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A Story of Deliverance (Part 2 of 2)

Truth for Life / Alistair Begg
The Truth Network Radio
May 1, 2024 4:00 am

A Story of Deliverance (Part 2 of 2)

Truth for Life / Alistair Begg

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May 1, 2024 4:00 am

Despite knowing he was God’s anointed, David experienced fear and uncertainty. Christians aren’t free from these emotions either. So how can we encourage fellow believers? Learn from David’s best friend, Jonathan, 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 knew he was God's anointed and clearly experienced deep fear and uncertainty. Being a believer doesn't mean we're free from those kinds of emotions.

So how do we encourage fellow Christians in the midst of trials? We'll see today on Truth for Life as we learn from David's best friend Jonathan. Alistair Begg is teaching from chapter 23 of 1 Samuel. 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 has consumed with murder. We might just note in passing that sin distorts a man or a woman's thinking. Sin distorts our 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. And then David said, O LORD, 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? 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. You see, 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, and said, Are we really going to 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. Now, no comment is actually made here by the writer on the morality of the matter. Because think about it. Who are these people that are about to give him up? They're the people that he has saved by fighting against the Philistines. He can't even trust the people he saved. That ought to make you think about Jesus as well. Well, they could have protected David out of gratitude.

But apparently, fear of Saul was a greater motivator. After all, in fairness to them, think about Nob. Think about them having a council meeting. Now, what do you think we ought to do about this? I mean, we don't want to get on Saul's bad side.

Remember what happened in Nob. Someone in the meeting says, You need to tell me he has a good sign. Someone says, Good point. I think we'll stick with the program.

And then David and his men, who now are a number about six hundred, arose and departed from Keilah. I like that. I like it very much indeed. I like what is missing and obviously missing. What's missing? Well, apparently no consultation. No committee meeting. No gathering to reflect on the circumstances. No.

They arose and they left. Nobody's sitting around saying, Well, you know, why don't we just see how things unfold? No.

Dare I say it? No prayer meeting. No prayer meeting. You say, Wait a minute now.

No, I mean it entirely. You remember I've told you in past of an elderly member of my congregation in Scotland called Mr. Collins, the one who had that stick and who told me that if I ever said anything that was remotely heretical, he would come and take the stick to me? He was a very forthright man. And I remember him speaking to a group of young people, and someone was asking about something that was so clearly a violation of the purposes and plan of God. It was contrary to the law of God and to the tenor of Christian living.

And I remember he said to them, Listen, young fellow. Don't pray about it. Chuck it. Chuck it.

And there's something of that here. There's no time for a prayer meeting. Let's get out of here. And out they go. Saul then realizes that it's not going to come to fruition, and so his expedition is canceled and the extermination is delayed. And so out they go, back into the caves, the captain and his band on the run. And what is the explanation for the deliverance at this point?

There you have it. The verse we mentioned earlier, God did not give him into his hand. Well, the third deliverance, I suggest to you, in 15–18, is David being delivered from fear. You read verse 15, and you find yourself saying, Where is the good part in verse 15? David saw that Saul had come out to seek his life. So, in other words, he's living constantly under threat of his life.

He's in the wilderness of Ziph at Horesh. It really doesn't sound that good, does it? I mean… And I don't think it is. The little study I did on it, it's not the place that you want to go for your vacation. Certainly, I mean, if you like mentor headlands, you're not going to like the wilderness of Ziph, and that's where they were. It's really a very sad-looking picture, isn't it?

An inhospitable place. I don't know if David had had us soliloquy at this point, if we had heard him as he just got up in the morning and rubbed his eyes and looked out on the day. We might have heard him saying, How did I get myself into this? It seemed at first, when Samuel came and anointed me, that life was filled with such promise.

But this is just one disaster after another. And then, into the darkness, the light shines. And Jonathan—Jonathan, whom we know from the past—Jonathan, remember, who had taken off his vestiger, his indication of his princely rule, and put it on David on a previous occasion. Jonathan, Saul's son, rose and went to David at Horesh.

You see, there was a decisiveness about this, a determination about this. He got up, and he said, I'm going to go and find David. It's quite interesting, isn't it, that hatred towards David had essentially blinded Saul, whereas love for David shone, as it were, light on the pathway, leading him to his bosom buddy?

For Jonathan was David's best friend in the world. And he did what, in Christian terms at least, best friends seek to do. He strengthened his hand in God. Incidentally, I've chosen not to delay at this instance, but for yourself, there's another study here, and that is just to look at every time hands are mentioned.

It is, if you like, a handy study, because the hand of God, the hand of the Philistines, the hand of Saul and so on is worth considering. Anyway, he strengthened his hand in God. How did he do this? Well, he did it, first of all, by his presence. By his presence.

That's why the isolation of these days is so daunting, because the presence of one another really does matter. He did it not only by his presence but also by his exhortation. He said to him, Do not fear. To which David might have been apt to say, That's easy for you to say, Jonathan. I mean, if you'd been with me for the last while, you would realize that I am filled with fear.

I lie down at night hoping that I'm alive in the morning, and I get up in the morning, and I have to go and hide someplace different from where I hid yesterday. But you see, his exhortation is not simply a call, Do not fear, but it is accompanied by an explanation. And the explanation gives the foundation as the antidote to the fear itself. To say, just do not fear is not really any help to anybody at all. Well, okay, I'll try my best.

No. What does he say? Do not fear. Number one, because the hand of Saul won't find you.

He's not gonna find you. I guarantee you. Secondly, you shall be king. This is actually the first outright declaration on the part of Jonathan to David in this way.

It has been by inference all the way along. And in the narrative story of 1 Samuel, different parts of the journey along the way are building the understanding that that which had taken place in a secret anointing was going to come to fruition. "'I shall be next to you,' he says. You'll be the king, and I shall be next to you."

Sadly, that was not going to happen. But it is a wonderful expression of devotion. "'Hey, ain't it good to know? You've got a friend.'" And fourthly, he says, strengthening his hand. Saul, my father, also knows this. I know Jonathan may have said that he doesn't want to admit it.

He may not want to admit it, but he knows it. And then, strengthening his hand and strengthening his own, it says, and then the two of them made a covenant before the Lord. I take it that what happened was they simply reaffirmed what we saw quite wonderfully back in chapter 18. So he reminded David of God's promise, You will be the king. He encouraged David to let the facts overrule his feelings, so that in the deep, cloudy darkness, in the distressing, troublesome incidences of daily life, he's saying essentially to David, It's going to be very important, David, that you fly by the instruments. Please, don't try and make sense of what's happening here by looking out of the window.

You are lost in turbulence, and you are lost in cloud. Neither of the two of them were to know that this was the last occasion, this side of eternity, that they would be together. It makes it very poignant, doesn't it? Because there will be a last time when we're in the presence of our friends.

And that's why all of our hellos and all of our goodbyes really matter—the way we walk from a situation. We say, Well, you're sounding a little sentimental here, Alistair. Well, careful. Careful. Because it's not that sentimental coziness is what is expressed here. Some kind of touchy-feely thing. Oh, Jonathan and David… No!

No! Ralph David gets it beautifully. Encouragement from God for the people of God comes from the Word of God. Encouragement from God for the people of God comes from the Word of God. And then, finally, and quickly, deliverance that comes at the eleventh hour. And this is the story of the Ziphites.

The wilderness of Ziph is where the Ziphites lived. They come to Saul, and they say, We've got another chance for you to get your hands on David. And you can see that there in verse 20. Come down, O king.

I know you want to come down. We'll surrender him into the king's hands. And the response of the king there is actually pathetic, I think. And Saul said, May you be blessed by the LORD, for you have had compassion on me.

I read it that way, because that's the way it comes across to me. What a big… Well, this is not good. This is not good. He casts himself as the victim! I'm the victim! David's the fugitive!

David's the one you're trying to kill! Oh, thank you for taking pity on me. I'm sure you understand how difficult it is for me as the rejected, tormented king, you know? You see how sin really distorts?

You see how self pity invades a soul, even in the darkness? And so, verses 22 and 23, I don't know what his great concern is here. Maybe it's because he had to cancel his last expedition, that he doesn't want to have another one that results in nothing. And so he gives very detailed requirements. See where his foot is. Ask if anybody's seen him. I know that he is very cunning. Take note of all the places where he hides.

Come back to me with sure information. Then I'll go with you. Does this make you think of Herod at all? I just put in my notes, Herod! Remember that? To the wise men?

Go and search for him! And when you come back, then I'll be able to worship him too. Well, that wasn't the objective of Saul, but it's the same mentality as the spirit of the Antichrist. Both Herod and Saul opposed to the one who is the anointed king. And so they arose and went to Ziph ahead of Saul. Now, at this point, there is no further dialogue. This point is simply descriptive. So if you imagine, here's where the musicians really come into their own, where all that we're doing is we're seeing the scene unfold.

And the mastery of people who write movie scores is seen in something like this, so that we are helped by the way in which the music underlying the visual creates this sense of anxiety and pressure that we may not get unless we bow ourselves underneath it, unless we enjoy the story. Now, David and his men were in the wilderness of Mahon, in the Arabah to the south of Teshima. Saul and his men went to seek him.

And David was told, so he went down to the rock, and he lived in the wilderness of Mahon. And when Saul heard that, he said, Let's go to the wilderness of Mahon. And Saul was on one side of the mountain, and David and his men were on the other side of the mountain, and maybe Saul was trying to pincer move, and David said to his guys, Retreat! and was hurrying to get away from Saul. And Saul and his men were closing in on David, and his men to capture them. And now, just when the whole thing is gonna end at chapter 23, somebody comes onto the battlefield and says, Hey, we got a problem with a Philistine raid, and if you don't get out here now, Saul, and do what you're supposed to do, we're all dead men.

So Saul returned from pursuing after David and went against the Philistines. And therefore, that place was called the Rock of Escape, or it was called the Narrow Escape. The people would have picnics there in later years. And grandchildren would ask their grandparents, Why is this called Narrow Escape? And they would say, Oh, let me tell you, son. Let me tell you, a great thing happened here. What a terrific story!

Hmm. Stranger almost in fiction. And that's why David, when he reflected on it, as we read together, wrote, Strangers have arisen against me. Ruthless men seek my life. God is my helper. He has delivered me. And then it simply says, And David went up from there.

And he now moved into the region of En-Gedi. Now, let me just finish in a sentence or two in this way. Imagine yourself as part of that group.

The motley crew, as we've referred to it, is perhaps rather unkind, but they're described as not a particularly attractive bunch. You imagine that you're part of that, and now the eleventh-hour deliverance has come, and so we say, Captain David, Commander David, where are we going now? And David says, We're going wherever. Wherever?

Where is wherever? Follow me. You'll find out. Someone else in the group says, Hey, Captain David, you know, when I joined this group, I never bargained for any of this. David says, Don't worry. I've got your back. Someone else says, How in the world are we possibly going to get through this? Now, that's just the way that some of us may be feeling. Jesus, where are we going now?

Follow me. Jesus, I didn't realize that it would be rough like this. Jesus, how can we possibly get through this? You see, because here's what we're learning—or learn, I hope we learn—in laying down our lives to serve and follow the King, we join him on the path of suffering, knowing that he will keep us safe on the journey.

You see, none of us have the strength or the ability to get through it. The night is dark, but I'm not forsaken. For by my side my Savior will stay.

To this I hold. My shepherd will defend me. Through the deepest valley he will lead. Lord, meet us where we are today. And now, unto him who is able to keep us from falling, to present us faultless before the presence of his glory with exceeding joy, to the only wise God our Savior, be glory and majesty, dominion and power, now and forevermore.

Amen. Listening to Truth for Life, that is Alistair Begg wrapping up a message titled A Story of Deliverance. As we learned from today's message, Jonathan was able to strengthen his friend David by reminding him of God's promises and then encouraging him to let those facts overrule his feelings.

I'm sure all of us would like to be a friend like Jonathan, but you can't assure a friend of facts and promises found in the Bible if you don't know them for yourself. And that's why we teach the Bible every single day here at Truth for Life. It's also why we want to recommend to you a step-by-step booklet called How to Memorize Scripture For Life. If you've never memorized scripture, let me encourage you to start making this a part of your daily Bible study routine. There are many benefits that come from committing scripture to memory, like having God's Word on hand when you need assurance or when you want to lift up a fellow Christian or encourage a friend who doesn't yet believe.

This little guide makes memorization less intimidating. It gives you a day-by-day approach for committing sections of God's Word to memory. It even lays out a daily plan to memorize the entire book of Ephesians.

Yes, that's what I said, the entire book of Ephesians. Request the booklet How to Memorize Scripture For Life when you give a donation to support the Bible Teaching Ministry of Truth for Life. You can donate through the mobile app or online at truthforlife.org slash donate or you can call us at 888-588-7884. And if you'd rather mail your donation along with your request for the book, write to Truth for Life at P.O. Box 398000 Cleveland, Ohio 44139. I'm Bob Lapine. We're glad you've joined us today. With Saul and his men constantly hounding David, David's journey to the throne certainly hasn't been the easy road we might have expected for God's anointed. So why wouldn't David take advantage of a vulnerable moment in King Saul's life and take what was rightfully promised to him? Tomorrow we'll find out. The Bible teaching of Alistair Begg is furnished by Truth for Life, where the Learning is for Living.
Whisper: medium.en / 2024-05-01 06:49:50 / 2024-05-01 06:58:14 / 8

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