In a meeting with John Bevere in 1994, Jim Bakker said, “John, this prison wasn’t God’s judgment on my life. It was his mercy. John, if I would have kept living the way I was living, I would have ended up in hell forever and ever. I am so grateful to God. …I loved Jesus. I didn’t fear God.”
Those words haunted me as I read this week. Looking back, I recognize times when I didn’t fear God. I wasn’t alone.
The Sons of Eli and Samuel
1 Samuel 8:3, “But his sons did not follow his ways. Instead, they made money dishonestly, accepted bribes, and perverted justice.” New English Translation
Eli’s sons disregarded the holy things and gave in to their lust. Samuel’s sons became greedy and dishonest. They didn’t fear God.
Like them, our battle is with the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, see 1 John 2:15-17.
“…ask God to help you become a strong, honest, competent, and godly leader like Samuel…”New English Translation note on 1 Samuel 7:13-17
1 Samuel 14:10, “But if they say, ‘Come up against us,’ we will go up. For in that case, the Lord has given them into the hand of Israel!” NET
Jonathan asked for a sign, just like Gideon. His father Saul didn’t know he went. Gideon’s father didn’t know Gideon tore down the idol of Baal, Judges 6:25-32.
“Jonathan, Saul’s son, bravely decides to attack the Philistines and has great faith in the Lord’s protection and provision (v.6). …Tired, outnumbered, and without proper weapons, he faces incredible odds, yet his faith in God’s strength and power makes him a victor.”NET note on 1 Samuel 14:24-26
1 Samuel 14:35, “Then Saul built an altar for the Lord; it was the first time he had built an altar for the Lord.” NET
In 1 Samuel 13:6-14, Saul offered sacrifices on an altar someone else built. The altar and the sacrifices were prepared for Samuel. This time, Saul honored God by building the altar and providing the sacrifice.
1 Samuel 15:23, “For rebellion is like the sin of divination, and presumption is like the evil of idolatry. …” NET
Saul lost his fear of God. (Dear God, keep me from rebellion and presumption.)
Why I Choose to Fear God
Psalms 23:1, “The Lord is my shepherd; I lack nothing.” NET
- He leads me, v. 2-3.
- He strengthens me, v. 3.
- He is with me, v. 4.
- He feeds me, v. 4.
- He refreshes me, v. 5.
- He pursues me, v. 6.
Benefits of Fearing God
1 Samuel 20:3, “…there is about one step between me and death! …” NET
“Put yourself in David’s situation. A king has relentlessly sought to kill you. Although you’ve experienced God’s protection and favor, anxiety creeps into your heart. What would you do? In this moment in David’s history, he sought the help of a friend…”NET notes on 1 Samuel 20:1-11
Anxious? Call a friend. More importantly, be the friend others call. Trust your best friend – Jesus!
Psalms 50:15, “Pray to me when you are in trouble. I will deliver you, and you will honor me.” NET
Psalms 34:7, 9, “The angel of the Lord camps around the Lord’s loyal followers and delivers them. 9) Fear the Lord, you chosen people of his, for those who fear him lack nothing.” NET
To live a long happy life, don’t speak evil words or use deceptive speech, turn from evil, do what’s right, strive for peace, and promote peace, Psalms 34:12-14. Remember his teachings, keep his commandments, they provide a long, full life and well-being.” Proverbs 3:1-2.
Psalms 36:5, 7, 10, “O Lord, your loyal love reaches to the sky, … 5) How precious is your loyal love, O God! …10) “Extend your loyal love to your faithful followers, …” NET
“David mentioned God’s mercy or loyal love (Hebrew, chesed) three times (vv. 5, 7, 10). Reflect on how the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit have each shown chesed to you.”NET note on Psalms 36
I also pondered:
- Am I following empty things, 1 Samuel 12:21?
- What am I mourning that I should forget, 1 Samuel 16:1?
- Was David ruddy like his great-grandmother Ruth, 1 Samuel 16:12; Ruth 4:21-22?
- Did Eliab believe David killed a lion and a bear, see 1 Samuel 17:34-37? Is disbelief why he thought David was proud and deceitful, 1 Samuel 17:28?
- Did Jonathan give David the robe that designated him as heir apparent, 1 Samuel 18:4?
- If I had accomplished everything David had, would I still remain humble, 1 Samuel 18:23, 30?
A sculpture of a lyre at the entrance of the City of David
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