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Steadfast Love (Part 3 of 5)

Truth for Life / Alistair Begg
The Truth Network Radio
May 5, 2023 4:00 am

Steadfast Love (Part 3 of 5)

Truth for Life / Alistair Begg

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May 5, 2023 4:00 am

Decisions we make today certainly have an immediate impact, but they can often affect years to come as well—even future generations! Study along with Truth For Life as Alistair Begg looks at a difficult but crucial decision that Jonathan had to make.



Music playing. The decisions each of us will make today can certainly have an immediate impact on our circumstances, but they can also affect events days or years from now, even into future generations. Today on Truth for Life, Alistair Begg points us to a difficult but crucial decision that Jonathan, the son of King Saul, had to make. Alistair is teaching from 1 Samuel chapter 20, beginning with verse 12. You will notice that we had ended at verse 10 and verse 11. And Jonathan said, verse 11, to David, Come, let us go out into the field.

So they both went out into the field. Verse 18. Then Jonathan said to him, Tomorrow is the new moon, and you will be missed, because your seat will be empty. So, why then, verses 12 to 17? For myself, I take it that it is a purposeful interruption. In other words, that the writer of this story is more concerned at this point in our reading for us to understand what he now conveys in verses 12 to 17 than it is for us to be able to chase immediately to verse 18 and to the resolution of the story. All of the material that we're dealing with is historical, and all of it is theological in that it is teaching us, giving us information and truth about God. But in one sense, this section, 12 to 17, is particularly so. And it is a reminder to us that when we read passages like this, we are reading them in such a way that we might learn about God and his unfolding purposes. And in the last occasion, we realized that David, in dealing with the predicament that was before him in terms of Saul's desire to murder him, was addressed by him finding security in the covenant love of God. And now, as we come to this section, we discover that Jonathan's need for encouragement, not in view of the immediacy of things but in view of taking the long view, his need is exactly the same and is to be met in the exact same way. Some of you years ago, like me, will have looked into a book written by Susie Welsh, who was the wife—or is the wife, I'm not sure—of Jack Welsh of GE. And she wrote a book about decision-making, which I recall was entitled Ten, Ten, Ten.

The thesis was straightforward. When you make a decision, she says, it is important that you think in terms of the implications of that decision in the light of ten minutes, ten months, ten years, so that a decision that is made in a moment has ramifications. We understand that. And the decisions that are being made in this chapter here are not only addressing the immediate impact of the threats on David's life, they're not only addressing the longevity of David's coming kingdom, but they're actually, beyond that, dealing with the matter of forever. I don't know if you noticed how twice this comes up in verse 23, where Jonathan is speaking, and he says, As for the matter of which you and I have spoken, behold, the LORD is between you and me forever. And in the closing verse of the chapter, verse 42, again, the LORD shall be between me and you, and between my offspring and your offspring forever. Now, that forever is important, and it is an indication to us, I think, of just why it is that we have this particular section in this place in this chapter. The preoccupation of David is an immediate one.

The concern of Jonathan is a long-term one, as will become apparent. Now, here in verse 12, Jonathan addresses David. And notice how he does so. The LORD, the God of Israel, be witness. So in other words, he's making the point—and the writer is allowing us to understand—that what Jonathan is about to say now is a matter of great significance. What he is saying to David is underneath, if you like, the gaze of the God of Abraham, Isaac, and of Jacob. After all, this whole drama here is about Israel, it is about the people of God, it's about the king that has been rejected, it is about the one who has been anointed, and so on.

And so, there is a solemnity about Jonathan's words. He lets David know that he's going to operate, once again, in the way that he had done previously at the beginning of chapter 19. I'm going to sound out my father about this time tomorrow or the third day, and he says, if he's well disposed towards David, shall I not then send and disclose it to you?

I will definitely let you know. But should it please my father to do you harm… Let's just pause on that for a moment. Who takes pleasure in doing people harm?

That is, a sadistic pleasure, where people take great delight in harming other people. And what we've already seen in the kind of deconstruction of Saul as a personality is that he apparently has a dreadful capacity for doing this. And that it is not that he's just a little bit miffed about the fact that David appears to be very popular, while he seemingly has just gone right off the scale in terms of the popularity amongst his people. It's not just that.

No. So, if it should please my father to do you harm, says Jonathan humbly. So there's a solemnity to it, there's an honesty to it, there's a humility to it. The Lord do so to Jonathan. See how he speaks in the third person here?

And more also, if I don't disclose it to you and send you away, that you may go in safety. Now, at the risk of undue repetition, let me say again so that we understand what has happened here. The plan for immediate application to deal with the predicament that is facing David is now lost sight of in this section.

It has actually faded from view. Because in the long-term view, it is Jonathan now who feels himself to be in the place of danger. He is concerned about the well-being of David, but he also recognizes that when David becomes the king, everything will be flipped, and he is the one who will be threatened, potentially, by David's kingship. Consider the closing sentence there in verse 13, where as he addresses him in this way, he says, May the LORD be with you as he has been with my father. This is not a pious wish on the part of Jonathan. This is actually a significant statement.

Because think about it. In what way was the Lord with Saul? He was with Saul in establishing him and enabling him in the fulfillment of the role of king. You remember, the Spirit of the Lord had rushed upon Saul, and he was peculiarly with him in being set apart to this task. But now, of course, that's no longer the case. Saul has been rejected, the kingdom has been torn from him, and it has been given to a neighbor who, Samuel told him, is better than you.

Right? And Jonathan now has at least an inkling of the fact that this neighbor, who is better than his father, is none other than David, whom he now addresses in this dialogue. And so when he says, May the LORD be with you as he has been with my father… The Hebrew scholars tell me that that might equally be translated, May the LORD be with you as he was with my father, making the past tense all the more striking.

In other words, what he's saying is this. May you become the king. May you be enthroned as king. Now, you may consider these things, and you're sensible people, but the appeal that he makes to this end is actually along the lines of before.

And you will notice this. If I am still alive—verse 14—if I haven't died before all this happens, show me the steadfast love of the Lord that I may not die. Now, we'll deal with this in just a moment, but you notice, if I'm still alive, show me the steadfast love of the Lord so that I don't die.

Okay? First to notice is the fact that the same word is used here as was used back in verse 8. Back in verse 8, you will recall, it was used by David in making his appeal to Jonathan. Deal kindly with your servant, verse 8, for you have brought your servant into a covenant of the Lord with you.

So that is his appeal. Now, the same way, show me the steadfast love of the Lord. Now, remember that the two of them are out in the field. And the reason they're out in the field is because David is afraid of Saul and appeals to Jonathan for his help. But now what is strange, and yet striking, is that it is Jonathan who's the one who's afraid. And Jonathan is essentially saying here words that are most familiar on the lips of somebody much later in the game and far, far on. You remember the man turned to Jesus and he said, Lord, remember me when you come into your kingdom.

That is essentially what Jonathan is saying here. If I'm still alive, show me the steadfast love of the Lord. I don't want to die.

Don't cut off your steadfast love from my house forever. When, notice, Yahweh cuts off every one of the enemies of David from the face of the earth. Now, who was enemy number one of David? Saul, Jonathan's father. What is Jonathan saying here?

He's at least saying this. David, I take my side with you. You show me the steadfast love of the Lord when you come into your kingdom, and I know that on that occasion Yahweh will defeat all of your enemies.

But in the midst of it all, save me. Now, the background to this is pretty straightforward. The historical practice at this time, in this period of history, was that when a new kingdom was established, it was customary for the previous members of the previous regime to be purged. To be purged. You just get rid of them. Now, we see this in the transition of political power. Somebody comes in, and to the extent that they're able to, they get rid of all of the previous group. And that conventional political policy was straightforwardly consolidation by liquidation. So what did you do?

You simply got rid of them all. So it is in that context that Jonathan's appeal is being made. The point, you see, to which this little interruption, as I put it, comes is to make the case clearly, because of the future dimension of it, that there has come a time now for Jonathan, in his love for David, the future king, to set himself against the enemies of that king, no matter who those enemies may be.

And in this case, that first of all means his father—that the familial ties of blood and life and privilege and opportunity and so on that are represented within the house of Saul, which are being dismantled as we read, confront Jonathan with a decision. What will this mean ten minutes from now? What will this mean ten months from now? What will this mean ten years from now?

What will this mean forever? And the point that we ought to make sure we do not miss is that this is driving us forward to the future king, to the king of kings, so that each one will be forced to decide whether they stand with him or they stand with his enemies. Now, it is this appeal which is made, and at this point in the story, that's all we have. The appeal is a straightforward appeal.

I appeal to you on the basis of love. We have to actually go considerably forward to find out if David actually follows through. And because I know many of you will be unable to eat your lunch, if you don't at least get some resolution to this, you can turn to 2 Samuel chapter 9. We will find here in 2 Samuel 9 that the appeal that Jonathan made, David honored. So here in 2 Samuel 9 verse 1, And David said, Is there still anyone left of the house of Saul, that I may show him kindness, hesed, steadfast love, for Jonathan's sake?

And then you have this little detailing of this group of individuals. You pick it up in verse 6. And Mephibosheth the son of Jonathan, son of Saul, came to David and fell on his face and paid homage. And David said, Mephibosheth. And he answered, Behold, I am your servant. And David said to him, Do not fear, for I will show you kindness for the sake of your father Jonathan. And I will restore to you all the land of Saul your father, and you shall eat at my table always. So it will become clear to us, as the journey continues, that David is a man of loyalty. He honors the covenant promise in being made to his friend. And if Jonathan's plea pointed us to the man who was crucified beside Jesus, then surely what we see here in David is an indication of the loving commitment of Jesus as King to those who are his own. In John, as Gospel, John records, in chapter 13, these words, Now before the feast of the Passover, when Jesus knew that his hour had come to depart out of this world to the Father, having loved his own who were in the world, he loved them to the end. He loved them to the end. The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases.

And the endurance in the immediate for David, and the encouragement in the prospect of the long haul for Jonathan, and the issue for us of the ten-ten-ten forever dimension, the answer is the same in each case. The steadfast love of the Lord. It's the love of every love's the best. It is the love that is not some kind of squishy sentimental notion, but it is the love of which was read for us in 1 John 4, that here in his love, not that we loved God but that he loved us, and he sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins. In other words, that this King wore a crown of thorns, that this King's love extended to the giving of himself.

And having loved his own, he loved them to the very end. How do you know that he will keep his promise? Because he promised. How could Jonathan have any assurance?

Because of David's covenant commitment, and vice versa. Some people—I meet them all the time—they're telling me, Oh, I don't get that, Alistair. I think what I have to do is I've got to try my best.

I've got to do my best. I've got to keep this commitment and that commitment and the next commitment, and perhaps when I finally get it all front-loaded in that way, I will have sufficient to be able to present myself before God. What a bizarre idea, when you consider it in the light of the love that drew salvation's plan, the love that brought it down to man, the mighty gulf that God did span at Calvary. Because, you see, mercy there was great, and grace was free, and pardon there is multiplied to the one who will come and say, according to your steadfast love, You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies, you anoint my head with oil. I wonder, did Jesus have that psalm in mind when on that amazing occasion that lady came in, and she broke that alabaster jar of ointment, and she anointed his head? And his own folks said, This is kind of ridiculous.

Why would she do this? This could have been sold and given to the poor, and so on. You remember the event. And Jesus says, Hey, not so fast.

She is preparing me for my burial. His enemies were all around him. He was anointed. David has been anointed. David is going to become king. Jonathan says, If I'm still alive when you do, show me the steadfast love of the Lord so that I don't die. And David, I am relying entirely upon your word.

My dear friends, if you are in Christ, that is exactly what you're going to say on that day. Nothing in my hand I bring simply to your cross I cling. Naked come to you for dress, and helpless come to you for rest.

I'm a stinker, and to your fountain now I fly. Wash me, Jesus, or I'm a dead man, for I rest in your steadfast love. My friends, I say to you again, you're either resting in your morality or you're resting in God's mercy.

May your proud endeavors to patch yourself up crumble before you before the day is over. And may you cast yourself on the steadfast love of the Lord, which never, ever comes to an end. You're listening to Truth for Life with Alistair Begg.

Today's message is titled Steadfast Love. Because of our commitment at Truth for Life to teach the Bible with clarity and relevance, along with the daily teaching you here on this program, we also carefully select books to recommend to you that will help you dive deeper into biblical topics. Today we want to recommend to you a book called The Air We Breathe. This is a book that will give you the history behind many of our modern values. You'll learn how things like freedom and progress, even science, are all firmly rooted in Christianity.

Ask for your copy of the book The Air We Breathe when you give a donation through our mobile app or online at slash donate. By the way, next week Alistair is hosting the Basics 2023 Conference at Parkside Church. It's a three-day conference. It starts May 8th, goes through the 10th. It's specifically for pastors and leaders in ministry. This year Alistair is joined by guests Colin Smith and Herschel York as they teach pastors and church leaders about what faithful Christian ministry looks like. If you weren't able to register for Basics this year or can't come for whatever reason, don't worry. You can watch the live stream of this year's presentations for free.

Go to Please remember to pray for the attendees who will be coming to the conference. Pray for safety. Pray that they'll be edified, that God will be glorified in all aspects of this event from beginning to end. I'm Bob Lapine. We hope you have a great weekend. Monday we'll find out what brought about the breaking point in King Saul's relationship with his own son Jonathan. The Bible teaching of Alistair Begg is furnished by Truth for Life where the Learning is for Living.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-05-05 05:12:28 / 2023-05-05 05:20:20 / 8

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