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Steadfast Love (Part 2 of 5)

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

Steadfast Love (Part 2 of 5)

Truth for Life / Alistair Begg

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May 4, 2023 4:00 am

David enjoyed a deeply loyal, soul-level friendship with King Saul’s son Jonathan. Their friendship helped him endure hardship—but it came with a cost. Join Alistair Begg on Truth For Life to discover where David ultimately found greater security.



Having a genuine friend is a priceless choice. David enjoyed a deeply loyal, soul-level friendship with the son of King Saul, Jonathan.

But that friendship came with a cost. Today on Truth for Life, Alistair Begg examines this special friendship and shows us where David ultimately found his security and endurance. Alistair is teaching from 1 Samuel chapter 20.

Now, one of the things that is running through this entire section, beyond chapter 20, is the question of loyalty—of where does loyalty lie? The challenge for Jonathan is supreme. He is the crown prince. If his father's kingdom, if his father's house were to be sustained, then he is next in line.

But since his father's house has been torn from him, he is like minister without portfolio. He loves David. He has an inkling that David has a huge future—how much he knows about David's anointing is hard to tell from the text—but he loves his father. So, is he going to go with his dad, who is the set-aside king, or is he going to go with David, whom he loves as his own soul, who is actually the anointed king?

Now, we won't come close to this today, but let me just make the observation. If you're going to read the text on your own, what this whole thing finally comes down to is the matter of loyalty. Who is the king, and what does it mean to submit to him? David is the king. Therefore, for Jonathan to submit to David as the king means saying no to his family ties.

Therefore, it is no easy… The whole question is full of ambiguities. The very ambiguities and challenges that are represented in the words of Jesus, when he says to people, If you really want to bow before me as your king, if you're going to love me in this way, then you're going to have to be prepared to hate your father or your mother or the members of your family. And no matter how many commentators try and clean that up, that is exactly what he's saying. In other words, in the light of the challenges of life and the prospect of eternity, to whom will I be loyal? Well, Jonathan here has already made his first statement.

Whatever you say, I will do for you. Well, he doesn't realize what David is going to follow up with. He's now going to persuade him to commit himself to doing something that, at least as far as the text is concerned, we have never seen, and that is to tell his father a lie. David has this plan that he has conceived, and depending on Saul's reaction to it, he's either going to be free to go back into the context of the court, or he's going to have to stay on the run.

And so you can see it there in the text. Tomorrow, he says, is the new moon. It's kind of like President's Day. It's a day off, and special festivities. And it would be unusual if the king did not have his own event, and therefore, the expectation would be that David would be present for the event.

And after all, he was married to one of the king's daughters, and although things were not going particularly well, it would seem that the expectation would still be there. And so he says, If your father misses me, then just say—and here you have it—'David earnestly asked leave of me to run to Bethlehem his city, for there is a yearly sacrifice there for all the clan.' But of course, that was not true, because he had already told them, Let me go and hide myself in the field. So I'm going to be hiding in the field.

You tell them, when they miss me, that I have gone to Bethlehem for a clan gathering. And so, once again, you have this strange dilemma in the text, where lies are setting forward the purposes. Again, we needn't stumble over it, because the Bible is not recommending the telling of lies. It is reporting the telling of lies. It is not teaching ethics here.

It is recording events. So it would be very, very wrong for anybody to say, Well, that is the approach that was taken there, and therefore, it is a good plan for me to do the same. No, not at all.

No. Here it is before you. You go ahead and do this, and if your father says good, that'll be great. We'll know that that is fine to return. Now, it is at that point that he then makes his appeal. And the appeal comes in verse 8—"Therefore deal kindly with your servant." Now, at first blush, we may look at that and say, All that he's saying is, Be a good fellow, Jonathan, and help me out here.

He's saying far more than that. And the reason we're able to affirm that is because of the word that is used there in the Hebrew. It is a famous word in the Old Testament. It comes over almost two hundred and fifty times in the Old Testament, and it is a word in Hebrew, hesed.

H-e-s-e-d. It speaks of the steadfast love of God. It speaks not simply of love but of a loyal love. It speaks of a committed love.

It speaks of a love that is prepared to look at the circumstances, no matter how daunting, and remain absolutely true to the commitment. Now, he is able to make this appeal for a loyal commitment on the part of Jonathan because of what we saw back in chapter 18, which is two pages back from me. At the beginning of 18, we're told that the soul of Jonathan was knit to the soul of David. We're not going to rehearse this again.

Simply point it out. The soul of Jonathan was knit to the soul of David. That is more than… They kind of got on well together. And Jonathan loved him as his own soul. And Saul took him that day and would not let him return to his father's house—that is, David. But then in 3, then, Jonathan made a covenant with David because he loved him as his own soul. Now, we pause here and do so purposefully, because this is actually the key which runs through this whole chapter. And that is this covenant of love which is engaged in by Jonathan and David and which is expressive of the eternal covenant of God whereby he has covenanted himself to men and women in the expression of his love and his mercy.

How is this to unfold? Well, the covenant between them is initiated by love and was the expression of that love. It was because he loved him as his own soul that he made this commitment. And remember, when we looked at it, we said this was an expression of such a relationship that involved firm promises and strong commitments. Firm promises and strong commitments. In other words, if we start to think cozy feeling, then we've immediately gone wrong. This is why it is so important, when we consider the nature of marriage, that we understand that it is a covenant relationship, that it is not a contract drawn up by two people who have decided to opt in and may opt out as they choose.

No! The covenant is a covenant of firm promises and strong commitments, so that in the circumstances of life, what then keeps us? You see, what is going to keep David in this situation? Where will his endurance come in the face of these murderous attempts?

He is now on the run for a significant period of time. Where is there security? Where may I find strength?

Where is there a tower in which I can run and be safe? That's the question he's asking. And so he says, Jonathan, you must deal with me kindly. You must then fulfill for me the promises that have been made in our covenant with one another. And that, incidentally—but it's a digression, which I won't follow—that, incidentally, is the key to staying married. Not Valentine's Day. There's not a Valentine's card that can paper over the failure of a husband to love his wife consistently day by day and say, I'm sorry, I'm sorry, I'm sorry, please forgive me, please forgive me, I'm trying my best, I'm sorry, I'm sorry, please forgive me.

Here's your Valentine's card. All right? There's no way you can do it. It won't happen.

It doesn't happen. It's strong commitments. It's firm promises. And therein lies security. It is the security of covenant love. Where, then, is David's endurance to be found in the security of this very love? That covenant was witnessed by Yahweh. You have made this covenant in the presence of God. It is the same God who guards the promises. It is the same God who enables us to keep the commitments. And what we actually have in this in David's appeal to this end is an illustration of what the people of God are to do in the helter-skelter journey of the upside-down world of our individual lives.

The appeal is the same appeal. Deal kindly with your servant. David says, Of course, if there's guilt in me, if I've wronged Saul in some way, then he should kill me yourself.

You don't need to bring your father into it. Jonathan says, No, far be it from you. If I knew it was determined by my father that harm should come to you, wouldn't I tell you? Now, David wrote these poems, remember? Psalms.

And I decided I'm just gonna go and look for one and see the application of this principle in one of his songs. And you don't have to go very far into the Psalms to come to this. Here is the thirteenth Psalm. The thirteenth Psalm. To the choirmaster of Sam of David. And, fascinatingly, if you read these verses in light of what he's facing now—with the murderous threats, with the antagonism of Saul, with the fact that he's on the run—although the general population may regard him in high esteem, this is his circumstances. I'm not suggesting that the historical context of this psalm is 1 Samuel 20.

I'm merely observing that it fits, doesn't it? How long, O LORD? How long's this gonna go on? Will you forget me forever? How long will you hide your face from me? How long must I take counsel in my soul and of sorrow in my heart all the day? How long shall my enemy be exalted over me? What did I ever do? What is my sin?

Why is this guy after me all the time? Consider. Answer me, O LORD my God. Lighten up my eyes, lest I sleep the sleep of death, lest my enemies say, I have prevailed over him, lest my foes rejoice, because I am shaken. But—but—I have trusted in your steadfast love. I have trusted in your hesed. I have trusted in your covenant love. He's not saying, Things are all okay. He's saying, Things stink.

In fact, if it gets much worse, it feels as though I'm gonna lie down on my bed, close my eyes, and never waken up again. My enemies are everywhere. But I have trusted in your steadfast love. Can I just ask you, have you encountered this steadfast love of God—the mercy of God, the mercy that Moses reminds the children of in Exodus 34, when he says that he is rich in mercy, that he extends his love from generation to generation, and so on and so on—just this overwhelming, wonderful picture, which is quite amazing, given that this is in chapter 34, and in chapter 32, Moses had come down from the mountain, and what they were doing—they were all worshipping a golden calf. They had broken the covenant. Well, then, how in the world could they ever be restored? Because God, who is rich in mercy—it's the same language as Paul uses in Ephesians 2.

That's exactly what he does. But God being rich in mercy because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, he didn't love us because we had got it all sorted out, he didn't love us because we had it all fixed, he didn't love it because we got everything the way we wanted it. No, we may have been dancing around our own golden calf. We may have been worshipping our own idols.

We may have been just completely stuck on ourselves. And his love came to us. Deal kindly with your servant his love. The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases, because it flows from his heart. Mercy shown to them, the children of Israel in their time of need, shown to them by the only one who had the power to help. Well, Jonathan represents that to David in the circumstance, doesn't he? That's why he appeals to him on that basis.

Jonathan, I'm gonna have to ask you to deal kindly with me. Now, until we settle this notion in our minds, we will be all over the map. We will tend to think wrongly that if things go badly, it must be because of something I have contributed. That may be the case, but in many cases not. Or if things go well, that I will be honored for it, when in actual fact the nature of grace is to grant to us, as undeserving ones, that which we could never earn, and to bring us in our experiences of sadness into the awareness of the fact that God is pleased to give us something for nothing, even when we don't deserve anything.

You see, that is grace. That's what makes it hard for many of us. I talk with some of you.

I do, actually. I have conversations with people. And I could give you chapter and verse—I'm not about to—when I've explained perhaps to somebody, this is the nature of grace, that God offers to us, grants to us, something for nothing when we don't deserve anything. The person would walk out of the room and say, I have no interest in that, because everything I have I've done on my own. Everything I have achieved I have achieved on my own. I didn't get where I am today by accepting something for nothing. Well, you're stuck, brother. You're stuck. You're stuck in your own goodness.

You're either gonna trust God's mercy, or you're gonna trust your own morality. And it is a day of great opportunity. When the scales come off our eyes and we find ourselves saying what David is saying to Jonathan, Deal kindly with me according to your love. This love is a love that won't let you go. And I quote this all the time. It's silly, but it's back in my mind again.

Here it comes. But, you know, as long as old men sit and talk about the weather, as long as old women sit and talk about old men, honey, I'm gonna love you forever, forever, and ever. Amen.

Well, that's a noble endeavor. But when God says it, he means it. Because the hesed love of God is a love that will not let you go. It is a love that pursues us even when we dance around our own golden calves. Matheson, the hymn writer, wrote that, didn't he?

Old love that will not let me go. Matheson was a seminary student at the University of Glasgow. He had a fiancée. He was struck blind. His fiancée said, I don't want to be married to a blind man. He was then a single man or remained a single man. His sister cared for him. When Matheson became forty, his sister, who was caring for him, was to be married. And on the night before her wedding, as he sat in the place, he was confronted by the way all of the affections and longings of his heart were sort of crumbling underneath him.

Not only had his fiancée left him, but now his sister was to be married, and that would take her from him. And to where did he retreat? To the covenant love of God.

Old love that will not let me go. I yield my life to you. That is David's security. That is the security of all who are prepared to fall into the arms of Jesus and discover something for nothing, especially given that we don't deserve anything. And this is the good news of the gospel which was preached to you. You're listening to Truth for Life.

Stay with us. Alistair will be back to close today's program with prayer in just a minute. Are you looking for your next good book to read? We want to recommend to you a book that is both engaging and edifying. It's a book called The Air We Breathe, and it's an historical look at the influence of Christianity on our broader culture. The subtitle of the book is How We All Came to Believe in Freedom, Kindness, Progress, and Equality.

This book will help you appreciate the way followers of Jesus have fostered Christlike standards in the world. You can request your copy of the book The Air We Breathe when you make a donation today. Keep in mind your financial support goes directly to the distribution of this daily program and also toward making all of Alistair's online teaching entirely free to access and to share. You can give a donation through the mobile app or online at slash donate or call us at 888-588-7884. And if you request a copy of the book The Air We Breathe with your donation and you'd like to purchase extra copies to share with others, you'll find them in our online store. They're available for purchase at our cost while supplies last.

Visit slash store. Now, here's Alistair to close with prayer. Well, Father, thank you. Thank you that your Word accomplishes its purposes, that you have appointed for it, and we rest in that confidence. We thank you that you love us in Jesus with an everlasting love. And we bless you for this. And I pray, Lord, for some who are wrestling on the sea of life, that they might be brought to a solid conviction and assurance of the security and safety that is found by grace alone, through faith alone, in Christ alone. For in his name we pray. Amen. I'm Bob Lapeen. Thanks for joining us today. Tomorrow, Alistair takes us back to the book of 1 Samuel to show us how decisions we make today may have an immediate impact on our circumstances, but they can also have an effect days or years from now, even into future generations. We'll find out more tomorrow. The Bible teaching of Alistair Begg is furnished by Truth for Life, where the Learning is for Living.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-05-04 04:59:49 / 2023-05-04 05:07:43 / 8

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