Category Archives: Bible Study

Saul vs. David: The heart of man vs. the heart of God

 

Recently while reading and teaching a small youth group lesson on Saul’s life, specifically his disobedience and the consequences he faced, God revealed a passage of truth to me in His Word.  As you may recall (and from a few posts I’ve made), Saul was Israel’s first king, anointed by Samuel, chosen by God.  I’ve discussed the warnings that God passed on through Samuel to the Israelites about their demands for a king and how they were not only rejecting Samuel, but ultimately rejecting God as their king.

For this lesson, we’ll pick up the story where Saul was about to engage in battle with the Philistines after Jonathon had defeated a garrison of Philistine troops in Geba.  I Samuel 13:3 As the tensions mounted and the Philistine troops were amassed, the Israelites found themselves cowering in caves and holes, those with Saul at Gilgal were likewise fearful.  I Samuel 13:6-7

Samuel had instructed Saul to wait seven days before taking any actions.  Because of his impatience, Saul decided to do what he thought best and offer a sacrifice to God, despite the fact that it was in direct contradiction with what God had commanded him.  In verse I Samuel 13:12 NKJV we hear Saul’s explanation for his disobedience, “Therefore I felt compelled,  and offered a burnt offering.”  Therefore I felt compelled….  Think about this for a second, we use this same excuse only worded differently when we sin.  Why did you do that?  Because I felt like it, because it felt good to me, because I wanted to, because I felt compelled, therefore I felt compelled.  This is the sinful nature of man’s heart.  To do what it is that we want to do, when we want to do, no matter the consequences.  Just as the Bible says in Judges 21:25b, “everyone did what was right in his own eyes” and Saul was a perfect and fitting example of this point.  This is the world in which we live in today.

But there is hope.  For after Saul came Israel’s great king.  After Saul came a man after God’s own heart. I Samuel 13:14 After Saul came King David.  David was also chosen by God and anointed by Samuel.  But instead of cowering when it came time to assume the throne, David waited on the Lord.  Just like Saul, David sinned, but his reaction was far greater.  With Saul, we learned that he sinned because he felt like it.  With David, we learn what it means to have heartfelt remorse, to pour out ones soul over the pain that we’ve caused our heavenly Father.

God used Nathan to “wake” David up from his sinful slumber.  After Nathan’s rebuke, David’s immediate response was, “I have sinned against the Lord.” II Samuel 12:13 Notice the difference when confronted by their sins. Saul said to Samuel that he felt compelled to do it.  David said to Nathan that he sinned against the Lord.  This is what is meant by being a “man after God’s own heart.”  David recognized his sin and through his heartfelt change, desired to become a better man in the Lord each day.  In fact we can read about his changes and about his remorse throughout the Psalms of David.  Take Psalm 25 for example:

To You, O LORD, I lift up my soul.
2 O my God, I trust in You;
Let me not be ashamed;
Let not my enemies triumph over me.
3 Indeed, let no one who waits on You be ashamed;
Let those be ashamed who deal treacherously without cause.

4 Show me Your ways, O LORD;
Teach me Your paths.
5 Lead me in Your truth and teach me,
For You are the God of my salvation;
On You I wait all the day.

6 Remember, O LORD, Your tender mercies and Your lovingkindnesses,
For they are from of old.
7 Do not remember the sins of my youth, nor my transgressions;
According to Your mercy remember me,
For Your goodness’ sake, O LORD.

8 Good and upright is the LORD;
Therefore He teaches sinners in the way.
9 The humble He guides in justice,
And the humble He teaches His way.
10 All the paths of the LORD are mercy and truth,
To such as keep His covenant and His testimonies.
11 For Your name’s sake, O LORD,
Pardon my iniquity, for it is great.

12 Who is the man that fears the LORD?
Him shall He teach in the way He chooses.
13 He himself shall dwell in prosperity,
And his descendants shall inherit the earth.
14 The secret of the LORD is with those who fear Him,
And He will show them His covenant.
15 My eyes are ever toward the LORD,
For He shall pluck my feet out of the net.

16 Turn Yourself to me, and have mercy on me,
For I am desolate and afflicted.
17 The troubles of my heart have enlarged;
Bring me out of my distresses!
18 Look on my affliction and my pain,
And forgive all my sins.
19 Consider my enemies, for they are many;
And they hate me with cruel hatred.
20 Keep my soul, and deliver me;
Let me not be ashamed, for I put my trust in You.
21 Let integrity and uprightness preserve me,
For I wait for You.

22 Redeem Israel, O God,
Out of all their troubles!

A far cry from, “Therefore I felt compelled.”  There are far too many people today with the heart of Saul and too few with the heart of David.  Whose heart represents yours?  One who callously shrugs off their sins, with a passing repentance of words?  Or the heart of the Lord, whose heartfelt remorse and repentance leads to a life change and a desire to live more like Christ each day?

By Faith

Essential to a Christian’s relationship with Jesus Christ is Faith. Faith that God created the world for His glory. Isaiah 43:7 Romans 1:20 Faith that God sent His Son to die on the cross for our sins. John 3:16 Faith that He rose again on the third day. I Corinthians 15:17 Faith that if we repent from our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness. I John 1:9 Faith that our repentance and belief in the name of the Lord Jesus creates in us a new life. Ephesians 2:8-9 Romans 10:13 And faith that our Savior will return and reunite with His church. John 14:2-4

But what is faith? Hebrews 11:1 tells us, “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” KJV That’s a pretty profound verse! “The substance of things hoped for”, what does that mean? Well, we use faith in our every day lives, but probably don’t give it a second thought. When we put the key in the ignition of our car, we have faith it will start. Cross a bridge and have faith that the engineers designed it to not fail. Going to sit in that chair? Better have faith that it will support you. The “substance” of what we hope for in these instances is in their reliability to not fail us, even though we really have no evidence or proof that they won’t. The difference is that these “things” will eventually fail. It is a faith in man, in things of this world.  One day your car won’t start, that bridge won’t last forever, it’ll one day need repairs, and that chair’s likely lifespan is only a few years if you’re lucky.

The only thing worth having faith in, that will not fail, is the unconditional love of Jesus Christ. He is where the substance of our hope should rest. Even though we have not seen Him with our eyes, the evidence is all around us. The Bible tells us in I Corinthians 2:9, “No eye has seen, no ear has heard, no mind has conceived what God has prepared for those who love him.” As Christians, the importance of faith cannot be understated. Proverbs 3:3 tells us, “Let love and faithfulness never leave you; bind them around your neck, write them on the tablet of your heart.” The Apostle Paul reminds us to prepare ourselves for spiritual battle with the Armor of God, which includes the Shield of Faith, to extinguish the fiery darts from the evil one. Ephesians 6:16 In military terms, the shield allows for attacks to be deflected and kept away from the body. In fact, the 2nd century Roman historian Cornelius Tacitus states, “To lose one’s shield is the basest of crimes.” What a beautiful analogy to apply to the Shield of Faith. Keep hold of it! Jesus tells us in Matthew 17:20 that faith the size of a mustard seed can move a mountain and that with it nothing is impossible. Hebrews 11 is filled with a history of faith that’s exhibited by a who’s who of biblical characters to complete many amazing feats. In fact, the word faith is mentioned 25 times (NIV) in this chapter alone. But for all of their faith, “These were all commended for their faith, yet none of them received what had been promised. God had planned something better for us so that only together with us would they be made perfect.” Hebrews 11:39-40 The promise that they did receive because of their faith was eternal life in the Kingdom of Heaven.

Not only is it important to realize the power of strong faith, but it is perhaps even more important to realize that our God is faithful. As I alluded to earlier, if we confess our sins, God is faithful and just to forgive. I John 1:9 The Lord’s faithfulness is magnificent and worthy of praise. The psalmist, King David, sings of God’s faithfulness in Psalm 100:5, “For the Lord is good and his love endures forever; his faithfulness continues through all generations.” David praises the Lord’s faithfulness throughout Psalms and does so elegantly in Psalm 57:10, “For great is your love, reaching to the heavens; your faithfulness reaches to the skies.” The Lord wants us to understand that His faithfulness is unconditional, as is His love. He abounds with love and faithfulness and expects us to model our lives in the same manner.

Many times in our lives it’s easy to talk about faith, especially when things are going well. But it’s when we’re in the midst of a storm that faith is most important. It’s at our lowest point when we grab hold of our faith. How then do we achieve it? The Bible tells us, “So then faith cometh by hearing and hearing by the Word of God.” Romans 10:17 Achieving faith goes back to our foundation on the Bible. http://voiceoftruthblog.com/?p=5 Paul’s description of the shield of faith was inclusive of the full Armor of God. Did warriors enter battle with a shield alone? No, it works in tandem with every piece of armor and we therefore are charged to, “…Put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the saints.” Ephesians 6:13-18 Faith is so important in our daily lives. For Christians, we need only to open God’s word to increase our Faith. For non-Christians, you need to understand that faith in yourself, other people, and things of this world will inevitably fail you. The only infallible faith is that in Jesus Christ. It is available to you if you just reach out for it. In order to begin your journey into faith, you need only to step out of your worldly comfort zone and receive Christ as your Savior. To do so, simply click here http://voiceoftruthblog.com/?page_id=3 or click on the Knowing the Truth tab above.

Have a blessed day!

Trial by Fire

Many times in life (like now for me!) we’re faced with what seems like insurmountable odds. Such obstacles are those that we allow to sap our strength and question our faith. These trials by fire strike at our very core in what often can be described as character defining moments. To help illustrate this point, I want to paint a picture of the power of fire. Its ability to destroy virtually everything in its path, including property, forests, and plains. Fire can quite simply be summed up as devastatingly uncontrollable. But is it always bad? Can we only focus on the negative destructive forces or is there growth that can come from it?

Let’s answer those questions by looking at how nature responds to her trials by fire. No doubt we’ve seen or experienced the devastation of fire and its smoldering charred path. But were you aware that several plant species use fire as an opportunity for growth? For example, some plants shield their vital organs, like the Ponderosa pine, while others are equipped with moist tissues to absorb the heat. Others, like the Australian grass trees see fire as an opportunity to bloom and may in fact only bloom after a fire. Still other plants use fire as a way to promote their own reproduction by replacing those plants that were scorched by the flames. Fire also has the power to sweep through a forest clearing out underbrush and weeds that would eventually choke out other vegetation. So essentially, in nature, fire is capable of bringing growth.

How can we relate this to our lives? Well, perhaps the most inspirational biblical figure for growth via trial by fire is Job. Job was a God fearing, blameless, and upright man. He would be considered wealthy by even today’s standards and had been blessed with 7 sons and 3 daughters. As many of you might already know, God allowed Satan to test Job’s resolve and his faithfulness to the Lord. Satan took all of Job’s wealth, every child of his along with his servants and livestock died, everything was gone. Except for Job’s spirit; that’s the one thing that Satan had no control over. Job’s reply to his losses was, “Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked I will depart. The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away; may the name of the Lord be praised.” Job 1:21 Job was then afflicted physically with painful sores. Despite his wife’s admonition, “Are you still holding on to your integrity? Curse God and die!” Job was steadfast in his reply, “You are talking like a foolish woman. Shall we accept good from God, and not trouble?” Job 2:9-10 In all of these trials, Job remained unwavering and did not sin. Though most of Job is actually a poem, it might best be described as a “tragedy”. What follows throughout the rest of the book is a continuation of Job’s trials, all the while being mocked by people for not cursing God. But Job weathered the fiery storm. After his storm, the Lord blessed Job with twice as much wealth than he originally had and blessed the later part of his life more than the first.

The story of Job should serve as inspiration to not only worship God in times of blessings, but also praise Him in our storms. In every trial there is opportunity for growth, but it’s how we respond to it that defines who we are. Our lives should mirror nature’s response to fire by exhibiting growth and Job’s resolve to remain steadfast in the Lord during that process. We likewise should see it as an opportunity to prepare ourselves for trials spiritually through prayer and reading the Word of God. And they will come, Christian or not. We need to view these times as character building moments that allow us to bloom and seize control of areas in our lives that we wouldn’t otherwise be able to grow in.