Posts Tagged ‘national elections’

King Solomon’s wisdom made him world renown, but unfortunately, his son and successor Rehoboam did not inherit his father’s gift.

Words:  1 Kings 12:1-20 (abridged)(NLT)              

Rehoboam went to Shechem, where all Israel had gathered to make him king. The leaders of Israel summoned him, and Jeroboam and the whole assembly of Israel went to speak with Rehoboam. “Your father was a hard master,” they said. “Lighten the harsh labor demands and heavy taxes that your father imposed on us. Then we will be your loyal subjects.”

Rehoboam replied, “Give me three days to think this over. Then come back for my answer.” So the people went away.

Then King Rehoboam discussed the matter with the older men who had counseled his father, Solomon. “What is your advice?” he asked. “How should I answer these people?”

The older counselors replied, “If you are willing to be a servant to these people today and give them a favorable answer, they will always be your loyal subjects.”

But Rehoboam rejected the advice of the older men and instead asked the opinion of the young men who had grown up with him and were now his advisers. “What is your advice?” he asked them. “How should I answer these people who want me to lighten the burdens imposed by my father?”

10 The young men replied, “This is what you should tell those complainers who want a lighter burden: ‘My little finger is thicker than my father’s waist! 11 Yes, my father laid heavy burdens on you, but I’m going to make them even heavier! My father beat you with whips, but I will beat you with scorpions!’”

12 Three days later Jeroboam and all the people returned to hear Rehoboam’s decision, just as the king had ordered. 13 But Rehoboam spoke harshly to the people, for he rejected the advice of the older counselors 14 and followed the counsel of his younger advisers. He told the people, “My father laid heavy burdens on you, but I’m going to make them even heavier! My father beat you with whips, but I will beat you with scorpions!”

15 So the king paid no attention to the people. This turn of events was the will of the Lord, for it fulfilled the Lord’s message to Jeroboam . . . .


To whom do those who want to lead the nation listen?  All leaders have those who want to influence them, to guide their decisions. These people are sometimes more influential than the leaders themselves because they work behind the scenes and often do not really have to answer to the public.  Knowing who these people are may make a difference in whom you want to choose as a national leader.

While it would be easy to say—and this text probably implies that it was so—that the big mistake was listening to the young advisors instead of the older ones, I really believe the bigger mistake that Rehoboam made is that he “paid no attention to the people.”  Disrespect is a tell-tale sign of a broken relationship. Paying no attention to the people and speaking “harshly” to them betrayed this new young ruler’s distant, self-serving heart. He paid for his disrespect by losing most of what he was trying to grab.

Lookout for the potential leader who disrespects the people and speaks harshly.

Prayer:  O Lord, it is hard for us to know who has the ear of our leaders.  So much is done in secret and hidden behind smokescreens. Be our protector. Give us leaders, Sovereign Lord, who respect the will of your people and who speak the truth, but speak kindly to us.  AMEN

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Word: 1 Kings 11:1-13 (NLT)

Now King Solomon loved many foreign women. Besides Pharaoh’s daughter, he married women from Moab, Ammon, Edom, Sidon, and from among the Hittites. The Lord had clearly instructed the people of Israel, “You must not marry them, because they will turn your hearts to their gods.” Yet Solomon insisted on loving them anyway. He had 700 wives of royal birth and 300 concubines. And in fact, they did turn his heart away from the Lord.

In Solomon’s old age, they turned his heart to worship other gods instead of being completely faithful to the Lord his God, as his father, David, had been. Solomon worshiped Ashtoreth, the goddess of the Sidonians, and Molech, the detestable god of the Ammonites. In this way, Solomon did what was evil in the Lord’s sight; he refused to follow the Lord completely, as his father, David, had done.

On the Mount of Olives, east of Jerusalem, he even built a pagan shrine for Chemosh, the detestable god of Moab, and another for Molech, the detestable god of the Ammonites. Solomon built such shrines for all his foreign wives to use for burning incense and sacrificing to their gods.

The Lord was very angry with Solomon, for his heart had turned away from the Lord, the God of Israel, who had appeared to him twice. 10 He had warned Solomon specifically about worshiping other gods, but Solomon did not listen to the Lord’s command. 11 So now the Lord said to him, “Since you have not kept my covenant and have disobeyed my decrees, I will surely tear the kingdom away from you and give it to one of your servants. 12 But for the sake of your father, David, I will not do this while you are still alive. I will take the kingdom away from your son. 13 And even so, I will not take away the entire kingdom; I will let him be king of one tribe, for the sake of my servant David and for the sake of Jerusalem, my chosen city.”


Solomon, the wisest man who ever lived, lost his way when he lost his heart to women he should not have loved. Ancient rulers often married daughters of foreign kings in order to seal alliances and ensure peaceful coexistence. In spite of God’s extraordinary blessings that he had enjoyed his entire life, when he was old, these wives “turned his heart.”

The marital status and relationships of our national leaders are important!  They may tell us about constancy and faithfulness, about where the heart of that leader is!  And it would be a mistake not to believe that the spouse or the family of a leader does not have significant influence on the most important actions of that leader.

Solomon’s son Rehoboam would suffer the consequences of his father’s unfaithfulness. The people of the nation also suffered because Solomon “did not listen to the Lord’s command.” Our nation will suffer as well if our leaders have chosen significant relationships that would move their hearts toward “other gods,” whether that be power, wealth, influence—or other gods!

Prayer:  Father, we want to choose national leaders whose hearts are turned toward you. Help us to know the truth about their spouses, so that we might have insight into how they choose those who will influence them the most. If they have children, show us the values they have used to mold the people they love the most.  Give us leaders, Father, whose old age confirms their abiding faith in you and their love for obeying your will, not their own sense of entitlement.  Amen

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Day 16

Words:  Jeremiah 17:5-10 (NLT)

This is what the Lord says:
“Cursed are those who put their trust in mere humans,
    who rely on human strength
    and turn their hearts away from the Lord.
They are like stunted shrubs in the desert,
    with no hope for the future.
They will live in the barren wilderness,
    in an uninhabited salty land.

“But blessed are those who trust in the Lord
    and have made the Lord their hope and confidence.
They are like trees planted along a riverbank,
    with roots that reach deep into the water.
Such trees are not bothered by the heat
    or worried by long months of drought.
Their leaves stay green,
    and they never stop producing fruit.

“The human heart is the most deceitful of all things,
    and desperately wicked.
    Who really knows how bad it is?
10 But I, the Lord, search all hearts
    and examine secret motives.
I give all people their due rewards,
    according to what their actions deserve.”



The ancient world was always looking for a way to know what was going to happen next. The limited knowledge of what we call science left them looking at bird entrails, animal bones, stars, and many other kinds of “signs.” Their world was full of sorcerers, seers, prophets, astrologers—often called “wise men.” When the young King Solomon asked God for wisdom above all else, he was not asking to become a “wise man” in this sense; he was asking God to help him know the difference between right and wrong, to know what was true and what was false.

In this text, Jeremiah says that those who trust in human wisdom or strength are like stunted shrubs in the desert, while those who trust in God, who look to him for knowing what the future holds, who find their confidence in Him, these people have deep roots and productive lives.

National leaders and those who would be leaders often say they can see, that they know the future, that they are “wise.” They ask for your trust and confidence.  In making critical choices, the human heart can be very deceitful. Especially in these times, we should search out leaders who trust in the Lord and not in their own wisdom, their own insights.  These are times for prayerful requests to the Sovereign Lord for wisdom to know what is true and false, right and wrong.

PRAYER:  Father, because of our frailty, we want to know what lies in front of us. We often follow people who tell us they are wise.  Our hearts are deceitful, so we pray for discernment, Father, to know who really knows right from wrong, truth from falsehood. We pray for leaders who trust in you, Lord.  Amen.


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This passage is very long, so I have abridged it for this reading, but I recommend you read the whole chapter for the full image.

Word:  Ezekiel 27 (abridged) (NLT)

27 Then this message came to me from the Lord: “Son of man, sing a funeral song for Tyre, that mighty gateway to the sea, the trading center of the world. Give Tyre this message from the Sovereign Lord:

“You boasted, O Tyre,
    ‘My beauty is perfect!’
You extended your boundaries into the sea.
    Your builders made your beauty perfect.
You were like a great ship
    built of the finest cypress from Senir.
They took a cedar from Lebanon
    to make a mast for you.
They carved your oars
    from the oaks of Bashan.
Your deck of pine from the coasts of Cyprus
    was inlaid with ivory.
Your sails were made of Egypt’s finest linen,
    and they flew as a banner above you.
You stood beneath blue and purple awnings
    made bright with dyes from the coasts of Elishah.
Your oarsmen came from Sidon and Arvad;
    your helmsmen were skilled men from Tyre itself.
Wise old craftsmen from Gebal did the caulking.
    Ships from every land came with goods to barter for your trade.

10 “Men from distant Persia, Lydia, and Libya served in your great army. They hung their shields and helmets on your walls, giving you great honor. 12 “Tarshish sent merchants to buy your wares in exchange for silver, iron, tin, and lead. 13 Merchants from Greece, Tubal, and Meshech brought slaves and articles of bronze to trade with you. . . .16 “Syria sent merchants to buy your rich variety of goods. They traded turquoise, purple dyes, embroidery, fine linen, and jewelry of coral and rubies. 17 Judah and Israel traded for your wares, offering wheat from Minnith, figs, honey, olive oil, and balm.

18 “Damascus sent merchants to buy your rich variety of goods . . . . 21 The Arabians and the princes of Kedar sent merchants to trade lambs and rams and male goats in exchange for your goods. . . .25 The ships of Tarshish were your ocean caravans. Your island warehouse was filled to the brim!

26 “But look! Your oarsmen
    have taken you into stormy seas!
A mighty eastern gale
    has wrecked you in the heart of the sea!
27 Everything is lost—
    your riches and wares,
your sailors and pilots,
    your ship builders, merchants, and warriors.
On the day of your ruin,
    everyone on board sinks into the depths of the sea.
28 Your cities by the sea tremble
    as your pilots cry out in terror.
29 All the oarsmen abandon their ships;
    the sailors and pilots stand on the shore.
30 They cry aloud over you
    and weep bitterly.
They throw dust on their heads
    and roll in ashes.
31 They shave their heads in grief for you
    and dress themselves in burlap.
They weep for you with bitter anguish
    and deep mourning.
32 As they wail and mourn over you,
    they sing this sad funeral song:
‘Was there ever such a city as Tyre,
    now silent at the bottom of the sea?
33 The merchandise you traded
    satisfied the desires of many nations.
Kings at the ends of the earth
    were enriched by your trade.
34 Now you are a wrecked ship,
    broken at the bottom of the sea.
All your merchandise and crew
    have gone down with you.

Have you heard the expression “the ship of state?”  It’s a pretty metaphor made famous by Plato to describe the governing body of a nation.  Tyre was a port city whose history went back a thousand years before Abram. Tyre traded with the world and had great wealth.

But during the time of Ezekiel, Tyre had suffered in wars with first the Egyptians, then the Assyrians, and now (about 573 BC) with the Chaldeans. It would continue to exist by paying tribute to its conquerors until 332 BC when Alexander the Great laid siege to it, conquered it, then razed it, literally tossing the stones of Tyre into the sea.

Tyre was a successful business. It used its wealth to secure its borders, then later to buy its freedom. Finally though, in spite of its amazing history, in spite of its citizens’ extreme patriotism, in spite of what its loss meant to its trading partners, the ship of state was destroyed because its “oarsmen have taken you into stormy seas.”

It’s important to know that neither warriors nor wealth, neither patriotism nor global status, that nothing is enough to keep the ship of state afloat when those who row take it in the wrong direction. No ship of state is too valuable to fail! And when a nation sinks into history, it leaves all its wealth and business acumen, its military prowess and political clout behind—all of it 

Prayer: Father, You are King of all Nations. The life of every nation is in your hands, just as the life of every person. You give and you take away. Give us perspective, Father, and teach us that no kingdom is eternal except your kingdom!  Amen.

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King David served his nation well until the day he died. Before his death, David designated his son Solomon to take the throne. In this text, Solomon faces the choice of what he needs most as he assumes power and authority.

Word:  1 Kings 3:5-14 (NLT)

That night the Lord appeared to Solomon in a dream, and God said, “What do you want? Ask, and I will give it to you!”

Solomon replied, “You showed great and faithful love to your servant my father, David, because he was honest and true and faithful to you. And you have continued to show this great and faithful love to him today by giving him a son to sit on his throne.

“Now, O Lord my God, you have made me king instead of my father, David, but I am like a little child who doesn’t know his way around. And here I am in the midst of your own chosen people, a nation so great and numerous they cannot be counted! Give me an understanding heart so that I can govern your people well and know the difference between right and wrong. For who by himself is able to govern this great people of yours?”

10 The Lord was pleased that Solomon had asked for wisdom. 11 So God replied, “Because you have asked for wisdom in governing my people with justice and have not asked for a long life or wealth or the death of your enemies— 12 I will give you what you asked for! I will give you a wise and understanding heart such as no one else has had or ever will have! 13 And I will also give you what you did not ask for—riches and fame! No other king in all the world will be compared to you for the rest of your life! 14 And if you follow me and obey my decrees and my commands as your father, David, did, I will give you a long life.”


Some leaders were older when chosen—like Moses and Joshua. We expect older people to have more experience, more information, bigger networks, and more confidence. But God often called younger people to be leaders, people like Queen Esther, Daniel, Josiah, and Solomon.  Perhaps a person’s age is one of those external factors like height that people tend to use as something upon which to base their leadership choices, while God is still more concerned about a person’s heart.

How many fairy tales hinge on the fairy godmother or the genii giving someone three wishes! As children we would always try to figure out how to turn three wishes into an infinite number of wishes by wishing that all our wishes would come true.  Most of those fairy tales end with a disastrous moral lesson to be careful for what one wishes.

This story of young Solomon is quite different. He has already inherited the throne. He has the wealth of his father as well as power over a consolidated nation.  He has absolute authority. For what could he ask God that he did not already have?  More wealth, more power, more fame?

Instead Solomon asked for an understanding heart, so that he could know the difference between right and wrong to govern the nation fairly—with justice.

Solomon was already wise!  He recognized that God had honored his father’s faithfulness, and that even his own existence was by the grace and mercy of God.  He certainly knew the story of his father David’s adultery and murder, but also of his penance and punishment when confronted with his sin. He could have been that child who died as a result of David’s sin—but he wasn’t.

Solomon was many things at the commencement of his reign, but he was not arrogant or conceited; rather, he recognized that God had placed him on the throne to judge between right and wrong—and for that he needed a greater portion of wisdom as do all national leaders.

Seek leaders, young or old, who know that their task is to judge right from wrong and who seek greater wisdom in order accomplish this task—and who seek it from God.


Prayer:  We have leaders who seek power. We have leaders who ask for authority. People want to be leaders who are arrogant and conceited, thinking they are wise—wiser than everyone, even You! Protect our nation from these kinds of leaders. Give us leaders who have understanding hearts, who want to know the difference between right and wrong, and who know they can only govern if you have given them wisdom.  Amen.

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Word:   Psalm 101 (NLT)

A psalm of David.

I will sing of your love and justice, Lord.
    I will praise you with songs.
I will be careful to live a blameless life—
    when will you come to help me?
I will lead a life of integrity
    in my own home.
I will refuse to look at
    anything vile and vulgar.
I hate all who deal crookedly;
    I will have nothing to do with them.
I will reject perverse ideas
    and stay away from every evil.
I will not tolerate people who slander their neighbors.
    I will not endure conceit and pride.

I will search for faithful people
    to be my companions.
Only those who are above reproach
    will be allowed to serve me.
I will not allow deceivers to serve in my house,
    and liars will not stay in my presence.
My daily task will be to ferret out the wicked
    and free the city of the Lord from their grip.


David was chosen to be the leader of his nation because of his heart, not his experience, not his policies, not his looks.  Because judging a person’s heart is so very difficult, we need some hints, some clues as to what God really looks for in the heart of a national leader.

These are words from the heart of the man after God’s own heart (1 Samuel 13:14). If a nation could find such a leader, look what would disappear from government: crooks, perversions, slander, conceit and pride, even deceit and lies would disappear because this person after God’s own heart would see his/her daily task as freeing the city from the grip of the wicked.

Prayer: Before I blame others and accuse them of having flawed hearts, I pray that you will heal my heart of the damage my own will has done to it. Forgive me for not filling my heart with your words to protect my soul and to keep from damaging those around me.  Then forgiven, I pray for the nation and those who would lead us. Show us people whose daily task will be to free our cities from wickedness.  Show us people whose hearts are yours!  Amen.

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Words:   1 Samuel 16:1-13 (NLT)

16 Now the Lord said to Samuel, “You have mourned long enough for Saul. I have rejected him as king of Israel, so fill your flask with olive oil and go to Bethlehem. Find a man named Jesse who lives there, for I have selected one of his sons to be my king.”

But Samuel asked, “How can I do that? If Saul hears about it, he will kill me.”

“Take a heifer with you,” the Lord replied, “and say that you have come to make a sacrifice to the Lord. Invite Jesse to the sacrifice, and I will show you which of his sons to anoint for me.”

So Samuel did as the Lord instructed. When he arrived at Bethlehem, the elders of the town came trembling to meet him. “What’s wrong?” they asked. “Do you come in peace?”

“Yes,” Samuel replied. “I have come to sacrifice to the Lord. Purify yourselves and come with me to the sacrifice.” Then Samuel performed the purification rite for Jesse and his sons and invited them to the sacrifice, too.

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 Jesse told his son Abinadab to step forward and walk in front of Samuel. But Samuel said, “This is not the one the Lord has chosen.”Next Jesse summoned Shimea,[a] but Samuel said, “Neither is this the one the Lord has chosen.” 10 In the same way all seven of Jesse’s sons were presented to Samuel. But Samuel said to Jesse, “The Lord has not chosen any of these.” 11 Then Samuel asked, “Are these all the sons you have?”

“There is still the youngest,” Jesse replied. “But he’s out in the fields watching the sheep and goats.”

“Send for him at once,” Samuel said. “We will not sit down to eat until he arrives.”

12 So Jesse sent for him. He was dark and handsome, with beautiful eyes.

And the Lord said, “This is the one; anoint him.”

13 So as David stood there among his brothers, Samuel took the flask of olive oil he had brought and anointed David with the oil. And the Spirit of the Lord came powerfully upon David from that day on.


After rejecting him as King, God gave the nation exactly the kind of man that they wanted–an impressive man named Saul.  He was the son of a wealthy, influential family, and he was what we would call today “presidential!”  He was head and shoulders taller than anyone else and handsome! Did you know that in American presidential elections, the vast majority of elected presidents have been markedly taller than the average male of their same birth year.  Scholars who study such facts speculate that it has to do with the appearance of health and dominance.  Saul turned out to be a terrible king.

Even God’s prophet Samuel needed to be reminded that a “presidential look” has nothing to do with what God sees in a person. “The Lord looks at the heart.”

Our ubiquitous media make it almost impossible to avoid judging candidates by their appearances: their hair, their ties—or no ties–, their ears, their weight, and certainly their height.  Many believe that Richard Nixon lost to John F. Kennedy in the 1960 election because of how he looked in the first televised presidential debate.

But it is hard to look at a person’s heart! These proverbs may teach us what it means to look at a person’s heart more as God does:

Proverbs 3:1       –   Store my [God’s] commands in your heart.

Proverbs 3:5       –  Trust in the Lord with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding.

Proverbs 11:20  –  The Lord detests people with crooked hearts, but he delights in those with integrity.

Proverbs 15:7  –    The lips of the wise give good advice; the heart of a fool has none to give.


And, finally, Jesus said,

Luke 6:45   –         A good person produces good things from the treasury of a good heart, and an evil person produces evil things from the treasury of an evil heart. What you say flows from what is in your heart.

Luke 12:34 –       Wherever your treasure is, there the desires of your heart will also be.

Matthew 15:18,19 –    But the words you speak come from the heart—that’s what defiles you. For from the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, all sexual immorality, theft, lying, and slander.


Prayer: Give us your eyes, Father, so that we might see the hearts of those who desire to lead us. Deliver us from outward appearances and false impressions, but show us what is true, so that we can choose as you would choose.  Amen.

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Word:  1 Samuel 8:10-22 (NLT)

10 So Samuel passed on the Lord’s warning to the people who were asking him for a king. 11 “This is how a king will reign over you,” Samuel said. “The king will draft your sons and assign them to his chariots and his charioteers, making them run before his chariots. 12 Some will be generals and captains in his army, some will be forced to plow in his fields and harvest his crops, and some will make his weapons and chariot equipment. 13 The king will take your daughters from you and force them to cook and bake and make perfumes for him. 14 He will take away the best of your fields and vineyards and olive groves and give them to his own officials. 15 He will take a tenth of your grain and your grape harvest and distribute it among his officers and attendants. 16 He will take your male and female slaves and demand the finest of your cattle and donkeys for his own use. 17 He will demand a tenth of your flocks, and you will be his slaves. 18 When that day comes, you will beg for relief from this king you are demanding, but then the Lord will not help you.”

19 But the people refused to listen to Samuel’s warning. “Even so, we still want a king,” they said. 20 “We want to be like the nations around us. Our king will judge us and lead us into battle.”

21 So Samuel repeated to the Lord what the people had said, 22 and the Lord replied, “Do as they say, and give them a king.” Then Samuel agreed and sent the people home.

Who will be the better leader of the nation God or anyone else?  The question begs the answer, but if the answer is so obvious, why then did this nation and why do people still choose someone else?  If Samuel were addressing a modern audience, he would warn them that godless leaders will draft your sons and daughters into armies that fight unjust wars and come home with damaged souls. He would warn you that godless governors will tax you to support the government, tax you to support the leaders, tax you to pay for weapons of destruction, tax you until you beg for relief—but there is none. Power corrupts, so don’t be surprised at corruption of morals or of God-given values. Power corrupts, and the people beg for relief, but there is none.

”Even so, we still want a king,” they said.”  We want to be like other nations. We want justice, we want victory, and we want to be Number One! And we don’t need God to do that. We aren’t talking about church; we are talking about a country! We just need the right Leader–a king!

And so we have them—as well as everything that God warned us would accompany a king.  And we can’t imagine any alternative.

What would it look like if God were King of our nation?


Prayer:  Forgive us, Sovereign Lord, for not even knowing what a country under your rule would look like because we have had other leaders for so long.  Forgive us, Lord, for ignoring your warnings about a king and just choosing whoever we wanted.  We do not beg for relief from the corruption and burdens of our own rebellion, but we do beg for mercy and forgiveness, Father, and a chance to crown you King of our nation.

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Day Eight

Word:  Psalm 27 (NLT)

The Lord is my light and my salvation—
    so why should I be afraid?
The Lord is my fortress, protecting me from danger,
    so why should I tremble?
When evil people come to devour me,
    when my enemies and foes attack me,
    they will stumble and fall.
Though a mighty army surrounds me,
    my heart will not be afraid.
Even if I am attacked,
    I will remain confident.

The one thing I ask of the Lord
    the thing I seek most—
is to live in the house of the Lord all the days of my life,
    delighting in the Lord’s perfections
    and meditating in his Temple.
For he will conceal me there when troubles come;
    he will hide me in his sanctuary.
    He will place me out of reach on a high rock.
Then I will hold my head high
    above my enemies who surround me.
At his sanctuary I will offer sacrifices with shouts of joy,
    singing and praising the Lord with music.

Hear me as I pray, O Lord.
    Be merciful and answer me!
My heart has heard you say, “Come and talk with me.”
    And my heart responds, “Lord, I am coming.”
Do not turn your back on me.
    Do not reject your servant in anger.
    You have always been my helper.
Don’t leave me now; don’t abandon me,
    O God of my salvation!
10 Even if my father and mother abandon me,
    the Lord will hold me close.

11 Teach me how to live, O Lord.
    Lead me along the right path,
    for my enemies are waiting for me.
12 Do not let me fall into their hands.
    For they accuse me of things I’ve never done;
    with every breath they threaten me with violence.
13 Yet I am confident I will see the Lord’s goodness
    while I am here in the land of the living.

14 Wait patiently for the Lord.
    Be brave and courageous.
    Yes, wait patiently for the Lord.


David, the poet of these words, is better known for the pastoral Psalm 23, a song of shepherds, green pastures, and still waters. His was, however, a violent life! He faced mortal danger even as a shepherd when attacked by lions and bears, not to forget his battle with the giant Goliath who promised to feed his flesh to the birds and wild animals (1 Samuel 17). David’s success in battle made him an enemy of the reigning king, who hunted him relentlessly for years. David hid in caves, faked insanity, and lived in exile in order to survive.

Even after becoming king, it took seven years to secure his throne, only to have it seriously threatened later by his own son Absalom.  So bloody were David’s hands that the God he served denied him his deep desire to build the first permanent temple in his honor (1 Chronicles 17:4; 1 Kings 5:3).

Psalm 27 are the words of a national leader who is always under attack from “evil people,” “enemies,” even “mighty armies.” Where does the Commander-in-Chief, the King, turn when he is afraid, when he trembles, when those closest to him abandon or betray him?

King David said he finds sanctuary in the house of the Lord, his fortress! Not only does he find security there, he also finds counsel and instruction:

                My heart has heard you say, “Come and talk with me.” And my heart responds, “Lord, I am coming.” . . . . Teach me how to live, O Lord.  Lead me along the right path . . . .”

Great leaders seek counsel and instruction, finding their confidence and security not in themselves and their own power, but in the only real Power and Authority.  And they have enough confidence to wait . . . bravely and courageously, but they can wait.


PrayerTeach us, Father, not to be afraid of attack or the enemy, but to find our national confidence and security in you.  And when we do not know what to do or who to trust, when our national bravery and courage are tested, give us leaders who will wait patiently, not passively, but actively wait on You.  Amen

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The first national leader of ancient Israel Moses shepherded the emerging nation on a forty-year journey, but Moses’s most trusted assistant Joshua was destined to lead the people to their final destination. In these passages, notice the actions and attitude of a great leader when the time to transition to his successor comes. Also take note of his last message to the new leader.

WORD:  Deuteronomy 3: 21-28; 31:1-8; Joshua 1:1-9 (Abridged) (NLT)

 At that time I [Moses] gave Joshua this charge: ‘You have seen for yourself everything the Lord your God has done to these two kings. He will do the same to all the kingdoms on the west side of the Jordan. 22 Do not be afraid of the nations there, for the Lord your God will fight for you.’

23 “At that time I [Moses] pleaded with the Lord and said, 24 ‘O Sovereign Lord, you have only begun to show your greatness and the strength of your hand to me, your servant. Is there any god in heaven or on earth who can perform such great and mighty deeds as you do? 25 Please let me cross the Jordan to see the wonderful land on the other side, the beautiful hill country and the Lebanon mountains.’

26 “ . . . . ‘That’s enough!’ he declared. ‘Speak of it no more. 27 But go up to Pisgah Peak, and look over the land in every direction. Take a good look, but you may not cross the Jordan River. 28 Instead, commission Joshua and encourage and strengthen him, for he will lead the people across the Jordan. He will give them all the land you now see before you as their possession.’

31 When Moses had finished giving these instructions to all the people of Israel, he said, “I am now 120 years old, and I am no longer able to lead you. The Lord has told me, ‘You will not cross the Jordan River.’ But the Lord your God himself will cross over ahead of you. . . . Joshua will lead you across the river, just as the Lord promised.

Then Moses called for Joshua, and as all Israel watched, he said to him, “Be strong and courageous! For you will lead these people into the land that the Lord swore to their ancestors he would give them. You are the one who will divide it among them as their grants of land. Do not be afraid or discouraged, for the Lord will personally go ahead of you. He will be with you; he will neither fail you nor abandon you.”

Joshua 1 After the death of Moses the Lord’s servant, the Lord spoke to Joshua son of Nun, Moses’ assistant. He said, “Moses my servant is dead. Therefore, the time has come for you to lead these people . . . .No one will be able to stand against you as long as you live. For I will be with you as I was with Moses. I will not fail you or abandon you.

“Be strong and courageous, for you are the one who will lead these people to possess all the land I swore to their ancestors I would give them. Be strong and very courageous. Be careful to obey all the instructions Moses gave you. Do not deviate from them, turning either to the right or to the left. Then you will be successful in everything you do.Study this Book of Instruction continually. Meditate on it day and night so you will be sure to obey everything written in it. Only then will you prosper and succeed in all you do. This is my command—be strong and courageous! Do not be afraid or discouraged. For the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.”

Moses had been the sole leader of ancient Israel for forty years. In the name of God, he had challenged the ruler of Egypt and won freedom for his people. He had delivered to this new nation their new law, written by the finger of God. He had listened to their complaints and suffered merciless personal attack for years. After all of this, he, however, could not achieve the primary goal for the nation, that is, returning to, reclaiming, and resettling the land their forefathers had left four hundred years earlier.  Moses had to relinquish his position and authority just at the moment when the goal was in sight, a moment that tests the true character of all national leaders.

Rather than grasping power, Moses graciously prepares his people for transition, appoints his successor early, then prepares both the people and Joshua for his absence.

To both the people and Joshua, he gave the Book of Instructions, which we recognize as Deuteronomy, and to both over and over again, he says, “Be strong and courageous! Do not be afraid or discouraged.” He reminded Joshua that his success depended on his submission, not his use of power.

Joshua became a great leader of ancient Israel because he never forgot Moses’ words, “the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.” He was never alone at the top. The buck did not stop on his desk.

Prayer:  Sovereign Lord, bless our nation with rulers who are strong and courageous, who will not be afraid or discouraged because they believe that You are their Leader. Teach us to depend on you and to submit to your instruction all the days of our lives, and when the day of transition comes, help us not to be afraid. Amen


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