Oct. 8 – A Tragic Day
Read 1 Samuel 4
Proverbs 19:3 declares, “The foolishness of man perverteth his way: and his heart fretteth against the Lord.” Thus was the case when the Philistines smote Israel. Israel’s sin led to their defeat, but instead of repenting, they grumble: “Wherefore hath the Lord smitten us today before the Philistines?” Rather than turning to Jehovah, they decide to take the ark of the covenant with them to the battlefield. Such is the folly of those who content themselves with an outward show of religion, though their hearts are far from God.
To Eli, the news of the slaughter of the Israelites and of the deaths of his sons pales in comparison to the tidings that the ark of God has been taken. When he hears that, the old man dies. Let’s learn from the sad end of this aged saint and avoid the sins that made his final years so bitter: he lacked self-control, fattening himself on the offerings of the people, and he similarly indulged his children rather than disciplining their sinful behavior. On this tragic day God began to execute the judgment of which he spoken to Eli, for those who honor him will he honor, but those who despise him shall be lightly esteemed (see 1 Sam. 2:30).
Sing or pray Psalter #26.
Oct. 9 – Jehovah’s Heavy Hand
Read 1 Samuel 5
The Philistines worshipped an image that had the hands and head of a man and the body of a fish. But though it had hands, the image of Dagon was incapable of handling (Ps. 115:7). In contrast, the Philistines were forced to acknowledge that the destruction that befell them was the work of Jehovah’s heavy hand (1 Sam. 5:6). Note how God used even the Philistines’ superstition for his own glory: because the severed head and hands of Dagon were found on the threshold, none stepped on that threshold for years to come. In that way Jehovah reminded every worshipper that entered Dagon’s temple of the complete helplessness of their idol, and generations of Philistines were left without excuse for changing “the glory of the uncorruptible God into an image made like to corruptible man” (Rom. 1:23).
Matthew Henry comments, “When Christ, the true Ark of the covenant, really enters the heart of fallen man…all idols will fall…sin will be forsaken….the Lord will claim and possess the throne. But pride, self-love, and worldly lusts…still remain within us, like the stump of Dagon. Let us watch and pray that they may not prevail. Let us seek to have them more entirely destroyed.”
Sing or pray Psalter #308.
Oct. 10 – The Ark Returned
Read 1 Samuel 6
The Philistines return the ark with a trespass offering: five golden emerods, or tumors, and five golden mice. But a man cannot give gold in exchange for his soul. Rather, “without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness of sins” (Heb. 9:22). The Philistines are quite sure that these plagues have come upon their bodies and their fields from Jehovah’s hand, but they would still like to think that they came by chance (1 Sam. 6:9). In contrast, the child of God rests in the knowledge that “all things come, not be chance, but by His fatherly hand” (HC, LD 10).
Bethshemesh was a city of priests, men who knew God’s instructions regarding the handling of the ark (Josh. 21:16). Consequently, they first treat the ark with a sort of reverence, setting it upon the large stone that dominated the landscape and offering the two cows as sacrifices to Jehovah. But then they remove the cover of the ark and look inside. God swiftly judges their impudence. Commentators debate the total number of people killed because the tallies of 70 and 50,000 are rendered separately in the original text, but the point is clear: our God swiftly and severely punishes rash, presumptuous sins.
Sing or pray Psalter #40.
Oct. 11 – Ebenezer
Read 1 Samuel 7
1 Samuel 7:2 ends with this phrase: “And all the house of Israel lamented after the Lord.” For twenty years Israel has served the Philistines while the worship of Jehovah languished. Now, in response to their lament, Samuel commands them to put away their idols. They obey. He then calls them to repent and recommit to Jehovah in a formal ceremony at Mizpeh. The Philistines assume that Israel has gathered for battle and attack. God’s people are terrified and cry to Samuel to pray for them. Samuel first offers a sacrifice, and, on the basis of that sacrifice, Jehovah hears his prayer and smites the Philistines. After the battle, Samuel sets up a great stone and calls it “Ebenezer,” which means “Hitherto [that is, “all the way until now”] hath the Lord helped us.” How had God helped them? First, by saving them from the enemy within by working repentance in their hearts. Second, by saving them from the enemy without.
When you consider your life, are you able to confess, “Here I raise my Ebenezer. Hither by thy help I come. And I hope by thy good pleasure safely to arrive at home?”
Sing or pray Psalter #47.
Oct. 12 – Make Us a King
Read 1 Samuel 8
1 Samuel 7 records a high point in the history of Israel. Jehovah had worked repentance in their hearts, and he rewarded that repentance with victory over their enemies. 1 Samuel 8 records a low point. In this chapter the elders of the people come to Samuel and demand a king. Samuel is troubled by their request. Instead of answering them immediately, he goes to God in prayer (v. 6). Let’s follow his example when we’re troubled and perplexed.
In obedience to the Lord, Samuel solemnly protests the people’s request, but they refuse to listen. Jehovah gratifies their request in his wrath, for in asking for a king they have not rejected Samuel and his sons, but Jehovah himself, “that I should not reign over them” (v. 7). Do we own Jehovah as our king? Do we willingly submit to his reign in all areas of our lives?
Sing or pray Psalter #394.
Oct. 13 – A Choice Young Man
Read 1 Samuel 9
In 1 Samuel 9 God brings to Samuel the man whom he must anoint king. And what a man he is! Young Saul is tall and handsome. Therefore we might presume that he was arrogant and self-centered, but not so. He honors his father not only in deed, but also in word, and his relationship with his servant is one of mutual respect. But this man of physical and social prowess is a spiritual weakling. Though Samuel had judged Israel for decades, Saul does not know or recognize him. Instead, he views God’s prophet as a good luck charm. Saul is not interested in the word of God: he only wonders if Samuel can help him locate his lost possessions. And he presumes that Samuel’s services can be bought with money
Why would Jehovah command Samuel to anoint such a man to be king of his people? In order that he might clearly show how desperately Israel needed a king who loved the Lord. That King would be typified in his father, David, who penned these prophetic words about the King after God’s own heart: “I delight to do thy will, O my God: yea, thy law is within my heart” (Ps. 40:7–8).
Sing or pray Psalter #111.
Oct. 14 – “By Me Kings Reign”
Read 1 Samuel 10
1 Samuel 10 can be divided into two parts. First, Samuel privately anoints Saul and foretells three signs that will take place that very day, confirming that his anointing is of the Lord. Then verses 17ff record the public assembly at which Saul is selected by lot to be king. Why did God have Samuel anoint Saul privately first? In order that Saul himself would know that he became king not by chance, but by God’s choosing. In the words of Daniel 4:17, “To the intent that the living may know that the most High ruleth in the kingdom of men, and giveth it to whomsoever he will, and setteth up over it the basest of men.”
Our God alone rules in the kingdom of men. He declares the end from the beginning and from ancient times things not yet done. His counsel shall stand, and he will accomplish all his purpose (Isa. 46:10). Do you believe that he is mighty enough to perfect that which concerns you, too? (Ps. 138:8)
Sing or pray Psalter #223.
Oct. 15 – The Spirit of God on Saul
Read 1 Samuel 11
In 1 Samuel 10:6 Samuel tells Saul, “And the Spirit of the Lord will come upon thee, and thou shalt…be turned into another man.” He adds, “For God is with thee” (v. 7), and v. 9 states, “And it was so, that…God gave him another heart.” But we know that later God removes his Spirit from Saul. Is not God’s grace irresistible? Doesn’t Jesus teach that the Holy Spirit abides with his people forever? (John 14:16)
Saul’s anointing with the Holy Spirit was not a saving work. Matthew Henry comments, “A new fire was kindled in his breast, such as he had never before been acquainted with: seeking the asses is quite out of his mind, and he thinks of nothing but fighting the Philistines, redressing the grievances of Israel, making laws, administering justice, and providing for the public safety; these are the things that now fill his head. He finds himself raised to such a pitch of boldness and bravery as he never thought he should be conscious of.” Though the Spirit empowered Saul to lead, note this: Saul does not desire to obey nor does he delight in God’s will any more than he did before. That is the fruit of the Spirit’s saving work in a person.
Sing or pray Psalter #391.
Oct. 16 – Only Fear the Lord
Read 1 Samuel 12
To demonstrate that God’s people were not justified in requesting a king, Samuel recounts Jehovah’s past faithfulness to them. He then reiterates a principle they knew from experience: obedience ensures blessedness, while disobedience brings ruin. But as a sign of his displeasure with their request, God sends a mighty thunderstorm at a time of year when such weather was very unusual. Shortly before Jehovah had discomfited the Philistines with thunder (1 Sam. 7:10). Now he visits his people with the same sign. Greatly afraid, they entreat Samuel to pray for them. “Now they see their need of him whom awhile ago they slighted. Thus many that will not have Christ to reign over them would yet be glad to have him intercede for them, to turn away the wrath of God” (Matthew Henry). Samuel typifies our Lord in his longsuffering response. He comforts, encourages, and reminds God’s people that Jehovah will not forsake them for his great name’s sake. And not only will Samuel pray for them – to do otherwise would be sin – he will continue to teach them as well.
Aren’t you thankful for the High Priest who unceasingly intercedes for us? And do you view prayer for God’s people to be your duty, as Samuel did?
Sing or pray Psalter #350.
Oct. 17 – “I Forced Myself”
Read 1 Samuel 13
Saul has reigned for two years, and he is in a predicament. His army of three thousand men, who, except for him and Jonathan, were armed only with crude farm tools—plowshares, sickles, and pickaxes—is deserting him. Why? Tens of thousands of Philistines are ready to engage Israel in battle, and Samuel, who promised to come and intercede for the Israelites’ victory, has not yet made an appearance. So Saul offers a burnt offering himself. We might sympathize with him. After all, we’re quick to excuse our sins just like Saul did: “The people were scattering! I thought you’d be here by now! Look at the size of that army! I had no other choice…but to force myself.” Samuel replies, “Thou has done foolishly.” Saul sinned, and his attempts to justify that sin were futile.
When you and I sin and are tempted to point to others or excuse ourselves, let’s come instead with truly repentant hearts, hearts that acknowledge that we alone are responsible for our trespass and God alone is holy and just. “Against thee, thee only, have I sinned” (Ps. 51:4a).
Sing or pray Psalter #141.
Oct. 18 – A Rash Father and a Brave Son
Read 1 Samuel 14
In 1 Samuel 14 Saul again demonstrates that he is not worthy of the high office with which he’s been entrusted. No longer is he little in his own sight (see ch. 15:17). He is both wise in his own conceit and hasty in his words. Of such a man scripture declares, “There is more hope of a fool than of him” (Prov. 26:12, 29:20). “Wherefore, my beloved brethren, let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath” (James 1:19).
In contrast to his father, Jonathan proves himself to be a wise, godly, and valiant young man. Oh, to have the faith that Jonathan had and to confess as he confessed, “Nothing can hinder the Lord from saving by many or by few.” Do you confront the trials in your life in the confidence that nothing is too hard for our God?
Sing or pray Psalter #392.
Oct. 19 – Jehovah Hates Sin
Read 1 Samuel 15
Samuel comes to Saul with this command in 1 Samuel 15:1: “Hearken unto the Lord.” But Saul does not hearken, though he first brazenly purports to have obeyed and then points to “the people” as those who were responsible. Samuel responds with familiar v. 22: “Hath 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 hearken than the fat of rams.” Is that how highly we value hearing and obeying God’s word, or are we like Saul, quick to excuse our disobedience?
Is there a contradiction in this chapter? In v. 11 Jehovah declares, “It repenteth me that I have set up Saul to be king,” while in v. 29 Samuel maintains, “The Strength of Israel will not lie nor repent: for he is not a man, that he should repent.” Verse 11 is an example of an anthropomorphism, the attribution of human characteristics to the divine being. Jehovah changes not, but the inspired writer of the scriptures has no better way to express his deep revulsion of sin than to write that man’s sin compels him to “repent.”
Sing or pray Psalter #428:1-5.
Oct. 20 – A Young Man After God’s Heart
Read 1 Samuel 16
Saul’s successor, a man after God’s own heart (see ch. 13:14), is an unlikely candidate, primarily because of his age. In familiar v. 7 Jehovah says to Samuel concerning David’s oldest brother Eliab, “Look not on his countenance, or on the height of his stature; because I have refused him: for the Lord seeth not as man seeth; for man looketh on the outward appearance, but the Lord looketh on the heart.” Do we devote more time to adorning our hearts or our outward appearance?
What did Jehovah see when he looked on young David’s heart? Consider the testimony of Psalm 132:2–5: David “…vowed unto the mighty God of Jacob…I will not give sleep to mine eyes, or slumber to mine eyelids, until I find out a place for the Lord…” Where was David when he made this earnest vow? Verse 6: “Lo, we heard of it at Ephratah: we found it in the fields of the wood.” He was still a youth, shepherding his father’s flocks on the hills surrounding Bethlehem! Young people, “Let no man despise thy youth; but be thou an example of the believers, in word, in conversation, in charity, in spirit, in faith, in purity” (1 Tim. 4:12).
Sing or pray Psalter #428:6-10
Oct. 21 – Shaped in Private
Read 1 Samuel 17
It may seem as if David arises out of nowhere to slay Goliath. But 1 Samuel 17 (and the preceding chapter) contain clues about David’s character that render his victory less surprising. First, David was not self-seeking. After being anointed king, he returned to shepherding. Only in God’s providence was he brought into Saul’s court. When Saul, again timid in the absence of God’s Spirit, leaves the palace for the battlefield, David returns to his sheep once more (v. 15). Second, David is obedient. When David’s father sends him to his brothers, David readily complies. But he is also responsible: he first arranges for the care of the sheep. “His faithfulness in a few things fitted him to be ruler over many things. He who is best qualified to command, is the one who had previously learned to obey” (Pink).
Where does David come by the unshakable faith with which he faced the terrible giant? “In the solitude of the fields…Let the foe be met and conquered in private, and we shall not have to mourn defeat when we meet him in public” (Pink). Dear reader, is personal communion with God the source of your strength?
Sing or pray Psalter #367.
Oct. 22 – Praise and Envy
Read 1 Samuel 18
Consider Israel’s song when God delivered them from the Egyptians through Moses: “I will sing unto the Lord, for he hath triumphed gloriously: the horse and his rider hath he thrown into the sea” (Ex. 15:1). David approached Goliath in the name of Jehovah of hosts and declared, “This day will the Lord deliver thee into mine hand” (17:46). But Israel didn’t praise God for this victory: they praised the instrument he used instead. They sang, “Saul hath slain his thousands, and David his ten thousands” (18:7). How poor was the spiritual state of God’s people under the rule of their God-forsaken king!
Such high praise could have been a temptation to pride, even for a man after God’s own heart who “behaved himself wisely” (v. 5 and 14). But Jehovah checks what could have tempted David to conceit with Saul’s envy. At the same time, he gives David allies in Saul’s children, Jonathan and Michal, for the hearts of all men are in his hands.
Sing or pray Psalter #368
Oct. 23 – David Flees
Read 1 Samuel 19
What a contrast between the end of 1 Samuel 18, “David behaved himself more wisely than all the servants of Saul; so that his name was much set by,” and the beginning of ch. 19, “And Saul spake to Jonathan his son, and to all his servants, that they should kill David”! Saul’s senseless conduct testifies to the truth of Proverbs 27:4, “Wrath is cruel, and anger is outrageous; but who is able to stand before envy?” Jonathan intercedes for his friend’s life, reasoning, “He hath not sinned against thee, and…his works have been to thee-ward very good” (vv. 4-5). For a short time, Saul is pacified. We also have an intercessor, one who pleads for us perpetually before God’s throne. Jesus pleads for us not based on our merits, but his own. On that basis, Jehovah’s anger is turned away from us forever.
Michal’s schemes and lies demonstrate that, unlike her husband, she doesn’t trust in God. “Solemn is it to find the man after God’s own heart married to such a woman” (Pink). Those seeking a spouse must be mindful of 2 Corinthians 6:14, “Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness?”
Sing or pray Psalter #91.
Oct. 24 – God is my Defense
Read Psalm 59
What thoughts filled David’s head as Saul’s messengers surrounded his house, intent on his life? What emotions consumed him as Michal let him down through the window and he fled into the darkness? We know, for David recorded them in a song, Psalm 59. David did not panic; he did not stew over the injustice of his situation. No, he went to God in prayer. His thoughts and his emotions were directed to God. Is that where we turn when we are troubled, or do we give in to the temptation to futilely fret or despair?
As he crept away from the sleeping city, David prayed to Jehovah to awake and help him, to awake and punish Saul and his accomplices. Even as he prayed, David recalled that God had been his defense and refuge in the past. He remembered, perhaps, the victories that Jehovah had given him over the lion, the bear, and the giant, and he was encouraged that he would save him again. In that confidence, David looked forward to morning, and vowed that he would then sing aloud of God’s mercy.
Sing or pray Psalter #157.
Oct. 25 – Weak Faith, Strong Friendship
Read 1 Samuel 20
A man after God’s own heart doesn’t always dwell on the mountaintops of faith. In contrast to Psalm 59, 1 Samuel 20 and 21 reveal David at a spiritual low point. At the end of chapter 19, David wisely fled to Samuel, and while he was there, four times God miraculously saved him from Saul and his messengers. David doesn’t remain with God’s prophet, though. He seeks out Jonathan, and his words to his friend testify that his focus is no longer on Jehovah but on himself and his troubles. So weak is his faith that he asks his friend to lie.
Though Jonathan knows that David, not he, will inherit the throne, he loves David. Their friendship is free of envy. Jonathan sympathizes with his friend, endangers his own life to determine his father’s intentions, warns David to flee, and encourages him in the name of the Lord. Are those characteristics that you seek in a friend? Do they describe what kind of a friend you are?
Sing or pray Psalter #328.
Oct. 26 – In Jehovah I Put My Trust
Read Psalm 11
Psalm 11 gives us a glimpse into David’s heart as once again he flees from Saul. David confesses that he trusts in Jehovah, but Saul’s injustice still pains him. From an earthly point of view, David cannot petition a redress of grievances, for Saul’s government is thoroughly corrupt. Therefore, David laments, “If the foundations be destroyed, what can the righteous do?” (v. 3). But as soon those words leave his lips, he amends, “The Lord is in his holy temple, the Lord’s throne is in heaven: his eyes behold, his eyelids try, the children of men.” He comforts himself with the knowledge that while Jehovah tries the righteous, he sends those trials in love. In contrast, Jehovah hates the wicked, and as the just judge, he fills the cup that they will drink with his wrath. Even as he hides from Saul, David consoles himself with the thought that he cannot hide from God: “his countenance doth behold the upright.”
Dear Christian, the trial that you face right now is sent to you not in wrath, but in love. Trust in him. The eyes of our heavenly Father are upon the righteous, and his ears are open unto their cry (Ps. 34:15).
Sing or pray Psalter #20.
Oct. 27 – Love for Jehovah’s House
Read Psalm 27
We don’t know exactly when David wrote Psalm 27, but we do know that as an outlaw he despaired his inability to worship Jehovah in his house. David desired to go to the tabernacle to see the beauty of Jehovah, to inquire of his will, to offer sacrifices of joy, and to sing his praises. Every element of the worship of the tabernacle pointed to the salvation of the people of God, and there David believed he would be safe from his troubles. Throughout his life David’s actions were consistent with his claim to love Jehovah’s house. When his days of fleeing and fighting ceased, he determined to replace the tabernacle with a temple. God denied him that privilege, so David busied himself with gathering materials out of which Solomon would later build it. Can you confess that there is none upon earth that you desire beside the Lord (Ps. 73:25)? Is your life consistent with that claim?
Though David could not frequent the tabernacle, he still trusted that Jehovah would never forsake him. He also trusted that he would experience God’s goodness to him in this life, in the land of the living. What evidences of God’s goodness to you do you see in your life?
Sing or pray Psalter #71.
Oct. 28 – Danger Signals
Read 1 Samuel 21
Do you find that the Christian life is full of ups and downs? That was true of David’s life, too. Previously he asked Jonathan to lie. Now he himself lies to Ahimelech, to whom he had come to inquire God’s will (see ch. 22:13). The man who as a youth faced Goliath doesn’t dare face Jehovah’s priest! And instead of confessing, “There is none like unto the Lord our God,” David put his faith in Goliath’s sword, saying “There is none like unto it.” Then he seeks refuge in the land of the Philistines with the sword of their former champion, whom he had slain, in his hand! “Where a saint has a grieved the Holy Spirit, even common sense no longer regulates him” (Pink). But in his mercy, God does not permit backsliding David to fraternize with the ungodly for long.
“God forbid that we should take the failures of those who preceded us as excuses for our own grievous falls…Rather let us seek grace to regard them as danger signals, set up to deter us from slipping into the snares which tripped them…Faith must be tested, and we must learn by painful experience the bitter consequences of not trusting in the Lord will all our hearts…” (Pink).
Sing or pray Psalter #21.
Oct. 29 – A Contrite Spirit
Read Psalm 34
David fled to Philistia because he sought refuge from one enemy – Saul – in the territory of another. Jehovah led David to Philistia because he would have him learn this lesson: “It is better to trust in the Lord than to put confidence in man” (Ps. 118:8). David learns this lesson well. In response to his experience he pens Psalm 34, which exalts Jehovah as the savior of the righteous. David had not been in communion with God: now he celebrates Jehovah’s nearness. To whom is he near? To “them that are of a broken heart” and “a contrite spirit.”
That David’s repentance is sincere is evidenced in his desire to teach others—particularly the young—what he has learned about the fear of the Jehovah. He asks, “Do you want to live a long life?” That’s what David desired, and in his foolish lack of faith, his fear that Saul would take his life from him had driven him to lie and behave deceitfully in the presence of Achish. But now he instructs, “If you desire to live long, ‘Keep thy tongue from evil, and thy lips from speaking guile. Depart from evil, and do good…’” (vv. 13–14).
Sing or pray Psalter #89.
Oct. 30 – God is for Me
Read Psalm 56
In his fear of Saul, David had trusted that the Philistines might save him. Psalm 56 verifies the lesson he learned from that experience: “What time I am afraid, I will trust in thee…I will not fear what flesh can do unto me” (vv. 3–4). David’s enemies twist his words, conspire against him, hide themselves, and mark his steps. But David comforts himself with the knowledge that God knows all his wanderings and sees his every tear (v. 8).
2 Timothy 2:12–13 declares, “All that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution. But evil men and seducers shall wax worse and worse, deceiving, and being deceived.” We live in perilous times, yet we must confess with David, “God is for me” (v. 9). Instead of retreating in fear when we’re slandered or falsely accused, we must remember that no one can lay anything to charge of God’s elect: Christ has died for us. Nothing can separate us from his love. In him we are more than conquerors (Rom. 8:33–39).
Sing or pray Psalter #152.
Oct. 31 – In the Cave of Adullam
Read 1 Samuel 22
The anointed king of Israel now resorts to a cave. Like the King whom he typified, he had “not where to lay his head” (Matt. 8:20). David also pictured Christ in that he was rejected by the leaders of the children of Israel. Instead, only a beleaguered remnant resorted to him. Likewise, our Lord Jesus calls those who are distressed by their sins. He draws those who recognize their inability to pay the debt they owe God. He saves those who are discontent with the vanities of this world.
Among those who resort to David are his own family members. In his book The Life of David, A.W. Pink suggests that 2 Samuel 23:8–17 are key to understanding this period in David’s life. David and his men engage the Philistines in battle, for Saul has abdicated even this responsibility to pursue David. The Philistines are encamped near Bethlehem, threatening the home of David’s family and causing David to long for water from the family well. To ensure his family’s safety, David arranges for them to stay for a time in Moab, the homeland of his great-grandmother, Ruth, while he waits to “know what God will do for me.”
Sing or pray Psalter #22.
Nov. 1 – Thou Hast Done It
Read Psalm 52
As we read yesterday in 1 Samuel 22, David’s lie to Ahimelech had terrible, far-reaching consequences. David acknowledges his responsibility to Ahimelech’s son Abiathar: “I have occasioned the death of all the persons of thy father’s house.”
In grief and horror, David again takes up his pen. In Psalm 52 he describes the man who loves evil rather than good. That man devises treachery, and his tongue is the weapon he uses to execute his destruction. In contrast to the wicked, God’s goodness endures continually. How could David declare that at such a time? He knew that even the wrath of man praises Jehovah (Ps. 76:10). Doeg’s murder of the priests fulfilled God’s words to unfaithful Eli in 1 Samuel 2:31: “I will cut off…the arm of thy father’s house, that there shall not be an old man in thine house” (vs. 31). God also used these events to ripen Saul for judgement and to add the high priest to David’s camp, which would soon prove to be a great comfort and help to David (see ch. 23:6, 9 and 30:7–8). So even in this tragedy David confessed, “I will praise thee forever, because thou hast done it: and I will wait on thy name…” (v. 8–9).
Sing or pray Psalter #145.
Nov. 2 – In Sweet Communion
Read 1 Sam 23
It’s a joy to witness David once again in communion with Jehovah. Nor is he concerned solely with himself any longer: he desires to save the people of Keilah. But David doesn’t act impulsively; he inquires of God’s will. David’s men, on the other hand, fear being caught in the crossfire between two enemies, Saul and the Philistines. Isn’t it true of the Christian life that doubts or hindrances can sometimes be placed in our minds by fellow believers? David doesn’t berate his companions, however. He simply goes to God again and asks his will. This time God not only tells him to go, he also assures him of the victory.
What dilemma do you face at present? Is there an important decision you must make? Do you truly desire that the will of God direct your way? “Where God is truly sought—that is, sought sincerely, humbly, trustfully, with the desire to learn and do that which is pleasing to Him—the soul will not be left in ignorance. God does not mock his needy children” (Pink).
Sing or pray Psalter #337.
Nov. 3 – Wonderful Salvation
Read Psalm 31
David escapes from Keilah, a fenced city (v. 21), to the rocky wilderness of Engedi. But he hides there confessing that Jehovah alone is his strong rock and fortress (vv. 3 and 4). David’s many and varied afflictions qualified him to write so many Psalms. David’s name means “beloved,” and in his psalms he speaks for all of God’s beloved, his elect. But ultimately, the voice we hear in Psalms is that of the Beloved Son in whom God is well pleased. Like David, our Lord was popular for a brief time, but soon his neighbors and brethren forsook him. Even his disciples fled from him in Gethsemane (v. 11). Like David’s enemies, Christ’s enemies conspired against him with lies and devised to take away his life (vv. 6, 13). Jesus’ strength was consumed, not because of his own iniquity, but on account of the iniquities he bore for the sake of his people (v. 10). When his work on earth was finished, he prayed, “Into thine hand I commit my spirit” (v. 5).
Oh, how great is God’s goodness, which he has laid up for them that fear him! How wonderful the salvation which he has wrought before the sons of men for all who trust in him! (v.19).
Sing or pray Psalter #82.
Nov. 4 – Events of Providence
Read 1 Samuel 24
Once again David and his men huddle deep in a cave. (Like 1 Sam. 24:3, Jonah 1:5 and Ps. 128:3 use the expression “in, into, or by the sides of” to mean “in the heart of.”) Saul enters the same cave to relieve himself, and David’s men are elated, certain that God has delivered Saul into David’s hand. Undoubtedly God’s providence brought Saul there. Saul himself confesses that in verse 18. But why? David’s tender conscience told him that this was not a God-given opportunity to disobey the sixth commandment; it was a test.
“We need to be exceedingly cautious how we interpret the events of Providence and what conclusion we draw from them, lest we mistake the opportunity of following out our own inclinations for God’s approbation of our conduct…He so orders his providences as to try our hearts and make manifest what is in them…An accurate knowledge of God’s Word, a holy state of heart (wherein self is judged, and its natural longings mortified), a broken will are absolutely essential in order to clearly discern the path of duty in important cases and crises” (Pink).
Sing or pray Psalter #151.
Nov. 5 – Avenge Not Yourselves
Read Psalm 7
A “Shiggaion” is a wandering poem composed under intense emotion. The heading of Psalm 7 notes the origin of this Shiggaion: the words of Cush the Benjamite to David. Some speculate that Cush was a relative of Saul who falsely accused David of attempting to harm the king; hence David’s parenthetical remark in verse four. Whatever the case, Cush wrongfully accused David of evil, and David’s response is recorded for our benefit. Instead of seeking revenge, he turns to God in prayer.
Have you ever been wronged by another? Such an occasion becomes both a temptation from Satan, who would have your soul devoured by self-righteousness and hatred, and a trial from your heavenly Father, who would have you learn to more fully trust in him as your defense. “Dearly beloved, avenge not yourselves, but rather give place unto wrath [that is, “commit to the Lord the right to judge”—Calvin]: for it is written, Vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord…Be not overcome of evil, but overcome evil with good” (Rom. 12:19,21).
Sing or pray Psalter #13.
Nov. 6 – The Light of Life
Read Psalm 120
In 1 Samuel 24:9 David asks Saul, “Wherefore hearest thou men’s words, saying, ‘Behold, David seeketh thy hurt?’” That text suggests that Saul’s lying lips were not the only ones from which David prayed to be delivered; others were guilty of slandering him as well. How beautifully David, who is for peace, pictures the Prince of Peace, for when given the opportunity to address Saul, his soft answer turns away that wicked man’s wrath. And how strikingly 1 Samuel 24:22b—“And Saul went home; but David and his men gat them up unto the hold”—foreshadows John 7:53–8:1: “And every man went unto his own house. Jesus went unto the mount of Olives.”
This past summer our family toured a cave. In one of the cave’s many rooms, our guide turned out the lights. “There is no darkness on earth as deep as the darkness in a cave,” he said. But the psalms that David penned in the dark caves in which he hid demonstrate the truth of Jesus’s words in John 8:12b, “He that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life.”
Sing or pray Psalter #343.
Nov. 7 – The War Within
Read Psalm 140
David prayed continually to Jehovah for deliverance from the evil men who purposed to overthrow his goings, and repeatedly Jehovah delivered him. God preserved his life because the Promised Seed was to come from his line! But God also gave David the victory over himself. “There is a continual warfare within every real Christian between the principle of sin and the principle of grace, commonly termed ‘the two natures.’ There is a spiritual Saul who is constantly seeking the life of a spiritual David; it is the ‘old man’ with his affections and appetites, seeking to slay the new man” (Pink).
Are you and I conscious of the war between the old and new man within our own hearts? Are we as faithful as David was to pray for deliverance from the evil man, who would overthrow our goings? Are we always on guard against his relentless attacks?
Sing or pray Psalter #385.