David Sings and Saul meets Jesus ! Hallelujah.

9 07 2011

DAY ONE HUNDRED AND SIXTY-FIVE : 2 Samuel 22 v. 1 – 23 v. 7; Acts 9 v. 1 – 31; Psalm 73 v. 15 – 28


2 SAMUEL

David’s Song of Praise – Chapter 22 records the song which we also have in Psalm 18, and in both places is introduced as a song David sings to celebrate God delivering him from his enemies, including Saul. My paraphrase goes –
‘My Lord is my rock, my fortress, my deliverer, my refuge, my shield, my salvation
my stronghold, my saviour – I call to my praiseworthy Lord, and I am saved.
Death, destruction, the cords of the grave, distress overwhelm me – I call to my God, and He hears me.
The earth quaked, heaven shook, consuming fire blazed;
lightning struck, my Lord’s voice thundered.

He took hold of me, drew me out of deep waters, rescued me, supported me
‘He brought me out into a spacious place; He rescued me because He delighted in me.’
My righteousness, my cleanness, my keeping of His ways, have been rewarded by God.
The faithful are shown God’s faithfulness,
the blameless are shown God’s blamelessness,
the pure are shown God’s purity
but the crooked are shown God’s shrewdness.
The humble are saved, the haughty brought low.
‘You are my lamp, O Lord; the Lord turns my darkness into light.’
With You, I can do anything!!

My God is perfect, His word is flawless; He is my shield, my refuge, my Rock.
He strengthens me, perfects me, enables me, trains me, leads me to victory
‘You broaden the path beneath me, so that my ankles do not turn over’.

My enemies I pursued, destroyed, crushed completely.
God armed me, caused my enemies to flee, gave me victory.
You delivered me, preserved me, extended my influence and might.

‘THE LORD LIVES ! BLESSED BE MY ROCK ! EXALTED BE GOD, THE ROCK, MY SAVIOUR!’
I will praise You, Lord, everywhere, singing Your praises before all people.
You have given great victories, shown unfailing kindness to David and his descendants for ever.’

What a glorious song of praise for God’s faithfulness, His deliverance, His protection. David certainly knew how to praise, and acknowledge God in all things.

The Last words of David – these are the last recorded ‘inspired by the Spirit’ words of David
‘The oracle of David…Israel’s sweet psalmist (singer of songs)
The Spirit of the Lord spoke through me; His word was on my tongue.
The one who rules in righteousness is like sunlight in the morning, brightness after rain.
God made an everlasting covenant with my house – He will bring to fruition my salvation, and grant me every desire.
But the evildoers (‘sons of rebellion’) will be cast aside like thorns, and burned up where they lie.’


ACTS

Saul’s Conversion – So, we first met Saul at the stoning of Stephen, and now we meet again the angry man, ‘breathing out murderous threats against the Lord’s disciples’, and on his way to the synagogues in Damascus to find any who belonged to ‘the Way’ (men and women), and bring them back to Jerusalem as prisoners.
His experience en route has become shorthand for other people’s sudden encounters with God’s grace – their ‘Damascus Road’ experience.
A heavenly bright light flashed round Saul. He fell to the ground. He heard a voice,
‘Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me?’

Saul is ‘known’, and his activities are ‘known’ by the voice shrouded in light.

The voice introduces Himself, when asked who it is, as ‘Jesus, whom you are persecuting’.

Note how Jesus identifies Himself entirely with the suffering of His church – if we suffer persecution, it is really Christ Jesus who is being attacked.

Saul is told to go into the city and await further instruction. Others with him heard the voice but didn’t see anyone. Saul discovers he has been blinded by the light (a physical reminder of his spiritual blindness up to this point), and he remains blinded for three days. It appears that Saul spent the time fasting.
Elsewhere in the city, Ananias, a disciple, was called up by God in a vision. He, also is called by name, and is told to go to Judas’ house on Straight Street (could have lots of fun seeing the implications of going to the house of a man called Judas, to see the chief persecutor of the early Christian church, and all that happening on Straight Street!). Ananias is to place his hands on Saul to enable him to receive his sight back.
 Ananias is understandably disturbed by his mission, and reminds God that this Saul has come to arrest the lot of them. Ananias hears God say
‘This man is my chosen instrument to carry my name before the Gentiles and their kings and before the people of Israel. I will show him how much he must suffer for my name.’
So Ananias is obedient (what courage and faith in the Lord) and goes to Saul, places his hands on him and says,
‘Brother Saul….(wow!!)….the Lord Jesus, who appeared to you on the road as you were coming here – has sent me so that you may see again and be filled with the Holy Spirit.’
Something like scales fell from Saul’s eyes, and he could see again. He was baptised, ate some food, and his strength returned.

Saul in Damascus and Jerusalem – Saul had a few days in Damascus with the disciples there, immediately beginning to preach about Jesus being the Son of God, amazing those who were simply expecting the opposite from him!
‘Yet Saul grew more and more powerful and baffled the Jews…by proving that Jesus is the Christ.’
Opposition to Saul grew, and a plot to kill him arose amongst the Jews. Saul caught wind of this and his followers helped him escape by night, lowering him in a basket through an opening in the wall.
Back in Jerusalem, the disciples there are afraid of Saul, and were not keen to have him join them. Barnabas it is who brings Saul to the apostles, and relates to them the story of Saul’s encounter with Jesus, and his powerful preaching in Jesus’ name in Damascus. Saul is then embraced by them, and stays with them in Jerusalem, boldly speaking in the name of the Lord Jesus, debating with Grecian Jews (until they plot to kill him).
The ‘brothers’ arrange for Saul to get to Caesarea and then on to Tarsus (where Saul is from). There was a time of peace for the church in Galilee, Samaria and Judea, growing in strength and number, ‘encouraged by the Holy Spirit’, living out a healthy awe and fear of the Lord.

PSALM
‘..my heart was grieved and my spirit embittered; I was senseless and ignorant…
yet I am always with You; You hold me by my right hand.
You guide me…whom have I in heaven but You?
My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion for ever.
I have made the Sovereign Lord my refuge’

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