What a great vision of being rescued by God the Father on high! I had to read it a couple times just to soak in all the great beauty of God’s intentions for David, His people, and for us. While this is part of David’s song, this same God rescues us on a regular basis. How do we respond to that grace and mercy?
For David, his gift of song and music was his go-to response. This vision starts with seeing an angry God who is coming to earth. The symbolic language refers to a bold and public display of God’s power.
Saul just lost another of his children to the David camp (so to speak)! What do we make of Saul’s obsession? Can you in any way relate to how preoccupied Saul is with planning for David’s demise? I love to plan things as much as the next guy, but usually for things that benefit others or are for enjoyment of some kind. I can go overboard sometimes in the planning. I get being OVERLY focused on something.
This tormenting spirit hounding Saul isn’t helping. I’ve been thinking about how God is either sending this spirit, because verse 10 refers to “a tormenting spirit from God,” or God is allowing the spirit to create chaos within Saul. Once a respected king, Saul is becoming a bit of a spectacle.
In the first chapter of Judges, we read about Othniel. He had won the privilege of marrying Caleb’s daughter by conquering some land. Othniel was now both a nephew and son-in-law to Caleb. Had God been preparing Othniel for such a time as this? We hear “The Spirit of the Lord came upon him.” With the Lord’s help, Othniel was able to have victory over the King of Aram followed by 40 years of peace.
There doesn’t appear to be much to the story of Othniel reported beyond this. We do see the first instance of the 4-part pattern playing out here. God was listening for the cries of his people despite being angry with them. I think of a parent being on the alert to rescue their children at any age if there is a cry for help.
Today we learn the rinse and repeat cycle God will use to get the Israelite’s attention. There are four parts to this cycle. #1 – People go astray. #2 God turns them over to their enemies. #3 The people cry out to God. #4 God sends his rescue. God didn’t intend to leave his people abandoned. He will continue to send helpers to get them on track. From the sounds of it, his plan worked temporarily but didn’t sustain itself very well.
It’s interesting to note how the Israelites would always revert back to the other gods when left without a leader. It’s easy for us to make judgments on their behavior. Think of what a toddler can accomplish in just minutes when a parent is looking the other way. Or, the chaos of a classroom when the students are left to fend for themselves if the teacher leaves the room. We are curious by nature, always testing the limit. Does this help explain what is happening here and why the Israelites can’t keep their focus on God?
For those who have never felt persecution for their faith, the first part of today’s reading must seem a little foreign. Certainly, if we have encountered such it’s still hard to imagine what it was like for those early Christians. Most of Paul’s audience here would be non-Jews who hadn’t known God for long at all. It must feel like they had just jumped into a burning fire.
So many early Christians lost their lives for their faith. Around the world today, we see those same things happening at an alarming rate. While many years have passed, the truth still remains. “God will provide rest for you who are being persecuted and also for us when the Lord Jesus appears from heaven.” We are included in this promise of rest even if we haven’t ever been persecuted personally.