Sunday, 20 April 2014

(111) April 21: 1 Samuel 30-31 & Luke 17:20-37

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

To discover:­­
As you read note how David is proved able to lead Israel.

To ponder:
Returning to Ziklag David finds the Amalekites have burned it, taking the families of him and his men captive. Their grief is understandable. However, the men consider stoning David, probably because they blamed him for taking them away. It’s a hint at how readily people can blame and turn from Christ when their allegiance means hardship.
            Like Christ in Gethsemane, David found strength in God. This is how one copes with grief and suffering. Where Saul had been unable to gain a word from the LORD (see 28v6), David then consults God and is told to pursue the Amalekites with the certainty that he will be able to rescue the people. So God is with David. Only 400 of the 600 men actually do battle however, as 200 hold back from exhaustion. Treating a wandering Egyptian kindly, the 400 find out he is an abandoned slave. He gains a commitment from David not to kill him and then leads him to the Amalekite camp. After a long battle David is victorious, although 400 Amalekites escape on camels, which David’s men were not equipped to chase. It is stressed that “nothing” that had been taken was missing. David recovered it all, and took the Amalekite livestock as plunder too.
In this victory David therefore proves himself able to fully deliver God’s people, and so hope builds that he might deliver the wider nation from her oppression by the Philistines. This hope builds further when David shares the plunder with the friendly elders of the Judean towns where he had been. He is acting for the nation at large. He also proves himself one who can do this because he relies on God and acts justly, rejecting his men’s request not to share the plunder with those who were too exhausted to fight because their victory was only because the LORD “protected” them and “handed” their enemies over to them. This breeds thankfulness for Christ’s sufficiency as deliverer and the righteousness of his rule. Indeed, he grants all his people an equal share of the eternal inheritance like the landowner who pays those who work all day the same as those who work just the last hour (Matt 20v1-16). Those converted later in life and those less able will not miss out.
            Once more David contrasts Saul. Where the former is victorious the latter is now defeated. Fulfilling God’s word through Samuel (28v18-19), the Philistines kill Saul’s sons and wound him critically. His armour bearer did right by refusing Saul’s command to finish him off, as this would be to act against the LORD’s anointed. So to stop the Philistines from abusing him (as they did Samson), Saul kills himself, and seeing this, the Israelites flee. All seems lost as we read the Philistines “occupied” the Israelite towns, decapitate Saul, proclaim their victory and display his armour in the temples of their false gods. They assumed this victory was because their gods were supreme. But we know better. We know God may well restore the kingdom through the able and righteous king he already has in the wings. Indeed, as “valiant men” steal the bodies of Saul and his sons from under the Philistine’s noses, we see there are those David can use if he can gain their allegiance.
            These final episodes would have given huge encouragement to the people of the southern kingdom of Judah hundreds of years after David, when they lost their land to the Babylonians and many were exiled from the country. They too wept over what had happened, and would have been told by the Babylonians it was due to the supremacy of their gods. But here too, it was actually due to the sin of God’s people and their kings. And to see the kingdom restored, the people needed to look again to the LORD, to provide the Christ, the son of David, to rescue and restore them - just as he did.

Praying it home:
Praise God for the sufficiency and righteousness of Christ. Pray for those you know that are suffering, that they would stick with him in hardship looking to the deliverance and inheritance he gives all who follow him.

Thinking further:
None today.

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