TODAY’S READING: I SAMUEL 15-17
Saul’s disobedience costs him the kingdom; God chooses David to be king; David kills Goliath.
HIGHLIGHTS & INSIGHTS:
These three chapters are some of the most dramatic happenings in all of scripture. Here God rejects a king, appoints another one to replace him out of obscurity, and instantaneously promotes the new king-elect in the eyes of the entire nation of Israel.
Each of these stories has been preached on numerous times because of the very clear messages that God is sending in each of them. In Chapter 15, God gives King Saul a very clear command to totally annihilate the enemy, and by all outside appearances it looks as if Saul is going to obey God. He gathers the troops, confidently prepares them and courageously leads them to battle, but out of victory, Saul snatches ultimate defeat. After the hard part is done and the battle is won and while Saul is in total control, he “reinterprets” God’s command in order to do something that better suits his taste. He keeps some of the spoils of battle, and with his own desires fulfilled, he leaves forever behind the hand of God upon his life.
Ringing in his ears are Samuel’s words, “to obey is better than sacrifice,” while we go on to read what Saul did not understand at the time. “Samuel came no more to see Saul until the day of his death.” How ironic. (Note that Romans 12 makes obedience and sacrifice one when we are “beseeched” to present our bodies a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable unto God, which is our reasonable service.)
And the irony only intensifies by the last verse of I Samuel 16 when the only cure for King Saul’s oppression from the evil spirit was the beautiful harp playing of David – the young man, who unbeknownst to Saul, was God’s choice for king.
As the emphasis in the scripture forever shifts from Saul to David, it is thrilling to note what is at the heart of this shift – the heart. While Saul was a choice that was easy on the eye, David was a man after God’s own heart. (16:7 – But the LORD said unto Samuel, Look not on his countenance, or on the height of his stature; because I have refused him (Saul): for the LORD seeth not as man seeth; for man looketh on the outward appearance, but the LORD looketh on the heart.) I Sam. 13:14 is where Saul is disqualified over the heart issue, and I Sam. 12: 24 has God urging Saul to keep his heart right. Obviously, God is serious about the state of our inner being, since “heart” is in the scriptures 765 times, and it seldom refers to the physical blood pumping muscle!
With the whole heart issue in mind, we launch into the story of “David and Goliath”, which should be renamed, “David and His Motivations.” While this history is often recounted emphasizing the fact that David desired to defend the name of God against the big, bad, evil Goliath who defied the God of Israel, his motivations seem quite different when we examine the emphasis the scripture puts on David’s discussions around the campfire prior to taking on the giant. Three times David is told what will be done for the man who defeats Goliath (twice David asks). (I Sam. 17:25-30) And to make the point even stronger, David’s eldest brother accuses him of having a bad heart attitude right in the middle of these discussions about the booty for killing the giant. It is clear that God is strongly endorsing the fact that rewards often naturally accompany doing right by God and we do not need to
shy away from them or apologize for being motivated by them as long as we are not perverted by them from doing God’s will.
CHRIST IS REVEALED:
Through DAVID’S NAME, which means “BELOVED” – I Sam. 16:13 (Matt. 3:17;17:5; Mark 1:11; 9:7; Luke 3:22; 9:35)