This is a sneak preview of the draft of my talk for the 9.30am service tomorrow morning on 1 Samuel 24.
Over the past few weeks I have been helping with the Alpha meetings and during the discussions as part of one of these, we were talking about the nature of church. We then got talking about sermons. It is interesting that in the New Testament, teaching as a sermon is very rare. The teaching given, is normally in response to a situation, event or a question. We might think of the Sermon on the Mount but that probably took place over the course of several hours. The one place where a sermon type talk is mentioned is in Acts 20 v8-9 Here Paul is doing the teaching and the passage says - there were many lamps in the upper room where we were gathered together. And there was a young man named Eutychus sitting on the window sill, sinking into a deep sleep; and as Paul kept on talking, he was overcome by sleep and fell down from the third floor and was picked up dead.
Fortunately in v10 it says that Paul goes on to heal him .. Now I hope I am not too boring and don't send you into a deep sleep. In reality it is not what I say but how you react to what I say, that is important.
James 1 v22 says “Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says. Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like someone who looks at his face in a mirror and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like”
Poor David – He is still on the run from Saul. He has gone from being the peoples favourite, Saul’s musician, anointed as the next king by Samuel, to now being chased by Saul and 3000 troops. They have ended up in the area called En Gedi by the Dead Sea. This is where there were plenty of hiding places and food and water. V3 mentions sheep. It is suggested that the shepherds used the cave complex in the area to house their sheep when needed – when the weather was bad or overnight. So the floor of the caves were probably pretty mucky.
We can now join the dots. Saul wanted a bit of privacy whilst he went to the loo. He was wearing the royal robe that marked him out as king. Though we do not actually know what the robe was like it was probably pretty smart. He would not have wanted to get it dirty so he could well have taken it off and laid it on a dry bit of stone before getting down to the business of relieving himself.
David and his fellow men were hiding at the back of the cave. They had probably gone further and further into the cave complex as Saul got closer and it became obvious as to what Saul was going to do. Saul has been chasing them around for a long time. Could this be the opportunity that they have been waiting for. A chance to remove Saul once and for all. Certainly some of David’s men seem to think so as it says in v4 The men said, “This is the day the Lord spoke of when he said to you, ‘I will give your enemy into your hands for you to deal with as you wish.’
David then has to make a split second choice as to what he is going to do. Does he kill Saul or not.
Ok lets leave the story here and spend a little time thinking how it might apply to us. In all probability we are not about to make the choice of whether or not we are going to kill someone but we do have to make quick decisions in our everyday lives. They may be about money, relationships, affairs of the heart or perhaps more mundanely how we react to things happening to us or what we say and do. As we don't have too much time we will only consider the last couple that I have listed.
Imagine you are hammering in a nail and bang your thumb with the hammer. Or as I did the other day trying to walking through a door and don't see the glass and crash into it. Besides the cry of pain what else comes out your mouth..
Luke 6:v45 says A good man brings good things out of the good stored up in his heart, and an evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in his heart. For the mouth speaks what the heart is full of. NIV
Ok maybe that is not really fair... What about what we say and do we do it. Are we truthful and honest. If needing to say something in a hurry does a little white lie just pop out. I have a Christian friend who has been in sales and marketing for long time and he is very good at it. Sadly he says he assumes that people are lying to him until they prove otherwise then he is not hurt..
Leviticus 19 v11 "'Do not steal. "'Do not lie. "'Do not deceive one another.
Proverbs 19 v9 A false witness will not go unpunished, and he who breathes out lies will perish.
The Open bible info website provided me with 100 verses from the bible about lying. http://www.openbible.info/topics/liar I will not list any more but it evidently an important subject.
Yes but a lie or a falsehood can be both carried out by omission just as much by commission. So if you say you are going to do something and don't make any effort to do it then surely that is also a lie. For example you say you are going to tidy the house, it takes roughly 3 -4 hours to do it but only give yourself 15 minutes to do the task just before it needs to be completed, it won't get done however quick you try. Or you are going to meet someone at say 10am in the morning. It takes 15 minutes to get there and 5 mins to get ready. So if you are not ready to leave by 9.40 then you are going to be late. If it is an unavoidable delay say you have a flat tyre on the car then that is ok, but if it is because you were chatting till 10am to someone else then you probably had no real intention of getting there for 10am. So why say you are going to be there for 10am.
Ahh but does it really matter you may be thinking. When I left one of my past jobs, the people I worked with said a few words about me at a fair-well get together, you may have had something similar yourself. I thought they would say a few things about some of the things I had done as part of the job, but no part of what was said was that they had never heard me swear and I was a person of my word both of which were rare qualities in that organisation. People do notice the little things. I am not saying this to boast but to say that something which was my normal day to day behaviour all be it a little OCD, was more memorable to others than the bigger projects that I had done.
If we go back to the Luke 6 passage the Message translation gives us this You don’t get wormy apples off a healthy tree, nor good apples off a diseased tree. The health of the apple tells the health of the tree. It goes on to say. Your true being brims over into true words and deeds.
And Matthew 15 v8 says But the things that come out of a person’s mouth come from the heart
So our split second decisions reflect on our true being. There is not time to cover them up. We are fortunate as we have the bible as our handbook to life. If we now go back to David. He did not have the Bible, but he did have the some of the books of the Old Testament as his guide.
If we briefly look at a couple of these that he probably knew.
Deuteronomy 6 v1 These are the commands, decrees and laws the Lord your God directed me to teach you to observe in the land that you are crossing. This section goes on and if we jump to v5 Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Write them on the door frames of your houses and on your gates.
So David would have been brought up knowing Gods laws. In Exodus 20 we have the Ten Commandments. One of these listed in v13 states that one should not kill
David also knows that Saul was anointed King by Samuel on God's instructions We read this in 1 Samuel chapter 10 where Samuel anoints Saul and proclaims him as the Lords Chosen King. So when David is given advice by his followers 1 Samuel 24 v4 The men said, “This is the day the Lord spoke of when he said to you, ‘I will give your enemy into your hands for you to deal with as you wish.’”
David now has a dilemma - Does he follow the advice that he has just been given or does he do what he has been told all through his life.
You may have noticed that I have been helping with doing the overheads for the songs recently. Some of the songs have the words in a different order to how we sing them here in Kirkcudbright. In these cases I have to make a decision as to what comes next. Is it as the song says on the computer or something different. In each case I have to make a split decision as to what words come next. Do I rely on my past memories or do I use what someone else is telling me via the computer screen?
We read in 1 Samuel 13:v14 that David was “a man after God’s own heart”
David has to make a split second decision Does he kill Saul or not? This would stop all the chasing and hiding, and surely he could justify it by saying that it is really self defence as Saul is trying to kill him.
But no David's love for the God and his respect for God commands win. He does not kill Saul. We then get a lovely human touch, which is one of the reasons why David is my Old Testament heroes. I assume out of shear frustration at the situation, though it does not say this in the text David chops off the corner of Saul’s cloak, as we read in v4. If you recall this is the royal robe that marked him out as king.
We go on to read in v5 that Even that causes David grief after the event as he feels as if he has challenged God. David decided to spare Saul because he knew that he has God's promise for him which said, "You will inherit the throne of Israel." which we read about in 1 Samuel 16
David knew that Saul was in the way of that promise. But he also knew it was disobedient of him to kill Saul, because God put Saul in a position of authority and it was God's job to take care of Saul not David's. David wanted the promise to be fulfilled but he refused to try and fulfill God's promise by breaking God's laws and killing Saul
Sometimes when we have a promise from God we think we might be justified in sinning to pursue that promise. This is always wrong. God will fulfill His promises, but He does it it His way. Think of Abraham, who obeyed God even when it seemed to be at the expense of God's promise, willing to sacrifice his promised son, which we read about in Genesis 22. Or Satan's temptation of Jesus to "win back the world" at the expense of obedience which we read about in Luke 4:v5-8.
Ok so what is this saying to us today..You may have heard of the phrase Corporate DNA It is a metaphor for an "organization's culture and strategy" It provides a set of ground rules for one to work to. Another way of thinking about it is if you have ever been go-karting the track is normally lined with old tyres so you can't go too far off track you just hit the tyres and bounce back again.
The same should apply to us as Christians – The bible is our set of guidelines and how we respond in our day to day life should be defined by that. This can only happen if we apply it.
Fortunately we have The Holy Spirit as the helper keeping us on track as Jesus promised as recorded in John 14 v26 However, the helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you everything. He will remind you of everything that I have ever told you.
In Matthew 5 Jesus compares us to Salt 2000 years ago salt was used to stop food going bad. Matthew 5 V13 -You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled underfoot. The question for us today is are we still salty?
So in conclusion being a Christian is not just for Sunday mornings but something we should aim to show it in our lives every day as the saying goes a 24/7 activity. You may feel that I have used a lot of bible quotes in this talk but I believe we have the bible as our guide book to life, so I think it right that I refer to it. We are not just given a book to follow but we have The Holy Spirit as our helper.
As it says in Isaiah 40 v31 - but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.
As I said at the start of my talk with the quote from James we don't just have to listen to Gods word we need to respond to it in our lives by how we live, and that includes our split second decisions.
Matthew 5 v14 “You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. 15 Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. 16 In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.
I will end with part of the quote from this Sundays inspiring text collection – This is how God works. He does not make spare parts. You are not a spare part. You have a purpose, a design that is central to God's dream for the human race. What you do matters immensely.
So we finally come to the end of the Home Groups studies on Old Testament King David. Here David sets out who will succeed him (his son Solomon) and then it is detailed all the goods, and materials that have been collected together in preparation for the construction of the temple. The quantities of precious metals and jewels are truly mind blowing. If the physical temple building had not been destroyed a few hundred years later then it would have probably been one of the wonders of the world.
As it was the end of his reign we considered some of the highlights and low lights of David's life. It is strange how society changes it's views as to what is good not so good and bad over time. David is/was considered a great King even though he committed adultery and had the husband killed so he could marry the wife. I think we agreed at the group that his main strength was that he trusted God, and owned up when he made mistakes. He was honest with God
This study was really all about- what is our vision of God. How big is God? As the song goes “Our God is a great Big God”. - and yes He is. David shows how he thinks about God in 2 Samuel 22
If you believe God created this world then, God is bigger than the world he created. If you believe that God created this universe then surely the same must be true. But the big question is do we treat, (think about) God in this way. More on this can be found in the study notes here, which looks at the last few chapters of 2 Samuel and Psalm 103
As the study ended up reflecting- We need to take God as Lord seriously. In how we act, what we do and say. It is not a once a week Sunday activity, but an activity for everyday
How sad it is when members of a family fall out with each other, especially a father and son. It seems even worse when this results in civil war, but this is what happened to King David and his son Absalom, as we learnt in our latest study at the Kielder Bible Study Group.
The country is in such great upheaval that the royal family has to flee from the capital for their lives, and then there follows a massive battle between sides, as can be read in 2 Samuel 18
Sadly all does not go well with the usurper and he gets his hair caught in a tree as he is trying to flee. He comes to a very gruesome end which is described in detail in Samuel.
There then follows another rebellion which is detailed in 2 Samuel 20 which details the Sheba rebellion. He was a distant relative of Saul. He suggested that the nation split in two and the non Judah tribes attack David. Joab David’s commander deals with the situation ultimately getting the people who were sheltering Sheba to cut off his head and give it to Joab 2 Samuel 20 v22
So this ends the rebellions and David is reinstalled as King over the whole country.
This section of 2 Samuel chapters 12 -14, along with what we are looking at next time is an area of the Bible that is not often covered in detail in sermons. Previously I have read it a couple of times once when I read the whole Bible in a year and after that when I reread the whole Bible in historical order, but this time taking three years to do so. Both were quite a challenge.
The study we looked at linked here looks at what happens to David’s family as a result of his fling with Bathsheba. Evidently his Son Amnon thinks that going after a beautiful women is OK, except that this time he goes way too far and rapes his half sister. Her brother Absalom then rightly takes offence at this and kills Amnon his half brother. Meanwhile the impression given is that David just looked on not really knowing what to do when all this trouble and strife was happening in his family. Sadly Nathan's prophecy from 2 Samuel 12 is all coming true.
Eventually there is a sort of reconciliation between father and son in 2 Samuel 14 but this does not last long as will be seen in the next study.
The thing to remember is Paul’s words from Galatians 6 v7-8
Don't be misled: No one makes a fool of God. What a person plants, he will harvest. The person who plants selfishness, ignoring the needs of others—ignoring God!—harvests a crop of weeds. All he'll have to show for his life is weeds! But the one who plants in response to God, letting God's Spirit do the growth work in him, harvests a crop of real life, eternal life.
In our latest study on David we saw how David as King just does not do things by half measures.
Firstly he falls for the temptation of laziness. Then with nothing to do one day he spy’s Bathsheba bathing naked on her roof. Now what she was doing there is another matter, knowing full well that the King could see her and her husband was away at war. Then David falls for her. They commit adultery, and surprise surprise she becomes pregnant. Then the panic stinks in – everyone will know that David the King is guilty so get the husband back from the war and he can be the father. But this does not quite work out as planned.
David’s next panic reaction is that he will have to get Uriah (Bathsheba's husband) killed so he can then marry her. Which is what he does all be it at arms length, by getting him killed during one of the skirmishes that is part of the war that is going on at this time.
Phew – David thinks he has got away with it as he quickly marries Bathsheba, and it is now fine that she is pregnant as she is the queen. But God sends the prophet Nathan to confront David of his crimes. Amazingly David recognises what Nathan says and accepts it, not trying to cover it up and asks God for forgiveness.
This story can be found in 2 Samuel 11 and the first half of 2 Samuel 12
Another prophet Micah living between 750-700BC a few hundred years after David, gives a very good guide as to how we should try to live - Micah 6 V8 says
But he's already made it plain how to live, what to do,
what God is looking for in men and women.
It's quite simple: Do what is fair and just to your neighbour,
be compassionate and loyal in your love,
And don't take yourself too seriously-
take God seriously
Quite a challenge really – What a change there would be in society if this was followed more widely.
In our latest study on David we looked at life for David now he is settled in as King of all Israel.
Firstly he felt that he should sort out the Ark and get it moved into his new capital city. This seemed a good idea at the time but all did not go well as we can see here in 2 Samuel 6
Because David does not do things correctly Uzzah dies. As we can see for the passage eventually David does do things correctly and the Ark is moved. We had a great debate about the required sacrifice every 6 steps, when it was finally moved correctly. Certainly everyone at the time would have known what was going on.
The second so called good idea that David has is to build a temple for the Ark as can be seen in 2 Samuel 7 This would have looked splendid in his new capital city and it would seem to be the obvious thing to do now the Ark is present in the city. But this was not the case. In fact God had much greater plans for David building a living everlasting “House” rather than a temple. Starting with David and ending with Jesus. This house is still around today as Jesus conquered death when he rose again.
As Paul says in the beginning of his letter to the Ephesians
Long before God laid down earth's foundations, He had us in mind, had settled on us as the focus of his love, to be made whole and holy by his love. Long, long ago He decided to adopt us into his family through Jesus Christ.
What a fantastic thing to remember.
In our next study we found that David struggling to find God's guidance in very difficult situations. He was presented with the seemingly perfect opportunity to rid himself of Saul once and for all by killing him 1 Samuel 26 But he did not as he says it was Gods role to do this. Oh how hard this must have been.
The only place David feels he can have any peace is living with his old enemies the Philistines as we find in 1 Samuel 27 Life must have been so hard for him.
It is suggested that David wrote Psalm 40 around this time.
"I waited and waited and waited for God. At last he looked; finally he listened.
He lifted me out of the ditch,
pulled me from deep mud.
He stood me up on a solid rock
to make sure I wouldn't slip. "
The wording just makes it so possible to imagine David hiding from Sauls troops while they searched for him and his band of followers. But as the Psalm progresses the reality of the situation kicks in
"Soften up, God, and intervene;
hurry and get me some help,
So those who are trying to kidnap my soul
will be embarrassed and lose face,
So anyone who gets a kick out of making me miserable
will be heckled and disgraced,
So those who pray for my ruin
will be booed and jeered without mercy. "
With David asking God to help and intervene. It then ends with a final wonderful reminder
"You can do it; you've got what it takes—
but God, don't put it off. "
The last Home Group study in David really brought home the idea of checking with God before we do something. David was in a difficult situation, escaping from cave to hillside – being chased by Saul’s army, no doubt with a bounty on his head.
As seem by the priest Ahimelek 1 Samuel 22 to help him was basically death, and not just to you but to everyone else around at that time.
But David does not forget God and writes Psalm 57 reminding everyone that God is in control, and thanking God for saving his life We also found out that this psalm is called a Miktam. It has a hidden meaning in it, and was believed to have been sung to music that was called do not destroy, and I bet it was a catchy tune. It is quite possible to imagine this being sung by people around Saul.
So how do we check out an idea with God before doing it. What we should not do is say “Lord I am going to do X Y Or Z please bless it”, but rather pray and think about it. Sometimes God will send someone along (or email, phone, call, text etc) that will help give a view. Or it can be from a bible passgae – and the words just jumpout and you reaslise this is for you. But in all cases it should be remembered that the initial idea has to be inline with Gods teaching to start with, and if that is not the case then this should corrected initially.
So how does one know if this is the case. Well God has given his handbook to life - the Bible and if we read it regulalrly we will get to know what it says and if we are living in line with it. There are lots of resources available on line to help with this, the Scripture Union's WordLive is a good one to start with.
The next Home Group study on David caused a lot discussion as to why did God allow David to go from
being the peoples choice as ruler, as shown by their songs and celebrations (It even came to light that one of the surrounding countries thought he was the King already) to hiding in the city of the enemy pretending to be to suffering from madness and fearing for his life.
"For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” declares the LORD.
“As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts. Isaiah 55 8-9
The fact of the matter is that he goes from being the most popular/famous person in the country at the time, to the most wanted outlaw/fugitive over a fairly short number of weeks. This is a totally unjustified situation but Saul’s insecurity makes him perceive David as a threat to his position and so must be got rid of at any cost. A situation that can be found repeated time and time again over the ages all through power structures.
Fortunately David does not despair and give up trusting in God as the next study will show.
Dyslexic doodles on photography, food (growing, cooking & of course eating), faith and other fascinating things. This is a personal blog expressing my views.