David, son of Jesse: anointed, but yet to be crowned king. An outlaw without reason. A wanderer with a pedigree from Judah a blessing from Samuel and a price on his head. Following God and being hunted by man.
Several years ago I read The Divine Mentor by Wayne Cordeiro, and it was life-changing in teaching me how to focus my Bible reading and to be disciplined in my walk with Jesus. I love how he describes the scene in 1 Samuel 30 from the perspective of one of David’s men:
The Divine Mentor
By Wayne Cordeiro
Smoke billowed on the horizon. Smoke where there should be no smoke at least, not a towering column like this one.
It couldn’t be good.
Terrorists. What else could it be?
As we approached we could see a few flames licking at piles of rubble. Yet where there had been homes, streets, playgrounds, gardens . . . there was nothing at all. Smoke, ruin, ashes. Nothing more. Shocked into immobility, we could do nothing but gape. Where were the homes? Where were the women and children?
We poured over the edge of the embankment some sliding, some jumping, some running headlong, falling, getting up, and falling again. Each man ran to the area where his home had been, hoping against hope to see someone moving in the wreckage: a beloved face, a form staggering out of the devastation. But there was no one. And no sound but the dry crackle of flames, fanned by a lonely desert wind.
Where were the bodies? We saw none. The terrorists must have kidnapped every woman and child in the village!
We wept without shame. Some cursed; some called out names in their anguish. Muttering among themselves, clusters began to gather, glancing at one another, nodding, fingering their weapons. It was like the moment before a violent thunderstorm, when the air becomes taut and stifling.
That’s when he collapsed on his knees and convulsed in agony. It’s not as though his loved ones had been spared.
We couldn’t help but watch. And as he poured out his sorrow, pleading for help and hope and direction, his body language began to change. Tension seemed to drain away from his shoulders. His hands unclenched, and he lifted his head as he prayed. Finally rising again to his feet, he wiped away his tears, squared his shoulders, and spoke with a steady voice.
Say what you will, something happened by that rock on the edge of total devastation. In those few moments, he had found strength, confidence, and fresh resolve. God must have given him a plan too, because it wasn’t long before we set off like the wind on the trail of the invaders.
In that moment, we could believe again. And rising among us was the confidence that we would recover from the ashes of Ziklag all we had lost . . . and maybe even more.
I love reading the Bible and seeing how God worked in the lives of Abraham, Judah & Tamar, Boaz & Ruth, Hannah & Samuel, and King David . . . All leading to Jesus. All pointing us to the Savior. Redemption. Forgiveness. We see God using broken people to weave His story. God giving strength to the weak.
We get a glimpse of God working all things together for good for those who love Him.
Anyone who claims to know all the answers doesn’t really know very much. But the person who loves God is the one whom God recognizes. 1 Corinthians 8:2-3 NLT
In my #BibleReadingPlan I’m currently reading about King David in the Old Testament and Paul’s letters in the New Testament. David and Paul are my favorite mentors in the Bible, along with Mary of Bethany.
- King David: He was a very flawed man, but still loved God passionately. He was an adulterer. A murderer. A song writer. A lover of many women. Even as king had no problem dancing and singing in the streets to praise God. His kids were screwed up. They killed each other. Raped each other. His heart broke for his children and he wept for them. No matter how many times he stumbled and fell, no matter how dark the valley or cave he was hiding, he always returned to God.
- Paul: He hated Christians and hunted them. He watched as Stephen was stoned to death for believing in Jesus. And then God stopped Paul in his tracks. Quite literally. God opened his eyes and showed him that Jesus was real, and Paul believed. He changed his whole life and committed it completely to following Jesus. He was beaten. He was a letter writer. His life was spent traveling and preaching. He was church planter. A prisoner. He encouraged and corrected. He was loved by many and hated by many. He was executed after 30 years of serving Jesus. He was a lover of the gospel and lover of the church. His greatest love in life was Jesus.
- Mary of Bethany: Mary was a sister to Martha and Lazarus. Jesus was her friend. She trusted him and loved him. And she understood that spending time with Jesus and loving him were more important than anything else. She wasn’t ashamed to express her love for Jesus – even when others criticized her for it. She sat at Jesus’s feet, which was controversial because that signaled that she was a disciple, a role typically just for males. She washed Jesus’s feet with expensive perfume. Also, controversial. She didn’t care what others thought of her, she just wanted to love Jesus. She understood the importance of being with Jesus and expressing her love of him.
What can we learn from these mentors?
- To love God
- To praise and worship God – no matter who criticizes us for it
- To make time with God our #1 priority
- To love others
- To share God’s love with others
Three things will last forever—faith, hope, and love—and the greatest of these is love.
1 Corinthians 13:13 NLT
Cry out to God with the good, the bad and the ugly.
My current Bible reading plan includes daily reading in the Old Testament, New Testament and usually either a Psalm or Proverb. Right now I am reading about the life of King David and it is very interesting (and encouraging) to read about the HORRIBLE things going on in David’s life and in Judah and Israel, juxtaposed with songs David wrote while experiencing these heartbreaking and terrifying experiences.
For example, today I read in 2 Samuel 3-4 about war and murder and gruesome executions. About husbands and wives being torn apart. About disloyalty and political strife. About a nation divided by leadership loyalties.
And then I turned to Psalm 59 and read David’s song. The song was written earlier – when King Saul was still alive and had sent soldiers to watch David’s house in order to kill him – but I still see the heart of David and how he cried out to God. I read the song of a man after God’s own heart.
In the midst of people trying to kill him, David cries out to God. He tells God about his fears. He asks God to rescue him. He begs for protection. He told God his situation. The good, the bad and the ugly. This wasn’t some nice prayer or pretty worship song. This was David pouring out his fears, anger, hurts to God. This was a son coming to his Father and begging him for mercy. This was a man who trusted God, but was hurting. This was a tortured man begging for a break from the pain.
God included this Psalm in the Bible. And many others like it. I assume if God wanted these many Psalms in the Bible – and said that David was a man after His own heart – that God wants us to call out to Him, just like David did.
God wants to know our whole heart. Not just the nice stuff. Not just the just the praises and thank-yous and lists of requests. He wants us to tell Him our fears and anger and hurts. He wants all of us. The good, the bad and the ugly.
Lessons from David and Paul for living through a season of pain.
David and Paul – two men living 1,000 years apart. Both chosen by God. Both given a special job and an important role in the history of Christianity. David’s calling was to lead Israel as the second king and be an ancestor to Jesus. Paul’s role was to bring the gospel to the gentiles.
God called both these men and equipped them to do their jobs.
But that doesn’t mean the jobs were easy or that their lives were pain-free. Quite the opposite. They were both persecuted, but by example, they both left us a map of how to walk through the Valley of the Shadow of Death.
Before he was king, David was pursued by King Saul who was intent on killing him. David had several opportunities to fight back and kill Saul, but he didn’t. God had appointed Saul and David didn’t seek vengeance. Instead he spent his time hiding in caves and running away from his enemies. He didn’t get to see his family or worship God in the temple. He was constantly in fear for his life. He hadn’t done anything other than respect and honor Saul, but he was still a hunted man.
What did David do in this painful and scary situation? He trusted God. He called out to God – expressing his fear, anger and sadness. He also praised God. Psalm 57 is a song David wrote to God, while hiding in a cave. He was calling out to God for protection and praising God for his love.
Today in Acts, I read about Paul, who knew he would be heading into danger and possible death, but still he walked forward. He knew where God wanted him to go and do, and he did it. Regardless of the pain. Regardless of the punishment.
Paul did end up in prison many times. For several years he was actually forgotten in prison during a change of leadership. He was beaten. He was persecuted. How did he respond? He prayed. He praised God. He shared he gospel.
Honestly, I’m not going to pray for prison or torture or for enemies who want murder me. But I have experienced pain and I know that hard times will come. Death to loved ones. Eventual death to myself. Pain. Rejection. Times of sadness.
Pain is an inevitable part of life, but David and Paul set an example for what we should do in the midst of pain:
- Cry out to God – tell him your fears, anger, sadness
- Praise God
- Thank God
- Remain obedient to God . . . even when faced with trials
- Have faith
I’m not saying it is easy – at least it isn’t for me – but these men give us a map to follow when life is at its worst.
P.S. One of the things I love about reading through the Bible is meeting mentors. Real people who lived thousands of years ago who can mentor me on living life. If you are interested in reading through the Bible, check out the reading plans on TheBible.com or the YouVersion app. I’m currently reading through the Bible using the plan linked here. Please comment below if you are reading through the Bible!
David was a man after God’s own heart. He was chosen by God to be the king of Israel. From his family tree came Jesus. But David wasn’t perfect. Far from it.
King David was a murder. King David was an adulterer.
In today’s reading (if you want to join me in reading through the Bible comment below and I’ll be in touch! Here is the plan I’m using this year. It is never too late to start!), the plan including Psalm 51, which King David wrote after he was confronted by a prophet, Nathan, about his adultery.
I think there is a lot to learn in this chapter, by David’s example, about what to do when confronted with sin:
- David admitted his sin.
- His heart was broken because of his sin.
- David asked God for mercy.
- He asked God to cleanse him from his sin.
- David asked God to create in him a pure heart and to renew a steadfast spirit.
- He praised God.
We have all sinned – whether its lying or cheating or gossiping. King David’s sin was huge – murder and adultery. But when confronted with his sin he admitted what he had done and his heart was broken. His heart wasn’t broken because he had been caught. His heart was broken because he had hurt God. He asked for forgiveness. He turned away from the sin.
God forgave him.
And God turned evil into good . . . as from David and Bathsheba’s family line came a baby named Jesus who would save the world.