Wednesday, 16 April 2014

(107) April 17: 1 Samuel 19-21 & Luke 15:11-32

Ask God to open your mind, heart and will to understand, delight in and obey what you read.

To discover:­­
As you read consider the traits that show Saul unfit to rule.

To ponder:
Danger intensifies for David, whilst Saul’s erratic behaviour shows he is unfit to rule. He tells his son and attendants to kill David. But Jonathan warns David, urging him into hiding whilst he intercedes with his father. Jonathan’s case to Saul stresses the “wrong” in killing David, because he is innocent. On oath Saul promises not to harm David, so David is with him once more. When war breaks out with the Philistines again however, an “evil spirit from the LORD” again comes upon Saul, so he tries to pin David to the wall with his spear, and then sends men to kill him. But David’s wife (Saul’s daughter) Michal enables him to escape and fakes his being ill in bed. It is no surprise David then went to Samuel. And when Saul’s men and Saul himself tried to reach him, they were hindered by the Spirit of the LORD, who made them prophesy. In reading that Saul “stripped off” and “lay” prophesying for 24 hours, the sense is that these men were in some way incapacitated through being caught up in the Spirit, perhaps in an ecstatic trance-like state.
            In some sense then, the LORD lay behind both Saul’s hostility to David and David’s protection from Saul. There is mystery here, and Saul is certainly responsible for his actions. But it all shows God is also at work in these events.
            Again Jonathan seeks to protect David. No doubt for the sake of future descendents (20v42), space is given to record how Jonathan gains David’s formal agreement by covenant to show “unfailing kindness like that of the LORD” to him and his family, even when the LORD has “cut off” all David’s enemies. So Jonathan clearly sees David is God’s choice as king. Yet there is more here. Throughout Jonathan and David’s love for one-another is stressed. This is a remarkable friendship that should be a model for our own, and especially for the love that should exist between God’s people. But as mentioned previously, it particularly models the devotion that should be expressed to God’s anointed. And it is so intense, that Jonathan is prepared to give him his allegiance over his father, and above concern for his own succession to the throne. Likewise, no matter how our family members might view it, and no matter what other implications it has for our future, career or rule of our own lives, we are to give Christ not only our allegiance, but our love.
            Saul’s paranoid anger flares up again on hearing David is not coming to the New Moon festival. He accuses Jonathan of siding with David and even throws his spear at him. Jonathan therefore tells David to flee through their agreed means.
            David’s desperation is seen in the fact that he is now alone and unarmed as he visits the priest in Nob. Rightly or wrongly, this causes David to lie as to why he is there, take the consecrated “bread of the presence” that had recently been replaced in the holy place, and take Goliath’s sword too. The loaves should have been eaten by the priests. In rebuking Pharisaic legalism by referring to David eating them (Matt 12v4), Jesus therefore teaches that showing mercy to the needy takes precedence over non-moral laws or requirements.
            The greatest shock, however, is that Saul ends up driving David away from the people of Israel and to a Philistine king, who he also deceives by feigning insanity to ensure his own safety! This is surely David’s lowest point. Like Christ having to escape to Egypt from Herod (Matt 2v13), God uses a means to protect his special king that only highlights how serious his rejection by his own people is.
Praying it home:
Thank God that he governs even the most desperate circumstances. Pray today for David-Jonathan type love between believers.

Thinking further: Abstaining from sex
In Exodus 19v15 the people had to abstain from sex before hearing God speak the Ten Commandments. This was not because sex was wrong, but stressed the people’s devotion to God, and perhaps that nothing unfitting or implicated in the fall should be in God’s holy presence. It would seem for this reason that Ahimelech would only give consecrated bread that had been in the room next to the holy of holies to men who had “kept themselves from women.” The aspect of devotion to God may also be why David required his men not to be with women when on missions.

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