2 Samuel 6 – Living Full Throttle for God

If you followed me through a typical week, you would find times when I get things right and times when I mess things up. Times when my desire is to lift up God and times when I’m more concerned about myself. Times when I’m acting gracious and times when I’m being sarcastic. I can appear very disjointed and dichotomous at times.

2 Samuel chapter 6 has that same feel. It presents as a case study in contrast…or more appropriately human nature. For example…

  • David shows great desire to have the ark (God’s presence) among them, yet shows great disrespect for following God’s directions for transporting the ark. (Numbers 4:5,6,15) (1 Chronicles 15:13-15)
  • David is angry at God for the death of Uzzah and doesn’t want the ark near Jerusalem. (Uzzah had reached out to steady the ark when it looked like it was going to fall…which was against God’s command that no one was to touch the ark.) But, when David finds out that God is blessing the people in whose home the ark is kept, he then wants to bring the ark to his location.
  • Publicly, David’s life is one of joy, worship, and admiration. But privately (with his wife Michal) his life is one of strife and contention.

If you step back and look at David’s life, it can seem very two-faced. Yet God continued to reach out to him, walk with him, and redirect him with mercy, grace, and patience.

Why?

Maybe the thing that made David’s life so full of contrast was also the thing that made him a man after God’s own heart. Perhaps it was David’s willingness to go after God full throttle that so endeared him to God. And though this often meant his mistakes were also full throttle, at least he was willing to turn around and get back on track when he missed it.

Are you living a life that’s full-throttled for God?

2 Samuel 5 – Are There Keys to Living a “Charmed Life?”

Have you ever known someone who seemed to live a charmed life? They’re in the right place at the right time. They get all the right breaks. Everything they touch turns to gold.

Those outside of Israel probably felt David lived a charmed life because everything he touched seemed to work out so well.

How did he do it? 2 Samuel chapter 5 shows us three keys to David’s success. David…

  • Asked for directions.
  • Followed instructions.
  • Gave credit where credit was due.

ASKING FOR DIRECTIONS

David was seasoned by years of experience. He had paid his dues and he knew how to get things done. Still, he continued to ask God for direction and permission, rather than launching out on his own initiative. (2 Sam. 5:19,23.)

FOLLOWING INSTRUCTIONS

David not only asked God for direction. He also followed God’s instructions. (2 Sam. 5:20,25)

Unlike David, some people never get where they want to go, because they don’t ask for directions. Others fail to get where they want to go because they don’t follow the directions they were given. But this was not David.

GIVING CREDIT WHERE CREDIT IS DUE

David could have easily taken credit for all his accomplishments. But he refused to believe his own press. Instead, he gave credit to God…where it was due. (2 Sam. 5:12,20) David knew his success was not because of him or for him. He realized God was blessing him for the sake of God’s people. (2 Sam. 5:12)

A WORD OF WARNING…

Don’t assume that asking God for directions, following God’s instructions, and giving God credit will assure you of a “charmed life.” Remember, David spent years running from a homicidal king, and Jesus was wrongfully accused, tried, and crucified.

These three keys are not a magic formula for a “charmed life.” But they will make your life stronger, wiser, and more fruitful.

So, today…try asking God for direction, following His instruction, and giving Him the credit He’s due. You will be surprised at the difference it makes.

2 Samuel 1 – Are We Talking About the Same Person?

I’ve been to funerals where they were eulogizing the “dearly departed” and thought to myself, “Are we talking about the same person?!” Now I know it would be in poor taste to bad mouth the deceased…even if they were a mean and difficult person in life. But sometimes the things that are said about a person at their funeral barely resemble who the person was in real life. When this happens, you can’t help but wonder, “Are we talking about the same person?”

I feel like this when I read 2 Samuel chapter one. Saul was a man who was egotistical, prideful, paranoid, and homicidal. Yet to hear David’s funeral song, Saul sounds like a cross between Billy Graham and Dudley Do-Right. Saul was a man who repaid David’s bravery and loyalty by incessantly hunting him down to kill him. Still, David sings his praises and morns him as he would his own father. Why?!

Perhaps it was because David saw the bigger picture…the broader plot. David was able to see beyond the injustices that were done to him. He was able to take the wrongs of Saul’s life and see them through a spiritual lens. David related to Saul as God would relate to Saul…with grace, compassion, and mercy.

We need to remember that we only have a small and narrow picture of the person before us. Consequently, we should respond to everyone with the same grace, compassion, and mercy that we ourselves receive from God. Otherwise, these people may attend OUR funeral and think, “Are we talking about the same person?!”

1 Samuel 29-30 – How Well Do You Get Along With Others?

You can’t please everyone. No matter how hard you try, someone is not going to like something you’ve said or done.

But David was a man who seemed to be able to get along with a wide variety of people. In 1 Samuel chapters 29 and 30, we see David masterfully developing trust and good relations with a wide variety of often opposing groups.

In chapter 29, David earns the trust and respect of the Philistine king. (1 Samuel 29:6,9)

In chapter 30

  • David rallies the very men who, earlier, were so upset with him they were ready to kill him.
  • David is able to enlist an Amalekite slave who had previously destroyed David’s village.
  • David becomes a mediator for his men when they are in the midst of a disagreement.
  • David endears himself to the leaders of his home country…even though that country had run him out of town and tried to kill him.

How does he do it? How does Dave foster trust and loyalty among others…many of whom are enemies to him and each other?

First, David built relationships by showing kindness and respect to others. But more important than his relationship with others was his relationship with God…

  • When David didn’t know what to do, he turned to God for insight and answers. (1 Samuel 23:2,4,6,9,11,12.)
  • When David encountered unfair treatment, he trusted God to right the wrongs and ensure justice. (1 Samuel 24:12,15)
  • When David was discouraged and demoralized, he found his strength and hope in God. (1 Samuel 30:6)

David was submissive and obedient to God, and God made him wise and discerning…which, in turn, strengthened his relationships and interactions with others.

Do you have trouble getting along with people? If so, check your submission and obedience to God. This is always the starting place for great relationships…and great endeavors.

1 Samuel 28 – Are You Driven by Fear?

We all have things we fear, but some people are especially driven by fear. Their life is a desperate attempt to avoid things like…

  • The loss of a loved one.
  • The loss of a marriage.
  • The loss of their health.
  • The loss of financial stability.
  • The loss of position.

This is the picture of king Saul in 1 Samuel chapter 28. You can see his fearfulness build in the previous chapters…

Now, in 1 Samuel 28, Saul is so fearful of the Philistine army he scrambles to find someone to give him advice. God is no longer communicating with Saul, because of Saul’s disobedience. (1 Samuel 28:18.) So Saul breaks his own law and seeks a consultation with a medium or witch. Saul is frantically scrambling for anything to take away his fear.

It’s a strong contrast to the calm and confident David we see in the previous two chapters.

What’s the difference? Though it sounds cliché, David was trusting God and Saul was trusting Saul. David’s only focus was on what God wanted done, while Saul’s only focus was on what Saul wanted done.

Fearfulness comes from trusting yourself rather than trusting God. It comes from trying to orchestrate your own desired outcomes, rather than trusting God to orchestrate His desired outcomes.

We are not to be fearful, but rather powerful, loving, and self-controlled. (2 Timothy 1:7) So turn from fear and trust God. He alone holds the total control of our lives. (Matt. 10:28)

1 Samuel 26-27 – Balancing Kindness and Courage

Many people view followers of God as weak, passive, and vulnerable. They have trouble associating a Christian with the aggressive and calculating demeanor of a war-time general or a corporate CEO.

But in 1 Samuel chapters 26 and 27 we see David as someone who was able to balance kindness with courage.

In 1 Samuel chapter 26, David is bold and courageous when he enters into Saul’s camp and puts himself in the position of holding Saul’s life in his hands. But He is also merciful and kind when he chooses to spare Saul’s life.

In 1 Samuel chapter 27, David is so sensitive and caring he actually lives with the enemy in order to keep his men and their families safe. But David is also shrewd and calculating. He systematically does away with his enemy, while his enemy thinks David is on their side. David creates a plan to destroy his enemy, while not only gaining their confidence but also their protection. And while he is doing this, he’s earning more and more loyalty from his fellow Israelites.

To follow God does not mean you have to be weak. Like David, we are to be both kind and courageous. Like a train, we need both the rails of kindness and courage to keep us on track. Kindness without courage is impotent, while courage without kindness is dictatorial. As Jesus put it, we need to be as wise as serpents and as harmless as doves. (Matt. 10:16)

How are you doing balancing kindness and courage? If you find yourself out of balance, ask God to strengthen your area of weakness, and to bring you into balance.

1 Samuel 25 – When You Want to Get Back at Someone

Have you ever wanted to get back at someone, because they were treating you with contempt…even though you were treating them with kindness?

  • Maybe it was a boss who continued to pass you over, despite your hard work.
  • Perhaps it was a friend who stabbed you in the back, even though you had been loyal to them.
  • Or maybe it was a spouse who continued to ignore you, despite your on-going efforts to serve them and build them up.

In 1 Samuel chapter 25, David wants vengeance. After showing Nabel kindness, (1 Sam. 25:5-11) Nabal completely disregarded David and treated him with contempt. David was instantly angry and wanted to get back at Nabal. (1 Sam. 25:13)

And once your heart is set on vengeance, it’s hard to derail it.

But David’s desire for vengeance was interrupted by Nabal’s wife…Abigail. (1 Sam. 25:3,33) First, she takes responsibility for Nabal’s sin, then she reminds David of his commitment to live rightly before the Lord and allow God to decide whether someone gets their “just rewards.” She averts David’s anger, allowing God to settle things in His own way.

How often I’ve been like David and wanted to “strap on my sword” when someone mistreated me. The feelings are quick and automatic.

But God has sent us an Abigail, in the person of Jesus. Jesus comes to us, having taken the sins of our Nabal on Himself. He reminds us we are to live Christ-like in the face of accusers and abusers. If we, like David, will allow the Holy Spirit to interrupt our vengeful attitude, then we will respond in a more Christ-like manner and trust God to administer the right justice. (Deuteronomy. 32:35) (Heb. 12:24) (1 Sam. 24:15)

So when you want to get back at someone, listen to Abigail. Listen to Jesus.

1 Samuel 23-24 – How to Go High When They Go Low

As children, we’re taught to play fair and do what’s right…even if no one else is…then things will turn out alright for us.

But what do you do when doing the right thing seems to make matters worse?

In 1 Samuel chapters 23 and 24, David is taking the high road and doing what’s right and honorable, yet matters keep getting worse.

  • David rescues a town of people, and they sell him out to King Saul. (1 Sam. 23:12)
  • David defeats Saul’s enemies (1 Sam. 23:5) yet Saul moves in to kill him. (1 Sam. 23:7-8)
  • David retreats from Saul, refusing to challenge or threaten him, yet Saul pursues David night and day. (1 Sam. 23:14)
  • David has the opportunity to kill Saul, yet chooses to show him honor instead. And still, Saul continues his homicidal pursuit of David.

How did David continue to take the high road rather than give Saul a taste of his own medicine?

  • David made God, not Saul, the object of his focus and asked God to show him what to do. (1 Sam. 23:2-6, 9-12)
  • David focused on God’s long-term plan, rather than his short-term relief. (1 Sam. 23:16-17)
  • David trusted God to rightly settle accounts, even if Saul didn’t. (1 Sam. 24:12,15)
  • Finally, David protected himself, while giving God time to work.

David had learned from his youth that his battles were not his to fight. He learned he should stay close and right with God and trust God to fight the battle. (1 Sam. 17:47)

What battle are you trying to fight in your own strength? What wrong are you trying to right in your own way? Perhaps David (and God) is trying to tell you something.

1 Samuel 21-22 – The Traits of a Good Leader

Leadership is a hot topic these days. If you type the word “leadership” into Amazon’s search bar, you will get over 60,000 results.

Most of the books on leadership enumerated principles, strategies, practices, and mindsets you can apply in order to become a more effective leader…even if you don’t consider yourself a “natural born leader.”

In 1 Samuel chapters 21 and 22, you will find contrasting portraits of two “leaders”…Saul and David. One of these “leaders” had the title, the resources, and the authority of a leader, while the other had none of these.

And yet the one without the title, resources, and authority proved to be the better leader.

Whether David was a “natural born leader,” we cannot say. But we can see obvious differences between David and Saul that warrant the attention of anyone who seeks to be a better leader.

  • Saul demanded what he needed, while David was resourceful.
  • Saul summoned followers, while David attracted them.
  • Saul threatened those close to him, while David protected those close to him.
  • Saul acted on impulse, while David sought wise and godly counsel before acting.
  • Saul was quick to pass blame, while David was quick to take responsibility.

Perhaps David’s traits were part of his natural make-up. Perhaps he learned them growing up. Or perhaps they were the natural outgrowth of seeking after God’s heart. (1 Samuel 13:14) But it’s clear that David had traits that God honored and to which people responded.

Do you want to be a better leader? Study David’s life and aspire to the traits he demonstrated, and you will find yourself becoming a stronger leader in the eye of God and others.

1 Samuel 20 – Deep and Meaningful Friendships

Do you have close friendships? The fast paced and high pressured world in which we live often prevents us from having the time we need to develop deep and meaningful friendships.

David and Jonathan were close friends. You can see this in 1 Samuel chapter 20. In fact, in our day of gender diffusion, reading about two men who were so emotionally close and demonstrative can lead a reader to believe they had more than just a friendship. But there is no indication in Scripture that this was the case…especially since both men were dedicated to the law of God which forebode anything else.

Like David and Jonathan, we all deeply yearn for friendships that are consistently loving and unswervingly loyal. We look for close friendships with people who will commit to us…not because they have to, but because they want to.

God longs to have this kind of relationship with us. It’s why He came to us in the form of Jesus…so we could see this kind of relationship in tangible form.

But if this is what we want, why do we so often fail to experience it?

Jesus said…

“Give and it will be given to you. Good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over, will be put into your lap. For with the measure you use it will be measured back to you.” (Luke 6:38 ESV)

If you’re not receiving deep and meaningful relationships with God and with others, could it be that you’re not giving that kind of relationship? If so, what are you afraid of? Take some time and ponder these questions. It could renovate your relationships.