A few years ago, a billboard greeted travelers on their way into the Colorado Rocky Mountains with the adage: “Go To Your Happy Place.” It was an advertisement for Winter Park, a well-known ski area.
All of us have a “happy place.” It’s the place we go to escape our worries and cares. It’s the place we go to fill up our souls.
Some happy places truly fill us up, and others slowly siphon away our life.
Please join me today as we explore the happiest of all places.
1 Samuel 29:1-31:13
INSIGHTS AND EXPLANATIONS
1 Samuel 29:1-31:13. We’ll look at this closer in The Word Made Flesh, but notice that after regaining his possessions from the Amalekites, David sent some of the plunder to his fellow Israelites back in Israel—just to remind them that although he was temporarily living among the Philistines, he was still an Israelite at heart.
In chapter 31, we read that Saul and his sons were killed in battle. This left little doubt who should fill the leadership vacuum for Israel.
Like a well-written novel, the book of 1 Samuel concludes with the reader wondering what will happen to David and the rest of Israel.
John 11:55-12:19. Chapter 12 begins with “Six days before the Passover,” which tells us that we have now entered the last week of Jesus’ earthly ministry. That means the last 9 chapters of John cover the last six days of Jesus’ earthly life and its aftermath. Obviously, John wants to make this a significant focus of his gospel.
John sets up this scene in chapter 12 with a celebration in honor of Jesus raising Lazarus from the dead. At one point, Mary anoints Jesus feet with an expensive perfume and then wipes it with her hair. Like today, this would have been an extremely intimate act, which likely made everyone uncomfortable—except Jesus and Mary. The Bible Background Commentary explains that, “It was customary to anoint the heads of important guests, but a host would provide only water for their feet.”
A little later in our reading, we see Jesus washing his disciple’s feet. In this case, Mary washed Jesus’ feet not with water but with expensive perfume.
Psalm 118:1-18. This psalm was written as a procession that the people sang on their way to the temple. It begins and concludes with the same words: “Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good; his love endures forever.” Psalm 136 shares this same theme.
Although we aren’t sure who wrote it, this psalm fits in well with our reading in 1 Samuel.
In today’s reading, the people speak about the Lord. In tomorrow’s reading, the people speak to the Lord. This gives us an overview of intimacy with God (see The Word Made Flesh below). Speaking about God leads to speaking to God. Speaking about God prepares us to speak to him.
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THE WORD MADE FRESH
The tension builds as the Philistine and Israelite armies begin fighting. What will David do? By marching at the rear of the Philistine brigade, it’s apparent that David and his men are reluctant to enter the fight. At this point, the Philistine commanders demonstrate more wisdom than their king, and convince him to send David away.
But God’s hand was in this. If David had fought for the Philistines when Saul and Jonathan were killed, he could have been accused by the Israelites of being an accessory to the crime.
So David and his men return home to find their houses burned down, their possessions stolen, and their wives and children kidnapped. All this, compliments of the Amalekites. His own men are so upset with him that they begin talking about stoning him. This was the low ebb of David’s life.
Warren Wiersbe, in his book Be Successful speculates that this was “perhaps a message from the Lord that it was time for David to think about returning to Judah.”
With his family gone and his men turning on him, we read these words: “But David found strength in the Lord his God.” Literally, it reads, “David strengthened himself in the Lord his God.”
While reading, I couldn’t move beyond this phrase. When I’m in distress, when I’m stressed out, I can respond in a variety of ways:
- Be defensive.
- Take out my frustrations on my wife or my kids. This is what the David’s men wanted to do to him.
- Run away.
- Disengage from reality.
- Resort to some sort of numbing agent like alcohol, drugs, or masturbation.
- Isolate and fall into a deep depression.
But we read that “David strengthened himself in the Lord his God.”
Earlier in 23:16 we read that in a moment of distress, “Jonathan went to David at Horesh and helped him find strength in God.”
Remember that entering this same battle, Saul was in distress and he responded by seeking help from the witch of Endor.
But before moving ahead, David entered the sanctuary of the Lord his God (see Psalm 73:17) and then sought spiritual direction through Abiathar the priest.
Bringing our stress, anguish, and brokenness to God isn’t always our first response. Yet, as we read today in Psalm 118, only the love of God endures forever. Only he can sustain us. Only he can bring us the perspective we need to move forward. Only he can give us the strength to persevere.
It’s the happy place that God invites all of us to enter.
It’s his life-giving presence.
- What spoke to you in today’s reading?
- How you have found strength in the Lord your God during a time of stress?
- How do your words prepare your heart to grow in intimacy with God?
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Michael co-pastors The Neighborhood Church in Littleton, Colorado.