In North America it is time for gardening. What are your favorite things to plant - flowers, potatoes, onions, tomatoes, peppers, or something else? After you carefully plant them, do you just leave them alone until it is time for harvest? What happens if you do not clear all the weeds? The plants do not produce well, and sometimes the life is choked out of them. The same is true in our spiritual lives; spiritual seeds may be planted, but if our spiritual life is not tended, what is planted will bear little or no fruit. Luke 8:14 says, “The seed that fell among thorns stands for those who hear, but as they go on their way they are choked by life's worries, riches and pleasures, and they do not mature,” (NIV). Is the spiritual garden of your heart well tended, or is it choked so it does not mature?
King Saul did not tend the garden of his spiritual life. He started out well. Saul was humble and even reticent to take the leadership of the nation. When he was appointed king, Saul was led by the Spirit of God to give Israel early victories over her enemies. Saul gave glory to God for victories and resisted petty revenge. That was the seed. Unfortunately, pride, power, and position choked out the spiritual fruit of his life; he could not grow in spiritual maturity or lead Israel spiritually. Because of his pride and disobedience, God had Samuel anoint David to replace him. David was a man after His own heart. One of King Saul’s sins was not completely wiping out the Amalekites. He wanted the praise of his men and wealth more than obeying the LORD. Ironically, it may have been an Amalekite who finished him off when he was dying (unless the Amalekite was just boasting to obtain David's favor, 2Samuel 1:6-10).
Contrasted with Saul's disobedience is David's obedience. The seed of David's spiritual life also started with humble beginnings — he was a shepherd. However, David seeks the help of the LORD his God. God is his refuge and strength. David grows in spiritual maturity because he keeps the weeds of pride, power and position out of his life and nurtures his relationship with the LORD, the giver of life and blessings. He protects David in the wilderness from the murderous pursuits of the jealous King Saul. Although pursued by him, David respects the LORD’s choice of Saul as his anointed and does not kill him, even though he has two opportunities to do it, and David is also God's anointed. The Almighty blesses David's military exploits and surrounds him with brave fighting men. God even protects this young warrior from an unwise alliance with the Philistines, which would have caused him to fight against his own people.
As we learned in yesterday's Bible reading, when David returns to Ziklag with his men, they discover the Amalekites have taken advantage of their absence; they raided and burned the town while the Philistines and Israelites were engaged in battle. They carried away plunder and took their families captive. Saul had failed to completely wipe out the Amalekites, but David and his men now take revenge on them to rescue their families. God blesses his band of men, and they are able to recover everyone and everything and plunder those who plundered them. They defeat the Amalekites with a great slaughter.
David’s spiritual maturity is again manifested when he receives word of the death of Saul and his sons on the battle field. He does not rejoice in the death of his enemy. David mourns the loss of the LORD's anointed one, composes a song in tribute to King Saul and Jonathan (2Samuel 1:19-27), and orders the men of Judah to be taught this lament.
How do we react when God's spiritual leaders fall? Do we rejoice and seize opportunities for ourselves, or do we mourn? David was a humble man. David realized he started out as a lowly shepherd boy. He never forgot his roots. He never sought to dethrone Saul or his sons. David realized that God was fully capable of bringing his kingdom into fruition when it was time; He did not need David's help. Romans 12:4 says, “Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the measure of faith God has given you,” (NIV).
What weeds do we need to clear from our spiritual gardens? Are we eager to do what is good and tend our gardens, or do we let the weeds of wickedness choke out any spiritual growth? Let's be good gardeners so the LORD will make us fruitful in what we do. Let's make sure we reap good things from the things we sow.
Lessons to live by:
Spiritual seeds may be planted, but if our spiritual life is not tended, what is planted will bear little or no fruit. Is the spiritual garden of your heart well tended, or is it choked by worries, riches and pleasures?
Like David, let’s weed out the sins of pride, power, and position from our spiritual gardens. Let us nurture our relationship with God, the giver life and blessings.
Today’s Bible memory verses:
Galatians 6:7-8, NIV
Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows. The one who sows to please his sinful nature, from that nature will reap destruction; the one who sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life.
Testimony and Experience: I am a committed Christian, husband, and father of four adult children. At Clarks Summit University in Clarks Summit, PA., I earned a B.S. in Bible in the Pre-Seminary program. Since 1987 I have been active teaching the Bible and leading in church settings. In 1995 I started reading The One-Year Chronological Bible (ISBN 0-8423-5090-X) by Tyndale Publishers. The arrangement of the Scriptures in Chronological order made it easier to understand and gave me insights otherwise overlooked. I knew others could profit in the same way.
In 2008 I searched for a devotional Bible study for the One-Year Chronological Bible. This would be enriching for me and helpful for teaching my students. In 2009 the Lord challenged me to write it after nothing was found in the market place to meet that need. Two years later, with the help of the Lord and some very generous and skillful friends, I began publishing and maintaining an online version of One-Year Chronological, Scripture, Topical and small group Bible studies @ http://mtbiblestudies.com. That continues to this day.