Today on Insight for Living with Chuck Swindoll. Friends impact our lives.
They are not neutral. If you run with good friends, you become a better person. You run with poor friends, you become worse. If you are a gossip, you usually run with gossips. You want to be wise, run with wise people, and you become wise. It's amazing how it rubs off. Be not deceived.
Evil company corrupts good morals. Friends, choose them wisely. When life spins out of control, there's nothing like a good friend who comes alongside you. Without saying much, their mere presence brings peace and healing.
Do you have a friend like that? Today on Insight for Living, Chuck Swindoll continues our study on the life of David. In this next message, we'll be reminded that friendship helps us push through our darkest hours, and wiser those who surround themselves with godly companions. We'll begin by reading the passage in 2 Samuel together, before moving ahead to Chuck's message called Friends in Need.
Ever since Cain and Abel, families as well as nations have been known for their civil wars, most of them with tragic endings. Well, so it was with David's family. David knew how to get along with God, but he never really translated that knowledge into his skills as a parent.
That can happen, by the way. So when the prophet Nathan related God's message to David that killing and murder would continually plague David for the rest of his life, well, that was only the beginning. It led to another reality when Absalom created a four-year strategy to take over the kingdom and murder his father. At this time, David needed his friends more than ever in his life. Our scripture reading sets up the story for how David's friends surrounded him with wise counsel and protection.
At times, they risked their own lives in order to retain David's honor as their king. I want to read this story from portions of 2 Samuel chapter 15 out of the message. Let's begin reading at 2 Samuel 15 one. As time went on, Absalom took to riding in a horse-drawn chariot with 50 men running in front of him.
Early each morning, he would take up his post beside the road at the city gate. When anyone showed up with a case to bring to the king for a decision, Absalom would call him over and say, Where do you hail from? And the answer would come, Your servant is from one of the tribes of Israel. Then Absalom would say, Look, you've got a strong case, but the king isn't going to listen to you. Then he'd say, Why doesn't someone make me a judge for this country?
Anybody with a case could bring it to me, and I'd settle things fair and square. Whenever someone would treat him with special honor, he'd shrug it off and treat him like an equal, making him feel important. Absalom did this to everyone who came to do business with the king and stole the hearts of everyone in Israel. After four years of this, Absalom spoke to the king. Let me go to Hebron to pay a vow that I made to God. Your servant made a vow when I was living in Geshur in Aram, saying, If God will bring me back to Jerusalem, I'll serve him with my life. The king said, Go with my blessing, and he got up and set off for Hebron. Then Absalom sent undercover agents to all the tribes of Israel with the message, When you hear the blast of the ram's horn trumpet, that's your signal. Shout, Absalom is king in Hebron. 200 men went with Absalom from Jerusalem, but they had been called together knowing nothing of the plot and made the trip innocently. While Absalom was offering sacrifices, he managed also to involve Ahithophel the Gilonite, David's advisor, calling him away from his hometown of Gilo. The conspiracy grew powerful, and Absalom's supporters multiplied. One came to David with the report, The whole country has taken up with Absalom. Up and out of here called David to all his servants who were with him in Jerusalem. We've got to run for our lives, or none of us will escape Absalom.
Hurry! He's about to pull the city down around our ears and slaughter us all. The king's servants said, Whatever our master the king says, we will do.
We're with you all the way. So the king and his entire household escaped on foot. The king left ten concubines behind to tend to the palace, and so they left step by step by step, and then paused at the last house as the whole army passed by him. All the Carathites, all the Pelethites, and the six hundred Gittites who had marched with him from Gath, went past. Now verse 23, The whole country was weeping in loud lament as all the people passed by.
As the king crossed the brook Kidron, the army headed for the road to the wilderness. Zadok was also there, the Levites with him, carrying God's chest of the covenant. They set the chest of God down, Abiathar standing by until all the people had evacuated the city. Then the king ordered Zadok, Take the chest back to the city. If I get back in God's good graces, he'll bring me back and show me where the chest has been set down.
But if he says, I'm not pleased with you, well, he can then do with me whatever he pleases. The king directed Zadok the priest. Here's the plan. Return to the city peacefully with Ahimaaz, your son, and Jonathan, Abiathar's son, with you. I'll wait at a spot in the wilderness across the river until I get word from you telling us what's up. So Zadok and Abiathar took the chest of God back to Jerusalem and placed it there while David went up the Mount of Olives weeping, head covered but barefooted.
And the whole army was with him, heads covered and weeping as they ascended. You're listening to Insight for Living. To dig deeper into the Bible with Chuck Swindoll, be sure to download his Searching the Scriptures studies by going to insight.org slash studies. And now the message from Chuck titled Friends in Need.
I'd like to talk with you about the importance of friendship, the very great value of having a few friends to help you in the hard times. Samuel Taylor Coleridge was a melancholic genius, born in Devonshire in England, the youngest in a family of 13. That's enough to make anybody melancholy. Born into a clergyman's home, he became early on obviously gifted and the critics of English literature will certainly agree that his contributions were virtually immeasurable. He was a man that had a tough life, victimized by rheumatism which he tried to solve with opium, became addicted, and was a lonely man, married but was not happily married, found a friend in a man named Wordsworth. If you love poetry, that name ought to ring a neat bell. And he and Wordsworth were closer, frankly, than he and his wife. In fact, unfortunately, he fell in love with Wordsworth's sister-in-law and his marriage.
It was already shaky, just about destroyed. He was an addict almost before he was 30 years old and though he died in his 60s, he died in a doctor's care. He never could get away from that habit trying to settle the voices down inside to give him purpose.
He of course contributed The Rime of the Ancient Mariner, magnificent piece, but I think among his best is a work that's never publicized. It's called Youth and Age. And in it is a line that says, not cared this body for wind or weather when youth and I lived in it together. But that's not the best line. The best line is friendship is a sheltering tree. I think of a friend and a few friends that make up friendship as great trees, leafy limbs that come around us and spread themselves over us and bring a shade from the sun, the blast of adversity, winter's wind of loneliness.
A great sheltering tree, that's a friend. You know, we have really been taught the wrong thing with regard to independence in the family of God. I was taught it for years. I was taught that if you are really mature, you don't need anybody else.
Just barrel on through life and it's the weak person that needs somebody. And I never could get around the fact that Jesus had 12. Three of them were intimate friends. Why did he have friends if what I was being taught was true? Well, the fact is I was not being taught the truth. In fact, I said to Cynthia recently, you know, honey, the way we were taught for so many years in this particular church, we've had to unlearn most everything. And maybe you've been taught that it's a sign of weakness and immaturity to have a friend or to need a friend.
That is not true. It's a sign of immaturity to think you don't need a friend, frankly. Friends are like sheltering trees.
Now I want to lay some thoughts on you before we even get into 2 Samuel 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, along that area in David's life. I want to share with you some of the overflow of thoughts I've gotten with regard to friends. In fact, the word friends or friendly or friendship appear, those words appear over a hundred times in the scriptures. God says a lot about friends.
And I'd like to tell you what I feel from scripture for those things are. First of all, friends are essential. They're not optional. There is no substitute at times in our lives for a friend, someone to care, to listen, to feel, to comfort, and to reprove even. Friends are essential. They're not optional. Second thing I'm discovering is friends must be cultivated.
They're not automatic. What does the Bible say? He who has friends must show himself friendly. You know, reach out. Samuel Johnson wrote this, if a man does not make new acquaintances as he advances through life, he will soon find himself left alone. One should keep his friendships in constant repair.
Good word, Sammy. Number three, friends impact our lives. Friends impact our lives.
They are not neutral. If you run with good friends, you become a better person. You run with poor friends, you become worse.
First Corinthians 15, 33, be not deceived, evil company corrupts good morals. Friends impact our lives. They're not neutral. Choose them carefully. Choose them wisely. If you are a gossip, you usually run with gossips. You are a rebel, you pick rebels, and you run with a rebel. Or if you run with a rebel, you become one. You want to be wise, run with wise people, and you become wise.
It's amazing how it rubs off. Now, the fourth thing, we'll take a few more minutes to develop. Friends come in four classifications, not one.
Let me give them to you. First of all, there are those that I would call acquaintances. That's what most of us are in this church.
Let's just face it. Acquaintances are people with whom we have spasmodic contact and superficial interaction, and we don't ask hard questions. We just skate with acquaintances. How are you? Fine, fine, great.
I'm really not, but I can't tell you that I'm really not. You're an acquaintance. Friendships come, first of all, in the big classification of acquaintances. Second, casual friends.
That's the next group. Next level down, we have casual friends. And with these people, we have more contact, we have common interests, we have more specific questions we're free to ask, and every once in a while, we will even seek the opinion of a person who is a casual friend.
Does that help a little? There are some people who are more than acquaintances, but they're not close. So there's a safe distance. However, it's not quite the skating that the acquaintance is. Here's the third, close friends. In close friendships, you have similar life goals, and you're free to ask some hard questions. You occasionally will do mutual projects together. They're the people you play handball with, people you play tennis with, people you lift weights with. They're people you do things with, you take vacations with on occasion. You are a little closer with these people, but they're not as close as the fourth, and that's intimate friends. Okay, hold on. These are intimate friends, people with whom we have regular contact, a deep commitment in mutual character development. We are not only open, but we anxiously await their counsel and their reproof.
We are free to criticize, free to correct, and absolutely free to embrace and encourage, because there is a built-in mutual understanding. Now let me illustrate a diagram as you go down those four levels. They're in the form of, first of all, a V, and if you want to put that somewhere on that sheet, great.
Put the word numbers at the top of that one and make the V look like this. If somebody came in right now, they'd wonder, what in the world are we doing in this place? Okay, numbers begin to be less and less and less and less the more you become intimate with an individual. In other words, you have many, many, many acquaintances, you have a number of casual friendships, you have less and yet perhaps a broader number of close friends, you have very, very few intimate friends.
Isn't that true? If you know what's good for you, you don't have many intimate friends. You can't trust that many people. You have a few, very few people, maybe one, two, sometime as many as three with whom you can absolutely unveil the truth of your life. I'm sorry to say sometime that individual is not your mate. Ideally it's true, but sometime it's not. Alright, you have less and less and numbers.
Now invert it, make it look like a rooftop in the snow country, sharp peak, okay? And put over that the word honesty. You are less honest with your acquaintance, a little more honest with your casual friends, a good deal more honest with your close friends and totally honest with your intimate friends. You see why I say there are not many of them? There are precious few people with whom you can be that honest.
Now let me tell you the tragedy. Some of you have no intimate friends. You're the loneliest people here in this study at this time. Not even one with whom you can be just out front honest, open with. And that's why life's so tough.
Now as we look at 2 Samuel chapter 15, we're going to find a man who had not only a sheltering tree, but he had a grove of them. And you won't know any of those names, or maybe the last name. But I challenge anybody here to say, yeah, I really know about that person. I've done a study on that life. Here we go now. Let me show you the situation in which David found himself.
Let me give you three things just briefly. First of all, personally, he was virtually destroyed by guilt. He had gone into Bathsheba and we've studied that. He had killed Bathsheba's husband, we've studied that. He had lived like a hypocrite for a year, we studied that. He lost his baby, studied that. His whole world began to crumble. So personally, he was really under the gun.
Psalm 51, Psalm 32, both tell us that's true. Second, domestically, his home was shattered. A son rapes a sister, a boy rebels and leads a conspiracy against the throne.
His name is Absalom. We're going to read about him in just a few minutes. And lo and behold, David is literally driven from the throne and he loses touch with family.
And that's the third, his political career is destroyed. The only people that can fully appreciate that are those of you that for some unfair and unknown reason were suddenly fired from a job you loved. And just out of a bolt out of the blue, boom, you're through. And the withdrawals are incredibly strong. You thought that being free from the work would give you some measure of relief but in fact you've lost a sense of identity. That's tough. That's David.
Personally and domestically and politically, he's hurting. Chapter 15, it came about after this that Absalom provided for himself a chariot and horses and 50 men as runners before him. You're going to read about the beginning of a conspiracy. Absalom used to rise early and stand beside the way to the gate. It happened that when any man had a suit to come to the king for judgment, Absalom would call to him and say, from what city are you? And he would say, your servant is from one of the tribes of Israel. And Absalom would say, see? See, your claims are good and right but no man listens to you on the part of the king. Moreover, he would say, oh, that one would appoint me judge in the land. Then every man who has any suit or cause could come to me and I would give him justice. Sounds like he's running for office, doesn't it?
That's exactly what he's doing, except his running is illegal. His daddy's on the throne and he's down there at the peripheral area when people come in with their suits and needing counsel. They bring these lawsuits with them and they come to seek the counsel of the king and Absalom says, wait a minute, you know there's nobody up there that cares for what you've got to say.
But I do. Oh, that someone would see the value of my wisdom and let me come into that office. I'd show you what justice is all about. Verse 5, and it happened that when a man came near to prostrate himself before him, he would put out his hand and take hold of him and kiss him. And in this manner, Absalom dealt with all Israel who came to the king for judgment. So Absalom stole away the hearts of the men of Israel.
It worked. And little by little, he etched away on that big rock of granite until finally he got a, he got a cave built. He got his people together and he says, I am your man. Verse 10, so Absalom sent spies throughout all the tribes of Israel saying, as soon as you hear the sound of the trumpet, then you shall say Absalom is king in Hebron.
That's exactly what they did. The blast of the trumpet and he was on his way. Verse 13, messenger came to David saying, well, this must have been hard to hear. The hearts of the men of Israel are with Absalom, David. And it's with a sigh that this good man, broken, fractured in his spirit, feeling like there's not a friend around, said to all his servants who are with him at Jerusalem, arise, let us flee.
He knew his son for otherwise none of us shall escape from Absalom. Go in haste. Hurry up now. Lest he overtake us quickly and bring down calamity on us and strike the city with the edge of the sword. He'll set this place on fire.
I know that boy. Teaching from the Old Testament book of 2 Samuel, Chuck Swindoll has only begun to set the stage. We encourage you to keep listening so you can hear how this dramatic story plays out. This is insight for living.
To learn more about this ministry, we invite you to visit us online at insight world.org. Well, today's message is number 20 in Chuck's comprehensive teaching series on David. With only four messages remaining in the study, I'll remind you that Chuck wrote a biography on David.
If you've intended to request a copy, why not reach out today while it's fresh on your mind? Many readers have told us that Chuck brings David's story to life, igniting their curiosity and engaging their minds. But the best part is that Chuck helps us understand how David's life, the highs and the lows, teaches us timeless lessons that we can apply right now.
To purchase a copy of the book called David, a man of passion and destiny, go to insight.org slash offer or call us. If you're listening in the United States, call 800-772-8888. Well, someone recently left a note that read, Chuck, I've listened to you since 1996 on the radio. I was 16 years old. As the years have passed by, your messages sink into my heart in such a gentle way, just as they did 26 years ago.
Thank you. Well, maybe you share these sentiments. Maybe you've been listening to Chuck's teaching for five, 10, 20 years or more.
If that's the case, would you be willing to do for someone else what someone once did for you? When you first started listening, you probably didn't have the means to give, but now it's different and maybe you're in a better place to give so that others can benefit from Chuck's teaching as well. Whatever the case, we know that God can use your contribution to help others draw closer to him. To give a donation today, call us. If you're listening in the United States, call 800-772-8888.
Online, go to insight.org slash donate. In March, 2023, Inside for Living Ministries is hosting an unforgettable journey to Israel. We plan to deepen your understanding of the Bible and draw you closer to God.
Here's Chuck Swindoll. For thousands of years, no place has been more meaningful to God's children than the land of Israel. The rugged landscape reminds us to find refuge in God alone. The fertile valleys invite us to follow our shepherd. Jerusalem's position at the very center of the world announces the good news of Christ to every nation. And now you can see Israel with Chuck Swindoll and Inside for Living Ministries, March 5th through the 16th, 2023. Every time I visited the Holy Land, I've returned home with a refreshed heart for God and a renewed vision for the world.
Really, I mean it every time. And so I want you to have the same life-changing experience. To learn more, go to insight.org slash events, or call this number, 1-888-447-0444.
Inside for Living Ministries Tour to Israel is paid for and made possible by only those who choose to attend. I'm Bill Meyer, urging you to join us again when Chuck Swindoll continues his highly practical message called Friends in Need, Thursday on Insight for Living. The preceding message, Friends in Need, was copyrighted in 1978, 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. This message is not meant to replace proper medical or therapeutic treatment advice.
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