Today’s Text and Thought of Encouragement:
“Everyone has sinned and is far away from God’s saving presence. But by the free gift of God’s grace all are put right with Him through Christ Jesus, who sets them free.”
Romans 3:23, 24
Good News - New Testament
“How God treats sinners who know Him.”
“…Fill your horn with oil: I will send you to Jesse the Bethlehemite. For I have provided for Myself a king among his sons…then (Samuel) said to Jesse, ‘Are all your sons here?’ Jesse said, ‘There is yet the youngest; he is tending the sheep.’ Samuel, said to Jesse, ‘Send for him…and the Lord said to Samuel, ‘Arise, anoint him; this is he.’”
I Samuel 16: 1, 11, 12
“See that your chief study be about your heart, that there God’s image may be planted, and his interest advanced, and the interest of the world and flesh subdued, and the love of every sin cast out, and the love of holiness succeed.”
“Samuel took one look at Eliab and thought, ‘Here he is! God’s anointed!’ But God told Samuel, ‘Looks aren’t everything. Don’t be impressed with his looks and stature. I’ve already eliminated him. God judges persons differently than humans do. Men and women look at a face; God looks into the heart.’”
I Samuel 16: 6-7
The Message Bible
Yesterday we became better acquainted with Rahab the harlot. A person who from outward appearance was a desperate sinner. A foreigner, outside the family of God. Yet, through the gracious love of our marvelous Heavenly Father, this outcast was embraced into God’s family, even becoming a member of the “family tree” that produced Jesus – the Messiah – the Saviour of the world. Our lesson yesterday focused on how God treats sinners who don’t know Him. And we learned that “judging” is to be left to our perfect Heavenly Father, not to flawed humans who often judge harshly the faults in others because we really hate those same or even worse faults in ourselves.
Today, we will expand our study to include sinners who know God; or at least claim they know Him. We call these people Christians. Most likely many of us fall into this category. But just because I say I am a “Christian” doesn’t mean I’m perfect. Believe me, all you have to do is spend a day with me and before you know it, you’d see me flubbing up big-time. However, I love the way John Newton described the work God does in the lives of those who choose to take the name of Christ: “I am not what I ought to be. I am not what I wish to be. I am not even what I hope to be. But by the cross of Christ, I am not what I was.” These words should not only inspire our hearts but serve to guide us in our treatment of others as well. God’s microscope doesn’t focus on our outside – He looks at the inside – a place we as humans can’t see or judge.
This is the lesson we will learn today as we study about the way God deals with His children, those who are “called by His name,” and yet fall into the trap of sin.
Our text from I Samuel 16 opens the door to a story about one of the most fascinating individuals whose life was ever laid out for us in all its favor and folly in the Bible. If ever God let a person’s autobiography show the good, bad, and ugly – even evil – it is the story of David. A shepherd, warrior, King andlover, philanderer, murderer and redeemed sinner! Praise God for the final outcome!
When we meet David as a young boy, he was out in the field taking care of the family’s flock of sheep. He was a young lad living in pastoral surroundings with the sky as a roof and the grass as a bed. Who knows, it may have been on one of these beautiful days outside when David composed the 23rdPsalm. As he looked around and thought about the God of his father he sang, “The Lord is myShepherd, I shall not want.” Make no mistake, David wasn’t some weak child who couldn’t take care of himself or the flock under this care. For when a bear and a lion attacked the sheep, David made quick work of these beasts. In fact, I Samuel 16: 12 says, “David had a healthy reddish complexion and beautiful eyes, and was fine-looking.” And later, some of King Saul’s servants described David as, “a valiant man, a man of war, prudent in speech and eloquent, an attractive person; and the Lord is with him” (I Samuel 16: 18, Amplified).
Let’s just say David turned heads. He was a manly man who was loved by the women, too.
What’s most important to note about David though, is that at an early age, God chose him – God put His hand on David and Samuel anointed him to be King of Israel. David wasn’t man’s choice – He was God’s chosen person. God looked on the inside and loved what He saw. The Bible records that God said David was a man who walked “before me in integrity of heart and uprightness, doing according to all that I have commanded” (I Kings 9: 4, Amplified). God chose David. God placed His hand on David. God anointed David. And we see God’s presence with David as he killed Goliath, subdued the Philistine army, reigned as a King of Valor and most important when David brought the Ark of the Covenant home to Israel. From strength to strength David ruled. And we see over and over again in the Old Testament, in reference to David, that he, “inquired of the Lord;” “did as God commanded;” “blessed the Lord;” and “praised God’s name.”
After reigning with God’s blessing, ruling with God’s power, leading with God’s strength – David, the man who knew and loved God fell from his lofty throne. Big time!! When he was at home relaxing, while his troops were on the field of battle, David’s passion got the best of him. A beautiful, woman and a powerful King with time on his hands fueled a huge temptation. So David did something because he thought he could do it and get away with it. However, as God’s children, all of us sinners, should be made aware, the Bible doesn’t lie when it says that our hearts, “are desperately wicked.” We all have the potential to pull a “David.” Oh, I know I’d like to think I couldn’t murder someone in order to get what I wanted but then David never thought he could fall so low, either! What’s more, I guess David thought for a while that he was smart enough and clever enough to get by with his evil behavior. However, it’s hard to hide a pregnant woman. Especially when her husband’s been away from home for the entire nine months she is “with child.” Before you know it, there are whispers, then a dead husband, then a new king’s wife. Oh, what a tangled web we weave – and that’s what David did. But one day, God’s prophet Nathan came to visit. The chickens had come home to roost. And what was hidden was revealed! David in great sorrow and contrition confessed and repented of his terrible behavior. But what is so important is that David recognized what all of us need to see clearly. He needed more than a change in behavior, he needed a new heart – he needed God’s heart. As John Flavel encourages, “Oh, study your hearts, watch your hearts, keep your hearts.”
Psalm 51 is the prayer of David’s confession asking and pleading for God to create in him a clean heart. And this is just what God does for every sinner who knows God, yet falls short of the plan and purpose God has for their lives. When we ask, God does not withhold any good gift from His children who long to walk uprightly and with purity before Him. How does God treat sinners who know Him yet fall flat? He accepts us. He embraces us. He forgives us. But best of all, He gives us a new heart – a heart like His. “I want O, God, a heart that’s pure and clean. A Son lite heart with not a cloud between. A heart divine, a heart like Thine, a heart that’s pure and true. In me, O, God, a heart like this bestow.”
“Do your utmost to guard your heart, for out of it comes life.”
“What can I give Him,
Poor as I am?
If I were a shepherd,
I would bring a lamb,
If I were a Wise Man,
I would do my part –
Yet what can I give Him?
Give my heart.”
“Create in me a pure heart, God.
Make my spirit right again.
Do not send me away from you…
…give me back the joy
That comes when You save me.”
Psalm 51: 10-12
Dorothy Valcárcel, Author
When A Woman Meets Jesus
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