April 14, 2015

I Samuel 25-27 -  Samuel died. The whole country came to his funeral. Everyone grieved over his death, and he was buried in his hometown of Ramah. Meanwhile, David moved again, this time to the wilderness of Maon.  There was a certain man in Maon who carried on his business in the region of Carmel. He was very prosperous—three thousand sheep and a thousand goats, and it was sheep-shearing time in Carmel. The man’s name was Nabal (Fool), a Calebite, and his wife’s name was Abigail. The woman was intelligent and good-looking, the man brutish and mean.

David, out in the backcountry, heard that Nabal was shearing his sheep and sent ten of his young men off with these instructions: “Go to Carmel and approach Nabal. Greet him in my name,... Here’s the point: When your shepherds were camped near us we didn’t take advantage of them....What I’m asking is that you be generous with my men—share the feast! Give whatever your heart tells you to your servants and to me, David your son.’”....

Nabal tore into them, “Who is this David? Who is this son of Jesse? The country is full of runaway servants these days. Do you think I’m going to take good bread and wine and meat freshly butchered for my sheepshearers and give it to men I’ve never laid eyes on? Who knows where they’ve come from?”  David’s men got out of there and went back and told David what he had said. David said, “Strap on your swords!” They all strapped on their swords, David and his men, and set out, four hundred of them..... 

Meanwhile, one of the young shepherds told Abigail, Nabal’s wife, what had happened: ... Do something quickly because big trouble is ahead for our master and all of us. Nobody can talk to him. He’s impossible—a real brute!”  Abigail flew into action. She took two hundred loaves of bread, two skins of wine, five sheep dressed out and ready for cooking, a bushel of roasted grain, a hundred raisin cakes, and two hundred fig cakes, and she had it all loaded on some donkeys. Then she said to her young servants, “Go ahead and pave the way for me. I’m right behind you.” But she said nothing to her husband Nabal....

As soon as Abigail saw David, she got off her donkey and fell on her knees at his feet, her face to the ground in homage, saying, “My master, let me take the blame! Let me speak to you. Listen to what I have to say. Don’t dwell on what that brute Nabal did. He acts out the meaning of his name: Nabal, Fool. Foolishness oozes from him... Now take this gift that I, your servant girl, have brought to my master, and give it to the young men who follow in the steps of my master.  “Forgive my presumption! But God is at work in my master, developing a rule solid and dependable. My master fights God’s battles! As long as you live no evil will stick to you....“When God completes all the goodness he has promised my master and sets you up as prince over Israel, my master will not have this dead weight in his heart, the guilt of an avenging murder. And when God has worked things for good for my master, remember me.”... Then David accepted the gift she brought him and said, “Return home in peace. I’ve heard what you’ve said and I’ll do what you’ve asked.”

When Abigail got home she found Nabal presiding over a huge banquet. He was in high spirits—and very, very drunk. So she didn’t tell him anything of what she’d done until morning. But in the morning, after Nabal had sobered up, she told him the whole story. Right then and there he had a heart attack and fell into a coma. About ten days later God finished him off and he died....Then David sent for Abigail to tell her that he wanted her for his wife. David’s servants went to Abigail at Carmel with the message, “David sent us to bring you to marry him.”... Abigail didn’t linger. She got on her donkey and, with her five maids in attendance, went with the messengers to David and became his wife.

David also married Ahinoam of Jezreel. Both women were his wives. Saul had married off David’s wife Michal to Palti (Paltiel) son of Laish, who was from Gallim.

Some Ziphites came to Saul at Gibeah and said, “Did you know that David is hiding out on the Hakilah Hill just opposite Jeshimon?” Saul was on his feet in a minute and on his way to the wilderness of Ziph, taking three thousand of his best men, the pick of the crop, to hunt for David in that wild desert.... David, still out in the backcountry, knew Saul had come after him....Taking charge, David spoke to Ahimelech the Hittite and to Abishai son of Zeruiah, Joab’s brother: “Who will go down with me and enter Saul’s camp?” Abishai whispered, “I’ll go with you.”

So David and Abishai entered the encampment by night, and there he was—Saul, stretched out asleep at the center of the camp, his spear stuck in the ground near his head, with Abner and the troops sound asleep on all sides.

Abishai said, “This is the moment! God has put your enemy in your grasp.... But David said to Abishai, “Don’t you dare hurt him! Who could lay a hand on God’s anointed and even think of getting away with it?”  He went on, “As God lives, either God will strike him, or his time will come and he’ll die in bed, or he’ll fall in battle, but God forbid that I should lay a finger on God’s anointed. Now, grab the spear at his head and the water jug and let’s get out of here.”

David took the spear and water jug that were right beside Saul’s head, and they slipped away. Not a soul saw. Not a soul knew. No one woke up! They all slept through the whole thing. A blanket of deep sleep from God had fallen on them.  Then David went across to the opposite hill and stood far away on the top of the mountain. With this safe distance between them, he shouted across to the army and Abner son of Ner, “Hey, Abner! How long do I have to wait for you to wake up and answer me?”...By now, Saul had recognized David’s voice and said, “Is that you, my son David?”

David said, “Yes, it’s me, O King, my master. Why are you after me, hunting me down? What have I done? What crime have I committed? Oh, my master, my king, listen to this from your servant: If God has stirred you up against me, then I gladly offer my life as a sacrifice. But if it’s men who have done it, let them be banished from God’s presence! ...

Saul confessed, “I’ve sinned! Oh, come back, my dear son David! I won’t hurt you anymore. You’ve honored me this day, treating my life as most precious. And I’ve acted the fool—a moral dunce, a real clown.” David answered, “See what I have here? The king’s spear. Let one of your servants come and get it. It’s God’s business to decide what to do with each of us in regard to what’s right and who’s loyal. God put your life in my hands today, but I wasn’t willing to lift a finger against God’s anointed. Just as I honored your life today, may God honor my life and rescue me from all trouble.”

Saul said to David, “Bless you, dear son David! Yes, do what you have to do! And, yes, succeed in all you attempt!”  Then David went on his way, and Saul went home....

So David left; he and his six hundred men went to Achish son of Maoch, king of Gath. They moved in and settled down in Gath, with Achish....So Achish assigned him Ziklag. (This is how Ziklag got to be what it is now, a city of the kings of Judah.) David lived in Philistine country a year and four months....

From time to time David and his men raided the Geshurites, the Girzites, and the Amalekites...When David raided an area he left no one alive, neither man nor woman, but took everything else: sheep, cattle, donkeys, camels, clothing—the works. Then he’d return to Achish... He never left a single person alive lest one show up in Gath and report what David had really been doing. This is the way David operated all the time he lived in Philistine country....

 

I Corinthians 4 - Don’t imagine us leaders to be something we are not.  We are servants of Christ, not his masters.  We are guides into God’s most sublime secrets, not security guards posted to protect them.  The requirements for a good guide are reliability and accurate knowledge.  It matters very little to me what you think of me, even less where I rank in popular opinion....

Comparisons in these matters are pointless...So don’t get ahead of the Master and jump to conclusions with your judgments before all the evidence is in.  When he comes, he will bring out in the open and place in evidence all kinds of things we never even dreamed of--inner motives and purposes and prayers.  Only then will any one of us get to hear the “Well done!” of God.  

All I am doing right now, friends is showing how these things pertain to us so that you will learn restraint and not rush to making judgments without knowing al the facts.  It’s important to look at things from God’s point of view...

For who do you know that really knows you, knows your heart?  And even if they did, is there anything they would discover in you that you could take credit for?  Isn’t everything you have and everything you are sheer gifts from God?  So what is the point of all this comparing and competing?  You already have all you need.  You already have more access to God than you can handle....

It seems to me that God has put us who bear his Message on stage in a theater in which no one wants to buy a ticket.  We are something everyone stands around and stares at, like an accident in the street.  We’re the Messiah’s misfitsl....When others spread rumors about us, we put in a good word for them.  We’re treated like garbage, potato peelings from the culture’s kitchen.  And it’s not getting any better.....

I’m writing as a father to you, my children, I love you and want you to grow up well, not spoiled.  There are a lot of people around who can’t wait to tell you what you’ve done wrong, but there aren’t many fathers willing to take the time and effort to help you grow up.  It was as Jesus helped me proclaim God’s Message to you that I became your father.  I’m not, you know, asking you to do what I’m not already doing myself....

I know there are some among you who are so full of themselves they never listen to anyone, let alone me....God’s way is not a matter of mere talk, it’s an empowered life.  So how should I prepare to come to you?  As a severe disciplinarian who makes you toe the mark?  Or as a good friend and counselor who wants to share heart-to-heart with you?  You decide.