Monday, May 6, 2013

Choose Your Focus

 He thought, “I will pin David to the wall.” But David evaded him twice.
Today is the first day of week eighteen, reading the Bible through together in a year.  Our scriptures this week are:
  • 1 Sam 18-19; 1 Chr 3; Acts 13; Ps 59
  • 1 Sa 20;1 Chr 4;Acts 14; Ps 56, 57, 142
  • 1 Sam 21-22; 1 Chr 5; Acts 15; Ps 52
  • 1 Sam 23-24; 1 Chr 6; Acts 16; Ps 54
  • 1 Sam 25; 1 Chr 7; Acts 17
The creators of this Bible reading plan took great care in their selection of scriptures that go together.  The 1 Samuel passage gives us the narrative of David's struggle with Saul's jealousy and attempted violence against him.  The 1 Chronicles passage describes the descendants of David (looking forward from the perspective of the 1 Samuel account).  The Psalm expresses David's feelings during the events of 1 Samuel 18-19, when Saul sought to kill David.  In Psalm 59:1-5 (ESV), David says:

 Deliver me from my enemies, O my God;
    protect me from those who rise up against me;
deliver me from those who work evil,
    and save me from bloodthirsty men.
For behold, they lie in wait for my life;
    fierce men stir up strife against me.
For no transgression or sin of mine, O Lord,
   for no fault of mine, they run and make ready.
Awake, come to meet me, and see!
    You, Lord God of hosts, are God of Israel.
Rouse yourself to punish all the nations;

    spare none of those who treacherously plot evil.

Yet, despite Saul's jealousy and violence, David did not want any harm to come to his enemy.  David's sense of loyalty reminded him that the man who sought his life was also his king, and father to his best friend.  In Psalm 59:11 (ESV), David writes of his enemies:

Kill them not, lest my people forget;
    make them totter by your power and bring them down,
    O Lord, our shield!

David shows grace to those who have shown him none.  David does want justice for them, but he wants God's justice and not David's own vengeance.  And he prays for God's justice to be merciful.

Even in the midst of his turmoil, we see David choosing where to focus his mind and heart.  He has plenty of reason to allow his troubles to lead him down a dark path.  Instead, he decides to concentrate on what's good.  Verses 16-17 say:

But I will sing of your strength;
    I will sing aloud of your steadfast love in the morning.
For you have been to me a fortress
    and a refuge in the day of my distress. 

 O my Strength, I will sing praises to you,
    for you, O God, are my fortress,
    the God who shows me steadfast love.

This morning, I'm curious--how do you respond, when harmful people come against you?  Do you seek your own vengeance, or the Lord's justice?  Do you pray for your enemies, do do you curse them?  David shows us how to choose our focus, to concentrate on God during times of distress.  I pray that you'll be able to do the same.


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