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1 Samuel 24:1-22 (Part 1)
David Spares Saul’s Life

Donald Trump. OK. Don’t stop reading.

This is not a political post. This post is not defending him or glorifying him. This post is to lead us to a discussion of mercy as demonstrated by our passage today, 1 Samuel 24:1-22.

Donald Trump. The mention of the name inspires emotions of the highest order on both sides of the political spectrum. He inspires emotion – more so than any president that I can remember.

I was not old enough to remember how much Johnson was despised. I do remember the backlash against Nixon. It was a different kind of dislike for him. He represented the establishment to many younger Americans and so he kind of set up a generational skewing between those who respected the old ways and those who were wanting to change the old ways. Ford and Carter were considered inept as presidents by most and the nation slipped into a period of self-doubt and a sense that our way of life was disappearing and a new less palpable world order was emerging. Reagan was another lightning rod of a president. After years of malaise, Reagan reignited the conservative political right and it became cool again to love capitalism and self-determination and less government and ambition. The elder Bush was simply an extension of the Reagan years with no real distinctives to his presidency. Clinton was a charismatic middle of the road Democrat who happened upon the presidency during an economic expansion which glossed over a lot of his personal moral failures. It was his presidency that introduced us to political spin (the deft art of making the best out of an obvious compromising political situation). Clinton inspired intense loyalty and hatred but not on the order of what we see today. The younger Bush was up and down as president and presided over a time period in which our country was attacked by terrorists on a scale never seen before or since. Obama was probably one of the most liberal presidents ever to hold the office it was during his presidency that the gridlock of political views took hold. It was during the Obama presidency that art of compromise in Congress (that political meeting in the middle that our founders encouraged by how they structured our government) became a lost art as more and more of my generation and my children’s generation took office (my generation and the ones after it have a more self-centered view of life and have never experienced the sacrifices required of previous generations). Finally, now we come to the current presidential administration. Donald Trump.

Both liberals and conservatives are just sadly humorous right now. For present day liberal thought, it does not matter what Trump says or does, they will not support simply because it is Donald Trump who supports it.  “Not My President” is the cry of the political liberals of today. The conservative side of the political spectrum defends Trump with the same maniacal fervor that liberals hate him. It does not matter what stupid thing Trump says. The conservatives will put a positive light on it. The sharp contrast and political divide that exists between liberals and conservatives is the widest chasm that I have ever seen in my lifetime as it now exists.

I count myself as a conservative when it comes to political matters. I prefer less government and more personal freedoms. I prefer self-determination over the government telling me what I should think. I prefer our government to align itself with the constitution rather than having judges create law by their rulings that usurp the role of Congress or have the president create law through administrative rulings. I am in favor of allowing the marketplace to regulate itself. I am in favor of allowing the push of economic innovation be a driver toward breaking down social ills. If the pie expands through less government taxation and regulation, all get a piece of the bigger pie because it just makes more economic sense to have an expanded pie. So, yes, I am by today’s standards a political conservative. However, having said that, Trump is not my favorite president even though he was the winner of the conservative camp’s political process for president.

On the Trump issue, I am a middle of the roader. I do not hate him with the passion that liberals do. I do not hate whatever he says just because he says it. On the other hand, will someone make it illegal for this president to have a twitter account! Please! The dude is his own worst enemy with that twitter account of his! Trump does not know when to keep quiet and he doesn’t seem to think his statements through before he lets them escape his mouth or his fingertips on a keyboard. I am realistic about this man and do not try to defend his stupid comments at times. It is my opinion that he simply ran for president to see if he would win, to see if he could add that feather to his cap, rather than any real passion to change the world or to accomplish something specific while in office. He is self-absorbed. He is unprepared for the office. He has no clue of constitutional directives and limitations.

On the other hand, he is by being the bull in the china shop that he is, he is making both sides of the aisle really think for the first time in a generation. He is incredibly embarrassing as president but yet at the same time, he has awakened the conservatives and liberals alike as to the direction of our country. I see the upcoming 2020 and 2024 presidential elections as the most important elections in the history of our country as a result of this lightning rod called Donald Trump.

The thing that the Trump presidency has brought into focus is that we are no longer a country of compromise. The very political bedrock that our founding fathers built into our government – forcing us by its structure to seek compromise that gives everybody something of what they want but not all of it – is now a lost art. We will stop the government from being effective just to prove a point to those who are on the other side of the political spectrum. We no longer respect the opinions of others that are different from ours. That’s the thing that is scariest to me is that both conservatives and liberals no longer seek compromise with one another. We have become so polarized politically in this country that it makes you worry for the future of our country.

The polarized political landscape where there is this vast immovable schism between liberals and conservatives in our world today is what I thought of when I read this passage for the first time this morning of two reads I plan to take on this passage. Here is this passage, we see David respect the office held by the man who is hellbent on David’s destruction. David had him in a compromising position and could have easily ended the threat that Saul was to his future. But he didn’t. That is so different from the landscape of politics in which we live today. There is a huge lesson that we can learn from David here. Let’s read the passage now:

 

Chapter 24

1 After Saul returned from fighting the Philistines, he was told that David had gone into the wilderness of En-gedi. 2 So Saul chose 3,000 elite troops from all Israel and went to search for David and his men near the rocks of the wild goats.

3 At the place where the road passes some sheepfolds, Saul went into a cave to relieve himself. But as it happened, David and his men were hiding farther back in that very cave!

4 “Now’s your opportunity!” David’s men whispered to him. “Today the Lord is telling you, ‘I will certainly put your enemy into your power, to do with as you wish.’” So David crept forward and cut off a piece of the hem of Saul’s robe.

5 But then David’s conscience began bothering him because he had cut Saul’s robe. 6 He said to his men, “The Lord forbid that I should do this to my lord the king. I shouldn’t attack the Lord’s anointed one, for the Lord himself has chosen him.” 7 So David restrained his men and did not let them kill Saul.

After Saul had left the cave and gone on his way, 8 David came out and shouted after him, “My lord the king!” And when Saul looked around, David bowed low before him.

9 Then he shouted to Saul, “Why do you listen to the people who say I am trying to harm you? 10 This very day you can see with your own eyes it isn’t true. For the Lord placed you at my mercy back there in the cave. Some of my men told me to kill you, but I spared you. For I said, ‘I will never harm the king—he is the Lord’s anointed one.’ 11 Look, my father, at what I have in my hand. It is a piece of the hem of your robe! I cut it off, but I didn’t kill you. This proves that I am not trying to harm you and that I have not sinned against you, even though you have been hunting for me to kill me.

12 “May the Lord judge between us. Perhaps the Lord will punish you for what you are trying to do to me, but I will never harm you. 13 As that old proverb says, ‘From evil people come evil deeds.’ So you can be sure I will never harm you. 14 Who is the king of Israel trying to catch anyway? Should he spend his time chasing one who is as worthless as a dead dog or a single flea? 15 May the Lord therefore judge which of us is right and punish the guilty one. He is my advocate, and he will rescue me from your power!”

16 When David had finished speaking, Saul called back, “Is that really you, my son David?” Then he began to cry. 17 And he said to David, “You are a better man than I am, for you have repaid me good for evil. 18 Yes, you have been amazingly kind to me today, for when the Lord put me in a place where you could have killed me, you didn’t do it. 19 Who else would let his enemy get away when he had him in his power? May the Lord reward you well for the kindness you have shown me today. 20 And now I realize that you are surely going to be king, and that the kingdom of Israel will flourish under your rule. 21 Now swear to me by the Lord that when that happens you will not kill my family and destroy my line of descendants!”

22 So David promised this to Saul with an oath. Then Saul went home, but David and his men went back to their stronghold.

In this passage, we see that David had great respect for Saul, in spite of the fact that Saul was trying to kill him. Although Saul was sinning and rebelling against God, David still respected the position that he held as God’s anointed king. David knew he would one day be king. He knew it was not right to strike down the man God had placed on the throne. If he assassinated Saul, he would be setting a precedent for his own opponents to remove him some day. Romans 13:1-7 tells us that God has placed governments and their leaders over us in power. We may not know why, but, like David, we are to respect the positions and roles of those whom God has given authority. There is one exception. Because God is our highest authority, we should not allow a leader to pressure us to violate God’s law.

David teaches here that we have to take a long-term view of things in politics and in life in general. Would we rather have a momentary victory right now that will massage our ego and gain us short-term political gain but will lose us the long-term cooperation of others and reconciliation and compromise that is good for everyone. David took the long view here. He could have been expedient and killed Saul and took over as king right then and there. But he saw that it was best to respect the office now so that others would respect his office later. He could have polarized the Saul camp against him with his murder of Saul. David ultimately wanted a united Israel so that Israel could accomplish God’s purpose.

That’s the lesson we need to learn here is that we must keep God’s plan in view when dealing with others. In our flesh we often want to grab a quick victory that drives our opponents in the dirt, not just politically but in our personal lives as well. We want our way to win and to drive those who oppose us into the dirt. What David teaches us is that we should respect others and their opinions and have an eye toward reconciliation always. We should always seek to keep communication open so that we have to opportunity to show the love of Christ to others. We come at people from a position of love rather than defensively trying to protect our position or turf or political view or whatever. David showed love and mercy just as God showed us love and mercy through Christ.

God could just cast us into the abyss of separation from Him in hell because we are so opposed to his righteousness with our daily sins and lifetime of sins. But he shows us mercy as David showed Saul mercy. He gave us mercy through the sacrifice of Jesus Christ on the cross that reconciles us to Him. Reconciliation of us to Him is the desire of God rather than to gloat over His righteousness vs. our sinfulness.

Maybe today in today’s polarized political climate and self-centered society, we can learn from David of the mercy that we should be demonstrating to one another. We can learn from David that destroying our opponents right now may give us great feelings of victory but at the expense of future reconciliation. We can learn from David that mercy is what God shows us through Jesus Christ. If God can show us mercy through Jesus Christ when we deserve destruction, then, why can’t we learn to show mercy to those who are against us, those who have different opinions from. Help us to learn from David to take the view of reconciling others to God is the long view that we should be taking of life when dealing with others. Let us be a people that draws others unto Jesus Christ by the mercy we demonstrate that is so different from the world in which we live.

Amen and Amen.

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1 Samuel 21:1-15 (Part 1 of 3)
David Runs from Saul

Have you ever thought about things that you take for granted as to the fact that they come from the Bible? Even well meaning Christians can easily think that certain sayings come from the Bible when they really don’t. Here are a few examples:

For example, “God helps those who help themselves”. This saying is often misquoted as being from the Bible. However, nowhere in the Bible will you find this quote as part of any verse. Although it was popularized in modern Western culture by Benjamin Franklin who used it in his Poor Richard’s Almanac, it can be traced back to Greek literature of ancient days in Aesop’s Fables. It is nowhere to be found in the Bible.

Another example is “God will never give you more than you can handle.” I have heard many people say God will not give you more than you can handle and they often say it with good intentions – to try and comfort someone walking through difficulty or suffering. Maybe you have even said it. Let not your heart be troubled, I have said it many times myself. The saying is a twisting of 1 Corinthians 10:13 which states, “The temptations in your life are no different from what others experience. And God is faithful. He will not allow the temptation to be more than you can stand. When you are tempted, he will show you a way out so that you can endure.” What the Bible states is that God will allow us an avenue to flee from temptations. It does not say that God will never give us circumstances, events, etc. that are beyond our ability to cope with them.

Others include “this, too, shall pass”. It is kind of like Ecclesiastes 3:1 but not quite. Ecclesiastes states that there is a season for everything, including our present-day troubles. There is an inference that the season shall pass, but our suffering according to the full understanding of Ecclesiastes 3:1-8 could well be the last one of our lives. It is not guaranteed to pass during our lifetime. Our suffering shall end but it may be through the end of our existence on this side of heaven. More of these include “money is the root of all evil” when the Bible actually says “the love of money is the root of all evil” – that’s a significant distinction! Another is “to thine own self be true” – this is not biblical at all. It is from Shakespeare and certainly is the opposite of the message of the Bible to love God and to love others more than we love ourselves. These are just a few of the sayings that are part of our pop culture that, because they sound so profound, many believe they come straight out of the Bible.

These are extreme examples of people mis-attributing a common saying to the Bible. Equally as bad is when we as Christians allow tradition to become as sacred as the Bible itself. Examples are the mode of baptism. Although there is such greater symbolism to the mode of total immersion of the new believer in water, there is no clear and definitive reference in the Bible that says total immersion is the way that it was done. It is clear from the early Christian writers that they did not want the lack of access to plentiful water to prevent believers from being baptized or the infirmity of the believer may have prevented the believer from going down into the water. It is certainly what Paul envisions when he speaks of the new life of the believer but nowhere does Paul or any other apostle negate or prohibit other modes of baptism. However, because of denominational preferences, we often mistake our preferred method of baptism as being the biblically mandated one. I will admit that, in my opinion, that total immersion best reflects the symbolic nature of the old life before Christ and the cleansing and the new life in Christ better than any other mode out there, but to say the Bible definitively states this is mandated I cannot find it. There is too much controversy of the exact 1st century Greek meaning of the word we translate into English as baptism for me to say definitely that immersion is the exact method prescribed. Until the controversy over the exact meaning of that Greek word used in the Bible then it will remain my preference and I must recognize it as that.

What’s worse is when we create what the Bible says or when we add to what the Bible says to support our opinion or position. When we use Bible verses out of context to support an unbiblical position. When we accept certain church traditions as being the same thing as God’s sacred Word. When we develop layers and layers of church interpretation of the Bible as the same thing as the Word of God in the Bible. When we take something said by our favorite current writer in the 21st century as gospel without comparing what they say to the actual Word of God. When we do not understand the historical context in which a book of the Bible was written and thereby impute our 21st century parameters on the text. And it can go on and on as to how we often twist God’s Word and take it for being the true Word of God.

Here in this passage, we see that David uses the bread from the altar to survive as he is being pursued by King Saul’s men. Jewish tradition developed over time from when God laid down the law about the Bread of the Presence made it so that this bread should only be eaten by priests. This seems like a small matter to us but it was to become a big deal in the Jewish faith and led to controversy between Jesus and the religious elite of his day. Let’s read the passage together now for the first of three reviews of this passage with an eye, today, toward whether David broke the law of God or not:

Chapter 21
1 [a]David went to the town of Nob to see Ahimelech the priest. Ahimelech trembled when he saw him. “Why are you alone?” he asked. “Why is no one with you?”

2 “The king has sent me on a private matter,” David said. “He told me not to tell anyone why I am here. I have told my men where to meet me later. 3 Now, what is there to eat? Give me five loaves of bread or anything else you have.”

4 “We don’t have any regular bread,” the priest replied. “But there is the holy bread, which you can have if your young men have not slept with any women recently.”

5 “Don’t worry,” David replied. “I never allow my men to be with women when we are on a campaign. And since they stay clean even on ordinary trips, how much more on this one!”

6 Since there was no other food available, the priest gave him the holy bread—the Bread of the Presence that was placed before the Lord in the Tabernacle. It had just been replaced that day with fresh bread.

7 Now Doeg the Edomite, Saul’s chief herdsman, was there that day, having been detained before the Lord.[b]

8 David asked Ahimelech, “Do you have a spear or sword? The king’s business was so urgent that I didn’t even have time to grab a weapon!”

9 “I only have the sword of Goliath the Philistine, whom you killed in the valley of Elah,” the priest replied. “It is wrapped in a cloth behind the ephod. Take that if you want it, for there is nothing else here.”

“There is nothing like it!” David replied. “Give it to me!”

10 So David escaped from Saul and went to King Achish of Gath. 11 But the officers of Achish were unhappy about his being there. “Isn’t this David, the king of the land?” they asked. “Isn’t he the one the people honor with dances, singing,

‘Saul has killed his thousands,
and David his ten thousands’?”

12 David heard these comments and was very afraid of what King Achish of Gath might do to him. 13 So he pretended to be insane, scratching on doors and drooling down his beard.

14 Finally, King Achish said to his men, “Must you bring me a madman? 15 We already have enough of them around here! Why should I let someone like this be my guest?”

In this passage, we see that in giving David the bread, Ahimelech broke with priestly custom, but not with God’s word. He rightly understood that human need was more important that Levitical observance. Once, when Jesus’ disciples were criticized for breaking religious custom by eating against traditions, Jesus used what Ahimelech did to explain the matter (Matthew 12:1-8). Jesus approved of what Ahimelech did, and Jesus honored him by standing on Ahimelech’s same ground!

The point with Ahimelech and Jesus is powerful: human traditions are never more important than God’s word itself. If God had said, “Only the priests can eat this bread,” it would have been different. But God never said that. To put the only in there seemed logical, but it was adding to God’s word. We must never elevate our extension or application of God’s word to the same level as God’s word itself.

This incident is a reminder to us to not become so enamored with our pet religious customs and symbols and symbolisms or our favorite interpretations of what the Bible says that we raise them up as if they were definitively God’s commands or the same as Scripture itself. We can become so enamored with our own interpretations or our denomination’s position papers on certain biblical issues that we elevate these things to the level of God’s Word and accept them as the same thing as His Holy Word. Let us be careful in such endeavors to rightly divide our preferences from what God actually inspired the authors of the Bible to say in the context of the historical, linguistic and cultural backdrops when His Word was written.

Oh Lord help us to rightly separate our preferences and our modern cultural biases from the way in which God intended us to interpret His Word. Oh Lord help us to separate preferences and traditions from what you actually say in your Word. Oh Lord help us to never twist your Word to meet our own needs or means to an end. Help us to treat your Word with the discernment and honor that it deserves.

Amen and Amen.

1 Samuel 19:1-10 (Part 6 of 6)
Saul Tries to Kill David

In this series of six blogs, we have talking about false teachings that have crept their way into the Christian faith today. Today, we will look at the prevalent teaching in the modern day culture of today that all roads lead to heaven (commonly referred to as universalism by academic theologians). This teaching has made its way into the church as it tries to remain relevant in today’s culture.

Universalism teaches that all religions are worshipping the same God in different ways. This is what is known as syncretism. Some are teaching there are Messianic Muslims, that they can accept certain aspects of Jesus and still go back to practice Islam. Others say that God was in various cultures before Christianity and these cultures had a valid concept of God. That Christ reaffirms what they have known in their cultures practice. What is proposed is that no matter which religion is practiced, there are some common denominators we can unite and agree on, that they all have different roads that lead to the same destination. There are many who call themselves Christians that are moving toward a universalist view of mankind, where we can accept anyone’s God as the same God of the Scripture claiming we do not worship different Gods but the same one by different names. Accepting other religions as valid under the auspices of “all of us are worshipping the same God,” with different names is self-contradicting. The differences of religion are like different species. You can’t say a bird is a dog even though it may eat similar food. A whale may be a mammal but not like a human is a mammal. A car is not the same as a plane though they both may both run on fuel. What I’m trying to say is that there are differences in religion that cannot be overlooked, in both their mechanism of practice as well as defining God’s nature.

As we discussed yesterday, with the elimination of hell from our doctrinal teachings, then, the natural extension of that thought process is that everyone goes to heaven. Without hell, all of us, religious and non-religious alike are heaven bound. There are those Christians who genuinely believe that no matter how far from God a person is that a loving God reveals Christ to that person in their death. The same would be true in this line of thinking for a person who believes in something other than Christianity or believes nothing at all. God would reveal Jesus to them in their dying moments as a simple matter of course. In each case, an evil person or a person who has had no exposure to Jesus Christ would have him revealed to them in their dying moments such that they are reconciled to God. Such a sentiment is a wonderful one and a relaxing one.

The day we step into eternity may come sooner than we think. In preparation for that moment, we need to know this truth—not everyone is going to heaven. How can we know for sure that we are going to heaven? Some 2,000 years ago, the apostles Peter and John were preaching the gospel of Jesus Christ to a large crowd in Jerusalem. Peter made a profound statement that resonates even in our postmodern world: “Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved” (Act 4:12).

Thus, the universal truth is contrary to the popular sentiment of our day. We must be able to shed lies for the truth, even if the truth is something distasteful in this age of tolerance of all belief systems.

With that idea of discerning truth from error, let us read about the Jonathan had to make. He had to choose between doing his earthly father’s will (which sounds biblical and loving) and not violating His Heavenly Father’s will. The two, our earthly father’s will and our heavenly Father’s will, should be one and the same. However, as humans, we often twist God’s truth to our advantage or to support the sins we choose to overlook in ourselves:

Chapter 19
1 Saul now urged his servants and his son Jonathan to assassinate David. But Jonathan, because of his strong affection for David, 2 told him what his father was planning. “Tomorrow morning,” he warned him, “you must find a hiding place out in the fields. 3 I’ll ask my father to go out there with me, and I’ll talk to him about you. Then I’ll tell you everything I can find out.”

4 The next morning Jonathan spoke with his father about David, saying many good things about him. “The king must not sin against his servant David,” Jonathan said. “He’s never done anything to harm you. He has always helped you in any way he could. 5 Have you forgotten about the time he risked his life to kill the Philistine giant and how the Lord brought a great victory to all Israel as a result? You were certainly happy about it then. Why should you murder an innocent man like David? There is no reason for it at all!”

6 So Saul listened to Jonathan and vowed, “As surely as the Lord lives, David will not be killed.”

7 Afterward Jonathan called David and told him what had happened. Then he brought David to Saul, and David served in the court as before.

8 War broke out again after that, and David led his troops against the Philistines. He attacked them with such fury that they all ran away.

9 But one day when Saul was sitting at home, with spear in hand, the tormenting spirit[a] from the Lord suddenly came upon him again. As David played his harp, 10 Saul hurled his spear at David. But David dodged out of the way, and leaving the spear stuck in the wall, he fled and escaped into the night.

In this passage, we are challenged by the fact that Saul commands his son, Jonathan, to commit an act that is clearly unbiblical and is clearly against the nature of God. Jonathan had a choice to make. He had to decide whether what his father commanded him to do was consistent with Scripture and with the nature of God. Jonathan was wise enough to understand the difference between obeying a parent’s command and violating God’s law. Our parents should be teaching us and commanding us to do only that which is consistent with Scripture. In general, not just as children of our parents, we must be discerning about what we hear from others as biblical truth compared to the actual Word of God.

As https://www.gotquestions.org/going-to-heaven.html states,

“Now as then, Acts 4:12 is not politically correct. Today it’s popular to say, “Everyone’s going to heaven” or “All paths lead to heaven.” There are many who think they can have heaven without having Jesus. They want the glory, but they don’t want to be bothered by the cross, much less the One who died there. Many don’t want to accept Jesus as the only way of going to heaven and are determined to find another path. But Jesus warns us that no other path exists and that the consequence for rejecting this truth is an eternity in hell. He told us that “whoever believes in the Son has eternal life, but whoever rejects the Son will not see life, for God’s wrath remains on him” (John 3:36). Faith in Christ is the key to going to heaven.

Some will argue that it’s extremely narrow-minded of God to provide only one way to heaven. But, frankly, in light of mankind’s rebellion against God, it’s extremely broad-minded for Him to provide us with any way to heaven. We deserve judgment, but God gives us the way of escape by sending His one-and-only Son to die for our sins. Whether someone sees this as narrow or broad, it’s the truth. The good news is that Jesus died and rose again; those who are going to heaven have received this gospel by faith.

Many people today hold to a watered-down gospel that does away with the need for repentance. They want to believe in a “loving” (nonjudgmental) God who never mentions sin and who requires no change in their lifestyle. They may say things like, “My God would never send a person to hell.” But Jesus spoke more about hell than He did about heaven, and He presented Himself as the Savior who offers the only means of going to heaven: “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me” (John 14:6).

In the universalist approach, there is really no need for Jesus. And there is certainly no need for evangelism. Billy Graham wasted his time. Paul wasted his time. All of the apostles wasted their time. They sacrificed their lives for nothing. Churches are useless, bottom line, when it comes to the universalist view. If there is no judgment, there is no need to spread the gospel. If all roads lead to heaven, then why bother sacrificing your life for Christ. The truth is that hell and judgment are real for those who do not come to Christ. The all roads lead to heaven theology has no basis in Scripture. Jesus commanded us to take the gospel to the world and baptize and teach them all that he did and said. That is because there is an urgency to the gospel. If we do not repent of our sins and proclaim that Jesus died for our sins in our place and that He bodily arose to give us new life with God, then there is very real judgement.

Then evangelism to the four corners of the earth is not a luxury. It is a necessity. It is urgent. We must go into all the world and proclaim the gospel. That’s not wasted time. That’s not wasted effort. It’s a must!

 

Amen and Amen.

 

1 Samuel 19:1-10 (Part 2 of 6)

 

Saul Tries to Kill David

 

 

 

In this series of blogs, we are looking at the choices we make about what we believe as Christ followers and how we can be led astray by false teaching. Yesterday, we talked about the phenomenon known as the “prosperity gospel”. Today we will talk about “cheap grace”.

 

 

 

What is cheap grace? Cheap grace is when we preach about a God who is all love and who never condemns, a God who doesn’t judge us by our conduct. Like the false teachers Jude confronted, they “turn the grace of our God into lewdness” (Jude 4). The New International Version describes such lewdness as “a license for immorality.” But not every cheap grace preacher is looking for a way to justify sin. Some truly love Jesus but are simply preaching truth mixed with error. They’ve taken an undeniable, glorious truth about God and presented it in such an exaggerated form and simply ignore all God’s divine warnings and Jesus’ words about perverse generations.

 

 

 

Cheap grace is called cheap grace because it devalues what Jesus did on the cross for us and devalues and even nullifies the existence and work of the Holy Spirit in our lives. They ignore mountains of other scriptural truths and draw wrong theological conclusions. For example, they rightly teach that Jesus died for all our sins—past, present and future—but wrongly conclude that as believers we no longer have to deal with sin (meaning we never have to confess sin or repent of sin, and the Holy Spirit no longer convicts us of sin).

 

 

 

If we believe that sin is no longer part of our lives, Jesus is our Savior but He is not our Lord. We remain spiritual infants for the rest of our lives. We are not to seek to be more like Jesus every day. We are simply left at the cross and not required to grow beyond it. We are not to be convicted by the Holy Spirit of the behaviors in our lives at the time of our salvation that are not pleasing to God. When we accept Christ as our Savior, yes, we are covered by grace and we cannot lose our salvation and we are firmly in the clutches of Jesus’ hand when we have a bona fide salvation experience. However, none of us immediately lose the desires of our flesh at the time of our salvation. We submit ourselves at that time to the process of sanctification in which the Holy Spirit convicts us and changes us from the inside out to be more and more like Jesus Christ each and every day going forward.

 

 

 

Cheap grace says that we don’t have to grow up. Cheap grace says that you can continue living as you lived before the day of your salvation. No growth is required or even expected. Cheap grace says there is no need for sanctification. There is no need for the Holy Spirit. What we enjoy doing as sins before salvation are now made OK through salvation. If you think sex outside the marriage covenant is OK before salvation, it is still OK now because you are covered by grace. That’s just an example of the many ways that cheap grace enables us to continue enjoying our favorite sins that we enjoyed prior to salvation. No discipleship is necessary in cheap grace. We are OK to be spiritual babies the remainder of our lives.

 

 

 

Cheap grace seeks to hide the cost of discipleship from people. Salvation by grace alone through faith alone is so much more than simply mouthing the words “Jesus is Lord.” We are not saved by a profession of faith. We are not saved by praying the Sinner’s Prayer. We are not saved by signing a card or walking an aisle. We are saved by a living and active faith (James 2:14-26), a faith that manifests itself in repentance, obedience and love of God and our neighbor. Salvation is not a transaction; it’s a transformation. Paul says it best when he says we are “new creations” in Christ (2 Corinthians 5:17). There is nothing “cheap” about grace!

 

 

 

That idea of the false doctrine of cheap grace that came to mind this morning when I read this passage about the choice that Jonathan had to make – to be obedient to his father or to honor his friendship with David, to follow his father’s command which was not biblical or to follow that which was right and true according to God. With that idea in mind let us read about the choice that Jonathan had to make:

 

 

 

Chapter 19

 

1 Saul now urged his servants and his son Jonathan to assassinate David. But Jonathan, because of his strong affection for David, 2 told him what his father was planning. “Tomorrow morning,” he warned him, “you must find a hiding place out in the fields. 3 I’ll ask my father to go out there with me, and I’ll talk to him about you. Then I’ll tell you everything I can find out.”

 

 

 

4 The next morning Jonathan spoke with his father about David, saying many good things about him. “The king must not sin against his servant David,” Jonathan said. “He’s never done anything to harm you. He has always helped you in any way he could. 5 Have you forgotten about the time he risked his life to kill the Philistine giant and how the Lord brought a great victory to all Israel as a result? You were certainly happy about it then. Why should you murder an innocent man like David? There is no reason for it at all!”

 

 

 

6 So Saul listened to Jonathan and vowed, “As surely as the Lord lives, David will not be killed.”

 

 

 

7 Afterward Jonathan called David and told him what had happened. Then he brought David to Saul, and David served in the court as before.

 

 

 

8 War broke out again after that, and David led his troops against the Philistines. He attacked them with such fury that they all ran away.

 

 

 

9 But one day when Saul was sitting at home, with spear in hand, the tormenting spirit[a] from the Lord suddenly came upon him again. As David played his harp, 10 Saul hurled his spear at David. But David dodged out of the way, and leaving the spear stuck in the wall, he fled and escaped into the night.

 

 

 

In this passage, we are challenged by the fact that Saul commands his son, Jonathan, to commit an act that is clearly unbiblical and is clearly against the nature of God. Jonathan had a choice to make. He had to decide whether what his father commanded him to do was consistent with Scripture and with the nature of God. Jonathan was wise enough to understand the difference between obeying a parent’s command and violating God’s law. Our parents should be teaching us and commanding us to do only that which is consistent with Scripture. We must be discerning about what we hear from others as biblical truth compared to the actual Word of God. If something seems like it doesn’t smell right in view of Scripture, that is the Holy Spirit convicting us that what we are hearing as gospel truth is in actuality in error. Listen to the Holy Spirit.

 

 

 

The phenomenon of cheap grace is prevalent today. As well meaning pastors and parishioners try to align the Christian faith with the desires of the culture just to fit in and be seen as “relevant”, we cheapen grace. We eliminate discipleship. We eliminate the need to change from the inside out. We make Jesus our friend who sacrificed his life for us but we do not make Him Lord of our lives. We make Jesus tolerant of anything that we do because we are covered in His love and grace. Cheap grace says Jesus just wants us to be happy. Cheap grace makes us Lord so that we can decide what sins we want to let go of and what sins we want to keep. Cheap grace makes us Lord and not Jesus.

 

 

 

Cheap grace is one of the great fallacies of the Christian faith that is prevalent in today’s world of churches trying to grow quickly or churches that are clawing and scratching to remain the churches they once were back in the day. Cheap grace makes sins according to Scripture no longer sins just so we seek to be in with the culture and not be bashed as being out of step with the culture and the times. Cheap grace is Jesus as my buddy and not as my Lord. Cheap grace leaves us at the cross but does not teach us how to grow beyond it. Cheap grace does not teach us that biblical truths are universal and timeless. Cheap grace teaches us that there is no cost to being a Christ follower. Cheap grace does not teach us that we must make choices between the culture and Jesus. Cheap grace makes Jesus cool with everything. Cheap grace does not include their being a cost to following the commands of Jesus.

 

 

 

We as Christ followers must discern when what we hear is not consistent with Scripture. If it takes more time to defend why a sin is no longer a sin than it is to simply obey the commands of God in His Word, then, it’s probably cheap grace in action. Cheap grace stretches and strains God’s Word into lengthy arguments that require a law degree. When we participate in cheap grace, we are becoming like the Pharisees of Jesus’ day who in order to not violate the commands of the Old Testament would develop these lengthy legal arguments that would determine what was and was not a sin. We do the same thing in cheap grace. Only this time it is not to avoid violating God’s law, it is rather now to eliminate God’s law by developing legal-like arguments for why a sin that was once commonly accepted as a sin is no longer a sin. We decide. We cheapen the grace of Jesus Christ when we make ourselves Lord and not Him.

 

 

 

Are you going to listen to God’s Word and simply obey or are you going to listen to the those who are twisting God’s Word into saying whatever is pleasing to their continuance in not repenting of sins that are indeed sins no matter how they dress them up. Are you going to grow in Christ and allow the Holy Spirit to show you the truth of His Word in comparison to your sin-filled nature or are you going to believe the false gospel of cheap grace that says whatever you do is OK by Jesus, that you do not have to grow up, that you can by a Toys-R-Us Christian – one who doesn’t want to grow up because playing with all my favorite toys.

 

Amen and Amen.

 

1 Samuel 18:17-30
David Marries Saul’s Daughter

David is such a cool dude. I really like him. Though he later would have some flaws that resulted from pride, he was a man after God’s own heart after all. In this passage for today, we see that he had great humility. He was like the most popular political/military figure in all the land but yet he was still humble. He could have parlayed his military prowess and popularity among the people into political capital that would have positioned him nicely toward the throne. However, he remained and remembered that he was a humble shepherd from Bethlehem. He was a small town boy from a small farm and his family had no great wealth. They were humble farmers and sheepherders that were just getting by like most people in rural Israel. Although he was a famous political and military figure in Israel, he never forgot where he came from.

That got me to thinking again about this concept of being a celebrity of sorts when you become a pastor. We can never let our position and the celebrity that it can bring (even if it is just within our own church) become greater than our remembrance of who we are. My former senior pastor, Jeff Hickman, once said that pastors are just “one beggar telling another beggar where they found food!” That is a good point to remember. It is so easy to get caught up in the ego massage of being a pastor. People will seek you out and befriend you because they think by being friends with a pastor that they have scored points with God. They will be friends with you sometimes so that they can point out to others that they are close with one of the pastors of the church. It can become a point of pride for them. I have seen it happen over the years. The thing that you have to remember as a pastor that your popularity within your flock is not because of you but because of your position. The bigger thing that we have to keep in mind is that we are no better than the people we lead just because we have the title of pastor.

Sure, we devote our lives full-time to the pursuit of things related to the kingdom. Sure, we probably many of us have gone to school to study God’s Word. Sure, we have felt the call of the Lord to be in full-time ministry. However, when you boil it down, we are no greater than those we lead and we serve a God who is perfect and holy and we are but filthy rags in comparison to him.

With that idea of humility in the face of celebrity, let us read this passage together and see how David displays such an humble attitude in 1 Samuel 18:17-30:

17 One day Saul said to David, “I am ready to give you my older daughter, Merab, as your wife. But first you must prove yourself to be a real warrior by fighting the Lord’s battles.” For Saul thought, “I’ll send him out against the Philistines and let them kill him rather than doing it myself.”

18 “Who am I, and what is my family in Israel that I should be the king’s son-in-law?” David exclaimed. “My father’s family is nothing!” 19 So[a] when the time came for Saul to give his daughter Merab in marriage to David, he gave her instead to Adriel, a man from Meholah.

20 In the meantime, Saul’s daughter Michal had fallen in love with David, and Saul was delighted when he heard about it. 21 “Here’s another chance to see him killed by the Philistines!” Saul said to himself. But to David he said, “Today you have a second chance to become my son-in-law!”

22 Then Saul told his men to say to David, “The king really likes you, and so do we. Why don’t you accept the king’s offer and become his son-in-law?”

23 When Saul’s men said these things to David, he replied, “How can a poor man from a humble family afford the bride price for the daughter of a king?”

24 When Saul’s men reported this back to the king, 25 he told them, “Tell David that all I want for the bride price is 100 Philistine foreskins! Vengeance on my enemies is all I really want.” But what Saul had in mind was that David would be killed in the fight.

26 David was delighted to accept the offer. Before the time limit expired, 27 he and his men went out and killed 200 Philistines. Then David fulfilled the king’s requirement by presenting all their foreskins to him. So Saul gave his daughter Michal to David to be his wife.

28 When Saul realized that the Lord was with David and how much his daughter Michal loved him, 29 Saul became even more afraid of him, and he remained David’s enemy for the rest of his life.

30 Every time the commanders of the Philistines attacked, David was more successful against them than all the rest of Saul’s officers. So David’s name became very famous.

Here in this passage, we see David’s humility on display. Although he knew or most likely knew that he could have easily overthrown Saul as king due to his national popularity and because of his respect and power within the armies of Saul. However, David was an humble servant even of a man whom he had to know was insanely jealous of him. David knew, it seems, that his position and his popularity was all due to the grace and glory of God. He saw himself as just God’s servant in the right place at the right time. He trusted God to guide his steps and not to trust his own fleshly desires. He did not try to grab the throne in his own power. He did not try to cash in on his celebrity.

Let us be reminded always that we are, as pastors, just one beggar telling other beggars where to find food. We are not any more special than the people we lead. We do not have the corner on the market of spirituality and closeness with God. By rights, we are just condemned sinners like all other believers who have been set free by the grace of Jesus Christ on the cross. We are just men are sinners, saved by grace, who have been called to do God’s work full time. We are nothing special. We are not celebrities. We should deflect any praise given us to the King of Kings. We should realize that the only difference between us and those that we lead is the fact that our office is at the church. We do not have the corner on the market of being in tune with God’s will. We struggle just like every other believer. We are just ones that God has called to do his work full-time and we are not comfortable doing anything else. May we always have the humility as pastors that David demonstrates in this passage.

We are just servants of the King. We are just beggars telling other beggars where we found food.

Amen and Amen.

1 Samuel 17:12-51a (Part 1 of 3)
David Kills Goliath

After two days of travel, we are finally in Moline, IL. We were so tired last night after unloading the cars and carrying all the stuff that we had put in the cars that we knew we would need immediately up 2 flights of stairs (I must have done that 35 times at least) that we feel asleep watching TV on the floor after the cable guy left. Then we got up and went to bed about 9:30pm Central Time. It’s been a long two days getting here. So, we were kinda tired. More tired than even we thought we were.

Since our personal belonging moved by the moving company will not be here until Tuesday morning, we are roughing it. Kind of ill prepared I guess you say. We are sleeping on an air mattress and making do with what we could fit in the two cars. We are not fully ready one might think for what is ahead of us in the new journey in our lives. We don’t have our couches, love seats, coffee creamer, our beloved mattress and box brings, more than half of our clothes, kitchen table, all the little things that you don’t notice. But cumulatively, they add up to the creature comforts of home, as generally accepted in modern American culture. However, we must press forward. We are not fully equipped from an outward standpoint. But the battle begins today. Tomorrow may be my first day in the office but today is my first day as a pastor of this church. We may not have all the equipment we need. We may come to the battlefield in what clothes we have available. This will be a new thing today. Not only stepping into a new job but a new church all together. I feel so ill equipped for both of those things. It’s been a decade since I had to learn a new job. It’s been 7 ½ years since I had to learn a new church. It’s been 7 years since I had to use GPS just to find the nearest grocery store. I have never been in a place where a snowstorm for “a quick 1-2 inches” didn’t bring the society to a halt and the local news going all “Snow Central 2018” with crawlers at the bottom of the screen about all the cancellations. Here’s its just a quick one to two inches. No big deal. As I stare out at the snow on tops of the houses in the neighborhood next door to the apartment complex and the 17 degrees Fahrenheit temperature outside, I am a Southern boy in a strange land. I feel inadequately prepared for the weather, for the job, for the changes in my life, for the significantly reduced income. I feel like, at this moment, am I ready for this and well it’s too late now you done gone and done it now. No turning back. You are like the person shoved out on stage to make up for an act that didn’t show up. Well you are out there. Now whatcha gonna do. The spotlight is on. The change has happened. It is no longer conceptual. This is real. This is my life now.

That’s kind of feeling of being ill-prepared for the battle and having fear inside is what I thought of this morning as I read through this passage, 1 Samuel 17:12-51a, this morning for a second time. I am sure that David may have felt those same feelings when he stepped onto the battlefield with Goliath. We known that David won this battle and that he trusted in the Lord, but he would not be human if he felt “oh crap, man I have gone and done it now” when he stepped onto the field with Goliath. Let’s read the passage with that idea of feeling inadequate for the task at hand in mind as we read it now:

12 Now David was the son of a man named Jesse, an Ephrathite from Bethlehem in the land of Judah. Jesse was an old man at that time, and he had eight sons. 13 Jesse’s three oldest sons—Eliab, Abinadab, and Shimea[a]—had already joined Saul’s army to fight the Philistines. 14 David was the youngest son. David’s three oldest brothers stayed with Saul’s army, 15 but David went back and forth so he could help his father with the sheep in Bethlehem.

16 For forty days, every morning and evening, the Philistine champion strutted in front of the Israelite army.

17 One day Jesse said to David, “Take this basket[b] of roasted grain and these ten loaves of bread, and carry them quickly to your brothers. 18 And give these ten cuts of cheese to their captain. See how your brothers are getting along, and bring back a report on how they are doing.[c]” 19 David’s brothers were with Saul and the Israelite army at the valley of Elah, fighting against the Philistines.

20 So David left the sheep with another shepherd and set out early the next morning with the gifts, as Jesse had directed him. He arrived at the camp just as the Israelite army was leaving for the battlefield with shouts and battle cries. 21 Soon the Israelite and Philistine forces stood facing each other, army against army. 22 David left his things with the keeper of supplies and hurried out to the ranks to greet his brothers. 23 As he was talking with them, Goliath, the Philistine champion from Gath, came out from the Philistine ranks. Then David heard him shout his usual taunt to the army of Israel.

24 As soon as the Israelite army saw him, they began to run away in fright. 25 “Have you seen the giant?” the men asked. “He comes out each day to defy Israel. The king has offered a huge reward to anyone who kills him. He will give that man one of his daughters for a wife, and the man’s entire family will be exempted from paying taxes!”

26 David asked the soldiers standing nearby, “What will a man get for killing this Philistine and ending his defiance of Israel? Who is this pagan Philistine anyway, that he is allowed to defy the armies of the living God?”

27 And these men gave David the same reply. They said, “Yes, that is the reward for killing him.”

28 But when David’s oldest brother, Eliab, heard David talking to the men, he was angry. “What are you doing around here anyway?” he demanded. “What about those few sheep you’re supposed to be taking care of? I know about your pride and deceit. You just want to see the battle!”

29 “What have I done now?” David replied. “I was only asking a question!” 30 He walked over to some others and asked them the same thing and received the same answer. 31 Then David’s question was reported to King Saul, and the king sent for him.
32 “Don’t worry about this Philistine,” David told Saul. “I’ll go fight him!”

33 “Don’t be ridiculous!” Saul replied. “There’s no way you can fight this Philistine and possibly win! You’re only a boy, and he’s been a man of war since his youth.”

34 But David persisted. “I have been taking care of my father’s sheep and goats,” he said. “When a lion or a bear comes to steal a lamb from the flock, 35 I go after it with a club and rescue the lamb from its mouth. If the animal turns on me, I catch it by the jaw and club it to death. 36 I have done this to both lions and bears, and I’ll do it to this pagan Philistine, too, for he has defied the armies of the living God! 37 The Lord who rescued me from the claws of the lion and the bear will rescue me from this Philistine!”

Saul finally consented. “All right, go ahead,” he said. “And may the Lord be with you!”

38 Then Saul gave David his own armor—a bronze helmet and a coat of mail. 39 David put it on, strapped the sword over it, and took a step or two to see what it was like, for he had never worn such things before.

“I can’t go in these,” he protested to Saul. “I’m not used to them.” So David took them off again. 40 He picked up five smooth stones from a stream and put them into his shepherd’s bag. Then, armed only with his shepherd’s staff and sling, he started across the valley to fight the Philistine.

41 Goliath walked out toward David with his shield bearer ahead of him, 42 sneering in contempt at this ruddy-faced boy. 43 “Am I a dog,” he roared at David, “that you come at me with a stick?” And he cursed David by the names of his gods. 44 “Come over here, and I’ll give your flesh to the birds and wild animals!” Goliath yelled.

45 David replied to the Philistine, “You come to me with sword, spear, and javelin, but I come to you in the name of the Lord of Heaven’s Armies—the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defied. 46 Today the Lord will conquer you, and I will kill you and cut off your head. And then I will give the dead bodies of your men to the birds and wild animals, and the whole world will know that there is a God in Israel! 47 And everyone assembled here will know that the Lord rescues his people, but not with sword and spear. This is the Lord’s battle, and he will give you to us!”

48 As Goliath moved closer to attack, David quickly ran out to meet him. 49 Reaching into his shepherd’s bag and taking out a stone, he hurled it with his sling and hit the Philistine in the forehead. The stone sank in, and Goliath stumbled and fell face down on the ground.

50 So David triumphed over the Philistine with only a sling and a stone, for he had no sword. 51 Then David ran over and pulled Goliath’s sword from its sheath. David used it to kill him and cut off his head.

In this passage, we see that David was able to move faster than Goliath because David carried no heavy weapons or armor. David was an expert marksman with a sling, and as he advanced on Goliath, he stayed out of range of Goliath’s huge weapons. What made David effective was more than his ability with a sling, it was his courage and his faith in God. To fight like David, we need David’s kind of fearlessness. David’s confident trust in God had grown strong in his encounters with wild animals while guarding his father’s sheep (1 Samuel 17:34-37). When you face towering problems or new situations that seem overwhelming or fear of the unknown is crippling you, recall how God helped David and how He has helped you in the past. Take heart because God will give you strength. Use the skills God has already given you, place your trust in Him completely to carry you through the problem, the hardship, the new situation, the unknown situation and then just move forward in that trust.

David must have had fear but his trust in the Lord was greater than his fear. He moved forward into the moment that he felt unprepared for because he knew that the Lord would protect him. He knew that whatever the outcome, God would be there for him and provide him his eternal reward in heaven if he died, or God would show him how to make the best of the new situation. It is comforting in our fears to remember that God has a purpose in whatever the outcome may be. Even if we die in the process, we get to go to heaven, man! However, if God chooses not to send us to our eternal glory just yet, He will provide for us and that even the defeats have a purpose and plan in our lives. Even if things don’t turn out like we want them to, God has got this. There is a natural tendency to expect disaster when you make a change. But on the other hand, God may just blow this thing up and make the change we made to make something great for the kingdom. Who knows? Through God’s guidance and if we stay in alignment with him, he could use us here to something awesome for the kingdom. Who knows? He does! Regardless of how inadequate we may feel this week and particularly these first two days or so, God’s prepared us. God’s got this and we got press forward onto the battlefield and take on Goliath – Goliath being the great unknown that we enter into now.

Amen and Amen.

1 Samuel 15:32-35 (Part 3 of 3)
Samuel Executes King Agag

I remember when I was kid that when you got a whipping for bad behavior, my dad would use the cliché line, “this is going to hurt me worse than it’s going to hurt you!” I would never say it out loud, because that would have made the whipping worse, but I would think, “You’ve GOT to be kidding me! I am the one getting a whipping!” Dad was not abusive with his whippings (so all you millennials out there get your hand off the DSS hotline), but he would make it sting for sure. I had a healthy fear of my dad with his steely blue eyes. He was the ultimate authority in our house and I did not want to get on the wrong side of him. Even the threat of a whipping was an effective behavior modification tool.

My dad was one who was not a standoffish dads. He would play ball with us. He would wrestle in the floor with us (while mom would get on him for being too rough – you know moms!) We would laugh and cut up with dad. He would play tricks on us and us him. He was a fun dad. But we know that he was dad and we were the kids. His authoritative voice was a show stopper. He had boundaries that we could not cross with our behavior and we knew what they were. He was consistent in his discipline. There were grade levels of punishment. Restrictions were the most common form of punishment for the minor offenses. But there were offenses that when we were younger that drew out the belt, “The Black Spirit of Power” as he called it. I even used that title for the belt when I became a parent.

But that old saying that dad would use when he would give us a whipping used to just stick in my craw. How could him giving me a whipping hurt him more than it hurt meeting. I mean, dude, I was the one getting the strap to the rear-end. Like I said, he didn’t maliciously whip us but you sure did know it that you had been whipped. The rear end was stinging for a little while after one of those whippings. Dad probably only whipped us a dozen times or less when we were under age 12 (after that it was just restrictions when you would have rather had a whipping than lose freedoms). So, the whippings were for egregious violations of Daddy law. How could that stinging in my tail area be worse for him than me? I was the one being whipped! That’s just whacked out parent psychobabble I thought! Geez! Nothing was being applied to his rear end at light speed. I was the one with the back porch being painted red.

How could that being hurting him more than it hurt me? I did not understand it and thought dad was just out and out lying to me just to get through a bad situation – my serious misbehavior and him having to do something about it. Boy, did I not understand being the parent at all. When I became a parent in April 1985 and again in September 1990, all that changed. When you hold your oldest child the first time and even when you hold your youngest for the first time five years later. Something just happens to you. You know a love that you never knew existed before. And, as a dad, when you hold your little girls in your arm you feel this overwhelming daddy-daughter love and this overwhelming sense of responsibility to this little girl.

I know that it must have been hard for dad to whip us even as boy children, but oh my God, when you, as dad, have to spank your daughter. It is the absolute toughest thing in the world to do. Because let’s face it, little boys are just NOT as a adorable as little girls. My girls were just the most adorable girls on the planet to me. Cute faces. Cut child expressions. The mulitiple aaaaa’s in Daddy when they say, “Daaaaady!” When they think that their dad is the most handsome, most powerful, most smart, most every thing man in the world. They adored me. They loved me with an innocence and purity when they were little girls that made you feel so loved and also so maybe even unworthy of it. And they were so little and dainty and so beautiful with the cutest little girl voices.

How could whipping them hurt me more than it hurt them. Let me tell you, the few times that I had to whip Meghan or Taylor, and they were very few, it would literally make me want to throw up afterwards. To hear them cry as if the world was ending would rip my heart out. Usually with both Meghan and Taylor, I could just look at them mean and they would stop doing what they were doing and be sad for having made their hero dad mad. If that didn’t work a really stern talking to and they would never exhibit the offending behavior again. But there were those few times though that obstinate and rebellious behavior or fighting between the girls I would have to use the last resort, “the Black Spirit of Power”, my belt. I came then to know what my dad had said was true. This is going to hurt me worse than it hurts you. I would literally throw up after having to whip one of them. You knew you had to enforce discipline against the worst violations of family law and common decency, but those were my little girls. They adored me. And I too just adored them. I still do to this day. Even when I have had to be tough on them in our relationship as dad to adult daughters, it makes me want to throw up to punish them. But those few whippings back in the day when they were little truly did, as my dad would tell me, hurt me worse than it hurt them. Funny thing being a parent, huh? All those things that you didn’t understand as a child become crystal clear as a quiet lake first thing in the morning when you become a parent yourself.

That was the thing that I immediately thought of this morning when I read through this passage one final time before we move on to the next one. This time I was concentrating on the second half of the passage, vv. 34-35. How could Samuel mourn over Saul? Saul was like an impetuous child – only thinking of himself. Saul would violate God’s commands at a drop of hat if it suited what he wanted. He was just like a precocious child in that way. But yet Samuel mourned over him. How could he do that? It doesn’t make sense. Samuel knew exactly why Saul was going to lose his throne – he had not obeyed his Father in heaven. The punishment of losing the kingdom was just and right. However, Samuel still mourned. That idea of hurting me worse than it hurting you was what the Holy Spirit planted in my brain after having read this passage this morning. Let us read today’s passage, 1 Samuel 15:32-25, for third of three blogs:

32 Then Samuel said, “Bring King Agag to me.” Agag arrived full of hope, for he thought, “Surely the worst is over, and I have been spared!”[a] 33 But Samuel said, “As your sword has killed the sons of many mothers, now your mother will be childless.” And Samuel cut Agag to pieces before the Lord at Gilgal.

34 Then Samuel went home to Ramah, and Saul returned to his house at Gibeah of Saul. 35 Samuel never went to meet with Saul again, but he mourned constantly for him. And the Lord was sorry he had ever made Saul king of Israel.

In this passage, we see that that Samuel grieves over the way that Saul has acted. He grieves because Saul could have made better choices and simply trusted the Lord enough to have obeyed him completely. However, actions have consequences. Sins have consequences and Saul chose to violate God’s commands. That Saul could have been a great king if he had been obedient was what Samuel grieved over. He could have been so much more if he had loved God more than anything else. If Saul had not been a selfish, self-centered, out to protect what was his, it’s all about me precocious child, he could have been much more of a king than he was. He goes down in history as having been a petty, selfish, paranoid, self-preservationist king whose line of kingship was taken away from him. Samuel was grieving that the actions of Saul caused his punishment. Samuel grieved over the poor choices of Saul just as a parent grieves over the poor choices of his or her children. We love our children but sometimes we cannot save them from the punishment that must come when they act sinfully. God allows our sins to have their own toll on our lives – not because he is a mean ogre but that is just the way sin is. It is never good in the end. It brings its own punishment.

Just as I grieved over having to execute punishment over my children as they were growing up and it made me want to throw up afterwards. How much more do we grieve our Father in heaven when we commit our wanton and daily sins. He knows that there are consequences that will inevitably result from our sins and it most assuredly makes our Father in heaven want to throw up. After all, he gave us all the instructions for lives well lived in his Word and we have much of God’s goodness wired into us directly by Him (knowing right from wrong innately) but yet we wantonly and brazenly violate His commands each and every day. It make our Father in heaven sick to his stomach daily. He knows the consequences of any sins is that we become separated from Him permanently. Since God is perfection and sinless, we cannot exist in His presence eternally with the stain of sin in our souls – even just one sin disqualifies us. We are sunk with the first sin we commit. We are done. We are sentenced to hell with the first sin we commit (and there is a 100% probability that we will sin) much less the ample additional evidence of our need for eternal punishment with every next sin that we commit daily throughout our lifetime. It grieves the heart of God that we are separated from Him on our own merits by our lifetimes of sin. Like a parent of a wayward child, he grieves over our rebelliousness. It makes Him want to throw up.

Because the Lord our God is so grieved by our separation from Him, and the fact that He loves us so much (just like a dad and his children), he made a way for us to be reunited in His arms. That way is Jesus Christ. He came to earth as God in the flesh and lived the perfect life and demonstrated to us what the Kingdom of God should look like and taught us about the heart of God and how our relationship with Him should be. The main purpose though of Christ’s first advent was to reconcile us to God through His atoning death on the cross. It was there that He took on the eternal wrath and punishment of God for our sins so that we could be escape unharmed from our rightful sentence to hell before a just and righteous God. It is the equivalent of Meghan taking a whipping for Taylor that Taylor deserved but Meghan did not want to see Taylor get punished because she knew that Taylor really didn’t understand the implications of her behavior. Meghan taking a whipping that Taylor deserved is a demonstration of immeasurable love for her sister. That’s how much God loves us. He had the right to eternally separate Himself from us and allow our sin to punish us in hell. But He sends Himself in Jesus to take our punishment for us. God’s Son taking the punishment we deserve. Through Jesus taking our punishment, we are made right with God. We are seen as innocent before Him through our faith in Jesus Christ that He is the Son of God and that He died for our sins. We are restored to a right parent child relationship. We are loved.

Just think about how much God loves us. He took on the pain of punishment for our sins. Talk about the old saying, “this is going to hurt me more than it hurts you!” God loves us enough to send Jesus to the cross to take on all that suffering and pain for us…for us…FOR US. Just think about how much THAT LOVE is.

Amen and Amen.