Old Testament In a Year: April 30 – 1 Samuel 19; Psalms 23, 59

1 Samuel 19; Psalms 23, 59
Focus Verse: The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want. – Psalm 23:1

Do you ever wonder what David was doing while he was on the run from jealous King Saul? He wasn’t thinking of ways to get rid of Saul. No. David’s mind was on God. He was trusting in Him for protection and deliverance from Saul.

When Saul sent men to watch David’s house in order to kill him (this event is detailed in 1 Samuel 19:11-17), David wasn’t pacing the floor, agonizing with Michal about why her father hated him so much. David was calling on God to deliver him from his enemies, a composition that would later come to be Psalm 59. In addition to calling for deliverance, David was also singing of the strength and steadfast love of God. Amid his distress, he praised God for being a fortress and a refuge.

David believed that the Lord was his Shepherd. Therefore, he had nothing to fear.

What about you? Psalm 23 is a popular Scripture, but is it a personal Scripture? Is the Lord only David’s Shepherd or do you believe that He is also your Shepherd? The Lord was not only with David. He is also with you. He was not only able to defeat David’s enemies and give David goodness, mercy, and blessing. He is able to do the same for you.

To you, God says:

My dear child,

I am your shepherd; therefore, you shall not want.
I will give you rest in green pastures.
I will lead you beside still waters.
I will restore your soul.
I will lead you in paths of righteousness for My name’s sake.
Even when you walk through the valley of the shadow of death, you do not have to fear any evil, for I am with you; My rod and My staff, will comfort you.
I will prepare a table before you in the presence of your enemies; I will anoint your head with oil; and I will make your cup overflow.
My goodness and My mercy will surely follow you all the days of your life, and you will dwell in My house forever.

Your Eternal Shepherd

Old Testament In a Year: April 29 – 1 Samuel 17, 18

1 Samuel 17, 18
Focus Verse: And David had success in all his undertakings, for the Lord was with him. – 1 Samuel 18:14

With the Philistines, David found victory. With Jonathan, he found friendship. With Michal, he found love. With Israel and Judah, he found respect and praise. Even his enemy, Saul, was in fearful awe of him. In everything that David did and everywhere that he went, he had great success. It was not because he was young or handsome or valiant or strong. It was because God was with him.

And God is with you too. Wherever you go and whatever you do, you do not have to be afraid.

Be strong and courageous, God says, because I am with you always, to the end of the world. Even when you walk through the valley of the shadow of death, you do not have to fear evil, for I am with you (Psalm 23:4). I will help you, protect you, and comfort you. Whatever lion or bear or giant you face, they will not overcome you; but you will overcome them.

At the shake of a spear, pick up your stones and sling and move forward in faith. Who can stand against you when God is with you? Just as God was with David (past), so He will be with you (present). He will not leave you or forsake you (future).

Old Testament In a Year: April 28 – 1 Samuel 15, 16

1 Samuel 15, 16
Focus Verse: And Samuel said, “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 listen than the fat of rams.” – 1 Samuel 15:22

How can you most show your love for the Lord? How can you most please the Lord? What would make God delight the most in you? Your obedience to Him and His Word.

More than your wealth and more than worship, God desires your obedience. Jesus said: The person who has my commandments and keeps them is the one who loves me.

Old Testament In a Year: April 27 – 1 Samuel 13, 14

1 Samuel 13, 14
Focus Verse: Jonathan said to the young man who carried his armor, “Come, let us go over to the garrison of these uncircumcised. It may be that the Lord will work for us, for nothing can hinder the Lord from saving by many or by few.” – 1 Samuel 14:6

Jonathan was brave enough to face and fight the Philistines without the force of an army behind him because he was not focused on the strength of human numbers. He was focused on the strength of God. He was trusting in God to work for him. He knew that God could use a thousand people or just two people to bring about salvation. He placed his faith in God and depended upon him to direct his steps to victory.

If you trust in God with all your heart, refuse to follow your own understanding, and acknowledge Him in all your ways, He will not fail to direct your path. He will lead you in unexpected ways and put you on bold adventures, and at every turn, He will work for you.

Do not look at yourself and ask: What can I do?

Look at God and ask: What can You do?

God’s power does not lie in numbers or means or methods. His power lies in Himself. Have faith in the great and wonderful things God is able to do with just one person – you – or with many.

Old Testament In a Year: April 26 – 1 Samuel 10, 11, 12

1 Samuel 10, 11, 12
Focus Verse: Here I am; testify against me before the Lord and before his anointed. Whose ox have I taken? Or whose donkey have I taken? Or whom have I defrauded? Whom have I oppressed? Or from whose hand have I taken a bribe to blind my eyes with it? Testify against me and I will restore it to you. – 1 Samuel 12:3

In response to Samuel’s questions, there was not one person who could answer “you took my ox” or “you defrauded me.” No one had a bad word to say about Samuel’s treatment of them.

This is not to say that Samuel was perfect. But all the years that he served Israel as prophet and judge, Samuel did what was right before God and what was right before people. He treated others with respect, integrity, and honesty. He lived a life of character.

You will not be perfect either, but you can strive to do what is right. If you do, people will not have negative things to say about you. They will remember you for doing good, not evil; for loving, not hating; for kindness, not meanness; for justice, not partiality; for mercy, not judgment.

Women of the Word (Recap 14)

When God created woman, He made a very special creation. He made us beautiful and unique. He made us strong and resilient, gutsy and spirited, sassy and sweet. And He loves us. God really, really loves His girls. And the Bible is filled with many women – some good, some bad – all of who God made, who God loved, and who we can learn many lessons from.

So far in our Women of the Word series, we have looked at over 140 different female figures in the Bible. They all have something to teach us. So, (drum roll, please). Here is our fourteenth series recap:

View the first, second, third, fourth, fifth, sixth, seventh, eighth, ninthtentheleventhtwelfth, and thirteenth series recaps.

Old Testament In a Year: April 25 – 1 Samuel 7, 8, 9

1 Samuel 7, 8, 9
Focus Verse: Then Samuel took a stone and set it up between Mizpah and Shen and called its name Ebenezer; for he said, “Till now the Lord has helped us.” – 1 Samuel 7:12

When the Philistines prepared to attack the Israelites in battle, God sent them divine help. They didn’t have to lift a sword or a shield. They only had to lift a prayer, and God fought for them. Afterwards, Samuel set up a stone of remembrance for their victory and called it Ebenezer.

Ebenezer means “stone of help.”

It may be helpful to set up your own “Ebenezer” so that you can remember how God has helped you throughout your life. What victories has He won for you? What prayers has He answered? Your “Ebenezer” doesn’t have to be a stone. It can be a journal entry, a photograph, or some other tangible object so that when you look at it or touch it or read it, you will remember the help that God has given you. If He helped you before, He is willing and able to help you again.

Old Testament In a Year: April 24 – 1 Samuel 4, 5, 6

1 Samuel 4, 5, 6
Focus Verse: And when the men of Ashdod saw how things were, they said, “The ark of the God of Israel must not remain with us, for his hand is hard against us and against Dagon our god.” – 1 Samuel 5:7

The Philistines’ first reaction to the hand of God being against them was to push Him farther away from them. They did not seek to get to know the one true God who they had offended. The Philistines knew that the one true God was real and alive and all-powerful because they heard about how He had struck the Egyptians with every sort of plague before they let the Israelites go. They did not think to repent of their false worship or turn from their false god, Dagon. They only sought to rid themselves of the one true God.

The afflictions God brought upon the Philistines after they took the ark may have been harsh, but He was only trying to get their attention and make them realize that He was no trite deity who could be worshiped and treated in any fashion. He was not Dagon. He was God.

When God tries to get your attention, is your first reaction to run away from Him? To put as much space between the two of you as possible? There is no place you can go to avoid God’s spirit or to be out of His sight. Even if you climbed to the sky, He would be there. Or even if you crawled underground, He would be there. If you flew on the wings of the morning to the far western horizon, God would find you in a minute because He would already be there waiting. Even in the dark, He sees you – darkness and light, night and day, they’re the same to God (Psalm 139:7-12).

God’s actions may seem harsh, but they are not meant to hurt you, but to help you. If you stop running and turn to Him, you will find that the hand that once seemed to be against you was always for you.

Old Testament In a Year: April 23 – 1 Samuel 1, 2, 3

1 Samuel 1, 2, 3
Focus Verse: She was deeply distressed and prayed to the Lord and wept bitterly. – 1 Samuel 1:10

For a long time, Hannah was unable to have children. To make her situation worse, her husband’s second wife – who did have children – made fun of Hannah’s inability to have children. This caused Hannah deep distress. But she did not keep her distress to herself. She turned her pain, her problems, and her tears over to the Lord by praying to Him.

Just as Hannah did not carry her distress alone, you do not have to carry your concerns and troubles by yourself. Cast all your cares upon God, for He cares for you.

When you are being afflicted or find yourself the subject of someone’s jealousy or meanness, the best thing you can do is turn to the Lord. Christ is described as a Man of sorrows and one who was acquainted with grief. More than anyone else, Jesus understands your pain perfectly and He can bring peace and comfort to your anguished heart.