Spiritual Rants: May 21 “Saul Dust” Readings to read through the Bible in a year: 1 Samuel 29:1-31:13 John 11:55-12:19 Psalm 118:1-18 Proverbs 15:24-26

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Old Testament: 1 Samuel 29:1-:13

The Philistines had always wanted Saul’s hide so finally they got him and he died.

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1 Samuel 29:1-11   Are You Kidding Me?

The Philistines kept amassing forces against the Israelites.  Some of the commanders found out David was amongst them and wanted to know what was going on.  “What are these Hebs doing here?” they asked King Achish.  “Oh, they’ve been with me for years,” Achish replied, “No, prob.”  “You’ve got to be kidding,” the commanders retorted.  They probably remembered the time the Hebrews were fighting with them and then turned on them when the battle went the other way (1 Sam. 14:21).

So Achish told David, “The commanders don’t think we need you for this one.”  David defended himself, “Really?  What have I done to earn your mistrust?”  “You’re like an ‘angel of God’ to me,” Achish said, “It’s not me, it’s the commanders.”  But Yahweh was protecting David from attacking his own people which may not have gone over well when it was time for him to become king.

1 Samuel 30:1-20   Zik-Lacking Nothing

While David was gone, the Amalekites raided David’s village of Ziklag and burned it.  They took the women and everyone else, too.  When David saw it, he and all with him wept.  A lot.  Some of David’s people turned on him and wanted to stone him.  David went to the Lord to get his strength back.

David asked the Lord for wisdom (cf. James 1:5).  Yahweh affirmed David’s plan to attack the Amalekites.  David left to go to battle and came across an Amalekite straggler who led them to where the enemy was camping out.  When David found them, they were partying like it was 1999, feasting on all the spoil from Ziklag.  The Israelites slaughtered all of them, rescued David’s wives and got back all their stuff, even all of the livestock.

1 Samuel 30:21-31   Spoiled

David had only brought 400 of his 600 men with him to attack the bad guys (“map” in Latin = bad).  So some of the “worthless” guys that were with David didn’t want to divide the plunder with the ones who didn’t go on the raid.  But David said, “Hey, it’s all grace.”  So everyone got a share of the booty and hence forward David made it a law that everyone would get a share no matter who participated in a battle  or they were back guarding the supplies.  David also ingratiated himself with other leaders in Israel by sending them part of  the haul.

1 Samuel 31:1-13   Saul Dust

Saul’s story is a pretty tragic one.  He was the people’s choice for king and in the next book, 2 Samuel, we will see how things work for God’s choice for king, David.  But here we see Saul come to a tragic end.

The Philistines pursued the Israelites and overtook Saul and his three sons.  They killed the sons, including David’s good friend Jonathan, and then Saul got hit by a sharpshooter’s arrow.  The kings were always a big target.  The hero that he was, Saul asked his armor bearer to run him through with his sword but his attendant wouldn’t do it.  So Saul did it himself.  And when the armor bearer saw that Saul was dead, he ran himself through, too.

When the Israelites saw that the soldiers had absconded, they also abandoned all their cites and took off.  Then the Phillies came in and lived in them!

The next day the Philistines found Saul’s body on the battlefield and cut his head off to display it on a wall in one of their major towns.  When the Israelites in Jabesh-gilead found out about it, they walked all night to retrieve Saul’s body and also the bodies of his sons.  When they got them out of town, they burned their bodies and buried the bones under a tamarisk tree in Jabesh.  So things happened just the way Samuel had told Saul though the medium.

New Testament: John 11:55-12:19

Jesus came through the Jerusalem gates without a sentry, on Palm Sunday He made His grand entry.

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John 11:55-12:10    Celebrity Benefit

People were hoping to see Jesus at the Passover.  And the religious leaders  had put out the word that if anyone knew where He was, they should report him.

Six days before the Passover, Jesus went to Simon the Leper’s house for dinner (cf. Mark 14:1-11). Lazarus who had been raised from the dead was there with his family.  Mary began to anoint Jesus with nard that was worth an average person’s wages for a year.  Judas, the traitor and treasurer, objected saying that the money would have been better spent on the poor.  But he really was concerned that he didn’t get any of it since he was skimming the donation box.  Jesus told him to chill.  He said Mary was using it to anoint him for His burial but Judas would be free to help the poor anytime.

When word got out that Jesus was around, the crowds came to see Jesus and the man He had raised from the dead.   The religious leaders wanted to put Lazarus to death, too, because his resurrection was causing many to trust in Jesus.

John 12:1-19   The Grand Entrance

The next day when the crowds realized that Jesus was coming to Jerusalem, they collected palm branches and shouted, “Hosanna! Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord!”  The palm branches were the symbol of the nation of Israel.  The phrase was from Psalms 118: 25-26 and was the equivalent of yelling, “God save the King” or “Hail to the chief.”  The people were hoping Jesus was coming as King to free them from the Romans.

Jesus came in on a colt which was the ride of a king but connoted peace (v. 15, cf. Zech. 9:9).  He will later ride a white horse symbolic of His victory in battle  (Rev. 19:11).  The disciples didn’t understand these things at the time but it all dawned on him later after He was resurrected.

Those who were with Jesus when He raised Lazarus from the dead were witnessing to everyone at the parade.  People in the crowd wanted to meet Him because they had heard of that particular miracle.   The religious leaders realized things were not going their way because of Jesus’ rapidly growing popularity.

Check out today’s devotion: iPhoney

Psalm 118:1-18   A Thanksgiving Psalm By Anonymous

What is the big deal if you find yourself in a fuss, it won’t matter since God is for us.

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Psalm 118:1-18   Turning A Corner, Part 1

Psalm 118 is a thanksgiving psalm.  It is the last of the six Hallel psalms (113-118).  Because of that and Matt. 26:30 that says that Christ and the disciples sang a hymn, McGee believes that this is the psalm they sung.  Maybe it was.

Today we look at the first half of this psalm.

There is a fair amount of repetition in this psalm.  There is a fair amount of repetition in this psalm.  When there is repetition in the Bible it is usually because God wants us to notice something.  Notice in verse 1-3 that the psalm states that God’s hesed is forever.  It says that three times.  It’s because God wants you to know that He really loves you!

The psalmist acknowledges that God is good (v. 1a, cf. James 1:17).   The psalmist is in trouble but God has given him elbow-room (v. 5b).

I had an older mentor who went on to be with the Lord about ten years ago.  One day we had lunch and he told me that he was amazed to find a verse that said that God was “for him.”  It was Ps. 56:9.  Verse 6 says the same thing, that God is for us.  Man really cannot touch us (v. 6b).  If Jesus really sang this on the way to the cross then this verse has special meaning.  It means that Jesus realized that even if He was tortured and abused, His spirit and relationship with God could not be affected.  Even if He was put to death, He would be with God.  Of course, the most torturous thing for Christ was the separation from God the Father He experienced when He took on the sin of the world (cf. John 1:29; 2 Cor. 5:21).  But Christ now sits next to God, at His right hand (cf. Eph. 1:20).

It is best to stay close to God.  The psalmist says this twice in verses 8 and 9.  He had the same purpose of God and therefore, he had God’s support (v. 7) and protection (vv. 8-9).  God was for him (v. 7a).  Men, even powerful men, could not hurt him (vv. 8b, 9b).

If you read verses 10-12 and notice the repetitions, you’ll notice that the psalmist was surrounded.  We know that Christ also was surrounded by bad men (cf. Ps. 22:12, prophetically speaking and bulls representing strong opponents).

Jesus was “pushed violently” on the cross (v. 13).  But He clung to the Father for His strength to endure (v. 14).  When you are pushed, do you cling to the Lord?  When you represent God, do you focus on the fact that He is “for you”?

I had lunch today with a man who worked his entire career for a large denomination’s bookstore.  He fellowships with a number of pastors who are depressed.  I’m guessing they should be depressed.  They don’t take the Scripture at face value.  Of course, they’d be depressed.  When the Scripture says God is “for you” and don’t believe that God is “for you,” you should be depressed.  How can anyone feel secure if they don’t believe what God said in His Word?  (That was a rhetorical question.)   I went on to say that if the pastors were not preaching the Scripture as God’s Word, they should have been sued for malpractice.  (I won’t be put up for a position of ambassador anytime soon or get invites to Dale Carnegie’s for lunch.)

The Lord helped the psalmist (v. 13b).  If Christ had sung this psalm after the Passover dinner, He knew that God was going to help Him on His mission.  He knew that Christ was His strength and would rescue Him (v. 14, cf. 2 Cor. 12:10).

The psalmist closes this portion of the psalm by telling us that God’s “right hand” (mentioned three times!) is lifted up and victorious.  God’s right hand is symbolic of His strength and power.  His power will succeed in exalting Christ and glorifying God (vv. 15-16).

The psalmist will not die ultimately, but will live forever with God (v. 17).  Christ, also, as the prototypical forever-man, would not die even though crucified.  He came back to prove that He lived and that through faith in Him, we, too, could live forever (cf. Rom. 6:5; 1 Cor. 6:14)!

The psalmist promised to tell what the Lord had done for him (v. 17b).  We should also tell others what Christ has done for us (Acts 1:8; 2 Tim. 4:2).

Though God might discipline us, He will not allow us to be destroyed (v. 18).  Christ was “given over to death” (v. 18) but rose from the dead.  He still lives.  Those who trust in Him, though they die physically, will live spiritually (cf. John 11:25).

To be “disciplined” does not mean to be punished necessarily.  The author of Hebrews tells us that if God does not discipline us as a Father, we are not really His children (Heb. 12:5-11).  Jesus was “disciplined” in the sense that God allowed Him to suffer on our behalf (cf. Heb. 12:3-4).

Are you allowing God to “scourge” you without falling away from Him?  Are you allowing God to treat you as a son that He loves and wants to mature in Him?

. . .   to be continued . . .

Proverbs 15:24-26  Movin’ On Up

For the wise man here is the deal, he will go to Heaven and will avoid Sheol.

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What goes up, must come down.  Unless, you are headed for Heaven.  Then you go up and stay up (v. 24a).  People headed upward do not end up in Hell (v. 24b).  Sheol was the name given to the “holding tank” for the dead in the Old Testament, in context, the unsaved dead.

The Lord opposes those who oppose Him who are always arrogant (v. 25a).  Humble people always seek the Lord (cf. James 4:6; 1 Pet. 5:5).  Widows in New Testament times, with no husband to provide for them, were usually destitute.  Therefore, they were humble.  The Lord has a special place in His heart for them (v. 25b; cf. 1 Tim. 3:5-16; James 1:27).

God doesn’t like people who plot other people’s harm (v. 26a).  He really doesn’t like them.

On the other hand, when people are sincerely pleasant, they are acting from a pure motive (v. 26b).  I wrote these lyrics to my very first song.  “Pleasant words are like a honeycomb, sweetness to the soul and health to the body (Prov. 16:24) and I feel like an ice cream sundae.”  I guess the Gaithers are not in any jeopardy from my songwriting career.  But sometimes I do feel like an ice cream sundae.

Choose Life: Scripture:   John 12:6    NASB    “iPhoney”

“Now he said this, not because he was concerned about the poor, but because he was a thief, and as he had the money box, he used to pilfer what was put into it.”      John 12:6

Someone has said that “honesty is the best policy.”   That’s probably true.  For one reason, you don’t have to make stuff to cover your tracks and hope you don’t contradict yourself.

Judas was dishonest.  He was a thief.  I’ve found that people who center their lives around money often have integrity problems (churches, watch who put in the position of treasurer!).  Judas objected to Mary showing such munificence to Jesus, not because he was frugal but because he was a thief!  He was a crook, a phony.

Someone has said (maybe the same guy as the “honesty is the best policy” guy) that anyone can tell a person’s devotion to Christ by looking at their checkbook.  That may be an exaggeration but it may also be a pretty good standard.

Someone who is a committed Christian knows that there is Someone who knows them even better than they even know themselves.  We need to realize that whatever we do, we are accountable to God.  We don’t want to be phonies.  We want to be true to God.

If we are, we will find that we are choosing life (Deut. 30:19)!

Fun Application:   

Charles Stanley pointed out one time when we were in his church that people who had the gift of giving were often very frugal because they knew the value of money.  If we care more about getting the latest iPhone (or anything with an “i” in front of its name), we may not be caring enough about our love relationship with God.

The purpose of the “Choose Life” is to pick a positive help out of the One Year Bible (OYB) reading plan for the day. There is always something positive in the Word of God to cheer us and give us strength. For more on today’s reading, check out my One Year Bible blog:   Saul Dust

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