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How Crazy Is This!

Truth for Life / Alistair Begg
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April 25, 2024 4:00 am

How Crazy Is This!

Truth for Life / Alistair Begg

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April 25, 2024 4:00 am

David’s deceitful path became more convoluted as he fled in fear. That’s not what we expect from God’s anointed king! So what should we do when God’s unfolding plan seems to contradict His promises? Explore the answer with Alistair Begg on Truth For Life.


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As King David was fleeing in fear from his enemies he found himself going down a deceitful path and things got more convoluted. Certainly not what we would expect from God's anointed king. So what do we do when we see God's chosen king acting in an ungodly way?

Alistair Begg explores the answers today on Truth for Life. Well, I invite you to turn again to 1 Samuel and to chapter 21. It's some time since we were first introduced to David, to the youngest of Jesse's sons.

What has happened, of course, in the ensuing period of time is that Samuel has been dispatched by God to anoint David as the future king. And that is on account of the fact that Saul has been rejected by God as king. And Saul could not handle his rejection, and he could not handle David's rise to fame. And Saul eyed him from that day on. Now, it is of the utmost importance that we do not underestimate Saul's hatred of David. The extent of his hatred of David virtually knew no bounds. I've said I won't do this, but we need to go back just into chapter 20 for a moment, where you realize that when envy, when jealousy, when hatred seizes somebody, it is volatile.

It can come out in all kinds of ways and in dreadful times. Verse 30. Saul's anger was kindled against Jonathan, against his son. And he said to him, You son of a perverse, rebellious woman, do I not know that you have chosen the son of Jesse to your own shame and to the shame of your mother's nakedness? For as long as the son of Jesse"—that's David—"lives on the earth, neither you nor your kingdom shall be established." You see what he's saying? He's saying, Look what you're doing to yourself. You're actually taking the side of this fellow.

You've got no chance now ever of becoming king. Therefore, send and bring him to me. I'm going to kill him. Then Jonathan answered Saul his father, Why should he be put to death? What has he done?

And here you go. But Saul hurled his spear at him to strike him. So Jonathan knew that his father was determined to put David to death. That is the extent of the animosity. And therefore, it seems perfectly clear that David feared Saul more than he feared the Philistines.

It's vital that we grasp that. Otherwise, this is really quite an unbelievable few verses. Kidner, in just a sentence, says, To have fled from Saul to Gath of all places, the hometown of Goliath, took the courage of despair. So, he's escaping. Escaping from Saul—in order to do that, he needs to get out of Saul's domain. So, when you read that opening tenth verse there—"And David rose and fled that day from Saul"—it doesn't mean that he was with Saul and that he just walked away from Saul or ran away from Saul. It means that Saul's dominion extended over the realm in which David was living. And therefore, in order to escape from Saul, he needs to escape, he needs to get beyond his reach.

And he goes, remarkably, to the city of Goliath himself. Now, clearly, he had to be very, very afraid. Very afraid. He was very much afraid, it says in verse 12.

Very afraid to go and try and hide in a place where he was persona non grata. Add to this fact the fact that he has taken with him Goliath's sword. David said, Well, there's none like that.

Surely, there's none like that, both in terms of its stature and the use to which it had been put. And I think, actually, that there is almost a humorous element in this. This is almost Shakespearean in the picture that we have. And David rose and fled that day from Saul and went to Achish, the king of Gath, and he had with him Goliath's sword.

Now, what are we to do with this, and how do we handle this? The interpretation of Old Testament narrative is difficult at the best of times, and it is a wonderful thing when we realize that elsewhere in the Scriptures we have material that allows us to make sure that we don't go wrong by way of understanding and by way of application. So, for example, if you're able to turn to Psalm 56, you will notice that it has a heading to the choir master, according to the dove on far-off Terebinz, a mictim, or a golden song, or a peculiarly wonderful song of David, when the Philistines seized him in Gath. So, what was going on in his mind?

Now, think about it. He's on the run, and all of this—and more besides, presumably—is caught up in his thinking as he writes, Be gracious to me, O God, verse 1, for man tramples on me. All day long an attacker oppresses me. My enemies trample on me all day long, for many attack me proudly. Verse 5, All day long they injure my cause. All their thoughts are against me for evil. They stir up strife, they lurk, they watch my steps as they have waited for my life. Now, when you take that psalm and then you turn back here to verse 11, you realize that his fleeing was literally from one enemy to another.

And if you like, he picks his poison. And he says, I'd rather take my chances with the Philistines than allow Saul to get ahold of me. So, from fleeing to fearing. And you see there in verse 12, And David took these words to heart and was very much afraid.

What has happened? Well, we're told in verse 11. His fearing is as a result of being recognized. Now, I ask you, did he really think he could mingle in the city of Gath in Cognito? No doubt he looked different from his day in the sun when he took on Goliath. And certainly, I don't imagine that he decided—I don't know what he did with his sword. It's a question for the ages, really. But I don't imagine that he walks into Gath waving the sword around his head.

I mean, that really would be crazy. But whatever hopes of anonymity he might have cherished, they are almost immediately dashed when the servants of Achish recognize him for whom the song was written, or about whom the song was written. And the servants of Achish said to him, Is not this David the king of the land?

Isn't he the one that they sing about and dance? Saul has struck down his thousands, And David his tens of thousands. What hope did he have for anonymity?

Now, one of the things that we've noticed—I hope that we have noticed as we've been going through—is that in a quite remarkable way, every so often you have from an unlikely source a statement, and in that statement, the person or the persons say actually more than they even know they're saying. Now, the king of the land was not a formal title in any way at all. But it was a statement that was enough to strike fear into Achish and fear into David himself. You see, it would have been one thing for him to have gone into Gath as an exile or as a refugee. And maybe he was hoping to do that. But the word is now out on the street that he's this fellow who is very famous from whereance he's come, and we're referring to him as the king of the land.

Now, think about this for a moment. That was the problem that caused him to flee to Gath. Right? That the people were saying this very thing. They were singing this song. David's really the main man. Saul couldn't handle it. When David says to Himelech earlier, the reason that I don't have my stuff with me is because I'm on the king's business, there's quite an irony in that statement insofar as the king's business—namely, King Saul—was to kill David. So it is because the word is on the street that he's actually the incumbent king that he runs away to Gath, and now in Gath it is the same story that causes him the same problem. And so, when he realized that they were singing the song and what the people were saying in reference to it, he took these words to heart and was very much afraid. Interestingly, this is the only place in 1 and 2 Samuel in which we are told that David was afraid of threats against him. There is another place in 2 Samuel where it speaks of him being afraid, but he's afraid of the Lord.

This is the only instance in which he declares this. If you look again at Psalm 56, we can be helped in this. And rehearsing verses 3 and 4, he says to himself, When I am afraid, I put my trust in you. In God whose word I praise, in God I trust, I shall not be afraid.

What can flesh do to me? Okay, now, do you get this? I was very much afraid. You know, I tell people this all the time, and they tell me, Well, I'm not afraid of this, I'm not afraid of that. I say, Well, I wish I was you. I really do.

Because I am. So, for example, you know, when we sing those lines, I will not fear that final day. I never sing that. I sing, and though I fear that final day.

That's just to be honest. Death is the last enemy to be destroyed. Death is not natural.

Death is God's punishment for sin. We ought to recoil from it. Surely we trust in God. But nevertheless, in the true essence of our humanity, we recoil from it. So what is David doing here? Well, you see, he's taking himself in hand, isn't he?

I was very much afraid. But here in the 56th Psalm, we learn what he did. You see, faith here—faith on David's part, in response to his fear—is a deliberate act. It's not a feeling. It's not a feeling.

It's a deliberate act in defiance of his own emotional state. I will trust and not be afraid. I am horribly afraid.

What are we going to do? You see, the real issue is an issue that strikes us all. And it is simply this. When the providences of God appear to run counter to his promises, so that the unfolding story of my life seems to run up against what God has promised. And that's going to be the experience of everybody that lives the Christian life. And if you like, what we discover and will discover finally at the end—and this is dangerous territory for me, but I think that the providences of God and the provincences of God meet in a kind of contrapuntal motion, thereby making beautiful music out of that which seems to be discordant. It's really Romans 8, isn't it? What shall we say, then, in response to this? Well, we'll say what David says. I'm going to trust in God. If God be for us, who can be against us? Now, I'm greatly helped by this on a number of fronts, and I hope you might be too.

It certainly will reward your further thought. But in verse 13—and in light of what we've just looked at in 56, right? So he's very much afraid. Faith on his part is a defiant response to his own emotional state. And then what does he do in verse 13? Well, I'm so glad that it doesn't say, So David said, Oh well, God'll do something. Oh well, we'll just wait and see what God does.

It always sounds very wonderful, very pious. Now, there's no hint of that in this, is there? There's no hint of the let go and let God. There's no more of a let go and let God here than there was when big Goliath came up against him, when he was towered over by this giant, and presumably his knees, if you could have heard them under all the clamor of everything else going on, they would have made quite a racket as they knocked together. But he trusts in God, but he doesn't say, Okay, God, go ahead and kill Goliath.

No, not at all. Well, we come finally, fleeing from one enemy to another, fearing as a result of his being recognized. And then he decides how he's going to handle this.

So he changed his behavior before them. He fakes insanity as a way of escape. Is there no limit to David? This ready-faced, handsome, lovely-eyes boy, shepherd boy, unlikely choice out of all the sons of Jesse?

This soldier boy who takes on the giant? And now we're introduced to him as a thespian. And his ability as an actor is enough to convince Achish that he's crazy. Let's say it to you again.

How crazy is this? You see, he was in their hands. Notice that little phrase there in verse 13. He was in their hands.

In other words, he was in custody. And again, when you take the psalms, the poems that he's written, and set them in line with this, you realize that if we got the impression back in verse 10 that he went into town and went to have supper with the king and so on, then I think we've gone wrong. When it says that he went to Achish, it probably means that he left the jurisdiction and the realm of Saul's influence and went into the realm of Achish's influence. But as a result of the recognition, the servants of the king have taken him into their hands. And you will notice, down in verse 14, that this makes sense, then, of the king's question, Why then have you brought him to me?

If he was there, they wouldn't be bringing him. Anyway, it's not a huge thing. It's not a main and a plain thing. But he changes his behavior, and he gives a command performance, pretending to be crazy. Starts banging his head on the doors, scratching graffiti, drooling on his beard.

An indignity to the beard was considered in his day an intolerable insult, and certainly would have given no indication of normality. So there you have it. And then Achish said to his servants, Behold, you see, this man is mad. Why did you bring him here?

Don't you think I have enough crazy people to put up with without adding another? Get him out of here. Get him out!

I don't want him in my house. Now, as we draw this to a close, notice that this is a strange deliverance. But it is a deliverance. The ultimate explanation of what happens in this incident does not lie in David's ingenuity, cunning as he was. But once again, his poems provide the answer. The thirteenth verse of 56—"You have delivered my soul from death, yes, my feet from falling." In other words, he doesn't congratulate himself.

He doesn't make a run for the cave of Adullam, saying, You know what? I'm really a lot better than people understand. I can do it all. I can kill giants. I can shepherd sheep. I can act the crazy man. I'm really pretty good. No wonder you're gonna make me the king.

No. You have delivered my soul from death. You have delivered my feet from falling. Psalm 34 drives it home for us, especially, again, the title. Psalm 34, the title of David, when he changed his behavior before Abimelech—which is another name for Achish—as he changed his behavior before Abimelech so that he drove him out and he went away. And what does he tell us?

He said, Well, let me explain to you what happened. I sought the LORD, and he answered me, and he delivered me from all my fears. You know, those who look to him are radiant, their faces will never be covered in shame. I'm the poor man that cried, and the LORD heard him, saved him. You know, the fact is, the angel of the LORD encamps around those who fear him and delivers them.

I imagine him in the cave to which we will come next time. I imagine him sitting with the company, the group that now was beginning to gather around him, and saying, you know, through all the changing scenes of life, in sorrow and in joy, and then saying to them, O magnify the LORD with me, and come, let us exalt his name together. You see, because set within the big panorama of the story of Scripture, what the opponents of David were doing was setting themselves, in terms of Psalm 2, setting themselves against the LORD and against his anointed. David was the LORD's anointed.

That is the significance of it all. And David, in that circumstance, was distressed, and he was persecuted, but he was not forsaken. I leave it to you to follow the line out, to realize that one day a king would come, the king, who would be subjected, as David was, to hatred and to cruelty. And this king would be forsaken. And he would be forsaken in order that those who trust in him might be forgiven. And to come right up to date, Jesus, our King, is still opposed, and he's still despised.

And yet he offers to those of us who will humble ourselves a deliverance we don't deserve. It seems that the overwhelming tide was against David. The numbers that would amass against him were large. The numbers that were going to be drawn to him and side with him were small. It's the story of the church. The numbers that opposed Jesus as king, they're large. Who is on the Lord's side?

That's the question. Tomorrow into work, tomorrow into play, back into the rough-and-tumble of life. Are you able to say, By your call of mercy, by your grace divine, we are on the Lord's side? Savior, we are thine.

You're listening to Truth for Life with Alistair Begg. He is titled today's message, How Crazy Is This? As we are working our way through this narrative from the Old Testament book of 1 Samuel, I wonder if you've considered that Jesus knew this story, the story of Saul and David, better than anyone else. Jesus is an expert on God's Word because he himself is the very Word of God incarnate. In the Old Testament he is predicted, foreshadowed, and promised more than 400 times. So how do we identify where the Old Testament is referring to the coming Messiah? Well, we want to recommend to you a short booklet titled, Does the Old Testament Really Point to Jesus? It explains six different ways you can see Jesus coming predicted in the Old Testament. Ask for your copy of the booklet, Does the Old Testament Really Point to Jesus? when you give a donation to support the Bible teaching ministry you hear on Truth for Life. You can give a one-time gift at slash donate or you can arrange to set up an automatic monthly donation when you visit slash truth partner or call us at 888-588-7884.

Thanks for joining us. As we're learning in our study of the life of David, God's people aren't given a free pass from daunting circumstances or from suffering. So how should faithful believers face uncertainty in troubling times? We'll find out tomorrow. The Bible teaching of Alistair Begg is furnished by Truth for Life where the Learning is for Living.
Whisper: medium.en / 2024-04-25 07:45:34 / 2024-04-25 07:53:45 / 8

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