I Samuel 21&22: Untangled
I have referenced to Ecclesiastes 3 often in the last few weeks. The lead-in verse tells us: “To everything there is a season. A time for every purpose under heaven:”
The bottom line is God in His wisdom and sovereignty has set an appropriate time for everything. And he has made everything beautiful in its time.
We are experiencing a change of seasons now as fall and its cool nights and pleasant days have arrived. Leaves will put on a majestic show before they leave us with barren trees for the winter months. For some winter is a depressing season, void of color and warm temperatures with long, dark nights and short days of light. We have those seasons in our lives also- seasons of darkness. Cold, bitter winds blow into our lives bringing a longing for spring, for renewal.
As we continue our story of David, we see many pictures of the Lord Jesus. But interestingly, we also see many pictures of ourselves in the mistakes David makes. David will lie when it suits him to do so. Are you shocked? Have you ever lied because it suited you? Of course you have. Have your actions caused hurt for others? Have you felt you were treated unjustly?
It is a dark time for David. Made even darker, by the fact he will be living in a cave. Is this any way for a king to live? Can anything beautiful come out of this? Yes, David’s suffering created some of the most comforting and beautiful Psalms. There is no book in the Bible filled with such comforting passages but also with such suffering. We know God is the God of all comfort. He comforts us in our suffering. David is the appointed king. But like the Jesus, he must suffer and be humbled before he is exalted.
If God must tear down first in order to build up then we must not be surprised when the purging fires of adversity come. James said we are to rejoice in tribulations, ‘… knowing the testing of your faith produces patience. But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect lacking nothing.” ( James 1) Peter tells us , “…though now for a little while, if need be, you have been grieved by various trials, that the genuineness of your faith, being more precious that gold that perishes , though it is tested by fire, may be found to praise, honor, and glory at the revelation of Jesus Christ.” (I Peter 1) How can you expect to learn to trust God, if you never were placed in a situation where only God can help you? Have you been there before? Of course you have. Will you be there again? Yes, in fact you may be in a storm or headed for a storm right now. David’s most encouraging Psalms come during some of his most discouraging times. So we should surmise, a season of discouraging circumstances are to serve a purpose in our lives and thus are allowed or sent by the Lord.
Our Lord quoted from Psalm 22:1 and 31: 5 on the Cross!
David seeks refuge among the priests. Ahimelech, the priest at Nob is the great-grandson of Eli. He is suspicious as to why David has come without a royal entourage. Does David lie to the priest? Yes. Why? Perhaps out of fear, convenience or to protect the priest from knowingly aiding and abetting a fugitive. Whatever his motive there are consequences and David will hear of the slaughter of the priests and he will know he was the cause of it. (I Samuel 22: 22) We know fear is the enemy of faith. And sometimes David’s fears surpassed his faith in the Lord.
David then goes to Gath, the home of the late giant, Goliath, to see the King Achish. Sometimes the enemy of your enemy becomes your friend. Perhaps David figured King Saul would not look for him here. What follows is a bizarre incident: David feigns madness, scratching on doors and drooling in his beard. Also remember, Goliath had brothers. David is scheming to escape death. We often do desperate things in desperate times.
From there David will retreat to the cave of Adullam. His family will be gathered to him as they believe David will be the future king, but also fear the wrath of King Saul.
“And everyone who was in distress, everyone who was in debt, and everyone who was discontented gathered to him. So he became the captain over them. And there were about 400 men.” (I Samuel 22:2)
What a clear picture of those who come to the Lord Jesus. Those in distress, in debt and discontented. David’s army is an army of nobodies. Look at the disciples. “Now when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, and perceived they were uneducated and untrained men, they marveled. And they realized that they had been with Jesus.” (Acts 4 🙂 Untrained. Uneducated. Training and education were prerequisites and required pedigrees for these “somebodies” the Sanhedrin, the 70 rich and powerful men who ruled Israel through their religious system. Weak, powerless, foolish, uneducated and untrained, and nobodies, those without influence or social status are God’s armies. He does select a few who are wise, strong and influential, but like Paul they must first be humbled.
The army of General George Washington which defeated world-class, professional soldiers of Great Britain was a ‘rag-tag’ untrained group of volunteers, shop keepers and farmers. But as Victor Hugo observed, “There is one thing stronger than all the armies of the world, an idea whose time has come.” I would remind you, Jesus came the first time in the fullness of time and He will come the last time when the time is right. Life was God’s idea. The plan of salvation was God’s idea. The creation of man in His image is God’s idea. And He created the heavens and the earth and everything in it. It was perfect. And man had been given everything he needed for life and godliness through his knowledge of God. We were created to rule and reign with God. The enemy, the thief came to steal, kill and destroy. To make you discontented with what you did not have. Then when you were drawn into sin, you became distressed, owed a debt you could not pay, and discontented and dissatisfied with life.
Look at these three adjectives which describe David’s followers:
Distress is defines as extreme anxiety, sorrow and pain.
Debtor- one who owes a sum of money. There used to be debtor’s prisons. Debt is a prison to itself.
Discontent- defined as lack of contentment; dissatisfaction with circumstances.
We are living in a time of extreme distress, anxiety, sorrow and pain. We are a debtor nation made up of a debtor population. Our economy is driven by consumer spending. We are the richest nation on the face of the earth. And to watch the news and events unfolding around us, you would believe we are the most discontented nation on the face of the earth. We are also a divided nation. And a house divided against itself cannot stand. David has an army of followers. They look as rag-tag as the forces of General Washington.
Looking around today, it appears the cause of Christ is waning. We are reporting fewer baptisms than we did fifty years ago. We have resources like never before. If we are to use the military terms to describe the church as Christian soldiers marching as to war, we would question if we are marching forward or retreating. Does the cross of Jesus go on before us? Is Christ, our Captain, the Royal Master leading us against the foe forward into battle, do we see His banners go? Where is the power?
Are we distressed? Follow the arguments in the public arena and hear the anxiety, worry and fear. David had a real enemy intent on killing him and taking from him what was rightfully his, given to him by God. Jesus told us about this enemy- He said, ‘he came to kill, and steal and destroy.’ He is a liar and a murderer.
Do you see what has happened to us? We have a program which the Lord gave us. It comes with all the power and authority in heaven and on earth. It is called the Great Commission. And I would remind you as we heed the call_ “Faithful is He who calls you, Who will also do it.” (I Thess. 5: 24)
David is entering a painful period of time in his life. A season of suffering. Let’s look at ourselves and our country and the status of the church and see what we are facing as we look at ourselves in the mirror of God’s Word.
THE LORD’S ARMY
“You therefore must endure hardship as a good soldier of Jesus Christ. No one engaged in warfare entangles himself with the affairs of this life, that he may please Him who enlisted him as a soldier. “(2 Timothy 2: 3, 4) KJV
“When they had come into Capernaum, a centurion came to Jesus asking Him for help. “Lord, my servant lies at home paralyzed and in terrible suffering. Jesus said, I will go with you. The centurion replied, “Lord, I do not deserve to have you come under my roof. But just say the word, and my servant will be healed. For I am a man under authority, with soldiers under me. I tell this one, Go, and he goes; and that one, come, and he comes. I say to my servant, do this and he does it. When Jesus heard this, He was ASTONISHED, and said to those following Him. I tell you the truth, I have not found anyone is Israel with such great faith.” (Mathew 8: 5-10 NIV)
So what are our problems in the church in the 21st century? They are the same they have always been. The Lord reveals what the church’s problems are in the book of Revelation.
Problems: we have left our first love. Remedy: repent and do the first works.
Problem: compromise Remedy: hold fast to His Name, the Word of God, the Truth who sets us free. It is still the Gospel which sets men free. It still the blood of Christ which cleanses us our sins. DO NOT COMPROMISE THE WORD OF GOD.
Problem: sexual sin, immorality. Remedy: flee sexual sin. Guard what our eyes gaze upon. The world culture has deadened our sense of shame and outrage.
Problem: deadness, dead churches remedy: Realize and believe Christ is your LIFE. The exchanged life, the abiding life, the abundant life. Apart from Him, you and I can do nothing.
Problem: lukewarm; got away for what made your heart burn within you, the Word of God. Remedy: Get in the word of God meditates on it day and night. The process of becoming lukewarm occurs when we get away from the source which made us hot. Coffee set on the counter and ignored will soon become room temperature, it takes on the temperature of its environment. Our society and culture of political correctness has created an environment of fear which has marginalized us.
OUR MARCHNG ORDERS
“All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe everything I have commanded you. And remember, I am with you always to the end of the age.” (Matthew 28: 19 & 20)
Those are very clear, specific orders, aren’t they? The Roman Centurion, a seasoned military veteran understood the principle of authority. You cannot be over those things God wants you to be over until you learn to be under those things God has set over you.
THEN YOU REALIZE THE ROOT OF ALL OF THESE PROBLEMS: WE ARE ENTANGLED IN THE WORLD. And to be effective, we must become UNTANGLED. Entangled is defined as ‘interwoven; wrapped or twisted together in such as manner as to not be easily freed.’
We were told to be ‘in the world, but not of the world.’ What does this mean? Well a boat is designed to be in the water. But water in the boat is a disaster, it causes it to sink. The enemy wants to rock the boat of your life and to sink you and ensnare you in the world. We are told not to love the world or the things of this world.
We are engaged in warfare, like never before in our lifetimes. This is the most dangerous time to be entangled. This is why we were instructed to sober and alert for our enemy seeks to devour us. This is why we are told to guard our hearts and minds with all diligence.
There is another reason we do not want to become entangled with the affairs of this life in order to please the One who enlisted us. We must be prepared to endure hardships for His Sake. To be entangled in this world as a solider in the Lord’s Army is to be double-minded and with a divided heart, therefore a divided allegiance. We must become UNTANGLED. “..let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us , and let us run with endurance the race set before us.” (Hebrews 12)
We must serve Him wholeheartedly and with a single mind.
What we have received is an order from the Lord Jesus. He has all authority and power in heaven and on earth. We are to go under that authority. When we do- the power of the Lord Jesus is available to us. His power for His program.
“ And His incomparable great power for us who believe, that power is like the working of His mighty strength which He exerted in Christ when He raised Him from the dead an seated Him at His right hand in the heavenly realms, far above all rule and authority, power and dominion, and every title that can be given, not only in the present age, but also in the one to come. And God has placed all things under His feet and appointed Him to be head over everything for the church, which is His body, the fullness of Him, Who fills everything.” (Ephesians 1: 19-23)NIV
“For by Him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities, all things were created by Him and for Him. (Colossians 1) NIV The enemy has captured music, entertainment, the media, news, and education. Everywhere you turn in our culture and society, you see the enemy has influenced and holds sway over the world culture.
One thing to keep in mind- we are in a race, a metaphor Paul uses an illustration. Our race is a relay race. In a relay race, each runner has a designated leg of the race he runs. At the end of his part of the race he passes the baton to the next runner. The baton we pass on is the baton of God’s Truth, the Word of God, the Gospel which saves men from their sins.
*The power that is behind us and in us comes from above us from God the Father. It is the same resurrection power in us that raised Jesus from the grave. Yield to the Spirit. Yield means to put yourself under authority. When you yield, Kingdom Authority with all its power takes over. Where the Spirit of the Lord there is liberty and peace. TRUTH WHICH SETS YOU FREE AND UNTANGLES YOU! Onward Christian Soldiers!