Defy The Experts

Later war broke out with the Philistines at Gezer. That was the time Sibbecai the Hushathite killed Sippai of the clan of giants. The Philistines had to eat crow. 

In another war with the Philistines, Elhanan son of Jair killed Lahmi, the brother of Goliath the Gittite whose spear was like a ship’s boom. 

And then there was the war at Gath that featured a hulking giant who had twenty-four fingers and toes, six on each hand and foot—yet another from the clan of giants. When he mocked Israel, Jonathan son of Shimea, David’s brother, killed him. 

These came from the clan of giants and were killed by David and his men. (1 Chronicles 20:4-8) 

All the experts said that it was humanly impossible for a human to run a mile in less than four minutes. They looked at all the data and concluded it just couldn’t be done. 

But in 1954, Roger Bannister ran a mile in 3:59.4. 

Since that time, over 1400 runners have been inspired by Bannister’s success and have also broken the “unbreakable” barrier of a 4-minute mile. 

Before David faced the giant Goliath, the experts were probably all in agreement: giants just can’t be killed by normal-sized humans. 

But David killed Goliath. And then, inspired by his success in doing the “impossible,” David’s fellow warriors began chopping down giants too!

What’s holding you back? What have you or other so-called experts declared “impossible” or “unbreakable” or “undoable”? 

If God is calling you to take on the giant, DO IT! 

Defy the so-called experts. Do the “impossible.” Don’t let what others say is un-doable hold you back from victory! 

Don’t Get Ahead Of God’s Blessing

When David was settled in his palace, he summoned Nathan the prophet. “Look,” David said, “I am living in a beautiful cedar palace, but the Ark of the Lord’s Covenant is out there under a tent!”

Nathan replied to David, “Do whatever you have in mind, for God is with you.”

But that same night God said to Nathan, “Go and tell My servant David, ‘This is what the Lord has declared: You are not the one to build a house for me to live in.’” (1 Chronicles 17:1-4)

David’s desire to build a home for the Ark of the Covenant was a noble desire, and David’s passion for God was contagious! So much so that Nathan the prophet gave a hearty “Amen!” without a moment’s pause. 

Except no one—not good King David or Nathan the righteous prophet—consulted God about this. 

Nathan had to return to David with God’s word: “You’re not the one to build the Temple.”

Note this—

No matter how noble or God-honoring something sounds to us, God must be the one to give us permission to proceed. 

DON’T say, “God, this is what I’m going to do, please bless it.” 

But DO say, “God, what would You have me do? Because that is what You will bless.”

Argument Vs. Experience

There is a curious word that shows up about 70 times in the Bible (almost all of them in the Psalms)—Selah. The best scholars can figure is that this word has some sort of musical meaning: 

  1. Pause / Interlude—to rest in silence. This might even be where the singers stopped while the music continued. 
  1. Accentuation—to lift up or exalt; as in the renewed vigor of the singer or musician after pausing for a deep breath. 
  1. Consideration—the root word for Selah means to weigh on a balance, with the idea of despising the things that are light or trivial, and valuing the things that carry weight or substance. The Amplified Bible uses the phrase “pause and calmly think of that.” 

All three are valid definitions, and all three are used in the Psalms. I think the context of the Psalm makes it clear which one is meant. Sometimes more than one meaning is implied, and sometimes all three meanings are implied. 

Selah first shows up in Psalm 3. This is also one of the few psalms that uses Selah multiple times. We also get a clue to the context in the introduction: A psalm of David. When he fled from his son Absalom [see 2 Samuel 15]. 

David has a lot of enemies ganging up on him? The Message says, “enemies past counting!” And David laments that his enemies are whispering something very negative: “There is no God” or “God is too disinterested or weak to help you” or “You don’t deserve to have God’s help.” 

In the midst of this noise, David pens his first  SELAH—David needs a pause. The enemies past counting have got his thoughts swirling. He needs to pause and calmly think: “I KNOW God can and will help me because He has already helped me in the past. You may have your arguments and reasons, but I have my personal experience with God!” 

Notice the very next word: But (v. 3). You ARE [not were or will be] a shield around me…. To the Lord I CRY aloud [not I used to cry or I will cry], and He ANSWERS [not He answered or He will answer] me… (v. 4).

The second SELAH (v. 4) is the renewed vigor after the pause. The Message says, His answers thunder from the holy mountain. This corresponds with what David wrote when God delivered him previously (see Psalm 18:4-13). Then in the next four verses, David lists all the blessings that come when God answers: 

    • sleep 
    • sustaining power 
    • no fear of the tens of thousands on every side
    • deliverance
    • retribution for enemies 
    • God’s blessing—Real help comes from God. Your blessing clothes Your people! (v. 8 in MSG) 

David concludes this psalm with one final SELAH (v. 8)—to weigh on a balance. On one side: accusations and threats (only words). On the other side: personal experience of past deliverance and confident assurance of God’s present presence and rock-solid hope in God’s future grace. Pause and calmly consider those scales: which side are you on? Do you have only words, or do you have personal experience? 

The one with an experience with God is NEVER at the mercy of the one with only an argument against God. 

Join me next Sunday as we continue our look at the Selahs in the Book of Psalms. You can join me in person or on Facebook Live. 

How NOT To Make A Decision

Adonijah thought he was the obvious heir to the throne so he stated what he believed, “I will be king” (1 Kings 1:5). 

On what evidence did Adonijah base his claim? 

  1. All of his friends said he would make a great king
  2. His father (the king) had always given him everything he wanted
  3. He was handsome and popular
  4. A couple members of the king’s court supported him
  5. No one had ever told him “no” 

While all of this sounded good, Adonijah overlooked some vital points. Like…

  1. …more men backed his brother Solomon to be king than backed him
  2. …his father had the decisive and definitive say in who would be king, and he chose Solomon
  3. …God had chosen Solomon to be king

It’s tempting for us to read the popular sentiment of the moment, or to listen to the cheering voices around us, or even to think that our plans are wise and well thought-out. But this is NOT the right way to make a decision.

Instead, we need to humbly consider three things that are external:

  1. The unbiased, wise counsel of others
  2. The buy-in of key stakeholders
  3. God’s clear “yes”

If these three things are in alignment, you cannot go wrong!

5 Quotes From “Light And Truth—The Old Testament”

I like to think of Horatius Bonar as a tour guide as I read through the Bible, pointing out themes and insights I might have otherwise missed. Check out my full review of Light and Truth—Old Testament by clicking here. 

The elders [1 Chronicles 21:16]. They acknowledge the stroke and the sin: ‘It is the Lord.’ They clothe themselves in sackcloth, they fall upon their faces. So far as we know, they had not shared David’s sin, yet they at once place themselves by his side in confession and humiliation. David had sinned (v. 8), Israel had sinned (2 Samuel 24:1). They identify themselves with both. It is thus that we should take up a ruler’s sin, or a brother’s sin, or a nation’s sin; not blazoning it abroad in private gossip, or in the newspapers, but taking it on ourselves, and carrying it to God.” 

“We do great injustice to the Old Testament saints and to their privileges, and no less so to the God who made them what they were, when we conceive of them as possessing an imperfect justification, or an imperfect and uncertain knowledge of their justification. Paul’s declaration was explicit on this point: ‘I know Whom I have believed’; and yet it was not a jot more explicit than that of Job: ‘I know that my Redeemer lives.’ When Paul said, ‘It is God that justifies, who is he that condemns?’ he was only speaking what Job had spoken in ages before: ‘I know that I shall be justified. Who is he that will plead with me?’” [Job 13:18-19]

“Everything in God’s character, has by the Cross of Christ been turned into a reason for trusting Him. The more man knows of Him the more he trusts. Trust is the natural and inseparable response of the soul to the divine revelation of the character of God. It is not what man sees in himself, of his good deeds or good feelings, of his graces, or his repentance, or his regeneration, or his faith; but what he sees in God, that calls out confidence.” 

“It is with no distant, unheeding God that we have to do; but with that God who fixes the bounds of our habitation, who counts our hairs, who feeds the ravens, notes a sparrow’s death, clothes the lilies of the field. He is nearer to us than the nearest earthly object or being; more closely in contact with us than we are with one another.” 

“We disjoined God from creation, and so see nothing in it of divine life and power. … The separation of God from His works is one of the awful features of human unbelief. How much more of Him should we know, were we to interpret His works aright. … These skies of His are not bent over us in beauty without a meaning. These seas of His do not roll for nothing. These flowers of His are not fragrant and fair for nothing. They do not say to us, ‘God is your enemy, He hates you’; but ‘God is your friend, He pities you, yearns over you, wishes to make you happy.’ How full a gospel does creation to preach to us, according to its kind and measure!”

Saturday In The Psalms—Childlike Not Childish

Lord, my heart is not haughty… (Psalm 131:1).

This psalm is only three verses long, but they are three verses of immense trust in God. Truly these verses reveal extraordinary childlike dependence on God.

My heart is not haughty—I am subduing my pride.

My eyes are not lofty—I’m not looking for great things for myself.

I do not concern myself with great matters—I stay away from burdens I don’t need to carry.

I have no interest in things too profound for me—I don’t spend time on the “what ifs,” but I quietly trust God to provide for me.

I have calmed and quieted my soul—if my emotions start running too far ahead, I remind myself that God knows best what I need.

Childlike not childish!

Childlike is lovingly dependent. Childish is selfishly independent.

Childlike is trusting someone wiser. Childish is believing I know best.

John Maxwell said, “The Christian leader is mature enough to not act childish, yet remains trusting enough to stay childlike.”

Think of it this way: a “weaned child” (v. 2) is able to eat more grown-up food than an infant, but it is still dependent on a loving parent to provide that food—food that is best. It’s not necessarily food I want, but it is food I need.

David implores us to adopt this childlike dependence on God, and give up our childish independence apart from God. This attitude, David says, starts in a humbled heart.

Holy Spirit, work in my heart today. Drive out any childish selfishness for what I want, and create in me a childlike trust in my God Who gives me all that I need. Amen.

The Wonder Of God’s Forgiveness

King David was intimately confident that God would hear his prayers. No matter what—even if David had sinned.

The prophet Nathan confronted David after David had committed adultery with another man’s wife, gotten her pregnant, and then had her husband killed to try to cover up their affair. David assumed he had gotten away with it, but God sent Nathan to tell David that He knew all about it.

David immediately went to prayer.

His prayer is instructive for us when we sin too. David’s appeal to God for forgiveness is based solely on God’s ability and willingness to forgive, not on any merits David brings.

In this prayer, David presents a tally sheet. On his side of the ledger, he lists my transgressions, my iniquity, my sin, my bloodguilt. He sums it up with, “Against You, You only, have I sinned and done what is evil in Your sight.

David also tallies up God’s side of the ledger: You are right, You are just, You are righteous.

We might be tricked into thinking that a Perfect Being like this wants nothing to do with a sinful creature like you and me. But this is completely wrong! David appeals to God’s unfailing love, and Your great compassion. He lists God’s desire to cleanse, wash, blot out sins, restore, and release from blood-guiltiness.

David said, “I have sinned against the Lord.” And immediately Nathan responded, “The Lord has taken away your sin.”

Sin is all on me! Restoration is all on God!

With this in mind, we learn that the mark of a maturing Christian is not one who never sins, but one who…

  1. …feels a broken heart because of their sin (see Psalm 51:10)
  2. …confesses my sin
  3. …confidently asks for His forgiveness
  4. …helps others who have sinned (v. 13)
  5. …continues to abide in Jesus (vv. 10-12)

God is quick to forgive. Are we equally as quick to ask for His forgiveness?

You can study more of the lessons from the prayers of David:

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