Thursday, April 01, 2010

Humility Pt. 3

One of the most powerful lessons I learned in the last six weeks was that the closer I stay to God's Word, the more humble it forces me to become. I used to read one Psalm or one Proverb each night, but this time through I burned through Psalms in four nights and Proverbs in two. Reading them that way forced me to really face my own flaws. I am a gossip. I spread rumors. I talk behind other people's backs. I am full of pride. I am sarcastic and occasionally mean. I am a nagging wife. I am lazy and envious. It seemed like every Proverb hit me directly in the heart. When you only read one or two verses or a single chapter in a night, it's easy to digest it and move one, but reading all of them, the truths just kept being exposed, one after another until I was breathless and completely humbled.

I realized that when I am reading God's Word closely and keeping it in my heart, I am humble and I see my own faults. But when I am caught up in life and only reading the Bible occasionally, I spot the flaws in others. It's like sitting in the pew on Sunday, listening to the sermon and thinking, "Boy, I hope So-and-so is listening, because this message is definitely a message to them from God!" When I read the Proverbs one each night, I tended to think of different people in my life who I really wished would read them. I can see the correlation: proximity to the Word forces me to look at myself critically; distance from the Word allows me to look at others critically.

This truth is played out in the life of David. David was known as a "man after God's heart." He stayed in the Word (while the stories in Scripture don't show this, David's many Psalms talk about loving the Word and keeping it close to his heart) and was truly a good and humble man.

While still a teenager, he was anointed by Samuel as king of Israel. Saul was ruling at the time, and with God's anointing, David could easily have decided that it was his time to rule immediately and to overthrow Saul's reign. Instead, David joined Saul's household as his musician and after the death of Goliath, as a warrior. The people of Israel quickly came to love him for his regularly defeats of the Philistines, but he didn't use it against Saul. When Saul tried to assassinate David, he took to the hills and ran for his life instead of raising an army and defending himself.

David had to leave his bride, Saul's daughter Michal, behind and live running for his life for several years. While on the lam, he wrote lots of Psalms praising God for his goodness and begging him for victory. David's goodness attracted lots of followers until he had acquired his own army, but even then he didn't attack Saul. On two separate occasions, Saul was delivered right into David's hand and could easily have been killed, and in both circumstances, David allowed Saul to go free.

The first time, Saul went to relieve himself in a cave not realizing that David and his men were hiding in the back of it. While Saul was there, David, sneaked forward and cut off a piece of Saul's robe. This seemingly harmless act immediately made David feel incredibly guilty, and when Saul left the cave and returned to his troops: Then David stood at the mouth of the cave and called to Saul, "My master!My king!" Saul looked back. David fell to his knees and bowed in reverence. He called out, "Why do you listen to those who say 'David is out to get you'? This very day with your very own eyes you have seen that just now in the cave God put you in my hands. My men wanted me to kill you, but I wouldn't do it. I told them that I won't lift a finger against my master—he's God's anointed. Oh, my father, look at this, look at this piece that I cut from your robe. I could have cut you—killed you!—but I didn't. Look at the evidence! I'm not against you. I'm no rebel. I haven't sinned against you, and yet you're hunting me down to kill me. Let's decide which of us is in the right. God may avenge me, but it is in his hands, not mine. An old proverb says, 'Evil deeds come from evil people.' So be assured that my hand won't touch you.  1 Samuel 24:8-13

David recognized Saul as God's anointed leader, even though he also had been anointed, and respected Saul as his king and ruler. He spoke to him as a beloved father figure, despite the fact that Saul had been chasing him with the intent of killing him for years! When Saul was finally killed years later in a battle against the Philistines, a soldier raced to tell David the "good news." The solider lied telling David that he himself had struck Saul dead, and that lie cost him his life. David killed the man for daring to kill God's anointed, and he genuinely mourned for the death of Saul.

David was secure in his identity as God's anointed and knew that he would rule after Saul's death. Many men would have done all they could to hurry Saul to his end so he could take the throne. But not David. David recognized Saul as his rightful leader and did all he could to avoid fighting with him. That comes from a truly humble heart. He didn't need the crown on his head to know that he would be king.

Over the past three days, I've profiled three of most famous men from the Bible, and the message I gained from each of their life stories. Obviously God has a message for me about humility, because I see it every time I open his Word. While the message is one my heart needs to hear, I believe it's also one that is universal. Everyone needs the occasional reminder that they are not the center of the universe. If it's a message that touched your heart, please drop me a note to let me know!

This is scheduled to post right when I'm supposed to be heading into surgery. If you are reading this the morning of April 1st, please say a prayer for me!