“In everything he did he had great success, because the Lord was with him.”
1 Samuel 18: 14
1 Samuel 18-20 (Psalm 83)
These chapters display the continuing consequences of following one’s own way in disobedience to God. Saul goes from bad to worse. In his jealousy of David he harbors murder in his heart, which he actively pursues. He fears losing his status and position and has left himself open to control by the ‘principalities and powers’ we are taught about in Ephesians 6. In a number of places, in these and preceding chapters, we are told of ‘an evil spirit from the Lord.’ This obviously raises questions for us in relation to God Himself as the source or conduit for evil!?!? In the ancient world, anger and mental illness, were attributed to evil spirits. The people of Israel feared dualism and so would themselves make that judgement. Such a ‘complete’ view leaves little room for human responsibility. We read in 1 Samuel 16: 14 that the Spirit of the Lord had left Saul and the evil spirit had come. Saul had disobeyed God and was walking his own way. When we do this we leave ourselves vulnerable to outside influences both spiritual and physical. We are warned about this in the New Testament (Romans 1, Ephesians 4-5, Galatians 5 & Colossians 3) and Jesus talks clearly about the reality of spiritual powers (Matthew 12: 28-30). This matter can lead to debate on huge topics such as the cause of evil, its origins, suffering in the world and so on. Suffice, for today’s blog, let me simply say that walking with God in obedience protects us from such influence and control over our hearts; walking away from God leaves us vulnerable.
As we consider David, we this truth from the opposite and positive perspective. In his obedience to God he is blessed with success and progress. Please note though, that this does not mean freedom from troubles. We see the exact reverse; persecution and negative reaction will accompany true and obvious obedience to God. In Jonathan, we witness the value of true friendship and support during such times.
If we are in Christ we are a new creation and nothing can separate us from His love, His Holy Spirit is within (Romans 8). We can though, grieve the Holy Spirit (Ephesians 4: 30) and allow the old nature to exert damage and be a conduit for outside influence. We, therefore, need to learn to be led by the Holy Spirit and keep in step with Him (Galatians 5: 16-26). As a member of Christ’s Body, we should actively seek trustworthy brothers and sisters to walk with us; we are not created to be ‘individual’ children of God but members of a ‘family.’
The Question of Application
What influences in your life may be harmful to your faith and relationship with God? Who can support you in your new life and whom might you support?
Dear Father we thank you that there is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus and that all things work together for good for those who love God, who are called according to God’s purpose. Aid us in our conviction that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor rulers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord. May we walk with you in victory, guided by your Holy Spirit to the glory of your name. Amen
From Romans 8
All my hope on God is founded by Choir of Kings College Cambridge
Spirit Lead me by Influence Music and Michael Ketterer
In 2023, each week's blog is a follow-up reflection written by the preceding Sunday’s preacher to dig deeper into the sermon topic and explore engaging discussion questions.