BEST DECISION EVER: THE ERRAND

In the course of a twenty-four hour period we make gobs of decisions. Some of these we make with a serious amount of forethought and prayer. Others we make spontaneously with little or no thought as to the consequences or impact our decisions will have—not only for ourselves, but for the many others whose lives are intertwined with ours.

Have you ever thought much about how a single decision can change your life forever? For better or worse?

In these blog posts I’d like to look at the one good decision that some people in the Bible made that changed the course of their life for the better. By looking at ourselves in the mirror of God’s Word I hope we’ll all take comfort, courage, and hope in the fact that, despite the mess we’re presently faced with, we can still turn things around. A lousy past or dismal present doesn’t have to give us the same future. By God’s grace, our future and life can be changed for the better…if we only make the right decision today. May God help us do that on a daily basis!

THE ERRAND

I’m a father of young adults. I’m a grandpa. And I’m a Christian. The heart and prayer of a father for his children is that they turn out alright in life, make the right choices, be healthy, keep safe, have a good life, and most of all, give their life to Jesus. Life will eventually disrupt the family. Once the kids leave home the family will never again be the same. Life will separate the family by miles. And death will eventually rob us of the loved ones we hold most dear in life. Jesus alone holds the key to an eternal family reunion in Heaven. And that’s why I pray fervently that my children will love the Lord as I do, even more, and serve Him faithfully to the end of days. Having given you a father’s perspective on his children, let me put this train of thought on hold and let’s take a whirlwind tour of David’s life.

We’re all familiar with the story of David. He bursts on the scene in the Valley of Elah where he kills Goliath and leads the once fearful, demoralized Israelite army to victory in the ensuing battle against the Philistines (1 Samuel 17). From this point on, David is pretty much stuck by the King’s side: King Saul isn’t letting go of this young warrior and hero. He promotes him to General of the Army and David’s valor and victories in war become the stuff of legend. David’s so successful that King Saul gets really jealous of him and tries to kill him on many occasions. One of the King’s murderous plans, however, backfires on him and, as promised, the King gives David one of his daughters to marry as a reward for a successful expedition against the Philistines. So now, David is a member of royalty and that, as you can imagine, really infuriated the jealously-demented King.

Well, David was a good man and there was no way he was going to lift sword or spear against his King. So he goes on the lam and for the next several years he lives in exile in, of all places, the land of his enemy the Philistines (1 Samuel 19-30).

King Saul gets killed in battle against the Philistines (1 Samuel 31). David returns to his homeland of Judah. And there he is crowned King by his tribe (2 Samuel 2). He’s King for 7½ years in Judah.

During this time, in the aftermath of Saul’s death, his son Ishbosheth becomes King of Israel (2 Samuel 2). Ishbosheth reigns as Israel’s King for 7½ years. He eventually gets assassinated and that’s when all Israel came together and asked David to become their next King (2 Samuel 4-5). So altogether, David is King for 40 years. Under his military prowess he enlarges Israel’s Kingdom to its greatest extent ever. His enemies fear him. And Israel is established as a regional superpower.

All this began in the Valley of Elah when David pretty much came out of obscurity and dumbfounded the cowardly Israelite army. He made quick work of beheading the giant, then just as deftly and decisively, he went on to rout the Philistines in battle. In the Valley he emerged as a national hero. Became General. Then son-in-law of the King. Eventually King. And master of a regional superpower. Imagine all the good things that happened to David and all Israel just because he came to the Valley of Elah! If David had not come to the Valley, the course of history would have been drastically different! We would not be amiss at all in saying that the course, future, and destiny of the nation of Israel were forever altered when David showed up in the Valley of Elah!

Friends, do you know how David found himself in the Valley of Elah? What brought him to Elah? Well, David was a young shepherd boy living in Bethlehem with his family. He was tending his father’s flocks of sheep when, one day, his dad sent him on an errand. 1 Samuel 17:17-19 tells the story of how it went.  One day, Jesse told David, “Hurry and take this sack of roasted grain and these ten loaves of bread to your brothers at the army camp.  (18)  And here are ten large chunks of cheese to take to their commanding officer. Find out how your brothers are doing and bring back something that shows that they’re all right.  (19)  They’re with Saul’s army, fighting the Philistines in Elah Valley.”

Dad Jesse was getting worried about his sons. They were in the army. And, being the soldiers that they were, dad was all the time worried about them. He had every right to be. The Philistines were the most feared army in the world at this time and, realistically speaking, the Israelites weren’t much of a match against them. Pictures of death and defeat are probably racing through Jesse’s mind. Are my sons alive? Did they get killed in battle? Are they coming back home safe and sound? So, being the worried father that he was, Jesse sent his son David to Elah to see how his sons were doing. You’d be totally right to say that Jesse was checking up on his sons. Unbeknownst to him, Jesse sending David to Elah would change David’s life forever and alter the course of Israelite history. A worried father’s decision to send David on a domestic errand turned out to be his best decision ever!

As a mother or father, we make all kinds of decisions that impact and affect our kids for life. It’s not always the big decisions that affect them the most. Sometimes, it’s the smallest decision we make—like sending them on an errand—that starts a chain reaction that will change their lives forever. So, parents, pray for your kids. Pray about the decisions you make. With God’s guidance and help, like Jesse, you can make the best decision ever! God bless you with Jesse’s care and success!

FIGHTING OUR GOLIATHS PART 4

INTRODUCTION

We’re looking at the story of David and Goliath. God, through the story, wants to encourage our heart with the fact that we can fight our Goliaths and win! Now most of us would rather not face or fight a Goliath. But there are just some things that we have no say in; there are some things that we have no control over. God’s in charge. And even though He knows we don’t want to ever meet up with a Goliath, He nevertheless brings a Goliath our way and He expects us to fight him and beat him.

In our last post, we looked at the fearful Israelite army. God showed us how we can conquer our fears, get out of the foxhole, and fight.

Today, we want to look at David. Unlike the fearful Israelites, David was prepared, ready, and willing to fight Goliath. God wants to encourage our hearts with the fact that we can beat our Goliaths. But before we even meet up with him, we need to cultivate a habit of courage and faith.

DAVID VOLUNTEERED TO FIGHT

1 Samuel 17:12-13,  Now David was the son of that Ephrathite of Bethlehemjudah, whose name was Jesse; and he had eight sons: and the man went among men for an old man in the days of Saul.  (13)  And the three eldest sons of Jesse went and followed Saul to the battle: and the names of his three sons that went to the battle were Eliab the firstborn, and next unto him Abinadab, and the third Shammah.

1 Samuel 17:17-22,  And Jesse said unto David his son, Take now for thy brethren an ephah of this parched corn, [that’s about ¾ bushel of grain—most likely either wheat or barley that was dried, or roasted, in an oven; the Israelites did not grow corn] and these ten loaves, and run to the camp to thy brethren;  (18)  And carry these ten cheeses unto the captain of their thousand, and look how thy brethren fare, and take their pledge. [A pledge was a token or proof that Jesse’s sons were alive & well. Usually, the pledge would be a lock of hair or a piece of their clothing.]

(19)  Now Saul, and they, and all the men of Israel, were in the valley of Elah, fighting with the Philistines.  (20)  And David rose up early in the morning, and left the sheep with a keeper, and took, and went, as Jesse had commanded him; and he came to the trench, as the host was going forth to the fight, and shouted for the battle.  (21)  For Israel and the Philistines had put the battle in array, army against army.  (22)  And David left his carriage in the hand of the keeper of the carriage, and ran into the army, and came and saluted his brethren.

As David was talking with his brothers, Goliath came out and gave the same speech that he’d been giving for the last forty days: he wanted the Israelites to send out a man to fight him. To make a long story short, David volunteered to fight him!

1 Samuel 17:31,  And when the words were heard which David spake, they rehearsed them before Saul: and he sent for him. Now I’d like for you to notice David’s first words to the King. Verse 32,  And David said to Saul, Let no man’s heart fail because of him; thy servant will go and fight with this  Philistine. For forty days, neither the King nor any of his generals, colonels, sergeants, or soldiers, volunteered for the fight. They were all plumb scared to fight Goliath. Along comes David and the very first thing he does is, he volunteers to fight! He’s not scared! He wants to fight Goliath!

Well, you would think that the King would be relieved that he’d finally find someone who was willing to fight the giant. But the King wasn’t convinced that that was a good idea because David was just a scrawny teenager. Besides that, he wasn’t a soldier, he didn’t know how to fight, he’d only get himself killed if the King sent him out there into the Valley. 

1  Samuel 17:33,   And  Saul  said  to  David, Thou art not able to go against this Philistine to fight with him: for thou art but a youth, and he a man of war from his youth. [Youth in the Hebrew refers to a teenager; someone who wasn’t an adult. Most scholars agree that David, at this time, wasn’t 20 years old. Many believe he was around 17 years old.]

If David was just bluffing and full of hot air, here was his chance to get out of fighting the giant. But David isn’t bluffing. He wants to fight. So he gives the King some background history about himself that might persuade the King to change his mind and let him fight.

1 Samuel 17:34-37,  And David said unto Saul, Thy servant kept his father’s sheep, and there came a lion, and a bear, and took a lamb out of the flock:  (35)  And I went out after him, and smote him, and delivered it out of his mouth: and when he arose against me, I caught him by his beard, and smote him, and slew him.  (36)  Thy servant slew both the lion and the bear: [Notice David’s faith and courage here: he is so absolutely sure and convinced that] this uncircumcised Philistine shall be as one of them, seeing he hath defied the armies of the living God. (37b)  David said moreover, The Lord that delivered me out of the paw of the lion, and out of the paw of the bear, he will deliver me out of the hand of this Philistine.

DAVID BROUGHT GOD INTO THE VALLEY AND, WITH GOD BY HIS SIDE, DAVID KNEW HOW THE FIGHT WOULD END! That, dear friends, is confidence! Not self-confidence, but confidence in God. THAT’S WHAT FAITH IS. FAITH IS PLACING YOUR CONFIDENCE IN GOD.

DAVID WAS READY AND PREPARED TO FIGHT

Now the thing that I want you to notice is, when David went into the Valley of Elah he went there with faith already in his heart. He didn’t have to stop and muster it up. He didn’t have to tarry and pray. He didn’t have to wrestle with fear or doubt. He didn’t have to stop and ask God to help him get rid of his fears or doubts.  When David went into the Valley faith was already in his heart and, because of it, he was ready to fight.

Brethren, do you know why faith was already in his heart?  Because  DAVID MADE IT A POINT TO KEEP FAITH IN HIS HEART AT ALL TIMES. HE MADE IT A HABIT TO FIGHT LIFE’S BATTLES. AND WIN THEM! HE DIDN’T CULTIVATE A HABIT OF FEAR AND ESCAPE, BUT RATHER, A HABIT OF COURAGE AND FAITH.

David acquired the habit of fighting and faith—not as a soldier, but as a shepherd. The life of a shepherd was no gravy job. The job had its own fair share of trials. Unbeknownst  to David at  the  time, his day to day trials as a sheep herder prepared him for this battle with Goliath.

Now back in those days, grass for the sheep was not grown, cut, dried, and stored in barns, much the way farmers of today would grow hay in the fields, then cut, dry, and store them so that the livestock would have a steady, continual supply of hay throughout the year. Shepherds brought their flocks to wherever the pasture and water were. A lot of times, it would take days to get to a field of grass or days to get to a river or well. So David was accustomed to spending large amounts of time on the road, in the fields, taking care of the sheep. Day  and  night, he  kept watch over the flock—making sure that brigands didn’t steal the sheep. He had to fend off wild beasts from devouring and decimating the flock.

On two particular occasions, David had a tussle with a lion and bear. We read about it in verses 34-35. And David said unto Saul, Thy servant kept his father’s sheep, and there came a lion, and a bear, and took a lamb out of the flock: {35} And I went out after him, and smote him,  and  delivered  it  out of his mouth: and when he arose against me, I caught him by his beard, and smote him, and slew him

It  would  be  erroneous  for us to think that these tussles with the lion and bear were the only fights David had out in the field. There were other wild beasts to contend with. Smaller perhaps. And not as threatening as a lion or bear. But the point is, DAVID HAD HIS FIGHTS. AND HE FOUGHT THEM.

Coming Up On My Next Blog, Part 5. Cultivating a habit of courage and faith.