Meditations in 1 Samuel 34. Watch the Circumstances (2)
1 Sam 17:17-19 Now Jesse said to his son David, “Take this ephah of roasted grain and these ten loaves of bread for your brothers and hurry to their camp. Take along these ten cheeses to the commander of their unit. See how your brothers are and bring back some assurance from them. They are with Saul and all the men of Israel in the Valley of Elah, fighting against the Philistines.
Now we have more than once spoken about the Providence of God – the hidden hand of God moving behind the scenes – and we emphasise the hidden element because it is a case of watching things happen that appear quite ordinary, but you are left wondering how much God was involved bringing it about.
There appear to be gaps in 1 Samuel and sometimes we are not sure how much time has passed. The last we saw of David was that he played his harp before Saul and Saul appointed him to be one of his armour-bearers. However that would appear to be a part-time thing or even a thing of the past because David now appears to be back home looking after the flocks again for we read, “Early in the morning David left the flock with a shepherd, loaded up and set out, as Jesse had directed.” (v.20) Now it was clearly the practice in those days for the family to send provisions to the battle front and as a number of Jesse’s sons are already there, when Jesse comes to thinking about sending food to them, the obvious person to take it is David. A simple set of circumstances that gets David to the battle front
We’ll leave what he does when he gets there until the next study because I feel there is this need for us as God’s children to focus some more on His hidden hand in our lives. Jesus said, you may remember, “My Father is always at his work to this very day,” (Jn 5:17) and the apostle Paul wrote, “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him.” (Rom 8:28) Now put those two verses together and they suggest to us that God is working on our behalf – all the time!
Now let’s ponder for a moment what God might be doing in our lives. What are the sort of things He may be working into your life?
Well, first He may be seeking to guide us. He knows what He wants to lead us into. You remember Paul wrote, “we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” (Eph 2:10) Now whatever else that might say to us it says that God knows what He wants to lead you into, things He has on His heart for you, to bless you and to bless His world. Now we have to ask the question, are we open to ‘more’ or have we settled in life? The bigger question in this present context is, what is the Lord doing in and around you to lead you on into greater things for Him? Do we need to be praying, ‘Lord, open my eyes to let me see where you are directing me’ or maybe it should be, ‘Lord please reassure my that the way I seem to be pointing or the way I seem to be going, is your way.’ But whatever else, may we be able to says with Isaiah, “Here I am, send me.” (Isa 6:8)
Now a second thing He may be working to do is provide for you. A sign of this is a growing awareness of our limitations, which may be generally or in some specific area of our lives. We never have to work to receive God’s blessings, His provision, for it always comes freely from His heart of grace. God loves to give, loves to provide – freely. All we have to do is acknowledge the need and receive the gift. Have we been struggling with our own human wisdom and human strength? (Head and shoulders?) It’s time to surrender it to the Lord and let Him take the reins and provide all you need through the power of His Holy Spirit.
Now a third thing He may be working to do is provide protection for you. Again it may be a part of the provision thing, but it may also be a case of steering you clear from danger. Are there any areas of your life that, deep down at least, you know the Lord is not comfortable with, things that will make you vulnerable to the enemy’s attack if they are not resolved? This is a combination of guidance and provision but in a very specific way.
Now how does He work in the background doing these things? Well, the first way has to be He seeks to communicate with you and share with you His intentions. Now the reality of having to die to the old life and its old ways means that we are so often having to struggle against self-rule and when that is happening the struggle that is going on acts as ‘white noise’ (that background noise that blocks everything else out) and so it takes a while for us to become aware of the Lord’s voice trying to get through to us. I have lost count of the number of times I have become aware of this happening to me.
The second way He works in the background is by sovereignly bringing about changes in our circumstances. Now He may do this by a variety of ways. First it may be by speaking into the hearts and minds of others so that they do or say things pertaining to you and your circumstances. When someone says, “I just felt the Lord tell me to give you this gift,” that is pretty obvious, but it may also be in less obvious ways. Second, he may step back and let the enemy and the world have their unfettered way to bring (probably negative) changes in your circumstances, for you to rise up against. Third, He may actively do something to change the circumstances. I have known the Lord to actively move against unbelievers with back troubles or similar afflictions to bring a halt to their activities when we have prayed.
In David’s case, we will see the Lord has already trained him for battle, and taught him how to care for a flock, and so now all it needs is for the circumstances to be changed to bring David into a place where he can fight and start to learn to care for a human flock. As we have said before, watch this space!