Seeking God In Times Of Distress

Now when David and his men came to Ziklag on the third day, the Amalekites had made a raid against the Negeb and against Ziklag. They had overcome Ziklag and burned it with fire and taken captive the women and all who were in it, both small and great. They killed no one, but carried them off and went their way. And when David and his men came to the city, they found it burned with fire, and their wives and sons and daughters taken captive. Then David and the people who were with him raised their voices and wept until they had no more strength to weep. David’s two wives also had been taken captive, Ahinoam of Jezreel and Abigail the widow of Nabal of Carmel. And David was greatly distressed, for the people spoke of stoning him, because all the people were bitter in soul, each for his sons and daughters. But David strengthened himself in the Lord his God. And David said to Abiathar the priest, the son of Ahimelech, “Bring me the ephod.” So Abiathar brought the ephod to David. And David inquired of the Lord , “Shall I pursue after this band? Shall I overtake them?” He answered him, “Pursue, for you shall surely overtake and shall surely rescue.” So David set out, and the six hundred men who were with him, and they came to the brook Besor, where those who were left behind stayed. But David pursued, he and four hundred men. Two hundred stayed behind, who were too exhausted to cross the brook Besor.
1 Samuel 30:1‭-‬10 ESV

There are two things that can be learned on this passage, especially when we are confronted by problems in our lives. First and foremost, in times of distress, we draw our strength from the Lord, as what David did when his people threathened to stone him. As their leader, David could have insisted his authority over them to stop them from casting their frustrations to him. When we are being wronged, our first instinct is to defend ourselves and manipulate the people around us. But David showed us that we must look on God to strengthen us in facing our adversaries.

Second, we pray to God for direction. David also had his wives captured by the Amalekites but instead of rescuing them as fast as he could, he asked Abiathar to bring the ephod so he could inquire to God. Again, when we are faced with problems, we usually jump right into solving them on our own ability without consulting the Lord. We often forget about God because we see our troubles bigger than Him. However, we know that He is able to point us to the right directions for nothing is hidden from Him. We may not physically hear His voice but we can always read what He has to say thru the Bible.

Now that we are follower of Christ, we can always find strength from the Lord, pray for His leadings and understand the Bible for His will through the work of the Holy Spirit in our lives. Jesus did not promise that we will have a storm-free life but we will have a storm-proofed life. We will endure all our trials because of His finished work on the cross.

Soli Deo Gloria!

-Rhia

Studying The Text: 1 Samuel 16:14-16

I must say that Bible reading is not an easy task where you use just your feelings to absorb the meaning of the texts. Reading the Bible is studying the Bible, it requires some technical aspects of it. Therefore, I am compelled to also journal the texts which I find needed further research to help me fully understand the passages and stay true to the correct way of interpreting the texts.

Instead of giving commentaries, I will just list down the site(s) I read as my references. Since I consider this blog as journal, I might want to read these entries again in the future and probably will want to recall where I read about the explanations to my queries.

My question about this text is if God is good, why is that He is sending harmful spirits?

References:

-Rhia

The Lord’s Rejection

And Samuel said, “Has the Lord as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, as in obeying the voice of the Lord? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to listen than the fat of rams. For rebellion is as the sin of divination, and presumption is as iniquity and idolatry. Because you have rejected the word of the Lord, he has also rejected you from being king.” Saul said to Samuel, “I have sinned, for I have transgressed the commandment of the Lord and your words, because I feared the people and obeyed their voice. Now therefore, please pardon my sin and return with me that I may bow before the Lord.” And Samuel said to Saul, “I will not return with you. For you have rejected the word of the Lord , and the Lord has rejected you from being king over Israel.” As Samuel turned to go away, Saul seized the skirt of his robe, and it tore. And Samuel said to him, “The Lord has torn the kingdom of Israel from you this day and has given it to a neighbor of yours, who is better than you.
1 Samuel 15:22‭-‬28 ESV

This passage describes how the Lord dealt with Saul’s habit of disobedience to God’s commands. Chapter 15 starts with God commanding Saul, thru Samuel, to annihilate the Amalekites.

And Samuel said to Saul, “The Lord sent me to anoint you king over his people Israel; now therefore listen to the words of the Lord . Thus says the Lord of hosts, ‘I have noted what Amalek did to Israel in opposing them on the way when they came up out of Egypt. Now go and strike Amalek and devote to destruction all that they have. Do not spare them, but kill both man and woman, child and infant, ox and sheep, camel and donkey.'”
1 Samuel 15:1‭-‬3 ESV

One might first question why would God issue a command like this but I won’t be tackling it here. Instead, a helpful article that provides a background can be found here: Who were the Amalekites?

Going back to Saul, it was clear from the previous passage that God explicitly said what He wanted them to do. Saul and his people did not follow the Lord’s command. They decided themselves to keep all that was useful to them and put the useless to destruction.

But Saul and the people spared Agag and the best of the sheep and of the oxen and of the fattened calves and the lambs, and all that was good, and would not utterly destroy them. All that was despised and worthless they devoted to destruction.
1 Samuel 15:9 ESV

As we draw from the story, selective obedience is not obedience at all. In our time, we hear from the Lord and His commands through reading the Bible. We cannot just pick what we want to follow or what to believe in His Word. If we do, we are being like Saul. As believers, I know that at first there may be struggles obeying God but we have to be conscious and hopeful that Jesus is working on our hearts. He is settling our issues from grace to grace and next time we know, we have come to despise those areas in our lives that are not glorifying to God. This process is called sanctification.

Obedience is better than sacrifice. It is a great motto to remember when we are at the face of sinning. God is not pleased when we sin and think that we will just repent later. If we are just comfortable doing just like that then we have to assess if we are truly of God’s people. God rejects those that are not His.

Finally, Saul cared more about his reputation than going after God’s heart. His repentance was not genuine because he did it for the wrong reasons. He wanted the prestige of being a king among Israel but failed to obey the source of his authority. While Jesus, the Son of God, the perfect example of obedience to the Father when He demonstrated it by dying on the cross for our sins, was exalted high when He humbled Himself. He is still up to now reigning into the heavens and into the earth, fulfilling God’s plan.

Sole Deo Gloria!

-Rhia

Pleasing The Lord With Our Own Effort

He waited seven days, the time appointed by Samuel. But Samuel did not come to Gilgal, and the people were scattering from him. So Saul said, “Bring the burnt offering here to me, and the peace offerings.” And he offered the burnt offering. As soon as he had finished offering the burnt offering, behold, Samuel came. And Saul went out to meet him and greet him. Samuel said, “What have you done?” And Saul said, “When I saw that the people were scattering from me, and that you did not come within the days appointed, and that the Philistines had mustered at Michmash, I said, ‘Now the Philistines will come down against me at Gilgal, and I have not sought the favor of the Lord .’ So I forced myself, and offered the burnt offering.” And Samuel said to Saul, “You have done foolishly. You have not kept the command of the Lord your God, with which he commanded you. For then the Lord would have established your kingdom over Israel forever.
1 Samuel 13:8‭-‬13 ESV

There is no such a thing!

This is one of the many passages in the Bible that that tells us that we cannot please God on our own works. Saul decided to offer a burnt offering to God, what was bad with that? On the surface, it is seemingly a noble and rightful act – one might see it as Saul having high regards on God. However, if we have read the books written by Moses particularly Leviticus, we know that God instituted how to do the offering right down to the very details, including who should do the ceremonies, that is – the priest. So we see, Saul was not a priest nor a Levite, he was a Benjamite and yet He disobeyed the Law pertaining the offerings.

Moreover, the wrongful offering may be the tip of the iceberg. Saul did not fully have faith in the God Who made him king over Israel. God could deliver them from the possible attack of the Philistines even if Samuel arrived late but Saul believed otherwise so he acted upon himself. Too bad for him because God does not operate that way, we cannot please him by our own idea of pleasing Him, let alone disobeying His commands.

Sadly, this reminds me of a blog post I saw recently. The author supported the procession of images with Joshua 6:8.

And just as Joshua had commanded the people, the seven priests bearing the seven trumpets of rams’ horns before the Lord went forward, blowing the trumpets, with the ark of the covenant of the Lord following them.
Joshua 6:8 ESV

Unfortunately, people who relies on this interpretation for the procession of images may have overlooked to read Exodus 35 onwards detailing the construction of the tabernacle and the ark of the covenant. Without a doubt, God clearly was the One Who ordered the Israelites to build the tabernacle and the ark of the covenant and He specified what they would looked like. He left nothing on the imagination of His workers.

Bezalel made the ark of acacia wood. Two cubits and a half was its length, a cubit and a half its breadth, and a cubit and a half its height. And he overlaid it with pure gold inside and outside, and made a molding of gold around it. And he cast for it four rings of gold for its four feet, two rings on its one side and two rings on its other side. And he made poles of acacia wood and overlaid them with gold and put the poles into the rings on the sides of the ark to carry the ark. And he made a mercy seat of pure gold. Two cubits and a half was its length, and a cubit and a half its breadth. And he made two cherubim of gold. He made them of hammered work on the two ends of the mercy seat, one cherub on the one end, and one cherub on the other end. Of one piece with the mercy seat he made the cherubim on its two ends. The cherubim spread out their wings above, overshadowing the mercy seat with their wings, with their faces one to another; toward the mercy seat were the faces of the cherubim.
Exodus 37:1‭-‬9 ESV

He even sent the Holy Spirit to enable the builders for the work He intended them to do.

Then Moses said to the people of Israel, “See, the Lord has called by name Bezalel the son of Uri, son of Hur, of the tribe of Judah; and he has filled him with the Spirit of God, with skill, with intelligence, with knowledge, and with all craftsmanship, to devise artistic designs, to work in gold and silver and bronze, in cutting stones for setting, and in carving wood, for work in every skilled craft. And he has inspired him to teach, both him and Oholiab the son of Ahisamach of the tribe of Dan. He has filled them with skill to do every sort of work done by an engraver or by a designer or by an embroiderer in blue and purple and scarlet yarns and fine twined linen, or by a weaver—by any sort of workman or skilled designer.
Exodus 35:30‭-‬35 ESV

And in another passage.

“Bezalel and Oholiab and every craftsman in whom the Lord has put skill and intelligence to know how to do any work in the construction of the sanctuary shall work in accordance with all that the Lord has commanded.”
Exodus 36:1 ESV

Going back to the chapter in Joshua, let us not forget that it was also God Who communicated to Joshua how would they conquer Jericho. The command was explicit and not just Joshua’s interpretation of how God might want them to proceed. We know that this is the case because we can read them in the Bible.

Now Jericho was shut up inside and outside because of the people of Israel. None went out, and none came in. And the Lord said to Joshua, “See, I have given Jericho into your hand, with its king and mighty men of valor. You shall march around the city, all the men of war going around the city once. Thus shall you do for six days. Seven priests shall bear seven trumpets of rams’ horns before the ark. On the seventh day you shall march around the city seven times, and the priests shall blow the trumpets. And when they make a long blast with the ram’s horn, when you hear the sound of the trumpet, then all the people shall shout with a great shout, and the wall of the city will fall down flat, and the people shall go up, everyone straight before him.”
Joshua 6:1‭-‬5 ESV

Furthermore, in Joshua the ark was not just a merely human-conceived image, God architected it and directly communicated it to His people. So the statues we see today are nowhere in the Bible that the Lord asks us to make yet be the object of our worship. This is also similar of having images of Jesus, which no one in our time now knows what He really looks like. Some says that it is just a representation just like the photos of our love ones. With that analogy, will they still have the same affection to the photo of their love ones if the photo does not at all look like their actual love ones? We see, we cannot represent God into the things that He created. We just cannot because we are His creation. A student cannot be above his master. Same thing that Saul and us cannot make our own rules or bend the rules just to satisfy our own idea how to please the Lord. Instead, we follow His commands in the Bible and we can only follow them if we are serious to read the Bible truthfully.

Soli Deo Gloria!

-Rhia