Every Monday I share a 1-minute thought to get your week started. It’s my weekly Monday Motivation series of videos. Check out this week’s video that I posted the day after Christmas, and please subscribe on YouTube.
T.M. Moore wrote one of the endorsements for my book Shepherd Leadership. In an interview I then did on his Fellowship of Ailbe podcast, I shared my dismay over unbiblical ideas and practices that have crept into the church. Both T.M. and I share a passion to see our church leadership return to our secure biblical foundation.
In a recent blog post, T.M wrote, “From the days of the apostles onward, a tendency has existed among church leaders to drift from the plain teaching of the Word of God into forms of Christian life and ministry that derive from sources other than Scripture. Or that stretch the meaning of Scripture to fit the shape of certain cultural forms.” Please check out T.M.’s post “Do not go beyond.”
In a fascinating post from Rabbi Benjamin Blech, I read these thoughts about the power of a name: “The Hebrew word for soul is neshamah. Central to that word, the middle two letters, shin and mem, make the word shem, Hebrew for ‘name.’ Your name is the key to your soul. … When the Torah says, ‘God created,’ it doesn’t suggest that He worked with what He fashioned by labor, but merely that He spoke—and the very words describing the object came into being. God said, ‘Let there be light and there was light.’ The Almighty merely gave it a name, and the very letters defined its atomic structure.” Check out the full post here.
“Success” doesn’t always mean bigger numbers. King David got into trouble with God when he wanted to measure his success by how many fighting men he had under his command. Consistently throughout the Bible God’s measure of success is our trust in Him. This thought was a key part of the sub-title of my book Shepherd Leadership: The Metrics That Really Matter.
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I am so grateful for the blessings of a godly mother and a godly wife! I can relate to Abraham Lincoln who said, “All I am, or can be, I owe to my angel mother. … I remember my mother’s prayers and they have always followed me. They have clung to me all my life.”
Mothers—both the natural, physical, and adoptive mothers—can save the rest of us from a world of hurt. We see this in a story in the Bible of a mother that saved innumerable people from the consequences of folly. This is an amazing story in 1 Samuel 25, so please take some time to read it for yourself.
King Saul and David have finally separated from each other, with Saul returning home to Gibeah and David returning to his stronghold at En Gedi. Eventually, David moved west from En Gedi to the Desert of Moan, where the town of Carmel was nearby.
A prominent citizen of Carmel was a man named Nabal. He is described as “very wealthy,” owning 1000 goats and 3000 sheep. But he apparently gained his wealth through less-than-honorable means because he is described as “surly and mean in his dealings.” We find out later in the story that he’s also hard-hearted and hard-headed, not listening to any counsel others may offer him.
That fits him because his name means “fool.” I find it hard to believe that his parents named him this from birth. If they did, it reminds me of the opening words of C.S. Lewis’ book The Voyage Of The Dawn Treader: “There was a boy named Clarence Eustace Scrubb, and he almost deserved it.” Instead, I think Nabal’s dealings were so mean, surely, and foolish that the name stuck. Perhaps he even wore that name as a badge of honor.
It came sheep-shearing time—which is really payday for shepherds—so David sends some of his servants to Nabal to ask for whatever he might find to give as a gift to “your servants and your son David.” David’s men had been a constant source of protection for Nabal’s herdsmen, so a gift of gratitude does seem appropriate.
Nabal doesn’t just say, “No,” but he insults David. As his foolish nature controlled him, he not only insulted David, but he insulted God too by implying that David wasn’t anointed by God, but was merely ruthlessly climbing a ladder of success. Probably Nabal thought this way because that’s how he himself gained his fortune.
Nabal’s response lit David’s fuse! In fact, David’s response to his men was just four words long: “Put on your swords!”
Fortunately, one of Nabal’s servants informed his wife Abigail of this.
In the same verse where Nabal is described as mean and surely, Abigail is described as “intelligent and beautiful.” Whereas Nabal’s name means fool, Abigail’s name means “my father’s joy.” She must have been born at just the right time for her father and she continues to be a just-in-time woman!
This servant brought Abigail word of Nabal’s foolish response, telling her that David’s men were indeed “a wall around us” while they were in the desert. And then he says, “Think carefully about what you should do because disaster is hanging over us!”
Abigail acts quickly, wisely, and humbly.
The first thing she does is send hundreds of pounds of food to David and his men. She sends the gift that Nabal probably should have sent. Then Abigail herself follows the gifts on her own donkey. When she encounters David and his armed men coming down the mountain pass, she humbly falls at his feet asking David to reconsider.
Abigail doesn’t tell David he shouldn’t be angry, but she points him to something bigger and more long-lasting than his immediate thought of revenge. She reminds him that he is God’s anointed leader, and she asks, “When you become king, do you want this bloodshed on your conscience?”
Abigail’s words have an immediate effect on David, who calls off the attack, praises Abigail, and praises God for sending Abigail to him. Abigail rescued Nabal’s family and workers from imminent destruction, and she saves David from the consequences of his rash response.
The next morning, when she relates this story to Nabal, he has either a stroke or a heart attack, and then dies ten days later. Justice is served, but it’s served by God and not by David.
Later on, David takes the now-widowed Abigail as his wife.
Abigail’s name scarcely appears anywhere else in the Bible, but there is one notable appearance:
Sons were born to David in Hebron: His firstborn was Amnon the son of Ahinoam of Jezreel; his second, Kileab the son of Abigail the widow of Nabal of Carmel; the third, Absalom the son of Maakah daughter of Talmai king of Geshur; the fourth, Adonijah the son of Haggith; the fifth, Shephatiah the son of Abital; and the sixth, Ithream the son of David’s wife Eglah. (2 Samuel 3:2-5)
Amnon, first in line for the throne, raped his half-sister Tamar and was then killed by Absalom, who was Tamar’s brother. Absalom, third in line for the throne, not only avenged his sister’s disgrace but led a coup against David, where he was killed in battle.
That leaves Kileab as the obvious heir to King David’s throne, yet this is the only place he is mentioned in the Bible. I think Abigail’s wise influence saved Kileab from the drama of aspiring to be king, a painful future, and perhaps a premature death.
From this amazing story, I would like to offer three takeaways for Moms:
Use your inner beauty to persuade foolhardy men—1 Peter 3:2-3
Use your Holy Spirit-given wisdom to dissuade foolishness—Matthew 10:19
Use your prayer life to bring a legacy of peace—Psalm 116:16
Godly mothers, please be encouraged today at how much influence you exert over others in your life. Your inner beauty, God-given wisdom, humility, and prayers are making more of an impact than you may ever know. I believe in heaven the full story will be shared, and you will be praised for being a wise and faithful servant.
May God continue to bless, empower, and use our Moms to save us from the consequences of our foolishness!
David was the gold standard for every king of Israel who followed him. Numerous times throughout the history of Israel, we will see a note that a certain king either followed God like David, or turned from God unlike David. Yet there exists a wart on David’s portrait: an adultrous affair with the wife of a man in his inner circle, and then subsequent lies and a murder to cover up the affair. “The thing David had done displeased the Lord” (see 2 Samuel 11).
But I’d like to turn your attention to when this affair occurred: “In the spring, at the time when kings go off to war … David remained in Jerusalem” (2 Samuel 11:1). He was without his usual comrades. The men who knew David best, who could probably sense if something was amiss, weren’t around to warn him. When David tried to find out the identity of the bathing beauty on the roof next door to his palace, an unnamed attendant tried to remind him, “Isn’t that Bathsheba, the wife of Uriah?” but David dismissed him.
Elijah was arguably the most forceful and fearless prophet in Israel’s history. Not only did he stand up to the evil kings of Israel, but he spoke out against the kings of surrounding nations, too. In answer to Elijah’s prayer, God brought a drought on the land, and again in answer to Elijah’s prayer, God sent rain. Elijah challenged the 450 prophets of the god Baal and the 400 prophets of the goddess Asherah to a duel to the death, which ended up in a decisive victory for Yahweh. Yet, shortly after this massive victory, Elijah was depressed to the point that he wanted to die.
What led to Elijah’s depression? Something very similar to David’s slide into adultery: He was alone. Elijah ran away from Queen Jezebel’s death threat, left his servant behind, and proceeded all by himself into the desert. It was when he was without a comrade that he prayed to God, “I’ve had enough. Take my life” (see 2 Kings 17–19).
And what about Peter? He boldly claimed his loyalty to Jesus, even to the point of wielding a sword at the guards who came to arrest his Master. But when Peter was alone, after the other disciples fled, he denied three times that he knew Jesus (Matthew 26:33, 51, 69–75).
God designed us to be in relationship with others. His statement to Adam in some of the earliest words of the Bible—“It is not good for you to be alone”—are words for us still today.
If you want to go far, don’t try to go alone. If you want an accountability partner that can keep warts away from your leadership legacy, don’t go alone. If you want to extend your leadership influence, don’t go alone. If you want to honor God’s investment in you, don’t go alone. Get those friends around you who love you enough to speak the truth!
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The best way to be a first responder in prayer is to work on making prayer a habit. Prayer needs to come first. Remember: I can do more than pray, but I shouldn’t do anything until I have prayed.
King David showed us his nearly-identical “bookend prayer” that he prayed both at the beginning of his reign as king and again just before he died. We can pray similar bookend prayers when we begin with a petitionary prayer—“God, please help me”—and finish with a thankful prayer—“God, thank You for helping me.” We can also try to expand those bookends toward the middle, allowing us to live as the apostle Paul admonished in 1 Thessalonians 5:17:
Pray without ceasing
Never stop praying
Jesus gave us a model prayer at the heart—the very middle—of His Sermon on the Mount. This sermon has 107 verses of Christ’s words, making the middle verse Matthew 6:6, which starts, “When you pray….” Notice the model Jesus gave us:
Hallowing God—Our Father in heaven, hallowed be Your name
Bringing our petitions—Give us our daily bread, help us forgive, deliver us from evil
Worshiping God for His answers and for Who He is—Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen!
Surrounding this prayer is a Christ-centered life that is:
Blessed (the beatitudes)
God-glorifying—so they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven
Perfect—be perfect, even as your heavenly Father is perfect
Compassionate—when you give to the needy
Disciplined—fasting, handling your treasures
Anxiety-free—do not worry
Fruitful—every good tree bears good fruit
Secure—your foundation is on the rock
You see: Prayer helps us live out a God-honoring testimony, and that God-honoring testimony is empowered by prayer. Prayer is both the bookends AND at the heart of a Christ-centered life.
The heart of a God-honoring prayer is to live out a God-honoring testimony.
David’s bookend prayer follows the same model Jesus gave us: hallowing God, making petitions, and then worshipping God.
Christians need to be BOTH first responders in prayer AND continual responders in prayer—prayer at the beginning, prayer at the heart, and prayer at the end. This way, when God does answer, there is no doubt that He was the One who answered, and it wasn’t just because of something we did.
Prayer fuels our testimony. Our testimony glorifies God. At the heart of this testimony, our answered prayers glorify our heavenly Father and point others to Him.
Let me say it again: The heart of a God-honoring prayer is to live out a God-honoring testimony.
David said, “…I had it in my heart to build a house as the place of rest for the ark of the covenant of the Lord. … But God said to me, ‘You are not to build a house for My name…’” (1 Chronicles 28:2-3).
David’s son Solomon would later write about how we make plans in our hearts, but God directs all our steps (Proverbs 16:9, 19:21).
David not only had the desire to build this temple for God but he said the Holy Spirit gave him the plans (1 Chronicles 28:12, 19). As a result of this, David began amassing resources and organizing personnel. All of this David could then hand over to Solomon, the man who would build the house for the ark of the covenant of the Lord.
I am sure David felt a twinge of disappointment when God said “no.” Still, David continued to work the plan the Spirit had given him. Who knows how Solomon would have begun his reign as king if David hadn’t done all of this for him. Many of the plans God gives me will not be forme but for the following generations who will benefit from my diligence in those plans.
A mark of a godly leader is one who knows that obedience to God IS success.
In one of David’s psalms, he prays for success and for his heart’s desire to be fulfilled, but he also acknowledges God’s sovereignty over these things (Psalm 20). May I always keep in mind that obedience IS success. Success isn’t limited only to what I can see and measure during my lifetime.
This is part 53 in my series on godly leadership. You can check out all of my posts in this series by clicking here.
David conferred with each of his officers…. He then said to the whole assembly of Israel, “If it seems good to you and if it is the will of the Lord our God…let us bring the ark of our God back to us….” The whole assembly agreed to do this, because it seemed right to all the people. (1 Chronicles 13:1-4)
David cast a vision, consulted with his inner circle of leaders, shared the vision with the people, and got unanimous agreement from everyone.
In the above verses, notice all of the plural pronouns: we and us. David worked hard to build a consensus among the people.
David was quick to notice that the ark of the covenant of the Lord wasn’t used to consult God during the reign of King Saul (v. 3), but that’s exactly what David didn’t do. He built a consensus among the people without getting a “yes” from God. Even a unanimous decision of the people will fail if God isn’t in it!
Thankfully, in chapter 15, David corrects this omission. We read phrases like:
“we did not inquire of [God] about how to do it in the prescribed way”
we should do this “in accordance with the word of the Lord”
I also notice that David no longer sought consensus but merely announced to the people what was happening. In this successful attempt to move the ark, David’s only consultation was with God. After that, he made arrangements with the Levites, gathered his inner circle of leaders, and then asked the people to join in the celebration.
God had already spoken about how the ark of the covenant was to be moved: it was written in His word. Therefore, as noble as it might sound, there was no reason for David to seek a consensus from the people.
Even if it is not an area or activity explicitly addressed in the Bible, God’s will is to be sought before others are consulted. If God says “yes,” the leader must proceed even if the people say “no.” And the leader must not listen to the people’s “yes” if God has said “no.”
Consensus is fine in its place, but only in its proper place.
A mark of a godly leader is one who knows when to seek consensus among the people.
This is part 53 in my series on godly leadership. You can check out all of my posts in this series by clicking here.
King David was a unifier. He took people that were territorial and possessive of their own tribes and unified them into the strong nation of Israel.
The way he responded to the murders of Saul, Abner, and Ish-Boseth prompted this response: “All the people took note and were pleased; indeed, everything that the king did pleased them. So on that day all the people there and all Israel knew that the king had no part in the murder of Abner son of Ner” (2 Samuel 3:36-37).
The leaders of Israel’s various tribes then followed the lead of Abner—“All the tribes of Israel came to David at Hebron” and “all the elders of Israel” joined with David (5:1, 3).
David accepted all of this in confident humility. He knew that it wasn’t his doing but God’s. He made sure to stay reliant on God (5:19, 23), keeping in mind that he was leading to win victories for all Israel: “Then David knew that the Lord had established him as king over [all] Israel and had exalted his kingdom for the sake of His people Israel” (5:12).
Result: “[David] became more and more powerful, because the Lord God Almighty was with him” (v. 10).
God delights to empower leaders who have a humble heart to unify God’s people. God will let self-made leaders struggle in their own ability, but He will unleash all His resources to help the humble, God-dependent leader.
These God-empowered leaders are the only ones who can bring lasting unity.
Psalm 60 may have the longest introduction of any of the psalms, and it gives us some key historical information. David has been successful against the Philistines and the Moabites, and now he is fighting in Mesopotamia. While the army was focused elsewhere, the Edomites must have seen an opportunity to attack Israel, where they won a temporary victory (see the intro to Psalm 60 and 2 Samuel 8:1-3).
David’s reflexive response to this temporary setback was not retaliation or blaming, but remorse and repentance. In verses 1-4 he says “You have” five times, acknowledging that God allowed this temporary defeat. He also acknowledges that only God can restore.
Then David comes to the Selah pause: But You have raised a banner for those who fear You—a rallying point in the face of attack. Selah. (NLT)
The Selah here is David calling us to evaluate our options just as he did. We are to consider things like:
God’s help vs. our own strength
the benefits of righteousness vs. the consequences of sin
depending on God vs. depending on man
rallying under God’s banner vs. rallying under our own banner
It’s interesting to note that in the list of David’s long string of victories in 2 Samuel 8, we read this: “The Lord gave David victory wherever he went” (v. 6). But how can that be since the Israelites were temporarily defeated by the Edomites?
I think this is the key principle—We are more vulnerable to an attack (and a temporary defeat) after a victory than after a defeat. Why is that? Because victory tends to make us self-satisfied, but defeat tends to make us God-dependent.
When David confesses that God has allowed this temporary defeat, he is really confessing that he had attempted to navigate things on his own. Perhaps he thought his strategy would keep Israel secure, or that his men were trained and resourced enough to be victorious, or that David didn’t even have to pay attention to the Edomites any longer.
Whatever went through David’s mind, it was clear that he had become more self-satisfied than he was God-dependent. So David correctly recognized that he needed to run to God’s banner. He recognized that was the only secure place for him to stay.
This psalm is also called an imprecatory psalm, which is the theological way of saying, “Get ‘em, God!” Since King Saul has sent assassins to try to kill David, you can understand why David is praying this way. But I sort of wonder why he inserts a Selah pause after two rather angry-sounding sentences in verses 5 and 13.
When we are reading—or even praying—an imprecatory prayer, here are some important things to keep in mind:
This prayer is inspired by the Holy Spirit. All of the words in the prayer, including the Selah pauses, are directed by the Holy Spirit. Getting our angry thoughts out in God’s presence is the safest place to vent.
This is a prayer for justice because an injustice has been done, not just a prayer because David is upset with someone.
Since this prayer says, “Get ‘em, God,” it’s a prayer that turns matters over to God as the Ultimate Judge, taking the judgment out of my hands.
Really this is a prayer that seeks to balance something vital: The desire to see evil punished while at the same time desiring to see all evildoers come to salvation.
Think of it this way: When I sin, do I want to meet a God of justice or a God of mercy? Since we are to treat others the way that we would want to be treated, if I want to receive God’s mercy, I have to desire that for others too. Even those evildoers who have hurt me.
David’s first Selah pause comes after saying that he is innocent of any offense or wrongdoing. When we pray an imprecatory prayer, we would do well to ask the Holy Spirit to search our hearts to reveal any trespasses we have committed (see Psalm 19:12-13; 139:23-24).
David’s second Selah pause comes after he says, “Then it will be known to the ends of the earth that God rules over Jacob.” Is my “Get ‘em, God” prayer a desire for me to be seen as the overcomer or for God to be seen as glorious?
As long as my focus is on my trespassers, my focus is off my God.
I cannot be consumed by thoughts of “them” because then I rob myself of thoughts of Him!
So when you get angry enough at someone who has trespassed against you that you want to pray a “Get ‘em, God” prayer, Selah pause and pray, “Holy Spirit…
…show me my trespasses;
…help me forgive my trespassers; and
…help me to focus on my God, and not on my trespassers or my forgiven trespasses.”
…God devises ways so that a banished person does not remain banished from Him (2 Samuel 14:14).
This wise woman from Tekoa captures an important principle about God in a picturesque way. She also makes a graphical contrast that was good for David to hear—and good for me too!
This wise woman uses the same Hebrew word for both David’s plans and God’s plans but shows just how different these two plans actually are. The word is translated “device” (vv. 13, 14), but the Hebrew word chashab is more graphic: It means to weave, fabricate, or plait something that has been well designed.
Here’s the contrast: David’s “plan” is really not a plan at all; it’s simply passive procrastination, a wistful longing for things to turn out well. David is doing nothing, which means he is squandering his opportunities. This wise woman says, “It’s like you are spilling water on the ground which can never be recovered.”
God’s device/design is incomparably better! God is both the Designer and the Artisan. He has both the plan of restoration and He is fabricating the plan. His designs are intricate and beautiful. In fact, the same Hebrew word is used for the artisans who fabricated the items that were to be used for worship in God’s tabernacle.
Even though this woman flatteringly said David was “like an angel,” David’s devices are nothing compared to God’s device! God wants to give us His designs—He wants us to be a part of His masterful artistry!
Notice how this psalmist contrasts man’s designs with God’s designs—
The Lord foils the plans of the nations; He thwarts the purposes of the peoples. But the plans of the Lord stand firm forever, the purposes of His heart through all generations. (Psalm 33:10-11)
God will share with me His beautifully intricate plans and masterful device IF I will ask Him with a heart that is ready to obediently go to work. Or, I can try to work out my own devices, but they will most likely end up as merely spilled water that comes to nothing and accomplishes nothing.
I think you can see that God’s devises are always THE best option!