- Matthew 10:32-39,
- 1Samuel 19:1-23
My dear brothers and sisters in the Lord,
The first salvos of the war of the evil against God were fired in the Garden of Eden when Adam and Eve disobeyed God and so plunged all creation in sin. But God promised ultimate victory over his enemy:
And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and hers; he will crush your head, and you will strike his heel.” (Genesis 3:15, NIV)
Christ indeed crushed the head of that serpent; Revelation teaches us about him that he is “that ancient serpent called the devil, or Satan, who leads the whole world astray”. (Revelation 12:9, NIV)—he was overcome. The victory of Christ will finally be acknowledged by all people and “every knee will bow” before him (Philippians 2:9-10).
In the meantime the battle continues. The dragon has his agents, but God empowers his people to overcome. Just as actual war is dangerous, so is this battle dangerous. The events in 1Samuel 19 tells us of the ongoing battle, and those involved in it.
Let’s therefore right in the beginning stress the truth of the Scripture: being a Christian does not mean easy living. Our Lord made it clear:
Do not suppose that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I did not come to bring peace, but a sword. Whoever finds their life will lose it, and whoever loses their life for my sake will find it. (Matthew 10:34,39, NIV)
The choice to follow Christ, has consequences; and no Christian is exempt. But we are not in it on our own; our Commander-in-Chief is with us, and his Spirit leads us all the way.
The topic for this sermon in “Dangerous living”. Let’s follow the lives of the main characters in this drama who lived dangerously.
- Jonathan—loyal could-be-king
- David—the fugitive anointed king-to-be
- Saul—the embittered king-that-was
Jonathan—the loyal could-be-king
We learned about Jonathan last week. Although was the natural successor to the throne of his father, he abdicated in favour of David. The could-be-king bowed to the anointed fugitive king and met the full force of the embittered king-that-was.
Can you imagine the tension in the household of Saul: his son pledged allegiance to his father’s enemy, and his sister was married to his father’s enemy. On top of that the king-that-was went through bouts of personal disturbances in which he actually attempted murder on the best friend of his Second-in-Command, and did not even contemplate the pain it could bring in the life of his daughter.
By blood Jonathan had to be loyal to his father; by faith he chose to be loyal to the anointed king-to-be.
All palace personnel had to attend a meeting Saul called. The king entered the room; his face was somber; his speech was short: “Kill David!”
This meeting were preceded by important statements:
- Saul knew that the Lord was with David
- Saul knew that Michal, his daughter, loved David
- David had more success that all Saul’s servants
- Saul saw David as an enemy
“Kill David!” And Saul left the room. I suppose you hear a pin drop.
The text helps us to understand what was going on in the mind of Jonathan: the fact that he was Saul’s son is prominent. When Saul issues the command to kill David, he as most probably looking Jonathan in the eye, because he was the only other person who was supposed to have a sword.
Now the text continues: “But Jonathan, Saul’s son, had taken a great liking to David. The Hebrew word expresses favour.
When Jonathan saw David the next time he told him that “his father” issued a command for his death. The plan Jonathan worked out would be next to his father, speaking about David who was declared free game.
Do you see how the battle which started in Eden is now unfolding? Do you see how dangerous it is to side with the One promised to crush the head of the serpent?
Jonathan faces the agent of the serpent—his own father. A son pleading with his enraged father not to sin. A son who gave up his rights to the throne pleading with his father to see the big picture: if you kill David you will spill innocent blood—that’s murder which God will revenge.
What if Saul then had another explosion of hate and bitterness like he later had. 1Samuel 20 informs us of what Saul was capable of. Let’s read verse 30:
Saul’s anger flared up at Jonathan and he said to him, “You son of a perverse and rebellious woman! Don’t I know that you have sided with the son of Jesse to your own shame and to the shame of the mother who bore you?
In his irrational rage Saul hurled his spear at Jonathan to kill him (20:33).
You just don’t want to show up for work the next day. In our day it would be enough to take out an AVO against your father.
Yet Jonathan’s loyalty was with the anointed king-to-be, because “the Lord was with David.” (18:28).
It takes us to the teaching of Jesus:
“Do not suppose that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I did not come to bring peace, but a sword. For I have come to turn “ ‘a man against his father, a daughter against her mother, a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law— a man’s enemies will be the members of his own household.’ (Matthew 10:34–36, NIV)
There’s a price to pay in following Christ. John Knox knew this very well, and so did Martin Luther—and hundreds of thousands after them.
Whoever does not take up their cross and follow me is not worthy of me. Whoever finds their life will lose it, and whoever loses their life for my sake will find it. (Matthew 10:38–39, NIV)
O, my friend, where do we stand with Christ? Surely we would plead with those closest to us to follow Christ, we would pray for them—and yes, we would love them. And there will be agony in our souls when we need to take up our cross to love Christ more should circumstances call for it. Because,
“Whoever acknowledges me before others, I will also acknowledge before my Father in heaven. But whoever disowns me before others, I will disown before my Father in heaven. (Matthew 10:32–33, NIV)
Let’s be like Jonathan, the loyal could-be-king.
David—the fugitive king-to-be
Not only did David face the giant Goliath, placing himself in utmost danger in doing so, but he looked sure death in the eye in the person of his father-in-law. Even before these events Saul wanted to kill him with his spear. Now, temporarily restored into the family of Saul he was once again calming the unsound king. In his latest campaign against the Philistines he struck them with a great blow, which stirred jealousy in old Saul who once again flung his spear at David, almost killing him.
David fled to his own quarters, probably in the hope that Saul will calm down. Yet, a few hours later there was a thundering bang on his door. It was a detachment of soldiers under the command of the king to kill him. But, under God’s providence, his wife let him out the window before she made it look that David was sick in bed. The soldiers reported back to Saul, who then ordered to them that David is sick in bed. Nothing would stop Saul, “Bring him and his bed!” He escaped, and God gave him protection.
Years later David wrote a Psalm based on this event:
I love you, Lord, my strength. The Lord is my rock, my fortress and my deliverer; my God is my rock, in whom I take refuge, my shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold. I called to the Lord, who is worthy of praise, and I have been saved from my enemies. (Psalm 18:1–3, NIV)
David fled to Samuel. His life was on the line. He was as good as dead. It was full-on war. But there was safety in the presence of God. There was peace. In one’s mind one can see how old Samuel buried him in his arms and assured him that he was the man after God’s heart who will lead the people as king. There, in the fellowship of other prophets they were safe in the protection which the Holy Spirit gave them.
I would be no surprised if, like in 1Samuel 10, when Saul himself met the prophets singing and making music to the glory of God, the group was singing about the grace and of the God of salvation. This was what Paul and Silas did in the dead hours of the night with their feet in stocks. We need to sing, and more so the Psalms, in our hours of trouble; its when we look away from our troubles to look unto the majesty of God, that we can find strength.
Saul—the embittered king-who-was
Saul was consumed by hatred, envy and bitterness. He would only rest if David was dead. He was living dangerously. Thinking he was calling the shots, he sent his men to Ramah to capture David. They couldn’t. They were under the spell of the Holy Spirit and couldn’t lay hands on David. Momentarily they were part of the prophets. Saul made another attempt, and another, but the same thing happened.
In his pride he went himself. He must have thought he was stronger than the Spirit of God. He was made a spectacle. Approaching the place where David and Samuel were, the Spirit overpowered him. The stripping of his robe is symbolically important: Samuel earlier tore a part off his robe and told him than God has taken the kingship from him; here the Sprit stripped him of everything. Disrobed and naked the Holy Spirit overpowered him and made a spectacle of him.
It is indeed a dreadful thing to fall in the hands of the living God.
Powerless Saul, instead of capturing David, was the captured and could not lift a finger against the anointed of the Lord.
It is a dangerous thing to oppose the anointed, Christ, the Son of God. The Pharisees tried by rejecting Him and calling Him Beelzebub. This was against the testimony of the Holy Spirit, and anyone who speaks against the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven—ever! (Matthew 12:32).
The anointed king, David, lived dangerously; our King Jesus entered a hostile word, all his life they plotted against Him, but He gave his life freely to save us from unrighteousness. All to give us peace.
Giving our lives to Him calls us to stand firmly as we side with Him in the cosmic war in which Satan seeks to destroy Christ’s church. We need to take up our cross and follow Him—and so we might even become enemy of family and good friends. He who is a friend of this world, is an enemy of Christ.
Reject the Anointed Christ and life is even more dangerous; the outcome is irreversible and the condemnation fearful.
Who is on the Lord’s side?
The king is dead; long live the King!
Sermon preached by Rev D. Rudi Schwartz on Sunday 29 October 2017