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A Tale of Three Kings – Chapter 26

The Mars Hill staff is in a series of devotionals drawn from the book, A Tale of Three Kings by Gene Edwards. We share highlights from the book each week, but we invite you to get a copy and read along with us. The drama is a multi-act play telling the stories of three kings. It is a portrait of submission and authority within the Kingdom of God; offering hope and healing to the spiritually wounded.

Chapter Twenty-Six

We are nearing the end of our story. In the last few weeks, King David has consulted prophet, priest, and warrior. And the prophet, priest, and warriors have consulted each other. The great debate over what should be done in response to Absalom’s rebellious take-over of the throne is on everyone’s mind.

The conversation between Abishai and Joab, two of David’s nephews who serve in his army, raises some very good questions. Joab says men will “sacrifice anything to satisfy ambition.” This is in reference to Absalom rising up against his father the king.

In response, Abishai adds, “He (Absalom) has raised his hand against the very anointed of God — against David! If Absalom, who has no authority, will divide the very kingdom of God…what in the name of sanity might that man do if he be king?”

These words led us to consider that Absalom, like many today, had not only lost respect for the authority of the king but had also lost sight of who the real King was! As there were things that the king did or didn’t do to his satisfaction, he decided that he knew best and he should become the king.

Things to consider:

  • Once we have shifted the emphasis from the power of “the king” to the power of the “individual,” we have essentially made ourselves kings. What kind of problems do you think might arise if we are all little kings?
  • Absalom lost sight of the fact that it was God who appointed Saul and then David to be king. If God is the appointer of kings, wouldn’t that make Him the ultimate authority?
  • Ambition, as defined by  businessdirectory.com, is “The desire to achieve something, or to succeed, accompanied with motivation, determination and an internal drive.” The question raised by today’s devotional….is ambition really ever satisfied? One man said that if you’re ambitious then it’s in your nature to find a flaw in your current situation. The next step would be to try and improve your situation, but if you’re really ambitious then you will just find another flaw that needs to be fixed. If Absalom had taken the throne from David, do you think he would have finally experienced peace and satisfaction?
  • “For where jealousy and selfish ambition exist, there will be disorder and every vile practice.” – James 13:6 ESV
  • “Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves.” – Philippians 2:3 ESV


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A Tale of Three Kings – Chapter 17

The Mars Hill staff is in a series of devotionals drawn from the book, A Tale of Three Kings by Gene Edwards. We share highlights from the book each week, but we invite you to get a copy and read along with us. The drama is a multi-act play telling the stories of three kings. It is a portrait of submission and authority within the Kingdom of God; offering hope and healing to the spiritually wounded.

Chapter Seventeen

Today we get to join with a young soldier and sit at the feet of a wizened old soul, one who had lived alongside David in the days before he was king and also the days of his rule. We can relate to the questions the young soldier asks about King David and his mighty men of valor. We may even come up with a few questions of our own, but the answers will give us all pause for thought.

Young soldier:  Are you, sir, one of David’s mighty men of long ago – one of those men of whom we have heard so much?

Old soldier:   If you are asking if I am a former thief and cave dweller and one who followed a sobbing, hysterical fugitive, then yes, I was one of the ‘mighty men of David.’

Young soldier:  But, sir, you make the great king sound like a weakling. Was he not the greatest of all rulers?

Old soldier:  He was no weakling. Nor was he a great leader.

Young soldier:  Then what, good sir? What was the greatness of David?

Old soldier:  The clearest memory I have of my king, when we lived in the caves, is that his was a life of submission. Yes, David showed me submission, not authority. He taught me no the quick cure of rules and laws, but the art of patience.

Men who speak endlessly on authority only prove they have none. And kings who make speeches about submission only betray twin fears in their hearts: They are not certain they are really true leaders, sent of God. And they live in mortal fear of a rebellion.

My king spoke not of submitting to him. He feared no rebellion…because he did not mind if he was dethroned!

No, authority from God is not afraid of challengers, makes no defense, and cares not one whit if it must be dethroned.

As far as David’s having authority: Men who don’t have it talk about it all the time. David had authority, but I don’t think that fact ever occurred to him.

Scripture to consider:

… Therefore, so that I would not become arrogant, a thorn in the flesh was given to me, a messenger of Satan to trouble me—so that I would not become arrogant. I asked the Lord three times about this, that it would depart from me. But he said to me, “My grace is enough for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” So then, I will boast most gladly about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may reside in me. 10 Therefore I am content with weaknesses, with insults, with troubles, with persecutions and difficulties for the sake of Christ, for whenever I am weak, then I am strong. – 2 Corinthians 12:7-10 NET

Final Thoughts:

If we need power and authority, we are probably not ready or suited for it!

To borrow from John Piper, God’s design is to make us a showcase for His power…not by getting rid of all our weaknesses; but by giving us strength to endure and even rejoice in tribulation.

Although David did not know it, his heart and attitude was a reflection of the One, king of kings, who would follow about a millennia later; the One that Paul spoke of in 2 Corinthians 12:9 >> So then, I will boast most gladly about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may reside in me.

 


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A Tale of Three Kings – Chapter 16

The Mars Hill staff is in a series of devotionals drawn from the book, A Tale of Three Kings by Gene Edwards. We share highlights from the book each week, but we invite you to get a copy and read along with us. The drama is a multi-act play telling the stories of three kings. It is a portrait of submission and authority within the Kingdom of God; offering hope and healing to the spiritually wounded.

Chapter Sixteen

So, you find yourself questioning the decisions and behaviors coming down from the one who is in charge; how can you tell if the one you have to answer to is a King Saul or a David? If you could figure that out, would it change the way you respond to them? And….what if you got it wrong?

Most of us know at least one man in the lineage of David who was damned and crucified by other men. By men who were absolutely positive that the one they were crucifying was not a David! It happens all too often that men go after the Sauls but mistakenly end up crucifying the Davids among us.

“Are you so certain your king is a Saul and not a David that you are willing to take the position of God and go to war against your Saul?”

What, then, should you do? Perhaps you should follow David’s lead and wait for God to move.

By waiting on God, a lot may be revealed over time by the behavior of your leader.  More importantly, the passing of time and the way you react to that leader – be he David or Saul – reveals a great deal about you!

A few scriptures to consider:

…then listen from your heavenly dwelling place, forgive their sin, and act favorably toward each one based on your evaluation of his motives. (Indeed you are the only one who can correctly evaluate the motives of all people.) – 1 Kings 8:39 NET

For who among men knows the things of a man except the man’s spirit within him? So too, no one knows the things of God except the Spirit of God. – 1 Corinthians 2:11 NET

make it your ambition to lead a quiet life and attend to your own business and work with your hands, just as we commanded you,  so that you will behave properly toward outsiders and not be in any need. – I Thessalonians 4:11-12 NET

Final Thoughts:

Instead of spending time trying to discern the Sauls from the Davids, (which were both anointed by God), we would do better to turn our attentions to the development of our own hearts and minds.

We don’t always see everything as clearly or fully as we think we do.

Often God keeps knowledge veiled so that His purposes will be accomplished.


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A Tale of Three Kings – Chapter 15

The Mars Hill staff is in a series of devotionals drawn from the book, A Tale of Three Kings by Gene Edwards. We share highlights from the book each week, but we invite you to get a copy and read along with us. The drama is a multi-act play telling the stories of three kings. It is a portrait of submission and authority within the Kingdom of God; offering hope and healing to the spiritually wounded.

 Chapter Fifteen

“We desperately need God, but we don’t necessarily need Him for what we think we need Him for. We need Him to show us what we need Him for!”

What kind of man was Saul? Who was this one who made himself David’s enemy?

He was a farm boy, a country kid who made good. He was tall, good-looking, and well-liked. He came from a good family. Abraham, Jacob, and Moses were his ancestors. He was anointed of God.

It was Saul who took the Israelites and welded them into a united kingdom. He created an army out of thin air. He won battles in the power of God, defeating the enemy again and again. He was a prophet. The Spirit of God came on him in power and authority. He did and said unprecedented things. A leader, chosen by God with power from God.

Saul was also eaten with jealousy, filled with self-importance, and willing to live in spiritual darkness. He “needed” power to maintain his position and authority as king.

Is there a moral in these contradictions? What made Saul’s failures different from David’s? To quote Gene Edwards, “There is a vast difference between the outward clothing of the Spirit’s power and the inward filling of the Spirit’s life.”

All people begin life with the same problem…a heart that is self-centered.  As Jeremiah 17:9 says, “The heart is more deceitful than all else and is desperately sick; who can understand it?” In those who are merely clothed with the Spirit’s power, the hidden man of the heart may remain unchanged. But for those filled with the Spirit, the deceitful heart is dealt with.

When God gave Saul power, it revealed Saul’s heart to elevate himself. When God gave David power, it revealed a heart that desired to know more of God in His glory and excellence.

God gives people power…even unworthy people – not because He wants us to be powerful, but because there is a greater agenda He wants to accomplish. For some like Saul, it will be their undoing. For others like David, it will be a part of the ongoing process of revealing and transforming the heart.

Application:

Are you asking God for the power to do what you think you need to do or are you asking Him first to reveal to you what you actually need?

2 Grace and peace be multiplied to you in the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord; seeing that His divine power has granted to us everything pertaining to life and godliness, through the true knowledge of Him who called us by His own glory and excellence. – 2 Peter 1:2-3


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A Tale of Three Kings – Chapter 14

The Mars Hill staff is in a series of devotionals drawn from the book, A Tale of Three Kings by Gene Edwards. We share highlights from the book each week, but we invite you to get a copy and read along with us. The drama is a multi-act play telling the stories of three kings. It is a portrait of submission and authority within the Kingdom of God; offering hope and healing to the spiritually wounded.

Chapter Fourteen

He came to the sheepfolds by the road, where there was a cave. Saul went into it to relieve himself. Now David and his men were sitting in the recesses of the cave. David’s men said to him, “This is the day about which the Lord said to you, ‘I will give your enemy into your hand, and you can do to him whatever seems appropriate to you.’” So David got up and quietly cut off an edge of Saul’s robe.Afterward David’s conscience bothered him because he had cut off an edge of Saul’s robe. He said to his men, “May the Lord keep me far away from doing such a thing to my lord, who is the Lord’s chosen one, by extending my hand against him. After all, he is the Lord’s chosen one.” David restrained his men with these words and did not allow them to rise up against Saul. Then Saul left the cave and started down the road. – I Samuel 24:3-7 NET

 

Today in our book, A Tale of Three Kings, we discussed David’s great restraint from doing harm to King Saul when given the opportunity. King Saul had been aggressively hunting David to kill him. In Saul’s madness, his jealousy over David had driven him to all kinds of irrational thoughts and actions.

David had presented no threat or harm to King Saul and in fact had willingly served the King on the battlefield and in the King’s court. But, Saul was being tormented by an evil spirit and knew that the Spirit of God was with David. Saul also knew that God had chosen David to be his successor to the throne, but without the Spirit of God upon him, Saul was subject to insecurity, fear, and paranoia over when the throne would be taken from him.

Humanly speaking, David was blameless towards Saul. He had been a model citizen and employee of the King. He was in no hurry to take over the throne. He was best friends with Saul’s son and married to one of Saul’s daughters. Everyone liked him.

King Saul had killed people who gave David assistance, and David’s present companions were at risk from Saul’s wrath as well. In fact, they begged David to take the shot…declaring that the Lord was giving him this opportunity. If David had killed Saul in the cave, it would likely have been seen as self-defense….fully justified.

So why didn’t David follow his companions’ advice? When all the evidence was in his favor and he knew he was destined to be the next king anyway, why did he not seize the opportunity to make things “right?” One answer may be found in I Samuel 24:15,

15 May the Lord be our judge and arbiter. May he see and arbitrate my case and deliver me from your hands!”

David was fully committed to the sovereignty and leading of the Lord. The Lord had anointed and made Saul King. He had not yet given word or sign that Saul’s reign was done. David had a profound reverence for God and HIS plan. Therefore, he refused to take matters into his own hands; he allowed the will of God to unfold in God’s time.

In closing, read through I Peter 2:13-24. In this passage, we are told how we should relate to those in authority and we are reminded of the ultimate example when the Lord Jesus Christ Himself submitted to the unfolding of God’s will.

Consider This: How would it look for us to have this same mindset in our everyday day circumstances?

 


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A Tale of Three Kings – Chapter 13

The Mars Hill staff is in a series of devotionals drawn from the book, A Tale of Three Kings by Gene Edwards. We share highlights from the book each week, but we invite you to get a copy and read along with us. The drama is a multi-act play telling the stories of three kings. It is a portrait of submission and authority within the Kingdom of God; offering hope and healing to the spiritually wounded.

Chapter Thirteen

So David left there and escaped to the cave of Adullam. When his brothers and the rest of his father’s family learned about it, they went down there to him. All those who were in trouble or owed someone money or were discontented gathered around him, and he became their leader. He had about four hundred men with him.                   – I Samuel 22:1-2

A very strange thing happened to David as he was running from King Saul. He became a leader.

David had not taken any men with him when he fled Saul’s court. Nor was he looking to build an army or a following. In fact, it is probably easier to hide without an entourage. But, followers found him.

The verses from I Samuel tell us they were fellow fugitives… likely thieves, liars, complainers, fault-finders, and rebellious men with rebellious hearts and attitudes. They probably had no love for kings or authority, yet they subjected themselves to David’s leadership.

This prompted two questions for discussion. 1) Why did these men desire to follow anyone? 2) Why did these men decide to follow David?

In answer to question No. 1, scripture stated that these men were discontented. Discontentment often comes from seeing the world is off track and our desire for things to be made right. We want the world as it was meant to be, as it was in the beginning… blessed; not cursed and broken as it became when sin entered the world. In order to get things back on track, you need a leader…with a vision….and a plan. Continue reading


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A Tale of Three Kings – Chapter 10

The Mars Hill staff is in a series of devotionals drawn from the book, A Tale of Three Kings by Gene Edwards. We share highlights from the book each week, but we invite you to get a copy and read along with us. The drama is a multi-act play telling the stories of three kings. It is a portrait of submission and authority within the Kingdom of God; offering hope and healing to the spiritually wounded.

Chapter Ten

“How does a person know when it is okay to separate oneself from the Lord’s anointed – especially if the Lord’s anointed is after the order of King Saul?

David never made that decision. The Lord’s anointed made it for him. The king’s own decree settled the matter!

‘Hunt him down; kill him like a dog!’

Only then did David leave. No, he fled. Even then, he never spoke a word or lifted a hand against Saul. And please note this: David did not split the kingdom when he made his departure. He did not take part of the population with him. He left alone.”

And so begins the next chapter of our book. Saul’s jealousy and madness have finally progressed to the point that he is demanding David’s death. David, knowing that he has been anointed by God to be the next king at some future time which has yet to be revealed, chooses wisely to flee and hide. David could have fought back. He had garnered enough fame and support that he likely could have persuaded many in King Saul’s court and army to turn their allegiance to him instead. But David knew that it is God who makes kings and appoints times, and God had not yet given the go-ahead for him to be king. The only thing left to do then was to get out of Saul’s way.

This sets the stage for our discussion using the following questions:  Sometimes God leads us into a situation which turns sour; how do we know when it is okay to leave that situation? And, what should our exit strategy be?

The kinds of situations we talked about included those such as jobs, churches, volunteer commitments, and the like. Things usually look pretty good when you commit to a church, but after some time the leadership may start to take you in a direction you don’t want to go. Perhaps the worship style changes or the leaders demand that you take a more active role in engaging the community.

We should not leave a situation because we have become uncomfortable or unhappy. Like David, we leave when we are no longer capable of fulfilling God’s purpose for our lives in that situation. And, like David, it may take a while to come to that realization …and we may go through a season of having spears chucked at us before the full intentions of the king are made known.

This is not to say that we should stick it out in situations of actual abuse! But there are times when our situation may actually be one of being tested like Job rather than hunted by King Saul. The point is to seek God’s leading rather than cater to our own discomfort. God may be using discomfort to draw out or build up something in us.

Lastly, when you see that it is time to depart, don’t try to take an entourage with you! Don’t gossip about it. Don’t work others up into a frenzy. Just be obedient to your call and go. We are each responsible to follow God’s leading and we should not want to lead others away from what God may be doing in their lives.

Below are two excerpts from Psalm 18, written by David, in response to his tough situation. Think about the heart of David and the mindset that he had in trusting God so completely that his relationship with Saul did not undo him.

I will love You, O LORD, my strength.
The LORD is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer;
My God, my strength, in whom I will trust;
My shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold.
I will call upon the LORD, who is worthy to be praised;
So shall I be saved from my enemies.  – Psalm 18:1-3

For You will light my lamp;
The Lord my God will enlighten my darkness.
For by You I can run against a troop,
By my God I can leap over a wall.
As for God, His way is perfect;
The word of the Lord is proven;
He is a shield to all who trust in Him.  – Psalm 18:28-30


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A Tale of Three Kings – Chapter 8

The Mars Hill staff is in a series of devotionals drawn from the book, A Tale of Three Kings by Gene Edwards. We share highlights from the book each week, but we invite you to get a copy and read along with us. The drama is a multi-act play telling the stories of three kings. It is a portrait of submission and authority within the Kingdom of God; offering hope and healing to the spiritually wounded.

Chapter Eight

We are now in our eighth week of A Tale of Three Kings. The Hebrew people who worship Yahweh had asked to be ruled by a king. Yahweh granted their request and through the prophet, Samuel, Saul was anointed – chosen to be the first king of Israel. Saul was a successful king in that he was a powerful and accomplished military man; in a short time, he managed to free the people from most of their enemies, giving them a great sense of security.

But, Saul relied on his own strength and human abilities so that he became insecure and envious when someone else showed equal or greater ability. That someone was young David. David had come to fight for the king and to serve the king. David’s victories on the battlefield were exceeding Saul’s and his favor off the battlefield was gaining him quite a following, too. This was making Saul quite mad with jealousy towards David.

Our chapter begins with the following, “MY KING IS MAD. At least, I so perceive him. What can I do?”  But if we are going to apply some basic principles of this story to our own lives, this is not the only question we found ourselves faced with. The people under Saul’s rule knew that he had been chosen by God to be king. A few were aware that David had also been anointed. But David was still under Saul’s authority as God had not said when Saul’s rule was to end and David’s to begin.

Today we do not have such specific directives from God through prophets like Samuel, but we do have people in authority over us on many levels. How do we know who is the Lord’s anointed? Are they after the order of King Saul or King David? If it turns out they are quite mad, how should we respond? Consider the statements and scriptures below.

God alone knows the heart of each and every one of us. Heart is very important to God!

  • All a person’s ways seem right in his own opinion, but the LORD evaluates the motives. – Proverbs 16:2 NET
  • …then listen from your heavenly dwelling place, forgive their sin, and act favorably toward each one based on your evaluation of his motives. (Indeed you are the only one who can correctly evaluate the motives of all people.) – I Kings 8:39 NET
  • After removing him, God raised up David their king. He testified about him: ‘I have found David the son of Jesse to be a man after my heart, who will accomplish everything I want him to do.’ – Acts 13:22 NET

God may reveal to us His anointed if we ask Him; it is His wisdom on which we rely, not our own.

  • Then they prayed, “Lord, you know the hearts of all. Show us which one of these two you have chosen…” – Acts 1:24
  • The unbeliever does not receive the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him. And he cannot understand them because they are spiritually discerned. – 1 Corinthians 2:14 NET

We are not called to respect leaders because they are infallible, but because God has placed them over us. We follow God; therefore we follow those whom God puts in authority.

  • Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except by God’s appointment, and the authorities that exist have been instituted by God. – Romans 13:1 NET

There is a purpose for the king’s role in your life – even if he is subject to madness. It may be a lesson to prepare you to be the next king. Like David, you may try to appease the king or you may need to avoid the king, but you can definitely trust that the King of Kings, the Lord, will deliver you from the circumstance at His appointed time.

 In the same way, you who are younger, be subject to the elders. And all of you, clothe yourselves with humility toward one another because God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humbleAnd God will exalt you in due time, if you humble yourselves under his mighty hand by casting all your cares on him because he cares for you. Be sober and alert. Your enemy the devil, like a roaring lion, is on the prowl looking for someone to devour. Resist him, strong in your faith, because you know that your brothers and sisters throughout the world are enduring the same kinds of suffering. 10 And, after you have suffered for a little while, the God of all grace who called you to his eternal glory in Christ will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you. – 1 Peter 5:5-10 NET


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A Tale of Three Kings – Chapter 2

The Mars Hill staff is going through a series of devotionals drawn from the book, A Tale of Three Kings by Gene Edwards. We share highlights from the book each week, but we invite you to get a copy and read along with us. The drama is a multi-act play telling the stories of three kings. It is a portrait of submission and authority within the Kingdom of God; offering hope and healing to the spiritually wounded.

Chapter Two

Even though David is growing up, our story today finds the young man still tending to the family’s flock of sheep. But something was about to change. The prophet, Samuel paid a visit to David’s household looking for one whom God was calling out for a destiny of leadership, and it was not until Samuel had seen the very last of the brothers in this family that God’s choice was revealed. This young sheepherder was anointed; set apart as a future king.

There were two things of note in today’s reading. The first was that God chose David because He found that he “loved his Lord with a purer heart than anyone else on all the sacred soil of Israel.” All of that time spent alone, tending the sheep, had given David opportunity to dwell on spiritual things. “And when he had removed him, he raised up David to be their king, of whom he testified and said, ‘I have found in David the son of Jesse a man after my heart, who will do all my will.’” – Acts 13:22

The second observation was that the Lord’s anointing was not followed immediately by David’s appointment as king. On the contrary, he went through a decade of agony and suffering; as the book says, on that day, David was enrolled into the school of brokenness.

God was calling David out to rule a nation, but there were still lessons to be learned to be the kind of man and leader God needed him to be. A.W. Tozer said, “It is doubtful whether God can bless a man greatly until He has hurt him deeply.”

In many ways, David’s life is a metaphor for the Christian life. It is often misperceived that when a person follows Christ, everything in their life will suddenly be made right and carefree. Just the opposite is likely to occur. When we become a child of God, He brings people and circumstances into our lives that will help to shape us to be more like Christ. Our lives here on earth are about preparing us for the day when we will reign with Christ.

Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ  and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith—  that I may know him and the power of his resurrection, and may share his sufferings, becoming like him in his death,  that by any means possible I may attain the resurrection from the dead.    – Philippians 3:8-11 ESV