LORD’S DAY MORNING SERVICE, 30 June 2019
Sermon Text: 1 Samuel 26:1-25
Rev. Dr. Kwangho Song
I. Be confident in God’s control over our enemy
II. Be confident in God’s control over our path
III. Be confident in God’s reward for the righteous
Every Christian is in between two standards, that is, of the Bible and of the world. You and I read the Bible and the newspapers; we pray, yet, often, if not always under the bottom of our mind, cross fingers. No matter how long a Christian has been a Jesus’ follower, no matter how deep someone’ faith in Christ is, we all are – as long as we breathe – under these double standards. Even the apostle Paul confessed that this was his case in Rom. 7:23 and following, saying, “I see in [me] another law waging war against the law of my mind ….”
The problem we all share is that we’re almost torn apart in a tug of war of these two standards. For example, our unbelieving friends constantly invite us to join their party lifestyle while church members encourage one another to not only attend weekly worship services, but also join Bible studies and fellowship gatherings. Whereas we get excited with our faith growing in us as we find God’s word making more sense in our life, our colleagues and the community we live in never get tired of pursuing us to adopt and condone the norms of the secular culture.
If we were torn apart evenly between these two standards, it would’ve been less problematic for us because we could simply repeat our life like a pendulum – I mean, we go in the world and are half stained with its standard, then, come back to God and wash off that stain and repeat this as our daily routine which seems not too bad. But, that’s not the usual case for most of us; our being torn apart by the two standards usually takes place unevenly. The world’s gravitation seems stronger than that of the other side; we’re pulled more toward the world’s side than God’s. Our unbelieving friends’ parties seem better and more attractive than Bible study meetings; a famous celebrity’s words seem more credible than the words of the Bible.
So, many Christians are exposed to a great danger, that is, a temptation of taking their residence in the world, following its standard, then, visit God’s side occasionally, taste God’s standard temporarily and soon forget about it as they return to their ordinary residence. This dangerous temptation is hard to defeat and that’s why some Christians compromise their faith with the worldly standard.
But we can never give in to this kind of temptation because the faith we’re commended to have and hold onto is not something easily compromised or discarded. Our faith is the confidence in God and Jesus engraved in our believing heart. Being engraved in our heart, this confidence is unmoveable, unalterable and uncancellable. No wonder why Heb. 11 describes faith as ‘the assurance’ and ‘conviction’ in the hearts of men and women of God. So, faith we have is our confidence in God, especially in God’s faithfulness toward us, His beloved. Like a child has full confidence in his father, our faith is our confidence in our Heavenly Father who unceasingly loves us now and forever.
That’s what we find in the story of David of 1 Sam. 26. David’s confidence in his God is unquestionable here. So, together with you, I’d like to examine David’s confidence in God and, by this examination, learn to continue imitating our Lord Jesus and being confident in our loving, gracious Heavenly Father.
I. BE CONFIDENT IN GOD’S CONTROL OVER OUR ENEMY
First of all, I’d like you to know that David is confident in God who is in control over all matters, even over the matters of those who seek to destroy him.
Let’s take a look at our text passage. Who are David’s enemies? Two groups of people – the Ziphites and Saul with his 3,000 soldiers. Who are these Ziphites? Simply, they are the residents of a place called Ziph. And they are, in fact, of the clan of Judah. Interestingly, they and David are of the same clan. The Ziphites and David are of the same family. Yet, the residents of Ziph reported to Saul whereabouts of David. And by doing that, they want David to be eliminated. This isn’t the only case they displayed their enmity toward David; they did the same earlier in ch. 23. What a merciless enemy they are – they hate their own brother! Not once, but twice have they sought David’s life. Also, the king Saul was another fierce enemy of David. As you know well, Saul was David’s father-in-law; David married to his daughter, Michal. But he has been trying to eliminate David many times. Unlike the enemies from outside, like the Philistines in the west and the Moabites in the east, these enemies from his own close family circle are relentless. How pitiful David is, being hemmed in by enemies from all directions! They unite in their intention and action; they trap David and squeeze in to destroy him.
Yet, David is confident in God, confident in God’s control over everything, let alone the intentions and deeds of all enemies of God’s people. Whatever they plot against God’s children, that plan has no warrant from the Ruler and Governor of the whole world who is also the Father to all His children. Being confident, David is calm, not frightened at all. He sent out spies in v. 4 and calmly examine the enemy’s intention. In war tactics, a distracted army is already defeated. But that’s not the case with David; instead, he is so calm in his mind and cool in his brain because of his confidence in God. Then, he comes near to the enemy’s camp. Not only that, but also he goes down to the centre of their camp, reaching out to the spear and the water jar of the king of the enemy! Surely and fully David is confidence in God and His power!
This reminds us of our Lord Jesus who came into the realm of Satan and walked in the midst of His enemies – who were His kinsmen according to His blood and flesh line – and plundered the devil’s house by healing the sick and casting demons out of people. He even raised the dead, disarming Satan’s deadliest weapon, death! In all these, the Lord Jesus was fully confident in His Father. The Pharisees and the Sadducees were furious against Him and plotted to kill Him many times, yet, our Lord showed us His full confidence in His Father. And His Father is ours too; as the Lord called Him ‘Abba, Father,’ we too have a full right to call Him as such.
As David was fully confident in His God and feared no one, we should also fear no one, knowing that no enemy of God could harm us because our Father in heaven is in full control. We should not be anxious about this godless generation’s attempt to shut us up or to close the doors of Christ church. Our God, our loving and gracious Father, is the Ruler of all things.
II. BE CONFIDENT IN GOD’S CONTROL OVER OUR PATH
David’s confidence in God is also based on another truth, that is, God cares for His people and have full control over their life. This is our second point to consider.
If you remember what happened to David in this chapter, it’ll become clear to your eyes. He and Abishai, who is in fact David’s nephew, go into Saul’s camp. Just two of them in the midst of a 3,000 men army. Can you imagine yourself being in this kind of situation? It would be the last scenario anyone ever wishes. Then, these two men, standing or kneeling beside Saul, are discussing what to do with the defenceless king. Abishai, one of David’s best men, affirms him that it is a God-given opportunity for David. So, he suggests, ‘let’s just nail him to the ground.’ Moreover, David doesn’t need to do it; he has come with one of his best warriors next to him who volunteers for the job! So, the advice David hears is this: ‘What a great opportunity – or even blessing – from God! By the way, God has already ordained you, David, for the kingship over Israel; everyone knows it. So, just kill the enemy and claim what should’ve been yours. Take it because it’s yours!’
Do you know that this is, in fact, what all worldly religions univocally teach? The message is this: ‘You can do it; you can stand on your feet. God [or whatever they name their deities] has given you these abilities; get up and take responsibility for your own destiny and your own soul.’ A well-known old proverb describes it well, that is, ‘God helps those who help themselves.’ It’s a ‘do-it-yourself’ religion; you make your own mind, seek your own destiny.
How often are we exposed to this religion of the world? Almost every day and every moment. This temptation comes from both within and without. ‘I want to be the executive officer of my own enterprise’ – that’s what everyone is tempted, and many take it and indulge in it. Judas Iscariot did it and so did the apostle Peter up to the point of watching the Lord’s suffering in the high priest’s court and weeping bitterly outside.
By the way, do you remember that Jesus our Lord faced this exactly same temptation? Right at the beginning of His ministry, our Lord was led up by the Holy Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. Having fasted for forty days, Satan appeared to Him and tested Him with three tests. All those three tests were about abandoning confidence in God and adopting the religion of this world – ‘Do-It-Yourself’ religion! And Jesus’ answers to the devil were exactly opposite to the teaching of that; He pointed out that (1) “man shall … live … by every word that comes from the mouth of God,” (2) “you shall not put the Lord your God to the test” and (3) “you shall worship the Lord your God and Him only shall you serve.” Our Lord’s message is to trust God and be confident in His plan for you and your life because He cares for you who are His beloved children.
Look at David’s response to Abishai’s words, “As the LORD [‘Yahweh,’ the covenant God] lives,” He will carry out His plan at His appointed time. In the meantime, He will never leave His children alone! ‘The zeal of the LORD of hosts will do’ what He spoke and promised. Revenging evil belongs to God because He who knows all things and has the full power will revenge for His beloved. So, we should leave what belongs to God and leave also to Him what He delights in, that is, leading and caring for the path of our life. David is dead serious in this faith and confidence in God. This world will never commend anyone to have this kind of confidence in God. After all, from the beginning, from the Garden of Eden, the world’s only religion was for all men to ‘be-like-God’ or ‘You-be-your-own-god.’
But, David trusts His God and is confident that God will surely care for him. So he walks away and again spares his enemy’s life, leaving it all to his trusted God. David has learned this through his experience with God. If you remember, he spared Saul’s life once in ch. 24. But at that time, he approached Saul, intending – at least in the beginning – to harm him. But soon, he regretted it. So, having learned that God always cares for His own beloved children, he rejects the offer of Abishai’s worldly religion and even corrects it. Then, he walks away in full confidence in his God.
Well, you and I are almost always tempted to take the lead in living our life. In the core of this temptation, we’re provoked to take control of our own life and leave God out of the picture. But, you and I should always remember our Father’s love, thus, never lose our confidence in Him whose only joy is to care for our life, leading us to His green pastures and beside still waters. This is not only His joy, but also His zeal. Hear what He says in Eze. 34 about this zeal of His heart toward His own: “Behold, I, I, Myself will search for My sheep and will seek them out. … I will rescue them … And I will bring them out …. And I will feed them.” It is right and safe for us to have full confidence in our loving Father!
III. BE CONFIDENT IN GOD’S REWARD FOR THE RIGHTEOUS
What comes next to our attention in David’s story is his confidence in God’s faithfulness, especially in His rewarding those who keep trusting the Lord. David seeks not any worldly rewards, but the reward God alone provides.
You know what David did after walking a safe distance away from Saul. He calls out Abner, and by calling him out, Saul the king. Then, he rebukes Abner and all others for their failure in defending their king. Comparing to that, David protests his innocence. Realising all this, Saul cries out, calling David as ‘my son’ and apologising for his foolishness in chasing after him. He then invites David to return to him and to his old fame in Saul’s court in the palace. David responds and talks about something different that the Lord God may reward him and deliver him from all difficulties. He’s saying, ‘Thanks, but no, king; I’m not interested in the worldly fame or rewards of gold and silver; I’m only interested in and eager for receiving the reward from God as He promised to give to all who trust and are confident in His salvation.’
So, David walks away, going his way, while Saul goes the opposite. We Christians have our inheritance in God alone through Jesus, whereas the unbelievers have their rewards here in this life. Losing this insight of faith, our eyes often focus on the rewards this world charms us with. If we received such an offer David heard, many of us could’ve easily accepted that and walked alongside Saul. But David walks the opposite way and goes farther into the wilderness about which we’ll read and meditate on next week.
My dear brothers and sisters in Jesus, let me close this message by assuring you of the blessing awaiting us all to receive and enjoy as we remain and grow in our confidence in our Heavenly Father. He is in full control over our enemies, both the devil and all who belong to him. Their plots and deeds against us will surely be nullified, and we’ll always be kept safe in our Father’s hand. Be confident in this.
Moreover, our gracious Father is in full control over our path; everything in your life is known to your Father, our Father God, and nothing will be done without His grant. You remember Jesus’ analogy for this that even a sparrow will not fall to the ground apart from our Father’s will and we’re so much precious than that, and even the hairs of our head are all numbered by our Father!
So, ask the Lord to make you strong in your confidence in Him. By this, you seek the Lord’s eternal, heavenly reward. ***