August 15, 2011 Devotion Sharing

Submitted by Richard Tay, Gracepoint Berkeley

2 Samuel 1:1-10

There is a good chance that the Amalekite wasn’t telling the truth (see 1 Samuel 31:4-5), but lied, thinking that this would earn him a reward.  Think about the degree to which the Amalekite misread the values of David and the rest of the fugitives with him.  What was the Amalekite’s worldview, and what is David’s?

The Amalekite disastrously misread David and the rest of the fugitives.  I can imagine the shock on his face when he gave David the news and instead of rewarding the Amalekite, David and all his men weep and mourn for the loss of Saul and Jonathan.  It was probably a response that the Amalekite did not expect because it was so different than the normal response from the world.  The Amalekite’s view of the situation was in the simple context of friend and foe.  He thought of David’s relationship with Saul simply as enemies in the battle, and did not realize that David and his men viewed Saul and Jonathan from God’s perspective.  Saul and Jonathan were not just enemies who pursued David, they were dear friends and anointed by God to lead their people.  David viewed them apart from just his own personal perspective, but was able to zoom out and see them from the perspective of his identity as an Israelite, as one of the chosen people of God.  Because of this, he can genuinely grieve for Saul and Jonathan.

Might there be some such worldview dissonance between the ways of God and certain life strategies and assumptions that I have adopted?

There are definitely dissonances between the ways of God and the life strategies/assumptions that I have adopted.  As one who has been raised in modern, American society, I recognize the independent/autonomous life strategy I have that prizes selfish living, self-reliance and personal competence.  This effects my view of relationships and community as God designed.  Such a godless worldview causes me to achieve personal glory and independence apart from the people God has called me to love and be loved by.  God’s design for community includes higher regard for corporate and others’ needs than my own personal need.  On the other hand, the world calls me to look after myself and make sure my needs are met before even attempting to care for another person.  This kind of worldview causes me to be selfish and to think that I need to take care of all my personal needs and the needs of my family instead of seeing my life as a resource that is always available to be a blessing to other people.  When things get busy, and demands for my time and resources increase, this kind of self-preserving worldview would cause me to hold back from giving to others, and ultimately, would lead to a watered-down, ineffectual ministry.  It would also stale my relationships and kill a community that is trying to be wholly devoted to God and God’s work.  As I think about another year of ministry, I can’t allow this worldview from infecting my thoughts, chill my heart and deteriorate the community around me.  As P.Jonathan said in yesterday’s message, when times get tough, I need to stay the course and ride the storm in the boat knowing that Jesus is there.  This, in addition to understanding that God’s design is for me to live generously with the appropriate anxiety for the needs of others, gives me the courage and resources to fight back the secular worldview that I grew up and that I am surrounded by.  Thinking about this drives out the cry to ‘save yourself’ as preached by the world, and helps me to give fully to others and to build God’s church.

2 Samuel 1:17-27

If I had been in David’s shoes, what would have been the first several things on my mind upon hearing of Saul’s death? I think I would have had competing thoughts. One would be that I can finally go home and end my life as a fugitive.  The other thought would have been that of grief that Saul, my friend and mentor, died without fully reconciling with David, and perhaps, never reconciled with God.  The opportunity to fully reconcile with Saul was gone, and my heart would have really gone out to the final state of his heart. It would have made me really sad to think that this man who was anointed by God, ended his life broken and distant from God and all the people in his life.  He died a disgraceful death despite all that God wanted for him.

Saul’s death means immediate practical relief for David, and a dramatic reversal in his fortunes.  Yet, none of these seem to impress David.  What did the death of Saul mean to David, according to these verses? To David, Saul’s death meant a huge loss to him personally and to Israel.  Saul’s death is a blight on the Israelite people and ultimately dishonored God.  The one whom God appointed to represent him and his people died a disgraceful death.  Personally, David felt the loss of a dear friend and ally in Jonathan’s death and mourned the loss of Saul the leader of his people.

What can I learn from David about what it takes to transcend my narrow concerns and not always view life from purely the angle of how it affects me? David’s prayer is an example of how he viewed his life in the greater context of God’s work and God’s people.  He did not view these events from the small lens of what it meant for his life, but instead, viewed these events as how they impacted his people and God. David endured many hardships on the run and yet, his thought was not that Saul’s death meant that he could finally rest, but that he, the Israelite people and God suffered loss from Saul and Jonathan’s deaths.  Regardless of the benefit inured to him because of their deaths, his primary concern was the effect this had on others.  This shows me again that I cannot live in a selfish vacuum of my own needs and concerns.  Too often, my first response is to think about how something – someone’s need, a churchwide task, etc. – affects me immediately with regard to my resources. Instead of thinking about the cost I need to pay or to think about how someone else can fill this need, I need to be a person who thinks more about how I can fill the need on my own.  David’s response also teaches me about identifying with the community instead of zooming into my specific situation.  David’s concern was not for his own circumstances, but on the impact Saul and Jonathan’s death had on the community and its effect on the community as a whole and to God.  Although this event may have benefited him personally, he first recognized the damage this did to Israel and to God’s honor.  His personal circumstances were second priority to the needs of the community.  My mindset can be so wrapped up in my own immediate concerns that I don’t zoom out to see how my actions and inactions have an effect on the whole community.  Yet to ignore the community is selfish and ignores the greater reality of my role as part of a community of God.  From David, I can learn that although I cannot certain personal needs, I also cannot ignore the needs and the impact of the greater community of which that I am a part.

Submitted by Sarah Song, Gracepoint Austin

2 Samuel 1:1-10

There is a good chance that the Amalekite wasn’t telling the truth (see 1 Samuel 31:4-5), but lied, thinking that this would earn him a reward.  Think about the degree to which the Amalekite misread the values of David and the rest of the fugitives with him.  What was the Amalekite’s worldview, and what is David’s?The Amalekite thought that David and the rest of the fugitives with him would be glad and rejoice at the news of Saul and Jonathan’s death.  He thought David would enjoy hearing about the demise of Saul and perhaps give him a reward for bringing this news to him, that he’d be happy b/c it meant that David could take Saul’s place and become king.  For the Amalekite, his worldview was about revenge and making sure to look out for oneself, to hate those hate you and seek opportunities to advance and gain benefits for oneself even at the expense of others. His worldview revolved around “how does this benefit me?” whereas for David, his worldview was entirely different.  David’s worldview was “How does this affect God’s glory and kingdom?”  He and his men “mourned and fasted till evening for Saul, and his son Jonathan, and for the army of the Lord and the house of Israel, because they had fallen by the sword.”  Even though Saul had pursued and hated David, David felt such a sense of grief for Saul b/c regardless of what he did to David, Saul was the king of Israel, the anointed one of God, the leader of God’s people. And to hear about his death and Jonathan’s death didn’t meant that he could become king but it meant shame, humiliation, and defeat for God and his people and the loss of God’s anointed servant, the king.

Might there be some such worldview dissonance between the ways of God and certain life strategies and assumptions that I have adopted? I see that there are such worldview dissonance between the ways of God and certain life strategies and assumptions that I’ve adopted through the years. One of them is how I view worth within others and within myself.  I see that my worldview has for a long time been based upon performance and what I’m able to produce and show to others. This worldly life strategy and assumption is that I’m valuable and important if I can do a task really well, if I can juggle all of my responsibilities and duties without mistakes, and if I’m competent and able to outdo others around me.  I can become so performance-driven that I start to fear making mistakes, hate to get any sort of feedback or criticism from others, and setbacks become huge ordeals that paralyze me from moving forward and trying again in the future.  This worldly life strategy has been always to make sure I don’t appear weak, and if there’s any weakness in my life then I need to cover it up and prevent it from being exposed.  However, God’s way is completely the opposite, and I’ve had to learn and am continuing to learn that I need to throw away this performance-oriented worldview and accept God’s worldview in which I am able to embrace my weaknesses, shortcomings, failures and recognize that this is who I am because I am a sinner. The way of God is that my value comes from being God’s daughter and that I can be assured of His love for me regardless of my accomplishments or failures  through the cross and for this truth to become a bigger reality. God’s way is that actually my weaknesses are opportunities to depend on my Heavenly Father for his strength and wisdom to help me, and in the process somehow my weaknesses become testimony to God’s greatness and glory.  So, it’s ok if I’m bad at life, or I’m not a great minister, or I’m not able to be the best mom or wife, and I’m not able to be someone who can competently carry out tasks or duties.  The stress of NSWN and the challenges and uncertainties of a new fall semester can cause me to turn toward my old worldview and become focused on myself, but as I’m reminded again through David’s response to Saul’s death is that God needs to be my greater reality and to cling unto the word of God to continue transforming and correcting all of my old assumptions and wrong views.

2 Samuel 1:17-27

If I had been in David’s shoes, what would have been the first several things on my mind upon hearing of Saul’s death? If I had been in David’s shoes, the first several things on my mind upon hearing of Saul’s death would’ve been relief that my days of running as a fugitive are over, my enemy is finally dead, that I can finally rest and go back and settle down with my family and not have to worry about moving or hiding anymore.  I would’ve thought about how I could probably go back and live in the comfortable palace again and regain my position and status within the royal family.Saul’s death means immediate practical relief for David, and a dramatic reversal in his fortunes.  Yet, none of these seem to impress David.  What did the death of Saul mean to David, according to these verses? The death of Saul to David meant that the mighty king of Israel had fallen, that a precious life of someone who had been “loved and gracious” was over.  For David, Saul’s death was a tragedy for the nation of Israel.

What can I learn from David about what it takes to transcend my narrow concerns and not always view life from purely the angle of how it affects me? I can learn from David that what it takes to transcend my narrow concerns and not always view life from purely the angle of how it affects me is to be practiced in thinking about others.  I can imagine that David was someone who must’ve thought about others throughout the day repeatedly, had the room in his heart and mind to take notice and concern for others and make God’s concern his own so that when this news came of Saul’s death, David’s response was to think about the people of Israel, to grieve over the state of God’s nation who were now without a leader, to think about Saul and Jonathan’s family and everyone affected by this tragedy. Furthermore, knowing David’s decisions and history, he was someone who saw his life connected to God and not in isolation, and because he was someone who saw his life from God’s perspective, he was able to respond as he did.  I see that I need to zoom out and not get so tied up in the little details and petty drama of my own life or ministry.  God’s work is going on all around me, and daily I’m reminded that I’m in the midst of spiritual battles as I get emails regarding Camp Blue, Middle and High school retreats, Camp Gracepoint, Mission trips, NSWN, Welcome week…I’m not devoid of chances to zoom out and see things from God’s perspective, but it’s a choice that I need to daily make whether to think of others, to make God’s concern my own or to stay stuck in my own narrow slice of reality.

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