Talking about the symphony that is the life of David.
Story - prophetic word.
Growing up in a pentecostal Christian community, one of the experiences I vividly remember is when you're in worship experience in someone speaks in tongues, you can read all about that in the New Testament, where they speak in a language they don't understand, and then someone else in the worship service, supernaturally is able to interpret the message.
By show of hands, who has experienced something like this.
Don't worry, I'm not gonna run us through some Pentecostal experiment here.
It can be something that's very holy and very sacred, and can be for a lot of people a turning point in their Christian walk.
And also, if I'm being perfectly honest, it can be quite funny when it goes awry.
Or maybe the interpretation you're thinking: "That may or may not be the voice of the Lord."
Also one thing you need to understand about tongues and interpretations in the old school pentecostal movement, is that God always seemed to speak in King James English. That's how they talked in biblical times, so that's how we should we talk too. If it was good enough for Paul and Silas, it's good enough for me.
I remember hearing a story from a preacher that I really admire and he tells of this time he was in a worship service and someone had 'a word from the Lord' that went something like this: "Verily verily I say unto thee, be ye not askeered, for I, the Lord, am also askeered."
Couple of issues here: 1. "Askeered". While that might SOUND like an old King James word for being afraid, it's actually not a word. - 2. The not so comforting notion of: "Don't be afraid b/c the Lord is also afraid." Listen, if God is scared, you should be real scared. If God himself is scared, then we're in real bad shape.
Christians 'askeered' & feel God 'askeered'.
You know, there's a lot of Christians who are 'askeered' and feel like God is 'askeered'.
We see the world and we panic, and we assume that God is also panicked.
We're terrified and we think God is terrified.
To catch you up: David has this calling on his life, he kills Goliath, and now Saul the current King is absolutely hellbent on killing David. And so David is in hiding. He's hiding out in a cave with his men.
And I think it's an amazing time in David's life because I all think we face this temptation when we feel threatened, to either face them head on, partnering with God, believing that he'll take care of us,
OR taking matters into our own hands, and eliminate the threat ourselves.
After Saul returned from pursuing the Philistines, he was told, “David is in the Desert of En Gedi.” (1 Samuel 24:1)
So Saul took three thousand able young men from all Israel and set out to look for David and his men near the Crags of the Wild Goats. (1 Samuel 24:2)
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. (1 Samuel 24:3)
Saul - 3000 men / 'Relieve himself' Before phones
Ok so Saul gets a lead on where David is, so he brings 3000 men with him to go find and kill David. David and his few men are hiding in a cave, and Saul goes into that cave to 'relieve himself'. I don't want to get into the number system as to exactly what he was doing, but it evidently was taking quite a while b/c David and his men are able to have this whole conversation while Saul is in there taking care of business.
Also of note, this is before phones. I know there's more of us than we'd like to admit that can find ourself in the bathroom much longer than needed simply because we're playing with our phones. That's not the case with Saul, but still, this appears to be taking quite a long time.
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.’ ” (1 Samuel 24:4)
Advice: Kill Saul
(The story will go on to say that David's men unmistakably were encouraging David to kill Saul. Now I would like you to appreciate what good advice this actually is. Killing Saul, mid bathroom-duty would not just save David's life, it would likely save the life of all his men, too.
I love the saying "It's not paranoia when they really are out to get you." - This is not irrational fear on the part of David. Saul brought 3000 men to help him kill David. That feels like overkill but it just shows you how bloodthirsty Saul truly has become.
I also find it interesting that David's men give him a theological argument here. "The LORD gave this enemy into our hands." Not only is an amazing opportunity is also appears to be a God-given moment.
It would appear that this is an open and shut case. Any reasonable, rational person would agree, David, this is self-defense. Not only is this man actively trying to murder you, he'll kill all your friends too. So it would appear that to kill Saul would actually be a heroic thing to do, a courageous thing to do.)
(1 Samuel 24:4b) Then David crept up unnoticed and cut off a corner of Saul’s robe.
What?! - So instead of killing Saul, he creeps up and cuts of a piece of his robe. Two things are really happening here: 1. It's a 'warning shot' to Saul, telling him David could have killed him if he wanted to. 2. It's a way to humiliate Saul.
Afterward, David was conscience-stricken for having cut off a corner of his robe. (1 Samuel 24:5)
Not only did David not kill Saul when he had the chance and all his friends were saying it's the right thing to do, he felt bad for cutting off a piece of his robe.
He said to his men, “The Lord forbid that I should do such a thing to my master, the Lord’s anointed, or lay my hand on him; for he is the anointed of the Lord.” (1 Samuel 24:6)
I need you to really understand what's happening here: Saul is a homicidal maniac, who is trying to kill David when David has done nothing wrong. And amazingly David considers Saul to be 'The Lords anointed.' That even though Saul is a bloodthirsty maniac, he's still the King. And while Sauls character doesn't deserve honor, his position does. Remember that.
With these words David sharply rebuked his men and did not allow them to attack Saul. And Saul left the cave and went his way. (1 Samuel 24:7)
Then David went out of the cave and called out to Saul, “My lord the king!” When Saul looked behind him, David bowed down and prostrated himself with his face to the ground. (1 Samuel 24:8)
He said to Saul, “Why do you listen when men say, ‘David is bent on harming you’? (1 Samuel 24:9)
This day you have seen with your own eyes how the Lord delivered you into my hands in the cave. Some urged me to kill you, but I spared you; I said, ‘I will not lay my hand on my lord, because he is the Lord’s anointed.’ (1 Samuel 24:10)
See, my father, look at this piece of your robe in my hand! I cut off the corner of your robe but did not kill you. See that there is nothing in my hand to indicate that I am guilty of wrongdoing or rebellion. I have not wronged you, but you are hunting me down to take my life. (1 Samuel 24:11)
This is amazing:
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. (1 Samuel 24:12)
As the old saying goes, ‘From evildoers come evil deeds,’ so my hand will not touch you. (1 Samuel 24:13)
“Against whom has the king of Israel come out? Who are you pursuing? A dead dog? A flea? (1 Samuel 24:14)
May the Lord be our judge and decide between us. May he consider my cause and uphold it; may he vindicate me by delivering me from your hand.” (1 Samuel 24:15)
When David finished saying this, Saul asked, “Is that your voice, David my son?” And he wept aloud. (1 Samuel 24:16)
No Saul is not blind, but it does seem that occasionally he gets this ability to see with the eyes he had before he went crazy.
“You are more righteous than I,” he said. “You have treated me well, but I have treated you badly. (1 Samuel 24:17)
You have just now told me about the good you did to me; the Lord delivered me into your hands, but you did not kill me. (1 Samuel 24:18)
When a man finds his enemy, does he let him get away unharmed? May the Lord reward you well for the way you treated me today. (1 Samuel 24:19)
I know that you will surely be king and that the kingdom of Israel will be established in your hands. (1 Samuel 24:20)
Now swear to me by the Lord that you will not kill off my descendants or wipe out my name from my father’s family.” (1 Samuel 24:21)
So David gave his oath to Saul. Then Saul returned home, but David and his men went up to the stronghold. (1 Samuel 24:22)
That's a lot of text, but the movement here is quite simple. Saul is vulnerable using the bathroom, David has the opportunity to kill him in self-defense, he doesn't, and he promises "I will not touch the one who is anointed by the Lord." And instead, trusts that God will decide who's right and who's wrong.
Now if you don't understand how amazing this is, then I'm not saying it right.
David was perfectly justified in killing Saul out of self defense. Not just defending himself but all his men! Saul's 3000 wouldn't have just killed David, he would have killed them all.
But not only does David NOT kill Saul when given the chance, he vows to never hurt him and even feels guilty for dishonoring him by cutting off a corner of his robe. And over and over when speaking of the homicidal king he refers to him as 'The Lords Anointed'.
I think this shows an amazing amount of trust in God on David's part. To not take matters into his own hands and deal with the threat directly, but instead to trust that God will take care of the judging, and avenging, and vindicating. It's not an easy thing to do.
I wonder how many of us have ever had the feeling that God is not appropriately panicked about the thing that is making you feel panicked. And it bothers you, when you're freaking out and it seems like God's not hardly stressed at all.
You can actually see this in the life of David in the Psalms.
"How long are you going to wait to act?" "Do you even care?"
And when you feel that, the temptation is incredibly strong, to take the issue off God's plate, put it back on yours and just deal with it yourself. - ESPECIALLY when it looks like a God-given opportunity. Like it was with David in the cave.
I find it interesting: What seemed like an opportunity was really a temptation. Saul WAS a threat. But it wasn't up to David to make the judgement or to eliminate the threat. That's not David's job. David's job is this: No matter what, I will bless Saul, and honor him as King. There is no question in the text that Saul is in the wrong and David is right.
"I'm just tryin to stand up for Jesus." - Well what if Jesus didn't tell you to take that stand? What if he says 'The way you'll stand for me is to love Saul and honor him' ??
David understands Saul to be an authority that's been placed over him by God, even though Saul is operating in an evil way.
"Well that's Old Testament brother." - If you think that, I'd encourage you to go home and read Romans 13.
Paul goes to great length to teach us about not just submitting to spiritual authorities, but governing authorities, I hate to tell you this, but I think there's ways that this applies to your boss at work.
If you don't understand this, then you're gonna spend a lot of your life raging against things that you have no control over.
You're sitting around trying to decide wether or not Saul is wrong. Congratulations, you don't even have to figure that out. B/C let's say Saul is wrong, what are you gonna do different? "Uhhh…. Kill him." - Nope. That's not your job.
I've lived on this planet going on 37 years, so I understand, (just like everybody else understands) that feeling of being underneath someone and you feel like you understand something they don't. Or you see something that they don't. And we all know that feeling of having David's men around you saying 'Man, you know what, you're right about them. That guy is so wrong. We really love you, and we're devoted to you, and, we'll back you up. That is the voice of the devil. When you have somebody that comes and speaks to your ego in just the right way. That's the devil.
"Well what if the authority is wrong?!" What if it's not up to you? What if God's the judge and he didn't ask your opinion? What if your job is to bless and honor and trust God to sort out all this business of who's right and who's wrong?
I think this is important. Some people might feel "I'll be faithful to what God has called me to do as long as Saul begins to change." - What if he doesn't change? Just b/c he doesn't change doesn't mean your assignment changed. It's like "I'm happy to love people as long as the Lord is gonna show them how wrong they were and they're gonna come kneel before me and apologize."
Here comes the disclaimers. I'm not saying you can't stand up against injustice. You most certainly can, and we must. But there's a way to stand up to injustice without dishonoring, degrading, belittling, humiliating.
Need an example: Martin Luther King Jr. He saw there was something in the world that needed changing. And he courageously fought against both systemic and individual racism. And one thing that really strikes me about the writing and speaking of Martin Luther King is how respectful he was to even his oppressors.
”Time is cluttered with the wreckage of communities which surrendered into hatred and violence. We are going to follow another way: we will not abandon our righteous efforts. With every ounce of our strength we will continue to rid the nation of the incubus of segregation. But we will not in the process relinquish our privilege and our obligation to love. While abhorring segregation, we will love the segregationist. This is the only way to build the beloved community.
To our most bitter opponents we say 'We shall meet your physical force with soul force. Do to us what you will and we will continue to love you. … Throw us in jail, we will still love you; send your hooded perpetrators of violence into our community and beat us, and we will still love you. But be ye assured that we will wear you down.
One day we will win freedom, but not only for ourselves, we will so appeal to your heart and conscience that we will win you in the process, and so our victory will be a double-victory.
(Martin Luther King, Jr.)
Do you see how that's different than a lot of what you see today?
Because it's not just about what you stand for, it's HOW you stand for it. You can be on the right side and still be in the wrong.
Ok, are you ready for me to get real?
Currently have - president
We currently have a president that like every president is both loved and hated. That should surprise no one. And fast forward a few years and there's someone from a different political party in office, it will be exactly the same. One half rejoices while the other half starts calling people hitler or the anti-Christ. Every gosh darn time. We have a new hitler anti-Christ every 4 years. It's exhausting. "Well we were wrong about the other ones, we're serious this time!" Yeah yeah.
This sermon is not about whether or not such and such is right or wrong, this sermon is about whether you will kill Saul or will you bless Saul?
I don't know where Christians got this idea that if someone is in the public eye that they're somehow an exemption for how we're supposed to treat people.
I actually believe that you'll give an account for the words you use when describing the president. Maybe this one, maybe the last one. Maybe the next one.
You need to remember that when you're talking about President Trump, or Hilary Clinton, or Bernie Sanders, or Alexandria Ocasio Cortez, that you're talking about God's beloved. That before they're presidents, or congress-people, or senators, they are human beings, made in the image of God.
And I actually believe you're gonna have to answer for it. I honestly do.
I respect : our church
That's something I really respect about this church. For as long as I've been coming, which is my whole life. We have prayed for the current president. We pray that God would bless them and protect them, and give them wisdom to lead us in the ways of God. And every administration change, one half prays and the other half grumbles. And then the administration changes again, and it switches. The other half prays and the other half grumbles.
It becomes so easy to become that person who just blames Saul for everything.
A much better posture is exactly what David did - I'm going to love and bless the people who are out to hurt me. Even if they're my enemy, I'll love them. I'll love my enemies. Now where have I heard that before?
The truth is this dear friends: No matter your opinion, you are called be bless those in authority. And that's not just political leaders, that's spiritual leaders, that's business leaders, etc.
You know what's hard about honoring people? - You don't get to play the Martyr. Everyone loves to be the Martyr who gets to tell that sweet, sappy story, "Oh I was just so mistreated. They were so mean to me at that church. That guy is all about money." Etc, etc etc.
When I find myself in conflict, here's what I don't do. I don't go around saying 'Well we're having a bit of an issue, and I want you to know my side…' - Listen, I don't need you to know my side. I'm not in the 7th grade. Notice what David says - "The Lord will vindicate me." - So I don't need to be in the self-vindicating business.
I also think it's worth mentioning that we're not always as right as we think we are. That might be worth noting. Sometimes you're right and sometimes less right. Have you not ever been the person in the room who thought you knew what you were talking about, but come to find out, you didn't? But even when we are right, sometimes there's something more important than being right.
Obscure example: Jesus
Let me give you a really obscure, strange example: There was once a man who was on his way to being brutally tortured and killed by crucifixion. And he's asked direct questions as an opportunity to defend himself and he doesn't say a word. Would he have been "Right" in the things he could have said to defend himself? Sure. Totally. But Jesus understood that sometimes there's more at stake than just winning an argument.
Contrast that with Peter in the garden and cut the guys ear off.
The temptation is always the same: That when you feel threatened, you take up the sword and start attacking somebody. - The person or the group that you perceive to be a threat to you.
That's what so amazing about David: Saul is scared to death of David, and the fact that at times he's a bloodthirsty maniac trying to murder David. All the way up to Saul's death, every time Saul and David have an encounter, you know what David does? He blesses Saul. He reminds Saul that he's always loved him, he honors Saul.
There's something beautiful and maybe a little bit sad about this, that Saul, up to his dying breath, David was always a witness to him of the love of God. The in the middle of his madness and confusion, there was still this beacon of love and hope extended to Saul through David.
I'm gonna say something that I debated NOT saying, but hopefully you can see yourself in this.
I've told you this before, that I don't consider myself a particularly holy guy. I don't walk around with a glowing halo around my head, I'm a regular dude. I watch TV, I play video games.
And I don't feel like I'm a particularly eloquent speaker. I laugh with my friends b/c I feel like Pastors Marshall and Cindi just have this polish in everything they say, that I'm not sure I'm ever going to have.
So I don't believe I'm particularly holy or that I'm particularly eloquent, but I (and I can't believe I'm about to say this), I do think that I'm smart. I just do. I think that I have perspective, I think I can see both sides of things in a way that make me very intelligent. I think I have smart things to say. When it comes to spirituality, politics, society, technology, any of the things that I have an interest in, I believe I have smart things to say. I just do. Now that I'm saying that, I really hope that I'm not the only one who feels this way. Do you tend to think you're smart about stuff?
So when something comes up, I think, "All right! I have an opportunity to say a really brilliant thing! This is gonna blow peoples minds. These idiots aren't gonna know what hit em. They're gonna say 'He's so young, but he's so wise. He doesn't wear a coat or have a PHD, but… I love it when he talks smart."
Message - particularly offensive.
So a message like this is particularly offensive to me, the idea that God might ever tell me to keep my mouth shut?!?! "But Lord, this is an opportunity to teach people and more importantly, look really smart!"
And it's like I'm trying to convince God to see things my way. "God I'm seeing a few things here that you might not be aware of."
You should get in front of the mirror and practice saying this: "I don't have an opinion about that." - Congratulations, you just grew up by about 7 years.
I'm becoming more and more aware that sometimes the right thing to say is nothing at all. Even if you are "Right".
Places where this is true: Almost everywhere. That's true in the workplace, Lord knows it's true in a marriage. If my wife corrected me every time I did something stupid, we wouldn't have time to do anything else.
Um. Facebook. Dear lord. Total count of people to change political affiliation based on a snarky facebook post: 0. You're about as likely to convince them and they are to convince you. Which is not very likely.
Jesus refuses direct answer.
I also think it's interesting to think about the life of Jesus, how many times was he asked a direct question and he refuses to give a direct answer. How often does he answer a question with another question.
Wouldn't it be awesome if someone came to you desperate to hear your position on something, and you sense it's not the right time to give your position, so how about a parable. That would be amazing. That was Jesus. I just think he was that smart.
Maybe instead of always stating your position, maybe you need to tell your story. I'm not gonna debate you on what I believe about the Holy Spirit, but I will gladly tell how Jesus saved me from a life of fear.
I really do believe that we live in a culture that is completely consumed with blame and accusation. Everybody has someone to blame for why they are the way they are, or why the nation is the way it is, or why the world is the way that it is.
'The Ministry of Cool'
So instead of us just buying into that and being like everybody else, I wonder what it would look like to have a Christian community that participates in what I'm gonna call 'The Ministry of Cool'. And by that I don't mean that everyone will start wearing skinny jeans and scarves, and that everyone just get so hip. I mean 'Cool' as in unrattled. And when everyone else is losing their mind and stabbing each other on facebook, for us to be the people that bring peace into a situation. - "I don't need to be the person who's right, I'm gonna be the person who's sane."
And I would actually argue that you can make a heck of lot more positive difference in the world if you take a break from just hurling soundbites over the wall, and instead open yourself up to be the person who brings God's peace into a situation.
Question: In what ways am I dishonoring of others?
Let me try to help you connect the dots. Is it perhaps someone or someone(s) at work? Maybe it's people with a different political worldview than you. Maybe you dishonor your spouse. And God would use a simple message like this is start the journey of learning how to honor your husband or your wife.
Maybe it's a public figure.