Tag Archives: king David

Victory In The Valley

Throwback Thursday is a new feature I’m using to help build some margin into my schedule to pursue other writing ventures. Each Thursday I’ll be bringing you a previously written devotional that still speaks encouragement to us from God’s Word.

When reading the story of David and Goliath recently, I noticed something I had read over. I Samuel 17:3 says, “So the Philistines and Israelites faced each other on opposite hills, with the valley between them” (NLT). I had never picked up that there was a valley between the two sides. Then verse 40 says, “He (David) picked up five smooth stones from a stream and put them into his shepherd’s bag. Then, armed only with his shepherd’s staff and sling, he started across the valley to fight the Philistine.” David had to go into the valley to win the victory.

You won’t win victory standing where you are. You are going to have to make the first move. For 40 days, the Israelites were paralyzed by fear. Each day Goliath invited them to fight him, but they stayed put. When David heard Goliath’s taunts, he didn’t get fearful, he got a righteous anger. He knew that this was a spiritual battle that had to be handled in the physical as well. To win the spiritual battle, he’d have to enter the valley and trust God.

Fast forward 14 generations, Jesus was fighting a spiritual battle that required Him to enter a valley as well. John 18:1 says, “After saying these things, Jesus crossed the Kidron Valley with his disciples and entered a grove of olive trees.” The battle He was fighting was to have the courage to do what God wanted while facing the fear of dying a torturous death on a cross. He could have stayed where He was, but He entered the valley to pray that God’s will be done.

Both David and Jesus recognized that the battle was the Lord’s. They both knew who was fighting on their behalf. That gave them the courage to walk into what seemed like certain death in order to obtain the victory. You and I have to have the same tenacity in prayer and desire to go into the valley if we are going to win our spiritual battles. We are going to have to let go of fear and embrace what God wants to do, enter the valley in front of us, and fight on our knees for victory.

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God Sees

Have you ever felt like God was a million miles away, especially when you needed Him most? I have, and so have others. Even King David felt that way. In Psalm 10:1 he wrote, “Why are you so far away, O Lord? Why do you hide yourself when we are in trouble?” (GNT) I don’t know if it’s because we are so focused on our problem or we expect God to transport us out of the situation that causes us to feel like He’s so far away in those times.

Hagar, the mother of Abraham’s first child, felt that way too. She had been run off by Abraham’s wife because she had gotten pregnant. While she was running from her problems, an angel met her and asked where she was going. She explained how hard things were and that she felt abandoned. The angel told her to name her son Ishmael which means “God hears”. He also told her to go back to the situation she was in. She named the place Beer-Lahai-Roi which means “Well of the God who sees me”.

From that, we know that God hears us and sees us. He’s not a million miles away. There’s often times when He puts us back into situations or doesn’t take us out because He is teaching us and molding us. If we run from hard times, we will miss out on becoming who He was forming us to be. A piece of clay isn’t able to be used until it goes through the fire. Until then, it will easily crumble and the potter has to start over.

Not only did God hear Hagar’s cry for help, He heard David’s. Going back to Psalm 10, David answers his own question in verse 14. It says, “But you do see; you take notice of trouble and suffering and are always ready to help. The helpless commit themselves to you; you have always helped the needy.” If God saw Hagar and David, He sees and hears you. He’s not a million miles from you. He’s right there with you, walking through this right beside you. He is the God who sees you, and He’s working things out for your good even if you can’t see it.

Photo by Tegan Mierle on Unsplash

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Abandoned 


To abandon someone is to quit supporting them or to give up on them. If you’ve ever been through some of life’s toughest circumstances, you know what it’s like to be abandoned by some of your family or friends. You find out that there are people in your life that you can count on, and there are people that you can’t. When you’re looking for advice, a place to regroup, or just a shelter from the storm, some people that you seek out will abandon you. Some of the ones who you thought would support you through thick and thin give up on you.

David was a person who knew a thing or two about being abandoned. He was forgotten by his father, disrespected by his brothers, shamed by his wife, chased by the king, and dishonored by his son. The people in his life that he should have been able to count on, turned their backs on him at some point in his life. He knew a thing or two about rock bottom. He looked for those he could count on in times of trouble.

In all of his searching, there was one who never abandoned him. God. David wasn’t a perfect man either. He cheated on his wife, had a man murdered, and did some unthinkable things. Yet when he sought after God, he knew that no matter what he had done, God would not abandon him. He knew that there was nothing he had done that God couldn’t or wouldn’t forgive. When others gave up on him, God never did. In fact, God said he was a man after His own heart. 

You may have walked David’s shoes. Maybe you’ve been abandoned by those who love you or you’ve abandoned the things you know are right. Either way, if you will seek God, He won’t abandon you. Psalm 9:10 says, “Those who know you, Lord, will trust you; you do not abandon anyone who comes to you” (GNT). It doesn’t matter what’s been done to you or what you’ve done to others, you can find shelter, hope, and forgiveness in God when you seek Him out.

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Spiritual Maturity

Do you remember the moment you began to appreciate what your parents had done for you, and you wanted to do something for them to show it? A child never really knows or understands the sacrifices their parents make for them. They don’t know how many things their parents gave up of what they wanted to do so the child could do what they wanted. Parents instinctively love their children and do things for them not expecting anything in return. When the child begins to understand all their parents have done, it’s usually when they’re an adult.

That mark of maturity can also be seen in a spiritual sense. One of the signs of spiritual maturity is when you no longer see God as a genie in the sky whose job it is to give you what you want and pray for. When He moves from just your provider in your life to all the other things He wants to be, you begin to have a deeper understanding of who He is. God’s desire for us is to move into spiritual maturity.

One night as David was in his palace, and I imagine he was thinking of how far he had come since tending the sheep. I’m sure as he looked the ceiling, he remembered how many times before he was out in the elements. As he thought about these things, another thought came to him. So in II Samuel 7:2, he went to the prophet Nathan and said, “Here I am living in a house built of cedar, but God’s Covenant Box is kept in a tent!” (GNT) David had an aha moment that night. He decided that he wanted to do something for God instead of asking Him for something.

Imagine that. It’s no wonder David was known as a man after God’s own heart. He was deeply flawed, yet he was mature enough to know God beyond the surface level. He wasn’t scared to dive into the heart of God to know who He is, nor should we be. God will reveal Himself to each of us to the extent we are willing to spend time with Him. You will find that the closer you get to the heart of God, the more your life will change to reflect His holiness. Spiritual maturity is possible, but it will take you getting your eyes off yourself and onto Him.

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Strength And Peace

  
There are two things I find I need most often: strength and peace. There have been so many times I cry out to God, “I can’t do this on my own anymore. I don’t have the strength to go any further.” I always wonder if God gets impatient with me in those times. I wonder if he says, “Again? When will you learn?” I know that the joy of the Lord is my strength, but I somehow allow my situation to steal that joy which leaves me weak and vulnerable.

David must have felt this way pretty often as well. When I read the Psalms, they don’t always line up with this bad to the bone warrior I’ve built up in my mind. They often show an insecure person who struggles with his situations. It’s in conflict with the mental image I have of him, but the truth is, they show someone just as human as the rest of us. They show an accomplished person who loves God, but still relies on Him for everything.

I like being a self sufficient person. I like not needing to have to have help, but those are not qualities God admires. David was known as a man after God’s own heart. He was a man who wasn’t afraid to cry out to God for help all the time. The things that I think make him appear weak are the things God finds as strengths. We were not made to fight our battles on our own. We were not made to fight alone. We were not made to be self sufficient. We are to find our strength and sufficiency in Him.

In Psalm 29, David talks about how powerful the voice of the Lord is. He writes great acclamations of God, and then he finishes with a truth that is very relevant to us. In verse 11 he says, “The LORD gives his people strength. The LORD blesses them with peace” (NLT). Strength and peace are gifts from God. To act like we don’t need them is to deny God from giving them to us as blessings. David had it right. We need God’s strength and peace more than we care to admit. If we are willing to get over our pride and to ask Him for them, He is willing to give them to us.

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Look At Your Heart (Video)

6 When they arrived, Samuel saw Jesse’s son Eliab and said to himself, “This man standing here in the Lord’s presence is surely the one he has chosen.” 7 But the Lord said to him, “Pay no attention to how tall and handsome he is. I have rejected him, because I do not judge as people judge. They look at the outward appearance, but I look at the heart.”

I Samuel 16:6-7

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Spiritual Superhero

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As a kid, King David was my favorite person in the Bible. I heard the story of how he faced a giant when everyone else was afraid. I heard how courageous he was when he fought in battles. I learned that he had one of the greatest friendships in the Bible. He was presented to me as a model person. After all, he was a man after God’s own heart. With all these stories and Bible lessons, I had built up quite the person in my head. He was pretty much the closest thing to a superhero in the Bible.

As I grew older, I learned more about David. I read about his indiscretion with Bathsheba. I found out that he was a murderer. And when I read the Psalms, I see a man who has great faith one minute and great doubt the next. I read about the warrior who isn’t afraid of anything and then hear the same man whine as he hides in a cave. The superhero image took a hit. I found out that he wasn’t perfect. He wasn’t the person I had made him out yo be in my mind. Yet I can’t escape that he was still called a an after God’s own heart.

Many times, we build up people in our mind and place them on superhero status. We think they’re perfect because that’s all we see of them. Sometimes it’s people in the Bible that we see this way. Other times it can be a pastor, evangelist, a church leader or a friend. The truth is that no one is perfect. Each person has shortcomings and fail. We are all a lot like David. We possess the ability to slay giants, but we also struggle with our fears and doubts. We climb mountain tops one day and wallow in the valley the next.

What I’ve learned to see in David, in others and in myself is that God doesn’t expect me to be perfect in order to be a person after His heart. He doesn’t need us to slay giants or conquer enemies to be considered great. What I find over and over again in David’s writings is that after every time he failed, doubted or was scared, he went back to God, apologized and reaffirmed his faith. Psalm 51 is one of the greatest Psalms to me. It’s a prayer for forgiveness and restoration. David shows just how human he was as he wrote it. He also revealed why he was a man after God’s heart.

We can’t get caught up in thinking there are perfect people in the world or that living as close to perfect as possible equals spiritual greatness. We all look at the outward showing of people, but only God sees the heart. David was no where near perfect as I’ve come to read, but he was one of the most spiritual people who ever lived. It’s not in our outward showing that makes us spiritual, it’s in our ability to run to God when we have failed, when we have sinned or have great doubts. Don’t compare your spirituality with someone else’s. You can’t see what God sees. Instead, focus on keeping your heart right with Him no matter what life throws at you.

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Mercy And Restoration

Every time I read about King David in the Bible, I come away with a deeper respect for him. In II Samuel, life was going good for David. He was king and had just brought his son, Absalom, home to set aside their differences. Instead of being grateful, Absalom stole the hearts of Israel, betrayed his father and took the kingdom away from him. David had to flee his beloved Jerusalem to keep from being killed. As he was taking one last look from the summit of the Mount of Olives, he was met by the servant of Mephibosheth.

Mephibosheth was Jonathon’s son and King Saul’s grandson. David had taken him in and let him eat from his table. When David asked the servant where he was, the servant said, “He stayed behind to reclaim his grandfather’s kingdom.” I’m sure that hurt David after all he had done for him. David said, “In that case, you get everything he owns.” As David turned to continue on his exile, another man related to Saul started yelling curses at David and throwing rocks at him. He yelled out, “Get out of here you murderer, you scoundrel! The Lord is paying you back. You stole his (Saul’s) throne.”

One of David’s men grabbed his sword and asked permission to cut off his head. David screamed, “No! Who asked your opinion?” He then told them that his own son is trying to kill him. Why shouldn’t a member of Saul’s family have even more reason to? Instead of killing the man who was taunting him, throwing rocks at him and made him weary, he let him be. He showed mercy. He showed great restraint in dealing with everything that was going wrong.

We each have people in our life who have betrayed us. We have people who use words like daggers and stab us in the back. We have people who get under our skin and wear us out. It’s nothing new. It’s been happening for millennia. David showed us a different way to handle them. He showed us that there is another option. In II Samuel 16:12, David said, “Perhaps The Lord will see that I’m being wronged and will bless me.” He knew that if he lashed out in anger, he removed the chance of blessing. He wanted to leave the door open for God to help him.

How do you respond to the people who won’t leave you alone? Do you fight back? Do you get into endless arguments? Proverbs 15:1 says, “A soft answer turns away wrath, but harsh words stir up anger.” It could be that your response is keeping you in that perpetual cycle. If you want to change the circumstance, change your response to it. Show mercy instead of anger. Have patience instead of lashing out. Open the door for God to bless you instead of slamming it shut. Show love instead of hate. Give back blessings instead of curses and watch what God does. It may take a while, but God will restore you like he did David.

By the way, David did get his kingdom back. It turned out Mephibosheth’s servant was lying. David took half of the belongings back and gave them to Mephibosheth. He then let him continue to live in the palace. The man who cursed him, apologized and was forgiven. All of this was done because David did not sin when he was losing everything. Keep your head up. God sees what you’re going through. He sees the attacks and has not forgotten you. He will restore you.

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Replacing Trust

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How many times does God ask us to do something and then we see if it’s feasible before trying to do it? We try to get all our ducks in a row before “stepping out in faith.” It’s not really faith if we set everything up ahead of time to ensure our success. We trust in the things we see and know versus the unseen. We end up doing it in our own strength instead of His strength. We then wonder where our reward is for such an act of faith. The truth is we have our reward because we did it in on our own instead of trusting in Him.

In the last chapter of II Samuel, God was upset with Israel. David sent his army commanders out to do a census so he would know how many warriors he had. His officer replied, “May your God multiply people by the hundreds right before the eyes of my master the king, but why on earth would you do a thing like this?” He resisted David because he knew what David was doing and it wasn’t right. After years of serving God, walking with Him and talking with Him, David was still tempted to walk by sight.

David reiterated his command and sent the men out. In verse 10, it says, “But when it was all done, David was overwhelmed with guilt because he had counted the people, replacing trust with statistics.” The man, who once was indignant because an entire army was afraid of a giant defying his God, was now in the shoes of the army. He forgot that holy fire that he once had that wasn’t afraid of anything that came against God’s people. As he got older, he trusted God less and relied on what he knew instead. He forgot that God won his battles, not his numbers.

I think of my child who is willing to jump off of anything when I’m around. He trusts that I’ll catch him. As he gets older, he’ll try to push me away while he jumps off of things. He’ll get bumps and bruises and finally he’ll quit taking those leaps. His fear of gravity will overtake his trust in me. We do the same thing to God. We take leaps of faith early on in our walk with Him. We’re amazed when He catches us. Then we start trying to act independently of Him. We try to do acts of faith without Him. We fail and our pride gets bruised. We ask God where He was and why He didn’t catch us when we were doing things for Him. We then quit acting in faith all together. We end up only doing things for God where we are guaranteed success.

God asks us to trust Him completely. He asks us to trust a Him blindly. When we take those leaps, there is a time when we are free falling. Our stomach is in our throat. Our adrenalin is rushing. We are wondering if God will catch us because our destiny is not in our hands. That’s where God wants us to live. That’s where He wants our faith. He doesn’t want us to trust in statistics, numbers, things we can see or our own strength. He wants us to trust in Him alone. If He calls you to do something, don’t trust in what you see or try to make things work. Take the step of faith and have that child like trust that your Father will catch you.

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Content With Discontentment

Yesterday morning I was meeting with my accountability partner. I was sharing some areas of discontentment in my life with him where I thought I would have been further along by now. A year ago, things were moving rapidly in my life towards my goals. Now, they seem to have slowed to a crawl. It’s frustrating to be moving so quickly towards a God-given dream and then have it screech to a halt with no explanation.

As I was talking, the stories of Saul’s and David’s ascension to the throne came to mind. For Saul, he had no idea the leaders of Israel were asking Samuel to tell God they wanted a king instead of a prophet. He was out looking for some lost donkeys. After several days of looking and running out of food, his servant remembered there was a prophet in a nearby town. Maybe he could tell them where the donkeys were.

When they arrived, Samuel immediately knew that Saul was the man chosen by God to be king. He invited him to dinner with the elders and also let him know the donkeys had been found. The next day, Samuel told him he would be king and to go wait for him in another town. There Samuel anointed him king in front of everyone, but not everyone thought he was a good pick. A month later, he led Israel into battle and was victorious. The doubters went away.

David, on the other hand, was watching sheep when Samuel anointed him to be king. He didn’t become king a month later either. In fact, it was around 15 years that he had to wait. During that time, God was preparing him for the throne. He still had to watch sheep and do his daily duties. He still had to serve his brothers when they went off to war. Even though he and his family knew he was destined to be king, he still held his position and did his job faithfully while waiting.

I imagine he had to go through times of discontentment too. He had to wonder if the prophet was right. He had to think, “What am I doing out here watching sheep in this kind of weather?” He didn’t let those things get in the way of what God was doing in him as he was being prepared for the throne. He didn’t think he was above the menial job of watching the sheep which had been assigned to him because he was the youngest. He used that time to grow closer to God and to learn how to care for God’s sheep.

It was at this point that my accountability partner looked me square in the eyes and said, “You know, discipline is doing what you don’t want to do right now because you know what results it will bring in the future.” Those words went straight to my heart and challenged me. David was disciplined enough to watch sheep even though he was supposed to be king. The discipline God created in him during that time helped him to be the greatest king he could have been. Whereas Saul lacked the discipline required to be king and that cost him the throne.

If having discipline were easy, everyone would have it. Instead, few of us are able to endure the menial things in our life right now to have the strength needed in the future. We’d rather be given a great future without having to do the work in the present. We want the throne without the waiting. I’ve resolved to watch sheep as long as God sees fit. I’d rather He build the discipline in me now so I don’t fall later. I’m willing to put in the work now, so I can be effective when God says, “It’s time.”

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