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King on the Run (Part 2 of 2)

Truth for Life / Alistair Begg
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April 24, 2024 4:00 am

King on the Run (Part 2 of 2)

Truth for Life / Alistair Begg

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April 24, 2024 4:00 am

In movies, we often cheer for the “good guy” who always does the right thing—so it can be disappointing when a hero of the faith, like David, succumbs to cowardice, fear, and deceit. We’ll explore one such episode on Truth For Life with Alistair Begg.


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When we go to the movies we like to cheer for the good guy, the one who does the wrong right thing, and it can be disappointing if that hero gives in to cowardice or deceit. Today on Truth for Life we're picking up the story of King David and we find him lying to Ahimelech the priest. We'll find out why even this strange episode in the life of David can be an encouragement to us. Alistair Begg is teaching from the opening verses of 1 Samuel chapter 21.

Remember what we were all told at Sunday school? So a thought, reap an action. So an action, reap a habit. So a habit, reap a character. So a character, reap a destiny.

It is never right, and it is never good. And in actual fact, when we get to chapter 22, we will discover the impact of this lie on the lives of many, many people who died at the sword because he didn't tell the truth. He could have told the truth.

He could have. He could have trusted God and told the truth, but he trusted himself and told a lie. Well, he wants to suggest, you see, to Ahimelech that everything is fine and dandy.

But it isn't. And the question, of course, that is inevitable as we look at the text is, well, why does he actually do this? Is he telling a lie here, as some people suggest, to protect the priest by screening him, as it were, from the responsibility of having granted refuge to a known outlaw? Or does he do it, which I think is more likely, because he felt that he couldn't trust Ahimelech?

There was no way that he could necessarily bring him into his confidence. So what we have before us, then, is this collapse. Courage and faith have given way to cowardice and fear.

He has stood tall against a giant, and he now shrinks before a priest. Again, I say to you, as I said this morning, let us not be too quick to sit in judgment. And let us remind ourselves at the same time that the text is not interrupted by any kind of ethical comment on the part of the narrator. In other words, the issue of the lies are not addressed—not because it's unimportant, but because the narrative is actually simply reporting what has happened.

It is not recommending what has happened. Now, before Ahimelech has time for a follow-up question, if you like, David makes his request. Now, then, what do you have on hand? Give me five loaves of bread or whatever is here. Why five loaves? Why five loaves? I'm sure there is somebody who has an answer for that.

I want you to know I don't. The best I can imagine is that he said five to keep up the pretense of having other people to share it with. And he said five, because if he had said much more than that, he wouldn't even have been able to handle it.

Beyond that, I've got no idea. Now, is this day, then, the Sabbath? It may well be. If it is, then it ties in so wonderfully well, doesn't it, with Luke chapter 6 and the way in which Jesus makes reference to this incident?

We can't say that with any sense of confidence. But when the bread was replaced, as it was, according to verse 6—just jumping ahead there—so the priest gave him the holy bread—there was no bread there, but the bread of the presence, which is removed from before the Lord to be replaced by hot bread on the day that it is taken away. So it didn't sit there and just languish, as it were.

No, it was removed. And when the bread was replaced, then the bread that was removed was now available to be eaten, but only by the priests. They didn't take it out in the street and say, Do anyone need a loaf?

But no, that was clearly how it was to be. That is what makes it quite striking that Ahimelech, then, makes an exception. And he makes an exception here, and he says, I can't give you any regular bread, so goodness, I don't know what was going on that he didn't have any bread, except sacred bread, but those are the facts, I've got nothing I can give you except the bread of the presence.

And I'll give that to you. If you can give me the assurance that your young men—of course, there are no young men. But anyway, if you can give me—so it's going to be very easy to give the assurance—if you can give me the assurance that your young men are euphemistically kosher—okay?—kosher, according again to this particular question of having kept himself from sexual relations within the immediate proximity of this event. Now, we would need to turn again to the Levitical law in order to do justice to this.

I don't want to do that tonight, for a number of reasons. But I commend to you your own particular study in that area. And there you will find out why it is that the symbolism of the Levitical law made these kind of provisos. It all has to do with being symbolic of death, with the outgoing of life. And in that post-outgoing-of-life period, then it symbolizes death. And in the symbol of death, the individual is then rendered ceremonially unclean, and therefore until that period of time has elapsed, they are now disbarred from any event such as this.

And so, he decides that if they can give a reasonable answer to that question, then we can go ahead. Incidentally, it just comes to my mind, but talking about David and Bathsheba, you remember in that dreadful business, you remember when David says to Uriah, Go down to your house and wash your feet. That has got to mean something else than wash your feet, okay? I think that got cleaned up.

Don't misunderstand me. It means what it says, wash your feet. And so, and Uriah, but not just wash your feet. And Uriah went out of the king's house and there followed him a present from the king. But Uriah slept at the door of the king's house with all the servants of his lord and did not go down to his house. When they told David, Uriah did not go down to his house, David said to Uriah, Why? Have you not come from a journey? You come from a journey, you're gonna sleep with your wife, right? Why did you not go down to your house?

Uriah said to David, The ark and Israel and Judah dwell in booths, and Joab and the servants of my lord are camping in the open field. Shall I then go to my house to eat and to drink and to lie with my wife? As you live and as your soul lives, I will not do this thing. What an amazing expression on a fundamentally practical level of the fact that what is being addressed here certainly is not this. This is not some reference to some kind of ascetic view of marriage.

It is not that at all. But it is rather making clear—making clear—the fact that in this strange episode, God's purpose is going to unfold in a peculiar way, even as this particular proviso is made. No, says David, we're all good.

It's always the case, our everything about us, our bodies, our backpacks, our things, they're all entirely kosher, they're all in clean condition. Here's the question, if you're reading your Bible and thinking. How does a himalek decide to hold fast to that question and yet bend the rules on the question of the fact that only the priests can eat the bread? Because he does.

He seems to pick and choose between them. Let me tell you what the majority view is. The majority view is that what we have here is simply a case of putting compassion ahead of ritual, or, if you like, the ceremonial bowing to the moral—as in, if you like, the passage in Luke chapter 6. They are eating the grain and so on, and Jesus is making the point that these Pharisees cannot use the law of God to oppose the Lord's King.

I don't think that it is just saying that. I think that our friend Woodhouse suggests that the significance of this incident has to do with the one who is making the request—that the reason for the exception is because it is David who makes the request—because he would not, suggests Woodhouse, offer this bread to just anybody who came off the street looking for something to eat, but that he does so because he is dealing with the anointed king. You may actually find it helpful to go all the way back in the story and to remind yourself of a tiny incident where, after Saul is anointed king, he comes up and into the community, and of the things that are brought to him and offered to him are three loaves of bread, I think, if I remember correctly. And the point that I think we made there in passing was there is some kind of symbolism of this in the provision of God for the servant of God. So Ahimelech then, instead of opposing God's King by strident obedience to God's law, by this decision provides sustenance for God's anointed king.

He spreads, if you like, a table before him in the presence of his enemies. Now, you may be caused to say to yourself, Well, I wonder, does David deserve it? Does he deserve this?

Surely, he should have been chased out of the building, after all, telling all these lies. No, he doesn't deserve it. But neither do we deserve it. We pray each day, Lord, give us this day our daily bread. If he only gave us our daily bread on the basis of how well we've been doing, most of us would be skeletons. Dale Ralph David has it wonderfully when he says, And we receive this bread from God, not because we're godly but because God is gracious. And the anointed king, in all of his disheveled chaos, finds sustenance from the priest of God because he is the anointed of God and walks under God's favor.

Now, we could stop there, but I would like to just try and finish, if you will stay in the room. In verse 7, the narrative pauses to inform us of something. And it's just here in order to almost tease us as readers, because we're immediately going to say, Well, I wonder why this is mentioned here. A certain man of the servants of Saul was there that day. Now a certain man. You remember, the servants of Saul, back in chapter 19, had been present when Saul spoke to them and said to Jonathan, his son, and to all his servants, Let's kill David. Okay? So, a certain man, a servant of Saul, was there.

Consequently, being there, he was privy to these proceedings. His name was Doeg the Edomite. There's something about his name that makes me instinctively not like him.

And that's not fair, because I never met him. But it's just like, you know, I'm going to call people that when I get annoyed with them. I'm going to say, You know, what's your problem, Doeg the Edomite?

Now, it doesn't sound good—this little thing here does not sound good, because it isn't good. But we have to hold our fire, and we have to wait until chapter 22. The word that is translated here, the chief of Saul's herdsmen, has potential for also being translated the mighty one or the violent one—in other words, the last man that you would want to be listening in while this event is taking place. And we're going to learn in the next chapter the horrible consequences of this visit of David to Nob and how those consequences pivot on the presence of Doeg here. It says that he was detained before the Lord.

I don't know what that means. Was he detained because he was ceremonially waiting for something? It's all conjecture. All we know is that the Lord had him there at that point, and he was listening in.

So we must push to the end. David has his five loaves, which of course will sustain him physically, but only if he is still alive. If he's killed prematurely, then he won't even have a chance to eat them. And so now he makes his second request. Do you have a spear or a sword at hand? Have you not here a spear or sword at hand? I think almost the way in which it is rendered here in English suggests to us that David actually knew the answer to this question—that it would be surprising if he was unaware of what had happened to the prize possession that was his as a result of the triumph over Goliath. And it may well be that the very reason for David showing up in Nob is because he needed that sword. He knew that after he had fled, after the encounter out in the field with Jonathan, that he couldn't just keep wandering around without some means of protection. Do you have a sword or a spear here?

He'd only used it once, but he'd used it to great effect. Or Ahimelech has actually a chance to ask why he would be on a secret mission without a sword, why he would be out here unarmed. He adds to the story, I have brought neither my sword nor my weapons with me, because the king's business required haste. Well, of course, he's made up this story about the king's business to start with, and he can't let it alone. He comes back to it. You know, once you tell one lie, you're almost inevitably going to have to tell another one to fill it in or to cover it up. It's a never-ending journey.

That's why it's never good to start telling lies at all. Ironically, the king's business, of course, was what? The real king's business—the king Saul's business—was to kill him. And it requires haste. Ahimelech's description of the sword is fascinating in itself, isn't it?

And the priest said, Or the sword of Goliath the Philistine, whom you struck down in the valley of Elah. Like he didn't know that? He's not informing him. I think he's being deferential towards him. He's recognizing this. Maybe he's worried that if he gives it to him, he might use it on him.

You're the one who struck him down. You've got it wrapped in a cloth behind the ephod. And if you will take that, you can take it, because there's nothing other than that here. And David says, Well, there is none like that. Give it to me. There is none like that. Give it to me. Just an aside, and then I will finish. When I came on this phrase here, the concluding phrase of verse 9, I said to myself, Now, there is a phrase that will preach, you know.

There is none like that. Give it to me. And I said to myself, I bet if I go to Spurgeon, we'll find it right on cue. Spurgeon has an amazing sermon that entirely ignores the context of 1 Samuel 21, pays no attention to my friend Doig or anybody else, but preaches a masterful sermon under the heading, There is none like that. And I would have brought it this evening. Actually, if I'd brought it, I would have preached it.

It would have been more edifying. But he has like a, There is none like that when it comes to the Word of God. There is none like that when it comes to the person of Christ. There is none like that when it comes to the work of Jesus in the church and so on.

It's an immense piece of work. But you couldn't really call it biblical exposition. And in fact, I said to myself, If only I could get into that, it would be so much easier for myself and for the congregation. They wouldn't have to sit there and listen as I pooled my ignorance with theirs, working my way through these verses. So he gets the sword, and what does he do? He rose, and he fled that day from Saul. From Saul! But Saul hasn't even been in the story. Yeah, but it's Saul. It's Saul.

He's afraid of him. He knows that Saul is out for him. And so that's where we leave him, heading now to another place, to seek refuge in arguably a very unlikely place. If whatever we make of this strange episode, we mustn't lose sight of the fact that we are following the footsteps of God's anointed King. As I said to you this morning, the final third of 1 Samuel is the journey of the anointed King towards his final destination. And the final third of the Gospels is the journey of Christ, God's King, on his way to his destination. And so, when we come to this and we try and do what we said this morning—remind ourselves of the primary purpose of Scripture—when we take what is obscure and try and bring clarity to it from other passages, then we remind ourselves that the Bible is always moving us forward, especially when we consider the picture of the King, so that we would be aware of the fact that in Jesus, something greater than David has come. When you look at this story, there were only a few people that were apparently on David's side. Michal, presumably, Jonathan, Samuel—small group for an anointed King.

Go back and read Luke 6 before you go to bed. And after that little incident, it then says quite straightforwardly that the people, in response to that encounter where he replies using 1 Samuel 21, the people were filled with fury, and they began to discuss what they might do to Jesus. So to the extent that we embrace the fact that the Bible is a book about Jesus, then in considering this somewhat forlorn King here, our gaze goes beyond it to he who is the great King and he who also was despised, opposed, rejected, humiliated, and yet died in our place. You're listening to Truth for Life, and that is Alistair Begg as he concludes a message titled King on the Run.

Alistair returns in just a minute to close the program. While David was a King on the Run, his story points forward to Jesus, the conquering King. And if you'd like to learn more about how Jesus fulfills this and other roles, you can download a book co-written by Alistair and Sinclair Ferguson. The book is called Name Above All Names. This is a book that takes an in-depth look at seven unique qualities of Jesus' identity. It offers some remarkable insights from these two seasoned pastors to give you a deeper appreciation for the person and work of Jesus.

The book is available today as a free ebook, and the free download includes a companion study guide. Simply go to slash name, or if you're listening on the app or on our website, click the Name Above All Names image at the bottom of the homepage. While you're on the website, don't forget to check out the booklet, Does the Old Testament Really Point to Jesus? This is a quick read that will help you connect the Old Testament with the New to see how the whole Bible is indeed about Jesus. The book is yours when you give a donation to support Truth for Life.

Visit slash donate or call us at 888-588-7884. Now here's Alistair to close with prayer. God, our Father, we thank you that when your word finds a resting place in our hearts and minds we build something of a reservoir to which we can return.

Some days it seems more absorbable than others. Thank you that eventually, in the wonder of your revelation, all the pieces of the puzzle eventually fit together and form up in the person of Jesus, who is the King of Kings and the Lord of Lords. So grant that as we see him in all of his ascended glory that we might not be like those who opposed David, who sought his death, that we certainly might not be like this doig fellow. We don't want to be like the Pharisees. Lord, we want to embrace and love and follow Christ, in whose name we pray. Amen. I'm Bob Lapine. Once we start going down a deceitful path, it often becomes more and more convoluted. Tomorrow we will continue to follow David's crazy story. The Bible teaching of Alistair Begg is furnished by Truth for Life, where the Learning is for Living.
Whisper: medium.en / 2024-04-24 08:51:38 / 2024-04-24 09:00:32 / 9

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