Sin and Lying to Ourselves

Even though David was a man after God’s own heart, the narrative of his life is dominated, more than any other single event, by his sin with Bathsheba.  One of the great heroes of Scripture is led by lust to commit adultery and murder.  This was disastrous for David, and it should be sobering for us.  If he fell so spectacularly, can any of us imagine that we are above falling? Continue reading

God Doesn’t Need Our Help

David was a man after God’s own heart, but even a heart that sincerely desires to serve can lead us astray.  We see David betrayed by his good intentions in 1 Samuel 7.  There, he decides that, now that he has constructed his own palace, he ought to build a permanent temple for God.

To human wisdom, this sounds like a great idea.  It’s only fair to give God a dwelling place equal to David’s, right?  Even the prophet Nathan endorses it.

However, God disagrees.  He points out to David that never did He instruct His people to build him a house of cedar (note that the implication of silence here is, “Don’t do it.”).  In fact, David has it backwards.  David isn’t going to build God a house.  God is going to build David a house, an enduring line of kingly descendants.  This promise culminates in the Christ being born of the lineage of David. Continue reading

Strengthening Ourselves in God

The fame of David will probably continue for as long as the world does, but I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t want to swap lives with him.  Of the various highs and lows of the life of David, perhaps the lowest point comes in 1 Samuel 30:1-6.  By this point, Saul’s paranoia has driven David out of Israel entirely, even though he has done nothing wrong.  In the previous chapter, David’s new overlord, Achish king of Gath, shows that he doesn’t trust David either, even though David once again has done nothing wrong.  This does not bode well for David’s future with Achish! Continue reading

Twisted up by Evil People

When we read the Bible, we learn about some people we simply have to feel sorry for.  Hosea has to marry a prostitute.  Jeremiah has to faithfully proclaim God’s message to a wicked nation that doesn’t want to hear it and will kill him for saying it.  And so on.

On the list, though, we must include Saul’s son Jonathan.  From beginning to end of his life, he seems like a high-character guy.  The major sins that mar the reigns of Saul and even David are absent from his life.  Continue reading

What God Sees

One of the great themes of 1 Samuel is the difference between personal appearance and personal worth.  Saul gained immediate approval as king of Israel because he stood head and shoulders above everybody else.  In the words of Shakespeare, he was every inch a king.  However, he failed the tests of kingship, revealing only his moral and spiritual shortcomings.

After Saul’s failure to obey in 1 Samuel 15, God sends Samuel out to anoint Saul’s replacement.  However, even though Samuel has witnessed Saul’s failure, he fails to draw the correct conclusion.  When God directs him to the sons of Jesse, he again evaluates the candidates on the basis of appearance.

In response, God makes the point that Samuel has missed.  He says, “For the Lord sees not as man sees:  man looks on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart.”  God isn’t concerned with height or attractiveness.  He cares about character instead. Continue reading

Committing to the Wrong Things

When we consider the unhappy record of the life of Saul, we see that he is a man who fails to keep faith with God.  He’s willing to follow God when it’s easy, but whenever things get difficult, he disobeys rather than confront the difficulty.  In 1 Samuel 13, he offers the sacrifice that only a priest had a right to offer because he is worried about the Philistine army bearing down on him.  In 1 Samuel 15, he spares the king and the livestock that God explicitly told him to kill.  In 1 Samuel 28, he seeks out the witch of En-dor even though he knows very well that consulting a medium is against God’s law (and, indeed, has enforced that law himself).  From beginning to end, he is a man deficient in moral courage. Continue reading