Monday, February 7, 2011

Behaving Wisely: Thinking Before...

We saw in the last post how David started out with humble beginnings. His heart was never proud and we never saw him complain about anything that he was called to do. This humility of the heart is where we all need to start out first. A proud heart is a foolish heart and can never be open to developing wisdom from counsel. The bible clearly tells us this...

"Speak not in the ears of a fool: for he will despise the wisdom of thy words." (Proverbs 23:9)

We know a proud heart when we see one. This is the typical "Me-First-Coz-I-Know-It-All" personality. There's no sense in trying to talk to a proud person because they would tell you that they already know what you're talking about! Or worse, they'll make you feel that you were stupid enough to think you can tell them something when they happen to know it all already. When we decide to want to behave wisely, we ought to start with a humble heart. We ought to empty ourselves of the love and esteem of SELF and start opening up to the counsel of God's Word. 

Now, as we look at David's life, we can see that he was not stagnant on the task that was given to him by his family. Yes, he was asked to watch the sheep in the fields but he never ceased to become more than that! Even though David's day was spent mostly in the company of helpless sheep, he didn't allow this situation to limit his talents and potential. 

We read about an evil spirit that troubled Saul the moment the Lord departed from him. Interestingly though, music was used by God to help soothe him during troubling moments. In 1 Samuel 16, Saul heeded his servant's advise about getting someone to play the harp for him. So, he asked his servants to seek a man who is skillful with the harp. 

Then we read about the servant's answer to Saul...

"Behold, I have seen a son of Jesse the Bethlehemite, that is cunning in playing, and a mighty valiant man, and a man of war, and prudent in matters, and a comely person, and the LORD is with him." (1 Samuel 16:18)

It's amazing how David's character was well-known round about. The servant who recommended him didn't only say he was good with the harp, but added on to say he was valiant, prudent and comely. David was a mere shepherd during these times but notice that others see more in him than just a lowly sheep keeper. David started out with humble beginnings, alright, but he didn't sulk nor limit himself in that situation...
  • As a shepherd in ancient times, David mastered the art and skill of war because he needed to protect the flock as well as tend to them. He wasn't only considered courageous or valiant, but the servant who spoke of him to Saul stressed that he was a "mighty valiant man." Now, that's redundant if you'd ask me, but it gives us the picture of how David behaved in his circumstance. He was not afraid of anything that would come to destroy (or should we use steal and devour) the flock he's taking care of... David gave his entire strength to do what he should do as a lowly shepherd. He became a man of war! He didn't have a pity-party about his lowly task, nor was he sulking in a corner and pouting about the tough job he's called to do. He was able to fight when the going gets tough!

    • We should really reflect on this one. We all could learn to be mighty and valiant when the going gets tough. It's a fact that we will one day find ourselves in a humbling situation and it will become really tough on us. But we shouldn't sulk about it in a corner. We shouldn't have a pity-party for our self.  Like David, we should all learn to wage war against anything that comes to destroy... we should learn to be mighty in war against anything that will devour and steal that which was placed under our care. We should put our entire effort into doing what we are tasked to do at any given place, time and scenario.
  • Although David was considered a "man of war", the next adjective that described him was prudent. He knew how to wage war alright, but he knew how to choose his battles as well. As a prudent man, David didn't just deal with any situation as he see fit. His prudence would have him handle matters with good judgment and common sense! He was cautious in all his dealings, actions and decisions.
    • If only we could be described as such, too. We can really use being prudent in our daily living. We ought to have better judgment and more common sense when it comes to dealing with the things that life throw at us! We should fight our battles, alright, but we should also learn how to choose which battles to fight! We ought to be like David, cautious in all our dealings, actions and decisions. Simply put, it's thinking before reacting; thinking before speaking; thinking before doing; thinking before acting; thinking before leaping into something. Learn to use caution in just about anything that we're dealing with. Don't just easily throw it in the wind. We ought to learn how to have good judgment in every detail of our daily lives.
  • David was also described as a "comely" person. That basically means he has a pleasing, wholesome and becoming appearance. He may be a man of war, but that is not what you would see in his face. David wasn't grimacing or frowning or angry-faced all the time, even if he was a mighty and valiant man. He could have chosen to have a smirk on his face or a proud look just because he isn't afraid of anything! But no, David had a pleasantly attractive, appropriate and decent look about him. 
    • I would want to put it this way... David had a happy countenance about him even in his lowly circumstance as a shepherd. He never was frowning, never was cross, never was belittling with his look as a skillful man of war. David's heart was so humble that his might and power never surfaced on the outside. He wasn't domineering, nor was he bossy-looking. He was simply and pleasantly David himself. I'm so sure this changes a whole lot of things in our day if we do learn from David's ways of being a comely person. I bet it will make our workplace, our school, our church, our community, our home a more pleasant place to be in if we only have a pleasant appearance. Most often, we catch ourselves in a frown, with a pout or a smirk. If only we could make it into a bright, beautiful, pleasant smile for a change... How about trying it now? Smile? Smile... that's it... a little more cheer and Smile! :)
David started with a humble beginning as a lowly shepherd, but that didn't limit him to become skillful with the harp or mighty and able to fight. He possessed good judgment and common sense for surely he knows exactly just when, where and how to fight his battles. He didn't wallow in self-pity! Let's take this in and practice what David had, shall we?

Let's be reminded that behaving cautiously is behaving wisely.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Behaving Wisely: Humble Beginnings

We talked about learning how to behave wisely in this lifetime that we may be able to leave a godly legacy to our children. We will try to learn the important things of living and behaving wisely by looking at David's life.

The first verse in the bible that introduces us to David is found in 1 Samuel 16:11. Here we find the prophet Samuel who went to a certain man in Bethlehem, named Jesse, as he was commanded by the LORD. Samuel was told by God to go to Jesse in order for him to anoint God's provided king since He has now rejected Saul for his disobedience. 

Now we know the story that Jesse presented his sons before Samuel and one by one they came before the prophet but were not chosen. When all 7 sons had been presented to Samuel and none was chosen, Samuel asked if there was anyone else that wasn't there with them...

"And Samuel said unto Jesse, Are here all thy children? And he said, There remaineth yet the youngest, and, behold, he keepeth the sheep. And Samuel said unto Jesse, Send and fetch him: for we will not sit down till he come hither." (1 Samuel 16:11)

David wasn't with the rest of his family because he was in the fields tending the sheep. Notice that the Word of God made sure that we know exactly that David was keeping the sheep and not doing anything else! I really paused to ponder on this one because shepherding is not an easy task. As simple as it may seem to let sheep graze around on a certain field, the shepherd's task of overseeing them is not as easy as it may seem.

If shepherding in ancient times were as easy as it is today, we probably wouldn't want to consider David's ways. Compared to modern shepherding techniques, though, ancient shepherds watch over a flock of "high maintenance" sheep without the help of a fence! The shepherd must be skillful enough to keep the sheep together (literally!). Not to mention, these sheep are totally dependent on the shepherd for its protection, grazing, water, shelter and caring for any injuries. 

Ancient families who own at least a small flock of sheep use them as a source of milk, meat and especially wool. The sheep was an integral part of a family's life and it was important to have someone oversee their care. However, tending sheep was considered a lowly (although important) task to have in ancient times. Since full-time shepherding demands time to spend with the sheep in the field, the shepherd will usually be unable to participate in community religious activities, as in the case of David. Thus, the work of shepherding would usually fall on the youngest son of a large family.

Isn't it amazing, though, how we couldn't find David complaining about this lowly and tedious task that was assigned to him? David was a young man and there could have been other things he could have done other than watch over those needy, helpless, defenseless, dumb sheep! He could have told his father to just hire a keeper of the sheep because the lowly task of shepherding would ruin his "image". He was good-looking too, after all! Oh, but no, that wasn't the heart of David. God approved of David's heart when He chose him to be anointed king. 

"And it came to pass, when they were come, that he looked on Eliab, and said, Surely the LORD'S anointed is before him. 7But the LORD said unto Samuel, Look not on his countenance, or on the height of his stature; because I have refused him: for the LORD seethnot as man seeth; for man looketh on the outward appearance, but the LORD looketh on the heart." (1 Samuel 16:6-7)

Here's what we can see and learn from David's young heart:

  • Even though he was young (a teenager at that), David wasn't running after things that would make him happy at the moment. He accepted the task that his father gave to him and never uttered a word of complain about it. No matter how lowly that task was, David's heart was humble enough to accept it and work at it with all his might. No matter how lowly the task was, he did it excellently!
    • Most often, we would cringe at the idea of doing just a lowly task in school, at work or at home. We always wanted to be the one doing the "bigger, more important things". We usually want to be in the limelight. We usually don't want others to see us clean bathrooms or mop the floor or arrange chairs or mow the lawn or something because we have an "image" to preserve. We tend to want the nicer, better, easier, more sophisticated role. Getting down dirty is out of the equation. It has to always be easy, no-sweat, no sacrifices, no hard-working kind of deal. What would God see in our hearts today?
  • Even as a young man, David worked on being a shepherd. He didn't stay at home and lay around all day to watch the butterflies flutter around or listen to the bees buzzing. Samuel didn't hear Jesse say, "David, the youngest, is at home sleeping." He was out and about tending sheep. He wasn't lazy in doing about his father's business!
    • Isn't it interesting how selfish our lives can be these days? If there isn't anything  that we can get out of something, then we tend to say "Ok then, buh-bye now." There has to be something for us in it in order for us to invest our energy and time on something. Will I get a reward? Will I get a promotion? Will it make me rich or famous? Will it fatten my bank account? Will I have fun while doing it? Will I be noticed (or appreciated)? What will my friends say about me if I do that? I'm really wondering...What would God say when He sees our hearts today?
  • David never made any excuses for not doing the shepherding. He never raised the issue of wolves, much more bears and lions, when it comes to protecting the sheep as part of the work package!
    • It's so easy for us to make excuses about not doing something. We can come up with the most creative excuse in order to stay away from doing what we're supposed to do. Whether it be in a marriage relationship, in a professional scenario, or within the walls of our home, we tend to make excuses, excuses and more excuses. "How can I respect my husband when he's so ungodly?"; "I won't help you with your load of work, even if I'm already done with mine, because that's YOUR assignment, not mine."; "I won't read my bible because I'm really not a reader, besides, it gives me a headache if I read something for a long time."; "I really can't have a quiet time with the Lord at home because the kids and house chores make me soooo busy."; "I really can't play with the kids right now because I'm doing something important on the computer."; "I really don't want to join any activity at church because I have a full schedule at work." What has been our excuse lately? What will God see in our hearts today?
David started his story with a young, humble heart. Humility is what God wants to see in our hearts. After all, God opposes the proud. He rejects a proud heart but gives grace to the humble. (read 1 Peter 5:5)

By humility [and] the fear of the LORD [are] riches, and honour, and life. (Proverbs 22:4)

If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land. (2 Chronicles 7:14)

We ought to learn how to humble ourselves first before anything else... 
It's the first wise thing we can do. 

We are behaving wisely if we are behaving humbly...

Friday, February 4, 2011

Behaving Wisely

I just finished reading the book of 1 Samuel today and was inspired to follow David's example. After all, he was the one considered as the man after God's own heart! We all are familiar with his story in his fight with Goliath, the giant. However, I became more interested with how he behaved in all his experiences after that incident.

David was rubbing elbows with royalty after his victory over Goliath as Saul took him in (1Samuel 18:2). He became best-friends with the king's son, Jonathan (1 Samuel 18:3),  as well as a beloved head of Saul's armies (1 Samuel 18:5). In all these, though, we read of a very important factor of David's behavior during all these times... in 1 Samuel 18: 5 and 18:30 we see that David behaved himself not only wisely, but more wisely.

What is it about being wise then? Well, the definition of "wise" (as an adjective), is simply being characterized by wisdom : marked by deep understanding, keen discernment, and a capacity for sound judgment. 

Don't we all want to have this? We all want to have wisdom. Since the fall, our very human nature strives to attain wisdom, and why, you may ask? For this very reason...

"For wisdom is a defence, and money is a defence: but the excellency of knowledge is, 
that wisdom giveth life to them that have it." (Ecclesiastes 7:12)

Having wisdom, or being wise, preserves us on a daily basis! Why is it important then to attain, if not strive to have wisdom? Here's a better breakdown of it...

"Wisdom is the principal thing; therefore get wisdom: and with all thy getting get understanding. Exalt her, and she shall promote thee: she shall bring thee to honour, when thou dost embrace her. She shall give to thine head an ornament of grace: a crown of glory shall she deliver to thee. Hear, O my son, and receive my sayings; and the years of thy life shall be many." (Proverbs 4:7-10)

I would be a liar if I would say that I do not want that in my life. The bible is true about all these things and I personally long to have those in my life. Most may not admit it, but we all want to be promoted, to be honored, to have a long (and abundant) life here on earth!

We all dream big, and we all strive hard to reach the top for our sake and our family's sake. We want all that wisdom can offer and we want it for our children as well. Never in my entire life will I encounter a person who wants to be a fool. None of us wants to be labeled as such. It will be shameful on our part to be considered foolish and oftentimes we fight back at others who would think of us as such.

I don't want to live like a fool... I want to be wise in this lifetime, instead,  so I can leave that legacy to my children. If there's anything at all that I can leave with them when I'm gone, I want nothing less than WISDOM. And so I will embark in a journey to delve into the Word of God to seek for wisdom. I pray to saturate myself with His presence through His Word so as to be taught by HIM how to walk wisely (and more) as David did. After all, the beginning of wisdom is found in the fear of the LORD.

Join me as I learn, even with baby steps, how to behave wisely. We will call this series as it is: "BEHAVING WISELY." I hope and pray that you will join me in the next posts as we strive, not to be excellent and righteous, but instead to behave wisely in the presence of men in order to bring glory to our Father in heaven.

I look forward to having you with me on this journey... Y'all take care now.


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