David had not yet been crowned king when he heard the news that both King Saul and his dearly beloved friend Jonathan had been killed in battle.
How the mighty have fallen, and the weapons of war perished!
2 Samuel 1:27
David had not yet been crowned king when he heard the news that both King Saul and his dearly beloved friend Jonathan had been killed in battle. This news caught David totally by surprise and literally broke his heart. David had great respect and devotion for King Saul and was hoping that one day they would move past their difference and come together and serve the Lord in the spirit of unity. And his heart longed for the rich, godly fellowship he had experienced with Jonathan as iron sharpening iron. It’s no doubt that David loved Jonathan like a brother, and hearing of his death brought a very real and deeply felt grief to David’s heart. His friend was truly gone too soon.
My hope and prayers are that you are not experiencing the deep sorrow and pain that comes from the loss of a love one, but if you are hurting due to the loss of someone you love, please know that you are not alone in your sorrow. Isaiah 53:3 tells us that Jesus, our Savior and Lord “….was a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief.” If we take a close look at 2 Samuel 1:22-26, we will see how David handled his grief, and in turn, learn a few things about how we should handle ours. The text says:
From the blood of the slain, From the fat of the mighty, The bow of Jonathan did not turn back,
And the sword of Saul did not return empty. 23 “Saul and Jonathan were beloved and pleasant in their lives, And in their death they were not divided; They were swifter than eagles,
They were stronger than lions. 24 “O daughters of Israel, weep over Saul, who clothed you in scarlet, with luxury; who put ornaments of gold on your apparel. 25 “How the mighty have fallen in the midst of the battle! Jonathan was slain in your high places. II Samuel 1: 22-26
David did four things to help put his broken heart back together again:
- He cried. In 2 Samuel 1:11 we are simply told that David mourned and wept. David’s eyes became a faucet for him to release soul-cleansing tears. Tears ran down his checks, dropped off his chin and fell to the earth. The same earth that Saul and Jonathan have now returned.
- He honored them. In verse 17, we find that David poured out his heart before the people with a song of lament that spoke about their beauty and their courage. Find ways that uniquely celebrate the memory of your love one and write it down as a memorial to them.
- He trusted in the Will of God. Three times in this passage (verses 19,25, and 27) David calls Saul and Jonathan ‘mighty’. David recognized that, though both men were uniquely flawed, they were loved and anointed by God. David turned his thoughts to the truth that God saw something wonderful in both these men and offered to them the leadership over His people.
- He took comfort that they were finally at rest. In verse 27, we can almost feel a sigh of relief that Saul and Jonathan’s days of battle are now over. David rested in the knowledge that God had called them off the battlefield, never to study war again.
Our loved ones may have gone on before us, but let us remember that we, too, are soldiers in the army of the Lord. Let us keep marching on toward victory until the day we hear our Commander in Chief say, “Come up here, servant of God, well done!”
Published on Jan 31 @ 3:17 AM EDT
As you read today's devotional, play "BELIEVE FOR IT" from the Sacred Whispers Playlist.
THE GIFT OF SABBATH
By Sabrina Botts
“Thus the heavens and the earth were finished, and all the host of them. And on the seventh day God finished his work…, and he rested on the seventh day from all his work that he had done. So God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on it God rested from all his work…”.
For me, rest, in general, can be a difficult concept to grasp. Logically, I understand what it means to rest, but transparently, I don’t give rest and relaxation the same value that I assign to work. For me, there is nothing more significant than executing good work. This mindset can be an incredible asset for accomplishing tasks, being productive, and achieving goals; however, lately, I am experiencing some ‘side effects’ of this constant ‘go’ lifestyle. It’s an exhausting lifestyle to always be continually needing to accomplish something. I find that I am still able to achieve goals, but my quality of life is beginning to suffer.
This has me wondering if this mindset is the one that God intended for my life? Am I dishonoring God by not prioritizing rest and relaxation? It brings me to explore the biblical concept of “Sabbath” and how God intended for it to be lived out in our lives as modern-day Christians.
Consider the above passage, Genesis 2:1-3. God did incredible work in six days, but on the seventh day, he chose to rest. Why is that? Some biblical scholars note that God’s resting signified that his work was complete, leaving no need to continue working. This is an obvious truth, but the importance and weight of Sabbath goes beyond that. As we look through scripture we see that God’s action to rest becomes a pattern for his children to follow.
The first time we see Sabbath ‘instituted’ for his people was from the very beginning of when they became God’s people.
Exodus shows us that once God led the children of Israel out of Egypt, fulfilling the promise to make them into a people for his own, the Sabbath was included in the commandments given at Mt. Sinai (Exodus 20:8-11). In fact, it was so critical that it applied to them, their children, their families, animals, and even visitors in the land. Additionally, note that in Leviticus 25:1-7 they were even commanded to give their land a Sabbath year. If we look closely, I think the reason will begin to emerge.
Notice, in Leviticus 25:3-4 God says to give their land a complete rest. “For six years sow your fields, and for six years prune your vineyards and gather your crops. But in the seventh year, the land is to have a sabbath of rest, a sabbath to the LORD. Do not sow your fields or prune your vineyards.” This means that for an entire year, they were not to put in any work to bring about a harvest; no tilling, no pruning and he gave an added command for them not to store up what grew the six years prior to the Sabbath year. I can’t imagine what it was like to be an agricultural society, solely dependent on crops for food and for livelihood, and every seven years you are commanded to not plant, prune or harvest any crops for an entire year. To make matters worse, you can’t even store up a food supply for the year that you can’t work!
But notice, in verse 6, they were allowed to eat whatever grew on its own during the 7th year. Grow on its own? Without any help from the landowner? Without fertilizing, pulling weeds, fighting pests, providing water? Yes, God was inviting them to watch, and see what He alone could do for them.
See, Sabbath highlights an important principle that is critical for us to remember today. Sabbath is not about the prohibition to work, or the commandment of inactivity, Sabbath is about trust and ownership.
Often the fruit of our labor can confuse us into believing that we are our own source. We have been blessed abundantly with material and physical gifts, and many of us are blessed to use those gifts to accomplish great things on the earth that reap financial rewards, enjoyable employment, accolades, and success. However, when we Sabbath, it forces us to push back, take our hands off, and remember our true source.
When we recognize God as our true source, then it is much easier to ask Him to assist us, to provide for us, and to look to Him for a solution when things do not go as expected. Sabbath is our reminder to trust God with our growth, prosperity, and financial futures rather than doing it at any cost to us and our families. It forces us to trust Him to grow our ministries, build our families, improve our health and cultivate our hearts as we work, watch, and wait. God alone is our provider. This gift of sabbath helps us to rightly relate to Him in every area of our lives. For that, we are truly made better, and God is indeed glorified.
Father, I am learning how to trust You and see You as my true and only Source. Thank you for commanding me to rest. To take my hands off of the driving wheel of my life, and let You step in and take over.
May Sabbath not simply be a day for me, but make Sabbath a lifestyle. Remind me that in all of my labor, You are the One who produces every result. By the strength of Your Strong Name, I pray. Amen.
DAILY SPIRITUAL EXERCISE
I challenge you today to sit before these scriptures and ask God to speak to you about the areas of your life that need the concept of Sabbath. Is it in your career? Your family? Your ministry? Some other thing? Are you able to trust God with it in such a way that you can push back and leave the results to Him?
LET IT REST
By Marlin D. Harris
“I laid me down and slept; I awaked; for the Lord sustained me.”
Psalm 3:5 [KJV]
“I sleep and wake up refreshed because you, Lord, protect me.”
Psalm 3:5 [CEB]
Sleep is the body’s tithe of its overall energy.
It is returning back to itself energy that has been expended in the process of the day. Everything sleeps. The day sleeps and gives way to the night, and the night sleeps as soon as the sun rises in the morning. All of nature sleeps, the bear that hibernates in the winter, or the squirrel that scrounges around in the day, but finds a nesting place for the night. God even commanded for the ground to sleep every 7 years as the farmer is instructed to not plant any crops or seeds within that 7th year allowing the ground time to replenish its natural nutrients for the next 7 years’ harvest. God even commanded our ‘debts’ to sleep every 70th year, the Year of Jubilee, when all debts are to be canceled. Wouldn’t it be nice if that was still a thing! All of this emphasizes the importance that God places on our sleep.
Sleep plays an integral role in aiding our body with good health. Productive, consistent sleep at night empowers the body to recover and lets you wake up refreshed and refueled with the energy needed for the demands of the day.
In so many ways, the best thing that a person can do to boost their overall health outlook is to find ways to get a good night’s rest.
Without question, nearly everything gets better when you learn how to ‘let it rest’. Marriages get better when you learn how to let some arguments rest, relationships get better when you learn how to let bitterness rest. You think clearer about problems or dilemmas that you are facing when you can just give your mind a rest. It’s the reason why companies include vacation time in their employees’ overall compensation because they understand that their employees’ productivity increases when they are able to get some rest. The same is the case with you. You actually get better, and sharper when you allow your body to get some rest.
According to the National Sleep Foundation, current national statistics tell us that almost half of all Americans say they feel sleepy during the day between three and seven days per week, with many saying it impacts their daily activities, mood, mental acuity, productivity, and more.. This sleepy feeling indicates that many people are suffering from inadequate sleep.
This reality is further confirmed by the Center for Disease Control, which found that 35.2% of all adults in the U.S. report only sleeping an average of fewer than six hours per night.  Getting less than seven hours of sleep can be harmful to human health, and if it happens repetitively, it can lead to sleep deprivation. Consecutive days of sleep deprivation causes a condition known as “sleep debt,” which represents a cumulative effect of insufficient sleep for any period of time. Isn’t it powerful to see sleep as a debt that we all owe to our bodies.
Now, a legitimate question would be, “why does all of this matter?” I understand that there are physiological implications associated with sleep, but are there spiritual and emotional concerns associated with sleep as well?
The answer is a surprising – YES. Let’s begin with the emotional impact of limited sleep. When you deprive yourself of healthy sleep habits, it causes, and even exacerbates, disturbances in your emotional equilibrium. Emotions such as anger, depression, and anxiety can become byproducts of sleep debt and can lead to fatigue, irritability, and a lack of energy.  Even just one sleepless night can contribute to changes in the way your brain functions and processes data, as well as the normal way it releases hormones that control emotional stability. This is critical because your ability to manage your emotional expressions has a direct impact on your relationships, family, and home life, as well as your own personal sense of wellbeing. Many people are praying about their health, relationships, marriages, or their personal sense of drive and motivation, but very few realize that sleep may be at the root of many of these concerns.
The emotional toll that a lack of healthy sleep has on your body is quite significant, but it pales in comparison to the spiritual implications that it carries.
When we fail to sleep it says something about us spiritually as well. In scripture, sleep is presented as a gift from God. Psalm 127:2 says that God “gives His beloved sleep”.
As a gift from God, when we deprive ourselves of sleep, it is to express defiance at the very gift that God gives.
Not only is sleep a gift from God, but it is also an expression of our confidence and trust in the protective and loving care of God. Most people who are sleep-deprived are also suffering from stress and mental anxiety. How we handle stress, anxiety, and worry is covered for us in scripture. We are instructed by Jesus in Matthew 6:25-34 to “not worry”, and we are encouraged in Philippians 4:6 to be “anxious about nothing”. Psalm 3:5 reminds us that if we know that God is in charge of the affairs of our life, then we should sleep and awake each morning ‘refreshed’. In some instances, sleep is really much more about my faith than it is about my time or my schedule. When I sleep, I have the calm assurance that God is working on my behalf, and when I awake, my physical and my spiritual strength is renewed.
We come to the Lord of the Sabbath asking You to grant us rest. Give us rest in the night, not only for our bodies, but also for our minds, our emotions, our daily worries, and our anxious thoughts. May the nighttime bring us restful sleep, while we trust in Your grace and wisdom to work all things together for our good, and for Your Glory. We pray for restful sleep, in Jesus' Name. Good night, and Amen.
PRACTICAL ACTION TODAY
Set a definite time for you to sleep. Make a determined decision to be in bed by that time.
Before you lay down to sleep, seek the Lord for His peace throughout the night, and commit your night’s rest unto Him as your “evening sacrifice of worship”.
Let Worship be the last thing that you do just before you drift off to sleep.
 National Sleep Foundation. (2020, March 7). The National Sleep Foundation’s 2020 Sleep in America® Poll Shows Alarming Level of Sleepiness and Low Levels of Action. Retrieved October 22, 2020, from https://www.sleepfoundation.org/professionals/sleep-america-polls/2020-sleepiness-and-low-action
 National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, Division of Population Health. (2017, May 2). CDC - Data and Statistics - Sleep and Sleep Disorders. Retrieved October 22, 2020, from https://www.cdc.gov/sleep/data_statistics.html
Published on Jan 12 @ 12:49 AM EDT