Thursday, 17 April 2014

(108) April 18: 1 Samuel 22-24 & Luke 16:1-18

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

To discover:­­
As you read consider how David’s actions contrast those of Saul.

To ponder:
David now escapes the Philistines to a cave in Judah. His family join him, and once more he looks to a foreign king, probably to give them protection from Saul. (Mizpah here is in Moab, so different from the Israelite city of that name). We see a group of needy people form around David too, no doubt hoping for something better with him. More significant is the prophet, Gad, who brings God’s instruction that David go into Judah.
David even gains his own priest. Paranoid about losing his men, Saul accuses his Benjamite officials of conspiring against him. Doeg the Edomite, who was present when David was in Nob, then takes his opportunity to ingratiate himself with Saul by recounting what happened there. Apparently in some bewilderment, Ahimelech asks why he shouldn’t have acted for David, Saul’s loyal son-in-law. But Saul commands his guards to kill Ahimelech and his family. To kill priests is serious indeed, so they refuse. But Doeg murders 85 of them and everyone else in their town. This is one of Saul’s most wicked acts. But it is foolish too, ridding him of a priesthood he could consult. And consider the contrast. Saul shows no concern for the priests, whereas David wants to take responsibility for their death and shelters the one who survives - Abiathar.
When the Philistines attack again, David is therefore able to “enquire of the LORD” via the Urim and Thummim contained in the ephod Abiathar bought with him. He learns that God would give the Philistines into his hand so he could deliver the town of Keilah, and then that the inhabitants would in turn hand him over to Saul. So David keeps moving, Saul keeps searching for him, and God does not “give him into” Saul’s hands.
Jonathan then comes and helps his friend find strength in God. By contrast the people of Ziph tell Saul David is hiding amongst them, and obey his instructions to find him. The tension mounts as Saul closes in on David, and we can see only the LORD’s hand in the fact that at the critical moment Saul is called away to fight Philistines. The lesson throughout is that God will not allow his purposes to be thwarted, just as he kept Christ safe until his chosen “hour” to die. We also see the sort of division Christ would bring within Israel, as he does even in families.
After this Saul chases David into the En Gedi, and goes to relieve himself in the very cave David and his men are hiding in. So God gives Saul into David’s hands (24v10). But David refuses to see this as validating violence against Saul, rejecting the urging of his men to kill him. Instead, he cuts a corner off Saul’s robe, and is even conscience stricken over this because Saul is God’s anointed. Again, this contrasts Saul’s attitude, displays David’s godliness, and reminds us that opportunity never sanctions doing wrong. It also affirms the far greater reverence with which we should treat Christ, and the respect we should have for all who reign with him.
David shows himself to Saul, bows low in respect, and tells what he has done as proof he is “not guilty of wrongdoing or rebellion,” twice appealing to God to judge between them. This displays astonishing faith, grace and Christ-likeness. David commits the injustice done him and the timing of his becoming king to God, and so is able to do good to his enemy. By this means, we are called to also (Rom 12v17-21).
The point of these chapters is to show David’s suitability as king. 24v16-27 is a fitting conclusion: Displaying his fickle nature, Saul declares that David is “more righteous,” and prays that the LORD “reward” David for how he treated Saul. He himself then acknowledges that David will be king, gaining the oath David had already given Jonathan, to protect his descendents.

Praying it home:
Praise God that nothing, even what is most evil, can thwart his purposes in Christ. Pray that you would be able to entrust injustice and the outcome of hostile situations to God, and so respond with grace to any who frustrate or oppose you.

Thinking further:
None today.

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