How To Get Promoted—God’s Way

ThanksLiving: 365 Days of Gratitude

In your desire to advance professionally, just remember that God’s promotions come in God’s time and in God’s way—you don’t need to help him out by trying to hurry them along. Furthermore, it is never wise to build yourself up by putting others down—to showcase your strengths by exposing the weaknesses of others is not God’s way. Likewise, remember that when God destines you to be a leader, be a patient and genuine follower under present leadership—even if it is flawed. If God has put a desire for leadership in your heart, you can be sure that he has also planted the right moves inside you that will take you all the way to the top.

Going Deep // Focus: 2 Samuel 3:36

All the people took note [of the way David transitioned royal power from King Saul] and they were pleased; indeed, everything the king did pleased them.

In the ways and means of God’s kingdom, there is a right way and a wrong way to assume power. David’s rise to kingship is a textbook case of the right way—he was a man who made all the right moves on his way to the top.

The old king, Saul, was dead, and now nothing stood in the way of David’s ascendency to the throne of Israel. He was the rightful king of God’s people since the Lord, through the prophet Samuel, has called and anointed David as leader. Furthermore, in all of those difficult years in which King Saul had tried to eliminate the upstart shepherd boy, God had been training David how to “king it”, and now, at long last, he was throne-ready.

You will notice in these opening chapters of 2 Samuel, however, that even though King Saul, the last obstacle standing in the way of David’s prophetic rise to power, was now dead, still David did not seize the opportunity to thrust himself upon Israel as its new leader. Rather, he waited for a Divine opening of those doors critical to his assumption of the throne. Likewise, David demonstrated an uncanny leadership savvy in this delicate political situation by refusing to be opportunistic. You will see particularly in 2 Samuel 1 how David’s response to the news of the deaths of Saul and Jonathon distinguished the king-in-waiting as a different kind of leader than King Saul had been:

In reading this account, one can’t help but be moved by David’s authentic grief at the news of Saul’s death. (2 Samuel 1:11-12) Rather than rejoicing that their tormentor was dead, David and his men tore their clothes, mourned and fasted until evening. David empathized with a grieving nation at this time of loss—the loss of a king, a prince and an army. At this moment, David was not the king-to-be; he was first and foremost an Israelite who personally felt this national tragedy. He had lost a king and a father-in-law, and he had lost a brother-in-law in Prince Jonathan who happened also to be the closest friend he had ever known—and it hurt deeply. Furthermore, regardless of Saul’s ungodly and ineffective leadership, David still viewed Saul as the Lord’s anointed, and since “the anointed” had been killed in battle, that alone was reason for grief.

Furthermore, David distanced himself from a power-grabbing promotion to kingship. (2 Samuel 1:13-16) Instead of proclaiming himself to be the new king, he pulled away from the suggestion proffered in the presentation of the dead King Saul’s crown that it was now rightfully his. Indeed, in passing a death sentence on the Amalekite who had delivered the news and offered the crown to him, David still spoke of Saul as “the Lord’s anointed.” (2 Samuel 1:14,16)

Chapter one ends with a classy move on David’s part: He immortalized King Saul in song. (2 Samuel 1:17-27) In a heartfelt outpouring of David’s heart, this lament paid tribute to Saul and Jonathan as a source of pride, strength and inspiration to Israel.

Now we can learn a great deal from David’s approach to promotion in these chapters that would serve us well in our own journey toward advancement in life. For one thing, David shows us that God’s promotions come in God’s time and in God’s way—and we don’t need to help God out by trying to hurry them along. Furthermore, we learn from David that it is never wise to build ourselves up by putting others down—to showcase our strengths by exposing the weaknesses of others is not God’s way. And finally, when God destines you to be a leader, be a patient and genuine follower under present leadership—even if it is flawed.

If God has put a desire for leadership in your heart, you can be sure that he has also planted the right moves inside you that will take you all the way to the top. So as God brings the opportunities and opens the doors before you, be sure you are making all the right moves!

Going Deeper With God: There are three indispensable requirements if God is calling you to a leadership role: One, patience, two, patience, and three, more patience. Your assignment today is to practice patience. The good news is, since it is a fruit of the Spirit, the Holy Spirit will be there to help you.

Courage!

ThanksLiving: 365 Days of Gratitude

It is precisely out of the darkest of times when someone steps forward to attempt the heroic that the courage of one lifts the hearts of the many. Courage! Every age, including this one, needs men and women of courage who will be sold out to certain convictions that drive them to act, not because they believe they will walk away with their lives, but because it is the right thing to do. That is courage, and in itself, it is victory.

Going Deep // Focus: 1 Samuel 11:11-13

But when the people of Jabesh-gilead heard what the Philistines had done to Saul, all their mighty warriors traveled through the night to Beth-shan and took the bodies of Saul and his sons down from the wall. They brought them to Jabesh, where they burned the bodies. Then they took their bones and buried them beneath the tamarisk tree at Jabesh, and they fasted for seven days.

Courage! Nelson Mandela, a man of remarkable courage himself, wrote, “I learned that courage was not the absence of fear, but the triumph over it. The brave man is not he who does not feel afraid, but he who conquers that fear.” Perhaps Mandela was describing the brave warriors of Jabesh-gilead.

We don’t know their names. We don’t know anything about them really. But the one thing we do know is what will cause them to admired as men for the ages: they were courageous. Risking all that they possessed—their homes, their families, their very lives—to invade the much larger and more powerful Philistine territory, they put their sacred honor on the line to honor God. They mustered the courage to rescue the abused bodies of King Saul and his sons, marching through the night straight into the enemy-occupied city of Beth-shan and through whatever resistance the Philistine guard may have mounted. Once they had retrieved them, they gave King Saul, Jonathan and the other brothers a proper burial. Moreover, they secured a moral victory in an otherwise dark time for the nation of Israel.

There is not much to cheer in 1 Samuel 31, just this courageous act. Israel is at a low ebb, and the prospects for brighter days is exceedingly dim. There has been no coronation of David as Israel’s new king yet—in fact, that is several years off. Furthermore, at this point, as far as anyone might know, David has sided with the Philistines. This is a dark time indeed for God’s people. But that is what makes what the warriors of Jabesh-gilead did so much more spectacular. It is precisely out of the darkest of times when someone steps forward to attempt the heroic that the courage of one lifts the hearts of the many.

Courage! Every age, including this one, needs men and women of courage. I want to be one, how about you? But where does it come from? Like the men of Jabesh-Gilead, it arise from three intertwined sources:

  1. Principle: They were sold out to certain convictions that drove them to act. N.D. Wilson wrote, “Sometimes standing against evil is more important than defeating it. The greatest heroes stand because it is right to do so, not because they believe they will walk away with their lives. Such selfless courage is a victory in itself.” It was the right thing to do, so they did it.
  2. Compassion: They cared deeply for what had been done to the people of Israel; they cared out of deep loyalty the royal family, and they cared deeply about the reputation of God. As Lao Tzu said, “From caring comes courage.”
  3. Anger: They were mad. They were morally offended. Their sense of godly pride had been challenged, and they had to respond. Much of the sacrifice to achieve a worthy cause comes from righteous indignation, and the men of Jabesh-gilead were that, fighting mad. Eric Hoffer rightly observed, “Anger is the prelude to courage.”

Courage! To paraphrase from Cicero, people of faith must be people of courage—unassailable principle, deep concern, and righteous indignation. May that be true of you and me.

Going Deeper With God: What is causing you to shrink back in fear? In the face of fear, step forth and do what is right. That is called courage, and not many people exhibit it.

Cave Time

ThanksLiving: 365 Days of Gratitude

Cave time—everyone gets it. The cave always reveals just how much work God still has to do to get you ready for great things. In the cave of Adullam, God revealed to David that his good looks, musical skill and winsome personality weren’t enough for the kind of king Israel needed. Saul had that—looks, skill, charisma—but he didn’t have the kind of depth with God that the leader of God’s people needed. David needed more of God; the testing of the cave clearly revealed that.

Going Deep // Focus: 1 Samuel 22:1

David left Gath and escaped to the cave of Adullam. When his brothers and his father’s household heard about it, they went down to him there.

If you are like me, you want to live in the never-ending summer of God’s blessing—the sunshine of his grace—where you’ll flourish and enjoy a fruitful life. But to get from here to that land of spiritual fruitfulness, you will have to first endure some “cave-time”.

The cave is core curriculum in the school of spirituality. Call it whatever you want: the pit (Joseph’s “cave”), the desert (Moses’ “cave”), the prison (Paul’s “cave”), the wilderness (Jesus’ “cave”), the cave is to Christians what Camp Pendleton is to marines: Boot camp! It’s basic training for believers. Every believer gets cave-time!

The cave is the place of testing. It’s the blast furnace for moral fiber—where your mettle gets tested! Put a person in the cave of distress, discouragement, doubt or delayed hopes and true character is revealed. The cave always reveals just how much work God still has to do to get you ready for great things. In the cave of Adullam, God revealed to David that his good looks, musical skill and winsome personality weren’t enough for the kind of king Israel needed. Saul had that—looks, skill, charisma—but he didn’t have the kind of depth with God that the leader of God’s people needed. David needed more of God; the testing of the cave clearly revealed that.

The cave is also a place of learning. David recognized that he needed “cave time” so he could “learn what God will do for me.” (I Samuel 22:3) In the cave, David learned what it meant to fully depend on God, because God stripped him of all his misplaced dependencies: his position (David went from fair haired boy to fugitive overnight), his friends (David was separated from his best friend, Jonathon), his spiritual mentor (Samuel died while David was in the cave) and even his dignity (he actually had to feign insanity to escape the Philistines). These were all good things in David’s life, yet God knew that they were a barrier to the great things he had in store for David. So God removed them.

The cave was perhaps the most frustrating period in David’s life—but in hindsight, it turned out to be the most fruitful. That’s because the cave is also the place of forging. As an unknown poet said, the cave is where you are, “pressed into knowing no helper but God.” And that’s exactly what happened to David in the cave of Adullam. Through the discipline of that place, David came into a profound experience with God, and that is the one thing David would need to be a great king.

That’s what God does in the cave. And by the way, God does some of his best work when we are experiencing “cave time”. It was there in the cave of Adullam that David wrote three of his most moving psalms—Psalms 34, 57 & 142.

Psalm 142 shows us that David learned to talk openly and honestly with God—and that God could handle David’s raw emotion. David got brutally honest with God in the cave, and it was great therapy: “I cry aloud to the Lord…I pour out my complaint before him; before him I tell my trouble.” (Psalm 142:1-2)

Psalm 52 shows us that David learned to toughen up in the cave, because God was training him how to “king it!” That’s why David said of his “cave time” experience, “I cry out to God, who fulfills his purpose for me.” (Psalm 57:2)

Finally, Psalm 34 shows us that David learned to look for God in the cave. It was there David found that God was his all-in-all, and out of experience he penned Psalm 34:18, “The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.”

So here’s the deal: If you are in a cave right now, I want to remind you of some good news: You are not alone—God is with you. And furthermore, God understands all about caves. He’s been there! You see, the son of David, Jesus, was stripped of everything, too. He lost his position as a spiritual leader. His own family criticized him. His friends ran away. He lost the adoration of the cheering crowds. He suffered the mockery of a trial and the humiliation of a cross. And when he died, they buried his lifeless body in a cave, and it looked like it was over!

But God does his best work in caves, because it’s where he resurrects dead stuff! That cave was where a dead Messiah became a Risen Savior…and your cave is where your dead dreams, or maybe your dead ministry, or perhaps your dead career or even your dead marriage will take on resurrection life.

Your cave may be very deep and dark and devastating, but here’s the thing you need to know: God works in caves! So stay patient, pliable and trusting—your resurrection is coming!

Going Deeper With God: What a great reminder, that, as Spurgeon said, “Many men owe the grandeur of their lives to their tremendous difficulties.” Perhaps it would be a good idea right now to thank God in advance for the grandeur that he is forging from your “cave time”!

If Past Performance Is Any Indicator…

ThanksLiving: 365 Days of Gratitude

Ever wonder where David got his courage to fight Goliath? Was he just a naturally brave warrior, experienced in battle, skillful in hand-to-hand combat and just spoiling for a fight with an oversized blowhard, or was there something else? There was something else! David, though just a young man, had walked with God in an unusually intimate way. That, more than anything, qualified him as a giant–slayer.

Going Deep // Focus: 1 Samuel 17:32-37

David told Saul, “Don’t worry about this Philistine, I’ll go fight him!” Saul replied, “Don’t be ridiculous! There’s no way you can fight this Philistine and possibly win! You’re only a boy, and he’s been a man of war since his youth.” But David persisted, “I have been taking care of my father’s sheep and goats. When a lion or a bear comes to steal a lamb from the flock, I go after it with a club and rescue the lamb from its mouth. If the animal turns on me, I catch it by the jaw and club it to death. I have done this to both lions and bears, and I’ll do it to this pagan Philistine, too, for he has defied the armies of the living God! The Lord who rescued me from the claws of the lion and the bear will rescue me from this Philistine!”

Ever wonder where David got his courage to fight Goliath? Was he just a naturally brave warrior, experienced in battle, skillful in hand-to-hand combat and just spoiling for a fight with an oversized blowhard, or was there something else?

There was something else! David, though he was just a young man, had walked with God in an unusually intimate way. Prior to facing the Philistine giant, David had spent countless hours in the quiet and solitude of the wilderness watching over his father’s sheep. Hour after monotonous hour of herding sheep, passing the time by plinking Coke bottles with his slingshot—well, maybe he had other targets—writing songs of worship and talking to God, were interspersed with moments of sheer danger when wild animals would attack the flock. In those heart-pounding moments, the only thing standing between the vicious animals and the decimation of his father’s livelihood was David—and God!

David’s time as a shepherd turned out to be a critical period of preparation for what was to come, because it was then that David had come to experience the continual presence and faithfulness of God. In those moments of distress and danger, the strong help of the Almighty had never failed; time and again, God stood by David, helped him, saved him, and the young shepherd had come to know in the depth of his being that the One who walked with him was a covenantly faithful God.

So why was David so courageous when he stood before Goliath? He was simply drawing upon the reservoir of God-confidence that had piled up in his heart. He just knew that he knew that the same God who delivered him from every past danger would deliver him from this present one. God’s past performance was a surefire indicator of what was about to happen. How could it be any other way?

So, have you got a Goliath in your life? I’ll bet you do—a big, hairy, intimidating problem breathing down your neck! You see, Goliath is still around, though he comes in a variety of forms: an impossible financial situation, a nasty boss or a threatening co-worker, a rebellious child or belligerent spouse, a physical problem or a helpless sick loved one. All of us face Goliaths, and the natural thing to do is what the Israelites did: shrink back in depression, cower in fear and run from the battle.

But that would be to live way beneath the level of confidence, joy and victory that God has willed for his people. So learn a lesson from David—Goliath may still be around, but so is God. He hasn’t changed. He is the same yesterday, today and forever. And he is still a covenantly faithful God—he can’t help himself.

Has he helped you in the past? Has he provided for you? Healed you? Protected and delivered you? Has he brought you this far? Why would he not do today, and tomorrow, what he has done in the past?

He will! So put your confidence in him. Get your eye off Goliath and on to God, because the One who delivered you from the paw of the lion and the bear will deliver you from that nasty old Philistine. It’s just what God does!

Going Deeper With God: What is your current Goliath? Spend a moment reflecting how God has taken care of your past giants. Then…go find five smooth stones!

What We See Isn’t All There Is

ThanksLiving: 365 Days of Gratitude

Reading people accurately—understanding their strengths and weaknesses, becoming more intuitive about the things below the surface of their skin, seeing between the lines of their résumé—is one of the great life skills we must acquire. But never forget, that even on your best day, God still sees what you don’t in people. So don’t get caught up in either the immediate or the visible. There is always more going on than what you know.

Going Deep // Focus: 1 Samuel 16:1, 6-7, 11-12

The Lord spoke to Samuel: “Go to Bethlehem. Find a man named Jesse who lives there, for I have selected one of his sons to be my king.” …When they arrived, Samuel took one look at Eliab and thought, “Surely this is the Lord’s anointed!” But the Lord said to Samuel, “Don’t judge by his appearance or height, for I have rejected him. The Lord doesn’t see things the way you see them. People judge by outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.” …Then Samuel asked, “Are these all the sons you have?” Jesse replied, “There is still the youngest, but he’s out in the fields watching the sheep and goats.” Samuel said, “Send for him at once! We will not sit down to eat until he arrives.” So Jesse sent for him. He was dark and handsome, with beautiful eyes. And the Lord said, “This is the one; anoint him.”

I think the story of David’s anointing must have been the source for Charles Perrault’s, Cinderella, although I don’t believe he cited 1 Samuel 16. But the story has a familiar ring to it: each of Jesse’s handsome, hunky sons were paraded past Samuel, who was in town to anoint the next monarch. All seven of the brothers were hoping the glass slipper would fit his foot, which would mean, of course, the crown would follow. To match their brawny bods and olive brown skin, each of them had magnificent, godly names — “God is my father”, “My father is noble”, “Generous and Kind”.

Even the grizzled old prophet Samuel, not known for being a touchy, feely sort of guy, got sucked in by the these Bethlehem calendar guys: “Surely this is the one…surely that is the one…it’s got to be that one.” Perhaps he was so deeply disappointed in King Saul, whom the Lord had rejected as king, and for whose manic behavior Samuel certainly felt responsible since he had anointed him, that he was desperate to take the first kingly looking guy that paraded down the runway. Such is the potential for shallowness in even the best of us.

But then comes one of the greatest lessons in scripture—from no less than God himself: “Hey Samuel, what you see isn’t all there is. You are looking at certain qualities that are only on the surface. Fine! But I look deeper; I look at what is on the inside of the person—because I know the heart. You look for immediate talent, a shovel-ready monarch, but I see what a person can become. Don’t forget Samuel, when you anointed Saul, he had all those hunky qualities too—tall, handsome, and a winning personality. How’d that work out for you? Learn a lesson, my man: I look at the heart—and in David, I have found a boy that will become not just a great man and a great king, but the greatest of men, for he will be a man after my own heart.”

“I look at the heart,” says the Lord. And so should we. Of course, we can’t help but see the outward and the immediate also. We are not called to ignore that—that would be unwise. God has given us eyes and a brain, and as we make judgments about the people with whom we need to work or want to do life, those things matter. But they are not the leading indicators of supernatural anointing or prophetic potential. Those are the most important things about a person, and they are deeper than the skin, or the résumé. They reside in the heart.

The point being that in our choices, evaluations and action plans, we see only so far, but there is always more. God sees the “more.” And that is why we need to stay plugged into God’s Spirit and practice openness to God’s thoughts. Whenever we must make an important decision about a person, we should default to asking God, “So what about this person that I don’t see do you see?” And God will be faithful to tell you if you will consistently maintain an open channel of communication with him.

A great skill in life that we ought to develop is reading people. We can get better at discerning people’s strengths and weaknesses. We can even become much more intuitive about the things below the surface. Even more, we should ask for and hone a spiritual gift the Bible calls discernment. But never forget, that even on your best day, God still sees what you don’t. So don’t get caught up in either the immediate or the visible.

There is always more going on that what you know.

Going Deeper With God: Ask God to reveal what he sees, and foresees, about the people in your life. You might be pleasantly surprised.

Industrial Strength Boldness

ThanksLiving: 365 Days of Gratitude

What if we prayed that God would infuse us with deep courage and a higher degree of trust so that, like Jonathan and his armor bearer, we might tackle the Philistines in our lives—fear, inadequacy, manipulative people, the lack of resources that stand opposed to the vision God has put in our heart, or even our own sinfulness? God is looking to grant Jonathan-like boldness to those who will ask, and who will then step out in raw courage, ruthless trust and risky faith to put God to the test.

Going Deep // Focus: 1 Samuel 14:6

“Let’s go across to the outpost of those pagans,” Jonathan said to his armor bearer. “Perhaps the Lord will help us, for nothing can hinder the Lord. He can win a battle whether he has many warriors or only a few!”

This is my favorite story of confidence and victory in the Bible: Jonathan and his armor bearer boldly talking on a Philistine garrison against overwhelming odds—and routing the enemy in a victory as stunning as they come. The raw boldness, ruthless trust and risky faith of Jonathan—and his armor bearer, let’s not forget him—is at an industrial strength level.

Now there is a fine line between faith and presumption in this story. What if the two warriors would have gotten killed right off the bat? We might still be talking about their boldness, but certainly not their intelligence. Sometimes, as they say, discretion is the better part of valor. When you are taking a risky step of faith at the level that Jonathan took, you really need to make sure you have heard from God. By the way, that requires a moment-by-moment walk with the Lord and not just a “hail Mary”, on again, off again spirituality.

Assuming Jonathan walked intimately with God, we can now say that his declaration was an amazing statement of not just high level faith, but incredible submission to the will of God—something that is even more rare that risky faith. Jonathan was willing not only to take on an enemy that was far better equipped, but he was willing to die for the cause, should God choose that for him. Of course, God honored his faith and enabled him to not only rout the enemy but inspire the rest of the Israelite army to take on and defeat the entire Philistine war machine.

No statement in Scripture is more endearing to me than this faithful declaration by Jonathan: “Let’s go take on these Philistines. Who knows, maybe the Lord might even help us!” Jonathan had such a courageous heart, based on a deep belief in the sovereignty of God, that he was willing to put his life on the line to secure a great victory for the people of God.

Obviously, Jonathan had done a lot of thinking about God before he acted—but act he did when the time came. And out of his heroic effort comes one of the great stories of the Bible. Oh how we wish for more Jonathan’s in our day—and desperately need them. And how I wish I had more of Jonathan’s boldness.

Perhaps you and I should begin to pray for a Jonathan spirit. What if we prayed that God would infuse us with deep courage and a higher degree of trust so that we might tackle the Philistines in our lives—fear, inadequacy, manipulative people, the lack of resources that stand opposed to the vision God has put in our heart, our own sinfulness?

You know, I have a feeling that God is looking to grant that kind of Jonathan-like boldness to those who will ask—and who will then step out in bold, daring faith to put God to the test:

The eyes of the Lord search the whole earth in order to strengthen those whose hearts are fully committed to him. (2 Chronicles 16:9)

May God grant us the kind of courage we read about in Jonathan—faith, hope, and such deep trust in his sovereignty that leads us to live heroic lives of risky obedience that inspires others to greater faith and risky obedience.

Going Deeper With God: Let’s pray this prayer together today: God, fill me with your transforming presence and change me into a different person—a mighty warrior for you.

The Heart God Can Bless

ThanksLiving: 365 Days of Gratitude

When our hearts care more about the things of God and less about our own agenda, unimaginable blessings will begin to flow our way. However, putting personal convenience and preference over our loving obedience to the Lord will interrupt the flow of divine blessing both in the present and possibly even to the generations that will come after us. Each of us must choose the kind of heart we offer to God: a Saul-like heart that has become self-absorbed or a David-like heart that is fully after God’s own heart.

Going Deep // Focus: 1 Samuel 13:13-14

”That was a foolish thing to do,” Samuel answered. “You have not obeyed the command the LORD your God gave you. If you had obeyed, he would have let you and your descendants rule over Israel forever. But now your rule will not continue. Because you have disobeyed him, the LORD will find the kind of man he wants and make him ruler of his people.”

Saul was thirty years old when he began his reign as king over Israel. He started out with so much promise—he had the physique, the look, the humility, that certain something that gave the people a sense that he was the right man for the job. God had selected him from among all the men of Israel to be the leader of God’s very own people.

But something happened along the way—either character flaws that had been there all along came out when the pressure of leadership was on, and/or he began to read his own press and lost his humility along with his singular dependence on God. The Saul we read about in this story is not the one that Samuel found and anointed as Israel’s first king.

Whatever the reason for the change, after some years of successful leadership, his heart began to cool toward God. He began to depend on his kingly qualities rather than the grace of the King of Kings. He began to cut corners in his obedience to the expressed Word of the Lord. He found ways to justify his disobedient actions. He started to make leadership decisions impulsively rather than prayerfully. He began to drift from God to the point where King Saul, the once promising monarch, was in a full out backslide.

What a sad day for Saul, for Israel, for Samuel, and for God. If Saul had only trusted the Lord by fearing and worshiping him wholeheartedly, he and his descendants would have ruled over Israel forever. Think about that: the same promise that God made—and fulfilled—to David, because he was a man after God’s own heart, had been made and would have been fulfilled to Saul and Jonathon, along with their descendants.

If you had obeyed him, someone from your family would always have been king of Israel. (1 Samuel 13:13, CEV)

What a lesson for us: When our hearts cease to care about the things of God and begin to care more about our own agenda, we forfeit the blessings God has in store for us. Worse, we may very well interrupt the flow of divine blessing prepared for the generations that will come after us. That is some serious food for thought!

Saul’s story has always sent a chill down my spine. I read myself into his sandals. I worry that my heart may grow dull toward the things God cares about; that I may begin to care more about my agenda than his. I am certainly capable of that kind of selfishness. I think you are too. Saul reminds us that this is certainly a possibility among sin-broken people.

May the Lord steer us clear from that kind of spiritual waywardness. May we come to him daily and allow him to cleanse us from any and every offense. May we acknowledge any and every thought, word and act of disobedience—no matter how easily justifiable. And may God give us, and may we offer back to him, a heart like David’s: a heart after God.

A foolish heart or a faithful heart—thankfully, God is ready to help us to continually offer him the latter.

Going Deeper With God: Offer this prayer today—and every day: Father, give me a heart like David’s, which was a heart that cared about the things you care about. I pray that you would protect me from a “Saul-heart”! Soften me, make me pliable, keep me true and continually in the shadow of your protective wings. More than anything, I want to be a person after your own heart. Would you grant me that, Lord?”