Story So Far Q2 Week 6, Lessons from 1 Samuel

Saul Attacking David, Guercino, 1646

We’ve made our way through all of 1 Samuel and there are clear lessons learned about authority. It begins with Israel not content to have God as their king and preferring to be like everyone else. They want an authority over them they can see and so they plead to have their own human king. Samuel tries to dissuade them, but even as God allows for it, the situation in choosing Saul makes it clear that this is from God. Even in having another authority, the king, we are to understand where the true authority lies. This king Saul makes the greatest errors when he doesn’t accept this truth. He thinks since he is king, he can takeover for God and for God’s servant Samuel. When he acts as though he is in charge, Saul makes great mistakes and loses God’s blessing.

David is then anointed to be the next king. His job is to do the opposite of Saul: to seek the Lord in all things and lead Israel as one whose authority is found in God. He is not one, as we’ll see in 2 Samuel, who does this perfectly. But when he does make errors that are unfortunately similar to Saul’s, David recognizes the voice of God in others, repents, and brings himself back into a position of humility, even as a king.

If a king, with so much power and authority, still must seek God in all he does, how can we not follow suit. Following the example of David doesn’t mean we’ll be perfect, but it does mean that when we stumble, we know where to turn. Saul relies on himself, David relies on God.

David’s Psalm from 1 Samuel

Psalm 57 begins with words that are always fitting in our approach to God, “Be merciful to me, O God…” as David then goes on to write of his need for God’s help and provision. This Psalm is described as one written when “David fled from Saul, in the cave,” which is certainly a time that would call for such a prayer.

We read about these events from 1 Samuel this week. David has been pursued by Saul, angered and jealous of David, and David’s life is in great peril. He hides with his men hoping Saul passes by along with his army so that they may live another day. But as fearful as David may be, he is also God’s anointed, and he knows God has a plan and purpose for him. David will be King. Having confidence in this fact is comfort for David and it gives him perspective. The darkness of the cave is perhaps seen as the shadow of God’s wing, under which he takes refuge. The armies of Saul are the storms of destruction David desires to move on. His hope rests in God who has a plan for him and “who fulfills his purpose for me” (Ps 57:1-2b).

Without such an understanding surely David would have done as he was encouraged to do by his men when Saul enters the cave to relieve himself. Saul was completely vulnerable and it appears as though God may just be delivering David’s enemy into his hands. This is how his men understand the situation. But David resists and as he approaches Saul he settles for a corner of his robe. He knows the plans God has for him and declares to Saul outside the cave that God may avenge David against Saul, but David himself will not raise his hand against the Lord’s anointed.

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From sunrise to sunset we should offer gratitude to God

For God’s continued deliverance and guidance David gives praise to God, as he continues the psalm. Even though he is in the midst of lions and his enemies lay before him traps, he is kept safe by God and his heart is steadfast. Does he take pride in his good fortune? No, David knows from whom such blessings comes, and he calls for God to be exalted above heaven and over all the earth. As he ends David has a great description of how he will sing his thanks and praise. He says, “I will awake the dawn!” I don’t claim to be an especially poetic person, but it seems to me that he is describing the exuberance of his praise. He says he’ll sing out for God, calling the harp and lyre to awake, and nothing will come before this action and posture before God. In his desire to praise God his songs will rise up so early that they wake the sun from its rest, calling forth the day. His life is defined by his gratitude and praise of God, and all the nations will hear of it. When God’s mercy is set so clearly before our eyes, as it was for David, what can take priority over giving God the thanks he so fully deserves?

A Song for Psalm 51

On Sunday I invited everyone who is not reading along with Year in the Bible to read one thing this week, Psalm 51. It’s thought to be a psalm written by David after Nathan the prophet came to him, rebuking him for the sin he committed with Bathsheba (2 Samuel 12).

It is a psalm of repentance and reliance on God, and it is one of my favorites. A band called Indelible Grace plays an amazing version of a song based off this psalm that balances a plaintive, yet hopeful tone. I think this is fitting given the context and the depth of pain and brokenness we see in these words. There is a desperate longing to be reconciled with God. But there is still hope because of the work of God and the assurance we have that he will forgive. Check out the song at this link, and let me know what you think:

Indelible Grace, ‘God, Be Merciful To Me (Psalm 51)’