Sunday, March 8, 2015

The Story 11: The Problem of Time 2 Samuel 24.1-10

Time has a problem, in that it is a creation given for us to measure. It is a commodity to utilize, a resource that is far too often wasted. Time is relative. Some seem to have more time, and others have less. Yet we all have the same 24 hours in the day, the same 7 days in a week. I remember when I was in school, it took forever for the clock to strike 3.15. Yet now it seems hard to fathom that 19 years has passed since I met Carol, or that in five days, my youngest turns 3.  I am told that time flies even faster the more time that you spend.

And yet, there is an exception to how time flies. For example, you are waiting for something. You are waiting for an answer to a prayer that is pressing on you. You ask when. One of the biggest prayer concerns we had was having children. Several years passed before we started having children. Now hopefully we are finished. That is a new prayer I have. And though most of my friends from college have already sent their eldest off to college, or marriage, mine is still in Junior High.  But that is enough down this rabbit trail. Yet consider, what is your pressing concern for which you are waiting?

It causes me to wonder What David thought as he waited for the Lord. After all, Saul was rejected king, and David was anointed king. At some point in the history to come, David will ascend the throne of Israel after King Saul. We know that from 1 Samuel 13.1, and 2 Samuel 5.4, that both Saul and David were 30 years old when they became king. We know that David was most likely a teen, perhaps all of 14 or 15 when he fought Goliath, after he was anointed king. Saul had been king approximately 27 years when David slays Goliath and joins Saul’s court.

That is 15 years of waiting. During this time, David becomes the hero of Israel. He slays a man that made the mighty King Saul quake in fear. The women sing of Saul’s deeds, but then sing of how David is 10 times the man. It makes me wonder if Saul recounted Samuel’s words, “God is giving your kingdom to a man far better than you.”  Even Jonathan, the heir apparent became fast, dear friends with this hero.

It comes to a point that during a time that David is providing ambiance for the king, the king tried to kill David. David ends up on the run from the king. Here he is, waiting for God to establish him on the throne, and the king he’s vowed to serve, Saul, still the Lord’s anointed, is now his enemy.  Now we are to our text of 1 Samuel 24.1-10. Read with me: 

After Saul returned from pursuing the Philistines, he was told, “David is in the Desert of En Gedi.” So Saul took three thousand able young men from all Israel and set out to look for David and his men near the Crags of the Wild Goats. He came to the sheep pens along the way; a cave was there, and Saul went in to relieve himself. David and his men were far back in the cave. The men said, “This is the day the Lord spoke of when he said to you, ‘I will give your enemy into your hands for you to deal with as you wish.’ ” Then David crept up unnoticed and cut off a corner of Saul’s robe. Afterward, David was conscience-stricken for having cut off a corner of his robe. He said to his men, “The Lord forbid that I should do such a thing to my master, the Lord’s anointed, or lay my hand on him; for he is the anointed of the Lord.” With these words David sharply rebuked his men and did not allow them to attack Saul. And Saul left the cave and went his way. Then David went out of the cave and called out to Saul, “My lord the king!” When Saul looked behind him, David bowed down and prostrated himself with his face to the ground. He said to Saul, “Why do you listen when men say, ‘David is bent on harming you’? This day you have seen with your own eyes how the Lord delivered you into my hands in the cave. Some urged me to kill you, but I spared you; I said, ‘I will not lay my hand on my lord, because he is the Lord’s anointed.’

As you can see, our text still has David waiting to become king.  He will once again flee Saul and he will even go to the Philistines to hide out. Several more years will pass before Saul and even Jonathan will lose their lives in battle against the Philistines. 

Yet it is what he does while he is waiting for the Lord to fulfill His promise. And in case I didn’t emphasize it clearly, he waited. He was given Saul’s life twice. And 1 Sam 24.10, David said that it wasn’t his place to strike the Lord’s anointed. Since the Lord anointed Saul, the Lord will remove Saul. Even when an Amalekite brought news to David of Saul’s death, David rewarded him by having him struck down immediately.” By your own mouth, you condemn yourself.”

David took opportunity to serve and learn. As a teen, he wasn’t prepared to be Israel’s king. He wasn’t the son of a king like Josiah was who ascended the throne at the age of 8. No, David was a mere shepherd. Yet after his victory over Goliath, Saul kept David around. He became part of Saul’s court. He rose in rank as a commander and leader in the army.

And while fleeing Saul, David becomes a bit of a peacekeeper. His troops take to defending the people against raiding parties that were a constant annoyance to the Israelites. At one point, during the rescue of Ziklag, where David and his men and their families were residing, some of his men became too exhausted. He bid them to stay with the supplies while the rest of his army went after the Amalekites, which means Saul lied and didn’t quite destroy them as he claimed.  But to those who stayed with the supplies while the rest went after the raiding party, some of the trouble makers wanted to cut them from their share, just return families, but forfeit any recovered belongings. David showed grace, and said those who stayed with the supplies are equal to those who fought. This is not to mention his time becoming a statesman with his gift to elders. David grew and utilized the time as he waited.

So we come now to our take home. God has given us a wondrous promise. He has promised us that if we clothe ourselves in Jesus, accept Jesus’ sacrifice for our sins so that we can call God our heavenly papa, then we will have eternity with our Father. Someday, the trump will resound and the clouds will be rolled back like a scroll, and it will be well with our souls. Yet this promise seems far in keeping. We wonder when Jesus will return whereas the world believes “if” Jesus will return. The question becomes: how shall we conduct ourselves? 

Let me start off with a political statement. Jesus fulfilled the purpose of Israel. Israel was the physical shadow of the Church. I do not see that Scripture teaches that God will work through Israel to reveal further His plan or will for us. What greater revelation can Israel bestow after the Savior of the world, our Lord Jesus? 

Yet with news that is happening, such as the largest Islamic army in Africa has sworn allegiance yesterday to ISIS, thus making an even larger danger. Israel is one of those nations that is being threatened. As a statesman, Israel has been the USA’s biggest ally in the Middle East, and often, our only ally. As a Christian, David set the example, we should not curse or act against the Lord’s Anointed.  Let us pray for Israel, for the threats that they face, that even our Christian brethren face in the Middle East and now Africa. Let us pray that they come to accept the Messiah, as we pray for those nearer us to make the same decision.

Another take home here is with our time. It really is two-fold. Just as David prepared to lead Israel by first serving the king, and serving in the military, so we need to be about preparing. We need to be learning not just what the Word says, but also how to apply it, how to live it. We need to be in fellowship with one another. 

David didn’t flee alone, nor did he patrol alone. He had his mighty men. We are not alone either. God has given to each of us one another. We have times of fellowship, we have times to study. Yet we should also seek out each other apart from when the building is open. We should be encouraging one another, which leads us to the second part of this take home, and our final lesson.

Perhaps with the news, the Church of America may increase in her sense of urgency. It is unclear how long we have. Yet Jesus said that as long as it is still called today, we must be about the work of our Heavenly Father. We must be about the business of offering peace, grace, and love to those who don’t know Christ. We need to share the news that we have, to let people know that regardless of what is in a person’s past, or even present, God still wants them to draw near. Our Heavenly Father wants a relationship with them. 

This is why we were created. This is why Jesus died for us and then rose from the dead. And this is the only hope there is in the face of all that we see, in the darkness of this world, the senseless violence and selfishness. And He’s trusted this mission to you and me while we wait for His return. 

Let me conclude the message by finish reading the end of 2 Peter 3: 

In keeping with his promise we are looking forward to a new heaven and a new earth, where righteousness dwells. So then, dear friends, since you are looking forward to this, make every effort to be found spotless, blameless and at peace with him. Bear in mind that our Lord’s patience means salvation, just as our dear brother Paul also wrote you with the wisdom that God gave him. He writes the same way in all his letters, speaking in them of these matters. His letters contain some things that are hard to understand, which ignorant and unstable people distort, as they do the other Scriptures, to their own destruction. Therefore, dear friends, since you have been forewarned, be on your guard so that you may not be carried away by the error of the lawless and fall from your secure position. But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To him be glory both now and forever! Amen.

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