I Samuel 30:7-8 (NKJV)
Then David said to Abiathar the priest, Ahimelech’s son, “Please bring the ephod here to me.” And Abiathar brought the ephod to David. So David inquired of the Lord, saying, “Shall I pursue this troop? Shall I overtake them?” And He answered him, “Pursue, for you shall surely overtake them and without fail recover all.”
The pursuits of life are marked with various meaning and purpose. The desires of our heart promote that which is pursued in life. It is by faith that a person is motivated to pursue that which is not evident in their life. The greater the desire the more someone will go after that which motivates the heart and mind. Often one’s challenges or difficulties will form and shape from our youth and grow into a passion to overcome as a person grows and matures into adulthood. My biological mother struggled her whole life as a person. She loved us but could not overcome the addictions in her life to properly care for her children. The Lord sent me a mother to bridge the gap who loves me as her own, but I have struggled most of life to be completely opposite. Her struggles in nurturing pushed me to over compensate with my own children. I had to be the perfect mom. Knowing from the beginning that it would be impossible, I could not stop trying to do everything right. The things we do and how we live has deeper meaning then what we realize most of the time. It is very important that as Christians, believers and followers of Christ that we evaluate our motivations and intentions at all times. It was only after many years of trying not to be like my mother that I realized I was supposed to be imitating God and striving to be like Jesus that I stopped my fruitless pursuit to be overtaken by His Love.
I was thinking about my life this morning. My pursuits in life have dramatically changed in the course of just six months. I am excited. I am focused. I am a bit fearful. When we step out to follow the Lord by faith, I think there is always a twinge of anticipation mixed with anxiousness. To go deeper than we have gone before in trust and live in confident hope must always challenge our mind, will and emotions or is it really of God? It must defy human logic and go beyond what I can see and understand to be that which the Lord has for me which is always exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think according to His Power at work in us. (Ephesians 3:20) What is your passion today? What are you pursuing? As in all things, there is a process to godly pursuits. I think it will challenge you as it has challenged my heart today to examine each one.
David and his men returned to find their city, Ziklag, attacked, raided, and burned to the ground. Their families had been taken captive. David’s wives Ahinoam and Abigail were among the captives. David and his men wept until they could weep no more. His own men turned on him threatening to stone him in their grief. But David “strengthened himself in the Lord his God.” (I Samuel 30:1-6) It is a natural human response to look for someone to blame when things go terribly wrong in life. In fact, pursuit is driven by passion. Passion can be driven by any emotion possible in the human mind and heart. In this case, grief drove them to look for someone to take out their anger and pain upon. When an emotion becomes too great to contain it, we look for someone else to alleviate the pressure and dump the load. The men chose David. But David chose the Lord.
David told the priest to bring the ephod, his mantle of worship. David would take his cause before the Lord to see what He had to say on the matter. Just two simple questions, nothing more or less. David inquired of the Lord – 1) Do I pursue this? and 2) Will I overtake it? If only we took the time in all our pursuits to go before the Lord transparent and honest with an open heart to ask Him is this worth pursing and will I win? The Lord answered David, “Pursue, for you shall surely overtake them and without fail recover all.”
I Peter 3:10-12 (NKJV)
For “He who would love life and see good days, let him refrain his tongue from evil, and his lips from speaking deceit. Let him turn away from evil and do good; let him seek peace and pursue it. For the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous, and His ears are open to their prayers; but the face of the Lord is against those who do evil.”
David took six hundred men to pursue the Amalekites who raided their village and took their families. Part way through their journey, two hundred men were just too weak to continue and were left behind as the continued their pursuit. The men came upon an Egyptian slave left behind in the desert to die who confirmed that he was with the group who destroyed their city. David feed him and gave him water caring for the man until he regained his strength. The slave promised to take David to them if he would not kill him or return him to his master. David agreed. They found the Amalekites and recovered everything that was taken from them. “And nothing of theirs was lacking, either small or great, sons or daughters, spoil or anything which they had taken from them.” God delivered as promised.
When the men were grieving they wanted to kill David for the violation of their home and family. Now they came across someone who was with the people who committed the heinous crime against them, David showed the man compassion. This is so important in our pursuits in life. I believe that when the Lord puts people in our path no matter how driven to succeed that they are treated with love and compassion. They easily could have mistreated this man, tortured him, used him and abused him just like everyone else and gotten the information needed to find the others. David’s heart would not do such a thing but responded to his need instead. He fed him. He satisfied his thirst. He earned his trust and took him with him. How many times even in godly pursuits do we lose sight of what our overall mission is in the first place? To follow the Lord. Walk in His Ways. Love others as He loves us. How we pursue is just as important as what we pursue. Are we after vindication or vengeance?
Psalm 26:1-3 (NKJV)
Vindicate me, O Lord, for I have walked in my integrity. I have also trusted in the Lord; I shall not slip. Examine me, O Lord, and prove me; try my mind and my heart. For Your lovingkindness is before my eyes, and I have walked in Your truth.
Psalm 43:1-4 (NKJV)
Vindicate me, O God, and plead my cause against an ungodly nation; Oh, deliver me from the deceitful and unjust man! For You are the God of my strength; Why do You cast me off? Why do I go mourning because of the oppression of the enemy? Oh, send out Your light and Your truth! Let them lead me; Let them bring me to Your holy hill and to Your tabernacle. Then I will go to the altar of God, to God my exceeding joy; and on the harp I will praise You, O God, my God.
Romans 12:19 (NKJV)
Beloved, do not avenge yourselves, but rather give place to wrath; for it is written, “Vengeance is Mine, I will repay,” says the Lord.
As we read the Psalms, the heart of David is revealed. He cries out to the Lord for vindication. This is important and evidenced in his response to the violation of I Samuel 30. His immediate reaction was for vindication while the others wanted vengeance. This is so important and not just a play on words but points directly to the motivation of our heart. Every worthwhile pursuit in life should be born of faith and trust in God’s Worth resulting in His Glory. Just as God promised, they did “without fail recover all.” We want perfect outcomes so therefore we must perfect our pursuits beginning with the people who are along the way. They met the Egyptian and David cared for him. They were reunited with the 200 men who were just too weary to continue and fight. The Word of God tells us that the “wicked and worthless men” among the 400 told David not to give them back what belonged to them just their families. They even went so far as to tell David to “make them depart” from us. But David again arising from a heart after God’s Heart told them, “My brethren, you shall not do so with what the Lord has given us, who has preserved us and delivered into our hand the troop that came against us. For who will heed you in this matter? But as his part is who goes down to the battle, so shall his part be who stays by the supplies; they shall share alike.” (I Samuel 30:21-25)
Vindication is to assert, maintain or defend a right or cause against opposition. To justify which means to show to be just or right. To regain possession. However when our pursuit becomes tinged with bitterness, it can quickly turn into vengeance. Vengeance is to inflict injury, harm, humiliation or the like on a person by another who has been harmed by that person. Bitterness is always the root of vengeance. God has reserved vengeance for himself. We cannot be vengeful because we have been justified by faith which is given by God’s Grace. (Romans 3:21-26) Therefore we must afford the same grace to others in the midst of pursuit. The Lord has clearly identified the enemy. “For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places.” (Ephesians 6:12) The Lord has promised us many things. We pursue those promises. Success or failure depends on the motive of our heart. We can seek imperfect justice or have complete vindication. It is up to those in pursuit.
Hebrews 12:14-16 (NKJV)
Pursue peace with all people, and holiness, without which no one will see the Lord: looking carefully lest anyone fall short of the grace of God; lest any root of bitterness springing up cause trouble, and by this many become defiled; lest there be any fornicator or profane person like Esau, who for one morsel of food sold his birthright.
As Children of the Living God, we are promised victory after victory and to live from Glory to Glory. This is achieved by keeping our eyes fixed on Jesus the author and finisher of faith. But sometimes let’s face it, the people that oppose us, offend us, battle us and seem to be the bane of human existence take on the appearance of the adversary. Jesus died for them too. We are to love even our enemies. These are not my words but a reminder from the Lord today. We must not forsake people in our passionate pursuit for Him. In fact, to do so changes our mission complete and impacts the outcome greatly. When you think of “that” person, the one who is constantly causing problems, getting in your business, trying to mess up your plans, and overall just drives you crazy – that is the Egyptian in the desert, or the 200 hundred too weak to make it, and they are the ones that test the purity of our pursuit. The ones who once opposed us or offended us or even abandoned the cause. The Lord is testing the motives of our heart because to pursue Him fully and completely above all other things is demonstrated in our response to these people. To have all that God promised requires all of our heart.
Pursue peace with all people. Live a holy life. Today in the midst of my pursuit, I am challenged to inspect my heart for any bitterness linked to my past keeping me from my future. It must be dealt with swiftly and completely if my goal is to “without fail recover all.” I have clear direction. I have been promised much. I cannot fully pursue this unless it is wholeheartedly so I must take back any part of my heart yielded to offense, bitterness and anger in the Name of Jesus Christ. I will not be overtaken by such things, if I want to be overtaken by His Love.
Psalm 51:10-13 (NKJV)
Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me. Do not cast me away from Your presence, and do not take Your Holy Spirit from me. Restore to me the joy of Your salvation, and uphold me by Your generous Spirit. Then I will teach transgressors Your ways, and sinners shall be converted to You.