Sunday, May 21, 2017

May 21: 1 Samuel 29 – 31; Psalm 118:1-14; Proverbs 15:24-26; John 11:54-12:19


            1 Samuel: The Philistines prepare to fight Israel and they discover David is going with them. They protest to Achish because they are afraid that David will join Israel to get in good graces with Saul. So, David is sent back to Ziklag.
            When they get home, they find Ziklag has been raided by Amelekites. Everyone’s wives and children have been taken captive and the city burned. They all start to weep and want to stone David, but he strengthens himself in the Lord.
            He asks the Lord if he should pursue the Amelekites and the answer is yes. 600 men go with him but when they reach the brook Besor, 200 are too exhausted to continue. David leaves them there to protect the baggage. He then pursues and frees everyone’s families and gets all their stuff back along with the plunder they take form the Amelekites. When they get back, he makes sure the 200 get a share of the plunder. David then sends some of his plunder as gifts to different places in Judah.
            In the meantime, the Philistines defeat Israel and kill Saul’s sons. Saul is badly wounded and kills himself. The Philistines broadcast the news in their territory, cut off his head, and hung his body on the wall of Beth-shan. Men from Jabesh went by night, got his body and his sons’ bodies, burned them, and buried the bones.
            Psalm: We give thanks to the Lord because his steadfast love endures forever. In destress we can call to the Lord and be set free. We don’t need to fear others. When we trust the Lord, he is our refuge and not people. We can overcome nations surrounding us when we do it in the name of the Lord because the Lord is our strength.
            Proverbs: Wise people follow the path of life that leads away from death. The Lord humbles proud people by taking their stuff from them, but he protects the widow’s. God hates even the thoughts of the wicked but good words are pure.
            John: Because the Jews wanted to kill him, Jesus was hiding out in the wilderness. People were wondering if he would come to Jerusalem for the Passover. The chief priests and Pharisees ordered people to tell them if they saw him so they could arrest him.
            Six days before the Passover, Jesus had dinner with Lazarus while Martha served. Mary took nard and anointed Jesus’ feet and wipe them with her hair. Judas complained that the nard could have been sold and given to the poor. He really wanted to steal some of it. Jesus told him to leave her alone because they would always have poor people but he wouldn’t always be there.
            When people learned Jesus was there, they came to see him and also Lazarus. The chief priests also want to kill Lazarus because people were believing in Jesus because of him.
            The next day, a huge crowd came to welcome Jesus into Jerusalem. They welcomed him declaring he was king. Jesus rode into town on a donkey fulfilling prophecy. The disciples didn’t understand the fulfilment until Jesus was glorified. The people welcomed him because of the signs he had done. The Pharisees were concerned because it seemed the whole world was following Jesus.

What Stood Out

            1 Samuel: “And David was greatly distressed, for the people spoke of stoning him, because all the people were bitter in soul, each for his sons and daughters. But David strengthened himself in the Lord his God” (1 Sam 30:6).
            Psalm: “The Lord is my strength and my song; he has become my salvation” (Ps 118:14).
            Proverbs: “The thoughts of the wicked are an abomination to the Lord, but gracious words are pure” (Prov 15:26).
            John: “Because on account of him many of the Jews were going away and believing in Jesus” (John 12:11).


            1 Samuel: David has to face the consequences of this lies to King Achish, since Achish expects David to go and fight against King Saul and Israel. We have to realize that once we start lying, the consequences compound. What would you do if you were faced with a decision to betray your family because you had lied? Fortunately, the Lord spared David and he didn’t have to follow through with his promise to go into battle with the Philistines.
            However, upon returning home, he found that he and his men had lost everything. Their wives, children, and all their possessions were gone. All because they had been away pretending to be allied with the Philistines. David is distressed, he is in the pits and his men want to kill him. The bright side of this is that he turned to the Lord. There isn’t any indication that he repented but he strengthened himself in the Lord.
            When we are in the pits and facing seemingly hopeless challenges, we can find strength in the Lord. Maybe our predicament is the result of our sin. But we are not defined by our sins when we repent and ask the Lord for forgiveness. We can go forward and do what is right. We may be embarrassed by our sins but owning them and then moving forward with trust in the Lord is the only way to overcome.
            Psalm: This Psalm sounds like something David could have written when he returned home after finding Ziklag burned. It is something we should consider. Who can harm us if the Lord has set us free? The answer is no one. If the Lord is for us, it doesn’t matter who is against us. It probably won’t be nations or enemies, but only the problems of life. We can strengthen ourselves in the Lord by remembering his steadfast love and trusting him. We don’t need to let circumstances or the past dictate our feelings when our joy is in the Lord.
            Proverbs: God hates even the thoughts of wicked people. What a condemnation of what people think. I once heard a college English professor talking about Shakespeare. He told his students to find meaning in the words by thinking dirty. That is an abomination! We should be thinking holy and righteous. When the world thinks one way we should be looking for purity and righteousness. Even if they are thinking the other way, we don’t have to because we’ve been cleansed by the blood of the Lamb.
            John: Lazarus’ resurrection was a significant sign that led many people to believe in Jesus. While we may think that our witness can’t compare to Lazarus’ we are mistaken. His life may have touched hundreds of people, but it was almost forgotten within a week. When Jesus was crucified all the people who declared Jesus king on Palm Sunday were calling for his crucifixion on Friday.
            When we rely on signs for our faith in Jesus, we are looking to external circumstances and they change. When we witness to people about Jesus and what he has done, we are pointing beyond those circumstances to the only one that can save. When our faith is in Jesus, not his signs, we will have a faith that is rock solid. In that way, our witness can exceed Lazarus’.


            I need to look to Jesus instead of the circumstances. I need to let past sins be in the past and know that in him I have forgiveness and can move on without fear. I can tell others about Jesus and have no fear.

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