Thinking Points

 

David: The Ball in Saul’s Court

There are many fascinating mysteries about David, who slew the giant Goliath and who later became King of Israel.  One of these mysteries is: Why did David continue to serve in the court of King Saul even after Saul broke his widely proclaimed promise to give “great wealth to the man who kills him [Goliath]…. give his daughter in marriage and …. exempt his father’s family from taxes in Israel” [1 Samuel 17:25]?  

Didn’t King Saul reward David with great wealth after he killed Goliath? The Bible only records that Saul’s son, Jonathan, “took off the robe he was wearing and gave it to David, along with his tunic, and even his sword, bow and his belt” [1 Sam 18:4].  

Didn’t Saul give David one of his daughters in marriage, immediately after the slaying of the dreaded Goliath?  No, Saul did not.  Instead, Saul put David in charge of “a thousand men, and David led the troops in their campaigns. [And] in everything he did he had great success, because the Lord was with him”.  Only after these campaigns and successes did Saul offer David the hand of his elder daughter Merab in marriage.  

To be fair to Saul, perhaps, like many other kings, he wanted his daughter to marry someone of stature.  But then, when David killed Goliath, didn’t he achieve instant fame, acclaim and stature?  David was no Prince Charming, but he was handsome [1 Sam 16:12] and a national hero, and God was with him.  Saul should have been happy to have such a man marry his daughter.  Wasn’t that why he eventually offered David his elder daughter?  

If we look up Saul’s sleeve, we will find a sinister motive.  For Saul gave David a difficult condition to fulfill: “I will give her to you in marriage; only serve me bravely and fight the battles of the Lord” [1 Sam 18:17].  In one breath, Saul identified himself as someone who fought the battles of God; and could David refuse to fight the “battles of the Lord”?  Why force David into battle after battle? Saul wanted David to be killed!  Saul said to himself, “I will not raise a hand against him.  Let the Philistines do that!” [1 Sam 18:17].  How cunning and evil Saul was.  He was prepared to sacrifice his daughter’s happiness and condemn her to lonely widowhood, to achieve his wicked aims.   

What terrible thing had David done, that Saul wanted him dead?  David had done nothing against Saul.  But when the women of Israel came out of their towns to congratulate Saul on his victory over the Philistines, they sang, “ Saul has slain his thousands, and David his tens of thousands”.  Wasn’t it miraculous, that before newspapers, radio, television, telephone and e-mail, women in different towns could sing the same song?  However, what they sang was untrue.  “Saul was very angry; this refrain galled him” [1 Sam 18:8].  Hmm, very angry and galled? No wonder, “From that time on Saul kept a jealous eye on David”.  In fact, the very next day, Saul threw a spear at David, twice, to kill him [1 Sam 18:10, 11].

That brings us back to the question: Why did David remain in Saul’s service, when the king had reneged on his promise of reward, and had tried to kill him indirectly and directly?  Was it because David, having been anointed by God’s prophet, Samuel, knew that he would be King of Israel one day?  Where could he learn how to behave like a king, except in King Saul’s court?  

But there was another and simpler reason: “From that day [when David killed Goliath], Saul kept David with him and did not let him return to his father’s house” [1 Sam 18:2].  But whatever the reason, was God not in control of the situation?  After sending his prophet to anoint David as the future king of Israel, didn’t God arrange for David to learn the arts of kingship by serving in Saul’s court and becoming Saul’s son-in-law, through marrying his younger daughter, Michal?  But beware of learning the wrong things from your superiors: Saul sent David into battle to be killed, and David did the same thing to Uriah, his lover’s husband.

Could God be using your present job, or the tough experience you are going through, to prepare you for something that he wants you to do in the future?

ALUMNI NEWS. We are always glad to hear and share news about our Alumni. AmosAmos family 2004 Ang, who recently graduated from Regent College with the M Div, is now a father again! Congrats Amos and Karen. The whole family will be back in Singapore in September. Let’s hear from Amos. (Dr Quek)  

When we arrived at Regent 2 years ago, we thought we knew for sure what we were here for: to equip ourselves for the long haul in ministry. We thought it meant acquiring as much biblical knowledge as we could and learning how to contextualize them to serve God's people in our generation more effectively. To be honest, the more we learnt, the more burdensome the knowledge became for us - how the misunderstanding and consequently, the misinterpretation of scriptures can lead to a gross misconduct of ministry in Jesus' name.  

Over the weeks and months of sitting at our professors' feet, waiting on the Lord in prayer and interacting with others who had the same desire(s), we realized that longevity in ministry is not just about "getting it right" in the capacity that God has placed us to bring His people to full maturity in Christ. But even more importantly, it would require of us as God's workers to "guard our heart(s) above all else, for it is the wellspring of life (Prov 4:23)."   

There is a critical difference between a canal and a reservoir. Bernard of Clairvaux once wrote, "If you are wise, you will show yourself rather as a reservoir than a canal." A canal distributes the water it receives as a conduit: it merely passes it on. But a reservoir waits until it is filled, and then overflows without losing any of its fullness. We believe God intends for us to give (in every respect) out of the overflow of our hearts: we will only preach the gospel well when we know for ourselves it is true.  

Two ways that God has revealed to us personally in guarding our own hearts as His workers are firstly, guarding against irreverence toward Him. Say any word out loud too many times and it becomes mere sounds in the air; write or read a word too many times and it becomes mere ciphers on a page. My point? Too much God-talk can cause nerve damage in our hearts. This can lead to a loss of the sense of God's transcendence, infinity and holiness, since He seems so easily encompassed in the language that we use as part of our day-to-day work. Our challenge is not just to speak or teach the word of God but to seek, above all, to let it purge our hearts of impure motives and misguided affections and loyalties. For only the pure in heart shall see God. Isn't that what we want most of all-to see God?  

Secondly, we were reminded once again that God really does not owe us anything. This came home to us when a beloved professor shared how he didn't get to see his dying father because he didn't have the money to fly home while he was studying at seminary many years ago. Whomever one of us has ever given up something (in any capacity) for the sake of furthering His Kingdom (be it time, finances or career etc.), would somehow in our human fallenness, expect God to someday remember our sacrifices and come through for us when we encounter times of great need.  

But God is not fair. He is just. And He is God! He gives according to His good and divine purpose and He withholds so that we may gain a heart of understanding. To guard our hearts is to be ever conscious that we serve Him because of what He has done for us in Christ and not what we can get out of serving Him.  

The past two years have been an incredible journey of knowing our Savior and Lord anew and experiencing His hand of grace at work in our lives and Nathan's. Thank you once again, for your generous and sacrificial giving which has been God's instrument of the countless blessings we received in our time here.  

Amos graduated from his program on Apr 26 2004, 3 months earlier than he had planned. It was a very emotional moment for Karen as she held his certificate in her hand, for it was such a dream come true for Amos to devote an undistracted amount of time to study God's word. In the process, he had remained true to his duties as husband, father and active participant in the church that we attended.... We can't wait to see and re-connect with all of you again! ....  

Yours most sincerely,
Amos & Karen Ang, with Nathan
amosang@sccc.org.sg 

CHAPEL NOTES

Chapel last week (14 July) was chaired by Dr Quek Swee Hwa, who spoke on the topic  “The Compassion of God” from Micah 6. Chapel speaker on 28th July was Mr Quek Tze-Ming.

BGST GENERAL FUND UPDATE:

Budget for the month of Jul 2004 = $  36,926

Funds received (as at 27 Jul)      = $  38,796

Surplus for current month           = $    1,870 

Budget for Jul - Dec 2004           = $ 308,661  

  • Thank you, dear supporters for helping us to meet our General Fund target for July.  

  • Pray for the Building Fund. Before we can move to Tanjong Pagar we need to raise $255,000 for our renovations.

A Blessed Birthday to ...

Mrs Wong Siew Ee 27/7

Ms Ng Li Shien  27/7

Mdm Chew Lee Khim  27/7

Ms Au Na Chuang  28/7

Mdm Claudine Chan  28/7

Mr Wan Chee Wei  30/7

Mr William Chew  31/7

Mr Mathews Abraham  31/7

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This page is updated on 29 July 2004. 
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