Today’s readings.. (1 Samuel 13), (Isaiah 56), (Isaiah 57), (Revelation 21), (Revelation 22)

Samuel said to Saul, “You have done foolishly … your kingdom shall not continue.  The LORD has sought out a man after his own heart.” [1 Samuel 13 v.13,14].  Saul was in trouble, he was in a hopeless military position, the prophet Samuel had come a day later (maybe only hours later) than had been arranged, so Saul foolishly offered sacrifices himself.  Although he had been victorious over the Ammonites – with God’s help – but he feared the Philistines, but did not seek God’s help, his perception of what God requires was far too limited.
But what intrigues us is the reference to God having a heart.  Can we grasp the concept of this?  In the last verse of the previous chapter we read Samuel’s farewell message to the people, “Only fear the LORD and serve him faithfully with all your heart.  For consider what great things he has done for you.  But if you still do wickedly, you shall be swept away, both you and your king.”  It seems to us that “heart” in a sense means, a committed attitude of mind, our way of thinking. In the New Testament we would say “faith”- the conviction which leads to our course of action. It is not easy to apply this definition to God as he is so totally high above us.
The man that God found, that was after his own heart, was to write of God, “How precious to me are your thoughts, O God! How vast is the sum of them! … Search me, O God, and know my heart!  Try me and know my thoughts! And see if there be any grievous way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting” [Psa. 139 v.17,23,24].
David’s attitude was the attitude God was seeking. Probably at this point in time he was a lad looking after his father’s sheep in the wilderness and we will read in 4 day’s time that the attitude and confidence before God that he had developed and perfected in killing the wild animals that tried to take the sheep gave him the confidence to go against Goliath, “for he has defied the armies of the living God.”  [Ch.17 v.36]  David had a vision of the “power” God can give that was far greater than Saul’s – and a greater vision than the army itself had, but despite this, they were still God’s armies.  And are you God’s son or daughter?  Or want to be be?
Today’s chapter in Isaiah reveals the principle upon which God works in looking into the hearts of human beings. “Thus says the one who is high and lifted up who inhabits eternity, whose name is Holy” – and then come the wonderful words – “I dwell in the high and holy place, and also with him who is of a contrite and lowly spirit to revive the spirit of the lowly …” [Ch.57 v.15-16].
David experienced this most particularly after his sin with Bathsheba; he was grief stricken that he might lose his contact with God.  We read “Cast me not away from your presence … restore to me the joy of your salvation.” [Psa.51 v.11,12].  The last 2 chapters in the Bible, our final reading for today, are about the ultimate joy when “death shall be no more … for former things have passed away ”  [Rev.21 v.4]  Only those whose hearts are “after his own heart” will be alive, “those who are written in the Lamb’s book of life.” [v.27].

 

* Click verse text to see cross references.
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