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 "YOUR SPIRIT" from the Sacred Whispers Playlist.
SITTING BY THE FURNACE
By Marlin D. Harris
“He will sit as a refiner, and purifier of silver…”
Sometimes I like to just sit with a good book. I mean, to really become present with the writer and to become one with the story.
Great literature is like that, you can’t truly appreciate it if your mind is racing and your thoughts are concentrated in other places. No, you actually have to ‘sit’ with great literature, and allow the story that it tells to wash over you. I recently had the rare privilege to do just that when I read Elie Wiesel’s seminal commentary on the Jewish Holocaust, a thinly veiled memoir novel entitled, Night.
Elie Wiesel is a Romanian Jew, who spent an unforgettable part of his childhood in the Nazi concentration camps of Auschwitz and Buchenwald, Germany in the early 1940s. There in Auschwitz, he witnessed the gruesome death of his parents and his younger sister, as well as countless other men, women, and children. At the end of the fourth section of Wiesel’s book, he describes in vivid detail, the scene of a young bagpipe player being hung from the gallows. The bagpipe player was only a child. Even though thousands were killed in the gas chambers or in the human ovens of Buchenwald, the execution of this innocent child seemed to infinitely propel the cruelty of the concentration camps to levels unimaginable. Here Wiesel recounts a moment when the question is uttered by someone in the crowd looking on in disbelief as this young boy is strangled by the rope and fighting for his life: “Where is God”? “Tell me, where is He”?!. Wiesel’s character in the memoir offers this sobering thought as his response: “And I heard a voice within me answer him: “Where is God? God is here! — Here He is, hanging with him on the gallows…” In all of the evil around him, Wiesel could still see God with this young man in his suffering.
A scene like that is enough to rock your faith to its core. It forces you to look at the cruelty of evil and to find a way to quiet the raging voice in your soul that is crying out, like the man in the crowd that day, “Where is God in all of this”.
As I sat with that book, I started drifting and staring into the bay of windows facing my chair. I couldn’t help but ask, “Lord, where were you?”. Part of me was afraid to admit that I had the same question as the man in the crowd, and part of me was afraid to deny it as well. But God knew my question before I ever asked it, and He reassured me that He was Big enough to face my questions, if I was humble enough to hear His answers. The answer God gave me that day was strange. He took me to His Word (where He has placed all of His answers). My mind raced to Malachi 3:3 – “He will sit as a refiner, and purifier of silver”. At first glance I sat there, more confused than I was when I first started the conversation. But then the Spirit spoke to my heart, in a way that only He could, and said, “I was there with him that day, sitting beside the refiner’s fire.”
I kept thinking about the job of a Refiner. It is his duty to sit in the most extreme heat beside the oven that melts the precious silver and keep his watchful eye on the flame until the fire has accomplished its purpose. This is not needed for worthless ore, but the more priceless the metal, the more care must be given to the fire. The refiner must subject the metal to extreme temperatures in order to burn away the dross, and bring out the luster and glory of the silver. If the heat is too low, then the silver will be tainted, and if the heat is too high then the silver will be ruined, it must be just the right temperature, in order to yield the purest metal possible. The silver that adorns the palace of the king, is only crafted into a royal vessel after it has been subjected to this kind of heat.
But rest assured, a good refiner never leaves the furnace. The metal never burns alone. He ‘sits’ by the fire, watching the heat purify the silver of its dross.
He checks over and over to see if the process has achieved its goal. Then, only when the refiner is able to look at the silver and see his face reflected in the liquid metal, will he know that the process is complete, and then he extinguishes the flame. That day, like every other day, God was like the refiner of silver. He sat by the furnace, managing the purifying flames.
Now I can’t explain why I was overcome with such emotion, but I could hardly control my tears as I read those words. I realized that is where God was when ships left the West African docks loaded with enslaved people headed for the Americas; He was with them in the boats, sitting by the furnace managing the flames. That’s where He was when countless numbers of Rwandan’s were massacred in the Rwandan genocide; He was with them, sitting by the furnace, managing the flames. That’s where He was when you lost the loved one you held so dear; He was sitting there by their bedside managing the flames. That’s where He was when the car slid on the ice, and the resultant accident nearly took a precious life; He was sitting in the car, holding the hand of its fearful driver, managing the flames. He has never left the refiner's fire. He has never allowed the fire to burn without a purpose in mind. He has never let death, or pain or tragedy fall, without a pure vessel of silver being produced on the other end.
We must know that there is no sickness, no pain, no disease, and no heartache where God is not sitting near and keeping watch. He sits so that the fire will never be more than is necessary.
Like the refiner of silver looks for his reflection in the precious metal, so our Lord is looking at our lives watching for the reflection of His character and faith in our hearts. He knows that the only way to get the purest character out of our lives is to allow the furnace to be heated. It is in the fire that our pride is humbled, and our hearts are softened to the truth of His Word. It is in the fire that we see our brother as ourselves, and we learn to let petty grievances go. It is in the fire that our priorities are straightened and our hearts become focused on the things that truly matter. We learn the value of real love in the fire, and the dross of self-centeredness and indifference is burned away. This fire is called a “refiner’s fire” for a reason. It is meant to refine us and make us vessels worthy of the Master’s use. This fire makes it so that God “who has begun a good work in us will continue to perform it until the day that Christ Jesus returns” (Philippians 1:6).
My heart aches for those who are currently in the fire, but it aches even more for those who have never been touched by its flames. They are still living in the naivety of their sinfulness, and in the ignorance of their own moral immaturity. They are blind to the truth, and have been left to their own devices. Oh, how I wish they could have a moment in the furnace, and allow it to soften their hardened heart and turn their eyes toward the Refiner.
So, there I sat; in my chair looking out of the windows and pondering over the words I had just read. I saw this young boy hanging from the gallows, and as Jeremiah the prophet declares that God took up a weeping and wailing (Jeremiah 9:10), I saw the tears of God weeping as he died. And in an instant – immediately – my mind went to Calvary! There was a different execution that day. A different One was being hung from the wooden gallows. He was the spotless, sinless, beautiful Son of God. Jesus hung on that cross and died for the sins of millions who would later reject Him, abuse Him, curs Him and deny Him. But He died anyway. That was the depth of His love, and the heat of His furnace. Many have asked throughout the ages, “Where was God that day?”
Well, God was the same place He was when that young lad perished in the gallows. God was sitting beside the refiner’s fire, managing the flames of His only Son. Had He stopped the execution of His Son, you and I would be hopelessly lost in our sins, and separated from Him eternally. He had to allow that furnace to be heated seven times hotter, as it were, in order for me and you to be redeemed. In the wisdom of God’s redemptive plan, the fire was not allowed to be too severe. On the third day, the flames were cooled, the heat subsided and the Son of God arose from the dead. This good news is called “the Gospel”! This is the anchor that keeps the ship of our life in the harbor. If God can bring this ‘good news’ out of great tragedy, then how much good can He bring out of the furnace of our lives.
Beloved, trust Him today.
He is a skilled refiner. He is making precious silver out of you. He is sitting with you in the fire, waiting until He can see His face shining back at Him in your heart.
Loving Father, remind us daily that You are sitting with us by the furnace of our life, managing the fire.
May You see Your character reflected in our hearts. We humbly submit to the refining process until Your Will is made clear. In Jesus Name, Amen.
DAILY SPIRITUAL EXERCISE
Find a good, Christ-honoring book, curl up in your favorite chair and look for God in its story. The best Book to do this with is the Word of God.
A DEVOTION FOR GOOD HEALTH
by Grace Fox
Content taken from Posted in Devotions for Good Health,
“They [our bodies] were made for the Lord, and the Lord cares about our bodies.”
1 Corinthians 6:13 (NLT)
Your body and well-being remains in God's hands.
Wrong thinking about my physical health landed me in dire straits. For too long, I allowed my schedule to override my body’s need for exercise. I don’t have time to take a walk now, I reasoned as I worked at my computer desk. I’ll walk later. But later never came. At the same time, I justified eating chocolate bars—big ones.
“My brain’s tired from thinking so hard, so I’ll give it a little boost”, I thought. One bite led to another and then another. Before long, I’d eaten the entire bar. Oh well, that’s no big deal. I’ll walk off the calories later. But later never came.
Wrong thinking said I could eat whatever I wanted whenever I wished and exercise was only for athletes. The ever-increasing number on my bathroom scale, chronic pain, and the loss of mobility for three months convinced me to make a change. I learned the hard way. But I learned a new way of thinking that transformed my life and restored my health.
Correct thinking about our physical health comes from understanding that we don’t own our bodies. God does. He bought them with Jesus’s bloodshed on the cross (1 Corinthians 6:19–20). Now we are Jesus’s temple, His dwelling place, and we’re responsible to be wise stewards of its care.
Since Jesus willingly paid for our bodies with His life, they must be worth a lot. Let’s value them with proper nutrition and exercise. Don’t learn the hard way as I did.
Heavenly Father, may I treat my body like the precious gift that it is. My health is in Your hands. May I cooperate with You in bringing my body and soul to a place of health and strength.
In Jesus Name, Amen.
PRACTICAL ACTION TODAY
Faith Step: Identify one wrong thought about your physical health and ponder its influence on your behavior. Now identify one step you can take to improve your health beginning today.
Published on Jan 19 @ 12:14 AM EDT