devotional: God's x-factor

(1 Samuel 16:14-23)

Saul is being tormented by a harmful spirit, and instead of calling in the priest with the most authority, or resorting to some other form of aid, Saul’s servants advise him to hold a talent competition.

They were looking for a man with the X-factor…

One skillful in playing the lyre.

Then one of the servants speaks up and states that he not only knows a man who has this X-factor but one who has many desirable and impressive traits.

“Behold, I have seen a son of Jesse the Bethlehemite, who is skillful in

playing, a man of valor, a man of war, prudent in speech, and a man of good presence, and the LORD is with him.” – 1 Samuel 16:18

This “son of Jesse” was David, who would later become King David, the sweet psalmist of Israel (2 Samuel 23:1).

David had many desirable and impressive traits, but there was one distinct factor that set him apart from the rest.

It wasn’t the skillful command of his instrument.

It wasn’t his prudence in speech.

It wasn’t his image and charisma.

It was this...

The LORD was with him. This is God's X-factor.

Were there others in the talent pool that were more skilled and experienced?

Probably so, but the God of the universe, the Great I AM, was with David. And if God was with David as he walked the earth tending to sheep, practicing on the lyre, and leading a nation, we can be assured that God is with us in whatever stage of life we are currently in.

You may be discouraged by the fact that you realize there are others more skillful than you, others who appear to be more experienced, and others who are “ahead of the game.”

Take heart, stop comparing yourself to others, and realize that God is with you just as He was with David. We often think that God’s promises are for everyone else but not us.

If you, like David, are a man or woman after God’s own heart, the promise of God’s presence is with you. Jesus assures the disciples in Matthew 28:20, “And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”

Pursuing a worthy goal, or growth in areas of skill is certainly encouraged, but amidst these pursuits don’t forget that you have this presence factor in your life as a believer.

We need to remember that the grand narrative of the Bible begins and ends with the presence of God permeating all of creation. All of creation was intended to be God’s tabernacle, God’s dwelling place, and the place where God communed with His people. There was no separation, no veil between God and man.

However, as Adam & Eve broke a covenant relationship with God, there was a divide introduced between God and humanity. This divide was represented by the thick veil that was a central part of both the portable tabernacle and the more permanent temples we see in the Scriptures. This veil signified that there was a definitive separation between humanity and God, who sat “enthroned between the cherubim” (2 Samuel 6:2; 1 Kings 19:15; Psalm 80:1).

This great divide, the immeasurable distance between the worshipper and God that sin brought about was shattered at the cross.

We cannot miss the significance of this detail that is included in the Gospel accounts of Jesus’ crucifixion (Matthew 27:51; Mark 15:38; Luke 23:45).

Jesus’ finished work on the cross is the only thing that could close the gap and mend the great divide. It is because of Jesus’ finished work that we can come boldly into the presence of God (Hebrews 4:16).

If we think about this and the realities of Old Testament vs. New Testament worship, not even David, the man after God’s own heart, got to experience unhindered access to God’s presence because of Jesus’ finished work.

Pause and think about that.

In David’s time, the veil was still intact.

We cannot pass by the significance of this. If we do, we risk removing the vital factor of God’s presence out of the equation in our gatherings.

Yet as Moses understood, God’s presence is the very thing that sets us apart from the rest of the world (see Exodus 33:16). This is a theme that is carried into the New Testament as we see the disciples being described as those who had recognizably been in the presence of Jesus.

What if this vital factor marked us? What if people continually took note that we have been with Jesus? I believe if we cultivate this individually, our corporate gatherings will be marked by people exclaiming “God is really among you” as we see in 1 Corinthians 14:25.

So let’s continually cultivate an awareness of His presence in our lives, and let’s not lose sight of the fact that the Lord is with us like He was with David, and with the early disciples.

Let His presence be the distinguishing X-factor that marks your life.

Let’s engage with this together. What helps you cultivate an awareness of God's presence in your life? Leave a comment below and let us know.

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