August 29, 2018

Pentecost 14 - Proverbs 2:1-9

Theme: What Makes Christian Education Work?
1. The How – receiving, calling out, & seeking
2. The Why – God stores, shields, and provides
3. The What – To know God and His Gifts

I read an article this week that revealed a shocking statistic. In a study conducted in 2016, involving 3,000 participants, the data showed that teens and young adults aged 13-24 believe not recycling (56%) is worse than viewing pornography (32%); by a gap of almost 20%. It’s an eye-opening look into our culture, especially urban areas like ours.

Now, I recognize the value of recycling as much as the most ardent environmentalist, however to compare it to matters of sexual immorality is a bit of a stretch, and not only to compare it but to make it more of a moral issue. God indeed expects us to take care of the earth but He has no direct law about recycling. Pornography on the other hand, God has a lot to say about that, or more specifically, the root of it – sinful lust. Other studies have shown that pornography has direct links to verbal and physical abuse, to objectifying women in particular, addiction, and to broken marriages and destroyed  relationships. Recycling? I suppose one who doesn’t believe in it could be a selfish slob of a person, but it hardly has the moral consequences that porn use does.

As I read that article this week I couldn’t help but see the connection with our theme of Christian education. Learning in and through God’s Word – in all subjects, really does make a difference in a person’s life. It works. We could spend plenty of time surmising the reasons why young people think not recycling is so much worse than pornography – but we really don’t have to analyze the reasons that much. We all know what that misguided thinking ultimately goes back to – the inwardly twisted human heart.

Part of the education in the Christian faith is about helping children cope and handle the sinful flesh that they have – the sinful flesh that would thrive and prosper without God’s protective efforts. But, the biggest value of Christian education goes even beyond this point. Most important is the message of salvation in Christ – most vital as well! Our text to consider from God’s Word today shows us in the ins and outs of Christian education – essentially how and why it works, and what it offers. Our prayer is that the Holy Spirit would work in us a humble awe of this more treasured gift that God gives us – young and old – as we read from His Word (Proverbs 2:1-9):   

My son, if you receive my words, And treasure my commands within you, 2 So that you incline your ear to wisdom, And apply your heart to understanding; 3 Yes, if you cry out for discernment, And lift up your voice for understanding, 4 If you seek her as silver, And search for her as for hidden treasures; 5 Then you will understand the fear of the LORD, And find the knowledge of God. 6 For the LORD gives wisdom; From His mouth come knowledge and understanding; 7 He stores up sound wisdom for the upright; He is a shield to those who walk uprightly; 8 He guards the paths of justice, And preserves the way of His saints. 9 Then you will understand righteousness and justice, Equity and every good path.

Part 1 – The How of Christian Education

God must be taught to us because we all enter the world with an extremely limited understanding of who He is and what He has done. Now, that may not seem to be the case on the surface. The Bible tells us that the information that all people have about God comes in the forms of the created world and the inner mind or conscience. Those two things are spectacular resources. The world is so magnificent that entire cultures of people have devoted their worship to created things like the sun, moon, and stars. Each of us have memorable events in our lives that are connected to amazing aspects of creation; a beautiful sunset, a peaceful winter afternoon, a raging rainstorm, and even the smoky haze of forest fires. Nature is so much a part of our lives that we often remember events according to it. The human conscience is no small thing either. For as much as we know about the human mind we are still far beyond the point of fully understanding all of its abilities and intricacies. Just from those two natural evidences for God alone we can’t help but stand in wonder and awe.

Yet, God Himself tells us that those things are only the beginning of wisdom. True wisdom is found in His word. This is the wisdom of eternal life; the wisdom that helps me understand that this amazing infinite Creator God knows and loves me. That wisdom is so beyond us that God says people will reject it because it’s too hard to accept. And yet, little children, some of the youngest among us, have that wisdom and will grow in that wisdom through the Christian education of home, school, and church.

How can this be? Solomon, who by the way, knew a little bit about wisdom, tells us: Three conditional statements show us how: “If you receive…” If you cry out…” and “If you seek and search…” God is telling us that wisdom comes to us by receiving, calling out, and seeking. But there’s more going on here than God just telling us to do these things. Typically, when we hear a conditional statement that begins with “if” such as we have here in our text, we think that some type of barter is being made. Our mind tells us, “If you do this, then you’ll get this,” and so the impetus really gets directed at the self.

But, this is not what God is telling us. He doesn’t want us to focus on ourselves. The Hebrew idea of “if” can also be understood as “when.” God simply tells us, when these things happen – you will have understanding. This is not some bargaining chip from God that should keep us guessing. He wants you to have confidence is His promises. When you receive with your ears, when you call out with your voice, and when you seek His will – you will be blessed with wisdom.

The Why of Christian Education   

God’s handiwork further comes light when we consider why Christian education works this way. Solomon gives that answer in verses 6-8. The LORD gives wisdom – it’s His free gift, by storing up, by shielding, and by protecting. Each of these points are not only things done by God, but they are defensive things. This emphasis on protection is another reminder of how fragile wisdom is in a sinful world. There are many threats from without, but the greatest danger is in our your own heart. Satan advertises a false wisdom. It makes you feel better about yourself. It lets you off the hook from following God and listening to His Word. It makes you popular and attached to this temporary world, instead of seeking those things which are above. The danger is disguised in an attractive form, and that’s why God is so protective of this treasure, and of you. Our text tells us that He watches over both wisdom, storing it away for us, and He watches of you, shielding you from these seemingly harmless dangers.

We have confidence that when we receive, call out, and seek – God will be there to respond. Our confidence is because of what He does, long before our efforts begin. This is profound wisdom. God ordained it so long before the world existed. This wisdom is an extension of His very nature. And that’s why it only comes through His Word. Reading, memorizing, studying, and understanding Scripture is profitable for our lives not because it is ancient wisdom of the world. It’s God’s wisdom. It’s a direct link to His mind, if we could even image Him having such a thing. It is other-worldly wisdom. It existed before the creation, before the conscience, and certainly before you and me.
And so, verse one says, “Receive my words, and treasure my commands.” Solomon is speaking, yes, but he’s directing the hearer to God’s Word, just as any faithful preacher is merely a vessel. 

The What of Christian Education

We’ve talked about how we get wisdom from God. We talked about why it works the way God says it does. But what do we get from Christian education? The world offers mixed answers here. Some say we get nothing. To them education from God’s Word is actually an ailment, like mental limp on your brain. Skeptics and the uniformed boast that Christians are na├»ve. They often don’t mind when children believe in Christ, because, well, they’re children. But, some are so opposed they call Biblical education child abuse.

Most people probably walk in the middle ground. In fact, that’s probably where the majority of Christians are. They make the case that what is most valuable about Christian education is the quality. Not necessarily quality in the Christian sense, but in the education sense. For them, Christian education offers valuable life lessons, it teaches a consistent brand of morality, fairness, and doing good for others; and on the school level it provides a better quality education than public schools. These things might all be true, but they are an illusion if we think they are what God is intent on giving through education in His Word.

Solomon tells the what of Christian education in the last verse of our text. It isn’t lengthy, but it’s packed with meaning and importance. Then you will understand righteousness and justice, Equity and every good path. Here’s another example of just how relevant the Old Testament is today. Righteousness, justice, equity, every good path – these are the pillars of wisdom! They are also the very virtues that our 21st century America is seeking. Enter any educational institution, attend a class, listen to podcast on societal need, and you will hear the themes of righteousness, justice, equity, and goodness. We are certainly in need of these virtues and we are on the lookout for them.

But, their achievement is not isolated from God’s plan and promise. In Solomon’s explanation, these gifts come at the end. When you hear, cry out, and seek – then you will understand God. And as God stores up, shields, and protects – then you will understand His gifts. That sequence is there for a reason. Most of the world is caught on the first step. They want wisdom. They seek it. They call for it. They listen to many opinions about it. But, they never find true, Godly wisdom because they sever the pursuit from the power.

The wisdom of God’s nature is found in Jesus. When we look in His Word. When we seek through His Word. When we hear His Word – we understand Him. When we understand Him, we see more clearly what He does for us and what He freely grants us by faith – righteousness, justice, equity, and every good path. Christian education is not about getting degrees, or perfect grade point averages, or attaining the top spot in the class. It’s about the greatest blessings that God offers us in His mercy and grace. It’s about the comfort of understanding our spotless nature of righteousness through Jesus. It’s about trusting God will right our wrongs and defend our beliefs, even when everything in the world rages beyond our control. It’s about learning to treat others in the way that Christ would treat them – as Christ has treated us. Seeing one another in God’s own image. And it’s about not having to lean on our own thoughts and opinions to determine what is good – but receiving a wisdom that transcends, that looks above normal to see God.

What’s worse, not recycling or pornography?

It’s pretty astounding how far humans can stray from these gifts when they forgot the path of Christian education. God grant us ears to hear, tongues to call, and hearts to seek His wisdom in Christ. Amen. 

August 19, 2018

Pentecost 13 - Deuteronomy 30:11-20

Theme: The Christian’s Struggle With Obedience

Deuteronomy 30:11-20 "For this commandment which I command you today is not too mysterious for you, nor is it far off. 12 "It is not in heaven, that you should say,`Who will ascend into heaven for us and bring it to us, that we may hear it and do it?' 13 "Nor is it beyond the sea, that you should say,`Who will go over the sea for us and bring it to us, that we may hear it and do it?' 14 "But the word is very near you, in your mouth and in your heart, that you may do it. 15 "See, I have set before you today life and good, death and evil, 16 "in that I command you today to love the LORD your God, to walk in His ways, and to keep His commandments, His statutes, and His judgments, that you may live and multiply; and the LORD your God will bless you in the land which you go to possess. 17 "But if your heart turns away so that you do not hear, and are drawn away, and worship other gods and serve them, 18 "I announce to you today that you shall surely perish; you shall not prolong your days in the land which you cross over the Jordan to go in and possess. 19 "I call heaven and earth as witnesses today against you, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing; therefore choose life, that both you and your descendants may live; 20 "that you may love the LORD your God, that you may obey His voice, and that you may cling to Him, for He is your life and the length of your days; and that you may dwell in the land which the LORD swore to your fathers, to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, to give them.”

These words before us come from Moses’ final address to the people of Israel. Shortly after this he would install Joshua as the new leader of the people and the one to lead them into the Promised Land. Then, after a few more statements and a song by Moses, he would ascend Mt. Nebo and die.

These words also supply the bookend to one of the central themes of Deuteronomy, and more broadly of the entire Bible. Obedience. Next to Jeremiah, Deuteronomy contains the most references to obedience in the entire Bible. Though Jeremiah has slightly more references, most of them are simple statements that the people Jeremiah ministered to did not obey his words. In contrast, almost all of the references to obedience in Deuteronomy are commands from the LORD. Therefore, Deuteronomy contains the most direct commands related to obedience, by a long shot. It’s really what the entire book focuses on – and the very last command of this nature is contained here in our text – “That you may love the LORD your God, that you may obey His voice, and that you may dwell in the land which the LORD swore to your fathers, to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, to give them.”

This last reference also gives us another insight into obedience. In many of the other commands in Deuteronomy, the LORD connects obeying His Word to obeying His voice. This shows us how God thinks of His Word – it is parallel to His own voice. People resist keeping God’s commands. People fail at it. People struggle with it. But, you’d have to think that if God spoke directly to us we would do better. There’s just something about hearing it directly that makes more of an impact than something written down in a book. Yet, God’s point is that when we read His Word it should register in our hearts and His own voice. When the pastor preaches the Word, you should receive it as if God Himself is speaking it.

Even though we recognize God’s commands as His own voice, we undoubtedly view the commands of God a bit differently than the Old Testament believers. For them, the work of Jesus was a longing expectation. For us, it is an accomplished reality. The time and age in which a person is born in relation to the atonement of Christ has an impact on how they view and understand the laws of God. Most people recognize this difference in the way that God dealt with His people in the Old Testament. Leniency was not a common thing back then. God was strict. God gave narrow laws with harsh consequences. Today, God has allowed for a more expanded way in which in the New Testament believer can live under His law.

Yet, this doesn’t mean keeping the law is any easier. When it comes to obedience for the NT believer, there’s an inherent danger present for those who know the unconditional gospel. When you are able to see the absolute completion of Christ’s grace in action through His death and resurrection; it’s only natural to look at the law as secondary. Yet, by His gospel work Christ perfected the law – that’s how important it was for Him. Why should we then treat the commands of God any lesser, all the while using the very way that Christ accomplished the law as our excuse?   

Think of our first Scripture reading, where Paul quotes from this section of Deuteronomy. Paul’s in the middle of one of his most famous explanations of law and gospel in the Christian’s life. At the beginning of chapter 10 Paul makes the clear statement that Christ has brought an end, or completion to the law of God as a way of salvation. Yet, this by no means abolishes the law for Paul continues by showing the lifelong importance of learning, confessing, and yes, obeying God’s Word. The gospel should motivate us to want to obey the commands of God, not push us further from them.

But for us, Christians who live in the victory of Christ, there is a danger in viewing the commands of God as lesser and thereby diminishing the need to obey those laws. It’s dangerous because how you treat the Law has a direct impact on the Gospel. If you believe in a gospel that puts obedience on the back burner, instead of naturally leading you into obedience, you have believed a sad gospel indeed. 
This is precisely what we face in an age and culture of personal freedom at all costs.

The thing is, we view obedience differently than the people of Israel did, but its importance has never changed. Moses tells us: "See, I have set before you today life and good, death and evil, 16 "in that I command you today to love the LORD your God, to walk in His ways, and to keep His commandments, His statutes, and His judgments.” The importance of life and death, of good and evil, never changes. Obedience always centers on these things. The difference comes from the nature of that obedience.

When the LORD commanded obedience to His Word in the Old Testament, it usually centered around preservation. Certainly, preservation of the believer’s faith in God but also preservation of the Messianic promise. God was strict with Israel because if they disregarded the truth it would affect all people for all time. In order for God to fulfill His gospel promise Israel needed to retain God’s truth – even if only in a small remnant of people, which is what actually happened.

Today, we are still focused on the preservation of our faith, but for us obedience is more a form of worship to God. We seek to obey His Word, not out of compulsion or threat, or to earn anything, but in simple thanks and praise to honor God and what He has done for us. This week at VBS we learned the simple Bible passage of 1 John 4:19 – We love Him because He first loved us. That sums up obedience in the mind of the NT believer. We seek to love God, and to obey His Word is to love Him, because He first loved us by dying for us and forgiving our sins.

In other words, the OT believer’s obedience pointed toward the gospel, whereas the NT believer’s obedience flows from the gospel. That’s not to say that OT believer’s never obeyed as worship and NT believers never obey to preserve. Both are essential in all times. But, the way that obedience is manifested is different.

More importantly though, is that whenever obedience is on the table, so also is life and morality. Moses says as much in our text. He also had to deal with situations close to our own. Most of the commands to obey in Deuteronomy are straightforward. Moses was speaking to people who knew that this was important. Today, that’s not so much the case, even for Christians. As we said before, mis-guided loyalty to the gospel can cause a Christian to diminish God’s law. 

Consider what Moses wrote in chapter 29. He warns, "and so it may not happen, when he hears the words of this curse, that he blesses himself in his heart, saying,`I shall have peace, even though I follow the dictates of my heart'-- as though the drunkard could be included with the sober. (Deu 29:19). Moses is speaking of the type of person who hears what the law says but doesn’t think it applies to them. They hear the curse, perhaps they even understand it, but they think of it nothing more than a blessing in their own heart. They think they will have peace so long as they do what they want. Moses says that kind of person is like a drunk who thinks they are sober.

Here, Moses has described the typical NT pitfall to obeying God. Even in the OT, though it may not have been as common, it was still a problem. This pitfall substitutes a blessing of peace in place of the law’s righteous curse. The individual is so numb morally that God’s warnings no longer register in their heart. In fact, their heart isn’t even led by God’s Word, it’s led by their own opinions. And so they chant, “Peace, Peace” as the law rightly curses them.  

What a stunning indictment, especially when Christians fall into this trap. When Christians take the finer points of obedience to God’s law and disregard them because of the gospel’s blessing, they are doing this very thing. The law and gospel are different, and lead to different effects, but they were never intended by God to oppose one another. When a Christian follows Christ, the law and gospel work in harmony together. To put it another way, you don’t obey God’s Word because of what you will get for it; rather because of what you’ll lose for not doing it.

Moses was not teaching righteousness by the law, even given how much he talked about God’s commands. We don’t teach that either when we still declare that obedience to God matters. It’s never been about getting something from God. It’s about not losing what God has given freely to you. When Christians have a skewed vision of the purpose of obedience, namely to earn favor with God, they will gladly blot it out with the freedom of the gospel. But, that’s an equally, if not more dangerous, trap from Satan. Because if he can get you to forsake obedience and the importance of the law, he can get you to lose your anchor of truth in God’s Word – and then not even the gospel will mean anything anymore.

As Moses says, this is not a difficult or mysterious thing. It is written all across God’s Word. Don’t obey to earn, because if you do eventually your salvation won’t mean anything. You don’t need to ascend to heaven to attain salvation – Jesus already did that for you. You don’t need to cross beyond the sea or further to achieve atonement with God – Jesus already did that for you. His Word is near you – on your lips and in your heart.

But, as a good Christian, don’t forsake obedience either just because you are free in Christ. A faithful heart does not do that. That’s not the kind of gospel that Jesus paid for with His own blood. Before you is life and death, blessing and cursing, just as it was for Moses and Israel. Heed God’s own voice to you – in justice and in love, in curse and blessing, in judgment and in peace, in obedience and forgiveness, and in law and gospel. With that, you will always have what He has given you, and you will never lose what He has gained. Amen.  

August 6, 2018

Pac NW Devotions Re-cap - The Life of David

Theme: “A Man After God’s Own Heart”

Last Sunday we looked at the account from God’s Word when His people demanded a king to rule over them. This was a major transition in Israel’s history that would stick with them all the way up to the birth of Christ. Our primary figure last weekend was Samuel, the last of God’s judges, and the one to oversee this transition. Our lesson from last weekend was a nice segue for the devotions we had at Pacific NW camp this past week, in Idaho. These devotions centered on Israel’s second, and most famous King, David, and how God described him as “a man after His own heart.”

David is unique in Scripture for many reasons. First, he is the only person to be characterized this way by God. It’s not that David was the only person who was after God’s own heart. We’ll learn today what that title means and how, through Christ, we too can be described that way. But, nevertheless, within the pages of Scripture it was quite an honor and a testament to David’s life.

David is also unique because he was a picture of Christ Himself. The technical term for this is called a “type.” What that means is that God chose David ahead of time to be a figurative picture of His own Son, Jesus Christ. When God promised that David’s kingdom would last forever, it was fulfilled in the reign of Jesus Christ over death, sin, and Satan.

Finally, for our purposes today, David is unique because we are told a lot about his life in the Bible. There is perhaps no other person who is talked about more, or in greater detail, than David. Sometimes, that’s good for his legacy, like when his famous victory over Goliath is told to generation after generation. Sometimes, it’s not so good, like when the entire world knows about David’s most personal mistakes and sins. Regardless, there is much we can learn from David’s life, because the Lord saw fit to tell us a lot. We are reminded of what Paul told the Romans, that these stories were recorded “for our learning, that by the patience and hope of the Scriptures, we would have hope (Romans 15:4).”   

For our text today, we read from one of Paul’s own sermons, where he says this of David, Acts 13:22-23 "And when He had removed him, He raised up for them David as king, to whom also He gave testimony and said, `I have found David the son of Jesse, a man after My own heart, who will do all My will.' 23 "From this man's seed, according to the promise, God raised up for Israel a Savior-- Jesus--.”

In Friendship

The first aspect of David’s life that we studied at camp was his strong friendship with King Saul’s son, Jonathan. What we learn about this friendship really reflects more on the faith of Jonathan than David, but it also reminds us that David certainly learned from Jonathan, who was 25 years his elder. At a time when Saul’s jealousy was threatening David’s life, Jonathan offered calm and protection. He was someone who had direct access to the king and used that influence to help David.

Jonathan risked much for David. Many people are familiar with the time that Saul tried to pin David to the wall with his spear, but few remember that on a different occasion Saul tried to kill Jonathan with his spear because Jonathan defended David. We’re also told that Jonathan conceived of the secret plan to notify David whether it was safe for him to return to normal life. While David was hiding in the field, Jonathan would shoot three arrows at a target. If the arrows were short of the target, David was safe. If they went beyond the target, David needed to flee. Regrettably, Jonathan had to fire past the target. In their final moment together, Jonathan said this to David, "Go in peace, since we have both sworn in the name of the LORD, saying,`May the LORD be between you and me, and between your descendants and my descendants, forever.'" (1 Sam. 20:42)

That was the final time David and Jonathan would see each other. While David was on the run, hiding out in Philistia, Jonathan was killed in battle, along with his brothers and his father, Saul. The Bible described their friendship in this way, that Jonathan loved David as his own soul – a true testament to the second part of God’s greatest command, that we love our neighbors as ourselves – what Jesus Himself said was the essence of the entire law of God.

Jonathan and David’s friendship teaches us how David was a man after God’s own heart, not because of some quality in himself, but in how the Lord blessed him. The Lord blessed David and Jonathan with their friendship. The Lord used that friendship to aid and protect David in a trying time, a time that David described as being “one step away from death (1 Samuel 20:3).” Similarly, their friendship teaches us that God does the same in our lives. The first aspect of being a follower of God, one who lives after His heart, is recognizing that we are His own because of His blessings for us. The Lord has given us relationships in life as a gift – for our benefit. This isn’t just about your best friend. It involves: parents, teachers, pastors, mentors, role models, and so on. Don’t despise these people in your life. They are God’s blessings. They help you live as one after His own heart.    

In Trial

Our scripture reading from earlier chronicled the most remembered event in David’s life – his battle against Goliath. It’s tough to think of a bigger trial than battling a nearly ten foot giant to the death. It’s been said in similar circumstances, when someone accomplishes the seemingly impossible, that they just didn’t think of the odds or what would happen if they failed. They never consider it – perhaps as a matter of immaturity – but it can be helpful mentally to block out the negatives.

At this point for David, there’s certainly a likelihood that he just never considered the odds. His faith in the Lord was so strong that he didn’t know any better. Those who operate by logic scoff at that kind of attitude. However, we know it in Scripture by a different name – a childlike faith. Jesus tells us that our trust in Him should be like that of a child; even a child who doesn’t know better. A child doesn’t logically think through a problem and pick the most likely scenario for success. A child can’t even consider the possibilities because they just don’t know them. A child follows the one they trust.

So it was here with David before Goliath. No one logically sprints toward a foe like this, with only a sling and five small stones.

While David’s victory over Goliath was undoubtedly a sign of the Lord’s power, it also spoke just as clearly about the times that David failed in his life – times when it seemed that he faced much less threatening foes. It was a relatively peaceful time in David’s life when he was entangled with the sins of lust, adultery, dishonesty, and murder. Why did he fail in a situation that didn’t seem dangerous at all? He failed because he didn’t strengthen his defenses. He let his guard down. He stopped trusting in the Lord and chose instead to forge his own way. And because of it David experienced the greatest pain and loss that he would feel in his life.

The story of Goliath is a perpetual reminder of the very thing that David boldly confessed before the giant – “the battle is the Lord’s.” The Lord holds the day in all situations of life. He knows what you’re in right now. He knows what you’re facing. He’s seen it fit to put you in that situation. God doesn’t do this because He delights in His supreme control over you and He enjoys seeing you squirm and suffer. Rather, God is seeking to help you, to protect you, to strengthen you, as He did for David – by leading you to trust Him. As someone after God’s own heart David conquered the unconquerable. But, when he strayed from the Lord, David’s enemies toppled him without even lifting a finger. And yet, in repentance, humility, and reliance on the Lord’s grace and forgiveness David came to realize that even his lowest moments were faith-building lessons from the Lord.

For you, the reminder is the same. A person who follows God is not defined by their accomplishments, as grand as they may be. They are defined by the ability to rise up again after defeat, to lose everything in life and still find the greatest treasure through faith in Jesus.     

In Humility

Our final part deals with how David eventually became king. When you put the pieces of this story together, the way in which David assumed the throne of Israel really shows best how he was a man after God’s own heart. Take a look in your bulletin under our sermon text. I listed several of the most prominent stories about David in the Bible. Their chronological order is randomly printed. I wonder, could you rearrange them accurately? (briefly explain some of the stories).

Perhaps it’s difficult to order them perfectly from memory, but could you remember the first event? (David’s anointing).

Yes, that’s correct, the first story we have about David is when the Lord chose to anoint Him as king of Israel. Many of the rest of those stories describe the uniqueness of this – Saul was still king – chosen and anointed by the Lord as well. David was caught in this difficult conundrum. He knew he would be king. He knew the evils Saul had committed. He was on the run – even from his own nation. He had to ally himself with the very nation that would kill his friend, Jonathan. All this was going on and the Lord gave him two opportunities to take matters into his own hands. (Saul in the cave and Saul in the field).

How could anyone say that David didn’t have the right to kill Saul? David was anointed king. Saul had forsaken the Lord. David had the peoples’ favor. Saul had tried to kill David, retaliation would have just been self-defense. Yet, David himself was perhaps the only one to say no. David refused to take Saul’s life – not because Saul deserved it – but because David respected the Lord. Saul was still the Lord’s anointed king, to act against Saul would be to act against the Lord’s plan. David had to submit to the very one who created so much heartache and danger in his life in order to submit to the Lord. Yet, as painful as the consequences were, David stayed faithful, and this humility and trust were the ultimate indicators that he was a man after God’s own heart.  

As in many of the events of David’s life, it reminds us also of David’s greatest Son – Jesus. Paul writes in Philippians, In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus: 6 Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage; 7 rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. 8 And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death-- even death on a cross!  (Phi 2:5 NIV)

Jesus, likewise, submitted Himself to someone inferior, in order to submit Himself to His Father’s will. It wasn’t Saul that Jesus honored, it was you. You, who turned away from Him in sin. You, who betrayed His loyal friendship. You, who grew impatient with His Word. Jesus showed you honor and love on the cross, because it was the only way to show the highest honor and love to His Father’s plan of salvation. Jesus humiliated His righteous life in order to win back yours. And because He chose to do this greatest act of love, you like David, are one after God’s own heart. Amen.

The peace of God which surpasses all understanding will keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus. Amen.