Have you ever been elevated to a position and felt the scorn of jealousy by those who were overlooked? Today on Insight for Living, Chuck Swindoll continues a study he introduced yesterday. We're in the book of 1 Samuel, watching David's celebrated ascent to royalty. And with his newfound popularity, we can feel the scorn that came from his predecessor, Saul.
Let's pick up the study. Let's study now with David on the run. In 1 Samuel 19, David sought refuge in his wife. But even that cherished relationship suffered a painful betrayal. Chuck titled his message, Every Crutch Removed.
This crutch that God removes, his wife. So Michael let David down through a window and he went out, hear the words, and he fled and escaped. He is fleeing and he is escaping to get away from Saul.
But notice what happened afterwards. Saul asked the messengers to see David, saying, Bring him up to me on his bed, that I may put him to death. That's a rather direct command, isn't it? When the messengers entered, behold, the household idol was on the bed with the quilt of goat's hair at his head.
Now dad faces daughter and says, What's this all about? Saul said to Michael, Why have you deceived me like this and let my enemy go so that he has escaped? The living Bible says, Why have you deceived me and let my enemy escape? Saul demanded.
I had to, Michael replied. He threatened to kill me if I didn't help him. So his wife walked away from him.
And you do not find them living in harmony ever again. She turned on him just like she turned on her dad and was a snare to her father. So here is a wife he was leaning on and she fell away. She deceived him and turned Saul further against him. Second crutch is David's wife. Here's the third. Verse 18, David fled and escaped.
There it is again. He's still running, running through the hills, trying to find a place to lean. And he came to Samuel. So the third crutch would be the prophet Samuel, David's mentor, the man who had anointed him with oil, his close companion.
He came to Samuel at Ramah and told him all that Saul had done to him. And he and Samuel went and stayed in Naoth. By the way, I thought it was an interesting archeological dig that they did at Naoth some time ago. They found that in Naoth were the ancient remains of what we would call condominiums, houses that were built back to back, side to side, top to bottom.
You know, the kind of places where we live these days where you can get into the maze and they never can find you. And that's where he went. Samuel said, let's go to Naoth.
That's the kind of dwelling where they can't find us. And so he and Samuel went together. David and Samuel got to Naoth, but sure as the world. Verse 19, it was told Saul saying, David is at Naoth in Ramah. The next passage says that they sought him. Verse 1 of chapter 20, David fled from Naoth in Ramah and came to Jonathan.
You get the flow of it now? He had a position and he lost that crutch. He had a wife and he lost her. He had Samuel and Samuel was taken from him. Now he comes to his closest friend, Jonathan. We saw Jonathan last week in a little closer detail.
Tonight there's sort of a zoom lens on this very precious moment. And he said to Jonathan, now notice the emotional security of David is breaking down. He has never said these words before. What have I done? What is my iniquity? What is my sin before your father that he is seeking my life? Jonathan was Saul's son and David came to him and said, what have I done? Jonathan said to him, far from it. You shall not die. Verse 3, David vowed again saying, your father knows well that I have found favor in your sight. And he had said, do not let Jonathan know this lest he be grieved. Truly as the Lord lives and as your soul lives, there is hardly a step between me and death.
What a statement. Ever lived like that? I guess there are some veterans here this evening that have lived like that, that face death every day.
There's a man in our congregation who faced that kind of experience in the battles in Italy and in the internal areas of Europe and his head turned white overnight in battle. Now, maybe David began to gray, young in life. He said, I'm just a step between life and death. Some people can't cope.
Ralph Barton couldn't. Very wealthy cartoonist left this note pinned to his pillow and took his life this night. I have had few difficulties, many friends, great success. I have gone from wife to wife. I have run from house to house, from country to country.
And I'm fed up with inventing devices to fill up 24 hours of my day. It was last Sunday evening that I noticed, and maybe a few music lovers noticed, that Lloyd played a very beloved hymn for the offertory. The words go like this. Does Jesus care when my heart is pained Too deeply for mirth and song As the burdens press and the cares distress And the way grows weary and long Does Jesus care when my way is dark With a nameless dread and fear As the daylight fades into deep night shades Does he care enough to be near Does Jesus care when I've said goodbye To the dearest on earth, to me And my sad heart aches till it nearly breaks Is it ought to him, does he see Oh yes, he cares. I know he cares. His heart is touched with my grief.
When the days are weary and the long nights dreary I know my Savior cares. He lost his closest friend. Verse 42 of this chapter shows us he went in one direction and Jonathan in another. Chapter 20 is nothing more than a story of how they worked out a signal to know if his life was hanging by a thin thread or if he could find security back in Saul's army.
And the answer was no, he couldn't. 42, Jonathan said to David, Go in safety inasmuch as we have sworn to each other in the name of the Lord, saying, The Lord will be between me and you, and between my descendants and your descendants forever. This is sort of a final swan song. You go west, I'm going east. You go north, I'm going south, David.
We can't spend any more time together. And he arose and departed and Jonathan went into the city. Man, what a moment. God took away his position, God took away his wife, God took away his everything. And the final blow after Samuel, his mentor, and now his friend is gone, David finally loses self-respect.
That's the last crutch. Wow, it's chapter 21. It's sort of the lowest tide of a person's life. I'm going to show you something you just can't believe if you're not familiar with the life of David. Verse 8, 21, 8.
I'm sorry, I should have gotten verse 1, verse 21, 1. David came to Nob to Ahimelech the priest. And Ahimelech came trembling to meet David and said to him, Why are you alone and no one with you?
And through a series of events where David stretches the truth, he tells the story. And then finally, verse 10, David came, he arose and fled. Same words, he arose and fled, he escaped and fled from Saul and went to Achish, king of Gath. Gath? Where's Gath? That's where Goliath was, remember? That's the guy he killed who came from Gath. He was the champion of the Philistines. Gath was the headquarters, the Washington, D.C., the Oval Office of the Philistines. And here is David at Gath looking for the king. Was he conspicuous? Here is David walking into Gath of all places, still got the blood on him from Goliath's life and he finds the people looking at him.
Look at what they said. Hey, isn't this David, the king of the land? Verse 11, Don't they sing one of the top songs in a hit parade? Saul has slain his thousands and David his ten thousands? This is David of all people. What's he doing here?
He's obviously losing his head. David took these words to heart and greatly feared Achish, king of Gath. Now look at this verse.
You won't believe it. He disguised his sanity before them and acted insanely in their hands and scribbled on the doors of the gate and let his saliva run down into his beard. Oh, man, that's our guy.
That's our champion. Foaming at the mouth, scratching on the gate, looking like a madman as the foam dribbles into his beard. I'll tell you, it's the lowest moment of his life except perhaps when he lost his son, Absalom. I'll tell you, when your crutches are removed, you begin to break and then you begin to think differently and then you begin to replace those thoughts with strange thoughts and then you begin to feign the real truth. And finally, in the midst of all this tragedy, there is just a little note of comedy which we probably need right now.
Verse 14, Achish said to his servants, Behold, you see the man behaving as a madman. Why do you bring him to me? Do I lack madmen? I've got enough nuts in this court already. Don't bring me another one. Sounds like your office, doesn't it?
They hired him? We've got enough nuts as it is. Do I lack madmen that you have brought this one to act a madman in my presence?
Shall this one come into my hand? Get rid of him is what it implies. Hey, what a story, huh? Had a position and he lost it. Had a wife and he lost her. Had an aged counselor and mentor, he lost him. Had a friend and he lost him.
Had his respect and he lost him. That's where some of you are. I know who a few of you are, but I don't know who all of you are. I purposely saved a little bit of time at the end of this message to really apply it. There's no book that I have found more help in and read more often than The Pursuit of God by A.W.
Tozer. I think his finest chapter is The Blessedness of Possessing Nothing, which is another way of saying the blessedness of losing all crutches. Please do not let your mind wander as I read from a few portions of this book and then I drive this home with some well-driven nails. Before the Lord God made man on the earth, he first prepared for him by creating a world of useful and pleasant things for his sustenance and delight. In the Genesis account of the creation, these are simply called things.
They were made for man's uses, but they were meant always to be external to the man and subservient to him. In the deep heart of the man was a shrine, a shrine where none but God was worthy to come. Within man was God, without a thousand gifts which God had showered upon him. But sin introduced complications and has made those very gifts of God a potential source of ruin to the soul. Our woes began when God was forced out of his central shrine and things were allowed to enter. Within the human heart, things have taken over.
We would call them crutches. Men and women have now by nature no peace within their hearts, for God is crowned there no longer. But there in the moral dusk, stubborn and aggressive usurpers fight among themselves for first place on the throne. This ancient curse will not go out of us painlessly. The tough old miser within us will not lie down and die obedient to our command. He must be torn out of our heart like a plant from the soil. He must be extracted in agony and blood like a tooth from the jaw. He must be expelled from our souls by violence. As Christ expelled the money changers from the temple, and we shall need to steel ourselves against his piteous begging to stay. And to recognize it as springing out of self-pity one of the most reprehensible sins of the human heart.
Some of you are in the process of having the crutches removed like a tooth from the jaw. For some it is represented by a broken romance that had all the beautiful signs of reality, and now they're gone. The woman that you felt was God's choice, the man that you were sure was the one, now vanished.
And others might take that lightly, but it hurts deeply. A lot of pain, a lot of blood involved in having those things torn from us. For some of you, you have witnessed or are witnessing the demise of your marriage. The last possible thing on earth you thought would ever happen is happening. For some it has been the death of a dream. You have painted in your mind's eye that dream, and it has gone up in smoke.
Now, you have a choice. You can no longer lean on that or those people or those things. You've got to lean on God, and God only.
When will we learn He is the only one that can support us? We sang of it in the whole series of songs on the rock, but we keep putting our shafts in the sand, and we keep wondering why they fall and why we hurt so much when they fall. They belong in the rock, Christ. You don't have to go to the mission field to know this.
Teeth are extracted from jaws in America, just like they are in foreign soil. A couple of things that I want to share with you, but first I want to read how Tozer closes that chapter. Father, he prays, I want to know thee, but my coward heart fears to give up its toys. I cannot part with them without inward bleeding, and I do not try to hide from thee the terror of the parting. I come trembling, but I come. Please root from my heart all those things which I have cherished so long and which have become a very part of my living self so that thou mayest enter and dwell there without arrival. Then shalt thou make the place of thy feet glorious.
Then shall my heart have no need of the sun to shine in it, for thyself will be the light of it, and there shall be no night there in Jesus' name. The two things I want to leave with you are, there's nothing wrong with leaning if you lean on the Lord. You've got to lean. You can't take it alone. That's why you've got Christ.
You're built to be a leaner. You've got the shrine there, and no one can occupy the shrine like he can occupy it. That's why he says, casting all your care upon me, trust in me with all your heart, and lean not to your own crutches.
Nothing wrong with leaning if you're leaning on the Lord. And second, now get this, being stripped of all substitutes is the most painful experience on earth. That's quite a statement, but I will not retract it. There is nothing more painful than being stripped of the substitutes, the toys of the heart. A young man after the first evening service walked up to me, young executive, and said, I guess what you're saying, Chuck, is we're to relieve ourselves of him before he has to take him from us.
And I said, yeah, that's right. Don't make an idol out of your mate. Make an idol out of the only one that is the living Lord.
Don't make an idol out of your position. The Lord is the idol of our lives. One by one, God took them from me. All the things I valued most till I was empty-handed, every glittering toy was lost. I walked earth's highways grieving in my rags and poverty until I heard his voice inviting, lift those empty hands to me. I turned my hands toward heaven, and he filled them with a store of his own transcendent riches till they could contain no more.
And at last, I comprehended with my stupid mind and dull that God could not pour his riches into hands already full. May God give you real grace as the crutches are taken and as he becomes enshrined in your heart. Our God, our Father, our friend, companion, our counselor, I represent in this prayer a host of hurting hearts, and the blows have been rapid for some lately. And therefore, I pray on their behalf that you will help them know the sufficiency of yourself. And you would in an incredible and beautiful way calm the troubled, bleeding hearts as you again become enshrined in that throne that bears your name.
Forgive us, forgive us for putting other people and things there, where only you are to dwell for Christ's sake. Be sure to visit us online at insightworld.org. Right now, I'm pleased to remind you that Chuck wrote a biography that parallels this teaching series on David, and it's available right now by giving us a call or visiting our online store.
If you happen to live near Frisco, Texas, you can also stop by our bookshop on the corner of Parkwood and Lebanon and pick up a copy right away. The biography on David includes 24 chapters, including one that features today's topic, and it's nearly 300 pages in length. To purchase Chuck's biography on David, call us.
If you're listening in the United States, call 800-772-8888, or go online to insight.org slash offer. The title is David, a Man of Passion and Destiny. Here at Insight for Living, we've been surprised, just as you have, by the complicated international tensions that escalated this year. And yet, even as we learn of those horrific tragedies, we're learning to lean on God, to step out in faith, and to follow the mandate that Jesus gave us long ago, to go and make disciples of all the nations.
Here's Chuck. I've discovered a strange statement in Scripture that summarizes the Christian life. Listen to these words from Hebrews 11, verse 8. There isn't a Christian listening to my voice who hasn't walked that path, leaving the familiar for the unknown, obeying yet not really understanding, going yet not knowing. If you had asked me where God was taking Cynthia and me as we began this ministry, I could never have told you. I didn't even have a clue.
We didn't have a brilliant strategy or some master plan. It all started so insignificantly small. In fact, our mailing list could fit into a shoebox right under our bed. Today, however, Insight for Living reaches into places I will never step foot. All around the world, at Insight for Living, we're still going yet not knowing. Every single day, we take another step of faith and we never walk alone.
You see, that's where you fit in. Will you come alongside us today with a generous donation as we follow Jesus' final command? Go and make disciples of all the nations. Teach these new disciples to obey all the commands I have given you. This month, more than most, your gift really matters. Our financial year closes in a few weeks, and we still have a long way to go to meet our budget goals. So your generous donation before the 30th of June will make all the difference, believe me. God refers to His children as strangers and pilgrims.
How true. We're people on the move, unencumbered, ready to roll, wherever and whenever God leads. Together, let's step forward in faith, going yet not knowing.
Thanks Chuck. As you're prepared to join us in making disciples of all the nations, we invite you to give generously toward this worthy cause. If you're listening in the United States, call 800-772-8888. That's 800-772-8888. Or you can give online at insight.org slash donate. I'm Bill Meyer. Tomorrow, Chuck Swindoll describes the moment when David escaped his enemy and hunkered down in a cave.
Listen Thursday to Insight for Living. The preceding message, Every Crutch Removed, was copyrighted in 1977, 1988, 1997, and 2009. And the sound recording was copyrighted in 2009 by Charles R. Swindoll, Inc. All rights are reserved worldwide. Duplication of copyrighted material for commercial use is strictly prohibited.
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