Day 142 – May 22, 2021
Scriptures: 1 Samuel 20-22, Psalm 52
“When Doeg the Edomite had gone to Saul and told him: “David has gone to the house of Ahimelek.”
“But I am like an olive tree flourishing in the house of God; I trust in God’s unfailing love for ever and ever. For what you have done I will always praise you in the presence of your faithful people. And I will hope in your name, for your name is good.” (Psalm 52:8–9)
In our reading today, we read of the tragedy of Saul. His anger, jealousy and bitterness is getting the best of him. Violence is the fruit of his heart.
David is on the run. And Psalm 52 is a response to the news that Doeg had revealed where he was.
“Your tongue plots destruction.”
David is hurt at the deceitful scheming of Doeg and Saul and has every reason to be fearful for his life. In the midst of this despair and hurt, he says, “I trust in God’s unfailing love for ever and ever.”
Despite great fear and the threat on his life, David turns to God and trusts in his good name.
Trust in the Lord, in his unfailing love!
Day 141 – May 21, 2021
Scriptures: 1 Samuel 18 – 19, Psalm 42-43, Psalm 55
“Cast your cares on the Lord and he will sustain you; he will never let the righteous be shaken. But you, God, will bring down the wicked into the pit of decay; the bloodthirsty and deceitful will not live out half their days. But as for me, I trust in you.” (Psalm 55:22–23)
Psalm 55 offers a nice summary of what we read in 1 Samuel 18-19.
David’s life is threatened by Saul, and the Philistines.
David has God on his side and blesses him. He cares for him, delivers him and gives his enemies into his hands.
When reading the Psalms, we are encouraged that David has experienced God in the midst of incredible despair. We can trust that he knows what is best, “Cast your cares on the Lord and he will sustain you.”
David has been through quite a lot and his poems give us great insight into the faithfulness and trustworthiness of God.
Cast your cares on the Lord, he will sustain you!
Day 140 – May 20, 2021
Scriptures: 1 Samuel 17, Psalm 27
“Be Strong and take Heart, wait for the Lord.”
1 Samuel 17 tells us of the familiar story of David and Goliath. This story makes up the fabric of our culture. When a 15 seed beats a 2 seed in the NCAA tournament we get excited that David beat Goliath. Or if there is an incredible disparity between talent, the game is built up as a matchup between David and Goliath.
Is that the purpose of David and Goliath? To inspire the underdogs of the world? We tell people to go slay their giants. Is David and Goliath’s purpose to be fodder for a motivational speech to defeat our enemies?
I’m sorry to disappoint, but no, I don’t think so.
The story’s purpose is to inspire us in the worship and loyalty to our God. The point is not that David rose to the challenge, but that God proved himself faithful. There was no way possible for the giant to fall, but he does, at the hands of God.
It is like this story that we read a few days ago:
“After the Philistines had captured the ark of God, they took it from Ebenezer to Ashdod. Then they carried the ark into Dagon’s temple and set it beside Dagon. When the people of Ashdod rose early the next day, there was Dagon, fallen on his face on the ground before the ark of the Lord! They took Dagon and put him back in his place. But the following morning when they rose, there was Dagon, fallen on his face on the ground before the ark of the Lord! His head and hands had been broken off and were lying on the threshold; only his body remained. That is why to this day neither the priests of Dagon nor any others who enter Dagon’s temple at Ashdod step on the threshold. The Lord’s hand was heavy on the people of Ashdod and its vicinity; he brought devastation on them and afflicted them with tumors.” (1 Samuel 5:1–6, TNIV)
The Philistine god Dagon falls and God decapitates him. David now decapitates the fallen Philistine champion Goliath.
God is showing himself mightier than all other gods. In this narrative, God is proving himself over the Philistines. But this is quite similar to what God does throughout Exodus to show himself superior to the gods of Egypt. God is the Lord Almighty.
God’s faithfulness, accompanied by the trust of David in this moment, works to renew the Israelites faith in God. They cowered in fear of the Philistines. When the Philistine champion falls, it serves as proof enough for the Israelites to renew their strength and they shout and scream and run after them!
David reflects back, “The Lord is my light and my salvation— whom shall I fear? The Lord is the stronghold of my life— of whom shall I be afraid?” (Psalm 27:1)
With God as the stronghold of our life, of whom shall we be afraid?
Have a great day!
Day 138 - May 18, 2021
Scriptures: 1 Samuel 13-14, Titus 2
“For the grace of God has appeared that offers salvation to all people. It teaches us to say “No” to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age, while we wait for the blessed hope—the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ, who gave himself for us to redeem us from all wickedness and to purify for himself a people that are his very own, eager to do what is good.” (Titus 2:11–14)
When we consider Saul, what we see is a man who is powerful and effective. He is, by nearly every measure, an excellent leader. He recruits the best, and gets the best out of his men. They are victorious over their enemies.
But there is serious lack in his character. We see powerful and effective leaders in our world today. We are envious of their leadership and skill, they accomplish much. The leadership call of Titus leads us to a different leader. One who is humble, and we can say of those who are mature in the faith, they are reverent, self-controlled, sound in doctrine. They live upright and godly lives, worthy of being followed.
Power and effectiveness are attractive for war. The brute strength and force of Saul got things done.
But it is the humble, those with great integrity, who revere God, whom God is greatly pleased.
Pay attention to your heart!
Day 139 – May 19, 2021
Scriptures: 1 Samuel 15-16, Titus 3
“But Samuel replied: “Does the Lord delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices as much as in obeying the Lord?To obey is better than sacrifice, and to heed is better than the fat of rams.” (1 Samuel 15:22)
“But when the kindness and love of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us generously through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that, having been justified by his grace, we might become heirs having the hope of eternal life. This is a trustworthy saying. And I want you to stress these things, so that those who have trusted in God may be careful to devote themselves to doing what is good. These things are excellent and profitable for everyone.” (Titus 3:4–8)
There is a tension between our texts today. There is Saul, who has made the mistake of turning away from the Lord, and there is Paul, who is calling us towards obedience. Paul says, “Be careful to devote yourself to doing what is good.”
Saul’s failure is our failure. We have all sinned and fall short of the glory of God. Paul says of this, “He saved us, not because of righteous things we have done, but because of his mercy.”
It’s not about our sacrifice, it’s about the sacrifice of Jesus pouring out generously his love for us.
The connection here is significant. Samuel taught Saul that God desires obedience over sacrifice.
Jesus teaches us that his obedience, that led to his sacrifice, is so that we may have a new birth into a new life, devoted to God.
The connection here is important. Jesus’ sacrifice ends all sacrifice. We have forgiveness and new life in Christ. The OT took seriously sin and obedience and the sacrificial system. In this account of Saul’s failures we are given a hint of things to come. It leads us to see a righteousness that is not of ourselves, but given us through the love of Christ.
Devote yourselves to what is good!
Day 137 – May 17, 2021
Scriptures: 1 Samuel 10-12, Titus 1
Bible Project: Titus
Connecting the text:
Today’s reading has us looking at the character of Samuel, as well as the character of godly leaders in the church. They are to be honest, peaceful, self-controlled people. Samuel served the Lord faithfully all the days of his life. All of Israel attests to it. Leadership in the church is held to a similar standard.
Let’s continue from yesterday’s reading and understanding the deviation from God’s plan that occurs with Israel’s request for a King. Despite their betrayal of God, he will work with a king. Samuel recounts the story of Israel, and redirects them towards faithfulness:
“Now here is the king you have chosen, the one you asked for; see, the Lord has set a king over you. If you fear the Lord and serve and obey him and do not rebel against his commands, and if both you and the king who reigns over you follow the Lord your God—good! But if you do not obey the Lord, and if you rebel against his commands, his hand will be against you, as it was against your ancestors.” (1 Samuel 12:13–15)
““Do not be afraid,” Samuel replied. “You have done all this evil; yet do not turn away from the Lord, but serve the Lord with all your heart. Do not turn away after useless idols. They can do you no good, nor can they rescue you, because they are useless. For the sake of his great name the Lord will not reject his people, because the Lord was pleased to make you his own. As for me, far be it from me that I should sin against the Lord by failing to pray for you. And I will teach you the way that is good and right. But be sure to fear the Lord and serve him faithfully with all your heart; consider what great things he has done for you. Yet if you persist in doing evil, both you and your king will perish.”” (1 Samuel 12:20–25)
It’s always about the hearts of people. Whether we are leaders or followers. Where the heart of the leader goes, often goes the followers.
It’s why it is so incredibly important that we appoint godly people to lead.
It’s why it is incredibly important that we turn to and trust in the one to lead us who is truly righteous, Jesus our King.
Jesus is our king, let us follow him!
Day 136 – May 16, 2021
Scriptures: 1 Samuel 7-9, Psalm 124
REMEMBER THIS: “Our help is in the name of the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth.” (Psalm 124:8)
“When they had assembled at Mizpah, they drew water and poured it out before the Lord. On that day they fasted and there they confessed, “We have sinned against the Lord.” Now Samuel was serving as leader of Israel at Mizpah.” (1 Samuel 7:6)
“Samuel continued as Israel’s leader all the days of his life. From year to year he went on a circuit from Bethel to Gilgal to Mizpah, judging Israel in all those places. But he always went back to Ramah, where his home was, and there he also held court for Israel. And he built an altar there to the Lord.” (1 Samuel 7:15–17)
One of my favorite books is “Dream Big, Think Small,” written by Jeff Manion. He uses 1 Sam 7:15-17 to talk about the every day faithfulness we are called to in following Jesus. Samuel served the Lord, all the days of his life. He was a circuit riding judge, caring for the affairs of Israel, faithfully all of his life. May the same be said of us.
THERE IS A REALLY IMPORTANT DEVELOPMENT IN THE STORY OF ISRAEL THAT HAPPENS IN 1 SAM 8:
“So all the elders of Israel gathered together and came to Samuel at Ramah. They said to him, “You are old, and your sons do not follow your ways; now appoint a king to lead us, such as all the other nations have.”” (1 Samuel 8:4–5)
“And the Lord told him: “Listen to all that the people are saying to you; it is not you they have rejected, but they have rejected me as their king.” (1 Samuel 8:7)
“But the people refused to listen to Samuel. “No!” they said. “We want a king over us. Then we will be like all the other nations, with a king to lead us and to go out before us and fight our battles.”” (1 Samuel 8:19–20, TNIV)
REMEMBER THIS: “Our help is in the name of the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth.” (Psalm 124:8)
Israel seeking a King was a betrayal of loyalty. God was to be their King. Not a man.
God will restore this, when Jesus, God’s own son, becomes King over his kingdom. The story of the Gospels is how Jesus becomes King, the rightful one who calls for our allegiance and devotion.
Israel having a king does not work out well for them. They will compromise their witness, division will come, and great pain will be felt throughout the kingdom. Samuel warns them. They reject the warning. Give us a King!
This same rejection will happen at the betrayal of Jesus at his arrest and trial. "We have no King but Cesar!"
Today’s the day to make Jesus your King!
“Our help is in the name of the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth.” (Psalm 124:8)
Day 134 – May 14, 2021
Scriptures: 1 Samuel 1-2, Psalm 113
BIBLE PROJECT: 1 Samuel
“He settles the childless woman in her home as a happy mother of children. Praise the Lord.” (Psalm 113:9)
There is a lot going on in the narrative of 1 Samuel. The opening of the book gives us insight into the state of Israel and the heart of the people.
Eli is a priest, and his sons are crooks. They are corrupt and evil.
Contrasting Eli’s boys is Samuel. Samuel, as we discover, is the son of Hannah. A righteous woman who pleads with God for a child. She honors her commitment to dedicate her child to the service of God.
God blesses her with many more children.
The opening of the 1 Samuel story appears to be a continuation of the evil done in the book of Judges. Not much has changed. Judges ends with a word about the people being without a king and doing as they please. The foundation is being laid for a king to come. Samuel will play a part in the naming of a king.
But for now. We join with the Praise of Psalm 113,
“Who is like the Lord our God, the One who sits enthroned on high,” (Psalm 113:5)
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Have a great day!
Day 133 – May 13, 2021
Scriptures: Judges 20-21, 2 Peter 3
“In those days Israel had no king; everyone did as they saw fit.” (Judges 21:25)
“Above all, you must understand that in the last days scoffers will come, scoffing and following their own evil desires.” (2 Peter 3:3)
The sin of Israel caused a bit of a civil war among the tribes of Israel. They’ve turned on one another, causing a terrible conflict that inflicts more death and suffering on the nation of Israel.
Many have turned their backs on God and “everyone did as they saw fit.”
Peter looks at the world in which the church is placed, and sees many who do as they see fit. People following their own evil desires and a complete disregard for God.
“Since everything will be destroyed in this way, what kind of people ought you to be? You ought to live holy and godly lives” (2 Peter 3:11, TNIV)
There is, in Peter’s view and other NT writers, a judgment coming. Everything will be exposed, and what is evil, will be completely destroyed. In light of the truth of a new heaven and a new earth that is coming soon, Peter calls Christians to live a holy and godly life.
We are also told of the patience of God. He doesn’t desire that anyone should perish. God was serious about this, at the flood. It pained him to have to start over, but he had to. And when it comes to the suffering now, the evil now, there will come a time when God will have exhausted his patience.
For the time being, we are called to live a holy life, set apart from God. Knowing that God desires for all to be saved.
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Day 132 – May 12, 2021
Scriptures: Judges 18-19, 2 Peter 2
In our reading of Judges, we see again and again the struggle of the Israelites to follow the Lord. It is not too difficult to see a connection in our 2 Peter reading:
“They promise them freedom, while they themselves are slaves of depravity—for “people are slaves to whatever has mastered them.” If they have escaped the corruption of the world by knowing our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ and are again entangled in it and are overcome, they are worse off at the end than they were at the beginning. It would have been better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than to have known it and then to turn their backs on the sacred command that was passed on to them.” (2 Peter 2:19–21, TNIV)
Peter takes a stand against sin. He calls on the people to stay with the Lord and leave a life of sin. His argument is basically, “Ignorance is bliss" compared to knowing the Lord and turning from him.
But they can’t claim ignorance. They know of Jesus as Lord. Why continue in sin?
Peter is concerned for the heart of the people. There are those who are enticing the church to backslide back into sin. It’s been a struggle for God’s people for generations. As we see over and over again in the book of Judges.
There is a monumental difference though, between the Old and New. It’s the forgiveness of Christ.
We are wise to hear the sermon from John the Baptist, “Bear fruit, worthy of repentance.”
Have a great day!
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Jordan Ickes, Minister of Etna Green Church of Christ.