This week – the lady who saved David’s bacon!.. life of a fugitive.. cost of unfaithful leadership.. and more…
DAY ONE – 1 Samuel 25-27, Psalms 17, 73
It wasn’t Abigail’s fault that she was married to a fool. Young women in those days were given in marriage by their fathers. But her beauty and character stand out in the wake of her intercession. She saved an entire household by her humble entreaty to a king. Yes, David was already anointed king, but he had not yet come into his calling; he was still running for his life from Saul, whose pursuit was mind-numbing. Wanting only to sustain his six hundred warrior followers, David sent word to Nabal (fool), whose herdsmen he had protected and sheltered during their time with the sheep, asking for provisions. Nabal instead cursed David and his men, totally unfeeling, uncaring. Not good. David’s response was immediate and dire. His warriors strapped on their swords and followed David as they marched toward Nabal’s place, intending to dispatch all of them. When Abigail heard, she quickly prepared a gift for David and sent it ahead of her, following secretly without Nabal’s knowledge. Coming to David, she bowed low and began to explain the circumstances, imploring the young king not to sully himself by dealing with such a fool as Nabal; but to leave him in Yahweh God’s hands. Intercession is powerful, thoughtful and demanding. It required all of her power to persuade David to relent, which he did–and wisely so. For within a few days following, Nabal was dead, but his household was saved. And soon, Abigail became David’s wife.
Intercession–Entreaty in favor of another, especially a prayer or petition to God in behalf of another. (Dict. Pro) The truth is, Nabal did not deserve his wife’s kind consideration; no, she was interceding for an entire household consisting of many families of servants and others. She stood before a king; she gave a wise petition and prayer. The king responded wisely, saving his own reputation and character. God intervened; Nabal died. Abigail was wed to the king. Hello? Does any of this ring out to us? Can we see that intercession has always been one of our Lord’s gifts to shape our character and turn evil aside? Do we understand that humble entreaty turns the hearts of kings and lords? Not only does it influence the course of the present, it can also affect the future. Abigail took her life in her hands to approach the king; in doing so she saved her life. Yahweh God used Abigail; will he use us as well to be intercessors? Intercession saves people; it saves families… and even nations. What do you have to do today that is better than interceding for someone? A caring heart… a little time… an earnest prayer–that is intercession.
DAY TWO – Psalms 35, 54, 63, 18
David is camping in the wilderness of Judah, traveling lightly; he is hiding in a cave at En Gedi, near the dead sea; he is roving the hills, knowing that the king who is hot for his life is just on the other side of the mountain with 3,000 soldiers! Month after month, year after year, the trial of endurance persists. He and his men are fugitives; they can’t return home. Dinner has to wait; the children watch in vain for their daddy; the family is sundered by violence. How long, O Yahweh God? What would you say if this was one of us? What would our prayers sound like? Or would we even pray? Let’s eavesdrop on David during one of his meditations in the wilderness: Psalm 63:1-6 God, you are my God. I will earnestly seek you. My soul thirsts for you. My flesh longs for you, in a dry and weary land, where there is no water. 2 So I have seen you in the sanctuary, watching your power and your glory. 3 Because your loving kindness is better than life, my lips shall praise you. 4 So I will bless you while I live. I will lift up my hands in your name. 5 My soul shall be satisfied as with the richest food. My mouth shall praise you with joyful lips, 6 when I remember you on my bed, and think about you in the night watches. Does this sound like a beleaguered man? Are these words of a fugitive who has been hounded like a common criminal? I don’t think so. I pray these sentiments from a place of relative safety; I come home at night; my family is near; my needs are met. What do I know–other than the suggestive scenes I see on TV of refugees trekking mindlessly toward safety with only what they can carry? They and their little ones can only hope to live again. Is one of them praying this prayer with David, calling out to Yahweh in the name of Jesus? Are their meditations filled with thanksgiving and praise to God? Would mine be? Sobering.
It doesn’t take much thought to remind us of how truly blessed we are every day. Thankfully David has filled his writings with exultations to and exaltations of God. Praise rises easily from his heart; his hands extend toward heaven; his voice intones the greatness of the One whose “lovingkindness is better than life” itself. I like to ‘hang out’ with the young king-to-be, to pray and praise with him, to catch and imbibe his exultant spirit, to join him in his meditations. David’s is the full panoply of human emotions with God always at the center. May his words bless you as they have me.
DAY THREE – 1 Samuel 28-31, 1 Chronicles 10
A sea change is imminent: it appears Israel’s time has run out. With Saul at the helm Israel has declined and become vulnerable, since Yahweh God has departed from Saul and is supporting David. The Philistines will unwittingly become servants of God to take out Saul’s regime and to make room for David to ascend to the throne. Saul, dejected, miserable and way out of sorts, finally resorts to a medium when he cannot contact Yahweh God. When the spirit of Samuel, the lately deceased prophet and judge, is called up, he utters a doomsday message to the fearful king, which is fulfilled the next day in battle. Saul and his three sons are killed, the army flees, and the Philistines move into the land in complete domination. Meanwhile, David and his 600 men have returned to their city of Ziklag to discover it burned with fire and all their families and possessions taken by a band of Amalekites. Unlike Saul, David now turns to Yahweh and asks the help of Abiathar the priest to determine a proper course of action. Assured that ALL will be recovered, they immediately move out. By the next evening, the Amalekites have been destroyed and, as Yahweh predicted, all has been recovered. Wow! Can we not see that turning our life over to God and living in relationship with Him is a wise course of action? Our text clearly demonstrates that Saul’s destiny was sealed when he openly disobeyed God’s orders while on divine mission. His future was totally altered so that God might preserve His plan to save the world. By the way, David did NOT know what had befallen Saul and his sons. David’s ascension was now virtually guaranteed with Saul out of the way. And remember that David had at least two opportunities to destroy Saul but refused because Saul had been blessed by God to be king.
Proverbs 3:3-8 Don’t let kindness and truth forsake you. Bind them around your neck. Write them on the tablet of your heart. 4 So you will find favor, and good understanding in the sight of God and man. 5 Trust in Yahweh with all your heart, and don’t lean on your own understanding. 6 In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight. 7 Don’t be wise in your own eyes. Fear Yahweh, and depart from evil. 8 It will be health to your body, and nourishment to your bones.
DAY FOUR – Psalms 121, 123, 124, 125, 128, 129, 130 (Variously called Songs of Steps, Degrees, Ascents; sung as worshippers made the trek up to the house of God)
What’s at the Center? Sometimes we talk of being ‘centered.’ Just what does that mean–centered? I think we mean that there is a reference point within us around which everything else must find its place. We will always revert to our center to find balance and stability in life. We will look for whatever we need at the center. For David one Name stands out–Yahweh. God was at his center; all of life’s circumstances and events brought David back to his Center–Yahweh God. His life and writings are so full of the Lord Yahweh that we cannot find anything else as his pivot point. Whether he is talking about life, or protection, or provision, or refuge, or deliverance, or salvation, or an object of worship and praise–it is always Yahweh. When carrying on a conversation it was with Yahweh. When referring to creation, Yahweh was Creator of heaven and earth. David had a center, and God was always in it. Even when he sinned or found reason for self-loathing, God filled his thoughts and was the explanation for his emotions and actions. God was the Center of David’s life; there is no question about that. And in that, he became a precursor or type of Jesus Christ, who was God come down to earth from heaven. For Jesus, the Father, God was always at the Center of His life. And He said in effect that when we find Him we find Life–that is, our Center. If our Center is Jesus Christ the Lord, life may swirl around us, touch us, capture us, even bless us; but our destiny is intact, because our destiny is at the Center of our existence. When Jesus is the Center, our destiny is unassailable. David’s life taken in its entirety shows that, clearly and distinctly.
Psalm 121:5-8 Yahweh is your keeper. Yahweh is your shade on your right hand. 6 The sun will not harm you by day, nor the moon by night. 7 Yahweh will keep you from all evil. He will keep your soul. 8 Yahweh will keep your going out and your coming in, from this time forward, and forever more.
DAY FIVE – 2 Samuel 1-4
The transfer of power is always a messy business in the world of mankind. It was also in the era of the kings of Israel. Saul, Israel’s first king, and his son Jonathan–a soul brother of David–both fell on Mt. Gilboa in a battle with the Philistines, who lived along Israel’s southwestern coast. Already anointed as successor to Saul, David went up to Hebron with his wives and his army, along with their families, and became king over Judah, who swore loyalty to him. However, Saul’s general Abner lifted up Ishbosheth, Saul’s younger son, to be king over Benjamin and all Israel. So the kingdom was divided, and a war of attrition was fought. It too was messy, consuming the lives of strong fighting men and releasing vengeance over the loss of family blood. It’s no fun, really, reading this eventful account. Through it all David refused to join the partisan fighting and vengeful actions. Knowing that Yahweh God was the divine sovereign and that He ruled in the affairs of mankind, David trusted God to bring about the kingdom in His own time. And God did. David meanwhile mourned the loss of fighting men in both armies, attending their funerals and behaving appropriately, leaving a deep impression on the entire nation. He wrote songs to commemorate the loss of Saul and Jonathan and also of Abner, Saul’s general.
Exulting over the transfer of power without mourning the mess it often creates leaves people angry and confused. Such is our world of politics today–partisan fighting, choosing sides, destroying good people, all in the name of holding power over the nation. It’s time we mourn the process, even while we are trying to forward an agenda and get certain candidates elected! In the end, all power belongs to God, and we are here because of His mercy and grace. Judgments we deserve are withheld. Blessings we don’t deserve He shares abundantly, knowing the state of our broken world, which persists until the final and eternal kingdom of our Lord Jesus Christ is fully established. In the meantime, humility and repentance go a long way toward healing and peace, regardless our agendas and political preferences. It’s time the world sees that we really do trust God to finish all He has started, and to act accordingly in good faith.