A Tale of Two Roots
The message was preached by Dr. Chris Barney, our Administrative Pastor. The text is not available, but you may enjoy the audio.
5 Thus says the Lord:
“Cursed is the man who trusts in man
and makes flesh his strength,
whose heart turns away from the Lord.
6 He is like a shrub in the desert,
and shall not see any good come.
He shall dwell in the parched places of the wilderness,
in an uninhabited salt land.
7 “Blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord,
whose trust is the Lord.
8 He is like a tree planted by water,
that sends out its roots by the stream,
and does not fear when heat comes,
for its leaves remain green,
and is not anxious in the year of drought,
for it does not cease to bear fruit.”
9 The heart is deceitful above all things,
and desperately sick;
who can understand it?
10 “I the Lord search the heart
and test the mind,
to give every man according to his ways,
according to the fruit of his deeds.”
What does this passage reveal about the doctrine of God?
What does this passage reveal about the doctrine of man?
What does this passage reveals about the doctrine of sanctification?
Where does this passage fit into the gospel story?
In what ways right now are you responding to heat in an unbiblical way? What thorns are those wrong responses producing in your life?
On the flip side, in what ways right now are you (by God's grace) responding to heat in light of the gospel? What fruit is being produced as a result?
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 this passage?
Training in righteousness
How must our thinking be renewed if we are to be transformed by this text?
What must be put off from and put onto our lives if we are to be transformed by this text?
For what from this text can we rejoice?
For what from this text can we repent?
For what from this text can we request, both for ourselves and others?
Dr. Chris Barney
Hampton Park Baptist Church
Greenville, SC 29609
August 3, 2014
Dealing with Death: A Biblical Perspective
2 Samuel 1
The last time we were together we saw the clarity that death brings in the account of Saul’s dying in battle recorded in 1 Samuel 31. We saw the tragedy of self-rule (v. 1-8) when Saul turned away from the Lord and started operating by his own set of rules. He cut himself off more and more from God’s guidance and became more rash and more of a danger to everyone else. Finally Saul committed suicide on the battlefield rather than being overtaken by the Philistines. We also saw the shame of idolatry (v. 9-10), not only in the shamefulness of Saul’s and his son’s death but also in the defeat of Israel being a cause for celebration among those who worshipped false gods. We saw the shame of idolatry itself. When we worship anyone less than god, it degrades who we are as human beings. We become like the gods we worship. We saw the courage of loyalty as men of Jabesh-Gilead risked their lives in the middle of the night to remove the bodies from the city walls and to bury them properly as those who were great in Israel. Overall what it gave to us was a yearning for the Coming King. We were dissatisfied with Saul as King for a long time. We knew that God had anointed David as the future King of Israel. We yearned for him to take the throne, but we have already seen in David’s life that although he is a man after God’s heart, he is a man of the flesh. He blows hot and cold with times when he is away from the Lord, times when he is wise, times when he is cruel, and times when he acts more like Saul than like David. We know enough about David to realize that there will be times of disappointment when he is King. The yearning that Saul’s life brings is really a yearning for a perfect King, a King whose life is righteousness, who is mightier than death and sin. That King is David’s Son, Jesus Christ.
Crossing over into 2 Samuel 1, we look at death again. We get tired of talking about death. When we go to a funeral, we are eager to have it finished and move on to something happier. Death is something we all have to deal with and God’s Word devotes these two chapters on the subject for our instruction. Today we see how to deal with death from a biblical perspective.
Before the crowning day, for which we look, we have some business to finish here.
After the death of Saul, when David had returned from striking down the Amalekites, David remained two days in Ziklag. 2 And on the third day, behold, a man came from Saul's camp, with his clothes torn and dirt on his head. And when he came to David, he fell to the ground and paid homage. 3 David said to him, “Where do you come from?” And he said to him, “I have escaped from the camp of Israel.” 4 And David said to him, “How did it go? Tell me.” And he answered, “The people fled from the battle, and also many of the people have fallen and are dead, and Saul and his son Jonathan are also dead.” 5 Then David said to the young man who told him, “How do you know that Saul and his son Jonathan are dead?” 6 And the young man who told him said, “By chance I happened to be on Mount Gilboa, and there was Saul leaning on his spear, and behold, the chariots and the horsemen were close upon him. 7 And when he looked behind him, he saw me, and called to me. And I answered, ‘Here I am.’ 8 And he said to me, ‘Who are you?’ I answered him, ‘I am an Amalekite.’ 9 And he said to me, ‘Stand beside me and kill me, for anguish has seized me, and yet my life still lingers.’ 10 So I stood beside him and killed him, because I was sure that he could not live after he had fallen. And I took the crown that was on his head and the armlet that was on his arm, and I have brought them here to my lord.” 11 Then David took hold of his clothes and tore them, and so did all the men who were with him. 12 And they mourned and wept and fasted until evening for Saul and for Jonathan his son and for the people of the Lord and for the house of Israel, because they had fallen by the sword. 13 And David said to the young man who told him, “Where do you come from?” And he answered, “I am the son of a sojourner, an Amalekite.” 14 David said to him, “How is it you were not afraid to put out your hand to destroy the Lord's anointed?” 15 Then David called one of the young men and said, “Go, execute him.” And he struck him down so that he died. 16 And David said to him, “Your blood be on your head, for your own mouth has testified against you, saying, ‘I have killed the Lord's anointed.’” And David lamented with this lamentation over Saul and Jonathan his son, 18 and he said it should be taught to the people of Judah; behold, it is written in the Book of Jashar. He said:19 “Your glory, O Israel, is slain on your high places!How the mighty have fallen! 20 Tell it not in Gath,publish it not in the streets of Ashkelon, lest the daughters of the Philistines rejoice,lest the daughters of the uncircumcised exult. 21 “You mountains of Gilboa,let there be no dew or rain upon you, nor fields of offerings! For there the shield of the mighty was defiled, the shield of Saul, not anointed with oil. 22 “From the blood of the slain, from the fat of the mighty, the bow of Jonathan turned not back, and the sword of Saul returned not empty. 23 “Saul and Jonathan, beloved and lovely! In life and in death they were not divided; they were swifter than eagles; they were stronger than lions. 24 “You daughters of Israel, weep over Saul, who clothed you luxuriously in scarlet,who put ornaments of gold on your apparel. 25 “How the mighty have fallen in the midst of the battle! “Jonathan lies slain on your high places. 26 I am distressed for you, my brother Jonathan; very pleasant have you been to me;your love to me was extraordinary, surpassing the love of women. 27 “How the mighty have fallen, and the weapons of war perished!”
The Scriptures deal with death. God deals with it, and He calls His people to look at this subject without blinking and to deal with the truth and realities it brings to our hearts. Often we don’t talk about death unless we are at a funeral. This morning we are covering the death of Saul and others slain in battle. It is important for us to have God’s biblical perspective on death because:
· Death Claims Everyone (1-4).
· Death Reflects Justice (5-16).
· Death Produces Grief (17-27).
· Death Demands Rescue.
I. Death Claims Everyone (2 Samuel 1:1-4)
The Amalekites were stricken down in war. They were hostage takers or ancient terrorists. We might say “good riddance. They deserved it!”
The Amalekite messenger was killed because he lied about how Saul died for selfish advantage. The Divine record of what really happened is given in 1 Samuel 31. His lie was his undoing because he confessed to killing the Lord’s anointed. David responded with justice to the man’s self-condemnation.
Saul died. He was the Lord’s anointed, the king of Israel, God’s people, and was head and shoulders above everyone else. He was a capable warrior, swifter than an eagle and stronger than a lion. He was headstrong, self-centered, disobedient to God, rash, jealous, and violent. He pursued David to kill him, and he was the murderer of the priests of the Lord.
Our heart goes out to Saul. Even with all the harm he has brought on others, his selfish rebellion against God makes him a tragic, pathetic soul. We knew it could not end well. His folly led him to an untimely grave. His own choices took him that direction, his own hands completing the tragedy as he fell on his sword. His death was just the last in a long line of foolish, tragic decisions. We didn’t want it to happen to Saul, but we knew it was coming.
But then there is Jonathan (and his brothers). Here is where death seems so misplaced. The Scriptures have nothing but high praise for Jonathan. David had no other friend like him all his days on earth, but the sword did not spare him either. Jonathan had been eager to serve under David’s kingship when the time came. In 1 Samuel 23:17 Jonathan says to David, “You shall be king over Israel, and I shall be next to you.” How valuable such a loyal, courageous friend would have been to David in the middle of the political intrigues, pragmatism, and betrayals that life in the royal court involved!
The fact is that David himself would die. His tomb still stands today in Jerusalem. Death claims everyone. Of all the variety of experiences human beings have, this is one that every person on the planet eventually has to face.
Warrior, statesman, criminal, prophet, king, peasant, old men, infants, women, teens, rich, poor, wise people and fools—they all die. There is no escaping it. Every person in this room will die. Every person in this city will die. You will die, and so will I, unless the Lord returns first.
Moses writes about it in Psalm 90:3, 5-6: “You return man to dust and say, ‘Return, O children of man!’ You sweep them away as with a flood; they are like a dream, like grass that is renewed in the morning; in the morning it flourishes and is renewed; in the evening it fades and withers.”
Ecclesiastes 7:2: “It is better to go to the house of mourning than to go to the house of feasting, for this is the end of all mankind, and the living will lay it to heart.” Dying is where all mankind ends.
Psalm 90:12: “So teach us to number our days, that we may get a heart of wisdom.”
When we are young, it is easy to see that feeble people who are bowed over with age may not have much time left to live and that they will soon die. Sometimes, however, the young may be closer to death than the older person. It is easy to think that just old people die, that just men in combat die, or that death is somebody else’s news. The reality is that all of us are going to come to this day. If we are wise, we will pay attention to that reality. We all have only a certain number of days to live. To be wise is to live skillfully, factoring in the fact that you will die. If that is not part of your equation, you will live foolishly. Your life is limited. It is like a rare jewel. It is given for a purpose. If something is in vast supply, it is not as valuable. Life is limited. We do not know when it will end. It is intensely valuable and must be used in the right way. That’s why Ecclesiastes 12:1 says, “Remember your Creator in the days of your youth.” Enjoy life, but remember the accountability of death and live in submission to the One who made you because you are going to die.
This first truth is huge for us. To make wise choices, we must realize that life will soon be over. How do your life choices show your awareness that you will die and stand before God? How would you live if you knew you had only six months to live?
D. A. Carson phrased it this way: “All we have to do is live long enough, and we will be bereaved. All we have to do is live long enough, and we will die. In a fallen world, these points are immutable, yet grief and pain always catch us unawares. We know we are not immune, but there is a suppressed hope that pretends we are. And when our child dies, or our spouse; when we see a loved one wasting away from a painful disease, or observe a brilliant and courteous mind disintegrating before our eyes; when we ourselves suddenly face the most appalling pain or incapacity, with no prospect of relief, then our pretensions rush forward in another form: Why is God doing this? Though it is blasphemous to think it, our whole being cries out that this is unfair of him, that our grief and pain are disproportionate to our sin, that we have been abandoned.” (How Long, O Lord? 97)
II. Death Reflects Justice (2 Samuel 1:5-16)
The justice that death reflects is most clear in the death of the Amalekite messenger. This man has traveled over 80 miles, several days’ journey by foot, to claim his reward for Saul’s death. David holds court on the spot and renders judgment against the self-confessed murderer of the Lord’s anointed. Why is that so important to David?
More than once David had refused to take Saul’s life when it was in his power to do so. His reverence for Saul reflected His reverence for Yahweh, his trust in the Lord’s sovereign choices and timing, his respect for God’s having placed Saul in his position of leadership. Saul’s sins and Saul’s jealous hatred for David did not negate these theological realities. He will receive the kingdom as a gift from God, nothing less. And David does not think the Lord needs “a slight push” (Davis, 2 Samuel: Out of Every Adversity, 14) to fulfill what He’s promised.
Romans 12:19: “Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, ‘Vengeance is mine. I will repay, says the Lord.’”
David didn’t need to take out Saul in a way that was contrary to the will of God because he knew that God could deal with Saul. And God did deal with Saul. David left it to the Lord.
The idea of justice is really important as we deal with death. We don’t like death, but it does reflect the presence of God’s justice in the earth. God told our first parents, “If you disobey me, you will die.” And we have been dying ever since. There is not a one of us here who isn’t a sinner by birth and by choice. With that reality, we choose death. Death is a form of God’s justice. As we deal with realities here, there is a respect for the Lord to give life and to take it. He has that right as the Perfect Judge of all the earth.
At first, Lord, I ask You
To take sides with me.
With David the psalmist
I circled and underlined;
“The Lord is for me . . .”
“Maintain my rights, O Lord . . .”
“Let me stand above my foes . . .”
But with all my pleading
I lay drenched in darkness
Until in utter confusion I cried,
“No, don’t take sides, Lord,
Just take over.”
And suddenly it was morning.
(written by Ruth Harms Calkin, “Take Over,” quoted by Swindoll, David, 126)
Killing Saul would have been entirely self-serving and devoid of faith, just as were the claims of this Amalekite. God knows how to rule His kingdom. He does not need me to give Him help. This Amalekite thinks he can trick David. But he is wrong. And he certainly can’t trick God. Sometimes we think we’ve gotten away with our sin—that no one knows or can find out. We are wrong. The Sovereign Judge of the universe knows. He sees it all. He knows what we did, what we said, what we were thinking. He knows every thought, motive, every desire. We are naked and open before Him (Hebrews 4:12).
Moses said it this way in Psalm 90:8: “You have set our iniquities before you, our secret sins in the light of your presence.”
Jesus preached in Luke 12:1b-5: “Beware the leaven of the Pharisees, which is hypocrisy. Nothing is covered up that will not be revealed, or hidden that will not be known. Therefore whatever you have said in the dark shall be heard in the light, and what you have whispered in private rooms shall be proclaimed on the housetops. I tell you, my friends, do not fear those who kill the body, and after that have nothing more that they can do. But I will warn you whom to fear: fear him who, after he has killed, has authority to cast into hell. Yes, I tell you, fear him!”
Every sin makes its mark on our souls. Every sin is completely exposed before God. Not just that God knows, but that God actively judges. That is why death even exists at all. Every sin I commit makes a mark on my soul. Somebody has to answer for every sin – or Jesus has to take our place to answer for it. Death does not exist just because sin does. Death exists because it is the justice rendered for sin. Death was not original to the “very good” creation. Adam’s sin made it part of our existence. Death is a reminder that God judges sin, and nobody gets away from it.
Romans 5:12: “Therefore, just as sin came into the world through one man, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men because all sinned.”
Psalm 90:9, 11: “For all our days pass away under your wrath; we bring our years to an end like a sigh. Who considers the power of your anger, and your wrath according to the fear of you?”
We all die because we all deserve it. No one escapes death because none of us is without sin—no one escapes judgment—no one escapes God. All creation groans. The very thing atheists point to as proof that God can’t exist is one of the most powerful evidences that He does. Death reflects His justice.
III. Death Produces Grief (2 Samuel 1:17-27)
We are told that David and his men tore their clothes. They mourned, wept, fasted, lamented, and were distressed. We might say, “David, if you were walking with the Lord, you wouldn’t be behaving this way.” Really? Do I really want to take that view? I don’t think so. Jesus wept. He was a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief. He wept over the unbelief, by sin and its ravages, by impending doom on sinners. He was moved with compassion, knew sorrow and anger. This grief and the expression of it was an appropriate response to the disaster that has happened – to the pain, the outrage, the shame, the defeat, and the bereavement. It is appropriate to grieve when someone made in the everlasting image of God dies.
David’s lamentation was not just his spontaneous outburst of grief, but focused, coherent, thought-filled grief written down to be taught to Israel—to be meditated on, to be remembered. There is truth here that bears repetition. We tend to forget how many Psalms are Psalms of lament, not celebration. We are impatient with grief and minimize its importance, but there is a time when we should be remembering, not celebrating. The impact of Saul and Jonathan’s death, the impact of this defeat in the mountains of Gilboa, did not pass in a moment. Grief does not pass in a moment or a week or a year. Not the kind of grief that deeply affects your thinking and your way of dealing with life. It changes you forever—and it should.
David laments the calamity of the death of Saul and his sons, and there is no trace of bitterness or resentment toward Saul. He calls him the glory of Israel. Why? The glory of Israel—their connection with God’s people and hence with God -- make them significant, as does their role in His history. “The mighty have fallen” (refrain—v. 19, 25, 27). These men were heroes. Rather than being cleaned and polished with oil after a successful battle, their shields lay splattered with the blood of the ones the shields were to protect. This is not just a political disaster, nor just a personal setback, it is a spiritual, religious outrage.
It prevents the gloating of the enemy—“tell it not in Gath…” This has ever been David’s core concern. Remember his words to Goliath, “You have defied the armies of the living God!” The Philistines massacre of the Israelite army would generate praise to Dagon that belonged exclusively to Yahweh. That was too much for the man after God’s own heart to bear. He wanted Israel to remember these deaths. He wanted Israel to remember the shame of it. “Remember this, Israel, when you head into battle next time. Remember you fight not for your glory but God’s. His reputation rides with you.” Remember that, Christian, in your deepest valleys and bloodiest battles. It is not just about us. We shine in the earth as God’s people, and how we deal with the battle and weather the storm says something about God. Tragedies like this can generate motivation and determination for future victories. In our own American history we have “Remember the Alamo!”
“The Israeli Armored Corps swear their oath of allegiance on top of the old fortress of Masada . . . where in A.D. 72-73 some 960 Jews held out against . . . [the] Roman army.” After a seven month siege, the Romans broke through, but the Jewish defenders committed suicide rather than give the Roman warriors the chance to spill Jewish blood. Modern warriors take the oath today, “Masada shall not fall again.” Davis, 26
Let your grief over humiliating defeat strengthen your heart for future victories.
“The fields of Gilboa bore no fruit.” Deep grief makes us feel the sun should not shine, life should not go on as normal, and nature seems unnatural. That is the way we should feel. Death is an outrage because it is, in fact, unnatural. It begs to be rectified. That is what the Bible is all about. How we came to die. How we can be restored to life.
IV. Death Demands Rescue
Hebrews 2:14-15: “Since therefore the children share in flesh and blood, he himself likewise partook of the same things, that through death he might destroy the one who has power of death, that is, the devil, and deliver all those who through fear of death were subject to lifelong slavery.”
Jesus came to destroy death. He came to break the power of Satan. He came so that He could look death in the face and not fear it. We know that death is common and claims all of us. We know that death is an expression of God’s justice. So how could He release us from death and God still be just?
Jesus the Messiah took our sin and bore the wrath we deserved, suffered our humiliation, died our death, and broke its power by rising from the dead—the firstborn of the dead, the firstfruits of them that slept.
David himself believed this. He wrote in Psalm 16:10: “For you will not abandon my soul (life, person, self) to Sheol (death, the grave), or let your holy one see corruption. You make known to me the path of life; in your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore.” The whole point of that Psalm is that David is saying that death is not going to hold me. I am going to enjoy pleasures in God’s presence forever.
Job 19:25-27: “For I know that my Redeemer lives, and at the last he will stand upon the earth. And after my skin has thus been destroyed, yet in my flesh I shall see God, whom I shall see for myself, and my eyes shall behold, and not another.”
There is only One who can defeat death. Only God is stronger than death, and it is the God man who has defeated death for us so that we can look at death and not fear it. Death demands rescue.
This is the only way to deal with death – looking at it from the biblical perspective. Death claims everyone. Every one of us deserves it, and death reflects justice. Death produces grief, but that grief is meant to drive us to the One who will wipe away every tear and release us from death itself. Do you know that One? Have you made that trust? Are you clinging to Him?
What does this passage teach us about God?
What does this passage teach us about man?
How does this passage fit into the overall gospel story?
What do we learn as we consider the deaths of the very different people in this text? What do many find difficult about this truth? What might our difficulty with this truth reveal about our belief system?
What is the proper balance when responding to the death of another believer?
What does it reveal about us when we find God unfair in the manner in which a person dies?
What are some evidences that one is living with the reality in mind that he/she will one day die and stand before God? Which of these are evident in your own life? Which are not?
What are some unbiblical attitudes that we have towards death?
What can we learn from David's response toward the death of Saul? What do you find convicting about his response?
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 this passage?
Training in righteousness
How must our thinking be renewed if we are to be transformed by this text?
What must be put off from and put onto our lives if we are to be transformed by this text?
For what from this text can we rejoice?
For what from this text can we repent?
For what from this text can we request, both for ourselves and others?
Hampton Park Baptist Church
July 27, 2014
The Clarity Death Brings
1 Samuel 31
Last time we were talking about David we were finishing out 1 Samuel 30 with a theme that we might not expect to find in the Old Testament. “Love your neighbor as yourself” is a quote from Leviticus. When we love God and we belong to Him it will affect the way we think about people because of the way God thinks about people. We saw that lived out in the life of David as he goes to pursue the Amalekites to capture his family and the families of his men that had been taken after the city had been burned by fire. In the course of that expedition that God had sent him on, we learned something about how people matter. It’s one thing to say you are a people person, but it is another thing to carry that out in the midst of the crisis. We saw that People Matter:
- Broken Throwaways: Divine Tools
- Captive Loved Ones: God-given Recovery
- Weary Brothers: Selfless Sharing
- Hospitable Friends: Grateful Generosity
Now we come to the final chapter in Saul’s life. We reach the end of 1 Samuel and as we look into 2 Samuel when David is to become king, this is the last chapter in that intermediary period. Let’s read 1 Samuel 31:
1 Now the Philistines were fighting against Israel, and the men of Israel fled before the Philistines and fell slain on Mount Gilboa. 2 And the Philistines overtook Saul and his sons, and the Philistines struck down Jonathan and Abinadab and Malchi-shua, the sons of Saul. 3 The battle pressed hard against Saul, and the archers found him, and he was badly wounded by the archers. 4 Then Saul said to his armor-bearer, “Draw your sword, and thrust me through with it, lest these uncircumcised come and thrust me through, and mistreat me.” But his armor-bearer would not, for he feared greatly. Therefore Saul took his own sword and fell upon it. 5 And when his armor-bearer saw that Saul was dead, he also fell upon his sword and died with him. 6 Thus Saul died, and his three sons, and his armor-bearer, and all his men, on the same day together. 7 And when the men of Israel who were on the other side of the valley and those beyond the Jordan saw that the men of Israel had fled and that Saul and his sons were dead, they abandoned their cities and fled. And the Philistines came and lived in them. 8 The next day, when the Philistines came to strip the slain, they found Saul and his three sons fallen on Mount Gilboa. 9 So they cut off his head and stripped off his armor and sent messengers throughout the land of the Philistines, to carry the good news to the house of their idols and to the people. 10 They put his armor in the temple of Ashtaroth, and they fastened his body to the wall of Beth-shan. 11 But when the inhabitants of Jabesh-gilead heard what the Philistines had done to Saul, 12 all the valiant men arose and went all night and took the body of Saul and the bodies of his sons from the wall of Beth-shan, and they came to Jabesh and burned them there. 13 And they took their bones and buried them under the tamarisk tree in Jabesh and fasted seven days.
If you read that for your morning devotions it could almost be as bad as reading the newspaper. What a depressing chapter! Everybody dies. The bad guys win. Let’s move on to something that is uplifting. But this is the Word of God. There is some really important truth here if we remember that this chapter is part of a larger story with greater significance. Everybody dies—yes. But death makes you step back and assess what’s important in life. At a funeral you gain some perspective you don’t have when you’re down in the thick of everyday life. While a death can bring up questions that you can’t answer to your satisfaction, it can help the living get a better grip on reality.
Everybody dies and the bad guys win—yes. But why do they win? And is this the final victory? How does this Philistine victory fit the bigger history? These are questions we want to answer. We want to find the truth. We want to have some clarity and this chapter actually brings clarity to us. It brings clarity the way death brings clarity. When God pronounced the curse on creation after we had fallen, pronounced that curse so we would see more clearly our need and know better where to look for the answer.
The Clarity Death Brings
- Tragedy of Self-Rule (1 Samuel 31:1-8)
- Shame of Idolatry (1 Samuel 31:9-10)
- Courage of Loyalty (1 Samuel 31:11-13)
- Yearning for the Coming King
I. Tragedy of Self-Rule
3 The battle pressed hard against Saul, and the archers found him, and he was badly wounded by the archers. 4 Then Saul said to his armor-bearer, “Draw your sword, and thrust me through with it, lest these uncircumcised come and thrust me through, and mistreat me.” But his armor-bearer would not, for he feared greatly. Therefore Saul took his own sword and fell upon it.
This is a tragic chapter, like a Shakespearian play where at the end everybody dies, the bad guys win, and there is a moral lesson to be taught. The tragedy though is not just Saul’s death, it is the tragedy of self-rule. We see him asking to be slain because he has been mortally wounded. There is no telling what the Philistines would do to him. When his armor bearer is afraid to kill his king, Saul takes his own sword and falls on it and the Scripture says that he died.
It is always a tragedy when all the options are gone and the only way out a person can see is to take his life. Yet this is a very common way to exit this stage of his life. It is understandable when we see the trouble Saul is in. He had set out on this tragic suicidal course long before when he could not bring himself to wait for Samuel to come to offer the burnt offering because he saw the people scattering from him at a time he needed to muster the troops for battle against the Philistines. He showed himself a man more concerned about having favor with the people than having favor with God and trusting God for the victory. Samuel predicted the end of his kingdom, and that God had found a man after God’s own heart that would take Saul’s place.
Later Saul disobeyed God’s clear command to destroy the Amalekites and all they possessed completely, pretended to have obeyed it, and then excused his disobedience because of what the people wanted and for the sake of making sacrifices to God in worship. Samuel called Saul’s action what it was—rebellion. He said it was just like witchcraft. Witchcraft seeks power apart from God and in disobedience to God and Saul was looking for power apart from God for his own benefit. It never works that way. Witchcraft, Satan, the world, all appeal to natural desires we have. If you try to fulfill those desires outside the will of God you make your life a tragedy. It is unavoidable.
After that, selfish, rash, and unstable, Saul’s life spirals downward. David’s rise creates a poison jealousy that breaks out in using his daughter to lure David into battles against the Philistines he hopes will destroy the young hero. He insults and threatens his son Jonathan, who loves David with courageous, self-forgetful loyalty. He tries to kill David and at one point throws his spear to try to kill Jonathan. Later he commands the slaughter of the priests of the Lord. This is a man who is rudderless, whose compass is whirling like he is in the Devil’s triangle.
His life is one bad choice after another, and as he flails away, anyone around him gets hurt. He even reaches a point where he freely confesses his foolish error, but he never repents from it. He never embraces God’s will as best. He never throws his support behind God’s mad or the Lord’s purposes and plans. He never becomes loving and supportive of those who love God. He is so self-absorbed that he cannot admit that he is wrong. He is tormented, but he will not bow the knee to the King of the Universe. Instead he seeks counsel from a witch and heads into battle knowing he will not survive the day.
People who live their life like Saul are legion. They would rather serve self even if doing takes them down to the grave than to have to submit to God, who alone can grant recovery, blessing, and pleasures forevermore. Saul’s affection is entirely earthbound. His wisdom is the wisdom of man. His goals are confined to the kingdom of self. God’s rule was a threat to him, not a joy. That’s the definition of tragedy.
When you look at gold and consider it dirt; when you look at water and consider it poison; when you look at wealth and consider it poverty; when you look at life and consider it death: when your thinking is entirely backwards, that is tragedy. Anyone living such a life lives out a tragedy that is inherently self-destructive. We were made by God, and we were created for His glory. We were created to know God, serve Him, glorify Him and enjoy Him forever. When we turn from that purpose we turn from what it is to be human. It is inherently self-destructive.
Yet it is the story of the human race. When we as a people chose to disobey God back in the Garden of Eden, we set out on a suicidal course. God said it would happen that way: “In the day you eat of it, you shall die.” It was a spiritual death, a creeping physical death. As you read the cadence of that history in Genesis, people were living to unbelievable lengths of time compared to our time, but every life ends with “and he died.” This is the suicide of turning against God.
We have been a dying race in need of a Savior ever since. Until we reach the point when we are sick and tired of our sinning and dying enough to yield our stubborn wills to God and cast ourselves in faith on the mercy of God we continue on that suicidal, dying course. You never see Saul do that. To his dying day it was all about him: his success, his image, his dynasty, his way, his folly, his disaster. This is the Tragedy of Self-Rule.
As we look through the lens of death and look at our own lives, it brings us to these questions we must ask ourselves:
Who rules your life?
Why do you do the things you do?
In what ways are you seeking God’s counsel?
When God shows you what to do, how are you carrying out God’s commands?
Life goes so quickly, but it goes day by day. Are you living your life according to God’s will or is your life just another tragedy playing itself out because of self-rule?
II. Shame of Idolatry
8 The next day, when the Philistines came to strip the slain, they found Saul and his three sons fallen on Mount Gilboa. 9 So they cut off his head and stripped off his armor and sent messengers throughout the land of the Philistines, to carry the good news to the house of their idols and to the people. 10 They put his armor in the temple of Ashtaroth, and they fastened his body to the wall of Beth-shan.
When God’s people stray from God’s authority, they lose His blessing and power, and their inevitable defeats feed the boasts of those who worship idols. The best argument against Christianity is a professing Christian who has lost the power of God because he is engaging in the tragedy of self-rule.
Idolatry and shame go together. Idolatry degrades God because it tries to redefine him and confine him to human appetites and ideas. It puts man’s wishes in place of the God who actually exists. Those who worship idols degrade themselves. We were made for something higher than worshiping something less than what we are. An idol is something that man fashions; it is less than man. It cannot see, hear, or smell. It cannot rescue. It is a creation of man, less than man. Man has power over it. He sustains the idol, the idol does not sustain him. We were made for the God who created us. We were made for God to lead us, carry us, to make us what He wants us to be for His glory. We were made to have interaction with the infinite, eternal, almighty, all-knowing God who loves us with an everlasting love. We were not made to give our lives to things, to objects, to creations of man. When we do, we degrade ourselves.
If you are going to be a slave, the value of your slavery has to do with whom you are serving. Who are you working for? We should not want to work for something that is less than we are. Why would we want to live for anything less than God when you look at what God offers? Idolatry degrades human beings and they become blind and deaf and dumb like the idols they serve.
Saul, while we are not told that he worshiped idols, still gave his life to what was less than God. His life was an idolatry of self.
Think for a moment of all you know about yourself. Would you want to go in for the job application for the “God position?” Think of what God promises and can do. Do you want to step into those shoes and try to do that for yourself? It is just as foolish to make a god of ourselves as to make a god of some inanimate object and worship it. We cannot save ourselves. We are helpless and hopeless without God. Even as believers, if God removes His blessing we lose our way.
Saul had that kind of life and his life ends with his headless body nailed to the temple of idols. His shame was declared throughout the land of Philistia. It is the shame of anyone who serves anything or anyone less than God Himself.
What do you love, trust, or fear to lose more than God? Whatever that is, that is you idol and that idol will bring you shame. It will destroy and reduce you. If you live for something smaller than yourself or no greater than yourself, your life is not lifted upward, it spirals downward. It has to be that way. Some of you have most of your years behind you on this earth. Some of you are more at the beginning stage. Who are you going to live for, serve, worship? What do you want your life to be? Choose well, because that will determine whether your life is uplifting or whether it is a downward, tragic kind of life.
III. Courage of Loyalty
11 But when the inhabitants of Jabesh-gilead heard what the Philistines had done to Saul, 12 all the valiant men arose and went all night and took the body of Saul and the bodies of his sons from the wall of Beth-shan, and they came to Jabesh and burned them there. 13 And they took their bones and buried them under the tamarisk tree in Jabesh and fasted seven days.
Early in his career King Saul rescued the town of Jabesh-gilead. They never forgot it. Their loyalty to Saul and to the nation continued. It spurred them to undertake a courageous mission to rescue the bodies of Saul and his sons in order to give them an honorable burial.
Their loyalty reminds us of the kind of loyal love Saul’s son Jonathan displayed toward David at his own risk. He was faithful to David. He was faithful to his father. This gift of Yahweh (meaning of his name) shows a selflessness one rarely encounters. He willingly laid aside claims to a kingdom God had declared was David’s. He endured abuse from his father because of his faithful love to his friend. At the same time Jonathan willingly dies alongside his father on the battlefield because his calling is to stick with where God has called him to serve, even if he dies for it. One man put it this way: “He surrendered his kingship to David. . . He sacrificed his life for Saul.” Davis, 182
These men of Jabesh-gilead had the same kind of courage and loving loyalty. Such strength of character reminds us of a coming royal one who emptied himself and became obedient unto death, even death on a cross. Loving loyalty to the death. Recall that Jesus told His followers, “If you will lose your life for my sake and the gospel you will find it.” The Christian life is a courageous, self-forgetting kind of life. When you reach the end and are looking back, you won’t be gloating over the easy days. You will find the most satisfying memories are where you laid it all on the line to serve Jesus and to love others because that’s what life is for. Don’t let fear of what might happen to you keep you from exercising courageous, loving loyalty to fulfill the will of God.
IV. Yearning for the Coming King
The yearning manifested itself long before during the days of the Judges when there was no king in Israel and every man did what was right in his own eyes. There was a hunger for a king who would lead rightly and give direction to the nation. Israel clamored to be like the nations around them, pressing Samuel to anoint them a king. Saul was that man. He was head and shoulders above everyone else in the kingdom, yet unassuming and humble. He seemed like the perfect leader Israel hungered for.
But he quickly proved a disappointment. He was worried about his popularity, self-focused, disobedient to God, rash and reckless in his authority. The longer his life went the more foolish and dangerous he became: threatening his godly son Jonathan, seeking to kill David, chasing him all over kingdom come, murdering innocent priests and their families, seeking to find truth from a witch when he no longer heard from the God whose commands he had spurned. Saul became toxic to everyone around him. His broken relationship with God spoiled everything else about his life. The nation groaned under his tyranny, and many disillusioned men of valor chose to follow fugitive David instead. Saul’s own career created a yearning for a coming king.
Ever since the prophet Samuel anointed young David to be the future king, we have been eagerly waiting to see him come to the throne. His introduction to the court to play for demon-tormented Saul and his amazing victory over Goliath made the throne seem just a step away. But then the accolades gave way to deadly jealousy and years of living on the run.
David had refused to strike the Lord’s anointed in order to gain what the prophet had promised, but now Saul was dead. The long fugitive years are over. Finally, finally, he was about to wear the crown. As we cross over into 2 Samuel, David will assume the throne, first in Judah, then seven years later all of Israel. It has been a long journey. We breathe a sigh of relief. The man after God’s own heart now leads God’s people. But—
But David has already shown us that he can blow hot and cold, sometimes going months without direction from the Lord. David can lie. David can be angry and cruel. David has already started marrying multiple wives contrary to God’s command for Israel’s kings recorded in Deuteronomy 17. Serving as king will not turn him into a sinless saint. He will still make mistakes. He will sin grievously. David’s family and his kingdom will suffer the shock of it. And we will be left still yearning for a coming King, who will rule perfectly in righteousness, who will save us from the calamity of our own sinful rebellion.
That is exactly what the historical accounts recorded in 1 and 2 Samuel, 1 and 2 Kings, and 1 and 2 Chronicles are designed to awaken in us. We long for the perfect Savior-King. And according to the Old Testament, He is coming. We cross over into the New Testament and the first verse, Matthew 1:1, declares, “He is here! And His name is Jesus Christ—the God-man Savior, the Messiah—anointed by God Himself.” He is the everlasting King, the King of Righteousness with no sin to His credit. He will rescue His people. He is God in the flesh. That’s why He is good news.
When we travel through the history of the Bible, through the history of the world and our lives and our times, there is this hunger and yearning that starts to well up in us. God, how long till you send s the Righteous King who will save us? Every leader but Jesus will disappoint you. Seek Him. Trust Him. Follow Him. Obey Him. He has tasted and conquered death. Death will die and be His footstool. He can save us from everything that would destroy us. This is the coming King.
This is the King who will rescue us. Saul describes the battle in his own life between what he wants to do that is right and the sin that dwells in him. He cries out in Romans 7:24-25, “Wretched man that I am, who will deliver me from this body of death?” Then he answers his own question: “Thanks be to God, through Jesus, the Messiah, our Lord.” This is the King we need. When death strikes, when we face terminal disease, when we see leaders disappoint us, this all points us in the same direction. There is only One King and His name is Jesus Christ. If death can make that clear to you, then death has done its job. The clarity that death brings ultimately takes you to Jesus Christ. You can’t live without him and you will die apart from Him.
LifeGroup Questions: The Clarity Death Brings
1 Samuel 31
· What does this passage reveal about the doctrine of God, specifically His sovereignty? What are some hard things to understand about the way that God worked in this passage?
· What does this passage reveal about the doctrine of man?
· Where does this passage fit into the gospel story?
· Saul lived a life dominated by self-rule. What are some areas of your life dominated by this same self-rule?
· What were some of the tragic results of Saul's self-rule in this passage? What have been some of the tragic results of our own self-rule?
· What things in your life do you love, trust, and fear to lose more than God? In others words, what idols do you find in your own heart?
· The men of Jabesh-Gilead honored the memory of Saul and his sons with risk-taking courage. How has fear kept us from submitting ourselves to the will of the Lord or sacrificially serving others?
· By God's grace and for His glory, what are some areas in your life in which you are currently seeking God's counsel and submitting to His will?
· 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 this passage?
Training in righteousness
· How must our thinking be renewed if we are to be transformed by this text?
· What must be put off from and put onto our lives if we are to be transformed by this text?
· For what from this text can we rejoice?
· For what from this text can we repent?
· For what from this text can we request, both for ourselves and others?
Pastor Drew Conley
Hampton Park Baptist Church
July 20, 2014
1 Samuel 30:7-31
In the first 10 verses of 1 Samuel 30 God had untangled David from having to join the Philistines in battle against Israel. Yet when he and his men returned home they found their city, Ziklag, burned with fire and all their families carried off with the spoil. His men threatened to stone him, but David encouraged himself in the Lord. His response might not seem all that significant for a man after God’s own heart except that sixteen months have passed in his life since the last time the Bible recorded His seeking God in his troubles. He had survived by pragmatism and deception, but such tactics are no substitute for walking with God. So as hard as the Ziklag experience was for David, the shock of it drove him back to the Lord, and that was a good thing.
Let your distress drive you to God – Remember God. Ask God. Obey God.
7 And David said to Abiathar the priest, the son of Ahimelech, “Bring me the ephod.” So Abiathar brought the ephod to David. 8 And David inquired of the Lord, “Shall I pursue after this band? Shall I overtake them?” He answered him, “Pursue, for you shall surely overtake and shall surely rescue.” 9 So David set out, and the six hundred men who were with him, and they came to the brook Besor, where those who were left behind stayed. 10 But David pursued, he and four hundred men. Two hundred stayed behind, who were too exhausted to cross the brook Besor. 11 They found an Egyptian in the open country and brought him to David. And they gave him bread and he ate. They gave him water to drink, 12 and they gave him a piece of a cake of figs and two clusters of raisins. And when he had eaten, his spirit revived, for he had not eaten bread or drunk water for three days and three nights. 13 And David said to him, “To whom do you belong? And where are you from?” He said, “I am a young man of Egypt, servant to an Amalekite, and my master left me behind because I fell sick three days ago. 14 We had made a raid against the Negeb of the Cherethites and against that which belongs to Judah and against the Negeb of Caleb, and we burned Ziklag with fire.” 15 And David said to him, “Will you take me down to this band?” And he said, “Swear to me by God that you will not kill me or deliver me into the hands of my master, and I will take you down to this band.” 16 And when he had taken him down, behold, they were spread abroad over all the land, eating and drinking and dancing, because of all the great spoil they had taken from the land of the Philistines and from the land of Judah. 17 And David struck them down from twilight until the evening of the next day, and not a man of them escaped, except four hundred young men, who mounted camels and fled. 18 David recovered all that the Amalekites had taken, and David rescued his two wives. 19 Nothing was missing, whether small or great, sons or daughters, spoil or anything that had been taken. David brought back all. 20 David also captured all the flocks and herds, and the people drove the livestock before him, and said, “This is David's spoil.” 21 Then David came to the two hundred men who had been too exhausted to follow David, and who had been left at the brook Besor. And they went out to meet David and to meet the people who were with him. And when David came near to the people he greeted them. 22 Then all the wicked and worthless fellows among the men who had gone with David said, “Because they did not go with us, we will not give them any of the spoil that we have recovered, except that each man may lead away his wife and children, and depart.” 23 But David said, “You shall not do so, my brothers, with what the Lord has given us. He has preserved us and given into our hand the band that came against us. 24 Who would listen to you in this matter? For as his share is who goes down into the battle, so shall his share be who stays by the baggage. They shall share alike.” 25 And he made it a statute and a rule for Israel from that day forward to this day.26 When David came to Ziklag, he sent part of the spoil to his friends, the elders of Judah, saying, “Here is a present for you from the spoil of the enemies of the Lord.” 27 It was for those in Bethel, in Ramoth of the Negeb, in Jattir, 28 in Aroer, in Siphmoth, in Eshtemoa, 29 in Racal, in the cities of the Jerahmeelites, in the cities of the Kenites, 30 in Hormah, in Bor-ashan, in Athach, 31 in Hebron, for all the places where David and his men had roamed.
These verses fall into four sections, each dealing with a different set of people:
I. Broken Throwaways: Divine Tools (11-15)
II. Captive Loved Ones: God-given Recovery (16-20)
III. Weary Brothers: Selfless Sharing (21-15)
IV. Hospitable Friends: Grateful Generosity (26-31)
The first kind of people we meet in these verses (11-15) in the person of the Egyptian slave is the Broken Throwaways. We see that they are actually are divine tools to accomplish God’s will. David’s treatment of this throwaway became part of God’s provision for regaining what David lost. In verses 16-20 we see Captive Loved Ones and a God-given recovery. Then in verses 21-25 we see Weary Brothers and the response to them is selfless sharing. Finally we see Hospitable Friends in verses 26-31, and David shows them grateful generosity.
People Matter! We would not expect it in the Old Testament in the midst of blood, war and fugitives. This is a theme we would expect to find in the New Testament. The reality is that the Old and New Testament declare one theme—the changeless character of God. People matter to God. He accomplishes His purposes through them. They also matter to the godly. The truly godly understand God’s heart and God’s grace not only to us but also to others.
I. Broken Throwaways: Divine Tools (1 Samuel 30:11-15)
11 They found an Egyptian in the open country and brought him to David. And they gave him bread and he ate. They gave him water to drink, 12 and they gave him a piece of a cake of figs and two clusters of raisins. And when he had eaten, his spirit revived, for he had not eaten bread or drunk water for three days and three nights. 13 And David said to him, “To whom do you belong? And where are you from?” He said, “I am a young man of Egypt, servant to an Amalekite, and my master left me behind because I fell sick three days ago.
They found an abandoned throwaway. He was dying of exposure, hunger, and thirst, but he was ministered to by those on God-directed mission. It was not even clear that they knew he was associated with the fleeing Amalakites. They may have suspected it, but they treated him as a person made in the image of God. After he has revived, David questioned him and found out that he was part of the Amalakite family. He was abandoned because he was sick and of no use to his master—but of great use to God and God’s people. The success of the whole rescue operation hinges on the “chance” finding of this abandoned Egyptian slave.
Think about what this teaches you about God. God has everything, including human beings, at His disposal to accomplish His good pleasure and to fulfill His promises to His people. God used the illness of an Egyptian slave and the heartless response of his Amalekite master. He directed the steps of David and his men to happen upon this slave in the open field. His desperation opened his heart to kindness and shifted his loyalties from the enemies of God to the people of God.
David’s kindness to the slave (3x “they gave”) convinced him to be a crucial informant for finding the Amalekites. In fact, David’s behavior in this chapter is entirely consistent with the character of God. What happens when a man is walking with God. And David finally is doing so again.
God’s whole plan of salvation displays grace, mercy, love toward broken people aligned with God’s enemies. The state of the human race, drowning in its own sin and death, the twisted, broken, marred universe—all this looks hopeless, broken beyond repair. But God rescues broken throwaways and makes them instruments of blessing to accomplish His purposes in the earth. When God came in the flesh in the person of Jesus Christ, look at how He treated broken people destroyed by sin and its curse. He said, “Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” (Matthew 11:28-20)
And they came – a hated tax collector among his chosen band of apostles, lepers, deaf, dumb, blind, demon-possessed, dead; women, children, self-righteous Pharisees, and heart-broken prostitutes, pagan Romans and Greeks. These all heard his invitations to life and many came. Those who did felt His power to save from dread disease, sin’s tyranny, and death’s suffocating grip.
Why God not only can save you and use you but is pleased to do so, however sordid your history and sin-produced troubles. Jesus is so seriously committed to this restoration work that He took your sin on Himself and died to satisfy the death penalty our sin deserves, rose again, and intercedes for you even now.
You might think of your life as so messed up that no one – not even God – would want part of it. But that is not the way God is. He takes the broken throwaways. He binds the brokenhearted. He looks at the humble soul in the dust and says, “Mine.” I love you. I you enough to die for you .I love you enough to make you my own and give you an everlasting inheritance. Even a person like David has proven to be a person full of flaws, yet God keeps reaching into his life and moving him toward God’s purposes for his life. This is the gospel in the Old and New Testaments. This is what the story is. This is the point of it all. The more we are in tune with our thinking with the gospel and the God who created it and the Christ who brought it to pass, the more we understand how to treat people.
1 Corinthians 1:27: “God uses the weak things of the world to confound the mighty.” How we respond to broken people reveals how well we understand God. Look what He has done for us.
Romans 15:1: “We who are strong have an obligation to bear with the failings of the weak, and not to please ourselves.”
1 Corinthians 12:22: “Those parts of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable. We cannot say ‘I have no need of you’.”
James 1:27: “Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world.”
James 2: Here we are instructed to show no partiality. Don’t treat the wealthy man in fine clothing better than the poor man in shabby clothing.
James 3:17: “If anyone has the world’s goods and sees his brother in need, yet closes his heart against him, how does God’s love abide in him?”
How do you respond to needy people – people who are broken in body and mind, backslidden, and ruined by sin? Here’s their hope and yours—a God who salvages broken people and makes them key to amazing victories. He makes them part of this victory march that centers in the cross but leads to a throne. Never underestimate the immense value of a broken throwaway rescued by God for His use.
II. Captive Loved Ones: God-given Recovery (I Samuel16-20)
The second group of people we meet is the captive loved-ones. You have a repeated thought – recovered all, nothing was missing, brought by all, captured all.
18 David recovered all that the Amalekites had taken, and David rescued his two wives. 19 Nothing was missing, whether small or great, sons or daughters, spoil or anything that had been taken. David brought back all. 20 David also captured all the flocks and herds
The driving reason for the campaign was the fact that few experiences reach our hearts more than when our loved ones are at risk. You remember that after 16 months of David’s apparent self-sufficiency, the burning of Ziklag and the capture of his family along with the families of his men is what God used to knock out all the props and set him seeking after God once again. God knows what your heart treasures most. He will put His finger there when He is doing transforming work in your life.
Not every battle brings a victory, not every rescue operation achieves its objective, but God had promised David this outcome: “And David inquired of the Lord, “Shall I pursue after this band? Shall I overtake them?” (v. 8) He answered him, “Pursue, for you shall surely overtake and shall surely rescue.” Whatever God promises, you can count on. When you act on the promises and direction of God, your risk tolerance goes way up—you can’t lose. Courageous undertaking is the only policy that makes sense.
Your family is worth fighting for. Go after the enemies that threaten their safety or that hold them hostage. Use the weapons God has given for spiritual warfare with great confidence in the One who has proven throughout human history that the battle is, in fact, the Lord’s. It is not a battle you can win, but it is a battle you can’t lose if God is in it and God is at work.
Consider further that those who are children of God through the Savior-King Christ Jesus, have a Sovereign Father who does battle royal for them. “All things work together for good to them that love God, who are the called according to His purpose.” Think about the lengths God has gone to rescue you as His child. It is extraordinary. It would be the stuff of fantasy if it were not true. “If God be for us, who can be against us?”(Romans 8:31). A church family that understands this goes to all lengths individually and corporately to look after those at risk, those taken captive by the enemy of our souls, casualties of spiritual war. The little ones. The lambs. The wounded.
III. Weary Brothers: Selfless Sharing (I Samuel 30:21-25)
The third group of people we see is the weary brothers.
21 The two hundred men who had been too exhausted to follow David, and who had been left at the brook Besor. 22 Then all the wicked and worthless fellows among the men who had gone with David said, “Because they did not go with us, we will not give them any of the spoil that we have recovered, except that each man may lead away his wife and children, and depart.” 23 But David said, “You shall not do so, my brothers, with what the Lord has given us. He has preserved us and given into our hand the band that came against us. 24 Who would listen to you in this matter? For as his share is who goes down into the battle, so shall his share be who stays by the baggage. They shall share alike.” 25 And he made it a statute and a rule for Israel from that day forward to this day.
David has such wisdom in how he deals with them. He reminds them of what the Lord has given them. The wicked, worthless fellows are operating out of greed, selfishness, and lack of appreciation for the contribution of others. It seems they have already forgotten what happened when they left Ziklag undefended. It only made sense to leave those who could not make the journey to do their part by guarding the baggage the warriors could not take with them when speed was so critical.
This shows to us that carnal people devalue those they think have lesser abilities and responsibilities. Those filled with the Spirit see more clearly. We each have our assigned roles in the body of Christ.
1 Corinthians 12:4-7, 21-26:
“4 Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit; 5 and there are varieties of service, but the same Lord; 6 and there are varieties of activities, but it is the same God who empowers them all in everyone. 7 To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good. 21 The eye cannot say to the hand, “I have no need of you,” nor again the head to the feet, “I have no need of you.” 22 On the contrary, the parts of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable, 24 . . . But God has so composed the body, giving greater honor to the part that lacked it, 25 that there may be no division in the body, but that the members may have the same care for one another. 26 If one member suffers, all suffer together; if one member is honored, all rejoice together.
Jesus Christ built the church, created His body, the church, to display this reality. It is about God. It is about what the Lord is doing. People matter, but it is not that we are people-centered. We are God-centered, and God is at work in and through people who otherwise would be useless throwaways. Because we recognize that, we don’t elevate one above another or treat one group as though they are more valuable than another. If we belong to Jesus Christ, we are all part of the same body.
If you saw a severed finger on the sideway, what would you be asking? You immediately would want to know to whom it belonged. The finger would be significant, but your concern would be for the person to whom it belonged. I am not significant. You are not significant. We are significant because of who we belong to. If we are in Christ, we are part of His body, and we are significant.
The person sitting next to you may have a vastly different personality, but you are part of the same body if you both have accepted Jesus Christ as Savior. Because they are part of the body, you treat them with the Spirit of God – the Spirit of love, help, and value.
Now we come to the fourth group of people.
IV. Hospitable Friends: Grateful Generosity (1 Samuel 30:26-31)
26 When David came to Ziklag, he sent part of the spoil to his friends, the elders of Judah, saying, “Here is a present for you from the spoil of the enemies of the Lord.”
31 . . . for all the places where David and his men had roamed.
These are the ones whose territories David has roamed during all those years of fleeing from Saul. He sent part of his spoils to his friends, the elders of Judah, saying here is a present for you from the spoil of the enemies of the LORD— an important reality. God had given them the spoil. The battle was fought not only because David’s family needed to be rescued. The battle was fought because these were the enemies of God. It had been so for centuries. You recall that King Saul’s first great disobedience was failing to obey completely God’s command to destroy the Amalekites. Throughout Saul’s reign, right to the report of his death in 2 Samuel 1, the Amalekites kept showing up like a bad dream. The Amalekites were a thorn in the flesh.
Are the Amalekites people God doesn’t care about – do they matter to Him? We know the gospel is for all ethnicities, but consider this sobering reality. You set yourself against God—His purposes, His people—and you are adopting a suicidal course of action. God will take you down. You can’t win. If you humble yourself, repenting of your sin, and trusting in Him, you can’t lose. Christ died for us when we were still His enemies. But His work of grace in us does not leave us rebels. It makes us children who delight to do their Father’s will. As long as we are enemies of God we are in deep trouble.
David’s words also form the basis for his giving so much of the spoil away. It is spoil the Lord gave (v. 23). It is spoil from the enemies of the Lord. All this stuff is God’s stuff. God’s victory. So David uses it for God’s glory. He gives much of it away. To whom? To those whose land he had been living off of during his fugitive years. He did not forget them. What the Lord had given him was in part theirs by virtue of their help over the years.
If you are not giving away some of “your stuff,” you do not fully understand whose stuff it is and where it came from. If you are not giving to the Lord, you are sinning against the Lord. You are blaspheming Him. You are acting like you did it all, and you are aligning yourself with the worthless and wicked fellows.
Think back over the years of your life. To whom do you own gratitude? Who has helped you survive? Whose lives have you made more complicated? Whose good graces have you benefitted from?
Okay, when God gives you opportunity, how can you acknowledge your awareness of their contribution to your life? How can you show them grateful generosity?
David’s God-reflecting behavior toward these of people groups (broken throwaways, captive loved ones, weary brothers, hospitable friends) is what we would expect from the anointed king to be, the man after God’s own heart. More significant yet, it is behavior that points us to the loving character of a great Anointed One than David: David’s distant son, Jesus Christ.
Jesus came into the world to save not the self-sufficient righteous ones, but the sinners, the broken throwaways. Not until I realize that I am among them do I recognize my great need for a Savior. When He opens my heart and rescues me, I find it a joy to join His army on the march to certain victory.
It is a victory that recovers His children, whom He has loved from eternity past and will love forever. He will not fail in His rescue. He will not lose one soul the Father has given to Him. John 6:37: “All that the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never cast out. . . . 39 And this is the will of him who sent me, that I should lose nothing of all that he has given me, but raise it up on the last day. For this is the will of my Father, that everyone who looks on the Son and believes in him should have eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day.”
He values every member of His body, assigning to each ability and function to build up the whole body in love.
And when Jesus rose from the dead He gave gifts to men so that the church could function in this way. It is a foretaste of greater joys ahead because He has made us joint-heirs with Him of an everlasting kingdom, an inheritance among the saints that never fades, reserved in heaven for us. Because of Jesus we can say with the Psalmist: “Surely goodness and mercy shall pursue me all the days of my life, and I shall dwell in the house of the LORD forever!”
1. How does the truth that God rescues broken throwaways and makes them His tools to accomplish His purposes impact your view of yourself and of others?
2. Why do you think God describes the men who did not want to share the spoil with the weary ones who stayed by the baggage as worthless and wicked? What insight does such a description (and David’s response) give you into how important it is to treat the weary and unappreciated members of the body well?
3. Who are some of the people that have contributed to your life and how have you shown generous gratitude to them?
Pastor Drew Conley
Hampton Park Baptist Church
July 13, 2014