May 23, 2021
This morning I’m going to break all my normal preaching rules and my typical way of doing things. I’m going to give you 7 point sermon. Don’t worry we won’t be here all day. Each point will be a minute or two or three at most. The reason for the unruliness of this one is that there’s a lot that I think can be said on this passage, I just for whatever reason couldn’t find a way to synthesize things more neatly. So yes that means the bad news about this morning is that I have a 7 point sermon, the good news is that if you don’t like a point or find yourself drifting off, don’t worry, the next point will be here before you know it. This is what I understand is partly so great about the block system at Montana Western. If you like a class, great, it’s a great class, and if you don’t, no worries, they’re only 4 weeks long, it’ll be over before you know it ☺ That might be a bit of what you feel today. So hang in there, and we’ll rifle through these as we continue our series, now in the third week in a series on the life of King David.
Point #1: The Context
So let’s get started. Here’s point 1, let’s set the context and briefly summarize what’s happened so far. The book of 1 Samuel, where our passages have come from these past couple weeks, begins during a time in Israel’s history where the people of God didn’t have a king. And though God did not want to give them a king at that time, he did so anyway, raising up Saul to be Israel’s new king. And yet, as the years go by, Saul proves himself to be unfit to serve as king. He lacks character, integrity, and above all doesn’t trust or obey God as he ought. God tells Samuel that he regrets anointing Saul to be king and years later says to Samuel, a key leader in Israel at the time and who the book is named after, that it’s time for a new king and as we saw a couple weeks ago, a little shepherd boy, the unexpected pick, the youngest of 8 sons, was chosen by God to be King, for David we’re told was a man after God’s own heart.
Now David’s anointing was unbeknownst to King Saul, he doesn’t know just yet that he’s effectively a lame duck king. Sometime shortly thereafter the Israelites are faced with a challenge, they need someone to battle the champion, a dominant warrior from Philistine, a man named Goliath, this is the story we looked at last week. And as Goliath challenges the Israelites to this fight, here are the stakes: Whoever wins the duel and defeats the other, wins the war for their people and will plunder the other’s camp. And in a surprising turn of events, David, little shepherd boy that he is, volunteers himself to fight Goliath, and in what was perceived as a shocking upset, David defeats Goliath with a sling and stone. And for the people of Israel such a victory is of course reason to celebrate, and that brings us to our passage for today. It’s the fallout or aftermath of the David and Goliath story. That’s point #1. The context. Here’s point #2.
Point #2: Insecurity keeps us from celebrating another’s success.
For the Israelites it’s time to celebrate. Their enemy has been defeated and so that’s exactly what the people do. We’re told that …
6 As they were coming home, the women came out of all the towns of Israel, singing and dancing, to meet King Saul, with tambourines, with songs of joy, and with musical instruments.
The Israelite army, King Saul, David, all of them arrive home and find a raucous celebration. Women cheering, dancing, singing in the streets. This is like your hometown team arriving after winning the Super Bowl and then some.
Guys, imagine the scene … wouldn’t this be amazing to be celebrated and cheered like this, by a group of women no less? Sorry, let me try that again, guys, before we became happily married, wouldn’t it have been amazing to be celebrated and cheered by a group of women this?
Everybody would be celebrating - except for Saul. Saul is burning with anger, there’s an inner turmoil and disgust within him. He is not able to celebrate the moment because the celebration’s not solely about him. He can’t stand the fact that David is being celebrated as well.
There’s a professional basketball player by the name of Steph Curry, he’s one of the very best to play the game. A few years ago, Curry got injured and had to sit out a few playoff games. And this is always one of the most fascinating subplots that happens in sports - when a star athlete goes down – does he and can he celebrate other people’s success? Is he even interested in the game? Well, here’s what happened.
Steph Curry is sitting on the bench and his team is blowing the other team out, so badly that the other team has to call timeout. And what is Steph doing? He’s smiling, laughing, high fiving, celebrating his teammates, best of all, he’s dancing. That’s a person who is secure in who they are in Christ (yes, Steph is a Christian).
When our identity in Christ is secure, when we know who we are in Christ, when we hear the words of our Father who says, “This is my son, my daughter, whom I love, with whom I am well pleased” we can rest in the assurance and love of our Heavenly Father.
Pastor Tim Keller calls this the freedom of self-forgetfulness. A great phrase. There’s a freedom and joy found when we don’t make everything about us.
that’s the freedom of self forgetfulness.
Friends, are we able to joyfully celebrate other people’s gifts and success?
At work, are you able to celebrate when others have more success than you and say glory be to God?
Parents, are you able to celebrate other moms and dads when they have better parenting moments than you and say glory be to God?
As a church are we able to celebrate when other churches celebrate growth in membership, in baptisms, in attendance?
Are we able to celebrate another’s success? Saul was so insecure, so threatened by another’s success that he couldn’t celebrate and dance in the streets. Steph Curry though? He’d be cutting up a rug, no doubt about it. How about you?
Point #3: Jealousy distracts and takes us off our mission.
Saul, as you have likely picked up on, is now deeply jealous of David. Saul upon hearing the women’s singing, says:
“They have ascribed to David ten thousands, and to me they have ascribed thousands; what more can he have but the kingdom?” 9 So Saul eyed David from that day on.
Now when it says, Saul eyed David from that day on, context clues alone suggest, Saul eyeing David, is more than just simply making eye contact with him. Rather it’s a jealous look, a look of suspicion. Though David has done just about everything right up to this point and nothing wrong, Saul sees David as a threat.
Even more, it’s distracted Saul from his ability and focus to serve as King.
Pastor Chuck Swindoll says that, “Jealousy is a deadly sin. Operating in that radius of fear, worry and paranoia, Saul’s great goal in life became twisted. Instead of leading Israel onto bigger and better things, he focused on making David’s life miserable.”
Exactly. Jealousy distracts and takes us off our mission. Saul should have focused on the welfare of the people of Israel. Instead, he was focused on his own welfare and preservation and eliminating what he perceived as his greatest threat.
Friends, is there someone that you’re jealous of, and if so, is it distracting you from what God has given you, where God has placed you or what God has called you to? Jealousy, not only hurts us, but it also distracts and takes us off our mission.
Point #4: Don’t let success go to your head.
David is a great example of this. Notice what David is up to after defeating Goliath:
10 The next day an evil spirit from God rushed upon Saul, and he raved within his house, while David was playing the lyre, as he did day by day.
Think about this, this is rather significant. David defeats Goliath, an incredible victory for the people of Israel, finds immediate fame and garners incredible praise, and yet, goes back to his day job of playing the lyre, an instrument of its day.
In between the stories of David being anointed king and defeating Goliath, David, who doubles as not only shepherd and warrior, but also musician, is hired to come to the King’s court and play the lyre. Saul at the time was being tormented by an evil spirit (more this evil spirit later) and when David picked up the lyre, Saul would get relief, feel better, and the spirit would leave him.
And I love this tiny detail. That David, upon his success and triumph, didn’t ask for a job promotion or to be given more responsibility, but simply went back to his day job. It’s hard to even compare this to anything. This would be like being in charge of lights and props in the school play, then taking on the lead role for a night because the lead is sick, absolutely crushing it, people throwing roses on the stage, and then going back to lights and props the next night.
It’s been said that the temptation with success and failure is to let success go to your head and to let failure go to your heart.
David, in his success, didn’t let it go to his head, it didn’t inflate his ego or self-worth. David stayed humble. I love that about David.
Friends, do you ever let success go your head? Let’s take a page from David on this one, who was in many ways the antithesis of King Saul. David was faithful, courageous, bold and successful, but didn’t seek his own promotion or acclaim, but rather was a man after God’s own heart.
Point #5: Even in seasons of faithfulness, your life may get harder.
Here we’re looking beyond our immediate passage and looking at big picture here. Building on the last point, it’s not simply that David after defeating Goliath went back to his day job and lived happily ever after, but rather his life actually got much, much harder.
And oddly enough, the very act of bravery in defeating Goliath that made David an overnight hero, also made him a fugitive on the run. Saul as we read, wants to see to it that David becomes a dead man.
Saul, threw the spear at David twice, in an attempt to murder him. And then when that failed, Saul it says, removed him from his presence, and made him a commander of a thousand, leading the army.
This was not Saul’s way of giving David a promotion, rather it was Saul’s attempt to put David in harm’s way, to see to it that he would die in battle, to get the blood off of his hands.
And yet, when that still doesn’t work, much of the rest of 1 Samuel chronicles Saul chasing David into the countryside, in a continued attempt to kill David.
David is now a hero, and also a fugitive. Faithfulness and success in one season is no guarantee that will always be easy. In fact, your life may get harder.
Friends, you may be doing everything right, you might be faithful in every way, at work, at home, in your personal life, faithful in your actions and speech, faithful in your walk with the Lord and yet your life may be getting harder, not easier. That could very well be the case.
G.K. Chesterfield wrote, “The Christian ideal has not been tried and found wanting; it has been found difficult and left untried.”
Exactly, if life is getting harder, if you’re neck deep in our responsibilities, if you feel like you can’t catch a break, you may not be doing anything wrong, it may just be the season you’re in.
Point #6: God does not tempt us to sin.
There’s one part of this passage that probably makes us a little uncomfortable, or at least ought to put a rock in our shoe. Notice the progression and development of Saul’s anger and jealousy and attempted murder.
We learn that Saul is angry, that he is jealous, and yet before committing murder, it says, “That the next day an evil spirit from God rushed upon Saul.”
Which is a bit unnerving, right? Is this to say that God caused Saul to sin, that God made Saul commit murder?
Thankfully, the answer is no. God wasn’t tempting Saul with the evil spirit; he sent it as an act of judgment in response to Saul’s continuous and stubborn rebellion. Also keep in mind, few months ago when we were studying the book of James, James told us that 13 No one, when tempted, should say, “I am being tempted by God.
God does not tempt us to sin. Sometimes God does bring trials and challenges before us that test our faith, but yet he does not tempt us into sin. An example here might be when someone loses a job. We can respond to it in different ways, as a test or temptation. As a test, we might reflect on how God might use the challenging situation for good, asking “God, what are you trying to teach me about you or about me through this trial?” Or maybe the loss of a job leads a person to bitterness and anger and a slew of false accusations, in that case it’s a trial that leads to temptation. The same dynamic was true with Saul. He was faced with a trial. How would he respond?
Here I’m reminded of a somewhat similar story in scripture, when God once told Cain, when he was angry with God and his brother Abel, “sin is lurking at the door; its desire is for you, but you must master it.”
If and when we experiencing sinful desires, we ought to stop it right in its tracks, through God’s Word, prayer and Christian community around us.
God does not tempt us to sin.
Point #7: The promise of the Holy Spirit
David’s rise happens seemingly in tandem with Saul’s unraveling. It’s not simply that David made good choices and Saul made bad ones, though that’s partly true. There’s also something else going on:
and the spirit of the Lord came mightily upon David from that da forward … 14 Now the spirit of the Lord departed from Saul
Today is Pentecost Sunday. A few weeks ago we celebrated Easter, when Jesus rose from the grave. He then spent 40 days with his disciples. He gave his disciples this promise before he ascended into heaven, that they would not carry forward God’s mission and ministry on their own, and that they would receive another comforter, another advocate, another guide, the Holy Spirit. On Pentecost, we celebrate the unleashing of the Holy Spirit on the world and the empowering of the church to reach the world with the gospel.
All of this was a fulfillment of Jesus’s words in the Great Commission, when he said, “And surely I am with you always to the very end of the age.”
Comforter, Advocate, Helper, Counselor, Encourager. If you are in Christ, if you are a Christian, you two are filled with the power and presence of the Holy Spirit.
Though we may not be like David in all the ways we’d like, we as followers of Jesus certainly have this in common with him, we are filled with the Holy Spirit. And that’s good news ☺