Psalms 44 helps us show a little bit of the difference between Christianity and other worldviews. At the end of the day, a lot of it comes down to what we actually place our trust in. We all trust something sometime.
Psa 44:5 Through thee will we push down our enemies: through thy name will we tread them under that rise up against us.
Psa 44:6 For I will not trust in my bow, neither shall my sword save me.
Psa 44:7 But thou hast saved us from our enemies, and hast put them to shame that hated us.
Psa 44:8 In God we boast all the day long, and praise thy name for ever. Selah.
Obviously, this applies to a lot more than the military example that we are provided with. We have things on earth that we use. We do these things by ourselves, and it is pretty easy to feel self-sufficient.
To use the example in the chapter, the world tells you that when you are out on the battlefield by yourself, all that you have left are your weapons and your own courage. You need to believe that you can fight your way out and survive the event. If your weapons break or become ineffective, then it is all over.
Christianity turns that on its head. Yes, if we are soldiers we know that we need to have good weapons. You prepare for battle, and you make sure that you are as well prepared as it can be. However, the main difference is that it doesn’t end there for us. We trust in the fact that God is in control of the situation.
That is significant for a few reasons. First, we know that God has a plan. It doesn’t end with me and my ability. Even if the situation seems impossible, God is capable of making anything happen. Think about Gideon. There is no way that he should have won that battle, but because that was what God wanted to happen, it came to be.
Second, this does show us something about being thankful and appreciative. In verses five and six, we hear all about how God helped them plow through their enemies and how the sword is not worth trusting in. Verses seven and eight bring the acknowledgment right to God. It is obvious that we are supposed to boast about all that God has done. We don’t boast about what we have done, but we are supposed to give all the credit where it belongs.
This was an interesting chapter. However, I think that the main point of this particular passage is how we need to trust that God has a plan in place. We probably don’t know all of the details, but we need to acknowledge that God has the power to do things that we could never dream about. Then, we need to remember that God deserves credit for everything. After all, if He has the plan, He deserves the credit. With these two items, we can keep everything in perspective.
I find the beginning of 1 Samuel 27 to be somewhat problematic.
1Sa 27:1 And David said in his heart, I shall now perish one day by the hand of Saul: there is nothing better for me than that I should speedily escape into the land of the Philistines; and Saul shall despair of me, to seek me any more in any coast of Israel: so shall I escape out of his hand.
1Sa 27:2 And David arose, and he passed over with the six hundred men that were with him unto Achish, the son of Maoch, king of Gath.
The reason that this worries me a little bit is because it seems like it was a decision made out of his own fear. There is no indication that he talked to God. The decision was made within his own heart.
The problem with that is that maybe it was not the will of God. When we act on our own, how can we be sure that we are doing God wants us to be doing?
What then could have been a better approach?
Maybe it would be a little bit better to be like Gideon. He was constantly asking God if he was doing the right thing. While that might sound kind of submissive, that is kind of the point. We have a responsibility to listen to what God says because we call ourselves children of God. Because of that relationship, there is also respect that comes along with that.
Of course, we always need to keep in mind that David was called a man after God’s own heart. It is possible that he was talking to God during this whole time and was perfectly in line with His will. The Bible never says that he was not doing what God would want.
However, I think that what I wrote today is still relevant regardless of what David did. We need to make sure that we are doing what God would have us do.
Today, in 1 Samuel 9, we meet one of the more well-known figures in the history of Israel. Saul was directly chosen by God to be the first king of Israel. God told Samuel ahead of time that a man would come in to visit him, and that man was to be named king.
1Sa 9:16 To morrow about this time I will send thee a man out of the land of Benjamin, and thou shalt anoint him to be captain over my people Israel, that he may save my people out of the hand of the Philistines: for I have looked upon my people, because their cry is come unto me.
It is interesting that Saul did not come looking to be king of Israel. He came looking for his father’s donkeys that had wandered away.
I think that that is often how God plans on using us. He chooses people for who they are. It was clear that God does not necessarily want to have a king in Israel. However, he did choose Saul to lead the people. Even though Saul certainly made some bad decisions later in life, he was the man who had been chosen.
Think about all of the other reluctant leaders. We read about Gideon not too long ago. He was not seeking out a leadership position, but God specifically chose him. Obviously, the power was from God, but He worked through Gideon.
Another great example is Esther. She wasn’t necessarily looking to be the spokesperson for the Jewish nation, but God put her in the right place at the right time to be an advocate. He was able to use her as well.
I think this is what people don’t realize today. We all think that we need to be someone amazing to be used by God. That is simply not true. God will use whoever is willing to be used.
It didn’t matter who they were before. Obviously repentance and forgiveness are vital if we want to be used by God, and we need to be a living sacrifice. However, never think that you are too small to be used by God. It is God’s power that matters anyway.
Rom 12:1 I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service.
Today is going to be an interesting day on this blog because there was a verse in Judges 9 that I think needs addressing. I might be getting in over my head theologically, but I’m going to try.
Jdg 9:23 Then God sent an evil spirit between Abimelech and the men of Shechem; and the men of Shechem dealt treacherously with Abimelech:
Surely, you can see why some people might have a problem with this passage. How could God send an evil spirit? If He is all good, how could He possibly send something that is evil? It might be even more important to wonder why God would send (if that is even what it means) an evil spirit.
First things first, I want you to know that I am using the King James Version above. You might wonder why that matters.
All of us need to remember that the Bible we read today is a translation from Hebrew. Because I am using computer software from e-Sword, it allows me to see the original Hebrew word.
The word here was ra’. This word was used a variety of different contexts. For example, it can be used to mean morally wrong like you might have initially thought when reading through this verse giving the English connotation of evil. However, it can also mean simply bad. In that case, it has been used to mean things like adversity.
It is entirely within the character of God to bring about adversity. For example, He put Jonah in a giant fish thanks to his disobedience. You could definitely call that adversity. In fact, the Bible itself describes the storm that Jonah was in as evil in Jonah 1:8, and the identical Hebrew word is used in that verse as well.
Now, let’s think about why Jonah was in trouble. I already mentioned it was because of his disobedience. He was supposed to go to Nineveh to bring about repentance, and he was afraid because he thought the people there would harm him. Since he didn’t want to go to Nineveh, he hopped on a boat going the opposite way thinking he could get away from God. You know how the story ends.
What if we compare that to what happened in Judges 9?
Abimelech was the son of Gideon, and he certainly had ambition. He wanted to be in charge of Israel, so he decided that the easiest way to get to the top would be to murder all of his siblings. He killed 70 of them, and only Jotham escaped.
Wait a minute. Did you catch what happened there? He sinned deliberately to do what he wanted to do. He didn’t care which one of the siblings God wanted to be King or if God wanted to do something else altogether; he thought he could make up his own plans.
As a result, God intervened to correct what was happening. With Jonah, He turned him around and made him go preach in Nineveh with spectacular results. With Abimelech, He brought down the dynasty that had been developed through evil means. God brought about these storms to correct what was going wrong.
If you take away nothing else from what I have read today, please realize that people cannot just pull a few verses out of the Bible and say it is wrong. For example, if you looked only at that passage from Judges in the King James Version, it would not be hard to imagine someone taking out of context and saying that God is evil in the sense of being morally evil. Obviously, that would be an incorrect assumption.
God does allow storms to come into our lives to bring us back on track like He did with Jonah, and He even allows trials into our lives to make us stronger. Think about Paul on the road to Damascus. That was certainly a difficult time, but it helped turn Paul into one of the strongest writers and missionaries in the early church. There is no evil intent from God but rather adversity that helps us become greater forces for God.
Judges chapter 7 seems like a really odd chapter. First, Gideon has an entire army, but God tells him that he has too many men. Why?
Jdg 7:2 And the LORD said unto Gideon, The people that are with thee are too many for me to give the Midianites into their hands, lest Israel vaunt themselves against me, saying, Mine own hand hath saved me.
Therefore, God told Gideon then to ask the men if they were afraid. Of the 22,000 men who were originally there, only 1000 said they were not afraid.
However, God wasn’t done trimming their forces.
He told Gideon to take the men down to the water. He was to pay attention to how they drank.
Jdg 7:5 So he brought down the people unto the water: and the LORD said unto Gideon, Every one that lappeth of the water with his tongue, as a dog lappeth, him shalt thou set by himself; likewise every one that boweth down upon his knees to drink.
Jdg 7:6 And the number of them that lapped, putting their hand to their mouth, were three hundred men: but all the rest of the people bowed down upon their knees to drink water.
Jdg 7:7 And the LORD said unto Gideon, By the three hundred men that lapped will I save you, and deliver the Midianites into thine hand: and let all the other people go every man unto his place.
With 300 men, God was going to eliminate the entire army of the Midianites. That would have been enough to make me a little bit nervous. I know that I certainly believe in the power of God and intellectually understand that He can do anything, but God was really forcing Gideon to prove that he was really willing to trust God.
That being said, Gideon is still the same guy who liked to have additional assurance. God again gave him another piece of evidence just to ensure that everything would go all right.
Jdg 7:9 And it came to pass the same night, that the LORD said unto him, Arise, get thee down unto the host; for I have delivered it into thine hand.
Jdg 7:10 But if thou fear to go down, go thou with Phurah thy servant down to the host:
Jdg 7:11 And thou shalt hear what they say; and afterward shall thine hands be strengthened to go down unto the host. Then went he down with Phurah his servant unto the outside of the armed men that were in the host.
He overheard the men talking in the camp that they had dreams that they were overrun by Gideon. That was all the proof that Gideon needed, so he went back to camp and got his men ready for war.
However, this is where the really odd part comes into play. The attack of the Israelites was basically blowing trumpets, smashing pottery and holding torches. Essentially, they scared the Midianite army all the way out of camp without ever raising the sword. In fact, the Midianites turned on themselves in the confusion. How many battles do you know like that?
I think that this entire passage is a testament to the power of God. First of all, reducing the army to such a small number and then winning the battle without really attacking whatsoever is pretty remarkable, and I cannot think of another time in history where a similar event happened. For me, that directly points to divine intervention and the power of God. Only He could make this type of result happen.
Gideon is easily one of my favorite characters in the Bible, and we are introduced to him at the beginning of Judges chapter 6. He came into leadership because (surprise) the people of Israel had been rebellious once again. The Midianites came in and essentially wrecked everything in Israel.
As a result, one day Gideon was trying to get his wheat put away quickly before the Midianites came to burn it down just like they had done all over Israel. Then, all of a sudden, an angel appeared to him and said that he was going to save Israel. Needless to say, Gideon didn’t buy it right away.
Jdg 6:15 And he said unto him, Oh my Lord, wherewith shall I save Israel? behold, my family is poor in Manasseh, and I am the least in my father’s house.
Because of earthly constraints, Gideon was worried that he would not be able to do what God had called on him specifically to do. However, the angel didn’t seem to have much doubt.
Jdg 6:16 And the LORD said unto him, Surely I will be with thee, and thou shalt smite the Midianites as one man.
After the angel essentially torched his offering and disappeared, Gideon recognized that it truly was God that he was dealing with and knew he had to be obedient.
His obedience was immediately put to the test when God told him to go and tear down the altar to Baal. Not only was he supposed to tear it down, but he was also supposed to replace it with an altar to God.
He actually went through with it with the help of some servants, and when everyone in the city woke up that morning and saw what Gideon had done, they wanted to put him to death immediately.
Gideon’s father told the angry people that if indeed Baal was really upset with his altar being torn down, he would be able to plead for himself. The people could not really argue with that one, so Gideon had a little time to gather his army.
However, even after he did this, he wanted a little bit more proof that God would protect them.
Jdg 6:36 And Gideon said unto God, If thou wilt save Israel by mine hand, as thou hast said,
Jdg 6:37 Behold, I will put a fleece of wool in the floor; and if the dew be on the fleece only, and it be dry upon all the earth beside, then shall I know that thou wilt save Israel by mine hand, as thou hast said.
Jdg 6:38 And it was so: for he rose up early on the morrow, and thrust the fleece together, and wringed the dew out of the fleece, a bowl full of water.
Jdg 6:39 And Gideon said unto God, Let not thine anger be hot against me, and I will speak but this once: let me prove, I pray thee, but this once with the fleece; let it now be dry only upon the fleece, and upon all the ground let there be dew.
Jdg 6:40 And God did so that night: for it was dry upon the fleece only, and there was dew on all the ground.
For today, that is where we leave this story of Gideon. However, I think that what we need to take away from this today is the fact that God does not mind if we do not understand His will. He knows that we are indeed humans, and we cannot always comprehend what He wants for us. However, when we ask these questions, we need to be prepared to follow. Gideon could have had all that proof and decided to go home. That would not have been the right response. However, he did not decide to go home, and he did what he actually was chosen to do.
Abraham was old, and he decided to send his servant to try to find a wife for Isaac. This might seem like a kind of odd practice by today’s standards, but he definitely had confidence that this type of thing would work.
Gen 24:7 The LORD God of heaven, which took me from my father’s house, and from the land of my kindred, and which spake unto me, and that sware unto me, saying, Unto thy seed will I give this land; he shall send his angel before thee, and thou shalt take a wife unto my son from thence.
However, as his servant journeyed to try to find this woman, he was still a little bit conflicted and doubtful. Despite those feelings, he decided to turn to prayer.
Gen 24:12 And he said, O LORD God of my master Abraham, I pray thee, send me good speed this day, and shew kindness unto my master Abraham.
Gen 24:13 Behold, I stand here by the well of water; and the daughters of the men of the city come out to draw water:
Gen 24:14 And let it come to pass, that the damsel to whom I shall say, Let down thy pitcher, I pray thee, that I may drink; and she shall say, Drink, and I will give thy camels drink also: let the same be she that thou hast appointed for thy servant Isaac; and thereby shall I know that thou hast shewed kindness unto my master.
Basically, the servant admitted that he really had no idea, and he wanted very specific proof that the woman that he chose to bring back to Isaac was the right one.
As it turns out, everything worked according to plan, and Isaac ended up with an excellent wife.
This story may sound somewhat reminiscent of Gideon in Judges chapter 6 when he asked God to make the fleece dry even though the rest of the ground would be covered by the morning dew.
In both situations, people wanted definitive proof that God was with them in their respective missions.
Many of us have probably thought along these lines. We know that what we are doing is right and exactly what God wants, but we might want more tangible proof.
While I can’t promise that you’ll ever receive this type of tangible proof since God never promises that, there are some good Bible verses that assure that wherever we go, God will be with us.
Heb 13:5 Let your conversation be without covetousness; and be content with such things as ye have: for he hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee.
Heb 13:6 So that we may boldly say, The Lord is my helper, and I will not fear what man shall do unto me.
Jer 23:23 Am I a God at hand, saith the LORD, and not a God afar off?
Mat 28:18 And Jesus came and spake unto them, saying, All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth.
Mat 28:19 Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost:
Mat 28:20 Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen.
Just like Abraham’s servant, we have God with us wherever we go. The aforementioned verses promise that, even though we may not necessarily have quite the tangible proof that those two did, we need to have faith that everything will go according to God’s will.
Jer 29:11 For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the LORD, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end.