Today: Psalms 68:15-20; John 18:25-40; 1 Samuel 24 & 25
“Blessed be the Lord, who daily bears our burden, the God who is our salvation.” Psalms 68:19
Jesus said “My yoke is easy and my burden is light.” (Matt. 11:30) The Holy Spirit offers us comfort and strength. We can actually give Him our struggles, worries, and fears and He will help us carry them. The more we let go of our own desires and plans to follow God’s perfect plan, the more He is able fill us with His perfect peace and joy.
Before Jesus was arrested, He prayed that we would have His “joy made full” within us. (John 17:13) This is one of the gifts that the Holy Spirit offers us… deep profound joy that is not dependent upon our outward circumstances… joy that can sustain us through the most difficult times of life.
It is up to use to access that peace and joy by diving into our relationship with Jesus. Sometimes we must wrestle with our own imperfect human emotions and wills first to get to that peace and joy. But it IS there for the taking, promised and ready for us when we seek it.
I find it so ironic that the Jewish religious leaders, who were bringing Jesus to Pilate to have Him executed, would not enter the Praetorium “so they would not be defiled, but might eat the Passover.” (v.28) These men were conspiring to murder the Messiah, yet they were still so careful to follow their religious rules. This is the spirit of legalism. And it strangles every soul it touches.
The spirit of legalism would kill Christ Himself yet meticulously adhere to man-made laws. The rules of law are more important than the heart of Christ in the mind of someone bound up by legalism. They are much more concerned about whether someone is breaking the rules than whether God is actually working in that rulebreaker’s soul.
These men, the ones who were trying to kill Christ, thought they were doing the right thing. In their eyes, Jesus was the bad guy. He broke their laws. Their legalism blinded them to Jesus’ miracles and His message.
Jesus told Pilate, “For this purpose I have been born, and for this I have come into the world: to testify to the truth. Everyone who is of the truth listens to my voice.” (v.18) The legalistic religious leaders could not listen to Jesus’ voice because they were not “of the truth.” The spirit of legalism is not “of the truth” because it believes that salvation is in following the rules rather than in Jesus. Deep down the spirit of legalism is just that old familiar demon of pride masquerading as goodness, trying to save itself…
When Pilate asked Jesus, “‘What is truth?'” (v.38) he had no idea that he was looking at the truth, the only truth… Jesus Christ.
1 Samuel 24-25
The contrast between David and King Saul couldn’t be more striking. Saul followed his emotions. He was filled with jealousy and rage. When David showed Saul that he had the opportunity to kill Saul, but had spared his life, Saul was shocked. He wept, thanked David profusely, and immediately halted his pursuit. But we’ll soon see that Saul, the emotional thinker, was soon overtaken again with envy and back on the warpath.
Emotions are not rational or reliable. They lead people to make rash, foolish choices.
David was the opposite. He followed God’s direction rather than his own feelings. He refrained when his men urged him to kill Saul. David showed restraint and mercy to Saul even though he could have easily justified killing him as self defense.
In 1 Samuel 25, David’s initial response to Nadab’s insults was anger. He set out to kill Nadab. But David listened to Abigail’s plea and put aside his anger. He told Abigail, “Blessed be the LORD God of Israel, who sent you this day to meet me, and blessed be your discernment, and blessed be you , who have kept me this day from bloodshed and from avenging myself by my own hand.” (v.25:32-33)
Even when David was overcome with emotion, he still was able to stop and listen to the voice of reason.
The story of Saul and David gives us the perfect example of foolishness vs. wisdom. May we also choose wisdom as David did!