This morning in my devotions I was reading the story of David facing down and defeating Goliath. Remember that Goliath had challenged the champion of Israel to come for a one-on-one battle and for 40 days no one stepped up to accept that challenge. David arrives bringing some food and supplies for his older brothers when he hears Goliath’s challenge and he jumps right in to go and defeat this boastful, arrogant Philistine. This should have been a time of great delight and victory for the nation and for King Saul, but the joy of the victory was very short-lived for King Saul. We hear the reason why in the following verses, “When the men were returning home after David had killed Goliath, the women came out from all the towns of Israel to meet King Saul with singing and dancing, with joyful songs and with tambourines and lutes. As they danced, they sang: “Saul has slain his thousands, and David his tens of thousands”. Saul was very angry; this refrain galled him. “They credited David with tens of thousands”, he thought, “but me with only thousands. What more can he get but the kingdom?” And from that time on Saul kept a jealous one David (1 Samuel 18:6 – 9 NIV).
What strikes me is that Saul was the king and he also had declined the opportunity to take on the challenge of Goliath man-to-man. In fact, he had ignored the challenge for 40 days. Saul also knew that the dancing and celebration for David was not based in reality, it just wasn’t true that David had slain his 10,000s. Saul as the king should have been able to enjoy the moment, but because of a lack of contentment and his lack of obedience to God in several previous responses, now he became very jealous. That jealousy and rage against David became the driving force in his life over the next decade or so. Even after David was married to his daughter Michal and was best friends with his son Jonathan, Saul’s jealousy and rage consumed him. When Saul should have been enjoying his family, experiencing contentment with all that God had given him, he was driven mad by disobedience and jealousy. Think about what his life might have been if he was just content in the Lord and the place where God placed him.
How different was the response of the apostle Paul to the difficulties he encountered? We have been considering his words in recent weeks from Philippians 4 as a model on how to develop right-thinking, even during these difficult Covid-19 days. We continue our study in v. 10, “I rejoice greatly in the Lord that at last, you have you renewed your concern for me. Indeed, you have been concerned, but you had no opportunity to show it. I am not saying this because I am in need, I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances,” (Phil.4:10-11 NIV). What does it mean to “rejoice greatly in the Lord”? Is there a difference between that and just rejoicing? Paul’s entire circumstances were viewed as part of God’s dealing with him. Paul rejoiced greatly in his circumstances as a gift from God because God continued to give him success in his ministry even in the midst of the most difficult circumstances. God used Paul mightily through his imprisonment, not only reaching the people around him, but in writing the prison epistles (Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians, and Philemon) that have been a blessing to the church of Jesus Christ for the last 2000 years. We are rejoicing greatly in the Lord in these days as we see Him using us beyond the original scope of our intention or through means that we never could have imagined.
The source of Paul’s rejoicing in the fact that the Philippians had found a way to support him with the gifts that they sent, which showed their concern for Paul, as they had lacked the opportunity to do so before. Many Christians today have opportunities to be a blessing to others but lack the concern to do so. As God has blessed us in some unexpected financial ways in recent months, I have used the opportunity to try to be a blessing to some of my ministry friends in India who I know have great needs there. Remember the providence of God should be a source of contentment as we see God blessing us and moving and working. Paul saw God’s hand at work in ruling and overruling in all the difficulties and problems in his life. Paul saw in all of his experiences the divine providence of God in his life and ministry and had earlier testified, “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose,” (Rom. 8:28 NIV). We’ll be considering this theme of contentment over the next few blogs as we continue in our quarantined state, let us make sure that we are drawing our contentment from our God who has provided eternal life for us through His Son, the Lord Jesus Christ. Hoping to see many of you in the coming weeks as God continues to move, and work and we start to reconnect again through live events at NDC.
In the King’s Service,
Pastor Rich Sivo