23rd October 2011
A song and a sermon.
Occasion: 1 Samuel 21. David being chased by Saul finds himself in Gath where he seeks help but is met by opposition and so he pretends to be mad in order to escape capture and certain disgrace at the hands of foreign kings. They refuse him help and send him away. David takes refuge in the cave of Adullam.
Verses 4 & 6 are references to his feelings at that time. David sought the Lord and was heard of God; delivered and saved by God.
Verse 7 speaks of the special way in which God protects His people. The angel of the Lord encamps around the fearful and delivers them.
Verse 10 takes a lesson from nature, lions may become weak and hungry but God’s people lack nothing. Great words from a man who is on the run and afraid.
Verse 11 begins the sermon. Listen to me and I will teach you. Lessons from experience are the best!
Verse 12-22are great lessons in theology or doctrine, all from this experience and vital for Christian life.
Verses 1-10: This is a great devotional lesson to all of us, learned in the pit as it were but vibrant and vital for all of God’s people. It is experiential and full of great truths concerning God and His people.
We need to keep our minds on where David is as he pens these words. He is worried, in danger and pretending to be mad in order to protect himself. He has sunk to the lowest a man can. He has given up dignity and self-respect and is dribbling in the dirt! That having been said David is still able to sing praise to his God. Some of his decisions may seem to be dubious to say the least but God is still his portion and his praise.
David encourages God’s people to praise God in difficult circumstances. In verses 1-3 he makes a vow to praise God whatever might happen. He will praise or extol Him, His praise will always be on his lips and the Lord will always be his boast. David then says let that be a lesson to all of God’s people who are in trouble and it shall be of great encouragement. He encourages God’s people to glorify and exalt the name of the Lord together. The importance of joining together in praise through our difficulties. David is concerned to encourage others to join him!
David’s testimony. He continues to encourage others in his song. After all that is what songs are supposed to do, we encourage one another as we sing Psalms and hymns and spiritual songs. David the writer of this great song is only too aware of the truth of this. Verses 4-6 tell of what David was doing whilst he was pretending to be a madman. This is where at times words and actions do not match up too well. A lesson that we ought to learn from this is not to be too judgemental against those who at times do things that are odd or out of character. They may just be protecting themselves in the only way that they feel they can in those circumstance just as David did here! Despite that David takes time out to explain what he was doing. He sought the Lord, he was delivered by the Lord, He called to the Lord and the Lord heard him! He was rescued or saved by the Lord whilst at the same time in hiding and in a mess! But look again at verse 5 he tells us that those who look to God are radiant and shameless!! The kings of Gath etc. saw David as a lunatic, they saw the unkempt appearance and the dishevelled look but God saw David a man close to His heart. How encouraging is that!
God’s special agent. God is with us has always been a great theme of the bible. He met with Adam and Eve in the Garden. He instructed the people in the construction firstly of the Tabernacle and then the Temple which would house the Ark of the Covenant which was a symbol that He gave to His people to signify His presence with them. We now have our own Immanuel the Lord Jesus Christ residing with us. But on occasions God comes especially close to His people in particular when they are in trouble and as David says in poetic form He in the form of the Angel of the Lord (who just happens to be the pre-incarnate Christ) encamps around His people and He delivers them. What great encouragement this is to us for whom our Saviour says He will never leave us or forsake us.
David’s plea. Verse 8-10 there is nothing better than a tasty meal. It might be sweet to the pallet or bitter to the tongue but it is a delight to the eater! That is the analogy that David has for us. He says I have set a great menu before you, it does not matter what your issues are just as you would heartily eat a magnificent meal taste what God has done for you. See that He is good. A meal is only good if it is eaten in the same way we can only know the goodness of God if we experience Him! Fear Him saints and we will lack nothing. Lions in all of their might will fade when hungry but seekers of God lack no good thing! Is your complete trust in this our God?
Verse 11 David makes a proposal to us. Listen and I will teach you. We need to listen in order to learn that is pretty basic. It is a pity that many of our educators no longer seem to believe it! But it is the subject that David proposes that is of great importance.
Verse 12-14 David addresses those who love life. There are not many who do not truly love life. I think that David showed his own love of life when he preferred to be thought of as insane rather than to die at the hands of foreign kings. Life to him was clearly precious. For all of us who long to see many good days David gives sound advice: Keep your tongue from evil, your lips from lies. Turn away from evil, do good and pursue peace. These are all of the attributes of the righteous man! David is saying seek righteousness above everything! Because:
God is looking: Verses 14-15: A great doctrinal lesson comes so easily. David says God is omniscient! But he says it in easily understandable words. God’s eyes are on you and His ears are attentive. God is seeing and hearing you even in the cave of Adullam! Wherever you are. You might sink to the bottom of the deepest sea or be on the mountaintop, God is always attentive to His people. He never leaves us or forsakes us. BUT:
God is angry: Verse 16: Another great truth, God is angry with those who do evil! It is important for us to remember that God hates sin and therefore sinners who remain unrepentant! A hard thing to come to terms with but that does not make it any the less true! Not only is He angry He has set His face against them and so He judges them! That is what it means when David says that God will cut off their memory!
God is protective: Verses 17-20: God judges the evil ones but protects the righteous. He hears their cry for help, He delivers them from trouble, He is close to the broken-hearted, He lifts up or saves those crushed in spirit. Whatever the troubles we have God delivers us from them all!! You might say that this is not my experience but we all have to remember that we are still on the road to our final deliverance! He even protects the bones of the righteous. It is at this point that we must stop and consider who he is speaking of here. This verse is used as evidence of Jesus the Righteous One who when He had died did not have His legs broken. This simply reminds us that when God deals with the righteous we are only counted righteous on account of Him who alone is truly righteous. It is His righteousness that is our shield. But finally:
God is ultimate judge: Verses 21-22: The wicked will die on account of their evil and will be condemned by God. He is their final judge and He never makes mistakes. There are no miscarriages of justice in either heaven or hell. All in either place are judged by God to be fit for that place. Hell is reserved for sinners and heaven for the righteous. Righteousness is only on account of God’s grace found in Jesus Christ and so all who trust in Him alone will be redeemed and find refuge. There is now no condemnation for those in Christ Jesus!!! This being true should cause us to do all that we can to rescue others by our witness!