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Kings In Conflict Part 1

Running to Win / Erwin Lutzer
The Truth Network Radio
September 7, 2022 1:00 am

Kings In Conflict Part 1

Running to Win / Erwin Lutzer

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September 7, 2022 1:00 am

Too often, we cling to our lives and our possessions as if they belong to us, not God. This was Saul’s posture towards the kingdom God had entrusted to him. In this message, we distinguish three contrasts between King Saul’s character versus David’s. David begins to endure a long period of conflict, running as a fugitive while Saul burns with jealousy. 

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Let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith.

Years ago we watched on TV week by week as a man falsely accused of murder was chased from city to city. For ten long years in Israel, David was just like the fugitive running from the man God had deposed as king. Today, first lessons from kings in conflict.

From the Moody Church in Chicago, this is Running to Win with Dr. Erwin Lutzer, whose clear teaching helps us make it across the finish line. We're in a series on growing through conflict, a journey through the life of King David. Pastor Lutzer, I'm sure it's no fun being chased like David was. Dave, not only was it no fun, but it actually led David to insanity at one point. Can you imagine this man actually ran over to the Philistines?

It's an amazing story. You know, the conflict between Saul and David is really a wonderful example of human nature. You see, for example, of Saul, his jealousy, his inability to accept this young man.

You see David, who is running from God, he has an opportunity to kill Saul and he doesn't. This ministry of Running to Win exists to help people to understand that spiritual growth normally happens in hard times, and certainly this account teaches us that. I have written a book entitled Growing Through Conflict, Lessons from the Life of David. For a gift of any amount, it can be yours.

Go to or call us at 1-888-218-9337. Of course, I'm going to be giving you that info once again at the end of this message, and I'll have a personal word for you. All of us, I'm sure, are involved, on one level or another, in human conflict. Maybe there are some people in your life who would like to see you dead, and if not dead, at least crippled, doing all that they possibly can to undermine you, make life difficult, to get you out of the way. That can happen in families. That can happen in your business where there is always conflict. There's always some kind of conflict among all of the co-workers.

It's possible in neighborhoods. It's even possible in churches, and you and I possibly know of instances in which it has been true in churches in a very, very nasty way, very nasty way. Today we're going to talk about conflict, actually conflict among kings, and we're going to see how David and Saul were in conflict and what God was doing in David's life and what God was trying to do in Saul's life in the midst of the conflict. Gene Edwards, in his very interesting little book entitled The Tale of Three Kings, points out that the major difference between David and Saul is that David knew that it was God who owned the kingdom, and Saul believed the kingdom was his. And what a difference that's going to make, and if you are here today and you have your Bibles, I want you to turn to 1 Samuel, book of 1 Samuel, chapter 18, though we will be covering some other passages as well, but I want you to listen very carefully, particularly because of the lessons that God wants to teach us about conflict. I'd like to make three contrasts, three contrasts between Saul and David in 1 Samuel, chapter 18, and in the surrounding passages and incidents that are recorded in this text.

First of all, I want you to notice that the difference is between jealousy, jealousy, and humility. First we find in chapter 18, Jonathan, by the way, who was the son of Saul, verse 3, he makes a covenant with David because he loved him as himself and stripped himself of the robe that was on him and gave it to David. This is a parenthesis, but I want you to know today that if you have a terrible father, it does not mean that you have to end up like your dad.

Isn't that good news? Jonathan is as different from his dad as light is from darkness. Here's a man who's willing to give up his succession to the throne to his friend David, strips himself of his robe, gives it to David, and says, let's be friends and I'm not interested in the kingship. Verse 6, and it happened as they were coming when David returned from killing the Philistine that the women came out of the cities of Israel singing and dancing to meet King Saul with tambourines, with joy, and with musical instruments, and as the women sang, as they played, they said, Saul has slain his thousands and David his ten thousands. And Saul became very angry, for this saying displeased him, and he said, they have ascribed to David ten thousands, and to me they have ascribed thousands.

Now what more can he have except the kingdom? And Saul looked at David with suspicion from that day on, and it came about on the next day that an evil spirit from God came mightily upon Saul, and he raved in the midst of the house while David was playing the harp. And as usual, a spear was in Saul's hand, and Saul hurled the spear, for he thought, I will pin David to the wall. But David escaped from his presence twice, and Saul was afraid of David. Jealousy versus humility.

Now maybe it was unwise for the women to sing their song. David has slain his tens of thousands and Saul only his thousands, but the fact is that Saul had been already disqualified by God. If you notice in chapter 15, verse 26, the text tells us that because of disobedience, Samuel, the prophet, says to Saul, this is chapter 15, verse 26, Samuel said to Saul, I will not return with you, for you have rejected the word of the Lord, and the Lord has rejected you from being king over Israel. And as Samuel turned to go, Saul seized the edge of his robe and it tore. And Samuel said to him, the Lord has torn the kingdom of Israel away from you today and has given it to your neighbor who is better than you. God says, Saul, I'm done with you, but Saul would not quit.

He was fired, but he wouldn't turn in his keys and he wouldn't clean out his desk. What he said is, fired or not, I'm going to hang on to the kingdom. And as a result of that, he could not rejoice over David's success.

He didn't say, isn't it wonderful that this young man was able to slay the giant and has such military might and power? All that he longed for is David's demise. He feared David. He felt like anyone who has some underling under him in business, and you know what this is about, and that young man does so well that he makes the leader, the man who is in charge, look bad, and all that that man who is at the top of the pile can think of is to say, how can I get rid of him? Jealousy versus humility. And I want you to know today that jealousy has ruined marriages.

It disrupts jobs. It creates problems in churches. And David was willing to submit to God in humility. He was willing to say, God, the kingdom is yours.

Give it to me whenever it seems good to you. Now, we need to keep in mind the sequence. This is a series of messages, and if you missed the first two, you know that David was already now anointed by God. He knew that he was the next king, but he goes back and he herds the sheep and he goes in and out of Saul's palace because Saul enjoyed the fact that David was able to play the harp, and they got along well at the beginning. And as a result of that, what David is saying is, God, I can wait until you give me the kingdom.

Listen to this very carefully. The best leaders God has are not those who qualify for the position and who want to lead. Most of the time, the best leaders are those who are conscripted by God.

He chooses them and he leads them and they don't desire it, but God squeezes them into a position of leadership, and they know that they are there as a result of God's grace, not because of any right that is in their mind and heart. Well, you see the contrast, don't you? Humility versus jealousy.

Let's go on to a second contrast, and that is manipulation, manipulation versus trust. Now I pick up the text in verse 11. And Saul hurled the spear, for he thought, I will pin David to the wall.

But David escaped from his presence twice. Saul, by the way, is very interesting. If you ever want to do a doctrinal dissertation on human nature, Saul would be a wonderful one to choose, a wonderful one. Because you see, when a man believes that the kingdom is his and he begins to see it threatened, one of the first things he does is he throws spears. He's a spear thrower. In fact, Saul was a mad spear thrower. And what he does is he is willing to do anything, including murder, to retain the kingdom. God says, Saul, I'm finished with you, but Saul will have none of it.

He hangs on until later on he dies and commits suicide and an Amalekite finishes him off. So the first thing he does is he throws spears. And then what he does is he tries to set traps for David.

Now we don't have time to read the entire text, but if you'll notice in verse 17, I have a daughter named Marib. Why don't you have her, but I want you to fight against the Philistines first. So Saul says, what I couldn't do with my spear, I want the Philistines to be able to do. And then when that didn't work, he said, Michael is another daughter of mine who loves you and you can have her if you are willing to kill 200 Philistines. So David goes and kills the Philistines and Saul is absolutely shocked because he believed surely that in the process of doing that, he would be brought to death. But David is triumphant. What a story. What a story.

High as he will, Saul can't get rid of David. And then what he does is he tries to control all the events. He tries to manipulate. He tries to make sure that a situation will come out according to his liking. You've met people like that. Some of you live with somebody like that.

Somebody who intimidates, manipulates, cajoles, uses emotions to control. You know, the Bible says that Saul repented five times. We don't have time to go through those episodes of repentance, but it is interesting. One time Saul says, I have played the fool. I have erred exceedingly.

That sounds good. But it's like an alcoholic who says, really? This is terrible. I'm finished. Give me another chance and I'll be different.

Or like the sex addict who says the very same thing. And in the process of saying that, though they aren't willing to admit it, if you dig beneath the surface, what you discover is that even their repentance is another form of manipulation. You know what Saul wasn't willing to do? He wasn't willing to fall helplessly in the presence of God and say, oh God, extinguish this flame of anger and resentment and jealousy and do so through your word and through prayer and let me not go till my heart is pure. He wasn't willing to do that. So you'll notice that the difference is David had trust, trust.

Now I want you to listen carefully. You have been up until now, but doubly, friends, Romans, countrymen, please lend me your ears. Notice this, that when David fled, and that's a good thing to do when somebody is throwing a spear at you. It's okay to leave, to dodge, so that the spear hits the wall. But when David fled, he did not take other people with him. Now later on, some people joined him in the Cave of Adullam, but he didn't begin a campaign.

He didn't say to himself, you throw another spear at me and I'm going to throw two at you. What he did is he fled, he fled, and he fled alone. Why did David flee alone? Why didn't he get a group of people on his side? Why didn't he do as what happens in most church splits, where somebody says I can't trust the leadership, so what I'm going to do is I'm going to begin my own and I'm going to go recruiting and I'm going to use the telephone and I'm going to get some letters together and we're going to pull out and start our own church. Why didn't David do that? Hear me carefully when I say because he understood something that is forgotten in today's world. The kingdom is God's kingdom and God can give it to whom so ever he wills and he can raise up leadership and he can bring leadership down and you had better watch when you begin to take the kingdom under your own shirt and say it's mine.

Take care, take care. Twelve long years David was hunted in the caves of Judea running away from Saul and David was willing to do that even though he backslid, as we'll notice David had many faults. David grew discouraged, eventually even joining, if you can believe this, the army of the Philistines.

But at this moment David was at his best, really. And did you notice how God took care of Goliath? Boom, one shot with a sling and Goliath is gone, but Saul, God is not going to take care of Saul. God is going to let David live with Saul even though Saul is a mad king. David is going to live with it for twelve long years and in a moment we're going to tell you why David had to live with it twelve long years.

Are you with me? Jealousy versus humility, manipulation versus trust, manipulation versus trust, and thirdly an evil spirit, an evil spirit versus the Holy Spirit. Are you troubled by verse ten? Now it came about on the next day that an evil spirit from God came mightily upon Saul and he raved in the midst of the house while David was playing the harp with his hands as usual and a spear was in Saul's hand.

That probably also was usual. But are you troubled by this text? Does it bother you that an evil spirit from God would do this?

If you've got good theology it should not only trouble you but it should be the very thing that you could believe. May I ask humbly how it could be otherwise? How could it be otherwise? Obviously all demons have the limitations of creaturehood. They are created.

They cannot act independently. They wreak havoc upon the earth but only as God allows that havoc to be wreaked upon the earth. God allows it and if God does not allow it why indeed it does not happen. When Satan comes to Job and God and Satan have a discussion about him, God tells Satan exactly what he can do with Job and what he can't do with Job. Why? Because the evil one moment by moment can only do what God allows. So I suspect based on another passage of scripture that God had one of his angels perhaps or he himself said to a group of evil spirits, which one of you would like to harass King Saul? And there were a lot of volunteers and so a volunteer was chosen and so it was an evil spirit from the Lord troubling him.

Why? Why this emotional harassment? Why the paranoia? Why the schizophrenia? It is because Saul was disobedient and God was using the devil to discipline someone who was this disobedient.

Now not all schizophrenia is demonic but I believe that much of it is, much of it is, not all of it. You see what God was saying is Saul, you aren't going to repent are you? You aren't going to submit the kingdom to me. You think it's yours, it's mine but you are unwilling to admit it. So you want to be jealous? All right. You want to be jealous?

I'll make you insanely jealous. Therefore the duplicity, the duplicity. You want to live in sin?

Fine. I'll let you live in sin. Always remember this, that the price of dabbling with sin is bondage to it. And God says, Saul, there's some work to do in your heart here and I'm going to use an evil spirit to harass you. What was God after? God was after Saul's submission. God was after Saul saying, game up. You own the kingdom.

Do as seems good in your sight. You have the right to take it from me and you have the right to give it to David because it is yours. Did Saul say that? Not on your life, not on your life.

No. Don't ever underestimate the suffering that people are willing to endure in order to keep their precious little kingdom that they will not give up to God no matter what. This is Pastor Lutzer. There was a time in my life when I was going through a trial, a false accusation that was made. And I remember the tremendous struggle I had to give this to God. And one time in prayer, I opened my hands before the Lord, visualizing in those hands that the problem was there and I was offering it to God and saying, it is yours. You know, I think that every one of us has to come to a place like that in our lives where we offer ourselves to God. The contrast between David and Saul, Saul, of course, hanging on to the kingdom until his knuckles turned white. These are the kinds of lessons that I've written about in the book entitled Growing Through Conflict, lessons from the life of David, lessons that all of us have to learn.

For a gift of any amount, it can be yours. Here's what you do, and I hope you have a pencil or a pen handy. Go to or call us at 1-888-218-9337. Ask for the book Growing Through Conflict, lessons from the life of David. And of course, in the process, we also encounter lessons from the life of Saul.

Go to or call us at 1-888-218-9337. And from my heart to yours, thank you so much for supporting this ministry. Thank you for your prayers, because together we are making a difference in the lives of many. Time now for another chance for you to ask Pastor Lutzer a question about the Bible or the Christian life. Making sense of some of the things God does can be a challenge.

Debbie is from Florida and listens to us via She writes, In the Old Testament, God sent an evil spirit to torment King Saul. That just seems so contrary to the character and nature of our loving God. I'm sure he had a purpose for doing this, but I just don't see what it was. Can you help clarify this for me?

Well, first of all, Debbie, let me say that we're so glad that you connected with us. But a couple of comments. We would all have to agree that the fact that this evil spirit troubled Saul, we would all have to agree that God allowed it to happen.

Let's camp there for a moment and let's figure out what that means. The fact that God allowed it meant that God would not have had to allow it. Therefore, in one sense, absolutely the evil spirit was sent by God. Secondly, what we need to do is to understand that the reason for this is because Saul was so narcissistic by that I mean he was so jealous. He was so self consumed that God sometimes allows sinners to continue to wallow even in more sin. And so this evil spirit was sent by God to trouble Saul. And of course we know that what really helped him, however, was when David played on his harp and the rest of the story unfolds there in the book of Samuel. But the point is it is important for us to see that God uses the devil. In fact, he certainly uses it in the life of believers.

I'm thinking of Job, for example. God used the devil to tempt Job. And of course, we know that in the end, Job came through fine, though he had his periods of doubts. You have, for example, the devil, even in the life of the apostle Paul, an evil spirit was sent to give him that thorn in the flesh. So even there, the devil is God's devil, as Luther is quoted as saying. So I just want you to enlarge your conception of God and to know this, that moment by moment, the devil is subject to God. When we remember that, great faith is birthed in our heart, in our own struggle with the wicked one. So yes, Satan ultimately is under God's direction. Now, this is Dave McAllister. Next time, more about those kings in conflict. Running to win is sponsored by the Moody Church.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-03-01 00:00:25 / 2023-03-01 00:09:05 / 9

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