Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Rise to power

Check out this list of actual predictions that proved to be astonishingly bad[1]:

Drill for oil? You mean drill into the ground to try and find oil? You’re crazy.” (Drillers who Edwin L. Drake tried to enlist to his project to drill for oil in 1859.)

Stocks have reached what looks like a permanently high plateau.” (Irving Fisher, Professor of Economics, Yale University, 1929.)

Everything that can be invented has been invented.” (Charles H. Duell, Commissioner, U.S. Office of Patents, 1899.)

Louis Pasteur’s theory of germs is ridiculous fiction.” (Pierre Pachet, Professor of Physiology at Toulouse, 1872)

I think there is a world market for maybe five computers.” (Thomas Watson, chairman of IBM, 1943)

Who … wants to hear actors talk?” (H.M. Warner, Warner Brothers, 1927)

We don’t like their sound, and guitar music is on the way out.” (Decca Recording Co. rejecting the Beatles, 1962)

Heavier-than-air flying machines are impossible.” (Lord Kelvin, president, Royal Society, 1895)

Crazy, huh? Whoda thunk?

What changes in your life would you never have predicted?

Lessee . . . I never would have predicted that when I installed the skylight in my apartment that the people upstairs would be mad at me (just kidding . . .).

At one point I thought I was going to graduate with a Double Major in Choir and Orchestra and become a composer, maybe the next John Williams. Perhaps conduct the Houston Philharmonic or Boston Pops. Have lots of money, a home conservatory with a large library, leather chairs, a smoking jacket and slippers . . .

Hey, I’m not laughing at you . . .

Ironically, I never would have predicted that I would ever stop listening to the greatest and most influential band of all time:

I never would have predicted I would have half the experiences I’ve had.

I would never have predicted that God would save me and put me where I am today. I never would have predicted I’d be living where I am, doing what I am doing. This is so far off the radar-screen I can’t even pretend to know what ‘s coming next.

A few years ago I was interviewing for a position in a denomination and that dreaded question came, “what do you see yourself doing in 3 year, 5 years, 10 years?” My interviewers (good Christian leaders) got upset because I could not answer. It made no sense to try to dream up something because I had (and still have) no clue. The only thing I could give them was James 4:13-15, “Come now, you who say, ‘Today or tomorrow we will go to such and such a city, and spend a year there and engage in business and make a profit.’ Yet you do not know what your life will be like tomorrow. You are just a vapor that appears for a little while and then vanishes away. Instead, you ought to say, ‘If the Lord wills, we will live and also do this or that.’” I just could not boast in arrogance and convince myself or them that I knew what I would be doing. They didn’t like my answer, incidentally.

I wonder what David wanted to be when he grew up . . . Do you think he ever wanted to be king? If they played sports at all I don’t think David was high on the first-pick list . . . maybe after the lion and bear, but probably not before.

1 Samuel 16 God tells Samuel to go anoint someone else as king. Samuel’s reaction is interesting as he has just gotten all over Saul’s case for dropping the ball so many times with God. Now here is Samuel questioning God! “Go anoint someone else? You gotta be kidding! Saul will kill (I mean, really) me!” God tells Samuel to take a heifer and go to the house of Jesse to find the king God has selected.

Freeze-frame. Picture Samuel walking down the road with a heifer.

Why would a priest bring a heifer to go king-hunting? I think we have a clue when we go back and look at which sacrifices require a heifer. The Peace Offering is the only one that allows either a male or female from the herd. It can be offered as a Thanksgiving offering as well along with unleavened cakes. Particularly, this offering can be eaten over a few days by the one offering it and any guests. When the elders of the city saw Samuel coming down the road with a heifer, they ask him, “Do you come in peace?”(16:4). Samuel affirms this and invites Jesse and family to the sacrifice.

I think Samuel was looking for someone at peace with God. Saul clearly was not. The future king of Israel was not so much one who would bring peace, but one who was at peace. God had to teach Samuel a lesson that in the midst of the uproar, there was still His purpose at work, He still had His eye open for one who would love Him and obey His commandments. God was looking for one who would glorify the LORD and not himself. God also had to teach Samuel that outward appearances mean nothing, God looks at the heart. Saul was one who was interesting in keeping up appearances. But who better fit to calm a disturbed flock than a shepherd? God saw that and Samuel had to learn it.

David had certain qualities about him that point to his integrity and give us a glimpse as to what kind of leader he would be. First, “the Spirit of the LORD came upon him mightily.” This was the same language used of Samson, even Saul. Second, was strong. Like Samson, the Spirit of the LORD enabled him to do incredible acts with lions, bear and giants. Third, he knew he had to keep the interest of God before his own. The war-time situation was bad, but all David knew was the LORD of hosts, the leader of the armies of heaven was greater than that stinky Philistine. Fourth, I think David was observant. He knew how to oversee, but also how to survey and make decisions. He had discernment. Fifth, he knew how to delegate. It seems that wherever David went, he was able to tap someone on the shoulder to carry on while he took up another task. Sixth, he knew how to obey. Like it or not, David still did what Saul asked and the LORD preserved him in every case.

Saul’s descent is immediate. Once, “the spirit of the LORD came upon him mightily” (1 Sam. 10:6, 10). Now the spirit left him and came upon David. Saul’s descent is also marked publicly through the people’s response to David’s victory over the Philistines. Saul becomes idolatrous (exalting himself and all his concerns over God), he will later practice sorcery, and he is full of enmity, strife, jealousy, outbursts of anger, full of disputes, factions, envy. David, on the other hand, is one evidencing true love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness (even to Saul), and self-control.

Psalm 27 could have been written by David during these early years. In it he expresses the rock-solid element of faith: the presence of the LORD. These words could have been on his mind as he approached Goliath, or certainly in retrospect as he began his flight from Saul. This expression is not so much an imprecation against his enemies; moreso, these words express deep trust, deep faith.

Clearly, there is little surprise to see David selected to be king. He had no idea it was coming, but in retrospect, we can see along with David how God was preparing him. When I look back on my life and see all I have been through, I could not have predicted where I am now and the things I am doing; however, in retrospect, it makes perfect sense. I can see how He prepared me . . . and I can also see that God has more preparation to do in me for the next step, whatever that is.

Is the issue “how do I face Goliath-sized problems;” or, “how has God in His sovereignty prepared me for what I am facing today? How do I rule as a king and priest in His kingdom today?”

[1]MacArthur, John. 1 Samuel : How One Godly Man Changed a Nation. MacArthur Bible studies, Page 61. Nashville, TN: W Publishing Group, 2000.

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