Bible reading for Aug 24.
I Samuel 16.
"Do not look on his appearance or on the height of his stature, because I have rejected him. For the LORD sees not as man sees: man looks on the outward appearance, but the LORD looks on the heart." (1 Samuel 16:7)
A NEW KING. Saul was tall, strong, and a good military leader, but his heart was not completely dedicated to the Lord. The Lord who "looks upon the heart" (v 7) has chosen another, who was a hard-working, overlooked young man. He was not even invited to the family dinner, being assigned to watch over their flock of sheep (v 11). Thus, David will become the shepherd to watch over God's flock, Israel. The irony was not missed by later Jewish readers. Notice the parallels between David and his greater Son, Jesus: both born in Bethlehem, both are shepherds, and both are undervalued and overlooked by their kinsmen. "He came to his own, and his own people did not receive him" (John 1:11; cf Isa 53:2). This is the kind of leader the Lord raises up for his people: "He will tend his flock like a shepherd; he will gather the lambs in his arms; he will carry them in his bosom, and gently lead those that are with young" (Isa 40:11).
AN EVIL SPIRIT. David comes into Saul's service first as a musician whose music calms Saul's frightful fits. How could God send (or permit) an evil spirit to plague Saul? When he continued in his disobedience Saul had no rightful claim upon the Holy Spirit, that he should permanently abide with him. Even David feared this, that the loss of the presence of the Spirit might happen to himself when he grievously sinned (Ps 51:11). David was forgiven and restored, but in Saul's case it became true that "the last state of that person is worse than the first" (Matt 12:43-45; cf 2 Pet 2:20-22). Can that happen to Christians? Under the new covenant the Holy Spirit "seals" each believer unto the day of redemption (Eph 1:13-14; 4:30). As Jesus said, "I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Helper, to be with you forever" (John 14:16). We should seek to never grieve the Spirit (Eph 4:30), but we have his promise that the Spirit will be with us forever.
REFLECT. Our King is not a politician, a poll-watcher, an egotist, a bribe-taker, or a power monger. He is the Good Shepherd who lays down his life for the sheep (John 10:11). He knows us by name, and leads us to good pasture. He gives eternal life to us. He gives his Spirit to be with us forever. Do we understand just how good the Lord is, and how wonderful his kingdom is? Also, we should ask, what does it mean to us that God looks upon hearts (even today) rather than outward appearances? How does that affect the way we live?
"As for the one who is weak in faith, welcome him, but not to quarrel over opinions." (Romans 14:1)
TO WEAR MASKS OR NOT. Throughout the history of the church there have been differences of opinion on the way Christians should live. This chapter is written not about doctrinal issues, but rather, about what is proper for Christians to do. Whether to eat non-kosher foods (in the case of Jewish-background believers), or eat meat, or drink wine, or how Sabbath days (or Sundays) are observed. As I am writing this, during the COVID crisis, many Christians are debating whether we should wear face masks or not. Or whether we meet in our church buildings or not. Or whether we take a vaccine or not, if it becomes available. Here is the principle Paul puts forward: "Therefore let us not pass judgment on one another any longer, but rather decide never to put a stumbling block or hindrance in the way of a brother" (v 13). We should go out of our way not to look down upon, nor reprove, a brother or sister who has a conviction on a matter that is different than our own. This is the way of love. We may in fact be right in our conviction, but it is unloving to brandish our conviction to the harm of others (v 15). "So then let us pursue what makes for peace and for mutual upbuilding" (v 19).
LIVING BY FAITH. "But whoever has doubts is condemned if he eats, because the eating is not from faith. For whatever does not proceed from faith is sin" (v 23). As Christians we should seek to know what is pleasing to God and to live by those convictions. We live by faith not by our doubts. If we have doubts about the moral rightness of something, it would be best for us to refrain from doing it. Herman Ridderbos writes, “For a Christian not a single decision and action can be good which he does not think he can justify on the ground of his Christian conviction and his liberty before God in Christ.” See Dr. Constable's notes in the NET Bible here.
Image credit. Photo by Engin Akyurt on Unsplash.
We are following the Robert Murray M'Cheyne (RMM) two-year reading schedule, as arranged by D. A. Carson.
Scripture quotations, unless otherwise noted, are from The ESV® Bible (The Holy Bible, English Standard Version®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
The NET Bible is a free, online resource, and a ministry of bible.org.