Posts Tagged ‘Samuel’


Pressures work to develop us as a Disciple of Jesus Christ. How you respond to pressure says a lot about your character, but more than anything, it allows the virtue of Jesus Christ to be your virtue. None of us is born for crisis, or pressure. None of us can naturally handle pressure. If you think you can handle pressure, then you have a wrong attitude toward discipleship. Discipleship is not about building you up so you can handle pressure; it is about humbling you into total dependence upon the one who can handle all pressures, even the ones that are most damaging to us, the Reproofs of God.

Pressure refines the Dross from our life, revealing the Gold

God always designs Pressure to produce His Righteousness in us. The key is HIS righteousness! He has placed Gold in our veins, in our Spirit, and in our Soul. Our fleshly wisdom and ideas, our wrong friends, our wrong habits, our pride, our foolishness, all get in the way of that GOLD shining! He wants us to be GOLDEN, and gold requires the refining process to reveal it. You are already GOLD if Jesus lives in you; God simply wants to reveal him. Moreover, that requires the pressure of the refiner’s fire.

1 Peter 1:6-7 In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials, so that the tested genuineness of your faith—more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire—may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ.

Pressures Reveal our True Hope

More than anything Pressure reveals what are real hope is. And hope is the reason for faith.

JB Phillips translates Hebrews 11:1 this way: “Now faith means putting our full confidence in the things we hope for, it means being certain of things we cannot see.”

Discipleship is all about living a life in total dependence and hope in Jesus Christ.

  • God designs pressures to test what we are hoping in.
  • God designs pressures to reveal that we are hoping in the wrong things.
Health Pressures.
  • You can place your hope and trust in Doctors, but what happens when they make a mistake, or make a wrong diagnosis.
  • You can place your hope in drugs, prescriptive or otherwise, but they can cause problems, or lead to dependence and abuse.
Financial Pressures
  • You can place your hope in the banking system-credit cards, home equity loans, line of credit, but what happens when they fail, or tighten their standards, or the home value is falling?
  • You can place your hope in friends, charity of churches or neighbors, but you can’t keep going to them for a handout.
  • You can place your hope in the Government and its “safety nets,” but what if there are cutbacks?

Relational Pressures – Job Pressures – Church Pressures …All are designed by God to reveal true hope or false hope, real faith or pretend. Most of all, Pressures are designed to Develop you as a Disciple of Jesus Christ and cause you to rely on Jesus Christ.

God’s Way is Enlargement through Pressure

Many Christians do not see God’s purpose for Pressure. Some Christians go out of their way to avoid pressure in their life. “Not good for my health, etc…”

That is not God’s Way. God uses pressure to develop us as Disciples. Psalm 25:4 “Make me to know your ways, O LORD; teach me your paths.” Discipleship is about knowing the ways of God and allowing Him to teach you His paths for your life. We will not learn the paths for our life if we do not pay close attention to the lessons He has for us.

For example, what happened in the fiery furnace that Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego were forced into? Three became four. Pressure brought enlargement. Some would find a furnace too confining, so they try to escape. They do not respond to fire, pressure, and limitations. Others accept the pressure, the limitations, and by accepting, make room for a Fourth.

  • Enlargement through Pressure happens when we do not allow difficulties to shut us out from God.
  • Enlargement through pressure happens when we allow them to shut us INTO God.

Either pressure will cause you to reach God’s goal, or Pressure can put an end to your discipleship journey. When the way is too straight, the pressure too great, some escape, give up, commit suicide, while others find fullness and growth. When trials are too tough, some murmur, seeing only their limitations. Others praise God for the trials, and in so doing discover the pathways to enlargement, liberation and abundance of life. On your discipleship journey, is your spiritual vitality being enlarged or is it shrinking? How have you responded to pressures?

The Way of Man often leads to “Spittin the Dummy”

The Way of Man is Losing it – go to pieces, run away, drown your troubles, get high, get low, strike back, kick the dog, hit the wife, lash out. Australians have a saying, you are “Spittin the Dummy” — a “dummy” is Australian for a child’s pacifier. You lost your cool, you spit the pacifier out and now you are crying like a Baby.[1]

The Contrast of David and Saul

In 1 Samuel 28-31, we find both David and Saul under tremendous pressure, overwhelming pressure. One becomes enlarged; the other becomes smaller and dies. One spits the dummy, the other admits he is a dummy and turns to God. When you resist the pressure of God and try to escape in your own way or through your own means, you die spiritually. You become a disciple who “shrinks back,” who takes his hand from the plow, who looks back and turns into a pillar of salt. You become a Dummy “spittin the dummy.”

We often quote Proverbs 3:5 & 6, but we need to go on to 7 & 8.

Proverbs 3:5-8 Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths. Be not wise in your own eyes; fear the LORD, and turn away from evil. It will be healing to your flesh and refreshment to your bones.

Lean not on your own understanding means not being wise in your own eyes. Walking in straight paths means turning away from evil. Trusting in the Lord brings healing to this body and strength to our bones. It will enlarge our life if we acknowledge Him even in the midst of great pressure. Accepting limitations and pressures in total dependence upon God will always allow for an addition in your life.

One becomes Two. Three become Four. Pressure enlarges our Life.

David & Saul Face the Ultimate Test for a Disciple

David is Close to Losing it

God is about to force David off the fence.

1 Samuel 28:1-2 In those days the Philistines gathered their forces for war, to fight against Israel. And Achish said to David, “Understand that you and your men are to go out with me in the army.” David said to Achish, “Very well, you shall know what your servant can do.” And Achish said to David, “Very well, I will make you my bodyguard for life.”.

David doesn’t back down, but affirms that he is going to impress Achish as they battle David’s brother’s, the Jews. Achish is so impressed, that he makes David his personal bodyguard for life. David will be fighting right along Achish. David’s pride is dangerously close to causing a fatal error in his discipleship journey.

The Settler, the Skewer, the Stinker was about to be forced into fighting against his own people. God was about to reveal the compromising hypocrisy of a Disciple who had taken his eyes off His Promises. David is days away from facing God’s Ultimate Test for His discipleship.

When a believer compromises his walk with God, it will not only place you in harm’s way, but your pride will cause you to defend the very things that are an abomination to God. David was now defending Achish, a sworn enemy of God and His people.

King Saul is Definitely Losing it

Meanwhile, back in Israel, King Saul is getting desperate. Samuel the Prophet was dead. The Priests were all dead, killed by Doeg at Saul’s command. King Saul had tried to get direction from God, but God was ignoring him.

1 Samuel 28:3-6 Now Samuel had died, and all Israel had mourned for him and buried him in Ramah, his own city. And Saul had put the mediums and the necromancers out of the land. The Philistines assembled and came and encamped at Shunem. And Saul gathered all Israel, and they encamped at Gilboa. When Saul saw the army of the Philistines, he was afraid, and his heart trembled greatly. And when Saul inquired of the LORD, the LORD did not answer him, either by dreams, or by Urim, or by prophets.

Saul is at the end of himself. He is so frightened that his heart is racing (the Hebrew implies). I believe he is experiencing arrhythmia:

  • Palpitations (a feeling of skipped heartbeats, fluttering or “flip-flops,” or feeling that your heart is “running away”).
  • Pounding in your chest.
  • Dizziness or feeling light-headed.
  • Fainting.
  • Shortness of breath.
  • Chest discomfort.
  • Weakness or fatigue (feeling very tired).

Was Saul fearful because of what could happen to his people, his nation? I believe the evidence suggests his fear was entirely self-centered. He feared for his life, he was not reacting as a true leader should. As with God, Saul’s focus was upon his needs and concerns, rather than God and His people.

1 Samuel 15:23 For rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft, and stubbornness is as iniquity and idolatry. Because thou hast rejected the word of the LORD, he hath also rejected thee from being king.

1 Samuel 15:26-28 And Samuel said to Saul, “I will not return with you. For you have rejected the word of the LORD, and the LORD has rejected you from being king over Israel.” As Samuel turned to go away, Saul seized the skirt of his robe, and it tore. And Samuel said to him, “The LORD has torn the kingdom of Israel from you this day and has given it to a neighbor of yours, who is better than you.

Samuel made an interesting statement… Samuel told Saul that his neighbor was better than he was.

Does God play favorites??  

What makes one SINFUL MAN better than another SINFUL MAN?

Look at David. He is compromising, he has distanced himself from God, he has disobeyed God, and he has bloodied his sword with innocent blood. Why is he any better than Saul? Why should David be blessed and Saul cursed? Why should David rise to be King and Saul fall in battle?

The Ultimate Test for a Disciple is How You Respond to the Pressure of God’s Reproofs.

This is the key to intimacy with God and knowing and enjoying His Blessing. This will make you better than your neighbor who responds to pressure with a self-focused response.

Proverbs 1:22-33 How long, ye simple ones, will ye love simplicity? and the scorners delight in their scorning, and fools hate knowledge? Turn you at my reproof: behold, I will pour out my spirit unto you, I will make known my words unto you. Because I have called, and ye refused; I have stretched out my hand, and no man regarded; But ye have set at nought all my counsel, and would none of my reproof: I also will laugh at your calamity; I will mock when your fear cometh; When your fear cometh as desolation, and your destruction cometh as a whirlwind; when distress and anguish cometh upon you. Then shall they call upon me, but I will not answer; they shall seek me early, but they shall not find me: For that they hated knowledge, and did not choose the fear of the LORD: They would none of my counsel: they despised all my reproof. Therefore shall they eat of the fruit of their own way, and be filled with their own devices. For the turning away of the simple shall slay them, and the prosperity of fools shall destroy them. But whoso hearkeneth unto me shall dwell safely, and shall be quiet from fear of evil.

To Reprove: To voice or convey disapproval of; rebuke

How do you handle the Pressure of Reproof?

Hebrews 12:5-7 And have you forgotten the exhortation that addresses you as sons? “My son, do not regard lightly the discipline of the Lord, nor be weary when reproved by him. For the Lord disciplines the one he loves, and chastises every son whom he receives.” It is for discipline that you have to endure. God is treating you as sons. For what son is there whom his father does not discipline?

King Saul Despises the Pressure of Reproof because his focus is upon himself.

No appeal to God on behalf of the Nation; No appeal to God on behalf of His Name. No appeal to God to deal with the Enemy. No appeal to God for mercy, justice or righteousness. Saul NEVER learned the ways of God. So what does self-focused Saul do?

1 Samuel 28:7-14 Saul then said to his advisers, “Find a woman who is a medium, so I can go and ask her what to do.” His advisers replied, “There is a medium at Endor.” So Saul disguised himself by wearing ordinary clothing instead of his royal robes. Then he went to the woman’s home at night, accompanied by two of his men. “I have to talk to a man who has died,” he said. “Will you call up his spirit for me?” “Are you trying to get me killed?” the woman demanded. “You know that Saul has outlawed all the mediums and all who consult the spirits of the dead. Why are you setting a trap for me?” But Saul took an oath in the name of the LORD and promised, “As surely as the LORD lives, nothing bad will happen to you for doing this.” Finally, the woman said, “Well, whose spirit do you want me to call up?” “Call up Samuel,” Saul replied. When the woman saw Samuel, she screamed, “You’ve deceived me! You are Saul!” “Don’t be afraid!” the king told her. “What do you see?” “I see a god coming up out of the earth,” she said. “What does he look like?” Saul asked. “He is an old man wrapped in a robe,” she replied. Saul realized it was Samuel, and he fell to the ground before him.

Saul is not only “spittin the dummy,” He is “crackin a fruity” (More Aussie slang for ‘Go crazy, insane, weird.’[2] He is so desperate he is acting insane. He needs some guidance and he wants to conjure up Samuel! He goes to a “witch” to do so! 

Saul presses full speed ahead and violates God’s Law, violates his own law, endangers the life of the medium, lies to the medium, and disturbs eternity in the process. If this were a science fiction movie, we would start to see a fissure crack between the two universes.

God had said this: “Thou shalt not suffer a witch to live” (Exodus 22, 18). What used to happen was if a person was found to be a witch or a man was found to be practicing as a wizard, God said they must be put to death – capital punishment was carried out.

Now Why Did Saul seek out this Witch contrary to God’s Word and his own command?

  1. Unconverted?: He was never converted to trusting Faith in God. (Some would disagree) Many professed Christians use astrology and even consult ‘psychics’ (Nancy Regan). However, why would God anoint a heathen as the first King of Israel, the throne His Son would later sit upon?
  2. Fear: Fear causes us to do and say things we normally would not do. Lawyers use the term ‘duress’ as a means of showing their clients were not acting in their right mind.
  3. Trusted in Man rather than God: He thought if he could just get Samuel’s blessing, he could prevail against the Philistines. He was hoping in man, just as he had done all his reign as King. He knew the Philistines had him outnumbered. He hoped that Samuel could appeal to God on his behalf.

The Hebrew phrase for find a woman of familiar spirit is “ʾishshâ baʿalâ ʾôb”. She literally is “mother to spirit” or “container to a spirit”. She is able to conjure up a spirit because she is a container/channel of the “spirit world.”

Job (32:19) uses ‘obe’ as a bottle that may burst under pressure. They were searching for a woman who was a container of a conjured spirit. She was a necromancer, able to speak with dead spirits. Often these were people skilled at ventriloquism, able to throw their voice as if someone else was speaking in a room.

ʾôb̠: A masculine noun meaning a conjured spirit, a medium or necromancer; or a leather bottle. The primary use of the word is connected to the occult practice of necromancy or consulting the dead. It is used to signify a conjurer who professes to call up the dead by means of magic, especially to give revelation about future uncertainties (1 Sam. 28:7; Isa. 8:19); a man or woman who has a familiar spirit (Lev. 20:27; 1 Chr. 10:13; Isa. 29:4); the conjured spirit itself, particularly when speaking through the medium (1 Sam. 28:8; 2 Kgs 21:6; 2 Chr. 33:6). The Israelites were strictly forbidden from engaging in such practices or consulting mediums (Lev. 19:31; Deut. 18:10-12). Interestingly, the word is used once to signify a leather bottle that may burst under pressure (Job 32:19). There is no convincing evidence that this particular reference has any occult connotations. Rather, the connection between the two divergent meanings of this Hebrew word is probably that a medium was seen as a “container” for a conjured spirit.[3]

I think it is so telling of God that a man blowing his top in a pressure situation is looking for a woman who contains an ‘obe’, for this ‘obe’ is about to ‘crack a fruity’ all over Saul’s head.

Here are my thoughts on what happened:

Saul disguises himself and asks this medium to conjure up Samuel. She goes into the back room where she does her mumbo-jumbo thing. I think she is about to throw her voice to pretend its Samuel when the real Samuel appears.

The Keil and Delitzsch Commentary on the Old Testament says:

The woman then commenced her conjuring arts. She cried aloud at the form which appeared to her so unexpectedly. These words imply most unquestionably that the woman saw an apparition which she did not anticipate, and therefore that she was not really able to conjure up departed spirits or persons who had died, but that she merely pretended to do so…

Now some people think it was a demonic spirit in disguise, that God doesn’t allow things like this:

The early church Fathers typically took one of two views: (1) Either God Himself raised Samuel from the dead and sent him to Saul (they simply could not abide the view that a “witch” could raise the righteous from the dead), or (2) this was “just demonic deceit, and what appeared was not really Samuel, but a demon in his guise” (Origen and the Witch of Endor: Toward an Iconoclastic Typology)

I do believe there is a powerful unseen world of demons. I do believe that Satan is actively at work in this world. I do believe Christians need not fear as long as they abide in Jesus Christ. That is why I believe it is so important for you to daily lift up the Name of the Lord upon your House, you spouse, your children and grand-children.

  • Proverbs 18:10 The name of the LORD is a strong tower; the righteous man runs into it and is safe.
  • Zephaniah 3:12 But I will leave in your midst a people humble and lowly. They shall seek refuge in the name of the LORD,

When you resist the grace of God in your life, when you rebel against the authorities God has put in your life, when you willingly consult astrology or psychics, even Ouija boards, you are opening yourself to this unseen spiritual world of demonic influence.

Jesus says in Luke 11:20 “But if it is by the finger of God that I cast out demons, then the kingdom of God has come upon you.”

If we are obeying the King and following His designs and laws, the Kingdom of God will protect us against this demonic world. However, if we are not following the King, not being subject to His laws, then we leave His Kingdom and are subject to the demonic kingdom.

That is why there is so great a need for righteous men to join together in binding the evil one from their community. We can unite in prayer to cast his influence out.

I happen to think this was really Samuel. I believe God allowed him to appear, to give Saul one more chance to show he cared for his people. Look at what he says:

1 Samuel 28:15-25 “Why have you disturbed me by calling me back?” Samuel asked Saul. “Because I am in deep trouble,” Saul replied. “The Philistines are at war with me, and God has left me and won’t reply by prophets or dreams. So I have called for you to tell me what to do.” However, Samuel replied, “Why ask me, since the LORD has left you and has become your enemy? The LORD has done just as he said he would. He has torn the kingdom from you and given it to your rival, David. The LORD has done this to you today because you refused to carry out his fierce anger against the Amalekites. What’s more, the LORD will hand you and the army of Israel over to the Philistines tomorrow, and you and your sons will be here with me. The LORD will bring down the entire army of Israel in defeat.”

Does that sound like an imitator or an evil spirit? Sounds like a perturbed Samuel speaking to a whimpering King who has spit his dummy out, cracked a fruity and is crying “WOEME.” Saul just never learned. He never obeyed, he never responded to pressure correctly and he never reacted to reproof’s acceptably. His desperation never led to humility, to ask God to intervene for the sake of His people and His name. (Refer to the prayers of Moses, Nehemiah, Ezra, Daniel and many others)

When Saul heard Samuel’s message, there was no humility, no turning to God, no repentance, just fear! Saul fell full length on the ground, paralyzed with fright because of Samuel’s words. He was also faint with hunger, for he had eaten nothing all day and all night.

This is the picture of an ungodly man whose roots are shallow and based upon himself. This is not the picture of a man whose trust is in God, and in His word meditates day and night, whose leave’s does not wither, even in the heat of fire and pressure. There is nothing left for Saul but to go on his way and face life the best he can. He has lost his cool, spit his dummy and cracked his fruity. Even the witch has pity in him and makes him eat some food.

When the woman saw how distraught he was, she said, “Sir, I obeyed your command at the risk of my life. Now do what I say, and let me give you a little something to eat so you can regain your strength for the trip back.” But Saul refused. The men who were with him also urged him to eat, so he finally yielded and got up from the ground and sat on the couch. The woman had been fattening a calf, so she hurried out and killed it. She took some flour, kneaded it into dough and baked unleavened bread. She brought the meal to Saul and his men, and they ate it. Then they went out into the night.

After they ate, they went out into the night.

It is an awful thing to go out into the dark, knowing your enemies are about to attack you, that God has abandoned you, and you must face this tragedy alone…

Saul walked out into the night and grew smaller and smaller, until things got so bad, the only way out for him was to commit suicide. The pressure was too great, God too distant. Saul failed the pressure test of a Disciple.

1 Samuel 31:1-6 Now the Philistines fought against Israel; and the men of Israel fled from before the Philistines, and fell slain on Mount Gilboa. Then the Philistines followed hard after Saul and his sons. And the Philistines killed Jonathan, Abinadab, and Malchishua, Saul’s sons. The battle became fierce against Saul. The archers hit him, and he was severely wounded by the archers. Then Saul said to his armor bearer, “Draw your sword, and thrust me through with it, lest these uncircumcised men come and thrust me through and abuse me.” But his armor bearer would not, for he was greatly afraid. Therefore Saul took a sword and fell on it. And when his armor-bearer saw that Saul was dead, he also fell on his sword, and died with him. So Saul, his three sons, his armor-bearer, and all his men died together that same day.

Saul killed himself, because he was more concerned for how his dead body would be treated than how his live body fought the Battles of the Lord. This reveals the Heart of the matter of any Disciple who fails the Pressure Test and spits the dummy or cracks the fruity or simply walks away from the Lord.

He is more concerned about himself than he is about Battling for the Name of the Lord!

Discipleship means you join yourself with the Lord, and you partner with Him in battling against the devil and the world. To battle for the Name of the Lord means you must abandon your self, your comfort, your reputation, for the sake of His Name and His Cause!

Matthew 6:9-13 Pray, then, in this way: Our Father who is in heaven, Hallowed be Your name. Your kingdom come. Your will be done, On earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. And do not lead us into temptation, but deliver us from evil. [For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen.]

We must fight to bring the Kingdom of God to bear here on earth as it is in heaven. We must strive earnestly to lift up the Name of God! In every cause that Saul was given – to wait for Samuel, to destroy all of the Amalekites, to not consult with mediums, he put himself first, just as he did in his dying.

To understand God’s Ways join another Group of Men going into the night…

Centuries later, another group of men had their last meal together, and then after singing a hymn, head off into the dark night to the Mount of Olives. Their leader knows the enemy will soon surround them, knows that terror await him, but He is not afraid. It is for this pressure test that He was born. Sure his disciples would fall asleep as he sweat drops of blood, but soon He knew they would be wide awake. Sure, his disciples would run away and shrink back, but He knew they would benefit from what he is about to go through. He knew they would be transformed into mighty Apostles of Christ.

Therefore, Jesus willingly goes to Calvary, enduring the shame, the pain, the suffering. He did not shrink back. He did not turn away; he even refused the sedative on the cross. He took the cup of God’s wrath and drank every drop, turned the cup over and slammed it down, declaring “It is Finished.”

Jesus took the greatest pressure test ever devised by man or Satan, and instead of being just one, He was enlarged to become Many! The Church was born! His Sons and Daughters now live in the Power of the Cross-because that fateful day He did not shrink from the pressure.

Discipleship welcomes pressure!

Luke reveals it in his Gospel when he quotes Jesus as saying, “Strive to enter in at the strait gate” (Luke 13:24). This puts an important perspective on this command of Christ. We do not just open up the strait gate and walk in unopposed. There is a battle that goes on within our souls, because our enemy does not want us to find the way of life. Disciples are going to be in constant battles involving their trust in the Name of the Lord! Paul stated, “We must through much tribulation enter into the kingdom of God” (Acts 14:22).

In Scripture, the gate is used as a symbol of decision-making and of managing internal affairs.

One Greek word translated strive is agonizomai. From it we get the English word agonize. The word entails contending for victory in public games, fighting, or making warfare. It involves pain in the struggle for a public prize. To strive is to make every effort to achieve the goal, as Paul described in Colossians 1:29 To this end I also labor, striving according to His working which works in me mightily.

The word STRIVING implies that there are hindrances in the development of a walk of faith and that there is a need for intense determination on our part to win the prize. Paul explained this:  1 Corinthians 9:25-Every athlete exercises self-control in all things. They do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable. Paul goes on to explain:

“So I do not run aimlessly; I do not box as one beating the air. But I discipline my body and keep it under control, lest after preaching to others I myself should be disqualified.” (I Corinthians 9:26–27).

In the Christian life, “striving” is not our performance of God’s will, but it is our surrender to God so that He can carry out His will in us. Striving grows from the Disciple’s Heart of Dependence.

One of the disciples asked, “Lord, are there just a few who are being be saved?” 

Jesus’ answer was that few would find the way of life.

Luke 13:23-27 And someone said to Him, “Lord, are there just a few who are being saved?” And He said to them, “Strive to enter through the narrow door; for many, I tell you, will seek to enter and will not be able.” Once the head of the house gets up and shuts the door, and you begin to stand outside and knock on the door, saying, ‘Lord, open up to us!’ then He will answer and say to you, ‘I do not know where you are from.’ “Then you will begin to say, ‘We ate and drank in Your presence, and You taught in our streets’; and He will say, ‘I tell you, I do not know where you are from; DEPART FROM ME, ALL YOU EVILDOERS.’

We are concerned with people being saved, but Jesus was more concerned with people finding the way of LIFE. Salvation is not a prayer, it is a way of living, and that living means we must not run away from pressure, nor seek our own comfort, our own way, we must not spit a dummy or crack a fruity. We must willingly submit to the Pressures of Life and Reproofs that we might be enlarged as a Disciple.

A Disciple must become disciplined to respond to Pressures in the Name of the Lord, Sword in Hand, ready to do Battle for the Lord!

Pressures, even the pressures designed to reprove us, provide Opportunities for God’s Kingdom to Grow and God’s Power to Provide. Is your heart and love for God and His people growing? Perhaps you have stiffened your neck to His reproofs in the past. Perhaps it is time to repent and focus upon the great needs of God’s Kingdom. Are you actively partnering with God to bring His Kingdom to bear on this world? Or is your tiny heart focused upon your own kingdom? 


[3] Warren Baker and Eugene Carpenter, The Complete Word Study Dictionary – Old Testament, (Chattanooga, TN: AMG Publishers, 2003), WORDsearch CROSS e-book, Under: “ôb̠”.


David continues his discipleship journey in I Samuel 26. My first reaction to this chapter was ‘what?’, what are you wanting me to see. David spares the life of Saul AGAIN, and Saul lies to David AGAIN. The only difference I could see between this chapter and chapter 24 were the setting (cave vs. open camp) and what David took (piece of Saul’s clothing vs. Saul’s spear and water).  I had two reactions: Why did David call out to Abner instead of Saul, and why did David even bother sneaking into the camp and risking his life if he wasn’t trying to kill Saul? Did he really think he was going to change Saul’s mind? Nothing had worked so far, so why not accept the reality of the situation. 

But I knew God had this in His Word for a reason. Then the Spirit led me to Psalms 54.

When the Ziphites went and told Saul and said “Is not David hiding among us”:

Psalm 54:1-7 O God, save me by your name, and vindicate me by your might. O God, hear my prayer; give ear to the words of my mouth. For strangers have risen against me; ruthless men seek my life; they do not set God before themselves. Selah Behold, God is my helper; the Lord is the upholder of my life. He will return the evil to my enemies; in your faithfulness put an end to them. With a freewill offering I will sacrifice to you; I will give thanks to your name, O LORD, for it is good. For he has delivered me from every trouble, and my eye has looked in triumph on my enemies.

I was thinking about this, and the Holy Spirit struck my heart with the phrase, “they do not set God before themselves, Selah”. And in a moment I thought, somehow this is related to the teaching of Psalm 1.

So I mentally cross-referenced the major characters of I Sam 26 with Psalm 1, and lo and behold, I knew the Discipleship Lesson of 1 Sam 26.

Psalm 1:1-6 Blessed is the man that walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor standeth in the way of sinners, nor sitteth in the seat of the scornful. But his delight is in the law of the LORD; and in his law doth he meditate day and night. And he shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that bringeth forth his fruit in his season; his leaf also shall not wither; and whatsoever he doeth shall prosper. The ungodly are not so: but are like the chaff which the wind driveth away. Therefore the ungodly shall not stand in the judgment, nor sinners in the congregation of the righteous. For the LORD knoweth the way of the righteous: but the way of the ungodly shall perish.

1 Samuel 26 is a study in contrasts, the contrasts between men who set God before themselves, and men who do not.

Just as Psalm 1 is a Psalm of Contrasts, contrasts between a Blessed man and a Wicked man, so I Samuel 26 is a Story of Contrasts between Disciples of Jesus Christ and men who are not.

Look at the Characters in Psalm One and the Characters in 1 Samuel 26:

In Psalm 1 you have:

  1. Blessed Righteous Man
  2. Ungodly Man
  3. Ungodly Counselor Walk
  4. Sinful Way Stand
  5. Scornful Seat

In 1 Samuel 26 you have:

  1. David
  2. Saul
  3. Ziphites
  4. Abishai
  5. Abner

Psalm 1 and 1 Samuel 26 are about a man who became a Blessed, Righteous and Mighty Man because he always set God before Him. The Blessing is because of God’s Unfailing Love and Mercy (hesed) applied to his life, Mighty because he stands in the Justice (mishpat) of God’s Word, Righteousness (tsedaqah) because of his decisions of whom to sit with.

The other man has become Ungodly because he turned his focus away from God’s mercy by following his own wicked counsel, and fails in the judgment because he refused to stand in the Justice of God, and becomes worthless chaff because he chose to sit and scoff at the Righteousness of God’s Word.

Psalms 54 says that David observed that these strangers risen before him did not set God before themselves. That meant they set themselves before themselves. Whatever they did they always had themselves in view, even if they did anything for God.

In Psalm 1 we know that God was always set before the Righteous man him because of what he delighted in and meditated on day and night – God’s Word! He was constantly setting God before Him through his meditation on the Word. That also translated into obedience, regardless of the cost.

We see the importance of Setting God before us in a concrete, visible and intentional way: Set means to have purpose. There is a Reason you are doing this.

Two examples in the Old Testament illustrate what it mean to Set the Lord before You.

Moses

Exodus 15:22-26 Then Moses made Israel set out from the Red Sea, and they went into the wilderness of Shur. They went three days in the wilderness and found no water. When they came to Marah, they could not drink the water of Marah because it was bitter; therefore it was named Marah. And the people grumbled against Moses, saying, “What shall we drink?” And he cried to the LORD, and the LORD showed him a log, and he threw it into the water, and the water became sweet. There the LORD made for them a statute and a rule, and there he tested them, saying, “If you will diligently listen to the voice of the LORD your God, and do that which is right in his eyes, and give ear to his commandments and keep all his statutes, I will put none of the diseases on you that I put on the Egyptians, for I am the LORD, your healer.”

Samuel

1 Samuel 7:12 Samuel then took a large stone and placed it between the towns of Mizpah and Jeshanah. He named it Ebenezer (which means “the stone of help”), for he said, “Up to this point the LORD has helped us!”

David made a decision to set God before Him day and night through the Word of God.

The Characters of 1 Samuel 26

A. Blessed Righteous Man

David represents the Righteous Man. We know this because in everything he does, he prospers. (verse 3) And in the last verse of our text, King Saul Blesses David, and says you will do many things and will succeed in all of them.

  • David is the Righteous Man because of what he sets before him – God!

B. Ungodly Man

King Saul represents the Ungodly Man. We know this because the ungodly will not stand in the day of judgment, nor sinners in the congregation of the righteous; for the LORD knows the way of the righteous, but the way of the wicked will perish. Saul admitted that he had sinned (in verse 21), and he lied about not seeking to do any more harm to David. He was right about making a big mistake. His big mistake was in not setting the Lord before him, nad as he knew and Samuel had told him, the Lord had left King Saul, and no longer went with him. Saul was nothing to God, just as the wicked is like the chaff of the wheat, driven by the wind.

  • Saul is the Wicked Man because of what he sets before him – himself!

To see this, I want to take you to 1 Samuel 13.  The Prophet Samuel had passed his torch of Leadership to young Saul. He had told him to wait in Gilgal til he came to offer sacrifices and bless his reign. Meanwhile, the Philistines were on the warpath, with serious firepower. They had 30,000 chariots and 6,000 horsemen and footsoldiers too numerous to count. The Israeli’s were so fearful that they hid in caves, in tombs, in cisterns, and many made the dangerous crossing of the Jordan to get away.

Saul had only 600 soldiers, none of them armed except him and his son Jonathon. The Philistines did not allow blacksmith’s in Israel, so there was no way to make weapons unless they went to Philistia and paid the Philistines exorbitant prices.

The Jews who did not hide or run away followed Saul to Gilgal, trembling, the Bible says.

So the pressure was on Saul to do something, or the Nation of Israel would be lost. Samuel was late, the pressure was on, so Saul acted. He told someone to bring the burnt offering and the peace-offering to him, and they did.

King Saul then proceeded to offer the burnt and peace offerings to the Lord. Just as he finished, Samuel walked up. Saul went to greet him just like nothing was wrong. Immediately Samuel said, What have you done? And Saul starts giving excuses. The people were afraid, and I needed God’s blessing, so I offered the sacrifices.

Samuel said, you are a fool, for you did not keep the command of God. Saul was not a Priest. He had no authority to offer a sacrifice. By seeking the Lord’s favor contrary to God’s Word, He lost God’s favor. Samuel pronounced that Saul’s kingdom would not last, for God found a man after His Heart to establish the Kingdom that someday God’s Son would inherit.

Saul set himself before God. Saul was an ungodly man, even though he was King, even though he was Jewish, Saul was a wicked man. God later withdrew himself from Saul.

An ungodly man sets himself up as the standard for his life. An ungodly man can believe in God, and prayed the sinners prayer. But a godly man becomes ungodly when  he sets himself before him, and not what God commands.

C. Ungodly Counselor Walker

The Ziphites are the ones doing the Wicked Counselor Walk. David was hiding in their land, the Ziphites were so intent on doing wrong to David that they walked 30 miles or so to tell Saul that David was hiding in their hills. They were brothers to David, in so much as they were of the tribe of Judah. Yet they wanted the favor of a wicked man so much that they were willing to walk all that way simply to give Saul their counsel.

What determines wicked Counsel. How do you walk? You walk by sight! Wicked Counsel is determined by what your eye is focused on. The Ziphites were focused on favor from the King. David had done nothing to them, but their eye was on themselves and what the King would do for them.

Ungodly Counsel is any counsel that does not set it’s eye upon God and His Word.

We are not talking about good or bad advice. We are talking about God’s Word and whether you are walking by sight or by faith. Wicked counsel doesn’t come from just really evil men. It comes from anyone, saved or heathen, that does not Set God and His Word before them.

A Disciple does not walk in the counsel of the ungodly. A Disciple does not do the “Ungodly Counselor Walk”.

Two Types of Counsel in this World.

  • There is man’s counsel, and there is God’s Counsel. (Not a mixture or perversion)
  • If a Disciple is to keep on the path to Jesus Christ, he must walk according to God’s Counsel.

What is Counsel that Leads to Righteous Man Walk?

Jeremiah spoke to God’s chosen people these words in Jeremiah 7:23-24:

But this thing commanded I them, saying, Obey my voice, and I will be your God, and ye shall be my people: and walk ye in all the ways that I have commanded you, that it may be well unto you. But they hearkened not, nor inclined their ear, but walked in the counsels and in the imagination of their evil heart, and went backward, and not forward.

When we disregard God’s Word because it interferes with what we have our eye set on, it will produce an evil heart that is blind to God, and will produce backward walk.

Paul indicated something very powerful as he addressed the Ephesians for the last time:

Acts 20:26-27 Therefore I testify to you this day that I am innocent of the blood of all of you, for I did not shrink from declaring to you the whole counsel of God.

This was the church that 35 years later John would write: You have left your first love, and now you need to repent. You are still doing great works, but you are doing it for the wrong reason, you are doing it for yourselves. When you abandon your first love, you no longer set God before you in everything. You set yourself before you. Ephesus had changed the “Whole Counsel of God” into the counsel of man, counsel that leads Disciples away from God.

David had a solid understanding of the “Whole Counsel” of God. In Psalms 33 he wrote:

The LORD brings the counsel of the nations to nothing; he frustrates the plans of the peoples. The counsel of the LORD stands forever, the plans of his heart to all generations.

The Counsel of God stands forever, it never changes. His Counsel is in His Word, and it will never be changed.

Paul revealed what that Counsel is to a church divided and acting like the world because of a (self) fleshly focus.

1 Corinthians 1:17-25 For Christ did not send me to baptize but to preach the gospel, and not with words of eloquent wisdom, lest the cross of Christ be emptied of its power. For the word of the cross is folly to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. For it is written, “I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, and the discernment of the discerning I will thwart.” Where is the one who is wise? Where is the scribe? Where is the debater of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world? For since, in the wisdom of God, the world did not know God through wisdom, it pleased God through the folly of what we preach to save those who believe. For Jews demand signs and Greeks seek wisdom, but we preach Christ crucified, a stumbling block to Jews and folly to Gentiles, but to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. For the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men.

The Counsel of God becomes the Wisdom of God for our life when we seek it. Proverbs says we must seek after wisdom. But God says you don’t seek the Wisdom and Counsel of God with you eyesight. You seek it with your heart. (Give me your heart Prov 23:26)

The Counsel of God before the Foundation of the World was the Cross of Crucifixion.

There are several “Before the Foundation of the World” statements in the Bible.

  • Jesus came to reveal the secrets that had been hidden before the foundation of the world.
  • We will reign with Christ in a Kingdom that had been prepared before the foundation of the world.
  • The Blood of the Prophets was shed before the foundation of the world.
  • We were chosen to be in Christ before the foundation of the world.
  • God knew Jesus would die before the foundation of the World.
  • All believers have had their name written in the lamb’s book of life before the foundation of the world.

Matthew 13:35 This was to fulfill what was spoken by the prophet:   “I will open my mouth in parables;  I will utter what has been hidden since the foundation of the world.”
Matthew 25:34 Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world.
Luke 11:50 so that the blood of all the prophets, shed from the foundation of the world, may be charged against this generation,
John 17:24 Father, I desire that they also, whom you have given me, may be with me where I am, to see my glory that you have given me because you loved me before the foundation of the world.
Ephesians 1:4  even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him in love
Hebrews 4:3 For we who have believed enter that rest, as he has said,   “As I swore in my wrath, ‘They shall not enter my rest,’ ”  although his works were finished from the foundation of the world.
1 Peter 1:20 He was foreknown before the foundation of the world but was made manifest in the last times for the sake of you
Revelation 13:8 and all who dwell on earth will worship it, everyone whose name has not been written before the foundation of the world in the book of life of the Lamb who was slain.  

Paul says you don’t find the wisdom of God until you embrace the Cross. You lift up the Cross. You Glory in the Cross! You proclaim to a selfish people that your God is a crucified God. He was made a spectacle to the World, and now, anyone who wants the Counsel of God, the Blessing of God, the Power of God must come and kneel before the Cross, and then lift that Cross up before the World, and willingly bear its shame.

The Cross when lifted up in Evangelism will cause most people to run away. Too many times the gospel is presented with “Me” in view. What do I get out of it? Ticket to Heaven? Sounds Great, Jesus come into my heart, but leave my life alone. I want you to stay in my heart, but don’t ask me to hold up this cross thing before me. Don’t ask me to surrender my comfort, my common sense for some bloody foolish cross. I’ve got to keep my eyes on myself. This is America after all!

Application

How has Jesus Christ impacted your life since you asked him into your life? Are you trusting in Him? Are you setting Him before everything you do, everything you decide? Are you lifting up the Counsel of God, His Cross, and dying to what you want and putting what God wants first?

Are you walking in the Counsel of the Ungodly? Are you walking only by what you see, and not by trust in God’s Word?

We take a step backward when we set ourselves before us. We take a step backward when we fail to set God before us and obey His Word. God wants every believer to set Jesus Christ before us in every situation we face. He wants us to no lean upon our own understanding, hold on to nothing of our self, but to lean completely upon Christ. We have Him alone.

D. Sinful Way Stander

This one may surprise you, but Abishai is Sinful Way Stander. True, Abishai is one of the Mighty Men who faithfully served David. But Abishai stood over King Saul and begged David to let him kill him. He said, I will not need to strike twice.

Sinful Way Standers can be Godly men, Christians. Psalm One says Blessed is the man who does not stand in the way of sinners. Abishai was with David in the cave. He heard him say not to strike God’s anointed. But here he was standing in the way of sinners, wanting to do what a sinful man would do.

The characteristic of Sinful Man’s Way is Standing, which refers to your Back. To stand with sinners for very long you have to put your back into it. Sinners stiffen their neck to what God says to do and stiffen their back and say, nope, that doesn’t apply to me. Walking in the way of sinners usually happens as you set your back to do what you want, even if it is contrary to God’s Word.

Abishai was doing that, stiffening his back and saying, lets kill this guy. It will solve all our problems. But David stopped him, for it was contrary to God’s Word.

Have you ever wondered about the term backsliding? You think it means sliding backwards, and yes it does have that idea. But how did you start to backslide? What led you to doing what sinful way stander does? You did not humble your self to God, you stiffened your back and said, No I will not bow to your ways.

Your Back will prevent mishpat (God’s Justice) from growing in your life. To set your house in order, to bring God’s Justice into your life, yu must prostrate yourself before the cross of Christ!

Sinful Way Stander turns away from God and His Word and His justice in Christ, and does what he wants. He not only sets himself before himself, but he turns his back on God!

Application

Do you know what it means to put your back into it? Have you put your back into your love of God and His Word? Are you kneeling before Him so that you can Stand upon Him? Are you kneeling before Him so you can Stand on the Promises?

Is your back sore? Do you suffer from back pain. Instead of going to the chiropractor for an adjustment, check to see if you are standing in the way of sinners, stiffening your back to God’s Word. The Godly Man stands upon the Word of God and his back grows straight to the Son, developing wonderful leaves and fruit to hand out to those who need it. His leave doesn not wither, and he does not fear the drought or the heat of summer. Whatever he does he prospers in.

The best cure for back pain is to humble yourself before God, confess your pride and your stubbornness and your selfishness, and then bow your back before Him.

E. Scornful Seater

This is Abner. I wondered why David was yelling at Abner! David says, “Are you not a Man? Why did you fail to keep watch over the King? Someone came into camp that could have killed Saul.

Abner had failed to protect his King. He had committed a sin worthy of death.

SCORN: lûs, ‏לִיצ‎ liys, ‏לֵץ‎ lēs: A verb meaning to boast, to scorn, to mock, to deride, or to imitate. This Hebrew verb is frequently found in the book of Proverbs (Prov. 9:7, 8; 13:1; 20:1), and means to deride or to boast so as to express utter contempt. The activity of the scornful is condemned as an abomination to people (Prov. 24:9) and contrary to the Law of the Lord (Ps. 1:1)[1].

How had Abner scorned his King. The word scorn conveys the picture of one whose words or actions express utter contempt. It could be a snide comment, a roll of the eyes, a back-stabbing move, and yes, falling asleep on the job. Abner’s actions conveyed his contempt for Saul and David saw it and called him on it! Abner was sitting in the seat of the scornful and falling asleep.

Proverbs 24:9 The thought of foolishness is sin: and the scorner is an abomination to men.

David himself was later to understand what it meant to scorn God.

2 Samuel 12:14 Nevertheless, because by this deed you have utterly scorned the LORD, the child who is born to you shall die.”

David’s actions with Bathsheba and her husband were treating God with utter contempt, and their baby bore the wages of David’s Scorn. A scornful Sitter is has his eye set upon himself, his back turned against God, and his butt firmly planted, scorning God and saying, Look, I have a right to make up my own mind by what I think is right.

A scorner is content in his own righteousness, and even justifies what he has done.

Abner never said he was wrong, but only questioned David’s right to address them. He revealed his heart as being scornful. Usually scornful people reveal themselves in things they say and do. They may act all Godly and Christian, but eventually their heart will be revealed.

APPLICATION

Are you sitting in the seat of the scornful? Have you defied God’s anointed? Have you said some things or done some things against God’s anointed. You have revealed the scorn of your heart, and you need to repent. Scorn is death to your spiritual walk and growth.

David was a man after God’s heart, and he refused to scorn or even strike God’s anointed, the one God had put in position over him.

We need to abolish the seat of the scornful, we need to confess and repent, and we need to humble ourselves before our merciful God.

Conclusion

Are you a Godly man or woman? Is God always before you? Do you meditate on His Word day and Night? Is your eye set upon Him and what He can Do? Is your back strong in Him and the power of His Might. Are you enjoying success that comes from giving out fruit – witnessing to others, encouraging others, or are you sitting on your butt complaining to others and scoffing at whats going on.

Whether or not you are believe you are a Christian, if God is not set before you, you are ungodly. You are chaff, you will not stand in the day of judgment, you will not be seated in the congregation of the righteous. Your way will perish.

The Lord knows the way of the Righteous. That means he attends to and provides for their way. But the way of the ungodly will perish.

The choice is yours.

As a Disciple you must choose who you want set before you. Do you choose to set God and His Word before you? Do you choose to trust Him and believe He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him? Do you want to obey His commands to witness and minister unselfishly to the needs of our community? If so, He will be here, and He will provide.

If you chose to set yourselves before the church, before God’s Word, and walk in fear without faith in Almighty God, stiffening your back to the Commands of His Word, and scoffing at the righteous and scorning His anointed, then you will not grow as a Disciple, but will become chaff to God, and you will not stand in the day of Judgment.

Christianity is determined not by a prayer. It is determined by your heart, your eye, your back and yes, your butt. It is determined by your life!


[1]   Warren Baker and Eugene Carpenter, The Complete Word Study Dictionary – Old Testament, (Chattanooga, TN: AMG Publishers, 2003), WORDsearch CROSS e-book, 546.


Elder Brothers Adulterous Woman

Woman Taken in Adultery

saul-reproached-by-samuel

Saul was an Elder Brother

As an Elder Brother, I believe we think that sometimes we can get away with disobeying the rules. We tend to think we are above the law because we are naturally so responsible and driven. We don’t want some stupid rules getting in the way of what WE THINK is important. I know the Pharisees expected everyone to obey the laws they set forth, but secretly had laws that applied only to them. Who can say whether the arrogance of the Elder Brother was masking his own secret disobedience (remember the Elder Brothers bringing the adulterous woman to Jesus)?

Saul was definitely an Elder Brother. God was testing him as he does all Elder Brothers on two points: Faith and Obedience. Faith is needed to see and know the Father’s heart. Obedience is required because the Father is the source of ALL BLESSINGS.

But Elder Brothers hate to wait. Just ask them. Always in a hurry, always moving on to the next task. Saul was kept waiting for the Prophet Samuel in 1 Sam 13. He was told to tarry “till I come”. He failed the test of faith and obedience. Elder Brothers must learn to wait upon God, and not rely upon their own resources.

Saul disobeys God

Saul Failed Tests of Faith and Obedience

Then again in 1 Samuel 15, Saul was told to destroy Amalek utterly. Everything must be destroyed. But the bleating of the sheep gave him away. Saul was acting like the Elder Brother, focusing on the THINGS and not focusing on OBEYING the FATHER! He even believed he had obeyed, because most Elder Brothers believe they follow a different set of rules.

Saul learned too late that the Father values Faith and Obedience. The younger son realized when he reached the end of himself, and came home. The Elder Brother was home, but in his own self-reliance obeyed his own set of rules, and failed by FAITH to see the Father’s heart.

Are you an Elder Brother like me? Then the two greatest tests you will face are the tests of Faith and Obedience. There is no Word from God too small to be obeyed. We must learn to empty ourselves of any self-reliance, and cling totally upon the Lord. Then we must learn to wait. Waiting is the hardest thing for Elder Brothers to do. Always give the Father ONE MORE DAY to show His Power!


I really hate Monday’s now. Sunday is such a high. The excitement of seeing my folks, meeting guests, standing in the pulpit and declaring God’s Word. But Monday is always a downer. Sometimes there is this gnawing in my gut that people just didn’t get the message. Or that I was an empty shell proclaiming empty words that fell to the ground the moment they left my lips. One of the most amazing sentences in God’s Word describes Samuel’s care and attention to God as he served in the Temple. “Not a Word from God fell to the floor”. What a delight Samuel must have been to God. He must have immediately became His favorite.Would that preachers, me included, treat the Word of Gold like precious diamonds and rubies. Would that our sermons would not have any doubt as to the Power of God to Profit His Word. Would that our people gaze intently, looking for the Cloud of God’s presence as we proclaim the Word that has come from meeting with God through the week. Would that we dig our feet in the ground and beg God for His Power and Presence as we preach His Holy Word.Tent of Meeting Exodus 33 describes an image that God has burned in my heart. Moses walks outside the camp 2000 cubits to the “tent of meeting”. The people all stand at their tent openings, watching Moses as he enters the “tent of meeting”. When they see the cloud of God’s presence descend upon the tent, they know that God is with them, and He is meeting with Moses. The Bible says they stood at their tents and worshipped. I don’t think it was quiet worship. They were praising God with uplifted hands. Hallelujah, Praise be to Jehovah!And then to have been Joshua, who was there in the tent, listening to Moses talk to God as friends do over lunch.

Moses My Idol

And to hear Moses get persistent with God, saying:“If you aren’t going with us, don’t let us move a step from this place. If you don’t go with us, who will ever know that I and my people have found favor with you, and that we are different from any other people upon the face of the earth?”

How bold and passionate Moses must have been! How zealous of God’s presence! Then to cry out to God, his friend, “Show me Your glory!” Moses is my idol. I need his passion!

Monday’s are downers, because I feel emotionally let down. I feel empty, as if I accomplished nothing. I must cry out like Moses: “I Need Your Presence!” I can’t go on if you are not with me, leading me! God, may I see Your Glory this week. May I see You Glory in the lives of my people. I simply can’t go on by myself.