Archive for the 'David' Category

Holiness and joy - 2 Samuel 6

Monday, September 18th, 2017

Occasionally I wonder what I learned in 5 years studying theology. And the most important truth can be summed up in just 6 words. “NOT EITHER OR - BUT BOTH AND”

What I mean is that many important issues of faith and Christian living have two extremes. Should prayer and worship have structure or are they better when they are spontaneous? Which is more important – to love God or to love our neighbour?
Is everything in life predestined or do human beings genuinely have free will? Does Christian authority rest in the Bible as Protestants believe – or in the traditions of the church as Roman Catholics believe? Or more recently people have asked, does ultimate authority lie in the inspired word of God as fundamentalists believe or in the immediate inspiration of the Holy Spirit as some Pentecostals believe?

In these and many other issues Christians have so often become polarised. One group defends one extreme and another the opposite extreme. Congregations split. Denominations split.

I am convinced that, very often, the truth is not a matter of EITHER OR, but of BOTH AND. To be faithful to Scripture we have to learn not to take one extreme or the other in most issues, but rather to look for a middle way which holds both opposing points of view in tension. So in prayer and worship I have learned to value both structure and spontaneity. We must love BOTH God AND our neighbour. The question is not pre-destination OR free will, but how can we keep in tension BOTH divine sovereignty AND human responsibility? We need BOTH church traditions AND sacred scriptures. And it is not a choice between Word and Spirit, we need BOTH Word AND Spirit.

One area where very may Christians are polarised is concerned with the character of God and our attitudes to God. Some Christians emphasise just how holy God is. They realise that such a holy and righteous God demands a response of awe and humility and repentance and commitment. At the opposite extreme are Christians who focus on the love of God. They are overjoyed at God’s mercy and grace. They emphasise intimacy with God.

This single chapter 2 Samuel 6 has things to say to every one of us, whatever aspect of God’s character dominates our thinking about God and our response to God. Whether we naturally respond more strongly to God’s holiness or God’s love, this passage will challenge us to realise that the issue is “not either or but both and.” Our God expects a response, not of holiness OR joy, but of holiness AND joy.

Because in a single chapter we have two very significant events.

GOD STRUCK UZZAH DOWN DEAD!

2 Samuel 6:6 ¶ When they came to the threshing-floor of Nacon, Uzzah reached out and took hold of the ark of God, because the oxen stumbled. 7 The LORD’s anger burned against Uzzah because of his irreverent act; therefore God struck him down and he died there beside the ark of God. 8 Then David was angry because the LORD’s wrath had broken out against Uzzah, and to this day that place is called Perez Uzzah. 9 David was afraid of the LORD that day and said, “How can the ark of the LORD ever come to me?”

Here we have a chilling reminder of the HOLINESS of God!

The ark of God was the covenant box which carried amongst other things the tablets of stone on which God had written the 10 Commandments. All through the wilderness it has represented God’s presence in the middle of his chosen people. It brought peace and prosperity and victory in battle and David was determined to bring it up to Jerusalem. No one was allowed to touch the covenant box. It was to be carried by hand on poles or here on a cart. But never touched by human hands! But for the best of motives Uzzah reached out and touched the ark, and even so God was angry. Very angry. Uzzah was struck dead!

Here is a solemn warning for us. God doesn’t just demand our love. He demands our obedience. Our faithfulness in small things as well as big things. Obedience. No wonder David was humbled and afraid of the Lord!

There are similar warning passages elsewhere in Scripture.

2 Kings 2:23 From there Elisha went up to Bethel. As he was walking along the road, some youths came out of the town and jeered at him. “Go on up, you baldhead!” they said. “Go on up, you baldhead!” 24 He turned round, looked at them and called down a curse on them in the name of the LORD. Then two bears came out of the woods and mauled
forty-two of the youths.

Our God is a Holy God. Those who oppose or ridicule His messengers provoke God’s anger!

In the New Testament, Acts 5 tells us of the occasion when Ananias and Sapphira lie to the apostles about the money they are giving to the church.

Peter confronted Ananias, “You have not lied to men but to God.” 5 When Ananias heard this, he fell down and died. And great fear seized all who heard what had happened.
The Peter challenged Saphira. 9 Peter said to her, “How could you agree to test the Spirit of the Lord? Look! The feet of the men who buried your husband are at the door, and they will carry you out also.” 10 At that moment she fell down at his feet and died. Then the young men came in and, finding her dead, carried her out and buried her beside her husband. 11 Great fear seized the whole church and all who heard about these events.

We may find it difficult to believe in a God who strikes sinners dead in such a dramatic fashion. How true is it that the church today emphasises God’s love and neglects God’s holiness?

Great fear seized the whole church and all who heard! Not surprising! What is surprising is how few Christians feel that kind of fear towards the God who is still as holy now as he was when he struck down Uzzah and Ananaias and Sapphira! Some Christians are so casual in their approach to God. Some show an intimacy which treads a fine line with irreverence.

In particular I am troubled by those Christians who say that God is so loving that he would never punish sinners. God is so loving that there cannot be a hell. God is so loving that everybody will be saved. People can only say that by ignoring the whole of the Old Testament and huge chunks of the New Testament as well. Because the Bible tells us on almost every page that God is a Holy God. As C.S.Lewis puts it in his Narnia books, “Aslan is no tame Lion”. Yes God is a God of love – indeed God IS love. But God is also the holy God of justice righteousness. We should approach God with awe and reverence and indeed fear! If you are one of those people who is so overwhelmed by God’s love for you that you are in danger of forgetting his Holiness, read these passages again tonight.

Hebrews 12:28f
Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, let us be thankful, and so worship God acceptably with reverence and awe, or our “God is a consuming fire.”

So 2 Samuel 6 warns us of God’s holiness. But in the very same chapter we read something which strikes me as amazing given the context.

DAVID DANCED BEFORE THE LORD

12 .. David went down and brought up the ark of God from the house of Obed-edom to
the City of David with rejoicing. 13 When those who were carrying the ark of the LORD had taken six steps, he sacrificed a bull and a fattened calf. 14 David, wearing a linen ephod, danced before the LORD with all his might, 15 while he and the entire house of
Israel brought up the ark of the LORD with shouts and the sound of trumpets.
16 As the ark of the LORD was entering the City of David, Michal daughter of Saul watched from a window. And when she saw King David leaping and dancing before the LORD, she despised him in her heart.

We might expect Uzzah’s experience to have left the whole nation of Israel terrified for the rest of their lives. Instead only three months later we find David once again bringing the Ark of the Covenant to his capital city, celebrating and full of joy, dancing before the Lord in a way which even his wife Michal found embarrassing David, King of all Israel, leaping and dancing! Scandalous!!

But then perhaps what is more scandalous is how little joy some Christians find in their faith. How few Christians know how to really let their hair down and dance before the Lord!” Now there IS a scandal.

You see even though he was living under the Old Covenant before Jesus Christ came and died and rose again, David could be full of the joy of salvation. So he danced before the Lord! This passage reminds us that it is alright for God’s chosen people to get carried away in worship sometimes. God expects that. God isn’t angry! God is pleased!

Like the scandalous adoration of the woman who wasted a whole jar of precious perfume anointing Jesus, even letting down her hair to dry his feet.
Matt 26:10 Jesus knew what they were saying, so he said to them, “Why are you bothering this woman? It is a fine and beautiful thing that she has done for me. Wherever
this gospel is preached all over the world, what she has done will be told in memory of her.”

Like the widow who showed totally irresponsible generosity, yet was praised by Jesus.

Luke 21:1 As he looked up, Jesus saw the rich putting their gifts into the temple treasury. 2 He also saw a poor widow put in two very small copper coins. 3 “I tell you the truth,” he said, “this poor widow has put in more than all the others. 4 All these people gave their gifts out of their wealth; but she out of her poverty put in all she had to live on.”

David was dancing a sacred dance. He danced before the Lord – and wouldn’t let anybody, even his wife, stop him!!

GNB 21 David answered, “I was dancing to honour the Lord, who chose me instead of your father and his family to make me the leader of his people Israel. And I will go on dancing to honour the Lord!”

Dancing. Joy. Celebration. Here is surely the opposite extreme from the reaction that we would expect David to have after Uzzah is struck dead. But it is a challenge to all of us who find it difficult to express ourselves in worship. It may be embarrassing to some of us to find more than 20 references in the Bible to dancing as a part of God’s people worshipping. But the verses are there – I counted them all!!

Ps 30:11 You have changed my sadness into a joyful dance; you have taken away my sorrow and surrounded me with joy.
Ps 87:7 They dance and sing, “In Zion is the source of all our blessings.”
Ps 149:3 Praise his name with dancing; play drums and harps in praise of him.
Ps 150:4 Praise him with drums and dancing. Praise him with harps and flutes.

You know of course that Elf and Safety would deem it too dangerous for me to dance before the Lord, or indeed anywhere else. We just can’t get the insurance! But still the principle is there. We should all feel free to express our joy in the Lord all the time. To celebrate the incredible amazing love which God has shown to us in Jesus Christ. Just because we recognise and respect and stand in awe of the holiness of God, we should still express the joy of our salvation! Jesus said in the Sermon on the Mount that we should rejoice and be glad, even in the midst of persecution. We should indeed “leap for joy.”
John Stott said that “the main mark of justified believers is joy.” Not gloominess!

God struck Uzzah dead. But David still danced before the Lord. Not either – or but both – and. Not holiness or love and joy. But BOTH holiness and love, holiness and joy!

David and Bathsheba - the Swamp of Sin

Wednesday, September 13th, 2017

I grew up rambling in the Peak District every week and then in the Lake District every summer. The great danger walking in those beautiful places is peat bogs. It is a danger like quicksand or a swamp. On the first step you are up to your ankle in mud. With the next step you can be in up to your knees. If you get in up to your waist there is a risk that you will never be able to get out without help. With a peat bog, or in quicksand, dip your toe in and in the end it can drag you under!

In this chapter, we read how David became trapped in the swamp of sin. A downward spiral leading to adultery and even murder. Just count how many of the 10 commandments the great King David breaks in this story. And the sadness is that at each step David could have turned back, he could have climbed out of the swamp of sin. But he didn’t. Instead he chose to sink even deeper. The great preacher Campbell Morgan wrote, “In the whole of the Old Testament literature there is no chapter more tragic or full of solemn and searching warning than this.”

It all started with
Neglect of his responsibilities

1 ¶ In the spring, at the time when kings go off to war, David sent Joab out with the king’s men and the whole Israelite army. … But David remained in Jerusalem.

David had responsibilities – he should have been commanding his armies at the battle front. Instead he was “bunking off!” Most of us have quite enough things in life that we should be doing. Plenty of good wholesome things we could be doing! Perhaps the best advice for anyone about how to avoid sin is to say that we should simply keep busy doing what we ought to be doing. Then we wouldn’t have nearly so much time to get tempted! The devil finds work for idle hands. Or as the hymn writer Isaac Watts puts it: Satan finds some mischief still for idle hands to do.

Wrong place wrong time

2 One evening David got up from his bed and walked around on the roof of the palace.

David should have been away fighting. Instead he was at home, maybe feeling guilty, maybe just feeling bored. It may be true that the number one cause of sin is boredom. People look for excitement – and sin seems exciting. Mae West once said that when she was faced with a choice between two evils, she would always take the one she hadn’t tried yet. We all have this bias within us which drags us down to making the wrong choice. That’s what the Bible means by “original sin”.

Perhaps David was just on that roof to enjoy the view and saw more than he had bargained for. Perhaps he was out looking for excitement? Either way he should have been somewhere else! You know that line in the Lord’s prayer, “Lead us not into temptation.” We can’t pray, “lead us not into temptation,” if we deliberately put ourselves into a place where we know we are going to be tempted.
There are places that Christians should NEVER go! Things Christians should never watch on TV. Books and magazines Christians should never read. Internet sites Christians should never visit! The evangelist Billy Sunday said that the problem is that people think of sin like a cream cake instead of like a rattlesnake, We have to take sin seriously. We must treat sin like a rattlesnake that will kill us, not a cream cake to be enjoyed, “naughty but nice!” We cannot pray, “lead us not into temptation,” if we deliberately put ourselves into a place where we know we are going to be tempted.

David should never have been up on that roof. But he was. Then came
The first temptation

From the roof he saw a woman bathing. The woman was very beautiful,

As my friend the evangelist Ben Alexander puts it, David’s sin wasn’t in catching that first glimpse of a beautiful woman bathing. The sin came when he went back for his binoculars.

We live in a fallen world. We are surrounded by images and sounds which could lead a saint astray. Christians aren’t meant to hide ourselves away from the world. A famous speaker once said, “You don’t become holy by living in a hole.” We are meant to be the light of the world – salt and light in a corrupt and sinful generation.

There is not sin in catching a glimpse – as long as we were not out as a peeping tom looking for the glimpse. The sin comes in gluing our eyes on things we shouldn’t be looking like. The sin comes when we allow our imagination to dwell on things which aren’t helpful to us.

The Apostle Paul said to the Colossians 3:1 ¶ Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God. 2 Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. 3 For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God. 5 ¶ Put to death, therefore, whatever belongs to your earthly nature: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires and greed, which is idolatry.

As Christians we belong to God. We are united with Christ. So we must fix our minds on things that will bring us closer to God, not things which will take us away from God.

Philippians 4:8 Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable- if anything is excellent or
praiseworthy- think about such things.
There are so many good and beautiful things to think about – don’t get dragged down to the world’s level. “Don’t let the world around squeeze you into its own mould.”

Romans 12:1 ¶ Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God- this is your spiritual act of worship. 2 Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is- his good, pleasing and perfect will.

David saw Bathsheba. He was tempted for a moment. He should have repented and turned back from sin there and then! But he didn’t. Instead he did what we sinful people so often do.
David pursued the temptation

3 and David sent someone to find out about her. The man said, “Isn’t this Bathsheba, the daughter of Eliam and the wife of Uriah the Hittite?”

There goes the 10th Commandment!
17 “You shall not covet your neighbour’s house. You shall not covet your neighbour’s wife, or his manservant or maidservant, his ox or donkey, or anything that belongs to
your neighbour.”

Coveting. Wanting what isn’t ours! We sin in our hearts long before we sin with our bodies. Jesus said in the Sermon on the Mount, Matt 5:27 ¶ “You have heard that it was said, `Do not commit adultery.’ 28 But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart.

Here David allowed his heart to dwell on Bathsheba. He finds out who she is. He begins to plot how to seduce her. He should have stopped there but he didn’t. He could have turned back. But instead,
David made an opportunity for sin.

4 Then David sent messengers to get her.

David did not have to do that. Until then, the sin had been in his mind and heart. Now he is actively seeking a way to bring his fantasies to reality. So many times we only fall into sin because we actively make and opportunity for the sin to happen. We are tempted. We could resist the temptation but instead we plot and plan until we have made a way for us to break any of the 10 commandments, just as long as we don’t break the 11th commandment of course, “Thou shalt not get caught.” But as soon as we think we can get away with it …..

“David sent messengers.” A word of warning to us men. Young men, old men. Women, girls and older women, enjoy attention. If we pay them attention they will often respond. Men, we have an absolute responsibility not to pay women inappropriate attention. But of course the same applies to women. Women, don’t pay inappropriate attention to men either. Because we are all, male and female, so easy to lead astray.

Back in the days when I was at London Bible College it was known to many as London Bridal College, because of the number of lady students there who had chosen to study there primarily because it was the perfect place to find a husband who was called to become a minister or a missionary. The then principal Michael Griffiths had a very important rule he insisted on regarding relationships between students of different genders.

1 Timothy 5:2 Treat older women as mothers, and younger women as sisters, with
absolute purity.

Here is a rule which applies to ALL Christian men and women of any age. Unless that other person is your wife (or husband) or fiancé, treat them with the same love and affection as a sister or a mother (or brother or father) and no more! No inappropriate attention.

The world around is obsessed with dating and having affairs. Newspapers and soaps may centre around who is dating who and who is doing all kinds of other things with who! As just one example, there is apparently a so-called “reality” television show called “Love Island” where a bunch of strangers are put together on a tropical island to see who pairs up with who. I have never watched even a minute of Love Island and I never will. One of the things which tells me that it is not the kind of programme which Christians should be watching is a newspaper article I saw which reported that the producers of the show had instructed the contestants to have more sex, on camera, because the viewers were losing interest. That is the world in which we live. But as Christians God calls us to be different!

1 Timothy 5:2 Treat older women as mothers, and younger women as sisters, with
absolute purity.

“Don’t let the world around squeeze you into its own mould.”!!!

Of course David wasn’t the only guilty party! Of course Bathsheba would be likely to go to David if he sent messengers for her. She was flattered! And she was bored too with her husband away at war. She was probably feeling neglected. She wasn’t forced to go – she chose to go. David invited, but she chose to say yes. Men are simple creatures – we are very easily led. Men can easily be tempted by what women wear and things woman say. Bathsheba should have known better than to be bathing on her rooftop in full view of the palace. She should have run inside as soon as she saw David admiring her. But instead she stayed because she enjoyed being admired. As a married woman Bathsheba should never have accepted that invitation to the palace for tea – she knew very well where it was leading!

So women, and men, DON’T lead each other into temptation!! In this story as in so many wrecked lives, the results were predictable and tragic.
Sexual Immorality

4. She came to him, and he slept with her.

Adultery – sex with somebody else’s wife or husband. Breaking the Seventh Commandment. “You shall not commit adultery.” Both David and Bathsheba were already married. The significant thing is they weren’t married to each other! Adultery is any form of sex with a person you aren’t married to! David and Bathsheba were just as guilty as each other!

But they got caught out! Bathsheba became pregnant. She knew David was the father and once he came back from war her husband Uriah would know he was not the father! So Bathsheba calls on David for help.

5 The woman conceived and sent word to David, saying, “I am pregnant.”

Well she would wouldn’t she! And I suppose some people would think it’s to his credit that David didn’t just do what so many unintending fathers do and deny everything, leaving Bathsheba holding the baby. No, what he does is much worse.
David tries to cover their tracks

8 Then David said to Uriah, “Go down to your house and wash your feet.” So Uriah left the palace, and a gift from the king was sent after him. 9 But Uriah slept at the entrance
to the palace with all his master’s servants and did not go down to his house.

“Oh what a tangled web we weave, when first we practise to deceive.” One sin leads to another, and another, and another, deeper and deeper into the swamp of sin. His first try doesn’t work so then
David tried to get Uriah drunk

13 At David’s invitation, he ate and drank with him, and David made him drunk. But in the evening Uriah went out to sleep on his mat among his master’s servants; he did not go
home.

David thought that if he could get him drunk, Uriah would forget his responsibilities. I don’t believe that drinking alcohol is necessarily wrong. But the Bible makes very clear that getting drunk is ALWAYS wrong.

Galatians 5:19 The acts of the sinful nature are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; … drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God.

The danger and the sin in getting drunk is that the person loses self-control. And once they lose self-control, the opportunities for sin increase and their resistance to temptation vanishes. Eph 5:18 Do not get drunk on wine which leads to debauchery.

There are two churches I know well where teenage girls, under-age girls, got pregnant. Christian girls, from Christian homes, younger than sixteen years old, who were already mothers when they took their GCSEs. In each case because they got drunk and did what they should not have done!
But David’s scheming doesn’t work. So he plots to murder Uriah.

14 In the morning David wrote a letter to Joab and sent it with Uriah. 15 In it he wrote, “Put Uriah in the front line where the fighting is fiercest. Then withdraw from him so that he will be struck down and die.

Notice how David gets his minions to do his dirty work. All power corrupts. Absolute power corrupts absolutely. And David sinks here as low as anyone can get.

16 So while Joab had the city under siege, he put Uriah at a place where he knew the strongest defenders were. 17 When the men of the city came out and fought against Joab, some of the men in David’s army fell; moreover, Uriah the Hittite died.

The sixth commandment – you shall not kill. All because David caught a glimpse of a beautiful woman having a bath. He ends up dragged deeper and deeper under the swamp of sin. Will you notice how at the end,
David pretends to be the good guy!

26 When Uriah’s wife heard that her husband was dead, she mourned for him.
27 After the time of mourning was over, David had her brought to his house, and she became his wife and bore him a son.

There’s no reason to suppose Bathsheba ever knew about the plot to kill Uriah. I believe she just accepted David’s kindness without realising it was David who had taken her husband from her in the first place.

And I bet David breathed a sigh of relief. His adultery remained hidden from the world. He had got away with adultery and even murder. But of course, none of us can get away with anything. God the judge of all is watching over us all! God isn’t mentioned at all in the whole story of David and Bathsheba, until the last verse where we read this.

But the thing David had done displeased the LORD.

No surprise there! We will see what God will do about David’s sin next week. But for today this whole chapter serves as a warning for us all. David gave in to sexual temptation. That might not be a problem we grapple with. But there are so many other areas of temptation we face. Greed. Selfishness. Pride. The temptation to do whatever we like and just ignore God. As with so many stories in the Old Testament,

1 Corinthians 10:11 These things happened to them as examples and were written down as warnings for us, on whom the fulfilment of the ages has come.
12 So, if you think you are standing firm, be careful that you don’t fall!
13 No temptation has seized you except what is common to man. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it.

Steer clear of the swamp of sin. Dip your toes in and it WILL drag you under!

Great David’s Greatest Son 2 Samuel 7:1-17

Monday, July 31st, 2017

Pick the ten most important chapters in the whole of the Old Testament and 2 Samuel chapter 7 would be up there with the best of them. As far as the history of Israel is concerned, and indeed for the whole story of God’s cosmic masterplan of salvation, these promises which God made to David are more important than anything else which happened in David’s life. Afterwards, these verses are quoted and referred to more than almost any others, both in the Old Testament and in the New Testament. They tell us how God made a covenant with David the King which would shape history from that point forwards and forevermore.

A GREAT NAME 8-9
2 Samuel 7 8 ‘Now then, tell my servant David, “This is what the LORD Almighty says: I took you from the pasture, from tending the flock, and appointed you ruler over my people Israel. 9 I have been with you wherever you have gone, and I have cut off all your enemies from before you. Now I will make your name great, like the names of the greatest men on earth.
From his humble beginnings as a shepherd boy, David would indeed become one of the most significant figures in human history. His name would become great. But even here there is a hint that these promises may be pointing beyond David himself, the one who would have the greatest name of all, the name above all names. To the one who is truly King of Kings and Lord of Lords.
God had made covenants before, especially with the Patriarchs Abraham and Isaac and Jacob. And then came the covenant with the nation of Israel through Moses at Mount Sinai, the Jewish Law. Very many of God’s promises had been wrapped up in the Promised Land, the land flowing with milk and honey, a land of safety and peace. And these promises were renewed to David.

A LAND OF SAFETY AND FREEDOM 10-11
10 And I will provide a place for my people Israel and will plant them so that they can have a home of their own and no longer be disturbed. Wicked people shall not oppress them any more, as they did at the beginning 11 and have done ever since the time I appointed leaders over my people Israel. I will also give you rest from all your enemies.
This promise of a place for God’s chosen people simply repeats the promises that God had made to Abraham and also to the Israelites through Moses. It will be a place of security and freedom with no more conflict with wicked people. There will be no more battles with enemies. It will be place of and undisturbed rest and perfect peace. Home, sweet home. However this promise was not to be fulfilled in David’s lifetime, which would be full of battles and wars. The promise looks beyond David to one of his descendants who one day would bring that perfect peace to the Land and to the people of God. More than three centuries later the great prophets were still looking forward to that day of peace.
Jeremiah 33 14 ‘ “The days are coming,” declares the LORD, “when I will fulfil the good promise I made to the people of Israel and Judah. 15 ‘ “In those days and at that time I will make a righteous Branch sprout from David’s line; he will do what is just and right in the land. 16 In those days Judah will be saved and Jerusalem will live in safety. This is the name by which it will be called: The LORD Our Righteous Saviour.”
And Isaiah even more was putting all his hopes in the coming of God’s chosen one, the Messiah.
Isaiah 9 6 For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called
Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
7Of the increase of his government and peace there will be no end. He will reign on David’s throne and over his kingdom, establishing and upholding it with justice and righteousness from that time on and forever. The zeal of the LORD Almighty will accomplish this.

These promises of the Messiah all built on God’s covenant with David which was God’s guarantee that one day a righteous king would come and bring God’s peace to a troubled world.
And the blessings God brings to His people are even greater than David could have imagined. The enemies attacking Israel were the surrounding nations. But in time God would bring rest from the greater enemies. The devil and all the powers of evil would be defeated. And the last enemy, death, would be vanquished forever. And God would give more wonderful peace than David could imagine, the peace of God which passes understanding. The peace which comes through a personal relationship with God. All these were part of God’s plan of salvation which would come to the world, not through David, but through

DAVID’S OFFSPRING 11-12
2 Samuel 7 11 …. ‘ “The LORD declares to you that the LORD himself will establish a house for you: 12 when your days are over and you rest with your ancestors, I will raise up your offspring to succeed you, your own flesh and blood, and I will establish his kingdom.
From this moment in history forwards, all God’s promises are centred on an offspring of David. Some of the promises were fulfilled in his son Solomon who would build the great Temple in Jerusalem where God would be worshipped for centuries to come. But other promises would not be fulfilled until the Messiah came, God’s anointed, Great David’s Greatest Son. In his Kingdom, in his reign as King, He would bring

AN ETERNAL THRONE 13
2 Samuel 7 13 He is the one who will build a house for my Name, and I will establish the throne of his kingdom for ever.
This descendant of David would build a house which would not be material or physical but spiritual. And this descendant’s throne would not be limited by time but it would be eternal – he would reign for ever and ever!

PSALM 89 3 You said, ‘I have made a covenant with my chosen one, I have sworn to David my servant, 4 “I will establish your line for ever and make your throne firm through all generations.”
PSALM 45 6 Your throne, O God, will last for ever and ever; a sceptre of justice will be the sceptre of your kingdom.
All these prophecies point to the truth that this eternal Kingdom would come not through David but through a descendant of David’s. John the Baptist’s father Zechariah prophesied this about Jesus:
“He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High.
The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David,
and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever;
his kingdom will never end.” (Luke 1:32-33)
The crowds all recognized that Jesus was fulfilling all these promises as they welcomed him to Jerusalem.
Matthew 21 9 The crowds that went ahead of him and those that followed shouted,
‘Hosanna to the Son of David!’ ‘Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!’‘Hosanna in the highest heaven!’
But the Messiah would be even more than just a human descendant of David! He would be

GOD’S SON 14
2 Samuel 7 14 I will be his father, and he shall be my son.
The relationship which Great David’s Greatest Son would be more special and more intimate than ever before. He would be God’s Son. And God would be His Father.
There are ten of the Psalms which together are described as the Royal Psalms because they focus on God’s chosen King. They are based on this covenant with David in 2 Samuel 7 and talk about David’s dynasty and his royal descendant who reigns over God’s people and inherits God’s promises. Together these Royal Psalms point forward to the Messiah. The first and the most obvious is Psalm 2.
Psalm 2 6 He says to them, “I have placed my king on my holy mountain of Zion.” 7I will announce what the Lord has promised. He said to me, “You are my son. Today I have become your father.
8 Ask me, and I will give the nations to you. All nations on earth will belong to you. ….
10 Kings, be wise! Rulers of the earth, be warned!
11 Serve the LORD and have respect for him. Serve him with joy and trembling.

Jews knew that Psalm 2 and the other Royal Psalms were looking beyond any earthly king and pointing forward to the Messiah. And the first Christians realised that all these promises were actually fulfilled in Jesus and proved by his glorious resurrection from the dead.
Acts 13: 32 ‘We tell you the good news: what God promised our ancestors 33 he has fulfilled for us, their children, by raising up Jesus. As it is written in the second Psalm:
‘ “You are my son; today I have become your father.”
34 God raised him from the dead so that he will never be subject to decay. As God has said,
‘ “I will give you the holy and sure blessings promised to David.”
The whole nation of Israel had been described as God’s son. But this descendent of David would have a relationship with God which was far beyond the relationship which any human being had ever had with the Almighty and Eternal God. The Messiah would be the Son of God and God would be His Father, and he would inherit all the blessings promised to David.

SECURE IN GOD’S LOVE 15
2 Samuel 7 15 But my love will never be taken away from him, as I took it away from Saul, whom I removed from before you.
You may have noticed that this covenant God makes with David is unconditional. Nothing in these promises God makes depends on the actions of David or of his descendants. The covenant rests entirely on God’s faithfulness and on the certainty that God will always keep His promises. God will never take his love away from this descendant of David’s. This reminds us that there is absolutely nothing we can ever do to earn or deserve God’s love and his grace and his forgiveness. But at the same time it is important to recognise that God’s faithfulness and loving-kindness deserve and demand a response from us. Because God loves us unconditionally, it is entirely right that we should love God unconditionally in return. We should respond with gratitude and obedience, dedicating our lives to worshipping and serving the God who has loved us so very much.
David’s son Solomon was the one God chose to build his Temple in Jerusalem, And Solomon understood the kind of response which God’s love and mercy deserve. In his prayer dedicating the Temple to God, this is how Solomon prayed.
2 Chronicles 6 16 ‘Now, LORD, the God of Israel, keep for your servant David my father the promises you made to him when you said, “You shall never fail to have a successor to sit before me on the throne of Israel, if only your descendants are careful in all they do to walk before me according to my law, as you have done.” 17 And now, LORD, the God of Israel, let your word that you promised your servant David come true.
Solomon recognised that the right and proper way to respond to all God’s unconditional love for us is to be careful in all we do to walk before God according to His Law.
AN ETERNAL KINGDOM 16
16 Your house and your kingdom shall endure for ever before me; your throne shall be established for ever.” ’
God’s covenant with David is eternal. It will last for ever and ever.
The blessings God promised would not just last for a generation or a lifetime or even just a century. God’s blessings would last far beyond the 3,000 years which have passed since God made these promises to David. They are indeed eternal, lasting longer than this world will endure and into the next world where “there will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.” God gives his people every spiritual blessing in the heavenly realms. For ever. And ever. And ever!
With the benefit of hindsight we can see how all these wonderful promises were ultimately fulfilled in the birth, life, death, resurrection and exaltation of the Lord Jesus Christ. This is how the angel announced the birth of Jesus to his mother Mary.
Luke 1 31 You will conceive and give birth to a son, and you are to call him Jesus. 32 He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David, 33 and he will reign over Jacob’s descendants for ever; his kingdom will never end.’
All the wonderful blessings promised to David, and much much more, come to us through the Lord Jesus Christ. A great name – the name which is above all names. A land of safety and freedom and peace. All brought by David’s offspring, Great David’s Greatest Son reigning on an eternal throne. God’s Son, completely secure in God’s love, bringing all the blessings of an eternal kingdom to all who trust and follow Him.
Bow down and worship – for this is your God!

Best Friends – David and Jonathan 1 Samuel 20:1-42

Thursday, July 20th, 2017

Eleanor Rigby – picks up the rice in the church where a wedding had been, lives in a dream. Waits at the window, wearing the face that she keeps in a jar by the door. Who is it for?
All the lonely people – where do they all come from? All the lonely people – where do they all belong?
Eleanor Rigby – died in the church and was buried along with her name. Nobody came. Father McKenzie, wiping the dirt from his hands as he walks from the grave. No-one was saved. All the lonely people – where do they all come from? All the lonely people – where do they all belong?
We live in a world of lonely people. It is partly down to the growth of towns and cities. People move to new places. We don’t live out our lives in the families and communities where we were born. We are all just anonymous members of “society”. Then there’s television and the internet and smartphones which encourage us to relax by ourselves being entertained instead of mixing with and talking to other people. Sociologists call these problems privatization. Family used to be defined as a group of people linked by biological relationships. Fifty years ago family was becoming a collection of individuals gathered around a television set. Twenty years ago family was turning into a set of bedrooms arranged around a fridge-freezer. Now for many people family means the group of people who share the same wifi. It was fifty years ago that Lennon and McCartney pointed to the problems of “All the lonely people – where do they all come from? All the lonely people – where do they all belong?”
Our theme this morning is friendship. In the Bible there is no finer example of friendship than David and Jonathan – best of friends.
EVERYBODY NEEDS FRIENDS
David and Jonathan could have been enemies and rivals. Jonathan was the son of King Saul, the logical heir to the Kingdom of Israel. David was the shepherd boy who God had chosen and the prophet Samuel had anointed to actually become the next King of Israel. But they weren’t rivals. Instead they were best of friends. We can learn so much about friendship from the story we just read.
A FRIEND IS SOMEONE YOU CAN TURN TO IN TIMES OF TROUBLE (v. 1-23)
1 Then David fled from Naioth at Ramah and went to Jonathan and asked, ‘What have I done? What is my crime? How have I wronged your father, that he is trying to kill me?’

BEST FRIENDS HELP EACH OTHER
4 Jonathan said to David, ‘Whatever you want me to do, I’ll do for you.’

FRIENDS LOOK OUT FOR FRIENDS AND PROTECT FRIENDS like Jonathan protected David even though he was on the run from Saul.
12 Then Jonathan said to David, ‘I swear by the LORD, the God of Israel, that I will surely sound out my father by this time the day after tomorrow! If he is favourably disposed towards you, will I not send you word and let you know? 13 But if my father intends to harm you, may the LORD deal with me, be it ever so severely, if I do not let you know and send you away in peace.
A FRIEND IS SOMEONE WHO WILL STICK WITH YOU EVEN IF EVERYONE ELSE IS AGAINST YOU (v. 24 -34)
30 Saul’s anger flared up at Jonathan and he said to him, “(insult, insult) …. Now send someone to bring (David) to me, for he must die!’
32 ‘Why should he be put to death? What has he done?’ Jonathan asked his father. 33 But Saul hurled his spear at him to kill him. Then Jonathan knew that his father intended to kill David. … he was grieved at his father’s shameful treatment of David.

A FRIEND IS SOMEONE WHO WILL ALWAYS TELL YOU THE TRUTH (v. 35-42)
BEST FRIENDS MAKE A COMMITMENT TO HANG IN THERE (1 Samuel 20:42)
42 Jonathan said to David, ‘Go in peace, for we have sworn friendship with each other in the name of the LORD, saying, “The LORD is witness between you and me, and between your descendants and my descendants for ever.”’

Everybody needs best friends like David and Jonathan. Everybody needs friends. Friends do things together and have fun together. Friends share with each other and help each other. Friends laugh together and cry together. Friends trust each other. A friend is someone that you can talk to and who listens to you. Friends are honest with each other and loyal to each other and keep confidences. Friends accept us for who we are. Friendship demands openness and honesty and authenticity. No masks, no cover ups, no facades. A friend is somebody with whom you dare to be yourself. Friends understand us and challenge us and stick by us in the good times and the bad times. Friends stick with you when all the world is against you.
Somebody has said, “Friends make the ordinary-running errands or eating lunch, for example-extraordinarily fun. And good friends ease our pain and lighten our heavy load …. Not only are friends good for the soul but for the body as well. Friends help us ward off depression, boost our immune system, lower our cholesterol, increase the odds of surviving with coronary disease, and keep stress hormones in check. A half dozen top medical studies now bear this out. … You can extend your life expectancy by having the right kind of friends.”
Friendships can arise from common interests. Jobs or hobbies or sports or other pastimes. Friendships can also arise from common experiences. Just by living next door, or sharing holidays, or even by going through the same crisis together. No matter how a friendship begins, all friendships need effort and commitment and time. Friendships need trust and loyalty. Deep and lasting friendships can take years to build. The heart of friendship is communication. Talking about anything and everything and nothing. Even the most private of people need company sometimes – friends to talk to. No man, or woman, is an island.
God does not want people to be lonely. We were designed to have friends. Some people are lonely because they build walls instead of bridges. Friends need to be prepared to be open with each other and willing to be vulnerable to each other. Christians should be good at making friendships because we are already completely secure in the love God has for us. Sadly not all are. Indeed, sometimes we can be so busy doing “Christian things” that we don’t have time to make friends. Alexander McLaren once said, “Few of us have reached middle life who do not, looking back, see our track strewn with the gaunt skeletons of dead friendships.” Everybody needs friends. No man is an island.

CARING FOR OUR FRIENDS
1 Samuel 20:17 Jonathan made David reaffirm his oath out of love for him, because he loved him as he loved himself.
1 Samuel 20:42 Jonathan said to David, ‘Go in peace, for we have sworn friendship with each other in the name of the LORD, saying, “The LORD is witness between you and me, and between your descendants and my descendants for ever.”
David and Jonathan’s friendship was rooted in God. It had a spiritual dimension which brought them even closer than human friendships. That was why Jonathan was prepared to disobey his father Saul in order to help David when he needed help. We all need help sometimes and that is when we find out who our real friends are. John Lennon wrote “I’ll get by with a little help from my friends.” Friends help each other. Sometimes we need help with practical things – DIY or mending the car or help with a lift or some babysitting. Sometimes we may need some advice or encouragement. Sometimes we need help with spiritual things. Somebody to explain something to us or pray for us. Somebody to support us and stand with us in the difficult times, in depression or in grief or in illness. Often all that most people need to cope in life is good friends. Most people welcome a helping hand and a listening ear and all of us need those kinds of friends.
SPIRITUAL FRIENDSHIPS
A lot of my first book Making Disciples One-to-One was about “spiritual friendships” or “soul friends.” The wonderful Christians can support and encourage one another in their faith just by being friends. Here are some of the things I said in Part 2 of that book.
Christian friends help each other to understand the Bible and help us to make good choices in life. Friends are there to support each other and pray for each other in the difficult times. Friends help us keep going when we feel like giving up. Friends pray for one another and with one another.
“Again, I tell you that if two of you on earth agree about anything you ask for, it will be done for you by my Father in heaven. For where two or three come together in my name, there am I with them.” (Matthew 18:19-20)
There are even greater blessings when friends pray together than when they pray separately.
In our friendships we can open up our lives to each other and in doing so we open ourselves up to God. Many Christians are afraid of doing this. I am afraid of letting other people see “the real me” because then they would realise (in the words of Michael Caine’s character in the film Educating Rita) “there is less to me than meets the eye”. But I really do need to let somebody else in on “the real me” because only then, when I am truly being myself, only then can God really begin to change me. Sharing emotions, sadness, anger, disappointment or discouragement with each other is the same as sharing these feelings with God. Because when we have poured out our heart to our friend, and we know our friend understands, then we can be assured that God also has heard and understood us.
In the battle against the world, the flesh and the devil, having a good Christian friend standing with us can make all the difference. Confessing our sins can help us deal with our temptations. James 5:16 makes this invitation. Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. In the process of Christian holiness, turning away from sin and being transformed into the image of Christ, every Christian would benefit from having a friend to confess to. That friend can offer the blessing of declaring those sins forgiven.
God means us to live out our Christian lives with friends. Richard Foster has written, “None of us is supposed to live the Christian life alone. We gain help and strength from others.”
It is good to have committed friendships, and even covenants of friendship like David and Jonathan made. So we dedicate ourselves to our friends, make ourselves accountable to our friends, and “watch over” our friends to help each other follow Jesus better. As we do these things we can see Jesus in each other. The best way to learn to see Christ in others is to develop a close relationship with a Christian friend. Meeting with Christ in that friend is a wonderful way of experiencing the presence of Christ in ordinary everyday life. God gives us other Christians so that we can practise showing His kind of love. We can practise being Jesus with other people by being Jesus to our friends. We learn to forgive and accept strangers by learning to forgive and accept our friends.
For all these reasons it is good for Christians to have spiritual friendships – other Christians who help and support and encourage us in our faith.
OUR GREATEST FRIENDSHIP
One more question. Which is your most important friendship? We might think of our wives and husbands or children or dear friends we have known all our lives. But surely for Christians there is a friendship which is even more important than any of these. God called Abraham His Friend and the Bible tells us that God spoke to Moses as a man speaks to his friend. Jesus said that His disciples are His friends.
Our most important friendship will be our relationship with God. And because we enjoy all the blessings of being God’s friends, we will want all our other friends to come to enjoy those blessings as well. More than that, God calls us to help other people to become his friends.
2 Corinthians 5 18 …. (God) through Christ changed us from enemies into his friends and gave us the task of making others his friends also. 19Our message is that God was making the whole human race his friends through Christ. God did not keep an account of their sins, and he has given us the message which tells how he makes them his friends.
This is the job that God has given all Christians to do, to help other people to become God’s friends.
20 Here we are, then, speaking for Christ, as though God himself were making his appeal through us. We plead on Christ’s behalf: let God change you from enemies into his friends!
God wants us to share the good news of Jesus with everybody we know. Friends at work. Friends along our street. Friends we meet through our hobbies and interests. Since Jesus is our most important friend, we will want to share Him with all our other friends. We can do this lovingly and sensitively, perhaps by sharing books and DVDs, By giving invitations to special events at church or passing them a copy of our outward-facing newsletter Haven News. By gossiping the gospel and simply chatting about Jesus. By praying for our friends that God will reveal Himself in their lives. Always talk to God about your friend before you talk to your friend about God. Then, one of the most important ways we can share our faith with our friends is what I call “linking the chain”. In other words, by introducing your not yet Christian friends to your Christian friends. Maybe even introduce your friend to your minister!
Christians have the best friend anybody could ever have in the Lord Jesus Christ. We should be able to show the world good examples of what it means to be true friends. We all need friends. And we should show God’s kind of love to our friends – that is our witness to the world.

David and Saul – loving our enemies 1 Samuel 24:1-22

Thursday, July 13th, 2017

In the Sermon on the Mount the Lord Jesus Christ says this:
Matthew 5:44 Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, 45 that you may be sons of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous.

There is no better example of obedience to these commands than today’s story of how David resisted the temptation to kill his enemy King Saul. A few weeks ago we heard the story of how the prophet Samuel had anointed David to become the next king of Israel to replace Saul. “Man looks at the outward appearance, but God looks at the heart.” Last week we heard how while still a young man David defeated the giant Goliath, the champion of the Philistines and so was entitled to claim all the rewards Saul had promised, including the hand of Saul’s daughter in marriage. This marriage would make David Saul’s heir and so give him a claim to the throne as the next King of Israel. But because Saul knew that God had appointed David to replace him as King, Saul became paranoid and insanely jealous of David. By this time Saul had already hatched half a dozen plots to kill David. He had slaughtered all the priests who had helped David by giving him food. And now we see Saul with a large army, vastly outnumbering David’s band of men, hunting for David out to kill him once again.

2 So Saul took three thousand chosen men from all Israel and set out to look for David and his men near the Crags of the Wild Goats. 3 He came to the sheep pens along
the way; a cave was there, and Saul went in to relieve himself. David and his men were far back in the cave. 4 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.’” Then David crept up unnoticed and cut off a corner of Saul’s robe.

What would you do if you were David, and you were presented with such an opportunity to get Saul out of the way once and for all? There in the cave David faced the kind of temptations we sometimes face in life. The way David acted gives us all an example of how we should act when we face similar temptations.

TEMPTATION TO MAKE ALL HIS PROBLEMS GO AWAY

Many people in David’s situation would find many excuses to justify killing Saul. “It was just self-defence, because Saul was out to kill me.” “This is a God-given opportunity and I should take it.” Or even, “I’m just so tired of running and fighting Saul. This can end all of that now.” But David refused to make any such excuses, He showed a radical, obedient trust in God instead. Don’t be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good (Rm 12:21).

David wasn’t storing up bitterness and anger in his heart towards Saul. Even as Saul made David’s life completely miserable, David kept taking it to the LORD, and he received the cleansing from the hurt and the bitterness and the anger that the LORD can give. If David had stored up bitterness and anger towards Saul, he probably wouldn’t have been able to resist the temptation to kill him at what seemed to be a “risk free” opportunity. What would you have done – your mortal enemy in your grasp? Another preacher has put it like this.

Cowardice asks the question: Is it safe? There and then David could have gotten away with murder.
Consensus asks the question: Is it popular? All his men were ready to kill Saul!
But Conscience asks: Is it right? And David’s conscience said, “The LORD forbid that I should do such a thing to my master, the LORD’s anointed, or lift my hand against him; for he is the anointed of the LORD.”

Sometimes obeying God means we DON’T take the quick and easy way out. Sometimes obeying God means we DON’T do what anybody else would have done or what our friends are telling us to do, even if it is a hundred percent certain we could get away with it and nobody would ever know. Instead we should always do what our conscience tells us is right!

I don’t know anything about the kinds of problems you are facing in life at the moment. Maybe you have problems at home, with the family or with the neighbours. Maybe you have problems at work, or even with other people in the Church. Sometimes we see an easy way out, something which we could do which would make all our problems go away. It seems safe to do. Maybe our friends are encouraging us to do it. But we have to stop and listen to our conscience. Is it right? Is that what Jesus would do in my situation. Is that really what God wants me to do?

David resisted the temptation to make all his problems go away by doing something which was wrong – and we must do the same!

TEMPTATION TO TAKE REVENGE

David had every right to be angry at Saul. It would have been so easy to him to take his revenge there and then in that cave. Sometimes people hurt us. Sometimes people upset us, or make us scared. Sometimes it’s by accident. Sometimes it is deliberate. But them sometimes an opportunity comes along for us to hit back – to take our revenge. To hurt them or upset them or scare them.

The apostle Paul wrote this:
Romans 12:17 Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everybody. 18 If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.
19 Do not take revenge, my friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,” says the Lord. 20 On the contrary: “If your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink. In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head.” 21 Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good

A thousand years earlier, David was already obeying what Paul would command. He had the opportunity for revenge and he didn’t take it! Instead David loved his enemy!
David resisted the temptation to take revenge, and we must do the same!

TEMPTATION TO TURN A BLIND EYE

David could have just let his men kill Saul for him

4 The men said, “This is the day the LORD spoke of when he said to you, `I will give your enemy into your hands. 6 He said to his men, “The LORD forbid that I should do such a thing to my master, the LORD’s anointed, or lift my hand against him; for he is the anointed of the LORD.” 7 With these words David rebuked his men and did not allow them to attack Saul.

David’s men were excited at the opportunity in front of them, and believed it was all a gift from God. They knew it was no coincidence that Saul came alone into that cave at that moment. So, they thought this was an opportunity from God to kill Saul. On a previous occasion, God had promised David: Behold, I will deliver your enemy into your hand, that you may to do him as it seems good to you. They believed that this was the fulfillment of the promise, and that David needed to seize the promise by faith and by the sword!

But David would not turn a blind eye and let his men kill Saul. Standing back and just letting somebody else do something which is wrong when we could have stopped them is as bad as doing it ourselves. “All that is needed for evil to triumph is for good men to do nothing.” David resisted the temptation to turn a blind eye – and we must do the same!

TEMPTATION TO TAKE A SHORT CUT TO GOD’S PROMISE

David could so easily have said to himself, “It’s all right, because God promised me the throne anyway.” “It’s all right because I am in the right, and even Jonathan knows that I deserve the throne.” “This is a God-given opportunity and I should take it.”

God HAD rejected Saul as King and Samuel had told him so. David HAD been anointed King by Samuel the prophet. God HAD given David victory over Goliath and all the rewards of that. So what made David decide, “I won’t kill Saul; instead I will just cut off the corner of his robe”? He knew that God’s promise said, “You will inherit the throne of Israel.” He knew that Saul was standing in the way of that divine 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 deal with Saul, and not David’s. David wanted the promise to be fulfilled, but he refused to try and fulfill God’s promise through an act of his own disobedience.

Sometimes, when people have received a promise from God, they can think they are justified in sinning as they pursue that promise. If we ever think we need to sin in order to receive God’s promise, we are always wrong.

We know God wants to bless us. But when we see a way to grab that blessing for ourselves, to do so is always sin. We should never do wrong to bring about right. The end NEVER justifies the means! God will fulfill His promises, but He will do it His way, and do it righteously. We need to be like Abraham, who obeyed God even when it seemed to be at the expense of God’s promise, willing to sacrifice Isaac. We need to be like Jesus, who in his temptations in the wilderness rejected Satan’s offer to give him all the kingdoms of the world, because that would have meant allegiance to the devil! (Luke 4:5-8).

David knew not only how wait on the LORD, and he also knew how to wait for the LORD. We wait on the Lord by prayer, looking for God to reveal his will to us.
Then we wait for the Lord by patience and submission, looking for God to act on our behalf! David was determined that when he sat on the throne of Israel, it wouldn’t be because he got Saul out of the way, but because God got Saul out of the way. He wanted God’s fingerprints on that work, not his own. David wanted the clean conscience that comes from knowing it was God’s work that had fulfilled God’s promises.

Somebody said, “We win most when we appear to have yielded most, and gain advantages by refusing to take them wrongfully. The man who can wait for God is a man of power.”

David resisted the TEMPTATION TO TAKE A SHORT CUT TO GOD’S PROMISE. And we must do the same.

So now let’s see how the story unfolds. No easy way to make his problems go away. No revenge. No turning a blind eye. No short cut to God’s promise. David didn’t kill Saul. He just cuts off the corner of Saul’s robe. And then we read,

David . . . went out of the cave: David took a big chance here, because he could have simply remained in hiding, secure in the fact that Saul had not found him. But he surrendered himself to Saul, because he saw the opportunity to show Saul what his intentions were.

David showed great submission to Saul: My lord the king . . . David stooped with his face to the earth and bowed twice. We might think that David had the right to come to Saul as an equal. “Well Saul, we’ve both been anointed to be king. You’ve got the throne right now, but I’ll have it some day and you know it. From one anointed man to another, look at how I just spared your life.” That wasn’t David’s attitude at all. Instead, he said: “Saul, you are the boss and I know it. I respect your place as my leader and as my king.”

When David stooped with his face to the earth and bowed twice he was showing great trust in God, because he was making himself completely vulnerable to Saul. Saul could have killed him very easily at that moment, but David trusted that if he did what was right before God, God would protect him and fulfill the promise.

And then David produced the corner of Saul’s robe. What was the significance of that? The robe is a picture of Saul’s royal authority. Back in 1 Samuel 15:27-28, the prophet Samuel has condemned Saul for his hard-hearted disobedience to God. Samuel announced that God had rejected Saul as king. In that encounter, in his distress Saul tried to keep Samuel from leaving, and grabbed his robe, and a portion of the prophet’s robe tore away. When Saul was left holding the torn piece of Samuel’s robe, Samuel said to him: The LORD has torn the kingdom of Israel from you today, and has given it to a neighbor of yours, who is better than you. Now, David confronts Saul with the corner of HIS robe torn off. God’s message to Saul was loud and clear. “I am cutting away your royal authority.”

But David did not kill Saul! And he promises that he never will!

12 May the LORD judge between you and me. And may the LORD avenge the wrongs you have done to me, but my hand will not touch you. 13 As the old saying goes, `From
evildoers come evil deeds,’ so my hand will not touch you.

The Living Bible translates this way Perhaps the Lord will kill you for what you are trying to do to me, but I will never harm you.

So Saul is brought to repentance. You are more righteous than I . . . you have dealt well with me . . . you did not kill me . . . the LORD reward you with good for what you have done to me this day: What a change of heart in Saul! Every change David could have hoped for in Saul has happened, and Saul really seems sincere about it (Saul lifted up his voice and wept). Saul’s heart was melted by the coals of kindness David heaped upon his head

Romans 12:17 Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everybody. 18 If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.
19 Do not take revenge, my friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,” says the Lord. 20 On the contrary: “If your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink. In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head.” 21 Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.

Here is the victory that David gained over Saul on that day, not by treacherous stealth, or by brute force but a moral triumph. But the most important thing for us to learn is that David first gained the victory over himself, before he triumphed over Saul. David resisted the temptations to do wrong. He was not overcome by evil. Instead he “overcame evil with good.” David truly loved his enemy! And this story of David and Saul gives us a wonderful example of how we should do the same!

David and Goliath - God is our refuge and strength

Tuesday, July 4th, 2017

THERE ARE ALL SORTS OF GIANTS IN THE WORLD – things to make us afraid.
David and Goliath is not a story about COURAGE but about FAITH

Psalm 46 1 God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble.
2 Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way
and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea,
3 though its waters roar and foam and the mountains quake with their surging. Selah
4 There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God,
the holy place where the Most High dwells.
5 God is within her, she will not fall; God will help her at break of day.
6 Nations are in uproar, kingdoms fall; he lifts his voice, the earth melts.
7 The LORD Almighty is with us; the God of Jacob is our fortress. Selah
8 Come and see the works of the LORD, the desolations he has brought on the earth.
9 He makes wars cease to the ends of the earth; he breaks the bow
and shatters the spear, he burns the shields with fire.
10 “Be still, and know that I am God;
I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.”
11 The LORD Almighty is with us; the God of Jacob is our fortress.
God is our refuge and strength – an ever-present help in trouble
Recent weeks have been among the most troubled I can remember. A devastating fire killing many and leaving hundreds homeless. Terrorist attacks on innocent civilians. All the uncertainties of Brexit negotiations on top of a snap election resulting in a hung parliament. At the same time within our own fellowship there are a number of us suffering and in pain with all kinds different illnesses and others struggling with all kinds of difficulties. In times such as this we really need to draw on the strength God supplies, putting our trust in God who is our strength and refuge and our ever-present help (Psalm 46:1).
Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea, though its waters roar and foam and the mountains quake with their surging. (Psalm 46:2-3)
Whatever life may throw at us, we can rely on God to take care of us in this world and the next. His love will never ever let us go. The LORD Almighty is with us; the God of Jacob is our fortress. (Psalm 46:7) If we want to know the peace and the inner strength which God promises to all who follow Jesus, the way is simple. We just need to take time in God’s presence, to draw near to Him. We can bring all our anxieties and fears to God. Take some time to reflect and mediate on God’s gracious invitation to us all.
“Be still, and know that I am God” (Psalm 46:10)