Receiving the Promise

David was anointed to be the King of Israel when he was a young boy.  The promise of his destiny and his reign was etched into his life from his youth and carried for years of disappointment, frustration, and confusion.

I wonder how David must have felt when the prophet Samuel came to the house of Jessie looking for a man to anoint as king.  By-passing all of David’s older brothers, Samuel was instructed by the Lord to anoint David, the youngest, the shepherd to be the king even as Saul, the current King of Israel was still reigning.  I am sure it didn’t make sense to David to be chosen, but it was probably also very exciting to think that this Promise of Destiny would be his.

If David was anything like me, he probably daydreamed about his days as King.  He probably imagined the pomp and fanfare he would experience on his coronation day.  He might have imagined life in a palace and life of ease and power.  Maybe he saw himself pronouncing lofty and powerful edicts.  Yes, life as a king would be magical, powerful, and beautiful.  When God makes a promise after all, it should come to pass with ease, be fraught with honor, blessing, and approval, and happen without human effort.  Right?

So I wonder then, how David felt after years of running for his life as a jealous King Saul pursued him to kill him. Watching the nation of Israel divide into two kingdoms under a selfish King Saul must have frustrated him as he knew he could keep the kingdom together if only given the chance.  How did it feel to defeat Israel’s enemies, the Philistines, only to be then be hunted by the King whose life you preserved?  What kind of promise was this that God gave David?

It was after David had grown to adulthood, when he was thirty and after he had married and began raising sons that David received the Promise from God of kingship.  In 2nd Samuel 2 we read about David’s first step into the kingdom when the tribe of Judah anointed him to be their king after Saul’s death.  It wasn’t the whole nation of Israel that anointed David, just the tribe of Judah.  From there we read about bloody civil wars between the house of David and the house of Saul.  The tribes of Israel fought against David to defeat him, but David succeeded in winning the battles.  Chapter 3 of 2nd Samuel tells us that the war between the house of Saul and the house of David lasted a long time.  David increased in strength and power while the house of  Saul was weakened. He reigned as king of Judah for seven and a half years.

David received his promise through battle, war, frustration, disappointment, anger, and persistence.  He was finally anointed King over all of Israel, but then had to conquer the seat of his kingdom, Jerusalem, by conquering the Jebusites that lived there.  God empowered David.  God established David, and God was with David giving him victory over his enemies and favor with the Israel, but it came with work, with war, with pain, and ultimately with victory.

I hear so many messages about God’s promises and how they are supposed to look and act.  They are supposed to come easy and with little or no effort on our part, and admittedly, I have seen God’s promises come about this way maybe only a handful of times.  He performs miracles, make no mistake about that, that bypass our wisdom or best ideas, and He brings things into existence that were not previously known or grasped.  More often than not, however, I have watched God bring His promises to pass through the persistence and faithfulness of people who refused to give up.  I’ve seen people with promises from God persevere through the darkest of circumstances–sometimes fully confused and discouraged, but still putting one foot in front of the other.

Many who have received God’s promise, did so after watching those same blessings fall on someone else with ease, while they themselves struggle to maintain faith.  Many who have received God’s promises to them discovered that what God was to give them looked nothing like what they had previously imagined, yet looking back, God’s hand is seen guiding the entire process.  The point is, God’s promises will come!

When you get discouraged that your life is not where you expected it to be, or you haven’t succeeded in the areas of life that you thought you would thrive in, I want you to remember David.  I want you to reflect on the conflicts of your life, and the trials you passed through to receive the promise.  Look back at the lessons you have learned and the faith you are developing.  Treat your today like another lesson in reigning as a king, and pray for wisdom to retain what you learn. Then, when God gives you the kingdom, and establishes your “throne”, it will be said of you, “_________was a man/woman after God’s own heart”.

Maybe what you were promised seems far from your view today.  Maybe you are hiding out in fear that what God has said will not come to pass.  Maybe you want to give up and throw in the towel on your faith and in God himself.  May I encourage you today that nothing of your life is wasted.  God uses every day, every experience, every mistake, and every victory to shape you and bring you into what He has promised.  Nothing is lost in God’s hands, and nothing is wasted in His plans.  Keep walking.  Keep trusting.  Keep growing.  Keep believing.  You are the one God has chosen.

Isaiah 55:11

New International Version (NIV)

11 so is my word that goes out from my mouth:
    It will not return to me empty, 
but will accomplish what I desire
    and achieve the purpose for which I sent it.

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Uzzah, David and Me

“It’s the thought that counts.”

That is often the phrase I fall back on when I attempt something with good motives only to find it fell short of it’s expected goal or crashed altogether.  My intentions are what I want people to see even if the outcome was not favorable.  Motive and intent are huge pieces of the puzzle that explain the why and the what of  all we do.  So can I possibly do something with good motives and intentions that can be very wrong?  That is the question I want to delve into as we look at a passage of scripture from 1 Chronicles 13.

Many of you have read this story.  You will find it in two places in scripture.  The first place is 2 Samuel 6, and then here in 1 Chronicles where we have a little more insight into the story.  The narrative speaks of David,  who has recently been crowned king over Israel, coming up with a brilliant plan to bring back to Israel the Ark of the Covenant of God that had been stolen by the Philistines during the reign of Saul.  David’s intent was to restore the glory of God to the people of Israel, and to show once again that God reigned over His people and was present with them.  Verses 1-4 of Chapter 13 show us David’s idea and how he communicated it to the people, with verse 4 telling us that “The whole assembly agreed to do this, because it seemed right to all the people.”  David’s motives and intent were understood by the people as being right and pure and  in keeping with their convictions, so the plan proceeded.

Here is where the story becomes full of energy.  There is such excitement about going to get the ark, that people make a parade out of it with music, dancing, and celebrating.  They built a brand new cart to transport the Ark on, so that it would look magnificent as it wound its way “home”.  This was supposed to be a festive, God-honoring event, but something happened:  One of the oxen pulling the new cart stumbled and the cart began to tip.  Uzzah a man with good intentions reached out to steady the Ark, and instantly was struck dead.   The parade came to a dumbfounded and sorrowful halt as the realization of Uzzah’s death settled on each of them.  Confused, hurt, afraid and angry, David asks the question, “How can I ever bring the Ark of God to me?”

God seems so unfair.  So unpredictable.  He seems to make goals unattainable, and consequences dire.  He is unjust if we leave the story right here.  Sadly, many people do leave the story right here.  But let’s press on further.

David is angry and hurt, but David takes that pain to God and inquires of God about the reason for Uzzah’s death, and what David discovers is the lesson that I need to remember.  David finds out that God had a prescribed method for transporting the Ark of the Covenant and it did not involve carts, or exhibition.  God takes David back to His instructions from Numbers chapter 4 where the specific, detailed instructions of Ark transport were recorded.  The Ark was only to ever be transported by the priests of the Levitical clan.  They were to wrap the ark in the shielding curtain of the Tabernacle, then cover that with the hides of seals, then put the transporting poles into the rings attached to the side of the Ark.  After that was completed, they were to wrap all of that in a blue cloth.  (Numbers 4)  Never at anytime were they to touch the Ark, or have anyone else come near it.  As David inquires of the Lord, he realizes something:  God is always right and just.

David has a choice in his anger to do several things:  1. he can justify himself and his motives and accuse God of being cruel;  2. he can run from God and choose to no longer try to attempt anything for God’s glory; and 3.  he can re-calibrate his heart to God’s desires and designs.  David chooses to align his will with God’s.  We see this in verses 11-13 of 1 Chronicles 15.  David recognized that God had already given instructions on this issue, and David’s sin was that he did not inquire of God about those instructions.  David repented, did it God’s way, and succeeded and bringing the Ark back to Israel.

So how does this story apply to you and me?

We have a host of scriptures that give us instruction on many areas of our lives.  Without gray areas or shadows, God gives us His intents and His design for much of our life.  Somehow or another, however, we allow ourselves the ideas that God is all about our happiness.  We let this idea rule our decisions.  We think, of course God would be okay with this because it doesn’t hurt anyone else, and it makes me happy.  This idea is a costly one.  If I disregard what God has already said in order to accommodate my desires, I have become the plumb line that God must adjust to.  He is now on my terms.  Interesting to note, however is the fact that God does not regard my standards as His.  Like Uzzah, I can reach out with good intentions to do what seems right at the moment, but if it is something I have already been instructed about, I cannot accuse God of being unfair when He keeps His word and I suffer consequences.

My prayer is to be like David, who when confronted by his sin, changed his direction, re-calibrated his heart and intentions with God’s desires, and saw the fulfillment of his dreams doing it God’s way.  God will not always bless what we are doing, but we are always invited to “do” what God is blessing.

So in every decision, ask the question:  “Has God already spoken about this issue?  What did He say?”

**My thanks to my Pastor Rick Wise for teaching on this subject and giving me God’s perspective.”