Pride goes before destruction,
a haughty spirit before a fall.
- Proverbs 16:18
Whatever mission Saul sent him on, David was so successful that Saul gave him a high rank in the army. This pleased all the troops, and Saul’s officers as well.
When the men were returning home after David had killed the Philistine, the women came out from all the towns of Israel to meet King Saul with singing and dancing, with joyful songs and with timbrels and lyres. As they danced, they sang:
“Saul has slain his thousands,
and David his tens of thousands.”
Saul was very angry; this refrain displeased him greatly. “They have credited David with tens of thousands,” he thought, “but me with only thousands. What more can he get but the kingdom?” And from that time on Saul kept a close eye on David.
The next day an evil spirit from God came forcefully on Saul. He was prophesying in his house, while David was playing the lyre, as he usually did. Saul had a spear in his hand and he hurled it, saying to himself, “I’ll pin David to the wall.” But David eluded him twice.
- I Samuel 18:5-11
Search me, God, and know my heart;
test me and know my anxious thoughts.
See if there is any offensive way in me,
and lead me in the way everlasting.
- Psalm 139:23-24
“David, king of ancient Israel, found himself in the midst of a confused national situation. His kingdom was torn by internal strife. Slave hated master; master hated slave. People blamed the government, and government blamed the people. David looked about him and saw that every man thought himself perfect. Each individual placed blame upon other individuals. David knew that if sinful pride continued to increase, his nation would collapse spiritually. He knew that economic depression, moral disintegration, or military defeat inevitably follow spiritual decline. So David turned to God, and it was revealed to him by the Spirit of God that the spiritual tide of his nation could rise no higher than the spiritual level of his own heart. So he fell on his knees in utter humility and prayed.”
- Billy Graham, Day by Day with Billy Graham, (August 1)
When Billy Graham wrote this, he was not being prophetic for our present age. I do not know if Billy Graham could have imagined the total depravity in which the swamp in Washington, DC has sunk.
No, the book of devotions from which this devotion was quoted was published in 1976. He credits many sources in the book and Billy Graham could have used some of his answers to people’s questions from his long-running newspaper column, more Christian inspiration than “advice.” But what was happening in 1976?
Over the previous years, the USA went through dark days as the Watergate break-in was discovered, the subsequent cover-up, the resignation of Richard Nixon, and the aftermath of total distrust of anyone who was in politics, in any party. In 1976, Gerald Ford was defeated by Jimmy Carter in the presidential election. It seemed that the country saw this homespun hero from Georgia with the initials “JC,” and who loved Jesus Christ, as being some kind of savior. They were mistaken.
Four years later, Carter was defeated by Ronald Reagan. And for twelve years, a great deal of stability reigned. The people forgot their distaste and distrust of politicians. But in 1976 and the previous two years when Billy Graham may have written the devotion, it was a sign of present times that he described, although Billy Graham was attributing it to Biblical times, when an evil spirit came upon King Saul and King Saul tried to kill David. Rather than defeat their mutual enemy, the Philistines, Saul went all over Judah trying to find David who went into hiding. That produced about the same problem that Jimmy Carter had in 1980 with hostages being held in Iran, and Carter focused on getting the hostages out rather than campaigning against Reagan. Reagan might have won either way, but as Saul was distracted, so was Carter.
I know that Carter’s lack of campaigning is after this book was written, but it is all part of the past that the present craziness wants to remove from our history books rather than learn from.
In the mid70s, the USA was starting to get fed up with the church. The Jesus Movement, where the Holy Spirit poured out upon people all over the nation, was over. And in that one fact, it seemed to leave the church in a vacuum, with the life being sucked out of it. Sure, people went to church. People were being saved, even on the street corners, but much of the established denominations seemed to go through the motions, lifeless. New denominations were formed. Non-denominational churches became the rage. As Jesus said on Palm Sunday, if the people don’t cheer, God will raise up the rocks to do it. But while the evangelicals were praising, the traditional churches seemed to be turning into rocks.
And now, what does the USA need to do to unify the nation? The Dems promise unity under a secular socialism, void of God, void of freedom, void of money in the pocket with higher taxes, but unity can be restored through totalitarian oppression. The Republicans would not do much better if they had complete control, and at times you wonder what their long range goals are, although their platform has never really changed in a long time – less taxes, less government interference with people’s pursuit of happiness, and slow, steady growth. If you look at the voting record for the past 50-60 years, the population gets tired and bored with a little growth or a total distrust of who is in the White House. They get greedy and then in a few years recognize their mistake.
But what has not happened has been what David did, in all humility, he got on his knees and prayed. It warmed my heart to see prayer meetings return to the White House (although the media attacked those who were in the meeting) and prayer rugs removed, but the humble prayer on one’s knees has not been evidenced.
Billy Graham said it best. “So David turned to God, and it was revealed to him by the Spirit of God that the spiritual tide of his nation could rise no higher than the spiritual level of his own heart. So he fell on his knees in utter humility and prayed.”
Do we have a humble heart who can lead us back from the brink of self-destruction?
Soli Deo Gloria. Only to God be the Glory.