this rescue, but God was gracious towards David. How true this is for us and for me today. How many sticky situations we find ourselves in, brought about by our own poor decisions, and yet God chooses to meet us in the mess and help us find a way out.  

Thank you, God, for your kindness, patience and generosity towards me. Thank you that you keep on believing the best of me, and that your grace means I have access to your favour and power, even though I don’t deserve it. Help me not to take your grace for granted, but to receive it as true riches afresh each day. May it inspire me to live a life that honours you. Amen. 

Written by Ps. Bethany Waugh 

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Thursday 27 August, 2020

1 Samuel 28:3-25

3 Now Samuel was dead, and all Israel had mourned for him and buried him in his own town of Ramah. Saul had expelled the mediums and spiritists from the land. 4 The Philistines assembled and came and set up camp at Shunem, while Saul gathered all Israel and set up camp at Gilboa. 5 When Saul saw the Philistine army, he was afraid; terror filled his heart. 6 He inquired of the Lord, but the Lord did not answer him by dreams or Urim or prophets. 7 Saul then said to his attendants, “Find me a woman who is a medium, so I may go and inquire of her.” “There is one in Endor,” they said. 8 So Saul disguised himself, putting on other clothes, and at night he and two men went to the woman. “Consult a spirit for me,” he said, “and bring up for me the one I name.” 9 But the woman said to him, “Surely you know what Saul has done. He has cut off the mediums and spiritists from the land. Why have you set a trap for my life to bring about my death?” 10 Saul swore to her by the Lord, “As surely as the Lord lives, you will not be punished for this.” 11 Then the woman asked, “Whom shall I bring up for you?” “Bring up Samuel,” he said. 12 When the woman saw Samuel, she cried out at the top of her voice and said to Saul, “Why have you deceived me? You are Saul!” 13 The king said to her, “Don’t be afraid. What do you see?” The woman said, “I see a ghostly figure coming up out of the earth.” 14 “What does he look like?” he asked. “An old man wearing a robe is coming up,” she said. Then Saul knew it was Samuel, and he bowed down and prostrated himself with his face to the ground. 15 Samuel said to Saul, “Why have you disturbed me by bringing me up?” “I am in great distress,” Saul said. “The Philistines are fighting against me, and God has departed from me. He no longer answers me, either by prophets or by dreams. So I have called on you to tell me what to do.” 16 Samuel said, “Why do you consult me, now that the Lord has departed from you and become your enemy? 17 The Lord has done what he predicted through me. The Lord has torn the kingdom out of your hands and given it to one of your neighbors—to David. 18 Because you did not obey the Lord or carry out his fierce wrath against the Amalekites, the Lord has done this to you today. 19 The Lord will deliver both Israel and you into the hands of the Philistines, and tomorrow you and your sons will be with me. The Lord will also give the army of Israel into the hands of the Philistines.” 20 Immediately Saul fell full length on the ground, filled with fear because of Samuel’s words. His strength was gone, for he had eaten nothing all that day and all that night. 21 When the woman came to Saul and saw that he was greatly shaken, she said, “Look, your servant has obeyed you. I took my life in my hands and did what you told me to do. 22 Now please listen to your servant and let me give you some food so you may eat and have the strength to go on your way.” 23 He refused and said, “I will not eat.” But his men joined the woman in urging him, and he listened to them. He got up from the ground and sat on the couch. 24 The woman had a fattened calf at the house, which she butchered at once. She took some flour, kneaded it and baked bread without yeast. 25 Then she set it before Saul and his men, and they ate. That same night they got up and left.

It seems that Saul was a man who was prepared to compromise his decisions to suit himself. Clearly Saul was desperate. It makes me wonder if I would also compromise my standards if I felt desperate? I don’t understand why Saul didn’t turn to God after all that God had done already, but he didn’t. Perhaps his relationship with God was always only ever second hand thru Samuel. Without Samuel Saul was lost.  

I have always felt there is no benefit to knowing the future ahead of time. After his consultation with the medium Saul seems to feel the same – he had no peace of mind. For me the take home message here is this, my relationship with God needs to be mine, not managed by someone else, I need to hold to standards set by God, and that dabbling with the occult is never going to end well!

Father God help me to stay close to you. Forgive my sins so that I can be right with you. Help me to trust you with my future. In Jesus name I pray. Amen

Written by Christine Knight

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Wednesday 26 August, 2020

1 Samuel 27:1-28:2

27 But David thought to himself, “One of these days I will be destroyed by the hand of Saul. The best thing I can do is to escape to the land of the Philistines. Then Saul will give up searching for me anywhere in Israel, and I will slip out of his hand.” 2 So David and the six hundred men with him left and went over to Achish son of Maok king of Gath. 3 David and his men settled in Gath with Achish. Each man had his family with him, and David had his two wives: Ahinoam of Jezreel and Abigail of Carmel, the widow of Nabal. 4 When Saul was told that David had fled to Gath, he no longer searched for him. 5 Then David said to Achish, “If I have found favor in your eyes, let a place be assigned to me in one of the country towns, that I may live there. Why should your servant live in the royal city with you?” 6 So on that day Achish gave him Ziklag, and it has belonged to the kings of Judah ever since. 7 David lived in Philistine territory a year and four months. 8 Now David and his men went up and raided the Geshurites, the Girzites and the Amalekites. (From ancient times these peoples had lived in the land extending to Shur and Egypt.) 9 Whenever David attacked an area, he did not leave a man or woman alive, but took sheep and cattle, donkeys and camels, and clothes. Then he returned to Achish. 10 When Achish asked, “Where did you go raiding today?” David would say, “Against the Negev of Judah” or “Against the Negev of Jerahmeel” or “Against the Negev of the Kenites.” 11 He did not leave a man or woman alive to be brought to Gath, for he thought, “They might inform on us and say, ‘This is what David did.’” And such was his practice as long as he lived in Philistine territory. 12 Achish trusted David and said to himself, “He has become so obnoxious to his people, the Israelites, that he will be my servant for life.” 28 In those days the Philistines gathered their forces to fight against Israel. Achish said to David, “You must understand that you and your men will accompany me in the army.” 2 David said, “Then you will see for yourself what your servant can do.” Achish replied, “Very well, I will make you my bodyguard for life.”

This is not a great chapter in David’s life. On the run from Saul, hiding out with the enemy, raiding parties killing all the men and women (it was the Amalekites – enemies of Israel that God declared judgement on. See Exodus 17:14. But still…) taking the plunder, lying about his shenanigans and then becoming bodyguard to the enemy’s king. This doesn’t sound like Godly strategies for the future King of Israel – a man after God’s own heart.

I’m intrigued by the very first lines in this passage…

“David thought to himself…”

I wonder if this is where we come unstuck. Since when am I the authority on what’s best for my life? When are my thoughts a reliable source to guide my decisions? Don’t I have a Heavenly Father who loves me and has great plans for my life? (Jeremiah 29:11) Haven’t I been given the Holy Spirit who will guide me into all truth? (John 16:13) Haven’t I been given God’s word? Haven’t I been planted in a church family filled with wise and discerning people who can guide me?

The temptation is to be like David and be guided by my own thoughts but that’s not the first place I should go!

Lord, thank you for your amazing promise. “I will guide you always”. I will trust your promises over my own thoughts.

Amen

Written by Boudy van Noppen

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Tuesday 25 August, 2020

1 Samuel 26:1-25

26 The Ziphites went to Saul at Gibeah and said, “Is not David hiding on the hill of Hakilah, which faces Jeshimon?” 2 So Saul went down to the Desert of Ziph, with his three thousand select Israelite troops, to search there for David. 3 Saul made his camp beside the road on the hill of Hakilah facing Jeshimon, but David stayed in the wilderness. When he saw that Saul had followed him there, 4 he sent out scouts and learned that Saul had definitely arrived. 5 Then David set out and went to the place where Saul had camped. He saw where Saul and Abner son of Ner, the commander of the army, had lain down. Saul was lying inside the camp, with the army encamped around him. 6 David then asked Ahimelek the Hittite and Abishai son of Zeruiah, Joab’s brother, “Who will go down into the camp with me to Saul?” “I’ll go with you,” said Abishai. 7 So David and Abishai went to the army by night, and there was Saul, lying asleep inside the camp with his spear stuck in the ground near his head. Abner and the soldiers were lying around him. 8 Abishai said to David, “Today God has delivered your enemy into your hands. Now let me pin him to the ground with one thrust of the spear; I won’t strike him twice.” 9 But David said to Abishai, “Don’t destroy him! Who can lay a hand on the Lord’s anointed and be guiltless? 10 As surely as the Lord lives,” he said, “the Lord himself will strike him, or his time will come and he will die, or he will go into battle and perish. 11 But the Lord forbid that I should lay a hand on the Lord’s anointed. Now get the spear and water jug that are near his head, and let’s go.” 12 So David took the spear and water jug near Saul’s head, and they left. No one saw or knew about it, nor did anyone wake up. They were all sleeping, because the Lord had put them into a deep sleep. 13 Then David crossed over to the other side and stood on top of the hill some distance away; there was a wide space between them. 14 He called out to the army and to Abner son of Ner, “Aren’t you going to answer me, Abner?” Abner replied, “Who are you who calls to the king?” 15 David said, “You’re a man, aren’t you? And who is like you in Israel? Why didn’t you guard your lord the king? Someone came to destroy your lord the king. 16 What you have done is not good. As surely as the Lord lives, you and your men must die, because you did not guard your master, the Lord’s anointed. Look around you. Where are the king’s spear and water jug that were near his head?” 17 Saul recognized David’s voice and said, “Is that your voice, David my son?” David replied, “Yes it is, my lord the king.” 18 And he added, “Why is my lord pursuing his servant? What have I done, and what wrong am I guilty of? 19 Now let my lord the king listen to his servant’s words. If the Lord has incited you against me, then may he accept an offering. If, however, people have done it, may they be cursed before the Lord! They have driven me today from my share in the Lord’s inheritance and have said, ‘Go, serve other gods.’ 20 Now do not let my blood fall to the ground far from the presence of the Lord. The king of Israel has come out to look for a flea—as one hunts a partridge in the mountains.” 21 Then Saul said, “I have sinned. Come back, David my son. Because you considered my life precious today, I will not try to harm you again. Surely I have acted like a fool and have been terribly wrong.” 22 “Here is the king’s spear,” David answered. “Let one of your young men come over and get it. 23 The Lord rewards everyone for their righteousness and faithfulness. The Lord delivered you into my hands today, but I would not lay a hand on the Lord’s anointed. 24 As surely as I valued your life today, so may the Lord value my life and deliver me from all trouble.” 25 Then Saul said to David, “May you be blessed, David my son; you will do great things and surely triumph.” So David went on his way, and Saul returned home.

I have heard this passage of scripture used to teach the importance of honouring our leaders with the focus on the verse “the LORD forbid that I should lay a hand on the LORD’s anointed”. But as I read this narrative, I see it primarily as an excellent example of how to respond when we are wronged by anyone (not just our leaders). 

King Saul is consumed with jealousy towards David and has treated him appallingly. Saul’s jealousy is so intense that he has engaged his army to try and kill David, so David must flee for his life into the wilderness to hide. And now David and his off-sider Abishai find themselves with the perfect opportunity to end this madness and kill King Saul while he sleeps. But David refuses to exact revenge on Saul, trusting Saul’s fate into the hands of the Lord to bring justice in His time and in His way.

Personally I’ve never had an enemy who has tried to kill me, but I have had some people say and do some pretty nasty things to me over the years. And my natural desire is to want revenge and make them pay for the way that they treated me. My method of choice is to try and take that person down by letting everyone how badly they have treated me.

I must admit that I haven’t always succeeded in holding back the urge to take revenge in the form of bad-mouthing my enemies, but I am inspired by David in the way that he treats Saul. More specifically, I’m impressed by how David speaks about Saul with respect, even though we might think that Saul does not deserve it.

Which leads me to remember that none of us deserve the mercy and forgiveness that we have received from Jesus. How grateful I am that God has not given me what I deserve.  Lord help me, to extend Your grace to others who also don’t deserve it.

Written by Shelley Witt

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Monday 24 August, 2020

1 Samuel 25:1-44

25 Now Samuel died, and all Israel assembled and mourned for him; and they buried him at his home in Ramah. Then David moved down into the Desert of Paran. 2 A certain man in Maon, who had property there at Carmel, was very wealthy. He had a thousand goats and three thousand sheep, which he was shearing in Carmel. 3 His name was Nabal and his wife’s name was Abigail. She was an intelligent and beautiful woman, but her husband was surly and mean in his dealings—he was a Calebite. 4 While David was in the wilderness, he heard that Nabal was shearing sheep. 5 So he sent ten young men and said to them, “Go up to Nabal at Carmel and greet him in my name. 6 Say to him: ‘Long life to you! Good health to you and your household! And good health to all that is yours! 7 “‘Now I hear that it is sheep-shearing time. When your shepherds were with us, we did not mistreat them, and the whole time they were at Carmel nothing of theirs was missing. 8 Ask your own servants and they will tell you. Therefore be favorable toward my men, since we come at a festive time. Please give your servants and your son David whatever you can find for them.’” 9 When David’s men arrived, they gave Nabal this message in David’s name. Then they waited. 10 Nabal answered David’s servants, “Who is this David? Who is this son of Jesse? Many servants are breaking away from their masters these days. 11 Why should I take my bread and water, and the meat I have slaughtered for my shearers, and give it to men coming from who knows where?” 12 David’s men turned around and went back. When they arrived, they reported every word. 13 David said to his men, “Each of you strap on your sword!” So they did, and David strapped his on as well. About four hundred men went up with David, while two hundred stayed with the supplies. 14 One of the servants told Abigail, Nabal’s wife, “David sent messengers from the wilderness to give our master his greetings, but he hurled insults at them. 15 Yet these men were very good to us. They did not mistreat us, and the whole time we were out in the fields near them nothing was missing. 16 Night and day they were a wall around us the whole time we were herding our sheep near them. 17 Now think it over and see what you can do, because disaster is hanging over our master and his whole household. He is such a wicked man that no one can talk to him.” 18 Abigail acted quickly. She took two hundred loaves of bread, two skins of wine, five dressed sheep, five seahs of roasted grain, a hundred cakes of raisins and two hundred cakes of pressed figs, and loaded them on donkeys. 19 Then she told her servants, “Go on ahead; I’ll follow you.” But she did not tell her husband Nabal. 20 As she came riding her donkey into a mountain ravine, there were David and his men descending toward her, and she met them. 21 David had just said, “It’s been useless—all my watching over this fellow’s property in the wilderness so that nothing of his was missing. He has paid me back evil for good. 22 May God deal with David, be it ever so severely, if by morning I leave alive one male of all who belong to him!” 23 When Abigail saw David, she quickly got off her donkey and bowed down before David with her face to the ground. 24 She fell at his feet and said: “Pardon your servant, my lord, and let me speak to you; hear what your servant has to say. 25 Please pay no attention, my lord, to that wicked man Nabal. He is just like his name—his name means Fool, and folly goes with him. And as for me, your servant, I did not see the men my lord sent. 26 And now, my lord, as surely as the Lord your God lives and as you live, since the Lord has kept you from bloodshed and from avenging yourself with your own hands, may your enemies and all who are intent on harming my lord be like Nabal. 27 And let this gift, which your servant has brought to my lord, be given to the men who follow you. 28 “Please forgive your servant’s presumption. The Lord your God will certainly make a lasting dynasty for my lord, because you fight the Lord’s battles, and no wrongdoing will be found in you as long as you live. 29 Even though someone is pursuing you to take your life, the life of my lord will be bound securely in the bundle of the living by the Lord your God, but the lives of your enemies he will hurl away as from the pocket of a sling. 30 When the Lord has fulfilled for my lord every good thing he promised concerning him and has appointed him ruler over Israel, 31 my lord will not have on his conscience the staggering burden of needless bloodshed or of having avenged himself. And when the Lord your God has brought my lord success, remember your servant.” 32 David said to Abigail, “Praise be to the Lord, the God of Israel, who has sent you today to meet me. 33 May you be blessed for your good judgment and for keeping me from bloodshed this day and from avenging myself with my own hands. 34 Otherwise, as surely as the Lord, the God of Israel, lives, who has kept me from harming you, if you had not come quickly to meet me, not one male belonging to Nabal would have been left alive by daybreak.” 35 Then David accepted from her hand what she had brought him and said, “Go home in peace. I have heard your words and granted your request.” 36 When Abigail went to Nabal, he was in the house holding a banquet like that of a king. He was in high spirits and very drunk. So she told him nothing at all until daybreak. 37 Then in the morning, when Nabal was sober, his wife told him all these things, and his heart failed him and he became like a stone. 38 About ten days later, the Lord struck Nabal and he died. 39 When David heard that Nabal was dead, he said, “Praise be to the Lord, who has upheld my cause against Nabal for treating me with contempt. He has kept his servant from doing wrong and has brought Nabal’s wrongdoing down on his own head.” Then David sent word to Abigail, asking her to become his wife. 40 His servants went to Carmel and said to Abigail, “David has sent us to you to take you to become his wife.” 41 She bowed down with her face to the ground and said, “I am your servant and am ready to serve you and wash the feet of my lord’s servants.” 42 Abigail quickly got on a donkey and, attended by her five female servants, went with David’s messengers and became his wife. 43 David had also married Ahinoam of Jezreel, and they both were his wives. 44 But Saul had given his daughter Michal, David’s wife, to Paltiel son of Laish, who was from Gallim.

This is a story of human interaction and the consequences thereof.  A cantankerous fellow, a sweet spirited wife and the difference in their approaches to the same situation.  Seeing these reactions I wonder how I would have felt, how would I respond.  Seeing the responses of David and his men is also insightful.

So clear is the fact that dealing with others with a sweet spirit brings about a better result that it amazes me just how I could think differently – yet all too often I am in a situation where I take a position that doesn’t give life and hope, I entrench my position justify and defend myself and inevitably don’t do as well as I could have if I had stopped and thought a little deeper and looked a little broader than to my own position.

Father help me to keep my eyes off myself and on others.  I know You have my back and I do not need to worry.

Written by Ps. Richard Botta

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Sunday 23 August, 2020

1 Samuel 24:1-22

24 After Saul returned from pursuing the Philistines, he was told, “David is in the Desert of En Gedi.” 2 So Saul took three thousand able young men from all Israel and set out to look for David and his men near the Crags of the Wild Goats. 3 He came to the sheep pens along the way; a cave was there, and Saul went in to relieve himself. David and his men were far back in the cave. 4 The men said, “This is the day the Lord spoke of when he said to you, ‘I will give your enemy into your hands for you to deal with as you wish.’” Then David crept up unnoticed and cut off a corner of Saul’s robe. 5 Afterward, David was conscience-stricken for having cut off a corner of his robe. 6 He said to his men, “The Lord forbid that I should do such a thing to my master, the Lord’s anointed, or lay my hand on him; for he is the anointed of the Lord.” 7 With these words David sharply rebuked his men and did not allow them to attack Saul. And Saul left the cave and went his way. 8 Then David went out of the cave and called out to Saul, “My lord the king!” When Saul looked behind him, David bowed down and prostrated himself with his face to the ground. 9 He said to Saul, “Why do you listen when men say, ‘David is bent on harming you’? 10 This day you have seen with your own eyes how the Lord delivered you into my hands in the cave. Some urged me to kill you, but I spared you; I said, ‘I will not lay my hand on my lord, because he is the Lord’s anointed.’ 11 See, my father, look at this piece of your robe in my hand! I cut off the corner of your robe but did not kill you. See that there is nothing in my hand to indicate that I am guilty of wrongdoing or rebellion. I have not wronged you, but you are hunting me down to take my life. 12 May the Lord judge between you and me. And may the Lord avenge the wrongs you have done to me, but my hand will not touch you. 13 As the old saying goes, ‘From evildoers come evil deeds,’ so my hand will not touch you. 14 “Against whom has the king of Israel come out? Who are you pursuing? A dead dog? A flea? 15 May the Lord be our judge and decide between us. May he consider my cause and uphold it; may he vindicate me by delivering me from your hand.” 16 When David finished saying this, Saul asked, “Is that your voice, David my son?” And he wept aloud. 17 “You are more righteous than I,” he said. “You have treated me well, but I have treated you badly. 18 You have just now told me about the good you did to me; the Lord delivered me into your hands, but you did not kill me. 19 When a man finds his enemy, does he let him get away unharmed? May the Lord reward you well for the way you treated me today. 20 I know that you will surely be king and that the kingdom of Israel will be established in your hands. 21 Now swear to me by the Lord that you will not kill off my descendants or wipe out my name from my father’s family.” 22 So David gave his oath to Saul. Then Saul returned home, but David and his men went up to the stronghold.

This passage in 1 Samuel 24 must be one of my favourite sections of narrative in scripture. It has all the elements of a brilliant story: 2 enemies playing cat and mouse in the wilderness… but the hunter becomes the hunted, in a comedic moment while the hunter is relieving himself!

What I really love about this passage though, is that within the brilliant narrative is a clever set of lessons about what it is to follow God.

Saul genuinely wanted to kill David, but David practiced radical forgiveness. He showed us what it really means to love our enemy. I can’t really even imagine what it would have been like for David, to have someone out to kill you for years on end, but the power of the biblical narrative here is palpable. God gives us the example through scripture of what it is to live a life inspired by the radical forgiveness He calls us to live up to.

Lord, help me to be radically forgiving as I strive to be a man after Your own heart

Written by Ps Justin Ware

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Saturday 22 August, 2020

1 Samuel 23:15-29

15 While David was at Horesh in the Desert of Ziph, he learned that Saul had come out to take his life. 16 And Saul’s son Jonathan went to David at Horesh and helped him find strength in God. 17 “Don’t be afraid,” he said. “My father Saul will not lay a hand on you. You will be king over Israel, and I will be second to you. Even my father Saul knows this.” 18 The two of them made a covenant before the Lord. Then Jonathan went home, but David remained at Horesh. 19 The Ziphites went up to Saul at Gibeah and said, “Is not David hiding among us in the strongholds at Horesh, on the hill of Hakilah, south of Jeshimon? 20 Now, Your Majesty, come down whenever it pleases you to do so, and we will be responsible for giving him into your hands.” 21 Saul replied, “The Lord bless you for your concern for me. 22 Go and get more information. Find out where David usually goes and who has seen him there. They tell me he is very crafty. 23 Find out about all the hiding places he uses and come back to me with definite information. Then I will go with you; if he is in the area, I will track him down among all the clans of Judah.” 24 So they set out and went to Ziph ahead of Saul. Now David and his men were in the Desert of Maon, in the Arabah south of Jeshimon. 25 Saul and his men began the search, and when David was told about it, he went down to the rock and stayed in the Desert of Maon. When Saul heard this, he went into the Desert of Maon in pursuit of David. 26 Saul was going along one side of the mountain, and David and his men were on the other side, hurrying to get away from Saul. As Saul and his forces were closing in on David and his men to capture them, 27 a messenger came to Saul, saying, “Come quickly! The Philistines are raiding the land.” 28 Then Saul broke off his pursuit of David and went to meet the Philistines. That is why they call this place Sela Hammahlekoth. 29 And David went up from there and lived in the strongholds of En Gedi.

David is still fighting for Israel while trying to keep enough distance from King Saul who is continuing to seek his life. I find it interesting that Jonathan, Saul’s son, knew exactly how to find David whereas his father was still searching.

Jonathan’s allegiance is obvious. He has accepted God’s choice of David over his father as the future king. The kingship will not be passed to him. Now he goes specifically and helps David find strength in God, sealing his support in an agreement/covenant.   

Recently I had 2 friends, almost the same day, let me know they were thinking of me and prayed for me as I’d come to mind. They didn’t know I needed it. They definitely strengthened me, by letting me know that God put me on their hearts.  Reflecting on this, I realise how important it is to have friends around us that can strengthen us in God, like Jonathan did with David, reminding him of God’s promise. Whether that is in person, a phone call, text or even a handwritten note, knowing that God is with me through the actions of a friend is invaluable, especially in this current season. That day, their contact changed my thoughts, encouraged my spirit and gave me a different perspective and resolve. It comforted me.  We all need friends who will walk with us and strengthen us in God.  We, in turn, can be a friend to strengthen another.  Is there someone you can strengthen in God today?

Lord thank you for the friends you place around us to strengthen us in our walk and life with you, your representative to us.  May we all be attuned to your Spirit to know who is on your heart today.  

Written by Suzie Hodgson

1 (reply)
  1. Sue says:

    How amazing to have friends and that Jesus calls us His friend. (John 15v15)
    How comforting that We are never without a friend.

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