November 28, 2021
'O Lord, you have searched me and known me! You know when I sit down and when I rise up; you discern my thoughts from afar. You search out my path and my lying down and are acquainted with all my ways. Even before a word is on my tongue, behold, O Lord, you know it altogether. You hem me in, behind and before, and lay your hand upon me. Such knowledge is too wonderful for me; it is high; I cannot attain it. Where shall I go from your Spirit? Or where shall I flee from your presence? If I ascend to heaven, you are there! If I make my bed in Sheol, you are there! If I take the wings of the morning and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea, even there your hand shall lead me, and your right hand shall hold me. If I say, “Surely the darkness shall cover me, and the light about me be night,” even the darkness is not dark to you; the night is bright as the day, for darkness is as light with you. For you formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well. My frame was not hidden from you, when I was being made in secret, intricately woven in the depths of the earth. Your eyes saw my unformed substance; in your book were written, every one of them, the days that were formed for me, when as yet there was none of them. How precious to me are your thoughts, O God! How vast is the sum of them! If I would count them, they are more than the sand. I awake, and I am still with you. Oh that you would slay the wicked, O God! O men of blood, depart from me! They speak against you with malicious intent; your enemies take your name in vain. Do I not hate those who hate you, O Lord? And do I not loathe those who rise up against you? I hate them with complete hatred; I count them my enemies. Search me, O God, and know my heart! Try me and know my thoughts! And see if there be any grievous way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting!'
David may have written this psalm after he was made king over all of Israel and Judah, upon his second defeat of the Philistines (1 Chronicles 11-14, 2 Samuel 5).
This emotional song prompted by God’s Spirit conveys the intimacy of God’s relationship with men and women, each made in His image and likeness, each created unique in spirit, soul and body. God is all knowing, and He concerns Himself in the details of our lives. David marveled at this truth.
God’s people are unlike God in that He is omniscient and omnipresent, capable of knowing everyone and being present anywhere, and He is not bound by time, having created it. The Spirit of God also has all knowledge and wisdom. God has given men and women each some measure of knowledge and wisdom that operates as part of the mind and body. God also gives some of His own wisdom, knowledge, and discernment of the spiritual to some as gifts of His Spirit (1 Corinthians 12:8-10). We know that David was one who had such inspiration from the Spirit of God because a number of his psalms have within them prophecies of the life of Jesus Christ (e.g., Psalm 16:9-11; Psalm 22:1, 15-16,18; Psalm 31:5; Psalm 40:6-8; Psalm 41:9; Psalm 69:21).
David imagined that God had discerned his thoughts from afar. Really God connects to and communicates with His people though through the spirit He has put inside of each one of them. Just as the temple of God in the Old Testament had three regions — an outer court, an inner court, and the holy of holies, we also have three parts, respectively: our body, our soul, and our spirit. The soul is the interface between the body and the spirit, including our mind, will, and emotions. The heavenly may just be another dimension or dimensions of reality which, unlike our bodies and this world in its present form, will persist.
What we think about is important because God desires our attention and our love. Our thoughts are important because they lead to what we say, how we choose to act, the habits we form (our ways), and the good we do. God is good and God is love, so when we do good motivated by love, this brings pleasure to God (1 Corinthians 13:13).
"Where shall I go from your Spirit? Or where shall I flee from your presence? If I ascend to heaven, you are there! If I make my bed in Sheol, you are there! If I take the wings of the morning and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea, even there your hand shall lead me, and your right hand shall hold me."
The presence of the Spirit of God is beautiful because God always goes with His people. They are never alone. David marveled also at this truth.
'If I say, “Surely the darkness shall cover me, and the light about me be night,” even the darkness is not dark to you; the night is bright as the day, for darkness is as light with you.'
Additionally, God is not constrained to taking in the world through senses as we are, our vision included. To God there is no darkness or light. Apart from anything that may be spiritually understood, we are the only ones limited to what we can understand through sense knowledge and reason.
“For you formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well. My frame was not hidden from you, when I was being made in secret, intricately woven in the depths of the earth. Your eyes saw my unformed substance; in your book were written, every one of them, the days that were formed for me, when as yet there was none of them.”
David understood each human life as a wonderful, intricate work of God as Creator, each knit together in a mother’s womb. God is Life, and He gives life out of his generous nature. Each life has such high value, precious to God, made in His image and likeness, bringing Him glory. It is God’s Spirit (Ruach, also referred to as breath or wind) that both enables and sustains life. In God’s knowledge and existence outside of time, God has formed not only each person as His handiwork but also the days of their lives (Ephesians 2:10). David rejoiced in the living God, desiring to know Him and make Him known, even as he was fully known (1 Corinthians 13:12).
‘‘Oh that you would slay the wicked, O God! O men of blood, depart from me! They speak against you with malicious intent; your enemies take your name in vain. Do I not hate those who hate you, O Lord? And do I not loathe those who rise up against you? I hate them with complete hatred; I count them my enemies.”
David’s song also shows that he understood his strength and power were not from him or his kingdom but from abiding with God his Creator. David had made God’s enemies — those who spoke against God and took His name in vain — his enemies, and he asked God to slay them. David hated evil, or that which opposes God. Followers of Jesus Christ are still called to hate evil (Romans 12:9) yet also to love their enemies (Matthew 5:44).
‘‘Search me, O God, and know my heart! Try me and know my thoughts! And see if there be any grievous way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting!”
It seems that (most of the time) David continually examined his life, concluding this psalm by asking God to search him and to lead him, fusing his consciousness with God, aligning him with God’s ways. David’s attention was principally on God, desiring to be hemmed in, behind and before, one with God. David’s heart was after God’s own heart, his soul aligned to allow the Spirit of God to live and work through him. He sought to be a co-worker with God to accomplish His purposes (see also 1 Corinthians 3:9).
November 25, 2021
Bless the Lord, O my soul
'Bless the Lord, O my soul, and all that is within me, bless his holy name! Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits, who forgives all your iniquity, who heals all your diseases, who redeems your life from the pit, who crowns you with steadfast love and mercy, who satisfies you with good so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s. The Lord works righteousness and justice for all who are oppressed. He made known his ways to Moses, his acts to the people of Israel. The Lord is merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love. He will not always chide, nor will he keep his anger forever. He does not deal with us according to our sins, nor repay us according to our iniquities. For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is his steadfast love toward those who fear him; as far as the east is from the west, so far does he remove our transgressions from us. As a father shows compassion to his children, so the Lord shows compassion to those who fear him. For he knows our frame; he remembers that we are dust. As for man, his days are like grass; he flourishes like a flower of the field; for the wind passes over it, and it is gone, and its place knows it no more. But the steadfast love of the Lord is from everlasting to everlasting on those who fear him, and his righteousness to children’s children, to those who keep his covenant and remember to do his commandments. The Lord has established his throne in the heavens, and his kingdom rules over all. Bless the Lord, O you his angels, you mighty ones who do his word, obeying the voice of his word! Bless the Lord, all his hosts, his ministers, who do his will! Bless the Lord, all his works, in all places of his dominion. Bless the Lord, O my soul!'
This is a beautiful song of praise written by David. He throws all of himself into worship.
There are five benefits of loving and choosing God listed by David.
First, God forgives His people’s sin, making them righteous so they can have a close relationship with Him.
Second, God heals all of His people’s diseases in accordance with His promise given when He revealed Himself as Jehovah Rapha, “the Lord your healer” (Exodus 15:22-27).
Third, He redeems their lives from the pit. This is the full, life-giving salvation of God, more significant than bodily healing. Fourth, He crowns His people with steadfast love and mercy; it is in His nature as the covenant-keeping Creator. Fifth, God satisfies His people with good so that they are renewed.
David saw God as intrinsically good, always wanting to do good in any situation. Is this the way we see God?
“The Lord works righteousness and justice for all who are oppressed. He made known his ways to Moses, his acts to the people of Israel. The Lord is merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love.”
God’s heart is to bring freedom to the oppressed, making right what is wrong, and He works through His people to do it, as He did with Moses. God revealed His nature to Moses (Exodus 34:6-7), and David repeats it in this song of praise.
“He will not always chide, nor will he keep his anger forever. He does not deal with us according to our sins, nor repay us according to our iniquities. For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is his steadfast love toward those who fear him; as far as the east is from the west, so far does he remove our transgressions from us. As a father shows compassion to his children, so the Lord shows compassion to those who fear him.”
David may have written this psalm after he was pardoned from adultery with Bathsheba and murder of her husband (2 Samuel 12:13-15). While Psalm 51 seems to have been written before David’s pardon, this psalm took a different tone of rejoicing in God’s forgiveness. What a picture David painted of the steadfast love of God for His children! David had been forgiven much.
“For he knows our frame; he remembers that we are dust. As for man, his days are like grass; he flourishes like a flower of the field; for the wind passes over it, and it is gone, and its place knows it no more. But the steadfast love of the Lord is from everlasting to everlasting on those who fear him, and his righteousness to children’s children, to those who keep his covenant and remember to do his commandments.”
David beautifully described how the eternal love of the covenant-keeping God gives hope to mankind despite the apparent frailty of life. God’s people can always look forward to being at the receiving end of the generosity of the all powerful God. God is not the great I WAS nor the great I WILL BE. The God of David is still the living God, the great I AM (Genesis 15:1, Revelation 22:16).
“The Lord has established his throne in the heavens, and his kingdom rules over all. Bless the Lord, O you his angels, you mighty ones who do his word, obeying the voice of his word! Bless the Lord, all his hosts, his ministers, who do his will! Bless the Lord, all his works, in all places of his dominion. Bless the Lord, O my soul!' “
David rejoiced in the kingdom and the sovereignty of God, seeing himself again as a part of it after a very dark time in his life. Every part of his being joined the host of heaven in praise and adoration of the merciful, compassionate God who wills to do such good. God’s spoken words are a mechanism to carry out His will.
David’s passionate love toward God reflected in this psalm is reminiscent of the adoration shown toward Jesus by the woman of the city, a sinner who wept on Jesus’ feet, wiped His feet with her hair, kissed His feet, and anointed them with ointment from an alabaster flask she brought, as recorded in Luke 7:36-50. The words Jesus spoke about her are true also of David:
“Therefore I tell you, her sins, which are many, are forgiven — for she loved much. But he who is forgiven little, loves little.”
Luke 7:47 ESV
“Bless the Lord , O my soul, and all that is within me, bless his holy name!”
November 23, 2021
The Lord is my Shepherd
'The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want. He makes me lie down in green pastures. He leads me beside still waters. He restores my soul. He leads me in paths of righteousness for his name’s sake. Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me. You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; you anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows. Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life, and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord forever.'
This psalm by David is the most popular to read at Christian and Jewish funerals, but really it is more applicable to a life lived with God, not death. It represents who God wants to be to us. God is Life (Genesis 2:7, John 1:1-4), and, furthermore, Jesus said about God:
'Now he is not God of the dead, but of the living, for all live to him.” '
Just as Israel saw the Lord as His shepherd (Jehovah Ra’ah, see Genesis 48:15), so did David.
David knew not to want because God is the Lord who provides, even as Abraham had experienced Him (Jehovah Jireh). He trusted God to take care of him. In fact, David had more than enough; his cup overflowed.
"He makes me lie down in green pastures. He leads me beside still waters. He restores my soul."
God was David’s peace (Jehovah Shalom), bringing comfort in every circumstance. David would not fear because he knew God, Jehovah Shammah, was present with him. God would stay present with him; he would dwell in the house of the Lord forever.
"He leads me in paths of righteousness for his name’s sake. Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me. You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies.."
David trusted God to lead him to do what was right and to deliver him from evil. Jehovah Tsidkenu, the Lord our Righteousness, does right and is always victorious over evil. David would be blessed even in the presence of his enemies.
"Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life, and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord forever."
David knew that with God, goodness and mercy would follow him because that is the nature of God — one of grace, or a divine, gratuitous giving that flows from His nature.
Probably this psalm brings so much comfort in the face of the death of loved ones, because in such times, it is our hope that this is who God would be to us. What we really need is the love of God.
The love of God was best exemplified by Jesus, the fulfillment of all the redemptive names of God, and, by the design of God, our Good Shepherd:
'The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly. I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. He who is a hired hand and not a shepherd, who does not own the sheep, sees the wolf coming and leaves the sheep and flees, and the wolf snatches them and scatters them. He flees because he is a hired hand and cares nothing for the sheep. I am the good shepherd. I know my own and my own know me, just as the Father knows me and I know the Father; and I lay down my life for the sheep. '
Jesus is Life. He came to give abundant life through the laying down of His own life because He cares for His sheep. Every one of His sheep — each created in God’s image and likeness, has value just a little lower than that of God (Psalm 8:5).
Jesus brought about God’s will to redeem, establishing the channel of God to life, provision, peace, righteousness, victory, goodness, grace, mercy, and the love of God.
November 21, 2021
Psalms of praise by David
“O Lord, our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth! You have set your glory above the heavens. Out of the mouth of babies and infants, you have established strength because of your foes, to still the enemy and the avenger. When I look at your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have set in place, what is man that you are mindful of him, and the son of man that you care for him? Yet you have made him a little lower than the heavenly beings and crowned him with glory and honor. You have given him dominion over the works of your hands; you have put all things under his feet, all sheep and oxen, and also the beasts of the field, the birds of the heavens, and the fish of the sea, whatever passes along the paths of the seas. O Lord, our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth!”
Psalm 8:1-9 ESV
In this psalm, David’s adoration of God, His name, and His creation is evident.
In David’s song, he asked God why He cared so much for mankind. David declared that mankind had been made only a little lower than God (per a note in the ESV, the “heavenly beings” could be translated as God), crowned with glory and honor as God is. David knew who he was to God.
David marveled at how we have been made in the image and likeness of God, given such dominion over the rest of creation.
This king who God made famous throughout history marveled at God as the majestic One. To David, it wasn’t about him; it was about God.
David’s heart is also revealed in the 19th Psalm:
“The heavens declare the glory of God, and the sky above proclaims his handiwork. Day to day pours out speech, and night to night reveals knowledge. There is no speech, nor are there words, whose voice is not heard. Their voice goes out through all the earth, and their words to the end of the world. In them he has set a tent for the sun, which comes out like a bridegroom leaving his chamber, and, like a strong man, runs its course with joy. Its rising is from the end of the heavens, and its circuit to the end of them, and there is nothing hidden from its heat. The law of the Lord is perfect, reviving the soul; the testimony of the Lord is sure, making wise the simple; the precepts of the Lord are right, rejoicing the heart; the commandment of the Lord is pure, enlightening the eyes; the fear of the Lord is clean, enduring forever; the rules of the Lord are true, and righteous altogether. More to be desired are they than gold, even much fine gold; sweeter also than honey and drippings of the honeycomb. Moreover, by them is your servant warned; in keeping them there is great reward. Who can discern his errors? Declare me innocent from hidden faults. Keep back your servant also from presumptuous sins; let them not have dominion over me! Then I shall be blameless, and innocent of great transgression. Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in your sight, O Lord, my rock and my redeemer.”
Psalm 19:1-14 ESV
David not only marveled at creation; he claimed it to be a source of knowledge, just as the Apostle Paul did:
“For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse.”
Romans 1:19-20 ESV
God’s creation wasn’t the only way God had spoken. David also delighted in God’s word, calling it here the law of the Lord, the testimony of the Lord, the commandment of the Lord, and the rules of the Lord.
David said that God’s word revived the soul, made the wise simple, caused rejoicing in the heart, enlightened the eyes, and led to great reward if followed. According to David, God’s word was true and to be desired more than fine gold or the finest of foods.
For David, God was the source of life, wisdom, joy, knowledge, truth and blessing. In faith, he did not doubt that God’s will was to do good.
David’s attention was on God, and David was satisfied in Him. He knew that God cared about what he thought about, what he said, what he loved, and whether he was obedient to God.
David wanted to be close to God, his rock and his redeemer, so he hated sin. David wanted to do right.
David was an outstanding example of the love a human can have for God and one who cared about the things God cares about.
As such, David was counted as a man after God’s own heart (1 Samuel 13:14). His will was to do all of God’s will (Acts 13:22).
November 19, 2021
God promises an eternal kingdom to David's offspring
'Now, therefore, thus you shall say to my servant David, ‘Thus says the Lord of hosts, I took you from the pasture, from following the sheep, that you should be prince over my people Israel. And I have been with you wherever you went and have cut off all your enemies from before you. And I will make for you a great name, like the name of the great ones of the earth. And I will appoint a place for my people Israel and will plant them, so that they may dwell in their own place and be disturbed no more. And violent men shall afflict them no more, as formerly, from the time that I appointed judges over my people Israel. And I will give you rest from all your enemies. Moreover, the Lord declares to you that the Lord will make you a house. When your days are fulfilled and you lie down with your fathers, I will raise up your offspring after you, who shall come from your body, and I will establish his kingdom. He shall build a house for my name, and I will establish the throne of his kingdom forever. I will be to him a father, and he shall be to me a son. When he commits iniquity, I will discipline him with the rod of men, with the stripes of the sons of men, but my steadfast love will not depart from him, as I took it from Saul, whom I put away from before you. And your house and your kingdom shall be made sure forever before me. Your throne shall be established forever.’” '
2 Samuel 7:8-16
The promise God made to David is similar to the one He made to Abraham:
“... “By myself I have sworn, declares the Lord, because you have done this and have not withheld your son, your only son, I will surely bless you, and I will surely multiply your offspring as the stars of heaven and as the sand that is on the seashore. And your offspring shall possess the gate of his enemies, and in your offspring shall all the nations of the earth be blessed, because you have obeyed my voice.””
Genesis 22:16-18 ESV
The promise is more specific though than the one God made to Abraham. It refers both to Jesus and God’s people, the church, who have been grafted into God’s people, Israel (Romans 11:17-36), as branches connected to the Vine, Jesus Christ, by God, the vinedresser (John 15:1-2).
It is David’s descendent Jesus that has a house, a kingdom, and a throne, being a son to God — the Son of God.
The house is the body of Christ, the church, made of Israelites and Gentiles, made of all the nations of the earth.
The kingdom is the one that Jesus preached as being near (e.g., Matthew 3:2), the one that came with His resurrection and glorification (Luke 22:18). The kingdom came with Jesus' demonstration of the power of God to bring freedom, healing and salvation (Matthew 4:23-24, 1 Corinthians 4:19-20) through the Holy Spirit given to the body of Christ, the church (Luke 9:1-2). This kingdom that Jesus brought allowed the church to possess the gate of God’s enemies (Matthew 16:19).
The throne is the one Jesus received with authority over all of heaven and earth until the time that all evil is put under His feet (1 Corinthians 15:24-28). It is Christ’s throne and therefore belongs also to the body of Christ, the church, to accomplish the will of God and bring Him glory.
"When he commits iniquity, I will discipline him with the rod of men, with the stripes of the sons of men, but my steadfast love will not depart from him, as I took it from Saul, whom I put away from before you."
It is by Jesus’ stripes — those inflicted before His crucifixion — that Jehovah Rapha has healed because Jesus took on the iniquity, infirmity, and sicknesses of all of mankind that have steadfast faith in Him (see also Isaiah 53:1-5, Matthew 8:16-17, 1 Peter 2:24). It is finished.
God also promised a coming time when Israel will have peace. This will be brought by the second coming of Jesus Christ, which is thoroughly discussed in other parts of Scripture in the Old and New Testaments (including Acts 15:16-17, 2 Thessalonians 2:8, Zechariah 14:2-4, Zechariah 12:10, Isaiah 25:9, Isaiah 60:21, Micah 4:24, Isaiah 33:24, Isaiah 35:5-10, Habakkuk 2:14, Isaiah 65:19, Isaiah 2:3, Revelation 20:7-8,11-15; 21:1-8).
Through the line of David, God brought His kingdom, and He will bring complete victory to everyone that abides in Jesus Christ by faith (1 John 5:4), because of the steadfast love of God for men and women made in His image and likeness.
November 16, 2021
David anointed king
'Samuel did what the Lord commanded and came to Bethlehem. The elders of the city came to meet him trembling and said, “Do you come peaceably?” And he said, “Peaceably; I have come to sacrifice to the Lord. Consecrate yourselves, and come with me to the sacrifice.” And he consecrated Jesse and his sons and invited them to the sacrifice. When they came, he looked on Eliab and thought, “Surely the Lord’s anointed is before him.” But the Lord said to Samuel, “Do not look on his appearance or on the height of his stature, because I have rejected him. For the Lord sees not as man sees: man looks on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart.” Then Jesse called Abinadab and made him pass before Samuel. And he said, “Neither has the Lord chosen this one.” Then Jesse made Shammah pass by. And he said, “Neither has the Lord chosen this one.” And Jesse made seven of his sons pass before Samuel. And Samuel said to Jesse, “The Lord has not chosen these.” Then Samuel said to Jesse, “Are all your sons here?” And he said, “There remains yet the youngest, but behold, he is keeping the sheep.” And Samuel said to Jesse, “Send and get him, for we will not sit down till he comes here.” And he sent and brought him in. Now he was ruddy and had beautiful eyes and was handsome. And the Lord said, “Arise, anoint him, for this is he.” Then Samuel took the horn of oil and anointed him in the midst of his brothers. And the Spirit of the Lord rushed upon David from that day forward. And Samuel rose up and went to Ramah. Now the Spirit of the Lord departed from Saul, and a harmful spirit from the Lord tormented him... And whenever the harmful spirit from God was upon Saul, David took the lyre and played it with his hand. So Saul was refreshed and was well, and the harmful spirit departed from him.'
1 Samuel 16:4-14,23
The Israelites demanded to be led by a king so they could be like the other nations around them (1 Samuel 8:19-20), thinking they knew best what was good for them. God allowed them to choose, and so He led Samuel to anoint Saul, a very tall man (1 Samuel 9:2), as king and with the Spirit of the Lord (1 Samuel 10:6-10). Saul turned his back on God though, deciding not to perform his commandments because he feared his people and obeyed their voice (1 Samuel 15:11,24), so God asked Samuel to anoint a different king.
Based upon the appearance of a man named Eliab, Samuel thought God had chosen him to be king. God told him though that “the Lord sees not as man sees: man looks on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart.” What is attractive to God is to see man and woman as God created them to be, made in His image and likeness (Genesis 1:26-27). This has to do with a person’s character and the nature of their soul, which is the seat of the mind, will, and emotions; it’s the interface between that which is seen — the body — and unseen, the spirit (1 Thessalonians 5:23).
God saw David, a young, ruddy keeper of sheep, for who he was in God’s likeness and who he could be. David was a shepherd at heart, and God is the shepherd of His people, for Israel knew God as the One before whom his fathers walked and his shepherd all of the days of his life (Genesis 48:15).
So the Spirit of the Lord left Saul, allowing him to be affected by a harmful spirit, and rushed upon David.
In the New Testament brought about by Jesus’ victory: 1) it’s made clear that harmful spirits are from Satan (Acts 10:38, 1 John 3:8), who had legally taken rule from man when Adam and Eve disobeyed God, and 2) the Holy Spirit does not come upon individuals but instead lives inside those who are made alive by their decision to follow Jesus Christ (Colossians 1:27, 1 Corinthians 6:19).
Saul, still king, came to find that David’s presence and the music he played for Saul brought him peace and refreshing. This is introduction in Scripture to the great psalmist, David, who wrote at least 75 of the 150 psalms. He was introduced to Saul as “skillful in playing, a man of valor, a man of war, prudent in speech, and a man of good presence, and the Lord is with him” (1 Samuel 16:18). Saul came to love David, making David his armor-bearer (v. 21).
If God looks on the heart, so should the church, adapting its perception of people to what redemption has made possible for each individual.
November 13, 2021
Hannah gives her child back to God
1 Samuel 1 records the account of Hannah, who desperately wanted a child, a son:
'And she vowed a vow and said, “O Lord of hosts, if you will indeed look on the affliction of your servant and remember me and not forget your servant, but will give to your servant a son, then I will give him to the Lord all the days of his life...” '
1 Samuel 1:11
God answered her:
'And in due time Hannah conceived and bore a son, and she called his name Samuel, for she said, “I have asked for him from the Lord .” '
1 Samuel 1:20
Afterwards, she said to the priest,
'For this child I prayed, and the Lord has granted me my petition that I made to him. Therefore I have lent him to the Lord. As long as he lives, he is lent to the Lord.” '
1 Samuel 1:27-28
'And Hannah prayed and said, “My heart exults in the Lord ; my horn is exalted in the Lord. My mouth derides my enemies, because I rejoice in your salvation. “There is none holy like the Lord: for there is none besides you; there is no rock like our God. Talk no more so very proudly, let not arrogance come from your mouth; for the Lord is a God of knowledge, and by him actions are weighed. The bows of the mighty are broken, but the feeble bind on strength. Those who were full have hired themselves out for bread, but those who were hungry have ceased to hunger. The barren has borne seven, but she who has many children is forlorn. The Lord kills and brings to life; he brings down to Sheol and raises up. The Lord makes poor and makes rich; he brings low and he exalts. He raises up the poor from the dust; he lifts the needy from the ash heap to make them sit with princes and inherit a seat of honor. For the pillars of the earth are the Lord ’s, and on them he has set the world. “He will guard the feet of his faithful ones, but the wicked shall be cut off in darkness, for not by might shall a man prevail. '
1 Samuel 2:1-9
The name Hannah means grace or favor. Hannah’s character and her vow caught God’s attention, and He remembered her, giving her a child that she named Samuel, meaning “God has heard.”
Hannah honored her vow, giving Samuel to God by giving Him to the service of the priest Eli. God had answered her prayer, bringing her joy, and her song is recorded following her giving of her son back to God.
In saying her horn was exulted, as a bull’s would be after winning a battle, Hannah was celebrating the victory that God had brought to her. God had saved her and lifted her up through answering her heart’s cry: to give life to a son.
When Hannah said her mouth derides her enemies, she may have been referring to the other wife of her husband, of whom it is written: 'And her rival used to provoke her grievously to irritate her, because the Lord had closed her womb. '
1 Samuel 1:6
God was first in Hannah’s life. He was the rock on which she could rely, the One who made her strong, the One who provided (Jireh), the One who gave life and abundance, the sovereign One who made things right.
Hannah loved God, trusted Him, relied on Him to deliver her, and rejoiced in Him. She gave back to God His good gift to her.
She is an example of how a man or woman should respond to the grace of God.
God’s grace is the beautiful, gratuitous giving that is the divine outflowing of His nature. God’s grace leads to complete salvation of any who would put their faith and trust in Him.
Hannah knew God was generous, experienced His generosity, and was satisfied in it.
November 10, 2021
Be strong and courageous
Moses repeated to Joshua the message that God had given to him:
'Then Moses summoned Joshua and said to him in the sight of all Israel, “Be strong and courageous, for you shall go with this people into the land that the Lord has sworn to their fathers to give them, and you shall put them in possession of it. It is the Lord who goes before you. He will be with you; he will not leave you or forsake you. Do not fear or be dismayed.” '
God later gave this message to Joshua:
'No man shall be able to stand before you all the days of your life. Just as I was with Moses, so I will be with you. I will not leave you or forsake you. Be strong and courageous, for you shall cause this people to inherit the land that I swore to their fathers to give them. Only be strong and very courageous, being careful to do according to all the law that Moses my servant commanded you. Do not turn from it to the right hand or to the left, that you may have good success wherever you go. This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success. Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.” '
God told his people to be strong and courageous because He went before them and was with them. Nothing has changed in this regard. God’s love is steadfast, and He will not leave or forsake His people.
In light of this, God commanded His people not to fear.
The Apostle Paul wrote:
'for God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control. '
2 Timothy 1:7
The King James version replaces self-control with “a sound mind.”
Joshua also commanded God's people to be careful to do everything the Lord commanded them, linking their obedience to God to their success.
God is intrinsically linked with His words, the same ones that spoke life into being. The words of God’s moral law, the Ten Commandments included, commanded what was best for His people. God wanted His people to believe that He had their best in mind and act accordingly. Following God brought life, while choosing not to follow His law was sin, leading to death.
In not allowing God’s words to depart from their mouths or their thoughts, or to affect their actions, they were keeping their God who loved them and created them ever before them.
Loving and following God, believing He has our best in mind, still leads to success.
As one example, consider selfishness. Loving God and following His command to love and serve all people leads to less selfishness. What makes one the best kind of parent? One that isn’t selfish. What makes one the best kind of boss or leader? A less selfish one. What makes one the best kind of friend? An unselfish one. What about the best spouse? A less selfish one.
Followers of God must also consider what success is, since the common pursuit of happiness in the world just leaves one feeling empty, unlike the pursuit of the God who is and who brings one Life and Liberty. He is the Giver of every good and perfect gift.
“It is the Lord who goes before you. He will be with you; he will not leave you or forsake you.”
In the current times of the New Testament, God has an even better way of being with His people, His church. For those who choose Christ’s way over their own way, they receive the “riches” of the “mystery hidden for ages and generations,” “which is Christ in you, the hope of glory” (Colossians 1:26-27). The Spirit of Jesus Christ is in each member of His church, His own body.
Jesus is Life, and He has dominion over heaven and earth, so His church can be strong and courageous. He empowers His church to love God and to love and serve others just as He did. Like Joshua did as He led the people into the promised land, continuing to believe the words of God and act on them, Jesus has experienced only victory.
Since Jesus has victory in all things, the church (the body of believers who are in Christ) can be strong and courageous, and it will be successful. It will take possession of the promises of God and the riches of its inheritance.
November 7, 2021
The greatest commandment
' “Now this is the commandment—the statutes and the rules —that the Lord your God commanded me to teach you, that you may do them in the land to which you are going over, to possess it, that you may fear the Lord your God, you and your son and your son’s son, by keeping all his statutes and his commandments, which I command you, all the days of your life, and that your days may be long. Hear therefore, O Israel, and be careful to do them, that it may go well with you, and that you may multiply greatly, as the Lord, the God of your fathers, has promised you, in a land flowing with milk and honey. “Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise. You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.’
When Jesus was asked what was the greatest commandment, He referred to this passage in Deuteronomy: “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might.”
This was for the Jews and it’s for the church. God's people are to apply their will to loving God, letting it affect everything over which they have been given choice and control by God, both in soul (mind, will and emotions) and in body.
They should keep this love of God and His word ever before them and their families. Their attention should be directed on God and His word in every way. God should be an obsession of theirs. Their children should be taught to love God and know Him and His words. They should talk about God and His word all throughout the day, from when they rise to when they go to bed. The words of God should be written everywhere so their attention is on God and His words.
The blessings for the Israelites that came from faithful love and obedience to God, doing what His word commanded (see also James 1:25), were that things might go well with His people: long life, abundance, and multiplication. Other blessings follow in Deuteronomy:
' “And because you listen to these rules and keep and do them, the Lord your God will keep with you the covenant and the steadfast love that he swore to your fathers. He will love you, bless you, and multiply you. He will also bless the fruit of your womb and the fruit of your ground, your grain and your wine and your oil, the increase of your herds and the young of your flock, in the land that he swore to your fathers to give you. You shall be blessed above all peoples. There shall not be male or female barren among you or among your livestock. And the Lord will take away from you all sickness, and none of the evil diseases of Egypt, which you knew, will he inflict on you, but he will lay them on all who hate you. '
'The Lord will open to you his good treasury, the heavens, to give the rain to your land in its season and to bless all the work of your hands. And you shall lend to many nations, but you shall not borrow. And the Lord will make you the head and not the tail, and you shall only go up and not down, if you obey the commandments of the Lord your God, which I command you today, being careful to do them, '
God is a covenant keeping God. He is known for His steadfast love. Israel’s part of the covenant was love for God and obedience to His word, which simplifies to loving God and loving neighbor in the ways God directed.
According to the ways of God, this love in action on man’s part causes God to unleash the Life and blessing He wants to give to His people. This is God’s will being done on earth as it is in heaven (Matthew 6:10). The Father desires to give good gifts to His children (Matthew 7:11).
November 3, 2021
The bronze serpent
'From Mount Hor they set out by the way to the Red Sea, to go around the land of Edom. And the people became impatient on the way. And the people spoke against God and against Moses, “Why have you brought us up out of Egypt to die in the wilderness? For there is no food and no water, and we loathe this worthless food.” Then the Lord sent fiery serpents among the people, and they bit the people, so that many people of Israel died. And the people came to Moses and said, “We have sinned, for we have spoken against the Lord and against you. Pray to the Lord , that he take away the serpents from us.” So Moses prayed for the people. And the Lord said to Moses, “Make a fiery serpent and set it on a pole, and everyone who is bitten, when he sees it, shall live.” So Moses made a bronze serpent and set it on a pole. And if a serpent bit anyone, he would look at the bronze serpent and live. '
In many accounts from the Torah including this one, the Israelites who refused to go into the promised land seemed like a whiny bunch. Some of them became used to being provided for by God, and they had high expectations of Moses and for God’s level of service to them. It’s surprising that incidents of God’s judgement they witnessed, including Korah’s Rebellion (Numbers 16), where the earth opened up to consume many — and others were consumed by fire (v. 31-35) — weren’t enough to stop them. They had already been judged by God; they would never enter the promised land (Numbers 14:21-23,26-38).
On the occasion of the scripture selected for today, God allowed some of them to die by the way of bites from fiery serpents. Some of them came to Moses to ask for reprieve, admitting they had sinned against Moses and God. Moses agreed to talk to God on their behalf.
God asked Moses to make a fiery serpent and set it on a pole, so Moses made a bronze serpent and set it on a pole among the Israelites. By God’s design, if any fiery serpent bit anyone, they would look at the bronze serpent and live.
Jesus referred to this bronze serpent in this conversation with the Pharisee Nicodemus:
'And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so must the Son of Man be lifted up, that whoever believes in him may have eternal life. “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.” '
This bronze serpent was a type of Jesus Christ, who brought Life in its many forms. (By type, the following definition is intended: a person or thing symbolizing or exemplifying the ideal or defining characteristics of something.) When the Israelites were obedient to look at the bronze serpent, they were healed by the Life of God. They were quickened.
Even so, Jesus Christ, the Son of Man and Son of God, was the one chosen to be lifted up to bring Life (zoe) to whoever believes in Him. This salvation is more than the healing that the Israelites experienced, for they would go on to die in the desert anyway.
Faith in what Jesus did through the cross brings Life of every kind, including eternal life. God is Life. Choosing to trust and follow Jesus is choosing Life.