Courage

shutterstock_282955202.jpg1 Samuel 30:18-19;21-24

18 David recovered all that the Amalekites had taken, and David rescued his two wives. 19 Nothing was missing, whether small or great, sons or daughters, spoil or anything that had been taken. David brought back all… 

21 Then David came to the two hundred men who had been too exhausted to follow David, and who had been left at the brook Besor. And they went out to meet David and to meet the people who were with him. And when David came near to the people he greeted them. 22 Then all the wicked and worthless fellows among the men who had gone with David said, “Because they did not go with us, we will not give them any of the spoil that we have recovered, except that each man may lead away his wife and children, and depart.” 23 But David said, “You shall not do so, my brothers, with what the Lord has given us. He has preserved us and given into our hand the band that came against us. 24 Who would listen to you in this matter? For as his share is who goes down into the battle, so shall his share be who stays by the baggage. They shall share alike.” 


Like something out of a modern day vengeance themed movie, this passage is ripe with action and intensity.  David and his men arrive in time to see their wives, families and belongings seized by the enemy.  Earlier in this chapter, it tells us that David and his men wept until they literally had no strength left.  Can you imagine this?  Picture the scene.  Despair, anger, fear, loss, grief and pain.

In today’s passage, we see David, as he became known for, taking action.  The Amalekites were celebrating their supposed victory and successful pillaging, having no idea that David and his group of a few hundred were just over the way.
As we see, David and his men were victorious, but that is not what stands out the most in this passage.  It is a story worthy of Hollywood Blockbuster status, but what leaves the highest mark in the text is the courage of David to risk all for the sake of others.  Think about it, David could have simply led a quest to retrieve his family and his belongings.
True courage always has an impact on more than just ourselves.  Even David, upon a successful rescue, returned and gladly gave to all in the camp, even those who did not necessarily “contribute” to the most recent mission.
Why?  Because courage comes through when we think beyond ourselves.
God gives courage  1) to honor Him and 2) to bless others.  Honoring God with your courage means we give, serve and share in ways we never thought we could.  It draws us closer to God.  Blessing others means that our courage is meant for more than ourselves.
What can you do today that will show courage to honor God and bless others?  Reconcile a relationship, restore a union, admit a wrong, tell that friend or co-worker about what God is doing in your life, give sacrificially to a cause greater than your own?
God, may we all pursue wisdom and courage on our journey.  Give us today the wisdom to know the right thing to do and the courage to do it.  Remind us of why you give us opportunities to show courage and give us the strength to follow through.

Blessed Are The Peacemakers

shutterstock_310779284.jpg1 Samuel 25:32-38

32 And David said to Abigail, “Blessed be the Lord, the God of Israel, who sent you this day to meet me! 33 Blessed be your discretion, and blessed be you, who have kept me this day from bloodguilt and from working salvation with my own hand! 34 For as surely as the Lord, the God of Israel, lives, who has restrained me from hurting you, unless you had hurried and come to meet me, truly by morning there had not been left to Nabal so much as one male.” 35 Then David received from her hand what she had brought him. And he said to her, “Go up in peace to your house. See, I have obeyed your voice, and I have granted your petition.”

36 And Abigail came to Nabal, and behold, he was holding a feast in his house, like the feast of a king. And Nabal’s heart was merry within him, for he was very drunk. So she told him nothing at all until the morning light. 37 In the morning, when the wine had gone out of Nabal, his wife told him these things, and his heart died within him, and he became as a stone. 38 And about ten days later the Lord struck Nabal, and he died.


Abigail is described in verse 3 of chapter 25 as “intelligent and beautiful” and her husband Nabal is said to be “surly and mean in his dealings”. To summarize what has happened prior to the above passage, David sent some men to Nabal to ask for some food, and Nabal rudely refused them. This stirred David’s temper, which led him to gather up 400 of his men to pick up their swords so they could go and give Nabal and his household what they had coming to them. When Abigail hears of how her husband treated David’s men, she meets David and his crew with all they had previously asked for, and more. She is able to bring peace, restoration, and wisdom to a situation that was a doomed one from the outset.

David is a mighty and wise leader, and is a man after God’s own heart. This doesn’t mean that he’s perfect and immune from making heinous mistakes. But when David’s pride is puffed up, as a man of God, he is able to heed wise counsel and admit when he has made a mistake. Both Abigail and David reflect the beatitude that Christ spoke of in Matthew 5:9 when he said “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.” It’s one thing for someone to bring peace and wisdom to a volatile situation, but true peace is achieved when the parties at fault accept their wrong doing, their selfish motives, apologize, and continue to grow as sons and daughters of God.

Is there a situation in your life that requires peace? Are you Abigail- an innocent bystander, who can bring peace and wisdom to a situation? Or are you David, or even Nabal? Pray that God would give you wisdom to know the right thing to do, the right words to say, the right timing to act, and the courage to obey.

H.A.L.T.

shutterstock_101913787.jpg1 Samuel 25:2-13

And there was a man in Maon whose business was in Carmel. The man was very rich; he had three thousand sheep and a thousand goats. He was shearing his sheep in Carmel.Now the name of the man was Nabal, and the name of his wife Abigail. The woman was discerning and beautiful, but the man was harsh and badly behaved; he was a Calebite. David heard in the wilderness that Nabal was shearing his sheep. So David sent ten young men. And David said to the young men, “Go up to Carmel, and go to Nabal and greet him in my name. And thus you shall greet him: ‘Peace be to you, and peace be to your house, and peace be to all that you have. I hear that you have shearers. Now your shepherds have been with us, and we did them no harm, and they missed nothing all the time they were in Carmel.Ask your young men, and they will tell you. Therefore let my young men find favor in your eyes, for we come on a feast day. Please give whatever you have at hand to your servants and to your son David.’”

When David’s young men came, they said all this to Nabal in the name of David, and then they waited. 10 And Nabal answered David’s servants, “Who is David? Who is the son of Jesse? There are many servants these days who are breaking away from their masters. 11 Shall I take my bread and my water and my meat that I have killed for my shearers and give it to men who come from I do not know where?” 12 So David’s young men turned away and came back and told him all this. 13 And David said to his men, “Every man strap on his sword!” And every man of them strapped on his sword. David also strapped on his sword. And about four hundred men went up after David, while two hundred remained with the baggage.


Have you ever done something that you later regretted?

What were the circumstances prior to your regrettable action?

David is about to murder Nabal and his entire household because he refused to share his lamb kabobs.

David would later acknowledge that what he was about to do was regrettable (we’ll see that in tomorrow’s devotional).  So what were the circumstances leading to David’s lapse in judgment?

H.A.L.T.

As we look at the context of David’s story we see the 4 major warning signs of indiscretion that make up the acronym “HALT”.  Hungry. Angry. Lonely. Tired.  Hungry (David and his men were seeking good food to celebrate the feast… which means they lacked good food).  Angry (Nabal!).  Lonely (David’s friend, Samuel, had just passed away and David was an outcast from his people).  Tired (David and his men had been running from Saul and battling throughout the land).

Odds are, your past regrettable decisions were preceded by one or more of these triggers.

If you find yourself experiencing any of these triggers your response should be to “halt”.  Stop and think.  Don’t react emotionally and do whatever you feel in the moment because odds are you’ll just later regret it.  Stop, think, and ask, “What is the wise thing to do?”  It is also wise to seek advice from godly others.

God, help me to do the wise thing when temptations to react regrettably come my way.  Help me to seek wise counsel and to honor you with my decisions.  Amen.

What Do You Do With Power?

shutterstock_370508654.jpg1 Samuel 24:1-7

When Saul returned from following the Philistines, he was told, “Behold, David is in the wilderness of Engedi.” Then Saul took three thousand chosen men out of all Israel and went to seek David and his men in front of the Wildgoats’ Rocks. And he came to the sheepfolds by the way, where there was a cave, and Saul went in to relieve himself. Now David and his men were sitting in the innermost parts of the cave. And the men of David said to him, “Here is the day of which the Lord said to you, ‘Behold, I will give your enemy into your hand, and you shall do to him as it shall seem good to you.’” Then David arose and stealthily cut off a corner of Saul’s robe. And afterward David’s heart struck him, because he had cut off a corner of Saul’s robe. He said to his men, “The Lord forbid that I should do this thing to my lord, the Lord‘s anointed, to put out my hand against him, seeing he is the Lord‘s anointed.” So David persuaded his men with these words and did not permit them to attack Saul. And Saul rose up and left the cave and went on his way.


At some point in your life, there is a very good chance that you will have influence over another person or a group of people. It may be as a parent, sibling, employer, or your area of service as a leader or volunteer at Church. Anytime you have been put in charge, you have a certain amount of power, or influence. What do you do with that power? How you answer that question will, in some ways, determine the legacy of your leadership.

When David recognized he had power in this passage, he used it for the safety of Saul. He leveraged his power to ultimately preserve Saul’s life. Often, we can let our emotions and feelings direct our influence rather than our convictions and beliefs. Despite Saul’s attempts at killing David; David chooses the high road. Maturity is not how you act on your best day, but it is how you react on your worst day.

When Jesus was the most powerful person in the room, on the night before he was to be crucified, he leveraged his power to wash His disciples feet. He recognized power and influence is most effective when we are able to use it for others. He didn’t leverage His power for personal gain; He used it for you and I.

Think of the influence and power God has given you through your skills and gifts. How are you leveraging your impact? Is it for personal gain or is it to serve others?
When people look to you today for anything, serve them!

Thank God for inviting you to serve, and use your gifts for others. Through the Holy Spirit, ask that your family, Church, neighborhood, and work environment be better through your influence.

Whose Kingdom?

shutterstock_325599521.jpg1 Samuel 23:13-18

13 Then David and his men, who were about six hundred, arose and departed from Keilah, and they went wherever they could go. When Saul was told that David had escaped from Keilah, he gave up the expedition. 14 And David remained in the strongholds in the wilderness, in the hill country of the wilderness of Ziph. And Saul sought him every day, but God did not give him into his hand.

15 David saw that Saul had come out to seek his life. David was in the wilderness of Ziph at Horesh. 16 And Jonathan, Saul’s son, rose and went to David at Horesh, and strengthened his hand in God. 17 And he said to him, “Do not fear, for the hand of Saul my father shall not find you. You shall be king over Israel, and I shall be next to you. Saul my father also knows this.” 18 And the two of them made a covenant before the Lord. David remained at Horesh, and Jonathan went home.


Would you be willing to give up everything to see God’s plans succeed?  As Saul’s firstborn son Jonathan was first in line to be the king of Israel.  Talk about an inheritance!  Yet Jonathan does something that his father could never do.  He sets aside his “rights” for the sake of David and God’s mission for Israel.  He considered others before himself.

Meanwhile, Saul was stuck in a cycle of murderous rage to end David’s life and to put a stop to God’s promise (through Samuel) that Saul’s kingdom would be taken from him and placed under another king.

Do you believe that God has made His mission clear today?

At Sun Valley we believe that God is on a mission to help people meet, know, and follow Jesus.  This is the season we are in right now.  At some point, this season will come to an end, we will die or Christ will return.  Either way, between now and then is our opportunity to join God on His mission.

Knowing where God has promised that history is headed do you find yourself reacting more like Saul or more like Jonathan?  Do you look to protect what really isn’t even yours to begin with or are you willing to give up everything to see God’s plans succeed?

Father, would you give me the heart of Jonathan!  Would you help me to put Your purposes above my preferences!  May it begin today, this very moment, that I would die to my selfish desires so that I may live wholly for You.  Amen.

 

Ragtag Crew

shutterstock_374738086.jpg1 Samuel 22:1-5

David departed from there and escaped to the cave of Adullam. And when his brothers and all his father’s house heard it, they went down there to him.And everyone who was in distress, and everyone who was in debt, and everyone who was bitter in soul, gathered to him. And he became commander over them. And there were with him about four hundred men.

And David went from there to Mizpeh of Moab. And he said to the king of Moab, “Please let my father and my mother stay with you, till I know what God will do for me.” And he left them with the king of Moab, and they stayed with him all the time that David was in the stronghold. Then the prophet Gad said to David, “Do not remain in the stronghold; depart, and go into the land of Judah.” So David departed and went into the forest of Hereth.


David has gone from hero to zero in the last few chapters we’ve been reading. He was a mighty warrior and a favorite of the king’s, to a wanted man on the run. In today’s passage, David is hiding in a cave. Not the most glorious or glamorous place for a brave young man who is one day supposed to be king. But he isn’t alone in this cave – he is surrounded by his parents, and brothers, and people who are in distress, debt, and just down and out. He may not be king over all of Israel at this moment, but he is the commander of this ragtag crew.

What does it say about David, that he has attracted all of these lowlifes of society? Despite the fact that he has won many great battles – is he actually just a loser himself? Or could it be that there is something so special about David, something so familiar, and kind, and inviting, that people of all walks of life can’t help but want to be around him. And not just around him, but led by him.

Jesus was also often surrounded by the losers of society. The sick, the outcast, the hurt, the poor. They found Jesus to be a kind, powerful, wise, and gracious leader. Besides the Pharisees, everyone loved Jesus and would do whatever they could to be near him. Here in this passage, David is a vision of another great leader who is to come.

Are you in a position of leadership? Are people just pandering to you because they are afraid of you? Or do your followers love you, respect you, and feel safe and cared for by you?

Pray that God would help you to be an effective, kind, compassionate, and wise leader, whether you lead one other person or one hundred.

Working For a Madman

shutterstock_262833041.jpg1 Samuel 19:1-10

And Saul spoke to Jonathan his son and to all his servants, that they should kill David. But Jonathan, Saul’s son, delighted much in David. And Jonathan told David, “Saul my father seeks to kill you. Therefore be on your guard in the morning. Stay in a secret place and hide yourself. And I will go out and stand beside my father in the field where you are, and I will speak to my father about you. And if I learn anything I will tell you.” And Jonathan spoke well of David to Saul his father and said to him, “Let not the king sin against his servant David, because he has not sinned against you, and because his deeds have brought good to you. For he took his life in his hand and he struck down the Philistine, and the Lord worked a great salvation for all Israel. You saw it, and rejoiced. Why then will you sin against innocent blood by killing David without cause?” And Saul listened to the voice of Jonathan. Saul swore, “As the Lord lives, he shall not be put to death.” And Jonathan called David, and Jonathan reported to him all these things. And Jonathan brought David to Saul, and he was in his presence as before.

And there was war again. And David went out and fought with the Philistines and struck them with a great blow, so that they fled before him. Then a harmful spirit from the Lord came upon Saul, as he sat in his house with his spear in his hand. And David was playing the lyre. 10 And Saul sought to pin David to the wall with the spear, but he eluded Saul, so that he struck the spear into the wall. And David fled and escaped that night.


Have you had any spears thrown at you lately? Oh, they may not be real, physical spears being thrown by a mad king, but what you may be feeling is just as painful. Whether it is a sharp ridicule, accusations by a coworker or betrayal by a friend. David experienced all of this.

It is easier for us to want to defend, fight, and argue. We want vindication, and vindication is justification. Often times, when we are wrongly accused or things are unjustly said about us, we want to defend ourselves. We’ll do whatever it takes to clear our name.

In Psalm 135:14 we are told that God will ultimately vindicate His people. That is not something we have to take on. God does offer justification through the death of His Son, and for those who have said Yes to Jesus, what God says about you is good, right and pure. He declares you good and right, and no mad king, or bad boss, can change that!

What painful experiences have you been trying to find vindication from that you need to turn over to God?

Prayer: God, thank you for coming to our defense, and for declaring us innocent through the work of Jesus.