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Conflict Within The Soul Part 1

Running to Win / Erwin Lutzer
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September 13, 2022 1:00 am

Conflict Within The Soul Part 1

Running to Win / Erwin Lutzer

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September 13, 2022 1:00 am

We sometimes look to our most dangerous enemy to meet a need only God can. David fell so far that he joined Israel’s enemy army for a time. In this message, we review key narratives of David’s flight from Saul from 1 Samuel 24-27. What happens when we run from God to other fortresses instead?  

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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. In Israel, David fell so far that he joined the enemy's army for a time. Still, God had a plan and purpose for him as he does for you and me.

Today, what happens when you get away from the Lord? 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. Pastor Lutzer, it's sad to see David running the race in the wrong direction, like many of us do when times get tough. Dave, you're absolutely right, and I have to say this that David is a good illustration of someone who ran in the wrong direction, as you emphasized, but at the same time, he strengthened himself in God.

I've written these words. One day while living in enemy territory, David slid down a rope only to find that there was no knot at the end. The disillusionment was so deep that he simply did not know where to turn. In that predicament, he illustrates what we can do when we don't know what to do.

There's always one step left for us to take. And of course, as the story unfolds, we find that David, in the midst of absolute despair and loss, strengthened himself in God. I believe it is so important that we learn from the biographies of the Old Testament and the New. The people whom God has put into his word are there to instruct us, and David is a prime example. In the midst of failure, in the midst of discouragement, he strengthens himself in God. I've written a book entitled Growing Through Conflict, Lessons from the Life of David. I think that this resource will be of great benefit and will strengthen you in your walk with God. For a gift of any amount, it can be yours.

Go to, that's, or call us at 1-888-218-9337. And now let us listen to David's predicament and the hope that he found in God. It has sometimes been said that if you like butterflies, you have to like cocoons. When we think of David, who is, of course, given something like 40 or 50 chapters or more in the Old Testament, you realize that most of us think of him as a butterfly. He's the one who had the wisdom of a Shakespeare to write the poetry that he did.

He had the musical ability of a Mendelssohn, and he had really the giftedness of perhaps Julius Caesar in his ability to lead and to give guidance and to fight wars. And we know that he loved God, and God seemed to love him. God and David had this thing going on between them. But the problem was that David also was not only very human, but he was like the rest of us, except only more so. Sometimes we forget that he was a man of many mistakes. His greatest is yet to come in the future, in a future message, as he has a relationship with Bathsheba and then kills her husband. But today we're going to see that David became so discouraged in running from King Saul.

He'd been doing it for about eight and a half years, and it started to get to him, and because he was discouraged, he backslid. He actually ended up going into Philistine territory, where he wrote no hymns, and where it doesn't appear as if he prayed any prayers, and he was there until God got his attention. And when God did, David finally bounced back, but we're surprised at how much it took before David got God's message. Now in order for us to understand all the stories that are connected with this, I need to cover today maybe four or five chapters, but we shall do so very briefly, hopefully enticing you and tempting you to read and to reread the text on your own. 1 Samuel chapter 24, David displays again his greatness because he has an opportunity to kill King Saul, but doesn't.

1 Kings chapter 24. You can read the story there on your own, but David and his 600 men are in a cave. Now I've been in the cave of Adullam, and I suppose that the area of this church very easily is the area of the cave. In fact, that cave has many tunnels to other caves.

So you get 600 men hiding. The Bible says that Saul came into the cave to relieve himself. He was walking along, and he saw this cave, and he saw the word men over it.

What he didn't understand was he didn't read it clearly. It actually said David's men. So he goes there, and he takes care of that which nature dictates, and David actually, in the midst of this cave, sneaks up and cuts off a piece of Saul's cloak. And Saul leaves the tent, and David then calls out to him because David is confident that he caught Saul in a moment of weakness and says, Saul, I have a piece of your coat here.

And he even calls him father. And Saul, of course, who is really a piece of work, he repents after a manner of speaking, and in chapter 24 verse 16 it says, Now it came about when David had finished speaking these words to Saul, that Saul said, Is this your voice, my son David? And Saul lifted up his voice and wept. And he said to David, You are more righteous than I, for you have dealt well with me while I have dealt wickedly with you. And you have declared today that you have done good to me that the Lord delivered me into your hand, and yet you did not kill me. David had this thing about Saul being the Lord's anointed, and he would not kill him. Hey, listen, do you think that you can believe Saul when he says everything's going to be okay from now on? I will cease trying to find you?

No way, no way. Saul is fascinating in terms of human nature. If I were a student in psychology and had nothing to do, and sometimes those things go together and sometimes they don't, I would write a dissertation on King Saul.

He fascinates me endlessly. And Saul, of course, gives up trying to find David only for a little while, and then he sends 3,000 of his best men throughout all the hills prowling around trying to find this young man who did not do him any harm, keep in mind. And David has another opportunity to kill King Saul in 1 Samuel chapter 26. Saul and the men that were with him, they are sleeping one night, and David looks down and he sees Abner, who was the head of Saul's army, sleeping next to Saul, and they're sleeping very well.

In fact, the text says that God caused them to sleep a very heavy sleep. And David goes down, he goes past that particular rock and he goes over there and he chooses a trail and he sneaks up and he steals Saul's sword and his canister of water, his spear. And then David goes up on a hilltop in the morning and says, yoo-hoo, I'm here, look at what I've got, I could have killed you again, Saul. And Saul says in verse 21 of chapter 26 now, chapter 26 of 1 Samuel verse 21, Saul says, I have sinned, return my son David, for I will not harm you again because my life was precious in your sight this day. Behold, I have played the fool and committed a serious error. Can you believe Saul now? Is he finally serious?

No. Don't ever believe the promise of someone, don't ever believe the promise of someone who refuses to take care of the depth of their sinfulness and deceit. Do not believe their promises. So you'll notice that David knows that he can't trust Saul and David is filled with discouragement. David no longer remembers the promises of God and so what he decides to do is to actually go into Philistine territory and he's going to live there and that's what he does. We pick up the passage in 1 Samuel chapter 27. Then David said to himself, now I will perish one day by the hand of Saul. There is nothing better for me than to escape into the land of the Philistines. Saul will then despair of searching for me anymore in all the territory of Israel and I will escape from his hand. Now earlier we notice that David spent time with Achish, king of Gath or Gath as it is in Hebrew and that's where Goliath came from and David feigned insanity and was scrawling stuff on the wall and allowing his spit to run down onto his beard. Now he goes and he wants to become a bona fide citizen of the enemy. You know all those Psalms that David wrote, the Lord is my fortress, the Lord is my strong tower, all those Psalms are no longer relevant to him now. He runs to the enemy where he might hide and be safe.

Now I want you to know that when we do that, and backsliding by the way is turning away from God, believing that God isn't looking out after us anyway, he's not meeting our deepest needs, and so what we do is we look to the enemy to find the very thing that we should be looking to God for. In David's case it was protection. When we run like that from God for a moment we might actually have a sense of relief, we might actually feel better and I think David did. He crossed over and his six hundred men were with him in verse 2 of chapter 27 and actually he was able to do something he had not been able to do in the desert before and that is to live with his wives and the men who were these rogues who had identified themselves with him, their wives came, their children came and they had kind of a family focus and they said to themselves, we are going to live here amongst the Philistines.

Now there's more to the story. David even said to Achish, he said I want you to know that I think it would be a good idea if you were to give me a town, give me the city of Ziklag and let us all just congregate and live there and that's exactly what Achish king of Gath does. He said fine, he said you can have Ziklag. Do you know that it's possible sometimes to rebel against God, to do the wrong thing, and for a moment it looks as if it's good. You can leave a marriage that you should have stayed with and there may be a sense of relief, a sense of anticipation of something new, but God has not forgotten and God has not forgotten David and David is going to find himself suddenly confronted by the Almighty in a way that he never dreamed would be possible. But meanwhile, he and his men, they live there in Gath and David, you'd think he'd say well, you know, I've been running a lot now, sand everywhere in the desert, every morning we'd expect him to wake up to kiss his wives, to look into his pouch, to dust the sand off and then go down to the local Y and to shoot some baskets and to enjoy himself there. But David doesn't do that because David is a man of blood.

I mean, you just read the text. David loved war. He loved it. That's why later on he couldn't build the temple is because he killed more people than he should have killed. Sure, there were battles, but David used to make raids and he attacked. It says in verse 8, now David and his men went up and raided the Geshurites, the Gerizites, the Amalekites, and the Megabytes, for they were the inhabitants of the land from ancient times, so as you come to sure even as far as the land of Egypt. And notice it says in verse 9, David attacked the land and did not leave a man or a woman alive and he took away the sheep, the cattle, the donkeys, the camels, the clothing, and he returned and he came to Achish. And Achish said to him, verse 10, where have you made a raid today? And David lies through his teeth. He says against the Negev of Judah. When you have the word Negev, that's the Hebrew word for desert. What he says is, I was carrying out raids against my own people, the Jewish people who live in Judah.

That was not true. In fact, that's why it says in verse 11, David killed everybody whom he raided so that nobody had come back and tell the truth. And Achish believed David in verse 12, saying he has surely made himself odious among his own people, Israel.

Therefore, he will become my servant forever. Well, David and his men are living there. They were there for one year and four months, 16 months, and one day David goes to his mailbox and he discovers that there's a note that says congratulations, your country needs you. We're going to war, David, and we want you to join our army and fight against your own people, the people of Judah. And David is willing to do that.

You know, you read the text and you say, David, why is it that you don't seem to show more revulsion at the very idea? Chapter 28, it says David said to Achish, when Achish said, I need you for war, David said to Achish, very well, you shall know what your servant can do. And Achish said to David, very well, I will make you my body guard for life. And David signed on.

David signed on. Now, unfortunately, we have to skip chapter 28. This would be the chapter we'd spend some time on if we ever did a series on the life of Saul because Saul, again, that 90-day wonder, he puts out all the witches from the land. And now that he's in trouble, remember he is the king now of Israel, he's in trouble. What does he do? The Bible says he goes to a witch.

It is called the law of the grand exception, where leaders do not think that they have to follow the same laws that they give their people. Well, there's going to be a final battle now between the Philistines and Israel. Saul is going to the witch to try to find out what to do and he's shocked to death. The witch is shocked to death when Samuel shows up. This is an unusual story, by the way, in chapter 28. Now, Samuel, in fact, comes back from the dead and in effect says, why in the world are you disturbing my sleep, you know? You go through all that to die and then you have to do this. That's a very loose translation.

But we pick it up in chapter 29. The Philistines are gathered together and their armies come to Aphek, which is not too far from modern-day Tel Aviv. And the lords of the Philistines are preparing for war, and when you prepare for war, you have the troops march past you.

And they are parading their stuff. They're marching in uniform, making sure everybody's present, everybody has a spear, everybody knows which regiment he belongs to. And suddenly the commanders, the heads of the armies, are watching this parade, and they begin to look around and go, I think I smell some Hebrews here, somebody says. You'll notice it says, verse three, the commanders of the Philistines said, what are these Hebrews doing here? Well, Achish said, look, he said, David's here and everybody.

And the commanders say, look, we can't have these guys fight on our side because when the battle goes tough against Judah, they're going to defect, they are going to become our adversary. So Achish, the king, says to David, he says, David, you know, you have to go back to Ziklag, and look at what David says in verse eight. And David said to the king, but what have I done and what have you found in your servant from the day when I came before you to this day that I may not go and fight against the enemies of the Lord, the king? David, I think, inside is so relieved, he's saying, oh, thank God, I don't have to fight against my own people. But on the other hand, he wants to be thought well of by the king of the Philistines, and so that is his reply. Remember, David is going through a time of vacillation here.

This isn't the David we normally think of when we think of King David. Well, he and his men go back to Ziklag, and as they go, they sing, we're marching to Ziklag. They're glad that they're out of the army. They're on their way home, they're going to see their wives and their kids, and all is going to be wonderful and sweetness and light. Three days journey, they march to Ziklag, and guess what? Chapter 30, verse one. And it happened when David and his men came to Ziklag on the third day that the Amalekites had made a raid on the desert, and Ziklag and had overthrown Ziklag and burned it with fire, and they took captive the women and all who were in it, both small and great, without killing anyone, though David didn't know that, and carried them off and went their way. And when David and his men came to the city, behold, it was burned with fire, and their wives and their sons and their daughters had been taken captive. And David and the people who were with him lifted their voices and wept until there was no strength in them to weep.

Hang on to that phrase, there is no strength in them to weep. And David's two wives had been taken captive, Ahinoahom and Abigail, the widow of Neval, the Carmelite. Moreover, David was greatly distressed — hang on to that word, too — because the people spoke of stoning him, for all the people were embittered, and each one because of his sons and daughters. But David has strengthened himself in the Lord, his God. If David were to write a book sometime, that would be his own story, he could entitle it, What to Do When You Don't Know What to Do. Notice, he was weakened because he was discouraged because of the long chase, the psychological warfare that Saul had against him. He was weakened when he joined in the Philistines to live there, to look to them, to receive what he thought God wasn't giving him, namely protection.

He was further weakened when he began to defend the Philistines, the enemies of God, and now he found himself in a predicament from which he could not seem to extract himself. Now what, David? I want to have a personal word with you. May I pray for you and ask God's blessing upon your life?

I can't help but think that there are many of you who have listened to this who really do not know what to do. You may be in a predicament of your own making, someone else may have made it for you, but there you are, and God says, strengthen your hand in me. Father, I pray for all who have listened. Grant them faith, grant them the strength to seek you even in the midst of despair, and I pray, oh Father, come to their aid. In Jesus' name, amen. Perhaps now you better understand why I wrote a book entitled Growing Through Conflict, Lessons from the Life of David.

I wrote it because David has experienced all the things that we have experienced, despair, hopelessness, guilt, exhilaration, and yet through it all we see God. Now for a gift of any amount, this book can be yours. Here's what you do. Go to or call us at 1-888-218-9337. Now I'm going to be giving you that info again. Perhaps you need to find a pencil or a pen so that you can write it down, but meanwhile I want to thank you in advance for your support of this ministry.

Because of people just like you, you've frequently heard me say running to win is in more than 20 different countries, and of course through the internet we encompass the world, all because we have so many people who hold our hands, so to speak, and become a part of the running to win family. That information is Remember, ask for the book Growing Through Conflict, Lessons from the Life of David,, or call us at 1-888-218-9337.

Thanks in advance for helping us. You know that we exist to help you make it all the way to the finish line, and we trust that you'll tell others about this ministry so that we can help them as well. You can write to us at Running to Win, 1635 N. LaSalle Boulevard, Chicago, IL 60614. Erwin Lutzer has brought part one of Conflict Within the Soul, the fifth message in his series Growing Through Conflict, a study in the life of King David. Next time we'll pick up the story of David's sojourn, Far from His People and Far from His God. This is Dave McAllister. Running to Win is sponsored by the Moody Church.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-02-26 06:19:36 / 2023-02-26 06:28:16 / 9

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