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Finding Honey in Life's Bitter Waters

Beacon Baptist / Gregory N. Barkman
The Truth Network Radio
January 30, 2023 1:00 am

Finding Honey in Life's Bitter Waters

Beacon Baptist / Gregory N. Barkman

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January 30, 2023 1:00 am

Remember, one day, you too shall die. Pastor Hunter Strength draws encouragement about death from the narrative of David and Goliath.


It's a privilege to be able to be back with you again tonight and to speak with you out of this text in 1 Samuel chapter number 17. When I was getting ready to come up here earlier, Brother Allred asked me if I would be a little bit more gentle than the text this morning. So I told him I would do my best to be as soft as possible to suit him today. No, we were looking in the text that is greatly encouraging, though the topic at which I find applying to our lives may not be an enjoyable topic to discuss.

The richness that we find in there I believe would be extremely encouraging to us. As we're going through this month and recognizing those who are involved in ministries being over youth here, I am thankful for those who are involved in youth, for the parents that give me the privilege of speaking with your teens week in and week out. I thank you for Cody and Amy Joy Bryner and their faithfulness to us. I thank you. Cody is my right hand guy.

So whenever I go down and I'm sick, Cody is usually the pinch hitter there. So I appreciate him and his help that he gives me and our pianists that always come in and help us, Ms. Latour and others who come in and out and play with us and for us week in and week out. I'm thankful for you all. We're here this week, this night in 1 Samuel 17. And as we consider this passage of scripture, I want to draw your attention to John Bunyan's little book, The Pilgrim's Progress, that he wrote as he was sitting in a prison some many years ago. And it's in The Pilgrim's Progress that we find our hearts immensely tied to these characters, at least if you were like I was when reading it.

That is how I found that experience to be. And in The Pilgrim's Progress, Christian and hopeful have finally made it closer to the kingdom than ever before. However, one more trial lays before them. And it is the fact that they have to cross the great river if they are going to make it into the kingdom. Questioning whether or not there was some other way, they asked some passersby whether or not this is the only way. And they were assured that this is the only means by which they could enter the kingdom. And so they asked whether there are shallow spots within this river.

And they are told this. You shall find it deeper or shallower as you believe in the king of the palace. It is with this in mind that they step forward into this river. And there we find Christian crying out.

And my heart was stirred deeply as I read of Christian crying out. I sink in deep waters. The billows go over my head. All his waves go over me. To which hopeful replies, be of good cheer my brother.

I fill the bottom. And it is good. Through this trial of death, Christian struggles deeply until hopeful said, be of good cheer. Christ maketh the whole. And with that, Christian breaks out with a loud voice. Oh, I see him again. And he tells me, when thou passest through the waters, I will be with thee.

And through the rivers, they shall not overflow thee. I was 19 years old when I preached my first funeral. It was my mother's dad or my papa. And unfortunately, I've had the privilege of preaching many funerals since then. Among them are the funerals of two grandparents, counting my mother's dad, and a great-grandparent in the last few years. And on the subject of death, I can remember becoming aware of the thought that I am a finite being with limited time that is remaining on this earth sometime during high school.

However, the busyness of life allowed it to remain tucked away nicely and neatly, where it wouldn't disturb me too deeply. It was not that I was ignorant of biology. I knew that all people died, and I was included in that number. New statistics have been released.

One out of every one people die. I was aware of those numbers. But it wasn't until the loss of my mother's mother, or nanny as I called her, that the weight of it knocked this neatly stored box off of that dusty shelf in the back of my mind. And the spilling of these contents plagued the totality of my thoughts. It plagued my emotions, my thoughts, everything. It really manipulated who I was as a person.

This was not a bad thing, however. It is Solomon, after all, who writes in Ecclesiastes 7 that it is better to go to funerals than it is to go to parties because death is the end of all men, and the living should take it to heart. Well, I did. I did take it to heart. And again, it's not that I was ignorant of the fact that one day I would be leaving this world to stand before the Lord.

Rather, it was the jolting fact that I had not pictured the reality of it happening to me. And this churned me deeply in my mind, the brevity of it all, as James alludes to it, that life is but a vapor. When I preached my grandfather's funeral, another pastor whom he won to Christ said that it was the witnessing of my grandfather, which the Lord used to bring him to Christ, and he would bring up James, and when they were working together in the winter, he would breathe out that fog and that mist and say, this is the brevity of our lives here upon the earth.

He pondered that, the brevity of it all. The ferocity in which the efforts of my hands will be so easily erased from the remembrance of this world that my life is but a vapor. It struck me and it stirred me deeply as though my emotions were that of a stormy sea. Though I have obviously not found myself swimming in death's dark waters, it is almost as though within my conscience during this time I could cry out with Christian that I too am being swallowed up in the fall of life's darkest waters. Well, if that is you today, if that is a thought that has plagued you, I pray that these truths that I might preach from this passage of Scripture would minister to your heart and that I, as Brother Hopeful to Brother Christian, might minister to you as this hangs out here. If you are looking for something to title this, I would say this is Finding Honey in Life's Most Bitter Waters, or if you're wanting to be a little bit more Latin, we can say Memento Mori, Remember One Day You Will Die.

Well, if that is you today, if you share in these feelings with me, I pray that this might be an encouragement to you as we look here in 1 Samuel 17. It is here that we find a pesky little brother wandering into the heat of battle and taking down the bully and the terror of the town, and I want to break this text up into three different pieces, and we're going to do it like so. First, we will see a dismal reality. Second, we are going to find a delivering champion, and then lastly for application, we will find some contemplations for discouraged souls.

First, a dismal reality. In 2016, NBC released a story that a company called Alcor, it's based in Arizona, has made offers that they will freeze your body when you die for $200,000. If you were worried about your finances, they would be pleased to sever your head and freeze that for $80,000. And the purpose of that is that should science develop itself to where they can reanimate your body and bring you back to life, you'll be the first one who can get access to that.

Interestingly enough, legally, they are not bound at all to keep that for the people who have given them such business are not a problem anymore. At the time of that article, 147 people had had their bodies frozen in that facility in Arizona. The reality is that death is brutal. It's a brutal, unforgiving, towering tyrant that strikes fear into the hearts of those whom it stares in the face. And as we look here in 1 Samuel 17, we will find the armies of the living God hiding in fear as the giant Goliath plagues them with fear, and we find it here in verse 1.

Now, I haven't read it yet, so we're going to look there together. In verse 1, we will find that the Philistines have come up over the Agelon Valley in chapter 13, verse 23, and in Samson's time in Judges 13 through 16, they had come up through the Sorek Valley. Now, they were coming up the Valley of Elah, and they've already controlled Soko and Azekah, and if they get much further up the valley, they could come up the ridge, and they could now have access to Bethlehem, Hebron, and to Saul's capital, Gibeah.

The situation here is desperate for Saul and his army. Verse number 1, Now the Philistines gathered their armies together for battle, and were gathered at Soko, which belonged to Judah. They encamped between Soko and Azekah in Ephes-damim. Now, we find them here. They are camping out through this place. Verse 2 tells us, And Saul and the men of Israel were gathered together, and they encamped in the Valley of Elah.

So we find this situation here. These men are terrified. There is nowhere for them to go. If they give up, their hometowns, with all of their wives and their children and their farms, are going to face the totality of the wrath of the enemy. But if they fight, well, fear has so gripped them that they believe that they will face certain death. There is no man to stand up against this massive Goliath, and as he steps out in verse number 8, he calls for a man to come and fight me. One on one. I won't call the armies of the Philistines to come and to pounce upon you.

It's a one on one fight. We can find that in verse number 8 here. Then he stood and cried out to the armies of Israel, and said to them, Why have you come out to line up for battle? Am I not a Philistine, and you the servants of Saul, choose a man for yourselves, and let him come down to me. Verse number 8, what we're finding here is a battle of the representatives. If Israel's representative loses, it's over for the nation.

If the Philistine Goliath loses, it is over for the Philistines. Now I want you to notice something important about Goliath here, and it's in verse number 5. I want you to highlight this in your mind. It's important for us how we understand this text. The writer is doing a wonderful job at encapsulating the terror of this man, and he's capturing a depiction for you, and he says this. He had a bronze helmet on his head, and he was armed with a coat of mail, and the weight of the coat was 5,000 shekels of bronze.

Notice that phrase coat of mail there. This is going to be important to your understanding of this passage here. The Hebrew word here, I don't believe that English is translating this properly.

The Hebrew word here is kuskaseem. This word kuskaseem links us to Ezekiel 29 verse 4, and links us to 12 passages throughout Revelation, and it gives a Hebraic imagery that loops us back to Genesis 3.15. The purpose of the writer here is to give us this sense of serpent-like connection. This imagery is almost serpent-like. It's used constantly, and Ezekiel is connecting the king, the evil king to the serpent, to the dragon, and he's doing it all throughout Revelation.

The most important one is going to be Genesis 3.15 as we are finding the serpent at hand. This is an enemy here that we're finding described. It's Goliath. This is an enemy who is cloaked in scales, who has trespassed into the promised land to defy God and to attack God's people.

And here's the thing. Goliath is a giant, and the only man in Israel that physically speaking should be chosen to fight is their king Saul. He's head and shoulders taller than everybody else. Even Goliath knows that.

Why are you standing in front of me? Go get Saul. But Saul is just as ineffective and weak as they are. It's a hopeless case. The leader is stunned. The men are terrified. This group of paralyzed soldiers is the only thing standing between the enemy and everything that these men hold dear. It is a hopeless case.

It's not looking good for them. And this dismal reality has no desire to remove himself from their life's equation. Beloved, is this not also our situation? Were we not also exposed to the one who prowls like a lion seeking whom he may devour? Were we not also enslaved to fear and bound in sin and shame? Did not the serpent of death have a sting which struck terror into our own hearts?

It is Romans 6 23 which teaches us the wages of sin is death. It stands before us. The reminders of all the wrongs that we have done and it taunts us.

Reminding us that it will soon fully consume us and destroy us. Behold the tyrant of sin and death. He isn't just in this story. He's standing in front of you now. The Christian Standard Bible captures this in its study notes that the language in verse 23 where it says coming up, now this is a valley.

Think about a valley is if you're on one side, you're not coming up in a valley. What we find here from Goliath is he is being emboldened. He is descended into the valley and he is now coming up upon the side of the armies of the living God. He is being emboldened. He is finding courage. It denotes the boldness of Goliath and he is now even coming up the side that Israel is on. He is coming.

It is coming. Every tick of the clock's hand brings out the approaching step of the great tyrant. Every outburst of anger, every time we indulge in sin, it testifies to us that we are slaves to his bondage. We have all sinned. It is a snare wherein we have fallen both by birth and by will and the wages of sin is both death physical and spiritual. And oh, it's terrifying reality, the effects of our sin, the tyrant of physical death is approaching us all. But here we find a rather unexpected character. A ruddy little man, the Scripture tells us, whose presence gives no comfort to those who know him most. Yet he is our delivering champion for today.

Find this with me very quickly. We find this dismal reality. This is our final stance, but we cannot stand. And everyone that we hold dear is about to fall to this tyrant and he's getting bolder. This is a reality that we have to face. You cannot escape it.

The box that you stored at the back of your mind and that you have blocked with technology and all the investments of life needs to be knocked off of its shelf and you must deal with the reality. Goliath is coming. Death is coming. He is on his way.

He's here. And your life is but a vapor and it is in the midst of this most terrifying reality that we find our delivering champion. In verse 22, David finally arrives on the scene and no one really wants him there. Now David's only coming because his dad sent him and his dad sent him because at that time they didn't have rations.

Your family brought you your food or you were going to starve. And so he's coming there bringing food to them as his dad has ordered to give them something to eat to get an update on the battle because his dad wants to know what's going on at the time. However, Eliab is not in favor of his brother's presence yet it is not, it is David. It is not the professional soldiers who upon hearing the blasphemies of Goliath against his God decides to do something about it. Remember how in verse eight I told you that Goliath is wanting a battle of representatives?

Truly it's not just a battle between men. It's a battle of the gods because we find in verse number 43, if you will look there with me for just a moment, verse number 43 captures this. So the Philistines said to David, am I a dog that you come to me with sticks? And the Philistine cursed David by his gods. Verse number 45 through 47, David responds, you come to me with a sword and a spear and with a javelin but I come to you in the name of the Lord of hosts, the God of the armies of Israel whom you have defied. This day the Lord will deliver you into my hands. The end of verse 47, the battle is the Lord's and he will give you into our hands.

This is not merely the battle of representatives. This is a battle of the gods, the true and living God of Israel and the false idols of the Philistines. David's confidence is in his God and I want you to recall something in first Samuel chapter 16 verse 12 through 13. We can turn back there very quickly and get this, verses 12 through 13. Saul has sinned, it is made clear to him that he will not be the reigning king for long and we find that Samuel has been sent out and he is going to anoint the one who is going to be the king. Verse 12, so he sent and brought him, that is David. Now he was ruddy with bright eyes and good looking and the Lord said, arise, anoint him for he is the one.

He is the one. It is David after the fall of Saul that is anointed to be the king of Israel. So what we see here is Goliath who is the offspring of the serpent is now gearing up to fight against he who is anointed and comes in the name of the Lord.

He is the one who comes in the name of the Lord of hosts. Now let's see how this plays out here in verse number 48 through 51. So it was when the Philistine arose and came and drew near to meet David that David hurried and ran toward the army to meet the Philistine. Then David put his hand in his bag and took out a stone and he slung it and struck the Philistine in his forehead so that the stone sank into his forehead and he fell on his face to the earth so David prevailed over the Philistine with a sling and a stone and struck the Philistine and killed him. But there was no sword in the hand of David therefore David ran and stood over the Philistine, took a sword and drew it out of its sheath and killed him. And he cut off his head with it and when the Philistines saw that their champion was dead they fled.

That's an encouraging way for things to play out for this dismal reality, isn't it? Notice how it is the head of the offspring of the serpent that is hit. Does this not remind us of Genesis 3.15, the proto-evangelium where God prophesies I will put in the tea, this is what I call a curse pregnant with promise.

It is pregnant with blessing. Here God is cursing Satan, the serpent, I will put in the tea between you and the woman and between your seed and her capital S seed he, the one to come, the Messiah, he shall bruise your head and you shall bruise his heel. This beloved is a real historical event, this passage that we're reading today. But it is also a foreshadowing, it's a picture, it's a typology of Jesus Christ who has come for us. Jesus Christ is the anointed of God. 1 John 3.8 says, the reason the son of God appeared was to destroy the works of the devil.

He is the one that we see in Matthew 12 that binds the strong man, which may be an illusion to this very story and he binds the strong man and he plunders his house. This is Christ, this is our champion. This story isn't about five smooth stones that tackle the problems of your life.

This story is not about you. We're the man hiding behind the rocks. We're the terrified ones who are cowering in fear and we want David to go home because we don't think he's that special. We're not David.

We're weak and impotent. We're hopeless and he is coming for us. But look, this is the anointed one. He has come. This is Christ.

This is our champion. We are the cowards hiding but he is our Lord. Just as David removed the head of Goliath, so too Christ has removed the sting of death. It was Paul in 2 Timothy 1-10 who said, through the appearing of our savior Jesus Christ, who has abolished death and brought life and immortality to light through the gospel. Saul was once the man anointed for the task and where he failed, the anointed David brought deliverance. A light manner where Adam who once stood as the prophet, priest and king inside the temple garden of Eden where he failed and doomed us all to sin and death. Likewise, Christ who is the second Adam. He is the anointed of God who comes in the name of the Lord. He has come and where Adam failed, he did not fail. Those wilderness temptations, it is a type, it is a picture of him overcoming where Adam failed. Christ has come, he is the anointed one and where Adam failed and bound us and where Saul was impotent and could not move, David has been victorious, Christ has been victorious and where Adam failed binding us in fear and death, Christ has succeeded bringing us life and liberty to his people.

Now look with me, I won't go much longer. Look at verses 52 and 53 as it reads, now the men of Israel and Judah arose and shouted. It's quite a change from that dismal reality we found just a few seconds ago it seems. And it says, and we pursued the Philistines as far as the entrance of the valley into the gates of Ekron and the wounded of the Philistines fell along the road of Sherem.

Even as far as Gath and Ekron, then the children of Israel returned from chasing the Philistines and they plundered their tents. This is a change. This is a total change in their personalities. This is a change in their demeanor. This is a change in their behavior. Where was this kind of excitement just a few moments ago? Where was this boldness when you were telling me to go home that I was just an annoying little man who's trying to get his nose into the business?

This is a change. And the question that we ask ourselves also is how is it that we can have such confidence? We can have such confidence because our champion won. Because Christ is our champion, death is not a tyrant wherein we are left paralyzed in fear.

Because he is our champion, we may march forward into the Lord's service knowing that at the moment that we are absent from this body, we will be, as Paul said, present with the Lord. This gives us confidence in all of life. This gives us confidence in adversity. This gives us confidence in daily tasks. This gives us confidence in evangelism.

This gives us confidence over a myriad of events that are plaguing all of our lives. Christ has taken the sting from death. We arise from our fear and confidence because our feet, like hopeful, have found themselves resting upon the rock of ages.

And yes, brother, it is firm. Yes, physical death comes for us all, but through our Lord we are spiritually alive. And we might say that just as David slew Goliath, so too has Christ slain us in our sin, but by the hand of grace, he has risen us up to newness of life. Christ is waging a holy war upon this earth and we are enemies who have been conquered and raised by the hand of grace. And we march with him in triumphant hope, in joy, in pleasure. It is because of this that we can shout with Paul, Oh death, where is your sting? Grave, where is your victory?

A dismal reality. Our delivering champion has come. Christ has come. And this leads us to our last point, which is some contemplations for discouraged souls. If you want to apply this the way you can say, when the waves of concern crash over my head, I must find my footing upon these foundations of truths from my troubled heart.

And I'll give you three of them very quickly. First, you need to recall his word. It was David who remembered the Lord his God in the face of adversity with the enemy. It was Christian who was encouraged by the general reminder of God's presence. It was John the Baptist who before being executed is flooded with doubt.

Yet Christ does not condemn him, as my friend Cameron Dula puts it. Before his death, John receives assurance from Christ's word, evidence from Christ's work and love from Christ's person. Was it not the sight of the Lord that comforted our brother Stephen as they stoned him to death? And he said, look, I see the heavens open and the son of man standing at the right hand of God. And then he repeats, Lord Jesus received my spirit. And then the text says that he knelt down and cried out with a loud voice, Lord, do not charge them with this sin.

And when he said this, he fell asleep. Something that I repeat to myself often as this topic comes up and a myriad of other issues come up in my life is holding on to the promises of God. And there's not many times where I'll lay down at night and then something will come to my mind and simply repeat to myself, he has promised. He has promised. Recall his word. Whatever the issue may be, most directly in this application, the fear of death, this tyrant which is coming for us, he has promised. He has promised.

I look over this ravine which I must cross this great flooding river, but it's on the other side. I recall his word. Second, remember your baptism. Remember your baptism. David in Psalm 88 verse three through five says, I am overwhelmed with troubles and my life draws near to death.

I am counted among those who go down to the pit. I am like one without strength. I am set apart with the dead, like the slain who lie in the grave whom you remember no more who are cut off from your care. This cancer of David's mind that is considering death is that this is abandonment from everything that I hold dear. I will be completely forgotten.

I will be nothing more than just a body in the grave. When it should seem that death is nigh unto us as though it were a black hole to which we should find abandonment from everything that we hold dear. Remember your baptism for it is there that we confess the beginning of daily abandonment to the desires of the flesh and a life in Christ our Lord. Thus with this in mind, we do not mourn, but we look forward knowing that what was declared at our baptism is just moments away from being fulfilled in totality. Remember your baptism. The war that was declared in that public profession that I am dying to self and alive to Christ.

That testimony that you began is about to be sealed. So remember that day. Remember Christ's word. Remember His faithfulness. Recall your baptism. Recall the brothers and sisters that witnessed it. Recall your elders that baptized you.

They were there to celebrate. The God of glory looked down upon you and stamped His name upon you. And as you declared, I will abandon. I will declare war upon sin. Christ says in that final moment, just look back, that life of abandonment is about to be over and paradise is eternally gained.

And lastly, rejoice in what is to come. It was Paul who said, for me to live is Christ and to die is gain. If you've never read of William Kiffin before, I highly recommend you do. He was an extremely influential figure in the early particular Baptist movement. And in his autobiography, he's going to write about these two young men named the Huling brothers.

They're his grandsons. And there is a rise in Catholicism at the time and they revolt against Catholicism and these young, early 20s, late teens, early 20-year-olds, new converts are sentenced to death. This is the first one and it is page after page of testimony of these quotes that stir your soul and convict you deeply. But listen to this one. After the death of his brother, William Huling, who actually thought he was going to escape death, they come and open his cell and tell him, you will be executed tomorrow morning. And listen to this.

He said this. We have no cause to fear death if the presence of God be with us. There is no evil in it.

The sting being taken away. It is nothing but our ignorance of the glory, which the saints pass into by death that make it appear dark for ourselves and for our relations. He is saying since Christ has conquered, death is merely the porch into the glory of eternity. It is that last, final, bitter step until we reach that warm, welcoming abode of our most glorious and conquering Lord.

It is the fact that we doubt that that causes it to be such a chilly stream for us to go through. William's sister wrote this to her mother about her brothers when they were executed. She says, God, having wrought so glorious a work on both their souls in revealing Christ to them, it is as though death has now become their friend.

These were babes in Christ. One of them says, it seems that the closer I find myself nearing the time of my execution that I am filled with more jubilance and bliss than I have ever known. Christ has removed the sting of death.

Putting shoes on this, this encourages us in a myriad of situations. This encourages us as we approach our own deaths, which will come at a moment which we do not know. Some of us may perhaps have a quick death, which we were not expecting.

Some of us may rather be giving a long diagnosis where we will expect it coming for quite some time. But regardless in that moment before it, we can remember that he has taken away its sting. We can also minister to those who are fading close to death. But also I believe it encourages us in our evangelism as well. We in this life are not really approached with martyrdom quite that often. And so rather than me being able to apply that and saying, go and evangelize, and if they're going to kill you, you may have peace.

Yes, that's an application that can be made. But rather I should say that to those whom we are evangelizing, death grants no peace unto them, but rather eternal torment and destruction. Therefore we should be encouraged to go and evangelize them. And just as David was so confident saying, it's my God who wages war, likewise so when we go and evangelize, he wages war for us. David says it's not with the weapons of this world that we wage this war. It's with the spiritual means.

And that's what we're doing this evening. As we gather together and as we sing, when we witness baptisms, when we preach the word, when we partake of the Lord's table, we are waging war. And when the outsiders come in and they look upon us and behold our love for one another, Christ is waging war and he may be so pleased as to slay you in your sin today if you do not know Christ, and raise you up as a brother.

It's a beautiful thing about him. He slays enemies and brings them back as sons, to which he withholds no mercy or grace from them, but lavishes upon them great and mighty blessings. He is our delivering champion.

He is the one that the builders rejected, but he is the cornerstone of our faith and we rejoice in knowing him. O death, where is your sting? O grave, where is your victory? Let us pray. Heavenly Father, we thank you for the mercy and grace that you have given us in Christ our Lord. I pray that this evening, this passage of Scripture, may be one that would encourage us to know that you have come and waged war where we were weak, you have been strong, where we are fearful, you have given us reason to no longer fear. Likewise, just as on Calvary, God poured his wrath out upon you as though you were us. Likewise, when you rose from the grave, we too have risen from you. It is a foreshadowing of that eternal date, that long awaited time where you will come and pull all of us forth to have that union with our soul and bodies and to dwell with you for eternity. Let us not look with fear. It is natural to be nervous, but when we find this as something that would grant us great peace as we minister to those around us and as we say it to ourselves, O death, where is your sting? We ask that you would bless the reading and preaching of your word in Christ's name we pray. Amen.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-01-31 18:55:28 / 2023-01-31 19:09:33 / 14

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