Choosing How Your Story Ends

Today’s read (1 Samuel 16-18) includes a story that all children love – David and Goliath. God has let Samuel grieve long enough over the poor choices Saul made. He tells him it’s time to move on, to fill up his horn with anointing oil because God plans to raise up another man as king.

Samuel obeys, and after a process of elimination, Jesse’s youngest son, David, is anointed to be the next king. From that moment on, the Spirit of the Lord came mightily upon David (1 Samuel 16:13). It would be several decades before David takes Saul’s place on the throne, during which time Saul would grow to first love David, then be jealous of him, and then hate him.

The battle with Goliath was not the first time Saul encountered David. Before this happened, David served Saul not as a soldier, but as a musician. God had not only removed His Spirit from Saul but had sent an evil spirit to torment him (revealing that God has authority over ALL spirits, good and evil). One of Saul’s servants recommends a harpist be employed to soothe Saul’s mind and thoughts when he is tormented, and it just so happens that David is that person. We know what kind of music David composed by reading the Psalms. His presence brought the presence of the Holy Spirit into Saul’s house, chasing away those depressed, angry, and anxious thoughts, at least for a time.

As we read further, we will watch Saul grow more and more jealous of David as he gains popularity and success as a soldier. David becomes part of Saul’s family; he marries Saul’s daughter and is a beloved friend of Saul’s son, Jonathan.

Saul had two choices as he faced his own diminishing power as king. Each day he sat across from David at the family table reminded him that his foolish choices had caused God to take away the kingdom. He could learn from it, clearly seeing God’s hand on David, and even developing an affection for the young man in the early days of their acquaintance. Or he could grow into a bitter, depressed, angry, jealous, and yes, even mentally “mad” man, miserable in his old age.

Saul could have enjoyed God’s forgiveness and embraced David fully as God’s choice for the throne. Instead of spending his last days chasing his son-in-law through the wilderness and dying by his own sword, he could have been cared for by David, surrounded and loved by his grandchildren. David would have esteemed Saul as king until he passed away peacefully, leaving an honorable legacy.

How do you respond when God disciplines you, and you see others enjoying the blessings that you could have had? Do you thank God for preserving your life, make the most of the days you have, and try to pass on your hard-earned wisdom to others so that they don’t have to experience the pains of life that you did? Or do you grow jealous and resentful, doing everything you can to make others miserable too?

While God is sovereign over our lives, we get to choose much of how our story is written and remembered. We are going to make mistakes. We all fail, and we all do foolish and sinful things at times in our lives. But those mistakes don’t have to define us. Even when God has to discipline us and takes away from us what “could have been,” we get to choose how we respond. Choose wisely; it will make all the difference in the rest of your story.

Lamentations 3:19-23 – Remember my affliction and my wandering, the wormwood and bitterness. Surely my soul remembers and is bowed down within me. This I recall to mind, therefore I have hope. The Lord’s lovingkindnesses indeed never cease, for His compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.

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