As we begin today, I’m still thinking about David and his life on the run. He’s not had an easy life journey; tending sheep, slaying a giant, betrayed by his mentor, Saul (now King Saul).
Saul became so full of himself, deciding that HE knew best and disobeyed God. Well…things took a deep dive from there! An underlying root of jealousy, anger, and hatred rose up against David due to all the attention and praises David was receiving. All of those “evil roots” took hold of King Saul as he distanced himself from God. The evil within him drove him to one desire—kill David!
So, he gathered his army and went after David with a vengeance! Now, the humble shepherd, a man after God’s own heart, became a man on the run. There were times when David had opportunities to capture and kill his friend, king, and now pursuer. But he didn’t.
He knew to leave that in the hands of God, His Protector! David was a great witness to his men when they asked him why he didn’t kill King Saul when he had the chance; but David replied,
“I will not touch (kill) God’s anointed…” 1 Samuel 26!
You probably are familiar with the saying…”Oh how the mighty have fallen…” 2 Samuel.David wrote that while mourning the death of Saul when he received the news.
I feel like I need to stop here and touch on a deeper meaning to what we just read. When someone hurts us, we can take that pain and tuck it deep inside, hold onto it, nurture it, until it comes back and destroys us physically, emotionally, and spiritually. We lose our health, we lose our mind, and we lose our joy. But, releasing the hurt to God, trusting Him to take care of it, then we no longer have to live underneath that burden. **(Please know, I am NOT down-playing any situations that you might have experienced.) David realized he needed to give that to God and trust Him with the responsibility of dealing with Saul. So….yes…..David sobbed at the hearing of Saul’s death, the painful past was over, and he truly missed his old friend, mentor, and king.
A good lesson, don’t you agree?
So, do you know what was going on during this desperate time in David’s life? He was scouting out places in the wilderness, where to hide, where to find nourishment, and learning to trust God for his very life! He didn’t know it yet, but finding the good hiding places, where water and food can be found, staying alive; all under the care and love of his Father, God. You see, God knew David would find himself back here again, in the wilderness, as King David. He will soon find himself in another battle with his enemies. Later…the deep anguish, hiding out from his own son hunting to kill him and take over the throne. Little did David know that God was STILL equipping him for the future. The future of King David over Judah!
Can we stop for a moment and take a look at our own lives? Has God allowed you to go through some desperate times, hurtful, fearful, questioning why? Why God? Why are you taking me through this, when you can obviously use your almighty power and remove this from me? Could it be to rely on Him, to strengthen us, and show us a better way, His way?
That is exactly what He did with Moses. God knew what He wanted for Moses, a higher calling than Moses could ever have imagined. Leading a nation, God’s chosen people, hundreds of thousands of Hebrews crossing the desert. A desert where Moses had already lived, tended sheep, found a wife, and became familiar with his surroundings.
God had bigger plans!
-Part 5 -
Years ago, I had the privilege of being a part of a Christian tour through the land of Israel. It was my first trip to Israel that forever changed my life! I did go again later, but this first ten-day trip was “viewed mostly through tears.” The emotions just spilled out as I walked through the sites and villages. Places that I had only read about in the Bible were now becoming reality right before my eyes!
Just imagine standing in the Garden of Gethsemane, Golgotha (Jesus’ crucifixion); which, ironically, when I was there a bus station had been built at the bottom of the hill with people rushing about in their daily routines. The very place where Jesus gave His life for us. A bus station? I stood there thinking, “does anyone realize what happened here? Do they care?” But...take heart...”Sunday’s coming”! That song played in my head as I stood there staring at the skull-like hill staring back at me.
Going to the Tomb was a somber place, just a small cave carved out a rock with a flat, cold, dirty slab of rock large enough for a body to lay. It was a quiet atmosphere as I watched people file in one at a time to see this “empty tomb”!
Going on to the Jordan River, our group stepped in to the water one by one, submitting themselves to baptism. An overwhelming
experience! The very place where Jesus submitted himself to baptism under the authority of his cousin, John the Baptist.
Okay, I’m moving on, lest you think I work for a travel agency! But seriously, if you ever have an opportunity to go, it will be worth it!
Imagine for a moment, we are all on a charter bus, in the mountains...creeping along a very narrow one lane dirt road winding around these desolate mountains of rocks. There are dangerous cliffs overlooking deep ravines on both sides of the bus, with oncoming traffic!
I have to admit, I closed my eyes through most of it! One of the most frightening experiences I have ever had in my life! A mountain pass I will never want to see or experience again!
The place was called The Valley of the Shadow of Death! An appropriate name, for sure. At times, another bus would be coming toward us and we had to stop and back up to find a wide enough spot so that they could pass. Jumping out of a plane would be easier for me at this point! Anyway, while stopped, we would get off the bus, and hover together (on the cliff) while the pastor took out his Bible and read passages pertaining to our location! I think he was trying to make a point! I’m not sure, it was hard to hear with all the fear and trembling going on through the crowd! (Lord, please get me off this mountain!)
It was a treacherous journey back in David’s time. Thieves would hide out along this popular route from Jericho to Jerusalem and rob
the unsuspecting travelers. Possibly the darkest hour in David’s life was now; running from Absalom, his own son, leading a civil war between his followers and David’s men.
Alone...the dark of night...dangerous animals...bands of thieves...and rough terrains surrounding him. And yet, David looked to God (his Good Shepherd).
”Though I walk through the valley of the Shadow of Death, I will fear no evil, for You are with me. Your rod and your staff comfort me.” Psalm 23:4
As we are coming to a close on this series of “All We Like Sheep”, let’s go over some important takeaways from Psalm 23. (this by no means is a complete study. There is so much more to delve into that I hope you will continue on your own.)
Takeaways from Psalm 23
1) God is my...Shepherd, Protector, Provider, Comforter, Corrector, Rewarder, Friend, (can you think of more?)
2) When a sheep keeps running off from the flock, the Shepherd has to gently break one of his legs to keep him immobile. Have you ever seen a picture of a shepherd carrying a lamb on his shoulders, holding his legs on each side of his neck? That is the Shepherd carrying him until his leg heals. Isn’t that comforting? To know that God has to discipline us in order to keep us from straying away and getting ourselves into deep trouble. He then carries us until we are
spiritually mended. All the while keeping us close to Him, being assured of His love.
3) The Shepherd knows when it’s time to shear the sheep to prevent disease. Being skittish as they are, sheep are not just going to stand still. The Shepherd knows the “pressure points” to push on the animal to get his body to relax for the shearing. This keeps the sheep from being injured during the shearing process. The Shepherd also pours oil down the head to keep infection-carrying insects from biting. “He anoints my head with oil...” Could there be pressure points in your life and mine that God has to apply some gentle pressure to get our attention and submission?
Do you know what is the most read scripture passage at a funeral? Psalm 23. After all these hundreds of years, the 23rd Psalm has provided comfort, peace, and hope to loved ones of those passed on. The Bible tells us that there will be pain, heartache, feelings of hopelessness, loneliness, anger and depression to name a few; but, we have that blessed hope that passes all understanding.“And the peace of God that passes all understanding, will guard our hearts and minds through Christ Jesus...” Philippians 4:7
You have a Good Shepherd. One who loves you so much that he’s willing to lay down his very life for you. He will never leave you nor forsake you; but will gently, yet powerfully, lead you through this life that He has created for you, if you will let Him. Look to Him, stay close, listen to His voice, and live out a life worthy of His calling.
“The Lord is my Shepherd, I shall not want. He makes me to lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside the still waters. He restores my soul, he leads me in the paths of righteousness for His name sake. Though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for You are with me. Your rod and staff comfort me. You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies. You anoint my head with oil, my cup runs over. Surely goodness and mercy will follow me all the days of my life and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.” Psalm 23