Let the Redeemed Give Thanks
Open War, Divine Allies
1 Samuel 19
Several folks have talked with me lately about what a "normal" week would look like. Is there such a thing? Usually weeks do not progress normally. There are surprises. We plan one way and something else happens. Unexpected difficulties arise. There are joys, but life can be really tough. What would a normal week look like?
David is a household name with many people, even those who are not familiar with the Bible. As we have been tracking through his life, we see that David could well ask the same question, "What would a normal time look like?" From the time David was anointed as the future king, his life started taking off and hitting tailspins. We are finding as we go through the drama of David's life that there is much that fits the drama of our own lives. One reason God puts the history of His people in the Word of God is for our admonition in light of eternal truths. It is intended to admonish and encourage us through the Scriptures that we do have hope.
Last week we finished chapter 18 of 1 Samuel, and we saw that God preserved David from hidden treachery. We have a foe who is looking for whom he may devour, but God preserves us. But there are times when the hidden treachery breaks out into open war. Follow along in 1 Samuel 19:
1 And Saul spoke to Jonathan his son and to all his servants, that they should kill David. But Jonathan, Saul's son, delighted much in David. 2 And Jonathan told David, “Saul my father seeks to kill you. Therefore be on your guard in the morning. Stay in a secret place and hide yourself. 3 And I will go out and stand beside my father in the field where you are, and I will speak to my father about you. And if I learn anything I will tell you.” 4 And Jonathan spoke well of David to Saul his father and said to him, “Let not the king sin against his servant David, because he has not sinned against you, and because his deeds have brought good to you. 5 For he took his life in his hand and he struck down the Philistine, and the Lord worked a great salvation for all Israel. You saw it, and rejoiced. Why then will you sin against innocent blood by killing David without cause?” 6 And Saul listened to the voice of Jonathan. Saul swore, “As the Lord lives, he shall not be put to death.” 7 And Jonathan called David, and Jonathan reported to him all these things. And Jonathan brought David to Saul, and he was in his presence as before. 8 And there was war again. And David went out and fought with the Philistines and struck them with a great blow, so that they fled before him. 9 Then a harmful spirit from the Lord came upon Saul, as he sat in his house with his spear in his hand. And David was playing the lyre. 10 And Saul sought to pin David to the wall with the spear, but he eluded Saul, so that he struck the spear into the wall. And David fled and escaped that night. 11 Saul sent messengers to David's house to watch him, that he might kill him in the morning. But Michal, David's wife, told him, “If you do not escape with your life tonight, tomorrow you will be killed.” 12 So Michal let David down through the window, and he fled away and escaped. 13 Michal took an image and laid it on the bed and put a pillow of goats' hair at its head and covered it with the clothes. 14 And when Saul sent messengers to take David, she said, “He is sick.” 15 Then Saul sent the messengers to see David, saying, “Bring him up to me in the bed, that I may kill him.” 16 And when the messengers came in, behold, the image was in the bed, with the pillow of goats' hair at its head. 17 Saul said to Michal, “Why have you deceived me thus and let my enemy go, so that he has escaped?” And Michal answered Saul, “He said to me, ‘Let me go. Why should I kill you?’” 18 Now David fled and escaped, and he came to Samuel at Ramah and told him all that Saul had done to him. And he and Samuel went and lived at Naioth. 19 And it was told Saul, “Behold, David is at Naioth in Ramah.” 20 Then Saul sent messengers to take David, and when they saw the company of the prophets prophesying, and Samuel standing as head over them, the Spirit of God came upon the messengers of Saul, and they also prophesied. 21 When it was told Saul, he sent other messengers, and they also prophesied. And Saul sent messengers again the third time, and they also prophesied. 22 Then he himself went to Ramah and came to the great well that is in Secu. And he asked, “Where are Samuel and David?” And one said, “Behold, they are at Naioth in Ramah.” 23 And he went there to Naioth in Ramah. And the Spirit of God came upon him also, and as he went he prophesied until he came to Naioth in Ramah. 24 And he too stripped off his clothes, and he too prophesied before Samuel and lay naked all that day and all that night. Thus it is said, “Is Saul also among the prophets?”
Note verses 8-10:
8 And there was war again. And David went out and fought with the Philistines and struck them with a great blow, so that they fled before him. 9 Then a harmful spirit from the Lord came upon Saul, as he sat in his house with his spear in his hand. And David was playing the lyre. 10 And Saul sought to pin David to the wall with the spear, but he eluded Saul, so that he struck the spear into the wall. And David fled and escaped that night.
As we read this chapter it is about open war. It is no longer hidden that Saul is trying to slay David. In fact “kill him” is mentioned 7 times (verses 1, 2, 5, 6, 11, and twice in verse 15). But Saul and his henchmen completely failed. God was not done with David yet. As one commentator, Dale Ralph Davis, notes: “Sometimes the clearest evidence that God has not deserted you is not that you are successfully past your trial but that you are still on your feet in the middle of it.” This life is full of trials. While we have brief recesses from the trial, this life is full of both trouble and trial, the last trial being our own death before we pass into the presence of God. We need to know that in the trial God is with us, not just when we finish up the trial. God has every tool at His disposal to accomplish His will. Despite the desperation of David’s situation, he is completely safe, because God is at work.
We live in a culture where few, if any of us, experience having a price on our heads, having someone who literally want to kill us. Fifty percent of our Christian brothers and sisters in the world live in places where it is illegal to practice Christianity. They know what it is like to have their churches burned, to be imprisoned, to have brothers and sisters in Christ beheaded for Jesus. They know what it is like to have people want to kill them. We live in a world that hates Jesus and His followers, and they express it in different ways. If they cannot kill you, they will try to destroy your reputation. You and I face trials and open war. I want you to see that in this open war there are divine allies, divine instruments that God uses. This chapter lays out four of the most common (the last is not common) tools that God uses:
· A Loyal Friend (vs 1-7)
· A Protective Spouse (vs 11-17)
· A Godly Mentor (vs 18-19)
· The Mighty Spirit (vs 20-24)
As you look at this list, you see that one or more of these, especially if you are a believer, is your ally in facing your trials and in whatever open war you face.
I. A Loyal Friend (1 Samuel 19:1-7)
4 And Jonathan spoke well of David to Saul his father and said to him, “Let not the king sin against his servant David, because he has not sinned against you, and because his deeds have brought good to you. 5 For he took his life in his hand and he struck down the Philistine, and the Lord worked a great salvation for all Israel. You saw it, and rejoiced. Why then will you sin against innocent blood by killing David without cause?” 6 And Saul listened to the voice of Jonathan. Saul swore, “As the Lord lives, he shall not be put to death.”
Jonathan’s loyalty displays itself not only toward David but also toward Saul. Saul has turned his heart away from God by his own choice. Jonathan defends David, risking his relationship with his sinning dad, but he also respectfully makes appeal to his dad to turn from his sinful intent. He calls Saul’s efforts to destroy David sin. He reminds Saul that David has served him for the good, and that the LORD worked a great salvation for Israel through David’s risking his life against Goliath. With his own eyes Saul saw God at work. His greatest need was to recall the Lord’s mighty works and recall that David was the Lord’s servant. Jonathan still maintains the God-centered view of life that knit his heart to David’s at the beginning. He sees Yahweh at work, and that is the lens through which he views all of life. He wins temporary repentance from Saul: “As the LORD lives, David shall not be put to death.” Sadly, it seems Saul’s repentance is shallow, for he soon returns to his murderous designs. But consider the providence of God that Saul would reveal his plans to Jonathan, his son and David’s best friend, that he wanted to kill David. God uses loyal friends as His instruments in times of open war to rescue us.
How should/do you respond when a brother or sister in Christ comes under attack?
What risks are you willing to take to be loyal to a friend singled out for mistreatment?
When some sin has a person on the path of self-destruction and of harm toward others, what are you willing to do to encourage that person toward repentance?
Perhaps God has divinely appointed you to be that friend.
II. A Protective Spouse (1 Samuel 19:11-17)
11 Saul sent messengers to David's house to watch him, that he might kill him in the morning. But Michal, David's wife, told him, “If you do not escape with your life tonight, tomorrow you will be killed.” 12 So Michal let David down through the window, and he fled away and escaped.
All we really know about Michal to this point is that she loved David. She proves that love here with resourceful action to protect David from her father’s unjust rage. We know from a later story that this would be a troubled marriage. The term here translated 'image' refers to a household idol—possibly used in the worship of the Lord—as such a violation of the second commandment not to use images in the worship of God. We can debate her deception of Saul’s henchmen by claiming that David was in bed sick, but it reminds us of Rahab’s use of deceit to protect the spies. In both cases the motivation reflected a personal commitment to those who were righteous in opposition to those pursuing murder. Less commendable was the lie she told her dad, that David threatened to kill her. But she is facing an angry father under demonic influence. Her significance in the chapter is not the blamelessness of her tactics. It is that God used her to protect his servant. God never uses perfect instruments. He often uses the worst of sinners. Sometimes he uses a brute animal, a donkey, a worm, a storm, a flood, or a fire.
One of God's greatest gifts in the open war is a protective spouse: a wife with deep affection for her husband who helps him succeed rather than cutting him down, who cares for their children and home faithfully, who advises, encourages, and follows his leadership. A wife’s close companionship to her husband has a tremendous sanctifying effect. Her loyal love through the deep waters and dark times brings healing and strengthens courage. And a strong, loving, gentle husband gives a wife a sense of great security and purpose. His walk with God and leadership in the home can shield her and the rest of the family from great harm. God uses a spouse in the war.
Satan has declared war on the family. His victims are many. His tricks and seductions are designed to deceive, trap, and destroy. A faithful loving spouse is often God’s instrument to remove Satan’s advantage. We live in a culture of impurity that would take us in directions that are destructive to family and our walk with God. 1 Corinthians 7:5 says, "Do not deprive one another, except perhaps by agreement for a limited time, that you may devote yourselves to prayer; but then come together again, so that Satan may not tempt you because of your lack of self-control." As husband or wife, what are you doing that helps your spouse survive the battle, that lifts him or her up, that protects that individual from what would destroy him?
III. A Godly Mentor (1 Samuel 19:18-19)
18 Now David fled and escaped, and he came to Samuel at Ramah and told him all that Saul had done to him. And he and Samuel went and lived at Naioth.
David is cut off from his loyal friend Jonathan and his loving wife. David turned to Samuel, a veteran of spiritual war. Samuel knew what it was like as a child to confront a negligent high priest by the command of God. He had seen revival in Israel. He had watched the promising young king Saul veer off track and lose the blessing of God. He had had to face down Saul and declare his kingdom over, given to a man after God’s own heart. He anointed David to be king, fearing that Saul would find out and kill the old prophet. He had seen his own sons not rule well. He is the one man in all Israel that David could most trust as an ally because he was a proven man of God. He had been through the battles and heartaches and knew what it was like to stand alone.
Young believers getting bloodied in their first battles of spiritual war desperately need spiritual veterans. They need someone they can pour out their hearts and their hurts to. They need someone to strengthen their faith and increase their wisdom. One of the saddest developments in our times is the polarizing of generations against one another when there ought to be mutual edification. The culture has changed dramatically, and we let that culture become a wedge that Satan uses to pull us apart. Samuel has a stake in David’s spiritual success, and David needs Samuel more than ever. There are people who need you that are facing some trials for the first time--trials that you may be familiar with. We need someone who knows how it feels and who has actually done it to share with us and let us know how God has brought them through it.
Samuel clearly has a heart for the next generation. He leads a school of the prophets. Samuel is not just an old man waiting to home to glory. He is a godly mentor looking at the next generation and doing whatever he can to encourage them in the fight.
IV. The Mighty Spirit (1 Samuel 19:20-24)
20 Then Saul sent messengers to take David, and when they saw the company of the prophets prophesying, and Samuel standing as head over them, the Spirit of God came upon the messengers of Saul, and they also prophesied. 21 When it was told Saul, he sent other messengers, and they also prophesied. And Saul sent messengers again the third time, and they also prophesied. 22 Then he himself went to Ramah and came to the great well that is in Secu. And he asked, “Where are Samuel and David?” And one said, “Behold, they are at Naioth in Ramah.” 23 And he went there to Naioth in Ramah. And the Spirit of God came upon him also, and as he went he prophesied until he came to Naioth in Ramah. 24 And he too stripped off his clothes, and he too prophesied before Samuel and lay naked all that day and all that night. Thus it is said, “Is Saul also among the prophets?”
Now we see that while God often uses human instruments to give us the protection we need, He does not have to use them. Sometimes we rely on family, a spouse, our children, our job, but there is a point at which these things are not there any longer. While God uses the instrument of a loyal friend, a mentor, or a church, we have to remember that they were tools of God. We need to remember the One who is really helping us is God. He can do it directly with no human agency at all. From time to time that’s exactly what He does to remind us that behind the instruments God uses in our lives is His almighty hand and loving heart.
There is tremendous humor to the scene. Wave after wave of assassins fall helpless under the Spirit’s power. Finally, the king himself comes to get David, but he is subject to the same Spirit of God. He strips off his kingly robes of distinction and lay in his common tunic all day and night prophesying--helpless under the all-powerful Spirit of God. “Is Saul also among the prophets?” This is not the first time that question has been asked. Shortly after Saul was anointed to be Israel’s first king, we read in 1 Samuel 10:10-11, “...a group of prophets met him, and the Spirit of God rushed upon him, and he prophesied among them. And when all who knew him previously saw how he prophesied with the prophets, the people said one to another, “'What has come over the son of Kish? Is Saul also among the prophets?'”
The key to Saul’s early success and to his latter failure has everything to do with his relationship to the Spirit of God. The power of the Spirit can fit you for service or can shut you down. If you have experienced God's power for good, remember the same God can take you out any time He wants. Saul’s problem is not David. It is God. He is fighting God. We learned early in our study of David that spiritual realities drive human history. Saul is a pawn under the power of both harmful spirits and the Spirit of God. He can rage and fume and conspire with murder in his heart, but he cannot fight God and win.
Yet human history is about people trying to do it. Psalm 2: Why do the nations rage and the people plot in vain? The kings of the earth set themselves, and rulers take counsel together, against the LORD and against His Anointed [Anointed with the Spirit], saying, Let us burst their bonds apart and cast away their cords from us.” He who sits in the heavens laughs; the Lord holds them in derision.
God is not threatened by self-appointed kings of this earth. They cannot win the battle. This chapter ends with a joke. Saul and his henchmen think they are going to kill David--no they're not! We cannot do the work of God without the power of God. We cannot have the power of God without the presence of God. We tend to work hard at having everything else but our walk with God and wonder why we accomplish so little that matters. We can have all the instruments, tools, and allies, but what we most need is the Spirit of God.
Zechariah 4:6: Not by might nor by power, but by my Spirit, says the LORD of hosts.
Luke 24:49: Stay in the city until you are clothed with power from on high.
Acts 1:8: You will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you.
John 7:38-39: Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, Out of his heart will flow rivers of living water. Now this he said about the Spirit, whom those who believed in him were to receive.
John 16:8: He will convict the world of sin, righteousness, and judgment. . . . He will glorify me.
Ephesians 5:18: Be filled with the Spirit.
Galatians 5:22-23: The fruit of the Spirit...
The Spirit of God is key to our getting the work done. The mighty Spirit of God is necessary in times of open war. The Spirit convicts, illuminates, regenerates, baptizes, seals, guides, empowers, emboldens (book of Acts), unites the church. We are told: Don’t grieve Him; don’t quench Him. That is why we sing in worship, “Spirit of the living God, fall fresh on me,” or “Come, Holy Comforter, Thy sacred witness bear in this glad hour!” or “Spirit of God, descend upon my heart,” or “Holy Spirit, break through our darkness, breathe through our lives!”
The mighty Spirit is what set the early church ablaze. The mighty Spirit is what turned the tables when it looked as if David had no hope. The Spirit of God is all about carrying out the power of God and the Gospel. Satan is a liar and a murderer. He has put a price on your head. The Gospel is about a rescue that no one but God can make happen. It is a rescue from your own sin that is so much a part of you that you can't destroy it without destroying yourself. It is deliverance from sin, death, and judgment. The Gospel tells us there is a new creation, transformation, resurrection, new heavens, new earth--only God can do that. Christianity is about the mighty Spirit of God doing things that man cannot possibly do. He is the Ultimate Ally.
As we look at these four categories we realize that Jesus Christ fulfills all of them. There is no greater friend than One who laid down His life for us in love. His loyal love endures forever. The church, His people, He calls His bride. He has given Himself up for her, He washes and cleanses her by His Word. What about a Godly Mentor? He is the Wonderful Counselor, the Everlasting Father. He provides for us an example as to how to live this life. He gives His Mighty Spirit to all who believe, the Spirit that provides resurrection power.
So, yes, there are not really "normal" days because we are in the middle of a war. But we have a Divine Ally who uses all kinds of instruments. Ultimately the ally that we most need is God Himself in the person of His Son and the power of His Spirit. If you have Him, the war is won.
1. How should/do you respond when a brother or sister in Christ comes under attack (spiritual or otherwise)?
2. When some sin has a person on a path of self-destruction and harmfulness, what are you willing to do to encourage that person towards repentance?
3. In what ways can a believer provide protection and help when his/her spouse is in danger?
4. Who is someone you have looked to as a spiritual mentor and why?
5. Whom could you mentor in practical, spiritual ways and how could you provide such help?
6. If you have seen the effect of the Holy Spirit’s power, describe what you witnessed.
7. In what ways have you experienced Jesus Christ as loyal Friend, protective Spouse, godly Mentor, and Giver of the mighty Spirit?
8. Why is God’s power and protective love essential to the gospel and necessary to daily Christian living?
Pastor Drew Conley
Hampton Park Baptist Church
November 17, 2013
A Contrast of Covenants
2 Corinthians 1:8-19
Paul had already written a letter to the Corinthian believers advising them on ways in which to carry out church discipline and live lives pleasing to Christ. Subsequently, Judaizers had infiltrated the church with the intention of undermining Paul's ministry and compelling believers to integrate the Old Covenant with the New Covenant. These false teachers failed to recognize the role of the Old Covenant in light of the New Covenant. God continues to unfold His remarkable drama designed to rescue a people for Himself who will worship Him and desire and be empowered to live lives consistent with His character: "Be you holy as I am holy." How often do you read an intriguing book then simply stop in the middle? Of course, you don't. You would want to finish the book unless for some reason you thought the middle was the end. That is basically what we find here. The Jews in Moses' day and in our current day fail to recognize that there is more to come. The Old Covenant was temporary, a harbinger of death, a mere shadow of something more perfect yet to come.
Some quick distinctions between the two covenants are:
- One is external, while the other is internal.
- One is temporary while the other is permanent.
- One is a ministry of condemnation while the other is a ministry of righteousness.
- One has glory that fades, while the other has glory that stays and abounds.
Paul was being caricatured as arrogant and boastful, self-promoting. Here he was careful to clarify his motives toward the people and his position in Christ. Consider 2 Corinthians 1:8-12:
For we do not want you to be unaware, brothers, of the affliction we experienced in Asia. For we were so utterly burdened beyond our strength that we despaired of life itself. Indeed, we felt that we had received the sentence of death. But that was to make us rely not on ourselves but on God who raises the dead. He delivered us from such a deadly peril, and he will deliver us. On him we have set our hope that he will deliver us again. You also must help us by prayer, so that many will give thanks on our behalf for the blessing granted us through the prayers of many.
Paul's Change of Plans (2 Corinthians 1:12)
For our boast is this, the testimony of our conscience, that we behaved in the world with simplicity and godly sincerity, not by earthly wisdom but by the grace of God, and supremely so toward you.
The first section of chapter 3 underscores the contrast with the significance of these distinctions highlighted in the passage to be considered tonight. The New Covenant affects us in a variety of ways but three to be considered here:
I. We are to be Bold (2 Corinthians 1:12-16)
The hope mentioned is the assured expectation of something greater to come because of something so great that has already come. This hope is the result of the ministry of the Spirit of God.
Moses was the only one with access to God. But as His children each one of us approaches God for ourselves. The veil has been taken down as illustrated with the tearing of the curtain at the crucifixion. We are obligated by no man to intercede for us. That work has already been accomplished through Christ who now sits at the right hand of the Father with no further end for sacrifice.
Moses personally beheld the glory of God and conveyed God's message to his people. Now we find in Exodus that he put the veil in place to keep them from being fearful then here we find additionally that he did not want them to see the glory fading. How discouraging it is for any of us to put too much hope in any man. They will disappoint simply due to the nature of sin and our sinful environment. This veil was put in place by God. They could not grasp that they were witnessing a foreshadowing of what was to come. Consider Moses as noted in Hebrews 11:23-28:
By faith Moses, when he was born, was hidden for three months by his parents, because they saw that the child was beautiful, and they were not afraid of the king's edict. By faith Moses, when he was grown up, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh's daughter, choosing rather to be mistreated with the people of God than to enjoy the fleeting pleasures of sin. He considered the reproach of Christ greater wealth than the treasures of Egypt, for he was looking to the reward. By faith he left Egypt, not being afraid of the anger of the king, for he endured as seeing him who is invisible. By faith he kept the Passover and sprinkled the blood, so that the Destroyer of the firstborn might not touch them.
I Peter 1:10-12
Concerning this salvation, the prophets who prophesied about the grace that was to be yours searched and inquired carefully, inquiring what person or time the Spirit of Christ in them was indicating when he predicted the sufferings of Christ and the subsequent glories. It was revealed to them that they were serving not themselves but you, in the things that have now been announced to you through those who preached the good news to you by the Holy Spirit sent from heaven, things into which angels long to look.
The word for boldness carries with it the meaning of speaking with conviction and confidence in spite of resistance or ridicule. The word also encompasses the idea of plainness of speech or straightforwardness. How often do you converse with someone about spiritual matters and beat around the bush hoping they can read between the lines rather than pointedly proclaiming the joy that is yours in Christ? We ought not to be surprised when someone fails to grasp the gospel when we share it with them even though done clearly and with passion. The veil of their understanding can only be lifted in Christ as a work of His Spirit. If Paul boasted, it was not in him but in the gospel.
We hear things through the filters we have developed over the years. Our culture clouds our perception. We will not simply forsake all we have come to know and love unless Jesus Christ, Himself, overwhelms us with His vision. On a recent Sunday morning there was some confusion regarding the time of a church activity causing some frustration fo a few of our mature saints. I quickly spoke with Pastor Lehman, who was presiding during the service, and asked him to clarify the details from the pulpit. After the service, I still had some come back to me asking for clarification. I asked them if they were in the service. They said yes. I asked them if they heard Pastor Lehman make announcements. They said yes. Obviously, they were distracted by something in their filter. They may have been listening but they didn’t hear. That process sometimes takes place when we attempt to convey truth to others. Don’t be frustrated when they don’t get it. Commit them to the Lord and ask Him to lift the veil in Christ.
II. We Are to Be Free (2 Corinthians 1:17)
We are in-dwelt by the Spirit of God. There is no barrier between God and us. In addition, we have access to His truth, which He uses to empower and embolden us. We no longer are slaves in bondage to sin but are rather children who are designed to be like Christ. Obviously, this freedom is not designed to indulge ourselves but to use our freedom to promote Jesus Christ and His kingdom.
The Old Covenant was one of works and bondage. The New Covenant is freedom from fear, sin, the world, and legalistic religious practices. Every Christian is like Moses: with an unveiled face, we can come into the presence of God and enjoy His glory — yes, receive that glory and become more like Christ! The Word of God is illustrated as a mirror by which we saturate the glory of God. Rather than reflect, we are actually designed to radiate His glory. A majority of the people in this country profess to be Christians. Sadly, most of them are attaching to an external connection.
The letter of the law is opposed to the Spirit of the law. We are not obligated by regulation but motivated by a love relationship secured in Christ Jesus. As a result, we should have a broader appreciation of other believers who may do things differently than us but are enjoying the expression of their faith in the freedom of their redemption. I imposed restrictions on the expression of my faith following my conversion to the point that the circle of believers with whom I could fellowship was becoming narrower. This narrow circle was caused by limitations I placed on the freedom I had in Christ and replaced it with another kind of bondage. In recent years, I believe I have been able to breathe more deeply and thoroughly enjoy the work God has done and is doing in His children with a variety of manifestations.
III. We Are to Be Transformed (2 Corinthians 1:18)
This process is a work of the Spirit of God. Sanctification is the fancy title given to this journey to Christlikeness day by day. In I Corinthians 11:1, Paul urges us to be imitators of him as he imitates Christ. The veil has been removed. We have nothing to hide. This is not a statement of an arrogant man but rather of one who understands the dynamic of discipleship. He is being transparent. He not only proclaims the word boldly but displays the word boldly as well. He is by no means indicating that he has arrived. That is far from the truth, since Paul makes his personal struggles clear in Romans 7. But he is inviting us to intimately come alongside and observe the work being done by the Spirit of God. When we disciple someone, are we assuring them that we will do all things well. No, but we are stating that they will see our priority to live a life pleasing to God. You will see me struggle to handle situations differently than the world when I feel as if I have been treated unfairly. You will see me take a look at the bigger picture and be reminded of God's design for my life from the beginning. All humans are created into the image of God. All Christians are conformed into the image of Christ. Truly our position in Christ is a glorious one! The ministry of grace is far superior to Judaism or any other religion, even though the New Testament Christian has none of the ceremonies or visible trappings that belonged to the Law. Ours is a glorious ministry, and its glory will never fade. This is often the reason that those attracted to certain religions are reluctant to leave as were the Jews who even today hear the Word spoken with a veiled heart.
True ministers are Christ’s instruments, for He is the author of all good that is in them and His love and His likeness are revealed in them by the Holy Spirit. They are ministers, not merely of the letter to read the written Word or to preach the letter of the Gospel only, but ministers of the Spirit also. The Spirit accompanies their ministrations and reveals Christ through their lives.
How do you express your faith?
Do you find yourself being confined by the structure imposed from the outside or by the spirit releasing you from the strictures of conformity?
Have you ever openly displayed the work being inwardly peformed? I'm not talking about some artificially orchestrated display of emotion but an authentic response to the redemption from your bondage secured by Christ. This dynamic should be evident in your singing, in your response to the needs of those around you, in your quickness to ask and give forgiveness. Our lives are not our own. They have been bought with a price.
How does God’s glory look on you?
Pastor Mike Cruice
Hampton Park Baptist Church
November 17, 2013
Preserved from Hidden Treachery
1 Samuel 18:17-30
Those who are not familiar with the Word of God may think it's an overly optimistic religious-talking kind of book, but those who are familiar with it know the Word of God is frank about the difficulties of life. It doesn't just leave us in the dark and in despair. It is frank about the difficulties and then points us to the solution through Jesus Christ.
Have you ever felt betrayed? To ask that question is to answer it. If you have lived very long, you know what betrayal feels like. In politics, in business, and at work. The betrayals don't end there. Sometimes the treachery comes from what should be the most secure place of all: at home — an abusive or neglectful parent, a rebellious child, a spouse who turns against you or forsakes you. When you go through times like that, it is not uncommon to feel forsaken not only by man, but also by God. Accurate or not, feeling betrayed hurts. It is one of life’s hardest trials to bear. As we look through history we see it is one of the most common lots even of those we celebrate as the greatest servants of God.
Today is Martin Luther’s birthday. His efforts to reform the church through a return to the Scriptures got him excommunicated with a price on his head. He commented that some days he was so depressed by the troubles and wars his stand for truth precipitated that he found it difficult to get out of bed in the morning. It is amazing that he died of natural causes with all who were seeking to kill him. Others who exercised such courage suffered betrayal and martyrdom were men like William Tyndale and people who had copies of his Scriptures in the English language.
More recently when Charles Spurgeon spoke out against receiving ministers into the Baptist union who denied basic doctrines of the faith he was ignored and vilified. He finally had to withdraw his membership, and for that he was censured by all but 7 of the 1000 preachers in the Baptist Union, many of whom he had trained. At the time he was suffering from kidney disease and his detractors claimed that his attacks on the union were the ravings of a sick man.
I learned just this week of two pastor friends in different parts of the country suffering slander and harassment by men they trusted as coworkers and friends in ministry. It is a deep trial. Added to other battles it is enough to make them feel like quitting—or dying.
“When friends betray us” (Blessings) is not an uncommon Christian experience. It is one our Lord himself experienced. Jesus was betrayed by the Judas kiss and conspired against by the supposed guardians of Biblical religion. He came to His own things, and His own people received Him not (John 1). When a believer faces the treachery of others, he has to anchor his hope in God alone, whose loyal love guarantees a good outcome even from the worst of evils and the greatest of pain.
Stanza 3 of Kristen Getty’s “Watches of the Night”:
I have cried upon the steps that seem
Too steep for me to climb
And I’ve prayed against a burden
I did not want to be mine
But here I am and this is where
You’re calling me to fight
And You I will remember
Through the watches of the night
You I will remember
Through the watches of the night.
In 1 Samuel 18 David is experiencing the same kind of betrayal. We have already traveled through verses 1 through 16. Today we look at 1 Samuel 18:17-30:
17 Then Saul said to David, “Here is my elder daughter Merab. I will give her to you for a wife. Only be valiant for me and fight the Lord's battles.” For Saul thought, “Let not my hand be against him, but let the hand of the Philistines be against him.” 18 And David said to Saul, “Who am I, and who are my relatives, my father's clan in Israel, that I should be son-in-law to the king?” 19 But at the time when Merab, Saul's daughter, should have been given to David, she was given to Adriel the Meholathite for a wife. 20 Now Saul's daughter Michal loved David. And they told Saul, and the thing pleased him. 21 Saul thought, “Let me give her to him, that she may be a snare for him and that the hand of the Philistines may be against him.” Therefore Saul said to David a second time, “You shall now be my son-in-law.” 22 And Saul commanded his servants, “Speak to David in private and say, ‘Behold, the king has delight in you, and all his servants love you. Now then become the king's son-in-law.’” 23 And Saul's servants spoke those words in the ears of David. And David said, “Does it seem to you a little thing to become the king's son-in-law, since I am a poor man and have no reputation?” 24 And the servants of Saul told him, “Thus and so did David speak.” 25 Then Saul said, “Thus shall you say to David, ‘The king desires no bride-price except a hundred foreskins of the Philistines, that he may be avenged of the king's enemies.’” Now Saul thought to make David fall by the hand of the Philistines. 26 And when his servants told David these words, it pleased David well to be the king's son-in-law. Before the time had expired, 27 David arose and went, along with his men, and killed two hundred of the Philistines. And David brought their foreskins, which were given in full number to the king, that he might become the king's son-in-law. And Saul gave him his daughter Michal for a wife. 28 But when Saul saw and knew that the Lord was with David, and that Michal, Saul's daughter, loved him, 29 Saul was even more afraid of David. So Saul was David's enemy continually. 30 Then the commanders of the Philistines came out to battle, and as often as they came out David had more success than all the servants of Saul, so that his name was highly esteemed.
Here we are in the history of the people of God, those through whom the Messiah will come. Here we are tracking the history of David, the anointed king, the man after God's own heart, and yet subject to hidden treachery. He doesn't even know at this point that Saul is going after him. Yet he is suffering the treachery nonetheless and we see through it that he is preserved. We often think we are at the mercy of other people or whatever it is that might conspire to destroy us and yet, in God, we are preserved. This is a difficult subject. If you are going through it you don't even want to think about it. But when we are going through the deepest waters, it is important for us to know that our safety is in the Lord Himself.
I. Treachery of the One Resisting God (1 Samuel 18:17-20)
We have known Saul long enough to know that once you quit listening to God, you do not remain as you were. Your life grows more and more poisonous. It is a sobering warning about how far one can actually go. Look at the treachery that Saul engages in.
Abused the power of love
Saul takes the most precious of relationships, that of marriage or the relationship of father-daughter and he abuses them for the sake of his own malice. He exploited his own daughters to endanger God’s man.
17 Then Saul said to David, “Here is my elder daughter Merab. I will give her to you for a wife. Only be valiant for me and fight the Lord's battles.” For Saul thought, “Let not my hand be against him, but let the hand of the Philistines be against him.”
20 Now Saul's daughter Michal loved David. And they told Saul, and the thing pleased him. 21 Saul thought, “Let me give her to him, that she may be a snare for him and that the hand of the Philistines may be against him.” Therefore Saul said to David a second time, “You shall now be my son-in-law.”
He uses Merab and Michal, his daughters, as bait to draw David into a deathtrap. Let's say that the trap worked. The depths of the evil of the human heart is nearly infinite. Saul is willing to subject his own daughters to widowhood in order to destroy the man he fears and hates. We stand back and look at Saul and other villains in the Bible and think we can't wait until they get what they deserve. Yet as we look closely at their lives we see we are not looking through a window, we are actually looking into a mirror. David himself later in life will engage in this kind of treachery. The human heart is prone to treachery. If we give ourselves to sin we will put our family at risk. If we turn away from our love for God, then our love for others will shrivel because love for others springs from the life of God in you. Love God, love others. You can't do the second without the first. There's no drive for it. If you nurse your envy and you feed your fear, you will not only poison your own life, you will also harm the lives of those you care about the most. Saul exploited his own daughters to endanger God's man. To do it he had to break his promise.
Broke his promise (false witness)
19 But at the time when Merab, Saul's daughter, should have been given to David, she was given to Adriel the Meholathite for a wife.
Later Merab’s five sons born from this man will hang as atonement for Saul’s genocide of the Gibeonites. Saul's resistance to God, his love for himself and his love of position and popularity outside of the bounds of God's commands led him down a path that destroyed his family.
Claimed love for David to hide his hatred of him
22 And Saul commanded his servants, “Speak to David in private and say, ‘Behold, the king has delight in you, and all his servants love you. Now then become the king's son-in-law.’”
Words by themselves are cheap. Actions tell the real story. Our actions confirm or negate our words. The apostle John says to us in 1 John: Let us love in deed and in truth. We ought to be expressing our love in a way that is consistent with the love of God. Our speech is part of a life. When words and actions contradict each other, actions are what are believed. Saul’s words of love are manipulative lies to expose David to harm. It is not uncommon for bullies to express kindness in order to make their victims more vulnerable to abuse. Our actions show love and not just our words.
Abused the language of faith
17b Only be valiant for me and fight the Lord's battles.” For Saul thought, “Let not my hand be against him, but let the hand of the Philistines be against him.”
Fight the Lord's battles--that is not Saul's language, that's not the way Saul talks. That's the way Jonathan and David talk. That's the way David talked to Goliath: “The battle is the Lord’s. He will deliver you into my hand.” Saul knows he is talking to a man who thinks a lot about God, who sees his battles as the Lord's battles. He uses David's language of faith to hide his real intent. This is exactly what God is talking about in the Ten Commandments when he says do not use the Lord's name in vain. We think of this as cursing, but more commonly it is attaching God's name to a lie. It is serious blasphemy. Human nature tries to put the best face on our wrongdoing. In a religious context it's going to be a religious veneer. The worst abuse is that which is done in God’s name. It reveals a less than serious recognition of God’s existence and God’s power to judge. What is Saul thinking? Does he think that the God who has torn the kingdom from him in just a matter of time will let this go? Saul has almost an atheistic view of life. Whenever we act religious and holy and yet do and say what we know is contrary to the will and work and character of God, we are not just messing with people, we are dealing with a holy God who knows it all and has everything at His disposal to make it right. God does say vengeance is mine, I will repay. That's why we don't have to worry about it. God deals with such sin and He will deal with Saul. This characteristic did not just die with Saul. The scribes and Pharisees were highly critical of Jesus for breaking their Sabbath traditions while they plotted his murder. Many will go to hell from a pulpit. You might say you don't have anyone out to get you this way. I do know someone who is after you that way. His emissaries appear as angels of light. He sends teachers who sound like they are teaching the Bible but they are teaching falsehood. He baits you with what you think you most want out of life and uses the bait to destroy you. He prowls about like a roaring lion seeking whom he may devour. He is described as a bloodthirsty dragon. He is the ultimate traitor for he turned against God. He is a murderer and a liar. He is happy to use the power of love to destroy you. He destroys people through relationships by saying what you need most is love, and then presents love outside the boundaries of God's commands. He is happy to use the language of faith to deceive. People want to feel safe and Satan has a whole pile of tricks and schemes and religions and teachings to make people think they are safe when they are being deceived. How often has he baited people to destroy their lives with the lie that they are sinning out of love. How often he works havoc among people of faith, deceiving them into fighting battles for empty causes as if they are siding with heaven while they do the work of hell. Many a person has tried to hide his sin with a whitewash of religion, but it will never work as long as there is a living God. Saul’s growing evil springs from his divorce from God. That's what I want us most to see. It is easy to see the villainy in others, but hard to see it in our own hearts. Where the villainy begins is when you and God part ways. When you betray what you know God wants, when you turn your back on the one person in the universe who is altogether good, is when you sign up to be part of the villainy and treachery, to be part of the destruction. You become a servant of sin and of Satan. That is what happened to Saul.
II. Integrity of the One Trusting God
18 And David said to Saul, “Who am I, and who are my relatives, my father's clan in Israel, that I should be son-in-law to the king?”
23 And Saul's servants spoke those words in the ears of David. And David said, “Does it seem to you a little thing to become the king's son-in-law, since I am a poor man and have no reputation?”
We are amazed at this. David is perhaps the most popular man in all the kingdom. There is still no trace of selfish ambition, or of resentment, or entitlement, or critical spirit, or suspicion toward Saul. David’s anointing has not gone to his head. He is in no hurry to gain higher position. That is not what motivates him. He is still the man after God's own heart. Saul is increasingly ill disposed toward David, but David maintains an honorable spirit and behavior toward the troubled king. He really is practicing what the New Testament demands of us: Love your enemies, pray for them, heap coals of fire on their heads by doing what is right, no matter what.
26 And when his servants told David these words, it pleased David well to be the king's son-in-law. Before the time had expired, 27 David arose and went, along with his men, and killed two hundred of the Philistines.
David goes above and beyond what Saul had required. Saul looks to see David killed in battle. Instead David just wins the battles, bringing back proof that he has slain uncircumcised Philistines. How do we make application? When you are under attack, whether hidden or open, the best response is to take the high road—pursue humble, respectful attitude, words, and conduct. Give yourself to getting the job done, even when it seems designed to destroy you. For those of you who are still at home, your mom or dad might think you did something wrong and they nail you for it when you did not do it. What is your response? Is it humble respect and valiant productivity? Other people are going to make mistakes. None of us see ourselves as we really are and we want to keep taking the high road. There were many believers who were slaves in households where they were not treated right. Peter said to them in 1 Peter 2:18: Servants, be subject to your masters with all respect, not only to the good and gentle but also to the unjust. 19 For this is a gracious thing, when, mindful of God, one endures sorrows while suffering unjustly. 21 For to this you have been called, because Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example so that you might follow in his steps.
III. Prosperity of the One Empowered by God
28 But when Saul saw and knew that the Lord was with David, and that Michal, Saul's daughter, loved him, 29 Saul was even more afraid of David. So Saul was David's enemy continually.
30 Then the commanders of the Philistines came out to battle, and as often as they came out David had more success than all the servants of Saul, so that his name was highly esteemed.
David was successful in battle. That was his job, his present calling. He was loved and esteemed by Michal, by the servants of Saul, and yet he is feared and hated by Saul. Why? Saul was estranged from God. Saul once knew the power of God and he envies that David now has it. The key to this is that the LORD was with him. God’s favor overrides Saul’s malice. If you are feeling betrayed this morning, if you are dealing with the hurt of having been done wrong, you need to remember that God's favor outranks Saul's treachery. The Lord being with you is the greatest gift of all. Paul says to the Philippian believers living in northern Greece who were suffering persecution in Philippians 1:27-29: Only let your manner of life be worthy of the gospel of Christ so that whether I come and see you or am absent, I may hear of you that you are standing firm in one spirit, with one mind striving side by side for the faith of the gospel, and not frightened in anything by your opponents. This is a clear sign to them of their destruction, but of your salvation, and that from God. For it has been granted to you that for the sake of Christ you should not only believe in him but also suffer for his sake.
The writer of Hebrews takes up the same theme in Hebrews 12:2ff: Looking unto Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of God. Consider him who endured from sinners such hostility against himself, so that you may not grow weary or fainthearted. In your struggle against sin you have not resisted to the point of shedding your blood. 11 For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.
David’s suffering is only begun and is going to get worse before it gets better. It will be true of David what is true of all of God's children, that "All things do work together for good to them that love God, who are the called according to his purpose" (Romans 8:28). A.W.Tozer puts it this way: “To the child of God, there is no such thing as an accident. He travels an appointed way. . . . Accidents may indeed appear to befall him and misfortune stalk his way; but these evils will be so in appearance only and will seem evils only because we cannot read the secret script of God’s hidden providence.” We Travel an Appointed Way, 3-4.
Another man puts it this way: “It isn’t that believers are unaffected by life’s blows; it’s simply that because of Romans 8:28 we have a different way of processing them. It isn’t necessarily a simple or sudden route. Some problems are so tangled that only God can resolve them, and He detangles them at His own speed.” Robert J. Morgan, The Promise, xviii.
Isn't it striking that the most prominent theme in the Psalms is that God's steadfast love endures forever—love that will never let us go. It is amazing grace to show such loyal love to sinners. We betrayed Him. Yet He pursued us and made us His through Christ. If God delivered Christ up for us all to rescue us, will he not freely then give us all things? Will He ever let you go? No. Nothing in life or death, not the demons of hell, can separate you from His love. You are preserved despite hidden treachery. God has showed kindness to you, once a traitor yourself, who found mercy at the cross.
1. What are the great challenges and temptations you have encountered when you have felt betrayed?
2. What truths and resources have you found to be the greatest help to overcoming sinful responses to being hurt by others?
3. When you consider how Saul began to veer off course, what does his later behavior teach you about your own heart and about guarding your walk with God?
4. How does looking to Jesus (Hebrews 12) help you in your struggles against the sinful behavior of others toward you and the sin you find in your own heart?
5. When do you find it the most difficult to keep trusting in the goodness of God, and what have you found helps you regain your confidence in Him?
Pastor Drew Conley
Hampton Park Baptist Church
November 10, 2013