Sunday, April 18, 2021

The Intense Trials of David's Early Life: Victory, Persecution, Battle & Patience

The Lord said to Samuel, “How long will you go on grieving over Saul? I have rejected him as king of Israel. But now get some olive oil and go to Bethlehem, to a man named Jesse, because I have chosen one of his sons to be king.” -1st Samuel 16:1-2

“So Jesse sent for him. He was a handsome, healthy young man, and his eyes sparkled. The Lord said to Samuel, “This is the one—anoint him!” 13 Samuel took the olive oil and anointed David in front of his brothers. Immediately the spirit of the Lord took control of David and was with him from that day on.” -1st Samuel 16:12-13

David is anointed king of Israel, even while Saul is still king. Very interesting. So David would be a sort of “king in exile” for quite a while. But the Lord is at work, slowly leading him toward the throne, for years and years.

The life of David is so incredibly important, because it’s a picture for us of the Christian life, the difficulties, the challenges, the growth, the victories and so on. It’s extremely important in the Bible. Study the life of David, and how he lived. 1st and 2nd Samuel are the books where it’s at.

David is viewed as a man after God’s own heart. So David’s heart, his approach to life is how God wants us to approach life. His mindset, his faith, his decisions, his judgments, his mercy, it all points us to how we ought to live as believers in Jesus.

Study the life of David! Read it and reread it. Very, very powerful saga.

David is anointed as king, but he’s still just a young shepherd caring for his flock. But God is at work, setting up divine connections.

King Saul at his palace, is very sad. The spirit of God has left him and it says in the word that a tormenting spirit from God was sent to him. And Saul felt terrible. So he asked his advisors for someone who could come play music for him to calm him down.

18 One of his attendants said, “Jesse of the town of Bethlehem has a son who is a good musician. He is also a brave and handsome man, a good soldier, and an able speaker. The Lord is with him.” -1st Samuel 16:18

So David came and played music for King Saul. And when David played from the harp, Saul would feel at peace again.

Alright, huge moment of Israel’s history. I’m sure we’ve all heard about it. At this time we know Israel was at war with the Philistines. They gathered on opposite sides of Elah Valley in Israel. And yes, the famous warrior, Goliath, the giant, stood on the side of the philistines, mocking the Israelite army for 40 days and nights.

It says in 1st Samuel 17:8-11 8 “Goliath stood and shouted at the Israelites, “What are you doing there, lined up for battle? I am a Philistine, you slaves of Saul! Choose one of your men to fight me. 9 If he wins and kills me, we will be your slaves; but if I win and kill him, you will be our slaves. 10 Here and now I challenge the Israelite army. I dare you to pick someone to fight me!” 11 When Saul and his men heard this, they were terrified.”

Meanwhile David was going back and forth between serving Saul in his court and taking care of the sheep in Bethlehem for his family. David comes to bring supplies for his brothers, and he sees what’s going on with Goliath mocking the Israelite army. And he says he will fight Goliath.

Then it says in 1st Samuel 17:31-51 31 Some men heard what David had said, and they told Saul, who sent for him. 32 David said to Saul, “Your Majesty, no one should be afraid of this Philistine! I will go and fight him.”

33 “No,” answered Saul. “How could you fight him? You're just a boy, and he has been a soldier all his life!”

34 “Your Majesty,” David said, “I take care of my father's sheep. Any time a lion or a bear carries off a lamb, 35 I go after it, attack it, and rescue the lamb. And if the lion or bear turns on me, I grab it by the throat and beat it to death. 36 I have killed lions and bears, and I will do the same to this heathen Philistine, who has defied the army of the living God. 37 The Lord has saved me from lions and bears; he will save me from this Philistine.”

“All right,” Saul answered. “Go, and the Lord be with you.” 38 He gave his own armor to David for him to wear: a bronze helmet, which he put on David's head, and a coat of armor. 39 David strapped Saul's sword over the armor and tried to walk, but he couldn't, because he wasn't used to wearing them. “I can't fight with all this,” he said to Saul. “I'm not used to it.” So he took it all off. 40 He took his shepherd's stick and then picked up five smooth stones from the stream and put them in his bag. With his sling ready, he went out to meet Goliath.

41 The Philistine started walking toward David, with his shield bearer walking in front of him. He kept coming closer, 42 and when he got a good look at David, he was filled with scorn for him because he was just a nice, good-looking boy. 43 He said to David, “What's that stick for? Do you think I'm a dog?” And he called down curses from his god on David. 44 “Come on,” he challenged David, “and I will give your body to the birds and animals to eat.”

45 David answered, “You are coming against me with sword, spear, and javelin, but I come against you in the name of the Lord Almighty, the God of the Israelite armies, which you have defied. 46 This very day the Lord will put you in my power; I will defeat you and cut off your head. And I will give the bodies of the Philistine soldiers to the birds and animals to eat. Then the whole world will know that Israel has a God, 47 and everyone here will see that the Lord does not need swords or spears to save his people. He is victorious in battle, and he will put all of you in our power.”

48 Goliath started walking toward David again, and David ran quickly toward the Philistine battle line to fight him. 49 He reached into his bag and took out a stone, which he slung at Goliath. It hit him on the forehead and broke his skull, and Goliath fell face downward on the ground. 50 And so, without a sword, David defeated and killed Goliath with a sling and a stone! 51 He ran to him, stood over him, took Goliath's sword out of its sheath, and cut off his head and killed him.”

Theme of this historical account, God speaks to us today saying no matter who is standing against you, in Christ, in faith, we can have the victory, if the Lord is with us.

David becomes extremely famous because of this great victory. He is taken into the family of King Saul. He marries King Saul’s daughter Michal. And Saul’s son Jonathan becomes close friends with David.

These are really the three things that probably everyone in this room really wants: a good job with a great company, in this case David is a leader in Saul’s army. He get’s married. And he even has a best friend. So everything is going really good. He’s coming into the blessed time of his life. But not all is well.

Saul sends David out on many missions to lead his armies against the forces of the philistines. And David is victorious in every mission he’s sent us. And eventually David is extremely famous, because he wins so many victories. The crowds cheer on David. And as King Saul watches all this happening, he becomes increasingly jealous of David. He becomes it says, David’s enemy for the rest of his life.

We should never be jealous when others do well. Instead we should be like Jonathan, cheering on someone who is doing well. It’s a good thing. We should want everyone to have great victories. No jealousy.

So Saul begins to persecute David. The Philistines attack again, but David leads Israel’s army to victory. One evening David is playing the harp for Saul, and Saul is so angry and jealous with David that he picks up his spear and throws it at David, but David dodges it and escapes.

From 1st Samuel 19:1-2 “Saul told his son Jonathan and all his officials that he planned to kill[a] David. But Jonathan was very fond of David, 2 and so he told him, “My father is trying to kill you. Please be careful tomorrow morning; hide in some secret place and stay there.”

So Jonathan is protecting David. David stops in to see his wife Michal, and Saul’s soldiers show up, so Michal helps David escape by lowering him down through a window.

Several different encounters happen during these years of David fleeing from King Saul. But always Jonathan is helping him. He has a truly blessed friend in Jonathan. Have you ever had a friend like that? I don’t think I ever have myself. Hopefully someday I will. And I hope you will too. But maybe the best way to have that friend is to be that friend for someone. Next time you have a friend in need, be there for them. Protect them. Help them. Love them deeply. I dare you!

David flees and encounters prophets of the Lord, at one point. He flees again and begins using Goliath’s old sword as his own, while being assisted by priests of the Lord. Later King Saul has the priests who helped David slaughtered, all of them. In this Saul sinned of course. At one point when Jonathan is arguing with his dad Saul about David, and saying, look David hasn’t even done anything against you why do you hate him so much, Saul throws a spear at his own son! (1st Samuel 20:32-33).

He’s gone crazy with jealousy, with revenge and with hatred for the one he knows will one day replace him. Sometimes, we can also get on the wrong side of a situation. And pretty soon we’re fighting against the people that love us so much. We’re doing evil. But we’re so filled with emotion, with a pride in our own ideas, that we can’t possibly see the other persons perspective. And that happens with Saul here. He’s in the wrong. But he thinks he’s right. And no one can tell him otherwise, because of pride.

That’s why it’s so important to stay humble. Very quickly, with pride, we can find ourselves fighting against that which God has ordained. And we won’t even realize it, because pride is the ultimate blind spot.

So for a while David is fleeing here to there, and eventually he ends up living out in a cave somewhere.

Some might think, God is against David! Look at his situation. But that’s not the case. God is with him 100% in that cave.

It says in 1st Samuel 22:1-2 “David left Gath and escaped to the cave of Adullam. When his brothers and his father’s household heard about it, they went down to him there. 2 All those who were in distress or in debt or discontented gathered around him, and he became their commander. About four hundred men were with him.”

So David lives in this cave, and basically all the outcasts gather around David. The outcasts, those in debt, discontented, the hurting and so on, and he forms them into little group in the wilderness. About 400 of them. Almost like Robin Hood in the woods, with his band of merry men. David becomes the king of the outcasts. Quite an amazing saga David’s life is, isn’t it?

But many of us in here have similarly insane stories, with twists and turns and crazy events, don’t we?

So God calls on David and his outcast gang to help a city that is under attack by Philistines. David takes him men and drives the Philistines out of the city. But King Saul hears about this and takes his army, and chases after David’s group. So at one point David’s men are running on one side of a mountain, and on the other side Saul’s army is chasing them. But they manage to escape with the Lord’s help.

But then Saul learns where David’s group is hiding. So he goes with 3000 men to locate them. As Saul’s men comb the country side, Saul goes into a cave to use the rest room, it says. Little did Saul know David and his men were hiding deep inside those caves.

David hears someone in the cave. And he sneaks over and sees Saul is in there. And he has the opportunity to kill Saul. But instead, David sneaks right over to Saul and cuts a corner of his robe off. Then David disappears. Later he calls out to Saul and shows him the cut corner of the robe, and Saul is amazed that David spared his life. And Saul leaves the area with his troops, because David spared his life.

What a strange decision right? He has an opportunity to kill Saul while his back is turned. But he refuses to do it. Why? He shows great mercy. And he doesn’t want to kill the one God still has established as king. David is very patient. He’s not willing to steal the throne by stabbing Saul in the back. He’s going to wait for God’s plan to unfold. A very important challenge for us today. Don’t take over and try to force it to happen. Let God’s plan play itself out. And it takes time. A lot of time. Look at all David is going through as he waits on the Lord. It’s terrible. But it’s Gods way. He’s preparing David to be king through all this. A good king, not a bad king. We need the waiting and trials, or the good times would turn us into prideful jerks, sadly.

Despite David’s mercy on Saul, Saul keeps trying to kill him. And a second time, David has the opportunity to kill Saul. At night, David and Abishai sneak into Saul’s camp, and find Saul sleeping.

It says 1st Samuel 26:8-11,”8 Abishai said to David, “Today God has delivered your enemy into your hands. Now let me pin him to the ground with one thrust of the spear; I won’t strike him twice.”

9 But David said to Abishai, “Don’t destroy him! Who can lay a hand on the Lord’s anointed and be guiltless? 10 As surely as the Lord lives,” he said, “the Lord himself will strike him, or his time will come and he will die, or he will go into battle and perish. 11 But the Lord forbid that I should lay a hand on the Lord’s anointed. Now get the spear and water jug that are near his head, and let’s go.”

So they don’t do it. But they take the spear and the water jug, so Saul knows that once again David spared his life. They return the spear and water jug. And Saul is amazed. From 1st Samuel 26:21-25 “21 Then Saul said, “I have sinned. Come back, David my son. Because you considered my life precious today, I will not try to harm you again. Surely I have acted like a fool and have been terribly wrong.”

22 “Here is the king’s spear,” David answered. “Let one of your young men come over and get it. 23 The Lord rewards everyone for their righteousness and faithfulness. The Lord delivered you into my hands today, but I would not lay a hand on the Lord’s anointed. 24 As surely as I valued your life today, so may the Lord value my life and deliver me from all trouble.”

25 Then Saul said to David, “May you be blessed, David my son; you will do great things and surely triumph.”

So David went on his way, and Saul returned home.”

In chapters 27 and 28 we see David fleeing and living amongst the Philistines for a while, as Saul continues to try to destroy him. In chapter 28 we see Saul consulting with a witch to try to discover if he can have victory against the Philistines who are once again attacking Israel.

He consults with a witch. What is he doing? He’s completely lost his mind. But obviously this doesn’t go well at all. He tries to conjur the undead spirit of Samuel and he gets rebuked by the spirit that appears that the witch calls us. Just some crazy stuff, black magic kind of stuff.

So the Philistines invade Israel. And Saul is on the run with his army and his sons. From 1st Samuel chapter 31:1-6: “Now the Philistines fought against Israel; the Israelites fled before them, and many fell dead on Mount Gilboa. 2 The Philistines were in hot pursuit of Saul and his sons, and they killed his sons Jonathan, Abinadab and Malki-Shua. 3 The fighting grew fierce around Saul, and when the archers overtook him, they wounded him critically.

4 Saul said to his armor-bearer, “Draw your sword and run me through, or these uncircumcised fellows will come and run me through and abuse me.”

But his armor-bearer was terrified and would not do it; so Saul took his own sword and fell on it.”

And that is how the saga concludes today. King Saul dies, he kills himself at the end, after seeing his sons killed in combat. There would be an ongoing struggle for control of the empire, with some of the left over forces of Sauls army trying to stop David from becoming king, but eventually David would become king of Hebron, then over the region of Judah, and finally over the entire nation of Israel.

Simply astonishing isn’t it? All that David had to go through, to go from being a shepherd boy, watching over his flock, to one day becoming the king of Israel. It was a long and perilous journey for David. And many times he had the opportunity to mess it up and sin, and go his own way. But he didn’t. He was so patient. So sensitive to God’s leading, that he stayed right with God through all of it. And I’m sure it was very painful. But finally, he became king, just as God had called him to be.

In conclusion today, reflect on this in your own life. As a Christian, there are going to be a lot of twists and turns, and battles, and victories and defeats and struggles and persecutions, and people mistreating you. There will be many opportunities to turn back. Horrible things will happen. But God will guide you through all of it. You’ll be in a lot of pain. David wept terribly many times through this journey. He saw himself pursued by his former friend. He saw people who helped him get murdered. Our Christian journey is not going to be the way we want it to be. It’s going to be the way God wants it to be. And it’s best now if we today simply and fully surrender to that reality. It’s not going to go the way I want it to go. It’s going to go the way God wants it to go.

So right now as we transition into our time of response. I want to challenge you today, to talk to God right now, come forward to the altars, or stay at your seat, and surrender to God’s often difficult, wild plan for your life. Let go of your picture of how it’s going to go, and embrace a simple total faith and trust in God, a childlike faith, that God is in charge, I’m not, I let go of control, whatever comes, May God’s will be done.