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Reverencing the God of the Word (Treating God’s Word as God’s) PDF

2 Timothy 2:14-18

The setting of 2 Timothy 2 is with Paul in prison and soon to be executed for the faith. Rome had turned its might against Christianity and against Christians. Timothy himself would someday suffer in prison, according to the book of Hebrews. He was facing an uphill battle. The apostles were being executed and were dying off. The second generation of leaders was going to have to take the lead and deal with a world that was persecuting Christians. Before it had been largely Judaisers who opposed Christians, but now the opposition was Empire- wide. It raised the question for them as to whether Christianity would survive at all. It heightened the importance of having the Truth – truth you were willing to die for as well as live for and what to do with it to pass it on. The whole book of 2 Timothy is really about keeping the faith and making sure what you are passing on is the real deal.

Paul gave Timothy these reasons to endure:

Gospel Reasons to Endure

  • The Eternal King (v. 8)
  • The Unfettered Word (v. 9)
  • Evangelistic Success (v. 10)
  • Certain Reward (v. 11-13)

In light of these things, Paul continues:

14 Remind them of these things, and charge them before God not to quarrel about words, which does no good, but only ruins the hearers. 15 Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who has no need to be ashamed, rightly handling the word of truth. 16 But avoid irreverent babble, for it will lead people into more and more ungodliness, 17 and their talk will spread like gangrene. Among them are Hymenaeus and Philetus, 18 who have swerved from the truth, saying that the resurrection has already happened. They are upsetting the faith of some.

In this portion of God’s Word, Paul actually gives to Timothy the most important key to preserving the truth, to teaching and studying the Word. That’s why I called this message “Reverencing the God of the Word,” or Treating God’s Word as God’s. The Bible is not just a self-help book, a book of philosophy, or a “how-to” encyclopedia, or a book of codes. While it has lots of value on how-to and gives wisdom, ultimately the Bible is a Book given by God that reveals God and that is guarded by God. It is a Book that we are answerable to God for in terms of how we receive it and how we pass it on.

Reverencing the God of the Word

  • Emphasize God-Centered Loyalty (v. 14a)
  • Forbid God-Dismissive Contention (v. 14b)
  • Pursue God-Approved Accuracy (v. 15)
  • Avoid God-Dishonoring Empty Talk (v. 16-18)

 I. Emphasize God-Centered Loyalty (14a)

14 Remind them of these things,

 The thing that starts us off as to how we should approach the Word of God is that we need to reverence the God of the Word. Paul wanted to remind them – to keep them focused on these truths. What truths is he talking about? Paul has just given Timothy gospel reasons to endure, ending with these words:

11 The saying is trustworthy, for: If we have died with him, we will also live with him; 12 if we endure, we will also reign with him; if we deny him, he also will deny us; 13 if we are faithless, he remains faithful—for he cannot deny himself.

Being true to the Word of God and the message of the gospel is not just about academic skill and interpretative technique. It starts deeper than that—with loyalty and sense of accountability to the God of the Word. Ultimately the only thing that keeps a man from caving in to the pressure to back off what God’s Word says or deviate from it for the sake of reducing his risk is this fact: It is the Word of God. This is what helps us receive the Word when it makes us uncomfortable with rebuke and correction (2 Timothy 3:16) of long-held notions and entrenched habits and unbiblical customs. It also protects us from deceptive teaching because our motives remain fixed on God. Most of the deceptions that come along have other motives or agendas driving them. We think, “I’ve got to end up with a certain conclusion or else I’m in trouble. So I deceive myself and others to get there.”

 Teaching that twists the Scriptures rises not just from ignorant, clumsy handling of the Word. More often than not it comes from the pressure of the times or your own group to make the Bible fit prevailing ideas, to achieve predetermined objectives, to promote sectarian causes. This temptation is so strong and so commonly practiced, that people naturally assume there is some other agenda driving how a preacher interprets the Word other than just plain faithfulness to the text. It is very difficult to keep what we see in the text from being skewed by what we bring to the text from our own concerns and situation.

 The best cure I know is remembering I answer to God for faithful handling of His Word, however it may be received or appreciated. We all like for people to receive what we teach and to appreciate it, but that cannot be the chief objective.

 Paul is very sensitive to this when he talked to the believers in Thessalonica. He was coming from Philippi and had already suffered physically from being true to the Word of God. He still has wounds on his body, and he says to them:

For our appeal does not spring from error or impurity or any attempt to deceive, but just as we have been approved by God to be entrusted with the gospel, so we speak, not to please man, but to please God who tests our hearts. For we never came with words of flattery, as you know, nor with a pretext for greed—God is witness. Nor did we seek glory from people, whether from you or from others, though we could have made demands as apostles of Christ. (1 Thessalonians 2:3-6)

 Note what he wrote in 2 Timothy 4:1-5:

I charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who is to judge the living and the dead, and by his appearing and his kingdom: preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching. For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths. As for you, always be sober-minded, endure suffering, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry.

 II. Forbid God-Dismissive Contention (2 Timothy 2:14b)

and charge them before God not to quarrel about words, which does no good, but only ruins the hearers.

To engage in hair-splitting word-battles (literal meaning of the phrase here) over trivialities and side issues (endless genealogies, speculations, debatable applications, issues the Bible does not even address) is common enough in every age, but giving oneself to such activity shows a forgetfulness of the God to whom we answer for keeping the focus where the Bible puts it. Such bogus battles over nothing do substantial harm to people rather than helping them. It does no good, is not useful (has no profit), and ruins people. It overturns, subverts, demoralizes when they are bound up in trivialities because all Scripture is God-breathed and profitable . . . (2 Timothy 3:16)

 It dishonors God because it makes the Christian faith appear to be nothing but foolish fights over nothing that matters. It disillusions many a believer and turns away many a seeker. Contentious men are by definition disqualified from pastoral ministry for this very reason (1 Timothy 3, Titus 1).

 To this day many of the so-called hot-button issues are over debatable opinions that do not matter. We know it doesn’t because God Himself has not made it important in His Word. If we are honoring God’s Word as God’s, we will refuse to violate His Kingship over our lives by engaging in such wars.

 The tragic irony is that those who give themselves to such battles don’t have time or often even the inclination to contend for the faith—the truths and gospel practices that really do matter. If you make little things big, big things seem small. This is really serious because the big things are the main truths that constitute the faith and the gospel, and the main Hero of that gospel is Jesus. Making little things big robs Jesus Christ of His glory.

 III. Pursue God-Approved Accuracy (2 Timothy 2:15)

15 Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who has no need to be ashamed, rightly handling the word of truth.

 Do your best! The King James Version has “study” to show yourself approved unto God. Study meant eager diligence, persistent zeal, making it a priority (not to hit the books trying to learn the material, as you would for a test in school). Profitable Bible teaching takes work, and work takes time.

God is the first One we present ourselves to when we handle His Word. When He tests our work in the Word—and it is real work—we seek His stamp of approval.

We are not to be ashamed before the world for our commitment to the truth of God’s Word, but it would be even worse to end up ashamed before God for our mishandling His Word.

 “Rightly handling the Word of Truth” means cutting straight, as one would plow a furrow in a field, a stonemason squaring off a stone and setting it straight, a tentmaker cutting the fabric, a road builder cutting a straight path for a road so travelers can get directly to their destination.

 IV. Avoid God-Dishonoring Empty Talk (2 Timothy 2:16-18)

16 But avoid irreverent babble, for it will lead people into more and more ungodliness, 17 and their talk will spread like gangrene. Among them are Hymenaeus and Philetus, 18 who have swerved from the truth, saying that the resurrection has already happened. They are upsetting the faith of some.

 Irreverent means common or profane versus sacred and is, therefore, God-dishonoring. Babble is empty talk, somewhat like baby talk – just a bunch of syllables. It is fruitless discussion (secret codes; speculations about the future) regarding what the Bible has not revealed about the future. God spoke plainly to men. You don’t have to find a code. Take God’s Word for what it says.

 Avoid babble — keep turning away from it and don’t waste your time on it.  It leads people into more ungodliness, like someone with a machete chopping down forest growth as they go, leading people further into the jungle of destruction. Ungodliness is not treating God as God. It’s like gangrene or cancer spreading infection and death as it goes. Hymenaeus and Philetus were like this. Paul described Hymenaeus as having made shipwreck of his faith, delivered to Satan that he might learn not to blaspheme. It is unclear why he still has such influence, but apparently he was a leader in false teaching in the area. These men had swerved from the truth. They had missed their aim, missed the mark, gone astray, saying that the resurrection has passed already. Evidently they denied a coming physical resurrection (Paul argues against this view in 1 Corinthians 15), likely claiming that regeneration was all the resurrection anyone would experience (influence of Greek dualism — matter is evil, spirit is good — which led to what became known as Gnosticism—“to know”). Other related teaching where body was devalued led either to strict asceticism or cavalier indulgence in sexual immorality. They were upsetting (turning upside down) the faith of some (like Jesus overturning the tables of the crooked money changers in the temple) rather than strengthening and building people up in their faith. Not only does false teaching misrepresent God and His Truth, it also harms people. The two go together. When people are taught the actual Word of God, it helps people and builds them up. It comes down to this: Treating God’s Word as God’s, or Reverencing the God of the Word.

 Reverencing the God of the Word

(Treating God’s Word as God’s)

  • Emphasize God-Centered Loyalty (14a).
  • Forbid God-Dismissive Contention (14b).
  • Pursue God-Approved Accuracy (15).
  • Avoid God-Dishonoring Empty Talk (16-18).

 

 

Pastor Drew Conley

Hampton Park Baptist Church

Greenville, SC

October 12, 2014

 

 
A House for God PDF

2 Samuel 7:1-17

The last time we looked at Devotion and Disdain:

  • Zealous Celebration (2 Samuel 6:12-15) as David and all Israel worshiped the Lord with offerings, singing, and leaping for joy as they brought the ark of God to Jerusalem to be placed in the tabernacle there. It marked the restoration of true Biblical religion after decades of neglect during the spiritual darkness of Saul’s administration.
  • Grateful Generosity (2 Samuel 6:16-19) David’s worship included generous outpouring toward God and others, not only offering sacrifices to the Lord but supplying food to everyone in Israel as a feast of great joy. Joyful worship produces grateful generosity among God’s people.
  • Blind Contempt (2 Samuel 6:20-23) David’s wife Michal does not participate in this day of worship at all—she is too much like her apostate father Saul to do so. Rather, she observes and critiques from a distance, despising David in her heart. She paints David’s expressive worship as dishonorable, vulgar, even immoral behavior, revealing her cold, wicked heart, and bringing on herself the curse of childlessness. David answered her icy sarcasm by defending his worship as before the Lord not for the sake of impressing others and vowed he would continue to humble himself in self-forgetting worship of the Lord.

The first half of chapter six teaches us to beware zealous worship that disobeys God’s clear commands (Uzzah). The second half, to beware disdain for zealous worship that accords with the Scriptures. The day David and Israel brought the ark of God back into Jerusalem was an extraordinary day of celebration, but a survey of the Scriptures shows that expressive worship is frequently referenced and commanded in God’s Word. Disdaining it, therefore, is just plain wrong.

We have followed the life of David since his anointing. As we have traced his life it has mainly been talking about war. Now those battles are won and the kingdom is established. It moves from a focus on war to a focus on worship. Chapter 7 actually continues the chronicle of David’s passion for worshiping God as He deserves.

Now when the king lived in his house and the Lord had given him rest from all his surrounding enemies, the king said to Nathan the prophet, “See now, I dwell in a house of cedar, but the ark of God dwells in a tent.” And Nathan said to the king, “Go, do all that is in your heart, for the Lord is with you.” But that same night the word of the Lord came to Nathan, “Go and tell my servant David, ‘Thus says the Lord: Would you build me a house to dwell in? I have not lived in a house since the day I brought up the people of Israel from Egypt to this day, but I have been moving about in a tent for my dwelling. In all places where I have moved with all the people of Israel, did I speak a word with any of the judges of Israel, whom I commanded to shepherd my people Israel, saying, “Why have you not built me a house of cedar?”’ Now, therefore, thus you shall say to my servant David, ‘Thus says the Lord of hosts, I took you from the pasture, from following the sheep, that you should be prince over my people Israel. And I have been with you wherever you went and have cut off all your enemies from before you. And I will make for you a great name, like the name of the great ones of the earth. 10 And I will appoint a place for my people Israel and will plant them, so that they may dwell in their own place and be disturbed no more. And violent men shall afflict them no more, as formerly, 11 from the time that I appointed judges over my people Israel. And I will give you rest from all your enemies. Moreover, the Lord declares to you that the Lord will make you a house. 12 When your days are fulfilled and you lie down with your fathers, I will raise up your offspring after you, who shall come from your body, and I will establish his kingdom. 13 He shall build a house for my name, and I will establish the throne of his kingdom forever. 14 I will be to him a father, and he shall be to me a son. When he commits iniquity, I will discipline him with the rod of men, with the stripes of the sons of men, 15 but my steadfast love will not depart from him, as I took it from Saul, whom I put away from before you. 16 And your house and your kingdom shall be made sure forever before me. Your throne shall be established forever.’” 17 In accordance with all these words, and in accordance with all this vision, Nathan spoke to David.

 

A House for God

  • God-Centered Resolve (2 Samuel 7:1-3)
  • God-Revealed Priorities (2 Samuel 7:4-7)
  • God-Given Blessings (2 Samuel 7:8-11)
  • A God-Promised Future (2 Samuel 7:12-16)

I. God-Centered Resolve (2 Samuel 7:1-3)

 Now when the king lived in his house and the Lord had given him rest from all his surrounding enemies, the king said to Nathan the prophet, “See now, I dwell in a house of cedar, but the ark of God dwells in a tent.” And Nathan said to the king, “Go, do all that is in your heart, for the Lord is with you.”

This is the first reference to Nathan the prophet. It is significant that David the warrior-king is hanging out with the prophet. The prophet’s assessment—Yahweh is (clearly) with you. Do all that’s in your heart.

It’s not surprising Nathan responds this way. How rare it is to find a man after God’s own heart anywhere, especially after he has reached the peak of success!

Wealth and rest from war often lead to indulgence and backsliding. But for David, his being established in Jerusalem turned his heart toward God’s honor. He wanted to build God a permanent temple to replace the impermanent tent. It did not seem right to David for his house to be better than God’s.

God would redirect David’s goals, but God honors David’s heart attitude. What is your heart attitude toward God Himself? It is one thing to say you will be faithful to showing up for church services and another thing to actually be walking with God. When you have time and resources, what do you do with them? Where do you actually spend them? Statistics show that when our income goes up our giving goes down. Jesus would say: “Where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.”

Your heart follows whatever you spend time and money on. We tend to think of it the opposite way because what we spend time and money on reveal our hearts, too. If you have a heart for God, give yourself and your resources toward God-centered concerns and you will find your heart grows stronger yet in devotion. Put your resources toward God and your heart will follow. Spend your time and money elsewhere to His neglect, and your heart will wander away. Your resources and your heart belong together.

In an affluent country like ours, it is amazing how many who believe they are devoted to God can offer no evidence of it in what they spend for Him. You may rationalize your neglect a thousand ways with excuses like you can’t afford it, or it’s too inconvenient, or you want to give toward hand-picked needs rather than joining with your church family to help fulfill our mission together. The Scriptures don’t let us off so easily. The Old Testament reveals that it is in times of falling away from the Lord when offerings necessary to the maintenance of worship fall off. In times of revival offerings rise. Those who lead are able to establish the worship of God as it ought to be. Old Testament or New Testament, there is no evidence of genuine worship that withholds from God.

Paul appeals to the lagging Corinthian believers by pointing to the evidence of God’s saving grace in the lives of their poor but generous brothers to the north in Macedonia, and calls on the believers in Corinth to show God’s grace in their own lives, to express the commonality of the saints, to show selfless worship, spiritual growth, genuine love, joyful faith, and to generate grateful praise to God (2 Corinthians 8-9). He told them this was an indicator of their spiritual state. If you are not giving time and money to the Lord your worship needs to go a step further because that’s how we measure what we really care about. What we really care about we give to.

We don’t generally even “tip” God for His blessings on us. Mention the tithe and people cry legalism, as if grace giving should be substantially less than what the Old Testament required and modeled. If every person who claims to be born again in our congregation just gave a tithe of their income, we would be talking about how much more we can do to expand our mission. When God has us, God will have our things.

 

II. God-Revealed Priorities (2 Samuel 7:4-7)

But that same night the word of the Lord came to Nathan, “Go and tell my servant David, ‘Thus says the Lord: Would you build me a house to dwell in? I have not lived in a house since the day I brought up the people of Israel from Egypt to this day, but I have been moving about in a tent for my dwelling. In all places where I have moved with all the people of Israel, did I speak a word with any of the judges of Israel, whom I commanded to shepherd my people Israel, saying, “Why have you not built me a house of cedar?”’

Go tell My servant—imagine God referring to you this way! We think about serving God, but what if God says, “That person is My servant.” What a privilege!

That can and ought to be our privilege.

God’s answer reveals that buildings don’t matter nearly so much to Him as people. Up to this point God never had a permanent structure. He had traveled with His people Israel. That’s why a tent was fine for the time being. Worship happens wherever God and His people meet.

God’s intense concern is that He and people meet. That was one of the terms for the Tabernacle, a meeting place. The important thing is that you are actually meeting with God. That’s what makes it worship. The apostle John describes the incarnation and ministry of Jesus Christ the Word this way:

John 1:14: The Word became flesh and dwelt (tabernacle, pitched his tent) among us, and we have seen (closely observed) His glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.

What we are facilitating is so important. Stephen’s sermon in Acts emphasized this truth. It stung the consciences of those who put all their stock in the temple building instead of walking with God. He chronicled their rebellion against the Savior God who met them wherever they were and noted that no worship building can save a person from that. The point was to be close to God.

How do we respond to the Word of God? To messengers sent from God? To the deliverers appointed by God? Do we have a close fellowship with God or are we more concerned about form, style, or place? Amos the prophet revealed that God considers even “correct” worship blasphemy when it does not come from the heart.

It is possible to offer God what He does not want while withholding what He does. If God doesn’t have you, your projects, programs, service orders, and offerings are hollow praise. He wants you. If he has you, he’ll have your stuff and your time. If he doesn’t have you, what good is the stuff? He owns it all anyway.

It is easy to forget that the church is people, not buildings and things. Those are facilities—they facilitate ministry to people. When we ditch the church, we are ditching the people who are the church. When we think of our service to God as just attending services like theater goers attend plays we are forgetting that we gather to be with one another and to minister to one another before God. You should respond individually and privately to what God is doing in your heart but we gather to worship together and to serve one another in love. That’s why we talk to one another before and after services. It is reverent. We’re trying to catch up on one another’s lives. We are seeking to find needs and to meet them.

It was not the time to build the temple yet, and David was not to be the builder. His son Solomon would be. God designed the tabernacle. He would one day design the Temple, too. And it was beautiful. But the point of the temple would be the same: God loved the people and wanted close fellowship with them.

When we desire to do something for God, like David did, and He shuts the door on it, we sometimes feel as if He has rejected us. But a true servant gladly subjects his personal desires to whatever God wants, even regarding how he serves God and in what way. God turns David down not to withdraw blessing, but to heap blessing on him all the more. Be amazed at what follows!

 

III. God-Given Blessings (2 Samuel 7:8-9a)

David had his role to fulfill, however. God has chosen him to do it and has blessed him to make it possible.

Now, therefore, thus you shall say to my servant David, ‘Thus says the Lord of hosts, I took you from the pasture, from following the sheep, that you should be prince over my people Israel. And I have been with you wherever you went and have cut off all your enemies from before you.

Here begins a long list of what God has done and what God will do. That’s the essential difference between the gospel and religion as usual. Manmade religion focuses on what we can do for God. The gospel focuses on what God has done and will do for us. He refers to Himself as Yahweh of hosts—armies—power to carry out His strategies just as a great general carries out an elaborate battle plan. He reminds David of God’s choice of him from the pasture to lead God’s people. He reminds him of his presence with him and purpose for him as prince over Israel. He recalls that it was the Lord who defeated his enemies and gave David rest.

We need to continually rehearse what the Lord has done for you, especially when you are tempted to think He is denying you something good. Write it down. We need to do that as a church, too. One reason we will celebrate our 75th anniversary in the various ways we are planning is that we don’t want to forget what God has done for us.

God has given you a sufficient track-record of His goodness—biblical history, church history, your history. And the best is yet to come, just as His promises to David about what God will yet do are far and away more numerous than what He had already done. That is your history, too. Make sure you focus on that so you can make the adjustments you need to make when your plans are changed.

 

IV. A God-Promised Future (2 Samuel 7:9b-16)

And I will make for you a great name, like the name of the great ones of the earth. 10 And I will appoint a place for my people Israel and will plant them, so that they may dwell in their own place and be disturbed no more. And violent men shall afflict them no more, as formerly, 11 from the time that I appointed judges over my people Israel. And I will give you rest from all your enemies. Moreover, the Lord declares to you that the Lord will make you a house. 12 When your days are fulfilled and you lie down with your fathers, I will raise up your offspring after you, who shall come from your body, and I will establish his kingdom. 13 He shall build a house for my name, and I will establish the throne of his kingdom forever. 14 I will be to him a father, and he shall be to me a son. When he commits iniquity, I will discipline him with the rod of men, with the stripes of the sons of men, 15 but my steadfast love will not depart from him, as I took it from Saul, whom I put away from before you. 16 And your house and your kingdom shall be made sure forever before me. Your throne shall be established forever.’”

 

David was just asking to build a building and God said, “Forget the building. Let me tell you what I am going to do for you.” The big thing about Christianity is realizing what a mountain of blessing and promise God is pouring out on us. God’s blessing is over the top—beyond imagination—a name, a place, rest from enemies, offspring, kingdom, throne—forever! When you look at what God has promised His people, it is so vast that we find it difficult to grasp and we tend to diminish it in various ways just to get our heads around it.

David wanted to build God a house. God says, “No, I will build you one and not just a building, a kingdom, and not just for time but for eternity. This will happen through your offspring.”

God’s denials are often just delays. Solomon would build the temple David dreamed of. David would stockpile materials for it and would safeguard the plans given him by God himself. But David has to trust God that He will bring this to pass. He will see little of it during his earthly existence. It is really the same for us. We have no idea of what our service really means to God. When we do what God has told us to do, we don’t know the ripple effect it will have. There is no way to measure it from generation to generation.

The big takeaway from this passage is this: God is more concerned about making his people a house for the glory of the Lord than their building him a structure of wood and stone. When you cross over into the New Testament, that is the language that is used:

1 Peter 2:4-5: As you come to him, living stone rejected by men but in the sight of God chosen and precious, you yourselves like living stones are being build up in a spiritual house, to be holy priesthood, to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ (the cornerstone—6-7).

Jesus is building a church, a spiritual house, and it is us. He is not talking about a steeple. He is talking about you. If He has made you alive by the Spirit He has connected you to the living people of God. This poured out blessing was not just for David, but for God’s people. He is talking about a universal kingdom, made of every nation, kindred and tongue. When He is talking about David’s offspring He is clearly not just talking about Solomon, who would have to be disciplined for his sin and would eventually die of old age, but through David’s offspring that would live forever—Jesus Christ, God’s Son, who died for our sins and rose again according to the Scriptures, ever living to intercede for His people, and coming back to reign. His kingdom has no end and those that are part of it face no death. David’s kingdom is the kingdom of Christ. If you belong to Christ, David’s kingdom is yours and these promises extend to you . . . forever! It’s amazing. When God is talking to David, answering David’s God-centered resolve, when He begins to talk about his priorities of people, the blessings He has given and those He will give, God has you in mind. You are part of His kingdom if you are born again, if He is your Savior.

The house that is most important is the one that God Himself is building. It is a kingdom of people that lasts forever. Our connection to it is through the Son of David, Jesus the Messiah. He is the One and His kingdom is the cause that gives our lives significance and gives us hope and strength, even in difficult days. A house for God – that’s what we are.

LifeGroup Questions

Teaching

What does this passage teach us about God?

What does this passage teach us about people?

What does this passage teach us about worship?

Where does this passage fit into the overall gospel story?

Reproof

Wealth and rest from war often lead to indulgence and worldliness. But for David, his being established in Jerusalem turned his heart toward God's honor. When you have extra time and resources, what do you do with them? Are your first thoughts to honor God with that surplus?

Do we care more about the heart behind our worship or more about the form of our worship? What might be some indications that we care more about form? What are some potential dangers with only caring about heart and not form? What is the proper balance?

When was the last time that you rehearsed what God has done for you? Do you have a regular time when you do so? What obstacles do we find (both externally and internally) that keep us from doing so? What might a lack of doing so reveal about our hearts? What does a lack of doing so set us up for in life?

Correction

How do we apply the gospel to our failures in the areas just discussed in the reproof section?

After considering the gospel, what are some practical ways to begin to apply the truths of these passages?

Training in righteousness

How must our thinking be renewed if we are to be transformed by these texts?

What must be put off from and put onto our lives if we are to be transformed by these texts?

Prayer

For what from these texts can we rejoice?

For what from these texts can we repent?

For what from these texts can we request, both for ourselves and others?

 

Pastor Drew Conley

Hampton Park Baptist Church

Greenville, SC

October 12, 2014

 
Gospel Reasons to Endure PDF

2 Timothy 2:8-13

Paul has spent a lot of his time in prison cells. This will be his last go-around. This time he is in a dungeon knowing he will be executed. He is ready to hand off the baton of responsibility to the next generation, men he has trained, like Timothy. The whole focus of his letter in 2 Timothy is keeping the faith, no matter what happens. We’ve seen the rise and fall of Christianity in different places in the world and know that it’s still thriving. Realize what it would have looked like in the 60’s A.D. when the first generation of Christians were dying off or being killed. They wondered if Christianity would even live into the next century. The Apostle Paul calls upon Timothy to keep the faith.

The last time we were in 2 Timothy we studied What Keeping the Faith Demands.

  • The Power of Grace (2 Timothy 2:1)
  • The Transfer of Truth (2 Timothy 2:2)
  • The Endurance of Suffering (2 Timothy 2:3-7)

Suffering is not something we relish, but it is nonetheless an experience we cannot avoid, even if we are only serving self. Some of our suffering comes purely from the fact that we are seeking to serve Jesus.

So what reasons does a believer like Paul or Timothy, or you, or me have to endure whatever suffering comes our way for the sake of Jesus? The dominant thing we face is fear: of rejection, mistreatment, failure to serve right, of Satan, of what the world thinks. God has given us the power, love, and self-control to carry out our mission in the earth, whether we have physical difficulties, whether we are young or old. We have every reason to serve Jesus and to endure whatever suffering may come our way. We want to look at “Gospel Reasons to Endure” as laid out by Paul in 2 Timothy:

 Remember Jesus Christ, risen from the dead, the offspring of David, as preached in my gospel, for which I am suffering, bound with chains as a criminal. But the word of God is not bound! 10 Therefore I endure everything for the sake of the elect, that they also may obtain the salvation that is in Christ Jesus with eternal glory. 11 The saying is trustworthy, for: If we have died with him, we will also live with him; 12 if we endure, we will also reign with him; if we deny him, he also will deny us; 13 if we are faithless, he remains faithful—for he cannot deny himself.

 

I. The Eternal King (2 Timothy 2:8)

Remember Jesus Christ, risen from the dead, the offspring of David, as preached in my gospel,

Remember—used here, means “to keep in mind”—your focus. It reminds us of Jesus’ words as He instituted the Lord’s Table—do this in remembrance of me.

Remember what it cost to make you part of Christ’s kingdom. Remember that Christ is coming again. Remember Jesus Christ.

Why would focusing on Christ have anything to do with suffering? Why would he say to remember Jesus Christ and why would he say this to a believer? How much that calls itself Christianity over the years loses its focus on Jesus. It focuses on everything else and it is easy to forget that the focus is on a Person. You can take away the building, the school, the service order. None of those are what makes Christianity. It is Jesus Christ. Lots of people practice religion and don’t know Jesus. This is why Paul can be on death row in a prison and still be practicing Christianity, because Christianity is Christ. Remember Jesus Christ. No Christ. No Christianity.

This happens all the time. The people in the world Jesus came into were devoted to the Bible, they searched the Scriptures, they were known as the theologians of the day. But Jesus would rebuke them in John 5. This lets us know that we can have a Bible on our lap, memory verses in our mind, hymns on our lips, be part of a structured, developed, Bible religion, but still not have eternal life because we don’t know the Person the Bible reveals.

When it comes to suffering, we need our roots far deeper than our church, our denomination, the location or time in which we live. Our hope has to be in Jesus alone, because He is the Savior. Our fellow believers testify to the Lord Jesus, but our hope is not found in them, but in Jesus Christ. Your relationship to Him is everything. Why would focusing on the Savior-King help us endure suffering? Paul explains Christ is risen from the dead. That identifies Him as God the Son. Even suffering that brought death could not conquer Him. He ever lives to intercede for His own and to give them eternal life.

Paul also points also to His work as Savior. He came to die for our sins and to rise again for our justification. This speaks of the finished work of Christ that gives us new life.

He is also described as the offspring of David. According to God’s promise, He was born into David’s line, fully human in addition to being fully God. But more, He is King of an everlasting Kingdom. The throne of David is His forever. The Roman Empire, now turning its might against Christians, would crumble and fall. The kingdom of Christ will never pass away.

Whatever we suffer then for the Savior-King Jesus Christ cannot possibly lose its reward. The suffering will be short; the reward long. The pain can be great now, things can be hard, but we know it will be worth it all because of Jesus.

If you are going to endure suffering, you have to be focused on Christ Himself. Like Peter walking on water and then sinking, if you keep your focus on Jesus, the storm cannot hurt you. If you focus on the storm, you will sink. If you are sinking, cry out to Jesus. He is master of saving sinking saints. He will save you. There are times when we feel like we are drowning. The bottom line is—you need Him.

 

II. The Unfettered Word (2 Timothy 2:9)

for which I am suffering, bound with chains as a criminal. But the word of God is not bound!

Paul’s words the first time he was imprisoned in Philippians 1:12-18: I want you to know, brothers, that what has happened to me has really served to advance the gospel, so that it has become known throughout the whole imperial guard and to all the rest that my imprisonment is for Christ . . . . In every way, whether in pretense or in truth, Christ is proclaimed, and in that I rejoice.

At the end of the letter he writes in Philippians 4:22: All the saints greet you, especially those of Caesar’s household.

Not only were members of Caesar’s bodyguard saved, but others who worked in the palace had come to Christ and even some of Nero’s relatives had come to Christ. Paul had the opportunity to spread the Gospel while under house arrest. This is how God worked it out. What a treasure we have in the Prison epistles: Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians, Philemon, 2 Timothy. We are still benefitting from Paul’s imprisonment. The book we are studying now is a letter he writes while awaiting execution. God continued to make Paul’s life fruitful in the midst of suffering. The Word of God is not bound. God used Paul’s mistreatment as a vehicle to get the Word of God to people who would not have heard it otherwise, including us. There is no way for us to measure the effect of our suffering for Jesus on the lives of other people. This gives us a Gospel reason to endure.

Think of significant believers who have suffered as prisoners—Joseph, Jeremiah, Daniel, Peter, James, Paul, Timothy. Even David, although not actually a prisoner, spent years as a fugitive with a price on his head. God, because of the unfettered Word, used these men. Who can measure the impact of their lives?

Jesus Himself was imprisoned, falsely accused and tried, condemned, crucified, and risen again.

Our opportunities of time and place are limited, but the Word of God is not limited the way we are. It does not require our freedom to be useful. It continues to work on people’s consciences whether we are there or not. God’s Word is self-fulfilling. It will not return void but will accomplish what God sent it for. When we live for spreading the gospel, we cannot lose. There is no prison that can shut it in; even death cannot shut it down.

Tertullian—“The blood of the martyrs is the seed of the church.”

Spurgeon: “You don’t defend a lion; you turn him loose.”

Release the Word! Let it run through you into the lives of others! It is easy for us to be discouraged in our frail efforts to spread the Word of God. We are so limited. But the Word of God is not. Whatever happens to you, keep sharing the Word. Talk Scripture to your children and coworkers. Keep the Word on your tongue. Use your limitations. Shine wherever you are. Let the Word give you Gospel reason to endure.

 

III. Evangelistic Success (2 Timothy 2:10)

10 Therefore I endure everything for the sake of the elect, that they also may obtain the salvation that is in Christ Jesus with eternal glory.

Because of Jesus Christ and His gospel, because the Word cannot be chained, Paul endures everything for the sake of the elect or God’s chosen ones—chosen to obtain salvation. God is the first mover in our lives. He seeks us and reveals the truth to us.

As Paul gives out the Gospel he knows there will be some who will listen. God has guaranteed success to Paul’s evangelistic efforts, including the suffering he endures to get the gospel out.

The doctrine of election—that God has chosen His people before the foundation of the world (Ephesians 1)—does not call for passive laziness in evangelism. Since the means of people coming to Christ is the gospel that we share, we proclaim it near and far. We know it will take hold, take root, and produce repentance and faith in some that hear. We have guaranteed success. If you do not see people come to Christ, it is hard to believe the Gospel works. God tells us to go find them and give them the Gospel as the means He has chosen.

A farmer knows that if he scatters the seed, some of it will fall on good ground that bears fruit. For him not to scatter the seed because he knows God has determined that there will be a harvest makes no sense. God not only determines the results, He also determines the means/strategy/method by which the results will come. You just scatter the seed and God makes it grow. Sometimes the hardest of ground ends up plowed by the Spirit and we find it surprisingly receptive to sowing the Word of the gospel.

God delights to save the most unlikely of people. You can tell that, before you ever got there, God was there first because of the way they respond. This morning a church lady was telling me of an elderly lady, her great-grandmother. She was long hostile to any witness to her, suffering dementia. She had 30 minutes of clarity when her daughter (our church member’s grandmother) got to talk with her about Jesus. She trusted Christ during that 30 minutes and died a few days later.

Because of the evangelistic success that God guarantees, we continue giving out the gospel. One reason we shrink from sharing the gospel is that we’re not sure anyone will listen and be saved. Because of God’s election, we know that some will be. So share it to all ethnicities and every created being.

Who are the persons you could be cultivating for the gospel?

Can you be praying for them even now?

How about praying for opportunities? I remember reading about Walter Wilson, whose practice every morning was to pray that God would bring his someone that he could lead to Jesus. What if you got really bold and prayed that? Pray that God will help you seize those opportunities when they come along. There is a reason to endure.

 

IV. Certain Reward (2 Timothy 2:11-13)

11 The saying is trustworthy, for: If we have died with him, we will also live with him; 12 if we endure, we will also reign with him; if we deny him, he also will deny us; 13 if we are faithless, he remains faithful—for he cannot deny himself.

We have died with Christ through faith in His death on the cross. And we are therefore willing to physically die for Him. Why? Because, just as He died and rose again, so we have been risen to newness of life spiritually and shall be raised physically as well. Paul can say death becomes gain (Philippians 1) because it ushers us into His presence and death is not permanent. Resurrection day is coming. If we endure, we shall reign. Whatever we have to bear up under in this life is dwarfed by our coming reward, and our place in the everlasting kingdom of Christ as joint-heirs and rulers.

Here we may be despised, mocked, disdained, considered insignificant, uneducated, or ignorant. But our significance is found in Christ and His kingdom. We remember the words of Paul to the people of Corinth in 1 Corinthians 1: God chooses the weak things, the foolish, the low, the despised, the nothings to bring to nothing the things that are, so that no human being may boast in His presence. God is not at all impressed with man’s pomp and strutting pride. God has made us part of His kingdom and family. In Christ Jesus we find the wisdom of God, righteousness, sanctification, redemption.

On the other hand, if we deny Him, He will deny us. This speaks of a denial in a final way, like Judas, not like Peter, who stumbled but repented. Only in Jesus do we have hope. If we turn our backs on Him we have nothing. Many have heard the truth, gone along with those who are God’s people, but have at some point turned away to follow their own way. Unless they repent and return, their doom is sure because they will have to face Him on judgment day. They turned away from the only One who could save them.

13 if we are faithless, he remains faithful—for he cannot deny himself.

He is faithful to His promises for good and His promise to judge. We may be faithless toward the truth, but the truth will prevail. He will not fail to fulfill what He has declared will happen to those who believe and what will happen to those who do not. His faithfulness to His Word, His perfect integrity, is both joyful promise and chilling warning. We endure because we know He will make good on His promises. We know there will be reward for faithfulness and for faithlessness. We know that God will not be any man’s debtor. He is the best Boss in the world. Nobody pays His employees as well.

Whatever you have to endure for the sake of the gospel will be far and away worth it forever. There is no reason to shrink back from suffering or to shirk your duty because you are afraid.

 

Gospel Reasons to Endure

  • The Eternal King
  • The Unfettered Word
  • Evangelistic Success
  • Certain Reward

Be faithful. May God help us to bear up under whatever we are bearing and to keep on mission to the glory of Jesus Christ.

 

LifeGroup Questions

Teaching

What does this passage teach us about Christ?

What does this passage teach us about the Scriptures?

What does this passage teach us about our salvation?

What does this passage teach us about suffering?

Where does this passage fit into the gospel story?

What precious promises to we find in this text?

What dire warnings do we find in this text?

Reproof

Paul wrote that remembering that Jesus is risen from the dead and that He is the offspring of David will help Christians endure suffering. Why are those things so important when it comes to endurance in our times of suffering?

What does Paul's rejoicing in the fact that God's Word is not bound during his time of imprisonment say about his priorities in life? Could we honestly claim that we would respond in a similar manner in similar circumstances? What might that reveal about our own priorities in life?

Correction

How do we apply the gospel to our failures in the areas just discussed in the reproof section?

After considering the gospel, what are some practical ways to begin to apply the truths of these passages?

Training in righteousness

How must our thinking be renewed if we are to be transformed by these texts?

What must be put off from and put onto our lives if we are to be transformed by these texts?

Prayer

For what from these texts can we rejoice?

For what from these texts can we repent?

For what from these texts can we request, both for ourselves and others?

 

Pastor Drew Conley

Hampton Park Baptist Church

Greenville, SC

October 5, 2014

 
Devotion and Disdain PDF

Devotion and Disdain

2 Samuel 6:12-23

Worship of the true God combines both exultant joy and reverent fear.

In the first half of 2 Samuel 6 we saw the delight and the danger of worshiping Yahweh. It is one thing if you are worshiping an idol who can’t do anything to you, but when you are worshiping the Living God, it behooves us to worship as He designs us to worship. We saw that there was joyful restoration as the Ark was going to be brought back to Jerusalem to reinstate the true worship of Jehovah God. Then we saw a deadly violation because the ark was being carried on a cart in a Philistine manner rather than the way God had directed. The oxen stumbled. Uzzah, the son of the man in whose home the ark had stayed over these years, was afraid the Ark was going to tip and he touched the ark in violation of the holiness of that sacred object and God struck him dead. It stopped the worship service in its tracks. Tens of thousands of people worshiping the Lord, rejoicing, were suddenly brought to a chilling silence as one lay dead. It angered David at the time but he realized in time that he had been the one who had violated God’s Will. God kind of gave the olive branch of peace, as it were, because He gave blessing to the house of Obed-Edom where the Ark was housed for some weeks. We learned in the first 11 verses of chapter six that the worship of the true God combines exultant joy and reverent fear. As one man put it, it is trembling joy. We deal with a God who could consume us for our sin, but a God who welcomes us through the means that He has provided through Jesus Christ. The first half of the chapter we saw that disobedient zeal violates true worship, and God will hold us accountable for it. The second half clarifies that zeal in worship is good. In fact, disdain for expressive zeal in worship of the Lord can reveal the godlessness of man-centered pride.

The Scripture here is not merely contrasting exuberant and reserved personalities. It is contrasting worship that forgets self to honor God and proud contempt that recoils from making God such a big deal. Worship reflects my worldview, my heart identity, and my core life values. We know that David, with all his faults, is nonetheless a man after God’s own heart. Zealous worship marks his life. God used him to supply much of the hymnbook in the middle of our Bibles—the Psalms—Hallels—exultations in the Lord.

Michal, on the other hand, shows herself “the daughter of Saul” in her view of worship. Religion is useful for maintaining favor and respectability among the people, important to a king desiring popularity and longevity. God is not even in the picture. She views self-forgetful zeal in worship as degrading.

12 And it was told King David, “The Lord has blessed the household of Obed-edom and all that belongs to him, because of the ark of God.” So David went and brought up the ark of God from the house of Obed-edom to the city of David with rejoicing. 13 And when those who bore the ark of the Lord had gone six steps, he sacrificed an ox and a fattened animal. 14 And David danced before the Lord with all his might. And David was wearing a linen ephod. 15 So David and all the house of Israel brought up the ark of the Lord with shouting and with the sound of the horn.

16 As the ark of the Lord came into the city of David, Michal the daughter of Saul looked out of the window and saw King David leaping and dancing before the Lord, and she despised him in her heart. 17 And they brought in the ark of the Lord and set it in its place, inside the tent that David had pitched for it. And David offered burnt offerings and peace offerings before the Lord. 18 And when David had finished offering the burnt offerings and the peace offerings, he blessed the people in the name of the Lord of hosts 19 and distributed among all the people, the whole multitude of Israel, both men and women, a cake of bread, a portion of meat, and a cake of raisins to each one. Then all the people departed, each to his house.

20 And David returned to bless his household. But Michal the daughter of Saul came out to meet David and said, “How the king of Israel honored himself today, uncovering himself today before the eyes of his servants' female servants, as one of the vulgar fellows shamelessly uncovers himself!” 21 And David said to Michal, “It was before the Lord, who chose me above your father and above all his house, to appoint me as prince over Israel, the people of the Lord—and I will celebrate before the Lord. 22 I will make myself yet more contemptible than this, and I will be abased in your eyes. But by the female servants of whom you have spoken, by them I shall be held in honor.” 23 And Michal the daughter of Saul had no child to the day of her death.

Three Sections, each showing response to God’s blessing:

Zealous Celebration (vv. 12-15)

The LORD has blessed the household of Obed-edom—opens the door for reconciliation after the death of Uzzah resulting from disobedient zeal. The

Ark of the LORD was carried by the Levites according to God’s dictates.David sacrificed an ox and a fatted animal, then danced before the LORD with all his might.

Grateful Generosity (vv. 16-19)

David blessed the people in the name of the LORD of hosts after offering burnt offerings and peace offerings.

Blind Contempt (vv. 20-23)

David returned to bless his household, only to find his zeal for the LORD met with ice-cold sarcasm and contempt.

I. Zealous Celebration (2 Samuel 6:12-15)

12 And it was told King David, “The Lord has blessed the household of Obed-edom and all that belongs to him, because of the ark of God.” So David went and brought up the ark of God from the house of Obed-edom to the city of David with rejoicing. 13 And when those who bore the ark of the Lord had gone six steps, he sacrificed an ox and a fattened animal. 14 And David danced before the Lord with all his might. And David was wearing a linen ephod. 15 So David and all the house of Israel brought up the ark of the Lord with shouting and with the sound of the horn.

The Lord’s blessing on Obed-edom and his household the entire time the ark of the LORD was in his house signaled that God’s anger over the disobedient manner of transporting the ark was not the final word. The death of Uzzah was not God slamming the door shut on His people. It was actually a caution that revival needs to be within the bounds of God’s Word. When we sin against the Lord, sometimes we feel we can never be restored and accepted again, that the days of blessing are forever gone. That is not the way God deals with us. God is Master at restoring those who are broken. He corrects us in order to restore.

When you are restored there is reason for great rejoicing. This is the essence of the gospel (news that brings joy)—we have sinned; we deserve judgment, yet God blesses repentance and faith.

Note verse 13: “those who bore the ark”—in obedience to what the law of God dictated how to carry the ark—long poles through the rings on the corners of the ark so that no one touched the sacred chest that was symbolic of the presence of God with the Law of God inside, speaking of the true God and true religion.

1 Chronicles 15:13-15:

“Because you did not carry it the first time, the LORD our God broke out against us, because we did not seek him according to the rule.” So the priests and the Levites consecrated themselves to bring up the ark of the LORD, the God of Israel. And the Levites carried the ark of God on their shoulders with the poles, as Moses had commanded according to the word of the LORD.

Six steps then David sacrificed an ox and a fattened animal— Then he danced before the LORD with all his might. This reminds us of Deuteronomy 6:

Love the LORD with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might.

David wore a linen ephod, a simple, clean garment that priests wore rather than the ostentatious clothing of kings, the mark of humility before God. This teaches us something about the kind of zeal we are talking about – a humble zeal.

In the evangelical awakening, which is the English or European version of the American Great Awakening, many common people did not feel they could even attend church services because they did not have the expensive clothing to wear. Sin was rampant, but religion had become all about respectability. It was the respectable people versus the non-respectable people, the wealthy people versus the poor people. They had forgotten James’ admonition that we are not to show preferential treatment to the rich man wearing expensive clothing over the poor man wearing shabby clothing.

Whitefield and Wesley’s call for repentance and faith so offended the respectable congregations in the established churches that they were kicked out. This was a good thing for the masses who felt they could not go in the churches because the gospel went to them. They turned to Christ in droves.

David expressed it later in Psalm 51:

“The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; and broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise.”

In Isaiah 66:

“This is the one to whom I will look: he who is humble and contrite in spirit and trembles at my word.”

David and all the house of Israel participated. It was a national event with thousands of participants worshiping the Lord. Three weeks earlier we saw that 30,000 of the chief ones in Israel plus the general crowd participated. There was shouting and the sound of the horn. No wonder! This event of a lifetime heralded a new era of spiritual awakening. After decades of neglect, God had worked to restore true worship through the man after God’s own heart. It was extraordinary that the leading worshiper of Yahweh was the most famous warrior of the times (Goliath). He was delivered from fugitive status, and now was king. Imagine the effect, the prospect for the future! The bitter days of Saul’s reckless reign are dead and buried. A golden age of revival has sprung to life.

Think what a difference it would make in our own country if the most powerful leaders of the nation were unashamedly devoted to the Lord and evidenced God’s mighty hand on them. Tens of thousands publicly celebrating return to the God of the Bible.

No wonder there was such dancing and shouting and celebration! It was a foretaste of future glory when the Messiah would combine the true worship of God with sovereign power to reign on earth. Only the coldest of hearts could remain unmoved.

Worship expresses love, delight, happiness in God. Whatever/whomever I adore gives me joy, moves my heart, fills my conversation, and drives my ambitions. Such God-centered exultation marks genuine awakenings and revival throughout history. That’s why you see surges in new hymns and exuberant singing to the Lord at such times.

Times of declension are just the opposite. If my heart remains unmoved by God, by His restoration of me after I have failed Him miserably, if I have no delight and experience no joy in worship on Sunday morning, whatever it is I’m doing, it’s certainly not worship! And it’s not honoring to God.

Isaiah: “With their lips they honor me, but their heart is far from me.”

Psalm 103

“Bless the Lord, O my soul, and all that is within me, bless His holy name.”

Psalm 100

“Make a joyful noise (jubilant shout) to the LORD, all the earth! Serve the LORD with gladness! Come before His presence with singing!”

Psalm 149:1-6a

“Praise the LORD! Sing to the LORD a new song, his praise in the assembly of the godly! Let Israel be glad in his Maker; let the children of Zion rejoice in their King! Let them praise him with dancing, making melody to him with tambourine and lyre! For the LORD takes pleasure in his people; he adorns the humble with salvation. Let the godly exult in glory; let them sing for joy on their beds. Let the high praises of God be in their throats.”

Psalm 98:4

“Make a joyful noise to the LORD, all the earth; break forth into joyous song and sing praises! 8 Let the rivers clap their hands; let the hills sing for joy together before the LORD.”

Luke 19:37-40

“As he was drawing near—already on the way down the Mount of Olives—the whole multitude of his disciples began to rejoice and praise God with a loud voice for all the mighty works that they had seen, saying, “Blessed is the King who comes in the name of the Lord! Peace in heaven and glory in the highest!” (This reminds us of the angels’ announcement to the shepherds that Jesus the Savior had been born.)

And some of the Pharisees in the crowd said to him, “Teacher, rebuke your disciples.” He answered, “I tell you, if these were silent, the very stones would cry out.”

What does delight and stir you?

Where does God rank among what most excites you and what most enthralls you?

Whatever your personality, how would you describe your own heart worship of the Lord?

What would zealous worship of Christ look like in your life?

William Blaikie, 96:

“There are, doubtless, times to be calm, and times to be enthusiastic; but can it be right to give all our coldness to Christ and all our enthusiasm to the world?”

What does it say about us that we associate jubilant shouts with ballgames or entertainment?

You may have been taught that true reverence shows itself in quiet reserve. There are times the Spirit of God produces a sober, intense stillness among God’s people, but that is not the only response He produces. The Old Testament Scriptures give so many examples and commands of enthusiasm in worship —shout, clap hands, raising holy hands, fall on one’s face, Psalms—hallels—leaping for joy kind of praise — that it is nearly impossible to class physically expressive worship as unbiblical, worldly, or dangerous, as in the fabled “slippery slope.” But who is the “worldly” one in this passage?

There is so much reference to expressive worship in the Old Testament that if such emotion never surfaces in our worship, we do well to ask why it’s missing. When it does happen among us, we must remember condemning it would also condemn the worship of godly saints like King David himself.

When we look at the Bible, it seems as if there should be more enthusiasm, not less.

II. Grateful Generosity (II Samuel 6:16-19)

16 As the ark of the Lord came into the city of David, Michal the daughter of Saul looked out of the window and saw King David leaping and dancing before the Lord, and she despised him in her heart. 17 And they brought in the ark of the Lord and set it in its place, inside the tent that David had pitched for it. And David offered burnt offerings and peace offerings before the Lord. 18 And when David had finished offering the burnt offerings and the peace offerings, he blessed the people in the name of the Lord of hosts 19 and distributed among all the people, the whole multitude of Israel, both men and women, a cake of bread, a portion of meat, and a cake of raisins to each one. Then all the people departed, each to his house.

Verse 16 casts a dark shadow across the happy scene. We will come back to Michal, but notice that she is not participating in the worship. She’s a spectator, an observer, a critic. Her response to David’s expressive worship is to despise him in her heart. In every gathered assembly there are those there to worship and those there to watch and to critique. Those who have no heart for expressing adoration to God themselves find those who do uncouth, disturbing, undignified, even disgusting. They would not lower themselves so.

When David arrives in the city, having had the ark placed in the tabernacle, he offers burnt offerings and peace offerings. Burnt offerings are completely burned on the altar, symbolized complete consecration to God, as well as vicarious suffering and death necessary for sin’s forgiveness. Given David’s error three weeks earlier that cost Uzzah his life, burnt offerings fit the occasion well.

Peace offerings are symbolic of fellowship restored. Part was consumed by the fire; part was eaten in a ceremonial meal. This is all pointing ultimately to the work of Jesus Christ—forgiveness, reconciliation, and consecration.

David’s gratitude to God showed itself in unrestrained offerings to the Lord and spilled over into generosity to fellow worshipers, blessing them in the name Yahweh of hosts (armies), who had done battle royal over the years to bring David and the nation to this point, and then sending them all home with bread, meat, and raisons.

Worship of the Lord is not stingy toward God or toward man. When I love God with all my heart, soul, mind, strength, I will also love my neighbors, and that love will express itself in a wealth of generosity. When God gets hold of my heart, he also gets hold of my pocketbook. If you are a stingy person, you are not godly because God is not stingy.

What evidence of true worship do you see in your typical treatment of God?

When do you find you are most generous?

When are you least generous?

Which behavior most honors God, who Himself provides for all living things and gives graciously, lavishly to us all?

III. Blind Contempt (2 Samuel 6:20-23)

20 And David returned to bless his household. But Michal the daughter of Saul came out to meet David and said, “How the king of Israel honored himself today, uncovering himself today before the eyes of his servants' female servants, as one of the vulgar fellows shamelessly uncovers himself!” 21 And David said to Michal, “It was before the Lord, who chose me above your father and above all his house, to appoint me as prince over Israel, the people of the Lord—and I will celebrate before the Lord. 22 I will make myself yet more contemptible than this, and I will be abased in your eyes. But by the female servants of whom you have spoken, by them I shall be held in honor.” 23 And Michal the daughter of Saul had no child to the day of her death.

Michal was not a participant in the worship. She was a critic. You really can’t do both. She despised David for his zealous response to the LORD. She paints David’s good as evil, even morally suspect with a malicious spin.

Reveals different core values—the concerns of her father Saul—whether or not David came off dignified, acted kingly, wore the kingly attire.

She created division and strife in her home by her strong rebuke of her husband.

She suffered the dishonor of bearing no child. Was this because she was unloved? Or was she cursed? This is left ambiguous, but her behavior is productive of either or both. Michal shows that when you have no heart for God and His glory, you are likely to have little regard for those who do. What is your attitude toward your fellow worshipers? What is your response toward those who are outwardly expressive and zealous in their public worship?

What motives do you assign to them? Good or evil? If evil, what does this passage say to you? How does God view those who have contempt for zealous worshipers of Him?

Michal pays a bitter price for her attitude toward her husband who, unlike her father, loves God zealously. Michal’s stated objections had to do with good decorum. According to this passage, what does God consider even more important?

David’s answer to Michal’s stinging sarcasm and contempt is that his worship was not done for the sake of the onlookers but before the Lord. When you worship, what audience are you most concerned about? What would happen if you were to express your worship for an audience of One?

Devotion and Disdain mark nearly every public worship service. Davids and Michals show up on any given Sunday.

O for a heart to praise my God,

A heart from sin set free!

Jesus to the woman at the well: God is seeking those who will worship Him in spirit and in truth. He offered her the water of life to make her that kind of true worship of God from the heart.

 

LifeGroup Questions

Teaching

What does this passage teach us about God?

What does this passage teach us about people?

What does this passage teach us about worship?

Where does this passage fit into the overall gospel story?

Reproof

Are there ways that we have become ostentatious in our worship? What happens when we become more passionate about our forms in worship than we do the One whom we are worshipping? What does God really want in our worship?

What will be some of the characteristics of our worship when our hearts are filled with zealous celebration and grateful generosity? What will be true of our worship when our hearts are not filled with these things? Which one better fits the way that you worship?

What is your attitude toward your fellow worshippers? What motivations do you assign to them in the way that they worship?

Correction

How do we apply the gospel to our failures in the areas just discussed in the reproof section?

After considering the gospel, what are some practical ways to begin to apply the truths of these passages?

Training in righteousness

How must our thinking be renewed if we are to be transformed by these texts?

What must be put off from and put onto our lives if we are to be transformed by these texts?

Prayer

For what from these texts can we rejoice?

For what from these texts can we repent?

For what from these texts can we request, both for ourselves and others?

 

Pastor Drew Conley

Hampton Park Baptist Church

Greenville, SC

October 5, 2014

 
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