Hopeless at the End


Now the Philistines were fighting against Israel, and the men of Israel fled before the Philistines and fell slain on Mount Gilboa. And the Philistines overtook Saul and his sons, and the Philistines struck down Jonathan and Abinadab and Malchi-shua, the sons of Saul. The battle pressed hard against Saul, and the archers found him, and he was badly wounded by the archers.Then Saul said to his armor-bearer, “Draw your sword, and thrust me through with it, lest these uncircumcised come and thrust me through, and mistreat me.” But his armor-bearer would not, for he feared greatly. Therefore Saul took his own sword and fell upon it. And when his armor-bearer saw that Saul was dead, he also fell upon his sword and died with him. Thus Saul died, and his three sons, and his armor-bearer, and all his men, on the same day together. I Samuel 31:1-6 ESV

So we have come to know and to believe the love that God has for us. God is love, and whoever abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him. By this is love perfected with us, so that we may have confidence for the day of judgment, because as he is so also are we in this world. There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not been perfected in love. We love because he first loved us. I John 4:16-19 ESV


Mark Antony was a leader and a military general in the late Roman Republic. He was a supporter of Julius Caesar, and when Caesar was murdered, he was next in line for power. However, Caesar’s nephew Octavian also claimed the throne. There was a lot of tension between the two men, although they sometimes had to work together against other enemies. Mark Antony even married Octavian’s sister, but later he left her because he loved Cleopatra, the ruler of Egypt. After that happened, Octavian came against Mark Antony in a war in Greece, and Mark Antony lost. He ran away to Egypt, and Octavian’s forces came after him. Mark Antony was afraid of falling into Octavian’s hands, and he killed himself.

Saul did the same thing when he lost the battle with the Philistines. He was wounded, but he hadn’t died. He was afraid that if the Philistines took him captive, they would torture him, and he couldn’t face that. He wanted his armor-bearer to kill him, but the armor-bearer wouldn’t do that, so Saul killed himself. He died the same way he had lived for a long time, cowardly and afraid. He had turned away from God, and had no strength on his own to face difficult things in life.

Sometimes we are afraid of things in life. We might be afraid of pain or sickness or the anger of other people or shame because of things we’ve done wrong. Sometimes people can’t face these things, and they might even try to kill themselves so they don’t have to face them. But the good news is that we never have to go through difficult things alone. God is always with us to help us and give us his love and courage. If we are afraid of the consequences of things we’ve done wrong, God will also help us with that. He might not take away the consequences, but because of what Jesus did for us on the cross we can be sure that he completely forgives us. Nothing will separate us from his love, and nothing can take away the life we have with God, now and forever.


Dear Heavenly Father, please give us courage to go through difficult times in life. Thank you for your love and forgiveness. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.



Serving by Waiting


Then David came to the two hundred men who had been too exhausted to follow David, and who had been left at the brook Besor. And they went out to meet David and to meet the people who were with him. And when David came near to the people he greeted them. Then all the wicked and worthless fellows among the men who had gone with David said, “Because they did not go with us, we will not give them any of the spoil that we have recovered, except that each man may lead away his wife and children, and depart.” But David said, “You shall not do so, my brothers, with what the Lord has given us. He has preserved us and given into our hand the band that came against us. Who would listen to you in this matter? For as his share is who goes down into the battle, so shall his share be who stays by the baggage. They shall share alike.” And he made it a statute and a rule for Israel from that day forward to this day. I Samuel 30:21-25 ESV

He will swallow up death forever;
and the Lord God will wipe away tears from all faces,
and the reproach of his people he will take away from all the earth,
for the Lord has spoken.
It will be said on that day,
“Behold, this is our God; we have waited for him, that he might save us.
This is the Lord; we have waited for him;
let us be glad and rejoice in his salvation.” Isaiah 25:8-9 ESV


There was once a great poet in England named John Milton, and when he was about 47 years old he went blind. He still had a number of years left to live, but he didn’t know how he could serve God if he was blind. He wrote a poem called “On His Blindness,” and the last lines of this poem are:

Thousands at his bidding speed
And post o’re Land and Ocean without rest:
They also serve who only stand and waite.

He meant that people who are weak and not able to do heroic things for God, but only humble, everyday things, also serve God. The last line of this poem was often quoted in England during World War II. It was a reminder to people that not everyone could fight in the war. It was important for some people to stay home to grow food, run businesses, take care of children, and otherwise keep the country going. These jobs, and the people who did them, were important too.

David had the same idea about his army. There had been 200 men who couldn’t keep up with the rest on their mission to rescue their families. They stayed behind and guarded all the baggage. The other men could travel faster without having to worry about their baggage, but these men who fought thought of themselves as the real heroes. They didn’t want to share their victory prizes with the other men. But David put a stop to that. He made sure that all his men would share and share alike. David recognized that it was God who had won the battle for them, so there was no point in trying to figure out who had done the most important job or who the heroes really were.

We can only serve God because he first loved us and sent Jesus to set us free from our sins. When Jesus defeated sin and death for us, we couldn’t do anything to help him. We could only stand and wait, and let him do the job that only he could do. Everything we are and have is a gift from God, and anything we do for God is only possible because of his love and help.


Dear Heavenly Father, thank you for giving us everything we are and have, and especially for giving us Jesus, our Savior. Help us to serve you in the best way we can, even if it’s not the most exciting way. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.



Rescuing the Lost


And when he had taken him down, behold, they were spread abroad over all the land, eating and drinking and dancing, because of all the great spoil they had taken from the land of the Philistines and from the land of Judah. And David struck them down from twilight until the evening of the next day, and not a man of them escaped, except four hundred young men, who mounted camels and fled. David recovered all that the Amalekites had taken, and David rescued his two wives. Nothing was missing, whether small or great, sons or daughters, spoil or anything that had been taken. David brought back all. David also captured all the flocks and herds, and the people drove the livestock before him, and said, “This is David’s spoil.” I Samuel 30:16-20 ESV

Now the tax collectors and sinners were all drawing near to hear [Jesus]. And the Pharisees and the scribes grumbled, saying, “This man receives sinners and eats with them.”

So he told them this parable: “What man of you, having a hundred sheep, if he has lost one of them, does not leave the ninety-nine in the open country, and go after the one that is lost, until he finds it? And when he has found it, he lays it on his shoulders, rejoicing. And when he comes home, he calls together his friends and his neighbors, saying to them, ‘Rejoice with me, for I have found my sheep that was lost.’ Just so, I tell you, there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who need no repentance.” Luke 15:1-7 ESV


Jesus told a story once about someone who had a hundred, sheep, but one got lost. He left the other ninety-nine sheep together and went out to look for the sheep that was missing. Looking for a lost sheep might be dangerous. If the sheep is lost in wild country, there might be dangerous predators like wolves ready to attack. If the sheep fell down a steep, rocky hillside, it might be dangerous for the shepherd to bring the sheep back up again. But to the shepherd who cares about his sheep, nothing matters but to bring the sheep safely home, no matter what it costs.

David and his men certainly felt that way about their families. They were ready to fight a raiding Amalekite army to rescue their wives and children. There was the danger of getting killed or hurt, but that didn’t matter. Whatever it cost them, David and his men were going to bring their wives and children home safely again with them. And the good news was that with God’s help they were able to rescue everyone, and even all their animals and everything else that they owned.

This is also the way Jesus feels about us. He saw us turn away from him and become his enemies because of sin, and he saw us become trapped in death and the power of the devil. Jesus didn’t want to leave us there. He was ready to do whatever it took to bring us back to him, no matter what it cost him. And the cost for Jesus was very high, in fact, it cost him his life on the cross. But for Jesus, all that mattered was to bring us back to God with our sins forgiven and life with God given back to us for now and always.


Dear Jesus, thank you for coming to our rescue when we were lost. Amen.

Help from a Very Weak Man


They found an Egyptian in the open country and brought him to David. And they gave him bread and he ate. They gave him water to drink, and they gave him a piece of a cake of figs and two clusters of raisins. And when he had eaten, his spirit revived, for he had not eaten bread or drunk water for three days and three nights. And David said to him, “To whom do you belong? And where are you from?” He said, “I am a young man of Egypt, servant to an Amalekite, and my master left me behind because I fell sick three days ago. We had made a raid against the Negeb of the Cherethites and against that which belongs to Judah and against the Negeb of Caleb, and we burned Ziklag with fire.” And David said to him, “Will you take me down to this band?” And he said, “Swear to me by God that you will not kill me or deliver me into the hands of my master, and I will take you down to this band.” I Samuel 30:11-15 ESV

For the body does not consist of one member but of many. If the foot should say, “Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body,” that would not make it any less a part of the body. And if the ear should say, “Because I am not an eye, I do not belong to the body,” that would not make it any less a part of the body. If the whole body were an eye, where would be the sense of hearing? If the whole body were an ear, where would be the sense of smell? But as it is, God arranged the members in the body, each one of them, as he chose. If all were a single member, where would the body be? As it is, there are many parts, yet one body.

The eye cannot say to the hand, “I have no need of you,” nor again the head to the feet, “I have no need of you.” On the contrary, the parts of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable, and on those parts of the body that we think less honorable we bestow the greater honor, and our unpresentable parts are treated with greater modesty, which our more presentable parts do not require. But God has so composed the body, giving greater honor to the part that lacked it, that there may be no division in the body, but that the members may have the same care for one another. If one member suffers, all suffer together; if one member is honored, all rejoice together. I Corinthians 12:14-26 ESV


One evening a stray dog came to the Wilders’ farm. They Wilders didn’t have any dogs, because dogs dig up gardens, chase chickens, and suck eggs. Big dogs might even kill sheep, so dogs simply weren’t welcome on their farm. But this stray dog was very thin with hunger and cringing with fear. The Wilders felt sorry for it, so they gave it something to eat. The dog stayed outside their house that night, and late at night Mother heard it growling. When she looked out, she saw it walking up and down. The next day Father found the footprints of two men around the house, and learned that a week before another farmer had been robbed. The strange dog had protected the Wilders from the robbers.

When David’s army found a man very weak with hunger, they didn’t just leave him to die. They gave him water and food and saved his life. He had been a slave to one of the Amalekite raiders, but when he got sick his master had left him behind. He wasn’t any use to his master if he couldn’t work, and his master didn’t care if he died. David and his men were different. They felt sorry for him and helped him, and he was able to help them the same way the hungry, scared dog helped the Wilders. Often people who seem weak and worthless have something to offer.

In the body of Christ this is always true. It’s Jesus who brings his people together, and each person has something to offer. The people that seem weak or foolish are the people we especially honor with love and concern, and God helps us see what he wants to give everyone through them. God works that way to remind us that none of us has anything to offer anyone else on our own. Each of us is sinful and weak and foolish, but Jesus came to die for us to take away our sins and give us his help and strength. God gives gifts of love and help to his people, and it’s through others that we receive what God gives, while we give to others the care and service that God gives us.


Dear Jesus, thank you for bringing us into your body by dying for us and forgiving our sins. Give us all love and help to share with each other. Amen.


Wilder, Laura Ingalls Farmer Boy New York: Harper and Brothers, 1933.

Looking for Guidance from God


And David said to Abiathar the priest, the son of Ahimelech, “Bring me the ephod.” So Abiathar brought the ephod to David. And David inquired of the Lord, “Shall I pursue after this band? Shall I overtake them?” He answered him, “Pursue, for you shall surely overtake and shall surely rescue.” So David set out, and the six hundred men who were with him, and they came to the brook Besor, where those who were left behind stayed. But David pursued, he and four hundred men. Two hundred stayed behind, who were too exhausted to cross the brook Besor. I Samuel 30:7-10 ESV

And they shall make the ephod of gold, of blue and purple and scarlet yarns, and of fine twined linen, skillfully worked.

You shall make a breastpiece of judgment, in skilled work. In the style of the ephod you shall make it—of gold, blue and purple and scarlet yarns, and fine twined linen shall you make it.

And in the breastpiece of judgment you shall put the Urim and the Thummim, and they shall be on Aaron’s heart, when he goes in before the Lord. Thus Aaron shall bear the judgment of the people of Israel on his heart before the Lord regularly. Exodus 28:6, 15, 30 ESV

Your word is a lamp to my feet
and a light to my path. Psalm 119:105 ESV


When two football teams meet for a game, the game always starts with a coin toss. One team will call for heads or tails, and whoever wins the coin toss gets to choose either which goal to defend or whether to kickoff or to receive in the first quarter. The winner usually decides to receive, and that means the other team gets to decide which goal to defend. Each quarter this reverses, so that each team defends the opposite goal, and at half time the opposite team either kicks off or receives. Flipping a coin is a way to try to keep things fair between the two teams by letting the coin toss decide who gets a slight advantage.

God gave his priests something called Urim and Thummim. We know very little about them, but they seem to be something attached to the breastpiece and ephod that the high priest wore. The priest used the Urim and Thummim to give judgment in a situation when God’s people needed to know what God wanted. When David wanted to know what God wanted him to do after all the families had been taken captive, he called the priest who was with his men and asked him to bring his ephod. Abiathar the priest could use the Urim and Thummim of the ephod to give David an answer from God. When David asked whether he should chase the army that had raided his town, God gave him an answer. David and his army started their pursuit, confident of what God wanted and what he had promised.

Sometimes it seems like it would be nice if God would answer our questions in that way today. It isn’t always easy to know the right thing to do or what God wants. But God doesn’t communicate with his people that way anymore. He has given us everything we need to know about his will in the Bible, and we need to read and learn the Bible to understand what God wants. We can also pray and talk to parents and other trusted adults for advice. The Bible might not give us a clear answer on every detail of our lives, but it is very clear about the most important thing of all. The Bible clearly points us to Jesus as the only way to have life and forgiveness with God. Jesus died on the cross so that our sins could be forgiven, and we know for sure that God loves us and wants us to be his children. We never have to flip a coin to be sure of God’s love and care!


Dear Heavenly Father, thank you for giving us your word to guide us and your Son Jesus to save us. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Connected to the Source


Now when David and his men came to Ziklag on the third day, the Amalekites had made a raid against the Negeb and against Ziklag. They had overcome Ziklag and burned it with fire and taken captive the women and all who were in it, both small and great. They killed no one, but carried them off and went their way. And when David and his men came to the city, they found it burned with fire, and their wives and sons and daughters taken captive. Then David and the people who were with him raised their voices and wept until they had no more strength to weep. David’s two wives also had been taken captive, Ahinoam of Jezreel and Abigail the widow of Nabal of Carmel. And David was greatly distressed, for the people spoke of stoning him, because all the people were bitter in soul, each for his sons and daughters. But David strengthened himself in the Lord his God. I Samuel 30:1-6 ESV

[Jesus said:] “I am the true vine, and my Father is the vinedresser. Every branch in me that does not bear fruit he takes away, and every branch that does bear fruit he prunes, that it may bear more fruit. Already you are clean because of the word that I have spoken to you. Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me. am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing.” John 15:1-5 ESV


Has your mom or dad ever had the battery of their car go dead? That can happen if they leave the lights on accidentally, or it can also happen if there is something wrong with the battery. When the battery is dead, the car won’t start. The battery has no power to give to the car. The only thing you can do is to recharge the battery from a battery that is working. Maybe your mom and dad called a tow truck to do this, or maybe a kind friend or neighbor or even somebody who was passing by connected the dead battery to a battery that was working. The dead battery got its life from the battery that was alive. It couldn’t bring itself back to life.

A horrible thing happened to David and his army. When they came back to the town where they were living they found that a raiding army attacked their city. All their wives and children had been taken away by this army, and all their homes and in fact their whole town had been burned down. It was terrible! All the men started to cry for their families, including David. But then the men got angry and upset and blamed David for everything. They were ready to kill David by throwing big stones at him. David was in serious trouble, and he had no power on his own to get out of the mess. He needed to get strength from outside of himself, and he knew that there was only one place to get that strength. He turned to God for help.

Jesus said to his followers that their only source of strength was in him. He compared himself to a vine, and his followers to branches. If you cut a branch off a tree or a grapevine, will it live? No, it will die because it doesn’t have any connection to the life of the plant. It’s the same with our life in God. We don’t have any strength in ourselves, but we are connected to Jesus and have his strength and life. This is important to remember when we have troubles that seem too big for us to handle. It’s most important to know when we remember that we are sinners. We can’t ever earn God’s forgiveness on our own, but God supplies us with all the grace and forgiveness we need through Jesus. Jesus died so that our sins could be forgiven, and he keeps us in him. We can’t have any life with God at all without Jesus.


Dear Heavenly Father, thank you for giving me life and forgiveness through Jesus. Help me to stay connected with him now and forever. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.


Saved by the Bell!


Now the Philistines had gathered all their forces at Aphek. And the Israelites were encamped by the spring that is in Jezreel. As the lords of the Philistines were passing on by hundreds and by thousands, and David and his men were passing on in the rear with Achish, the commanders of the Philistines said, “What are these Hebrews doing here?” And Achish said to the commanders of the Philistines, “Is this not David, the servant of Saul, king of Israel, who has been with me now for days and years, and since he deserted to me I have found no fault in him to this day.” But the commanders of the Philistines were angry with him. And the commanders of the Philistines said to him, “Send the man back, that he may return to the place to which you have assigned him. He shall not go down with us to battle, lest in the battle he become an adversary to us. For how could this fellow reconcile himself to his lord? Would it not be with the heads of the men here? Is not this David, of whom they sing to one another in dances,

‘Saul has struck down his thousands,
and David his ten thousands’?”

Then Achish called David and said to him, “As the Lord lives, you have been honest, and to me it seems right that you should march out and in with me in the campaign. For I have found nothing wrong in you from the day of your coming to me to this day. Nevertheless, the lords do not approve of you. So go back now; and go peaceably, that you may not displease the lords of the Philistines.” I Samuel 29:1-7 ESV

For we ourselves were once foolish, disobedient, led astray, slaves to various passions and pleasures, passing our days in malice and envy, hated by others and hating one another. But when the goodness and loving kindness of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that being justified by his grace we might become heirs according to the hope of eternal life. Titus 3:3-7 ESV


Calvin was sitting in the classroom, dreaming about Spaceman Spiff and not paying attention to his teacher. When his teacher called on him to come to the board and demonstrate the next problem, he didn’t know what was going on and didn’t know how to do the problem. He tried to stall by pretending to figure it out, and then the bell rang. Calvin didn’t have to do the problem after all. He was saved by the end of the day coming before he had to do anything.

David was saved from his foolish bind, also. He had been deceptive and disloyal, and now he found himself marching out against his own people Israel with the armies of the Philistines. What did David plan to do? Would he actually kill his own people? Or was he planning to betray King Achish, who trusted him? The Bible doesn’t tell us, and it’s possible David didn’t actually know what he was going to do. David was in a terrible predicament, and there didn’t seem to be an easy way out. But just like Calvin, David was saved from his dilemma before he had to do anything. The officers of the Philistines protested so strongly that king Achish sent David and his men away.

We all were in a terrible bind that we could never have gotten ourselves out of. We were caught in sin and separation from God and had no way out. But we were saved from our dilemma when Jesus came to die for us and set us free from sin and death. Because of Jesus we have a brand new life. We aren’t stuck in sin anymore, but free to love and serve God.


Dear Jesus, thank you for saving us from the trouble of sin and death we were stuck in. Amen.


Watterson, Bill The Revenge of the Baby-Sat Kansas City: Andrews and McMeel, 1991, p. 61.

Stuck in the Middle


And David lived with Achish at Gath, he and his men, every man with his household, and David with his two wives, Ahinoam of Jezreel, and Abigail of Carmel, Nabal’s widow.

Now David and his men went up and made raids against the Geshurites, the Girzites, and the Amalekites, for these were the inhabitants of the land from of old, as far as Shur, to the land of Egypt. And David would strike the land and would leave neither man nor woman alive, but would take away the sheep, the oxen, the donkeys, the camels, and the garments, and come back to Achish. When Achish asked, “Where have you made a raid today?” David would say, “Against the Negeb of Judah,” or, “Against the Negeb of the Jerahmeelites,” or, “Against the Negeb of the Kenites.” And David would leave neither man nor woman alive to bring news to Gath, thinking, “lest they should tell about us and say, ‘So David has done.’” Such was his custom all the while he lived in the country of the Philistines. And Achish trusted David, thinking, “He has made himself an utter stench to his people Israel; therefore he shall always be my servant.”

In those days the Philistines gathered their forces for war, to fight against Israel. And Achish said to David, “Understand that you and your men are to go out with me in the army.” David said to Achish, “Very well, you shall know what your servant can do.” And Achish said to David, “Very well, I will make you my bodyguard for life.” I Samuel 27:3, 8-12, 28:1-2 ESV

Who shall ascend the hill of the Lord?
And who shall stand in his holy place?
He who has clean hands and a pure heart,
who does not lift up his soul to what is false
and does not swear deceitfully.

Lift up your heads, O gates!
And be lifted up, O ancient doors,
that the King of glory may come in.
Who is this King of glory?
The Lord, strong and mighty,
the Lord, mighty in battle!
Lift up your heads, O gates!
And lift them up, O ancient doors,
that the King of glory may come in.
Who is this King of glory?
The Lord of hosts,
he is the King of glory! Psalm 24:3-4, 7-10 ESV


Archie had a serious problem. He had two girlfriends, Betty and Veronica. He liked both of them, and they were very jealous of each other. One day he made a mistake and made a date with both of them at the same time! He didn’t want either one to get mad at him for canceling a date, so he tried to spend time with both of them, running back and forth from one to the other. First he was with Veronica, then he said he had to go check his car for something. But instead he ran to be with Betty. After he was with Betty for a little while, he made some excuse and then ran back to Veronica. He really wasn’t being fair or loyal to either of his girlfriends with his dishonesty!

David got himself into a similar situation, but much worse. He had run away from Saul and gone to live in the land of the Philistines, and made friends with a king of one of the cities. David and his men went on raiding parties against the enemies of Israel, but David always lied to King Achish about what he had been doing. He actually said that he had been raiding his own people of Israel! Achish thought he could trust David to be on his side. When the Philistines mustered their forces against Israel, Achish told David he expected him and his men to join the Philistines in the battle. David promised to do that. How could he promise to fight against his own people? How could he be expected to join the enemies of his people? David’s dishonesty had gotten him into serious trouble.

God expects his people to be fair and honest and pure in heart. Only those who are pure can come into his presence. But we are sometimes like David. We are dishonest or do things to take care of ourselves, even if what we do hurts others. We tell lies to stay out of trouble. We don’t deserve to come into God’s presence any more than David did. There’s only one who is pure enough to come into God’s presence, and that’s Jesus. He is the King of Glory, and he came to pay the price for our sins. After he died for us and rose again from the dead, God received him back into his presence. Jesus is at God’s right hand to plead for us, and because of him we can come into the presence of our Heavenly Father.


Dear Jesus, thank you for dying and rising for us so that we can come into God’s presence through you. Amen.


Gladir, George (w), Fernando Ruiz (p), Rudy Lapick (i) “Role Model” Jughead with Archie Digest Magazine #145, December 1998.

Nothing to be Afraid of!


Then Saul fell at once full length on the ground, filled with fear because of the words of Samuel. And there was no strength in him, for he had eaten nothing all day and all night. And the woman came to Saul, and when she saw that he was terrified, she said to him, “Behold, your servant has obeyed you. I have taken my life in my hand and have listened to what you have said to me. Now therefore, you also obey your servant. Let me set a morsel of bread before you; and eat, that you may have strength when you go on your way.” He refused and said, “I will not eat.” But his servants, together with the woman, urged him, and he listened to their words. So he arose from the earth and sat on the bed. Now the woman had a fattened calf in the house, and she quickly killed it, and she took flour and kneaded it and baked unleavened bread of it, and she put it before Saul and his servants, and they ate. Then they rose and went away that night. I Samuel 28:20-25 ESV

You return man to dust
and say, “Return, O children of man!”
For a thousand years in your sight
are but as yesterday when it is past,
or as a watch in the night.

You sweep them away as with a flood; they are like a dream,
like grass that is renewed in the morning:
in the morning it flourishes and is renewed;
in the evening it fades and withers.

For we are brought to an end by your anger;
by your wrath we are dismayed.
You have set our iniquities before you,
our secret sins in the light of your presence.

For all our days pass away under your wrath;
we bring our years to an end like a sigh. Psalm 90:3-9 ESV


Napoleon Bonaparte was once an extremely powerful man. He was a political and military leader for France in the early 1800s. He led many war campaigns in Europe, and for a number of years he was very successful. People in Europe were afraid of him. Children in England were sometimes told that they had to be good, or “Boney” would get them. But Napoleon was finally defeated by British troops in the battle of Waterloo, and the British sent him to an island called Saint Helena off the coast of Africa. He was not well treated while in exile, and he became weak and sick, and eventually died. At the end of his life Napoleon was nothing to be afraid of; he was just a weak prisoner.

The medium of Endor had been afraid of Saul. He had been a powerful king, and he had made her business illegal. If he had found her in the past, he might have put her to death or driven her out of the country. But now the medium saw that she had nothing to be afraid of. Saul was only a weak man, terribly afraid of death and of the Philistine army. He was too upset to eat, even though he would need all his strength to face the battle the next day. The medium felt sorry for Saul. He was a frightened, hungry, weak man, and she gave him a good meal before he left.

Sometimes we are afraid of people or situations that seem to have to power to hurt us. But we have something neither Saul nor the medium had. We have God on our side, and we don’t ever have to be afraid. Even the worst of problems, death and all the powers of darkness, are nothing to be afraid of. Jesus defeated them for us when he died on the cross and rose again from the dead. He took away all their power over us. We are safe in Jesus’ care, and he will always be with us to help us with the problems that face us and make us afraid.


Dear Jesus, thank you for defeating all the things that had power over us to hurt us. Please be with us and help us every day. Amen.



No Hope


Then Samuel said to Saul, “Why have you disturbed me by bringing me up?” Saul answered, “I am in great distress, for the Philistines are warring against me, and God has turned away from me and answers me no more, either by prophets or by dreams. Therefore I have summoned you to tell me what I shall do.” And Samuel said, “Why then do you ask me, since the Lord has turned from you and become your enemy? The Lord has done to you as he spoke by me, for the Lord has torn the kingdom out of your hand and given it to your neighbor, David. Because you did not obey the voice of the Lord and did not carry out his fierce wrath against Amalek, therefore the Lord has done this thing to you this day. Moreover, the Lord will give Israel also with you into the hand of the Philistines, and tomorrow you and your sons shall be with me. The Lord will give the army of Israel also into the hand of the Philistines.” I Samuel 28:15-19 ESV

Remember that you were at that time separated from Christ, alienated from the commonwealth of Israel and strangers to the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world. But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ. Ephesians 1:12-13 ESV


“Abandon hope all ye who enter here.” This line comes from a poem about hell, and it is inscribed above the Traitors’ Gate at the Tower of London. The Traitors’ Gate was built over the water of the Thames River, and the way to get through the gate was by boat. This kept a prisoner from escaping or being rescued as he or she was being brought into the tower, so it was used for important political prisoners. Many noble or royal prisoners have been kept in the Tower of London, including two of Henry VIII’s wives. The tower is so strong that it is probably impossible to escape from it, and people who have been kept prisoner there were often tortured or put to death. When they came into the tower through the Traitors’ Gate, they knew they had no hope.

When the spirit who seemed to be Samuel spoke to Saul, he didn’t give him any hope. Saul had become God’s enemy, and without God there is no hope, but instead there is only death and horror. The evil spirit told Saul that the Philistines were going to win the battle the next day, and that he and his sons would die. Trying to reach Samuel hadn’t done Saul any good, because God had turned away from Saul. There was no good news for him in his trouble.

We were once God’s enemies, and we had no hope. God didn’t leave us without any hope or help, but instead he sent Jesus to bring us back to himself. Jesus died to take the penalty for our sins, and we have peace with God because of him. We can go to God with our troubles and know that he hears us and cares for us. He will forgive our sins for Jesus’ sake and help us with our problems in the way that is best. We can hear God speak to us through his word, the Bible, and be sure of his love for us in Jesus.


Dear Heavenly Father, thank you for sending Jesus to give us hope and a new life with you. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.