Posts from the ‘Old Testament’ Category

David’s Mighty Men

These guys are something special. They are recognized for their strength, their perseverance, dedication, pure awesomeness, and willpower.

1- killed 800 men in one encounter…with a spear.

2-stood his ground and fought for so long that his hands froze to his sword from weariness

3-took his stand in a field and single-handedly defeated an entire army (everyone else fled)

4-killed 300 men with a spear

5-killed two of Moab’s best men, killed a lion, killed a huge Egyptian with the Egyptian’s own spear.

 

These men, even though they aren’t particularly known for their devotion to God or anything like that… Obviously they had God’s hand in their lives and battles. These men were willing to do whatever it took. They were very strong of heart and will. And that, is something worth emulating…

Abigail

While David was traveling with his men, he passed by the home of a wealthy man he had protected, and he sent the master a message asking for some food. The man–Nabal–replied haughtily and turned up his nose at the message and acted like a jerk. David became angry and was going to exact his revenge when Nabal’s wife Abigail heard what had happened and flew into action.

Abigail threw together a feast and sent her servants with the food and followed them. When she reached David she bowed down and apologized profusely and asked to take all the blame. She begged David not to make the wrong decision and have this bloodshed on his head. Her wisdom and kindness calmed David down and he decided to listen to her and not take revenge on Nabal.

Abigail made wise decisions, she took immediate action, and she made things right by being humble.

Jonathan

The first time we hear much about Jonathan, the Israelites are entangled in a war and this young man demonstrates a huge amount of confidence both in God and in himself. He and his armor bearer decide to go up to the Philistine camp, just the two of them, and Jonathan says that God may choose to fight for them, and that numbers of warriors mean nothing to God, and gave a sign that if God fulfilled it, that He stated he would fight for them and that God would use the two of them to begin the decimation of the army. It happened, and the battle was won that day.

Much later, after David had been introduced to the story, and after Jonathan and David had become best of all friends, Jonathan’s father–King Saul–told a bunch of people that he wanted to kill David. Jonathan was there and spoke up and told his father not to do the wrong thing, and reasoned with him. Jonathan was not afraid to speak the truth respectfully and chastise someone who was older, more influential, and more powerful. Would you tell the CEO of your company that you think they want to do the wrong thing and should think again? Especially when they’re talking about killing someone…I mean, what about your own life? your job?

When Saul became much more adamant about killing David, Jonathan and David had a long talk about it all, and since David had done nothing wrong, Jonathan sided with him and swore friendship again to him, and helped David to escape and nearly got himself killed when his father was angry about David’s disappearance.

Jonathan’s entire life was characterized by boldness and courage in the face of adversity. He showed his complete trust in God and believed that God would give him the sign he asked for. He also demonstrated his belief in doing the right thing and speaking out against anyone who is doing the wrong thing–no matter who that person is. Jonathan was also loyal and devoted to those he called friends, and truly loved them.

Samuel

There is lots to say about this man, and yet very little too. I’m not going to go into the specifics of his life because I feel many of the specifics are very similar to each other…

Honestly, I think all of the examples can be boiled down to a few words or phrases. Samuel listened to God. He was confident about what God told him to do–there was no arguing, no questioning, God just told him what to do and he did it. Samuel wasn’t afraid to rebuke people for disobeying God–he wasn’t afraid they wouldn’t like him anymore or that he’d ruin his chance for them to listen to him–he just flat out told the truth and let the Truth speak for itself.

How do our lives compare?

Hannah

This story has personal significance to me, because my parents named me after this woman in the Bible…

The setting portrays a man with two wives: one who has lots of kids and one who the husband loves a great deal, but has no kids. The one with lots of kids enjoys rubbing this fact in and shaming the other (Hannah). Every year they go to the temple to sacrifice and have a feast, but every year the wife with kids makes Hannah so miserable she can’t enjoy it, and just cries. Her husband tries comforting her and showing his love to her, but it still can’t take away the shame.

I totally understand this, I mean there are things that I fail at, or just never could do because I’m not capable. It wasn’t Hannah’s fault that she couldn’t have kids, but she still felt the deep ache of disappointing and failing her husband–who obviously loved her very much. Her role a woman was to have kids, and she couldn’t do it. She must have felt like a failure at being a woman, at life, at being a wife, everything. If I were her, I would.

One such year, they went to the temple and after a meal she was so hurt and bitter and upset that she wept and prayed to God, begging Him to give her a son, and said that if He did, she would give him back to God for all of his life. She just begged God to look at her misery and remember her and not forget her. She prayed from her heart, pouring out her soul. There was nothing standing between her and God, no hidden motives, no restraint for fear of others. She just came to God and poured her whole being out, and God listened to her. I think that kind of vulnerabilty and openness is what God is looking for in our relationship with Him.

And y’know what? Hannah did have a son, and once he was weaned, she brought him to the temple and let him go, let him serve before God as a priest. Can you imagine waiting for something your whole entire life and begging God for it, and then you get it… you get to hold it in your hands and see it with your eyes, and then, you let it go? You let someone else raise your kid? You let someone else spend every day with them and see them maybe once a year? Someone who will never really get to know you as mom? Someone who may hate you for “abandoning” them? Can you imagine? Yet that’s what she did. She kept her promise, and she praised God for hearing her and blessing her.  And to add to her joy and her praise, God blessed her with 5 more children–that she did get to keep and raise!

When God blesses us with things, I think He wants us to remember that they are not ultimately ours, but His, and He wants to see that in our actions. Maybe that’s why He brought Hannah to that point of despair, so that she would promise Him that she would give that child back, so that she would be able to have other children that she holds in the right regard, as gifts on loan from God. That attitude could do such wonders for us–our jobs are on loan from God, I know that well, having lost 2 in two weeks. Yet we so often take them for granted or think that we’re awesome enough in our own right to have earned the right to work there, then treat them with contempt when they’re not good enough for us. There are so many other things we take for granted too, money, spouses, food, health, our bodies, our friends, our country, sight, a good night’s rest, a working toilet (that’s for all TMIers who understand not having a toilet :P), all of these things are gifts from God, and if we ever start taking them for granted, He might take them away in order for us to remember what they are and how they should be treated. If we learn from Hannah’s example that when we are grateful for what we are given and we treat it as God’s, He will bless that and bring joy to our hearts.

So, from Hannah–vulnerability and openness in prayer, and remembering that everything is ultimately God’s and being grateful for the chance we have to borrow it for a time.

Ruth

So there was this family who moved to another country. The parents had two sons who both married women from this other country. Then the father and the sons died. The mother was grief stricken and decided to move back home. Her daughters-in-law said they would come with her, but she told them not to, and so one left. But the other one remained. This woman was Ruth. Ruth decided to give up her family, give up her country, her gods, her customs, the probability of getting married again, and chose to stick it out with her bitter old mother-in-law.

If my husband were from another country that I had never been to, and he died, I am quite sure I wouldn’t want to move to his old country without him and plan to live the rest of my life there and what not. If I lost something so precious I wouldn’t want to move to some unfamiliar place, I’d want the comfort of things I am comfortable with and people I know I can trust to comfort me. But this brave woman was more concerned about the welfare of her mother-in-law than herself. She moved with her and cared for her. When the harvests began she worked all day in the fields in order to get them enough food to eat. Other people noticed how much she gave up and how much kindness she showed to the older woman. She was selfless and hardworking.

God blessed Ruth with a safe place to glean during the harvests and a kind relative who looked out for her. And who, as her kinsman-redeemer, took her as his wife in order to maintain Ruth’s husband’s family line. Ruth had a son named Obed and the family line was carried on.

A short story,  but all throughout we see true love demonstrated. Ruth gave up everything for Naomi her mother-in-law. She worked hard–the women of the town praised her as being better than 7 sons. She was dedicated and kind. This kind of selflessness is a true witness of a follower of God.

 

Jephthah and his Daughter

There’s this guy and his daughter in Judges 11 that aren’t as well known as most of the people mentioned so far, but their story is by far one of the most incredible.

His story begins before his birth. Jephthah’s father had a wife and kids, and spent a little quality time with a prostitute who became Jephthah’s mother. During this time the Israelites also were dishonoring God, who sent people to oppress them and they repented and turned around. God began raising up a deliverer. When all the kids grew up, the full-blooded sons became selfish and said they didn’t want Jephthah to share in their inheritance and drove him off. So he and a bunch of adventure-seeking friends settled. He became a mighty warrior, well-known and well-renowned.

Jephthah’s brothers–who were now the rulers of Gilead–decided to fight off their oppressors but realized they needed their fighter half-brother, and came asking him for help, promising him not only his share in the inheritance, but being willing to make him their ruler if he won. He was skeptical, but finally agreed. This guy not only forgave his brothers, but he was also willing to trust them again and help them out–that is some serious God-work done in this guy.

Next, instead of just bashing the enemy, he asked them why they were attacking and oppressing his people. They explained that they wanted their land back, and Jephthah explained in detail how it was rightfully his. The enemy completely ignored his reply. The Spirit of the Lord filled Jephthah and he rode out to fight, vowing to God that whatever came through his door when he returned victorious he would sacrifice as a burnt offering. Not only did he trust that God would provide a victory, but he also wanted to give God thanks and trusted in God’s goodness–telling God that He could have whatever He wanted.

However, Jephthah did not expect what God wanted… his daughter. His only daughter came dancing out of the house celebrating her father’s victory. Jephthah was grief-stricken, but unwilling to break his vow to God. He didn’t try to bargain, didn’t try to resist, only hurt. His daughter however was extremely strong and willing to be given in burnt sacrifice to God. She asked her father to give her and keep his promise, and only asked for a time of grieving with her friends since she would never get to marry. After the time, she returned to her father and he kept his promise to God.

I can’t imagine doing what Jephthah did. I can’t imagine stewing about it for 2 whole months while she was away with her friends. In the freshness of the victory it might be easier… not that anything so awful could be easy, but, remembering so clearly the promise and the gift, versus, two months later when it isn’t so fresh. I can’t imagine being the daughter and being willing to come back at the end of the time. I mean, in the two months she asked for she could have easily run very very far away…. but she didn’t. She came back, and he gave God his only beloved daughter in order to thank God for His great deliverance.

Willingness to give God his most precious and prized possession. Willing to give up everything she ever lived for and wanted, in order to honor God with her father. Willing to forgive those who have done wrong. Willing to accept an unfair “punishment”. Trust in God’s goodness, faithfulness, and ability to deliver. Willingness to be strong in the midst of hardship and hard reality. Willingness to come back. Willingness to carry out God’s hardest demands.

This is the truest form of honoring God with one’s life. I can’t even begin to describe how much these two people loved and honored and served God, but they are an awesome example.