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May 30, Day #151 – Giving In to Social Pressure

Today we come in our readings to 1 Samuel 24-25 where we see David’s restraint from harming King Saul – even when David’s men said, “This is the day when the LORD said, ‘I will give your enemy into your hands for you to deal with as you wish” (verse 4). David crept up “unnoticed and cut off a corner of Saul’s robe” (verse 4), for which he was “conscience-stricken” (verse 5). David knew that the Lord would deal with his enemies – that he didn’t need to “lift his hand against the LORD’s anointed” (verse 6). This is an important lesson for us. When we feel like our enemies have the upper hand against us – even when they make our lives difficult – if we truly believe what we’ve been reading in the Psalms, we can trust the Lord and leave the outcome to Him – He will deal with it (cf., Deuteronomy 32:35; Romans 12:17-19). In sparing Saul’s life, David “called out to Saul, ‘My lord the king!’” (verse 8), and he bowed down before him. This gesture and David’s supplication elicited in the king a brief moment of sanity, though Saul was unable even to recognize David’s voice (24:16). Saul did recognize David’s righteousness (verse 17), but ever jealous, Saul still considered David his “enemy” (24:19). In chapter 25, we read that Samuel died, and all Israel “mourned for him” (verse 1). When we lose a good leader, we are moved by the loss, and we naturally grieve over it. Such grief is a part of God’s plan for life, and it is appropriate for us to honor those leaders who serve God well. Following this, we come to the story of Nabal – a wealthy but “surly and mean” man with an intelligent and beautiful wife - Abigail (verses 1-3). David extended peace and support toward Nabal’s men who were shearing sheep, and he requested whatever provisions Nabal could supply. However, Nabal, whose name means “fool,” lives up to his name and acts like one – repudiating David and his men – making himself obnoxious before everyone. Realizing the gravity of this situation, “Abigail lost no time” (verse 18), and she intervened with gracious provisions. We read that “the LORD kept David from shedding blood” (verse 26). We see Nabal’s full character – a drunk – whose “heart failed him, and the LORD struck Nabal and he died” (verse 38). Here, we see not only God’s hand against Nabal on David’s behalf, but also His sovereign vengeance enacted against David’s enemy. Finally, we note David’s special concern to take the now-widowed Abigail as his wife.

Psalm 68:15-20 is David’s beautiful expression of the “majestic” mountainous surroundings of the land of Israel – “where the LORD Himself will dwell forever” (verses 15-16). In verse 18, we read that, when the Lord ascended on high, He led captives in His train and received gifts from men.” Regarding Christ’s ascension, Paul quotes this verse in Ephesians 4:7-16. Verses 19-20 capture three important truths - (1) we are to praise God because He “daily bears our burdens;” (2) He is a God Who “saves” us; and (3) He sovereignly enables our “escape from death.” These truths reveal both our inability to accomplish these needs for ourselves and His awesome power to overcome them. I’m thankful for these truths.

In John 18:25-40, we see Peter’s frail attempt to fight off the cold and the darkness (cf., yesterday’s comments) as “he was standing there warming himself” by the fire, and when questioned, he “denied” being a disciple (verse 25). Like most of us at that point, Peter was no match for those conditions because they represent the forces of evil to overwhelm us when we are weak, tired, cold, and alone. At the fire, Peter settled for physical comfort and social acceptance under such harsh conditions which would ultimately lead to the crucifixion of our Lord. Unfortunately, Peter denied his Lord. However, John’s gracious account toward Peter overlooks what Luke clearly states - that Peter went out and “wept bitterly” over his error (cf., Luke 22:62). In the next section, we see that the “Jews led Jesus to Pilate” (verse 28), who seems willing enough to remain untangled in this affair. However, Pilate is standing before the Truth personified – Jesus Christ – and no confrontation with Christ will ever release an individual from entanglement. Whether Pilate likes it or not, he must make a decision. In verse 38, Pilate asks the prototypical question, “What is truth?” He knows what truth is, and the truth is, “I find no basis for a charge against” Jesus Christ (verse 38). Jesus was not guilty of violating any law, and Pilate knew it. But Pilate is weak, too. Like Peter, will Pilate give in to social pressures?

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