The contrast between the characters of Saul and David reflects the contrast between the ways of the flesh (the unregenerate self-life) and the Spirit.

Galatians 5:17 17 For the flesh sets its desire against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; for these are in opposition to one another,

Saul is jealous as he sees signs of God’s favor distinctively upon David. He is like Cain, who resented that his brother Abel had God’s favor. We know that Abel had the witness that he was in a right relationship with God since he had confidence in God’s plan of redemption rather than any of his own. Cain rose up to kill Abel. Saul has murderous intentions to do away with David.

When a ‘mental attitude sin’ is repeated until it becomes ingrained in one’s character, it becomes a personality trait. A repeated mental attitude sin becomes a habit and then is spiritually reinforced.  They become ‘mean-spirited,’ or known as having a ‘negative spirit,’ a ‘critical spirit,’ or a ‘jealous spirit.’

Saul’s jealousy gives us an example. God does not directly inflict people with evil but, for His purposes, can permissively give people up to the evil spirit that they are already submitting to (Romans 1:24).

Samuel 18:10 (NASB) 10 Now it came about on the next day that an evil spirit from God came mightily upon Saul, and he raved in the midst of the house, while David was playing the harp with his hand, as usual; and a spear was in Saul’s hand.

The jealousy turns into fear, then anger, and then a murderous spirit. In verse 11, Saul attempts to kill David. He uses his spear twice (v.11), attempts to have him killed in battle (v.17), to ensnare him through his daughters, and orders his men and his son, Jonathan, to kill him (19:1). Saul hurls a spear a third time (19:10).

  1. Campbell Morgan provides helpful insight:

 “The tendency of modern thinking, to deny the actuality of the influence of spirits on human life, is entirely out of harmony with Scripture’s teaching.  Therein, the fact is always recognized.  Two things, however, are illustrated in this story, and the whole Biblical revelation corroborate them.  The first is, that the spirits that have access to the soul of man are all evil; they are spirits of lawlessness.  There is but One Spirit Who brings to the soul the influences of purity and wisdom and strength, and that is the Spirit of God.  The second fact is, that these evil spirits are also under the control of God.  They are permitted to act, but only within His government.  Satan must seek permission to tempt Job; he must obtain the Apostles by asking, if he would sift them as wheat. The messenger of Satan may buffet, but only within limitations fixed by God. Finally, no created being, whether angelic or human, escapes the government of God.” (p. 83, Searchlights from the Word).

Another example of God’s supreme authority over evil spirits, and His use of them for His purposes, is found in 1 Kings 22 and 2 Chronicles 18; when the Lord conscripts a lying spirit to give the evil king Ahab false confidence, enticing him into a battle which, as a means of judgment, would ultimately bring him to his death. Ahab had already proved himself as one given over to the counsel of deceiving spirits.

Back to our story:

Saul’s plans to kill David backfire. Those to whom he gives orders betray him. Jonathan seeks to be a mediator and pleads David’s case before Saul. His daughter helps him to escape. His troops come under the influence of the Spirit of the Lord, when they catch up with him at Naioth near Ramah, where David is living with Samuel, the head of the prophets. They begin to prophesy, recognizing God’s anointing is on David. They speak words of praise and prayers to God and words of exhortation and rebuke to each other. Saul himself is subdued and humiliated by the Spirit when he is on his way to apprehend David. (19:24).

NEW TESTAMENT READING: JOHN 8:31-59

The depth of self-deception among the religious leaders is clearly seen when they say, “We are descendants of Abraham. We have never been slaves to anyone.” (John 8:33).  They have forgotten their slavery in Egypt, more importantly, their slavery to sin. Jesus tells them the truth that will make them free, but they prefer to live in lies. The truth is that they are more akin to the devil, the father of lies, than Abraham, the father of their faith. The truth is that they need to repent, believe the Promise of Abraham, and receive Jesus as the True Savior that He is.  Only the truth about God’s gracious provision of salvation through faith in Christ can liberate them from sin and death.

This passage gives us insight into the character of Satan, the devil. Satan means adversary. He stands against the purposes of God. The word ‘Devil’ is related to slander. He accuses the believer. He loves evil. He was and is a murderer, hates the truth, loves lies, and speaks lies.

Notice that the religious leaders reply with bigotry and prejudice. Not only do they accuse Jesus of being a devil, but add a derogatory ethnic slur, calling him ‘a Samaritan’.

Jesus’ parable of a certain Samaritan addresses their prejudice (Luke 10:33f).

Jesus also teaches that self-glory counts for nothing.

Jesus again claims equality with God and pre-existence as the Son of God.  The Pharisees charge Him with blasphemy.

John 8:58-59 (NASB) 58 Jesus said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, before Abraham was born, I am.” 59 Therefore they picked up stones to throw at Him, but Jesus hid Himself and went out of the temple.

TODAY’S READING FROM PSALMS

PSALM 112:1-10

Here is a Psalm of Spiritual Prosperity.

Those who fear and delight in the Lord are ultimately successful, blessed, wealthy, with enduring eternal works (v.3 & v.9), enlightened, generous, compassionate, righteous, not overcome by evil, long remembered, confident, fearless, and face their foes triumphantly. They have influence and honor. Eternity will reveal this to be true.

In contrast:

Psalm 112:10 (NASB) 10 The wicked will see it and be vexed; He will gnash his teeth and melt away; The desire of the wicked will perish.

What kind of person are you? In the end, it will be clear in whom you were placing your trust.

Psalm 112:7 (NASB) 7 He will not fear evil tidings; His heart is steadfast, trusting in the LORD.

TODAY’S READING FROM THE BOOK OF PROVERBS

Proverbs 15:12-14 (NASB) 12 A scoffer does not love one who reproves him, He will not go to the wise. 13 A joyful heart makes a cheerful face, but when the heart is sad, the spirit is broken. 14 The mind of the intelligent seeks knowledge, But the mouth of fools feeds on folly.

PRAY FOR THE NATIONS

ERITREA

State of Eritrea

Africa

Geography

Area: 121,100 sq. km

Arid, temperate highland plateau and a strategic desert plain along the busy Red Sea Coast shipping lanes.

Population: 5,223,994    Annual Growth: 3.15%

Capital: Asmara

Urbanites: 21.6%

HDI Rank: 165 of 182 (UN Human Development Reports 2009)

Peoples

Peoples: 19 (47% unreached) All peoples

Official language: Tigrinya. Tigre, Arabic, and English (especially for secondary and tertiary education) also widely used    Languages: 18 All languages

Religion

Largest Religion: Muslim

Religion

               

Pop %

Ann Gr

Christians

2,471,472

47.31

3.3

Evangelicals

111,400

2.1

4.6

Muslim

2,625,579

50.26

 

Answer to Prayer

The growth of the Church in Eritrea is strong, despite steadily intensifying government oppression. Persecution and restraints on personal freedoms test believers sorely. But the closure of most denominations and ministries has prompted the flowering of a hard-pressed but growing house church movement. There are growing renewal movements in the mainline churches: Medhaniel Alem (Orthodox) and Tebadasso (Catholic). Many in prison or en-route to refugee camps in another country have received the gospel of Jesus Christ in their time of trial, including some from the less-reached people groups of Eritrea.

Challenge for Prayer

Missionaries, as such, are no longer welcome in Eritrea. Since 2002, almost all foreign aid workers, Christian or otherwise, have been expelled or forced to leave. Much work has largely been suspended or terminated as a result. The few that remain, along with the national workers, keep well under the radar and are confined in their activities. Pray for open doors for workers to return to Eritrea; pray that those who do have access will move quickly, taking advantage of every opportunity to demonstrate God’s love.

PRAYER: Lord, give us a steadfast heart. May we not be intimidated or distracted by the taunts of our enemies. May we not give in to mental attitude, sins, or deceiving spirits.  It is our joy to rest in the Righteousness of our Lord and Savior, His perfect work of redemption. It is our privilege to take the whole armor of God and stand in Christ’s victory. What a friend we have in Jesus! Help us to be good friends to our brothers and sisters in Christ. Give us a heart of compassion, which is so evident in Jesus, the friend of sinners. We pray for our brothers and sisters in Eritrea, where there is so much persecution. Strengthen them, protect them, and give them wisdom and boldness to win the lost. We pray that we who are blessed with so much here in the West will be faithful, wise, and bold in our witness to the gospel of Jesus Christ, here and as we go into all the world to make disciples. We ask this in Jesus’ Name, Amen.