I Samuel 24 & 25: Dark Moments in Life
“My God, My God, why hast thou forsaken me? Why are you so far from helping me, and from the words of my groaning? O My God, I cry in the daytime, but you do not hear; and in the night season, and am not silent.” Psalm 22: 1-2.
You recognize the first sentence as being quoted by the Lord Jesus on the cross. It was first moaned by David in the season of night- the dark moments of his life. One of Charles Stanley’s 30 Life Principles is: “The dark moments of our life will last only so long as is necessary for God to accomplish His purpose.” (Life Principle 7)
There is a season for everything including a ‘night season’. It has a purpose. In fact it has been personally designed by God for you for such a time as this. In life’s journey here on earth, we have to travel the road of adversity in order for God to accomplish His purpose in us.
There are two ways to approach this season: wishful thinking and blessed assurance. Let us view both of them in today’s lesson. But first from Charles Stanley’s Life Principles, Dr. Stanley explains the three principles we can learn when facing adversity.
1. Adversity is God’s choice tool for building godly, spiritual character into our lives. Until we experience heartache, disappointment, and pain we are not properly equipped for service. 2 Corinthians 1: 3-7) God does not bring adversity into our lives without purpose. David felt like the Lord had forsaken Him. And so did the Lord Jesus who was forsaken so we could be forgiven.
2. Adversity usually comes in an area or areas where we are most self- confident. God wants to break us of the idea we are sufficient on our own. Paul had to receive a thorn in the flesh. Peter was humiliated by his fear and weakness when he denied the Lord three times. God uses adversity to remind us we are completely dependent upon him.
3. God’s ultimate design for adversity in our lives is to conform us in the image of His Son. Through adversity He develops the fruit of the Spirit in us. ( Gal. 5: 22,23)
As is His custom, God gets multiple benefits from adversity in our lives:
• It gets our attention.
• Reveals our weaknesses and strengths
• Increases our aversion to sin
• Demonstrates his faithfulness
• Strengthens our faith.
• Removes pride and self-centeredness
• Prepares us for future service
• Enables us to comfort others
And remember His promise from I Cor. 10: God will never place more on you than you can bear.
WISHFUL THINKING VS. BLESSED ASSURANCE
Jonathan went to David in the woods and strengthened his hand in God. “And he said to him, “Do not fear, for the hand of my father, shall not find you. You shall be king over Israel, and I shall be next to you. Even my father knows that.” This is wishful thinking on Jonathan’s part that he and David would co-reign. Why? Because he has no word or promise from the Lord. For God would not allow Saul’s line and David’s line together in the throne room.
David on the other hand, had the blessed assurance of God’s anointing and we see the blessed assurance allows David to resist temptation.
The temptation comes in I Samuel 24, when King Saul is pursuing David. Saul has been informed David is in the desert of En Gedi. There King Saul pursues David with three thousand men. They come to the caves and King Saul goes to relieve himself in a cave, in which David and his men are hiding. David is tempted, even encouraged by his men to kill King Saul. His men even quote Scripture: “This is the day of which the Lord said to you, “Behold, I will deliver your enemy into your hand that you may do to him as it seems good to you.” David’s men meant it one way- David took it another. He did what seems good – he spared King Saul. David explains his thought process to his men: “ The Lord forbid that I should do such a thing to my master, the Lord’s anointed, to stretch out my hand against him, seeing he is the anointed of the Lord.” King Saul was to David what Potiphar was to Joseph. King Saul was his master, whom he served. He could not do this to Saul, Lord forbid. He could not sin against Saul for he would be sinning against God, just as Joseph saw his loyalty to his master Potiphar was reflected in his loyalty to God. No wonder the Lord when He taught us to pray, taught us to pray: “Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.” Good and evil travel on a parallel path. David sneaks up behind King Saul as he is in the act of relieving himself and cut a section of Saul’s robe without his noticing it. King Saul departs the cave, completely unaware of what has just occurred.
David went out of the cave and called to King Saul, saying, “My lord, the king! David stooped with his face to the earth and bowed down. David then says to King Saul, why do you listen to the lies of men who say I am against you. He showed King Saul, he has just cut a section of his robe off in the cave, revealing he could have just as easily cut his throat. David says, “I will not stretch out my hand against my lord, for he is the Lord’s anointed.
King Saul is overwhelmed with emotions. He says, “Is this your voice, David, my son? And Saul lifted up his voice and wept. Then he said to David, “You are more righteous than I: for you have rewarded me with good, whereas, I have rewarded you with evil. And you have shown this day how you have dealt well with me; for when the Lord delivered me into your hand, you did not kill me.” Saul goes on to say since you have let me, your enemy go, may the Lord reward you with good for what you have done today.
King Saul says, I know the kingdom of Israel will be established in your hand. Swear to me by the Lord you will not cut off my descendants and you will not destroy my name from my father’s house.
David swore to Saul.
Again I notice the similarity between David and Joseph. Joseph said to his brothers who sold him into slavery, “you meant it for evil; God meant it for good for the saving of many souls.”
Did you notice David got out of the cave? Living in a cave, under the ground was a part of God’s training program for the future king of Israel. Dwelling in dark places for a period of time is necessary for God to achieve His purpose in one’s life. It was as David looked back and recorded in his Psalm 22 a: “night season.” He bows down to King Saul. ONE CANNOT BE OVER THOSE THINGS GOD WANTS YOU OVER, UNTIL YOU LEARN TO BE UNDER THOSE THINGS THAT GOD HAS SET OVER YOU.
Now watch what happens next and realize when God teaches you a principle, He will then test you to see if you have learned the lesson. What had David learned? To return good for evil. First we will deal with Samuel’s death.
I Samuel 25 records for us the death of Samuel. I identified with Samuel when after his successful years of leadership which resulted in a revival and restoration to the nation of Israel and their relationship with God, the people asked him to retire. He was deemed too old. Samuel represented to me what I had experienced in my career. I believe Samuel is an example to all older believers in every generation. All older generations are prone to glorify the past, resent the present and all the change and ‘new-fangled’ technology and lose hope for the future. So let’s also identify with how Samuel responded. Without abandoning the past, Samuel accepted change. He then did all he could to make things work and served as a mentor. Every leader needs a Samuel, a person in touch with God. A person who appreciates the good things of the past which should not be forsaken, but willing to follow God in a new era.
The world may look hopeless to us some days. Young people may seem clueless. But so were we once. But I believe God is at work in this hour of confusion and chaos. And the Lord has work for us to do for such a time as this we have come into the kingdom. In fact we are needed more now than ever. I believe the fields are white with harvest. Never have so many been discontented with their life and the world around them. What an opportunity to enter the conversation with hope which has nothing to do with politics or the economy, but with the human heart. But we need workers. Retired from a career? God needs worker. He is hiring. He provides great benefits. You have a degree from the University of Life. You have a Masters Degree from the School of Hard Knocks. You have gained wisdom the hard way, by making unwise decisions and bearing the consequences. You have gone down the broad way and made a u-turn. It is time to quit sitting around and remembering the good old days.
GOD’S LESSON PLAN
Tests in school come in two forms- expected and unexpected. This true in life also. A test can be a regularly scheduled test- six weeks, mid-terms, final exam. You were told at the beginning of the course what was to be expected. Pop-tests were the unexpected. This mean you had to be prepared. These test in school tested your knowledge. Routine tests can sometimes reveal a problem with your health. God’s test is designed to test you spiritual well-being.
David has just learned a lesson. He has learned to return good for evil. Let us see if David passes the test.
Meet Nabal and his wife Abigail. Nabal is a wealthy man with an abundance of livestock and land. He is very rich. David and his men have protected him from raiders and thieves by their presence in the area. It is shearing time which also meant a feast day celebration. David sends 10 of his men who go in peace and request some provisions and food.
Nabal says no way- he is not providing them with anything. David’s men return with his answer. David tells his men to gird on their swords and he prepares to deal with this ungrateful man with 400 of his soldiers. A young servant goes to tell Nabal’s wife, Abigail, what has happened. He reminds her, David’s men ‘were a wall to us both by night and by day, all the time we were with them keeping the sheep.’ In other words, David and his men protected them from harm.
Abigail immediately begins to gather supplies for David and his men. I Samuel 25: 21 reveals David’s response to this test: “Now David said surely in vain I have protected all that this fellow has in the wilderness, so that nothing was missed of all that belongs to him. And he has repaid me evil for good.”
David then vows he will not leave one male alive who belong to this man. David who had just been taught to repay good for evil by King Saul. David who had more times than he could count cried out to God – “have mercy on me, O God! “ Was coming to destroy all this man had because he had wronged his men, to show him no mercy for he had treated them unfairly and repaid them evil for good.
Abigail meets David and bows down to him and says let this iniquity be on me. My lord, Nabal is a fool. I did not see your young men who came with their request.
David is stopped in his tracks. He realizes he was about to come to shed blood and avenge himself with his own hand. He realizes it is the Lord who has kept him back from doing this.
THE REST OF THE STORY
Abigail returns home. Her husband is drunk and making merry at the feast. In the morning, when he was awake and sober, Abigail told her husband, Nabal, what she had done. We read, ‘that his heart died within him, and he became like a stone. Then it happened after 10 days, that the Lord struck Nabal, he died.
David proposed to Abigail and she became his wife. David’s cries were being heard by the God Most High. He was coming out of the cave of darkness. It had been a night season of darkness, there would be others. Just as we have been through night-seasons and welcomed the morning sun, we know there will be other seasons, but they will not last any longer than it takes and God will never place more on us than we can bear.
Dr. Charles Stanley has been a blessing to me for years. His teaching, his books, his devotionals. He credits his grandfather, an itinerant preacher, who taught him one of his most often repeated principles: “Granddad told me, Charles, if God tells you to run your head into a brick wall, you head for that wall, and God will make a hole in it before you get there. Obey God and leave all the consequences to Him.”
We are only one generation away from total paganism in this country. We need parents and grandparents to pass on these life principles taught in the Scriptures.
Samuel was upset with a lot of what was happening in Israel and with the younger generation. But to me, he is a role model for me at my age. He looked back and thought those were the “good old days” and looked at the present with a shake of his head as if to say- ‘these young people are missing it”. He could throw in the towel and say the future is hopeless. But he stayed involved. He became a mentor to the first two kings Israel had. One was a failure- but one was the greatest king Israel ever had. And from David would come the King of Kings, the Lord Jesus Christ.
Our intimacy with God- His highest priority for our lives- determines the impact of our lives Life Principle 1.
Obey God and leave all the consequences to Him. Principle 2.
Thank you George Washington Stanley for taking the time to mentor your grandson Charles Stanley, the next generation. Well done!!!!!
Now it’s our turn………..