April 25; Choosing Our Thoughts and Feelings

I Samuel 30:1-31:13; I Chronicles 10:1-14; 2 Samuel 1:1-27, 4:4

When you read the Bible chronologically you can’t help but see that there are two different accounts of the events surrounding Saul’s death. I know I’ve addressed it in years past, but let me just say here that what we read is what God said happened to Saul, and we read what an Amalekite said happened, believing he’d get a reward.

In the past I have tried to meld both accounts into one. Like maybe Saul fell on his sword and lay dying. His armor-bearer, assuming the king was dead, falls on his own sword. Then, while Saul is slowly bleeding out and begging for an end to his suffering, the Amalekite hears and obliges the king by dealing the final blow. I’ve even seen the irony in the fact that it was an Amalekite who killed Saul, considering that years earlier God had told Saul to eliminate the Amalekites completely, and Saul disobeyed.

But I am so thankful God is still growing me, still teaching me after all these years. Today He seems to be pointing out the fact that, as the Author, He can speak for Himself. What He said in Scripture is that Saul killed himself that day. So why do I think He meant something different?

Sometimes I am guilty of trying to figure out what Scripture means, when God just wants me to just look at what it says. I’m learning He’s pretty good at saying what He means. And if I read things into it, I’m not reading what He wrote. Yes there are times when I need to dig deep in order to understand some things. But I don’t want to be guilty of putting words in God’s mouth.

Actually, I wrote much more on that than I intended. What really spoke to me today was how David reacted to the news of Saul’s death. Saul had made David’s life miserable for years. Yet David was truly grieved over Saul’s death. There was no victory party. David went into mourning.

In fact, he even wrote a song to remember all the good Saul had done, never mentioning the awful way Saul had treated him. David chose to let some things go, and concentrate on the good.

We have the ability to make that same choice every day. We can choose bitterness, hate, jealousy. We can think about and hope for a measure of satisfaction, or revenge. Or we can choose love. We can choose forgiveness. We can choose to see ourselves and others through God’s eyes.

You might think the person who is making your life miserable doesn’t deserve your forgiveness, that they deserve to be hated by you. Did Saul deserve David’s forgiveness? Wouldn’t Saul have deserved it if David hated him even after death?

Did the Jews deserve Jesus’ forgiveness? Wouldn’t Jesus have been right to hate them instead of dying for them?

Don’t think you can’t help what you feel. You absolutely can. You can choose every day to be joyful, forgiving, loving, encouraging. Or not. Maybe being forced to live in a cave, running for you life for years would have been too much for you. I think it would depend on what you told yourself about that.

Maybe your circumstances today are too much for you. But I think it depends on what you are telling yourself about it. Because your circumstances might be too much for you. But they are not too much for your Father.

How often did David say that his circumstances were crushing him, that he was frustrated and discouraged? And how often do those psalms expressing his deep pain end with the declaration that He trusted God anyway. That’s the choice I hope all of us make when our circumstances seem unbearable.

I honestly believe that when we get our eyes off our circumstances, and off our selves, when we think about the ways God has blessed us in the past, when we meditate on His attributes, our feelings change.

The Bible tells us so.

 

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