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toddler playing in a flower garden April 25 Chronological Bible Study

Timeline. Map. Go to today’s Bible reading (NIV) or alternate versions (use your browser arrow to return): 1Samuel 31; 1Chronicles 10; 2Samuel 4:4; 2Samuel 1

Tending Your Spiritual Garden

In North America it is time for gardening. What are our favorite things to plant—flowers, potatoes, onions, tomatoes, peppers, or something else? After we carefully plant them, should we just leave them alone until it is time for harvest? What happens if we do not clear all the weeds? The plants do not produce well, and sometimes the life is choked out of them. The same is true in our spiritual lives; spiritual seeds may be planted, but if our spiritual life is not tended, what is planted will bear little or no fruit. Jesus said in a parable, “The seed that fell among thorns stands for those who hear [God's message], but as they go on their way they are choked by life's worries, riches and pleasures, and they do not mature” (Luke 8:14, NIV). Is the spiritual garden of our heart regularly cared for, or is it choked so it does not mature?

King Saul did not tend the garden of his spiritual life. He started out well—he was humble and even reticent to take the leadership of the nation. When he was appointed king, Saul was led by the Spirit of God to give Israel early victories over her enemies. Afterwards, he gave glory to God for them and resisted petty revenge. That was the seed. Unfortunately, pride, power, and position choked out the spiritual fruit of his life. Then, he could not grow in spiritual maturity or lead Israel as God desired. Because of his pride and disobedience, the LORD instructed Samuel to anoint David, a shepherd boy to replace him. David was a young man after God's own heart. One of King Saul’s sins was not completely wiping out the Amalekites. He wanted the praise of his men and wealth more than obeying the LORD. Ironically, it may have been an Amalekite who finished him off when he was dying (unless the man was just boasting to obtain David's favor, 2Samuel 1:6-10).

Contrasted with Saul's disobedience is David's obedience. The seed of David's spiritual life also started with humble beginnings—he was a shepherd boy. Now, as a man David seeks the help of the LORD his God. God is his refuge and strength. He grows in spiritual maturity because he keeps the weeds of pride, power and position out of his life, and he nurtures his relationship with the LORD, the giver of life and blessings. God protects David in the wilderness from the murderous attempts of jealous King Saul. Although pursued by him, David respects the LORD’s choice of Saul as his anointed and does not kill him, even though he has two opportunities to do it. He does not take revenge himself—he let's God handle it.

David is also God's anointed. The Almighty blesses his military exploits and surrounds him with brave fighting men. He even protects this young warrior from an unwise alliance with the Philistines, which would have caused him to fight against his own people.

As we learned in yesterday's Bible reading, when David returns to Ziklag with his men, they discover the Amalekites have taken the advantage of their absence; they raided and burned the town while the Philistines and Israelites were engaged in battle. They carried away plunder and took their families captive. Saul failed to completely wipe out the Amalekites, but David and his men now take revenge on them to rescue their families. God blesses his band of men, and they are able to recover everyone and everything and to plunder those who plundered them. They defeat the Amalekites with a great slaughter.

David’s spiritual maturity is again manifested when he receives word of the death of Saul and his sons on the battlefield. He does not rejoice in the death of his enemy. David mourns the loss of the LORD's anointed one, composes a song in tribute to King Saul and Jonathan (2Samuel 1:19-27), and orders the men of Judah to be taught this lament.

How do we react when God's spiritual leaders fall? Do we rejoice and seize opportunities for ourselves, or do we mourn? David was a humble man. He never forgot his roots. He never sought to dethrone Saul or his sons. David realized that God was fully capable of bringing his kingdom into fruition when it was time; the LORD did not need David's help.

What weeds do we need to clear from our spiritual gardens? Are we eager to do what is good and tend our gardens, or do we let the weeds of pride, position, or pleasure choke out any spiritual growth? Let's be good gardeners so the LORD will make us fruitful in what we do. Let's make sure we reap good things from the things we sow.

Lessons to Live By

  • Spiritual seeds may be planted, but if our spiritual life is not tended, what is planted will bear little or no fruit. Is the spiritual garden of our heart well-tended, or is it choked by worries, riches and pleasures?
  • Like David, let’s weed out the sins of pride, power, and position from our spiritual gardens. Let's nurture our relationship with God so he will bless us. He is the giver life and blessings (more...).

Focus Verses

Galatians 6:7-8 (NIV)

Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows. The one who sows to please his sinful nature, from that nature will reap destruction; the one who sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life.

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A Look Ahead: With the death of King Saul comes a power struggle for his kingdom. Find out how to Defuse Power Struggles in our Next Lesson.

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