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The Charles F. Stanley

LIFE PRINCIPLES DAILY BIBLE Charles F. Stanley General Editor


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The Charles F. Stanley Life Principles Daily Bible Copyright © 2007 by Charles F. Stanley.

Notes and commentary copyright © 2007 by Charles F. Stanley. All rights reserved.

The Holy Bible, New King James Version Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. All rights reserved.

The text of the New King James Version (NKJV) may be quoted or reprinted without prior written permission with the following qualifications: (1) up to and including 1,000 verses may be quoted in printed form as long as the verses quoted amount to less than 50% of a complete book of the Bible and make up less than 50% of the total work in which they are quoted; (2) all NKJV quotations must conform accurately to the NKJV text. Any use of the NKJV text must include a proper acknowledgement as follows: Scripture taken from the New King James Version. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved. However, when quotations from the NKJV text are used in church bulletins, orders of service, Sunday school lessons, church newsletters, and similar works in the course of religious instruction or services at a place of worship or other religious assembly, the following notice may be used at the end of each quotation: NKJV. For quotation requests not covered by the above guidelines, write to Thomas Nelson, Inc., Attention: Bible Rights and Permissions, P.O. Box 141000, Nashville, TN 372141000.

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All Rights Reserved Printed in the United States of America 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 – 12 11 10 09 08 07


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M AY 1 and conduct yourselves like men, you Philistines, that you do not become servants of the Hebrews, as they have been to you. Conduct yourselves like men, and And the word of Samuel came to all fight!” Israel. 10So the Philistines fought, and Israel Now Israel went out to battle against was defeated, and every man fled to his the Philistines, and encamped beside tent. There was a very great slaughter, Ebenezer; and the Philistines encamped and there fell of Israel thirty thousand in Aphek. 2Then the Philistines put themfoot soldiers. 11Also the ark of God was selves in battle array against Israel. And captured; and the two sons of Eli, Hophni when they joined battle, Israel was and Phinehas, died. defeated by the Philistines, who killed 12Then a man of Benjamin ran from about four thousand men of the army in the battle line the same day, and came to 3 d the field. And when the people had Shiloh with his clothes torn and dirt on come into the camp, the elders of Israel his head. 13Now when he came, there was said, “Why has the LORD defeated us Eli, sitting on a seat by the wayside today before the Philistines? Let us bring watching, for his heart trembled for the the ark of the covenant of the LORD from ark of God. And when the man came into Shiloh to us, that when it comes among the city and told it, all the city cried out. us it may save us from the hand of our 14When Eli heard the noise of the outcry, enemies.” 4So the people sent to Shiloh, he said, “What does the sound of this that they might bring from there the ark tumult mean?” And the man came of the covenant of the LORD of hosts, quickly and told Eli. 15Eli was ninetywho dwells between the cherubim. And eight years old, and his eyes were so dim the two sons of Eli, Hophni and Phinethat he could not see. has, were there with the ark of the 16Then the man said to Eli, “I am he covenant of God. who came from the battle. And I fled 5And when the ark of the covenant of today from the battle line.” the LORD came into the camp, all Israel And he said, “What happened, my shouted so loudly that the earth shook. son?” 6Now when the Philistines heard the 17So the messenger answered and noise of the shout, they said, “What does said, “Israel has fled before the the sound of this great shout in the camp Philistines, and there has been a great of the Hebrews mean?” Then they underslaughter among the people. Also your stood that the ark of the LORD had come two sons, Hophni and Phinehas, are into the camp. 7So the Philistines were dead; and the ark of God has been capafraid, for they said, “God has come into tured.” the camp!” And they said, “Woe to us! For 18Then it happened, when he made such a thing has never happened before. mention of the ark of God, that Eli fell off 8Woe to us! Who will deliver us from the the seat backward by the side of the gate; hand of these mighty gods? These are the and his neck was broken and he died, for gods who struck the Egyptians with all the man was old and heavy. And he had 9 the plagues in the wilderness. Be strong judged Israel forty years. 19Now his daughter-in-law, Phinehas’ ✴ ✴ ✴ ✴L I F E L E S S O N S ✴ ✴ ✴ ✴ wife, was with child, due to be delivered; and when she heard the news that the d 1 Samuel 4:3 — “Let us bring the ark ark of God was captured, and that her of the covenant of the LORD from Shiloh father-in-law and her husband were to us, that . . . it may save us from the dead, she bowed herself and gave birth, hand of our enemies.” for her labor pains came upon her. 20And o religious artifact or ceremony, no about the time of her death the women matter how sacred, can rescue us. who stood by her said to her, “Do not Israel’s leaders thought that the ark of fear, for you have borne a son.” But she the covenant could save them, but it had did not answer, nor did she regard it. no power to do so. God alone rescues. 21Then she named the child Ichabod, say524

1 Samuel 4:1—5:12

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SAMUEL: Learning to Hear God’s Voice 1 SAMUEL 4:1

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s one of the mightiest prophets of the Old Testament, it’s no coincidence that Samuel’s first divine assignment called for him to learn how to hear God’s voice, to recognize it for what it was. As 1 Samuel 3:1–10 tells us, a young Samuel, entrusted to the care of Eli the priest, was lying down one evening when the Lord spoke. At first, Samuel didn’t know who he was hearing; he thought Eli was calling him. But finally, after Eli told Samuel three times that he hadn’t called, Eli realized that it was the Lord. So he instructed the boy to respond, “Speak, LORD, for Your servant hears” (v. 9).

ing, “The glory has departed from Israel!” because the ark of God had been captured and because of her father-inlaw and her husband. 22And she said, “The glory has departed from Israel, for the ark of God has been captured.” Then the Philistines took the ark of God and brought it from Ebenezer to d Ashdod. 2When the Philistines took the ark of God, they brought it into the house of Dagon and set it by Dagon. 3And when the people of Ashdod arose early in the morning, there was Dagon, fallen on its face to the earth before the ark of the LORD. So they took Dagon and set it in its place again. 4And when they arose early the next morning, there was Dagon, fallen on its face to the ground before the ark of the LORD. The head of Dagon and both the palms of its hands were broken off on the threshold; only Dagon’s torso was left of it. 5Therefore neither the priests of Dagon nor any who come into Dagon’s house tread on the threshold of Dagon in Ashdod to this day. 6But the hand of the LORD was heavy on the people of Ashdod, and He ravaged them and struck them with tumors, both Ashdod and its territory. 7And when the men of Ashdod saw how it was, they said, “The ark of the God of Israel must not remain with us, for His hand is harsh toward us and Dagon our god.” 8Therefore they sent and gathered to them-

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Isn’t that a beautiful way to answer God? “Speak, LORD, for Your servant hears.” Eli taught Samuel how to listen to God—and Samuel became established as God’s prophet (see 1 Sam. 3:19–21). So when the Philistines captured the ark of the covenant, and Eli and his two sons died (see 1 Sam. 4:11, 18), Samuel knew what to do and Israel knew who to listen to. In the midst of great turmoil, Samuel was able to hear the voice of the One he loved and served faithfully. If we’re going to be men and women of God, we too must learn how to recognize God’s efforts to speak to us. However, we can’t wait until the maelstrom strikes to do so. It’s when we lie restfully in the quiet moments that we should turn our attention to God and say, “Speak, Lord, for Your servant hears.” Because it’s in those tranquil moments that we can embrace the One who calls to us, and that He can teach our hearts to love and obey Him.

selves all the lords of the Philistines, and said, “What shall we do with the ark of the God of Israel?” And they answered, “Let the ark of the God of Israel be carried away to Gath.” So they carried the ark of the God of Israel away. 9So it was, after they had g carried it away, that the hand of the LORD was against the city with a very great destruction; and He struck the men of the city, both small and great, and tumors broke out on them. ✴ ✴ ✴ ✴

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d 1 Samuel 5:2 — When the Philistines took the ark of God, they brought it into the house of Dagon.

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he Philistines placed the ark of the covenant in the temple of Dagon to show that their god had triumphed over Israel’s God. However, God shows Himself fantastically strong (see 1 Cor. 1:25) and showed that He was the only true God in the room. d 1 Samuel 5:9 — The LORD was against the city with a very great destruction.

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he Lord wanted the Philistines to know that what had happened did not occur by chance, but that He had been behind it all. God desires that the whole world acknowledge His glory— and He wants to use us to display it.


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10Therefore they sent the ark of God to Ekron. So it was, as the ark of God came to Ekron, that the Ekronites cried out, saying, “They have brought the ark of the God of Israel to us, to kill us and our people!” 11So they sent and gathered together all the lords of the Philistines, and said, “Send away the ark of the God of Israel, and let it go back to its own place, so that it does not kill us and our people.” For there was a deadly destruction throughout all the city; the hand of God was very heavy there. 12And the men who did not die were stricken with the tumors, and the cry of the city went up to heaven.

Psalm 54:1–7 To the Chief Musician. With stringed instruments. A Contemplation of David when the Ziphites went and said to Saul, “Is David not hiding with us?” 1 2 3

Save me, O God, by Your name, And vindicate me by Your strength. Hear my prayer, O God; Give ear to the words of my mouth. For strangers have risen up against me, And oppressors have sought after my life; They have not set God before them. Selah

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Behold, God is my helper; The Lord is with those who uphold my life. He will repay my enemies for their evil. Cut them off in Your truth.

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d Psalm 54:6 — I will freely sacrifice to You; I will praise Your name, O LORD, for it is good.

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hat does it mean to “freely sacrifice” to God? It means that we willingly and gladly put something precious of ours on the line for God, knowing that it all belongs to Him, and that we can never out give God.

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g I will freely sacrifice to You; I will praise Your name, O LORD, for it is good. For He has delivered me out of all D trouble; And my eye has seen its desire upon my enemies. Proverbs 15:12–13

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A scoffer does not love one who corrects him, Nor will he go to the wise.

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A merry heart makes a cheerful countenance, But by sorrow of the heart the spirit is broken.

Luke 21:1–19

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And He looked up and saw the rich putting their gifts into the treasury, 2and He saw also a certain poor widow putting in two mites. 3So He said, “Truly I say to you that this poor widow has put in more than all; 4for all these out of their abundance have put in offerings for God, but she out of her poverty put in all the livelihood that she had.” 5Then, as some spoke of the temple, how it was adorned with beautiful stones and donations, He said, 6“These things which you see—the days will come in which not one stone shall be left upon another that shall not be thrown down.” 7So they asked Him, saying, “Teacher, but when will these things be? And what sign will there be when these things are about to take place?” 8And He said: “Take heed that you not be deceived. For many will come in My name, saying, ‘I am He,’ and, ‘The time has drawn near.’ Therefore do not go after them. 9But when you hear of wars and commotions, do not be terrified; for these things must come to pass first, but the end will not come immediately.” 10Then He said to them, “Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. 11And there will be great earthquakes in various places, and famines

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d Luke 21:13 — “It will turn out for you as an occasion for testimony.”

d Luke 21:18 — “Not a hair of your head shall be lost.”

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ust as the imprisonments of the apostle Paul turned out to be divine opportunities to testify to the gospel of Christ (see Acts 9:15; Phil. 1:12), so God will use persecutions to make His Word known.

and pestilences; and there will be fearful sights and great signs from heaven. 12But before all these things, they will lay their hands on you and persecute you, delivering you up to the synagogues and prisD ons.You will be brought before kings and d rulers for My name’s sake. 13But it will turn out for you as an occasion for testimony. 14Therefore settle it in your hearts not to meditate beforehand on what you

esus said that though His followers might lose their lives for His sake, yet not a hair of their head would perish. He meant that nothing was left up to chance or accident and that He would always remain in control.

will answer; 15for I will give you a mouth and wisdom which all your adversaries will not be able to contradict or resist. 16You will be betrayed even by parents and brothers, relatives and friends; and they will put some of you to death. 17And you will be hated by all for My name’s sake. 18But not a hair of your head shall g be lost. 19By your patience possess your souls. M AY 2

1 Samuel 6:1—7:17

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Now the ark of the LORD was in the country of the Philistines seven months. 2And the Philistines called for the priests and the diviners, saying, “What shall we do with the ark of the LORD? Tell us how we should send it to its place.” 3So they said, “If you send away the ark of the God of Israel, do not send it empty; but by all means return it to Him with a trespass offering. Then you will be healed, and it will be known to you why His hand is not removed from you.” 4Then they said, “What is the trespass offering which we shall return to Him?” They answered, “Five golden tumors and five golden rats, according to the number of the lords of the Philistines. For the same plague was on all of you and on your lords. 5Therefore you shall make images of your tumors and images of your rats that ravage the land, and you shall give glory to the God of Israel; perhaps He will lighten His hand from you, from your gods, and from your land. 6Why then do you harden your hearts as

the Egyptians and Pharaoh hardened their hearts? When He did mighty things among them, did they not let the people go, that they might depart? 7Now therefore, make a new cart, take two milk cows which have never been yoked, and hitch the cows to the cart; and take their calves home, away from them. 8Then take the ark of the LORD and set it on the cart; and put the articles of gold which you are returning to Him as a trespass offering in a chest by its side. Then send it away, and let it go. 9And watch: if it goes up the road to its own territory, to Beth Shemesh, then He has done us this great evil. But if not, then we shall know that it is not His hand that struck us—it happened to us by chance.” 10Then the men did so; they took two milk cows and hitched them to the cart, and shut up their calves at home. 11And they set the ark of the LORD on the cart, and the chest with the gold rats and the images of their tumors. 12Then the cows headed straight for the road to Beth Shemesh, and went along the highway, lowing as they went, and did not turn aside to the right hand or the left. And the lords of the Philistines went after them to the border of Beth Shemesh.


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M AY 2 13Now the people of Beth Shemesh were reaping their wheat harvest in the valley; and they lifted their eyes and saw the ark, and rejoiced to see it. 14Then the cart came into the field of Joshua of Beth Shemesh, and stood there; a large stone was there. So they split the wood of the cart and offered the cows as a burnt offering to the LORD. 15The Levites took down the ark of the LORD and the chest that was with it, in which were the articles of gold, and put them on the large stone. Then the men of Beth Shemesh offered burnt offerings and made sacrifices the same day to the LORD. 16So when the five lords of the Philistines had seen it, they returned to Ekron the same day. 17These are the golden tumors which the Philistines returned as a trespass offering to the LORD: one for Ashdod, one for Gaza, one for Ashkelon, one for Gath, one for Ekron; 18and the golden rats, according to the number of all the cities of the Philistines belonging to the five lords, both fortified cities and country villages, even as far as the large stone of Abel on which they set the ark of the LORD, which stone remains to this day in the field of Joshua of Beth Shemesh. 19Then He struck the men of Beth d Shemesh, because they had looked into the ark of the LORD. He struck fifty thousand and seventy men of the people, and the people lamented because the LORD had struck the people with a great slaughter. 20And the men of Beth Shemesh said, “Who is able to stand before this holy LORD God? And to whom shall it go up from us?” 21So they sent messengers to the inhabitants of Kirjath Jearim, saying, “The Philistines have brought back the ark of the LORD; come down and take it up with you.” Then the men of Kirjath Jearim came and took the ark of the LORD, and brought it into the house of Abinadab on the hill, and consecrated Eleazar his son to keep the ark of the LORD. 2So it was that the ark remained in Kirjath Jearim a long time; it was there twenty years. And all the house of Israel lamented after the LORD. 3Then Samuel spoke to all the house d of Israel, saying, “If you return to the LORD with all your hearts, then put away

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528 the foreign gods and the Ashtoreths from among you, and prepare your hearts for the LORD, and serve Him only; and He will deliver you from the hand of the Philistines.” 4So the children of Israel put away the Baals and the Ashtoreths, and served the LORD only. 5And Samuel said, “Gather all Israel to Mizpah, and I will pray to the LORD for you.” 6So they gathered together at Mizpah, drew water, and poured it out before the LORD. And they fasted that day, and said there, “We have sinned against the LORD.” And Samuel judged the children of Israel at Mizpah. 7Now when the Philistines heard that the children of Israel had gathered together at Mizpah, the lords of the Philistines went up against Israel. And when the children of Israel heard of it, they were afraid of the Philistines. 8So the children of Israel said to Samuel, “Do not cease to cry out to the LORD our God for us, that He may save us from the hand of the Philistines.” 9And Samuel took a suckling lamb and offered it as a whole burnt offering to the LORD. Then Samuel cried out to the LORD for Israel, and the LORD answered him. 10Now as Samuel was offering up the burnt offering, the Philistines drew near to battle against Israel. But the LORD thundered with a loud thunder upon the Philistines that day, and so confused them that they were overcome before Israel. 11And the men of ✴ ✴ ✴ ✴

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d 1 Samuel 6:19 — He struck the men of Beth Shemesh, because they had looked into the ark of the LORD.

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n His grace, God brought the ark back to Israel. But in His holiness, He struck down some Israelites who treated the ark as a curiosity rather than as a symbol of God’s glory. d 1 Samuel 7:3 — “If you return to the LORD with all your hearts, then put away the foreign gods.”

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od demands and deserves our exclusive loyalty and love. He made us for Himself, and we have no higher calling than to draw near to Him.


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ANSWERS TO LIFE’S QUESTIONS

How can I know it’s God’s voice I hear and not something else? 1 SAMUEL 7

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he Book of 1 Samuel describes how the boy Samuel came to hear and understand the spoken word of God. The Bible records that the word of the Lord was rare in those days (see 1 Sam. 3:1); Samuel, therefore, had to learn how to recognize the voice of God and not get it mixed up with ideas that conflicted with the Lord’s true character. Samuel not only learned to clearly hear the words of God, he also came to speak them with authority. First Samuel 3:19, 20 recalls, “The LORD was with him and let none of his words fall to the ground. And all Israel from Dan to Beersheba knew that Samuel had been established as a prophet of the LORD.” This was extremely important, because when God called Israel to repentance, He sent His word through Samuel. Samuel declared, “If you return to the LORD with all your hearts, then put away the foreign gods and the Ashtoreths from among you, and prepare your hearts for the LORD, and serve Him only; and He will deliver you from the hand of the Philistines.” Because of Samuel’s obedience, Israel returned to the Lord and the nation enjoyed peace (see 1 Sam. 7:13, 14). Although Samuel learned to hear God’s voice clearly, we sometimes let our preconcep-

Israel went out of Mizpah and pursued the Philistines, and drove them back as far as below Beth Car. 12Then Samuel took a stone and set it up between Mizpah and Shen, and called its name Ebenezer, saying, “Thus far the LORD has helped us.” 13So the Philistines were subdued, and they did not come anymore into the territory of Israel. And the hand of the LORD was against the Philistines all the days of Samuel. 14Then the cities which the Philistines had taken from Israel were restored to Israel, from Ekron to Gath; and Israel recovered its territory from the hands of the Philistines. Also there was peace between Israel and the Amorites. 15And Samuel judged Israel all the days of his life. 16He went from year to year on a circuit to Bethel, Gilgal, and

tions about God influence what we think we hear from Him. If, for instance, we think of God as a wise and caring counselor, we will be open to the love He has for us in the midst of calamities brought on by our own foolishness. If, however, we think of God as a vindictive judge, we will expect to hear words of condemnation and harsh punishment when we act foolishly. Our relationship with God influences how we hear God. If we approach God as His saved children living under His grace, then we come with the assurance that He will speak the words we really need—even if they are not what we want to hear. When we know Him as an infinitely loving God, then it’s easier for us to believe everything He says. Unfortunately, too many Christians fall for twisted conceptions of God that misrepresent our gracious, consistent, patient, trustworthy Father. We’ve all heard too many unbiblical ideas offered as if they were gospel truth—and such error can lead us into horrible emotional and spiritual bondage. That’s why our view of God must remain correct and biblically informed. By knowing Him as the God of love (see 1 John 4:8) who wants us to approach the throne of grace boldly (see Heb. 4:16), we will trust Him more completely no matter what He directs us to do. Therefore, we should take the advice of 1 Thessalonians 5:21, and test whatever we hear against the truth of Scripture. That way, we’ll always know whether we’re hearing God’s voice or not.

Mizpah, and judged Israel in all those places. 17But he always returned to Ramah, for his home was there. There he judged Israel, and there he built an altar to the LORD.

Psalm 55:1–8 To the Chief Musician. With stringed instruments. A Contemplation of David. 1

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Give ear to my prayer, O God, And do not hide Yourself from my supplication. Attend to me, and hear me; I am restless in my complaint, and moan noisily, Because of the voice of the enemy, Because of the oppression of the wicked;

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d Psalm 55:6 — “Oh, that I had wings like a dove! I would fly away and be at rest.”

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hen the walls close in and the floor gives way, we often wish we could be anywhere but where God has put us. Trusting God, however, means looking beyond what we can see to what God sees.

For they bring down trouble upon me, And in wrath they hate me. 4

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My heart is severely pained within me, And the terrors of death have fallen upon me. Fearfulness and trembling have come upon me, And horror has overwhelmed me. So I said, “Oh, that I had wings like a dove! I would fly away and be at rest. Indeed, I would wander far off, And remain in the wilderness. Selah I would hasten my escape From the windy storm and tempest.”

Proverbs 15:14 14

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The heart of him who has understanding seeks knowledge, But the mouth of fools feeds on foolishness.

Luke 21:20–38 20“But when you see Jerusalem surrounded by armies, then know that its desolation is near. 21Then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains, let those who are in the midst of her depart, and let not those who are in the country enter her. 22For these are the days of vengeance, that all things which are written may be fulfilled. 23But woe to those who are pregnant and to those who are nursing babies in those days! For there

will be great distress in the land and wrath upon this people. 24And they will fall by the edge of the sword, and be led away captive into all nations. And Jerusalem will be trampled by Gentiles until the times of the Gentiles are fulfilled. 25“And there will be signs in the sun, in the moon, and in the stars; and on the earth distress of nations, with perplexity, the sea and the waves roaring; 26men’s hearts failing them from fear and the expectation of those things which are coming on the earth, for the powers of D the heavens will be shaken. 27Then they will see the Son of Man coming in a cloud with power and great glory. 28Now when these things begin to happen, look up and lift up your heads, because your redemption draws near.” 29Then He spoke to them a parable: “Look at the fig tree, and all the trees. 30When they are already budding, you see and know for yourselves that summer is now near. 31So you also, when you see these things happening, know that the kingdom of God is near. 32Assuredly, I say to you, this generation will by no means pass away till all things take place. 33Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words will by no means pass away. 34“But take heed to yourselves, lest g your hearts be weighed down with carousing, drunkenness, and cares of this life, and that Day come on you unexpect✴ ✴ ✴ ✴

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d Luke 21:34 — “Take heed to yourselves, lest . . . that Day come on you unexpectedly.”

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constant awareness that the Lord could return at any time keeps us spiritually alert and helps to make us productive for the kingdom of God. When we forget about the second coming, we become spiritually lazy. d Luke 21:36 — “Pray always that you may be counted worthy to escape all these things that will come to pass.”

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od Himself instructs us to pray that we might escape certain kinds of trials and tribulations. We need faith to bear up under suffering, and we need faith to pray that God might spare us unnecessary suffering.


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531 edly. 35For it will come as a snare on all those who dwell on the face of the whole d earth. 36Watch therefore, and pray always that you may be counted worthy to escape all these things that will come to pass, and to stand before the Son of Man.”

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37And in the daytime He was teaching in the temple, but at night He went out and stayed on the mountain called Olivet. 38Then early in the morning all the people came to Him in the temple to hear Him.

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1 Samuel 8:1—9:27

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Now it came to pass when Samuel was old that he made his sons judges over Israel. 2The name of his firstborn was Joel, and the name of his second, Abijah; they were judges in Beersheba. d 3But his sons did not walk in his ways; they turned aside after dishonest gain, took bribes, and perverted justice. 4Then all the elders of Israel gathered together and came to Samuel at Ramah, 5and said to him, “Look, you are old, and your sons do not walk in your ways. Now make us a king to judge us like all the nations.” 6But the thing displeased Samuel d when they said, “Give us a king to judge us.” So Samuel prayed to the LORD. 7And the LORD said to Samuel, “Heed the voice of the people in all that they say to you; for they have not rejected you, but they have rejected Me, that I should not reign over them. 8According to all the ✴ ✴ ✴ ✴

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d 1 Samuel 8:3 — They turned aside after dishonest gain, took bribes, and perverted justice.

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s great and as godly as Samuel was, he did not do a much better job as father than did Eli. Regardless of how involved in ministry we are, we cannot afford to neglect the spiritual training of our children. d 1 Samuel 8:6 — “Give us a king to judge us.” So Samuel prayed to the LORD.

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ven in his old age, Samuel sought to hear the voice of God when confronted with a challenge. He didn’t think he “knew it all”; he went to the Lord for guidance. So should we.

works which they have done since the day that I brought them up out of Egypt, even to this day—with which they have forsaken Me and served other gods—so they are doing to you also. 9Now therefore, heed their voice. However, you shall solemnly forewarn them, and show them the behavior of the king who will reign over them.” 10So Samuel told all the words of the LORD to the people who asked him for a king. 11And he said, “This will be the behavior of the king who will reign over you: He will take your sons and appoint them for his own chariots and to be his horsemen, and some will run before his chariots. 12He will appoint captains over his thousands and captains over his fifties, will set some to plow his ground and reap his harvest, and some to make his weapons of war and equipment for his chariots. 13He will take your daughters to be perfumers, cooks, and bakers. 14And he will take the best of your fields, your vineyards, and your olive groves, and give them to his servants. 15He will take a tenth of your grain and your vintage, and give it to his officers and servants. 16And he will take your male servants, your female servants, your finest young men, and your donkeys, and put them to his work. 17He will take a tenth of your sheep. And you will be his servants. 18And you will cry out in that day because of your king whom you have chosen for yourselves, and the LORD will not hear you in that day.” 19Nevertheless the people refused to g obey the voice of Samuel; and they said, “No, but we will have a king over us, 20that we also may be like all the nations, and that our king may judge us and go out before us and fight our battles.” 21And Samuel heard all the words of the people, and he repeated them in the


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d 1 Samuel 8:19, 20 — “We will have a king over us, that we also may be like all the nations.”

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n every culture and time, God’s people feel a tug to be like those around them, to conform to the customs of their unbelieving neighbors. But Jesus tells us, “Do not be like them” (Matt. 6:8).

hearing of the LORD. 22So the LORD said to Samuel, “Heed their voice, and make them a king.” And Samuel said to the men of Israel, “Every man go to his city.” There was a man of Benjamin whose name was Kish the son of Abiel, the son of Zeror, the son of Bechorath, the son of Aphiah, a Benjamite, a mighty man of power. 2And he had a choice and handsome son whose name was Saul. There was not a more handsome person than he among the children of Israel. From his shoulders upward he was taller than any of the people. 3Now the donkeys of Kish, Saul’s father, were lost. And Kish said to his son Saul, “Please take one of the servants with you, and arise, go and look for the donkeys.” 4So he passed through the mountains of Ephraim and through the land of Shalisha, but they did not find them. Then they passed through the land of Shaalim, and they were not there. Then he passed through the land of the Benjamites, but they did not find them. 5When they had come to the land of Zuph, Saul said to his servant who was with him, “Come, let us return, lest my father cease caring about the donkeys and become worried about us.” 6And he said to him, “Look now, there is in this city a man of God, and he is an honorable man; all that he says surely comes to pass. So let us go there; perhaps he can show us the way that we should go.” 7Then Saul said to his servant, “But look, if we go, what shall we bring the man? For the bread in our vessels is all gone, and there is no present to bring to the man of God. What do we have?”

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d 1 Samuel 9:16 — “I will send you a man from the land of Benjamin, and you shall anoint him commander over My people Israel.”

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od often uses misfortune to bring us to the very place where He will show us His will. The dark moments of life will last only so long as is necessary for God to accomplish His purpose in us.

8And the servant answered Saul again and said, “Look, I have here at hand one-fourth of a shekel of silver. I will give that to the man of God, to tell us our way.” 9(Formerly in Israel, when a man went to inquire of God, he spoke thus: “Come, let us go to the seer”; for he who is now called a prophet was formerly called a seer.) 10Then Saul said to his servant, “Well said; come, let us go.” So they went to the city where the man of God was. 11As they went up the hill to the city, they met some young women going out to draw water, and said to them, “Is the seer here?” 12And they answered them and said, “Yes, there he is, just ahead of you. Hurry now; for today he came to this city, because there is a sacrifice of the people today on the high place. 13As soon as you come into the city, you will surely find him before he goes up to the high place to eat. For the people will not eat until he comes, because he must bless the sacrifice; afterward those who are invited will eat. Now therefore, go up, for about this time you will find him.” 14So they went up to the city. As they were coming into the city, there was Samuel, coming out toward them on his way up to the high place. 15Now the LORD had told Samuel in his ear the day before Saul came, saying, 16“Tomorrow about this time I will send g you a man from the land of Benjamin, and you shall anoint him commander over My people Israel, that he may save My people from the hand of the Philistines; for I have looked upon My people, because their cry has come to Me.”


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ike Gideon before him, Saul thought of himself as small, unimportant, and powerless. But God loves to use “the weak things of the world to put to shame the things which are mighty” (1 Cor. 1:27).

17So when Samuel saw Saul, the LORD said to him, “There he is, the man of whom I spoke to you. This one shall reign over My people.” 18Then Saul drew near to Samuel in the gate, and said, “Please tell me, where is the seer’s house?” 19Samuel answered Saul and said, “I am the seer. Go up before me to the high place, for you shall eat with me today; and tomorrow I will let you go and will tell you all that is in your heart. 20But as for your donkeys that were lost three days ago, do not be anxious about them, for they have been found. And on whom is all the desire of Israel? Is it not on you and on all your father’s house?” 21And Saul answered and said, “Am I d not a Benjamite, of the smallest of the tribes of Israel, and my family the least of all the families of the tribe of Benjamin? Why then do you speak like this to me?” 22Now Samuel took Saul and his servant and brought them into the hall, and had them sit in the place of honor among those who were invited; there were about thirty persons. 23And Samuel said to the cook, “Bring the portion which I gave you, of which I said to you, ‘Set it apart.’ ” 24So the cook took up the thigh with its upper part and set it before Saul. And Samuel said, “Here it is, what was kept back. It was set apart for you. Eat; for until this time it has been kept for you, since I said I invited the people.” So Saul ate with Samuel that day. 25When they had come down from the high place into the city, Samuel spoke with Saul on the top of the house. 26They arose early; and it was about the dawning of the day that Samuel called to Saul on the top of the house, saying, “Get up, that I may send you on your way.” And

Saul arose, and both of them went outside, he and Samuel. 27As they were going down to the outskirts of the city, Samuel said to Saul, “Tell the servant to go on ahead of us.” And he went on. “But you stand here awhile, that I may announce to you the word of God.”

Psalm 55:9–15 9

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Destroy, O Lord, and divide their tongues, For I have seen violence and strife in the city. Day and night they go around it on its walls; Iniquity and trouble are also in the midst of it. Destruction is in its midst; Oppression and deceit do not depart from its streets. For it is not an enemy who reproaches me; Then I could bear it. Nor is it one who hates me who has exalted himself against me; Then I could hide from him. But it was you, a man my equal, My companion and my acquaintance. We took sweet counsel together, And walked to the house of God in the throng. Let death seize them; Let them go down alive into hell, For wickedness is in their dwellings and among them.

Proverbs 15:15–17 15

All the days of the afflicted are evil, But he who is of a merry heart has a continual feast.

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Better is a little with the fear of the LORD, Than great treasure with trouble. Better is a dinner of herbs where love is, Than a fatted calf with hatred.

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JUDAS: “Rabbi” Is Not Enough LUKE 22:1–6

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ossessor of the darkest of human hearts, Judas Iscariot could never be described as godly. But his betrayal (see John 18:3) powerfully reminds us of the horrific possibilities within every human heart. While Judas called Jesus “Rabbi” (see Matt. 26:25, 49), there is no record that he used the term “Lord.” It has always been pos-

Luke 22:1–23

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Now the Feast of Unleavened Bread drew near, which is called Passover. 2And the chief priests and the scribes sought how they might kill Him, for they feared the people. 3Then Satan entered Judas, surnamed d Iscariot, who was numbered among the twelve. 4So he went his way and conferred with the chief priests and captains, how he might betray Him to them. 5And they were glad, and agreed to give him money. 6So he promised and sought opportunity to betray Him to them in the absence of the multitude. 7Then came the Day of Unleavened Bread, when the Passover must be killed. 8And He sent Peter and John, saying, “Go and prepare the Passover for us, that we may eat.” 9So they said to Him, “Where do You want us to prepare?” 10And He said to them, “Behold, when you have entered the city, a man will ✴ ✴ ✴ ✴

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d Luke 22:3 — Satan entered Judas, surnamed Iscariot, who was numbered among the twelve.

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udas is the only person whom the Bible explicitly says was possessed by Satan. Many Bible scholars believe the Antichrist will be as well (see Rev. 12— 13). Both men are called “the son of perdition” (see John 17:12; 2 Thess. 2:3).

sible to claim allegiance to God without ever handing over the soul’s title deed. When Judas approached Jesus in Gethsemane, he received one final chance to win eternal asylum. But sin had so blinded Judas that he could not see the Way, the Truth, and the Life. His story of the betrayal still resonates, not only because of Judas’s evil kiss, but also because we realize the wickedness of our own flesh. How many attend church regularly and give Jesus intellectual assent, but not their hearts? How many call Him King, only to assume their own thrones? What kind of kiss do we give the Lord?

meet you carrying a pitcher of water; follow him into the house which he enters. 11Then you shall say to the master of the house, ‘The Teacher says to you, “Where is the guest room where I may eat the Passover with My disciples?” ’ 12Then he will show you a large, furnished upper room; there make ready.” 13So they went and found it just as He had said to them, and they prepared the Passover. 14When the hour had come, He sat down, and the twelve apostles with Him. 15Then He said to them, “With fervent desire I have desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer; 16for I say to you, I will no longer eat of it until it is fulfilled in the kingdom of God.” 17Then He took the cup, and gave thanks, and said, “Take this and divide it among yourselves; 18for I say to you, I will not drink of the fruit of the vine until the kingdom of God comes.” 19And He took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to them, saying, “This is My body which is given for you; do this in remembrance of Me.” 20Likewise He also took the cup after supper, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in My blood, which is shed for you. 21But behold, the hand of My betrayer is with Me on the table. 22And truly the Son of Man goes as it has been determined, but woe to that man by whom He is betrayed!” 23Then they began to question among themselves, which of them it was who would do this thing.

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M AY 4 gal; and surely I will come down to you to offer burnt offerings and make sacrifices of peace offerings. Seven days you shall wait, till I come to you and show Then Samuel took a flask of oil and you what you should do.” poured it on his head, and kissed 9So it was, when he had turned his g him and said: “Is it not because the LORD back to go from Samuel, that God gave has anointed you commander over His him another heart; and all those signs inheritance? 2When you have departed came to pass that day. 10When they came from me today, you will find two men by there to the hill, there was a group of Rachel’s tomb in the territory of Benprophets to meet him; then the Spirit of jamin at Zelzah; and they will say to you, God came upon him, and he prophesied ‘The donkeys which you went to look for among them. 11And it happened, when all have been found. And now your father who knew him formerly saw that he has ceased caring about the donkeys and indeed prophesied among the prophets, is worrying about you, saying, “What that the people said to one another, “What 3 shall I do about my son?” ’ Then you is this that has come upon the son of shall go on forward from there and come Kish? Is Saul also among the prophets?” to the terebinth tree of Tabor. There three 12Then a man from there answered and men going up to God at Bethel will meet said, “But who is their father?” Therefore you, one carrying three young goats, it became a proverb: “Is Saul also among another carrying three loaves of bread, the prophets?” 13And when he had finand another carrying a skin of wine. ished prophesying, he went to the high 4And they will greet you and give you place. two loaves of bread, which you shall 14Then Saul’s uncle said to him and receive from their hands. 5After that you his servant, “Where did you go?” shall come to the hill of God where the So he said, “To look for the donkeys. Philistine garrison is. And it will happen, When we saw that they were nowhere to when you have come there to the city, be found, we went to Samuel.” 15And Saul’s uncle said, “Tell me, that you will meet a group of prophets coming down from the high place with a please, what Samuel said to you.” 16So Saul said to his uncle, “He told us stringed instrument, a tambourine, a flute, and a harp before them; and they plainly that the donkeys had been found.” will be prophesying. 6Then the Spirit of But about the matter of the kingdom, he the LORD will come upon you, and you did not tell him what Samuel had said. 17Then Samuel called the people towill prophesy with them and be turned into another man. 7And let it be, when gether to the LORD at Mizpah, 18and said these signs come to you, that you do as to the children of Israel, “Thus says the the occasion demands; for God is with LORD God of Israel: ‘I brought up Israel you. 8You shall go down before me to Gilout of Egypt, and delivered you from the hand of the Egyptians and from the hand of all kingdoms and from those who ✴ ✴ ✴ ✴L I F E L E S S O N S ✴ ✴ ✴ ✴ oppressed you.’ 19But you have today rejected your God, who Himself saved d 1 Samuel 10:9 — When he had turned his back to go from Samuel . . . God gave you from all your adversities and your him another heart. tribulations; and you have said to Him, ‘No, set a king over us!’ Now therefore, t takes the Spirit of the living God to present yourselves before the LORD by turn us into other men and women, to transform us into the likeness of your tribes and by your clans.” 20And when Samuel had caused all Christ. But such a transformation is God’s will for every one of us (see Rom. 12:2). the tribes of Israel to come near, the tribe Yet, we should still pray that God would of Benjamin was chosen. 21When he had give us a heart that loves Him and wants caused the tribe of Benjamin to come to obey Him. Only with such a new heart near by their families, the family of Matri will we be able to live the new life He was chosen. And Saul the son of Kish calls us to. was chosen. But when they sought him, 535

1 Samuel 10:1—11:15

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ANSWERS TO LIFE’S QUESTIONS

What should I do when I feel the need to act in haste? 1 SAMUEL 10:8

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owhere in Scripture does God tell anyone to rush into a decision. He just doesn’t operate that way. Anyone in the financial world knows that success rarely follows a snap decision. Though at times we may need to hear from God quickly, God will never tell us to rush in blindly. We may have to move swiftly, but we can move swiftly in the will of God and still not hurry into a situation. Satan always encourages us to act immediately, because he knows if we back off and think long enough, we may reconsider. How many people have made decisions they regretted for the rest of their lives? Psalm 27:14 exhorts us, “Wait on the LORD; Be of good courage, and He shall strengthen your heart; wait, I say, on the LORD!” Psalm 62:5 explains, “My soul, wait silently for God alone, for my expectation is from Him.” If we feel an overwhelming urge to act spontaneously, we had better pull in the reins. God wants us to get all the details in their proper places.

d he could not be found. 22Therefore they inquired of the LORD further, “Has the man come here yet?” And the LORD answered, “There he is, hidden among the equipment.” 23So they ran and brought him from there; and when he stood among the people, he was taller than any of the people from his shoulders upward. 24And Samuel said to all the people, “Do you see him whom the LORD has chosen, that there is no one like him among all the people?” So all the people shouted and said, “Long live the king!” ✴ ✴ ✴ ✴ ✴ ✴ ✴ ✴ ✴ ✴ ✴ ✴ ✴ ✴

25Then Samuel explained to the people the behavior of royalty, and wrote it in a book and laid it up before the LORD. And Samuel sent all the people away, every man to his house. 26And Saul also went home to Gibeah; and valiant men went with him, whose hearts God had touched. 27But some rebels said, “How g can this man save us?” So they despised him, and brought him no presents. But he held his peace. Then Nahash the Ammonite came up and encamped against Jabesh Gilead; and all the men of Jabesh said to

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d 1 Samuel 10:22 — “There he is, hidden among the equipment.”

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King Saul lost his throne because he acted hastily. The prophet Samuel told him to wait for him seven days at Gilgal, “till I come to you and show you what you should do” (1 Sam. 10:8). By the seventh day, Samuel still hadn’t arrived. With a hostile Philistine army pressing in on him, Saul decided to take matters in his own hands and he prepared burnt offerings to invoke the Lord’s favor. As soon as he completed the offering, Samuel appeared. Saul offered some lame excuses, but his rashness disqualified him for a long and peaceful reign. Getting ahead of God is a terrible mistake, with distasteful consequences. On the other hand, Nehemiah, cupbearer to King Artaxerxes, patiently waited for God’s timing—with glorious results. He fasted and prayed “for many days” (1:4), then waited for the right time to bring his concern before the king. Rather than dash into action, Nehemiah waited before God. In fact, he beseeched the Lord for a period of four months, until one day the king himself asked Nehemiah why he seemed so downcast. Nehemiah explained the situation, and within days, the king sent him off to Jerusalem with all the necessary authority and building materials (see 2:1–11). Nehemiah waited until God put all the particulars in place, and then he moved. We should do the same.

aul knew that God had chosen him to be king, and yet he tried to avoid God’s will by running away. Throughout his rule he let fear keep him from obeying God—and in the end, it cost him everything.

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d 1 Samuel 10:27 — “How can this man save us?” So they despised him, and brought him no presents.

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od’s will looks neither impressive nor reasonable to some people. Yet God does not require us to understand His will, just obey it, even if it seems unreasonable.


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537 Nahash, “Make a covenant with us, and we will serve you.” 2And Nahash the Ammonite answered them, “On this condition I will make a covenant with you, that I may put out all your right eyes, and bring reproach on all Israel.” 3Then the elders of Jabesh said to him, “Hold off for seven days, that we may send messengers to all the territory of Israel. And then, if there is no one to save us, we will come out to you.” 4So the messengers came to Gibeah of Saul and told the news in the hearing of the people. And all the people lifted up their voices and wept. 5Now there was Saul, coming behind the herd from the field; and Saul said, “What troubles the people, that they weep?” And they told him the words of the men of Jabesh. 6Then the Spirit of God came upon Saul when he heard this news, and his anger was greatly aroused. 7So he took a yoke of oxen and cut them in pieces, and sent them throughout all the territory of Israel by the hands of messengers, saying, “Whoever does not go out with Saul and Samuel to battle, so it shall be done to his oxen.” And the fear of the LORD fell on the people, and they came out with one consent. 8When he numbered them in Bezek, the children of Israel were three hundred thousand, and the men of Judah thirty thousand. 9And they said to the messengers who came, “Thus you shall say to the men of Jabesh Gilead: ‘Tomorrow, by the time the sun is hot, you shall have help.’ ” Then the messengers came and reported it to the men of Jabesh, and they were glad. 10Therefore the men of Jabesh said, “Tomorrow we will come out to you, and you may do with us whatever seems good to you.” 11So it was, on the next day, that Saul put the people in three companies; and they came into the midst of the camp in the morning watch, and killed Ammonites until the heat of the day. And it happened that those who survived were scattered, so that no two of them were left together. 12Then the people said to Samuel, “Who is he who said, ‘Shall Saul reign over us?’ Bring the men, that we may put them to death.” 13But Saul said, “Not a man shall be d put to death this day, for today the LORD

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d 1 Samuel 11:13 — “The LORD has accomplished salvation in Israel.”

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hen Saul honored the Lord and put Him first, he enjoyed a successful and prosperous rule. In fact, Saul did great things for God when the Spirit of God empowered him and directed him. God can use us to do mighty things when we choose to be filled with His Spirit (see Eph. 5:18). However, when Saul allowed his eyes to drift, he began his swift and steep decline.

has accomplished salvation in Israel.” 14Then Samuel said to the people, “Come, let us go to Gilgal and renew the kingdom there.” 15So all the people went to Gilgal, and there they made Saul king before the LORD in Gilgal. There they made sacrifices of peace offerings before the LORD, and there Saul and all the men of Israel rejoiced greatly.

Psalm 55:16–23 16 17

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As for me, I will call upon God, And the LORD shall save me. Evening and morning and at noon I will pray, and cry aloud, And He shall hear my voice. He has redeemed my soul in peace from the battle that was against me, For there were many against me. God will hear, and afflict them, Even He who abides from of old. Selah

Because they do not change, Therefore they do not fear God. 20

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He has put forth his hands against those who were at peace with him; He has broken his covenant. The words of his mouth were smoother than butter, But war was in his heart; His words were softer than oil, Yet they were drawn swords. Cast your burden on the LORD, And He shall sustain you;

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But You, O God, shall bring them down to the pit of destruction; Bloodthirsty and deceitful men shall not live out half their days; But I will trust in You.

Proverbs 15:18–20 18

A wrathful man stirs up strife, But he who is slow to anger allays contention.

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The way of the lazy man is like a hedge of thorns, But the way of the upright is a highway.

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A wise son makes a father glad, But a foolish man despises his mother.

Luke 22:24–46 24Now there was also a dispute among them, as to which of them should be considered the greatest. 25And He said to them, “The kings of the Gentiles exercise lordship over them, and those who exercise authority over them are called ‘benefactors.’ 26But not so among you; on the contrary, he who is greatest among you, let him be as the younger, and he who governs as he who serves. 27For who is greater, he who sits at the table, or he who serves? Is it not he who sits at the table? Yet I am among you as the One who serves. 28“But you are those who have continued with Me in My trials. 29And I bestow upon you a kingdom, just as My Father bestowed one upon Me, 30that you may eat and drink at My table in My kingdom, and sit on thrones judging the twelve tribes of Israel.” 31And the Lord said, “Simon, Simon! d Indeed, Satan has asked for you, that he may sift you as wheat. 32But I have prayed for you, that your faith should not fail; and when you have returned to Me, strengthen your brethren.”

538 33But he said to Him, “Lord, I am ready to go with You, both to prison and to death.” 34Then He said, “I tell you, Peter, the rooster shall not crow this day before you will deny three times that you know Me.” 35And He said to them, “When I sent you without money bag, knapsack, and sandals, did you lack anything?” So they said, “Nothing.” 36Then He said to them, “But now, he who has a money bag, let him take it, and likewise a knapsack; and he who has no sword, let him sell his garment and buy one. 37For I say to you that this which is written must still be accomplished in Me: ‘And He was numbered with the transgressors.’ For the things concerning Me have an end.” 38So they said, “Lord, look, here are two swords.” And He said to them, “It is enough.” 39Coming out, He went to the Mount of Olives, as He was accustomed, and His disciples also followed Him. 40When He came to the place, He said to them, “Pray that you may not enter into temptation.” 41And He was withdrawn from them about a stone’s throw, and He knelt down and prayed, 42saying, “Father, if it is Your will, take this cup away from Me; never- D theless not My will, but Yours, be done.” 43Then an angel appeared to Him from g heaven, strengthening Him. 44And being ✴ ✴ ✴ ✴

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d Luke 22:31 — “Simon, Simon! Indeed, Satan has asked for you, that he may sift you as wheat.”

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hen Peter denied Jesus three times, Satan was invisibly working behind the scenes to encourage his spiritual failure. We must always remain on the alert to detect the activity of our adversary (see 1 Pet. 5:8). d Luke 22:43 — An angel appeared to Him from heaven, strengthening Him.

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uring Jesus’ most difficult hour, when He had to make the final decision to accept His Father’s will and march to the cross, God sent Him angelic help to encourage Him. He will always give us just what we need.


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539 in agony, He prayed more earnestly. Then His sweat became like great drops of blood falling down to the ground. 45When He rose up from prayer, and

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had come to His disciples, He found them sleeping from sorrow. 46Then He said to them, “Why do you sleep? Rise and pray, lest you enter into temptation.” M AY 5

1 Samuel 12:1—13:23

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Now Samuel said to all Israel: “Indeed I have heeded your voice in all that you said to me, and have made a king over you. 2And now here is the king, walking before you; and I am old and grayheaded, and look, my sons are with you. I have walked before you from d my childhood to this day. 3Here I am. Witness against me before the LORD and before His anointed: Whose ox have I taken, or whose donkey have I taken, or whom have I cheated? Whom have I oppressed, or from whose hand have I received any bribe with which to blind my eyes? I will restore it to you.” 4And they said, “You have not cheated us or oppressed us, nor have you taken anything from any man’s hand.” 5Then he said to them, “The LORD is witness against you, and His anointed is witness this day, that you have not found anything in my hand.” And they answered, “He is witness.” 6Then Samuel said to the people, “It is the LORD who raised up Moses and Aaron, and who brought your fathers up from the land of Egypt. 7Now therefore, stand still, that I may reason with you before the LORD concerning all the righteous acts of the LORD which He did to you and your fathers: 8When Jacob had gone into Egypt, and your fathers cried out to the LORD, then the LORD sent ✴ ✴ ✴ ✴

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ntegrity—the consuming desire to acknowledge and obey the Father in conjunction with a readiness to confess and repent of sin—testifies to our private and public behavior. Integrity leaves no ground for accusation.

Moses and Aaron, who brought your fathers out of Egypt and made them dwell in this place. 9And when they forgot the LORD their God, He sold them into the hand of Sisera, commander of the army of Hazor, into the hand of the Philistines, and into the hand of the king of Moab; and they fought against them. 10Then they cried out to the LORD, and said, ‘We have sinned, because we have forsaken the LORD and served the Baals and Ashtoreths; but now deliver us from the hand of our enemies, and we will serve You.’ 11And the LORD sent Jerubbaal, Bedan, Jephthah, and Samuel, and delivered you out of the hand of your enemies on every side; and you dwelt in safety. 12And when you saw that Nahash king of the Ammonites came against you, you said to me, ‘No, but a king shall reign over us,’ when the LORD your God was your king. 13“Now therefore, here is the king whom you have chosen and whom you have desired. And take note, the LORD has set a king over you. 14If you fear the LORD and serve Him and obey His voice, and do not rebel against the commandment of the LORD, then both you and the king who reigns over you will continue following the LORD your God. 15However, if you do not obey the voice of the LORD, but rebel against the commandment of the LORD, then the hand of the LORD will be against you, as it was against your fathers. 16“Now therefore, stand and see this great thing which the LORD will do before your eyes: 17Is today not the wheat harvest? I will call to the LORD, and He will send thunder and rain, that you may perceive and see that your wickedness is great, which you have done in the sight of the LORD, in asking a king for yourselves.” 18So Samuel called to the LORD, and the LORD sent thunder and rain that day; and all the people greatly feared the LORD and Samuel.


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ow often do we go after “empty things” that can neither bless nor deliver us? Even if we get these things, we end up with precisely nothing. However, we have a God who loves us, reveals Himself to us, and communicates with us. He never forsakes us when we seek Him. That’s why intimacy with God should always be our highest priority.

19And all the people said to Samuel, “Pray for your servants to the LORD your God, that we may not die; for we have added to all our sins the evil of asking a king for ourselves.” 20Then Samuel said to the people, “Do not fear. You have done all this wickedness; yet do not turn aside from following the LORD, but serve the LORD with all d your heart. 21And do not turn aside; for then you would go after empty things which cannot profit or deliver, for they are

ANSWERS TO LIFE’S QUESTIONS

What does the Bible say to lonely people? 1 SAMUEL 12:22

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ime and again throughout the Old Testament, we find the Lord reaching out to His people, revealing Himself to them, desiring to be with them and to communicate with them. In 1 Samuel 12:22, we find this promise of God: “The LORD will not forsake His people, for His great name’s sake, because it has pleased the LORD to make you His people.” God desires companionship, fellowship, and communion with those who will reciprocate His expressions of friendship. We can count on the close communion of the Lord, even if everyone else abandons us. We see this in the life of Jesus. On the very night He was arrested and put on trial—trial that led to His crucifixion—He said to His disciples, “Indeed the hour is coming, yes, has now come, that you will be scattered, each to his own, and will leave Me alone.” Can you hear the pain in that statement? Jesus knew what it was to be lonely! But then He said, “And yet I

nothing. 22For the LORD will not forsake His people, for His great name’s sake, because it has pleased the LORD to make you His people. 23Moreover, as for me, far be it from me that I should sin against the LORD in ceasing to pray for you; but I will teach you the good and the right way. 24Only fear the LORD, and serve Him in truth with all your heart; for consider what great things He has done for you. 25But if you still do wickedly, you shall be swept away, both you and your king.” Saul reigned one year; and when he had reigned two years over Israel, 2Saul chose for himself three thousand men of Israel. Two thousand were with Saul in Michmash and in the mountains of Bethel, and a thousand were with Jonathan in Gibeah of Benjamin. The rest of the people he sent away, every man to his tent. 3And Jonathan attacked the garrison of the Philistines that was in Geba, and the Philistines heard of it. Then Saul blew the trumpet throughout all the land, saying, “Let the Hebrews hear!” 4Now all Israel heard it said that Saul had attacked a garrison of the Philistines, and

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am not alone, because the Father is with Me” (John 16:32). Jesus knew what it was to be comforted even in the face of abandonment. When loneliness engulfs us, the first thing we must do is to turn our focus away from what we don’t have to what we do have. What do we have, you may ask? God Himself! You can never be alone once you have trusted in Jesus Christ as your Savior. He promises that He dwells within you when you have received Him into your life and that He is connected to you, just as a vine and a branch are connected. In the same way that sap flows through a vine and its branches, so too the love of Christ flows in you and through you. He abides in you, and you abide in Him. You are one being with Christ. You share with him the most intimate relationship possible—an eternal, spiritual intimacy (see John 15:1–9). The depth of that intimacy, to a great extent, is up to you. How much do you desire that intimacy with the Lord? How much do you allow Him to fill you up with His presence? How willing are you for Him to reveal Himself to you? Even so, you can never totally isolate yourself from the Lord. He is always there, desiring to move ever closer to you.

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ven before Samuel had anointed David as the next king of Israel— even before Samuel had met the boy— the Lord had “commanded” David to lead Israel. God has a plan for us, long before we see it. And even though David had to wait a long time to become king, he trusted that God always works on behalf of those who wait for Him.

that Israel had also become an abomination to the Philistines. And the people were called together to Saul at Gilgal. 5Then the Philistines gathered together to fight with Israel, thirty thousand chariots and six thousand horsemen, and people as the sand which is on the seashore in multitude. And they came up and encamped in Michmash, to the east of Beth Aven. 6When the men of Israel saw that they were in danger (for the people were distressed), then the people hid in caves, in thickets, in rocks, in holes, and in pits. 7And some of the Hebrews crossed over the Jordan to the land of Gad and Gilead. As for Saul, he was still in Gilgal, and all the people followed him trembling. 8Then he waited seven days, according to the time set by Samuel. But Samuel did not come to Gilgal; and the people were scattered from him. 9So Saul said, “Bring a burnt offering and peace offerings here to me.” And he offered the burnt offering. 10Now it happened, as soon as he had finished presenting the burnt offering, that Samuel came; and Saul went out to meet him, that he might greet him. 11And Samuel said, “What have you done?” Saul said, “When I saw that the people were scattered from me, and that you did not come within the days appointed, and that the Philistines gathered together at Michmash, 12then I said, ‘The Philistines will now come down on me at Gilgal, and I have not made supplication to the LORD.’ Therefore I felt compelled, and offered a burnt offering.” 13And Samuel said to Saul, “You have done foolishly. You have not kept the commandment of the LORD your God,

which He commanded you. For now the LORD would have established your kingdom over Israel forever. 14But now your g kingdom shall not continue. The LORD has sought for Himself a man after His own heart, and the LORD has commanded him to be commander over His people, because you have not kept what the LORD commanded you.” 15Then Samuel arose and went up from Gilgal to Gibeah of Benjamin. And Saul numbered the people present with him, about six hundred men. 16Saul, Jonathan his son, and the people present with them remained in Gibeah of Benjamin. But the Philistines encamped in Michmash. 17Then raiders came out of the camp of the Philistines in three companies. One company turned onto the road to Ophrah, to the land of Shual, 18another company turned to the road to Beth Horon, and another company turned to the road of the border that overlooks the Valley of Zeboim toward the wilderness. 19Now there was no blacksmith to be found throughout all the land of Israel, for the Philistines said, “Lest the Hebrews make swords or spears.” 20But all the Israelites would go down to the Philistines to sharpen each man’s plowshare, his mattock, his ax, and his sickle; 21and the charge for a sharpening was a pim for the plowshares, the mattocks, the forks, and the axes, and to set the points of the goads. 22So it came about, on the day of battle, that there was neither sword nor spear found in the hand of any of the people who were with Saul and Jonathan. But they were found with Saul and Jonathan his son. 23And the garrison of the Philistines went out to the pass of Michmash.

Psalm 56:1–13 To the Chief Musician. Set to “The Silent Dove in Distant Lands.” A Michtam of David when the Philistines captured him in Gath. 1

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Be merciful to me, O God, for man would swallow me up; Fighting all day he oppresses me. My enemies would hound me all day, For there are many who fight against me, O Most High.


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542 But a man of understanding walks uprightly.

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d Psalm 56:3 — Whenever I am afraid, I will trust in You.

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Without counsel, plans go awry, But in the multitude of counselors they are established.

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A man has joy by the answer of his mouth, And a word spoken in due season, how good it is!

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he psalmist does not say, “If something ever scares me,” he says, “Whenever I am afraid.” Fear is a natural human reaction to danger. God does not tell us to ignore our fears, but to bring them to Him.

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Whenever I am afraid, I will trust in You. In God (I will praise His word), In God I have put my trust; I will not fear. What can flesh do to me? All day they twist my words; All their thoughts are against me for evil. They gather together, They hide, they mark my steps, When they lie in wait for my life. Shall they escape by iniquity? In anger cast down the peoples, O God! You number my wanderings; Put my tears into Your bottle; Are they not in Your book? When I cry out to You, Then my enemies will turn back; This I know, because God is for me. In God (I will praise His word), In the LORD (I will praise His word), In God I have put my trust; I will not be afraid. What can man do to me? Vows made to You are binding upon me, O God; I will render praises to You, For You have delivered my soul from death. Have You not kept my feet from falling, That I may walk before God In the light of the living?

Proverbs 15:21–23 21

Folly is joy to him who is destitute of discernment,

Luke 22:47–71 47And while He was still speaking, behold, a multitude; and he who was called Judas, one of the twelve, went before them and drew near to Jesus to kiss Him. 48But Jesus said to him, “Judas, are you betraying the Son of Man with a kiss?” 49When those around Him saw what was going to happen, they said to Him, “Lord, shall we strike with the sword?” 50And one of them struck the servant of the high priest and cut off his right ear. 51But Jesus answered and said, “Permit even this.” And He touched his ear and healed him. 52Then Jesus said to the chief priests, captains of the temple, and the elders who had come to Him, “Have you come out, as against a robber, with swords and clubs? 53When I was with you daily in the temple, you did not try to seize Me. But this is your hour, and the power of darkness.” 54Having arrested Him, they led Him and brought Him into the high priest’s house. But Peter followed at a distance. 55Now when they had kindled a fire in the midst of the courtyard and sat down together, Peter sat among them. 56And a ✴ ✴ ✴ ✴

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ince none of us has an unlimited perspective, we need to invite multiple viewpoints outside of our own to inform our most important decisions and plans. God often uses the perspective of others to show us His will.

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543 certain servant girl, seeing him as he sat by the fire, looked intently at him and said, “This man was also with Him.” 57But he denied Him, saying, “Woman, I do not know Him.” 58And after a little while another saw him and said, “You also are of them.” But Peter said, “Man, I am not!” 59Then after about an hour had passed, another confidently affirmed, saying, “Surely this fellow also was with Him, for he is a Galilean.” 60But Peter said, “Man, I do not know what you are saying!” Immediately, while he was still speakd ing, the rooster crowed. 61And the Lord turned and looked at Peter. Then Peter remembered the word of the Lord, how He had said to him, “Before the rooster crows, you will deny Me three times.” 62So Peter went out and wept bitterly. 63Now the men who held Jesus mocked Him and beat Him. 64And having blindfolded Him, they struck Him on the face and asked Him, saying, “Prophesy! Who is the one who struck You?” 65And many other things they blasphemously spoke against Him. 66As soon as it was day, the elders of

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hat kind of look was it? A look that said, “I told you so”? One that expressed compassion? Disappointment? Resignation? Sorrow? We don’t know. We only know that Jesus used it to remind Peter of His prophetic word, and that look caused Peter to weep.

the people, both chief priests and scribes, came together and led Him into their council, saying, 67“If You are the Christ, tell us.” But He said to them, “If I tell you, you will by no means believe. 68And if I also ask you, you will by no means answer Me or let Me go. 69Hereafter the Son of Man will sit on the right hand of the power of God.” 70Then they all said, “Are You then the Son of God?” So He said to them, “You rightly say that I am.” 71And they said, “What further testimony do we need? For we have heard it ourselves from His own mouth.”

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1 Samuel 14:1—15:35

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Now it happened one day that Jonathan the son of Saul said to the young man who bore his armor, “Come, let us go over to the Philistines’ garrison that is on the other side.” But he did not tell his father. 2And Saul was sitting in the outskirts of Gibeah under a pomegranate tree which is in Migron. The people who were with him were about six hundred men. 3Ahijah the son of Ahitub, Ichabod’s brother, the son of Phinehas, the son of Eli, the LORD’s priest in Shiloh, was wearing an ephod. But the people did not know that Jonathan had gone. 4Between the passes, by which Jonathan sought to go over to the Philistines’ garrison, there was a sharp rock on one side and a sharp rock on the other side. And the name of one was

Bozez, and the name of the other Seneh. front of one faced northward opposite Michmash, and the other southward opposite Gibeah. 6Then Jonathan said to the young man g who bore his armor, “Come, let us go over to the garrison of these uncircumcised; it 5The

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onathan had a spirit very different from that of his father. Saul feared men; Jonathan feared God. Jonathan had no idea how God would validate the words he had spoken. However, Jonathan’s faith made it possible for the Lord to do mighty things through him. When we move ahead in faith, we likewise have no idea how God may move in power on our behalf (see Eph. 3:20).


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M AY 6 may be that the LORD will work for us. For nothing restrains the LORD from saving by many or by few.” 7So his armorbearer said to him, “Do all that is in your heart. Go then; here I am with you, according to your heart.” 8Then Jonathan said, “Very well, let us cross over to these men, and we will show ourselves to them. 9If they say thus to us, ‘Wait until we come to you,’ then we will stand still in our place and not go up to them. 10But if they say thus, ‘Come up to us,’ then we will go up. For the LORD has delivered them into our hand, and this will be a sign to us.” 11So both of them showed themselves to the garrison of the Philistines. And the Philistines said, “Look, the Hebrews are coming out of the holes where they have hidden.” 12Then the men of the garrison called to Jonathan and his armorbearer, and said, “Come up to us, and we will show you something.” Jonathan said to his armorbearer, “Come up after me, for the LORD has delivered them into the hand of Israel.” 13And Jonathan climbed up on his hands and knees with his armorbearer after him; and they fell before Jonathan. And as he came after him, his armorbearer killed them. 14That first slaughter which Jonathan and his armorbearer made was about twenty men within about half an acre of land. 15And there was trembling in the camp, in the field, and among all the people. The garrison and the raiders also trembled; and the earth quaked, so that it was a very great trembling. 16Now the watchmen of Saul in Gibeah of Benjamin looked, and there was the multitude, melting away; and they went here and there. 17Then Saul said to the people who were with him, “Now call the roll and see who has gone from us.” And when they had called the roll, surprisingly, Jonathan and his armorbearer were not there. 18And Saul said to Ahijah, “Bring the ark of God here” (for at that time the ark of God was with the children of Israel). 19Now it happened, while Saul talked to the priest, that the noise which was in the camp of the Philistines continued to increase; so Saul said to the priest, “Withdraw your hand.” 20Then Saul and all the people who were with him assembled, and they went to the

544 battle; and indeed every man’s sword was against his neighbor, and there was very great confusion. 21Moreover the Hebrews who were with the Philistines before that time, who went up with them into the camp from the surrounding country, they also joined the Israelites who were with Saul and Jonathan. 22Likewise all the men of Israel who had hidden in the mountains of Ephraim, when they heard that the Philistines fled, they also followed hard after them in the battle. 23So the LORD saved Israel that day, and the battle shifted to Beth Aven. 24And the men of Israel were distressed that day, for Saul had placed the people under oath, saying, “Cursed is the man who eats any food until evening, before I have taken vengeance on my enemies.” So none of the people tasted food. 25Now all the people of the land came to a forest; and there was honey on the ground. 26And when the people had come into the woods, there was the honey, dripping; but no one put his hand to his mouth, for the people feared the oath. 27But Jonathan had not heard his father charge the people with the oath; therefore he stretched out the end of the rod that was in his hand and dipped it in a honeycomb, and put his hand to his mouth; and his countenance brightened. 28Then one of the people said, “Your father strictly charged the people with an oath, saying, ‘Cursed is the man who eats food this day.’ ” And the people were faint. 29But Jonathan said, “My father has troubled the land. Look now, how my countenance has brightened because I tasted a little of this honey. 30How much better if the people had eaten freely today of the spoil of their enemies which they found! For now would there not have been a much greater slaughter among the Philistines?” 31Now they had driven back the Philistines that day from Michmash to Aijalon. So the people were very faint. 32And the people rushed on the spoil, and took sheep, oxen, and calves, and slaughtered them on the ground; and the people ate them with the blood. 33Then they told Saul, saying, “Look, the people are sinning against the LORD by eating with the blood!” So he said, “You have dealt treacher-


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545 ously; roll a large stone to me this day.” 34Then Saul said, “Disperse yourselves among the people, and say to them, ‘Bring me here every man’s ox and every man’s sheep, slaughter them here, and eat; and do not sin against the LORD by eating with the blood.’ ” So every one of the people brought his ox with him that night, and slaughtered it there. 35Then Saul built an altar to the LORD. This was the first altar that he built to the LORD. 36Now Saul said, “Let us go down after the Philistines by night, and plunder them until the morning light; and let us not leave a man of them.” And they said, “Do whatever seems good to you.” Then the priest said, “Let us draw near to God here.” 37So Saul asked counsel of God, “Shall I go down after the Philistines? Will You deliver them into the hand of Israel?” But He did not answer him that day. 38And Saul said, “Come over here, all you chiefs of the people, and know and see what this sin was today. 39For as the LORD lives, who saves Israel, though it be in Jonathan my son, he shall surely die.” But not a man among all the people answered him. 40Then he said to all Israel, “You be on one side, and my son Jonathan and I will be on the other side.” And the people said to Saul, “Do what seems good to you.” 41Therefore Saul said to the LORD God of Israel, “Give a perfect lot.” So Saul and Jonathan were taken, but the people escaped. 42And Saul said, “Cast lots between my son Jonathan and me.” So Jonathan was taken. 43Then Saul said to Jonathan, “Tell me what you have done.” And Jonathan told him, and said, “I only tasted a little honey with the end of the rod that was in my hand. So now I must die!” 44Saul answered, “God do so and more also; for you shall surely die, Jonathan.” 45But the people said to Saul, “Shall Jonathan die, who has accomplished this great deliverance in Israel? Certainly not! As the LORD lives, not one hair of his head shall fall to the ground, for he has worked with God this day.” So the people rescued Jonathan, and he did not die.

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46Then Saul returned from pursuing the Philistines, and the Philistines went to their own place. 47So Saul established his sovereignty over Israel, and fought against all his enemies on every side, against Moab, against the people of Ammon, against Edom, against the kings of Zobah, and against the Philistines. Wherever he turned, he harassed them. 48And he gathered an army and attacked the Amalekites, and delivered Israel from the hands of those who plundered them. 49The sons of Saul were Jonathan, Jishui, and Malchishua. And the names of his two daughters were these: the name of the firstborn Merab, and the name of the younger Michal. 50The name of Saul’s wife was Ahinoam the daughter of Ahimaaz. And the name of the commander of his army was Abner the son of Ner, Saul’s uncle. 51Kish was the father of Saul, and Ner the father of Abner was the son of Abiel. 52Now there was fierce war with the Philistines all the days of Saul. And when Saul saw any strong man or any valiant man, he took him for himself. Samuel also said to Saul, “The LORD sent me to anoint you king over His people, over Israel. Now therefore, heed the voice of the words of the LORD. 2Thus says the LORD of hosts: ‘I will punish Amalek for what he did to Israel, how he ambushed him on the way when he came up from Egypt. 3Now go and attack Amalek, and utterly destroy all that they have, and do not spare them. But kill both man and woman, infant and nursing child, ox and sheep, camel and donkey.’ ” 4So Saul gathered the people together and numbered them in Telaim, two hundred thousand foot soldiers and ten thousand men of Judah. 5And Saul came to a city of Amalek, and lay in wait in the valley. 6Then Saul said to the Kenites, “Go, depart, get down from among the Amalekites, lest I destroy you with them. For you showed kindness to all the children of Israel when they came up out of Egypt.” So the Kenites departed from among the Amalekites. 7And Saul attacked the Amalekites, from Havilah all the way to Shur, which is east of Egypt.

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also took Agag king of the Amalekites alive, and utterly destroyed all the people with the edge of the sword. 9But Saul and the people spared Agag and the best of the sheep, the oxen, the fatlings, the lambs, and all that was good, and were unwilling to utterly destroy them. But everything despised and worthless, that they utterly destroyed. 10Now the word of the LORD came to Samuel, saying, 11“I greatly regret that I have set up Saul as king, for he has turned back from following Me, and has not performed My commandments.” And it grieved Samuel, and he cried out to the d LORD all night. 12So when Samuel rose early in the morning to meet Saul, it was told Samuel, saying, “Saul went to Carmel, and indeed, he set up a monument for himself; and he has gone on around, passed by, and gone down to Gilgal.” 13Then Samuel went to Saul, and Saul said to him, “Blessed are you of the LORD! I have performed the commandment of the LORD.” 14But Samuel said, “What then is this bleating of the sheep in my ears, and the lowing of the oxen which I hear?” 15And Saul said, “They have brought them from the Amalekites; for the people spared the best of the sheep and the oxen, to sacrifice to the LORD your God; and the rest we have utterly destroyed.” 16Then Samuel said to Saul, “Be quiet! And I will tell you what the LORD said to me last night.” And he said to him, “Speak on.” 17So Samuel said, “When you were little in your own eyes, were you not head of the tribes of Israel? And did not the LORD anoint you king over Israel? 18Now the LORD sent you on a mission, and said, ‘Go, and utterly destroy the sinners, the Amalekites, and fight against them until they are consumed.’ 19Why then did you not obey the voice of the LORD? Why did you swoop down on the spoil, and do evil in the sight of the LORD?” 20And Saul said to Samuel, “But I have obeyed the voice of the LORD, and gone on the mission on which the LORD sent me, and brought back Agag king of Amalek; I have utterly destroyed the Amalekites. 21But the people took of the plunder, sheep and oxen, the best of the things which should have been

546 utterly destroyed, to sacrifice to the LORD your God in Gilgal.” 22So Samuel said: g

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“Has the LORD as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, As in obeying the voice of the LORD? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, And to heed than the fat of rams. For rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft, And stubbornness is as iniquity and idolatry. Because you have rejected the word of the LORD, He also has rejected you from being king.”

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he young man who once thought of himself as small has now set up a monument to honor himself. When we cease to follow the Lord wholeheartedly, we follow our prideful hearts to our own destruction. d 1 Samuel 15:22 — “To obey is better than sacrifice, and to heed than the fat of rams.”

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ur heavenly Father places a high value on obedience, preferring it even to outward expressions of worship. In fact, our obedience is the ultimate expression of worship and service. d 1 Samuel 15:24 — “I have sinned, for I . . . feared the people and obeyed their voice.”

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aul recognized fear as a real problem in his life, but he did nothing about it. The best way to deal with our fear of people is to nurture a greater fear and love of God by meditating on His works and words.


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What role does obedience play in a mature Christian’s life? 1 SAMUEL 15:22

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hose who know the greatness and goodness of God—and those who seek to identify fully with Christ’s life—have a great passion to obey God. Obedience is active, not passive. It is a joyful “living out” of what we know to be true, right, and good. It is to follow the Lord daily, saying and doing what Jesus would do if He were living in our place. Obedience is total submission to what God desires. Our heavenly Father places a high value on obedience. He prefers it even to sacrifice, or the outward expression of worship (see 1 Sam. 15:22). In fact, our obedience is the ultimate expression of worship and service (see Prov. 21:3). A mature Christian expresses a passion to obey God in three general ways: 1. A hunger to know the Bible. To know what God requires of us, we must know what He has commanded. God’s commandments have not changed through the ages, nor have they been altered according to

don my sin, and return with me, that I may worship the LORD.” 26But Samuel said to Saul, “I will not return with you, for you have rejected the word of the LORD, and the LORD has rejected you from being king over Israel.” 27And as Samuel turned around to go away, Saul seized the edge of his robe, and it tore. 28So Samuel said to him, “The LORD has torn the kingdom of Israel from you today, and has given it to a neighbor of yours, who is better than you. 29And also the Strength of Israel will not lie nor relent. For He is not a man, that He should relent.” 30Then he said, “I have sinned; yet honor me now, please, before the elders of my people and before Israel, and return with me, that I may worship the LORD your God.” 31So Samuel turned back after Saul, and Saul worshiped the LORD. 32Then Samuel said, “Bring Agag king of the Amalekites here to me.” So Agag came to him cautiously. And Agag said, “Surely the bitterness of death is past.”

culture, custom, or technological advances. God’s Word is absolute and enduring (see Josh. 24:24; Ps. 119:15, 16, 105, 106; 143:10). 2. A passion to live in righteousness. Very simply, living in righteousness is doing what is “right” before the Lord. It is gladly keeping His commandments and statutes. It is turning way from sin and toward what is holy and acceptable to God (see Ps. 97:10–12; Prov. 11:30; 12:12, 13; Rom. 2:7–10; Heb. 12:1, 2). 3. A passion to receive daily direction from the Lord. To have a heart for obedience is to have a deep desire to receive daily direction from the Holy Spirit. To obey is to “walk in His ways,” step by step—trusting that God is leading you and that He will correct you should you make an error. We must observe what God is doing around us and daily ask Him, “What is my role?” (see Ps. 25:4, 5; 141:3, 4, 8–10; Jer. 42:1–6). Ultimately, these three desires work together. The more we explore God’s Word, the greater our understanding of righteousness and how the Holy Spirit works in us. The more we trust the Holy Spirit, the more He reminds us of God’s Word and leads us into righteousness. The more we desire to be “right” before the Father, the more we will want to read His Word and listen for His voice.

33But Samuel said, “As your sword has made women childless, so shall your mother be childless among women.” And Samuel hacked Agag in pieces before the LORD in Gilgal. 34Then Samuel went to Ramah, and Saul went up to his house at Gibeah of Saul. 35And Samuel went no more to see Saul until the day of his death. Nevertheless Samuel mourned for Saul, and the LORD regretted that He had made Saul king over Israel.

Psalm 57:1–3 To the Chief Musician. Set to “Do Not Destroy.” A Michtam of David when he fled from Saul into the cave. 1

Be merciful to me, O God, be g merciful to me! For my soul trusts in You; D And in the shadow of Your wings I will make my refuge, Until these calamities have passed by.


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ven when God doesn’t keep us from calamity, He invites us to make Him our refuge while we pass through the calamity. Adversity is a bridge to a deeper relationship with God.

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I will cry out to God Most High, To God who performs all things for me. He shall send from heaven and save me; He reproaches the one who would swallow me up. Selah God shall send forth His mercy and His truth.

Proverbs 15:24–25 24

The way of life winds upward for the wise, That he may turn away from hell below.

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The LORD will destroy the house of the proud, But He will establish the boundary of the widow.

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Luke 23:1–25

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Then the whole multitude of them arose and led Him to Pilate. 2And they began to accuse Him, saying, “We found this fellow perverting the nation, and forbidding to pay taxes to Caesar, saying that He Himself is Christ, a King.” 3Then Pilate asked Him, saying, “Are You the King of the Jews?” answered him and said, “It is as D youHe say.” 4So Pilate said to the chief priests and the crowd, “I find no fault in this Man.” 5But they were the more fierce, saying, “He stirs up the people, teaching throughout all Judea, beginning from Galilee to this place.” 6When Pilate heard of Galilee, he

asked if the Man were a Galilean. 7And as soon as he knew that He belonged to Herod’s jurisdiction, he sent Him to Herod, who was also in Jerusalem at that time. 8Now when Herod saw Jesus, he g was exceedingly glad; for he had desired for a long time to see Him, because he had heard many things about Him, and he hoped to see some miracle done by Him. 9Then he questioned Him with many words, but He answered him nothing. 10And the chief priests and scribes stood and vehemently accused Him. 11Then Herod, with his men of war, treated Him with contempt and mocked Him, arrayed Him in a gorgeous robe, and sent Him back to Pilate. 12That very day Pilate and Herod became friends with each other, for previously they had been at enmity with each other. 13Then Pilate, when he had called together the chief priests, the rulers, and the people, 14said to them, “You have brought this Man to me, as one who misleads the people. And indeed, having examined Him in your presence, I have found no fault in this Man concerning those things of which you accuse Him; 15no, neither did Herod, for I sent you back to him; and indeed nothing deserving of death has been done by Him. 16I will therefore chastise Him and release Him” 17(for it was necessary for him to release one to them at the feast). 18And they all cried out at once, saying, “Away with this Man, and release to us Barabbas”— 19who had been thrown into prison for a certain rebellion made in the city, and for murder. 20Pilate, therefore, wishing to release Jesus, again called out to them. 21But they shouted, saying, “Crucify Him, crucify Him!” 22Then he said to them the third time, ✴ ✴ ✴ ✴

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erod had no interest in Jesus the Messiah or Jesus the Savior; he simply wanted to see a magic show. Jesus refused to speak a single word to the king. No one can ever manipulate Him into doing their bidding


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549 “Why, what evil has He done? I have found no reason for death in Him. I will therefore chastise Him and let Him go.” 23But they were insistent, demanding with loud voices that He be crucified. And the voices of these men and of the

chief priests prevailed. 24So Pilate gave sentence that it should be as they requested. 25And he released to them the one they requested, who for rebellion and murder had been thrown into prison; but he delivered Jesus to their will. M AY 7

1 Samuel 16:1—17:58

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Now the LORD said to Samuel, “How long will you mourn for Saul, seeing I have rejected him from reigning over Israel? Fill your horn with oil, and go; I am sending you to Jesse the Bethlehemite. For I have provided Myself a king among his sons.” 2And Samuel said, “How can I go? If Saul hears it, he will kill me.” But the LORD said, “Take a heifer with you, and say, ‘I have come to sacrifice to the LORD.’ 3Then invite Jesse to the sacrifice, and I will show you what you shall do; you shall anoint for Me the one I name to you.” 4So Samuel did what the LORD said, and went to Bethlehem. And the elders of the town trembled at his coming, and said, “Do you come peaceably?” 5And he said, “Peaceably; I have come to sacrifice to the LORD. Sanctify yourselves, and come with me to the sacrifice.” Then he consecrated Jesse and his sons, and invited them to the sacrifice. 6So it was, when they came, that he looked at Eliab and said, “Surely the LORD’s anointed is before Him!” 7But the LORD said to Samuel, “Do d not look at his appearance or at his physical stature, because I have refused him. For the LORD does not see as man sees; for man looks at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart.” 8So Jesse called Abinadab, and made him pass before Samuel. And he said, “Neither has the LORD chosen this one.” 9Then Jesse made Shammah pass by. And he said, “Neither has the LORD chosen this one.” 10Thus Jesse made seven of his sons pass before Samuel. And Samuel said to Jesse, “The LORD has not chosen these.” 11And Samuel said to Jesse, “Are all the young men here?”

Then he said, “There remains yet the youngest, and there he is, keeping the sheep.” And Samuel said to Jesse, “Send and bring him. For we will not sit down till he comes here.” 12So he sent and brought him in. Now he was ruddy, with bright eyes, and good-looking. And the LORD said, “Arise, anoint him; for this is the one!” 13Then Samuel took the horn of oil and anointed him in the midst of his brothers; and the Spirit of the LORD came upon David from that day forward. So Samuel arose and went to Ramah. 14But the Spirit of the LORD departed from Saul, and a distressing spirit from the LORD troubled him. 15And Saul’s servants said to him, “Surely, a distressing spirit from God is troubling you. 16Let our master now command your servants, who are before you, to seek out a man who is a skillful player on the harp. And it shall be that he will play it with his hand when the distressing spirit from God is upon you, and you shall be well.” 17So Saul said to his servants, “Provide me now a man who can play well, and bring him to me.” 18Then one of the servants answered and said, “Look, I have seen a son of ✴ ✴ ✴ ✴

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od could have told Samuel ahead of time what to do and who to anoint, but He didn’t. He recognized that even a godly man like Samuel couldn’t help but judge a man’s character by his appearance. This is why we must continually go to the Lord for His wisdom; only He sees the heart. He leads us one step at a time, teaching us to trust Him and to continually listen for His voice.


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s God sent Moses into the household of Pharaoh to train him for the future, so He sent David into Saul’s palace to train him for the future. However, David couldn’t succeed without the Spirit of the Lord any more than Saul could. We will enjoy true success only when we cooperate with the Lord by allowing His Spirit to fill us. Through the Spirit, God will always equip us for the tasks He gives us.

Jesse the Bethlehemite, who is skillful in playing, a mighty man of valor, a man of war, prudent in speech, and a handsome person; and the LORD is with him.” 19Therefore Saul sent messengers to d Jesse, and said, “Send me your son David, who is with the sheep.” 20And Jesse took a donkey loaded with bread, a skin of wine, and a young goat, and sent

ANSWERS TO LIFE’S QUESTIONS

What role does faith play in doing great things for God? 1 SAMUEL 17

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aith is believing that God will do as He has promised. Faith is not a power. It’s not something we have to drum up inside ourselves. Faith is trusting that God will honor His promises. That is all there is to it. The famous story of David and Goliath illustrates this as well as any. The armies of Israel had lined up on one side of the valley, while the Philistines had lined up on the other. Every day the giant warrior Goliath would walk down into the valley and taunt the armies of Israel. One day young David arrived on the scene with a fresh outlook. Notice what he said when he heard Goliath’s arrogant threats: “Who is this uncircumcised Philistine, that he should defy the armies of the living God?” (1 Sam. 17:26). David didn’t see Goliath as merely the enemy of Israel. He saw him as God’s enemy— and David knew that God could take Goliath out of the picture with no problem. So David acted on his faith. Hundreds, maybe even thousands, of Israelite soldiers had greater training to do bat-

them by his son David to Saul. 21So David came to Saul and stood before him. And he loved him greatly, and he became his armorbearer. 22Then Saul sent to Jesse, saying, “Please let David stand before me, for he has found favor in my sight.” 23And so it was, whenever the spirit from God was upon Saul, that David would take a harp and play it with his hand. Then Saul would become refreshed and well, and the distressing spirit would depart from him. Now the Philistines gathered their armies together to battle, and were gathered at Sochoh, which belongs to Judah; they encamped between Sochoh and Azekah, in Ephes Dammim. 2And Saul and the men of Israel were gathered together, and they encamped in the Valley of Elah, and drew up in battle array against the Philistines. 3The Philistines stood on a mountain on one side, and Israel stood on a mountain on the other side, with a valley between them. 4And a champion went out from the

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tle with Goliath than David. But they responded to the giant’s threats with paralyzing fear, stress, and anxious frustration. David, on the other hand, didn’t seem upset at all. Why not? Because he knew it was God’s battle, not his. Apart from the Lord, he knew he didn’t stand a chance. But with the help of the Lord, he knew that everything would turn out all right. Neither David nor the soldiers of Israel had the natural ability to defeat the giant. But while one party focused on its inability—and therefore panicked—the other party focused on God’s provision—and therefore remained confident. The only difference was focus. David did exactly what he knew how to do, while trusting God to do the rest. That is what living by faith boils down to: living in the confidence that God is supremely faithful to keep His word. So David gathered a few stones, walked down into the valley, carried on a short but heated exchange with Goliath, loaded, and then fired. He had taken those actions countless times before; nothing out of the ordinary there. But once that first stone left its sling, God stepped in to do what only He could do. And Goliath went down. That’s faith. And that’s where great things originate.


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551 camp of the Philistines, named Goliath, from Gath, whose height was six cubits and a span. 5He had a bronze helmet on his head, and he was armed with a coat of mail, and the weight of the coat was five thousand shekels of bronze. 6And he had bronze armor on his legs and a bronze javelin between his shoulders. 7Now the staff of his spear was like a weaver’s beam, and his iron spearhead weighed six hundred shekels; and a shield-bearer went before him. 8Then he stood and cried out to the armies of Israel, and said to them, “Why have you come out to line up for battle? Am I not a Philistine, and you the servants of Saul? Choose a man for yourselves, and let him come down to me. 9If he is able to fight with me and kill me, then we will be your servants. But if I prevail against him and kill him, then you shall be our servants and serve us.” 10And the Philistine said, “I defy the armies of Israel this day; give me a man, that we may fight together.” 11When Saul and all Israel heard these words of the Philistine, they were dismayed and greatly afraid. 12Now David was the son of that Ephrathite of Bethlehem Judah, whose name was Jesse, and who had eight sons. And the man was old, advanced in years, in the days of Saul. 13The three oldest sons of Jesse had gone to follow Saul to the battle. The names of his three sons who went to the battle were Eliab the firstborn, next to him Abinadab, and the third Shammah. 14David was the youngest. And the three oldest followed Saul. 15But David occasionally went and returned from Saul to feed his father’s sheep at Bethlehem. 16And the Philistine drew near and presented himself forty days, morning and evening. 17Then Jesse said to his son David, “Take now for your brothers an ephah of this dried grain and these ten loaves, and run to your brothers at the camp. 18And carry these ten cheeses to the captain of their thousand, and see how your brothers fare, and bring back news of them.” 19Now Saul and they and all the men of Israel were in the Valley of Elah, fighting with the Philistines. 20So David rose early in the morning, left the sheep with a keeper, and took the

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things and went as Jesse had commanded him. And he came to the camp as the army was going out to the fight and shouting for the battle. 21For Israel and the Philistines had drawn up in battle array, army against army. 22And David left his supplies in the hand of the supply keeper, ran to the army, and came and greeted his brothers. 23Then as he talked with them, there was the champion, the Philistine of Gath, Goliath by name, coming up from the armies of the Philistines; and he spoke according to the same words. So David heard them. 24And all the men of Israel, when they saw the man, fled from him and were dreadfully afraid. 25So the men of Israel said, “Have you seen this man who has come up? Surely he has come up to defy Israel; and it shall be that the man who kills him the king will enrich with great riches, will give him his daughter, and give his father’s house exemption from taxes in Israel.” 26Then David spoke to the men who stood by him, saying, “What shall be done for the man who kills this Philistine and takes away the reproach from Israel? For who is this uncircumcised Philistine, that he should defy the armies of the living God?” 27And the people answered him in this manner, saying, “So shall it be done for the man who kills him.” 28Now Eliab his oldest brother heard when he spoke to the men; and Eliab’s anger was aroused against David, and he said, “Why did you come down here? And with whom have you left those few sheep in the wilderness? I know your pride and the insolence of your heart, for you have come down to see the battle.” 29And David said, “What have I done now? Is there not a cause?” 30Then he turned from him toward another and said the same thing; and these people answered him as the first ones did. 31Now when the words which David spoke were heard, they reported them to Saul; and he sent for him. 32Then David said to Saul, “Let no man’s heart fail because of him; your servant will go and fight with this Philistine.” 33And Saul said to David, “You are not g able to go against this Philistine to fight with him; for you are a youth, and he a man of war from his youth.”


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d 1 Samuel 17:33 — “You are not able to go against this Philistine to fight with him.”

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aul allowed his fear of men to eclipse a godly fear of the Lord. Saul had trained himself to look at things only through the eyes of the flesh; he had no idea how to see with eyes of faith. Fear, left unchecked, can ruin us both spiritually and physically. How did David stay brave when facing Goliath? Because he feared and loved God more than he feared anything else. Trusting God means looking beyond what we can see to what God sees—that’s the key to success. d 1 Samuel 17:45 — “I come to you in the name of the LORD of hosts, the God of the armies of Israel.”

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aith is the Holy Spirit’s signal to go into action. David activated his faith before he activated his will. Before he began his walk into the valley, he exercised his faith in the Lord. A sword, a spear, and a javelin are no match for the Lord of hosts. David knew God was with him, and already he had seen what His presence could accomplish. 34But David said to Saul, “Your servant used to keep his father’s sheep, and when a lion or a bear came and took a lamb out of the flock, 35I went out after it and struck it, and delivered the lamb from its mouth; and when it arose against me, I caught it by its beard, and struck and killed it. 36Your servant has killed both lion and bear; and this uncircumcised Philistine will be like one of them, seeing he has defied the armies of the living God.” 37Moreover David said, “The LORD, who delivered me from the paw of the lion and from the paw of the bear, He will deliver me from the hand of this Philistine.” And Saul said to David, “Go, and the LORD be with you!” 38So Saul clothed David with his armor, and he put a bronze helmet on his head; he also clothed him with a coat of mail. 39David fastened his sword to his armor and tried to walk, for he had not tested them. And David said to Saul, “I cannot walk with these, for I have not tested them.” So David took them off.

40Then he took his staff in his hand; and he chose for himself five smooth stones from the brook, and put them in a shepherd’s bag, in a pouch which he had, and his sling was in his hand. And he drew near to the Philistine. 41So the Philistine came, and began drawing near to David, and the man who bore the shield went before him. 42And when the Philistine looked about and saw David, he disdained him; for he was only a youth, ruddy and good-looking. 43So the Philistine said to David, “Am I a dog, that you come to me with sticks?” And the Philistine cursed David by his gods. 44And the Philistine said to David, “Come to me, and I will give your flesh to the birds of the air and the beasts of the field!” 45Then David said to the Philistine, g “You come to me with a sword, with a spear, and with a javelin. But I come to you in the name of the LORD of hosts, the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defied. 46This day the LORD will deliver you into my hand, and I will strike you and take your head from you. D And this day I will give the carcasses of the camp of the Philistines to the birds of the air and the wild beasts of the earth, that all the earth may know that there is a God in Israel. 47Then all this assembly shall know that the LORD does not save with sword and spear; for the battle is the LORD’s, and He will give you into our hands.” 48So it was, when the Philistine arose and came and drew near to meet David, that David hurried and ran toward the army to meet the Philistine. 49Then David put his hand in his bag and took out a stone; and he slung it and struck the Philistine in his forehead, so that the stone sank into his forehead, and he fell on his face to the earth. 50So David prevailed over the Philistine with a sling and a stone, and struck the Philistine and killed him. But there was no sword in the hand of David. 51Therefore David ran and stood over the Philistine, took his sword and drew it out of its sheath and killed him, and cut off his head with it. And when the Philistines saw that their champion was dead, they fled. 52Now the men of Israel and Judah arose and shouted, and pursued the Philistines as far as the entrance of the valley and to


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553 the gates of Ekron. And the wounded of the Philistines fell along the road to Shaaraim, even as far as Gath and Ekron. 53Then the children of Israel returned from chasing the Philistines, and they plundered their tents. 54And David took the head of the Philistine and brought it to Jerusalem, but he put his armor in his tent. 55When Saul saw David going out against the Philistine, he said to Abner, the commander of the army, “Abner, whose son is this youth?” And Abner said, “As your soul lives, O king, I do not know.” 56So the king said, “Inquire whose son this young man is.” 57Then, as David returned from the slaughter of the Philistine, Abner took him and brought him before Saul with the head of the Philistine in his hand. 58And Saul said to him, “Whose son are you, young man?” So David answered, “I am the son of your servant Jesse the Bethlehemite.”

Psalm 57:4–11 4

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They have prepared a net for my steps; My soul is bowed down; They have dug a pit before me; Into the midst of it they themselves Selah have fallen.

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My heart is steadfast, O God, my heart is steadfast; I will sing and give praise. Awake, my glory! Awake, lute and harp! I will awaken the dawn.

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My soul is among lions; I lie among the sons of men Who are set on fire, Whose teeth are spears and arrows, And their tongue a sharp sword. Be exalted, O God, above the heavens; LetYour glory be above all the earth.

I will praise You, O Lord, among the peoples; I will sing to You among the nations.

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For Your mercy reaches unto the heavens, And Your truth unto the clouds.

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Be exalted, O God, above the heavens; LetYour glory be above all the earth.

Proverbs 15:26 26

The thoughts of the wicked are an abomination to the LORD, But the words of the pure are pleasant.

Luke 23:26–56 26Now as they led Him away, they laid hold of a certain man, Simon a Cyrenian, who was coming from the country, and on him they laid the cross that he might bear it after Jesus. 27And a great multitude of the people followed Him, and women who also mourned and lamented Him. 28But Jesus, turning to them, said, “Daughters of Jerusalem, do not weep for Me, but weep for yourselves and for your children. 29For indeed the days are coming in which they will say, ‘Blessed are the barren, wombs that never bore, and breasts which never nursed!’ 30Then they will begin ‘to say to the mountains, “Fall on us!” and to the hills, “Cover us!” ’ 31For if they do these things in the green wood, what will be done in the dry?” 32There were also two others, criminals, led with Him to be put to death. 33And when they had come to the place called Calvary, there they crucified Him, and the criminals, one on the right hand and the other on the left. 34Then Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they do.” And they divided His garments and cast lots. 35And the people stood looking on. But even the rulers with them sneered, saying, “He saved others; let Him save Himself if He is the Christ, the chosen of God.” 36The soldiers also mocked Him, coming and offering Him sour wine, 37and


The Charles F. Stanley Life Principles Daily Bible