When Life Gives You Lemons…

This past Sunday I taught 1 Samuel 18 at White Fields (the audio of that message can be found here).

This is the story of Saul’s jealousy towards David, which leads him to begin a campaign to hurt David in order to secure his position of power and prominence in Israel. It is a story full of themes which are all too familiar for many of us, because they are so human.

Here are a few quotes from Sunday which are worth revisiting:

One of the main principles in this story is the fact that you can’t control how people treat you, and often-times you can’t control what happens to you, but you do get to choose how you respond to those things.

Ted Engstrom illustrates this principle well:

“Cripple him, and you have a Sir Walter Scott.
Lock him in a prison cell, and you have a John Bunyan.
Bury him in the snows of Valley Forge, and you have a George Washington.
Raise him in abject poverty and you have an Abraham Lincoln.
Strike him down with infantile paralysis, and he becomes a Franklin Roosevelt.
Burn him so severely that the doctors say he’ll never walk again, and you have a Glenn Cunningham who set the world’s one-mile record in 1934.
Deafen him and you’ll have a Ludwig van Beethoven.
Have him or her born black in a society filled with racial discrimination, and you’ll have a Booker T. Washington, and a George Washington Carver
Call him a slow learner, and write him off as uneducable, and you have an Albert Einstein.”

All of these people had terrible circumstances that they didn’t get to choose, that nobody would have ever chosen! But they didn’t crumble under these circumstances; instead, they responded well – and their circumstances ended up becoming an important part of who they would become and why they would be great.

The same is true of David. Men after God’s heart aren’t made in palaces, they are made in fields on cold nights, tending the sheep alone under the stars; they are made in caves, where the Lord is your only rock and fortress.

Gene Edwards, in his classic book ‘A Tale of Three Kings: A Study in Brokenness’, writes this about David’s difficult circumstances:

David the sheepherder would have grown up to become King Saul II, except that God cut away the Saul inside David’s heart. That operation, took years and was a brutalizing experience that almost killed the patient. And what were the scalpel and tongs God used to remove that inner Saul from David’s heart?  God used the outer Saul.
King Saul sought to destroy David, but his only success was that he became the instrument of God to put to death the Saul who roamed about in the caverns of David’s own soul.

Edwards goes on to say:

God is looking at the King Saul in you.
“In me?!”
Yes, Saul is in your bloodstream, in the marrow of your bones. He makes up the very flesh and muscle of your heart. He is mixed into your soul. He inhabits the nuclei of your atoms. King Saul is one with you. You are King Saul! He breathes in the lungs and beats in the breast of all of us. There is only one way to get rid of him: he must be annihilated.

You don’t get to choose your circumstances, but you do get to choose how you respond.  When life gives you lemons… may God help us to respond well!

David and Jonathan: Man Love

Tomorrow at White Fields I will be teaching 1 Samuel 18 – which begins with David and Jonathan’s friendship. The text says that the soul of Jonathan was knit to the soul of David, and Jonathan loved him as his own soul (18:1).

This epic friendship between Jonathan and David includes Jonathan giving up his right to the throne in order to allow David to take the place given to him by God. Later on Jonathan helps protect David from Jonathan’s father, King Saul, who is determined to kill David.

After Jonathan’s death at the end of 1 Samuel, 2 Samuel begins with David’s mourning over the loss of his friend, which includes this statement: “I grieve for you, Jonathan my brother; you were very dear to me. Your love for me was wonderful, more wonderful than that of women.” (2 Samuel 1:26).

This statement of David’s has led some to believe that David and Jonathan were more than just friends, that they were actually lovers.

The word “love” in the Greek Septuagint is the word “agape” – as opposed to “eros” (erotic, sensual love) – so it is quite clear that David is not talking about “making love” with Jonathan, but about a deep bond between these two men which was deeper, richer and more profound than any romantic relationship.

And therein is an important point that is being made in the text here: that the deepest bonds between people are not based on physical intimacy, but on sharing the same heart and desires and by being in the trenches together through hard times and good – such an important principle to keep in mind in regard to marriage as well. Marriage can’t only be built on a physical romantic relationship – it has to be built on a spiritual bond and a friendship as well. This is part of the reason why the Bible tells Christians not to be unequally yoked: because the spiritual bond, the same heart for God is an important building block for a solid marriage relationship.

 

 

Already…But Not Yet

On Sunday mornings at White Fields I have been teaching through 1 Samuel; this past Sunday I taught the second half of chapter 16, in which David has already been anointed king of Israel, but it will be another 15-20 years of hardship before David will sit on the throne of Israel as king.

David is king already, but not yet.

And this phrase, “already, but not yet” sums up so much of the Christian life. In Christ we are justified, glorified, made holy, seated with Christ in the heavenly places – already! But not yet.

Yesterday a great lady woman from church sent me this poem she wrote, inspired by Sunday’s message:

Sometimes life just seems to drag on
And sometimes we grow weary of the wait 
We want it all, we want it now
We shout out in whispered pleas 
Begging for speed, hurry please
But He answers not yet, He asks us to wait
Discouraged and let down we struggle on 
Don’t struggle on 
Don’t falter when you can run 
Don’t struggle when you have won
He has already won
It’s already done
We are waiting for an end that is already won
So hold on
Hold on to His promises 
Hold onto His love 
Hold onto the Hope that it’s already ready
It’s already done
But not yet

– Ryane Salazar