All He Wants Is You
In his book, All I Want Is You, Bishop Sandy Millar describes attending a conference in California some years ago at which he saw the Spirit of God working in powerful ways. When it was over, he went for a long walk along the coast. He writes, ‘As I was walking I was caught up with the excitement of all that lay ahead and the thrill of the Spirit of God. I was saying, “Lord, I will give you anything you want… I will do anything you want me to do.”’
Sandy continues, ‘I can honestly claim to have only heard the Lord speak about three times in this way, but as clearly as I have ever heard him speak, he said, “All I want is you”… It was the most humbling thing… He can do anything he likes. But all he wants is you.’
For the director of music. With stringed instruments. Of David.
1 Hear my cry, O God;
listen to my prayer.
2 From the ends of the earth I call to you,
I call as my heart grows faint;
lead me to the rock that is higher than I.
3 For you have been my refuge,
a strong tower against the foe.
4 I long to dwell in your tent forever
and take refuge in the shelter of your wings.
5 For you, God, have heard my vows;
you have given me the heritage of those who fear your name.
6 Increase the days of the king’s life,
his years for many generations.
7 May he be enthroned in God’s presence forever;
appoint your love and faithfulness to protect him.
8 Then I will ever sing in praise of your name
and fulfill my vows day after day.
Be led by God
Do you ever find yourself overwhelmed by all the issues you face in life? David was ‘overwhelmed and fainting’ (v.2, AMP).
He was a leader (‘the King’, v.6). Those who lead others need themselves to be led by God. This prayer is applicable to us all. He cried out to God to listen to his prayer and to lead him (vv.1–2).
Above all, this prayer is a prayer for protection. There are times when we want to run and hide. God provides us with ‘a place to get away from it all’ (v.3, MSG). He is a ‘safe-house’ (v.4, MSG). He provides us with physical protection of rock-like strength (v.2), the emotional protection of his arms around us (v.4) and the spiritual protection of ‘your love and faithfulness’ (v.7).
Dispute Over Whose Children Jesus’ Opponents Are
31 To the Jews who had believed him, Jesus said, “If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. 32 Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”
33 They answered him, “We are Abraham’s descendants and have never been slaves of anyone. How can you say that we shall be set free?”
34 Jesus replied, “Very truly I tell you, everyone who sins is a slave to sin. 35 Now a slave has no permanent place in the family, but a son belongs to it forever. 36 So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed. 37 I know that you are Abraham’s descendants. Yet you are looking for a way to kill me, because you have no room for my word. 38 I am telling you what I have seen in the Father’s presence, and you are doing what you have heard from your father.”
39 “Abraham is our father,” they answered.
“If you were Abraham’s children,” said Jesus, “then you would do what Abraham did. 40 As it is, you are looking for a way to kill me, a man who has told you the truth that I heard from God. Abraham did not do such things. 41 You are doing the works of your own father.”
“We are not illegitimate children,” they protested. “The only Father we have is God himself.”
42 Jesus said to them, “If God were your Father, you would love me, for I have come here from God. I have not come on my own; God sent me. 43 Why is my language not clear to you? Because you are unable to hear what I say. 44 You belong to your father, the devil, and you want to carry out your father’s desires. He was a murderer from the beginning, not holding to the truth, for there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks his native language, for he is a liar and the father of lies. 45 Yet because I tell the truth, you do not believe me! 46 Can any of you prove me guilty of sin? If I am telling the truth, why don’t you believe me? 47 Whoever belongs to God hears what God says. The reason you do not hear is that you do not belong to God.”
Jesus’ Claims About Himself
48 The Jews answered him, “Aren’t we right in saying that you are a Samaritan and demon-possessed?”
49 “I am not possessed by a demon,” said Jesus, “but I honour my Father and you dishonour me. 50 I am not seeking glory for myself; but there is one who seeks it, and he is the judge. 51 Very truly I tell you, whoever obeys my word will never see death.”
52 At this they exclaimed, “Now we know that you are demon-possessed! Abraham died and so did the prophets, yet you say that whoever obeys your word will never taste death. 53 Are you greater than our father Abraham? He died, and so did the prophets. Who do you think you are?”
54 Jesus replied, “If I glorify myself, my glory means nothing. My Father, whom you claim as your God, is the one who glorifies me. 55 Though you do not know him, I know him. If I said I did not, I would be a liar like you, but I do know him and obey his word. 56 Your father Abraham rejoiced at the thought of seeing my day; he saw it and was glad.”
57 “You are not yet fifty years old,” they said to him, “and you have seen Abraham!”
58 “Very truly I tell you,” Jesus answered, “before Abraham was born, I am!” 59 At this, they picked up stones to stone him, but Jesus hid himself, slipping away from the temple grounds.
Be liberated by Jesus
Nelson Mandela spoke about a prison guard who said to him, ‘Do you know that I have the power to have you killed?’ Mandela responded, ‘Do you not know that I have the power to go to my death freely?’
Do you want to live a life of true freedom? Jesus is the great liberator. If Jesus ‘liberates you then you are really and unquestionably free’ (v.36, AMP).
But who is this Jesus? (vv.12–59). Indeed, Jesus is asked that very question, ‘Who do you think you are?’ (v.53). His answer points to his unique relationship with his Father. It culminates with the extraordinary claim, ‘before Abraham was born, I am!’ (v.58). This was exactly the same way that God had revealed himself to Moses at the burning bush (Exodus 3:14). Jesus uses language that only God could use. His opponents pick up stones to stone him for blasphemy (John 8:59).
Although Jesus’ relationship with his Father was unique, through Jesus you, too, can know God. The relationship brings freedom to your life. But what does this freedom mean?
Jesus says that to know him is to know the truth, and that ‘the truth will set you free’ (v.32). In Judaism, the truth was the law; and the study of, and adherence to, the law made a person free. Jesus says, ‘If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples’ (v.31).
Christians are sometimes accused of being narrow-minded or anti-intellectual – as contrasted with those who call themselves ‘free thinkers’. Jesus says that, in fact, the opposite is the case. Following Jesus is the way of intellectual freedom and integrity.
Truth is revealed by God. Jesus is ‘the truth’ (14:6). He is God’s ultimate revelation. Knowing the truth is not about assenting to propositions, but about knowing a person. Knowing Jesus broadens your mind, increases your depth of insight and widens your scope of understanding. To live in truth is to live in a relationship of love with Jesus who is the truth.
This does not mean that we have all the answers but that we have a true framework of thinking. Scientific laws provide a framework that gives freedom to investigate in the physical realm. God’s revelation provides the framework that gives intellectual freedom to investigate in the spiritual realm. Belief leads to understanding.
The response to Jesus’ words were, ‘We are Abraham’s descendants and have never been slaves of anyone. How can you say that we shall be set free?’ (8:33). But Jesus replied, ‘I tell you the truth, everyone who sins is a slave to sin’ (v.34). To sin is to be a slave to our compulsions, our addictions, our need for power and admiration, a slave to what others think of us, a slave to the fear of others. Without Jesus Christ, all of us are slaves to sin. But, ‘if the Son liberates you, then you are really and unquestionably free’ (v.36, AMP).
Freedom from shame
Jesus sets you free from guilt and shame. He died so that you could be forgiven and your guilt and shame could be taken away.
Freedom from addiction
He sets you free from addiction – being ‘a slave to sin’ (v.34). On the cross the power of addiction was broken. Although you may still fall from time to time, the power of the addiction to sin is broken when Jesus sets you free. While some may receive complete freedom from a specific addiction when they come to Jesus, for others it may be a longer process.
Freedom from fear
Jesus sets you free from fear. He came so that ‘by his death he might destroy him who holds the power of death – that is, the devil – and free those who all their lives were held in slavery by their fear of death’ (Hebrews 2:14–15). Jesus says here, ‘I tell you the truth, whoever keeps my word will never see death’ (John 8:51).
Death is not the end for those whom Jesus has set free. Rather it is the gateway to heaven. When Jesus sets you free from the fear of death, he also sets you free potentially from all other fears.
Freedom to know God
Jesus sets you free to have a relationship with God like his own. Jesus is the supreme example of a person who is led by God. He says of himself, ‘I heard from God’ (v.40). But he also goes on to say, ‘Whoever belongs to God hears what God says’ (v.47). It is possible for us all to hear from God.
Jesus says, ‘I know him’ (v.55). He makes it possible for you to know God.
Freedom to be yourself
Rather than attempting to be a second-rate version of someone else Jesus sets you free to be your true self as God intended you to be.
Freedom to love
Jesus sets you free to love (the opposite of the self-centredness of sin).
He sets you free intellectually, morally and emotionally. This is true freedom: ‘… if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed’ (v.36).
The Israelites Punish the Benjamites
20 Then all Israel from Dan to Beersheba and from the land of Gilead came together as one and assembled before the Lord in Mizpah. 2 The leaders of all the people of the tribes of Israel took their places in the assembly of God’s people, four hundred thousand men armed with swords. 3 (The Benjamites heard that the Israelites had gone up to Mizpah.) Then the Israelites said, “Tell us how this awful thing happened.”
4 So the Levite, the husband of the murdered woman, said, “I and my concubine came to Gibeah in Benjamin to spend the night. 5 During the night the men of Gibeah came after me and surrounded the house, intending to kill me. They raped my concubine, and she died. 6 I took my concubine, cut her into pieces and sent one piece to each region of Israel’s inheritance, because they committed this lewd and outrageous act in Israel. 7 Now, all you Israelites, speak up and tell me what you have decided to do. ”
8 All the men rose up together as one, saying, “None of us will go home. No, not one of us will return to his house. 9 But now this is what we’ll do to Gibeah: We’ll go up against it in the order decided by casting lots. 10 We’ll take ten men out of every hundred from all the tribes of Israel, and a hundred from a thousand, and a thousand from ten thousand, to get provisions for the army. Then, when the army arrives at Gibeah in Benjamin, it can give them what they deserve for this outrageous act done in Israel.” 11 So all the Israelites got together and united as one against the city.
12 The tribes of Israel sent messengers throughout the tribe of Benjamin, saying, “What about this awful crime that was committed among you? 13 Now turn those wicked men of Gibeah over to us so that we may put them to death and purge the evil from Israel. ”
But the Benjamites would not listen to their fellow Israelites. 14 From their towns they came together at Gibeah to fight against the Israelites. 15 At once the Benjamites mobilized twenty-six thousand swordsmen from their towns, in addition to seven hundred able young men from those living in Gibeah. 16 Among all these soldiers there were seven hundred select troops who were left-handed, each of whom could sling a stone at a hair and not miss.
17 Israel, apart from Benjamin, mustered four hundred thousand swordsmen, all of them fit for battle.
18 The Israelites went up to Bethel and inquired of God. They said, “Who of us is to go up first to fight against the Benjamites?”
The Lord replied, “Judah shall go first.”
19 The next morning the Israelites got up and pitched camp near Gibeah. 20 The Israelites went out to fight the Benjamites and took up battle positions against them at Gibeah. 21 The Benjamites came out of Gibeah and cut down twenty-two thousand Israelites on the battlefield that day. 22 But the Israelites encouraged one another and again took up their positions where they had stationed themselves the first day. 23 The Israelites went up and wept before the Lord until evening, and they inquired of the Lord. They said, “Shall we go up again to fight against the Benjamites, our fellow Israelites?”
The Lord answered, “Go up against them.”
24 Then the Israelites drew near to Benjamin the second day. 25 This time, when the Benjamites came out from Gibeah to oppose them, they cut down another eighteen thousand Israelites, all of them armed with swords.
26 Then all the Israelites, the whole army, went up to Bethel, and there they sat weeping before the Lord. They fasted that day until evening and presented burnt offerings and fellowship offerings to the Lord. 27 And the Israelites inquired of the Lord. (In those days the ark of the covenant of God was there, 28 with Phinehas son of Eleazar, the son of Aaron, ministering before it.) They asked, “Shall we go up again to fight against the Benjamites, our fellow Israelites, or not?”
The Lord responded, “Go, for tomorrow I will give them into your hands. ”
29 Then Israel set an ambush around Gibeah. 30 They went up against the Benjamites on the third day and took up positions against Gibeah as they had done before. 31 The Benjamites came out to meet them and were drawn away from the city. They began to inflict casualties on the Israelites as before, so that about thirty men fell in the open field and on the roads—the one leading to Bethel and the other to Gibeah. 32 While the Benjamites were saying, “We are defeating them as before,” the Israelites were saying, “Let’s retreat and draw them away from the city to the roads.”
33 All the men of Israel moved from their places and took up positions at Baal Tamar, and the Israelite ambush charged out of its place on the west of Gibeah. 34 Then ten thousand of Israel’s able young men made a frontal attack on Gibeah. The fighting was so heavy that the Benjamites did not realize how near disaster was. 35 The Lord defeated Benjamin before Israel, and on that day the Israelites struck down 25,100 Benjamites, all armed with swords. 36 Then the Benjamites saw that they were beaten.
Now the men of Israel had given way before Benjamin, because they relied on the ambush they had set near Gibeah. 37 Those who had been in ambush made a sudden dash into Gibeah, spread out and put the whole city to the sword. 38 The Israelites had arranged with the ambush that they should send up a great cloud of smoke from the city, 39 and then the Israelites would counterattack.
The Benjamites had begun to inflict casualties on the Israelites (about thirty), and they said, “We are defeating them as in the first battle.” 40 But when the column of smoke began to rise from the city, the Benjamites turned and saw the whole city going up in smoke. 41 Then the Israelites counterattacked, and the Benjamites were terrified, because they realized that disaster had come on them. 42 So they fled before the Israelites in the direction of the wilderness, but they could not escape the battle. And the Israelites who came out of the towns cut them down there. 43 They surrounded the Benjamites, chased them and easily overran them in the vicinity of Gibeah on the east. 44 Eighteen thousand Benjamites fell, all of them valiant fighters. 45 As they turned and fled toward the wilderness to the rock of Rimmon, the Israelites cut down five thousand men along the roads. They kept pressing after the Benjamites as far as Gidom and struck down two thousand more.
46 On that day twenty-five thousand Benjamite swordsmen fell, all of them valiant fighters. 47 But six hundred of them turned and fled into the wilderness to the rock of Rimmon, where they stayed four months. 48 The men of Israel went back to Benjamin and put all the towns to the sword, including the animals and everything else they found. All the towns they came across they set on fire.
Wives for the Benjamites
21 The men of Israel had taken an oath at Mizpah: “Not one of us will give his daughter in marriage to a Benjamite.”
2 The people went to Bethel, where they sat before God until evening, raising their voices and weeping bitterly. 3 “Lord, God of Israel,” they cried, “why has this happened to Israel? Why should one tribe be missing from Israel today?”
4 Early the next day the people built an altar and presented burnt offerings and fellowship offerings.
5 Then the Israelites asked, “Who from all the tribes of Israel has failed to assemble before the Lord?” For they had taken a solemn oath that anyone who failed to assemble before the Lord at Mizpah was to be put to death.
6 Now the Israelites grieved for the tribe of Benjamin, their fellow Israelites. “Today one tribe is cut off from Israel,” they said. 7 “How can we provide wives for those who are left, since we have taken an oath by the Lord not to give them any of our daughters in marriage?” 8 Then they asked, “Which one of the tribes of Israel failed to assemble before the Lord at Mizpah?” They discovered that no one from Jabesh Gilead had come to the camp for the assembly. 9 For when they counted the people, they found that none of the people of Jabesh Gilead were there.
10 So the assembly sent twelve thousand fighting men with instructions to go to Jabesh Gilead and put to the sword those living there, including the women and children. 11 “This is what you are to do,” they said. “Kill every male and every woman who is not a virgin. ” 12 They found among the people living in Jabesh Gilead four hundred young women who had never slept with a man, and they took them to the camp at Shiloh in Canaan.
13 Then the whole assembly sent an offer of peace to the Benjamites at the rock of Rimmon. 14 So the Benjamites returned at that time and were given the women of Jabesh Gilead who had been spared. But there were not enough for all of them.
15 The people grieved for Benjamin, because the Lord had made a gap in the tribes of Israel. 16 And the elders of the assembly said, “With the women of Benjamin destroyed, how shall we provide wives for the men who are left? 17 The Benjamite survivors must have heirs,” they said, “so that a tribe of Israel will not be wiped out. 18 We can’t give them our daughters as wives, since we Israelites have taken this oath: ‘Cursed be anyone who gives a wife to a Benjamite.’ 19 But look, there is the annual festival of the Lord in Shiloh, which lies north of Bethel , east of the road that goes from Bethel to Shechem, and south of Lebonah.”
20 So they instructed the Benjamites, saying, “Go and hide in the vineyards 21 and watch. When the young women of Shiloh come out to join in the dancing, rush from the vineyards and each of you seize one of them to be your wife. Then return to the land of Benjamin. 22 When their fathers or brothers complain to us, we will say to them, ‘Do us the favour of helping them, because we did not get wives for them during the war. You will not be guilty of breaking your oath because you did not give your daughters to them.’”
23 So that is what the Benjamites did. While the young women were dancing, each man caught one and carried her off to be his wife. Then they returned to their inheritance and rebuilt the towns and settled in them.
24 At that time the Israelites left that place and went home to their tribes and clans, each to his own inheritance.
25 In those days Israel had no king; everyone did as they saw fit.
Be loyal to God
As the account of this chaotic period in Israel’s history comes to an end in the book of Judges, the writer concludes: ‘At that time there was no king in Israel. People did whatever they felt like doing’ (21:25, MSG). God had given them a political system based on loyalty to the one God. But that loyalty was short-lived and the whole system began to dissolve.
As we will see when we look at the book of 1 Samuel, the provision of having a king in Israel was not seen as wholly positive. Yet it was preferable to this chaotic state of affairs where everyone did just ‘whatever they felt like doing’ (Judges 21:25, MSG).
Even in the midst of the chaos, there were moments when the people of God ‘enquired of God’ (20:18). They asked to be led by God. The lesson of staying in constant communication and consultation with God is so prevalent throughout the Old Testament. If Israel made a mistake here, it was that they did not ask God whether or not they should go into battle – they only asked how the battle was to be waged.
We also learn that even if God is behind a scheme, you may suffer great setbacks, as the people of God did here. Even though God promised victory, there were casualties along the way. If this is true of the physical battles they faced, it is certainly true of the spiritual battles that you face. Do not be surprised by setbacks. It does not necessarily mean that you are not being led by God. The lesson of the book of Judges is that, whatever happens, stay loyal to God. All he wants is you.
'Lead me to the rock that is higher than I.'
When we feel we're in the midst of a difficult situation, we need to get to the rock that is higher than we are. God can change your perspective on a complex situation that we’re facing today. And there may be a situation, even today, where God can give you fresh revelation.
Verse of the Day
‘… if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed’.
Sign up now to receive Bible in One Year in your inbox each morning. You’ll get one email each day.
Subscribe and listen to Bible in One Year delivered to your favourite podcast app everyday.
Sandy Millar, All I Want is You, (London: Alpha International, 2005) p.21
Unless otherwise stated, Scripture quotations taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version Anglicised, Copyright © 1979, 1984, 2011 Biblica, formerly International Bible Society. Used by permission of Hodder & Stoughton Publishers, an Hachette UK company. All rights reserved. ‘NIV’ is a registered trademark of Biblica. UK trademark number 1448790.
Scripture quotations marked (AMP) taken from the Amplified® Bible, Copyright © 1954, 1958, 1962, 1964, 1965, 1987 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission. (www.Lockman.org)
Scripture marked (MSG) taken from The Message. Copyright © 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 2000, 2001, 2002. Used by permission of NavPress Publishing Group.