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



Psalm 23:1-6

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



Ruth 1:1-5

A peaceful home

During the time that Israel was ruled by judges there was a famine in the land. A man who was living in Bethlehem at that time moved to the land of Moab with his wife, Naomi, and their two sons.

While they were living there Naomi’s husband died and she was left alone with her two sons. Naomi’s sons married women from Moab. One woman’s name was Orpah, and the other was Ruth. After about ten years both sons died and Naomi was left without a husband or sons.

Why do bad times come to ruin our good times?

Imagine if the world was as flat as a board: no canyons or cliffs, no valleys or mountains. What if it wasn’t only flat, but everything on it was the same color: no happy reds and oranges, and no darker shades of blue and green.

Life is seldom uneventful for long. Our lives seem full of ups and downs. However, God doesn’t just let us have good and bad times to keep us from getting bored; there is a purpose for everything that happens to us. God uses the ups and downs to help us grow in different ways. Struggles help our characters to grow strong; difficulties build up our faith; and tough times help us become more like Jesus (Romans 8:28-29). But more often than not, God sends us times of blessings so we can renew our strength, take courage and enjoy life!

Life was rather up and down for Naomi. First, it was the hardship of a famine and moving to a distant country. Then there were happy weddings and a peaceful home life. And then her husband and sons died. Life had also robbed Ruth and Orpah of their joy at a young age. Yet even as spring follows winter, and dawn follows the dark night, so our seasons of hardship will pass.

Verse for today

…We know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. Romans 5:3-4



Judges 15:1-8

Mean, nasty and cruel!

Samson’s wife had tricked him into telling her the meaning of his riddle. He was furious when he found out that she had told the Philistines what it meant.

So Samson went back to his parents’ home, leaving his wife behind. Later, when he went back to look for her, her father told Samson that he had given her to someone else to marry. Samson became very angry and said, “This time I am not going to be responsible for what I do to the Philistines.”

Then He went out and caught three hundred foxes and tied them in pairs by their tails. He put flaming torches in the knots and let them loose in the Philistine’s cornfields. As the foxes ran, they burned all the corn in the fields, as well as the corn that had already been harvested.

Why did God allow Samson to use His strength in the wrong way?

How would you feel if you were given a wonderful present, then as you started using it, the person who gave you the present took it back because you didn’t use it properly?

God has given you certain skills in order to do things well. He has given you the gift of a mind to make decisions. And because God doesn’t want to control you like a puppet, He has also given you the gift of freedom.

God respects our freedom to make decisions, and even when we dishonor Him by the way we use our abilities, He seldom takes them away. However, as Samson found out later, God may eventually take away an ability He has given us.

God wants us to make good decisions and He wants us to use our abilities in a way that is good. Make it your goal to please Him, because one day we will all stand before God and tell Him how we used our abilities (2 Corinthians 5:9-10).

Verse for today

From everyone who has been given much, much will be demanded; and from the one who has been entrusted with much, much more will be asked. Luke 12:48b



Judges 14:1-4

Samson gets his way

When Samson had grown up, he went to a place called Timnah where he met a Philistine woman he liked. He went back home and said to his father and mother, “I have met a woman in Timnah and I want you to get her for me.”

His parents asked him, “Why do you go to those heathen Philistines to look for a wife? Can’t you find a girl from your own people?”

“She is the one I want,” Samson said; “get her for me!”

Why do parents ‘always’ say no?

At times, it may seem as though the only answer you get from your parents when you ask for something, is ‘NO!’ Has the thought ever struck you that you may be asking for the wrong things?

Samson wanted to date a girl from the Philistine people who did not believe in God. His parents knew that this was not a good idea and tried to reason with him. “Surely there are many pretty girls here among God’s people,” they said.

But Samson was stubborn and demanded his own way. What he didn’t know was that before long he would find out that the Philistines were not friendly people and that he couldn’t even trust this Philistine girl.

In spite of how it seems at times, your parents want you to have what is best (Luke 11:13). But not only that, they want to keep you from things that are not good. They want to keep you safe and unharmed in every way. So whenever your parents say no, remember that they are protecting you or trying to help you control your many wishes.

Verse for today

Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. Ephesians 6:1



Judges 13:1-5, 24-25

An unexpected messenger

Gideon had died and the Israelites had started sinning against the Lord again. So the Lord let the Philistines rule over them for forty years.

One day, the Lord’s angel appeared to a woman who had not been able to have children and said, “You will soon be pregnant and have a son. After he is born, you must never cut his hair because he will be dedicated to God.”

When the angel had gone, the woman told her husband Manoah about the message from God. Manoah prayed to God and said, “Please let the man of God You sent come back and tell us how to raise the boy.” So God answered Manoah’s prayer and sent the angel again.

When the boy was born, his mother named him Samson, and the Lord blessed him and made him strong.

Why was Samson not meant to cut his hair?

During the time of Moses, if someone wanted to give himself to God in a special way, he had to follow God’s instructions (Numbers 6:1-8). Any person could take a Nazirite vow to fully dedicate himself to God for a certain time. During that time, he was not allowed to eat grapes or drink wine, nor was he allowed to cut his hair (which was a sign of his dedication to God).

If you would like to give your life to God for Him to use in a special way, you don’t need an outward sign to show others about your dedication to God. People will see your faithfulness to the Lord by the way you live.

However, if you want to do something to remind yourself of the commitment or pledge you made to the Lord, you could write it on a decorated card and keep it in your Bible.

Verse for today

You are to be holy to me because I, the LORD, am holy, and I have set you apart from the nations to be my own. Leviticus 20:26



There is a mountain of media out there promoting a phony philosophy about the joys of recreational sex — casual, risky sexual encounters that do not involve commitment. One need look no farther than the junk advice featured in magazines like Cosmopolitan to see just how pernicious and pervasive recreational sex is.

The time for some straight talk about this sexual trend is long overdue. Every young person needs to know the following three truths:

Truth #1: Recreational sex has produced dramatic increases in sexually transmitted diseases (STDs). Girls who are sexually active in their early teens are twice as likely to get an STD, and about 40 percent will become pregnant. According to Dr. Meg Meeker, a pediatrician and author, “[a]lmost half of all girls are likely to become infected with an STD during their very first sexual experience.” Girls are far more susceptible to STDs than guys because of the biology of the cervix. And a report, The Cost of Free Love, from Concerned Women for America (CWA), documents the fact that there are now some 49 different STDS.

There is no escaping the fact that we are in the midst of an STD epidemic, with more than 20 million new STD cases every year, the majority of them affecting 15–25-year-olds, and triple the number just six years ago. These inconvenient facts go unreported, and supposedly responsible adults still encourage early sexual activity for girls.

Truth #2: Recreational sex leaves young people alone and lonely. Conventional wisdom says that if you tell a lie often enough, people will begin to believe it. The mantra, heard from middle school onward, is that sex is great recreation, that it’s free and fun. Sadly, many girls don’t recognize the lie until it’s too late. Start sexual activity in your early teens, and you’re likely to have more than a dozen partners (four times higher than those who begin sexual activity in their early twenties). A college coed, talking about her new boyfriend, explained that she would “tell him about two guys I slept with, but not the others.” She added, “Once you get beyond five, it sounds kind of slutty.”

School and college counselors tell us that sexually active girls are three times more likely to be depressed than their abstinent peers. Among the boys, sexually active ones are depressed twice as often. Sexually active teens are more likely than their abstinent counterparts to attempt suicide (girls 15 percent to five percent and boys six percent to one percent). But the most telling fact is that the majority of teenagers, 72 percent of the girls and 55 percent of the boys, acknowledge regret over early sexual activity and wish that they had waited longer to have sex. So much for the cultural mantra that sex is no big deal!

Truth #3: Recreational sex makes girls the losers. The bottom line is that only one third of girls who had early sexual activity describe themselves as “happy” as compared with over half among those who waited. More than a quarter of sexually active girls report depression, and they are three times more likely to commit suicide. As Dr. Miriam Grossman warns in her book, Unprotected, women are hardwired to attach through sexual behavior, and no condom will protect them from the psychological consequences of sexual permissiveness: empty relationships, feelings of self-contempt and worthlessness, and even depression.

A major contributor to today’s promiscuous culture is the unlevel playing field — 57 percent of students in college are women. In her Weekly Standard article about this situation, Charlotte Allen explained that the sexual revolution was supposed to do away with the double standard, but there is a harsher, more cruel double standard now — a supply-saturated, short-term sexual marketplace. Students at Yale University have a sad term for it now — SWUG-Nation, with “SWUG” standing for “Senior Washed Up Girls.”

The harsh realities of casual, drunken sex should make the choice of abstinence very simple. If there were more honest discussion of the pain caused by promiscuity, the market value of virginity would dramatically increase. Young people need to choose carefully. Sex can never be free; choices always have consequences. We cannot expect young people to act responsibly when neither adults nor the culture is providing the best possible information to encourage self-discipline and self-control, which are the surest keys to young people’s long-term well-being.

Read more at http://barbwire.com/2014/04/04/exposing-myths-recreational-sex/#mC7vwPJ6GcEHa8ux.99