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“Why Have You Come Down?” (Part 1 of 2)

Truth for Life / Alistair Begg
The Truth Network Radio
April 18, 2023 4:00 am

“Why Have You Come Down?” (Part 1 of 2)

Truth for Life / Alistair Begg

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April 18, 2023 4:00 am

When putting together a team, we tend to look for individuals whose strength, training, and skills exceed the opponents’. God, however, often uses ordinary people doing ordinary tasks to accomplish remarkable things. Hear more on Truth For Life with Alistair Begg.


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Music playing For the biggest toughest kid in the class to be on our team. That's not how God works though. Today on Truth for Life, we'll see how God's extraordinary accomplishments are often done through ordinary people in their ordinary tasks.

Alistair Begg is teaching a message titled, Why Have You Come Down? 1 Samuel chapter 17 is the source of our Scripture reading this morning and the passage for our study. 1 Samuel 17, beginning at verse 12. Now David was the son of an Ephrathite of Bethlehem in Judah, named Jesse, who had eight sons. In the days of Saul the man was already old and advanced in years. The three oldest sons of Jesse had followed Saul to the battle. And the names of his three sons who went to the battle were Eliab the firstborn, and next to him Abinadab and the third, Shammah. David was the youngest. The three eldest followed Saul, but David went back and forth from Saul to feed his father's sheep at Bethlehem. For forty days the Philistine came forward and took his stand morning and evening. And Jesse said to David his son, Take for your brothers an Ephrath of this parched grain and these ten loafs, and carry them quickly to the camp of your brothers. Also take these ten cheeses to the commander of their thousand.

See if your brothers are well, and bring some token from them. Now Saul and they and all the men of Israel were in the valley of Elah, fighting with the Philistines. And David rose early in the morning and left the sheep with a keeper and took the provisions and went, as Jesse had commanded him.

And he came to the encampment as the host was going out to the battle line, shouting the war cry. And Israel and the Philistines drew up for battle army against army. And David left the things in charge of the keeper of the baggage, and ran to the ranks and went and greeted his brothers. As he talked with them, behold, the champion, the Philistine of Gath, Goliath by name, came up out of the ranks of the Philistines and spoke the same words as before.

And David heard him. All the men of Israel, when they saw the man, fled from him and were much afraid. And the men of Israel said, Have you seen this man who has come up? Surely he has come up to defy Israel, and the king will enrich the man who kills him with great riches and will give him his daughter and make his father's house free in Israel. And David said to the men who stood by him, What shall be done for the man who kills this Philistine and takes away the reproach from Israel? For who is this uncircumcised Philistine, that he should defy the armies of the living God?

And the people answered him in the same way, So shall it be done to the man who kills him? Now Eliab his eldest brother heard when he spoke to the men. And Eliab's anger was kindled against David, and he said, Why have you come down? And with whom have you left those few sheep in the wilderness? I know your presumption and the evil of your heart, for you have come down to see the battle. And David said, What have I done now? Was it not but a word?

And he turned away from him toward another and spoke in the same way, and the people answered him again as before. Thanks be to God for his Word. Our gracious God, grant to us the help of the Holy Spirit to teach and hear and understand and believe your Word. We are desperately in need, and so we cry to you as children to a Father for your help. In Christ's name.

Amen. Well, we are picking up the story at the twelfth verse. Every so often I give you my notes.

When I'm speaking to you, I will do this morning. I'm never sure whether these fit with the way you are responding to the text, but it gives you an idea of how I have approached the passage as I seek to teach it. As I came back to it, we dealt with the text that took us up to the end of verse 11 with the Israel army and Saul in somewhat of disarray. So the first thing that I wrote down by way of a heading was just the phrase, So far, not so good.

So far, not so good. Because that really is the situation. Saul and the army are there, as it were, on the hillside, paralyzed by the defiant taunts of this big giant of the Philistines by the name of Goliath. And he has now by this time developed his party speech, if you like, and he comes out on a routine basis and challenges them, asking them, Why have you come out?

Why do you even get up in the morning and array yourselves in this way? And, of course, the reaction to that, it's a rhetorical question, and the reaction is that they just remain stationary. Interestingly, before we finish our study this morning, that same taunt is actually going to be heard on the lips of Eliab, the elder brother of David. Now, the reason that they are in such a predicament is particularly in terms of Saul himself is because of what we read in the fourteenth verse of chapter 16, that the Spirit of the Lord had departed from Saul. So this big, tall, handsome people's choice of a king now finds himself with nothing to offer. And even those of us who have followed the pattern of his kingship know that even some of his best moments were overshadowed by his partial disobedience, which we mentioned in passing were nothing other than an indication of disobedience itself.

And so, so far not so good. The army is there encamped in confrontation with the forces of the Philistine army, and there is no one who is prepared to step forward and take up the challenge. Choose a man, says Goliath, and come down, but no one comes down. When you look at that and think about the nature of affairs, people are involved in warfare, we might be tempted to think that surely somebody big, someone strong, someone brave enough to take on this Philistine would step forward. But actually, what we're about to discover is that although we may be tempted to think in matching strength with strength, as Paul later on says in his letter to the Corinthians, God's strength is made perfect in weakness. And it is that principle which we have already had an inkling of that we're about to see unfold.

So, so far not so good. And then, secondly, meanwhile in Bethlehem. Meanwhile in Bethlehem. You'll notice that here in verse 12, we are no longer in the valley of Elah, but the writer has taken us back to Bethlehem. Verse 12 doesn't exactly jump off the page, does it, giving us an indication that things are about to take a dramatic turn. Nobody would guess from the twelfth verse that we are actually at a pivotal moment in the story. Incidentally, if I can just say this—and it may prove helpful to you—the longer I'm studying this for Samuel, the more I'm helped by thinking of it—and this may sound strange—in terms of a movie.

And by that I mean this. We've already noticed that there are challenges here in terms of the chronology, in terms of the sequence of things. The big sequence from beginning to end is clear. But significant episodes are given to us in a way that makes it hard for us to understand how all the pieces fit in the puzzle. If you think in terms of a movie, you might find this helpful, in that when you watch a film, you are taken into the story, and you are able then to allow your mind to process movement where scenes are cut from one place to another.

And sometimes they take you back, and sometimes they pitch you forward. But we understand what is being done in the way in which the film is being presented to us. The sequential order of things may be interrupted in order to make a point. And without belaboring it, I want to suggest to you that that is part of the answer to the potential difficulties that are to be found in this section that is before us now. Suffice it to say that the camera now has focused back on Bethlehem in Judah, where David was the son of an Ephrathite. If we are diligent students, we may find ourselves sitting for a moment and thinking about that and saying, Son of an Ephrathite, what does that remind me of? And you will find yourself saying, I think that's exactly how the book begins.

And then you'll go back to check and see, and you'll turn back to chapter 1 and verse 1. And how did the book begin? There was a certain man.

Remember, when we began this study, I said, it's not a particularly dramatic beginning, is it? There was a certain man. And then it goes on and says who the father was, and the father was. And he was the son of Tohu, who was the son of Zuf, who was an Ephrathite. And we mentioned at the time, it's interesting that this is part of the clan of Judah.

And we should probably make note of that. And we noted at the time that the social structure into which we are brought in this narrative was disintegrating. Leadership was failing. The judges had come, and they had gone. The people were making up their own rules as to how they would live their lives.

The book of Judges ends, and everybody did what was right in their own eyes. And in that chaotic milieu, this story begins, and the story of this son of an Ephrathite comes into play. Well, here we are once again, and the camera has switched from the valley back into Bethlehem, and the writer is reminding us of the relationship of David to the tribe of Judah. Now, David was the son of an Ephrathite. Incidentally, this may cause you to do what I did, and that is to go back and reread the wonderful story of the book of Ruth and realize that, nestled again as the camera moves away from the story of the judges and takes us into the domestic situation of one tiny family—a man who was an Ephrathite and his wife Naomi—and how they left Bethlehem, the city of bread, because of a famine, in order that they might go on fine bread.

It's wonderful. And then the drama of the triple bereavement of Naomi—and Naomi doesn't only lose her husband, but she loses both of her sons. And then that great moment when she says to her daughters-in-law, You should just go back, because I am old, and there's no future for you if you come with me. And then that amazing moment where Ruth declares, you know, No, I'm coming. Don't ask me to leave you, and treat me not to leave thee, nor to turn from following after thee. For where thou goest, I will go, and where thou dwellest, I will dwell. And where you die, I will die. And your people will be my people, and your God will be my God.

And when you read that there, you say, Wow, this surely is significant. This is a drama, a great drama. And then Big Boaz.

And then The Floor. And, oh, it's a great story. If you haven't read it, you must read it again. And then the wonder of it all, that they are married.

And what a wonderful drama unfolds when we realize the way in which the book wonderfully ends, teasing us, moving us, pushing us forward, the generations. Solomon fathered Boaz. Boaz fathered Obed. Obed fathered Jesse. And Jesse fathered David. Now David was the son of an Ephrathite of Bethlehem in Judah named Jesse. Well, here we have it.

Here we have it. David now is the focus of the scene. We no longer have the full frame of big Goliath looking at us, but now we're looking into the face of David. Interestingly, we have already met him. It's interesting the way in which he's introduced.

Now David was the son of an Ephrathite of Bethlehem in Judah. And you say to yourself, But we already know that. Because we already read that.

Of course. But you see what I'm saying? The way in which the story is being introduced to us is such that the writer is conveying specific instances. And I've suggested to you before—and remember we said that this was for the honors course and not a main and a plain thing—that the introduction of David in verse 12 is startling, surprising, if the events of chapter 16, 14 to 23 happened before chapter 17 and verse 12. But in actual fact, if chapter 17 happened before the end of chapter 16, then it's simply one of the places where the significance of what is taking place, in the way in which the writer puts the material together, takes precedence over the sequence. So it is put together in this way in order that we might understand. Essentially, what we've had at the beginning of chapter 16 is the private disclosure of David's role in the nation of Israel. We already have that.

We were there for that. Here in 17, you have, if you like, the public disclosure of David's part. These two events are set side by side, and they are the overall sequence of the events. Although it is unfolding in chronological order, it's put together in such a way that it makes it difficult for us to know where we are.

That's the point. If you read 1 Samuel and 2 Samuel 2, it's one of the reasons I didn't want to do 1 Samuel, because they've said to me a number of times, Why don't you do 1 Samuel? I say, Because I don't know how the chronology works. They say, Well, figure it out. And when I say they, I'm talking about the members of my pastoral team. They said, Yeah, go ahead. You can figure it out. Well, I've struggled to figure it out, and I acknowledge it quite freely.

But I want you to understand that it is something that needs to be considered. Back to the text itself. There we have Jesse, advanced in years and the three oldest boys who have gone off to join the battle. You'll notice that they were stationary, and David was going back and forth. In verse 15, he went back and forth from Saul to feed his father's sheep at Bethlehem. And, again, I'll just pause for a minute here. Verse 15 provides an explanation for David's absence having already been made an armor-bearer in chapter 16.

Right? So people say, when they read the text, they say, Now wait a minute. He became an armor-bearer for Saul in chapter 16. And now we're here in chapter 17, and apparently nobody knows what's going on. What you've got is, in 14–23, you've got a little glimpse into a future event which is set in such a way as to enable us to realize that the significance of both his private and his public declaration is there. Now, with this stated, then—sorry to have started this movie thing, but the camera then cuts again to the valley, doesn't it? And David was the youngest of the three.

David went back and forth, and then once again it cuts to verse 16, and for forty days the Philistine came forward and took his stand morning and evening. Okay? So we've got the picture. They're all there.

They're doing nothing. And then we know, according to verse 16, that while we've had this little moment or two in Bethlehem, through all of that time the same stuff has been going on as we've seen before, and for forty days, morning and evening, the big giant is saying his speech. All right. Now, we come to the sandwich delivery. And the sandwich delivery is an ordinary task. If he is the boy of charge, if he is the one who, by his youthfulness and his agility and his willing spirit, is prepared to do the bidding of his father, then it's no surprise that, as on previous occasions, he would be dispatched in this way. David, who's the kind of boy you might expect, up early in the morning, verse 20, leaves the sheep with the keeper, in the same way that when you go on vacation you have to leave your dog with somebody, and he has his sheep.

Someone needs to look after them. He makes provision for them. He takes the provision.

He goes as his dad has commanded him. And he arrives at the scene of the battle, at the encampment, verse 20, as they were going out to the battle line, and they were shouting the war cry. So he arrives, where there's a lot of shouting going on.

But that was really all that was going on. If you're going to be soldiers, you have to have a battle cry. I know that here in America they have that thing where you have a cry, Ohio State has a cry, there's some screaming that goes on down in Alabama or something like that, they have a cry.

And it's understandable, you know. They say, Hey, here we come, you know. I don't know if I… I told you before, the first time I saw an American football game—and it was in Bushee and Hertfordshire in England—the United States Air Force team was playing some other group. I don't know the other group. And a number of things stood out to me. One was the cheerleaders. As a sixteen-year-old boy, I was immediately interested to discover this unique sensation, and… But it wasn't… I don't remember what any of them looked like, but I do remember what they said. And they had a chant, they had pom-poms, and they waved them, and they would say… I remember vividly, they said… Before the game started, before the team started, they said, You can do it, you can do it, you can, you can.

You can do it, you can do it, you can, you can. So I figured, Okay, let's see how they do. And, you know, cutting a long story short, they couldn't. And so the cry seemed more ridiculous as the time went on. I mean, somebody should tell them, Change it! So you have this picture, and he arrives, and they're all saying, Here we go, here we go, here we go.

They're going nowhere. And David walks into the middle of all of that. We never know exactly how God is going to use us. It could be when we're simply delivering lunch, you're listening to Alistair beg on Truth for Life. We trust that this time each day in God's Word helps you develop a confidence, a certainty about the Bible. Certainty can be hard to come by in our world. We may think something is a sure thing only to end up being disappointed, but we can be sure of our salvation in Christ.

And the book we want to recommend to you today emphasizes that. It's titled Assurance, Resting in God's Salvation. This is a 31-day devotional that explores the doubts that can plague our thinking when it comes to salvation. As the title indicates, you'll learn why your eternal destiny is assured when you trust in Jesus. Request your copy of the book Assurance, Resting in God's Salvation. When you give a donation to support the teaching ministry of Truth for Life, go to slash donate or call us at 888-588-7884. By the way, if you're benefiting from Alistair's teaching in this section of 1 Samuel, you'd like to dive deeper into the story of David and Goliath, we've prepared a five-day series of readings from Alistair that explore this story in more detail. You can sign up.

We'll send them directly to your email inbox. David versus Goliath is one of the most famous one-on-one battles in human history. So often though, it's misunderstood. In this five-day study, you'll learn why this story's central message is far more profound than a mere call to imitate David's heroic behavior. To sign up, visit, click the more tab, and look for the topical reading plan titled The Man in Between.

I'm Bob Lapine. Thanks for listening. Tomorrow the story continues. For 40 days, Saul's army remain paralyzed by fear as they listen to the taunts from their enemy. We'll find out why David's vastly different reaction to the giant became the turning point for the battle. The Bible teaching of Alistair Begg is furnished by Truth for Life, where the Learning is for Living.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-04-18 05:35:39 / 2023-04-18 05:44:10 / 9

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