A Presbyterian Church following the Bible without Qualification

and the Lord Jesus Christ without Compromise by Faith      

I SAMUEL 16-20 


How singular is the presence of good and evil in I Samuel! A King is troubled by an evil spirit, twice hurls a spear at his commanding son-in-law, David, again at his own son, Jonathan, and both escaping, the one  aids the other in this prelude to the latter becoming king! Meanwhile, the King, his heart gnawed,  sought once more to kill David in his bed, but was thwarted by the love for David of his daughter, who tricked him.

 Last Sunday we saw the error of Saul, which was not limited to one instance, for there was more before his failure to carry out his commission. The second failure, as with many modern churches, included making peace with peril and receiving what was forbidden, as also a rush to realise his desires, without waiting on the Lord, so that he might keep His word. This we have seen. There was however an earlier case. The people were mobilised in readiness to meet the powerful people who threatened, the Philistines. Saul as King was in command, but subject to divine direction, since the nation was a theocracy by choice (cf. Joshua 24). Told by Samuel the prophet to wait till he should return to make a sacrifice to the Lord, Saul nevertheless became so troubled by events, by the threatening activism of the enemy, that he made that sacrifice himself.

In Israel, however, priest and prince are separate as are the judiciary and the executive in our own land. These adjustments, in fact, this regal malfeasance came from an unruly spirit; but as we considered last week, OBEDIENCE is better than sacrifice: we do not have to make the Gospel or the commands of Christ, or the ways of the Lord,  but to fulfil them.

We do not have to make a sacrifice of our own devising, for the sacrifice of Christ on the cross is the end of the line of sacrificing priests and sacrificial offerings, one for many, a ransom once for all (Hebrews 9-10). We SHOULD however rejoice in that sacrifice the more, since He who was offered, offered Himself, as must we, to Him for His service, be it never so enterprising when the time comes. We TRUST Him. Saul showed another way, multiplying sacrifice as he would!

This then we have found, that Saul's journey to presumption and unreliability had simply continued when it came to the Amalekites from this earlier beginning. This became a backward procession.

Indeed, a whole new avenue of failure and fall was opening before him, and we find his spirit troubled and yet blessed by the music of a young shepherd lad, David, who later appeared though a youth, in the famous reply to the challenge of the giant, Goliath. Saul had loved the gentle musician, strong in mind, body and spirit; but when David slew the giant and became a commander in the army, his praises from the people troubled Saul's envious ear. He became enemy to David, and sought to advance his own son, Jonathan,  in the kingdom, despite his own lost place. In fact, David had been anointed by divine command through Samuel, as coming King.

Saul took several steps as summarised below. In this, for David there was evil to face; for Saul, alas, it was evil to do.


FUTILE ...It moved

A) Against David:  Great Love Turned to Great Jealousy

When Saul first met the Goliath-conquering David, before his famous triumph, he loved him greatly (16:21); but afterwards, when popular notions concerning the young David gave to that young man a certain precedence, envy turned to evil and evil to an early death for the monarch. This however was not before an army of 3000 was set after his too popular son-in-law. This reminds us, Let brotherly love continue! Let meekness ally itself with strength, and this be from the Lord. There is no room for people wanting to be first, be they pope or parasite (Matthew 23:8ff., I Peter 5:1ff.).

B) Against Jonathan - Frustration Turned to Deadly Wrath

Jonathan's spiritual delight in David, following his fearless assault in the Lord's name, on a Goliath whom the army seemed to fear, to engage in mortal combat as challenged, led to a covenant of mutual protection. This was not only for each other, but for Jonathan's children to be. On David's continued absence, Saul grew suspicious, and when his son gave a plausible excuse, his sense of frustration at the lack of imperial future led to fire! even if the missile missed.

This reminds us of Galatians 5:14-15, in spiritual mode: You shall love your neighbour as yourself; but if you bite and devour one another, beware lest you consume one another! Amid the secular powers today, missiles are greater in devastating power; and nations being increasingly post-Christian in the West, and anti-Christian in many other places, such as lands of Islam, which denies the status and sacrificial redemption of Christ, many of its forces desiring Israel's obliteration: folly casts its eyes like a lurking lion. There is no peace that way, and a world minus Jesus Christ in so many of its powers, is predicably increasingly hell-bent, literally.

Where Christ is, let love continue, not casually astray, but in the power and grace of the Lord. 


NOT SO  FUTILE ... It moved

C) Against Saul - Talent Turned to Burning, Belligerence and Passion

The King reminds one of our contemporary world, as if he were becoming the Ahmadinejad of his Day, dangerous to his own forces and precipitate in action.

Alas, the more he exceeded with others, the less he succeeded with himself. Isaiah 10 has much to say on this theme. Actually both Iran and Iraq relate territorially to ancient Assyria, and one is down while the other rages. After Assyria is dealt with, Isaiah 11 goes on to show the virgin-born Messiah ruling on this earth with a judicious dynamic, and a just care and concern. Thus the word of God establishes not only principles, and procedures, but practical outcomes; for whether one seeks one's own will or the will of the Lord, it is the latter which IN THE END, will be accomplished. Saul failed in gaunt tyranny; as did Hussein, and as will Iran in its exploitative delusion against Israel. In each case, the Lord has made relevant prediction.



Action by Presence

The Protection ... This was

A) by the Love of Jonathan - even the armour becomes a Figure of Transfer
(I Samuel 18:3-4), as the king's son girds David with these, his own emblems of strength.

Just as Jonathan admired and found kinship in David, beyond his own family, so David is here a figure or type of Christ, and Jonathan of His Church.  Just as Jonathan gives his sword to David, and garment, so the Lord's people give their fealty to Christ, our flesh subjected to His power, our implements to His use and our reliance on Him. Then as members of His body, we find we work with His sword in our hands, not our own, and His garment covering us, that of His righteousness as in Isaiah 61:10 and Romans 5:17-18, as also in Ephesians 6.

B) by the Holy Spirit. This occurs as Saul is stopped, moved to prophesying with Samuel and his school of prophets (I Samuel 19:1,20-24)! This teaches us that not everyone talking in tongues is sound, and reliance on such phenomena is like walking on ice one millimetre thick.

C) by the Test and Warning of Jonathan (I Samuel 20). How prudent and practical were these plans, with what good will wrought, and with what care executed! Let us carry out Christian testimony with nothing less adroit!

D) by the Lord's Alerting him Twice (I Samuel 18:10, 19:10-11). A nimble body, a ready mind and a watchful eye are not enough, for in one second the thrust may come. David's Psalms show how greatly he relied on the Lord, His high tower, fortress, Rock and strength, protection and King (Psalm 17:6-7,18:1-3,27:1-2).

Consider how the case for David is covered in word, as in deed, and how we must tread in the spiritual warfare on this earth (Ephesians 6), with faith and reliance, with joy in the Lord's presence. 

I have called upon You, for You will hear me,
O God: incline Your ear to me, and hear my speech.

Show Your marvellous lovingkindness,
 O You who save by Your right hand
those who put their trust in You from those who rise up against them.

 I will love You, O LORD, my strength.
The LORD is my rock, and my fortress, and my deliverer;
my God, my strength, in whom I will trust;
my buckler, and the horn of my salvation, and my high tower. 
I will call upon the LORD, who is worthy to be praised:
so shall I be saved from mine enemies.

The LORD is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear?
the LORD is the strength of my life; of whom shall I be afraid? 
When the wicked, even my enemies and my foes,
came upon me to eat up my flesh, they stumbled and fell. 

Though a host should encamp against me, my heart shall not fear:
though war should rise against me, in this will I be confident: 
One thing have I desired of the LORD, that will I seek after;
that I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life,
to behold the beauty of the LORD, and to enquire in his temple.


Action by Absence

The Evacuation  

David had to leave, since dynamic divergence was apparent! He thus abstained

A) from needless mingling with Saul, given his intent.

B) from  being stricken by Saul, even in his bed via the love of his wife
(I Samuel 19:11-18).

C) even from joint meals (I Samuel 20:24ff., cf. I Corinthians 5:10-11).

D) from the court (20:28ff.).Let no one prefer denominational splendour  to truth!

In these things, there was an absence which enabled his continued presence, his life a present from the Lord, as is the case for each one of us; for He gave Himself for us, that we might give ourselves to Him, using His armour and His sword, for His kingdom (Ephesians 6).

David by being absent, was present where he should be, ready for works of obedience and devotion to come. A diamond misplaced can be used to sever much; but set in beauty, it can delight the eye, and fire the mind. Likewise let us who love the Lord and His word, absent ourselves from meals and presence in the fellowship of those who depart from the word of the Lord, and change it, molest it, or attack the preaching of truth, deforming or 'reforming' it,  as in I Timothy 6, II John 2, I Corinthians 5-6 and II Chronicles 19:1ff..,Romans 16:17ff..

Let none of us nod in assent to the Bible in principle,  yet rebelliously remaining present where our absence is required, be needlessly smitten! or worse, encourage others to do the same with equally evil results. Remember Saul's  javelin; fear God and follow HIM! Indeed, we need all of us who are believers in the LORD Jesus Christ, to separate ourselves NOT ONLY FROM fellowship with unbelievers and false brethren, whose word is their own, to alter or to refashion the Bible, but TO and FOR the faithful love of the Lord, to do His bidding without treachery or evil intent, in the offing. HIS fellowship more than atones for the loss.

There is enough to do for the kingdom without collusion with its enemies; there is enough to be done with His friends, without forsaking their stand for the Lord. In the love of the Lord, there is much to be wrought, all in reliance on the Lord, with mutual concern and reliability!