II Samuel 14 tells the story of Joab using a woman to convince David to bring back his son Absalom who had fled to Geshur after murdering his brother Amnon. The woman said to King David, “God devises means so that the banished one will not remain an outcast.” That really expresses the heart of God. After God banished Adam and Eve from the Garden, He still maintained a relationship with them. Regardless of where our choices and circumstances have taken us, God’s heart for us is that we no longer be strangers to Him. He yearns to love us.

Jesus had raised his good friend, Lazarus, from the dead. The Pharisees were more concerned about protecting their power and control than about standing for truth or the good of their people. They decided they needed to kill Jesus because people were believing in Jesus and they were afraid the Romans would take away their influence and power (John 11:48). Next they made plans to murder Lazarus because many Jews were believing in Jesus because of him (12:10). These same people preached the Ten Commandments! At what point will we commit evil to protect our own power and influence?

Today I read about David and Goliath. I was impressed with the trash talk used first by Goliath and then by David. Goliath used trash talk against King Saul and the whole army of Israel and he succeeded in demoralizing them. David approaches Goliath without armor or spear. Goliath’s trash talk has no impact on David. David returns fire with fire. He tells him he comes in the name of God. David tells him he will cut off his head and feed the carcasses of the Philistines to the birds of the air. David’s confidence and courage win the day.

As I read I Samuel 1 I was intrigued by Hannah’s husband, Elkanah. He lived when having two wives was permitted and he did—even though having two wives was never wise! He was faithful to worship God. Elkanah loved Hannah. He comforted his barren wife, “Am I not more to you than ten sons?” He also gave Hannah freedom to make a lot of choices usually reserved for the husband in that culture. When she gave birth to Samuel, he even allowed her to give him to the Lord—thus depriving Elkanah of raising his firstborn son.

Today I thoroughly enjoyed reading about Manoah in Judges 13. Unlike so many other Biblical angelic visits and miraculous conceptions, both Manoah and his wife believed without hesitation. Manoah just wanted more information from the angel about how to raise Samson. When the angel returns, he patiently waits for Manoah’s wife to find Manoah. Manoah asks the angel’s name and the angel says “It is beyond understanding” or too wonderful to grasp the full meaning of it. The name of God—so awesome! Then, realizing he has seen God, Manoah panics, but his wife reasons with him.

I knew about Caleb. I knew about Othniel. I did not know Othniel was Caleb’s younger brother (Judges 3:9-11). The influence of Caleb following God wholeheartedly made a difference in Othniel being used of God as the first leader after Joshua died and the first judge of Israel who led them in victory over Moab and in peace for forty years. But spiritual influence is not enough alone. The Spirit of the Lord came upon him to position as Israel’s judge and war leader. Sometimes the Holy Spirit calls us to war because war is often the means to peace.

Caleb was 40 when God sent him and 11 other spies to check out Canaan. Caleb and Joshua believed God could give them the land. The others spread a bad report and discouraged Israel. Caleb and Joshua spent the next 40 years in the wilderness waiting for that generation to pass away. Caleb did not get bitter. An old man of 85 years, Caleb still wants to possess the land Moses had promised to him. And he does. Our Bibles tell us Caleb followed the Lord wholeheartedly. For 45 years Caleb kept his heart on God patiently waiting. Amazing.