RAF: While Jesus walked the earth, though the anointed King to come, nevertheless, He did nothing to overthrow or harm those authorities the Father had set in place. He bids His disciples to submit to them, in spite of their corruption. He could have come and judged all. But He did not come the first time to judge – rather to save. He will come again. The next time it will be to judge the earth in righteousness. But how He treated the lives of those who hated Him as precious. How He did not revile them when reviled. How He remained harmless, though they sought His life to take it. How He called to them and sought to have them reconciled. But they would not.
2 – “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. Then Saul said to his servants, “Seek out for me a woman who is a medium, that I may go to her and inquire of her.” And his servants said to him, “Behold, there is a medium at En-dor.”” (1 Samuel 28:5-7, ESV)
RAF: When our fellowship with God broken due to sin, when His Word grows silent and we seem to be bereft of His help – we would rather seek counsel from the world than go to Him and be reconciled. Our hearts are so stubborn. Father, forgive me.
3 – “And Samuel said, “Why then do you ask me, since the Lord has turned from you and become your enemy? The Lord has done to you as he spoke by me, for the Lord has torn the kingdom out of your hand and given it to your neighbor, David. Because you did not obey the voice of the Lord and did not carry out his fierce wrath against Amalek, therefore the Lord has done this thing to you this day. Moreover, the Lord will give Israel also with you into the hand of the Philistines, and tomorrow you and your sons shall be with me. The Lord will give the army of Israel also into the hand of the Philistines.”” (1 Samuel 28:16-19, ESV)
RAF: Note first how Saul is only concerned with his immediate and temporal circumstances and not by the fact he is now steeped in an abomination in his rebellion against God. He is as it were seeking God’s help by the most illicit means. How far off track we can get when we are not walking in fellowship with God. Going to bizarre extremes and pursuing things we know full well are contrary to Him – all the while aching from our need of Him. Note secondly that he simply will not repent and set things right with God. He would rather skulk around in this wicked way, than confess his sin and seek God’s mercy and true direction. We will run from one fad to another, one quasi-spiritual thing to another, to things on the mere fringe of legitimacy – but not cave in and yield fully to Him. We are attempting to have God on our terms, rather than God having us on His terms. No wonder we feel helpless and abandoned. We have abandoned Him. Note thirdly to what extent God still goes to confront Saul. Even to the point of addressing him in the very act of committing this abomination. Ever faithful, he sends the spirit of Samuel to hit him head on with the truth. Here is one more opportunity to repent. One more opportunity to stop playing the fool. But he will not listen. He acts as though all is simply determined and he has no role in it.
4 – “And David was greatly distressed, for the people spoke of stoning him, because all the people were bitter in soul, each for his sons and daughters. But David strengthened himself in the Lord his God.” (1 Samuel 30:6, ESV)
RAF: There will be times when even those closest to us will be of no help and support. How we need to learn the holy craft of strengthening ourselves in the Lord our God. Our Lord, the one we serve, is God. We can trust Him.
5 – “So David set out, and the six hundred men who were with him, and they came to the brook Besor, where those who were left behind stayed. But David pursued, he and four hundred men. Two hundred stayed behind, who were too exhausted to cross the brook Besor.” (1 Samuel 30:9-10, ESV)
RAF: Leadership needs to account for the varying degrees of stamina even among our choicest laborers. We must discern when it is time to let them rest, while we continue on with necessary things – and to do so without resentment.
6 – “Then all the wicked and worthless fellows among the men who had gone with David said, “Because they did not go with us, we will not give them any of the spoil that we have recovered, except that each man may lead away his wife and children, and depart.” But David said, “You shall not do so, my brothers, with what the Lord has given us. He has preserved us and given into our hand the band that came against us. Who would listen to you in this matter? For as his share is who goes down into the battle, so shall his share be who stays by the baggage. They shall share alike.” And he made it a statute and a rule for Israel from that day forward to this day.” (1 Samuel 30:22-25, ESV)
RAF: Let those with greater gifts to bear the heat of the day not look down on those who are not as able. The whole Body of Christ is of equal importance when we consider we cannot be whole with any part missing. God has made it so. May we not forget it.
7 – “ Now the Philistines fought against Israel, and the men of Israel fled before the Philistines and fell slain on Mount Gilboa. And the Philistines overtook Saul and his sons, and the Philistines struck down Jonathan and Abinadab and Malchi-shua, the sons of Saul.” (1 Samuel 31:1-2, ESV)
RAF: While the Body of Christ is one, it is not monolithic. David and his band can be moving ahead with great impact, while Saul and his army can be suffering excruciating defeat. Neither one can judge the health and welfare of the whole from their own vantage point. Yet we tend to imagine the Church to be in wonderful shape or in horrid shape based solely upon the framework from which we view it. To those who are discouraged – know that God is doing great things in places through His church, though it may seem dismal where you are. And to those who are enjoying a season of great fruitfulness, don’t forget that in many places the church is in sorry condition and even under God’s judgment.
8 – “And he said to me, ‘Who are you?’ I answered him, ‘I am an Amalekite.’ And he said to me ‘Stand beside me and kill me, for anguish has seized me, and yet my life still lingers.’ So I stood beside him and killed him, because I was sure that he could not live after he had fallen. And I took the crown that was on his head and the armlet that was on his arm, and I have brought them here to my lord.”” (2 Samuel 1:8-10, ESV)
RAF: It is significant that the man who took Saul’s life and crown was an Amalekite. The kingdom was taken away from Saul because of his failure to obey completely when God told him to utterly destroy the Amalekites. 1 Samuel 15. Those sins we fail to deal with thoroughly will prove to be the sins of our undoing.
9 – “Then David took hold of his clothes and tore them, and so did all the men who were with him. And they mourned and wept and fasted until evening for Saul and for Jonathan his son and for the people of the Lord and for the house of Israel, because they had fallen by the sword.” (2 Samuel 1:11-12, ESV)
RAF: May we never be guilty of gloating over the demise of even the poorest of God’s people. Saul was not a good man. He was a failure as a father and a king. He served God miserably. But make no mistake, he was God’s appointed king. There are those in the Body of Christ who will prove be grievous disgraces. But our hearts ought never to be lifted up in their fall. Grief is the first and most appropriate response. Grieve, but do not gloat.
10 – “Tell it not in Gath, publish it not in the streets of Ashkelon, lest the daughters of the Philistines rejoice, lest the daughters of the uncircumcised exult.” (2 Samuel 1:20, ESV)
RAF: Do not give the world a chance to exult in the sad failures of God’s people. Let us not be quick to make news of our fallen brothers and sisters.
11 – “ There was a long war between the house of Saul and the house of David. And David grew stronger and stronger, while the house of Saul became weaker and weaker.” (2 Samuel 3:1, ESV)
RAF: There is little more wearying and grievous to sound leadership than the infighting that sometimes goes on between those who ought to be brothers and united. Lord, deliver us from it. It is the destruction of many a local church.
12 – “And when Abner returned to Hebron, Joab took him aside into the midst of the gate to speak with him privately, and there he struck him in the stomach, so that he died, for the blood of Asahel his brother.” (2 Samuel 3:27, ESV)
RAF: It is a woeful and destructive thing to mix our personal agendas up with Kingdom matters. While Joab professed his concern was that Abner was merely spying on David to bring him down, in truth, he was really motivated by revenge. But how we cover these things up to others, and perhaps even to deceiving our own selves. Beware.
13 – “ Then David said to Joab and to all the people who were with him, “Tear your clothes and put on sackcloth and mourn before Abner.” And King David followed the bier. They buried Abner at Hebron. And the king lifted up his voice and wept at the grave of Abner, and all the people wept.” (2 Samuel 3:31-32, ESV)
RAF: Great men are to be honored as great men irrespective of their relationship to us.
14 – “And the Philistines came up yet again and spread out in the Valley of Rephaim. And when David inquired of the Lord, he said, “You shall not go up; go around to their rear, and come against them opposite the balsam trees. And when you hear the sound of marching in the tops of the balsam trees, then rouse yourself, for then the Lord has gone out before you to strike down the army of the Philistines.” And David did as the Lord commanded him, and struck down the Philistines from Geba to Gezer.” (2 Samuel 5:22-25, ESV)
RAF: Success in the Christian life cannot be reduced to formulas. We must look to God in each and every case.
15 – “ And David and all the house of Israel were making merry before the Lord, with songs and lyres and harps and tambourines and castanets and cymbals. And when they came to the threshing floor of Nacon, Uzzah put out his hand to the ark of God and took hold of it, for the oxen stumbled. And the anger of the Lord was kindled against Uzzah, and God struck him down there because of his error, and he died there beside the ark of God.” (2 Samuel 6:5-7, ESV)
RAF: Actions bred out of the best of intentions, can nevertheless be ill-conceived, and result in disaster. We must be careful to seek out God’s instructions before we undertake even what seems natural and laudable to us at first glance.
16 – “When your days are fulfilled and you lie down with your fathers, I will raise up your offspring after you, who shall come from your body, and I will establish his kingdom. He shall build a house for my name, and I will establish the throne of his kingdom forever.” (2 Samuel 7:12-13, ESV)
RAF: A good and right desire is not in and of itself sufficient to be permission to act. David was not the one to build God’s house, though his every intention was good. Many would enter ministry imagining that their strong desire in and of itself is an indication they ought to do it. Perhaps some, like David, need to recognize that this will be the work of others. They, like he, can contribute to it and prepare for it. But beware of confusing intense desire – even a right one – with God’s “call.”
17 – “ So David reigned over all Israel. And David administered justice and equity to all his people.” (2 Samuel 8:15, ESV)
RAF: What a type of Christ!