Oh, the worth of God.
When I woke up early this morning to do my daily Bible reading, I felt the conviction to approach it differently than I usually do. I pulled out my journal and penned a short little prayer:
O God, You are my God. Early will I seek Thee. Earnestly will I seek Thee. As I meditate upon Your Word this morning, O Love of my soul, let me not approach it through the lens of mental stimulation, principle formation, dignity elevation, nor secure foundation. Neither let me approach it as a means of achieving knowledge of promise, calling to office, counters to the doubting Thomas, nor seeking power dishonest. No! I read not this book, O Lord, to stimulate my mind or discover principles or make my life successful or discover blessed promises or provide myself with a sense of safety or to defend it against the heathen or to receive sermons to preach or because it is my job or because I seek some mystical power. No; I read Your Word that I might know You more. I meditate upon it all the day because I search for the Man who wrote it. Meet me here this day, O God, and let my searching not be in vain. If You provide those other things, all the better, but this alone do I seek: Do not let me lose focus on You! Help me read it as You would read it; reveal to me that which lifts Your name highest. May each word be a conviction to my very soul. Meet me here, O God. I pine for Thee.
Then I began to read, and the Lord was faithful to answer that prayer. I wanted to share my reflections on the reading with you, and I pray that you will truly read it. It’s a bit lengthier, but I believe that it is worth the time. The text I was reading was 1 Samuel 24; you are welcome to read over it for yourself, but as a quick summary, it details the story wherein David, fleeing from Saul, actually spares Saul’s life when Saul goes to relieve himself in the very cave David is hiding in.
1 Samuel 24
“The Lord forbid that I should do this thing to my lord, the Lord’s anointed, to put out my hand against him, seeing he is the Lord’s anointed” (1 Sa 24:6). So greatly does David revere the name of the Lord that he refuses to lay a hand on his enemy. To bring an end to this evil king would likely bring an immediate end to his various misfortunes and would probably bring to fruition a premature fulfillment of the promises given him, but so greatly does he magnify the Lord that he will not even consider harming one who has been anointed by the Lord.
David has been anointed as the new king and Saul’s kingdom has been torn from him like the tearing of Samuel’s robe (15:27-29), but David will only act according to God’s timing, according to God’s will, and by the very hand of God Himself. It is his reverence for the Lord that calls him into greater faith. Though it prolongs his suffering, David thus spares Saul’s life, and yet his “heart struck him” (24:5) and soul afflicted him even when he had cut off a part of Saul’s robe, for in doing so he dishonored the king.
You see, it is not enough for David to spare the life of his enemy, but his very conscience bids him to in fact honor his enemy, not because Saul is by his own means worthy of honor, but because Saul is anointed by God, and so exceedingly worthy is God that His anointing of even the most sinful of all men makes that man worthy to be honored.
Oh my soul, do you revere your Creator to such an extent? If you did, it would certainly be reflected in the manner by which you relate to others. Are not all men created in the image of God, and are not all those who are in Christ anointed by the outpouring of His Holy Spirit, He whom dwells in us today? This means that even your most bitter enemy and even the chief of all sinners is worthy of your love, for Christ died for them. They might not have accepted that payment – and so for them His death was in vain and their lives of iniquity steal from Him the glory purchased at the cross – yet He loved them enough to offer them the chance at redemption…even if they wouldn’t take it. If God loved them enough to die for them though they were His enemies – if He loved you enough to die for you though you were His enemy – how can you do anything but love the sinner, though you hate the very thing he does (sin)?
David certainly hated that Saul sought his life, and yet he comes from the cave calling, “My lord the king!” (v.8) and again, “my father” (v.11). He passionately hates the sin but endlessly loves the sinner – showing him both honor and affection – and boldly calls the sinner to repentance.
Yet notice this: not once does David point to himself as Saul’s enemy – no for, he is as a “dead dog” or a “flea” (v.14) and poses no threat to Saul – he could, but he refuses to do so. Rather, David calls Saul to repentance not with a pointed finger but with an outstretched hand, not as an accusation or condemnation but as an objective and straightforward warning: “Behold, this day your eyes have seen how the Lord gave you today into my hand … but I spared you. I said, ‘I will not put out my hand against my lord, for he is the Lord’s anointed.’ … May the Lord judge between me and you, may the Lord avenge me against you, but my hand shall not be against you. … May the Lord therefore be a judge and give sentence between me and you, and see to it and plead my cause and deliver me from your hand” (v.10,12,15).
It all goes back to God.
It is zeal for the Lord that bids David oppose Saul, but it is reverence for the Lord that bids him spare Saul’s life.
It is the promise of God that leaves David confident of the future, yet it is the worth of God that demands he patiently await the appropriate time.
My soul, do you value the Lord your God so dearly? Do you magnify His name so greatly? Make no mistake, you will, in time, come to mirror the master whom you serve. If He is good, you will be good. If He is just, you will be just. If He is merciful, you will be inclined to mercy. If He is gracious, you will distribute grace. And if He is worthy – oh, you will become worthy as well! Such is the case with David, who through his mercy left Saul lifting his voice as he wept. And he who once called David “me enemy” (19:17) now calls out, “Is this your voice, my son David?” (24:16) The repentance will be temporary, as is often the case with Saul (may such never be said of me, O Lord!), yet the point that through knowing the worth of his King, David will become a worthy king himself. (Not perfect, but a king “after His (God’s) own heart,” 13:14).
My soul, if you seek to give God the glory due His name, you must come to full recognize as best you can – as best a can be fathomed by finite man – the deep and boundless riches of His worth, the endless treasuries of overflowing glory that has been His from and for all eternity yet which we daily plunder by our sins. If you seek to “be angry and do not sin” (Eph 4:26), you must set it in your mind that “zeal for Your house has consumed me, and the reproaches of those who reproach You have fallen on me” (Ps 69:9). God’s personal relationship with you need to be of such intimacy that insults against God will sound as insults against you, and the mere thought of withholding glory from the Creator burns as a fiery arrow piercing your very soul.
Everything you do, everything you say, everything you see, everything you think…they must all be done through the lens of Christ, said through the lens of Christ, seen through the lens of Christ, thought through the lens of Christ.
The sinner is not merely broken; no, he or she is an enemy of God, dead in their trespasses, daily stealing from God the glory He deserves…but he or she is also a person created in the image of God, failing to grasp the true purpose of his or her life (and so to be lovingly called to Christ).
Your life is not your life; you were bought at a price by the very person who should have possessed you from the beginning, yet you ran from Him…and He has given you the honor of serving Him – totally forgiven and free – with every breath you take, none of which are to be wasted or taken for granted.
Food is not something you must eat to live or to survive; it is the providence of God that allows you to delight in the wonder of all He has created.
The breath you breathe is the grace of God being illustrated with each inhalation and exhalation, a gift given to one who is severely unworthy yet overwhelmingly loved by a gracious God.
The list goes on!
Every opportunity, be it big or small, is an opportunity to offer praise to the Uncreated One who created you, an opportunity to see God for who He truly is and join in with all the hosts of heaven in proclaiming, “Worthy are You, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honor and power, for You created all things, and by Your will they existed and were created” (Rev 4:11), and again, “Worthy is the Lamb who was slain, to receive power and wealth and wisdom and might and honor and glory and blessing!” (5:12).
After this incident between David and Saul at the cave, David penned the 57th psalm, in which he sung out, “Be exalted, O God, above the heavens! Let Your glory be over all the earth!” (Ps 57:5). Oh, how I long for this to be the song of my soul all the breadth of my life, to make known His glory and worth to all people – to each and any and every person I encounter! “My heart is steadfast, O God, my heart is steadfast!” David cries. “I will sing and make melody!” (v.7) A man has never known the meaning of song until it has been sung from the depths of truest love, and this is what David perfectly personifies as he sings before the Lord his God.
But David isn’t done: “Awake, my glory (that is, “my whole being”)! Awake, O harp and lyre! I will awake the dawn!” (v.8) Anything and everything is to be used for the glory of God, be it big or small, short or tall, tiniest whisper of bellowing call. Use all that is within you; use the instruments in your hands; look unto the rising sun and let it be the very voice by which you praise your holy Savior – by which we all praise His holy name!
“I will give thanks to You, O Lord, among the peoples,” David sings. “I will sing praises to You among the nations. For Your steadfast love is great to the heavens, Your faithfulness to the clouds” (v.9-10). Let every eye see and every ear hear this single truth that stands above all others: the Lord is worthy to be praised. Examine your life and let not a moment of ingratitude enter your spirit. The command to “rejoice always” (1 Th 5:16) should be no burden because you are ever caught up in the splendor of Your King; the command to “pray without ceasing” (v.17) should take no effort because you are so busy fulfilling – with eager and abundant joy – that third command, to “give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you” (v.18).
And so we conclude, with David, “Be exalted, O God, above the heavens! Let Your glory be over all the earth!” (Ps 57:11), and we proclaim, with Paul, “So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God” (1 Co 10:31).
He is worthy. Oh, He is worthy. My heart and my soul, if there is one thing of which you are certain, let it be that the Lord your God is worthy of your praise. “Amen! Blessing and glory and wisdom and thanks and honor and power and strength to our God forever and ever! Amen” (Rev 7:12).
May the Lamb that was slain receive the glory due His suffering!