Numbers 23-25

Mark 7:14-37

“Saul was very angry; this refrain displeased him greatly… What more can [David] get but the kingdom? And from that time on Saul kept a close eye on David.” —1 Samuel 18:8-9

What happens when a man who knows he should trust God and does not, and another man—especially a younger one—comes along, who does trust God, and accomplishes the task? David killed Goliath with the first shot fired from his sling. The stone penetrated his forehead and he died instantly. Spurred on by that victory, the men of Israel shouted and charged after the Philistines, triumphing over them. The women came out from all the towns to meet King Saul, who was entrusted with this task, dancing and singing, “Saul has slain his thousands, and David his tens of thousands” (1 Samuel 18:6-7).

David was the celebrated hero, but the tables turned abruptly on him. After hearing the women’s refrain, the NASB says, “Saul eyed David with suspicion from that day on.” The NLT says, “Saul kept a jealous eye on David.” David had trusted God and received the victory, and Saul hated him for it. Much of Saul’s time, energy, money and manpower were spent in hunting David down to kill him.

Saul may not have understood why he felt so angry and jealous towards David. Paul writes, “The flesh desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the flesh” (Galatians 5:17). In our human prowess, the flesh dislikes dependence on the Spirit, and particularly the Spirit’s active presence in the lives of those who are trusting God. Our sinful natures have expectations of being self-sufficient and accomplished, which expresses a need to be recognized. In Saul’s mind, David had robbed him of this, and his anger grew to a bitter seed of envy and hatred.

David spent the remaining years of Saul’s life as a fugitive on the run. For more than a decade, hiding out in caves and hillsides, he was joined by a band of misfits and became their leader. During this period, he wrote many of the Psalms that are of great inspiration for us today. Critically wounded, Saul died by his own hand in the battle of Gilboa. David took the throne of Israel and was known as “a man after [God’s] own heart” (1 Samuel 13:14).

When on God’s agenda, we can anticipate not everyone will like it, much less applaud it, especially those who know better. They are usually the ones who will be our biggest antagonists. We should expect this, but not take it personally, as it is more of an affront against God than it is against us. Keep living by the Spirit and we will experience what David wrote: “My shield is God Most High, who saves the upright in heart” (Psalm 7:10).

Beautiful Lord, keep me living by the Spirit, and grant me Your strength and forbearance in coping with any opposition that I may have in the work You call me to do. Thank You, Lord.

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