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 great, a mighty man was this David, son of Jesse the Bethlehemite.

He had ten brothers, but almost nothing is heard of the ten; David alone arrests the pen of inspiration; only David is honored to write as he is moved by the Holy Spirit.

How important a figure he was may be inferred from his refusal to die. David has been gone from the earth about three thousand years; three thousand times the earth has circled around the sun since he left us; three thousand times have the wild geese flown honking toward the south and returned again to the north with the returning spring. Empires have come into being, run their course and disappeared; thrones have toppled; kings have strutted their little day upon the stage of history and lain down at last to be forgotten or almost forgotten by the world. How many noted men during the long years have come and gone and left no more trace behind them than an arrow leaves when it passes through the air.

Yet David will not die. He served his generation by the will of God and fell asleep, but asleep he has more power over men for good than a thousand religious doctors and bishops do awake. He will not allow oblivion to swallow him nor will he lie quiet with the ancients amid dust and mold. He was a simple shepherd but he stands to teach the learned; he lived an insular life among his own people, but his voice is heard today in almost every land and his pure songs are sung in half a thousand tongues. Scarcely will a church service be held next Sunday anywhere in the world but, unseen, David will direct the choir, and when the minister rises to preach God’s truth he will hardly sit down again until he has spoken of David or quoted from his inspired psalms.


And David enquired of the Lord. 2 Samuel 5:23

When David made this enquiry he had just fought the Philistines, and gained a signal victory. The Philistines came up in great hosts, but, by the help of God, David had easily put them to flight. Note, however, that when they came a second time, David did not go up to fight them without enquiring of the Lord. Once he had been victorious, and he might have said, as many have in other cases, “I shall be victorious again; I may rest quite sure that if I have conquered once I shall triumph yet again. Wherefore should I tarry to seek at the Lord’s hands?” Not so, David. He had gained one battle by the strength of the Lord; he would not venture upon another until he had ensured the same. He enquired, “Shall I go up against them?” He waited until God’s sign was given. Learn from David to take no step without God. Christian, if thou wouldst know the path of duty, take God for thy compass; if thou wouldst steer thy ship through the dark billows, put the tiller into the hand of the Almighty. Many a rock might be escaped, if we would let our Father take the helm; many a shoal or quicksand we might well avoid, if we would leave to His sovereign will to choose and to command. The Puritan said, “As sure as ever a Christian carves for himself, he’ll cut his own fingers;” this is a great truth. Said another old divine, “He that goes before the cloud of God’s providence goes on a fool’s errand;” and so he does. We must mark God’s providence leading us; and if providence tarries, tarry till providence comes. He who goes before providence, will be very glad to run back again. “I will instruct thee and teach thee in the way which thou shalt go,” is God’s promise to His people. Let us, then, take all our perplexities to Him, and say, “Lord, what wilt thou have me to do?” Leave not thy chamber this morning without enquiring of the Lord.


No Fear Factor

God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control.” 2 Timothy 1:7 ESV

The reality TV show Fear Factor featured people who are willing to face their worst fears for notoriety and financial gain. I need to tell you that I rarely watched more than a fleeting moment of the show as I surfed with my remote. I find it tough to watch people eat cockroaches, immerse themselves in a tank full of creepy worms with legs, and stay under water far too long with slimy eels crowding around their heads. It’s just not my definition of high-value entertainment. But the program did remind me that fear is an emotion that we are all very familiar with. In fact, my discomfort with watching for any length of time probably has something to do with reminding me of things and events that I fear or at least find uncomfortable.

Yet thinking of the program does make me wonder: Would I be willing to conquer my fears to do what Jesus asks me to do, just as these contestants overcome their fears for a moment in the spotlight of national TV?

There is no doubt that fear is no friend of our effectiveness for Christ. We are often fearful about witnessing, giving our money away, saying no to our friends, forgiving a cruel offense, saying yes to a short-term missionary assignment, or risking being misunderstood if we speak up for biblical values at the water-cooler. If Satan can get us stymied by fear, he doesn’t have to do much else to shut down our spiritual progress and usefulness.

So, let’s talk about what it takes to succeed for Jesus in the face of fear.

First, let’s remind ourselves that fear primarily focuses on protecting and preserving “me.” Overcoming fear begins with deciding that some things in life are more important than ourselves. Things like the eternal destinies of others, the prosperity of the work of Christ in our world, the fact that the reputation of Jesus is more strategically important than my fleeting popularity, and that His integrity and righteousness showing up in my life is more important than cheating for some personal gain. Once you and I realize that a self-surpassing passion for others and Jesus trumps fear, we can understand why the apostle John wrote that love casts out fear (1 John 4:18).

But loving can often feel like a risky, sometimes losing proposition, which is why we need another ingredient to release the power of the love that conquers fear. That ingredient is trust. Trusting that God will protect you when you are fearful, that God will reward you when you feel at risk, that God will give you guidance and courage when you feel lost and intimidated is what it takes to defeat the fear that holds you back. Are you afraid that when you love you will become vulnerable, misunderstood, taken advantage of, or misused? Trust God to watch over you, meet your needs, and give you His best, and those fears will become increasingly nonexistent.

When our lives are characterized by trust-filled love, fear ultimately will not be a factor. As President Roosevelt said in his inaugural speech, “The only thing we have to fear is fear itself!”


  • What does God want you to do but you are afraid of doing?
  • List the advances you could make spiritually if fear were not a factor in your life. Be specific.
  • What would it take for you to be more passionate about others and Jesus than you are about yourself?
  • In Psalm 56:3, what did David say he would do in the face of fear? Are you ready to do the same?
  • What specifically can you trust God for when fear threatens your walk with Him?


How To Honor Your Parents

My son, hear the instruction of your father,
And forsake not the teaching of your mother;
They shall be a crown of beauty for your head,
And a necklace about your neck.
Listen to your father who begat you,
And despise not your mother when she is old.
He who does what he is told is a wise son.
But he who makes friends of spendthrifts,
Brings disgrace on his father.

He who robs father or mother,
Saying, “There is no wrong in it,”
Is like him who is a destroyer.
He who curses his father or mother,
His lamp shall go out in the blackest of darkness.
A wise son makes a glad father,
But a foolish son despises his mother.
A foolish son is a grief to his father,
And brings bitterness to her who bore him.

Be wise, my son, and make glad my heart,
That I may answer the one who reproaches me.
Let your father be filled with joy,
And let her who bore you rejoice.


Better is the end of a thing than the beginning thereof. Ecclesiastes 7:8

Look at David’s Lord and Master; see His beginning. He was despised and rejected of men; a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief. Would you see the end? He sits at His Father’s right hand, expecting until His enemies be made his footstool. “As He is, so are we also in this world.” You must bear the cross, or you shall never wear the crown; you must wade through the mire, or you shall never walk the golden pavement. Cheer up, then, poor Christian. “Better is the end of a thing than the beginning thereof.” See that creeping worm, how contemptible its appearance! It is the beginning of a thing. Mark that insect with gorgeous wings, playing in the sunbeams, sipping at the flower bells, full of happiness and life; that is the end thereof. That caterpillar is yourself, until you are wrapped up in the chrysalis of death; but when Christ shall appear you shall be like Him, for you shall see Him as He is. Be content to be like Him, a worm and no man, that like Him you may be satisfied when you wake up in His likene ss. That rough-looking diamond is put upon the wheel of the lapidary. He cuts it on all sides. It loses much-much that seemed costly to itself. The king is crowned; the diadem is put upon the monarch’s head with trumpet’s joyful sound. A glittering ray flashes from that coronet, and it beams from that very diamond which was just now so sorely vexed by the lapidary. You may venture to compare yourself to such a diamond, for you are one of God’s people; and this is the time of the cutting process. Let faith and patience have their perfect work, for in the day when the crown shall be set upon the head of the King, Eternal, Immortal, Invisible, one ray of glory shall stream from you. “They shall be Mine,” saith the Lord, “in the day when I make up My jewels.” “Better is the end of a thing than the beginning thereof.”


With God’s Help by Mark D. Roberts

Psalm 60:1-12

With God’s help we will do mighty things,     for he will trample down our foes.

Psalm 60 was written in a time when Israel had been reeling under God’s judgment. He had used Israel’s enemies to discipline the people for their faithlessness. In this context, David cried out for the Lord to help Israel overcome her foes. He recognized that human strength alone would not be enough (60:11). Yet he had confidence in the Lord’s power: “With God’s help we will do mighty things, for he will trample down our foes” (60:12).

As we read this psalm today, few of us are preparing for literal battle against national enemies. Yet we all face opposition in our lives: fears that threaten to keep us from living for God each day, challenges that seem overwhelming, temptations that have tormented us for years. Our foes can also be external: a society that increasingly opposes the free expression of our faith, a culture that prizes sin, even religious leaders whose hearts and minds have turned away from God’s Word. Our enemies, though they do not wield swords and spears, can keep us from living boldly for God, serving him in every facet of life.

Thus we need the encouragement of Psalm 60:12 every bit as much as David and the Israelites needed it. With God’s help, we also will do mighty things. God will trample our foes so that we might prevail in the work of his kingdom. As Paul puts it in Philippians 4:13: “For I can do everything through Christ, who gives me strength.” As we lean upon the Lord, as we walk in his ways, as we offer our lives to him in whole-life worship, the Triune God will empower us beyond our greatest expectations (Eph. 3:20).

QUESTIONS FOR REFLECTION: What are the “enemies” you’re facing right now? How do you need to experience God’s power in your life today?

PRAYER: Holy, holy, holy Lord, God of power and might, heaven and earth are filled with your glory!

You are, indeed, a God of power and might. With your help, Lord, I can do mighty things. You have the power to defeat the foes I face, those enemies that keep me from serving you with all that I am.

With this confidence, I ask you to be powerful in my life. Defeat my foes, so that I might live my whole life for you. Energize me by your Spirit to do mighty things. Give me boldness in faith and faithfulness in obedience.

All praise be to you, Almighty God, for your power at work in and through me. Amen.


2 Samuel 15:23 The king also himself passed over the brook Kidron.

David passed that gloomy brook when flying with his mourning company from his traitor son. The man after God‘s own heart was not exempt from trouble, nay, his life was full of it. He was both the Lord’s Anointed, and the Lord’s Afflicted. Why then should we expect to escape? At sorrow’s gates the noblest of our race have waited with ashes on their heads, wherefore then should we complain as though some strange thing had happened unto us? The KING of kings himself was not favoured with a more cheerful or royal road. He passed over the filthy ditch of Kidron, through which the filth of Jerusalem flowed. God had one Son without sin, but not a single child without the rod. It is a great joy to believe that Jesus has been tempted in all points like as we are. What is our Kidron this morning? Is it a faithless friend, a sad bereavement, a slanderous reproach, a dark foreboding? The King has passed over all these. Is it bodily pain, poverty, persecution, or contempt? Over each of these Kidrons the King has gone before us. “In all our afflictions He was afflicted.” The idea of strangeness in our trials must be banished at once and for ever, for He who is the Head of all saints, knows by experience the grief which we think so peculiar. All the citizens of Zion must be free of the Honourable Company of Mourners, of which the Prince Immanuel is Head and Captain. Notwithstanding the abasement of David, he yet returned in triumph to his city, and David’s Lord arose victorious from the grave; let us then be of good courage, for we also shall win the day. We shall yet with joy draw water out of the wells of salvation, though now for a season we have to pass by the noxious streams of sin and sorrow. Courage, soldiers of the Cross, the King himself triumphed after going over Kidron, and so shall you.


Lies that Hurt, Words that Heal

“Save me, LORD,   from lying lips   and from deceitful tongues.”—Psalm 120:2

Psalm 120 is the first of 15 psalms called “Songs of Ascent.” One reason these psalms are given this title is because they are especially conducive to lifting a person up from hopelessness and helplessness into knowing that anything is possible with God. Through reciting these psalms a person ascends, rising above circumstances and coming closer to God.

In this particular psalm, King David voiced concerns over the lies that were spoken about him. Like David, the Jewish people have often been the target of slander and lies designed to hurt, if not destroy. Whether it was the countless blood libels spread in Europe, claiming that Jews used the blood of innocent Christians in baking Passover matzo, or lies spread by Arab propaganda designed to convince the world that Israel intentionally kills children – Israel has been the victim of lies time and again. Like David, we pray “Save me, LORD, from lying lips.”

In this psalm, David likened lies to “a warrior’s sharp arrows” (v.4). The Sages explain that just as an arrow is designed to kill from afar, so, too, can false words bring danger to those at a distance from the speaker. No wonder David turned to God for help! How else could he protect himself from these sharp arrows pointed in his direction?

Appropriately, this psalm is often read when Israel is in imminent danger. The last verse especially resonates with every Israeli, every Jew, and every lover of Zion. David wrote: “I am for peace, but when I speak, they are for war” (v.7).

Israel has only ever wanted peace. While our enemies pretend to want peace as well, they have proven repeatedly that they want nothing less than the complete destruction of Israel; “they are for war.” When our enemies saw that they could not defeat us militarily, they resorted to the age old anti-Semitic tactic of telling lies. This is their warfare – and so much of today’s media is quick to spread this deceit as truth. This is how they try to defeat us. Who can protect Israel from such vicious lies?

The answer, of course, is God. One day the truth will become clear and until that time God will protect His people.

But we need to do our part. Whether it’s doctored pictures or blatant lies, we need to uncover the truth and spread it. With today’s technology, it’s easier than ever to learn the truth and share it. Our enemies may use their words to harm, but we can use our words to heal. We can use our words to speak the truth, and most importantly, to pray. Pray for the safety of Israel and protection from all destructive lies.


Paying Back Your Enemies by Mark D. Roberts

LORD, have mercy on me.      Make me well again, so I can pay them back!

Have you ever wanted to get even with those who have wronged you? Perhaps with a coworker whose slander cost you a promotion? Or perhaps even with your spouse or sibling? It’s a natural human instinct to want to inflict pain on those who have hurt us. In fact, we see this very thing in Psalm 41.

In this psalm, David laments both his physical illness and the mistreatment he has received from his enemies. They “say nothing but evil” about him (v. 5). They pretend to be his friends, but gossip about him (v. 6). They speak as if his disease is fatal (v. 8). Worse still, even David’s best friend has turned against him (v. 9). In response to all of this cruelty, David prays, “LORD, have mercy on me. Make me well again, so I can pay them back!” (v. 10).

Here, once again, is an example of what I love about the Psalms. They are so honest. They don’t pretend to be falsely pious. They tell the truth about the human heart. David wants to pay back those who have wronged him, and he wants God to make him well so that he can do it. It’s important to note that Psalm 41:10 does not teach us that it’s right to return evil for evil when people mistreat us. Rather, this verse encourages us to pour out our hearts to God without holding back. As we tell God the truth about ourselves, we invite him to touch our lives and transform our hearts.

Jesus reveals that such transformation is not only possible, but also normative in the kingdom of God. In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus says, “You have heard the law that says the punishment must match the injury: ‘An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth.’ But I say, do not resist an evil person! If someone slaps you on the right cheek, offer the other cheek also” (Matt. 5:38-39). On the cross, he modeled this posture of grace when he asked his Father to forgive those who were crucifying him (Luke 23:34).

When people wrong us, sometimes we will be able to imitate Jesus right from the start. But, often, we will need to begin where David began, praying for payback. Yet, as we open our hearts to the Lord, the Holy Spirit helps us to be like Jesus, offering forgiveness and hungering for reconciliation.

QUESTIONS FOR FURTHER REFLECTION: How do you respond to David’s prayer in Psalm 41:10? Have you ever prayed like this? Have you ever wanted to pray like this, but held back? Are there people in your life right now who have wronged you or are wronging you? Are you able to be honest with God about how you feel about them and your situation?

PRAYER: Gracious God, how I thank you for the blunt honesty of the Psalms. You have not given us a guide to prayer that has been edited to remove all of the grittiness and raw humanity. Rather, you have allowed us to peer into the souls of real people who are often struggling to live in a genuine relationship with you and with others. Thank you for this marvelous gift.

When people wrong me, I pray for the grace to be like Jesus. Yet, I also pray for the grace to be honest with you, to pour out my heart, to allow you to transform my soul through the Spirit.

I pray today, Lord, for all who are wrestling with the implications of Psalm 41, especially for those who have been wronged and are struggling to forgive. Help them to be honest with you. Reach out to them with compassion and your transformative grace. I pray in the name of Jesus. Amen.