It must have been a morning filled with apprehension, excitement, and nerves. The prophet Samuel had traveled a long way, to “make a sacrifice” – but his real motivation was something greater. He was looking for the next king of Israel. The next man to lead God’s mighty, beautiful, vast, yet flawed people. A man who must be strong enough to lead men to war – but humble enough to seek out the Lord’s wisdom first, in all things.
Jesse must have been a very proud and excited father. He brought 7 of his sons and let them pass before this intimidating and renowned prophet, a man of God, given intimate knowledge to choose which son was to be chosen.
What a let down when they all passed before him and none were chosen! Can you imagine the nervous sweats and the trickling doubts that must have happened to all the men there?
May we be like David
And yet, God reminded Samuel:
“Do not look on his appearance or on the height of his stature, because I have rejected him. For the Lord sees not as man sees: man looks on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart.” (1 Samuel 16:7)
Samuel, Jesse and the brothers had to go out to find the “lowliest” son – the one left behind because he couldn’t possibly be important enough to even be considered! And yet, he was the very one God had chosen – because, quite frankly, God doesn’t use such silly things as “human wisdom” to make his decisions. He can see past the facades, past the physical prowess, the handsome faces, the great “act” – right into the heart.
He did so with David and his brothers. And he does so still today.
He can see your heart. Even what you hide from your husband, your kids, your coworkers, your best friend. He can see through it all.
And, depending on the state of your heart, that can either be a great comfort or very uncomfortable. May we give our hearts wholly and completely to be seen, molded and shaped after God’s own heart. May we be like David.
My son has just recently made the transition to his big boy bed. You know, the one without any constraints, the one where he must use self-control, where there are no crib railings to enforce his staying in one spot.
And it is hard–so very, very hard–to have self-control. He has fallen asleep on the floor, behind his door, under the bed. He has over-enthusiastically piled so many books on his bed that there was no longer any room for him. (After all, I had said he could take a book to look at quietly. Surely, thirty books are better than one?) He has wandered out into the kitchen in the middle of the night (looking for a midnight snack?). And he has quietly come out to his living room bucket of toys to begin playing in the morning.
But I remember the first time he successfully fell asleep in his bed and actually slept. All it took was being still for a few moments. A little modicum of self-control and then something bigger and more powerful (his sleepiness) took over, and he was fast asleep.
Of course, you and I both know that one success does not a habit build. But it is a start! And over the course of days and weeks, he has begun to make that habit and I no longer search for his little sleeping form draped uncomfortably over toys in his room.
In this one area at least, he has learned self-control.
I think of a passage in Psalm 46:10:
“Be still, and know that I am God;
I will be exalted among the nations,
I will be exalted in the earth.”
Our own need for God is a little like my little boy. We need just that start of self-control. Just an ounce. Enough to come before the great God of the universe. To be still before Him and to let something–Someone–bigger and more powerful than I take over.
And it’s at that point we can see ourselves as we truly are. We can see the beautiful, magnificent, and glorious God for who He truly is.
All we have to do is be still.
When you’re in a dark place and it’s hard to find your way out, what do you do? You feel lost and alone, unnoticed and under the radar. You are shuffled and jostled about, people walking past you, even talking to you, but not really seeing you. Not really knowing you.
Are you there? Are you in that dark place?
Your best friend may not see your inner heart. Your preacher may not. Even your mom or your husband or your kids may not. You might be drowning and no one sends out the lifeboat.
But there is Someone who does.
He sees the struggles and the tears. He sees the heartache and the loneliness. You can’t fool him–he knows exactly how wonderful you are and how awful you can be too.
But those voices whisper in your heart.
Why would He care about me?
He can’t really love me that much. After all, he knows exactly what I have done!
Why bother? I know I can’t do it.
Friend, let me whisper to your heart as well.
Psalm 9:10 says,
And those who know your name put their trust in you,
for you, O Lord, have not forsaken those who seek you.
Consider Romans 8:32, which says,
He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things?
When you’re feeling low and in that dark place, read these verses from 1 John 3:
By this we shall know that we are of the truth and reassure our heart before him; for whenever our heart condemns us, God is greater than our heart, and he knows everything.
It’s true. We don’t deserve God’s love and forgiveness. That’s the true meaning of grace: we get what we don’t deserve. He give us forgiveness and not punishment. We get a second chance and not death. We get salvation and not condemnation.
But God is amazing like that. He is greater than us, loves us more than we could possibly imagine, and gave up his son–before I even committed to serving Him.
That thought should humble me, motivate me, and comfort me, all at the same time. It is the lifeline you can cling to when you’re in that dark place. And it can be what helps pull you back into the light.
The Ungratefulness of the Israelites
One of the Israelites’ biggest struggles throughout their history with God was ingratitude (and apparently a selective memory).
Time and again they complained.
And the people spoke against God and against Moses, “Why have you brought us up out of Egypt to die in the wilderness? For there is no food and no water, and we loathe this worthless food.”
Their words drip with thanklessness and bitterness. We think to ourselves, “How could they possibly have forgotten what God has done for them? What God is STILL doing for them?”
And yet, don’t we struggle with the very same thing?
Don’t I complain of the mundane when my eyes should be lifted heavenwards? Haven’t I grumbled about my thorn in the flesh, when God has healed the entirety of my sin? Don’t I too grow complacent?
I think of the rest of that passage in Numbers. God sent fiery serpents which bit the people, poisoned them, and ultimately led to many deaths. The irony and the imagery is uncomfortably close to home. Just as they had spread such poison from their mouths, they were subjected to poison. They cried out to God and God provided a solution:
So Moses made a bronze serpent and set it on a pole. And if a serpent bit anyone, he would look at the bronze serpent and live. (Numbers 21:9)
Lift Up Your Eyes
The solution to the problem was tough. Because the Israelites had to be reminded to lift their eyes to the symbol of suffering. The symbol of their sin. The symbol of why they needed God.
And yet, we must do the very same thing.
In order to drag ourselves out of the muck of the world, in order to continually live gratefully, joyously, truly for Christ, we need the reminder–that serious, weighty reminder–of the cross. If we don’t remember how very costly and serious our sin is, we won’t be grateful. We won’t be humbly submissive to him.
So today, remember with me the cross. Remember how much we have to be grateful for. And think of how much we can look forward to seeing the One who hung on that cross for us.
Does He still feel the nails
Every time I fail?
Does He hear the crowd cry
Am I causing Him pain?
Then I know I’ve got to change
I just can’t bear the thought
Of hurting Him.
When worry strikes, it seems little at first.
But slowly, it creeps in and begins to wrap its tentacles. You begin to feel a hard knot in your stomach. The anxious tension in your shoulders. The nausea and restlessness. You toss and turn at night. You can’t seem to find the rest and refreshment that comes from sleep because sleep is nowhere to be found.
Worry isn’t peaceful. Worry breeds discontentment, doubt, and disorder.
And yet, doesn’t God offer peace?
Peace despite worry, despite trials, despite ourselves.
I look at Peter in Acts 12 and marvel at his apparent peace. There he is, imprisoned between two hardened Roman soldiers. He is bound with chains, with more sentries guarding his door, and yet, he falls asleep!
Instead of sleeping in peace, he could have stayed awake and worried, or do the things I might do when I worry. Peter doesn’t argue with God. He doesn’t ask God to rescue him or to ease his trials. Nor does he lose faith or lash out in anger or irritation. And he certainly doesn’t start cleaning things that didn’t need cleaning!
In fact, Peter seems so at peace that he is able to fall deeply asleep. He is so deeply asleep that an angel with heavenly light coming to his cell doesn’t awaken him! In fact, the angel has to both call him and basically whack him in order to wake him up!
Now that’s assurance. That’s real trust.
And Peter’s immediate reaction afterward helps teach me about how he got that peace in the first place. He obeyed God’s messenger immediately, he gathered with God’s people to share the things God had worked in his life, and he went to the work God had called him to do.
Peter had no illusions about what might happen. Death, torture, and imprisonment were much more an understood probability in the life of the Christian then. And he had the humility to think at first that what he saw that night was only a vision from God.
After all, why would God rescue Peter?
Why would he rescue any of us, for that matter? And yet he does!
That victory, that peace is only found in Christ. No, we don’t deserve or even sometimes expect it. And yet, it is there for the taking, if only we follow Him.
May you step out in faith and trust to experience that peace today too.
Be encouraged by these posts as well!