1 SAMUEL 24:1-25:44 | JOHN 10:22-42 | PSALM 116:1-19 | PROVERBS 15:20-21
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Why did Saul wish David dead? Fear of losing power? Fear that the people loved David more than him? Yes, those were Saul’s primary reasons for wishing David dead. It wasn’t because David had done him any harm. In spite of being anointed king of Israel by Samuel (possibly a few years before all this), David was a humble young man who had served Saul—first as the young son of Jesse who takes up the challenge to fight the giant Goliath and is victorious in that mission, then as the lyre-player to soothe the troubled mind of Saul.
Further still, he commands Saul’s armies to do battle with the Philistines and others and is victorious each time. He even becomes best friends with Saul’s son, Jonathan, and further still, he is a respectful son-in-law marrying Saul’s daughter, Michal. And for all this, how is David treated? He is treated badly—very badly! Saul is determined to kill David whom he views as his rival. And so, David has no choice but to flee. And it has been possibly months, perhaps even years since he began his flight, and over time, David has regrouped in several places, and now has a small following of men to his name.
Today, we find that Saul has come very close to capturing and killing David. With an army of three thousand men, he has finally come upon the place where David is known to be found. But wouldn’t you know it—the hunter becomes the hunted. It is David who comes upon Saul who is in a most vulnerable position, and it would have only been a matter of seconds for David to have struck him down. Had David truly been an evil man, he would most certainly have done so. But David had nothing to hide, and certainly nothing to fear. And so, David approaches Saul in a most respectful manner to ask why it is that the king of Israel is out to kill him.
And right then and there, there is an epiphany that takes place in Saul’s head and heart. He is a transformed man! This is what the record tells us; he says this to David: “Is that your voice, David my son?” And he wept aloud. 17 “You are more righteous than I,” he said. “You have treated me well, but I have treated you badly. 18 You have just now told me about the good you did to me; the LORD delivered me into your hands, but you did not kill me. 19 When a man finds his enemy, does he let him get away unharmed? May the LORD reward you well for the way you treated me today. 20 I know that you will surely be king and that the kingdom of Israel will be established in your hands. 21 Now swear to me by the LORD that you will not kill off my descendants or wipe out my name from my father’s family.”
Continuing with David’s story, we find a curious account of a man named Nabal and his wife Abigail. While Nabal is haughty and refuses to cooperate with David and his men, it is Abigail who takes matters into her own hands in order to prevent death and destruction from befalling her household. And as the story goes, it is not long before circumstances so arrange themselves that Abigail becomes a widow and a wife again—this time to David.
Earlier in this passage, we also learn about the passing away of Samuel in his old age. The end of another era…
Turning now to our reading in the book of John, we find that Jesus continues to baffle and incense some people who question his identity and his claims to Messiahship. No matter how straightforward or even how many times Jesus unequivocally states that he is indeed the Messiah, i.e., the Son of God, there are those who refuse to believe. There have been of course, many amazing miracles that Jesus has performed to which the reaction of the people is two-fold: some believe, and others do not.
The ones who do not believe are the ones who believe that Jesus is committing the sin of blasphemy by claiming to be the Messiah. And every so often, things begin to get out of hand and these self-righteous people begin to stone Jesus. Doing evil to the one who does good! How much more depraved could the people get!
But Jesus says to them: “I have shown you many good works from the Father. For which of these do you stone me?” And the people say: “We are not stoning you for any good work, but for blasphemy, because you, a mere man, claim to be God.”
Turning now to our psalm for the day, we find Psalm 116 to be one written in the most heartfelt and intimate way. The emotions are raw and unadulterated. This is one person’s open and honest account of his experience with his God. And what an amazing thing it is that several millenia later, these very same feelings are still so similar and strong in many of us who share David’s views. The entire psalm is reproduced here for a full meditation:
1 I love the LORD, for he heard my voice;
he heard my cry for mercy.
2 Because he turned his ear to me,
I will call on him as long as I live.
3 The cords of death entangled me,
the anguish of the grave came over me;
I was overcome by distress and sorrow.
4 Then I called on the name of the LORD:
“LORD, save me!”
5 The LORD is gracious and righteous;
our God is full of compassion.
6 The LORD protects the unwary;
when I was brought low, he saved me.
7 Return to your rest, my soul,
for the LORD has been good to you.
8 For you, LORD, have delivered me from death,
my eyes from tears,
my feet from stumbling,
9 that I may walk before the LORD
in the land of the living.
10 I trusted in the LORD when I said,
“I am greatly afflicted”;
11 in my alarm I said,
“Everyone is a liar.”
12 What shall I return to the LORD
for all his goodness to me?
13 I will lift up the cup of salvation
and call on the name of the LORD.
14 I will fulfill my vows to the LORD
in the presence of all his people.
15 Precious in the sight of the LORD
is the death of his faithful servants.
16 Truly I am your servant, LORD;
I serve you just as my mother did;
you have freed me from my chains.
17 I will sacrifice a thank offering to you
and call on the name of the LORD.
18 I will fulfill my vows to the LORD
in the presence of all his people,
19 in the courts of the house of the LORD—
in your midst, Jerusalem.
Praise the LORD.
Finally, a verse from the book of Proverbs that may serve as food for thought:
21 Folly brings joy to one who has no sense,
but whoever has understanding keeps a straight course.
May God bless the reading and reflection of His Word.