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“His Craft and Power Are Great” (Part 1 of 2)

Truth for Life / Alistair Begg
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April 26, 2024 4:00 am

“His Craft and Power Are Great” (Part 1 of 2)

Truth for Life / Alistair Begg

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April 26, 2024 4:00 am

When we follow David’s story in 1 Samuel, we realize that God’s chosen aren’t given a free pass from daunting circumstances and suffering. So how can the faithful face uncertainty and troubling times? Hear the answer on Truth For Life with Alistair Begg.



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This listener-funded program features the clear, relevant Bible teaching of Alistair Begg. Today’s program and nearly 3,000 messages can be streamed and shared for free at tfl.org thanks to the generous giving from monthly donors called Truthpartners. Learn more about this Gospel-sharing team or become one today. Thanks for listening to Truth For Life!





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David had been anointed by God to be the king of Israel and on Truth for Life as we study along with Alistair Begg. Well, let me invite you to follow along as I read from 1 Samuel and from chapter 22. 1 Samuel 22, and from verse 1.

David departed from there and escaped to the cave of Adullam. And when his brothers and all his father's house heard it, they went down there to him. And everyone who was in distress and everyone who was in debt and everyone who was bitter in soul gathered to him, and he became commander over them.

And there were with him about four hundred men. And David went from there to Mizpah of Moab. And he said to the king of Moab, Please let my father and my mother stay with you, till I know what God will do for me. And he left them with the king of Moab, and they stayed with him all the time that David was in the stronghold. Then the prophet Gad said to David, Do not remain in the stronghold, depart and go into the land of Judah. So David departed and went into the forest of Hereth. Now Saul heard that David was discovered and the men who were with him. Saul was sitting at Gibeah under the tamarisk tree on the height, with his spear in his hand, and all his servants were standing about him. And Saul said to his servants who stood about him, Here now, people of Benjamin, will the son of Jesse give every one of you fields and vineyards?

Will he make you all commanders of thousands and commanders of hundreds that all of you have conspired against me? No one discloses to me when my son makes a covenant with the son of Jesse. None of you is sorry for me or discloses to me that my son has stirred up my servant against me to lie in wait as at this day. Then answered Doig the Edomite, who stood by the servants of Saul, I saw the son of Jesse coming to Nob, to Ahimelech the son of Ahitub. And he inquired of the Lord for him and gave him provisions and gave him the sword of Goliath the Philistine. Then the king sent to summon Ahimelech the priest, the son of Ahitub, and all his father's house, the priests who were at Nob. And all of them came to the king. And Saul said, Here now, son of Ahitub. And he answered, Here I am, my lord. And Saul said to him, Why have you conspired against me, you and the son of Jesse, in that you have given him bread and a sword and have inquired of God for him, so that he has risen against me to lie in wait as at this day? Then Ahimelech answered the king, And who among all your servants is so faithful as David, who is the king's son-in-law and captain over your bodyguard and honored in your house? Is today the first time that I have inquired of God for him?

No. Let not the king impute anything to his servant or to all the house of my father, for your servant has known nothing of all this, much or little. Then the king said, You shall surely die, Ahimelech, you and all your father's house. And the king said to the guard who stood about him, Turn and kill the priests of the Lord, because their hand also is with David, and they knew that he fled and did not disclose it to me.

But the servants of the king would not put out their hand to strike the priests of the Lord. Then the king said to Doeg, You turn and strike the priests. And Doeg the Edomite turned and struck down the priests. And he killed on that day eighty-five persons who wore the linen ephod. And Nob the city of the priests he put to the sword. Both man and woman, child and infant, ox, donkey and sheep, he put to the sword. But one of the sons of Ahimelech, the son of Ahitub named Abiathar, escaped and fled after David. And Abiathar told David that Saul had killed the priests of the Lord.

And David said to Abiathar, I knew on that day, when Doeg the Edomite was there, that he would surely tell Saul, I have occasioned the death of all the persons of your father's house. Stay with me. Do not be afraid. For he who seeks my life seeks your life. With me you shall be in safekeeping. Father, we thank you that all that was written of your dealings in the past was written down in order that through endurance and the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope. As we turn to the Bible now, we seek the help of the Holy Spirit, and we pray in Jesus' name.

Amen. Well, let me begin by just asking you, if you are ever perplexed by the circumstances of life and perhaps have found yourself saying things like, No one pays attention to my plight, I'm in a dungeon, and there is apparently no exit, to the extent that you've ever felt that or you do feel that, then you ought to be encouraged that you are in good company. And the company that you're keeping is certainly the company of David. Because the poems of David, which we have as our psalms, contain all kinds of sentiments—joys, struggles, trials—and deep expressions, honest expressions, of his concern. In the Psalm 142, in one verse, he says, I have no refuge, no one cares for my life. And then in the very next verse, he says, You, Lord, are my refuge. Now, what is happening there? Well, he is recognizing that his circumstances are such that in verse 4, I think it is, that's exactly how he feels, but he needs to remind himself, in verse 5, of what is actually true.

I think as we said last time that faith in this instance is bringing our emotions and our circumstances under the jurisdiction of the promises of God. Now, this chapter, 22—and I read it as carefully as I could—is fairly long, and it's fairly full. It ends on a note of comfort, a note of assurance, but we need, first of all, to consider the entire narrative. Let me say something about how we're going to go about this. The pace, hopefully, will move along, and the parts that I leave out—I leave out either because I don't know what they mean or because I think it would be good for you to do further study on your own, or perhaps a combination of the two. And what we will do is we will follow the narrative, we will follow the storyline, making points of application as they appear along the way. Well, let me ask you this, first of all. Why do you think the first five verses would make me think about Mark Knopfler and 1980s heavy metal band?

That's a question only for a very small group who are listening. The answer is because these first five verses introduce us to David, who is in dire straits and surrounded by a motley crew. Having escaped from Gath at the end of 21, he has gone to hide in the cave of Adullam.

This cave, archaeologists have located some sixteen miles southwest of Jerusalem. And in that cave he is joined, you will see there in verse 1, by his brothers and all his father's house—the family members all coming to link up with him. You will perhaps remember that his relationship with his brothers was not exactly cordial when he had shown up on the battlefield, and Eliab, his oldest brother, had said to him, I know how conceited you are, David, and how wicked your heart is. You came down only to watch the battle. And of course, there was no battle, and David took on Goliath, and the story unfolded from there. I wonder, now, in the cave, did the brothers joke about this?

I hope they did, because laughter is good medicine, not least of all when applied to sibling rivalry. Now, there's a family group here, but there is also a company, and an interesting company it is. Verse 2. It comprises those who are distressed, who are indebted, and who are described as bitter, discontented souls—and not exactly what you would call the crack troops. David Brooks, in The Road to Character, quotes from George Eliot's novel Adam Bede, when he says, In the journey through life we have to live with all kinds of different people, and they with us. These, quotes, fellow mortals must be accepted for what they are.

You can neither straighten their noses nor brighten their wit nor rectify their dispositions. And such would be the case there as the group assembles. And David would look upon these folks and say, Wow, what a group! But we're told, verse 2, that he became the commander over them, and there were about four hundred men. Well, you perhaps will recall that back in chapter 18 he had been demoted to become the captain of a thousand men, and now here he is with a four hundred group, a group of nobodies. Now, I hope in your mind you will immediately start to fast-forward. And this is the kind of thing I'm saying as you think about it on your own.

You probably will get there. It made me immediately think of Jesus calling the twelve. When he calls the twelve, they're not from the Ivy League—tax collectors, traitors, terrorists, and fishermen.

I'm not sure I want to call them a motley crew, but they are not, obviously, the people that you would look for. Similarly, later on, when Paul writes to Corinth, he says to them, If you think about the way that God works, just look at yourselves. And he says, You will be struck by the fact that there is an absence of the wise, the powerful, and the noble there in your church. Now, David, we are introduced to here not just as a commander but also as a caregiver—a caregiver for his parents. His parents must have been really old by now.

Time has gone by. And what he's doing in verse 3 and following is he's getting him out of harm's way, honoring his father and his mother. And he's going to do this, he says, at the end of 3, until I know what God will do for me.

He doesn't know how things are going to fall out, and so he says, Let's make sure that you folks are taken care of. The Moabites, of course, were enemies of Saul. And so, in much the same way that he went into Gath to hide among the enemies, so he secures his loved ones there as well. But there was also, as you will recall, a family connection.

Here again is some more homework. We read the book of Ruth, which precedes 4 Samuel. And as you read that, you will be perhaps forced to think about how it was quite amazing the way in which the triple bereavement of Naomi—you remember, her father, her husband died, and both her sons died. And yet, in that sadness, it led to the resolve of Ruth to come back with Naomi to Bethlehem, which led in turn to her marriage to Boaz, which led in time to the birth of David.

Because Ruth was David's great-grandmother. In my notes, I just scribbled down immediately a verse from a hymn. I know not what of good or ill may be reserved for me. Of weary ways or golden days before his face I see.

I know not. We don't know whether this will be a protracted disaster zone, whether this will suddenly turn to bright shining day. We do not know the circumstances of our own lives. And yet, we find here in the providence of God great assurance. And, of course, the care that David displays for his family is a stark contrast to the broken relationships in the family of Saul. Now, in verse 4 here, we have David no longer in the cave but in the stronghold.

It's hard to know just what is going on here. It would seem that he then went from the cave and into the stronghold. We don't know how long he was there, and if we had needed to know, then we would have been told. But we do know that he then became the recipient of a word from God, and the prophet Gad came to him. We meet Gad here for the very first time. He shows up later on, I think, in 2 Samuel and in Chronicles. And as a result of the word from Gad, David is on the move again. So in actual fact, although it says the heading of the chapter is David at the cave of Adullam, it's more than that, because he's moving now for the third time.

And this time he's going to move into Judah, which will present its own problems, but also it will be the place in which he reigns as king. And off he goes to the forest of Hereth. So David departed and went into the forest of Hereth. Unlike Saul, who by this time has been left to his own devices because the Spirit of God has departed from them, David is moving in accordance with God's Word.

He would have been glad to sing with us, The Word of God is light in my darkness, Hope for the hopeless, strong and true. So, verses 1–5, then, dire straits, and in amongst a motley crew. Then verses 6–10, a paranoid king and an Edomite called Doeg. The narrative, you will notice, between verse 5 and verse 6, shifts.

The camera moves now directly onto Saul. It will turn back to David before we finish, but for the next section, it is all Saul. Saul's ability to track David—if you like, his intelligence—has been rather poor.

And the last time he had any news of his enemy's movements was when David had fled to Samuel in Naoth in Ramah, which is back in chapter 19. But the picture that we are now given of Saul is once again—and incidentally, this chapter is a whole series of contrasts. I thought simply to tackle it in that way, here's a contrast, here's a contrast. I'll just point them out as they come.

But here is one. The picture that we're given of Saul is vastly different from that of David. Here, we're introduced to him, sitting at Gibeah, on the height, under the tamarisk tree, surrounded by his servants and with his spear in his hand. Those of us who are familiar with this story will realize that it is a good thing that the spear is in his hand, because he has been used to letting it go from his hand as he's tried a couple of times to nail David to the wall and once to kill his son John.

If you were choosing a team to join, if you just came on these circumstances, the folks who were along with David and then the apparent might of Saul, we would be tempted, most of us, to say, I think I'll join the Saul team. That's the major leagues. He's a big guy, a tall guy. He's got servants. They're all in good position. And this funny little fellow, he doesn't seem to have much at all.

He's playing in the minor leagues. But of course, what we need to keep in mind is that David is the anointed and Saul is the rejected. Now, any news of David seems to set Saul off his rocker.

And once again, this is exactly what happens. Saul said to his servants, having discovered that David was in the offing, Let me say to you that when you think about what I can do for you—and this character, who is just a troubler for me, this son of Jesse—let me ask you, he says, do you think that he would be able to give you fields and vineyards? Do you think that he would be able to make you a commander of thousands and commanders of hundreds? And you have all conspired against me? Now, again, I wrote in my notes, when I wrote down, He won't be able to give you what I give you.

And then I wrote underneath it. That's a line from the devil, if there ever was one. That's what the devil comes and says to us. Why would you obey God? Why would you trust this Jesus? Why would you follow him at all?

Why would you get involved with such a motley crew as hangs around your church and your friends? If you come with me, I've got so much for you. Now, this, of course, had been a warning that had been sounded out back in chapter 8—I won't go back to it, but I'll tell you where it is—back in chapter 8 and in verse 14. And the warning was the warning that was given from Samuel concerning the king that the people asked for, who was the desire of the people but not after the heart of the Lord. And you remember—I hope some of you do—that he says, Now, if you get this king, this is what he will do. He will take these things from you. He will take your daughters and so on. And the vineyards and the olive orchards and stuff like that, he will give them to his servants.

Here we are, as he said. Do you think you could get servants and olive trees and so on from them? No. No. I'm the powerful one.

That's what he's saying. I'm the king of the castle. I can't believe what you people have done. Now, what does he say they've done? Well, he says, You've conspired against me.

You've kept information from me. None of you are sorry for me, that I am the hunted one, that he is the one, verse 8, who is lying in wait, as at this day. Which, of course, is the reverse of the case. It is Saul who is the protagonist. It is Saul who is lying in wait. Well, of course, none of that was actually happening. And the servants are silent.

It's kind of a bit of a rant, isn't it, where he just goes off and he does all of this? None of you is sorry for me. My son stirred up my servant. They're lying in wait, as at this day. I imagine just a silence.

Is it all looking at one another, saying, Do you want to say something? I'm not going to say anything. I'm not going to get into it.

Oh, but here we go. We wondered where when Doeg would show up. Right on cue, verse 9, Then answered Doeg the Edomite. Now, he's referred to as the Edomite three times in the chapter so that we might know that he is not part of God's covenant family. Now, the report that Doeg gives is largely true, but he leaves out parts. For example, he doesn't let Saul know that Ahimelech gave the stuff to David on the basis of the mistaken notion that David was serving Saul.

All right? He leaves out that part. He says he took these provisions, or he gave him those provisions, which he did. But the reason that he gave him the provisions is because David had said to him, untruthfully, I am on his majesty's secret service, as it were.

So he leaves out parts, and then he adds a part. He adds this part in verse 10. He inquired of the Lord for him. And then he says he gave him these provisions. When David reflects on this, you find this in Psalm 52. He speaks of one who he says, Your tongue plots destruction like a sharp razor, you worker of deceit, you love evil more than good. And I think Psalm 52 has a heading.

Yes, it does. Yeah, Psalm 52. To the choir master, a maskel of David, when Doeg the Edomite came and told Saul, David has come to the house of Ahimelech. And David, reflecting on that, writes in that way. You're listening to Truth for Life. That is Alistair Begg with a message he's titled, His Craft and Power Are Great.

We'll hear more on Monday. Often, as Alistair teaches, he invites us to open our Bibles so we can read it for ourselves and check to make sure that the teaching we're hearing is true to God's Word. If you don't own a Bible, or if you know someone who has never read directly from God's Word, let me remind you, we have a few copies of the ESV Bible in our online store today that can be purchased at our cost of $35. This is a high quality, large print Bible.

It's bound in top grain leather, sells online for about $200. Look for the ESV Bible and other quality Bible teaching resources on our website at truthforlife.org slash store. We are grateful for your support at Truth for Life that makes it possible for us to offer these resources at our cost and all of Alistair's teaching online for free. If you purchase a Bible today, you can pay your fellow listeners' generosity forward by adding a donation as you check out. When you do, we will say thank you by inviting you to request a copy of a booklet called Does the Old Testament Really Point to Jesus? This is an easy to read guide that will give you specific ways to see Jesus in the Old Testament. Ask for your copy of the booklet when you give a donation to support the ministry of Truth for Life at truthforlife.org slash donate, or call us at 888-588-7884.

I'm Bob Lapine. Thanks for studying God's Word with us this week. Hope you enjoy your weekend and are able to worship with your local church. On Monday, we'll conclude today's message and we'll find out why the evil work of God's enemies is not beyond the boundaries of his providence. The Bible teaching of Alistair Begg is furnished by Truth for Life, where the Learning is for Living.
Whisper: medium.en / 2024-04-26 05:08:32 / 2024-04-26 05:17:34 / 9

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