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A Story of Deliverance (Part 1 of 2)

Truth for Life / Alistair Begg
The Truth Network Radio
April 30, 2024 4:00 am

A Story of Deliverance (Part 1 of 2)

Truth for Life / Alistair Begg

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April 30, 2024 4:00 am

The Bible’s full of stories of trials and God’s deliverance. What’s our role in life’s battles? Why does God involve us? On Truth For Life, Alistair Begg considers the answers as we track David, God’s anointed king, on the run from Saul, the rejected king.



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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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All of us find ourselves fighting battles that ultimately only God can win.

So if He is all-powerful, why does He even involve us in the process? Alistair Begg tackles that question today on Truth for Life as he continues to track David, God's anointed king, on the run from Saul, the rejected king. Well, I invite you to turn with me to the Old Testament, to 1 Samuel, and to chapter 23. And I'll read from verse 1. 1 Samuel 23. Now they told David, Behold, the Philistines are fighting against Calah and are robbing the threshing floors. Therefore David inquired of the LORD, Shall I go and attack these Philistines? And the LORD said to David, Go and attack the Philistines and save Calah. But David's men said to him, Behold, we are afraid here in Judah.

How much more, then, if we go to Calah against the armies of the Philistines? Then David inquired of the LORD again. And the LORD answered him, Arise, go down to Calah, for I will give the Philistines into your hand. And David and his men went to Calah and fought for the Philistines and brought away their livestock and struck them with a great blow. So David saved the inhabitants of Calah.

When Abiathar the son of Ahimelech had fled to David, to Calah, he had come down with an ephod in his hand. Now it was told Saul that David had come to Calah. And Saul said, God has given him into my hand, for he has shut himself in by entering a town that has gates and bars. And Saul summoned all the people to war to go down to Calah to besiege David and his men. David knew that Saul was plotting harm against him.

And he said to Abiathar the priest, Bring the ephod here. Then David said, O LORD the God of Israel, your servant has surely heard that Saul seeks to come to Calah to destroy the city on my account. Will the men of Calah surrender me into his hand? Will Saul come down as your servant has heard?

O LORD the God of Israel, please tell your servant. And the LORD said, He will come down. Then David said, Will the men of Calah surrender me and my men into the hand of Saul?

And the Lord said, They will surrender you. Then David and his men, who were about six hundred, arose and departed from Calah, and they went wherever they could go. When Saul was told that David had escaped from Calah, he gave up the expedition. And David remained in the strongholds, in the wilderness, in the hill country, of the wilderness of Ziph. And Saul sought him every day, but God did not give him into his hand. David saw that Saul had come out to seek his life.

David was in the wilderness of Ziph at Horesh. And Jonathan, Saul's son, rose and went to David at Horesh and strengthened his hand in God. And he said to him, Do not fear, for the hand of Saul my father shall not find you.

You shall be king over Israel, and I shall be next to you. Saul my father also knows this. And the two of them made a covenant before the Lord.

David remained at Horesh, and Jonathan went home. Then the Ziphites went up to Saul at Gibeah, saying, Is not David hiding among us in the strongholds at Horesh, on the hill of Helela, which is south of Jeshima? Now come down, O king, according to all your heart's desire to come down, and our part shall be to surrender him into the king's hand.

And Saul said, May you be blessed by the LORD, for you have had compassion on me. Go, make yet more sure, know and see the place where his foot is. And who has seen him there? For it is told me that he is very cunning. See therefore, and take note of all the lurking places where he hides, and come back to me with sure information.

Then I will go with you. And if he is in the land, I will search him out among all the thousands of Judah. And they arose and went to Ziph ahead of Saul. Now David and his men were in the wilderness of Mahon, in the Arabah, to the south of Jeshima. And Saul and his men went to seek him. And David was told, so he went down to the rock and lived in the wilderness of Mahon. And when Saul heard that, he pursued after David in the wilderness of Mahon. Saul went on one side of the mountain, and David and his men on the other side of the mountain. And David was hurrying to get away from Saul. As Saul and his men were closing in on David and his men to capture them, a messenger came to Saul, saying, Hurry and come, for the Philistines have made a raid against the land. So Saul returned from pursuing after David and went against the Philistines. Therefore that place was called the Rock of Escape. And David went up from there and lived in the strongholds of Engedi.

Amen. I have entitled our study A Story or a Song of Deliverance. I suppose it could be stories, it could be plural, stories of deliverance, because there are four deliverances here that we want to notice, and I hope that might be a help in guiding us along. When David reflected on the circumstances that are described here, he wrote a song, and we read part of it in Psalm 54. And he says there, reflecting on what we are now about to consider, I will give thanks to your name, O LORD, for it is good. He has delivered me. He has delivered me.

Now, we come to chapter 23 with, as it were, our minds still at the end of chapter 22. And I hope you will recall that we ended with that striking contrast between Saul's statement, made to Ahimelech, You shall surely die—that's in the sixteenth verse of 22—and the promise of David in verse 23 of chapter 22, With me you will be safe. In the presence of the shepherd king, there is safety. Because we have already discovered that David is the Lord's anointed. He is, if you like, the Messiah in process. One day, as we have sung, David's greater son will fix his royal throne, but at the moment, he is the Christ. He is the anointed one. He is the one on whom God has set his heart to be his king. And as a result of that, those who find refuge in the king enjoy the same favor and the same protection that he himself enjoys.

Now, let me just fast-forward parenthetically as it comes to mind. That is why, when we say that to be in Christ means everything and to be then in Christ means that we ultimately cannot die, that we will face the physical transition from life into eternity, but in Christ, because we are in the framework, in union with the shepherd king, we enjoy the same protection that he himself enjoys. Now, in contrast to that, of course, Saul has been rejected. From him the Spirit of the Lord has departed.

You need to go back to chapter 16 and read how those verbs sort of classify his experience, this rejected-as-king. The Spirit of God has departed from him, and now he is a tormented soul. And in his torment, he is fixated on killing God's king.

And that's actually the whole story here. It is the rejected king in pursuit of God's anointed king. And as we said last time, he really provides us—Saul does—with a picture of the Antichrist, small a. Because to be Antichrist is to be opposed to God's king.

And whether that opposition comes in a person or whether it comes in an institution or whether it comes in a worldview, that is what it is—setting itself up in opposition to the Lord. And what we discover is that Saul, by this point in his life, has really no other purpose for his existence other than the elimination of David. That's how he's going to spend the balance of his life—trying to get a hold of God's anointed king. And one sentence that falls almost in the middle of this chapter, there at the end, a final sentence of verse 14, gives to us really an apt summary of what's going on.

You see it there. And Saul sought him every day, but God did not give him into his hand. Now, with that, we come to deliverance number one, which in verses 1–5 is a deliverance for the inhabitants of Calah. Now, I take it that what is described here in these opening verses was taking place while Saul was wreaking havoc in Nob.

If you think again in movie terms, you're watching the movie, and the events are unfolding, we've seen what has happened in Nob, and then the movie continues, and all of a sudden we are in Calah, which in actual fact is to backtrack, is to fill in, because this, I take it, has been happening simultaneously. So here you have Saul in all of his aggravation, destroying the priesthood, while David, the anointed king, is dealing a blow to the Philistines. Now, if we've been paying attention, we know that Saul was charged with the responsibility. The exercise of his kingship was explained in some measure in just a sentence, He shall save my people from the hand of the Philistines.

You have to go all the way back to chapter 9 for that. So, Samuel is told, Set Saul apart. And one of the things that he will do is he'll take care of the Philistines. Well, in actual fact, he's not taking care of the Philistines, but in this case, David is doing what Saul should be doing.

Now, how does he do it? Well, wise men say only fools rush in. And you can see here that David is not a fool. He inquires of the Lord. Now, sometime in your home Bible study, you can have a discussion about how this is taking place. You may ponder the possibility that the prophet Gad, to whom we were introduced at the early part of chapter 22—perhaps he is still around—however God communicated with David, he communicated clearly with him.

And in verse 2, having inquired of the Lord, shall I go and attack the Philistines, the answer came back, go and attack the Philistines and save Calah. Well, that's all well and good, but he's not there on his own, is he? He is in charge of this motley crew, this strange group of individuals. A bit like a microcosm of it would be that Hoosiers team in the movie about the Indiana basketball team.

I have such a vivid picture of that. And what a strange little group they looked, and how impossible it seemed that they would be able to do anything of any worth at all. And that's exactly what this group looked like. Well, what they had to say to him was, Well, wait a minute, David, verse 3, we're scared enough right here where we are without getting into it with the armies of the Philistines. They are really a strange group made up of, as we saw last time, those who were distressed and in debt and some in bitter and soul and so on.

They just really didn't look like much of a group at all. Neither did the followers of Jesus with his disciples, and frankly, neither do we. And so, what does David do? Well, perhaps in gracious response to this pushback, he inquires of the Lord again, so that the Lord might give to them the answer. And the answer comes back, Arise and go down to Keilah. And then there is, along with the previous answer, an assurance, I will give the Philistines into your hands. Now, these fearful followers, then, have been responded to by God, and he has assured them that if they go in this way, then success will be their portion. And you will see there that the way in which this is explained in a sentence at the end of verse 5 is that David saved the inhabitants of Keilah.

Or you say, Well, that's interesting. I thought it was God who gave them into his hand. That's exactly right. God gave them into David's hand, and David saved the inhabitants of Keilah. He knew how this worked, because that is exactly the language that is used when he took on Goliath of Gath.

You remember, he looked him—I was going to say in the eye, but he kind of probably looked him in the chest—and he said to Goliath, The LORD will deliver you into my hand, and I will strike you down. That's it. That is it.

That's it in Keilah, and that's it in Cleveland. The LORD delivers and enables those of us who serve to see salvation brought about. Well, then we go from verse 6 to verse 14, where we find a deliverance, this time for David—a deliverance from the hand of Saul. Now, Abiathar, whom we had met at the end of chapter 22—apparently the sole survivor of the brutal destruction, where, you see, back in 22, Doeg the Edomite struck down the priests, killing on that day eighty-five persons who wore the linen ephod. This was a linen garment that was part of the priestly uniform, if you like. The high priest had a particular one which contained in it the Urim and the Thummim.

I'm not going to delay on this. You can deal with this just with a concordance on your own, and it will give you a profitable afternoon if you're looking for something to do. The Urim and the Thummim was simply one of the means that was used at this point in history for the people of God to discern the direction of God. And actually, if you think about this for a moment here, this whole idea of God communicating with David, you realize that we really are not sure exactly how all this really works. And when we're tempted to be sidetracked by that, a sentence like this from our good friend John Woodhouse is helpful, where he writes, Bible writers are interested in the fact and the content of divine revelation, seeing it far more important than the mechanism by which the revelation was given.

Now, that seems to make a lot of sense, doesn't it? That the fact and the content of the revelation is more important than the mechanism by which it came. But verse 6 is clearly important. When Abiathar the son of Alimelek had fled to David and Keilah, he had come down with an ephod in his hand.

I probably would imagine that it was the ephod that had been his father's, and now he appears. Is that important? Yes, it is important, because it is going to be by means of that Urim and Thummim that more of David's questions are going to be answered. Now, in verse 7, Saul knew that David had come to Keilah, and he does not rejoice in the victory over the Philistines. It doesn't say, And Saul discovered that David had come to Keilah, and in Keilah he had dealt the Philistines a massive blow, as Saul is supposed to be the king who will deal with the Philistines. There's not even a mention of the Philistines.

Why? He can't rejoice in that victory because he is consumed with murder. We might just note in passing that sin distorts a man or a woman's thinking. Our actions are the product of our thinking. And if you look carefully at the text, you will realize that Saul, who is a murderous tyrant, is so messed up by this point that he can actually view the things that he's doing and is about to do as coming from the hand of God. I resist the temptation to pause and give you a litany of such statements made to me as a pastor over the last forty years or so as people have sat beside me and said, Oh, but you don't understand. God is very happy if I would do this. Surely God is at work in this. God wants me to do this," and so on.

No. No, sin, you see, distorts the thinking. Oh, well, we've trapped him, he says. And so, in verse 8, he summons all the people to war. And at the same time, David has been made aware of this plot. And so, what does he do?

Well, he does what he does. He inquires of the Lord. Bring the ephod here. You haven't just come down here for nothing, he says to Abiathar. I'm sure in the purposes of God he has saved you, he has brought you here.

You're the man for the moment. Get that stuff out of your lin and ephod here, and let's ask God what we're supposed to do. Bring it here. And then David said, O LORD, the God of Israel. The God of Israel.

God is the God of Abram, Isaac, and of Jacob. This is not some personal little skirmish between David and Saul. No, you are the God of Israel. Your servant has surely heard that Saul seeks to come to Keilah to destroy the city on my account.

Therefore, let me ask you this. Will the men of Keilah surrender me into his hand? Will they give me up? And will Saul show up?

That's his twofold question. Will they give me up, and will Saul show up? And you will notice that the Lord answers question number two at the end of verse 11. And the Lord said, Yeah, he's gonna show up.

He will come down. Then David asks the first part of the question again. Will the men of Keilah surrender me—notice—and my men into the hand of Saul? You are the God of Israel. You are the God of your people. These people that I am now the commander of—a motley crew, I recognize, David might have said—but nevertheless, you're the people that you've given me. This is it for the leader at any point.

The average pastor is an inadequate soul himself, and he is leading an inadequate bunch of people in his wake. These are the people you've given me. He must have said to himself many a time as he looked at them in the wilderness there, Are we really gonna do anything of substantial worth with this group?

And then perhaps he thought about himself. And the Lord answered, Well, they will surrender to you. They are going to give you up. You are listening to Truth for Life, and that is Alistair Begg with a message he's titled A Story of Deliverance. We'll hear more tomorrow. Our current study in 1 Samuel gives us a remarkable insight into God's providential work in and through the life of King David. We're also discovering how David points us forward to Jesus. If you'd like to hear this Old Testament narrative all the way from beginning to end, you can purchase the complete study of 1 and 2 Samuel on a single USB. The USB contains 110 sermons preached by Alistair, and it's priced at our cost of just $5. To purchase yours, visit truthforlife.org slash store. And I want to remind you today is the last day we're offering a booklet called Does the Old Testament Really Point to Jesus?

It's available for a donation. This little booklet is quick to read. If your Bible study group has plans to study an Old Testament book, this booklet will be tremendously useful, tying the Old Testament together with the New Testament. It's also a great help to give to someone who is new to reading the Bible. Ask for your copy of the booklet today when you donate to Truth for Life through the mobile app or online at truthforlife.org slash donate. By the way, if you'd like to hear more Bible teaching from Alistair, you can join him in person on a New England cruise coming this September. He'll be teaching from God's word on a tour hosted by the Salem Media Group. This is a tour aboard a Holland America ship that will depart out of Boston, Massachusetts on September 21st.

The ship will stop for visits in Rockland, Maine, Halifax, Sydney, Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island, and Quebec City. For more information, visit deeperfaithcruise.com. Thanks for listening today.

Think about it. King David was God's anointed, and yet he clearly experienced deep fear and anxiety. How can we come alongside fellow believers and encourage them in the midst of trials? We'll learn tomorrow from David's best friend, Jonathan. The Bible teaching of Alistair Begg is furnished by Truth for Life, where the Learning is for Living.
Whisper: medium.en / 2024-04-30 05:17:17 / 2024-04-30 05:25:55 / 9

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