How many of you have ever found yourself in a place or experience you never expected? Yep. Just as I thought. Pretty much…we all have. When I think of ”my own story”, I think the ratio of unexpected to excepted is probably about 10/1 at best. Even being here at Fort Leavenworth for a second time was unexpected thanks to a very last minute change in military orders. Many of you know how that goes. We can often feel like the Army or some other outside factor is writing our story, but deep inside we know it’s God. Today I am not going to really tell you “my story”, even though I love to tell it. I feel the Holy Spirit leading me today to focus not so much on my story but instead what I am learning about my story through His Story.
Every so often, I feel the Lord nudging me to read the Bible in its entirety. Genesis to Revelation. This is probably my fourth time reading God’s Story this way and I have never completed it in a year. This would be why a Bible reading plan is not the best choice for me. I prefer a more freestyle approach if that is even a thing. This year is no different in that it is November and I am only just now finishing 1 Samuel. Trusting Him to lead. He is purposeful and I know I am where I need to be when I need to be there. Even though this is my fourth time reading through the Bible, I love how the Lord is so faithful to reveal and highlight such freshness and deeper understanding each time.
Right now, in 1 Samuel, I am completely captivated by David’s anointing and his journey to fulfill His calling as King. This journey begins in 1 Samuel 16 and continues through 2 Samuel. It is no short journey, 15ish years. I am sure it looked nothing like what David expected when the Lord, through His anointing, set David apart. You can relax, we are not going to read through it all in this post. I will be honest and say that I have struggled for days to figure out how to share what the Lord has been highlighting here with out doing just that though!
Here’s the beauty of the interconnected nature of God’s Word and the beauty of how the Holy Spirit leads. I went to bed Sunday night praying about this and I woke the next morning with Psalm 27 pounding in my heart, As I read it, I realized this Psalm was David’s story. These were his words written in the midst of some of the hardest days in his journey recorded in 1 Samuel. This Pslam reminds me of all the Lord revealed to me through 1 Samuel. So open up your Bible and hear David tell a part of His story. Take the time now to quiet your heart and read Psalm 27.
I love this passage. To look at my Bible is to know that this has been a Psalm that the Lord brings me to time and time again. There is so much that resonates with my heart and spirit. Yet when I look at it in context of when David wrote this, I realize that my ability to relate is limited. David wrote this after Samuel (well really the Lord through His prophet Samuel) sought David out and anointed him, setting him apart to be the next King. He wrote this after he slayed the giant with 3 smooth stones. This was written after he played before the king to calm him and led the king’s army into great victories. This was written after the spirit of the Lord left Saul and he was provoked to jealousy and sought to kill the one that the Lord had chosen to replace him. This was written in the midst of Saul’s pursuit to end David’s life. David was driven from his home, his family. He was forced to flee and hide in caves… seeking aid and assistance from strangers and enemies all the while pursued by a man he once faithfully served. I am sure this is not what David imagined when Samuel pulled him from the fields and anointed him. In the midst of this, however, is where David pours out this Psalm to the Lord. Placing His trust again and again in His God even when the journey did not look like what He imagined it would.
This Psalm is rich and full and we could spend days unpacking it all. Today though I want to highlight a few verses that correspond to the truths I have been pondering while camping out in 1 Samuel this past month…
Let’s start with Verse 3: “Though an army besiege me, my heart will not fear; though war break out against me, even then I will be confident.”
Here and in the verse before we see that David is pouring out the reality of his situation. He is pursued and in danger yet not afraid. He is confident. Confident in himself? Absolutely not! He is confident in the God that had anointed him, called him, and was with him.
As I ponder this confidence that comes from David’s anointing, I am reminded that 1 John 2 tells us that we too, as believers, have been anointed by the Holy Spirit. We can claim and stand in that same confidence. We have been anointed, called and God is with us as well.
No one is trying to kill us though. At least not physically. God’s word tells us though that we have an enemy that is trying to steal, kill, and destroy us… our hearts, our spirits, our callings. Like David, we can stand in confidence. The confidence that comes from the Lord alone. That is very good news!
Now let’s focus on verse 11: “Teach me your way, Lord; lead me in a straight path because of my oppressors.”
Man, this verse has redefined how I have viewed my journey… my path! Before we go there though, it is vital that we recognize what David wrote prior to this verse. We need to understand where His focus was in verses 4-10. His eyes, his heart, his thoughts, his focus were on the Lord. He was fully submitting his desires to the Lord and recognizing that the victory was found there. Wow! Worship, surrender, and then verse 11…
David asks the Lord to lead him in a straight path BECAUSE OF his oppressors! Did you get that? Not regardless of or in spite of but BECAUSE OF. God was using all the hard in David’s life to lead him STRAIGHT to his calling. This is a game changer friends! You know all the hard in our lives. All the things that make it hard and messy, the things that hurt or make you angry, the things that make you doubt or feel forgotten, the things that make you want to quit, your oppressors, my oppressors… God, our heavenly Father will use them to lead us in a straight path. Let that sink in. He has overcome the world and so have you!
And lastly, lets move a verse ahead to the end of Psalm 27. Verses 13-14: “I remain confident of this: I will see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living. Wait for the Lord; be strong and take heart and wait for the Lord.”
This is where the Lord has really been speaking deeply to my heart. Remember David is writing this in the midst of a hard and probably terrifying season of waiting on the promise of God that came with His anointing. I am sure he never imagined the wait would be so long and so hard. On two occasions he had the opportunity to “expedite” the plan by killing Saul. On both occasions he chose to trust God. He chose to obey God and wait on God to bring about the calling. I read in a commentary earlier that the anointing of David was because the Lord saw his heart. The years that followed were all about his character. They were about turning the shepherd boy into a King after God’s own heart. That does not happen over night! The same is true for me…for us. It takes time to mold us for His calling. Even those oppressors, when used by the Lord, refine us into who He desires us to be. Wait on the Lord! It is hard to do that in the middle of the journey especially when that journey does not look or feel like we thought. Hard when it is long and the oppressors are heavy. Let us wait, however, in patience and strength. Know and remember this, my friend: God is faithful to complete his promises and his callings.
Let’s take heart! Even David, a man after God’s own heart, cried out to his God. We can do the same with the confidence of knowing….
We are anointed.
He makes our paths straight.
We will see His goodness…We just need to wait for His timing!
* Adapted from a talk given at PWOC Fort Leavenworth Winter 2019