July 25, 2011 Devotion Sharing

Submitted by Bryan Song, Gracepoint Austin

1 Samuel 20:14-17
What does Jonathan’s request to David in this passage reveal about what he believed about David’s future?  How would this have strengthened David at this point in his life? Jonathan requested that David show unfailing kindness to his family even after the Lord had cut off all of David’s enemies from the face of the earth.  This request shows that Jonathan truly believed that David would become king, despite the bleak circumstances.  This request would’ve undoubtedly strengthened David at this low point.  David was running for his life, fleeing from Saul, who by this time had already sought to kill him.  At this point in time, David would’ve been filled with great fear and anxiety, but upon hearing Jonathan’s request, David would’ve drawn strength.  To hear from Jonathan such promising, encouraging words about his future kingship would’ve given him the hope in the midst of his dire situation. David would’ve been strengthened to persevere through this trying time, these days of fleeing for his life.

Reflect back on Jonathan’s relationship with David.  What kind of person is Jonathan relationally, and what kind of person am I relationally?  In what ways can I learn to take more initiative in my relationships and become a source of encouragement and vision for my friends? Jonathan was relationally very loving and selfless.  Starting from chapter 19, it says that Jonathan was very fond of David, and his actions showed it.  Not only was he just fond of David, it was clear that Jonathan loved David dearly, even more so than himself. Jonathan sought to mediate between Saul and David, speaking  well of David to his father Saul, even getting his father to take an oath that he would not take his David’s life.  By doing all this, Jonathan risked his own life.

And in David’s most trying hours, Jonathan was there for young David, advising him, encouraging him with promising visions of his future kingship.  And Jonathan became this pillar of trust for David, assuring him that he would tell him of any harm that his father intended to bring upon him.  In this way, Jonathan would’ve found such comfort and trust in his relationship with Jonathan.  And we see evidence of David’s trust in Jonathan in v.1, where David flees from Naioth at Ramah and actually goes to Jonathan, seeks him out.

Jonathans’ loving and embracing  character really challenge me.  I’m naturally  not like Jonathan, an encourager who goes out of my way to comfort and strengthen others through my words and presence. The reason for this is because I’m naturally self-preserving with my emotions, thoughts, even time and resources.  It’s natural for me to be concerned primarily about my own needs and concerns, wrapped up in my own agenda, rather than those of others, because this is the power of sin in my life. At times, I don’t have the capacity to make others concerns and needs my own because I’m too wrapped up in the things I need to do.  At other times,  I’m just simply oblivious and unaware of others’ needs, assuming everything is going okay with others.

One of the ways I can take more initiative in my relationships is to become a person who regularly asks and converses about how others are doing, rather than just assuming everything is going well.  Just assuming everything is going well is merely a mask of laziness and selfishness.  By taking initiative to connect to others and reach out, I’ll then be able to first of all know what’s going on in the lives of the people God has placed in my life, and be able to connect with them at a deeper level, rather than just having superficial talk.

Another thing I can do is express encouragement and concern through concrete words as Jonathan did for David.  I’m not good at this, and a big part of this is because I’m simply not practiced at doing it. I didn’t grow up encouraging or having greater vision for others, let alone expressing it through words. I grew up encouraging myself quite frankly, having visions for my own little life.  So some concrete things I can do to encourage my friends is to encourage them through an email, a card, even a text message.  I have been the recipient of this kind of encouragement, and I recall how these sentiments of concern, thoughtfulness, and love really lifted my spirits and encouraged me.

1 Samuel 20:31-42
Reflect once again on Jonathan’s character in light of what Saul says (accurately) in v. 31.  What must have been Jonathan’s view of God, history and himself?  How does this compare with how I view these issues? Saul tells his son Jonathan that as long as David, this son of Jesse lives, that Jonathan and his kingdom would never be established. And to this, Jonathan immediately responds by inquiring why Saul wants to put David to death.  Jonathan’s response shows the different wavelengths at which Jonathan and Saul were thinking, and thus their differing values.  Saul was preoccupied about the family line, about having his son Jonathan become heir to the throne, preserving power.  And David was a threat his power.  Jonathan was not thinking about that at all, about the kingship he would be relinquishing, but rather concerned  over David.  Jonathan had already in his heart fully surrendered the king’s throne to young David. This was possible because Jonathan was tapped into the greater narrative God had for history, and he fully submitted and supported it.  Even though David’s rise meant personal diminishment to Jonathan, Jonathan didn’t feel slighted or cheated by any means because for him what truly mattered was that God’s will be done.  Jonathan had such a humble view of himself, not seeing himself seriously, or as a necessary component in Gods plan.

As I think about my view of God and history and myself, I am challenged to become more like Jonathan – completely emptied out of my own desires and ambitions, and filled and focused on God’s desires.  His desire for me is to be a servant, to be a shepherd, totally selfless in all that I am and do.  And as I’ve been learning more deeply about the heart of a shepherd, this is indeed a challenge because in order for me to be like Jonathan, I have to become a person filled with love.  How will this happen?  For Jonathan, it came from a very real understanding that he was merely one part of God’s greater narrative.  Jonathan was surrendered to the Sovereign plan of God, so much so that he was able to play the supporting role to David.

The question then is…am I willing to play the servant role?  Am I willing to play the background part, yielding the positions of “kingship” which are more prominent?  This is the life of servanthood, the life that I’ve been learning about through the Sunday message series through Philippians.  Essentially, it is the life of Jesus Christ, whose attitude I have been called to embody.  I need to really die to my ego and all ambitions to bolster my pride, and surrender unto God this life to be used at his discretion. I need to submit to God’s Sovereign plan for not just my life, but to His greater salvation plan of which I have been thus far privileged to be a part of.  With the new school year about to get underway and talks about New Student Welcome Night already ramping up, I’m reminded of the great privilege I’m given year after year to serve a new class of freshman.  There will be the temptation to be like Saul, worried about my own little world.  Especially as I lead a homegroup within the college ministry, Satan will tempt me to become insecure and anxious about how my  homegroup is doing, about how many people are coming, and so on.  But that is the small, puny world of Saul-like thinking, concerned about just my family lineage.  I must remember to regularly take a step back and see all that God is doing in our church as a whole, and submit to His Sovereign plan. This is not an excuse to be neglectful of the role God has given me, but it is important that I not see through my own little lens which focuses on myself selfish wants and desires.

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Submitted by Rebecca Fong, Gracepoint Berkeley

1 Samuel 20:31-42
Reflect once again on Jonathan’s character in light of what Saul says (accurately) in v. 31.  What must have been Jonathan’s view of God, history and himself?  How does this compare with how I view these issues?
Saul spoke words of truth when he said as long as David is alive, Jonathan and his kingdom would never be established.  But this did not bother Jonathan at all or keep him from whole-heartedly supporting David and loving him as himself.  Jonathan must have viewed God as the greatest authority, his great Lord and Master, who he would submit to, no matter God’s choice of king, no matter what station God chose to give to him.  He was content with it, and fully embraced God’s choice of king and loved David as himself.  Jonathan must have seen himself as only a small piece in God’s greater scheme, the greater plan of God and all history, that life was not about himself and his honor and power, but about God’s plans and visions.  Jonathan was so humble before God and just wanted to further God’s choice of making history.
While intellectually I agree with Jonathan’s views of these issues, especially of God’s sovereignty and entitlement to His choice of how to work things out, emotionally I betray myself in how I am still about my own agenda so much.  I still place too much significance on myself, how I am, making too much of myself.  I am still discontent and striving and anxious about myself, greedy to be more than I am, self-driven because of my own agenda.  Jonathan did not complain or kick against the reality that God chose David over him for the kingship, but wholeheartedly supported God’s choice, loving David as himself. I complain and kick against the reality of God’s choice and design of us when I get hung up in self-pity or get jealous or insecure about how I am, how I should be, how I fail in so many ways, how others are more mature, spiritual, effective, together, etc.  I have such a narrow view of history as centered on me instead of on God and His honor, that I view most of life through this lens, as how it impacts me personally, how I feel, how I end up looking/being.  I also do not have this automatic fully submitting, humble attitude of Jonathan towards God in how I have the nerve to complain, to be resentful even, to feel sorry for myself, to feel helpless, and to be self-absorbed re. my own little sorry self instead of just humbling myself and submitting to reality, to accepting how I am and caring more about God and what He is doing in history than about myself and how I feel/look/am.  I get a taste of this proper perspective of God and myself and history when I hear about how God is at work in people, in brothers and sisters in our different ministries, and find such joy and awe at how He works and people being saved and transformed.  This is the perspective I need to come back to again and again, that God is at work creating history, and it is not about me but about His zeal and plan and honor, and what joy and excitement and undeserved privilege it is for me to a part of this in any way.
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