August 1, 2011 Devotion Sharing

Submitted by Jacob Chang, Gracepoint Berkeley

1 Samuel 23:1-12

Given his men’s initial response and Saul’s statement “David has imprisoned himself by entering a town with gates and bars,” what must have been the military advisability of rescuing Keilah from the Philistines? Rescuing Keilah was probably not a good idea from a military perspective.  David and his men were on the run from Saul, and aggravating the Philistines would add another group to the list of people who wanted to kill them.  The men are already afraid and they clearly don’t want to go to Keilah.  Saul rejoices when he hears that David has entered Keilah, because Saul’s problem from the beginning was trying to pin David down.  But if David entered Keilah, Saul could bring his army, besiege Keilah, and trap David in the town.

What is remarkable about David’s concern for Keilah? It’s remarkable that David would even think about rescuing Keilah.  He was on the run from Saul, and he only had 600 men with him. The Philistines probably had a lot more men, and even if David felt confident about winning the battle at Keilah, he had to be worried about future reprisals from the Philistines.  Then, it would be more difficult to hide among the Philistines from Saul, taking away more of David’s options.  And it’s not just about David, but also the men following him.  If he led his men to Keilah and they got trapped, Saul would probably kill all of them like the priests of Nob.  All these concerns (and more) must have gone through David’s mind when he heard that the Philistines were raiding Keilah, but he had the capacity to say, “Maybe I should do something.”  David had a lot of reasons to ignore what was happening at Keilah, to take it as another piece of bad news.  After all, what connection did he have with Keilah?  But I imagine David was stirred by the thought of the Philistines attacking his people, looting the threshing floors and stealing the food that the poor people of Keilah had worked for.  And David, with his 600 men, had the crazy idea that he might be able to do something, so he asked God about it. That’s why David is called a man after God’s own heart – he sees the plight of others, he is concerned about it, and he offers what he has.  He is willing to risk everything for the sake of helping others who can’t do anything for him. That’s God’s heart for people, and from David’s inquiry and obedience to God, it’s clear that David shares God’s heart.

What can I learn from the fact that God asks David to go and rescue Keilah even while David is on the run?  Are there some ways in which I excuse myself from doing the work of God because I am currently in the midst of other pressing things? I think God is looking for people who share his heart and concern for others.  It’s not about what I can offer, but whether or not I am willing to set aside my agenda and be available for God to use.  After all, God assures David that he will be victorious at Keilah, so it’s not a matter of whether David can defeat the Philistines.  But prior to that assurance, David takes the initiative to ask God about Keilah, and I imagine God must have been delighted to hear this question from David.  This is the type of king God wants for his people, and I think God wants David to experience being used to be a source of blessing to others.  That’s God’s heart for me as well.  When I have a lot going on, whether it’s stress from work, marriage, my son, my immediate family, or all of the above, my instinct is to hoard whatever resources I have and shut my heart towards being concerned for others.  I tell myself that I don’t have the capacity to be worried about others, that I have to take care of myself first, and I rationalize my inaction by saying I don’t know what I could do to help.  But again, God is looking for willingness to be used by him, so I don’t have an excuse.

Submitted by Grace Kim, Gracepoint Berkeley

What can I learn from the fact that God asks David to go and rescue Keilah even while David is on the run? I can learn that we are still in the position to help others even as we are personally going through things and they seen to be pressing. I myself have done this as well as others, where I am going through some struggle and I feel like I cannot and should not do anything to help others. Or I get so preoccupied with things that I have to do.

Are there some ways in which I excuse myself from doing the work of God because I am currently in the midst of other pressing things? There are many ways in which I can participate in the work of God even in the midst of my personal struggles. Right now, I have an ailing mother who is just coming out of the critical stage, I gave birth less than a week ago & trying to recover as I take care of my newborn at home. I can excuse myself from continuing to be aware of what is going on around me, with my friends, ministry, and church, but I see that God wants me to not be inwardly bent, but to continue to participate in the work of God in ways that I can. Concretely, I can daily pray for the Mexico mission trip, as well as all the other things that are going on around me. There are just endless list of things that I can pray for, and I can fill my anxieties about the uncertainty of the future with that of prayers. There are MS & HS camps coming up, all the interhigh churches that we are pushing for this, different people that are struggling, for pastor Ed & Kelly, as well as for all of us as we are gearing up for domestic mission trips & for the fall semester. Seeing my mom go through yet another critical stage, I was reminded that the greatest need man has is to have a vibrant & living relationship with God. There is no one in this world that can possibly fill the place that God needs to have in our lives, and this is made crystal clear as I face helpless situations and currently with my mom’s condition. And I see that I need to continue to participate in ways that I can so that  more and more people’s relationship with God to be bridged.
What biblical definition of encouragement can I find in this text? The biblical definition of encouragement found in this text is that of helping another find strength in God.

Why is pointing people to God the best way to encourage them? Pointing people to God is the best way to encourage them because God is the ultimate encourager and in him nothing is impossible; he can handle all things that you can possibly bring to him – from sin issues, personal circumstances, etc. God can encourage you like no one else can. I have seen my mom get encouraged by God time after time again, as she has been battling cancer. Through the ups and downs, the good news and the bad news, God has been sustaining her and encouraging her through his word like no other human being can.

Who has God used to help me find strength in God? We have found strength in God through the many concrete actions of care & love that the church members have provided for my family and through their prayers. Different people have come by to pray with me, to bring over food, asking me what I need & would like, texting & emailing us that they are really praying for us. As I have also come to acknowledge the difficult circumstance that we are in, with my mom still being treated daily at the hospital, I found encouragement through people praying with us and for us. These are prayers that are not simply muttered as a wishful thinking, but are directed towards a God who is living, faithful, and in whom all things are possible. Prayer is such a privilege in that I have access to God in whom is hope and comfort that no man can bring. I know that my family has been carried through my prayers and because of them, we are able to stay strong in God and not break down in despair. I am just thankful for the church that really knows how to help one find strength in God by their prayers and through their concrete acts of love.

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