Stronghold of Sin 


Stronghold of Sin

“Then Saul returned home, but David and his men went up to the stronghold. ”           I Sam 24:23


     Saul wanted to make sure that David would be gracious to his children when he became king, so he made him give an oath before they departed. After that was done, Saul returned home to his palace, and David went back to his makeshift stronghold.

     At this time, Saul was still in a position of power and control; yet he had to take a lowly stance by asking David for a favor. Saul knew that the blessing of the Lord’s had departed from him and he was on the way down and David was on his way up. It mattered very little what Saul did to alter the situation; all things had been determined and no human effort could have changed the divine mandate.

     It appeared, however, that David was still struggling to survive at the time and Saul could still do him harm, had he decided to do so.

     What could Saul have done to reverse the fortune that was per-ordained? Very little indeed. It was extremely hard to halt the downward spiral that started when he disobeyed the Lord for the very first time. Once the downward momentum started, it seemed to keep sliding down a bottomless pit.

     The weight of sin will keep dragging us down.

     Don’t we all know that too well? At first it was just a molehill of sin we hardly paid any attention, but before we became aware of it, it turned into an unmovable mountain of addiction. Aren’t we addicted to one besetting sin or another?

     Saul didn’t consider it such a grievous offense when he assumed the role of a priest and offered the sacrifice to the Lord, not realizing what he did was a great affront to God. “Why did it matter to God that I saved some of the spoils to be used as sacrifices?” questioned Saul. Those were all small things, weren’t they?

     A little slip here and there can start the downward spiral and cause us to spin out of control. A little dab of sin can easily turn into an addiction. Most alcoholics probably start out being casual drinkers and smokers usually begin with just one cigarette in a casual setting. We would be much more cautious if we realized what occasional flirting can do to our relationships and what irrevocable harm a one-night stand can inflict on our marriages.

    Don’t underestimate the power of sin, for Satan gains a foothold in our lives every time we sin and, before we know it, he has built a stronghold in our heart and will not withdraw without a bloody fight.

     It was truly tragic that Saul ended up such a failure. How did it happen? We wonder.

     I believe things would have been a lot different if Saul hadn’t had such a cavalier attitude toward God’s commands. It’s a dangerous thing not to take God’s instructions seriously.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011 7:18:00 AM Categories: Devotional

The Judge 


The Judge

“May the Lord be our judge and decide between us.”

              I Sam 24:15


     David felt he was entirely justified concerning the matter at hand. There was no doubt in his mind that he was victimized; therefore he wasn’t at all reluctant to invoke God’s judgment, believing he would be vindicated.

     Had David ever pondered the possibility that he might have done something to cause all the turmoil in his life? Perhaps.“This could have been avoided had I handled myself differently before the king,” he might have thought.

     What could David have done differently? Saul was borderline insane and was becoming increasingly irrational. Things would have turned out the same, no matter what David did. He was trapped in the web of Saul’s burning ambition and irrational fear.

     David wasn’t completely innocent; he was only relatively innocent.

     The man after God’s own heart was perfectly content to be a shepherd, yet the Lord singled him out and sent Samuel to anoint him to be the future king of Israel. From then on, David’s heart was torn. Although he didn’t take any action to turn his future aspirations into reality, it would have been quite difficult to keep his longing to himself and do nothing to further his cause.

     Saul was just doing what every monarch would have done under such circumstances. David’s amazing talent and ability had become a liability and his mere presence in the court was a threat to Saul, whose desire was for the throne to remain within his household.

     Was it even possible for David to keep his talent hidden so that he wouldn’t have caused Saul any suspicion or fear?

     For thirty years the Lord Jesus kept his divine attributes hidden so that he could lead a normal and undisturbed life before the time came for him to reveal his true identity. It seems to me his thirty years of anonymity revealed to us more of his divinity than his three years of activity. The Lord Jesus didn’t succumb to his human instinct of self-expression, which tell us that he possessed a divine power that none of us have. We are addicted to self-expression and complete self-effacing is something that only the divine is capable of doing.

     Would the relationship between David and Saul have been different had David been a little bit more self-effacing before the king? This is just my speculation, but I think it could have been. From this standpoint, David was by no means entirely innocent and he would have been found guilty if the Judge decided to leave no stone unturned concerning the conflict. Just like all clashes between two parties, one is more at fault than the other, but both parties are at fault to a certain degree.

     We cannot be overconfident when we evoke the Lord to be our judge, for our vindication may not be for sure. 

Tuesday, March 29, 2011 7:36:00 AM Categories: Devotional

Giving up 


Giving up 

“I know that you will surely be king and that the kingdom of Israel will be established in your hands.”      I Sam 24:20

     This particular awareness was the reason that made Saul pursue David so relentlessly. He was the king of Israel and someone was about to take his position.

     Why was David even a threat to him at all?

     I don’t think Saul knew at this time that Samuel had anointed David as the next king of Israel, but he suspected that he had lost favor with the judge and his position as a king was becoming more and more precarious. Saul might have lost the support of God, but he was still trying with all his might to keep the support of men.

     There was very little fear of God in Saul at this moment and his whole being was consumed with the thought of keeping his throne for himself and his son. Even though he was aware of God’s plan for David, he still had no intention to submit to it.

     Saul was kicking against the goads. He wasn’t battling against David; he was fighting against God. I hope that we would never take such a dangerous stand.

     Oftentimes battles are won by surrendering.

     Saul could have won the battle against David by easing into retirement, knowing that the time for him to depart from center stage had already come. Had he done that, he would have won the battle against his worst enemy - himself.

     We will have to submit to God one way or another and, ultimately, we will have to submit our lives to him as well. “I have a journey, sir, shortly to go; my Master calls me, and I must not say no,” said Earl of Kent in King Lear. Death is our final submission to God and it takes daily submission in small matters our entire life to get to that point. The more we practice in little things, the easier it will get when the bell tolls to us.

     Is the little corner of the world we have carved out for ourselves our kingdom and our domain, which we will not easily let go? We survey all we have everyday and enjoy physical and emotional pleasure to the fullest. We look at our houses and cars with admiration and the accolades we have earned with satisfaction and secretly exclaim: “ I am great!”

     We may fare a lot worse than the first king of Israel. We do have a lot to lose and surely will fight to the very end to keep someone from taking our kingdom away. King Lear might have divided his kingdom and handed it to his daughters, but he never perceived himself as less than a king with all the entitlement and privileges.

     Wang, the wealthiest man on the island of Taiwan, was surveying his business empire in the States when he had a heart attack and died. He was holding onto his plastic kingdom tightly even in his nineties, yet he had to give it up at the end, kicking and screaming.

     We will never be truly happy unless we master the important lesson of giving up. How miserable it was for Saul to try to hold onto his kingdom when it was time to give it up to the next man. 

Monday, March 28, 2011 6:46:00 AM Categories: Devotional

Taking Control  

Taking Control
“And may the Lord avenge the wrongs you have done to me, but my hand will not touch you.” I Sam 24:12

David could have taken control of the situation himself, but he did not. Surely it wasn’t from lack of courage that he refrained from doing what most people considered natural and necessary. David was a seasoned warrior by this time and he could have taken on Saul himself without any difficulty, but he had enough self-control to not take control of his own destiny by exacting revenge on his enemy.

The loss of control over our own destiny is our greatest fear.

I could only sit next to my mother’s bed and couldn’t think of any meaningful thing to do. I was there in the dim room of my brother’s house, feeling utterly helpless and desperately sad. I tried praying, but words escaped me, for I didn’t have sufficient faith to ask for my mom’s healing and didn’t think it would help if I brought up the gospel message. I was just there, losing all control over all things and fighting hard to gain a sense of equilibrium over my shaky situation.

I was falling down from my balance beam and wasn’t at all sure I could stick the landing.

Doing nothing isn’t a good way to gain control over our lives when we are going through crisis, but the random things that we do may not bring forth desirable results either. Yet when things happen, we just go through the motions and do what is necessary, hoping for the best and preparing for the worst.

Would things have been any different had David taken charge of his destiny and taken out Saul with one strike? Not necessarily. David’s situation might have improved somewhat, but he would have had great difficulty dealing with his guilty conscience for the rest of life. It was hardly worth it.

We may lose control over all things if we try to take control over our own destiny. What governed David’s every action during this time was his fear of the Lord and his submission to the Almighty.

“Be still and know that I am God.”

Surely we are doing things to improve our difficult situation, but doing the necessary isn’t equal with control over things. We are merely passively active, doing something to collaborate with what the Lord is doing for us during the time of trial.

Things did not change for the better after he let Saul go, but at least David’s conscience was clear and the joy of the Lord remained with him. Although he didn’t have control over his destiny after the incident was over and his situation continued to be precarious, David’s load seemed to have been greatly lightened, for the burden of control over his life was shifted from him to God.

Friday, March 25, 2011 12:29:00 PM Categories: Devotional
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