1 Samuel 18:17-22, 28-30
Jealousy, courage and love
David had become popular all over Israel and Saul was jealous of him. He thought, “I will get David to fight in the fiercest battles so that he gets killed by the Philistines—then I will not need to kill him myself.”
Michal, one of Saul’s daughters, fell in love with David. Saul was pleased when he found out about this and ordered his officers to tell David, “All Saul wants from you as payment to marry Michal is a hundred dead Philistines.”
David wasted no time in showing his love for Michal and came back with proof that he had killed two hundred Philistines. So Saul allowed Michal to marry David, but planned to use her to trap him.
What can I hold on to when life becomes hectic?
So much had happened in David’s life since he had left his peaceful life as a shepherd to join Saul’s army. Do you think David sometimes longed to be back with his sheep in the field?
Within a short time, David had become famous throughout the land. He had also become a commander in Saul’s army. As a shepherd he had only heard of the Philistines; now he faced them in battle day after day. Then there was Saul, the jealous king who kept on trying to get rid of him. And now David had married Saul’s daughter. It had all happened so fast. Imagine all the different feelings that tumbled around in David’s heart.
Life has peaceful moments when we have time to enjoy the little things, when we have time to look at flowers and watch the clouds changing shape. Suddenly things change and we feel unsafe, like a small boat being tossed about on a stormy sea.
For David, there was only one thing that would never change: the fact that God was in control of his life. God loved him and would always be there for him. Knowing that made all the difference!
Verse for today
You will keep in perfect peace him whose mind is steadfast, because he trusts in you. Isaiah 26:3
A good shepherd
After Samuel had anointed David, he left and went back to Ramah, while David went back to his father’s flock of sheep in the fields.
Day and night David stayed with his sheep to make sure they were well cared for. He let his sheep graze in fields of lush grass. He led them to quiet streams where the rushing water would not frighten them. He used his rod to scare off wild animals and his staff to gently lead the sheep away from places that were unsafe.
David wrote a psalm about God. He thought about the Lord as a Shepherd looking after him, just as he was looking after his father’s sheep.
Why does Jesus call us sheep?
Have you been on a sheep farm or seen a flock of sheep grazing in a field? Perhaps you have seen a painting or photo of a shepherd leading his flock of sheep. Sheep don’t seem very bright, do they? If someone at school were to call you a sheep, you would probably feel rather upset. Why would Jesus call us sheep if He knew we’d be embarrassed to think of ourselves as sheep?
Like sheep, we need to follow a shepherd, otherwise we would end up following each other and get lost (Luke 15:4-6). Like sheep, we cannot defend ourselves (1 Peter 5:8). Like sheep, we don’t know where the dangers lie (Proverbs 3:26).
Don’t worry too much about being called a sheep—you have the best Shepherd looking after you. He loves you so much that He gave His life to save you. Besides, those who are not part of His flock are called goats (Matthew 25:32). Now that is something you don’t want to be called!
Verse for today
We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to his own way… Isaiah 53:6
1 Samuel 5:1-11, 7:1-2
Trouble for the enemy
After the Philistines had captured the Covenant Box, they took it to the temple of their god Dagon. Early the next morning, the people of the city found the statue of Dagon lying in pieces, flat on its face. The Lord punished the people of the city by letting bumps grow on their bodies. When they saw what was happening, they said, “We are being punished by the God of the Israelites.” And they took the Covenant Box to another city.
The Lord punished that city too, so the Philistines took the Covenant Box to another city. Wherever they took the holy Covenant Box, the people were punished.
Eventually, they put the Covenant Box on a wagon drawn by two cows. The cows headed straight for the town of Beth Shemesh in Israel from where it was taken to Kiriath Jearim. There it stayed for twenty years.
Can the enemy of God keep whatever he captures?
The Bible says that God’s enemy (the devil) has come to steal and destroy what belongs to God (John 10:10). He wants to take everything he can, and what he cannot steal, he will try to destroy. The devil hates anything that is pure and good!
God’s enemy has stolen our innocence and left us with guilt. The devil robs us of joy and leaves us with sadness and pain. He takes peace from our hearts and leaves us with worry and fear.
But Jesus died on the cross to take away our guilt. He has given us His purity and made us acceptable to God (Ephesians 1:4). He gives us joy in place of sadness (Isaiah 61:3) and puts His peace deep down in our hearts (John 14:27). The devil may take away our possessions for a while, as he did with Job, but he can never take away the treasure inside us. Paul said “I know whom I have believed, and am convinced that he is able to guard what I have entrusted to him for that day” (2 Timothy 1:12).
Verse for today
I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one can snatch them out of my hand. John 10:28
What a shame!
During the night, the Lord had told Samuel that He was going to do something terrible to the nation of Israel because the people had turned away from Him.
Not long after that, the Philistines gathered for war against the Israelites and defeated them. When the survivors got back to camp the leaders of Israel said, “Why did the Lord let us be defeated? Let us fetch the Covenant Box and carry it into battle with us. Then the Lord will be right there with us and He will save us.”
When the Covenant Box arrived, the Israelites shouted so loudly that the Philistines were afraid. So the Philistines fought even harder than before and defeated the Israelites again, this time killing thousands more and capturing the Covenant Box.
How do people dishonor the name of the Lord?
Have you ever felt embarrassed for God’s Kingdom when Christians do things that are shameful and wrong?
The Israelites had forsaken God. They did not rely on Him or ask Him about important decisions anymore. So when they were faced with the enemy, they fought in their own strength—and lost! God was wanting to show His glory through His people, as He had done in the past. Now the Israelites were doing their own thing. They had taken the holy Covenant Box—which was not supposed to be moved—and put it on the battlefield like a good-luck charm.
Doing something that keeps people from seeing God’s power, dishonors His name. Yet God does not need to prove His power and glory to anyone. He also will not change His standard of holiness to save His people from embarrassment or defeat, or to defend His name.
The Lord’s name will always be above all other names. That is why we must be careful not to dishonor His holy name by calling ourselves Christians and living in a way that is no different to that of unbelievers.
Verse for today
Many will follow their shameful ways and will bring the way of truth into disrepute. 2 Peter 2:2
1 Samuel 3:1-10
A voice in the night
The boy Samuel served the Lord at the Temple by helping Eli. Eli was almost blind and slept in his own room while Samuel slept in the Temple near the Covenant Box. One night the Lord called Samuel. Samuel got up and went to Eli thinking that it was Eli who had called him.
But Eli said, “I didn’t call you; go back to bed.” A while later the Lord called Samuel again. Samuel didn’t know it was the Lord and went to Eli again. Eli said to him, “I didn’t call you; go back to bed.” The Lord called Samuel a third time. This time, when Samuel went to Eli, Eli realized that it was the Lord and said, “Go back to bed, and if you hear the voice again say, “Speak, Lord, your servant is listening.” So Samuel went back to bed.
When the Lord called Samuel again, Samuel answered, “Speak, your servant is listening.” And the Lord spoke to Samuel.
Can I really hear God speaking to me?
You may have heard people say that the Lord spoke to them, or that God has told them to do something. Does God really speak to people the way He spoke to Samuel that night? If not, how can we hear from God if we don’t hear his voice?
Before Jesus came to earth, God used leaders like judges and prophets to give a message to His people. God would speak to them in a voice they could hear, through special dreams, or through an angel that would give them the message.
Then God sent his very own Son, Jesus to speak to us (Hebrews 1:1). Now we have the words and the example of Jesus, and we have the Holy Spirit who was sent to make the words of Jesus real in our hearts. This is the way God speaks to us now.
Verse for today
Your ears will hear a voice behind you, saying, “This is the way; walk in it.” Isaiah 30:21
This is the beginning of the Gospel of John:
“In the beginning was the word, and the word was with God, and the word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through him. In him was life, and the life was the light of all people.”
Before there was anything at all, the whole world was an idea in God’s mind. But you can’t see an idea. You can’t feel it or touch it or taste it or hear it. It is invisible.
No one can know an idea in your head until you tell them about it. Your words make your idea something they can understand.
And so God said, “Let there be light!” And there was light.
God spoke, and God’s word made an invisible idea something we can see.
Jesus is God’s word. He is all the goodness and power of the invisible God. The creator of the universe came to earth in a way we can see and feel and hear and touch.
Now, there was a man sent by God. His name was John. Today we call him John the Baptist. God sent John to be a witness.
Suppose one day you went to school, and no one knew who you were. What could you do?
You could have your best friend be your witness. Your best friend could tell everyone who you were.
That’s what God sent John to do. God sent John to tell everyone who Jesus was.
And so one day, John was out in the wilderness telling everyone about God and his kingdom. When he saw Jesus walking along, John said,
“Look! There is the Lamb of God!”
What did he mean by that?!
Remember the Passover? God’s people sacrificed a lamb and marked their doors with its blood. That night, the angel of death passed over every house that was marked by the blood of the lamb. The Passover lamb gave its life so God’s people could live.
God sent Jesus to give his life for us, so that everyone who believes in Jesus can live with him in heaven forever.
God sent Jesus to be OUR Passover lamb.
Some time later, John was baptizing his followers in the Jordan River. He told them to admit their sins and ask God’s forgiveness. Baptism was a sign that they were leaving their sins behind and beginning a new life with God.
And so Jesus came to John to be baptized. It wasn’t that Jesus had any sins that needed to be forgiven – Jesus never sinned. But he was about to leave his old life behind, and begin the work that God sent him to do.
John said to Jesus, “But you should be baptizing me!” But Jesus insisted that John baptize him. It was what God wanted, and Jesus did everything that God wanted.
When Jesus stepped out of the water, the spirit of God appeared over him like a dove, and a deep voice said,
“This is my beloved Son, of whom I am well pleased.”
And so Jesus began his work to save us.